Forgiveness and Guts (Part 3)

forgiveness

To begin, it would be helpful to sum up parts one and two and recall the situation that prompted my public working-out of the election results.

Despite my temptation (and others) to completely disregard and reject outright any person or group who voted for Trump, I believe this is not only counterproductive (part of the reason many people have argued that the so-called white working class came out in droves for Trump on election day was precisely because they felt he was hearing their cries and listening to their concerns) but impossible considering that many in my family voted for Trump. The problem cannot simply be erased by ignoring those who disagree with me, or worse. The question I raised was this: how do I, knowing that the people I love and care for voted for someone like Trump, or more worryingly, voted for the policies he proposed, not only work to understand why they did so, but seek to transform the relationship so that we both become better people, citizens, family members, etc. in the process.

So there are two sides to this transformation, one on my side and one on the side of the other.

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Transformation and Embodied Grief (Part 2)

transformation

In my last post I mentioned the predicament I felt I was in after this election. On the one hand, I want to value my family and loved ones who voted for Trump. If one of the many reasons the white working class voted for Trump is because they felt that their voice, their very being, was not valued in our society, then I must show them that they are loved and valued. On the other hand, how do I do that when I cannot agree with or justify their vote for a racist, sexist, and xenophobe?

The issue is complicated further because though they feel like they are the poorest and the most oppressed, reality is often much different than that. But simply telling people who feel devalued and ignored that they are not only not as bad off as they could be, but that they are also racist is probably not a good path to take, for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it simply continues on the path that led to the very predicament I am describing.

While I can understand and sympathize with those who would wash their hands of anyone who supported Trump and everything he stands for,

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Reformation and Affirmation of Being (Part 1)

reformation

I’ve seen a lot of articles in the past week trying to explain why people voted for Trump. Specifically, why the white working class overwhelmingly voted for Trump. And although I don’t feel like I have the expertise to engage these analyses, I wanted to share my thoughts a week after waking up to a president-elect Trump.

As someone who comes from a white, working class family, I can understand the drive behind these articles. Having family members who voted for Trump, I too would like to figure out why – without resorting to personal attacks or scapegoating. And to this end, I sympathize with those many articles trying to explain how Trump won.

However, I cannot leave it there, for a number of reasons. First, any attempt to understand or explain last week’s results is at best speculation. If there is one thing I’ve taken away having spent the past month reading A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, it is that the story of how we got to where we are is much more complicated and nuanced than we are willing to admit. To be able to give an account of how Trump won requires a lot more explanation than most people are able to give or receive.

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Don’t Vote Your Conscience

vote your conscience

I have been reluctant to wade into political waters up until this point. Not because I don’t have strong feelings or opinions one way or the other*, but because it is becoming increasingly difficult to say anything meaningful without succumbing to name-calling or worse. But this is my attempt to try and think through how some of my past reflections on faith and disability might relate to this election season.

Voting My Conscience

For a lot of people I’ve spoken to or interacted with online, voting for a third party candidate is the only reasonable option. After all, they have to vote their conscience. There is no room for compromise when it comes to voting – you must, through the casting of your vote, pick a side. This seems to me to be based more on integrity and allegiance to a certain ideal more than anything else. I resonate with that sentiment – I can be very idealistic at times, too.

There have been others in the past several days who, though once adamant they would never vote for the Republican candidate, have now changed their minds. Why? There have been two reasons as far as I can tell: keeping the Democratic candidate out of office at all costs,

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Rebirth of a Nation: Baptism and Disability

baptism and disability

Should a person with an intellectual disability be denied baptism if they cannot cognitively or rationally understand what it means to confess faith in Jesus? Does this decision affect just the individual, or the whole church?

Two weeks ago I saw an early screening of The Birth of a Nation. While I have many thoughts on the movie as a whole, what I want to discuss is one particular scene. If you want a take on the movie as a whole, I suggest checking out this one.

Spoiler Alert

There were a lot of scenes that aroused some pretty strong emotions. But there was one in particular upon which the entire story (as portrayed in the film) hinged. It also happened to be the scene that caused me to weep uncontrollably.

Nat Turner baptizes a white man in the pond on the plantation where he is enslaved. This particular man was a felon, and the act of a black man baptizing a white man, on his master’s plantation no less, was too much to bear. It was this act, a baptism,

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The Limits of Creation with Debbie Creamer

limits model

Debbie Creamer, Director of Accreditation at the Association of Theological Schools, former interim dean and vice-president for academic affairs at Iliff School of Theology, and author of Disability and Christian Theology joined me for a conversation about her work, our limits as human beings, and why it is important to talk about disability perspectives in the academy and in the pews.  Continue reading “The Limits of Creation with Debbie Creamer” »

The First Will Be Last and the ‘Church of the First’

the first will be last

So the last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:16).

As I mentioned last week, I have a hard time feeling like I belong in the church. Yet, I believe that the only way to really make a difference in the world is through the church.

I also mentioned that part of moving forward is allowing those whom the history of the church has ignored or suppressed to criticize the church. One such criticism comes from my experience of the church as it relates to persons with disabilities, specifically, persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities:

The church has been in the business of keeping the first first, and trying to make the last first, too: the church has become the ‘Church of the First.’

Let me explain. Continue reading “The First Will Be Last and the ‘Church of the First’” »

The Church and Disability History

disability history

Persons with disabilities have a history, but it is too often an untold history. Especially in the church, disability history is silenced, just as many people with disabilities are silenced. Despite this, I believe the church provides the resources necessary for their inclusion and valuation as essential members – if only their history criticizes and challenges the history of the church.  Continue reading “The Church and Disability History” »

People with Disabilities: a Definition

people with disabilities

Last week, a friend shared a local news story from back home about a group of people trying to band together and solve a problem facing their neighborhood. The problem: multiple renters living in the same home in a neighborhood that is only zoned for single-families. The complication: the multiple renters in question are people with disabilities who receive 24/7 care from an agency.

This situation is one familiar to many individuals with disabilities, or families with members with disabilities. Instead of trying to pick apart what is problematic about the neighborhood’s position (there is a lot) I want to try and zoom out and look at the situation as broadly as I can. As Thoreau said,

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

I don’t want to get lost in the weeds, or branches, of this situation, as important as that is. Instead, I want to try and strike at what I see to be the root of the problem. Continue reading “People with Disabilities: a Definition” »

Certain Failure and Certain Promise

Certain Failure and Certain Promise

As I mentioned in my last post, I am working on a Bible study and Sermon on Deuteronomy 28 and 2 Kings 5. In this post, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned through sitting with these texts over the past couple of weeks. Specifically, I will focus on Deuteronomy 28 in this post, and deal with 2 Kings 5 in another.

I have to admit, I didn’t know very much about Deuteronomy or the Hebrew Bible before starting this. Growing up sporadically Christian, the New Testament was emphasized at the expense of everything else. The Hebrew Bible was only relevant as a sign, pointing towards Jesus. So some of what I will be sharing might not come as a surprise to those of you who are more versed in the Hebrew Scriptures. But I was certainly excited and surprised at what I found!

So in no particular order, here is a summary of what I’ve learned about Deuteronomy 28 specifically, and Deuteronomy in general. Continue reading “Certain Failure and Certain Promise” »