We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II

On the opening of Women's History Month, and inspired by reading the message of Pope Benedict this Lent “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II

Nuns’ Statement Left at Silo N-8

October 6, 2002

Who abides in God’s heart [are]

Those who heal rather than hurt,

And those who love rather than hate…Psalm 15

We women religious, naming ourselves Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II, come to Colorado to unmask the false religion and worship of national security so evident at Buckley AFB in Aurora, the Missile Silos, and in Colorado Springs: Schriever AFB [the space warfare center], the Air Force Space Command Center at Peterson AFB, Cheyenne Mountain (NORAD), and the Air Force Academy. We reject the mission of these along with the US Space Command and Stratcom [formerly SAC] in Omaha, Nebraska.

We come in the name of Truth, ar-Nur, the Light. God alone is master of space, of the heavens that “pour forth speech…There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (PS. 19:2), a voice that proclaims world community, not domination of the world’s economy; peace, not planning for space warfare.

We hope in the light of that world to name things what they are, to unmask the lies, abuses, and racism hidden in the rhetoric of patriotism, security and moral superiority. We reject the US Space Command “Vision for 2020” to dominate space for military operations; to exploit space as a US 4th frontier, making all other nations vulnerable to US conventional and nuclear attacks; to integrate space force for warfighting; to abuse the Aleutian Islands and other lands with interceptors and spy satellites and to waste more billions of dollars and more human and material resources, causing the destruction of earth and the desecration of space.

We walk in the name of the Shepherd, ar-Rashid, the One who leads us on the path to justice for the “have-nots” rather than military power “to deny others the uses of space” and even of their own resources. We walk unafraid.

We trust the Shepherd who is also the Way of active nonviolence and generous sharing that will lead to true security.

We act in the many names of God the Compassionate, ar-Rahim: our Life, our Peace, our Healer to transform swords into plowshares, our violence and greed into care for the whole community of earth and sky, not as masters, but as servants and friends.

We pray in the name of al-Qabid, the One who holds the whole world, who said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (Jn. 14:13).

Shalom Salaam Shanti Peace

Carol, Jackie, Anne, Ardeth

Oh, my God, teach me how to be a peacemaker in a hostile world (Ps. 120).

Mid-East Peace Statement of Religious Leaders

National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East

Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is More Urgent Than Ever.

Concerned with new challenging developments in the Middle East, as leaders of major Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations inspired by core teachings of our traditions, we affirm with urgency that Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is more vital than ever. We remain guided by our founding “Principles of Cooperation” in which we acknowledge how our bonds with those on different sides of the conflict sometimes lead to differing viewpoints, and we reemphasize our common agenda for peace. We derive encouragement from benchmark principles developed by Arabs and Israelis in earlier formal and informal negotiations that provide practical parameters for a peace agreement that could be acceptable to majorities of Israelis and Palestinians.

At this time of momentous changes, the drive for Israeli-Palestinian peace must be viewed in the context of:

the hopes and challenges related to the Arab Spring, including concerns for the rights of minorities;

the aftermath of the war in Iraq, including challenges to Iraqi democracy and stability;

the future of Afghanistan as the U.S./NATO role winds down;

tensions in U.S.-Pakistan relations;

the deepening crisis in Syria; and

the dangers of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear development activities.

Appreciating that we are addressing these issues in other forums, we agreed that all of these developments make efforts for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace more, not less, urgent. Anchored in the deep concerns of our religious traditions to respect the hopes and rights of all people to live in peace, we reaffirm our commitment to work together for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, including a negotiated two-state peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. We acknowledge that 2011 was a difficult and frustrating year. While majorities of Israelis and Palestinians continue to long for peace, political problems on both sides inhibit leaders from moving forward. The months ahead, leading up to U.S. national elections, present a special challenge. We urge candidates not to use any rhetoric that

could make prospects for peace more problematic. As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, we strongly caution candidates to do no harm to chances for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

More specifically, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East calls on the

Administration, the Congress and candidates for office to support the following steps:

Address warnings to both sides to prevent violence, and undertake diplomatic efforts, in coordination with the

Quartet, to help maintain a durable, effective ceasefire; all attacks on civilians must immediately end;

Continue to support Palestinian state-building and economic development capacity, including immediately lifting

the Congressional hold on humanitarian aid;

Support Palestinian efforts to form a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza on the

essential conditions that it agree to halt violence, respect all existing agreements between Israel and the

Palestinian Authority, and negotiate a two-state peace agreement with Israel;

Urge Israel to halt all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem; and

Urge a resumption of negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, based on U.N. Security Council

Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and drawing on elements from the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the unofficial Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), and the Geneva Accord (2003) which might lead to an agreement acceptable to both sides. We believe that U.S. support for these steps is essential to preserving hope for negotiated Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace, and that achieving peace would have profoundly positive effects on other current conflicts and challenges in the Middle East. As national religious leaders, we pledge to urge members of our communities across the country to work actively in the coming months to preserve and further prepare the ground for Middle East peace, and to support positive efforts by political leaders in both parties to help move towards this goal.

Released March 1, 2012

E-Mail: usicpme@aol.com

Website: www.nili-mideastpeace.org

Environmental Working Group and NATO/G8

mostly written by Tanya Kerrsen of Food First.

CANG8 Environmental Working Group – Vision Statement & Call to Action (DRAFT)

We stand in solidarity with rural and urban communities of the global North and South who are exposed to the hazards of climate change; ecological degradation and contamination; and land and resource grabs. We believe in food, resource and climate justice rooted in sustainability and democracy. We call on activists, concerned citizens, farmers, indigenous peoples and environmentalists to join us in Chicago in non-violent protest of the closed-door NATO/G8 summits and to participate in an open, civil society discussion of the G8’s environmental impacts and community-based alternatives.

What is CANG8?
The Coalition Against NATO/G8 (CANG8) is a broad-based coalition of civil society groups—including environmental, interfaith, labor, LGBTQ groups and others—formed in opposition to the NATO/G8 “war and poverty agenda.” Leaders and finance ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) economic powers as well as representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance will be coming together for a private summit in Chicago on May 19–21, 2012. The policy priorities of these two bodies have enormous influence on communities throughout the world, yet their summits are closed to democratic participation. By sponsoring a parallel Peoples’ Summit, rally and march, CANG8 aims to raise the voices of civil society groups to articulate their own needs, experiences and priorities for global development and security.

What is the CANG8 Environmental Working Group?
The CANG8 Environmental Working Group (EWG) was formed to highlight the environmental impacts of G8 policies at the NATO/G8 protests in Chicago. The goal of the EWG is to amplify the voices of affected communities and social movements—locally, nationally and globally—fighting to protect their lands, natural resources and biodiversity from destructive and exploitative development policies. We also seek to help connect the dots between war and militarism; the extractive, expansionist development model; and the global environmental and climate crisis. What CANG8 calls the “war and poverty” agenda is also an agenda of environmental destruction and climate chaos.

As of 2010, the G8 countries represented 51 percent of global energy production, 55 percent of global energy consumption and 42 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Keystone XL pipeline is perhaps the highest profile recent example of the expansion of extractive industries, which is moving increasingly into high-risk environments like the Alberta Tar Sands, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, shale oil and gas fields around the world, and deepwater reserves like the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. Families and children affected by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas suffer grave illness from water contamination and the destruction of their rural economies based on tourism, agriculture and recreation. Meanwhile, degradation and climate change is devastating millions of livelihoods, particularly in the global South. Indigenous peoples and subsistence farmers face floods, droughts and other extreme weather events. As many as 200 million people will be displaced by worsening natural disasters and climate change. Without a radical change in our global energy use and economic system, such “climate chaos” is expected to worsen, with devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable people. The global climate crisis requires that we rethink “business as usual,” respect natural limits to economic growth, and rebuild sustainable local economies.

We denounce…

Resource wars waged over the control of land, water, minerals, oil, gas and other natural resources. [In Africa, for instance, over 35 million hectares (86m acres) of prime farmland and forests have been violently grabbed for export production or land speculation since 2008.] We strongly condemn the forced displacement and military and police repression of communities struggling to defend their lands and resources.

Free trade agreements that open the door to the unfettered corporate exploitation of natural resources; destroy locally-based economies and food systems; and promote a corporate “race to the bottom” towards countries (and “free trade zones”) with lower or non-existent environmental and labor regulations.

False solutions to climate change that allow the biggest polluters to pay their way out of genuinely reducing emissions and other environmental impacts. While we recognize the good faith efforts of some corporations to “green” their supply chains, we reject sustainability certifications based only on voluntary compliance, which are difficult to enforce and leave large gaps for abuse. [We reject agricultural biofuels as a false solution to climate change and energy security that is leading to deforestation, human rights abuses, increased GHG emissions and rising food prices, especially in the global South.]

We support…

Community-oriented sustainable development that promotes local, democratic control over resources; provides high quality, living wage jobs; supports workers and immigrant rights; reduces energy consumption; and contributes positively to community wellbeing. We support private businesses—[as well as cooperatives, public enterprises and other economic models]—that place people and ecosystems before profits.

A binding climate agreement in which G8 countries live up to their historical responsibility for global climate change and commit to legally binding obligations to dramatically cut GHG emissions, without conditions or mechanisms that allow big polluters to evade regulations. Climate commitments must also include support for poor countries and vulnerable communities to build sustainable, climate resilient economies.

Peoples’ right to food sovereignty, meaning the right of rural and urban communities to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Food sovereignty means protecting food-producing resources from agrochemicals, GMOs and other industrial technologies that in the long term deplete soil, pollute water, reduce biodiversity, contaminate native seeds and worsen climate change.

Call to Action
We believe that the current environmental crisis requires a broad convergence of social movements to demand environmental regulations and meaningful climate commitments, especially from the world’s most powerful countries. We call on activists and communities, rural and urban, North and South, to join the EWG in protest of the May 2012 NATO/G8 summits in Chicago and participate in an inclusive, civil society discussion of the environmental impacts of G8 policies. Activities will include workshops, alliance-building sessions, non-violent protest and special events TBD.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crucifixion--Resurrection of NATO-G8

Just supposing two stations of the cross, the crucifixion and the resurrection, this is what I came up with regarding NATO-G8.

Crucifixion… We see how the US foreign policy relies not on moral authority but on nuclear deterrence in order to bolster its position as the head of NATO. We are privileged bystanders of the violence imposed by NATO currently in Libya besides Afghanistan where the US soldiers burn a pile of the precious Koran.

Meanwhile the Group of Eight hinges on NATO security measures for discussions of oil prices. The G8 worries over oil futures given political instability in the Middle East, the unrest in Syria, and tensions over a supposed nuclear program in Iran, but cannot count the human cost. Obama will reassure other heads of state, financial ministers, and bank presidents that he will make no drastic changes. Even if he makes a reduction in troops of 28,000 they can count on the 100,000 troops that will still occupy Afghanistan. He will promise not take advantage of the expected mild recession of the Eurozone to devaluate the dollar as President Bush did in his 2004 campaign, and he will insist that the Federal Reserve will keep the federal funds rate close to zero. Thus the G8 will set its 2012-13 agenda for global capitalism.

Resurrection…Afghan Peace Volunteers emerge with the moral authority to mediate the conflict between NATO and Taliban forces. They refuse a compromise that would subject Afghans to the perpetual occupation of foreign troops. They insist on their right to sovereign control over natural resources and garner pledges from the international community for debt relief, reserve control of funds, and reclaim authority over nation-building programming. Their use of nonviolent means inspires the majority of the 28 member countries of NATO to assert inward pressure until an agreement is signed.

This signatory act hails an emergent grassroot community of nonviolent means to reclaim their sovereignty in defiance of the Alliance Treaty. They assert that a true community has a nonviolent economics that does not depend on means which can only lead to bloodshed. At a future assembly of the United Nations a new set of conditions is devised to control oversight of military alliances, forcing accountability of future disarmament pledges and giving harsh scrutiny of all military budgets. The US budget that historically allotted 60% to its military and 6% to education is reversed, and the US allows its nuclear weapons program to go defunct.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In View of History

Historical perception must never be arbitrary and ill-informed; instead it must be loving suggest the political philosophers Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Multitude (2004). What is lacking for social change, they argue, is a socio-political concept of love relevant to history: "People today seem unable to understand love as a political concept, but a concept of love is just what we need to grasp the constituent power of the multitude..." (351)It is a given that how we act in the present will depend on how we perceive history. A fire that lights other fires will look to Peter Maurin who has said that our view of history must come from biblical history and church history. We cannot render our sense of history unto Caesar, at least if we are true to the ashes on our forehead. Four segments of history follow, ultimately pointing back to the need for a political concept of love when regarding history. The first two glimpses compare individuals, the martyr and the accommodator, while the latter two focus on the catholic community by considering the cases of Nicaragua and Northern Ireland. The survey begs the question how we situate our view of history today considering the threat of police violence to bulwark the NATO-G8.

The Martyr

1) One of many second century martyrs facing an imperial proconsul arrested for the crime of Atheism, since Rome correctly viewed the Christian as a dissenter of the pantheon of Roman gods. “But Polycarp said: ‘The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.’”

The Accommodator

2) The martyrdom of Polycarp is retold by Eusebius in his forth century History of the Church. Contrary to his own subjects of historical study, the accommodating bishop was instrumental in normalizing Christianity which thenceforth was defanged of its pacifism. “[T]he most important and reliable historian of the ancient church” according to Guy Schonfield, Eusebius was hardly a prophet for his contemporaries of the fourth century. Emperor Constantine once heralded him fit to be bishop of the whole world and in 325 at the Council of Nicea, over which the emperor himself presided, they sat side by side. It was to Eusebius that Constantine told the story of a heavenly vision prompting his conversion and it was from Eusebius that the earthly emperor received his baptism. History of the Church Introduction (13, 29)

The Case of Nicaragua: A Divided Church

3) The Sandanista revolution in Nicaragua surfaced a schism within Catholicism. Like Eusebius, bishops could apparently tolerate oppressive regimes which it viewed as more compatible to church interests. Meanwhile, a few priests held positions in the newly formed Sandanista government; this reflected the catholic culture of the revolutionaries. But it was anathema to the hierarchy which ordered the priests to desist from such political involvement. “Edgard Parrales, one of the targeted priests, recalled a conversation with the nuncio in 1981. The nuncio told Parrales that the Vatican was going to back the bishops ‘even if the bishops were wrong,’ according to Parrales. ‘Even if they go against the gospel and the truth?’ asked the priest. ‘In whatever circumstances,’ answered the nuncio.” From an interview with Joseph Mulligan, S.J. in July 1989 The Nicaraguan Church and the Revolution (171)

Northern Ireland: Religious War

4) As would be case in Nicaragua where the poor suffered oppression, the oppression of catholics in Northern Ireland was viewed as a political concern and wholly secular affair, not a religious matter. In 1972 over sixty catholics were killed by the Shankill butchers, a gang led by Lenny Murphy whose purpose was to terrify the catholic community in Belfast. Oliver Rafferty S.J. interprets the history as ‘a religious war’ explaining in Catholicism in Ulster: 1603-1983 : “To many ordinary catholics it seemed that the forces of the ‘protestant’ state and the British government were directed against them. Since internment was such a devastating weapon the opposition to it was equally vehement. After the initial violence, the protests continued and catholics took to the streets of Northern Ireland in unprecedented numbers calling for an end to this most draconian measure. The shooting dead of thirteen people at an anti-internment rally in Derry on 30 January 1972 (‘Bloody Sunday’) united the whole catholic population—bishops, clergy and laity—as never before since the start of the troubles. The sense of outrage over the deaths undoubtedly led to the fall of the Stormont parliament as the British government engaged in a damage limitation exercise to sustain its flagging international image.” (270)

In this brief survey we have seen two portraits of individuals, one a martyr for the faith and one an accommodator, and additionally looked at the case of both Nicaragua and Northern Ireland. Today each of us will wonder if we can defend our faith in the face of adversarial pressure. We will also have to find the skill to communicate that belief. I have referenced three church historians. The first was an accommodator. The second is a former prisoner of conscience for crossing the line at the School of the Americas. The third taught me a course of church history at Loyola University. Joe Mulligan reminds me of Polycarp for his witness of direct action and to me his example seems most authentic to the values he communicated as historian, principle among them saying yes to the poor in love, means a defiant no to their oppressors. Such integrity offers a point of aspiration for us. For example, we have begun to call this May a kairos moment for good reason; we observe God acting in history calling us out into the world for direct action and we believe that we exist to love and in loving we make our faith known. Hardt and Negri affirm the proportions of martyrdom that this love can take in necessity: "We need to recover today this material and political sense of love, a love as strong as death. This does not mean you cannot love your spouse, your mother, and your child. It only means that your love does not end there, that love serves as the basis for our political projects in common and the construction of a new society." (352) Finally, the answer to our quest for a historical perspective can be stated unequivocally as an act of liberation.

Ash Wednesday

Though not always, today I am happily religious. It is Ash Wednesday and I have carried about the ashes on my forehead all day. I saw others marked similarly on the L train and in the Washington library. The public act means that catholics have left behind the ordinary times and entered the Lenten season, a perverse and ghoulish time for some when self-denying stoicism rears its ugly head. It is not my intention here to pretend the opposite.

Instead I am stuck on the publicity of the act. The full significance of a cross of ashes on my forehead is still out of my reach. If anything, such a display would contradict church readings that appear to discourage ostentatious signs of piety. “Rend your hearts, not your garments,” declares the prophet Joel (2:12) possibly correcting disingenuous mourners. And Jesus teaches us, “do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.” Mt (6:5-6) The Jewish Jesus and Joel both appear to want to hush up the more rowdy publicans with warnings not to be carried away with exterior performances of piety at the expense of neglecting interior conversion.

Oddly, wearing this article of my faith has a self-reflexive effect, causing me to ask if I am worthy of the mark and if I living up to the message that the mark bears. But as I experienced on the L train and in the public library the mark of ashes made familiar the one who wore them. A stranger became familiar! And my sense of connection with them through a shared faith brings me to the point. Faith is an integrative act. Even if it is expressed privately then it is not alone. The psalmist does not sing to himself “A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.” Ps 51 Similarly, the prophet Joel urged interior conversion “rend your heart…and return to the LORD, your God.” Moreover, this unity finds expression in the customs of common worship. And all of you apart of Kairos reflect the knowledge of this when we come together. Sometimes we take our public stances of mourning, taking a symbol other than ashes, the black hood and orange jumpsuit. We foreshadow too, on Ash Wednesday, the mystery of Good Friday…when our walk for justice will make known the crucified people of today.

I close wondering how all of you bear this cross of ashes. If you are proud, if you are grateful, it would do me good to hear. Strengthen my unbelief. I would like to be as bold as Old Polycarp not to deny my faith but it seems that daily I do so, and without even the threat of death by wild animals or by burning. I am tempted to cover the cross of ashes with my hat. And if I can barely resist this I wonder what good I’ll be proclaiming my faith in the face of denizens of police protecting NATO-G8. Yes, I would compare the persecution of the early Christians to the persecution faced by protesters this May. A dogmatic Christian proponent of NATO-G8 is not a real Christian. Only the hypocrite could make war and call it peace, support “protection” on the premise of nuclear deterrence and suppose a free-market first depends on bringing stability.

Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

“…those condemned to the wild beasts endured fearful punishments, being made to lie on sharp shells and punished with other forms of various torments, in order that [the devil] might bring them, if possible, by means of the prolonged punishment, to a denial of their faith.”

From “The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, as Told in the Letter of the Church of Smyrna to the Church of Philomelium” in Early Christina Fathers ed. Cyril C. Richardson. 150-51.

It continues: “The most admirable Polycarp, when he first heard of it, was not perturbed, but desired to remain in the city. But the majority induced him to withdraw, so he retired to a farm not far from the city and there stayed with a few friends, doing nothing else night and day but pray for all men and for the churches throughout the world, as was his constant habit. And while he was praying, it so happened, three days before his arrest, that he had a vision and saw his pillow blazing with fire, and turning to those who were with him he said, “I must be burned alive.”

“And while those who were searching for him continued their quest, he moved to another farm, and forthwith those searching for him arrived. And when they did not find him, they seized two young slaves, one of whom confessed under torture. For it was really impossible to conceal him, since the very ones who betrayed him were of his own household. And the chief of the police, who chanced to have the same name as Herod, was zealous to bring him into the arena….”

The narrative tells of the final exchange in the arena where the proconsul urges Polycarp to recant his faith: “…the proconsul was insistent and said: ‘Take the oath, and I shall release you. Curse Christ.’

Polycarp said: ‘Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?’

And upon his persisting still and saying, ‘Swear by the fortune of Caesar,’ he answered, ‘If you vainly suppose that I shall swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you say, and pretend that you do not know who I am, listen plainly: I am a Christian. But if you desire to learn the teaching of Christianity, appoint a day and give me a hearing.’

…the proconsul said: ‘I have wild beasts. I shall throw you to them, if you do not change your mind.

But he said: ‘Call them. For repentance from the better to the worse is not permitted us; but it is noble to change from what is evil to what is righteous.’

And again [the proconsul said] to him, ‘I shall have you consumed with fire, if you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind.’

But Polycarp said: ‘The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.’”