Monday, June 21, 2021

The Racial Wealth Gap and Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

    Earlier this year, a reader suggested we share an "article with links to more than 150 Black-owned businesses" and pointed out that - 

"The events of last summer (BLM protests and COVID-19) saw many people rally to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, since summer ended, people forgot to keep sharing and supporting these businesses."

    I appreciated Emma sharing this. Last March, ProPublica published an article about "How the Pandemic Economy Could Wipe Out a Generation of Black-Owned Businesses" by Lydia DePillis, which points out the real and ongoing impacts of racial and economic injustice on Black entrepeneurs.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Getting Free: Reflections on Religious Abuse and Trauma

CW: abuse and trauma, including: religious and spiritual abuse; racism and racial violence; and sexual and child abuse. 

My Own Path

          Several years ago, I was in a small group at an ecumenical Franciscan retreat. We were sharing about our personal journeys, grieving the difficult and celebrating the beautiful ways our lives had unfolded.  It happened that I was the only person in the group that grew up in a conservative church, and so, when my turn came around, they had questions. It is not a conversation I have often, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, and I shared freely. It was only about halfway through their questions that I realized that the group had become increasingly quiet, and that some of their jaws had almost reached the floor. I was confused, because I was not sharing anything unusual for people who grew up in my religious community. I knew I was not sharing happy stories, but I didn’t expect them to be shocking. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Our Whole Selves: May Day, Mutual Aid, and Community

           Yesterday, we paused to celebrate International Workers’ Day. It commemorates when, on May 1, 1886, “more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history.”  (https://archive.iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday/ )

    It is difficult to overestimate the importance of workers and the labor movement, not just in our economy, but in our communities. The eight hour workday changed not just our factories and offices, but also our homes and free time.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dismantling Supremacy, Claiming Liberation

 “What He Had Been Trained to Do”

           This week, we witnessed the opening days of the trial of Derek Chauvin, and I’ve been asking myself: what does it mean to work for justice in the shadow of the United States’ history of police violence, White supremacy, and systemic injustice? We have felt anew our grief and outrage for the murder of George Floyd, even while we are reminded again that we live in a society where many people refuse to concede that a person in authority can abuse power. They refuse to agree that all people, including law enforcement officers, should be responsible for their actions. In their minds, all police violence is justified, especially if the officer felt fear for their life – and especially, to put it plainly, if the victim of police violence is not White, and especially if the victim of police violence is Black or Indigenous.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

"We Can Get There"

           A Franciscan sent me a little booklet in the mail last week – “The Salvation of Zachary Baumkletterer” by George Mavrodes and printed by the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 1976. In its brief 31 pages, we learn about how Zachary, our mild-mannered hero, becomes convinced that the most responsible course of action he could take to oppose global poverty and injustice is to model his lifestyle as closely as possible to the conditions of the very poor: owning only one set of clothes, for example, and eating a starvation diet. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t acceptable at all in his comfortable, middle class professional circles of society.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Beyond Toxic Propaganda: Education, Memory, and a Better Future

I originally offered these reflections on February 6, 2021 for a podcast of the Community Christian Church. They are lightly edited. 

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Wisdom Lesson: 

“If it is love that you truly desire then set out at once on the task of Seeing. This requires calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences. If you achieve this kind of honest awareness of the other and yourself, you are likely to experience terror. Think of the terror that comes to a rich man when he sets out to really see the pitiful condition of the poor, to a power-hungry dictator when he really looks at the plight of the people he oppresses, to a fanatic, a bigot, when he really sees the falsehood of his convictions when they do not fit the facts… That is why the most painful act the human being can perform, the act that he dreads the most is the act of seeing. It is in that act of seeing that love is born, or rather more accurately, that act of seeing is Love.”              -Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love

Monday, December 28, 2020

"To make rich people poorer, and poor people more comfortable"

I delivered an early version of these reflections at the Community Christian Church on December 26, 2020. 


***

One of the fascinating aspects of cultural traditions, including religious traditions, is how they have been used in both healing and harmful ways. If we return to an insight made by the feminist and liberation theologian Dorothee Solle in 1984, we can group our religious expressions into two main categories, what she called the “double function” of religion:

as apology and legitimation of the status quo and its culture of injustice on the one hand, and as a means of protest, change, and liberation on the other hand.” (“The Christian-Marxist Debate of the 1960s,” Monthly Review, 36 (July-August): 20-26).