Video: D.C. Peace Team Deployed at Anti-Nazi Demonstration

In collaboration with the local community, DC Peace Team deployed 24 trained persons as an unarmed civilian protection (UCP) unit on Aug. 12 during the Unite the Right rally in Washington DC.

DC Peace Team is not affiliated with the police or the city government. We are independent trained civilians deployed to prevent violence.

DC Peace Team deployed to accompany and protect people, particularly those who are most in danger. For example, the UCP unit was requested to assist with the resistance movement at Freedom Plaza from 11 am-3 pm and then to accompany them on their march to Lafayette Square. During our time at Freedom Plaza, our unit was broken into four affinity groups which
worked the outer perimeter and engaged in many conversations as we handed out de-escalation tip sheets. Some wanted to know who we are, how they could join the DC Peace Team, to simply offer a thank you for  the team’s presence, and to express that they felt safer with the team in place.

DC Peace Team held conversations to build trust with people from the various groups at the rally, such as Antifa. This enabled the team to be more effective later in the day when hostility built up and arguments ensued even within partner groups. DC Peace Team was able to defuse a pair of persons close to getting into a fight about the tactic of throwing objects.

We also spent the afternoon in Lafayette Square and the surrounding streets, particularly on the west side toward Foggy Bottom. We continued our conversations with people in the northern part of the square. We sent two affinity groups west to monitor possible clash points and to engage what we could. We monitored the arrival of the Unite the Right group, although they ended up being quite small (15-20 people) and they were escorted by police. We de-escalated some actors involved in the blocking of an intersection near the White House which led to a stand-off between the police, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and others. DC Peace Team sought to persuade the police not to harm the protestors. Many objects were thrown and fire-crackers were shot up in the air. But it did not escalate from there.

DC Peace Team was also present at a later stand-off between police and Black Lives Matter which ended after some chanting and attempts by BLM to persuade the police to open the street.

As some of the Peace Team affinity groups arrived back in Lafayette Square, they found other members in the midst of an unexpected incident. Two people who entered a space of an adversarial group had been engaged
in multiple conversations. At some point, the larger group asked them to leave and the two persons asked the marshals (who were not DCPT) nearby to help them. As they did this, a more hostile crowd gathered. Some of our DC Peace Team in the vicinity recognized the danger for escalation and many people getting hurt or arrested beyond these two persons.

In turn, for the protection of everyone in the scene, some of our team worked to create a safer space between these two people and the group as they walked out of the square. Some of our team engaged with some of the more hostile actors as spray paint was used, de-humanizing language,
as well as water bottles being thrown, which hit one of the persons leaving the area and one of our DCPT member’s in the head. As the Peace Team engaged with some of the hostile actors, we worked to acknowledge their anger as a way to connect and de-escalate. Some of Peace Team said to these actors they were our brothers or sisters, that we loved them, and that we were there to protect them not interfere with their frustrations. Others spoke about how we don’t want to just replicate the violence we detest in others, and how they don’t need to hurt people to get the change they are
looking for. We needed to do similar de-escalation work as the police became part of the scene, since for some, the police presence escalated the energy. Eventually, the police drove the two persons out of the area. No one else got hurt or arrested in this incident.

Eli McCarthy, DC Peace Team member, said, “Overall, by recognizing the dignity of every person, DC Peace Team worked to interrupt de-humanization, prevent violence, and when possible engaged in constructive dialogue. Even when we might disagree with some political positions or strategies used by some people, we still recognized their dignity. Yet, we also recognized that there is constructive conflict, such as expressions of resistance to injustice, racism, and white supremacy.”

This is what unarmed civilian peacekeeping looked like at the anti-Nazi rally. No one was hurt.

More:

Small, Energetic ‘Unite the Right’ Rally Ends Early

78% of U.S. Catholic priests and sisters think women should be reinstated as deacons

Catholic Church under construction
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University surveyed men and women’s Catholic religious orders in the U.S. on the possibility of sacramentally ordaining women as deacons in the Catholic Church. Here’s what they learned:

Seventy-six percent of responding superiors are aware that the International Union of Superiors General requested that Pope Francis establish the Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.

Sixty-nine percent are aware that the Papal Commission has formed and has met.

Seventy-seven percent of superiors believe it is theoretically possible to sacramentally ordain women as deacons.

Seventy-two percent believe the Church should authorize the sacramental ordination of women as deacons.

45 percent believe the Church will authorize sacramental ordination of women as deacons.

If the Church were to authorize the sacramental ordination of women as deacons, 69% believe the USCCB would implement this. Fewer, 58%, believe their bishop would implement this.

Sixty-eight percent of responding superiors believe the sacramental ordination of women as deacons would be “somewhat” or “very much” important for the Catholic Church. A minority, 45%, believe this would be “somewhat” or “very much” important for their institute or society.

Sixty-four percent of responding superiors say they were “somewhat” or “very much” aware of any history of women ordained as deacons.

Seventy-six percent believe the sacramental ordination of women (religious or not) as deacons would be beneficial to the Catholic Church’s mission.

Eighty-four percent believe the sacramental ordination of women (religious or not) as deacons would “somewhat” or “very much” create a greater call for women to be ordained as priests.[]

Read CARA’s complete survey here.

Other articles:
Study: US religious orders overwhelmingly back women deacons by Nicole Winfield (August 2018)
Study: Most US major superiors think women deacons ‘theoretically possible’by Joshua McElwey (August 2018)
Deacon commission won’t advise Francis on ordaining women, says doctrinal chief by Joshua McElwey (June 2018)

Book Release: Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization

I’m so pleased to have an Bible reflection in Unsettling the Word, this beautiful and totally unique collection, edited by Steve Heinrichs.–Rose Berger


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we make the Bible a nonviolent weapon for decolonization? Check out Unsettling the Word.

For generations, the Bible has been employed by settler colonial societies as a weapon to dispossess Indigenous and racialized peoples of their lands, cultures, and spiritualities. Given this devastating legacy, many want nothing to do with it. But is it possible for the exploited and their allies to reclaim the Bible from the dominant powers? Can we make it an instrument for justice in the cause of the oppressed? Even a nonviolent weapon toward decolonization?

In Unsettling the Word, over 60 Indigenous and Settler authors come together to wrestle with the Scriptures, re-reading and re-imagining the ancient text for the sake of reparative futures.

Created by Mennonite Church Canada’s Indigenous-Settler Relations program, Unsettling the Word is intended to nurture courageous conversations with the Bible, our current settler colonial contexts, and the Church’s call to costly peacemaking. (Comes with a study guide for groups.)

Order from Commonword.

Abbot Philip: ‘Relying on the Mercy of God’

With the most recent newsletter from Abbot Philip at Christ in the Desert Monastery comes word that Abbot Philip has announced his retirement, effective December 12, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  After the election on that day of a new abbot, Philip will return to prayer and silence after 22 years of his weekly “notebook,” which he will no longer write. What a gift his insight were/are/will be for all who encounter them.–Rose Berger

Abbot Philip

“… The spiritual life has the same kind of challenges: continuity is whatever circumstances we find ourselves. It is more or less easy to remain faithful to lectio and quiet prayer when I am in the monastery on a regular schedule. When I am away from the monastery or when there are extraordinary stresses in the community, then it is more difficult to remain consistent and faithful in the inner life of prayer. Even the early desert monks and nuns recognized that we could fool ourselves into thinking that we were deeply committed to this inner life of prayer when there were no challenges.

Practically every challenge possible can come into our lives, whether we live in monasteries or outside of monasteries, whether we are single or whether we are married, whether we are old or whether we are young. Human life is spiritual combat, always, and we are invited to accept the combat and strive to be faithful at all times.

If we fail, if we are not faithful, God is always with us and continues to love us and invite us to get up and continue in the combat. This is one of the most profound lessons of the spiritual life: never give up because God is always walking with us to help us, to forgive us, to call us to a deeper faithfulness.

Many times I have explained to our community that when I was young, I sort of had the unclear idea that a person could reach a state in which there was no further combat, only faithfulness. As I have grown older in monastic life, I realize that combat endures until the day we die. We are invited to seek the Lord and to embrace the struggle every day until death.

For me personally, it has been a comfort to realize that God always loves me and that I must simply struggle to the best of my ability each day, striving to be faithful to God, to His Word, to the Spirit which calls me deeper. There is little I can do except do the little that is possible each day. It is not for me a matter of looking back and seeing what has been done but of looking forward and seeing God’s faithfulness and my lack of faithfulness—and then trying to be just a bit more faithful.

Throughout my years as a monk, I have worked for the good of the community in lots of ways. On the other hand, the focus of my life, when I am free to follow my inner calling, is on prayer and seeking to be faithful to the Lord. I have failed in so many ways over the years. On the other hand, I keep striving to do and to be what God is asking of me. The mercy of God always sustains me and gives me courage to continue seeking Him, no matter how much I fail. This, for me, is the heart of Christian life: always seeking the Lord and always striving to do His will—no matter how often we fail.”–Abbot Philip (July 18, 2018 Notebook)

Video: Russia’s Punk Disrupters Take the Field with Poetry and Protest

I’m a huge fan of the creative and brave nonviolent actions by Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist protest punk rock group based in Moscow. If you were watching the World Cup finals, then you saw some if their “cops interrupt your daily life” antics on the field. These folks take incredible risks for freedom and for life under President Putin. See an earlier Pussy Riot post here. –Rose Berger

PUSSY RIOT: PITCH INVADERS, WORLD CUP DISRUPTORS, GREENBELTERS
During the World Cup final on Sunday, with millions around the world watching on and President Putin in the stands to soak up the adulation (at the end of what has been an astonishingly good tournament), four members of Greenbelt 2018 artists-in-residence, Pussy Riot, invaded the pitch.

Despite the usual knee-jerk groans of “what idiots!”, there was a carefully thought-through back-story behind the scenes. We want to take a few minutes to tell you about it.

In memory of Russian Poet Dmitri Aleksandrovich, who died 11 years ago, the four Pussy Rioters created an act they entitled ‘Policeman enters the pitch’. In his work, Prigov had created the image of a benevolent and perfect policeman (who Pussy Riot interpret as the bearer of heavenly statehood). This heavenly policeman, according to Prigov, would talk on his radio with God himself.

Pussy Riot took this image and contrasted it with the current behaviour of what they called an ‘earthly policeman’ (representing Russia’s current state police) who, they argue from personal experience, often fabricates criminal cases.
Continue reading “Video: Russia’s Punk Disrupters Take the Field with Poetry and Protest”

Ireland becomes world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels

A message to the Irish government to divest from fossil fuels is spelled out in lights in front of the lower house of parliament.
 A message to the Irish government to divest from fossil fuels is spelled out in lights in front of the lower house of parliament. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland/Trócaire/350.org

by Damian Carrington

The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.

The state’s €8bn national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat “as soon as is practicable”, which is expected to mean within five years. Norway’s huge $1tn sovereign wealth fund has only partially divested from fossil fuels, targeting some coal companies, and is still considering its oil and gas holdings.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown rapidly and trillions of dollars of investment funds have been divested, including large pension funds and insurerscities such as New Yorkchurches and universities.

Supporters of divestment say existing fossil fuel resources are already far greater than can be burned without causing catastrophic climate change and that exploring and producing more fossil fuels is therefore morally wrong and economically risky. However, some critics argue say that remaining as shareholders and persuading fossil fuel companies to change can be more effective.

The Irish fossil fuel divestment bill was passed in the lower house of parliament on Thursday and it is expected to pass rapidly through the upper house, meaning it could become law before the end of the year. The Irish state investment fund holds more than €300m in fossil fuel investments in 150 companies.

“The [divestment] movement is highlighting the need to stop investing in the expansion of a global industry which must be brought into managed decline if catastrophic climate change is to be averted,” said Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who introduced the bill. “Ireland by divesting is sending a clear message that the Irish public and the international community are ready to think and act beyond narrow short term vested interests.”

Éamonn Meehan, executive director of international development charity Trócaire, said: “Today the Oireachtas [Irish parliament] has sent a powerful signal to the international community about the need to speed up the phase-out of fossil fuels.”

Meehan said: “Just last month Ireland was ranked the second worst European country for climate action, so the passing of this bill is good news. But it has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue.”

The bill defines a fossil fuel company as a company that derives 20% or more of its revenue from exploration, extraction or refinement of fossil fuels. The bill also allows investment in Irish fossil fuel companies if this funds their move away from fossil fuels.

Gerry Liston at Global Legal Action Network, who drafted the bill, said: “Governments will not meet their obligations under the Paris agreement on climate change if they continue to financially sustain the fossil fuel industry. Countries the world over must now urgently follow Ireland’s lead and divest from fossil fuels.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/12/ireland-becomes-worlds-first-country-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels

Langston Hughes: “Looky here, America”

 

 

 

 

 

Beaumont to Detroit: 1943
by Langston Hughes

Looky here, America
What you done done
Let things drift
Until the riots come.

Now your policemen
Let your mobs run free.
I reckon you don’t care
Nothing about me.

You tell me that hitler
Is a mighty bad man.
I guess he took lessons
From the ku klux klan.

You tell me mussolini’s
Got an evil heart
Well, it mus-a-been in Beaumont
That he had his start

Cause everything that hitler
And mussolini do,
Negroes get the same
Treatment from you.

You jim crowed me
Before hitler rose to power
And you’re STILL jim crowing me
Right now, this very hour.

Yet you say we’re fighting
For democracy
Then why don’t democracy
Include me?

I ask you this question
Cause I want to know
How long I got to fight
BOTH HITLER – AND JIM CROW

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (p.281)

I was reminded of this poem recently during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Hughes wrote it in response to the white nationalist riots that occurred in the summer of 1943 in Beaumont, Texas, and Detroit, MI.–Rose

Walking Together: Pope Francis and the World Council of Churches

On June 21, there was a historic meeting in Geneva with Pope Francis and other Vatican leaders and the leadership of the ecumenical World Council of Churches. Above is the 50 minute video of the shared worship service (order of worship), including Pope Francis preaching on Galatians 5:13-26 and the metaphor of “walking.” (He speaks in Italian. The English translation is here

Dear Brothers and Sisters, We have heard the words addressed by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who were experiencing conflict and division. Groups were fighting and hurling accusations at one another. It is in this context that the Apostle, twice in the space of a few verses, invites us to “walk in the Spirit” (cf. Gal 5:16.25).

Walking. We human beings are constantly on the move. Throughout our lives, we are called to set out and keep walking: from our mother’s womb and at every stage of life, from when we first leave home to the day we depart from this earthly existence. The metaphor of walking reveals the real meaning of our life, a life that is not self-sufficient but always in search of something greater. Our hearts spur us to keep walking, to pursue a goal.

Walking is a discipline; it takes effort. It requires patience and exercise, day after day. We have to forego many other paths in order to choose the one that leads to the goal. We have to keep that goal constantly before us, lest we go astray. Walking also demands the humility to be prepared at times to retrace our steps. It also involves being concerned for our travelling companions, since only in company do we make good progress. Walking, in a word, demands constant conversion. That is why so many people refuse to do it. They prefer to remain in the quiet of their home, where it is easy to manage their affairs without facing the risks of travel. But that is to cling to a momentary security, incapable of bestowing the peace and joy for which our hearts yearn. That joy and peace can only be found by going out from ourselves. ….  —Pope Francis (homily)

Rabbi Waskow: Families Torn Apart – The Lightning Flash that Reveals our Hidden Cruelties

Rabbi Waskow arrested. (Photo Credit: John Zanga, #NoKXL Actions, D.C.)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow reflects on the deep scriptural issues at stake with the current Trump administration policy that separates children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Please see the Shalom Center’s action steps.

Rabbi Waskow writes: “One leading official of the United States Government has claimed that biblical calls to obey the law are paramount here. We affirm that the Bible actually speaks the contrary.

Some officials are saying – even boasting – that the family-separation policy was deliberately intended by its ruthlessness to deter families from coming to the United States, seeking asylum because of well-founded fears that their lives and the lives of their children are in immediate danger if they were to stay in Central American countries that have been overwhelmed by violence.

But the Bible sees the world through God’s commitment to justice and compassion: “You shall not hand over to their masters serfs [or, some translators say, “slaves”]  who have escaped from their masters to you. They may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which they choose within your gates, wherever it seems best to them. You shall not maltreat them”  (Deuteronomy 23: 15-16).

Of course neither the biblical understanding of serfdom, indentured servitude, or slavery nor the experience of these refugees today, fleeing murder and rape and seeking asylum, is identical with the past of chattel slavery in the United States. Yet their experience bears elements of the same ruthless and violent subjugation. And this biblical verse is uncanny in its direct address of the crisis we face now, even more than other, broader teachings about love and justice for “foreigners.”

And the “law” that Attorney General Sessions cites to subjugate love and destroy our families is not law at all. It is a policy concocted by elements of the present US government that actually violates the law. It is intended to keep asylum-seekers from making their case as they are entitled to do both by US law and the binding law of the land, embedded in treaties the US has ratified.

It is about “laws” like these that the Bible speaks and Isaiah (10:2) cries out, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

Continue reading “Rabbi Waskow: Families Torn Apart – The Lightning Flash that Reveals our Hidden Cruelties”