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!
"Attachment. That's what keeps us from recognizing when our opinions are off the mark and rethinking them. To unlock the joy of being wrong, we need to detach. I've learned that two kinds of detachment are especially useful: detaching your present from your past and detaching your opinions from your identity.
Let's start with detaching your present from your past...In the moment, separating your past self from your current self can be unsettling. Even positive changes can lead to negative emotions; evolving your identity can leave you feeling derailed and disconnected. Over time though, rethinking who you are appears to become mentally healthy--as long as you can tell a coherent story about how you got from past to present you. In one study, when people felt detached from their past selves, they became less depressed over the course of the year. When you feel as if your life is changing direction, and you're in the process of shifting who you are, it's easier to walk away from foolish beliefs you once held...
The second kind of detachment is separating your opinions from your identity....Most of us are accustomed to defining ourselves in terms of our beliefs, ideas, and ideologies. This can become a problem when it prevents us from changing our minds as the world changes and knowledge evolves. Our opinions can become so sacred that we grow hostile to the mere thought of being wrong, and the totalitarian ego leaps to silence counter-arguments, squash contrary evidence, and close the door on learning.
Who you are should be a question of what you value, not what you believe. Values are your core principles in life--they might be excellence and generosity, freedom and fairness, or security and integrity. Basing your identity on these kinds of principles enables you to remain open--minded about the best ways to advance them."
Scholar Ibram X. Kendi adapts a short story published by Hurston in the Spokesman in 1925.
The Mighty River tells the whimsical, mischievous Brook the story of Bentley, who flees slavery for a Florida forest where Black and Native people live free together as Maroons. Bentley marries Swift Deer, a Cherokee woman who escaped the Trail of Tears, and they have a daughter named Magnolia Flower, who “came at the time of the flowers opening.” When the Civil War ends, Magnolia falls in love with John, a Black man whom Bentley dislikes because he is poor. Bentley locks John up in their house to keep him away from Magnolia, but one night, Magnolia frees John and escapes with him by boat, making the Mighty River a part of their story. The tale comes full circle when Magnolia and John return 47 years later to reflect on and affirm their love. Deeply committed to sharing Hurston’s writing with young readers, Kendi writes in his author’s note about the elements of Black folklore in the story, such as making nature a speaking character. And, as he stresses in a historical note, the tale is a powerful example of Black and Native resistance—an aspect of history that far too often goes undiscussed. Wise’s earth-toned, opalescent illustrations make the trees, water, and flowers feel just as key to the tale as the humans. The excellent marriage between lyrical text and stunning visuals makes for a moving, memorable story.
An artfully rendered tale of life and love that also conveys an essential but often overlooked chapter in U.S. history. (Picture book. 5-10)
Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism in partnership with the Friends Committee on National Legislation present:
Friends in Unlikely Places: Engaging With Those Who Don't Agree With You
On Monday, October 17th
This workshop uses research and approaches from the field of moral reframing to teach a framework for engaged and open conversations between people who hold different views: Ask, Listen, Affirm and Reframe. Presented in an advocacy context based on FCNL’s mission, these approaches also work well in inter-personal relationships.
Free on Zoom! You MUST register in order to get the Zoom Link!
TRUE CHRISTIANITY 852 (A SUMMARY OF THE MEMORABLE RELATION IN 387)
After that, I went into a large garden. A spirit showed me around. We came to a magnificent building called the Temple of Wisdom. It was square; its walls were made of crystal; its roof was made of jasper; its foundation was made of different types of precious stone. The spirit told me that none were allowed in it unless they believe that what they know, understand, and are wise about is so relatively small as to be almost nonexistent compared to what they do not know, do not understand, and are not wise about. Because this was my belief, I was allowed to go in. I saw that the whole temple was built to be a form of light. In the temple, I related what I had just heard from the two angels concerning love and wisdom; [the spirits there] asked whether the angels had mentioned the third element, which is usefulness. [The spirits] said that without usefulness love and wisdom are mere conceptual entities; only in usefulness do they become real. The same is true for goodwill, faith, and good actions.
FROM THE SPIRIT
THE WISDOM OF GOD, By Howard Thurman
Knowledge abounds on every hand by which my steps may be guided. Facts, facts, facts...they are everywhere about me. I know with my mind the meaning of many choices I make...But facts are not the heart of my need.
I need wisdom. The quality that will make clear to me the significance, the relatedness of things that are a part of my daily experience--this I lack again and again. I need wisdom to cast a slow and steady radiance over all my landscape in order that things, choices, and deeds may be seen in their true light--the light of the eternal and the timeless.
The wisdom of God--how can I abide without it? If that is withdrawn then I am forced to lean on my own understanding or the understanding and opinions of others. The wisdom of God can flood even the error of my ways and transform my error into a path of light. God has been at work in life longer than my days and the days of humanity's long journey and will give to me the full sweep of God's spirit even in my little life and its big problems. This I know. Therefore:
The Wisdom of God is my abiding strength.
(Photo by Rahul Pandit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/heart-book-art-on-bokeh-photography-1884326/)
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.