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Friday, January 20, 2017

Apocalypse Already, Pt. 1 (Fooling with Scripture podcast)

Hi folks -- here's a new episode of the Fooling with Scripture podcast! As promised last episode, I'm starting a new series on revelation and Revelation -- that is, on the Book of Revelation, and also on the concept of revelation, which is actually a translation of the Greek word apokalypsis. 

You've probably heard the words "apocalyptic" and "apocalypse" before, in reference to something like "the end of the world." But check out the podcast to find out more about what the word actually means, and why I think right now is a good time to be talking about it:

I mention Brian Blount's book, which I'll be referring to throughout this series: Can I Get a Witness?: Reading Revelation through African American Culture (Westminster John Knox, 2005). The quote "Revelation obscures" is literally on page 1.

The other commentary I mention is Christopher C. Rowland's in Volume XII of The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Abingdon, 1998). Rowland's point about de-mythologizing readings, the rise of the Nazis, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer is on page 507-508. And on pg. 556 is the longer quote I read:
In situations where [the Book of Revelation's] imagery is allowed to work, however, it can disturb the convention maintained by the commonsensical. Like metaphors, whose function is to lay bare the realities of experience by the abrupt and jarring impact of their linguistic juxtapositions, apocalypse seeks to stop us in our tracks and get us to view things differently. 
I also find M. Eugene Boring's (tee hee hee) introduction to Revelation in The New Interpreter's Study Bible (Abingdon, 2003), to be a helpful overview -- it's on pages 2211-13.

Finally, I paraphrased a letter/social media post by activist ShiShi Rose -- you can read the full quote and get some good context here. Here's an excerpt:
In the weeks leading up to the Women’s March on Washington, Brooklyn-based activist ShiShi Rose penned a moving letter to “white allies” planning to attend. Rose wrote that while many have viewed the nation through a different lens since President-elect Donald Trump's election, “For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked." Rose continued, "I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgement of their own privilege daily. ... You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too. I was born scared."
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Walls I've Seen

There is a photo of me, taken while I was living in Jerusalem almost a decade ago now, which I sometimes find myself thinking about. I am praying at a wall -- not the wall that many people pray at in Jerusalem. A different wall. A wall, built by the state of Israel, which digs deep into the occupied Palestinian territories, separating farmers from their land, neighbors from neighbors, dividing communities.

This particular picture shows this wall as it snakes through a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. It's hard to tell from the photo, but here the wall is actually right in the middle of the street. People on one side used to be able to just walk across the street.

Now, there's a wall.

In my relatively short life, I've seen a wall or two.

Another photograph. Another memory. This from a few years later. The picture, taken by a good friend, is of me in front of another wall. This one is in the city of Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora. This wall, just like the first one, divides communities. It cuts relatives off from one another. On the side of the wall I'm sitting on, a local artist has created an installation, The figures in the installation represent a stream of migrants, sojourners, travelers. They carry their possessions on their backs. They carry the body of a fallen comrade.

They carry the weight of the wall.

These walls already exist. They already divide. And they were already built -- with purpose, with intention. They were built by people working for governments and private corporations -- Israeli corporations in both cases, as well as U.S.

They existed, and were funded and maintained, with U.S. taxpayer dollars, during the previous administration. And I just think we need to remember that.

Building walls is not a new, scandalous idea. It is what we have been doing in the world, with our money, our bulldozers, our weapons and security cameras protecting the sites of construction and destruction.

The controversial "Muslim registry" that the next president has been talking about -- which well-meaning friends and colleagues have pledged to protest by registering themselves, as well we all should -- is not new, either. It's based on a law that was in fact in place, starting shortly after September 11, 2001 but continuing to be utilized well until 2011. It remained on the books until just a few weeks ago. How many of got ourselves registered before then?

The targeting and punishing and killing of the families of those we deem "terrorists." The targeted deportations. The state violence against marginalized communities. The gutting of programs designed to protect the most vulnerable, the most hurting in our society. These are not new things. They did not spring into being with a particular demagogic individual. They are business as usual for the U.S.

This is what we do.

Do not hear me saying that these things are normal. They are not normal. They are horrific. But they are normalized. And they highlight the dangers of what happens when we allow -- when I allow -- such things to be normalized.

Walls that divide become normalized. The destruction of households, the targeting of civilians, the demonizing of migrants and refugees -- they become normalized, hidden behind the distant bureaucratic operations of the state. We can safely stop paying attention to them -- well, we few, we very very very few, can safely stop paying attention to them, all the while thinking we are normal, we are the majority, our experience is usual.

It is not. People live in fear of the normalized mechanisms of state violence, all the time.

The incoming administration represents an unveiling of this. Their rhetoric is more blatant. Their talk of walls and destruction and deportation louder, more vitriolic.

But the normalization of all of this?

That's on us.

These are some of the walls I've seen. And they are not new. And they are not normal.

But we have let them become normalized.

Of this, may we repent.


Want to help de-normalize walls that divide? Take one step by  finding out how to make your congregation or community HP FreeHewlett-Packard (HP) is one of the largest contractors of the U.S. defense industry. The technology created by HP helps deport U.S. immigrants on a scale we have never seen, tracks Americans held within the massive and discriminatory incarceration system, and denies Palestinians freedom of movement in the West Bank and Gaza. Hewlett-Packard sells the tools necessary for state repression: surveillance and population registration technologies. The biometric IDs, fingerprinting, and retinal scanning equipment and software developed by HP are critical to Israel’s ability to maintain segregation and apartheid.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

A New Year of Fooling with Scripture!

It's 2017, and I'm ready for a new year of fooling with scripture!

In this episode, I talk a bit about some upcoming projects, including a new series on the book of Revelation.

I also look back over the past few months of the podcast and ask the question, what does it mean to fool with scripture?

A few different themes come to mind -- when it comes to fooling with scripture, we're interested in:

1) Surprising, not Spectacular
2) Authoring, not Authority
3) Conversation, not Coercion
4) Text, not Textbook
5) Foolish, not Foolproof

Want to hear more? Check out the podcast:

I mention the "Roadmap to Biblical Interpretation" that we learned at Wesley Seminary -- if that's of interest to you, you can check out the book by my professor Dr. Sharon Ringe (you might remember her from the John series). In brief, the Roadmap is an approach to biblical interpretation that starts with the assumption that readers and texts both originate in contexts and that no one interpretation can take precedence over others. With this in mind, the Roadmap consists of 5 steps: (1) "Starting at Home" with the readers context (2) Encountering the text (3) A closer reading of the text (4) Expanding our inquiry to the context out of which the text emerges and (5) Engaging with other readers, including a broader community of voices we might tend to forget.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my friend Morgan Guyton -- his book How Jesus Saves the World from Us inspired the rhythm of my "five not exactly principles." Morgan's a campus minister at Loyola and Tulane University in Louisiana -- learn more about what they're up to here.

And as always, if you like this podcast, consider becoming a Patron -- you'll also get sneak previews of my new book!

Monday, January 2, 2017

I may not be doing enough, and also I am enough, and other tangled-up thoughts I'm having

No new 'Fooling with Scripture' podcast this week, because (a) I've been traveling, (b) I lost my voice, and (c) I want to focus on book-writing this week, as well as posting some blog reflections I've been messing around with. If you'd like to see me post more often, you can help by becoming a Patron! The generous support from Patrons helps me take the time to create new stuff.

A little while ago, I posted a reflection about repentance based on a really old story. At the end of that reflection, I wrote: "But those two things -- the internal work of repentance, and the external actions of repentance -- don't happen in isolation from each other....They go hand-in-hand. And when we're hand-in-hand...well, it's a lot harder to hold on to violence, isn't it?"

And I wanted to share a bit about that internal work I've been doing, or at least, the landscape in which that eternal work is taking place. Which for me, comes down to a bit of a conundrum I have, which I suspect many of you have as well:

How do I confront the sense that I'm not doing enough, without falling into the trap of thinking that I'm not enough?

For anyone just arriving on the scene: there is a simple fact about my emotional life, and my mental health, that is important for me to keep in view. When I don't keep it in view, bad things happen. Breakdown things. Hospital things. Avoiding those things, and all the practices and habits that avoidance entails -- including visits with my counselor and my psychiatrist -- is a big priority for me.

And the thing I need to keep in view is the simple emotional fact that "I'm just not doing enough" can become a really toxic message for me.

By "toxic," I don't mean, "bums me out." I mean, "sends me into harmful spirals of self-hate and potentially even self-harm." I mean, "is bad not only for the intangible contours of my emotional, mental, spiritual health but for my concrete physical health."

It could be argued that such a consideration is a privilege, and indeed, as with many aspects of my life, privilege plays a role. But I would argue that ignoring such things is a privilege in and of itself; that it is only within the remarkable privilege of the post-industrial "West" that the insistence that "doing more" is always the best way forward coheres; that it is the privileged few rather than the oppressed many that tend toward "functional atheism," a term defined by Quaker author and educator Parker Palmer as

...the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen -- a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God. 
Oppression and violence are, of course, also bad for the health -- physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual -- of their victims, and need to be opposed for this among many other reasons.

But as, at the beginning of this new year, as I reflect on myself and on those things I need to turn from and toward, I am conscious of living in a tension between the very real sense that I am not doing enough -- enough to confront racism, or sexism, or heterosexism, or violence, or mendacity, or oppression -- and the reality that this sense can be quite harmful, not only to myself but to those around me.

Tension is a word I use often, and it's one whose meaning is easy to lose sight of. Think of a rubber band, which only does its work by holding tension between two poles. If the band is pulled too much, it might break; but if it is not being pulled at all, it serves no function, no purpose. The purpose is in the tension.

And so here is the relevant tension, the two poles that must be pulled against each other if any work is to be done, if anything is to be held together:

It is true that I am not doing enough. This is true because of the simple fact that, short of the eschaton (a topic I'm going to take up in a series of podcasts this month, by the way), there will never be a time when enough has been done, when the work is finished, the struggle won.

It is also true that I am enough. This is true because I am, and you are, made in the divine image, breathed into by the Spirit, loved madly and wildly by a God who creates in and through love.

If I only look to "I am not doing enough," then more than burnout happens to me. Personal collapse happens to me. And my actions and activity come from a frenetic, desperate place of trying to prove to myself and others that I am, finally, doing enough. Which is often ineffective and sometimes very harmful.

But if I settle down into the interior space of "I am enough," then not only may I actually accomplish more, but I am less likely to cut others with the jagged edges of my ego that I am trying desperately to force on the world in the guise of "doing more."

Brene Brown, in a passage I share often because it is worth sharing, writes:
Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. 
So here is the landscape of my internal work, here at the start of a year that is going to be marked, I think, with a lot of struggle and a lot of rolling-up-of-sleeves:

I am turning, again, to the practices of "enough-ness." Not to indulge myself. Not as part of some sort of feel-good escapism plan. But because it's by sinking downward into that enough-ness, rather than climbing up to the peaks of "doing more," that the real work gets done.

The work, not only of my own repentance, but of the transformation of the world into a true reflection of God's justice, compassion, and peace.

I may not ever be "doing enough."

But I take a deep breath and remember: I am enough. And that is where we begin.


The Parker Palmer quote is from Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (John Wiley & Sons, 2000), pg. 88.

The Brene Brown quote is from
Daring Greatly (Gotham Books, 2012), pg. 10.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

"God can be born anywhere" -- A Christmas Greeting from Fooling with Scripture

Every year, at Christmas, I post the same thing.

Not because it's the most profound thing ever, but because it's the truest thing I've figured out to say about Christmas.

This year I thought I'd present it in brief "Fooling with Scripture" podcast form.

Check out the mini-podcast here:

The first time I really understood the Nativity was in Yanoun, in the northern West Bank. The shepherds we were with showed us where they keep their sheep. It was a low, dark, cave.  Noisy, crowded with animals, and smelling like–well–sheep shit. The mangers were rusty, with sheep pushing at each other to find space to eat. Not the sort of place you’d want to have a kid. I remember thinking: “If God can be born here, I guess God can be born anywhere.”

Here's a song about Yanoun:

You can find out more about Sabeel, and about Friends of Sabeel - North America, and about the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program. If you're feeling generous this Christmas, I encourage you to make a gift to any and all three.

 Of course, if you're feeling particularly generous, and you like the stuff I post on here, you can become a Patron!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Wherever you are -- God can be born there. With you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fooling with Scripture (Bonus Episode) -- The Longest Night

This time of year, around the winter solstice, we are faced with the longest, darkest nights of the year, and the shortest days. It can be hard for some people to feel joyful or celebratory at this time of year -- which can make the holidays jarring for some. In this short, bonus episode of "Fooling with Scripture," I talk a bit about that, with reference to Isaiah 45 and Luke 1. Check it out:

If you want to hear the full version of Pat's song -- which you should -- you can listen to it on SoundCloud:

As I mentioned, Pat has very generously offered this song as a free download, but writes that "if you want to support people who are working to realize Mary's vision, consider giving to the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State.

I also mentioned my work with Georgetown Ministry Center. From now until the end of the year, first time donations of $30 are being matched, dollar for dollar -- click here to donate.

And I'd be remiss to mention "the treasures of darkness" without mentioning Barbara Brown Taylor's fantastic book Learning to Walk in the Dark -- you can read more about her book and the treasures of darkness here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fooling with Scripture, Ep 16 -- Fooling with Waiting

In this week's Advent episode of the Fooling with Scripture podcast, we're talking about waiting and not waiting. In urgent times, can we afford to "wait for it"? And if not, what are we to make of biblical passages about waiting, and the emphasis on waiting during this time of the Church year? There is a big difference, I'll argue, between the concept of "waiting on God" cited in the scriptures and the idea of having a "wait and see" attitude. We'll be looking at several passages, but in particular at the prophet Habakkuk. Check it out:

If you're thinking this week's podcast sounds a bit familiar...well, you caught me. I've used this text, and this tension between waiting and not-waiting, before, in a sermon I gave back in seminary. You can read it here.

The best commentary I've ever read on Habakkuk is still the one written by Howard Thurman in the old Interpreter's Bible commentary. It's tough to find, but if you can, it's really an incredible gem.

The quote from Thurman that I read in the podcast is from Deep is the Hunger. In the 2000 edition from Friends United Press, it can be found on page 53-54, and includes a story about driving in the snow that is perfect for this time of year:
"Paradoxical as it seems, patience is an important technique for accomplishing difficult tasks, even in matters having to do with social change….Some things cannot be forced but they must unfold, sending their tendrils deep into the heart of life, gathering strength and power with the unfolding days....Patience…is only partially concerned with time, with waiting; it includes also the quality of relentlessness, ceaselessness and constancy. It is a mood of deliberate calm that is the distilled result of confidence. One works at the task intensely even as one realizes that to become impatient is to yield the decision to the adversary."
You can read the full text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' here;  and you should. You should read it, over and over again, particularly if you are about to comment on any group's choice of timing or protest tactics.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fooling with Scripture, Ep 15 -- Kings and Court Jesters

This week's episode of Fooling with Scripture is about kings and court jesters; about power and foolery. Instead of focusing on a single text this week, we're going to start with a paradigmatic text in the Hebrew Scriptures -- 1 Samuel 8 -- and then watch its implications play out in a number of different texts in John's gospel.

Like this blog and the podcast? Please consider becoming a Patron! Have a question, a comment, or a scripture you'd like "fooled with"? Send me an email!

For more on the tensions between views of the monarchy in the Hebrew Bible, Walter Brueggemann is still the man. His Prophetic Imagination is still a classic, and it's relatively short and readable. The tension throughout the texts is really drawn out by Brueggemann, along with Bruce Birch, Terence Fretheim, and David Petersen, in A Theological to the Old Testament (Abingdon Press, 2nd edition 2005).

For a recent, concise, and excellently written take on the links between the cross and foolishness, check out Robert C. Saler's latest book, Theologica Crucis: A Companion to the Theology of the Cross, available through Cascade Books.

And on a 100% completely unrelated note, just absolutely nothing to do with this podcast why would you even think it would be, check out the Hamilton soundtrack. Just because it's good.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The violence that is in my hands

Crispin de Passe (1564-1637)
Jonah 3:6-9 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

There is an old, old story I think about often.

It's a story about an angry, sad young man from a backwater town in a occupied corner of a world-spanning empire. The story goes that God tells this young man to get up and go to the capital city of this empire -- this violent empire which has occupied and oppressed his people -- and tell them to be nicer and to say they are sorry and to stop committing violent acts. The young man, understandably, does not want to do this. He runs away. There is a storm. A big fish. A prayer. The young man, eventually, goes to the capital city. He tells the people there to stop doing the terrible things they've done. Amazingly, they listen to him. The young man doesn't feel any better, though, because all of the awful things that have happened in the past are not magically wiped away by the success of his mission. He is angry. And God talks to him about how angry he is, and why.

And that's how the story ends. We don't know what happens next. Probably because it's up to us to decide. In a way, it's like one of those old 'Choose Your Own Adventure' stories.

There have been times in my life where I have compared myself to this young man. There is something noble about it, a false humility to it -- to say, "Oh, yes, I ran from God for so long, and then I stopped running and reported for duty, and now I am doing what God wants me to do." That's a nice narrative.

But I am not that young man.

I am a citizen of that capital city. And there are a lot of angry voices who are telling me that this city, and what it represents, needs to change.

To repent. Which is a word, in Hebrew, that just means, "to turn."

In the story, the king of the city listens to the angry young man. In a silly and satirical scene, he orders everyone in the city, including the animals -- what have the cows ever done to anyone -- to put on mourning clothes. It is an act of repentance, at once somewhat foolish and yet powerful in its own right. And he says this: "All shall turn from their evil ways and repent from the violence that is in their hands."

The violence that is in their hands.

And that is the phrase that has been echoing in my head for the past week. Because I have been thinking a lot about what I need to repent from, what I need to return from. I have been thinking a lot about what I need to drop. About the violence that is in my own hands.

Here are a few things I think I need to repent of. Here are a few types of violence I think are in my own hands:

1) Cynical detachment
When I choose a cynical detachment over a critical engagement, I'm using cynicism to try to prevent myself from being hurt. Cynicism allows me juggle the violence in my own hands like a hot coal, trying to keep from being burned without dropping it. It won't work -- and it will burn others in the process. I think I need to repent of -- to turn from -- cynicism and turn towards engagement and connection.

2) Privileged hubris
When I choose snarky humor over real action, or when I dismiss the real concerns of marginalized people and groups because "I just don't think it will happen," then I am revealing the hubris that comes with privilege. I need to turn from privileged hubris and turn towards a posture of humble listening.

3) Standing By
When I choose not to interact and intervene in situations where someone is being hurt, I choose passive standing-by instead of active coming-alongside. I am preparing, this coming weekend, to lead a training for college students on what we call "pro-social bystander intervention" or "positive bystander intervention." We teach students that they have the responsibility to intervene to prevent interpersonal violence and abuse. It's a lesson we all need to learn, not just on a college campus, but in our society as a whole. We are responsible for each other's safety. We have a responsibility to intervene. I need to turn from passive standing by to active intervention and solidarity.

3) White Supremacy
With the election into the highest office of the land of a man who used blatantly racist rhetoric, and that man's appointment to a White House position of another man who is an overt white supremacist, it would be easy for me to deny my complicity in white supremacy. Surely not I? I am no bigot. But there is more to white supremacy than open bigotry. Here is one definition from my friend Alicia at Chasing the Promise, from a dialogue I participated in at a recent conference:
White supremacy establishes whiteness as superior to other racial identities through the elevation of the needs, wants, concerns, perspectives, feelings, and desires of white people over that of people of color. This includes the centering of the theological, rhetorical, aesthetic, and economic priorities and preferences rooted in whiteness as well as the appropriation and rebranding of cultural expressions sourced from people of color.
At the conference which Alicia writes about, I shared one of the ways in which I participate in this system -- by centering my questions and efforts about the church in the issues facing predominantly white churches in this country. In their statement following the election, the Black Lives Matter movement said the following: "White supremacy fortified the decision to disregard racism and sexism as serious variables in the outcome of this election." So you see the tie between white supremacy, and my cynical detachment, and my privileged hubris. I need to turn from white supremacy and turn towards the centering of the needs of people who are different than me -- the centering of the needs, wants, concerns, perspectives, feelings, and desires of people of color.

4) Sexism
Again, with the election of a man who has bragged about sexual assault, and who uses gendered rhetoric that I literally train college students to interrupt and challenge, it would easy to say: not me! But when I fail to listen to the voices and stories of women, when I interrupt or talk over or pretend to have some sort of expertise that I don't, I participate in a sexist structure. I need to turn from misogyny and turn towards a centering of the stories of women.

What I've written here about sexism and white supremacy, I could also write about heterosexism, about ableism. About the hundreds of ways that I center the needs and concerns and stories of "people like me" over and against -- that last phrase is important -- the needs and concerns and stories of people who, in one sense or another, are different than me.

In the story, people put on sackcloth to indicate their repentance. This was a symbolic action which would have been widely understood in its time as a sign of mourning and a break from normal day-to-day activity. But our society sometimes lacks such commonly held symbolism; and, just as importantly, sackcloth would have been more than symbolic. It required a very real divestment of the regalia of power, including a disarming of the populous and the halt of normal economic activity. The symbolism was overt; but a concrete disruption accompanied it.

And so, as I consider what my sackcloth will look like over the coming days, weeks, and months, I'm thinking about action. I'm thinking about concrete attempts to release the violence that is in my hands.

Some of those actions are likely to be continuations of things I'm already doing. Like facilitating Bystander Intervention Trainings at Georgetown. Or working with Friends of Sabeel - North America, whose younger members and staff are working to make the organization more intersectional and more attuned to anti-oppression work in our organizing. Or working with some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society, those who experience chronic homelessness and severe mental illness, in my job at the Georgetown Ministry Center.

But a lot of these actions are going to have to come from a place of humble listening and re-positioning. Some real soul-searching and internal work.

So I'm going to write a follow-up post to this one, once I've had a bit more time to do some of that internal work. But those two things -- the internal work of repentance, and the external actions of repentance -- don't happen in isolation from each other. They're not as easily split up as two blog posts.

They go hand-in-hand. And when we're hand-in-hand...well, it's a lot harder to hold on to violence, isn't it?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fooling with Scripture, Ep 14 -- Scapegoats, Breathing, and F Words

This week's episode of Fooling with Scripture is the last in a series brought to you through a partnership with Crossroads United Methodist Church. We've been focusing on texts from John's gospel. If you've tuned in because of the series at Crossroads, I hope you'll keep listening!

This week we're looking at John 20:19-14. In this story, Jesus appears to the gathered disciples (he's already appeared to Mary Magdalene, the first evangelist) while they are locked in a room out of fear that they will meet the same fate at the hands of religious and political authorities as Jesus had.

As I say at the very beginning of this week's podcast, I know people are feeling a lot of intense emotions right now, including fear, so this seemed an appropriate week to talk about fear, and scapegoating, and the need to keep breathing.

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Have a question, a comment, or a scripture you'd like "fooled with"? Send me an email!

If the piece about scapegoats and scapegoating caught your interest, you might want to check out the work of French anthropologist and theologian Rene Girard, in books such as I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning and The Scapegoat. James Alison is a Catholic theologian and a contemporary interpreter of Girard's work; check out his Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay. I first learned about Girard's theories through the writing of Tom Fox, a Quaker and member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who was killed in Iraq.

For a powerful read on the care we need to take in approaching the concept of forgiveness, particularly for traumatized individuals and communities, I'd recommend the concluding chapter of Pamela Cooper-White's book, The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church's Response. It's a timely read. The chapter actually begins with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, which is a book I'm going to be reading over the next few months because I think it has a lot to speak into our current situation. Another timely book that I'm picking up to re-read is Parker Palmer's Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. If anyone is interested in some sort of online reading group, feel free to email me.

Last week, Leigh preached at Crossroads on the same text the podcast was about. You can read her sermon here or listen to it here:

Also, I had a few people mention that they'd like to words to our new theme song, written by the fantastic Pat Dupont. So here you go:
The sound of the world is so loud
I'm trying to hear you over the crowd
'Cuz everybody says, everybody's always saying that
You've gotta be strong and popular
But I'd rather be weak
Which means that success for me
Is if the whole world thinks that I'm a fool

But I'd rather be weak
Which means that success for me
Is if this podcast only gets one star