Politics

Entries related to things political.

Father's Day 2016

Father’s Day
Juneteenth
two thousand and sixteen:
The Psalm asks
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I respond
because no one heeds the epistle
“There is no longer Jew or Greek,”
and I think of Orlando;
straight or gay,
Muslim or Christian,
and all the other
false divisions
for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Then I read the Old Testament lesson
and the news headlines,
but the Lord was not in the news headlines,
and I read the social media posts
but the Lord was not in the social media posts
so I sat quietly
and wept
for Stanley
and Amanda
and Oscar
and Cory
and Tevin
and Javier
and the list just goes on and on
and the Lord was in
the sound of sheer silence.

So I read the Gospel
and the news headlines
and found our woes are called
Legion
for many demons
have entered our political discourse.

Then I returned to the Psalm
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I replied
“I will yet give thanks to God.”

Blame

If you blame the gorilla
you’re part of the problem
If you blame the parents
you’re part of the problem
If you blame the child
you’re part of the problem.
If you blame the zookeepers
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
a former first lady,
a senator,
or real estate developer
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
the refugees
the immigrants
single young mothers
struggling to get by
you’re part of the problem.

If you blame
the victim
the system
the lawyers
or press
you’re part of the problem

If you blame yourself
but do nothing
to address the wrongs
you’re still part of the problem.

We are all part of the problem.
Too often
we don’t love
our neighbor as ourselves
especially
if the neighbor seems
blameworthy
marginalized
or simply
different from ourselves.

We find
those parts
of ourselves
we don’t like
in others
and blame them
instead
of seeking to repair
what we don’t like
about ourselves.

Asking Questions about Race

“Sometimes what matters is asking the question.” It was a comment made at a conference on Christian mission I was at a few months ago that particularly caught my attention. After the conference I gathered with a group of people who had attended the 2016 Trinity Institute conference on Racial Justice. We have been meeting to find concrete ways in which the Episcopal Church in Connecticut can help work for racial justice.

Based on my experiences as a Health Leadership Fellow with the Connecticut Health Foundation and as a candidate for State Representative in 2012 and 2014 who tried to talk about race issues, especially around health disparities, it seems like one of the biggest challenges is to get people to stop and think seriously about racism.

Many people I’ve spoken with seem to think that as long as they don’t have a Confederate flag on their vehicle and as long as they don’t say certain offensive words, racism doesn’t really have much to do with them. To me, an important starting point is to get people to think a little more broadly about racism.

I like to start by talking about racism in terms of prejudice and power and exploring different types or aspects of racism such as individual or internalized racism, interpersonal racism, institutional racism and structural racism. A good explanation of some of these concepts, together with some important links can be found in Race and Racism

How do we raise awareness about these aspects of racism? Often, I find myself a white man in groups that are predominantly women of color. The discussions about raising awareness seem mostly to be preaching to the choir. How do we get folks going to predominantly white churches on Sunday morning to confront “the sin of racism”, what we have done and left undone, in thought, word, and deed, not loving our neighbors as ourselves.

I hope the group of Episcopalians I’m part of can help get this message beyond just the choir.

How can we do this? It seems like an important starting point is simply listening. Where do we see racism? Where do we see opportunities to talk about racism, to raise awareness?

A concrete request from our last meeting was to ask one person how racism impacts their lives.

“Sometimes what matters is asking the question.”

So, I asked that question in a blog post a little over a month ago. I didn’t get a lot of replies, although one good friend, another Health Leadership Fellow with the CT Health Foundation, shared my post and broadened the discussion a little. Perhaps a lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about race. It sure seemed that way when I was running for State Representative. Perhaps a lot of people aren’t even able to think about how racism relates to their own lives. Trust me, it does.

So, the question is still out there, how does racism impact your life? Where are the places we can build bridges and work together for racial justice? Can we draw together urban and suburban churches? Episcopalians, Methodists, AME, and others?

Recent Facebook Discussions

The Fragmented Society

Last Saturday on Facebook, a friend posted a link to the Op-Ed The Fragmented Society by David Brooks

Here is the comment I shared:

It is interesting to read this after watching the United Methodist Church struggle with many issues at their General Conference. At one point I watched a live video stream of 'worship at the margins'. This came to mind when I read your comment about moving to the margins.

It sounds like Brooks and Levin have strange views about the nature of identity, cohesion, and the restrictions placed on people whose identity is at the margins. It sounds like Brooks and Levin focus too much on economic and geographic identity.

It seems like we as Christians, need to follow Jesus to the margins of society, eat with tax collectors or their modern day equivalents, no matter what marginalizes them, listen and learn from those at the margins so that we can truly welcome them and show them God's Love.

Online Sacraments

In a discussion in a religious group on Facebook, the topic of online sacraments came up. It was quickly dismissed as “Worst. Idea. Ever.” by many of the participants and one person asked, “doesn't an ‘online sacrament’ limit the concept of a community of faith”?

I added several comments:
When we talk about an outward and visible sign, perhaps we should be asking if that sign needs to be face to face, or if being visible online counts. Perhaps we need to ask if inward grace can be communicated electronically as well as in the spoken voice or in a silent prayer.

A friend of mine is being ordained to the Diaconate soon. The service will take place a couple thousand miles away. As much as I would like to be, I will not be there in person, but I will be there in spirit. If I could join in electronically, that would be wonderful.

Another friend of mine is mourning the death of her grandmother. I talked with her sister about whether she could join in via Skype.

As a professional online community builder, it feels the other way around to me. an online sacrament broadens the concept of a community of faith. As a person who prays for many of the people in this group and for whom many people in this group have prayed, this online group is an important part of my community of faith.

I think another aspect of this, which is why I think it may be important not to dismiss to quickly or easily, is that it helps get church out of the box. I view online sacraments similar to how I think of #AshesToGo and #FlashCompline

Sons of Confederate Veterans

In one group a person expressed concern about allowing the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use the church he attends. I responded,

I don't think there is an easy answer. I like the sign, The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. I like the mission of the church as it is described in our Catechism, "The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ."

How do we welcome the descendants of Confederate soliders? How do we wecome the descendants of Union soldiers? How do we welcome the descendants of slaves? How do we welcome pacificists?

The Confederate soldiers and their descendants are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, created in God's image, and loved by God.

How do we show God's love to them and to descendants of slaves at the same time? It seems bigger than something I can do, but then again, so does God's love.

Pentecost 2016

Spirit/Wind
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
from all
hatred, envy, fears, injustice
towards those we think
will take away
our God given
rights, privileges, and entitlements;
those that are like us
but different:
men who love men,
women transitioning into men,
immigrants who arrived
more recently than our ancestors
without the sort of documents
we think are required
to keep our property safe,
or young mothers
who we think
were given the same opportunities
in the ghettos of our cities
that we had
in our high performing
suburban school districts,
whose ancestors were captured
enslaved
and brought to this country
as property
to expand the wealth
of our ancestors.
Spirit/wind
forgive our lack of love
to those who were created
in God’s image
and not our own.
Stir up, o Spirit/Wind
like the winds of a tornado
or hurricane
to blow away our baggage
and all the things
that get in the way
of seeing and serving You.

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