Linus was gracious enough to help Charlie Brown out and remind him what Christmas is all about, but what we really need is a Peanuts Advent special, because we’ve forgotten somewhere along the way.
This year, I spent Thanksgiving in New York, visiting my fiance’s sister and seeing the sights. This was my first time in the city, and it was a lot to take in. Unsurprisingly, New York is a far cry from my hometown, the bustling metropolis of Atoka, TN. I, like most Americans, grew up spending my Thanksgiving mornings on the couch, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and it felt a little surreal to be there among the throngs of people watching as the balloons were inflated before the parade. After a while, we made our way toward midtown, and as we walked, we traveled in time.
Last night, a group of men hurled Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden. The attack is supposed to have come in connection to a protest march responding to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. No one was hurt, and so far three men have been arrested. The only people present in the synagogue at the time of the attack were a group of children having a party. Someone noticed a “ball of fire” approaching the building and rushed the children into the basement as security guards called police.
The majority of reporting on this attack has been to brand it as a response to Trump’s decision. I’ve even some takes on Twitter (obviously not official sources, but it just shows that the sentiment is out there) that the people in the synagogue deserved this and more because of what Trump did. For one thing, if you think that anything justifies attempting to burn down a place of worship, especially a place of worship with children cowering terrified in a basement, then there’s really nothing I can say to you. But, further, if you seriously believe this sort of violence is because of Trump, then you just haven’t been paying attention.
I wasn’t going to write anything about this. I figured there was already a flood of articles on all sides of this debate. But, then I decided one more wouldn’t hurt. So, here we go: to kneel or not to kneel
Just for a minute, we’re going to set aside why Kaep and the others are kneeling in the first place, since that’s what most of y’all are already doing anyway. It seems to be an inherent characteristic of whiteness that we try to reframe legitimate protest into whatever we want it to mean, in this case making it an assault on America itself. I wrote a year ago about Kaepernick’s protest, and I stand by what I said then, and I’ll address it again at the end of this. But, first, let’s talk about the flag and the anthem.
The Lost Cause myth never went away. It’s been around since Reconstruction to varying degrees. This was the myth justifying the cause of the Confederacy, with valorization of the men who fought to protect it. It was the construction of an ideal of a South worth fighting for in the face of Northern aggression. It’s the argument that the South didn’t fight for slavery, but for the right of states to make their own decisions for themselves. Full stop.
I recently had the privilege of preaching at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Atlanta for Religious Liberty Sunday. It was a great opportunity to revisit our Baptist heritage fighting for the separation of church and state and religious freedom for everyone, not just Baptists, and how that legacy has been forgotten by so many.
I took a Sociology of Religion final yesterday, but rather than the usual post-exam attempt to purge everything I learned over the semester, I’ve actually just been thinking about Karl Marx a whole lot. I’m sure this is something everybody does, right?
We all know about Marxism and its relationship with religion, or at least we think we do. Communism and socialism are all about atheism and the removal of religion. Billy Graham really rose to national fame by establishing the dualistic relationship between us God-fearing democratic Americans and the godless freedom-hating communists. That quote from Marx about religion as the “opium of the masses” gets bandied about all the time. But, I think we mis-read him a bit.
For those who don’t know, I’ve spent this semester working as a TA for an undergraduate course in American religious history. The professor has been gracious enough to allow me to lecture on occasion, and today was one of those times. We spent last week talking about new trends in religion in the US, with the class reaching the conclusion that it was difficult to say what was and wasn’t a religion. In the back of my head during that class, I was thinking about an episode of a tv show I had seen a few weeks before, but I figured I wouldn’t be able to do anything with it. But, thanks to an unforeseen problem with the syllabus and a learning module that had failed to upload to the Blackboard site, we found ourselves needing new material. So, that’s how I came to spend this afternoon giving a lecture based on a cartoon and a renowned sociologist. Here’s what that looked like.