It has been a week full of bad news, and the Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein exhorts her clergy readers to “preach the front pages” this Sunday.
Preach the news. Preach the fire. Preach the rage, the sadness, the lamentation. Preach it fierce. Bring your rage, your solidarity, your authority to confront: to confront ourselves, to confront our God, to confront yourself, to confront our sick, sick society. Confront what is really happening. (Beauty Tips for Ministers, August 14)
Patrick Murfin says that when the news beats us up, it is “time to step up, not away.”
Hiding from it will not save you. It will make you, however unwittingly, an accomplice.
None of us have the power to stop these things. All of us have the power to move the world, if only a little, along that long promised arc that bends towards justice. We are called to crawl out from under the covers and unleash our love—muscular love—applied with plenty of elbow grease. Not platitudes but action. (Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout, August 15)
Ferguson, and wherever you are
The killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and subsequent events drew the attention of many UU bloggers this week.
The Rev. Meg Riley is “struggling to discern how to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Where do you locate yourself in these stories? Who do you see as dangerous, and who is trustworthy? Where do you locate safety? What would safety look like for the people of Ferguson now, for instance? As a white person in the U.S., I am conditioned from birth to see whiteness as safety—white neighborhoods, white people, white authority figures. My lived experience, my conversations with people of color, and my study of history have shown me over and over that this is a wild and cruel perversion of the truth. (HuffPost Religion, August 14)
The Rev. Jake Morrill says, “it’s not just Ferguson.”
As protests in Ferguson, Missouri, go on tonight, a lot of my white brothers and sisters are focused on how, in the short-term, to restore order. But the real question is how, in the long-term, to restore justice. (Quest for Meaning, August 13)
The Rev. David Breeden responds in verse.
The measured response of empire
is death—war against war;
attack against attack; violence
to violence. Murder. Revenge.
Death. The measured response of
empire is insanity. The peace of
empire is reloading the gun. It
is the realm of hungry ghosts,
shiny new helmets in the void. (Theopoetics, August 15)
Christine Slocum is uncomfortable with the way African American spirituals are often sung in UU churches.
How dare white people sing African-American spirituals while our police forces shoot black teenagers.
How dare white people sing African-American spirituals when African-Americans are killed on the presumption of criminality by citizens?
How dare white people sing African-American spirituals when African-American men are sent disproportionately to prison on drug charges, despite similar rates of drug use?
I could go on. My point is that the oppression of African Americans has never ended, and yet white people sing the songs. (This Too Will Pass, August 10)
Kim Hampton asks, “How the hell did y’all get this blind?”
Did y’all think that Trayvon Martin was a one off? Did you not see the story about Jordan Davis? Renisha McBride? (East of Midnight, August 14)
The Rev. Theresa Novak laments,
Oh waste of loss
America we’ve failed
Storm clouds gather
Justice must rain down
Tears are not enough. (Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musings, August 14)
Depression and suicide
Anyone who is suicidal may receive immediate help by logging onto Suicide.org or by calling 1-800-SUICIDE. Suicide is preventable, and if you are feeling suicidal, you must get help.
Kimberley Debus responds to the deaths from suicide of the Rev. Jennifer Slade and Robin Williams from personal experience, having “lived that moment, when a decision is made.”
You may not know what to say exactly. But say something. And genuinely listen. (Notes from the Far Fringe, August 13)
Kari Kopnick cautions against the phrase “committed suicide.”
People die by suicide. It is a horrible tragedy. But lets not make it worse by saying that our beloved brother or sister committed something. Language matters, what we say makes a difference and the words we choose change the meaning of what we say. (Chalicespark, August 12)
The Rev. Meg Riley acknowledges that sometimes love is not enough.
As I have witnessed the conversations taking place in the wake of his suicide—about depression, about grief, about being bipolar and about loving people who have depression or are bipolar, what I have realized is this: We are all grappling with the edges of the power of love. We loved him, and yet he committed suicide. Our love—the real love of millions of people—did not save him. If so much love couldn’t save him, where is the hope for the rest of us poor schlubs? (HuffPost Religion, August 13)
The Rev. Tony Lorenzen puzzles about how personally he has taken Williams’s death.
It’s the depression, both his and mine, that makes his passing a powerful loss. . . . Robin Williams evokes this pain about the battle with depression, not because he’s the first or most well known to die from it, but because he was one I grew up with and he played roles that deeply affected me. (Sunflower Chalice, August 12)
Politics and culture
Doug Muder asserts, “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party.”
Here’s what my teachers should have told me: “Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.” I think that would have gotten my attention.
It wasn’t just that Confederates wanted to continue the war. They did continue it, and they ultimately prevailed. They weren’t crazy, they were just stubborn. (The Weekly Sift, August 11)
The Rev. Tom Schade says, “We should be re-thinking all of our big thoughts about the state of our political order.”
The police killing of Michael Brown, and the police repression of the community that has demanded accountability, should push people like us (who are more unfamiliar and misinformed about the conditions of life of African Americans than we think we are) into an extended campaign of learning, re-thinking, and teaching.
Learning, Re-Thinking, and Teaching are political acts of great significance and power. (The Lively Tradition, August 14)