News at Plymouth

A Conversation with the Congregation

Please join the Deacons on Sunday, February 21, at 11:30 a.m. for a “Conversation with the Congregation” to hear what we’re working on and to solicit your thoughts on what Plymouth Church should be doing in the coming months. We will reflect on:

Moderator’s Midyear Report

  • Our exploration of the history and use of our real estate
  • How the Purposes of the Church inform our work
  • Resources we use to ground our work in our spirituality
  • Our involvement with saying farewell to Paula and welcoming DeWayne
  • Our discussions of what it means to be antiracist

Congregation’s Thoughts and Questions

  • What resources that Plymouth currently provides are giving you spiritual sustenance these days?
  • Are there Plymouth activities that you thought were important (pre-COVID) that you find you aren’t missing?
  • What has COVID taught us about what is important at Plymouth?
  • How can we grow into an authentic community with one another?

The Deacons are eager to hear what’s on your minds and address your questions. Our conversation will be less about reports by the presenters and more about what you have to say. We look forward to being in virtual community with you!

Register Here

The Changing Definition of the Racism Problem

by Hazel Lutz, a member of the Racial Justice Initiative

The last century’s format for addressing the problem of racism defined it as a problem of the actions of racist individuals. Certain individuals were viewed as  a cancer, so to speak, on an assumed, largely healthy society. Society-wide efforts to address racism focused on the removal of segregation signs; education, or re-education, of individuals; busing for educational equality and some government programs to give people living in poverty a “leg up.” The goal of equal opportunity was draped in words and phrases like “tolerance” and “getting along with each other.” Equal opportunity programs and the social safety net of government programs created during the War on Poverty, however, have slowly lost funding, been altered or closed down altogether through the last six decades in response to the attacks of politicians who blame the victims of racism and economic oppression for their situations.

The 21st Century format for viewing the problem of racial inequality has broadened the focus to include not just bigoted individuals, but the whole structure of our society; its history; American White culture; and the hearts and minds of every individual. Now we are looking at a societal problem — systemic racism. This is defined as racial prejudice + power. The overwhelming proportion of people occupying the positions of authority in government, businesses, churches, schools, colleges, museums, NGOs, etc. are white. They make decisions based upon assumptions and methods of evaluation originating in their European cultural heritage. The cultures of people of color have little chance to influence important decisions about our American life. In fact, the dominant white culture of our society’s leaders consciously, but more often unconsciously, work against the interests of people of color.

Do Not Avert your Gaze

Along the Way Published 02/12/2020
by Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis

In the age of cellphones and social media, it has never been easier for people to film and capture live images of arguments, violence, and disasters occurring in real-time. From the murders of unarmed Black people by law enforcement to confrontations over wearing masks in public places to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by extremists attempting to prevent the certification of the U.S. Presidential election, we have been made witnesses to the violent underbelly of our culture, politics, and law enforcement.

While we have known that such dangers have always been present around us, thanks to viral video clips, we are no longer allowed the benefit of plausible deniability about white supremacist violence or misconduct by law enforcement. Viral video clips are revealing some inconvenient truths about us. These truths are creating discomfort and anxiety that will only grow as we see more.

But we cannot avert our gaze.

The rise of viral videos is a form of truth-telling that is not easily denied. Clips of law enforcement violence against unarmed Black people; rallies of angry mobs with cheering insults and invectives aimed at women, immigrants, and people of color; and armed white supremacists overrunning legislative houses are telling truths that shatter our myths of exceptionalism and unimpeded progress that we’ve relied on to assure us all is well.

In the Gospels, Jesus’ ministry was all about seeing and truth-telling. He did not look away, rationalize, or accommodate the poverty, injustice, and dispossession of the most vulnerable around him. He did not avert his gaze from people’s suffering at the hands of the elites and the empire. On the contrary, the Gospel writers recount stories of him stopping at the scene of suffering, directly intervening in the most tragic of circumstances, and confronting the dangers of his culture and time to serve even when it was dangerous or inconvenient. Jesus did not avert his gaze from the ugliness around him, nor did he hide from the truth about the injustice and violence oppressing the people.

I know the violence we are seeing throughout social media is unsettling and traumatizing. I do not advise seeking it out as a matter of practice. However, we should not be willfully uninformed or unmoved by what is going on.

I suspect that much of the anxiety, resentment, and uncertainty many feel about race, law enforcement, and the pace of cultural and political change arises from the loss of innocence that comes with the exposure of the extent of the hate and violence plaguing vulnerable communities. But we need more truth-telling if we are ever going to confront inequality, white supremacy, and disenfranchisement. We cannot look away from the oppression, exploitation, and domination that distort personhood and rob people of their dignity.

I know it hurts the eyes, but do not avert your gaze.

DeWayne

This is Us, But We Will Be Better

From the Minneapolis Downtown Interfaith Senior Clergy

One thing that all Americans can agree upon during our fractious time is that American society is in crisis. Recently, we have often heard the phrase “this isn’t us.” A look at American history, however, reveals that this is indeed us. On this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, may we face the disease of white supremacy. As the American author adrienne maree brown phrases it, “things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”

The human religious impulse in its many manifestations is centrally about connection: connection to the sacred; connection to the earth; connection to our human family.

This is central to the mission of the Minneapolis Downtown Interfaith Senior Clergy.

In the face of the worst of human nature, our religious traditions insist upon hope. After all, the word “crisis” comes to us from the Greek, meaning “a turning point in a disease.” Our national illness is plain to see.  We are today in crisis, but we can make it a point of turning toward good.  The antidote is compassion and connection.

We invite the religious and those without religion to join us in our common purpose of making this nation what Americans have long dreamed it can be.

Signed, the Minneapolis Downtown Interfaith Senior Clergy,

Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf, Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis,  Rev. Jia Starr Brown, Rev. Dr. David Breeden, Imam Makram El-Amin, Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Anderson, Father Kevin Kenney, Rev. Judy Zabel, Rev. Dr. Laurie Pound-Feille, Rev. Peter Nycklemoe, Rev. Jen Crow, Rev. Justin Schroeder, Rev. Paul Lebens-England

The River and The Wall

Plymouth Film Club Discussion Feb. 7 of
The River and the Wall, guest hosted by Plymouth IWWG, RJI, and Sunday Forum
by Richard Jewell

        Plymouth Film Club is offering a discussion of The River and the Wall (2019, 97 min., documentary) Sunday, Feb. 7, at 12:30 pm on Zoom. Plymouth’s IWWG–the Immigration Welcoming Work Group –chose the film. IWWG, Plymouth’s  Racial Justice Initiative, and Sunday Forum are guest hosts.

Beth Faeth and Joan Thompson, both travelers in Plymouth’s recent Border Trip to Arizona, will facilitate the discussion. The film is appropriate for all ages; please view it on your own before the discussion (see options below).

Presidents have been talking for many decades about building physical barriers between Mexico and the U.S. to better control immigration. President Trump decided to do it big. Though multiple administrations from both parties have been involved in building border fences, under President Trump the process was accelerated.

In 2018, five friends decided to bike, hike, boat, and ride horseback 1200 miles to see “The Wall” along the Rio Grande in Texas. Their filmed journey is a gorgeous testament to the beauty of this “Grande” North American river, as well as a telling story of a partly-built Wall that divides not just the people of two nations, but also U.S. ranchers, park visitors, and citizens from the river.

The five friends start in El Paso. We see the rugged beauty of the Rio Grande and environmental issues in building the Wall. As the friends descend into the Lower Valley of the river in more heavily populated areas, they learn of other issues: immigration, ranchers’ access to land, and U.S. citizens access to state parks and national wildlife refuges.

The Hollywood Reporter calls The River and the Wall “visually stunning and politically sharp.” The film won three awards, one of them at the internationally famous SXSW Film Festival. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters recruited a National Geographic explorer, an ornithologist, another conservationist, and a river guide for the trip.

Join us in watching The River and the Wall on your own and then discussing it with Plymouth members Feb. 7.  Watch a 2-min. preview/trailer at https://theriverandthewall.com or a 4-min. “teaser” at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtB5KmrdMtY. The entire film is available as follows:

RENT
(Note: some services may require a subscription): Amazon Prime, iTunes, Netflix, Starz (7-day free trial), Tubi, YouTube, Vimeo

BUY (Some of these let you buy and watch online): Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy

To join the discussion, click on https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89339693168 at 12:30 pm on Sunday, Feb. 7. If you haven’t used Zoom, yet, show up ten minutes early to download its simple, safe software. We will look forward to seeing you for this very topical discussion about an excellent film!

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