I am a big fan of The Muppets and The Berenstain Bears.

I am not a fan of Chick-Fail-A. And I’m really not a fan of people bragging about their fat-fried meals at said establishment, like Kirk Cameron‘s sister.

This evening I read a college acquaintance’s report that she ate at Chick-Fail-A today and while eating she thought of the gay friends she loves but that she also loves traditional marriage. I felt a pang in my heart, literally. How do I support my LGBTQ friends who physically ache years after physical assaults and verbal taunts? How do I support my Christian friends, some of whom, I believe have love in their heart but are narrowly defining marriage to the point of discrimination? Using their bible to support bigotry?

I just keep coming back to a simple question for traditional marriage fans, “Which Biblical definition are you referring to?”


Classroom Behavior 101?

Reading any article or news item online opens us up to the Pandora’s box that is the “Comments” section at the end of a piece. I, and many others, think that comment sections are where the scariest factions of human life seem to dwell, thrive, and even breed. I was reading a piece today about the new Atheism for Dummies book. As I got to the end I noticed a large section of ‘rules’ before commenting. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I noticed that, in red, were accompanying Bible verses to support the reasons for the Sojourners rules. I immediately commented that I wanted to figure out a way to adapt them to my own classroom. Well, I guess this is it– only they’re not adapted. I think they’re pretty perfect as they are.

How You Should Behave in Dr. Darnell’s Class, Not Just in an Election Year, but Always, Courtesy of the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking “report” on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they’re expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)


The Myths We Clothe Ourselves In

I sat at my computer screen for several minutes trying to figure out what was an appropriate introduction to this prayer by Mark Sandlin, but I can’t think of anything other than, “Read this. Think about it. Think hard. And hopefully you’ll think twice, or more, when you ‘feel’ these myths in your life.”

Good and gracious God,

Today, like the rest of the world,
when I woke I wrapped myself in myths.
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world.
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb.

They tell me that while it may not be fair
that 1600 children die from hunger everyday,
I can do nothing about it.

They silence my own judgment of myself
when put a quarter in the cup of a homeless man
as I walk on by the lack in his life
to live into the abundance of mine.

They tell me that the rich shall inherit the Earth,
and that they will be beneficent rulers.
The myths that I wear tell me
that giving to the rich is better than giving to those in need,
so we as a nation heap blessings upon the rich
expecting ‘trickle down’ to make it rain on those of us below.
Yet, we remain drenched in our inability
to pay the rent,
pay for college,
save for the future…
at times, even believe we have much of a future.

So, today, like the rest of the world, when I woke I wrapped myself in myths.
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world.
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb.

They tell me that violence, while abhorrent,
is inescapable, a part of the reality of life –
that violence is the path we must travel to find peace.
Religion reinforces this myth of Redemptive Suffering
suggesting that suffering builds character,
that you, O God, won’t give us more than we can handle,
ignoring the realities of the families who have survived
the loss of loved ones through violent acts:
War, Domestic Violence, Gang Violence, suicide.

Even in the names we use,
we see how we believe this myth:
The world calls one of humanity’s most violent acts
The Holocaust, which means ‘sacrifice by fire,’
Suggesting that there might be something good
or even of God in it.
Those whose lives it destroyed call it
Ha Shoa – the calamity.

So, I wrap myself in myths.
They are comfortable and warming in what can seem like such a cold world.
Yes, they are old and worn but they are familiar
and even the most fashion forward find comfort in this thread-worn garb.

They tell me that the least of these deserve what they get,
that “But for the grace of God, there go I,”
believing that somehow God’s grace falls more abundantly on me.

They tell me that I must shut off who God created me to be
and live into the image the world expects of me
because who I am on the inside won’t be accepted on the outside.

They tell me that some are created more equal in God’s eyes
and don’t deserve the same rights as the rest of us
that they should be punished for being their own unique reflection of their Creator.

Loving God,
take from me this earthly garb,
for not only are they old and thread-worn…
but they reek.
They stink of the stench of power, money and greed.
They have the foul odor of prestige, self-importance and control.
They fill my nostrils with an offensive aroma
that smacks of a history of abuse, belittlement and pain.
They exude with the suffering they let me ignore.
They ooze with the memories of the blood that has been lost.
They smell to high heaven and point to my complicity
in the lies of this world.

Redeeming God,
take these Robes of Myth from me
and let me walk naked through this world if I must,
but I wish to walk through it blindly no longer.
I wish to breath in the brilliance of creation
and leave behind the stinking myths of humanity.

Help me, my God.
Free me, my God.

Help us, O God.
Free us.



National Photo Month, 5/26/12 edition

I have to say that out of all my travels (38 states and 10 countries), this single place is one of the most fascinating to me. After various beginnings, the mosque was completed in 987. During the “Reconquest” it was captured (1236) and then converted into a Catholic cathedral. The idea of ‘claiming’ one holy place and deliberately manipulating the angles and interior, specifically build to honor one faith, so that the ‘superior’ faith can have a place of worship… well, it speaks volumes of the our centuries long battles and proving how unholy our holy wars have been.

Since the turn of this newest century, Spanish Muslims have been petitioning for the right to pray here. They have been turned down every time by local authorities and the Vatican. A month before this photo was taken, 118 Muslims knelt to pray. They were asked to rejoin their tour to leave.

The photo below shows the two worlds. The red and white denotes parts of the great prayer hall of the mosque, up against the carved saints and angels in the cathedral.

[Image credit: Amy Darnell]


National Photo Month, 5/17/12 edition

Josef Miles gave his mother, Patty Akrouche, an early Mother’s Day present this past weekend. I think he gave us all something quite precious.

For more about Josef you can read this report from NPR.

[Image credit: Patty Akrouche]


Merry (?) Christmas

It’s no coincidence that St. Matthews-in-the-City Church in Auckland, New Zealand has chosen the Christmas season to reveal their latest billboard ad depicting the Virgin Mary. Titled “Mary is in the Pink,” the ad is meant to show Mary, full of grace, juxtaposed with situations today’s women can find themselves in. According to Yahoo’s The Sideshow, “Vicar Glynn Cardy said that this year St. Matthews wanted to focus on what it was like for a real mother with a real child. ‘It’s about a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It’s about real anxiety, courage and hope.'” Two year’s ago, the same church featured a billboard with Mary and Joseph.


Rick Perry vs. Parody

The social media sphere is full of shared videos, photos, links, and blog posts. I do it– I share my favorite stories with my genuine and facebook-qualifying ‘friends.’ So when someone first posted Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad I didn’t pay attention to it. If the current governor couldn’t remember what three agencies he would eliminate as President, let alone not knowing how many Justices serve on the Supreme Court, I was pretty confident that I didn’t care what he had to say in an ad airing in Iowa. I finally decided to watch it after I started seeing it as the subject of news reporting, not just social reporting.

I watched. I watched Rick Perry in his Ennis Del Mar jacket. I listened to background music that was highly evocative of gay, blacklisted, Jewish-American composer Aaron Copland. I tried to figure out when President Obama supposedly declared ‘war on religion.’ Was it before or after opponents tried to say that Presidential candidate Obama was a resolute follower of his Christian pastor Jeremiah Wright? And this war on religion and God… is this the same God that supposedly called Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain to run for President? Maybe Obama’s just trying to declare war on the bad cell reception that gave all three candidates the same message.

Mr. Perry, you do realize you’re not going to be President right?

For the record, I like this one better.