A Spirituality of the Feet Moment

OzBy Dr. Oz Cole-Arnal (far left in photo), former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

As a “once upon a time” born-again fundamentalist Lutheran, nurtured and raised in a Pennsylvania steel town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who bought into that epoch’s anti-Catholicism and anti-Communism, I reflected the standard “White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant—Male” (WASP-M) privilege while being blithely unaware of the advantages this reality provided. My intense discovery of the quintessential Protestant core belief that we are made right with God, through no works of our own but solely though divine love manifested through Christ’s cross and made personal through trust in this radical God of love, combined with my academic love and success, led me to the ordained Lutheran ministry and the hope of teaching New Testament after a stint in parish ministry. Such a dream was turned on its head by a more profound conversion on the evening of April 4, 1968 when the blood of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poured out on the balcony of Memphis, Tennessee’s Lorraine Motel. At the very moment I heard the news of his death, I feel to my knees and through my tears, vowed never to be silent in the face of injustice. Whether or not I have been true to that pledge remains in God’s loving hands, precisely where it belongs, but I highlight here one glorious moment of a fifty-year pilgrimage that I celebrate to this very day. Continue reading

Meeting the Sacred in Our Daily Lives

IMG_9157By Marcia Lee

Every month, I host a gathering at Taproot Sanctuary, an intentional community of mostly people of color working on living in right relationship with the earth and our neighbors.  These gatherings are Circles of Trust.  They are in the lineage of the work of Parker Palmer through my work as a facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal.  The purpose of these gatherings, or mini-retreats, is to create a space for us to listen to our inner voices and to support each other in following the calling of our own souls.  We do this type of deep listening best when we are in spaces where we can trust that our words and actions are not repeated and that the people in the community with us are listening to us not for their own benefits, but to just be a witness and support of us.  We use what we call third things to accompany us.  The third thing might be a poem, song, or something in nature.  These third things allow us to focus in on the issue at hand in a more gentle and circular manner. Continue reading

Loving Our Enemies in the Work for Social Change: An Interview with Jonathan Matthew Smucker

SmuckerIntroduction: Jonathan Matthew Smucker (right) is a Mennonite political organizer and author who recently published Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals. He is currently working in his home town of Lancaster Pennsylvania with Lancaster Stands Up to support Jess King, a Mennonite candidate for US House of Representatives. In our conversation we explored his relationship with his Mennonite faith and how his work relates to loving our enemies. 

Note: A shorter version of this interview curated by Tim Nafziger was published in the October 2018 print edition of The Mennonite.

Tim Nafziger: How would you introduce yourself to Mennonites who aren’t familiar with your work?

Jonathan Matthew Smucker: I grew up Mennonite in Lancaster County in a rural, working class pretty conservative area. We went to Bart Mennonite Church until I was nine and then we went to Ridgeview Mennonite Church. Continue reading

A Revelation

Descending, Front CoverAn excerpt from Tommy Airey’s recent release Descending Like A Dove: Adventures in Decolonizing Evangelical Christianity.

A few weeks into 2016, the Flint water crisis went viral. Tap water was poisoned with high levels of lead and bacteria. As complaints from residents came pouring in, city and state officials did nothing to change the situation. Just denial. For almost two whole years.

A month after the crisis made the headlines of every major newspaper in the world, Flint native and retired autoworker Claire McClinton drove sixty miles south to visit a group of us organizing for clean and affordable water in Detroit. These were Claire’s opening remarks:

We send you greetings from the occupied city of Flint. You can go to the gas station and get lead-free gas. You can go to the hardware store and get lead-free paint. Even a capitalist knows the dangers of lead. But we can’t go to our sink and get lead-free water. I’ve got PTSD. In fact, everybody’s got it if you care about humanity.

Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: He Comes with the Mountains

20180618_150922

Cedar at the Poor People’s Campaign action on June 18 in Detroit.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

“You have rocks in your bag.”

Stunned, I said, “it’s possible. I have kids.” I searched frantically through my bag that I had carefully packed that morning in hopes of getting quickly through security at the 36th District Court before court. I tried to gloss over the contraband tics tacs and pencil I had hidden at the bottom- necessities for keeping a 2-year-old silent in the court room that day. I can’t find anything. They wait, “Check another pocket.” Sure enough, there in the front, I find them. I pull out hands filled with mountain stones, Detroit River rocks, and pine cones all covered in sand that pours through my fingers. I hand them over to the security guard who doesn’t flinch as I apologize and she heads for the trash can. Continue reading

Visit from a Prophet

By Joyce HollydayPraying mantis 2

I slept late yesterday morning. By the time I had emerged from the trees on my walk, the pasture was already blanketed in a sultry haze. My mind was preoccupied with an upcoming trip and the pile of tasks I need to accomplish before I can leave for a week. I plodded along, barely noticing what was around me.

I felt a tiny prick above my right ankle and reached down reflexively to brush away a mosquito. This was some mosquito—huge and bright green, with a triangular face. When I tried to pry the odd creature away from my sock, it dug in the sharp spines on its forelegs and clung more fiercely. I was afraid it would leave behind a leg or two if I persisted, so I sat down in the grass and stared for a while at its curious face. Continue reading

Connoisseur

indexBy Kate Foran

For Steve

Your appetite has a reputation of its own. Dinner hosts glow as you ask for seconds and thirds and they marvel that a person of your moderate size can put so much away. You must have several hollow limbs, they wonder, and you offer your compliments to the chef, tasting everything again. Before you go to a party you “pre-eat,” you say, so as not to embarrass yourself. You remember your life as a series of meals—the loaf of bread Mrs. DiMartino baked you for your seventh birthday, the pasta your grandmother made and draped over chairs and towel racks in the kitchen, the collards and fried chicken you ate with gusto, to the delight of the local cook in Memphis. You never encountered a meal you didn’t like. Continue reading