Sunday, March 26, 2017

Westworld and the Bicameral Mind

Earlier in my sabbatical, I was posting a lot here. I think I didn't know what to do with myself when I wasn't working on sermons. But then I got into the swing of not writing so much, and I've been remiss in posting! Sorry about that. I need to catch up on my posting.

I was just in Washington, D.C. where I saw the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I definitely need to post on that; they were both incredible places and experiences.

In February, I spent three weeks in India -- I am still processing that! And I will post on some of that here later, too.

But today I want to write a short post on something else: Westworld. On my looooooooong flight to India, I watched the first season of Westworld, an HBO original series. Wow, it's incredible! I encourage anyone who has access to watch this series. It's amazingly well done -- far superior to the old movie by the same name, by the way.

There are many profound concepts being explored in Westworld, particularly ideas about consciousness. One of the central ideas explored in the first season is the bicameral mind theory (an idea of Julian Jaynes). I preached about bicameralism a couple of years back. You can listen to the sermon, titled "You Must Be out of Your Mind! Bicameralism and Religion". Westworld explores this concept in such an entertaining way... I can't recommend it more highly.

That's all for now... but I'll be back to catch up!

Monday, January 30, 2017

No Muslim Ban

Yesterday, I joined 25,000 or more people in Copley Square, Boston, to say "No Muslim ban!" CAIR Massachusetts very quickly organized this rally and protest. Here are a few photos and a video I made while there. The Resistance is going to have to be strong and resilient.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was there. So were Sen. Ed Markey, Mayor Walsh, and more. No Gov. Baker, though.
Some signs in Copley...

Faith leaders speak out against the Muslim ban and other hateful anti-immigrant measures.

video

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March on Washington: What an Incredible Day

My mother, sisters, and I by the Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum.
Being on sabbatical, I was able to get to the Women's March on Washington. I got to go with my mother and sisters, which was a great joy. The four of us have marched in Washington before -- mostly for women's reproductive rights -- but it had been a long time.

It's just about impossible to estimate the size of a crowd so large, but it was well over 500,000 people. I saw the figure 680,000 given, which seems closer to me. I really do think it was verging on 1 million. It sure felt that way.

Shepard Fairey art on a poster.
Truly, it was wall-to-wall people. The feeling was one of love and solidarity. I was pleased that there was a nice representation of men in support -- not so many to keep it from feeling like a "women's march", but just the right amount. The ages of participants really ran the spectrum. I was happy to see a good turnout of Millennials. There was some concern before the march that it would be "too white". I can give my impression only... I would say it was disproportionately white for Washington, D.C., but at the same time there was racial diversity. I was happy to see (what seemed to me) more than the usual number of people in wheelchairs at the march and rally.

First we went to the rally and got close enough to the stage to at least have a good view of the screen. (We were standing by the Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum.) After a quick bite for lunch, it was time to join the march down Independence Avenue to the White House. By this point, the crowd was even bigger. It was wall-to-wall people. We were packed like sardines in the street! I was trying to get down to Independence Avenue, but there were blocks keeping us away. We couldn't figure out what was going on. After the fact, we learned that there were too many of us, essentially. The march was far bigger than they had anticipated, so it was effectively stopped. Many people did make their way to the White House, but we didn't get to do it all together as planned.

We spent a lot of time at this spot, unable to move!
I loved the signs and the chants. [I didn't take very many pictures; I was trying to just be in the moment. In addition to the handful of photos posted here (which I did take), I will give links to photo pages below in this post.] Some of the signs were poignant; some were pointed; some were light and fun. I thought it hit a nice balance. Likewise with the chants. There were some chants that I have heard before (e.g., call -- "Tell me what democracy looks like" -- response "This is what democracy looks like"; call -- "When women's/blacks'/immigrants'/Muslims'/etc. rights are under attack, what do we do?" response -- "Stand up, fight back!")... and there were some silly chants that were new to me (e.g., "We need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter!")

This sign just made us laugh.
Before the march, there was some talk about whether the pink pussy hats were a good idea or not. With hindsight, to me at least, it seems obvious that they were a good idea. They show up very well in the aerial photos and are quite striking. It was nice to have a visual for our palpable solidarity.

It was an incredible experience, any way you look at it. One of my colleagues has said that there is nowhere on earth she would rather have been that day, and I feel the same way.

So now what? How do we harness this incredible thing that has happened -- not just the 680,000 (or more) people marching in Washington, D.C., but the incredible millions of Women's Marchers all over the country and world? How do we turn the march into a movement?

Luckily, the Women's March organizers have thought of this, and are going to try to help and move that along too. You can see their "10 Actions in 100 Days Page".

Finally we did make it to the White House, but not all together.
We are not alone.
We are in this together.
And we have each other's backs.

LINKS

Friday, January 20, 2017

On this day.... fighting fear, committing to loving resistance

Photo from this page.
Today, I take hope from all the good people out there who are committed to loving resistance.

I love this art (left) by Shepard Fairey. The caption is "We the people are greater than fear."

Today I am in solidarity with all of those in marginalized groups who are feeling afraid. I own that, as a lesbian, I am one of them. But I know we will be greater than our fear.

I have been concerned lately that we seem to be living in a "post truth" era. It seems that we have become too lazy for critical thinking, and that scares me too. But I know we're better than that.

A colleague recently shared this on Facebook, and I will leave my thoughts today with this:


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Going to the Women's March on Washington

This Saturday, I will be heading to participate in the Women's March on Washington. Because I'm on sabbatical, I'm able to make the trip to D.C. I will be going with some of my family members who live closer to D.C. than I do.

Last I knew, quite a few of the congregants from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover were planning to attend the march in Boston, which should also be quite large.

Here's hoping that this is the beginning of some meaningful solidarity in loving resistance to racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant attitudes, and more.

The United States of America of the 21st century has such promise. Now is the time to make sure that it is our dreams, and not our nightmares, that become a reality.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Excited about the forming Merrimack Valley SURJ

One of the great things happening while I'm on sabbatical is that the congregation (UUCiA) is starting to get involved in the locally-forming chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice). Here you can find the Merrimack Valley chapter of SURJ page.

SURJ is "a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.

"Our focus is on working with white people who are already in motion. While in many activist circles there can be a culture of shame and blame, we want to bring as many white people into taking action for racial justice as possible. We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sabbatical musings on what [fill in the blank]s believe

The Monolith from "2001"
There's something that's been gnawing at me for a while. Namely, it's that way we have of saying, "Christians believe..." and "vegans believe..." and "democratic socialists think that..." Why do we pretend that various groups are monolithic in their beliefs? They simply aren't.

I know that there's a human tendency (need?) to put things into categories to make it easier to wrap our heads around them. And we have to start with some assumptions to have a conversation about any group. But we end up (in my opinion) making far too many assumptions.

Sometimes people ask me things like, "Do vegans think it's wrong to wear leather shoes that they've owned for ten years, pre-dating the time they became a vegan?" There's no way I can give a straight-forward answer to that. Some vegans would say, pitch them now and buy vegan shoes! Some vegans would wear them until they became unwearable and then replace them with vegan shoes. And on and on.

Or people will say, "Christians believe that same sex marriage is wrong." Nope. Nowhere near that simple. Lots of Christians are fine with it and support it. But even the statement, "Christians believe that Jesus Christ resurrected, in the flesh, from the dead" is not true. Some believe that literally, and some metaphorically, and some Christians simply don't find that to be a crucial part of the story because they're more focused on what Jesus did and said before he died.

On and on. We could do this for any group.

I wonder what could make us stop talking about groups in such overly-simplistic generalities...