Two Readers Write … hard news and hope

A reader writes:

I have recently come upon your books and your views on the scriptures. During an extremely dark period in my life almost thirty years ago which culminated with prison time [which I now refer to as my prisonic journey] I fell on my face on a concrete cell floor and cried out for God to show me His ways. I did this after I became swallowed up in a chaotic cloud of religious teachings from the religion I was brought up in. I was given a Bible and when I attempted to read it all that resulted was a strong sensation of being far away from God. There is way too much to share in an email so I will simply fast forward and share that I have come to a level of understanding similar to your view. The very first thing I discovered when I was released from prison was that the professed Christian community is not very receptive of those who do not conform to their pecking orders, stale regurgitated traditional interpretations, rituals, and regimental worship structures. It was disheartening but now that our Lord has guided me onto your path I am encouraged that He is awakening many out of the religious coma. I therefore encourage you to remain strong in what the Holy Spirit has blessed you with…sincere eyes to see! God bless!
Another reader writes:
Several years ago ... my 90 yr old mother was on her death bed from cancer. My brother, my wife and myself had been taking shifts sitting with her.  The morning of the sixth I was sitting with her, not knowing in the  next 12 hours she would pass on.  She would wake now and then and be very livid and talkative.   Sitting next to her bed was a lay person from the Catholic church. She had been a life long catholic, her aunt was a Mother Superior at one point and her uncle had been  bishop.  So they had been raised pretty strict.
My mother motion me close to her and in her weak voice goes,  You know where I am, I said yes, in the hospice ward.   She asked if I knew who the lady was and I said yes.  She asked if the priest was coming for last rites, and I said yes just as you asked.  She smiled, said yes that’s right.   They are here for me because I am dying.
She laid back closed her eyes, sighed, my church is dying.  There will never be a layperson to be there with kind words and scriptures,  No priest with last rites.   It will wither away as more and more stop believing.   Then she opened her eyes looked at me one last time, said go get you doctorate, help save the religion.
Ten minutes later she slipped into a coma.  That evening she pasted away.
Today I started reading your book  “The Great Spiritual Migration”   I was struck like a ton of bricks by what you said in just the first few pages.
Both of these notes tell us that, yes, the status quo is broken, but also - the Spirit is moving. May we all be honest about the problems and encouraged by the possibilities!

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What I Shared in Stony Point NY

Thanks for the warm welcome, Presbytery!

I'm sorry I didn't have copies of Cory and the Seventh Story available. You can purchase the book online here: https://www.theseventhstory.com/

Here are slides from my presentations:

congregation past present future

 

bias

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What I Shared in Jupiter

(the city in Florida, not the planet past Mars). It was a joy to be with Jupiter First Church last Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to the warm welcome from your extraordinary staff, members, and visitors!

salt and light

 

jupiter GSM

 

jupiter worship protocol

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Q & R: What book should I read next?

Here's the Q:

Our Christian Living group at First United Methodist ... has just completed a study of your wonderful book, The Great Spiritual Migration. The accompanying video series was especially well received.

We agree that a “new spirituality” is needed. We wish to have your thoughts on what we should do next. The dual concepts of social justice and environmental sustainability are currently being discussed. What book(s) or reading should we consider?

Here's the R:
Of my books, I'd encourage you to read Everything Must Change. It's from 12 years ago, but unfortunately (!), its message is more relevant than ever.
Another book I'd highly recommend - Jim Antal's Climate Church, Climate World. It's so well written, and so important!

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“Among the most important social impact success stories …”

We’ve all seen the beer commercial that begins, “I don’t normally drink beer, but when I do …” I feel the same way about fast food. When I do stop in for a quick bite at an airport or along an interstate, I choose my restaurants carefully. My first consideration is not with calories or nutrition labels, but with ethics.

It may be hard to imagine that farmworkers in the U.S. today are subjected to abuse and exploitation, but here, as around the world, farmworkers are among the least protected and most exploited workers. That is why deciding where to eat is about a lot more than burger versus salad. I make sure that I patronize the restaurants and food chains that participate in a growing international movement to help stop the abuses still rife in the hidden parts of the food supply chain. It’s an easy choice to make every time we wonder if we’d like “fries with that.”

At a time when corporations seem to wield more power than governments, and human rights seem to be under attack, the Fair Food Program (FFP) gives power back to the consumer. Its primary objective is to guarantee improved working conditions and pay for hidden workers on whom we all depend every single day. Its success is based in the powerful and unprecedented alliance it has built between farmworkers and consumers like us. This alliance has pressed retail food companies to use their enormous purchasing power to end abuses and require better labor standards for farmworkers who harvest the produce they buy. Developed by farmworkers, and operating in seven states along the Eastern seaboard, the FFP is providing basic protections for the tens of thousands of women and men who stoop in the hot sun to pluck strawberries, pick tomatoes, and pull bell peppers.

If growers do not meet and maintain certain work standards, they lose the ability to sell to major buyers like McDonalds, Burger King, Walmart and Trader Joe’s who have signed legally binding Fair Food Agreements. These agreements, in place with a dozen of the world’s largest food companies based in the U.S.,  assure fair pay and humane conditions for farmworkers, and give them  a trusted place to report problems like sexual harassment, abuse, wage theft, and lack of toilet facilities or drinkable water while in the field, knowing that complaints will be immediately investigated and resolved. The FFP also provides worker-to-worker education so farmworkers become the frontline monitors in protecting their own rights on FFP farms.

Traditional political action and community organizing remain vitally important, but in places where government is either corrupt, paralyzed or committed to inaction, the workers themselves give consumers a way to offer support with their wallets and avoid companies that leave their employees vulnerable to mistreatment. This effort has met such unparalleled success in ending and preventing sexual assault, forced labor and other serious human rights abuses that the Harvard Business Review has named it “among the most important social impact success stories of the past century.”

Now the program’s model is being translated to supply chains around the world and is a prime example of a whole new category of social action called Worker Driven Social Responsibility. From the apple orchards of New York and the tomato fields of Florida where I live to the clothing sweatshops of Bangladesh, workers are identifying basic standards to which companies should publicly commit. These commitments give consumers the power to spend our dollars with ethically accountable companies and avoid those that are not.

I think it’s a way for us to cast our vote — not just every two or four years — but every day. Every time we pull out our wallets, we are voting for a company and the way it treats its workers, and not only those on its payroll, but also those in its vast supply chain.

As an activist and public theologian committed to teaching, preaching and speaking out on the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, I have joined with other leaders to help advance human rights through the food we buy. I want my vote — and my dollars — to count for all the good they can.

If you live in the New York area, I'll be speaking on this important subject with colleagues Gerardo Reyes Chaves, Obrey Hendricks, Hussein Rashid, Rachel Kahn-Troster, and Noelle Damico - Monday, January 28. You'll find more information here: http://www.allianceforfairfood.org/on-common-ground/

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