Tag Archive for social change

So You Say You Want a Revolution?

Social Change Workshop is Modeled After Jesus’ Ministry

First United Methodist Church of Boulder (FUMC) is thrilled to welcome their newest Theologian-in-Residence, Dr. Dorothee Benz, who is offering two FREE workshops to the public on making social change on Saturday July 20th and 27th. The workshops, titled, Power, Protest, Progress: How to Change the World in Two Easy Lessons explore the characteristics of successful social movements and analyze what gives ordinary people the power to make real change happen. “Jesus was all about making social change happen, but following him can be a little daunting – few of us can walk on water or feed 5,000 people. In this class we’ll take a fresh look at Jesus’ ministry and uncover ways in which his most humble acts, like talking to the woman at the well or touching lepers, were more transformative than the flashy fish type miracles and how we can be agents of change in our world today in the same ways”, explains Benz.

Participants will gain an understanding of power based on the writings of scholar-activist Frances Fox Piven, and will draw on examples from the labor movement, the civil rights movement and the Bible.

Reverend Joe Agne, pastor at FUMC says “Benz will help all of us who want to move beyond charity to creating social change – she teaches ways that work. Persons working on fracking, hunger, racism, marriage equality, gun control etc. will find these workshops to be extremely beneficial to their work.”

Dr. Benz is a lifelong activist and organizer. Professionally, she has 25 years experience in social justice communications, and her work as a labor journalist has won numerous awards. She is currently the director of communications at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Benz has a Ph.D. from the City University of New York and her scholarly expertise is in social movements. She is a founding member and chair of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) and one of the architects of the current strategy to transcend the crisis caused by the United Methodist Church’s discrimination against LGBTQ people by organizing networks of clergy and laity to extend their ministries to all couples, gay and straight, on an equal basis in defiance of the rules. She is the winner of the 2012 Gwen and C. Dale White Award from the NY Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Visit fumcboulder.org for more details.

Status Quo vs Change

I am constantly bewildered by our lack of interest in social change. It is clear to me that critical thinking or even common sense is of little importance. I am not talking about the natural kindness of most Americans, but the advertised model that everyone buys into and which is controlled by groups like the National Rifle Association, American Medical Association, NBA and other powerful lobbying organizations. As a progressive, I am constantly frustrated by the general public attitude of non-concern over being manipulated by the powerful few.

No matter what the issue is (gun control, health care, election reform or monetary reform) there appears to be this roadblock promoted by money, power and greed. The public has been conditioned to accept the status quo, whether out of self-interest, fear or apathy. Questioning our image is not a popular endeavor. After all people like to hear positive statements even if they know they are only superficial. Americans want quick fixes and dislike delving into root causes or upsetting popular perceptions.

The recent mass murder in Aurora is only one example of America’s infatuation with pretense; obsessed with individuality and freedom of choice. It appears we can’t have discussions about substantive issues or look objectively at other developed countries solutions to social problems. Our rationale for not embracing change is totally illogical. Why would we let common sense interfere with our time honored American tradition of blowing something up or disturb our Wild West mentality?

Two of my favorite quotes by David Kennedy (Stanford historian) relate to this subject: “Before history can teach, it must challenge and even discomfit” and “While history is remembered backward, it is lived forward.” Perception is not reality. Hype and image may be good marketing, but lousy realism.