by Ramone Romero.
Recently a friend I honor and respect pulled the “You’re in Japan” card on me. This is something that a few people have done over the years to imply that I can’t understand how things “really” are in America because I live in Japan.
I haven’t counted the number of times I’ve heard it, but I can remember the context of a few times. I think the first time was when the Bush administration was preparing the country with its propaganda about the need to go to war against Iraq in 2003, and I objected on Facebook and in emails that there was no evidence to support the drive to go to war. Later, other friends (always politically conservative) used the “You’re in Japan” card on me with issues like American healthcare, race relations, the Trump campaign and presidency, and Confederate flags and monuments.
Obviously there’s some significant truth to the fact that, being far away, I can’t get a complete picture of how things are “on the ground” in America. At the same time, there is a lot that can be learned online, from reading comments and articles, etc. I’m not a novice in filtering news and reports, or taking the first thing I hear as the gospel truth of a situation. I think most of my friends realize that I try to discern very carefully, and don’t just re-post or write things without critical thought. Continue reading The “You’re in Japan” Card
I have a challenge for my American readers this day. Before you wave the banner of your empire and enjoy billions of dollars being blown up in fireworks, pray that God will help you love all people, including all those harmed by American consumerism, militarism and racism, and that He will help you pledge allegiance to His Kingdom first and foremost.
After all, Scripture says that we are foreigners and strangers on earth (Hebr 11:13) and that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20). We are called to love all people as ourselves (Lk 10:25-37) and while the early Christians didn’t revolt against the Roman empire, they were known for pledging allegiance to another king than the emperor, namely Christ (Acts 17:7). I think Shane Claiborne nails it in his altar call on Red Letter Christians about celebrating interdependence day rather than independence day:
Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of us all being bound up in an “inescapable web of mutuality.” He talked of how we have encountered half the world by the time we have put on our clothes, brushed our teeth, drunk our coffee and eaten our breakfast, as there are invisible faces that make our lives possible every day. That’s why I’ve always struggled with “Independence Day.”
Continue reading The Problem with Patriotism
by Faith Totushek.
Mark 11:12-22 tells us the remarkable account of the fig tree and the temple. These stories are strung together to teach us a number of things about how our faith might be hi-jacked to represent not the character, image and heart of God but nationalism and earthly systems of power, oppression and corruption.
As Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, he notices a fig tree and examines it to see if there is fruit. Finding no fruit, he curses it, saying, “may no one eat fruit from you again.” What’s going on? Why would Jesus do this? What does he have against fig trees? The cursing of the fig tree is a prophetic act that hints at what might happen in Jerusalem.
When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem he makes his way to the temple. Actually, if you look at verse 11, you will notice that Jesus had been to the temple the night before but returned to where he was staying because it was late. I find this curious, wondering if he took note of what was occurring in the temple and what it stood for and returned home to consider what he saw.
In the morning we see Jesus entering the Temple and driving out the animals and money changers and those who were selling animals for sacrifice. And Jesus says this, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a den of thieves.” Was he concerned about selling stuff in the Temple? Was he concerned that the activity would disrupt prayer time? Seriously, this is how the account is often taught.
But there is some much deeper taking place. Continue reading How the Fig Tree that Jesus Cursed Represents Nationalism