Originally posted on Daniel Hill's Blog:

courthourse

A bunch of you asked me on FB and Twitter if I’d write a little bit more about the trial yesterday, so here is the more extended version.

I drove down to Murphysborough, IL yesterday (this is their courthouse above) to testify on behalf of a young woman that has been part of our congregation since she was a teenager. It is a case that’s been dragging on since her senior year of college at SIU, and yesterday was the sentencing.

It’s not unusual for me to be in court with one of the younger members of my congregation. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that even the smallest offense can turn into an epic punishment for someone that doesn’t have the luxury of being white.

That reality was on full display yesterday. Usually when I go as a character witness to speak on behalf of someone…

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Guest writer  Camille J. Hallstrom provides a rarely reported glimpse of Ugandan Christian leaders as they have attempted to “inject charity into lawmakers’ understanding” of the issues leading to that country’s recent legislation passed regarding homosexual behavior.  She examines pivotal events in Ugandan history  that greatly inform the culture on this issue, and presents insight into the effects of the involvement of Western rights activists.  

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If Western rights activists wish to actually help conditions in Uganda to improve and not worsen, they must develop cultural sensitivity and humility, seeking dialogue with those on the ground who have a proven track record in pursuing mercy and charity with lawmakers. – CH

As is not uncommon, when the West deals with a different society, it can be culturally insensitive and consequently heavy handed.  Those who deplore the current Ugandan anti-homosexuality legislation must realize that the West’s behavior and tactics have helped to push the law into existence.  Furthermore, those who deplore the legislation should be careful of whom they call enemies, since they may be attacking the very persons who have worked to keep draconian laws from being put on the books. Continue Reading »

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Kyuboem Lee a few years ago while I was attending seminary.  Dr. Lee is the general editor of the Journal of Urban Mission, adjunct professor and lecturer in Urban Mission at Biblical Seminary in Philadelphia. He has served for decades as an urban pastor.

Before I met Kyuboem, I would hear students already acquainted with him call him “Kyu.” I had never heard any more than that of his name, and had never seen his name in print. But with such a moniker, he already carried an air of mystery. To activate my imagination even further, his name was spoken in hushed and reverent tones.

“‘Q’ is on campus…”

To be fair, Kyuboem says with humility that the tone was likely neither hushed nor reverent, but rather full of his students’ “curses and diatribes;” however, I recall the former.

With only a name and his work in urban missions to go on, my overactive mind found it perfectly reasonable to conjure up a mysterious ‘alphabetically-lettered entity of inner-city cool’, aptly named … ‘Q’.

As a Black woman transplanted from Baltimore city, I was sure this ‘Q’ would be a ‘brotha.’

You see, American Black folk have a culture of nicknaming people, and nicknaming them oddly. At times it even seems that the odder the name, the greater the love. In my lifetime, I have known grown folk whose families still call them ‘Mookie’, ‘Boofus’, ‘Babe-boy’, ‘Dodo’ (yes, like the bird), and ‘Oodie’ … and that just scratches the surface. There were silly nicknames, there were descriptive ones, and there were names that were gained through hard times. ‘Q’ certainly had to be one of the latter.

By the time this ‘Q’ materialized to guest lecture in one of my classes, my mind had given him the status of legend. I met him and his lovely wife, and ‘Q’ surprised me by being … Korean.

‘Kyu,’ not ‘Q’.

As in … ‘Kyuboem.’

Naturally, I was reminded yet again of the precarious nature of quick assumptions, and I never spoke to anyone of my mental and cultural gymnastics … until now.

A wonderful thing happened as I got to know Kyu … I found that he is indeed a “brotha”, and one of the highest order; he is a ‘member of the household of faith’ – this man is my brother.

ImageThis week via Twitter, Kyu graciously commented on my recent post, Wishful Thinking: If I were Dennis Rodman:

You continue to find common threads between our peoples. For this I thank you. @kyuboem

Many social media comments make me smile, but few choke me up as this one did. In less than 140 characters, Kyu put his pastoral finger directly on my heart.

For many interested in human rights, be it in raising awareness, developing foreign policy, or in doing humanitarian work, the perspective is not limited to movements within single groups but in examining and anticipating how ‘cultures’ around the world function in an interconnected way. For those “within the household of faith” involved in this work, the connection should be even more profound since we are assured that the historical, spiritual and political circumstances of one member of the body of Christ affect the circumstances of us all.

I am currently sharpening my vision to see intersections, historical similarities and repetitive themes among all of our stories. I have worked in various capacities with international organizations for more than a decade, and though my interests have taken me on a variety of journeys God has never allowed me to wander far from a fascination with the theological, historical and sociological movements of the world. I remain a lover of cultures, and of the Creator’s covenants with them; I remain a lover of the global Body of Christ.

Gradually, as I have learned more about Christ I have found Him robust enough to hold and address my own cultures’ core concerns. I could focus my lens on the confines of my own neighborhood, my city, state, country, ethnicity, gender, or whatever identificational subset of which I happen to be a part. Marvelously though, God has built us with differing scopes of vision and burdens for different works.

There is an abyssal and robust framework of redemption called ‘the Bible’ that has grown out of the fathomless depths of our Creator.  Once I leaned in there to lay down my own people’s concerns, I found that they were not the only ones it could hold. There was room for many more peoples groups and cultures (both broadly and narrowly defined) to discover hope and ultimate meaning in their strategic historical placement.

Learning and sharing about the global perspective of our own inter-connectedness, among other things, is the purpose for this blog, and all of the entries found here.

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International flights always provide the opportunity to gaze through an airplane’s window, lost in thought.

Given this past week’s events of Dennis Rodman’s widely publicized trip to North Korea, I am hoping that as he wings his way home he will take considerable time to think.

For Mr. Rodman, the necessary apologies have been made, and for the duration of his flight he is away from scrutiny. However, he returns home facing a new patina of tarnish on his reputation; once he lands, he must confront the ramifications of playing a modern-day “Marilyn Monroe” to Kim Jong Un’s “John F. Kennedy”.

If I were Rodman gazing out of that window, I would no doubt marvel at my ability to travel to distant lands, and stand among the leaders of nations; as African Americans, this was not always so easy for us to do. Continue Reading »

Heroes are, most often, simple people standing at the intersection of a moment of crisis and pre-established values. -K. A. Ellis

Over the last few days, the story of brave 17-year-old Aitzaz Hasan has broken through the borders of Islamabad and onto the global scene. Echoing Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai’s globally publicized ordeal, Hasan thwarted an assault on his school by a would-be suicide bomber, by chasing the bomber away from the school. Unlike Miss Yousafzai however, Hasan did not survive the attack. As the bomber detonated his weapon of destruction during the chase, Hasan gave his life so that hundreds of his classmates might live.

Each day, heroic acts are committed, and many of their actors will go unsung. Generally speaking, heroes are not glory-seekers. They are, most often, simple people standing at the intersection of a moment of crisis and pre-established values.

What catches our attention with young Hasan is the juxtaposition of the two deaths: one person’s self-destruction that only held significance in yielding the deaths of others, contrasted with a second death, made far more significant by the numbers who survived.

It’s easy to name the true hero in this situation; the one who would die so that others might live, a pattern that those who affirm life cannot deny for its larger significance.

Those of us who believe in the God of Redemption can easily see the echoes of the ultimate sacrifice of life for lives.

The Associated Press gives Hasan’s full story here.

ImageHow does one begin to explain this feeling?

Korean culture has a name for it … they call it Han.

Han. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness in the face of irreversible cultural sorrow; a cold fist that reaches deep into a people’s collective soul, only to pull away having grasped a fistful of emptiness and despair.

Something…  simply…  is…  not…  right. Continue Reading »

A word once spoken can never be taken back…

So goes the old African proverb, wisdom no doubt gleaned from a lesson that was learned the hard way.

Last week, we all watched the train wreck that resulted in Paula Deen’s removal from the Food Network.  While Ms. Deen’s racial slurs were reprehensible and offensive, as her story played out in social and traditional media, I couldn’t help but wonder at the larger movement happening: how swiftly and thoroughly today’s court of public opinion exacts its own pound of flesh.

The deeper problem with Ms. Deen’s story is that the court of public opinion doesn’t exact justice. It cries for vengeance.  I wondered, along with several friends, what would happen if people demanded that we be held responsible for the careless words we’ve spoken in the past?

Continue Reading »

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