Each week (more or less) I send out an e-mail to my congregation with my thoughts including stuff I've read over the past week that I want to pass along.
Recommended Reading, Listening and Watching
Christians Behaving Like Christians
A NC church that fully welcomes LGBTQ people had their building vandalized with homophobic graffiti. How the church responded is inspiring.
"The Pope and the Planet"--by Bill McKibben. One of the leading activists against climate change writes about Pope Francis' encyclical on our collective sin towards the environment.
A nun has had a secret ministry for over sixteen years to transgender people.
A few weeks ago I attended a conference offered by the Center for Progressive Renewal. One of the great treats of the event was hearing a musician named Heatherlyn sing. Here's one of her songs. It was pretty awesome to sing it along with her. The lyrics are deeply inspiring.
Christians Behaving Badly
Frank Bruni in the NY Times points out that members of the Religious Right who support Donald Trump are hypocrites.
Christian students at Duke University have refused to read an assigned book with sexual content. Somebody should warn them about the sexual content in the Bible.
Our Broken Criminal (In)Justice System
Bryan Stevenson was a Harvard Law graduate who began his career working to free African Americans unjustly put on Alabama's Death Row. The book about his career is being made into a major motion picture. Hear an inspiring interview of him on WNYC radio. Watch his TED Talk about our society's on-going racial injustice in the criminal justice system.
More on Missouri's racist use of the death penalty--not an opinion, backed up by depressing and anger-inducing statistics.
The Murder of Transgender Women in KC
Kansas City made international news over the last two weeks when it was revealed that a second transgender woman had been murdered in KC this year. It seems the police can't even get the gender of the victims correct. KCUR had several good programs this week about the transgender community in KC and the violence they face--especially transgender women who are African American and Latino. A memorial service for one of the victims, Tamara Dominguez, is happening Sunday afternoon at 2 PM.
Race and Our Culture
Ken Burns, creator of the PBS documentary series on the Civil War, took to the airwaves last weekend to state clearly that the Civil War was about slavery--not "states' rights," not "heritage." Let's speak of our history with honesty.
John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, has made dealing with white privilege one of his top priorities. On October 3, he is speaking in Overland Park--see our church's Midweek e-mail for details on how to attend. Here's agood interview with him. Here's one of his blog posts on the Huffington Post: "I am Darren Wilson."
Here's a nice overview of racism in the United States. You can't understand what #BlackLivesMatter is saying without knowing your history.
I think we should all break up with "White Jesus."
Pundits often criticize the #BlackLivesMatter movement for being vague on its demands. Well they can quit criticizing, because the movement has stated its demands more clearly than ever before with what they are calling "Campaign Zero.". Read them here.
One of our church members passed along this article listing the 10 most segregated metro areas in our country. Kansas City is number 9. The statistics of education, life expectancy, etc. are shocking in their disparity between majority white and majority black areas. If I'm reading the graphic correctly, our church sits in one of the areas that are overwhelmingly white--I pretty much already knew that. If you don't know why that is, I recommend reading Tanner Colby's book Some of My Best Friends are Black which has a chapter on KC's Country Club District.
If reading about segregation isn't your thing, I encourage you to listen to the two episodes on segregation the public radio show This American Life recently aired. It includes a story on the Normandy school district near St. Louis. Thanks to another church member for drawing my attention to them. Warning--hearing the racist views of white parents on these programs will make you outraged.
When the Mainstream Media Talks About Faith
The Daily Beast had a thoughtful reflection on prayer this week.
The Power of Negative Thinking
Last Sunday morning our Adult Ed class discussed a video by scholar Brene Brown who has written widely on the power of vulnerability. I've recently been reading religious writers who are making use of her works. Here's a good interview of her in the Washington Post.
Listening to Low-Income Women About Planned Parenthood
Progressive Christian writer (and former member of the Religious Right) Carol Howard Merrit shares "Why I Support Planned Parenthood"
Kids and Gender
A few weeks ago, I preached about our ideas of gender and how they affect our views of God. I mentioned Target's decision to no longer label kid toys according to gender and the ensuing outrage by religious conservatives. In response, a church member passed along to me two great links on the subject of enforcing gender expectations on our kids: 1. a story on the Moth Radio Hour Podcast entitled "The Pink Bicycle" about a father struggling with his son's desire for a pink bicycle for his birthday and 2. this handy guide for discerning if a toy is suitable for boys or girls.