Five things Friday roundup: Thoughts on Watching the Oscars

Desert cacti with pink blooms surrounded by gray and brown rocky soil. Photo by Leann Augsburger.

1.  We are still marveling.

Director Sarah Polley, in her acceptance speech upon receiving the Oscar award for Best Adapted Screenplay, said words we keep quoting: Women Talking is “an act of Democracy in which people who don’t agree on every single issue manage to sit together in a room and carve out a way forward together free of violence.”  Yes, Sarah Polley. Yes, Miriam Toews. Yes to a witness of nonviolent negotiation. What if peacebuilding was a central conviction and commitment practice in a community? Need we say more? Yes, we do, and we must repeat it again and again. Now, what if we learned to fully practice our heritage?

2. “The Well of Privilege gone dry.”

Watching a panel of pundits on cable news following the March 3 sentencing of Alex Murdaugh, we heard a line we can’t forget. “You can only go to the well of privilege a limited number of times before you discover the well has gone dry.” We don’t recall who the speaker was, except he was brilliant, black, and spoke truth pointedly.  Sometimes a truth burr stays with you for always. We must always reconsider our privileges.

3.  The Carter Challenge—have you taken it up?

President James Earl Carter has been on our minds for days since he entered hospice care. One memory that stays with us is what he called the Carter Challenge. “Will you pledge to do an act of kindness each day?” If his challenge went viral, went global, and went wide as humankind, he reasoned, it would be a decisive step toward world peace. If you are one of those “who do random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” frequently, then the challenge only deepens your commitment to join Anne Herbert, who reversed the common phrase, “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty,” to set this wonderful pledge free in the world. Put the kind back into humankind.

4. Our daughter, Kate Wentland, is being ordained to the ministry of chaplaincy.

This Sunday is a momentous day as Kate vows to walk compassionately with others as a representative of not just our congregation, Peace Mennonite Church in Claremont, California, but of Jesus. After growing up in a context where women do not hear “the call,”  she heard it. Our eyes will be wet, to be sure, as Stanley Green and Anthonia Onye confirm ordination. Her special ministry to the dying—her presence, listening, authentic attention, singing with or to, lifting them up into the hands of God—creates a host of untold stories that can rarely be told. 

5.  Spring is arriving.

Our mountains are capped with snow, the world is green from the rains, the hummingbirds are visiting the flowers, cacti bloom,  trees are breaking into blossom, the rivers are rushing with fresh melt, and the song of the dove is heard once more in our garden. We love this season, and we love the crisp freshness of nature. Our concern for the environment becomes more urgent each day. Can we slow and perhaps reverse the waste of this wonderful planet? Keep the question alive; take every step you see. In the vast universe, it is the only planet with life that we know.

David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Read More

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