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.

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

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

Vatican Embassy Opens Doors to Vigilers Praying for LCWR

Here’s a quick roundup by Sr. Maureen Fiedler about the prayer vigil I attended on May 30 at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., in support of Catholic women religious and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Apparently, I left too early, because Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano not only invited a few representatives inside to talk, but then came outside and spoke with the whole group!

Here’s an excerpt from Maureen’s blog at the National Catholic Reporter:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio to the United States, meets with people holding a rally in solidarity with U.S. women religious outside the apostolic nunciature in Washington, DC, May 30.

Who would believe it? When a group of protestors supporting the Leadership Conference of Women Religious showed up at the Vatican Embassy on Tuesday, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, welcomed some of the group into the embassy. Two people were actually invited to sit down and chat with him. He received their petition asking that the mandate against LCWR be withdrawn … without any expectation that would actually happen, of course.

In the course of the conversation, he made it known he had been at the beginning of the LCWR board meeting. Later, he invited about 20 people into the embassy to see the chapel and offer prayers.

I don’t have much hope that his welcome represents any new approach from the Vatican to LCWR (or anyone), but it is refreshing in Washington to see any protestors welcomed by any authority for a chat, at least.

Vigano was removed from a Vatican post after cleaning up the Vatican Bank, a process in which he surely made enemies. The recently leaked documents include a letter of his to the pope, asking not to be moved outside the Vatican because of the message it would send. He may have some sympathy for LCWR, given his own experience.

Click here to see great photos and an account of Tuesday’s Vatican Embassy action.

As a fun little feature, see the photo below:

Seven Year Later, D.C. Still Asks: Who Killed Donte Manning?

A shout out to John Muller who published a piece in today’s Washington Informer about Donte Manning’s murder. His killing 7 years ago was the provocation to and lens through which I wrote my book “Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood.” Thanks to John for keeping Donte’s memory alive. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

“More than seven years has passed since the shooting and subsequent death of 9-year-old Donte Manning but the Metropolitan Police Department is still seeking information that will lead to an arrest in the case.

Although Donte’s memory may have faded from the public consciousness, it still looms large to police and local writer Rose Marie Berger, 48, who authored the book, “Who Killed Donte Manning?” two years ago.

“Donte still haunts me,” said Berger of Columbia Heights in Northwest Washington. “Not as a ghost, but as an angel of conscience. His young life and his murder pricks our conscience as a city just like the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida has turned a mirror to the violence at the soul of our nation.”

“The fact that his killer remains free means two things: the first is that there is a young man out there who lives with the murder of a child on his conscience, and he has not made amends to Donte’s family or to society for his actions. The second is that violence is so endemic that police are not able or not willing in some cases to pursue justice,” Berger said.”–John Muller, Donte Manning’s Death Remains a Mystery

Buy a copy of Who Killed Donte Manning? by Rose Marie Berger

The People’s Prayer Breakfast: ‘Enough for Everyone’


I got up early this morning to join the People’s Prayer Breakfast held at The Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. In order to get there I had to thread my way through police barricades and closed streets around the Washington Hilton Hotel. Thousands of people of faith-based leaders were gathered at the Hilton for the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where President Obama gave the keynote address. The cost is several hundred dollars per plate.

The People’s Prayer Breakfast charged nothing. With signs pointing us to the church basement I walked in to a room twinkling with tiny white Christmas lights. The round tables were hugged tight by chairs–the room was fully occupied. Coffee and tea flowed freely. The Hari Krishna’s provided fruit salad. Someone had boiled mountains of eggs. An abundant table was set for whosoever would come and the banner stretched over head read “Enough for Everyone.”

We were led in prayer and silence by a nun from the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Poolsville, Maryland. And Sweet-Honey-In-The-Rock-great Dr. Ysaye Barnwell sang an earth-groaning rendition of “Kumbaya, My Lord” to a generation who were experiencing for the first time the power of Black church music as a political and social force to be reckoned with.

The People’s Prayer Breakfast was not a protest against the National Prayer Breakfast, as some have framed it. Indeed, there were some leaders who were attending both. Instead, the People’s Prayer Breakfast extended the circle, opened the table, fired up the prayer, and grounded good spirituality in the lives and experiences of the humble, the poor, the young and the old, the disenfranchised and the powerless.

“To abstain from prayer is to refuse to let oneself be loved,” Brian Merritt reminded us, quoting Gabriel Marcel. I don’t know how folks at the Hilton felt afterward, but OccupyFaithDC, OccupyChurch, OccupyJudaism, OccupyJummah invited the people to breakfast and all went away marveling at the love they felt in the breaking of the bread.–Rose Marie Berger

Rose Marie Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet. She blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com.

Catch the Vision: Tar Sands Protest Art

Day 1: Sixty-five arrested. Locals were released by 8 p.m. Out-of-towners held in D.C. jail until Monday morning arraignment. The D.C. police seem to want to make an example of the first group in order to discourage the next 13 days of sustained protest.

What we know is that the small but real sacrifice of these few to be held over the weekend will be joined by hundreds of others. In determined peaceableness, we will flood the streets. We will raise the banners. We will fill the jails. Because we can not do otherwise. The cost of inaction is simply too high.

Some highlights from Saturday: Jim Antal, former head of Fellowship of Reconciliation and now president of the Massachussetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was arrested. Kristy Powell, originator of the One Dress Protest, was arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, leader of the protest against the former military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was arrested. Fr. Jim Noonan, Maryknoll Catholic priest, who spent years in Cambodia under Pol Pot serving AIDS patients was arrested.