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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On Faith

From Bayo Akomolafe. Re-posted from social media (12/5/2020).

Yesterday, during an interview I quite enjoyed, the host asked me if I considered myself a man of faith. “Of course, I am a man of faith!” I responded. And then I proceeded to offer a reframed and embodied notion of faith that wasn’t necessarily tethered to bearded divinities and religious monocultures. What might faith look like if humans weren’t the unit of analysis? If it didn’t terminate at belief systems or cognitive leaps? A posthumanist faith?

Faith is the fidelity of entanglements. Faith exceeds the doctrines and the human-centric ways we – forced by the imperatives of institutions – have come to see them. It is how bodies come to meet other bodies, how bodies use or borrow other bodies and senses to respond to the creative challenges of a multidimensional reality that is never still – or how those bodies in excess of each other create new edges and experiment with new questions.

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It’s Not Just About What We’re Getting Rid Of

From Marc Lamont Hill, in a recent interview with Democracy Now.

An abolitionist vision, of course, ultimately is a world without policing and prisons. And that builds on the work of Critical Resistance, the wonderful work of Angela Davis and Mariame Kaba and Ruth Wilson Gilmore and other important Black feminist voices, radical Black feminists, who encourage us to have these ambitious sort of freedom dreams of what the world could be. It’s important to think about that.

But it’s not just about what we’re getting rid of. It’s what we want. We want a world where people’s needs are met, where people can have access to jobs, where people can have access to mental health support. And without those things, then we’re going to continue to end up with circumstances like this.

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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.

What I’m Learning About Grief

“If The Trees Can Keep Dancing, So Can I”
A crowd-sourced poem compiled by NPR’s poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander. Re-posted from npr.org.

What I’m learning about grief
is that it sits in the space between laughs
comes in the dark steals the warmth from the bed covers threads sleep with thin tendrils
is a hauntingly familiar song,
yet I can’t remember the words…

What I’m learning about grief
is that it rolls like a heavy mist settles into the crevices lingers on the skin.
Visits, then visits again
Lurking under my chair.
And, when I’m not watching
Reaches out her tiny claws
And bats my ankles —

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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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A Revolution of Value

An excerpt from Eddie Glaude, Jr.’s recent release Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own (2020).

In our after times, our task, then, is not to save Trump voters—it isn’t to convince them to give up their views that white people ought to matter more than others. Our task is to build a world where such a view has no place or quarter to breathe. I am aware that this is a radical, some may even say, dangerous claim. It amounts to “throwing away” a large portion of the country, many of whom are willing to defend their positions with violence. But we cannot give in to these people. We know what the result will be, and I cannot watch another generation of black children bear the burden of that choice…

Our task, then, is not to save Trump voters nor is it to demonize them. Our task is to work, with every ounce of passion and every drop of love we have, to make the kingdom new! The first step involves what I called…a “revolution of value.” This involves telling ourselves the truth about what we have done. It entails implementing policies that remedy generations of inequities based on the lie. It requires centering a set of values that holds every human being sacred. All of this will be made possible by grassroots movements that shift the center of gravity of our politics…Our task involves shaking loose the warm “swaddling clothes” that secure us in our prejudices and prevents us from confronting our fears. Our task means speaking truth to power and looking the darkness of our times squarely in the face without the security of legend or myth, and without the comforting idea that black people will save you.

The Deeper Hope

SNGBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), Salt and Light Lutheran Church (Portland, OR), Sunday, November 29, 2020, Mark 13:24 – 31

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the service this week. For the season of Advent, the plan was to have a storyteller for each Sunday of the season…one story each Sunday to go along with the theme for the week: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Well, when I reached out to folks this week I found stories of Peace, Joy and Love, but hope…? Hope was a little harder to come by. Now, maybe not. Maybe I just didn’t happen to reach out to the people with hope stories! Or maybe, as I ultimately discerned, the Spirit was inviting ME to tell a hope story because hope has been a little hard to come by FOR ME. And I admit it! I have struggled with the whole notion of hope for a long time now, and I actually think I am not alone in this struggle. Continue reading “The Deeper Hope”

Rosa Parks: Presente!

Today is the 65th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. When she was forty-two years old, she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus after working all day as a seamstress at a department store. Many Black folk had done the same thing before. They were arrested, kicked off or killed. Her act of divine disobedience sparked a successful bus boycott that lasted 381 days. But her co-workers refused to speak to her and she got fired from her job. She received constant death threats. When she moved north to Detroit a year later, the threats and intimidation continued. In 1965, a conservative organization plastered huge billboards along the Selma march that depicted Dr. King and Rosa Parks as “Communists.”

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