Dreaming of Worlds to Come: A Letter to Young Activists

From the National Council of Elders (NCOE), founded by iconic civil right leaders, Rev. James Lawson, Dr. Dolores Huerta, Dr. Vincent Harding, Rev. Phil Lawson and Dr. Grace Lee Boggs, to bring together leaders of the 20th century movements for peace, freedom and justice to share their experiences with young activists in the 21st century. A re-post from roarmag.org.

The escalation of all forms of violence in our country over the last four years, the rise of anti-democratic forces demonstrated at the US Congress building on January 6 and the occupation of Washington, D.C. for President Biden’s inauguration add up to what may be among the most dangerous times in US history.

We elders, members of the National Council of Elders, invite you to pause and contextualize these events within a culture of violence that shapes America.

We know the US began with violence against Indigenous and African peoples. Through the centuries, the triple evils of racism, materialism and militarism have marked our country. At the same time, people have resisted these forces, organizing for freedom and justice.

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The Only Option Left

A Letter from Joshua Weresch to the Corporate Services Department, Tax Division, of the City of Hamilton, Ontario (February 26, 2021). #LentenAbolition

Good day. I hope this finds you well. My name is Joshua Weresch. My family and I live in Ward 8, non-Indigenous people on Indigenous Anishinaabeg land, and I write as a Christian, a socialist, and as a parent to my wife and I’s four children. I write particularly in regards to the payment of property taxes and use of those taxes for the support of the Hamilton Policing Services. I have carbon-copied my ward councillor’s office as well as the city clerk so that my letter to your department can be included as public correspondence on the agenda of the next city council meeting.

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Common Sense

By Tommy Airey

*Trigger warning: this post includes content, straight out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth, that some readers may find offensive and/or traumatizing.  

“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.”—Ezekiel 33:11

Rush Limbaugh died last week. When I heard the news, it took me back thirty years. During the Fall of my senior year in high school, I went on a weekend road trip from Orange County to Berkeley to surprise one of my best friends at college. I drove up with his dad. We parked a block from the hippies and unhoused on Telegraph Avenue. When my friend came down from his dorm room, I was hiding in the trunk of the car. His dad handed him the keys to open the trunk. I scared the living tar out of him.

I will never forget the look on his face.

I will also never forget stopping at In-n-Out Burger three times during our drive up.

And I will never forget listening to Rush Limbaugh for three straight hours through the most boring stretch of the 5, plowing past towns like Buttonwillow, Lost Hills and Los Banos. Spanish for “the bathrooms.” Plural and Providential. What we needed for all that bullshit blaring through the speakers.

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Dispatch from the Dragon’s Belly

Illustration by Lucia Wylie-Eggert

By Kateri Boucher. First printed in Geez 59: Powers and Principalities

“We might not see the dragon’s teeth
but have surely become its belly.”
– Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Will you join me in this imagining?

We find ourselves together in the belly of a beast. From certain angles – with teeth not in view – it may not look so beast-like. But, like it or not, all of us are caught in its grip.

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The State of Black America

A Message from The Movement for Black Lives.

Hello Community,

With the State of Black America coming up soon, we want to preview one of many important topics we’ll address: education and organizing in the pandemic.

You will hear from Black organizers and educators with the Chicago community organization Equity and Transformation (EAT). In a field report from Chicago, we will hear how Black organizers and educators came together to pass the Illinois BREATHE Act that will free up much-needed resources for schools and communities by redirecting funds away from racist, ineffective policing and mass incarceration. We’ll also hear from Dr. Armen Henderson with Dream Defenders and their efforts to expand COVID-19 health access to Black people who are unhoused and other communities in Florida.

RSVP for the State of Black America taking place before the State of the Union on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd at 6-8pm ET. Hear from Black movement leaders across the country. Organizers will discuss education and organizing in the pandemic, as well as climate, jobs, healthcare, public safety, and Black community self-determination.

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Nerve Us Up

By Ken Sehested

This past Sunday one of our members, Stan Wilson, offered the “call to the table” in our congregation’s zoom worship screen-gathering. He led with a suggestion that was equivalent, in my hearing, to a thunderclap.

“How about for Lent this year we give up Donald Trump?”

It was a table invitation (we celebrate the Eucharist every week) and an altar call rolled into one. And it certainly had my name on it.

The last four years in the US have been a national demolition derby, a Three-Stooge-esque comedy of incompetence and disrepute, a racketeer’s paradise and grifter’s playpen—only with real-world torment, particularly for those here and abroad with little shelter from the abuse.

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A Deeper Lent

By Ric Hudgens (right), a reflection from the Ash Wednesday service at North Suburban Mennonite (2/17/2021)

It feels as if we’ve been observing Lent all year. Always Lent and never Easter.

Almost a year ago we started wearing masks, separating from family and friends, working from home, moving to remote worship services, learning to sublimate desire on a daily basis. As the poet Anne Sexton wrote: “Your courage was a small coal that you kept swallowing.” 

I’m tired of swallowing coal.

Under normal circumstances (remember those?) I anticipate and savor the season of Lent. I savor how it focuses on our finitude, the certainty of our death, and our organic connection to the earth. The imposition of ashes and the declaration “dust thou art, to dust thou returneth” is a clarifying reassurance in the midst of much that is uncertain and confusing.

Although these elements are not the entirety of the Christian message, they have always seemed to me fundamental and necessary.

I love this season for its potential earthiness. Lent’s ability to ground us in the physical realities of our bodies and of our daily lives. I appreciate that recurring discovery that an annual confrontation with death can be a life-giving experience.

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A timely Lenten offering from the Alternative Seminary in Philly. An online gathering on Saturday morning.

The cross can heal and hurt; it can be empowering and liberating but also enslaving and oppressive … I believe that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree can help us to see Jesus in America in a new light, and thereby empower people who claim to follow him to take a stand against white supremacy and every kind of injustice.” 
James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree

 We are witnessing how the Christian faith has been contorted to almost unrecognizable shape and put at the service of empire – even though the founder of the faith was executed by empire. The cross of Christ, perhaps the central image of Christian life and thought, has been frequently been used to promote the idea of “redemptive violence,” and has been directly or indirectly used to vindicate and even bless human violence.


Mass Incarceration: The New Caste System

From Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. #LentenAbolition

It may be helpful, in attempting to understand the basic nature of the new caste system, to think of the criminal justice system—the entire collection of institutions and practices that comprise it—not as an independent system but rather as a gateway into a much larger system of racial stigmatization and permanent marginalization. This larger system, referred to here as mass incarceration, is a system that locks people not only behind actual bars in actual prisons, but also behind virtual bars and virtual walls—walls that are invisible to the naked eye but function nearly as effectively as Jim Crow laws once did at locking people of color into a permanent second-class citizenship. The term mass incarceration refers not only to the criminal justice system but also to the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison. Once released, former prisoners enter a hidden underworld of legalized discrimination and permanent social exclusion. They are members of America’s new undercaste.

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