Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Peace & Justice’

The Tyranny of Hateful Language

In Doctrine of Discovery, Theology on January 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

The first three days of this week I lived and conversed with family, friends and neighbors about our human need to become family with the fullness of Creation.  I was at Winter Talk and this was a time of imagining with a hint of visioning of whom we might become if we could set our heart and spirit to hearing the voice of soil and water, plant and animal, and wind.  There is great hope in having a group of people wander the outskirts rationality, look beyond the logical ridges that have bounded us for generations, and wonder a grace which includes that Creation which we could not dream as kin.  Yet a truth still lies at the feet of such inspiration.  We can never know such wonderment until we first get it right with that Creation which most looks like us, smells like us, and feels like us.

I’d hardly returned home when the comment came over the radio.  “Goddamn reservation.”  The phrase was not word for word “goddamn reservation,” but word exactness was not the point of the comment I’ve heard many times.  The incendiary comment has one purpose, to instill anger, fear, and agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Cold Landscape

In Doctrine of Discovery, Landscape on December 30, 2016 at 8:29 am

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In five days I visit a landscape different from my own.  Belinda’s folk hail from North Dakota and the landscape is something of her own.  For this southern California boy though, walking into a winter place that locals call cold is likely an understatement.  When I visited the Dakota landscape in the past I found much of it in line with the stories of Belinda’s folk.  Today though, there is something different about the south-central landscape along the Missouri River.  From a distance, it speaks of change.

A landscape of change interests me.

In this season, when US Christianity struggles to speak and act in favor of Creational justice, there are people in a rural landscape who have placed it front and center and have garnered attention for doing so.  Some folk, both local and global, believe they have achieved justice if the current refusal to issue DAPL a permit to cross the Missouri remains in effect come February.  At the surface, my interest lies with the people who believe that as untrue.  For they seem to be the folk who understand care of people without care of land and water and wind may well be a form of mercy, but not justice.  Below the surface, my curiosity lies in the water, land, and wind itself.  There is little action of substance in my home landscape that comes about through people alone.  Any inkling of justice seems to arise only when humans ally their voice with the voice of the landscape.

I wonder, what justice does the water and the land and the wind of this landscape of Belinda’s folk have to speak?  A question, I think, worth a journey.  Why does this landscape call for justice in this this season, in the life of my children?  A question I believe that is worth a pilgrimage.  Yet maybe most important, what if my landscape is calling for the same, but because it is mine, because I see the same ridges each day, because the ridges’ changing shadows amuse and mystify me, I am not able to hear her cry for justice?  What if a visit to a landscape not my own has a word that fractures the barrier between my ears and my landscape’s voice?  Can one not risk journey?

 

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 »

Bettering Structure By Stepping Back

In Reflections, Theology on April 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

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April 24, 2016

We had a busy afternoon last Sunday.  The Democrat’s came to town to work out the next level of delegates for the State and national convention.  Since we were delegates for this first round, Belinda and I figured we should show up.

I am a Hilary guy and argued on her behalf with my neighbors, for a number of reasons.  Foremost, because she is a woman.  It is a simple arguments, but one which has governed other conversations this last year.

In 2017, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will vote for a new General Minister and President (GMP)—think of the GMP of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) like the Pope for Catholics, but a much, much smaller organization.  When 2017 roles around, Disciples will have lived with their first woman (ever) for twelve years.  Moving toward the next GMP takes years and the search is on.  I find my arguments for the next GMP are the same for Clinton.

My argument begins with that calendar like poster on the wall in my second grade class.  Flowing from left to right and top to bottom were pictures of US presidents starting with George Washington.  The poster, other than with a few more presidents is the same that hung on the wall of my children’s class wall, and I assume one can be found on elementary school class walls today.  There is really only one difference between the poster on my wall and the poster today.  My day had pictures of white man after white man after white man after white man after white man, whereas today instead of ending with a white man it ends with a black man.  If Disciples had a similar church poster it would look much the same, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, ending, today, with woman. Read the rest of this entry »

Showing Up

In JustLiving Farm, Reflections on March 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm

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March 27, 2016

About a dozen folk were already in the high school when we arrived.  This was caucus day.  Caucusing is still a bit weird for us.  Before we first came to Washington State, we simply went to the local high school and placed our ballot.  Now living in a caucus state, we sit with folk in our community, argue for whom we believe would best represent our community, and choose delegates for the candidates selected.

Caucusing began an hour after we arrived, so we watched as folk arrived and slowly filled the tables of each precinct.  We sat at the 4001 precinct table.  Folk filled the tables to the north and south, and to the east and west.  We waited.  When time came to caucus, most all the tables were filled, except one to the west, which like ours, had two people.

There is something about showing up.  This Easter day, the day after caucusing, has much to say about just showing up.  No one chanced showing up at the tomb, but the women.  Showing up though meant they had the opportunity to speak with a couple of dazzling men (Lk. 24:4).  That morning, those women lived through something no one experienced before or ever again—except through the stories they told.  There is something about showing up.

At the end of the day, for the hundred or so square miles of our precinct, two people chose two delegates.  The same held true from the precinct table to the west of us.  Sure, how few people were at the tables have a lot to say to just how many democrats live within these hundred square miles.  Yet it also has much to say of what it means not to show up.  The power of many is relinquished to the few.

The experience has much to say to those who wonder about the value of my vote.  For on this one day, in the State of Washington, the delegates who are to represent the people of hundreds of square miles of the American landscape, who in turn will help decide who the next president of the United States might be, were decided by four people.

There is something about just showing up.

Herd Teachings

In Landscape, Theology on February 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

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February 14, 2016

The mamma cow nudged her calf away as I and the dog neared. On down the fence line another yelled at her calf for hanging out near the fence. As we walked, another pushed three calves until they followed her into the field. Mid-winter walks mean most calves are birthed and on the ground learning what it means to be calf.

Being herd critters, cows teach calves how to be herd members. While cows take care of their own, they are not above nudging another’s calf into attention. Instinctively, they know the wellbeing of the herd is dependent on knowledge gained by their neighbor’s calf as well as their own. Herds survive only if they know and engage this simple principle—the wellbeing of my calf is dependent on the survival knowledge my neighbor’s calf. When this principle is not learned, the herd suffers.

Thursday morning, I arrived at the local coffeehouse—a time to catch up with folk, meet new folk, and get a little work done. A friend shared a full-page ad in the Seattle Times taken out by The Greater Good Campaign—coffeehouse mornings mean I don’t have to read every paper to get insights from the local paper, The Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The ad noted that 20,000 Washington students will not graduate high school this year. 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 »

Sign—Post

In Poetry, Theology on January 3, 2016 at 8:00 am

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no hunting, no trespassing?
why do I assume
it was not “Welcome”

 

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.

Elk Parts

In Landscape, Peace & Justice, Reservation on October 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

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October 4, 2015

Elk parts. They come once a year. Archery season opened a few weeks ago and rifle season follows it up. My bow hunting friends are saying this is a season unlike any other. The elk are not traveling normal trails or hanging in their normal high country valleys. Maybe there will be few elk parts this year.

I never imagined elk parts growing up in the rural canyons of southern California. Our deer are small in stature and when it comes to meat, they are little more than a big rabbit compared to an elk. Though small is size, being of a landscape of canyon sage, the flavor of their meat rivaled any Cascade elk. The black-tailed deer of sage country may not be the biggest of deer, but they are right up there with the smartest of deer—and a hair coat the blends beautifully with the sage landscape. The cageyness of these deer meant many hunters spent their time enjoying the landscape and returning home to eat beef. That might be why I never saw another hunter in the ridges and canyons around home, and why “I’m going up north to hunt, these deer are to small and not worth the time,” was often heard leading up to hunting season.

I knew I was not in the landscape of my youth when hunting season rolled around my first fall in White Swan. Growing up rural, forty minutes from town is one thing, living in a rural town is something different. The proximity of folk to one another in town (even a town of 500) leads to a different way of thinking than the open country. The old adage that everyone knows everyone in a small town carries a bit of truth. One of those truths is folk have a very good idea of which neighbor struggles economically and who does not—including their dogs.

When the first elk came out of the hills, that first fall, and after they were quartered and cut into steaks, roasts, and jerky, many hunters went about town giving their meat to the elderly and families who struggled. The knowledge being, the hunter is capable of hunting again and many others are not.

Two events made me notice how this new place was different from back home. One, two hunters showed up at the parsonage and offered us meat for no other reason than placing value on the community’s spiritual leaders. Place matters. When two elk roasts were lifted out of the back of the pickup, there was more meat than any one deer I hunted as a youth. My place was no longer the landscape of canyons and sage. Read the rest of this entry »