Tag Archive: empire

westword lmaw vigil 068

I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.



It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP


… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP


“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull


“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull


“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister


 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration


“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration


Welcome, we acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the people of the Kulin Nations have been custodians since time immemorial.

This is our third in a series called The Art of Discipleship where we showcase the material of different books and engage with their material creatively.


The activity this week is taken from:

Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus


This book by Ched Myers looks at the book of Mark as a manifesto for radical discipleship — i.e., Jesus as exemplar of nonviolent resistance to the powers-that-be in his day, and ergo in ours.  We will be reading Mark, all of it, in one go and sitting in the queries; “What do the questions Jesus poses to the disciples have to say to us today?”

The Word is removed from us in time and space. We all tell stories and know how to tell stories. It is a common language that bridges other cultural gaps between us. These stories are not just entertainment but they actually educate and nourish us. BUT because they are good and healing stories, there are powers out there that will try to destroy them or… “let them be confused or forgotten” – BUT these evil powers cannot stand up to these stories (a statement of faith – conviction -hope that there is a power greater than what we face).  So what we are doing, reading scripture is counter cultural – sitting down and sharing, taking time.


Radical – arising from or going to a root or source. From latin radicalis, having roots.

Radical simply means to go to the roots. Twin task of going to roots of tradition in scripture and in spirituality and in social solidarity and in roots of our contemporary pathologies to deal with root causes and not symptoms.

What are the current issues these stories could be informing?

  • War Israel/Palestine/Afghanistan/Syria/Russia
  • Riots/protests throughout middle east – for democracy and Europe/America in relation to global financial crisis.
  • Isaiah 14.:8: strategic asset Cedars of Lebanon, oil of the ancient times. What was empire then and what is it now? Phonecia, Babylon, Rome – clear cut the cedars for masts for ships and bearing poles for temples. Ecological justice.
  • Matt 1-2, Luke 1-2 Christmas story sentimentalised – imperial violence and human displacement, infanticide as a matter of domestic policy.
  • Road to Emmaus – story of courage and resistance, within a few days of crucifixion. Easter Luke 16:31 – under the shadow of death, not a zen walk down a country road. What is the meaning of the death of our leader for our movement.
  • Immigration/boat people – Isaiah 56, scripture and restorative justice – right using the bible to exclude immigrants and gay people. Radical
  • Matthew 18 restorative justice, ambassadors of reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2.

Draw parallels and analogies with our current context.

  • Ambassadors in chains Ephesians 2-3 & MLK letter from a Birmingham jail (Eph 3:10, 6:1)

How does the story read in our own context?


As we read be mindful of the following:

  • Oral tradition – uses language to set the scene – are we at the seaside or in the city now?  Look for introduction of new characters, new settings, changes in plot.  Often read the bible like a 5 minute segment out of an entire movie  – how can you understand what’s going on when you come in part way through the story? Need to rebuild critical literacy.
  • We can romanticise the Roman Empire – nothing nice about it.  I am a descendant of the colonising empire – British Empire, conquest, world sovereignty, racial superiority and global management.  Empire looks very different from the bottom IMG_5266up, than the top down – victims are always reminded of their vassalage. Money replaced with that with an image of Emperor or Queen.  The Romans were driven out of Judea and then they struck back. Jerusalem was laid siege, conquered and burned.  The book of Mark was written during this war.  Empire can be defined as the rule of the centre over the periphery.
  • Mark 1:7 baptiser – One is coming who is stronger than I am.  Power contesting power.  Not baptised with only water but the holy spirit and fire.  Baptism was and is a personal and political statement in a social context calling on the Holy Spirit of water and fire out in the undomesticated wilderness against the struggle of empire.
  • “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feed the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harms it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all people” Menno Simons 16th century.  This is a discipleship of struggle and resistance as well as renewal.  Will it have a cost?  Baptism into Christ and into Christs death.  When Jesus was baptised he went right under into the Jordon, shedding  everything of socialisation – rises up completely unobligated to empire.  Jesus was baptised into a specific watershed/river, a specific story, a specific (un)kingdom.


Working from the same copy, read the – whole – book of Mark aloud in one session. The document below, to help with the sense on one whole flowing story (as the oral tellers would speak it), has had all chapter and verse numeration and story “titles” removed.

Mark stripped back

First thoughts?
Sound/feel different than it usually does? What stands out?
Have some general discussion around the ‘mindful’ notes re our ideas about – stories, empire, baptism, discipleship…


Protesters make their way across Princes Bridge. Photo: Joe Armao

This month the Government announced that they were going to turn off/stop maintaining access to water, electricity, etc. in multiple rural indigenous communities and this protest came very quickly in response.  We like to think that “taking the land away” or dispossession was something that happened long ago and far away and has nothing to do with me but then something like this happens to bring it front and centre and our willful blindness is confronted by the reality: this is still an issue and it is still happening.

These are the words the protestors called in chorus:

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”

Talk to me about economics. Talk to me about closing the supermarket so people had to travel for food, closing the school so families with children had to travel or move, talk to me about closing the petrol station – it might be true that some of these communities have only 4 people living in them but there used to be many more.

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”

Talk to me about land and place.  There’s hardly any of them, why should they get special treatment? They can move to the nearest big town… to give you a sense of scale Kimberley is c. 3 times the size of England and has a population of 40-50K people.  The nearest town is, well, pretty darn far away – what we white fullas can forget is that indigenous Australia is a lot kimberleymore like Europe, made up of many different countries with their own language, and myths, and dances and traditions… this map on the left is rough overview of the First Nations Peoples and language groups in Kimberley.  This is their map of how they see the world –  we wouldn’t expect it to be reasonable to ask the Italians to move to the nearest town in France and give up everything that informs their own unique culture and identity and we should not ask it of Aboriginal people here either.

photo credit: kimberleyfoundation.org.au

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”

Talk to me about civilisation.  We brought civilisation with us, did we not?  Are these people not better off because we bought them farming and livestock and tools and machinery they didn’t have before?  We brought in the piped water and wired electricity and overrode the old ways with our better new ways…?  There might not be many left who remember and could live by the old ways.  We’ve created a dependence and now you want to take the civilisation away? Did our civilisation include the law, and does the law include provision for human rights like access to water?  What is civilisation?

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”IMG_5269

Tell me a story.  Tell me who your people are and where you are from.

At the start of some (too few) events, ceremonies or proceedings you might hear an Acknowledgement of Country… We acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the Peoples of the Kulin Nations have been custodians since time immemorial.  I went to a cultural awareness training day with Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin a few years ago and she did this activity with sticky dots to illustrate how Aboriginal people have lived here for 50,000 years – if each dot is equivalent to 1,000 years – then this black drawing, on the very last dot, represents the 200 years of contact/settlement with us white fellas.  We are a blip on a landscape that was here long before we came.  We need to understand and be reminded of our place in the story of things from Aboriginal peoples point of view. While, I’m here I’ll point out that this is what makes “Australia Day” also so hard.  It marks (and celebrates) the anniversary of colonisation over the culture that had existed here many thousands of years prior.  These acknowledgements should not be empty words.  We eat, we play, we gather, we work – on land where indigenous people were here before us – doing those things first – for many, many years.

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”

Talk to me about belonging.  Do we “belong” here?  I think there is something in the psyche of all of us asking this question because at some level, perhaps we sense the truth of having displaced others to enjoy the space we now hold.  I am from New Zealand, and we have our own history and yet unfolding story of fair trade for land, foreshores and fish – and who should be the custodians of these things.  We need to respect Traditionally Acquired Knowledge more than we do because people lived and ate seasonably and sustainably and can probably teach us a thing or two about living well in this climate and speak wisely into other current social issues.  Do I belong here in this crowd? It can be easy to feel smug – Maori is taught in our schools, we had a treaty and are hearing settlement claims, we have a Ministry for Maori Development… but that is not enough: Te Whiti, a Maori Chieftain, exhorts us to “Ask that mountain” – the land itself bears 076witness to what takes place beyond any particular action of my lifetime whether we have done everything that we can to make things right.  How might the Great Barrier Reef answer? Or Uluru? or The Big Pit in Kalgoorlie? I was proud to see the Maori flag raised and carried alongside the Aboriginal flag in solidarity.  Others who have experienced displacement themselves – they do not forget.  We need to recognise that living in a world that has more languages, more dances, more patterns, more stories makes it a more enriching place for all of us and is worth protecting and defending by us all.

We chant it together.  We claim and proclaim it publicly:

“Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”

“When you haven’t got a homeland or place to go, you lose your identity,and personality and you become sick.
Where are these communities going to go?”

Indigenous activist, Rieo Ellis

Thanks to ANTaR for this summary of the issue:

Announcement to discontinue funding essential services in remote communities

  • In September 2014 the Federal Government announced that it would no longer fund essential municipal services including supply of power, water, and management of infrastructure in remote Aboriginal communities in Queensland, Victoria, NSW, Western Australia, and Tasmania, despite having done so for decades.
  • The South Australian government refused to sign an agreement, and the Western Australian government signed an agreement with the Federal Government for funding of $90 million which would fund services until June 2016.
  • The WA government announced that it would not pick up the bill beyond that time and would instead close between 100 and 150 of the 274 remote Aboriginal communities in the state.
  • The decisions by both the Federal and the State Governments occurred without any consultation with Aboriginal people in the affected communities.

How many people live in these communities

According to the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs, there are around 12,000 Aboriginal people currently living in the 274 communities in WA, with around 1,300 living in 174 of the smallest. In 115 of those communities, there are around 500 people in total, or an average of 4.4 people per community.

What will the impact be of shutting down communities

Premier Barnett himself acknowledged that closing communities would:

“…cause great distress to Aboriginal people who will move, it will cause issues in regional towns as Aboriginal people move into them.”

Professor Patrick Dodson, Yawuru man from the Kimberley, who authored a review of small homeland communities for the NTgovernment said closing down communities would:

“…be disastrous, increasing access to drugs and alcohol and exacerbating social tensions,  which would flow on to antisocial behaviour and incarceration. The immediate consequences would be to create an internal refugee problem for the indigenous people.

He also said that breaking people’s connection to land:

“…would threaten the survival of Aboriginal knowledge and culture, because in towns people were restricted from camping, lighting fires, hunting and fishing.” 

What criteria will be used to close communities

It is not known where any closures might occur, nor what criteria might be used.  In fact, there has been great anxiety and uncertainty over this, particularly as no consultation has occurred prior to the statement being made by Premier Barnett.

The Federal Government prepared a document in 2010 titled “Priority Investment Communities – WA” which categorised 192 of 287 remote settlements as unsustainable. The majority of those assessed as unsustainable are in the Kimberley, with 160 communities in the region.

Non-Indigenous communities

We could not find any examples of government decisions to refuse to fund essential municipal services for non-Indigenous communities, including small communities in remote areas in WA. For example, the non-Indigenous community of Camballin (of about 300 people) is located near Looma (an Aboriginal community of around 370 people) in the Kimberly. Looma will be assessed by the Western Australian government for funding whereas Camballin will not.


[Earlier this year I had the great privilege and profoundly impacting experience of attending the BCM Kinsler Institute in Oak View, California – a.k.a a clusterfest: part birthday party, part conference, part church, part action planning meeting… – it’s worth noting that I can/am only speaking to my own notes from those sessions I attended and there were generally 5-6 options for every devotional and workshop spot so this is not conclusive coverage and the mistakes are my own. If you’re interested in this kind of reading there’s many more resources, articles and stories at the Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (BCM) and Radical Discipleship websites]


Bible Study: Jesus, Disciple of the Story – Ched Myers

Need to be literate in the story.

Jesus underwent formation and had to discern call. Jesus was shaped in/knew his tradition – quoting, embodying, referencing… informs his consciousness and animates his imagination. “As it is written…” rooted in the story.

I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just for entertainment.
Don’t be fooled
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories
let the stories be confused or forgotten
They would like that
They would be happy
Because we would be defenseless then.

Silko, Ceremonies

If we forget the stories, we are defenceless. If you aren’t grounded in this story, what are you grounded in? Land you are on is filled with stories – do you know them? Conquest, pain, animals… to be part of restorative justice in that place, need to know the stories.

Jordan is a river of stories (Red Sea) Exodus, Joshua 304. River is flooding, ford to cross. Israelites/Canaanites – Semitic tribes politically, socially and economically aligned with Egypt > tribute to pharaoh. Much as America don’t rule South America but control it through strategic leaders politically, socially and economically. Israel just got free, trying to be free of empire, the land they want is under empire/occupied.   This is why they go the long way round. Main roads controlled by Egyptians – undocumented immigrants finding another way >> old story. US Border Patrol, “boat people” in Australia. Chasing them or keeping them out. “The Man” holds the roads, bridges, fords…believe in a God who troubles the water. Ch.3 full chapter of ritual. The ark has to go first – carrier of the tablets. Instructions on how to be non-Egyptian. We are following a Way. Symbol – religious, social, cultural… Cherubim holding up a seat, empty, un-king. Manna economics, non-hierarchal structure of mutual aid. Ritual. Dip feet. Pick up stones, 12 stones, take them to the other side and build a cairn, 12 tribes. Alternative body politic with no king. Build a cairn on the Jericho side. Statement > attack Jericho. Dancing in the teeth of empire – started with going down to the river and getting stones. When Jesus goes down to the river – he dives down into the river – diving for stones. Lost the symbols because we’ve forgotten the stories or gotten confused about them. Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha (discipling) > first thing Jesus does is call disciples like Elisha did.

Apprentice of kingdom, land and story. Need to go into the left side of our bible to make sense of the right side – which constantly references the first half. New Testament stories are re-placed and re-grounded in the Old Testament.

Invites us as disciples to do the same. Let us be disciples of the kingdom as Jesus was, of land as Jesus was, of story as Jesus was. Scripture study informing out political and theological practice.


Walking Meditation: Charletta Erb & Todd Wynward

Mayra 11016722_10153155574714715_3033034683319964493_n (4)


Artist Manuel Cisneros, a native of Guanajuato, Mexico, came to California 12 years ago. The physical labor of moving large boulders around was satisfying, and the contemplative nature of balancing and composing his sculptures fed his soul. Often, he doesn’t know what a sculpture is going to look like until it’s finished; he enjoys the way the rocks, wind and ocean waves work their own magic on him. (quote from the Ventura County Reporter, 12/24/2014)


(photo credit: Mayra Stark)



Siyahamba (Zulu, we are walking in the light of God)
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos yoyo’,
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’.
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’,
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’.
[ekukhanyeni kwenkos’]
Siyahamba… ooh
[Siyahamba, hamba, Siyahamba, hamba]
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’.
[ekukhanyeni kwenkos’]
Siyahamba… ooh
[Siyahamba, hamba, Siyahamba, hamba]
Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’.


Christ came down that we might have love x 3 (hope, peace, joy…)
Hallelujah forever more


We shall not give up the peace
We have only started x3
Together we can work it out
If we only listen
Together we find victory
Hand holding hand


You shall be like a garden
Like a deep spring
Whose waters never fail


Preacher: Rev. Jin Kim -“Wasting our life for Christ’s sake”

Mark 14: wasted ointment – waste/efficiency/frugality – breaking in with intimacy?

‘To waste’ and ‘to lose’ come from the same word…
whoever loses their life…
“wastes” their life.

birdThink about making something of ourselves or making ourselves nothing. Called to “be a loser”. Exodus: survival – significance – justifies the risk. I am now privileged. Christian domain – homeless, penniless… What are we leaving for our children that matters? Can’t crap in the living room, that will affect the whole house. We’re all dirt. All full of shit. Good soil or bad? Loving God and loving neighbour – generosity and hospitality.

Seriousness is a symptom of empire. Unless you have lightness, levity, joy, self-deprecating humour… your software has taken on the operating system of empire > fruits of the spirit (live in THAT!). Need to detoxify ourselves of empire. THEN reach out – physically, emotionally, spiritually… was Jesus a great prophet but failed evangelist? Message of surrender that no one wants to hear.


Guide my feet while I win this race x3
Oh I don’t want to run this race in vain
Light my path…
Hold my hand…
Set my feet…

(Kinsler Institute photo essay)
This emphemeral art piece was created by Ted
Lyddon Hatten:”…when you are looking at something
you know isn’t going to last from bud to bloom or a
baby that will grow… you appreciate it differently”


Plenary panel: Radical and Integrative Theological Education – Eric Brown and Ndume Olatushani (Proctor Institute); Jin Kim (Underground Seminary); Dee Dee Risher (Alternative Seminary); Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (EcoFaith Recovery); Kate Foran (Word & World); Rebecca Stelle (Church of the Savior)

Opportunity to hear from a variety of grassroots theological education initiative practitioners – use/addiction recovery model, small mission-minded groups, mentors + mission with intensives…

Seminary – comes from the word ‘seed’

Borders – places of convergence.

There’s a higher degree of diversity
and richness at the edges.

If we do our job properly then we should not be sure if we are in church or a classroom or at an organising meeting or in a field. Welcome to the “clusterfest”. Planting, reaping, harvesting > movement building, church renewal or social uprising?

  • Alternative publishing and seminary
  • Can’t learn the new construct from the old construct. What is full immersion? Enter into what is new.
  • Freedom Circle (12 steps) addict to the worlds sick way of being. Theological reflection happens later. Surrender is counter-cultural: full disclosure of finances, surrender authority to one another e.g. can I attend this conference?
  • Dorothy Day wasn’t just sitting around talking. Alternative Seminary: Credo (belief) and contextualisation of that is important, met in a homeless shelter, had a sliding pay scale, connect ecumenically – progressives from each tradition, can’t feel like school (competitive) or be disparaging of one another.
  • Word and World – how do you read? Learned in Greensboro (at the Beloved Community). Understand t agenda of people trying to preserve power > then hear stories and perspectives of others re-placing the stories. Be the student/intern – change the conversation. Too religious for political people and vice versa.
  • In cell – started to paint the things I wanted to see. Listen to what was within – I was fortunate. Chose not to have a TV for the first 10 years in prison (a lot of inmates live in/through that).

Knowledge makes us responsible

(cont.) …I had to educate others. Survival – keep getting up and moving forward. Always a chance to change the world around us. I couldn’t say that to others if I wasn’t doing – want to disrupt the system have to allow my voice at the table to describe what it looked like from the inside. Have to do everything I can so it doesn’t happen to anyone else. ‘Children’s Defence Fund’.

  • Poverty not only economic but internalised. Need to work on both generationally. First African American lawyer and founder of the Children’s Defence Fund. Civil rights pedagogy – not just talking but singing and preaching it and erupting and disrupting onto the streets.
  • Underground seminary: Took graduates – do an internship to undo/detoxing from professionalism. Between 20-40 years old, in debt, over-leveraged – everyone paid what they could afford. Made them live together 8-9 houses. Interns live 4 doors from church intentional. Philosophical and ideological text polluted by smog – if you don’t go to the mountains or fly above it then you can see/don’t know there is smog. As much about unlearning as learning. This way of understanding is integrated into my church and family life. It’s a natural part of our lifestyle – would happen even there were no students. Invigorating. Church gives time to it but holds it lightly. Like a flash mob. When needed, will happen; when not needed, won’t. Traditional in Asian culture to go to a school of “{person}” – personalised authority rather than a school.
  • People and churches going into “recovery”. Individualised recovery vs. communal. Have a grant that funds interns and mentors. Learn from students/cycles. Ecofaith recovery asks “what can we do?” Grief work. Part worship, part movement, self-work… A lot of people might think “I can’t give up my car so I can’t criticise petrol companies” – what are other ways we can engage with the environment?

Imagination lies underneath our grief.

Teach leadership development that is spiritually grounded and organisational skills.



Workshop V: Immigrant Rights Organising – Guillermo Torres

We do advocacy. When undocumented people are picked up they are held by the police and then turned over to Immigration. Police are not qualified to make decisions about immigration.   Principles like these get used to abuse day labourers: utilise them then don’t pay them – they have no protection or right of redress.

What is the faith response to the crisis of children coming from South America? Have a vigil. Visit them and check the conditions where they are being held. Want to do more than pray… got together key faith leaders, politicians, service provision stakeholders and a refugee to tell her story. People that came to the US and were arrested for crimes then were sent home to Honduras and El Salvador – her house was in the middle of a gang shoot out… hunger… coldness… two days on a bus… rash… boy fell off the raft she was on and a another woman went into the water to get him… family were separated… father sent back to Honduras, they had no money and he is the main provider for their family… makes no sense? Kids who arrive in the US under 18 years of age get fast tracked and are given 7 days to make a case for why they should be allowed to stay.  Waves of immigration during the wars > became gangs in LA (shared language and friends) > deported back to El Salvador and keep gang structure.


(Kinsler Institute photo essay)

How do we connect to the children who have arrived? To their faith? To lawyers? To supplies? What if we created a collective network?

How do we find out where the kids are when this is confidential? Invited the people who might have that information to come to the meeting. What are the biggest needs?

  • Legal protection/services > Guardian Angels
  • Mental health services that can be used to build a case for asylum: violence, poverty, abandonment, sex trafficking (give me your daughter r we will kill the entire family)
  • Chaplaincy: sponsor, hospitality, integration into community, links to food/clothes/transportation, navigation.

250 kids were funded to get legal support, only operating at 40% because couldn’t reach more kids/families.

  • Accompany-er who is screened and trained who is with them through the whole process. Calls weekly. Moral and spiritual support.
  • Distribution centres for pallets of shoes, clothing, food, grant for $25K, vouchers for school uniforms.
  • Welcome centers/congregations – food, clothes, school supplies
  • Serving supplies (re job skill training)
  • Raise funds for legal aid
  • Skill/job training – sewing, welding…
  • New furniture

Doing all these things and haven’t
even named the coalition.

What can the church offer as special/unique gifts?

Love, compassion, justice – what moves you? …need to know what motivates groups.

Moral authority “self-interest” motivated by love and call of God on hearts – how are we awakened to our deepest connections? John 17:21 strategy > hope and compassion. Eph 2 implicit and explicit – explain and if you have to, use words. Immigrants become involved in advocacy and non-immigrant partners. Some politicians identify as religious – an interfaith response might canvas that, clergy bring influence and members bring influence.

Anyone plus God is a majority

Further reading on the Faith Communities Contribution to Unaccompanied Migrant Children see: Guardian Angels, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of Los Angeles (CLUE-LA).
See also Our God is Undocumented – Ched Myers


Workshop VI: Messianism vs. Christology – Jim Perkinson


heidelberg project
Christianity needs to be redefined, transformed, reframed…

Make desperation yield beauty
in spite of itself

Google image search “The Heidelberg Project” – economic decline saw many factories closing and abandoned housing > lots of rubbish. This project using refuse as art attracts 2000 people a year – a community art project that is constantly evolving. Step out of art protocols – make people and places speak beauty. Utilises non-human actors: stones, water, clouds, doves, snakes… what is indigenous to the area. Detroit taught me to speak in tongues – use a difference vocab than your cognisance recognises. An African dance has motion/rhythm/call and response/exchange and a heightening of energy – they are learning how to speak the land, let them have space inside our bodies. The totem animal/plant has been there longer and knows how to survive. What voice is speaking in you? Big question. We are what we eat – is my ancestor my grandfather or possum or grubs? More honest to tell the story that way.

Domesticating ecology and dominating… 10,000 years domesticated plants, 500 years later domesticated animals to help with domesticating plants, now mostly metal technologies through fossil fuels. Functioned in band societies of c.150 people or less (most of us still only engage with about that number of people). We are not hardwired to violence – when have we lived not destructively? What do we have to learn from that period? Pastoral nomadism as resistance… Genesis 1-2-3… domestication happened as a result of the Fall not “advancement”, Cain and Abel – the farmer kills the pastoral nomad then builds the first city. Replacement for Abel is Seth (replacement), Inosh (vulnerable one) and Inoch (full metal jacket) > two lines out of Eve. Son of Man/Human One not Christ or Rabbi. Kibor Inosh in Daniel (one like the vulnerable one)… history of empire and kingship – Samuel – you will come to regret this… Saul, David, Solomon… 1&2 Samuel/1&2 Kings = forced labour of men and harems of women. Pastoral nomadism has counter imperial values. Abram first thing, leave the city, take animals, become herder, trees of Moray…

hospitality is how you hear
what’s going on in the next watershed

3 angels visit. Urban Sodom is degrading visitors.

David/Daniel/Isaiah – how does Jesus talk about them? Messianism

Abraham – hospitality
Moses – lives off the land
Elijah – fed by ravens > hunting
David – on the run renegade shepherds, playing the lyre, shamanic tradition
Paul – Galilean movement

We have enslaved matter.

Indigenous people are calling us to return not for in a forward spiral. To them space – organic life and everything else – squirrel and a rock have the same vitality.

Further reading: Principalities and Powers – Walter Wink

Building in cities represent the harnessed energy of animals, minerals, humans – they are still energised but they are warped. Bloated and starving. Hungry ghosts. “I am Legion” complexity of singular and plural. Internalised scribal principalities. Exorcises the people and the first thing that happens is people start asking “What was that? Haven’t seen that before!” >start asking questions.

Me. You. God has hundreds of faces. Return wild vitality to them. Jesus puts mud and spit on blind eyes and asks: “Can you see?”. Artists take mud caps and paint and ask us “Can you see?” The project was bulldozed twice and burned nine times – not everyone thinks it’s beautiful. Folk art marking it out as beautiful – as vital. Shocks you into recognition of where you are. Ethnic cleansing is happening through tax/mortgage/water cut offs. Detroit is seen as a blight and a problem. A deep weapon for surviving is codifying beauty out of pain: spirituals/blues/jazz/R&B/gospel/soul/funk/techno/hiphop… old school and underground forms… tagging, breakdancing, turntabling…Pain made into beauty.


Reflections from our chaplains

Lots of tensions/paradoxes:

Take seriously – not too seriously
Local – global
Find voice – listen
Be still – dance
Articulate – sit in silence
Doing a lot – not doing enough

 Isaiah 37:31 root downwards, fruit upwards.

Sometimes find ourselves with less time, less money, less love, less support than we would want. Not called to imitate as they did but the way they incarnated the Word/Spirit of God in their lives.

Digging down deeper – public acts of liturgy might encourage someone to go a little further.

Imaginative capacity – how do we expand this for ourselves and our imaginations. Easier to imagine another world than our own neighbourhood being radically different, incarnating a deeper imagination.

Moving from strength to strength:

  • Gifts of young ‘uns: new ways of seeing, energy, acontextual, less baggage
  • Keeping it real
  • Connections: art, music, cross denominations, people, creativity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Manifestation of spirit
  • Ched’s jokes

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing – fuel, safe space, fresh air, spark rekindled.

Celebrate and nurture faithfulness.  Courageous is the loving thing to be.

We share with you
what we have received.

Movement – called to shine light not be stars, workers not heroes, move justly and lightly on the earth. “The world seen clearly, not sharp eyes but eyes moistened with tears…” Margaret Atwood.

Passion and compassion that leads us. Themes: touch my wound, leave sorrow behind >go to lead and feed.

We are enough.
Scattered but not alone.

Pick up seed and carrying it away – store, feed family, drop… grow

F*** off



As if the shop windows, billboards, advertising, etc. of dominant culture weren’t enough…