Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Goth Pastor attends O.N.E Convention

The title of this is an expression of my own feelings of dissonance with the O.N.E. convention and that I also felt that last night I was a pastor in Goth disguise (I did not wear any clericals).

The Organization of the Northeast (O.N.E.) as I had mentioned yesterday had its convention last night. It's centerpiece was a community developed plan for one of the local High schools (Senn High School) that was more or less ignored by the Alderman.The Alderman was invited to the convention and did not show up, so the convention was concluded at the Alderman's house.

I am consistently conflicted around these sorts of activist community organizing groups and meetings and actions. Most of what the various organizations that O.N.E. supports or who make up O.N.E. seem to be doing good a necessary work. Also, it does appear that O.N.E. effectively reflects the ethnic diversity of the Uptown, Edgewater and Roger's Park neighborhoods. However, The convention was weird, to me first in that we were divided up into the member organizations to which we supposedly belonged, so I sat with Immanuel, since neither Reconciler nor Holy Trinity are member organizations of O.N.E. This gave to me a sense that I was in the midst of various cooperating factions/groups of various stripes who at times were able to come together and work towards agreed upon goals, but not as the rhetoric of the evening would have me believe "a diverse but unified voice." The presence of politicians was understandable but odd, and their brief "Relational" speeches just left me with political rhetoric, that probably reflects their action in the state and US. congress but to call their remarks and "relational conversation or meeting" was absurd. both because of they simply spoke their propaganda and because there was not time for relating to such a large crowd except to disseminate the appropriate propaganda for the group gathered. Equally odd was the presence of clergy on the stage opposite the politicians. Odd because I really doubt their were many religious people there who came but were unaffiliated with a congregation. I could be wrong but if some large segment of O.N.E. are religious then O.N.E. probably does not reflect the reality of its communities, which would be odd for a community organization. Lastly I was put off by the vague but expected identity of unity that the convention subtly and not so subtly nagged at me to embrace so as to join in the joy of this group of diverse groups. lastly being bussed to the place of the prayer vigil was just a little too organized for my comfort, I did not want to submit in that way to this group. I walked by myself to the prayer vigil. In the end I resisted I think the group mythos and mythology the convention created, in part because I think it is a fable a nice story but not as true as the organizers want it to be.

Of course that experience says as much about me as O.N.E. I am suspicious of groups and taking on the mentality of a group even one I may agree with knowing that there will be points at which I will disagree. I found myself wondering whether or not all the good that the various groups and O.N.E. were doing was done based on the best idea s or philosophies. The part of me that is fairly conflicted about our economic and political system wonders if it is a good thing encouraging people to better themselves and live according to that system. Not that I begrudge anyone the chance to enjoy the benefits I have from the system, but it is a little ironic to me that at least some of the participants desire to or have in some ways opted out or would if they could. I also, am uncomfortable with the grand narratives and there were numerous alluded to including the one of the US as "America". Yes, the mythology of our Nation State loomed mightily in the back ground, a mythology I ceased to believe in before I entered college. My experiences and observations have only increased my suspicion of it.

I would have been comfortable with the convention and my participation in it, if O.N.E. simply saw itself as a place of meeting of diverse groups and people for temporary but on going common goals, and not a place of unification or unity. If "land of opportunity" mythos was not also trumpeted, and rather it saw itself as a movement of continued resistance against the forces of any society that attempt to accumulate power and wealth (though, I understand this as an alternative mythos and may even be uncomfortable with a group that would trumpet it). Then the presence of clergy who are willing to stand up would make more sense to me, but the prayer vigil would not. Rather diverse responses including a prayer vigil for whom prayer is meaningful act while others would choose to respond in ways that would be meaningful to them.

Oh and in the end this all may simply mean I have anarchist tendencies. It maybe that where I connect with our culture is not in these reform movements and groups but in the Goth/Punk resistance against(or apathy) and disillusionment with both mainstream and reform minded groups and mythologies.