The good citizen defends his castle. Punks, thieves, thugs, and rapists don’t stand a chance against a 44 Magnum in the hands of the good guy who stands his ground. That is the myth. The reality is that America’s love affair with guns and lethal self-defense has not made America safer, just more violent and more afraid.
Harvard Professor Caroline Light explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Professor Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.
Unlike the mythology of Dirty Harry and redemptive violence, America’s stand your ground culture and laws that accompany it do not protect the vulnerable against Mr. Stranger Danger. Just the opposite.
Professor Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.
Drew Bekius was a true believer. He prayed the “sinner’s prayer” when he was three and was immersed in evangelical Christianity, starting an award-winning ministry in his high school. He became a minister and a leader and he was skilled at the job.
But a few years ago, the edifice began to crack. He realized he no longer could believe the things he needed to believe in order to be a minister. Now he no longer holds belief in God or Jesus or the church. He is now a humanist coach and is the president of The Clergy Project. The Clergy Project is online community for former and active religious professionals who no longer hold supernatural beliefs.
In many ways Drew is still a minister at heart. He is a caring, thoughtful person who wants to help people overcome stereotypes and to understand each other even when they might not agree. In particular, he wants atheists and Christians to talk to each other.
The Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945 has provided a number of alternative Christian texts. They were not included in the Bible. They have been dismissed by many orthodox Christians as Gnostic or even heresy. Yet new scholarship is discovering the complexity of these texts and the value they have for many today.
Dr. Celene Lillie discusses three of these texts in her book, The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis. In each of these texts, “On the Origin of the World,” “The Reality of the Rulers,” and “The Secret Revelation of John,” Eve is portrayed as having been humiliated by the cosmic powers but experiences restoration. She sees these Nag Hammadi stories as affirmation of women’s value and wisdom and as myths of resistance to Roman imperial power and to Rome’s culture of rape and domination.
Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of the recently established Tanho Center and on the pastoral and adult education staff at First United Methodist Church in Boulder, Colorado. She has collaborated on and coordinated many different research projects, most recently as Director of Translations for A New New Testament edited by Hal Taussig (2013). She is the author of The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis (2017) and the co-author of The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation (2010). Her research interests include gender, violence, and trauma in early Jesus/Christian literatures ranging from the New Testament to Nag Hammadi.
The United States with five percent of the world’s population incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners. Mass incarceration in the United States is well-known. Today’s guest points out something not as well known. Overcrowded and underfunded prisons now outsource educational and mental health services to religious groups. These religious organizations are overwhelmingly run by nondenominational protestant Christians who see prisoners as captive audiences for their message. Is there a problem here?
Laura Everett is a United Church of Christ minister in Boston who for the last eight years has made the bicycle her main vehicle of transportation in all four seasons. She has found that riding her bike has connected her with her city, expanded her community, activated her on issues of transit justice, and increased her spiritual growth. She is happier because she rides her bike.
You are invited to an open Iftar, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evenings (May 27, 28, 29) at the Muslim Educational Trust. It is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal (provided by the students) and experience an inter-faith celebration! It is the Ramadan Tent Project Portland. It begins at 7:30 pm each evening.
Here is an interview I had with the two organizers Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Alzubaidy on the Pacifica Radio Network.
They were also interviewed on OPB’s Think Out Loud today. Listen here.
They could get a big crowd. You can help them purchase food by donating here.
Why are we so afraid? Of what are we afraid? How can we respond with courage?
I also speak with one of the 100 most spiritually influential people alive today, according to Mind, Body, Spirit magazine. Steve Taylor is a spiritual psychologist, author, and lecturer. We tend to think that spiritual enlightenment or awakening is for the professionals, those who devote their lives to meditation or simplicity or study. Steve Taylor says awakening is accessible to all. He is the author of The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.
Michael Kinnamon Interview, 2:00 – 28:37
Steve Taylor Interview, 28:37-54