Each week we find it hard to pare down the conversations at home, at church and online, so this week we add a bonus item. And we have more.
- Never Caught is the story of George and Martha Washington’s relentless pursuit of a runaway slave who made her escape by advantage of temporary living in Northern States when her “owner” was in office and forced to live in a state where he did not “own” this courageous woman. Written by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Simon and Schuster, 2017) this portrait of a determined woman who refused to be an enslaved person and claimed a higher authority than any federal official or office. We learned of it from the excellent tour guide at Mt. Vernon and ordered a copy, which we are now talking about with our friends and congregation. One way to reduce one’s unconscious racism is to feed your mind and soul with stories of people of great dignity and power who lived above and beyond their possibilities.
- Sacred Pauses is by April Yamasaki, a Canadian Mennonite pastor who has written this wonderful book of spiritual practices for daily awareness of the presence of Jesus as co-traveler. It is not a rule of life or a series of disciplines but a rich guide to practices that awaken the soul in response to the daily art of living. Our home base church, Peace Mennonite/BIC in Claremont, California, is using her splendid book for six weeks of examining how we live these moments and days in frequent pauses for deeper awareness of the sacred seen in the simple, the divine in the daily routine. April, we love your work.
- As an MCC family (aren’t all Mennonite families?) we are talking a lot about the U.S. State Department’s ban on U.S. humanitarian workers in North Korea, which goes against the UN’s protocol of allowing humanitarian workers to travel. Mennonite Central Committee has been aiding those in need in North Korea for 22 years. Now the White House is blocking aid workers, effectively cutting us off. The MCC Northeast Asia reps, Chris and Donna Rice, and other friends in South Korea have been doing amazing work through MCC channels, but Washington is using humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip in its confusing “diplomacy.” Call your senators.
- POD Save America. We are talking about the progressive political podcast produced and distributed by Crooked Media and hosted by brilliant and funny former Obama staffers. It has been available since January 2017 but is now being released as four one-hour specials on HBO to cover the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. Two of our daughters are long-time followers, and we are finally tuning in and catching on. It is refreshing to hear natural and candid conversation about what is happening in the public square or taking place behind the scenes in what should be public domain. The language may be spicy, but most offensive are the injustices and abuses reported.
- Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott (Penguin, 2018). The Bay-area prophet visited Pasadena, California, this week and launched her newest book. Finding courage from Job to Jesus, she ends with these words: “We have all we need to come through. Against all odds, no matter what we’ve lost, no matter what messes we’ve made over time, no matter how dark the night, we offer and are offered kindness, soul, light and food, which create breath and spaciousness, which create hope, sufficient unto the day.”
- Women and relationships. Leann just returned from a reunion of a group of high school friends in the Colorado Rockies. We are talking about the richness of long-term friendships and how they mature throughout life stages, and we are contrasting how women maintain relationships in contrast to men who may share a parallel working relationship, if they can invent one, but rarely get together to just connect and celebrate. Invitations usually get a polite nod as “nice idea” but not in the masculine priorities. Why? Why is it that men prefer report over rapport?
David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.