Artful Land Care

Archive for the ‘Peace & Justice’ Category

White and the Need to Advance Beyond White Culture Mythology

In Peace & Justice on September 3, 2017 at 10:00 am

Mythology

Willian Kittredge wrote, “Mythology can be understood as a story that contains a set of implicit instructions from a society to its members, telling them what is valuable and how to conduct themselves if they are to preserve the things they value.”  In the US, a settling people clung so deeply to a mythology it became sanctified.

If one has been educated in the US school system, as I was—it matters little if it was public or private, they were taught to accept the sanctified mythology of…

There were a people who believed in freedom, not for one but for all, and who had a penchant for justice.  They came to this land on the eastern seaboard and after a few mishaps with local people and turning away from the controlling empires of the old land, they began moving west.  They were a rural people who worked hard.  Full of awe as they crossed a continent of beauty and wonder.  They were not without fear, but they were a people who bore down and created a land of peace and riches for their children, regardless of danger.  Yes, they displace the people who were already living in the land, but they also filled an unbroken land with the splendor of agriculture and Christianity.  The plow turned native soil and the land answered with an abundance of wheat, corn, and apples.  And where the plow could not turn soil, native plants allowed cattle to prosper.  These were a people of vision, faith, and wonderment.

Though mythical in nature, the story was sanctified in churches across the land as preachers spoke of them opening the US landscape as if they were the Israelites moving into Canaan.  There were some folk who spoke to the vile nature of the myth (and many fought and died to change it—writers, preachers, Freedom Riders, sages, marchers and protestors,) but a sanctified myth is hard to erase. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arguing the Doctrine of Discovery’s Impact on LGBTQI Folk

In Doctrine of Discovery, Peace & Justice on May 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

During this last decade, the Doctrine of Discovery has become the underpinning on which to build an understanding of Indigenous history and modern reality.  Long in the coming—Vine Deloria Jr spoke to the need of academics and theologians to engage the Doctrine of Discovery nearly 50 years ago—the Doctrine of Discovery is a rubric to apprehend past genocidal practices and current Indigenous tragedy.

The full impact the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD) on the worlds Indigenous people is complex.  However, when it comes to the United States and Canada, the DoD caused a spectrum of hurt which effects Indigenous and non-indigenous people alike.  Recognizing the DoD impacts non-indigenous people raises the complexity of the DoD and alters the conversation.

While it is important to have a conversation on how the DoD has and does impact non-indigenous people in the United States (US) and Canada, it is equally important to say no group has known DoD caused hurt to the extent of Indigenous peoples.  Recognizing that reality is important to say when exploring DoD inflicted hurt upon non-indigenous people because some folk prefer to find arguments that might allow a community to ignore and forget past atrocities.  Developing such amnesia weakens and conceals the impact of the DoD in today’s context and ignores any though of Indigenous racism.  One such path toward forgetfulness is to create a construct where the DoD damages White non-indigenous people to the same extent of Indigenous peoples.  Therefore, it needs saying that while this writing explores the DoD’s damage to a community of people who are both Indigenous and non-indigenous, it is equally important to remember the genocidal impact inflicted by the DoD on the Indigenous people of the Americas is like nothing else.

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Be it Resolved: Art

In Art, Peace & Justice on August 7, 2016 at 10:00 am

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I never paid much attention to church resolutions until one of consequence came along in the 90’s.  The resolution called the Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada Region (CCNCN) to engage in a two-year study to become the first Disciple region to become “open and inclusive.”  Prior to then, Findlay Street, a congregation in the Northwest Region, had become the first congregation to claim an open and affirming identity.  However, this was the first time a Region risked fracture to claim wholeness which only comes with the full inclusion of their LGBT (QI &A were to be identified in another decade) brothers and sisters.  At the end of the two-year study, CCNCN congregations voted to affirm their Region as open and inclusive.  A few congregations left the Region because of the vote; however, there was not the max exodus some folk feared.  Rather, congregations recognized the conversation became full and meaningful with everyone participating at the table. Read the rest of this entry »

Seasonal Change

In Peace & Justice, Poetry on March 20, 2016 at 8:47 am

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last of winter sun
whispers, my sky color
is soon of ground

 

Peace Through Allies

In Peace & Justice on January 31, 2016 at 8:35 am

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January 31, 2015

Friends often make you think. Not a bad thing, but often a hard thing. Thought, while good, is not always good or risky enough without verbalization. Shayne and Sandhya, I figure, know that, which, maybe, is why last October they asked what I thought about the blog Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM). Thinking about it wasn’t enough. I would have to risk voice. Something I seldom enjoy on edgy issues. Well, five months is enough time to stew over it.

The blogger uses a quote from Dr. Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail,

“Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

We all like Dr. King quotes, don’t we? Yet, we seldom see ourselves on the challenged end of the quote. The problem Dr. King addresses here is that of ally. He speaks about justice orientated folk who are about change, but fear what might happen to their reputation if their heart is voiced (hmm, like me for the last five months?); and the perceived communal stability that exists with the no comment negative peace.

Some sixty years later I find I line up closer with Johan Galtung’s understanding of negative peace than I do with Dr. King’s. I figure there is plenty of tension lying just below the communal surface now (listen to the tone of the blog) and in King’s era. The peace known in society, now and then, is not the absence of tension, but the absence of violence. Which for my money means, no one should be surprised if the boiling tension below the surface ends up blowing the lid off the teakettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Family—99 %’s & Malheur

In Peace & Justice, YCM on January 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

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January 10, 2016

Never gave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge much thought before? Neither had I. I traveled nearby, once, a few years ago. Heading south to the Steens Mountain Wilderness, I skirted by to the west on the two-lane highway. I probably passed a sign telling me to turn east to the Refuge, but I missed it the high desert of sky and sage. Though traveling at 55 mph doesn’t allow for much, you can still catch your breath in this beautifully rural and open landscape

I find it sad that the first time most US folk become aware of this landscape it is not for its beauty.

Enough has been said about the gun toting, cowboy hat wearing folk who are living at the Refuge these days. However, as one who wears a cowboy hat, hunts, and whom neighbors think of as the local liberal, here are two more cents.

It figure it was about the time I first heard about #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS tweeting and folk wondering about calling this occupy movement domestic terrorism, that I began thinking about the Refugee occupiers and the now, mostly, defunct Occupy Movement/99 percent movement in the same light. Sure there is a difference between those who carry guns and those who don’t, but then again, who is feeling their lives are threatened by the few folk in the 10-30 degree weather of the east Oregon high desert, locals notwithstanding.

I find I agree about as much with the Refugee occupiers as I did with the Occupy Movement. In both cases, it seems most folk are/were about maintaining a middle (or higher) class existence for themselves. I want more land (the Refugee folk). I want a better job (the Occupy Movement). My friends who support one group or the other would say that is simplistic and it is more complicated than that. I’ll give you that. My question though, then as now, is when this is all over will you give of your time and resources to better the lives of those who have less? Read the rest of this entry »

Not Probable, But Believable

In Peace & Justice, Theology on December 27, 2015 at 8:00 am

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December 27, 2015

Snow crunched as we walked to the truck. Christmas morning, 5:30am, 4 degrees, and a full moon had the landscape glimmering and welcoming in mystical, frozen sort of way. Little is like the sharpness stars take on when the air crackles. Thus an unexpected gift, I gave no thought to fifteen minutes earlier while pulling on boots next to the fire knowing the outside is cold enough to freeze nose hairs. Moments, when the world enters into sharp focus is unbelievable, yet believable.

Belinda drove as I tossed one alfalfa flake after the other from the back of the truck. Cattle followed until they figured one flake is as good as another and got to eating. Settled into routine, I wondered, then remembered a friend using a clip from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Lucy Pevensie first walks through the Wardrobe, to open the Advent season in her church. When Lucy backs out of the wardrobe into a place of snow, so unexpected, the moment becomes mystical. As she chances movement away from the wardrobe and into a wonder snow filled forest, she comes upon a lamppost. Forest, snow, and a lighted lamppost, unbelievable, but Lucy is standing in its midst, therefore believable.

Leather gloves only go so far in the cold and as numb fingers dropped the last flakes I wondered more and stumbled upon the Pauline letter of Colossians and the words, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another… forgive each other… be thankful… teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” Maybe it was the cold, maybe the numbness was spreading, but in the dark of Christmas morning, the thought of compassion and kindness coupled with humility and meekness was unbelievable…yet… believable.

Imagine your, mine, our community where every person lives in a warm home? We all know this reality is not probable in our time, but don’t we all know it is possible? Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer & “God Isn’t Fixing This”

In Peace & Justice, Theology on December 6, 2015 at 8:43 am

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December 5, 2015

God Isn’t Fixing This and that is freaking people out.
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Last Sunday, like many pastors, I stood before a congregation asked what folk were joyful about and what they were concerned about. A few joys, a few concerns, and Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood—seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it?—were mentioned. And we prayed.

Tuesday I sat in the Living Room of a 64-year-old who lost his wife last May. We prayed.

Wednesday I sat in a coffee shop and listened as a fifty-something spoke about the hardships of life lived and hope of tomorrow. I prayed.

Thursday I walked the pasture and then to the edge of the creek. Frozen snow cracked underfoot, a sentry Quail yelled “Chicago,” and a coyote broke through the bush. I prayed.

And I am not much of a pray-er.
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I have not read the NY Daily News article folk are talking about, but dealing with the headline words alone, I agree, God is not going to fix this problem of mass shootings or shootings at all. Hell, not only is Colorado Springs old news in light of San Bernardino, it is hard to remember the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in October, and the February Pasco, Washington shooting-lynching of Antonio Zambrano-Montes is long since forgotten. There is no prayer, to any God “out there,” that is going to fix or end the killings of our brothers and sisters.

Yet prayer matters because a bit of the Creator resides in all of Creation. Within Creation, within folk is the restorative creativeness that will bring about harmony. The first step, for those who pray, toward finding restorative creativeness is prayer. Prayer helps the pray-er grasp they have the Creators creative ability to bring about health, wellbeing, and balance. The pray-er can actively heal.

Healing, though, comes by perceiving prayer and creativeness as words of action. Neither is passive. Both are proactive. Prayer and creativeness are causative rather than inert or lifeless and calls for advance action rather than scrabbling response. Healing occurs when the pray-er gains strength from prayer to actively engage change.
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God Isn’t Fixing This, but the people of God can.

Earring Cattle: And the Sin of This Generation(s)?

In Peace & Justice on November 15, 2015 at 9:31 am

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November 15, 2015

The calves were weaned two three months ago. Standing on a fence rail, looking at calves, I know weaning is never an easy time—for anyone. The calf is on the teat and the next day not. That makes for an upset mama and calf, which can lead to steady bawling for a day or two. When you have fifty cows and fifty calves in the corrals and those corrals are located next to home, like our closest neighbor, no one sleeps well for those couple of days. No, weaning is not easy for anyone. Standing on the rail, I know another stressful event for these calves lies ahead.

Yellowing leaves of autumn trees is the signage of fall roundups and selling of spring calves. Leaves falling from trees mean it is time for me to buy spring calves. Calves will spend twelve to fourteen months on the farm, so I look for weaned calves weighing between 400 and 550 pounds. Weaned because calves gain little, maybe lose, weight during those first days after separation from mama. After weaning though, they come into their own teenage identity and become capable of dealing with the stress that comes with a change of place. (Isn’t moving hard on all of us? Little matter if it is for a great job or family, moving to a new place—even a few blocks away—always gives us apprehension and stress).

The perfect change of place for calves means I choose them from the rail, load them at the neighbor’s ranch, trailer them to JustLiving Farm, and unloading into the corral. Seldom is that the case. More often than not, the calves are trailered from the ranch to the auction barn where I bid and buy. They are then loaded and trailered to the farm. Because life is seldom perfect, we do what we can to minimize stress. Therefore, we make sure the feeder is full of hay and the trough full of water when they unload off the trailer. Once calves make their way around the corral once, and know where the food and water are, we walk away. Belinda and I figure, at that moment, they are not looking favorably upon the two-legged animals who have taken them away from the landscape of birth to who knows where—best to let them alone.

Over the next two weeks calves will eat, drink, chew cud, and sleep in the corral. I move in and out during that time filling the feeder with hay, filling the water trough, and having short conversations. My work during those weeks is to watch their movement, their noses and eyes, and anything else that might indicate a need for doctoring or special care. Read the rest of this entry »

End Government Days of False Honor and Reclaim Soil’s Family

In Doctrine of Discovery, Landscape, Peace & Justice, Soil on October 11, 2015 at 8:06 am

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October 11, 2015

Funny (in a non-funny way) how many people and State governments have learned a flag (Confederate) has the ability to destroy justice and people and that there is integrity of removing it from the public life, but continue to hold on to and honor a day ruin—Columbus Day. Some are going to talk about this day of history that honors humanities quest of exploration and adventure. I would not be surprised to see the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria compared to Friendship 11, Apollo 11, and Space Shuttle Columbia. Others will speak of the day as a day of conquest, subjugation, and genocide. While others will move for a governmental name switch to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, like the City of Seattle did in 2014.

Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day, I am not a fan of either. I find governmental days of recognition little more than fluff when it comes to justice. Few folk give them serious thought. After all, there is already Native American Day—just a few weeks ago (September 25). What special events or education opportunities were in your community on that day? What did you attend? (Really, feel free to post!) Alongside, Native American Heritage Month is all next month! What might your congregation, non-profit, or business have planned? What event do you plan to attend? (I’ll give two suggestions found in the Northwest: JustLiving Farm is screening of who are my people a film Emmy Award winning filmmaker Robert Lundahl on November 05. And Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is offering the Collins Lecture in Portland on the Doctrine of Discovery with Robert J. Miller, George “Tink” Tinker and Kim Recalma-Clutesi on November 19.)

Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Day is but a symbolic move. Does it matter? Well of course it does, but it benefits the government much more than people. Does anyone believe the City of Seattle is going to make substantial change that would have governance structure become accountable to American Indians? Or fund better education for American Indian children? Or fund better American Indian health, mental care, spiritual care, or care for family structure? What I am getting at is while Indigenous People’s Day sounds good, it is a day of governmental structure, which allows governments like Seattle sound and look good while maintaining oppressive policies against American Indians. Meaningful insight is not going to come from the government, but from the people. I’ll take Idle No More or #BlackLivesMatter any day over one more government holiday (that does not honor a person of resistance). Read the rest of this entry »