Sunday, September 26, 2010

URGENT Winter Heating Aid Collection for Pine Ridge/Oglala Lakota Reservation

The church I'm working at, St. Andrews Omaha is in the process this month of raising desperately needed winter heating fuel for needy Oglala Lakota families of Pine Ridge Reservation. As some of of my friends may remember, last winter was brutal to many tribes out here, and another hard one is feared this year. A real matter of life and death for many folks (especially the elders and children), efforts like this are a lifeline to the community in some of the harshest US winters outside of Alaska.

There were tragic conditions last winter when $$ ran out, and our friends and church leadership on Pine Ridge consider it urgent to be better prepared, and able to maximize donations value by buying propane early at low prices.

If anyone has interest in helping from afar, even a few dollars please feel free to drop me a comment here or via email (kconroy42 @ It will be distributed through our trusted contacts with a Lakota church and their Priest, Cordelia Red Owl. These two churches have been working together for many years, and I'll hopefully be meeting some of these folks on a supply run in November.

For people closer/able to send other supplies, St. Andrews is also
collecting warm clothing, essp for children 0-12 years of age, and lastly some craft supplies for their children's programs.

Our friends' church involved distributing our aid, Church of the Redeemer near Kyle, SD. Their prayers and mass are entirely in the Lakota language. St. Andrews youth and adults are honored to work with them in annual youth visits and service projects each year .

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspired by Lincoln's Defense of American Liberty and Tolerance

(Rockwell's famous 1662 "Lincoln
for the Defense," depicting the man in
his younger years as a lawyer)

On my trip out here to Omaha, my father and I had the occasion to visit Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. Its a stop I cannot recommend more to people who love this country's better ideals. The museum offers a wonderful, immersive journey though his life and the fierce human rights and political debates he lived through. Its an incredible place, with many quotes and lessons that are still quite timely.*

My favorite quote, of all of them:

"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy."
-Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was speaking of xenophobia in his own Republican party and the grave threats to liberty. The Republicans, which he helped found contained, despite their strong abolitionist wing also an alliance with bigoted groups that considered my own Irish ancestors, and many other religions and cultures, even European cultures a danger to America and not worthy of equal rights. It could not be more timely, as we as a country face waves of pre-election islamophbia and hysteria. Lincoln rightly connected the debates of his time on whether blacks were fully human with the questions of the equality of ALL people and right to live here in freedom.

This is not, of course an attack on the Republican, or any single party (the Democrats of the time were for slavery!), but a gentle reminder that liberty is something we must always defend with vigilance- no matter our politics. None of these debates are new.

* Including many other parallel's to today- Lincoln, for example was not even a professed Christian OR church-goer but, like Obama faced religious attacks- in his case of atheism. He defended himself quite admirably, while being honest on his non-affiliation. He was, never the less quite the theologian, particularly when it came to making sense of the inscrutability of God's will in the midst of Civil War where both sides claimed to be Christian.

I was amazed, in fact of how passionately Lincoln openly invoked God in politics, while also refusing to be pinned down on his religious beliefs. He was quite possibly the greatest debater in our history-- yet his religious arguments did not seem disingenuous. One feels he truly believed them, but also valued his freedom of thought and belief. A guide at his tour told me, with some wry humor that certain Christian groups are trying to claim a last minute death-bed confession of faith to be able to "claim" this all too complex national hero.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Landed safely in Nebraska, welcomed here by a beautiful church and park next door, which I can visit any time. The church is a beautiful living story of integration between the black and white communities here, and the park has some lovely old trees. Thanks to the Creator for taking good care of me, and prayers for the work ahead.

Missouri River near my neighborhood
(picture from KETV)

For those who don't know, I'm with the Episcopal Service Corps for a year and living in intentional community... hopefully to do some work with both church and indigenous communities in the area. Will post more after my retreat next week when we get our assignments. Tonight we had a house blessing complete with Bishop, exorcism and lots of holy water... and cake! :P

This is being back-posted, as I had some computer issues the night I wrote it on my other sites.