≡ Menu

Poem: A Psalm For Probating an Estate

Zab_love your enemies

Elizabeth Palmberg

A Psalm For Probating an Estate
for Zab Palmberg

O God, Thou art Creator and Destroyer.
You exhale and we are made to live;

You inhale and we are returned to You.
You plant us like a seed

in good, fat soil.
You tend us and bring the rain and sun.

You delight in our roots and our branches
and our fruits.

Then we ripen —
into beauty and fullness —

falling softly to Your ground.
Our bodies are wiped clean

with the oil of gladness.
Our soul-seeds are wrapped

in prayers of thanksgiving.
Our wordy flesh, our bulky wealth

are dispersed
to the least, the lost, the lonely.

Our sisters snatch back
our brief and glorious labor

from the blunt teeth of the enemy.
Then we are spread —

like bread upon the waters.
You and us, too,

watch the little fish rise up
to feed.

Blessed are Thou, O Beloved,
Thou art our Destroyer and Creator.

Rose Marie Berger, a Catholic peace activist and poet, is a senior associate editor at Sojourners magazine.

Note: Our outgoing interns led worship this week at Sojourners. They invited us to write a psalm to share. I had just returned from D.C. Probate Court where I filed the final papers for my friend and co-worker Elizabeth Palmberg’s estate. Zab died on June 23, 2014. This is the psalm that came out.

{ 2 comments }

Watch the video to see what 7 on Your Side found at 2724 11th St NW.

The tenants at 2724 11th Street NW spoke with WJLA ABC 7 News this week! They are acting together with neighbors to demand the owners to be held accountable to at least the law and to the demands of justice.

The video features Maria, Rigo, Efrain, with a couple of cameos by 5-year-old Fidel.

This unique partnership of tenants living in terrible conditions and short-term and long-term neighbors coming together to demand humane living conditions is producing results and slowly, but surely, impacting every housing-related agency in the District of Columbia. — Rose Marie Berger

{ 0 comments }

shelleyjimdouglass1

You know the saints not by their works but by their dreams. Terry Messman’s wonderful article on Jim and Shelley Douglass and the great movement of White Train activists and Catholic communitarians gives you a glimpse at not only the fruits of their lives of faith but of the dreams that inspire.

I first visited Jim and Shelley at the Ground Zero community near Seattle in 1984. Barbara Bennett (of blessed memory) and I were driving from Davis, Calif., to Seattle to catch the Inside Passage car ferry to Haines, Alaska, then on to Anchorage. We spent the night at the Ground Zero community’s tracks house outside the perimeter of the Bangor nuclear submarine base on the Hood Canal. I remember watching the sunset turn the gun-metal grey sub hangers a deep, disturbing red.

I’ve had the honor of knowing Jim and Shelley since then and being a guest and hosting them as guests in the tradition of Christian hospitality. They are mentors, saints, prophets, and friends. (Learn more about Jim Douglass’ books and witness and Shelley Douglass’ witness and ministry at Mary’s House.)

Thank you to Terry Messman for this exceptional article on one portion of their lives:

Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, has been a lifelong source of inspiration for James and Shelley Douglass, both in their nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear weapons, and also in their solidarity with poor and homeless people.

Day devoted her life to the works of mercy for the poorest of the poor, and often quoted Fyodor Dostoevsky on the high cost of living out the ideal of love in the real world. “As Dostoevsky said: ‘Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.’”

The same warning might be given to those who try to live out the ideal of nonviolence in action, since love and nonviolence are essentially one and the same. (One of Mohandas Gandhi’s descriptions of nonviolent resistance is “love-force.”)

Although it may be heartening to read about nonviolence in the lives of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Dorothy Day, it is a more “harsh and dreadful” proposition to engage in actual resistance to a nuclear submarine capable of destroying hundreds of cities, and protected by the most powerful government in the world.

Instead of nonviolence in dreams, one faces nonviolence in handcuffs and jail cells, nonviolence sailing in the path of massive submarines, nonviolence on the tracks blockading “the train out of hell.”

By the early 1980s, Jim and Shelley Douglass and the members of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action had created a highly visible campaign of resistance to the Trident nuclear submarine based at Bangor Naval Base near Seattle. …

Read Blockading the ‘White Train of Death’ by Terry Messman

{ 0 comments }
Laurel Dykstra at ordination

Laurel Dykstra at ordination

My friend Laurel Dykstra in Vancouver, B.C., has joined with others for a new church plant in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster on Coast Salish territory where the Fraser River meets the Salish Sea.

By “new” I mean revolutionary and visionary and ancient and deeply now. This is an example of how the church can still offer new wine skins for prophetic new wine — and how our salvation comes from God through the margins and marginalized.

Thank you, Laurel. May we all offer a prayer for Salal and Cedar! See Laurel’s epistle below:

Hello Friends and Fellow Travellers,

I am incredibly excited to introduce Salal and Cedar, a new environmental justice ministry in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster on Coast Salish territory where the Fraser River meets the Salish Sea.

After months of planning scheming and preparing with collaborators near and far we are starting a church plant/watershed discipleship community for Christians in and around Vancouver who:

• have a heart for creation
• feel most connected to God in ocean, forest, river and field
• are deeply concerned about global climate change
• want to bring their faith to work for ecological justice
• are environmental activists but keep they faith quiet
• believe racial justice, economic justice and environmental justice are connected

Rooted in the Anglican incarnational theology, we are part of a growing commitment to the Fifth Mark of Mission “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”

Ecumenically we identify with the Watershed Discipleship Movement: communities that are asking, “what does it mean to be a follower of the Jesus Way here, among the land, water, creatures and people of a particular place?”

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

emillerNewsphotoD.C. treasure and literary activist Ethelbert Miller invites America inside prison to see what we are paying for. Keep your eye on the images of a pope and a president who go “inside.” Below is an excerpt from Miller’s short essay:

If one believes Babylon is falling there is then a tendency to stand around and do nothing.

We cannot wait for a celebrity prisoner like Martha Stewart to make us want to talk about prisons. We can’t place all our attention or focus on the “outdoors” and police brutality. Nor can we talk about unjust laws and the black nets that trap and scar the sufferers. Prison is hell and the Devil lives elsewhere.

Too many sufferers coming out prison are going to show the signs of mental illness. A caged human being can slowly grow fur on a daily basis.

In September when the Pope goes into a U.S. prison the cameras will follow. One wonders how the “indoor” black men who are Muslims will receive him. How will the media respond if the Pope decides to wash the feet of black men? Might this be a reversal of the Help?

Meanwhile, our Obama will visit a prison in Oklahoma. Look for him to be surrounded by a number of white inmates. I was hoping the Brother from the White House was going to a prison in Maryland to talk to people from Maryland and DC. I wanted him to sit down in the middle of a circle of black man and talk about fatherhood, work, and reflect on the blackness of the times.–E. Ethelbert Miller

Read Ethelbert Miller’s complete essay at E-Notes.

{ 0 comments }
Archie

Ms. Rosetta Archie

At the end of May, the District of Columbia’s Committee on Housing and Community Development held a public hearing on the “Rent Control Hardship Petition Limitation Amendment Act of 2015.” Hardship petitions allow building owners to claim before the court that they don’t have enough money to maintain their buildings and so need a waiver to raise rent on rent-controlled buildings. All too often these requests are rubber-stamped by an administrative judge without ever examining whether the financial need is real.

The 2724 11th Street NW Tenants Association around the corner from my house in Columbia Heights has spent the last four years fighting two of these hardship petition and default rent increases by owners who do not qualify as hardship cases.–Rose Marie Berger

Ms. Archie spoke eloquently at the public hearing. See her testimony below:

The Importance of Affordable Rent and a Decent Place to Live In D.C.

My name is Rosetta Archie and my son lan Archie and I have been living at 2724 11th Street, NW, for 25 years this December 28, 2015. We are citizens of this country and feel everyone should have affordable and a decent place to live. Here in Washington, DC, the rent has sky-rocketed to ridiculous amounts and it is just not fair nor reasonable.

About four years ago, we received notice that our landlords, the Parker family, had filed a petition, and that our rents would go up by 31.5% I thought they were trying to get us to move out of the building – there was no way we could afford to pay that. I think that they wanted tenants to leave so they could turn the building into condos, like they did with a building they own on T Street. Our property manager said we could have a nice building like that one if we paid the rent increase, but of the low-income tenants who used to live there could afford to stay! [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Bree Newsome’s Acts of Independence

Screen-Shot-2015-06-30-at-11.54.59-AMHow will your church mark Independence Day this year? Consider reading Bree Newsome’s “Now Is the Time for True Courage” from the pulpit — perhaps in place of the epistle — because this is what the Acts of the Apostles looks like today.

My Harper Collins Study Bible (2006) describes the book of Acts this way: “The title indicates the shift in content from Luke’s Gospel, which is about Jesus, to Acts, which concerns the life and work of the church as it is brought into being and sustained by God.”

It goes on to describe the genre. “Precisely because it does contain stories about the church, Acts is often referred to as a book of history. That identification, however,  overlooks the number of genres within Acts, such as biography, homily, letter, and apology. To think of Acts exclusively as history can also obscure the way in which the author’s theological convictions shape the story that unfolds. For these reasons, Acts is best regarded under the general category of theological narrative.”

Yesterday, Bree Newsome, the 30-year-old Christian activist from Charlotte, NC, who climbed the flag pole to remove the Confederate battle flag in front of the South Carolina state house on June 27, 2015, issued such a “theological narrative.”

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Check out the reader’s guide to Pope Francis’ letter on the environment. (Thank you, Tom Reese!) This is a great way to introduce Pope Francis’ groundbreaking treatise to youth groups, Wednesday night bible study and prayer groups, adult Sunday school classes, justice organizations, local book studies, etc.

If you are a human being living on planet earth, then I urge you to gain a working knowledge of this document. It will lead you to ask essential questions about human nature, character, the community of life, sharing, kindness, awe, daily moral reasoning, and love.

{ 0 comments }

Bree Newsome: Remember This Picture

tumblr_nqmheaXBZM1rt05vro1_500

Bree Newsome removed Confederate flag from S.C. Statehouse and was arrested.

 

{ 0 comments }

150626150738-27-pinckney-funeral-exlarge-169“Reverend Pinckney once said, ‘Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history — we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.’  (Applause.)  What is true in the South is true for America.  Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.  That my liberty depends on you being free, too.  (Applause.)  That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — how to break the cycle.  A roadway toward a better world.  He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind — but, more importantly, an open heart.”–President Obama (Rev. Pinckney’s memorial service, 26 June 2015)

Read President Obama’s historic speech in full.

{ 0 comments }