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Introducing JustLists by Unbound

Introducing JustLists by Unbound

JustLists by Unbound is a new accessible way for our audience to receive information and content. JustLists will appear on our social media platforms as well as on the Unbound website. Lists will be published weekly with occasional extended content attached.
Keep up with JustLists at www.justiceunbound.org/just-lists
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Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations Calls for a Global Ceasefire

Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations Calls for a Global Ceasefire

On March 23, 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war…That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put the armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” Many nations responded while others did not. Not unlike the Olympic Truce, called for every two years before the Olympic Games, this ceasefire is necessary and hopeful for our world, but war and war business keep leaders fighting.
During this time, the United States of America, a global leader in confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID 19, also stepped back from treaty obligations to end the use of land mines. While the US government says that it will abide by international law in its use or proposed use of landmines, to reduce civilian harm, our government has concluded that war and destruction are more i..

A Global Ceasefire in the Age of COVID-19 is Essential

A Global Ceasefire in the Age of  COVID-19 is Essential

In his December 12, 2018 article, New York Times Opinion Columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about a single child, Abrar, who was 12 years old and weighed only 28 pounds. The starvation of this single child tells the story of the misery wrought by war. This horrific proxy war between Iranian-backed Houthis and US-backed Saudi Arabia is causing famine and displacement. Thousands have already died of starvation and 12 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine. Nearly 4 million Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes. Over 80% of the population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Giles Clark for the New York Times Similarly, the still-grinding war in Syria has caused an estimated 500,000 deaths, over 6 million internally displaced souls, and over 5 million Syrian refugees. Military violence continues in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, and intra-state violence goes on in Libya, the Congo, Northern Nigeria with Boko Haram, and the list could be extended.
What makes this on-g..

SETTING THE INNER COMPASS: Introducing the Poetry Column

SETTING THE INNER COMPASS: Introducing the Poetry Column

Reading poetry is one of the ways some of us nourish our faith, a way we set or reset our inner compass and stay focused on the big picture, on the spiritual journey. I know that is true for me. This is the first entry in a new poetry column on Unbound called Setting The Inner Compass.
In this monthly column, I will briefly introduce and share two or three poems. This column builds on the five-part National Poetry month series in April. In the wrap up to that series, I suggested using an approach similar to Lectio Divina when we read a poem for spiritual companionship.
The poems for May are by Vermont based poet, David Budbill. David’s poems are direct and clear. After he died in 2016, his obituary in the New York Times described him as “a people’s poet.” Quoting the journal Parnassus, the obituary said David was “as accessible as a parking lot and as plain as a pair of Levi’s.” David Budbill attended Muskingum College before attending Union Theological Seminary in New York. He gra..

We Are Here But We Are Not the Enemy: An Asian-American’s Story of Xenophobia

We Are Here But We Are Not the Enemy: An Asian-American’s Story of Xenophobia

“This is going to be bad,” I said to my husband as we watched initial reports of a mysterious illness sweeping through a province in China. “We are going to be impacted by this,” and by “we” it was understood I meant Asian Americans.
This was back in January – before we knew the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness it caused, was already here in the U.S. The unseen “enemy” we were fighting first as a country and then globally already had been giving a face, a caricature.
China. Wet markets. Strange foods, even exotic and most definitely gross. Dirty. Infectious. Intentional.
And instead of photographs from China, news outlets would use images of Asian Americans wearing masks while on public transportation or on the street. The nameless Asian American wearing a mask.
The enemy is us and we live among you.
I was in my car at an intersection waiting for the light to turn and sneezed into my tissue. It was mid-March and an unusual warm front had awoken every allergen in the M..

Peace Where There Is No Peace: Spiritual Care in a Pandemic

Peace Where There Is No Peace: Spiritual Care in a Pandemic

Chaplain, Carly Misenheimer My spiritual care to patients with COVID-19 began, unbeknownst to me, on February 26, 2020. It was Ash Wednesday. A chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, I was paged at the beginning of my work day to a patient on the Medicine ICU for the imposition of ashes—a sacred ritual in the Christian tradition that marks the beginning of the Lenten journey. I was surprised when I drew back the curtain and found the patient unresponsive and his wife lying next to him in bed, her head nuzzled under his chin. She rolled forward to sit up, but I encouraged her to stay. After hearing stories about her husband, a devout Catholic with a tough exterior and a gentle heart, I leaned over her and anointed his forehead with ashes. I recited the words from Ecclesiastes “Remember that you come from dust and to dust you shall return.” These words felt heavier than normal spoken to a man whose breathing was labored. I closed the curtain behind me and cried.
..

Trouble with the Curve

Trouble with the Curve

As I look out the window of my home in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, the sun is shining. And the birds are chirping. On a typical NYC day, I rarely ever hear the birds over the noise of the city. But now the city is so quiet, and the only other occasional sound is a police or ambulance siren. The ever-present silence is a constant reminder of a new normal, which hangs over everyone like a cloud. This is a new normal that I don’t want to accept even though I know that I must, for the well-being of others and myself — a new normal that brings with it fear and anxiety.
Such fear was a central point of discussion during a recent gun violence webinar that I produced titled “Get Your Guns: Why Americans Buy Firearms in Times of Pandemic.” This was part of the “Standing Our Holy Ground” webinar series for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. During our webinar conversation, we dissected the reasons Americans are buying gu..

Your Teachers are Not OK

Your Teachers are Not OK

Last week was national Teacher Appreciation Week. Usually, this means free lunches at school and restaurants offering free dinners, accolades on social media, gifts and hugs from our students, messages from former students. But not this year. This year, we are at home, away from our students and their soul-soaring hugs.
Since March, the Corona Virus Pandemic has caused schools to shut down and the academic work moved online. Schools and districts scrambled to move learning online. This move left teachers in a lurch. How do you teach your students if students do not have the technology at home? How do you teach when you have not heard from a student in 4 weeks? How do you teach when you are not sure a student is safe, has enough food, or has reliable internet?
Teachers are on the front line. We take the guidance from the local school district leaders and state and national legislatures and turn it into the magic that students and parents see. We hunt for resources that will engage an..

Hymns in the Midst of Pandemic

Hymns in the Midst of Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a sharp reminder about human frailty even as it has been an occasion of tremendous generosity, hospitality, self-sacrifice, compassion, and love. For all the good we have seen, we have also suffered through an openly and proudly racist, sexist, anti-science, homophobic, xenophobic government that cares only about and for the wealthy and their corporations, a government that is more than willing to allow people to suffer and die to prop up Mammon. The good we see around us invites us to join in working for that good; the cruelty and violence we see, not least on the part of our country’s leadership, demands a prophetic response grounded in our understanding that it is the will of the holy that all people flourish and that we live in ways that enable our planet to flourish as well.
The arts play an important role in our work for justice, equality, and human and planetary well-being, for music, writing, theater, dance, and other art forms have the poten..

Response: White People, White Protests, and the White Agenda

Response: White People, White Protests, and the White Agenda

Here goes Lee again, asking uncomfortable questions! Yet he has read anthropology about our culture and reads it in real time in the tragic, self-destructive struggles we almost all—in the 99%– see around us. As one raised in a progressive form of Northern Presbyterianism, I do not see what Lee sees, but I know he is speaking to me about this “whiteness,” a presumption of rightness, of being normative, and not simply normal. For younger people, perhaps my own children, the culture’s growing diversity of Asian and Hispanic as well as Black presence may make the unconscious comfort setting less automatic, the belief-reinforcing sense of “we” less experienced (apart from our internal struggles against perceived personal limitations). And our culture’s pervasive economic insecurity can so often “attach” to other forms of change and difference.
I see being Christian as a call to constant self-awareness in dialogue with our Source of deepest joy. For those of us who are read by our culture’..

White People, White Protests, and the White Agenda

You know, if you’ve never heard me speak, I would have an accent that many would classify as a “thick, Southern” accent. Though it’s a lot less thick, my accent marks several things about my identity (or the identity society places on me). It tells the hearer that I am from a specific location and within that location, it tells the hearer that I am not from a metropolitan area. My accent sometimes may signal ignorance (which in some senses I claim). My twang and extension of syllables may express unintelligence, low economic status, skewed views of history, racial bias. My high pitched range may also signal questions about my sexuality and send hearers into an array of thoughts and implicit stereotypes.
One of those stereotypes is the connection with how I sound to the rhymes and rhythms of country music. I will be the first to claim this stereotype, but my country music consists of the ole’ country divas, modern interpretations of storytelling, and music that speaks to the times (as..

EARTH DAY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Review of COP25

EARTH DAY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Review of COP25

INTRODUCTION: Earth Day 2016 was chosen for many nations, including the United States, to sign the historic Paris Agreement, negotiated at the end of 2015, to address global climate change. This was the most comprehensive agreement since the Convention on Climate Change was signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It was a milestone in the annual United Nations negotiations on climate change called a Conference of the Parties or COP for short.
However, significant aspects of the Paris Agreement needed more precision, and were docketed for future COP’s to work out. As this was the 25th meeting, the event is commonly known as COP25. Originally COP25 was slated to meet in Santiago, Chile. However, the social protest underway in Chile prompted a change of venue to Madrid.
From the Rio Earth Summit through COP25, faith-based organizations have been active participants as observers in the UN process. Madrid was no different. Faith-based organizations sponsored Side Events (panel presentations)..