Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Polite Justice is No Justice At All

The church may be grounded in hope – when it isn’t actively enabling oppression – but if I was a Palestinian reading this letter, I wouldn’t invest my future in Lutheran hope. In fact, I would admonish Bishop Eaton and the Lutherans for wanting the respectable ear of the President more than embracing the active reckoning needed as Palestinian hope for a real state and real freedom continues to recede. - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/10/toothless-israelpalestine-occupation#sthash.hoqwWzS7.dpuf

Thursday, October 23, 2014

General Seminary's Vanishing Safe Space

In case you didn’t know, The Episcopal Church has a seminary in New York City. Given the strains of organized religion these days, it has gone through challenges ranging from threats of insolvency to student attrition. Through it all “General” (General Theological Seminary) has honorably muddled through. You might imagine the seminary’s corporate management has wrung its hands over recent years through such fits and starts. 

Indeed, the Board of Trustees has resolved to keep the place on track. So far this a simple story but what happened next reveals a more unsettling narrative about why Americans are suspicious of institutions to include institutional religion. When it comes to things that matter you know where their hearts are and they ain’t with you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hardly a Struggle


Though the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a close vote recommending limited military action in Syria (10 for, 7 against) the fact that a vote was rushed to further conversation by the full body and the character of amendment says a lot of about priorities. They begin and end with us.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"The God Who Hates Lies"

The title of this piece is from a book by Rabbi David Hartman. He was writing about contemporary Jewish thought but his premise applies to any tension between a conservative, static interpretation of tradition versus a dynamic, ongoing dialogue. 

He writes, "...the authority of the past cannot claim our allegiance when it conflicts with the immediate reality of the present. Our experience must not be denied because of  the authority of the past. This is an image of a God that wants us not to use the authority of the past to lie to Him.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bradley Manning


The bombing of the village of Granai, Afghanistan occurred four years ago this month--that's how long the saga of Bradley Mannings's humiliation has  been going on, i.e., if you include the war crimes he exposed. In that case civilians where killed but our military covered it up. It was his first disclosure of classified documents and an answer to the arrogance of Dick Cheney's statement that after September 11th we (America, you and me) would have to work "on  the dark side." Morality would occasionally be set aside for the so gradually, bit by bit, the country we all love--the good guys--morphed into one the conspiracies Julian Assange wrote about. Later, a new President would concoct a paragraph in the National Authorization Act allowing him to arrest anyone, anytime. There would be no trial, and now with drone warfare any bothersome character could be snuffed out. 

I've seen heroism up close on the battlefield. It is never a pure thing. Often it's a quick reaction to training and certainly to the safety of friends. Oddly, because war is a young person’s enterprise courage can arise out of a swirl of immature ego need in young adulthood but mostly something prompts one to act in that crucial moment.

Sure, Specialist Manning had encouragement from his idol Richard Stallman as a new free software devotee, “fight for freedom anyway you can”, he wrote in essays as a gift to Brad. But in his disclosures moments of bravery all came together: a preference for the hacking community, his access to this wealth of forbidden information and his own distress in finding a place in the world.

That’s all psychological and solid but it doesn’t go far enough to describe this young soldiers stepping into the open moment. On the one hand he read the classified documents; on the other—as an inquisitive news junkie—he compared it to the actual outcomes…civilians were killed, and at Guantanamo the Red Cross was prevented supporting prisoners and there was a protocol for torture.

At the root of the word, courage, is the Latin word for heart, cor.  “Hearting” into that breach for Specialist Manning was less about his personal loneliness and more about holding onto some truth that mattered. This young man, who in early teen years was the only one to ride the Silver Bullet roller coaster, was braving it out again.

We owe him our gratitude and support since the Fort Meade trial will be a showcase for how much the system clutches to power yet how this 23 year old remains poised and resilient. And in our reflection on his behavior perhaps we can spend some time on our own: how is it that we have allowed these things  to be done in our name? 

Bradley Manning


The bombing of the village of Granai, Afghanistan occurred four years ago this month--that's how long the saga of Bradley Mannings's humiliation has  been going on, i.e., if you include the war crimes he exposed. In that case civilians where killed but our military covered it up. It was his first disclosure of classified documents and an answer to the arrogance of Dick Cheney's statement that after September 11th we (America, you and me) would have to work "on  the dark side." So morality would be occasionally set aside for the moment and gradually, bit by bit, the country we all love--the good guys--morphed into one the conspiracies Julian Assange wrote about. 

I have seen heroism up close on the battlefield. It is never a pure thing. Often it's a reaction to training and certainly to the safety of friends. Oddly, because war is a young person’s enterprise courage can arise out of a swirl of the ego of the immature ego need  of young adulthood but mostly it is that crucial nexus of deciding to act.

Sure, Specialist Manning had the encouragement from his idol Richard Stallman as a new free software devotee (he inscribed his essays in a note to Brad, “fight for freedom anyway you can.”) In his disclosures and moments of bravery it all came together: his preference for the hacking community, his access to this wealth of forbidden information and his own distress in finding his place in the world.

That’s all psychological and solid but it doesn’t go far enough to describe this isolated young man’s moment of stepping into an open moment. On the one hand he read the classified documents; on the other—as an inquisitive news junkie—he compared it to the actual outcomes…civilians were killed, the Red Cross was prevented from visiting prisoners, there WAS a protocol for torture.

At the root of the word, courage, is the Latin word for heart, cor.  “Hearting” into that breach for Specialist Manning was less about his personal loneliness and more about holding onto some truth that matters and lasts. This young man, who in early teen years was the only one to ride the Silver Bullet roller coaster, is braving it out again.

We owe him our gratitude and support since the Fort Meade trial will be a showcase for how much the system clutches to power yet how this 23 year old remains poised and resilient 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Which Garden?


I’m reading morning prayers in the basement, never expecting it to come to that. It began innocently with short, subterranean trips to tame-clean the area; a project undertaken so my family won't cringe during visits to the laundry.