Saturday, September 29, 2012

EEWC: A Gold Mine of Friends

I had the pleasure of visiting Virginia and Suzannah at their home in Cedar Crest near Pompton Plains, NJ, last weekend because I was in New York for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday party. 

To the right is the open door of their home, with campaign photos for President Obama on it.

For more photos of Cedar Crest, see this link:

(For personal photos, see those from my visit to their home a year and a half ago.)

This weekend I'm with Sharon Billings (former EEWC coordinator) and five other friends met through EEWC (Karen Torjeson, Barbra Graber, Joanne Feldmeth, Jeanne Sales, and Lois Lorentzen).  We toured Point Reyes National Seashore today.

Two weeks ago I attended a 70th birthday party for Elizabeth Nordquist, where saw Libbie Patterson and Karen Berns.  Elizabeth and Libbie planned our 1978 conference in Pasadena.  

EEWC--Christian Feminism Today has been such a rich source of friendships for me!

I remember in the fall of 1970, in my first year or two of eager feminism, moving to Berkeley to start graduate school and realizing that I had almost no female friends.  My friends in undergraduate years had been either roommates or men, many from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Determined to begin some new friendships with women, I asked a woman in my classes if she would like to be friends, but she was married and working full-time as well as starting a doctoral program, so it didn't work out.

Today, forty years later, I look back on a life-time rich with women friends, thanks in great part to the women I met through EEWC.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Part of the 47%

I'm part of the 47%, and I pay taxes.

I vote too.,0,3321729.story

Fifty days from the Nov. 6 election, and Mitt Romney is looking worse and worse. 

Michael Moore tweets not to worry, that Romney is self-destructing. 

I'm worrying, however.

With Israel trying to build support for an attack on Iran, China and Japan tension rising, and continuing violent demonstrations against the US in Muslim countries around the globe in the wake of the footage of this anti-Islam film, a Romney presidency could get us in real trouble.

We're still dealing with the mess George W left behind. 

President Obama is having trouble managing all this, and he doesn't have the trigger-happy advisers that Romney would bring in. 

Arrest Warrants

In Egypt it's illegal to defame either Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.

Religious freedom is all about "the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values," reports David Kirkpatrick in today's New York Times.

The makers of the incendiary anti-Muslim film are Coptic Christians, and some of them may still hold citizenship in Egypt.

So Egypt has taken action by issuing arrest warrents for six Coptic Chrisitians involved with the film, and the anti-Islam pastor in Florida as well.

It's a small world after all.

In Egypt this kind of offense is punishable by death, and I've lost count of the number of deaths so far from riots in which this film was a contributing factor.

World War I was started by the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian prince in Sarajevo.

Perhaps the third will be started by hatemongers posting a You Tube video.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Losers United

So it's not just two crazies and an ex-con, unaffiliated with a local church, that made the anti-Muslim film.

Turns out there's a Coptic Christian preacher that they're all linked to.  He's the one preaching the hatred expressed in the film.,0,1378473.story

Mubarak's government kicked this priest out of Egypt.  He fled to Australia; ten years ago he moved to Orange County in southern CA, where he has no church, just a website for "Father Zakariah."

Is he actually an ordained priest?  What is his standing in the Coptic Christian church? 

Why are our freedoms so broad and our protections so few that any loser can get a megaphone to provoke riots and deaths on another continent?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glow Jesus' Light

So the three stooges behind this anti-Muslim film are not even your run-of-the-mill right-wing religious extremists.

Thank God! Allah akbar!

They're 1) a con man who's spent time in federal prison and just got out last summer, 2) the owner of a media group who travels around talking about the "Islamicization of America," and 3) another full-time anti-Islamic activist using the media group for his weekly satellite tv show. 

Two of the three are Egyptians, ethnically Coptic Christian, probably deranged by years of violence being a 10% minority there. 

I'm relieved that the con man drifts into a worship service infrequently.  I don't count him as anyone who loves and follows Jesus.  Therefore, I don't have to figure out how a "real Christian" could do this. 

I put the other two hate-mongers in a box labeled "crazy" and don't expect any serious Christianity out of them either, so I've handled my cognitive dissonance for the day.

The stated mission of  "Media for Christ" is to "glow Jesus' light" to the world, reports the LA Times... "working to spread the gospel.",0,6397127.story

With a gospel like that, who needs Christianity?

These modern-day Crusaders think they're fighting Islam, but they're putting Coptic Christians in danger, inflaming hatred, and causing deaths.

What would Jesus do?

I don't know, but his words to these folks were not gentle: "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels..." (Matthew 25:41). 

Learning from a Sikh

Taking a moment for tolerance, a hundred or so students and professors at California State Northridge listened to a lecture on "Who are the Silks, and why are they being targeted?"

Dr. Gurinder Singh Mann, professor at UC Santa Barbara, spoke with spectacular photos and maps from Sikh history.

What I learned: Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, though its home is in the Punjab area now dividied between Pakistan and India.  (It's not part of Hinduism.)

It's the world's 5th largest religious group (25 million people) and began around five hundred years ago. 

Its three central beliefs are:
--divine immanence  (God present in all beings and all bits of creation)
--humans making a social commitment
--humans living in purity.

Also interesting: the current Prime Minister of India and the Commander in Chief of the Indian Army are both Sikhs, though this group is a small minority in India. 

I was moved by the gentle voice and presence of Dr. Mann. He's the opposite of macho.

In fact, I felt that meeting him was probably like meeting Mahatma Gandhi, if I had ever had the opportunity to do that.

A gentle man. 

In a week when religious hatred and violence dominates the news, I'm grateful for an interlude of peace and unity in listening to the voice of history. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This week's Pieta

I carried in my newspaper this morning to find the photo of Christopher Stevens, either dead or dying, on the front page.

I thought newspapers had more respect for the dead, especially a US ambassador. Was JFK shown like this? Would the LA Times display a similar photo of Hilary Clinton or President Obama?

The news is bad enough without having to face this distressing photo: the UC Berkeley student who joined the Peace Corps and led the US effort in Libya now come to this bloody end. 

For a while the US kept the public from seeing even the coffins of soliders returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, but this photo invades my house?

I feel incited to riot by this photo--it invites revenge.

It's also a modern Pieta--his body being held and dragged calls to mind those sculptures of Mary holding Jesus' body.

Please, give me a little more distance before I have to view this.

Holy, holy, holy.    In my Book of Common Prayer there's no rite for the blessing of a newly-made martyr.

#     #     #     #

Note on Sept. 15: Link to LA Times report of readers complaining about this photo.,0,5870567.story

Lies, Sex, & Violence

I'm feeling very discouraged by news that the clumsy film causing protests in Egypt, Yemen, Iran, and other nations was invented by crack-pot Christians who produced it, lied to the actors about its content, dubbed in extremist lines, and claimed it was done by an Israeli.,0,3754075.story

Steve Klein, the "script consultant," said they hoped it would "somehow open up the eyes" of Muslim extremists (interviewed on CNN today).   

What a way to win converts--insult their prophet, Mohammad. 

"The Southern Poverty Law Center has an extensive file on Klein that goes back decades," reports the LA Times. 

Apparently the central character, Mohammad, was only named "George" in the script.  Reports say he is portrayed as a womanizer and pedophile.  No wonder Muslims are protesting. 

Four people died in protests in Yemen today.

I care about Coptic Christians, just 10% of the population in Egypt and often under attack, but they are only more imperiled by the making of a film like this.

The BBC interviewed someone whose name I didn't catch, who said the extremists on both sides "have a symbiotic relationship."  Each fires the other up and provides publicity.

As a person who spends hours in the classroom trying to help students understand religious issues in the news, I am dismayed by the mountain of ignorance and hatred in the hearts of these filmmakers. 

Lines from "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" echo in my mind: When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? 

You'd think the filmmakers might have wondered if they were obeying God's will when they started having to use deceit to get the film made.   Now it turns out the main guy behind the film is an ex-con, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka "Sam Basile").

Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them."  

"Strange fruit" in Yemen, like Billie Holliday's song recorded in 1939 about lynching.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Elizabeth Warren & the Bible

So what do we make of Elizabeth Warren quoting Jesus in her speech at the Democratic convention last Wednesday night?

It was a stirring moment in a great speech.  I didn't hear anyone else in either convention quoting the Bible, but I missed quite a few speeches. 

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," she said (Matthew 25:40).

"The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and we are called to act, not to sit, not to wait, but to act all of us together," she explained, contrasting Democratic support for programs like the Affordable Care Act vs. Republican opposition.

"The Republican vision is clear -- ``I got mine. The rest of you are on your own."' she had said earlier.  See the full transcript:

Her views at greater length were presented by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne in his blog after he interviewed her in August.

My only question: why was she quoting the King James translation, published in 1611?

She identified as a Methodist and a Sunday school teacher in the speech,  Most Methodists I know are not wedded to the KJV, and most Sunday school teachers use a version kids can understand. 

Did she choose the KJV because the most conservative Christians think the Bible was handed to us by King James and carved on stone tablets? 

In other words, the Bible doesn't sound like the Bible to most people unless it's in Shakespearean English?

Or is she just not familiar enough with the Bible in all of its modern translations to quote one of them?

"Brethren?"  I mean, really!  What Bible has she been reading for the last twenty years?

Sisters, we need to send her a copy of The Inclusive Bible--or at least the "New" RSV, done in 1989. 

In any case, she's a courageous and intelligent woman running for senator in Massachusetts.

Warren has an impressive record in setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, passed by Congress and signed into law in 2010.

Her possible nomination as the agency's permanent director "was strongly opposed by financial institutions which had criticized Warren as overly aggressive in pursuing regulations, and by the Republican members of Congress," reports Wikipedia. 

Republicans later blocked the appointment of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, crippling the agency's functioning for a while.

As she summarized it in her speech, "I had an idea for the consumer protection agency to stop the rip offs.  Now the big banks did not like this, and they marshalled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day." 

"By the way, just a few weeks ago that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers," she continued. 

What a committed fighter!  We need Elizabeth Warren in the Senate--let's do all we can to support her.

Here's her website for donations:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Memoriam

In memoriam:

Jaime's little sister

Paul's daughter

Mary's sister

Benita's daughter

Chris's son

my grandfather

and now one more

Requiem eternam donat eis.


Comfort of silky ears

soft fur over a beating heart

warm body to hug

canine kisses

fierce protection

how many suicides

has a dog prevented?

What can you do?

What can you do?

Hug her every night

and say something?

Please wait for dawn.

I love you.

Please accept

another dealing of cards

another hand to play.


Our assignment:
thirty thousand dawns
more or less
but some of us go AWOL

The moon
this morning
half a degree
away from Jupiter
The ancient cry:

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life
And thou no life at all? 
     --King Lear, V.3.354-55.

O my darling,
you could not wait for one more dawn?

You could not give the Creator
one more chance
to paint the sky
to make the day
less painful?

The news came last night: their 14-year-old daughter took her own life at home early Thursday morning while the family was sleeping.

The child's mother and aunt both elders at my church.

The child under treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts.

In September, the time of return to school and pressure and peer groups.

Fourteen years and she cuts the slender shoot of her life.  I who am greedy for years cannot fathom it.

How do you argue with suicide?

How do you not?