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KTF Weekly Newsletter: The Best of KTF 2021
We hope you all had a great Christmas and a relatively restful week. We thought we would take this week to do a bit of a look back at the first full year of KTF’s work and feature some of your favorite things that we put out. We also got Jonathan, Sy, and Suzie to pick their favorite highlight from this year’s newsletters that was recommended by each of the other two.
First, the episode of Shake the Dust with the most listens was “Christian Counseling, Colonized Marriage, and White Seminaries with Kyle J. Howard” (by the way, Kyle’s podcast that he teased on that episode is now out and available here). The second was our intro episode, very closely followed by “Palestine, Solidarity, and Christian Zionism with Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac.”
Our most-read article from this year was Sy’s post on the legal fight around Christian foster care agencies refusing to license LGBTQ couples: “The Free Exercise of Idolatry.”
Jonathan’s favorite recommendations:
From Sy on May 27: What would you say was the largest protest during the civil rights movement in the US? It has to be the March on Washington, right? I’ll bet your guess isn’t the 1964 school boycott protesting segregation in New York City, but that is in fact the answer. Last year, journalist Channa Joffe-Walt put out a five-part podcast documentary called Nice White Parents, which uses the history of one school in Brooklyn to tell a story that is in part about the way that New York City has for decades evaded any sort of accountability for its obviously segregated school system. Central to this story are the good, liberal, white parents who believe strongly in equality right up until they face the prospect of other people’s children getting the same education — in the same schools — as theirs. Joffe-Walt is a great storyteller, and this is absolutely worth your time.
From Suzie on June 3: 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.
Suzie’s favorite recommendations:
From Sy on April 29: Last week’s episode of the podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered featured Hill’s interview with her friend and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza. This is a great opportunity for Christians to break the habit of listening to other Christians talk about BLM and to exercise the love of neighbor that it takes to hear people on their own terms. Besides, the conversation is fascinating. Garza talks about why the Black civil rights movement shifted out of the Black church, and some of the effects of that move. She also shares wise words on the particulars of grassroots movement leadership, including how she sets her legislative agenda on the actual stated priorities of Black people, not the “chattering class” of political commentators, how she handles a wide range of disagreements among people within the movement, and why she left BLM. Notes: The first six minutes or so are a bittersweet tribute to the late DMX which is definitely also worth a listen.
From Jonathan on May 13: It is difficult to imagine a world where whiteness is not the standard by which all people are measured. Independent, self-sufficient, idealized masculinity embodied in fair skin, no matter the profession, field, position, or place, is the ultimate goal and mark of success in the United States. If that standard is removed, for someone like me, it is hard to know what is an objective good, just, true, and beautiful thing. I have been formed this way and I suspect many of you reading this have been as well. This is where After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging by Rev. Dr. Willie James Jennings is a unique and precious gift. He is an Associate Professor at Yale Divinity School and former Associate Professor and academic dean at Duke Divinity School. His invitation to rigorously interrogate the process of discipleship to root out white supremacy while inviting us into intimacy with God, one another, and the faith we hold dear, is wonderfully challenging and affirming. We’ve already mentioned Dr. Jennings on the podcast, and we will again. So this is a great place to get started familiarizing yourself with his work.
Sy’s Favorite recommendations:
From Jonathan on June 24: Esau McCauley’s Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope is a powerfully effective effort at saying “no” to the idolatry of white theology and culture. More importantly, McCauley accomplishes this without counter-formation, which is seeking to form ourselves while still using an idol we’ve rejected as our negative point of reference. Christ and his supremacy should be the point of reference and reverence. This book will be a primer for the next generation to engage with scripture from the perspective of someone who does not allow whiteness to have any power to define.
From Suzie on September 16: In an era of virtue signaling, it’s easy to get away with saying the right things without putting the values we espouse into action. Practicing what we preach must include critically examining the policies that shape our neighborhoods and cities and playing a prophetic role in reshaping what is not in line with the rule and reign of Christ. Along those lines, this recent Atlantic article does a good job of calling out the hypocrisy of progressive communities that claim to welcome refugees while failing to address the real challenges that refugees face upon arrival— like a lack of affordable housing. As the authors, Darrell Owens and Muhammad T. Alameldin, rightly state, “housing affordability is refugee policy.”
We say this a lot, but thank you all so much for your support! We couldn’t do this without you, and a year ago, we had no idea where we would be with KTF Press today. We are so grateful for all we have been able to accomplish, and please do pray with us that this upcoming year will see more and more people dedicating their discipleship and political engagement to Jesus rather than empire.
Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next week, and Happy New Year!
The KTF team