KTF Weekly Newsletter: Right and Wrong Reparations, Horrific History, Not Dead Yet 

June 3, 2021

Hi everybody, 

This is one of our occasional free newsletters. To get the weekly newsletter, other writing from the KTF team, and bonus episodes of our podcast (like the one coming out tomorrow), click here to subscribe. Subscriptions also support the regular free, weekly podcast episodes and our future book projects.

Alright, here we go with this week’s resources to help us leave colonized faith for the Kingdom of God… 

Jonathan’s recommendations:

  • Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the scriptures say. A year after the murder of George Floyd, we are called back to what now feels like a memorial, an Ebenezer of sorts to remind us of how God continues to carry us through the pain, struggle, and mess of every day. USA Today invited 29 leaders to share their thoughts and I hope that it ushers you into fresh lament and confession that you might be blessed into the divine work of reconciliation. 

  • As we reckon with the racist, violent history of the United States, there seems to be opportunity for reparation. This repentance is biblical, for the collective and the individual (Sy would like to butt in here and cite Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson’s new book, Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair). Virginia Theological Seminary is setting a powerful precedent by paying money to the descendants of slaves and laborers from the Jim Crow era who worked at the school. They are pursuing what Zacchaeus did when he looked at what he was a part of and said, “I need to give back what was taken.” This program of cash payments is modest and likely the first of its kind, but it is certainly not the first time Western countries have given out monetary reparations. In fact, reparations are seen frequently throughout history, but they went to the oppressors, their descendants, and their national governments who lost colonies. The University of Connecticut’s Thomas Craemer has written a  powerful essay about reparations from Haiti to France, the UK’s payments to its wealthiest slaveholders, and, of course, the United States’ own reparations after the Civil War. So much for reparations being too complicated to work…  

Suzie’s recommendations:

  • It feels impossible to adequately grieve or even grapple with the horrific discovery of a mass grave for 215 indigenous children adjacent to one of Canada’s former residential schools. Yet, as Canadian Christian author Sarah Bessey reflects, this recent revelation is by no means shocking to the communities who have long been haunted by the intergenerational trauma caused by these institutions. Nor is it something that can be neatly relegated to the past. While systems of dark dehumanization may evolve over time, they are ongoing, and this is a sinister truth that Christians must actively confront and lament. Moreover, white Christians must repent of such atrocities as products of the deadly white supremacy in which we are all, on some level, complicit. Even as Canada and the world mourns this latest evidence of indigenous genocide, this week the United States marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, yet another chilling example of state-sanctioned violence against BIPOC. These events were not that long ago. Survivors are still alive today. And both nations have a long way to go towards achieving true justice on behalf of the victims and making reparations for the damage that remains. 

  • For those who seek to deepen their understanding of the recent spate of violence in Israel and Palestine, NPR’s Throughline released an excellent podcast last week that delves into the history of Palestine specifically through the lens of the issue of settlements. Throughout the interview, Columbia University historian Rashid Khalidi provides lucid and sharp insight into current events. The episode is both expansive and accessible, incorporating direct quotes from crucial primary documents, references to key instruments of international law, and moving personal narrative.      

Sy’s recommendations:

  • To follow up on our bonus podcast episode on Trafficking in Traumatic Testimony, take a look at Princeton professor Dr. Imani Perry’s article in The Cut about Samaria Rice’s frustration with all the people who have sought to profit and build their profile using the death of her son, Tamir. Dr. Perry also took the time to consider her own participation in the exploitation of other people’s pain. On a similar theme, writer Bethany Marcel wrote an incredibly deep and vulnerable essay sharing her thoughts about how and when authors can tell their own stories of trauma (content warning on this one for trauma-related mental health symptoms and a brief discussion of sexual violence). 

  • Once again, a bill to legalize assisted suicide is in front of a major legislative body, and once again, disabled people everywhere oppose it. The British Parliament is the legislature this time. For a very good starter on learning about why the disability rights movement is so against these laws, read this article by disabled member of the House of Lords, Baroness Jane Campbell. The article is on the website of an anti-assisted suicide organization called Not Dead Yet, which you should also take time to explore. They do necessary, persistent work to keep disabled people alive, and they’re quite good at it. 

Shake the Dust preview

Tomorrow’s episode of Shake the Dust is an interview with Irene Cho, the founder and CEO of a new urban, Christian leadership training company, The In Between. Irene is a deeply empathetic and thoughtful person who talked to us about her company, her powerful approach to youth ministry, what it looks like for people to help steward the trauma of their communities, and a whole lot of other leadership wisdom. Because Irene generously gave us so much of her time, subscribers are going to have access to an extended cut of the interview as a bonus episode. 

Thanks so much for reading, and we’ll see you next week! 

The KTF team