Tag Archives: missional

Step Away From The Keyhole

This post is part of the November Synchroblog, “Seeing Through The Eyes Of The Marginalized”.  A synchroblog is a collection of similar articles or posts made by a diverse group of bloggers who have agreed to blog on the same topic on the same day. You can find a list of all the participants at the end of this post.  If you’re a blogger & want to be part of future synchroblogs, you can join on facebook or go to our new synchroblog site and subscribe.


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Being “marginalized” means more than just belonging to a minority. Marginalized people are pushed to the margin because a society refuses to acknowledge their needs, their beliefs, their value, their rights and their concerns.  As a follower of Christ, I want to reach out and help people who are marginalized – I want to be a good ally, who not only empowers marginalized people to believe that they matter and that what they have to offer has value, but also to change society and systems that continue the cycles of marginalization and oppression.  Living that out is hard and even those of us who are sincere and well intentioned are prone to make mistakes.  Here are some things I have been learning as I attempt to become a good ally to some dear friends of mine who often find themselves in the margins.

PRIVILEGE

Someone said, “People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.”  That is what happens to us.  We see the world through our position of privilege and it robs us of a realistic perspective – we need to step away from the keyhole we have been peering through, throw open the door and walk out into the open. Privilege is the biggest obstacle that an ally of any marginalized person or group has to overcome.  It traps us into mindsets that make it almost impossible for us to understand what it means to be marginalized.  This obstacle can be effectively dealt with and overcome, but many (maybe even most) allies haven’t taken the time to confront their own privilege and the part it plays in the oppression of others.  Most are so accustomed to their privilege that they aren’t even consciously aware of it – white, male, straight, healthy, affluent, employed, included, heard, affirmed – whatever our privilege is, we need to acknowledge it, confront it and learn about how it is part of the problem. Without acknowledging the privilege we hold we cannot truly understand the experience of the marginalized or effectively contribute to their betterment.

HUMILITY

The lack of humility is a definite barrier for those who want to see through the eyes of marginalized people and work for justice.  The more one learns about privilege and oppression the more one will recognize oppressive attitudes and behaviors they have held, how little they know about what it is like to be marginalized, and how many things one has done or said in the past that is now considered to be dreadful … in other words, if you want to see through the eyes of the marginalized, be a good ally and fight for justice get ready to be comfortable with humility.  Becoming a good ally means we have to give up the power that privilege has afforded us and allow humility to create space in us to listen, learn and grow.

INDIVIDUALS

It is easy for us to forget that those who are marginalized and oppressed are individuals with unique stories of their own.  People within a marginalized group have unique and individual needs and concerns.  We need to take the time to build authentic relationships with marginalized people, to listen to their stories, to see them as more than a project or a cause, to connect with them, learn from them and experience day to day life with them.  The only effective way to empower marginalized people to believe they matter and are valuable is through individual interaction.

What help can you offer to those who want to become good allies to people who are marginalized and oppressed?

Here’s a list of all the contributions for this month’s synchroblog:

Kathy Escobar – Sitting At The Rickety-Card-Table-In-The-Family-Room For Thanksgiving Dinner

George at the Love Revolution – The Hierarchy of Dirt

Arthur Stewart – The Bank

Sonnie Swenston – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Wendy McCaig – An Empty Chair at the Debate

Ellen Haroutunian – Reading the Bible from the Margins

Christine Sine – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Alan Knox – Naming the Marginalized

Margaret Boehlman – Just Out of Sight

Liz Dyer – Step Away from the Keyhole

John O’Keefe – Viewing the World in Different Ways

Steve Hayes – Ministry to Refugees–Synchroblog on Marginalised People

Andries Louw – The South African Squatter Problem

Drew Tatusko – Invisible Margins of a White Male Body

K.W. Leslie – Who’s the Man? We Christians Are

Jacob Boelman – Seeing through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Peter Walker – Through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Cobus van Wyngaard – Addressing the Normalized Position

Tom Smith – Seeing Through the Eyes of the Marginalized

Annie Bullock – Empty Empathy

Christen Hansel – Foreigners and Feasts

Sonja Andrews – On Being Free

A Labor Of Love

northwood-home-makeover

My husband and I participated in this last year and it was great.  Unfortunately we were not able to participate this year but plan on joining in again next year.  It is truly a labor of love.

A group of volunteers gave four Haltom City homes a makeover. In just 24 hours, some 1,600 volunteers completed home renovations for the much-deserving families.

The home makeovers come courtesy of the NorthWood Church in Keller. This is the third year that NorthWood has provided home makeovers for families in Haltom City.

The families being helped were all selected based on their need. “There’s something about the time frame and the urgency of it that makes it that much more,” said volunteer Andy Wallace.

Those involved with the project say the renovation isn’t only for the homes, but the soul as well. “God said, ‘Go out and help the needy and the poor’, so what better way to come out and serve the Lord than to help these folks out?” Wallace asked.

The makeovers include painting, replacing flooring, landscaping, decorating, new furniture and decorative items, appliance replacement or repair and other things you would expect.  This year mini-makeovers were added for the houses on the streets where the home makeovers were taking place.  The mini-makeovers included yard work, exterior painting and other small jobs.

The teams start working on Friday afternoon and work through the night and into Saturday.  The big reveal happens about 5PM that Saturday.

Be sure and click on the picture above to see CBS coverage.

Am I all alone here?

I am about 2 or 3 years into the emergent/missional conversation/movement. I come from a very conservative, evangelical background and have had to come to terms with the realization that a lot of stuff that I believed, a lot of things I said and did, and a lot of people I supported in the past were wrong. The journey has been exciting but also disconcerting and painful at times. I am thankful that there are people out there that have challenged my thinking/motives/actions/beliefs. I no longer think of myself as conservative or liberal but a follower of Christ – but since that can sound vague and like I am trying to avoid giving a straight answer (to some) I guess I would say that I am a moderate – although my conservative friends would probably think me to be liberal these days and my liberal friends would say I was still a conservative just not an extreme one :>) Anyway, on to the point of this post…

What concerns me is that so many of the very people who have challenged me and my conservative views seem to have gone soft and are doing some of the same things that they rightfully criticized me about.

For instance – when I pointed out that $170 million dollars would be better spent on helping people rather than staging an extravagant inauguration (I did this on facebook and twitter) I barely got a bite. My friends there are mostly liberal (sorry for the label) and supporters of Obama (which is fine with me – I almost voted for him) but I don’t think they would have given a republican or a conservative that kind of break (and I don’t think they should).

And then – when I pointed out that I thought the end of Rev. Lowry’s prayer contained racist speech (again on facebook and twitter) I got even less response. I was careful to explain that I wasn’t calling Rev. Lowry a racist (I know very little about him) but that I thought calling Native Americans “red”, Asians “yellow”, saying that “yellow needed to mellow” and saying white people, in general, are racist, was racist speech even if it was contained within a rhyme that has been around for a long time in black churches. I talked about racism lurking in people’s lives (no matter what race they are) even without their knowledge and that when we see or hear racism we should point it out and speak against it.

Now maybe I am wrong, but I got the feeling that I was breaking some sort of unwritten law, or treading on “holy” ground, or something. No one reprimanded me but the passion that is typically there was absent – the critical eye was missing – the silence said a lot (IMHO).

I don’t say any of this because I didn’t vote for Obama. I think there is a possibility that he will make a great president and do many good things. I was honestly worried about his lack of experience – particularly with the war and economics – but maybe that will end up being a plus – I can see that side of the argument.

I say this because I don’t want my wonderful new friends, who have challenged me for my own good, to go soft because Obama is President. I want them to keep examining and questioning and pointing out discrepancies and injustices – even if it is with people they support and agree with on most everything.

Am I all alone here? Or does anyone else know what I am talking about?

The Missional Synchroblog

image from: http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/a-more-generous-view/

 

Rick Meigs over at Blind Beggar has voiced his concern about the overuse and misuse of the word “missional”.  In an attempt to reclaim and give a proper definition to the term “missional”, he put out a call for a global synchroblog on the topic.  Go here for Rick’s comments and to find the links to all 50 respondents (responses were posted on June 23, 2008).

 

Here are some snippets from some of the responses:

 

From Bill Kinnon :  This is not a two-year, three-year, five-year or even ten-year plan. This is a lifetime’s engagement with the communities where we have been strategically placed by the hand of God.

 

From Sonja Andrews : Missional is about loving my neighbor and that can be expressed in thousands of ways.

 

From Brother Maynard :  To be missional is to engage with the “other” solely for their sake.

 

From Grace : “Out Not In”  “With Not For”  “Us Not Them”

 

From Tim Thompson : An alternative lifestyle where your top priorities are all about signing on to God’s project to repair the World because you want to do that work. That’s missional.

 

From Erica Haub : I hope that those of us seeking to imitate an incarnate God really understand that that means following a crucified One.

 

From Duncan McFadzean :  Missional is a call to a life of justice, a life of deep community and a life of authentic worship.

 

From Makeesha Fisher :  Talking about missional really needs to be comunicated in terms of what one does, how one lives. The ‘now me’ would say to the ‘then me’, get out and live, cancel at least half of your church commitments, drop out of most of your Bible studies and prayer groups and GET OUT THERE!

 

From Alan Hirsch : Mission always sets our Agenda and Incarnation must always describe our Way.

 

Hope you enjoy the discussion – and feel free to comment if something is on your mind.

Later,

Liz