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Video: Shane Flowers and ‘Am I Next?’

“Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.”–Lamentations 2:19

‘Am I Next?’: Ferguson’s Protests Through the Eyes of a Teenager from Transient Pictures on Vimeo.

Looting, chanting, tear gas, rubber bullets – these are the images from Ferguson, Mo. entering American homes. But the vast majority of protesters are armed with little more than chalk and paper signs, hoping to create a memorial for Michael Brown, the teenager killed by a police officer in the St Louis suburb on Aug. 9. We followed teenager Shane Flowers as he weaved through the protests, attempting to let his voice be heard and fight for change with darkness slowly falling on Florissant Avenue. As he moves through the crowds, he hears differing opinions from other protesters on the best ways to fight for change.–Filmmakers

This was shot as part of the feature documentary School of Last Resort. VIDEO by Nicholas Weissman and Jeremy Levine; PRODUCER Jeff Truesdell; PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Jordan Jones. See the original short video here.


Power Art – Tracking an Image #Ferguson


This image from Ferguson has become known as “The Man With the Chips” who was throwing a tear gas canister fired by the police. The original photo (lower) was taken by Robert Cohen for the St. Louis Dispatch newspaper. It’s gone around the world and been transformed into iconographic art (above).

Some interpret the photo as a young man throwing a fire-bomb at the police. Some interpret it as a young man throwing a tear-gas canister back at the police. Eye-witnesses say he picked up a tear-gas canister that had been lobbed by the police and threw it in a direction to get it away from the children who were on the sidewalk nearby. Read the story here.


My brother in Christ, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou (video), has had guns aimed at him and has been tear gassed in Ferguson as he attempted to nonviolently de-escalate the violence in the aftermath of the waves of police-led domestic terrorism going on in Missouri.

Sekou, as he’s known, was interviewed this morning on Democracy Now!, saying, “It is a tragedy that as a clergyperson I need a tear gas mask more than I need a collar to be able to do the work that I feel called to do.”

Cornel West and Sekou at anti-war protest in D.C. in Sept. 2005. (Matthew Bradley, Creative Commons)

Cornel West and Sekou at anti-war protest in D.C. in Sept. 2005. (Matthew Bradley, Creative Commons)

Sekou and I have known each other since the early days of Boston’s Ten Point Coalition. We’ve been arrested together numerous times in anti-war demonstrations. (I was a few folks down from Sekou and Cornel in the photo to the left.)

He’s a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plains, MA, outside of Boston. He was dispatched to Ferguson by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (read more here). Ironically, he just returned from a six-week fellowship at Stanford University where he was studying in the Martin Luther King archives.–Rose


Susan Cain: Shhhhh. The Power of Introverts

Granddaughter of Rabbi Israel Schorr, Susan Cain has published a new book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking that opens up a brave new claim for how “the quiet of the land” are key to the future.

Great 19-minute video, especially for those introverted radicals among us who were forced to go to summer camp!

One of my favorite quotes: “No wilderness, no revelation.”

The transcript is here.


Japanese dance troupe Enra combines light, music, and technology in this 4-minute performance art video entitled “Pleiades.”

The dancers are Saya Watatani and Maki Yokoyama. It was directed by Japanese artist Nobuyuki Hanabusa, who also provided the music. This video is the newest in a series that uses the same visual technique.

Now, here’s the important question:

1. Why did the Leadership Conference of Women Religious show this video at their national gathering last week?

2.How does this performance invite us to be followers of Jesus and “children of the light” (John 12:36) today, especially those of us who live in the American Empire?

3. What does this video teach us about the dynamics of leadership and how energy moves to transform?

Send me your responses. See here for more about leadership practices in LCWR communities.


HeatherwithcameraMy sister in Christ, Heather Wilson (left), had guns aimed at her last night in Ferguson, MO, as she attempted to nonviolently document the violence in the aftermath of the waves of police-led domestic terrorism going on in Missouri.

Heather is a photojournalist. She spent a year as a Sojourners intern and now works at PICO National Network. Heather spent a few years in Afghanistan as a photographer in the mission field. She’s covered war zones before.–Rose

Here’s what Heather wrote to me today:

the concussion grenades and flash grenades are petrifying. They were shooting teargas into the neighborhoods. Community members thought they were safe because they were abiding by the understood regulations that had been set. But the cops just threw those out the window last night. There were no understood rules of engagement. I had no idea if they were going to shoot us or not as we tried to get out of the protest space. I bought a gas mask and had it with me. So thankful. And gave it to a coworker as he went back into the mayhem to coordinate getting people out with a bunch of local clergy.–Heather

Here’s part of what I wrote back to her:

Here are some tear gas and smoke grenade tips from my experiences in the Mt. Pleasant uprisings of 1991: Soak oversized bandannas in apple cider vinegar then carry them with you in a gallon-size zip lock bag with about 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in the bottom. If you’ve got the baggy with you then you can keep your bandanna resupplied. I usually brought an extra bandanna with me to share if someone caught caught without anything.

For flashbangs or concussion grenades all I know is cover your eyes and use the heavy-duty machinist ear plugs. (Those flashbangs can be totally lethal. They can cause heart attacks and trigger panic attacks – so stay the hell away from them if you can.)

Wear white and keep yourself highly visibly identified, if you can, with PRESS or PEACEKEEPER taped to your shirt with duck tape.

I’m sorry it is so terrifying. Sadly, it’s meant to be. This is what race-based domestic terrorism looks like.

This is your mantra: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Repeat this and walk/move to its rhythm. I’m here. I’m praying.–Rose

Read more of Heather’s accounts from Ferguson, MO. here.


Herring_fastMy brother in Christ, Rev. Alvin Herring (podium), had guns aimed at him last night in Ferguson, MO., as he attempted to nonviolently deescalate the violence in the aftermath of the waves of police-led domestic terrorism going on in Missouri.

His son, Ryan Herring, who was a Sojourners intern last year, tweets:

Here is a tweet from Alvin:

IMG_0970A few of us had a chance to talk to Rev. Alvin, and his sons, Ryan and Brandon, on Saturday morning as they prepared to head to Ferguson. Ryan and Brandon were only staying a few days. Alvin, as he said, “Had no return ticket.”–Rose


Video: Rev. Lennox Yearwood on Ferguson, MO

Here’s a video of Hip Hop Caucus’ Rev. Lennox Yearwood, who I’ve worked with on Keystone XL protests, talking about what’s going on in Ferguson, MO.

More at The Real News


Transform Now Christian anti-nuclear activists, including Sr. Megan Rice (illustration by Jeffrey Smith)

Nicholas Kristof wrote a great column in the NYT on Saturday about American Catholic sisters. Part of his op-ed focuses on Sr. Megan Rice, age 82, who is spending 3 year in the federal pen for exposing U.S. nuclear hypocrisy. Watch for Dan Zak’s new book coming out about “The Prophets of Oak Ridge,” including Sr. Megan. (Editor’s note: This Washington Post article series by Dan Zak should be a required Bible study for all U.S. Christians.)

Here’s an excerpt from Kristof’s column:

IN an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.

“I may not believe in God, but I do believe in nuns,” writes Jo Piazza, in her forthcoming book, “If Nuns Ruled the World.” Piazza is an agnostic living in New York City who began interviewing nuns and found herself utterly charmed and inspired.

“They eschew the spotlight by their very nature, and yet they’re out there in the world every day, living the Gospel and caring for the poor,” Piazza writes. “They don’t hide behind fancy and expensive vestments, a pulpit, or a sermon. I have never met a nun who rides a Mercedes-Benz or a Cadillac. They walk a lot; they ride bikes.”

One of the most erroneous caricatures of nuns is that they are prim, Victorian figures cloistered in convents. On the contrary, I’ve become a huge fan of nuns because I see them so often risking their lives around the world, confronting warlords, pimps and thugs, while speaking the local languages fluently. In a selfish world, they epitomize selflessness and compassion.

There are also plenty of formidable nuns whom even warlords don’t want to mess with, who combine reverence with ferocity, who defy the Roman Catholic Church by handing out condoms to prostitutes to protect them from H.I.V. (They surely don’t mention that to the bishops.)

One of the nuns whom Piazza profiles is Sister Megan Rice. She earned a graduate degree at Boston College and then moved to Nigeria in 1962 to run a school for girls she had helped establish in a remote area with no electricity or running water. After eventually returning to the United States, she began campaigning against nuclear weapons.

In 2012, at the age of 82, she masterminded a break-in of a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to call attention to the nuclear threat. As she was handcuffed by armed security guards, she sang “This Little Light of Mine.” She is now serving a prison sentence of almost three years.

Read the whole article here.


AHGThis morning — bright and early at 7 a.m. — I got to jump on a call with some of my local heroes: Peter Onuf (18th century guy), Ed Ayers (19th century guy), and Brian Balogh (20th century guy) aka “The American History Guys” from the University of Virginia. Our topic was World War I.

As an avid listener of the show, I sent in two questions on the topic:

1. What was the role of women in the U.S. military during WWI? What was the Yeoman (F) class that first allowed white women into active duty in the Navy? I understand that Loretta Walsh was one of the first non-nurse women to serve and actually get full benefits. And were there African-American women who served in the military during WWI? I know that the Harlem Hellcats went with the French forces and I think there were African-American women nurses who were recruited specifically to care for wounded black soldiers.

2. We hear so much about the European and British poets, artists, and novelists of “The Lost Generation,” but less about the Americans: Dos Passos, Stein, and others. What was the American art and literature that arose from the American “Lost Generation”?

The guys took up my first question and we didn’t go into the second one. (If you’ve got responses about art and “the Lost Generation,” send them in to me!)

Our conversation was fun, lively, and brought up complex questions about whether war and the military has been a force for progressive social change when we look at women and minorities and about the military’s use of women as “pin up girls” lure in male recruits.

Listen for this show on Sunday, August 24, 2014 (or listen to the podcast). Find out where to hear Backstory.