Podcast: Where’s the Body of Christ when Bodies Go Missing?

Six minutes of truth-telling from the awesome team at Sojourners: Where’s the Body of Christ when Bodies Go Missing? This is the nascent short podcast series that Sojourners is developing called The God Beat.

This story about missing black and Latina girls in the D.C-area speaks to me because of my work on the Donte Manning story (see Who Killed Donte Manning: The Story of an American Neighborhood) and because of Ebony Franklin, who was murdered a few blocks from my house. There are hundreds of unnamed and disappeared girls in our country.

My Sojourners’ colleagues, Dhanya Addanki and Da’Shawn Mosley, get to the root of the Christian question in their podcast.

Morning Messages

dawn-city

“Children, let us love not in word
or speech but in deed and truth.”
—1 John 3

“In whatever you do, remember
That Christ is calling you, in one
Way or another, to the service of
Love: the love of God and of your
Neighbor. Real love is demanding.”
—John Paul II

These are days of hard and demanding work for me. Dawn struggles to make it up over the skyline of row houses in D.C. The writer of John’s letter and the old sainted pope send a sustaining message.

2724 11th Street: D.C. Tenants Get Channel 7 on Their Side

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

Ms. Rosetta Archie: ‘We Are Citizens of This Country’

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! Continue reading “Ms. Rosetta Archie: ‘We Are Citizens of This Country’”

How To Defend Your Neighbor In Bold Stripe Maxi Dress (With Discussion Questions)

Here’s a 3 minute video for discussion in your church. This incident took place in the posh upper Northwest neighborhood of Foxhall in Washington, D.C., this week.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the power dynamic between the police officers in the car and the officer on the street?
2. What do the physical positions and body language convey about the power dynamics?
3. How is technology being used?
4. How are names used? What does the use of names convey?
5. Is white privilege at play here?
6. Who is the most powerless in this scenario? Who is most powerful?
7. What is the role of an ally? Are an ally’s motives “pure”?
8. If there were bystanders, what would their responsibility be? How did the police handle themselves?
9. As a Christian watching this video, who is Christ in the scenario? Who are the followers of Christ, acting as Christ’s hands and feet?
10. Where are you in this scenario?

Read more about this incident here.

Study Resources
Handout on Power and Empowerment

On Racism and White Privilege

The Color of Christ and The Cross and the Lynching Tree

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.

National Sculpture Garden in Winter

Today I walked through the Sculpture Garden. Snow on the ground. Temperatures in the 20s. Here’s my message for the day from the work of Robert Indiana:

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Washington, DC—Robert Indiana’s AMOR (conceived 1998, executed 2006) is now on view in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. A play on Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture, AMOR is constructed from red and yellow polychrome aluminum. This is the first sculpture by Indiana (American, b. 1928) to enter the Gallery’s collection, and it significantly advances the Gallery’s holdings of monumental modern sculpture. The sculpture was given to the Gallery in May 2012 by Simon and Gillian Salama-Caro in memory of Ruth Klausner.

Indiana originally conceived the familiar “Love” graphic in drawings, paintings, and sculptures between 1964 and 1966. The first sculptural version was displayed at an exhibition at the Stable Gallery in Manhattan in 1966, and the artist has continued working with the motif since. The image became most widely known through a commission for a Museum of Modern Art card in 1965 and the 8-cent “Love” stamp issued in 1973 by the United States Postal Service. The graphic became an emblem of the 1970s in the U.S., associated with the relaxation of social strictures. The monumental AMOR made its first appearance in the center of Madrid in 2006. With its inclined “O” and vibrant colors, it extends the spirit of “Love” into several languages and cultures.

Richard Rohr: Living in the Communion of Saints

I am a man
Ernest Withers’ “I Am A Man” photo as D.C. wall mural by artist JR

“Living in the communion of saints means that we can take ourselves very seriously (we are part of a Great Whole) and not take ourselves too seriously at all (we are just a part of the Great Whole!) at the very same time. I hope this frees you from any unnecessary individual guilt—and more importantly frees you to be full “partners in God’s triumphant parade” through time and history (2 Corinthians 2:14). You are in on the deal and, yes, the really Big Deal. You are all a very small part of a very Big Thing!”–Richard Rohr, ofm

Richard Rohr: ‘Letting Go’

We had an excellent sermon preached at Sojourners last month by Sarabeth Goodwin from the Episcopal Church St. Stephen and the Incarnation. She framed her reflections with stories of sorting through boxes and boxes of paper in her study, trying to decide what to keep and what to let go. It made me realize what a contest with the personal ego this process is! On the flip side, for me, when I’m anguishing about holding on to notes I took at a lecture in 1981, then it is a clear signal of an opportunity to embrace change and release the private ego. Here’s Richard Rohr on a similar topic:

“Once Jesus’ great and good news became a reward-punishment system that only checked into place in the next world instead of a transformational system in this world, Christianity in effect moved away from a religion of letting go and became a religion of holding on. Religion’s very purpose for many people was to protect the status quo of empire, power, war, money, and the private ego. So in many ways, we have not been a force for liberation, peacemaking, or change in the world. One thing for sure is that healthy religion is always telling us to change instead of giving us ammunition to try to change others. Authentic Christianity is a religion of constantly letting go of the false self so the True Self in God can stand revealed—now.”–Richard Rohr, OFM

Adapted from The Art of Letting Go