By Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary
Penned barely two months after “My Prayer” in the same year (October, 1980), the poem below shows how painful is the continuation of forbidden hungers vying against my effort to sustain integrity in my relationships with my dear wife, two boys, students and friends. Above all, although 1980 proved healthier than the next five years when my marriage fell apart, the poem below shows how fragile this “calm before the storm.”
Lonely man sitting by the water—
Transfixed by its mirror image,
Clinging to the pond’s stillness,
Fearful of its changing ripples,
And chained within! Continue reading “Narcissus”→
From the Front Porch of Mother Ruby Sales (July 25, 2019).
Yesterday I wrote a very biting critique of Mueller’s testimony and his posture. In retrospect my heart bleeds for him. It is clear as I replay his testimony that he is experiencing a physical challenge that compromises his memory and intellectual reflexes.
I finally understood his unwillingness to testify. What appeared to be his arrogance might simply have been a fear of not being able to testify in full form. Yet , this old marine faithful to the call of duty showed up and exposed his most vulnerable self to the nation to perform what is perhaps his last duty for this country. Continue reading “My Remorse and Tears”→
I work on a farm and do a lot of farm-based education with youth. One of my weekly joys right now is walking the farm and leading kids on a tasting tour. We try carrots, sorrel, sugar snap peas, mint, cucumbers, blue borage flowers – which taste like cucumbers oddly enough. I point to a potato plant and ask kids to guess what the plant is. They guess – An apple plant? Tomato? Lettuce? When I dig down with the garden fork and begin to pull up on the plant, I can barely hold in my excitement. I know the squeals and gasps that will shortly ensue when they realize that, “it’s potatoes!” “Can we eat them?” Wait, no, we need to cook them first, I think? Mental note for later, “Google ‘can you eat raw potatoes’”. Continue reading “You Must Be Re-Natured”→
An excerpt from The Sun Magazine‘s 2018 interview with poet and professor Camille Dungy.
I am a Christian who is sad that it is often difficult for me to say that I am a Christian. I believe in what I understand to be the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ: Love one another, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Justice and care and dangerous, radical kindness — I believe in all that. But I don’t believe that there is just one “right” Church. And I don’t believe in waiting to go to heaven to get my due…I’m going to fight for my due here and now, and for my daughter’s due. This is the only version of heaven that my God has given me, so this is where I am going to do my work. Continue reading “The Only Version of Heaven my God Has Given Me”→
Siwatu-Salama Ra is an environmental justice activist in Detroit, Michigan. Two years ago, she was arrested for pulling out a gun when someone violently threatened her two-year-old daughter. She was a licensed gun owner and never fired a shot. She was found guilty of felony firearm and given a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. She gave birth to her son while in prison. After serving eight months, she has been released on bond as she awaits her appeal. Her case raises many questions about self-defense, racial disparities in the justice system, and the treatment of incarcerated women. Her story also highlights the power of organizing and community. Lydia Wylie-Kellermann interviewed Siwatu while she was out on bond awaiting her appeal.
Geez: Could you start by introducing yourself and saying a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Siwatu-Salama Ra: My name is Siwatu-Salama Ra. I’m a daughter of a long-time community organizer and activist, Rhonda Anderson. I was raised by a single mother who raised all four of her children and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. I followed a lot of what my mom did, and I started environmental justice work at about 14.
Recently, people have given me another title – a difficult title – of being a political prisoner. I was released from prison almost five months ago. I came home to a baby who was turning six-months-old, who I had given birth to in prison. And a three-year-old who is close to being four now. I left when she was two. Continue reading “Mothering Behind Bars: A Conversation with Siwatu-Salama Ra”→
These last few months my life has intertwined between daily posts on RadicalDiscipleship and the crafting of word and images for Geez magazine. I love the work. My heart rises to the gathering of stories and the power of word in our work for liberation.
I am struck by the ways that RadicalDiscipleship and Geez co-mingle in their theologies, their work, and the communities of writers and readers. They bless one another and I am blessed by them both. They are different looking limbs in the common struggle. I long to conspire more holy mischief between the two. My mind is percolating and if you have thoughts, send them my way.
In the meantime, I want to make sure the invitation for both readers and writers is explicit. RadicalDiscipleship is a daily online dose of spirit. Geez is a strictly off-line oasis of beauty and story arriving in your mailbox four times a year.
If you don’t believe me, Tom Airey, my fellow co-curator and friend said “Over the past few years, Geez magazine has been like an ice cold IPA for my soul.”
So, we are offering a rare deal to RadicalDiscipleship readers to subscribe to Geez for 20% off. (A one year subscription normally $39 a year would be $31.20 or a three year subscription for $105 is now just $84.) Simply click HERE and put in the code “RD”.
Also, if you want to join Geez’s monthly newsletter or sign up to be in our writers/artist list, click HERE.
Ok, that is as close to an ad as you are going to get on RD.
On June 8th I was baptized by my home church, the Wilderness Way Community in Portland, OR. I was asked to reflect on why I was choosing to be baptized.
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”—Micah 6:8
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”—Phil 4:13
The Bible and its legacy is full of contradictions and conflicts and also beauty and strength. In 2014, when I came to Wilderness Way I found myself feeling dry and broken. That feeling was an extended phase that continued for some time. I had a relationship with God but Jesus and Christianity was completely off the table. Except the occasional times when I would pick up the Bible, read some passages—and feel disgusted or bored or confused and walk away again. I wrestled with a lot of shoulds, anger and fears. I struggled to do justice, to love kindness and the walk humbly with God. I struggled acutely with all three of these. Continue reading “This Baptism”→
By Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary
In his work on his manuscript-size memoirs, charting a life between the two Poor Peoples Campaigns, Oz Cole-Arnal (photo right) has reached the decade of his early to latter ’40s, the most broken period of his 78 years. He recounts betraying virtually all his values, barely able to sustain his faith & vision toward radical equality, stumbling along in brokenness, hurting all those he loved most. One help in such tumbling was the turning to poetry, which he has rediscovered & re-absorbed. This is the first of two poems to be posted on RadicalDiscipleship.net.
Agonizing over bills, wanting more money, always more.
Always hungry, often empty, craving the offered promises.
Success, manhood, recognition, love,
Happiness in pills, food, the quick win, casual sex.