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.

this tiny plot of land

When money is the goal, everything that cannot be translated into its terms gets squeezed out. The same happens with war, of course, and with any campaign toward a grand unitary goal. If you have ever been a crusader to save the world, you may have noticed how the little things that make life rich get deprioritized and squeezed out….

Environmentalism is reduced to a numbers game. We as a society are comfortable with that, but I think the shift we must make is deeper. We need to come into a direct, caring, sensuous relationship with this forest, this mountain, this river, this tiny plot of land, and protect them for their own sake rather than for an ulterior end. That is not to deny the dangers of greenhouse gases, but ultimately our salvation must come from recovering a direct relationship to what’s alive in front of us.

  • Charles Eisenstein, The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

[On this St. Patrick’s Day, this prayer seems especially appropriate. This is the version from the Northumbria community.]

Christ, as a light
Illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

building community

I have learned that when plants put roots into the soil, their roots do not simply suck water and nutrients out. They share. They build community. They put out sugars, proteins and carbohydrates—“cakes and cookies”—
that gather and feed a communion of microfauna, whose activities hold and return nutrients that the plants themselves cannot make, at just the rate and amount that they require. The most important thing in good soil is
not nutrition, but biology. Or, to say the same thing: the richness known to plants is not an abundance of stuff, but an abundance of relationship.

– Marcus Peter Rempel, Life at the End of Us Vs. Them: Cross Culture Stories

rejecting the legal fiction of “discovery”

[Excerpts from a statement (and not guilty plea) from one of those found guilty today and sentenced to a week in jail by the Supreme Court of BC as a result of his stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples resisting the Trans Mountain Pipeline]:
We were invited as people of prayer to join those who were lifting their  hearts in ceremony on the frontlines. We were invited to ponder, in that contested space, what our commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action mean — including Call #49 (the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery) and Call #48 (the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ). But we were also invited to act; to stand up in solidarity and support the peaceable struggle against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through untreatied Tsleil-Waututh lands and waters.

And so I did.

I chose to act because at the center of the Christian faith lies the conviction that the Creator suffers with the oppressed; that God takes sides with the victims over-against the dominant powers; and that the people who see the issues of our day most clearly are those pushed to the sociopolitical margins.

I chose to act because my church has publicly rejected the legal fictions of Discovery and together with communities of faith across these lands, has committed itself to “a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, based on sharing, respect and the recognition of rights and responsibilities.”
– Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada. Click here for complete statement including footnotes for the above.