“White Civil Rights”? … I Just Can’t!

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Several years ago, an acquaintance shared with me that a group of middle-aged white men that he gathers with for Bible study at his church believe “white is the new black.”

I asked what that meant. He shared that they believe they are being discriminated against. I asked him why they thought that way. He said “well it’s no longer popular to be a white man.”

I asked “do you believe that white men are actually discriminated against”? He never answered the direct question, but said “well, they might have a point.”

We were interrupted and never finished the conversation.

I was reminded of his statement several days ago, when I heard that the National Park Service had given initial approval to the request of Jason Kessler to hold a “white civil rights rally” across the street from the White House in August – on the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., which drew hundreds of white nationalists and supporters.

Kessler was one of the organizers of the Virginia rally, during which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when run over by a car driven by a self-described neo-Nazi; 20-year-old DeAndre Harris was brutally beaten with a metal pipe and wooden boards by white supremacists; and a self-described KKK leader fired a shot toward a counter-protester.

The Virginia rally was organized to protest cities taking down Confederate statues. Kessler reportedly told a CBS affiliate in Washington that the purpose of this year’s rally is “to talk about the civil rights abuse that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.” (Note: a permit has not been issued by the National Park Service for the rally being planned for August 11 and 12 in the nation’s capital).

I’m confused. Is “white civil rights” a thing? Are white people, in general – or white men, specifically – oppressed?

The last time I checked, white people (particularly white men) were not on the losing end when it comes to the persistent racial disparities in education, health, employment, and wealth in this country. Where is the system that puts white people at a disadvantage when it comes to race?

I’m not saying white people don’t experience prejudice – they do. But they do not experience unfair treatment as a social group based on that prejudice (discrimination); and they don’t experience discrimination backed by institutional power (oppression); and they certainly don’t experience oppression in which another racial group dominates them (racism).

There are so many statistics/facts that speak to this: the May 2018 black unemployment rate is nearly double that of the white unemployment rate; whites have significantly higher rates of wealth than blacks and the wealth gap continues to widen; black students are more underrepresented at top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago; blacks receive sentences that are 20 percent longer than those for whites who commit the same crime; whites make up 80 percent of Congress and nearly 90 percent of federal judgeships; mortality rates for white infants are at least 50 percent lower than for black infants.

I could go on. Instead, I yield to ask someone to help me understand the preposterous notion of the oppression of white America.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Finding God in the Prayer of Music

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Not long ago, I read an article that reminded me of how the arts, such as poetry, writing, dancing or music often allow us to experience God in different and profound ways.  The article started me thinking about how music has always been a way that helps me more deeply experience the presence of God.  I have many memories of being in the parish where I grew up, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia and feeling deeply connected to God as our gospel choir ministered to the congregation.   Many times I recall myself and others meditating, standing, clapping or lifting our hands during a song being sung by the choir.

Gospel music deepens my experience of the Divine, but other Christian music also speaks to my spirit. One such song that seems to always move my spirit is “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  No matter when I hear it, there is a sense of reverence and divine connection that stirs within. One would think that you could not forget those things that enhance your relationship with God.  But during my most recent retreat, I was reminded that in the busyness of life, I had unintentionally lost sight of something that is a special part of my relationship with God—prayer through music.

As I began my retreat, I realized my words of prayers seemed routine. I found myself asking, “Where are you, O Holy One?”  Perhaps your spirit has never been in such a place and perhaps you have never asked such questions. But I was in such a place, where my words of prayer seemed to hang in the air, “stuck” between heaven and earth, when the thought of “praying with music” suddenly occurred to me. It was not a new idea for me, I simply had not thought of it for a while. So I gathered my headphones and cell phone and headed outside to a beautiful quiet spot and proceeded to listen to one of my favorites, “Holy Now.” As I listened to the song, it felt as if a floodgate had opened within and that God and I were, once again, “in sync.”   All of us have experienced times of deep connection with God.  For me, this was one of those special times of connection.

On my last full day of the retreat, I was quietly reflecting on all that had happened during the retreat, when suddenly a flash of red startled me as it flew across my line of vision and disappeared in a tree. Excited, I was hoping the red bird would come back—a little slower next time—so that I could really see him. Well, guess what, that red bird flew low across my line of vision three times before he finally went on his way. As I sat there thinking how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time, I recalled four of my favorite lines in the song, “Holy Now.”

This morning outside I stood,
Saw a little red wing bird
Shining like a burning bush
and singing like a scripture verse…

The experience became a confirmation for me of God’s presence during the retreat and reminded me of the deep prayer connection with God that sometimes happens for me through music.

What about you?  Do you have a unique way of prayer that deepens your experience of prayer and listening to God? As you ponder these questions later, perhaps you might wish to enjoy the “Holy Now” Youtube video using this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiypaURysz4

Is God possibly asking you to consider “more” for your life, perhaps as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  Explore the possibility at our next Come and See weekend on September 7-9, 2018 in St. Catharine, KY.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Dominican Sisters of Peace host weekend for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Members of the Butterfly Group

Many people who want to make a major life change will join a support group. Whether it’s Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, or couples counseling, the group dynamic – being with people who face the same issues – can make that change more successful.

Here in Columbus, women who have completed the two-year program at CATCH  (Changing Actions To Change Habits) Court, a therapeutic justice program for trafficked women, often find themselves without that important moral support and group accountability. So to help those women continue their recovery, the Butterfly Group was born.

The women in the Butterfly Group meet twice a month. One meeting focuses on topics that promote their personal/spiritual growth. The other meeting is for socialization, fun and bonding.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace were honored to host the Butterfly Group, all women survivors of human trafficking,

Sister Nadine Buchanan and April Thacker.

for a weekend of support, healing, and pampering earlier in June.

The women met on Saturday, June 2, at the Martin de Porres Center, an outreach of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Outreach Center, and

spent the night enjoying a grown-up slumber party in a dorm at Ohio Dominican University. The event was organized by Sister Nadine Buchanan, OP, and April Thacker, a local woman who is a survivor of human trafficking.

The women who attended this event were treated to a day of pampering, including manicures, pedicures, facials, and hair styling, along with a picnic lunch. They also had a chance to express themselves through art projects, games and storytelling. Sisters from the Congregation joined the women, and many new friendships were created. Movies and catered Mexican food rounded out the first day of the weekend event.

Sunday began with breakfast, followed by a Healing Circle and Blessings lead by Sister Louis Mary Passeri, OP.

Women from the Butterfly Group enjoy their weekend at the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Sister Louis Mary reflected on healing, and on letting go of the past to create a better future. This concept was made real for each woman when Sister Louis Mary asked them to write something they wanted to leave behind on soluble paper and then stir it away in a bowl of water. This ceremony was very powerful for all of the women involved.

Each woman left refreshed and renewed, and with gifts from the Dominican Sisters of Peace. They left gifts as well – gifts of grace and love for the Sisters who walked beside them on this special weekend.

 

 

 

Posted in News

All for the Wall

Sr. Doris Reagan served in a ministry to the people of Honduras for 18 years.

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. On June 17, the New York Times featured a front-page picture of a little girl in red clothes at the border. She was crying as her mother was being patted down by a border agent. They were from Honduras as are so many others. Similar pictures have appeared each day and have touched the hearts (and souls) of many – myself in particular – because they represent the hundreds of children and families I knew and loved in Honduras during my 18 years in that country.

We are hearing of more than 2000 children separated from their mothers. We question the misuse of selective Biblical quotes used as justification for “zero tolerance” policies. We can’t believe it.

We notice once again that no one is asking why these families make their way to the border through the desert, the rivers, and all the other dangers. They know full well what may await them but they are desperate. Honduras, for example, is a military government (and considered as dangerous as the gangs that rule its cities).

We question why the voices of Congressional men and women do not shout out, why the wives of Congressional members do not speak out

Our President wants a “physical wall” at all costs. We fear that the cost of “the wall” will be the excuse to do nothing about the children.

Law is meant as a protection for the common good – Jesus’ law is about the love of enemies as the readings of this week tell us. How we see the “other” determines how we act.  We exist in relation to one another as God’s children. That seems to be a foreign language to this administration.

Those who espouse “zero tolerance” are really afraid. So let us not be afraid: to speak out, to love, to be who we really are: preachers of the truth, preachers of love and members of God’s family.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Belonging Even If It Only Lasts a Week

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

If you asked me how I spent my summer vacation, I would talk about it for an hour nonstop. But I’m sure you could use that hour on something else.

As most of you know I have been an aspiring potter for over 20 years and have gained a certain expertise and quality to my work. In order to learn more technique and have the chance to talk to other potters, I spent a week at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN.  It is an exceptionally good school and students come from all over the USA to attend.

To say I learned a lot would be an understatement, I think, and I hope the experience will change the direction of my work, the look and feel of what I make.  Stay tuned.

But just as important, perhaps more importantly, I came away with a deeper appreciation for the nature of community and a sense of belonging to something larger than myself, larger than my own work. Spending a week with other potters and other art makers expanded my sense of forming community, even for a short time to explore a common language and passion for making art. Folks there knew what I meant when I said that I fire in a cone 6 oxidation and that I wanted to learn how to dart and alter my work.  They got it, and I got them when they talked about underglazes, clay’s joys, its frustrations, risks, and rewards.

The point is that we all belong to something, someone, and someplace. Belonging is a complex but basic human need and desire. Belonging to someone or something gives us a place in the world. Belonging is a desire to be one with another, to bond, to bear one another’s burdens and share each other’s joys. It is shared meaning, shared language, and shared hope. It is crossing a boundary and finding a home.

Belonging is a fundamental human need and emotion, and in our present climate, belonging needs to extend to everyone, especially those who are different from ourselves. Belonging invites welcome, it is founded on acceptance. Belonging is rooted in the Gospel invitation of Jesus to make our home in Him. When we celebrate this gift, this invitation to make our home in God, then everyone belongs.

During the weeklong class the instructor, Kristen Kieffer, was a superb teacher eager to share her knowledge and experience. The other students, all accomplished in one form or another shared their experiences and yes, their failures. I found two friends Kelly and Carol, who shared the table with me for meals and we laughed about eating too much dessert and the sometimes quirky and unpredictable nature of clay.

The workshop ended with a show and tell of our own work that gave everyone an appreciation of each other’s way with clay. When I left Arrowmont, I felt like I belonged, not just for a week’s vacation/workshop, but to a beautiful community of art makers who readily shared what they have and who readily receive what I have to offer. Even if just for a week, potters form a community where everyone belongs. Differences are celebrated, failures are acknowledged and beauty feeds the soul.

Could it be that art will heal the world? Yes, I think so, at least a part of it.

Posted in Weekly Word