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Jun 3Liked by Center for Barth Studies

This is really beautiful and nuanced. Thank you for it. And many congratulations on your graduation. It makes me hopeful for Theology.

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Two more years of funding for me, thankfully—but the students who graduated from YDS this year really are cause for hope. Deeply wonderful people.

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Jun 3Liked by Center for Barth Studies

What a thoughtful essay. Thank you for writing it. Victoria Barnett

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Many thanks indeed for your kind words, Victoria.

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Back when the Floyd murder was all the stir, every time I heard that one category or another of people "mattered" -- yes I agreed, but something bothered me about it all. Finally it dawned on me that EVERYONE matters, regardless of our particular "categories." While I'm not usually a fan of bumper stickers (I feel that often they unnecessarily divert peoples' focus from whatever else is going on in their often complicated lives) -- I do like the one that simply says, "YOU MATTER." No categories necessary. Regardless of them. The fact that "you matter" of course will not address complexities and underlying historical cultural differences and priorities, but it is a reminder that everyone in God's creation matters, and that we need to be able to stop our busy lives long enough to listen to and consider what others have to say -- those who are put in the time and place of our life path. (But not necessarily just on the internet, because that could just be A.I. impersonation.) Thank you for allowing me to speak my mind on this.

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P.S. What made me think of this was the fact that there were those actually waving flags at the graduation ceremony. Who would want antagonism at a ceremony, or to foster that? It almost seems like usurping the purpose of the ceremony. Were they wanting it to turn into a riot? Or put in their rain-check for one in the future? There are other forums for these sorts of tribal rah-rah... or if not, there should be. Also my post is mostly a "re-hash" of thoughts I've had before.

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I appreciate your comments Stephanie. How do you see it relating to what I'm trying to express here? Or; how does the truth that everyone matters relate to the specific motivation to publicly protest the death of particular people? (These questions are not asked in a hostile tone of voice! I should also say clearly that I'm very much writing in support of the students who were waving flags, many of whom were my students, and attempting to express my sense—based at least in part on conversation with them—about why they chose to do so.)

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First -- let me preface the following by saying that I do not particularly keep up with the news, and as far as I know and what I have heard, deaths of innocent victims have occurred on all sides of the fence, by the other side. So that's what I am going by as I say the following.

I assumed it was some kind of theological graduation -- placid, mature graduates ready to go out into the world and make it a better and more understanding, more harmonious place. I am old school, or at least older generation, and a theological graduation (were it that) struck me as anything but a sports venue to wave flags. But then I live in my own "where/when," and made my comments based on that. I'm just thinking out loud here, but I see potential for the Palestinian / Israeli conflict to have much more malignant and ongoing contentions than a sports game. (Okay I don't want to just assume or infer that a sports game is how you saw it either -- I'm just doing my best to think this out on-the-fly here.) I don't see place for favoritism to either Israel or the Palestinians -- and even if I were one of them, generally I don't think I would want favoritism for myself, and the flag waving says nothing to me except wanting to be favored over another. Granted -- I have virtually no understanding for their conflict, certainly not deep. Anyway initially I started my comment based on an appreciation for true honest friendships, which I was thankful that you pointed out. I can think of very many fake "friendships" I've had in the past, or one's that turned out to be that. Therefore, I about envy true friendships. (Also, by "true friendships," this is instead of based on what someone's DNA, or job is, making them "matter."

I'm not seeing your original article right now as I write this -- and so am just going by what I recall (part of which was that you just mentioned the flag waving). I feel strongly that America is not about favoring one tribe or another (or over another), and that's all I see in the flags. Okay let them fly their flags. But is the flag a statement for something, or just a thinly-veiled hint against something else? That's where a conversation needs to be held as to what their beefs are. And flags generally won't suffice in lieu of conversations. Now I have to admit that I am only very casually up on the news, and I don't always trust the news anyway. So perhaps I'm too "out of the loop" to have much of a full opinion on this. One more thing -- I want to say that I am not against freedom of speech, and as such -- okay they ought to be able to wave flags all they want as long as it's not right in someone's face, or to a captive audience, that sort of thing, as generally is the case with freedom of speech. My mind goes back and forth as to freedom of speech and the particular venue. No one should be perpetually painted into a corner of silence -- they need their turn to speak up. (Robert's Rules of Order?) As for deaths of people -- if I understand correctly, there have been innocent deaths on all sides. But lately I'm getting where I don't even want to believe what I hear on the news because it could be fake. Besides very often it is very depressing -- another matter there. Then again, some of the news outlets like to play with our emotions to their own ends -- another matter there as well. Anyway I don't (and didn't) mean any offense with anything I said -- it's just how I see it. The whole world is such a "village" anymore, but I still don't see how they can drag their conflict over here. To be perfectly blunt, it's a nuisance. Nevertheless I won't single-handedly solve this world crises, and certainly not here and now. All I can do is be true to the fact that I feel their underlying conflicts need to be addressed -- why are they so mad at each other? Why do they want to kill each other? Meanwhile, the "quad pro quo" (or tit for tat -- if I have the Latin right) is more understood, so long as they keep innocent civilians out of it. They do have underlying contentions that they seem to understand, but that outsiders don't, not necessarily anyway, or not in depth. And that's where a lot of it is nothing but obnoxious to the outsiders. The Hatfields and McCoys might have have more understanding of what was going on in their conflict. Maybe. At least until they might have forgotten what initially started it. Any side that is harming civilians, particularly children -- I "get it," that that is diabolically evil and needs to be stopped. Okay I guess I've said enough on this. If not too much. I do wonder how many Americans are thinking underneath -- what is this conflict doing over here? Then again, the world is now a "village." Anyway most people don't want to be like a child who has to choose a side -- not the best analogy here, but like "which parent?" Uhhh...???? Okay enough of me now on this.

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Thanks for this, Stephanie. I'll just say two things. First, the general gold standard for news reporting is ProPublica. They don't do a 24/7 news cycle, so there are plenty of things they don't cover. But they do publish in depth, rigorously fact checked and incisive investigative journalism, and they aren't beholden to advertisers for money. So in terms of finding news that you can trust, they're worth following.

Second, I think it is worth taking into account that the students who graduated—and this is part of what I was trying to express in the post—do in fact have quite a substantial sense of what is happening in Israel/Palestine, and have substantial, clearly thought out reasons for protesting during graduation. My sense is that where this is the case, it is worth trying to understand these reasons, before (or perhaps instead of) critiquing them on the basis of what we already think. At minimum, we should seek to learn as much about the conflict as they have before trying to judge whether or not it is right for them to protest. In my experience teaching at YDS, the students have certainly earned that respect! (And tbh, I think this is good rule to follow anyway—where I don't understand why someone has done something, or where I think they shouldn't, to learn as much as I can about the situation.)

In any case, I very much appreciate your engagement with the post.

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First I’ll re-emphasize that I generally don’t consistently watch the news. All of us who walk the earth are mere “dots” with limited perspective as to the whole picture. I am one of those dots. I want to say that I became very leery of all of the flag waving (whatever side) several months ago, after hearing on the news a snippet of a very young Palestinian woman, apparently a college student, chanting some slogan, by which she was accusing Biden of “genocide.” It sounded extremely immature and manipulative to me. And very odd too, that there seemed to have been no grief at all in her voice, but rather some sort of glee at the idea of being able to manipulate a world leader by transferring guilt of “genocide” onto him, like he was supposed to have either done certain something, or not done something, or else he was going to be pegged the guilty party for the actions of others. Ever since that time, and without even realizing it, I’ve latently harbored the same reservations under my skin about all of the younger generation participating in this feud. So when I hear about flag waving regarding this feud, my subconscious mind immediately carries me back to the extreme inner repulsion I sensed at this woman’s attempt to manipulate a world leader to her side. I will admit that it seems I had unwittingly (or subconsciously) superimposed my prior feelings, that struck me back then about her (on hearing her cheery chant about such a morbid subject), onto the current mention of just flag-waving more generally, but regarding this same feud. Okay I will now try to put this subject down, for the time-being, anyway. If I address it again, I hope it will be more about the roots of this conflict, a mystery to a lot of us. Cultural differences and priorities are a part of that. But lately it seems that the different generations are the different cultures, instead of one’s geological roots. Okay hopefully this is enough of me on this for now. However I will add that I do not wish to take sides unless it becomes imperative to do so, and even then, people are individuals rather than the category of their roots. Thanks for hearing me out on this.

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