Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Marches & Mennonites
a new thing, waters impounded
grounded, compounded into an
interest rate take and a fate of
being crated into bottles bound
for gated communities alone
entire blocks triple-rated
yielding swap payments to banking mavens
water department enslavement
to emergency manager craving...
Jim Perkinson, the strait is not straight (July 2014)
This week led us to Elkhart, Indiana, the home of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the annual Rooted & Grounded Conference. Tom delivered a paper he wrote on "watershed discipleship" and we got a chance to connect with some old friends from seminary (and elsewhere) and meet pastors and professors from around the country who are taking seriously the effects of climate change & what it might mean to live redemptively in the face of it all (photo below: Tom with Joel Shenk, fellow Fuller Seminary alum & pastor of Toledo Mennonite Church).
We drove to the conference with Jim Perkinson, a professor at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit and author of many books and articles. J-Perk, a white dude originally from Cincinnati, has a deep love for Detroit and a unique conversion experience to African-American culture. He is a spoken word poet and, along with steeping himself in the study & practice of indigenous understandings & life-ways, his talks & writings weave together hip-hop and rap lyrics with a careful Biblical reading strategy, which all come together to highlight & prod his audience toward more imaginative & faithful ways forward.
On Sunday, we participated in an International Day of Peace one-mile march from Feedom Freedom Farm (see above, urban farmers Wayne & Myrtle) on Detroit's Eastside to one of the recently constructed border "walls" separating the city from Gross Pointe (see below), a predominantly white suburb. We met residents of Gross Pointe at the border and gathered together at a town hall meeting in an old church building with no electricity. Residents vulnerably shared painful histories of how these border walls create feelings of inadequacy and inferiority in the city's mostly black residents, while many of the White suburban residents expressed a nagging sense of loss & disconnection from their sisters & brothers of Color.
All the residents spoke of desiring a more honest dialogue in order to address the long-standing & painful historical divide between city & suburb in the region. The march's organizers feel like it was a step in the right direction, the vigil itself being unprecedented in bringing city & suburban residents together to actually talk about these historical violations & issues of pain between them, but still much work remains...like tearing down the walls.
This week we also got started with our mid-week Lectio Divina Scripture reading in the neighborhood. This is an ancient Benedictine practice that we've thrived on over the past few years with our Manna & Mercy community in Southern California. We are looking forward to the unique combination of rooting ourselves more deeply in the biblical text, alongside digging more deeply into the text of our lives. Through this simple & ancient practice, we can already feel God planting seeds for deeper community in the rich soil of this already thriving neighborhood, and we are grateful to be a part of what continues to emerge.
Lastly, this week we remember Lindsay's dad on the 3rd Anniversary of his passing (09.21.11). He left too soon. We miss him. Our memories are still vivid: the work ethic, the love of family, the stories, the yearning for justice, the smile, the hair, the knee pads. His spirit remains with us all. Mike Lamont: Presente!