…but on an allegorical (and practical) level, the kingdom of God is…disruptive. Anything else is just church. Anything else is just religion. https://t.co/cw4rjxPXqE
— Chris Cocca (@foodtruckpastor) October 3, 2018
Every major news outlet is reporting that the Trump administration is actively suppressing the findings of a study it commissioned on the economic impact of refugees coming to and living in the United States.
It turns out that over the last 10 years, refugees have added $63 billion (with a b) to the United States economy. That’s a far cry from the “our people first, because asylum seekers are a drain on our resources!” trope that dominates so much conventional wisdom. Clearly the administration wanted a different outcome with this report, something that would instead confirm what many, many people have wrongly intuited for a very long time. But the numbers tell the truth: refugees help make a America great. They always have, and they always will.
Call it the Superman Effect.
I’ve been reading Brian Michael Bendis’ weekly Man of Steel series, which is meant to lay the groundwork for where he’ll take the Superman titles during his newly-begun tenure at DC Comics. Yesterday, I saw some tweets reminding everyone that Superman, that paragon of truth, justice, and the American way, is, himself, a refugee. He may as well also symbolize the outsized contributions refugees have always made to America, especially given the findings of this new report. In fact, he already does. The American way, if it’s anything, is the open embrace of people longing for a better, freer life.
Update: You can read the full report here.
I’m going to say something that might seem counterintuitive. It may also seem like I’m swiping at your political beliefs (regardless of what they are). I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of conservatism, liberalism, or progressivism as we tend to imagine them. I’m just going to make a point about stamina, in this case, the stamina of the progressive agenda as I understand it at the moment.
The greatest threat to progressive stamina right now isn’t from Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell, but from the predictable overreach of a certain set of so-called liberals who remain fundamentally detached from the experience of the American working class.
Overreaching on Roseanne doesn’t build capacity for basic universal income, even though the Connors would likely benefit from Bernie-Sanders-style economic policies. At the same time, I recognize that a progressive focus on class that doesn’t also speak to systemic racism is counterproductive and likewise problematic. That said, it bears repeating: when BLM protestors confronted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries, she “explained” why they were “wrong” about her record, values, and agenda. When BLM protestors confronted Bernie Sanders, he sat down and ceded the stage. He literally gave them a platform. Maybe that’s too nuanced a distinction in an era of increasingly frenzied (if still anemic) values-signaling. Our current discourse is basically like Starbucks: overpriced, no real substance or nutrition, whipped and frothing in the hopes of producing an illusion of value for the sake of profit.
Feel free to discuss.
Note: Since I used Starbucks’ products as a metaphor, I should be very plain and clear: the incident in Philadelphia is all the proof anyone should need that systemic racism is deeply rooted and sinfully thriving. I’ll come back to this later today. Right now, I have to make an inventory run for the truck.
UPDATE: The Roseanne reference was made before the events that resulted in Roseanne Barr losing her television show. Here I’m speaking about earlier criticisms of the initial reboot that seemed misguided and underdeveloped. I don’t retract those concerns, even though Roseanne Barr (not Roseanne Connor) has since said things that have seriously undermined whatever point of view she may have shared with her fictional counterpart.
We tend to think of Hollywood as a place were supposedly liberal or progressive ideas and attitudes happily roost, and from which new mores emanate across the fruited plains like crashing waves. These mores seep into the ground on each coast, but run off the hard, dry acreage of the great American middle.
You’ll allow me some poetic license, but you’ve the heard the story.
Here’s the thing, though.
If Hollywood were sentient, it would be Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood is one of the few American institutions that has been allowed to routinely and for-profit objectify women under the guise of art and progress, all while paying lip-service to equality and fairness.
Our civic and religious institutions have trended over the past 100 years toward gender equality. They’re not there yet in anything resembling absolute terms, but they are empirically progressing. At the same time, Hollywood produces more and more material using the female body to tantalize, a process that necessarily objectifies women and encourages a disposable view of them.
I’m not saying we need Victorian convictions about decency. Those are actually also part of the problem. But it occurred to me in reading about the allegations surrounding James Franco that most sex scenes or instances of female nudity in film probably exist because the directors, writers, producers or whomever else are creeps. How many of those scenes are necessary to the plot and integrity of their respective projects? I’m willing to grant that some are. But, in light of everything we’re learning about powerful people in Hollywood, my gut says the balance are someone’s exercise in wish fulfillment.
It’s ironic that calls for decency typically come from the American middle, and are chaffed at because of those origins. And because, like the Victorians, the American middle is, perhaps, a little too hung up. But Hollywood is hung up even more so. I think that’s obvious now.
anyone who watches Chopped knows our healthcare system is in a crisis, every 3rd chef is like “i’m here to win money for mom’s antibiotics”
— Gabby Noone (@twelveoclocke) September 20, 2017
As a food trucker and a pastor, I know this to be true.
The healthcare system (or lack of one) is bankrupting people all over the country. It’s bankrupting both the working poor and the working middle-class who have become the working poor.
The ACA (Obamacare) helped some people and hurt others. That’s something I also know from experience as a pastor and a food trucker.
The ACA has had a punitive effect on many families. The Republican attempts to replace it so far only seem to punish other sets of people.
Medicare For All seems like a good next step. By 2020, all Democrats running for President will embrace it, and a good portion of the Republican field will offer their own versions of it.
I pray for all who can’t wait that long.
It doesn’t matter that Dr. Tisha Brooks and I share a hometown, or that she, her husband, my wife, and I all graduated from the same college.
What matters is that what she’s saying here.
The Stockley case is egregious. If you’re not a person of color and have had a hard time understanding that Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist or militant operation, and that saying “Black Lives Matter” does not mean saying “Only Black Lives Matter,” I’d be happy to talk with you. You’ll get my perspective as a Christian who also happens to be white.
What Tisha is saying here is vital for such a time as this.
Message from Tisha
Repost from Instagram @phdgirl24
This morning the “not guilty” verdict from the Stokley trial was released here in St. Louis and I got into an unexpected and heated debate with my landlord, who argued that the answer to problems like these is voting and Jesus, but not in his words “being in the streets.” I couldn’t disagree more for 3 reasons: 1) I’m currently writing a paper about activism as spiritual practice; 2) many of the people in my community are voters, Jesus-followers and are protesting in the streets as we speak; and 3) the Jesus I follow was always in the streets (or in the homes) of people who were marginalized, powerless, outcast and alienated from society. To the dismay of those in power, Jesus hung out with, listened to, and stood alongside of the poor, the sick and exiled, prisoners, prostitutes, and “the least of these.” In fact, it was this refusal to align himself with those in power that led to his crucifixion.
We are followers of Jesus because he was radical. We are followers of Jesus because he was a revolutionary. We are followers of Jesus because he has always been clear about where he stands. And though we are not allowed to hang this #blacklivesmatters sign in our window or post it in the front yard, because we do not own the property we stay in, we want to make it clear where we stand. We stand with Jesus, in the streets, in full support of those who are committed to being his hands and feet in this very broken and unjust world.
Activism = Jesus in the Streets.
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