Update from Bill McKibben on latest Keystone announcement from President Obama:

Today’s Keystone XL news from DC is both important and murky. In brief, the Obama administration announced yet another delay in their decision about the pipeline, meaning it may be past the midterm elections before a final call is made.

Three things strike me:

  1. In pipeline terms it’s a win. Every day we delay a decision is a day when 830,000 barrels of oil stays safely in the ground. Together we’ve kept them at bay for three years now, and will continue to until perhaps the beginning of next year it seems.
  2. In climate terms, it’s a disappointment. Since the State Department can’t delay floods and droughts and El Ninos, we actually need President Obama providing climate leadership. If he’d just follow the science and reject the stupid pipeline he’d finally send a much-needed signal to the rest of the planet that he’s getting serious.
  3. In movement terms, it’s a sweet reminder that when we stand up we win. Three years ago this pipeline was a done deal, and thanks to you it’s come steadily undone. We can’t match Exxon or the Koch Bros with money; we can and have matched them with passion, spirit, creativity, and sacrifice.

So the Keystone fight goes on — we hope many of you will be in DC next weekend for Reject and Protect, joining the Cowboy Indian Alliance to say “hell no” to the pipeline.The Alliance members coming to DC next week are some of the strongest leaders in this fight.

If you can’t be there yourself, can you show your support for the Cowboy Indian Alliance by telling Pres. Obama and Sec. Kerry to use this delay to meet with them?

The decision to delay was made — supposedly — account for the impact of a possible new pipeline route in Nebraska. As it happens, next week Nebraskans and members of US Tribes and Canadian First Nations will be in Washington — it seems to me that it would be prudent for the President and Sec. Kerry to make plans to meet with the Cowboy Indian Alliance at their encampment and get their story of what this pipeline would mean on the ground.

The climate fight can’t be delayed. We need to keep building the movement, and we need to keep putting heat on leaders like President Obama till we win not delay but action. Today’s DC decision just reinforces the message that if we stand together we will make a decisive difference — and there is an important opportunity on the horizon to do that in the biggest way yet, to be announced soon.

The last thing to say is thank you. You are the strength in this movement, and together we will make even more amazing things possible.


Bill McKibben for

Sources: “Keystone Decision to be Delayed” USA Today, April 18 2014



Untitled, with white, by Taylor Harbison. 2003.

Untitled, with white, by Taylor Harbison. 2003.

The Say-But-the-Word Centurion Attempts a Summary

That numinous healer who preached Saturnalia and paradox
has died a slave’s death. We were manoeuvered into it by priests
and by the man himself. To complete his poem.

He was certainly dead. The pilum guaranteed it. His message,
unwritten except on his body, like anyone’s, was wrapped
like a scroll and despatched to our liberated selves, the gods.

If he has now risen, as our infiltrators gibber,
he has outdone Orpheus, who went alive to the Shades.
Solitude may be stronger than embraces. Inventor of the mustard tree,

he mourned one death, perhaps all, before he reversed it.
He forgave the sick to health, disregarded the sex of the Furies
when expelling them from minds. And he never speculated.

If he is risen, all are children of a most real high God
or something even stranger called by that name
who knew to come and be punished for the world.

To have knowledge of right, after that, is to be in the wrong.
Death came through the sight of law. His people’s oldest wisdom.
If death is now the birth-gate into things unsayable

in the language of death’s era, there will be wars about religion
as there never were about the death-ignoring Olympians.
Love, too, his new universal, so far ahead of you it has died

for you before you ever met it, may seem colder than the favours of gods
who are our poems, good and bad. But there never was a bad baby.
Half his worship will be grinding his face in the dirt

then lifting it to beg, in private. The low will rule, and curse by him.
Divine bastard, soul-usurer, eros-frightener, he is out to monopolise hatred.
Whole philosophies will be devised for their brief snubbings of him.

But regained excels kept, he taught. Thus he has done the impossible
to show us it is there. To ask it of us. It seems we are to be the poem
and live the impossible. As each time we have, with mixed cries.

–Les Murray, from Subhuman Redneck Poems


Easter Vigil: ‘This is the Night’

Easter eggs dyed with red cabbage!

Easter eggs dyed with red cabbage!

“This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.”

–from the Exsultet, 7th century hymn sung at the Easter Vigil


imagesMary Karr’s Descending Theology: The Resurrection

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
till the hung flesh was empty.
Lonely in that void even for pain,
he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face. …

Read the rest here.


Filipino Da Vinci

The Philippine’s news outlet Rappler offers seven Holy Week “sacred spaces” in cyberspace with it’s online stations of the cross.
See more below and step into the world’s Holy Week.

I particularly enjoyed the Virtual Visita Iglesia, where you can meditate on the Stations of the Cross and learn more about Filipino traditions observed during the Holy Week.

MANILA, Philippines – In need of a sacred space, as a religious website calls it, within the noisy cyberspace? We’ve got you covered.

For the soul-searching netizen, Rappler compiles 7 online retreats, recollections, and reflections for Holy Week.

Time to click – and pray.

1. Pins of Light – Washing Feet and Cleansing Temples

For the past 6 years, Jesuit priest Fr Johnny Go with the help of his colleague, Fr Francis Alvarez, has held Holy Week retreats on the Internet. Retreats on include multimedia content – including music, video, and even virtual candles – and pop culture references.

2. Victory – The King

Run by Victory, a Christian church, “The King” contains reflections, in English and Filipino “on Jesus, and what it means for Him to be King.” Through podcasts and modules in PDF form, it leads users to “discover the different events leading to His death and resurrection.”

3. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Visita Iglesia

A one-stop shop for Catholics, the CBCP’s Visita Iglesia site contains an online Stations of the Cross and 7 Last Words, among others. It also features videos by Philippine bishops on the meaning of Lent, as well as a livestream of Holy Week services.

4. – 7 Last Words

This page by a Christian pastor, Mark Roberts, presents the traditional 7 Last Words of Jesus in online form. Each of the 7 Last Words contains a reflection written by Roberts, questions for personal reflection, and a fitting prayer.

5. United Methodist Church – Lent and Easter Resources

For those who would like to reflect, this page compiles more than 60 links on Lent and Easter. These links include devotions and meditations, study guides, and videos. It is for people “invited to simplify their lives to focus on their relationship with God in Christ.”

6. Sacred Space – Lent Retreat: “Called to be Saints”

A 15-year-old website, Sacred Space presents an online retreat with the theme “Called to be Saints,” based on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Elsewhere on the website, users can also find other multimedia content for Lent – in 20 languages.

7. Rappler – Holy Week Online

Rappler’s Holy Week Online presents multimedia reflections, including music videos courtesy. It also features a virtual Visita Iglesia through 14 Philippine churches, in 360 degrees. It comes with the traditional Stations of the Cross in text and audio.

Origins of the Visita Iglesia

Why the Holy Week has no fixed dates


What do you do when someone walks up to you and demands not spare change but beauty?

What do you do when someone walks up to you and demands not another cross but resurrection?

This short video is part of the Poet-to-Poet Project launched in March 2014 from The Academy of American Poets.

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As we begin Holy Week, Pope Francis modeled for all Christians the way of humility and what it means to take up the cross and bear the sin – actual sin – of the church and the world.

In unscripted remarks to the France-based International Catholic Child Bureau, the Pope took responsibility for the harm done by priests against children in the pedophilia scandal. While other popes have castigated the abusers and prayed for the victims, none have take personal responsibility. Pope Francis said:

“I feel that I must take responsibility for all the harm that some priests – quite a number, but not in proportion to the total – I must take responsibility and ask forgiveness for the damage they have caused through sexual abuse of children. The Church is aware of this damage. It is their own personal and moral damage, but they are men of the Church. And we will not take one step backwards in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I believe that we must be even stronger. You do not interfere with children.”


The head of the Anglican Church, archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was very brave last week when he became the first person in his post to take calls from the public in an hour-long call-in radio show.

Eventually a caller presented the question of why gay marriages couldn’t be left to the individual consciences of Anglican priests, as had been done with women’s ordination.

In Welby’s response, he struggled with all the nuances required by his position as head of the Anglican Communion.

In this video you can see him holding the burden of responsibility for so many souls. He is bearing the cross. I respect him for that.

I disagree however with a framework that pits one injustice –refusal of Christian rites to gays and lesbians — against another — the persecution of Christians in Africa. To stay there is to live in bondage, not the freedom of the cross.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin King in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


spring-tree-buds_tn2“The life of a monk ought always to be a Lenten observance. However, since such virtue is that of few, we advise that during these days of Lent he guard his life with all purity and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the shortcomings of other times. This will then be worthily done, if we restrain ourselves from all vices. Let us devote ourselves to tearful prayers, to reading and compunction of heart, and to abstinence.

During these days, therefore, let us add something to the usual amount of our service, special prayers, abstinence from food and drink, that each one offer to God “with the joy of the Holy Ghost” (1 Thes 1:6), of his own accord, something above his prescribed measure; namely, let him withdraw from his body somewhat of food, drink, sleep, speech, merriment, and with the gladness of spiritual desire await holy Easter.” – The Rule of St. Benedict


Resurrection of  Lazarus by Duccio Di Buoninsegna (1308-11)

Resurrection of Lazarus by Duccio Di Buoninsegna (1308-11)

Lent is a time for unbinding ourselves from the culture of death. Like Lazarus, we lay dead in a tomb beyond which we cannot see. We are bound in stinking grave clothes. But through the pilgrimage of Lent we are gently unwrapped, until the day we hear that powerful voice saying “Come out!”

Here’s a reflection by British theologian James Allison from his book On Being Liked (2004):

“When we are baptized, we, or our Godparents on our behalf, renounce Satan and all his vain pomps and empty works. And here we were, sorely tempted at least to find ourselves being sucked up into believing in just such an empty work and pomp. A huge and splendid show giving the impression of something creative of meaning, but in fact, a snare and an illusion, meaning nothing at all, but leaving us prey to revenge and violence, our judgments clouded by satanic righteousness.

When I say satanic, I mean this in two senses, for we can only accurately describe the satanic in two senses. The first sense is the sense I have just described: the fantastic pomp and work of sacrificial violence leading to an impression of unanimity, the same lie from the one who was a murderer and liar from the beginning [John 8:44], the same lie behind all human sacrifices, all attempts to create social order and meaning out of a sacred space of victimization.

But the second sense is more important: the satanic is a lie that has been undone. It has been undone by Jesus’s going to death, exploding from within the whole world of sacrifice, of religion and culture based on death, and showing it has no transcendence at all. Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel (and it is the title of Rene Girard’s book) “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” This is the solemn declaration of the definitive loss of transcendence of the satanic show: we no longer have to believe it, we no longer have to act driven by its compulsions. It has no power other than the power we give it. The pomp has nothing to do with heaven. It has nothing to do with God.”–James Allison