I find myself trying to sustain a lot of “tensegrity,” and decided that one way to live creatively in the midst of that is to try and journal regularly about the various paradoxes I find myself within. “Tensegrity” is a word Buckminster Fuller once coined — “tension” + “integrity” = “tensegrity.” He used it to describe the incredibly stable nature of the structures he could build by holding competing forces together while respecting their integrities. I like to use it to describe what it is to be a person of faith living in a global media culture.
The last few days have been wild and surreal here in the Twin Cities. I think it will be years before I fully grasp all that I am trying to hear and learn. I am deeply grateful that the MN State Office of Human Rights has started a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis police department over the past ten years.
But a couple of pieces this week really resonated with me. This essay which talks about an analysis The Marshall Project did on police and protests is very helpful. It points out how de-escalation tactics on the part of police work and are very important — and yet, even knowing that, how rarely police use them.
There is also emerging support for thoughtful ways to film the police, and I found this piece helpful.
This blog is written by a white Christian woman (and that is what I am, although that label makes me cringe), and it explores how a certain kind of “good white Christian” can turn use good intentions to end up impacting people with paternalistic racism.
And the National Museum of African American History and Culture has released a rich web portal full of resources for talking about race.
This was going around facebook this morning. I want to amplify it by re-posting it here.
I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Year’s (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawfordIII)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.
#Black Lives Matter
Last night was a long night. I went to sleep to sirens and helicopters, and I woke up to sirens and helicopters. Eric went out on an early morning bike ride, and texted back photos of the destruction in our neighborhood. Our Speedway gas station, one block from our house) was burned down.
Here we go again. On Monday of this week Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin arrested George Floyd, and used a restraint hold (kneeling on his neck) that either killed him outright, or certainly contributed to his death.
On Tuesday there were large protests and a march that for the most part were very calm and peaceful, until the very end when eye witnesses noted young white males involved in property damage at the police station in precinct three. The police moved in with riot gear, tear gas, mace, and rubber bullets.
On Wednesday the protests devolved into angry confrontations with burning of buildings, looting, and destruction of a largely immigrant-owned small business neighborhood.
This morning the Twin Cities are in anguish. Four police officers who were at the scene of the original arrest have been fired. The mayor of Minneapolis and the Chief of Police have asked both the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) and the FBI to investigate. The National Guard has been called out.
We must lament, and we must act.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It is past time for large numbers of us to learn the skills and discipline of nonviolent civil protest. Until all of us are free — and that means healthcare for all, housing for all, good schools for all, real democracy — people will be forced to express their very real and legitimate anger and anguish in these ways.
God help us. Lord have mercy on us.
I had the opportunity to “visit” a number of churches this past Sunday, as friends put up online what they were doing. It was wonderful! And it was really great to be able to go to my mom’s church (she’s been the organist there for fifty years!), and hear Rev. Nancy offer a highly engaging children’s time, even through live streaming.
I was struck, vividly, by the creativity of these pastors — all of whom openly acknowledged that they don’t know what they’re doing, and they hope their communities will learn and experiment with them.
It reminds me of the early days of seminaries putting classes online, where faculty felt free to say that they didn’t know how to teach online — so they were open to learning about pedagogy. And that learning, in turn, transformed their regular classes as well.
I think it’s entirely possible that on the other side of this pandemic church leaders will have learned some very important lessons that they will bring back to what we might have called “typical” worship in years past.
In the meantime, I’m collecting some resources for worshipping communities on my COVID-19 page.
Lent has always been a time of reflection for me, catalyzed in a variety of ways. This year, in the middle of a pandemic, I’ve been particularly moved by the daily email meditations that come from the Center for Action and Contemplation (Richard Rohr and community).
I find music to be a crucial source of comfort these days, and I keep returning to this song (and its video images) as I try to breathe into oneness this Lent. My prayer is that this terrible global crisis will bring us more deeply into communion, and make us more thoroughly aware of our interdependence.
Updates and information:
I have moved my resource collection to its own page and will be updating there.
I am doing fine — my cold is slowly receding — and we are finding ways to stay connected while hunkered down at home. I want to start collecting the most useful pieces I’ve come across, rather than simply allowing them to fly through my facebook stream. So here is a list:
A good basic “explainer” from Vox
Visualizations that help us to understand why we need to “flatten the curve”
Understanding some of the data
The Imperial College of the UK’s report, which finally triggered our federal government to do something]
A reminder from the head of Andover Newton at Yale Div to keep our priorities in order: “(first) safety, (second) emotional well-being, (third) keeping our institutional gears turning, and (where possible) taking advantage of teachable moments.”
Fair use and emergency remote teaching
Tips on reporting on COVID19 and preventing misinformation
We need all of us
James Martin, SJ on faith in a time of coronavirus
Met Opera to offer free streams
Howard Rheingold’s tips for teaching online in higher ed
More tips for teaching online
Engagement tools for remote teaching
Crowdsourced tools for remote learning
Good advice for livestreaming worship that encourages participation
Parish resources in a time of social distancing
Advice from someone who has lived in isolation for a long time
Lessons from the Presencing Institute for this time
Sojourners list of useful resources for faith communities
The Anglican Church of Canada’s list of resources
Principles for ethical cancellation
Community care in a time of COVID19
And to keep laughing — try Jimmy Fallon and Lin Manuel Miranda as they try to do a show from home
A Coronavirus coping kit
To give you some context around this virus and the Twin Cities, here’s what’s up with me.
I’ve been sick since February 28th with an upper respiratory infection of some sort. An illness that came on suddenly, and followed what had been a month of travel (four airports in three weeks, including Toronto and Kentucky). I’ve been coughing, ran a low grade fever, runny nose, etc.
After 14 days, still coughing, I checked in with my doctor again. When I originally got sick she recommended that I not go out until I had been three full days without symptoms. But this was taking so long, I decided to check in with her.
After a lot of back and forth on the phone, my clinic decided that I do not have a sinus infection, and I should be tested for COVID-19. The way it is currently set up here, when a doctor requests such a test (if you’re not already in the hospital) you go to a drive-in testing site. Your doctor calls them, and then they call you and arrange it.
So I awaited the phone call. When I finally connected with the drive-in testing site, they walked through the same set of questions my doctor had asked me, and then decided I was not eligible for testing.
So please note: even though the president is saying there are tests available, and even though there are drive-in test sites here in the Cities, that still doesn’t mean you can get tested.
Do I have COVID-19? Hard to say, probably not since neither Eric nor Alex are sick. Yet we also know that this is a virus that doesn’t always cause symptoms.
I share this story to emphasize that we really do not know how widespread this virus is, because we really don’t have decent testing data. The best thing all of us can do is practice what they’re calling “social distancing” to slow it down, and WASH OUR HANDS.
Every year, as we prepare for Advent, I like to remember resources from the past that are still very useful.
For instance, the booklet “Imagine Peace” from the World Council of Churches, a resource full of songs, prayers, and other useful pieces for Advent that was published under a creative commons license so it’s free for people to use.
Or these alternate lyrics to my favorite Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which have been edited to be more reflective of recent biblical understanding (and thus less offensive to our Jewish sisters and brothers).
Surprise! This is not a blog post about cooking (although if you want to see the recipes we use regularly at home, check out our family wiki). Instead, this is a post about three different websites that offer a range of “recipes” for doing various kinds of transformative change.
I just found this one, Training for Change, through one of Richard Rohr’s daily meditaitons. This site has a wonderful list of “recipes” (that is, instructions and guidelines) for embodying nonviolent forms of learning and change.
Liberating Structures is another site which has curated/compiled a set of instructions for convening conversations in a variety of ways.
Finally, last but not by any means the least, the Art of Hosting is a similar set of practices for engaging in authentic dialogue.