Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

Can I Cage My Neighbor’s Daughter?

The believer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told this story.

A brown skinned man was sitting in front of his house when ICE appeared.

He was grabbed, separated from his family, put in overcrowded cages with unlivable conditions, and left. His wife and daughter were separated, likewise.

His young daughter was forced to sleep on concrete. Wondering, what no child should ever wonder, “Where are my parents?”

She cried out to God, “Please help me!”

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A prosperity gospel believer heard about this. But, he had to envision a better life for himself. He’d like to help. Maybe someday he would. He just couldn’t today.

A pro-life believer heard this news too. But, he had to be consistent with his beliefs.

“I have to defend the defenseless,” he thought. Once moral order is restored, surely, everyone will be ok. All they need to do is wake up and understand like he does.

So, he did what he always did because he knew best.

An orderly believer heard this news too. Surely, he would do something. He found these conditions most unacceptable. He even wanted to help.

“Still,” he thought, “There are good and bad people on both sides.”

He was taught to follow the rules; to work with people. He loved everyone.

So, he waited for the right time. Maybe others will see a better way in his example and change. It isn’t complacency, it is quiet witness.

Finally, there was one last person who heard these things too. A skeptic at best, an atheist at worst.

He wasn’t as together as the first three folks. He was sort of unkempt. He was brash and often joked with his friends, “If I came into church, the walls would fall down.”

Yet, he knew he couldn’t be quiet. People are dying!

He had a young daughter. He wept openly whenever he thought of her alone should he ever feel the need to flee whatever issues were so untenable. Things he couldn’t know or imagine about these other people’s lives but that didn’t matter so much when he looked into her eyes.

He just saw images of scared, abused, people. He saw children. Children like his daughter. So, he did what he could.

He spoke up. 
He refused to be complicit by his silence.
He even protested at great personal risk. 

Mostly, he vowed to fight for change with his voice, his vote, and his actions.

He’d do whatever it takes to stop these things and make sure they never happen again as long as he could help it.

Whatever his actions did or didn’t accomplish, ultimately, he’d do everything he could to protect, defend, and treat others as he would want to be treated.

“Which person do you think followed my commandment above all others to love God and neighbor?” Jesus asked, “Which person do you think followed me?”

“Go and do likewise.”

Love Always Includes Justice. 

Wherever you are this day: Love Accepts You, No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Note: This story is based on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37.

Backlash!

Backlash!

“Fortune”
A Fortune of money is what you seek but a fortunate son is not someone like me.
A broken body, down on my luck, while you’re perched on top out of touch.
Running the business,
It’s always the same,
Making a fortune because you own the game

Heart with People

There’s always backlash.

Whenever an existing power structure feels threatened, you get backlash.

We see it in our world and, not surprisingly, we see it in the church.

It can be civil rights. It can be women. It can be the LGBTQIA+ community. Disability pride. It doesn’t matter.

In fact, it’s all of these things.

Wherever someone seeks equity and inclusion, you get backlash.

As we also often witness, you get cross sectional power players working together too. Think for a moment about how the powerful never seem to clamor for separation of church and state when they are colluding.

The power players all want to be in cahoots then.

It’s only when equity comes into play, such as when the church desired exclusion from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), do power players scream.

There are numerous examples here. Disability is my primary marginalizing experience but, it’s no different with regard to the other people mentioned initially.

You don’t have to go very far to notice the powerful orchestrating together.

I could name names, however, I suspect I don’t have to if you’ve read this far. They’ll even use us as tokens if we’re not careful.

Most of us won’t do this, of course, but it does happen and it only takes a couple for it to become some insulating justification for those in control. However, there is a better way forward.

When working within the existing power structure doesn’t work, and I believe that time is now, the rest of us need to build together too.

I’ve seen some of this, though, not nearly enough. In many cases, I’ve witnessed the opposite with divisions and factions.

The powerful know this and they’re happy to let it continue and even encourage it. If we minimize each other, they can continue their dominance over all of us.

We need to work across communities as allies for each other.

We need to lift up advocates in each their respective areas.

Whenever possible, we need to empower voices of those who are intersectionally marginalized. (Those who face more than one marginalizing identifier.)

I say this because I do believe you can be marginalized by one trait (as I am with my disability) while also being privileged in other ways (as I am as a white man.)

Yes, there will be times for me to speak. There will also be times for me to yield the floor.

There is time for both and too many times for all of us as it is today.

That’s the backlash to seeking equity. The truly powerful, the ones dominating our world today, will not go easily, quietly, or willingly. That’s where we are.

It’s also why it’s important for us to work together, building each other up. Because, they don’t have to tear us down if we do it for them.

Next time, I’ll look at how Jesus and his early disciples resisted the powerful in their time.

I hope you’ll check back because I believe this is an important lesson for us no matter if you believe exactly as I do or not. Solidarity.

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of Justice and Love, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

 

Money, Children, and Jesus

Money, Children, and Jesus

In my last post, The Problem with Locking People Up for Money, I discussed several systems of injustice we see in our society today including border concentration camps, the prison industrial complex, and the institutionalization of disabled people, and how you should follow the money if you want to identify the source of the problem.

The pursuit of money at the expense of other people is not a new problem, of course, it’s existed for thousands of years. So, as a Jesus follower, I think it’s important to consider his words on this subject. After all, many people promoting this inequity, claim the Christian faith too.

I just wonder how it is that they get there? 

For one thing, Jesus seemed to be against money as a marker of success; at least in a faith sense. I recall, one story in particular where he told a wealthy person to give up all they had, give their money to the poor, and follow him. (Mathew 19, Luke 18)

Furthermore, just prior to his discourse in these passages, he elevates children to an exalted position in the Realm of God. For the circumstances we see in our world today, this is a double damnation.

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In fact, just prior to both of these lessons, we are told by Jesus that it would be better for a person to have a millstone tied around their neck and to be tossed into the sea than to cause a child to stumble. That doesn’t seem to leave a lot of wiggle room. (Matthew 18, Luke 17)

Beyond that we could consider how Jesus lifts up a foreigner as the prime example of the most important Law of Love when someone tries to find room to exclude others once again in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)

Everything else comes after the Law of Love for God and neighbor. 

We could also pontificate on where we would be today if Jesus was stolen from his parents after they fled as refugees to save his life as a baby. (Matthew 2:13-18)

I know you wouldn’t have done that to Jesus but, he might also ask you to consider his words about neglecting people in need while paying particular attention to the end where he says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

To be clear, in case you can’t go look up the passage to read for yourself, the righteous are the people in need and damnation is reserved for the negligent. 

Moreover, since many people like to use biblical law as a means of exclusion, we could talk a great deal about this too.

After all, Jesus tells us, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

We are also told to leave food for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

Going right back to the Law of Love, we are told to “Love the foreigner as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

That God loves the foreigner residing among you as you are to love them yourself. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Do not oppress a foreigner… (Exodus 23:9)

It seems pretty clear. 

You can do a lot of things to people when you have money and power.

If you are going to mistreat them, however, you can’t rightly claim faith while doing it. 

At least I don’t think so, anyway. What do you think?

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of justice and Love,

Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

Straws: Because, Ableism

Straws: Because, Ableism

Today, I want to re-take part of a blog I’ve already written entitled, “Ramps, straws, and the General Isolation of Disabled People.” 

I hope you’ll read it as a companion to this piece and also Google: Straws and Disability.

I’m writing this because the onslaught continues. Now, I know logic doesn’t win arguments anymore, but at least I’ll know I’ve tried. So, hear me out or don’t. I’m writing anyway. Here it goes.

This is about justice, equity, inclusion, and excessive burden. 

I know. You don’t need to say it. Reusable… Bring one… Blah, blah, blah.

And, I could tell you about cleanliness, difficulty cleaning, fungus, compromised immune systems, conducting heat, the dangers of reflexively biting down on a metal straw, aspiration (why paper straws don’t work,) dropping the straw, and any number of things only to be hit back with more, Blah, blah, blah.

I could come over to your house and show you 1,000,000 straws worth of plastic, much of it disposable, and hear more, Blah, blah, blah.

Truthfully though, only not about the straws, I probably couldn’t come over and/or navigate your house. …Or your business, many restaurants, the bar… Given the stairs, narrow spaces, and general clutter which always seems strategically placed in my way. 

I could give you a list of everything I have to bring with me already because your world really doesn’t want me in it and I still hear, Blah, blah, blah…

So, here I sit. Prattling on to all four of you who are still reading.

But, since you’re here, I’ll throw another word your way. Ableism.

Ableism -Discrimination in favor of nondisabled people or against disabled people.

Fighting against ableism, something I’m forced to do everyday because your world was built to exclude me, is about justice.

Justice, Equity, and Inclusion is part of our redemption story.

Plastic_straws-by_shutterstock

This is not as easy as taking straws away from me because you don’t need one for you.

The fact you that I have to address this multiple times and face continued pushback rather than just having people listen is all you need to know. After all, I’m not forcing greater burden on you or asking you to risk your life while also determining whether or not I think the risk, no matter how small, is worth it. 

As I wrote in my previous blog on this subject tagged above,

“People with disabilities like me already have it difficult enough. If you don’t believe me, come spend some time. I’m not talking about dropping by for a few minutes or even spending an afternoon on a few hours visit. Come spend a week. If you feel daring, spend two weeks. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got the time. I’d even appreciate the company.”

You might even gain a broader view of my perspective. 

Of course, you still won’t share my experience fully which is why I need you to listen.

If you don’t want a straw, don’t take one. It seems pretty easy. Your helpfulness, in itself not a terrible thing, doesn’t have to kill me and my disabled friends in the process. 

I’m even asking nicely so I don’t upset your fragile sensitivities thus causing you to clutch your pearls. “Please, let me have my straws.”

I used the magic word and everything.

My mother would be proud.

Peace Love and Acceptance

Education and Exclusion

Education and Exclusion

The following guest post from my friend, Tim Vermande, is a continuation in a series of discussions on Inclusion and Exclusion. You can read more about this in my last post, Do You Struggle with Legalism? I plan to continue this discussion, following up from Tim’s words and continuing to focus on disability, next time. Tim’s original post and other work can be found at Flying Kitty Monster.

What does it mean to be “educated”? The author of this meme on Facebook has an idea:
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As most people will tell you, education is not just being able to spout information (or misinformation) in response to questions. While that kind of learning can be profitable, as recently watchers of “Jeopardy” might know, it does not mean that one is able to discern how these things happened (as watchers of the same show also found, at least until a librarian with discernment learned to beat the champion at his game).

Along with the signs of history repeating itself, there is a need to understand diverse events and discern their commonality. This is why professors ask students to write essays about apparently unrelated topics (one of my favorites was the link shared by movable type, color lithography, peanut butter, Spam, Clarence Birdseye, and avocado green).

This is also why we like open discussions, because people bring in new connections. One of these connections came to mind during the last week, while discussing church opposition to the Americans with Disabilities Act. As it progressed, we developed a feeling that the early church was very inclusive. Jesus was denounced by the religious authorities for partying with sinners and undesirables. The book of Acts and the Epistles tell of attempts to exclude people–all of which collapsed. The Christian world expanded to include Gentiles, Romans who ate meat sacrificed to idols, Samaritans, and a host of other undesirables. Paul, constantly aware of his own past, constantly sought to include everyone.

But somewhere, that was lost. Part of this was self-survival. Creeds arose to draw boundaries. In the process, they did not just define a boundary, but to exclude (writers such as Elaine Pagels have explored this idea further). The Apostles Creed was a low-level form of this tendency, but the Nicene creed spelled out a great many doctrinal points and anathematized anyone who diverted from them.

Along the way, such definitions came to merge with cultural ideas (for an example in one field, see my review here), and in the late 1900s, disabled people found themselves excluded from the provisions of the ADA when it came to churches. Nearly every day I read on a disability site about this. As I and others have found, you can get in trouble faster for insisting that the accessible parking (if it exists) at a church be reserved for people with disabilities than for preaching heresy–I distinctly recall one incident related by a friend who was told that it “wasn’t very Christian” to call police for a violation (I asked if they had mentioned that it wasn’t very Christian to park there without the proper permit). And, as this article asks, why are so many excluded from ministry positions? Will we face the challenge, and will our allies rise to join us?

By the way, if you’re wondering about the exam question, here’s a hint: the link has do with technology that was popularized and made profitable by someone other than the inventor.

Do You Struggle with Religious Legalism?

Do You Struggle with Religious Legalism?

Hey All,

I’m sorry I missed a day or two of posting. I’ve been struggling. I intend to do better.

My depression has kicked up. My sadness. My inability to understand the exclusion in our world.

Maybe it’s being at church meetings. The United Methodist Church is on the verge of breaking apart over the issue of sexuality.

Maybe it’s frustration about my disabilities. I’m not always the inspirational overcomer many nondisabled  people want to see.

Maybe it’s because I don’t check many boxes so easily which makes it more difficult to gain an audience for the words I hope to share.

It’s probably all of these things.

Do you ever feel like you’re struggling. Like you don’t quite fit in? For whatever reason. Your reasons don’t have to be my reasons. It can be anything. Be you.

There are two things I know for sure. 

  1. You are created to be you.
  2. Love always seeks justice and inclusion.

Love loves you no matter what anyone else says or does. Love is. Period. Even when you’re struggling, even when others question your worth or belonging, you are loved.

And, they are loved too but, again, Love always seeks justice. Love always seeks equity. Love always seeks to bring people from the margins into its circle.

I’m a Christian and I know for certain Jesus tells us everything begins with Love and that we are called to do live this way too. (Luke 10:25-37)

This is what I don’t understand about religious legalists.

Of course, they often use terms like traditional so it sounds better, like saying they hold a “traditional view of scripture.”

That’s what’s so nefarious about it. It’s made out to be ok, even good. It’s made to seem like theirs is a higher view of scripture. At least, it’s an acceptable difference of opinion. At worst, theirs is a righteous cause for holiness. It’s none of those things. It’s exclusion and hate that harms people, both directly and indirectly, disguised as caring.

Further, I’m here to tell you, there is nothing traditional about exclusion. That’s not what Love does and it’s certainly not what Jesus does regardless of what you believe or don’t about faith. It’s actually the opposite.

Jesus always tells us to put people above rules.

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So, the next time someone makes you feel like you don’t belong because of their internalized legalism lived out, stay strong. You are not alone. Love loves you and so do I.

You are worthy of Love.

It’s time to call bullshit on anything less. The forces against Love don’t have the right to spin this story whether brought about internally or externally.

Wherever you find yourself this day, thanks for journeying with me and remember in the world of justice and Love, Love Accepts You No Exceptions.

Peace Love and AcceptanceLastly, Before You Go (And, It’s Not Money!)
Writing helps me. I hope my words help you too as this is why I’m out here. Your input also help sustain me. So, please let me know what you think about my post by leaving a comment because my hope is to begin a conversation. Love always works in community. Thanks!

 

 

 

What Side Are You On?

What Side Are You On?

“Social Justice Warriors”
Millions of social justice warriors
Throughout history
Exact numbers unknown
Working to end oppression
Fighting for inclusion
Not just for some but for all
Each our own way
Our own path
Our own focus
Yet, united, we stand, stroll, or roll
Eclectic bodies
Equipped for the fight
Uniquely collected
Like a patchwork quilt
Sewn together
Combined to change the world
A protective cover
To shield in spells of darkness
Each as we come
Ongoing
Unable to be stopped
For even if some are ripped away
Others, stitched in
Become part of this grand fabric
Our aggregate coat of arms
For millions of social justice warriors.

Gandhi - 5-27-2019

Have you ever noticed that bullies who are so critical of anything remotely inclusive never really bring anything to the table besides anger and hostility?

I get so tired of these detractors, who would do nothing except tear apart, acting as critics for those of us who seek kindness and inclusion. I can hear it now, “Snowflake,” or some other bullshit-speak while they are truly the ones most sensitive about any kind of questioning.

Seriously, suggest even for a second that they ought to rethink their stance and they’ll wail like petulant children. They go on the offensive. “Snowflake! Lock her/him up!” and so on. Just a week ago, I heard somebody gleefully declare that soon we inclusives will be locked up for any kind of dissent. “What are you afraid of?” I attempted to ask but even this small questioning act of mine was quickly shouted down.

Maybe they’re right too. We live in pretty dangerous times. I have no doubt some voices will be silenced along the way. This has always been true.

Yet, as difficult and scary as this is, I have hope. Hope that Love is bigger. My voice will no doubt be stilled, either by action or natural order, but the same cannot be said of Love. They’ve tried for thousands of years. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen.

Gandhi - Love

In the words of Gandhi,

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but, in the end, they always fall – think of it – always.”

Besides, I’ll gladly enter into rest with Love rather than sit silently with oppression any day. I’m a Love proclaimer

Thank you to those who resist with me. I’m grateful to call you sisters and brothers.

For those who find comfort in complacency I ask, “What are you waiting for?” They’ll come for you tomorrow even if you’re silent today. Oppression always need an enemy. There is no safe end in silence.

To those of you who choose the path that keeps others out, what part of Love don’t you understand? Especially if, like me, you claim to follow that Jesus guy.

I look forward to your response.

Wherever you are this day, I hope you’ll join me in reflection on these words of love as we share this part of our journey together and remember, wherever you find yourself, in the realm of justice and love,

“Love accepts you, no exceptions.”

Peace Love and Acceptance