Immigration and Indigenous Theology

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees approved a motion to include a report from their Right Relationship Monitoring Committee on the Doctrine of Discovery in their report to congregations, as well as to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly.  What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation?  How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond?  For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions.  This post was written by the Rev. Colin Bossen, who was arrested on July 29, 2010 in an act of civil disobedience. He describes how he learned about the Doctrine of Discovery- Ed.

I did not go to jail expecting to meet a theologian. But jail was where I met Tupac Enrique Acosta. Tupac, like me, was arrested in front of one of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s offices for protesting against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070 on July 29, 2010. Unlike me, Tupac had an analysis of the bill’s place in history that put it firmly within the context of the ongoing repression of the indigenous peoples of North America.

Tupac, who would probably reject the label theologian, is the leading figure behind the Phoenix-based Nahuacalli, an organization that describes itself as “A Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples.” He is also closely linked with Puente, the grassroots organization behind many protests against SB1070 in Phoenix, and Puente’s leader Salvador Reza. Understanding his views on SB1070 illuminates that, for some, the struggle over immigration is about something larger. (more…)

“Com-passion:” A Theological Foundation for Intergenerational Worship

Why do we do justice work?  Theologically speaking, we are guided by ancient tradition and covenants that teach us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”  A more contemporary articulation for Unitarian Universalists would be that to honor the inherent worth and dignity of every person means advocating for all human expression whatever the situation.  Such advocacy is how we honor that worth.  But when we’re crossing cultural boundaries in doing our advocacy work, we need to be mindful that our efforts do not patronize nor our expressions become misappropriation.

In my own anti-racism and anti-oppression work over the last decades, and especially in the early days of that awakening in me, I came to appreciate a way to understand “compassion” more fully.  I am thinking here about the Latin roots of the word compassion:  the prefix com meaning with, and passion meaning to feel.  “Com-passion” equals “feeling with.”   I’m not writing about some action where one in privilege reaches down to alleviate the pain of someone less fortunate.  That is a vapid, empty devaluation of the word itself.  But I am talking about discovering ways to identify with those whose positions we advocate, so that their concerns and their struggles become ours in the most intimate, intuitive ways. (more…)

We Are Not Guests

A Reflection by Rev. Alicia Roxanne Forde

 

Am I a guest here. Here in this House. Are you?

Are we guests here. Here in this House. And, whose House do we inhabit?

In the small world of our lives

the borders between us: easements, fences, gates, hedges – serve to delineate,

to separate us. To remind us of where my property begins and ends.

Where your property begins and ends.


If you cross over: you are a trespasser or a guest in my house.

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Music and Hospitality

At the 2001 General Assembly in Cleveland, OH, delegates marched to the baseball stadium to protest the use of the name “Indians” as the team mascot. This effort was particularly cathartic for me. I was a relatively new UU and a long time fan of another baseball team with an equally racially-charged mascot, the Atlanta Braves. I honestly had never been bothered by such team names, and the march and rally challenged me to rethink the insensitivity and privilege of the dominant culture, of which I am a part.

As the delegates filed out of the hall and into a pouring rain, someone started singing “One More Step”, a hymn written by Canadian UU composer, Joyce Poley. No one had copies of Singing the Living Tradition in hand, and it appeared to be an impromptu decision to sing together as we marched in peaceful protest. I was moved to tears as I began a journey of bringing music to the cause of social witness. Although we were guests in that city, our music brought a calming, yet galvanizing, presence to the protest. (more…)

Flexibility, Spiritual Energy, and Wearing Lots of Hats

I love the Youth Caucus at General Assembly because of our community’s open-minded flexibility and fantastically positive energy. This is not to say that these qualities are exclusive to the Youth Caucus, but, as a youth chaplain to the Youth Caucus last year at GA, I had the privilege of observing my peers’ growth throughout the week, and I can assure you that their growth was astounding. Sure, we may be a bit rowdy at times, but our age also gives us a unique readiness to consider alternative opinions and perspectives.

A good example of this comes from an experience at last year’s GA. In addition to being a chaplain, I had the honor of being a member of the Right Relationship Team. Early in the week, another member of the Right Relationship Team pulled me aside and informed me of an issue with one of the games that was played at the Youth Caucus mixer the previous night. The game was called Ninja; to play, a group of people stand in a circle and take turns making swift movements to tap the hand of the person next to them. The last player to remain untapped is the winner. The game is a ton of fun, and very popular, but its name is also a serious cultural misappropriation.
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