Monday, September 24, 2018

Preaching As Resistance

Back in December, colleague and FB friend Phil Snider sent me this message:
Hi Susan, I hope all is well, or at least as much as it can be in times such as these. I'm wondering if you would consider submitting one of your sermons ("Good News vs. Fake News: La Lucha Continua") for a book of sermons I'm editing, with the title Preaching as Resistance. I'm not sure how I first came across the sermon, but as soon as I read it I immediately thought it would be an excellent fit. Would you have an interest in being a contributor to this book? Many thanks for considering!
I said I'd be honored ... and the book is now a reality: Preaching as Resistance is not only out -- it's
the #1 new release in preaching on Amazon.

I could not be more delighted to be part of this book offering an alternative narrative to those who think they know enough about Christians not to want to be one ... and given the dreadful news in the current news cycle, who could blame them? When "Christian Values" are hijacked not only to support the Predator-in-Chief in the White House but to bully women who come forward with their stories of sexual abuse and assault we can and we must stand up and speak out together -- and I am proud to be part of a cohort of preachers modeling that prophetic witness in these challenging times.

And -- on a personal note -- I am thrilled that "Good News vs Fake News" ... the sermon Phil included in the book ... tells the story of my late mother-in-law Jody's dogged persistence in standing up and speaking out for the values that dominated her life: love, compassion and inclusion. Even as she struggled with a chronic, terminal illness, Jody called her Nevada Senator's office every single day to advocate for healthcare, immigration reform and equal protection for all Americans.

We continue to celebrate her life -- and the lives of so many others on whose shoulders we stand -- as we continue to persist, resist and insist that respecting the dignity of every human being is both a foundational Christian and American value.

Preaching as Resistance is a book celebrating the vision of Christianity built on the love, solidarity, justice, and hope at the heart of Christ -- a much needed antidote to the violence, authoritarianism, and exploitation associated with the demagogues of our world.

I hope you'll rejoice and be glad in it.

I hope you'll consider purchasing a copy -- or two -- and I hope you'll spread the word.

But most of all I hope that as we resist together ... through our preaching, our praying, our witness and our action ... we will be the change we want to see as we work together to bring hope and healing to our beautiful and broken world.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Storm Surge of Systemic Misogyny

Listening to the back-to-back coverage of the two stories leading this morning's news I was struck by the parallels between managing the twin disasters of a hurricane named Florence and a Supreme Court nominee named Kavanaugh.

They are both in-and-of-themselves catastrophic events that carry the capacity to wreck havoc. The hurricane -- with its wind, rain and floodwaters -- threatens all those living it its wake along our Carolina coast. And the Supreme Court nominee -- with the potential to dismantle decades of progress on equal protection, women's health care, abortion rights and voting rights (just to name a few) -- threatens all those who hold liberty and justice for all as a core American value.

But even more devastating than the initial threat of these twin catastrophic events is the storm surge that follows in their wake.

In the Carolinas it is the ongoing surge of flood waters that have yet to crest and do their worst ... displacing families, destroying businesses, changing landscapes and continuing the destruction long after the storm itself has dissipated and is no longer discernible on the weather radar map.

And it is a storm surge that not only includes the water that dumped from the heavens or surged from the sea ... it includes the toxic waste from hog farms which floods out of lagoons intended to contain it into the ground water of surrounding communities with devastating results.

Likewise, the storm surge from this highly contested Supreme Court nomination -- a nomination fast-tracked by the GOP majority in a process that has included half-truths and outright lies; unreleased documents and unprecedented procedures -- has the potential to continue to do its worst if this patently unfit for office nominee is confirmed to a life-time appointment to the highest court in the land.

And -- like the toxic waste that contaminates the Carolina storm surge -- the flood waters of division and partisanship surrounding this nomination have unearthed the toxic waste of systemic misogyny  that lies as close to the surface in this patriarchal nation of ours as the pig waste does to the ground water in North Carolina.

The quotes referenced above by sitting Senators who dismiss the testimony of a woman coming forward at great personal risk to tell her story of abuse are symptomatic of that storm surge of systemic misogyny that is just as toxic, that stinks just a much and is just as great a danger to our body politic as all the pig poop in North Carolina.

As a nation we deserve a full hearing of the actual facts of what occurred between Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford all those years ago -- not a rush-to-judgment perpetrated by GOP partisans so blind to their own patriarchal privilege that they can't even see that they're up to their knees in a cesspool of sexism.

We can and must do better than this. We can and must insist that we are better than this. And if we are ever to become a nation where liberty and justice for all is not just a pledge we make but a reality we live, we can and must stop this storm surge of systemic misogyny -- and we must do it now.

Celebrating Good News From Newark

With the chaos, division, and unrelenting cycle of bad-to-worse news that dominates the world around us it is such a delight to have touchstone moments to remember that good things happen, change is possible and there is both hope and healing.

Tomorrow the Diocese of Newark will team up with the Holy Spirit to consecrate a new bishop for their diocese and for the Episcopal Church as  Carlye J. Hughes — an African American woman from the Diocese of Fort Worth who was elected on the first ballot  — becomes the  eleventh Bishop of Newark.

And anyone who knows anything about the Episcopal Church will know that those words are proof once again that with God nothing is impossible. If this can happen anything can happen. We can be the change we want to see. We can be part of moving that arc of history toward justice. We can make a way where there is no way. Si se puede ... yes we can.

Mazel tov Carlye and Newark and TEC.

More on the September 22nd Consecration:

  • The consecration on Saturday will be livestreamed here by NJPAC's professional team starting at about 10:30 AM, when the pre-service music begins, and continuing until the service concludes at about 1 PM. 
  • You can also download the program for the consecration service and follow along. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9/11 Seventeen Years Later

Tuesday was the morning I didn't lead chapel. Monday was a late EfM night for me and so on Tuesdays our principal led chapel for the K-6th grade students of St. Peter's Parish Day School and I came in later in the day.

So on Tuesday 9/11/2001 I got up later than usual, poured my cup of coffee and settled into the "big chair" in the living room to watch a little morning television. And -- like so many others who I've heard had a similar reaction -- at first I thought I'd stumbled on a rerun of some kind of disaster movie. Except it was on all the channels. And it wasn't a movie.

And I watched as the second plane hit the Twin Towers.
And I got dressed and went up to St. Peter's and led chapel.
And I fielded calls from parents who wondered how to talk to their kids.
And I called parishioners who had family members traveling and didn't know where they were.
And I listened to the eerie silence over the San Pedro peninsula as the airspace was shut down.
And I called my kids. And my mom. And my best friend. And I told them I loved them ... just in case.
And I tracked down our rector (Alan Richardson) who was in New York City on sabbatical and found out that he was OK.
And I met with our parish leadership and we called everyone in the parish to tell them we'd be having a service at 7pm.
And we gathered. And we prayed. And we cried. And we waited to see what would happen next.

The next day ... September 12th ... our kindergarten teacher brought me a drawing one of her students -- Ben -- had made that morning, It was a typical kindergarten assignment -- draw something "alike" and something "different."

And here's what Ben drew:

It remains for me -- seventeen years later -- a reminder that the world that is is not yet the world that God would have it be.

And it remains for me -- seventee years later -- a profound gift that in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11 a child opened his box of still-sharp-for-the-new-school-year Crayola Crayons and drew an icon of hope.