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The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

What does the Beloved Community look like as it sits between the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systematic racism? Do we need to redraw the boundaries of Beloved Community to include more people awakening today to the moral injury they have caused or victimized them? At the center of it all, the aim is still to bring people together through this century’s pandemics and into liberation’s light. She has not dimmed. I want us to be in Beloved Community. And I want us to move towards freedom together. And I want us to know that freedom is not “over there,” but instead, freedom is at hand, in hand, and as close as your heart is to you. Freedom is at the center of it all, and at every step in this journey, we must recalibrate as often as the news brings us worse and worsening news.

I want you to know Beloved that this moment is the only one you get, so you must use your gifts now and not delay them. You must understand that if in whatever moment you find yourself in, if it doesn’t feel like you have a praise report today, a stockholder’s meeting with God, to share today the dividends with God on God’s investment, if you can’t say to those new on the road to freedom, the coordinates of your freedom road, then you are not present in this moment. But all is not lost. What is pleasing to God in the middle of twin pandemics is that you experience God’s peace today, experience God’s love today, and experience God’s justice today. This is pleasing to God. You must be the peace, the love, and the justice, and you must inspire other people to peace, love, and justice, for this is pleasing to God.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. Isaiah 55:10-13

At the center of it all, like everyone else, I just want to bring people together in Beloved Community. My job is to help people to interpret this moment through both trauma-informed and joy informed lenses. We miss out on the promise if we unearth trauma and not unearth the joy that sits directly beneath it, ready to be excavated. And at the center of it all, your flight, or your fright response, God is walking with you through whatever moment whispers to you in the quiet hours.

For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Did you leave the sanctuary in joy? Has that joy carried you through these four months of the pandemic? At the center of it all, like everyone else, I just want to bring people together. And make sure that we are grounded in this moment. Make sure we are not romanticizing the past but being present and shaping a future. A New York Times article came out three days ago with the headline: Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are Confronting Coronavirus Cases. It said, “More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans got back to normal.

I have known that the architecture of our church’s sanctuary, and the rituals we perform on Sundays, are the optimal conditions for the virus to spread. I’ve known that I have been grieving the loss of the congregation as I knew it, the pulpit as I knew it, the podium as I knew it, the microphone as I knew, the choir as I knew it and the band as I knew it. I have known that it will be hard to bring people to think that Facebook Live is what “bringing people together” means. I have known that “online” had to take on new meaning. I have known that I had to take on a new meaning. I have had to shapeshift before. I have had to call myself something else when I was called worthless and lucky that I could get any kind of love, let alone the one I desired. Then I realized that the charge has not changed. And that this moment was not wrong, church was not wrong for moving from unsafe to safe, and our rituals were not suddenly wrong or weakened because we are online. Being asked to believe in a God that “will punish us if don’t go back to worshipping as normal” or believing that a “God will protect us if we go back to worshipping as normal” is wrong.

God says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater” and that means that you should not wait, water the earth beneath where you stand. Be the praise, and do not wait for the praise. Give the seed, which replicates your joy, to the one who is joyless and gives the bread of your efforts to a hungry world. And now, every time I hear someone say, “Let’s get back to normal.” I hear, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” I hear, “Who I am only fits who I was.” And I ask, “Who benefits from ‘normal’ and who benefits from that ‘greatness’?” You are not normal if you come to GLIDE.

The article said that the outbreak, “happened in churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.” One pastor said, “in his own church, congregants were social distancing and mostly wearing masks. And he had live-streamed services initially on Facebook, but some congregants begged to return to church, and others did not have reliable internet access.” Another pastor whose church was a virus ground zero, said, “…we had people who were away from fellowship for so long and in isolation. They were hurting. We just got to a point where we thought, we need to have normal church services.” They acquiesced, they gave-in, they broke, and the virus swept through their churches. There is a truth in begging.

People fear for their spiritual lives more than their physical lives, no matter how many times I tell them that, “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the lord.” No matter how many times I say, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” But the questions, “How do we learn to live with COVID?” And “How do we adapt?” But the questions, “How can we live in fear of the virus?” and “Is the virus bigger than God?” are interesting to me, because we are not saying “Under no condition, will I stop shining my light because of COVID.” I am a black man, which meant that my mother lived concerned, because of the expectations. I have always been aware that the dreams often end prematurely. These experiences make me feel deeply about the new national worry that COVID surfaces. I worry about your cancer. I worry about your AIDS. I worry about your age. I worry about your lack of sleep. I worry about you being alone. I worry about your financial state. I worry about COVID and how it could be a devastating last straw. What I realize at this moment is that church is a microcosm of the global conversation in these twin pandemics of COVID and Racism: The disparities in treatment between rich white churches and GLIDE.

The church’s COVID 19 conversation is about safety and what equity looks like. It is definitely and always a spiritual conversation because it is a conversation about culture and community care and the diminishing spirit and spirituality of our people. And it is about reimagining this moment. Yes, it is about the economy restarting, and it is so much more. It is about getting the hope going- that a spiritual economy restarted inspires. It is getting the cultural economy restarted. It is about getting our community’s community pride economy restarted. It is about the economy of black children’s dreams restarted. It is about getting the inspiration that comes uniquely through the creative economy restarted.

We need what religion and spirituality is offering in this moment. We need to point to our sacred text and lift the stories to let the world know how to persist, and how to get off the grind and have some leisure time, how to rally courage, and how to find the deepest wells of power (even when the well has run dry). We Need that! We Need the church! The news is getting worse, how do we reimagine what we need for these times? What negative messages do you think our families are receiving today? When everything we do and invite people to do has to be reimagined…

  1. Connection
  2. Handholding
  3. Hugging
  4. Singing and Shouting
  5. Moving
  6. Dancing
  7. Sweating
  8. Passing and sharing food, and printed matter

And now we know that “closed spaces are the virus’ favorite space to be.” 650 cases. So, “No, not yet. No in-person service.” I hear you begging for normalcy, and I know the hurt from being separated from the community you love, and that loves you. But no, not yet. One day. Okay, what is the center of my joy and my belief? Okay. Love. And do I believe that I still preach joy and love without a physical church? Okay. Yes. And is love bigger than our building? Yes. At the center of it all, I just want to bring people together. I just want to remind you that you are the Word of God, and that should animate you exactly where you stand, and you should kiss it up to God. God is expecting you to open your gifts. This completes God. So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Our love of what we do is exhibited in the church and arena, but the church and the arena do not generate the love. Our congregation and visitors bring it, and it is just more visible because of the numerosity, the number of folks that are gathered.

So, we are in our 5th month of our “Sunday Celebration Online.” We stream live twice every Sunday from the eight different remote locations of our participants, and we mix it together with historical clips of the choir singing. Love in the time of Corona says we have to be like the entrepreneurs in tech, because this is a season for reimagining. This is the part in the story where your multi-million-dollar start-up tanked, and you aren’t defeated, because the idea is still good, and how you do it, how you remember the lessons, and how you start again, just has to be imagined differently. God is still good. Your dreams are still valid. You are not off course, off base, too late, or too early. You are not behind on your payments. At the center of the church experience is the self’s transformation through an encounter with the spirit of love that gets exhibited when two or two hundred or more are gathered. And lastly, I know that we have to have a plan. We cannot just “open back up.” But I also know that we cannot allow ourselves to be “shut down,” creatively, emotionally, or spiritually either.

Amen

This weekend’s Pride celebrations will be unlike any other–they will mostly be virtual. Amid the global pandemic, the most profound social upheaval since the 1960s, we reflect on the origins of the LGBTQ liberation movement and GLIDE’s historical support of LGBTQ communities, including LGBTQ communities of color. Since the early 1960s, GLIDE has embraced the demand for and celebration of radical inclusivity.

GLIDE as a place for all people, whatever their experience or background or faith, goes back to 1963. In that year Reverend Cecil Williams joined a group of progressive pastors who together took an early stand for same sex couples, presiding over their weddings nearly four decades before the legalization of gay marriage in California.

At a time of intense criminalization of homosexuality, which included the practice of arrest and police violence leveled at LGBTQ communities, Rev. Williams and other GLIDE ministers were also among the founders of The Council on Religion and the Homosexual in 1964—along with the renowned LGBTQ rights pioneers and activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The San Francisco-based community organization joined LGBTQ activists and religious leaders in an effort to educate religious communities about gay and lesbian people and to speak out against homophobia and discrimination through inclusive, collective dialogue. It was the first organization in the U.S. to use “homosexual” as part of its name.

On January 1, 1965, the Council famously sponsored the Mardi Gras Ball at California Hall, to celebrate both the founding of the organization and the inclusivity it aimed to cultivate. Although the SFPD had issued a permit, the evening celebration was interrupted by a forceful police raid. The event would later become known as “San Francisco’s Stonewall.”

The following year, one of the first LGBTQ uprisings against police brutality took place in the heart of the Tenderloin, marking the beginning of the transgender liberation movement in San Francisco. The pivotal revolutionary act—among a group whose members included young people who had found a safe space and support at GLIDE—came to be known as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, which preceded by three years 1969’s famous Stonewall Riots in New York City. In her 2005 film, Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, filmmaker, author and professor Susan Stryker called the uprising, “the first known incident of collective militant queer resistance to police harassment in U.S. history.”

GLIDE’s commitment to the self-expression and liberation of each member of our community continues to this day. On August 26 of last year, the 53rd anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, GLIDE held a Reflection and Reconciliation Session in which leadership from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) listened to the lived experience of LGBTQ residents and formally apologized for a history of violence and injustice against the community. The community conversation was facilitated by GLIDE’s Minister of Celebration, Marvin K. White; Pastor Megan Rohrer, a trailblazing transgender Lutheran pastor and SFPD chaplain; and Commander Teresa Ewins, the highest-ranking member of the LGTBQ community in SFPD. Reconciliation is a road we’re still on, and one that requires real structural change. Meanwhile the hopes, needs and critiques that were courageously shared at the gathering were only the first in a planned series of ongoing listening sessions.

While we are a long way from justice and reconciliation, particularly for LGBTQ folks at the intersections of racial and economic injustice, vital victories continue to be won in the struggle for love and equality as the basis for a better world. This month marked a historic achievement in that struggle. On June 15, 2020, in a decisive 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbids discrimination in employment based on race, religion, national origin or sex extends to protections for gay and transgender people.

Even with this historic step forward, one which will make a profound difference in the lives of millions of people, it is still legal under federal law for landlords, stores, restaurants and hotels to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

We proudly celebrate the steps toward the better world we have fought for together with unconditional love and solidarity, and we also recognize that there is more to be done. The struggle continues. But this year’s Pride celebrations, both online and in the street, send the message loud-and-clear: The time for radical inclusivity is now!

By Erin Gaede

Psalm 23 says,

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

The word of the lord for the radically inclusive, unconditionally loving, extravagantly welcoming, open and affirming people of God.

Amen.

I thought that this scripture, that appeared in the lectionary this week, spoke into this moment.

“Marvin, where are you reading, performing, speaking, dancing, being this week?” is the question I remember being asked often in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I had no clear path because I had no clear future, so I was ALL OVER THE PLACE.

I was called flakey, uncommitted, wishy-washy and flighty because I was looking for my future in poetry readings, in theater, in dance and in writing.

I was all over the place. I was all over creation. I was on everybody’s set. It made sense to me, the instability, the detachment, the ability to get up and go to the next thing, to have a taste satisfied and not stay for the whole meal, to have a new taste for something unnamed and then go and spend years finding it.

All over the place. See, the thing about being all over the place, is that you actually want to be still. And when you finally tire out. You have to practice being still.

At 54, I am in place. I am findable. You can locate me. I have an address. You can plan a visit with me. You can pop in on me. You can send me a card, flowers, candy. One day I realized, that I want to be in place.

I want to be installed. I want to shoot down deep roots. I want to be a respectable chandelier in my old age, mid-century modern ensconced, a Tiffany lamp appreciated in value.

And while my life may not have been lived efficiently, so close to burning out, now, because I am in place, I am working on being a beacon and a landing strip.

I am a lighthouse, a siren, a traffic signal, and you can triangulate your journey by where I stand, work, pray, preach and organize.

You see, that’s why “Sheltering-In-Place” is a spiritual principle. It says that it’s time to stop sounding the whir and being the blur.

It’s time to be sought out and found. It’s time to say to God, to spirit, to opportunity, to love, “Here I am and I ain’t going nowhere. I am “Sheltering-In-Place.” You can find me here, not waiting on you by the door, but comfortable in my skin, being my own best company, consoling myself, cooking for one.

But if you looking for me Oh Great God, I now know that all that chasing and pursuing of dreams was made for me to know that this moment, this physical distancing, is about feeling like I want you to know that you can come home to me God.

That opportunity can come home to me.

That love can come home to me.

I am finally still. I am no longer in the “Lean-to of Displace,” I am “Sheltering-In-This-Place.”

This Corona Virus and COVID-19 moment is bringing up all kinds of latent, hidden, passive, raw, unattended, sublimated and subconscious thoughts that I have held about myself. You see, I was shaped by a pandemic, and if you have ever had to recover from an accident, if you served in the military, if you are a spouse of a police officer, if you believe in miracles, if you believe in science, if you believe in both, if you believe in humanity, and nothing you believed in has made you worry less, then you, like me, you have been shaped too, and have some questions.

Right now, everybody has a hair pin.

Everybody is a missile in a silo.

Everybody got everybody else’s launch code.

Everybody’s firing.

Everybody ready to come to blows.

Everything coming up now.

Even our homes for some of us, the very homes that we are paying for, have paid for, put the welcome mat out on, our “be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home” home, feel like prisons and not castles. For some of us what’s coming up is that we never felt at home.

And that makes Sheltering-In-Place hard.

What this moment is revealing to us, and be encouraged, things are becoming clearer and not muddier right now,

What this moment is revealing is our proximity to the mother who collapses after news of her son being shot is on the evening news, you see she was in her house minding her business, just like we are right now.

Clearly, there’s no difference between us.

We are closer to the father taking back to the bottle after being laid off, and now everybody on edge because a rage is coming to their house, which is a house just like ours.

Clearly, there’s no difference between us.

Or…

You see, “Sheltering-In-Place” says that we are present flesh. Because this place is all we got.

Can’t go back to that place and we ain’t got to the next place, we “Sheltered-In-Place.”

We have to turn “Sheltering-In-Place” into a practice.

We have talked about it, and now we are really in “The Era of Self-Care.”

We are finally meditating, whether we wanted to or not.

The world is meditating.

We are finally at our “Still Point.”

Not sitting ducks. But caged birds singing.

Take a knee, and don’t sing, “Make America Normal Again.”

Don’t go back to routine, hitting alarm clocks, punching time clocks, being measured by how much blood, sweat and tears we produce alongside our work.

Don’t go back to homelessness, and violence, and sex trafficking, and poverty, and addiction being just abstraction and conceptual thoughts.

Don’t go back to being the prettiest in the room, the boss of everybody, the A-Student, the Closer, the whip-into-shaper and the unsatisfied.

I thought not knowing whether I was coming or going was normal.

Didn’t know that the gap between my realities was so spacious.

And now I know that there is a time set aside for me, that allows me to be with and be myself.

And that time is now. That ain’t never been my normal.

This moment, this Corona Virus and COVID-19 moment is my gap year. Before I join back in, I am going to look at all of my latent, hidden, passive, raw, unattended, sublimated and subconscious trauma. I am going to look at why I, at 54, let things go untreated, unpaid and unchecked.

And how despite my privileges, I’m like everybody else who don’t have access to medical care.

Even got me thinking about if I isolate and quarantine and shelter-in-place, will anybody come looking for me.

And how now I’m like everybody else who lives invisible lives in tent encampments, knowing that no one is coming to check on them.

Even got me thinking about how much time I have to stand in line to buy food.

Now I’m just like everybody else hungry enough to wait in line for a free meal.

Even got me thinking about how suspiciously people look at me in my mask.

And now I’m just like everybody else who is racially profiled wearing the exact same mask.

Even got me thinking that if I cry for help, it might be met with a physical, systemic, professional, emotional or intimate violence, but you will call them my “feels,” and tell me to be in them is a sign of weakness.

Questions come to you when you practice, “Sheltering-In-Place.”

The years of believing I am the reason for what happened to me and the reason who happened to us and now I know why that never felt right or made sense.

Because you know if black people didn’t have diabetes or hypertension or heart disease, and if old people weren’t old, and Prime Ministers weren’t Prime Ministers, and young people weren’t young people and the rich weren’t rich, and the loved weren’t loved and the fathers weren’t fathers and the mothers weren’t mothers, and the nurses weren’t nurses and the doctors weren’t doctors, then they wouldn’t be dead from the virus right now.

This is not your “Still, small voice talking,” it’s your anxiety, and “Sheltering-In-Place” shows you that sound like love, but it’s not.

But there is in this a hope and a promise.

Psalm 23 says,

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and

your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

God is a shelter-in-place my whole life long.

We have come to address in this pandemic the condition: the historical, the systemic, the dysfunctional family systems, the enabling, generational trauma, the shame, blame and secrecy, that every person who shows up needing healing gets healed of.

You can find us in our inseparable and indivisible lives intertwined in this COVID-19 moment, absolving those with COVID-19 of a crime that they did not commit and we begin to consider the mitigating circumstances; the impact of the amount of love or lovelessness in the world.

Our divine coordinates, with the one who removed our restraints and shackles to capitalism, to bring us into a knowing that we are all caught in a cycle of incarceration. And liberation is a universal right.

Our resolve is a fixed location of hope in the face of people who tell us to give up on the lives of those who are bottoming out, homeless and untested for the virus; when they tell you people are dead to you, hold on to hope.

We are finally in the zone, our locations grouped together, even in isolation, the zone of loving ourselves enough to know that our own health, mental, physical and spiritual, is important and it’s time to unlearn that you have to push through your pain or live with it, hold on to hope.

The count is rising.

The flood is rising.

The death is tolling.

The timebomb is ticking.

But hold on to hope.

Keep “Sheltering-In-Love.”

Keep, “Sheltering-In-Place.”

Your home is the open house that God has come to see. Wants to know how yawl gon’ get along when it’s time for your “dwell with him forever.”

So, Keep “Sheltering-In-Joy.”

Keep, “Sheltering-In-Place.”

Because you shall dwell in the house of the LORD your whole life long.

The Middle Passage was not your lifelong…

The Enslavement was not your lifelong…

Reconstruction, and Jim Crow and dashed Civil Rights dreams was not your lifelong…

Fighting for Women’s Rights and Suffrage was not your lifelong…

Holding on for LGBTQ protections, rights, equity and inclusion was not your lifelong…

Waiting for your stimulus check was not your lifelong…

Waiting for a cure, a balm, a test or a vaccine was not your lifelong…

And the Corona Virus and COVID-19, can only endureth for a moment, but Joy is coming in the morning.

And these two months might feel like you dwelling in the house your whole life long…Hold on!

You have done the hard part, you lived.

“Sheltering-In-Place” says you want to live so you can see the day when it’s safe to come out.

Don’t live in a house divided against itself. It won’t stand for you. Don’t stand for it.

In this moment, let love come to mind, make yours a house of prayer for all people.

Make yours a house of god. A god house.

And Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. My refuge and my fortress, is my God, in whom I trust.

“Shelter-In-Place” and rest, beloved.

Amen.

You know, months before the pandemic hit. 

Pandemics, “hit” right? 

This is going to leave a bruise, right?

Months ago, during a routine doctor’s visit,

My doctor asked, “Does diabetes run in your family?

Remembering my mama and my grand mama’s high and low sugar, 

I answered, “Yes.”

My doctor asked, “Does hypertension run in your family?

Remembering all the times my mama accused me of getting her “Pressure Up,” 

I answered, “Yes.”

My doctor asked, finally, “Does Heart Disease run in your family?”

Remembering the little “Water Pills” in the generational pill drawer, I answered, “Yes.”

My doctor said, quite calmly, “You must begin taking these medicines.”

Being all about better living through pharmaceuticals, I asked, “How long do I have to take them?”

He said, “Forever.”

That word went on…well…forever.

I’m now my mama Margaret, I thought.

I’m now my grandmother Bessie.

Pretty sure I’m now my great-grandmother Dorcas.

I know I’m my uncle Leroy.

I know I’m aunt Lavada.

I know I’m my dad Joe.

Pretty sure I’m my brother Michael.

“Does diabetes, hypertension and heart disease run in your family?”

Something about, “Predisposed, forever, preventative, forever, higher rates, forever, African-Americans, forever.”

Pandemics, “Hit” and diseases “Run.”

Bruised and out of breath, I prayed over the pills, 

“God, who is all of the elements, compound yourself into pill form for the good of my condition. Make yourself elemental. Crush the probabilities, and make it all easy to swallow. Amen.”

And I started taking them. 

Damn. Black folks always got to run, or be ran.

Damn. Women always got to run, or be ran.

Damn, Poor people always got to run, or be ran.

Damn, Gay people always got to run, or be ran

Guess this my leg of the race.

Guess I’ll run on.

I know what you’re thinking…In this race…

“Death is the finish line.

Death is the tape to break through.

Death is the pedestal.

Death is the bent neck.

Death is the weight of gold ribboned around your neck.”

But death does not win.

The finish line was the institution of the health insurance.

The finish line was the institution of the medicine for my condition. 

The finish line was the institution of the Eucharist, 

That I do in remembrance of my ancestors:

And all my relations, took the pill bottle, broke the seal, opened it, took out the cotton, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to me, and saved it for me, saying, “This is our body given to you, you are what became of us, everybody is what became of them; do this in remembrance of us.”

Likewise all of relations, after the fish fry, also took the Tupperware cup, filled it with faucet water, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in our blood, which runs to you and through you.”

Take your medicines Marvin.

Be immunocompromised in a pandemic.

Keep your ass at home.

Pray over your pill box.

Pray not, a pill against,

But for, a begging Corona Virus.

Viruses beg.

Look like tantrum.

But it’s begging for attention.

Pray in a pandemic. 

Pray that you experience love as deeply as your ancestors.

Pray that you get a chance to be open and broken, 

Pray that you get a chance to take it to heart.

Pray that you experience sweetness as deeply as your ancestors,

Pray that your body knows it so intimately that it shudders and shakes,

Both from the drop and rise of it.

Pray that the continuous physical force exerted on or against your body,

That you finally take all this world has done to you, 

And all that you have taken from this world,

Pounds like talking drums in your chest, neck, or ears

Telling you, you can’t take no more.

There is a communion happening now beloved,

A pandemic is a communion.

Brings us all to the fellowship table.

Makes everything feel like a last supper.

“Do this in remembrance of me,”

Feels like “We had this coming.”

Feels like, “We asked for it” from 

Dancing like that,

Eating like that,

Loving like that,

Living like that,

Feels like pandemics is what is passed down,

In this here Passover.

Feels like the epigenetics of trauma,

So let me geek out for a second,

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.

It posits that certain fears can be inherited through the generations, over many generations. “There are a lot of anecdotes to suggest that there’s intergenerational transfer of risk, and that it’s hard to break that cycle,” he says.

We’re talking about heritable traits

Scientists Ressler and Dias studied epigenetic inheritance in laboratory mice trained to fear the smell of assa-dough-fa-known (acetophenone), a chemical the scent of which has been compared to those of cherries and almonds. He and Dias wafted the scent around a small chamber, while giving small electric shocks to male mice. The animals eventually learned to associate the scent with pain, shuddering in the presence of acetophenone even without a shock.

This reaction was passed on to their pups, Despite never having encountered acetophenone in their lives, the offspring exhibited increased sensitivity when introduced to its smell, shuddering more markedly in its presence compared with the descendants of mice that had been conditioned to be startled by a different smell or that had gone through no such conditioning.

A third generation of mice — the ‘grandchildren’ — also inherited this reaction, as did mice conceived through in vitro fertilization with sperm from males sensitized to acetophenone. Similar experiments showed that the response can also be transmitted down from the mother.

We have to understand what spiritual, what Christian epigenetics are at work in our construction of faith and god,

So we can finally stop thinking 

That we gotta die to prove something to god.

We gotta know our reactions to pandemics is in our DNA.

We gotta know that something else gets passed down,

That there is another ticking time bomb,

The flowering of which threatens to destroy everything,

That we worked for.


The Epigenetics of Joy.

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Says that my grandmother, in the premature birth of my aunts daughter,

Looked at that child,

Scrunched her face,

Laughed and said,

“You can always tell when a baby got a old daddy,

The baby come out looking old.”

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Says my grandmother laughed and said,

“Imma take pride in this one collard tree,

In this square foot of dirt.”

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Says that my mama laughed and said, 

“All my children got jokes,

But that Marvin is funny acting.”

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Is your wryness,

And your twinkle,

And your finding humor,

Different from making fun of,


The Epigenetics of Joy,

Is making light of a thing.

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Is making light of a thing.

The Epigenetics of Joy,

Is making light of a thing,

And all my relations, 

Took the diabetes, hypertensed, and heart diseased body,

To the mortuary to be embalmed,

They opened the casket,

“Sharp as a rat’s turd” my grandmother said,

“Casket ready,” my aunt said,

“Oooh he look just like his self,” my mama said,

Gave thanks and broke out laughing,

Saying, 

“This is the world, 

With all of the air taken out of the seriousness of the day,

Given to you, 

So that you can take a deep breath,

So that you can make light of this pandemic,

Again, different from making fun of,

Do this in remembrance of us

Because we didn’t just pass down trauma to you

And joy is resistance.”

Likewise all of relations, after the funeral, 

Went to my grandmother’s house,

Ate and drank everything they wasn’t supposed to,

My grandmother took the jelly jar glass, 

Filled it with Crown Royal and milk, saying, 

“Funny how we always seem to make it through.

Funny how the loving cup of us is the new covenant in our blood, 

Funny how they try to get you to forget,

Where you come from,

And what we taught you,

That was taught to us,

That joy,

And good times,

And memories,

And tall tales

And funny acting,

Is how we survive a plague.”

Amen.

I was with the other women

In the woman’s place

In the palace

And it’s only

The letter “A”

That separates place

From palace

I was with the other women

When he called

I had been up cooking all night

And had just wiped

The last of the semolina

Off my forehead

And we were finally ready to eat

When he called

We were in our one hundred

And eighty-seventh day of celebrating

One hundred and eighty seven times

I was called up

Pageanted for him

And the visiting priests, provinces, and princes

He had been feasting for the last six days

Without calling

I waited six

I was queen

He told me that

I was clear

Or tried to convince myself to be clear

I was picked

Like the prized pie at the carnival

Because I was the fairest

When he called

He never thought

I would refuse him anything

I was lucky you know

And yes

I heard him calling

Cuz I hear everything

I am a woman

Ears trained to ground and sky

I hear the women

Like myself

Breaking

Like the bread we ate that day

Women

Who were picked over

For some beauty standard

That had nothing to do with us

I wasn’t leaving this party

It felt right

And yes

I heard him calling

But I also heard god’s warning breath

Whisper in my ear

With my mother’s fear

         “Say no girl

         Say no”

So when he called

It was the seventh day

He had been drinking

His heart was merry with wine

He was drunk

And ordered

         Because that’s what you can do

         When you make someone a queen

He ordered me

To him

In the crown royal

Now

He was ready to show me off

And

I

Said

No

Because I a woman

And I am moved

Like the women I am with

And the women I come from

Are moved

And there is a place

And it’s only the letter “A”

That separates place from palace

In my belly now

Fuller than the feast

Whose grease

Lingers on my fingers

There is a place left

From gathering with my like

Telling me what to say

And I am finally ready to hear

This word

This bird

Flying out of my mouth

Turned song

And I am sure

Other queens have heard it

Put their tongues

To the roof of their mouths

And tasted it

My sisters

Esther

Ma’a’cha

Bathsheba

Jezebel

Sheba

Candace

Rahab

Tamar

Delilah

Deborah

Mary

Hagar

We who have all said no

And have not known

And known at the same time

Why

No

For our daughters

The next in our broken royal lines

No

For their voices strong and spirit led

No

We can say mother and father god

Can think

That in the company of women

Quiet wars can be raged

Battles birthing women

Women birthing battles

Who don’t forget their kindred

Or their people

When he called

There was new breath in mine

Pushing this defiance

Out of my chest

Like life

Collapsing in on itself

Like rock caught in the craw of my throat

Like tear and snot braced for pain

Like we are getting ready

To sing

Or preach

Or pray

For the first time

Like I said

When he called

I had been up cooking

All night

And had just wiped

The last of the semolina

Off my forehead

And

We

Were

Finally

Ready

To

Eat

 


 

My poem was the story of Vashti. In the first chapter of the book of Esther, Vashti was the queen of Xerxes. He made her a queen, and one day when King Xerxes was in the middle of a party that he threw for himself to show off his riches and spoils, he called for his queen. His prize. To show her off. And Queen Vashti, who was in the middle of a party that she was having with the other women, said, “No”. And so Xerxes consulted with his homeboys and they convinced him that he had to do something because of the public embarrassment of her refusal. That is when he declared, “All wives should obey their husbands.”

On this fourth Sunday of Women’s History Month I am compelled to lift up the stories of women like Vashti, and women all over the world at any bridge in history, whose “No” changed the course. These women are like the women I come from.

Women who said, “No” to patriarchy and “No” to leaving family and friends and like-mindedness and parties and cooking and being of service to one another. Women who said “No” to servitude.  And “No” to just one definition of liberation.

Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

I was the primary caregiver for both my grandmother and my mother until they passed. I was both their legal and their medical durable power of attorney. I, in the end of their lives, cared for their adult bodies in the ways that they cared for my infant body. In turn, through their journey with Alzheimer’s, I received their stories. I knew what they were for and against. I know these women that say “No.”

And because I knew them so well, I knew when they were finally saying “No” to this earth and “No” to this flesh. I knew when their “No” meant “No more.” And I spoke their “No’s” for them. No extraordinary life-saving measures. No, do not resuscitate. No, release them. They want to die at home.

I think about these Jehovah’s Witness women and how they dared to say, “NO!” in defense of God. These women, despite what religion had done to them, took up for God. These women said, “No, we must feel sorry for God because God does not have a mother and God does not have a God Mother either. God aint never had a Big Mama hug God in her bosom so tight til God thought that God would choke on her Jean Nate. God aint ever had nobody to look up to. God aint never had a woman say “No, you gotta go through me to get to God.”

I think about these women whose “No” spoke resistance. “No” to anyone who tried to take away the joy they eked out. No, you cannot have my Bobby Blue Bland, my Pokeno, my shoe collection, and no, you cannot keep me from gathering with my like.

By saying “no,” these women found a history whose face they could now get in, and with their hands on their hips, and their fingers in history’s face, assert their blackness and southernness, their womanness, their humanity, their right to vote, for equal rights, and for equal pay. NO! We deserve better than this! No, we held up our end of the bargain. We forgave.

Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

Because women who say “No” are not a concession stand. Aren’t easily swayed. Aren’t driftwood on the ocean. Or when they are on a bridge, they don’t stop singing, “No, I aint gon let nobody turn me around.”

“No” means, “I speak for myself”

“No” means “I gotta love myself a little more than I love you.”

So, say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

“No” from my grandmother meant to my mama, “Leave the boy here with me. He is mine. I will give him a little dough to make little pies as I make the big pies. Let him hide under my apron. No, you will not take him. He is safe here. We will need him later.”

“No” meant that, “Yes, Marvin will live.”

 “No” was also “No thank you. Not all of your goodness now, God. You have been so sweet already. I need to save some of this for later. Wrap it, tin foil and saran it for my kids.”

Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

I grew up in public housing. And the narrative about people who live in public housing is that’s where you send poor women and black women and women like “that.” Public housing is the space they are relegated to. But when my mother said, “No, I will not crumble,” after my father left her with five kids under the age 10, and when she said, “No, I am not ashamed to get assistance,” she then chose welfare. Welfare didn’t choose her.  And she chose Oakland Housing Authority, and she chose to live amongst women. Her “No” meant that she understood that the men who hurt her would have no voice in the raising of her children. She knew you couldn’t have a father in public housing, because you couldn’t have two incomes. So she wanted to raise her boys and her girl amongst women. This was how she could do it. No, it was never a place they were sent. It was a place they went.

There is a bridge that connects the women I come from who say “No!” with the women who are a part of this GLIDE Church Family.

So, say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

My grandmother was a woman like Vashti who said “No.”  Because when she said “Lord, I’m open” that meant that there was a sign hung outside her door. No! I’m creaming the butter and the sugar. I am making chicory. I am waiting to see if my sister will follow the plan and leave when her abusive husband is at work. No, I am not cooking because I can. I am cooking because I cannot. It aint faith if I expect them and I’m not ready for them.”


Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

Say No:

I will not do my job and his job.

I will not let you chain me to this desk

I will not call my family and tell them I have to work late again.

I will not offer any more proof other than that I am overqualified because I am a woman.

I will not stop saying “No” to injustice

I will not go back, because we are this bridge, and it is time to cross it.

We know a woman’s “No” is her highest faith stance. It is for her and not against anyone else.

I can hear the women I come from say, “No, I am a woman, and I will not sit here in this garden and not know how things grow. I will not sit around Eden getting fat and playing house with Adam. No, I am a woman before I am a companion. Adam was asleep on the job. I am the first contractor, and the first to push through the pain, the first through blood, sweat and tears, to give birth to movements. No, a rib and a womb aint the same thing.


Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

Say No:

To the status quo.

To waiting your turn.

To only going forward when called.

To participating in everyone else’s beauty standard.

To violence, at home, at school and at play.

To sharing the spotlight, and never being illuminated.

Say No:

This is not the way. My Woman Positioning System is never wrong.

Say No and assert and insert and insist that your needs get met.

Say “No,” girl. Say “No!”

Because

A woman who says, “No!” is named Eve,

Or a woman who says, “No!” might be named Rahab,

Or a woman who says, “No!” might withhold her name from history

Because she knows that history, biblical and world, 

Could never get her right.

NO! I am not just Noah’s wife,

Or the Syrophoenician Woman, I have a name,

My name is Ann,

My name is Sar-Rah,

My name is Janice,

My name is Paula,

My name is Kaye,

My name is Vicki,

My name is Joan,

My name is Florence,

My name is Heloise,

My name is Shirley,

My name is Joan Ann,

My name is Phyllis,
My name is Felicia,

My name is Roxanne,

My name is Elmira,

My name is Elaine

My name is Geraldine,

My name is Xaree,

My name is Bessie

My name is Margaret

My name is Tranishia,

My name is Annie,

No, my name is not COVID.

My name is my name.

And my name is a witness.


Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

No, this is not a hole, this is a door, with a key, and it is where hope comes from.

No, I am not as small as you say I am; look how my arms can wrap around god’s neck.

No, there is something deeper than these bulbs and I will keep digging.

No, my skin is not available for you to prove yourself.

No, I am not waiting on a miracle. I am a miracle.

No, baby girl, you did nothing wrong. He has watched your backline for slack. You could not have known his “baby, baby, babies” were going to stop and the beatings would start.


Say “No,” girl. Say “No.”

For we who have all said no

And have not known

And known at the same time

Why

No

For our daughters

The next in our broken royal lines

No

For their voices strong and spirit led

No

We can say mother and father god

Can think

That in the company of women

Quiet wars can be raged

Battles birthing women

Women birthing battles

Who don’t forget their kindred

Or their people

Do you remember that time

When he called,

And “He” is anything that pulls us from

Our womanhood

Our Sophia

Our Shekinah,


And “He” is anything that separates us

From the divine feminine

Old Wives Tales

Kitchen Table Wisdom

Life giving parts

Do you remember that time

We had been up cooking

All night

And had just wiped

The last of the semolina

Off our forehead

And

We

Were

Finally

Ready

To  Eat

And we said “No”

Reflections on an African American role model

LeRon L. Barton has been an active GLIDE community member since 2014. He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the GLIDE Racial Justice Team that grew out of the Ferguson Rally held at GLIDE. The Racial Justice team has interviewed African American youth about race issues with the hope of creating a curriculum for the San Francisco Unified School District as a primer for conversation about racism among students. Below are his reflections on Black History Month and an African American leader that empowered and inspired him.

When I think of all the historical figures I have admired, Malcolm X stands in front. The man formerly know as Malcolm Little is such an important figure in my life. The way Malcolm X talked about racism and the treatment of the African American, how he lived, and the commitment he made to the liberation of his people was just amazing.

I remembered hearing about Malcolm in my household, but he was not heralded like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When the movie based on his life was released, I wasn’t interested in seeing it. I look back on that and laugh, because the film Malcolm X is one of my favorite movies of all time.

While in the 11th grade, a teacher introduced me to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I can say without a doubt, it changed my life. I identified with Malcolm X because he came from the bottom. Malcolm grew up in poverty and was told that he could not be a lawyer because he was Black. Think about that – How many children are told they cannot be something by their teachers because of who they are? Malcolm got into crime and became a drug dealer, thief, and pimp, earning the name Detroit Red, running the streets of Harlem.

Later, Malcolm embraced the Nation of Islam and discarded that negative lifestyle, and dedicated his life to fighting racism/white supremacy and lifting the consciousness of the Black man and woman. In the ’60s, seeing a Black man stand tall, have confidence, and no fear as he talked about the challenges Black folks faced was incredible. Malcolm was in a time where Black folks still stepped to the side when white people were on the sidewalk, drank from different water fountains, and were killed for being “uppity.” He was fearless and I loved that. Malcolm loved Black people. He loved being Black. That is what shines through. He loved us so much that he was willing to hold a mirror up and say, “This is where we are.” Reading the Autobiography made me proud to be Black, in a world that says you shouldn’t.

Malcolm’s speeches are amazing. He is the greatest orator I have ever heard. There are times where I just listen to him, hear the way he talks, what words he uses, and how he responds to racist comments. It has helped me so much in talks and discussions.

There are many things that I admire about Malcolm X, but the one trait that I take to heart is his commitment to the truth. He was steeped in it. When Malcolm learned of Elijah Muhammad’s infidelity and the Nation’s indiscretions, he left, embraced traditional Islam, and formed his own organization. Malcolm always wanted the truth and to “stand on the side of right.” I try to live my life around that. If the information I have is not correct or what I believe is not true, I will discard it and find the truth.

When I write about race, I sometimes wonder, “Would Malcolm approve? What would he think of my essays?” Malcolm X flows through me. In my opinion, the man also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is the greatest intellectual of the 20th Century. In a discussion with my friend Jon Jeter about Malcolm X, he said, “Malcolm could see around the corner.”

 

Edna Webster Coleman’s remarkable life in the struggle for social justice

GLIDE’s Annual Fund manager Hallie Brignall spoke recently with Edna Webster, a longtime GLIDE community member and Bay Area educator and activist who has designated a portion of her estate for GLIDE and its work on behalf of the community. In the following account, Hallie offers a brief overview of Edna’s remarkable and very busy life, including her organizing with Rev. Cecil Williams and GLIDE as an extension of the civil rights efforts she pursued in the South. We are deeply grateful for Edna’s lifetime of commitment to justice and compassion for others, and we thank her for letting us share her inspiring story.

Edna Webster grew up in the projects of New Orleans. After graduating high school, she worked for a short while in her cousin’s restaurant and as a babysitter. Feeling unsatisfied, she yearned to do more. Unsure of what new direction to take, she walked down to the Custom House on Canal Street and exclaimed, “I think I want to join the Army.” She passed the test and found herself stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, near St. Louis, Missouri, where she exceled, eventually making Drill Sargent.

During her time in the army, Edna met her husband and earned enough money to pay for college. She enrolled in social studies and history at an historically black college, Southern University, in New Orleans. This led her to teaching in local schools, one of which was the William Frantz Elementary School, where Ruby Bridges integrated.

Beginning in the 1960s, while still in New Orleans, Edna became active in the Civil Rights Movement. She landed in jail three times due to protest actions for integration. At a young age, she and a group of friends participated in lunch-counter protests at Woolworth’s. They’d take their books down to do their homework, a very wholesome and innocent activity, but found themselves forcefully asked to move. They refused. Edna recalls what happened next.

“The server called us the ‘N’ word and threw lemon meringue pie at us before calling the police, who carted us off to jail.” The next day they were bailed out by the Congress of Racial Equality [CORE] and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]. That same day, they went back out on the street to protest for integration at a university in Baton Rouge. The governor shut down the school and the National Guard descended on the campus. The police used canines and water hoses on the protestors before taking them back to jail. Again, they were bailed out by various activist groups.

Edna poses with a large portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Black History month.

Edna also worked on voter education. She taught older people how to vote at a church located in Uptown, New Orleans. Voting was next to impossible for African Americans in her community and nationwide. “They’d ask us all kinds of crazy questions like, ‘How many jelly beans are in that jar,’ or they’d say, ‘Uh, well, you can’t vote because you haven’t been in your home for six months to a year.’”

At one voting location, she was rifling through her large purse for a pen when someone shouted, “She’s got a gun!” to which she replied, “What gun? What are you talking about?” Security came and searched her bag, but there was nothing there. They resorted to telling her, “Well, you can’t come today!” Edna points out that we’re seeing these types of tricks and intimidation again today when African American try to vote.

During this turbulent time, Edna remembers meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was a guest speaker at the Dr. Rev. Davis’s church in New Orleans. “He was a dynamite speaker and was very impressive, Edna remembers. “He spoke about continuing the fight against injustice. We were all students in our early 20s who were on the frontline, fighting for the cause.”

Edna’s family began putting down roots in San Francisco in the 1940s, when her grandparents and her aunt came out for jobs at the Hunter’s Point and Kaiser shipyards. Her family owned a home in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood and were doing well. After her father passed away in 1967, Edna and her mother moved to San Francisco. She recalls thinking, “Boy, I’m going to California.”

After she arrived, she found herself protesting again. “When is this going to stop? I thought I was coming to freedom and that it would be different out here. There were protests against the Vietnam War and protests at San Francisco State University [to create Ethnic Studies programs].” The SFSU Student Strike was especially violent. The president of SFSU, S. I. Hayakawa, called in the police to restore control. “The people got beaten up brutally by mounted police swinging their billy clubs.”

“And many jobs in San Francisco weren’t open to black people, not until the 1970s. I remember protesting MUNI for not hiring black drivers.”

As Edna found herself getting involved in local activism, one name came up repeatedly: Cecil Williams.

“When I got here, that’s when I heard a lot about Cecil because he was very active,” recalls Edna. “He led a lot of protests, would speak at a lot of different places and had a lot of good programs for the people. He got people to march against the Vietnam War.”

At one event, she remembers Cecil leading people to the Bill Graham Civic Center, where GLIDE’s Ensemble performed.

“When they wanted to close down the Charles Drew School in Bayview [Hunter’s Point],” she further recalls, “he got a group of his members and they came out there to protest.” The protests were successful, and the school is there to this day.

Edna not only attended Cecil’s protests, she also volunteered during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Sometimes, she would even bring her students and their parents. She also attended Celebration. GLIDE was Edna’s first church when she came out to California. “I went to the church and I really enjoyed the services. The choir, mingling with the people—everyone is very friendly.”

Edna was equally ambitious about her education and career. While serving in the Presidio military reserves and working at Head Start, she was also busy earning her California credentials as a teaching and reading specialist along with a master’s degree. She then embarked on a 50-year career in the San Francisco public school system.

Edna teaches 5th graders in San Francisco public schools.

Eventually, Edna decided that she wanted to visit the places she’d been teaching about. As a result, she has traveled all over the United States and to several countries. She fondly remembers visiting Nubian villages in Ethiopia; Archbishop Tutu’s church in South Africa; Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell on Robben Island; Gorée Island in Senegal, which was a major slave-trading location; the village of Juffure in Gambia, featured in Alex Haley’s famous novel Roots, where she met an ancestor of Kunte Kinte named Binte Kunte; a Malawi village in South Africa, where she volunteered as an English teacher; W.E.B. Du Bois’s burial site in Ghana; and Cuba to tour their public-school system.

Edna on the Island of Gorée in Senegal, which was one of the key stopovers in the slave trade since the 15th Century. It is now a world heritage site and pilgrimage destination for the African diaspora.

In the early 1980s, the San Francisco Unified School District laid off 500 teachers. Edna was one of the first teachers to be let go. She went down to the Federal building on Golden Gate Avenue and filled out an application to be an Educational Specialist. She was hired as the director of a school at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Eventually, San Francisco Unified rehired most of the teachers and she returned to San Francisco.

In 2002, Edna retired—sort of. Over the following decade or more, she worked for the San Francisco Unified School District’s after-school program; at City College, in their GED program; and as a consultant for new teachers. As you might imagine, Edna has received many awards for her stellar career, including “Teacher of the Year” and “Unsung Hero.” She continues to volunteer in after-school programs in Richmond to help kids excel.

Edna surrounded by her 5th grade students from Commodore Sloat School.

Edna admires the variety of GLIDE’s programs helping homeless individuals and low-income families—programs offering housing assistance, support for women who have survived abuse, and for children in need of daycare and after-school programming. “Cecil did a lot to help the community,” says Edna. “That’s what you really have to look at. Somebody that’s doing something positive.”

In 2018, Edna committed to making a legacy gift to GLIDE in her estate plans.

“You never know where you’re going to need,” she explains. “I got help when I needed it, and I’m in a position now to give back. You give back because you want to see these young kids make it.”

In addition to her generous bequest, Edna offers future generations an inspiring example of a life lived in the service of social justice, education and solidarity with others. And for the younger generations of today, both activists and those who haven’t joined them yet, Edna has this message:

“People ought to protest again, just like in the ’60s. They should keep it going. If you go to sleep on this and are passive, what’s going to happen? They are going to take away what you have gained. That’s the way it goes. We had to fight to get what we got. Young people are going to have to get out and keep it going. They need to keep things moving and not give up.”

Cape of Good Hope, Capetown, South Africa.

In May of 2019, Gregoria Cahill received her Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from California State University, East Bay, and as she walked the stage and received her honors it vindicated the winding path of her pursuit of education and self-improvement.

“I remember my mom would tell me to get an education to have a better life and not be a farmer. So when I started, I thought, I was going to school for my mom, to make her proud.” Gigi recalled. “My mother was told to not go to school and was pulled out of school in 3rd grade.”

Gregoria, or Gigi, was born in Bolivia in Tocaña, a small community of Afrobolivianos, outside of Coroico. Tocaña had no hospital, only a midwife, and although Gigi was the 5th child born to Toribia Zabala Piñedo and Narciso Nova Zabala, she was only the third to survive childbirth. In Tocaña children often didn’t graduate from the local school, which went up to the 5th grade. Gigi wanted a different life. At the age of 12 with the blessings of her family, Gigi moved, a three-hours walk, into a town with a school that went up through a middle school curriculum. Gigi lived in that town with a woman who had her own restaurant, living there for a couple of years and attending middle school.

In order to attend high school, Gigi’s older brother, Roberto negotiated a living situation with the principal of the local high school and his wife, the high school nurse; she would help around the house in exchange for room, board and school supplies. Part of the high school curriculum at the school she attended required community service to graduate. Gigi served at an orphanage in Cochabamba called Madre de Dios. Here she reconnected with a volunteer from Notre Dame University that helped teach English. The volunteer began serving at the American International School in Cochabamba and suggested she talk to the principal of that high school about enrolling to continue her studies in English.

“I got a scholarship after graduating from high school and was taking classes at the University in Cochabamba and was going to high school again to take classes in English.’ Gigi said.

With the help of a counselor at the American International School, Gigi made her way through the application process to universities in the USA. This mentor conducted mock interviews, helped her draft a personal statement and helped her apply to schools.

“I was accepted at Beloit College with a 50% scholarship. Phyllis Kaplan and others were able to help me with the other half.” Gigi remembered.

Phyllis remembered clearly when the door between the kitchen and the dining room swung open. “Gigi and I met, eye and heart contact happened almost instantly! I was in Bolivia as a consultant to the American International School where Gigi was studying. She often reminds me that I spent the following week asking her, ‘what are you planning to do in the future?’”

All the mentors at this point in her life came together to support Gigi as she got her passport, travel documents and plane ticket to Beloit, Wisconsin. She arrived in August of 1997 right before the fall semester began, very confused.

“I had been telling people that I was going to Wisconsin, California not knowing that Wisconsin and California were two different places.” Gigi said. “About two or three weeks after I arrived, I saw the leaves change for the first time and I was so scared, I thought I had been sent to a place where trees and plants die.”

Gigi had a first tough winter in Wisconsin, but during breaks would travel back and forth to stay in California with her American mom Phyllis and her American dad Michael.

“Her first time attending GLIDE was Christmas of her freshman year at Beloit College.” Phyllis recalls.

Gigi graduated 4 years later with a major in Modern Language, minor in Linguistics and a certificate to teach English as a Second Language(TESL). She moved back to California to stay with her American family, and continued her pursuit of education with the future aspiration of being able to be supportive for others on their educational journey. She dabbled in teaching and eventually obtained a Masters in Counseling at California State University, East Bay. After a period of time as an intern at City College of San Francisco, she was hired as an Academic Counselor in 2004 and became full-time faculty in 2007. She then became one of the coordinators for the Puente Program.

“The Puente Program is a year-long academic and community leadership program designed to increase the number of community college students transferring to 4-year colleges or universities. To meet this goal, the national award-winning program emphasizes writing, counseling and mentoring”

Most recently Gigi was hired as the Interim Dean of San Francisco City College Mission Center and Transitional Studies where she hopes to continue to be able to advocate for students and encourage, empower, teach and bring the best out of each student helping them to navigate higher education.

“Not only is she a star and successful but she is amazingly giving, loving, incredible, professional and it is a blessing to have her as our daughter.” Phyllis Kaplan said.

It’s Latinx Heritage month, are there any words you would like to share with the younger generation?

Always remember where you come from. Anything I do I remember where I come from. Life hasn’t been easy but I remember the steps that I took to get me where I am today.

Trust in education, it’s really the key to moving forward. Always look for help, if you feel stuck then find somebody who can help you. I wouldn’t have made it this far without mentors, a lot of them are from GLIDE. I have so many mentors. If you don’t have the support at home or feel like you don’t have anyone to help you, a mentor can be someone you can go to and they will help.

If someone says, ‘no I can’t help you,’ find someone else! Don’t let that ‘no’ be a barrier. If someone said no to me, I found someone else that could help me, as shy as I was, I was able to find another person to ask for help. If you can find someone who can ask questions on your behalf, that works too! I wouldn’t have been able to get into the Master’s program without the help of Phyllis; without her I wouldn’t have known who to ask for help. Phyllis went beyond being a mentor to me, she’s my mom, she’s my American mom.

Remember, education is key. It opens the door to opportunities, a better life, a better paying job, it helps you make decisions. Your voice is more likely to be heard more clearly. I am still helping students, in a different way, and I’m continuing to advocate for any students who needs help.

There’s a huge achievement gap for Latinx, African-American, and Pacific Islander students. I am hoping to be able to make a different type of impact as Interim Dean.

We all have dreams; act on them. It might not be easy but you can do it. Make time to study; know that with hard work and dedication it is possible to have a more productive and successful life. Education will change your life. How has your path been shaped by your identity? At Beloit College people would assume I was from Africa. I would tell them I was from Bolivia and they would ask ‘oh where is Bolivia in Africa?’ I would have to correct them. Others would ask if I was African-American and I’d have to ask ‘well what do you define as America?’ I claimed my identity as an Afrobolivian to answer questions like these.

Sometimes people ignore the beautiful mixture of culture and identity that the world has and that’s their loss. Coming to GLIDE has been eye opening for me because in Bolivia there is no open LGBTQ community; knowing GLIDE embraces everybody felt right.

What impact has colorism had on your life or the impact of colorism that you’ve seen in Bolivia?

Bolivian discrimination is based on money; if you don’t have money you’re discriminated against. There are also certain last names that are considered to be less-than. I had a classmate that wanted to change their last name because it wasn’t European enough.

There’s still a struggle especially for people of African descent, only a few years ago were Afrolatins recognized as part of the Bolivian community and it was a struggle to be acknowledged. People told me I was destined to be a maid. They said, I wasn’t smart and I wouldn’t make it in school; I was even more motivated to prove them wrong.

My mother encouraged us to get an education, to have a better life, to not be a farmer. I really started to go to school for my mom. At first, I pursued education to make her proud.

I wanted to show my mom that I could do it, finish school and take advantage of any educational opportunities possible.

Whenever someone within my faith tradition has overcome something that seemed otherwise insurmountable, has been cured from something that had death as the prognosis, or survived something that no one has ever walked away from, my people say, “Somebody, surely, must have been praying for you.”

I believe that we are all the recipients, the progeny, the beneficiaries, and heirs to a promise, a prayer, a wish, a notion, and a freedom that our ancestors, seven generations back, sent ahead for us to access today, to use today, to enjoy today, and open today. Our ancestors played the futures market. And we are the answer to every prayer sent ahead into the unknown coming histories of our blood and claimed ancestors.

We are what became of them.

They knew somehow, that we would live into the dream, they had to defer. And I’m inviting you to imagine yourself being the recipient of so many carefully placed natural, intellectual, spiritual, psychic, psychological gifts and dreams. I’m inviting you to imagine yourself and everyone you come across, as the soul beneficiary of systems and intelligences—political, critical, analytic, scientific, artistic, survival and thriving that were sent ahead as tools for you specifically, but everyone specifically too.

And when they did not send tools. They sent ahead trophies. They said seven generations back, “I believe that we will win.” You are that winning hand. You crossed the finished line in record time. That’s you and your ancestors on the medal podium. And if your life is not a celebration of the victory that is your people, then we have to make your life be the word that we send back. “Did we ever get free?” And your good life, your forgiving yourself life, your overcoming adversity life, your move from self-harm life to self-love life, can be the only answer they here. If you have not sent word back, the ancestors know, you haven’t accepted the prize they knew that they would one day get. They know it means you have not yet decided to read the map they left for you.

What I am hoping today, as your minister, is that we can surface practices that teach you how to know, how to lead from, and how to locate the wisdom that has accompanied you in this life, as birthright. I want to help you to know that you have always had the master key. What doors you have opened, has been you. My mama used to say, “Don’t write no check, your ass can’t cash.” She meant, choose your door wisely. She meant, don’t use your key to open the crack, the abuser door, the bitter door, thinking you just gon’ close it. One of these doors, you gon’ walk right in. And you might stay for a while, for years, for the entire lifetime, for generations.

But, imagine knowing without a doubt, that there is, and has always been an answer key waiting for you. Imagine that key is to help you feel less alone in the world and in the work. Imagine your key equipping you to lead yourself to your highest self because the source of your wisdom is eternal. Imagine it is the key to not feeling like a failure, like the clock is ticking, like this fall off of this wagon, is your last shot. Begin by asking yourself, “What is the thought or the thing they sent ahead to me?” And, “Will I  honor them by fully enjoying, embodying and deploying their gifts?”

Let’s try this: Based on who you are in this moment, what does your being here say about what your ancestors (blood and claimed) seven generations ago, sent ahead for you to access (connect to, open, use, remember, learn from, use to heal, heal from) today?

Based on who you are in this moment, who you arrived as in this moment, and what you have been protected and guided by, to survive the plots against your life, what did your ancestors send ahead for you? They didn’t send your alcoholism. They sent your recovery. They didn’t send your unemployment. They sent your passion. They didn’t send your failed relationship. They sent your heart’s desire. They knew that you would be the one to remember family in the face of collective trauma around displacement. They knew that you would be the one to not perpetuate another season of cycles, but break cycles of violence, incarceration and poverty. They knew that you would be the one to become a new beat in the face of  negative “Feedback Loops.” A key is way to get out of a loop. The loop of responding to this hurt with the expected response of more hurt. The loop of seeing our neighbors as trash or garbage, when they are people just like you and me, with a key, but for them, no front door.

And in order to give them clear and precise direction for their keys, we have to move towards an ever increasing spiritual call upon our lives. And we have to insist on our spiritual growth; however you define what guides you, or however your self-contained guidance system compels you, our spiritual growth is paramount to meet this moment and it must be constantly and consistently attended to. But you gotta know who you are and what you have healed from and what chains you have broken, and what good doors have opened for you, because you remembered what your ancestors were trying to keep safe for you. If you want to help anyone know, heal and break chains for themselves, you have to do it for yourself first.

Because if we are moving, like I suspect, into a new prophetic and social justice movement moment, then we are required to train our potentiality to be innovative, nimble, and improvisational. The more they offer us doors of isolation, we look for doors of connection. We have to unlearn capitalist notions of “success,” because love’s key, will not be validated because you are making more money than you ever have. That’s not the key they sent ahead.  What is your ancestral gut telling you to do. Door No. 1, Door No. 2, or Door No. 3?

Here is a key: Did you know that there are as many nerve endings in your stomach as there are in your brain? Your gut is your ancestral knowing. Trust your gut and trust your ancestors. Your gut will let you know how quick your gift response activation time to “the call” will be.  Your gut will not have to call a joint commission to study the implications of the implications of the action you are going to take.  Rights eroded today? Phone bank the legislature today. Black man killed today? Take to the streets today. Our global family detained at airports? Organize to disrupt the entire airline industry today. Detainment camps at borders hidden from our imagination? We call out the reality of concentration camps.

All of us arrive at this moment at the same time for a reason.  We are each other’s best chance at walking into the brightest future. We are doorways for one another. Our lives should say, “Come through me.” You were not sent this far to be alone, without community or feeling isolated. No one was. You are what became of y’all. And if you are still in bondage, then you are not yet what became of your people.

Homelessness means, “We are not whole yet.” Addiction means, “We are not whole yet.” Violence means, “We are not whole yet.” Unbroken cycles of incarceration means, “We are not whole yet.” Our ancestors sent the key ahead to wholeness.

But we can’t be judges, we can’t be just outreach workers, we can’t just be a meals line, we are called to be “Practitioners” and the tools of liberation, in our hands are “spirited” — activated and animated, through the institutional naming and recognition of the wisdom in the instinctual, the ancestral, the unknowable, the mystery, the magic, the impulse, the muse, the spark, the imagination, and the light. We the new lock smith. We are here to rekey the world.  I don’t know who you are, but I see in the spirit, that you are not what you are injecting. Accept this clean needle. Accepting help is key.

You see, I am a “Social Gospel Interfaith Ministry” practitioner. I bring the radical love-truth of Christianity to the table. Key. My ancestors say, “meet them where they are, do not judge, remind them of their inherent worth, point out that their survival is what points to the ark of ancestral knowledge, of one day living in the full light, that is with them. Where they do that at? At GLIDE! I believe that everyone who enters into the door of the church, automatically gets the keys to The Christ. Nothing else to buy. No hidden fees in the contract. No contract. No Christ credit check. Here’s the keys to your new Christ. And it matters not if you smoke, drink, or gamble away your keys. It matters not if you think you lost your key, gave it away with your draws to that man, or pawned it. You come back next week, a new key. Every time.

So, here, in this church, we are beginning to see one another as “Practitioners”, so we understand that no one shows up empty. Here in this church, we are beginning to open ourselves up to practices that surface non-traditional critical and strategic ways of thinking; the nonsensical, the gut, and the knowing, from which love emanates. And none of it is based in scarcity. The Christ key chain has an infinite number of keys. The Christ is the Key Master.

So, let us continue to surface a leadership that centers practices which allows oneself to unlock the prophetic, intuitive, ancient, contemporary, indigenous, natural, mysterious, magical, cosmological and theological ways of knowing. I am not talking denominationally or dogmatically, but an invitational, generative, iterative, participatory and always liberative unlocking. But if we gon’ lead people out, we have to show we are being led in ourselves.  We have to reset the operational stage and preparing the ground & air spaces in our church, to invite people to “practice” unlocking doors. And that means you show up and bring your knowing into the GLIDE Ensemble, into the GLIDE Pride Team, Bridging the Divide, Bible Study, Speak Out, Keeping it Real, Bridging the Gap, Prayer Circle and Lay Leadership.

We begin “Practicing” in the ritualized daily, hourly, weekly knowing. I love that commercial that says, “Marvin: Windows and Doors!” Everybody is a “Practitioner.” This keeps us looking towards each other as the deepest wells of knowledge, as experts and intuits and knowers. This is what’s getting the ancestors excited, that we are paradigmatically defying the confines of systems solutions, by opening new doors, getting closer and closer to the answer, and accessing truths, and wisdoms.

They are excited because they know that when everyone is recognized as gifted, recognized as being endowed with gifts, and everyone is invited to bring all their gifts to the movement table, the work is sanctified. Key. Every aspect of our work and every person doing the work is sacred. Key. We are all in recovery. We are all doing the work. Key.

Sharpened tools have a better chance at sparking the divine. I don’t know if that’s a key, I just enjoyed writing that. But what the hell, KEY!

Here at GLIDE, our practices mean that new thinking emerges. New wisdom surfaces. Enlightenment appears. Movement workers become vessels as practitioners, and vessels accredited by “higher authorities” and not just higher education. Integrative. And our gifts are rooted in Indigenous, Multi-faith, Magic, Mystery and Mysticism. Practitioners give shape to the thoughts, disharmony and disjuncture, bringing the metaphysical to bear on the physical. Our keys don’t fit in the material world, because we have not yet unlocked our minds.

Homelessness is the shape of a people not feeling safe anywhere. What does your shape mean?

And what will it mean, when we begin listening to the still and small voice, the astral and the ancestral body, the prayer and the meditation, the ritualization of silence and the chant, the beer bottle breaking ground and the needle breaking vein, when we learn to speak only when spoken through our response, our joy offering, our justice, love and dignity offering, because Lord knows, love and justice and dignity, moves the needle of our multi-issue and cross-sector work, into multi-dimensional and cross-dimensional work. I’m telling what I see when I look at you. I’m telling you, “You are lit!” You can make better choices in the lit parts. And a lit thing; activated, channeled, summoned, operationalized, shared, taught, archived or invoked, speaks into, calls on, listens for spirit (Soul, Chi, Essence, Life, Lifeforce, Inner Self) to challenge, change and transform tendencies, atmospheres, and airs, into strengths, courage, character, will, force, mettle and the moral fiber. Who ready to get lit? Who ready to light up the world? Who ready to unlock the gifts that the ancestors promised them?

So, based on who you are in this moment, who you arrived as in this moment, what you have been protected and guided by, to survive the plots against your life, what did your ancestors send ahead for you?

Maybe you are the one who showed up with the gift of keeping your eyes on the prize of freedom. Maybe you are the one who held on to the recipe that satisfies the taste for freedom. Maybe you are the one left in charge of the ancestral healing of multiple generations of colonized people. Maybe you are the one whose queerness and straightness are actually tools to use as catalyst to bring change into the world.

Today, at GLIDE Memorial Church, they orchestrated, all of our ancestors orchestrated, this meeting, so that we could have yet another chance at seeing how they sent a deep sense of fierce loving ahead. They said, “One day, they gon’ need this hardcore, fearless and embodied love, for a future, in an unimaginable here and now, in service of a moment such as this. What are we going to do with this gift?

Amen.

Marvin K. White
Minister of Celebration, GLIDE Church

 


 

GLIDE Church is a spiritual center of healing, faith, justice and community for everyone. No matter who you are, where you come from or what you’ve been through, you’re welcome here! Join us for Sunday Celebration every Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00 am.

We also livestream! Follow us on Facebook to be alerted to our streams each week.

A Homoneutics of Liberation

This past Sunday, June 30, 2019, GLIDE celebrated Pride with almost a million onlookers as we marched, danced, sang and made our way down Market Street in the 49th Annual San Francisco Pride Parade. Our tradition includes a single Pride Sunday Celebration before we head down to march in community. The following is a transcript of Pride Sunday’s sermon by GLIDE’s Minister of Celebration, Marvin K. White.


 

Last week, I talked to you about applying a “Hermeneutics of Incarceration” to the bible as a way to interpret the bible by the ways that systems of incarceration and systems of liberation, are at work and still working on and in us, allowing us to see the bible through the lens of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. A “Hermeneutics of Incarceration” helps us locate those who are locked up in the bible and who need to freed still and now.

This week, I am going to introduce a new tool, a “Homoneutical” reading of the bible. A “Homoneutical” reading of the bible shows us potential sites of LGBTQ+ love. A “Homoneutical” reading insists that LGBTQ+ people have always existed. It points out the logical truth, that if abominations were created to quash our affectional and sexual attractions, then the bible authors knew about us. Had us in mind. And what a “Homoneutical” reading of the bible allows us to do is theologize that the queer eye, the gaydar, the read, the forced underground and undercover, the threat to heteropatriarchal frames of the bible, secret codes, drag, cross-dressing, AIDS, cancer, hate crimes and Celebration, are tools that help us hear queer folks who are still trapped in the closet of the bible. The bible doesn’t have to be queered, the bible has queer people in it. We are hidden in plain sight.

For instance, if you were taught to pray to a patriarchal God, “Our Father in the heavens…” then God is a man to you. So, it follows that it was God. But God wanted somebody in his image and created Adam. But he also gave Adam dust. And then gave him CPR. Then brought him to life. So, it was God and Adam. Just a couple of “Confirmed Bachelors” gardening in Eden (Or Palm Springs.) But Adam said he wanted to be polyamorous or at least bisexual. And God thought that Adam meant that God was not enough for him. So, God put Adam to sleep and took a rib out of Adam and made Eve. God thought a baby would save their relationship. God and Adam, the first couple, had Eve. Eve was not a baby. Eve was a woman. But now, God thought, we a family.

But Adam got turned on by Eve, and turned to God and said, “I think I am a woman.” And “I think I like women.” God, then served the first ever eviction notice and kicked them both out. So, the “Original Sin” isn’t disobedience, it’s heterosexuality.

That’s what you can do with a “Homoneutical” reading of the bible.

Read these scriptures through a “Homoneutical” lens:

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Genesis 27:26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near now and kiss me, my son.”

Genesis 27:27 And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: “Surely, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field Which the Lord has blessed.

Genesis 29:13 Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So, he told Laban all these things.

Genesis 31:28 And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in so doing.

Genesis 31:55 And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

Genesis 33:4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

– Genesis 45:15 Moreover, he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.

Genesis 48:10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.

Genesis 50:1 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him, and kissed him.

Exodus 4:27 And the Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So, he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him.

Exodus 18:7 So, Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down, and kissed him. And they asked each other about their well-being, and they went into the tent.

– Ruth 1:14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

1 Samuel 10:1 [ Samuel Anoints Saul ] Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?

1 Samuel 20:41 As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so.

Matthew 26:49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

Acts 20:37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him,

2 Samuel 6:14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. (There’s a gay fashion designer Homoneutical reading there.)

Jeremiah 50:37 A sword against her horses and against her chariots, and against all the foreign troops in her midst, that they may become women! (There’s a transgender Homoneutical reading there.)

1 Corinthians 11:14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? (There’s a gender non-conforming Homoneutical reading there.)

A “Homoneutical” reading of texts shows that men kissed men all of the time in the bible and women kissed women. The kisses created “tender points” in the stories. Tenderness propelled the stories. We mustn’t allow the “Homoneutical” authority to be stripped from the same-sex embrace.

You see, my own understanding of the authority and role of scripture has undergone major shifts since I began my formal theological journey. Since I have seen so many left out in the cold. As a creative writer and a public theologian, I carry with me the storied wounds of marginalized folks who are still being crushed under the use of a special hermeneutics that deems their lives as sinful.

I think about the ways that LGBTQ+ folks are not included in a positive light, because of the theological “Fracking the Bible.” “The Church” has found ways to acquire “oil” that is buried deep in the bible. LGBTQ+ folks are not fossil fuel. Anti-LGBTQ theologian’s methods show no concern for the environment of marginalized believers. Acquiring the oil or the anointing, is made possible through a theological fracking, “a drilling technique used for extracting oil or natural gas from deep underground.” We are the underground. Our power buried under the bones of the oppressed before us. Both theological and scientific hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, involve the process of drilling and injecting unhealthy fluids or inputs into the holy ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks or hardened biblical books to release the natural gas inside.

Because it is in the bible or in the earth, the special hermeneutics considers the reaping, “natural.” Even when there are over 600 chemicals used in the fracking process of which several are known carcinogens and toxins, the process still bills itself as natural. During the fracking process the toxins leach out from the system and contaminate the nearby water sources. There is no oil shortage in the bible just a pipeline to poison those in the margins who are often told that they are the largest energy wasters. Achieving biblical authority without regards to the poisoning of any people is criminal. Drilling into the bible to get more fuel to consolidate power amongst oppressors and not share it with the oppressed is sinful.

I have seen the men and women, that are my beloved community, die from drinking the contaminated waters of a fracked bible for which they so desperately thirsted. I have seen them use their bodies and voices in service of a church that would offer them no oil or anointing, even on their death beds. They will perpetuate the claim, that we weren’t there, and that context doesn’t matter; that “The Word” doesn’t change, only the times change. A “Homoneutical” reading says, “I don’t believe that God saw us—POC, women, poor people, LGBT folks, the elderly, the addicted, the creative, the misfits, and cursed us before we got here.”

It’s Pride Sunday y’all, and the undreamt future of the bible is here, and the version or translation of a bible that does not consider us whole and holy will not be sold back to us as precious when it is poisoning us. It is not a bible, if at the same time it is used to turn profits off of prophets. Oppressed people in 2019 will not remain unimaginable to the bible. The ruse of bible fracking, is that it has to convince itself that it is the sole transcendent authority, even when it claims it never saw us coming. And we know, we were there, and we are here, and we are included a history coming.

Happy Pride

Marvin K. White
Minister of Celebration, GLIDE Church

 

 


 

GLIDE Church is a spiritual center of healing, faith, justice and community for everyone. No matter who you are, where you come from or what you’ve been through, you’re welcome here! Join us for Sunday Celebration every Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00 am.

We also livestream! Follow us on Facebook to be alerted to our streams each week.