Underneath the glossy, self-congratulatory histories

This book puts forward a simple proposition: it is time – indeed, well beyond time – for white Christians in the United States to reckon with the racism of our past and the willful amnesia of our present. Underneath the glossy, self-congratulatory histories that white Christian churches have written about themselves is a thinly veiled, deeply troubling reality. White Christian churches have not just been complacent; they have not only been complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power in America, they have been responsible for constructing and sustaining a project to protect white supremacy and resist black equality. This project has framed the entire American story. 

From “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity” by Robert P. Jones – Simon & Schuster

The invisible dynamics of the human heart and the visible venues of our lives

The democratic experiment is endless, unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so also is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into community, conflict into the energy of creativity, and tension into an opening toward the common good. We can help keep the experiment alive by repairing and maintaining democracy’s neglected infrastructure, whose two levels are the primary concerns of this book:  the invisible dynamics of the human heart and the visible venues of our lives in which those dynamics are formed.

From “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit” by Parker J. Palmer

The roots of black Lutheranism in America

Jehu would eventually be sent to Philadelphia to be a missionary to the black community there. He founded St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Center City Philadelphia. He bought the land and started to build with his own money. In 1836, the foundation of a truly free black Lutheran church was laid down in this country. This should have been  the start of our Mother Bethel. This foundational piece of black Lutheran history should have carried the proud tradition of black Lutheranism to the center of our church. So what happened?

What happened was the same thing that always happens: white Lutheran leadership. The story of Rev. Jehu Jones is instructive to a church that screams for diversity and can’t seem to understand why it remains so white. In the basement archives of United Lutheran Seminary, you can read Jehu’s own words. He was never paid. He was constantly under financial pressure, with no help from the Pennsylvania ministerium. Our first black pastor in the Lutheran tradition in America was a mission developer sent to start an ethnic-specific ministry to a stressed people in a large city. That should sound very familiar to us. The response Jehu received from his governing ecclesial body was rife with paternalism, fear, and a total lack of cultural competence. After a while, he was viewed as a failed experiment that for the betterment of the rest of the church and its treasury must be shut down. St. Paul’s assets and land were purchased by the Pennsylvania ministerium and sold off for profit. 

Jehu was never paid. These are the roots of black Lutheranism in America – rotted to the core. This reveals us for who we really are systemically racist.

From “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.” by Lenny Duncan – Fortress Press

A choice?

Some people remain convinced that being queer is a choice, an anomaly, a problem to be solved. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Some people argue that queerness is wrong because it is unnatural and not observable in any species on earth. This is false. Homosexual behavior has been documented in more than 450 species. Anthropologists have been studying the issue since 1952 and have found homosexual behaviors in all primates and in every human society they have studied. There are intersex animals, animals with more than two sexes, even animals that change their sex depending on the circumstances. In many ways, human beings are far less queer than other members of the animal kingdom.

The argument that someone is always, from birth, one of two genders simply doesn’t hold up in history, culture, or science. Gender and sex in humans and across the animal kingdom are much more complicated than “male” and “female.” Biology is an essential part of our identities but it certainly isn’t the only part of our being. 

From “Welcoming and Affirming: A Guide to Supporting and Working with LGBTQ+ Christian Youth” by Leigh Finke – Broadleaf Books