How Faith Communities Upend the Status Quo

The concept of Pillars of Support was developed by civil resistance trainers who realized that the military, schools, civil service and courts, business community, churches, and media, are some of the main pillars that give structural stability to the status quo.  If enough of these institutions pull their support, the system will collapse, and the movements will succeed.

Mark Engler, author of This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, writes:

In a democratic society, the result of the pillars falling might not be a change of regime, and yet the results can be just as profound: the removal of social supports for the status quo can mean the end of a system such as Jim Crow segregation, for example.

The pillars allow for better strategic thinking on the part of those trying to force change. Activists can more clearly predict what it will take for a regime to fall. They can scheme about how they might undermine one or more of the various sources of social support for the system—removing the backing of the clergy, for example, or prodding the press to adopt a more critical posture—and thus place the rulers on an ever-wobblier foundation.

I partner with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to lead Sacred Activism workshops, because I love to help people experience our interconnectedness, and tap into their inherent gifts so that they can be joyous stewards of creation. I also believe in GIPL’s mission of engaging communities of faith in creation care, because history has shown the power and efficacy of religious institutions when they challenge the status quo.

If we advocate for a world where people and the planet are factored into policies at least as much as profits, we will co-create a sustainable, peaceful, and equitable future where all beings can thrive.

The Great Turning

In the past two days, think of what you have turned your attention from, and what you have turned your attention towards. If you are like me, you have turned away from yet another school shooting, at least the twentieth school shooting just this year! I did not turn away out of apathy, but rather because of extreme frustration, anger, and fear about the world my children are growing up in.

On March 24, 2018, I went to the March for Our Lives in Atlanta with my son and some of our friends and it felt like the tide was starting to turn towards putting lives first and enacting common sense gun laws. But since the march, four more school shootings have taken place, in addition to the US national average of 96 people a day! who are killed with guns.

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When Spirit Meets Action

During this time of growing uncertainty, as climate catastrophe looms, and the inequality and dysfunction of social and political systems are exposed, it is more important than ever be in a supportive community which inspires creativity, courage, and collective action.

I am so grateful that I, in conjunction with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL), have had the opportunity in 2017 to bring the Active Hope Workshop, based on The Work that Reconnects by Joanna Macy, to the following faith and environmental communities:

Emerson, Georgia Mountains, Northwest, and Gwinnett Unitarian Universalist Congregations, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Unity Atlanta, The Yoga Source, Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta, Friends Meeting in Birmingham, Get off the Grid Fest, Carrollton Water Keepers, Georgia Sierra Club, and Emory CREATE Conference.

In addition to helping participants come away feeling, “Hopeful, empowered, renewed, and encouraged,” the Four Directions Fund at GIPL allows us to support projects that are either conceived of, or clarified as a result of the Active Hope Workshop. We have been delighted to support the following projects:

Guardians of Gaia Production

Our Watersheds, Our Lives: A Community Celebration in Carrollton

Sunflower Planting for Soil Remediation

Tree Plantings in Yahoola Creek Park and in Guatemala

Butterfly Garden at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in LaGrange

Building and Installing Bat Houses with Youth Groups in North Georgia Read More