Archive for the ‘faith’ Tag

Hope in an unexpected place   Leave a comment

The following story – from the U.C. Observer –

( http://www.ucobserver.org/columns/2017/03/spirit_story/ ) –

is one that encourages all of us to remember those basic human characteristics of empathy and hope. Although the writer, and the story, are from the U.S.A., similar stories are happening in Canada too.

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Hope in a hardware store

By Alicia von Stamwitz

A new immigrant to the United States must enter public areas with caution, alert to hidden dangers. It’s a lesson I learned at a young age when my mother was bullied by a stranger in a grocery store.

So when I spot a Mexican man in a Home Depot store in St. Louis, I am not surprised that he looks anxious, shifting his weight from one foot to another. He’s short — maybe five feet tall in his heavy work boots — with a bushy black moustache. His furtive glances at the overhead signs tell me he does not read English.

I slow my cart, remembering a frightening experience from my childhood.

“Look at the treetops, Alicia!” my mother says as we creep along on shaded streets in our new station wagon. “The American oak trees are so tall and the branches are so wide that they meet at the top, like friends hugging each other.” She speaks to me in Spanish, but she is fluent in English thanks to her American teachers in Cuba. And thanks to American television, I have learned English fast.

We stop at a grocery store and push our cart up and down every aisle. “It’s expensive here,” she whispers in Spanish. As we wait in the checkout line, I notice the man behind us is watching my mother. He takes a step forward and says in a low voice, “What are you doing here?” My mother looks up, startled. “I — I am shopping.” Her English is perfect, but her voice is high, as if she is asking a question.

“You do not belong here,” the man growls. My mother turns to the cashier and holds out a coupon. But the cashier does not take the coupon; her eyes are fixed on the man. Everyone is looking at him. “Go back to where you came from, spic,” he hisses. The word hits my ears hard, like the word “spit.” Nobody moves at first, not even my mother. But when the man pushes past me to force her out of the narrow aisle, she turns to run and pulls me after her. When we are safely inside our car, I push down all four locks. My mother is trembling as we pull away.

This happened over 50 years ago. I want to believe things are better now, but I fear they are worse.

A long minute has passed, and the Mexican man in the home improvement store has not moved. I am about to step forward to help translate when a burly employee in an orange apron appears beside him. I tense. But the employee is a good man. You can see things like this at a glance. The way he ducks his head to meet the Mexican man’s lowered eyes. The way he nods encouragingly and speaks softly. I let out a breath. I did not realize I was holding it.

He gives me hope, this employee. I want to thank him when he is done helping the Mexican man. I want to remember that he and others like him have more collective power than any politician, even a demagogue.

On the way home, I look up at the treetops and repeat my mother’s words, like a poem or a prayer.

Alicia von Stamwitz is a writer and editor in St. Louis.

Civil Disobedience and Civil Resistance   Leave a comment

Changing the Rules of Engagement:

By Bill McKibben  March 2017

Published in Sojourners Magazine: https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2017/changing-rules-engagement

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AS WE ENTER this new Trumpish world, I’ve been thinking a lot about civil disobedience. I had the honor of delivering the first lecture in honor of the late Jonathan Schell two nights after the election, and used the occasion to reflect on his masterwork Unconquerable World, with its confident belief that the era of violence was passing and that nonviolent action was the right way for the “active many” to beat the “ruthless few.”

This jibes with my own experience of the last few years. Helping to organize big protests like the ones that launched the Keystone pipeline fight, or watching in admiration as friends galvanized the country around Standing Rock, has convinced me that these techniques continue to represent our best tools for change.

On the one hand, disobedience may be harder in the Trump era—it may come at a higher price, as the zealot officials he’s appointed crack down.

But civil disobedience may also be more important than ever, especially the civil part. Because what we are battling now is not just corporate power and shabby oligarchy. It’s also a galloping incivility, the verbal violence and crudity that marked Trump’s campaign and his days of preparing for the presidency. It’s the “alt-right” ugliness of Breitbart’s white nationalism; it’s the constant barrage of nasty tweets. None of it looks like anything we’ve seen before from a president, and all of it, whether by design or not, hacks at the bonds that hold us together as a nation.

If we respond to that in kind—with the same sort of anger and snarl—then we play into the hands of the Steve Bannons of the world. They’re always going to be better at it, just as they’re always going to have more weapons.

The Mosquito Manifesto   Leave a comment

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Rose Marie Berger, a Catholic peace activist and poet, frequently asks intriguing questions, rather than providing easy answers. In her reflections on the state of Christianity in the U.S.A., she poses the question: “Are we American Christians or Christians in America?”

There is a difference between these two identities.

Which one is like the mosquito?

Her full column, published in the February 2017 edition of Sojourners magazine, is also available online at: https://sojo.net/magazine/february-2017/mosquito-manifesto

The questions are applicable to Christians worldwide.

 

 

Hope in the struggle; a video   Leave a comment

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“This Christmas, let’s remind each other where to look for hope. Not among the wealthy and powerful, but in a poor young woman who said “yes” to transformation. Not in the halls or houses of the rulers, but in a manger “tucked under a donkey’s nose.”

That’s a part of a video for this season that was released by KAIROS Canada. For the full, inspiring video, go to:

http://www.kairoscanada.org/hope-struggle-kairos-christmas-video-sharing/?utm_source=KAIROS+Canada&utm_campaign=dce18893b5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_12_14&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_260e90eae1-dce18893b5-98966869

 

Conversation with Walter Brueggemann   Leave a comment

Courtesy of Walter Brueggemann

Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann was recently engaged with The United Church Observer in a conversation. Here’s an example:

I understand that one of your favourite texts is Isaiah 43:19, in which the prophet describes his vision of the “new thing” God is doing. What is your own new vision for our world? 

A My vision would include a neighbourly economy in which all are given access to what is needed for a life of dignity, security and well-being. It includes a new humanism in which we value our own faith confession but make room to take seriously the faith confessions of others. It is open to a new internationalism in which nobody, including the United States, is permitted to be a bully. It means the re-characterization of all of our social relationships in ways that are healthy, generative and restorative. This is obviously a huge leap, but I think that’s what Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about when he said, “I have a dream.”

The full conversation can be accessed at: http://www.ucobserver.org/interviews/2016/12/walter_brueggemann/

 

Posted December 14, 2016 by allanbaker in Christian Faith, Inspiration

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Citizens in God’s Commonwealth   Leave a comment

Leviticus 19:33-34When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.  Leviticus 19:33-34 NRSV Anglicized


As we live through these “interesting times”, I found inspiration in the words of The Rev. Desmond Jagger-Parsons. Desmond is concluding his service as Chair of the ecumenical coalition known as KAIROS.  His concluding paragraph in his recent post on the KAIROS website reads:

“Like many of you, as an individual, I have a partisan opinion about what has happened in the US election and I have them in Canada as well.  Some in KAIROS have the same opinion, some different.  It doesn’t matter.  Our common work is the work of Love – let us profess it boldly, with conviction, employing our rights as citizens and demanding the same for all.  And although the times may be times of fear, let us remember proclamation of the angels in both testaments: Do not be afraid.”

The full reflection on “Citizens in God’s Commonwealth” is at:

http://www.kairoscanada.org/spirited-reflection-citizens-gods-commonwealth?

 

 

The War on Christmas   Leave a comment

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Michael Coren surprised me by writing that the real war on Christmas is being waged by those on one end of the political spectrum. I was surprised by his argument, but it is well supported.

 Coren writes that, “Santa is more Coke than Christ, we indulge and spend rather than reflect and give, and while a white Christmas is beautiful, Bethlehem is more used to the red of blood than the white of snow.”

For the full column, go to: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/12/24/the-real-war-on-christmas-comes-from-the-right.html