Sally has a beautiful, haunting poem about The Samaritan Woman up on her site.

Instead of simply celebrating Martin Luther King Day, Dustin Wax at Lifehack has a list of things we can do to continue making King’s dream a reality in 12 Ways to Make MLK’s Dream a Reality. Here are a couple of them:

Re-examine what you “know”: It turns out our minds are full of racist stereotypes, even among the most saintly people. We act every day on things we “know” are true, without realizing that those “facts” are grounded only in stereotypes, not reality. Consider:

  • The lowest violent crime rates in the US are found in Hispanic neighborhoods.
  • White teens are more likely to use and sell drugs than any other teenagers — even drugs like crack that we associate with minorities.
  • Almost all school shootings have been carried out by white students.

None of these facts conforms to our expectations, which are shaped more by the stereotypes we’ve internalized and the sensationalist media than by actual experience.

Think community: Kant’s Categorical Imperative states: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”. What he meant in a nutshell was that you should act the way you wish everyone would act. Don’t just ask yourself if your behavior is in your own best interest, but if it also makes your community better (which, if you think about it, is also in your best interest).

In The Outrage of Outsiders: Why So Many People Dislike Christians (Hat tip to Gord), Journey with Jesus has an article about a three year study that resulted in David Kinnaman’s book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters. He found that an overwhelming majority of young adults view Christianity with quite a bit of hostility. They see us as judgmental, bigoted, and extremely critical and unaccepting. All I can say is can you blame them? When you have people constantly telling you (or yelling at you) that you’re going to hell for one reason or another, I’d have to say you wouldn’t like them. May be the church (particularly the evangelical church) needs to take its cue from Jesus and the Christians in the New Testament instead of the “hellfire and brimstone” preachers of the 30s and 40s revivials.

Following the example of Jesus, the first Christians broke down social barriers. They disregarded religious taboos that judged people as ritually clean or unclean, worthy or unworthy, respectable or disrespectable. They subverted normal social hierarchies of wealth, ethnicity, religion, and gender in favor of a radical egalitarianism before God and with each other: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In a word, the first believers were generous. They demonstrated authentic transparency, not moral superiority or ulterior motives. Like their Lord, they exuded compassion rather than condemnation. They lived out of gratitude not fear, and had a reputation for empathy rather than fault-finding. The first followers of Jesus were people of self-sacrifice, not self-interest. They insisted that God was like a tender father, not a vindictive tyrant, and encouraged every person without exception to believe what the psalmist said: “This I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).

Pastor Dan over at Street Prophets reminds the right-wing, anti-immigration crew that they Can’t Fool the Faithful: Immigration is a Moral Issue, Not a Political Football. American Christians are going to have to decide are we going to be Americans first or Christian?

Pastors and people in the pews know that inhumane raids, deportations, local anti-immigration ordinances, and racist sentiment against various groups of immigrants fly in the face of the Lord’s admonitions to not “oppress the stranger” (Ex. 23:9) or “pervert the judgment of the stranger” (Deut. 24:17). Instead, the Lord taught us to “love the stranger as ourselves” (Lev. 19:34), and “allow the stranger to live among us” (Lev. 25:35). Christ’s teachings in the New Testament reaffirm the Lord’s commandments of inclusion by urging us to welcome the stranger. He promises that as we provide for the stranger (or “alien,” NIV), we are serving Him (Matt. 25:35-40). How many of these politicians really want to deport Jesus?

And may be those anti-immigration people need to remember who the illegal immigrants of 300 years ago were. Bet the Native Americans wished they had built a big, honking wall right after we started showing up. (I saw a great cartoon of this, but I don’t remember where. If you know, leave a link in the comments, and I’ll update this post.)