Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why Ferguson is Personal to Me

The Rev. Linda Kaufman
I am a white woman, and I am a recipient of white privilege. One time I was riding my bike and I was struck by how much better a rider I had become. I was faster and stronger and not so winded. Except that when I turned around I realized I had had a pretty stiff tailwind the whole way out. That is white privilege: claiming that my success is caused by me – and not by an invisible outside force (racism).

My beloved wife, Liane, is black. Our two sons are young black men in their twenties. They have both struggled with the law.

One of my sons spent four days in jail last week. Why?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why We Should Care About All of the "Isms"

Emily Rowell Brown
Colonialism, heterosexism, racism, sexism, ableism…the list goes on and on. This plethora of terms for ways we oppress one another is one more indicator of how inequitable our world is, if recent events have not convinced us. How will we ever achieve justice?

I think most of us already have an impulse that we need somehow to respond to the tragedy in Ferguson, the unrest in the Middle East, and the trauma in Africa. After all, we pray each week in our liturgy for peace and healing, we look to Jesus as the ultimate example for how to treat one another with compassion and mercy, and we attempt to love boldly and inexhaustibly. Yet in spite of our call to help ensure that every human receives the opportunity to thrive, we can struggle to know how we figure into the problem and the solution. Addressing the hunger on the street corner next to the church building is one thing; determining what the capture of young girls in Nigeria and a shooting in Missouri have to do with us are entirely different beasts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hands Up

Jeremy Ayers
Last week my Facebook feed was full of stories about Michael Brown, but only after the protests and violence began. The hard truth is that August 9, 2014 was yet one more day in America where unarmed black men are shot and killed.

In just the last month, police officers killed three other unarmed black men: Eric Garner in New York, John Crawford III in Ohio, and Ezell Ford in Los Angeles. Nearly two times a week a white police officer killed a black person between 2005 and 2012, according to data reported to the FBI. I do not know all the facts in these cases. But, we cannot deny the reality that black men are disproportionately the subjects of violence. Nor can we ignore the increasing militarization of our police.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Calamity and Redemption

Liane Rozzell
At our church’s adult forum this past Sunday, we talked about the Genesis passage where Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers. We discussed how this calamity in Joseph’s life ultimately turned out for the best for him and his entire family. This flowed into a conversation about how we cannot discern God’s overall design, and that situations we perceive as disasters may be part of a greater, more redemptive plan.

This got me wondering. Should we see God’s hand in the calamity itself, as well as in its redemption? The Bible and history are full of examples of how God can redeem terrible situations and heal people after almost unimaginable horrors. But when people survive or thrive after enduring horrific situations, I think it is dangerous to assume that the calamity itself was ordained by God. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Summer Joy

The Rev. Dr. Stephanie Nagley
It was a summer day like any other. Bob Gordon, with his big brown dog riding shotgun, pulled his red Ford truck into Charlie Freiberg’s gas station. When Bob finished filling up with gas and talking to Charlie, the dog was rewarded with an ice cream bar. “Put it on the tab”, Bob told Charlie; as they drove off to check out the new harvesters at the John Deere dealership. Down the block Mr. Olmstead swept the sidewalk in front of his grocery store and across the street Fred and Ruth Turk opened up the hardware store.