#lasvegas

So very sad and horrified about the news and images coming out of #lasvegas last night. But not at all surprised or shocked in the least.

I mean, really, a gun violence event of this magnitude was inevitable. And not just because of lax gun laws (Although that certainly plays a leading role in the trend of increased gun violence in the United States.) But also because we are a soul-sick culture, where human lives are worth very little, or at least less than making an ideological point or spreading terror or getting some face time on the news or making a quick buck. If we really believed #AllLivesMatter we would act like it, not only by passing meaningful gun control legislation, but also by practicing a politics of humane intentions, where we see the Image of God in every other human being, and we encourage – we demand- that others to do the same.

I don’t even have the energy or desire to talk about gun laws. Because it hardly matters. We have a political system fully in thrall to the Violence and Death lobby, and within a week or two, we will move on from here with nothing being done. If the faces of 20 innocent five- and six-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut who were murdered couldn’t get us to do anything, even with a pro-gun control president and Senate, then I certainly don’t expect this event to. It’s a tired and exhausting charade of faux concern and meaningless “thoughts and prayers,” of endless social media fights about the 2nd Amendment and magazine capacity and good guys with guns and I’m simply not interested.

We move towards preventing this type of thing by doing the little work of loving one another, one small action at a time. We do it by condemning the rhetoric of “us vs. them”, by refusing to support politicians and thought leaders who pit people against people, who refuse to take action, all in the pursuit of more money and power. We do this all in the hope and expectation that it will one day make the world a better place, that it will help prevent this kind of event happening in the future. And we have to do it ourselves, because our leaders aren’t gonna do a damn thing about any of it.

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Welcoming the Stranger at Yale

This is what a Living Gospel looks like in today’s world:

Courtesy of Arnold Gold and Yale News

Three members of the Yale community — Reverend Robert Beloin, Reverend Karl Davis and history professor Jennifer Klein — were arrested on Monday for blocking the entrance to a courthouse in Hartford during a demonstration against the planned deportation of Franklin and Gioconda Ramos, undocumented immigrants facing imminent removal from the country.

Beloin, Davis and Klein were three of 36 people arrested for blocking the entrance to the courthouse. Beloin is Yale’s Roman Catholic chaplain and the chaplain of St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center, while Davis is an assistant chaplain at STM. The arrests were first reported by the New Haven Register. Davis and Beloin are scheduled for an arraignment on October 11 in Hartford Community Court.

“I just find it morally appalling that we’re deporting hardworking people making a contribution to our society,” he told the News. “Pope Francis talks about going to the margins and accompanying people, and I can’t think of a way to go further to the margin and accompany people than to go to a protest and be arrested.”

Undocumented people across the country, in every state, county and town, are living in fear of exactly this: being uprooted from their home, taken away from their children, and sent to a country they once lived in. All because of a line on a map and arbitrary papers.

There is no better witness for the Christian community than to take the words of Jesus seriously about welcoming the stranger by finding out how we can help with undocumented people in our communities. Let the example of Beloin, Davis, and Klein be an example for us all.

You can find resources for action, call scripts, and information for getting in touch with local points of activism by checking out the Indivisible page on DACA.

Patriotism is Overrated

Here is my unpopular opinion for the day: Patriotism is an overrated value. Especially for Christians.

colinBefore I tell you what I mean by this, let me tell you what I don’t mean. I don’t mean that the United States doesn’t have much that is great and wonderful to offer me. I don’t mean that I wish I had been born elsewhere. I don’t mean that I hate my country, or don’t appreciate the role it has played in my having the opportunities I have. I acknowledge all that.

Here is what I do mean: As a Christian, allegiance to country is a lot less important to me than allegiance to the Kingdom shown by Jesus, a kingdom focused on love for people, not flags or anthems. I take very seriously Paul’s universal message from Galatians, that there is no longer Jew or Greek, that we are all one. It’s the same reason I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance: because I don’t pledge the allegiance of my heart to an earthly empire. I don’t put love of country over my duty to God, which is to love other people. America first? No no, human beings first.

That is why I kneel in solidarity with black and brown America right now. Because the very same United States that has given me -a straight, white, middle class male- such wonderful opportunities, has not done so consistently for Americans of other races and nationalities throughout history. Instead, it had enslaved them, murdered them, forcibly removed them, segregated them, sought to ban them, lynched them, redlined them, arrested them, shot them, scorned them, hated them, forgotten them, made them second-class citizens, and killed them. Not as a by-product of some other goal, but as the primary goal of dealing with their existence. All the while, Old Glory was waved about and they were told it represented the very country that was oppressing them. So yeah, they probably don’t have good, positive associations about the flag.

This is why courageous powerful individuals like Colin Kaepernick kneel. For four hundred years, black, brown, and immigrant America has been trying to get the attention of white America, to get us to respect their humanity, admit our wrongs, and treat them as full human beings. They couldn’t get our attention by crying out, by marching, by sitting in, by writing, by singing, by showcasing their humanity to us. But they figured out how to get our attention, by interrupting our own gladiator games, by kneeling in front of the opium we use to ignore the injustice of the world. They got your attention. And yet you think this is about a flag, or a song. News flash: it’s not. But it was the only damn way to get your attention. Wake up America.

Patriotism is overrated because patriotism has done very little to improve the lives of the human beings who have for too long been under the heels of the powerful. And so when I say patriotism is overrated, what I mean is, I put myself on the side of my fellow human beings well before I put myself on the side of a flag. No matter what that flag has done for me. Because every advantage it brings me rings hollow as long as I know that somewhere, someone else is getting worn down by it, that my success comes at their expense and that flag tries to tell me that’s ok. Nope, it’s not. I’ll be a proud patriot when that flag admits the wrongs it has done and does real, tangible work to rectify and repair them.

That’s why I kneel in solidarity with those across the country who are sick of seeing black and brown bodies bleeding out in the street, who are sick of hearing the president defend white supremacists while calling athletes “sons of bitches.” Make me choose between the flag and other humans, and I’m gonna pick humans every time, and I don’t even feel the least bit bad about that. Jesus didn’t teach me that the greatest commandment was to love my country. It is to love my neighbor as myself.

Note: I wrote this on Facebook the other day, and get an overwhelmingly positive response. I’m happy to share it here for those I’m connected with on Facebook.