Advent Riffs, Second Sunday: Change Is Coming

Flower and leaves growing from dead stump

Photo by Leonard J. Matthews, published under Creative Commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythoto/13916742430/

“On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” Isaiah 11:1

Even when all hope seems dead and gone, a spark of life is hidden in the stump. Life moves underground in the roots. Hope will blossom again, and with it, justice and righteousness and regard for truth and mercy for the downtrodden.

Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but change is coming. We have a promise and we have hope. We believe in new life. A shoot shall sprout. A bud shall blossom. From death, life rises again. In the depths of defeat and darkness, hope persists. Continue reading

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Advent Riffs, First Sunday: Stay Awake

Climate change protest

Published under Creative Commons license

Stay awake, Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading. Be prepared.

Before the great flood, people were carrying on with life as usual. They did nothing to prepare. “They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.”

Does that have any resonance for today?

I think about the coastal cities and communities of the world, where the water is already rising. The climate is changing, the flood is coming, and waters are rising. Continue reading

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Read This Book: So You Want to Talk About Race

so you want to talk about race.jpgThe book my daughter gave me for my birthday was wonderful not only because it shows I raised her right (what better gift than a book?), but also because Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race ranks among the best books I’ve read this year. Or this decade. Continue reading

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Remembering Lisa Kalvelage

Every weekend nowLisa Kalvelage haunts me.

Growing up in Germany under Nazi rule, she and her parents did nothing to resist. Later, she married a GI and came to the United States, where she grappled with what it meant to share in mass guilt for doing nothing in Germany. She became a lifelong peace activist. Today, seeing immigrant children and adults suffering in detention camps, seeing desperate families turned away at our border, I believe we are guilty as a nation for the suffering inflicted in our names and paid for by our tax dollars.

Yes, I also remember Vietnam. Yes, I also know that right now we are supporting a terrible war in Yemen. Yes, I also realize the racist and genocidal past of our country. Mass guilt seems inescapable. Continue reading

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Review: Eloquent Rage

eloquent rage

Rage seems a difficult topic,

Who wants to read about rage? Rage seems like anger squared, cubed, taken to some even higher power, an uncomfortable feeling to experience, a frightening and perhaps dangerous presence to encounter.

Passion, on the other hand, inspires and uplifts. Passion moves us forward, gets things done, works for change. Passion comes from a deep understanding of injustice and the desire / need / will to change that injustice. Or from love—of another person, of a group of people, of a cause, of righteousness—and the desire to make that love effective and physical and embodied in the real world. Continue reading

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This Blessed Earth: Book Review

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Ted Genoways quotes John Steinbeck as the epigraph for his book on a year in the life of a Nebraska farm: “Now farming became industry …” The year begins in October 2014 and ends in November 2015, harvest to harvest, tracing the crop year through planting and spraying and irrigation, with stops along the way for cattle branding and weaning and mending fences. The farm is a family farm, with the fifth generation handing over the reins to the sixth, and an epilogue welcoming the birth of the first of the next generation. Continue reading

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 (Still) Becoming: A Life Well Written

Becoming

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

Michelle Obama writes that she is and always will be “Michelle Robinson from the South Side inside this larger sweep of history.” That perspective informs her life and her memoir, a fascinating story that takes us with her from the South Side of Chicago to Princeton and Washington and the world. Continue reading

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