Silicon Valley and the Congo

Please consider joining me in donating to ERD. I am part of the Episcopal-Anglican Congo Network that coordinates information and support for the DRC. Violent militia raids against villages are common – causing people to flee to the relative safety of one of 60 internal refugee camps. Covid-19 and Ebola are active.

Think this has nothing to do with you? Congo produces 60% of the world’s cobalt, used to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, laptops, and smartphones. We in the Silicon Valley helped to create this mess. Let’s work to solve it. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is coordinating much-needed aid. What ERD does: “Episcopal Relief & Development works in collaboration with church partners and other local organizations to facilitate healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities that are struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease.”

Recent stories from the Congo:

Not all the news is bad, some Silicon Valley companies are working on recycling as an alternate solution to the problem of needing Congo’s  cobalt. For example: “Daisy is Apple’s new iPhone-recycling robot” (The Verge, 19 April 2018)

The Congo Network is chaired by the Rev. David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel, Ministries Beyond the Episcopal Church.

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Poems by Mohja Kahf

I recommend to you the poems of Dr. Mohja Kahf, whom you may know as the author of “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears.” Poet and scholar Mohja Kahf was born in Damascus, Syria. Her family moved to the United States in 1971, and Kahf grew up in the Midwest. She earned a PhD in comparative literature from Rutgers University. Her remarkable poetry books are:

We read Kahf’s poem “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet…” every term in the weekly classes I lead in Santa Clara County jail. It is one of the most popular selections in our Transforming Literature of the Bible course at Elmwood Jail. We read the poem to complement the story of Joseph in Egypt, as part of a discussion on being a bridge between cultures (Genesis 37-50). Volunteer jail chaplains are locked out now because of the Covid-19 quarantine but I look forward to returning. I miss my students!

In Hagar Poems, I found this one which seems very appropriate for the conversations our country is having now:

“Most Wanted”
by Mohja Kahf

Warning: God has slipped the noose.
We must confirm the worst
of our righteous fears –
God has escaped the mosque,
the synagogue, the church
where we’ve locked up God for years.

God is on the loose.

Henceforth beware:
You may find God in heathen beauty.
You may stumble upon God unaware.
Take appropriate measures:
You may have to behave
as if each human being
could reflect God’s face.

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Image Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

 

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New Sewing Machine

Since it seems that Covid-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, I bought a new sewing machine. Every time I wanted to make a face mask, or hem some pants, my old one would jam – even after having it repaired. So, John and I did some research and bought a Singer CG590 Commercial Grade Sewing Machine.

I used it yesterday to make four more face masks and hem two pairs of pants. It works very well – even sewing through several layers of denim. I decided I did not need any fancy stitches because in twenty years I never used those features on my old machine. (How many times do you really need to embroider ducks?) Straight, zigzag, and button hole are enough for me. Other than wanting the person who created the threading instructions to go to remedial art school, I am happy with my purchase! It is very similar to the machines I used in my high school sewing class – sturdy, simple, and heavy.

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Leading by Example

On Facebook, I have been posting stories which demonstrate leading by example. I disagree with Sharon Keating’s assessment in her Buzzfeed article yesterday, “Stop Sharing Viral Photos Of Cops Kneeling With Protesters”, in which she writes, “This movement is not about individuals.”  Systemic evil like our country’s racism and violence toward people of color was built up one person at a time. I believe this toxic system can only be torn down by each of us honoring each other’s importance as an individual, a valued and loved child of God. A moment of humble solidarity is important, is something we can build on and celebrate. Even though they may not last, I will continue to share those moments of leadership.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)

Facebook Posts on Leading by Example

Dee Alcott-Rogriguez post 5 June 2020

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Thanks to the Rev. Peggy Bryan for the “Faith can move mountains…” image!

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Theodicy Meme

camper Jesus meme 5 June 2020
I love a good meme, so finding one on theodicy is a special treat. (“Theodicy means vindication of God. It is to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil.” – Theodicy in Wikipedia) The image base of Jesus sitting on a park bench, talking with a young man has been used for two memes I particularly like:

  • 24 March 2020: Man: “Facebook?” Jesus: “No, I literally want you to follow me.” Man: “So… Twitter?” Jesus: “I’m going to start over again and you can let me know where I lose you.”
  • 5 June 2020: Man: “So why do you allow things like hate, famine, war, suffering, disease, crime, homelessness, despair, etc. to exist in our world?” Jesus: “Interesting that you should ask because I was about to ask you the exact same question.”

The blank image can be found on imgflip if you want to make a meme yourself.

I have studied Christian Theology for two years at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and hope to finish my Master’s thesis by the end of this year. I also start work on my Certificate in Interreligious Chaplaincy in September, with a focus on Islamic Studies. My thesis topic is jail chaplaincy, so theodicy is of particular interest. Although theology has not been considered the “Queen of the Sciences” since the High Middle Ages, having the opportunity to gain understanding and inspiration from classes such as “God and Suffering” and “Christian Theology and Natural Science” has been an honor and privilege. Still, I appreciate a little levity on these weighty subjects.

camper Jesus meme 24 March 2020

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New Music for Quarantine Times

My husband John Plocher is not musical but during the COVID-19 quarantine, he has been helping others to sing. John has been recording and broadcasting our regular church services from the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church choir loft for years (with backup from the talented teens of the Youth Group whom he has been mentoring). During the quarantine, John used the skills and equipment he had put together to help St. Andrew’s clergy shift into a weekly service online. Music has always been a huge part of our parish community life, so John has created online music with choir directors Leroy Kromm, and David Howard-Pitney, and the inspiring parish symphony and folk choirs, singers, and instrumentalists.

John recently published a new website: Saint Andrew’s Sings – where the classical and folk music videos are posted each week. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. (I am very proud of John – can you tell?)

“St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Saratoga, CA has a strong musical tradition that continues even as we isolate ourselves during these Inside Times. This is a collection of instrumental and choral works, folk music, meditations and solo performances – all recorded “solo” during the corona virus quarantine and produced virtually, for your enjoyment and the glory of God.”

Other choirs and singers around the world have also been creating new music for quarantine times. Some of those I have enjoyed:

John Plocher video January 2020

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Image Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

Updated with new link 30 May 2020

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Congratulations on EfM Graduation, Joel Martinez!

EfM Education for Ministry seminar online 30 March2020EfM Class Meeting Online, April 2020

Since we could not honor Joel Martinez in-person while under COVID-19 quarantine, we celebrated online. Congratulations to Joel Martinez for his graduation after four years of study from Education for Ministry – so proud of him! In addition to taking the regular EfM program, Joel was my Co-Mentor for three years at Elmwood Jail. To do this work, he became an accredited EfM Mentor and volunteer for the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy. Joel took Year-1 at our home church (with me and my Co-Mentor, Karen LeBlanc), Year-2 and Year-3 in jail while serving as a volunteer chaplain with me as his Mentor, and Year-4 back at our home church (with Karen and me as Mentors).

2017 Bishop Mary, Peggy Bryan, Joel Martinez, Katy Dickinson at Elmwood Jail 2017 Elmwood Jail: Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Rev. Peggy Bryan, Joel and Katy

As his EfM Administrative Mentor, I would usually make this presentation in front of the whole congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church but thanks to technology and my geek husband, John Plocher, we were able to celebrate together in a video segment during the regular weekly service. John even created this stand-alone video.

Contact me if you want to learn more about the EfM class that starts in September. More about EfM in the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real. Our 2019-2020 EfM class held its closing session last night but we are taking signups for the seminar that starts in September 2020. We will meet in person or online as appropriate. More about EfM:

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a program of the University of the South – School of Theology, a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 100,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together.

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Images Copyright 2017 – 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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