Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Friday, July 18, 2014

Clayton Jennings - "What Will You Say?"

Clayton Jennings: What Will You Say? || Spoken Word
starts at 1:14 (8:18)

The Lord's Prayer
by Pianist Huntley Brown Live At McGregor Baptist Ft Myers FL

More songs by Clayton Jennings

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What Will You Say?
bible verses (ESV)
Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give.

Ask me for as great a bride price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife.”

Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you:

for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’”

So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.”

When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’

Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”

And Shimei said to the king, “What you say is good; as my lord the king has said, so will your servant do.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem many days.

the king sent and summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, ‘Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever,you shall die’? And you said to me, ‘What you say is good; I will obey.’

So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes.”

And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me Iwill bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.

So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Choose what you will:

Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Becauseyou have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.

Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back? Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

What will you say when they set as head over you those whom you yourself have taught to be friends to you? Will not pangs take hold of you like those of a woman in labor?

Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them.

“When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the Lord?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off, declares the Lord.’

If the officials hear that I have spoken with you and come to you and say to you, ‘Tell us what you said to the king and what the king said to you; hide nothing from us and we will not put you to death,’

that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it.’

And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.

And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.

And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips.

And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’

When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.

[ Signs of the End of the Age ] As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately,saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he say swill come to pass, it will be done for him.

And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”

So some of his disciples said to one another, “Whatis this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves,what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

“‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Badiou on Badiou Reference Material

Alain Badiou

Alain Badiou, Ph.D., born in Rabat, Morocco in 1937, is a French philosopher, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure. He holds the Rene Descartes Chair at the European Graduate School. Trained as a mathematician, Alain Badiou is one of the most original French philosophers today. Influenced by Plato, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze, he is an outspoken critic of both the analytic as well as the postmodern schools of thoughts. His philosophy seeks to expose and make sense of the potential of radical innovation (revolution, invention, transfiguration) in every situation.

He teaches popular seminar at the Collège International de Philosophie, on topics ranging from the great ‘antiphilosophers’ (Saint-Paul, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Lacan) to the major conceptual innovations of the twentieth century. Much of Badiou’s life has been shaped by his dedication to the consequences of the May 1968 revolt in Paris. Long a leading member of Union des jeunesses communistes de France (marxistes-léninistes), he remains with Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel at the center of L’Organisation Politique, a post-party organization concerned with direct popular intervention in a wide range of issues (including immigration, labor, and housing). He is the author of several successful novels and plays as well as more than a dozen philosophical works.

1999, Manifesto for Philosophy
1999, Deleuze
2000, Ethics
2003, On Beckett
2003, Saint Paul
2004, Infinite Thought
2004, Theoretical Writings
2004, Handbook of Inaesthetics
2006, Metapolitics
2006, Briefings on Existence
2006, Being and Event
2006, Polemics
2007, Century
2007, The Concept of Model
2008, Number and Numbers
2008, The Meaning of Sarkozy
2008, Conditions
2009, Logics of Worlds
2009, Pocket Pantheon
2009, Theory of the Subject
2010, Philosophy in the Present
2010, The Communist Hypothesis
2010, Second Manifesto for Philosophy2010, Five Lessons on Wagner2011, Wittgenstein’s Anti-Philosophy2011, What Does a Jew Want?
2011, Democracy in What State?
2012, Philosophy for Militants
2012, The Rebirth of History
2012, In Praise of Love
2012, Plato’s Republic2012, The Adventure of French Philosophy
2013, Cinema2013, Philosophy and the Event
2013, The Incident at Antioch
2013, The Subject of Change
2013, Reflections On Anti-Semitism
2013, Rhapsody For The Theatre
2014, Jacques Lacan, Past and Present: A Dialogue
2014, Mathematics of the Transcendental2014, Ahmed the Philosopher

* * * * * * * * * *

Miscellaneous Pictures of Alain Badiou's Lecture Series

at Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
July 14-18, 2014

Alain Badiou @ KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Alain Badiou @ KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Alain Badiou @ KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Creston C. Davis introducing Alain Badiou @ KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Alain Badiou attendees @ KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Luncheons with Alain Badiou, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Alain and Winter Badiou leaving KCAD, GRR, MI (July 2014)

Philosophy - Columbia University Press Insurrection Series


The following is an interview with Creston Davis, co-editor of the series Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture

Question: As both a psychoanalyst and a political theological philosopher, how does your angle on the series differ from other editors?

Creston Davis: This series is so much fun to be part of basically because we all share the same commitment to opening up radically new forms of thinking and practices. And that is so very rare these days especially because the entire academic scene has become sickeningly conventional and thoroughly corporatized.

So it speaks volumes about the courage that Columbia University Press has in pushing the limits and boundaries of traditional orthodox thinking so intrinsic to forms of American feminism, neo-conservatism, liberalism, religion, politics, aesthetics and so on that only serve as ideological masks behind which corporate power strangles academic and political freedom. What I like about the projects we’re doing in the series is that they are not afraid of the basic element of desire. And it was both Lacan and Augustine, a psychoanalyst and a theologian, who weren’t afraid of tracing out the infinite possibility of where desire goes.

Our series is so liberating because it’s not married to an identity politics looking to preserve a certain predetermined zone of “desire”; no, we don’t accept this “zone” we penetrate it for the sake of understanding new horizons, new rhythms, vibrations, and energies. For me, the question is always the question of: What do we love? What do we want? And make no mistake about it these are dangerous questions in today’s conventional world.

In particular, my work has always been closely related to European philosophers like Badiou and Laruelle (in France), Sloterdijk (in Germany), Zizek (in Slovenia), Katerina Kolozova (in Macedonia), Negri and Vattimo (in Italy) and, of course, Zabla (in Spain). Recently, for example, when I was lecturing in Poland I got to know the legendary philosopher, Tadeusz Sławek who was instrumental in forging new lines of scholarship when he invited his close friend, Jacques Derrida to give some lectures in the 1990s. Now we are pursuing publishing Derrida’s lectures in a book for the series.

Another project we are pursing, with the help of Carl Raschke, is translating Hannah Arendt’s last manuscript entitled “What is Politics?” which will continue to add to the conversation about the meaning of the political for our time.

Finally, my forthcoming books seek to contribute to psychoanalysis and continental philosophy while being attracted to the insurrectionist movement. I’ve finished one book (with Alain Badiou) on the philosophical and psychoanalytic foundations of early America. Another book I’m doing with Santiago will be on the precise relationship of Vattimo and Zizek’s practice of communism. So, I think I’m able to contribute to the success of the series in these exciting ways.

Q: Can you elaborate on the insurrectionist commitment to The Real, as understood by Jacques Lacan?

CD: One can never overestimate how crucial Lacan’s idea of ‘The Real’ is especially when you contrast it with the obsession over security today. Everything is about security, liability, protecting your wealth, power, and social status. But this is a dangerous message to believe in because life can never be lived in the frozen fear about security. Life is about risk-taking, about growth, it is, above all about that surplus that springs forth from making a risk: To fall in love, to live with the poor, to fight for justice these are the actions of life. Lacan’s idea of the real witnesses to this surplus that no matter how hard we tried to make the world conform to our corporate and administrative standards there is something else beyond.

That is what our commitment is about. It’s about a concrete and materialist commitment to that surplus of a life lived to openness and joy and not the law and security. Slavoj, Clayton, Jeff and I have seen the collapse of academic and political freedom in the United States with the growth of the “liability industry” which functions like a neo-Fascist logic terrorizing professors into conforming to the status quo. But our insurrectionist movement takes a stance against this political and academic tyranny by risking freedom. Lacanian psychoanalysis gives us tools for breaking out of this conventional mode and into forms of expression that don’t conform to the values of corporate lawyers and the wealthy. In short, we are faithful to this X-factor, that liberation is fundamental to human existence.

Q: Clayton Crockett referred to the structure of the forthcoming manifesto as reflecting Heidegger’s Fourfold - Earth, Sky, Gods, and Mortals. Can you describe how the use of this structure will lend itself to an explication of insurrectionist theology?

CD: Yes, Ward Blanton, Jeff, Clayton and I have been writing our insurrectionist manifesto that will finally position religion, philosophy and psychoanalysis in a positive new direction.

Clayton came up with Heidegger’s Fourfold as a way to present and schematize our insurrectionist theology:

1 - I like how we are doing this because you can think of Earth in much more profound ways than simply a passive planet—we think of it as energy via the triadic theoretical structures of Hegel-Nietzsche-Deleuze, where substance becoming subject within a movement of infinite energetic differentials.

2 - Sky is intrinsically and inescapably a mediating, spiritualized element through which the divinity discloses itself.

3,4 - And then there’s “the gods.” But notice when you talk about gods or a God too often ideological structures of power have tried to denude natural powers into a deity, or make absolute a single God, which once again limits infinity by assigning them a personality, an ethnic history, and to political and moral power. We are rethinking infinity in relation to energy, political freedom, and a new collectivity.

Once we reimagine infinity then we can only think mortals in relationship to the three other structures in relationship to our friends Toni Negri and Catherine Malabou’s creative thinking. Needless to say, we are excited about our project that entirely reframes the very meaning of religion, politics, philosophy and history.

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Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture


Slavoj Zizek, Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey W. Robbins, Editors

The intersection of religion, politics, and culture is one of the most discussed areas in theory today. It also has the deepest and most wide-ranging impact on the world. Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture will bring the tools of philosophy and critical theory to the political implications of the religious turn. The series will address a range of religious traditions and political viewpoints in the United StatesEurope, and other parts of the world. Without advocating any specific religious or theological stance, the series aims nonetheless to be faithful to the radical emancipatory potential of religion.

Clayton Crockett on The Conception of InsurrectionsAn Editorial and Ontological Insurrection, by Santiago Zabala; Read interviews with the series editors Creston Davis and Jeffrey Robbins; Visit the Insurrections page on Pinterest.

Peter Rollins - The Call to Brokenness

If you don’t want your faith to be challenged, do read this post

by Peter Rollins
July 15, 2014

In my last book there’s an interesting typo on the back cover. While Tony Jones assures me that he wrote, “If you don’t want you’re faith to be challenged, don’t read this book,” you will see on the back,

If you don’t want you’re faith to be challenged, do read this book

In [psycho]analysis, the analyst listens carefully and patiently for the precise moment when the person on the couch stumbles, makes a slip, or hesitates. For it is at these moments that an unconscious truth is potentially being spoken. Ironically, it is precisely such slips of the tongue that the person on the couch attempts to dismiss with phrases like, “that’s not what I meant,” “or I just made a basic mistake.” Here they spoke something without intending it, they confessed something without meaning it, and the clinical work of analysis bears witness to the fact that such unintended sayings can act as a royal road to some undisclosed, and often unpleasant, truth. Hence psychoanalysis is a discipline that listens out for what everybody else ignores, passes over or just plain fails to see.

So what if we were to put The Idolatry of God on the couch and ask what this mistake (what is called a “sic” in publishing) might mean? Of course it is highly unlikely to be intended by anyone involved in bringing the book to press. The copy/editor would have no reason to do it on purpose, and the editors where unlikely to have left it in for the sake of malice. Indeed I’m very sure that I was shown a copy of the back cover before it went to print, and I certainly didn’t see the mistake.

Just like in daily life, the relatively large number of people looking at the book before its publication missed the slip entirely. Indeed, more than this, I’ve never once had anyone mention it to me, which leads me to suspect that there is virtually no one in the world who has actually noticed it.

But what truth might be held in this unseen Freudian publishing mistake?

I want to throw out one possible interpretation, and it’s this. The book itself is attempting to ask people to question their fundamental way of being in the world. Not just religious people, but those who describe themselves as secular (though the book is more aimed at the former). It’s making a demand… and the demand is to overturn our pursuit of wholeness and mastery so that we might find liberation through embracing a fractured existence without guarantees.

But what if this is precisely the kind of book one can read so as to broadly avoid such a fundamental change and maintain the status quo? What if many people read me precisely to feel a little bit edgy without having to actually do the work that I am asking? This is a point that Katharine Moody insightfully glimpsed in an article entitled “Becoming Church Mice: From Refusing to Lead to Refusing to be Led.” Here she writes,

"Rollins’… courses like Atheism for Lent and The Omega Course [were] courses designed to send people off course. They were not so much offered as courses to be faithfully replicated than [to be] inspiration… to depart from Rollins’ courses and create their own… His work tries to recall us to the fact that we are all poets, all singer-songwriters and story-tellers. For… [we] all weep and pray, all doubt and disbelieve, are all a/theistic. The community of faith is called to be a community of Poets… rather than of Critics. We are to all enter into this Crucifixion experience fully ourselves… But… in a reversal of the function of many other church leaders who believe on behalf of the community, are we letting Rollins disbelieve on behalf of the community?" [Italics mine]

In other words, by reflecting upon the smashing of the idols are we really just doing the equivalent of having a nice daydream in which we imagine being freed from a horrible job so that we can wake up refreshed and actually go to it?

For dreams, at their worst, act to make our reality bearable.

Yet, perhaps an alternative is possible. For dreams, at their best, can lead into a fight where we struggle to change our reality.

Rendering it into something wonderful.

The Evil Amongst Us: The Suffering of Refugee and Immigrant Children at American Borders

Central American migrant in southern Mexico on his way north to the United States.
Creative Commons Copyright: 
Peter Haden

The Evil at Our Borders: Migrants, Refugees, and the Spiritual Crisis of Immigration

by David R. Henson
July 15, 2014

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He is priest in the Episcopal Church, canonically resident in the Diocese of Northern California. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student. He is behind on the laundry.


It is evil.


Treating child refugees like criminals is evil.

Since October, some 52,000 children from Central America have been taken into custody as they crossed into the United States, overwhelming the U.S. system meant to handle only a few thousand. For more than a week, politicians, pundits, and pastors have debated how to handle this crisis.

For conservatives, it is an immigration crisis, demonstrating the failures of the U.S. immigration policy and the need for militarized borders.

For liberals, it is a humanitarian crisis, demonstrating the failures of U.S. economic policy, the immediate need for aid, and the necessity of immigration reform.

For me, while I agree with progressives here, it is also a profoundly spiritual crisis. It is a crisis of faith, and right now, we are not the bearers of liberty, hope, democracy, or good news. Rather, we are the bearers of evil.

These children are fleeing a region with the highest murder rates of any place on the planet. The majority of children — 75 percent — come from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, countries with the highest murder rates in the world thanks to violent drug gangs. These children are fleeing forcible enlistment into the violent armies of Central American drug cartels.

They are fleeing a culture of death. Treating them as anything other than refugees in need of asylum is evil.

Imagine a child risking life and limb to escape only to be sent straight back to the guns, the drugs, and near-conscription. Imagine a child trying to find a life that doesn’t involve the high likelihood they will die in excessively violent streets only to be told not to worry because they’ll be back home soon, where everything is safe and sound. But that home country is overrun by violence and death. That home is what they were fleeing in the first place. Not because they had bad, unloving families, or were chasing the American Dream, or were looking for Easy Street in the U.S. social service system, or wanting to steal jobs from hard-working Americans.

Central American migrants ride atop a train, nicknamed the Beast,
as they travel toward the United States-Mexico border.
Creative Commons copyright 
Peter Haden
Central American migrants ride atop a train, nicknamed the Beast, as they travel toward the United States-Mexico border. Creative Commons copyright Peter Haden

But simply because they didn’t want to die.

And that’s the reality for many of them. If we deport them to their home countries, we might as well sign their death certificates.

So, if you consider yourself pro-life, you had better be on the side of life on this one. And that means asylum for these child refugees.

If you take the Bible to be God’s literal, inerrant truth, then you had better be on the side of these refugee children. God is unequivocally clear in Scripture that we are to welcome the alien and the refugee, not question them, detain them, and deport them.

If you want to be a Christian, you have no choice but to let the little children come. You have no choice but to welcome the stranger, who just happens to be your neighbor.

Otherwise, you’re just a damned liar. Or at the very least, you are lying to yourself.

You cannot be a Christian and reject these children.

The protests that greeted these child refugees in Murrieta?


The political posturing by politicians and pastors pontificating that securing borders, building walls, deporting children is somehow humane or what Jesus wants?


It is evil to send children to their deaths.

Especially when you have the power to do otherwise.

And it is evil, profoundly evil, to create a world with so few good options for children that they take to the tops of deadly trains rather than taking to their own streets. That is precisely what the United States has done to Central America.

We have been unmasked in this crisis. Our deeds have been exposed. We have done evil, this evil that enslaves us, this evil done on our behalf.

There is evil at our borders, most certainly. But it’s on our side. And it’s of our own making.

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Immigrant Children Must Be 'Welcomed And Protected'

The Huffington Post | By Antonia Blumberg

Posted: July 15, 2014

Pope Francis confronted the "racist and xenophobic attitudes" that often face undocumented immigrants by addressing the thousands of unaccompanied children included in their ranks.

In a message delivered to the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development on Monday, the pope drew attention to these migrant children who he said often undertake the dangerous border crossing alone in order to escape violence in their home countries:

"This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected. These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin."

Pope Francis noted the urgency of this predicament, saying that the numbers of migrant children "are increasing day by day." U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that more than 50,000 unaccompanied migrant children have crossed the Southwest border so far in 2014.

While Pope Francis delivered his message, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin spoke at Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretariat and urged clergy and foreign ministers to protect young migrants.

"Whether they travel for reasons of poverty, violence or the hope of uniting with families on the other side of the border," Parolin said, "it is urgent to protect and assist them, because their frailty is greater and they're defenseless, they're at the mercy of any abuse or misfortune."

The cardinal reiterated the Vatican's support for this cause, saying, "The church will always support at the national and international level any initiative directed at the adoption of correct policies."

Outside of the church, though, the pope also called for the international community to take steps toward finding a humanitarian solution to the immigration crisis.

"This challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted."

On Sunday Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell met privately with dozens of governors of states that will host thousands of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. The program, initiated by the Obama administration, will go into effect in October and aims to tackle the growing influx of child migrants.

"We want to make sure they're placed in a safe and supportive home or placement," Burwell said, "but also, it should be somebody that is legal and somebody that will be responsible to see that they show up for the hearing."

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The Children of the Drug Wars

A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis


by Sonia Nazario
July 11, 2014

CRISTIAN OMAR REYES, an 11-year-old sixth grader in the neighborhood of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to get out of Honduras soon — “no matter what.”

In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She promised to send for him quickly, but she has not.

Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian’s house.

“I’m going this year,” he tells me.

I last went to Nueva Suyapa in 2003, to write about another boy, Luis Enrique Motiño Pineda, who had grown up there and left to find his mother in the United States. Children from Central America have been making that journey, often without their parents, for two decades. But lately something has changed, and the predictable flow has turned into an exodus. Three years ago, about 6,800 children were detained by United States immigration authorities and placed in federal custody; this year, as many as 90,000 children are expected to be picked up. Around a quarter come from Honduras — more than from anywhere else.

Children still leave Honduras to reunite with a parent, or for better educational and economic opportunities. But, as I learned when I returned to Nueva Suyapa last month, a vast majority of child migrants are fleeing not poverty, but violence. As a result, what the United States is seeing on its borders now is not an immigration crisis. It is a refugee crisis.

Gangs arrived in force in Honduras in the 1990s, as 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha members were deported in large numbers from Los Angeles to Central America, joining homegrown groups like Los Puchos. But the dominance in the past few years of foreign drug cartels in Honduras, especially ones from Mexico, has increased the reach and viciousness of the violence. As the United States and Colombia spent billions of dollars to disrupt the movement of drugs up the Caribbean corridor, traffickers rerouted inland through Honduras, and 79 percent of cocaine-smuggling flights bound for the United States now pass through there.

Cristian Omar Reyes, 11, wants to get out of
Honduras “no matter what.” SONIA NAZARIO
Narco groups and gangs are vying for control over this turf, neighborhood by neighborhood, to gain more foot soldiers for drug sales and distribution, expand their customer base, and make money through extortion in a country left with an especially weak, corrupt government following a 2009 coup.

Enrique’s 33-year-old sister, Belky, who still lives in Nueva Suyapa, says children began leaving en masse for the United States three years ago. That was around the time that the narcos started putting serious pressure on kids to work for them. At Cristian’s school, older students working with the cartels push drugs on the younger ones — some as young as 6. If they agree, children are recruited to serve as lookouts, make deliveries in backpacks, rob people and extort businesses. They are given food, shoes and money in return. Later, they might work as traffickers or hit men.

Teachers at Cristian’s school described a 12-year-old who demanded that the school release three students one day to help him distribute crack cocaine; he brandished a pistol and threatened to kill a teacher when she tried to question him.

At Nueva Suyapa’s only public high school, narcos “recruit inside the school,” says Yadira Sauceda, a counselor there. Until he was killed a few weeks ago, a 23-year-old “student” controlled the school. Each day, he was checked by security at the door, then had someone sneak his gun to him over the school wall. Five students, mostly 12- and 13-year-olds, tearfully told Ms. Sauceda that the man had ordered them to use and distribute drugs or he would kill their parents. By March, one month into the new school year, 67 of 450 students had left the school.

Teachers must pay a “war tax” to teach in certain neighborhoods, and students must pay to attend.

Carlos Baquedano Sánchez and his mother, Lovena Lidibeth Baquedano Sánchez, in
their home in Nueva Suyapa, Honduras. Carlos is determined to leave. SONIA NAZARIO

Carlos Baquedano Sánchez, a slender 14-year-old with hair sticking straight up, explained how hard it was to stay away from the cartels. He lives in a shack made of corrugated tin in a neighborhood in Nueva Suyapa called El Infiernito — Little Hell — and usually doesn’t have anything to eat one out of every three days. He started working in a dump when he was 7, picking out iron or copper to recycle, for $1 or $2 a day. But bigger boys often beat him to steal his haul, and he quit a year ago when an older man nearly killed him for a coveted car-engine piston. Now he sells scrap wood.

But all of this was nothing, he says, compared to the relentless pressure to join narco gangs and the constant danger they have brought to his life. When he was 9, he barely escaped from two narcos who were trying to rape him, while terrified neighbors looked on. When he was 10, he was pressured to try marijuana and crack. “You’ll feel better. Like you are in the clouds,” a teenager working with a gang told him. But he resisted.

He has known eight people who were murdered and seen three killed right in front of him. He saw a man shot three years ago and still remembers the plums the man was holding rolling down the street, coated in blood. Recently he witnessed two teenage hit men shooting a pair of brothers for refusing to hand over the keys and title to their motorcycle. Carlos hit the dirt and prayed. The killers calmly walked down the street. Carlos shrugs. “Now seeing someone dead is nothing.”

He longs to be an engineer or mechanic, but he quit school after sixth grade, too poor and too afraid to attend. “A lot of kids know what can happen in school. So they leave.”

He wants to go to the United States, even though he knows how dangerous the journey can be; a man in his neighborhood lost both legs after falling off the top of a Mexican freight train, and a family friend drowned in the Rio Grande. “I want to avoid drugs and death. The government can’t pull up its pants and help people,” he says angrily. “My country has lost its way.”

Girls face particular dangers — one reason around 40 percent of children who arrived in the United States this year were girls, compared with 27 percent in the past. Recently three girls were raped and killed in Nueva Suyapa, one only 8 years old. Two 15-year-olds were abducted and raped. The kidnappers told them that if they didn’t get in the car they would kill their entire families. Some parents no longer let their girls go to school for fear of their being kidnapped, says Luis López, an educator with Asociación Compartir, a nonprofit in Nueva Suyapa.

Milagro Noemi Martínez, a petite 19-year-old with clear green eyes, has been told repeatedly by narcos that she would be theirs — or end up dead. Last summer, she made her first attempt to reach the United States. “Here there is only evil,” she says. “It’s better to leave than have them kill me here.” She headed north with her 21-year-old sister, a friend who had also been threatened, and $170 among them. But she was stopped and deported from Mexico. Now back in Nueva Suyapa, she stays locked inside her mother’s house. “I hope God protects me. I am afraid to step outside.” Last year, she says, six minors, as young as 15, were killed in her neighborhood. Some were hacked apart. She plans to try the journey again soon. Asking for help from the police or the government is not an option in what some consider a failed state. The drugs that pass through Honduras each year are worth more than the country’s entire gross domestic product. Narcos have bought off police officers, politicians and judges. In recent years, four out of five homicides were never investigated. No one is immune to the carnage. Several Honduran mayors have been killed. The sons of both the former head of the police department and the head of the national university were murdered, the latter, an investigation showed, by the police.

“You never call the cops. The cops themselves will retaliate and kill you,” says Henry Carías Aguilar, a pastor in Nueva Suyapa. A majority of small businesses in Nueva Suyapa have shuttered because of extortion demands, while churches have doubled in number in the past decade, as people pray for salvation from what they see as the plague predicted in the Bible. Taxis and homes have signs on them asking God for mercy.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently interviewed 404 children who had arrived in the United States from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico; 58 percent said their primary reason for leaving was violence. (A similar survey in 2006, of Central American children coming into Mexico, found that only 13 percent were fleeing violence.) They aren’t just going to the United States: Less conflicted countries in Central America had a 712 percent increase in asylum claims between 2008 and 2013.

“If a house is burning, people will jump out the window,” says Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

TO permanently stem this flow of children, we must address the complex root causes of violence in Honduras, as well as the demand for illegal drugs in the United States that is fueling that violence.

In the meantime, however, we must recognize this as a refugee crisis, as the United Nations just recommended. These children are facing threats similar to the forceful conscription of child soldiers by warlords in Sudan or during the civil war in Bosnia. Being forced to sell drugs by narcos is no different from being forced into military service.

Many Americans, myself included, believe in deporting unlawful immigrants, but see a different imperative with refugees.

The United States should immediately create emergency refugee centers inside our borders, tent cities — operated by the United Nations and other relief groups like the International Rescue Committee — where immigrant children could be held for 60 to 90 days instead of being released. The government would post immigration judges at these centers and adjudicate children’s cases there.

To ensure this isn’t a sham process, asylum officers and judges must be trained in child-sensitive interviewing techniques to help elicit information from fearful, traumatized youngsters. All children must also be represented by a volunteer or government-funded lawyer. Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit that recruits pro bono lawyers to represent immigrant children and whose board I serve on, estimates that 40 percent to 60 percent of these children potentially qualify to stay under current immigration laws — and do, if they have a lawyer by their side. The vast majority do not. The only way to ensure we are not hurtling children back to circumstances that could cost them their lives is by providing them with real due process.

Judges, who currently deny seven in 10 applications for asylum by people who are in deportation proceedings, must better understand the conditions these children are facing. They should be more open to considering relief for those fleeing gang recruitment or threats by criminal organizations when they come from countries like Honduras that are clearly unwilling or unable to protect them.

If many children don’t meet strict asylum criteria but face significant dangers if they return, the United States should consider allowing them to stay using humanitarian parole procedures we have employed in the past, for Cambodians and Haitians. It may be possible to transfer children and resettle them in other safe countries willing to share the burden. We should also make it easier for children to apply as refugees when they are still in Central America, as we have done for people in Iraq, Cuba, countries in the former Soviet Union, Vietnam and Haiti. Those who showed a well-founded fear of persecution wouldn’t have to make the perilous journey north alone.

Of course, many migrant children come for economic reasons, and not because they fear for their lives. In those cases, they should quickly be deported if they have at least one parent in their country of origin. By deporting them directly from the refugee centers, the United States would discourage future non-refugees by showing that immigrants cannot be caught and released, and then avoid deportation by ignoring court orders to attend immigration hearings.

Instead of advocating such a humane, practical approach, the Obama administration wants to intercept and return children en route. On Tuesday the president asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding. Some money would be spent on new detention facilities and more immigration judges, but the main goal seems to be to strengthen border control and speed up deportations. He also asked Congress to grant powers that could eliminate legal protections for children from Central America in order to expedite removals, a change that Republicans in Congress have also advocated.

This would allow life-or-death decisions to be made within hours by Homeland Security officials, even though studies have shown that border patrol agents fail to adequately screen Mexican children to see if they are being sexually exploited by traffickers or fear persecution, as the agents are supposed to do. Why would they start asking Central American children key questions needed to prove refugee status?

The United States expects other countries to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees on humanitarian grounds. Countries neighboring Syria have absorbed nearly 3 million people. Jordan has accepted in two days what the United States has received in an entire month during the height of this immigration flow — more than 9,000 children in May. The United States should also increase to pre-9/11 levels the number of refugees we accept to 90,000 from the current 70,000 per year and, unlike in recent years, actually admit that many.

By sending these children away, “you are handing them a death sentence,” says José Arnulfo Ochoa Ochoa, an expert in Honduras with World Vision International, a Christian humanitarian aid group. This abrogates international conventions we have signed and undermines our credibility as a humane country. It would be a disgrace if this wealthy nation turned its back on the 52,000 children who have arrived since October, many of them legitimate refugees.

This is not how a great nation treats children.