Echoes of the Green Corn Ceremony

Detail of “Water is Life” by Soni López-Chávez

By Joshua S. Hopping | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

The water rippled and splashed as the People waded into the Long Man and turned east towards the rising sun.

Holding their hands so that their fingertips touched their breasts, they plunged under the cold water before turning to the north and repeating the ritual. Seven times they did this as they continued to turn counterclockwise towards the cardinal directions until they arose from the waters looking west towards the Darkening Lands. Captured in the waters of the Long Man were the pains, sorrows, and misdeeds of the past year, which flowed from their wet souls toward that land where all must one day walk.

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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Detail of “Heavy Rains” by Olivia Guterson, 2019.

by Andrew Yang | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue |

Every Sunday during our meeting at Circle of Hope, our pastor or another member of the community stands up and reminds us that, as the church, we have the opportunity to model a different economic system.

We can share our money for the purpose of mutuality and support one another while remembering what we owe one another: common resources shared in love.

This language of giving took on new resonance this year when our church team, Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter, took on an ambitious project. The racial wealth gap in the United States is vast, with the net worth of a typical white family valued ten times higher than the wealth of a Black family. This gap is due to injustices both historical and present, including mass incarceration, red lining, segregation, and of course, the slave trade.

So what if we asked white members of our church to give money, which we then redistributed to Black members of the church?

My team’s co-leader, Bethany Stewart, once jokingly posted an article onto her social media feed asking people to “Venmo their Black friend $50,” and was surprised when people actually took her at her word. This experience made us realize that people were actually willing to put their money where their mouth was, so to speak, in terms of racial justice and reparations.

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Food and Land in the Shmita Year: A Release from Old Paradigms 

Sarah Barker CC, Herb spiral, May 2011.

by Carly Sugar | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

It’s fall in the Shmita year of 5782 according to the Jewish calendar and I am putting up squash. And tomatoes. Peppers.

The last of the stone fruits and first of the pomes. There’re flushes of maitake in the forest and deer hunting season has just begun. As I fill my shelves and freezer with this season’s abundance, I am reminded of this ancient, radical, and deeply needed practice of my tradition – shmita.

Under profit-driven systems we are inundated with messages that more is more, that the oppression of people and land is necessary for food and other resource security, and that we must value the well-being of the individual over the communal. In the modern U.S. food system, we see a seemingly boundless accumulation of privatized (stolen) land and wealth in the name of producing enough food to feed us all. But because profit is priority millions are food insecure, people and the land are exploited, and a few are making billions.

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Blessing for a Rest

“Two resters nap together during The Nap Ministry’s installation ‘A Resting Place,’” Tabia Lisenbee-Parker, September 2019, Atlanta, Georgia.

by Kate Suffling | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

May you take full and gulping the
deepest breath you’ve ever drawn

And hold it in your belly, full,
a stretch that slows the heart and mind,
Slackens fibres now recalling
How to loosen, how to lessen,
how there’s nourishment in surrender.
Begin the softening, slump and slumber,
slow the spinning, the wanting, the needs
Except for this one, the one called rest.
She has stood outside at the door,
Not banished, but told to wait
With “Until I . . . ”, and “until it . . . ”,
until she turned to slumber.
May you wake her now, draw her in,
lead her by the hand.
She’s surprised and exultant,
but moving sweet and slow.

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Thinking Abolition Theologically: An Interview with Hannah Bowman 

Detail of “The Scrivener / The Activist / The Beatnik” by Bard Judith, Fall 2021, digital ink/charcoal, A4, South Korea.

Published in Geez | Winter 2022 Issue |

We’d love to hear your background. How did you get involved in prison abolition work?

Hannah Bowman: I’m an adult convert to Christianity. I was baptized when I was in college and soon after I got involved with a Bible study through the college chaplaincy that took us out to a girl’s juvenile detention centre. It became an essential part of my practice and experience of Christianity.

We would go Thursday evenings, and there would be maybe three of us from the college and three girls from the detention centre who would come together for a little Bible study and church service. I think that’s one of those experiences that you can’t back away from. Once you see these are children who are incarcerated, who are some of the best theologians I’ve ever met. And we were just having these profound experiences of community in this tiny little meeting room in this facility in the middle of nowhere.

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Let the Weary World Rejoice

St. Peter’s Detroit. Photo credit: Denise Griebler

By Rev. Denise Griebler,
Preached at St. Peter’s Episcopal Detroit on December 12, 2021
Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18

Let the Weary World Rejoice

This past week I stopped in the Geez office – and there were these beautiful and simple cards – a pine comb, a pine branch and the words:  “Let the weary world rejoice.”  It broke me open. Because if this isn’t a weary world, I don’t know what is.

Today is Pink Candle Sunday – the day we open our hearts to both longing and joy and we let joy have the first and last word.  Even in the midst of a pandemic that is about to cross 800,000 deaths in this country alone, even after a school shooting, even after a night of tornadoes that wreaked havoc and suffering and are harbingers of more climate chaos to come. Still. We light the Pink Candle and sing Rejoice! 

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Not a Disembodied Hope

Mt Erbal caves
Mt Arbel Caves

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson, reposted from Advent 3 2017

Just north of Magdala in Galilee stand the cave-pocked cliffs of Mt. Arbel. Twice in a hundred years, Roman soldiers shot fire into the caves to destroy Israelites who refused to give in to imperial rule. The first occasion was the imposition of Herod as king in 40 BCE, while the second was during the Roman-Jewish war of the mid-60s CE.

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Reading the Torah towards Liberation

Melad Jajou, “The Re-Creation of Adam,” July 2021, Gouache and Prismacolour on Mylar, 13.25 x 7.5 inches.

By Kendra Watkins. First published in Geez 62: Dismantling White Theology.

Twice a week, my chevruta (learning partner) and I, both of us Black, Trans Jews, spend a few hours working our way through a page of Talmud, word by word.

Between the dictionaries and notebooks stacked up beside us, we catch a glimpse of the future, a shared vision in which we, and our people, are free.

Talmud plays a central role in my life, and the chevruta relationship is vital to studying as a practice. We learn from each other, witness each other’s brilliance, hold each other accountable, and offer each other a soft place to land when the text (and the world it represents) hurts. Together we can reach backwards into our tradition to find tools and strategies, and practice the love and care it takes to move us towards a world liberated from anti-Blackness and transphobia. We know that when we bring ourselves to meet each other and the rabbis in any given text, we aren’t passively receiving a set of laws; far from it. We receive the offerings of our ancestors and offer parts of ourselves in turn, and we are both changed because of it.

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