Tag Archives: activism

Charleston

Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID GOLDMAN/AP

Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.
CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID GOLDMAN/AP

Like many of you, I am deeply saddened and angered by the racist murders and crimes being committed against people of color in the US. The massacre in Charleston is an abomination, a grave and obscene moment in our nation’s history, but one that should not be considered out of character, unthinkable, surprising. Our nation’s history is filled with racism and violence and white people need to stand up, wake up, and say, “No more! Not in our names!” I’ve compiled all the articles and actions I can find, and will continue to add to the list as I find new information. Please leave links in the comments.

Many of the links below I have found on FB and Twitter. Ron Berry has generously compiled many on his FB page. I apologize for not linking every single person who has shared these.

Supporting AME Church and thank you Angeliska Polacheck for the links.

• You can make a donation to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund at any Wells Fargo branch across the USA.

• Send a check to Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, c/o City of Charleston, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, S.C. 29402.

• Text ‘prayforcharleston’ to 843-606-5995 or go to www.bidr.co/prayforcharleston to donate by credit card.

• Send a check to Lowcountry Ministries, a South Carolina nonprofit that also has established a fund to help Emanuel and support projects for youth and vulnerable populations, at Lowcountry Ministries — the Rev. Pinckney Fund, c/o The Palmetto Project, 6296 Rivers Ave. #100, North Charleston, S.C. 29406.

• Donate to the Pinckney Fund online at palmettoproject.org via major credit card or PayPal.

• Give directly to Emanuel AME Church. You can donate online via major credit card or PayPal.

Activists/Hashtags On Twitter

Deray McKesson, Matthew Fortner, #charlestonshooting, #standwithcharleston, #takedowntheflag

Reading Lists
Charleston Syllabus is a huge resources of current events, slavery in the US, southern history and more.

A great read-The Half Has Never Been Told Edward E. Baptist and on AutoStraddle #BlackLivesMatter Reading List.

Actions

Ferguson Response includes actions for Charleston around the country. You can add your own, or find one in your city.

Showing Up For Racial Justice is a great way for white allies and accomplices to get involved and learn.

A petition to remove the Confederate Flag from governmental places, Move On.

In Austin, a call to take down the Jefferson Statue.

UT Vigil for Charleston

Also in Austin, Undoing Racism Austin.

Articles and Commentary

Ta-nehisi Coates writes in The Atlantic, Take Down The Confederate Flag-Now

Charles P. Pierce and his Esquire piece,
Charleston Shooting-Speaking The Unspeakable, Thinking The Unthinkable

T. Rees Shapiro at Washington Post Washington And Lee University To Remove Confederate Flags Following Protests.

Murders In Charleston Jelani Cobb for The New Yorker

What Is Whiteness by Nell Irvin Painter in the NY Times.

A South African Calls for Accountability, Not Forgiveness in Charleston by Xolela Mangcu in The Root.

The Huffington Post’s Ben Hallman
The Confederate Flag Is a Racist Symbol of a Failed Rebellion. It’s Not a Debate.

A white ally speaks, Marcy Taylor Rizzi at Luckygirl75.

White Terrorism Is As Old As America, by Brit Bennett in the NY Times

Medium’s John E. Price writes, Yes You’re A Racist…And A Traitor.

On Alternet, Dr. Robin Diangelo discusses 11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility For It’s Racism.

Baynard Woods writes at The Washington Post Only White People Can Save Themselves From Racism and White Supremacism.

Aaron Barksdale at Huffington Post shares 7 Was To Be A White Ally For Charleston And The Black Community.

For parents who need to discuss the shootings with their children, Britni writes at Fiending For Hope, Resources For White Parents On Talking To Kids About White Supremacy and Racism.

6 Ways White Supremacy Takes Its Toll On Black People’s Mental Health by Terrell Jermaine Starr at Salon

Two articles on mental health and illness (and how that’s not the trigger here) from Arthur Chu at Salon It’s Not About Mental Illness: The Big Lie That Always Follows Mass Shootings By White Males and from Julia Craven Racism Is Not A Mental Illness.

David Remnick from The New Yorker Charleston and the Age of Obama.

Joshua Dubois We Need To Talk About White Culture in The Daily Beast.

Reverend Broderick Greer in Philly.Com on Nothing Isolated About The Shooting.

Lydia Polgreen for the NY Times From Ferguson To Charleston And Beyond, Anguish About Race Keeps Building.

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PRIDE

Essygie Creative Commons

Essygie Creative Commons

I’ll be at Pride today at Fiesta Gardens with the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas! Later, for the parade, I’ll be marching with BedPost Confessions!!!!

Get out there and celebrate love, joy, bodies, pleasure, and equity!!!!

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Cruelty Free, Fast Food Women, And Morrison

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Come to the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas tonight and tomorrow for two special events.

First, the art opening of Paloma Mayorga’s Cruelty Free:

Join us for the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas’ first art exhibit opening, a project dedicated to highlighting women in art.

“Cruelty Free” by Paloma Mayorga

Opening Reception:
September 12, 2014 @ 6:30pm-8:30pm
Introductory remarks and artist talk at 7:00pm
FREE and open to the public!
There will be snacks and drinks!
**Beer and hard cider will be provided courtesy of Artisanal Imports for those 21+**
Free parking on street after 6pm.

Childcare will be provided just shoot us an email a day in advance: info@womenscommunityctx.org

Paloma Mayorga is an interdisciplinary artist whose work primarily focuses on issues of identity and explores the ways in which the human body relates to its natural and constructed environments. After earning her B.A. in Studio Art from Southwestern University in 2010, she has dedicated her time to working for Latino arts organizations that promote cultural diversity. Mayorga renounces Western lifestyle norms and traditional ideas of beauty in order to illustrate a universal truth that connects all living beings as a means of feminist empowerment.

“Cruelty Free is a series of photographs I’ve created in collaboration with the women depicted in them that reveal disheartening truths about our experiences with and in our own physical bodies. After reading through old diary entries I wrote when I was ten years old, I decided that the negative self image I had created at that age be exposed and turned into a source of self empowerment and connection to other women that may have also felt the same growing up.

For this exhibit, I have asked a close group of friends, colleagues, contemporaries and confidants, who have been incredibly empowering for me in our communal struggle to defeat cultural, emotional and physical issues, to share their own writings. I hope that by exposing the words we use to describe ourselves, we can overcome the cruel ideas that have been predisposed for us about how our bodies should exist, what our minds should think, how we should identify ourselves because of tradition, genetics, or culture that are destructive to our own sense of self. I ask that we all look at ourselves and see our potential, unfiltered from pre-constructed ideas of what we should see, to be powerful, to be influential, to be loving and to be completely and honestly cruelty free.”

The exhibit will be up until November 21st, 2014. Come see it again and bring your friends!

And tomorrow??

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Fast Food Women and Morristown

–from the Facebook Event:

For our monthly Saturday screening, the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas and Resistencia Bookstore, casa de Red Salmon Arts, invite you to a special screening of Fast Food Women and Morristown, two films about labor and working-class communities. A discussion with the director Anne Lewis will follow after the screening!

Fast Food Women (1992)
Women in Kentucky, as across the nation, are increasingly applying for jobs frying chicken, making pizzas and flipping burgers for fast food chains. They are not teenagers or college students on summer break. Indeed, they are struggling to support families in communities ravaged by a failing economy. Award winner Anne Lewis documents the low-wage, no-benefit jobs of the ‘working poor’ in America’s new ‘service economy’.

Morristown (2007)
A working class response to globalization filmed over an 8-year period in the mountains of east Tennessee, interior Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez.

Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 6 pm
Women’s Community Center of Central Texas
1704 San Antonio St.
Austin, TX 78701

-This event is a FREE community screening!
-Snacks provided
-Free childcare available! Just shoot Andrea Zarate an email the day before at andrea@womenscommunityctx.org

Resistencia Bookstore, home of Red Salmon Arts, is a liberated space for independent thinking, community building, and creative & revolutionary vision. For more info and film screenings visit the store at 4926 E Cesar Chavez St, Unit C1, Austin, Texas 78702!

For more info on the Women’s Community Center of Central Texas visit http://womenscommunityctx.org/

This project is funded and supported in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com

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Back To School

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For many of us in Austin, today is the first day of school. My eldest is starting high school (which is hard to fathom), and all across the city there are thousands of first day outfits, backpacks, and supply bags ready to go. There are nervous parents poised with a camera and teachers prepared to engage minds, and often hearts, in learning. I am grateful to those teachers who do so much, and often get so little, for so many.

There is so much to learn. Literature, reading, algebra, geography.

History.

I worry we don’t do enough about history. I worry we teach the wrong history, the history of the winners, but not the history that matters. Of how we truly got to be who and how we are, right now in America.

There has been so much pain over the past two weeks. So many hearts broken over and over again, as if they weren’t broken and bruised enough before by racism and an endemic violence of white privilege, like a virus as Andrew O’Hehir put it so powerfully in Salon. It’s Ferguson but it’s so much more, going back monthly, yearly, since our inception.

The history is right in front of us, living still and happening in an endless loop, and yet I don’t think this truly gets taught in our history classes, in our school-day curriculum. Not at least until College, and even then it’s often an elective or selected major.

I think we have to change this. We have to truly teach our history, all of it, to our children now, so that they may change how the future rolls out.

I’m thinking about this, with my children still sleeping tight in their beds, their bags ready to go and their outfits picked out and I wonder how we make that happen. We can go back to school at powerful places here, or here, but we must join in. And we have to teach real history so we know the truth.

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Look To The Rainbow or Chase The Dragon

Follow The Fellow Who Follows A Dream

Follow The Fellow Who Follows A Dream

My eldest son had a theater performance last night. Their classes all did a kind of lip sync’d but originally choreographed take on Broadway musical numbers from Annie to Hairspray. He did well, had a great time, and came home riding on air.

As I was getting him in bed he told me, “That’s the best feeling in the world, being on stage. I just feel so amazing.” And then he paused, his face hidden and shadowed in the dark room. He asked shyly as if he was discovering something of tremendous import, “Does it feel that way for you when you are onstage?”

Yes. Yes it does.

Being onstage, rehearsing, producing (and to some extent writing) feels like nothing else. No where else do I feel quite so competent as in a collective space working on receiving and transmitting emotions in text and movement and then offering that to an audience. There is a very particular skill set that allows for that kind of space creation and holding it just long enough for a show to happen and it’s powerful and feels, well, spiritual in nature-energetic, a force coming from someplace (maybe it’s all just chemical but it feels transformative at its best).

I felt this sharp tug at my heart when he asked, as much for his question as for my own struggles with having this need to perform. I felt almost a kind of sadness that he felt that feeling because I know it means a life of sacrifices, struggles, and really weird hard choices if he’s called by the dream-like power of Art and Theater, not by Business or some other more valued lucrative force.

I know a lot of artists. Nearly all of them have a day job and then their own gig. Austin is filled with people working and then WORKING on what counts for them the most, what calls them and makes them get up and create. Most of them are not paid well, if at all, for that creative work. Musicians, painters, actors, singers. Most have to support themselves with a 40 hour gig, live lean and forego middle class luxuries.

There are a few who have figured out how to live on art. Some of those few have family money, or have made exceptionally wise money choices, or have supportive spouses. Some don’t have any of that but have pretty much lived on the brink of homelessness to just work in the arts because they can’t do anything else, and by “can’t” I don’t mean skill, I mean that’s the thing life gave them to do. That’s it for them. Art.

I also know a few folks who have actual careers in law, engineering, business, higher ed. They don’t seem to have a side gig, but feel really satisfied by their career. I’m not sure what they do at night or on weekends but it doesn’t seem to be additional production work, or writing. Maybe they invest? Build things on their homes? Go out? (I jest a little, but I know people who do not go overboard with the extra projects, either art or activism like my friends and I do and it confounds me.)

Many of those people make a really good solid living in their career. Their avocations are just that; hobbies that please them outside of career. But what of all the artists whose actual vocation is the thing that doesn’t pay (but which is often viewed as a hobby by employers)? Reminds me of this article in the Onion recently.

All those thoughts cartwheeled through my mind as I tried to get to sleep last night.

“Does it feel like that for you when you are onstage?”

God, yes. The best feeling in the world to be in a show. Or to facilitate a group of people through a creative process. Or to brainstorm and come up with ideas. Or to listen to someone who needs coaching. or to get all the pieces together for an event. The interchange of energies, transmitting and receiving is the dream, the sweet spot where I have something to offer.

I’m lucky that my career and weekly work is such that I can (and do) use those skills-event planning and production, speaking and outreach, facilitation and consulting, because those are the only damn things I’m good at. And I’m lucky that I have been able to integrate the arts and activism into my life throughout my life. Heck, I try to integrate my arts and activism into each other so I can get more done! I’m extremely privileged to live in a town like Austin where you can craft out a side gig pretty easily and it’s something that keeps the town “weird.”

But I wonder and ponder for my son. How to explain to him that even if he could be a full time actor? The performance is still only a small percentage of that career. From auditions, to money management, to agents, to rehearsing, to classes, to promotion and marketing, to just paying bills and maintaining a home, getting onstage is still rare.

And if he’s like the thousands of artists that do their thing on evenings and weekends, how to prepare him in ways I was not prepared, and ways I most certainly ignored out of a romantic idealism about art and purity and my own pathological issues with money?

I don’t want that feeling to be something he chases like an addiction, getting it where he can, if he can, because he has to live a life that isn’t his just to get by. Nor do I want him to treat it like a musical theater-like dream and not take it seriously or give it up altogether. The arts are tremendously undervalued in terms of monetary reward (unless you are famous and then it’s extremely overvalued) and that means people either give them up or try to work the system ruthlessly. It can’t be idealized and it shouldn’t be cynical, but it seems to me those are the choices lately.

What kind of stories do I tell him in order to help him value earning potential but also his innate skills? What do I do to help him build his own mythos, his own path, rather than crush him with the one I was raised with, the daughter of a well known talented composer whose legacy…well, was crushing in many ways and left me focused on the right things but the wrong ways?

I don’t have a lot of answers to those questions. I’m only now, at 45, beginning to really look in the mirror and ask them of myself. Which, I can tell you, is a painful thing right now. I can look back over the last 15 years and think, damn. I’ve really bungled a lot of opportunities and I’ve truly missed the boat by dividing myself. Personal work is the hardest work.

Which is why I think that shy question, in the dark, was so powerful. It was a moment of consciousness from a young boy taking the very first steps into adulthood. Him recognizing, perhaps for the first time, that his parent had a connection to him in a way that felt real and visceral. An awareness of something he may not ever have suspected about himself, and that his mother had also traveled that same way.

It was a stunning moment, at least for me. And I am still boggled as to how to move myself through it, but surely there is no better reason than to make things a little easier for him.

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The SXSW Premiere Of Above All Else

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My husband Christopher Lucas has been a producer on an amazing documentary filmed and directed by John Fiege of Fiege Films and premiering at SXSW.

Above All Else “is an intimate portrait of a group of landowners and activists in East Texas who tried to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion dollar project slated to carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Risking financial ruin, their personal safety, and the security of their families, these unforgettable people and their stories become an exploration of the human spirit and a window into how social change happens in America.”

There are three screening times at SXSW.

Monday, March 10, 12 PM, Paramount Theater
Tuesday, March 11, 4:30 PM, Alamo Village
Saturday, March 15, 2 PM, Topfer Theater at ZACH

Help us fill the 1200 seats at the Paramount! $10 Individual tickets will go on sale 15 minutes before each screening at the venue box office. Arrive early in case of lines.

$12 advanced tickets can be purchased here.

SXSW Badge and Film Pass holders are given seating priority – you can purchase badges and passes here at SXSW.

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What Love Is All About

Watch this.

Read the words of Ellen Page. I couldn’t put it better than this.

“What I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it is the most incredible gift to give and receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and and without compromise.”

My congratulations to Ellen Page, and my love and support to everyone out there living and loving authentically and with compassion for others.

Sexual, orientation, and gender rights are human rights.
Love is love.
Equality for All.

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Us, Here, Now.

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(photo credit Kit O’Connell)

 

Today there was a rally at the Capitol on the anniversary of Roe. It was a rally for the side of things that call themselves, Pro Life, though our team usually calls them Anti Choice. We had hundreds of amazing people, fantastic organizers, brilliant activists all. I am so grateful for them and their passion and devotion to justice.

One of the signs I saw today was about “My Generation Will End Abortion.” That’s a Utopian sentiment, and truly naive.

Abortion has existed for as long as women didn’t want to be pregnant. It’s existed in every culture and country, and has been needed not just to end a pregnancy that is unplanned or unwanted, but to save women’s lives should the fetus be causing danger to the living woman. The physical process for supporting a woman through a difficult miscarriage is the same, and doctors need to know how to help women through all phases of their reproductive lives.

I believe abortion will always exist because there will always be circumstances in which women have to choose. My life? Or, the life of the fetus suffering and unable to grow. My children’s well being? Or this new accidental pregnancy. My emotional, mental, and physical health? Or the pregnancy caused by a rape. There are more, many more stories, including wanted children who cannot be borne, including forced pregnancies through rape or coercion, including pregnancies incurred because teens had no idea how their bodies work.

The issue is access, resources, and choice. Do this, and you will indeed reduce the need for abortion services.

Abortion services though, will always be needed and should be legal and accessible, with trained providers that are free from religious or political pressure to deny patients rights.

Here are some things that will not end abortion:

  • Lying to women about condoms, as many so called crisis pregnancy centers do.
  • Shaming women and men about sex.
  • Denying that some men rape or abuse women and girls (not that those women tempt men).
  • Closing reproductive health centers (that will just mean women will take radical and drastic steps).
  • Impoverishing communities by gutting education, approving unfair bank practices, eliminating health and mental health services, and lowering wages.
  • Telling children they are like used up pieces of gum if they have sex, and then lying to them about their bodies, how they work, and being disingenuous about contraception.

The only way to reduce abortion (for it can never be eliminated) is to do the opposite things:

  • Provide extremely comprehensive sex ed to all genders.
  • Offer unfettered access to contraception, reproductive services and education.
  • Create cultures of absolute consent and acceptance between men and women regarding sex and pleasure.
  • Support a political system that provides living wages, fair bank practices, less corporate interference in local job economies, and provides safety and health care for all.
  • Increase the safety net for mental and physical health, for job loss, and economic stress.
  • Decrease oppressive racial and gendered systems so that more people have access to more education, more jobs, more ability to live with autonomy.

This will mean less unintended pregnancies, and more planned for and wanted children. It will also mean that the choice to keep an unplanned pregnancy will mean far less financial disaster for families.

It will also mean a more equitable life for ALL THOSE WHO ARE CURRENTLY ALIVE.

It confounds me that even when given this response, the Right and Anti-Choice side denies and refuses the truth of it. All I have heard for the million years I’ve been fighting against anti-choice laws have been about control, shame, vengeance, and discipline.

  • Don’t have sex.
  • Wait until marriage.
  • Pray.

Live with your mistakes (as if a child should EVER be told they are a mistake to live with).

The core belief structure seems to be about personal control (and fear), vengeance instead of understanding, denial instead of adaptation. Punishment, certainly.

I don’t doubt that many many on the Right believe deeply that they are the correct side, that they hold the loving position, the compassionate position. I certainly know our side believes we are and we do.

The very words have different core meanings to align with the different deep core beliefs. When I say love and compassion are part of abortion services I am accused of murderous intent. When I hear and see those words used by the Right, it seems cruel and manipulative and I see it as a cudgel to control through shame. This semantic divide can make dialogue seem nearly impossible, nearly alien in how we use the words or understand the positions. One inroad I’ve seen is with Exhale and their use of stories rather than arguments.

In all this, I go out, I write and I activate with many others, but I’m a bit at a loss to figure out how to motivate the even larger numbers of people to get out there and make change. The Right believes they have “god” on their side-their churches organize like wild, they focus on their actions in much more lock step and may even feel that their actions are spiritually called (and if not that, their communities are part of church life so it’s where everyone is, pressing each other to act).

I’m not sure how to take back the spiritual position (or if we can), though Cindy Noland of Faith Action Women in Need, did a great job today speaking on faith and abortion as compassion, healing, justice. We are a mixed group of atheists, agnostics and the message of spirituality may not appeal to those on our side, but something has to pull more and more of us in.

I  think it should, something should to get people out organized and in force. As Gar Alperovitz said last night in his talk, “The Quietly Deepening Political and Economic Crisis: Possibilities for an America beyond Corporate Capitalism,” the issues aren’t historical or political, but existential. “What are you going to do?”

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, most profoundly, “Life’s Most Persistent And Urgent Question Is, What Are You Doing For Others?”

Perhaps the Right believes that’s what they are doing, those others being fetuses in varying stages of development.

But, all I know is us here now. Those others? That’s you. The kids in school in this very county that might be marked for the school to prison pipeline. The people in West Virginia without water. The families who have lost children because of lax gun laws. The racism endemic in our country. The men and women who have lost jobs because of corporate outsourcing. The prisoners in Guantanamo, lingering still.

What will it take to get you out there?

The goal should be making this life livable for those here who are living. All of us, all colors, shapes and sizes, ages and ability. All of us deserve clean water, clean air, healthy food, access to jobs, safe working conditions, fair and equal treatment under the laws and the expectation that WE are the people making democracy happen.

What will it take to get you out there?

I think there can be no more holy work than that. And I want to see more and more of you stand with me. We are all we have and I believe if there is a “god” it is in those moments and junctures between each of us, tendrils of connection lingering eternally, invisibly, but part of us. That’s what we can count on now.

What will it take to get all our generations out there, and what will we do for others? How will we take to the streets to act on behalf of the least of us, here, now?

We need every single beautiful one of you.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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How many times have you seen articles about social justice issues, then witnessed the opposition response of religious folks that pulled directly from scripture? I’m thinking particularly about the LGBTQ movement towards equality.

Too often, it looks like people making a really good case for why marriage should be granted, or sharing stories about why protections need to be in place for them. Certainly those laws are needed in places such as Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria where LGBTQ people are being physically harmed (and some Right Wing folks are wishing we could get such laws here in the US). Those people are seeking rights and the responding protests often come in the form of biblical passages. The “clobber passages” are used often, even though I haven’t found any direct quotes from Christ on the subject.

This, to me, ruins what should be a perfectly wonderful spiritual practice. Christianity-as social justice, as action, as radical political force against oppressive systems, as non-violence, as love-really appeals to me. Christianity as theological manipulation used for political purposes to oppress others bothers me one hell of a lot.

I ran across the article today on the difference between theology and action, and I wanted to share it with you because it resonated deeply. It’s entitled, When Christians Love Theology More Than People, and it hit home with me as to why I’ve always had such a struggle in my desire for spiritual growth and community.

The author, Stephen Mattson, begins quite straightforwardly:

“Beyond the realm of churches, religious blogs, and bible colleges, nobody really cares about theology. What does matter is the way you treat other people.

Within Christendom, we’re often taught the exact opposite: that doctrines, traditions, theologies, and distinct beliefs are the only things that do matter. It’s what separates churches, denominations, theologians, and those who are “saved” and “unsaved.”

Anyone recognize that?

I’ll generalize here, but in my experience many human systems, spiritual or not, behave this way. It’s an in/out, group/not group, belong/not belong thing that probably has some sort of biological component in our evolution. I figure that we create doctrine and dogma to justify the human instinct to create safe group systems, rather than the opposite.

Certainly other religions manifest rules and codes, and corporate and political systems do as well. It’s common to see “With us or against us!” or that’s “not American!” that kind of thing. When it comes to a spiritual path that speaks of love, of grace, of healing, and of universality to then create divisions based on doctrine written by man (and yes, I’ll state that I interpret the bible from a progressive and metaphorical perspective) I get irritated and angry.

I suspect many many of you do as well. In fact, my guess is most of the people that read this blog are either staunch atheists, agnostics, or folks who have been damaged by modern Christianity, in particular.

But for whatever reason (and believe me I don’t understand it) I seek spiritual growth, expression, community. I’ve been calling this a “little s” spirituality because it matters far less to me that it has an organized history or a particular creed, but more that it’s how human beings can invoke the ACTIONS of love, connection, witness-bearing, activism in service of social and human justice, and against what appears to be a culture determined to ruin people and the planet through corporate policies that focus on money, profit, greed, consumption, and not humanity.

If you are secular and you are doing this work, I cheer you. If you are spiritual, I cheer you as well. Whether you enter from politics, activism, art, or religion, I hope that no matter your relative position in the web of that work, it’s actions that matter more than dogma.

I admit it. I believe that there is something connecting us all. It may well be just turtles all the way down, from the above pictured galactic filaments all the way to neurons, both mirroring all up and around like a mobius strip. It might be that there is some larger consciousness out there simply waiting for our microtubules to evolve up to meet IT, and in some ways I don’t really care. I want human equality and stewardship of the planet. I want justice. I want results.

Stephen Mattson, who has a number of good articles on the tension many feel about seeking a more just Christianity, ends his piece this way:

When you love me in deep and meaningful and authentic ways — nothing else really matters.

But when you idolize belief systems and turn theology into an agenda, it poisons the very idea of selfless love. The gospel message turns into propaganda, friends turn into customers, and your relationship with God turns into a religion.

You may have the most intellectually sound theology, but if it’s not delivered with love, respect, and kindness — it’s worthless. The practical application of your love is just as important as the theology behind it. Our faith is evidenced by how we treat others. Does the reality of your life reflect the theory behind your spiritual beliefs?

Actions speak far louder than words, and reach much farther than quotations. Actions, visible actions, can contain real risk, but that seems so much more worthwhile than using verses as weapons. Hate shows in anger and fear. Love thrives in justice and equality. That’s where I take my faith, personally.

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Aim Well

West Virginia. Water. Corruption.

Please watch this video from Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

A company destroys the water supply for 1/6th of the state, declares bankruptcy to avoid legal issues, and the owner appears to form a new company to buy out the old one. This is wrong and needs to be seen.

Post it on Twitter and share it with whatever activists you know. Right now I think the only thing we can push for is awareness about the legal complicity. That state is captured and locked down through the economic power of coal. The citizens are afraid to lose jobs and there is little economic stability so they can’t protest (or believe they can’t). The politicians may be in the pocket of industry for similar reasons. this is what happens when there is no political oversight and corporations pull the strings of our economic and political systems.

Aim to the heart of that in whatever way you can.

We are complicit in the sense we all take part in a culture that needs coal (and gas and oil) to live our regular lives. And that we too are afraid of risking jail for protesting or loss of jobs for being public nuisances or living off the grid in more and more ways. West just happened here last year. There are so many other pockets of our country where fracking is happening and ruining water (which corps like Nestle increasingly own), where pipelines for Keystone are breaking and leaking such toxic chemicals, and look at our gulf. Who was truly punished for that?

All for oil and gas, all for continuing our current lifestyle, which is not sustainable. Even as I write this, I’m aware it’s on a computer created in Asia, built mostly like by the hands of people who weren’t treated well, with parts mined out of other countries, all made by deals through governments and corporations avoiding potential abuses and oversights. This is me, in a house heated by gas, cooled by electricity, with cars that need fuel, and plastics that make my life easier.

I don’t know how to manage. I’m in it, what do I do? All I can do is figure out how and where to aim.

We must aim to the heart of the merged corporate/political marriage, aim towards living as differently as we can, and keeping our eyes open to how systems work. We need to be in solidarity with those in other states while working for HUMAN rights (clean food and water, regulated work conditions, fair and just pay, safety from harassment over orientation and gender, race and ability, not to mention equality and legal rights for all) and a government that is truly of the people, not corporations and for the people, not big business.

Aim well. And be prepared to get in trouble for it.

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