The personal, not the political

Prosperous couple & bag lady on a bench

There is nobody on the planet, neither those whom we see as the oppressed nor those whom we see as the oppressor, who doesn’t have what it takes to wake up.The Pocket Pema Chödrön (156)

Human change is always personal, not political.

Yes, all social concerns are in some way “political” concerns (Greek politikos, from politēs “citizen’,” from polis “city”). But our feelings about a concern are personal reactions to the concern, not pragmatic steps toward remedies. And

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Loss of shared space: the second pandemic

Image of empty coffeehouse through window

What happens when much of the human race suddenly loses the safety of sharing physical space? Does this loss go deeper than the pandemic itself? How do we heal from this great social wound?

Most living people have never had to notice how essential the mutual sharing of physical space is—until now.

Worship, school, work, shopping, eating out, going to bars, restaurants, coffeehouses, sporting events, and on, and on. We social animals live and breathe these hours of visceral physical

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Gender outlaws: three vignettes

I.

When I entered first grade in 1956, I faced a sort of peer treatment I had never previously experienced.

A little over two years earlier I had survived a bout of non-paralytic polio. My playmates then were happy to see me well. It didn’t affect their friendship that I had lost my resilience and coordination.

In first grade, though, among boys I had not previously known, I was suddenly a “sissy.”

This wasn’t about sexuality. Kids in

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Kinship and prejudice: Are migrants kin?

Our primate hardwiring militates against welcoming migrants. It’s that simple. And that complicated.

Individual human beings always act out of self-interest. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a simple animal survival drive. Beyond this, we are driven by a natural need to help our personal “species” survive. If we act for others, it is for our children, our families, our clan—our kin.

However, part of what makes human beings so successful among primates is our mental ability to extend our

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The Canaanite woman: Recognizing kinship

Samaritans

In 2015, writing about “Christian Universalisms,” I explained that Jesus

was from Galilee in northern Palestine, child of Aramaic-speaking peasants, not of the “proper” Hebrew-speaking Jews from Judea in the south. His [initial] concern was that his own Galilean people not feel excluded from God’s blessing because of their not being part of the Jerusalem-centered Temple cult.

As we find in teaching stories like “the woman at the well” (

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Living in between

Note: I deleted an earlier version of this post (see comment on “Apology to Quaker Quaker and its host”).

In recent years I’ve been reading and corresponding with a whole spectrum of individual Quaker bloggers, folks who share, in their own posts and in their comments on each other’s posts, an on-going meta-conversation about Quaker faith and practice across the boundaries of religious language.

These Friends write about their efforts to do something highly peculiar: to self-identify as Evangelical

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Listening

Within the past few weeks, I have witnessed too many cases of misunderstanding and hurt feelings over language and the unreadiness to listen beyond language.

Overtly, the struggles are framed as being between “non-Christians” and “Christians,” between “secular” and “religious,” between “liberal” and “orthodox.”

They are framed as being over who has been hurtful, disrespectful, hostile or even exclusionary toward whom.

The sad irony is that all of these people are passionate about lifting up loving kinship as the highest

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