Category Archives: Current Events

I-271

Bumper to bumper
the traffic coiled around Cleveland’s east side,
tail lights in the darkness
provided an illusion of a unified being,
undulating around the city,
a metal and glass reminder of the
black snake to which we are addicted
even as it chokes the Mother

27 October 2017
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Current Events, Poem

Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy

It is past time to join the chorus of many inside and outside of the church crying out in the face of racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and any form of human hierarchy—conscious or unconscious—that diminishes the inherent dignity of those whom God created. We can no longer be silent. We cannot and will not retreat. We believe the good news of Jesus Christ is freedom to those held captive by bigotry, hatred and fear; liberating oppressed and oppressor alike.

2017-09-10 (2)A wide array of Christian faith leaders from across the United States have issued a Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy. This statement calls  for a return to the liberating work of the Gospel and a rejection of racism and colonization and suggests action steps: listen, lament, repent, and re-imagine.

In the face of white privilege, white normalcy, white supremacy, and white nationalism, the Declaration offers an alternative vision, rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. The Declaration notes that:

The churc\\\h has always stumbled toward the promise of scripture. At times it has done well. Other times it has suffered under the weight of white nationalism.

The crafters of the Declaration write and act in the hope that followers of Jesus will reject hatred and violence and work to disrupt racism and work to renew both the Church and our society.

Check out the Declaration. As it states, if you hear God’s Spirit speaking, consider signing the Declaration and joining in the suggested actions and work. If you do not, pay no further attention.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events

Stop the execution of Marcellus Williams!

Marcellus Williams is scheduled for death on Tuesday despite circumstances that he might be innocent. Sign a petition to the Governor of Missouri to halt the execution.

Why should we halt the execution?

Mr. Williams might be innocent.
But even if he is not, executing people to keep people from committing crimes has proven ineffectual.
Execution lowers us to the level of those who kill.
The violence of an execution feeds violence.
Thou shall not kill.

Background from Amnesty International

The state of Missouri is scheduled to execute Marcellus Williams on August 22 despite a lack of solid evidence used to secure his conviction and a new report from a DNA expert that his lawyers argue supports his claim to innocence.

“The death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance, and as we have seen time and time again, the capital justice system is capable of error,” said Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA. “The state of Missouri must not allow this execution to go forward, and must commute the sentences of all of those on death row. There is no acceptable way for the state to kill its prisoners.”

Williams was convicted of the 1998 murder of former St. Louis reporter Felicia Gayle by a jury consisting of 11 white jurors and one black juror. Williams is black and Gayle was white. There was no forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony linking him to the crime. The jury was not presented evidence of Williams’ background, which included severe abuse and mental disability.

Two experts retained by the appeal lawyers have concluded that DNA testing conducted in December 2016 on the murder weapon excludes Williams as the contributor of the male DNA found on the knife. The lawyers have just filed the latest expert report they have obtained on this with the Missouri Supreme Court in a bid to obtain a stay of execution.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

An act of commitment

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Staff and friends of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gathered this morning at the Presbyterian Center for a chapel service in response to racism and white supremacy in Charlottesville and other places. (An archived live stream of the service is available.)

My colleague and friend, José Luis Casal, director of World Mission, helped celebrate communion.

During the Words of Institution, José Luis observed that, “The bodies of all who have been victims of injustice, the victims of rejection, the victims of violence…are the body of Jesus Christ.”

He reminded us that to come to the table and to partake of the bread and the cup is to commit ourselves personally to stand on the side of love with Jesus and to work against racism, white supremacy, every form of systemic oppression, violence and all that harms any of God’s precious children.

Silently, I shouted “Amen” as loudly as I could.

And I wondered—when the Presbyterian Center or any church or worshipping community gathers to celebrate communion, isn’t that organization making a similar statement? The act of gathering at Christ’s table is, for the community as well, a radical act of commitment to Jesus and to justice, to love and to grace.

May it be so. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Marissa Galván who posted some of José Luis’s word and inspired me to write this post. The image appeared on the cover of the worship bulletin this morning. View the bulletin for the service

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Worship

Churches across the world invited to pray for Korean reunification

The international ecumenical community has invited churches and individuals to join in prayer for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula on August 13. People of any faith or no faith may join.
  Churches across the world invited to pray for Korean reunification

Photo:WCC

24 July 2017

On 13 August, churches across the world are invited to show solidarity with Korean churches by joining a “Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”

The theme for the prayer is based on Romans 14:19: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” The day of prayer occurs two days before Liberation Day in Korea (15 August), during which people celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonization.

The joint prayer was prepared by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from North Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) from South Korea.

In a letter of invitation to member churches, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and World Communion of Reformed Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson invited parishes and individuals across the world to pray for the reconciliation and healing of the divided Korean Peninsula.

“The prayer is an important part of our growing movement to overcome the antagonism that divides the Korean Peninsula and continue to open interaction between communities, churches and people,” the letter reads. “We believe churches across the world can, through prayer, help foster an environment in which peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula can flourish.”

Links:

Material Global Prayer Day on 13 August, 2017

Letter to member churches WCC and WCRC

WCC Member churches in Korea

WCRC statement on the Korean peninsula 7 July, 2017

WCC statement on the Korean peninsula 11 June, 2017

Mutuality and cooperation focus at Korean peace meeting in Leipzig (WCC press release 14 July, 2017)

See you along the Trail.

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The Cellist of Sarajevo

It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Sylvia Poggioli

And everyday he made me wonder
Where did he ever find
The music midst the madness
The courage to be kind
The long forgotten beauty
We thought was blown away
– John McCutcheon
In the Streets of Sarajevo

61ZpqI2PvnL._SS500April 5, 1992 saw the first casualties in what became a 1,425 day siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

More than 10,000 residents died because of shelling, bombing, the blockade, sniper fire, and other aspects of the siege.

In the midst of the siege, “the madness” to use John McCutcheon’s word, Vedran Smailović, of the Sarajevo Philarmonic Orchestra, played his cello in publuc. He played in ruined buildings, often performing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. He played at funerals during the siege, even though snipers often targeted by snipers.

After mortar fire killed 22 people as the stood in a bread line, Smailović played for 22 straight days in their honor. This part of Smailović’s story has made its way into writings and song. In an article in The Australian, Smailović expands on his experience:

I didn’t play for 22 days, I played all my life in Sarajevo and for the two years of the siege each and every day. They keep saying I played at four in the afternoon, but the explosion was at 10 in the morning and I am not stupid, I wasn’t looking to get shot by snipers so I varied my routine. I never stopped playing music throughout the siege.

Twenty-two days, two years, all his life. The time frame is unimportant. What matters is that Smailović found music and courage and grace and love to make a witness in the face of war and horror.

I give thanks for the Cellist of Sarajevo, and I look for others who, to paraphrase McCutcheon, “do not stand aside … refuse to be defeated … and rage against the tide.”

See you along the Trail.

P.S. After leaving Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović collaborated with Irish singer-songwriter and peace activist Tommy Sands to create an album Sarajevo/Belfast.

P.P.S. I use the image of the CD cover because it is a photo I took of a copy of the CD I own.

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Loser – from Marcia Auld Glass

In a recent post, Marci Auld Glass looks both at the recent, and repeated, use of the word “loser” by the president and at the role losing plays in our lives. This post is made with her permission.

Some quotes that caught my attention follow. Check out Marci’s whole post.

At the least, equating depraved terrorists with people on the losing side of the democratic process is inadequate, requiring the word “loser” to stretch far beyond it’s meaning.

In truth, we are all losers, and we should be. When we lose, we learn–about ourselves, about others, about the level of work needed to reach our goals, and the way the world sometimes rewards people who aren’t the ones who work the hardest or who are the most qualified.

To call everyone else “losers” only reveals a shallow insult and a failure of comprehension about the value of not always coming out on top. Kareem Abdul Jabbar said, “You can’t win unless you learn how to lose”.

Marci’s words remind me that I am grateful for the times I took risks; the times I tried to do new things or things a step or two or ten beyond my capacity; the times I did my best and fell short. I am grateful for the times I have lost and what I have learned.

Thank you, Marci, for calling out the word “loser”. Thank you for the reminder of the role losing plays in life.

See you along the Trail.

 

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