The Ethics of False Moral Equivalence

The Ethics of False Moral Equivalence

On April 16th, 1963 the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail. His letter was in response to another letter he had received four day earlier from eight white clergymen from Birmingham, including two Episcopal Bishops, entitled “An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense”.  In their letter to King the clergyman argued that justice takes time and that the peaceful protests in Birmingham were leading to violence and hatred.

“We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.”

“Just as we formerly pointed out that “hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions,” we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.”

In response King sent one of the most important pieces of writing in American history. It is worth a complete read, but the main point I am going to focus on is his direct and personal response to those clergymen. He said

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

He was trying to point out that it is a false argument to equate protesting injustice, with the actual injustice itself. In fact, this argument always allows those who control and are responsible for the injustice to escape from any responsibility. It also allows those who might support the injustice, or who believe for some reason that the injustice is morally justified to find cover for their beliefs. In this instance it is falsely equating the segregation, violence and injustice towards black people, with the inconvenience of peaceful protests.  

How Should We Live?

Each day in our lives we are faced with moral and ethical choices. Our faith is there to be a guide and the teachings of Jesus Christ are meant to show us the Way to live a virtuous and upright life. The consequences of our choices give us opportunities to learn and grow. When we find ourselves falling into the trap of false moral equivalence, that may be just the place we need to look for repentance and  forgiveness. It may be the place where our greatest growth is needed.

Here is an example that many of us have probably faced that might explain the day to day challenges of false moral equivalence.

If you were at a party and your friend got extremely drunk and you gave them their keys and said “Be careful going home”, you will be equally morally responsible for the injuries caused by your friend’s drunk driving. And if, at some point in time, someone who was hurt by your friend came and screamed and yelled at you and called you names and said you were a horrible person for giving your friend their keys, you could not then turn and claim that their anger was as equally as morally wrong as you giving your friend their keys. Could they have expressed themselves better? Who cares! That is not, in any way, the point of the moral and ethical conversation. One person does not get to insulate themselves from ethical responsibility by claiming that their feelings got hurt or that someone was mean to them.
What would Jesus Do?

While these ethical and moral arguments apply across all religious and secular bounds, what should we say as Christians when faced with injustice? We look to Jesus and ask how he dealt with those who may have been slipping into the realms of False Moral Equivalence.

While Jesus gave us the commands to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31), he did not allow either of these expectations to stop him from harsh and biting criticism of those he was seeing act unjustly to those around him. Here are two examples.

First, in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25:31-46,  Jesus literally says that there will be a reckoning with nations being separated like sheep and goats, and the judgement will be based on how we treated “the least of these”.  He literally says “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” Whoa! Those are strong words from the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Love.

Secondly we read the words of the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Luke 6:20-36. Jesus pronounces:

20…‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.

‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

22 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you* on account of the Son of Man.23Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.


But then Jesus continues,

24 ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 ‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.

‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

26 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

Jesus very clearly speaks out against injustice and say that it must stop. My guess is that Jesus might have lost a lot of followers by calling them goats who were going to hell or saying that their current way of life was going to flipped in the afterlife. I’m sure many people were upset and likely claimed that Jesus should have been nicer.

There are many other places where Jesus calls out injustice with language that might be heard for us to hear. Matthew 23 is almost an entire chapter of calling those of power and privilege horrible names including “A brood of vipers”. The point is that it would be absurd for someone to say “Jesus, you calling us goats  is the moral equivalence of us not feeding the poor or caring for the sick. It’s really just as bad and therefore we will not even talk about people being mistreated until we have a conversation about your language. How are you loving your neighbor if you say such terrible things to us?”

Jesus wants each of us to flourish and have abundant life. But Jesus also knows that often times we get twisted in our understanding of how to live ethical, moral and holy lives. We are called back again and again to repentance and renewal.  As we often say, God loves us more than anything the way we are, but loves us too much to let us stay that way.

False moral equivalencies are ways in which we often avoid taking responsibility for our actions by deflecting attention to focus on our own discomfort. That discomfort is about having our shortcomings pointed out. Feeling regret about what we have done, or how we have acted is most times a natural prerequisite to change.

The Good News for us is that God is waiting for our hearts and souls to change with open arms. The God of mercy and forgiveness is waiting for us to hear the cries of injustice and respond with action rather than offense. The God of love and grace wants all people to know the deep and abiding welcome that guides us beyond who we might be, to the one God calls us to be.

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Let’s Be Honest

Just a couple of days ago our esteemed Attorney General Jeffery Beauregard Sessions used Chapter 13 from the Book of Romans to defend separating children from their families at the U.S. Southern border. Many of these families came in search of amnesty, others just for a better life for their family.

The outrage for this use of the bible was deserved and expected. A wide range of theologians, biblical scholars, priests and bishops rightly condemned using the bible in this way. It was refreshing to hear so many voices speaking out against such vile trash. Many folks pointed out that it was pretty simple to view Romans 13 differently by reading the whole thing. Still others quoted Leviticus and other Hebrew scripture about welcoming the stranger.

I obviously agree with those who oppose Jeff Session’s view of the bible, but let’s be honest, it is entirely possible to justify almost any type of atrocity using the bible. Taken as a whole, our Holy Scriptures are pretty messed up and have been used for millennium to hurt people. It was used to condone and encourage slavery, segregation and apartheid. It has been used to condemn to death those who are gay, or even someone who had a tattoo. By and large there has been a lot of damage done with the bible.

Please don’t say “But we’re not all like that”!  I know. But that doesn’t help. Just like it doesn’t help to say to a woman who has bravely spoken her truth in saying #metoo, that not all men are assholes. Or to say to a person of color who has been discriminated against by white people their whole life,  not all white people are bad.  Our scripture, as interpreted through the ages, has created many of the problems that movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter seek to correct. It has also created the problems that have led to thousands of people flocking to our borders and to the laws that keep them out.

Here’s the problem, even those who are religious cannot fight Jeff Sessions, or anyone else, with an appeal to the other side of scripture. We cannot just say, “You say God is mean, we say God is nice”. As a former Southern Baptist I can guarantee that for every verse you can find to not separate families there will be a verse that does. It’s sad, but it’s true.

What we and everyone else should be doing is pointing to international law like the UN Declaration of Human Rights or other non-religious laws that condemn the cruel separation of children from their parents. If we cannot find them, then we need to fight to create them.

As a reminder, slavery was legal, segregation was legal, the holocaust was legal, internment camps were legal, and each and every one of these atrocities used holy scripture to justify itself.  To bring things right up to the present day, it is probably legal for ICE agents to separate kids from their parents. That doesn’t make it right by any means, but if the only things we have to say to fight it is “My interpretation of the bible says you are a bad person for doing that”, then honestly the argument is over before it has begun.

If your faith tells you, as mine does, that cruelty to families is wrong, then do something about it and be prepared to face the consequences. Posting bible verses on social media doesn’t count. Go and lie down on the roads leading to detention centers. Begin non-stop vigils and hunger strikes. Don’t write another damn letter that no one is going to read, go and get arrested at your senator’s office. Create a disruption and cause a disturbance in the name that which is good. Seek to change unjust laws for everyone, even those who have never heard of your faith.

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Ask for Help

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Jesus Christ/ Donald Trump?

What does this even mean?

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How to Be a Real Man

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A Sermon on the Sin of Racism


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Fire has Power

Fire has power

Fire has power Photo Credit Mike Martin of RAW Tools

Yesterday a small group of people came together to participate in an act of holy foolishness. It was a symbolic act meant to continue a conversation about how we have normalized gun violence in our country. For those gathered this was not a political statement, it was a spiritual statement of our Christian faith. We took a weapon designed to kill human beings, an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle,  and turned it into a tool for cultivating and growing food. Our friends Mike and Fred Martin of RAW Tools  

Mike Martin and his father Fred Martin of RAW Tools

Mike Martin and his father Fred Martin of RAW Tools



in Colorado traveled to Portland and brought their skills to create a tool that will be given to the Newtown Action Alliance on the 4th anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. We did not destroy this gun because we thought it would be an effective way to end gun deaths. Although this gun will never be used to kill anyone, it would take almost 1000 years to destroy just the guns in the United States right now using our method. We destroyed this gun to highlight the idolatry with which we worship guns in America.

A transformed AR-15

A transformed AR-15


As those gathered together to follow Jesus Christ we are called to stand for more peace and less war, more care for others and less selfishness, more generosity and less greed, more hope and less violence. We are called to be evangelists for the nonviolent Way of Jesus. Yes we live in a complicated world, yes certain weapons keep us safe as a country, yes there is evil that would harm other people, but we cannot allow the fear of violence keep us from looking for another way. Our actions are meant to wake people out of their complacency around gun violence in our country and open space for new, creative and imaginative ways to live together.

 We are two weeks from the annual celebration of the coming of the Prince of Peace. Christmas is the day we celebrate the coming of God into the world, and in turn a new way of life that compels us to see God in one another.  May each of us understand who we are called to be and live fully into the message of God in Christ. 

There are still many questions about winning the AR-15 and the money used to buy the raffle tickets. Those questions were answered in this blog post a few months ago.


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Christians and Immigration 2016

200048_5121583060_1480_nNote: This reflection was written in 2006 when I was the rector at a small parish called St. Timothy’s in Athens, Alabama. At the time, many people were upset about the number of undocumented immigrants coming into North Alabama to work picking tomatoes. Within a year it was necessary for us to organize a counter protest of the KKK in Athens when they held a rally at City Hall. It is incredibly sad that we are still having the same conversation a decade later. 

This essay is intended to be a theological reflection on scripture dealing not merely with how we are to treat and deal with immigrants but also, more generally, how we as Christians are called to live with all people whether they be from this country or another.

I begin with an important note on Scripture. As Christians, it is our responsibility to take scripture  seriously when we come to ethical issues. Not to quote scripture out of the air and use it as another weapon in debate, but to allow it to enlighten us when we come to difficult problems. Christians are called to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest scripture, both alone and with others, not as a way of finding evidence to backup our already decided notions, but to allow scripture to enter and live inside of us. To allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us and to enlighten what we have read. Too often we come to scripture looking for ammunition to support our own political ends, knowing that we have the right answer and wanting God, through the Bible, to merely confirm what we already believe. It seems as though everyone can quote chapter and verse to support their own politics. Scripture isn’t a tool to be used against one another, it is not a weapon to be used in our squabbles. Through Scripture we are  called beyond Scripture to the faces of our brothers and sisters. It is a prism we look through and ask, how am I to see and live with others, how am I to view the world in light of what I have read? Taking a single verse here or there only it distorts our view.  Scripture is meant to become part of who we are, being read over and over again so that it becomes who we are.  Study and prayer are what make Christians different as we enter the world.

With this in mind I want to share a collection of verses which provide a consistent ethic on the issue of Immigration and many other issues throughout the Bible as to how we are to live with, and treat one another.

The Image of God

We being in the Beginning with the creation of all humankind. Humans were created as a reflection of the divine, “in the image”. Genesis 1:27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. But throughout our history as humans we have disregarded this belief whenever it has become convenient. Our history is full of stories in which one group decided that another group was less than them and therefore could be afforded fewer rights. This has led to the destruction of many of God’s children in body, mind and soul. It is therefore imperative that no matter what our personal political feelings we not fall into dehumanizing language that refers to people as trash or animals, people should be respected as human beings first and all our debate should reflect the humanity of our opponents. We must also resist falling prey to the sins of racism and xenophobia that allow us to dismiss another’s humanity due to the color of their skin or place of birth and treat them differently. We are all created equally in the eyes of God.

The Exodus and Prophets

The history of the Jewish people, and therefore Christianity,  has been influenced by many stories, but none more important than their exodus from Egypt. The release from slavery and exodus is a defining story in the life of Israel. As this story was told and re-told through history, an understanding of justice emerged and was written into the Torah, the first Five Books of Hebrew scripture, and part of our Old Testament. This understanding comes through in Exodus (22:21, 23:9) Leviticus (19:10, 19:33, 25:23) and Deuteronomy (10:18-19, 24:14-19, 27:19). It is a common theme that is summed up In Leviticus 19:33 “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

The Hebrew people understood their responsibility toward those who were aliens to be the same as those who were native-born, because they recalled their treatment by the Egyptians and were determined that others not be treated in the same way. They did not want to become Pharaoh and create slaves of others, they did not want to see widows, orphans and aliens mistreated. On the contrary they felt called by God to show compassion, mercy and hospitality.

This way of seeing the alien was later taken up by many of the Prophets namely Jeremiah (7:6, 22:3) Ezekiel (22:7, 22:29) Zechariah (7:10) and  Malachi (3:5) The Hebrew word translated as “alien” in English is ger, which can also mean stranger or sojourner. These scriptures, and this understanding of the stranger, have important implications for how I feel I am called as a Christian by Jesus to see those around me.

Who is Our Neighbor

To say that Jesus issues a radical call to living with one another would be a great understatement. Over and over in the Gospels Jesus challenges those who would be his disciples to shed their old understanding and see the new things that Jesus was teaching. The view of who was to be considered a neighbor and how disciples were to treat strangers was high on the list of how to walk on the Way.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is asked a question by a lawyer about the greatest commandment, Matthew 22:35-39 reads “…and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   Jesus with this answer is telling not only the lawyer but all those who would  follow him his expectations of how they would treat one another.

This story is also in the Gospel of Luke but rather than leave the story where it ends in Matthew, the story continues with the lawyer continuing to ask Jesus about his answer, the lawyer asks “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answers him with one of the best known stories in the bible, the story of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10

Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Here is what we are left with, the greatest commandment is to love God, the next is to love your neighbor, who is the neighbor, the one who shows mercy. When we show mercy to one another we are being a neighbor. The commandments of Jesus are shown in the scriptures again and again and specifically 1 John 4:20, it reads, “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

But Jesus’ teaching on the neighbor and story of the Good Samaritan are not all he has to say about how we live with one another. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells his disciples the story of the sheep and the goats. This may have more to say than his teachings on loving our neighbor, because he specifically speaks of those we consider outcasts and strangers.

[Jesus said ]“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  

Jesus tells his disciples that they will not know when they have seen him, but tells them specifically that when they welcomed the stranger, the alien, they were in fact welcoming him, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me.” Jesus considers those who are the outcasts, the poor, those who are sick or in prison and those who are the stranger to be his family and tells his followers through this story, that how those family members are treated will be remembered.

Our Baptismal Covenant

As a Christian I believe that through baptism we enter into a covenant with God, that we are forgiven of our sins and that we are sent out to be servants to those in need. In the Episcopal Church we have put this covenant in writing and are asked to enter into a new relationship with God, and with one another, through the sacrament of baptism. At our baptism we are asked a series of questions and the final two are specifically important for us as we reflect on our relationships in God’s family. The first question is  “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself”? Our answer is, “I will, with God’s help”, the second question is “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being”? Again we answer, “I will, with God’s help.” We realize that we cannot do this alone and that we need the Holy Spirit working through us. We do not answer with qualifying statements such as “I will, with God’s help… but only if they are American, or if they are white, or if they are from my neighborhood.” What we are committing to is justice and compassion for all people.

Economic Justice

Up to this point I have been trying to show the importance of treating people with dignity and respect, treating people in a way we would like to be treated. It may fairly be assumed that I have been focused on how we treat immigrants, but this ethic of care is not limited to immigrants. This ethic of care  is as important when we look at how we treat those from our own country in terms of economic justice and fairness. Our country does not, at this time demand that employers provide a living wage for workers. Companies can provide whatever wage they determine, limited only by a non-livable minimum, and this is meant to be part of how the market works. A problem arises when companies ignore even the most basic regulations that attempt to assure workers a certain level of pay. The relationship between employers and low wage workers is one of injustice, exploitation, and wage theft. In many cases people will tolerate exploitation because being exploited in the United States is better than not working at all in their own country.  The Christian response to economic injustice for workers who are citizens becomes an equally important issue that must be dealt with. Immigration issues do not occur in a vacuum, there are human lives at stake.

I do not intend to suggest that issues surrounding immigration reform are easy or that we must ignore legal and economic implications of people from other nations coming to this country, but I do believe that as Christians we have a responsibility to view all people first as human beings, created in the image of, and loved by God. This in turn leads to a desire for the common good of all people not just those who happen to live within certain geographical and political boundaries. As the grandson of two union steel workers, from Birmingham, Alabama,  I understand on a very personal level the difficulties faced by working men and women. But these challenges will not be solved by scapegoating another ethnic or racial group or by treating others as our new servant class to do the work we would rather not do. Issues of economic justice and fair wages for all workers should be dealt with in a way that provides people with a living wage, not just in this country but all over the world.

We must be very careful where politics collide with economic, racial, and ethnic tension. These kinds of tensions have lead to some of the greatest atrocities the world has seen and can quickly go from political disagreement to vigilantism and violence. As Christians we commit ourselves to the betterment of all people through relationships and community.  We must not let our discussions or decisions be based on anxiety or fear as we open our hearts and minds to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us.

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You Can’t Fake Showing Up

14937423_10154058865728061_8572541971744514568_nI was up at 4am this morning. When I am worried or stressed out, this is as long as my eyes will stay closed. It’s better for me to just get out of bed and write or pray or read, but usually I just sit and worry. Some days it’s money, other days it’s the people I serve as a priest. Today it is the ever present worry that I don’t know where I am living or what is happening to the world I thought I knew. It has taken a couple of days to process what I had hoped was a bad reality TV show, but now true reality is setting in.

Just over 15 years ago on September 12th, 2001, I woke up in New York City with a very similar feeling. The day before, men had flown planes into buildings just down the street from where I lived. This had never happened before in the country I knew. The images on TV did not make sense and when the wind blew the acrid smell of burning buildings uptown, through my window, I felt like I was living in a bad dream.  That was my second day of seminary.

This week so far feels like the beginning of a dystopian novel, but as I listen to the voices of my black, brown, latino and LGBTQ friends, as I listen again to the voices of the women around me, I realize that this is the life they have always been living. Because I am a white man I had the luxury to believe in a world that was nicer and more honest than it ever actually was. Because it was nicer and more honest to me. This is why I cannot say, with an confidence to anyone that everything is going to be ok. I honestly do not know what that means anymore.

History’s arc is hard to see when you are in the middle of it. Every day I see people trying to make sense and explain what is happening. Some say let’s wait and see. Maybe we are all just overreacting, our system of checks and balances will make sure things don’t get too out of hand. Each of these statements is a way for mostly white people to get through the day and sleep through the night. It is the voice of privilege. It is the voice of those with the luxury to wait and see. By the time the damage is done for us to see it will be too late. I was once told by my wife that when people show you who they are, you should believe them. There is no need to wait and see what is going to happen, we have already been shown.

As a priest, my first instinct is to return to my faith and holy texts, but today that is hard. Millions of people in the country believe that a Christian God has ordained Donald Trump as our president. They believe that his actions will be those of a divinely appointed leader and that is terrifying. For many people of faith God only works through the winners. Make no mistake that God has found a true believer in our new president.

So rather than wallow in despair I have decided to listen to my friends who say, “I’m sorry but we don’t have time for your self-pity, your despair does your allies no good” “You are a white man in a culture that loves white men, you have work to do!” “Our lives are at stake while you sit at home believe that you can’t change anything” Lastly they say this, “Your life is a stake as well, your soul cannot be free until we are all free.”

So today I put my hope in the God of the brown, refugee savior who lived and died under imperial military occupation. I put my hope in the God of the prophets who preached to those in power and demanded their repentance when they strayed from the path of justice, mercy and peace. I put my trust in the God of the saints and martyrs who throughout history have stood up and spoken out to protect the vulnerable and those without power. I choose to see God in the immigrant and refugee, in the homeless and poor, in the widow, the orphan, the abused, the despised and the outcast, in the prisoner and in all those we hide from our eyes and try not to see. I choose to see God in the face of my enemy, but whom God loves too much to let them stay an enemy.  I choose to believe in the God of reconciliation but to never be reconciled to injustice, oppression or exploitation.

A week ago today I was gathered with over 500 clergy from around the country on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. We marched and sang and listened to speakers, in solidarity with their struggle to protect their water and their land. Of all the things that were said,  one particular quote stood out; “You can fake care, but you cannot fake showing up”

It’s time to show up.

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Love and Hate

First let me say thank you to everyone who has sent us wonderful messages of support over the past 10 days. It has been pretty crazy and it does not seem like this story is losing steam. That’s really fine. Our country needs to talk about guns and violence and we need to find places that reasonable people can share their pain and sadness and explore ideas to decrease the death toll.  I was struck by the juxtaposition of these two experiences. One is an angry phone message with several expletives directed at me. I have gotten many  more positive messages than this, but still. The image is of an email I received from the sister of one of the teachers who died in Sandy Hook. It is hard to face hate with love but we must.


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