Repentance and Resistance: 2018 Johnson Symposium

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We are living in a time of coarse inhumanity in the public square. Messages of fear, scarcity, and exclusion dominate the news and threaten to divide us. Many of us are deeply disturbed by the direction of public discourse. Others of us are more intimately affected; our lives, our families, and our way of life are endangered by the rhetoric and the regulations it emboldens.

As people of faith, we seek to resist what theologian Eric Barreto calls “the arrogations of the empire—the power to terrorize, to arrest the innocent, to refuse the refugee, to execute the powerless.” Our faith calls us to hear the cries and the hopes of our neighbors and be moved by them. In this moment in history, we pray that God will pry us off of dead center. For as German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once observed, “silence in the face of evil is evil itself…Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

To this end, the theme for this year’s Johnson Symposium is “Repentance and Resistance.” The evening will commence with a confession that throughout history the Christian community’s silence has too often amplified our neighbors’ suffering. We will then privilege the voices of Imam Asad Zaman and Rabbi Michael Latz, who will offer reflections on the current situation in the public square through the lenses of their respective faith traditions. Following their presentations, Senator John Marty will invite us to connect what we have heard with faith in action in the public square. Finally, we will invite all attendees to participate in a social media campaign that seeks to replace fear with love, scarcity with abundance, and exclusion with radical inclusion. (Don’t do social media? That’s okay. We’ll have something for you, too.)

Registration link: https://htlcmpls.org/registration/

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2163577527256252/

Cost: Sliding scale. (Participants are encouraged to donate $0-$30, based on what feels appropriate for their situation. No one will be turned away.) Net proceeds will be given to Minnesota Council of Churches.

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