Category Archives: Politics

In Memory of Susan Broaddus

Susan Broaddus and the Rev. Bisoke Balikenga

Susan Broaddus and I worked together for many years on the Congo Network, a project of the worldwide Anglican and Episcopal churches to support the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She passed away on 3 December 2021 after a lifetime of faithful activism, including twelve years as an Episcopalian missionary in the Congo. This is to honor and remember her. May Susan rest in peace and rise in glory.

Susan’s obituary was published by The Virginian-Pilot from 8 December – 10 December 2021. A longer version was published on Facebook by Women to Women for Congo on 8 December 2021:

It is with great sadness that we are sharing the news of the death  of Susan Broaddus, founder of the Women to Women for Congo and primary moderator of this page.

Susan Broaddus

Susan Broaddus succumbed to cancer on December 3, 2021, in Norfolk, Va., where she was born in 1946.

Her life’s greatest passion centered on The Democratic Republic of Congo, where she served as an Episcopalian missionary for over 12 years, dedicated to improving the lives of the people in that lawless and war-torn region.

She was especially concerned for the women and children there, because many militias continually attacked the towns and villages. The militias often kidnapped or killed the men, sexually attacked the women, and left the children orphaned.

About a decade ago, Susan revisited the Congo and was inspired to do more by raising awareness and money in the United States to help her beloved Congolese people. She founded a group called Women-to-Women for Congo, which joined her mission to pray for and financially assist the people there. She also supported the Anglican seminary in the Congo, both through individual scholarships and by supporting the seminary’s capital projects.

She was at the forefront locally of assisting with the immigration of the Sudanese “Lost Boys,” personally assisting many of them with tutoring, housing, bureaucracy, and more. 

Susan was a lifelong Francophile. Before retiring, she taught high school French in several school systems throughout the greater Hampton Roads area.

Her fluency in French enabled her to stay in touch with her friends and contacts in the Congo. When Susan’s health was declining rapidly from her second battle with cancer, the Most Rev. Henri Isingoma, who was the Archbishop of the Congo while she served there and is now retired, e-mailed a letter to Susan, which captured Susan’s spirit. It reads, in part (roughly translated): “I have no other words but to congratulate you for having led a life consecrated to the holy ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that you do not fear anything because, together, we have worked in the direction of ensuring the continuity of his mission to proclaim the Eternal Kingdom of God. Knowing that our human capacities have time limits, we had trained others among us and for subsequent generations. The mission continues.”

In addition to her work with the Congo, Susan was an avid reader and member of a book club. Shelves and stacks of books on many subjects filled her home. She also was active in her church, Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Susan was preceded in death by her parents, John and Margaret Broaddus, and her sisters, Margaret (Midge) Hutchison, and Ann Broaddus. She is survived by her nephew, Jason Nowell, and extended family and hometown friends….

If you would like to remember Susan in a meaningful way, please contribute to Episcopal Church Women, designating “Broaddus/Congo” in the memo line (mail to: ECW, Christ & St. Luke’s Church, P.O. Box 11499, Norfolk, VA 23517)

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Privilege, Punishment, and Vision

This semester, I am taking a class at the Graduate Theological Union called “Christian Ethics: Radical Love Embodied” from Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics. One of the texts for this class is Dr. Moe-Lobeda’s own 2013 book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation. Chapter 4, “Unmasking Evil that Parades as Good,” has caused me to think deeply on how background social and cultural understandings perpetuate and affirm the way things are, even if those understandings are destructive or evil. The author characterizes this as “‘hegemonic vision’… the constellation of socially constructed perceptions and assumptions about ‘what is,’ ‘what could be,’ and ‘what ought to be’ that maintain the power or privilege of some people over others, and ‘blind’ the former to that privilege” (Moe-Lobeda, 88).

Dr. Matthew Clair, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, uses the word hegemony with regard to U.S. law, but does not use the phrase hegemonic vision in his 2020 book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court. He presents similar concepts, writing of how racism and classism intersect, “I found that the working class and poor, especially racial minorities, often sought to learn their legal rights, contest their defense lawyer’s expertise, and advocate for themselves in court. Meanwhile, the middle-class people I got to know found themselves in trusting relationships with lawyers and thus were more likely to defer to their lawyers and the court. Privileged people were rewarded for their deference, whereas the disadvantaged were punished for their resistance and demands for justice” (Clair, xv). That is, Dr. Clair reports that the U.S. justice system has a vision of how people should behave that is based in middle-class assumptions and communication patterns. He finds that those who are poor or working class who do not communicate as expected are disproportionately penalized.

The Prison Policy Initiative affirmed what Dr. Clair has written in their “Mass Incarceration: the Whole Pie 2020” in which Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner write, “People in prison and jail are disproportionately poor compared to the overall U.S. population. The criminal justice system punishes poverty… Poverty is not only a predictor of incarceration; it is also frequently the outcome.”

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Doctor of Ministry Project

Visit the Prisoner banner Grace Baptist Church San Jose CA April 2015

My Doctor of Ministry program started in August 2021 with a week-long online class in which our new DMin cohort got to know each other and our two leaders, Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, III and Dr. Ronald D. Burris at the Berkeley School of Theology. BST is in the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. My final paper starts:

“In this paper, I begin the discussion of my Doctor of Ministry project and dissertation for the Berkeley School of Theology. In the first section, I present the problem of creating a theological study program for use in jail and my vision for its solution. The second section considers my theological basis, including three inspiring scriptures that have influenced my thinking. These are followed by a summary and conclusion. My theological basis and the proposed project and dissertation are informed by my experience as a Santa Clara County, California, jail chaplain since 2015.” The three Bible scriptures are Matthew 25:31-46, Genesis 39-41, and Acts 16:22-40. Read the whole paper here.

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Ethnocentrism and Racism

The Curse of Ham by Goldenberg, Stand Your Ground by Douglas

The Reverend Doctor LeAnn Snow Flesher was our professor for a Berkeley School of Theology class this summer called “White Supremacy and the Bible.” My final paper was “Ethnocentrism and Racism.” The paper starts:

“Are ethnocentrism and racism different or the same, and what difference does this make? I engage these terms regarding American social structures, biology, and power / domination, as well as considering to what extent ethnocentrism and racism are mutually exclusive or overlapping. I will focus on two of our class books that examine these and related concepts, the Rev. Canon Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas’s Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, and Dr. David M. Goldenberg’s The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This paper starts by reviewing definitions of ethnocentrism and racism from a variety of sources, followed by a section on what Douglas and Goldenberg write and seem to mean by those concepts, concluding with a section that considers how these meanings make a difference.”

You can read the whole paper here. Below is the “Social /Cultural Group Evaluation – Ethnocentrism <-> Racism Scale” graphic, discussed on pages 19-20 of the paper.

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Helping the Holy Land

TechWomen at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City, Feb 2016
TechWomen at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City, Feb 2016

During this violent time in the Holy Land, our family just made a large donation to Episcopal Relief & Development which supports the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City (which I visited with TechWomen mentors and mentees in 2016), and the Middle East. We have asked for a corporate match for our family donation. Please consider donating – and keep the Holy Land in your prayers. We also donated to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (as requested by Ryan Sturgill, Director of Gaza Sky Geeks).

I put this information on my own Facebook account but when I tried to re-post a version of it, Facebook blocked me. Apparently Facebook objects to posts about praying for Gaza and making charitable donations to the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. Please continue to pray and donate anyway.

Our 2016 visit was an unofficial TechWomen delegation by five senior mentors who wanted to visit their much-loved Gazan mentees. TechWomen is a program of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – Exchange Programs, managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE). I am re-posting some of my pictures here from our trip to Gaza City so that you can see what it looked like before the current violence. You can read some of my 2016 posts with more photos, Traveling in Palestine, Three Border Walls, Where We Stayed in Palestine, and Understanding Gaza.

Facebook post rejection 20 May 2021
Facebook post rejection 20 May 2021

25 May 2021 Update:
In addition to donating to Episcopal Relief & Development which supports Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza (including the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City), here is the list of reputable first responder organizations recommended by Ryan Sturgill, Director of Gaza Sky Geeks:

Palestine Red Crescent Society, https://www.palestinercs.org/

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, https://www.pcrf.net/

Medical Aid for Palestinians, https://www.map.org.uk/

Doctors Without Borders, https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

UN Population Fund in Palestine, https://palestine.unfpa.org/

Thank you for your prayers and generous donations.

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Polemics to Pluralism

Last semester at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), I took a class called “Introduction to Islamic Theology” with Dr. Ahmed Khater. My final paper for the class was “Polemics to Pluralism.” Our main reading text was Commentary on the Creed of At-Tahawi by Ibn Abi al-Izz. We also read selections from Sharh Al-Aqeedat-il-Wasitiyah: Text on the Fundamental Beliefs of Islam and Rejection of False Concepts of its Opponents by Ibn Taimiyah, Kitaab at-Tawhid by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, publications in the “Proofs of Prophethood Series” by the Yaqueen Institute for Islamic Research, parts of The Final Day by Umar Sulaiman Al-Ashqar, as well as videos and other published works. For my book review, I sought a different point of view, choosing Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism by Union Theological Seminary‘s Associate Professor of Islam and Interreligious Engagement, Jerusha Tanner Rhodes. Many of these works were referenced in my final paper, which begins…

Polemics to Pluralism

In this paper, as an extension of our weekly class discussions this semester on similarities and differences in theology between Islam and other faiths, I engage with selected historical and contemporary Muslim scholars with regard to how they communicate, by means of theological polemics at one end of the range, through pluralism and interfaith dialogue at the other. I focus on communication by Islamic scholars in their interactions with two other Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Judaism. I find that some contemporary Muslim scholars value and promote concepts of religious pluralism in the Quran, which may be a sign that Islam is moving away from the polemical rhetoric of its most famous historical scholars.

Please read the remainder of the paper at “Polemics to Pluralism.”

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TechWomen Sierra Leone Project

TechWomen Sierra Leone team, 2 Nov 2020

Following up on my 8 October 2020 post: Despite the challenges of working at home during a pandemic, the inspiring TechWomen team from Sierra Leone is making good progress developing a project to benefit their country. We have worked for months to identify and refine our focus on the challenge of malnutrition in children, and on a statement on the social impact of this difficult problem. The current version of our action plan statement is below. Next week, we begin to make our pitch video.

TechWomen is a competitive and prestigious exchange program of the U.S. State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Executive Vice President of Knightscope Software Engineering Mercedes Soria, Country Coach Salwa Campbell, and I are mentoring the five Emerging Leaders from Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatmata Munu, Glenna Wilson, Isha Kamara, Joan Koroma, and Josephine Turay (all from Freetown).

Team Sierra Leone Impact Statement

We don’t want to watch our children die. Team Sierra Leone will start with 50 mothers as our pilot. Our campaign will reach the target audience in Freetown and western area by radio, and advertising vans distributing brochures with pictures. We will provide educational materials on best food and good nutritional practices. In addition to mothers, we will contact community leaders, chiefs and community health workers.

Our mission is to reduce the level of malnutrition in Sierra Leone. We will achieve this by educating mothers on how to use local foods to make balanced diets. According to the government of Sierra Leone, 31.3% of children have the chronic form of malnutrition. This is because according to UNICEF, 70% of infants and young children are underfed, surviving on diets consisting mainly of starchy staples. We believe we are the best people to work on the malnutrition project because our skills and background are a perfect match, comprising but not limited to a medical doctor, pharmacist, public health graduate and a data scientist.

This text and photo was published with permission of Team Sierra Leone.

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