News, views, notes, and quotes

9 July 2015  •  No. 29

Invocation. Listen, O people of the Way, and take note. Your ancestors were once illegal aliens in the land of Southern Appalachia. Boat people, all of you, undocumented immigrants. Scots-Irish trash; crackers and kaffirs, wetbacks and wops; gooks, goyim, gringos and gypsies. / Strangers we were, with no stake in the Promise; hopeless, helpless, beggarly-born. (Continue reading “Strangers we were,”  by Ken Sehested.)

Hymn of praise. Kate Campbell, “Jesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon,”  Get your own “Jesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon” bumper sticker ($5 postpaid) at  While you’re there, sample the tracks from her fabulous new album, “1000 Pound Machine.”

Good read.How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist: The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston last week.” —Araz Hachadourian, Yes! Magazine

Title Nine this. The men’s 2015 world cup soccer game payment was $576 million, nearly 40 times as much as for women’s $15 million prize. The US men’s team is ranked 27th in the world. The women’s team ranked #1. National Women’s Soccer League salaries range from $6,000 to $30,000. In aggregate, the women make 98.6 less than men. —Mary Pilon, “The World Cup pay gap: What the U.S. and Japan didn’t win in the women’s soccer final”

¶ “In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, the the US House of Representatives epresentatives Appropriations Committee quietly rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the underlying causes of gun violence.” —“Quietly, Congress extends a ban on CDC research on gun violence

The first of 12 Republican Party presidential candidate debates is less than a month away. The field will be culled to the top 10 (of 16 current or probable) candidates based on polling. “A big field does not allow depth of discussion of issues—‘these are debates for the age of Twitter,’ says Princeton political historian Julian Zelizer—and encourages grandstanding and showboating by candidates desperate for attention. ‘My favorite part of the campaign,’ said Patrick Millsaps, Newt Gingerich’s presidential campaign chief in 2012. ‘It’s not great for democracy,’ said Zelizer, ‘but it’s good TV.’” —Rick Hampson, “10-Candidate Debate: Circus, cattle call or not mess?”

Megamouth Donald Trump, currently polling second among Republican candidates, recently had some scurrilous comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants—comments which may force other GOPers to make more substantive policy proposals on the topic of immigration. This fall would be a good time to plan special Christian education programs on the topic. Among the resources you can consider are “Out of the House of Slavery: A Bible study on immigration,” and “Strangers & Aliens: A collection of biblical texts regarding the fate of immigrants.”  Litanies for worship: “Strangers we were,” inspired by Ephesians 2:11-12  and “You shall also love the stranger.”

Mexican artist Dalton Avalos Ramirez created this Donald Trump piñata (at right) as a response to Trump’s bloviations.

Lection for Sunday next. “Come away . . . and rest a while” (Mark 6:31a). See “Steal away,” a litany for worship inspired by Mark 6:30-34.

Hymn of assurance.Steal Away,” Wells College Concert Choir.

How did this association come to be? This area “is populated with too many still singing ‘gimme that old time religion’ and with extreme gun rights advocates believing that every person toting a loaded weapon at all times is best for America.” —letter to the editor, Asheville Citizen-Times

Gimme that REALLY old time religion. “So now the LORD says, "Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16a, b).
        •“But [the unrighteous] said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16c).
        • For “they have become great and rich, they have grown fat and sleek. They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy” (Jeremiah 5:27b-28).
        • “Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place”  (Jeremiah 22:3).

It was a “controversial sermon” earlier this year that got MidAmerica Nazarene University Chaplain Randy Beckum into trouble with his school’s administration. Some in his chapel audience were upset by his suggestion that Christians should take seriously Jesus’ injunction to love one’s enemies and his questions about Christians’ use of violence. The Olathe, Kansas, school’s president issued a statement affirming academic freedom, even when the opinions “may not reflect official policy . . . and our core values.” —Christian Century

Competing text. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the baddest motherf**cker in the valley.” —Jamie Foxx as Marine Staff Sergeant Sykes in the movie “Jarhead,” about “Operation Desert Storm” in 1991 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait

Support our troops! “Members of the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity told ABC News that [former President George W.] Bush charged $100,000 for his 2012 speech at a charity fundraiser for veterans who lost limbs in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. The former president was also given use of a private jet at a cost of $20,000 and former First Lady Laura Bush was paid $50,000 to speak to the group last year.” —CNN

“No one should be surprised, let alone dismayed, that the negotiations [between the US and Cuba] have been tense. After all, 50-plus years of outright hostilities cannot be undone in the course of a few meetings. Both governments are under pressure from factions within their own countries to preserve the status quo.” (Stan Hastey’s “Reflections on changes in US-Cuba relations.” )

¶ “In the two years since the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been at least 94 school shootings, including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings — an average of nearly one a week.” —“Analysis of School Shootings: December 15, 2012 – December 9, 2014,” Everytown for Gun Safety

¶ “More people are killed by 'white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims': 48 vs. 26 since 9/11, according to a study by the New America Foundation. (More comprehensive studies cited in a recent New York Times op-ed show an even greater gap, with 254 killed in far-right violence since 9/11, according to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, compared to 50 killed in jihadist-related terrorism.)
        “But in a piece all about the ‘mismatch between public perceptions and actual cases,’ the entity most charged with making sure these match–the news media–doesn’t get much scrutiny. There is research on this question–such as a study from University of Illinois communications professor Travis Dixon, summarized in the Champaign/Urbana News Gazette.
        “Between 2008 and 2012, about 6 percent of domestic terrorism suspects were Muslim, or about 1 in 17, according to FBI reports. — Jim Naureckas, “That Most Terrorists Aren’t Muslim May ‘Come as a Surprise’—if You Get Your News From Corporate Media”

Speaking of the disconnect between public perception and actual fact, stories of shark attacks on the US east coast have everyone talking. But did you know you’re 20 times more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark? 52 times more, by deer and other mammals? 58 times more, by bees and wasps? And when was the last time you paused, before driving to the market, to ask yourself “Maybe it’s too great a risk (since 33,000 people die in auto accidents each year)?” —Christopher Ingraham, “Chart: The animals that are most likely to kill you this summer

This just in. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation authorizing the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds. Last week the SC Senate easily approved the measure. Following 13 hours of debate that ended shortly after midnight Wednesday, the House followed suit. The flag is scheduled to be lowered at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

¶ “We long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable.”
        These words, from a popular young author in progressive Christian circles, have a certain sophisticated cachet. But I wonder if the import indicates more than a kissing-cousin kinship with the me-and-Jesus piety of evangelical culture—substituting the unfettered mind for the redeemed soul, retaining the elevated self as the center of Redemption’s story.
        So, I asked, what different rendering would I give? Here’s my attempt—which, admittedly, isn’t quite as concise:
        “We long for churches that incubate Spirit-inspired risks, that permit joyful exuberance alongside full-throated grief, that embrace the world’s agony in anticipation of its coming revelry.”
        What about you? How would you express your similar longing? —Ken Sehested

Distracted walking. A 17 June report issued by the National Safety Council (NSC) claims there were an estimated 11,101 injuries reported between 2001 and 2011 as a result of “distracted walking.” The NSC also reports that 1.6 million car crashes occur annually as a result of cell phone use, and one out of every four car accidents in the US is caused by texting while driving. View the short video, “When Texting While Walking Goes Wrong—Funny Accidents and Falls.

Call to the table. “Mexican-American theologian Virgilio Elizondo highlights the importance of fiestas” for people in Latina/o cultures. (‘Elements for a Mexican American Mestizo Christology’ in Jesus in the Hispanic Community). “After recounting the oppression that these people have faced due to unjust systems. . . he describes that fiestas provide an opportunity to celebrate the most valuable elements in their present lives. . . .
        “But fiestas, Elizondo affirms, have also eschatological elements that are prophetic and represent a call to action. While these fiestas may be used in some settings as a sort of drug to pacify the people, a true fiesta is a celebration of a new future in God. ‘In these fiestas, we rise above our daily living experiences of death to experience life beyond death. . . .  Fiesta is a foretaste and experience, even if for a brief moment, of the ultimate accomplishment (eschatological banquet).’”  —Nora O. Lozano, “A Summer of Baptist Fiestas, Baptist News Global

Art (at right) ©Julie Lonneman

Altar call. “There is no one to send, / not a clean hand nor a pure heart / on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us, / a generation comforting ourselves with the notion / that we have come at an awkward time, / that our innocent fathers are all dead as if innocence had ever been / and our children busy and troubled, / and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready / having each of us chosen wrongly, / made a false start, failed, / yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, / and grown exhausted unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. / But there is no one but us. / There never has been. —Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Benediction. “For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn’t know we needed and take us to places where we didn’t want to go.” —Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks:

• “Stranger & Aliens: A collection of biblical texts regarding the fate of immigrants

• “Strangers we were,” a litany for worship inspired by Ephesians 2:11-12

• “You shall also love the stranger,” a litany for worship

• “Out of the House of Slavery: A Bible study on immigration

• “Reflections on changes in US-Cuba Relations” by Stan Hastey

©Ken Sehested @ Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor. Don’t let the “copyright” notice keep you from circulating material you find here (and elsewhere in this site). Reprint permission is hereby granted in advance for noncommercial purposes.

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