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Out of Context

4 Sep

“There is such an enormous gap between our words and deeds! Everyone talks about freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, and peace; but at the same time, everyone more or less, consciously or unconsciously, serves those values and ideals only to the extent necessary to defend and serve his own interests, and those of his group and state. Who should break this vicious circle? Responsibility cannot be preached: it can only be borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself.”
-Vaclav Havel – Czech poet, dissident, and prime minister (Exiles p17)

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
-Cornell West – Call and Response

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Stop the Traffik

4 Jun

Stop the Traffik

This is an organization ran by Steve Chalke. Might use a bit of the material in Crosswalk in a couple weeks.

I like the line “give hell no place to hide”…

Here is a bible study if you want to go deeper…

Jesus for President

30 Apr

Jesus for President-Shane Claiborne
Section III: When the Empire Got Baptized Part V

God Bless America (This ought to be fun since I work with a 501c3 non-profit church that has this painted on the side of their building)

Ched Myers does great work with the idea of “God Bless America” in his article “Mixed Blessing: A Theological Inquiry into a Patriotic Cant,…

In the Hebrew Bible, the imperative “Bless!” occurs only thirty out of the several hundred times the verb barak (“to kneel,” as before a king) appears. OF those thirty occurrences, the majority are liturgical exhortations to “bless the Lord,” mostly in the Psalter (e.g. Ps. 66:8; 96:2; 104:1). In other words, the act of blessing is most often directed toward heaven, not solicited from it! Only four times in the entire Hebrew scriptural tradition do we find requests in the imperative for divine blessing. Even more intersting (or troubling, from the point of view of the “patriots”) is the use of blessing in the New Testament. Of the forty-one appearances of the Greek verb eulogeoo (“speaking a good word”), only twice do we find it in the imperative mood. In neither case does it involve God. It does, however, involve us–and our enemies. In his famous sermon on the Plain, Jesus invites his disciples to “bless those who curse you”. These instructions are later echoed by the apostle Paul: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. The lesson is unmistakable: we would do much better to ask God’s blessing on the world, and to bless God by loving our enemies.p199

Where Jim Wallis Stands: The longtime activist on abortion, gay marriage, Iraq — and biblical orthodoxy

19 Apr

Jim Wallis was recently interviewed by Christianity Today. I have found his talks, books and other thoughts very helpful. He is usually criticized by liberals and conservative Christians alike. The ironic part is that he receives much of his criticism because of his willingness to try to see both sides of these seemingly opposite teams. Here are the introductory words to the article and the link to the whole thing:

Jim Wallis wants you to know he’s not a liberal. Yes, he’s been a chief critic of the Religious Right since its inception, gave the Democratic weekly radio address after the 2006 midterm elections, and has been an often-controversial voice for social justice since his early-’70s days at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. But, he says, his chief critics these days are liberals, not conservatives. “There is a Religious Left in this country, and I’m not a part of it,” Wallis said when he stopped by Christianity Today’s offices during his February tour for his latest book, The Great Awakening. Meanwhile, he says, theologically conservative evangelicals (especially young ones) are flocking to his message and are “deserting the Religious Right in droves” because it attempted to “restrict the language of ‘moral values’ to just two issues—abortion and gay marriage.”

Check out the full article here.

I Have a Dream

21 Jan

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.”* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of
Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sim Sweatshop

24 Dec

Seriously, go to this website called Sim Sweatshop. While it might be incredibly frustrating to play imagine if this was the reality of your life?!

After you have been frustrated by this game go over to World Vision or to Kiva and join others who’s desire is that the simulation sweatshop is the only kind of sweatshop that exists in the future.

Happy Black Friday!

23 Nov

I just discovered that this movie What Would Jesus Buy is opening today in the Bay Area. I really want to see it but I hate to deal with mall traffic on the road. Unfortunately that means the next 30 plus days are going to be full of people either giving gifts out of obligation or trying to find that perfect gift for the person that has everything.

As I sit here in Starbucks on Black Friday I’ve already noticed 2-3 times the normal amount of foot traffic in the store. I suppose the only way that you can get prepared to go into the red on your credit card is to buy an overpriced coffee. I know, hypocritical, since I am in Starbucks drinking right how. My only claim to immunity is that I will only pay for a house coffee and a fifty cent refill over about 4-5 hours. So in a way I feel that I am getting a deal.

I heard an estimate that today approximately 9.5 billion dollars will be spent. 6 Billion dollars could provide proper sanitation and clean drinking water for everyone in the world and in one day in American we have the capacity to spend 150% of that on ourselves. I suppose that talking about this can sound highly pessimistic and bitter but I would like to think that these thoughts originate from a different place within me. For me it is rooted in the fact that we live in a world that is very connected. At one time in the world there were people who were suffering all the way across the world and we could not see, hear or visit them But the world is different now.

It is flat.

We can do something.

It is in this flat world that I think the church has the ability to regain their integrity. It is in this flat world that it has an ability to regain its sense of mission. Imagine how odd it would be to the world if there was a certain people who in light of the circumstances of the world around them chose to do something with what they had been given? What if they decided not to consume what they had been given or give a third coat to a person that already had two but gave their coat to someone who had none? What if they were satisfied with a car that has a heater and a/c for fifteen to twenty thousand rather than going into debt over getting a car with all the fixings? What if their houses were smaller but as a result money was freed up so they were able to fund emerging businesses oversea so that they could have roofs over their head?

I think it would raise some eyebrows. Instead of politicians, trying to win the religious vote, using certain key words to appear faith friendly they might discuss how they can enable these people to continue to demonstrate this “good news” way of living to those around them.

Maybe cars wouldn’t have bumper stickers that say, “If money is the root of all evil (even though this is a misquote), why are church’s always asking for it.”

Perhaps when those who are voicepieces for the church spoke, people would listen. Maybe it would seem easier to submit to a God of love when they see His representatives practically demonstrate what love looks like.