Monday, May 08, 2017

F Willis Johnson - Holding Up Your Corner

Holding Up Your Corner: Talking about Race in Your Community by F. Willis Johnson on Amazon. Pastor Johnson currently leads Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson, MIssouri, and serves as Vosburgh Visiting Professor of Ministry and Social Engagement at Drew Theological School.

You also can find Holding Up Your Corner as a standalone website.

Holding Up Your Corner book cover"Every issue is not our fault, but every issue of injustice, indifference, and oppression is our fight." Is Holding Up Your [Our] Corner mostly about inspiration, about practice, about God in the Spirit creating justice and safety for every human, health and well-being for all creation? Yes. And then some.

#Ferguson has become a buzzword for the worst racial profiling and resulting inequality, but Johnson explains assumptions people [you, me, everyone everywhere] necessarily make, prejudices they almost instinctively have about all those "others" in our lives are almost inevitable, because human brains operate by organizing and categorizing information and experiences. So the author constantly reminds us guesses about, even negative reactions to others tend to be value-neutral; what we "do with them" is the clincher. The social scientist construct of race dominates Holding Up Your Corner, but otherness includes any human with characteristics I don't possess, you don't happen to have.

I wouldn't quite call Holding Up Your Corner a handbook, a guidebook, or a collection of case studies, either. Though its 115 pages includes brief aspects of all those, it's not extensive enough or sufficiently comprehensive to serve as an model for activism and results. More than anything it excites and encourages Jesus' 21st century disciples and anyone else to "hold up their corner," a phrase derived from the gospel story in Mark 2:1-12 of the four guys who picked up the paralytic's cot and imaginatively figured out ways to bring the paralyzed guy into Jesus' presence. A lonely only person could not have done that on their own, but along with strategically positioned others, the person on that corner helped achieve the goal. That narrative from Jesus' earthly ministry opens chapter 2 that's about Empathic Models of Transformation—would you believe abbreviated EMT? To activate that model we need to Acknowledge – Affirm – Act in ways that affirm the Imago Dei – the image of the divine – in every human person.

Because Johnson's book is short enough and direct enough for everyone to read, I won't detail more of the contents. But I'll enthusiastically recommend this basic book, the related digital and print resources on pages 108 to 111, along with leader and participants guides for churches, other organizations, and anyone who wants to learn more and act more effectively. Remember, given the complexities of life, most of the inequality among others truly is not my fault or your fault, but responding to God's call through the Spirit of life to help create vibrant, life-giving and world-enhancing equalities is everyone's responsibility. "Every issue is not our fault, but every issue of injustice, indifference, and oppression is our fight," and like the pebble cast into the pond, even our seemingly tiny changes of attitude and minuscule actions are synergistic, adding up to more than the sum of their individual components.

My Amazon Review: for intelligent, empathetic activism

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