Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: HH Brownsmith
The Bible is brimming with instances of people waiting for a prophet or movement only to have that person or mobilization arrive and go unrecognized or, worse yet, be violently suppressed because it doesn’t conform to the expectations of the waiting masses.
Since I started working and/or living in radical Christian settings seven years ago, I have heard elders wax nostalgic about the civil rights movement. I have watched older folks who lived during the end of the Jim Crow era weep when discussing their own recognition of that important historical and cultural shift. I have also watched elders chastise young folks, sometimes rightfully, for failing to care about this history; the nonviolent tactics employed; and the ways hearts, minds, and institutions were forever altered.
I write about a lot of issues with the marginal confidence of a generalist. But if there is an issue on which my nerve consistently fails it is on the generational tension and resulting divide as it exists in the radical Christian left. This issue of generational conflict feels close…maybe too close. I have watched the “old guard” in established Christian communities push out younger folks for misunderstandings that boil down to generational politics (i.e. democratic socialism vs. anarchism). I have watched young people leave established churches to start generationally homogenous churches of their own. And, of course, I have seen so many people under 40 leave parish ministries and take their seminary training to chaplaincy work or academia.
Wondering if perhaps there was something to our elders complaints that young folks are disrespectful and too "now focused", I decided to really seek instruction from "the silent generation". I am a member of a church with only 3 consistently attending members in their 20s (my partner and I are included in that number). I am now employed by that church. And over the last year I was part of an apprenticeship program administered by this church and five of my favorite ministers, all but one of whom is over sixty. This experience of committing to a religious community and earnestly trying to understand the stories that my generation supposedly won’t hear has given me a stronger understanding of our elders’ position. Naturally, greater understanding makes critique even harder. But I do hope that it gives the resulting critique the weight of a well-informed position.
Note: This article was originally published on Women in Theology and is the first of what will be a three part series.
How could anyone expect to profit from unpayable loans without debtors who were already marked by their racial/cultural difference ensuring that at least some among them would not be able to pay? This is precisely what makes 'high-risk' securities profitable. The Black and Latino/a holders of subprime loans, like Dana, owe incomprehensible and unpayable monetary debts precisely because they are not constructed as referents of either the relationship between persons presumed in commerce (which Graeber states precedes all other economic circumstances) or the capacity that according to Karl Marx ultimately determines their value of exchange (the productivity which John Locke, David Ricardo, and Marx agreed elevated the human thing). (Denise Ferreira Da Silva and Paula Chakravartty, Accumulation, Dispossession, and Debt, 367)
Money promises value, as Philip Goodchild announces in the quote above. The promise of value is also the production of more money. Because money promises value, for more value to be created, more money must be created. In Goodchild's elaboration, this creation of money to satiate the value it promises is the creation of debt. That is, the promise of value requires the creation of debt in order to produce value.
If money, according to Goodchild, is the promise of value ”a promise which creates debt” blackness, following Ferraira da Silva and Chakravartty's analysis, is the invention of an indelible indebtedness, the promise of a permanent inability to pay the debt that money creates. Blackness' indebtedness is a demarcation of the threat that is named poverty. The threat of poverty in the US is figured as black as the threat of global poverty is figured as Africa. The threat of poverty that blackness represents is the threat that secures the promise of money's value. In other words, money is valuable and desirable because its accumulation is how one proves they are not-black. Goodchild understands the threat to value as exclusion from participation in social life and the loss of freedom:
By: Ewuare X. Osayande
This originally appeared on Ewuare's website.
As many shop for Christmas presents in the malls of America, still many others have taken to the streets all over this nation in protest to the rash of police killings of African Americans under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter. This jarring juxtaposition of realities is best captured by the photograph from Ferguson of St. Louis police officers in riot gear standing below a “Seasons Greetings” banner bedecked with Christmas lights. The seasonal themes of “peace and good will” and “glad tidings to all men” have been rendered meaningless in the face of such fascistic state-sponsored intimidation as Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of their Savior, Jesus the Christ.
But contrary to the sermons that are being preached during this Advent season, the first Christmas was not as “calm and bright” as the Christmas carol suggests. As today, that first Christmas pageant was indeed a pageant of protest. In fact, this present juxtaposition of realities was the same stark contrast faced by the people to whom Christ was born. The Hebrew people lived under fear of death at the hands of a militarized state. The level of repression being visited upon Black America at this very hour in the United States is strikingly similar in spirit and expression to what the people of Galilee felt and knew when Jesus was born.
Editors note: this article originally appeared on Nekeisha’s blog: Everyday Oppression, Everyday Resistance.
“My client did not wait to become that victim,” he said. “My client did not wait to either get assaulted by a weapon or have someone potentially pull a trigger,” he said.
“Now, does it sound irrational? Of course it sounds irrational. But have you ever been in that situation?” Strolla asked.
— Quoted from “Michael Dunn convicted of attempted murder; jury can’t decide on murder” by Tom Watkins and Greg Botelho, CNN Justice
So let me get this straight: Michael Dunn was not a victim of assault. He was not a victim of a shooting. He acted irrationally — aka insanely, stupidly and crazily — by shooting into a vehicle filled with Black teenagers and killing Jordan Davis, all because he didn’t like the volume of the music in their car. And yet, somehow, his lawyer manages to construe this incident as one in which Dunn was so afraid that he had no other option but to defend himself with deadly force? Really?
By: Doug Muder
Editors Note: This essay originally appeared at The Weekly Sift
In a memorable scene from the 1998 film Pleasantville (in which two 1998 teen-agers are transported into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV show), the father of the TV-perfect Parker family returns from work and says the magic words “Honey, I’m home!”, expecting them to conjure up a smiling wife, adorable children, and dinner on the table.
This time, though, it doesn’t work. No wife, no kids, no food. Confused, he repeats the invocation, as if he must have said it wrong. After searching the house, he wanders out into the rain and plaintively questions this strangely malfunctioning Universe: “Where’s my dinner?”
By: Eda Ruhiye Uca
Some of us who watch in awe and delight at the incredible well of energy, perseverance, and hope of the Occupy Wall Street movement are getting word of anti-racist critiques of the language and organizing strategies, particularly around declarative statements released on the Occupy Wall Street website and dispersed to media outlets. It is important to note- as the organizers do- that “demand is a process” and the new day voice of the community-in-process emerges continually without necessarily being pinned down by the bulletin board messages of the passing day. The voices of people of color, it seems, are being heard and integrated, though not without the fearless contributions of people of color sometimes in the face of serious resistance. I want to highlight some of the discussion as it is occurring mainly through articles and online forums not, as some might fear, to disparage the movement but rather to learn from the anti-racism discussion in progress.
For the sake of utmost transparency: I am a woman of color who approaches movement work predominantly led by white people with a hermeneutic of suspicion and, while I have gotten some word on the happenings in Occupy Boston, I have not gone to see what’s happening on the ground there since it officially started this past Friday. (I do plan to go down there with a faith community of which I’m a part sometime in October.)
By: Eda Ruhiye Uca
In The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible(New Haven, Yale University Press, 2006), Allen Dwight Callahan illuminates the unique history of African American exegesis, highlighting especially Exile, Exodus, Ethiopia, and Emmanuel. In it, Callahan takes on the American myth and the grotesque irony that “the land that the Puritan founders called the Promised Land has been Pharaoh’s Egypt for African Americans”, a ‘promised land’ beyond reach of a people without the resources to take it; as put by freed man, Charles Davenport: “how us gwine a-take lan’ what’s already been took?”1 Callahan’s thesis is that which was the vast gulf between the political and religious experiences of Puritans and Africans in North America continues on in their descendants today. The breadth of his brilliant book will not be summarized by this writer here. (You’ll have to read it for yourselves.) Yet in the face of crumbling gains in wealth among African Americans Callahan’s thesis takes on a renewed urgency for those followers and friends of Jesus who are aching for racial reconciliation.
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Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Liza Minno Bloom
Eda Ruhiye Uca