Month: September 2018

Reflections on the Conference on the Doctrine of Discovery

By Petra Thombs

Attending the conference on the Doctrine of Discovery, provided an opportunity to deepen our collective understanding of these edicts, which are based on the Papal Bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century.

I find that I always have to start at the beginning in discussing this because knowledge of the Papal Bulls and the Doctrine of Christian Discovery are not a part of our American conversation regarding the ills of our society. They should be, as they are directly relevant to our hierarchical structure; these edicts determine who rules and who is subjugated. We are constantly thinking, talking, acting in a vacuum, not knowing how our society was formed. Those who are activists struggle with gaining a foot hold into making change, without ever knowing how we got here in the first place.

My constant thoughts are why do these failing ideals of freedom continue in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Why are me and mine left out of the picture of prosperity when my ancestors’ enslavement actually built this country’s wealth? And my other ancestors were the first and only ones here before the age of discovery, but now, are dispersed, landless and drained of our language, history and culture? Why do we continue to be a part of the vulnerable masses who could lose everything and actually have nothing? Many of us do not /cannot claim who we are for fear of social retaliation. We have been told to remain separate from ourselves. That, of course, has been to our detriment.

The directive given in the first such Papal Bull, Dum Diversas, in 1452 to King Alphonse of Portugal by Pope Nicholas was to go into west Africa and: Invade, capture, subdue, and vanquish all pagans, Sarsens and enemies of Christ. They were to be put into perpetual enslavement with their lands land and possessions given to the Crown.

Thus, began the colonization of Africa, and the enslavement of Africans, forty year before Columbus, so we can see why he felt so disposed to enslaving the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean islands.These “marching orders” would leach into the mindset of European monarchs, who using the Papal bulls as a base, who moved onto non-Christian lands and claimed them for their own.

Another Bull, Inter Caetera, issued by Pope Alexander VI, written in 1493, with the influence of Columbus, was instrumental in creating Spain’s monopoly in the conquest of the “New World” and established the infamous “line of demarcation”. It further stated that any lands occupied by non-Christians were available for exploitation by Christian nations, as long as no other Christian nation had claimed it. (It is important to
note that “Christian” became synonymous with white, fitting into the ideology of White Anglo Saxon supremacy.)

In our United States, Thomas Jefferson, declares in his Notes of the State of Virginia, that the “infant United States” follows the lead of Christian European nations in exercising the actions directed in the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. I find this particularly interesting that the author of our constitution, a proponent of our liberty from England, proposed that this infant nation take the example of subjugating nations to dominate sovereign peoples. This Doctrine lives throughout our laws, particularly in our claim to indigenous lands, even the claim that these lands are vacant of people- as the people are not Christian and therefore, not white.

Other foils are used to perpetuate the charge of a righteous cause. The bible is used – particularly Genesis – to emphasize our right to have dominion over the land. Exodus is used to justify taking land belonging to other people and claiming the “promised land” for one’s own. These orders have been used to severe sovereign nations from their land, giving them only the right to occupancy and not the right to ownership over resources of their ancestral lands. As far back as Johnson v. McIntosh,1823, (“that principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.”) and as recent as Ruth Bader Ginsberg v Oneida, 2004, specifically citing Genesis, everything for the Doctrine of Discovery to the creation story has been used to justify the US taking resources from other sovereign nations.

Manifest Destiny was desired by George Washington and put into action with each administration, until finally, non-white people are removed through genocide, from their land. As laws serve to govern and build this nation, attitudes serve to support the leanings of the government, in order to justify these actions. These things would not and could not take place without the consent of the governed. What would justify taking land away from people? What would justify genocide of people? You first have to believe that these are not actually people or that they are somehow less than you and not worthy as you are. The thinking and actions which created the Papal Bulls of Dum Diversas as carefully fed to the populace. They worked hard to teach the populace that “the only good Indian was a dead Indian”, that this country should be blessed for “sea to shining sea.”, and if they were poor, “at least they were not Black”. They were to be a part of carrying out these edicts, these marching orders of the monarchs of Europe and the faithful of the church.

Our conversation in the conference brought about how the Doctrine is experienced in our daily lives. We are still impacted by Dum Diversas, we are still invaded, captured, subdued, vanquished. In prison, we are put into perpetual enslavement. Many of us do not belong there.  We are placed in prison for petty crimes no white person would be arrested for or we are held because we could not afford bail. We are subdued into ghettos, reservations-ghettos, and held in poverty. We are continually subjugated by trauma from boarding schools where we or our relatives were abused. Our culture was taken away and the bond to our families and communities broken. We are punished for speaking our language. We are racially profiled, we are mocked and murdered, our women are kidnapped, raped and disappeared. We are held in alcohol and drug induced prisons. Often these things were brought and forced upon us and now we struggle mightily to escape them. Our lands and waters are poisoned by
industry, our people succumb to cancer and die.

Today as we walk into stores to be served, we know we are not welcomed. We are demonized in our character and our culture. The country still does not find it offensive to use caricatures of us as a symbol of their football team. It is as though we are dead, just as society has orchestrated. But we are here and we are not going anywhere. It is time for a change. It is time for white Americans to realize that our way is the way to renew the earth that has been damaged through industrialization and pollution to our planet.

As we move forward and expect for Rome to rescind the Papal Bulls, we ask our allies, have you, can you reflect on the attitudes, biases you hold which emanate for these same papal bulls? It would be ludicrous to think that these ideologies which permeate every aspect of our life in this country does not affect our relationships with diverse communities. The United States is a segregated society, this makes it difficult for individuals to hear and acknowledge those outside of their usual sphere.

Micro aggressions abound. What in our conversations and /or actions dominate? What can we do to rescind our habits, turn the tide and become more respectful of others? We have to let go of our prejudices, our fears, our sometimes invasive and insulting remarks about our hair, skin, or clothing, or having to justify our right to our homes, job and /or positions, which many POC find offensive. We have to acknowledge that POC want to have conversations regarding race relations as we live the negative impacts almost daily. Whites will ask, “Why are we still talking about this? Aren’t we over this?” or say, “I am not responsible for this”, despite benefitting for it. It is not merely truth and reconciliation; we have to prime ourselves for actualizing a change in the power dynamic. If we are ever to live up to this country’s creed of liberty and justice for all, then we must begin this work. The time is now. Let us rescind the Doctrine of Christian Discovery which we have internalized. Our next step is to talk about equality, what it really looks like, what it really sounds like, then act to make it so.

***

Taking on the Doctrine of Discovery Conference

Organized by the American Indian Law Alliance & the Indigenous Values Initiative

Aug 18 at 9:00 am to Aug 19 at 1:00 pm

Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center Liverpool, NY, ONONDAGA NATION TERRITORY

September Musings

By Shep Glennon

September, you need a makeover. You need a name change, first of all. Your name literally means 7, yet when we write the date on government documents, we have to mislabel you as month number 9. All because some Christians thought it would be cute to make the coldest, bleakest time of year – January – be the New Year, instead of gorgeous spring. Celebrating New Years in Spring is more like a pagan practice, and a nearly universal one at that, and it also makes sense because everything is new again.

September, we’re just going to have to de-number you, that’s all. No more nines, not even sevens. We’re going to start off this makeover by untying you from Christian mishandling and the boring blandness of reducing your complex beauty and wholeness to a number, as if you were some warden’s prisoner, or some bureaucrat’s statistic. 

And I mean, look at you now, September. Aside from an amazing Earth, Wind and Fire Song that even a Gap advertisement couldn’t destroy, we humans let your name become meaningless, devoid of connection. Your name is the vulgar absurdity of being somehow seven and nine, like naming our first daughter “One and Only” before proceeding to procreate siblings for her like a factory assembly line. Come, let’s get your name a makeover…Google! Wiki me September!

 

“September was called “harvest month” in Charlemagne‘s calendar
September is called Herbstmonat, harvest month, in Switzerland.[3] The Anglo-Saxons called the month Gerstmonath, barley month, that crop being then usually harvested, and for the Native Americans, it was full corn moon month.
Both Native North Americans and indigenous Europeans referred to the moon this month as Harvest Moon. Likewise, for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a harvest festival also celebrated in Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.”
Below the equator, even though it is the equivalent of March, it’s also harvest season. Grains are ready to be harvested and eaten; September is thus the “grains of sorghum,” titled Hlakubelé (Sotho). In another South African language (Xhosa), it is called “month of first fruits” (EyoKwindla).

 

Anything that has the word “herbs” in it is naturally attractive to me, so I put “Herbst” in Google translate, and it’s actually synonymous for “autumn” in German, and synonyms for “Herbst” include Spätjahr, Rückgang, Sturz, Baisse, Absturz.  I like those, especially Ruckgang (to recede) and Sturz (to fall).  But what does “herbst” (pronounced like Pabst but with a silent P) mean exactly? Well, herb in German means: tart, dry, bitter, harsh, austere, severe,

Dour… cruel… and rude.

So, it might be rude to some to interrupt summer and vacation, but I personally find February and March to be more so in its bitter coldness, so I am going to go with “tart” as a synonym for September. Tart in German is sauer (pronounced zow-wah), from which we get sauerkraut. Why choose tart? Because it’s good, despite being a bit sour or angry around the edges, maybe like an uncle we know?

The air itself smells tart. Breathe it in and reflect on what it means for you. The tart, sour apples are falling from the trees; it’s now apple season. Walnuts fall to the ground and rot along with the leaves. We are the harvest, we’ve got to reap and pluck things in our lives before they rot on the vine. We’ve got to live our best life before we stagnate.

But because we’re so good at waiting to the last minute, we might mess up and miss it. Not to worry. We’re going to take that mess and let it rot and ferment a bit, because that’s how you make sauerkraut, that’s how you make apple cider. Things will die, that’s a fact.  Yet it is the dead that also ferments, being rotted and crushed and having a kick to it, which when imbibed are known as “spirits.”  Alcohol. Our cheeks might get lifted up, our mood may elevate. Easter, with its rotten grapes-turned-wine, maybe should be held in fall?  But with chalices full of hard apple cider of a Dionysian Jesus,

a Jesus with surrounded by our uncle’s shady biker friends,

Enlivening on any occasion, yet rough-around-the-edges

like sauerkraut

because,

Septembre,

You give a hard edge to things, reminding us none of us are perfect.  We humans poke each other in the eye all the time, mostly without meaning to, but just out of the sheer fact of being different, and coming at things from different angles. That’s good for our growth. Like apple cider vinegar, it’s helpful. But if you don’t cut it with water, it burns. So we learn to balance time with edgy friends and relatives whose wisdom sometimes comes in moments of discomfort or in waves of discontent, with the comfort of friendships where good vibes come easy. We’ll water down our days of sour with the sweetness of pleasure, and carefree joy, too.

So while everything is dying all around us, thanks to you September – sorry, Sauer – and thanks to our hot mess-ness, we are reminded to engage in self-care.  

We are reminded that:  Anything good will not come easy.  We cannot force anything, we can only cultivate the seeds which the Most High has planted. And thank you so much for planting these seeds. Thank you Sauer, for making space for us to cultivate these relationships, and to enjoy their fruits. Sometimes we get lucky, and find relationships where we don’t have to try so hard, where things just happen naturally. May we reap our carefully cultivated relationships. Hopefully what we sow into them, the hopes and our good intentions to bring joy and prosperity into this world, get to see the light of day.

May that be our harvest.

Ameen.

***

 

The Center for Earth Ethics welcomes Shep Glennon, as our new Field Ed student for 2018-2019.

 

Prayer of Thanks for Creation

Leader :    Let us pray.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for beauty:

The twinkle in an older person’s eye,

A child’s shout of laughter;

Thanks for the greening trees and frozen waterfalls,

Stunning buildings and flowerbeds in summer.

All:    Thanks for beauty.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for creativity:

The skills of the tapestry weaver,

The imagination of a web designer;

Thanks for bakers and dancers and crossword compilers,

For spiders’ webs and city murals.

Thanks for creativity.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for abundance:

For seeds and raindrops,

For grains of sand and infinite galaxies;

Thanks for seagulls, plankton and shoals of mackerel,

For wriggling worms and golden dandelions.

Thanks for abundance.

 

Thanks for your world, God,

And for our part in it.

Thanks that you are a maker,

And that you made us makers, too.

 

Help us to love creation as you love it,

To take risks to value it as Jesus did,

And draw us into the wildness and wonder

Of your Holy Spirit

Today and every day.

Amen.

***

E-Liturgies and Prayers on Creation from the Iona Community

Celebrating the Season of Creation 

Image: Navajo (Dine) pictorial rug with Spiderwoman emerging from the center of the earth and emerging into the Middle World, as per the Navajo Creation tale, with stylized spiderwoman crosses represented throughout the textile. From Marcy Burns.

 

For the Season of Creation, Chinook Blessing Litany

We call upon the earth, our planet home, with its beautiful depths and soaring heights, its vitality and abundance of life, and together we ask that it

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the mountains, the Cascades and the Olympics, the high green valleys and meadows filled with wild flowers, the snows that never melt,the summits of intense silence, and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the land which grows our food, the nurturing soil, the fertile fields, the abundant gardens and orchards, and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the forests, the great trees reaching strongly to the sky with the earth in their roots and the heavens in their branches, the fir and the pine and the cedar, and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests and the seas, our brothers and sisters the wolves and deer, the eagle and dove, the great whales and dolphin, the beautiful Orca and salmon who share our Northwest home, and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the Universe, to be with us to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

***

Chinook Blessing Litany ~ The Chinook is a tribal nation from Southwest Washington, whose ancestral lands sit at the mouth of the Columbia River.  They have been fighting for federal recognition since 1899.   Read more…

Many thanks to Diane L. Neu, Co-Founder & Co-Director of W.A.T.E.R (Women’s Alliance  for Theology, Ethics and Ritual) in Silver Spring, MD, for publishing this Chinook Blessing Litany in her book Return Blessings.

The Season of Creation is an annual, worldwide celebration of prayer and action organized by Christian faith leaders from around the world united in the cause to protect our common home and is open to all to participate.  The Season begins with the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1st and extends to the Feast Day of Saint Francis on October 4th. This year’s Season of Creation has the theme of “walking together”.  In walking together, we follow the role of Jesus, who walked with friends on the roads around Jerusalem.  As he traveled the byways of his community, Jesus invited us to encounter God through God’s presence in creation. Whether by considering “the lilies of the field” or the “grain of wheat that falls to the earth,” the spiritual journey of following Jesus is closely tied to the everyday wonders of nature that He experienced in His earthly journey.  Learn More / Participate…

***

In Case You Missed It… CEE Update from August 30th: Are You Ready to RISE for Climate Justice?

Here’s Everything You Need to Know for the Upcoming Week of Action on Climate

(P.S.  There’s still time to help flyer at events around the city including joining today’s Caribbean-West Indian Day Parade climate contingent.)


Rise For Climate, Jobs, and Justice is less than two weeks away, and  Thursday, 8/30 at 8 PM EST is a national organizing call to get everyone fired up and ready to RISE!

On the call, you’ll hear from amazing organizers like Cherri Foytlin, an organizer with The L’eau Est La Vie (Water is Life) Camp in Louisiana, Lucas Zuker with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable EconomyRoberto Jesus Clack with Warehouse Workers For Justice, and Ananya Singh with the Sierra Student Coalition about the actions they are hosting across the country.

Come be inspired by all the incredible work that people across the United States
are doing to fight climate change on the frontlines.

RSVP here to be a part of the call TONIGHT at 8 pm EST and join the movement!

 

CEE invites you to join us along with hundreds of other Participating Groups around the world to RISE for Climate, Jobs and Justice. FIND AN EVENT NEAR YOU!

We’ve included some helpful links below on the special #RiseNY Event on September 6th, and links to Faith and Indigenous Community Events in San Francisco leading up to the GCAS and beyond.


STARTING THE WAVE

NYC – BATTERY PARK – SEPTEMBER 6TH
GET CONNECTED!


Join us on September 6th at 5:30 pm at Battery Park to kick off a wave of climate action!  In the face of policy reversals on oil and gas drilling, coal, asbestos, pipelines, car emissions, and the Clean Air Act – now more than ever we need to:
  • Enact A Just Transition to 100% Renewable Energy Now!
  • Stop All Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
  • Make Corporate Polluters Pay
  1. Help flyer at events around the city or join the Caribbean-West Indian Day Parade climate contingent.
  2. Join a Subway Blitz.
  3. Dial a fellow NY’er to get them to the march.
  4. Come to a Community Art Build, Aug 30th or Sept 1st.
  5. To participate in a Direct Action on Sept 7th, contact us at [email protected].

Interfaith and Indigenous Bloc in CA 

Faith Communities in California 
RISE for Climate, Jobs and & Justice

Indigenous Bloc at RISE Days of Action
San Francisco, CA


 

Intertribal Prayer, Teach-In & Direct Action Training

37th Indigenous Women of the Americas Defending Mother Earth Treaty New Moon Ceremony

RISE Against Climate Capitalism

 

Have Questions? Ask at the Indigenous Bloc Facebook Page.  For more Actions check out ItTakesRoots.org and the Climate Justice Alliance.


If you are in New York City, join CEE’s Karenna Gore and Rev. Leo Woodbury of Kingdom Living Temple as we convene the 2018 Global South Summit at the United Nations Church Center on September 14th. The Summit is a solutions driven program serving to bring allies together, thereby strengthening our potential impact through partnership.  Read More…