Professor White uses black soap
made from hairy brown coconuts.
Strange fruit of the brown earth to be used in this way, you say?
Stranger still to use it in the whitest of all possible bathrooms in a hotel that's both Best and Western.
Flecks of the blackest soap made brown by the moist rubbing of white hands stain the gleaming tub the pristine walls the whitest bleached curtain drawn to block the escape of any brown traces.
After he is purified,
having flicked his flecks,
should he wash away everywhere the brown traces of the black soap?
Is that his job?
Brown hands will tidy up
bleach everything white again.
Renewing Earth: From Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism
The task of renewing Earth belongs to Earth, as the renewal of any organism [even the church] takes place from within. Yet we humans have our own special role, a leading role in the renewal, just as we had the dominant role in the devastation. We can fulfill this role, however, only if we move our basic life orientation from a dominant anthropocentrism to a dominant ecocentrism. In effecting this change, we need to listen to the voices of Earth and its multitude of living and non-living modes of expression.
We should be listening to the stars in the heavens and the sun and the moon, to the mountains and the plains, to the forests and rivers and seas that surround us, to the meadows and the flowering grasses, to the songbirds and the insects and to their music especially in the evening and the early hours of the night. We need to experience, to feel, and to see these myriad creatures all caught up in the celebration of life.
Extinction Is Forever
We especially need to hear the creatures of Earth before it is too late, before their voices are stilled forever through extinction occurring at such a rapid rate. Once gone they will never be heard again. Extinction is forever. The divine experience they communicate will never again be available to humans. A dimension of the human soul will never be activated as it might have been. None of the wonders of the human can replace what we are losing. . . . We have lost sight of the fact that these myriad creatures are revelations of the divine and inspirations to our spiritual life.
Wonder, Beauty, Intimacy
Our inner spiritual world cannot be activated without experience of the outer world of wonder for the mind, beauty for the imagination, and intimacy for the emotions.
Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (Orbis Books: 2014), 77-78.
There is always a struggle for control of shared identity. This is normal and entirely appropriate. A part of a whole body which feels insifficiently represented certainly has a right, and may have an obligation to demonstrate the change they require, resist practices and structures they believe to be ill-advised, and protest in a way that refrains from harming fellow-creatures.
Most change movements either do or do not receive suport from a group perceived to be "mainstream", after which significant culture-shift does or does not actually occur. As one of the markers of mainstream shift has frequently been the support of more "conservative" people who are both religious and comitted to democracy and the freedom of religion, I would like to ask that you propose to your congregation a move toward solidarity with those who explicitly and publicly object to racism in the cultural insitutions of the United States. Furthermore, I ask that you spcifically tie your faith to the demand to end racism, especially if you are Christian, as is required by the deeply understood and unwavering compassion that is the undisputed central tenant of our faith.
Finally, as our Republic shines only insofar as it remains the land of the free, I ask that you place your hand over your heart and join me in upholding patriotism itself as an unwavering commitment, not to a party or leader, but to a Dream in which every person is lifted up by the restorative justice and determined compassion of their fellows so that no parent need fear for their child, officers of the peace may once again be celebrated for their daily heroism, immigrants may once again feel our shores to be sanctuary, and all those in leadership maybe judged solely on their selfless commitment to public service above their personal interests.
Thank you for planting the seed for having the church participate in taking a knee during the national anthem. M.O. and I have discussed this and have some thoughts to share. Neither of us like the idea of doing this inside the church. Both of us are uncomfortable, er, anti having anything to do with flags/nationalism/patriotism inside the sanctuary. For both of us that's a big no-no. We do think it is important for religious people to take a stand by taking a knee. Proposal: let's have an interfaith game. Soccer, flag football, softball, whatever. We open with the national anthem sung by a combined choir where everyone takes the knee. We get to play, sing, and take a stand/knee together in an appropriate context. Let me know what you think.
Totally legit response. These concerns are a big reason I asked for prayerful consideration. What you are proposing sounds awesome, and I'm all for it, and would take a while to organize, and mostly loses the power of the statement being made by significantly pink mainstream Christians. We might miss the moment when the larger culture-shift could use some religious people buy-in to expand the #takeaknee symbol from Sports to the nation. What if our video statement were shot on the stairs in front of the church, people coming out after worship and creating a choir all taking a knee and placing a hand over their hearts, or linking arms (if they prefer) to reclaim principled patriotism all the while obviously keeping it out of the sanctuary and on the street?
As often is the case for me, your eloquent way of expressing ideas requires my own "translation" before I can digest what you said. The way you spoke before church was much simpler, concrete and easy for me to follow. That said, I'd like to echo what someone else said on FB re keeping patriotism and flags out of sanctuary. I support doing an action on the steps. And, I don't like putting my hand on my heart when nationalism/patriotism is the issue. So that image is difficult for me. Just thoughts for the discussion.
With all this talk of #TakeTheKnee, I could not help and think about being in grade school.
I grew up in a rather conservative area for California, in eastern Kern County. I remember in school that the Jehovah's Witness classmates would not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Some of them would get crap for it but I admired them for being committed to their faith *and* practicing their Constitutional right to remain seated. In this country, they have the right to practice their conviction.
This protest within the NFL, and now in other professional sports leagues, is not about the flag. It never has been about the flag. It is about police brutality and racial inequality in this country. Some are offended because of the sacrifice the troops make, and you're right -- this is about the fact that our men and women in the service go out to protect the freedoms we claim to have while in reality they are compromised and undermined by the system to put POC in a disadvantage. These athletes, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, have the right to practice their conviction, remain seated, and bring awareness to the ugly reality.
And you know what? The Early Christians would be rolling in their graves to see Christians today exploding over this. Followers of the Way have no business in Nationalism through swearing allegiance to the empire or by displaying the flag in our houses of worship. And as we sung this morning at St. John's Cathedral, "In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north; but one great fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide world." Rant over.
- The anthem itself. Celebrating war, drenched in racism... I don't feel that I can in good conscious sing The Song of Peace (This is my song, O God of all the nations) in church, and then walk outside and sing the national anthem.
- I don't think the National Anthem should be played before games anyway. It's mostly empty, habitualized patriotism. So in regards to my previous email, and with more consideration, I'm a much bigger fan of taking a silent knee.
- Is a photo of people taking a knee just as powerful as a video with a song?
- I don't know what "pink mainstream Christians" means? Churches have been leaders in the NFL boycott already (see 'Blackout') link below.
- Kap first took a knee over a year ago. I'm slightly confused by what feels like sudden urgency. I'm also happy that people care and want to support/participate in taking a knee and fighting oppression.
- Messaging: clarity is needed on what the action/s are and why. What does it mean, and what are you/we trying to say or achieve?
- I strongly encourage you, if you haven't already, to visit Kap's website. The knee and off-field actions go hand and hand. Taking a knee and doing nothing else is an empty gesture.
- Another idea: use this moment as an opportunity to join together to take a silent knee as a kick-off to a call for some kind of action/s inspired by the blackout or Kap's mission statement.
Tracking the Kaepernick Effect:
- Boycott the NFL (no games, no fantasy football, no jerseys, no nothing).
- Commit one to two hours during the NFL season that you would have spent watching games to mentoring young black boys and girls.
- Spread the word to others.
- “Take a knee” in prayer at 6 a.m. each day.
Stated mission: "The mission of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation is to fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism."
Huston is now a star. This Berkeley City Ballet ad is truly compelling, and did you know that they are inviting boys to take their very high quality classes for free?
It is time for some everyday heroism! Perhaps you are a decision-maker who wants Oakland to be a place where small businesses can actually survive, and knows of a place they can and should move to have a shot at thriving again. Do you speak Korean and English and find yourself able to help with getting the facts straight in order to tell their story to English-only speakers? Are you a journalist , or do you know a journalist who would want to fit this story in the super-important larger narrative? Are you involved in property, law, or both, and able to help them pro bono to explore their options thoroughly? Do you know anybody who might fit the descriptions above or have some other gift to offer these good folks in crisis?
Thanks for acting now! Please do any/all of the following:
- Add your name to the many at https://www.gofundme.com/henrysgallerycafe (with or without a donation) to let Jung know he is not isolated, then share with your networks asking that they act now.
- Like/share/RT/etc https://twitter.com/bdwc/status/888109817625157632 and https://www.facebook.com/lynettemcelhaney/posts/1364593910321149
- Go eat there, take friends, and tell them about the support they are getting but can't see/feel.
- Keep asking in public the questions (above) that will help them find the help they need.
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor Jr. appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @otisrtaylorjr
Emailed via http://www.sfchronicle.com/author/otis-taylor/
I truly appreciate your decision to report on Luan's bookstore. The story is most helpful in that it provides evidence that Oakland decision-makers' support for "revitalization" is lackluster at best. In reading it, I wished that you had noted that their efforts are devoted mostly to big-dollar interests (like the new monster high-rise going up at 17th and Broadway), rather than increasing the traffic and financial infrastructure support that small businesses actually require to flourish. May I ask that you do a follow-up in that direction, and report about the perfect storm of crises that are about to kill another pillar of the community in Oakland? https://www.gofundme.com/henrysgallerycafe
Ripe: Ensemble With Juice
I am newly planted and just peeking through my own leaves. Though I have been following Ragged Wing Ensemble for years, I've always kept a distance, cultivating my own concerns. Now I am on the inside. As the new Communications Director, I am amazed at what I find, inundated with the juciest creative fruit possible, and not just the fruit but the secret making of that bounty, a creative community process that is ready to be shared with multitudes but is, for the time being, savored by only a local few. I go to sleep and wake up with the taste of it on my lips, knowing that a secret like this cannot keep, nor should it.
There are times when a group of people is ripe. When circumstances consipre to yield a bumper crop, a tipping point when conditions are perfect for growth, anticipating a harvest of creativity that is culture-changing, leaning like a fruitful branch bends toward a deeper grounding and more humane understanding of what living can be. Ragged Wing Ensemble in Downtown Oakland is beautifully ripe, and needs your hand to reach out and pluck and share the available bounty. It needs patrons in seats and small donations, but it is profoundly ready, in a way that even most insiders cannot know yet, for the deepest and most sutainable kind of support--big giving from the heart--the expressions of hope and appreciation that make institutional growth possible.
It almost doesn't matter how you reach out. Just bump the branch with a casual donation in the final days of the current campaign, or seed the fertile soil with a significant amount or money and time. Share with your friends and the world the power and generosity of passionate creativity in a world growing more mean and grasping. Whatever you decide: act now. Don't wait. The birds and bugs of Bills will be buzzing and binging. Don't assume that somebody else will put up what is so sweet. It cannot be preserved because it is Alive and must be shared now. The company is preparing the Fall season...seeds need water that only you can provide...to harvest even more original work that brings out the best by working creatively through the thorniest of issues. That is what our era seems to be starving for, and it is in your hands to support runaway creative integrity today and through the upcoming season.
It is my great pleasure to announce that i am now the Communications Director for an essential theater company, Ragged Wing Ensemble, which has established a flourishing creative community in Downtown Oakland, called The Flight Deck, that is home to several other theater companies and organizations. The Flight Deck is also home to Association Building Community, for instance, which continues to offer my Peace Practices curriculum in the heart of Oakland and in schools and professional environments around the SF Bay Area.
I call this creative community "essential" because their continued existence and work is a success story that can inspire anyone. They ignore the odds against them, and rely on creativity and solidarity to make the everyday world a more humane and generous place to live together. Any theater, all theater has unique potential to work this way in the world, but these people continually bring the potential of theater to life, and I'm in love with them, so please allow me to gush for a moment.
Someday, the powerful and rising alike will agree that the Ragged Wing - Flight Deck community has moved from hopeful experiment to institution, a jewel in Oakland's crown, like Chicago's Goodman, Houston's Alley, or the Dallas Theater Center. That transition to sustainability could happen something like this: more and more people from around the Bay Area open their hearts, wallets, and networks to Executive Diretor, Anna Shneiderman, and Artistic Director, Amy Sass, to ensure that the throngs who already launch their creative work at the Flight Deck will continue to do so. So many more people of every age, level of capability, and from every possible background and orientation will benefit from working with or near this innovative company. For many, they will find here the very first opportunity to unfurl their ragged wings, initiating creative and sympathetic explorations of human dilemmas and being. The companies at the Flight Deck do the impossible but essential work of waking us all to the world and skins we live in; and they do on a tiny and always tenuous budget. You know the story, and how it usually ends.
The next chapter in this story must be Lift Off. We are due for a cultural renaissance, a developmental transformation, a next step into flight, rising up from the deck of organizational birth, wings shaken dry in the sun so that everyone around can point to and participate in beauty nearby, local and mature artistry, name and proudly claim admirable friends, and invest time and treasure in building a city and people ready to be known for rising up and taking wing.
Ragged Wing Ensemble is proud to welcome to The Flight Deck a new Communications Director, Brandon Williamscraig. In 2015, he brought his Peace Practices project and non-pofit, Association Building Community, to live at The Flight Deck, and has stepped into the rather difficult to fill shoes of Lisa Drostova, who will continue to be a beloved part of our creative community. Brandon brings a twenty year career in the professional regional theater, a Ph.D. in psychology and mythology, many years of leadership, communications, and development work in the nonprofit sector, as well as an internationally recognized, all-ages communication curriculum, called Peace Practices, that teaches children and adults Conflict Done Well through aikido, improvisation, and facilitation. Please welcome and help him spread the good word about our work together!
A thought experiment and creative fiction/ritual of resistance to "That's Just The Way Things Are"
What if a well-known design team, known professionally as The Creator"™, contacted you and asked you to join them for an interview? What if, surprising you with an offer of full partnership, they recommended that you study some of their work and influences while making your decision, at least a collection of ancient stories and current tropes, significant images and songs, earlier relationships and projects that changed their way of working together?
As you look into it, you discover that they have been asking a huge number of other people across the globe to work together for years following a hidden agenda to morph daily life as we know it to fit their social change agenda. Faced by you with this information, they present results from hundreds of years of study: neither giving in to nor fighting popular obsessions seems to work, simply causing compulsions to become more entrenched. Few people seem to take the team up on their offer, because the only way to keep up with them is to identify as Creative and collaborate to make truly and deeply beautiful changes, both individually and collectively, so that that way of doing things becomes a new habit.
If you decide to go the distance, how will you stay relevant alongside your new colleagues as the design team continually innovates? What would your daily creative rituals look like, if all of this were true?