“Saved by Faith and Hospitality”: A Brief Assessment

My post-Christmas reading is another excellent text on theological ethics and anthropology,  “Saved by Faith and Hospitality” by Joshua Jipp

“The God of the Christian Scriptures is a God of hospitality, a God who extends hospitality to his people and who requires that his people embody hospitality to others. Stated simply, God’s hospitality to us is the basis of our hospitality to one another. God’s relationship to his people is fundamentally an act of hospitality to strangers, as God makes space for “the other,” for his people, by inviting humanity into relationship with him. This experience of God’s hospitality is at the very heart of the church’s identity. We are God’s guests and friends. And it is because of God’s extension of hospitality and friendship to us that the church can offer hospitality to one another and to those seemingly outside the reach of our faith communities. Just as God extends welcome and  hospitality toward his people, so also God’s people extend hospitality to one another, and as we imitate  God, we offer hospitality–particularly to “the other,” the one who is not like us, the one outside.” –Joshua Jipp

I love when a Biblical scholar or theologian writes with great theological precision and conviction, and with the church in mind.
My personal position on theology is that good theological doctrines and beliefs should constructively transform the theologian himself, on both moral ground and ethical praxis,  in the same way these shared theological beliefs and traditions should influence the church to change toward an alternative way to living and embodying the Gospel.

In the spirit of Jipp’s text, contemporary churches in America and Evangelical Christians need to practice and live the Gospel of faith and the Gospel of hospitality, because “God’s hospitality creates a community that embodies hospitality in its practices and also in its composition.” When that happens, contemporary American churches and Evangelical Christians would be able to overcome tribalism, xenophobia, greed, racism, bullying, hypocrisy, etc.

One of the major problems in the church today is the absence (or the  lack of) of a  biblically-rooted ethical system and its ignorance of a  biblically-centered moral virtues, both in life and practice. The American church is and has been trapped in an ethical system and cultural worldview that promote and sustain aggressive capitalism, militarism,  inclusive nationalism, anti-Gospel public policies, aggressive immigration policies, and a politically-charged ethical framework  that leads to social death and correspondingly, one that is  against the poor, the fatherless,  the widow,  the immigrant, and the  economically-disadvantaged individuals and families in our society.

The Gospel is more than a set of beliefs and theological propositions followers of Jesus Christ embrace; real and existential life issues are integral in the Good news of God revealed in the pages of Christian Scriptures and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The demands of the Gospel are radical requests that invade every sphere of human existence–the cultural, political, economic, the educational, and the moral life.

“Saved by Faith and Hospitality” is a must-read book that  I  recommend to every Christian minister, pastor, and church leader. Every church should own a copy of this book. It can be used  in small group settings. There are reflective and practical questions at the end of every chapter to generate (moral, ethical, and responsible) Gospel-centered conversations on the subject covered in the chapter.

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Coffee and Chat at Jesus Center

Morning Chat and Coffee/Tea at Jesus Center

I’m going to be in the church’s office this morning for pastoral counseling and prayer (10:00 am to 2:00 pm). if anyone  wants to stop by to chat or for some coffee, please do so.

I would be happy to see you.

Jesus Center Community Church 

4146 Okeechobee Rd.

Unit 72.

Fort Pierce, Florida 

Jesuscentercc@gmail.com
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor Joseph

Healthcare and its Unfair Cost: What Shall the Poor Do? How Shall they live?

Healthcare and its Unfair Cost: What Shall the Poor Do? How Shall they live?

Let’s talk about healthcare and its inhumane cost in this country.

I was talking to a friend of mine last week. He asked me how much do you pay for health insurance  at your job. I told him almost $ 700.00 a month, just for me, which does not include my wife and our four children. I told him to be exact I pay $ 334.89 semi-monthly, which covers medical ($313.50), dental ($10.75), vision ($ 3.38), life insurance ( $ 10.64).

On the other hand, at her job, my wife pays about $ 600.00 every two weeks; the coverage includes our four children, not me.

I said to him: dude, we pay $ 1600 a month for just health coverage, which estimates to $ 19, 200 a year. ( He was incredibly shocked) This almost $ 20, 000 my family pays annually for healthcare. How can anyone save any money?

Do you see why our  healthcare  system must change for  individuals and families in this country? The cost for American healthcare is not only immoral, it is devastating for the American poor and dangerously sinful. Life necessities like healthcare is probably worst for the American poor and underrepresented families in this country. How shall the working class and underclass live in this country. ( Do you understand the implication why the American poor and working class American patients with high-risked and life-threatening diseases such as (terminal) cancer, HIV AIDS die quickly because they can’t afford the ridiculous cost of the medical treatment.) Do you also see the implication of that and how unfair public policies could be detrimental to the well-being of  the American poor, the underclass, and those living in the margins of society?  Those in the capacity to serve the American public in the government and have the privilege to make laws and regulate public policies must think critically about the possible outcome and implications of their actions and bill execution;  particularly, they should be concerned about how their actions could help alleviate the suffering of the poor and the working class as well as contribute to the human flourishing in this society or contribute to a more difficult life for them.

As Paulo Freire has stated int the “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (1968), “Love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause-like the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical. As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental; as an act of freedom, it must not serve as a pretext for manipulation. It must generate other acts of freedom; otherwise, it is not love. Only abolishing the situation of oppression it it possible to restore to the love which that situation made impossible. ” The most effective way a public servant and politician could show love in the public is to do justice to the American poor and working class. Be the voice of the voiceless and the fatherless, the widow, the marginalized, the oppressed, the hungry, the naked— even when  you are behind the closed doors making important decisions for this country.

No wonder even those of us with reasonably well-paid careers and professions in this country could easily die poor and live pay check by pay check. Unfair public policies are detrimental to the well-being of those living in the margins in this country; they contribute more suffering and a hard life for the American poor and the working class. We must have a heart for the poor and be moved by compassion when reaching out to them; solidarity with the poor and defending the rights of the least among us is nothing less than the good news announced to them. We can no longer ignore the suffering and pain of those who live a block down from us, even those who are not  members of our social and educated class.

*** Last year, I went to the  (for 3 wisdom teeth) done.( I don’t like gaps in the back of my mouth. Lol)  With my insurance, they asked me to pay $2600 in addition to what my dental plan will cover.

***Now, you know the reason why I am a  poor professor and poor pastor (razè in Haitian Creole; broke in American English), but I still manage to wear a bow tie to work every day  🙂

Guess what? I am not going to complain. I’m thankful that the great Lord has blessed me and my wife with a job and always provides for our needs despite the odds of this life.

Just wanted to share this thought with you.

The Great Moral Crisis in the American Society

Three big issues weakening American Democracy and American Religious Life today:

1. The  prominence of sexual sin in public offices.

2. The prominence of sexual sin in American (Cultural) Evangelicalism.

3. The close  rapport  between contemporary American politics and contemporary American Evangelical Culture through active participation in sexual transgressions and shared political worldviews.

Hence, sexual sin has become the new unifying link  between religion and politics in American society. This is a great moral crisis in today’s culture that continues to have a tremendous impact on political leadership, family dynamics, relationships at the workplace, and human relationships in churches.

Friends (i.e.male friends): Please guard your  heart💓; cultivate pure motives and  intentions toward the opposite/same sex; and keep your hands to yourself!

A Very Troubled American Christianity

In this country, once a politician claims to be an Evangelical or a Christian, the character, actions, and political views and policies of that individual do not matter. Unfortunately, American Evangelicalism/Christianity has become a smokescreen for sexual predators, womanizers, rapists, racists, pedophiles, anti-poor and anti-immigrant advocates.

What has happened to the (Virtue) ethics of Christ in American Christianity?

As a follower of Christ and minister, I’m deeply troubled about the current state and future of Christianity in America and American Evangelicalism

“Viv Manno Charlemagne, Long Live the Haitian Poor”

My tribute to Emmanuel “Manno” Charlemagne is published in L’ union Suite.

“Viv Manno Charlemagne, Long Live the Haitian Poor”

Haiti has lost one of the most important human rights advocates, freedom fighters, public intellectuals, and anti-dictator and American Empire thinkers in the second half of the twentieth-century. Emmanuel Charlemagne (1948-2017) was a political activist and gifted musician who sang boldly the resilience and hope of the Haitian people in the midst of political tragedy and despair, cultural alienation, and imperial interruptions.

As a young man growing up in Haiti, it was through Manno’s musical lyrics that I learned about America’s hegemony in the world and the danger of the American empire, and global capitalism. I learned about the corruption, abuses, and false promises of Haitian government. Manno also taught me about the long-suffering and courage of the Haitian people; through his lyrics, I became aware of the importance of democracy and justice, and the ethics of individual responsibility and collective mobilization toward human flourishing and the common good in the Haitian society. Consider the following verse from the album “La Fimen” (The Smoke) (1994), in which Manno laments about the state of the Haitian society and failure of the Haitian state after 200 years of independence:

Dwa de lòm se konsa l rele

Lamayòt pou ti moun fronte

Apre 200 zan sa n regle

Nèg vle fè n konnen ke solèy se Bondye

Men dyab la ap vini pa pale

Labib son w bagay ki sakre

Yon patay ki pa byen regle

Blan yo pran tè ya

Yo bann bib la n aksepte tande

 

Correspondingly, as an anticolonial thinker, Manno confronts white supremacy and colonization with poetic rigor and aggressiveness: “Blan yo pran tè ya /Yo bann bib la n aksepte tande.” The white man took the land and gave us the Bible, and he forced it upon us.

In his revolutionary song, “Oganizasyon Mondyal,” Manno denounces the global class systems and the dominant class that exploits the underclass and mistreats the wretched of the earth. Not only, Manno makes a clarion call to the people (“Lè pèp anba zam tout peyi tout kote”) revolt against the various groups, forces, and institutions that oppress the poor and common people, he informs us the goal of the dominant class is to destroy and kill.

 

Laklas dominant entelijan ke l ye

An prensip konnen ke l an minorite

L konn ki jan pou l jwe

Pozisyon de klas li se sa ki konte

La fè lenposib la kraze la brize

Pou l elimine ti moun ki lan ze

Nap goumen jouk mayi mi jouk tan nou libere

Pran konfyans lan lit lòt pèp yo ki pa pè tonbe

Delivrans yo se jefò yo lan san ki ap koule

Grenn doktè ta vle preskri yo voye sa jete

For Manno, the Haitian people must continue to fight until they all become free, yet their freedom is in their shed blood. Freedom is costly, and liberty demands the collective sacrifice of the people. Through his revolutionary songs, Manno spoke about the predicament of the Haitian poor and working class and defended their right of existence and freedom, and correspondingly, their right to work and harvest the fruit of their own labor.  He awakened the consciousness of the Haitian Youth in the second half of the twentieth-century. I was young (perhaps 9 or 10 yrs. old) and did not understand fully all you were singing about, but somewhat I understood that you were speaking truth, beauty, justice, and love, and the power to the Haitian people and self-agency for the Haitian poor and oppressed class. In “Banm Yon Ti Limyè” (1990), Manno’s cri de coeur for justice, equality, and a better life for all Haitians challenge the powers and political authorities that sustain the suffering and domination of the Haitian people:

Ban m yon ti limyè mèt

Ban m yon ti limyè pou m wè sa k’ap pase

Ban m yon ti limyè mèt

Ban m yon ti limyè souple pou m ka wè

 

Poukisa se nèg yo fè soufri

Poukisa se nèg yo fè sòt

Poukisa nèg paka manje

Poukisa yo mande lanmò

In this lyric, Manno is in the search to find light (limyè) or to be enlightened about the living conditions of black people in the world. He articulates the international suffering and plight of black people in a series of provocative questions:

Why are the black people suffering?

Why can they find food?

Why are they asking for death?

Manno: You championed the cause of the Haitian poor and oppressed, and the victims of the Duvalier regime and Haitian bourgeoisie and political elite class. You advocated total justice in the Haitian civil and political society. You portrayed yourself as the voice for the voiceless and through your songs, you raised the Haitian consciousness about the plight of the Haitian people and underrepresented Haitian families, and the miscarriage of justice in our society and in the world.

Manno: You were also my historian; from you, I became acquainted with a host of Haitian freedom fighters, both Haitian men and women, and was aware of the infinite worth of our glorious Haitian revolution and national heroes and heroines, and the imperative for us to plan collaboratively our future and destiny, and to live together as a people and as a nation.

May You never die in the hearts of the Haitian people!
May the Haitian soul never forget your revolutionary songs of freedom and justice you wrote on their behalf!

Ban m yon ti limyè souple

Ban m yon ti limye tonè

Ban m yon ti limyè