No Brady Bunch Mom: A Tribute to “Saint” Julia MacLeod

JulieBy Oz Cole-Arnal, former professor emeritus at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary

In Catholic parlance a saint becomes a singled out role model to emulate, but in terms of Scriptural usage the term applies to all the baptized who took on the name of Jesus the Christ. Rather than argue such a point, I would suggest that Julia MacLeod, my dear friend and mentor, whose loss we now mourn and whose life we honor, fulfills both above definitions. We have bid fond adieu to a sister who has role modeled for me what it means to love and follow Christ over against the common and easy definition of the term. Rather than define what this means in abstract terms, I choose instead to underscore her and her “hubby” George’s impact on my life and how they both shaped my Christian faith in maturing and radical ways. In other words, as feminists of the 1970s put it, “the personal is political”. This is and was Julia’s profound impact on my life. Now, on to some illustrations! Continue reading

Don’t Touch

Dan B.An excerpt from Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings (ed. John Dear, p.50).

One day, as we were being taken handcuffed from the jail for a court appearance, a young nun who was a dear friend reached out her hand to mine in solidarity as we issued from the jail. One of the marshalls came forward in a swift, reptilian move. He crashed down between our hands with a karate blow. “Don’t touch!” It was the epitome of the system; he had said it all.

Don’t touch–make war. Don’t touch–be abstract, about God and death and life and love. Don’t touch–make war at a distance. Don’t touch your enemies, except to destroy them. Don’t touch, because in the touch of hand to hand is Michelangelo’s electric moment of creation. Don’t touch, because law and order have so decreed, limiting the touch of one person to another, to the touch of nightsticks upon flesh. Continue reading

The Church is not Beholden

RomeroFrom Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Oscar Romero by Michael E. Lee (Orbis Books, 2018), quoted by Chava Redonnet of Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church (Upstate New York):

By viewing the church’s mission as service to God’s reign, Romero opens up a theological space that did not exist in the old colonial mind-set. The church is not beholden to the state, nor does it function to legitimize the status quo in the name of good ‘order.’ The reign of God and its criteria, not the government, should dictate the church’s action.

An Unholy License

douglassA timely message from Frederick Douglass (1852).

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?

I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

Unbroken Connection

DinaAn excerpt from Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s brilliant new release As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (2019).

The very thing that distinguishes Indigenous peoples from settler societies is their unbroken connection to ancestral homelands. Their cultures and identities are linked to their original places in ways that define them: they  are reflected in language, place names and cosmology (origin stories). In Indigenous worldviews, there is no separation between people and land, between people and other life forms, or between people and their ancient ancestors whose bones are infused in the land they inhabit and whose spirits permeate place.

This Sacred Work

TeresaIn April 2016, Teresa Grady joined the Ancestors after 88 years of resisting and rising above the colonial script. This is an excerpt from the eulogy given by her granddaughter Cait De Mott Grady at the funeral mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Ithaca, New York.

My grandma who found cracks in empire and planted seeds in the rich and fertile soil that’s there. My grandma knew in her gut, in her bones, in her heart, in her spirit, that it is imperative that each of us say something, do something, speak from our specific position within the interlocking systems of oppression — patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, racism, militarism, materialism — systems that work to strip us all of our humanity. And that this sacred work starts with relationships.

Teresa Grady: Presente!

Elders

JeanieBy Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann, an excerpt from her “Editor’s Note” in the May 1999 issue of The Witness magazine, organized around the theme “Aging: Learning to be an Elder.” 

Elders usually must let go of their expectations to be power brokers, but they are also often positioned in a way that allows them greater freedom to act politically. Recently my partner Bill and I were at an Ash Wednesday vigil at the local manufacturer of cruise missile engines. Except for a few college students, we were probably the youngest people there–which isn’t saying much since we are in our 40s. On one level, that gave us an opportunity to beat ourselves up for our demographics–Why is the peace movement so white, so middle class and now so elderly? But in thinking about it, where would we prefer that elders be? What better task, could they adopt than to witness against fire power that can carry nuclear payload, but now is used in first-strike attacks against countries like Iraq or the former Yugoslavia? The conviction of these older ones is a gift to us. (I remember during a civil disobedience campaign against this same manufacturer in the early 1980s hearing a senior citizen say to a young mother who was agonizing about whether to do the action, “You take care of your babies. I’ll do this in your name and, before long, you can do this in the name of another mother.”) Continue reading