Reflections: FROM THE STARS TO THE STREETS: The Miraculous Gathering At East Bay Church in Oakland by Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills.
The people gathered at the East Bay Church of Religious Science in the Oakland flatlands on Friday evening, June 10th had an opportunity to both witness and be part of a miraculous event. www.ebcrs.org The occasion was the Oakland Premiere of Journey of the Universe, an important and engaging new film by mathematical cosmologist and evolutionary philosopher, Dr. Brian Swimme and Historian of Religions, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker. Eight years in the making, Journey of the Universe has as its over-arching mission the weaving of a complex and compelling story about the nature of the cosmos. In the process it focuses on the 14 billion year evolutionary unfolding and expansion of the universe and humanity’s place in it.
The first part of the miraculous event was East Bay Church itself and the all-encompassing vision of complexity, diversity and community that it brings to the city of Oakland and the world. This powerful vision of hope, possibility and healing is the culminating dream of its Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Elouise Oliver—affectionately known as Rev. E. East Bay Church was founded in the mid-70's. Since Rev. E took the helm in 1991, the church has grown from 36 people gathered in a living room to over 1200 members. Rev. Elouise is featured in the June issue of Science of Mind Magazine. www.scienceofmind.com
The second part, was the fact that the audience that gathered to view the film was a microcosm, not just of Oakland but also of the broader human community. A magical and eclectic mix of humanity had gathered together in order to understand and celebrate the origin and nature of the cosmos and our place in it. There we were hurling through space on a small blue planet—with all of its suffering, chaos and beauty--in a distant corner of a magnificent spiraling galaxy. It also felt significant that we were viewing the film and having a conversation in Oakland, a city, that in the minds of many people around the world, is best known for its reputation of violence, poverty, and hopelessness.
Here we were: young people and elders, Asians, Hispanics, Euro-Americans, African Americans, people from the Caribbean and Africa, people who identified as gay and lesbian, environmentalists, rappers, poets, artists, scientists, academics, college administrators, community activists and leaders, Buddhists, folks from U.C. Berkeley and Laney College, Stanford and San Francisco State University. And these were only the people that we recognized!
The third part of this beautiful and miraculous evening was that it demonstrated, based on comments from many of those in attendance, what a rare and exhilarating experience it was to participate in such a multi-layered and complex conversation in which different and often conflicting world views were treated with respect.
The conversation was wide ranging, probing and often challenging as the audience attempted to contend with very different perspectives such as: critically looking at some of western science's assumptions;engaging in a critical discourse about indigenous worldview and the absence of separation between spirit and science; the relevance of Howard Thurman’s observations regarding the” luminous abyss” to Journey of The Universe; the pre-technological cosmological worldview of the Dogon people of Mali in which they accurately located Sirius B prior to the invention of the telescope; the role of Ancient Egypt in the development of the Greek mathematical and scientific traditions, were but a few of topics introduced.
In light of the hostility and disrespect that characterizes so much of the national and mainstream media discourse currently in America, it felt miraculous, for many, that such a wide ranging and critical discourse could be approached with an attitude of deep listening and deep respect.
It felt significant that East Bay Church would serve as one of the wombs for both seeding and expanding this very important and necessary dialogue. One participant observed that, the principle and the pattern of an ever expanding Universe provided the backdrop for an "expansion" of the conversation. In that respect, like many present we felt that we were privileged to be present and able to participate in this important birthing process.
Co-producer Mary Evelyn Tucker, a child of the Civil Rights Movement and film host, Brian Swimme, both agreed that the Oakland premier, at East Bay Church, was one of the most profoundly depthful conversations that they had participated in. Mary Evelyn says that she is "still a child of the civil rights movement as so much remains to be realized from those inspiring days of Martin Luther King and others. We still have a dream. A shared dream for the future! That is why we made this film, to encourage a broader understanding of our unity amidst diversity."
The last word of the evening was reserved for Rev. Elouise. In her closing comments and prayers, she challenged the audience to figure out how to keep the conversation going. She would later share that after the film screening and conversation, the energy and the possibilities were so alive within her that it would be "well after mid-night” before she could fall asleep.”
The critical question remains: How do we keep alive a conversation that honors and celebrates the Universe as the Source of our collective origin and the Earth as our collective home, while simultaneously acknowledging our individual, our collective and our historical wounds and woundedness in a way that fosters healing for ourselves and our fragile and imperiled small blue--home planet? Science of Mind practitioners Bonnie Wills and Sheila Thomas skillfully guided and grounded the audience in stepping into that intention.
If the Earth had voice, and we know that She does, how is she trying to help us answer that question?
Post Script: Prior to the showing of Journey of the Universe the evening opened with a powerful and little known video by Michael Jackson, Earth Song, that surprised many in the audience by the profoundly moving way in which Michael encapsulates and reveals our common peril in the face of our collective human folly. In a passionate plea in the form of a soul stirring bluesy ballad Michael cries out and pleads for us to listen to and be concerned about the welfare of the dispossessed forests, animals and peoples of the Earth. In the closing stanza of this heart wrenching lament he leaves us with the haunting refrain and evocative question! What about us?
With Sincere and Deep Gratitude
belvie rooks & Dedan Gills, Co-Founders, Growing A Global Heart
***"From the Stars to the Streets." One of the themes in Hey Listen Up! A Sense of Self--A Sense of Place created by Belvie Rooks and also the title of a book by Jim Conlon entitled, From the Stars to the Streets: Engaged Wisdom in a Broken-hearted World.
Journey of the Universe
20-Part Educational DVD Series: AVAILABLE August 15th !!!
Featuring educators, Indigenous leaders, scientists and environmentalists
Including, Belvie Rooks, Carl Anthony, Drew Dellinger, Cynthia Stokes Brown,