A Moment of Profound Choice

Another World is Possible

We are at the beginning of a new era in the earth’s history. Humanity has reached a crossroads, a moment of profound choice between two incompatible futures. One direction seems almost inevitable: the world’s dominant institutions and prevailing ideologies are driving at an ever-accelerating speed toward a market-based future dominated by corporations. The billboards along this multi-lane freeway advertise the benefits of where we are headed: toward a wonderland of accumulated wealth and general prosperity, technological achievement, economic and cultural integration, and peace through U.S. military domination. Most people are simply going along or being forced along for the ride. But increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to get off the main road, to walk to the side and off the pavement to find another path, one that leads toward a global future of equity, justice, ecological and cultural diversity, and peace through mutual respect and cooperation. People are defending or changing their lifestyles, working within their communities, and creating alternative institutions. Some are even hiking back up to the main road and blocking it with their bodies, linking arms with others, trying to prevent the tragic consequences of a world given over to greed.

Who will decide which road will be taken? We will. We must. This is our right and our responsibility as human beings. We can refuse to take on the responsibility and allow the institutional Powers to make these decisions by default. Or we can exercise our freedom by refusing to collude, by resisting the Powers that would lead us to destruction, and by embodying life-giving alternatives here and now. This is a profound spiritual choice, since it involves shaking off spiritual domination by the Powers.

At this critical moment in earth’s history each of us is called to exercise our human freedom, to choose whether to go along the broad road that leads to destruction or the narrow path that leads to life. As we open ourselves to the Spirit, we create an opening through which change can happen in the world. As we choose, we are part of humanity’s choosing. We are a part of the earth’s passion for life.

This is an excerpt from the Introduction to Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-led Resistance to Corporate Globalization by Sharon Delgado.  Order the book from your local bookstore, directly from Sharon, or from online distributors.

God Bless the Grass: Two Easter Songs

Grass in Our Yard

Having gone through the winter of Lent we are now in the springtime of Easter.  I’ve been singing two songs lately.  They both use images of the earth to carry a message of hope in the face of despair.  The first song is “Now the Green Blade Rises,” a traditional Easter hymn.  The second song, “God Bless the Grass,” is by singer-songwriter and social justice activist Malivina Reynolds.  Both songs present the key message of Easter:  life overcomes death.

Listen to this version of “Now the Green Blade Rises” by the Smoke Fairies.  

Now the Green Blade Rises

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

(John M.C. Crum, 1928, 15th Century French Melody)

I also hear the message of life conquering death in this wonderful song by Malvina Reynolds.  You can hear her sing it here:  God Bless the Grass .

 God Bless the Grass

God bless the grass that grows thru the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass that’s gentle and low,
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man’s door,
And God bless the grass.

God bless the grass, which demonstrates the power of life to overcome death, and to bring about both personal and social transformation.  May we all have renewed confidence, courage, and hope during this Easter season.

Holy Saturday: Between Despair and Hope

excuse the inconvenienceToday is Holy Saturday, a space between despair and hope, between death and resurrection.

This in-between time is an analogy for where we are as a species at this critical time in the history of life on earth.  Will we preserve and pass on the wealth of nature and culture to future generations, or will they inherit a wasteland?  This is the primary spiritual issue of our time.

I know from personal experience how the power of God, at work in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, transforms hearts and lives.  But for those of us who see the earth dying and hear the cries of suffering humanity, personal transformation is not enough. We long for major social change, change that shakes the foundations and turns the world upside down. We long for a new community, for the “upside down kingdom” that Jesus initiated, where the hungry will be fed, the naked clothed, the oppressed set free, and slaves released. We hear the groans of the earth, and we ourselves groan inwardly, in labor for the day when the whole creation is set free from bondage (Rom. 8:21). We long for the transformation of the world.

I am a follower of Christ.  With Paul I can say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19b-20).

I am also a member of the human race and of the wider community of life.  I share in the suffering of my fellow creatures.  I share in the “passion” of the earth.

The fact is, we really don’t know how this human journey on earth will turn out.  According to theologian Jurgen Moltmann, we cannot know:  “Will humanity survive the crises we have described? We cannot know, and we must not know. If we knew that humanity is not going to survive, we should not do anything more for our children but would say, `after us, the deluge.’ If we knew that humanity is going to survive, we should not do anything either, and by doing nothing we should miss our chance for conversion. Because we cannot know whether humanity is going to survive or not, we have to act today as if the future of the whole of humankind were dependent on us—and yet at the same time trust wholly that God is faithful to his creation and will not let it go.”

On this Holy Saturday,  I choose to live in hope, entrusting myself, my loved ones, and future generations to the God who raised Jesus and who lives in me.  I choose to rest in the silence and stillness and spaciousness of God.

Glimpsing the Historical Jesus

Since I am a follower of Christ and the season of Lent is upon us, I plan to post several  writings on the topic of  “Jesus, Resister.”   In them, I will show how the stories of Jesus’ life, teachings, and death can illuminate our path through the great social, economic, and environmental challenges of our day.

I understand why people distance themselves from Christianity, especially in its most close-minded and virulent forms.  But Christ is my home, and I refuse to abandon the symbols of my faith to those who distort them.

For the past two thousand years Christians have interpreted and assigned meaning to the stories of Jesus’ life, death, and post-death appearances.  Some claim to have the answers to “what the Bible says” and what people should believe, but the Bible does not present a clear, harmonious picture of the historical Jesus.  Each of the four gospels has its own unique perspective, sometimes complementing and sometimes contradicting the others, because the gospels are written not as history but as faith accounts of what each author remembered and understood.

Although scholars have shed light on some aspects of his life and the world in which he lived, it is impossible to uncover a universally accepted or objective picture of who Jesus of Nazareth was.  We glimpse him through various lenses—artistic, literary, cultural, religious.  For people who follow him, even more than for the gospel writers, Jesus is a figure we come to know through faith.

To understand his relevance in addressing the grave challenges of today, we need to explore the social, economic, and political context in which Jesus lived, and examine his relationship with the institutional Powers of his day. As we do, we meet the Jesus who modeled the compassionate nonviolent resistance practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  And we discover a way to live in hope and bring about a more hopeful future, in the presence and grace of God.

Children and Climate Change

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How does global warming affect our children?  We so want to protect them from pain, and climate change is a painful topic.  We may not want to scare them by talking about it, and in fact we may not want to talk (or think) about it ourselves.

But glaciers are melting, islands are eroding, deserts are expanding, species are dying, climate-related disasters are more frequent, and weather patterns are changing and will continue to change until we get fossil fuel emissions under control.  To ignore this reality is to live in denial, which is not a good model for children about how to cope with the realities of life.

Many of our children already know about global warming, and are looking to us for answers.  They may not understand all of its implications, but they can understand that it is a serious problem that must be solved.

It is our children, grandchildren, and future generations who will feel the greatest impact of the lifestyle and public policy decisions that we make or allow others to make on our behalf today.

Let us listen to their voices, comfort and reassure them, and respond to this global challenge in ways that will allow them, with God’s help, to enjoy abundant life on a beautiful, diverse, and hospitable Planet Earth.