Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Obama? NO! Activism? YES!

I made the provocative suggestion yesterday that antiwar people should withhold their vote instead of supporting Barack Obama -- resisting "Barackmail" -- and instead put their time and energy into activism.

For myself, once I recognized that no one else -- not Obama, not anyone -- was going to be the simple answer to reversing U.S. war, militarism, violence, and human rights violations, it opened whole new doors to activism.

Occupy Palm Sunday! 2012 in Logan Square, Chicago

One place I've focused my activism is my church community. Last fall, at the time of the Afghanistan invasion anniversary, I posed the question, "Where is the Church?" In the weeks and months that followed, I realized that I, myself, had to be part of the solution of giving direction to the Church.

Below are posts about some of the activities that we've done in our church community at St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square (Chicago) to try to take on questions of war and peace, and to explore the ways of nonviolence and justice.

SCREENING: "The Response"
As we approached the 10th anniversary of the use of Guantanamo for indefinite detention of suspects in the “war on terror,” we screened and discussed this film about the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) at Guantanamo. The screening gave us a chance to talk about the issues, the film itself, and the upcoming efforts by Amnesty International and a coalition of a dozen other organizations to reform U.S. detention practices.

ceasefire: "violence interrupters"

SCREENING: "The Interrupters"
At the end of March, we did a screening and discussion of this film about the program being undertaken in Chicago and elsewhere by Ceasefire to "interrupt" incidents of neighborhood violence. We were joined by Eddie Bocanegra, one of the Ceasefire “interrupters” featured in the film. Eddie now works with the Community Renewal Society, and he was joined by Kristin Holm to talk about some of the CRS initiatives in which St. Luke’s is participating (see below). In addition, Raul Echevarria and Darrell Johnson from ALSO joined us to talk about specific programs in the Logan Square & Humboldt Park areas.

Members of St. Luke's and other congregations from across Logan Square and Humboldt Park processed from their respective houses of worship to the Logan Square monument at the end of services on April 1 to Occupy Palm Sunday! We sang and chanted songs of protest and praise as they occupied the green space at Kedzie, Milwaukee and Logan Boulevard. We held a series of teach-ins on topics reflecting the real needs of our neighbors in Logan Square and the ministries of our congregations, including healthcare, housing, hunger and immigration.

Berlin: Gedächtniskirche

ADULT EDUCATION: "NATO: A Mighty Fortress is Our God?"
With NATO about to come to Chicago for its summit, we did a 4-week study program. It was our hope that, through our shared community, we could all attain a greatly expanded understanding of the significance of NATO, of our own responsibility for addressing the growing militarism in the world, and for coming up with ways that conflicts can be resolved without violence. We also hoped, through our example, to engage in conversation with other congregations in our neighborhood and throughout Chicago — and, in fact, everywhere! — about these issues and how faith communities can take them up.

SCREENING: "Bonhoeffer"
On May 6, we looked at the experience of the WWII-era Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazi regime for his acts of resistance. We screened and discussed Martin Doblmeier’s film “Bonhoeffer”. Our guests for the discussion included people knowledgeable about modern-day resisters against militarism, such as Bradley Manning.

ART EXHIBIT: "Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan"
St. Luke’s is fortunate to be exhibiting a selection of reproductions from a special lending exhibition of the Windows and Mirrors project -- an art collection and traveling exhibition consisting of 45 murals created by artists from all over the world who have tried to capture the experience of the war in Afghanistan and to make it visible to people everywhere. The collection is a project of the American Friends Service Committee.

Celebration of Resistance
Evening of Arts to Resist NATO

 PERFORMANCE: International Voices for Humanity and the Planet
On Friday, May 18, St. Luke's hosted an event sponsored by World Can’t Wait: an evening of arts and music entitled, “International Voices for Humanity & the Planet: Unite! Inspire! Resist! An Evening of Arts to Oppose NATO.” Singer/songwriter David Rovics headlined an evening of story, poetry, inspiration, resistance to US/NATO war crimes – and the evening included a special acoustic set by OUTERNATIONAL!

This year Ascension Sunday coincided with the NATO Summit in Chicago. On this day, we addressed ourselves to the challenge of “taking our faith public” and lifting up peace. On May 20, we held a joint open-air worship service with area congregations, after which some members of our congregations followed the cross out at the end of worship to proclaim a message about peace during the protests at the NATO summit in downtown Chicago.

That's how we've been working to tackle these questions in Logan Square, Chicago. What conversations are you having where YOU live?

Related posts

In the tallgrass prairie native to Chicago, there are certain flowers that are very pretty but if you try to cut them down, they just come back ten times as strong.

(See Never Try to Silence a Tuesdayista )

Saturday, October 8, 2011 (or thereabouts) ... when people are together with others, protesting the war. Now is the time we must: Get people to make a commitment! What are they going to do to make a difference in this problem? What time will they commit? What promise will they make to themselves that will make sure they don't fail to contribute to the solution of this problem?

(See The hour is approaching: Make a commitment! )

Grassroots "No Drones" campaigns are happening across the country, and soon there will be one in every state. Get active with the people working to stop drone killings and drone surveillance in your area today!

(See No Drones Groups Nationwide - State by State List on the No Drones Network website)

I've realized that when we ask ourselves, "What is it that we hope people will do?" we must include an element of recursivity: One of the things we want people to do is to involve more people in doing it. In a way, that element of recursivity -- dare I say "evangelism"? -- defines what it means for people to really become part of a movement.

(See Invite More People into Activism! (Pass It Along!) )