A Citizen of the World

Dee DeeDay 21 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Surely this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroy, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.
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“A Bootcamp Against Cynicism” by Dee Dee Risher (photo above), the former editor of The Other Side Magazine and author of the recently released The Soulmaking Room

The dynamics Dr. King names in this his Riverside address—militarism, materialism, and racism–which we are slowly journeying through this Lent, are as old as history and as sharp as flint. That these realities have been around forever does not lessen their power, nor can it lessen our own resistance to them. Continue reading

The Color of Orange

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Mural on the side of Benjamin Franklin High School. Photo by Charles Fox

By Dee Dee Risher

 

My son, sixteen, knows her son, eighteen.
My (white) son, sixteen,
knows her (black) son, eighteen.
So we all know that what we are
reading in the paper–
the statement by the school district–
is a lie. I am a poet, so I want to write
something true
even though it is not official and will not be believed.

 

(I am white, and I finished college on a full scholarship from a top university,
so I have been conditioned to expect that what I say
will be listened to.
This is the background of this poem.
This is the foreground of this poem.
This is why the school district spokesman will be believed
and her son (eighteen, black, five feet four, eleventh grade) will not be believed
even though his body carries the evidence.) Continue reading

The Soulmaking Room

UR1525_Risher_Soulmaking_CVR-215x324.jpgIf I am honest with myself, I can’t actually remember the last time I read a whole book. The moments when I have total head space are few and far between diaper changes and a chatty toddler. But the moment I held this book in my hands, I knew I would simply have to find the time. So while nursing or walking to sleep, paragraph my paragraph, I have soaked these pages in. Dee Dee is an amazing writer who weaves together scripture and her story calling on each of us to remember our own stories, to hold on to those deep truths that matter, and to sing and dance through it all. This book is a gift. I am grateful to share this interview and encourage you to find yourselves in the pages of The Soulmaking Room.

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann: What is this book about?

Dee Dee Risher: The book is about using the difficult and challenging parts of life as a way to deepen your spiritual path and become more authentic. The only way I knew to do this was to share my own story. My own path is not nearly as difficult as so many people I know, but my insight was that we all have to deal with loss. Our social justice causes fail. Life rolls on and the positions we take on certain issues become more complex and more difficult to hold with integrity as we see many grey areas. Our beloveds die, leave us, or become someone else. Situations come up that are so incredibly unjust they have you asking whether there is a God in this world. The rich stay rich while the vulnerable have a thousand new ways to suffer. Often, we are in neither of those groups, so we watch the debacle, trying to take an ethical stand. Life ain’t easy, especially if you live with eyes open and conscience listening. Continue reading

The Woman Who Built a Soulmaking Room

 

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John August Swanson’s image “The Jester” seems to capture the story of the Shunammite woman who builds a room for the holy. Support more of John’s incredible art and revolutionary vision (in affordable cards, prints) at http://johnaugustswanson.com/.

By Dee Dee Risher. Part of the continuing series on biblical women.

The Bible comes to us out of a patriarchal culture. At the same time, I believe firmly that the hand of the Spirit of God shaped what was recorded, however troubling or puzzling; however these recordings may reflect the dynamics of oppression in this world rather than the creative liberation I feel is core to the reign of God. I hold these two realities in tension.

Because of this conviction, I pay constant attention to the stories of women who do break into Scripture. Most of them are, predictably, relegated to the margins. They can appear sidekicks to the “real” stories of the (male) prophets, kings, patriarchs, warriors, and holy men. Yet hidden precisely within these “narratives of the margins” are the rankling questions that upset the power structures and interrogate our assumptions about God. Continue reading