Archive for February, 2009

Lent

Posted: February 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

I've created a Lenten guide for the Presbyterian Student Center where I work. I approached it with the political stance of liberation theology, and the "Jesus on a Vision Quest" insights of Ched Myers.

Check it out here: Lent09

Queermergent

Posted: February 20, 2009 in Uncategorized
I just came across a website that is an intentional infusion of the emerging church and queer thought. I haven't been hanging around the emerging church much lately. I guess I have just been filling my head with other types of theological musings, from liberation theology to buddhism and new age thought. This is really cool to see coming out of emergent!  

http://queermergent.wordpress.com/

Here is a copy of a recent lecture given by Fr Dean Brackley SJ, Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Catholic University in El Salvador. Commemorating the assassination of Romero on 24 March 1980, he
addressed the theme, Crosses and Resurrections in El Salvador: The
Wider North-South Divide and Our Vocation to Solidarity.

Download Lecture Here

Revolt?!

Posted: February 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

My friend woke me up this morning with a text message that read, "Did you check the news today???" I haven't talked to this friend for a little while, so a text of this kind seemed kind of important. Are there riots breaking out into the streets? Did biological warfare hit the U.S.? Or the economy… it's gotta be the economy… it crashed… capitalism is over! Then it hit me… Shit, Obama is dead isn't he?! I sprung out of bed and quickly opened my computer. NPR didn't seem to have a crazy story, hmm… DemocracyNow! seems to be running the same old daily stuff…  Man, I wonder what she is talking about?! So I sent her a text. A few minutes later I got a response. "A woman raised a chimp as a human and it attacked her best friend and ripped off her face!" 

This news was indeed crazy, but it wasn't quite up to par with my rising thoughts. The moments before I checked the news on my computer, my mind had been going over the possibilities of something catastrophic happening in America. A week ago, theologian and activist Jim Douglass was in my town talking about the JFK assassination. He has just released a new book, twelve years in the making, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. Why is matters, he says, is because it's gonna happen again. The situation in the white house is prime. The government killed Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Robert Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy for all the same reasons, and now it's Obama's turn. He is touring around the U.S. in order to wake people up to what he calls the "unspeakable," trying to make it so the same old tragedies won't be repeated. 

Last night I took part in a discussion about anarchism and the early christian church led by my friend Rio at a Presbyterian Student Center here in town. The discussion was good, but the overall vibe was kind of discouraging to me. Among the anarchists and radicals in the room, it seemed like any thought of a revolution, of an intentional struggle that confronts the dominating powers and unspeakable realities of our time, is too romantic of a thought. The trend seems to be lifestyle anarchism- don't mess with me, cause I don't like being told what to do. I don't like landlords, rent, new clothes, or showers. But I don't wanna stir up trouble either, I'm content to be let alone. 

It's interesting to me the kinds of people I encounter in the radical scene. People come from all different perspectives. Green anarchists who want to rewild, torch SUV's, and ignore any non-violent theories that get in the way of bringing down civilization. Christian anarchists who cling to non-violence nearly as closely as they do g-d. Syndicalists who want to spend all their time at work, organizing unions and a fair environment. Then their are the crusty traveling kids who live a fully diy life, setting an example to all of us stuck in 9-5 jobs that another lifestyle is possible. 
But I hardly ever encounter revolutionary anarchists or anti-authoritarians these days- people who want to change things not just for themselves, but for the world. The tendency among activists who do want change, seems to be to organize in a community setting, working to ensure a better life for a select few through community-run collectives and food-not-bombs-type endeavors. Don't get me wrong, these things are good.. great even! I do much of this work myself. But to me this is not the revolution, it's just practice. It's putting a band-aid on the problem temporarily, while we wait for real systematic change to take place. What I hope for is a day in which people will rise from their complacency, open their eyes to their own oppression and get upset about it. Oppression has become so normalized that it is overlooked. Sure there are levels of oppression. Blacks and minorities have it "worse' than I do as a white male raised in a middle-class suburb (I probably just lost cred to some). But what is not often realized is that there are also different types of oppression that escape the dualism of better/worse. There is blatant oppression and there is hidden oppression, or perhaps you could say, direct and indirect. Being raised in a suburb was oppressive to me. I was raised without understanding that there are other (better) ways of existing. I was forced to go to school everyday and sit in front of teachers who didn't care about me (some did, some really didn't), dying inside each day I was reprimanded for daydreaming of a better world. I inherited a life of consumerism and was blinded into thinking that this was the way of existence- go to school, graduate (you better graduate!), go to college, get married, get a job, and die. If you don't get a job, there is no way to survive. Without health care, you wont' survive. Don't bother yourself with unrealistic childhood fantasies about being a writer or an actress, or a musician- oh damn, not a musician, you will starve on the streets of New York playing songs for pennies… This was oppressive to me. It killed something inside of me that I have been struggling to resurrect. Some will see it as a hard argument to win, that being raised in a suburb is oppressive. But perhaps this is because it is so hidden. 28,000 people in the U.S. are on anti-depressants (and you know if Starbucks didn't exist that number would be twice as large… I guess there are good things about Starbucks after all!) I was one of those kids, and so were nearly all of my friends. A few of my friends attempted suicide, one succeeded. I handful of my friends cut themselves regularly. Other friends became mentally ill from anorexia, ran away from home to live on the streets, became prostitutes, etc. These are all good fucking kids that were brainwashed into believing that they didn't matter, that they didn't fit into normality, that their dreams were nothing but fantasies to be killed by reality… that's oppression!
How about another example of hidden oppression… rent. It's a popular anarchist complaint. As Derrick Jensen points out, if you stop paying rent, an armed man will show up to your house to force you out and arrest you. This is oppression! 
What about food? If you run out, tough luck. Though there is plenty of food in town, you cannot have it unless you pay for it. If you try to take it to feed yourself or your starving family, you will be taken away by a man with a gun and charged with a crime. This is oppression!
How about clothing? The same applies. 
So food, shelter and clothing- the 3 things widely agreed upon as the basic necessities of life, are not guaranteed to all. In fact they are violently withheld from many. This is oppression!  
These are not merely the facts of life. This is not just the way it is. This is oppression and must be confronted as such. I long for a day when people are awakened enough to care, and frustrated enough to act. 

So why don't people long for revolution? I think it has a lot to do with the indirect nature of our oppression. Even poor people in the ghettos and homeless woman on the streets are quite disallusioned to the fact that another world could ever be attainable. We have reserved ourselves to this fucked up life of misery, a society of the spectacle. Though I think that if shit really hit the fan, visibly, as I thought it might have this morning, people would rise up. Not all people by any means, but at least some- some of the same that are quietly complacent now. Biologically, we are wired to react to stimuli that is "right in our face." For most of human (pre)history we were nomadic hunter/gatherers who lived like the animals we are. We have evolved to pay closest attention to what is happening immediately ar
ound us. Are we being followed by a neighbor tribe? Does that bear plan to attack? When we, as civilized human beings are told that the landlord needs rent, we mumble disturbed words under our breathe and write a check, but if a man pulled a gun on us and asked us for our wallet, our reaction would not be so bland.  

I just watched the documentary about the youth revolt in Athens, Greece. In December, a 15 year old anarchist, Alexis, was shot and killed by a cop. This sparked massive revolts, riots, burnings, lootings and destruction all over Athens. The kids of Greece had been oppressed for so long and they new it. When the opportunity came, they rose up to claim the life that is theirs. The documentary includes writings from the kids. Many of them say these days are the first days that they have felt alive, that they have felt companionship, purpose and community. They came to the realization that organizing in small collectives in which everyone has a voice, being united by a common cause, and blurring the age-old dividing lines of race and gender, is the way to experience true freedom and true life. 

Last night the discussion about anarchism and the early church highlighted the fact that the early church was an underground movement. The Way (christianity) was illegal for the first 300 years of it's existence. Some say that when it became legal under Constantine is when it died as a movement. I think they are right. The early Christians surely felt this sense of camaraderie and purpose that the young anarchists in Greece are feeling today.  

What will it take for Americans to rise up? I often think that it is simply not going to happen unless something catastrophic, "in our face" happens. It is surely a tragedy that it may take something like this. I sometimes wrestle though my feelings, longing for catastrophe at the same time as praying that it doesn't happen. American capitalism will not last forever, the earth will not allow itself to be degraded for much longer without reacting, oil has peaked. But whether or not any of these crashes will take place in my lifetime is another story. I often think about how I am not rising up in any way. I blame it on the fact that I can't do it alone, but then am embarrassed by that excuse. I don't know what the answer to my rambling is. But perhaps there are others out there who feel similar, who are waiting for others to rise up, so they can join. 

Documentary of the Greece uprisings:

Indecent Theology

Posted: February 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

Today I came across an author, Dr. Marcella Althaus-Reid, who writes from the perspective of Indecent Theology, a new wave of Liberation Theology coming out of Latin America. Her latest book is called Queer God. One her website she says, "The Queer God is a call to 'disaffiliation' processes in theology. To be unfaithful to sexual ideological constructions of God in order to liberate God- a Queer God who also needs to come out of the closet of theologians of the status quo."  I have not heard of indecent Theology before, and I don't know if it is a widely discussed new form of theology or if it is Marcella's creation, but the idea of approaching sexuality and queer theory from a Liberation Theology/Marxist slant, highlighting the economic and social oppression of queer's is quite fascinating.  


The Hermeneutical circle of Indecent Theology:

  • Starts with Experience, but it does pre-define or dis-authorise what counts as experience. It starts with telling our stories in community, and this means our sexual stories too. It is an experience of 'coming out.'
  • It uses marxist analysis but also Queer Theory. Sexuality is not seen as pertitnent only to challenge the narrow definitions of humanity of many churches and theology but sexuality implies a way of thinking.
  • That way of thinking sexually (the classical dualism of heterosexuality; its passion for hierarchical role distribution) has consequences in our reflection and action on themes such as Globalisation.

What is the purpose of life?

Posted: February 15, 2009 in Uncategorized

I've been thinking a lot about my purpose as my move to Chicago draws ever closer. I feel like my purpose is a scattered array of different things, of things that bring me life, that bring me joy and that truly fulfill the inklings inside of me to do justice and walk humbly. I want to be an artist. I want to be a musician. I want to live in the heart of culture and art in the city, surrounded by people asking the same questions I am. I want to live in the recluse of the woods. I want to sleep under trees and get stung by bees. I want to love and be loved. I want to ride subways and I want to deface build boards. I want to sleep with the homeless and drink with the gay kids in boystown. I want to ride my bike. I want to travel with no bags. I want to start an infoshop, a bakery, a venue. I want to grow herbs and teach meditation. I want to burn incense and sing in the quiet of my own new house and I want to live with all my friends, old and new in the ruins of an abandoned building. I want to believe in g-d and the power of the universe and I want to find the strength to make it on my own, to find my true self, whether I find g-d there or not. 

With all kinds of contradictory desires running through my mind and my nerves, I have sort of come to the conclusion that what I want is to live.. to discover.. to create. Yet the older I get the more days there are that I am overwhelmed by my childhood dreams. My free spirit and naive tendencies are promises of my youth unfulfilled and I have no intention of breaking them. As economic cutbacks and a decreed reality hits scores of people in america, I can get disillusioned right along with them. But Im not ready to be disillusioned yet. I have principles to live up to that I intent to hold. I don't want to work for a living by doing anything that isn't fulfilling. I don't want to pay rent over 200 bucks. I don't want to need as much as yuppies are sure they need. My path is yet to be lived. If I find it too hard and give into the nihilistic tendencies of the world, then I will admit my childhood naivety, but that time is not yet…

for now its time to live…

nothing is inevitable, everything is possible.

My Plant Ally

Posted: February 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

I invoked a dream to find my plant ally. I did this by setting my intention to dream about it before going to bed. The first night I tried, it didn't seem to work. So I tried it again the next night, but still nothing happened. The third night, after I had done a ritual in which I invoked the seven directions and asked g-d to guide my herbal studies, I drank two cups of kava (which is said to give you vivid dreams), and went to bed. That night I dreamt that a man told me to go find a cedar tree! I have had a spiritual connection to cedar for a while, so I am not surprised that it is my ally. The cedar's of Lebanon were very important trees to the Hebrew people of the Jewish Bible. The Tree of Life is thought to be a great cedar. When the Christian Scriptures proclaim the final work of redemption they speak of the Tree of Life: “A river flowed down the center of the city and on either side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used as medicine to heal the nations.” Revelation 22:2 (NLT)

Cedar's covered the regions in which the Hebrews lived. These tall, strong trees, just like the great oaks, were seen as teachers (Genesis 12:6). The prophets often spoke out against the logging of these great trees. “How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased… The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. The cypress rejoice at you, the cedars of Lebanon saying: Since you were laid low, no woodcutter comes up against us.” Isaiah 14:3,7-8 

I have a connection to the Judeo-Christian story and a spirit of resistance. The Scriptures are full of images of cedar and imperatives to stop their destruction! 

I don't think that there are cedar trees in my area, but perhaps the cedar is my ally for other reasons- for spiritual reasons and also  medicinal. The Native Americans used it for headaches, toothaches, congestion and to relieve swelling. It's aroma is thought to invoke confidence and protection- to ward off unwanted energies and to ward off mosquitos and moths!