POEM: Im PEACH ment

Philadelphia street art (three tiles)

Im PEACH ment
for Father Daniel Berrigan

Chattering in blue light
imposters eat peaches

before a starving nation
the juice is fantastical

dripping as it does on Con
stitutions and posers

bib fronts, cons, and tie tacks
Swift and furious fall tiny blue

birds, crushed
like children’s toys and rusty moths

Everyone watches
honest thieves have codes of honor

predictable, sequential, and con
sequential but not these violent

top dogs
staring in a dark window

abandoned back of father’s hand
Children watch the screen

glass smudged with fat
These thieves gnaw others fleshy bits

on live tv
spit out the thrones, pits between teeth

In the middle, the three-legged dog
joyful, dancing, sideways step stepping

prance prance from dawn’s first gape
limping and leaping for the forgotten treat

See the game of bones
scattered like sheep’s knuckles

dumped on a pile
sweep the winnings up fast

wipe your chin, send warm condolences
Before, before

Rose Marie Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet. This poem is part of an unpublished collection.

Iran: Bombs and Bible-Thumping

I know we are all reeling from the capricious Trump actions against Iran over the past few days. But we also know what the work is we have to do. 

Below are four resources to help shape our messaging and action. It will be important for people to be in the streets at federal buildings and at their Congressional reps offices denouncing Trump’s action and demanding that Congress bring the Khanna-Gaetz Amendment to the floor for a stand-alone vote to cut any funding for war with Iran. (This passed with a bipartisan majority in June but was dropped from the final NDAA when it came out of committee.)

Trump is portraying his political assassination of Soleimani as “taking out a bad man” as if this were another rogue terrorist. It is not. Iran is a sovereign nation. Soleimani was the equivalent of our head of joint chief of staff and was a favorite to be the next president of Iran.

Trump’s calculation is that deadly chaos in the Middle East (with a concurrent national security crisis here at home) will maintain Republican lock-step in the Senate and unite his evangelical base with Manichean heresies about fighting evil and reheated apocalyptic fantasies for Christian Zionists on the restoration of Israel and the ushering in of the End Times. Trump’s “bombing and Bible-thumping” evangelical tour began last night at King Jesus International ministry in Miami.

We need your prayers, tweets, FB posts, videos, sermons, public talks, etc to amplify a focused response. We need our people to be knowledgable, strategic, and active. Please use your communication networks to educate and activate.–Rose Berger

1. Will We See Through the “Fog of War’ This Time? by Rose Marie Berger

2. Iran: Break the Cycle of Violence With a Just Peace Framework by Eli S. McCarthy

3. Blocking Trump’s War with Iran by the Authority of Faith and Congress by Jim Wallis

4. Call on Congress to bring the Khanna-Gaetz Amendment to the NDAA to the floor as a stand-alone bill to prohibit funding of a war with Iran by Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

Alan Bean: Custodians of American civil religion?

Below I am excerpting an excellent article by Alan Bean reflecting on the unholy alliance between “aging white evangelicals” and Donald Trump and the changing American civil religion. Alan is executive director of Friends of Justice, an alliance of community members that advocates for criminal justice reform. He lives in Arlington, Texas.–Rose Berger

An excerpt from Last call for aging white evangelicals: The political marriage to Trump will collapse. What then? by Alan Bean (in Baptist News Global).

Alan Bean, Friends of Justice

>>Conservative evangelicals punch above their weight because they are custodians of American civil religion, a vision of America as God’s beacon in a dark world. Civil religion enjoyed bipartisan support during the Eisenhower years. For generations, American history and civics classes were exercises in self-congratulation.

For the past half century, however, our civil religion has been “deconstructed” by academics who see it as little more than a mask for white supremacy and the oppression of women and racial and sexual minorities. America, in this view, has a lot of explaining to do. College educated whites broke decisively for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the only white demographic to do so.

In response, aging white evangelicals have doubled down on the myth of American righteousness. In the hands of evangelical faux historians like David Barton, the old civil religion has become a great, sprawling story of God’s providential love for America with footnotes a mile long. Trump’s promise to make America great again dovetails perfectly with American civil religion in both its classic and expanded iterations.

In defending Trump, aging white evangelicals are fighting for their identity. The liberals have transformed a gleaming army of Christian soldiers into a rabble of bigots and fools. Evangelicals won’t take this demotion lying down, especially with Donald John Trump emerging as their champion. A civil religion designed to unify a nation now serves as a dividing line.

All this is quite by design. Trump’s political strategy comes straight out of professional wrestling. Half the crowd is hailing Trump as a Savior while everybody else is baying for his blood. The president has our attention, and that’s all he has ever wanted.

As the impeachment process so clearly reveals, the GOP is now the party of Trump. But the power behind the throne is a band of aging white evangelicals, the most powerful people on earth, and therefore the most to be pitied.

Like the biblical Samson, Trump will eventually bring the entire edifice of American conservatism crashing down around him. Some species of evangelical religion will ultimately rise from the rubble, but it will be greatly curtailed, politically irrelevant and, I pray, more recognizably Christian.

Sometimes it takes a cataclysm to advance the cause of Christ.–Alan Bean<<

An excerpt from Last call for aging white evangelicals: The political marriage to Trump will collapse. What then? by Alan Bean (in Baptist News Global).

A Word of Hope for 2020

Bishop Marc Stenger and Sr. Wamuyu Wachira, co-presidents of Pax Christi International

REFLECTION BY THE CO-PRESIDENTS OF PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL ON POPE FRANCIS 53rd WORLD DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE (for 1 JANUARY 2020)

Pope Francis’ 52nd World Day of Peace message in the year 2019, invited us to reflect on the theme “Good politics is at the service of peace”. The Pope’s message was that politics, though essential to building human communities and institutions, can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole. This year, 2020 Pope Francis’s 53rd World Day of Peace theme is “Peace as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”. The reflection on this theme is captured in the following sections of his message (i) Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial. (2) Peace, a journey of listening based on memory, solidarity and fraternity. (3) Peace, a journey of reconciliation in fraternal communion. (4) Peace, a journey of ecological conversion.

In a world devastated by war and conflicts which often affect the marginalized and the vulnerable of our society, we are being invited to reflect on peace as the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. The virtue of hope inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem overwhelming. The Pope discusses the different forms of violence that are tearing humanity apart and their true significance. He points out: “Every war is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood and [sisterhood]”.

The message of Pope Francis is a very strong message, a vocational message. This vocation is that of children of God, brothers and sisters. But the Pope underlines “our inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of … domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other”. He emphasizes the fact that “war is fueled by a perversion of relationship, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuse of power, by fear of others and seeing diversity as an obstacle”. On the contrary, in respecting, trusting others and seeing them as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters, we can ‘break the spirit of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope’. …

Read the full letter from Pax Christi International’s co-presidents, Bishop Marc Stenger (France) and Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira (Kenya)

Video: What Is an Advocate? with Ched Myers

Ched Myers offers an 18-minute video on what it means to be an “advocate” by looking at Luke 7:36-8:3. The work of advocacy, he says, is “calling people in, both allies and adversaries, to the work of justice for all.”

Or as activists today say, “You don’t need to be a voice for the voiceless–just pass the mic!”

DID POPE FRANCIS JUST ELEVATE THESE ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS TO RELIGIOUS PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE?

by Rose Marie Berger

Pope Francis announced this week that “the use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Two years after the Vatican State signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (currently ratified by 34 countries), he declared during an in-flight press briefing from Japan to Rome, “Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity.”

Nearly 75 years after the United States used nuclear weapons against Japan —killing, by some estimates 150,000 people in Hiroshima and 75,000 in the historic Catholic city of Nagasaki — Pope Francis reiterated that nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity, strategically reckless, and an offense to the poor and to God.

If the pro-life, anti-nuke Pope’s position is formally added to the catechism, the collected principles of faith used in basic instruction in the Catholic Church, then second-graders in Catholic schools will learn that that nuclear weapons are a sin, in the same moral category as intentional murder and the death penalty. As Jesuit Richard McSorley put it in Sojourners in 1977, “building a nuclear weapon is a sin” and “our possession of them is a proximate occasion of sin.”

What does this evolution of moral principles mean for lay Catholics who are required to answer for our complicity in unjust laws or unjust social situations? Read more.

Henri Nouwen: Peace and Forgiveness

“Resistance is an essential element of peacemaking, and the no of the resisters must go all the way to the inner reaches of their own hearts to confront the deadly powers of self hate. I often think that I am such a hesitant peacemaker because I still have not accepted myself as a forgiven person, a person who has nothing to fear and is truly free to speak the truth and proclaim the kingdom of peace.” —Henri J. M. Nouwen