Monthly Archive: March 2007

Sin and Oppression (part 2)

Does the Jewish tradition include the concept of sin? If they did, wasn’t it was relating to following the law (order of the religious establishment) in order to please God? So, Jesus, who in my understanding did a lot of anti-oppression work, was a big sinner, right? Sunday in church, someone mentioned again that Jesus was perfect.

Jesus disobeyed most of the ways to be a man in society, as a Rabbi he called disciples in an unconventional ways, and he behaved in ways towards women, the unclean and marginalized, in ways that got him rebuked by the keepers of the law. When I follow Jesus, I am led to do anti-oppression work. I am lead to be with the marginalized of this society, and behave differently as a woman than society has dictated. This will cause me to sin against some of the institutional laws of the religious establishment, right? For example, it could cause me to go against what my parents have told me. It could go against general church regulations against homosexuality, women preaching and teachings about reproductive rights. (more…)

a sign of hope

As someone who raised a bit of a stink about the whole Lancaster Mennonite Conference-vote-to-not-ordain-women thing, I want to direct your attention to some good news. There was also a letter from the bishops recently to people in the conferece that I would also call hopeful.

So, to the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, I want to say “Thank you.” I must confess, I wasn’t sure you had it in you, but with a little time for pondering and for the dust to settle, I see hope, strength, and wisdom in this resolution. I guess I had too little faith. Well done, the church will be better for it. I’m curious to see how this will play out.

To the bishops – you are asking some good questions and bringing up some important issues and I’m also curious to see where this will go.

Analysis of a President

What’s going on with George W. Bush? How can he stay so seemingly oblivious to the havoc (and human suffering) his decisions are wreaking–especially in Iraq?

In my view, he’s a black-and-white, binary thinker who needs enemies and a cause to give his life order and meaning. The 9/11 attacks were a “godsend” for him, as they were for Rudy Giuliana. From a floundering sense of things his first eight months in office, Bush soon got his focus: war on terror and, oh yes, war on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It wasn’t much of a leap to try to “finish” what his dad had started. (more…)

Just an image in my head

I thought I would share this little image that I can’t get out of my head. I don’t think there’s a point here, I just find it frightening. It’s my image for how things are going in the current administration.

The United States is a big car hurtling down a busy highway at about 150 mph. It is swerving a lot and hitting things but keeps barreling on. Bush is at the wheel and his buddies are in the front seat. They’re all drunk teenagers and they’re having a big party up there. The rest of the country is in the backseat. Some in the back are sleeping peacefully and some are holding on with white knuckles and have that freaked out look on their faces. They’re freaked out because they know there is a really big wall just a mile or two up the road and we’re all going to crash and burn. They also have a sneaking feeling that after all the crashing and burning. Bush and his buddies are going to get up, brush themselves off and stumble away – unscathed.

Anyway, that is my image. I’d really like to get out of the car. Anyone else?

Patriotic Correctness

We have all heard of political correctness, which requires euphemistic language when talking about women, minorities, or people with disabilities. While I can understand why people believe in political correctness and I believe it is sometimes justified, I tend to have a problem with it. It’s just that, often, I’d rather deal with real issues than dance around things with politically correct language. Maybe it’s better to offend if we’re being honest, although I’m sure someone could debunk me on that.

However, today I am not going to focus on this issue. Rather, I wanted to piggy-back on a subject Carl began: the character of America. Specifically, I will talk about patriotic correctness.

This, in a nutshell, is political correctness that is used in the defense of our nation. Instead of prohibiting offensive language about (for instance) handicapped people or women, it prohibits talk that questions the preeminence of America. It forces us to talk euphemistically when talking about our nation’s faults or mistakes. There are numerous examples:


Pleasure of the President and the Death Penalty

Recently I’d begun to think that there was nothing the Bush administration could get to me. Yet reading Three fired U.S. attorneys balked at seeking death penalty today got through my jaded, cynical shell.

Apparently three of the US Attorneys who were fired by the Bush administration were not willing enough to seek the death penalty to satisfy the political bloodlust of Bush, Ashcroft and Gonzalez. The LA Times says: (more…)

on history and not repeating it

One of the reasons I think it’s important that white people / Euro-Americans become more than passing familiar with our ancestors’ sins is so we don’t repeat them. Which is precisely what we are doing right now in Iraq. And since Sam Hurst has already said this (The New Iraq looks an awful lot like the Old Pine Ridge – Rapid City Journal, Mar 18) more eloquently than I would have, I won’t try to restate it. But do read his piece – it’s excellent.

Bonus link: have you heard about the privately-run prisons we’re building to contain the imminent threat to our national security posed by two-year-old immigrant children?

sins of our ancestors

Hey all – I figure it’s about time for my first post. I was writing a comment over at Hugo Schwyzer’s blog, and despite my best efforts it outgrew comment-hood and graduated into post-dom. So I thought I’d just post it over here, for your delectation and discussion.

In the discussion thread, Hugo said this (if you want the full context, you can go read the thread, which is interesting in its own right. And apologies to Hugo for picking on him, he just happened to offer up a softball-sized version of the same diversionary truisms I hear over and over from white people who don’t actually want to think about historical responsibility) :

We need to be honest about the mistakes of our ancestors. We also need to see those mistakes in a historical context, and avoid the tendency to mythologize and glamorize those who were the victims of colonization. Cruelty is a human universal, and sin – at least the capacity for sin – is found in every tribe and nation under the sun. Collectively, some have inflicted both more harm (and perhaps more good) than others.

And I respond:

On the one hand, yes, of course; and on the other hand, no. These are precisely the vacuous truisms that are so tempting to _replace_ substantive reflection on what our collective history means and what it says about us.


A reflection on the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

For the last week I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on the service in the National Cathedral that began last weekend’s Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. After some delay, here they are.

Personally, I found the service in the National Cathedral much more powerful and moving then I expected. This may have partly been do to a conversation with a peace activist friend the week before who said he felt the National Cathedral was unredeemable because of its central in the civil religious ceremonies of our country in which God’s will is so often equated with America’s will. (more…)

Just who are the ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites?

Thanks to TimN for cajoling me to write my first post. I’ve been reading this for about a month, quite interesting stuff inside here, so here goes, my first post. As a multicultural Christian with my foot in a multicultural Mennonite church, I wanted to respond to just who are these ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites that Conrad Kanagy makes reference to in his recently published survey of diversity in the Mennonite church. You can read more of the survey results in one of February’s Mennonite Weekly Reviews.

Who are the Ethnic Mennonites? by Trini
So to get the conversation started around this, I wanted to ask, just who are the ethnic Mennonites? (more…)

Brainwashing and Mennonite Colleges

For those of you who have been reading the Jerry Jenkins thread, there’s been a separate ongoing discussion that has developed about brainwashing and Mennonite colleges. Skylark asked me to move this discussion to a separate post to make it easier to sort the two conversations out. So this is an attempt to do that. Here’s an excerpt from the comment by Pete Dunn that started the conversation:

I’ve heard it said that for the most part college professors take their personal liberal ideology and feel obligated to impart their elevated revelations to the hoi polloi that we parents send up for an education – Mennonite colleges being no exception. If I have issues with Tom it would be partly what I would call the “brain washing” that occurs in our Mennonite Colleges — but it all comes out in the wash — water seeks its own level — the truth comes out — just like in blogging!!

I’ve moved all subsequent responses to this comment to the thread below. Feel free to continue the conversation here.

Story includes YAR

I’ll keep this short, since no one commented publicly on my post requesting help for my story about online blogs. Thank you to the YARs who responded to me via personal e-mails. My story is posted on the Urban Connections site.

Or jump directly to the story.

Again, thanks for the conversations. One person, whom I did not quote in the story, as the comment came out of context, said she was dumbfounded that the church is still writing stories like this after more than a decade of overwhelming Web involvement across the world. She has a point, but I think such stories move portions of the church toward understanding of a medium that still feels unfamiliar to many. (I heard a radio talk show host yesterday marveling at the sheer volume of instant messages he received after signing up earlier this week.) There’s still a long way to go in learning how electronic media both shapes and can be used by the church.

Peace not allowed in St. Patrick Day parade

Frank Cordaro in chokeholdThis morning I got an email from Frank Cordaro, a friend of mine and member of the Catholic Worker movement. That’s him in the green t-shirt in the photo on the right after he attempted to participate in a St. Patrick’s day parade in Colorado Springs, Coloardo. Here’s an excerpt from his email:

We were part of the Bookman parade entry, a local book store that paid
its entry fee and was an accepted parade participant. The Bookman
people are peace folks and they have been part of the parade the last
couple of years. This year, as they did last year, folks marching with
the Bookman mobile wore green T-shirts with the peace sign on the back
and front. We also held peace banners.

All went well until we fell in line with the other parade entries, one
block into the parade. We were greeted by a man who identified himself
as a parade organizer who told us we were not a legitimate parade
entry. The police were immediately called into the fray.