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.

Video: Living While Black and Michael Brown

More at The Real News

In 1917, white mobs attacked a black neighborhood in East St. Louis. The memory remains. Michael Brown’s murder happens in a context of 40 years of a mass incarceration strategy. (Here is a good primer and bible study on Mass Incarceration and the New Jim Crow by Correctional Ministries and Chaplains Association in 2013. It’s perfect for a traditional Christian or evangelical audience.)

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a report on police brutality against African Americans and extrajudicial killings called Operation Ghetto Storm. Read this report while holding it in one hand and Lamentations 3 in the other.

I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
I said, ‘I am lost.’
I called on thy name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
thou didst hear my plea, ‘Do not close
thine ear to my cry for help!’[c]
Thou didst come near when I called on thee;
thou didst say, ‘Do not fear!’

LCWR: ‘Can’t Hold Back The Spring’

Sr. Pat Farrell

The historic meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in St. Louis, MO, is drawing to a close.

Sr. Pat Farrell gave her concluding address as she ends her time of service as LCWR’s president. As the body that represents 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the United States reckons with how to respond to a harsh rebuke by the Vatican, Sr. Pat offered this perspective. This is what religious wisdom looks like:

Taking the stage to a standing ovation, Farrell said that “some larger movement in the church … has landed on LCWR.”

A key question facing LCWR, she said, is “What would a prophetic response to the doctrinal assessment look like?”

“I think it would be humble, but not submissive,” she continued. “Rooted in a solid sense of ourselves, but not self-righteous; truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless.

“It would ask probing questions. Are we being invited to some appropriate pruning and are we open to it? Is this doctrinal process an expression of concern or an attempt to control?

“Concern is based in love and invites unity. Control through fear and intimidation would be an abuse of power.

“Does the institutional legitimacy of canonical recognition empower us to live prophetically? Does it allow us the freedom to question with informed consciences? Does it really welcome feedback in a church that claims to honor the sensus fildeum?”
Farrell also said that it would be a “mistake” to make “too much” of the mandate.

“We cannot allow it to consume us,” she said. “It is not the first time that a form of religious life has collided with the church, nor will it be the last.”

“The doctrinal assessment suggests that we are not currently living in an ideal ecclesial world,” Farrell continued.

Yet, she said, the sisters also “cannot make too little” of the Vatican’s move. It’s “historical impact,” she said, is “apparent to all of us.”

Ending her remarks with a reflection on the Gospel parable of the mustard seed, Farrell showed an image of mustard plants growing in a field, saying the seed is “uncontainable” and “crops up anywhere without permission.”

Comparing the seed to the spirit of God, she continued: “We can indeed live in joyful hope because there is no political or ecclesiastical herbicide that can wipe out the newness of God’s spirit.”

Ending with a Spanish phrase she said she learned while ministering in Chile during the military dictatorship there, Farrell said: “They can crush a few flowers, but they cannot hold back the springtime.”

As Farrell left the stage, the audience of about 900 stood slowly, clapping for some three minutes and shouting in affirmation. …

Read the whole National Catholic Reporter article.

Also, in St. Louis Beacon: With prayer and iPads, Women Religious consider response to Vatican

Also, in St. Louis Review: LCWR Sisters discuss complexity of dialogue (really nice photos here)

Happy Birthday, Dorothy Day!

DDay film

Very nice article in St. Louis Today celebrating Dorothy Day’s Nov. 8 birthday titled Dorothy Day: Giving Proof that the Gospel Can Be Lived.

Author Sharon Autenrieth works with the Church of the Nazarene’s Good Samaritan Ministries in East St. Louis. She writes, “There are now over 185 Catholic Worker houses of hospitality, including three in St. Louis, and it all started with soup and coffee in Dorothy’s kitchen.”

Here’s an excerpt from Autenreith’s article:

Dorothy Day never abandoned her anarchism or pacifism.  Her politics were a scandal to Christians who felt the church should serve as chaplain to the state and maintain the status quo.  Her religion was incomprehensible to the anarchists, Socialists and Communists with whom she’d spent her youth.  But Dorothy continued to reach out to both sides, seeing herself as a faithful daughter of the church, and yet a radical called to disturb the comfortable – even when the comfortable were in the pews, or the prelate’s office.  And so she often found herself, as she once wrote in her column “On Pilgrimage”, talking “economics to the rich and Jesus to the anarchists.”  It wasn’t an easy path.

Read Sharon Autenrieth’s whole article here.

May 26: Prop 8 and Dred Scott

dred-scottDo you think the California Supreme Court was aware that it was handing down the Prop 8 decision on marriage equality on the anniversary of Dred and Harriet Scott’s manumission?

I hope the odd coincidence of history is predictive and, despite California’s court decision, the U.S. will soon be celebrating the “manumission” to marry for whosoever will.

On March 6, 1857, after an 11-year court battle, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott, an African-American slave, had “no rights that a white man need respect.”

On May 26, 1857, Taylor Blow, a son of Scott’s original owner, purchased Scott and his family in order to set them free.

Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia about 1790. He was sold to a doctor who later moved to Illinois and eventually to Missouri with all his property. In 1846, Dred Scott filed a suit in Missouri seeking freedom for himself, his wife, and two daughters. He based his case on the fact that slavery was prohibited in Illinois, and because he had lived there, he had been freed.

Scott’s pursuit of their freedom when on for seven years in various courts, with one higher court after another reversing previous decisions. Throughout the ordeal, the children of Dred Scott’s original owners gave him financial support. Finally, after the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that “once free, always free,” Scott’s case went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal Supreme Court ruled that Scott had no right to sue because blacks were not U.S. citizens. Scott and his family were returned to their owner.

Fifteen months after Scott had been freed by the Blow family, who were Catholic, he died of tuberculosis. When Dred Scott died on September 17, 1858, the Blow family arranged to have him buried in the Catholic Calvary Cemetery of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.