Friday, January 25, 2013

God needs resolute people of faith.

"To share in the sufferings of God includes sharing in the sufferings of the earth.  God loves the earth too deeply to give up on it.  God does not need cynics.  God needs resolute people of faith who care so much for the earth that even when hope is dead, they will not write off the earth; instead they will hope by faith and continue to invest themselves deeply in the well-being of the earth.  God needs these resolute people of faith now." -Mark Brocker. (Cheers to a thoughtful ethics professor and pastor).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Congruence: the state of agreement or coming together.

If I hold fast to anything from both of the J-term courses that I've taken during this break, it will be a value of congruency in thought, word, and deed.

What help is have good thoughts and talking about how to make the world better when I'm not out in the world, actively doing something to change things?

A privatized ethics person thinks that because they are individually ethically moral, they do not have an obligation to stand up against injustices that they didn't cause.  5 months ago, I participated in a Cultural Competency Training and realized that no, I did not cause the oppression that is present in the society that live in but it is part of me.  I am perfectly fine with owning the human collective of pain in this world and tapping into the suffering of the other, but am I fine with owning the human collective of violence?

I am a privileged white female who was able to have a great education, be treated with respect, and be provided with many opportunities.  This is because people before  me have fought for my freedom, people have been enslaved by people who share my skin color, and people have been in poverty while I grew up with a guarantee of a hot dinner every night.

Did I ask for this privilege? No. Did I get it anyway? Yes.  Do I live every day with this privilege without appreciating it? Yes.  Do I want to be a part of war, racism, and oppression? No. Am I a part of this community that uplifts hatred and blood being shed? Yes.

Therefore, that violence and hate is part of me.  I own my piece of this puzzle and I know that I have the power to make a difference by accepting that the sins of the community I live in are my own.  In this acceptance, I take control of how I behave within this community and take a stand in saying that oppression, class warfare, racism, and war are not alright with me.  I refuse to be a bystander and I will break down the walls.  Getting through the barriers of discrimination can be as simple as a smile or a handshake.  Sometimes it will mean volunteering, protesting, and being where other people are afraid to go.  But always it will be love.

I think radically and I talk radically but what good does that do if I don't act radically?  What use is ethics if it isn't lived out?  Congruency is beyond necessary when it comes to living out the mission that you and I are called to do.  Tikkun Olam: We are called to repair the world; we are called to pick up the pieces and put them back together.  Ready? It's gonna be legen....wait for it....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On the Corner of University and Shattuck.

Last Friday night, I handed a bag of extra sandwiches from work to two people that were sitting on the street corner with their life's belongings in a few backpacks.  Another woman was talking with them about their day, and both of us began to walk away at the same time.  She uplifted my kindness in giving that couple some food, and we began to talk as we strolled down University Ave.

This woman is Ani (meaning Eldest Sister) Phurbu Lhamo (meaning sister goddess), a Buddhist nun who spent her day in Berkeley breathing in the East Bay air and enjoying the food and energy that is in abundance here.  She was wrapped up in layers of bright fabric and carrying a tiny, peaceful dog.

The more words that were exchanged between us, the energy in my soul buzzed.  This journey through life can be lonely and fraught with miscommunication and judgement, but sometimes there are moments that hit you just right.  The moments in which two souls mingle in interest for the other and in deep connection with the thoughts, passions, and needs of each other.

Ani Phurbu told me about meeting the Dalai Lama and shared the Dalai Lama's view that people should explore and dabble in many religious traditions but that it is important to stick with the tradition that you grow up in because it has been placed upon your heart and all religious rituals can be incorporated into any perspective or faithful life.

This was a breath of fresh air for me; it's often that in discussion with other Lutherans, I feel distinctly different from the typical Protestant Christian.  I feel as if I am on my toes, waiting for someone to say, "Hey! What is that girl doing here? Shouldn't she go and try adhering to a different religion?"  This has been on the forefront of my mind while I'm in the midst of a two week Christian Ethics course. Bonhoeffer wrote that for a Christian, the point of departure from where all ethical and moral principles come should be found in God's self-revelation found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This concept has been stated at least 10 times during every 5-hour class period.

Is Christ my point of departure in knowing how to be a moral and ethical person?  No.  For me, I can logically understand God coming down to Earth as a human and sacrificing God's human self for the sake of human salvation.  It is beautiful to think that God had an experience in which God was able to experience human sorrows, joys, and pains.  This is a sign of God's love for all human beings and for me, the story of Jesus Christ is not about Jesus but really points to God's love above all else.

Is God's love where my point of departure is? This is where I get a bit fuzzy.  I know myself that God loves me and that all I have is what God gave me.  I believe that every day God gives me love and my immediate reaction to receiving God's love is to pour it out into the hearts of others.  This pouring out and giving of love manifests itself in many ways.  I have hope for and care for the humanity of this Earth.  This is where I feel that my point of departure lies: the humanity that lurks within every person of this world and the life that is present in animals, trees, and rocks.  This life that flows through everything that I can imagine is where I appreciate who I am in relation to the other.  The life that is outside of me is just as important as the life inside of me; therefore I am value and lift up another person's point of view just as I would my own.

Do I need other people to sit with me and share this same perspective? No.  Do I feel confident to share this perspective in theological discussions in class? Working on it.  Did it feel absolutely amazing to meet someone whose perspective is similar to mine? A hundred times yes. Thank you Ani Phurbu.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Above Earth's Lamentation

My life flows on, in endless song,
 above Earth's lamentation/
I hear the real though far off hymn that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging/
It sounds an echo in my soul,
How can I keep from singing?

I had the great opportunity to see John McCutcheon perform this past weekend at Freight and Salvage.  He sang and played this song on auto harp with tender care and respect.  I was transported back to my Women's Choir days at Capital University, so I imagined soft voices of women behind his strong yet quiet tones.

I imagined my hands, stretched out into the dark night sky, ready to reach the song above the groans of pain in this world.  I felt my soul reaching towards the infinite; the sea of love that flows above anything that I or anyone struggles with in this world.

I remember the days of dark in the first days after my high school choir group's bus accident during my senior year.  The lyrics that calmed me were of a song we had sung earlier that year:

Have courage my soul, and let us journey on,
For the night is dark, and I am far from home.
Thanks be to God, the morning light appears.
The Storm is passing over, Hallelujah.

No storm can shake me.  Even if it does, it will pass.

What storm is brewing in my life right now?  It's not a great, big churning storm that shakes my bones or rips things apart.  It's a quiet, subtle storm of change and realizations that shifts my sense of self enough each day that it feels uncomfortable.  I have opinions and many visions of where I want to be, who I want to be, and the journey ahead.  Yet I falter and find myself unclear about how to be the change I want to see in this world.  On two unsteady feet, I forget to speak out and voice the unique perspective I have.  Goal for this semester: SPEAK. VOICE OUT.  I'm pretty good at the learning aspect of this seminary experience, but the time has come to take action and contextualize what I learn into my own voice.  I'm ready to tear out of this ego that strives for perfection before speaking and just speak. Is this terrifying? Yes. Am I ready? Ha. I will have to be. :)