I’m tired. It’s not really the “I need a nap” kind of tired, but more of a “I’m drained from explaining myself repeatedly” kind of fatigue. Anyone who knows me probably (hopefully?) is familiar with my tendency to drift conversationally toward issues of culture, race, and justice. It’s simply a part of who I am, and I don’t need to apologize for that.
But sometimes I tire of being “the diversity guy” or the “race and justice expert” (I’m no expert), and after a couple successive weeks of conferences where I spoke, taught, moderated, pontificated, speculated, and extrapolated (among other things), I feel somewhat conflicted about my experience of being drained, tokenized (only slightly), and called upon to speak on behalf of people of color, Asian Americans, or some other marginal demographic. On the whole, I was really glad to take part in each of these conferences, and I was encouraged by the many good and substantive conversations I had with people from all sorts of different perspectives. Continue reading
With spring quarter quickly approaching and many syllabi to prep, it feels appropriate to pull a classic procrastination move and update the blog. Today, it’s been hard to avoid how much the interwebs are abuzz with the historic Supreme Court deliberation over marriage equality.
It seems that few topics are as divisive and polarizing as same-sex marriage, especially within faith communities that are constantly negotiating their social and political identities in an ever-shifting culture. While I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on the numerous layers of legal, ethical, and theological discourse at stake in this ongoing debate, I do have a few suggestions for thoughtful Christians wanting to engage in deeper reflection on the issues at hand. Continue reading
I distinctly remember my friend Matt in junior high as the cool kid wearing the baggy Cross Colours t-shirt that made him look like the quintessential white, suburban fanboy of Kris Kross (and he was). Well, the merits of early 90s hip-hop aside, what I remember most about his shirt was the message: “love, see no color.” And to my simple, adolescent mind, that sounded about right. Racism was about color-based prejudice, and we had to get rid of all that, right? It’s too bad everyone thought Matt’s t-shirt was really cool, but didn’t see any connection between the idea on his shirt and the regular racist taunts (explicit and implicit) I received in junior high (Chinaman, chinky, Buddha, rice ball- at least that last one was creative).
Still a bit stunned by today’s heartbreaking Seahawks loss, it’s always interesting for me to observe and experience how our collective hopes can rise and fall in such dramatic fashion. It seems to me that professional sports in general, and all of our cultural obsessions that surround them, bring out the best– and the worst– in us as a society.
On one hand, the so-called “purity” of athletic competition gives rise to something primal and inspiring about being human– the raw, God-given physical ability in action, the exceptional run or catch, the breathless moments in which games hang in the balance. Football can remind us of something bigger than ourselves, and at their best, the human stories that drive the competition give us hope for overcoming adversities or persevering through challenges. But there is also a darker, more subtly worrisome part of professional sports as well. Continue reading
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Apologies to my blog for the neglect (but at least it won’t resent me for it). If you’re in Seattle this week, there’s a great event this Thursday/Friday called the Isaiah 58 Summit for Economic Justice. Students can have the costs waived, so contrary to what you’ve been told, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
This event is one of those rare opportunities for the church to connect what it does on Sunday with the economic choices we make everyday. In partnership with Interfaith Worker Justice and the John Perkins Center, we are bringing faith communities and organized labor advocates together for a conversation about the challenges faced by the working poor and what we can do together to ensure Walmart employees, hotel workers, and airport workers are treated justly.
This kind of advocacy is an enormous blind spot in the often myopic vision of the church. As we learn the stories and struggles of the workers who are of foundational importance in our economy, we begin to see that justice is a garment in which we are all woven together for our mutual good.
As usual, the cause is urgent and wide-reaching, and the production and story-telling is compelling. But as much as I do appreciate their body of work, I’m also left wondering about a few things. These are not particularly astute observations, and I’m sure I’m not adding anything new to the conversation, but a few things frustrate me about this genre of activism and I’m not sure why. Continue reading