Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Honoring God By Honoring Immigrants

Photo Credit: Boss Tweed
One of my favorite bloggers of late is Christena Cleveland. Christena does a great job of bringing a biblically-based perspective to issues that affect the Church such as culture, racial reconciliation and multi-ethnicity. She is currently doing an enlightening series that's named "Beyond Multiethnic" where she is "talking about ways that we can honor the image of God in diverse people."

Matthew Soerens recently offered a guest post on Christena's blog entitled Crossing Borders in the Church: On Embracing Undocumented Immigrants that I think is worth a read.

A highlight:
"Several months ago, I was invited to speak at a large, conservative Southern Baptist church that is, in some ways, a microcosm of American evangelicalism as a whole.  The crowd of several thousand at the first Sunday service was distinctly older and almost entirely white, but at the morning’s second service, the senior pastor removed his tie and delivered exactly the same sermon to an audience that was much more ethnically diverse.  Later that day, under the same roof, the church hosted worship services and Bible studies in Creole, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.  Within that one local church—as is true of the Church as a whole in the United States—coexist native-born U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens, lawfully-present immigrants, and undocumented immigrants, and with them a broad range of views on immigration policy. 
One of the church’s pastors related to me that, the previous week, a young Hispanic man had come forward at the end of the service seeking prayer. He shared, hesitantly, that he was facing deportation. He’d talked to lawyers and tried everything he could to resolve his situation, but it seemed inevitable that he would be separated from his family.  The pastor prayed for God’s provision and, then, as the man turned to leave, added, “We just want you to know how welcome you are at our church.” 
With all due respect,” the man replied, “if people at this church knew I was ‘illegal,’ they would hate me.” 
The pastor assured him that their church—which, to their credit, had done far more than the average congregation to embrace immigrant communities—loved him.  But he went home, he told me, shaken by the man’s comment: what was it about his church that had conveyed to this man that people would despise him if they knew he lacked legal status? 
However, if we consider the rhetoric that some in our society, including some Christians, have used to discuss the topic of illegal immigration, the young immigrant’s conclusion that many of his native-born Christian brothers and sisters might hate him seems quite logical.  When presidential primary candidates compete to see who can be harsher on undocumented immigrants and the TV pundits say they’re doing so to win the “evangelical vote” in the Iowa Caucus, the undocumented within our churches notice. When the church’s parking lot is marked with bumper stickers for a candidate who proposes—to wild applause—the construction of an electrified fence that would kill those who attempt to unlawfully enter the United States, the unintentional message is: “I’d rather you’d be dead than sitting next to me at church.” 
Whenever those associated with Christianity blame the undocumented for the country’s economic trouble (despite nearly unanimous economic data to the contrary), imply that most are criminals or terrorists, or compare them to rats, cockroaches, or any other animal, the message conveyed to the undocumented within our congregations—even if very few would convey such a message directly—is that “God loves you…but we loathe you.” 
Some sobering thoughts to consider.

To read the rest of Matthew's post please click here.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

An Important Life Lesson From Inigo Montoya

You may be familiar with the 1987 cult classic film, "The Princess Bride." Loved as the charming tale of the romantic journey of Westley and Princess Buttercup, the movie is also known for its cast of interesting characters and number of one-liners.

One of the film's most memorable characters, Inigo Montoya (played by actor Mandy Patinkin), delivers perhaps the movie's most famous line: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Patinkin was recently asked about his favorite line of the movie and although he shares the well-known "prepare to die" line, he also offers another more obscure quote that provides insight to an important life lesson. You can watch the clip here.

There you have it from Inigo Montoya himself. Seeking revenge is not what life is all about.

Monday, November 04, 2013

How Do Blind People See Race?

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks
If I person is visually impaired, does that mean they are automatically colorblind? Not necessarily, says law professor Osagie Obasogie.

In an article on NPR.org, Kate Chow writes about what Obasogie discovered after interviewing over 100 individuals that have been blind since birth. His findings challenge some of our assumptions about race being only skin deep and that colorblindness might not be as easy to achieve as it seems.

Chow writes:
"It's easy to understand that the notion of how blind people see race could prompt all sorts of interesting questions about what race means. 
Consider Dave Chappelle's "Blind Supremacy" skit from 2003, in which the comic plays Clayton Bigsby, a blind white supremacist who doesn't know he's black. Bigsby indulges in all sorts of gratuitous hate speech, bashing Latinos, Asians and blacks. He even goes to a KKK meeting dressed in a white robe and hood. Bigsby clearly doesn't know he's black. The joke, of course, is that Bigsby is in fact a member of the very group he so viciously hates. 
"While I think most people find [the Chappelle skit] funny because it seems utterly absurd, there's actually a lot more to it than most people realize in terms of portraying how race can be a polarizing issue in the blind community," says Obasogie. "Blind people aren't any more or less racist than anyone else. Indeed, part of the point of this project is that vision has very little to do with it. What matters are the social practices that train us to see and experience race in certain ways, regardless of whether we are sighted or not." 
Obasogie emphasizes that blind people use a combination of cues to infer someone's race. Together, he believes these cues add up to a kind of visual description, a form of seeing. Put simply, when the color or someone's skin isn't easily detectable, some blind people rely on other cues that help create a visual; cues such as the texture of someone's hair. 
Bruce Sexton, who has been blind since birth, says it's natural for everybody — including the blind — to distinguish a person based on race. "I think that we do categorize and group based on the information that we have ... I come from a very diverse place and I still do group people based on their race, their ethnicity, their religion — anything, everything, really. Their education," Sexton says. "Maybe, as a disabled person, I think of it even more and I try to break free of the stereotypes that come with that grouping.
Obasogie emphasizes "blind people are not uniquely preoccupied with race. Rather, the findings simply draw attention to the fact that race affects everyone's lives and that blind people are not exempt simply because they cannot see. Seeing and experiencing race is a social rather than merely visual phenomenon."
To read the rest of Chow's article please click here.