What a summer it has been. Black Americans keep dying at the hands of police. Near daily protests, mostly but not exclusively peaceful, have roiled cities and small towns across the country, hurricanes have ravaged the Gulf Coast, and California and the Pacific Northwest are burning. And Covid-19 is still keeping us apart, at least physically.
It’s a hard time to resume our weekly discussions, and this isn’t the way we’d hoped to kick off our seventh year (yes, seven!) of conversations, but here we go.
On second thought, maybe this is a good time to think a little bit about the last six months, the long unsettled summer that is coming to an end, and what we have to look forward to. When we chatted back in June, stay-home orders had finally been lifted, and it looked like we had a promising summer ahead. If only.
Lutheran theologian Leah D. Schade, writing at Patheos, captures the mood:
This September, the poignancy is made more painful recognizing the enormous dying that has happened over the last six months.
As I write this on September 1, 2020, more than 25 million people across the planet have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 844,312 have died from it. The pandemic leaves a trail of carnage in its wake that is dizzying to comprehend.
Earth’s momentary sabbath jubilee while humanity lay dormant in its spring quarantine is just a memory now. With little patience for the sustained discipline of slowing down, and with the threadbare social net fraying beneath us, we’ve fallen back into our old ways of relentless capitalism.
It’s a system that eats people alive even as they claw for the “right” to sacrifice themselves for it.
It’s a system that consumes the living and the dead – the fossil fuels that haunt us with heat-trapping gasses meant only for Earth’s deepest places. The resulting onslaught of climate-induced catastrophes erupts in wildfires felling ancient redwoods while hurricanes and typhoons rampage across sea and land. All the while, the Trump/GOP assault against the very water, land, and air we need to live feels suffocating.
Suffocation was the way George Floyd died under the knee of an officer on a street in Minneapolis.
“I can’t breathe,” he gasped as we all gasped in horror, watching. Whiteness is another system that eats people alive. It’s a demonic idea that fools humans into sacrificing each other for the sake of retaining an ephemeral sense of power and control. Like the wildfires feeding on revered redwoods, the flames of racial hatred are supercharged by an atmosphere both hot and toxic. We wonder if the revered ideals of democracy, decency, and compassion will even survive.
The challenge, Schade suggests, is to figure out what it means to be alive, emotionally, spiritually, maybe even physically, in the face of so much literal and figurative death. So that’s our question. What does it mean to be alive, in all these ways, in such troubling times? What have the last six months taught you about yourself, or others, and this world we all share? Where have you turned for strength and solace? Or do you still struggle with all that is going on?
Join us for the conversation, virtually, beginning tomorrow evening at 7 pm. Details are below.
St. Mary’s In-The-Hills is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Pub Theology Sept. 15
Time: Sep 15, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 356 052 8772
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,3560528772#,,,,,,0#,,444721# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,3560528772#,,,,,,0#,,444721# US (Chicago)
Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 356 052 8772
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/aw1hJugLg