About Me

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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanks for Will McIntosh

A week ago my friend Will McIntosh passed away.

I met Will in 1996, soon after joining Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church. He had recently moved from New York City, where he had served as Assistant Commissioner of Juvenile Justice, to Durham. He was married to Miriam, who completed her doctoral studies and became a dentist. He had a young son from their marriage, Brian, who is a year older than my youngest, Lydia, and attended the same high school.

Will and I met on a Habitat for Humanity project. We were both trying to keep busy on a crowded work site. The chapter was preparing for a house dedication across town, and they had one more detail they needed someone to take care of. So they sent Will and me to the other location to remove the temporary utility pole.

Will and I got a pick-axe and shovel to take with us, and we took off in a pick-up truck. As we drove, we introduced ourselves and got acquainted. When we arrived, I started trying to dislodge the 4 x 4 utility pole from the clay fill dirt. I was hacking away, but not making much progress. I was huffing and puffing, and probably turning red, realizing that as a man of about 40 years I had lost some of the vigor of my youth. Will was the same age as my parents, which meant that at that time he was in his late 60s. He suggested that he take a turn at it. He hacked away at the soil, then began to push and pull the pole until he had loosened it enough to pull it up by his bare hands. We loaded it all in the truck and headed back. He had made a serious impression on me that day.

Over the years, Will and I regularly got together to talk about what was going on in our lives. With children in the same age range, we usually had stories to compare. We spoke with pride about our kids, and we shared our concerns and fears for them. We both recognized the harsh world that our children were facing, and we wondered about the steps they would take on the way to maturity. Will put all of himself into Brian's upbringing and growth. Like my children, Brian probably wished that Dad would ease off on the parenting at times.

When Will and Miriam needed a pastor, sometimes they turned to me. Will was dealing with a heart condition in the last decades of his life, and his extended family dealt with setbacks, losses, and the kinds of things all of us face. Sometimes he came to me to talk through these matters, ask for prayer, and let me reflect back to him what I could see from our conversations. Frankly, this seemed to me quite an honor. Will had much more life experience and a wide range of knowledge and skills that I will never achieve. So I gave him my best, and always felt appreciated and loved for it.

Although we often conversed as peers, at the same time Will was a fatherly friend to me. I am blessed to have my father, W. D. Broadway, still living, and I depend on him for guidance in many ways. We have lived far apart during half of my life, and there have been a couple of occasions when an older friend has been, not a substitute, but a supplemental father to me. One was Weston Ware, my beloved friend from Dallas and the Christian Life Commission, and the other was Will. It's not so much that I went to Will for advice, but I looked up to him and learned about how to live from being around him.

Will believed in working hard and getting things done. Almost every time I visited his home, I was amazed to find that he had just begun or completed another construction project--an addition, an outbuilding, a fence, or who knows what. When I needed to do some cleaning and painting of the outside of my house, Will brought over some power equipment, showed me how to use it, and did a good bit of the work with me. If I had mustered the energy, I'm certain that he would have come over to do all kinds of home improvement projects with me.

Everly and I enjoyed our conversations after I had a visit with Will. "Guess what I learned about Will this time," I would say. Will knew about all kinds of things. He had been lots of places. And above all, he knew all sorts of people. He was widowed and remarried, and there were many stories of his family stretching across his 78 years. His family had to deal with the racist practice of a white neighbor fencing off part of their land and claiming it for himself. Will took charge of resolving that matter down in the family home place in Alabama. He had lots of stories of working with youth from his long years in the juvenile justice system in New York. He had managed his financial affairs well, and he had property in several states, which he traveled to maintain. He would tell me about conversations he had with Rudy Giuliani or George W. Bush.

But Will was very unassuming. He always seemed interested in what I thought about things, even if he knew plenty enough about them not to need my opinion. He was interested in politics, and he had a good sense about people and power. He enjoyed talking with me about Barack Obama, and although he was a Republican, he took great satisfaction in what the 2008 presidential election meant in U. S. history.

He called me "Rev," and I received it as a title of affection. I'm going to miss him. Knowing him has been one of God's blessings.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Priest and the Levite

This morning, Rev. Charles "Dewey" Williams delivered a powerful message on the Lukan text best known as The Good Samaritan. The implications for our current economy were jumping out of the text and out of his words, even though that was not directly the focus of his message. He talked about the way that things happen to us along the road we travel. Sometimes they are caused by people who are out to harm us or to take what we have in whatever way they can. But he held back and did not hammer away at the titans and swindlers of the economy. He left that for us to ponder, and ponder it we did.

When he got to the story of the priest and the levite, the place where we all become vulnerable, he shook us by the shoulders for all the times we allowed our church duties to turn us away from helping those whom God sends us to meet. And while we had our minds on our own failures, then he expanded the horizon dramatically.

He said, "The priest and the levite examined the situation, and they would have helped the man on the side of the road. But they determined that he had a pre-existing condition. They could not help him since he was already beat up before they came along." Boom! Then he expanded on the issues of health insurance companies doing the opposite of what they claim to be about--denying rather than providing access to health care.

Thanks, Dewey, for your insight and faithfulness to speak the truth in these critical times.

Friday, October 02, 2009

10% Is Enough! It's Time to Listen to the Rest of Us!

Today, about 450 citizens from all over North Carolina converged on Charlotte to take a stand against the usurious practices of two large banks: Bank of America and Wachovia-Wells Fargo. This event is part of a larger campaign stretching across the country and to Europe known as "10% Is Enough." In NC, we also are standing up for military personnel and veterans who by law are not to be charged more than 6% interest on their loans, but this is seldom obeyed.

We gathered at Mt. Moriah Primitive Baptist Church to prepare for a march to the downtown headquarters of the banks. I was asked to give the opening remarks to explain our purpose for gathering. The following is what I said at the rally.

My name is Dr. Mike Broadway. I am an associate minister at Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, and a member of the strategy team of Durham CAN. I am also an associate professor of theology and ethics at Shaw University Divinity School, and one of twenty-five professors from institutions of theological education across North Carolina and South Carolina who have joined with the people of our churches and communities to speak up for economic justice and an end to the practice of usury.

I want to talk with you a few minutes about why we are here today. It could not be clearer in the teaching of the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, or the Islamic Qur’an that usury, the predatory, abusive charging of excess interest, is wrong. A system which creates a perpetual debtor class is contrary to our faiths. As Deuteronomy 15 and so much of the Bible teaches, There should be no one in need among you. Usury makes the opposite happen, creating poverty where it was not, driving people into need and desperation.

Let me begin by telling you a story. It is a story about the growing concern and desperation of average, everyday people who over the past two years or so have been waking up to find the waters of financial troubles rising in the streets, inundating their cars, flowing into their homes, drowning their banks and workplaces, and forcing them into their attics and onto their roofs in hopes of finding some possibility of rescue.

When the financial flood waters reached their peaks, high powered government officials announced a rescue, a bailout, and many people hoped against hope that they might see the waters recede and be able to move back into their homes. But weeks passed, and months passed, and the only people that seemed to be getting any help were the executives and bankers, the big insurance companies and financial speculators. Homeowners were still losing their homes. People with consumer debt were being charged new and higher fees, and dramatically higher interest rates.

Eventually it became clear to everyone why the levees failed and produced this flood of financial trouble of such epic proportion. The people who were running the major financial institutions, whose fiduciary responsibility was to maintain the safety of the financial system for all its participants, had ignored and even disdained their responsibility. Instead, they had been finding ways to boost their own short-term profits while pretending the long-term protection of the financial system would take care of itself. They continued to play their financial games of chance and pass their promissory papers of propped-up prosperity around the room, while the levees of protection and prudence were crumbling.

Now these same people who ushered in the financial crisis are hoping that the rest of us will conveniently forget the pain and suffering that they helped to cause. But we are not going to forget. We can’t forget. They are still putting the hurt to us every day, as if there is no standard of justice by which they must be judged. No, we won’t forget. Who can forget the pain of walking away from a home which had represented a family’s hope for the future? Who can forget the heartache and fear of a business or factory closing that takes away the prosperity of an entire community? Who can forget the monthly interest payment which cuts to the bone and cripples a worker’s future? Who can forget the bankruptcy proceeding that results from needed medical care when a person is uninsured or underinsured?

We have not forgotten. And today we want to remind those who think we will walk away with our tails between our legs that we will not forget how we got into this mess. It is time for them to face the people whose lives they have helped to throw in to turmoil. We will not submit to being a permanent debtor class. We will not grant you a permanent subscription to our future income. We will not accept a new social order of debt sharecropping, in which the executives of a few powerful financial institutions snatch the livelihood from the hands of the workers whose labor should produce abundance for everyone. We will not continue to do business with those who practice usury. It is time for a conversation about justice. The time for so-called talented experts to tell us so much mumbo-jumbo about the market is over. It is time to hear from the rest of us.

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