Desmond Tutu’s Advice on Forgiving Our Enemies

“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.” —Desmond Tutu

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The Charleston Murders: The Final Battle in the Civil War?

Race was the elephant in the room when Black People were counted, without embarrassment or shame, as “3/5 of a human being” in our Constitution. Race dominated the admission of new states into the Union in the 19th century, so that the balance of power would never tilt against slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation issued in the midst of the Civil War, served to harden the lines of resistance. When the Confederate forces were finally defeated in 1865, Southern resistance did not end, it just went underground. Hooded Ku Klux Klansmen became the successors to the Army of Northern Virginia. Lynching, economic oppression and political powerlessness became racism’s tools, and black subjugation became racism’s goal.

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An Open Letter to My Readers

It was a very good week for our nation. I rejoice in it, welcome it and give thanks to God for it. The world and the church have the opportunity today to be more profoundly Christian than we were able to be just last week. That is a powerful and a welcomed realization. John Shelby Spong

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‘My Name is Legion’: Sources and Forces of White Supremacy in the U.S.

In the wake of the murders of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME church in Charleston on June 17 by a self-proclaimed white supremacist, there was a burst of media interest in the scale and scope of white supremacist groups and networks within the U.S. What stands out in this recent media coverage, and in scholarship bearing upon both contemporary and historical trajectories of white supremacist movements, has been the tendency to view white supremacy—the idea that white people are inherently superior to people of color—as a relatively marginal or “extremist” dimension of American socio-religious culture.

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Black Churches are Burning: Is It the 1990’s All Over Again?

For many Americans, news reporting that at least seven predominantly black churches have been destroyed by fire since the horrific murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last month feels like “déjà vu all over again.” We remember all too well the daily images of burning churches on the nightly news in the late 1990s… Still, can this be the beginning of another wave of racist violence targeting the spiritual homes of African-American Christians?

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Thinking about Another War

When we go to war, we put the children of the poor into uniforms, arm them, and ship them abroad to kill the children of the poor in a distant land. Sure, there are tyrants and illegitimate, violent governments all over the world (many of whom are our closest allies) but as Howard Zinn pointed out, our modern wars always make things worse. We have to find other ways to solve international crises. Our nation should be smarter and our communities of faith should be more conscientious. Being strong and rich does not mean that we are a great nation. Being morally good and diplomatically intelligent…. That would make us great!

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In The Wake of the Emanuel AME Church Murders

The nine deaths in the mass murder in the Mother Emanuel AME church will not automatically become redemptive suffering. Those deaths may be simply sad victims of senseless, racist, violence unless their deaths inspire transformation. It is up to us. The universe, on its own, is capricious and chaotic, entirely devoid of meaning UNLESS we bring meaning to it.

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Look Both Ways, Look Again by Max Hale

In 1957, I accepted an appointment as Minister in Charge of a Methodist parish in Alabama. The night I was ordained, Brother Pickard, a retired pastor said, “Max, most folks will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Little did I know then how that would play out in the years ahead.

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UNBOUND: Liberty, Freedom and the Gift of Liberation

A Commentary for the Observance of Independence Day, 2015

Liberty and Freedom: People – especially politicians, it seems – frequently use the two terms interchangeably, as if they were the same thing. But while civil liberties can be legislated and personal freedoms can be infringed upon, there is something autonomous about personal choices and actions that can never ultimately be denied or encumbered. “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given,” the late author and civil rights activist, James Baldwin, once said. “Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”

An earlier commentary considered the two ideas of conscience and consciousness as a spiritual component and practice of human experience. These comments are written as we approach our nation’s annual observance of the Independence Day holiday; exploring what might constitute a progressive Christian perspective of a kind of liberating “freedom” that is comprised of loosing the bonds of all the little deaths we die, and binding oneself to that which can irrepressibly spring once more to life.

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Polite Self-Censorship No Environment for Free Speech

Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff rebuffed yet again by over two hundred prominent guests at a Manhattan literary gala hosted by the PEN American Center. Following the 7 January, 2015 murders of nine read more

The African American Church

The worshipers welcomed the stranger.
Then hatred wearing a racist robe
tore through the house of God.

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The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself

Much of what passes as information about Islam is weed-like disinformation rooted in stereotype and watered by fear. In The Jesus Fatwah, Islamic and Christian scholars offer reliable information about what Muslims believe, how they live out their faith, and how we all can be about building relationships across the lines of faith.

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Easter is About Seeing Those at the Margins

With a new understanding about suffering and how it victimizes the innocent and its aborts the Christian mission of inclusiveness, Jesus’ death at Calvary invites a different hermeneutic than its classically held one.

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Not Without Courage

Moving further into the Inspired by Hollywood series, we went to see the movie Selma. What a powerful film and so timely. That black men are still twenty-one times more likely to be killed by police than white men* in America is staggering and the media’s attention, drawn to this truth by the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, has drawn our attention, too. Watching Selma brought home the shameful truth that in far too many places, racism still rules the streets.

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