Putting Christ Back in Xmas

blackjesusSanta Claus, the Great Lie at the heart of the American Dream, is symbolic of what’s wrong with America. Children are told, If you’re nice and do what you’re told, you’ll get the gift you want. But if you’re naughty and act outside the norm, good luck. As adults, we learn: if you want a gift or a card, you have to give one. Xmas love is a transaction.

The hypocrisy is boundless. You meet up with relatives you ignore or detest throughout the year and act nice. You obey rules that prohibit authenticity, like “no politics.” You smile and joke and tell stories and go home thinking, Well, that wasn’t too bad.

The season is defined by shopping. After the Church co-opted St. Nick to seduce the masses, Nick has returned the favor with a vengeance. The celebration of the birth of Jesus has become an orgy of selfish materialism. WIIFM, the Internet acronym for What’s In It For Me, sums up modern life. It’s the mantra that complements the lie that both Michelle Obama and Melania Trump tell children: You can grow up to be whatever you want to be. The corollary to that deception is: you get what you deserve.

All that socializing contradicts the teachings of Jesus, who said:

  • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
  • What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
  • Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.

As Bob Dylan said, These days “not much is really sacred.”

When times are tough, I turn for guidance and inspiration to Howard Thurman’s classic book, Jesus and the Disinherited. No wonder Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried it with him when he traveled. It’s a wonderful self-help manual for activists!

Thurman affirms:

  • [The] universality that makes all class and race distinctions impertinent…,
  • …the simple practice of brotherhood…[with which we] treat others…as human beings,
  • …the human family [in which each stands] in immediate candidacy for the profoundest fellowship, understanding, and love…, and each person meets the other where he is.

Concerning noxious collaborators with oppressors like tax collectors, he says, “To love them means to recognize some deep respect and reverence for their persons,” though “to love them does not mean to condone their way of life.”

Even with the Roman conquerors, Thurman insisted, “To love the Roman meant first of all to lift him out of the general classification of enemy. The Roman had to emerge as a person…”

For Thurman, the starting point is:

The underprivileged must himself be status free…. Love is possible only between two freed spirits…. There cannot be too great insistence on the point that we are here dealing with a discipline, a method, a technique, as over against some form of wishful thinking or simple desiring…. Such a technique may be found in the attitude of respect for personality.

Does love require “ignoring the fact” that the other has a particular status? Thurman answers:

Hardly. For lack of a better term, an ‘unscrambling’ process is required. [Otherwise] the ultimate fate of the relationship seems to be in the hands of the wider social context. It is necessary, therefore, for the privileged and the underprivileged to work on the common environment for the purpose of providing normal experiences of fellowship…. This cannot be discovered in a vacuum or in a series of artificial or hypothetical relationships. It has to be in a real situation, natural, free.

That perspective reminds me of Buber: As individuals, we can be available for an I-Thou encounter, but for it to happen, it must be mutual.

These reflections lead me to conclude:

  • If one fully embraces love, that compassion automatically leads to opposing racism, classism, sexism, and other similar forms of oppression.
  • Without being blind to color, class, gender, and the other specific characteristics of the unique person we encounter, we can set aside those labels, which are drilled into us by society, and be ready to relate heart-to-heart.
  • When we express our deepest beliefs, it is not necessary to spell out specific examples, such as instances of racism and sexism, that clarify what we affirm, though doing so can help clarify our meaning.
  • One can fully recognize specific instances of oppression while at the same time seeing them as examples of broader systemic oppression: the urge to climb the social ladder.
  • All of this requires many-sided awareness, the ability to see reality from various points of view simultaneously, rather than embracing dogma and ideology.

So, on this Christmas Day, 2016, I ignore Xmas and appreciate what I have learned from Jesus: Without crucifixion there is no resurrection. Or, as Bob said, he not busy being born is busy dying.

I would rather participate in a community that celebrates the Solstice.

Email to the #LoveArmy


Dear Van, Dream Corps, and the #LoveArmy

Thanks much for today’s report. I’m glad to hear that 60,000 people have already signed up for the #LoveArmy.

In reply to your request, I would like to see the #LoveArmy:

  1. Organize Congressional Action Teams. Based in each Congressional district, #LoveArmy teams engage regularly with their Congressperson’s staff, develop relationships with them, brainstorm possibilities together, and communicate #LoveArmy recommendations to them when the #LoveArmy develops such recommendations.
  2. Convene Community Dialogues with Elected Officials. Persuade elected officials and/or their chiefs of staff to convene open-ended monthly Community Dialogues to receive input from and report to constituents. Structure those forums to insure that the official does not dominate them. Use an outside moderator.
  3. Unlearn negative conditioning. The #LoveArmy needs to encourage its members to engage in critical self-examination and support one another in efforts to overcome tendencies that undermine effectiveness. As you said years ago at an Alternet.org book release party, Van, “We need to be less pro-fessional and more confessional.”\
  4. Develop a positive vision for systemic reform. Interest in “the system” is increasing. But when most people talk about the system, they usually only talk about the economy and the government. My colleagues and I are developing a more comprehensive analysis that sees the System as consisting of all of our major institutions, our culture, and ourselves as individuals. From that perspective, we present a path to systemic transformation. We welcome help with writing our statement of principles, “Transform the System: A Call to Action.” The latest draft will always be at https://goo.gl/fSX9Cc.

Those are some suggestions for your consideration off the top of my head.

I look forward to contributing to the #LoveArmy as best I can. Next Tuesday I’m hoping a Circle of like-minded people comes together with me as a participant.

Please let me know if you have other ideas concerning how I might help.

Wade Hudson

Van Jones Launches #LoveArmy

vanFor many years, I’ve been looking for a holistic community focused on national policy that I could join. During those years, I’ve encouraged Van Jones and others to organize one. Now Van, the prominent CNN commentator and long-term organizer, has launched the #LoveArmy and I’m jazzed!

It’s very close to what I’ve been proposing. I no longer have to try to help start one myself!

My Bay Area friends who want to participate in a #LoveArmy Circle with me are invited to let me know. Folks outside the Bay Area are encouraged to form their own.

Here’s the #LoveArmy description of a Circle:

#LoveArmy Circles are groups of 2 or more people working together to solve our common problems. You take action in your own way, on a local level. We provide structure, support, and keep you connected to a large community of people doing similar work. To be part of Dream Corps’ #LoveArmy Circles, all you have to do is bring two or more people together and stay connected to the Dream Corps.

#LoveArmy Circles can be a group of friends, a few colleagues, an existing book club, moms group, or study group, a civic organization, your family, a collection of neighbors, etc. Some of you may build on existing groups and others may pull together something new for the first time. All are welcome no matter your background, political leaning, or experience.

Get together in these small circles regularly – it could be once a week or once a month. Whatever works for you. Then, each month, we’ll come together in a virtual meeting to learn from each other, share ideas and coordinate our efforts.

The #LoveArmy is a Dream Corps project, whose home page highlights “LOVE + POWER,”  which probably refers to Dr.King’s famous statement, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

The #LoveArmy clearly envisions taking collective action. One of the three forms of involvement they list is “Love in Action,” which is described as “coming soon.” And on their invitation to join, they declare, “Join the #Love Army: Fight Different. … We will be coordinating regular actions and bringing people together in large and small gatherings.”

The #LoveArmy’s parent organization is the Dream Corps, whose Core Values are:

SOLUTIONS: We advance solutions that inspire action, serve justice, and improve people’s lives. Our solutions honor life and amplify the voices of those left behind in the current system. By turning to each other, instead of on each other, we act in solidarity, create unlikely partnerships and open unexpected doors.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP: We lead with empathy. We are committed to the growth and well-being of all people, especially the marginalized and mistreated. We see personal transformation and systemic transformation as interlinked and interdependent. We serve a movement that extends far beyond our own organization. We are committed to creating the conditions for all people to be free.

SOUL: We cultivate presence, conviction, and love. How we do what we do matters. Authenticity, depth, and passion matter. We celebrate culture and creativity. We honor the immeasurable. We operate from a place of fierce and unconditional love that is rooted in relationship and connection. We believe in magic. We are awake and alive in this work.

I italicized those two sentences — “We see personal transformation and systemic transformation as interlinked and interdependent….How we do what we do matters.” — because they strike me as particularly important.

The #LoveArmy website declares:

We’re approaching not only a new year, but a new era. The stakes are high. Many of us feel disconnected, disoriented, and dispirited.

The #LoveArmy will come together to make sure everyone knows they are not alone, and that if we stand together, we are powerful.

This is the moment to see ourselves as leaders!


I am!