FROM THE RECTOR
The Idolatry of Whiteness
The past several weeks have once again revealed a fundamental fracture within our nation’s soul. The comments by President Trump about Congresswomen Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib exposed a reality that has long-festered. The furor that has followed has illuminated many things—the state of partisan politics and the nature of the relentless news cycle to be sure, but in my mind it has primarily surfaced the idolatry of whiteness in America.
To begin, what is idolatry? Yes, in Exodus 32 we get one version of an idol in the form of a golden statue of a bull calf. And this is true, we often have inanimate objects stand in for our desire for safety and wholeness. But idolatry in its various guises always asks an essential question: are you willing to put your trust in something that is not God?
So how is whiteness idolatrous? It seems to me that those who place their trust in the pigment of their skin, and in the lie that it makes one superior or more worthy than another person, is contrary to the truth that all of humanity is created in the image of God. The definition of whiteness as the pinnacle of humanity, whether expressed through culture or physical features, not only inherently demeans others, it also deforms the white person, as all practices of idolatry do.
To be clear, this struggle around whiteness is not unique to our nation. In the present cultural moment people in Sweden, Germany, France, Austria, and a host of other countries are in conflict around what it means to be Swedish, German, French or Austrian. The fear of the stranger, or xenophobia, seems to cross all human cultures.
What is particular about our nation is that we have always been a culture of many peoples. The United States of America exists in this current state as a result of Europeans invading the lands of the nations indigenous to North America, and by forcibly enslaving Africans to these shores, with scores of people from around the globe subsequently coming to these shores for refuge and opportunity. While we as a nation have tried to pretend, culturally and legally, as if this were a “white nation,” this has been a pernicious lie, what many have come to know as our “original sin.”
Again, a belief in white exceptionalism and supremacy is not new, it has been present since the birth of this nation. What is new is that the bearer of the highest office in the land, one with great influence and responsibility, has once again publicly subscribed to this claim—that this nation belongs solely to white people, to people of European descent, and that anyone who is other does not belong.
When our President tells four Representatives of the United States Congress to “go back where they came from,” (not their congressional districts) and then stands by as his supporters chant, “send them back,” it wasn’t simply misinformed, or impolitic, or malicious, or racist, it is fundamentally idolatrous.
As followers of the Christ, as those who place their trust in one in whom there is, “no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,” we must hear these words for what they are, continue to amend our lives from our own participation in the snares of this idolatry, and seek to follow the God of all creation.
A Glimpse of Big Sur
Last weekend, thirty-five All Soulsians made the trek to the Santa Lucia Campground, tucked into the curves of the Big Sur River. Together we feasted and sang, prayed and adventured. Here’s a glimpse of some of the fun:
Beware of Phishing
In recent months, we have seen a huge uptick in phishing emails going around, and these scammers seem to be directing their efforts at churches in particular. Previously, we’ve seen fake emails primarily trying to pose as Phil, but more recently they have begun pretending to be parishioners. Generally, the emails follow a fairly consistent outline: in an initial email, they ask for help or a favor, but are usually busy in a meeting or some other situation such that they are unable to do something themselves. Sometimes in that first email, and sometimes in a subsequent one, they describe a painful situation: a loved one who is very sick, disabled, on very hard times, and so on, and they need your assistance urgently to help them. The mode of help requested is almost always gift cards — often iTunes, but from other stores as well — and in particular, wanting you to scratch off the backing to give them the serial number and pin on the gift card via email.
The bottom line is this: we, as your clergy and staff, will never, ever email you asking for help in this way. The only time we will ever ask for gift cards is for in-gatherings at Advent, when you will physically bring them to the church. Similarly, it is safe to assume that no other friend or parishioner will ever email you asking for help in the form of electronically transferred gift cards. One way to tell that it’s a phishing email is that usually they will make it look like the email is coming from your acquaintance, but then if you click to reveal the “reply-to” email, it will be a different address — often a similar name but at a different email host. When in doubt, your best bet is to pick up the phone and check in with your friend or with us directly before responding.
In all, please be careful. Change your passwords. Remember that we will never ask you for money or gift cards or similar help in that way. If it doesn’t sound like us, it probably isn’t. After all, you know what pledge season is like — when All Soulsians are asking for money, you won’t be able to mistake it! Thanks for watching out for one another and staying safe.
Liz+ and Phil+
Sunday after next, August 4th, will be our second Summer Choir Sunday of the season. We’ll be skipping our usual Wednesday evening rehearsal, and instead we will rehearse a simple choral piece, and an Angel Band song on Sunday morning. All are welcome to join us, especially if you’ve been interested in getting a better sense of what our music program is like here at All Souls before becoming a regular, or if you know you love to sing and the regular Wednesday rehearsals just don’t work for you.
On August 4th we’ll begin rehearsing in the sanctuary at 8:30 am (for the 9:00 am service) or 10:45 am (for the 11:15 am service). You’re welcome to come to either or both services. If you’re curious about our choral community, and would like a no-pressure way to try it out, come join us the first Sunday in August!
SUPPORT OUR HIGH SCHOOLERS
Five of our high schoolers and two All Souls adult volunteers are joining with youth from other area Episcopal Churches to go on an immersion trip to Dulac, LA at the end of the month. While there, they will do work with ongoing flood damage in a Native American community. The group is still raising funds for the trip, and would love to have your support! You can give a check to the church, or contribute online here.
ALL SOULS T-SHIRTS
The shop to purchase All Souls t-shirts is now open for orders again! All proceeds, after the cost of the shirt, will go to support the High School Immersion Trip. You can order the t-shirts online here, pay online, and they will be mailed to your house! They’re printed by a fantastic local unionized shop. The online All Souls store will be open until August 15, after which point they will print the shirts and mail them to you. The three designs this time are “God erases no one,” “Jesus was a refugee,” and “Banjos for Jesus.”
SAVE THE DATE
Parish Retreat 2019
Mark your calendars for our annual Parish Retreat! We’ll be heading to the wonderful Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg September 13-15. (Note that this is on the early side — it’s still the 3rd Sunday of the month, but the earliest that can be!) It’s a fabulous time of fun, connection, good food, time to listen and reflect, and all kinds of intergenerational fellowship. More info coming later this summer, but please set aside the time!
This fall we are finally launching a new small group program! The vision for these groups is simple: to gather and journey together in small groups in order to deepen our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. If you are interested in joining a group either this fall or in the near future, or are simply interested in learning more, please contact Emily Hansen Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPAGHETTI AGAIN MEN’S FELLOWSHIP DINNER
Every last Monday of the month, men of the parish get together for dinner (at a shared cost) and casual conversation. Sign up on the bulletin board by the Parish Hall doors this Sunday! Monday, July 29th, 6 pm, in the Parish Hall.
MEALS AND RIDES
Are the daily logistics of life getting to be too much right now? Or would you like to offer help to your fellow All Soulsians? If you need a ride or a meal, there are people who would love to help! All Souls Meals and Rides ministry volunteers provide simple but critical care to fellow parishioners on a very flexible schedule. For those serving, the commitment is up to you––when and how your schedule allows––providing a meal (homemade or purchased), or transportation for a parishioner during times of trial, hardship, or the first weeks of parenthood. For more information about serving, or to request meals or rides, please contact Erin Horne at email@example.com.