Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
Jesus Radicals encourages participation in the upcoming second national general strike on February 17th. The grassroots movement to revive the general strike as a powerful tactic in the hands of working people against their exploiters is calling for this second strike in response to the new administration's attack on immigrants and all working people. This is an opportunity for working people to send a clear message that we will not tolerate the divisive, gaslighting politics of this administration that would like us believe that our enemy is beside us—be them muslim or latinx immigrants—rather than above us—the bosses and landlords who exploit us.
On February 17th we are committed to no work, no school, and no shopping. Instead, we will organize locally to demonstrate our dissent and demand the following:
1. No Ban, No Wall. The Muslim ban is immoral, the wall is expensive and ineffectual. We will build bridges, not walls.
2. Healthcare For All. Healthcare is a human right. Do not repeal the ACA. Improve it or enact Medicare for All.
3. No Pipelines. Rescind approval for DAPL and Keystone XL and adopt meaningful policies to protect our environment. It's the only one we've got.
4. End the Global Gag Rule. We cannot put the medical care of millions of women around the globe at risk.
5. Disclose and Divest. Show us your taxes. Sell your company. Ethics rules exist for a reason and presidents should focus on the country, not their company.
More information on the strike can be found at:
On Facebook @ Strike4Democracy
On Twitter @F17Strike
A call for a national and global day of action is being circulated for January 20th, 2017—inauguration day. Fellow Jesus radicals are encouraged to join this day of resistance in whatever way possible—be it conveneing with the main mobilization in Washington D.C. or by organizing collective actions and demonstrations locally whereever you are. Additionally we encourage all to participate in the inauguration day General Strike to bring business as usual to a screeching halt. As the collective witholding of our labor is one of the most effective weapons we possess against those who exploit and claim mastery over us, a mass refusal to work on January 20th will send a clear message that we refuse to tolerate the rampantly white-supremacist, hyper-nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-muslim vision of America being heralded by this changing of the guard. Join us in this commitment for no work, no school, no shopping to instead hit the streets and demonstrate our collective power.
National actions are being organized through DisruptJ20.org and the related Facebook Event Page which can be used to get more information about and plugin to the main mobilization in Washington D.C. as well as other local actions and events across the nation.
The original call to action from #DisruptJ20:
We call on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies. If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule.
By: Drew G.I. Hart
Note: Originally posted at Drew's blog Taking Jesus Seriously on the Christian Century.
"When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
Christmas, for many, is about the warm and fuzzy feelings that come from buying and sharing gifts with loved ones and for some it is also a reminder of Jesus’ birth. The Christian calendar pushes us even further past the commercialism and the narrowness of that one day and turns the church’s attention towards cycling through a season of anticipating the coming of Jesus. We can be thankful for this redirection. However, since much of the Christian calendar as we know it developed alongside Christendom, Advent also frequently failed to communicate the good news of Jesus’ coming in the midst of the cycles of violence and oppression. If we are to understand the delivering force of Jesus’ coming and presence on the earth, we must un-domesticate the Jesus story.
The cycles of violence and oppression in our world are certainly not new. Over and over again societies have chosen to organize their lives through systems that violate the dignity of the poor, crush the oppressed, and execute the dreamers that find the courage to live into the possibilities of another world. This is reenacted through the biblical story and through all of human history. For example, in our society today, Black Americans are scripted by the broader society’s narrative as suspicious and dangerous criminals that need constant surveillance. It is believed that vigilante policing is needed to remove and control their black bodies and the danger they present to other Americans. Furthermore, too many African American communities are a den of exploitation. As black people fled the south from white terrorism in the early 20th century, they were systematically forced into racially confined borders now called ghettos. The resources, opportunities, and institutions, as well as economic wealth, were removed or significantly stifled in these neighborhoods while those that were able to labor frequently did so only to bring more wealth to those outside of their communities. This colonial-like exploitation is combined with ongoing violence, discrimination, and demonization. Mob violence and lynching, police brutality, and entire systems, like the convict leasing system of the early 20th century or the modern day prison industrial complex, disproportionately targeted black communities.
Today the choice to take the path of destruction and death rather than the way of life can be seen when we do not fund education but instead funnel that money towards prisons, when we spend more money on a global military complex rather than for the flourishing of those who are hungry and impoverished. In the United States, many are calling for the mass deportation of thousands of vulnerable refugees, our society is targeting Muslims through dehumanizing and hateful threats, and many people refuse to see the imago Dei in LGBTQ persons. Women (disproportionately WOC) still continue to experience sexual assaults on our college campuses as well as in their neighborhoods and homes. And our society recently watched as the ongoing forces of violence brutally unfolded once again against indigenous Americans and their relation to their ancestral lands. In this country, the vicious cycles of violence and oppression are intertwined with the multidimensional overlaps of white supremacy, patriarchy, and plutocracy. Far from abstract ideas and theories, these forces have been devastating real people and the bodies they inhabit.
Jesus came into a society that also had been going through its own ongoing cycles of violence and oppression. Not only was he born under Roman occupation, but more directly under Herod the Great, who according to the book of Matthew was an egotistical and self-conscious leader that couldn’t help but attempt to squelch anyone and everyone that competed with his reign (sound familiar?). According to Matthew's account, Herod got fooled by the wise men because he wanted them to report back to him about the status of the Messiah but instead they took another route back home to avoid him. Getting outsmarted and bamboozled made him very angry. Herod unleashed a violent top-down decree that targeted the young boys in and around the Bethlehem region. This unjust “Law and Order” attempt to shut down the possibility that another world could arise, one that could exist without him as its leader, became a death-dealing attack on vulnerable children. Infant boys up to toddlers the age of 2 were being dragged out of their homes and executed. This regional genocide of the boys, within this gospel narrative, was all part of an attempt to uphold and renew Herod’s imagined supremacy in the land. Parents, siblings, and neighbors watched as an inhumane policy manifested into young lifeless Jewish boys’ bodies laying on the ground as though their lives were not precious. In response, mothers lamented and wailed:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
The cries of those that suffer were heard by God. While Herod probably closed his ears to the pain of those that had loved ones abruptly taken, God had heard their weeping and would not abandon them. The God of the Bible is not a Herod or Caesar-like figure but just with super-sized power. God’s character is holy and unlike such fragile rulers. God does not puppet humanity nor does our Creator orchestrate every human event (though God certainly is present in those moments actively overcoming our evil with divine good). God has not preordained evil nor does he find pleasure in human violence. Rather than imposing Godself onto others, God is present in the world actively but non-coercively shepherding creation towards liberation and shalom. Jesus’ coming, as such, is no different.
Jesus’ coming as the messiah of God should be understood in response to the troubles of this world. The enduring night of violence and oppression are not inconsequential to Jesus’ presence among us. Jesus was born into the chaos of violence and oppression, but the Way of Jesus invites disciples to enter, in contrast, into a gracious and life-giving path of deliverance out of these devastating cycles. Yes, he came to deliver us from our sin; our personal sin, our collective sin, our societal and systemic sin, and our generational sin, etc. By God’s grace, there is a better Way than remaining complacent in the status quo world as it is. We should not be comfortable with this arrangement and we certainly should not be conforming to its patterns. Through the delivering Way of Jesus, enemies are converted into friends, the oppressed are liberated, the last are made first, the outcasts are gathered around the Messianic banquet table, and in Jesus we find our hope.
When we take a closer look at vs. 18 in the second chapter of Matthew, we are told that Rachel is weeping for her children and refuses to be comforted. At a quick glance this might feel like a passage of despair, but a careful reading reveals the true hope Jesus provides for us. This passage is quoting from Jeremiah 31:15. In the original biblical context, this verse of lament is actually situated in a passage steeped with a dramatic proclamation of hope that God is about to do a new thing which will restore God’s people from exile and distress. In the broader passage that sandwiches this one verse, God commits to a coming time when the children of God will be rescued from oppression, returned to their land, and rebuilt as a people. All of this flows out of their humbly walking with God through faithful repentance (31:16). This is hope in God's shalom; the restoration of God's people living into their calling with one another, with their Creator, and with the land.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or Advent, what matters is that we grasp the liberating power that the Way of Jesus has opened up for us. It is a non-coercive gift, but when we accept the call to become a disciple of Jesus, following his teachings and life, we abide with God and we participate in a divine disruption of the cycles that kill and destroy life and flourishing. 1 John 2:6 reminds us that abiding in God requires also that we live as Jesus lived. That should be a reminder that warm and fuzzy feelings through Christmas carols or advent liturgy are fine, but if it doesn't break the cycles of violence and oppression devastating our lives while we follow Jesus tangibly every day in community with others, then we probably are not centered in God as much as we might like to think. The United States has some difficult days ahead, so the presence of Jesus made real in our lives, which is able to deliver us from which entangles us, is needed if we are going to struggle for peace and justice in a faithfully credible way. There are many people weeping and lamenting these days, unable to be comforted because of the suffering they have already experienced, and for others they weep because of the fear of the possibility of hardships to come. May there be a people of God that can, by God’s grace, walk as Jesus walked while drying their tears and helping them encounter the Messiah’s reign breaking into their world this season.
Drew G. I. Hart is an author and professor in theology and ethics. His blog Taking Jesus Seriously is hosted by the Christian Century.
By: Ric Hudgens
Editor's Note: This article is Part Three of a three-part series of Jesus Radicals contributors responding to the 2016 election. Part One, "White Supremacy: Insecurity with Lethal Consequences" and Part Two, "Can You Hear Us Now?"
In the next four years we will learn the difference between electing a recurring problem and electing an original threat.
Hillary Clinton as President would have been enormously problematic. I was not a fan. I supported Bernie Sanders - the first time I’ve supported a traditional party candidate since Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign. Was Sanders that much better than Clinton? No and yes. Sanders was just as tone deaf on race and Palestine as Clinton; but he brought some distinctive strengths and a message that might (just might) have defeated he-who-shall-not-be-named.
It has been an election of Independents running in traditional parties. One did remarkably well and barely lost to an establishment Democrat. The other Independent defeated every traditional Republican challenger and to everyone’s astonishment including his own ascended to the White House. Both traditional parties are left in confusion.
We have elected a threat and not just a traditional threat. Yes, racism is as old as Jamestown. True, racists have been in the White House before. But the combination of blatant white supremacy with one party rule, control of the Supreme Court, and the power of contemporary surveillance and weaponry poses a nightmare scenario previously unknown. We are in deep shit.
By: Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Editor's Note: This article is Part Two of a three-part series of Jesus Radicals contributors responding to the 2016 election. Part One, "White Supremacy: Insecurity with Lethal Consequences" and Part Three, "Despair Is Not A Weapon"
On the day after the election, I woke up to find White supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, ableism and other oppressive energies in full force. Which is to say that I woke up to the same reality as the morning before and the mornings that proceeded it. It was an ordinary day.
That what many of us have known to be true and have been saying—that White rage and discontent, and White male dissatisfaction in particular, is deeply entrenched and widespread; that these sentiments could actually result in this outcome; that White progressives needed to confront, challenge and deal with the festering sores within White communities, yes even among the “rednecks” and “hillbillies” that they disregard and disparage—finally came into sharp relief for some does not make it a wake-up call for all. As I watched the results roll in and got out of bed hours after, I was not surprised. I did not grieve. I did not despair. I did not mourn. I felt vindicated. I felt a tad more resolve than the day before. And I wanted to yell from the top of the tallest building with the biggest bullhorn, “I fucking told you so.” We. Fucking. Told you so.
And I felt rage. The kind of rage that lodges tight in your sternum and threatens to bring hot tears to your face. Except what you really want to do is scream the kind of scream that does not give out until your body does or someone calls the police. Because it did not have to be this way. We did not need a Trump presidency just to witness the obvious, just to acknowledge what people have been saying from Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock to the other liberation struggles of our day and before us.
It did not have to get this far. But it has. And our response, but especially the response of those who were so self-assured, who remained silent, who shied away from conflict, who gave into fear and/or preached moderation, will help determine whether we are facing catastrophe or a catalyst for good.
By: Jesus Radicals
Last Saturday, November 19, Iconocast Canvas teamed up with the Eco-Pax and Social Reform clubs at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana to host Standing with Standing Rock: A Benefit Event. Today, on #NoBlackSnakeFriday, we are glad to announce that the arts and awareness-raising event, raised more than $2,300 dollars to support water protectors resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Cannonball, North Dakota. All the proceeds will be donated to their legal defense fund.
The benefit, which was emceed by Canvas originators Nekeisha Alayna Alexis and Seth Martin, brought together a variety of local creatives and activists, including spoken word poets Mimi Salvador Lucero and Antonius Northern; musicians Nayla Jimenez, Josh Kinder of Good Edgar Oak, Abe Medellin and Nayo Ulloa; dancers Philip Chan and Nimoy Vaidya, and song leader Nicole Bauman. Nekeisha and Seth also performed, with Nekeisha offering poetry and song; and Seth playing guitar and singing alongside bassist Evra Tshisola. The video “Standing Strong,” the short film produced by the Indigenous Environmental Network, provided context for the months-long struggle.
The highlight of the evening was featured speaker Michelle Sky Walker, member of the Omaha tribe from the Buffalo Clan, who has been supporting the Standing Rock movement with her presence at the camp and through her organizing efforts among indigenous and other communities in Nebraska. Joining us live via internet connection, she reflected on the necessity of the resistance and the conditions on the ground, and took part in a question and answer session with attendees that was facilitated by Mimi.
By: Joanna Shenk
Editor's Note: This article is Part One of a three-part series of Jesus Radicals contributors responding to the 2016 election. Part Two, "Can You Hear Us Now?" and Part Three, "Despair Is Not A Weapon."
Here we are. It’s been another week. Another normal week in the United States of America. Hate is rearing its ugly head. People committed to justice are resisting and embodying a way of being that honors and protects those most vulnerable.
To this end, caravans are headed to Standing Rock from all over the country. People are making phone calls to elected officials, electoral college voters, and the Army Corp. of Engineers. San Francisco (where I live) passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to being a sanctuary city. Oodles of articles are available, offering analysis of why hate and arrogance now have such a terrifyingly large and loud platform. And many people are woke and willing to act for justice in courageous ways.
There is so much that could be said. And I know that whatever I add could be said better.
On November 20 the lectionary theme was “the reign of Christ” and Psalm 46 was one of the texts.
46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
46:3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
46:6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; at God’s voice, the earth melts.
46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
For some people the last few weeks have felt like the earth changing, mountains falling into the sea and a lot of uproar. For others it has been an unsurprising affirmation of their lived experience.
By: Dan Oudshoorn
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
He has become a dwelling place of 1%ers,
a haunt of every foul spirit,
with waters covered in Corexit,
and the land covered with black snakes.
For all the nations have drunk
of the wine of the wrath of his rapaciousness,
and the kings of the earth have all flown on Jeffrey Epstein’s Boeing 727,
and the bankers of the earth have grown rich from the power of his luxury.”
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come away from him, my people,
so that you do not take part in his sins,
and so that you do not share in his plagues;
for his sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered his iniquities.
Render to him as he himself has rendered,
and repay him double for his deeds;
mix a double draught for him in the cup he mixed.
As he glorified himself and lived luxuriously,
so give him a like measure of torment and grief.
Since in his heart he says,
‘I will build a great wall;
I will grab them by the pussy,
and I will never see grief,’
therefore his plagues will come in a single day--
pestilence and mourning and famine --
and he will be burned with fire (you’re fired);
for mighty is the Lord God who judges him.”
By: Rev. Dr. Jarrod Cochran
"So, you're voting for Trump?"
This is the question that I am inevitably met with whenever I discuss my concerns and qualms over Hillary Clinton's track record with war-making, Wall Street, and neoliberal policy. How did raising concerns over one candidate automatically mean that I'm on another candidate's "team"? We've boiled down our electoral choices to soda options?
If you don't like Pepsi, you must like Coca-Cola.
You're either with us or against us.
If you vote for the opposing team, the terrorists win.
Not only does this binary view of politics betray our humanity and force us into continual compromises—voting for the lesser of two evils. It also rejects our understanding of the world as followers of Jesus and his radical message.
Back in the early 2000’s, I was a pretty big deal in liberal and progressive Christian circles. I don’t say this to brag, as I am pretty sure that’s how it just came across, but illustrate a point. During that time, I helped to lay the groundwork for the progressive Christian revitalization that occurred during George W. Bush’s time in office. I worked for and with organizations like CrossLeft, Sojourners, Social Redemption, Tikkun, and the Progressive Christian Alliance. These organizations worked to speak of a different aspect of Christianity, one which offered an alternative to conservative, right-wing Christianity—what came to be known as the Religious Right.
Jesus Radicals co-organizer Nekeisha was recently interviewed by Shane Blackshear on Missio Alliance's podcast "Seminary Dropout" about the ethics of choosing not to vote. Listen to the full interview here.
The viewpoints expressed in each reader-submitted article are the authors own, and not an “official Jesus Radicals” position. For more on our editorial policies, visit our submissions page. If you want to contact an author or you have questions, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us.
Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Liza Minno Bloom
Eda Ruhiye Uca