All Souls’ Day: Everybody Counts, or Nobody Counts

In his post today, blogger David Henson challenges us to think about All Souls’ Day in the context of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We know that “All Souls Matter,” he writes, but maybe the events of this year should require us to say aloud, “Black Souls Matter.”

We have probably all seen the responses to the #BlackLivesMatter movement that clamor back, “All Lives Matter” or “Police Lives Matter,” from people who think that somehow this movement seeks to make certain lives worth more than others, rather than to highlight the existence of fatal inequalities in our society and justice system.

There is a misconception that stating the value of one group of people automatically devalues other groups, when actually, it is the reverse that is true. It is devaluing one group of people that automatically devalues all of us.

This reminds me of one of my favorite popular authors, Michael Connelly, and Harry Bosch, the central character of his extensive detective series. In a few of the novels, Harry finds himself investigating crimes that others feel are low priority. Who cares who killed a prostitute? Why bother to solve the case? No one cares.

But Harry’s response is this memorable phrase:

“Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

We are all human, and we all bear the image of God, even if sometimes our human frailty and brokenness may obscure it. Sometimes our brokenness, or our sin, if you like, is our inability to see the image of God in others; to value all life and to seek equality, justice, redemption, and reconciliation for all. When we devalue others, either on purpose or by turning a blind eye to their suffering, we tarnish our own divine image. In making others out to be lesser creatures, we become lesser creatures ourselves. 

If I want my life to matter, I must do my part to ensure that all lives, all souls, are understood to matter just as much.

This isn’t easy because we all like to feel superior to someone or to some other group of people. It’s an easy, cheap way to feel better about ourselves. I think that all of us do this in some way whether we are conscious of it or not: I’m better than that poor person, that badly dressed person, that socially awkward person, that black person, that redneck person, that non-English-speaking person, that genderqueer person, that gay person, that addicted person, that liberal person, that conservative person, that fundamentalist person, that Muslim person . . . the list can go on and on.

Some of these judgments are simply unkind. Others can be fatal.

So, on this All Soul’s Day I challenge us to be honest and to think about the souls that society and we as individuals have devalued and marginalized, and to speak their value out loud.

In doing so, we are not giving special value to these groups because the truth is that they already matter. Rather, we are recognizing their value and affirming that we should live in a society where All Lives and All Souls matter.

Everybody counts, or nobody counts. 

Let’s work toward a world where everyone does. 

Here’s my litany of souls that already matter, but that need to be spoken aloud. Who would you add to the list?

Black Souls Matter

Undocumented Immigrant Souls Matter

Refugee Souls Matter

Non-Christian Souls Matter

Non-Hetero Souls Matter

Trans Souls Matter

Mentally Ill Souls Matter

Disabled Souls Matter

HIV+ Souls Matter

Working Poor Souls Matter

Homeless Souls Matter

Trafficked Souls Matter

Sex Worker Souls Matter

Addicted Souls Matter

Convict Souls Matter

Souls on Death Row Matter

Only when we have said, believed, and most importantly acted as though all of these souls matter, can we simply be content to say

All Souls Matter.

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“The Second Cooler” Documentary Now Available for Download or Purchase on DVD!

Tomorrow, November 2nd, will mark Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration. It’s a festive holiday in which families decorate cemeteries and build colorful altars that they fill with flowers, candles, food, and pictures of departed loved ones.

11_01_dia_de_los_muertos

(Image credit)

One of the main purposes of the holiday is to remember and honor the dead, and so it is fitting that Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson’s immigration justice documentary The Second Cooler / La segunda nevera will be released for public purchase on this day.

One of the main purposes of Jimmerson’s film is to remember the dead, specifically, the thousands of immigrants who have died in the deserts of the U.S./Mexico border in their attempt to come to the United States. The film’s title refers to the additional morgue refrigerator, or “second cooler” that the Pima County, Arizona Medical Examiner’s Office had to build to accommodate the remains of unidentified migrants recovered from the desert.

The Second Cooler, narrated by Martin Sheen and dotted with colorful artwork and beautiful original music, is a kind of altar to the memories of these lost and forgotten souls. The film not only seeks to bring them into our collective memory, but it also demands that we consider why so many die in a desperate attempt to come to this country. Second-Cooler-Poster

The film explains how economic and political forces, particularly the NAFTA free trade agreement, created an economic crisis that impoverished Mexican farmers and drove them off their land and into migration. It also tackles the broken immigration system, which leaves many with no legal avenue for immigration and the abuses of the guest worker program, which trap some migrant workers in situations that are not far removed from slavery and human trafficking.

This film is a must-see for anyone interested in knowing more about the dynamics that have caused the influx of immigration that has happened since the passage of NAFTA, and for how the U.S. and its policies have helped create tremendous suffering in Mexico and Central America. The film is an eye opening journey that takes the viewer through political policy, Alabama textile towns, farms that exploit guest workers, Mexican factories on the border, Arizona deserts, and the Pima County Medical Examiner’s office to reveal the human cost of the current system.

Today only (Nov. 1, 2015), you can pre-order The Second Cooler and its soundtrack for a discounted price. Beginning tomorrow, Nov. 2nd, the film will be available for download and for purchase on DVD at regular price. I highly recommend purchasing  the film’s excellent original soundtrack, because all of the songs briefly featured in the film deserve a complete listen on their own. I also recommend the film for Spanish teachers like myself because it is completely bilingual, with interviews and subtitles in both Spanish and English.

Please help support this amazing project!

Price listing for Digital Download Packages (Regular pricing applies beginning Nov. 2, 2015):

Basic Package reg. $19.99 will be $11.99
Deluxe Package reg. $24.99 will be $14.99
Boxed Set Edition reg. $44.99 will be $26.99
Soundtrack reg. $4.99 will be $2.99
Unedited interviews reg. $2.99 will be $1.79

Price listing for DVD/CD Orders:

DVD regularly $24.99 only $14.99
Soundtrack CD regularly $6.99 only $4.33

Please visit The Second Cooler website to find out more or to place an order.

One final note: I had the privilege of helping in minor ways with the production of this documentary, but I have chosen not to receive any compensation for my work. I am sharing this post because I believe in the importance of Dr. Jimmerson’s work on immigration advocacy and social justice.

If you believe in the importance of this cause, please support The Second Cooler and share this post with your friends!

Ellin Jimmerson: Baptist Minister. Liberation Theologian. Immigrant Advocate. Film Maker. LGBTQ Ally. Craft Cocktail Connoisseur.

I’m caught this week in a crazy rush of pre-spring break grading and other tasks, so in lieu of the usual post, I thought I’d give a quick shout out to my amazing friend Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson, who is a tireless advocate for justice, a theology nerd like me, and a mixer of most excellent margaritas.

If you don’t already know who she is, Rev. Jimmerson is an advocate for immigration justice and more recently she has been in the limelight for another cause: marriage equality for same-sex couples. She made headlines as one of the first ministers in Alabama to perform a same-sex wedding last month when Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Rev. Jimmerson has written articles for Patheos.com about immigration and LGBTQ issues, but as of this week she has her very own blog, which I highly recommend that you hop over and check out. Her debut post “What is Q?” draws an intriguing connection between the “Q” in LGBTQ and the biblical “Q” source, and I look forward to reading more of what she has to say!

Rev. Jimmerson is also the writer and director of the award-winning immigration justice documentary The Second Cooler. If you are interested in immigration issues you need to see this eye-opening documentary! Borrowing from the documentary’s website, “The Second Cooler is a documentary about illegal immigration shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, and northern Mexico. The premise is that Arizona is the new Alabama, the epicenter of an intense struggle for migrant justice. The documentary’s purpose is to bring basic immigration issues into focus. Those issues include the impact of free trade agreements on migration, the lack of a legal way for poor Latin Americans to come to the United States, the inherent abuses of the guest worker program, the fact that many migrants are indigenous people, anti-immigrant politics, the reality of thousands of migrant deaths at the border, and an escalating ideology of the border.”

The Second Cooler has only been available at limited showings around the country at film festivals, churches, and universities, but beginning April 17, it will be available online and on DVD. So if you haven’t been able to see it, your opportunity is on the way!

Follow Rev. Jimmerson’s blog or look her up on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with news about The Second Cooler and her other advocacy work.

Second-Cooler-Poster   www.thesecondcooler.com

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