Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Community Radio, Podcasts, Religion, and Money (Yowza)

I have been trying to figure out the direction for Progressive Spirit in terms of making it sustainable and connected with the two entities that make it possible, my congregation and the radio station where it is produced. The content of the show is mine. It serves a niche. Progressive, sometimes radical, politics, values, education and activism.  The tagline is spirituality and social justice.

There are a number of interesting complications to all of this. My congregation and I are working out a "memorandum of understanding" between my show and the church. In essence, the show is supported by the church but is distinct. We are working out the details of that and I am exploring the option of a non-profit board to support the program.

On one hand, the show is part of my job as a minister. I fund books, equipment, websites from my professional expense, a budget item for the show from the church, and my own personal expenses.  At this point, to run the show takes probably $2000 a year. I want to add transcripts and other things to make it more accessible.

But, I have studio time at KBOO to interview guests, produce the podcast and my monthly show, Beloved Community, that airs every second Friday at 9 am. In addition to my own website, KBOO posts my podcast on its website.  I do have a home studio, and I do a lot of production from it, but it isn't at all as cool as the radio station is for recording interviews. The radio station is an important part of this. I am indebted to it and happy to be so.

I also support the radio station with volunteer time and membership and I serve on the KBOO board until my term expires September 2018.  For the next few weeks, I will be working on getting restaurants to supply food for the station for the volunteers during the upcoming fund drive.

I really love the vision, work and mission of KBOO and want to do my part to make sure it is running and healthy and providing access to many diverse voices. I also love the work and mission of my congregation and I think it is great to connect these communities.

But it can be tricky. We have a religious institution, a community radio station, and me.  And not just one community station. Progressive Spirit currently airs on six stations weekly and others sporadically. It is a podcast and radio show. When we bring money into the equation, it gets way more tricky.

I was exploring at the suggestion of a friend, Patreon.  Out of curiosity, I set it up. So far I have one patron, my beloved wife who pledged a dollar an episode.  She hasn't paid. Obviously, I haven't done much with that. It seems complicated. I think it would be fun to set up Patreon and have the money go to KBOO. Would that work?

Even if that were possible, I still need to fund the show.  Frankly, I don't like asking for money. I have a service that is worth something to others. It is cleaner on one level to sell advertising. Since my podcast is on Podomatic, they have some kind of offshoot thing called Advertisecast. So, I set it up to see how it works.

I sold one ad. It was an app for Simply Zen. The ad was for $5. Advertisecast took $1. Then I went and purchased the app for $2. It is pretty cool, actually.  I made a $2 profit. I will donate it to KBOO.  I was curious how it all worked and how podcasts get monetized. I went and talked to some folks at KBOO about this and then decided to put the Patreon and Advertisecast accounts on the shelf.

I don't know how to do all of this and do it correctly and legally and with love and peace and justice for all parties.  I would love to share the wealth of my vast media empire with my two favorite non-profits, KBOO and Southminster as well as fund and improve the show. My guess is that a separate non-profit entity to fund the show is the way to go, perhaps similar to the way New Dimensions works it out.

Anyone else traversed these murky waters?




Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Shuck and Jive is Eleven

I started this blog on July 4th, 2006.  Here is that first post.  I sought to write a blog about truth and goodness, with the ironic title, Shuck and Jive. One of my favorite phrases that guides my ministry is from the Presbyterian Book of Order.

Truth is in Order to Goodness.

Here is the complete text:
F-3.0104 Truth and Goodness
That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness, according to our Savior’s rule, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And that no opinion can either be more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.
Truth matters. Duty matters. I have not become so cynical, so post-modern, that I no longer trust that truth and goodness are ideals still worth pursuing. We live within the fog of spin and marketing. What is spoken is not important. What is done is not important. What is important is what a person with power can make people believe is true and good.

The mainstream media is purchased. Every politician is purchased. The presidency is nothing more than a new mask on the same empty suit.  Whether that mask looks like George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama, or Donald J. Trump, (or had it been Hillary R. Clinton) the hollow empty container is the same. It is the hole of spin and marketing that exists to sell Americans that we are exceptional and thus deserve "the American Way of Life." This way of life is the consumption of 20 million barrels of oil per day when we produce 9 million bpd. This way of life is using 25 percent of the world's resources while we are 5 percent of the world's population.

Whether that is morally wrong or right is beside the point. The point is that this discrepancy does not exist without militarism, subterfuge, murder, and lies disguised as morality and goodness, in other words, this discrepancy does not exist apart from evil in high places.

America is not good. Charles Krauthammer whines that American children are not learning enough nice things about America. I wish what he is concerned about was happening. The truth is that neither American adults or children know what actually built America (genocide and slavery) and what sustains it (military dominance of fossil fuels). We follow the adage never to look a gift horse in the mouth. Because of corporate influence on politics and media and cheap toys for the consumers, nothing of substance will ever change. Unless...

America can be good. Representative democracy (thanks, Presbyterians) is not a bad form of government. The problem with it is that it requires every citizen to participate by seeking truth. When our paychecks are based on avoiding truth, we tend not to participate in truth-seeking and we fight over partisan politics that get us nowhere. The empty suit (whether Democrat or Republican) regardless of rhetoric, regardless of charm, regardless of whether he is a black guy who reads Niebuhr or a white guy who tweets, neither does anything to end the wars. Neither does anything to end our march to extinction.  Still...

America can be good if we want it to be good. There is a price. If we want goodness we must seek truth. Truth hurts before it heals. The truth that will end our wars is possible to uncover. When enough people say truth matters and act on that truth as patriots, change will come.

This is a revolution.

Happy Independence Day.

John Shuck, Signatory
Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth
9/11 Truth Action Project

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

KBOO Stands For Love

KBOO has released a statement about the death threats to the organizers of the Good in the Hood event this weekend.   I was happy to work on this statement with others.   We hope that the multicultural celebration will get a great turnout and show that love not hate is our guiding ethic.

I would certainly be there this weekend, but Lovely is taking me on a cruise as summer vacation begins for her on Friday.   Anyway, here is the statement from KBOO.

***

Published date: 
Friday, June 16, 2017 - 3:00pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information
Gil Cardon and Delphine Criscenzo
KBOO Station Co-Managers
- See more at: http://kboo.fm/blog/58609#sthash.ZJo5l1vB.dpuf

KBOO Takes Stand for Love
PORTLAND, OR ­­­-The KBOO Foundation Board and its staff denounces violence and threats of violence in the Portland metro and reaffirms its commitment to resist hate with love. In response to:
  • attacks on the MAX that resulted in the stabbing deaths of Rick Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, the wounding of KBOO volunteer Micah Fletcher, and the harassment of two young women
  • a letter containing death threats to Good in the Hood president, Shawn Penney, and a threat of violence to the upcoming Good in the Hood event, June 23-25
  • transphobic graffiti in a Beaverton school
  • and a rise of Islamophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and white supremacist rhetoric and actions in the Portland metro…
KBOO reaffirms its commitment to resist hate with love, ignorance with understanding, fear with courage, and despair with hope.  
For nearly 50 years, KBOO Community Radio has devoted its broadcast frequencies, and more recently its web presence, to the diverse voices of our community. We must step up to be even more assertive in resisting oppression and our KBOO community is committed to respond to hate by understanding its systemic structure and taking courageous action.
In addition to broadcasting dynamic programming from diverse sources to engage Portland and the world with radical love, and supporting conversation about oppression within our own community, KBOO has developed a strategic vision for 2017-2020 “to deepen its internal and external connections to build "The Beloved Community."
The KBOO Foundation Board and its staff encourage the community’s organizations, businesses, schools, religious institutions, police forces, media outlets, and government offices to join us to consciously and actively reduce systemic oppression within their organizations. KBOO also encourages all individuals to attend the....
25TH ANNUAL GOOD IN THE HOOD
MULTICULTURAL MUSIC, ARTS & FOOD FESTIVAL
June 23 - 25, 2017
LIllis Albina Park (North Flint Street & Russell Street, Portland, OR 97227)
KBOO invites everyone in its listening area to partner with us and build the Beloved Community.
KBOO broadcasts at
90.7 fm in Portland
104.3 fm in Corvallis
91.9 fm in Hood River
and worldwide at www.KBOO.FM
*************************

KBOO Community Radio's Mission: KBOO is an independent, member-supported, non-commercial, volunteer-powered community radio station. KBOO embodies equitable social change, shares knowledge, and fosters creativity by delivering locally rooted and diverse music, culture, news, and opinions, with a commitment to the voices of oppressed and underserved communities.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Greeting at the Embrace Festival

 I thought I would share the text of the presentation I gave at the Embrace Festival that took place May 4-6 in Portland.  I was on the panel that opened the event.

***

My name is John Shuck. You can remember my name by thinking of Oh Shucks, or shucking corn or shucking oysters, or shuck and jive. That is the name of a blog I wrote regularly for awhile, since 2006 and now sporadically. Shuck and Jive.

I have been a Presbyterian minister for almost 25 years.

I currently serve a congregation in the Portland Metro called Southminster Presbyterian Church. It is in Beaverton. It is one of the sponsors of this event. It is my fourth congregation.

I also host a radio program and podcast called Progressive Spirit.  A weekly hour long interview show with authors, scholars and activists about social justice, spirituality, religion, politics, science, sex.

I record and produce the program at a community radio station here in Portland, 90.7 KBOO. I volunteer there and engineer and host Democracy Now on Mondays and Thursdays and I currently serve on the board of KBOO. I want to talk about this station a little bit because this radio work is my avocation, my hobby, my passion. My wife says I have two fulltime jobs, my church job and my radio work. Only one of them pays.

But the radio work pays in important ways. My radio work keeps me sane. It also keeps me informed. It requires me to speak from the heart in my job as a minister. The Latin root word for heart is cor. Think coronary. Also think courage. Same root word. Courage and heart. To have a heart, a big heart, is to be courageous and to be courageous means having a big heart. My work at KBOO is the inspiration for me to be courageous to have a heart.

KBOO has been in existence for nearly 50 years in Portland. It is one of the early community stations. It provides a variety of programming and at the center of it are its volunteers. I want to share with you KBOO’s vision statement:
Vision Statement and Charter:
  • KBOO fearlessly strives to deliver powerfully just, lovingly eclectic, vibrantly provocative grassroots content while honoring our growing radical revolutionary legacy. 
  • KBOO commits to providing an inclusive, empowering atmosphere to decolonize mass consciousness with humility and integrity, making a lasting and evolving impact on our communities. 
  • KBOO embraces a creative climate that emphasizes fun, truth, beauty, joy, peace, love, and justice.
This community radio station is in effect a sacred community that participates in social transformation.

Is it perfect? Ha! Of course not, it is filled with humans. Of course, we have conflicts and hassles and budgets and everything else. But it is a community. A community that has heart.

Here is my point. We need communities with heart. I will speak for myself. I need such a community. I need it because I need to be reminded, prodded, and challenged to speak from heart, live from the heart, and be courageous. Courage and heart to speak truth.

We live in a country that lives by lying. In fact, lying, falsehoods, dissembling, has become so popular that our leaders don’t even fake it. None of our institutions from churches, to government, to corporations, to media, to education are speaking primarily from the heart, speaking the truth with courage.

The reason is pretty clear. Truth-telling is not rewarded with promotion or status or material wealth. When I am talking about truth and courage and heart I am not talking about being absolutely right. I am talking about being true to ourselves and valuing what is true.

I am going to speak about three people very quickly who I admire as people of courage and heart. Two of them are here and will speak at this festival.

Matthew Fox is a truth-teller. He told the truth that theological doctrines such as original sin and many others were not true and thus harmful. He wrote a book called Original Blessing. You will hear his story, but in short, he was booted from the Catholic church because he wouldn’t shut up about sharing what he thought was true even as it cost him his ordination. It was no small thing. He continues to tell the truth about our peril and our possibility. You are fortunate to be able to hear Matthew this weekend.

The second person in my trinity is Gretta Vosper. She is also going to be speaking today. She told the truth of what she thought about theological matters including concepts of God and has been viewed as unsuitable by her denomination, the United Church of Canada. I will let her tell her story, but what I found courageous and heart-full about Gretta is that she followed her heart in working with her congregation because she respected them enough to talk about what is life-giving and real. She said honestly what other clergy have for whatever reasons been unable or unwilling to say. You are fortunate to be able to hear Gretta this weekend.

The third person is not here this weekend. I think he will be remembered as one of the most important theologians in the 21st century, even as he did most of his scholarly work in the 20th. His name is David Ray Griffin. That’s right, David Ray Griffin the “conspiracy theorist.” Did you now that the label ‘conspiracy theorist’ was invented by the CIA in the 1960s to discredit critical thinking of official government narratives? Just say “conspiracy theory” often enough and no one will ever have the courage to examine the evidence for themselves.

David Ray Griffin became the first scholarly voice of the 9/11 truth movement, the movement to challenge the official government conspiracy theory. He has written perhaps 10-12 books on the topic, one published by my own denominational publishing house. Those who were responsible for publishing it lost their jobs. I am not saying anything more about 9/11 except as it relates to courage.

Last week the American Institute of Architects had their annual meeting. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth made a resolution that there is sufficient evidence to open a new investigation into 9/11 because world trade center 7 that was not hit by a plane and that collapsed at near freefall speed into its own footprint later in the afternoon on 9/11 could not have collapsed by fire. The best scientific hypothesis is controlled demolition.

The AIA voted against the resolution just within the last couple of days. Only 4% voted in favor. Why? The Official statement was that WTC 7’s collapse “has been investigated thoroughly by competent authorities with reasonable conclusions.”

Members of Architects and Engineers for 911 truth interviewed about two dozen delegates who had voted no. They discovered this:
The vast majority of these delegates indicated no disagreement with the argument that WTC 7 did not collapse from fire. In fact, nearly half of them agreed that it was likely — if not completely evident — that WTC 7 was brought down in a controlled demolition. 
Nonetheless, most of them voted “no” because, as they put it, this was an issue the AIA should not take on. “It’s not our responsibility as architects,” some said. Others felt it was time to move on. One of those who agreed that WTC 7 was demolished said he thought it would have little impact if the AIA took a stand on the issue. Perhaps most unsettling, though, were the few architects who said they simply didn’t care."
I am sharing this little anecdote because I am grateful for people like David Ray Griffin. I am grateful for people who risk their reputations, often their livelihoods because they feel that a truth needs to be told.

Sacred Communities and Social Transformation cannot be a marketing ploy. Regardless of what you think about 9/11, we are in deep trouble. We are facing serious crises to our planet and we have people in positions of power doing horrible things. They think they will get away with it because they know that like those architects who knew better but kept silent, most people won’t care.

I don’t care what your religion is or how you celebrate and lament and what philosophy guides you, but I do care about being in a community that supports truth-telling, and encourages it.

I hope you have one or find one.

Thanks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Celebrating Ramadan is The Most American Thing We Can Do


Over 1000 people attended the Ramadan Tent Project PDX Open Iftar 2017 at the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard over the Memorial Day Weekend.    I was able to attend the first night and hear the liberating speech of Aneelah Afzali as she dismantled stereotypes of women in Islam and provided the factual history of the liberating work of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on behalf of women.    She and the university students who organized this event are true American patriots.   They represent a voice of America and Islam that is courageous, compassionate, collaborative, and strong.    I could have listened to her speak all night.

Aneelah Afzali

This first night of Ramadan began with grief and shock as throughout the day we heard the news of the fatal stabbing on the MAX in Northeast Portland.   Two men had their throats slashed as they attempted to defend two young women who were being harassed.   A third man was sent to the hospital with injuries.  The reports were that the assailant had been saying anti-Muslim sentiments at the young women that accompanied a barrage of hateful comments in general.   The men stepped in to protect them and were attacked.

The Muslim community responded by raising funds for the families of these men, and as of this blog post over $450,000 has been raised under the banner "Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes."   The Portland Mercury has a list of other places raising funds for the surviving hero and the for the teenage girls who have been traumatized.


In addition to grief and shock I saw determination and hope at the Open Iftar.   Various politicians were there and some spoke and that is a good thing.   But the revolution needed in our country that will overcome hatred and bullying will be led by the young women and men who organized this event and the rest of us who follow their example.

The Ramadan Tent Project 2017 Team

They gave us a glimpse of what America is becoming by generously offering their beautiful tradition of fasting and service and an open table to everyone.    While I am a strong supporter of the separation of religion and state, still I would like Ramadan to be celebrated and acknowledged by our nation.   It is a celebration that embodies the best of our American values.


The Crescent Moon at Sunset 
I despair daily over America with its legacy of slavery, racism, genocide, imperialism, xenophobia, and selfishness.   This Open Iftar showed me that there is another star rising in our nation.   It is led by the radical hospitality that is embodied in the spirit of Ramadan and in these youth who are inviting us to be human beings.  
   

Hanan Al-Zubaidy Announcing the Call to Prayer

Hear interviews with organizers, Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Al-Zubaidy:

OPB Think Out Loud
Progressive Spirit (34:48)
Sprouts on Pacifica Radio Network

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ramadan Tent Project Portland!


Ramadan Tent Project 

You are invited to an open Iftar, Saturday, Sunday and Monday  evenings (May 27, 28, 29) at the Muslim Educational Trust.   It is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal (provided by the students) and experience an inter-faith celebration!   It is the Ramadan Tent Project Portland.  It begins at 7:30  pm each evening.  

Here is an interview I had with the two organizers Sadaf Assadi and Hanan Alzubaidy on the Pacifica Radio Network. 

They were also interviewed on OPB's Think Out Loud today.  Listen here.   

They could get a big crowd.  You can help them purchase food by donating here

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Inequality for All

We continue our Tuesday evening study/discussion group, "The Church Beyond Its Walls" with the film Inequality For All featuring former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich.   During Sunday's sermon, Yahweh Goes Camping, I broached the topic of inequality and its corrective through the Jubilee Year in Leviticus 25:
I offer a challenge to those of us with modern sensibilities. In Leviticus 25 we learn about the Year of Jubilee or in the Contemporary English Version, the Year of Celebration. Leviticus 25:10: 
“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families.” 
This is radical. This rule makes Bernie Sanders look like a neo-con. Every fifty years we start over. All the money the wealthy made and the land they possessed gets redistributed. Imagine that. Written in to the constitution is redistribution of wealth so that you won’t end up with a wealthy few controlling the lives of the many.
Here is a statistic that should boil our blood:
With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.
I really don't like Yahweh much. He thinks too highly of himself, is petty, jealous, abusive, and kind of weird. He likes the smell of cooked meat and to be surrounded by nice things.  But, he does kick butt. If Yahweh were real, I bet he'd kick some billionaire butt.
Leviticus 25 that describes this Year of Jubilee is the climax of the Book of Leviticus. The book leads up to this. This is what it is really about. Yahweh says in 25:23: 
"No land may be permanently bought or sold. It all belongs to me—it isn’t your land, and you only live there for a little while." 
Petty, angry, jealous Yahweh said that. It is the most radical verse in the Bible. It is the most radical statement ever made. None of our economists or jurists or legislators or executors or professors or bureaucrats or smart people in general have ever come up with anything as radical as Leviticus chapter 25. 
If you want to be holy as Yahweh is holy, if you want to love your neighbor as yourself, if you want to live sustainably and survive in the land that Yahweh is renting to you, then every 50 years, redistribute. Start over and don’t cheat. 
This rule is not based on charity or voluntarily giving up the wealth. This is the law written into the constitution itself. Justice is not charity. If we are to live justly on Earth, justice must be established by force of law. If this isn’t happening, then it is time for revolution.... 
Inequality in which 400 billionaires own over half the nation’s wealth is not inevitable. It is not part of the human condition. It is not the result of the wealthy working harder than the rest of the population. It is theft at a grand scale. Every day in our country whatever protections we have left are being whittled away by these monsters who are in power and who have been gaining power for a long time. Until we begin to name this theft for what it is, we will never change it.
Where have you gone, warrior Yahweh?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Tonight at 7 pm we will watch the film, 9/11: Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out.   I have determined that AE911Truth is doing solid work and does not chase after "conspiracy theories."  They focus on the science of the destruction of the three skyscrapers on 9/11.   They don't speculate on other issues surrounding that day but instead they present the evidence and the best scientific descriptions of that evidence.   They do seek one thing:  an independent investigation of 9/11.
Our mission is to research, compile, and disseminate scientific evidence relative to the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers, calling for a truly open and independent investigation and supporting others in the pursuit of justice.



Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About The Destruction of World Trace Center Buildings 1, 2 and 7 is a helpful book that accompanies the film.  Everyone who attends tonight will get a photocopy of the pdf.  

Last week I offered my own personal journey through 9/11 and tonight I let the film speak for itself and invite whatever discussion arises.   If you think enough doubt is raised with the film to at least question the official narrative of what happened on 9/11, you will be interested in signing this petition from the 911Truth Action Project either on-line or I will have paper petitions available tonight as well.  It reads:
I hereby petition for, and demand, an independent, comprehensive investigation, satisfying all standards specified by the 9/11 Truth Action Project, including subpoena power, testimony under oath, and study of all relevant evidence, leading to transparency and accountability for the crimes of September 11, 2001 and justice for its victims. My name, city, and state will be publicly presented to Congress at www.911TAP.org. My other information will remain private and not released to third parties.
I have signed the above statement. If you are an architect or engineer, the AE911Truth welcomes your support.

Invite friends and neighbors.

Tonight, Tuesday May 23rd.  Room 7.  7-8:30 pm.








Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How I Became A Truther

I have been a "truther" since I read David Ray Griffin's book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 that was published by my denomination's publishing house, Westminster John Knox Press. At first, some took what he had written seriously.  A study guide was created for helping church people digest it.

PCUSA staff weren't quite sure how to approach the book.  Chris Iosso provided a rather odd review in Presbyterian Outlook in which he tries to distance himself from Griffin "However my own suspicions work against the book's argument" but offers no "suspicions" and essentially praised Griffin's scholarship.    As it turned out, after pressure from conservatives the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation apologized for publishing it, ceased its connection with the book, and "departed" those responsible for publishing it.  (From 9/11 and Nationalist Faith, lecture by Professor Griffin):
Godshall, moreover, did not merely censure my book and Westminster John Knox for publishing it. The two men at the press who made the decision to publish it were soon to depart. 
According to the story in the Louisville-Courier Journal, “Godshall said no one would be disciplined for approving the book” and that “the board would continue to defend the editorial independence of the corporation.” 
In fact, however, Godshall began micromanaging, so Davis Perkins, who was already angry at Godshall for having apologized for the publication of my book, resigned as president and publisher of Westminster John Knox to take another position. One week later, Jack Keller, the vice president for publication, was fired. 
What is the message? While Jack Keller was vice president for publishing at WJK, it had published several books by me. One of them, God, Power, and Evil, rejects the traditional doctrine of omnipotence. It even specifically criticizes this doctrine as held by John Calvin, the founding theologian of the Presbyterian Church. Another book explicitly denies that God can interrupt the world’s normal causal relations, which means that there can be no miracles as traditionally understood and no infallibly inspired scriptures. But no one was fired for publishing these books. No one screamed that by publishing these books, the press was implying that the Presbyterian Church accepted these ideas. 
So what is the message to publishers at church presses? It is that they can publish books that are highly critical of traditional Christian doctrines without losing their jobs. But they had better not publish anything that challenges the idea that America is fundamentally good, the exceptional nation, because this is the one religious belief that cannot be challenged.
Here we are ten years after its publication and sixteen years after the events of 9/11. Does uncovering the truth and demanding a full investigation into 9/11 still matter?    I believe it does because of all the death and destruction that has happened (and continues to happen) because of 9/11.  Most importantly for me it matters because truth matters.   Tonight I continue our Tuesday night series, "The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls."

I tell my own story of how I became suspicious of the government's official conspiracy theory and why I think it is important for Americans to take action and demand an independent investigation.   Next week we will watch the film by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, "9/11: Explosive Evidence--Experts Speak Out."

Here is the description of what will happen tonight and next week on the website:
The Church’s Role Beyond Its Walls, Tuesdays from 7-8:30 pm, Room 7 
May 16 - John’s personal journey through 9/11 tying together 9/11, The Myth of Redemptive Violence, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, and Resource Depletion, especially Peak Oil. 
May 23 - (Film) “9/11: Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out” by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. www.ae911truth.org We will keep options open regarding the remaining Tuesdays if there is interest in discussing these topics further or other topics. John will continue discussions and films for those who are interested. We will decide that on May 23rd.

Childcare is provided.  The public is invited.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls

"The Church's Role Beyond Its Walls" is the title of a series of educational events at Southminster beginning tonight and every Tuesday through June.   We have started the Tuesday night sessions that are open to the larger community since November.  We have had forums on houselessness and dismantling racism as well as forums on how to respond to the new political situation especially on behalf of those most vulnerable.   We spent several weeks reviewing the history of the Civil Rights movement by watching Eyes on the Prize.  Now we are moving into another phase.

The Tuesday night gatherings called "Building the Beloved Community" are for empowerment and community building as well as education.   The evening runs from seven to eight-thirty.   Some of the topics may include:

  • Sanctuary Churches as a safe place for undocumented workers.
  • Protecting the Right to Free Speech (particularly the right to protest).
  • Freedom of Religion (i.e. discuss ban Muslims from entering the U.S.)
  • A Humane Guest Worker Program
  • Medical Fairness and Care for All A Moral Budget as opposed to a Militarized Budget.
  • Education Fairness (should college be free?)
  • Worker Fairness and the right to unionize.

There is plenty to talk about.  I am going to kick off the series with three presentations entitled "Ethics As Worlds End" on my personal theological/political journey through exploring 9/11, peak oil, and the end of religion.    I suggest that two powerful myths that guide Americans are "The Myth of Redemptive Violence" and "The Myth of American Exceptionalism."   I will try to describe what these myths are and how they operate in our culture toward destructive ends, ultimately our demise.

The task of theology (and thus the role of the church beyond its walls) is to give words and stories to the myths that guide us and to offer counter-myths, myths of resistance and myths of hope.    I think this is what Jesus did when he offered his parables of the kingdom of God in opposition to the kingdom of "this world" (i.e. Caesar).

Some of the thinkers I will draw from are the late Walter Wink (myth of redemptive violence)Stephen Walt (myth of American exceptionalism), and David Ray Griffin, (American exceptionalism and nationalist faith).

This is my personal story.  What I mean by that is that I will present what I think I know and let others draw their own conclusions.  I won't argue about or resist other views.  My ultimate goal is to keep a conversation going about the crucial importance of critical thinking about who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going.

Join us?

Every Tuesday night from May 2 through June 20.    We meet in Room 7 at Southminster.  Seven p.m.  Everyone is welcome.