Open our doors to refugees

welcome_refugees_statement_graphic

I welcome this message from the Rev. Peter Morales.

I call on all governors to open their hearts to these refugees who are escaping the same terrorists we are trying to destroy. This is a time for compassion, not for fear, for building friendships, not creating more enemies. It is a time for love.

I’d take away the guns

I’m sick of gun violence and I’m sick of our fear of talking about guns. We are more terrified of challenging the NRA than we are of the home-grown terrorists who are gunning-down innocent people year after year in this country.

According to Mother Jones, “Since 1982, there have been at least 60 mass murders  carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii.” If you want to be reminded of this grizzly history, check out the story where they have mapped them, “including details on the shooters’ identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

And that doesn’t include “incidents” like the attack on Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN (July 27, 2008) because only two people actually died in that assault on a Sunday Morning worship service (http://www.uua.org/news/knoxville/index.shtml). It takes killing at least four to qualify as a mass murder.

I no longer can sit idly by while students, elected officials, movie-goers, church members, and countless others are victimized by a gun lobby that continues to assert that guns have nothing to do with the violence. Yes, we have bigger societal problems to address before killing is stopped and yes, without access to legal weapons (75% of mass murders are committed with legally-obtained firearms), IEDs might become the weapons of choice, but we have to start with the obvious.

In Cheryl Wheelers’ 1987 anthem, “If It Were Up To Me,” which she wrote after the Jonesboro schoolyard shooting incident (http://www.cherylwheeler.com/songs/iiwutm.html), she posits,

Maybe it’s the movies, maybe it’s the books

Maybe it’s the bullets, maybe it’s the real crooks

Maybe it’s the drugs, maybe it’s the parents

Maybe it’s the colors everybody’s wearin

Maybe it’s the President, maybe it’s the last one

And the list goes on. But after all the possible causes, she ends with:

Maybe it’s the end, but I know one thing.

If it were up to me, I’d take away the guns.

Today, I can say with complete clarify, if it were up to me, I, too, would take away the guns.

The faces of hell

New essay: The Faces of Hell, published by The Other Journal: an Intersection of Theology and Culture.

On July 28, 2008, I received a call that changed everything. In reality, it was multiple calls and text messages urgently alerting me to the news that there had been a shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Sign at TVUUC with balloons, flowers, and notes after July 28, 2008 shooting
Photo by Karen Krogh

As District Executive of the Southeast District of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), I immediately hopped on a plane and went there to assist in whatever way I could. With the help of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, a number of local agencies, and the generous donations of hundreds of Unitarian Universalists, congregations, and others, the members of the congregation received immediate and ongoing trauma support to help them heal from this senseless act of violence.

The Reverend William Sinkford, then president of the UUA, was so inspired by the courage and love he witnessed by the members of the TVUUC congregation that, with the help of the Reverend Meg Riley, he launched the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign. This campaign has gone on to inspire thousands of people to live our faith through love into the world.

But this tragedy also caused me, and I’m sure others who were affected by this horrific act of violence, to examine another of one of the most fundamental religious questions: the nature of hell. Recently, The Other Journal: An Intersection of Theology and Culture, a publication of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, published an essay I wrote called The Faces of Hell that explores this question as it relates to the shooting at TVUUC. I hope you’ll read it and share your thoughts and reflections.

TVUUC has come a long way since that tragic day in 2008. Through their care of each other, their openness to care from others, and their boundless love of all people, they have done much healing over the past four years. However, not a day goes by in which I don’t send this congregation the continued healing energy of the universe. Please offer them your thoughts and prayers also.

For more about the shooting and the response, please visit Unitarian Universalists Respond to Tragedy in Knoxville.

The women of Katrina

Women of Katrina book cover

I am honored to announce that excerpts from my online journal, originally published on the Unitarian Universalist Association website, www.uua.org, are included in a new publicationThe Women of Katrina book cover from Vanderbilt University Press, The Women of Katrina: How Gender, Race, and Class Matter in an American Disaster, edited by Emmanuel David and Elaine Enarson. My journal was about my experiences working as a mental health volunteer in an American Red Cross emergency shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the days and weeks following  Hurricane Katrina. To read all of my entries, please visit “A Personal View of Disaster: The Diary of Annette Marquis

Description of The Women of Katrina: The transformative event known as “Katrina” exposed long-standing social inequalities. While debates rage about race and class relations in New Orleans and the Katrina diaspora, gender remains curiously absent from public discourse and scholarly analysis. This volume draws on original research and firsthand narratives from women in diverse economic, political, ethnic, and geographic contexts to portray pre-Katrina vulnerabilities, gender concerns in post-disaster housing and assistance, and women’s collective struggles to recover from this catastrophe.

I’d love to hear your stories of Katrina. What did you learn from work you have done post-Katrina?