Blameless Excuses and Uterus Transplants

 

I still plan to offer several more reflections on Between the World and Me, but I also feel compelled to offer some commentary and framing to two articles on transplants that appeared last week: the first uterus transplant in the USA and the news that desensitizing kidney recipients could allow for unmatched kidney donation. I’ll take them in theological order: the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Desensitizing kidney recipients in layman’s terms means to make their immune systems less hostile to the transplanted kidney prior to transplantation. The upshot is that a desensitized patient could receive a kidney from a donor who is not a very good match. (If you want to know more about matching donor and recipient, read the article linked above.) The NYT headline above shouts the good news that now there is a method of desensitizing that allows a person in need of a kidney to receive one from ANY donor. That is great scientific and medical progress! And yet, like with any progress, there is also a cost, and this time the cost is social. Continue reading

“I’m just American.”

Woman reading Between the World and Me

As an entrée to blogging here, I offer a series of reflections on reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. I will not review or critique the book, but rather respond to Coates’ experiences with some of my own, in part because the mark of a great work is its ability to help the reader rethink her position in the world and how she got there. I also think this is one of the things that Coates wants his readers to do: wrestle with his words as a means of self-critique. I humbly and vulnerably take up that task.

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That same day [they] became friends with each other…

Patriarch Kirill and Pope FrancisThis week the Patriarchs of Rome and Moscow held a historic meeting in an airport in Havana, Cuba.

[Before I get to the meat of my issue, my inner pedant must clarify that the Internet is awash in incorrect headlines. I’ve added a section at the end addressing some of the issues.] Continue reading

What Is Communion (and other questions)?

Provinces of the Anglican Communion

The global presence of the Anglican Communion, with each color indicating a different province.

Those of you in the Episcoverse, who are the only people likely to care about such things, have probably already seen the Primates of the Anglican Communion’s non-announcement of the suspension of The Episcopal Church from various roles in the Communion (for the non-Anglican crowd, a primate is the head bishop of each church or province in our communion). Needless to say, I think this resolution is wrong on all points and the primates who sponsored and voted for it have made a huge mistake. Further, I am hurt and furious and struggling with all sorts of thoughts and feelings about the people who have done this. I think that this whole thing reeks of the structures of colonialism, and I suspect other motives on the part of many players. But I am struggling to love the primates and think well of them, and though I have some suspicions about their motives and various other factors in play, the only person whose sins I am intimately acquainted with is myself. I am also implicated in the colonial structures at work. So, I merely offer ten questions, more or less in reverse order of importance (yeah, I know, bad form in the age of tl;dr). Okay, fine, there’s also a concluding observation. Continue reading

Augustine

Augustine weeps in the garden before his conversion in Confessions VIII.

You’re no misanthrope.
You just knew that all good things
Come from God.

Stealing pears or repenting
Of stealing pears;
Making love to a woman
Or feeling like you’ve lost a rib
When you send her away;
Building a church
Tearing down a church
(or maybe just a sect)

You knew that what was good in it
If anything was
Was from God.
Maybe you had no love for pears
And maybe you just wanted a
Cheap thrill
But God gave you that restless heart
That one that wanted to conspire
When it couldn’t yet commune.

You called your kid God’s gift,
And said you had no part in him
But the sin.
But surely God gave the bed you lay on
If God gave what came from that bed.
You knew that lust
Was just love misdirected
And not always too far
Off the mark.

You knew yourself
Loving and loved
And you knew how much love could hurt
How much you could hurt
Your poor mother
Your poor mistress
That poor kid of yours
How much your
Drunk abusive father
Could have hurt you
And maybe did.

You knew how much goes wrong
When love goes wrong
So you made it all hang
On love that can’t go wrong.
And if unconditional salvation
Means unconditional damnation
Who are the damned to complain?
All good things come from God
Only from God.
You knew that.

But I think you also knew
That maybe you didn’t know
Just how good God is.

All Souls Day, 2015

© 2015 Kyle Rader

Processing Palestine

A mural in Beit Sahour, the village of the shepherds in the nativity story.

A mural in Beit Sahour, the village of the shepherds in the nativity story.

I think I’ve been here long enough now to write something. Take it for what it is: the experience of a privileged outsider who does not speak for Palestinians.

I’ve spent the last month in Palestine. Specifically in Bethlehem, which is in Area A of the West Bank. Area A means that it is under Palestinian control (Area B is under Palestinian civil government but Israeli military control. Area C, which comprises about 60%–and which includes all the major roads between cities–is under Israeli military control). The occupation is brutal.

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Gender, Sexuality, & Scripture – Some Useful Resources

a stack of books on theology, gender, and sexualityThe number of books, articles, and blog posts dealing with issues of gender and sexuality within the Church has become impossible to manage. On the one hand, it’s great that we’re having the conversation.  On the other, it is very hard to sort out the useful information from the garbage. That’s where this post comes in…

My own engagement with these texts began nearly 30 years ago. In that time, I’ve moved through several stages.

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Facing the Monster

Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_ChurchI learned of the dreadful massacre at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina while lying on a sleeping bag on the floor of my empty apartment.  This is the very church of Denmark Vesey (1767-1822), a former slave who bought his freedom.  He attempted to organize what might have become one of the largest slave revolts of the U.S. antebellum era.  Those who recruited black soldiers to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War invoked the name of Denmark Vesey.

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