Writings

Building Sanctuary for ALL

An article I wrote for the United Church of Christ, reflecting on the Sanctuary Movement (University Church, where I pastor, is also a Sanctuary congregation), and how we need to expand that movement in deeper ways. http://www.ucc.org/building_sanctuary_for_all

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Being Hip-Hop, Being Job, and Being

An article I wrote for the University of Chicago’s Sightings publication…about, well, the title says it. Job is a book that resonates in a lot of who I am. “Being Hip-Hop, Being Job, and Being” https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/being-hip-hop-being-job-and-being

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Laquan and Woodrow Wilson: A Case for Horrific Images

***ORIGINALLY POSTED on HUFFINGTON POST on 11.25.15*** Note: This post contains graphic imagery that may be disturbing to some readers. Two seminal moments have happened almost concurrently within the past couple of days; so fast is the news cycle that we almost didn’t notice. Both were huge victories and both instantly created polarizing opinions and heated…

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When Pastors Become Janitors: Tyshawn Lee and Beyond

***Originally posted on Huffington Post on 11.11.2015*** Tyshawn Lee’s funeral was this past Tuesday. He was nine years old, and gunned down on the Southside of Chicago on November 2, execution-style, allegedly by his father’s rival gang. Depending on your news source, some say his death was not random, but he was lured into the…

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Don’t Push Me: My Bully Story

I wrote “Don’t Push Me” because I remember — too well — going to school and being called “blockhead”… …being super light-skinned and having a nice round head, and basically having my name changed to “Casper”… …or my first bully, Shermar, from 6th grade. Every time he saw me, he would push me out of…

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The State of the Union is like Wrestling, and Other Truths

In all likelihood, you just watched the State of the Union address, and one of three things is happening inside your beautiful mind: You want to talk about it more with people who share your opinion, -or- You have no opinion and came to the internet to find one, -or- You came to argue. There…

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85 Seconds: The Story of a (Quitting) Marathoner

THE STARTING LINE Why did I start running? About 12 years ago, a cardiologist told me that he was sick of being a doctor… No, that’s not what happened. About 12 years ago, I started feeling dizzy at a club in downtown Atlanta. It was my freshman year at Morehouse College, and I did what…

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“Of Horses and Foxes: Chicago’s Next Move”

CHICAGO – May 13, 2014 When the Chicago Community Trust called and asked me to help moderate one of their “On the Table”discussions happening around the city, I wanted to know more about my audience and whether this would be a conversation worth moving out of bed on my day off. Our beloved city is known…

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LENT: Journey to Freedom

It takes no strength to give up, to accept shackles of soul, to shrug the shoulder in bland acquiescence. This is easy. But do not congratulate yourself that you have solved anything. These are the words of Howard Thurman, whom I hold in the highest regard. In many ways these are also the words of…

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Growing Up on Being Gay (a tale of evolution from a straight man)

***A few weeks ago, I did a sermon that mulled over the following question: “What is the difference between a disagreement, a debate, and an argument?” Whatever you read below is my attempt at following my own ethics. We will disagree on this*** Yesterday, University of Missouri football player Michael Sam came out as gay, and…

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The Black Church, Obama, and Gay Marriage

*This article and the variety of opinions expressed therein originally appeared on URBAN FAITH, a site dedicated to black church life and culture. Julian was asked to give his opinion when President Obama offered his thoughts on same-sex marriage. The original article, and comments, can be found here: http://www.urbanfaith.com/2012/05/the-black-church-obama-and-gay-marriage.html/ Black Christian leaders speak out on President…

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What Kendrick Lamar Can Teach Christian Hip Hop

*This piece originally appeared on RAPZILLA* View the original and the comments here: http://www.rapzilla.com/rz/features/story/5248 Kendrick Lamar’s album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”, is brilliant, period. If for nothing else, it fully encapsulates the sound of an emerging (here!) Cali – artists who grew up with (but not as) the bangers, and possess the acumen to convey without…

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The Non-Runners Guide to Running

The Non-Runners Guide to Running The Chicago Marathon in October 2012 was my first, and a behemoth of an experience. I trained roughly 30 weeks, using Hal Higdon’s program (www.halhigdon.com). I needed 12 extra weeks on the front end simply to get ready for the 18 that actual training requires (that’s how nervous I was).…

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A TRIBUTE to my favorite player ever…REGGIE MILLER

Growing up, your friends were the people you played with, and you played with the people who liked the same sports as you. “Sports” in Chicagoland, meant barefoot racing, a variation of softball called “Piggy,” a variation of football called “Killer Man,” and basketball. When you played each of these, you took on the persona…

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On Jason Collins, or Why Coming Out Is-Isn’t-Is a Big Deal

When word came out that Jason Collins wrote an article for SI and, umm…came out…I wrote a text to a friend of mine that read the following: “I’m sitting this one out.” It was a simple response to a simple request from a dear friend for 500 words about the first openly gay player in…

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The Neighborhood Watch: Story of the Blind Samaritan

*Julian is a regular contributor to Sojourners’ publications. This article can be found there at: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/07/19/neighborhood-watch-story-blind-samaritan* First there is smoke on the highway — thick and black, as if the unknown fire was still burning. As I draw closer, the source of the dark clouds becomes clear — a car is on fire. Even though it is happening on the…

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Stale Words in Fresh Tragedies (Boston Marathon)

*Julian is a regular contributor to Sojourners’ publications. This article can be found there at: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/04/25/stale-words-fresh-tragedies Something happened last week and I still can’t shake the funk of it off me. It happened in Boston and Texas; I saw it in Chicago as well, and the week before in Afghanistan. Last Sunday I tried to be…

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Shooting Down Easter (on Gun Control)

*Julian is a regular contributor for Sojourners publications. The original article, with comments, can be found here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/03/30/shooting-down-easter The conversation yelling match around gun control is exhausting — both in terms of the ethical boundaries each side will breach to advance its cause, and the way our rhetoric has turned into an exercise in “crash-testing:” we always hit a wall…

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Hearing the New Questions

*Julian is a regular contributor to Sojourners publications. The orignal article, and comments, can be found here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/01/14/hearing-new-questions Editor’s Note: This post is part of our monthly newsletter Faith in Action. To sign up for the newsletter, complete with commentary and resources for church leaders and mobilizers, click HERE.  Photo: Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, Mesut Dogan As the…

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Forgetting the Children of Sandy Hook: How We’ve Become the Friends of Job

*Julian is a regular contributor to Sojourners publications. The original article, and comments, can be found here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2012/12/20/forgetting-children-sandy-hook-how-we%E2%80%99ve-become-friends-job *If you have not read the Book of Job, this pastor recommends it as a must-read during this time of national crisis. There is much to digest; it requires no theological confession (only a sincere concern for humanity); and…

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LIVE BLOG: Church of the Resurrection

Leawood, KS, is a suburban sprawl of Kansas City, MO (or Kansas, I’m still confused), and I am here with some friends from the UCC to attend the Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection. “The Rez” is a Methodist ministry led by Adam Hamilton, who is easily Google-able. He writes often, and whatever he…

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My Thoughts on the #RNC

***The following does NOT represent the views of either Verbal Kwest or University Church, only J.Kwest. That’s why it’s not on either of those awesome sites*** I try my best to live without partisan bias: we live in times with issues that require far more critical analysis and response than either the Dems or the…

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Rocks Crying Out: “Amen” and Bad Religion

*This article originally appeared on RAPZILLA, a popular Christian Hip Hop site. View the original and comments here: http://rapzilla.com/rz/features/story/4782-rocks-crying-out-amen-and-bad-religion Now there’s a lot of bad b—-s in the building, Amen! A couple real n—-s in the building, Amen! I’m finna kill n—-s in the building, Amen! I tell the waiter, “Fifty Bottles,” and she tell me,…

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