Dominionism with Rev. Erin Walter

Dominionism with Rev. Erin Walter

Rev. Erin Walter, Unitarian Universalist minister, executive director at the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry, and punk rocker, discusses the Christian concept of "Dominionism" from a Unitarian perspective.

Rev. Erin Walter audio transcription
interviewed by Rev. Dr. Dan De Leon
episode here:



Rev. Dan 0:00
Okay, good people. This is Dan DeLeon. I am the guest editor for the Spring Equinox edition of all creation. And I'm really excited to be with my friend Erin Walter. Erin and I go way back, and we're excited to be talking with her specifically from her Unitarian Universalist perspective. But,,, I've got to talk about how I know this amazing human (Rev. Erin) before we get into more official introductions. We first connected rockin out in Austin, playing in bands. Erin, you were in a band called "The Personals," and I was in a band called "That's Mr. To You."

Rev. Erin 0:40
Still one of the greatest band names of all time!

Rev. Dan 0:42
Thank you very kindly. I can't take credit for that. That's Morgan Stinson but even still, we connected by playing (at a bar called) Trophy's.

Rev. Dan 0:50
Yes, sir.

Rev. Dan 0:51
And then played a few shows together. And the rest is the history of an incredible friendship... But who would have thought, serendipitously, that our paths would cross with me doing ordained Christian ministry and you (doing ministry) in the Unitarian Universalist Church?

Rev. Erin 1:07
Yeah. And how long have you been an ordained minister? Because I'm always asking myself whether you were a minister at the time.

Rev. Dan 1:14
I was.

Rev. Erin 1:14
That's what I thought. But I don't think I knew that at the time. And I was years away from becoming an ordained minister myself. So I just I smile thinking about that.

Rev. Dan 1:23
I still remember talking with you about, "Seminary or no, and what should I do?" And...

Rev. Erin 1:26
Yeah, I love it. I love the universe. I love the way it all weaves.

Rev. Dan 1:31
I'll tell you what -- actually, you're still doing music. Tell me first about what you're doing with music. Tell me about the band that you're in now.

Rev. Erin 1:38
Awesome. Well, I have my own band, called Parker Woodland. And since we're talking about the Earth, I actually named my band after my neighborhood, after the intersections of Parker and Woodland. And so, "roots" and ("place") where you live and your neighborhood and how that connects to your people is really important to me. We put out an EP, I'm like, what year is this now? I guess it was last year, called, "The World's on Fire and We Still Fall in Love". And, and you know, I was talking to you earlier about just the the metaphor of the world being on fire. It's not even a metaphor in so many ways. And so I'm glad we're talking about, you know, the topics we're talking about today. But yeah, Parker Woodland is my band. I write the songs, I play bass, I sing. And we write songs about kind of the values and the mission that we're going to be talking about today, but from a punk rock vibe.

Rev. Dan 2:22
Awesome. Awesome. Check them out.

Rev. Dan 2:24
Tell us about your involvement in Unitarian Universalist circles.

Rev. Erin 2:29
Okay, so I'm a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. But I've been an ordained UU minister for about five years now. And at this point, I am the minister and executive director of -- and it's a mouthful, so I'll take a breath, but of -- the Texas Unitarian Universalist justice ministry. And so I lead the justice ministry for our state, meaning that I help coordinate congregations and Unitarian Universalists, and you know, to take actions for justice with our faith values at the root of it.

Rev. Dan 3:02
Okay, so then I want to hear more about that, more of the specific actions that y'all are doing. But let's back up. Educate me about why that matters from a UU perspective, from a faith perspective, how does that inform your care for the earth? Why is environmental stewardship a priority for you?

Rev. Erin 3:26
Absolutely. So before I go, back into "the why," I will say that for the Texas UU justice ministry, 25 of our congregations that are members of the Texas UU justice ministry voted in 2020 for our legislative priorities from 2020 to 2022. And so relevant to today, I just wanted to let folks know that those priorities that they voted on are: racial justice, environmental justice, health care access, economic justice, and voting rights. So, racial justice and environmental justice intersect quite a lot, as racial justice really does with everything, that priority around the environment is very high for the organization that I represent. And that is reflective of Unitarian Universalists in general, as a people of faith.

Rev. Erin 4:13
So, we have our sources, we have principles, we're a non creedal faith, so the folks sitting in the pew next to you might not believe the exact same thing about the divine. Someone in the pew with you might believe in an afterlife and someone might not. We have pagan UUs, we have Christian UUs, etc.

Rev. Erin 4:35
Our faith connections are around principles and values not so much around the creed or dogma. So for us, one of those principles is the interconnectedness of the web of life that we consider us all to be a part of. And so for many of us that deeply deeply connects us to work around climate justice around the environment, and care and stewardship for the earth.

Rev. Dan 5:02
So this web of life, everything being connected, there being consequences to our actions, good, bad. And otherwise, I kind of wanted to put that in the context of what we're looking at with this edition of AllCreation on, "Dominionism". Before we hit record for this conversation, (you were saying "dominionism" is not really) thrown around in UU circles, that word, "Dominionism."

Rev. Erin 5:34
Right. So, I was raised Unitarian Universalist. And I would say that Dominionism is really not a word I heard at church, I certainly have heard (it) among my Christian family of Christian heritage, the idea of the kingdom of God, the dominion of God, and all of that... And I do think that for UUs this we are trying to create for each other as human beings, a sense of as, as divine, and a loving and caring and compassionate experience in this life as we can. But I really am excited to learn from you about how the idea of Dominionism relates to the environment in the earth as well. I'm hoping I can have some mutual learning today!

Rev. Dan 6:18
Yeah, well, let's do that. And put a pin in what you just said about this life. I want to get back to that in talking about heaven on earth.

Rev. Erin 6:18

Rev. Dan 6:30
Okay. So, Dominionism, specifically what we're getting at is the idea that comes from the first creation story in the book of Genesis, the first chapter, where it says that God gave humankind dominion, over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over every living creature, we human human beings have dominion. And that is, I would argue, incorrectly interpreted, but very popularly interpreted to be an open and shut case, saying that we human beings, the Anthropocene, that we can do whatever we want, with creation, that it is biblically mandated, not only that we do we have a pass to do it, but we're encouraged to take whatever we need, and to get anything and everything that we can out of creation.

Rev. Dan 7:31
And so in looking at it from a perspective, that is not so anthropocentric, one that says, Okay, so we are a part of creation, like you're saying, we're a part of the web of life, then that changes things where Dominion isn't about this hierarchy, where we can do whatever we want, with everything that's underneath us. It's much more of an equitable plain of us taking care of one another; taking care of every creaturely being in the entirety of creation, be it a four legged, or a tree, or the water that we drink.

Rev. Dan 8:14
So Dominionism takes on a different definition when you look at it that way? So that's kind of what I was wanting to unpack with you, in terms of the "web of life," that the UU is looking at? What is the identity of humankind in the web of life for a UU?

Rev. Erin 8:40
Right? Well, I would say that, for me, I hadn't thought about humankind as being at the top of any kind of like living creature hierarchy before.

Rev. Dan 8:54
Maybe that's one of the benefits of being raised in a UU?

Rev. Erin 8:58
Well, I mean, we have plenty of hierarchy, we have lots of work to do to dismantle, you know, hierarchies. We all do, and and our faith tradition is not immune to that at all. And,,, but I guess, I haven't thought about it, it hasn't felt that way. To me, that hasn't been a part of my faith DNA. And so what I would say is, we have to grapple with and are grappling with as a faith that relates to that idea of dominion to me, our first principle speaks to the inherent worth and dignity of every person. So I'm gonna say that again, the inherent worth and dignity of every person is just such a pillar of my faith tradition. But what I believe it's meant to be is our piece of liberation theology that we are saying that the people who have been told they don't have worth and dignity, people who are queer or trans or who are being judged on race or culture, immigration status, all of that. It is meant to claim, equal worth and dignity for them. But where we Go Wrong is when we interpret it to mean like individual freedom in a way that supersedes the earth, or supersedes the needs of community supersedes the needs of those on the margins or those closest to the concerns of our times.

Rev. Dan 10:16

Rev. Erin 10:17
So, so we are really asking ourselves as Unitarian Universalist right now, especially those of us whose faith is rooted in justice work is, is where can we go forth into the field -- there's a beautiful Rumi quote, that I won't be able to remember right now after a very long day -- but where will you go into the field and meet someone away from this individual, the selfishness that says, "I'm going to use everything I can" -- then eventually that leaves us with nothing, eventually, what are my kids, my grandkids, you know, what are your kids and your grandkids going to have? But that we meet in a place where we're seeking community sustenance, a sustainability for this home ... I mean, if the Earth isn't divine, then what is? I mean for me, I mean, what an incredible place to live! Like, sometimes I just look out, you know, we're sitting here in my home in Bastrop, and I expect a deer to walk by at any minute! And, you know, I mean, it's just, I'm in awe of the divinity of the earth.

Rev. Dan 11:14
Yeah... So the earth being divine, what an incredible place to live: "the here and now." That gets back to what you mentioned before about heaven on earth.

Rev. Erin 11:23

Rev. Dan 11:24
And I'd love to hear more about what, what is the...?... So that kind of ups the ante, right? About this beautiful, Divine Earth -- there's a increased sense of urgency to take care of this, "here and now." Tell me more about a UU take on "the present," and I guess, in contrast with a Christian take on apocalyptic theology that focuses on "the hereafter" to the detriment of the here and now.

Rev. Erin 11:59
Right. Well, I mean, I will be thrilled if I show up in the afterlife, and it's incredible and puts this world to shame. And my late, great father is there and Johnny Cash is there. And like, all the people I want to see are there. I mean, I'm not ruling that out. I'm just I consider myself a spiritual humanist. And many of us fall into that category where our spirits are concerned about how we care for each other and how we steward our relationships, our lives, our actions in the here and now.

Rev. Erin 12:34
So our faith tradition includes an array of sources. And we grew out of the Christian tradition, Unitarians AND Universalists, those two faith traditions separately evolved, you know, as sort of liberal strands of Christianity in Europe, and as they came to the United States found themselves more and more similar, and so eventually didn't even merge until the 1960s. So as a difficult to say, long name for a faith tradition, that we're really not that old. But So, our roots are really deep with Christianity, we bring forth a lot of those stories and a lot of those influences. And we also call upon other sources, such as Buddhism, which has a lot of meditative "here now," practices that speak deeply to a lot of our people, and definitely do to me, as do pagan traditions for a lot of our folks.

Rev. Erin 13:28
So, I mean, I, there's so much I could say, but for me, it's just I also I was very afraid, very afraid of death as a child. And so there was fear about what would come next. And then I lost people that I loved, and survived that. And that experience also has influenced the way I look at the hearing now of wanting to just seize life, appreciate life, live a spirited life. And I also feel like that relates to my my love of the earth. And, yeah.

Rev. Dan 14:05
And I think that "both, and" approach, that more incorporating approach of UU sacred texts and ways of looking at the world would be a good word for the apocalyptic theology that I was just saying about Christianity where it doesn't have to be looking ahead to the detriment of what's happening right here.

Rev. Dan 14:27
A couple of my favorite scriptures are when Jesus in the Gospel instructs us on how to pray and one of the things that he gives us is what's informed what we call the Lord's Prayer where one of the things he says is,"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." That's the prayer that has come out of his instruction for: This is How You Should Pray. The other one though is from Revelation, the last book in the Judeo Christian canon of the Bible, and (the book which) is often thought of as the End Times apocalyptic book. But Revelation ends saying that God comes and lives with "them" ... US ... that God comes to be WITH Us. And so I think of that as like, "Well, then why wouldn't we want to take really good care of this here and now that we've got in order to make way for the Creator of all things to come and be with us at this big party?"

Rev. Erin 15:33
Yeah, well, you have me thinking about, you know, there's so much story that we share with our kids, as people of faith around, you know, greeting the stranger, you know, Jesus as the stranger, Jesus says, the homeless person as the, person on the street, and, you know, you could think that same way about the Earth, right? I mean, what if this IS heaven, right? Like, if God sent His son here, if we are His people, if these are, you know, "all" of this is God's kingdom, I should say, "their" kingdom, "her" kingdom, "the" kingdom, you know, what, what if, what if this is IS, you know, and and, And so, can we treat it as holy, and what do we have to lose?

Rev. Erin 16:19
You know, again, even if there is this whole other thing that puts this to shame? What what do we have to lose by treating this place as holy now? I mean, I mean, yeah, Ha!

Rev. Dan 16:29
Yeah. Amen. And I think that one lens, through which you could see and hear what you just said, is, if it's a consumeristic, individualized, like you were saying before, just this hyper individualized lens, then (the lens) would hear would that and feel, "well, then this is as good as it gets?" As pejorative. It's like, "Oh, well, lame! I don't want that!" But if you look at it, as through this lens of mutuality, and equity, and neighborliness, and sharing, etc, then it's like, "Yeah! This is as good as it gets, and it can be even better."

Rev. Erin 17:15

Rev. Dan 17:17
This is something to celebrate and not to be bummed about.

Rev. Erin 17:20
Yeah, I mean, what one of the songs that I wrote, that's called Wake Me Up was me trying to capture the feeling that I have, sometimes that just comes over me, I'll just be, you know, like, walking into my bathroom or something. And I just feel this like, sparkle in my heart of just like, incredible gratitude to just be like, in this world, it's, it's, it's amazing. And, and we are in great danger of losing it. I don't want to be Pollyanna about this. I mean, our earth is suffering. And there's a new sector of ministry, you may have heard about, of people who are offering sort of grief counseling for folks about their grief for what's going on with the earth. I mean, people are rightly grappling with just deep, deep grief and depression around what they're seeing, you know, I mean, and, and I think for some of us, it's like, maybe you move, and you go to another city, and then you come back and you see a place you used to live. And it's like, it's changed so much, or, you know, here where we are in Bastrop, we've had multiple, you know, devastating fires, and, you know, how do we, how do we grapple with the climate change and chaos that that we're seeing?

Rev. Erin 18:33
So it is very real, I don't want to just put... you know... I have a hope orientation and it serves me well in this life, but I also think we have to be really real about "we have a lot of reckoning to do and a lot of work to do." And people of faith need to harness faith language for that work for the Earth.

Rev. Dan 18:52
Okay, some of that the ripple effects of what you're talking about with the grief counseling, that what came to mind for me was a young person in our congregation who graduated not too long ago, went to MIT is about to graduate from MIT. And they are constantly grappling with similar kinds of grief, and lament, and it's about, "Okay, so do I enter the workforce with these incredible credentials that I have, and work for companies that are going to perpetuate dominionism that are going to perpetuate just doing whatever we want with creation? Or am I going to do something that I'm more passionate about which is promoting sustainability and finding ways for us to be better and do better at the expense of, you know, quite literally, having anything in my pocket?" And there's grief and lament that comes with that and I don't mean just like grief and lament over, "I'm not going to make money," grief and lament over having to make that kind of life. choice and that, "this is the kind of world we're living in? that I got to make that choice?"

Rev. Erin 20:03
Right. So many things are coming up for me as you're talking, I just really appreciate the chance to have this conversation. But I mean, you know, we need our spiritual tools. Lamentation is one of my favorites. Darrick Jackson, I know. Darrick Jackson, who's a minister at the seminary that I went to in Chicago, Meadville Lombard theological school, does a lot of teaching around lamentation around arts practices, because one of the things that's really important, I think, for Unitarian Universalists, and that I'm constantly talking about as a music minister and an activist, is that we do not fall into despair. We need our joy practices, our spiritual practices, our sustenance, practices, to keep us uplifted enough to be doing the work, because for us, not all of us, but many of us, in my faith tradition, do have at least the choice that you're describing for this person, how do we make our work choices to reflect our values, many people are in a place of just needing a job to feed themselves, right. And so there's a lot of different layers at which the climate and environmental justice struggles affect people, you know, people who are indigenous black people of color, you know, people who are poor, you know, so there's a lot of layers to how this all affects us. But what's important, what I what I just want to make sure I'm just really clear about for us is that we have this balance to strike of facing the hard work that we have to do, and making sure that's what being a person of faith does for us is helps us have support to stay in the work and not fall into despair... If not us, who? Right? We are so needed. And really truthfully, like politicians in this country, for better or worse, really respond to the calls of people of faith, and this is one of things I was saying to people in church in Georgetown, Texas the other day, if there's one thing that I would hope that people across all kinds of political and religious differences could unite around it would be stewardship of the earth.

Rev. Erin 22:14
You know, my folks I know who are way on the other side politically, for me, care about the earth for the sake of their farms and hunting and all these things, you know, like, we've got to be able to find common ground around the earth.

Rev. Dan 22:26
And even if we draw narcissistic energy from having political battles, we gotta have an earth in which to have those battles.

Rev. Erin 22:35
Very true. I'm not,,, I am Definitely not having political battles in the afterlife! Ha Ha

Rev. Dan 22:40
There you go!

Rev. Erin 22:40
I'm gonna be with Johnny Cash, I'm gonna be on a boat fishing, I'm gonna be playing rock and roll... Don't come to me with like... No, I'm just, yeah, no, we got to work this out now!

Rev. Dan 22:49
Agreed. Agreed. So that's a good segue. I was learning about a guy named Fred Small, who was big in UU circles. Apparently, he was the Minister for the UU Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts for several years, but then left parish ministry to pursue what he named the Creation Coalition. And he said he got the name from thinking about the Christian Coalition. And while he, of course disagrees with the majority, if not all of the political stance of the Christian Coalition, he really appreciates their work, really appreciates their organization, and their ability to get stuff done. So back to what you were saying, "politicians will listen to people of faith --", that's why he formed the Creation Coalition. And I know that you're doing an incredible amount of work with that, I'd love to hear what is on the burner for you right now with that.

Rev. Erin 23:51
Thank you. Man, so many people are working so hard on this. And I will talk about some specifics. And but I want to say to folks is another antidote to despair is to realize that you're in this together with a lot, a lot, of good people, a lot of hard working people. And so I always want to encourage people to find one thing that they can do with the interconnected web of our life, we're not going to each be doing it alone. And find the one thing that you can start with, you know, one action, sign one petition to President Biden about climate or reducing fossil fuels. But I will lift up a couple of things to you. So we have what's called the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth. And that's an organization that folks can look up. The UUMFE. One of my dear friends in Austin, Ali Tharp, is the co director of that and has been doing incredible work for a long time. And Reverend Daniel is in that work with her as a co leader. So UU Ministry for Earth is one I just want to encourage folks to look to whether you're a Unitarian Universalist or not.

Rev. Erin 24:58
And then the Texas UU Justice Ministry, my organization, you can always come and find us. Our website is mid upgrade, but TXUUJM.ORG. And we are working with over 1100 groups that just released a letter today. This is late February (2022) when you and I are talking, but by the time people hear it, take a look and see what President Biden has done because we are putting pressure on him what's called the "Build Back Fossil Free initiative, asking him to stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare a national climate emergency. So folks delivered this letter from this huge coalition and many of our congregations, lots of partner organizations, along with the Texas UU justice ministry and our national organizations, delivered this to President Biden today with a gigantic presidential pen and executive order to hopefully entice him --

Rev. Dan 25:59
To really make things easier.

Rev. Erin 24:58
Yeah! Ha - We want to help you, we want to help you get on board with this. But basically asking President Biden to use his executive powers to do the things that he said he would do around protections for the environment. And there's a long list, but I'll just encourage you, folks who are listening to this, to go and look up BuildBackFossilFree.

Rev. Dan 26:20
Thank you.

Rev. Erin 26:21
Of course!

Rev. Dan 26:22
That's great.

Rev. Erin 26:23
I mean, the coalition work feels like "The Way" to me, you know, again, it's this inherent worth and dignity of every person, like yes, I want to be affirmed for who I am as an individual, but the the liberation for the earth and for each other is going to be achieved together.

Rev. Dan 26:38
So on that note, when you talk about a coalition and us doing this work together, is this something that is exclusive to Unitarian Universalist tell me more about that?

Rev. Erin 26:47
No. So I mean, this coalition. We were contacted here in Texas by what's called, "Side With Love," which is the national UU justice organization, but they work in collaboration and partnership with organizations all around the country. And so the same is true of our reproductive dignity efforts, our racial justice efforts, it's very important to us that we be responding to the asks of partners who are directly impacted, and partners who are at the frontlines. So everyone's invited. Anytime I talk about the Texas UU Justice Ministry, or UU efforts, come and find me, whatever your faith background or no faith background, because we want to be working with everyone.

Rev. Dan 27:34
That sounds great. And that's so powerful, too, because some of what I'm learning in having these conversations with amazing people like you, with Imam Islam Mossaad, with Dr. Norman Wirzba from Duke Divinity School, and I have a conversation coming up with Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, as well as through the contributions that are written from people who are contributing to the Spring Equinox edition of AllCreation, is that there's a common thread about -- "Nothing's going to change unless we change our perspective. How it is that we look at the world, how it is that we look at the environment, has to change in order for us to get anything to change."

Rev. Dan 28:17
And I feel like one of the ways to, to foster that kind of perspective change, that Greek metanoia of a complete change of perspective, is in doing that kind of collaborative work, like you're talking about. Nothing can be more encouraging than the recognition that I'm not alone, right? And if I'm doing this alongside people who are different from me, in religion, in culture, in name, in the box that were put in, but we can unite across those differences to address the urgency of taking care of the earth --

Rev. Erin 28:54

Rev. Dan 28:54
Then that will foster more of that (common feeling), "Oh, so this is important to you, too, then I see things differently now."

Rev. Erin 29:01

Rev. Dan 29:01
You can't just have a change of perspective, just will it on your own; sometimes you got to roll up your sleeves and do this work alongside people.

Rev. Erin 29:09
Absolutely. And it's done in relationship, right. And when we talk about relationship, you know, I do a lot of anti racism coaching, in particular with a program called Beloved Conversations that comes out of that same seminary. And so for example, this morning, I was working with a team of folks from a congregation in Pittsburgh over zoom, the silver lining of this pandemic is getting to do this work with people all over. And this group of folks in Pittsburgh are working to look at anti racism in the systems and the practices of their congregation how to be more welcoming, how to be more multiculturally welcoming, and I'm just thinking about the ways that we are able to do that, but in little steps.

Rev. Erin 29:50
We want we want change to be fast, fight? You talked about the the Christian Coalition, I mean, the the changes that folks have been making on a Conservative side of so many of these faith and political issues, they have been working on for decades, meticulously, you look at some of the things that are in the courts. And so for those of us who identify very much on the Progressive side of things, we also need to be willing to meticulously make small steps, build relationships, one conversation at a time, one meeting at a time, one experience at a time, while also holding this like, radical amazing vision of the beloved community that we can be building together. Like, we need to see the big, glorious picture while also being willing to, you know, do what you and I are doing right now and just have one on one conversations across faith perspectives, and things like that.

Rev. Erin 30:41
I feel like I had other things I wanted to say. But that's enough for now!

Rev. Dan 30:48
This is great.

Rev. Dan 30:49
So how about we wrap up with this? I wanted to ask you about what gives you hope. And let me put it, let me frame it like this. One of the other things that I learned about Reverend Small's story, the UU minister with the Creation Coalition, is that when people ask him, "Why is this work so trudgingly slow? Why aren't people responding to it more readily given the fact that it's obviously urgent?" And he says that because people don't have hope that they look at this situation, and they just have this sense of hopelessness.

Rev. Dan 31:24
Now that interview that I'm referring to was is like five years old. And things have gradually changed since then, where people are feeling more hopeful, I feel. But it's still very much a reality that when we look at trying to turn the tide, when it comes to climate change and making the Earth more sustainable and taking care of the biosphere, there's a hopelessness. So where do you get your hope from?

Rev. Erin 31:53

Rev. Dan 31:53
I mean, I could ask it in terms of what do you do to take care of yourself? But you're such a joyful person; you're so you're such an inspiring, motivating person; where do you find your hope?

Rev. Erin 32:03
Okay. All right. This is one of my favorite questions. So don't let me forget to answer it. But I remembered what I want to say earlier. And it's so important to me, and it's not on the hope spectrum. So I'm gonna rewind for one second, and maybe this is, in some ways, a source of hope. But what we need to be doing is hearing the calls and trusting the stories and the experiences of people at the front. And on climate, it is often people of color and indigenous people. Here in Austin we have had multiple situations recently where our water was undrinkable and we had to boil our water and all this, and people were very put out about that. Well, when you think about what's gone on in Flint, Michigan for years, you know, during these times in Austin, and so just, you know, as much as we can not spend time having these philosophical debates with people about their lived experience, but to hear and receive as a gift: the messages, the truth, the news...

Rev. Dan 33:07
"Bring the margins to the middle..."

Rev. Erin 33:08
Please! It behooves us all, right? So, yes, I have hope when I see people listening to those messages, number one. I think we are getting, White people in particular, you know I speak to my own experience, we are making strides in that. I mean, we've got a long way to go but I see more listening in my own faith community. We talk about "move up, move back" -- I see a willingness to move back and listen and be there for other people to move forward and I want to see more of that.

Rev. Erin 33:55
But, gosh, "Hope?" I mean... Fresh air? Sunshine? I mean, have you have you seen that Texas sun?

Rev. Erin 34:03
I mean... "Every day joy cometh in the morning!" "It's always darkest before the dawn." That's my prayer, is that this will be a wake up call, this time of such climate crisis and that we will take that call, answer that call use, our faith values to turn it around. But yeah, I have so many sources of hope and everybody has to claim their own. I always ask my people in workshops and in the Texas UU Justice Ministry, like, "What are your theme songs to get you through?" I take my dog for a walk through the trees here in Bastrop and I just sing. Do you know the song, Wooyaya?

Rev. Dan 34:42
Tell it to me. Please, please, please.

Rev. Erin 34:44
It goes,

Rev. Erin 34:45
"We are going. Heaven knows where we going, but we know within. And we'll get there. Heaven knows how We will get there, but we know we will. It will be hard. we know and the road will be muddy and rough, but we'll get there. Heaven knows how we will get there. We know we will. Wooyaya. Wooyaya. Wooyaya. Wooyaya..."

Rev. Erin 35:35
It's the theme song for this work for me. And so I just always ask people to have one and you can look up the origins of that song. I give thanks for its existence. But like find your song, find your thing that you can just walk and look at trees and like, restore yourself. Because we need everybody for this.

Rev. Dan 35:55
I got more hope.

Rev. Erin 35:58
Thanks for letting me sing! I wasn't planning to do that. But, man, I just, when you ask about hope -- ! ... Music is a big part of it for me.

Rev. Dan 36:04
I'm glad you did sing. I got more hope.

Rev. Dan 36:06
Well, listen, Rev. Erin Walter, thank you for taking time to talk with us and sing with us at AllCreation. And I hope all of you listening (and reading now) got even half as much as I did out of this tremendous conversation. And Erin, here's hoping that in the afterlife Johnny Cash and your late great dad will be hanging out together!

Rev. Erin 36:27
Yes, sir.

Rev. Dan 36:27
And that in the meantime, we can be treating each other and this Earth that we share with that amount of joy.

Rev. Erin 36:34
Thank you. I really appreciate the chance to visit with you about this really important topic and I hope we'll we'll be doing more work together. Thanks.


Transcribed by Otter and Chris Searles.
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