Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I am adopting a child! Journey with me. #1

For the past 4-5 years I have been considering adopting a child. I want to make a positive difference in a child's life--a child who wants and needs a mommy like me. About four years ago I made a vision board and on that board I wrote "adopt a child in 1-2 yrs". I am a bit overdue, but we cannot control all the circumstances that will bring about the vision--when or how it will mature. First, I wanted to publish a couple books so I wouldn't feel so pressured to do so when I became a mother. You could say I wanted to "lean in" now in preparation for welcoming a child into my life. I have published three books. I also needed to be more financially stable. While I don't have more money than I did three or four years ago, following a series of pay cuts due to the economic downturn and its impact on student registration at my institution, I feel I am more in control of my finances. I cut out a lot of unnecessary expenses, like gym memberships and personal training fees (instead I bought more free weights, a jump rope, dvds, exercise ball, and hit the pavement) and cable (yes, cable which seemed more like rerun hell, only I had to pay for it).  I still need to become better at avoiding a good clothing sale, but I have made great strides. So even though I am beyond my target date for adoption, I believe this is the right time and season for me to adopt a child. 

It has already been a very emotional process, beginning before I contacted my first adoption agency. I would be watching tv, as a temporary reprieve from my routine or an escape into some comedic or adventurous reality transcending my own, but my escape would be interrupted by some commercial or story about abandoned or abused children. And I would break out in an uncontrollable, deep soul sobbing and wailing. I’d ask myself, out aloud, “what the heck is wrong with you?!”  I think it was a combination of my compassion for children needing safe, loving homes AND menopause. God was knocking at the door of my menopausal heart. My body, its season in life, was reminding me and pushing me in the direction of that commitment I had yet to honor.  I had fears. I feared my life would become less controllable; that I would not be able to manage a child and a vocation; that I might not be mom material no matter how much I wanted it--not enough patience, for example. [more about my fears later]

It is strange and ironic that I find myself in this place. Although I love children, I never had an overwhelming desire to inhabit a delivery room in order to sweat profusely in unspeakable pain with people telling me to push for what would seem like an eternity. I had severe menstrual pains most of my life and I thought if birthing a baby was anything like that I would pass. My mother said she didn't have much pain during childbirth. In fact, she would stay at home until the very last minute before going to the hospital. She said it was better to wait at home than in a cold hospital room. I pushed my way out of her womb in the elevator at the hospital! I also never wanted to be a single mother having seen how my mother struggled. But I am now choosing to be a single mother, a single black mother. More about this in another blog. I will parent a black female child in a world that is too often an unsafe place, unfriendly, hostile and deadly, for females, for minorities. The human trafficking epidemic in the US, in my state; the 2000 missing children in my state; the willingness of people to kidnap school girls and rape them or rape them on their way to school. The fate of the Renisha McBrides are as troubling to me as are the deaths of the Tamir Rices. She, my child to be, likely already "knows" this about the world, unfortunately. But I am grateful I am not deterred by fear, anymore, but moved by compassion and love.

So my life is not what I expected (and neither is hers), nor what others expected either--who cares what others expect? It is what it is, and I am who I am, now. Others saw my future as a wife and mother of several children---not as a scholar, author, preacher. I do know that if I had married young and had children, I would not be the person I am today, doing what I love (though not always loving it) and wanting to share my life with a child I have yet to meet. I am not saying that one life would be better, more virtuous, than the other, just different. Both could be grand! I may have avoided some physical pain, but adopting, the process, has its own emotional ups and downs and pangs and stressors---few experiences are painless. And I will share some of them with you, if you will join me on this journey here. Blog #2 will discuss the reactions to the news. From time to time I will publish a PS (postscript) or afterthought between numbered blogs. Blog #3, My first orientation with the first of (three) adoption agencies. And on....  Ask questions if you please, and I may be able to answer them.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Inhumane!: Detroit Shuts Off Water to Thousands of its Residents

Utility companies are quick to disconnect and shut off utilities, such as electricity and heat, even when the absence of those resources could mean the difference between life and death, sickness and health--during the coldest winter months and the most sizzling summer months. And all one needs to do to get a shut-off notice or to be disconnected is to miss one payment. If we are honest, many of us have been there.  We could have paid our bills on time for years, but let some emergency or something unexpected come up or  let us inadvertently miss a payment, and we are out of luck, especially if we cannot come up with a deposit plus the bill we missed. Our need for heat and/or electricity vary from season to season, but our need for water remains constant.  Human beings cannot survive for long and cannot remain healthy without water.  How in the world can we deny any human being access to water, unless we no longer see them as human beings but as entries in a ledger? How do we justify cutting off people's access to water at any time, but particularly when so many have lost their jobs or been subject to a decrease in pay during this latest economic recession or downturn, which we have yet to fully recover from? And I understand that Detroit Water and Sewage has been increasingly raising its rates during the recession. Few of us have been exempt, but the impact is greater on some than on others. And we must be our brothers and sisters keepers, if we would maintain some semblance of our own humanity.

One would think that we are living in a two-thirds world country (where famines occur all too often and a history of colonizat
Mouth of Lake Michigan
ion has stripped naked the land making it more vulnerable) and that water is scarce. But here are some facts about Michigan water: 

"Michigan is blessed with an abundance of water above and below the ground. Every drop of water that falls from the sky has the potential to contribute to the vast quantities of water that will flow into one of our Great Lakes. Water drops from rain are collected and stored in watersheds.
... A network of streams and rivers that flows to a larger river system will eventually end up in one of the Great Lakes. Michigan has 86 major watersheds. The longest watershed in the state, the Grand watershed, is 260 miles long. The largest drainage basin is the Saginaw River watershed which is approximately 8,709 square miles.
Michigan has 26,266 inland lakes throughout the state that are greater than one acre in size. The largest lake is Houghton Lake, which is 20,044 acres and has over 30 miles of shoreline. The Great Lakes has a shoreline of 3,288 miles. About 40 percent of the major rivers in the state flow into Lake Superior, 35 percent flow into Lake Michigan and 25 percent flow into Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
There are about 120 major rivers in Michigan. The total miles that these rivers cover is about 36,350 square miles. To put this in perspective Michigan has more square miles of rivers than the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and the combined miles of Delaware and Rhode Island in total square miles." [Source:http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/michigan_water_facts ]

Yet, Detroit, a major US city within Michigan, has no qualms or conscience about cutting off the water supply to thousands of its individual customers, even those who may have missed only one payment or maybe as little as $40 in arrears (I am told). And it appears that many of those customers are the elderly, the poor, and children. Nonprofit organizations like We the People of Detroit and Detroit People's Platform and individual Michigan residents are raising their voices and opening their wallets to help those residents left without water for washing their bodies and clothes, for cooking and cleaning, for flushing their waste, and for drinking. The Detroit Water and Sewage company, according to Detroit People's Platform,"launched its most aggressive shutoff and collection campaign in the history of the department.   According to press accounts the department has pledged to shut off and disconnect from the city water supply an average of 1500 to 3000 households per week with an overall target of 30,000 households during the next several months.   We believe that this policy of water shutoff as a collection strategy in addition to posing serious ethical issues, also has serious public health impacts.  For example, shutoffs create unsanitary conditions leading to the transmission of dangerous bacteria contributing to increased UTIs; gastrointestinal problems; hepatitis A; influenza; and other diseases that are linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.   Household water shutoffs also exacerbate adverse mental health conditions in the home and is likely to bring about anxiety, anger, depression and other post-traumatic stress disorder like symptoms. Further, we are concerned that the notice of water shutoff which signals by public health code that the residence is unfit for human habitation, will also trigger a child welfare crisis potentially leading to the removal of children from the home under the orders of the child protective services." 

It appears that Detroit is systematically and callously and inhumanely pushing people, the most push-able, the most vulnerable, out of the city or into a grave!

Recently, the Detroit Water and Sewage company has said that it will also begin to do to some local businesses what it has already done to some of the "least among us". This turn toward businesses comes after much protest from Michigan residents and  after the targeting of individual residents first--once again the needs and rights of corporations are placed above those of the ordinary citizen.

It seems that so far Detroit Water and Sewage and the Detroit Department of health and Wellness Promotion have turned a deaf ear to the citizens and organizations who are protesting the water shut-offs for the most vulnerable among us.  Detroit People's Platform is asking for the following considerations from Ms. Vernice Anthony, Director of Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion:

  • "As Public Health Officer for the City of Detroit, advise the mayor of the potential threat to public health in the face of the widespread water shutoffs;
  • As Public Health Officer for the City of Detroit call for a moratorium on all water shutoffs;
  • Recommend that as a matter of public policy a health impact assessment be conducted on the impact of water shutoffs on the population’s health with an analysis as to how these conditions further contribute to racial health inequities."
 I hope that people of faith and people of conscience will also stand up and speak out against this gross injustice.  In the meantime, donate some water or some money to help get someone some much needed water.

visit: http://www.unitingdetroiters.org/ for more info.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teaching All Nations: Interrogating the Great Commission is on pre-order at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com
pre-order rate of $36 (reg. price $49)

That Christian missionary efforts have long gone hand-in-hand with European colonization and American imperialist expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries is well recognized. The linchpin role played in those efforts by the "Great Commission"—the risen Christ's command to "go into all the world" and "teach all nations"—has more often been observed than analyzed, however. With the rise of European colonialism, the Great Commission was suddenly taken up with an eschatological urgency, often explicit in the founding statements of missionary societies; the differentiation of "teachers" and "nations" waiting to be "taught" proved a ready-made sacred sanction for the racialized and androcentric logics of conquest and "civilization."


Part 1: Colonial Missions and the Great Commission: Re-Membering the Past

1.      Colonial Mission and the Great Commission in Africa — Beatrice Okyere-Manu

2.      Examining the Promulgation and Impact of the Great Commission in the Caribbean, 1492–1970: A Historical Analysis Dave Gosse

3.      US Colonial Missions to African Slaves: Catechizing Black Souls, Traumatizing the Black Psychē Mitzi J. Smith

Part 2: Womanist, Feminist, and Postcolonial Criticisms and the Great Commission

4.      The Great Commission: A Postcolonial Dalit Feminist Inquiry —Jayachitra Lalitha

5.      Privilege but No Power: Women in the Gospel of Matthew and Nineteenth-Century African American Women Missionaries through a Postcolonial Lens — Lynne St. Clair Darden

6.      ‘Knowing More than is Good for One’: A Womanist Interrogation of the Matthean Great Commission Mitzi J. Smith

Part 3: Theology, Art, and the Great Commission

7.      Images of the White Jesus in Advancing the Great Commission — Sheila F. Winborne

8.      The Great Commission in the Face of Suffering as Minjung  Michelle Sungshim Lim

9.      Children’s Agency and Edinburgh 2010: The Great Commission or a Greater Omission? — Rohan P. Gideon

Part 4: The Great Commission and Christian Education: Rethinking Our Pedagogy 

10.  Interrogating the Matthean Great Commission for US Christian Education: Reclaiming Jesus’ Kingdom of God Message for the Church — Karen D. Crozier

11.  Beginning Again: Rethinking Christian Education in Light of the Great CommissionAnthony G. Reddie

12.  Christian Moral Education and the Great Commission in an African ContextLord Elorm-Donkor

Part 5: Interrogating the Commission from Beyond the Academy 

13.  A United States Inner-City Oriented Great Commission MarShondra Scott Lawrence

14.  The Great Commission’s Impact on a Short-term Missionary and Lay Leader in the Church of God in Christ — June C. Rivers