Love Is the Final Fight

The first Tuesday in August is National Night Out in neighborhoods across urban America. Roadblocks stop traffic on one block or another as old men roll grills into the street and the young fellas gather for a pick-up game. Grandmas put their lawn chairs out on the sidewalk, and little girls skip rope double Dutch until they fall over on the ground laughing. I love these block parties. They’ve been a staple of summer life in Walltown since before we came here in 2003. But I didn’t go to Nat … [Read More...]

Wilson Hartgrove, Jonathan and Dinsmore, Julia

Julia Dinsmore: Singing Freedom’s Song

I led a workshop in Minnesota last week for the good folks at Collegeville Institute. (If you don't know them, check em out here. They're doing great work to support faith-rooted writing in the world.)A highlight of the week was getting to hang out with Julia Dinsmore, freedom singer, medicine story-teller, and great porch sitter of the North country. Grandma Julia, as she's known to the Movement, reminds me of our Grandma Ann here in Durham--of Fannie Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth, Julian of N … [Read More...]


Our Children’s March: What 1963 Can Teach US About the “Border Crisis”

As images of kids at the US/Mexico border continue to feed the 24-hour news cycle, I'm reminded of Birmingham in May of 1963 and the pictures that gripped the nation that spring.What we're calling the "border crisis" is today's Children's March in the struggle for immigrant justice. The real question is not how to "address the crisis" but rather what the faces of these children demand of us as a country?In the history of America's Southern freedom struggle, the Birmingham campaign of 19 … [Read More...]


Malaysia Flight 17: The Wreckage of Broken Promises

While the world mourns the devastating loss of nearly 300 lives and the shock of a commercial airline downed by military weapons over Ukraine, we cannot help by ask, "Why?"Not only why would Russian-backed forces in Ukraine shoot down a civilian plane, but why is Russia grasping for control of Ukraine in the first place?A generation after the so-called end of the cold war, why are Americans once again afraid of the Russians, demonizing its president as a barbarian who rides horseback … [Read More...]


Go to Hell! God’s Gracious Word to American Christians

For every season, there is a message. "Do not be afraid." "Let my people go." "Take up your cross." "I have a dream."In America today, I've come to believe, God's Word for us is, "Go to hell."Unbeknownst to most Americans, our justice system changed radically in the late 20th century. Like most countries in the modern West, roughly one in a thousand Americans were in prison in the early 70s. Today, we incarcerate 1 in 107 Americans. Over 7 million adults are currently in jails, in … [Read More...]


The Kumbaya Moment of Costly Faith: Remembering Freedom Summer

On June 2, 1964, while hundreds of Freedom Summer volunteers were still finishing their training in Oxford, Ohio, three civil rights workers went missing in Neshoba County, Miss.Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary Bob Moses was charged with leading the project that would organize poor, black Mississippians to challenge the power structure of the South and upset the Democratic National Convention.Moses knew from his experience in Mississippi that James Chaney, … [Read More...]

Note to the Church: All People Care About the “Weightier Matters of the Law”

Dear faithful, biblical sisters and brothers who are trying to follow Jesus in this time called America,I write to you during a summer of Supreme Court decisions and annual church meetings when religious news has, once again, become focused on sexuality and contraception (and whether your state legislature or employer should have a say in these matters).As these are deeply personal matters, I understand that people care about them. As they have to do with life and love and our most … [Read More...]


A New Birth of Freedom? Four Ways to Celebrate the 4th

When he was four score and seven years removed from the independence that America celebrates today, President Abraham Lincoln surveyed the landscape of both a battlefield and a nation at war and declared in words that we've not been able to forget that it was time for a "new birth of freedom."150 years later, our wars are scattered all about the globe, but the US seems every bit as fractured as it was in Lincoln's day. Yet, we have nearly a quarter millennium of history to teach us what new … [Read More...]


Dreaming Bigger Dreams

Fifty years ago this summer, as the Civil Rights Bill was signed by President Johnson and hundreds of students worked to organize voters through Freedom Summer in Mississippi, Bob Zellner worked as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Criss-crossing the South, going to jail, surviving beatings, and standing down George Wallace, Bob learned how freedom is a constant struggle. Five decades later, he's still at it, teaching a new generation to trust the gospel of … [Read More...]


10 Questions for the US Supreme Court

1) If corporations get a religious accommodation to deny contraception to their employees, can employees get a religious exception from the taxes withheld to finance unjust wars?2) Given that a corporation’s by-laws do not outline its religious commitment, how is a court to know when a request for accommodation is based on true conviction?3) A conscientious objector must substantiate her claim with documentation of conviction at a time prior to the occasion when said conviction would s … [Read More...]


Struggle for Racial Justice is Local

Since Michelle Alexander published The New Jim Crow in 2010, communities of color across America have been talking about the need to dismantle America's system of mass incarceration. As with the old Jim Crow, the problem is institutionalized racism (not just "a few bad apples," but a system that corrupts the best of people). The language of "law and order" many have replaced "segregation forever," but the result is the same: black men are subject to a system of control that cannot be questioned … [Read More...]

One of the hundreds of small groups SFC has convened over the past decade.

After Ten Years: A School for the World To Come

Ten years ago this month, Rutba House hosted a gathering of intentional Christian communities, scholars, and church leaders to talk about what we saw happening in the world around us and how we sensed the Spirit calling us to respond. In truth, we were a young, upstart community trying to find our way in a tradition that had inspired us, though we didn’t know it well. Thankfully, some elders with real wisdom came to share freely what they’d heard and seen. Over four days, we sketched twelve “mar … [Read More...]