Two pics that got me thinking about white culpability

This, from The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, page 129.  HT to Chris Barna for the sharing this on Facebook.


And this, whom the good folks over at By Their Strange Fruit posted on their Facebook stream.  The pictures were originally posted here.






These two are connected.  I am not completely sure I understand the depths by which these two pictures are connected, or the dynamic shalom activist faithfulness it is compelling me to, but I am working on it.  How would you articulate the depth?


“In House” Discussion: Race, Mutuality and Anabaptist Community

Be the change we need to see

We need to get nitty gritty on racism and Anabaptism.  #MennoNerds on Race, Mutuality and Anabaptist Community is only a few days away.”   The information is below.  Join us.  

“The myth is that we don’t live in a highly racialized and white-controlled society, and that the Church isn’t complicit. But the truth is that race and racism affect all of us,” says Drew Hart, who blogs at

What can Christians do and learn about racism? How do we name, explore, and critique violent systems, and navigate the tensions where we are complicit in racism–to whatever degree? How can the white majority in the North American church live in vulnerable community with persons of color, and how can persons of color be heard in the church? Can we envision change for white majority, white-dominated churches, institutions, schools and seminaries? Where are there examples of Anabaptist communities, bloggers, theologians, and networks modeling a more faithful way?

These questions and others will be explored during a special upcoming livecast panel discussion entitled “Race, Mutuality, and Anabaptist Community” produced by MennoNerds. The diverse range of panelists include Drew Hart, April Yamasaki, Tim Nafziger, Katelin Hansen, and Osheta Moore joined by Tyler Tully in conversation around race, mutuality, and Anabaptist community.

The first production of its kind, “Race, Mutuality, and Anabaptist Community” will include input from its viewing audience using online social media tools of Twitter and Google+. “Race, Mutuality, and Anabaptist Community” is a free event, slated to appear on Thursday, June 12th at 6:30pm CDT at the following link:




MC/Panel Facilitator:


Tyler Tully

Tyler M. Tully (@the_Jesus_event) is an Anabaptist writer, activist, and theologue based out of San Antonio, Texas whose work has been featured in local and national news sources. Proud of his indigenous American and European roots, Tyler is studying post-colonial constructive theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary where he is currently pursuing an M.Div. You can follow his blog The Jesus Event at



Katelin Hansen

Katelin Hansen (@BTSFblog) is the editor of By Their Strange Fruit (BTSF), an online ministry facilitating justice and reconciliation across racial divides for the sake of the Gospel. BTSF explores how Christianity’s often-bungled relationship with race and racism affects modern ministry and justice. Katelin also service as Director of Music at UM Church For All People, a multi-class, multi-racial church in an underprivileged neighborhood of Columbus, OH.


Drew Hart

Drew Hart (@druhart) is a PhD student at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa, studying the intersection of Black theology and Anabaptism. His research is shaped by his own formative experiences within both streams, having been raised in a Black Church and then spending 4 years on the pastoral staff of a multi-racial, urban Anabaptist community after college, and prior to jumping back into graduate school. He is currently a part-time pastor and professor speaking regularly to churches, conferences, and colleges, primarily around the themes of discipleship, ecclesiology, and Christian ethics.


Osheta Moore

Osheta Moore is a stay-at-home mother of two boys (Tyson and TJ) one girl (Trinity), the wife of T. C. Moore (Theo Graff host), a ‘Naked Anabaptist,’ and writer/blogger at She is passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. She likes to take the “T” in Boston and listen to the amazing street performers at every stop.  At the top of her bucket list is to dance in a flash mob, all the better if it’s to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Pharrell’s  “Happy”.


Tim Nafziger

Tim Nafziger is passionate about gathering people with shared values to work together for change in our communities and our world. One such space isChristian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) where he has been part of the support team since 2008. He also blogs for The Mennonite magazine, administrates Young Anabaptist Radicals, designs web sites and does photography. Tim lives with his wife Charletta in the Ojai Valley in southern California where they connect with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries.


April Yamasaki

April Yamasaki (@SacredPauses) is a pastor and writer in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada. She is lead pastor of a congregation that includes people of various backgrounds including Russian-Mennonite, Kenyan, Korean, Vietnamese, and others, still growing into its multi-ethnic and inter-cultural identity. Her latest book is Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal (Herald Press, 2013) and a book of sermons, Ordinary Time with Jesus (CSS Publishing), will be released soon. She blogs at



Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson (@Ryan_LR) is the Digital Development Coordinator at the Canadian Bible Society, working primarily with website design, eBook publishing, and the Bible Journeys devotional framework. He blogs at and maintains the website for MennoNerds.


as white Christian settlers

The truth of the matter is that, as white Christian settlers, we are much more aligned with the Egyptians than the Hebrews/Israelites, since we have benefitted from a history of colonial violence, genocide, deception, exploitation and racism.  We are firmly located among the oppressors, and this sets us fundamentally at odds with the God of the exodus, the liberator of the oppressed.  This God is radically opposed to the brutal concentrations of wealth and power ascribed to the Egyptian regime in the exodus narrative, and, I would infer, opposed to the political and economic hegemony evident in the construction and consolidation of the colonial Canadian state.  In the effort to ensure superiority and domination, Christian settlers have readily enlisted the biblical God among the endorsers of expanding accumulation of political power and material wealth, completely suppressing the understanding of God as Creator and humans as creatures living in harmony and humility with other creatures and the earth, a truth firmly embedded within the sacred traditions of Indigenous culture(s).

Dave Diewert, “White Christian Settlers, the Bible, and (De)colonization” in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, page 134.

The Kingdom is …

The Kingdom is a glimpse of true manhood and womanhood, without fear or stereotypes or abuses from the world. We are the restored image bearers in concert together, all participating, all parts functioning with holy interdependence. It’s trust and laughter and holy risk taking; it’s vocation and work and worship. It’s sharing leadership and responsibility. It’s turning away from the language of hierarchy and power to the posture of servanthood. It’s affirming all the seasons and callings of each other’s lives. It’s speaking out and working and advocating on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters around the world.

Sarah Bessey, “Jesus Feminist” page 165.  

Anabaptist Spirituality is Like a Good Cup of Coffee

Coffee Cupping

This article is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog on Missional Spirituality for the month of February.  MennoNerds is exploring through this event Spirituality through an Anabaptist lens and what it means concerning participation in the mission of God.

One fine evening about a year ago, my wife and I went to a coffee cupping hosted at my father in laws coffee shop in Hope, British Columbia.  A coffee cupping is an event where you taste all sorts of different coffees from all over the world.  Some ‘out of season’ some ‘in season’ and others just pure ‘garbage’ all in an effort to develop a taste palette for coffee.  The process was simple:

  • Someone poured three different types of coffee into three different cups.
  • We had to let the coffee sit for a while.  While the coffee was sitting, the coffee guru would let us know the temperature at which the coffee was brewed, how it was roasted, and where it came from.
  • After we let the coffee sit.  We were instructed to put some coffee in the spoon provided and slurp it into our mouths.
  • The slurping was intentional because it somehow exposed all the ‘taste’ that the coffee had to offer.
  • We were then instructed to swish it around in our mouths acquiring the full flavour of the coffee.
  • While we were swishing the coffee around in our mouths, the coffee guru guy was leading us through the language used in the coffee world to describe what we were tasting.
  • After swishing it around for a while, we would spit it out into another cup, writing down on the paper what we tasted.  As silly as it sounds, it was like a relationship was forming between me and the coffee swishing around in my mouth.  I was getting to know it.  Understanding the nuances of what made it different from other coffee.  Ultimately, I was deciding if I liked it or not.
  • After drinking a little bit of water to get rid of the taste, we would start all over again with another type of coffee.

My caffeine buzz, and the grossness of my “spit cup” increased significantly during the evening.  Yet, a midst the buzz and cup full of coffee and saliva, I found myself shocked at my seemingly new found superpower which enabled me the ability to describe what I was tasting.  It opened up a whole new world of coffee flavour for me.  You see, before this cupping, I used coffee purely as a desperate “keep awake” beverage.  I never really knew the difference between good coffee and bad coffee.  Nor did I care.

At the base of any mountainous venture wherein we decide that participating with God, that is, to embody the pursuit of shalom in each our own particular time and place requires us know where it is we actually find ourselves.  We need to understand it.  We need to know what makes it tick.  We need to know it’s beauty.  We need to know the defining ugliness, and places for redemption.  There are nuances all over each our own localities which are definitive.  A missional, Anabaptist spirituality cannot be separated from the specific people and the specific place.

The daring life of Jesus in 1st century Palestine thrusts upon us an example of locality.  Eugene Peterson famously reminds us that in the message, “Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood.” Jesus was the incarnate, the Son of a shalom seeking God who walked in a particular time, and a particular place.  We, Anabaptists as a people, Jesus centric, shalom seeking in character formed by a God of peace would be remiss if we did not follow the missional impulse of that God into the rhythms of life in our specific place.

There are many good lists, made by many people much smarter than I which are helpful in facilitating a learning, and the “get to know you” of a local context (here is one).  But what I have found to be more important than the core practicalities is this; seek to understand the rhythm of life.  It’s kinda like a good cup of coffee.  A good cup of coffee has lots going for it.  The right temperature in which it is brewed, the proper bean at the right season of the year, the ethical way in which it was produced and bought, all of which craft a rhythm full of different parts which come together as if ordained on the way to brewing an amazing cup.  A cup of coffee which you get to know.  But, just don’t spit it out.  You only do that at coffee cuppings.  And don’t ruin it with cream or sugar.  Keep it black.  Winking smile

So, to understand the rhythm of a context means you don’t always create.  Join.  Be okay with being a guest (another post for later I think), learn from others about where you are all the while being grounded spiritually with a God whom you know gives a “darn” about the place in which you find yourself at that particular moment.  You will begin to understand all the important parts.  You will then find yourself navigating the collision between your local context and the vision God has for… your local context.

So remember.  Anabaptist spirituality is like a good cup of coffee.  It’s a wonder why we don’t serve it for communion.  (*Drops mic, walks away).

How would you describe the rhythm of life in your local context?  How do you like your coffee?

Radical Political Engagement for the Shalom Activist

When I feed the poor they call me a saint, when I ask, ‘Why are they poor?’ they call me a communist. – Dom Helder Camara

It is true.  In the midst of all our charity we sometimes forget to ask the question, ‘why?’ (for another post on this, click here)

Shalom activists pursue the ‘why?’ question relentlessly.  Often times it is messy.  Here is are some good words from Noel Moules that move us into the practicalities of being a shalom activist.

Radical political engagement involves devising plans and schemes that confront concentrations of power in societies that stifle spirituality and humanity; strategies, which are creatively imagined and fearlessly executed and beautiful in their outcome.

  • Politics for the ‘Shalom Activist’ is spiritual work leading to practical outcomes.
  • Politics is about structuring, enabling and empowering community.
  • Politics must involve building cultures of shalom.
  • Politics requires a ferocious love that endeavours to draw difference into dialogue.

This work is costly.  The Quakers call it a ‘Testimony to the Truth’ which leads hem to ‘speak truth to power’.  This creative confrontation has its background in the stories of Hebrew prophets who stood before kings and challenged them, exampling the principle: ‘The one who rebukes boldly makes shalom.’

Noel Moules, “Fingerprints of fire… Footsteps of Peace: A Spiritual Manifesto from a Jesus Perspective” page 54.

How can we be creatively practical in our pursuit of shalom?

In partnership with Forge Canada, Noel Moules will be doing 2 sessions at Emmanuel Mennonite Church here in Abbotsford on Monday June 10th.  If you are in area be sure to check it out!  Click here for more details.