Culture

After El Paso and Dayton

After El Paso and Dayton

The following is a collection of sermon and prayer responses to our nation’s two most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. We give thanks for the bold leadership of these pastors and the many others whose work isn’t featured here. Until we reach a day in which these responses are unnecessary…

“God with us, we come to you today a people changed by violence. When O Lord will we be a culture changed by peace? When will we take seriously the work of this table, this bread, this juice? You commanded that we sit and eat together; it is that simple and yet that hard.”

(Rev. Holly Clark-Porter)

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

The People We Don't Care About, Part Two

(Photo by Tamir Kalifa)

“If we truly felt like this was completely unacceptable in our nation and that our civic leaders have spent the past two decades doing little to systemically alter the circumstances that allows these realities to continue unabated, then the only possible response would be to march, to protest, to flood the offices of our elected leaders, to stand and be counted and be unmoved by the consequences of our actions until something, anything, changed. ”

(By Rev. Dr. Jamie McLeod)

The Ghost of God

The Ghost of God

(Photo by Rythik)

“Though this deity has long since died in my theological imagination, I’ve still yet to eradicate it from the deeper structures of my mind. While I wish it was possible to simply exchange one set of beliefs for another, I’ve come to question whether our minds work like that. Trauma doesn’t neatly or quietly subside due to the passage of time. Some things insist on haunting us.

In the following sections, I’ll describe what it was like growing up in a fundamentalist congregation in the South and what it’s been like on the other side of this “death of God” – how I tried to cope in mainline, liberal seminaries, and what I’ve learned along the way from my attempts to rid myself of this ghastly presence. “

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

The Restoration of Holy Week

The Restoration of Holy Week

(Photo by Tucker Tangeman)

“The week is meant to transform us as we come face-to-face with the week’s tragic end. And yet, we learn to bear this journey of adoration, betrayal, death, and silence. For despite all the pageantry and ceremony, Holy Week isn’t a time of celebration. Instead, it marks the despair, cruelty, and hardness of existence—an existence that Christ lived, experienced, and ultimately died in. Therefore, our journey from Sunday to Saturday is a cruel one. And it’s this cruelty that prepares us for the redemptive love of the Resurrection.”

(By Rev. Dr. Jonathan Best)

Unmasked

Unmasked

(Photo Unknown)

“Masks allow us to pretend, to be someone or something other than who we are for a bit. The timid can be brave, in lion masks. The plain can put on feathers and flambouyance. The wise can be foolish. And the foolish…well…you know… Masks are all pretense, misdirection, fantasy. Masks are fun or spooky, glamorous or mysterious.

But friends. When masks become our daily uniform, when we hide the reality of our lives, our truest joys and our deepest anguishes, from the world--when we hide us from ourselves--then our masks will be our undoing.”

(By Leigh Anne Armstrong)

Mary, Joseph, and Appalachia

Mary, Joseph, and Appalachia

(Photo: Emma Frances Logan)

“Dayton, Tennessee, is a place where half the time you fuss about how Walmart took away business from the downtown stores with their dusty merchandise, and the rest of the time you’re grateful for the steady employment Walmart brings to your cousins who otherwise would never have found a real paying job within fifty miles of downtown. Dayton is a place where you can get stuck with your family’s reputation because everyone thinks that apples don’t fall far from the tree.”

(By Rev. Janet James)

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

(Photo Unknown)

“Outside of certain periods, like the two Great Awakenings or the post-World War II era, a full-throated, zealous participation in Christianity has never been 100% in these Southern states. Perhaps what we’re witnessing in the rural South, then, is similar to a decline in church membership elsewhere in the country, and perhaps it’s also more in line with the general trends throughout the South’s own checkered past. We’ve never collectively been as fervently Christian as what is often told about us or what we tell others about ourselves.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Revolutionaries Always Let You Down...

Revolutionaries Always Let You Down...

(Photo: Vladislaw Peljuchno)

“There is much work to be done by any and all who wish to come together and struggle for equality, justice, change. At the same time, let’s all take a step back from the different groups that we support and ask the question: Are they being led in a manner that is open, honest, and accountable or is there a cabal where a community is most needed? Support revolutions, not revolutionaries. “

(By Rev. Dr. Jamie McLeod, Jr.)

My Seminary has Closed...

My Seminary has Closed...

(Photo: Unsplash)

“As a pastor trained by the 20th century but living and serving in the 21st, I know the next steps for all churches will require us to bless and release much of how things have always been. To move forward with integrity, we all must dream, innovate and discern what the next, right steps are.

Those steps won’t be the same for every church or divinity school or other religious organization. Some will face the hard truth of needing to close their doors.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

Returning...

Returning...

(Photo: Unknown)

“What I can do is bear witness to the impact that [Thich Nhat Hahn], his writings, his teachings, and his life had on me and, I suspect, other Western Christians. And while I have no idea if this was his intention…I can state, unambiguously, that his Buddhism made me a better Christian, a truth that I’d like to offer a few words to explain.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

Spiritual Musings on the Blues

(Photo: Marc Boswell)

“This is why Black theologians should not hesitate to seek the Spiritual within and reflect theologically upon all facets of cultural productions present in the Black community that are shaping the contours of Black life. This led Cone to examine the Blues as theological texts, defying the binary mentioned at the beginning of this essay in which some theologians ignore the religious depth of so-called secular texts.”

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams, I)