Beyond the Boundaries of Speech

Can I avoid politics?

Probably not. (How can one avoid being political, if trying to follow Jesus?)

When—along with a zillion social media users and abusers—I stumbled onto Watson Mere’s 2017 artwork, “My Brother’s Keeper,” my partisan spidey-senses tingled. Its depiction of Martin Luther King Jr. hushing President Trump was blatantly political. As the website Good explained,

The American-born artist of Haitian descent living in Philadelphia created “My Brother’s Keeper” right before the Women’s March—and Martin Luther King Day—in January.

That would be 2017’s January.

With viral intensity, Mere’s image resurfaced in August of 2017 after the clashes between protestors and white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. For many, it was also a perfect visual for responding to the President’s alleged—and behind “closed doors”—derogatory January 2018 comments regarding other countries. Those countries included Haiti, where Mere’s parents were born and raised.

  • A women’s march, and a cry for equality.
  • A response to protests centered around hate.
  • Anguish over possible inflammatory language.

Mere’s “My Brother’s Keeper, for current American culture and within the real and imagined perceptions of our global neighborhood, is compelling. And simple. And biased. Two powerful people from different eras, with different values. One white, one black. One is the poster child for American exceptionalism and bluster. The other is a poster child for national humility and nonviolence. And, of course, depending on your political bent and personal beliefs, you will view my conclusions about Trump or King as righteous or wrong. Continue reading →

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On Ruth, the Perfect Mother-in-Law

Yesterday, on Sunday January 21, 2018, Ruth Behrend died.

She was my mother-in-law. Jeanie’s Mom. She was, and I shall be completely forthright here, the best mother-in-law ever. Sorry, but however much you have loved and admired your mother-in-law, I got to have #1.

The picture above is from her and Wil’s wedding in June of 1950. The one below is from about a half-century later for their 5oth anniversary. Wil and Ruth are surrounded the most extraordinary gifts that they gave to the world: Char, Jim, Jeanie, and Dan . . . their kids . . . and their kids’ kids. Continue reading →

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Communion: the Sacred and Sensual Meal

In a church I served, several of us arrived early, positioning a couple of bread-making machines throughout the sanctuary. With the batter already inside, they were switched on. We then hurried to other chores to prepare for that Sunday’s communion service.

When worship began, the fragrance of baking bread filled the sanctuary.

Mouth-watering.

Nose-tickling.

I’m guessing there were random stomachs grumbling in the pews. We wanted worshippers eager for communion. We wanted them, young and old, visitors and veteran members, to anticipate the meal. Usually, communion includes a meager portion of a simple drink and a nibble of bread. And yet, the various ways Christians have celebrated communion are reminders of larger-than-life gifts. We gulp forgiveness. We are nourished with renewed life. We recall and claim Jesus’ ministry to all.

However, and whenever, the holy meal is celebrated it is a sensual moment. Taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight are all engaged. Continue reading →

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