Author Archive: TimN

New buttons to make commenting easier

I’m pleased to announce a new feature on YAR. When adding a comment you can click the “>>” button above the text field and you will see a whole row of useful buttons pop out. These buttons will allow you to do all sorts of nice things, like easily add links (“link” button) or put nice styling around quotes (“B-quote” to open and “/B-quote” to close). Try it out and experiment. Remember that you often need to close a tag after you open it. Just don’t overdo the styling.

Earth Day Reflection: You will be exterminated one by one…

Last week I shared the following reflection at an earth day service at Westminster College in Missouri. It’s an attempt to bring together the themes of creation care and peacemaking. The last 3 paragraph are a postscript.

The community I’m going to share about today is located in the San Lucas mountains in north central Colombia. They are small scale gold miners who work their own claims in 16 remote communities scattered around the Sur de Bolivar region. They work with picks and shovels to extract enough gold to feed their families and little more.

In early 2006 the Colombian military began a campaign of intensified military operations in the area. The small scale miners see it as an attempt to intimidate them and force them off their land to make way for the transnational mining corporation Anglo Gold Ashanti and its subsidiary Kedahda to begin industrial scale exploitation of the gold deposits in the region.

On September 19, 2006 Alejandro Uribe, a leader in the small scale gold miner’s federation was walking home from a community meeting when he was stopped by the Colombian army. The federation has been an important voice for the communities in organizing to defend their way of life and their right to the land. On that evening in 2006, the army shot Alejandra dead. Two days later soldiers told residents, "He won’t be your only death. There will be more dead leaders."


Moving from Tired to Rewired?

Okay, it’s a corny rhyme, but given the wildly active response to Katie’s post, I’d like to propose a simple, concrete step to try to address the concerns Katie and many others of your raised. Way down the comment thread at slot #59 I mentioned a system that would allow users to rate posts and thereby democratically moderate what shows up on the blog.

I did a little more research today and discovered a way to implement the first part of this proposal: enabling voting on posts. This system could provide an easy way for folks to offer feedback on what posts they appreciate and which they don’t. Here’s an example of the system in action (see the stars at the bottom of every post):

The voting doesn’t have any effect on posts it just provides information for readers, writers and editors. What do you all think? Would this tool be a useful addition to YAR? Would it help to clarify what posts are useful? Or would it just end up being a tool for dissing people you don’t agree with?

Mob a local store for the Environment!

Ever wander what the opposite of a boycott is? Wonder no more. An innovative nonprofit called Carrotmob this fascinating new strategy for environment action that remixes those old Hacienda fundraisers where everyone shows up for a meal and 5% goes to your local high school.

In this case, Carrotmob took bids for the highest percentages from various grocery stores. And instead of donating the money, the store commits to using the money to do environmental improvements as directed by Carrotmob. Then everyone and their brother shows up to buy stuff from the store at a appointed time.

Unfortunately it’s in San Francisco, but maybe if the idea catches on, it’ll come to a neighborhood near you!

Tom Sine wants to know what you’re doing

The New ConspiratorsBack in September, Tom Sine emailed me asking if members of YAR could read over the manuscript for The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time. I emailed it out to regular contributors and invited feedback. The book looks at four streams of new Christian Expression – emerging, missional, mosaic and monastic. We’ll have a review of the book here on YAR coming soon.

The weekend before last, a bunch of folks (including a few from our sister network, the submergents) got together for the New Conspirators conference in Seattle. You can read Mark Van Steenwyk’s concluding report for the New Conspirators conference at Jesus Manifesto. It sounds an exciting time for folks from many streams to incubate ideas and imagine together. I very much wish I could have been there.

Today, I got an email from Tom with the following request:

Christine and I have been invited to keynote at the Mennonite Conference for North America in July. We would like to share bit of what you and your compatriots in the network are doing. Could you send me concrete examples of projects you are involved with? Could you also send me any creative examples of younger Anabaptists who are creating new expressions of church, community, advocacy, celebration and mission? We want to put older Mennos in touch with what you and other younger leaders are doing.


Colombia, Ecuador and Chavez

Chavez escalates border tensionsFor the last few days, I’ve been wanting to write something about the news from the region Charletta and I recently left. Today my teammates in Colombia released Border Tensions: A Prayer Request. This statement puts things a lot better then I could have. It also notes some details that I hadn’t heard, such as the claim by the Ecuadorian government that FARC commander Reyes was in “advanced stages of negotiations” with the Ecuadorian government for further hostage releases when he was killed.

I have to admit that I didn’t really shed any tears when I heard about the death of Reyes. Under his leadership the FARC has massacred indigenous people, farmers and North American activists and committed many terrorist acts. They’ve built a drug trafficking empire and lost any credibility as a positive force for change in the region. They’ve become a criminal enterprise acting with a thin veneer of ideology and in the process caused untold damage to Colombia’s authentic movements for social change. But the CPT release is a good reminder that this bombing represents a continued shift on the part of the Colombian government “to deal with the national conflict in a military framework rather than building on civil and diplomatic attempts.”

The team’s statement also mentions the “saber-rattling by neighbors in the region”. I’d like to look at that saber rattling a little more closely. Specifically, the war-mongering coming from the party that was not directly involved in the incident, Chavez. In the fall of 2006 I went to Venezuela on my honeymoon and wrote four posts here (1, 2, 3, 4) documenting some of the reactions we heard to Chavez from people we met along the way. At the time we saw that there were a lot of good things going on in Venezuela, but it was also clear that Chavez’s leadership was problematic. While we were there he made his famous Bush-is-the-devil speech that boosted Chomsky to #1 on Amazon. It was a stunt that brought up conflicted response for me. While it was great to have Chomsky get some exposure, Chavez was clearly setting a polarizing and divisive course for himself and his country. (more…)

Bush appointees plan Nuremburg of our time (but rigged)

So you may have read in the news a few weeks ago that US seeks the death penalty as six detained in Guantánamo are charged over 9/11. Though the process has been abominable, at least the decision to hold a trial (as opposed to indefinite detention) seems like a step in the right direction: away from the war on terror and toward a criminal justice response to terrorism. I wrote last year about Britain taking a step in the same direction.

Unfortunately, The Nation has an article today that suggests guilty verdicts in these trials may be a foregone conclusion. Here’s an excerpt from their article describing an interview with Col. Morris Davis , former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions:

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes–the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. “[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time,” recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.'”


United States: the last best hope of earth

Bush hands the mic to McCainI just read John McCain’s victory speech after today’s primaries. This passage caught my eye:

They will paint a picture of the world in which America’s mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals; a world that can be made safer and more peaceful by placating our implacable foes and breaking faith with allies and the millions of people in this world for whom America, and the global progress of our ideals, has long been “the last, best hope of earth.”


Peacemaking, Solidarity and Mining Corporations

As some of you may know, I’ve been working in Barrancabermeja, Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams since January 5. I’ve been writing regularly about my work here on my blog for the Mennonite, but I thought it was about time I wrote something here on YAR.

CPT’s work here in the Magdalena Medio has changed quite a bit since I was last here 3 years ago. At that time our work was still mainly focused on the Opon, an area where paramilitaries and guerillas threatened the civilian population as they vied for control. CPT’s work there has focused on a physical presence as a deterrent to human rights abuses, threats and killings by armed groups. CPT Colombia continues to accompany the Opon, but has also broadened it’s accompaniment to include other communities in the Magdalena Medio region.

The region is rich in resources including oil and the largest gold deposits left in South America. This means it is also a major target for multinational corporations and their proxies the Colombian government and paramilary groups. Communities across the region are finding ways to nonviolently defend their rights and their land. Today, CPT is accompanying many of the communities where that conflict is the hottest. (more…)

Nonconformity to the Powers

In response to my earlier post Transformationist Anabaptists?, Folknotions, asked me to explain why I would put myself in the Transformationist Anabaptist category. I started to write a comment, but realized it was quickly growing to post length. I suppose it’s because for me, this question cuts to the core of my convictions as a Christian. ST’s post on the lure of the dominant culture reminded me how the transformationist Anabaptist stream is so important for me as an alternative and challenge to the constant tug of “produce and provide”.

I see non-conformity to the political and social powers of this world as an act of faith and discipleship, not of politics. Rather then try to make any kind of systematic theological argument for this point. I’ll just describe a few of the influences in my life that have led me to this stream. One of the transformationist touchstones for me was when I first read Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. There’s lots of very profound things in that book, but at the time, the revelation that had the biggest impact on my life was Yoder’s reading of Jesus’ invitation to “Take up your cross and follow me”. (more…)

Transformationist Anabaptist?

In a number of posts in the last few months it has been quite clear that some of us have very different visions of what Anabaptism is than others. I wrote about this phenomenom two months ago on my blog on the Mennonite in a post on the four streams of Anabaptism. I thought that YAR folks might be interested the table I posted based on an article by Rodney Sawatsky (see the post above for more)

Streams of Anabaptism

Anabaptist Stream
16th Century Corollary
Social/cultural non-comformity to the world
Swiss Brethren with Schleitheim Confession
Biblical nonresistance/personal holiness
Menno Simons
Discipleship of Christ/service to the world
Pilgram Marpeck
Political/ideological nonconformity to the political powers
Hans Hut and apocalyptic Anabaptists


Britain stops fighting “War on Terror”

Though I haven’t seen this story widely reported, I think it’s very significant:

Britain Drops ‘War on Terror’ Label

“The people who were murdered on July 7 were not the victims of war. The men who killed them were not soldiers,” Macdonald said. “They were fantasists, narcissists, murderers and criminals and need to be responded to in that way.”

For a long time, folks like David Cortright and Ron Mock have been saying that the first step in taking effective action against terrorism is ending the war metaphor and shifting to a criminal justice one. Miraculously, British officials seem to have caught on. (more…)

Confessions of a half-hearted Christmas radical

Stewardship SantaAs a Mennonite, and an activist, I’ve always been aware of the huge gaping problems with Christmas as practiced in America. I know all about the Christmas industrial complex and the way it has stolen the true spirit of Christmas. I’ve read many an article about simplifying Christmas and getting back to it’s true spirit. I know that corporate America has taught us to live to consume rather than consume to live. I honor Buy Nothing Day.

But somehow, none of this has ever stuck very well. It’s not that I’m a shop-a-holic or even an extravagant gift giver. But despite my radical aspirations, there’s something sentimental or romantic in me that really enjoys the Christmas tree and the Christmas carols and the warm, fuzzy feeling I start feeling sometime in the week after Thanksgiving. And I’ve never really found a way to shape a consistent alternative Christmas tradition.

But this year, I’ve finally come across someone who takes liberating Christmas seriously. My good friends Tim and Patty Peebles are featured on the cover story of the Mennonite: Throwing out the tree. Ten years ago, Tim and Patty decided that they needed to start from scratch in building a celebration worthy a child whose birth challenged the foundations of empire and financial domination. Read the article to hear about they looked to the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany to build an authentic radical Christian Christmas. (more…)

A never moving frame grounded in tradition and held up by suspenders

This morning Jonathan posted this comment over on the Young (White) Anabaptists Radicals post:

If you have any concern for new believers please read this…

It didn’t quite fit with the existing discussion there, so I thought I’d move it to a new post for further comments. If you click on the link, you’ll find yourself at MennoDiscuss, a lively forum for Mennonite conversations.

Mennonite Discussion logo (more…)