I’ve been reading the book of Luke lately. In Luke Jesus does lots of cool things, and he tells these things called parables to the crowds who follow him. It made me want to write some of my own. These stories are made up. Don’t take them too seriously.
Jesus went with his disciples to the city, with a great crowd following him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the city gates. The boy, who had been shot and killed by a police officer, was the only son of a widow and many mourners from all over the city were with her. Continue reading
I only learned about this a few weeks ago. For most people, you’re probably like, “I don’t even know what a missionary is, so what if the first one was black?” But when you’re a missionary kid like me who grew up in church hearing stories of missionaries all the time, the fact that this was unknown to you throughout your childhood is kind of a big deal.
I grew up hearing stories about Hudson Taylor and the Judsons (I distinctly remember two-tone flashcard pictures to go along with these Sunday school lessons) who were missionaries to Asia. My parents were always good about colouring the flannel-graph Jesus in a little bit darker to be more realistic for the Bible stories, but we didn’t do that with the missionary stories because, duh, they were all from England or America (or Sweden) and all very white. Continue reading
In Christian communities (churches, missionary groups etc) there often springs up this debate about whether we should be putting funds and resources towards social justice issues or towards evangelism. Here’s how the debate goes, for those of you who aren’t privy to Christian internal disputes. Continue reading
In 2005, Dr Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian doctor living in the US, published a paper about a degenerative brain disease. This disease was causing serious personality changes, violent behavior, memory loss, and even suicide. People— famous people— were exhibiting these horrendous symptoms for years, but no doctors had published papers or studied it enough to come up with a cohesive theory of how these symptoms were connected.
The famous people exhibiting these symptoms were American football players. Continue reading
When it comes to talking about race, white people often feel defensive, angry, and afraid. White people can completely shut down because conversations about race or privilege are so uncomfortable. A researcher named Robin DeAngelo calls this “white fragility“. In a conversation with Sam Adler-Bell, she describes why white people completely shut down:
For white people, their identities rest on the idea of racism as about good or bad people, about moral or immoral singular acts, and if we’re good, moral people we can’t be racist – we don’t engage in those acts. This is one of the most effective adaptations of racism over time—that we can think of racism as only something that individuals either are or are not “doing.”In large part, white fragility—the defensiveness, the fear of conflict—is rooted in this good/bad binary. If you call someone out, they think to themselves, “What you just said was that I am a bad person, and that is intolerable to me.” It’s a deep challenge to the core of our identity as good, moral people.
What we see in Acts and the writings of Paul is that our material possessions are a barometer of our hearts:
“What we do or do not do with our material possessions is an indicator of the Spirit’s presence of absence”.
There is not a confiscation of private property. There is also not a command on how much everyone should give to the poor (there’s no commands to give 10% in the New Testament). But there is an understanding that those who have more will give more, and that “with a mindset of unity we will view our economic resources as available to meet others’ needs”.
Private possessions are not a problem. The problem is possessiveness.
In part one, I gave a picture of how stuff is distributed in our world. I wanted to do that because after reading this book, the biggest take away is as people who follow Jesus we should be very concerned about economic inequality. In the book (aptly titled Neither Poverty Nor Riches, by Craig Blomberg ) the author is attempting to create a textbook that is a Biblical theology of possessions. Biblical Theology is a big word, but what it basically means is he’s going through the whole Bible, taking every mention of possessions, money, wealth, etc. and figuring out what those passages are saying. Basically he’s trying to answer the question: What is the Biblical view of stuff? Continue reading
I’m going to be sharing what I’ve learned about God’s view of stuff from this book I’ve been reading, but first I want to lay some ground work so we’re all talking about the same thing. Before we start talking about God’s view of stuff, it is helpful to get some facts about all the stuff in the world. So, here it goes:
The stuff in the world is not shared equally, in fact, it is shared WAY less equally than we think it is:
Author Julia Alvarez, who escaped the dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and came to America when she was ten years old, has said:
“I would go as far as to say that by reading books, entering other realities, and then taking those adventures back into our own lives, we are freedom fighters. One of the first things that happens in a dictatorship is that books are confiscated, people are not permitted to congregate and share ideas and stories… I know because I lived that reality in a dictatorship. You know it because you have lived that reality in the novel I have written or in other novels you have read about similar situations.”
The English major in me likes this idea. I wrote an essay my senior year about impoverished imaginations being the root of conflict and injustice, and if we read more stories, we would be come more human- humane. I like the idea that even though I’ve never lived under a dictatorship by reading and listening, really listening, to her story, I can understand something about the world, and humanity, and injustice. Continue reading
David arrive home cheerily on Friday night to find the house dark, no supper cooking, and me sitting in a chair crying, clutching my phone.
“What’s going on?” he asked, suddenly worried. It looked like I had just received news that someone had died.
Someone did die. That’s why I was crying.
I’m part of a society that’s killing people.
Mothers who deliver still-born babies are being locked up for years, handicapped and the mentally ill are sentenced to die in prison because the state doesn’t know what else to do with them, 13 year-olds who come from horrific circumstances and have absorbed some of the violence of their environments are being brutally abused in prisons built for men, and will one day die in those prisons because they were sentenced as adults. Illegal all-white juries in Alabama, (even in Monroe county, the town that gives tours of the courthouse where the fictional Atticus Finch defended a black man), are convicting innocent black men to die. One woman was incarcerated for 10 years for writing a bounced check to Toys R Us to buy Christmas presents for her kids. How much more Les Mis does it get? Continue reading