Emerging Voices Blog

Emerging Voices Blog

The Disunion of the Church

Right now when I see the lived reality of the church in our world, it seems we are more in a state of dis-union than communion.

'Black-ish:' Reimagining Blackness on Television

Each episode presents a universal situation that pushes a particular issue of culture within the African-American community. Ultimately, the situation presses the question: “What does it means to be black?”

Why Every Christian Needs Doubt

Doubt, I would argue, is that state of change that allows for the questions to continue and faith to grow. And as the husks of beliefs that were wrong, too small, or in other ways insufficient fall aside, they join in the process of fertilizing a more perfect faith through their own decomposition.

3 Reasons I Didn't Give Up on the Bible

The more I studied the “perfect” word of God, the more I expected that doctrine would become clear and consistent, the authors exemplary, and the stories contain distinct and readily discernible meanings.

Forgive Us

I’ve been struck by the way that Forgive Us is a clarion call to not be conformed to the patters of this world. Chapter by chapter the authors demonstrate the dastardly consequences of complicity.

Engaging Ferguson's Youth with Humility and Repentance

Since the tragic death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, the authentic leadership of the moment has emerged from young people of color. The question is, will we adopt a spirit of arrogance by crowding out their voices? Or will we embrace humility and repentance, and make room to hear their cries and make room for their direction.

11 Miles Backward?

Today the grand jury in Ohio announced there will be no indictment of the officers. The Wal-Mart surveillance video is now public, and it reveals how quickly Crawford’s life was taken. ... So another black life is lost under absurd circumstances, and the system communicates yet again that black lives don’t matter.

The Image of God vs. The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Implicit bias does not ask why. It only takes surface observation and draws lines of quick logic: These circumstances are reserved for criminals. Therefore, these people are criminals.

The Problem With Systemic Racism...

They say a watched pot never boils. But that's not entirely true. Of course a watched pot boils—it's just that intently watching a pot of water reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit is not an incredibly exciting way to spend your time. And so most people get bored or distracted and end up leaving before it ever reaches the boiling point.

Ten Practical Ways White Christians Can Respond to Ferguson

Please try a few or all of these pathways, and add some of your own, and let’s stand up and be counted in this moment of great pain and anxiety for our nation. It is time, as Bill Hybels continually admonishes, for “the church to be the hope of the world.”

An Invitation to Disruption: A Call to White Churches

Here’s a sacred invitation, perhaps even a kairos moment, to make your voices heard in ways that speak to solidarity with suffering.

The Church Has Left the Building

Last year I spoke at a missional church conference in Southern California. The guy who spoke before me asked every one of these missional pastors do a simple exercise.

“Turn to the person sitting next to you,” he said, “and tell them the names of your neighbors on every side of your house (or apartment) and share one story about their lives.”

The room went abuzz.

Where is the Joy?

How do you talk about joy in times like these and not sound like a traveling salesman with a bottle of snake oil up his sleeve?

Recently, I received word that Robert Gittelson, the cofounder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, had died suddenly from a massive heart attack. Over the next seven days, the prolific 63-year-old comedian and actor, Robin Williams, committed suicide, and revered screen legend, Lauren Bacall, passed away at the age of 89.

Track back a few weeks, reports of three separate senseless deaths of black men at the hands of police officers rocked the nation:

1. Eric Garner, 43, was selling untaxed cigarettes on a street in Staten Island when two police officers approached him and attempted to arrest him. Mr. Garner put his hands up, but Officer Daniel Pantaleo put Garner, an asthmatic, in a chokehold—which the NYPD has banned—and wrestled him to the ground. He continued to apply the chokehold even after Garner warned that he couldn’t breathe multiple times. Garner died.

2. John Crawford, 22, was in an Ohio Walmart speaking on a cell phone with the mother of his children while holding a toy rifle that he’d picked up from a nearby shelf. A shopper got concerned and called the police. According to reports, police demanded that he drop the weapon. Crawford allegedly said, “It’s not real.” They shot him. He screamed and cried, according to the woman on the cell phone. Then he died.

3. Michael Brown, 18, was a few days from entering his freshman year in college when he was gunned down by a police officer while walking home from a convenience store. Eyewitnesses and police have offered disputing accounts.

Over the same period, the nation was glued to news of missionary doctors entering the United States to receive treatment for the Ebola virus. Then, this week, the U.S. manufacturer of the experimental Ebola antibody said they had run out of the drug.

CNN aired dramatic footage from one of its reporters embedded on an Iraqi military helicopter mission that dropped boxes of food and water and rescued desperate Yazidi Iraqis hiding on a mountaintop to flee persecution by the Sunni militant group, ISIS.

Oh, did I mention that House Republicans voted to sue President Obama for not enforcing part of the Affordable Care Act that they tried to prevent earlier? Meanwhile, the president announced plans for executive action on immigration reform despite the most inactive Congress in modern American history.

So … to think of joy right now, reminds me of snake oil.

When we planned to focus this issue of Faith in Action on the spiritual discipline of joy we had no idea how challenging that call would be.

Silence for Peace

Three Ways to Maintain Yourself While Maintaining a Movement

Doing justice is hard and exhausting work. We are compelled to action by the urgency of the suffering and pain and evil that mark life for so many in God’s world. And the work is never done.

Cory Booker, Rand Paul Shine Light on Shadow Side of U.S. Justice System

Booker: "The REDEEM Act will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders reoffend."

Silence: A Path to Action

What does one take to a three-day silent retreat? Apparently a lot of noise.

'...That All Men Are Created Equal'

People know. Not just Americans, but the entire globe. People know that the founders didn't mean it then, nor does this nation mean it now.

Deep In My Heart

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the senseless slaughter and lynching of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner during Freedom Summer in Mississippi. They gave their lives to insure that every person in Mississippi would have the right to vote and be a full citizen of this nation.

Founding Mothers: Remember the Women

I love the 4th of July! It’s coming around again quickly, and I’m seriously deciding where I’m going to be based on which city has the best fireworks. I know. It’s a little crazy for someone who preaches about peace to yearn for a celebration attached to a war.

In Remembrance: Maya Angelou

Angelou did not claim to be a theologian, but her words spun theology for a nation. She was speaking of shalom — that biblical concept that envisions the day with the lion and the lamb shall lie together, the day when war shall be no more, the day when mammon will bow to Jesus. And she called forth the yearning of a nation for that day.

Introducing 5 Small Loaves

This past decade of living on the Navajo reservation has taught us that our community, the church, our country, even the world is in critical need. But God had also been pounding into our heads, that we, people (both individually and collectively), are simply unable to meet the overwhelming needs. But God can.

Donald Sterling: Façade, Fiction, and Forgiveness

Sterling does not “support them.” He pays them for work. He does not “give them food.” He gives them a wage for employment. He does not give his players “clothes, and cars, and houses.” The Clippers Corporation signs a paycheck, made possible by advertising dollars and ticket sales attracted by the highly skilled labor of the mostly black and brown Clippers players themselves.

Immigration and Resurrection

I looked these immigrant workers in the eyes and said through tears: “God sees you. You are not alone. Across the nation people from the north and south — people who are black, white, Latino, Asian American, and Native American are rising up to stand with you."

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

As I reflect on the plight of the undocumented immigrant in the United States today, I wonder if the words of the Psalmist, echoed by Jesus on the cross, don’t hit a little too close to home.

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