SPIRIT & FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE
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These experiences led us to affirm an overall belief in the separation of church and state. But just holding this opinion doesn’t go very far. Sporadically, we’ve held rallies to declare support for some particular spiritual or faith group coming under attack in our communities. But these efforts didn’t come close to settling our troubles.
Because adults couldn’t get our imaginations unstuck from prevailing frameworks for debate, we turned to students in our public schools for help. That led us to thinking about Spirit & Faith in the Public Square in a very different, more structural way that – literally and collectively – links our fates together. This is leading to other intriguing surprises and challenges that may take us in a better direction.
Lamentations & Sorrow
Backwater Bay notes with grief and profound sorrow these more recent violent fractures in the possibility of Beloved Community. We also know that persistent, tangible, and sustained expressions of solidarity and support, renewed and joyfully expanded, will be remembered long after attempts at exclusion and erasure are consigned to the dustbin of history.
Mosque Massacres (2019)
Synagogue Massacre (2018)
In the meantime, some friends, neighbors, and acquaintances have also been thinking about how to draw on spiritual resources and imagination in order to remake our society, and perhaps even the world. Here are a few we’re finding useful.
Struggling Against Anti-Semitism is Permanently Entwined with the Fight Against Islamophobia, by Mara Ahmed, Mondoweiss, October 29, 2018
The author notes: “The struggle against anti-Semitism is permanently intertwined with the fight against Islamophobia, settler colonialism, and imperial violence and encroachment. It’s not possible to pick apart and support one component versus another, and it’s our decision to commit to all, or nothing.”
Fortification: Spiritual Sustenance for Movement Podcast
Here are interviews with an exhilarating array of organizers and activists talking about the role of spirituality and faith in their own lives, reflecting on the current political moment, sharing what they’ve learned through their own work, and exploring how faith communities can support and engage with movements for transformative change in a time of powerful resistance and backlash. Hosted by Caitlin Breedlove, formerly of Side with Love and currently Vice President for Movement Leadership with Auburn Seminary. The podcast is a project of Side with Love and the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Rev. angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Dr. Jasmine Syedullah (North Atlantic Books, 2016)
Taking into account the ways that racism and white supremacy prevent collective awakening, the authors, drawing on Buddhist traditions, argue for going beyond demands for “equality” and “diversity” to new ways of addressing not only the injustices and violence of others but also our own communities. Queer-affirming.
The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word, by Walter Brueggemann (Fortress Press, 2012)
A progressive Protestant scholar and theologian focusing on the Old Testament, Brueggemann describes the dominant narrative, or imagination of society as to the themes of capitalist consumerism, militarism, and nationalism and argues for a spiritually-centered, prophetic counter-narrative.
The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Beacon Press, 2016)
At a time when divide-and-conquer politics are exacerbating racial strife and economic inequality, Rev. Barber offers an impassioned, historically grounded argument that there is hard evidence of an embryonic Third Reconstruction in America. Since 2013, religious progressives, union members, immigration rights activists, LGBTQ people, and others have come together to oppose racial and economic inequality, increasing corporate control of politics and state governments, restrictions to voting, and more.
The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice seeks to learn from, strengthen, and expand transformative movements for social change, led by the poor and drawing on the power of religious traditions and human rights:
“We believe that we are living in a kairos moment: A moment of great change and transition, where the old ways of doing things are breaking down, new ones are trying to emerge, and decisive action is demanded. In this time of crisis, we’re faced with growing injustice and violence as the old powers try to maintain control. At the same time, we’re seeing around the world new movements springing up: families and communities fighting to defend themselves and put forward a vision of new and better ways of living together — a vision based on everyone’s human right to the things we need to survive.”
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