Monday, October 31, 2016

An All Hallow's Eve Reflection

Writes Deborah Oak Cooper . . .

The dead from many ages swirl around us. They come to delight in our living bodies, to hear the music of our heartbeats, to remind us how precious that sound is; how they miss it; how fleeting life is. Rejoice, they say. Every moment is a treasure and a responsibility. Everything we do in life, every step we take, we can impact what comes after us. Tonight, as we dance, decide if you want to do the work that could ensure that someday your name will be called and that you will come to dance with the living. What steps can you take to help ensure that this dance of life and death will continue? That sometime in the future the children of our children will call our names and dance with us the double spiral of life and death on this wondrous green planet earth.

The dead swirl among us, reminding us how wondrous this world is, how sacred the earth is. Life is sacred. The dead know that in their bones.

Feel the blood, the precious blood, coursing through your bodies. Rejoice in it. It is sacred.

Know that you dance tonight with the dead, to remember how sacred the life-force is and to renew your pledge (or make it for the first time) to protect it, to protect the living body of our Mother Earth, and to take delight in her, to not only fight for clean water, clean air, and preservation of the wild places, but to relish and to delight in them, to breathe them in, and to delight in our life, to delight in our senses.

The dead exist to remind us that life is sweet – oh, so sweet. Savor it. It is also oh so short.

This is what the dead come to remind us.

Feel them around us everywhere tonight. So many dead; so many ancestors from so many different lands and cultures. They come to dance with us and to dance together, to make magic, to make change. Magic that will help us renew this sweet green earth and the beauty of the wild. Magic that will open hearts and senses with each dancing step.

So come now. It is time to dance with the dead and with the living, to work our magic so that this dance will continue, so that life will thrive on this green planet. And as you dance, feel the power build above you and below you, increasing power and magic in both worlds. Feel the power as we dance the double spiral which is our own genetic code, the symbol of this glorious cycle of life and death.

– Deborah Oak Cooper
Excerpted from "Samhain Journey Meditation"
in The Pagan Book of Living and Dying
by Starhawk, et al (Eds.)
pp. 89-90

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Halloween Thoughts
All You Holy Men and Women
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints and Souls Day Reflection
A Hallowtide Reflection
"Call Upon Those You Love"
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Magician Among the Spirits
An All Souls Day Reflection
There is a Ghost . . .
The Signalman – A Ghost Story by Charles Dickens
Prayer of the Week – August 3, 2015
Prayer of the Week – July 28, 2013
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012
A Kind of Dancing Divinity
Remembering and Honoring Dorothy Olinger
Divine Connection
The Source is Within You
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All

Image: Artist unknown.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock

On Friday, October 27, 2016, I joined with well over 1000 others at Minneapolis City Hall. We gathered to stand in prayer and solidarity with the hundreds of native people at Standing Rock, North Dakota who are protecting the waters of the Missouri River and the surrounding land from the construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline. We also gathered to voice our opposition to the deployment of about 30 Hennepin County sheriff’s personnel to Standing Rock.

Following is an excerpt from Beatrice Dupuy's Star Tribune article on Friday's rally.

Local American Indian leaders, state representatives and members of the faith community [where among those gathered in a show of solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock] in front of the entrance to City Hall near the Metro Transit light-rail station. The four-state, thousand-mile pipeline is being built by a Texas company [Energy Transfer Partners] to carry North Dakota crude to a shipping point in Illinois, prompting protests led by members of the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., called on Minnesota protesters to lift their voices amid the blaring of the train horns warning them to stand back from the lines.

“The world is watching what you are doing,” he said.

Local American Indian leaders asked protesters to fill out a ballot containing the question, “Do you want a sheriff who protects corporate interests while abusing people who are defending our water?” Sheriff’s Office personnel collected the ballots from protesters in front of Sheriff Richard Stanek’s office.

Demonstrators held signs reading “No DAPL” and demanded that Hennepin County withdraw its deputies from North Dakota. State Rep. Karen Clark, D-Minn., read a letter to Stanek asking that deputies be brought home.

Terry Fiddler of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe also spoke, saying social media has drawn a lot of attention to the Standing Rock protest and led to an awakening of concern about water and treaty rights.

“The police department is paid by our taxes,” he said. “Yet they are fighting for the big corporations, not for their people.”

After marching around the corner, the protesters filed inside City Hall. At one point, they lined all three stories of the City Hall’s lobby.

Following are more of my photographs from Friday's rally accompanied by excerpts from a number of commentaries and articles about the ongoing situation at Standing Rock.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is leading the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have been joined by the largest tribal coalition in over 100 years in their stand against the pipeline. The coalition is also comprised of activists, allies, and environmentalists, collectively known as “water protectors,” at the Sacred Stone Camp, an encampment close to the location where the pipeline is planned to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota. According to the Sacred Stone camp website, they are opposing the pipeline because “[t]he Dakota Access threatens everything from farming and drinking water to entire ecosystems, wildlife and food sources surrounding the Missouri.”

The Standing Rock Sioux also say the pipeline is violating treaty land, Sioux territory that was established many years ago by the federal government. “We will not allow Dakota Access to trespass on our treaty territory and destroy our medicines and our culture.”

The opposition to the pipeline spreads across several states and is not opposed solely by Native Americans. Farmers, ranchers, and landowners are also opposed to the pipeline. Many of them have had their land taken from them against their will and given to the pipeline via eminent domain.

Nick Bernabe
Excerpted from "5 Things to Know About
the Dakota Access Protests
The Anti-Media
October 27, 2016

It is crucial that people recognize that Standing Rock is part of an ongoing struggle against colonial violence. #NoDAPL is a front of struggle in a long-erased war against Native peoples — a war that has been active since first contact, and waged without interruption. Our efforts to survive the conditions of this anti-Native society have gone largely unnoticed because white supremacy is the law of the land, and because we, as Native people, have been pushed beyond the limits of public consciousness.

The fact that we are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other group speaks to the fact that Native erasure is ubiquitous, both culturally and literally, but pushed from public view. Our struggles intersect with numerous others, but are perpetrated with different motives and intentions. Anti-Blackness, for example, is a performative enforcement of structural power, whereas the violence against us is a matter of pragmatism. The struggle at Standing Rock is an effort to prevent the construction of a deadly, destructive mechanism, created by greed-driven people with no regard for our lives. It has always been this way. We die, and have died, for the sake of expansion and white wealth, and for the maintenance of both.

The harms committed against us have long been relegated to the history books. This erasure has occurred for the sake of both white supremacy and US mythology, such as American exceptionalism. It has also been perpetuated to sustain the comfort of those who benefit from harms committed against us. Our struggles have been kept both out of sight and out of mind — easily forgotten by those who aren’t directly impacted.

It should be clear to everyone that we are not simply here in those rare moments when others bear witness.

Kelly Hayes
Excerpted from "How To Talk About #NoDAPL: A Native Perspective"
Transformative Spaces
October 27, 2016

Every preposterous and painful image from North Dakota is another reminder of injustice: The massive military-style police occupation of Standing Rock treaty lands, the rush to protect the frantic construction schedule for the Dakota Access pipeline, and the brutal law enforcement march against people who are fighting for the simple idea that water is life.

. . . Since the beginning of the Standing Rock crisis there has been a call for President Obama to get involved. After all, there is a clear federal issue: The Oceti Sakowin Camp is on treaty land now claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

And President Obama has a direct emotional connection with this tribe and this place:

“I know that throughout history, the United States often didn’t give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved. So I promised when I ran to be a president who’d change that, a president who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty, and upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership, in mutual respect, to give our children the future that they deserve.”

How could he have done that? Mutual respect could have, should have, started with a federal presence that made talking more important than acting. The action at Standing Rock is not over. But the federal government’s absence is not productive.

Indeed, if you listen to any politician, Democrat or Republican, you’ll hear them talk about respect for the treaties. Of course. The Constitution says treaties “shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The word “shall” is like a commandment. But if that’s true, then how does any treaty tribe have less land than what’s in the document? Legally, morally, a treaty trumps a congressional act or an executive order. A treaty claim to the land is not preposterous.

If the United States lived up to its own ideals, there would be no stolen water, land, and dams on the Missouri River, and the Army Corps of Engineers would have a long history of real negotiation with the tribes instead of a pretend consultation.

Then every tribe in the country has its own Standing Rock story.

Mark Trahant
Excerpted from "The Injustice at Standing Rock Is an American Story"
Yes! Magazine
October 28, 2016

The Native Americans who have spent the last months in peaceful protest against an oil pipeline along the banks of the Missouri are standing up for tribal rights. They’re also standing up for clean water, environmental justice and a working climate. And it’s time that everyone else joined in.

The shocking images of the National Guard destroying tepees and sweat lodges and arresting elders this week remind us that the battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the longest-running drama in American history — the United States Army versus Native Americans. In the past, it’s almost always ended horribly, and nothing we can do now will erase a history of massacres, stolen land and broken treaties. But this time, it can end differently.

Those heroes on the Standing Rock reservation, sometimes on horseback, have peacefully stood up to police dogs, pepper spray and the bizarre-looking militarized tanks and SWAT teams that are the stuff of modern policing. (Modern and old-fashioned both: The pictures of German shepherds attacking are all too reminiscent of photos from, say, Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.)

The courage of those protesters managed to move the White House enough that the government called a temporary halt to construction. But the forces that want it finished — Big Oil, and its allies in parts of the labor movement — are strong enough that the respite may be temporary.

In coming weeks, activists will respond to calls from the leaders at Standing Rock by gathering at the offices of banks funding the pipeline, and at the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, for protest and civil disobedience. Two dozen big banks have lent money to the pipeline project, even though many of them have also adopted elaborate environmental codes. As for the Corps, that’s the agency that helped “expedite” the approval of the pipeline — and must still grant the final few permits.

Bill McKibben
Excerpted from "Why Dakota Is the New Keystone"
The New York Times
October 28, 2016

There is an epic clash of two cultures — one with a guiding ethic of harmony between people and nature, the other driven by an ethos that encourages the exploitation of both. Yet, for months, our clueless media gave this match-up little coverage.

For the face-off is between Energy Transfer Partners, one of the world's largest pipeline corporations, and the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Tribe. It's not merely big news, but the panoramic story of America itself. It's a real reality show — a cultural, political and moral drama featuring raw greed, grassroots courage, class war, ancient rites, human rights, defenders of the common good, the most nefarious Texas oilman since J. R. Ewing, a historic gathering of Native tribes and a Bull-Connor-style sheriff — all on location near a North Dakota town named Cannon Ball!

Jim Hightower
Excerpted from "The Cannon Ball Saga,
An Epic Story From the American Heartland
Common Dreams
October 26, 2016

There are at least two grounds for demanding a full environmental review of this pipeline, instead of the fast-track approvals it has received so far. The first is the obvious environmental racism of the whole project.

Originally, the pipeline was supposed to cross the Missouri just north of Bismarck, until people pointed out that a leak there would threaten the drinking water supply for North Dakota’s second biggest city. [NOTE: For's analysis of this claim, click here.] The solution, in keeping with American history, was obvious: make the crossing instead just above the Standing Rock reservation, where the poverty rate is nearly three times the national average. This has been like watching the start of another Flint, Mich., except with a chance to stop it.

The second is that this is precisely the kind of project that climate science tells us can no longer be tolerated.

Bill McKibben
Excerpted from "Why Dakota Is the New Keystone"
The New York Times
October 28, 2016

The fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline is also over issues beyond saving tribal burial grounds from the bulldozer or protecting reservation rights to clean water from the Missouri River. White farmers and other landowners also have opposed the project along its route from the Bakken formation in North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, though with little success and less coverage so far.

There were 18 arrests on Saturday in Boone County, bringing the Iowa total to nearly 50, which doesn’t rival the tally over many weeks at the Standing Rock protests but isn’t trivial, either.

In addition to local environmental concerns, or simply wanting the pipeline routed away from their own properties, many in Iowa and elsewhere resent the four states’ grants of eminent domain to the project, which enable Energy Transfer Partners to take by legal force any easements for its pipeline that it can’t obtain by writing a check.

Eminent domain is typically reserved for the taking of private property for a public purpose, like highways and power lines. Speaking of power lines, we now come to perhaps the most far-reaching way in which the DAPL battle may change national policy – by focusing attention and ire on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to authorize the pipeline without environmental review under its Nationwide Permit 12 program, aka NWP 12.

Normally a four-state pipeline built to carry petroleum products across the landscape, like every other project with significant potential impact on the surrounding environment, would require federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The requirement is obvious and until recently it was routinely met.

But in the last several years, in a shift most commentators trace to the Obama White House, several large pipeline projects have gotten federal signoff under NWP 12, which is administered by the Corps as part of its authority to protect the nation’s surface waters and wetlands.

Ron Meador
Excerpted from "Why the Dakota Access Pipeline Fight
May Be a Turning Point in U.S. Environmental Politics
September 16, 2016

The Sioux struggle against the pipeline embraces so many other struggles in this nation. It encompasses struggles against climate catastrophe, a history of breaking treaties with Native Americans, attacks on the right to assemble, assaults on journalists, the militarization of police, and placing corporate profits over human rights.

I traveled to Standing Rock with a small group of members from Veterans For Peace (VFP). . . . While camping at Standing Rock (the official camp name is Oceti Sakowin; Standing Rock is the reservation), we were treated as family. Everyone called each other relatives, brother, sister, mother, grandmother and so on. Water, coffee, food, snacks, tents, clothes and various camping equipment were available to all without a price tag. The only request was for people to be unarmed and drug and alcohol free.

. . . We also know now that not only is water life, as the Standing Rock Sioux continue to cry out, but water is also peace. None of us can have any peace without the basic necessities of life such as clean air and water, arable land, clothing, shelter and justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice.” That’s what we were fighting for at Standing Rock, peace and justice.

Will Griffin
Excerpted from "After Two Wars, Standing Rock is
the First Time I Served the American People
Common Dreams
October 30, 2016

While media attention has focused on the massive, sometimes heated demonstrations – which include several [. . .] instances of brutality and dog attacks – there has been less attention paid to how the protest is recharging the lager climate movement, not to mention the peculiar nature of the participants. [Pua] Case, for instance, traveled quite a long way to [Standing Rock]: she is from the sunny shores of Hawaii, not rugged North Dakota, and she claims a Native Hawaiian identity, not a Native American one. And she wasn’t there just to protest; the sacredness of the land is especially important to her, so she was also there to pray.

“Standing Rock is a prayer camp,” she said. “It is where prayers are done.”

Case’s experience is shockingly common – both as a protester visiting a far-flung land to support a Native cause, and as a witness to an emerging indigenous spiritual movement that is sweeping North America.

She’s part of something bigger that is, by all accounts, the theological opposite of the aggressively Christian “awakenings” that once dominated American life in the 18th and 19th centuries, when primarily white, firebrand ministers preached a gospel of “manifest destiny” – the religious framework later used to justify the subjugation of Native Americans and their territories. The diverse constellation of Native theologies articulated at Standing Rock and other indigenous protest camps champions the reverse: they seek to protect land, water, and other natural resources from further human development, precisely because they are deemed sacred by indigenous people.

And this year, after centuries of struggle, their prayers are starting to be answered.

Jack Jenkins
Excerpted from "The Growing Indigenous Spiritual Movement
That Could Save the Planet
Think Progress
September 30, 2016

NEXT: At Standing Rock and Beyond,
Celebrating and Giving Thanks
for a "Historic Decision"

Related Off-site Links:
Pipeline Protesters Angry with Hennepin County Sheriff Pack Minneapolis City Hall – Beatrice Dupuy (Star Tribune, October 29, 2016).
15 Indigenous Women on the Frontlines of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance – Emily Arasim and Osprey Orielle Lake (EcoWatch, October 29, 2016).
Tribe Vows to Fight North Dakota Pipeline Through Winter – Josh Morgan (Reuters, October 29, 2016).
30 Powerful Photos Show Standoff Between Militarized Police and Dakota Access Pipeline Protestors – Annie Leonard (EcoWatch, October 29, 2016).
Bison Charge Across the Landscape Amid Dakota Pipeline Protests – Hilary Hanson (The Huffington Post, October 29, 2016).
Demonstrators Echo N.D. Pipeline Protest at Minneapolis City Hall – Brandt Williams (MPR News, October 28, 2016).
Police from 5 States Escalate Violence and Shoot Horses to Clear 1851 Treaty (October 28, 2016).
Why Hollywood, Environmentalists and Native Americans Have Converged on North Dakota – Steven Mufson (The Washington Post, October 28, 2016).
How Far Will North Dakota Go? The Illogical Conclusion Is Too Terrible to Think About – Mark Trahant (Indian Country Today, October 27, 2016).
Protesters oppose Hennepin County Deputies Being Sent to North Dakota Protests – Randy Furst and Mark Brunswick (Star Tribune, October 26, 2016).
Hundreds Flood Minneapolis City Hall to Demand Local Sheriff Withdraw from North DakotaUnicorn Riot (October 26, 2016).
Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse – David Marchese (New York Magazine, October 25, 2016).
How Far Will North Dakota Go to Get This Pipeline? – Mark Trahant (Yes! Magazine, October 23, 2016).
Is Standing Rock the Oil Industry's Last Stand? It's Up to Us to Make It So – Four Arrows (TruthOut, October 17, 2016).
Standing Firm at Standing Rock: Why the Struggle is Bigger Than One Pipeline – Sarah Jaffe (, September 28, 2016).
A History of Native Americans Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline – Alexander Sammon (Mother Jones, September 9, 2016).

UPDATES: Hillary Clinton Breaks DAPL Silence with Statement That Says "Literally Nothing" – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, October 28, 2016).
Dakota Access Pipeline: Native Americans Allege Cruel Treatment – Sam Levin (The Guardian, October 30, 2016).
Bernie Sanders Denounces Standing Rock Pipeline Project in Impassioned Tweetstorm – Emily Cahn (PolicyMic, November 1, 2016).
Trump and Clinton Are Both Ignoring Standing Rock, and It’s Unacceptable – Jesse Mechanic (The Huffington Post, November 1, 2016).
MN Deputies Leave Pipeline Protest – Jay Knoll (KARE 11 News, November 1, 2016).
Why Understanding Native American Spirituality is Important for Resolving the Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis – Rosalyn R. LaPier (The Conversation, November 2, 2016).
Public Servants or Corporate Security?: An Open Letter to Law Enforcement and National Guard in North Dakota – Winona LaDuke, Ann Wright and Zoltán Grossman (Common Dreams, November 2, 2016).
Standing Rock Sioux Prepare to Keep Up Pipeline Protest Through North Dakota Winter – Timothy Mclaughlin (Reuters, November 2, 2016).
The Battle Over the Dakota Access Pipeline, Explained – Brad Plumer (Vox, November 2, 2016).
Clergy from Numerous Faith Traditions Shows Solidarity with Standing Rock – Jenny Schlecht (Bismarck Tribune, November 3, 2016).
Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Over Dakota Access Pipeline Case – Doug Williams (Outdoor Revival, April 11, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Standing Together
Quote of the Day – August 19, 2016
Something to Think About – October 13, 2015
Words of Wisdom on Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Visions of Crazy Horse
Something to Think About – April 22, 2014
Threshold Musings
"Something Sacred Dwells There"
A Spirit of Defiance

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Balance: The Key to Serenity and Clarity

Balance is the key to my serenity. I attain balance by listening to my inner wisdom and to the wisdom of others. There is no situation in which I cannot find a point of balance. There is no circumstance in which I cannot find inner harmony. As I ask to be led into equilibrium and clarity, I will find that my answers come to me. I am wiser than I know, more capable of right action and attitudes than I yet believe. In every event, I seek the balance point of God's action through me.

– Julia Cameron
Excerpted from Heart Steps:
Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life

p. 20

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
Seeking Balance
Clarity, Hope and Courage
There Must Be Balance
A Discerning Balance Between Holiness and Wholeness: A Hallmark of the Resurrected Life
Unique . . . Yes, You!
The Body: As Sacred and Knowing as a Temple Oracle
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible

Images: Eduardo Fedriani and Julián Goméz photographed by Joan Crisol for the Greek clothing label Modus Vivendi. For more images, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Shaun King on White Privilege in America, 2016


Writes Shaun King:

Deny it if you want, but white privilege is a powerful thing.

After taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 41 days in an armed siege, the Bundy brothers (Ammon and Ryan) and five other co-defendants were found not guilty of all federal charges – including possession of guns in a federal facility and impeding federal employees from doing their work. It seemed like pretty much everybody in the courtroom was surprised. The men had guns and took over federal offices – where they indeed impeded federal employees from doing their work.

Imagine just for a moment that heavily-armed Black Lives Matter activists took over a federal building. It’s doubtful that such a siege would last longer than a day. By and large, unarmed, non-violent peaceful black protestors are arrested on sight when they even block the entrance to a federal building. Many are still facing charges for such simple acts of civil disobedience to this very day and they did nothing like what the Bundy clan did in Oregon.

Or imagine that an armed group of Muslim-American activists took over a federal building. I’m not talking about immigrants or people on the terrorist watch list, but just good, old fashioned American students who happened to be Muslims. Do you think they’d be allowed to continue their takeover for 41 days? Do you think they’d be acquitted at trial? Those young men would likely be taken to Gitmo. I’m not even kidding.

My argument here is not even that I want the crew who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to be in prison. I’m ambivalent toward that. My frustration, and the frustration of thousands of others, is that we all know good and well that if they were anything other than white that they would’ve likely had the book thrown at them. It’s for that very reason that you pretty much won’t see anyone other than white folk even do such a thing – it would be a suicide mission.

Do you think Donald Trump will speak out on “law and order” regarding the Bundy crew? They broke laws and disrupted order and disrespected police and federal agents, who Trump claims to love, over and over and over again. But you know, like I know, that when Trump speaks about “law and order” he is speaking in racial code for how he aims to crack down on people of color – whenever and however he can. He’s not interested in universal law and order – that would impact white folk as much as anyone – but one that targets undocumented immigrants and inner cities – and somehow pretends the Bundy brothers and their band of bandits don’t even exist.

This is America. 2016.

– Shaun King
"White Privilege Sets Oregon Militia Members Free"
New York Daily News
October 28, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
"Patriots" Acquitted in Malheur as DAPL Water Protectors Get Maced – Steve Russell (Indian Country Today, October 28, 2016).
Outcry Over Oregon Standoff Verdict: White Militants Acquitted While Native Protesters Maced and Beaten – Alan Jude Ryland (Second Nexus, October 28, 2016).
In Acquitting the Oregon Militants, a White Jury Determines That the Law Doesn’t Apply to White Protesters – Melissa Batchelor Warnke (Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2016).
Dakota Access Pipeline Protests Draw Contrasts to Bundy – Melanie Eversley (USA Today, October 29, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"This Doesn't Happen to White People"
Something to Think About – December 29, 2015
Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
Standing Together
Quote of the Day – August 19, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice

Yesterday was Criminal Justice Sunday, and to mark the significance of the day at the Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community in Minneapolis a special prayer was shared along with a powerful excerpt from the U.S. Catholic Bishops' document, "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice." I share both today at The Wild Reed.

But first let me say that in relation to the "Catholic perspective" of these texts, I understand and celebrate the word catholic not in terms of the religious tradition of Roman Catholicism but rather as the process which theologian Ilia Delio writes about in her book The Emergent Christ.

For Delio, catholic is a "dynamic process of making whole," and catholicity, at its roots, is "participation in creating greater unity through deepening relationships." Understood in this way, catholic is a descriptor of a way of being in the world rather than a label of identification with the belief system of a particular church or religious tradition. Indeed, for Delio, catholic describes the whole evolutionary universe. Accordingly, the true catholic is present and active wherever the Spirit of love "weaves the oneness of God." As someone who, more often that not, is mortified by the erroneous and divisive statements and actions of the clerical leadership of the Roman Catholic church, Delio's understanding of catholicity is incredibly liberating and life-giving. It's also an understanding and process which, whether the U.S. Catholic Bishops recognize it or not, is very much present in their 2000 statement "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration," from which the following is excerpted.

In the United States, the prison system was. in some ways, built on a moral vision of the human person and society – one that combined a spiritual rekindling with punishment and correction. But along the way, this vision has too often been lost. The evidence surrounds us: sexual and physical abuse among inmates and sometimes by corrections officers, gang violence, racial division, the absence of educational opportunities and treatment programs, the increasing use of isolation units, and society's willingness to sentence children to adult prisons—all contributing to a high rate of recidivism. Our society seems to prefer punishment to rehabilitation and retribution to restoration thereby indicating a failure to recognize prisoners as human beings.

In some ways, an approach to criminal justice that is inspired by a Catholic vision is a paradox. We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that threatens lives and violates the rights of others. We believe in responsibility, accountability, and legitimate punishment. Those who harm others or damage property must be held accountable for the hurt they have caused. The community has a right to establish and enforce laws to protect people and to advance the common good.

At the same time, a Catholic approach does not give up on those who violate these laws. We believe that both victims and offenders are children of God. Despite their very different claims on society, their lives and dignity should be protected and respected. We seek justice, not vengeance. We believe punishment must have clear purposes: protecting society and rehabilitating those who violate the law.

We believe a Catholic vision of crime and criminal justice can offer some alternatives. It recognizes that root causes and personal choices can both be factors in crime by understanding the need for responsibility on the part of the offender and an opportunity for their rehabilitation. A Catholic approach leads us to encourage models of restorative justice that seek to address crime in terms of the harm done to victims and communities, not simply as a violation of law.

As you read the above excerpt I hope you discerned how the "Catholic" approach and vision outlined by the bishops is very much about, in Ilia Delio's words, "whole-making . . . [through] greater unity through deepening relationships" – a process rooted in the Spirit of love and our participation in this Spirit as together we "weave the oneness of God."

I close with the sharing of the prayer we prayed yesterday at Spirit of St. Stephen's. It's a prayer that, like the bishops' statement, reflects the expansive, "whole-making" understanding of catholic put forward by Ilia Delio.

Prayer for Criminal Justice Reform

Liberating God,
we call upon your love to liberate us
from our many layers of imprisonment.

Systemic racism holds us captive
while fear, addiction, complacency
and despair constrain us.

We remember especially sisters and brothers
bound by prison walls; we remember the anguish
of their victims. We do not understand so many things;
structures of sentencing, a disproportionate number
of inmates of color, the suffering of their children
in now single-parent families, our collective fear
of released prisoners as illustrated by their
inability to find housing, jobs, respect,
or a second chance.

We ask, Compassionate One,
for the wisdom of compassion
and the humility of forgiveness.
In the healing liberation of your love
we pray: free us from fear;
free us to action,
free us from revenge;
free us to reconciliation.

We make this prayer in the name of Brother Jesus,
that, like him, we may become instruments of peace,
healing, and true freedom for each sister & brother
created in Your image.


Related Off-site Links:
Fourteen Examples of Racism in the Criminal Justice System – Bill Quigley (The Huffington Post,July 26, 2010).
Our Prison System is Even More Racist Than You Think – Aron Macarow (Attn:, August 31, 2015).
Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline – Artika R. Tyner (The Huffington Post, January 24, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – December 29, 2015
In the Garden of Spirituality – Ilia Delio

Image: Subjects and photographer unknown.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


The following words of author and poet Julia Cameron are particularly meaningful to me at this time, for reasons which I'll share in a later post. Perhaps these words will resonate with you too, and where you're at on your journey.

All beginning is an ending. I both celebrate and grieve. As I choose to start anew, I choose to believe in my own resilience. I choose to trust the generosity of life. Calling upon Spirit to supply me, I encounter fulfillment of my needs. Spirit has abundant supply for my heart's desires. It is the pleasure of Spirit to give. It is my gift back to Spirit to accept. In an antique shop, I find a crystal globe, an antique map that speaks to me of a world lit only by firelight. On a beach, I find the fragile shell washed to me from warmer climes. The falling leaf, vivid and transitory, reminds me of life's cyclicality. A friend's dog licks my hand. I accept the generosity of Spirit. I allow my life to be made anew.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Onward Call
Unique . . . Yes, You!
The Body: As Sacred and Knowing as a Temple Oracle
Threshold Musings
Seeking Balance
May Balance and Harmony Be Your Aim
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
Clarity, Hope and Courage
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
For 2015, Three "Generous Promises"
A Guidepost on the Journey
Turning 50
Be Just in My Heart
All 'Round Me Burdens Seem to Fall
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

An Autumn Afternoon at Minnehaha Falls

I spent much of this afternoon with my friend Kyle at Minnehaha Falls in south Minneapolis. We followed Minnehaha Creek from the Falls to the place where it flows into the Mississippi River. It was almost a year ago when, with my friend PJ, I made the same trek from the Falls to the River.

Today's trek took place under an overcast sky. It was nevertheless a beautiful autumn afternoon, as I hope the images I share this evening show.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
From the Falls to the River
Autumn Beauty
Autumn Leaves
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
An Autumn Walk Along Minnehaha Creek
Autumn Dance

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Quote of the Day

A month to go [until the U.S. presidential election] and I find myself skewered with something bigger than frustration. It begins with the false, dead enthusiasm I hear in Hillary’s attempts to rally her base, the tepid “USA! USA!” she invokes as she praises America’s generals and its wars and its moral righteousness. She and Trump are running for president on the same illusion, and there’s something seriously wrong with this.

It’s no accident that most of the focus this election season is on how bad the other candidate is. The rallying cry from both sides is: We have no choice. And I agree with those words, but attach a different meaning to them. We have no choice because we’re given no choice. We live in a permanent state of Democracy for Dummies: a complexity-free democracy, reduced to a game of winning and losing. The voters are spectators, not co-creators of the national future. No, the future is already predetermined, and it’s one of unquestioned military budgets and endless war.

Robert C. Koehler
Excerpted from "The Politics of Fear"
Common Dreams
October 6, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
Outside RNC Headquarters, Millennials Declare: "It's Trump vs. All of Us" – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, October 6, 2016).
I Don’t Like Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party. I’m Voting for Them Anyway – Annabel Park (The Washington Post, October 6, 2016).
As Trump Brags About Tax Avoidance, New Sanders Bill Aims to Fix Rigged System – Andrea Germanos (Common Dreams, October 5, 2016).

Sex, Lies and America’s Deplorable Democracy – Peter Bloom (Common Dreams, October 9, 2016).
Wikileaks E-mails Reveal Hillary Clinton's Presidential Strategy Which Included "Elevating" Trump in GOP – Tara West (, October 9, 2016).
Leaked E-mails Show That Trump Was a Tool Used By the Clinton Campaign From Day One – Brandon Morse (, October 9, 2016).
Both Campaigns Enthusiastically Violate Ban on Super PAC Coordination, Watchdog Says – Jon Schwarz (The Intercept, October 7, 2016).
Needed Now: A Peace Movement Against the Clinton Wars to Come – Andrew Levine (CounterPunch, October 7, 2016).
Trump May Go Away, But the People He Has Empowered Will Not – Jeremy Scahill (The Intercept, October 9, 2016).
At Second Debate, a Monster Calls – Michael Winship (Common Dreams, October 11, 2016).
In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots – Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept, October 11, 2016).
Planned Attacks on Sanders Included in WikiLeaks' Third Batch of Podesta E-mails – Nika Knight (Common Dreams, October 11, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – September 15, 2016

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Out and About – Summer 2016

Well, autumn is here in all its unique beauty which means it's high time to review the summer just passed with the latest installment of my "Out and About" series.

Regular readers of The Wild Reed will be familiar with this series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the world.

I've continued the series in one form or another every year since – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 . . . and now into 2016.

So let's get started with this latest installment . . .

A real highlight of this past summer was seeing and meeting one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie. I was actually fortunate enough to see her twice in concert – in Minneapolis on August 26 and in Bayfield, Wisconsin on August 27.

In the image above I'm pictured with Buffy and drummer Michel Lee Bruyere. At left, Buffy is pictured on stage with guitarist Anthony King.

For images and commentary on both these performances, see the special Wild Reed post, A Music Legend Visits the North Country


Another highlight, though a somber one to be sure, was my participation in the July 7 vigil and march remembering and honoring the life of Philando Castile, a young black man lethally shot by a police officer on July 6. Philando's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, videoed the aftermath of the shooting and live-streamed it on Facebook. Reynold's young daughter was in the back seat of the vehicle throughout the ordeal.

Castile's death came just days after the police shooting death of another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and was at the time the latest in a long list of black lives violently taken by law enforcement in the U.S.

For more images and commentary on the vigil and march for Philando Castile, click here.

Above: Bde Maka Ska ("White Earth" Lake), also known as Lake Calhoun, as viewed from the apartment of my good friend Raul (pictured at left wearing my Akubra Territory hat!). I've long maintained that Raul has one of the best views in Minneapolis.

For more images of Bde Maka Ska, click here, here, and here.

Above: Brent and I on the rooftop of Raul's apartment building in Uptown, Minneapolis – June 2016.

Right: A rain storm sweeping in from the west over Bde Maka Ska.

Above: With Brent and our friend Pete at the Twin Cities Gay Pride festival in Minneapolis' Loring Park – June 25, 2016.

For The Wild Reed's 2016 Queer Appreciation post, "I Will Dance," click here.

For a collection of images of LGBTQ Pride celebrations from around the world, see the special Wild Reed post, Worldwide Gay Pride – 2016.

Above: Friends Matt, Joan, and Karla – July 2016.

Left: With Brent – July 2016.

Above: Friends John, Brent, Fred, Carmen, Mark, Phil, Madeline, Noelle, and Ben – July 2016.

Above: Pictured center (wearing what I call my Cernunnos t-shirt) with friends (from left) Rick, Bob, Adrian, Brian, and John – August 2016.

Above: Breakfasting with my friend Pete at Eggy's Diner in Minneapolis – June 2016.

Right: With Pete and my friend and work colleague Julia at Our Kitchen – September 2016.

Above: With my friend Pete's nephew and niece – August 2016.

Above: On the shores of Pelican Lake, Minnesota – July 14, 2016.

I drove to Pelican Lake from the Twin Cities to spent the weekend with my good friend Angie and her family at their summer get-away spot. It was a wonderful few days away from the Cities, and great to catch up with Angie and her family.

For more images and commentary, click here.

Above: Hamming it up with Angie's and her husband Bryon's three daughters – July 16, 2016.

Above: Lake Harriet, Minneapolis – August 2016.

Above: Amelia!

Left: Summer blooms.

For more images, click here, here, here, and here.

Above: Eddie, who's clearly not in the least bit interested in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, also known as the 2016 Summer Olympics! Perhaps he'd read Sonali Kolhatkar's critique of the Games.

Above and left: More summer beauty.

Above: My friend Kyle snapped this photo of me when we took a breather in our walk from my place to the Tiny Diner in south Minneapolis.

Right: One of my favorite flowers, the sunflower. I take after my maternal grandfather, Valentine Sparkes, in this regard.

Above: My friend Kyle, pictured by the placid waters of Lake Harriet – August 2016.

Above: Friends Tom and Darlene White, Kathleen Olsen, and Brigid McDonald, CSJ – August 2016.

Above: Celebrating my friend Omar's birthday. From left: Kyle, me, Brent, and Omar.

Left: Happy Birthday, Omar!

Right: With Brent at the Eagle/Bolt Bar – September 16, 2016. Whenever I wear this particular t-shirt out to a bar or restaurant, I joke that I'll buy a drink for the first person who says, Hey, it's Buffy! . . . or something like that. To date, no one has.

Above: Wild (summer) reeds – Pelican Lake, July 16, 2016.

Summer 2016 Wild Reed posts of note:
Summer Boy
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)
Progressive Perspectives on Islam and Homosexuality in the Aftermath of Orlando
"I Will Dance"
Australian Sojourn – May 2016
With "Around," Russell Elliot Tells It Like It Is
Gay Pride: A Catholic Perspective
You, O Comforter, Are Ever Near
"This Doesn't Happen to White People"
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2016
Pelican Lake
Carrying It On
"There's Light in Love, You See"
The Impossible Desire of Pier Paolo Pasolini
"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
Standing Together
A Music Legend Visits the North Country
An Evening at the Fair
Late Summer Blooms
A Letter to "Dear Abby" re. Responding to 9/11

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Spring 2016
Out and About – Winter 2015-2016
Out and About – Autumn 2015
Out and About – Summer 2015 (Part I)
Out and About – Summer 2015 (Part II)