#RevolutionOfValues: A Week of Creative Action

RevolutionThe U.S. Department of Arts and Culture has no connection whatsoever to the government.  It is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.  The USDAC is  calling on artists, creative organizers, concerned citizens, and all community members to join together from April 2-8, 2018, to draw inspiration from and breathe new life into the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., strengthening our commitment to speak truth to power and sparking creative action in the year ahead. Below are some ideas that the USDAC has provided to help spark the imagination.


“Radical” is a much maligned word: it comes from the Latin radix (root), and refers to anything that goes to the root of the matter, rather than tinkering with the leaves and branches. Many people have downplayed Dr. King’s deep spiritual and political radicalism, trying to whitewash his true views. Now it is more important than ever to use our creativity to nourish the roots of love and justice. Continue reading “#RevolutionOfValues: A Week of Creative Action”

Let the Children Lead Us

By Leah Grady Sayvetz, Ithaca, NY. 3/14/18

This morning, March 14, I woke late and as I looked at the numbers 9:24 on the clock I remembered that today is National School Walkout Day. At 10am, the students from the middle/high school across the street from my house would be leaving school, walking out of class as part of a nationally coordinated protest for an end to gun violence. I wanted to be with them. Thirty-five minutes later, as I stepped out of my front door, my breath caught in my chest: hundreds of children clad in coats and boots filed silently past. They filled the snowy sidewalk as far as I could see, many carrying signs drawn with colored markers on pieces of large white paper. My first instinct was to cheer, to encourage the students, to let these youngsters know how proud of them I am. But each small face passed me by in solemnity; a quiet, focused march through the falling snow. Their spirit drew me, then, into reverence. I fell in step with the crowd, following in silence, letting the children lead. The beanie-clad heads before and behind me rose no higher than my chest. I felt a deep sense of humility to be following the lead of such little ones. Today the children are showing us where we need to be.

Continue reading “Let the Children Lead Us”

The Ties that Bind: The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai

my-lai-1024x683By Ken Sehested

Concealment makes the soul a swamp. Confession is how you drain it.

—Charles M. Blow

Except in a few traditional religious settings, penitence is a relatively unknown word. While its more common synonyms—confession, apology, contrition, and repentance—are standard parts of many church liturgies, the images they convey have generally fallen out of favor. There are good reasons why this is so. The primary definition of penance is “voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.” A web search for penance reveals more than a few pictures of people whipping themselves. Continue reading “The Ties that Bind: The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai”

Brave Spaces

trump protest
PC: Elizabeth Conley

Excerpts from a recent interview with justice doula Micky Scottbey-Jones of the Faith Matters Network (re-posted from the Nobel Women’s Initiative site):

On “movement chaplaincy:”

We’ve been taught to think of movements and protests as “Who’s the target? What’s the action? We’re done.” In the same way that we have medics at protests to attend to the physical needs of people, a movement chaplain would be the person who’s clued into the emotional, spiritual, and mental needs, both in the moment of protest, and afterwards. They would help us decompress, celebrate, lament. We shouldn’t be going on to the next action until we’ve had time to process and celebrate our wins, and mourn our losses, and talk about how scared we were during one part and how great this other part felt. We need to change the way we are taught to organize. Continue reading “Brave Spaces”

Live by the Gun, Die By the Gun: But Can We Make Peace Living With the Gun?

RandyBy Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley (photo right),a Keetoowah Cherokee teacher, poet, activist, former pastor, missiologist and historian

*This piece was originally posted at HuffPost.

Full disclosure: I am a committed peace activist who often hunts for his food and has valid concealed carry permits recognized in 36 states. I have never been a member of the NRA.

I won’t take the time here to explain the details above except to say they are deeply held, carefully thought through convictions. Hopefully, my disclosure causes some cognitive dissonance. Because I do not believe the issue of violence in our country is going to be resolved by advocating the talking points of either extreme, it may be helpful to create a sense of disequilibrium. I believe the problem of gun violence in America can be effectively addressed by looking deeply at all perspectives and by finding meaningful and practical compromise through a renewed sense of spirituality.
Continue reading “Live by the Gun, Die By the Gun: But Can We Make Peace Living With the Gun?”

The Primal Story Line: Peace, Respect & Reconciliation

VernAnother short and sweet book review-summary from legendary pastor Vern Ratzlaffposting up on the Canadian prairies, pouring his heart and mind into anti-imperial theology and soul-tending. 

Instead of Atonement. Ted Grimsrud, Cascade, 2013.

Grimsrud does a double theological treatment: of penal theory and of atonement theory.

Penal theory. The difference between retributive and restorative approaches to retaliatory justice. Continue reading “The Primal Story Line: Peace, Respect & Reconciliation”

Adventures on the Elliptical, Part I: Where’s the Beef?

Abundant Table
Walking the Stations of the Cross at the Abundant Table Food Project in Oxnard, CA.

By Tommy Airey, co-editor of RadicalDiscipleship.net

*This post kicks-off a new series on Wednesdays exploring the movement of Spirit during mealtime.  

Give us meat for our food.
Numbers 11:13

Sometimes I sneak inside the local gym here in Ypsilanti and spend thirty minutes on the elliptical. The AC is on and a half dozen TVs are right in front of me.  A few weeks ago, I was sweating to a sports talk show host lamenting his wife’s newfound veganism. It is the oldest, most tiring go-to in the counterfeit masculinity playbook. I knew exactly what he was going to say next: “I just want to go out and have a steak with my guy friends.” And then he droned on about the whole pathetic ordeal for the entire segment.

Seven years ago, Lindsay and I became vegetarians after watching the Academy Award winning documentary Food, Inc. and then reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.  I attribute this conversion mostly to Michael Smith, a former traveling salesmen now living in Iceland snapping photos of the Northern Lights with his girlfriend Inga.  I was Michael’s freshman basketball coach.  I taught him how to ball fake and skip pass.  Now he feeds me the latest on the state of the heavily corporatized meat and dairy industries.  I got the better end of the bargain.   Continue reading “Adventures on the Elliptical, Part I: Where’s the Beef?”

On Revolution and Equilibrium

indexFeature by Barbara Deming, originally published in Liberation, February 1968

Do you want to remain pure? Is that it?” a black man asked me, during an argument about nonviolence. It is not possible to act at all and to remain pure; and that is not what I want, when I commit myself to the nonviolent discipline. I stand with all who say of present conditions that they do not allow men and women to be fully human and so they must be changed – all who not only say this but are ready to act.

When one is confronted with what Russell Johnson calls accurately “The violence of the status quo” – conditions which are damaging, even murderous, to very many who must live within them – it is degrading for all to allow such conditions to persist. And if the individuals who can find the courage to bring about change see no way in which it can be done without employing violence on their part – a very much lesser violence, they feel, than the violence to which they will put an end – I do not feel that I can judge them. Continue reading “On Revolution and Equilibrium”

My “Nonviolent” Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men

AntifaA post from Logan Rimel, parish administrator at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley (CA). Logan traveled to Charlottesville during the weekend of August 5 to bear witness with his friends at Charis Community Cville.

Some thoughts on nonviolence post-Charlottesville:

TLDR: White Christians, if you aren’t willing to personally take a bat to the head, shut up about antifa.

My FB feed, podcast feed, workplace conversations, and church chit chat are circling around Charlottesville, antifa, violence/nonviolence, white folks quoting Dr. King, white supremacy, neo-Nazis…It’s hard to get away from it. There’s part of me that doesn’t want to, that wants to keep refreshing the feed, taking in more, trying to read the next thing and the next thing. Maybe if I keep myself submerged here, what I saw will make sense. Continue reading “My “Nonviolent” Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men”

From Immigrant to Immigrant Justice Organizer

moisesTomorrow night in Santa Monica, CA, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity will celebrate of the work and witness Moises Escalante (right), legend in the work of immigrant justice and immigration reform.  This is an excerpt about Moises’ life from “From Immigrant to Immigrant Justice Organizer: Moises Escalante,” in Our God is Undocumented: Biblical Faith and Immigrant Justice by Matthew Colwell and Ched Myers:

In 1988, Moises was asked to come to the Salvadoran village of Morazan to observe the pastoral work taking place in that impoverished war zone. When he first received the invitation, he thought this was crazy. “You want me to go to a place where guerillas control the area and are under attack?” As he thought it over, he recalled the words from Ephesians that God wants the church to “awaken!” Reluctantly, he agreed to travel to Morazan for a ten-day trip. Getting there was no easy feat. After flying into San Salvador, he was put on a bus and told to wait until a person came up to him and asked, “How’s your house?” That person would be his next contact. Continue reading “From Immigrant to Immigrant Justice Organizer”