Touching Stones: Book release event celebrates journey from an Iowan dairy farm to North Minneapolis

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Marque Jensen, North Minneapolis resident, blogger and author has released his first book. “Touching Stones, Turning Tables and Crying in the Rain: Stories from a Journey to Beloved Community” He invites you to a book release party April 4 in North Minneapolis. Cross Connections Center, 1823 Emerson Ave North Minneapolis 7 – 10 pm.

I hope you can join us April 4 to celebrate this book and the community it represents. This is a collection of stories from my own life Journey, from a dairy farm in North East Iowa, to raising a family in North Minneapolis where we are now part of a multi-cultural/racial/lingual Beloved Community.

The book is not a memoir, but is intended to answer two questions. The first is one I frequently get asked and arises from confusion I often evoke as people try to determine what social boxes to put me in. The question may take several forms but is usually derived from this: “How did a white farm boy from Iowa, become an urban guy, committed to justice, and so at home in diverse communities that he is often mistaken for being Latino or bi-racial?” However the more important question which I hope to push others into discussion is, “How can you, regardless of your racial/cultural background, help bring Beloved Communities into your life by living beyond the constraints of race and privilege?”

The concept of Beloved Community was popularized by Martin Luther King Jr. as the end product in the fight for Civil Rights. He believed the goal of the struggle was not ending segregation, obtaining justice, or even punishing racists. The King Center Web Site states:

As early as 1956, Dr. King spoke of The Beloved Community as the end goal of nonviolent boycotts. As he said in a speech at a victory rally following the announcement of a favorable U.S. Supreme Court Decision desegregating the seats on Montgomery’s busses, “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

For more info visit http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy#sub4

In my experience Beloved Community is possible, beginning with groups of people who live out sincere expressions of love; inclusion is truly practiced, privilege is recognized and then either denied or shared (depending on the situation) and equity is experienced. While Beloved Community is nowhere near a universal experience, it is an expression of human relationships we can begin to taste.

The title; “Touching Stones, Turning Tables, and Crying in the Rain” are from experiences I have had, but also represent practices that should be normative with people seeking to live in Beloved Community. “Touching Stones” refers to a visit to the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery Alabama and reflects the importance for us to learn about injustices of the past and create memorials to serve as reminders to keep the past in perspective as we seek to live lives of justice into the future. “Turning Tables” refers to the time Jesus was angry about injustice and greed in the temple. He overturned tables and drove out the abusive spiritual leaders and merchants, in our lives this represents the need to feel “righteous anger” and a willingness to confront and disturb abusive systems. Finally “Crying in the Rain” refers to a real late night drive from Mexico, but it symbolizes the need to be personally and emotionally committed to others. It is about true empathy (feeling with) rather than simplistic compassion (feeling for).

Memorials to build awareness, anger to confront injustice, and empathy through true human connectedness are at the heart of creating and maintaining a community which lives out the dynamics of Beloved Community. This book is intended, through stories and probing questions, to help individuals and diverse groups enhance, or maybe begin, their own journey to live in this Beloved Community.

You are invited to a community celebration of the book’s release, April 4, 2014. It will be a night of readings from the book, songs and spoken word by guests, and opportunities to connect with neighbors and make new friends. The event will be held at 7-10 pm at Cross Connections Community Center at 1823 Emerson Ave North. Light snacks and refreshments will be served, books and additions drinks will be available for purchase.