I get so tired of hearing statements from people that Muslims have to speak up against violence committed in the name of Islam. It’s obvious that they’re either not looking in the right places (although these responses are hard to miss) or they’re just blinded to the fact that most Muslims are appalled by these attacks – and frightened by the Islamaphobia that gets ramped up even further.

So – here is a whole list of statements from Islamic organizations. The next time some fool says it’s time for the Muslim community to sopeak out, hand them this. Hopefully it will do some good.

The following links will bring you to the webpages of major Islamic organizations in America giving their response to the slaughter in Orlando. From the US Council of Muslim Organizations USCMO CONDEMNS THE ORLANDO SHOOTING (Washington, D.C., 6/12/2016) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, expresses its horror […]

via Statements From American Islamic Organizations on the Orlando Massacre — A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice: News and Views

Posted by: smstrouse | June 11, 2016

Yoga & Politics?!

swami11How does your
tradition/spirituality/

philospophy
inform how you think about politics?

That’s the question we’re asking our speakers for this year’s Pluralism Summer.

Our guest tomorrow is Swami Ramandanda
from the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco.

Pluralism Sunday began some years ago as an initiative of progressivechristianity.org.
But at First United we decided that one Sunday wasn’t enough. So now, for the fourth year, we’re embarking on a summer of interfaith exploration. Each week a speaker from a different tradition will address the question of religion and politics within our regular Sunday service.

Our service, while rooted in our Christian tradition, is decidedly interspiritual. For a description of what it means to be an interspiritual Christian, read my blog post here.

Everyone is welcome – those of all faiths and of no faith. Visitors are invited to participate in the service to the extent that you are comfortable.

5:00 pm
First United Lutheran Chiruch
2097 Turk Street (at Lyon)
San Francisco, CA

For more information, contact me.

June 11, 2016

Posted by: smstrouse | June 7, 2016

Pluralism Summer: Week 1

HOW DOES YOUR
RELIGIOUS/ SPIRITUAL/ PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION
images
INFORM HOW YOU THINK ABOUT POLITICS?

Each Sunday, a speaker from different religious/ spiritual/ philosophical tradition will address this timely question within an interspiritual service.
Those of all faiths or no faith are welcome!

Sunday, June 12 @5:00 PM
First United Lutheran Church
2097 Turk Street (@ Lyon), San Francisco

June 12       Swami Ramananda, Integral Yoga Institute San Francisco
President of the Integral Yoga Institute and greatly respected senior teacher in the Integral Yoga tradition, which is a synthesis of the various branches of Yoga.

June 19       Rita Semel, Temple Emanu-El
Co-founder: Interfaith Center at the Presidio, United Religions Initiative, and the San Francisco Interfaith Council

 

June 26       Dr. Peter Erlenwein
Peter Erlenwein is a sociopsychologist and transpersonal therapist from Germany. His work and life has been deeply inspired by his decade long intercultural studies in India and Namiba and his collaboration with laureates of the Alternative Nobel Prize in Germany. He has recently written a book called And I Saw the Heavens Open: Spirituality This Side and Beyond Religion.

July 3          Ed Driskill and Jim Lichti, First Mennonite Church of San Francisco

July 10        Dolores White, Baha’i Community of Martinez, CA
Former board member Interfaith Center at the Presidio and the Contra Costa County Interfaith Council. Certified Laughter Yoga leader.

17               Middle Circle

24              TBA

July 31        Laura Magnani, American Friends Service Committee
Director of AFSC’s Bay Area Healing Justice Program. Author of America’s First Penitentiary: A 200 Year Old Failure; co-author of AFSC publication, “Beyond Prisons: A New Interfaith Paradigm for Our Failed Prison System.”

August 7        TBA

August 14       Mark Carlson, Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy–CA

August 21       TBA

August 28             Hatice Yildiz, Pacifica Institute
Doctoral student, Graduate Theological Union

Pluralism Summer is an initiative of First United Lutheran Church, a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.

We believe that, as theologian Hans Kung wrote:
“There will be no peace among the nations until there is peace among the religions.  There will be no peace among the religions until there is dialogue among the religions.”

At First United, we believe our wisdom will only be enhanced by continued conversation with all of our neighbors. Together we work for peace, justice, and the good of all people and all creation.

Posted by: smstrouse | June 2, 2016

Pluralism Summer: Week 1

 HOW DOES YOUR
RELIGIOUS/ SPIRITUAL/ PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION
images
INFORM HOW YOU THINK ABOUT POLITICS?

Each Sunday, a speaker from different religious/ spiritual/ philosophical tradition will address this timely question within an interspiritual service.

(What is interspiritual?)

Sunday, June 12 @5:00 PM
First United Lutheran Church
2097 Turk Street (@ Lyon)
San Francisco

Oswami11pening up this summer’s series on religion and politics:
Swami Ramananda
from  the  Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco

“Swami Ramananda is the President of the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco and a greatly respected senior teacher in the Integral Yoga tradition, who has been practicing Yoga for over 35 years. Ramananda offers practical methods of integrating the timeless teachings and practices of yoga into daily life, and transforming the painful aspects of human experience into steps toward realizing one’s full potential.

“Ramananda trains Yoga teachers to bring Yoga into corporate, hospital and medical settings and has taught mind/body wellness programs in many locations. He is a founding board member of the Yoga Alliance, a national registry that supports and promotes yoga teachers as professionals. His warmth, wisdom and sense of humor have endeared him to many.”   http://integralyogasf.org/teacher-training/staff/

 
Pluralism Summer is an initiative of First United Lutheran Church, a progressive church, rooted in the Reformation tradition, which says that the church, our worship, and our music must always be re-forming. We believe that it’s more important to ask the questions than to know all the answers.

We believe that, as theologian Hans Kung wrote:
“There will be no peace among the nations until there is peace among the religions.  There will be no peace among the religions until there is dialogue among the religions.”

At First United, we believe our wisdom will only be enhanced by continued conversation with all of our neighbors. Together we work for peace, justice, and the good of all people and all creation.

 

Posted by: smstrouse | May 24, 2016

Pluralism Summer IV

firstsundayheader1It’s hard to believe that at  First United we’re gearing up for our fourth interfaith summer series! Pluralism Summer IV begins June 12.

Pluralism Sunday began back in 2007 as a project of the Center for Progressive Christianity. We’ve always observed the day, but four years ago we decided to extend it for the whole summer.

And now we’re already halfway there in lining up twelve different speakers – one for each Sunday from June 12 to August 28. The truly wonderful thing about being here in the Bay Area is the wealth of awesome people who are willing to come and share themselves with our little congregation.

I learned a  l0t the first year. The main thing was that it’s easier for the speakers when we have a theme. It also creates more interest in the congregation and curiosity about how each tradition will address a particular topic.

Nina Pine BuddhistFor example, two years ago the theme was the environment. We asked our guests to answer the question: how does your tradition inform how you think about caring for the   environment? The variety was amazing. Nina Pine, a Buddhist originally from Nepal, talked about the environmental degradation of Mt. Everest.

Linda Crawford ICP and Don Frew COG

Don Frew (seen here with me and Linda Crawford, executive director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio) is an elder in the CovenanSridevi Ramanathan Hindu1t of the Goddess. He led us in an earth-based meditation.

Sridevi Ramanathan, a Hindu, laughingly told us that, “Of course Hindus believe we should take care of the earth. We believe in reincarnation, so we want the earth to be here when we come back!”

Last year, it was gender.
11539775_10206233265883875_663553422419599292_nMitch Mayne talked about being an openly gay, active Latter-day Saint (Mormon), who has recently served as the executive secretary in the ecclesiastical leadersh11705140_10206182129445496_6793989997650344369_nip of the LDS Church in San Francisco.

Sister Chandru from the Brahma Kumaris (our neighbors over on Baker Street) taught us that the Brahma Kumaris (“daughters of Brahma”) movement is known for the prominent role women play in the movement and led us in a meditation.

And this year? The theme is – what else? – politics: How does, does your, what aspects of your tradition inform your politics? So far, we have speakers from the Baha’i, Muslim, Mennonite, Jewish, and Integral Yoga traditions. We even have a Lutheran (how could we not ask about Luther’s theology of “Two Kingdoms“?).

I’ll be posting more as the rest of schedule gets filled in. Visitors are always expected. If you’ve ever thought about visiting a funky, little, progressive church, this summer would be a great time to do it!

 

 

 

Posted by: smstrouse | May 21, 2016

Has Phoebe’s Day Come at Last?

St-Phoebe-Tradition-of-the-Deaconess-Stayer-Karras-final_21There is one moment that stands out very clearly from my first year of seminary, way back in 1982. That’s when New Testament professor and Greek taskmaster, Dr. Richard Jeske revealed that the Greek word used for Phoebe in Romans 16: 1-2 is the same word used elsewhere for male followers of Jesus. Diákonos, is defined as servant; deacon; minister. However, when the word was used for a woman, translators steeped in patriarchal assumptions would call her a “deaconess.”

It’s gotten a little better since 1982; Phoebe has graduated (in some churches) to “deacon.” But back then, this was a revelation to those of us who – even thought we were in a church that had voted to ordain women – were still fighting to be recognized as equal partners with men. My copy of Biblical Affirmations of Woman by Leonard Swidler, published in 1979, was well-worn and heavily highlighted as I learned how to biblically justify my existence. 

101326c59411b77caf01b70832d75bc1And now Pope Francis has announced that he’ll create a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very glad that the pope is trying to bring reforms into the church. But this one is a no-brainer. “Allowing” women to serve as deacons doesn’t even address the issue of translating the same word as “minister.” It simply returns to the practice of early Christianity.

The question for the Catholic church is whether it will be faithful to the biblical witness or stick to tradition, with all its patriarchal baggage.

Sure, there are many who will see this as a toe in the door for women to become priests. And I say, what would be so bad about that? Even the oft-accused misogynistic St. Paul recognizes the ministry of Phoebe.

profile-3-600x600So, c’mon Francis. Get with the program.
Phoebe’s day has come at last!

 

CNS-Berrigan BANNER_croppedWhere is the anti-war movement today? I’ve heard – and asked – the question often in these past decades.

Who are prophets of the stature of Phil and Dan Berrigan (sheesh, even spellcheck keeps changing it to Kerrigan)?

I know. There are many, many people speaking up and working quietly for justice in many areas, e.g. Black Lives Matter, Sojourners,  Veterans for Peace.

But where is the kind of outrage that drove the Berrigan brothers (part of the Catonsvilleplowshares Nine) to burn draft records with homemade napalm in 1968 and to lead the Plowshares Eight into a GE plant in King of Prussia, PA, pouring blood on company records and damaging nuclear warhead nose cones?

There are many reasons why times have changed. In my own admittedly very simplistic analysis, I can see three. One is that we don’t see the war on TV. Those of us who can remember Viet Nam surely were affected by nightly footage of coffins being unloaded at Dover Air Force Base. In fact, the phrase “Dover Test” became an indicator of public tolerance, or lack of it, for war casualties. That is, until 1991, when the media were banned from covering the arrival of remains at Dover. The ban was lifted in 2009, but the media itself seems to have gone MIA on war coverage.

Two: where they have done a good job, though, is in defusing any criticism of the war by equating it with “not supporting the troops.” So we’ve bent over backwards to reverse the stigma of the Viet Nam era when returning vets were called “baby killers” and the like. I do not want us to go back to that kind of behavior, but my concern for returning vets does not depend on my opinion of our foreign policy. In fact, I lament that those who send them off to fight do not “support our troops” by providing adequate medical care, housing, job training, etc.

The third reason for our malaise, I think, is that getting out of the mess we’re in today is a lot different from the quagmire of Viet Nam. We created the disaster; just picking up and abandoning the people caught in the middle won’t make anything better. Except that nothing appears to be making anything better. We’ve created an “Apocalypse Now” horror show with no end in sight.

It seems hopeless. Even for Dan Berrigan. In an interview with The Nation in 2008 (which could have been written today), he said  “This is the worst time of my long life. I have never had such meager expectations of the system.” Still, he also wrote elsewhere that what made it bearable was a disciplined, implicitly difficult belief in God as the key to sanity and survival.

The Berrigans and all the other anti-war protestors of the past can still be role models for us today. Maybe war is different and the world is different. But our ability to live in the world with conviction, faith and courage does not have to change. WE can be the prophets. The spirit of the Catonsville Nine and the Plowshares Eight can live on is us, in whatever ways we are called to embody peace and justice in the midst of a very difficult time. lxiRc7HngdkqN1uxCsRAiQ-smallw

 

 

Posted by: smstrouse | May 7, 2016

Where Would Jesus Pee?

Fighting-Restroom-Sign-900The Pharisees asked Jesus, “What does the law say about where people may relieve themselves?”
Jesus replied, “A person went into the restroom. There were several other people there. One, looked at the newcomer and said, ‘Let me see your identification so I can determine if you’re in the right place.’

Another pointed a gun and said, You don’t look like you belong here. Get out before I blow you away.’
But a third held open the door to the next available stall and said, ‘Next!’
‘Now, which one,’ Jesus asked, ‘displayed the proper restroom etiquette?’
‘The one who let the person go in and pee.’
And Jesus commanded them, ‘Go and do likewise.'”

I grew up in a house with one bathroom for six people. Without going into detail about the dysfunctionality of my family suffice it to say we had some issues over access to the facilities. So, even though I’m a cis female and don’t expect to be challenged when I enter a woman’s restroom, I do know what it feels like to not be able to go when you got to go.

I know. It’s not that simple. I’ve been reading about the restroom wars. And I have to admit to some mixed feelings. I have no problems using a unisex restroom – as long as everyone obeys rules of common decency and courtesy. I’m not sure we’re ever going to solve the “seat up or seat down” controversy however. I haven’t been able to win that one in my own house, where we do have the girls’  bathroom and the other one.

I’ve also read a very thoughtful blog post by San Francisco transwoman, Bertie Brouhard: A Case Against Unisex Bathrooms. She describes waiting in line in the women’s room and being asked by another woman, “Don’t you hate waiting?” She reflected that the question “piqued my attention and got me thinking how grateful I am there are both Men’s and Women’s Restrooms! My answer expressed in my softest, warmest, lilt with a smile on my face was, ‘No, not at all. In fact I’ve waited over fifty years to use this bathroom.'”

In another interview, she says she believes that the bathroom isn’t the appropriate place for this particular fight: “It’s not a sexual thing. It’s not a right-to-carry-a-gun issue. It’s not same-sex marriage. It’s not abortion. It’s going in to relieve yourself. Don’t carry it too far… The bathroom is not a good place to start a fight.MsqBgwtODsuwwlg-800x450-noPad

Still, there are those who are ready to carry the fight into the stalls, pledging to carry guns into the women’s room to fend off – what? someone who simply has to relieve themselves? Really?!

I don’t have answers to the complex issues surrounding this controversy (except the right to carry guns; that’s a no-brainer). All I know is that, according to Amnesty International and the U.N. General Assembly, access to toilets is a basic human right. And we’re not even touching on the problem as it relates to people who are homeless. Easier to complain about feces and urine on the streets than provide access to facilities.

How sad that we have to even say that we need legislation ensure a basic human right. Yet, since we evidently do, we must advocate for those rights. But the bottom line for me is still common human decency and courtesy. Whoever we encounter in the restroom, may our simple greeting be, “Next!”

Posted by: smstrouse | April 30, 2016

Let the (Muslim) Dead Bury Their Dead

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, it seems that this has been going on for a while now. But I just heard about it. Some of the good citizens of the United States – whose constitution grants everyone the right to freely exercise their religion – are protesting against having Muslim cemeteries in their communities. Towns in Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota have mounted opposition to proposed sites. A CBS News report has stated that, in some cases, new cemetery projects have been defeated.
Muslim Cemetery, Denton, TX

I just don’t even know what to say. Even if I accepted a community’s fear of living Muslims (which I don’t), how can anyone justify the rejection of the dead?

Has Islamaphobic hysteria become this rampant? Are these people this ignorant? How can we call out this kind of nonsense? Do we really have to specify that when we say “All are welcome here,” we mean even your dead?

I doubt that anyone from Dudley, MA or Farmersville, TX or Carlisle, PA or Farmington, MN is reading my words. But if they were, I would say to them, “Get a grip! Act like a human being. And start behaving like a real American.”

images

As tulips open they mimic the shape of the female body, the body which in ancient times was honored as a vessel of grace. Yet they, both tulips and women, remain grounded in the earth. I also love tulips because they remind me of chalices. Recently I was walking among the tulip fields of Skagit…

via April – Tip-toe through the tulips with her… — AWE Gallery: Stacy Boorn

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