This Summer. Word & World. Detroit.

July 15-19 2015 Detroit, MI.

Word and World believes that it is time to bring our energy and join the movement work happening in Detroit, a city that has been “ground zero” not only of economic crisis, but also of hope and resistance.

This “Land and Water” movement school will focus on cultural organizing bringing together theologies of justice, indigenous resistance, and hip hop spirituality.

Get your application here. If you can’t come, send financial support here.

Prayers in the Circle of Community

This has been a week of illness and loss among our community of elders:

Fr. Bill McNichols, the iconographer of Taos, had a massive heart attack on Friday, April 27. He’s on total life support in Albuquerque. Bill is the artist behind the beautiful icons that many of us have. (This news came from John Dear through Shelley and Jim Douglass.)

Walter Wink (right, with June) broadly considered one of the most important social and political theologians of the 20th century, is in hospice care and is likely to pass within the next few days. Walter’s series of books on the “powers” — Naming the Powers, Unmasking the Powers, and Engaging the Powers — unpacks the spiritual significance of political and societal institutions (the biblical “principalities and powers”) and their role in systemic injustice. (Read Sojourners 2010 interview.) (This news came from June Keener Wink through Bill Wylie Kellermann.)

Fr. Bill Shannon, founder of the International Thomas Merton Society, died on Sunday.  Bill was an adamant reformer in the tradition of Vatican II and a professor of theology to several generations of radical Catholics. You can read Bill’s obituary here. “It’s not only fair, but right, to describe him as a prophet,” said Christine Bochen, professor of religious studies at Nazareth College. “A prophet sees clearly what Scripture is calling us to. He took very, very much to heart to see beyond the concerns of institutionalism and formalism, to get at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian—and that is to embrace the Gospel and live the Gospel.” (This news came from Michael Boucher of Word and World.)

This week the Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Community in West Virginia is grieving the loss of two of its early visionaries, founders, and members: Ellen Peachey and Verle Headings.

Verle Headings (left, with Jannelle Hill and Dr. Carolyn Broome), died early Friday morning, April 27 in his home at Rolling Ridge after a three month struggle with illness. His wife Vivian was with him. Verle said more than once that he planned to “die on this mountain,” and so he has. Verle taught genetics at Howard University for many years and was a leader in the Mennonite community and friend to many at Sojourners. (This news came from Bob Sabbath and the Rolling Ridge Community.)

Ellen Shenk Peachey died on Thursday, April 26, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Ellen is the great-aunt of Sojourners’ Larisa Friesen Hall and a friend of many at Sojourners. Ellen spent years living in Europe and Japan doing post-war relief work of reconstruction and peace building through the auspices of the Mennonite Central Committee. She lived in Washington, D.C. for 25 years as a member of Hyattsville Mennonite Church and, with her husband Paul, were the first permanent residents of the Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Center in West Virginia where they lived for 14 years. Of their years at Rolling Ridge, Ellen said, “Our 15 years of living here at Pinestone have been rewarding. Guidelines that emerged in our monthly meetings during the early decade—simplicity, use of on-site materials, low profile, solar heating, adaptability—took shape in this modest cottage.” (This news came from Larisa Friesen Hall, Bob Sabath, and the Rolling Ridge Community.)

“Pray for the dead. Fight like hell for the living.” –Mary Harris Jones

Julia Jack-Scott: Spiritual Practices for Keeping Greed in Check

Artist Julia Jack-Scott

Julia Jack-Scott has launched Searching for a Sacred Economy exploring the work of Charles Eisenstein on “sacred economics.” Julia is a tremendous writer and gifted thinker and artist. Here’s an excerpt from one of her posts:

I have a minister friend who told me about a sermon he preached about our relationship with money. He told everyone in his congregation to take out a dollar bill from their wallets and rip the bills up then and there. He asked them to do it again, this time with a larger bill if they could stand to, and to pay attention to what emotions and attachments they were encountering. I am guessing probably a bit of reluctance, some panicked thoughts about what it could have been spent on, or perhaps even inability to cooperate. I am not sure I could bring myself to tear up a twenty dollar bill. Or fifty. Or one hundred. Probably few of us could. But given a similar size piece of scrap paper, it would be no problem. You begin to see through this exercise how much power we assign to money. It is not hard to make the mental leap to an image of Golum in his cave stroking “his precious,” the ring. Golum is hopefully an exaggerated character of the sense of constriction, scarcity and greed we can sometimes feel around money, but we need collective practices to stop us from becoming so imbalanced in what we truly value.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that many world religions have teachings and practices around money, to keep greed in check. In Islamic tradition, the Quran condemns riba, or interest: “O, you who believe! Devour not riba, doubled and redoubled, and be careful of Allah; but fear Allah that you may be successful.” This is followed by Muslims to this day and serves as a check against greed and wealth amassing. In Buddhism, the practice of dana or voluntary giving, was one of the Buddha’s essential teachings, the very foundation of spiritual growth and self-transcendence. When I lived in Thailand, I loved seeing the early-morning ritual of dana unfolding, people giving a bit of food, a donation of money, or other gifts (like soap), to monks who would walk through the villages with their begging bowls. Setting aside something to give was built into the everyday consciousness of the Thai people, and also a daily joy of connection with the monks. [Read more.]

Tim Nafzinger: Financial Institutions and Babylon

At OLSX, St. Paul's. Photo credit: Duncan C., http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncan/6281021255/

As part of the Word and World mentoring circle that I belong to we have been reading Protestant theologian William Stringfellow and talking about the Occupy Movement.

Here’s a concise insight from Tim Nafzinger:

>>It’s very interesting, in light of our recent discussion on William Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land to read George Monbiot’s column in The Guardian naming the Corporation of the City of London (the official name of the square mile in London that houses many of the world’s most powerful banks and financial institutions) as “Babylon” in yesterday’s Guardian. Note this is a completely different legal entity from the London where 3 million people live. Monbiot writes:

It’s the dark heart of Britain, the place where democracy goes to die, immensely powerful, equally unaccountable. But I doubt that one in 10 British people has any idea of what the Corporation of the City of London is and how it works. This could be about to change. Alongside the Church of England, the Corporation is seeking to evict the protesters camped outside St Paul’s cathedral. The protesters, in turn, have demanded that it submit to national oversight and control. …

[The City] has also made the effective regulation of global finance almost impossible. Shaxson shows how the absence of proper regulation in London allowed American banks to evade the rules set by their own government. AIG’s wild trading might have taken place in the US, but the unit responsible was regulated in the City. Lehman Brothers couldn’t get legal approval for its off-balance sheet transactions in Wall Street, so it used a London law firm instead. No wonder priests are resigning over the plans to evict the campers. The Church of England is not just working with Mammon; it’s colluding with Babylon.

Fittingly enough, from a Stringfellow perspective, this private banking world is often just referred to as “The City.”

Monbiot’s naming and shaming (along with the resignation of three Church of England clergy members) seems to have had its effect. This morning the Church of England stopped its attempts to evict Occupy London. Now it’s just Babylon against them…<<

Thanks Tim.