Monthly Archive: March 2007

Sin and Oppression (part 1)

How do you understand the concept of oppression?
How do you understand the concept of sin?

Is the word oppression an academic, general way of saying sin? What I am wondering is how compatible/interchangeable these words are.

For the definition of oppression, I think about the historic and current patriarchal institutions (military/police, education, religion, economy, heterosexual family, law) which systematically include some people at the exclusion of other people and arbitrarily divide public and private space to accelerate the importance of some individuals the marginalization of others. Oppression can manifest on individual, community, and societal levels.

For the definition of sin, I think of much the same picture. On all levels of life, sin exists too. In high school, the Bible teacher defined sin as “using something for a purpose other than it was created.” Most of the time churches deal with sin on the individual level. But if communities or institutions are manipulated so as to exclude many for the inclusion of a few, is not that also sin?

So, what I realize I am accustomed to thinking is that “what is oppressive is a sin, what is anti-oppression is not a sin”.

Christian Peace Witness raises more questions than I had before

Yes, I call myself a pacifist. And yes, I went with a group from my area as a reporter on the Christian Peace Witness. If alarm bells are ringing in your head about my capacity to be objective, you’re not the only one.

Here’s why I thought I could do it: While overall I oppose war and violence, I have a lot of questions and issues with the war in Iraq. The CPW was a response to that war specifically, not a call to disband the U.S. military or whatever. The more I learn about Iraq, the more I realize it’s an intensely complex situation that has no easy answers. I don’t pretend to know what should be done there. Not to mention I didn’t seek out the CPW—it came to me when the local trip coordinator contacted my editor to see if we’d do a story. I looked at the info and realized it would be a much better story if I went with them. My editors know our readers eat it up when local people do interesting things, so I ended up doing a front-page package deal of three stories and lots of photos for Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Anabaptist Network gathering this weekend

Lora introduced the Anabaptist Network here on YAR in January, but I thought it might be worth updating YAR readers on our sister organization. As of today we have 421 members on our Anabaptist Network Facebook group (link only works if you’re logged in to Facebook).

This weekend we’re meeting in person for the first time as part of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq in Washington DC on Friday night. If you’re interested in joining us, you can email me at nafziger@gmail.com for directions and details. The gathering is open to anyone who is interested, not just people who have joined the Facebook group. If you know someone who is in DC on Friday night and might be interested, feel free to invite them.

Lancaster Conference Credentialed Leaders Respond to Recommendation Regarding the Ordination of Women

Good grief! I need to be studying, but I was sucked in by the latest poll (look to the right)[update 4.15.07 – click here for info about the poll]. Whoever put that up deserves a gold star!! Ever since I read the report about the ordination of women in the Lancaster Conference News last month I have been thinking about posting something about this (Katie already did). I’ve copied the relevant report below from the February 2007 issue. I think the poll speaks for itself; its commentary is more poignant than any I could muster. (more…)

Ain’t I a Woman?

I ain’t actually, but Sojourner Truth was. I copied this from the Modern History Sourcebook.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? (more…)

What is Patriotism?

Recently, Glenn Beck said on his radio talk show that the Democrats want America to lose in Iraq. Why? Because they want to prove President Bush wrong, Beck said. He then added that while some question only the judgment of those on the left, he questions their very patriotism.

This shouldn’t be surprising to those of us who listen to right-wing talk radio. Nevertheless, Beck’s comments got me thinking: what is patriotism? Is it true that people who strongly disapprove of their country’s policies are unpatriotic traitors, or is patriotism a little more complicated than that?

Well, let’s unpack this a bit. According to Beck and many others like him, to be patriotic is, at very least, to support your nation in its foreign policy endeavors, even if major mistakes have been made. After all, according to this line of thinking, defeat and embarrassment are two of the worst evils a nation can suffer, so victory must be fought for at all costs. It would seem, then, that the true patriot should want power, prosperity, and prestige for his or her nation. (more…)

blog against sexism day

That’s right. Today is not only International Women’s Day, but Blog Against Sexism Day – and it’s not over yet, so I can still slip in under the wire, because do you know how awful it would be to blog against sexism on the wrong day? That’s right, if we went off blogging about sexism more than one day of the year, women would start to feel like they “deserved to have equal rights” (Thanks Conservapedia! (via Twisty Faster)).

There are actually many women out there already blogging about this much better than I will. Here are links to just a few of them:

If it hasn’t been mentioned before, Shrub has a very good primer on privilege for men. There are also some great posts from a few good men out there. Please link to more blogs by men or women in the comments. Link it up against sexism!

I’ve been thinking lately about my position of privilege – the first tenet of which is “I don’t have to care or even notice that my privilege exists, so please don’t bring it up or I’ll get defensive.” It’s the first part that I’ve been thinking about, because not getting defensive (not reacting negatively) is much easier than acting positively in the first place. And it’s not radical to boot. No golden stars for that. (more…)

Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church

This is the poem from today’s Writer’s Almanac. I don’t know if [I’m] allowed to post this poem, but Garrison Keillor apparently got permission to post it on the Writer’s Almanac Archive.

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: “Prayer Requests at a Mennonite Church” by Todd Davis from Some Heaven (buy it here). © Michigan State University Press.

Pray for the Smucker family. Their son Nathaniel’s coat and shirt were
caught in the gears while grinding grain. Nothing would give, so now
he is gone. We made his clothes too well. Perhaps this is our sin. (more…)

Who, when, and where to talk about Race

Race is such a sticky thing to talk about. I almost don’t want to discus it for fear of looking like “that white woman who likes to hear herself talk.” I may put some people on the spot in this post, and if you don’t like that, I apologize. The questions:

—What’s the racial/ethnic composition here at YAR? I don’t know most of you yet, so maybe you’re not all white Anabaptists.
—For those of you who aren’t white, how should white people talk about racial issues? What’s actually helpful? I feel discouraged when I read or listen to a discussion on race and then realize all the participants are white. If white folks decide how to “fix racism” primarily by themselves, I doubt we’ll find anything lasting. It’s not enough just to talk about treating everyone right—we have to make sure everyone’s participating in the conversation. (more…)

Looking for Independent Music

I have a short “networking” request:

A good friend of mine, who recently lived and worked in Jerusalem, is putting together a dvd on Gaza for Catholic Relief Services (crs.org). Unfortunately, copyright laws are creating a few road blocks to the process, so he is looking for independent artists/musicians/music that he could use for the purposes of the dvd. If you know anyone, are an artist yourself, or have music you would be willing to share for the project, I would greatly appreciate any help with this. The music should be really wide ranging in genre…and the whole project is really fantastic…

Thanks!

Update on conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo

Back in September, Michael wrote about Agustin Aguayo here on YAR. Today Agustin was found guilty of desertion in a US military court in Würzburg, despite 3 years of attempting to get out of military service as a conscientious objector. According to the Independent, “He faces up to seven years in prison, a dishonourable discharge and loss of pay.” This development is the latest in a very long struggle for Agustin, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. [Update: The Washington Post reports that Agustin was sentenced to eight months in prison, which means that, given timed served, he’ll likely be out in a few weeks.]

Michael, as the director of the Military Counselling Network (MCN), is quote in a number of articles on the case. This probably means he’s been answering lots of media calls recently and may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Keep him and MCS in your thoughts as this case may mean lots of increased publicity for them as well as increased interest from soldiers. They’ve been advertising for help on YAR recently as you may remember.