Friday, August 23, 2013

Simone Weil and the 2013 Federal Election

Today  we mark the 70th anniversary of the death of Simone Weil. For many years now I have carried around a copy of her "Gateway to God" as a treasured text.It will be my reading companion for this weekend

Simone Weil's appeal is that she speaks to both contemporary politics and  to Catholicism. Her biography defies a Readers Digest easy grab. She has been described variously as a French philosopher, Christian mystic and  political activist.She lived her life in extremes of asceticism, tragedy and what the New York Times describes as a "tormented relationship with the Roman Catholic Church".

Albert Canus decribed her as " the only great spirit of our times" A meta study from the University of Calgary found that between 1995 and 2012 over 2,500 new scholarly works had been published about her.

I suggest that for Australians this anniversary provides an opportunity to bring a bit of mature reflection into the juvenile antics offered as the 2013 Federal Election campaign.A new edition of Weil's "On the Abolition of All Political Parties" has recently been published by Black Inc. The translator of the text is Simon Leys. Will Heyward has an excellent review here. You can also read an extract of the text thanks to the Melbourne Review here. You will now be armed with some pretty mind numbing questions for your local candidates.

Simone Weil Quotes
Simone Weil on goodreads
Simone Weil wikiquotes
Simone Weil by Susan Sontag

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

About 2700 years ago the Prophet Isaiah wrote about a time to come when people would learn war no more, when they would beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.
In 1980 eight US Christians entered a GE Nuclear weapons factory in Pennsylvania and hammered on the unarmed nosecones of missiles waiting to be assembled. They claimed they were there to enflesh the words of Isaiah. They were not waiting for governments to end their addiction to violence. Since then there have been over 100 such “ploughshares” actions.
In 2011, BryanLaw, assisted by Graeme Dunstan, struck a Tiger attack helicopter with a garden mattock and put it out of action for several months. They too claimed they were (symbolically) beating swords into ploughshares.

On 19th August, Graeme Dunstan will face a jury trial on a charge of wilful damage for his part in the action. He will be in the dock alone because Bryan Law died of heart failure while preparing for the trial.
Graeme Dunstan will not be pleading guilty to any crime. The real criminals, as in Isaiah’s day or now, are those who would make war on the innocents.
The Tiger helicopter which Bryan disarmed is similar in design and identical in purpose to the US Apache helicopter made infamous by the Collateral Murder video :   If you haven’t seen it you need to.
On the same website you can see a talk by US soldier Ethan McCord. He saved two children who miraculously survived the massacre depicted in the video. He said such war crimes were a daily occurrence in Iraq. No doubt in Afghanistan as well.
Bradley Manning was arrested and tortured for his role in releasing this video and copious other documents, many exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julian Assange is in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London unable to leave because of his role in disseminating that information.
Graeme Dunstan is seeking to expose the real crimes going on in Australia’s name. These include the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and also the extra judicial killings of the drone war which Australia’s Pine Gap has been integral.

Media Release 16 August 2013
Facebook Page
Ploughshares Trial

Monday, August 05, 2013

Hiroshima Day Peace Prayer

Blessed are you peacemakers, 
who say no to war as a means to peace.
Blessed are you peacemakers,
who are committed to disarm weapons of mass destruction.
Blessed are you peacemakers,
who wage peace at heroic personal cost.
Blessed are you peacemakers,
who challenge and confront judges, courts & prisons.
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
who help those who are hurting.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who befriend perfect strangers.
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
who open doors for acting justly,
loving tenderly and walking humbly with God
and all people of good will.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who welcome, encourage and inspire.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who offer hope and healing.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who care and comfort.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who help find answers.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who provide stability not insanity.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who help restore faith and love.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who delight in creation, art & creativity.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who see the good in others.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
who never give up.
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
who give and give and give.
Fr. Paul Milanowski Grand Rapids, Michigan

Lest we forget the innocent victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And let us never forget that the earth as well as humanity carries the scars of these days.

Pax Christi Prayer Resources

Friday, August 02, 2013

When Francis Went to Rio
Now I'm not the kind of person
With a passionate persuasion for dancin' 
Or roma-ancin'
But I give in to the rhythm 
And my feet follow the beatin' of my hear-eart

Now I'm not the type to let vibrations (Rio...)
Trigger my imagination easily (Rio...)
You know that's just not me

Rio does things to people. It has been the subject of carnivals,  movies, novels,  songs and now a papal visit.

On his way home from Rio, Pope Francis dropped another one of his great throw-a-way lines when he became the first Pope in modern history to use the word |"gay" in a way that affirmed and acknowledged sexuality in its diversity.Media reports and readers comments indicate that this pontiff is leaving Pandora's box wide open:
Mail Online
Catholic Herald
National Catholic Reporter
HuffPost Gay Voices

As to be expected the 'smells and bells" brigade have launched a clarification or just ignored and pretended nothing has been said of any consequence:
National Catholic Register
Vexilla Regis
CP Church and Ministry

One of the most informed and left field responses to this new approach of Pope Francis comes from Jonathon Jones in The Guardian. Jones suggest that the Pope now follows the example of the British Museum and acknowledge its patrimony of gay artists.

Pope to Muslims for end of Ramadan: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education

This text is a provided from the Vatican Radio web.
To Muslims throughout the World

It gives me great pleasure to greet you as you celebrate ‘Id al-Fitr, so concluding the month of Ramadan, dedicated mainly to fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you a message of good wishes, together with a proposed theme for common reflection. This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.

As you all know, when the Cardinals elected me as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I chose the name of “Francis”, a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply, to the point of being called “universal brother”. He loved, helped and served the needy, the sick and the poor; he also cared greatly for creation.

I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice.

This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.

This year’s theme is intended to underline the importance of education in the way we understand each other, built upon the foundation of mutual respect. “Respect” means an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem. “Mutual” means that this is not a one-way process, but something shared by both sides.

What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.

Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!

It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbours or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.

Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.

We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.

When I received the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on 22 March 2013, I said: “It is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world.” With these words, I wished to emphasize once more the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslims, and the need for it to be enhanced.

With these sentiments, I reiterate my hope that all Christians and Muslims may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education.

Finally, I send you my prayerful good wishes, that your lives may glorify the Almighty and give joy to those around you. 
Happy Feast to you all!
From the Vatican, 10 July 2013

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website