Interview with Art Laffin on The Risk of the Cross

Art Laffin is one of those deep and beautiful souls worth listening to in these historic days. You want to be standing beside him holding a protest sign at the Pentagon or cooking in the kitchen with him at the Dorothy Day House Catholic Worker listening to him sing and pray “Rejoice in the Lord Always.”

I believe that the best writing on discipleship comes out of lives that are living the Gospel. Art Laffin is one such person and this is one such book. I had the chance to interview him recently on The Risk of the Cross: Living Gospel Nonviolence in the Nuclear Age (Twenty Third Publications, 2020)

RD: What is this book about?

“Jesus tells us, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (5:36). These words from Mark’s gospel capture the spirit we wish to bear witness to in our lives and to express in this book.” This excerpt from the Introduction to the first edition of The Risk of the Cross, which I co-authored with the late Chris Grannis and Elin Schade in 1981, conveys the spirit of this new edition as well.

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A Prayer for the Reckoning

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann and Kateri Boucher for Geez magazine.

School of Americas Watch in Georgia, November 2008 by Geez staff

Oh God,
whose spirit rests in the contours of Indigenous lands,
whose breath rises in the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
whose rage boils when the cross is raised as weapon,
whose being is re-imagined by the honey bees, 
the mycelium, and the snow covered cedars.

We stand at a time when
the powers of death are gasping for air.
We are witnessing the ways that
Christianity’s tentacles have bound themselves
to patriarchy, nationalism, and white supremacy.

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Carolers on my Porch

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

These days my snow-covered porch is covered in discarded seed shells and bird poop. And I couldn’t be happier.

Cedar (age 4) and I have fallen into the Advent tradition of getting out pots and pans and measuring cups. He counts one cup, two cups, three cups, four cups of bird seed. Peanut butter, gelatin, cranberries. We mold wreaths and cookie cutter shapes and muffin cups. We wait days for them to dry. Then add them to gift boxes and stockings.

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Review of Pillar of Fire by Joyce Hollyday

By Kate Foran, shared from Geez magazine

Can we have a story with all the immersive medieval detail—from herb-strewn floors to falconers to feast days— of Kristin Lavransdatter but with none of the tiresome obsession with sexual sin? Can we enter a world with the depth of history of Lord of the Rings without the racist overtones and dearth of female characters? Can we readers have a vision of “The Mended Wood” as cast by S.D. Smith in The Green Ember without buying into the myth of redemptive violence? Can we have a story of risk and companionship written by somebody who knows something about living in community? And can we please have a discipleship story that centers the experience of women?

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Advent Song Summoned by the Forest: Raising Kids during Climate Catastrophe

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Originally printed in The Catholic Worker, December 2020.

When I was a kid, we spent Monday evenings at Williams International, a cruise missile factory in Walled Lake, Michigan. My parents would pick us up from school and we would make the long drive while we pulled on snow pants and mittens. My parents would stand by the road with a single purple candle as employees drove home in the dark while my sister and I would play beside a stream scattering cattail seeds in the wind. After an hour or so, my dad would whistle and we would run to them and sing together “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Then we would load back into the car until we would return next week with two flames.

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Apophemi – Advent Reflection

Credit: Megan Suttman

by Gabe McMahan
This poem was printed in Summoning Advent Stillness, page 27.

Not the wheat or bread, but the field, fallow.
Not the brazed meats wafting up their billows,
but the sky… the empty heavens breaking
cloud from cloud. The silence after a song,

before thunder; before the gathered rain.
Before the carpenter, the wood’s soft grain
un-chiselled… That’s our guide! The marbled stone.
The trackless sea-bank where we walk alone,

and listen. Come in from your bustling streets
and tell me what you know. I’ll wash your feet.
I’ll kiss you, and you will be my brother,
my sister, father, beloved mother,

and all. Friend, you are a dove taken wing.
Sit with me and pray. Say nothing… Nothing.

Gabriel McMahan lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He likes to dance, play with words, and dig in the dirt. When he sits in the quiet, on this particular morning, he hears wind-chimes, leaf-rustle, and distant cars.

Coronavirus: Mediator, Messenger, Principality, Teacher

Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Chicago, June 2020, Drake Toulouse CC

By Jim Perkinson, re-post from Geez magazine

“Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy. We are Messenger.” – Karen Flyntz, An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans

“First bind the Strong Man.” – Mark 3:27

COVID-19 is a messenger. Unseen by us, it began, somewhere in the wild, as a mysterious particle—neither living nor non-living—riding bat wings! But now, it has become a Power. How such might be so is the subject of this writing. Under viral tutelage, we are made witnesses today to an “angel”, in biblical terms, “falling.” Right in front of our eyes! And its falling is essentially a matter of prodigality, of ballooning to unimaginable dimensions. But to see such, we need guidance. Water Wink of scholarly fame, a scant generation ago, ripped open contemporary vision to see behind the veil of “fake news” and political machination. Teasing out the varied meanings of an arcane discourse of “principalities and powers,” Wink unmasked institutional domination in a brand new (but very old) dimension. With his wisdom as counsel, we will track the way a rudimentary class of spirits he calls (quoting Paul) “elements” can be inflated into an overbearing regime of Domination. The “elementary” trope in New Testament use, ranges from angelic beings associated with new moons and zodiac signs to demonic creatures animating legal adherences or even natural forces exercising influence and pressure on human experience and decision-making. The piece to follow here will explore the recent advent of the coronavirus in human experience as just such a natural “element”—part of the winged world of bats for who knows how long a stretch of time, suddenly finding opportunistic opening to “work its magic” in searching for a new arrangement among a whole new constituency.

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Pillar of Fire- An Interview with Joyce Hollyday

Almost eight years ago, I meandered around the house with a bulging belly waiting and waiting for labor to begin. As I waited, I listened to Joyce Hollyday rattle off newly learned facts about weapons in the Middle Ages. At night, I would try to relax my body and she would read the early chapters of this beautiful book I now hold in my hands.

Joyce has written an incredible novel that is healing salve for our hearts in this moment. It is a page turner that takes you into a world and a character who sits in the midst of a harsh world and somehow manages to find a fertile faith, a loving community, and incredible joy.

It is the kind of book you might want to read in the candlelit darkness of Advent or gift to all your friends under the tree. Here are some words from Joyce about the book. I hope you enjoy! – Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

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Clare Grady’s Statement at Sentencing

Three of the defendants in the Kings Bay Plowshares were sentenced last week in court. You can find updates on their cases HERE.

Photo credit: Ellen Grady

Below is the sentencing statement from Clare Grady.

Good afternoon, Judge Wood, Mr Knoche and Mr. Gillully, and greetings to all the women and men who work in the courtroom there in Georgia. Also, greetings to all those who are listening in to these sentencing hearings on your phones, your presence as attendants and witnesses to this procedure as we work together to seek justice is essential. Without your participation, we might lose sight of the nature of a government of the People, for the People, and by the People.I come before the court today ready for sentencing. May my words and spirit today be rooted in truth with love, the two elements of non-violence.

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On Seeing Women Lead

By Rev. Tiffany Ashworth

When I was a kid, I told my parents that I wanted to be a pastor’s wife. At the time, I articulated my sense of ministerial call as such because I couldn’t dream what I couldn’t imagine. And in a world of white male leaders that touted female submission, my context was so that I simply could not make sense of my pastoral inclinations in any other way. Because of this, even though my drive to serve the church remained strong, I came up against enough “women don’t do that” pushback that I abandoned plans to begin formal biblical and theological studies and altered course. To make a very long story short, it was painful.

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