Contemplation, clutter, and systemic racism.

From last week’s discussion of de-cluttering our lives…all of us struggle with some level of clutter in our lives.   Excess is our culture’s middle name.  Too much stuff: furniture, clothes, food, boxes of books, and things we can’t even remember…  And too much information: emails, facebook posts, news feeds, photo albums, calendars, address books, etc.  Even our spiritual life is probably cluttered and disorganized, prone to entropy.   We strive to declutter in theory to make room in our world for the more important things; relationships, quiet time, helping the poor, visiting the sick, addressing injustice, righting wrongs, etc.

Can the Tree of Contemplative Practice help us to organize a response?  Instead of waging war on clutter and failing in despair, can we take positive action to be the change we want to see, despite the clutter?

We have talked about racism off and on since the Ferguson shooting.  With the recent attention to the Selma, AL, in the presidential visit and the movie, it seems appropriate to return.  This time, to the idea of systemic racism.  One of the founders of the Black Lives Matter project, Opal Tometi, said this, “Systemic racism reinvents itself to conform to what is publicly acceptable. We must divest from this system. …As people of faith our affiliations are much deeper.”   If racism creates an environment for injustice and discrimination, can we mount an attack using the powerful branches of our tree?  What would that look like for this group?  For the St. Andrews community?

Here’s how a United Church of Christ Church in MA has begun the process.   Note, this is a community of faith proposing positive steps to tackle this issue.  Not by stocking a food pantry, or giving checks to those in need ( although I suspect they do this as well), but by learning, building relationships, examining, and spiritual disciplines from other branches on our tree.    See you tomorrow.   Bring Tuna!

One Church’s anti-racism statement

We are a congregation committed to pro-active anti-racism – seeking with God’s help to be a force for the elimination of racism and white privilege.” – First Congregational Church, Amherst, MA

Statement of Current Perspectives:  We commit ourselves both personally and collectively to helping to eliminate both personal and systemic/institutional racism through such steps as:

  • Learning about race, racism, whiteness, white privilege, and anti-racism
  • Building relationships with people of both similar and different racial backgrounds to our own
  • Examining our institutional practices and changing them, where indicated
  • Public and interpersonal witness for racial justice
  • Healing ourselves and others from the hurts/effects of racism
  • Taking other action as instruments of God’s love and justice, always seeking to be guided by the Spirit…

…all on an ongoing basis.

from a longer statement []
(Adopted by consensus at the First Congregational Church, Amherst UCC Annual Meeting, February 2010.)

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2 Responses to Contemplation, clutter, and systemic racism.

  1. This is a great article on implicit bias, i.e. the racism you may harbor and not even be aware of it.

  2. johndidiego says:

    Good stuff – and timely!

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