Teaching Eco-Ministry

RicBy Ric Hudgens (right)

I just finished teaching a class in Eco-Ministry at Garrett Seminary. My initial (and still favorite) title for the course was a play on John Wesley’s quote, “the world is my parish.” I wanted to call it The Earth is Our Parish. However, the formal title became “CL-621 Earth Ministry for Ecological Renewal.” CL-621 is one of the core courses in the Ecological Regeneration Concentration of Garrett’s new Masters in Public Ministry program.

I’m writing about it here not primarily to promote Garrett Seminary, but because this Eco-Ministry is a growing edge in contemporary ministry. It often has interfaith and eco-spiritual aspects, which are essential. But its placement in Garrett’s new Public Ministry degree gave it a distinctive social and political slant that is sometimes missing. Garrett’s version also featured radical discipleship resources that gave it a particular focused and practical impact. Continue reading “Teaching Eco-Ministry”

A God Who Adores Our Freedom

Alice-Walker-112931058x1-56aa24d75f9b58b7d000fc00From Alice Walker’s autobiography Anything We Loved Can Be Saved. Happy Belated Mother’s Day.

All people deserve to worship a God who also worships them.  A God that made them, and likes them.  That is why Nature, Mother Earth, is such a good choice.  Never will Nature require that you cut off some part of your body to please It; never will Mother Earth find anything wrong with your natural way.  She made it, and She made it however it is so that you will be more comfortable as part of Her Creation, rather than less.  Everyone deserves a God who adores our freedom: Nature would never advise us to do anything but be ourselves.  Mother Earth will do all that She can to support our choices.  Whatever they are.  For they are of Her, and inherent in our creation is Her trust.

Interrogation of Everything

D18_185_015Sheldon C. Good, executive director of The Mennonite, Inc., interviewed Ibram X. Kendi about antiracism and the church by email Sept. 3. The interview, edited for clarity, appears below. The editorial in the October issue of The Mennoniteavailable here, includes part of the interview.

Kendi is author of How to Be an Antiracist. He won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book Stamped from the Beginning. He is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.

1. You make the case in How to Be an Antiracist that the word “racist” has been removed from its proper usage. How did that happen?

The most virulent racists define racist as anyone who uses the r-words, race or racism. They say, racist is a pejorative term, it is the equivalent of saying I don’t like you, as Richard Spencer once said. Anyone who categorizes people by race, who calls someone racist, is the real racist, they say. Obviously, they are deeply defensive, and deeply in denial. As such, they don’t want to be called racist. They shut down and close up when they do. Some racial reformers have agreed and view “racist” as an attack. So they don’t use the term either. But racist is a descriptive term, not an attack. It describes when a person is saying there is something wrong or right with a racial group. It describes when a person is supporting racist policy with their action or inaction. Continue reading “Interrogation of Everything”

Emmaus Road Litany

Farm Church
A Farm Church gathering in pre-pandemic times.

Inspired by Ched’s “Easter Faith and Empire” article, Katerina Friesen wrote the following litany for Farm Church (Ventura River Watershed in California) on Sunday, April 26 for an adapted “Bread of Life” communion time.

El Peregrino camina con nosotr@s (The Sojourner walks with us)
When we are confused, disillusioned after hopes of revolution,
Disappointed by loss after loss, Jesus opens our minds. Continue reading “Emmaus Road Litany”

Reading History Through the Prophets

ZundAn excerpt from Ched Myers’ classic article “Easter Faith and Empire: Recovering the Prophetic Tradition on the Emmaus Road.” These comments are posted just in time for this weekend’s Gospel text Luke 24:13-35

Luke tells us that Jesus addresses these fit-to-be-tied disciples as “fools”
(24: 25). But the Greek term anontoi refers simply to those who don’t
quite get it, who find the truth as yet unintelligible (cf. Romans 1:14;
Galatians 3:1,3} He knows their hearts are “sluggish” (Greek, bradeis),
as indeed are ours. Because we, like Cleopas and company, forever refuse to embrace the counterintuitive wisdom of the Hebrew prophets.

The prophets tell us to defend the poor, but we lionize the rich. The prophets tell us that horses and chariots cannot save us, but we are transfixed by the apparent omnipotence of modern military technology. The prophets tell us to forgo idolatry, but we compulsively fetishize the work of our own hands, Above all, the prophets warn us that the way to liberation in a world locked down by the spiral of violence, the way to redemption in a world of enslaving addictions, the way to true transformation in a world of deadened conscience and numbing conformity is the way of nonviolent, sacrificial, creative love. But we who are slow of heart–a euphemism for not having courage–instead remain fiercely loyal to ever more fabulous myths of redemptive violence, practices of narcissism, and delusions of our own nobility.

the wind from the tomb

Dr. Jim Perkinson offering a spoken word at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, MI

by jim perkinson, 04.19.2020, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Detroit, MI)

we worry now
about breath
where it has been
whose kiss it carries and whose
nostril-curl in zephyr-spins
of night or day or twirling
door-gush rushing to the street
and we now see how primal
is the air of earth, the river
whence we cruise and where
we move, like fish-in-flow or
a swallow on the wing at dusk—we,
feet on dust, head up-thrust and strolling Continue reading “the wind from the tomb”

Never Forget

Deschutes National ForestBy Ric Hudgens, Quarantine Essay #22, originally posted to Facebook on April 18, 2020. Ric is posted all his essays to Medium

Every day for the past month, something has stunned me. I’ve been unable to respond. I’m astonished by the news stories I’m hearing. I see and hear horrifying things.

The world has never been an entirely pleasant place. Horrifying things happen all the time. But now perhaps I’ve slowed down enough to feel and see the full weight of them.

I’m not surprised by the inequalities revealed in this crisis. They have been there for anyone to see who wanted to look. The callous disregard for human life by those who claim to be “pro-life” doesn’t surprise me. Their understanding of “life” has always been very narrow, partisan, and racist. Continue reading “Never Forget”

The COVID-19 Chronicles 2.0

BertaMuralBy Tommy Airey

*Another episode in a weekly series of fictional accounts rooted in reality. 

Aden Alvarenga and his Tío Tejada grew up in the coolest region of Honduras. They were born, two decades apart, in the 1700-meter high mountain town of La Esperanza, which means “hope” in Spanish. Hope, however, is a concept conditioned by context. For white folks, hope tends to be synonymous with optimism and progress. It is a belief that things must get better and will get better. Eventually. However, for the Lenca of western Honduras, as it is for most Indigenous peoples of the world, hope subverts despair through solidarity. Hope is a rugged conviction that does not depend on circumstances improving. Hope resists despair through a fierce faith in a higher Power built on love and compassion that transcends events on the ground. Continue reading “The COVID-19 Chronicles 2.0”

the second coming of easter

Water Shift
A pre-pandemic water shift in Detroit, MI.

By Jim Perkinson

empty churches preaching empty tombs
to empty pews, a vision of gloom,
the doom of the poor now creeping
close in corona-spoor knocking even
at the door of the rich and who would
have thought it all could upend
in a single dash of air-splash, invisible,
carrying not quite living code from animal
to our abode everywhere, leading all
but rash, bible-brash evangelical hubris
to hunker in shelter, or fear-trembled,
in hovels or dense-packed streets of
homeless retreats or refugee tents
a world of babel towers
and fake news showers and glowering, bulge-veined purveyors of cover
for the bankers and oil exec wankers to push profit-margins to the edge of the cliff . . . Continue reading “the second coming of easter”

Good Friday’s Warning

chedBy Ched Myers. For Good Friday.

“From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” (Matthew 27:45)

In this greatest of cosmic “signs” in the gospel narrative–the darkening of the world for three hours—our attention is pointed back to the old Exodus story.  There Yahweh, in the war of myths with Pharaoh to free the Hebrew slaves, blots out the sun in Egypt for three days–a repudiation of the imperial order legitimized by the sun god Ra. The rhetoric describing this penultimate plague is evocative: “People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were” (Ex 10:23). What a trope for collective blindness, denial and paralysis, so fitting to the culture of empire still today! (For more on this, see my piece here.)

This Good Friday falls at or near the peak of the Covid-19 plague in the U.S. At the “apocalyptic moment” of Jesus’ crucifixion, we are supposed to pay attention to the lesson of plagues: they are the dramatic expression of the great struggle between Creation and Empire–and of the God who takes sides.

Maybe at 3 pm today we should be out on our porches banging pots for that

Ched Myers, an ecumenical activist theologian, is a popular educator, writer, teacher and organizer, committed to animating and nurturing church renewal and radical discipleship, and supporting faith-based movements for peace and justice. Find his blog, many articleswebinars and a few audio recordings at chedmyers.org. You can also find out more about his Life & Activism there. Ched’s books are available for purchase on this site.