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30 November 2009

Bah Humbug!

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love the festivals of Incarnation: Annunciation (and its overlap with Good Friday, then the long silent gestational unmarked season until) Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. I hate the commercializiation of Christmas.
What, I wonder, would happen if everyone who celebrates Christmas bought their gifts after Christmas to give on Epiphany, emulating the traveling sages?
I love blue and purple and white and gold. I don't like red and green (together; OK I like red).
I love Christmas carols and hate Christ-less holiday seasonal music/muzak.
I hate seeing Christmas decorations the day after Halloween - I love the Feast of All Saints and miss the Feast of All Souls.
And I dislike the syncretization of Christmas with Yuletide.

I love Christ-Mass and Advent wreaths and candles and angels and children's choirs and congregational singing. I love the themes of light and hope and peace and joy and the penitential themes: repentance and restoration and fear and death.

Come, holy child, come.
Transform our world, our hearts, our churches into Your Church.

16 November 2009

Veterans (and Armistice) Day

One day we will celebrate our veterans without new ones waiting in the wings.
In the words of Isaiah 2:4~
God shall judge between the nations,
and shall mediate between many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

One day. But not today. Today Joel's voice (3:10) is louder~
Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”

Let us honor our veterans by working for peace as though
- and since - our lives depend upon it.
Let there be peace on earth.

12 November 2009

Who Is Killing Black Women?

Who isn't? Some days I feel endangered. Not just like an endangered species. But endangered myself. Not from any one I know or see around me, but from the world at large.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
the leading cause of death among black women between 25 and 34 is HIV/AIDS;
HIV/AIDS is also the third leading cause of death among black women between 35 and 44;
HIV/AIDS is also the fourth leading cause of death
among black and latina women between 45 and 54.
The vast majority of those women are infected by intimate partners, in many cases by men they trust and believe are monogamous. There are women who are coerced into unprotected sex with their partners and women who are raped.
In some cases, if those women seek medical care for their rape trauma, they may find themselves denied medical insurance later if they are treated prophylactically for HIV/AIDS. (Lack of medical insurance does not enhance life expectancy in our world.)
Other women - black, brown, beige and white are being killed outright by their partners.
Murder is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and pregnant black women are three times more likely to be murdered than pregnant white women.
Anthony Sowell, the alleged serial killer in Cleveland OH is the primary suspect in the murders of at least eleven black women whose bodies have been found in and around his home. Some of the missing women were not reported as missing others were and their cases were not CNN-MSNBC-Nancy-Grace headline worthy. Missing black women do not receive the same media attention as missing white women.
There has been some discussion in the aftermath of the Sowell discovery as it overlaps with the execution of John Allen Muhammad for the serial sniper killings in the Washington DC area in 2002 of occurrence of black serial killers. Are there really fewer black serial killers than white (or those from other ethnic groups)?
If it is the case that serial killers generally (although certainly not exclusively) target members of their own ethnic communities, then does it matter that the likely majority of black serial killers' victims are - and will be - black women? Does anyone care?
Who is killing black women? It is horrifying to consider that in many, many cases, the killers of black women are black men.
Black men are supposed to be our cultural bulwark: fathers, uncles, elder brothers; fulfillment of romantic dreams: lover, friend, partner, partner, companion and our co-journers and sojourners in the struggle: brothers and brothas. And many are all that and more.
Yet there are these predators, who devalue the lives and bodies of black women and meet little cultural opposition. They are out there. And they are dangerous. They are killing us.
Late addition: I have to add that black women also kill black women. And some mothers kill their daughters before they can grow into women. I don't know who is responsible for killing five-year old Shaniya Davis, but the thought that her mother is implicated in prostituting and trafficking her is heartbreaking.

02 November 2009

Celebrating the Saints

For all the saints...
I am so grateful to God for the saints who made it possible for me to be, and to be here. I am also grateful for those who are not my ancestors or relatives but whose sacrifices - sometimes unwilling, sometimes outright murder - crafted this world and this Church on a foundation cemented with bodies, blood and bone: I bless you on this day.
On this Festival of the Saints I remember those whose names are known to none but God alone and call them blessed: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Canaanites and all conquered peoples who lost land and life in the name of someone else's god: I bless you on this day.
Members of every subjugated nation under the heavens living and dying under imperial tyranny: I bless you on this day.
Women and girls whose bodies are regularly broken, broken open, broken into, so that men can feel like men: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian martyrs of the Crusades: I bless you on this day.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian martyrs of the Inquisition: I bless you on this day.
Christians killed by other Christians in the name of Reformation and Counter-reformation: I bless you on this day.
Native peoples of every continent hunted to extinction, confined to reservations, categorized as wildlife, commercially exploited, trivialized and mocked: I bless you on this day.
Witchy women and crafty children murdered by men in the name of fear called God: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Holy martyrs of the Ma'afa: I bless you on this day.
Sun-kissed children of Africa, a long way from home, building a nation that reviled and rejected you even as it depends on you: I bless you on this day.
God-wrestling people of God baked in ovens built, tended, emptied and resupplied by those who called themselves Christian: I bless you on this day.
African victims of genocide perpetrated by Africans: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
Palestinian sisters and brothers living under Apartheid's reanimated corpse-regime: I bless you on this day.
Central and South American migrants whose labor is needed while their persons are despised and rejected: I bless you on this day.
Child saints whose tiny bodies cannot withstand the violence raining down on them from adults and sometimes from other children: You holy saints of God, I bless you on this day.
The words to James Weldon Johnson's world-renowned anthem (with the first verse concluding) are my psalm of praise on this All Saints Day.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.