Dr. Jacqui Lewis uses her gifts as an activist, author, preacher, and theologian to advocate for racial, gender, and economic equality.

Jacqui has over thirty years of ministry experience and is the first African American and the first woman to serve as a senior minister in the Collegiate Church in New York.

Jacqui attended Princeton Theological Seminary and obtained her Masters of Divinity. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Religion from Drew University. she has taught at Princeton, New Brunswick Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Drew University.

Jacqui’s books include: Ten Essential Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation, The Power of Stories, You Are So Wonderful!, and her newest book, Fierce Love: A Bold Path to a Better Life and a Better World.

Her work and ministry have been featured in many outlets, some including; The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the New York Post. She has also been broadcasted on shows like ABC, NBC, PBS, and CBS.

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Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with the remarkable Dr. Jacqui Lewis:

Guy Kawasaki:
I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People.
Today's remarkable guest is Dr. Jacqui Lewis.
Jacqui uses her gifts as an activist author, preacher, and theologian to advocate for racial, gender, and economic equality. Jacqui has over thirty years of ministry experience and is the first African American, and the first woman to serve as a senior minister in the Collegiate Church in New York.
Jacqui attended Princeton Theological Seminary and obtained her Masters of Divinity. She has a Ph.D. in psychology and religion from Drew University.
She has taught at Princeton, New Brunswick Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Drew University.
Jacqui's books include Ten Essential Strategies For Becoming a Multiracial Congregation, The Power of Stories, You Are So Wonderful, and her newest book, Fierce Love: A Bold Path To A Better Life And A Better World.
Her work and ministry have been featured in many news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times, and the New York Post. She has also been broadcasted on shows on NBC, ABC, PBS, and CBS.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is remarkable people.
And now here is the remarkable Dr. Jacqui Lewis, with some of the boldest predictions of any Remarkable People podcast.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I was raised by two parents who were raised in Mississippi, Jim Crow, Mississippi, segregated, Mississippi.
They both did that thing that black folks did, they migrated north to escape, white supremacy and racism and segregation. Met in Omaha Nebraska, found their thrill on Blueberry Hill, and got married and had a baby, me.
We were living in New Hampshire, and I was the only black kid on our base. The only kid in my kindergarten classroom.
Best friends were two Tommy's, Tommy Holly, who was blonde in blue eye. Tommy Hollister, red hair, freckled and we were just buds. We lived near on the block together, we walked to school together, we napped near each other, all the things, til Lisa came.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
When me Lisa came, she came from Mississippi and brought Mississippi feelings about me. Sat between me and Tommy Holly and stage whispered, "Why are you sitting next to that nasty N-word? And don't you know, she gets chocolate milk from her mother's teats?"
I was alarmed. I didn't think I had ever heard the N-word. And I know, I didn't know that milk came out of teats. So this was also too much. So I went home and told my mom and my dad, and they had two different reactions.
One, my mom said, "It's silly that white people think they're better than black people… silly." She just was like, "That is silly." And she didn't call it stupid, because we weren't allowed to use the word stupid. And then we prayed together and we did our now I lay me down to sleep prayer and I added, "God, let it be that no matter what color people are, they will feel loved." I believe this was the beginning of my activism.
And then dad took it to the air force base commander, told the story, demanded reparations, demanded an apology, and got one for him and for me.
So what do we learn? They say “Children aren't born racist”, but man, we learn that stuff pretty young. And that children are watching all the time.
So whatever formed Lisa to where she felt she needed to call me the N-word on her first day of school, that didn't come in the womb, but it definitely came from her house, her people, her church, who knows.
And my parents were teaching me to love all the people, but also to stand up for yourself. And also that racism was silly, wrong.
And so I want to say, I think the lessons for this is, we are raising a whole generation of kids now in the context of the foolish fight about critical race theory. And we do want our children to understand what happened to indigenous people. We do want our children to understand the story of Trail of Tears. We do want our children to understand the middle passage reconstruction, Jim Crow, lynching, the Chinese Exclusion Act.
If they don't understand how white racism has wounded all manners of racial ethnic minorities, and white people, then we will repeat this history over and over again. Thus end of the lesson of Lisa.
Guy Kawasaki:
Have you ever followed up with her or seen where she is at this point in her life?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Totally have looked her up. I've looked up Tommy Holly and Tommy Hollister are on one air force base. And I won't see Lisa's last name, but I looked on them and I cannot find them.
But Lisa, if you hear this, I hope you're good. I hope you've taken some anti-racist training. Maybe you’re married. Maybe you married somebody out of your race and it just softened your world. I don't know, but I hope you're good.
Guy Kawasaki:
How can a five or six year old girl say that? What parent would teach their kid that?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
In the context of race in America, I'll bet all kinds of things get said in houses.
I imagine my husband, who actually is white, and is fourteen years older than I am. His dad used the N-word regularly around their house about all kinds of folks. Somebody on TV, somebody on the news, someone at work.
I'll bet you today, nice white people use the N-word in their houses. And distinguish between the good black people and the N-word.
I'll bet you racial, ethnic minority kids hear the word “Cracker” in their house or “Honky”, which dates me.
But, this nation is so waste. I'll make a verb out of that. But I think without care, parents toss those words and stereotypes around. Puerto Ricans are loud, Asians aren't all good at math, black people can jump and dance but are lazy, indigenous people are alcoholics. All of these things are right there below the surface because we haven't addressed them in a broad enough, deep enough way to change the minds and hearts of a critical mass of Americans, Guy.
Guy Kawasaki:
Why do you think it exists?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Two reasons I'd give.
One as a psychologist, I'd say base of brain human reaction to the other. What's different? We've try to master it, we try to dominate it, we try to understand it, we try to kill it, we try, Dr. King would say, to “Thingify it.” Then we have to understand it.
And it is, I think something where we walked out of the cave, when we started standing upright, we were looking for who my people is. “Who's my tribe? And who's yours? And my tribe is stronger than yours. And my tribe is better than yours.” And therefore we deserve the cake or the cow when that's one thing.
But the other thing is the people who founded this nation did not found it on freedom. They founded it on their own desire for freedom and took land and liberty and health from indigenous people.
As we're talking its indigenous day, they quote, “Discovered stuff”, and made it theirs, and then they took bodies off of the shores of Africa and worked them to death.
Is there something hardwired in white people? I don't think I'd say that. Because, in Africa, those kinds of wars have happened between Hutu and Tutsi, between Palestinians and Israelis.
We just have the capacity for so much love, and so much fear and hatred. And if we don't get to the place where we increase our tribe, where you and I, our tribe. Right? Where your people are, my people, “Ubuntu”, I am because you are.
We have to get to a place where we enlarge our tribe, so that the children on the border, and the children in Detroit, and the children in an orphanage in China belonged to all of us. That's our job.
Guy Kawasaki:
And how do we get there?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Oh, thanks Guy. That's a great question.
Let's do the faith thing for a minute because that's part of my professional life.
I would say the very first thing is all the people who claim to follow rabbi Jesus, I'm going to pick on the Christians, because I'm a Christian. If you say you're a Christian and then the person who is your mentor, model, dude, rabbi, coach, is a brown, Palestinian, poor, itinerant preacher who was born in Nazareth, which I'm sorry people, is ancient Palestine.
So he's Jewish from Palestine. Is homeless and then a refugee. He got all the stuff. He's always crossing cultural borders. He's always crossing cultural boundaries. “The first will be last, the last will be first.” Bring that baby here and put him in the center.
This is how we learned about the children of God. “Do not stone that woman, unless you have no sin.” Every way he can break the rules, he's breaking the rules for love.
We can't say we're Christian, if we're not going to break some rules for love, we just need to stop it. Say that we're something else, but don't say we're Christian unless we're ready to throw down for love of all the people.
Don't be anti-cynic in the name of the Semite. Don't be anti-Islamic. Don't be, just stop it, stop it. And listen for the lessons of love inside the teachings of Yeshua ben Joseph, that's one.
Two, we need to demand that our educational system keep teaching the history of race in America, as opposed to ceasing and desisting. So that our young people learn what can go wrong and then learn how to make it right.
Guy Kawasaki:
Simply the subject of teaching the history of race in America is making people's heads explode.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I know.
Guy Kawasaki:
And many of don't even know what they're exploding about. They just heard that all of a sudden we're not this perfect country.
But how do you even wrap your mind around that? They want to whitewash history.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I wrap my mind around it because it's not a new phenomenon. It is because of the strides we've made around Black Lives Matter. It is because of the way an international, multiethnic, queer led movement for racial justice has risen up around the globe, and you and I know systems don't like to change.
So by the time you get liberated enough to elect a president named Barack Hussein Obama, white people went crazy. Not all the white people, but the people who go crazy, went crazy.
Like they went crazy about the anti-war movement, and they went crazy about the feminist movement, and they've gone crazy about gay liberation.
And they're definitely going crazy about coalitions that are Japanese and Chinese, indigenous, and black and white, and Mexican, and, not all the Hispanic people are Mexican. Mexican, and Dominican and Puerto Rican and PanAsian.
This rising up of love, of fierce love, of the desire for a more just society that got Raphael Warnock elected to the Senate. A Jewish man and a black man elected to Georgia, Lord have mercy. This rising up of love is... What's going on down there. The rising up of love puts-
Guy Kawasaki:
Stacey Abrams. That's what's going on down there.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
That's what it is go Stacey. It's your birthday.
Black voters’ matter. There are so many pockets of resistance now.
My friend Brian Blunt will call it, pockets of resistance that are daring to stand together. That I think these are death rows. We're witnessing the death of white supremacy. And as it kicks and struggles not to die, it is dangerous. It is lethal, but, it's going to die.
Because too many of us are not going back there. We're just not.
Guy Kawasaki:
You say that with such rigor and confidence. Do you think it's kicking and screaming and it's on the way out. Some people would say it's stronger than ever.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Is it stronger than ever? Ooh, good God. It's strongest when it's snatching indigenous children out of their home and sending them to boarding schools, to unindian them. It's strongest when it is kidnapping, beating, and separating African families. It's strongest when in response to reconstruction, it is lynching like the 4,400, not fully counted, but the 4,400 lynchings represented at the EGI museum down in Montgomery.
That's when his strongest. It's politically ensconced, it's strategic, they're smarter than us progressives, they've been working on this stuff since the 1950s and the 1970s.
So they've got some strongholds, but the demography is changing. We are not going to be a white nation. And this is why I say these coalitions that are multiethnic are rising up and the good white people understand that they need to be in solidarity with people of color to heal this nation.
So I think that we're seeing the end of an era, and that it is not going to go quietly. That's my prediction.
Guy Kawasaki:
You care to specify when this era is going to end?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
When is it, 2050? What's the date? Now when we are the majority?
Between 2021, to thirty-five more years of Republican strategies to redistrict, to filibuster, to jam in justices, to roll back civil rights. Or, ready? Thirty-five years for you and I to work with all the people who are doing this to stop it, to get out the vote, to educate people on civics, to demand our electeds to pay attention, to put people in office who won't compromise so much.
To stand up for love and to teach our children that their brothers have Japanese, and Chinese, and LatinX last names. And we have to do this together. I think we've got thirty-five years to get it together. And to snuff out the hatred with love.
Guy Kawasaki:
How did you arrive at that number? I'll be dead in thirty-five years.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Well look, I'm doing math right now 2050, 2045, what are people saying?
That number is freaking out the white people. The white white people. It's freaking out the white white people that they will not be in charge anymore.
And we understand what happened in South Africa. When the minority whites kept kicking, and fighting, and screaming, it led to apartheid by the way they learned from us.
So I'm speaking to you of the hope I have that people of good faith and moral courage are equally outraged, young Muslim activist named Genesis B, who worked with actor and activist Aunjanue Ellis to get the Mississippi flag down with all its Confederate symbolism, and it's gone. All the people who work with Stacy Abrams and others to get new leadership in place. All the people who are working at the local level at school boards, policing.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Ferguson is not the same town it was when Michael Brown was killed. Young leaders have risen up there to make birthing clinics and to put life where death was.
I'm so excited that we are in for the fight, but we are in it with all the good things. With wisdom, and history, and love, and compassion, and solidarity. So we can have a revolution.
Guy Kawasaki:
To me, just on an intellectual basis, if you just looked at the demographic, the trend is not the GOP's friend. And they're not going to change that.
So seems to me that they should get with the program and reinvent the GOP.
It's like saying, “Oh, we're going to stand in the way of the internet. We want people to use copper, wired phones, and fax machines.”
They can't see that it's coming. It, it ain't going to be stopped.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
It's not end, when we just talked a few minutes ago about that kind of death rows.
You and I know how strongly people will resist change because it's like, Israel walking out of Egypt. “Why do you have us out here in the wilderness? There's no food out here.”
At least back there we had meat in the pods. The monster we know, the brokenness we know, the trouble we know, the craziness we know, at least we know it.
So I think that generation of leaders, I don't even want to say their names, are actually going to hold on with their fingernails to systems and structures that keep their wealth in place, and keep their power in place, and keep their whiteness white. But that's them.
I have a whole congregation, 1,600 people of blacks and whites and Asians and LatinX, Hispanic people.
And the white people in my world are getting educated about race, and making reparations.
I have a woman in my church who has in a year and two months made a $100,000 personal contribution that she calls the Reparations fund to do ministry with, and for black people. White lady. Come on, she knows what time it is.
So we have to be as careful as we want them to be lumping everybody. There's a lot of crazy white people. Hello, crazy white people, who do not want to let go of power. And there's a lot of white people who want to be mentored, learn how to let go of power.
I always say I'm on the nice white people tour. White people, "Hi, Jacqui, can you come teach us about racism?" "Absolutely love. When do you want me to come?" "Thursday." "Sure."
Because the nice white people know I'm tell them straight to their face. This is crazy and this is a problem and I need you to get in the game, but I'm not going to shame them, because that doesn't really get it done.
What really gets it done is to teach them and love them into healing.
Guy Kawasaki:
This is a question that I, as an Asian American man, just cannot figure out what the answer should be.
I want you to tell me whether you think that adhering to societal norms in order to gain respect from white people is necessary or is selling out.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Mmmm the way you said that, I knew there was going to be some tough questions.
Adhering to societal norms, necessary or selling out? Can there be a third choice? I think let's do generations.
My husband and I took a trip through the south this summer to do some race study. And I have a cousin named Kay who's maybe fifteen years older than I am. So, we're half a generation apart. And I was just talking to her about what it's like to grow up in Mississippi. And she said, “Sometimes you just kept your head down, and you just kept it moving, you picked your fights.”
My dad who's eighty-seven said almost exactly the same thing. Both of them from Mississippi. He said, "You knew what your place was." I was like, “What? You knew, what your place was?” “You knew what your place was and you had to decide if today was a day to rock that boat.”
James Forbes, senior minister emeritus of the Riverside Church. We were talking also on this tour. He said, "Sometimes” even today, in where he lives in Raleigh, “Sometimes the black people just say, ‘I'm okay. I got a car, I got a job, I'm okay."’
I imagine that generations of immigrants that were Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, came here to make a better life, looked at this nation's crazy story, and decided to just keep their heads down. I'm just going to keep my head down, and I'm going to figure out how to raise my children. I'm going to figure out how to get auntie over here to join me. And we're going to buy that other house. And the fight that they didn't need to engage in was the polarized, black, white narrative.
I have so much compassion for that. I understand that. That's why I think there's a third way to talk about it.
And today, with you know who crazy president, acting like the coronavirus was the fault of Chinese people, leading to all the violence against AAPI people in this nation, because nobody's smart enough to be figuring out, oh, "I'm not going to hit him in the head, he's Japanese. I'm just going to work with the Chinese one and beat her in the face."
So all of our Asian friends who've been violated because of the stupid, mean, unkind rhetoric of a president, there was a way in which it was latent. The model minority, the latent prejudice, the things we don't have to say them out loud, but we're going to talk about sexuality and we're going to talk about playing violence and doing math.
All of that's latent racism that just went, whewwwww. I have a zillion Asian activist friends now.
This generation, the generation behind us, of people who are like, “Oh hell no, not on our watch.” And they're raised by aunties, and uncles, and cousins, and fathers, and mothers to respect all of that stuff's in the soup. How do we do it? And in their own way, they're pressing boundaries and standing up for their rights. I'm so super proud of that. Even as I understand the other generation aunties going, this is not my fight.
Guy Kawasaki:
Let's say I'm a twenty to thirty-year-old black person listening to this.
Am I supposed to straighten my hair, lose my accent, dress like I went to Lululemon? Or am I supposed to wear baggy jeans, listen to rap, have an earring, wear my hat backwards, and not give a shit?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Think you're supposed to be multivocal. That's what I would say.
Guy Kawasaki:
Which means what?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
You got to have more than one vocabulary. You’ve got to code switch. We've been code switching all of our lives.
So I have dreadlocks. When I was a twenty-year-old, I had an Afro. In my thirties I had relaxed hair that blew in the wind. White-folks-blowing-in-the-wind hair, straightened within an inch of its life by Dominican hairdressers. I grew my locks because I'm a certain age now where this is it.
But I have had different cultural modalities over my life. And with a PhD, and an MDiv, and an MPhil, and books, I still have many more and language.
I can speak white psychological theories, because they're not black, psychological theories. And I can speak William Cross black racial identity development. And I can speak Katie Cannon theology and I can speak John Calvin theology.
And I can dress in my dreadlocks and my Ghanaian outfit, or I can dress in my dreadlocks and my suit. But I've not got to know what's the right thing to do in the context to do what I want to do. And I would sell black people, it's not selling out young black people, when you pull your pants up, when you go to a job interview, if you want the job, that's not selling out.
And when you get the job, you can get yourself another pair of Dr Martens if that makes you happy. And wear your pants down and your friends will take you out to celebrate because you have the job. When you go to the job interview, you're not like what's up homie. You're like, “Yes, sir.”
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
That's just what it is. And white people, a lot of the rules and probably have to code switch less. But in that great getting up morning when it's 2050, and we're in charge, I'll bet you some white people are going to be having that conversation. “How should I work? How should I behave? How should I behave when I go to the Amani Center where the food is being passed out. When I go to the Kawasaki computer center, do I need to be able to speak Japanese?” Probably.
Guy Kawasaki:
Speak pigeon.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Wouldn't that be fun? To speak pigeon. That's what I'm looking for.
Guy Kawasaki:
Switching topics a little bit.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Guy Kawasaki:
Now we're going on religion more deeply. Do you think Jesus would get vaccinated?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
He got baptized and he didn't have to. Did he need to be baptized to be cleansed of all unrighteousness? Hell no. To be religious. He's the son of God, but he took his little butt in their water with John and he participated in rituals, and he ate the bread for the Passover, and for the Sabbath, and all the things because, you love your neighbor by participating in the wellness of your neighbor.
So yes, the one who probably would never get COVID, and he's half human, so I don't know.
Of course he'd get vaccinated because he would do it for the least of these. “Did you see me sick? Did you see me hungry? Did you see me in prison? Did you see me immune compromised? Did you see me with a respiratory element? Did you see me under twelve and wanting to come to church and I can't get a vaccine?”
That's why he would get a vaccinated.
Guy Kawasaki:
As you point out in your book, the word religion comes from a Latin word, meaning to rebind. But it sure does not look like there's a lot of rebinding going on.
What happened?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
What happened? I don't know.
I've been doing a lot of writing about Ubuntu, which is this Zulu custom or Zulu philosophy. “A person as a person through other persons.”
I think I would want to say we're all from Africa. The origins of human beings is African, y'all who don't know that.
I'm fascinated about the cultures, the connectivity in an African culture, and how it made its way into all the major world's religions.
Every religion says, "Love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don't withhold from your neighbor what you need for yourself." One tradition says, "Don't break another person's heart." Wow. Six Buddhist, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims, all over the place, atheists, and agnostics understand, we need to take care of each other.
So what happened?
It's like the story in our Christian texts where Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” And the rich younger was like, "Who's my neighbor?" Like looking for a loophole. "Who's my neighbor? Who am I forced to love?"
And Jesus tells that story of the good Samaritan, the hated mixed race, like mixed fabric, mixed race person as the good neighbor.
What happened? What happened? We bend God to our own image. What happened? We look for loopholes. We want God to be in our pocket, our talisman, our rabbit foot.
“I'm going to make God hate my enemies because then I can too. Then God's going to smite them, and it's all going to be okay.” As opposed to the ubiquitous love force that we call God is too big, too fantastic, too magnanimous, too mysterious for us to put in a box.
But we've been trying to do that since day one. Put him in a mishkan, take him across the desert, put him in our pocket, put him in the host. Don't let the people touch the host.
Come on people, that's what happened. If we let God loose, love would happen.
Guy Kawasaki:
Do you think it's time to separate God from the institution of churches?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Yes. Yes I do. And I'm a professional church chick. Just to go to scripture again with my professional church chick self.
There are all these texts that kind of point to this. Zachariah eight; “God is jealous for Jerusalem. All of the old people will, once again, sit in the streets. All the children will, once again, play safely and the streets will be lit with the glory of God.”
Revelation twenty-one, twenty-two; you matched those up, "And I saw a new city. I know a new city and there was a river running through it. And on either side of the city were trees and on the trees were leaves for the healing of the people.”
First Corinthians, I don't know, I'm going to say thirteen, maybe not thirteen, fourteen, but there's a text that says, “You are the temple. You are the temple of the living God. We don't need a synagogue. We don't need a church, a mosque, a Gurdwara, because we are the church. We are the synagogue. The glory of God will be in the people so much so that none of that stuff is needed.”
And I think the promise of scripture, all of the people praising God in one voice, isn't the disruption of our distinctness, but it is the commonness of our view that we see love as God.
“God is love”, first John. And everyone who takes up residents in love, takes up residents in God and God tabernacles in them.
When that happens, in that great grit up morning, Negro spiritual, all of this institutional stuff will fade away and the little child will lead us to love. You and I will be gone, but maybe our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren will live that out.
Guy Kawasaki:
Until that happens, it seems to me that there are many people in power who say they are Christian and there are many powerful Christians. And they seem to act contrary to the morals and teachings of God. How does a person navigate which Christian messages are correct?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I could say, “Simply read my book and I will guide you. Get a copy of Fierce Love.”
But, you can't just lean on your pastors. You really can't. You have to be a curious student yourself.
There are so many study Bibles just as a starting place. The Oxford Study Bible, get in the footnotes, look at the words. “Oh, is that what that means in Hebrew?”
Oh, anything that's being said in your church, that sounds like hate, try to run from that church as fast as you can. Because there is no hate in the gospel of Jesus.
If you're in a church that might not be doing hate, but might be using the word “they” a lot about different folks, and acting like somehow God doesn't love all the people, I'd say “Be suspicious.” Have a hermeneutic of suspicion.
Get a couple of good books to read. Read James Cone, pick a book. The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Read Katie Cannon. Read some theology, read some Letty Russell, put some other theological words in your mind to help you ask yourself “What feels true? Does hate feel true? Does bigotry feel true? Does racism feel true? Does women not talking in church make sense?”
Just love your God with your whole mind and your whole soul.
Guy Kawasaki:
What if you're some good Catholic and you read that the Catholic church might not allow Joe Biden to participate because he's pro a choice.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
Yep. You go to the Bible, all the Bibles, and you look up ‘Communion, Eucharist.”
“What does the Bible say about communion?” And they'll be like, “You got to go to Corinthians, you got to go to Luke.” Who made this up? It's the Sabbath meal, it's Shabbat. You know who said, “You have to be tested to find out if you're worthy?” Not in there, it's not in there. It's just not.
So the difference between what is in there and what is dogma, ritual, system structure to create a way for you not to go? Take communion. For you not to be in limbo because you didn't what, X, Y, Z, who knows?
We just have to go straight to the word, and the words got some weird stuff in there.
If that's your second question, yeah, it does.
But there's nothing in the Jesus’ words that tell us about who can't come to that table. That's an abomination that we would withhold the meal life to connect with God's story from anyone.
Wow. Who do we think we are?
Guy Kawasaki:
If I may push back a little, whenever you hear this Christian leader or politician citing the Bible, they often cite some passage that justifies what they're doing.
How do we know what part of the Bible to believe then?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I think I'm trying to point people particularly to words of Jesus, to the gospels. If you are trying to figure out what would Jesus do, maybe read his words.
“Love God, love neighbor, love self.”
There are 633 codes in the Hebrew book. That is just a lot. What is the right thing to do with the loopholes and all the people?
And when the rich young ruler tried to trap Jesus, he said, “Love.” Pulled up some Leviticus, and some Deuteronomy. “Love God with your whole mind, your whole heart, your whole soul and your strength” and this commandment as well, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
He wasn't pulling those out of his butt, people. They were from his holy text, right? Oh it wasn't abracadabra. He took as a rabbi would, and pulled texts that proved for his sermon, what he wanted to say.
This was his sermon on love.
So what I'm saying is when and doubt, love. Go right there to Jesus' words where he tells you, “Love your neighbor, love yourself, love your God.”
If we are tracking those three-legged stools we heard in seminary, these three overlapping circles of love in my book. You, your people, your God, you got to love you to love your people. And the way you prove you love your God, Jesus says, is to “Love your people.”
So love some people, love your God, and love yourself, that's pretty good gospel.
And if you ask yourself through the lens of love, does this make sense? Do we want to stone somebody with soda cans because they're gay? Nope.
Do we want to make black people sit on the back of the bus, or the back of the line, or make less wages? No.
Do we want to injure Japanese people because there's a war? No.
Do we want to have closed borders when we all immigrants except for black people? No.
And indigenous people, no.
So through the lens of love, feed people, add some more stuff from Jesus.
“Feed my sheep, go visit the sick, visit the imprisoned.” It's not tricky.
Guy Kawasaki:
How can you say you're a Christian and say, “We're going to, as a way to dissuade people from sneaking across our borders, we're going to break up families.”
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
You can't, you cannot.
That's what you are saying and that's what I'm saying. Stop pretending that's Christian.
So how did we in the name of the immigrant, the refugee, imagine we should make policies against refugees. That does not make sense. So you're proving my point that through the lens of the life and teachings of Jesus, we could get back to basics.
Everything else is mid rash. Paul is doing mid rash on Jesus. The gospel writers are doing mid rash on Jesus.
We have got some different sources about where the words of Jesus are, but like the overlapping place in the gospels where the synoptic ones and John are saying, this is the message of the rabbi. That's the place to start. If somebody's failing that test, you should vote them out of office. Stop pretending like they're being a Christian, because they're not.
Did that sound a little bit like a Pharisee? But that's okay.
Guy Kawasaki:
Do you think God is sitting up there and she is thinking maybe I made a mistake… Maybe I should have controlled things more.
Or do you think she's laughing and saying, "Oh, let's just see what these total screw ups do next.”
I mean, what-
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I think it's more the latter. I love that hypothetical question because it just invites our theology.
I love that God is a she, I really do. I love of the image of God as she; wisdom, holy spirit.
We're not making it up y'all. The holy spirit is feminine article ruak you know, neuma.
But whatever the life force is, that is God that set the world in motion and watches a little bit from a distant and sometimes intervenes, we just don't know, the spirit will blow where...
I think God weeps when we hurt each other. I think God is distressed at the state of our world. And so not laughing, but maybe weeping and maybe saying, "Come on my people."
That just feels like I'm mother who would be watching her kids fight. "Come on my people, you have each other.” “When I die, you're only going to have each other," My mom would say.
So you got to get along. Maybe God's this kind of mother saying, "Babies, you only have each other and you have this earth I gave you. What the hell? Get it together. There are limited resources and limited time. All these people, they're your people because they're all my people. Now take that, what are you going to do about that?"
I feel like that might be more the tone that at least I imagine.
Guy Kawasaki:
Third subject is love. Why is self-love the starting point for you?
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I think it's the starting point of that command.
And I think it gets buried.
If you're reading in the Greek language, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, The word ose is the connector and that's an equal sign.
My husband said this to me one time. "Maybe the real problem with human beings is we are loving each other the way we love ourselves, and we don't love ourselves." So we're loving each other in a crappy way.
With stinginess, and judgment, and inflexibility, and no grace. Because that's how we love ourselves. Hard on ourselves, shit on ourselves, despise ourselves, self-loathing.
So just as a psychologist, thinking about early development and the way we shape children, the container in which we hold kids, the womb first is the first container holding environment. The way you mirror to kids, "I see you, oh my gosh, look at you. You're so shiny. You're so smart. I'm so proud of you." Or “Stupid ass.” Or “You can't do anything right.”
Which one of those children is going to love themselves?
Interject, take in the magic. “You're so wonderful. You made a mistake. I forgive you. I see you.”
This is the beginning of a healthy, not narcissistic, not self-absorbed, but a healthy self.
My favorite definition of love. Jim Loader, "Love is the non-possessive delight in the particularity of the other."
Therapist will say, “You should have an unconditional regard for your patient and your client. You can't work with them if you just think they're a piece of crap.”
Somewhere in the world of this biblical, kind of baptizing, I want to say mind washing, brainwashing of the mind. “We're worms, we're unworthy, God had to die for us because we just stink and we're just terrible.” Why? How about Marianne Williamson, like “How dare you? Who are you not to think you're wonderful?”
How do we honor God's creativity of us?
“I am in the image of the divine, there's a divine sparky in me, I'm not perfect, but I'm creative like God I'm generative like God.”
Psalm eight says, “We were made a little lower than God. A little lower than God.” People don't like to say that, so they try to say it's angels. But it's a little lower than Elohim, which is God. And crowned with glory and honor, and crowned with glory and honor, why? So we can be God's people in the world.
Take care of mama earth, take care of each other. Take care of the water, take care of the land.
You are god's vice Roy, you are God's dude, you are God's daughter. And you got to love that about yourself. So that's why.
If we don't love ourselves, we are walking wounded with a walking wounded guy who will harm each other, who will hurt each other, because we are hurt.
Guy Kawasaki:
Aren't you afraid that people will hear the term ‘self-love’ and turn that into self-worship.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
I'm not afraid of that. I don't know if I should be, but I'm not.
I think what I'm saying is an antidote to the other thing. All the women that have been told, “Never think about yourself. Your job is to just deplete yourself”, and so then you got to angry, sad mom running on empty, unable to really fully give herself over to her children because she wasn't taught that herself mattered in that dynamic.
Angry, fighting spouses, because we're not taught that... “I would like to go for a walk.” Is it selfish to assert yourself? No. But if you don't assert yourself, you bend to the will of all the people around you, and then you just have nothing.
So I think I'm talking about an antidote to why we medicate, why we drink too much, why we work so much, why we are Sexaholics, why we're mean; because there's no love in the soul. That we're on the subway, hating ourselves, at the marketplace hating ourselves, at school hating ourselves.
Why? Because no one says you should love yourself.
We've got a long way to go before we get to a world of narcissists. There might be some narcissists already, and I'm likely there already will be some because they'll misunderstand us.
But I think most of us know what I mean, and know that I'm right, that we just haven't been taught how to love ourselves.
Guy Kawasaki:
Last question. I want you to paint a picture of the future of religion in America.
Dr. Jacqui Lewis:
More women, more people of color, more marginalized people with maybe not so centrist, Western Christian ideals, begin to lead in all kinds of disciplines.
They teach, they write, they sing songs. They preach sermons. They write books. They raise kids. And they bring with them to all of those spaces, cosmologies, theologies, because they've had permission to love themselves and to trust themselves.
And they use new metaphors for God, like mama and earth and sky, and someone who's a sick says, “Oh yeah, we have a story about a woman warrior who...” And then somebody goes, “Oh yeah. And over here the Buddha said”, and somebody says, "Did you read that roomy poem?" And somebody says, "Do you remember King's letter from a Birmingham jail?" And somebody says, "And what about Fannie Lou Hamer." All these texts stop feeling like they're outside of the cannon, but they're inside of the cannon.
And we understand that God is still speaking, and she likes to cry, and she likes to laugh, and she speaks many languages, and she speaks many religiosities, and new books are written and they're taught in seminary.
So when your daughter and your daughter's daughter go to seminary, they're reading new stuff. Not just Katie Cannon, but Jen Bailey's new book, and Krista Tippett new book, and Dante Stewart's new book and all of these new stories and new texts will swirl around and keep reforming religion.
And the core of the leaders in the nation practice Buddhism, and Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism, and it's okay. And when they get sworn into office, they put their hands on something other than Bible, and it's okay.
As long as the joining thread is love, and respect, and justice.
Like Octavia Butler's science fiction, that new religion is born, born of love.
Guy Kawasaki:
I sure hope that Jacqui is right about her predictions. It would be remarkable.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People.
My thanks to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick. Shannon Hernandez, Louis Magana, Madisun Nuismer, and Alexis Nishimura: that's the Remarkable People team.
Until next time, Mahalo and Aloha.