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

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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.

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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
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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.

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
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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.

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.

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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.

Why Good Friday Is Good

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Dear friends,

Why is Good Friday good? Why should this dark day two thousand years ago still matter for contemporary people and world culture?

On Good Friday, Jesus embodied his most radical principle in the most devastating moment of his life: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27).

From the beginning of his career, Jesus taught that loving our enemies is the mark of spiritual perfection, because it reflects God’s unconditionally generous character (Matthew 5:45-48; Luke 6:35-36).

And unlike so many leaders, Jesus resisted hypocrisy when it cost him everything.

First, Jesus was arrested and condemned by a mob jury for his counter-cultural life. Second, Jesus was brutally tortured and viciously ridiculed without cause. Finally, Jesus was unjustly executed in the most humiliating and excruciating manner devised by the Roman Empire: naked crucifixion in public.

It’s difficult to imagine the raw physical pain and psychological torment Jesus suffered. But beyond the suffering of one innocent man, Christians believe that Jesus was the incarnation of God... 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.

Chosen: What Is the Bible’s Policy on Contagious Disease?

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Dear friends,

 

The two countries that I call home – Ethiopia and America – have something unusual in common: influential groups in both countries consider themselves to be God’s new Israel.

 

These groups tell epic narratives that describe themselves as God’s chosen people, and these stories fuel a powerful sense of national exceptionalism. Exceptionalism means a self-understanding of being different, favored, and specially protected by God.

 

In both countries, I often hear people proudly say things like, “This is Ethiopia!” or “This is America!” in response to problems affecting other societies. What they mean is that bad things can’t happen in such a chosen, God-favored land.

 

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fascinating to revisit the original instructions that God gave to the original Israel concerning contagious disease.

 

How did chosenness and illness interact?

 

Leviticus is one of the more boring and bizarre books in the Bible. But it has a striking relevance for today’s COVID pandemic because it is the primary place where the Bible addresses this problem of infectious disease... 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.

On Loss, Grief, and Healing

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Dear friends,

 

Many of us are walking through a season of grief. In this journey, On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler has been extremely helpful. Special thanks to Duane Grobman for helping me face my grief and to Garrett Dickens for recommending this book to me.

 

In this essay, I share eighteen of the insights that this process and this book have taught me. Some of these insights may be meaningful to you; some may not.

 

I hope reading this is useful for you in understanding and embracing your own grieving process and/or walking with a loved one in grief towards healing. I will not offer commentary on the quotations, but many of them are worth extended reflection.

 

  1. Many of us are “grief-illiterate” (xi).

 

I have discovered my own grief-illiteracy and the truth of these words: “We live in a new death-denying, grief-dismissing world now” (205).

 

In the Foreword, Maria Shriver brilliantly defines grief: “[Grief] is the opening up to the exquisite pain of absence... 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.

Faith and Science: Loving Our Neighbor During COVID-19

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Dear friends,

The caronavirus is revealing a theological crisis in popular Christianity.
Many believers think faith is above or even against science. Thus, they see special
hygiene and public health as unnecessary or even attacking the church. Instead, they say
we should simply pray and ignore practices like washing our hands and social distancing
as proof that we trust God.

But think of it like this.

Every Christian everywhere believes that God – not satan – created the world. The world
is God’s work. The very first verse of the Bible declares this. Paul said it like this: “For in
[Christ] all things were created…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-
17).

And this means that science is the study of God’s design. When we understand and
respect science, we understand and respect the way God made us and our world.
Science is spiritual.

Christians actually practice this every day. For example, we don’t jump off buildings
because we recognize gravity as part of God’s creation... 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.