A Brand New Day

“on grounds”

“All I ask is no hate.  I’m on the path to be a minister and I’m living a life that is dedicated to love.  Although I draw much of my own personal theology from Christian teaching, I recognize that my way is not the only way.  Every faith base has something to offer to the conversation and I welcome engaging you all on a variety of topics…volatile and not.

So here goes, laying it out there and looking forward to hearing from you all…

Adam” – July 18, 2012 – https://spirituwellness.com/2012/07/18/hello-world/

That is how I began this blog 10 years ago.  I stand by those words and I continue to build on them.  Not only am I now an ordained member of clergy, I have just completed 5 important years as the Lead Minister of the historic First Parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalist congregation as well as being a chaplain and instructor at Harvard.  I have been involved in community and worked hard to get my church through a global pandemic, the presidency of Donald Trump and the early throes of a long overdue racial awakening in the United States.

And now a new chapter begins.  Today, I leave for Charlottesville, VA where I will begin studying at the University of Virginia for a PhD in Ethics and Society focused on the intersection of equity, religion and embodiment.  This is literally the dream of a lifetime for me and the culmination of the last 10 years of work, study, practice and exploration.

I have not shared this publicly with many people, both friends and family and I offer my apologies to all of you who are a caught off guard by the news.  I’ve kept mum because this has also been an extremely emotional time. To take a career crowning situation like the one I’ve been fortunate to have in Cambridge for the last 5 years and totally upend it to go back to the bottom of yet another mountain is daunting.  Yet, while this has been both the most difficult decision, it has been the most grown up and true decision I’ve ever made.  I recognize that the path ahead is not easy from an academic standpoint, and I am even more aware that with the state of religion today, particularly where it manifests in politics and policy, I am walking into the fire.  By situating myself in Virginia…in Charlottesville…I am in the belly of the beast.  And it is where I most want to be.

So here goes, once again, I’m laying it out there, dedicated to a public life rooted in love, eager to find new understanding and possibilities in myself and to help a better world emerge for us all.

Peace,

Adam

When I visited Charlottesville in 2019, seeing the resting place of enslaved black ancestors (not mine), next to Jefferson’s palatial tribute to himself demonstrated a foundational national inequity that told me I needed to come back here someday and figure out how to do something.

A United State of Inequity

The most inequitable activity on the planet is the continued erasure of women’s agency to their full humanity.  We see this in rape as a weapon and as a result of political conflict or as an expression of cultural class dominance. We see it in obstructing women from education. We see it when weaponized religion becomes policy as in the current religiously driven overturn of a woman’s right to an abortion in the United States.

The most inequitable thing on the planet is a gun.  It weaponizes human impulse like no other implement can.  When guns are supercharged like our current assault weapons available to everyday citizens, they become tools of personal genocide.

The most inequitable system of governance is democracy beholden to and guided by capitalism.  In such a system, the only winners are people who can afford to be in the system where the group in charge keeps itself intentionally small.  It was that way in 1789; it is that way today.

The most inequitable document in modern use is the original United States Constitution.  Written entirely by men, some of whom held human beings in hereditary slavery.  Some of these men created more wealth through rape, creating new owned offspring.  The Constitution was designed based on their flawed and limited understandings of ethics, faith, justice and “enlightenment.”  The Constitution was designed to both privilege and excuse their ignorance and brutality.

This is a United State of Inequity.

We cannot retrofit equity.  Equity cannot be an overlay. Equity needs to be more than “at the heart”…it needs to be at the beginning…the foundation…the cornerstone.  The original intention must be equity for equity to be achieved.

And then again, maybe we don’t want equity.  Maybe our culture, that seems so addicted to competition, only wants winners and losers.  Maybe our culture has to be made of haves and have nots.  Maybe we only want religion that functions as a barrier and not as an embrace.  Maybe we are so accustomed to looking for “first” class we don’t recognize that a “first” always implies that there is a “second.”  Maybe we don’t want equity.

In order to come even close to the beloved community we so often talk about, that we toss off like a throwaway when we preach or advocate for those “less fortunate”, we must first commit to equity.  That commitment asks us to be fully willing to make the public statements and decisions that will require giving up some if not all of the “good life” we have been accustomed to.  We have to be willing to go back to square one and question what it is we are willing to actually fight for.  We have to believe it is possible, or it will never come to pass.

Most of all, we must understand that the price of equity is not more than any of us can afford.  Because ultimately, equity is something none of us can afford to live without.

-ALD