Author Archive: TimN

Fire at the Simple Way

Yesterday morning starting at 3 am, a seven alarm fire swept through the bock in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia where the Simple Way community is based. No one was killed or injured, but eight families are now homeless and the Simple Way Community Center was destroyed. This video was put together by members of the community:

For those of you not familiar with the Simple Way community, it’s the mother ship for the New Monasticism movement which we’ve discussed here a number of times. (more…)

YAR moves to closed author registration

After over 9 months of an open registration system for authors here on the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog, last week I had the first spammer bots sign up for accounts. The names, qwyghxh and lgbletw are familiar to me from other sites I’ve run and likely herald the beginning of a long stream of bots attempting to get by our spam prevention software by signing up as users.

So it is with some reluctance that I’ve made the decision, in consultation with other YAR founders, to move to a closed sign up system for those who wish to write posts on the blog. We currently have 97 users signed up to the site, 41 of whom have contributed at least one post. Now that we’ve built up a critical mass, we can begin to focus a bit more on identifying our vision as a blog and who we want to be.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t have new members. It just means that new members will need to be manually added by a YAR administrator. So if you’d like to write a post for YAR (or know someone who should), email admin@young.anabaptistradicals.org
and explain a bit about why you’re interested.

Opportunity for real action on behalf of Colombia

Tomorrow a bill goes in front of the House Appropriations Committee that would divert U.S. aid from supporting the Colombian military to organizations working for community and social development. For the first time it looks like there’s a real opportunity to end the failed policies of the 9 year old Plan Colombia which has underwritten the Colombian military and paramilitary groups as they targeted the poor and marginal in Colombia in the name of the War on Drugs and later the War on Terror.

Take a look at this list of Appropriations Committee members and see if your representative is on it. CPTnet has a release with more details on taking action. I’d also highly recommend the article, Colombia’s Third Way which takes a look at some of the hope in Colombia these days and explains why this bill is so important to open the space for change.

Are blogging and cynicism starving the peace movement?

Ever since Cindy Sheehan’s resignation last week, I’ve been waiting to find a thoughtful response to this small but potent paragraph in her resignation letter:

I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.

Lots of lefties are happy to join her in criticizing the Democrats or taking another shot at Republican hate mongering. But when will someone take a serious look at her criticisms of the peace movement. Conversations with activists both in the US and the United Kingdom over the last four years have made me very aware of the divisions and infighting she talks about.

Today a friend forwarded me the first article that begins to look at what’s wrong with the peace movement. It focuses on apathy and cynicism more than in-fighting, but its a start. In The Incredible Shrinking Antiwar Movement, Rex Huppke makes some convincing arguments as to why activism among our generation seems to be shrinking. Two in particular are worth noting. (more…)

An invitation to share from our lives

After reading through the 21 comments on Do we look like Jesus? I heard a lot of frustration of people saying that we spend a lot of time analyzing on this blog without much action. When I think back over the posts from the last month or two I notice that we do spend a fair amount of time talking about ideas. Which is very important. But blogs can also be a place to share about experiences from our lives as lukelm shared about his experiences in the Dominican Replublic.

Perhaps its time for a shift in focus here on the blog to a bit more of a story telling mode. I’d love to read more about the ordinary and extraordinary actions that make up your daily lives and perhaps the lives of people around you. How are are we attempting to live thistly Christian lives? Leave a comment or write a completely new post.

Canadian Thistles and Christians in Empire

Canadian Thistle
I spent the afternoon yesterday afternoon attempting to eradicate Canadian thistles from a section of garden. The area had been thoroughly weeded a week before, but already small green thistle shoots were poking above the ground. But the size of the shoots was deceptive. When I dug beneath the surface, their roots were as thick as my finger in some places. When I pulled the roots up, they would usually break off after 9 or 10 inches. But if I carefully dug down farther I could find the mother root, buried horizontally like an electrical cable a 18 inches beneath the surface. Every inch or two along its length the mother root sends up a new shoot to the surface to become another new thistle. You can pull out five thistles from the surface, but the mother root will quietly send up new thistles to the surface five feet away.

So why all this information about a weed? I was gardening with Cliff Kindy, a life long peacemaking gardener. Cliff compared his vision of Christian peacemaking in the midst of empire to the Canadian thistle. Cliff has spent the last 15 years working with Christian Peacemaker Teams in places like Colombia, the West Bank, Iraq and Vieques, Puerto Rico.

A Canadian thistle isn’t a warm and fuzzy image like a donut hole or even a mustard seed (though some have been doing a lot of good work to rehabilitate its image). (more…)

Responses to nonviolent protest in the West Bank and in Iraq

Who is Our Enemy? Part 2

Since Ben Anderson asked about the difference between pacifism and nonviolence over on the Practical nonviolence prevents bank robberies post, I thought I’d start a new thread along the same line to see if others wanted to add their thoughts on the topic. It just so happens I came across a current event which adds an interesting angle to the discussion.

This past Friday, Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire was shot by the Israeli military while participating in a nonviolent protest against the wall being built in the West Bank. I for one didn’t hear anything about until this evening when it happened to show up on my Google news page. A quick search shows that only 13 articles have been written about this incident in the past week. Robert Naiman highlighted this dearth of coverage in a blog post on the Just Foreign Policy website (also sent out as a press release by the International Solidarity Movement). Naiman’s challenge is a good wake up call to pacifists who often advocate nonviolent social change as an alternative to armed struggle: (more…)

The Altar of the Gun

Statue of Bellerophon Taming Pegasus by Jacques Lipschitz. Photo by Tim Nafziger

Note: I found writing this piece to be a way of channeling my own anger at the massacre this morning. But I recognize that anger is only one part of the grief process. Please join me in praying for the families and friends of those killed.

American worships the gun. Today, 33 more were sacrificed on the altar of our devotion to the gun. Specifically to semi automatic handguns. There are already dozens of articles from disciples arguing that the massacre today at Virginia tech could have been avoided if some of the students had been carrying guns so they could shoot the killer before he killed them. We trust the gun more than we trust God. (more…)

Practical nonviolence prevents bank robberies

On Friday, soon after reading Nate’s post on Questions about Pacifism I heard a story on NPR called Killing Bank Robberies with Kindness. Give the story a listen. Its a very practical application of nonviolent principles in the face of expected violence.

For many years bank tellers have been told to do nothing when faced with a prospective robbery. The main goal was to make sure no one gets hurt. The new “Safe Catch” technique described in the radio story above empowers bank tellers by allowing them to step out of the expected victim role. They enthusiastically greet the suspicious person and thereby invite them to step out of their role as aggressor. It sounds a lot like the nonviolent deescalation tactics we learned as part of Christian Peacemaker Training. (more…)

Hey! The church needs your advice . . .

The Central District Conference asked us to post this announcement on the Young Anabaptist Radicals blog. For those of you who are part of the Mennonite church and live in the area it looks like a good opportunity to share your perspective on faith and the church:

Central District Conference (CDC) is one of the 21 area conferences of Mennonite Church USA with most of our congregations concentrated in the Mid States. Some of the committees of the conference are meeting soon at Camp Friedenswald and we’d like to hear from 20-30 somethings about your dreams for the future of the church.

Can you come? (more…)

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…)

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…)

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.

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.

(more…)