Interdependent Web: Are you there, God?

Interdependent Web: Are you there, God?

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism


Are you there, God?

In the great tradition of lament, Kim Hampton cries out on behalf of Hagar’s children.

YOU said that YOU would make a great nation of my Ishmael.
Are YOU there God?
Isaac’s nation is killing us.
Are YOU there God?
I’m tired of looking at the death of my child.
Are YOU there God?
Are YOU there? (East of Midnight, July 7)

Demoralized by Alton Sterling’s death, Kenny Wiley finds a reason to keep working.

All I have right now about Alton Sterling, the black person brutally killed by Baton Rouge police:

I don't want to work today. But I'm working at UU camp in the mountains and this morning one black middle schooler, whom I met two days ago, came up to me at breakfast, looked at my "Black Lives—They Matter Here" shirt, hugged me, and said, "good morning, big bro."

We work for them. I need that black middle schooler to know that their life matters. (Facebook, July 6)

The Rev. Nathan Ryan, assistant minister of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, and a long-time resident of Louisiana, provides context for the death of Alton Sterling.

When I was 12 more than half of the white adults in the city I was raised voted for the former grand wizard of the kkk to be their next governor. When I was 25 I watched the president of my country do nothing for days while tens of thousands of, mostly black, mostly poor, New Orleanians were abandoned after the levees my country built couldn’t keep them safe. Just a couple of months ago my legislature responded to the Black Lives Matter movement – that is to say black people demanding that their very lives be valued – by passing a Blue Lives Matter bill.

While I was heartbroken when I heard of Alton Sterling’s death, even worse, my first thought wasn’t “How could this happen here?” Instead it was “How could this not happen here?” (Facebook, July 6)

Complicated grief

Kat Liu hesitates to grieve publicly for the five Dallas police officers killed last night—though she mourns their deaths as she does those of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

I am hesitant to talk about it because. . . . I know that in the coming days, these officers will get eulogized by their city, state, and country. There will be somber processions and speeches by politicians. The media will report about their families, their accomplishments, and their service to community. And all of that is GOOD and right. It is. But I know that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile will be forgotten in the process. Or at least that's what I strongly fear.

And I also know/fear that people will use the deaths of these officers as an excuse to attack Black Lives Matter and the struggle for racial equality in general. It has already begun. (Facebook, July 8)

As a child, the Rev. Chris Buice learned to respect black lives and police lives in the person of a family friend.

Doug Childers, an African American police officer, was a family friend who gave us rides in his police car when we were kids. For this reason I wince whenever I hear either black lives or police lives spoken in categorically pejorative ways that seek to lump everyone in one group reinforcing our worst fears or nursing our most comfortable prejudices. (Facebook, July 8)

The Rev. Dawn Skjei Cooley speaks directly to good cops tempted to defend their racist, violent colleagues.

[To] all of you amazing, loving, justice-seeking cops out there, please, I beg of you, stop closing ranks. Speak out. Confront the system. Demand training. Demand cameras. Demand justice. Hold your colleagues accountable. It isn't easy. Change never is, but you will sleep better at night knowing you have been part of the solution. (Facebook, July 7)

The Rev. Lois Van Leer writes that we are at a crucial moment; that how we, as individuals and as a nation, respond to violence—against black lives, against police officers—matters.

Mourn. Grieve. Be outraged. Speak of a love and a peace that passes all understanding. Do what you must do to make your way. Know that how we emerge from this tipping point will determine the soul of our nation. (Facebook, July 8)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar writes that "There is no algebra for death," no balancing of equations.

There is an addition of loss,
grief upon grief upon grief.
There is a multiplication of loss,
ripples of sorrow expanding
through families, friends, communities, nations.
Division is a choice.
Division is a choice. (Facebook, July 8)

Confessing and leveraging white privilege

The Rev. Madelyn Campbell confesses the layers of white privilege that she has worked to remove.

This is my confession. I didn’t grow up in lily-white America. I grew up in multicultural New York City. And I still had a lot to learn, and I probably still have plenty more to learn. I don’t have all the answers. I know this. It is us – the white folks, who are going to have to fess up to our privilege and then leverage it. We’re going to have to admit to all the ways we’ve been benefiting and all the assumptions we’ve bought into. And we — people WE are going to have to stop the unbounded killing of black people. (The Widow’s Mitey-Blog, July 7)

The Rev. Abbey Tennis leverages her white privilege, trying to protect people of color when she can.

Stopping and bearing witness—documenting if I can—when I see police pulling over men of color is one tiny way I try to support the lives of those at risk of injury or death at the hands of a racist militarized police system. More often than not, police and other bystanders ask *me* if I need help while I stand there.

Yesterday, Philando Castile's broken tail light became a death sentence simply because he was a black man. I don't know if anything other than a radical transformation of our racist society could have saved his life. I don't know if a white person standing on the sidewalk and recording the police with a videophone would have saved his life.

But—my white siblings—we can use our bodies—our presence—to bear witness to the worth of people of color. (Facebook, July 6)

If you need to fall apart

The Rev. Audette Fulbright offers a prayer for hopelessness.

If you need to fall apart, then do—
for Life will hold you in that, too
will teach you how to dessicate and blow away
and then will call you back from the four corners of the earth
and will renew you with the water
of the tears of others
like you
weep for all that is lost. (Facebook, July 7)

The Rev. Meg Riley regains her voice and encourages others to do the same.

Yesterday I was mute with rage and grief about the police murder in Louisiana but today I am going to YELL ALL DAY. (Facebook, July 6)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein has been wrestling with an important question: how much of the world’s pain and suffering are we morally obligated to witness and feel?

In my opinion, it is not an adequate response to simply say, “Take a news break.” I think that’s good advice, to be sure, but it does not address the moral urgency of this century’s spiritual crisis, which is that any individual with a computer and wi-fi has a front row seat to the savage character of the human species, often provided with validating video footage.

One can turn off the computer.

One can follow and pray through it, as I do, in the faith that there is a dimension beyond this one within which the focused energy of one person may somehow matter to the experience of another. At any rate, I cannot not do it. If I was bleeding out my life in a bombed out hospital somewhere, it would bring me comfort to know that someone, somewhere, truly gave a shit. (PeaceBang, July 3)

For a bit of respite, you might like to read Everett Howe’s brief Independence Day story about America’s sweet and sour. (Humanist Seminarian, July 4)