Rather than fight over institutional control I think progressives can do much better if they leave and create something that better resembles God’s Kingdom of love, justice, and compassion. To that end here are the ten things progressives should be doing or questions they should be asking.
I am writing you with an invitation to partner with me as I join a delegation to Palestine and Israel this May. This unique delegation will focus on human rights issues surrounding incarceration and the political persecution of human rights defenders in the larger context of the ongoing and unjust occupation. Not only is this delegation unique because of its focus, but also because of the commitment required of participants to ongoing advocacy work together.
What should be the response of progressives to the attack on Syria? So far, what I have seen is the typical liberal response – prayers and pleas for an end to violence that seem directed at no one in particular and will therefore go unheard and unheeded. We should point out that the response of donald trump and his mindless Republican congressional throng is merely false bravado.
So, now we will be stuck with Neil Gorsuch for a Supreme Court justice. Of course, adopting the “nuclear option” is a dangerous precedent, especially when current Senate Republican leadership has shown so little self-awareness or self-control. But the vote to put Gorsuch on the court is mainly dangerous simply for who Gorsuch is. Gorsuch repeatedly refuses to take into account the context in which legal disputes take place.
Last week Michael Flynn’s lawyers asked for immunity in exchange for his testimony before Congress for any possible crimes he may have committed before he was nudged out of his position as National Security Advisor in the trump administration. So, with donald trump now in favor of immunity for people who seem to be targets of enthusiastic inquisition, then there should likely be more groups of people for whom immunity should be granted.
I was involved in the criminal justice system for almost 10 years. For those 10 years, I probably spent at least one full day a week in Court. It was a parade of human misery and hopelessness in all aspects that was soul numbing to behold. The victims were not going to be made whole and the defendants were not going to receive any rehabilitation that would prevent future offenses. It was a mass churning of humanity for no apparent reason whatsoever except a violation of the law demanded punishment.
When I watch the film the driving theme is whether our lives individually or collectively as a church will be ruled by the passionate pursuit of the mission of the church or whether that will be sacrificed so that the institutional priorities can be maintained. And yes, missional priorities and institutional priorities are not one and the same.
Likewise, we need experts in the United Methodist Church as well, but I am afraid we currently have far too many that demand far too much support. In other words, the UMC is top-heavy and there just simply is not the need for so many “experts;” certainly not so many whose only vocation is to be “experts.”
They are publicly announcing that they are expecting to expand, not reduce, mass incarceration. No interpretation needed. With about 2.5 million people behind behind bars in an era with near historic low crime rates nationally (and most cities still, contrary to alternative facts), this administration signals the intent to put more people behind bars.
Still there remains one last first-week presidential priority that embodies the potentially devastating arrogance and anger of this administration and its Congress. This should be a line in the sand, a red line never to be crossed in this nation: a presidential decree that specifically silences many federal scientists from publication of their research.
While those who care about immigrants and refugees deal with the fallout of the Muslim Ban 2.0, the second attempt by the trump administration to ban Muslim refugees once again gets sold to the American public under the very thin veil of “keeping the country safe.” But to really understand what this is about let’s meet donald trump’s racist all-star team of anti-immigrant strategic counsel.
On Tuesday night trump showed how weak he is as a leader and how weak we are as a nation. A nation that must force it’s will onto others in order to find security and pride is perilously fragile. Nationalism shows a moral and spiritual bankruptcy that will never be filled no matter or how triumphalistic we might become.