Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
The five things we are talking about this week will not include what we are most talking about. Why reprise the obvious, that which is foreground in most people’s vision? So we ignore the inexorable march toward impeachment, the suffering of the Kurdish peoples, the scandals documented in Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, the easy sentencing of wealthy deceitful parents in the college entry schemes in contrast to the prison sentences of the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, the minority group member. Here is what is left that may be of interest.
1. Cancer among friends. Our small group of 10 called “Feast of Friends” was grieving the serious cancer of a common friend on the East Coast when we took a retrospective look at ourselves. Of the 10 original members, seven have had treatment for cancer, five successfully, two have died. We have met the cellular dilemma and it is us. We reach out with a different soulfulness; we pray in a different tone of voice.
2. Indigenous Peoples Day. This week we listened to those who reinterpreted Columbus Day as a pro-immigrant celebration to the truth of this day of Observance of the Doctrine of Discovery, which gave divine blessing and ecclesial blessing to land-grabbing genocide and sweeping infection from European germ-banks. We ask each other, “How can we memorialize what we need to disavow?” Mercy, that is all we can request, mercy.
3. Vegetarian church potlucks. The next two months while we are studying Ched Myers’ Watershed Discipleship, our church has agreed to “veggie-luck” dinners, and so far they are a creative step up in flavor and texture. In view of our planets resources and future, it seems an act of spiritual obedience to love for creation. Care to join us?
4. Fires—everyone has their own natural threat. With family in Florida facing hurricanes, in the Midwest fearing tornadoes, the flooding along great watersheds, the increase in drought, we face fires in California (or the Amazon) with a sense of solidarity with our continent that awakens wider connections with the world and deeper mourning for our planet.
5. Judy. An awesome embodiment of Judy Garland by Renee Zellweger, amazing impression of voice and body movement, and astounding singing, and ruthless honest of addictions waste of talent, relationships, and human possibility. A tragic story of how “the dreams that are dreamed really do not come true.” In an age of prescription drug abuse and chemical dependency, this movie is a canary in the dark mines of human self-destruction.
David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.
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