After decades of Biblical study, I continue to discover there is much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined.
Christ calls me to
-people I'd not expect;
-be politically active for justice;
-love without restriction;
-accept those from whom I would normally recoil;
-be a student of the Bible and also the society in which I live;
-see the economic, social, and spiritual struggles of others;
-be a prophetic voice for justice, mercy, compassion, grace, and love;
What about you?
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More Than Standing in Line
I plan to turn in my ballot today. I would be willing to wait in line for 12 hours to do so, just like so many in other states have been forced to do as a result of voter suppression efforts. There is a lot riding on this election, and I see it as a right and a responsibility to add my voice to that of so many. I will fill out my requested ballot in the comfort of my home and then do whatever is necessary to take it in to be counted. If that means standing in a line for half a day wearing a mask, so be it. I am energized to vote, and so will I do.
On the other hand, I find that the candidates on the ballot to be a major indictment of our current political system. There is too much riding on this election to throw away my vote to a third-party candidate. The question I keep returning to, however, is, "Out of a population of 331 million people, how are these the best candidates our political parties have been willing to put forward?" The second question is, "Why are we willing to put up with that?"
Our political parties have failed us as a nation.
*We have children in cages, ripped away from their families as political pawns to suffer egregious trauma from which they will never fully recover in order to gain political points for certain people.
*We have a major pandemic the likes of which the world has not seen in living memory.
*We have a stock market bubble adding to the wealth of the uber-wealthy while lines continue to grow at food banks.
*We have a healthcare system that is tied to employment while a pandemic rages, pushing people out of work.
*We have voices of white supremacy and racism seeking and being granted airtime and stoking social tensions.
*We have religious leaders more beholden to supporting a political party than calling us as a nation to justice for the disenfranchised.
*We have news media that are so interested in corporate profit margins that they have been depleting their ranks of journalists.
*We have a corporate culture that has shifted to such a focus on profits and stock prices that any semblance of caring for the needs of workers and the communities they serve has been lost.
*We have a healthcare system that is being governed more by that same drive for profit margins than any concern for the health of our society.
*We have a justice system that is focused on punishing marginalized populations for lower-level crimes, turning a blind eye to large-scale corruption, and turning profits for special interests like a privatized prison industry.
*We have politicians at all levels of government focused on retaining power and being re-elected to the exclusion of tackling these deep issues we face as a nation.
*We have eroding public infrastructure.
*We have growing educational access inequality, especially in relation to required distance-learning in a pandemic.
*We have an unaddressed shift away from the enforcement of anti-trust laws.
*We have regulation systems that privilege the wealthy and powerful at the expense of all competition.
*We have corporate interests exerting way too much influence upon government and the politicians whose task should be to keep them in check for the welfare of the nation.
*We still have impacts of climate change to address, including sea-level rise in coastal communities, more named storms than at any other time in history, wildfires due in large part to changing weather patterns, increases in flooding, air and water quality decreases, needing to shift toward renewable energy sources, and needs to change land-use patterns.
As a nation, we could do so much better, but we have allowed those working behind the scenes to gain way too much power. We have not held our politicians accountable. We have not demanded better of our representatives. We have remained far too silent, far too detached, far too willing to go along with the flow as the gains and progress of former generations have been eroded.
We can't take this status quo much longer and expect things to turn up roses. At some point, the best of fruit trees need pruning. Orchards need attention and care. Dying trees must be replanted. Soil must be fertilized. Pests must be dealt with. We must take a stand and get about fulfilling our responsibilities if we are to have a government with is truly "of the people by the people and for the people."
Whatever path we choose, at the end of the day it will be developed at the consent of the governed. What will our votes mean? Whatever they mean, they will not be enough to bridge the great divides which plague us and get us on track to addressing so many larger issues. That will take much more than standing in a line for half a day.
I turned on my computer this morning to a message from Microsoft to the effect of, “If you are seeking to educate yourself on issues of race in the US, we have put together a list of resources.” Normally, they are trying to encourage me to check out their search engine concerning some geographic location, geological formation, or culturally significant image. I normally ignore the suggestion, but today I was intrigued. I was intrigued mainly because here was a major US corporation prompting discussion on a social issue which is very important to many people, an issue we really cannot afford to ignore as a nation that is very divided. Clicking on today’s option sent me to images of the covers of the following 23 books: How to Be and Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates; So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeomo Oluo; Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by
The Bible on Homosexuality The Bible is not arranged topically to address the issues that arise in our lives or in the consciousness of any culture or society. It is not a book we can easily run to in order to find neat answers to the concerns raised by people living far removed from the circumstances of the Ancient Near East of First Century Palestine. That is just not how it was designed. Life's issues are generally much more complex than what we might dig from the Bible by quickly looking up a few words in a concordance or web search. Some themes are treated throughout the texts that compose the Bible. Others are hardly present at all. What one text may seem to say another might spin differently, challenging us to take a closer look at the first passage and the second, as well. When it comes to a topic like homosexuality, we are dealing with a short list of passages that may or may not have anything to do with what we understand as homosexuality. To further complicate mat
I’ve been the only native English speaker in the room on many occasions. I’ve been the only white face in the room. I’ve sat in the governor’s office surrounded by Latin American political and religious leaders after 9/11 who were concerned about the US using the attack to launch a new war of reprisal. I’ve been the only North American face walking through impoverished neighborhoods, slums, and favelas . I’ve been the only foreigner on the bus with people hanging out the back door. I’ve been the non-citizen in the police office giving a crime report. I know what it is like to be the minority voice, the only person of my race, the only one of my nationality, the only one of my social class, education level, hair color, and so many other things. What I don’t know is what it is like to be the minority voice as one who is considered less for that minority status. Growing up in Brazil, I lived a life of privilege. Oh, we were not wealthy or even really comfortable by standards in the