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The world is spiraling out of control. We are not evolving, but de-evolving. Every day things become more vicious, more divisive, more hopeless.

Here’s where you’re expecting me to say, “Have hope! God is with us!” I am not going to say that.

I’m growing increasingly tired of hearing, “hope and pray that things will improve.” I’m not sure that’s enough. It feels to me as if God is pushing our buttons lately, with a very intentional agenda in mind: What will it take?

What will it take for you to call your senator? What will it take for us to understand that we are all human beings and need to take care of one another? What will it take to stop blaming and start working on solutions? What will it take for us to wake up?

It is all very well and good to hope and pray. In fact, prayer can be powerful action. But there is more to be done, and it starts with making our actions congruent with our beliefs. Do you claim to be a Christian yet don’t care about (or actively work against) the welfare of the poor, the immigrant, those standing on the margins (like the LGBTQ community)? You might want to re-evaluate. Do you hate liberals? Conservatives? Hating is not a Christian value. Spewing that hatred, whether online or at a “rally” is not a Christian activity.

Which is not to say that Christians have a corner on morality; we don’t. And part of God’s wake-up call to us is recognizing that we, in our diversity of faith traditions, are more alike than different, that Sharia law doesn’t hurt me any more than someone keeping kosher does — just follow your own beliefs and be considerate of others’ beliefs. Religion isn’t the enemy; it’s people who misconstrue and misinterpret religion, who forget that God is love — above all else.

I firmly believe that Jesus was a radical. He didn’t come to soothe anybody’s spirits; he came to shake things up. And that’s what God is doing now. God is shaking and shaking us, trying to make us declare exactly who and what we are and what we believe is right and just.

So…are you ready to stand up? If not, what will it take?

One of the trickiest paths to walk as a Christian is that of the social justice movement.  At least it seems that way to me. Christ called on us to address the needs of the prisoner, the orphan and the widow.  Unfortunately injustice is often wrapped up in racism and intolerance.  It may not be comfortable, but don’t assume that those demanding justice are “rewriting” history.  Take a deep breath.  Take a look at events.  Read up on both sides.  And pray.

–SueBE

I love reading all of the PC USA updates on social justice.  Alone, I can only do so much, but working together?  We can do great things all in the name of Him who Loves us all.

Throughout Lent, I’m contemplating bringing myself closer to God’s light and enabling others to see His light more clearly.  What is it that blocks the light? That makes it difficult for others to see?

One of the focuses of my church is social justice.  For people who don’t know what social justice is, it can feel pretty intimidating.  I did a quick search this morning and I’ve found definitions that range from “socialism” to “the capacity to organize with others for a common goal.”  The first is designed to put fear in the “haves” as the contemplate losing their creature comforts to the mass of humanity.  The second?  “Hey, y’all can get together.  Quit fussing.”

Social justice, within the Presbyterian Church anyway, is the idea that no one by virtue of skin color, religion, economic level, position on the rainbow or ethnicity, should be denied access to the resources necessary to live a happy, healthy life. It means speaking out against police brutality as well as environmental destruction.

But what does it have to do with the Coelho quote?  So often we are more willing to work for justice for someone who thinks like we do.  Those people over there?  The people who should be living just like us?  Not so much.

I’ve been thinking about this specific point lately because I’ve been contracted to write a book about the Dakota Access Pipeline.  As so often happens, I’ve got a number of people who are more than willing to make sure that I get the right information in my book.

Apparently there are still “good Indians” and “bad Indians.”  The good ones live off the reservation and are interested in progress and economic development.  Ah, the almighty dollar!   Bad Indians?  Don’t they know that they lost? Why are they being so loud and uncooperative?

Social justice ministry says that they are all people.  God’s people.  They all deserve a say in how they live their lives, where they live their lives and access to clean water.  Even the ones who don’t believe like we believe.  I can have my belief without messing around with theirs and still working for justice.

My belief is my belief.  Your belief is yours.  Social justice? That should be open to us all.

–SueBE

It reads like something out Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Women being imprisoned because they suffered a miscarriage. But in cases that are stranger than fiction, this is actually happening. Right now. In 2015. Since the year 2000, at least 129 women in El Salvador have been put in prison for aggravated homicide due to miscarriage or stillbirth. In El Salvador, this is tantamount to abortion, which is against the law. Not only have these women had to suffer the loss of a child (at grave peril to their own health, in many cases) but separation from their families and other children, all in the name of something completely unlike justice in any guise. Of course, whether or not they even wanted to have a child is a luxury so beyond their choosing as to be ludicrous.

Fortunately, these women have allies. My hat goes off to The Citizen’s Group and Amnesty International (among others), who are working to correct these injustices. They are my new heroes.

But for every new hero, it seems an old one develops feet of clay. Take the case of musician Chrissie Hynde, a woman I used to think of as nothing short of fierce; a strong woman who stood for strong women. Her new autobiography describes how she was assaulted in the 1970s by a biker gang, a trauma that she blames entirely on herself. She is, of course, allowed to feel any way she wants about her own rape, but to then go on to victim-blame (as she does in no uncertain terms) goes against everything I ever thought she was.

It’s been said and said and said: Until there is social justice for all women, everywhere, there is no justice at all. Fortunately, God blesses us with true heroes. And if we cannot find one, we can be one. I have no problem sticking an “F” on my chest (for “feminist”) and striking a championing pose. But what will prove my mettle is how I treat women — and men — on a daily basis. When the going gets tough, may I be made of the sternest stuff on God’s green earth.

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