Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove on race and family in North Carolina

Yesterday, over 150 social justice activists in North Carolina were arrested at the state legislature building after a civil disobedience protest over a bunch of new laws the NC state government is racing to implement that activists say are going to really hurt the poor in NC. One of the biggest problem areas is education. To share two examples, one bill says that charter schools can hire instructors that don’t have teaching licenses; another one transfers $100 million from public schools to for-profit private schools without subjecting the for-profit schools to the same accountability measures the public schools have like standardized testing. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a leader in the Christian neo-monastic movement who lives in community with the poor in inner-city Durham. On his blog today, he shared an open letter to his kids about why he chose to get arrested yesterday that exemplifies a basic contrast in the two visions for family that we encounter in the church today. Continue reading

Love; don’t profile

I had a disturbing conversation this week with a friend who has a child who’s going through a hard time. Based on what the friend shared about recent communication with school officials and my experience working in the public school system, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to speculate that the school administrators had a meeting Monday morning where they made a list of kids who might do something that would put their school in the news, and then came up with a checklist of things to do with these kids and their parents which included encouraging them to leave the mainstream classroom environment. Obviously this is pure speculation, but I have a hunch something like it is happening at a lot of schools right now, because of the CYA/liability-driven culture that I was a part of as high school teacher. Continue reading

Guns and Bibles? Really?!!

gun and bibleThis photo has been circulating in response to the Connecticut shooting. I don’t disagree that people should know how to use guns safely and read the Bible. Many American Christians think that the word “Biblical” is just a tribal category which refers to people who own guns, love America, and hate public schools. So it would be great for people like that to actually open their Bibles so they can get to know Jesus. This photo offends me because the Bible is serving as a prop. This exactly what the Third Commandment against using the Lord’s name in vain is referring to. Because it has nothing to do with God’s word. It’s a certain kind of white America using God’s word for ideological cover in order to say if we were still in charge, then our kids wouldn’t get shot in school (the slight hiccup of course being that it’s young white men using legally registered guns to do it). I don’t own a gun. I’ve got a lot of friends that do. They’re good people. But please don’t throw guns and Bibles together, because then you confirm the worst stereotype that people have about Christians: that the Bible is what we hide behind while the gun represents who we really are. Jesus deserves better, especially for Christmas.