One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Give Us This Day" Tuesday Theology

A prayer for the scarce times and a theology of abundance...



“Give us this day,”
It reads.
But I’d like another one, please.
One that goes according to plan.
One that completes that to do list.
That runs on time,
And well,
Like Big Ben or
The Stock Market…

Never mind.
I want a perfectly well-oiled machine,
Giving pace and predictability,
But punctuated by joy,
wait
Not too much joy.
That’s exhausting.
And just a tinge of sorrow
So I don’t forget.

But not a boring day,
Or a hot day, or a rainy day, or a snowy day, or cool day,
Not a too breezy day!

And certainly not a busy day!
Or lifeless day!

Oh never mind.

Give me this day after all.
With friends,
And a medium sized love,
No ice.


Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Meditation: Remembering Sweetness



You cannot forget that bitter-panicked taste
Whether you were nine years old
Mouth agape as the
dog
was beaten
Or
If you put your head down
Because of the shame
in the religious school
that let in Jewish girl
whose name still causes you to pause
and remembered
when they
Then gave her detention
for missing "church"

Maybe you were the girl
or the boy beaten in the back of the locker room
Or the father welcomed with armed guard
upon arrival home for a mix-up
with papers
The father pulled from his children
or the woman in the hijab
waiting hours in a small room with flickering lights
to hear if you
passed the test
to live in safety
between shores.

You know the taste
the electric fear that runs alongside the tongue
Signaling injustice

And a few
know another taste
after the long struggle
It is the salty sweet edge of a hot cup of cocoa
the marshmallow ring
that remains after the liquid is consumed

It is justice
In a cold night
to hold a warm cup
be surprised when its empty
that there is still sweetness
at the edge.

Remind me in the bitter electric
of the cup I may yet pass
to my children.

Remind me in the night
To tell them the stories
of warmth
of resistance
of cocoa
and sweetness deep in the night
And dreams that were kind
And days we did not
fear.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sing It Out: The Songs of Movement

Song has been key to the movement, lifting the spirit in the midst of struggle.  So, sing it out today with Mavis' Staples!

No matter the jail cell, detention center, hope thin in the air at the airport hanger,
Late night orders of relief from the pen of the judge,
We will stand at the edge of the wall
In the midst of the pipeline ditch
Outside every official gerry-meandered and suppressed into office
The words echo across our minds
Etched into our hearts
"no one is an outsider who is within these United States"
No stranger,
No foreigner
No illegal
in the cause of humanity
and the birth of her freedom
So we hold on to one another
And we fight
And we sing in the struggle
We sing on



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday Sabbath: Let Somebody Help You



We are nine days in and I am wiped out.  No less than seven people offered to watch my children and yet, I have not called.

This is a marathon, not a sprint, beloved.

We each will have ways to contribute to the movement.  For some, this means offers of care and nourishment.  This is their ministry in the movement.

I grew up fairly self-reliant.  We could engage in all sorts of psychological analyses of why I do not ask for help, but more importantly, I know that I am not alone in this.  I will juggle with keys, four bags of grocery, and a child holding to my pant leg---all while a neighbor stands near me.  I am lousy at asking for help and even worse at accepting it.  As soon as someone offers assistance, I begin to create a mental note that I need to offer them something in return at some point.

Part of resistance is building economies of authenticity where generosity can be expressed without transactional expectation.  If someone gives you a gift, you do not have to "pay" them back.  It was a gift.  And it may be their only way of sustaining the movement.

So, beloved, your spiritual practice is simple this week: let somebody help you!

Now....I've got a few calls to make.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Fusion: We Need a Groundswell ASAP!!!



When Valarie Kaur, interfaith leader, said at the Moral Revival that we find ourselves "not in a time of the tomb, but in a time of the womb" I knew that I needed to know more about her work.  Kaur founded Groundswell, an organization committed to faith-rooted organizing and social justice.  For this Friday Fusion we lift up Groundswell and their incredible work.

In their own words:

MULTIFAITH SOCIAL ACTION TO HEAL AND REPAIR THE WORLD

Groundswell is an online community of people who believe faith can be a force for good in the world.

Start a campaign -

Campaigns on our site will be big and small, heroic and ordinary. If you have an idea to make your community, your school, your local playground, church, synagogue, religion, or your planet a better place, the tools are at your fingertips.

It's easy – and fast. Did we mention it's easy?

Starting a petition or campaign on Groundswell is super simple. And we'll guide you every step of the way. If you'd like to talk to one of us before you get started, don't hesitate to email us at info@groundswell-movement.org.

Here's what we do-

We provide a petition site for the multifaith movement for justice to take strategic social action to heal and repair the world – to stand for racial and religious dignity, to combat human trafficking, embrace full LGBTQ  dignity and equality, call for a moral economy, get money out of politics, prevent religious extremists from hijacking our faiths, and much more.

Check them out here

And when you show up for justice in the next few years (yes I said years, beloved) tweet your support for Groundswell, the movement, and the resistance by using #revolutionarylove



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Theology Thursday: We Are the Resistance


The driver and I locked eyes.  We could have flashed lights to one another, but that would seem extreme.

Instead, we nodded to one another, hit the brakes, and motioned to the woman at the side of the street.  She had been standing there-in the rain- for some time.  It was pouring, a cold New Jersey rain and  her hands were full.  No umbrella could be held.  She was soaked and shivering.  We stopped in the middle of a street without a cross walk or stop sign.  The driver in oncoming traffic and I held steady as the horns blasted us from behind for letting someone cross the street.  Through my wipers, I swear I could see the driver smiling back at me.  "We are the resistance," I thought.  Small and large acts of human kindness which hold worth and dignity against the storm.

Two days later I was protesting in a town adjacent to my own.  We were standing up for healthcare, specifically the affordable care act.  Teenagers drove by swearing a few less than creative obscenities at us.  Twenty minutes later they returned with a bottle of unknown substance that was thrown overhead.  My right side (ironic I know) was covered in an oily, brownish fluid that smelled like vinegar.  My first thought was, "Thank goodness it isn't urine."

After speaking with police, I drove home.  Relieved to feel the hot shower letting the hate-liquid run into the drain.

My wife asked if I was enraged.  I thought about the woman in the downpour.  I wasn't enraged.  I was tired.  I was determined.

I could let the teenagers take over my week of resistance, or could I find fuel in the stranger who inspired me to hold steady against the horns.  I choose fuel.  I choose the stranger in the storm.  I choose the resistance.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Witness Wednesday Wendy Adi Darko

I had the privilege of getting to meet Wendy Adi-Darko tonight, one of the millions of Americans who will be directly impacted by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  After meeting Wendy, I asked her if she would be willing to be our first Wednesday Witness.  Here she is sharing important wisdom.





Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Real Problem with the Prosperity Gospel: Why We Can't Afford Not to Care

In the late 20th century against the decline of mainline Protestant churches, the rise of evangelical churches became the new wave in Christianity.  Central to the message of this evangelical movement was an individualized salvation and reward-based religion.  The prosperity gospel, or the belief that material wealth is a signal of God’s favor, became one of the most prominent theological products of the late 20th century evangelical movement. 
Today, Joel Osteen preaches one of the more popular versions of prosperity gospel.  A quick perusal of Osteen’s books including Expect More reads like a how-to for prosperity gospel proponents.  In his book, it is clear that personal success is evidence of piety, and poverty is evidence of a lack of faith.  There are, of course, more complex variations where poverty may be understood as a God-given test to build one’s faith. In each variation, however, wealth is connected with God’s favor.
Many progressive religious people will easily critique the prosperity gospel, and yet, as a cultural expression of market theology, it is woven into our lives.  How many progressives speak of the “universe providing” with an Oprah-etic tone?  Or what about study after study that show, in the abstract, we attribute poverty to systemic cause, but walking by someone huddled in a train station, we almost always craft a personal narrative of their poverty.  Sometimes, this is done as unconscious self-protection method.  “It can’t happen to me, because I am not _____” At other times, it is the sneaky insidious nature of the prosperity gospel.
Market theology is woven into our globalized world.  It is understandable to want to believe in a world in which we can shelter ourselves from poverty, illness and death rather than living into our vulnerability and finitude as fuel for living.  It is understandable to want to control the fear with a belief in an invisible hand that guides the market.  I get it. And yet, it is dangerous- not just for “the poor”- but for all of us.
Consider the Affordable Care Act and the recommendation to replace it with Health Savings Accounts.  If you believe that your condition in life is a result of divine favor, then of course, you would support policies that allow for individuals to gain access to care for themselves.  If you believe that there is an “invisible hand” or some divinely-appointed power controlling the world with a karma calculator, then you would likely support policies that increase individualized mechanisms of control and access.  Even if you are “the poor,” if your belief is grounded in a prosperity gospel, you will consistently vote and act against your own interests but maintain alignment with your theology.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, by any measure.  The swiftness of repeal and the profound public support for the repeal is bolstered by market theology.  It is not an indifference toward people at-risk.  The real danger in market theology is that it diminishes empathy and social responsibility by emphasizing a sense of personal piety and individual control.  In this shift, the economies of authenticity are diminished and the creative capacities for people to develop subversive, egalitarian relationship is hindered.  In the prosperity gospel, the poor are excluded from God’s favor as a necessary sacrifice to the system of God’s justice.  
In that sacrifice, we all lose a bit of our humanity each time we are told the lie that somehow this is a necessary form of political tough-love, that people won’t really die, or that there is a choice between providing for the poor and supporting small business owners.  Smart politicians, like our president, understand all too well the power of market theology.  In subtle and direct ways, they will reinforce this theology.  And if, we are not clear, about how accidental our own birth and success or terrible trouble may be, and how subversive egalitarianism and generosity can be, we will diminish, in truth, the core of a revolution.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Meditation "Howl with the Wind!"

The wind is fierce this morning, shaking the windows in their frames.  We found our trash cans next door, smashing against the neighbor’s basement windows.  I awoke to the cries of a child from the room next door, “Mommy, Mommy!”   We huddled on the couch in blankets searching for a favorite cartoon.  The wind kept on blowing and the news alerts on my phone kept buzzing.  It is not a weather warning, but the confirmation that healthcare is gutted and trade deals withdrawn.  The wind howls on.  We huddle on the couch.  I feel numbed by the chatter of characters on the screen.  Sleep falls over my eyes and then I hear her whisper, “Mommy I’m scared.”

Nope, not going back to sleep. 

I take the small hand in mine.  “We’re going outside.” 

As the door flies open and the wind howls, I hear my small child once more.  This time—

She is shrieking with delight.


Give me the courage to walk into the wind.  And in the swirling madness to remember the joy of doing what is right, the exhilaration of courage exercised.  And mercy, beloved, don’t let me go back to sleep.