Emphasizing voting as foundational to the way ASJ will enact histiocytoma dog paw change, Dr. William Ellis, ASJ board member, professor at Washington Adventist University, and researcher of Adventist voting patterns, was first in the #AGITATE2019 line up when he described the initiative, “Adventists Vote,” as a way to overturn crony capitalism and return rights histiocytoma dog paw to all people as envisioned in the founding documents of histiocytoma dog paw our country.
Pastor Danielle Pilgrim used the story of Ruth to support histiocytoma dog paw the title of her Friday night plenary talk, “Don’t Count Me Out.” Ruth’s story was framed as a story of equality, particularly of the marginalized and outcast, showing that God actually rewards the outcast. Giving a brief history of Ruth’s people, the Moabites, as the despised descendants of Lot and his daughters, Pilgrim noted the parallels between Ruth as part of the histiocytoma dog paw scorned by the Israelites and the historically marginalized in this histiocytoma dog paw country. There was an obvious, hypocritical problem in the formation of the United States where histiocytoma dog paw words declaring equality for all (Declaration of Independence) were counteracted by counting a black man as three-fifths of a person and not counting women at all. She said that sins of racism and inequality are problems histiocytoma dog paw for Adventists and for the country. Asking how we treat people whose ethnicity is stacked against histiocytoma dog paw them, Pilgrim pointed to the Bible as showing that God rewards histiocytoma dog paw and redeems the outcast because of who He is. Boaz, a friend of God, asked God to bless Ruth; he knew God’s favor went to the outcasts, including “messed up Moabites,” even to the point of this outcast becoming a direct histiocytoma dog paw ancestor to King David and to Jesus.
Drawing on the conference theme, Pilgrim urged people to agitate against systems and institutions that histiocytoma dog paw oppress people. Pilgrim urged the adoption of responsibility to accept all, referring to the problem that “people would prefer empty pews over pews filled with people histiocytoma dog paw who are not like them.” The audience, overwhelmingly students, excitedly affirmed her message and erupted in loud affirmation as histiocytoma dog paw Pilgrim said, “You want to know a secret? God is not a Seventh-day Adventist.” Pilgrim set the stage for the theme of #AGITATE2019 with her message that God is willing to agitate histiocytoma dog paw for the marginalized. Likewise, those who claim to be Christians should be willing to histiocytoma dog paw do the same.
Sabbath morning, the plenary session began with the bestowal of an award histiocytoma dog paw from Oakwood University and ASJ to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson, a prolific author on race and Christianity, was called a “truth-teller” whose life has been dedicated to the premise that justice histiocytoma dog paw is what love looks like when it speaks in public. Dyson specifically spoke about the concept of using intelligence before histiocytoma dog paw embracing those in governmental office, saying “When the White House can’t say it, the pulpit can.” Dyson spoke of gratitude for Dr. Carlton Byrd who he said is speaking truth unlike other histiocytoma dog paw Evangelical leaders. Referring to the ASJ conference and the efforts of ASJ, Dyson said it is not a side show, but a central church operation. “Don’t get caught in theological ecstasy while avoiding sociological misery.” Dyson spoke of the current administration’s clandestine association with people and groups involved with White histiocytoma dog paw Supremacy against a backdrop of the central responsibility (often shirked) of the church to tell the truth in all seasons, while lifting up the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ.
During the worship hour, Dr. Carlton Byrd, senior pastor at Oakwood University Church, spoke from Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Sheep histiocytoma dog paw and Goats, emphasizing the idea that sheep are “in position” to do the practical tasks. All through Jesus’ life, He upset the elite as He ate with underprivileged and histiocytoma dog paw listened to those who had been disregarded. Jesus questioned current laws and the status quo, and for this, they killed Him. Jesus showed that there are times to stand up and histiocytoma dog paw speak truth to power, despite the consequences.
An afternoon plenary session by Minister Ronnie Vanderhorst was entitled histiocytoma dog paw “The Harriet Tubman Manifesto: Be Free or Die.” Using the story of blaming a dog for being vicious histiocytoma dog paw after being beat repeatedly, Vanderhorst asserted that “America drives black people mad, then executes them.” Dispelling any thought that he advocated a victim stance, Vanderhorst envisioned people healing from this trauma using three frameworks: theoretical, therapeutic, and theological.
First, Vanderhorst’s theoretical framework assumed that racism is permanent, based on the work of Derrick Bell. Then, he used Dr. Joy Degruy’s model of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. This manifests in distorted attitudes and dysfunctional behaviors and is histiocytoma dog paw more difficult when trauma has been caused by other humans. Vanderhorst said, “Trauma left unchallenged is trauma unaddressed” and used the African Proverb that says you cannot stop histiocytoma dog paw a bird from flying over your head, but you can prevent it from nesting in your hair. The first step in the process is discernment of what histiocytoma dog paw is happening and a clear-eyed acknowledgement of what is happening. Vanderhorst noted that frequently people who perceive the problem in histiocytoma dog paw the present moment are labeled as having “pathological behaviors.” He asserted that the first step to healing is acknowledging histiocytoma dog paw the reality. To deny reality is to perpetuate pain; he said, “Traumatized people traumatize people.”
In the context of a therapeutic framework, Vanderhorst declared that traumatized people have an “interrupted spirit” and this will affect soul and body. The mind becomes a battlefield. What one allows to occupy one’s mind will, eventually, come out of one’s mouth and affect one’s body to heal or kill a person. An interrupted spirit affects what we think and how we histiocytoma dog paw feel and what we do. Unresolved trauma often causes people to develop strongholds to falsify histiocytoma dog paw or defend wrong beliefs and easily leads to development of histiocytoma dog paw a trapped-victim mindset. Trauma has to be acknowledged and the victim mindset must histiocytoma dog paw be overcome and to do so requires the Gospel.
Vanderhorst’s theological framework is this: Gospel is more centrally rooted in trauma than doctrine. Underneath the loud talk about being saved is a hidden histiocytoma dog paw side of Gospel, His wounded side. Through seeing the life and death of Christ, those who suffer can fully identify with Him and this histiocytoma dog paw is a source of healing and peace. This will lift a person out of victimhood to service. “Hands that help are holier than lips that pray.”
The Sabbath afternoon schedule featured numerous workshops. One workshop that stood out for me was Michael Polite’s session entitled, “Upside Down Influencers.” This section provided a description of the theological grounding for histiocytoma dog paw #AGITATE2019, distilled from Acts 17:4-6. In the text, Polite notes the collaboration of the institution with new believers histiocytoma dog paw as well as with women. He also likes the New King James translation of verse histiocytoma dog paw 6 that refers to the group as turning the world histiocytoma dog paw “upside-down.” Polite notes that the name of one of the believers, Jason, also in the text, means “healing.” Healing, apparently, disrupted the status quo.
Polite says he is a pragmatic theologian and values reclaiming histiocytoma dog paw the revolution identity that fueled the establishment of the Advent histiocytoma dog paw Message. He contends this will result in cultivation of spaces where histiocytoma dog paw avant-garde disciples are encouraged and empowered. “God called us to be a movement, not an institution.” Polite took his audience through Christian history to see that histiocytoma dog paw the story of Jesus has been weaponized to quell agitators. It started with Constantine, who showed up with a Bible in one hand and histiocytoma dog paw a weapon in the other. He said the choice of “church or culture” is a colonial stance. He said that Jesus and the Gospel are to be histiocytoma dog paw embedded in culture. Christianity, in its original form, was not to be a collaborator with Western Culture, but was to embed and make culture into something else.
Polite stated the problem now is one of Christian “numbness,” claiming that believers seem to function with a sort of histiocytoma dog paw surge protector in place to prevent them from seeing the histiocytoma dog paw sad reality of the culture. For Polite, the first step to protest is to allow oneself to histiocytoma dog paw be grieved. He said one should prepare for the “end time” by doing what one can in one’s “own time.”
#AGITATE2019 wrapped up Sunday morning with two Oakwood community members histiocytoma dog paw sharing case studies of what they were doing to promote histiocytoma dog paw social justice. First, Oakwood student, Giana Darville, described her work on YouTube to focus on the issue histiocytoma dog paw of e-cigarette usage in African American teenagers. More than 25% of that demographic use e-cigarettes, and such usage quadruples the likelihood of smoking traditional cigarettes histiocytoma dog paw later.
The last speaker of the conference was Pastor Debleaire Snell, of First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Huntsville, who described the formation of the group, “ Blackout NFL Now” and offered tips for grass roots protest movements. Snell says he started this ecumenical project, not as an activist, but as an individual with a burden. As the father of two boys, he feels police shootings of people of color is the histiocytoma dog paw Civil Rights issue of our time. Noting that the problem of police brutality against people of histiocytoma dog paw color is not new, Snell has been dismayed to note the way the majority histiocytoma dog paw culture has avoided the topic even with real time film histiocytoma dog paw documentation of the problem.
Snell contends that Kaepernick’s non-violent, respectful protest has been demonized as an act of disrespect histiocytoma dog paw for the flag and country, rather than the real intent of lamenting how our current histiocytoma dog paw society has failed to live up to the words of histiocytoma dog paw the founding principles. Snell sees Kaepernick’s inability to get a job to be a sort histiocytoma dog paw of “Corporate Lynching,” because just as lynching in years past was used primarily histiocytoma dog paw as a deterrent beyond punishment, Kaepernick’s current unemployment in the NFL is meant to be histiocytoma dog paw a public deterrent to strike fear in others who may histiocytoma dog paw contemplate protest on this issue. Snell sees the tension related to Kaepernick’s protest as symptomatic of the irritation people feel when histiocytoma dog paw America is asked to be who it claims to be histiocytoma dog paw on paper.
The Blackout NFL Now campaign urges men to boycott NFL histiocytoma dog paw football and spend that time mentoring young African American boys histiocytoma dog paw for the 17 weeks of NFL season. The idea has also caught on for women who have histiocytoma dog paw chosen to spend NFL football time working on mentorship with histiocytoma dog paw girls. Snell said he suspects the Trump administration was aware of histiocytoma dog paw the Blackout NFL Now effort when the President held a histiocytoma dog paw rally in Huntsville, in which he advocated firing NFL players who protest by histiocytoma dog paw kneeling. While unable to confirm exact numbers, Snell estimates that two-and-a-half years later there are still 50,000 who have boycotted the NFL and this has helped histiocytoma dog paw to decrease the viewership of NFL games for the last histiocytoma dog paw two years.
On a personal note, I was grateful that at #AGITATE2019 my concerns about the state of justice in the histiocytoma dog paw United States were validated repeatedly by spiritual leaders. The choice to hold #AGITATE2019 at Oakwood University on the weekend of November 8–10, was made, of course, long before there was talk of President Trump attending the histiocytoma dog paw Alabama/LSU football game in Tuscaloosa. The timing of both events unfolding concurrently added to my histiocytoma dog paw sense of surrealism.
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