Category: Ethics and Social Justice

More on Mental Illness: Preventing Suicide

Two weeks ago I published Healthy Ministry and the Pastor with Mental Illness, which included an excerpt from Delight in Disorder and an interview with author Tony Roberts on his experience as a pastor living with bipolar disorder. In the next few weeks, I plan to share two more interviews on mental health in the workplace, and today…

Impeach Trump? Not So Fast….

I know that I am not alone in believing Donald Trump as president is a disaster. He’s a disaster beyond what anyone I know could have imagined as a realistic possibility up until about a year ago. I also know that I am not alone in deriving quite a bit of pleasure from seeing Trump go from one self-imposed crisis to another. It makes perfect sense that a growing number of people would be talking about impeachment. […] Continue reading →

Logical Fallacies: Not All White People

This post is part of an ongoing series on common logical fallacies used in conversations about race. If you have suggestions for fallacies that you'd like to see covered, submit your ideas here. It's a natural reaction when describing racism: "but we're not all like that!" When we learn about the brokenness of our world we want to distance ourselves from the problem. Particularly when talking about racism as a social issue, it can feel like we are just perpetuating "reverse racism" by overgeneralizing. But the reality is that racism is a broad system (just like other "-isms," such as capital-ism, and commun-ism) that has effects on each one of us, and will require the work of each one of us to combat. Dr. Beverly Tatum compares racism to smog that we all breathe: “sometimes it is so thick it is visible, other times it is less apparent, but always, day in and day out, we are breathing it in."
Muhammad Ali on "not all white people"
What this means is that we all play some part, sometimes large, sometimes small. It is better to be reflective and examine our own hearts than to reflexively disassociate with its existence. That way we can recognize the problem and be a part of bringing about change for the better. To say "not all white people" merely distracts from an important conversation about sociological trends and their impacts on our society. Even if there are some exceptions, it is disingenuous to thrust these instances into a discussion about the broader power structures at play. Abagond offers the following example:
"I will make some statement about whites and then be informed that “not all whites” are like that, that they are Individuals. Like there is some special rule of English that “whites” always means “all whites”...When I say, “Whites owned slaves” it hardly means they all owned slaves. As far as I know no more than 2% of White Americans ever did. Yet that does not make the statement untrue or meaningless. Because quantity is not the issue – it was never stated. To make quantity the issue is a derailment."
It can be intimidating to confront the realities of our society's brokenness. But rather than searching for exceptions, let us attempt to take statements about racism at face value, knowing that cultures will always exhibit complexity when examined on an individual level.
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Not all data points...but there's a trend!
If you find yourself upset, take a moment reflect. Does a broad description of societal injustice feel like a personal attack? What is the source of the anxiety you feel? If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. There's no need to become defensive. But if your discomfort reflects a vague sense of conviction, it may well be worth digging deeper into that discomfort to examine how you might work to combat systemic injustice within your own sphere of influence. Take a moment to examine the how systems of racial advantage affect many aspects of life. Which ones can you personally take steps to combat today?

A Crisis of Faith: In support of Kay Ellen

Sexualized violence doesn’t only hurt those directly victimized. It ripples out and causes all manner of harm to the families, loved ones, colleagues, and broader communities of both victim-survivors and perpetrators. While Our Stories Untold prioritizes survivors’ voices, those who are secondarily impacted need to be heard too so that we get a full picture of the problem and understand its reach. Not a survivor herself, in this piece Annamary Kennell tells of the crisis Duane Yoder’s abusive behavior has wrought on her life. With the kind of vulnerability that is stronger than steel, she speaks from her own experience, in support of Kay Ellen’s. *Further documentation regarding credible accusations against Duane Yoder can be found on SNAP Mennonite’s MAP List. – Hilary J. Scarsella   After hearing Lauren Shifflet’s & Kay Ellen’s stories, I felt compelled to write the following article. Lauren and Kay have been victims of betrayal from their churches and church families. They trusted their ministers and church elders to protect them and help them grow spiritually. They could not have known that just the opposite would happen to them.[…] The post A Crisis of Faith: In support of Kay Ellen appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

You Don’t Know Me

He sits over in the corner of the little restaurant on the #3 highway that a friend and I sometimes meet at to talk about God, life, pastoring. He is wet and dirty, just like the weather outside, a ball cap pulled down over long black hair, a wispy moustache straining and stretching over snarling lips. […]

Something Like the Grace of God

Whenever I drive through the reserve, I’m always struck by how little seems to have changed over the last thirty years. I remember coming to play hockey here as a kid, remember how it seemed like a different world to me. And it kind of was—and still is, at least taken at face value. […]

Hesed: The God of Mutuality #AllPeoplePractices

Please welcome back Pastor Greg Henneman, Director of the Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) initiative at Church and Community Development for All People. Here, he reflects on God's call to mutuality:
Image result for mutuality mlkPsalm 130 has long been the psalm I identify with most. I resonate with the psalmist crying from the depth of the heart. As one who served in the military, I have experienced the twice repeated phrase “more than those who watch for morning, more than those who watch for morning.” I love the modern expression of the song by Sinead O’Connor. But while this psalm is an old favorite, this week I have noticed something new. In verse 7, Israel is invited to put its hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is “steadfast love.” Steadfast love sounds good on its own: a love that is not conditional and doesn’t wax and wane like our love of a favorite song or restaurant. But this is only the surface of it. The word translated steadfast love is the Hebrew word 'hesed' which means 'mutuality'.
Creative Mutuality
If there is one thing I’ve learned in ministry it is the power of mutuality. It was including homeless people in on the creation and weekly leadership of Community of Hope that made it work. Mutuality is at the core of the United Methodist Church’s focus area of ministry WITH the poor. Mutuality is the secret sauce that makes Church and Community Development for All People a place of ever growing relationships and expanding programming. Within the Fresh Market and the Free Store, it is impossible to tell from racial or socioeconomic background who is provider and who is recipient. Mutuality is more than a management concept to involve people from the bottom up in order to create diverse community. Mutuality is who God is. God is in the cry from the depth of the heart. God is equally present in the broken heart of divorce as in the joyful heart of newborn parents. God is as much in the mud covered eyes of the blind, the leper, the addict, and the prostitute as God is in the faithful church goer.
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When we are willing to put aside our ego and be vulnerable enough to share ourselves with others, the God of mutuality is moving. When we are humble enough to admit we don’t have all the answers and open our heart in prayer, the God of mutuality speaks. When we look at others asking what we can give instead of how we can receive, the God of mutuality provides. I am often asked, what is the greatest asset of our community. Every time I respond by saying, relationships. It is in the mutuality of people who look out for each other and care for each other and support each other that the peaceable kingdom grows. The mutuality of God’s love is what forms us and shapes us and leads us forward. We find God in serving the other, because the God of mutuality found us “out of the depths”; and, when we are willing to go down in the depths with others we find the God is mutuality is there.

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