Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “justice

Race

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    It's really just a contest
    to see who can arrive faster
    or with more support;

  so when we shoehorn it
  into biology, we're often
  escalating the competition,
  by declaring superiority
  of one group over another.

Suffixing imaginary genetic match
with "ism" isn't always about
old fashioned hate spewed
in the light of day.

  Sometimes it's much more subtle:
  an unspoken framework
  for socioeconomic and cultural mores
  tilting everything in favor
  of predetermined medalists.

    We don't have to ask for it
    or even recognize it
    to be complicit.

  All we have to do
  is deny or ignore it.

It will march on,
grinding unchosen ones
into dust, while anesthetizing
the rest to seductive
and powerful privilege.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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If I Told You…

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... that the earth is round,
or at least nowhere near flat,
I bet you’d believe me.

... the power of love
dwarfs the love of power,
would your heart perceive
enough evidence to agree?

... that fear’s division
can never overcome
hope’s ingathering,
would you dare
to walk this way?

... the economy of scarcity
is a lie exposed
by grace’s generosity,
would you risk investing your life
in your neighbors?

... that news and entertainment
have become commingled
to the point of no return,
would you seek
to set aside both
your predisposition
and your privilege
in order to discern reality?

... the Justice of God
has a twin sister named Mercy,
would you invite them both
to the celebration
that is your life?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Bam!

IMG_3734Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

Our culture of violence didn’t appear
like 4th of July fireworks,
bursting on the scene in technicolor.

It was more like Virginia creeper,
slowly suctioning its way
up the facade of society,
one wall of war,
one generation of weapons,
one identified enemy at a time.

It thrived when lethal force was baptized
as the answer to differences,
legitimizing an economy freighted
on escalating weaponization.

Under the guise of order and law,
we not only sanctioned it,
we also sanitized it,
so that, in our eyes,
it was not gruesome,
but glorious.

Soon, it became the framework
for much of our entertainment.
We praised our children
for emulating it in their play;
we secretly desired to be its heroes.

The only time we notice it —
the only time we object —
is when the tables are turned,
and it’s used against us
by ones who perennially
feel its boot on their necks.

By then, it’s too late.

It courses through our veins,
a toxic cocktail of rage and blame,
embalming our souls
for useless photo-op preservation,
as if it’ll somehow matter
when they say,
with venom oozing
from sharply cornered sneers,
“But they look so nice,
so respectable!”

Lord, send legions
of your angels,
for we have dispensed
with most everyone else!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Exorcism

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It seems to me that
  the evil of possessions —
    whether it be money, property,
    power, privilege, or something else — 
    is not that we own them,
    but that in the very act
  of our ownership,
two subliminal things happen:

(1) our ownership,
  when reflected
    in the public sphere,
  tends to generate a sense of scarcity,
rather than abundance; and

  (2) our possessions, then,
  become our possessors.

That is how the appearance
  of even one or two human creatures
    (Yeah, we have a way
    of dehumanizing them,
  don’t we?)
can trigger a full-scale anxiety attack.

That’s when our possessing possessions
  begin to whisper to us,
    “You know, we’re not unlimited,
    and if you start sharing us,
    before you know it,
    the tables will be flipped —
    you never know who’ll overturn them —
    and you’ll become
    the vile creature yourself;
  and you know no one will share
any of us with you, then.”

  Sneaky little twits, aren’t they?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Full Flow

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Greed is total surrender
to the fear that,
despite today’s sufficiency,
tomorrow will leave us resourceless;
and therefore,
too much is never enough.

It’s a frenetic piling-on
creating utter breathlessness.

We are (meaning “I am,
and I invite you
to confess your complicity.”)
slow to recognize
that the ability
to tightly hold things
with our tiny hands and
the small part
of our mind and soul
that value such grasping,
is the greatest impediment
to accepting all that for which
God has created us.

Hope is the antidote,
as holy respiration,
allowing us to breathe
deeply and slowly,
palms upturned and open,
so that more of who we’re
meant to be can settle on us,
even wash over us.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Have

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Dr. King said,
“I HAVE a dream...”
It was a present tense
reality for him.

It’s quite evident that
the doing hasn’t
yet caught up
with the dreaming.

I’m even concerned
about the dreaming,
at this point.

Have we let that dream
become past tense;
one that WAS HAD?

Or are we still willing
to carry it forward,
in the present tense,
and even into the future?

Unless the dream
is kept alive —
in the HAVE tense —
the doing will wither
on the vine.

Will you keep
dreaming it with me?
Will you also
be a doer with me?

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Labor of Love

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I want what I deserve...
  but I also want to decide
    who else is and isn't deserving.

Is that too much to ask;
  to be labor, management,
    and maybe even God,
      all rolled into one?

It sounds so much worse
  when we say it out loud
    than when we practice it
      in our own hearts,
        doesn't it?

And the vineyard owner asks,
  (Matthew 20:15)
  "Am I not allowed to do 
      what I choose 
      with what belongs to me? 
      Or are you envious 
      because I am generous?" 

Grace: it's bigger
  than we hoped;
    which will turn out
      to be good news
      when we get
      to the heart
      of the matter
      and the heart
      of all that matters.

Until then, it's like a stream
  of water flowing through
    a barren land,
    carving out a beautiful valley
    and smoothing the jagged edges
    of fear, assumption, and judgment
    by which we are constantly
    injuring ourselves and others.

Let it flow,
  dear Lord,
    let it flow!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Objection

fullsizeoutput_78fFlat Creek Bottle Chapel (Flat Creek, TN)

 

Politics and Faith often function
  as competing claims
  for the same prize:
the soul of humanity.

You can no more baptize one
  in the name of the other
  with a light sprinkling of rhetoric
  than you can sweeten the ocean
with a few teaspoons of sugar. 

I'm not a professional student
  of the history
  of the USA's immigration policy,
  but the piecemeal agreements
  and policies that directly address
  and affect our neighbors
  to the south seem to be
  heavily weighted toward developing
and protecting corporate interests,

with little concern for how
  these economic realities impact
  the movement, safety,
  and cohesiveness
  of individual workers
and their families. 

We need less people
  piecing together and quoting
  scattered verses of scripture,
  and more people
  whose intellectual anchor is sunk
in our sacred texts' overarching theme.

God's historical predilection
  for all whose circumstances
  are void of power, voice,
  influence, and control is peppered
throughout scripture's narrative.

Until that imperative is given
  a legitimate seat
  at the policy table,
  and the economic practices
  that perpetuate our ballooning
  resource imbalance are up
  for honest discussion,
  human and family need
  will continue to be
unaddressed and unmet. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Get Thee Behind Me, G!

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“Jesus is bringing in 
another kingdom!” 
he declared.

“What kind of kingdom?” 
I wondered.

“A fierce, brutal kingdom!” 

“Hmmm.” I said.
“We’ve already had 
a bate of those monarchies. 
They’re a dime a dozen, 
piled high with carnage 
and destruction, 
toppled and reinvented 
like an unstoppable wave 
of serial monogamists. 
What if Jesus had something 
altogether different in mind?”

“Like what?” he asked,
his voice dripping
with doubt and suspicion.

When they heard
that he taught
as one with authority,
the generals and the politicians
and the landed gentry
and a few other wannabes
who were skilled
at masquerading
came to see him.

“We have come 
to do your bidding, Jesus. 
Your word is our command. 
Speak and we will marshal 
our troops and resources 
on your behalf.” 

His voice was unmistakably
firm and unyielding,
“I have come to proclaim 
a new way of being; 
a community where the tools 
you have come to treasure 
will be exposed 
as impotent and irrelevant; 
a neighborhood 
where connection reigns supreme.” 

“But, rabbi,” 
they chimed in chorus,
“we have all this might 
and power to wield 
on behalf of your kingdom!” 

“Get thee behind me, G! 
For I came to slice you 
from the middle 
of the violent concept 
of kingdom, 
and usher in God’s realm 
of kin-dom.” 

One by one,
with heads drooped
and shoulders stooped,
they slouched
toward their fortresses,
oblivious to the way
love was already
crumbling their walls.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Reflexive

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(when Psalm 22 stares back at you from the mirror)

 

"My sons and daughters,
why have you forsaken them?
Why are you so far from responding
to the their cries and groanings?

They beseech you in daylight,
wailing at the wall you’ve constructed
to separate their lives
from your comfort and security.

By night, their pleas waft
on smoldering embers
of their deconstruction."

The victors have constructed
a lovely narrative of deliverance;
their cry, God’s response;
like a sacred vending machine,
fed with the coin of deserving.

But what of those who are judged
to be subpar, those whose DNA,
language, or faith heritage
come from beyond
the 23&me dream package?

What of those who showed up
for work or school or worship,
oblivious to the call to pack heat
for self-preservation;
those who trusted that
the least of these, the lambs,
would be protected
by the Great Shepherd’s shepherds?

They counted on us to carry them;
to be there, not just in the delivery room,
but at the grocery store checkout,
the public library, the classroom,
the youth group meeting, the job fair.

Is our absence because
we don’t really care, or because
we’re actually the carnivores
circling ‘round them?

Their tongues glue to the roof
of their mouths, like jerky
dried for consumption,
salted with the tears of their anguish.

Their skin taut, revealing
a cadaverous collection of bones.

The coyotes circle,
yipping and nipping,
casting lots for what little remains.

The dream we sold them
promised they’d have a shot;
guaranteed dignity, respect,
even opportunity;
but the fine print and disclaimer
excluded them for myriad reasons,
mostly because we feared
that including them
would cost us too much.

We are slow to catch on, O Lord;
blind and deaf and too scared
to realize that tossing them
to the curb is infinitely more costly
than we ever dreamed,
because it has cost us our very souls.

Is there still time, still hope,
still opportunity to pull
more chairs ‘round the table?

If we feed those who’ve been starved,
welcome those who’ve been exiled,
humble ourselves before you and pray,
will you make your light shine 
upon us all, once again?

We wrap ourselves
with the sackcloth of confession,
and dust ourselves
with the ash of contrition,
O holy one, in hopes
that our forsaking
will not become our forsakenness.

Deliver us, we pray,
that we may live
to proclaim your story
to generations yet to come.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins