FUNNY AND SAD

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Depressed, isolated, worried about winter and the looming election – many of us are struggling with these things and could use a little good news as well as some laughs!We’ve already got sad – during this pandemic many people report feeling depressed, isolated and hopeless.

But how about funny? Let me help you with that.

Idolatry is a theme in Sunday’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures. The Israelites are impatient and bored, waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain where he has been for forty days, chatting with God. So they pool their resources and make a golden calf and carry it around on a little float while a major party takes place. It’s funny and sad and not bad cinematography for the 1950’s. If you want to watch the clip, it’s readily available on google. Frankly, the spectacle reminds me a little of some Super Bowl half-time…

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If only all lives really DID matter…

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THE HOLY PASSION OF JOHN LEWIS

epistlesandepiphanies

(John Lewis, bottom right)

By the Rev. Barbara Mraz

“He’s the only person I’ve ever heard preach after the reading of Christ’s Passion (on Good Friday) who had himself been beaten by the authorities in his own day. “

Like Jesus, beaten and bloodied, his skull cracked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. And yet he said this in the sermon: “Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet…. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light.” (Facebook post from Scott Walker, Episcopal priest)

Blood and guts, beatings during a protest about voting rights or about police brutality, these are the visceral, visible and concrete examples of the cost of standing up for justice. They are familiar images for us today.

Sunday’s Gospel is pretty direct, too, telling tells us that we have to search for…

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Octavia Knew

Read about Octavia Butler

epistlesandepiphanies

by The Rev’d Craig Lemming

“… as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…” – Matthew 13:23

“I hope people who read Parable of the Sower will think about where we seem to be heading – we the United States, even we the human species. Where are we going? What sort of future are we creating? Is it the kind of future you want to live in? If it isn’t, what can we do to create a better future? Individually and in groups, what can we do?” – Octavia E. Butler, May 1999

If you’ve wondered whether Octavia E. Butler’s work is worth reading, watch this four-minute clip about the MacArthur genius who envisioned “a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, and a hypocrite” elected to “make America great again” in her 1998 novel Parable of the…

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Beethoven + Bridgetower: Redeeming History by Reclaiming Footnoted Black Lives

epistlesandepiphanies

by The Rev’d Craig Lemming

Thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself…

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CORN AND CONVERSATION

epistlesandepiphanies

So what advantages did you get from things that you are now ashamed of?

No, these are not the words from the latest journalistic piece asking you to examine your white privilege.

They are words from tomorrow’s Epistle, Romans 6:12-23.

Talk about timely. So often Scripture works that way, I have found.

I am preaching tomorrow and it will be about the words of Jesus in which he lays out the importance of welcoming the other.

See? Told you.

Below is a tortured section of a sermon I preached in 2016, shortly after the shooting of Philando Castille, an event that traumatized much of the city. It is a good prelude for what I’ll try to say tomorrow.

 I shop in Midway since I like the diversity there. The day after Philando Castile was shot, the air seemed more charged than usual. I was looking at some sweet corn at…

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Whiteness, Microaggressions and Me

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Freedom, Dignity, and Social Justice: What Contract Teachers in Morocco Want

Hassan Moudaine, an English teacher in Morocco, recently answered questions about the non-violent teacher strike in his country. When the strikers demonstrate on the streets, they chant “Freedom, Dignity, and Social Justice,” which are universal human rights. The government response is to send in police to disperse the strikers by beating them and knocking them down with water cannon.  The strike has gone on since March 3. The government has not yielded.

Contract teachers are typically young, are hired on short-term contracts, stay at the same low pay grade they attained when hired, and have no pension and health care benefits. Scale 9 is the pay scale that they are on for years They want to advance to at least scale 10 and to have regular upgrades like non-contract teachers who also have pension and health care benefits.

  1. How does being a contract teacher affect your quality of life?

It is really difficult to be a contractual teacher here in Morocco where everyone does not respect you and think you are third degree teacher, we experience this maltreatment from headmasters, principals, senior teachers, students, and society. This situation affects our life psychologically and financially in the sense that we feel stressed every time we come to classes to teach children and young learners which impacts our performance badly. Speaking financially, even though we do our best to enlighten our dear students, we are always afraid of being fired for no reason, the only reason is we are contractual. A lot of contractual teachers cannot be equal to fellow senior teachers, cannot get loans, cannot establish a family, cannot have the right of national movement across the country.

  1. How does being a contractual teacher affect your sense of dignity, worth, and freedom of choice?

The freedom of choice was taken from us the first day the government imposed on these creative, talented teachers contracts of slavery which chained teachers’ ambition and motivation to serve the students who most of them come from low-class or underprivileged families. We contractual teachers are treated terribly from some people in the field of education in Morocco, because our only sin is contractualism which does not guarantee any right possible a teacher can have. Contractual teachers feel inferior when they are in school and the street; they live under pressure all the time because they are worthless in the eyes of government, education secretary, and society. We were left with no choice unemployment or contracts of slavery.

  1. Do you experience yourself as someone who wants to teach and feels alive when teaching?

Teaching was my dream since I was at middle school, because I was inspired by my sport teacher who helped and guided me a lot. I feel so happy when I am going to school, when I am in school I feel alive, I feel I am home; I always belive school is where I belong. Being in the classroom drives me to give all I have; to do the best I can. I only want to teach and inspire children and teenagers. I teach values, principles, and motivation so that they can be confident, creative, passionate, and leaders of the future who will make a difference in the society.

  1. Do you have stories to tell about your experience of teaching?

Contractual teachers sacrifice their money and time for teaching students for example, I created an English club at my high school where I volunteer when I am not working in which I organize reading sessions, creative writing, spelling bee, public speaking, and many other activities because I love being among students to develop their skills. Actually I helped and guided students who wanted to drop out to come back to school, I have also encountered lots of students who were in difficult circumstances to focus on their studies so that they can be good citizens.

  1. What is your experience and the experiences of others regarding the government’s response to your strikes and advocacy?

We teachers who are forced to be contractual belong  to one and only body which is the National Coordination of Teachers who are forced to be contractual, we believe that our strikes and sit ins should be reacted by solving this problem not violence like what happened against us in the peaceful march on 20thFebruary 2019, this is not the way the government should take with teachers who normally should be in classes teaching the leaders of tomorrow. Our strikes, boycott, and sit ins are ongoing until we get what we want. These contractual teachers want only integration in the public service so that they can have professional stability and social security.

  1. What do you think are the reasons for the policies that create contractual teaching?

The government wants to get rid of free education, public school, and public hiring. The government does not want to spend more budget on education, even though it has launched many reforms  which cost millions of  dollars nothing changed the situation is getting worse every year. If the public school is sacked, Moroccans will not find any school for their kids. These families cannot afford to send their kids to any private school, if it is the case these kids will turn into criminals and gangsters so we are the only defenders of these rights, we are  the only hope of the Moroccan people to save free education and public school.

  1. Who benefits from the current policies?

The government has a plan with the world bank to reduce the number of teachers in exchange of more loans. Consequently, they can easily sell the Moroccan school to private lobby in Morocco, this lobby is growing dramatically in the country; they want to make education a commodity. private school owners are the only one who benefits from these wrecking policies, because they take advantage of the situation to attract more families.

  1. Are the teachers who are striking following principles of non-violence?  If so?  What are the principles?

We teachers, under the guidance of our national coordination of teachers who are forced to be contractual, believe in peace, dialogue, communication, and ethics. We use respectful chants to send messages to the governments to solve this problem which is integration in the public service. We always guide teachers to behave themselves when we are in a march. Also we respect the environment and animals during our protests. We don’t harm security forces nor people nor properties.

My Final Thoughts

The striking teachers in Morocco are showing the world how to respond to injustice. They will persist because they believe in dignity, worth, and human freedom not only for themselves, but for students, and for the common welfare. Jane Gilgun

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Not On My Watch–But the Horror is There Anyway

I am undone. National politics in the US and the unrelently cold and ice of Minnesota, USA, have done me in.  My personal life is fine.  In order not to foam at the mouth or the equivalent, I am meditating at least an hour a day. This is not sweet light meditation but allowing myself to visualise national and personal horrors. The daily personification of evil that plays 24/7 on all media has me undone. Without serious, conscious effort, I would be a dysregulated mess.  The personifications of evil activate every loss, hurt, and sadness I have experienced over my lifetime.  So, in my meditation, I also let images of them flow.  I also exercise, eat well, and spend time in activities that I enjoy.

I never could have imagined living in times such as these. I never imagined that the violence i have sought to understand form decades  would flare up into a daily maelstrom.  What I’m trying to say is that the most horrific cases of violence that I have witnessed through soliciting life stories of men in prison have no match to what I am witnessing on the political scene today. The men who are setting national policy and their woman enablers are commitng more acts of evil than the convicted felons I’ve interviewed since 1985. I am struggling to handle this reality that is in my face every day and every minute.

I have interviewed persons who have committed mass murders, murders, attempted murders, rapes with various kinds of physical violence, child sexual abuse, street violence, bestiality. I have images of a man ejaculating on a woman’s face during a rape, a young man strangling his own toddler children, a man raping a young woman after strangling her–all of these stories and all of these images are active.

The politicians are commiting acts of evil against my life, and as a witness to these acts of evil, I am struggling.

It is well-documented that people who witness violence suffer similar effects of those who are the direct targets.

 

 

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Turtle Tours on Turtle Island

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on Sojourning Smith:
In my tour guide role, I had the privelege to share some of my very favourite special places with a Canadian client this weekend. Suzy says she is doing a ‘Turtle Tour’. She saved for…

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