Ted Grimsrud—October 20, 2016 A review of: Shane Claiborne. Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2016. 313 pp. In Executing Grace, Shane Claiborne, a pastor, activist, and writer of popular … Continue reading →
The back-of-the-book promo announced: Artist and naturalist Robert Bateman’s long-awaited memoir–intimate and visually stunning, with original artwork. Inside and out, Life Sketches by Robert Bateman (Simon & Schuster Canada, 2015) is a beautiful book, ... Read More ›
Tonight was the final debate in the campaign for the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth. I accidentally watched a few minutes of it on TV as well as some CNN reporters arguing over it later. It all seemed like a media circus rather than a serious engagement of issues […]
“So, what do you Canadians think of our election campaign?” The question was accompanied by a wry, knowing smile by an earnest young man as we were finishing a lovely meal at a restaurant along the shores of the Susquehanna River during a recent trip to Pennsylvania. As it happened, it was October 7, the very date that the recording of Trump’s lewd comments about women were setting the Internet on fire. And Americans, it seemed, could talk of little else. […]
As we know, the world is facing a refugee crisis. We see it on the news daily, to the point where many of us in the West are likely desensitized to the scenes of refugee camps, capsized boats, and bodies of children washing up on the shores of neighboring countries. [Read More...]
What I like about eggs is making them. A single egg, cracked over a hot skillet, a minute thirty on the first side, a minute on the flip. What I dislike about eggs is eating them. They’re uninspired. Still plain, in spite of my efforts, dressing it with kale, tomatoes, and garlic from my own dressing it with kale, tomatoes, and garlic from my own garden. But simple. And unlike my homey carb-seeking impulse for muffins or zucchini bread for breakfast, I can eat it one setting. I plan my muffin baking around potlucks–or commit to eating four a day in order to finish them. Such suffering is life. […] Continue reading Cooking Alone
“Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long.” (Psalms 119:97) Once in a while – once in a long while – I do not agree with the psalmist. That does not make me a “bad” person, or any less faithful. Does not make you that way either, beloved reader, […]
We're live tonight with Ted Swartz of Ted & Company, discussing his life and latest book and play, Laughter is Sacred...
Voting deadlines are looming across the country. Are you registered? Do you know your polling place? In an elections season like this one, so much of our attention is focused on the presidential race. But so much that affects our daily lives is actually further down on the ticket. I've always made it a point to vote in all elections,local and national, that were available to me, just on basic stubborn principle. But recent years have emphasized to me how truly important local elections are, even as a matter of life and death. In Ferguson, Police Chief Thomas Jackson was appointed by the elected mayor (via city manager). The St. Louis County Chief of Police, Jon Belmar, was also appointed by elected officials (county executive and city council). In Beavercreek, the city where John Crawford was shot, the elected city council members, city manager, and city mayor were the ones to appoint the Chief of Police Dennis Evers and the ones who determine police budgeting allocations. These are the folks overseeing the police force chains-of-command that establish protocols, that train their officers, that give the orders, that the lead internal investigations, and that buy military equipment for their departments. And state-level elections matter too. The special prosecutor for the Crawford shooting, Mark Piepmeier, was appointed by State Attorney General Mike DeWine. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey was elected to office in 2008 before famously failing to convict George Zimmerman of murder, even while prosecuting Marissa Alexander to the fullest extent of the law. And it was Florida Governor Rick Scott who first assigned Corey to the Zimmerman case. County executive? Attorney General? City Council? County Sheriff? State Attorney? When is the last time you paid close attention to who was elected to these offices? But these are the elected positions that had direct influence on the most prominent racial cases of recent history. Though the narrative is sometimes convoluted, it's the local ballot elections that are at the center of most racial justice issues today. They determine who will be prosecuted under New Jim Crow laws, which legislatures might propose a new Kill-At-Will bill or a mandatory sentencing law. It's the county commissioners, governors, and state officials that determine how your local taxes are spent, whether on police militarization or on public transportation. It's the school board members that decide whether to feed the School-to-Prison Pipeline or to actively reverse systemic educational disparity. It's also these local elections that regulate housing affordability, environmental justice, and discrimination laws--all decisions made at the local level, and with immediate consequences for racial justice.
But as important as local elections are, they're not always made easy. Municipal elections are often held during odd-numbered years (as is the case in Ferguson and Beavercreek), those without major national elections, and thus with lower expected voter turnout. States may enact restrictive laws that reduce voter participation (see post: The Trouble with Voter ID Laws). While Ohio, like most states, allows for early voting, the law is getting more prohibitive, the Supreme Court having recently eliminated all evening voting hours and reduced weekend voting from 24 to 16 hours.
Clearly, laws such as these disproportionately affect working-class folk who hold one or more jobs to make ends meet. Of note, it is also elected local officials, like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who regulate the elections themselves.
Shouldn't we laud an increase in voter turnout rather than trying to suppress it? Shouldn't we want more citizens to become engaged in electoral proceedings, not fewer? How does decreased participation enhance the democratic process?
Years of disenfranchisement leads to a foundation of legal precedent and accumulated power that perpetuate disparity and injustice. It’s no coincidence that that the Senate is still 94 percent white. As Christians, we know God says to “choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you” (Deuteronomy 1:13), but some groups are still embarrassingly absent from our leadership.
Christians have a legacy of electing leaders, and we have a responsibility to protect this right for all of our sisters and brothers. The early church decided that it would be good for them to “choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn responsibility over to them” (Acts 6:3). Indeed, we are to “select capable men from all the people — men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain — and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21). When we exercise the right to vote, we participate in a history passed down to us from both our political and spiritual forebears.This year, make plans to ensure that you cast your ballot for local elections. Most states allow no-excuse absentee ballot voting, which means you can vote in your pajamas from the comfort of your couch (allowing you to research each of the names and issues that appear on your ballot as you go). As mentioned above, most states also allow for early in-person voting, which means you can find a time to vote that is convenient for your schedule. No excuses this year. So, check yourself: are you registered? Is your registered address current? Do you know the ID requirements in your state? If you're all set personally, help ensure that your friends and neighbors also understand their voting rights and the importance of local elections. Organize a trip with your church to go vote together, or volunteer to help shuttle voters to the polls on election day. As Christian voters we have an obligation to “discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good” (Job 34:4). We tend to pay attention to the Office of the President more than any other elected official. But our voices have the most influence on our own lives, and the lives of our neighbors, when we make sure to vote locally.
For post-americans. Thus begins Conscience & Obedience: The Politics of Romans 13 and Revelation 13 in Light of the Second Coming, written by William Stringfellow in 1977. My first encounter with the work was October of 2015 – this time last year. His dedication seems ever more pertinent. […]