The following segment, running about 5 minutes, is from an event I had the honor of participating in with an organization I’m a member of on behalf of the church I run. The Grand Valley Interfaith Network celebrates THANKSGVIN during the week of Thanksgiving and incorporates a variety of the sacred traditions within the Grand Valley area. Each year there’s a different theme, and all participants are asked to speak (briefly) on that theme from their tradition’s perspective. This year the theme was “Gratitude”, and was hosted by American Lutheran Church pastored by the Rev Valerie Carlson (she’s awesome!). My segment starts at about 55:00, and hopefully I’ve queued it up here (below) correctly. The text is below the video.
The sun rises and the sun sets; hate still tramples about stealing life from beloved bodies. Joy and rapture cut short while love and acceptance is silenced by violence. Their happiness, their liberty to be, their life unacceptable to those who believe such things are reserved only for the elite, the powerful, the white, the heteronormative, the conforming, those who worship at the altar of Moloch drinking lustfully from terror’s cup, bending the knee to weaponized malevolence, consumed by the venom of malice. This world is colder and dimmer because Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump, and Raymond Green Vance no longer participate in this material life, no longer darken doorways of their family and friends, no longer take up beautiful space.
We are sick; we have an illness. We pretend it’s not wreaking havoc on every cell of our body. We go from one horrific incident to another as if this is all normal. Humans killing humans isn’t normal. Stock piling militarized weapons isn’t normal. Our silence is acceptance of conditions not oriented toward life, isn’t that abnormal? Think about it. Where is our desire to live? Where is our verve for liberation? Where is our fight against death? Why are we rolling over, pulling the covers over our head, and waiting for the next incident to flicker onto and illuminate our screens? When do we stand up in this boat being rocked by the appetite of voracious and rancorous waves and winds and sound our maternal yawp protecting our own? How many more lives must be lost before we holler our divine spirit’s “No!”? How many children, brothers, sisters, moms and dads, lovers and friends, must be violently and suddenly yanked way before we tell those damned waves and winds to shut up and sit down? How long? How many more? Do we not care?
I’m a pastor; I’m called to serve life not death. I’m a child-bearer; I’m called to push forth life not death. I’m a teacher; I’m called to cause space and place for life to thrive and not death. I’m an ethicist; I’m called to advocate for life over death. I’m a human; I’m called to share and participate in life with others in retaliation against death. So, I’m ungrateful because this society repeatedly chooses death over life, and I’m not okay with it because it goes against who I am and my calling, it rails against a God of life and love, and puts those whom I love—those whom I’m charged to love by God—in grave threat and danger. But then, as I linger here in my ungratefulness, my anger, my frustration, my solidarity with those whom I love I realize: they are worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for, life and love are worth fighting for. And, for that I am very, very, very grateful.