Racism: We Still Don’t Get It by Esther Nelson


I was in Las Cruces, New Mexico, this summer for several weeks, spending much of my time unpacking boxes the moving van had delivered while simultaneously trying to create an aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable home.  I also went to the Unitarian Universalist church–twice!  (I haven’t attended church or any other place of worship regularly for decades.)  But, moving is a socially-disruptive experience and church is one place you can connect with individual people as well as with the larger community.  So, I decided to visit the local UU congregation.

Unitarian Universalism has a fairly long and circuitous history in the United States.  It’s roots are in liberal Protestant theology and practice, but the institution has branched out from its roots, seeking to be more “inclusive and diverse.”  Some of the historical background and development of the church can be found on Wikipedia.  As fascinating as this history and development is, I want to focus here on “Black Lives Matter”–a theme the congregation chose to use as it centered its worship on one of the Sundays I attended.
Continue reading “Racism: We Still Don’t Get It by Esther Nelson”

Safety and Vulnerability in a Dangerous and Fertile World: A Meditation on Incarnation

Marcia headshotFeeling safe again is often the healing and elusive aspiration of a person like me.

I have been living with the deep and cellular residuum of sexual trauma for most of my life—over thirty of my going-on forty-six years.

For many years, the grief and shame of losing my innocence cultivated an intense orientation to life’s doing. Safety for me back then was activity, noise, frenetic schedules, and a constant soundtrack to my life that meant I never had to be quiet with myself. Safety was in the predictable metrics of success that I could use to measure my self worth. I never had to stop and admit that I didn’t feel safe, ever.

I got a lot done all those frenetic years and my diligent efforts were affirmed with everything from scholarships to awards to pay raises.

But, trauma does not allow itself to be ignored. It demands attention. Its cellular ghosts haunt their host. They must be acknowledged, sometimes cast out, sometimes befriended, other times adapted or transformed. My trauma is tethered to the violence of a dangerous world, a world that knows no boundaries when it comes to annihilating innocence.

How can I be safe in this kind of world? How can any of us? Continue reading “Safety and Vulnerability in a Dangerous and Fertile World: A Meditation on Incarnation”

To Do Justice for Jordan Davis by Kelly Brown Douglas


Theology is faith seeking understanding.  Faith is that ineffable, intangible spiritual apparatus that keeps us in relationship to a transcendent, infinite god. It is, for Christians, the core of their relationship with the god of Jesus Christ. Yet, as Karen Armstrong and others so often remind, faith is not about loyalty to a certain doctrine, or dogma, or set of beliefs, rather it is about a commitment and engagement in a certain way of “living, and moving and having one’s being” in the world.  As the word faith derives from the Greek word “pistis” it fundamentally signals not a way of thinking about who god is and god’s relationship to us, but a way behaving in light of our belief in and relationship to god.

Christian faith is grounded in the theological claim that god became incarnate in Jesus. Faith, in this regard, is not about an intractable and intolerant assertion of that theological claim; rather, it is about a sincere and consistent commitment to live into the implications of that claim. Put simply, “To keep the faith,” is not about holding onto a certain way of thinking, rather it is about maintaining a certain way of acting. The point of the matter is that for Jesus faith did not signal a preoccupation with belief per se.

When Jesus was calling people to faith, or telling them to have faith, he was not calling them to believe in him or in his divinity, rather he was asking them to be engaged in a particular way of living, to be committed to his mission in the world. Their loyalty, their trust was to be in the way of life which he embodied, a way of life that reflected the presence of god in the world. And so it is in appreciating the meaning of this word faith as Jesus used it, that I come to theological task on this day. Continue reading “To Do Justice for Jordan Davis by Kelly Brown Douglas”

What Does Jesus Have to Do with Whiteness? by Kelly Brown Douglas

Rev.-Dr.-Kelly-Brown-DouglasIt matters that he consistently affirmed, empowered, and befriended those who were the outcast, marginalized, oppressed, and rejected of his day—such as Samaritans and women.

A firestorm has been set off recently concerning the self-assured observations by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly that Santa Claus is white and so too is Jesus. These comments, which were in defiant response to a Slate article “Santa Claus Should Not Be A White Man Any More,” by Alisha Harris, have been spoofed by late night talk shows and satirized across social media. Scholars and others have also weighed in on the matter. All have pointed out that Santa is not real and that Jesus was not white.  The fact of the matter is that Jesus was a Jew born in ancient Israel and St. Nikolaos upon which the make-believe Santa character was based was from ancient Myra. The fact of the matter is that neither Jesus or St. Nikoloas were white; indeed both were likely to have had swarthy complexions. While it is easy to laugh at Kelly’s comments or to simply dismiss them as curiously misguided and ill-informed, they point to something even more significant that is worthy of  discussion —the meaning of whiteness and its theological implications.  And so, I offer some random thoughts for further reflection. Continue reading “What Does Jesus Have to Do with Whiteness? by Kelly Brown Douglas”

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