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Brian's Blog

  • July 26, 2016

    $92 million being spent to keep us stupid

    Thank you for your correspondence of July 12, 2016. Rather than bringing greater awareness to your perceived grievances, your letter proves our point that there is a network of organizations bound together by common funding, shared staff, and false messages.

    Behind the scenes, some members of Congress have been doing their jobs. And it's upsetting some powerful interests. Learn what's been going on here ...

    and check out this piece by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ...
    #WebOfDenial #ClimateChange

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  • July 25, 2016

    Black Lives Matter

    Someone pointed out recently that in July of 2015 I was invited to respond in a statement of 30 seconds or less to the latest in a series of killings of young black men by police. In my response, I wrote/said "all lives matter."

    Since then, the phrase "all lives matter" has become a standard way of undermining, avoiding, betraying, or weakening the urgent message of the Black Lives Matter movement. That certainly wasn't my intent in the original post, but I can see how it could easily be interpreted that way. That could have been an innocent mistake or it could have expressed the unconscious obliviousness that is all too common among privileged white people like myself. Either way (or a little of both), I regret it.

    So, if I had the opportunity to go back and edit that 30sol message, here's what I'd say:

    Does anybody doubt that the greatest enemy of humanity is inhumanity?

    Racism is a form of inhumanity. The opposite of inhumanity is compassion. Compassion means that every “us” and “them” is part of a bigger “us,” that all of us humans are part of one story of God’s creative adventure on this planet earth. That's why, in our nation with its exceptionally racist history, we must affirm that Black lives matter.

    We’re called to leave inhumanity behind and embrace compassion.

    Even better, though, I was invited to submit something new in 30 seconds or less, which will go live later this week (I'll add the link when it is up):

    America is exceptional in its racism. People of color know this all too well, but too many white people like me still don’t get it.

    Our whole way of life has been framed by white privilege and white supremacy. We have political, cultural, and even theological ways of remaining oblivious.

    Those who conceal their sins won’t prosper, the Bible says, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy.* When white Americans affirm that black lives matter, we are taking a first step toward healing.

    * Prov. 28:13

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  • July 24, 2016

    If you're in the Philadelphia area this week ...

    Check out these POP-UP Conventions ... hosted by my friends at Love-Driven Politics Collective.

    Attend a Pop-Up Convention during the DNC & join a dialogue with everyday people about love & politics ...

    July 25–28, 2016

    An invitation from the Love-Driven Politics Collective
    What is the role of “love” in politics? Bitterness, anger, resentment, and cynicism have marked this election season and left everyday Americans disenchanted with the political process. How can we restore love as a public ethic to change American politics, this election year and beyond? The Love-Driven Politics Collective, in conjunction with the Slought Foundation and the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, will host a series of pop-up conventions across Philadelphia from July 25 — July 28, 2016 in parallel to the Democratic National Convention. We are a group of scholars, activists, teachers, artists, social innovators, and faith leaders dedicated to cultivating a new political culture. Please join us as we examine how we can harness love for social and political transformation. The schedule and sites are as follows:

    Monday, July 25, 6:30–8:00 pm
    Colored Girls Museum
    4613 Newhall St, Germantown
    The Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honors the stories, experiences, and history of Colored Girls.

    Tuesday, July 26 1:30–3:00 pm
    Fleisher Art Memorial
    719 Catherine St, S. Philadelphia
    One of the country’s oldest nonprofit community art schools with a mission to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience.

    Wednesday, July 27 6:30–8:00 pm
    Church of the Advocate
    1801 Diamond St, N. Philadelphia
    The Church of the Advocate unites community residents, volunteers, churches, service providers and educational institutions in a cooperative effort of mutual support and learning to improve the life prospects and well-being of North Philadelphia residents.

    Thursday, July 28 1:30–3:00 pm
    Eastern State Penitentiary
    2027 Fairmount Ave, Fairmount
    Eastern State is considered to be the world’s first true penitentiary, today it is a National Historic Landmark and operates as a museum as a preserved ruin.
    For more information: https://slought.org/resources/love_driven_politics

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  • July 23, 2016

    Making Your Front Lawn a Place of Grace

    Years ago, I learned from Joseph Myers about public, social, personal, and intimate spaces and their power to heal and help.

    Inspired by the concept, in my previous neighborhood, my wife and I decided to invest in a seating area - not in the back yard, but in the front yard. It became a place where I'd go to sit in the morning or evening to have a cup of coffee, read a book, etc. Because it was in the front yard, neighbors would say hi and come and have a seat. Many wonderful conversation happened there, and in a small way, I think we enriched the sense of community in our neighborhood by contributing that space. I've done something similar where I live now ... putting a simple bench out front that says, "Feel free to stop by and chat."

    This article from Mustard Seed Associates does a wonderful job of helping you imagine how your front yard can become a place of hospitality, connection, friendliness, and grace.

    It's a simple thing, but simple things add up, you know?

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  • July 19, 2016

  • July 18, 2016

    Want a Free Copy of The Great Spiritual Migration?

    Goodreads is giving away advanced copies of my upcoming book due out September 20.

    You can learn more here:

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  • July 15, 2016

  • We Make the Road study ... in German

    My last book, We Make the Road by Walking, provides an overview of the whole Bible from a fresh perspective. It was written to be used in groups. Although the book hasn't been translated into German yet, here are some resources for German readers:

    Dear Brian, About 18 months ago you allowed us to translate some chapters out of "We make the road ..". Thank you very much. We had five monthly meetings from January to June with 10 ot 12 people attending. We had inspiring discussions and enjoyed your ideas and in depth thoughts about Jesus and the gospel. Thank you very much.

    Of course you are welcome to post our German translated chapters on your page (Chapters 15-17 an 21 - 25) we would be happy if they were useful to other people.


    If you're interested in using WMTRBW in English, you'll find lots of resources here.

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  • July 14, 2016

    Preachers: Here is a model sermon for times like these

    From my friend and colleague Jacqui Lewis.

    Please don't just preach safe sermons that avoid the issues that have too long been avoided. Please take some risks. Please follow the example of Jesus.

    PS. Here's the first sermon ever from another friend, from last Sunday ... another example of preaching that doesn't shy away from the important issues of today.

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  • Nuns know how to teach!

    Check this out from my friend and colleague Sr. Simone Campbell:

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  • July 13, 2016

    Thinking About the Orlando shootings

    A friend passed on this beautiful reflection written by his child a month ago today, the day after the massacre that took place in Orlando. This beautiful reflection touched me deeply, and with permission, I share it with you. (Thanks, Kelsen!)

    today i'm holding space and sadness and grief for all of the people who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting.
    i'm thinking about the complexities that queer and trans people negotiate in relationship to family and community life -- and the additional layers of complexity that are added when people are the targets of racism, xenophobia, homophobia and/or transphobia all at once.
    i'm thinking about how it's possible that some families or coworkers didn't know that their family member or coworker frequented gay bars.
    i'm thinking that whether people who were there lived or died, this trauma could be the way that a person gets outted.
    i'm wondering how people will be remembered and who will do that remembering?
    i'm thinking about how brown queer people who died are already being used as political pawns when their bodies haven't even been laid to rest.
    i'm thinking about those who lost lovers, best friends, confidants, comrades, parents, and children.
    i'm thinking about the bio fams who were proud and accepting of their loved ones, and how grateful i am for those families.
    i'm thinking about how some of the people who were killed might have been estranged from their bio families for being who they were.
    i'm thinking about the roots of homophobia and transphobia and the connections of these systems to white supremacy.
    i'm thinking about how chosen family is often created to find home when the homes, communities, and countries people are born into have no space for them. i'm thinking about home and how qtpoc spaces are so essential, spaces where people can show up in all of their identities and not have to chose one, where people can see themselves and their experiences reflected in others. i'm thinking about how these spaces are so sacred, and how as a white QT person, i can only begin to imagine the heaviness of this violence for those who seek solace & healing & safety & community & resistance in qtpoc spaces.
    i'm thinking about the collective grief and trauma that Latinx queer community must be feeling in Orlando and around the world. how does a community recover from something like this?
    i'm thinking about how being queer and Muslim is not a contradiction and how painful it must be to have to assert that these identities can coexist and that Islamophobia is not the answer.
    i'm thinking about what it means when a dance floor where you are celebrating all of you becomes the place where your friends were sent to their tombs.
    i'm thinking about how maybe this was the first and last time that someone worked up the courage to go to a gay bar.
    i'm thinking about how trans people are sometimes posthumously misgendered or misnamed - in death certificates, on graves, at a funeral or celebration of life.
    i'm thinking about how these feelings fit the definition of a heavy heart.
    i'm feeling, i'm feeling, i'm feeling. let's hold each other close tonight and every night.

    Kelsen Caldwell 6/13/16

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  • Stories Humanize the Other

    Notice in this story the forces of humanization and dehumanization ...

    The death of María Isabel Vásquez Jiménez was not in vain.

    The 17-year-old undocumented farm worker from Oaxaca, México died of heat exhaustion back in 2008 while she worked in a grape vineyard on a farm east of Stockton.

    Temperatures had risen above 95 degrees and the nearest access to water was a mere 10-minute walk away. Court documents reveal that a strict foreman didn’t allow those working in the vineyard that day a long enough break to stop and get a drink.

    When Vásquez collapsed, her fiancé, Florentino Bautista held her in his arms while the foreman and others in charge that day, took several hours to react and take her to the nearest hospital.

    The result was devastating.

    Vásquez entered in a coma and her body temperature had soared to 108 degrees. She died on May 16, 2008, two days after collapsing. She was two months pregnant with her first child.

    Vásquez’s death created an uproar across the state.

    Listen for stories that humanize the other. Maybe you have some stories to tell?

    More here:

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  • July 12, 2016

    Q & R: Ongoing revelation?

    Here's the Q:

    I'm loving your book A New Kind of Christianity. I do have a question; you describe the ongoing development of concepts of God in the Bible as evolving to higher and more refined levels. But you also describe Jesus as the ultimate Word of God. Do you mean by this that our ideas of Jesus are finalized and at the end of their evolutionary development, or would you agree that those concepts are also continuing to grow and evolve?

    (Maybe you answer this later in the book, but I'm only about halfway done)

    Here's the R:
    What an important question. Thanks for raising it.

    When I say that Jesus is the ultimate Word of God, what I mean is that nobody can come along after and say, "Hey, remember how Jesus was nonviolent and called us to love everybody, no exceptions? Well, that wasn't quite the full story, and I have some additional revelation. We should make exceptions regarding illegal aliens, Syrian refugees, Muslims, Jews, and LGBTQ people and their allies. They are should be treated as exceptions."

    You make a really important distinction ... between "Jesus as the ultimate Word of God" and "our ideas of Jesus." Those two are often terribly different. Our ideas are certainly not "at the end of their evolutionary development," but are, as you say, "continuing to grow and evolve." Jesus actually promised this very thing. He said that he had many things to teach that the disciples weren't ready to bear, and that the Spirit of Truth would continue to guide his disciples into all truth. These new understandings would (to borrow a metaphor from Paul) build on the foundation of Jesus' life and teaching.

    Examples abound in Christian history. For example, I'm old enough to remember Bible-quoting Christians using an obscure verse in Genesis to defend racial segregation and discrimination - in spite of Jesus' clear teaching that God's love was non-discriminatory and universal. What was once normative (among White Christians) is now (thank God, and may it continue) fading away, being replaced by new understandings that were like unwrapped gifts present in Jesus' life and teaching all along (like, for example, "love your neighbor as yourself!").

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  • July 10, 2016

    Wisdom on Fundamentalism ...

    From my friend Cate Wallace - excellent, intelligent, and accessible resources here

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  • July 8, 2016

    Pastors, Priests, Rabbis, Imams ... this Sunday:

    Don't let this week be "business as usual" (or "worship as usual"). Address the issues of race, white supremacy, violence, and hate ... You'll find guidance here:

    And here's a strong example from my colleague Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis of what prophetic preaching might look like this Sunday:

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