Find the Good News with Brother Oran Parker
Ep. 108 - The Prisoners - Beacon Series Ft. Venerable De Hong - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

Ep. 108 - The Prisoners - Beacon Series Ft. Venerable De Hong - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

February 22, 2021
Find the Good News, Episode 108, “The Prisoners” A Beacon Series conversation featuring Venerable De Hong, Co-Founder of the Engaged Buddhist Alliance
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My father was a United States Marine that served as a combat engineer in the Vietnam war. On January 21, 1968, he was on the Marine base at Khe Sahn getting a short reprieve from the horrors of war. It was the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Tet holiday. A cease-fire was about to begin, or at least that's what he thought. Instead, it was the beginning of a massive attack on United States forces by the communist forces of North Vietnam. He spoke of it often and as a young boy, I could barely enlarge my imagination enough to encompass what he shared.
 
The siege finally ended in July the same year. The miseries of the Vietnam war would leave a lasting impact on my daddy, the United States, and citizens of Vietnam who were soon to live under the iron boot of a North Vietnamese communist regime.
 
My guest and I did not speak about this during our visit. Instead, what I heard was his account of being a 5-year-old boy living in the shadow of the Vietnam war. During the holiday of Tet, while my father was fighting in a foxhole at Khe Sanh, my guest—only 5 years old—was being rushed from his bed in the middle of the night by his mother and father, pillow in hand, the evening sky illuminated by thunderous munitions, the sharp cracks of gunfire, and the circadian hum of helicopters flying overhead. These sounds would leave trauma in the minds of both him and my father, and it would lead them both down completely different paths.
 
In this episode, I am honored to share my conversation with Venerable De Hong, the co-founder of the Engaged Buddhist Alliance, a Buddhist organization that works with individuals in the California prison system, helping them to cultivate mindfulness and meditation practices.
 
De Hong's journey from Vietnam to California is difficult to fathom as I was born with some degree of privilege. At the age of 18, escaping communist Vietnam with his younger brother, De Hong became a refugee. At the mercy of strangers, he navigated the difficulties of immigrating to the United States. With no working knowledge of English and only $10 to his name, he eventually graduated college, became a U.S. citizen, and acclimated to American life, and it is there that it seems his Dharma path began. Like many of us in the United States, he became overworked and overwhelmed, eventually finding refuge in Buddhism, the religion of this homeland, taking the ordination vows and training of a Buddhist monk.
 
Informed by the teachings of the Buddha, Venerable De Hong was drawn to enter the prison systems and serve those that society has deemed irredeemable. His tools are direct and simple but have had a profound impact on the lives of those he serves. De Hong feels strongly that the Dharma—the teachings of the Buddha—is a bell of mindfulness that reminds us to look directly into the suffering of the world and offer a way out of the suffering, to apply the great medicine of compassion.
 
With letters, books, meditation training, and the gift of presence, De Hong and the Engaged Buddhist Alliance helps turn the wheel away from unspeakable trauma, helping prisoners find their original good nature, and allowing them to begin the process of touching the world with more loving hands, hearts, and minds. One day at a time, one being at a time, the Venerable De Hong transmutes and transforms the old migratory trauma of war-torn landscapes into pure lands of joy.
 
Connected across space and time by war and religion, I am happy to call him my friend, and my true brother.
 
Now, it's time to learn how trauma passes through cultures, across borders, into bloodlines, over oceans, and takes root in prisons, understanding that no matter what pain we've experienced, there is always hope for change, then tune your attention to this Good News Beacon, and press play on a little good news.

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SUPPORT FIND THE GOOD NEWS >> https://www.findthegood.news/donate/ 

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LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ENGAGED BUDDHIST ALLIANCE >> https://engagedbuddhistalliance.org/ 

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FIND THE GOOD NEWS IS PRODUCED BY PARKER BRAND CREATIVE SERVICES >> www.ParkerBrandUp.com  

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Ep. 107 - The Hinge Moment - Beacon Series Ft. Reverend Shannon Fleck - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

Ep. 107 - The Hinge Moment - Beacon Series Ft. Reverend Shannon Fleck - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

February 9, 2021
Find the Good News, Episode 107, “The Hinge Moment,” A Beacon Series conversation featuring Reverend Shannon Fleck, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches
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Take a good look around you, at the people in your community, the leaders, the ministers, the people in positions of authority or power, and pay attention to what you see? Do they look like you, think like you, and generally believe the same things you believe?
 
On reflection, and if I'm being really honest about it, that's what I've experienced most of my life. For the most part, I could easily fit in anywhere, especially if I kept my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself. As long as I behaved and didn't push the boundaries of the status quo then the unseen hand was generally welcoming.
 
When we're not personally running into boundaries it's easy to think that everything is alright in the world for everyone, especially when our focus is dialed in on our own needs. What about everyone else outside that narrow tunnel, the people in our communities that don't see themselves represented in the positions of power or authority, those who can't easily slide on the rails of the system by simply playing along?
 
For whatever the reason— religion, race, financial status, sexuality—we have human brothers and sisters that aren't invited to the table of privilege. Further, many in privileged positions have been curating the systems to keep it that way by perpetuating outdated secular norms. This is the precise territory that Reverend Shannon Fleck operates, and it's why I asked her to visit with me on Find the Good News.
 
Reverend Fleck is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, a coalition of faith communities, Christian denominations, interfaith organizations, and secular nonprofits that work to connect society to faith-based communities.
 
This mission and this conversation are personal for Shannon. She holds, as do I, that people are informed by what they see, and when they do not see themselves properly represented they are actually being held back from the fullness of humanity, effectively stunting their growth into their full potential, neutering communities from the enrichment that diversity and variety brings.
 
Reverend Fleck is a Christian faith leader that is publicly addressing the very real and present issues that many Churches are not addressing. While she isn't a fan of the particularly partisan marriage of religion-and-politics, she does lean her Christian faith directly into restorative justice, as well as the avoidance of umbrella terms that simply placate and maintain old social norms.

 

Shannon wraps her arms around a grace that is inviting, a grace of inclusion, and refuses to sacrifice people against the threshing stone of theology. Reverend Shannon Fleck and the coalition she represents are very concerned with how to represent people, ensuring that they can see themselves sitting at the table.

 
Now, it's time to check our privilege, get informed, consider some personal actions and changes, then tune your attention to this Good News Beacon, and press play on a little good news.

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SUPPORT FIND THE GOOD NEWS >> https://www.findthegood.news/donate/ 

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LEARN MORE ABOUT REV. SHANNON FLECK >> https://www.facebook.com/shannonmfleck 

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FIND THE GOOD NEWS IS PRODUCED BY PARKER BRAND CREATIVE SERVICES >> www.ParkerBrandUp.com  

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Ep. 106 - The Escape Pod - Ft. James Hiatt - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

Ep. 106 - The Escape Pod - Ft. James Hiatt - Find the Good News with Brother Oran

February 4, 2021
Ep. 106 - The Escape Pod - Ft. James Hiatt, Interim Worship Leader at University Methodist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana

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It wasn't hard to come up with a proper reflection for my conversation with James Hiatt. James and I met online in overlapping territory, and it was clear from the very beginning that I'd discovered a spiritual brother.
 
While our personal stories are very different, we have somehow found our way to a common road wide enough to share, and there's plenty of space for others. What was clear from the jump is that James has opened his heart to wisdom, over and again, and in doing so he has expanded the boundaries of what we assume to know.
 
This conversation has fibers of rebellion and doubt, bound up with the nutriments of healing and hope. More than anything, James and I talk about Jesus, which acted as a much-needed inhalation of clean, fresh, rejuvenating spirit.
 
James comes from a place of recovery that has been infused with a mystical perspective and understanding that fuels his passion for inclusivity. The truth is that it is a very rare and healing pleasure to speak so openly and freely with someone about Jesus, God, and the Christ.
 
James showed me a face of Christ that I am so fondly attracted to, and that is the face of Christ that I see planted firmly in the world, out in the wild, with us, not separate from us. He reminds me of the high value of being with the people of the world—in the world—as they are, instead of preparing some grand escape from the worries and woes.
 
It leavens my heart to be able to share this intimate visit with you.
 
Now, it's time to lay aside theology and preconceived notions, prepare to have the temple razed and built anew, then press play on a little good news.

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SUPPORT FIND THE GOOD NEWS >> https://www.findthegood.news/donate/ 

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FIND THE GOOD NEWS IS PRODUCED BY PARKER BRAND CREATIVE SERVICES >> www.ParkerBrandUp.com  

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