Saturday, October 8, 2011

And that conversation is growing

Hope is here to gallery sit, greet any visitors who come to see the Telling the Truth installation. I’m excited to tell her about the words I’m receiving from clergy colleagues about Occupy Wall Street.  Many more than I realized were in the march and several on their own have gone down to check out what’s going on. Neighborhood colleagues are working to plan what we can do together. I’m also excited to tell her of tonight’s Yom Kippur Kol Nidre  Jewish High Holy Days services that will take place at the site. This is the kind of dialogue we need to begin.
Hope has been in conversation with our anti-sweatshop friends who are seeking to link up with the Occupy movement. Tracy would like to get them to stage a solidarity march int Chinatown.  We need to figure out when to get them into church as we had planned before my surgery. This Sunday I’ve invited Mark Koenig from our UN office for a dialogue on the impact of this global explosion on the UN and its work .  Maybe next week we can focus on Food Justice.
While we are talking Imam Feisal and his assistant Katy arrive at the church to have a tour and think about possibilities.  Imam Feisal and his wife Daisy Khan are well know for their work  in interfaith understanding. They are leaders of the Cordoba Initiative, an international interfaith effort to work in the spirit of the multifaith city state that was Cordoba at its creative, innovative peak.  And he was the Imam of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, a controversy stirred up by the New York Post  with misleading and just plain false information. The project was neither at Ground Zero nor was it primarily a mosque. So it goes. The have managed to keep their heads in a post 9-11 time of  well, Islamophobia. That’s all you can call it when directed against a worker for understanding, who’s seeking in the emerging Arab world to seek a path that would honor Islam while also creating inclusive, progressive democracies.
As we go through the building, it’s hard for me to explain the current state of semi-demolition, the deconstructed pieces of Woodshed’s sets filling the rooms. He’s looking for worship space, education space. Maybe more. He’s intrigued by the Egytpian cartouches on the Woodshed movie theatre set. And the papyrus in my office that moved from storage to the speakeasy poker nook to the Zy’s dining room during the Tenant. A native of Egypt, he’s interested in the work I did there and elsewhere during the eighties.  I sincerely hope we can find a way to work together. 
It is actually painful seeng the world Woodshed created disappear. There’s an aching feeling of emptiness.  
As I finish with the Imam, I see that Danielle is talking with a neighbor who is working on another end of our building project. His daughter has just returned from school and joined them.  

John H comes in to see how we’re doing and talk about Occupy as performance, as art and how the religious community can relate. If it extends into winter, do we gather up used New York City Marathon mylar blankets and take them down? Do we create an early warning system in case of an effort by police to clear the park? Do we offer shelter? He’s fascinated by the Yom Kippur action. What can Christians do?
If nothing else, Occupy has instigated dialogue and discussion every where I go in  the city. And that conversation is growing.
Finally, there is a knotty problem to work out. Frog & Peach is scheduled to rehearse in Mc Alpin but the gallery show is mainly on the floor. (Didn’t see that coming.) So they can be in the sanctuary though its not good rehearsal space. The prpoblem will be tomorrow when the Jazz Academy comes for their big band rehearsal. And the problem is making clear that this is not personal but about trying to make the best of a complicated situation. That’s all.
Danielle is still struggling with this as I need to leave for an old friend and colleague’s 80th birthday party. David has been a lifelong supporter of PHEWA serving as its newsletter editor and a founding member of Presbyterian Welcome. (Happy Birthday, Dave!)  And then I will join Andrea at the Yom Kippur event at Occupy Wall Street.

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