Ervin Stutzman’s last day as executive director of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) is April 30. I would like to thank him for his years […]
Joanne Gallardo is pastor of faith formation at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana.
1. The Read Harder Challenge: I was given a New Year’s challenge by a friend to help me get out of my usual “reading” routine, which consistently involves reading theology, self-help and extremely sad books. Book Riot has come up with their 2018 “Read Harder” challenge. Included are challenges to read westerns, graphic novels, books with a protagonist over 60, romances by people of color and so on. If you’ve found yourself in a book rut, this challenge is for you: https://bookriot.com/2017/12/15/book-riots-2018-read-harder-challenge/
2. In Real Life: On the subject of reading, I have found myself in recent years “shunning” graphic novels. I have tended to forgo them in favor of “real” books. But I was recently delighted by the graphic novel, “In Real Life,” by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. The story follows a female gamer, Anda, who quickly finds herself in some moral quandaries while playing a multi-player role playing game online. She soon meets people who play against the rules and financially profit off of the game. But when she befriends a young Chinese boy whose main source of income involves this rule breaking, Anda quickly discovers right and wrong isn’t always a black and white issue. Graphic novels are an uncharted territory for me, and putting away my prejudices have helped me explore wonderful stories I would have not otherwise had a chance to discover.
3. Who has the mind of Christ? The Christian tradition has had a horrible track record when it comes to helping the mentally ill. From encouraging people to “pray it away” to blaming people’s mental instabilities on their unconfessed sins, Christians have a lot to answer for when it comes to shaping the kind of church where everyone is welcome. In this article, this person talks about their experience in the Black Pentecostal church and the “demonization” of mental illness that they experienced out of that denomination. After receiving a text message reminding them that they have “the mind of Christ,” they took a look at Jesus’ “highs,” “lows,” and everything in between as recorded in the Gospels. Jesus knew what it was to be fully human, and so Jesus could understand their struggle with mental stability. You can read the article here.
4. White “Virtue” and White Supremacy: In the movie “Get Out,” the standout debut film by Jordan Peele, Rose Armitage is the female lead. She’s a white woman of means and privilege, and as the movie progresses we find out how evil she truly is. The actress who plays Rose, Allison Williams, tells Seth Meyers in an interview that people “just can’t believe” Rose is evil. They suspect her of having been unduly influenced or a victim herself. That, says columnist Anne Branigin, is the fulcrum on which white supremacy rests: white virtue. Whiteness is inherently good, and white people are the harbingers of advanced culture, spotless history, and superior thought. Many of us know this not to be true, but it also proves to be the hardest part of white supremacy to dismantle. Read Branigin’s article here.
5. Epiphany: This past week we celebrated Epiphany. The text for this past Sunday included the Magi and their journey to see the baby Christ. Last Sunday I had my congregation take a look at their own journey. What guides us? What is our destination? If we take a look over the past year, what are our losses, gains, griefs and joys? Our own journey to see Immanuel, God with Us, is no different. We need guidance, and we need community, to reach our destination together. The Magi also had to go home by another route. On our journey, we are not promised security or even safety. What happens when we give up those things in order to seek out Christ? It is my hope that while we wrap up this Christmas season we give thought to our continued search for the child born in a manger.
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