Author Archive: TimN

Jarrod McKenna hiding in training area to halt US and Australian military training exercises

A few years ago I published an interview on YAR with Jarrod McKenna, an Australian Christian and activist. Since then, Jarrod has occasionally participated in discussions on YAR and I’ve had a number of phone conversations with him as part of building a Christian Peacemaker Teams presence in Australia. He’s a committed and passionate advocate of Christian nonviolence.

The Bonhoeffer 4
photo via Indymedia

Today, Jarrod and 3 other Christians are hiding in the Shoalwater Bay military training area in order to stop joint training exercises by Australians and US troops in which they practice invading a Muslim town. (more…)

Would you like to train with Christian Peacemaker Teams in London?

For the last couple years, I and others been working to organize a training for new CPTers in Europe. Earlier this year we announced that we had enough applicants to move ahead with a CPT training for new corps members in London in October. This week, we are on the brink of having to cancel that training due to lack of participants. In this final push for trainees, we are opening it up to those of you in North America (or others outside Europe) who might be interested in traveling to London for the month long training from October 1st through October 31st. Aside from the transportation costs to get there, all other costs would be covered including room and board. (more…)

What an Anabaptist aproach to the Bible means for me

Jesus Bible icon

A few weeks ago, in a discussion thread over here, folknotions asked the question (seconded by Tim Baer): “What do radical anabaptists believe about the Bible?”. I’ve been pondering this question for a few weeks and I haven’t come up with anything definitive, but I do have a few thoughts to share. It just so happens that DenverS posted a piece two weeks ago that very much speaks to this question as well. I’d love to hear what others of you (especially women) think as well. We’ve already got a quite active The Bible so if you add your piece to that category, we could even have ourselves a “YAR on the Bible” series.

My awareness of how I read the bible has been strongly shaped by my experience of British Anabaptism through working Anabaptist Network. The second of the Anabaptist Network’s seven core convictions is:

Jesus is the focal point of God’s revelation. We are committed to a Jesus-centred approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.(read more from the AN)


Corporations, Scriptural Sacrilege and Saucepan Revolutions

Crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

Every once in a while, I stumble across a bunch of links all at once that don’t quite have the coherence to link together in one story, but each offer a compelling perspective. Here are the links that caught my eye this week with brief summaries of the stories:

  • Life Inc: How the world became a corporation and how to take it back – I first became aware of Douglas Rushkoff last month after he published two of the best articles on the financial crisis I’ve read (here and here). Now he has a new book out on corporatism that lucidly illuminates the ruthless role of corporations in our economy as they extract maximum value while giving as little as possible in return. The article above includes brilliant excerpts from chapter 8 and chapter 9 of his book.
  • Onward, Christian Soldiers – GQ magazine got their hands on cover sheets from Donald Rumsfeld’s reports to Bush featuring bible verses superimposed on images of war machinery. I don’t use the term lightly, but these images are sickeningly sacrilegious. In the lower left hand corner you can see the dates of each report. They were used during the first days and months of the Iraq invasion. These images go along way to cement the invasion in people’s minds as the face of US Christianity.


A Review of After the Mayflower, We Shall Remain

Chris Eyre working with cast while filming at Red Clay. (c) Billy Weeks

adapted from As of Yet Untitled

Sunday evening I watched the first episode of We Shall Remain, a five part PBS series you can watch for free on their website. If you have 75 minutes to spare, don’t bother reading this review, just go watch After the Mayflower, the first episode, for yourself.

Contrary to its name, After the Mayflower starts slightly before the Pilgrims made landfall in Plymouth and provides a brief, but rich window into the way of life for the Wampanoag, the local Native American tribe near Plymouth, before the Pilgrims arrived. What was it like to be Wampanoag, the people of the first light, stretched out along the ocean, clearly aware of your place in the continent, welcoming the sun before all others? We also learn about the broad strokes of their political relationships with other local tribes as well as the plague that arrived just before the pilgrims killing 9 in 10 Wampanoag.

The documentary goes on to span the first 60 years of Native American and English relations, beginning with the first treaty between Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag and ending with King Philip’s war, one of the bloodiest wars in North American history proportional to the population. It offers some challenging questions for pacifists. Especially Christian pacifists.

Resurrection hope for new Mennonite Church USA executive director

I was originally writing this as a comment responding to the Search for next Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA post by ST, but it got quite long and so I posted it on As of Yet Untitled too.

Over on Young Anabaptist Radicals, we recently had a post asking for opinions and thoughts regarding the search for a new Mennonite Church Executive director. I asked to hear more about the job of the current executive director and Dave S responded with an overview of the work Jim Schrag does. One of the things that struck me about his response was the amount of time Jim spends focused on structures. Dave mentions "agencies, conferences, schools… many groups, convention planning, several boards, committees and leadership groups, and so on".

Reading Dave’s comment led me to a clearer sense of my hopes for the new executive director: that he or she can facilitate the de-bureaucratization of Mennonite Church USA and its agencies.


Invitation to sign open letter to Mennonite Church USA

The Open letter movement is now inviting non-pastors to sign on to their letter as well. Here’s their invitation for all of you from one of the organizers:

I thought some of YAR’s readers might be interested in this: More than 100 Mennonite pastors and people in ministry have signed a letter calling for Mennonite Church USA to extend full welcome to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). The signers invite the church to confess its exclusion of LGBT people and witness to Jesus’ Good News of “radical hospitality and extravagant love.” Everyone who considers themselves part of MC USA is invited to sign the letter, which can be found at

Thanks –
Sheri Hostetler
Pastor, First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and one of the Open Letter’s authors

This is not a riot: an effective, nonviolent response to attacks by riot police

In my experience, there are few things more intimidating then an advancing line of fully suited, helmeted, baton wielding riot police. They move forward with the full weight of the state behind them (if not the law) and stomp or beat everything in their path with a chilling methodical certainty. Charging riot police are meant to activate our deepest fight or flight instincts. I’ve witnessed both responses, though I’ve always chosen the latter. I never felt like I had much choice as a committed pacifist.

On Wednesday, in London, disciplined climate change activists found a remarkably simple third way. They stood their ground, put their hands in the air and chanted “This is not a riot”.


Of Playgrounds, Chicago Housing and Ning

crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

Last Saturday I rode my bicycle out to First Church of the Brethren for meetings. along Van Buren Street. As I biked away from the loop, west along Van Buren St., commercial properties gave way to the brand new condos where young urban professionals have recently arrived from the suburbs. As I went farther west I began to see a mix of older, more run down housing mixed with blocks full of brand new condos, a combination typical of neighborhoods in transition driven by property speculation and developers. I was reminded of the abrupt halt that the economic crisis has brought to the gentrification process. For some this has meant a major loss of invested capital, for others it has meant welcome breathing space on the brink of being pushed out of their homes due to rising rent costs and property taxes.

Just after the last block of new condos, I noticed remnants of an apparently under construction playground abandoned amidst dead tree branches and litter:

Playground at former Rockwell Gardens site


Christians: the vanguard of American anti-capitalist sentiment?

Shane Claiborne breathes fire

I’ve been wanting to write up a longer introduction to this link for two weeks, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Zach over at Revolution in Jesusland was visiting European lefties and told them that Christians are on the vanguard of American anti-capitalist sentiment:

So when I bring up the “Revolutionaries” of the American church, people over here completely freak out. They cannot believe it. They will not believe it. Their faces wince up, because they know I can’t be making this up completely, but it’s just too much to process. They dismiss it. There’s a strong stereotype of the “ignorant protestant preacher” and they can’t reconcile it with what I’m saying.

Somehow, eventually, these two mainstream forces that are questioning capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic will have to get to know each other, but that’s probably a while off.


US gun manufacturers fuel Mexican drug cartels

Crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

It’s rare I pick up the newspaper in the morning and read an article about the war on drugs that leaves me feeling encouraged. In fact, I don’t think its every happened before. But this morning, I read about hearings in congress that are identifying the role of the US government in fueling the growth of massive drug cartels just across the border in Mexico.

If you’ve been reading the news on the drug trade from Mexico over the last couple years (if not see the wikipedia article), you’ll have heard about the increasingly powerful and violent cartels that have infiltrated the Mexican police and who regularly carry out kidnappings and assassinations. Reading this news its often easy to put the blame solely on the shoulders of corrupt Mexican government officials or lack of legitimate economic opportunity in Mexico. But it’s not that simple.

Anabaptist Humor: FAIL

Reliable truck fail

This evening I decided to lazy-research (aka googling) Anabaptist humor. It turn’s out we don’t have any. According to the first result for Anabaptist humor on Google:

[Anabaptist] interpretation of the New Testament, especially Ephesians 5:4, did not allow for jesting or joking. The Christian was expected to prune the heart and mouth of all unbecoming thoughts, words, and actions. Unseemly light-hearted behavior was often summed up in the word “levity.” In addition, the Mennonites were concerned that houses of prayer and worship not be turned into houses of entertainment and mirth through humorous allusions and stories.

This serious mien was reinforced by the long period of intense persecution in the early development of Anabaptism.

So how bad is our serious mien? (more…)

The Capricious hand of ICE and Lenten fasting

crossposted from As of Yet Untitled

On Thursday evening Charletta and I watched The Visitor. Charletta and I watched the The Visitor last night. Friends had recommended it and I expected a quirky, lovable independent film. It’s this, but it is also a devastating portrait of ICE detention centers from the inside and draws us into the story of the way they tear apart families and dehumanize people. Yet its not a depressing film. It combines gritty honesty and playful hope in an strikingly un-Hollywood way.

After the film finished, I thought of my friend Anton Flores (see my profile of him from last fall) whose life work is supporting those who have become ensnared in the immigration system. The next morning I woke up to an email from Anton describing his DriveFast, in which he will abstain from driving at all during Lent. His pledge, however, isn’t just motivated out of green sensibility. Instead it points to the way drivers license restrictions are used to control and dominate undocumented workers in the small town in Georgia where he lives. He’s told me stories of standing besides immigrants as they are belittled by judges for driving without a license, even as they embody the system that is taken that right away. I stayed with a family in his neighborhood who must drive every day without a license because they have no other way to get to their job. They live in constant danger of being pulled over and possibly deported (more…)

Facebook as a tool against repression

cross posted from As of Yet Untitled

Last Sunday, a friend of mine got up and shared about the detention of Philip Rizk, a German-Egyptian activist and journalist. Phil had roomed with my friend at Wheaton College and was a best man at his wedding. And now he was in secret detention in Egypt. Two days before he was picked up by an unmarked vehicle during a Gaza solidarity protest. The Egyptian police weren’t giving out any information as to his whereabouts. The only information his family could get was confirmation that he was being held.

What could friends in the US do to support Phil? Like many, they turned to Facebook. In recent years, Facebook has become a tool of choice for campaigners around the world, including Egypt. Last October, Wired magazine ran an extensive article on Egyptian activists who were organizing on Facebook to challenge the repression of the Egyptian government. Now, people from around the world joined the Free Philip Rizk group on Facebook.

For those not familiar with Facebook, it describes itself as a tool for mapping social relationship. When friends of Phil began inviting their friends to join the Free Phil group, these friends in turn could invite their own friends to join at the click of a button. Some people replaced their profile photos with a Free Phil banner so that anyone looking at their profile would see the image. By the time I saw the group on Monday morning there were thousands of members. As of today, there are 7,662 members.

But what’s the point of all this virtual organizing? What good does it do? (more…)

YAR’s word cloud as interpreted by Wordle

This evening while browsing the 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year I came across Wordle, a wonderful tool for building word clouds.

What are word clouds? We’ve actually already got our own rather dull cloud of post tags tag cloud way down there on the right hand column. In this case the categories most often used are larger and the categories less often used are smaller.

The first cloud below is based on all the words in recent posts on YAR and the second on all recent comments on YAR. The bigger the word, the more often it is used. I think you’ll agree its a fun and informative look.:

YAR posts
Wordle: YAR - Feb 9, 2008
YAR comments
Wordle: YAR comments - Feb 9, 2008
Note that both of these representations are fleeting as they change as soon as the next comment or post is added.