Justice: Spiritual Practices of Activism

This series shares reflections on how activism can be a spiritual practice that roots us in our faith.

(A recent story on CNN depicts the controversy over a statue in Davidson, North Carolina. The statue is located outside of Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, and it renders Jesus Christ as a homeless man lying on a park bench and includes room to sit down beside it. Photo credit here.)

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public”
― Cornel West

I sign up for too much.

Andy and I argue about this weekly if not daily. That I’m doing too much. And of course, it’s compounded by my not making any income to cover the childcare we need sometimes for me to get that “work” done. Sometimes it does seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. But, it doesn’t matter – I keep the course because there’s something bigger than me that compels me to work towards justice, compassion, and bringing God’s kingdom to bear in this world. Those reasons include everything from God or Jesus to my children, and the young people and adults I work with on a regular basis – so much is at stake right now and I have a Gospel-of-Mark (a get-off-your-ass) urgency – that drives me to work as if our lives depend on it.

Our lives actually really do depend on it.

Maybe it’s coincidence or serendipitous Holy-Spirit-blowing, but I keep lately having conversations with people about activism. In seminary I did an independent study with a professor on a theology of activism – I wanted to know the ways people have seamlessly integrated faith and activism. Social justice work – advocating and protecting, feeding and housing, loving and serving and walking along side those on the margins, those displaced, those voiceless and oppressed, and stripped of dignity or life – felt like territory that had been pushed out to the periphery of the church, and I couldn’t help but feel that nagging something-isn’t-right. Reading about the Sanctuary Movement and Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona sparked something for me. It made me seek out and see all the injustices that need the capital-C church to respond by standing in the picket lines and hosting forums and panels and getting out into the neighborhoods and streets, mobilizing and moving people forward in pragmatic ways that express God’s reconciliation and equality in radical ways.

So all the thinking, wondering, talking, and questioning, especially dreaming with like-minded souls made me want to hear more – to connect faith and activism more, or actually, to see that connection that’s already there. To make sense of the ways we work for both justice and love. And, that’s why this is called “spiritual practices” because they are things we do to be intentional about the activism work we do in the world – everything from resistance to advocacy to campaigning to fundraising to tweeting – and what we do sustain and cultivate our faith.

We’ll hear from a variety of writers, pastors, leaders, activists, and artists about the practices they employ to regularly engage in activism for the sake of the higher call to be the neighbor. Come back in June. It’s going to be encouraging and inspiring to say the very least.

“To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.” 
― Cornel West

June 2 Kent McKeever: On Wearing Orange
June 4 Katie Mulligan: On Being Useful
June 6 Emily Maynard: On Listening and Believing
June 9 Ines McBryde: On Worshiping on Earth like Heaven
June 11 Brian Merritt: On Occupying Possibility
June 13 Caris Adel: On Being a Witness
June 16 Daniel Hill: On Considering MLK Jr.
June 18 Christie Popp: On Acts of Loving-Kindness
June 21 Mark Koenig: On Praying for a Girl
June 24 Seth Haines: On Dignity

June 30 Suey Park: On Being A Prophet and Heretic
July 1 Darnell Moore