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.