BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Creation Myths: Christopher Columbus



What we now accept as the true history of the United States in reality is comprised of decades of creation myths. After the American revolution, having separated ourselves from the rich history of Europe (and having sneered at this continent's indigenous histories to the point of annihilation), the newly formed United States found itself without a heritage with which to construct its new civilization. We were left without a history, without heroes or cultural icons. And the void needed to be filled.

As a result, we now have a cultural reliance on several sacred stories of our foundation. We revere the country's holy texts, and ritualistically repeat the essential creeds to our children. The stories of Jamestown, the pilgrims, and Plymouth Rock can be piously recalled. Yet none of the modern tales match the actual reality of our past. James Baldwin notes, "what passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors."

And we have made heroes out of our cruelest ancestors, not the least of which was Christopher Columbus. After first encountering the Arawaks, Columbus realized "with 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." Thus was born America's true founding legacy.

To take advantage of Columbus's 'discovery', Spain declared that "with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us."


The crimes that followed Columbus's landing set the stage for centuries abuse and atrocity, the legacy of which continues today. Much of these works were carried out in the name of Christ. Consider that the first English ship to carry enslaved West Africans to the New World was named JesusFor hundreds of people this was the first encounter with God's Son, He that had come to 'set the captives free,'

Many of us already know that the stories we heard in grade school are myths. But white America perpetuates and clings to them anyway. Why? Perhaps we are too afraid to look straight into the face of our generational sin. White Americans continue to benefit from our ancestors' actions, and it's time we owned up to the implications.

That Columbus is lauded as a hero is shameful and embarrassing. We need to rethink what stories we tell. Begin by watching this video, and consider who and what we celebrate on Columbus Day:


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Friday Fruit (10/06/17)

Black girl in black dress and sweater with gold necklace in front of teal background with light grey text and insigniaOn Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read other perspectives, and for me to give props to the many voices leading the way...


Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Appropriation of Protest

Image result for kaepernick vs trumpI first wrote about 'Taking a Knee' a year ago. That's when Colin Kaepernick began his now famous National anthem protest. He started it to challenge police brutality and racism. Not to make a point about free speech. Not in defiance of Trump.

Now, scores of players, as well as coaches and owners, are taking symbolic postures during the anthem. They're upset that Trump tweeted. They want to express their free speech. They're showing their solidarity. But Kaepernick is still out of a job.

Athletes of color have a long history of political expression, and an equally long history of receiving criticism for it. We want them to entertain us, to serve us, not to challenges us or make us even slightly uncomfortable with the system that put them there.

Abagond observes, "that making it about respect for the flag, or even free speech, draws attention away from what taking the knee is all about: protesting racial inequality and, in particular, police brutality."

Image result for jenner pepsi
And it's not the first time Black expression in the face of oppression has been co-opted by a white narrative. This is the legacy of Black blues, hip hop, fashion, and many other means of voice that were birthed out of a desire to call attention to the lived realities of life as a Black person in the United States.

There is a constant drive in white dominate culture to appropriate, and thus to tame, the expressions of oppressed groups. Indeed, the work of combating injustice itself functions this way. As months protects unfolded after the killings of Michael Brown, there were ongoing calls to “wait for the facts” from many moderate white progressives. Protesters were criticized and marches were deemed a waste of time.

These days, the controversial and “militant” phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is worn as a badge of honor by progressive social justice warriors that want to show they are truly ‘woke.’ Marches take place every week across the country for one cause or another. And now anyone that wants to feel like they're taking a stand...can 'take a knee.'

Image result for ironic protestToo often, people of color take the risk first, finding a new and powerful way to make their voices heard. Too often, white folks respond first with anger and skepticism, followed by dismissal, and ultimately finished by co-opting to the point of ineffectiveness or distraction.

It's not necessarily bad that more people have become aware, or have been willing to join a cause. But what if we didn't wait so long to stand up against injustice? What if, in particular, the Church were at the forefront of movements for justice, instead of limping along in the rear? What if we stood for the causes we were asked to stand for...rather than just appropriating the methods to our own ends?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sanctuary for Edith Espinal

Image may contain: 6 people, people standingThe Church is a place of sanctuary. This legacy goes back to the earliest days of our faith, offering refuge and shelter for those being persecuted. Will God's people offer sanctuary today? 

Edith Espinal has lived in Columbus, OH a long time. Her three children live here too, and two of them are citizens. Four years ago, she applied for asylum but was denied, as were her subsequent appeals. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has given her final notice and she now wears an ankle monitor. On September 18, she faces deportation.

"I don’t want to leave behind my children"

Edith has no criminal record, she's never even gotten a speeding ticket. 

"I'm not a bad person. I've always tried to follow the law"

Columbus faith leaders, spearheaded by Columbus Mennonite Church, are asking ICE "to hear the plea of our neighbor, and join us in keeping her home with her family...We will continue to walk with Edith and her family in hope and prayer until she receives a stay of removal." Without this stay, Edith will be deported. 

How do we as Christians walk in accompaniment with Edith and her family? 
Theirs represents the thousands of other families in similar situations. Afraid of being taken from their home. Afraid of losing their loved ones. Afraid of what comes next.

These are real people. They have faces, they have names. 
Moreover, they are the face of Christ. Will we offer him sanctuary, or will we send him away? 


Luchamos al fin.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dream on Dreamer

The following is adapted from a sermon originally given in honor of  MLK Sunday by Rev. Karen Cook. Today, it is reposted as a word of encouragement to DREAMers who face uncertain futures in these times. We love you, we'll keep fighting for you. Dream on.

He was one of the youngest of Jacob’s twelve sons, Joseph the dreamer.

How many of you dream?  What will it take for us to just let go and dream?  Why do dreams puzzle us?  What make a dream a good dream or a bad dream?  

Dream on Dreamer.   

Joseph had these two dreams and he made the mistake of sharing these dreams with his brothers. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” (Genesis 37:6-7)

I didn’t have brothers or sisters but I can just image with my minds eye some jealousy was rearing its ugly head. How dare Joseph have the audacity share this dream with his brothers, his half brothers at that.  Before Joseph’s brothers could recover from the shock of his first dream he told them about the second dream.  

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Gen. 37:9) Not only did the brothers react but daddy had something to say this time.  “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?”  (Gen. 37:10) 

Dream on Dreamer.

It was on a hot Wednesday, August 28, 1963, that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed for all American and all of the world to hear: 
Image result for mlk
"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood... 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Dream on Dreamer.  

Joseph’s half brother Reuben said, “let’ not kill him; let’s defer him.” Other brothers said, “Let’s sell him into slavery, and file him away in that part of the memory bank labeled deferred and forgotten.  
And we will see what will become of his dreams.”

Joseph’s brothers made a big mistake.  

Joseph tells his brothers about his dreamsThey didn’t know that the Dream-Giver was using what they meant for evil would be used to bring about the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream. They didn’t know that God was using the evil to fortify Joseph and his faith for that moment when Joseph’s own brothers would come to his doorstep begging for bread.  

Because Joseph waited on God, he had been allowed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Because he had trusted the God who gave him this dream; that same God had taken those same dreams that people said couldn’t and wouldn’t never be; and brought them to fulfillment.  That same God had taken those same dreams that folk said he was uppity for dreaming and had no right to dream and turned them into living realities.  I can see Joseph as he looked at his brothers and said, 
“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

What happens when a dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  I’ll tell you what happens. The same God who gave the dream uses those hardships, uses the suffering, uses the pain, uses the obstacles which were meant to destroy God’s servants.  Hear this beloved, God will use it as a means to fortify and strengthen the dreamer.  Beloved, I know it may not feel like it now but hold on dreamer, hold on.

The bible says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

Complentative MLKHis body could be killed but neither Dr. King nor the dream itself could be destroyed because Dr. King had learned to trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of Joseph, the God of his mother and father, the God who had set his soul on fire and told him, “I have set thee a watchman on the wall” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Dr. King learned that in all things God’s grace is still sufficient and God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. (Hebrews 11:34)

Dr. King knew that no matter what people said about him or did to him he could not be discredited with God, who had put on his back the multicolored robe of mercy, redemption, salvation, love, and forgiveness which had been purchased by the blood of Jesus on Calvary’s tree.

What happens when the dreamer is attacked and his or her dream deferred?  If you trust God, he will let you see the fulfillment of your dreams.

Beloved, if God has shown you a book and it says authored by________, yet you don’t have a computer or a laptop, or an iPad, baby write that thing out long hand. 

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has put a song in your heart and a melody in your soul, yet you can’t play a lick, baby write down those words and keep humming that melody.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If you are the best cook this side of Parsons Ave. and you see yourself in your own restaurant, baby keep on cooking.  

Dream on Dreamer.

If God has called you to teach, yet you don’t have a degree don’t let that stop you, teach baby teach. Teach your children, teach your grandchildren, teach in Sunday School, teach a bible study. 

Dream on Dreamer.

There maybe one here today, your dream has been laying dormant for many years. If that is you, today starts your journey of fulfilling your dream. I need somebody to shout…I’m getting my dream back!

Dream on Dreamer!
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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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