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2019-01-25

From the Minister, Fri Jan 25

This week I'm reflecting on Peggy Clarke and Matthew McHale’s essay, "Becoming Resilient: Community Life for a New Age” – Chapter 6 of the 2018-19 UUA Common Read, Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class and the Environment.
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The prophetic task, the authors note, is not merely to decry injustice. It’s more broadly about nurturing, nourishing, and evoking, an alternative community. The essay then develops in two parts:

1. Resilience-based organizing. Here we learn about Movement Generation, which offers trainings, resources, and support to social movements led by communities of color or low income. Movement Generation’s organizing approach is rooted in community “in a way that reorients power to be more local and democratic.”

The approach is inspired by such examples as the Black Panthers and MST (Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement -- Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra). The Black Panthers’ less famous programs provided services such as free breakfast for school children, free medical clinics and drug rehab, clothing distribution, and classes on politics and economics. In Brazil, MST peacefully occupies unused land, securing it for the dispossessed. MST sets up cooperative farms, constructs houses, schools, and clinics while working for environmental sustainability and promoting Indigenous culture and gender equality.

2. Congregations as centers for community resilience. “Houses of worship will need to become centers of hope and resilience.” Doing this will entail congregational engagement with the communities around us -- offering meeting places and shelter, learning centers for reskilling, among other things. “We can start by identifying local ‘front-line communities’ – low-income communities and communities of color who bear the brunt of the devastation of the modern industrial system and who are leaders in the struggle to shift toward a more just and sustainable future.” Once such a prospective community is identified, the congregation’s task is solidarity, listening, relationship-building, humility, and a willingness to take on a support role when asked – NOT to expect to swoop in as the savior or the experts.

The authors conclude: “Without authentic partnership and without clearly understanding the systemic transformation required, our response to the current climate crisis will be insufficient. . . . Building resilient communities is the transformative response these times demand.”

Questions
What communities around CUUC are most directly affected by issues in which environment and race come together? How might CUUC develop a relationship of solidarity with those communities?

One response to the essay might be: “I’m convinced that we need to commit ourselves to supporting and nurturing communities of resilience. But I don’t see any need for congregations. Congregations should simply fold – transferring their land, buildings, and members’ energy to organizations like Movement Generation.” How would you respond to this suggestion? The members of a support network for resilient community would share a kind of “secular faith” – is that faith enough?

For my reflection/summary on previous chapters, click the title:
  1. Jennifer Nordstrom, "Intersectionality, Faith, and Environmental Justice"
  2. Paula Cole Jones, "The Formation of the Environmental Justice Movement"
  3. Sheri Prud'homme, "Ecotheology"
  4. Sofia Betancourt, "Ethical Implications of Environmental Justice"
  5. Adam Robersmith, "Cherishing Our World: Avoiding Despair in Environmental Justice Work"
Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit New:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Across the Wide Universe We can use this newfound understanding about the immensity of it all and the unity of its common origin to recapture some of the wonder that tends to get lost in our technological age. We can reconnect with the wide-eyed awe that is our birthright as conscious beings. We aren't the center of the universe in the way that we thought before, but we are a part of something so much bigger than we are, something far beyond our petty differences and divisions. READ MORE.

Your Moment of Zen: Unhappy The waning gibbous moon, partially behind a cloud, the evening cool grass, blossoms on a tree along the walk, the glass of water sitting on the table -- are answers to all you could ask.

Case
Raven met Grouse moping around one day and asked, "How's it going, Grouse?"
Grouse said, "I'm so unhappy."
Raven said, "What do you think might make you happy?"
Grouse said, "I don't know. I don't ask for much."
Raven said, "Way too much."
Hotetsu's Verse
How happy is the little stone --Emily Dickinson
the trees . . . give off such hints of gladness --Mary Oliver

Mary's trees, Emily's little stone,
Cheerful stars, a merry brook,
Shy gemstones, humble dirt,
Lugubrious rain, angry thunder,
Cruel frost or oppressive heat
Vengeful flood or punishing drought
Sanguine dawn and pensive dusk --

Ask any of them, "What do you want?"
They have nothing to answer.
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and Verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC, Sat Jan 26: SEE HERE

RAVEN INDEX

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