Originally posted by Melanie S. Morrison on May 26, 2015 on her blog.  A longtime friend and collaborator, Melanie (above) is a white woman passionate about racial justice. She is founder and Executive Director of Allies for Change, a network of anti-oppression educators based in Michigan. For the past 20 years, she has led Doing Our Own Work, an intensive anti-racism program for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting racism and white privilege. She believes it is possible to grow ever more aware of the reality of injustice without surrendering our capacity for compassion, joy, and hope. She is working on a new book with the working title Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Racial Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham.

I cannot turn away or close my eyes to what I beheld on Saturday as I watched the verdict in the Michael Brelo case being rendered by Judge P. O’Donnell in Cleveland. The nearly hour-long justification for exonerating Officer Brelo on all counts was bone chilling to behold. In every respect, it amounted to a judicial justification for state-sanctioned lynching.

I don’t use the word “lynching” metaphorically. I use it because so many characteristics of historical lynching are replicated in this case.  //more 


"What if it were my son?" by Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith

Note:  This post is from   Rev. Susan K. Smith (above) works closely with Ruby Sales, Cheryl Blankenship and the good sisters of "Breaking the Silence on Modern Day Lynching" and the SpiritHouse Project. 


Freddie Gray is dead and nobody seems to know how it happened.

His body has not yet been released to his family. There has been an autopsy – though the results have not been yet released – and another, independent autopsy has been requested by the family.

But meanwhile, Freddie Gray lies dead and nobody seems to know what happened.

It is maddening that, after a week, nobody knows anything. It feels like incompetence and it begs an explanation as to why such incompetence exists. It feels like information is being withheld in an effort to protect the police.

It brings back memories of how the death of Michael Brown was handled.  /more


"A Letter to Randy and Kimberly on the Occasion of the Closing of the Pasadena Peace and Justice Academy," by Ched Myers

Note: Today I received this email from Randy Christopher and Kimberly Medendorp (above): "When the Pasadena Peace & Justice Academy was conceived back in 2008 it was an experiment in hope. Since opening our doors in September, 2009, the experiment has been, in our estimation, an enormous success – a success in every way except one.  We have not been successful in enrolling students to the school.  Based on our projected enrollment of returning students and new students who have made a commitment, we will not have the revenue necessary to further sustain the school.  At this time the board of directors has voted unanimously to suspend operations for the school at the end of May, 2015.  You have both supported and sacrificed to help the school – especially Elaine, our champion of Restorative Justice and Peace & Justice Coordinator extraordinaire!  We hope you can join us at our Graduation and P&JA Closing Ceremony on Saturday, May 23, 5:00 pm..."

Dear Randy and Kimberly:

Words can’t express how sad this news makes us. 

When I think of what will no longer be at PAJA, these lines from Will Campbell’s eulogy come to mind: 


Eastertide Reflection (Mk 15:40-16:2): The Women’s Witness of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Ched Myers

Image above: Mikhail Nesterov “The Empty Tomb,” 1889.

This brief midrash on Mark’s spare but evocative Easter narrative highlights a central aspect that is routinely overlooked.   Let’s begin with the body.  According to Mark, after Jesus’ execution, his body was granted by the Roman procurator Pilate to Joseph, a member of the Judean council that had condemned Jesus.  As described in 15:43-46, this has all the hallmarks of a political move aimed at prohibiting those in Jesus’ community from executing their duties according to Purity and custom, thus further cutting off the new movement and preventing occasion for more protest during the volatile season of Passover (for further exegetical aspects of this passage, see Binding the Strong Man, pp 392ff.      /more


Localize the Liturgy! By Sarah Nolan

Note:  On Maundy Thursday many traditions celebrate the Lord's Supper.  This 2013 reflection by Abundant Table Farm Project colleague Sarah Nolan reminds us that the elements we use have a life and an economy about which should ever be mindful.

Every week, our little house church in Ventura County, CA practices a ritual ceremony, along with millions across the globe, that calls us to touch, taste, smell, see and” re-member” the life and work of a man who equated his body with bread and his blood with wine. Along with these central elements, other powerful symbols such as candles, water, flowers and oils make up these rituals that provide texture and life to the liturgy. 



"I said what our diocese most needed. Then I realized: nobody knew what I meant." By Nurya Parish

Note: This is my appreviation of our friend 's blog post of March 30, 2015, talking about how watershed discipleship relates to the church's missional strategy. 

This Saturday, Episcopalians from greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, gathered with our bishop and staff at St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids for a Bishop’s Town Hall...



Lutheran pastor Kim Erno sends this reflection from Cuernavaca, Mexico about how Golgotha reflects the marginalization of the urban poor and oppressed pushed into the urban peripheries.

We were headed downtown for Saturday comida (midday meal) and were met with large numbers of people walking away from the city center. They were somber and for the most part silent as if they had just witnessed something unpleasant. We rounded a corner and saw people running across the central plaza of Cuernavaca. At about the same time the air carried the acrid scent of tear gas.  //more  


"From Silence to Salaam: A Reflection on Contemplative Peacebuilding" by Weldon Nisly

Note:  Nisly (above) is a retired Mennonite pastor.  He is spending 5 months at the Collegeville Institute of Saint John's Abbey writing stories from pastoral and peace ministry. This is a reflection on his time in Iraq with CPT last fall.  

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest.  Isaiah 62:1

Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.” Luke 19:41f.

Isaiah sees injustice and invokes Jerusalem, refusing to keep silent. Jesus sees Jerusalem and laments our refusal to see what makes peace. Jerusalem, a central and symbolic place whose name embraces peace -- salaam/shalom – embodies violence reverberating around the world.


"On the Edge of the Wilderness": An Ash Wednesday Homily, by Jennifer Henry

Note:  We have also received many requests for this amazing sermon, given at the Ash Wednesday worship service of the Festival of Radical Discipleship, Feb 18, 2015.  Jennifer Henry (above) is the Executive Director of  Kairos Canada

Isaiah 58:1-12, Mark 1: 1-13

You and I, we are standing on the edge of the wilderness with Jesus; you and I, on this first day of Lent, driven by the Spirit; you and I, on this Ash Wednesday, made of earth and water.  Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.  Today, whatever our justice ministry, we are invited, reminded, compelled, driven to enter into the wilderness to confirm our identity, to remember our names, and to reclaim our integrity, finding each other along the way.  //more 


"What is Radical Discipleship?" by Ched Myers

We've received lots of requests to make this available, so below is an excerpt from Ched’s opening comments at the Bartimaeus Kinsler InstituteFestival of Radical Discipleship here in Oak View on Feb 16, 2015. (Above: A surprise appearance of the “Rt. Rev. Arch Squishop of the Ventura River Watershed” at the Carnival performance on Wednesday.)

What this week is really about is to commemorate 40 years of the Radical Discipleship movement.  Radical Discipleship is NOT a dope slogan, or a mobilizing soundbyte, or a hip brand, or an ironic twitter handle.  Hell, these terms aren’t even cool anymore.  “Radical” is a term as unfashionable today as it was trendy in the 1960s.  The notion of “discipleship,” meanwhile, is entirely shrugged off in liberal church circles, and trivialized in conservative ones.  So let me explain why this is the handle of this Festival, why we insist on using the phrase.  The etymology of the term radical (for the Latin radix, "root") is the best reason not to concede it to nostalgia.  If we want to get to the root of anything we must be radical.  No wonder the word has been demonized by our masters and co-opted by marketing hucksters, and no wonder no one in conventional politics dares use the word favorably, much less track any problem to its root.   //more

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