A Beekeepers Musings

unnamed2By Marcia Lee

The end of an era is over.  The beehive that started it all did not survive the summer.  This hive barely made it through the winter, revived itself, and then swarmed twice.  This led to two ‘new hives,’ but the bees did not leave a queen for the bees that were left behind.  So many lessons from the bees for these times.  I made so many small and large decisions throughout the time, many of them probably not the best.  But here we are.

Yesterday one of the beehives in our backyard was robbed by other bees, wasps, and insects.  When we went to look today, we found that the hive had been decimated.  There was no more honey in the cells and the bodies of dead bees littered the floor of the hive.  The hive was going to die one way or another, because, without a queen, a hive cannot survive.  The honey went to other bees and wasps and it will help them to survive another winter.  However, if I had pulled the honey, could the bees have died a softer death? Continue reading “A Beekeepers Musings”

Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part III

Mental Health Counseling Conference

On Fridays, we are posing questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019). Bruce presses for a “post-capitalist pastoral theology” that empowers people to resist the system (instead of adapt to it), to embrace communion and wholeness in relation to others and the earth (instead of functioning in accord with the values of production and consumption) and to pursue interdependent reliance within the web of human relationships (instead of accepting shame-based personal responsibility narratives).

*This is our third Friday with Bruce. See this for Part I and this for Part II.

RD.net: You say that neoliberalism is not only about economics. That it is a full-fledged religion that encompasses everything! How does neoliberalism affect politics and culture too?

BRV: The political is implicated in the economic. When I say “political,” I’m not simply talking about that media-driven horse race we call “politics.” Under neoliberal governance, politics has become a house of mirrors. Again, George Carlin: “Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners.” When I use the word “political,” I’m talking about the way power flows through society. In neoliberal times, the dramatic increase in economic inequality is matched by an increase in political inequality. Right-wing neoliberal intellectuals and politicians pontificate about wanting “smaller government.” This is another lie. It actually takes a monstrously large and intrusive government for economic elites to maintain control over the masses. Thus, both political parties, in the USA, support large government. Growing inequality is not due to technology or globalization, as even progressives often claim, but to the seizure of state power by class elites. Monopoly corporations, and individuals whose wealth is equal to the GDP of small countries, are able and willing to impose their will on legislation, as well as the courts and penal systems. Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part III”

Kyle Rittenhouse, Whiteness, and The Responsibility of White Faith Leaders: Notes from Conversations with Ruby Sales

kenoshaBy Rev. Margaret Anne Ernst

The seventeen year old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with killing two protesters in a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, could have been my cousin or little brother. Raised in the far north suburbs of Chicago, his life proves that it is not Southern rural people who are the foot soldiers of white supremacist violence, like I was often raised to believe as someone who grew up in the North, but white people everywhere, including and especially in tree-lined suburbs just like where my own people came from.

I woke up last week to news of Rittenhouse’s murders of two protestors who were in the streets raising their voices for justice for Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and to the defenses of these murders from amidst the Right’s flanks like Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter said she would want someone like Rittenhouse as president. Tucker Carlson said that Rittenhouse was right in “maintaining order” on the streets of Kenosha, echoing the law and order talking points that have become front and center in the Republic National Convention. Continue reading “Kyle Rittenhouse, Whiteness, and The Responsibility of White Faith Leaders: Notes from Conversations with Ruby Sales”

One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands

BayoA timely message from our comrade Bayo Akomolafe.

I am very excited to share that my course, We Will Dance with Mountains: Let us Make Sanctuary, is now open for registration…

You can learn almost everything about the course by heading over to the course website now. Before you do, I thought I’d sit again with the nagging question (as I did when this year of shocking upheavals and seismic shifts began): “Why do a course now?” What is it for? What do you stand to gain?

In yet another curious instance of receiving answers long before their questions have been articulated, I heard the call to do this course when I spoke with an African American man late last year. He had written to me, wanting to speak. He felt he needed to share something with me. I honoured his invitation and got on a Zoom conference call with him. Continue reading “One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands”

Kindred, The News is Bleak

California Wildfires
AP Photo/Noah Berger

By Ken Sehested

Kindred, the news is bleak. For we live in the valley of the shadow, when:

  • the stock market reaches record-breaking levels in the midst of near-record-breaking rates of unemployment;
  • when 1% of US citizens control $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half is saddled with more debts than assets;
  • when the median wealth of Black households is a tenth of that of whites;
  • when yet another unarmed Black man is shot—in the back, seven times, while getting in his car where his children are sitting—by police;
  • when polls show 57% of Republicans (along with 33% of Independents and 10% of Democrats) believe our nation’s COVID-19 death toll (many times greater than any other nation) is “acceptable”—despite ours being the wealthiest nation in recorded history, purportedly with the world’s most advanced health care system;
  • when wildfires in California set yet another record in size and destructive infernos, and similar flames in the Amazon are on track to eclipse 2019’s record;
  • when 30 million families lacked sufficient nutrition last week, yet the suicide rate among farmers—who provide our food—is five times greater than the national average;
  • when the federal hourly minimum wage is $7.25 (lowest it’s been since the 1960s when adjusted for inflation), yet Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earns approximately $8,961,187 per hour;
  • not to mention a monarch aspirant in high office; and our oldest living president, Jimmy Carter, having
    described our political economy as “moving toward an oligarchy.”

Continue reading “Kindred, The News is Bleak”

Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part II

Mental Health Counseling Conference
 PC: Sam Simpkins

On Fridays, we are posing questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019). Bruce presses for a “post-capitalist pastoral theology” that empowers people to resist the system (instead of adapt to it), to embrace communion and wholeness in relation to others and the earth (instead of functioning in accord with the values of production and consumption) and to pursue interdependent reliance within the web of human relationships (instead of accepting shame-based personal responsibility narratives).

*This is our second Friday with Bruce. See this for Part 1.

Tommy Airey: You described how neoliberalism is a system that “turns control of the economy over to a handful of wealthy rentiers.” What is a rentier? Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part II”

A Culture of Belonging

bell hooksAn excerpt from Belonging: A Culture of Place (2009) by bell hooks (right).

In her book Rebalancing the World, Carol Lee Flinders defines a culture of belonging as one in which there is “intimate connection with the land to which one belongs, empathic relationship to animals, self-restraint, custodial conservation, deliberateness, balance, expressiveness, generosity, egalitarianism, mutuality, affinity for alternative modes of knowing, playfulness, inclusiveness, nonviolent conflict resolution, and openness to spirit.” All of these ways of belonging were taught to me in my early childhood but these imprints were covered over by the received biased knowledge that served to fuel my adult radicalism.

The Poor Among You

Poor Peoples CampaignBy Tommy Airey

Over the decades, I’ve consistently heard conservative pastors quote their Lord and Savior to dismiss policies and provisions that attempt to systematically help low-income residents. You’ll always have the poor among you (Mark 14:3-9). “See,” they say, referencing the Scripture, “Jesus, is telling us it’s a waste of time to try to alleviate poverty. He promises that the poor will always be with us no matter what we try to do.”

In this episode, Jesus is actually quoting Deuteronomy 15, one of the most crucial junctures in the history of Israel. God is preparing the former slaves of Egypt to live in a new kind of way in the Promised Land. As the old African-American proverb illuminates, it is easier to get the enslaved out of Egypt than it is to get Egypt out of the enslaved. The exodus wilderness was a school, a 12-step-program for recovery from the colonial script. Continue reading “The Poor Among You”

Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part 1

Mental Health Counseling Conference
PC: Sam Simpkins

For the next five Fridays, we will pose questions to Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn (right), an ordained Baptist minister, pastoral psychotherapist and Associate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and the author of Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age (Palgrave, 2019). “Neoliberalism,” he writes, “has become so encompassing and powerful that it is now the most significant factor in shaping how, why, and to what degree human beings suffer.”

This is why Bruce presses for a “post-capitalist pastoral theology” that empowers people to resist the system (instead of adapt to it), to embrace communion and wholeness in relation to others and the earth (instead of functioning in accord with the values of production and consumption) and to pursue interdependent reliance within the web of human relationships (instead of accepting shame-based personal responsibility narratives). Continue reading “Soul Talk in a Neoliberal Age, Part 1”

The Subconscious Code of Instructions

caste
PC: Joe Henson

An excerpt from Isabel Wilkerson’s just-released Caste: The Origins of our Discontents.

Like other old houses, America has an unseen skeleton, a caste system that is as central to its operation as are the studs and joists that we cannot see in the physical buildings we call home. Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions. It is the architecture of human hierarchy, the subconscious code of instructions for maintaining, in our case, a four-hundred-year-old social order. Looking at caste is like holding the country’s x-ray up to the light… Continue reading “The Subconscious Code of Instructions”