W.A.L. Weekly #4

This morning, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton, released a new song to raise support for Puerto Rico. As I listened to the song, “Almost Like Praying,” I couldn’t help but think of the different types of chants and musical prayers that are offered. I think this song does not have to be almost like praying, but it is praying when crying out to God.

This song can be purchased alone but also appears on a spotify playlist created by Miranda. He does this regularly, creates new versions of the old school “mix tapes” he used to make. Anyone can create a playlist and share for others to listen to and can be a great way of expanding your outreach, influence and ministry. You can create playlists for seasons of the year as Middle Collegiate Church in New York City has done for specials seasons like Advent and special days of worship during Holy Week. Playlists could be created to connect around particular issues going on in our world, giving voice to people who feel like they have no voice. Creating playlists can connect with younger people and the act of creating them could be an opportunity for someone more artistic to find a leadership role as they create playlists that speak to what is happening in our world. Music can give us the words that become our prayers. (This is our Number 1 resource for the week)

2. D.C. Church Changes Worship from Passive to Participatory

“‘Someone told me, ‘For every decision and every penny that’s ever been spent on this place, it was all leading up to that point where Melissa could put her head on your shoulder,’” Goff said.

“I needed that moment, too,” Goff added. “She didn’t know that, but I did.”

Such moments typify Sundays at Church of the Pilgrims, where vulnerability is a virtue and worship is an innovative and deeply collaborative experience between clergy and congregants. Liturgy means “work of the people,” and at Pilgrims, the people truly share in the work of worship. They help plan each liturgical season and share the pulpit nearly every week, offering personal stories of pain and healing, celebration and reflection, awakening and transformation.”

3. How Does Terrorism End?

The current spasm of international terrorism, an age-old tactic of warfare, is often traced to a bomb mailed from New York by the anti-Castro group El Poder Cubano, or Cuban Power, that exploded in a Havana post office, on January 9, 1968. Five people were seriously injured. Since then, almost four hundred thousand people have died in terrorist attacks worldwide, on airplanes and trains, in shopping malls, schools, embassies, cinemas, apartment blocks, government offices, and businesses, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The deadliest remains the 9/11 attack, sixteen years ago this week, which killed almost three thousand people—and in turn triggered a war that has become America’s longest.

I’ve covered dozens of these terrorist attacks on four continents over that half century. After the Barcelona attack and the U.S. decision to send more troops to fight the Taliban, I began to wonder how terrorism ends—or how militant groups evolve. In her landmark study of more than four hundred and fifty terrorist groups, Audrey Kurth Cronin found that the average life span of an extremist movement is about eight years. Cuban Power carried out several other bombings, but, in the end, it didn’t last a whole year.”

4. Resilience Alone Won’t Get Us Through-We’ll Need To Open Up to Each Other

“It turned out that she had anxiety, too, so we traded coping tips and gallows humor, and tried, with moderate success, to get each other to give ourselves some credit for what we had accomplished by leaving the house that day. And then I went home with a new coffee that I didn’t drop and a willingness to once again consider that venturing out of my apartment isn’t a nonstop parade of pain and humiliation.

“You ate the potato,” my husband declared when I told him about my day. But I’m not convinced that this is a story about resilience at all. The thing that really saved me, besides a desire for more coffee, was a willingness to admit I wasn’t okay. Being openly vulnerable in public — even just a little vulnerable to a friendly near-stranger — was what helped me at every step of my post-spill day. I let myself be miserable and embarrassed and admit that I felt that way to another person. I didn’t try to shrug it off or minimize how disproportionately hard it felt for me, and I didn’t try to put a more positive spin on it. If she hadn’t responded in anxiety-ridden solidarity — even if she’d laughed at me or made that mildly polite face normal people have been making at me and my unique verbal tangents for most of my life — I still would have felt relieved that I wasn’t holding onto that by myself any longer.”

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