Treasures of Darkness [Inspired by Isaiah 45:3]

God promises us treasures in the dark –
secrets and riches hidden within night –
inky wisdoms burst forth – if only we
dive into the depths of divine darkness.

Book Review for ‘Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change’ by Jim Antal

Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change by Jim Antal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change’ by Jim Antal is one of the most concise, coherent, and personal explanations of the Christian imperative for the Church to be at the forefront of addressing Climate Change that I have ever read. Antal expertly weaves scripture and theological doctrines with explanations of scientific data mixed and personal experiences/human stories to demonstrate of how Climate justice is an intersectional issue that Christians cannot ignore.

He starts out by laying down the facts of the climate crisis in which we live and all of its intersectional justice issues it causes/affects in chapter one. In chapter two, he demonstrates how God is the guide and framework from which we can address these intersectional issues of the climate crisis. He then explains how climate change activism must become a central vocation of the church today in chapter three. He then explains how a church can analyze itself for true climate justice work through different fruits, or marks, in chapter four. Chapter five explains how addressing the climate crisis is actually discipleship/training issue. He follows this up with an explanation of how Christian worship is a central pathway to manifesting discipleship and vocation through climate justice in chapter six. This puts an imperative upon clergy to be at the forefront of this training and justice work in the Church. As a result, Antal provides tangible advice and actions that clergy can take toward prophetic climate justice preaching in chapter seven. Chapter eight than explains how the Church can work toward communal action and communal salvation together through climate justice action, often in the form of civil disobedience as spiritual practice. Chapter nine explains how optimism, while helpful, is not ‘hope.’ In the face of the dire climate crisis facing us, positive thinking is not enough. We must have faith and trust in the HOPE that God will transform our actions toward climate justice into tangible miracles and change. And we must do this by having love, gratitude, and care toward the Earth through the worship and recognition of our CREATOR God. Finally, Antal closes out the book with an epilogue and appendix that provide first hand insights and resources for faith leaders (clergy and lay leaders) to use in moving their communities toward climate justice communities.

In considering how gratitude and love must ground our hope driven work rather than silence and fear, this quote was my favorite:
“ when considering civil disobedience and the other forms of witness, people have shared with me that love is their most powerful motivation-Love of God; mother nature; love a beauty; love of their children; love of creatures and plants and all their diversity; love the impossible way in which this planet provides all living things with everything we need to flourish. What I have seen time and time again is that when a person allows herself to love creation in these and other ways, and when a person also allows herself to face the extent to which humanity has compromised, extinguished, and threatened all that she loves, the courage emerges to respond to the call to bear witness. Gratitude is another powerful motivating force among those who bear witness-gratitude for having been given life; gratitude for God‘s creation and all the ways it has nourished one’s life; gratitude for the support that friends and loved ones are provided; gratitude for this particular moment, as well as the gift of time itself; gratitude for the dreams and aspirations that mysteriously arise from within…. Fear that what we love will be destroyed is a powerful catalyst for action. That fear is amplified if we learn that far off consequences will soon be imminent. But a person needs more than fear to stay engaged and make long-term changes and enduring commitments. If you are can be an affective catalyst. But the most powerful motivators and sustainers of change are love and gratitude” (144-145).

Be blessed by these words and act. Amen.

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An Elegy for Dismantling White Supremacy

We must dismantle white supremacy

root out corruption in theology –

Christian nationalism heresy –

that creates oppressive hegemony.

Ending white supremacy’s tyranny

would mean co-creating God’s peaceable

Kin-dom in the now, and eternity,

Earth begets Heaven interminable.

Jesus Christ modeled how to resist

oppressive legalese of the elite

through love that is political and persists

until all people can flourish replete.

This is the Spirit-driven task to which

we are called and led as Christ followers –

to tend to the poor and not to the rich –

salvation: the welfare of all others.

Celebrate Juneteenth by ACTING toward Equity and Justice for Black and Brown Communities

Tomorrow we commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth becoming a Federally recognized holiday AND the black activists who made it happen.

But we also must ACT toward a more equitable future for the flourishing of ALL people, especially black and brown people.

Here are some ways you can commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth by ACTING:

1. Support Black Owned Businesses and Organizations in your area:

2. Call your Senators and Local Officials and demand that they support the passage of HR1: For the People Act AND HR4: Voting Rights Advancement Act. These Bills will ensure equal and fair access to our most fundamental constitutional right: VOTING!

3. Educate yourself. If you don’t know the full history behind Juneteenth, spend some time researching.

4. Attend Juneteenth events in your area.

5. Celebrate Black Joy and Excellence!

Book Review of ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century’ by Timothy Snyder

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even though Trump lost the 2020 election, we have much work to do in restoring/expanding electoral democracy into a truly accessible and representative system. This book provides practical and essential signposts and steps to resist tyranny/authoritarianism and evermore live-into our representative democracy.

‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century’ by Timothy Snyder is a MUST read that is concise, direct, and pocket sized!

“Any election can be the last, or at least the last in the lifetime of the person casting the vote” (Snyder 29).

“We believe that we have checks and balances, but have rarely faced a situation like the present: when the less popular of the two parties controls every lever of power at the federal level, as well as the majority of state houses. The party that exercises such control proposes few policies that are popular with the society at large, and several that are generally unpopular – and thus must either fear democracy or weaken it” (Snyder 30).

“You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case….As observers of totalitarianism…noticed, truth dies in four modes. The first mode is the open hostility to verifiable reality, which takes the form of presenting inventions and lies as if they were facts. The president does this at a high rate and at a fast pace. One attempt during the 2016 campaign to track his utterances found that 78% of his factual claims were false. This proportion is so high that it makes the correct assertions seem like unintended oversights on the path toward total fiction. Demeaning the world as it is begins the creation of a fictional counter world” (Snyder 66).

“Since in the age of the Internet we are all publishers, each of us bears some private responsibility for the public’s sense of truth. If we are serious about seeking the facts, we can each make a small revolution in the way the Internet works. If you are verifying information for yourself, you will not send on fake news to others. If you choose to follow reporters whom you have reason to trust, you can also transmit what they have learned to others. If you retweet only the work of humans who have followed journalistic protocols, you are less likely to debase your brain interacting with bots and trolls. We do not see the minds that we hurt when we publish falsehoods, but that does not mean we do not harm. Think of driving a car. We may not see the other driver, but we know not to run into their car. We know that the damage will be mutual. We protect the other person without seeing him, dozens of times every day. Likewise, although we may not see the other person in front of his or her computer, we have our share of responsibility for what is on the screen. If we can avoid doing violence to the minds of unseen others on the Internet, others will learn to do the same. And then perhaps our Internet traffic will cease to look like one great, bloody accident” (Snyder 79-80).

“When the American president speaks of fighting terrorism alongside Russia, what he is proposing to the American people is terror management: the exploitation of real, dubious, and simulated terror attacks to bring down democracy. The Russian recap of the first telephone call between the president and Vladimir Putin is telling: the two men “shared the opinion that it is necessary to join forces against the common enemy number one: international terrorism and extremism” (Snyder 109-110).

“A nationalist will say that “it can’t happen here,” which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it” (Snyder 114).

“If young people do not begin to make history, politicians of eternity and inevitability will destroy it. And to make history, young Americans will have to know some. This is not the end, but a beginning” (Snyder 126).

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Goodreads review for ‘Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning’ by Cathy Park Hong

This book is a MUST read for those of us who are white.

“As the poet Prageeta Sharma said, Americans have an expiration date on race the way they do for grief. At some point, they expect you to get over it.”

“Patiently educating a clueless white person about race is draining. It takes all your powers of persuasion. Because it’s more than a chat about race. It’s ontological. It’s like explaining to a person why you exist, or why you feel pain, or why your reality is distinct from their reality. Except it’s even trickier than that. Because the person has all of Western history, politics, literature, and mass culture on their side, proving that you don’t exist.”

“Of course, “white tears” does not refer to all pain but to the particular emotional fragility a white person experiences when they find racial stress so intolerable they become hypersensitive and defensive, focusing the stress back to their own bruised ego.”

“Suddenly Americans feel self-conscious of their white identity and this self-consciousness misleads them into thinking their identity is under threat. In feeling wrong, they feel wronged. In being asked to be made aware of racial oppression, they feel oppressed. While we laugh at white tears, white tears can turn dangerous. White tears, as Damon Young explains in The Root, are why defeated Southerners refused to accept the freedom of black slaves and formed the Ku Klux Klan. And white tears are why 63 percent of white men and 53 percent of white women elected a malignant man-child as their leader.”

White supremacy has become so defensive that it blatantly and violently denounces and denies experiences, feelings, and realities of communities of color. This book brilliantly depicts this to us white folks in an uncompromising way. It is up to us to pursue the daily and life-long process of change.

‘Goodreads’ review for ‘The Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery’ by Sarah Augustine

I had the honor and privilege to read 'The Land is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery' by Sarah Augustine in advance and write a study guide for it. My life has been richly blessed by what Sarah Augustine teaches in this text and I highly recommend everyone read it!

First, Augustine spends some time defining the Doctrine of Discovery, both academically/historically and with personal/practical examples. If the title feels daunting because you are not familiar with the Doctrine of Discovery, never fear, Augustine will take the time to catch you up.

Second, Augustine takes care to elaborate her personal context and how that situates her within the work of Indigenous sovereignty and dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. Through this contextual testimony, Augustine invites us into our own contextual work.

Third, Augustine documents and details her journey in solidarity and repair work through experiential examples. She challenges us to challenge, expand, redefine, and act upon solidarity and repair work in community together, being attentive to who is, and who isn’t, at the table.

Fourth, Augustine drives home the essential work and call upon Christians and the Church to be at the forefront of dismantling the doctrine of discovery and solidarity and repair work. Augustine invites us to interrogate our theology, our investments, our mindsets, how we spend/use our money/property, and challenges us to truly follow a ‘Jesus Way’ in our solidarity and repair work.

Part of this work is aided by Augustine’s detailed explanation of cosmologies and theologies from Indigenous lenses. White settlers/dominant culture are invited to recognize our blind spots, our idols, and our agency to be actively invoked in solidarity and repair work with indigenous communities. Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery starts in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our community politics/social work.

Finally, solidarity and repair work is active, ongoing, and relational. White settler/dominant western culture loves easy/symbolic gestures. However, solidarity and repair work is the ongoing choice of actively stepping out of the comfort of white supremacy and dominant western culture to be in relationship and resistance with oppressed communities. It is action. It is relationship. It is ongoing. And it demands that we rethink all mindsets and beliefs we take for granted. This is the work of solidarity and repair. This is the work of dismantling the doctrine of discovery. And Augustine lays all of this out in a powerful, relatable, and convicting way.

Start the work of solidarity and repair today by grabbing this book, hunkering down, and getting ready to start the journey of dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery with Sarah Augustine as your initial guide.