Disgust. Shock. Outrage. Our country is in mourning. Our nation is truly lost. We are in a whirlwind of emotional upheaval, a rollercoaster of spiritual destruction. The lead up to the execution of Troy Davis has awakened this country to the thriving injustices and deep systemic issues of racism that are alive and well in the U.S. today. Tuesday and Wednesday have been particularly emotional, as more and more Americans began to realize the validity and personal impact of the statement “I am Troy Davis.” Whether people cared about the death penalty or not prior to the last few days, weeks, months, or years, starting Thursday morning, this country woke up to a new world, one of pain, confusion, and a greater need for healing than in recent years.
As I was sitting in my Pastoral Care and Counseling course at Chicago Theological Seminary, Tuesday night, I was tormented by the mixed feelings of pain, anger, confusion, and helplessness that were racing through my head and heart. I brought it up to the class, asking, “how do we as future pastoral caregivers grapple with this layering of emotions not just as they affect an individual or family, but also a community, nation, or the entire world? How can we be effective faith leaders in times of pain and grief when we’re confronted with cases as complex as that of Troy Davis?” We grappled with these questions for nearly an hour, with times of silence and utter-speechlessness scattered throughout the difficult reflection. Read the rest of this entry
“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Mystery. Mystery. Life is a riddle and a mystery.” These questions rest at the crux of spiritual reflection and religious identity. They are each very different questions, but together they create space for individuals, communities, nations, and the entire world to journey down a road towards enlightenment.
These questions are of particular importance to me, as a Unitarian Universalist, because this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the merger between the Unitarians and the Universalists. Each with rich, long histories of liberal religious theology and social justice ministries in this country, Unitarian Universalism stands today at a very unique crossroads, one that allows us to, in ways, avoid some of the mystery and consider the true possibilities of what the next fifty years may look like. Read the rest of this entry
I could hear my heart thumping, racing wildly, twisting and turning uncomfortably, wanting to get out. I squirmed in my seat, attempting to find that right position where I could both see, but also hide from what I was witnessing. My thoughts were all over the place, non-linear, even illogical at times. And my spirit was distressed, pained by the many words and experiences from the night. The concepts of patience and universal respect were hard for me to maintain last night as I sat in Cortelyou Commons with dozens of other DePaul students, listening to Ann Coulter discuss politics, religion, and other social issues.
Her talk was entitled, “What Your Professor Will Never Teach You,” a purposefully suggestive title, but relevant as some students at DePaul, namely the College Republicans who invited her, believe that 100% of Political Science professors at this school are either liberal or “something other than conservative.” While I am a bleeding heart liberal, any allegation of that nature inspires me to reflect on both its validity and what implications such a lopsided Political Science Department might have on the students within those classes (and if the trend is contagious, students from around the country). Ultimately, there is a much more serious and less logistical reflection to be had; I ask myself how do I, as a person of faith, react and respond to a person like Ann Coulter and the views that she expressed so forcefully last night.
A thunderous clap shook the congregation that sat this morning in the historic 2nd Unitarian Church of Chicago. It has been close to a month since I sat in the sanctuary of 2U, but the feeling of familiarity and community makes showing up there on any given Sunday morning a refreshing experience. I went with my girlfriend Hattie and good friend Rebecca to the service on a day that felt eerie, as if out of a science fiction film. A thick layer of fog enveloped the city, especially the tops of the high-rises along Lake Shore Drive. Then the rain came and as my grandmother used to tell me, “the angels were bowling again.”
This weather fit well into the themes presented in the service this morning. The sermon was titled, “The Blessings of Adversity.” The pulpit was filled by a guest speaker, a Loyola seminarian named Seth Fisher. A scruffy, skinny man in his mid-thirties, Seth shared stories about struggle and triumph in the midst of adversity, hopelessness, and darkness. He shared a powerful story of a time where he considered suicide as a path in life. He also retold the story of Aron Ralston, who was recently portrayed in the movie 127 Hours, starring James Franco. These powerful stories gave me an opportunity to reflect on the adversities I face in my life .