Conversation with Mark Charles

Mark Charles is a national-speaker and writer regarding modern-day history. He leads his audiences to find the roots of social justice issues embedded deep in history.

Mark gave a lecture called “The Heresy of Christendom and the Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery” here in Charlottesville as part of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective‘s Cville2Jtown pilgrimage, October 6-13, 2018.

In this video, Mark and I have a conversation following his lecture about what led him to do this work of social justice, the conversations he’s had, and what life on the reservation has taught him about faith.

Learn more about Mark Charles’ work by visiting

Video Highlights

History vs. mythology 1:11.

What led Mark Charles into this conversation and work regarding the history of native peoples 6:04

How do I engage in this conversation where I’m honest about what I feel, but I’m not repelling everyone from the dialogue? The metaphor of native communities as a grandmother living in an old house. 9:26

The crux of the dialogue we need to have is not between oppressors and victims… The heart of the conversation is the reversal of roles. 11:08

“I’m exhorting our nation to understand in some very real and practical ways that they’re guests in someone else’s house. And I’m exhorting our indigenous peoples in some very real and practical ways that we are the host peoples of the land. And we need to live into that role as the host.” 12:55

Thinking about what “Incarnation” looks like in the work of racial conciliation. 13:53

The transformation of Mark Charles’ understanding of Christian suffering. 17:13

What does it mean to move into the neighborhood with no lifelines out? “You can live in the neighborhood, but you’re not living the life of your neighbors.” 19:02

“Your faith and the faith of your neighbors are entirely different.” 19:54

“God has a sense of humor. If I had a $75 bill due, that has a $25 late fee, I’ve learned that God would rather give me a $100 a week after the bill is due than $75 before the bill was due. … God is adamant that the banks are not in control.” 22:04

It was so fascinating to experience this and to learn this, and then actually to begin to kind of trust in it and recognize it.” 22:51

Jesus trusting in God’s provision to pay his taxes. 23:20

“Living on that reservation for eleven years was a discipleship class in and of itself.” 25:11

I say this when I preach to our native peoples on the reservation: “You have a faith that’s greater than any missionary who’s ever come here. Because you – we – pray regularly here on the reservation for our daily bread, literally…The problem is that they don’t value your faith. God values it. I value it. And I affirm it.” 26:08

“Nothing will transform your faith more than praying for your daily bread.” 27:0

“If were to have a class on faith, the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed…these are the people who should be teaching it.” 27:40

From Prophecy to Proverb

From Prophecy to Proverb28:41

Wise is the church that refuses to buy into the trappings of partisan politics

Remember my brothers and sisters, Jesus did not come to create a Christian Empire

He came to make disciples.

He came to offer his body as a living sacrifice.

He came to plant a church.

When the church merely lobbies one political leader and protests the other

When, for the sake of argument or political gain, the body of Christ turns a blind eye to one sin and magnifies another

We are not representing the headship of our body…

who is Christ.

As vile, repulsive and urgent is the separation of families at our border

it is not the first time…

Indian Removal, the slave trade, Boarding Schools, lynching’s, Japanese Internment camps, mass incarceration

the list of ways the United States government has worked to destroy the family structure of people of color throughout our history is as long as it is depressing.

So let’s stop pretending that President Trump is the God ordained savior, or the ultimate demise of our union.

The same with President Obama.

What our nation needs is not for Democrats to be better Democrats.

Nor do we need Republicans to simply be better Republicans.

We don’t even need our nation to be more Christian.

My brothers and sisters, the United States of America is not, never has been, nor will it ever be Christian.

Jesus did not come to create a Christian Empire.

He came to make disciples.

He came to offer his body as a living sacrifice.

He came to plant a church.

And wise is the church that refuses to buy into the trappings of partisan politics.

I agree with Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, who said,

“What a nation needs more than anything else is not a Christian ruler in the palace but a Christian prophet within earshot.”

Mark Charles


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