Current Events

Supreme Court Hates Women

From the New York Times: Justices Limit Discrimination Suits Over Pay.

From 2001 to 2006, workers brought nearly 40,000 pay discrimination cases. Many such cases are likely to be barred by the court’s interpretation of the requirement in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that employees make their charge within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.”

In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.

According to NPR, one of the cases cited as “precedence” for this ruling has been overturned by congress. If you find the details, link it up.

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…)

anti-abortion, pro-abortion?

I didn’t pay much attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. I skimmed the headlines, noted that pro-abortion activists were “outraged” while anti-abortion activists were celebrating, and went on to the next page. (In case you’re fuzzy on the details, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on partial birth abortions.) But this past week, I noticed that another web site had reprinted Tim’s post, “The Altar of the Gun.” The blogger said he didn’t agree with Tim’s post but wanted to provide another perspective on idolatry. At one point in the article, he inserted this: “No mention whatsoever from this crowd [that would be YAR] that this Democratic congress supports the murder of five million people per year with abortion…”

Abortion is an incredibly complex topic; it’s never as simple as either side wants it to be. Even the words we use, how we chose to define ourselves, matters: pro-choice? Pro-life? Both phrases sort of rankle me. But I really want to know: how do we here at YAR feel about abortion? Since I’m asking you all to perhaps make yourself vulnerable, it’s only polite of me to go first. (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…)

Responding to Bush’s Irresponsibility.

Hi, I’m new.

I was going to leave this as a comment to the post left a few days ago, asking the question how we support our troops without supporting their mission. I decided to leave it as a post instead. Here it is.

I struggle with this question as well.

I think one possible message to send is that Bush, in his latest plan of escalation, in which he committed 20,000 extra troops to Iraq (including giving orders that 4,000 troops deploy to the Anbar province), was irresponsible. (more…)

A Poorly Written, Thinly Veiled Allegorical Short Story

In the year 2032, China, the new democratic world superpower, invaded America. The United States had been hauled before the U.N. security council because of its proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons, but, like so many other “rogue states” before it, it remained defiant. The U.N. attempted to send in weapons inspectors to check on the progress of U.S. weapons programs, but had been rebuffed.

Every diplomatic avenue taken and failed, then, China concluded that invasion was the last resort for eliminating the threat America posed to the world– after all, it proliferated nuclear weapons, had supported nasty dictators, and had a nasty track record of invading sovereign states without U.N. permission.

(more…)

Just an image in my head

I thought I would share this little image that I can’t get out of my head. I don’t think there’s a point here, I just find it frightening. It’s my image for how things are going in the current administration.

The United States is a big car hurtling down a busy highway at about 150 mph. It is swerving a lot and hitting things but keeps barreling on. Bush is at the wheel and his buddies are in the front seat. They’re all drunk teenagers and they’re having a big party up there. The rest of the country is in the backseat. Some in the back are sleeping peacefully and some are holding on with white knuckles and have that freaked out look on their faces. They’re freaked out because they know there is a really big wall just a mile or two up the road and we’re all going to crash and burn. They also have a sneaking feeling that after all the crashing and burning. Bush and his buddies are going to get up, brush themselves off and stumble away – unscathed.

Anyway, that is my image. I’d really like to get out of the car. Anyone else?

Patriotic Correctness

We have all heard of political correctness, which requires euphemistic language when talking about women, minorities, or people with disabilities. While I can understand why people believe in political correctness and I believe it is sometimes justified, I tend to have a problem with it. It’s just that, often, I’d rather deal with real issues than dance around things with politically correct language. Maybe it’s better to offend if we’re being honest, although I’m sure someone could debunk me on that.

However, today I am not going to focus on this issue. Rather, I wanted to piggy-back on a subject Carl began: the character of America. Specifically, I will talk about patriotic correctness.

This, in a nutshell, is political correctness that is used in the defense of our nation. Instead of prohibiting offensive language about (for instance) handicapped people or women, it prohibits talk that questions the preeminence of America. It forces us to talk euphemistically when talking about our nation’s faults or mistakes. There are numerous examples:

(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…)

Christian Peace Witness raises more questions than I had before

Yes, I call myself a pacifist. And yes, I went with a group from my area as a reporter on the Christian Peace Witness. If alarm bells are ringing in your head about my capacity to be objective, you’re not the only one.

Here’s why I thought I could do it: While overall I oppose war and violence, I have a lot of questions and issues with the war in Iraq. The CPW was a response to that war specifically, not a call to disband the U.S. military or whatever. The more I learn about Iraq, the more I realize it’s an intensely complex situation that has no easy answers. I don’t pretend to know what should be done there. Not to mention I didn’t seek out the CPW—it came to me when the local trip coordinator contacted my editor to see if we’d do a story. I looked at the info and realized it would be a much better story if I went with them. My editors know our readers eat it up when local people do interesting things, so I ended up doing a front-page package deal of three stories and lots of photos for Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Tragic Bus Accident

The Bluffton College baseball team was in a tragic bus accident in Atlanta. They were traveling to Florida for spring break training. From what we’ve learned on the news, we know that 6 are confirmed dead and more than a dozen are injured. The bus was traveling on 75 and apparently went over an overpass.

Susan Gascho, former pastor at Atlanta Mennonite Fellowship is at Grady with some of the injured. AMF is helping by hosting families and friends of the players.

Please be in prayer for the families and friends of those killed and injured. And also remember that while this is the most salient tragedy now, there are lots of other people hurting for a variety of reasons.

Bluffton University Baseball Team
Photo of the Bluffon College baseball team from Bluffton website

Anabaptist Radical Needed as Military Counselor in Germany

I’ve spent the last two years doing a job I love, working with American servicemembers who have been changed by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same way that the Pentagon technically has the right to extend a soldier’s active-duty service indefinitely during a time of war, so too do these soldiers have a right to get out early in certain situations. And war has the power to transform people. That’s where a military counselor comes in.

In a time when peace churches are having a hard time finding ways to be proactive in response to our country’s wars, this work gives us just that opportunity. More than protest, more than letter-writing, more than being “against stuff.” We can do better by providing alternatives.

In this position, you’ll learn to understand military law, military culture, and what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. There will also be opportunities to travel in the US and Europe to speak about issues of war and peace, explain what servicemembers who have been in the war actually say about it, and bring the Christian peace witness into the international debate. In the years I’ve worked in this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to speak in dozens of venues in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, and Israel/Palestine.

For more information, read the attached documents or e-mail me at mcn@dmfk.de. I’m sorry to be leaving the job, but it’s a great opportunity for someone to bring in fresh ideas and perspective. Feel free to pass this info on to other people who might be interested. For more information about the organization, check out www.mc-network.de.

In a different spirit

I wrote this yesterday before I read Angie’s post. Her thoughts on Dorothy Day and the church reflect very well my own thoughts. While Angie’s post is thoughtful, mine is angry. Maybe in a few days, I can manage thoughtful but for now, this is what I’ve got:

A Little Stunned

A couple days ago, as I was skimming through the Mennonite Weekly Review. I noticed this item on the front page. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and think, “well, they would wouldn’t they?” and I went on with my day. Now, the more I think about it, the saltier I get. Carol Oberholtzer, the chair of the conference’s Women in Leadership Subcommittee, said she “was a little stunned.” Well, I guess so. I mean, this is 2007, and they are having a vote on whether women can be ordained? LGBT people don’t have a chance there. Here’s what I have to say to all those “credentialed leaders” who took that vote: “well done, the church will be better for it.” No, I’m not just blaming the minority that voted against women and justice but all of them, and the rest of the Mennonite Church with them. (more…)

Split Youth in the Southern Cone

Bouncing directly from Angie’s latest post… always got to give a shout-out to Dorothy! But Last week the passion for exclusion came not from the institution, but from the people themselves, YOUNG people, and a student in seminary…

At the Southern Cone Mennonite Anabaptist meetings in Uruguay last week, there was a large division among the Chilean, Argentinean, Paraguan and Uruguayan youth about what was important about church and our lives as Christians. After a large time of dialogue together as young people, a small group of youth got together and wrote a letter (which was read in front of the whole assembly) about the fact that they were worried about a few themes (of the many that were mentioned in the youth meeting and throughout the conference). They took an anti-dialogue stance towards the mention of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, sex before marriage, and referring to God as Mother and Father/inclusive language. In the letter they invited everyone to do further study of the bible so that it is clear that all these practices are sin and they condemned anyone who practices or teaches these things. (more…)

Who is our enemy?

This morning a friend sent me a link to an insightful article by Glenn Kessler in today’s Washington post. Kessler focuses on the underlying doublespeak behind the way Bush uses the terms “free”, “moderate” and “terrorist”. While we’re all used to Bush’s buzz words, this article sharply tears away the veil to reveal just how untrue the president’s words are.

Yet Kessler doesn’t resort to to black and white truisms that mirror those of Bush. Instead, he lets the gray areas speak for themselves. First he points out that, despite Bush’s claim that “free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance”:

In the two of the most liberal and diverse societies in the Middle East — Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — events have undercut Bush’s argument in the past year. Hezbollah has gained power and strength in Lebanon, partly at the ballot box. Meanwhile, Palestinians ousted the Fatah party — which wants to pursue peace with Israel — from the legislature in favor of Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction and is considered a terrorist organization by the State Department.

He also points out that the countries Bush describes as “moderate” such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia rank about the same as Cuba and Burma on the Freedom House rating scale (see links above for their respective ratings).

As Christians, this question of who is our enemy has a special importance because these are the people Jesus calls us to love. (more…)