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Social Justice

As if All is Well in the World

As if All is Well in the World

Again I am sitting in this little farm house on the banks of the Choptank River, just outside of Easton, MD. The calm is as amazing now as when I was here in February for a few days of writing. There is no snow today, but the water is glass. Hardly a sound breaks the still, humid air. 

It’s as if all is well in the world.

Transcending a Sad History

Transcending a Sad History

The President’s most recent ban, preventing transgender persons from serving in the military, is apparently based on concern for the “tremendous medical costs” associated with these enlisted troops. I don’t know what costs are involved. It is difficult to explain complex subjects and difficult decisions in 140 characters. Some subjects (and all people) deserve a more thoughtful and detailed discussion.

Repeal, Replace: a not funny joke

Repeal, Replace: a not funny joke

Steven Wright was a dead-pan comedian. Never cracked a smile. Never altered his monotone delivery. And when each dry joke finished, you had to wonder why it was funny, or if.

“I woke up this morning… went downstairs… Someone had stolen all of my furniture… and replaced each piece with an exact duplicate of itself.”

This joke, which isn’t really funny, except for the delivery, reminds me of the current debate over health care.

Is God is Calling You to be an Angel?

Is God is Calling You to be an Angel?

As this refugee crisis continues to speak to your heads, maybe God will speak to your heart, and you’ll help us respond as a church? Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13.2). 

A Different Set of Rules

A Different Set of Rules

I was away last week, taking some study leave to complete a couple writing projects. I’m holed up in a little farm house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. My colleagues and I awoke the first morning to three inches of fresh snow. This fertile land was silenced in white, a gray steam rising off the Choptank River, which crawled underneath the lifeless cold a hundred feet away.

I March With Them

I March With Them

After a few people asked why I was going to participate in the Women’s March on Charlotte, and why was it called a "March for Women" as opposed to a "March for All", I decided that I needed to respond. So I have taken portions of emails I wrote in response to those questions and turned them into this blog post. I am very well aware that everyone that marched will answer the question differently. I can only tell my story.  -Amy

I Must Be Present

I Must Be Present

It all went dark. 

My eyes instantly began burning and my throat felt like I swallowed a flame. I was able to open my eyes just long enough to see a hand reaching out for mine. Rachel, a young African American whom I befriended on my walk toward city center, had one hand covering her eyes and the other reaching out. I grabbed on tightly and assured her I was there.

Matters of Character

Matters of Character

Just recently someone told me he had become a Republican after the 1976 election of Jimmy Carter, because the 39th president of the land had destroyed my friend’s life-long commitment to the other side of the aisle. 

You don’t have to remind me of mortgage rates in those days and the Panama Canal and the Iran hostage affair.  I was only in elementary school, but I remember the news and have read some history.  Still, it always hurts me to hear people disparage one of the best men who ever held the office. 

I didn’t say one of the savviest politicians, most conniving strategists, or best deal-makers. I said one of the best men to ever hold the office.
 
Funny thing, I think character actually matters for our national leaders.
 
It didn’t matter when I was a 5th grader that a Christian Sunday school teacher from Georgia was running for the highest office in the land as a Democrat. I probably could not have told you what party he represented, and I certainly had no idea what a party platform was. What I knew was that he was a man who loved God and cared for other people.
 
Funny thing, character was all that mattered to a naïve southern boy who loved Jesus and America.
 
Last night “the only man who has ever used the presidency as a stepping stone to greater things” spoke to an interracial gathering of pastors. I can’t remember who said that, but it’s a high compliment to the indefatigable 91 year-old, who is using his “golden years” to continue traveling the globe to eradicate guinea worms in Africa and advocate for peace with world leaders and write 29 books and lecture from Harvard to Emory and be a father and grandfather to 22 and build Habitat houses for poor Americans.  

And then come home most Sundays to still teach his Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church.
 
That character thing is actually not so funny, and maybe Americans ought to steadfastly demand it of our leaders – especially since “party” matters very little these days. Most Americans admit their vote is usually cast against one person, rather than for the other candidate. 

Maybe Americans are looking for character, not platforms.
 
In his brief message to the New Baptist Covenant the Democratic ex-president inspired me again –not by his partisan politics, but by the content of his character. I wish I had that experience more often when I hear leaders speak.
 
Carter reflected on four years in office, when no bombs were dropped from any US military plane.  He discussed the extension of a war in Afghanistan that now represents the longest military engagement in US history. He commented that most current political rhetoric seems resigned to admit a footing of perpetual war.
 
He talked of the oligarchy we have become, especially in the wake of the “stupid” SCOTUS ruling called Citizens’ United. Money is all that matters when “legal bribery” is the name of the game, not “liberty and justice for all.”
 
He remembered the 15-minute inaugural address he gave and the only two promises he made to the US people: a promise to keep the country at peace (which he did), and to pursue peace for people around the world, and a promise to strengthen civil rights (both of which he is still pursuing tirelessly). And he observed how inconceivable it would be in today’s environment for a candidate of any political affiliation to mention any of those words in a campaign.
 
They say some things never change. Unfortunately, some things do.
 
So, change your party if you’d like, or change back if you must, but stick with character. In the end, it’s all that matters.
 

Salvation and the Common Good

Salvation and the Common Good

Why should we ever need to raise charitable funds to educate our children? To buy supplies and provide technology? Even to provide weekend snacks, if lack of nutrition is keeping a child from learning? We ought to want to educate our children, all of them.

It is the common good – even if we have to pay more in taxes to do it. 
 

The Power of Love ... and Revenge

The Power of Love ... and Revenge

Love is real. But so is the hateful power of revenge.

Or, maybe they are two sides of the same naked, human emotion, always warring within us, enduring all things – or inflicting all things – in a quest for submission and supremacy.

The Gospel Will Always be a Threat to Power

The Gospel Will Always be a Threat to Power

So today, governments are afraid of preachers, because the Gospel has always been a political narrative.  You only have to read the critiques by U.S. politicians and pundits of Pope Francis's comments on climate change and income inequality to understand the truth of this assertion.

Even a Neurosurgeon can say Embarrassing Things

Even a Neurosurgeon can say Embarrassing Things

Being a successful neurosurgeon is apparently no guarantee you won’t embarrass yourself in the national spotlight. I’m not sure which constitution Dr. Carson had in mind when he opined that no Muslim is fit to be the President. The US constitution guarantees freedom of (and freedom from) religion, and specifies that no religious litmus test shall deter anyone from holding office. 

Please Hold us in the Light

Please Hold us in the Light

There is much that needs to be said, that needs to be addressed, that needs to be changed, and I am prayerful that our work in Charlotte might stand as an example across the country.

Kim Davis:  Blinded by Belief

Kim Davis: Blinded by Belief

So bless Mrs. Davis for her conviction.  But as we say in the South “bless her heart.” Once again religion has blinded the religious from seeing that God has “more truth yet” to shine on us (John Robinson). And thanks be to God for a secular democracy – unbearably slow though it sometimes is.

The jury is still out. But the verdict is in.

I think of my nation, still divided, still judging one another not by the content of character, but by the color of skin. I think that there are a lot of very complicated factors in this case, but what I know is that this mostly comes down to America’s Original Sin, and unless and until we can finally own it and engage the very hard work of healing we’ll always be waiting on a jury…