SETTING THE INNER COMPASS- JULY 2020
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SETTING THE INNER COMPASS- JULY 2020

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. Over the years, poetry has become an important part of my spiritual journey. In this monthly column, ‘Setting the Inner Compass,’ I will share some of the poems I find nourishing to the soul. All of the poems resonate on their own. Sometimes, like this month, the poems share a common theme.
The three poems in July remind us of the beauty of ordinary things: collard greens, blackbirds, and peaches. In these poems, each of these things affirm, in Lucille Clifton’s words, “the bond of living things everywhere”. The poet invites us to see something extraordinary in the ordinary, something transcendent in the everyday.
I thank the publishers for generously granting permission to use these poems. I offer a very special thanks to Julie Cadwallader-Staub for permission to publish her wonderful poem, “Blackbirds”.
Enjoy.
Pea..

Presbyterians and the American Civil Rights Movement
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Presbyterians and the American Civil Rights Movement

The recent, tragic death of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests currently occurring throughout the United States and the world have fanned the flames of a movement that has burned for over sixty-five years. With new names and organizations entering the movement, the fight for civil rights continues to bring light to the darkness that social injustice and hate crimes create.
The current state of violence aimed at Black people and other minority groups has caused me to reflect on ways in which I have been both supportive of and problematic to the civil rights effort. In response, I’ve decided, among other things, to start this column which will focus on how the Church can positively participate in progressive justice movements. I am calling this column “Justice is a Verb”, which is a nod to Micah 6:8 where we are explicitly told to, “Do Justice”. This passage teaches us that Justice is an action. It is not passive, but something that we are supposed to do. Readin..

The US Southern Border: A Symbol of Unity or Isolation from the Continent?
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The US Southern Border: A Symbol of Unity or Isolation from the Continent?

In light of the recent Supreme Court Decision that prevented the Trump administration from revoking the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy due to failure to provide adequate justification, immigration is back on the top of everyone’s mind. Questions of the border particularly the US Southern Border have come into sharper focus. Moreover, as we enter another intense season, it is clear that President Trump will aim to use immigration and the Southern Border as another wedge issue to encourage voters to support his re-election. This paper reflects on the United States’ southern border and ponders its symbology and proposes a re-examination of how Christians should view the border in light of the gospel.
The border has unique symbolism and conjures thoughts of protection, filtration, separation, or insulation from danger. Borders are a critical part of the functional integrity of a country and allow for governments to track commerce, register individuals, and provide a l..

Setting the Inner Compass: June Column
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Setting the Inner Compass: June 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. The time that has passed since the May poetry column has been a season of overwhelming sadness, anger, and a call to action. The systemic racism in this country and our church has never been more apparent. The Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem”, has echoed in my heart the past few weeks. It begins with a question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” It continues, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run?” The poem concludes, “Or does it explode?” Yes, it explodes. We have work to do. Inner work and joining with others for social change.
Wendell Berry begins his “Peace of Wild Things” with the line: “When despair for the world grows in me.” These lines resonate with the first half of 2020. There is much that causes us to feel despair. It is easy to feel overwhel..