Privilege

An Anarchist and Healthcare

I’m an anarchist. I’m a Christian. I’m a lot of things. I don’t find the need to have an opinion about everything as lots of Americans do. On some issues I’m opinion-less. But some things strike me as odd.

This up-coming election has brought up, once again, universal healthcare. I’m a capitalist and opposed to big government. But I also know “wrong” when I see it. (more…)

Zeitgeitsts

Future generations always demonize the ethical blinds of the past. It is easy for us to demonize the choices of Columbus or Andrew Jackson, because their culture treated other races as less than human. I am not excusing them, for there were others of their culture who did not accept those cultural blinds, but were able to accept all people as equal. Perhaps Stowe or Wilberforce had their own limitations, and were not as enlightened as, say, Archbishop Tutu or MLK Jr., but without the message and sacrifices of these, the latter would never have had the opportunity to speak.

All I am trying to say is that every age has their own cultural blinders that limit them from, what looks to outsiders, obvious moral choices. The ethical choices are always there, always a possibility, but the zeitgeist of each era causes a fog to appear, and only those who choose to clear the fog from their own minds are able to see it.

It would be easy, and probably profitable, to look back on history to see the zeitgeists of eons past to see how these limitations limit people’s obvious moral choices. What is more difficult is to apply this principle to our own age, to our own lives. What are our own cultural blinders that limit us to obvious moral choices? (more…)

Inspirational Lunch

I had a great lunch conversation with two young white men today who are feeling the pressure to “produce and provide” and are looking for alternatives to succumbing to this stereotype and just joining the corporate project. After lunch, I wrote this:

As I think about our conversation more in the understanding of my daily work at a social services agency in town, I am reminded on the necessity to invite anyone and everyone with whatever ethnicity or background (age, sexuality, religion, political persuasion) to participate in the work of healing (and radical positive social change and happiness creation) in our society. There is enough pain to go around. Everyone can have a hand in creating peace. I think a place like where I work, is where push comes to shove, and the realization that we can’t find enough people (of ANY race, class or gender) to facilitate the creation of a new society, and not enough people to persuade others to stop beating each other in inter familial violence). It feels desperate.

There were some black people back during the time of emancipation, who didn’t want to participate in the mainstream US society, and they opted to farm somewhere and live in peace with their indigenous neighbors. Just a random thought about what it would look like if instead of clamoring to be just like white people (when I say white here, i mean the white people that southern black folks encountered…rich, conservative, separatist, tea parties, cult of true womanhood, Victorian, etc) and be accepted into their culture and politics, we searched the alternatives that our indigenous (to Africa) pasts gave us. but we didn’t for the most part. (more…)

In the Shadow of Classist Ethnocentrism: Prophetic Voices Against “The Status Quo”

This is taking a new thread of thought from somasoul’s comments in the “Christarchy!” post Lora wrote (thanks Lora)
I find often on this blog a tendency to attack what is seen as the “Christian” status quo, readily identified as the following:

1) Rich

2) Sheltered

3) Spiteful of “sinners”

I will, of course, say “Amen”, “Amen” and “Amen”, provided the caveat that this refers mostly to North American suburban Christians – and, in the global scheme of Christendom, this is a small portion of the body of Christ.

I mention this because I sometimes wonder when we take on a prophetic voice to critique Christians for the above errors, if not this critique itself issues forth from a privileged and ethnocentric perspective. (more…)

Midwest going through hard times

The housing bubble has way-popped over here in Elkhart. There are a ton of houses around here for sale and no one with enough money (even with subsidies) to buy them. And last week an organization that supports housing for low-income folks had to close its doors as the result of circumstances, no operating costs and its board looking out for its own interests instead of the common good. So many foreclosures! :(

So for the folks in the Elkhart MVS unit, it’s been a tough week. But the South central community is still strong…and we believe, getting stronger.

One way we are getting stronger is that we are learning to support one another through these tough times. The NY Times said that foreclosure rates are on the rise, and if communities aren’t organized to pull together, the vacant houses will rip gaping holes in its social fabric. We are also reaching across ethnic boundaries, and learning together to look beyond capitalist assets to enrich our lives. Two examples of the budding community economy: (more…)

Advice time! What should I know or do before going to Bolivia?

It looks like I’ll be spending some time in a different hemisphere before too long. Details aren’t finalized, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be going to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for about four months starting in January. My church has been supporting an orphanage there for longer than I can remember. I’ve been hearing about this children’s home since I was 12 years old and seriously thought about going there at other decision points in my life. This time, I’m actually going and not just listing it in my options.

If we had smilies on YAR, I’d use the one where the character jumps up and down excitedly with a giant grin.

Since this will be my first trip to the Third Word—technically I was in central Jamaica when I was three, but I don’t remember it—I know I have a lot of mental work to do in the next two months. I can never be fully prepared. I expect to be changed a lot while I’m there. But there’s no reason I can’t start that personal process in the mean time.

What/who do my fellow YARs recommend I read, listen to, watch or talk to before I go? If you’ve been to Bolivia, or Santa Cruz, or even this orphanage (like Denver), what do you wish you would have known before you went? What should I pay close attention to while I’m there? What surprised you the most? What do you wish people would ask you about? (more…)

Violent Video Game as Church Recruiting Tool

I’m really sad today. I often become sad when I read the NY Times.

I wasn’t sure which article I should write an urgent post about, there were so many. Women are being destroyed in Congo as rape has become the most common tool of war and the crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. I was sure I was going to blog about that–as soon as returned to the computer from a session of weeping–crying out and pleading with God that people in every country would respect women’s bodily integrity. Here is that article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html?th&emc=th

But, I couldn’t write about that one because I got overwhelmed by the next article. Rape and pillaging in wars will never stop as long as long as people in the imperial center do things like spread the gospel using Halo3, a dichotomizing, bloody video game. The article is copied into this post. Here’s an excerpt.

Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”

Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church. “

HOW–with what words, passages, or guiding principles–can we speak to our christian “brothers and sisters” about this? YAR has been a community of support for speaking truth to power. Words of advice, comfort, or challenge as we welcome many more christians by way of accepting Jesus as their savior while they were aroused by the massacring and tag-team destruction they just did?

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Biblical Authority in the Global South

I am currently reading The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. It is a fascinating book and if you have a chance to read it, I would highly encourage it. You can also hear Philip Jenkins give a little bit of an overview of the book from his address at the Berkeley Theological Union.

I would like to share a few quotes for discussion. From the end of the the chapter “Power in the Book” which surveys contemporary African and Asian perspectives on the Bible and its striking conservatism in relation to Euro-American “scholarly” understanding of biblical interpretation, Jenkins writes:

By what standards, for instance, do churches decide whether particular biblical verses or passages carry special weight, or might be less authoritative than others? Except for the hardest of the hardcore fundamentalists, American Christians rarely believe that each and every verse of scripture carries the same degree of inspiration, and hence the same value. Instead, many assume an implicit hierarchy of texts, based on what is commonly viewed as the best scholarly opinion. So, for example, the assumption that St. Paul did not really write the Pastoral Epistles attributed to him – the letters to Timothy and Titus – means that these can be treated as less serious, less authoritative, than the apostle’s undoubted words in Romans or the Corinthian correspondence. To claim that “Paul didn’t really write this” consigns the Pastorals to a semi-apocryphal status. At one synod of the Church of England, a clerical presenter made the remarkable argument that since no scriptural texts prohibited the ordination of women, modern conservatives should not “set up artificial and inept lines that no one can defend”. Apparently, in such a view, the explicit prohibition on women’s leadership or teaching authority found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 no longer ecen counts as part of the New Testament. Opinions can differ about the authority that such a passage should command, but for many believers, it literally has been read out of scripture. (Jenkins, 40)

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Welcoming the Poor

It is almost impossbile for a minority culture group to express their opinion so that it might be heard.

As the racially and sexually segregated can attest, it is an uphill battle. Sometimes a minority cultural group has to insist upon expressing themselves, at which point they might be called “uppity” or a witch with a captial B. But they persevere, because they recognize that their opinion counts and that they are an important participant in the process of communication and decison-making.

However, just as most women and blacks a half a century ago had learned that it is a more peaceful life to just keep quiet and stay in one’s place, so most of the lower class has realized this as well. And there is more at stake for the lower class than the racially and sexually oppressed, because almost without exception they are physically and mentally weakened by their poverty, which makes expressing a differing opinion almost impossible. If they do express an opinion, half the time they are ignored, assuming they are having a “mental breakdown”. Of course, sometimes they are having a mental breakdown, and sometimes they are just being socially inappropriate (as determined by the ruling class) but it is still humiliating to be ignored. It is stressful to share a rejected point of view. It pushes ones buttons to speak what you think to be clearly true and to be treated as if your point of view just doesn’t matter. (more…)

Father’s Day

It’s father’s day, and I wanted to post something that was shared at my church service this morning that I found helpful to hear. I recognized it is limited in it’s patriarchal view of God, and I recognize that as men we have failed women in seeing them as equals (as well as failed them in many other ways). And I recognize that the attribute described are not limited to males, and that not all of us will agree with what “maleness” means. But this is not what this post is about.

This post is to the guys out there to say, it is OKAY to be male. Because of our historic power imbalance in our culture with our female counterparts, we have a huge responsibility to figure out what it means to be radical Anabaptist men seeking after what God intends for us while rebuking harmful stereotypes.

This is a day set aside to honor fathers. But we at Dayspring want to extend this honor to all men. Today, we want to celebrate your masculinity…your manliness that was patterned after the divine image of our Heavenly Father.

We rebuke stereotypes that hurt and hinder you…. that seek to destroy your competence and question your value.

We celebrate with you instead the Christ-centered model of manhood that embraces your sense of adventure, your love of nature and the wild, your need to do battle for justice and your call to protect. We celebrate by echoing the voice from Heaven that Jesus heard at his baptism:
“This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

If you’ve seldom heard those words from your earthly father, we ask that you hear them with your heart now:
“This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”

Supreme Court Hates Women

From the New York Times: Justices Limit Discrimination Suits Over Pay.

From 2001 to 2006, workers brought nearly 40,000 pay discrimination cases. Many such cases are likely to be barred by the court’s interpretation of the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that employees make their charge within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.”

In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.

According to NPR, one of the cases cited as “precedence” for this ruling has been overturned by congress. If you find the details, link it up.

Faith: Nature or Nurture? Is it a choice? Can people change?

I was watching CNN today as I was eating my lunch (black beans and saffron rice with piccadillo and spinach salad – awesome) and they were playing a rerun of an Anderson Cooper special on Christianity and faith. One portion of the show touched on recent findings that a person’s capacity for faith and spirituality may be genetically related. The story was based on the idea proposed by Dean Hamer in his book, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes. I haven’t read the book, and probably won’t but I did check out a couple reviews of it (Scientific American and Washington Post).

It turns out that Hamer’s science is a little dodgy as it is full of caveats and contradictions and has yet to stand up to the rigors of peer-review. Maybe he should have done a bit more work before publishing, but that’s not really my point. Whether or not Hamer’s work is grounded in what we like to think of as “reality,” it brings up some interesting questions for discussion. And since the blog has been spookily quiet for about two days, I thought I might stir the pot a little (I’m sure you’ve all realized by now that I enjoy stirring it up). If you are game, follow me down this rabbit hole and we’ll see where it comes out.

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Who needs hate crimes protections?

The US House of Representatives just passed hate crimes legislation that would extend hate crimes protections to be based on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to current protections for race, religion, color, and national origin. It still has to go through the Senate and then face veto by you know who.

The thing that really blows me away is that people are actually against this, and that those people happen to call themselves Chrisitians. Now, if folks have a problem with the idea of hate crimes protections in general, eh, I would be happy to discuss that. But the idea that some groups of people should get protections while other groups (groups which happen to experience a disproportionate amount of hate crimes) should not is completely ridiculous. As it happens, the religious right is coming out en force against hate crimes protections for lgbt people. I linked this article about this in an earlier post.

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“the homosexual lifestyle” – a rhetoric of bigotry

The term “the homosexual lifestyle” has appeared a number of times on this blog in the last few months. I continue to be perplexed every time I see it and hear it in the church or society. Along with all those other terms that are used against the lgbt community, it is a term that somehow carries enormous weight and meaning in our society despite the fact that it really should not be considered a valid term. My problem is that I don’t often hear this term (or other similar language) challenged for what it is – bigotry. I’d really love it if this ridiculous language would stop, both on the blog, and in church and society.

The Homosexual Lifestyle. The Homosexual Agenda. Against Family Values. Against God. Unnatural. I’m sure you can think of some yourself. Wasn’t the same of rhetoric used against other hated people in the past? Jews? Communists? Multiracial couples? Check out this comparison between the Anti-Semitic language and propaganda used by the Nazis and Anti-Gay language and propaganda seen today. (more…)