The problem with me is that I take things seriously.
I don't read the history of a man like Akronite John Brown and just say, "Aw that's nice."
"John Brown advocated the use of armed insurrection to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States."
Let me say it another way: John Brown was going to kill your fucking ass for being a supporter of slavery. He was coming for you.
Did that catch your attention?
"Oh no! I can't stand swear words, Sage. It hurts my delicate sensibilities."
Do you know what hurts my sensibilities? That your sensibilities are hurt by a word but the act of allowing human beings to rot on the streets of Akron Ohio doesn't cause the same outrage.
I've been scolded for using swear words.
If there is a word that will jar you awake from this human rights atrocity we whitewash with the word "homelessness" then you better believe I'm going to FUCKING use it.
And grow up. You aren't 7. You are adults.
Children are getting shot in schools by other children and you want to talk to me about swear words?
You need to get a grip on the truth of the world we live in.
If swear words were the greatest disaster in America right now I'd gladly swear all day long.
I am what change looks like.
It's painful and gross and hard to look at.
If you think that the only reason we had slavery was because we weren't kind enough to slave holders you and I are not living in the same universe.
John Brown was dissatisfied with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement: "These men are all talk. What we need is actionâ€”action!"
While I am a nonviolent activist that doesn't mean we aren't going to get dirty along the way.
I am coming to break the very system that has somehow rationalized the acceptance of the third great wave of human rights atrocities in America. (Native Americans and Slavery being the other two.)
I am me. I am not you. I am not an organization. I am no one other than me.
I am being called to do this work. Without this work we will only ever put salve on a festering wound that is called homelessness. We must cut out all the infection first if we are ever to have any hope of ending the disease of homelessness.
Homelessness is fundamentally, absolutely abhorrently wrong. It deserves as much passion and fire and fierceness as any atrocity in our history.
The mere fact that people are telling me to stop using swear words while I'm fighting this inhumane cruelty is complete evidence that I'm not being loud enough. I'm not representing the brutal cruelty of American homelessness enough.
I don't know what you think God is, but let me reset that reality.
God is duality. God is contradiction. God is multiple things at once. God is the original superposition that we have come to learn to be the fundamental truth of our existence at the most basic level.
Superposition is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states at the same time until it is measured.
God is multiple things at once.
God is the lamb.
The lamb is a common metaphor for Jesus Christ, who is also called "The Lamb of God" in John 1:29.
William Blake wrote a poem about this. It's short. Here it is:
This is what most people want to see as God and Jesus. Someone who will love them and care for them and coddle them sweetly.
But God is also The Tyger. Here is William Blake's answer to his first poem: "The Lamb"
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
If you know me fully you know that I am both the lamb and the tyger.
You have seen me caring for people in the woods. You have seen me sheltering people in my backyard. You have seen me showing a considerable amount of respect to a group of people most other people hate.
But you also see me rage. You see me swear. You see me shout on street corners. You see me protesting. You see me seething with anger.
I often feel like I'm yelling into the abyss. Does anyone actually hear any word (other than a swear word) that I'm saying?
I am not coming as The Tyger out of fear and resentment. I am coming as The Tyger as a fire of change to a system that tortures American citizens.
This is what Christianity is.
You can choose to look at what you want. But this is the reality.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. Matthew 21:12
I suspect if I did this very thing in the horseshoe of the Akron City Council chambers you would condemn me and call me a tyrant.
We have whitewashed Jesus. We have wiped away his radical extremism and made him into a passive lamb. We have emasculated, sanitized and romanticized an extreme radical that was executed not because he told you to love your neighbor but because he came to destroy the whole damn system. (And not for nothing, he did. I don't know how many Roman gods you pray to these days but I don't pray to any.)
If anything I am here to remind you of the man you worship.
Jesus was the original gangster.
Jesus tears shit up.
He is not here to make you feel better about yourself.
He is not here to tell you everything will be alright and you should let the establishment roll over you.
He is here to radically transform the world. That's painful. That's brutal.
Jesus is a social justice radical.
Have you ever seen this poster:
This is a poster first produced in 1917 in New York. It was used at that time by the Workers Rights Movement â€” in other words, by those seeking justice and seeing in Jesus the example of an ally and advocate.
I don't know if you've been paying attention to any of the Black Lives Matter Christian protesters, but I'm here to tell you: they are loud, angry, rude and make shit inconvenient.
This picture is of activist and public theologian Rahiel Tesfamariam.
You can learn more about her here:
Americans (particularly white middle class Americans) have been lulled into a passive state of apathy. Netflix and Amazon have turned us into zombies. And Facebook has turned us into sniveling myopic crybabies unfriending anyone who doesn't agree with our every belief.
Our churches have abandoned the poor and the needy and the homeless in exchange for making bigger buildings.
I have been given an assignment by God to be a prophet. To be a truth teller.
I am not here to be a salesman, telling churches and the government that they are doing a wonderful job helping the poor and the homeless. That's a total lie. You know it and I know it.
The church of today is run by a bunch of men who have sanitized and domesticated a social radical by the name of Jesus. They have become passive and submissive and uncertain and compliant and complicit.
If you didn't want to be a part of a radical movement that began with a 2 year living protest created in the form of a homeless tent village to call out the atrocities of homelessness and now you're suddenly shocked, you haven't been listening this entire time.
I am here to break the system. Because the system is rotten to it's core. I always have been this person.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
I'm not sorry you are seeing me rage. I'm hoping it reminds you of who you are as an American who was born out of revolution and as a Christian who is trying to follow the words and deeds of the greatest radical social activist ever known in the history of humanity.
The featured image is from here:
Album Review: Everley - "The Tyger and the Lamb" - New Noise Magazine
If you are interested in learning more about Jesus as the activist here are a few articles on the topic: