*This article was originally posted on Christarchy.com. The “Ostrich-thing” makes more sense if you visit me there.*
Advocacy groups are dumb. There. I said it. You don’t have to agree with me, especially if you are part of an advocacy group. But someone had to say it and seeing as I’m the only one around here to take notice I had to speak up. (more…)
For 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…)
The housing bubble has way-popped over here in Elkhart. There are a ton of houses around here for sale and no one with enough money (even with subsidies) to buy them. And last week an organization that supports housing for low-income folks had to close its doors as the result of circumstances, no operating costs and its board looking out for its own interests instead of the common good. So many foreclosures! :(
So for the folks in the Elkhart MVS unit, it’s been a tough week. But the South central community is still strong…and we believe, getting stronger.
One way we are getting stronger is that we are learning to support one another through these tough times. The NY Times said that foreclosure rates are on the rise, and if communities aren’t organized to pull together, the vacant houses will rip gaping holes in its social fabric. We are also reaching across ethnic boundaries, and learning together to look beyond capitalist assets to enrich our lives. Two examples of the budding community economy: (more…)
For many years now, high profile Christian leaders have been saying that homosexuality is destroying the church. It turns out that it may be their homophobia that is isolating the church and undermining opportunities for connecting with a new generation of non-Christians.
Ten years ago, “the vast majority” of non-Christians [under 30] had generally favorable views of Christianity. Now, that number stands at just 16%. When asked specifically about Evangelicals, the number are even worse: only 3% of non-Christian Millennials have positive associations with Evangelicals.
These changes didn’t come out of the blue. The study found that the strongest negative trait associated with the church among non-Christians was “anti-homosexual” at 91%. A close second and third were judgmental (87%) and hypocritical (85%). According to the the summary of the study, as quoted on Alternet:
Non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else.
I’m really sad today. I often become sad when I read the NY Times.
I wasn’t sure which article I should write an urgent post about, there were so many. Women are being destroyed in Congo as rape has become the most common tool of war and the crisis has reached unprecedented proportions. I was sure I was going to blog about that–as soon as returned to the computer from a session of weeping–crying out and pleading with God that people in every country would respect women’s bodily integrity. Here is that article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html?th&emc=th
But, I couldn’t write about that one because I got overwhelmed by the next article. Rape and pillaging in wars will never stop as long as long as people in the imperial center do things like spread the gospel using Halo3, a dichotomizing, bloody video game. The article is copied into this post. Here’s an excerpt.
Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”
Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church. “
HOW–with what words, passages, or guiding principles–can we speak to our christian “brothers and sisters” about this? YAR has been a community of support for speaking truth to power. Words of advice, comfort, or challenge as we welcome many more christians by way of accepting Jesus as their savior while they were aroused by the massacring and tag-team destruction they just did?
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.
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…)
At this point, it seems somewhat likely that beginning January 21, 2009, a new Democratic administration of the United States will start working to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and beef up Hate Crimes laws. Glad to hear it. What isn’t clear yet is whether the discussion around same-sex marriage/civil unions will be about “what is achievable,” “states rights,” “a man’s journey,” or “the separation of Church and State” (all themes from the recent HRC/Logo forum). The Democratic front runners (the Republicans declined the invitation) want us to know that they are all for lgbt equality … as long is it doesn’t interfere with their chances of getting elected by including marriage equality. It is encouraging to hear that in the coming election, the most electable Democratic position is 90% gay friendly (not as good as 100%gay friendly but I’ll take what I can get for now). We’ve come a long way in the last few years but plenty of work remains.
I don’t have more to say about either Edwards or Richardson for now but I think Clinton should fire whoever came up with those states rights talking points. Didn’t we learn anything from the civil rights movement? States Rights is code language for “long, painful, tortured journey to someone else’s equality” now just as much as it was forty or fifty years ago. She should know better than that.
What I really want to address is Obama’s call for the separation of Church and State, which, for him, somehow means separate but equal (he, of all people, should know where that gets us). I first heard him go down this road during the CNN/YouTube debates. He didn’t seem to have a very good grasp of his own talking points and he ended up confusing even himself with his tortured explanation. He did quite a bit better in the HRC/Logo forum as he seemed to have prepped with his aides more and at least didn’t confuse himself. When he was done I said to myself “well…that’s almost a good idea.” (more…)
I’m writing from the Mennonite Church USA Churchwide Assembly in San Jose. I’ll try to keep some updates coming as I have time and content. I’m here more as a delegate from my congregation than as BMC staff but of course I still have similar concerns whether I’m wearing a BMC hat or just the Katie hat.The speaker at tonight’s adult worship session was Juan Martinez. I didn’t know of him before but you can read a bit about him here. As I listened to him speak, I was reminded once again that the church has a long way to go. The reason I say this isn’t because I disagreed with much of what he had to say, I felt he was right on as he spoke of the need for the church to deconstruct boundaries and break down walls. He spoke of the church needing to able to change and deal with diversity and I was there with him. I wish I took notes at these kind of things because then I would be able to give a better idea of his words to those gathered tonight. I’ll try to get my notebook out more the rest of the week so I can give better synopses.The thing that bothered me was that as he was talking about deconstruction and breaking down walls, and boundaries and such it was clear he was talking about language, race, and culture boundaries (maybe even gender, wish I had those notes that I didn’t take) and anything outside of that gets a little fuzzy. When I hear a good speaker talk about themes like this, I tend to apply the inspiring words to my own experience and think how well it all fits but, as far as I could tell, he wasn’t talking about some walls the church needs to deconstruct (or if he was, he wasn’t making that clear with his words). He wasn’t talking about the boundaries that push lgbt people out or tell them they are unworthy. He wasn’t talking about the walls for heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia. (more…)
For all who have been trying to follow recent events in the Gaza Strip–and for those who haven’t, for lack of any intelligible point of entry–direct your attention to Tabula Gaza, a blogger living in the area. The blog is full of incisive political commentary, ground-level observations, and stories about local folks. I’ve found it much more helpful than news reports in most cases (though he’s not attempting to ‘report’ anything), since it’s so much easier to understanding what’s happening when you hear what’s happening to the police officer down the street or the children next door.
I discovered LarkNews.com about a week ago. Thank you, Utne Web Watch e-mail. I have been laughing my butt off since then. LarkNews.com is a parody site much like The Onion, but it focuses on Christian subculture. It uses Christianese to the point of hilarity. Some of my favorite stories have been “Church tries, fails to get through worship time without singing a Matt Redman song” and “Cleveland, Ohio revival linked to scripture on woman’s checks.”
They have T-shirts, too, for those interested in short snippits for chuckles. My favorites are “Jesus loves you. But then again, he loves everybody,” “I want to be a pastor’s wife,” and “I love cheeses.”
This is perfect for when you’re tired of processing theology or annoying trolls and just need to unwind.
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.
I want terribly to engage the history of this place, to relive the ancient history of the Jewish people and fall in love with their customs and culture. The history of the Jews is my history, not just any history but the history of our salvation and the history of God’s own work. I want to join them in their reverence for this holy city of Jerusalem. But they condemn themselves with their refusal to admit their own complicity in a terrible violence; they place themselves once again in danger of God’s judgment.
Today, we traveled into Jerusalem to visit “King David’s Tower,” the base of which was built by Herod the Great himself; and to see the Burnt House Museum, which showcases the archaeological remains of a priest’s house burned in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The walk through the Burnt House begins with a video dramatization centered around the family that would have occupied this house leading up to the burning of the Temple, demonstrating along the way the tensions that existed within Judaism at the time. But it was not only a re-telling of this history–how could it be? The entire presentation was framed by current events, and the story was told in a way so as to directly legitimate the Jewish control of Jerusalem. (more…)