Population Increases but Civilization Is Unraveling
The climate breakdowns and collapse that are so much in the news have also been the topics for Jubilee Forums the first Saturdays of September and October. We will continue with the next Forum:
Jubilee Forum, Nov. 5, 2022, 9-10am, Free
Population and collapse are generally shielded from in-depth exploration by a certain taboo—meaning that they aren’t talked about because they’re too complex, too polarizing, too frightening, or simply drowned out by life.
Each month I (Lee) write a couple of blogs about Forum topics. You can read these at OneEarth Jubilee website, https://oneearthjubilee.com/jubilee-blog/.
These Forums continue to be free and open to anyone interested. You may invite others. Also, we have begun making recordings which you can ask for.
Join the Jubilee Mexico Trip in March 14-25, 2023
Tentatively, the trip will be 10 days from and back to the U.S. San Diego/Tijuana border. The cost will be around $1400. This includes airfare and ground travel, lodging, and most meals. Extra expenses will be for what you want to purchase while there.
The trip will begin in San Diego for just one night of orientation before heading across the border for a flight from the Tijuana Airport. We’ll fly first to the southern state of Chiapas to be hosted there by the San Cristobal Jubilee Circle. After some days there, we’ll travel to the state of Puebla to be hosted by the San Mateo Jubilee Circle.
You may be saying, “Hmmm, I’d like to do this, but will I be safe? what if I don’t know Spanish?” and many other questions. Please direct all your questions to us now by email to email@example.com or phone 619-528-8075.
Expect more specifics by the next newsletter. Express your interest now; your firm commitment and first payment can come later.
Alter-Nativas Project Applies for Grant Support
The Alter-Nativas ministry of the San Cristobal Jubilee Circle is seeking funding for a special project. Accordingly, JEM has joined in to apply for a grant. We expect to hear whether or not the grant is accepted before the end of 2022. The rest of this article comes from that application. The Project gives a lot of insight into this important Jubilee ministry.
“The Community Alternatives for the Creation of Economic Justice Project seeks to promote, through awareness workshops on food security and sovereignty, comprehensive health, gender equity and the environment, a critical awareness that enables actions of social transformation aimed at building economic justice.
The project contemplates the realization of workshops, with two groups, on different areas of our life that interact in the economic daily life and that in the current economic system are seen violated. We will close the cycles of workshops with a Meeting on Economic Justice where they will articulate and discuss the experiences and learning from the workshop sessions and will reflect around community actions to generate fairer economic conditions for all.
- Workshop on Food Security and Sovereignty
- Workshop on comprehensive health and alternative medicine
- Workshop on Gender Equality
- Workshop on Environmental Crisis
- Meeting on Economic Justice
Fruit Tree Distribution by San Mateo Circle
Angelica Juarez de Swanson (pictured) writes: “We have been distributing trees, especially fruit trees, to the families that come to the Cultural Center and we have also involved the children of the Early Childhood Education program who were excited to be able to take care of a small tree at home.” This initiative is part of the Jubilee Circle’s many actions to increase shade, food sovereignty, and water conservation—all efforts that tend Creation.
A Subversive Seed-Saver and Sower
Grace Gyori’s Important Book Being Released
Grace Gyori (pictured) and her late husband, Tom, were part of Jubilee Economics Ministries from the very beginning. Her new book can show readers the way to go for a life that is far more interested in justice than money. It can show the difference between activism and spiritual activism. It casts aside the notion that we need heroes and high-profile people in order for change to happen. It shows us, instead, the transforming power of change through ordinary people, who are willing to trust God’s Call to them (for that Call does come to all of us many, many times during our lives). It is in hearing and heeding that Call that Grace offers us an extraordinary life; yet, reading carefully, we recognize an amazingly ordinary woman.
She eschewed patriarchy and hierarchies, believing that relationships with mutual respect were stronger and more loving. She saw through the systems designed by human egos that aim to give power and wealth to the people near society’s top. She, instead, has trusted eco-systems for real power and wealth. Her life is a counter story to the American Dream. She was not seduced by it. Instead, the dream of Earth has lived in her ever more deeply over the years. Her eyes saw through many of the “gospels” that said we could trust our soul to find its joy in more things, more money, or more travel. Rather, she saw that these false gospels tragically disconnected people from the wealth in our souls—a tragedy now devastating our planet and destroying life itself. Grace has yearned for the wealth of a soul inhabited by the Divine. Toward that end she has saved and sown the seeds that subvert the thinking of this world and that lead us, amid our ego-designed systems, to our Creator.
Needed: People in the Jubilee Network to Help Look for Funding
A few months ago a gift “out of the blue” came to JEM. We see it as the work of God’s Spirit to affirm Jubilee as unexpected connections resulted in a donation of $5000. And did we need it! You see, at the start of the year, JEM expanded our geographical presence in Mexico when Edman Orel Lopez and family moved to Tapachula, Chiapas. Edman was a close friend of Dan Swanson and has never stopped believing in the need to proclaim Jubilee. This he is now doing through teaching in seminaries, pastoring small congregations who have been underserved, and standing with some pastors who’d been disciplined by the Mexican Presbyterian Church because they were not following presbyterian liturgy. The Board of JEM decided to stand with Edman through a monthly redistribution of $350—part of his income for his family of 4.
That decision is proving to bear good fruit. At the same time, that decision along with others to support strategic ministries in San Cristobal, San Mateo, and San Diego, has stretched JEM financial reserves to their limit in 2022.
Here’s a shout-out to Dan Bayer of Los Angeles who was the person in the JEM network who channeled the $5K to JEM in 2022. More such will be important in 2023. Dan serves on a foundation board that allows him to designate $5K each year to a nonprofit of his choice. JEM was the unexpected and delighted recipient in 2022. Thank you, Dan!
The Birth of Jesus—
Why It Is Transforming, though Christmas Isn’t
This popularized rendition cannot possibly deliver the power of the birth of Jesus. And we need that power now to correct the destruction being visited upon Earth, nature, and humanity by human choices. As humans, we’ve romanticized what we celebrate as the Christmas story. It’s become sweet, and punchless. The Liberating Birth of Jesus exemplifies how we work with biblical messages in Jubilee thinking.
Diane Donovan posted her review of The Liberating Birth of Jesus
by Lee Van Ham in the Midwest Book Review, February 2020.
The story of Jesus’ birth and impact on the world is so famous that readers might wonder at the need for yet another book on the subject. This alternate viewpoint is a much-needed adjunct to both the story and the efforts of humanity to survive, and thus provides a very different perspective than most.
The Liberating Birth of Jesus: A Birth Story Able to Reverse Our Planet’s Perils is not a holiday story, but draws important connections between dreams, angel lessons, acts of goodness, and the real meaning of Jesus’ creation story. As such, Mary, Jesus, the cosmological and psychic impact of Jesus’ arrival on Earth, and underlying messages pre- and post-Jesus are connected to both human affairs and planetary health and systems as a whole.
The tone of this methodical consideration of political, social, and religious systems is scholarly, yet accessible. It creates solid references between scripture and broader new interpretations of its meaning than most religious inspections offer: “Tamar’s story in Genesis 38 oozes intrigue, family dysfunction, and trickery. It revolves around the levirate law, so named because of its derivation from the Latin levir, which means “brother-in-law.” According to this law, if a woman’s spouse died, the spouse’s brother was required to marry his sister-in-law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).
When it operated well in patriarchal cultures, it was better than a modern life insurance policy. While today a husband can buy insurance on his life to assure the economic viability of his wife and family in case of his death, continuing relationships with in-laws and community are not assured. Social vulnerability increases. The levirate law provided both economic and social glue for a community. A brother who refused to follow the law opened himself to public shame for putting his own interests above the wellbeing of his relatives and the community as a whole. Furthermore, this economic and social law was given divine sanction, meaning that to disobey it was to disobey God, so when Judah and his sons disobeyed it, Tamar exposed them socially, economically, and spiritually.”
This food for thought is weighty and compelling, of necessity requiring that readers move slowly through the book. There’s simply so much to digest and consider that a quick reading is not recommended.
Choices in the narration of the birth story in the Bible and the impact of social, political, and religious perceptions in how it was presented provide intriguing insights with wide-ranging messages for any Biblical student: “Matthew is eager to show that the birth story includes wider geographies and ethnicities than Judea and Jews. The magi were from a geography beyond Judea, just like some of the women in his genealogy, and are another example of how Matthew decisively includes foreigners in his transforming story.”
Discussions of patriarchy, matriarchy, the politics of Rome, the “naming of Jesus by an angel,” and other circumstances often challenge an average Christian reader’s long-held assumptions and viewpoints about Biblical history – and this is a good thing.
Those who appreciate different approaches to Biblical interpretations and events will find The Liberating Birth of Jesus a significant new approach to Biblical scholarship. It’s not just an urgent call to action, but a recreation story of empowerment that pinpoints a major point of diversion and hope between past Biblical perceptions and modern analysis: “…the creativity of people 20 centuries ago connecting the Jesus of Bethlehem and the Christ of the eons and cosmos. Their context, however, differs from ours in that “Christ” was not then assumed to be Jesus’ second name. What is especially important for us today is to rediscover how they are separate.”
What is happening in today’s world, ecologically and politically, is impacted by misinterpretations about the birth and impact of Jesus.
This broader cosmological consideration of planetary ecology is a much-needed, empowering read recommended for a new generation of thinkers as well as those who would incorporate the creation story’s cosmology into revised approaches to life.