Blogs

Aug
6

"Transfiguration or Disfiguration? Remembering Hiroshima," by Ched Myers

Above: "Mushroom-Shaped Cloud," by Susumu Horikoshi, age 6, August 1945.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the inauguration of the nuclear age, when the U.S. dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing more than 100,000 people.  We remain today under the shadow of nuclear annihilation; this is thus a solemn day to commemorate Disfiguration

August 6th is also, however, the day that the church celebrates the Feast of Transfiguration.  On this day we recall Jesus ascending a high mountain  at a crucial turning point in his ministry,  to commune with the spirits of Moses and Elijah (Mk 9:2-10).  Ancient tradition identifies the site with Mt. Tabor, a free-standing, almost hemispherical peak about five miles south-east of Nazareth (see Ps. 88:13; Jer 46:18), where an important Old Testament battle took place (Judges 4:6-7:19).  In the gospel narrative, Jesus is about to commence a march to Jerusalem that will culminate with a nonviolent confrontation with the Powers; so he climbs the mountain in order to draw strength from his ancestors.   //more

Jun
28

"Francisco Sí" by Joanna Manning

Note:  Joanna Manning (above) is an Anglican priest in Toronto, a former Catholic religious sister, an activist and a longtime friend.  This post first appeared on her website: www.magdalenemoments.com/Francisco%20Si/

This is the first time for several decades that I have opened up a papal document without a sense of dread at what the contents might reveal. But Pope Francis’ latest encyclical on the environment has proved a welcome exception.

Laudato Sí is an impressive and wide-ranging overview of current global realities. And it takes a realistic view of the dire consequences that will follow if we make no significant efforts to change it.

Many insightful comments have already been published by others, but here’s my two cents worth.

Overall, this encyclical represents a big shift in the tone of papal writings. There is no exclusivist ‘us’ (faithful Catholics) and ‘them’ (outside the pale) mentality. This pope’s God is much bigger than that.

This God’s creative energies have produced the evolution of science which is the ally, not the enemy, of faith. 

Jun
19

"Stand against the Storm" by Ched Myers

Yesterday was both an exhilarating and excruciating day for faith communities around the world.  On one hand, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the ecological crisis was released, and Muslims observed the beginning of Ramadan at the new moon.  On the other hand, news spread about two historic Christian sanctuaries that were violated on Wednesday, in Charleston, SC and Tabgha, Israel/Palestine.  A few days ago I commented on the extraordinary pontifical call to discipleship under the shadow of the climate Endgame.  Today my heart is centered on the murder of nine members of Emanuel A.M.E. by a young white supremacist.  //more

Jun
19

"Stand against the Storm" by Ched Myers

Yesterday was both an exhilarating and excruciating day for faith communities around the world.  On one hand, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the ecological crisis was released, and Muslims observed the beginning of Ramadan at the new moon.  On the other hand, news spread about two historic Christian sanctuaries that were violated on Wednesday, in Charleston, SC and Tabgha, Israel/Palestine.  A few days ago I commented on the extraordinary pontifical call to discipleship under the shadow of the climate Endgame.  Today my heart is centered on the murder of nine members of Emanuel A.M.E. by a young white supremacist.  //more

Jun
16

A Letter of Condolence from Fr. Miguel d'Escoto to the Family Of Tariq Aziz, Former Deputy Prime Minister Of Iraq

Note: My friend Bill Heffernan from Toronto passed this along.  Former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Tariq Aziz died last week in prison from a heart attack.  His body was snatched from Baghdad International Airport where it was waiting to be flown to Jordan for burial.  Here is a letter to Tariq Aziz's son from Miguel D'Escoto of Nicaragua.    --CM

12 June, 2015

Dear Zaid,

I write to you with a heavy heart. You may not remember me, but we have spoken at least once or twice when my dear friend and brother Ramsey Clark put me on the phone with you. That was a few years ago and now I am almost totally deaf and need to see the lips of people when they speak to hold a conversation. That is why I am writing this e-mail at the very kind offering of Naji Haraj and Curtis Doebbler. //more

Jun
15

Can Moral Imagination Trump Political Gridlock? Three Things to Watch for Concerning Thursday’s Papal Encyclical by Ched Myers

This afternoon I was interviewed by journalist Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches for a piece she is doing for Al Jazeera America on what faith-rooted environmental activists anticipate from Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on climate crisis.  “Laudato Sii: Sulla Cura Della Casa Comune” (“Blessed are You: Concerning the Care of our Common Home)” will be published online June 16th in five languages, anticipating the pope’s meeting with President Obama and his address to Congress and the UN General Assembly in September, as well as December’s 21st U.N. conference on climate change in ParisHere are three hopeful aspects of the encyclical I spoke with Sarah about.

  1.  This encyclical, Francis’ second, will confirm the scientific consensus about the urgent disaster of climate change.  It is being enthusiastically received by many scientists for being able to get “a message across to a segment of society that the scientific community could never do," as Jeff Kiehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research put it in yesterday’s USA Today.  Similarly, NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt believes "the pope's encyclical is probably going to have a bigger impact than the Paris negotiations."  To underline the Vatican’s commitment to climate science, the message will be introduced by a Catholic cardinal, a Christian Orthodox church leader and a climate scientist identified as an atheist.  While Francis’ approach will (and already has) drawn the ire of the secular and religious right (including Catholics like John Boehner), it should significantly change the public conversation, and will be a great help to those of us trying to move churches beyond ambivalence. //more 
May
26

AT THE HANDS OF PERSONS UNKNOWN: THE VERDICT IN THE MICHAEL BRELO CASE, by Melanie Morrison

Originally posted by Melanie S. Morrison on May 26, 2015 on her blog.  A longtime friend and collaborator, Melanie (above) is a white woman passionate about racial justice. She is founder and Executive Director of Allies for Change, a network of anti-oppression educators based in Michigan. For the past 20 years, she has led Doing Our Own Work, an intensive anti-racism program for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting racism and white privilege. She believes it is possible to grow ever more aware of the reality of injustice without surrendering our capacity for compassion, joy, and hope. She is working on a new book with the working title Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Racial Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham.
 

I cannot turn away or close my eyes to what I beheld on Saturday as I watched the verdict in the Michael Brelo case being rendered by Judge P. O’Donnell in Cleveland. The nearly hour-long justification for exonerating Officer Brelo on all counts was bone chilling to behold. In every respect, it amounted to a judicial justification for state-sanctioned lynching.

I don’t use the word “lynching” metaphorically. I use it because so many characteristics of historical lynching are replicated in this case.  //more 

Apr
22

"What if it were my son?" by Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith

Note:  This post is from http://candidobservation.com.   Rev. Susan K. Smith (above) works closely with Ruby Sales, Cheryl Blankenship and the good sisters of "Breaking the Silence on Modern Day Lynching" and the SpiritHouse Project. 

 

Freddie Gray is dead and nobody seems to know how it happened.

His body has not yet been released to his family. There has been an autopsy – though the results have not been yet released – and another, independent autopsy has been requested by the family.

But meanwhile, Freddie Gray lies dead and nobody seems to know what happened.

It is maddening that, after a week, nobody knows anything. It feels like incompetence and it begs an explanation as to why such incompetence exists. It feels like information is being withheld in an effort to protect the police.

It brings back memories of how the death of Michael Brown was handled.  /more

Apr
15

"A Letter to Randy and Kimberly on the Occasion of the Closing of the Pasadena Peace and Justice Academy," by Ched Myers

Note: Today I received this email from Randy Christopher and Kimberly Medendorp (above): "When the Pasadena Peace & Justice Academy was conceived back in 2008 it was an experiment in hope. Since opening our doors in September, 2009, the experiment has been, in our estimation, an enormous success – a success in every way except one.  We have not been successful in enrolling students to the school.  Based on our projected enrollment of returning students and new students who have made a commitment, we will not have the revenue necessary to further sustain the school.  At this time the board of directors has voted unanimously to suspend operations for the school at the end of May, 2015.  You have both supported and sacrificed to help the school – especially Elaine, our champion of Restorative Justice and Peace & Justice Coordinator extraordinaire!  We hope you can join us at our Graduation and P&JA Closing Ceremony on Saturday, May 23, 5:00 pm..."

Dear Randy and Kimberly:

Words can’t express how sad this news makes us. 

When I think of what will no longer be at PAJA, these lines from Will Campbell’s eulogy come to mind: 

Apr
9

Eastertide Reflection (Mk 15:40-16:2): The Women’s Witness of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Ched Myers

Image above: Mikhail Nesterov “The Empty Tomb,” 1889.

This brief midrash on Mark’s spare but evocative Easter narrative highlights a central aspect that is routinely overlooked.   Let’s begin with the body.  According to Mark, after Jesus’ execution, his body was granted by the Roman procurator Pilate to Joseph, a member of the Judean council that had condemned Jesus.  As described in 15:43-46, this has all the hallmarks of a political move aimed at prohibiting those in Jesus’ community from executing their duties according to Purity and custom, thus further cutting off the new movement and preventing occasion for more protest during the volatile season of Passover (for further exegetical aspects of this passage, see Binding the Strong Man, pp 392ff.      /more

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