The message below went out on Monday, January 30, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
As I’ve watched the presidential campaign season unfold around me these past few weeks, I can’t help but notice that the underlying themes of fear, of scarcity, and of “the other” permeate every discussion. Our political culture has become toxic on both sides. We have become obsessed with ensuring specific benefits for ourselves, our subset of society, and even our country at the expense of others instead of creating solutions that make our global community as a whole better, stronger, and more just.
Instead of allowing yourself to be seduced by this pervasive narrative of fear and scarcity, take a look at this video of Congressman Keith Ellison speaking about love and abundance: “Proclaim love, proclaim love not just as a fuzzy warm notion but an active principle, engaged in informing us about how we live with each other, with our planet, with this economy, with the way we do business.”
For today’s action, let’s counter our society’s oppressive, hateful rhetoric by making this video go viral. Let’s allow Rep. Ellison’s love-inspired words reverberate around the World Wide Web. And as we use this week to discuss our “story of now,” let us use his message of love and abundance to inform how we engage with our community.
“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
In faith and love,
Standing on the Side of Love
The message below went out on Sunday, January 29, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
In a moment of candor between a professor and myself several years ago, he said to me, “I love the Unitarians. You are a bright light in the world, but you do not understand evil.” I knew he was right. I had struggled with my own relativist notions of the concept… indeed I thought of it as a concept. I had rejected sin preferring the idea of original blessing, preferring the leap of faith made by stating that all beings have an inherent worth and dignity. My people, I thought, were a thoroughly modern people.
Until the 20th Century, both philosophy and theology were obsessed with the work of theodicy: a systematic understanding and justification of suffering and evil all the while defending God’s goodness. Great thinkers spent their lives trying to explain how evil could exist if God was omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful) and omnipresent (everywhere). The problem of theodicy, of understanding evil while believing that goodness and love is a greater power, is perhaps a struggle Unitarian Universalists would do well to pick up again. It is not enough to simply ask why do bad things happen to good people? We must ask what is the vision of the people who would seek justice and equality and redemption and forgiveness in our world? We must ask, if love is a greater power, a higher power, what is our relationship to that? Are we merely individuals at play in a larger system that makes good people create bad consequences wishing it were otherwise?
Today’s action for 30 Days of Love is to hold a theological reflection discussion to think about this moment in time as a community and how our faith impacts our response to this moment.
Schedule a time to gather during or after services, or a time on another day, and use our 30 Days of Love Theological Reflection Guide to help your discussion. Download the PDF here:
Two summers ago, I travelled to Phoenix, AZ to participate in a mass rally against the racial profiling of American citizens and the arrests and deportations of people who had crossed the border without permission. I purchased a clerical collar for the event because I wanted to be recognized as minister when I was arrested. After our action, illegal in the eyes of the system, I sat in the basement of the 4th St. Jail along with five or six Latino activists; all of us in zip tie handcuffs. My collar attracted the attention of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man behind the raids being carried out with the passage of SB 1070. There is no shortage of people who call this man evil. Just as there is no shortage of people who call this man a hero. As he stood over me, he asked, “Why are you here?”
Unfortunately, I answered him in a most juvenile and disingenuous way. I looked up in defiance and said “Jesus sent me.” This wasn’t true and I regret saying it. Sure, I might be able to spin some story about how Jesus stood up for the disinherited and I was trying to follow that mandate. But the truth is, I knew that Sheriff Arpio is a devout Christian and I was trying to insult him. I got the desired effect. He screwed up his face and walked away. Instead of being honest about my desire to be in relationship with that higher power of goodness and love I made a joke, and not a very good one.
The truth is, I am scared of taking on the mandate of living in the world guided by the idea that there is a love and goodness that will care for me and help me care for others. It is much easier, much safer to sit behind my intellectual analyses of a cold, systematic world where the banality of evil rules, where the micro-offenses of human beings slowly destroy us, where the source of our creation, God if you will, is indifferent at best. This is a fear of intimacy: intimacy with fellow humans as well as intimacy with God.
But if we are to be a part of the vision that brings healing and health to our nation we must step into the holy and prayerful practice of exploring intimacy. There is no better place for this type of study and reflection than our congregations.
Please take a moment to download the 30 Days of Love Theological Reflection Guide and to discuss this with your congregation. Download the PDF document:
There is a lot of healing left to do in this country and in the world. There is a lot of injustice and we are called as a people to do what we can to counter it. We can fight for justice as individuals, but I would rather do it as a community guided by a vision. So when someone asks us “Why are you here?” We can answer, “Because there is evil in the world. It comes in many forms ranging from brutal and immediate to the complex and bureaucratic. But evil is not the highest power. We are here because love and goodness is the highest power. We are here because love asked us to come, to sit before you and say this cannot happen any longer.”
The message below went out on Saturday, January 28, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
I have always felt like sharing a meal is one of the most important and powerful tools for ministry. Sitting around a table and taking part together in that divine, daily ritual of dinner can break boundaries, calm tensions, create connections, and open up the space for dialog in a way that is often impossible otherwise.
Today’s action for 30 Days of Love is to invite people to share a meal, or to feed others in our community.
As congregations, we use food to build community. We serve meals in times of celebration, and we serve meals in times of mourning. We serve meals to bring people together. Whether we share meals within our church community or we take meals outside of our church walls into the larger community, we have the possibility of creating connections that will affect us in ways we can’t believe.
A few weeks ago, our congregation in Reston, VA decided to cook a meal for the people at Occupy DC. From the first day we made the announcement that we were looking for people to help cook, I was amazed by how many people were talking about the Occupy movement: why we supported their cause, what income inequality meant for us, and how we could help. Days before we even heated up the oven, the anticipation of cooking our meal stirred up dialogue and fired up passions.
Once the day finally came to prepare the food, our congregation had more donations and volunteers than we needed. Our small kitchen was packed with volunteers sharing stories about how they found our church, their families and their youth, sharing hopes for the future, and enjoying the freedom to just speak anything that came to mind. We all grew closer as we worked, and I have seen those connections continue to grow on Sunday mornings since.
The occupiers that we feed want everyone to understand that it helps them keep going and gives them strength to know that people outside of their group support what they are doing. It was also clear from their compliments that they had not had a lot of access to freshly cooked vegetables and healthy food, which gave us great joy to provide. Through that one meal, a lot of people were brought together in different ways and many more had a hot meal on a cold night. I can think of very few things we can do together in one day that can have that big an impact.
Whether we gather together as a church or we sit around our own dinner table, the power of food to make space for connection is something we cannot forget as we go through our meals each day. Open up your table to someone or someones that you hope to build a relationship with. Share a meal with those who are in need of community or support. You will be amazed with the ease that a common meal gives to finding common ground. This is something you can do by yourself, with some friends or with your church community. However and whenever you can, open your table to let it be a place of connection. It’s one more way that we can make a difference.
Director of Religious Education
Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, VAMore >
The message below went out on Friday, January 27, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.
I’d like to invite you to be part of a real secure community.
To me, we find security in each other’s open arms, in seeking shoulders to lean on instead of backs to stand on. Security is a mother’s love or a sibling’s smile; a family gathered around a table filled with daily bread.
Unfortunately, such scenes are being threatened by a program that falsely shares the name, “Secure Communities,” but is better known as S-Comm. S-Comm is one in a series of federal immigration programs that enlists local police in the role of unjust immigration enforcement. It turns our public servants into “migra” and turns our local jails into check-points. It’s the main engine behind today’s deportation machine. Despite brave and bold actions and official opposition from governors in three states and condemnations from major newspapers, the Administration has pushed to make the deportation program mandatory nation-wide by next year.
However, the program can’t function without the voluntary participation of our local law enforcers. Places like Santa Clara, CA, Chicago, IL, and San Francisco have found ways to break ICE’s hold on our communities by treating all people who enter their jails equally regardless of documentation status and refusing to extend people’s incarceration just because ICE requested it.
Join us for a webinar next Thursday, February 2nd, at 8:00 p.m. ET to learn how to keep our communities whole by breaking ICE’s hold on them. Our families deserve to stay together, it’s police and ICE that should be separated.
Click here to sign up for the webinar.
This webinar is a collaboration of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC), of which the UUA is a member, as well as the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM). The 90-minute webinar is designed to help congregations create interfaith teams to advocate for change in their communities. Combined with a downloadable toolkit [links to downloadable PDF file], the webinar will give participants concrete tools to launch interfaith grassroots campaigns to demand their city or state break ICE’s Hold on them. Give us 90 minutes and we’ll show you how!
Sign up to participate here:
We stood firmly together in Arizona; now it’s time to face the Arizona in our own backyards. Sheriff Arpaio of Maricopa County may be the ugliest face of these federal programs but there are lesser known Arpaios at work in all of our towns. Together we can turn the tide from hate to human rights, from fear to courage, from intolerance to the side of love.
Looking forward to working together,
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
PS. To learn more about S-Comm and ICE Holds visit altopolimigra.com/detainersMore >
The message below went out on Friday, January 27, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
But what’s next for Standing on the Side of Love? Where do we go from here? As we engage in collective visioning, what is your vision for this campaign and how it reflects your faith?
Join us today on our Facebook page at 1:30 p.m. ET for a live chat with Dan Furmansky, the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.
- What does the Standing on the Side of Love campaign mean now?
- What could it mean?
- How might the campaign hold all of the issues you are concerned with today?
- What should be ‘Next’ for Standing on the Side of Love?
Chat with you at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Standing on the Side Love
P.S. A poem for today I thought you might appreciate:
What do I desire for my country? How do I vision the land I love?
Let it be a land where knowledge is free,
Where the mind is without fear, and men and women hold their heads high,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way in the dreamy desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom let my country awake.
- Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali philosopher, Nobel Laureate poetMore >