On Sunday, May 8, we celebrated Mother’s Day. On that day, I was struck by what Heather Cox Richardson, an American history professor at Boston College, had to say about the history of the observation in her May 7 Letters from an American post heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-7-2022:
“If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.”
Richardson went on to say that it was Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who originally authored an Appeal to Women throughout the world to establish a “’festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines’ to be held around the world on June 2 of every year, a date that would permit open-air meetings.”
“For Howe, the Civil War had been traumatic, but that it led to emancipation might justify its terrible bloodshed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was another story. She remembered:
“’I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?”’
Abdu’l -Baha, the leader of the Baha’i Faith from 1892-1921 wrote: “Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battlefield after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.”
With wars still raging in our world, it seems very relevant for us to understand that the original “Mothers’ Day” movement was an appeal to women to bond together to demand an end to bloodshed. Empowering the women in our lives, honoring their voices and seeking paths to world peace indeed seems to me to be the best way to honor our mothers.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
The McLean Symphony is a musical gem, right here in Tysons! It is an all-volunteer orchestra, composed of musicians living primarily in Fairfax County – our own friends and neighbors. It is the only symphony in the immediate Tysons area, and this is a very special year for them.
During the summer of 1970, directors of McLean’s Academy of Musical Arts asked young local conductor Dingwall Fleary to organize an amateur, grass-roots orchestra in the McLean Community. The primary purpose was to provide talented, non-professional instrumentalists an opportunity to perform publicly as an ensemble or orchestra. Among the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters were Washington Post editor and McLean resident Robert Ames Alden, his wife Diane, news correspondent Roger Mudd, and his wife “E.J.”
The McLean Chamber Orchestra, as it was known in 1971, has grown from the original 18 musicians to nearly 60 players. The orchestra’s expansion has led to broader and more diverse symphonic repertoire and an opportunity to feature up-and-coming, as well as established solo artists primarily based in the metropolitan Washington area. In addition to local concerts, the orchestra has been invited to play at the Wolf Trap Farm Park, the Kennedy Center, and Strathmore Hall. Over the years, under the continued leadership and guidance of its founding director, the group has developed into an impressive aggregation that proudly bears the name, The McLean Symphony!
The McLean Symphony will be performing a 50th Anniversary celebratory concert on Saturday evening, April 9th at Capital One Hall. Nicole Lacroix, host of WETA Classical, will host this special event, featuring music of American composers. The program will include the Third Symphony, in C Minor, by Florence Price; the Second Piano Concerto, in D Minor, by Edward MacDowell, featuring extraordinary virtuoso soloist, Carlos Ibay; and the premiere of Creatures of Darkness and Light, by Virginia-based composer, Nikita Wells. Anyone who enjoys live orchestral music is in for a treat if they attend this concert on April 9.
Though the McLean Symphony is a volunteer organization, they do incur expenses for music licenses, logistics, and guest performers. Those expenses are offset through ticket sales and by generous donors. Tickets for the April 9th concert may be purchased through Ticketmaster or through this link: The McLean Symphony 50th Anniversary Concert (capitalonehall.com). For the discounted pricing available to Tysons Interfaith members, friends, and those reading this blog, use code TMSFRIEND.
[When you call up or see the event on the Ticketmaster page, click “Unlock.” Enter TMSFRIEND. Click “unlock” to the right of the passcode. Verify the number of tickets you want to purchase and complete your transaction.]
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
You are invited to “Pause for Peace” … to cause a “spiritual chain reaction!”
Just imagine if you invited everyone you know to invite everyone they know to “Pause for Peace” … just stop what they are doing for maybe 1 or 2 minutes (or more if they choose) and consciously choose to be peace. Their worlds will be transformed, and in the process, our whole world will experience a shift. Peace will prevail.
Our congregation at the Center for Spiritual Living Metro has chosen 12:00 noon each day plus any other time that the thought occurs, just “Pause for Peace.”
In addition, Tysons Interfaith invites you to immerse yourself for an hour in prayers and meditations for Peace from an array of traditions. This event will take place virtually on Sunday, April 3 beginning at 4:00 pm. To register, please visit: eventbrite.com
We hope you will join us as collectively we raise the consciousness of the world to Peace.
Next to Chanukah, Purim is probably the holiday to which Jewish children can most relate. There are costumes, carnivals and Hamentaschen (preserve filled cookies in the shape of a triangle). When the story is told, they get to make lots and lots of noise with groggers (twirling noise makers) in hand. But surely there is more to the holiday than that.
In the Hebrew bible, in Kethuvim (the Writings), appears the Book of Esther or Megillat Esther. In this short book, the story is related about a Persian king, who by historic timing might have been Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I. His first wife has the audacity to disobey him and she is banished. A call is put forth for a new wife and fair women from throughout the kingdom vie for this opportunity. Among them is Esther, a Jew. She wins the contest, but never reveals her background.
Concurrent with the wife plot is the plot of Haman who hates the Jews. Like generations before and after him, he couches his hatred by saying “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces in your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them”. (Esther 3:8).
Esther, from her position within, takes the risk of revealing her Jewishness to the king, and then exposes Haman’s plan to destroy her and her people. The king cancels Haman’s plans and Haman is executed.
Purim, like Chanukah, is traditionally viewed as a minor festival, but elevated to major holiday status as a result of the Jewish historical experience. Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every antisemitic leader in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
Looking for ways to help the Ukrainian people? The consensus is that cash donations made to organizations working on the ground is the best way to help.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and Tysons Interfaith cannot endorse any particular group, but the following links may be of assistance as you consider your options:
- The US Agency for International Development (USAID) provides a list of organizations responding in Ukraine: https://www.cidi.org/disaster-responses/ukraine-crisis/
- This NPR piece highlights a few organizations providing assistance: https://www.npr.org/2022/02/25/1082992947/ukraine-support-help
- The US State Department has partnered with GoFundMe to raise funds to address the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. All donations raised will be distributed to verified nonprofit organizations supporting vulnerable communities to obtain access to shelter, food, medical services, education, and psychosocial support, as well as other people impacted https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukraine-humanitarian-fund
- St Andrew Ukranian Orthodox Cathedral in DC is collecting medical supplies and other items through an Amazon wishlist that they are distributing to people on the ground in Ukraine. MOST IMPORTANT THINGS NEEDED: Medical Supply (bandaids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, etc). NO LIQUIDS, NO BATTERIES, NO CLOTHING, NO MILITARY COMBAT EQUIPMENT, NO DIAPERS. Order on amazon and/or deliver to: 15100 New Hampshire Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20905 Wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2ADMR0OG6MBVX?ref=cm_sw_sm_r_un_un_m4ZOH13VxHHyO
- World Central Kitchen, founded by Chef José Andrés, is responding: https://wck.org/
- Lutheran World Relief is working in Eastern Europe: https://donate.lwr.org/give/393187
- Episcopal Relief and Development has established a Ukraine Crisis Response, Fund, working with organizations on the ground in Europe: https://support.episcopalrelief.org/ukraineresponse
Finally, people of good will of different faith traditions are joining together to call for peace in the region. An example of this united voice can be found here: https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8131
Its origins date back to 1925, but since 1976 every President of the United States has proclaimed February to be Black History Month in acknowledgment of the often-underappreciated contributions African Americans have made to our country. (Black History Month) The resources available to explore this rich history – on various online and streaming services, in libraries, and in schools — have never been better, but the need to explore and understand them is just as urgent.
As the Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., Canon Missioner and Minister of Equity and Inclusion at the Washington National Cathedral puts it:
“Yes, Black History Month is about the past, but it must also be about our present, as well as the future we hope to forge, together, as Americans.” He notes that one theme chosen for 2022, that of Black Health and Wellness, is “a way to celebrate all the ways African Americans have touched our bodies and souls, whether as essential workers, front-line health providers or in small ways to promote wellness.” And he urges us to consider the “racial and economic disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic” and to “follow the guidance of those who, throughout history, have challenged us to imagine something different, something better.” https://cathedral.org/press-room/black-history-month-is-about-so-much-more-than-our-history/
Fairfax County has also prepared a number of opportunities for residents to get involved in Black History Month, focusing on collecting stories from current and former residents and providing resources to students to engage in project-based learning activities and the county’s historical marker program.
The Fairfax County Black History Month Program will be streamed live on Friday, February 11th from 7pm-8pm on Channel 16.
The link to the live stream is: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cableconsumer/channel-16/stream.
This year’s theme is:
The Black/African American Experience Project. This is a joint effort among Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), History Commission, and Neighborhood and Community Services. There are three parts of this effort: collecting stories, project-based learning, and historical markers.
The Historical Marker Project: will initially focus on the Black/African American experience and all students from K-12 (public, private, homeschooled etc.), classrooms and community youth groups can submit ideas for new Historical Markers throughout Fairfax County. The Historical Markers can commemorate an event, person, or location of historical significance within the county. Submissions are being accepted from February 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022. Students can learn more about the project, submission guidelines, and access links to resources at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/topics/historical-marker-project.
Project- Based Learning: As part of project-based learning, FCPS will provide resources to support students in researching untold local stories of Black/African Americans and groups who have impacted our community. FCPS has also provided resources that have been published at https://www.fcps.edu/news/fcps-launches-historical-marker-project-highlight-untold-stories-countys-african-american for equitable access to students who are not enrolled in FCPS schools.
Collecting Stories: As part of the effort to increase the visibility of Black/African American experiences in the county, Neighborhood and Community Services is asking current and former county residents to share their stories. We are collecting stories about your family, community, church (faith community), cultural, educational, justice, innovation, or housing experiences. There are two ways that stories are being collected. You can complete the African American Experiences submission form on their website: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/topics/black-african-american-stories or you can share your oral history on video by making an appointment with their computer clubhouse technicians to have your stories recorded. Those interested can email email@example.com to set up an appointment. These stories will support the project-based learning at Fairfax County Public Schools, help build a racial history timeline and increase the visibility of Black/African American contributions to the county.
Finally, here is a link to discover twenty ways to celebrate and experience Black History Month in the DC Metro area:
As we enter fall and winter months, have you been thinking about starting or joining a book club? Here are reflections from a book club at my church on books they read on an important topic and how they went about organizing their book club.
Over the past year, a group of Redeemer Lutheran members met to read and discuss books focusing on social justice. One member volunteered to set up the zoom meetings and then summarized the discussion in an email back to the group before the next meeting. The emails deepened their experience and helped them retain important parts of the books. They met weekly and discussed assigned chapters of the books and found this pattern allowed them to discuss the contents more thoroughly.
They are sharing their experiences with the congregation, first by providing a list of the books they read. They are also building a lending library they hope to offer soon.
Here is a list of the books they explored together, with a brief description:
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson: May have been the most influential book our group read in that it challenged us to think about how our entire social structure is an unrecognized caste system.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem: Written by a licensed clinical social worker who explores the complex effects of racism and white privilege on all races. Provided many exercises to work through our own reactions to racial trauma.
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King: The winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction: A historical account of how Thurgood Marshall (before he became a Supreme Court Justice) and the NAACP brought civil rights cases to courts throughout the country. It highlighted the huge legal challenges that took place to correct injustices, how fragile some of those victories were, and how it could have all gone wrong.
His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham: A biography of John Lewis. We were moved by his unwavering bravery and commitment to civil rights, as well as his deep Christian faith.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A moving account of how a young man felt about growing up Black in America, written in the form of a letter to his young son.
Dear Church, a love letter from a Black Preacher to the whitest Denomination in America (ELCA) by Lenny Duncan: A very challenging book which made us consider our own implicit racism and what our responsibility might be to address it in our church and in our neighborhoods.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: Our only novel. It introduced the subject of colorism and what sacrifices people make to integrate into the dominant society and what it costs to leave your family behind.
I am grateful to the members of my church for sharing their experience. I’ll be picking up a couple of these titles soon.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly declaration “International Day of Peace.” The purpose of the International Day of Peace was and still remains, to strengthen the ideals of peace around the world.
In 2001, September 21st was set as the annual day of commemoration – not only as a time to discuss how to promote and maintain peace among all peoples but most remarkably, as an annual 24-hour period of global ceasefire and non-violence for groups in active combat. https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace
The International Day of Peace reminds us of our commonalities. Regardless of where we come from or what languages we speak, we are more alike than we are different. Honoring those commonalities makes peace possible. Life is better in a world where peace exists. We draw on the wisdom and experience of the peacemakers and peacekeepers to learn how we can individually and collectively be catalysts for peace – how we can manifest a world that works for everyone, everywhere. Nations and communities around the world struggle with poverty and disease, severely limited access to education and healthcare, particularly in areas where violence is common.
There is something here much bigger than our day-to-day routines. We have the opportunity to transform the world so that our loved ones can live in sustainable peace. To achieve this we are called to step outside our comfort zones. Until we are willing to soften our own perspectives so we can catch a glimpse of someone else’s experience, peace will remain beyond our reach.
Peace is possible. The impact of each small act is immense. Imagine: If we were all simply kind and respectful of one another, how different life would be. We can all contribute to the worldwide culture of peace through generosity of spirit, prayer, advocacy, education and ensuring access to clean water and health resources. Every small effort makes a difference.
Throughout history, dating back to the Peace of God (989 AD) and Truce of God (1027 AD) we see movements that arose from the desire to curb violence by limiting the days and times nobility could practice violence. Most societies have lived in peace most of the time. Today, we are much less likely to die in war than our parents or grandparents. Since the establishment of the United Nations and the creation of the Charter of the United Nations, governments are obligated not to use force against others unless they are acting in self-defense or have been authorized by the UN Security Council to proceed.
Centers for Spiritual Living selected United Nations International Day of Peace in 2016, to conduct a ceremony at the Home Office in Golden, Colorado, to dedicate a Peace Pole and to formally recognize the Collective Meditation for Peace Initiative as an integral and essential element of our organization. The Heart of Peace Initiative coordinates weekly online Collective Peace Meditations and numerous events throughout the year.
At a Centers for Spiritual Living event in 2016, Rev. Dr. Kenn Gordon reminded everyone that every day must be dedicated to peace – that the consciousness of humanity must be uplifted to abiding in and as peace moment by moment. As he said, a Peace Pole is a material replica of the intention that has brought it into form, just as the actions we take demonstrate Spirit’s call to do our part to manifest a world that works for everyone. World peace is a product of what is in the hearts of individuals. To achieve world peace, we must begin with the individual. In order for us to experience and express peace, we must first reveal that peace from within us – to remove all obstacles to the free flow of peace and love.
Religious Science has always been a powerful presence for peace, a core attribute of our philosophy of Oneness. As Dr. Ernest Holmes explained in Spiritual Awareness, “When we become conscious of our existence as an idea in the Mind of God, we shall find that we are walking in pathways of peace; that something within us acts like a magnet to attract that which belongs to itself. This something is Love, the supreme impulsion of the universe.”
Today more than any other time in history, peace relies on the commitment to not only achieve equality, but to secure equity for all persons – to fulfill our vision of a world that works for everyone, everywhere.
With the desperate situations in Afghanistan and Haiti, many are asking how they can help people in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees, as well as the people of Haiti struggling to recover from the recent devastating earthquake. The following list of resources has been compiled from suggestions offered by Tysons Interfaith contributors:
LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES: The leading resettlement agency resettling refugees in the DMV area that is already in the process of resettling hundreds of recently arrived Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, working with local nonprofit groups — they need financial donations, volunteers for apartment setup, transportation, tutoring, advocacy, and more. See https://lssnca.org/take_action/afghan-allies.html
LUTHERAN IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE SERVICES: See https://www.lirs.org/
CATHOLIC CHARITIES DIOCESE OF ARLINGTON COUNTY: Doing work in the DMV. See https://www.ccda.net/need-help/immigrants-and-refugees/migration-and-refugee-services/
ETHIOPIAN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: Also doing work in the DMV. See https://www.ecdcus.org/
HIAS: formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS has been working in the U.S. and around the world for 130 years on refugee resettlement and advocacy — now seeking financial assistance, advocates, and volunteers to provide housing for newly arrived Afghan families. See https://www.hias.org/crisis-afghanistan-how-you-can-help
INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: another leading refugee resettlement agency, resettling refugees in the Baltimore area and elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world – see https://help.rescue.org/donate/afghanistan
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: providing medical care for the neediest people in the toughest places around the world, including 5 still-operating projects in Afghanistan – see Afghanistan | How to Help & FAQs | Doctors Without Borders
NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: the only nation-wide association of wartime allies in the US dedicated to ensuring that America keeps its promise to our interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan, now trying, among other things, to charter planes to rescue Afghan refugees. See https://nooneleft.org/default.aspx?
INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ( IRAP): a leading organization, headquartered in New York, involved in litigation and advocacy on behalf of refugees across the United States. See https://refugeerights.org/
WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL: https://support.womenforwomen.org/donate/afghanistan-emergency-2x-match?src=HHUA21082A
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE: another leading refugee resettlement agency, run by U.S. churches for over 70 years, involved in advocacy as well as refugee resettlement around the world. See https://cwsglobal.org/learn/refugees-and-immigrants/
Many faith-based organizations are sending resources to Haiti, so you may wish to check with your local faith-based organization for additional information.
Also, the following NPR article explains precautions to take when donating and provides links to lists of organizations doing work in Haiti. https://www.npr.org/2021/08/17/1028421310/haiti-earthquake-how-to-help.
A recent survey of religion in America provides some granularity when it comes to the so-called decline in religiosity in these United States. Survey: White Mainline Protestants Outnumber White Evangelicals
The data show that contrary to other research, the percentage of Americans identifying with formal denominations is on a rebound from a low in 2018. Is this good news? Well, there’s a lot to be said for maintaining a skeptical attitude about formal religion. And yet, at the same time, this modest (re)turning to organized religion may be a response to the spiritual void that “mass society” represents.
Philosopher, and deeply agnostic, Hannah Arendt, summed up “mass society” thus:
All of the features, however, that mass psychology has by now identified as typical of man in mass society: his abandonment (Verlassenheit—and this abandonment is neither isolation nor solitude), along with his utmost adaptability; his irritability and lack of support; his extraordinary capacity for consumption (if not gluttony), along with his utter inability to judge qualities or even to discern them; but most of all his egocentrism and the fatal alienation from the world that he mistakes for self-alienation (this, too, dates back to Rousseau)—all of this first manifested itself in “good society,” which does not have a mass character. The first people of the new mass society, one might say, constituted a mass to such a small degree (in a quantitative sense) that they were actually able to consider themselves an elite.
One could argue that, with a few exceptions in Northern Europe, Americans represent the elites of the world. We are enmeshed in the ills outlined in this dense paragraph from Arendt’s critique of mass society, and it is natural to crave for some sort of spiritual solace. Most of us in Tysons Interfaith would probably quibble with the word “solace,” because that seems like a psychological cop out. Our faith traditions emphasize the Platonic world view that ideals, like good and evil, are real.
I believe that the beauty of religious worship is its communality. Megachurches excepted, most worship takes place in an intimate setting where loving relationships can be forged between individuals of different backgrounds and tendencies. This is what I experience in my faith community and with my participation in Tysons Interfaith. If you want to read about communality in action, I recommend to you the life of Gordon Crosby, who bucked the trend of bigness and put social responsibility front and center in his theology. Rebel pastor Gordon Cosby left lasting mark on mainstream Christianity – The Washington Post.