Sep 10, 2019 Service about Remembering Selma by one who was there.
Today, we were honored to hear the recollections of Dr. Ron Payne, a retired Methodist Minister who, as a student minister at the Methodist Seminary here in Ohio, drove to Alabama to participate in Dr. King's march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rev. Payne was known to us as a local representative of the ACLU, but Madeline prevailed upon him to return this month to talk about his remembrances of 1965. Today was the first time Rev. Payne had gathered his thoughts in a formal presentation, and the raw emotions broke through.
It was interesting to note that his sharpest memories were of the events leading up to the March and the events surrounding the march, but the day itself he remembered as less eventful. That is due to the fear and anticipation was more palpable than the actual walking. And the realization of the enormity of the thing that they had done, looms very large in retrospect of the actual walking.
Dallas County, Alabama was a remarkable only in that when the Freedom Riders came to Alabama and Mississippi, this county and it's Sheriff, Jim Clark, were particularly resistant to having black people be registered to vote. So, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and John Lewis picked Selma, the county seat to be the focus of their protest on March 7, 1965. This was the Bloody Sunday march where the sheriff and troopers beat the marchers unmercifully. Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) became involved and then called for ministers to participate in the protest. The Methodist Seminary here in Columbus sent a delegation that included young Mr. Payne. Try to remember that Dr. King and the SCLC did not have the national and international recognition then. This was a small group of unknowns going up against the established law enforcement officials of a county in America. The police had already killed protesters. There was a great deal to be feared.
I won't describe any more of Rev Payne's recollections. If this sounds like the kind of thing that you would like to know more about, please come visit some Sunday morning at 11:00. We would love to see you. We have coffee.
Feb 3, 2019 Service about Black History Month
Today we listened to a lecture given by the Reverend William J Barber and discussed it afterward. The lecture was in celebration of Black History Month and was titled America, America, whats going on?
Rev. Barber covered a lot and we had a very interesting discussion about it afterward, but, as with many of Rev. Barber's talks, it is very hard for me to distill it down to a summary here. He drew a sharp parallel between historical events and the world we have in America today. Specifically, he said that following the American Civil War (1861-1865) the state legislatures of the Southern states were no longer dominated by the landed elites. The political power was suddenly in the hands of less well-to-do whites and newly freed black men. These same newly empowered people were being elected to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with profound implications.
In Washington, these new Southern representatives gave us the first civil rights act. In the state legislatures, they changed the state constitutions to provide for the poor, the sick and the uneducated. North Carolina provided guaranteed public education for the first time. The established labor rights, and they guaranteed access to the ballot for all (well, all men anyway. Rights for women were still in the future.) So, it turns out that if you take power away from the monied classes, legislators from the middle class and poorer classed did a pretty good job of governing the states. But, with the election of 1876, reconstruction ended. The redeemers movement put the wealthy back in charge. They lowered the taxes so that the states couldn't pay for all of the education and welfare programs, and then ended the programs. Not unlike what politicians do today when they start off by promising to lower taxes, and then start cutting out the programs that those taxed paid for.
Reverend Barber also criticised Donald Trump directly for his campaign tactics that were just like the ones the Redeemers movement used to gain power in the 1870's. Donald Trump claimed that everything in the nation was bad without explaining what was bad. He claimed that he alone could fix it, and he did not say what it was that he alone could fix, and did not say how he would fix it. And he pointed out that justice requires everyone in the community to participate in justice, no one acting alone can bring justice. He further pointed out that the President promises to pursue a more perfect union, to ensure domestic tranquility, neither of which has this president done. And, he pointed out, that improving the nation's welfare is in the constitution (Article 1 Section 8 for those of you who are still paying attention.)
Rev Barber concluded: we must never give up our moral beliefs. We must refuse to allow our government to act immorally in our name. We can work together, as we have in the past.
There was lots to unpack today. if you would like to participate in the discussion, please stop by occasionally. Up next week is the delayed presentation of the retrospective remembrance of what it was like to be on the Pettis bridge in Selma Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King.
Jan 27, 2019 Service about Driverless Cars
Andy lead us in a service about the moral and economic implications to our society in the near future as we transition to Driverless cars. His source for this was mainly the book Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car and How it Will Reshape Our World. When we arrive at this technological revolution, a few things will change that we should be considering today. Life is going to change.
The biggest cost of a taxi or car service is the cost of the driver. If the taxi or car service is driverless, the cost goes way down. The cost of owning a car remains high. So access to transportation at the touch of an app will be cost effective. The implication of access to cheap transportation is that it will save a family money. Saving a little money is nice, but the implications for society are huge.
In short order, access to transportation for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled are increased. That is life changing for many people in society. It is a huge increase in productivity. If people can go to work in a hired driverless car, then the need for vast acres of land and resources devoted to parking decreases. Cities will change because of it. Shopping malls will change because of it. The ecology will change if we stop paving over land for parking(which causes water run-off and adds to the risk of floods.)
Another implication is that there are vast numbers of people who's livelihood is linked to the fact that they are skilled drivers. The world will need fewer drivers. If we own fewer cars (as we make use of the cheap hired ones,) then there are fewer people needed to repair cars. In the short term, a lot of people will be without an employer who values safe driving skills.
We can probably all agree that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, but that does not make the drawbacks disappear. This is going to be a lively debate, and it is happening soon.
Come visit us on a Sunday when we discuss more topics that have spiritual and/or moral implications for us humans living on this planet. This one touched our first principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person, and the sixth principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Jan 20, 2019 Service Cancelled
Snow has interfered with our Martin Luther King Sunday service. We all want to hear Mr. Payne's recollection of the Selma march, so stay tuned and we will reschedule.