joy or moralism

[So far this term I’ve slipped from the discipline of sharing passages here. Perhaps now I’ll make up for the lack of words with a longer excerpt from Geez magazine. Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett team up to bring joy and relationship to the task of anti-racism.]:

The two of us have kicked off countless anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings by asserting, not half in jest, that “diversity trainings ruin well-meaning white people.”

It’s the whole moralistic ethos that focuses on getting everything right and avoiding what is wrong: Never use this word. Always use that word…

For this we blame personal piety and the distorted moralistic theology it rode in on. This theology is endemic to the North American colonial project and inseparable from white supremacy and racial capitalism…. The goal, always, is to be one of the good ones, which means avoiding everything bad, such as failure, mistakes, body, sweat, sex, the earth, illness, pain, depression, movement, darkness, dance, grief, rhythm, cathartic joy – in other words, “the funk”….

Joy finds no place in moralistic religion. Joy is messy, unpredictable, kinesthetic, embodied, and erotic. It blurs boundaries wherever moralism attempts to draw them. Joy is inextricably interwoven within a relational universe, and it insists that right action be worked out, not on the sterile surgical table of moralism, but in the steaming cauldron of relationship….

This joy is not measured, careful, pre-planned; it has nothing to do with trying to be good. Joy is not synonymous with a stable position or sense of certainty; it meets us in the unstable and literally “unsettling” journey of decolonization.

  • Lynice Pinkard and Nichola Torbett in “We Need the Funk” in Geez magazine.

joy and the glory of the small

[I felt a pang on reading about the “sound of friends talking in our home,” but I hope that you are all still finding some of these small glories available…]

Joy… is a spiritual engagement with the world based on gratitude. It’s not the big things that make me grateful and bring me joy. It’s more the glory of the small: a touch, a smile, a kind word spoken or received, that first morning hug, the sound of friends talking in our home, the quiet that surrounds prayer, the smell of sacred medicines burning, sunlight on my face, the sound of birds and walking mindfully, each footfall planted humbly on the earth.

  • Richard Wagamese, Embers

waiting for a funny old uncle this advent

[Thanks to Agnes Kramer-Hamstra for digging out this quote for Advent:]

What we are watching for is a party, and that party is not just down the street making up its mind when to come to us; it’s already hiding in our basement, banging on our steam pipes, and laughing its way up our cellar stairs. The unknown day or hour of its finally bursting into the kitchen and roistering its way through the whole house is not dreadful, it is all part of the divine lark of grace. God is not our mother-in-law coming to check and see if her wedding-present china has been chipped; He is a funny Old Uncle with a salami under one arm and a bottle of wine under the other. We do indeed need to watch for Him, but only because it would be such a pity to miss all the fun.

  • Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables of Judgement