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“God does not ask all souls to show their love by the same works, to climb to heaven by the same ladder, to achieve goodness in the same way of life. What sort of work, then, must I do? Which is my road to heaven? In what kind of life am I to sanctify myself?”–Charles de Foucauld

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moore_125x192History in our neighborhood of Columbia Heights. We are remembering the life and work of Bob Moore, who oversaw the redevelopment and gentrification of Columbia Heights. Moore’s is a mixed – but unmistakable – legacy. Without his work Sojourners would not have been able to gain nonprofit space in the new Tivoli building and could not have afforded to remain in Columbia Heights. Here’s an excerpt from Jose Suiero’s article:

“New residents to the Columbia Heights (CH) neighborhood of Washington DC have no idea the conditions of the area after the 1969 riots through the crack epidemic of the late 80’s and downturns of the 90’s, but it was a far cry from the prosperous, bustling, relatively secure, upscale neighborhood it has become. To his eternal credit, the late Robert L. Moore, longtime leader of the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights (DCCH) who just passed away, was the chief architect and promoter of this transformation. We owe him credit for rebuilding Columbia Heights into the thriving, multi-cultural urban village it has become. He need not worry about his legacy. It is everywhere.

When Bob took over the fledgling community development organization there were burned out vacant lots virtually on every side street of the 14th St. corridor from U all the way up to Spring Road. The Target shopping mall remained an empty lot for close to 20 years with the infamous Waffle Shop anchoring the corner at 14th & Park Rd. The Tivoli stood empty for decades, a hollowed out empty shell. The 1400 block of Park Road was a drug bazaar and Lincoln Jr. High one of the most violence prone schools in the city.

During the Barry years when the urgency of renewing the city core was a top priority the government reached out to Moore to help spur economic development in the ‘Heights’. With an extensive affordable housing background and experience in DC government as head of the DC Housing Authority, Bob took the lead in acquiring boarded up row houses, repairing them and selling them as affordable homes keeping long term residents in their neighborhood. Under his leadership DCCH designed and built a small strip mall along 14th St. at Belmont Rd. The Nehemiah Shopping Center was eventually demolished to build housing, but this first attempt at bringing retail back to CH was the precursor to the DC/USA mall. …” –Jose Sueiro

Read Jose Sueiro’s whole article here.

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Jeremiah and the Wine Jars

Amphora, Isle of Hydra, Aegean Sea (photo by Rose Berger)

Amphora, Isle of Hydra, Aegean Sea (photo by Rose Berger)

From this morning’s scripture reading:

“You shall speak to them this word: ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every jar shall be filled with wine.”‘ And they will say to you, ‘Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine?’ Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, says the LORD. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.’” Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken.”–Jeremiah 13:12-15

“The figure of full wine jars is used to assert that all inhabitants of the community will be filled with drunkenness (Jeremiah 13:13). But the metaphor remains enigmatic, until it is recognized that drunkenness may be taken as a protoapocalyptic figure for instability and judgement. The notion of drunkenness here is not related to immorality, but to loss of equilibrium, of being dizzy and unbalanced. The image is of a person so unstable, as in crazy drunk, that they will bump against and hurt each other. They will be helpless, unable to act differently, or responsibly. They will be at the mercy of their condition, out of control. Indeed, the only one who could save them from this uncontrolled act of self-destruction is Yahweh.” — Walter Brueggemann (“A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming,” p. 129)

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“It seems to me that nothing can distract one from God when one acts only for God, always in God’s holy presence, under that divine glance that penetrates to the depths of the soul. Even in the midst of the world it is possible to listen to God in the silence of a heart that wants to be God’s alone.”–Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Élizabeth Catez was born in France in 1880. She taught religion to children who worked in factories. In 1901 she joined the Discalced Carmelite monastic community of Catholic nuns. She died five years later of Addison’s disease. Read more about her here.

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ego1“The spiritual journey is a journey into Mystery, requiring us to enter the ‘cloud of unknowing’ where the left brain always fears to tread. Precisely because we’re being led into Mystery, we have to let go of our need to know and our need to keep everything under control. Most of us are shocked to discover how great this need is.

There are three primary things that we have to let go of, in my opinion. First is the compulsion to be successful. Second is the compulsion to be right—even, and especially, to be theologically right. (That’s merely an ego trip, and because of this need, churches have split in half, with both parties prisoners of their own egos.) Finally there is the compulsion to be powerful, to have everything under control.

I’m convinced these are the three demons Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Until we each look these three demons in their eyes, we should presume that they are still in charge in every life. The demons have to be called by name, clearly, concretely, and practically, spelling out just how imperious, controlling, and self-righteous we all are. This is the first lesson in the spirituality of subtraction.”–Richard Rohr

Adapted from Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go by Richard Rohr (pp. 42-43)

Find out more about Richard Rohr here.

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Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellermann tells his story at The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers, Friday, March 21, 2014, at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, hosted by Satori Shakoor.

Videographer/Editor Don Wellman (https://www.248pencils.com)

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Richard Rohr: ‘My Kingdoms Go’

portraits-richard-rohr

“To pray and actually mean ‘thy Kingdom come,’ we must also be able to say ‘my kingdoms go.’ Francis and Clare’s first citizenship was always and in every case elsewhere, which ironically allowed them to live in the world with joy, detachment, and freedom.” — Richard Rohr

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Grace_Lee_Boggs_600x400Guernica magazine published an amazing interview with 99-year-old Grace Lee Boggs of Detroit done by Michelle Chen. Bogg’s most recent book is The Next American Revolution. The book is accompanied by a biographical documentary film titled American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.

Here’s an excerpt from Michelle Chen’s interview:

Guernica: Where do people draw the power that they need to seize in order to start this revolution?

Grace Lee Boggs: I think people look at revolution too much in terms of power. I think revolution has to be seen more anthropologically, in terms of transitions from one mode of life to another. We have to see today in light of the transition, say, from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and from agriculture to industry, and from industry to post-industry. We’re in an epoch transition.

Guernica: Do you feel that talking about power and conflict might take away from that, or distract people from that focus on long-term transition?

Grace Lee Boggs: It does. Because when you think of power, you think the state has power. When you look at it in terms of revolution, in terms of the state, you think of it in terms of Russia, the Soviet Union, and how those who struggled for power actually became victims of the state, prisoners of the state, and how that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We have to think of revolution much more in terms of transitions from one epoch to another. Talk about Paleolithic and Neolithic.

Guernica: Given the fact of increasing government intrusion into our lives, it seems like it would be difficult to ignore these power structures.

Grace Lee Boggs: Just think of Obama and think of how powerless he is. I think we have to understand that the nation-state became powerful in the wake of the French Revolution, whereas the nation-state has become powerless in light of globalization.

Read the whole interview.

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Trans Justice: Learning and Listening

BsgtQy0IcAARFzcThis morning I attended a workshop at the Friends Meeting of Washington D.C. on Transgender organizing “Against Police Profiling, Better Jail Conditions, and Against Over-Incarceration” hosted by TransEquality as part of their 2014 Lobby Days. I went at the invitation of some of the young organizers there and was glad to be included.

The two primary speakers were Trans Equality policy expert Harper Jean Tobin (see her HuffPo piece here) and Houston-based Lou Weaver, who is working to launch a model program with sheriff’s department in Texas.

I went to listen and learn and to see where Trans issues cross into other justice avenues, such as protecting civil rights for Transfolks, addressing Trans issues in homelessness work, and especially in suicide prevention, as well as making sure we are including and advocating for and with Transfolks in Mass Incarceration work – especially since the majority of Trans people in the prison system are people of color, primarily African Americans.

One important part of the conversation focused on the history that much of the current Trans organizing and policy work came out of Gay and Lesbian organizing that has been primarily from white leadership groups and white leadership is who gets the primary funding. But, like in many situations, the vast majority of Transfolks who end up in the prison system are people of color. So once again, policy is being created by white leaders without the leadership and expertise of people of color who are disproportionately impacted.

There were some specific resources mentioned that I want to share with others:

A good Bible study here:
TransEpiscopal http://blog.transepiscopal.com/2014/03/transfiguration-transformation-to.html

Community Organizations:
Black Transmen/BTMI
Trans People of Color Coalition

Best practices for supporting LGBT prisoners:
STANDING WITH LGBT PRISONERS: An Advocate’s Guide to Ending Abuse and Combating Imprisonment  (For community-based advocacy)
Policy Review and Development Guide: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Persons in Custodial Settings  (for those working within the corrections system)

Also, in case you missed it, Patti Shaw just won an important case in D.C. that will change (hopefully) police policies.

And Calvary Baptist in D.C. has called its first Trans pastor, Rev. Allyson Robinson. She’s serving as interim in the wake of Rev. Amy Butler moving up to the big pulpit at Riverside Church in NY. See their lovely liturgy here.

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costelloI missed this great op-ed piece by CNN’s Carol Costello that ran in May on the consistent ethic of life.

I find myself perpetually, uncomfortably, and instinctively part of the 8% of Americans who believe that both abortion and the death penalty are affronts to the God of Life and the call to reconciliation.

But there’s a vast ethical and moral difference between the “principalities and powers” of State-imposed execution and the pastoral universe of multivalent forces that may press down on a woman and her family. The ethic is engaged consistently: prophetically against the State, and pastorally with a human being.

Here’s Carol Costello:

Can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty?

It’s a question more than one person I know is asking after Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Not necessarily because of the way Oklahoma tortuously executed the convicted killer, but because of the hard-core way some reacted to Lockett’s execution.

Like Mike Christian. The pro-life Oklahoma state representative told The Associated Press, “I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.”

He also threatened to impeach judges who dared delay executions for any reason.

This is from a man who is so strongly pro-life he voted for eight bills in four years to prevent women in Oklahoma from terminating their pregnancies, or, as many who oppose abortion say, “killing babies.”

Color me confused. So, Rep. Christian says it’s OK to kill, unless you’re a woman who wants to end her pregnancy?
As I told my friends during a heated debate last weekend, that smacks of hypocrisy.

The only nonhypocritical viewpoint, I argued, exists in the Catholic Church.

Catholics believe in the “Consistent Ethic of Life.” As Georgetown’s Father Thomas Reese puts it, “we are concerned about a person from womb to tomb.”

“Life is something that comes from God and shouldn’t be taken away by man,” Reese told me.

Put simply, the Catholic Church opposes abortion and the death penalty. Period. Except nothing in life is that simple. Especially our collective views on the death penalty and abortion.
If you ask a Southern Baptist, he or she will likely tell you the Catholic Church is wrong.

“There is no contradiction here,” R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told me, referring to Rep. Christian’s underlying position. …..

Read the rest here.

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