Category Archives: Human Rights

24 August 2022

Walking. North East, Maryland.
Stretching. Eric & Essie’s apartment.
For Marsha P. Johnson – Bruce Dressner
Shenandoah – Paul Robeson
Treasure Island Theme – The Chieftains
Honoloochie Boogie – Mott the Hoople
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt
Drift Away – Dobie Gray
Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4 – Elvis Costello
No Ordinary Girl – Magdalen Hsu-Li
Your Eyes – Anoushka Shankar
Lovers in the Backseat – Scissor Sisters
Ow, That’s Hot – Jack Gladstone
No. 6 the Coombe – The Chieftains
Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) – K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC & Residente
Here Comes the Sun – Joe Brown
We Shall Rise – John McCutcheon

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, Human Rights, Music, playlist

23 August 2022

Walking. Stretching. Eric & Essie’s Apartment.
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
Sacco and Vanzetti Execution.
Change Gonna Come – Otis Redding
This Little Light of Mine – Fannie Lou Hamer
Freedom – Charles Mingus
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddons
Freedom Road – The Blind Boys of Alabama
Freedom – Richie Havens
Woke up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom – Congregation of Brown Chapel
Go Down, Moses – Paul Robeson
Get off the Track! – Anne Enslow & Ridley Enslow (feat. Jacqueline Schwab & Linda Russell)
Slavery Days – Burning Spear
Slave Driver – Our Native Daughters
Steal Aawy – The Princely Players
There Is a Balm in Gilead – The Florida A&M University Concert Choir
Free at Last – Kim & Reggie Harris
Oh Freedom – Mary D Williams
Freedom Now – Sweet Honey in the Rock
The Ballad of Sacco & Vanzetti – Joan Baez
Sacco’s Letter to His Son – Magpie

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Exercise, Family, Human Rights, Music, playlist

18 August 2022

Roberto Clemente became my hero when I first saw him play. His commitment to justice and community involvement expanded my understanding of athletes and heroes. Feliz cumpleaños, Roberto. Te recuerdo.

Walking. North East, Maryland
Take Me out to the Ball Game – Dr. John
The Star-Spangled Banner – Branford Marsalis
Roberto – Ismael Miranda
Sueño Se Un Niño – Tito Allen
Somos La Fuerza Latina – Andy Montañez & Ismael Miranda
Roberto Y Tirabala – Andy Montañez
Orgullo De Borinquen – Lefty Pérez
Clemente (Estrella 21) – Edel Borrero
Jugando La Pelota – Jesús “Chocolate” Coombs
Jardonero Del Amor – Wichi Camacho
Lo Mejor Que Dios Ha Hecho – Angel Ramírez
Roberto Clemente – Bill Tiberio Band
Roberto Clemente – Nelson Feliciano and His Orchestra (feat. Junior Cordova)
Te Recuerdo – John McCutcheon

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Exercise, Family, Human Rights, Music, Pittsburgh Pirates, playlist

I Believe in the Communion of Saints

Hebrews 12:1-3
I Believe in the Communion of Saints

August 7, 2022
First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig

         The movie Amistad aired a day or two ago.

          It tells the story of a rebellion by a group of Africans on the Spanish ship La Amistad in 1839. The Africans, of the Mende people, had been illegally taken into slavery near Sierra Leone by Portuguese. They were taken to Cuba where they were sold to the Spaniards commanding La Amistad.

          As the ship sailed to another port, some of the Mende people escaped their shackles and killed most of the crew. They tried to force surviving crew members to sail them back to Africa, but they were tricked. Eventually the ship was seized by the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard.

          Trials followed. The issue pivoted on whether the Mende were free people being enslaved or not. To trade in human beings was illegal at the time. Enslavement was allowed. People born enslaved remained enslaved. People already enslaved could be sold to others for further enslavement. But the small step of banning the trade of free people had been taken. Were the Mende people on La Amistad free when they had been taken? A court decided they were, and the people should be released.

          The U.S. government, fearful of starting a civil war, appealed. The court again ruled in favor of the Mende.

          The U.S. government, fearful of starting a civil war, appealed again. To the Supreme Court.

          At this point, former President John Quincy Adams became involved. He was serving in the House of Representatives at the time. The abolitionists and lawyers representing the Mende people had approached him earlier and he had declined. Now, he said yes.

          I do not know if it happened this way in real life, but there is a scene in the movie where President Adams is speaking to Cinque, the leader of the rebellion. It happens shortly before the final arguments with the Supreme Court. Cinque is nervous. Adams seeks to reassure him. “You are not alone,” Adams says. He refers to himself and the other attorneys and the abolitionists supporting the Mende people.

          Cinque draws himself up to his full height. Speaking through a translator, he says, “I know. My ancestors will be with me. I have summoned them.”

          I had seen Amistad before. A couple times. But somehow I had missed this Communion of Saints moment.

          I believe in the Communion of Saints.

In the wooden pews of the Neville Island Presbyterian Church, l breathed in the aroma of pipe tobacco that permanently permeated my father’s clothes and joined my family and the congregation in affirming, “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”

I did not understand what that meant. I could have been no more that eight or nine years old. With no understanding, I affirmed the words. I believed.

Understanding has grown somewhat over the years. Belief has deepened profoundly.

Here is the basics of what I understand.

In the Reformed tradition, we do not believe that saints are holy people. People somehow better than the rest of us. People to set apart and place on pedestals.

Saints are everyone of us. Ordinary people. Believers who seek to follow Jesus as well as we are able. Believers of every time and every place.

Look around you at the people gathered here this morning – whether in person or on Zoom. You are seeing Saints.

When you have a chance, look in a mirror. You are seeing a Saint.

When you think of family, friends, acquaintances in other places, you are thinking of Saints.

When we celebrated Bill’s life yesterday, we celebrated a Saint.

When we call to mind those who have gone before us into death, our ancestors to use Cinque’s term, we call to mind Saints.

The Communion of Saints surrounds us at all times. We may not always be aware of it, but we live and move and have our being within the Communion of Saints.

From time to time, the reality of the Communion of Saints breaks into my head and heart and spirit with overwhelming power and grace. Usually when I least expect it, the understanding that in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are bound together in God’s love flows over me.

When we share a meal together. When friends and strangers help us with our daily lives. When we know that no matter how far apart Whitestone and Louisville may be, we are tied to one another in the love of Jesus Christ.

At times such as these, the Communion of Saints, some living and some in God’s nearer presence, began to swirl around me.

          It happened yesterday as we celebrated Bill’s life. I don’t know about you, but as I gave God thanks for Bill, so many people whose lives had touched Bill’s were present. Maybe, like Mary, they had gone before Bill in death. Maybe like Malinee and Lisa, they had other responsibilities. But they were all with us in the Communion of Saints.

          Three things that I believe we should do because we are part of the Communion of Saints.

          Give thanks to one another when we can.

          The Rev. Dr. Gayraud Wilmore was a giant in the world of theological education in the Presbyterian Church. I never met him. But I read his books. And many of the people I quote on a regular basis in my sermons studied with him.

          This year’s General Assembly gave Dr. Wilmore with an award for Excellence in Theological Education. Wonderful things were said. Important milestones celebrated. It was a touching moment.

          Except that Dr. Wilmore has been dead for two years.

On the one hand, it is never to late to say or do the right thing. On the other hand, there is blessing in letting people know what they mean to us when they can hear our words. I thank each of you and all of you for being part of my Communion of Saints. I am grateful to God for you.

Remember.

As my friend and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Otis Turner says, “The Communion of Saints consists of people everyone knows, people known to only a few of us, and people whose names we have never heard but are written in God’s book of life.” In almost every area of the church’s life and ministry, we are part of a long line of witnesses linking us to the past and moving into a future we can only imagine, knowing our imagination will fall short of what God has in store.

Remain open to what God is doing.

The Communion of Saints reminds us that God’s people are an evolving people. Learning. Growing. Being changed by the Holy Spirit. Again and again, drawn out of ourselves to something more faithful … more just … more peaceful … more loving. Drawn by a God who did new things and who is not finished with us yet. We are part of an evolving people. It is who the followers of Jesus have been. It is what the followers of Jesus have done. It is who Jesus calls us to be. It is how the Holy Spirit gifts us to be. We recall the past. We make our way in the present. We look forward to what God is doing in us and in our community.

I believe in the Communion of Saints.

For all the saints and what they teach us. Thanks be to God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Human Rights, Movie

LIGHTING CANDLES IN THE WIND, by Mark Koenig

Thanks to my friend Krin Van Tatenhove for inviting me to write about hope for his blog.

Reflections on the Journey

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love
– Bruce Springsteen, “Into the Fire”

Hope is like lighting candles in the wind…

The northern and southern parts of Sudan engaged in periodic conflict since the country achieved independence in 1956. In at least two instances, the conflict rose to the level where it was considered a civil war. The second began in 1983 and lasted, off and on, until a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was brokered in 2005. The CPA, as it is called, provided that the people of the south could vote to remain part of Sudan or to become their own country. After six years, that referendum finally occurred.

From January 9-15, 2011, the people of southern Sudan had their chance to vote.In support of their effort, an interfaith community in New…

View original post 497 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Friends, Human Rights, New York, Prayer, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

6 August 2022

Walking. Hampton Inn La Guardia
Thousand Cranes – Hiroshima
Hiroshima-Nagasaki Russian Roulette – Jim Page
I Come And Stand At Every Door – Anne Hills
No Nuclear War – Peter Tosh
Nuclear War – Yo La Tengo
Hiroshima-Nagasaki – Ozymandias
Enola Gay – Utah Phillips
Sadako – The Sands Family
Nagasaki no Kane – Meisterbrass Quartet & Yumi Aikawa Yuuji Koseki
When the Wind Blows – Eric Bogle
Ippon No Enpitsu – HIbari Misori
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream – Simon & Garfunkel

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, Human Rights, Music, New York, playlist

A prayer for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Gracious God,
we confess that we have failed our
Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings.
We have bought into the
“model minority” and “honorary white” myth
while treating our siblings as perpetual foreigners.
We fail to learn about the
many different peoples, cultures, and nations
you have created and you love.
We fail to seek out and tell
the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
in our schools, colleges, seminaries, and churches.
Forgive us, God.
Forgive our neglect and indifference.
Forgive our stereotyping, prejudice, and racism.
Forgive us for making our
Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings
invisible.
Inspire us to turn around,
to build connections,
to stop “othering” our siblings,
to embrace one another in love,
and to make your beloved
Asian American and Pacific Islander children
visible.
We pray in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

inspired by Invisible: Theology and the Experience of Asian American Women
by the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Friends, Human Rights

24 March 2022

El Padre Antonio Y Su Mongaguillo Andres – Ruben Blades
Oscar Romero – Dafydd Iwan
Romero – The Project
El Salvador – Peter, Paul, & Mary
Eulogy for Oscar Romero – Jean-Luc Ponty
Oscar Romero – Garth Hewitt
Oscar Romero – Richard Gilpin
La Ultima Carta – Natalia Cantalejo
Espejo – Cartas a Felice
Puerto Libertad – Camelo
Mercedes – Galicia
Frutsi – Gabriella Triste
Goodnight – Melissa Etheridge
Open Your Eyes – Annie Humphry
Ghosts of Houston Street – Raye Zaragoza

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Human Rights, Louisville

War I and II

I
Missiles fly.
Parents die.
Children cry.

II
Missiles fly.
Children die.
Parents cry.

22 March 2022

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Poem, Six Word Story

A prayer for the children

I sat to entertain myself, O God.

I smiled as the movie rolled,

and the story flowed.

Then the cannon balls began to fly

and the children began to cry

and cinematic illusion blurred with harsh reality.

I imagined shells falling on Mariupol,

drone attacks in Yemen,

bullets tearing flesh in Tigray

and always children cry.

“And how are the children?”

asks the Masai people.

God, you know.

In places the children are well.

In places the children are strong.

In places the children are safe.

But you also know, O God,

that in places,

too, too many places,

the children cry in terror,

cry in pain,

cry as loved ones suffer and die.

cry from hunger.

The children are not well.

in any conflict,

in every conflict,

the children suffer.

O God, in the name of Jesus,

who bade the children come to him,

I pray for the children of

Mariupol,

Yemen,

Tigray.

I pray for the children

caught up in every conflict and any conflict.

I pray for the children who cry.

Protect the children, O God.

Hear their cries.

Watch over them.

Guide the nations of the world

to end conflicts

and establish the justice

that leads to wholeness and peace

in which children may thrive.

Guide me to discern my part

to support such efforts.

I pray in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Prayer