A long-time favorite author of mine, Brian Zahnd, is releasing a really important book soon, and I have had the immense honor of designing the cover! The book is called Postcards from Babylon: The Church in American Exile, and it is set to release in January 2019. Stay tuned for more details and fun stuff like a giveaways :)
I wrote a song reflecting on the situation with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am finishing the tracking, mixing, and mastering now, and it is set to be released in March/April of 2017! If all goes as planned, soon thereafter I'll share a B-side cover from the Civil Rights Era catalogue...as these songs are needed again now more than ever.
There's a grievous history of the native peoples in our country that we must face, that we may lament it, and learn to go forward in a new way. Mark Charles, Native American author & activists, paints a picture of that history as it relates to the Christian church, the present political moment, and proposes a pursuit of "racial conciliation." Watch the lecture below. It is worth every minute.
I'm reviving the blog today after much too long of a hiatus for a very specific reason. And a time sensitive one, at that.
I want...no, I don't want to, but I feel the need to talk about the election. I realize that many of you have voted already, and most of the rest of you have already made up your mind about which box to check (button to press?) on November 8, 2016. However, on the chance that anyone is still listening, I have been haunted by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and moved to speak:
"Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
In this very bizarre election season, I believe now that the stakes are too high not to speak, so I'm speaking. The stakes are too high not to act, so I'm acting. I've never been so grateful for my right to vote, nor have I ever taken the responsibility so seriously.
Here's the thing: I'm voting for Hillary.
And I want to talk about why. So, if you haven't exed out of the window or jumped to the comments section to tell me to "get educated," thank you, and can we have a conversation? Now, on one level this seems like such an obvious choice to me that it barely deserves the effort of explaining, but I'm also not living under a rock. It's blatantly obvious that the nature of this election and our citizen response to it points to a complex and frankly disturbing cultural reality that requires deep reflection on our parts, and an attempt at explaining my choice seems warranted.
I'm a registered Independent. I didn't vote for Hillary in the primaries. I don't actually put a whole lot of stock in the American political system. I hate the bipartisan system and would much rather have my vote counted in a 3rd party tally to hopefully put a drop in the bucket of reforming this whole thing...
But Donald Trump is the GOP nominee for President. (And it's not a joke.)
Given the current reality of the 2 party system...
...the best way to prevent a Donald Trump presidency is a vote for Hillary Clinton.
Mathematically, this is the reality. And I could not more emphatically think that it is necessary to protect the people of this country and all the others in the world that would be subject to the harm this sick, dangerous demagogue could no doubt cause. I hate taking this sort of dualistic, oppositional position; it's a mindset I'm trying to grow out of in adulthood. But what else is there to do in this specific instance?
I expect the most push-back I'll receive on all this will come from the many Evangelical and Roman Catholic friends in my online community, and that the push back will largely center around one issue...
...voting for a "pro-choice" candidate.
I understand this a huge deal to many of you (including myself), and to many for legitimate reasons. I also realize that we're living through a time in which the Religious Right has confused Republican Party values with truly Christian (Christ-like) values, and we must clarify the contrast of the two.
So yes, this is a huge deal to me. And before anyone voices concern for my soul on this account, I must tell you genuinely:
I am more "pro-life" than I have ever been.
And hopefully always growing to be more so. But pro-life in a holistic sense. Yes, still pro-birth, but also pro- the conditions that are most conducive to a life of thriving for the society into which a child is born. The political position of "pro-life" has long since not actually been pro-life, but more accurately anti-abortion or pro-birth, with little emphasis on improving the cultural realities that lead most women and families to have to make the unimaginably painful decision of aborting a pregnancy.
A consistent ethic of valuing life (human life and that of the rest of the natural world) is what is needed.
No, neither of the 2 major parties in the US offer this consistent ethic of life entirely. Nor does either offer a platform built firmly on Christian values, and they don't need to. The US government is not a Christian government, never was, and never will be. It is an Empire, the very political entity that Jesus opposed, called us to counter, and that ultimately took his life.
But we are by nature of where we live citizens of the Empire too. We can though (while not putting our hope in the system or tying up God and country in an idolatrous Christian nationalism) still vote through the lens of our faith and the ethics derived from it, which is what I am trying to do. And at this time, in this election, in 2016, I am convinced that the DNC works for policy that stems from a more consistent ethic of valuing life....which is the most foundational value I have learned from my Christian faith. Yes, I grieve taking the life of unborn children, and I no less grieve taking the life of an adult.
To value life...Not only life for the unborn, but also life for the mothers who would bear them and the fathers by whom they could be loved. Life for the soldiers and innocent civilians in an over-militarized world. Life for those unnecessarily shot and killed when guns are too loosely regulated. Life (because it matters and is still glaringly hard to come by) for blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and other minority races in this country. Life without fear for Muslims and people of all religions. Life for the refugee seeking shelter from the brutality of war. Life for our LGBTQ friends and family members who have made so much important progress in the last 4 years. Life for those in inhumane prison conditions and sentenced to be killed to teach us that killing is wrong. (What?) Life for the immigrant trying to make a better life for their family, like almost all our families once did by settling in America. Life for these refugees and migrants who are escaping countries with dire economic conditions often caused by US foreign policy in the first place. Life for my countless friends and family members (and myself) who only have access to healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act. Life for women yet to receive equal pay in the workplace. Life for parents and children lacking adequate maternity/paternity leave time or affordable childcare. Life for the millions still living in poverty in the high-crime rate, low income food deserts of our cities. Life for the brilliant kid who has a mind that could change our world for the better, but can't afford a decent education. Life for the beautiful people with mental and physical disabilities that need access to better resources and integration into society at large. And honestly, life for the billionaires and those at the top that perpetuate the growing gap between rich and poor who will at some point learn that money and power are not actually viable ways to avoid suffering. And life for all of us who fall in the dizzying gaps between these extremes. Life, life, real life for all.
I don't claim that any government or any president is the savior that can grant this sort of life. I only claim that I must vote within a broken system in such a way that at least makes movement towards this sort of life possible for the most people.
And let's be real. Trump has said he'll appoint "pro-life" Supreme Court justices, but truth telling and knowledge of policy have not been hallmarks of his campaign (or life) up to this point. So would that even happen? I don't know. But I think it's risky to support him on this account and ignore the countless other immoralities, abuses, and pathologies that he would bring with him into office.
(Please read "So You're Thinking of Voting for a Pro-Choice Candidate" by Rachel Held Evans for a much more in depth and thorough take on all this.)
Now, if you are a pro-Trump Christian on grounds other than the "pro-life" issue, I must ask:
"How you can claim God’s love for kids with special needs while supporting a man who openly mocks people with disabilities,
How you can oppose sexual immorality while shrugging off the transgressions of a strip club owner who brags about his sexual exploits and extramarital affairs and who publicly sexualized both of his daughters,
How you can make grand announcements about your efforts to move toward racial reconciliation while working to elect as president a man people in his own party acknowledge is racist, and who is widely supported by white supremacist groups,
How you can appeal to “religious liberty” to justify denying wedding cakes to gay and lesbian couples without challenging a candidate who wants to increase surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods, create a database of Muslim citizens, and ban Muslims from visiting the U.S., which would suggest the only “religious liberty” you want to protect is your own,
How you can claim your conservative views on women’s roles aren’t anti-woman while supporting a misogynist who says he likes to have a “young and beautiful piece of ass” on his arm, calls women “bimbos” and “fat pigs,” and distributed unflattering pictures of a political opponent’s wife as a campaign tactic,
How you can claim it’s unfair to characterize evangelicals as anti-intellectual while following a man who believes conspiracy theories from the National Enquirer, thinks climate change is a hoax, says vaccines cause autism, and displays such breathtaking ignorance regarding the state of the world and foreign policy that no former presidents will endorse him and multiple generals, foreign policy experts, editorial boards, and heads of state have denounced him as dangerously uninformed,
How you can quote Bible verses about “welcoming the stranger” while supporting a candidate who wants to turn away desperate refugee families,
How you can call yourself “family values” voters while supporting Trump’s mass deportation, which would orphan or displace 4.5 million children who are U.S. citizens but who have at least one parent who is an undocumented immigrant,
How you can claim it’s a “morally good choice” to elect a president who wants to bring back waterboarding and other forms of torture, who wants to target the families of terrorists because “that’s what they do to us,” and who admires the tactics of Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein"
(The above list is an excerpt by Rachel Held Evans, "So You're Thinking of Voting for a Pro-Choice Candidate" , August 2, 2016)
And finally, I'll ask not only how could you claim things and support this candidate? But also, how could you not do everything you can (with your vote and conversation) to protect us from him?
But none of this does justice to the real credentials that Hillary Clinton has worked to earn that rightly qualify her to be president of the US, regardless of who she's running against. No, she's not perfect, as no politician (or human) has ever been or will be in the future. And I'm honored to cast my vote to elect a "qualified and prepared" candidate, who just so happens to be the first woman in this position, for the presidency of the United States...a place of power desperately in need of some feminine energy and wisdom.