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.
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on March 1st, 2011″
Life is often circular. Things come and go. The seasons rage and pass every year, as does the sun, which rises and sets each morning and night. Humans, too, can show patterns in their actions. It has been more than six month since I began fasting for the month of Ramadan in mid-august. The experience was phenomenal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My body, mind, and soul were reawakened to the purpose of sacrifice, thankfulness, and global family. Ramadan, as I soon learned, was about being conscious, aware of the unjust realities that surround us, as well as the beautiful gifts that are shared with us everyday. Conscious consumption is the most ethical consumption, not just of food, but of all we come across in our lives. Utility is a blessing and that which is used must be treated as such. While one stomach remains hungry, all humans remain hungry. These were some of the lessons I learned during my experience with Ramadan.
Unfortunately, the most common of our human patterns is forgetfulness. The month of Ramadan was unbelievable. The weeks following, I was on my game, remaining conscious and living thankfully. As time went, though, I began to fall into my old habits; I began to return to a culture of unconscious consumption. My portions grew in size, my thoughts before, during, and after a meal were rarely on being thankful for sustenance or on my fellow human beings who would go to bed that night with empty bellies. I didn’t notice, however; I was in community with others who were just like me: asleep. Read the rest of this entry