May 2, 2013

Some scattered thoughts as May 2013 begins

You would think I would be used to it by now, but I still find it stunning how quickly American politics can go xenophobic. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings in which the suspects are immigrants to the United States it was almost instantaneous that some politicians were inferring that all immigrants needed to be viewed with suspicion in that many were likely terrorists. Inducing fear by casting dispersion on large groups of people is one of the great ills of both politics and religion…I hope you have had some time to ponder the proposed Sanctuary Art Project, “The Living Tree.” There is a display in the Sanctuary Narthex. If you have a thought please email it to me at jim.labcoakland.org…Recent needs in some of our sister congregations have resensitized me to the important role denominational leadership can play in bringing stability and calm into tense situations. However, to do so denominational leaders need to be able to be on the scene fairly quickly making location and geography an important concern. As much as we have appreciated the welcome extended to us by the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York since 2000, it may be time for us to consider affiliation with an American Baptist Region on the West Coast, a region with staff that could be on the scene in Oakland relatively quickly and easily…Thanks in part to donations from several members we have a new portable media center housed in the library. Steve Reimer set it up last week and we will begin using it immediately…Thanks to our Moderator Alean Saunders-Coffey for the hand disinfectant dispensers located in the Narthex, the Family Room and Barnett Hall. Hand washing remains one of the best way to prevent the spread of colds and flu…One of our members asked me recently why I was a bigger fan of the baseball A’s than the basketball Warriors. Well, now that the Warriors are having a great playoff series against Denver, I’m not. Karen bought me a Warriors shirt and I am wearing it proudly…My major community organizing involvement so far this year has been working with PICO California and our education allies to urge the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, a policy in which schools with higher percentages of low income students, English language learners and students in the foster care system receive a higher level of revenue from the state. In a recent PICO newsletter I noted “For many of our families quality public education is the pathway to the American dream. The Local Control Funding Formula keeps that pathway accessible to all.”…I am greatly enjoying reading through Exodus at Soup and Study and at Wednesday Morning Prayer and Bible Study. Exodus gives us Moses, the Burning Bush, the liberation from Egypt, the provision of manna in the wilderness, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Calf, and the Tabernacle (a portable house of worship), major themes in both Judaism and Christianity. I hope you will either join us or take time to read Exodus on your own…I am looking forward to our annual Hunger Walk on Sunday, June 2. I hope to be pushing my grandchild (not yet born) around the lake in a stroller. Thanks for your prayers for Kristen, David and extended family.

Peace,

Jim H.