What I’m Learning About Grief

“If The Trees Can Keep Dancing, So Can I”
A crowd-sourced poem compiled by NPR’s poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander. Re-posted from npr.org.

What I’m learning about grief
is that it sits in the space between laughs
comes in the dark steals the warmth from the bed covers threads sleep with thin tendrils
is a hauntingly familiar song,
yet I can’t remember the words…

What I’m learning about grief
is that it rolls like a heavy mist settles into the crevices lingers on the skin.
Visits, then visits again
Lurking under my chair.
And, when I’m not watching
Reaches out her tiny claws
And bats my ankles —

Continue reading “What I’m Learning About Grief”

Coronavirus: Mediator, Messenger, Principality, Teacher

Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Chicago, June 2020, Drake Toulouse CC

By Jim Perkinson, re-post from Geez magazine

“Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy. We are Messenger.” – Karen Flyntz, An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans

“First bind the Strong Man.” – Mark 3:27

COVID-19 is a messenger. Unseen by us, it began, somewhere in the wild, as a mysterious particle—neither living nor non-living—riding bat wings! But now, it has become a Power. How such might be so is the subject of this writing. Under viral tutelage, we are made witnesses today to an “angel”, in biblical terms, “falling.” Right in front of our eyes! And its falling is essentially a matter of prodigality, of ballooning to unimaginable dimensions. But to see such, we need guidance. Water Wink of scholarly fame, a scant generation ago, ripped open contemporary vision to see behind the veil of “fake news” and political machination. Teasing out the varied meanings of an arcane discourse of “principalities and powers,” Wink unmasked institutional domination in a brand new (but very old) dimension. With his wisdom as counsel, we will track the way a rudimentary class of spirits he calls (quoting Paul) “elements” can be inflated into an overbearing regime of Domination. The “elementary” trope in New Testament use, ranges from angelic beings associated with new moons and zodiac signs to demonic creatures animating legal adherences or even natural forces exercising influence and pressure on human experience and decision-making. The piece to follow here will explore the recent advent of the coronavirus in human experience as just such a natural “element”—part of the winged world of bats for who knows how long a stretch of time, suddenly finding opportunistic opening to “work its magic” in searching for a new arrangement among a whole new constituency.

Continue reading “Coronavirus: Mediator, Messenger, Principality, Teacher”

A Revolution of Value

An excerpt from Eddie Glaude, Jr.’s recent release Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own (2020).

In our after times, our task, then, is not to save Trump voters—it isn’t to convince them to give up their views that white people ought to matter more than others. Our task is to build a world where such a view has no place or quarter to breathe. I am aware that this is a radical, some may even say, dangerous claim. It amounts to “throwing away” a large portion of the country, many of whom are willing to defend their positions with violence. But we cannot give in to these people. We know what the result will be, and I cannot watch another generation of black children bear the burden of that choice…

Our task, then, is not to save Trump voters nor is it to demonize them. Our task is to work, with every ounce of passion and every drop of love we have, to make the kingdom new! The first step involves what I called…a “revolution of value.” This involves telling ourselves the truth about what we have done. It entails implementing policies that remedy generations of inequities based on the lie. It requires centering a set of values that holds every human being sacred. All of this will be made possible by grassroots movements that shift the center of gravity of our politics…Our task involves shaking loose the warm “swaddling clothes” that secure us in our prejudices and prevents us from confronting our fears. Our task means speaking truth to power and looking the darkness of our times squarely in the face without the security of legend or myth, and without the comforting idea that black people will save you.

The Deeper Hope

SNGBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), Salt and Light Lutheran Church (Portland, OR), Sunday, November 29, 2020, Mark 13:24 – 31

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the service this week. For the season of Advent, the plan was to have a storyteller for each Sunday of the season…one story each Sunday to go along with the theme for the week: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Well, when I reached out to folks this week I found stories of Peace, Joy and Love, but hope…? Hope was a little harder to come by. Now, maybe not. Maybe I just didn’t happen to reach out to the people with hope stories! Or maybe, as I ultimately discerned, the Spirit was inviting ME to tell a hope story because hope has been a little hard to come by FOR ME. And I admit it! I have struggled with the whole notion of hope for a long time now, and I actually think I am not alone in this struggle. Continue reading “The Deeper Hope”

Rosa Parks: Presente!

Today is the 65th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. When she was forty-two years old, she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus after working all day as a seamstress at a department store. Many Black folk had done the same thing before. They were arrested, kicked off or killed. Her act of divine disobedience sparked a successful bus boycott that lasted 381 days. But her co-workers refused to speak to her and she got fired from her job. She received constant death threats. When she moved north to Detroit a year later, the threats and intimidation continued. In 1965, a conservative organization plastered huge billboards along the Selma march that depicted Dr. King and Rosa Parks as “Communists.”

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Welcoming Illegal Life: Disciplines of Readiness

adventA compelling Advent offering from radical disciples in the Bay. 
Somewhere in this country–out in the desert or under a freeway or in some cramped tenement apartment–an illegal baby is being born, brown-skinned and beautiful and trailing the wisdom of the ancestors that we need for this time. We can’t tell you where this birth is happening; if we did, Herod would deport mother and child, or worse. But it is happening. It is always happening.
And wherever new life is being birthed, it is vulnerable and under threat. New life, if it is genuinely new, is a danger to the systems of deathliness amidst which we live, and so new life is endangered everywhere. Women are being subjected to forced hysterectomies in immigrant detention camps while the right of any woman to have sovereignty over her birthing capabilities is under siege throughout the country.
How do we ready ourselves to welcome and protect illegal life–in the world and within ourselves? What are the disciplines of readiness? This is what we will attend to in this four-session Advent series. 
Something is being birthed in you and in us. Let’s prepare together:
Tuesdays, December 1-22
7:30-9 ET/ 4:30-6 PT
By donation to support the work of the facilitators
About the facilitators
Rev. Lynice Pinkard is a Black writer, teacher, healer, pastor, and public intellectual operating at the intersection of Christianity, economics, and social change. Her current work is dedicated to decolonizing the human spirit and freeing people from what she calls “empire affective disorder.” Her commitment is to inspire and nurture a new generation of Spirit-filled servant leaders dedicated to the remediation of day-to-day suffering, the building of collective resilience for transformative change, and the pursuit of structural and systemic justice in the world.
Nichola Torbett is a white spiritual seeker, recovering addict, gospel preacher, racial justice podcaster, nonviolent direct action trainer, and petsitter. She is committed to helping other white people recognize their own trauma and discontent as catalysts for the dismantling of systems of oppression that are killing us all, and killing Black and Brown people first. She is grateful to First Congregational Church of Oakland and Second Acts as her primary communities of accountability.
Lynice and Nichola have been teaching, writing, and fomenting communities of recovery and resistance together for eleven years. Forged by mutual longing, love, and shared risk, their cross-racial friendship forms the basis for the transformative work they do with others.

Peace on Earth and the Politics of Christmas

An online offering from Will O’Brien of the Alternative Seminary in Philly. December 5 at 10:30amEST.

Much of the Christian church in the United States has been co-opted by an American gospel of prosperity, racism, violence, and militant nationalism. The celebration of Christmas is a victim of that co-optation: It is often wrapped in innocent, feel-good. Hallmark-card imagery. But in fact the biblical texts describing the coming of Jesus are making powerful assertions about the politics of the Bible that speak very much to our contemporary global crises. This online gathering will explore the “nativity narratives” in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke to see how they express core biblical themes of justice and liberation. We will try to “un-domesticate” these tales of liberation and reflect on how they are truly challenging us in terms of our allegiance and our discipleship. A perfect event for Advent.

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Confession & Call to Action: White Supremacy & the 2020 Election

Today, once again, all eyes are on Michigan as the State Board of Canvassers votes to certify the election results. This is a statement written by white radical disciples in Detroit. Click on and sign to be in solidarity.

We are speaking in this moment as White people.

We join our voice with others.

Continue reading “Confession & Call to Action: White Supremacy & the 2020 Election”

Pillar of Fire- An Interview with Joyce Hollyday

Almost eight years ago, I meandered around the house with a bulging belly waiting and waiting for labor to begin. As I waited, I listened to Joyce Hollyday rattle off newly learned facts about weapons in the Middle Ages. At night, I would try to relax my body and she would read the early chapters of this beautiful book I now hold in my hands.

Joyce has written an incredible novel that is healing salve for our hearts in this moment. It is a page turner that takes you into a world and a character who sits in the midst of a harsh world and somehow manages to find a fertile faith, a loving community, and incredible joy.

It is the kind of book you might want to read in the candlelit darkness of Advent or gift to all your friends under the tree. Here are some words from Joyce about the book. I hope you enjoy! – Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Continue reading “Pillar of Fire- An Interview with Joyce Hollyday”