How can people who claim to follow Jesus hear the cries of the wounded, who’re forced to live in fear and squalor, adjusting themselves to our view of a safe and just world . . . how can we hear those cries and think only about the most effective way to drown them out—just because we find those cries inconveniently challenge the world we’ve built for ourselves, cries that plead with us to adjust ourselves to a different world than the one we’re comfortable with—to see things through someone else’s eyes?Read More
Good Friday and Easter don’t mean that now God can finally love us unqualifiedly because God’s tricked Godself into thinking we’re pure; it means that God loves us too much to let the power of subjugation and oppression be the final word—that in fact, God was determined through Jesus to shine a spotlight on a new world in which peace, justice, and love inevitably and irresistibly overcome violence, injustice, and hatred.Read More
I mean, how else are you going to get through to people who’ve inoculated themselves against the encroachment of the reign of God’s peace and justice—especially since the way Jesus asks people to live stands as a rebuke to the very comfort and stability so many people cling to?Read More
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow Jesus after hearing of the recent decision from our friends in the United Methodist Church. Specifically, I’m thinking about what hearing Christians who’ve dismissed the dignity and faith of LGBTQ people must sound like to LGBTQ people when those Christians talk about the “love of Jesus.”Read More
A spiritualized messiah—apart from doing violence to Jesus’ understanding of himself as a prophetic voice announcing a new reign to rival the claims of existing reigns—makes possible the kind of otherwise decent people who, when faced with injustice and tyranny, don’t have the strength and courage to say “no” and “wrong.” However, Jesus the lousy messiah is the perfect model for producing people … able to resist any authority that threatens those who cannot help themselves.Read More
All I’m claiming is that people who follow Jesus—a man killed by plutocrats for challenging a similar system—don’t have any real stake in propping up a plutocracy. Indeed, they have every incentive to undermine such a system.Read More
But this investment in correct belief over faithful embodiment of Jesus’ teachings has begun to wear thin—at least among those people who’ve read the Gospels, but who fail to see Jesus’ most publicly pious followers as authentic examples of Jesus’ teachings.Read More
Upon celebrating my eleventh anniversary at the church I pastor, it seemed a good thing to set down some of the most important lessons I’ve learned by serving a congregation that “gets it.” Here are seven of them.Read More
Because, you see, the baby who got the authorities worked into such a murderous lather is the same outlandish Jesus whom those same authorities eventually executed as a political revolutionary. The manger and the cross are linked as symbols of God’s cosmic upheaval of the present world and its systems of domination.Read More
Consequently, to imagine myself as Abraham—or Sarah or Lot, for that matter—is to forfeit an opportunity to be exposed to a different, harder truth that the text has to show someone who lives the kind of privileged life I do.
But while I haven’t ever had to pull up stakes and head into the unknown, I have lived in a place for which other people have left their own countries and the houses of their parents on nothing more than faith in a promise. I’ve lived my whole life in a land that has been the often inhospitable destination for people just like Abraham and his family.Read More
Just saying, “I’m not an Islamaphobic, xenophobic, homo/transphobic, racist” isn’t convincing anyone but those who already agree with you—no matter how sincerely you believe it to be true. Your actions are the best argument for who you really are, what you really believe. Right now, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, there are a bunch of folks in the world who think you and the God you claim to serve hate them.Read More
Viewing giving as an act of justice to which the giver is obliged, it seems to me, helps correct the imbalances of power by enjoining those who are first to be last, so that those who are last may be first.
We cry out with the voices of those who've been cast down, cast aside, and cast out. Hear our prayers. But even more importantly, hear theirs.Read More
The words of communal lament, the words we need to rediscover in this dark time, begin with the plea: “How long, O Lord?”—which is a way not only of expressing our distress, but of being honest about the fact that the world feels too much like God has abandoned us, like God has left us to reap the harvest of violence and hatred that have been sown while we remained silent.Read More
You can be a racist without being a bigot.
I can hear the tortured cries of indignation: “Why does it always come back to race?”
The communicants of the White Saints of the Church of the Perpetually Aggrieved raise their protestations of umbrage to the heavens. From the perspective of the affronted, having their motives so regularly questioned justifies their reflexive sensitivity on the subject. (Their defensiveness about being called racist, however, seems to outstrip their outrage at the existence of racism itself. But, you know, whatever.)Read More
How is it that after all these years so many who claim to follow Jesus still find themselves propping up a system in which the vulnerable have to cry out to powerful, self-protecting men for a little justice?Read More
But maybe what we need most right now is some nervous politicians, politicians scared of our outrage, afraid of what we’re capable of doing in the name of justice and love.Read More
And the last step, the pièce de résistance? Get as many white evangelicals as possible to chime in: “This is what God wants. God put this president in office. And God is blessing his efforts. If you want a r̶a̶c̶i̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶p̶u̶r̶e̶ God-fearing country, you’ve got to be willing to s̶a̶c̶r̶i̶f̶i̶c̶e̶ ̶b̶r̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶c̶h̶i̶l̶d̶r̶e̶n̶ make some sacrifices.”Read More
Look, I don’t care how many Jesus fish you’ve got on the back of your car, or how many times you’ve sung Shine Jesus Shine, or how stirringly you can talk about orphans in foreign countries, if you refuse to help the people you have it within your power to help, then the Jesus you’re so publicly selling doesn’t have anything to do with the one found hanging out with lepers, giving sight to the blind, and holding the hands of the untouchables in the Gospels.Read More
If you have power, you can either use it to safeguard the interests of the rich and powerful or advance the interests of the poor and powerless. If you happen to follow Jesus (a man executed by the state as a threat to the interests of the rich and powerful), as most of our politicians in Frankfort claim to do, you can’t pursue the former at the expense of the latter and still believe Jesus is smiling down on you.Read More