In American culture, we are left with some pretty uncompelling options for how we come to terms with the ultimate significance of our place in the world. Unfortunately, “organized religion” is often weighed down with so much traumatic, dramatic and dogmatic baggage. The guilt and obligation can be so oppressive. On the other hand, “spirituality” can feel like a slippery, vague, kind of non-committal concept.
soul scrambles from a cracked post-evangelical shell
Friday, March 10, 2023
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
The supremacist ideology that only men should be pastors comes from the Christian scriptures. There are a few bible verses that say that women are the “weaker sex” and must be quiet and submissive, and must never have authority over men. But the bible also says that those who get baptized are clothed with Christ in mutuality and that old hierarchies like "male" and “female” no longer apply! These kinds of biblical contradictions are beautiful. Because they force our faith to be humble and thoughtful.
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Sunday, February 19, 2023
1: King Herod throws a party where he serves up the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
2: Jesus feeds five thousand poor folks with five loaves and two fishes - and twelve baskets of broken pieces are leftover.
3: Jesus walks on water to the disciples, paralyzed by fear, trying to cross a stormy sea.
4: When they get to land, the sick flock to Jesus and get healed by touching the fringe of his cloak.
Monday, February 13, 2023
Who is the "Us?"
In the Gospels, Jesus consistently takes a courageous stand against oppressors, those who seize and maintain their wealth and power by exploiting and excluding others. Jesus was “being political.” He calls King Herod a fox. He turns over the tables of the Temple bankers. He demands that the rich young ruler give away all his possessions. The text says that Jesus loved the rich man—so much so that he put up a boundary to his destructive behavior.
Jesus knew that the rich man made his money off exploiting and excluding those Jesus called “blessed:” the poor, persecuted, pure in heart and those who hunger for justice. He also told his disciples that after political and religious elites canceled him on a cross, he would rise up in the bodies of the unhoused, uninsured, unfed, unclothed, immigrant and imprisoned people of the world—the very folks being exploited and excluded by those funding these ads.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
The Courage of Kareem
What about Kareem though? It’s unfortunate that he’s consistently left out of the debate over who’s the greatest of all time. His sky hook was unstoppable – and he played until he was 42. He would have scored a lot more points if he left college early. Instead, he led UCLA to three championships in a row. It’s hard to believe, but Kareem has even more haters than Lebron. Because he’s stayed true to his convictions – no matter how unpopular they’ve been.
A few months after Dr. King was murdered, Kareem declined an invitation to play for the US Olympic team because he did not want to signal support for the way Black people were treated in the country he loved. Instead, he spent the summer in his native New York teaching kids how to play basketball and trying to inspire them to stay in school. Kareem’s courage, on and off the floor, then and now, is a model for us all.
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Sunday, February 5, 2023
The American political system was designed for a small portion of the population to be successful. Campaigns are corporate-funded. The Senate, the electoral college and the House redistricting process are anti-democratic. The court system caters to people who can pay for good lawyers. The Democratic Party is more “inclusive,” but it is corporate-funded too. The reforms that liberals propose will not transform the unjust structure – even if they are passed.
I believe that our hope for healing and transformation grows with grassroots organizers. In every context, with very little recognition, they tirelessly struggle on behalf of those being exploited, displaced and poisoned by “successful” people whose moral imagination is shaped by the profit motive. When multitudes of us reject the corporate scripting and start to follow these brilliant people - most of them low-income women of color – the wealthy and powerful will stop winning.
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Saturday, January 28, 2023
A World Where Everyone's Needs Are Met
The police murder of Tyre Nichols is another clear indication that “reforms” aren’t working. We’ll cut violence and crime in America when we create a society where everyone has access to affordable housing, universal healthcare, a guaranteed minimum income, free education, clean water and nutritious food. A world where Dr. King’s dream becomes a reality will not have a modern police force. This is why I am a police-and-prison abolitionist – and not a police-and-prison preservationist. When I dare to imagine a world where everyone’s needs are met, a crucial part of that equation is the defunding of police and prison budgets.
Unfortunately, police-and-prison abolitionism is not a socially respectable politics for most white folks and middle-class people – the Americans who believe the lie that police and prisons protect and serve everyone the same. But hear me out. What most white folks and middle-class people believe about police and prison abolition in 2023 is precisely what most white folks and middle-class people believed about the abolitionism of slavery in 1823 and the abolitionism of Jim Crow in 1923. They thought it was unrealistic then too. Things are changing though. I can feel it. Because the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.
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Thursday, January 26, 2023
I Wish I Knew
I recently read something from someone who was asking people what they wish they could tell the younger version of themselves. I love the question because it helps me clarify what really matters moving forward.
When I was nineteen, or twenty-nine, I wish I knew how to openly embrace my own imperfections and weaknesses with grief and grace.
I wish I knew how to identify feelings like fear, shame and resentment.
I wish I knew that there were “other” leaders who embody a way-of-being that is tender, open-hearted, emotionally honest, humble, playful, present and just a lot less productive and performative.
I wish I knew that intimacy, deep connection and meaning are the main things – not speed bumps on the road to achievement.
Posted by Tom Airey at 10:51 AM 1 comment:
Sunday, January 15, 2023
I learned Greek in seminary. I found out that “it was necessary” is one Greek word (dei). I also found out that, when read in context, a better translation of this one Greek word is “it was inevitable.” The death of Jesus was not ordained by God. It was not necessary. It was inevitable. Because Jesus spoke truth to power, in public. Jesus was a liberated man. The truth he spoke freely was a threat to those clinging to power. That’s why they demonized him, arrested him, tortured him and crucified him.
What they did to Jesus, they did to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. too. Dr. King’s murder was inevitable in a racist culture where profit motives and property rights are more important than people. Like Jesus, Dr. King comforted the afflicted - and afflicted the comfortable. Like Jesus, King did not care about getting approval from “important” people. Dr. King modeled the way of the cross for modern America. This is the spiritual path I am committed to. It’s not about putting Jesus and King on a pedestal. It’s about trying to follow their lead.
Sunday, January 8, 2023
Making Everything Right Again
If Jesus really was some kind of lord, savior or son of God, he would be expected to be the one performing all the baptisms. Instead, Jesus released the power and control to the weird, wild prophet who wore camel hair and dined on locusts and honey. What Jesus really needed was to immerse himself in the radical, reassuring words from heaven: “You are beloved.” I desperately need this daily immersion too. I am learning from Jesus (rather slowly) that I can only hear these words when I stop equating my identity and security with my position on the oppressive social hierarchy.
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Monday, December 19, 2022
The scriptures start with a beautiful image: the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. God, in Hebrew, is elohim, a masculine noun. But Spirit, in Hebrew, is ruach, a feminine noun. The word “hovered,” elsewhere in the Hebrew bible, refers to a mother bird hovering over her nest. The She-Spirit hovered over Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan River.
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Thursday, December 15, 2022
When I walked towards him, he picked up the pace. He was hiding behind his woman, who was holding a swaddled baby. I walked alongside them, socially distanced. I asked him why he was taking photos of me. He hit the mute button. – so I kept asking. Finally, he said it was a public place and he could do whatever the f#*k he wanted. Then Karen yelled, “Get away from me and my child, you f#*king weirdo!”
Posted by Tom Airey at 9:36 AM No comments:
Monday, December 5, 2022
This is true for christianity too. All the hate and harm done in the name of Jesus brings some serious tension to “being a christian.” But I believe in digging deeper into the biblical tradition so we can compost christianity. Let the oppressive elements decay – and water the love-and-liberation stuff so we can grow Something Else. Back in the day, Frederick Douglass called the white christianity that sanctified slavery “the boldest of all frauds.” Douglass was a christian, but he refused to let the fraud have the final word. The world will be a better place if we, like Douglass, turn toxic faith into a tonic – infused with a Love that lays down its life for others.
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Sunday, November 27, 2022
Getting Free From Homophobia
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Monday, November 21, 2022
Early in the project, we made a grave error – while pouring concrete! Kyle just shook his head and muttered, “wabi-sabi.” It’s a Japanese phrase that means there’s beauty in our mistakes. After Kyle translated the term, my perfectionist tendencies took a backseat. Even better, Kyle refused to compartmentalize it. This was great news because when it was time for dinner, he made me the guy in charge of rotating the pies every few minutes.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:18 AM 1 comment:
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
My Ballot Choices
I do not believe in a human hierarchy of value. I do not believe that certain people deserve better healthcare, better public schools, better police protection, better roads or better representation in court and Congress than anyone else. I do not believe that we should still be living in two completely different Americas, more than fifty years after Dr. King was killed.
Posted by Tom Airey at 5:03 AM No comments:
Monday, October 17, 2022
These institutions – and others like churches and media outlets – know that profit necessitates mask-free public places. No matter what. So they suppress news about new variants, long covid, death rates, the effectiveness of face coverings and what this disease is doing to the other half of America who work in crowded conditions for low wages and lack access to decent healthcare.
White people are made to believe that going mask-free means that we are marching to the beat of our own drum - when we are really just sheep being herded off to a corporate pasture. Of course, Black people and Native folks know better. For me, wearing a mask in public is more than protecting ourselves and others. It is a “f*** you” to powerful institutions who only care about protecting themselves.
Posted by Tom Airey at 12:34 PM No comments:
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Law and Order - or Love and Liberation?
The bible is not inerrant. It is a diverse collection of texts that chronicle a sacred debate. Some passages support supremacy – or are interpreted to do so. These texts say that some folks matter more than others. The good news is that there is also a sabbath strand that says that everyone is a child of God - nothing more, nothing less. The Hebrew prophets and Jesus consistently call out supremacy - and expand the circle of divine love. Bible readers must “come out” and pick a side. Are we down with supremacy - or sabbath? Are we living for law and order - or love and liberation? One thing is for sure: neutrality is never an option.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:17 AM No comments:
Sunday, September 18, 2022
While Solveig sat beside the creek staring, she said that the females, returning to the place of their birth, would lay their eggs and die four days later. I caught a glimpse of why these Beings are so sacred to Native people here. Despite all the dams that white people built, there are still a few who have the strength to swim upstream, against the current, so they can teach us how to give up our lives for the next generation.
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Sunday, September 11, 2022
I will never forget, back in 2014, when Black women in Flint, Michigan said that the water coming out of their taps was poisoned. City and state leaders, almost all of them white men, cited testing and studies to discredit the truthful testimony of Black women for more than a year. The Flint incident follows the arc of American history – which has taught me to be slow to trust the government, the university, the police force, the church, the corporation. For me, moral authority is anchored in those who are oppressed – not those trying to preserve their power.
Posted by Tom Airey at 11:30 AM No comments:
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Withering and Burned Out
The American project – 5% of the globe’s population consuming 30% of the globe’s resources - is past the point of no return. The impending death of the unsustainable should not lead to despair. In these end times, we can drink in depth, beauty, wisdom and wonder by listening to our ancestors, to our bodies, to Black authors and activists, to Native people whispering the old ways, to secrets smuggled up from the Global South, to the feminine and queer, to everything that breaks through the soil, to winged-beings like bats, bees and hummingbirds. Our guides are not those perpetuating the grand old project, but those intimate with its apocalypse.
Posted by Tom Airey at 8:36 AM No comments:
Sunday, September 4, 2022
Rooting Out Racism
A week ago, the Duke University women’s volleyball team travelled to BYU for a match. Someone from the BYU student section repeatedly yelled racist slurs at a Black player on Duke’s team. They used the n-word. The next night, the BYU athletic director called out the behavior but never once referred to it as “racism.” A week later, legendary South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley canceled their upcoming games against BYU.
In response, the BYU women’s basketball program posted this to Twitter:
"We are extremely disappointed in South Carolina's decision to cancel our series and ask for patience with the on-going investigation. We believe the solution is to work together to root out racism and not to separate from one another. #LoveOneAnother"
This tweet is problematic. Oppressors cannot criticize the “separation” created when oppressed people put up a boundary for protection. Language like “love one another” and “work together” seek the moral high ground by making it sound like both sides need to make the same effort. They don’t. Racists bear the responsibility “to root out racism.” Jesus called it repentance, war-time language that literally meant switching sides and taking cues from the other team.
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Friday, August 26, 2022
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Sunday, August 21, 2022
This morning, I got to preach at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Church in the Detroit suburbs. We reflected together on the last time that MLK came to our watershed. It was three weeks before he was murdered in Memphis. Dr. King delivered a speech called “The Two Americas” to a packed out suburban high school gymnasium. King spoke with a sense of urgency. White people yelled and booed, interrupting him several times.
King challenged these folk to support the findings of a recently released report from the Kerner Commission, a bipartisan group of a dozen leaders commissioned by the President to study the roots of “urban unrest” in places like Detroit. The commission blamed lack of economic opportunity, failed social service programs, police brutality, white racism and the white gaze of the media. The report said, “White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” Pretty clear, eh?
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Sunday, August 14, 2022
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Thursday, August 11, 2022
Yesterday, I attended a press conference on the Huron River about thirty miles northwest of where we live in Detroit. A few weeks ago, a company called Tribar released thousands of gallons of hexavalent chromium into the river – for the 2nd time in four years. When we lived in Ypsilanti in 2017-18, the Huron River held us during a heavy time. The Huron nursed us back to life. At the end of our stay, signs went up. Don’t go in the water. Don’t eat the fish. Tribar did that too.
In Michigan, we have a Democratic governor, but the GOP owns the state legislature after years of gerrymandering. Every year, there is a bill crafted to keep polluting companies accountable, but Republicans refuse to even give it a hearing. This not a partisan issue. Polluters should pay. The Huron exposes our harsh reality: both parties have been bought by businesses whose sole obsession is profit. Only ordinary, organized people can turn this boat around.
Posted by Tom Airey at 2:21 PM No comments:
Sunday, August 7, 2022
This week, on the night that Kansas said "no," I was out on the back deck reading when I was suddenly interrupted by a squawking chorus of red robins. A red-tailed hawk was perched on a pole. The predator! A few of the robins and sparrows took turns “mobbing” the hawk. A couple crows joined in. These winged-Beings formed a union. They darted. They dive-bombed. They drove it out. When the hawk flew a hundred yards away, the mob followed it.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:22 AM No comments:
Sunday, July 31, 2022
The Vulnerable Courage to Tell the Truth
Multitudes of white Christian men equate manhood with being an aggressive, authoritarian protector and provider. Many model their militant masculinity after the Warrior Jesus depicted in Revelation. At the end of the last book of the bible, Jesus has fire in his eyes and leads an army riding a white horse. What white Christian men need to know is that the book of Revelation speaks in code and symbol to subvert supremacist violence.
On the white horse, Jesus carries a sword—but it comes out of his mouth. His words are his weapons. He wields the vulnerable courage to tell the truth even if it costs everything. The robe Jesus wears is dipped in blood—but the blood is his own. Earlier in Revelation, Jesus shows up as the slaughtered lamb. His nonviolent witness threatens elites so much they had to crucify him. This is the same Jesus of the Gospels who sheds tears and tells the men to put down their weapons.
Posted by Tom Airey at 9:32 AM No comments:
Sunday, July 24, 2022
The Bread of Life
Jesus is still a staple for me because his story clarifies, over and over, what love is: a willingness to lay down my life for others. Love subverts supremacy. People experience “God” when they get off the pedestal, stop performing and orient their lives around truth, beauty, goodness and humble service to others. This is what Jesus said and did. When this kind of love becomes the lens and litmus test for everything, it serves as a compelling contrast to popular lifestyles that center success, comfort and entitlement.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:27 AM No comments:
Thursday, July 21, 2022
This sample shimmered for me. It comes right after Native folks, who refused to move to the reservation, cut off the shackles of Paul D, a man who escapes slavery and stays with them in the Southern woods. I love how Black folk and Indigenous people take cues from non-human life. It's not a resource. It's a relative. Just as intended.
“Paul D finally woke up and, admitting his ignorance, asked how he might get North. Free North. Magical North. Welcoming, benevolent North. The Cherokee smiled and looked around. The flood rains of a month ago had turned everything to steam and blossoms.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
It makes sense to me that the original version of this passage portrayed an angry Jesus—and then, eventually, scribes edited it to make him more palatable for the people. There’s no doubt that Jesus was compassionate. But personally, I love the idea that Jesus got angry too. Because I believe that compassion and anger burn together. When anger is aimed at the actual people and policies that produce pain and suffering, it gives compassion the agency to shake off cynicism, apathy and despair. This healing hybrid empowers us to transform ourselves and the world. Just like Jesus did.
Sunday, July 10, 2022
Flip the Coin
One day, some of the powerful religious elites buttered up Jesus with praise. They said Jesus must be from God because he always told the truth. Then they turned the tables and tried to trap him with a trick question:
“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
Should we pay them, or should we not?”
Sniffing out their hypocrisy, Jesus got his hands on some currency.
“Whose image is this,” he asked, “and whose title?”
The answer was obvious. Caesar.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:45 AM No comments:
Thursday, July 7, 2022
A Clear Contrast
These leaders have been demanding a water affordability plan since George W was the president. The department just approved one with little input from experts and few details about how it will be funded and implemented. They refuse to release the full plan to the public. They are giving 45 days for “community engagement”—without a real strategy for how they will engage the community. They say that the plan will limit water usage—but many of these low-income households have more than ten people living in them. Meanwhile, the city subsidizes the re-development plans of billionaires and uses federal covid funds to give bonuses to the police department.
Posted by Tom Airey at 11:50 AM No comments:
Labels: We the People of Detroit
Sunday, July 3, 2022
I’ve been re-reading Bruce Rogers-Vaughn’s brilliant book Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age. Bruce starts by re-animating “soul” as the fabric that binds every living being together. We are not autonomous individuals. We are a web of belonging. Soul is a posture, an activity, a way of existing within an entangled world where there is so much suffering circulating all around us. The soul fabric is frayed, which is why so many are feeling so much heaviness and anxiety right now.
“Whenever the response to this pain is care,” Bruce writes, “there is soul.” It is a call and response. Soul shifts our focus away from social status to a deeper solidarity with those who are exploited, neglected and abused. Soul grows when we stop cooperating with the values of the profit motive and seek communion and wholeness with others and the earth. Succeeding at the game of capitalism sucks the soul dry. Which means we must slow down and try something else.
Posted by Tom Airey at 6:55 AM No comments:
Sunday, June 26, 2022
A post-Evangelical Position on Abortion
In 2008, a close friend of mine called me a “baby murderer” after Lindsay and I drove to Vegas to campaign for Barack Obama, a pro-choice candidate. No doubt, many other evangelical christians said these sorts of things behind my back. I felt the distance. I also took the criticism and the silence seriously. So I continued to study the bible—which scripted for me a post-evangelical position on abortion.
What I found weaving through the ancient text, over and over again, was a fundamental critique of Pharoah, Solomon and Caesar—men of power who sanctified their human hierarchy of value with a supremacy god always on the throne, always in control. The good news is that, throughout the scriptures, there is also a Sabbath God delivering a dissenting opinion that gives agency and empowerment to women, the working poor, the orphans and the overlooked.
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Sunday, June 19, 2022
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Labels: Poor People's Campaign
Sunday, June 12, 2022
The Poor Widow
We are locked in the same cycle of injustice and inequality that Jesus condemned. Extremely wealthy Americans are celebrated for contributing to causes out of their abundance. They also anonymously give millions to political campaigns so that they will not be held accountable for how they “earn” profit. They aggressively promote the police, the prisons and the Pentagon. Then they lobby against basic government services for those barely surviving. The way of Jesus is always partial to a platform that protects and serves the poor widow. We must choose sides. Because justice and love are always on the line.
Posted by Tom Airey at 8:35 AM No comments:
Labels: the poor widow
Sunday, June 5, 2022
I was on the road again this week. Over the phone, a dear friend asked me how I summarize “the gospel” now, after exiting evangelical christianity years ago. It’s a great question because I do still believe that the message of Jesus matters. While I no longer contend that he is somehow the One Right Path to Heaven, I am convinced that Jesus offers a journey that can set people free from the ways that successes built on supremacy and certainty are counterfeiting us on earth.
The gospel is not a guarantee. It is a sacred, subversive story built on trust and tenderness, not triumph. It is the good news that a divine Force is fermenting a new world. We are fragile clay jars that hold this feral Force within us. When we are cracked, the love and light can really shine through. The good news is that there is Something that composts our deaths, losses and so-called failures. We can let wonder replace the fear. Because this Something grows our wings out of our wounds.
Posted by Tom Airey at 8:14 AM No comments:
Labels: road trip, the gospel
Sunday, May 29, 2022
Jesus also told the men they must become “slaves.” Because real masculinity is not being above the fray, but being bound to the destiny of others. It moves on humility, nurture, truth-telling and tenderness. Greatness is not about guns, grit and glory. It is about having the guts to grieve—and give up our lives for those society considers the least.
Posted by Tom Airey at 8:21 AM No comments:
Labels: masculinity, service
Sunday, May 22, 2022
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Saturday, May 14, 2022
Yesterday, an 18-year-old white boy drove hundreds of miles to murder Black people in Buffalo. He subscribes to a particular brand of white supremacy, weaponized against a conspiracy of forces working behind the scenes to replace the white race. This replacement theory is peddled by Republican politicians and Fox News anchors. It fertilizes the fear and rage ripening in white men.
Posted by Tom Airey at 1:58 PM No comments:
Sunday, May 8, 2022
A Racist Racket
The overwhelming majority of evangelical pastors did not start opposing Roe v. Wade until six years after the supreme court decision. This is well-documented. It all started with the GOP getting white evangelicals on board with Ronald Reagan. At the time, the big issue for white evangelicals was the “segregation academies” that they created when the government ordered schools to desegregate. This obviously racist position was becoming less and less popular with the rest of public. So white male Republican leaders surveyed and strategized until they found the perfect issue to make themselves the party of “family values.” Abortion. Same-sex marriage was soon added to make it a combo punch.
I started attending a virtually all-white Christian school five years into this experiment. My white pastors and teachers told me that these were not political issues. These were moral issues. Biblical issues. My white pastors and teachers were taking their cues from their virtually all-white (and wealthy) social circles. These white people literally just quoted a few bible verses about babies and abominations. No one told us that Black women were three times more likely to die giving birth than white women. They just told us that America was no longer racist because a nice man named Martin Luther King came along. That was about it. The history of “family values” is still in the room with us. It is a racist racket—and totally contrary to the way of Jesus. Happy Mother’s Day.
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:59 AM No comments:
Labels: abortion, family values, roe v. wade
Friday, May 6, 2022
Divine Power is like Dog Piss
Oz came out to the garage in sweatpants and a bright red Canadian zip-up jacket pulled over his black hoodie. He was wearing mittens and sipped on a mocha. He used his rolling walker to make his way down the driveway into the warm sun. He was wearing what looked like designer women's sunglasses. A cardinal tilted her head on the bare branches above us. Oz apologized for forgetting names, yet despite some cognitive decline, he could easily recall many of the contours of his life. His kids. His books. His beloved Bonnie. His students. His friends. The first time he showed up at a protest.
Posted by Tom Airey at 10:01 AM No comments:
Labels: dandelion, mustard seed, the reign of God
Thursday, April 28, 2022
A New Song
“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.
Posted by Tom Airey at 10:00 PM No comments:
Labels: LA Riots, Lift Every Voice and Sing, racial habits
A Lifestyle Update: The Era of BA.2
Right now, Covid-19 rates are surging. Wastewater—the only reliable testing—reveals the rise. The celebrity test shows it too. More and more “important people” are popping up in the news with positive tests. Kamala Harris just got it. Zach LaVine missed the last playoff game for the Bulls because he entered health and safety protocols. The friends and family test is also coming on strong. Many are getting either “the stomach flu” or the three-week cold with fever. My hunch is that most of these mysterious illnesses are Covid, even though most folks are coming up negative with at-home tests. I am not going indoors with people right now. Because I do not want to get Covid. Despite what most folks think, this disease does serious long-term damage.
The virus is kicking ass right now because the BA.2 variant is super contagious and the immunity of most people is waning. It’s been more than four months since I got boosted. It’s been more than four months since most of our friends and family members got Omicron. I am locking it down for the next three weeks. Because I can. I will read works by Black and Indigenous authors. I will write and revise my book manuscript. I will explore my family tree and study what it means to connect with Ancestors like Ruth Ritter and George Riese at a deeper level. I will make frequent trips to the Detroit River and the Huron River. I will pay attention to birds, bees and trees. I will tap into tenderness, reverence and awe on this Anishinaabe land.
Posted by Tom Airey at 6:17 AM No comments:
Labels: BA.2 variant, Covid-19
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Spirit and Soil
This Easter marks the one-year anniversary of my friend Melanie Magee taking her last breath in the land of the living. She caught Covid-19 for the second time. In our last direct message exchange, I told her we were praying for her, and I sent her my phone number. She wrote back: “adding you to my contacts…thanks…give me a few days.” A few days later she was gone. I am convinced that “a few days” was a reference to resurrection. Like Jesus, Melanie has gone through death and come out the other side. She has moved on to the great cloud of witnesses and merged with God's love in a new way.
The ancient Jews who wrote the bible believed that "heaven" was God's space on earth, not a disembodied destination where we go when we die. It was Greek philosophy that separated the heavenly hereafter from life on earth. In Genesis, it says “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” At the beginning of the bible, dust is the eternal destination of every living being. I believe that Melanie still speaks through spirit and soil. She’s changed forms, just a breath away, protecting and serving us on our earth journey. My Easter hope is that when I die, I will rise up and be reunited with the loved ones and spiritual leaders who have gone before me—and we will ride on the wind together, working to redeem the world.
Posted by Tom Airey at 2:19 PM No comments:
Friday, April 15, 2022
A Good Friday Kind of Love
Good Friday shifts the perspective to crucified people. Where it belongs. Consider this. A recent study analyzed the response of white people to horrific headlines saying Black and Indigenous folks and other people of color are 2-3 times more likely to get killed by covid. The study says that this data led white people to drop their fear of the disease and to demand that governments lift mandates and open schools and businesses. White folks embraced entitlement over empathy. Of course, this is not news to Black and Indigenous folks and other people of color. Many call this “whiteness.” Not so much a skin color, but a spiritual condition.
Whiteness is not rooted in hate, but supremacy. It teaches us that we are smarter and work harder—so those outside of our orbit are unworthy of our attention, care and sacrifice. Whiteness trains us to believe that crucified people are dying because they are doing it wrong. Not because their bodies have sustained intergenerational trauma or because they are denied decent health care and nutrition. Whiteness justifies the decisions we make for ourselves and our families—no matter how our decisions affect anyone else. Whiteness is the spirituality behind a national strategy that now swaps out social safety precautions for personal decisions. It’s all about protecting our own families—and corporate profits. Whiteness calls this “freedom.”
Posted by Tom Airey at 7:14 AM No comments:
Labels: Covid, Good Friday, lent, Love, Whiteness
Monday, April 11, 2022
Attunement faith is a dissenting opinion. A minority report. A remnant path that actively participates in the radical love of Jesus—which is rooted in his attunement to what Dr. King called the inescapable network of mutuality. To be attuned like Jesus is to be present, to pay attention, to be in awe of the spiritual reality that we are intimately connected to divine Presence, each other, our ancestors and the more-than-human world of trees, bees, birds, wind and water. Jesus gave his life for the inescapable network of mutuality. Powerful elites crucified Jesus because they knew they could not keep exploiting the network if everyone else was tuned-in to what was happening—and willing to respond in truth and love. Just like Jesus.
Posted by Tom Airey at 6:58 AM No comments:
Labels: atonement, attunement, christianity, contested concept, Holy Week, lent
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Agbaji Set the Standard
The season is finally over and I am in total shock. I got to watch this Jayhawk squad play twenty-four times this season. One of my favorite teams ever. Because the more I watched, the more I became convinced that they genuinely liked each other, that they did not care—on any given night—who got the credit. When they rooted for each other, it was real, not the rigid kind of quid pro quo support that’s become the society standard. I’ll root for you—as long as you return the favor. When you watch a team enough times, you can tell the difference between authentic love for teammates and when they are just doing it because coach told them to.
Senior Ochai Agbaji set the standard. He was under-recruited, but became a first team All-American. He had games where he scored in single digits, but he still willed his team to win by diving on the floor, making the extra pass, taking a charge. After these games, when the box score failed to animate his impact, Agbaji consistently beamed a smile soaked in sincerity. His rare blend of poise, purity of heart and sculpted athleticism made Omicron isolation bearable. The last time these guys lost, I was on Mass Street in Lawrence. I wish I was there right now. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.
Posted by Tom Airey at 6:49 AM No comments:
Labels: Jayhawks, Ochai Agbaji
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