We've had many questions about yesterday's chapel, conducted as part of @ccarvalhaes' class, "Extractivism: A Ritual/Liturgical Response." In worship, our community confessed the harm we've done to plants, speaking directly in repentance.
This is a beautiful ritual. /1
We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity's arrogance, our disregard for Creation.
Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right—worthy of honor, thanks and care. /2
We need to unlearn habits of sin and death. And part of that work must be building new bridges to the natural world.
And that means creating new spiritual and intellectual frameworks by which we understand and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share the planet. /3
Jesus' words on the cross resonate vulnerability—millennia later they remain untempered, raw. On Good Friday we remember the crucifixion, its depth of suffering, and reflect on the crucifying realities in which we are complicit.
2. Recent years have made it plain: The U.S./Mexico border is one of the places where, day after day, Christ is crucified before our eyes.
The nails in his hands are reflected in the daily violence and degradation U.S. immigration authorities inflict on vulnerable bodies.
3. The wound in Christ's side stretches along our border, the "herrida abierta" that Gloria Anzaldúa so poignantly names, "where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again."
After the United Methodist Church's decision, the pain in our community was palpable; we knew we had to respond. We could talk about how homophobic theology is damaging. We could condemn bigotry masquerading as God-talk. But that’s not the story we see every day at Union.
We see a vibrant queer, community of faith—alive and flourishing. We see radical love that transcends every sinful boundary humans create. And we thought we’d tell that story instead, in their own voices. #QueerFaith utsnyc.edu/queer-faith/
If you’re growing up in a Church that isn’t affirming;
if you’ve ever been told that who you love or how you identify is sinful;
if you were taught that God rejects you;
if you struggle to fully love yourself—in all of your God-given beauty:
1. Some people have asked why a Christian seminary would say that Christianity is not the only path to salvation. The short answer is that this in no way violates the Christian faith and, moreover, is integral to honoring and respecting our community.
2. For too long, Christians have misread verses like John 14:6 as implying that God is found exclusively through the Christian faith, many going as far as to say that people of other faiths face eternal damnation.
This is an incredibly narrow reading of the text.
3. To box God neatly within the Christian tradition is to reveal a profoundly limited understanding of the divine. Who are we to say that God can't speak to humanity through a multitude of messengers?
This weekend, we received much damnation from fundamentalists over our denial of scriptural inerrancy. It's understandable, because once you relinquish conviction that the Bible is *literally* God's word, faith becomes a messier affair.
2. It's easier to simply believe that the Bible is a plain record of the divine, that it clearly and concisely states what Christians should believe. In a world that feels so chaotic, biblical infallibility can provide distinct comfort.
But comfort and truth aren't synonymous.
3. The truth is that the biblical books were written by humans. They represent the fruits of people grappling with God, and what it means to be human, for centuries—in all the complexity those questions necessarily entail.
Misguided sociological, psychological and political theories have long fostered biblical misinterpretation. We wish to address untruths this document proclaims: Any treatise that says social justice is incidental to the gospel badly misunderstands both. statementonsocialjustice.com
While divinely inspired, we deny the Bible is inerrant or infallible. It was written by men over centuries and thus reflects both God's truth and human sin & prejudice. We affirm that biblical scholarship and critical theory help us discern which messages are God's.
II. Imago Dei
We affirm that God created every person in God's own image. Accordingly, we deny that vitriol directed towards people because of how God made them (i.e. sexual orientation or gender identity) is in any way faithful, biblical or godly.
2. Jack Jones, for example, says it's difficult to support a president who had an affair with a porn star. Terry Drew admits reservations about how Trump "boasted about grabbing women's crotches." Suzette finds him "abrasive." Brett Green disliked his "shithole nations" remark.
3. Now, this is all deeply sinful behavior and the members of Luverne's First Baptist Church are right to feel it contradicts Christ's message. However, decades of theology framing sin as an interpersonal affair leaves them blind to this presidency's other sins.
1. It's the #FourthofJuly, and there's perhaps no better time to discuss Christian nationalism. So, let's talk.
2. Though this sinful confluence is particularly pronounced today, the truth is that broad swathes of American Christianity have united worship of God and empire. While extreme patriotism is already idolotrous, many Christians take spiritual allegiance even further.
3. This is quite vivid in churches that proudly display the American flag in their sanctuary, flying high over Bibles and baptismal fonts. Some even recite the pledge of allegiance during worship, swearing fealty to country in a place that ought to be reserved for the divine.
2. In Genesis, we read that God created humanity in God's own image. Scripture is clear: Each of us carry within us the divine spark, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has pronounced this Creation "good."
3. From both science and folks' lived experience, we know that gender identity and sexual orientation are not incidental aspects of our being. They are not choices—they sit at the core of our humanity.
1. It is altogether fitting that a memorial to the thousands of lynched black Americans should open the same week as Rev. Dr. James H. Cone's death; no theologian did more to condemn these atrocities—to expose in their deaths Christ's own crucified body. nytimes.com/2018/04/25/us/…
2. As Cone wrote in his 2011 masterpiece, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, "The conspicuous absence of the lynching tree in American theological discourse and preaching is profoundly revealing, especially since the crucifixion was clearly a first-century lynching.”
3. He didn't just name lynching as modern crucifixion, though. Cone also condemned the white joy that accompanied the Jim Crow-era killing of black people—and tied it to white Americans' appalling silence when faced with present state-sanctioned murder of their black siblings.
"Between 1880 to 1940, white Christians lynched nearly five thousand black men & women in a manner with obvious echoes of the Roman crucifixion of Jesus. Yet these 'Christians' did not see the irony or contradiction in their actions.”- James H. Cone, The Cross & The Lynching Tree
2. Just as Cone notes, "The conspicuous absence of the lynching tree in American theological discourse and preaching is profoundly revealing," so too is theological condemnation of racist police shootings also conspicuously missing—particularly in white churches.
3. But here's the truth: You can't talk about #GoodFriday with any kind of moral relevance—any understanding of how Christ's crucifixion occurs all around us—without discussing police shootings, without condemning the murder of black bodies by agents of the state.