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!”

1537297551199-privateprisonmoney

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.

My Disability is Not Your Inspiration

My Disability is Not Your Inspiration

My Identity
My chair
Beat up and battered

Like my body, broken
Yet, battery powered, it carries on
Moving me throughout my day
Allowing me life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
My chair and me
My identity

Everyone likes a feel good story.

“An overcomer, how wonderful!”

Except, when it isn’t. 

Now, I have no problem if you find my sermons moving as you would another pastor or if you think I did something good, regardless of the body in which I live, but overcomer stories are insidious. Here’s why.

When you focus solely on achievements in light of my disability, my real life needs are overlooked. 

As disability advocate, Stella Young said,

“No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp.”

This is what happens: If I have to overcome my disability, I also suffer from my disability.

What if my disability is not the cause of my suffering? 

My body sucks sometimes, sure. Nobody likes being sick or in pain.

Do you know what would help? Access to affordable healthcare. A ramp.

Those are the things I need. We have the technology. We just gloss over the effort.

I’m not bound by my wheelchair. My wheelchair is freedom. Just like those ramps and curb cuts.

sea black and white landscape beach
Photo by Sabeel Ahammed on Pexels.com

I don’t need to be free from my disability.

I just need you to help me create a world that includes me. 

Otherwise, telling me I’m inspirational is meaningless.

In fact, people viewing me as an inspiration is killing me. 

Love Always Includes Justice. 

Wherever you are this day:

Love Accepts You, No Exceptions. 

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

 

Jesus, A Military Parade, and State Sanctioned Execution

Jesus, A Military Parade, and State Sanctioned Execution

The Following is Reflection based on Luke 19:28-44.

Let’s talk for a few minutes about where Jesus would be for a Quasi-Military, Muscle Flexing Parade.

You see, there was another parade Jesus encountered as he entered a city in a State known for flexing its might. This in Jerusalem. 

The Romans would have been coming into the city charged by the emperor with keeping the peace. More than anything, it would have been a show of strength.

“Shut up or we’ll shut you up.” 

Frankly, even those in Jesus’ crowd wanted a showdown that day. So, maybe I’m asking too much asking us to consider what the State does.

Still, with so many professing “A Christian Nation” it shouldn’t be too much trouble. So, back to parades of strength.

Because, as the military paraded in, as commanded by the ruler of the land, Jesus came in the city riding on the colt of a donkey.

At first, the crowd didn’t get it. “Savior!” they cried out. Those claiming the position of most religious saying:

“Stop this noise. We are ok serving the state as long as we maintain our dominance over those beneath us too. We are not in conflict. We are in cahoots.”

Sounds familiar, right?

Yet, here Jesus is, comically, a full grown man on an undersized service animal.

Worried, at first, they’d later mock him all the way to state sanctioned execution. 

So, here we are now, charged with living like Jesus.

Where do you think Jesus would be for a Quasi-Military, Muscle Flexing Parade? 

Here it is as recorded in Luke 19:41-44. 

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.

43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.

44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

The only question to ask is, “Where are you?” 

Peace Love and Acceptance

 

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.

1537297551199-privateprisonmoney

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

 

 

The Problem with Locking People Up for Money

The Problem with Locking People Up for Money

Today, I want to talk about the warehousing of people for Money
Because it’s a Huge Problem.

I’m not here to debate you about terminology because this misses the point. I don’t care what you call it. “A rose by any other name…”

I’m not here to talk about the particulars either. You can look them up if you care and, if you don’t know or care by now, you are likely part of the problem.

If you really don’t know and do care, Google: Concentration Camps.

From a Disability Perspective, Google: Willowbrook State School.

You can also look up, Prison Industrial Complex or Nursing Home Abuses.

There is no shortage of examples.

But, I’m not here to talk about any of that. I’m here to talk about one thing: MONEY.

1537297551199-privateprisonmoney

Because, if you want to know where the problem is, follow the money.

I’ll even let you in on a secret:

The same people getting tax breaks are the same people making the money.

Sure, they’d like to keep the fight between us at the bottom; those who have little and those who have less.

After all, if we are fighting, they can keep making money.

The problem is top down.

Furthermore, when you are in the business of making money at other people’s expense, no amount of money is ever enough.

Now, they’ll tell you, they’ve earned it.

“With work and a can-do attitude, you can do anything…”

Nonsense.  

There are a lot of people who work hard and are poor.

Relatively speaking to those at the top, that’s most of us.

And, don’t get caught up in semantics because you want to align up. That’s nonsense too.

See Again: The desire to keep the fight between those who have little and those who have less.

Nobody really makes it on their own just as nobody is born without potential that isn’t elevated or diminished by societal constructs.

People in power refuse to acknowledge this because equity would threaten their power.

That’s why they work hard to keep you from acknowledging it too.

Because, for people who want to make money at the expense of others, it is never enough.

They will never relinquish power to create equity.

They will never contribute their fair share toward our common good.

It’s always take more, provide less.

So, they’ll cut staffing, cut services, lock people away to make money, and overcrowd as many people into the least amount of space as possible. All in the name of dollars.

They’ll make it sound good, sure. They’ll tell you things like, “They have a responsibility to the shareholders.”

What they don’t tell you is that they, and others who look an awful lot like them, are the shareholders.

I can say this for certain. It isn’t me and I’m guessing it isn’t you either.

Be careful, though, they are persuasive.

You see, they know another important thing.

They know our fear and vulnerability and use it against us.

But, we don’t like to think about our own vulnerability or mortality.

So, it’s easier to lock people away.

We don’t like to think about our own insecurity.

So, it’s easier to lock people away.

We don’t like to consider our prejudices against people who might look different than us. Again, we want to align up.

So, it’s easier to lock people away.

Except, once, you lock everyone away, and push everyone on the margins to the outside, you’re the only one left.

In the world of never enough money that’s a dangerous place to be.

If you want to identify the problem, follow the money.

It leads right back to the top.

Check back Thursday where I’ll discuss what Jesus had to say about money, children, and people on the margins.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what 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

If Your Faith Excludes You’re Wrong

If Your Faith Excludes You’re Wrong

“Love: Our Universal Truth”
If Love is our universal truth, then why is it so hard?
We keep each other far away as if to stand on guard.
But Love calls us to open up if we long to be set free.
And, in this way we share a Love that connects eternally.

Love Wins Wheelchair with Stole

I wrote these above words a few days ago because I believe Love and kindness is the key to everything. Love saves whereas hate destroys.

Yet, we live in a word so often characterized by hate. Even worse, just as we sometimes see, hate can be a great unifier for people. It can be a unifier that is, until it destroys and, make no mistake, it does destroy. Hate always needs something to consume.

Sure, it will destroy your identified target at first. Only, it doesn’t stop there. Hate is a scourge. It destroys everything. Eventually, it will even destroy itself.

Those, united by hate, will hate each other when nobody else is left.

Love on the other hand is different. Love saves. Love provides life. As a Christian specifically, and as a person of faith more broadly, I believe in this message.

This is what I find so troubling about people who use religion as an instrument of hate.

Since I’m a Jesus follower, I will speak directly to those who claim my faith tradition. It may be a universal truth, but I have a special responsibility to speak to my people. It’s also what I see most often in the world directly outside my font door.

If your use faith as a tool for hate, you are doing it wrong.

Put another way, you can’t rightfully claim to be a Christian while also supporting people and systems of hate and exclusion without being wrong.

As I wrote on social media,

“It would be nice if power hungry, exclusionist, patriarchal, lock up children, people of color, the disabled, and others Christians gave more consideration to the upside down and interdependent nature of the biblical narrative instead of using it as a tool for hate.” (1Corinthians 12:21-27, Matthew 5:1-12)

Love seeks justice.
Love uplifts.
Love supports.
Love sustains.
Love always expands to include people on the margins.

Love takes the force of power and hate and turns it upside down. That’s the message of Jesus.

Furthermore, yes, Love will win but we also are charged with living it into our world today. (1 Corinthians 13, Luke 10:25-37)

Maybe you still want to hate and exclude but, you can’t claim to be a Christian while doing it.

Peace Love and Acceptance