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25 February 2010

The Jihad of Lent

I've forgotten how to fast, or at least that's how it feels in the jihad - holy struggle - that is my Lent.
My previous practices of self-denial have become so habitual that  they no longer seem worthy.
My new attempts are fledgling, flailing struggling, halting.
Have a holy lent.
Prayer. Check. More prayer. For a while.
Fasting. Trying. Successful. For now.
Introspection. Moments of clarity. In between and in-and-around the business of life.
Study. Yes. More. New. Different. Will it last?
Have a holy lent.
The big announcement - even if only to myself - this year I will do this, every day, every week, every month, for the whole season seems destined to failure.
Can one fail at Lent? Can one be too legalistic? Can one make an idol out of Lent?
Or are those excuses of a flesh that does not want to be denied.
Have a holy lent.

19 February 2010

Being Human

What is a human being? What does it mean to be human?
All of creation is crafted by God. Everything that breathes, כל הנשמה, is breathed by God.
How then are we different, if we are? Unique, if indeed we are?
Imago Dei is both how we are what we are and what we are.
We are God's image in our capacities: to love and to choose.
Part of being human is the capacity to transgress. We can choose to do that which is injurious and evil.
And, part of being human is the capacity and ability to transcend our own humanity.
We can choose.
We can change.
We can transgress.
We can transcend.
And we bear the mark of our maker along with all that has been made.

15 February 2010

Entitled Embodiment

A study in carnality: Americans take up a lot of space; and some more than others. I remember news stories discussing how the increased size of American bodies cut the margins of freight and weight on airplanes. I remember reading that the amount of fat on the American buttock was interfering with the delivery of intramuscular injections.
What fascinates me now is the entitlement that comes along with the super-sized bodies. This is not true for all plus-size, queen-size or diva-sized people. I’m just thinking and writing about a few – more than a few – folk I have encountered over the years.
From airplane seats to theme-park rides, I watch people unapologetically taking up some or all of the adjacent seat – even if it is occupied. I confess I have had to endure the horror of a stranger’s thighs and belly rolls pressing against me from the side.
Most recently I have watched people demand that the world accommodate them: redesign seating in theaters, on planes, household furniture; slow to their pace; reshape the very terrain if it is too much for their overburdened knees. And all at someone else’s expense, it ought to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The problem of their mobility or fit are someone else's. Everyone else's. And god help you if you point out that breathing, joint pain and mobility problems in some cases just might be weight-related.
Human bodies can be beautiful at any size. Fat is beautiful even when it is unhealthy. And inflated egos can inhabit any size body. And sometimes there is a direct, proportional relationship between the size of the ego and the size of the carcass.
Since I wrote this, actor/director/comedian Kevin Smith was just booted off a  Southwest Airlines for violating their "customer of size" policy. He says it was because he was too fat. However, he admits that he bought two seats per their policy and then shifted to an earlier flight on which there was only one seat available. That's when the captain removed him. I wonder was there another passenger whose seat he was sharing without consent?

10 February 2010

Righteous Rule

May your righteous rule envelop the earth
Not: Thy kingdom come.
We need no more broken hierarchal, kyriarchal, patriarchal, colonial systems.
The idea that God is a bigger and better king than any we have known (or will know) is as impoverished as our imaginations.
For yours, and yours alone is all sovereignty and ultimate authority, 
all power on earth and in heaven, 
in sea and sky from this day until the day without end. Amen.

06 February 2010

Christian Kidnappers

There is so much wrong with the Christian missionaries who claimed to be relocating orphans from Haiti to the Dominican Republic, that I scarcely know where to begin.
1) The children were not orphans and they knew it and they lied about it.
Parents have come out of the woodwork saying that they entrusted their children to the missionaries out of their desperation to provide for their children. In some cases, they were convinced by brochures they were shown with swimming pools and and other amenities. The place in the brochure was not their destination and by their own admission they had not yet built their "orphanage" or even hired personnel to work with the children.
2) Taking children from loving parents simply because they are poor does not help children or their parents.
The assumption that the children would be better off apart from their parents and in the custody of white Americans is racist, classist and imperialistic. These missionaries showed no interest in Haitian people, culture or society, and have no interest in strengthening Haitian families - counter to the so-called family values trumpeted by social and religious conservatives.
3) There was no orphanage in the Dominican Republic.
The missionaries lied about taking the children to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. They had not built or staffed an orphanage, had hired no child care specialists, no one certified to treat traumatized children, or (as far as I can tell) had any medical personnel whatsoever. They had simply rented space in a hotel.
4) The missionaries knew that a letter of permission from a local pastor was insufficient to cross a national border.
The missionaries were told at every turn not to try to take children out of the country without passports and visas. The missionaries knew that they needed passports and visas to cross borders, but claimed white privilege in Jesus' name to kidnap those children - illegally transporting those children under false pretenses and attempting to cross a national border.
5) Neither Jesus nor Haiti needs those kinds of Christians or their dubious help.
Children are the most vulnerable and most impoverished people on this planet and that is particularly the case in Haiti. Helping the poor and disenfranchised, especially when they are children in a central tenet of Christianity. Breaking up their families because their families are poor and desperate and profiting of of children - whether financially or not - is an abomination.
They neither know nor care about the cultural context of Haiti. Their actions actually deepen the problem of restavec children, children who are sent away from their homes to wealthier people, sometimes relatives, in hopes that they will have a better life, at the price of broken homes and frequently broken bodies. Restavec children are regularly physically and sexually abused.
6) These white Christian missionaries demonstrate an unmitigated disdain for black families and culture.
These white Christian missionaries demonstrate the links between white supremacy and Western Christianity. They believe that they have the right to do anything they want with black bodies based on the written word of a white man. They completely disregarded the legal authority of every black Haitian authority who told them something contradictory to their imperialistic desires.
7) White Christianity sanctifies white imperial desire.
Since they decided that what they wanted was good and God-sanctioned, every opposing opinion has been demonized. So the missionaries justify their lies, deceit and crimes in the name of Jesus under the sacred canopy of good intentions and clutch their bibles in their jail cells singing hymns.

I want to know if they would rescue/traffic all of the poor children in Haiti. If they are so committed to poor black children, what are they doing with/for the poor black children in the US? What is their mission plan for the families, parents and sexually active young adults of reproductive age? Will they put an end to sexual reproduction after they have depopulated Haiti of children?

I believe that these children were trafficked, that they were going to be made available for adoption under false pretenses for a fee (based on CNN's reporting). I am horrified by their actions and hope they rot in an underfunded Haitian jail in this life and in hell in the next. And I don't even believe in hell. But for these Christians, hell just ought to be an option.

Update: Eight of the jailed missionaries slipped a note to an NBC producer claiming they were lied to by their leader Laura Silsby. All of the evidence CNN has uncovered points to duplicity and deception on the part of Ms. Silsby. It appears that she misled her own people. She sounds like the worst kind of zealot. Not content with risking her own life, she has endangered the lives and cost the freedom of her trusting co-religionists as she schemed to steal black children to sell adopt. Allegedly.

01 February 2010

Race Traitors

Race is a construct. Its foundation is more solid: appearance, phenotype, culture, ethnicity, national origin, and kinship. And then there is the web of assumptions, suppositions, presuppositions, stereotypes and deeply held beliefs and belief systems. These threads form a web - a soft, silken, strong, dangerous, entrapment.
The web has two sides. It is constructed from within and without.
The web is three dimensional. There is perception, misperception and reality.
The construction of racial identity works in and on families.
What is a family? A whole 'nother web of webs, biological and social.
When the social strands of the interwoven webs disintegrate, what is left is independent and freelance reproduction tangentially related to dysfunctional familial structures within a subculture infected by the decay permeating the larger culture.
There are some folk constructing a racial identity for the rest of us with whom they share strands in the web by inertia and consumption.
This I think, is the essence of being a race traitor - not marrying or mating outside of the race or producing mixed race children, but rejecting one's responsibility to participate intentionally in the crafting of one's own cultural and racial identity. Today's race traitors are those who consume the caricatures and stereotypes of their own people produced by the dominant culture.