Thursday, August 11, 2022
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Sunday, July 31, 2022
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Sunday, July 10, 2022
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Friday, May 6, 2022
Thursday, April 28, 2022
“What I do know is that love reckons with the past and evil reminds us to look to the future. Evil loves tomorrow because peddling in possibility is what abusers do.”—Kiese Laymon
“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song.”—Psalm 96:1
Thirty years ago, four white cops caught on video beating Rodney King fifty-six times were acquitted in Simi Valley by a jury made up of ten white folks, one Latino and one Asian. In the aftermath, a righteous rage fueled the L.A. Riots. At the time, I was getting ready for senior prom fifty miles south. Six weeks earlier, our high school basketball team won the CIF sectional championship at the Sports Arena, where the Clippers used to play back in the day. We beat Lynwood, an all-Black squad from south L.A. In our all-white minds, we were getting revenge.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Friday, April 15, 2022
Monday, April 11, 2022
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Sunday, April 3, 2022
On Fat Tuesday, six days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I drove out of Detroit while it was still dark. For the first two hours, the slipped disk in my upper back was screaming. This thorn in my flesh, this messenger from Satan, was signaling a lack of emotional support in a world collapsing with the 4 C’s: capitalism, climate, covid and conflict. I drove through all four time zones as gas prices sky-rocketed and the stealth BA. 2 variant spread. On the road, in this mess, I was trusting in Something greater than myself, a divine Presence percolating the world with steadfast love and solidarity. This Force does not sit on a throne. It hovers low like a nurturing mother bird and runs fast like an open-hearted, emotionally expressive father figure.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Thursday, March 3, 2022
Saturday, February 26, 2022
To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.—excerpts from Psalm 51
This week, I read Psalm 51 in the wake of dear friends sharing the details of a sexual assault they experienced. My response was rage. I struggled to tap into tears. I was just so angry. At the perpetrator for what he did. At the police for what they did not do. Lindsay asked me if our friends’ story was triggering my own trauma. I wasn’t sure. I needed to go away to reflect—and sit with this Psalm, attributed to David who was called “a man after God’s own heart.” He was also a sexual predator.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Our present polarization over mask mandates and vaccination status bears a striking resemblance with a topic that had some of the first followers of Jesus in a tiff: circumcision. I’m not equating today’s choice to get vaccinated—or to wear a mask in public—with the ancient argument over whether Gentile Christians should cut foreskins or eat kosher. But this current beef over what to do with our bodies is just as polarizing today as it was two thousand years ago. There is good news in the sacred text for those of us seeking common ground. Even as pillars of the faith passionately disagreed, they unified over one vital practice. They committed to prioritizing the poor in their midst.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves—Genesis 11:3-4
Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.—Genesis 11:9
Five years before George Floyd was murdered, back when it was possible to fly coach without catching covid, we were at the Detroit airport waiting in line for the TSA screening when Lindsay started unpeeling her banana. She was moving with a sense of urgency. She put down her bags, pivoted to me and proclaimed that she needed to eat it now. Because if it went through the x-ray machine it might scramble the nutrition. I scanned the perimeter to see if anyone heard her. It was 5:30 in the morning. She had not had one sip of coffee.
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.—Genesis 4:2b
Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!—Genesis 4:8-10
As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.—Mark 6:34
“I'm more than ever of the opinion that a decent human existence is possible today only on the fringes of society, where one then runs the risk of starving or being stoned to death. In these circumstances, a sense of humor is a great help.”—Hannah Arendt
In the ancient world, shepherds tended their flocks on the edge of civilization, on the borderlands, straddling two cultures with the side-eyed and sidelined. Shepherds resisted mass migration to cities, built with resources extracted from somewhere else. What we called "civilization" was sculpted by strong men exploiting the masses. Shepherds were not part of this program. They stayed nomadic, foraging for food, going wherever the grass was growing. Shepherds were dirty people. Outcasts. Their testimony was not trusted in court.
Friday, January 28, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Every other week, I zoom with a little theology cohort of a half dozen led by Jim Perkinson and Lily Mendoza. Right now, we are reading a piece from Indigenous theologian and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. who writes that reflection is not the same as logical thought. Reflection is a special art that requires spiritual maturity. Reflection allows wisdom to approach instead of seeking answers to self-generated questions. It requires patience and courage and trust. Reflection is a special art that Lindsay has pretty much mastered—and I have been marinating on this rare quality of hers today as we celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.
Lindsay’s superpower has made me a profoundly deeper person than I was seventeen years ago. Sometimes I struggle. I have a strong tendency to control outcomes or just dwell in that district called Denial. I am slowly learning from her how to wait for wisdom to approach and wash over me, instead of anchoring in answers that absolve me from further consideration. What’s weird is that when we got married in 2005, we were just starting to second-guess the Christian fundamentalism that says “the husband” should be the spiritual leader of the household. This is a broken model on so many levels. I cannot even imagine my life without her leadership.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Sunday, January 16, 2022
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a spirit from God swept over the face of the waters.—Genesis 1:1-2
…then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.—Genesis 2:7
From the sidewalk, a cell phone caught the viral voice of God speaking through the mouth of a Black man forty days younger than me face down on the street pavement calling for his mama while a white man in uniform with his left hand in his pocket took his life by kneeling on his neck. I can’t breathe. George Floyd gasped these words twenty-seven times in the last nine minutes of his life. I can’t breathe. He was speaking on behalf of those Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the other America,” those Jesus called blessed: the poor, the persecuted, the pure in heart, the meek and mourning, those who hunger for justice.
Friday, January 14, 2022
Yesterday, Kyrsten Sinema took the floor of the Senate to say that the disease of American society is that we are divided. I disagree. The real disease is that democracy is counterfeit and that we the people—at least most the people—are distracted, deceived and lack spiritual depth. This is how powerful elites like Sinema, controlling both parties, have designed it. A false unity founded on fake democracy, a frenzied life, repressed realities and incentives to keep everything on the surface. This is cancerous. We should not feel guilty or ashamed about this. We should take responsibility to heal it.
Sunday, January 9, 2022
When asked whether his painting features an image of Jesus or George Floyd, the artist answers “Yes.” It brims with the biblical proclamation that the risen Christ will be found in those that society considers “the least.” Meanwhile, Mary recovers her original skin tone and looks at us with eyes that wonder whether we will respond to the injustice—or just move on. Mary bears witness with Ella Baker that true freedom will not come until the killing of Black men, Black mother’s sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mother’s sons.
Sunday, January 2, 2022
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.—Genesis 1:26-27
My spirituality is saturated in the biblical claim that I bear the image of God, that we all bear the royal image of God. Hebrew scribes wrote and edited the book of Genesis after they were captured and exiled to Babylon, an empire that placed “images”—or statues—of their king in public places to remind people who is supreme. Citizens were supposed to bow whenever they passed by. The Hebrew scribes subverted this human hierarchy of value by crafting their own creation story. The scribes stamped every human Being with the royal image of a God of love and compassion who designed a world without a human hierarchy of value. We are all royalty, born to bow in reverence to each other.
When I read the Gospels through the lens of this radical royalty, Jesus jumps off the page, pitching the idea of a reign of God that belongs to peasant people who have been incessantly lied to and deceived by the propaganda of priests and politicians devoted to what the Romans called “the paterfamilias,” the imperial caste system, their version of the human hierarchy of value, with Caesar at the top and children at the very bottom, just below the women, the working poor, the sharecroppers and slaves, the chronically sick and injured.
Friday, December 31, 2021
In 2021, these were some of the times and spaces when I felt the divine shine a little closer than usual. My Celtic ancestors called them “thin places.”