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Brian's Blog

  • February 7, 2016

    A Beautiful Sermon from ...

    President Barack Obama - his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast provide a powerful reflection on 2 Timothy 1:7. (below)

    Continue reading A Beautiful Sermon from ......

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  • February 5, 2016

    Faith Can Change the Climate

    In September 2015, I was honored to be among a group of multi-faith leaders who came together in Washington, DC, to amplify Pope Francis’ message to care for God’s creation.

    Videos of the gathering are now available, produced by Blessed Tomorrow. In sharing these materials through email and social media you will help keep the momentum moving throughout 2016.

    Faith can change the climate!

    I'll share more of the speaker videos in coming weeks. Please share widely! #FaithAndClimate

    Here's how you can get involved:
    http://faithandclimate.org/initatives/

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  • Lent begins next week ...

    And Christine Sine and friends are once again providing beautiful resources to help you and your family, group, or congregation make the most of the season. Here.

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  • February 1, 2016

    Would you please join me ...

    Back in 2009, in the face of rising Islamophobic rhetoric (especially disturbing rhetoric coming from my fellow Christians), I felt the Spirit calling me to express my solidarity for my Muslim friends by participating in the Ramadan fast. It was a profound spiritual challenge and a meaningful experience on many levels, which you can read about here.

    Because of my 2009 experience I was especially moved when I heard the story of Dr. Larycia Hawkins who engaged in a similar prophetic action late last year, in deciding to wear a hijab as a professor at an Evangelical college in Chicago.

    And that's why I ask you to ...

    Join #AuburnFellows to stand w/ Dr. @LaryciaHawkins & call on @WheatonCollege to #ReinstateDocHawk: http://bit.ly/1SOEzyS

    Would you please join me and the Auburn Senior Fellows in signing this Groundswell Petition calling on President Ryken at Wheaton College to reinstate Prof. Hawkins, the first tenured African American woman at Wheaton since 1860, and the only full-time African American woman on the faculty? During a time of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in our country, Professor Hawkins demonstrated moral courage by standing in embodied solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers. Now we stand with her. ‪#‎ReinstateDocHawk‬

    http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/multifaith-sign-on-reinstate-wheaton-professor-hawkins?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1454098273

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  • January 21, 2016

    Christian Higher Education

    "Christian higher education must exist in a genuine cosmology. The word ‘university’ is derived from the idea of universe; that is, a university is a microcosm of the larger world–or it should be. For a few years, people of all kinds should live and learn together, so that they can continue to do so for the rest of their lives. This is the relational mandate in education.

    When a school truncates its educational cosmology, it diminishes its students’ ability to develop the integrative capacity to co-exist in society, which is already diverse and global. It creates graduates who only know how to get along with those who are like them–a problem in its own right, but one that has the seeds to sow suspicion of “the other” who is unlike them." - Steve Harper

    More here: https://oboedire.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/christianity-culture-wheaton-hawkins-4/

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  • January 20, 2016

    Jazz & Justice

    “Movements teach you to make plans and then remake them on the go…the art of improvisation is about negotiating the unexpected.” - Rev. Wm. F. Barber

    Read about Rev. Barber's new book in Peter Heltzel's interview here:
    http://religiondispatches.org/rev-william-barber-jazzman-for-justice/

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  • January 19, 2016

    Islamophobia and Antisemitism

    "Interestingly, a Gallup study based on major polling found that a significant number of those who were biased towards Muslims were also anti-Semitic. Major studies have shown that if you compare anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric, dehumanisation, cartoons and caricatures there are striking parallels.

    ...The good news, though, is that in countries like America, Australia and in Europe, increasing numbers of the younger generation attend schools and universities that are multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Where that occurs, one finds that polls show that the younger generation is less biased than the older generation, who were raised and educated in different times and circumstances." - John Esposito

    More here:
    https://en.qantara.de/content/interview-with-the-islam-scholar-john-louis-esposito-islams-image-problem

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  • January 18, 2016

    Race and Misuse of Power ...

    "The problem is always the misuse of power..." Fr. Richard Rohr.

    A great meditation for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day - See Romal Tune's interview with Richard on white privilege ... here:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/romal-tune/richard-rohr-on-white-pri_b_8985742.html

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  • January 12, 2016

    Another response to Jerry Falwell, Jr.

    "... let us agree to work together to end all acts of violence and build a safer world.

    That will not happen by calling students to arms. It will come by having the courage to create spaces where persons from different faiths, nationalities and races feel respected and safe enough to risk seeing the humanity in the other. It will come by being humble enough to recognize our own contributions to the world’s conflicts. It will come by training our students with analytical tools and skills to address the root causes of violence.

    Let us offer hope to the world, instead of more reasons for others to hate us.

    Daryl Byler's op-ed is so worth reading, here:
    http://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/guest-columnists/article_d0a38d60-13d2-58bd-a0ae-fa77d040e531.html
    You may also be interested in my response from several weeks back.

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  • January 11, 2016

    Contrast this: Oregon v. Israel

    The standoff going on in Oregon vs. the action of Tair Kaminer in Israel. What's similar? What's different?

    Quotable from Tair:

    Even if I must pay a personal price for my refusal, this price will be worthwhile if it to helps place the occupation on the agenda of Israeli public discourse. Far too many Israelis don’t directly feel the occupation, and they tend to forget about it in their daily lives - lives that are eminently safe in comparison with those of Palestinians, or even of the Israelis who live in the Western Negev (Gaza border area) . We are told that there is no way other than the violent military way. But I believe that this is the most destructive way, and that there are others. I wish to remind all of us that there does exist an alternative: negotiations, peace, optimism, a true will to live in equality, safety and freedom. We are told that the military is not a political institution - but the decision to serve in the military is a highly political one, no less so than the decision to refuse.
    ... I am not scared of the military prison - what truly frightens me is our society losing its humanity.

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  • January 10, 2016

    Liberty University, Wheaton College, and Hostility to Muslims

    “If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.”

    - from “My Take: It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose” on CNN website, posted September 12, 2012 (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/15/my-take-its-time-for-islamophobic-evangelicals-to-choose/).

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  • The Afraid People

    My friend Darren Freeman-Coppadge wrote a poem that expresses what a lot of us have been feeling lately. You'll enjoy reading it here: http://djfree.blogspot.com/2015/12/over-last-few-days-my-emotions-have.html
    Quotable:

    I. Am afraid.
    I am afraid to go to the movie theater. Out to dinner. To school. To work. Anywhere.
    I am afraid when I see white vans parked by the side of the road.
    Don’t you think I’m afraid?
    I am afraid of being afraid.
    I get a check in my gut when I see that beautiful brown skin, and quintessentially manly beard, especially when there’s no accompanying smile on that face.
    I am afraid that this goes through my mind. I don’t want to be this way.
    I am afraid that I am ignorant.
    I am afraid for my friends: Muslims, and Arabs, and people that look like Arabs – beautiful people, all.
    Some of them are even Christians. And Hindus. And Buddhists. And atheists. None of them are terrorists. But I am afraid that this means nothing to the man who is reactionary and afraid.
    I am afraid that the Afraid People don’t even recognize how much their words and their actions come from a place of being afraid. I am afraid of what they will do.
    I am afraid of how the sight of a hijab makes the Afraid People so afraid that all the hate they’ve kept hidden for so long in the secret parts of the heart will come roaring forth like a mighty river after a hurricane.
    I am afraid that we will lose our humanity… in the name of combating people who have already lost theirs.
    I am afraid that the Afraid People will win – that they will become the majority because they stir up everyone else who is afraid.
    Yes, I am afraid that the Afraid People have made me more afraid. I am afraid of how that will affect me.

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  • January 9, 2016

    Watch this. On Muslims in America. The Daily Show.

    "Where people get radicalized is ... [not the mosque, but] the internet."

    I've learned so much from Dahlia Mogahed ... you'll see why here:
    http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah/interviews/lnkifi/exclusive-dalia-mogahed-extended-interview

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  • January 8, 2016

  • Dr. Larycia Hawkins, Wheaton College, and an Opportunity for Courage

    Having grown up Evangelical and having been a speaker at many Evangelical colleges across the country, I think David Gushee got it right in his piece on the recent conflict at Wheaton College over Professor Larycia Hawkins, namely, that donors trump academic and theological integrity. Two additional factors come to mind:

    1. As I explored in a recent book, religious identity (Evangelical, Muslim, even atheist) is often strengthened by hostility to "the other." Relatively few religious communities have consciously sought to build strong religious identity around solidarity with the other (as Jesus did) rather than hostility.

    2. The fact that Dr. Hawkins is a woman of color is not (understatement alert) insignificant. Her gender and race raises the question of how many white men at Wheaton hold similar views but aren't punished for them.

    These two factors raise two interesting opportunities:


    1. Why don't Evangelical students and faculty at Wheaton and other Evangelical schools take this opportunity to reach out and invite some Muslims to campus? (This could be a bit scary for the Muslim guests, in light of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s recent statements.) In this way, they could model a positive response to the negative actions of Falwell and the Wheaton administration.

    2. Why don't white male faculty at Evangelical institutions take a stand in solidarity with Dr. Hawkins, putting some of their privilege on the line for the benefit of a colleague and sister? Silence in the presence of injustice can easily be a form of complicity.

    I'd love to hear about, report, and publicize positive actions in this regard ...

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