Archive for June, 2018


As I recall I came across Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack Mack in one of the School Journals … oh, man, school journals! The author of this piece seems to be unknown but this is a suggested origin… “slave children were taught corn ditties (the original name for Negro spirituals) to take their young minds off harsh plantation life. They would work & clap their hands in rhythm while singing.  Miss Mary Mack was symbolic in that the Merrimack was an ironclad Union ship coming to fight the confederate army. It built with rivets (silver buttons) & ships have always been referred to as females. There is also symbolism behind asking her mother (the Confederate States of America) for fifty cents (a metaphor for change) to see the elephants (symbol of the Republican party who “freed the slaves”) jump the fence (Mason-Dixon line).”  

 

Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high, high
They reached the sky, sky, sky
And they didn’t come back, back, back
‘Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!

 

Here’s a cute Dad and Daughter video if you want to teach/learn the clapping routine…

 

brown butterfly lands on floral dress

In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the
butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor
butterfly.”
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.

Katherine Mansfield
Wellington #NZWOMANPOETS

Why is Grandpa in Jail?

We will teach our children justice. This is a beautiful story by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann for her son… and her Dad. If you are thinking, why go to protests? …why resist? the answers are here.

Radical Discipleship

33116241_10214353738810852_6880318968586829824_oBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I wrote this as a children’s book for Isaac during the Poor People’s Campaign. He was very concerned about why Grandpa kept going to jail when we were also teaching about how we dont believe in jails and prisons. So, I wrote this to try to explain it to him. We printed it out and he and Cedar and Ira and their friend helped illustrate it as a birthday gift to my dad.

Why is Grandpa in jail?
We don’t like jails. We think they shouldn’t exist.

If people make bad choices, there are better ways to help them be better.
Talking.
Caring.
Paying attention to what they need.
Teaching.
Loving.

Locking people up for years of their life only….
Takes them away from their families.
Makes people feel lonely.
Takes them away from the sun and the trees.

It is a broken, sad system.

So, why…

View original post 1,097 more words

Amelia Bedelia gets a job as a maid and, although she’s well-meaning and tries her best she gets everything wrong  (by following the instructions literally) and then is forgiven because she bakes.  

I see a lot of myself in her.

It’s dated, but I definitely identified with poor Amelia Bedelia getting things wrong all the time… like the time I said scathingly if I won Lotto I wouldn’t spend the money on a pool because it came from ‘a total prize pool of…’ obviously I’d already have a pool and want to send the money on something else.  Or when I was told what someones birthday present would be and entrusted to keep it secret, I could somehow never manage to keep the secret if they said they’d keep it too, somehow that made complete sense to me and I’d inevitably spoil the surprise. There was definitely a moratorium on telling me anything for a few <cough> years there.

The same way children delight in the seeming magic of the Knock, Knock joke. This was some of my first exposure to the idea of words having different meaning depending on your perspective because Amelia Bedelia wasn’t technically incorrect but was somehow always in the wrong… Oh Amelia Bedelia.

 

rubem Alves spiritual reading group Carmelite centre for spirituality middle park theopoetics

Was Rubem Alves a poet, psychoanalyst, theologian, or philosopher? Yes.

Somewhere beyond tidy definition and cataloguing “The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet” is an invitation to visit a place that you’ve been before but forgotten you knew.

In the same way the Eucharist is a poetic ritual of anthropophagy Rubem asks us to take in his words and be changed by them.

Gleanings shared with the Spiritual Reading Group at the Carmelite Centre, Middle Park –  19 June 2018.

 

In his article “An Anthropophagous Ritual, “ Rubem Alves wrote:

Anthropophagy is the eating of human flesh – cannibalism, something savage. But so-called savages don’t think so. A tribe of Brazilian Indians who practices anthropophagy justified it thus:  “You who call yourselves civilised don’t love your dead.  You made deep holes and bury them to be eaten by worms. We, on the other hand, love our dead. We don’t want them to be dead.  But they are dead! There is only one way to keep them alive: if we eat them. If we eat them, their flesh and blood continue to live on in our own bodies. 

Anthropophagy isn’t done for nutritional reasons. It isn’t a barbecue. It’s a magical ceremony.  It is believed that, by eating the dead, their virtues are incorporated into those who eat them. Psychoanalysts agree. They believe that our personality is formed by successive anthropophagus meals at which we devour a piece of one person, a piece of another… the Eucharist is a poetic ritual of anthropophagy: “This bread is my body; eat of it. This wine is my blood: drink of it.”

…that is what I wish. To be eaten.

 

rubem Alves theopoetics the poet, the warrior, the prophetRubem Alves died on the of 19 July 2014, aged 80 – almost exactly 4 years ago – this material we’re about to read was originally delivered at the 1990 Edward Cadbury Lectures in the University of Birmingham, segments of 8 talks given over two weeks and our invitation today is to read Alves work and take him in. Rubem Alves had a pretty extraordinary view of life and way of expressing that descriptively to others.

alves spider 1Alves spider 2

Although Stanley Hopper and David Miller are credited with coining the term theopoetics, and  Amos Wilder’s “Theopoetics: Theology and the Religious Imagination” is considered the seminal text of the field, Rubem Alves’ writing takes credit as a premium model of the style – combining theology and poetry.

Theopoetics is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines elements of narrative theology, poetic analysis, process theologyand postmodern philosophy.

Amos Wilder says: “Old words do not reach across the new gulfs, and it is only in vision and oracle that we can chart the unknown and new-name the creatures. Before the message there must be the vision, before the sermon, the hymn, before the prose, the poem.” Rubem calls us into an encounter of the Mystery of the Divine saying:

it’s not science that can explain this,
but our lived embodied experiences
.”

 

alves dead man 1Alves Dead Man 2Alves dead man 3

Rubem Alves was a forerunner of the liberation theology movement and key to the transformation of Christian social ethics in light of this thinking.  He was a writer, a psychoanalyst, a theologian, an educator, a storyteller, a poet…During his career, Alves collaborated with notable personalities such as Peter MaurinDorothy Day, and Paulo Freire. He was widely read and frequently included art and quotes from the work of others in confluence with his own including writers such as Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Tolstoi, e.e.cummings, Bonhoffer, and Sigmund Freud among others – 74 different references in these lectures alone… you gain from this a sense of a man who is listening to the world and taking it in. These lectures perhaps the map of some of Alves’ anthopophagus meals.  Alves was a prolific writer contributing over 100 books, some of these translated into six different languages, children’s books (“Happy Oysters Don’t Make Pearls”) and many articles on education, philosophy and religion.

alves prayer 1Alves prayer 2

Rubem Alves was born in a small rural town, Boa Esperança, Minas Gerais, of Brazil in1933. His father was once rich but went broke during the depression and his family had to move to Rio de Janeiro where he was seen as a “hick” from the country.  This crisis was also what led his family to the church as, unable to afford to send the children to school, the family accepted assistance from Presbyterian missionaries to get their children an education.  After high school Alves studied theology, doing outreach to factory workers, then returning to his home state to serve as a pastor amongst simple and poor people (1957).  His religion was practiced and interpreted from the perspective of the poor.  Less about sin, and more about love and freedom, Alves saw religion as a means to improve the world of the living rather than guaranteeing something to people once they’re dead.  Much of what resonates in his writing is the way he takes ordinary human things and makes them sacred. The honesty with which he does this, asks listeners to consider the truth of themselves and invites them to know that as wholeness.  He writes about bodies, love, death, food, communion – universal themes…  and he writes beautifully… believing:

“…the goal of our struggle for justice and all political struggles is for the world to be more beautiful.  Poverty is horrid, it’s ugly. Poverty is death, death of children, suffering. These are terrible things! They must end!”

In 1959, he married Lídia Nopper and they had three children together — Sergio, Marcos, and Raquel.   Through the 1960s, Alves alternated between service as a Presbyterian parish pastor and study as a graduate researcher in theology. Alves went to New York to do his Masters but flew back to Brazil following the US-supported military coup of 1964. The Presbyterian Church of Brazil chose six intellectuals as scapegoats and offered these names to the new military dictatorship to avert persecution themselves.  Immediately upon his return to Brazil, rather than being reunited with his wife and children, Alves had to go into hiding. With assistance from Brazilian Freemasons and the Presbyterian Church in the United Stateshe returned to the US covertly 8 weeks later and secured an invitation from Princeton Theological Seminary  to commence doctoral studies there – where he hated it – he was not allowed to write using similes or poetry and thought this writing his ugliest. Alves received the lowest possible grade that was still a pass for his PhD. ( A Theology of Human Hope. Washington: Corpus Books. Revised version of his doctorate thesis, originally titled Towards a Theology of Liberation.) Of this academic theological approach Alves commented:

“Theology is not a net that is woven in order to capture God in its meshes,
for God is not a fish but Wind that no one can hold.  

Theology is a net which we weave for ourselves so that
we may stretch out our body in it”

 

Alves babettes Feast 1Alves Babette's feast 2

When he eventually returned to Brazil in 1974, Rubem became a University Professor.  Having been expelled by the denomination he belonged to, Rubem (along with other communities and pastors) had a painful period of isolation and dispersion until 1978, when together they founded the National Federation of Presbyterian Churches which, from 1983 on was named the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU). Rubem made significant contribution to the founding documents of this new church and it was said of this work by The Rev. Sonia Gomes Mota: “He was not interested in giving us moral lessons or transmitting the absolute and indisputable truth. As a good theologian, philosopher and educator, he was more interested in making us think, reflect and question the immutable truths of theology and urged us to envision new possibilities and new ways of living our faith. Rubem led us to deserts and invited us to be gardeners and planters of hope.”

Born in a context of political and social oppression,preaching and teaching of God’s word as well as social programmes such as nurseries, sewing workshops, health centres, psychological services, and literacy courses are just a few examples of the integrated activities developed by these new church communities. They were the first Presbyterian church in Brazil to ordain women.

Alves once remarked,

“Prophets are not visionaries who announce a future that is coming. Prophets are poets who design a future that may happen. Poets suggest a way.”

Rubem Alves would go on to add psychotherapy to his portfolio and establish his own clinic. In later life, although he maintained a pastoral and prophetic touch with the people he encountered, Rubem’s association with institutional religion became more detached as he came to believe that space, that curiosity, that out of the “nothing” offered by poetry, more good could come than of liberation theology.

Alves unlearning

Eden’s egg

eggs by eden pham poem

Autumn Love dean brodel stardust poem

My Mum used to sing to us at bedtime, here’s a throw-back… and if you’re a bit over Twinkle Twinkle maybe you can add this to your repertoire… all bound for Morningtown, many miles away…

 

 

Train whistle blowin’
Makes a sleepy noise
Underneath the blankets
For all the girls and boys

Rockin’ rollin’ ridin’
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

Driver at the engine
Fireman rings the bell
Sandman swings the lantern
To show that all is well

Rockin’ rollin’ ridin’
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

Maybe it is raining
Where our train will ride
All the little travellers
Are warm and snug inside

Rocking, rolling, riding
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

Somewhere there is sunshine
Somewhere there is day
Somewhere there is Morningtown
Many miles away

Rocking, rolling, riding
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

Rocking, rolling, riding
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

Songwriter: M. Reynolds, performed here by The Seekers

 

 

fitzroy autumn black cat on the desk at the window looking out

Special guest: Jelly

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long have we tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in the wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.