Tag Archives: community

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Going Rogue Threatens God’s Mission for Justice

Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is out in theaters, and it dutifully fills all the boxes in the spy thriller checklist. Lifelike masks? Death-defying stunts? Car chases? Gunplay and physical combat? Glamorous locales? Check, check, checkity-pop-zoom-bam-BOOM.

One thing that stuck with me was the title; an interesting development, because action movie titles are often pretty irrelevant. They’re designed to sound intriguing-and-dangerous-but-vague, and too often come across instead as techno-gibberish. (Does anyone remember what “Ghost Protocol” referred to in the fourth M:I installment? Don’t look it up on Wikipedia, that’s cheating.)

On the contrary, a whole nation going rogue? That’s much easier to understand. The phrase picked up steam in the broader consciousness after Sarah Palin entitled her 2009 political memoir Going Rogue, reclaiming a definition of a rogue not simply as “someone who lacks judgment or principle,” but “someone who deviates from the expected norm of behavior.”

(Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but she’s amazing at deviating from expected norms.)

In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the rogues in question take the form of a nefarious collective of foreign agents called The Syndicate, all united in the pursuit of a terrorist agenda.

So with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) shut down by Congress, super spy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must rely on his friends, comic relief Simon Pegg as Benji, the steely-eyed Jeremy Renner as chief analyst Brant, Ving Rhames’ muscly perma-smirk as the homie Luther, and Rebecca Ferguson as mysterious femme fatale Ilsa Faust – all working together to defeat The Syndicate, and to a lesser extent, justify the IMF’s existence.mission impossible cast profiles

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The Truth Bucket Challenge (Sponsored by Ferguson, Mo.)

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The sad irony is that, by virtue of the many friends and allies I have who are white and who understand the racial injustice involved in the whole Ferguson saga, that this article will probably be shared a lot — but probably not by the people who need to read it most.
But I’m writing anyway, in part because I’ve received valuable confirmation, in the form of several friends and allies confiding that my articles on the subject have helped them to initiate conversations with friends and family members who don’t get what all the controversy is about. To these folks — and you know who you are — I say wholeheartedly: thank you. I write with the same conviction that many tent-revival evangelists had back in the day: if it makes a difference, even for just one, then it’ll be worth it.

 

In the response to the many articles about the travesty that unfolded in Ferguson, I’ve seen certain trends in the comment sections. Particularly in the ones written by and toward evangelicals, like this excellent guest-blog series facilitated by Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today, the sentiments of (presumably white) dissenters usually include one or several of three common responses aimed at African-Americans or other people of color (paraphrased, but only slightly):

  • Regarding the “militarized” police response: with all the rioting and looting, what did they expect would happen?
  • Regarding protest: why don’t they protest the black-on-black violence in Chicago every weekend?
  • Regarding the shooting itself: We shouldn’t pass judgment if we don’t know all the facts.

These ideas are as ubiquitous as they are problematic. And they all stem from three problems that, by and large, are preventing more black and white people from establishing common ground in the wake of this tragedy.

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Why #ImSoPortland Matters

(Editor’s Note: This post began as an addendum to something I wrote in April about life in Portland as a black person. For more context, or if you’re not intimidated by a 3,000-word post, check it out.)

 


 

 

My social media feed has been blown up with old school nostalgia.

I’m seeing a ton of mostly black Portlanders throwin’ up the #ImSoPortland hashtag and reliving a lot of memories from back in the day. I’m not sure what started it, but a basic search for “#imso” on Twitter showed me hits for Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago, so I know it’s not just a local thing. I’m not sure why now as opposed to any other day, maybe it’s just radio and news stations getting people engaging with a harmless meme on a slow news day. Or, … maybe, like the big bang theory, it just sort of… happened.

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This Song Is What’s Right With America

(Editor’s Note: with all the talk about the polarizing SCOTUS ruling on Hobby Lobby and birth control, I thought it might be good to talk about something that brings people together.)

 

So I’ve thought a lot about it, and I’ve decided that this song by bluegrass hip-hop band Gangstagrass, is more than just a fun, infectious tune. It is the antonym of the common hyperbolic lament about our fair nation; “All For One” is, for once, what’s right with America.

Read no further before watching and listening:

The only way this song could be more thoroughly American would be a cameo appearance by a flag-draped America Ferrera. 

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Watch Dogs: The Game That’s Not A Game

 

WATCH_DOGS, the latest blockbuster title from entertainment software company Ubisoft, is an interesting case study in duality.

Because on the one hand, it’s the ultimate digital urban playground, and gamers who enjoy open-world sandbox-style games have a veritable cornucopia of content to sink their teeth into — physical and digital puzzles, weapons and cars galore, augmented reality games, even chess or three-card monte. On the other hand, there’s something sadly self-fulfilling about an idealized hero who spends most of his time doing what pretty much all of us do a daily basis — looking down at the screen of a cell phone.

(I imagine the video game character labor unions have spent years lobbying for more work like this. No spinning blades? SIGN ME UP.)

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What It’s Like Being Black In Portland

So it seems that a series of circumstances have all led me to reminisce, Pete-Rock-&-CL-Smooth-style, about my upbringing here in Portland Oregon, the undisputed whitest major city in America. Reconnecting with old friends from high school, being a little less homebound and a little more out-and-about in the city (which is a typical, if subconscious spring ritual), and responding to people emailing me about Mitchell S. Jackson’s March essay in Salon, about his experiences growing up here.

I’ve written about this issue before, but usually only tangentially. It’s not something I feel the need to discuss all that often, not because my experiences aren’t novel or interesting, but because there are so few genuine opportunities to talk frankly about racial issues without the issues being sidetracked or hijacked by local or national politics. I actually have several compelling interests that could incentivize my sharing what it’s like growing up here (at or near the top would be to promote my creative works). But in practice, it’s hard to do so without being burdened by the advancement of a particular agenda – as in, talking about diversity in the context of Why We Need To Do Such & Such About The Problem – or, more honestly, without bumming white people out.

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We Belong

So for the past sixteen months or so, I’ve been serving as the interim worship director for a church plant just west of Portland, called Kaleo Covenant Church. How I ended up there is sort of a long story for another time, but it will suffice to say that it’s more than just a gig for me. The pastor there is Troy Hoppenrath, a man whom I enjoy serving alongside immensely, in no small measure because of his crazy stories, the manic energy that only a former youth pastor can bring to the pulpit, and what I perceive as a fearless willingness to take ministry risks (case in point: me).

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My Hooptie: An Imperfect Analogy for Gentrification

Imagine if your car was a clunker, (back in the day, we would’ve called it a “hooptie”) but it was the only car you’ve ever known.  Both your parents drove that car, practically raised you in that car, before passing it onto you. You drive it all through high school and college, doing your best to keep it running. Gradually, you start making improvements, you rebuild the engine, you put in new upholstery, give it a paint job, etc. You work hard, in your spare time off of work, for four or five YEARS, getting that car into nice shape. Eventually, you take it to a few car shows, you even win 2nd place once. Your name is in the paper, it’s a pretty big deal. You feel pretty great about that car.

Then one day you get a letter from your car insurance company. They congratulate you for getting second place at the car show! Also, by the way, they need to double your insurance premiums. WAIT, WHAT?! Your car has become so valuable that you can no longer drive it.