Monthly Archive: September 2007

Situation in Burma at Critical point

Photo by Worak, licensed under Creative Commons
Attribution ShareAlike License version 2.0:All day today I’ve been meaning to sit down and right something meaningful about the escalating situation in Burma which seems ripe for change or extensive repression. Turns out someone with far more experience has done a great job of laying out the history of the situation there and a useful perspective on what’s happening:

Excerpt from Burma on the March by Gene Stoltzfus (founder of Christian Peacemaker Teams):

Buddhist teachings and values are deeply ingrained in Burmese society and when monks lead, an unwritten message is sent to the nation. The arrest of monks creates a shocking dissonance in the minds of the Buddhist population. In the practice of Buddhism in Burma, people frequently leave the routine of their lives for a few weeks to become monks. With saffron robes, shaved heads and begging bowls they examine their lives, perhaps in the hope of gaining merit, more spiritually centered living, or to move along in their own personal cycle of karma. Some of the monks walking in the demonstrations now are almost certainly people who have only recently joined the monastery for a brief break.


Update on Cynicism and Hope Conference

A few months ago I wrote here about ideas coming together for a conference on the theme of Cynicism and Hope. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve now got an exciting slate of speakers and workshop leaders put together. If you’re interested in coming, we’ve even got an on-line registration form if you’re ready to sign up.

Today I had a piece published on the God’s Politics blog talking a bit more about the history of the gathering. (more…)

Christian Peacemaker Teams: Necrophiliacs or Prophets of Imagination?

This week I got an email from Cliff Kindy saying that he’s returning to Iraq for four months as part of a CPT Team. Cliff’s work as a Christian Peacemaker has been mentioned a few times before on YAR.

In his letter announcing his return to Iraq he said:

A friend asked why I go to Iraq at a time when the situation is deteriorating even further. I go in expectation, trusting that the Jesus way of nonviolence always brings more creativity and positive change to situations of injustice and violence than the tools of war. The resurrection for me is a sign that life trumps death. Yes, it is a high risk project, but a project that participates already in the future for which we pray and yearn!


Use of Tasers by University Security Guards

Last year I posted over on the Shoup blog about an incident in which UCLA security guards tasered a student 5 times in the Library. The accompanying video seems to show a situation in which, in my opinion, security guards indulge themselves in an entirely unnecessary power trip. You can read more of my response in the link above

Yesterday at a debate with Senator Kerry, security guards at the University of Florida used a taser on a student who went over his alloted question time:

I showed this to a friend and his response was that the student seems to be deliberately escalating the situation. Personally, I find the situation disturbing because of how quickly the security guards escalate the situation in the first place, by grabbing him. What do all of you think? (more…)


Just over 4 years ago the Mennonite World Conference held its World Assembly in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. At the time the country was in the midst of a downward spiral under the direction of president Robert Mugabe. There was concern about holding the assembly in Zimbabwe because of the worsening social/economic/political situation, but the hosts, the Brethren in Christ Church of Zimbabwe insisted that the assembly go on in their country. Since 2003 the downward spiral has worsened.  The country is near economic collapse if it has not collapsed already. I don’t hear a lot about Zimbabwe in American news these days (that might be because I don’t hear a lot of American news in general) but the BBC has a video report that is worth checking out.

Clothes, Fashion and Practicality: Where do YARs draw their lines?

Out of all the issues we discuss on YAR, what we wear is probably one of the least important. But we all make choices daily about clothing, so it’s not something to just ignore, either.

How does what you wear communicate something about you to other people? Do you use your clothing as a medium consciously?

Are you more interested in the production of said clothing than what the style, cut, and extras have to say about you? (Sweat shop labor concerns and the like)

How do you keep clothing from being more important an issue than it ought to be? I know a woman who wears plain, roomy dresses she makes herself not because she’s trying to look Amish (not that there are any Amish people in her town in England, anyway), but because it helps her focus on important things and not her body shape and size. Those of you who have worked in medical settings where scrub uniforms are required may know the feeling of liberation by not having to think about what you’re going to wear to work that day.

Is there clothing you just won’t wear? Why or why not?

introduction and confession

I’ve been a member of YAR since its early days (a year ago already!), but have, for various reasons, remained a silent observer until today. I figured it was about time I offered some thoughts, especially as I’ve been so nourished and challenged by so many of your stories, words, thoughts, experiences. This is such a valuable space.

For a bit of an introduction… I find myself at Goshen College, after growing up in another Mennonite hub in Southern Ontario… and I’m the AMIGOS (Mennonite World Conference’s global community of young Anabaptists) representative for Mennonite Church Canada… and I like to think there are some other important things about me, too, but I’ll finish with this: I really like biking. And so this past summer, I was a part of BikeMovement Asia (which has also been mentioned in various earlier posts, and is also fairly well explained at; the reflection below was penned during these days of cycling in late May, 2007.

So I apologise for beginning my posting career with a recycled post, but also hope that these words which grew out of my time in Southeast Asia continue to hold some relevance… (more…)

Mixed Congregations

Do any of you radical anabaptists have non-radicals in your home congregation? I attend a Mennonite Church that has a large number of James Dobson fans in the congregation and another large number of people who do not want to offend any of these folks for fear of conflict and/or losing valuable members of the congregation. A friend of mine who is very peace and social justice oriented is very frustrated by the lack of support in this congregation and even some outright hostility towards peace issues being brought up in church.

We have ceased being a peace church in order to appease veterans and their spouses in the congregation. Some Mennonite women it seems have married non-Mennonite men who have military backgrounds and feel that bringing up peace issues is disrespectful to the sacrifice they made for their country. The women fear that if peace issues are brought up, their husbands will either want to attend a different church or just not attend church, so they don’t really want any peace issues brought up in church.

How do other congregations deal with this? (more…)

Come be my Light, by Mother Teresa

The NY Times featured an article about a new book containing revealing letters written by Mother Teresa (title above). The letters detail that one of the impetuses for her to leave the Lorento convent and live among Calcutta’s poor was a feeling of spiritual emptiness…a feeling she apparently struggled with for her whole life. The NYTimes says:

‘“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” wrote Flannery O’Connor, the Roman Catholic author whose stories traverse the landscape of 20th-century unbelief. “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.”’

How do those words feel to you, YARs? Like, what do you think? I’m excited to hear. The NYTimes continues: (more…)