Rev. C.T. Vivian

On August 8th, 2013, President Barack Obama named C.T. Vivian as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with these remarks:

“C. T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.” 

Left to right, John Lewis, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, Martin Luther King Jr., and Lester McKinnie at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 4, 1964. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images.

UBUNTU – one’s own humanity is inextricably bound with that of others.
DESMOND TUTU

America has lost a great statesman and civil rights leader with the passing of Congressman John Lewis on July 17.  Less known was one of his and Martin Luther King’s spiritual advisors,  the Rev. Cordy “C.T.” Vivian who died at age 95 just hours after John Lewis. (1)

Much of present day Christianity (read: white Christianity) bases its theology on the tenet of ‘salvation’ and the hereafter.  Suffer or enjoy life in this world because there is assurance of an eternity in a heaven with palatial homes, gold paved streets and choirs of heavenly voices singing “hallelujah” forever and ever. Amen.

Unfortunately, African-Americans have not been able to share that dream of the hereafter.  Or, perhaps, it is fortunate as their earthly experience has led many black civic and religious leaders to present an alternate view of religion, specifically Christianity.

“They interpret religious teachings through the prism of the injustice in the here and now.” (1)

Speaking of King’s influence, John Lewis said:

“He was not concerned about the streets of heaven and the pearly gates and the streets paved with milk and honey. He was more concerned about the streets of Montgomery and the way that Black people and poor people were being treated in Montgomery.” (1)

What we do here matters, how we live matters, how we treat others matters.  We are ‘inextricably’ bound to every human on earth regardless of faith profession, absence of faith profession, skin color and nationality.  Somehow, Christianity, infused with the gospel of prosperity and exclusiveness, has missed that key ingredient of the teachings found in its scriptures related to us as the story of Jesus Christ in the NT.

We are ONE.  The African-American’s journey in this country enduring slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, discrimination and present day racism has invigorated within blacks the concept of UBUNTU as voiced by Desmond Tutu.

(1)  yes! journalism

 

Honoring the divine in every aspect of Creationcropped-candle.png

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

coming soon to your town

No, I’m not talking about a circus, a new movie release, a new box store.  Federal agents have invaded the city of Portland, Oregon ostensibly to quell the rioting ‘anarchists’ who, according to WH reports, are overtaking the city.  Local Portland and state of Oregon officials are saying the protests are mostly peaceful and demanding the feds get out of their city.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sued multiple federal agencies alleging agents in unmarked vehicles have grabbed people off Portland’s streets without a warrant in recent days.  USA TODAY

The AG says the tactics are similar to kidnapping.  Should we be surprised?  The same WH has caged children on our southern border, condoned police brutality publicly and excused the Charlottesville fiasco stating that there were ‘good people’ among the neo-Nazi torch carriers.

We can not afford to turn and look the other way, to be indifferent to the vile force posing as government protection.  Non-violent protest is our trump card.  MLK,Jr. and Gandhi have proven that violent government intervention cannot win over non-violence.  The feds can intimidate, kidnap, beat with billy clubs, and arrest, but cannot crush the spirit of non-violent protest.

In the 1960s and 1970s peaceniks and flower children led the marches.  The feds called my brothers and sisters cowards and communists.  But, old passions won’t die, will they?  We simply became older peaceniks.  We ended the Vietnam War and we got Civil Rights legislation passed.  We, the peacemakers, prevailed then and we can do so today.

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

cropped-mlk-3.png

 

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

indifference

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Speaking to a friend today, she shared her recent experience when her son and grandchildren came to visit.  Their conversation turned to the Holocaust.  Her 15 year-old grandson drew a blank stare of unknowing.  Looking to her son, my friend asked,  “He does know about the Holocaust, doesn’t he?”

“No,” replied the son, “they don’t teach it in school.”

They don’t teach it in school!  Over 6 million people were systematically murdered in one of humanity’s most wretched schemes of genocide less than a century ago….and they don’t teach it in schools.  Survivors have related their tales of horror at the hands of Nazi Germany, SCHINDLER’S LIST was an epic fact-based movie portraying the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany,  Elie Wiesel, several years after his release from Buchenwald, wrote in detail the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany…and they don’t teach it in schools.

Today I think about what I would do if the same thing happened in America.  Would I have the courage to stand up and defend a persecuted, demonized, scapegoated man with an odd last name, a Muslim woman wearing a niqab, a black man in dread locks, or a Hasidic Jew?  Of course, I would.

Oh, by the way, what if my country has embraced white nationalism and has become a bustling hub of neo-Nazism?  What’s the answer now?  “Well, that certainly will not happen,” I reassure myself.

Really?  Do we think that in Germany, in the early 1930s, the gentle, God-fearing, Lutheran citizens anticipated Hitler and a Nazi Germany with goose-stepping soldiers wearing swastikas on their arms would parade the streets, that Jews would be rounded up and put into death camps only a decade later?  Can we afford to be that naive?

And the question again is whether I would risk my life and liberty to defend someone less white than me, less privileged than me, someone who is Jewish, Muslim, or any of the others on the target list of white nationalists and white supremacists?   Or will I stand by the railroads and watch cattle cars loaded with humans pass by on the way to the ‘final solution’ and turn the other way?

  1. We must remember and teach to our children the sad episodes of human depravity including American slavery, the relocation of Native Americans, the unwillingness to aid the Jews in WWII, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
  2.  We must confront the cowardice of white supremacy and the neo-Nazi movement in America.
  3.  We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

The late Congressman John Lewis reflected in his remarks upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama:

“never get lost in a sea of despair…have this abiding faith that there are things that are so right, so good, so necessary that you are willing to die for…”

What mountain am I willing to defend?  What things so good, so right and so necessary am I willing to die for?

alone calm faith light
Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

not just another day, is it?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Are you having a good day today?  You came home at a decent hour last night or, in this covid-19 environment, you stayed at home with family and enjoyed a movie and quality time with loved ones.  You remember whom you were with, what you did, where your vehicle is this morning, don’t you?

Wasn’t always like that, was it?  The hangover, the nausea, the headache, the self-loathing, the empty wallet on the bedside table, the questioning – “why did I do that again?”

The BIG BOOK shares wisdom about the insanity of our alcoholism – doing the same thing again and again expecting different results.  Addiction does not change.  It is cunning, baffling and powerful.  It wants to see us dead, but will settle for an institution and insanity.

If you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand

sober emoji

May our lives be deeply blessed today.  It’s not just another day.

“The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”  NUMBERS 6:24-26

Tommy Tuberville

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

So one homophobe (Tuberville) beat out another homophobe (Sessions) in an Alabama Republican Senate Primary race.  Surprised?  The elections in November will pit Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach (read: no public service experience) against Senator Doug Jones, the first elected Democratic senator in Alabama in 25 years who pulled a stunning victory in a special runoff in 2017 against Roy Moore who was scandalized by assertions of sexual misconduct with minor girls. Dangit! Those Alabama Republicans certainly do have their sexual hangups, don’t they? https://www.glaad.org

Ahh, do we feel safer now in covid-laced America since the Administration has directed hospitals to “send data on Covid-19 patients, available medical equipment and other information directly to the Department of Health and Human Services’ data portal, instead of the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.”  It’s so comforting 😠 to know we need not worry – our government has this under control. https://www.cnbc.com

…..and speaking of government control, once again protestors in Portland, Oregon are being targeted by feds in unmarked vehicles, carted away without explanation to locations undisclosed.  The ‘law and order’ POTUS has ordered this action much to the dismay of city and state officials.  Hmmm, should we learn to goosestep, maybe? https://www.cnbc.com

RBG is again struggling with health issues.  Let’s share our strength with her and bring her to recovery.  Lord knows, we need her voice on the SCOTUS. https://www.iheart.com

 

freedom or license

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”  MARK TWAIN

GOD, GUNS, COUNTRY – I am moved to waves of nausea when I see this political sign in my neighbor’s front yard.  It does not matter which political affiliation is being endorsed.  How on earth can anyone associate God with guns with country?  Truly, if there is a rational answer, I do not see it.

I overheard while entering the grocery store, one of three first responders shopping for lunch say, “I’m not wearing any damned mask.”  Okay, you could say he was exercising his freedom, his 1st Amendment rights.  But is that a right if it infringes on the rights of the other shoppers who want to walk through the aisles safely with a modicum of protection from covid-19?  That fireman’s declaration of his freedoms is more accurately defined as ‘license’, a motivation driven by ego and self-centeredness.  Not a good thing, not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s not confuse freedom and license.

Nationalism is part of our political conversation these days.  Again, good or bad?  I am proud of my country’s people, of the diversity which melds us into one great society advocating justice and equality for all.  I love my country when it humbly takes its place as one nation among a multitude of other nations recognizing its virtues along with its sins.  On the other hand, I shudder when I hear, “America, love it or leave it,”  “America first,” “my country, right or wrong.”  

……and I still get nauseated when I have to look at my neighbor’s political sign, “God, guns, country.”  I suppose there are some things that are not meant for me to understand.

FACE MASK

 

GLAAD – ROSS MURRAY

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

Ross Murray is the Senior Director of Education & Training at The GLAAD Media Institute a founder and director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies. Ross is a consecrated Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with a specific calling to advocate for LGBTQ people and to bridge the LGBTQ and faith communities. 

Looking for inspiration to write today’s post, Ross Murray crossed my radar screen.  One of my morning reads is RED LETTER CHRISTIANS. ORG.  It’s commentary began with a verse from Isaiah 58, verse 1:

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.  Raise your voice like a trumpet.  Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.”

Mayor Pete, in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Presidency, often referred to the faith walk he and husband Chasten embrace in their lives.  Yes, America, many gays do profess a God and many choose to express that profession through Christianity.  Ron Murray, an advocate for the LGBTQ community, claims a calling to bridge the gap between us and faith communities.  The use of Isaiah 58, verse one, to urge us forward into action regarding social injustices is surprising as many Christians would use the same verse to condemn those of us who do not fit into the boxes which they have created for us.

Check out the link GLAAD MEDIA.  It’s another resource for the LGBTQ community. According to the home page of its blog –

“GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change.”

PRIDE7

 

perseverance

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

“Did you grow today?”

Well, yeah, as much as a nearly 73 year old man can expect to grow.  Actually, I am shrinking.  I stand 5’10 whereas a few years ago I was 5’11.  I wear a size 34 waist that was last year a 38.  So, maybe I have stopped growing.

“Did you grow today?” 

Dangit, where is that question coming from?  I maneuvered through the masked and unmasked crowds at my grocery store, I read the news headlines without losing my religion, I stayed within my diet plan…what do you mean, did I grow today?

“Are you feeling uncomfortable and unsettled about today’s problems with racism and white supremacy?”

Of course, I am.  I am very concerned regarding our nation’s course, about the lies we have been feeding ourselves.  I don’t like being a ‘privileged white man’.

“Good, then you did grow today.  Now, what will you do about it?”

Oh Lord, just how much do you want me to grow?

“Back off, sonny.  I ask the questions, you come up with the answers.”

From today’s reading in REDLETTERCHRISTIANS.ORG:

These uncomfortable and unsettling conversations we are having about racism and white supremacy aren’t really on the same scale as the trials endured by marginalized communities, and yet they are necessary. If you have felt unsettled by the news cycle and the reactions, good! That is what we, especially those of us with privilege need to experience, not just for endurance sake, but for the sake of our marginalized human family. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” JAMES 1:2-4

cropped-unshackled-3.png

lemonade, anyone?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

No, I am not going to bend your ears about my lemon trees in the back yard, although they are indeed worthy of mention.  And I am not going to share my life-long dream of having a lemonade stand out front by the highway.  I would need a county license, would have to file the income with the IRS, and would see an increase in my house insurance because of the added liability.  All for 25 cents a cup – I don’t think so.

What I will do is share the wisdom of Grandpa advising me how to respond to life when life was nothing but a basket of lemons.  “Make lemonade,” he said.  Grandpa loved homemade lemonade on a hot, summer afternoon after a hard morning’s work in the potato fields.

Richard Rohr @ cac.org would have loved my Grandpa.  A follower of the Franciscan order, Richard writes daily in his blog concerning issues that every earthly human faces in everyday life.  Traditional Christian theology promoting ‘salvation’ takes a back seat to sitting at the Jesus table experiencing all of life with all its complexities and heartaches.  At this table, where there is a seat for everyone, communing with society’s oppressed and downtrodden is more relevant to the faith walk than ascending the heaven-bound ladder of religion’s ‘thou shalt and thou shalt not.’

I think Richard probably loves lemonade too.  He talks about the covid-19 dilemma forcing us to self-quarantine, isolate socially and wear masks.  It can be a debilitating event in our lives or it can be an opportunity to focus on our families and loved ones at home getting to know them more intimately and lovingly.  We are learning to get by with less expensive amusement from outside sources and staying within the beauty, safety, and comfort of our home environment.  Virtual communication with family and friends via internet connections is not the bogeyman we all feared.  Conducting one’s job responsibilities from the home computer has distinct advantages (who needs an elaborate wardrobe to go to work or a shiny car to commute?)

And as we address the world’s other potentially debilitating problems….MAKE LEMONADE.  The lemons being harvested from a corrupt and dysfunctional political system have brought civics to our supper tables nationwide.  Remember civics class in high school?  Yes, we talked about the rights and duties of citizenship.  We remembered that many people living under authoritarian or dictatorial governments don’t have civics class because they don’t have rights.  Ahhh, another glass of lemonade, please?

Or consider the pot of racism simmering on the back burner for decades which is now being addressed honestly and openly.  Those sour fruits from the white supremacist factions of our society have surfaced under an accommodating Administration forcing an uncomfortable self-inventory – am I a racist?  Many of us before this revelation would have summarily replied, “Hell no, I have a bunch of friends who are Negro.”  More lemonade, maybe, with a large twist of humility?

And while we’re on a roll, let’s look at our country’s rampant, materialistic economy which is enriching a handful of corporate pockets while an overwhelming majority of our population lives pay check to pay check.  Do you really believe the wealthy are scrimping and saving like most of us are during this virus-forced economic downturn?  No, they continue to turn a profit hand over fist.  Perhaps this time of pandemic is the time we take stock of our materialistic excesses and embrace simplicity as a better way for us and for our earth.  Our society has refused to do this voluntarily, but perhaps now with a simpler lifestyle forced upon us, we will realize it is not the end of the world.

There it is in a nutshell – my love for lemonade.  We can continue to lament the ‘way things used to be’ or we can anticipate with excitement and expectation a new way which tells us the earth is overflowing with bounty and goodness and lots of lemons.

copyright unshackled

 

 

good news…..I guess

cropped-unshackled-3.png

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

SCOTUS decision

By a vote of 7-2, our SCOTUS denied the bid of our POTUS to reign supreme over the justice system.  Check out the link above from YES MAGAZINE for the details.  No, we are not yet out of the woods threatening our democracy, but there is a glimmer of hope shining through the circus which has become our government.

cropped-movie-star.png