For your COVID/Election/Trump-Corruption Sanity – a poem and a song

I feel like I need a dose of poetry to cleanse me from every dose of grotesque news these days ...

This beautiful poem by Marissa Davis (with thanks to Maria Popova) is trance-like litany ...

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2020/07/05/singularity-marissa-davis/?mc_cid=50a8e9bed5&mc_eid=2f42f77b10

Of course, this Michael Franti song is a fitting companion ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrPQfNjeHlo

 

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How did I miss this? Haunting song/video

A friend read my piece in the Daily Meditation for Center for Action and Contemplation and sent me this video:

https://youtu.be/Odlw8WdsZS8

Wow. So beautiful - and summative. Thanks, Birdtalker! (And Susan!)

 

By the way, for my conservative Christian friends, if (when?) the above video makes you nervous, consider this: what if the connectedness this song speaks of is the same reality Jesus meant by his term "the kingdom of God?" A kingdom, after all, was the largest imaginable network in Jesus's day ... it included the king and the realm, human and animal life in that realm, living things and the non-living environment in that realm. If that thought intrigues you, you might be interested in this book of mine, The Secret Message of Jesus.

 

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In Lieu of Fireworks – read these words on fire from Frederick Douglas today

Eerily relevant today, from Frederick Douglas' 1862 4th of July speech:
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I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.
 
At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the “mint, anise, and cumin” — abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church, demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal! — And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to solicit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old Covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door, and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox, to the beautiful, but treacherous queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional exceptions), does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe of mint, anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.”
 
But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines. who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.
 
For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke, put together, have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and which is “first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation — a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, “Bring no more vain ablations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea! when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow.”
 
The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in connection with its ability to abolish slavery. The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that “There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it.”
 
Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday school, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds; and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.
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Today - we could apply Douglas's words to the struggle for Black Lives, and the struggles against climate change, white supremacy, economic inequality, weapons proliferation, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and other critical issues. May church leaders today wake up and stop playing safe! May they be more energized by the revolutionary good news of Jesus Christ and stop fearing the Fox News of Rupert Murdoch! May the trump fear, hate, and authoritarianism with faith, hope, and love!
 
More here:
 
And here:

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My Conversation with Valarie Kaur: See No Stranger

I don't say this lightly: "See No Stranger" is one of the best books I've read, ever. Deep. Practical. Moving. Honest. Relevant. Urgently needed. Author Valarie Kaur has been a friend and colleague (through the Auburn Senior Fellows Program) for many years, and I know you'll love eavesdropping on our recent conversation.

BUY HER BOOK - and learn more here: https://valariekaur.com/see-no-stranger/

 

https://youtu.be/OTigiDIDO7g

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Wisdom on depression from Maria Popova (a national treasure)

Thanks for this gem,@brainpicker!

"... the Moon seen through a telescope, so proximate and unassailable, this radiant orb of primeval scar tissue; the mossy trunk of a centuries-old cedar, ringed with the survival of wars and famines, a silent witness to countless human heartaches; the song of the thrush and the bloom of the magnolia and the lush optimism of that first blade of grass through the frosty soil — these bewilderments of beauty do not dissipate the depression, but they do dissipate the self-involvement with which we humans live through our sorrows, and in so unselfing us, they give us back to ourselves."

More here: https://mailchi.mp/brainpickings/depression?e=2f42f77b10

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