Here’s the 8-minute video that Starbucks’ employees watched this week. Watch it. Talk to the Starbucks staff about it the next time you head to the Big Green.
From Starbucks: This short film by Stanley Nelson explores the impact of bias within public accommodations as well as the possibilities for a better future. On May 29, we closed 8,000 Starbucks stores in the United States for four hours—so 175,000 Starbucks partners could come together for a conversation and learning session on racial bias. This was a foundational step in renewing Starbucks as a place where ALL people feel welcome. Starbucks partners shared life experiences, heard from others, listened to experts on bias and racial anxiety, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us can work together to create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong.
Seven Catholic leaders trespassed onto the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia on Wednesday. This is the first major direct anti-nuclear action taken by U.S. Catholics since Pope Francis announced in November that Catholics should condemn not only the use of a nuclear weapon but their possession.
“The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned,” the pope told participants at a conference on nuclear disarmament hosted by the Vatican in collaboration with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by the United Nations in July 2017.
The seven members of the Kings Bay Plowshares, a nonviolent movement committed to “beating swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4), included Elizabeth McAlister, a revered leader in the American Catholic peace movement; Fr. Stephen Kelley, a Jesuit priest; Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who was founder of the Catholic Worker movement and currently considered for sainthood; with Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta, and Mark Colville.
In a video statement made before crossing on to the naval base, Hennessy said: “We plead to our Church to withdraw its complicity in violence and war. We cannot simultaneously pray and hope for peace while we bless weapons and condone war making. Pope Francis says abolition of weapons of mass destruction is the only way to save God’s creation from destruction.
Clarifying the teachings of our Church, Pope Francis said, “The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned … weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”
Currently, all seven are held in Camden County jail in Woodbine, Georgia. They have been denied bond. At a support vigil held on Saturday, 7 April, at 10a (EST), the supporters read sections from the book of Acts until the sheriff’s department moved the vigilers away from the entrance gate to the base.
Fifty years ago, Martin King was assassinated. As theologian Jim Douglass shows, the face-covering of the Unspeakable was lifted and we saw the true enemy of the great democratic experiment. Nina Simone sings into the moment as she wrestles with “Always living with the threat of death ahead / Folks you’d better stop and think / Everybody knows we’re on the brink / What will happen, now that the King of love is dead?”
For Christians and Americans, this is our Good Friday moment. And with every killing of Michael Brown, Sarah Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Stephon Clark … with every killing of Sandy Hook children Charlotte Bacon (age 6), Daniel Barden (age 7) and 24 others … with every killing of Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, Edward Sotomayor Jr., and 48 others at the Pulse nightclub … with every high school leader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland … with all known and unknown … we reveal that we are still standing – uncertain – at the foot of the cross staring at our Crucified Christ. Which side are you on? Which side am I on? –Rose Marie Berger
“A life spent entirely in public, in the presence of others, becomes shallow.”–Hannah Arendt
Roger Berkowitz (Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College) and Uday Mehta (professor of political science at CUNY) discuss “private” and “public” life in the context of Hannah Arendt’s writing and Mohandas Gandhi’s writing. They discuss the “virtue of reticence” and the importance of public-private boundaries in order to allow for public judgement and standards as well as for the development of individual or communal “spiritual depth.”
Length: 1 hour (first 25 minutes are Berkowitz’s and Mehta’s presentation)
When the right to security becomes a transcendent right, rather than one right among many that need to be balanced, then other rights become subservient to it. But for Christians, security is never a transcendent value. Our “security” comes from God.
Uday Mehta: For Gandhi, privacy mattered to him but not as a “right” provided to you by the state or anyone else. Gandhi does not think his bedroom life is “private” but there are somethings that are so important that they are only between the individual and God and this is private. But the state cannot infringe on this.
Arendt’s things that should be private:
1. Goodness can’t exist in the public sphere. If people know about your goodness then it dies. Friendship can be public, but love should always be private.
2. Birth and Death cannot exist in the public sphere. When you become of age as a public citizen, then the public should not ask about who you were beforehand.
3. Opinion/personal conversations should be kept private.
Uday Mehta: Gandhi’s perspective was that one should say nothing in private that one would not say in public. Because of this he never develops some of the pernicious aspects of “vanguardism.” Gandhi’s commitment to openness did not lead him to violate confidences.
Arendt: If privacy matters, then the only reliable safeguard for privacy is the right to private property, which might not be defensible on economic grounds, but is on privacy grounds.
If you try to balance privacy and security, privacy will always loses, because people will always choose security, convenience, and transparency. People don’t think that invasion of privacy takes away their dignity or autonomy and so they freely give privacy up.
Gandhi wanted to have a conversation between the Indian civilization and Western civilization (and he thought that Indian civilization was superior), but he did not want it to be a nationalist political struggle for sovereign rights.
“The beloved of the love of God came through the fountain of life to nourish us back to life and to help us in our dangerous state. The Word is the deepest and sweetest love preparing us for repentance.”–St. Hildegard of Bingen (Vision 2:4)
(A 3-minute video on visiting the Hildegard sites in Bingen, Germany.)
For those of you not glued to Facebook, I wanted to post this short satirical video related to the mass murder at the high school in Parkland, Florida. To me, this video carries some of the incisive political commentary of an ancient psalm. Not the praise psalms, but the laments (see Psalm 137), which carry a corrosive bitterness and yet liberatory power.
Fr. James Alison spoke in September at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. How do we begin to understand the ways religion is used to marginalize the LGBTQ+ community? What are thoughtful ways to move out of the binds around faith and a desire to be affirming? James considers the framework around scripture pertaining to gender and sexuality.
Alison is one of my heroes for the gentle and tenacious way he opens scripture, especially using the interpretive lens of Rene Girard’s mimetic theory and scapegoating. Here he examines Genesis 9:20-29, 2 Samuel 10:1-5, Genesis 19 and Judges 19-21 (Sodomites and Benjaminites), Leviticus 18:22, Acts 10:1-11:18, Romans 1-3, Mark 5:1-20.
His talk is one hour, followed by 25 minutes of Q & A.
“The reasons for moving made sense – closeness to family and new work, but my heart had not consented.”
(5 minute video)
I’m so grateful for the moments I’ve spent with Maria Teresa Gaston and her son, Martin (former Sojourners intern). And so proud that Maria Teresa participated in the Catholic Women Preach video series.–Rose
FIRST READING: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12
PSALM: Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
SECOND READING: Rom 8:28-30
GOSPEL: Mt 13:44-52
Maria Teresa is an organizational psychologist and ICA certified ToP facilitator specializing in facilitation of collaborative discernment and decision-making. She received a BA in theology from Marquette University, an MA in Hispanic/Latinx theology and ministry through Barry University, and an MA/PhD in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Maria Teresa served for many years in social ministry in Immokalee, Florida and at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She and her spouse, John Witchger, have three sons Felipe, Martin, and Luke and two grandchildren, Micaela and Theo. Maria Teresa lives in Durham, North Carolina where she directs Foundations of Christian Leadership, a formation program for Christian social innovators through Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School.