I Asked the Redwoods

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The face of the Redwood. Alameda, California, January 2015. Pussreboots CC.

By Nichola Torbett. This article appeared in Geez magazine, Summer 2020, Geez 57: CO₂conspirators: Communing with Trees.

A couple weeks ago, walking in the redwoods with a dog, at the suggestion of adrienne maree brown, I decided to ask the trees about COVID-19.

Basically, what I heard from the trees is that even this virus has a message for us if we are willing to hear it. No, they were not saying that “God created a virus to punish us” – trust me, I checked, because I have not forgotten the 1980s. But they were clear that there was a message. Continue reading “I Asked the Redwoods”

The Yoke’s on Us

UrsulaBy Nichola Torbett

The following is a sermon I preached at Open Door United Methodist Church today. The scripture is Isaiah 58: 1-12.

I was reminded this week of a short story by science fiction writer Ursula LeGuin. The story is called “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” It’s the story of a city called Omelas. Imagine a place where everyone lives happy, peaceful, rich lives, a place filled with music and dancing and cultural expression, where everyone has what they need.

Well, almost everyone. There is one exception. A small one. Very small, in fact.

In a tiny, dark mop closet of a dank, unfinished basement in a single building within this vibrant and beautiful city lives a small child—emaciated, terrified, and alone. She has been in there for years, but you wouldn’t guess how old she is, because her development—physical, intellectual, and emotional—has been stunted by neglect and malnourishment. The only interruption to her unending empty terror comes when someone rattles the door open and slides in some meager food. At these times, she cries out, “Please help me! I promise I’ll be good! Just let me out. I’ll be so good! Just help me!” But every time, the door slams closed and she is left in the dark. Continue reading “The Yoke’s on Us”

An Uneasy Peace

NicholaBy Nichola Torbett (in center of photo, blockading Wells Fargo in San Francisco in solidarity with Line 3 Pipeline fighters/water protectors). Sermon re-posted with permission from The Longing is the Compass blog

I choked my own self up preaching this sermon (Sunday, May 26) at the very hospitable and loving Park Presidio United Methodist Church. The scripture is John 14: 23-31.

Happy Eastertide! Although, if you’re anything like me, Easter feels like a long time ago, we are still in the liturgical season of Easter, which I think maybe we take a little too blithely, honestly. I mean, resurrection is just plain weird. Let’s admit it. The guy was dead, and then he wasn’t.

Isn’t. Continue reading “An Uneasy Peace”

Jesus and the Nice White Lady

NicholaBy Nichola Torbett

*This is part of a series of pieces from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

Then someone from the part of occupied Turtle Island known as the Midwest came to him and said, “Teacher, I want to follow you. I want to access that eternal life I have heard about–that rich, juicy, for-real life, and most of the time I feel like I’m walking around with a film of plastic between me and the world. My therapist says maybe it’s dissociation from when I was a kid…. Continue reading “Jesus and the Nice White Lady”

Radical Book Recommendations

NicholaNichola Torbett of Oakland’s Seminary of the Street recently posted this great question:

Radical Christian friends, what books do you recommend that do deep exegesis of Matthew and Luke of the sort that Ched Myers has done on Mark and Wes Howard-Brook has done with John? And actually, while I have your attention, what are your indispensable go-to books for radical Christian inspiration?

Here are some of the responses: Continue reading “Radical Book Recommendations”