Sunday, March 30, 2008

Conversation Recap for March 23, 2008

Intros- 2 new participants who met Eve over the weekend and invited them to The Conversation.

Keith’s sister, Brandy’s Story

Girard, founded in 1848 by Stephen Girard who came to US in 1776. Gave all his money to found the school. The school was originally meant for white orphan males. In the 80s the school opened to females. Now the school is for low-income students from single parent families. Funded through the original trust funds. Located right in the middle of the city surrounded by an 8-foot wall, tuition is $36,000 per year. Students apply, much like a college application process. More about Girard here.

Story of Easter is a story of an itinerant prophet who challenged the status quo and died as a result. Those who followed him went to look for his body and couldn’t find it. It's the story of a person who gives sharp criticism of a society and that society tries to kill him and out of that ignites a movement.

Act II of When the Levees Broke

One participant remarked that alluded to in the film is the notion that the city of “sin” brought the tragedy on itself.

Another reiterated the reality of “on your own-ness”.

Our guest went to NO from Feb. 15-20. Something had told her not to believe the news reports from 2005. She got in touch with a community service group and traveled there to see for herself. She found that 3 years later, 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish etc. it’s just as bad. People are still trying to survive in areas that no one should be living in. FEMA villages are depressing. Now that there are reports of toxics in these FEMA trailers, people have to move out and have nowhere to go.

Dexter picked up on the religious theme of God’s wrath cleaning up a city full of evil. Some of us might be surprised at how prevalent that thinking is.

America sees itself as the chosen nation in the world. The “Shining City on the Hill”. If you go into evangelical churches you will hear that God is doing a “new thing” and we (America) are the new thing. We are the new Israelites. When “we” introduced smallpox into the native communities, that was God “clearing the way.” The Christians viewed the “New World” as wilderness rather than as a group of nations because they brought that perspective from the Bible. Rev. Wright, when he says God damn America, he is following the tradition of the prophet Ezekiel by saying that God blesses America when it does right and God damns America when it does wrong. It’s hypocritical the outrage about Rev. Wright’s damning America because this happens in pulpits all across the country every Sunday.

We ascribe motives to God when we don’t want to take responsibility. When Europeans wanted to justify their wiping out of the Native people, they went to the Bible. The strong Europeans came and tamed this wild land.

One participant wondered if religious justification comes after the political action in a cynical fashion. But the response is that in America you cannot separate politics from religion.

Another participant said that she’s still not sure if religion is a tool of politics or vice versa.

Also mentioned was the danger of fundamentalism, whether it be Christian or Muslim. Our foreign policy is immoral—over a million Iraqis dead and our president telling us that the surge is a success and democracy is flourishing in Iraq.

One person said that a big part of the problem is in ascribing centrality to one’s self, either as an individual or a country or a political/economic system. A sign of maturity is to see one’s self outside of one’s self and see another’s perspective.

Another reminded us of the question asked in the beginning today—can we operate in truth with one another? There is an anatomy, a science and a politics around Katrina and nobody has it right. Therefore we ought to start with respect otherwise we devalue my perspective or your perspective.

Another’s thoughts were that she is a complex jumble. As a young girl she began to question religion because of how she saw her father attending church and smiling and being friendly and then being an angry tyrant at home. She’s now learning how to deal with the complexities, contradictions, hypocrisies, goods and evils embodied within her and that’s a personal journey of internal work.

Another talked about the Bible being a kind of psychic projection of all of humanity’s contradictions. She would like some direct instruction in Liberation Theology. A LT person might think about the people on the rooftops “walking on water” forsaken by the rest of the country might be a reminder about the evils of our government rather than the evils of New Orleans.

One person talked about viewing the Bible in layers rather than literally. Fear keeps us from being honest.

Another talked about the Old Testament versus the New Testament. If there were just one law of God it would be to love. That includes holding people up to being their best selves, of course who decides what that best self is? Some try to simplify it by going to the Bible (page 143, verse 2, King James version).

Dexter brought us to a close by making several general observations.

When we say that some people take the Bible too seriously by taking it literally, we are giving ground. A Liberation Theologian might say we take the Bible seriously because we take up the fundamental question of Jesus which is what do we do about poverty? What we should say is “you have a particular interpretation of the Bible and I have a particular interpretation.”

Liberation theology begins with the context and the Bible may inform you on that reality rather than those who say begin with the text and interpret life from there. Also it focuses on spirituality as an everyday material reality not an ethereal reality.

Liberation Theology says that liberation is from systems and structures of domination. Liberation theology believes that from the voices and experiences of the poor comes our own liberation. Everyday we bring with us our paradoxes and complexities and seek clarification together fro today.


April 12th Seeds of Compassion on behalf of the Conversation, Tom has made a request of 30 tickets

Thursday, March 27th at 6pm SoJust meeting at 414 S. Division Ln. (near 38th & Pacific)

Next Sunday at 1pm at the Mandolin, meet about 501c3

April 26th at 8pm Ebony Fashion Fair at Mt. Tahoma.

Friday May 2nd 7:30pm at Theater on the Square - Luke has co-written a series of pieces called Voices of the Americas. He is also creating a sponsorship fund to help pay for tickets.

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