Hi everyone. This newsletter is for Swedenborgians (and friends) who want to learn how to support anti-racism. But we are not going to pretend that we are experts here; we are learning alongside you. There are lots of activists and educators who have been working in the anti-racism field for a long time. Our plan (in the words of Meera Mohan-Graham) is to Absorb and Amplify those voices, and follow their lead.
As we all strive to learn, change, and act together, we invite you join the Manifold Angels Facebook group for connection throughout the journey. The work is just beginning. If you would like to be added to the email list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an (approximately) bi-weekly newsletter, though the schedule may change occasionally. One issue per month will be a deep dive into a particular issue (you can find links to these at the end of the newsletter). The alternating issues (like this one) will be more personal/devotional, aiming to help build stamina and commitment for the ongoing work for racial justice. Thanks for joining us!
"There is a cultural obsession nowadays with civility, with the idea that if everyone is mannered enough, any impasse or difference of opinion can be bridged. But these are desperately uncivil times. And there is nothing more uncivilized than the political establishment’s inurement to the constancy of mass shootings in the United States: 60 deaths in Las Vegas, 49 deaths in Orlando, 26 deaths at Sandy Hook, 13 deaths in Columbine, 10 deaths in Buffalo. Adults, schoolchildren, concertgoers, nightclub revelers, grocery shoppers, teachers.
...Time and again we are told, both implicitly and explicitly, that all we can do is endure this constancy of violence. All we can do is hope these bullets don’t hit our children or us. Or our families. Or our friends and neighbors. And if we dare to protest, if we dare to express our rage, if we dare to say enough, we are lectured about the importance of civility. We are told to stay calm and vote as an outlet for our anger.
Incivility runs through the history of this country, founded on stolen land, built with the labor of stolen lives...When politicians talk about civility and public discourse, what they’re really saying is that they would prefer for people to remain silent in the face of injustice. They want marginalized people to accept that the conditions of oppression are unalterable facts of life. They want to luxuriate in the power they hold, where they never have to compromise, never have to confront their consciences or lack thereof, never have to face the consequences of their inaction.
...On Tuesday morning, at least 19 children’s parents woke them up and helped them brush their teeth, fed them breakfast, made sure they had their little backpacks packed. They held their children’s small hands as they walked or drove them to school. Those children were alive when their parents waved to them and handed them their lunches and kissed their cheeks. Their lives were precious, and they mattered...
"Julie Harwell and Lamont Thomas were treated like celebrities as they weaved through the makeshift marketplace in Buffalo, New York.
Their East Side neighbors greeted them with hugs and words of support. Perfect strangers handed them bags of groceries. Vendors passed them crates full of potatoes, strawberries, blackberries and cucumbers. Some folks simply asked, “Can I pray for you?”
The couple are the center of attention these days, after they avoided a gunman’s wrath in a grocery store while their 8-year-old daughter hid in a freezer.
“I’m not really into grocery stores or big spaces or public places right now. I only feel comfortable right here,” Harwell said as she walked up and down Jefferson Avenue, which resembled a farmers market for much of the week as police closed traffic and residents walked the street freely.
Harwell spoke to CNN days after authorities say an 18-year-old White man invaded the Cold Springs section of East Side, killing 10 people at a Tops Friendly Markets grocery store. The shooting left a gaping hole in the neighborhood because Tops was a hub where everyone went and the only supermarket in a 4-mile radius.
“I don’t know personally if I ever will go back in there,” Harwell told CNN, adding that just walking by the store gives her chills. “I relive that every day of my life right now. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. It took a toll on my mental state.”
To fill the void, companies, organizations and even professional sports teams have descended on the East Side offering fresh produce, toiletries and hot food. This temporarily eases the burden for families like those of Harwell and Thomas, who now have to figure out where they’ll get their basic groceries going forward.
The traumatized community can’t help but wonder: What happens when everyone eventually leaves? The question comes from a community that has felt overlooked for decades – and the fact that an easily accessible grocery store only popped up within the last 20 years.
“I hope they keep the same energy because I’m still going to be going through mental health issues when the hugs stop and the media stops and the phone calls stop,” Harwell said. “We’re gonna be going through and reliving that day every single day...”
...“The reason this killer, this masochist, this White supremacist knew to go to Tops is because of the social economic order of Buffalo,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said during his visit to Buffalo. “If you had an equal and even and fair city that had services everywhere, he couldn’t have pinpointed Tops. He pinpointed Tops because Tops is a result of the socioeconomic disparities that this country allows and has normalized.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said that more than 20 years ago many corporations “refused to come into the community.”
...“There’s been a lot of interest in the community the last two days, but where were they prior to the shooting?” Jackie Stover-Stitts, co-owner of the Golden Cup Coffee Company, one of the only coffee shops in Cold Springs where people come to gather, meet and have conversations.
In the days since the shooting, her shop has gotten more crowded not only with residents, but with outsiders.
“It’s easy to say you’re angry and sorry today, but what happens tomorrow?” Stover-Stitts said. “No one’s interested in us until we’re victimized.”
A NEW PROGRAM!
Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism has created a new program to encourage and support involvement in local activism. It is called The Knitting Energy Together Work, or The KnET-Work. The KnET-Work is seeking to spur people on to apply the knowledge and energy we’ve gained through SAAR programming to the next step in the work of antiracism—local activism.
We are encouraging Swedenborgians to join in local antiracism programs and activist groups in their own areas. In so doing, we build solidarity and community with those outside our faith tradition. And more centrally, we channel our faith and energy into actions that better society by fighting against the scourge of racism. The KnET-Work will hold quarterly support meetings for local chapters and individuals to meet with other Swedenborgians across the continent who are likewise participating in local activism. While there is power in numbers, not to mention shared enjoyment, individuals who are unable to work with other Swedenborgians in their area are encouraged to join local activism groups, and then come to The KnET-Work meetings to exchange joys, experiences and encouragements with others, in a word, to knit our energies together for good. We hope to see you there!
If you are interested in participating in these support groups, please contact Kent Rogers at email@example.com
TRUE CHRISTIANITY 138
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE DIVINE ACTION
...the divine actions and powerful effects meant by the Holy Spirit are the acts of reforming and regenerating us. Depending on the outcome of this reformation and regeneration, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of renewing us, bringing us to life, sanctifying us, and making us just; and depending on the outcome of these in turn, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of purifying us from evils, forgiving our sins, and ultimately saving us….The Lord has these powerful effects on those who believe in him.
FROM THE SPIRIT
Most Gracious and all wise God;
Before whose face the generations rise and fall;
Thou in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
We thank thee for all of thy good and gracious gifts,
for life and for health; for food and for raiment;
for the beauties of nature and the love of human nature.
We come before thee painfully aware of our inadequacies and shortcomings.
We realize that we stand surrounded with the mountains of love and we deliberately dwell in the valley of hate. We stand amid the forces of truth and deliberately lie;
We are forever offered the high road and yet we choose to travel the low road.
For these sins O God forgive. Break the spell of that which blinds our minds.
Purify our hearts that we may see thee.
O God in these turbulent days when fear and doubt are mounting high give us broad visions, penetrating eys, and power of endurance.
Help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world, for a better distribution of wealth, and for a brotherhood that transcends race or color.
In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Just a note: the various viewpoints included in these newsletters (either by authors of content or the organizations they represent) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint or position of the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). The editors present them in the spirit of learning and reflection.