Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March

Imagine hundreds of international peace activists, led by Alice Walk, Syrian actor Durraid Lahham and other prominent opponents of injustice, entering the Gaza Strip through Egypt. Imagine them linking arms with thousands of Palestinians and marching to the Israeli border, under the eyes of the international media, demanding that the siege be lifted for once and for all. This is the Gaza Freedom March!

This organization has many sister groups, to enable each to have a local focus for organizing, and to avoid exceeding Facebook’s limit of 5000 for messaging group members. Please join the appropriate campaign group that is best targeted to your locale. All FB groups will be updated with the latest information. Please invite your friends to this or the appropriate other FaceBook group.

US Press Ignores Egyptian Suppression of Gaza Freedom March

Hunger strike for Gaza  John Dear 

Cairo Journal by John Dear SJ on Jan. 12, 2010

Sunday, December 27, 2009
I left New York City for Cairo on Christmas day, with a long wait in Amsterdam, and this morning at four o’clock made my way to the Sun Hotel near Tahrir Square and the Nile River. Others have come, too -- 1,362 people representing 43 nations -- all of us journeying to Gaza to participate in the “Gaza Freedom March.”

Feast of the Holy Innocents Peace Procession (Simon Moyle)

About fifteen of us gathered outside Victoria Barracks on a perfect sunny day in late December. It was a day many people were hunting for the post-Christmas Day bargains, and many others were immersed in the dramas of the Boxing Day test. It was also the eve of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day the church commemorates the children killed by Herod in an attempt to get to Jesus and maintain his grip on power. A day we remember all modern day regimes which see thousands of lives as acceptable "collateral damage" in their quests for power, control, resources and military might.

Beginning with an acknowledgment of the history of this feast day, and of how far away such wars seemed to us, we read the story from Matthew together. We then spent some time naming modern day situations where innocents continue to be killed by power-hungry elites.

East Timor. Afghanistan. Sudan. West Papua. Phillippines. Iraq. Australia's refugee policy. Each with thousands of innocent victims of power politics and military domination. Each considered acceptable collateral damage. We rang a bell for each of them.

Finally, we remembered the plight of the Palestinian people, recognising that even as we sat together, thousands of people were gathering on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza, preparing to nonviolently break the blockade, bringing food, aid and medical supplies to the people of Gaza. This was particularly poignant given the Matthew passage, which speaks of "a voice heard in Ramah" (the modern day West Bank), "wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be consoled, because they are no more." The contrast of fear exhibited by Herod and modern day Israel, and the resulting victims of their fear, with the angels appearing to Mary, Zechariah, the shepherds, each time greeting them with the phrase, "Do not be afraid!" These stories continue to play themselves out before our eyes, on the evening news.

With that, we rose together and began to make our way north to the centre of the city, led by our four metre banner reading "End the Afghanistan War". In peak shopping season, the city was packed. Reaction was mixed – from mouthed "thankyous", clapping and nods, to rolled eyes, to outright hostility. Mostly it just registered on people's faces as an interruption to business as usual (literally).

Turning through Bourke Street Mall we made our way west to Defence Plaza, a fairly nondescript city building housing the Defence Department in Melbourne. Here we paused to reflect on the experience, on connections we had made, and on where to from here.

We finished with prayer, and dispersed from there.

My own reflections are on how we do this action/reflection stuff deeply and honestly and yet involve our children. War and its effects on innocents are confronting issues. We brought our kids (3 under 6), and did our best to explain to them the significance of the day. I think it's important that we continue to do that. But we shied away from anything graphic or affecting, talking only in general terms. This is something we will continue to wrestle with as parents and as activists.

I also think that continuing to act in concert with the liturgical year will greatly enhance our understanding of the gospel and our faith and discipleship, and our ability to sustain action over the long haul. Wrestling with these stories as part of an action brings them home, sharpens their contours, and deepens our engagement.

Simon Moyle

In one of those "graced" moments of life, I literally bumped into Simon and the group in prayer as I walked up Bourke Street from the Southern Cross station.

I stood with them outside the Defence Plaza for the final prayer. The comfort and joy of my family gathering for Christmas was blessed in a moment of solidarity with the grief and anguish of my extended human family struggling with the experience of war and poverty.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The eternal christ in the cosmic story

Richard Rohr: “What the Christ means is the confluence of divinity and physicality, spirit and matter. When the material and spiritual worlds coexist, we have Christ (Read article here)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Faith: What Australians believe in

December 19, 2009
NEXT weekend the nation's churches will be filled to overflowing. But then, Christmas and Easter are the exceptions to the great Australian indifference to worship. Belief for most Australians is about values far more than devotion. It's belief without belonging.
But those beliefs are strong. They challenge old assumptions that Australia is an essentially secular country. When 1000 of us were quizzed by Nielsen last weekend for this special poll on faith, we identified ourselves strongly as believers and strongly Christian. Half of us say religion is important or very important in our lives. And even many non-believers still identify themselves as Christian by background.
Read full article here
Discussion on Catholica.com.au here
JacquelineMaley Commentary and Reader Response

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Great Moments in Religion

Peace in the Holy Land

The people of the Holy land continue to live with insecurity and tension. The people of this troubled land very much appreciate prayers of hope and messages of peace, justice and good will from people in other lands. During Advent, you are encouraged to send such prayers and good wishes to the people of the Holy Land. You can e-mail your prayers and messages to the Arab Educational Institute at the following address: aei@p-ol.com. To read all the messages, please visit this site

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What If We Just Said Wait? The case for a grassroots review of the new Roman Missal

We are very concerned about the proposed new translations of the Roman Missal. We believe that simply imposing them on our people -- even after a program of preparation -- will have an adverse effect on their prayer and cause serious division in our communities.

We are convinced that adopting translations that are highly controversial, and which leaders among our bishops as well as many highly respected liturgists and linguists consider to be seriously flawed, will be a grave mistake.

For this reason we earnestly implore the bishops of the English-speaking world to undertake a pilot program by which the new translations -- after a careful program of catechesis -- can be introduced into some carefully selected parishes and communities throughout the English-speaking world for a period of one (liturgical) year, after which they can be objectively evaluated.

We are convinced that this approach will address the concerns of those many bishops who feel that they have lost their voice in this matter and that it will also give a voice to the People of God whose prayer is at stake and who accordingly have the most to gain or lose by the translations.

We realize that a pilot project of this kind is unprecedented, but so is the process by which these translations have been approved.
Sign the Petition here

Samples of the New Latinized Missal translations

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Some good advice from John Dominic Crossan

Only One Verse is Necessary

One verse in one psalm is the lens through which I see all else in—since I am a Christian—the Christian Bible. It is Psalm 82:5b which says, within its context, that, “injustice shakes the foundations of the earth.”

Were all else lost forever from the Christian Bible, that single verse would be more than enough as surviving remnant to start over again from scratch. (Outside and apart from any Christian Bible, that verse can be rephrased to warn that, “injustice threatens the future of human evolution.”) But, in any case, back to Psalm 82.

It does not start with any of that divine bully-pulpit stuff about, “I am the only God—there are no other Gods, etc. etc.” Instead, it imagines the High God seated in heaven surrounded by all the other Gods and Goddesses who run the world. It is like a divine CEO sitting down with Upper Management. And, unfortunately, UP is in serious trouble. Its performance review is an indictment for global malpractice with this bill of particulars:

“God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: ‘How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.'" (82:1-4).

That is clear enough as a judgment of transcendental malpractice. But what follows is surprising.

You expect excuses from those castigated divinities. “We are so busy, so much to do, so many things to take care about." Instead we get complete incomprehension. We get this: “They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness” (82:5a). They say, as it were: We handle retribution, we don’t do distribution. Our purpose is power, who brought up this justice stuff?

And that is when we get the key verse. That most clearly and fully expresses my own Christian faith. You expect some anthropomorphic threats about the anger of the High God and the downsizing of Upper Management, Instead, there is only this threnody for a threatened world: “all the foundations of the earth are shaken” (82:5b).

We should write that verse on our hearts and on our consciences. We should inscribe it on our bathroom mirrors so it our first bleary-eyed vision each morning. We should carve it on our domestic programs and on our foreign policies. We should even use it as a criterion when the time comes to choose between political candidates: Do you agree that justice shakes the foundations of the earth? And, if you do, what will you do about it?
There's more good content in the "Comments" including the astute observations of my mate Allan Popa!!

Good Heavens Your Eminence!

Gays ‘will never go to heaven’: cardinal

The Heavenly CardinalVATICAN CITY — Homosexuals and transsexuals “will never enter the kingdom of heaven”, a leading Roman Catholic cardinal said on Wednesday. (leading? sorry is anyone following this clown?)

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said that while the Church regarded homosexuality as an “insult to God”, this did not justify discrimination against gay and transsexual people. (hey Lozano old dear, it’s called homophobia)

“Transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter the kingdom of heaven and it is not me who says this, but Saint Paul,” the cardinal said, in comments reported by the Ansa news agency. ( Did you ever actually study Paul?)

“People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. It may not be their fault, but acting against nature and the dignity of the human body is an insult to God,” he said. (So God prefers his/her  faves to get around in robes, live in exclusive  accommodation and fly first class? )

Barragan, the retired head of the Vatican’s Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, quoted a passage from Paul’s epistle to the Romans which speaks of “men committing indecent acts with other men”.
( Hey Lozano, you spoken to any Irish Bishops lately about this? When have you spoken out about the scandal of  clergy abuse and episcopal cover-ups?  Your words are empty))

“Homosexuality is therefore a sin, but this does not justify any form of discrimination. God alone has the right to judge,” the cardinal said. ( Weasal words from the Church again!)

“We on earth cannot condemn, and as human beings we all have the same rights.” ( ROTFL)

And now a song for the good Cardinal