The Face of God

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A friend recently asked me why I feel alive making peace and building bridges
between people.

His question caught me off guard and made me stop and think.

I believe every person is a precious diamond made and loved by God. The Bible
teaches that every person is an embodied reflection of their Creator (Genesis 1:26). To
see a person aright is to catch a glimpse of God.

But if there’s a wall between us, we can’t see that precious value.

When the walls come down and a bridge is built, we have the chance to move closer
and see one another’s profound beauty and complexity. Perhaps we even experience
the joyous shock of loving someone we were tempted to hate or of learning from
someone we thought was totally wrong.

My most poignant experiences of God have happened on these bridges, in these shaky
in-between places of peacemaking with others.

These moments always remind me of Jacob’s astonishing words after he saw a vision
of a bridge connecting heaven and earth: “God is in this place, and I didn’t know it”
(Genesis 28:10)... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Complexity: Our Opportunity and Challenge

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Dear friends,

Complexity is one of humanity’s greatest challenges and opportunities today.

Complexity comes from two Latin roots: com– meaning “with” and plectere meaning “to weave” or “braid.” Something complex is woven or braided together with multiple parts. Complexity isn’t simplistic or monolithic, which literally means “one rock.” Complexity involves multiplicity, which requires being able to recognize distinctions, interconnections, and ambiguities (having two or more interpretations).

Trees are complex: they have many different parts (roots, trunk, branches, leafs, fruit), many different textures (rock-hard, rough, soft, smooth), many different colors (brown, green, yellow, red), many different functions (oxygenation, habitat, shade, fruit, wood, art), and none of it can be seen, experienced, or understood all at once.

Lily and I experienced America’s complexity a few weeks ago.

One of our favorite traditions when we come home away from home — home is complex! — is having breakfast at Big Rock Cafe. The food is delicious and abundant. The restaurant is nestled in a picturesque neighborhood in the beautiful countryside of Illinois.

.. Read More
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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Ten Years of Marriage: The Gift of Difference

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Dear friends,

Lily and I got married ten years ago on July 8. It was the happiest day of my life, and that day has grown in happiness ever since — a ten-year-long day.

I love Lily far more today than I did, or even knew I could, ten years ago. How profoundly love deepens, expands, and changes us. Lily is the love of my life, my heart, my gift from heaven.

In our marriage, we have discovered how love binds us together in the beauty of our differences and makes us richer than we could ever be alone.

Lily and I were born citizens of different countries, Ethiopia and America.

We were born with different skin colors in different bodies, brown and white.

We grew up speaking different mother tongues, Amharic and English.

We were raised in different religious traditions and cultures, Orthodox and Evangelical.

We have different professional interests, the arts and ethics.

Lily and I are wildly different in so many ways... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Interview with Hachalu Hundessa: “Injustice Cannot Create Justice”

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Dear friends,

This is an especially joyful and heartbreaking week for Lily and me.

On Wednesday, we will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and God’s faithfulness to deepen our love across this last decade. Lily is God’s most precious gift in my life, and I cherish these ten years of marriage with her. Thank you for your friendship and support!

Meanwhile, last Monday night, the famous Oromo singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa was murdered in Addis Ababa. In the protests after his death, at least 166 Ethiopians have been killed, including Hachalu’s uncle, and prominent public figures have been jailed. There is a growing sense of fear, anger, and potential for further violence in the community. Rumors of civil war and ethnic cleansing have returned to Ethiopia.

For my response to the current crisis, please listen to my interview published today with Emnet Tegafaw on her podcast Under the Olive Tree. The English interview begins at minute 5:00.

I had the privilege of interviewing Hachalu on April 19, 2019 in Addis Ababa, and I believe his words carry enormous moral clarity and power for this heartbreaking moment in Ethiopia and around the world... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

The Common Good: An Identity of Hope

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When you are more, am I less?

When you are stronger, am I weaker?

When you flourish, do I become poorer?

Around the world today, we see that our identities have become competitive and conflictual. We construct our identities by defining (1) who we’re against, (2) how we’re superior, and (3) the struggle for dominance. This is identity by negation and a recipe for war.

The irony is that these apparently “strong” identities are actually weak. They are rooted in fear, poverty, and envy.

What I cherish about neighbor-love and the common good is that they energize positive, mutually enriching identities of hope.

When you are more, I am more.

When you are stronger, I am stronger.

When you flourish, I am enriched.

Loving my neighbor as my self means wishing for them what I wish for my self – love, justice, and flourishing. Here our good becomes common, something shared and mutually strengthening.

True identity is not a zero-sum game or a struggle for domination... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

“I Can’t Breathe”: The Spirituality and Politics of Breath

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In the Bible, breathing is sacred. Respiration is an act of experiencing God. God exhales and we come alive as divine oxygen fills our bodies. The Book of Numbers calls God “the God who gives breath” (Numbers 16:22; 27:16).

This sacred vision of breath is found throughout the Bible.

Genesis pictures our creation as a flow of breath from God into our bodies: “Then the Lord God formed a human from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

The suffering Job affirms this respiratory spirituality: “Life within me [is] the breath of God in my nostrils… The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 27:3; 33:4).

The prophet Isaiah imbeds our breath within its cosmic context: “The Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it…gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it” (Isaiah 42:5).

.. Read More
  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

For George Floyd

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Dear friends,

This week my newsletter is dedicated to our murdered neighbor George Floyd. I am calling for Christian families, churches, schools, and public leaders to recognize and resist on of the key roots of racism in America: Zionist political theology. Not all of my readers will agree with my analysis; as always, I thank you for stopping and thinking with me.

For George Floyd

White people killing black and brown people has been essential to America from the beginning. This violence isn’t accidental; it’s essential to white America’s Zionist political theology.

Notice how Moses describes the “promised land” or Zion as the Israelites prepared to conquer it over 3000 years ago:

“a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant… Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12, 18-19)

Did you catch that?

.. Read More
  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Anatomy of Hate

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Dear friends,

For the last month, I’ve been taking a crash course in hate. Strangers send me hateful messages and comments often several times a day. My social media has become a hate lab.

Here’s what I’m observing.

1. The essence of hate is the desire for the other not to exist. Hate may use language, exclusion, and/or force, but the core of hate is always the same: the desire for the other to disappear – whether through silencing, expelling, or killing. When someone says, “I hate you,” what they really mean is, “I wish you didn’t exist.”

2. The root of hate is fear. We heard it proclaimed in Charlottesville: “You will not replace us!” People who hate are afraid of being less than others or simply not being all there is. In this way, hate is a kind of optical illusion: it looks strong, but it is weak. It is fueled by a sense of insecurity and danger. The strong don’t need to hate; they have enough self-esteem to coexist with others... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Unity and Diversity are Neighbors: and So Are We

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Dear friends,

For new futures that make the best of our pasts, we must abandon the war-making violence of wanting others to disappear, whether by domination (fake-unity) or divorce (fake-diversity).

Against popular assumption, unity and diversity are not opposite but integral. This week, I’m sharing an article I wrote on the subject, published by Ethiopia Insight on April 26, 2020.

This article is a great place to start if you want to learn more about my work with the Neighbor-Love Movement.

Yours,

Andrew

Balinjeraye: Unity and Diversity Are Neighbors, and So Are We

Many people today assume that unity and diversity are enemies. For example, we often hear in politics and religion about the “pro-unity camp” and the “pro-diversity camp.” This binary metaphor pictures unity and diversity as armies on a battlefield struggling for domination.

But the truth is more interesting and challenging: unity and diversity are neighbors. They sustain one another and can’t live well without each other. Take a second look... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Dear Ethiopia

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Dear friends,

This week I’m sharing a letter from my heart to the beloved people of Ethiopia, but I think it will speak to readers around the world.

I have been receiving many hate messages and deaths threats in response to my work here, and this letter is written as a response to explain my mission. This letter is longer than my usual Stop & Think, so I thank you for your patience.

With deep gratitude for your love and support,
Andrew

 

Dear Ethiopia: My Unhidden Agenda

Suspicion of outsiders is common in Ethiopian culture. It exists in tension with Ethiopia’s celebrated tradition of hospitality.

This suspicion has deep historical roots.

For example, in the early 1600s, Jesuit missionaries briefly converted Ethiopia’s Orthodox ruler to Catholicism. In this moment, nationalism, religious zeal, and opposition to outsiders became woven together as one. Nation, religion, and independence interlocked. The then Ethiopia understood itself as a country under siege that needed to be protected against invaders... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.