As I was sitting here in our shop, stocking the shelves while Debate Bingo cards print in the background (yes – we’re going to play debate bingo tonight), I spotted a new email from Rev. Jim Burklo, his latest musing. This is one I simply had to share. He starts with the question “How can we put faith into how we vote?” Read on for his answer.
Courtesy of Creative Commons / Wikipedia
Mitt Romney’s 47% comments have really been on my mind the last few days. Two things prompted me to post something here today. One, I had a long conversation with a homeless man who came by our shop on Friday. Two, Rev. Jim Burklo shared a new “musing” somewhat inspired by Gov. Romney’s secretly videotaped musings. I’ll share a bit about my Friday conversation, share all of Jim’s musing, and then close with a bit about how it all fits together.
And… in case you’re wondering, the photo to the left is not Rev. Burklo or our homeless friend, it is Thomas Paine. You’ll get the connection when you read Jim’s musing.
As often happens in the evening when my husband Derrick has heard a lot of political rhetoric on the radio or TV (I’m the one really watching or listening – he’s the one trying to do Sudoku to escape it all), Derrick will make one comment that will spark my imagination and get my fingers flying on the keyboard. Last night his quip was that the “beast” conservatives were trying to starve or drown wasn’t government, it was, among many would-be victims, our god-daughter who has Down Syndrome.
During one of George Lakey’s train-the-trainer for social activist workshops, people kept mentioning that some tactic or other was a “high-wire” concept for them. After around the third time I heard that, I finally asked “What does she mean by high-wire?” George reached behind him, pulled out a soap box, and explained “What if I told you that I wanted you to take this soap box and walk over to 16th and Mission, stand up on the box, and just start talking to everyone who passes by?” “That would make me very uncomfortable.” I responded. “Why?” “Doing something like that is way out of my comfort zone.” I responded. “Exactly! Teaching is always a balancing act, taking people just enough out of their comfort zones that they learn something. If people are too comfortable, they get bored. If they’re really uncomfortable, they switch off.”
High-wire acts make everyone uncomfortable, especially the person walking on that high-wire, whether he has a safety net below to catch him or not.
Finally understanding what they all meant by “high-wire” I figured we were ready to get back to the discussion we’d been having. Instead, George announced to the group “OK folks, we’re going out to 16th and Mission and each of you is going to get up on this box for five minutes and speak to the people.” And off we went!
This morning, George’s latest posting from Waging Nonviolence appeared in the mail, and it focuses on the reaction people had to a Bill McKibben article in Rolling Stone in which he called for activists to step up the fight against the fossil fuel industry and their role in global warming. Some say that what he’s calling for is “polarizing.” That’s a charge I often hear when folks suggest that we approach a problem in a more direct way than ways in which they are more comfortable. I’d like to share George Lakey’s post below (read more), after which I’ll share a little bit more about what happened on that soap box on 16th and Mission.
(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
With Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, this election has become very personal for me. In this posting, I’d like to share how the field looks from my perspective, using my 53 year-old lens, colored by my life experience and where I am in life right now. And, I think there are a lot more people like me that might want to take a glance at their choices through my lens because I am beginning to agree with the pundits, that this is one of the most important elections in a generation.
Last evening I attended the Global Women’s Leadership Network graduation for a group of amazing women who will now head off to spend the next six months working on projects to improve lives and make the world a better place. A young man approached me during the reception afterwards and introduced himself. He is an engineering student at Santa Clara University and was attending the ceremony as an assignment for a class focused on women in engineering. I asked him how many men and how many women were in the course. “Five men and two women.”
Interesting, don’t you think?
Empowering girls around the world to get equal education, especially in areas of math, science, medicine, and engineering, was a common theme among the dreams that last evening’s graduates had for their work. Sally Ride, who passed away this week after a battle with cancer, would have been there applauding these women and I think the discussion with the young Santa Clara engineering student would have been quite fun.
Bishop Gene Robinson speaking at MLP Dinner (Image courtesy of More Light Presbyterians)
You can hear about the vengeful and rather unmerciful God talked about on hundreds of radio stations across America, according to Bishop Gene Robinson who spoke at this year’s More Light Presbyterian Dinner during the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly last week. That’s the side of God that Rabbi Michael Lerner so vividly describes as “the Right Hand of God.” But if you try to talk about the all-loving, all-merciful, overly-expansive side of God, especially one that accepts GLBTQ people… the “Left Hand of God,” well then you’re going to be in big trouble! The openly-gay Episcopal Bishop Robinson, over whom the Anglican Church has been “in chaos” for the last number of years, quipped that we should not be surprised when preaching the gospel gets you into trouble since Jesus made it very clear in his words, actions, and in his death, that trouble would follow when you truly followed his example. Read more to watch Bishop Robinson’s talk at the MLP dinner plus a little arm-chair Monday morning quarterbacking from me (the Jew in the pew married to a Presbyterian who, together, have caused our own bit of a stir in the PCUSA over the last 20 years or so).
My earliest memories of my father are of him whistling down the hallway on his way home from work and him singing Old Man River. He loved that song, and he had the deep voice to pull it off. What I learned later in life was that he especially loved Paul Robeson. This afternoon I sat at my father’s bedside reading a book about Woody Guthrie, and found myself on a chapter about a concert in Peekskill New York at which Robeson had performed, and after which the artists and attendees had been ambushed by town-folk while the police looked on and allowed them to be mercilessly beaten. Robeson had two things going against him. He was an outspoken black man fighting for civil rights and he supported the Soviet Union. As I read about the “Peekskill Riots” my father’s breathing became more labored than it had been shortly before and I called the hospice nurse to ask if we should give him another dose of morphine.
I blog, therefore I am.
I’m not a poet, but a number people in my life are. When Rev. Jim Burklo sent out his latest “musing” and the title used the word “service” and the post included a look at poetry, it sparked my interest. As a shopkeeper, I got a kick out of the way he describes two different types of salespeople, feeling good that I was the first you’ll encounter rather than the second. Then, the idea that he shares about poetry being a form of service, as a gift to others, or to the cosmos, stopped me in my tracks. I’d always thought of poetry being a gift to one’s self, first. A way of capturing some joy or angst and putting it down on paper to keep. Yet the poets in my life do like to share their poetry, often packaging it in beautifully bound parcels and handing it to me as they might share the sacraments of communion. So I gift you Jim’s musing and hope that it might stop you for a moment too, and perhaps comment.
Felt red square, via Free Education Montreal
My friends at Waging Nonviolence have been putting together some amazing articles about successful nonviolent movements from the past and present, with a hope that today’s activists can learn from history and current actions. I was intrigued when I was sent this article about the “Red Square” movement in Canada.
Started because of increases in tuition, the movement is rapidly growing and judging from reports of mass arrests, beatings, and pepper spraying, it is starting to really annoy the powers that be. While our friends to the north are complaining about “staggering” student debts of nearly $30,000, US students are facing debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Both sides of the border are feeling the pain and more and more young people are starting to stand up. Read more to get an on-the-ground perspective from recent actions in Montreal.