An Obituary For America 

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IMG_2686An Obituary For America
November 26, 2018

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of America. This past weekend America, at the young old age of 242 years, passed away while launching tear gas at women, children and men seeking asylum on its southern border. For the past two years we have watched America slowly giving up its fight to sustain those long held values which founded a great nation, welcomed us from around the world and forged us into its hopeful dream. Yesterday, while most of us worked on finishing off our Thanksgiving leftovers, America slipped away from us.

America didn’t like to talk about its health problems, but for a few decades now and especially in recent years it had grown frail and thoroughly riddled by resurgent ailments like white supremacy, racism, isolationism and internal gun violence. Treatment was repeatedly refused, usually for economic reasons, and the dark spiral to tear gassing the innocent began. With many months to prepare for the arrival of the asylum seekers with aid, increased federal staff to process their applications, and a clear signal of a recognition of their basic human dignity, America chose instead to send in armed troops and escalate things to a violent confrontation. 

America is survived immediately by a meaner, nastier sibling who on the surface reminds us a little bit of the old America, but is too driven by fear and selfishness to understand the greatness it could achieve. This surviving America no longer allows our lady to stand with torch held high calling the masses to us to help us create and share the cherished American Dream, but she is silenced and mourns quietly, her historic call for the moment stolen and silenced.

But America is also survived by some extended family who haven’t given up hope, who mourn with those gassed at our border and remember when America was a beacon, a dream of what could be. There are some standing in the wake of America’s passing who would not have the deepest promise and founding values of America lost and forgotten. Gifts and honorariums in memory of our dear deceased America are requested in the form of letters, emails and phone calls to your congressional representatives. Ask them to stop the violence on the southern border. Ask them to demand that we recognize the human dignity of those coming to us, and give them a fair and honest chance to seek asylum and refuge with us. Ask them to stand against the fear and the racism that has crippled the American dream. Remind them of who we are. And for America’s sake, vote a better future into existence every chance you get. Thank you.


White Supremacy Is A Criminal Lie

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It’s too easy today for white people to ignore the growing strength of white supremacy in our contemporary culture and political scene in the United States of America. Yes, white supremacy has been in the news because it is resurgent here in the US, right now. Being a white male with no inclinations of supremacy I could easily ignore the whole thing and choose not to participate, but that’s not enough.

As a white male who in my inherent privilege is in no way personally threatened by the criminality of white supremacy I bear an inescapable responsibility to speak loudly and stridently against it. Every white person must accept this responsibility and speak loudly in defense of the truth of the dignity, worth and welcome of our non-white friends, family and neighbors.

Some links about the current swell of white supremacy from…
The New York Times
The Southern Poverty Law Center

White supremacy is evil. White Supremacy is a lie. It is not a mental illness, because it is chosen. It is a crime against humanity. White supremacy is a systematic devaluing of human beings and it must be denounced and disowned.

I do not advocate violence against white supremacists, but I do advocate for us all to speak clearly with grace, compassion and equity for all peoples’ value. Christians must decry the use of our religious symbols, our scriptures, our Christ and our God in white supremacy. Americans must decry the idea that we are lessened by our diversity.

There is no room in Christianity for racial and ethnic discrimination, as there is no room for any other discriminations perpetrated in the name of Christ. There is no room for partiality and bias among the human family. There is no sacrosanct white culture or American culture. I do not interchange Christianity and American Nationalism here as equal or the same, but I use both because White Supremacy dresses itself in the trappings of each, falsely.

Let us never tire of saying it loudly and repeatedly: White supremacy is a criminal lie. Let no lack of courage, conviction or compassion stop our voices.

AMDG, Todd


The Dream of Christ: Our Love for One Another

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Version 2One more blog for today, and then I’m off to get other things done… 

We wrapped up a month’s discussion on diversity this past Sunday at Church in Bethesda by talking about the dream of Jesus, a dream of unity and love. It is so much easier in times of our diversity to express anger, distrust and judgement… but that is exactly when Jesus comes in and starts talking about love.

You know it’s real when we’re busting out the chalkboard on a Sunday morning, huh? Yes, I could have projected something on a screen, but the sound of snapping chalk sticks on a board is so much more gratifying!

A Sunday Bulletin excerpt from this past weekend:

     What does it look like when Jesus dreams? Did he have a dream for us and for humanity that we can see in his life and ministry? It’s not only seen in John’s gospel, but John’s account of Jesus shows us the dream many times… love. He dreamed, and even commanded, that we would love one another, in our humanity, our diversity, our greatness and our brokenness, and in that love we would be one.

     This morning, we gather around a table that is meant to be a reminder of and an exercise of unifying love. This is a table where we put others first, where we discern one another as Christ’s body, where we gather for what our faith tribe has often called a “Love Feast.” If only our love would be always tangible enough to sit with and see on a table and taste with our lips and experience as we experience a filling and satisfying meal. Unifying love is the dream of our Christ. Love is the dream and the prayer of our Lord for us.

Love was the example of Jesus, for all kinds of people from many walks of life. Think of the times in the Gospel of John like when Jesus is found talking to someone of the wrong religion, gender, nationality and ethnicity… John 4. How about the time when Jesus masterfully and nonviolently prevents a stoning and says, “Neither do condemn you”John 8. And when he washed the feet of his disciples, serving and loving them, that included the man to soon betray him… John 13. One of my favorite verses has long been John 13:1, It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Good stuff. Good love.

Love was the command of Jesus, for all kinds of people from many walks of life. Jesus famously instructs us to love our enemies… Matthew 5. Jesus commands his disciples to love as he loved, in service and sincerity… John 13. And who can forget the awesome way Jesus summed up Law and religion: Love God and Love PeopleMatthew 22. In John 13 he not only commands love but says that it is by our loving one another that we will be recognized as his followers.

Love was the prayer of Jesus, for all kinds of people from many walks of life. Jesus not only prayed for a love-bound unity for the disciples in his day, but for all followers who would come later and walk his path… John 17.

Love was the example of Jesus, the command of Jesus and the prayer of Jesus, so we can confidently say: love was the dream of Jesus. When Jesus dreamed, it was of the love we would create among us. That love brings us together, unites us and alerts everyone around that some Jesus-stuff is happening. Let’s embrace the dream and run with it!

Diversity of thought, experience and background are grounds for more love, not less. Diversity among us is grounds for loving deeper, listening better and building bridges… not loving elsewhere, closing ears and burning bridges. Love. Dream on.

AMDG, Todd

October 2015 and Diversity

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“Diversity is not a weakness for faith, but a strength.
Our diversity is not discouraged by scripture, but validated.
Diversity is not disunity, but should help us be a unified whole.”

me in ma beardIt’s October and I’ll be starting a couple of things this month: 1) I’ll start working on my winter beard… and I know it’s never much of a beard, maybe more of a beardlette, but I’ll see what difference another year on the march to manliness means for me, and 2) I’ll be investing the month in writing out my thoughts on diversity as a core element of Christian faith that is too often given short shrift or completely ignored.

Diversity of Faith Expression/Identify

I’m not choosing diversity because it’s a buzz word. I’d like to focus on what our scriptures, especially in the New Testament and the words of Jesus, have to teach us about being different. Too often I’ve heard much more about being the same. In my own lifetime I’ve heard sermon after sermon about conforming to a single ideal, a single belief and a singular expression of faith and church. The church of my youth was devoted to a single refined expression of doctrine and ecclesiology to the exclusion and utter rejection of all deviance from that expression. We fantasized about our ability to come to conclusions and decisions about theological and doctrinal matters outside of personal experience and enculturation, and therein find the single answer to all questions for all people in all times in all places. Today, I’d call that misguided and un-hopeful.

Our scriptures present a different picture of life and faith. The ministry of Jesus showed a diversity of disciples and gifts surrounding Jesus, and times of Jesus himself affirming the existence and authenticity of others. In fact, Jesus often did this over the protests of his disciples who desired exclusivity and personal greatness, uniqueness.

Diversity of Gifts

We have often spoken of diversity in the realm of giftedness and abilities. It’s appropriate when we speak of individual calling and giftedness to recognize our diversity, and we’ll chat about that in October. We just won’t leave our diversity solely to the realm of gifts and abilities.

Diversity of Calling & Being

More than ever we are being challenged to be open and welcoming to differences. We are being asked to be comfortable with our differences. So where and how do we plant our feet solidly in our understanding of faith and scripture and tradition to do that? We’ll be exploring that question through the coming month. My central hope in this month is to show that we are able to be both faithful to God and respectful of one another’s dignity by becoming more open and tuned into the value and strength of our differences.

I’m excited to push back against many misconceptions about people, scripture and faith. I’m hopeful that we can live and worship with a greater love and sincere appreciation for one another, even in our differences. I have come to hold diversity as one of our greatest strengths, one thetas validated by scripture and necessary for us to realize lasting wholeness as a community.

AMDG, Todd