Happy Fourth of July

Be grateful for what you have,

they say.


I’m grateful for my marriage

with my husband.

But many folks across the country,

emboldened with power,

want to rip our marriage apart,

calling our love unconstitutional,

along with many other nasty

words, phrases, and threats.

Seeking the goal of allowing

states to make our union illegal,

or perhaps a full-fledged federal ban.

So I’ll be grateful for what I have,

as I’ve been told,

before it all gets legislated away.

Happy Fourth of July

Preparation Prayer


prepare my ears to hear the suffering

shield my heart to not take on that pain

warm my soul toward genuine empathy

enliven my mind to interpret and translate

and sharpen my tongue to speak the wisdom

of Your Holy Spirit


‘Nature Poem’ by Tommy Pico Review


“NDN teens have the highest rate of suicide of any population group in America. A white man can massacre 9 black ppl in a church and be fed Burger King by the cops afterward. A presidential candidate gains a platform by saying Mexican immigrants are murdered and rapists

It’s hard for me to imagine curiosity [in America] as anything more than a pretext for colonialism” (Tommy Pico, ‘Nature Poem,’ 40).

“Look, I’m sure you really do just want to wear those dream catcher earrings. They’re beautiful. I’m sure you don’t mean any harm, I’m sure you don’t really think abt us at all. I’m sure you don’t understand the concept of off-limits. But what if by not wearing a headdress in yr music video or changing yr damn mascot and perhaps adding .05% of personal annoyance to yr life for the twenty minutes it lasts, the 103 young ppl who tried to kill themselves on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation over the past four months wanted to live 50% more” (Tommy Pico, ‘Nature Poem,’ 56).

8 Key Takeaways from ‘Atando Cabos: Latinx Contributions to Theological Education’ by Elizabeth Conde-Frazier


8 Key Takeaways from ‘Atando Cabos: Latinx Contributions to Theological Education’ by Elizabeth Conde-Frazier

1. “After the 1940s, a tension arose among [Latin American] churches. The premillennial missionaries had greater influence, and the tension between their advocacy of social action and the priority of evangelization was transmitted to Latin America….some of the existing Protestant organizations ruptured into two campus: those maintaining active social witness and ecumenism, whose theology emphasized God’s work in history, and those who identified with separatist fundamentalism….Since the liberal proponents of the Social Gospel viewed education as a way of bettering society, they sought to have conversations with the intellectual classes and promoted political debates. They also promoted education that included more than teaching the Bible, such as classes in literacy, agriculture, and dance. The conservative group viewed education as a means to bring people to personal salvation and discipleship. Rooting the gospel in a particular country or culture was the goal of both of these groups, but the dimensions of life that they believed were to be engaged by the gospel determined what aspects of life their educational models engaged” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 14-15).

2. “When it comes to service, such ministry is understood to occur not only within the church but also in the world. We need but two things to be faithful servants in this understanding of the priesthood of all believers. The first is vocation. All must be provided opportunities to discover their vocation, and then opportunities to develop that vocation. The second thing we need to know is the state of the world. We need to inform ourselves about the state of the world in order to be moved through the Spirit to use our vocation for the restoration and redemption of the world….Understanding faith in the context of the world allows us to use our faith to carry out our vocation. Faith lived within the context of the world determines the diversity of needs and the vocations that can be developed to address these needs by the ministries of the priesthood of all believers….The ministry of the clergy is given by Christ to the church as a gift so that the Word is preached and the sacraments are administered. Ordination is a public confirmation of that calling, and at ordination the person ordained does not receive special power but rather a commissioning” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 43-44).

3. “Knowledge can only exist and be generated in and from a contextual reality. Such an understanding of theology steers us away from theology as sana doctrina (sound doctrine)-a set of universal formulations that cannot be changed and that comes from outside of ourselves to define us, regardless of our present situation and culture. This also changes the epistemology, pedagogy, and curriculum because it steers us away from a taught transmissive theology and from being inactive recipients of that transmission. Instead, it situates us as agents who are actively engaged in a collaborative construction of knowledge” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 51).

4. “Curriculum is not only books or lectures; it also includes the persons involved in the teaching/learning engagement and the content of their lives and realities….Theological education brings us to the work of reconciliation of human bonding and of connecting with creation….The politics, economics, suffering, structures of new identity formation, and strategies of survival and justice of such immigration and diasporic living must be included if resilience is to open a door to the doing of a theology of hope and thriving that informs an ecclesiology and missiology for the Latin@ community of the diaspora” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 61).

5. “Interdisciplinarity and the arts [must] become a part of the curriculum and pedagogy” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 70).

6. “If we are intentional about using [new] media and we balance them pedagogically, they provide ways of engaging multiple intelligences….All [new] media invites educators to rethink their content and more intentionally insert different types of questions along the spectrum of Bloom’s taxonomy to develop critical thinking for our students during a semester….In virtual education, an action-reflection-action model can guide our resources and modules….The tasks of the church-fellowship, social action, proclamation, teaching social justice, reconceiving economic arrangements, and liturgy-all need to be reevaluated and redefined for [virtual education]” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 75-77).

7. “Let’s go beyond the traditional forms of education…provide classes in English or Spanish…provide health education…share information with the community about knowing our rights as immigrant person, or about financial literacy…offer GED classes…offer parenting classes…foster entrepreneurial and financial literacy skills….Theological education that is guided by a vision of mission integral will reach to every sphere of life” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 97).

8. “Whether in or beyond congregations, whether singular or blended, vocations today place great demands on people. Young people seem to recognize this, and they are especially interested in developing their spirituality as they go about the work of changing the world as an expression of their passions. Theological education for these times must attend not just to skills but also to the cultivation of deep and durable spirituality” (Conde-Frazier, ‘Atando Cabos,’ 123).

Jesus Commands us to Put Down Our Weapons and Idolatry of Violence

“Jesus said to Judas, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then the crowd with swords and clubs came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’” (Matthew 26:50-52).

Jesus never condoned physical harm, violent retribution, or revenge.

In fact, Jesus was diametrically opposed to violence because it is antithetical to God’s holy nature and design for humanity/creation.

As the Rittenhouse verdict has shown us, once again, we live in a society and Justice-lacking ‘justice’ system that prioritizes power maintenance, white supremacy, and vigilante violence over human life and flourishing.

It is clear that our hope cannot be in the systems and structures of humanity, but in God alone.

Jesus commands us to put down our weapons and idolatry of violence, lest we all perish by that very sword.

Just as Jesus, Christians must stand for human life. For the flourishing of all creation. For God’s kingdom here, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

Lord, give us courage, hope, and love in the face of great evil and despair. In your mercy and strength, may your will be done through us, Amen.

‘Advancing the Mission: The Order of Deacon in the United Methodist Church Book’ by Margaret Ann Crain


As a United Methodist Deacon, I am in awe and Thanksgiving of Margaret Ann Crain for putting together this comprehensive and highly enjoyable historical overview of how the current Deacon order came to be: through persistence, obedience to the Holy Spirit, and strategic planning! This book is a gem and I recommend it to every person who is curious about diaconate ministry!

Also, this quote was one of the most succinct and helpful descriptions of the call to Deacon ministry I have seen to date:

“What is a deacon? A deacon is an extension of the mission of the church, and extension of the Eucharistic table of Grace, wherever she or he is appointed. A deacon is also accountable to the UMC, accountable to uphold the highest standard of ethics to bring the needs of the world to the local church. Deacons are entrepreneurs, seeking out places to respond to the calling that God has placed on their hearts. Deacons are enfleshed representatives of Christ, seeking to contribute to the transformation of the world. Deacons are embodied mission” (Margaret Ann Crain, ‘Advancing the Mission,’ 132).

Tommy Pico’s ‘IRL’


“I recoil

at we. Now we

know; We feel love

when; We believed

the Earth was flat

until; We stir with

heavy feeling bc…

I wipe my muddy feet

on the loveseat of We

unless I’m talking

about you and me.

Kumeyaays knew

a rounded Earth based

on the curve of stars

or didn’t, I’ll never know.

It’s a dark part inside me.

Books are fallible, towers

of letters with the power

you give them. It’s heartbreaking

to watch your pillars fall

Watch the crops dry up

and die House set on fire Forced

to dig up yr dead To. Literally.

Dig. Up. The. Old. Graveyard.

n move w/them onto a stone hill

where nothing that grows

can live. Penned in like cattle.

Approaching scientism,

universalism, a supremacy

of any given thought

process—strikes me A

hammer of dark spots. America

never intended for me to live

So that we never intended

to include me”

(Tommy Pico, ‘IRL,’ 70).

Richard Rothstein’s ‘The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America’


“If government had declined to build racially separate public housing in cities where segregation hadn’t previously taken root, and instead had scattered integrated developments throughout the community, those cities might have developed in a less racially toxic fashion, with fewer desperate ghettos and more diverse suburbs. If the federal government had not urged suburbs to adopt exclusionary zoning laws, white flight would have been minimized because there would have been fewer racially exclusive suburbs to which frightened homeowners could flee. If the government had told developers that they could have FHA guarantees only if the homes they built were open to all, integrated working-class suburbs would likely have matured with both African Americans and whites sharing the benefits. If state courts had not blessed private discrimination by ordering the eviction of African American homeowners in neighborhoods where association rules and restrictive covenants barred their residence, middle-class African Americans would have been able gradually to integrate previously white communities as they developed the financial means to do so. If churches, universities, and hospitals had faced loss of tax-exempt status for their promotion of restrictive covenants, they most likely would have refrained from such activity. If police had arrested, rather than encouraged, leaders of mob violence when African Americans moved into previously white neighborhoods, racial transitions would have been smoother. If state real estate commissions had denied licenses to brokers who claimed an “ethical” obligation to impose segregation, those brokers might have guided the evolution of interracial neighborhoods. If school boards had not placed schools and drawn attendance boundaries to ensure the separation of black and white pupils, families might not have had to relocate to have access to education for their children. If federal and state highway planners had not used urban interstates to demolish African American neighborhoods and force their residents deeper into urban ghettos, black impoverishment would have lessened, and some displaced families might have accumulated the resources to improve their housing and its location. If government had given African Americans the same labor-market rights that other citizens enjoyed, African American working-class families would not have been trapped in lower-income minority communities, from lack of funds to live elsewhere. If the federal government had not exploited the racial boundaries it had created in metropolitan areas, by spending billions on tax breaks for single-family suburban homeowners, while failing to spend adequate funds on transportation networks that could bring African Americans to job opportunities, the inequality on which segregation feeds would have diminished. If federal programs were not, even to this day, reinforcing racial isolation by disproportionately directing low-income African Americans who receive housing assistance into the segregated neighborhoods that government had previously established, we might see many more inclusive communities. Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult. To make a start, we will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of our government, accept responsibility” (Richard Rothstein, ‘The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America’).

Poem in Geez Magazine’s 2021 Advent Devotion

I’m thrilled to share that my poem was included in Geez Magazine’s 2021 Advent book: ‘Songs for the Shadows: A Season of Embracing the Dark.’

If you don’t have a plan for advent devotions already, I highly recommend snagging yourself a copy today: https://geezmagazine.org/blogs/entry/songs-for-the-shadows

My poem is called ‘The Spirit Finds Me in the Darkness’ and is a re-imagining of Psalm 23.

‘Homeland Elegies’ Book Response


I especially appreciated Akhtar’s clear explanation of how ‘Economy’ is our National god in the United States. All people, no matter their religion, bow down in deference to Economy before their gods.