Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama, McCain, and the Political Dimensions of Story

This week, my fellow scholars and I fell in love - or at least I did - with Tom Wright's critical realist epistemology. By employing this term, Wright argues that the process of knowing something can be conceptualized as humans conversing with events within the context of story. An example might be in order. In writing this blog, I am not simply aware of typing on an object called a computer. I am, Wright would contend, a "story-telling human" interacting with an object in a "story-laden world" (New Testament and the People of God, 44). Thus, it is as one shaped by stories (e.g. the narratives of Scripture, political headlines, Tom Wright's books), that I sit down to write at my personal computer. And as a story-shaped human, I have believed the advertising stories about the "personal" computer; I store pictures and write journal entries on it - it is mine.

But the question now becomes: what do stories have to do with politics? Everything!

See the rest of this blog at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Church according to Gordon and Mary Cosby

Church according to Gordon and Mary Cosby

Recently I read a Sojourners' interview of Gordon and Mary Cosby. This Washington DC ministry couple struck me as one of the most sho'nuff, effective pastoral teams today. In particular, I gleaned four lessons from reading their interview. I will post the four lessons in succession, one lesson per post. Enjoy!

1. The Inward-Outward Journey

Mr. Cosby remarked that cell groups (small clusters of church members meeting on a regular basis) never turn into mission. While this may not always prove true, many cell groups - at least the ones I have seen - focus exclusively on the inward aspects of prayer, devotional bible reading, and encouraging one's fellow cell group members. This inward focus is necessary - but discipleship is also about the outward journey. Discipleship means deepening the inner life, as well as doing acts of mercy with the poor and pleading the cause of society's vulnerable with our votes and vocations. It also means being willing to follow Jesus into the Samarias of our world. The places where we would rather not go, are precisely the places we must go, I am suggesting, in order to faithfully walk the outward journey of discipleship.

As a child, I immersed myself in Bible study, worship services, and ministry to my peers. This immersion, in turn, set my feet on the inward journey of discipleship. Yet it was not until I likewise immersed myself in service with the poor, and travel experiences that showed me another side of globalization, on another side of the globe in China (I am from Atlanta), that I grasped the outward journey of discipleship.

The inward journey revolves around loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength; the outward journey centers on loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). But the true insight is to realize, as did Gordon and Mary Cosby, that these two journeys are not two seperate walkways, but one path, that peculiar lifestyle that the book of Acts calls the Way.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Citizenship: Invisible Evangelicals' Insight on the Common Good

Evangelical women and minorities, it seems, exist on the muted margins of political discourse in America. If a justice revival is to sweep over America once more, from the suburban megachurch to the urban storefront church, then Christians must pursue a vision of the common good for all -- and not the common good of a few.

The public narratives of the media often chronicle the broadening social concerns of white evangelical males such as Rick Warren and Richard Cizik -- and rightfully so. Their story deserves to be told. But their story is not the only one.

As an African-American summer intern at Sojourners, I labored alongside two African-American women, two Asian women, and four white men and women -- all of whom persistently link spiritual renewal and social justice. To borrow an image from Gabriel Salguero, this technicolor portrait of evangelicals critiques the Alpine storyline, which is the subtle suggestion that only the broadening social concerns of progressive evangelical white males is newsworthy. Meanwhile, the stories of progressive evangelical minorities and women, the stories I heard at Sojourners, remain as invisible as the protagonist of Ralph Ellison's famous novel.

Click here to see the rest of the post at God's Politics

Friday, August 8, 2008

Citizenship: Sick and Tired

''I am sick and tired of being sick and tired''

With beautiful verbal threads, Fannie Lou Hamer clothed the sentiment that drives many a citizen into the public square. A profound refusal to wait for civil rights motivated Ms. Hamer's incessant advocacy on behalf of democracy and black people in Mississippi. In doing so, she said no to apathy and yes to activism. For most of my 22 years, a sense that the world is not as it ought to be characterized my response to social ills.

But as of late I have moved into Fannie Lou territory; I trace my diagnosis to a Sojourners internship that introduced me to Washington politics. It boils my blood to think that it took Congress over a year to pass the housing legislation. Anger arises when I think of the Earned Income Tax Credit marriage penalty that discourages working single parents from marrying an employed spouse. Isn't that utterly ridiculous? What kind of a world do we live in when the government undermines the formation of families, one of the basic units of society?

Worse still, my soul cringes as I recall my callous indifference about hijacked elections in 2000, my failure to vote in 2004, and my very own piece of post-Civil Rights privilege pie. I'm feeling like Fannie yall. I'm sick. This condition, what I have called a holy impatience elsewhere, undergirds my newfound dedication to citizenship. It compels me to participate more actively in democracy and to abstain from the civic apathy of my college years.

Forgive us, O Lord, for our civic apathy and indifference to our suffering neighbors; may we recommit ourselves to doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with you

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Mission

Sex outside of marriage is an accepted reality in chuch and society. Civic engagement in pursuit of the common good-despite the notable surge surrounding the Obama campaign-appears shallow. Flagrant neglect of financial and natural resources characterizes institutions from the public sector to the private. Worse still, the prevailing notion of Christian discipleship encourages believers to decorate their interior lives while the world burns.

Our times call for a renewed dedication to spiritual disciplines with social consequences. Abstinence, I am arguing, can be that discipline. Abstinence is about a community of people saying no--and yes--to certain outcomes. Yes to marriage and committed love. Yes to a political economy animated by justice. Yes to the prudent usage of resources. Yes to education that calls forth God-given purpose and talents. In these areas--relationship, citizenship, stewardship, and discipleship--Foursquare seeks to encourage abstinence through the arts and advocacy.