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Brian's Blog

  • November 25, 2016

  • November 24, 2016

    With all that's been going on ...

    I haven't been in the book-promotion mood at all, but with the shopping season upon us, let me mention that my new book would be a great gift. Here's a review from Chicago Tribune ...

    You can read more and order the book here.

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  • November 23, 2016

    A Thanksgiving Meditation

    from a member of the beautiful congregation where I used to serve, CRCC:

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  • November 22, 2016

    Q & R: We Make the Road ...

    Here's the Q:

    A group of us are working our way through We Make the Road by Walking in the United Kingdom. We aim to complete Chapters 12 & 13 this evening. Thank you very much for this material.

    I note that on pages xix and xx, i.e. in the Introduction, you refer to people who have been "mentored through this process would be ready to pass on what they had learned." I note also that Question 8 on page 322 ask "How would you feel about forming and leading a new group to teach others what you have learned through We Make the Road by Walking?"

    I am wondering if the book refers to other people within the group going on to lead other groups in the future, or is this something that you expect the leader to develop?

    Here's the R:
    Thanks for this question. Many people will begin reading the book either this week (as Advent begins) or at the New Year. They'll find a whole range of resources here.

    People have told me that the book has been easy to use, and groups have been easy to lead. I hope this will be your experience too, especially with the resources at the above link.

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  • November 21, 2016

    "Something broke in me."

    Dear Dr. Pierce,

    I don't think we've ever met, but I hope we meet sometime soon.

    Thank you for the powerful testimony you shared recently about how "something broke" in you as a result of the role of White Evangelicals in this election.

    I, a white male Christian from an Evangelical background, feel the same way, and I thank you for putting this pain in words.

    I've been following your work from a distance for some time, with great admiration. (In fact, you'll find a quote from an article of yours in a pivotal chapter [4] in my most recent book.)

    I wanted to share a quote, from later in that book (Chapter 10), about this internal experience of a deep breaking:

    But we who dare to lead must bear the cross, not on a gold chain around our necks, but in our deepest heart, in non-retaliatory suffering, as a way of life lived in what the educator and spiritual sage Parker Palmer calls "the tragic gap."

    The tragic gap stretches between what is and what should be, between what life demands of us and what we can currently offer. The stress of holding that gap can break our hearts, he says, but there are 'at least two ways for the heart to break.'

    First, the heart can "break apart "into a thousand shards, sharp-edged fragments that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain." But the heart can also be "broken open" - "into largeness of life, into greater capacity to hold one's own and the world's pain and joy."

    Right now, Dr. Pierce, so many of us are feeling this breaking open with you ... and right now, it is all pain and no joy: it is pain for our country, pain for the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor that still go unheard, pain for our fellow-citizens who are expressing their own unhealed pain through the shrapnel of hate speech and worse, pain for those who are the targets of this misdirected rage.

    We trust that resurrection follows death, that day follows night, that spring follows winter, and that joy comes in the morning. But right now, we don't feel it, and our trust feels like a high-risk long shot. But if our shared words of encouragement can help one another not give up for one more day, one more day, one more day, perhaps our joy in the future will be all the richer because of the pain of today. May that be so, dear sister.

    With thanks and with great respect -
    Brian


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  • Thanksgiving Table Talk

    My friend Jacqui Lewis suggests four excellent questions for heart-to-heart conversation with your relatives this week.

    Why did you vote the way you voted for president?
    What did you hope your vote would accomplish?
    How are you feeling right now?
    Is there anything we can do together?

    The key, of course, is to listen. Really listen.

    And when it comes to differing, do so graciously. My simple recommendation: "Wow, I see that differently."

    And if your conversation partner turns those questions back to you - be ready with a sincere answer, from the heart, in simple language, without any barbs or jargon. Use words like "I care, I believe, I want, I hope for, I value."

    In the coming weeks and months, it will be very important for us to mend the tears in our social fabric ... through caring conversations and healed relationships. Each genuine conversation can be like a stitch sewn across a rip, strengthening empathy, broadening concern, deepening understanding.

    PS - here are 7 good guidelines for difficult but needed conversations.

    And this piece, although a bit snarky, also has some useful insights about communicating with people whose ideas you find deplorable.

    And my friend Patrick Jager offers a challenge for all of us to focus on what unites us ... the "unum" in "e pluribus unum."

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  • November 20, 2016

    Don't panic. Don't be in denial. Do prepare.

    Here are some articles I recommend you read.

    On Donald Trump as demagogue. Quotable:

    Demagogues, by contrast, are willing to do or say anything to gain office or to consolidate their power. Unconstrained by ideology, they have no concern for the consequences of their actions. Anything that serves to make them more powerful is good enough for them — even if the political system that facilitated their rise should be destroyed in the process.

    This, rather than some deep similarity to fascism, also explains the affinity between demagogues and political violence. True fascists venerate violence but also want to make it serve a purpose larger than themselves, like territorial conquest. Demagogues, on the other hand, tap into the most violent currents in a population simply to bolster their own popularity.

    In the process, they often unleash lethal damage: They wreck the informal rules of civility that democracies require to survive. Once voters are activated along violent lines and fervently believe the myths propagated by the demagogue, the dam is broken; the ordinary rules of democratic politics no longer apply, and there is no telling what might come next.

    On what has been simmering for a long time in Middle America. Quotable:

    The tyranny of the mob is enabled by those who refuse to recognize the threat, who rationalize the mob’s aims, or who – like the elites of the 1830s – avoid discussion of the racial enmity at its core. That same deep denial is occurring today, over 180 years later. We have a moral obligation to oppose it and document it, as others have in dangerous eras, in the hopes of negating threats to the most vulnerable.

    As Lovejoy proclaimed, there is no excuse for deserting your post.


    On the need to take the warning signs seriously.

    It’s interesting; if you study the history of states and a regime knows that it’s going to have fairly absolute power over the people, they often stop being subtle about it. They often stop leaving out what we call “tells” so that people can understand what’s going on. People who are savvy to these regimes can understand what’s going on because they recognize these historical parallels. So when Trump is saying America first, which is a fascist slogan, when his advisors are talking about making the trains working on time, which is associated with Hitler, when they’re talking about draining the swamps, which is a phrase that came from Mussolini, when Trump is tweeting Mussolini, when he’s tweeting pictures of Jewish stars next to piles of money and you combine that with his actual administration, which includes people who have supported neo-Nazis, even extreme right wing people like Glenn Beck has come out and said that Steve Bannon is a neo-Nazi. I think quite honestly, and I don’t mean to frighten people that we need to prepare for the worst. When you start hearing about them making a registry of Muslims; yes, that should make you remember that there was a registry of Jews. There’s an attitude that America is exceptional, that it can’t happen here. It can happen anywhere. All the countries that thought that this could never ever happen, that people would be good, that the government would never betray them like this, they found out the hard way, that it can. So I think that it’s really important that we confront this very frightening reality and it’s not a fantasy, it’s a reality now that he’s the president-elect. I assume he will have the power to carry out this. We need to stop it; we need to stand up for each other. It’s not a matter of partisanship at this point. It’s not a matter of getting Hillary into office or something, but just stopping cruelty, stopping sanctioned, violent, anti-Constitutional acts that greatly hurt the American public. Once this gets going, if you look at the history of fascist of authoritarian states, it moves extremely quickly.

    On the need for Evangelicals of conscience to wake up. Quotable:

    If, however, Christian conservatives are now making amoral, political calculations, they cannot very well set themselves up as arbiters of values or tell their congregants how faith should influence their votes.

    We underscore one more aspect of evangelicals’ support for Trump. There is no issue on which evangelical conservatives have been more vocal and indignant than on the issue of “religious liberty” — the First Amendment right of Americans to avoid obligations that might otherwise fall on them so as to preserve their religious tradition (e.g. a conscience clause for doctors who object to performing abortions). However, in embracing a candidate who painted an entire religion as the enemy, for a time wanted to ban all its adherents and favored a “Muslim registry” (!) these evangelicals have been revealed to be egregious hypocrites and, yes, even religious bigots. At least we know with whom we are dealing.

    On Trump's authoritarianism and use of 'disgusting' - and where it could lead. Quotable:

    Many American voters, Haidt wrote,

    perceive that the moral order is falling apart, the country is losing its coherence and cohesiveness, diversity is rising, and our leadership seems to be suspect or not up to the needs of the hour. It’s as though a button is pushed on their forehead that says “in case of moral threat, lock down the borders, kick out those who are different, and punish those who are morally deviant.”

    Haidt, a professor at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, argues that Trump

    is not a conservative, and is not appealing to classical conservative ideas. He is an authoritarian, who is profiting from the chaos in Washington, Syria, Paris, San Bernardino, and even the chaos on campuses, which are creating a more authoritarian electorate in the Republican primaries.

    How even Glenn Beck is alarmed. Quotable:

    Tuesday night, as it became apparent that Mr. Trump would win, I saw myself as others may see me. ... Let’s get past politics and find common principles. Can we all agree that we live in historic times and we are all determined to leave a legacy for our children of courage, kindness and reconciliation that makes their life better than ours?

    I want to meet with any nonpolitical thought leaders on the left who are sincere and honest in their beliefs — and just listen.


    On why urban people need to understand rural people and stop insulting them (and why movies help us understand what's going on). Quotable

    It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I'm telling you, they'll still be around long after Trump is gone.

    On progressive fundamentalism:

    Like religious fundamentalism, progressive fundamentalism, at the moment, is far more concerned with going through the motions of a so-called “good” life and belonging to the right movements than it is with actually trying to build relationships with people from outside of the fundamentalist core.

    We understand the problems of abject poverty, but only abstractly, largely through data or statistics. We have limited experience with what it means to actually live through such a thing, whether in a rural area or an urban center. Similarly, we understand that people who live well outside of our progressive fundamentalist, urban core are people, too, but only abstractly.

    When actually confronted with the messy realities — like the country electing Donald Trump president — we shut down just a little bit. We focus on the certainty we feel in our moral and philosophical codes and on that hoped-for future we expect will arrive any day now, but we ignore the very real pain and hurt going on in our own country.

    We can’t blame a nebulous “other” for Trump, not 100 percent. We were at fault, just a little bit. We treated him as a joke for a long, long time, and didn’t understand that treating him as a joke only gave him more power, because his core voters thought we were constantly mocking them all along....

    ...I do believe there’s nothing wrong with stability, or with faith. We are all struggling toward the same answers and hoping for the same things. We just want to be understood, and we just want to be loved.

    And I still believe the best way to build the world we want is to invite others in — even if they reject it, again and again. Progressives keep trying, because our America makes room for everybody, and it can make room for those who are receptive to its message in rural, white America too, if we can only bridge that communication gap. That’s not soft. That’s the biggest, strongest ideal this country has ever had.

    On why we can't reason ourselves out of the mess we're in.
    Quotable:

    Perhaps there are some kinds of debates where people don’t want to find the right answer so much as they want to win the argument. Perhaps humans reason for purposes other than finding the truth — purposes like increasing their standing in their community, or ensuring they don’t piss off the leaders of their tribe. If this hypothesis proved true, then a smarter, better-educated citizenry wouldn’t put an end to these disagreements. It would just mean the participants are better equipped to argue for their own side....

    Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: "As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values." Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: "What we believe about the facts," he writes, "tells us who we are." And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love.

    ... when American politics becomes so warped by gerrymandering, big money, and congressional dysfunction ... voters can’t figure out who to blame for the state of the country. If American politics is going to improve, it will be better structures, not better arguments, that win the day.

    And this, from a friend:

    I continue to see misunderstandings of the protesters of Trump. Again, the protests are not over the legitimacy of the election, they are over what they fear President-elect Trump, his chief strategic advisor Steve Bannon, or any of the hundreds-to-thousands of white nationalists will do -- and have already done, especially in recent days -- to minorities, immigrants, and others in this country.

    What the protesters -- and many opponents of President-elect Trump -- see themselves as doing is like what the residents of the French village Le Chambon-sur-Lignon did during their nonviolent resistance of the Nazis. The residents of the village, led by their pastors, hid and aided in the escape of 1,000-5,000 Jews during World War II. They did this without firing a shot. They were armed only with their Christian conviction.

    One day a Vichy official visited the village and was presented with a letter that read:

    "Mr. Minister, we have learned of the frightening scenes which took place three weeks ago in Paris, where the French police, on the orders from the occupying power, arrested in their homes all the Jewish families in Paris [who were then sent to Auschwitz]... We feel obliged to tell you that there are among us a certain number of Jews. But we make no distinction between Jews and non-Jews. It is contrary to the Gospel teaching." "If our comrades, whose only fault is to be born in another religion, received the order to let themselves be deported, or even examined, they would disobey the order received, and we would hide them as best we could." "We have Jews. You're not getting them."
    The protesters today are saying:
    "President Trump, we are Americans of good conscience. We feel obliged to tell you..." "We have Jews. We have Mexicans. We have Muslims. We have immigrants. We have black people. We have women and children. We have the forlorn. We have the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free." "You're not getting them."

    You know how to do this. We have done this before in this country. Now is the time to suit up. Now is the time to hit the long ball. Clergy are going to be the ones to lead this thing, win this thing, and end this thing. Ours is a campaign of moral persuasion powered by Christian conviction and American will. The enemy is us. Change us.

    People of good faith, America's soul is in danger, and it needs saving. Don't panic. Don't be in denial. Do prepare.

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  • November 19, 2016

    Q & R: Why no Eastern Orthodox?

    Here's the Q:

    Dear Brian, i got a hold of your book Generous Orthodoxy and have begun reading it.. I’m really interested in those things that unite the different streams in the Church and that each has redemptive gifts to the big C church as well as to the world. However i didn’t see a chapter including the Eastern Orthodox church. While i am an evangelical Protestant i guess, i value much of early church experience and the wisdom of the desert fathers soo i just wonder why you didn’t include this important but often overlooked stream of Christianity.

    Here's the R:
    When you get a little farther in the book, you'll see the Eastern Orthodox play prominently in the chapter on "Seven Jesuses I have known" and also in the chapter on "mystical/poetic." I have heard from quite a few Orthodox folk - and Lutherans! - wishing I had included whole chapters. If I ever get a chance to write an updated edition, I'd love to include some new material like this. Thanks for your question!

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  • November 17, 2016

    Q & R: Prophetic witness

    Here's the Q;

    Are there any stirrings of an organized and loving Christian prophetic witness against the incoming Trump regime? Please let me know.

    Here's the R:
    If you haven't yet signed up for the Convergence Newsletter, it's a good place to stay informed.

    A good place for relevant news is the Common Good Newsletter, a joint project of Convergence and Faith in Public Life.

    You'll find information here: http://convergenceus.org/about/#movement
    Go to Take Action and then Subscribe at the bottom of the page.

    This election is a call to action - as you so - to loving Christian prophetic witness, not just against forces of fear, but for the planet, for peace, and for all people, and especially the poor.

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  • November 16, 2016

    Q & R: Violent God?

    Rather than list the question first, and then a reply, I'll reply in stages to this question about my new book.
    Here's the Q;

    Brian, thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.

    As a Mennonite, I join you in rejecting Christendom's historical favouring of violence, and choose rather with you Jesus' call to a way of peace and love. I agree with you that the gospel calls us to set trends rather than follow them. I also hear, in some mainline circles, a turn away from the fusion of church and state.

    But does this mean that God is no longer violent in judgement? Can we disarm the violent passages in Jesus' teaching? Aren't they tied right into His teaching of grace and love? For example:

    - in weeping in love over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-44, Jesus speaks of coming violence in language reminiscent of Psalm 137: …your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls NIV). Loving welcoming grace and violent judgment in one story.

    This is an important question. I wonder why we would assume Jesus' words in any way implicate God in this horrific violence? I think Jesus is saying, "If you refuse my way, the way of peace and nonviolent resistance, then you will enter into violent rebellion against Rome, and that won't end well." It isn't God who will bring this violence, but Rome, and it will be another case of violence begetting violence.

    Frankly, I think America faces a similar warning today. If we don't discern what makes for peace, we will find ourselves in violent conflict. It won't be God who brings it upon us; it is God calling us to find a better way (a narrow way as opposed to a broad and easy path to self-destruction). We will bring it upon ourselves.

    Here's more of the Q:

    - in the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14, in which everyone is graciously welcomed to the king's banquet, the man who refused to wear wedding clothes is tied hand and foot and thrown outside into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (v. 13). The parable concludes, For many are invited, but few are chosen. Grace, violence and exclusion all in one story.

    I'd encourage you to read "Parables as Subversive Speech" by Wm. Herzog. He offers a challenging alternative reading of the parables. In short, when you see a violent king, don't let that represent God as your first choice. Let it represent Caesar. And when you see someone punished, don't assume that's the bad guy. Assume that's Jesus and those who follow his way.

    The question continues:

    - there are numerous other examples of God's violence and exclusion mixed with gracious acceptance in the passages I cited earlier, namely Matthew 5-7 and 21-25.
    Are these stories readily disarmed?

    I would just say please don't assume that exclusion equals eternal conscious torment! If I say, "The violent will not share in the kingdom of God," I'm saying that the kingdom of God excludes violence. Also remember that "kingdom of God" does not equal heaven (as is commonly assumed). If I say, "Those who eat unhealthy food and get no exercise will not be among the healthy and fit," this is about cause and effect, not punishment.
    The question continues:


    Isn't the key in Romans 12 where, in the midst of a call to love one's enemies, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:35: Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge: I will repay,' says the Lord (12:19, NIV). In other words, we don't have to worry about revenge because God avenges. God is God, and as such His briefcase of responses to human wrongdoing includes both suffering at Calvary and violence. F.F. Bruce boils this theme in Romans 12 and 13 (Tyndale Commentary series) down to this: God works in two ways in the world, and His Church is authorized to participate in only one of those ways. God is God, and humans have no right to mimic Him in actions He reserves for Himself.

    That is the best way to read the text from a traditional viewpoint. If you need to keep God violent to urge people to be nonviolent, OK. But I think ultimately, the question is this: can God, who is love, will harm to creatures God has made? Is that a God "in whom there is light and no darkness at all?"

    The question concludes:

    Isn't there a danger in making God fit into our box? What if God is both gracious and violent, exclusionary and welcoming, as Jesus described?


    Yes, there is a danger of making God fit into our box. But just remember - our box as humans has traditionally been violent. So the danger goes both ways. To see where I've addressed this in more detail, I'd recommend The Secret Message of Jesus and The Last Word and the Word After That. There and elsewhere I suggest that "judgment" means "setting things right" rather than "inflicting vengeance upon people who do wrong." They lead, I think, in the direction I'm advocating more clearly and urgently in The Great Spiritual Migration.

    In short, I do not believe violent men (especially men, but all people, of course) can be trusted with a vision of a violent God. I believe the prophets and ultimately Jesus came to lead us away from that violent vision, toward a vision that ultimately worships God as nonviolent love, pure of any malice or desire to harm - love that heals, forgives, and saves. That, I believe, is the depth of the goodness of the good news.

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  • November 15, 2016

    A reader writes: Disgusted and disappointed

    A reader writes (in response to this post):

    Sir,I am disgusted and disappointed that a man in your position would post a partisan position attacking a man elected by a huge majority of Americans. As a spiritual leader your opinions on politics should remain private-I commend you for at least not defending the Clintons..remember Bill-the ultimate sexual predator ? Hillary,the foul mouthed ,lying,corrupt “wife”?? For the record,the Clinton’s have been under various Federal investigations since the 1990’s You are however,the stereotypical Democrat..ignore the facts if they interfere with my beliefs.. Our country is losing the middle class(jobs) at an astounding rate-welfare participation is at an all time high.how much longer do you think we can keep this up ? You should go back to your office and smoke your feel good pipe and drift back to your feel good land of Oz,or wherever your logic comes from ! You have lost all credibility with me;I will never buy your books or listen to your lectures again. Stick to the subject you actually know something about. p.s. to suggest certain ethnic groups should feel threatened is absurd,watch the next years events to see your prediction vaporize..

    My dear brother, thanks so much for writing. Just as I felt free to express my opinion last week, so did you. And that's a good thing. The key is what we do next - do we turn our backs on one another as enemies, or do we seek to understand one another as neighbors?

    I would like to respond briefly to your note in a dialogue format here. I hope you'll contact me again with your response.

    Sir,I am disgusted and disappointed that a man in your position would post a partisan position attacking a man elected by a huge majority of Americans.
    I am sorry this disgusted and disappointed you. My purpose in writing that piece was to help people who didn't support Trump to process our grief in a constructive way. I wish I could have helped others without disgusting and disappointing you.

    It is good for both of us to remember that Mr. Trump wasn't actually elected by a huge majority, In fact, Hillary Clinton won the majority of the popular vote. But Mr. Trump indeed won the electoral college by about 108,000 votes, and you have every right to be as happy about your candidate winning as many of us were sad about him winning.

    As a spiritual leader your opinions on politics should remain private-I commend you for at least not defending the Clintons..remember Bill-the ultimate sexual predator ? Hillary,the foul mouthed ,lying,corrupt “wife”?? For the record,the Clinton’s have been under various Federal investigations since the 1990’s

    In this election, my brother, both candidates had issues, didn't they? So both of us had to support people with some well-publicized flaws. It's clear you felt Ms. Clinton's flaws were greater than Mr. Trump's, and I felt the opposite - strongly, in fact. I would hope that both of us could express our differing political opinions in a respectful way. I agree it would be better to remain silent than to speak in a harsh or hateful way, but it is even better when we can express ourselves honestly and respectfully, "speaking the truth in love."


    You are however,the stereotypical Democrat..ignore the facts if they interfere with my beliefs..

    You are indeed correct that Democrats sometimes do this. In fact, I'll bet you'd agree that this isn't just a democratic problem - it's a human problem. All of us are tempted to ignore facts that disagree with our beliefs, and it's one reason why it's important for us to listen to each other and be open to being corrected.

    Our country is losing the middle class(jobs) at an astounding rate-welfare participation is at an all time high.how much longer do you think we can keep this up ?
    I didn't know the facts on welfare participation these days, so I did a little research. Here's a link to some information on welfare you might find helpful.

    It sounds like you and I actually agree on three things: 1. we would like to see more poor people in good jobs so they can get out of poverty, 2. we would like to see more and better middle class jobs, and 3. we want conditions to improve now, not get worse and worse.

    I hoped Hillary Clinton could help us make progress in these areas, which is one reason why I voted for her. Now that Mr. Trump has won, I hope he can successfully increase the number of jobs and the fairness of pay so that fewer people need welfare programs and more poor people can rise to the middle class. That would be great. Please don't think we disagree on this.


    You should go back to your office and smoke your feel good pipe and drift back to your feel good land of Oz,or wherever your logic comes from !

    Well, I actually don't have an office - I work at a desk in my living room. And I never smoked a pipe. And I haven't been to Oz yet either! But I understand you to be saying that I make no sense to you. If you'd like to ask me some questions about this, I'd do my best to explain, and if you show me where you have better ideas, I'll gratefully accept them.

    You have lost all credibility with me;I will never buy your books or listen to your lectures again. Stick to the subject you actually know something about.
    I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm honored that I used to have credibility with you and that you feel I know something about something, even though our political views differ. It's important that we find ways to coexist peacefully, even with our disagreements, because we share one country, one planet, and one future.
    p.s. to suggest certain ethnic groups should feel threatened is absurd,watch the next years events to see your prediction vaporize..

    You are right to observe that this was one of my greatest concerns last Wednesday. And sadly, this last week has provided a huge amount of evidence that my concern was justified. If you are willing to look at some reports (with lots of photographic and video evidence), this report has links at the end.

    I'm glad that Mr. Trump asked people to stop this last night. Let us hope that these events will indeed, as you say, vaporize.


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  • November 10, 2016

    Election reflections

    This, from my wise friend Jim Antal.

    Now is the time for spiritual preparation so that when opportunities for witness emerge, we will be ready to bring unfailing hearts of love along with untempered insistence on justice. Our preparation must include coming together to better understand our own white privilege, racism and classism. Our preparation must include waking up to and understanding what our country and culture are telling us. Our preparation must include a sober recognition that God’s creation – our home – is collapsing all around us. We must shed our cynicism. If despair propels us to disengage, let us instead draw upon courage to meet dysfunction with hope.

    This from my equally wise friend John Dorhauer.

    We ... call upon the church to seek a pathway that envisions a just world for all. Those who celebrate this election must show a humility that honors the pain of those whose dreams were dashed by the outcome. Those who grieve must find a courage and hope found in a faith not in earthly power, but in the redemptive love of our Risen Christ.

    It is with this humility and faith that we can fulfill our mission: to build a just world for all. We stand in the face of fear and hate and proclaim that "love wins!" We rise up and respond to public derision of "the other" with a full embrace of and warm welcome for all God's beautiful children. We confront the injustices of the powerful with a steady drumbeat of justice.


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  • November 9, 2016

    A Post-Election Lament

    For so many of us, this is a day to mourn.
    We are grieving a loss.
    It steals our breath. It makes us afraid.

    We feel tempted to focus on someone to blame,
    Some individual or group on whom we could vent our
    Anger, disappointment, and frustration.
    We feel tempted to make explanations
    That serve as excuses or that help us avoid
    Our sorrow and pain.

    A time for analysis will come
    As will time (soon) for planning and resolve.
    But today is a day to mourn,
    To feel the pain of sincere and shattered dreams
    And deferred hopes.

    Our nation has chosen as president
    A man who has won by bullying,
    Proclaiming misinformation with confidence,
    Stigmatizing, vilifying, and scapegoating.
    He is a billionaire in money but poor in morality.
    He has normalized bigotry and stirred embers
    Of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and Islamophobia.
    He has celebrated violence, torture, and war.
    His personal life has been filled with infidelity, greed,
    Broken promises and unabashed arrogance.

    Our neighbors have chosen him.
    Our neighbors have chosen him.

    We feel embarrassed for our nation, afraid for our children,
    Anxious for our allies, worried for our world.

    We feel for our gay friends, our immigrant friends,
    Our Native American, African American, and Latino friends -
    Our friends who are Muslim, Sikh, or of other faiths
    Who suffer the reality of prejudice and racism:
    We mourn for how this election sucks the breath out of
    People we know and love,
    And we share their pain and feel it as our own.

    We feel for our beloved earth that has been plundered and harmed
    By human ignorance and greed, and we mourn
    That this candidate has vowed to accelerate environmental
    Destruction.

    We understand that many of our neighbors are celebrating,
    They find it hard to understand our grief.
    So we who mourn must turn to each other,
    To shed the tears we need to shed,
    To allow one another to say the same things again and again:
    We are devastated. We are disappointed.
    We are concerned. We are angry.
    We lost and we feel loss.

    We must promise those who are afraid:
    We will be there for you
    No matter what.

    We pray that our grief will make us better, not bitter.
    We pray that the emotion of our mourning
    Will water the seeds of our resilience.
    We pray for our leaders, for our neighbors, for our nation,
    For our children, for our world, for our future.
    We pray for the grace to mourn, and then be prepared
    To keep seeking first the justice, joy, and peace of God.
    +++++

    Friends: I will be one of 30 interfaith leaders participating in an online multi-faith prayer meeting today at 7 EST. I hope you'll join us for #postelectionprayer -
    Details: http://bit.ly/2fwbCL7.

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  • November 6, 2016

    Hoarding Privilege, Protecting the Status Quo

    Oppression theology and supremacist spirituality developed in the belief ecosystem of an angry God who needed appeasement in order to dispense grace, who favored some and disfavored others, and who welcomed the favored into religious institutions that accumulated and hoarded privilege and protected the status quo.

    - The Great Spiritual Migration (available NOW, 2016)

    Tour info here: http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/schedule/current-schedul/

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  • November 4, 2016

    Mutual Liberation

    When liberation spirituality frees the poor from the dehumanizing scripts of the oppressed, they can help the rich be liberated from their dehumanizing scripts of oppression.
    - The Great Spiritual Migration (available NOW, 2016)

    Tour info here: http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/schedule/current-schedul/

    thegreatspiritualmigration.jpg

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