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.

Vancouver, B.C.: Celebrate ‘Salal and Cedar’

Laurel Dykstra at ordination
Laurel Dykstra at ordination

My friend Laurel Dykstra in Vancouver, B.C., has joined with others for a new church plant in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster on Coast Salish territory where the Fraser River meets the Salish Sea.

By “new” I mean revolutionary and visionary and ancient and deeply now. This is an example of how the church can still offer new wine skins for prophetic new wine — and how our salvation comes from God through the margins and marginalized.

Thank you, Laurel. May we all offer a prayer for Salal and Cedar! See Laurel’s epistle below:

Hello Friends and Fellow Travellers,

I am incredibly excited to introduce Salal and Cedar, a new environmental justice ministry in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster on Coast Salish territory where the Fraser River meets the Salish Sea.

After months of planning scheming and preparing with collaborators near and far we are starting a church plant/watershed discipleship community for Christians in and around Vancouver who:

• have a heart for creation
• feel most connected to God in ocean, forest, river and field
• are deeply concerned about global climate change
• want to bring their faith to work for ecological justice
• are environmental activists but keep they faith quiet
• believe racial justice, economic justice and environmental justice are connected

Rooted in the Anglican incarnational theology, we are part of a growing commitment to the Fifth Mark of Mission “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”

Ecumenically we identify with the Watershed Discipleship Movement: communities that are asking, “what does it mean to be a follower of the Jesus Way here, among the land, water, creatures and people of a particular place?”

Continue reading “Vancouver, B.C.: Celebrate ‘Salal and Cedar’”

Video: The Fashion Wars on the Floor of TransCanada Trade Show

The comedic interrupters Yes Men showed up at TransCanada’s “trade show” dressed in nearly identical blue shirts and khakis to answer questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and its cousin, the Energy East pipeline. Watch the video to see how you too can interrupt immoral corporate shenanigans.

Context: TransCanada is a mining company that wants to make money off one of the last massive tar sand deposits in the world. Climate scientists agree that expanding tar sands mining will force a massive amount of carbon pollution into the earth’s atmosphere and tip our planet over it’s energy budget. It is our moral duty to stop this from happening.

God established a liveable zone for human thriving. As strange as it seems, immoral leadership – both in politics and business – is wreaking havoc on the basic stuff of life – air, water, soil, and the most vulnerable in our communities — the unborn, the elderly, and those who are sick or weak.

Stopping TransCanada from expanding tar sands mining by stopping the pipelines through which tar sands sludge will be shipped is just one front on which we are called to wage peace, environmental stewardship, and the right to life.

God’s Creatures Defending God’s Creation … on August 29

I’m getting arrested on Aug. 29 at the White House. It’s time to put my body where my soul is – defending God’s creation.

Religious community scheduled to have largest group to date risk arrest on Monday, August 29, at 11 a.m. in front of White House.

See statements and press releases.

A interreligious contingent has chosen Aug. 29 as our arrest day. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others will train together on Aug. 28 and then worship and risk arrest together on Aug 29.

This is part of a two-week campaign (Aug 20-Sept 3) in which leading environmentalists including Wendell Berry, Naomi Klein, and Bill McKibben will join a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience to block the approval of a dirty oil pipeline that will cross the United States. As one Canadian wrote, “This [pipeline] will make the Great Wall of China look like Tom Sawyer’s picket fence.”

I would love for YOU (yes, YOU!) to join us.

So far, 1,000 people have said they’ll risk arrest. Personally, I’d like to see 1,000 people each day for all 15 days.

Sign up to participate at tarsandsaction.org AND drop me (rbergersol at gmail) or Tim Kumfer (telltheworddc at gmail) a note to join the religious contingent.

McChrystal v Obama: Battle of the ‘Hard Hearts’?

General McChrystal's gold engraved nunchuks. Photograph by Mikhail Galustov for Rolling Stone/Redux

Yesterday U.S. top Afghanistan warrior General Stan McChrystal was very publicly called to the carpet in the Oval Office. Sources say his job is on the line. President Obama wants McChrystal to answer for comments he made in a Rolling Stone interview (July 8-22, 2010 issue).

The short form is that McChrystal disses the counterterrorism strategy advocated by Vice President Joe Biden, calling it “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” He outright insults Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, and says he feels betrayed by the US ambassador in Kabul Karl Eikenberry. Overall, McChrystal conveys a deep-seated contempt for civilian leadership.

And, despite the “it’s a tough slog, but we are winning the Afghani  hearts and minds” rhetoric from the White House, the civil societies in the countries of our NATO allies have forced their governments to change direction on the failed war policy in Afghanistan. (Having watched The Princess Bride numerous times, they apparently learned the lesson: “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”)

In the Rolling Stone article, author Michael Hastings writes:

Opposition to the war [in Afghanistan] has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany’s president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. …

But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn’t begin to reflect how deeply f*&^%d up things are in Afghanistan. “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,” a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn’t prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here,” a senior military official in Kabul tells me.

While the White House is debating whether or not to fire McChrystal and what the fall-out might be on U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, Rabbi Arthur Waskow frames the argument differently: “The ‘strategy’ is already a failure, and the ‘civil-military issue’ is the Constitution at stake, not a failed and stupid war.”

Waskow sets Obama’s current dilemma in historical context:

Harry  Truman knew what to do: When the issue was insubordination by General MacArthur over whether to escalate a stupid war  with China that MacArthur had brought on (beyond defending South Korea), Truman fired MacArthur. (I remember Congress begging MacArthur to address a special joint session. I remember how he ended with a bathetic, bedraggled song: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”)  Right. Despite the resulting furor, the arrogant old soldier did indeed fade away.   …

McChrystal’s strategy was arrogant & stupid;  it has already failed  because it was arrogant & stupid;  and many of us, including Biden & Ikenberry, did indeed tell them so.  …

The trouble is that Obama accepted the arrogant, stupid advice from McChrystal — and now has to face the consequences in a failing and mistaken war.  When John Kennedy came new into the White House, he accepted similarly stupid & arrogant advice from the CIA about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba — and when he realized how stupid it was, he fired the lot of them and refused to get trapped into more arrogance and more escalation.

Now we will see what Obama is made of: whether he has the guts and good sense of Truman & Kennedy.

But beyond the political power struggles that are as old as the military strategies of Uzziah in II Kings 15, there is a deeply spiritual issue. It is the issue of arrogance. It is always arrogance that hardens the heart and impedes the ability to listen.

“Refusing to listen breeds stupidity,” writes Rabbi Waskow. “Stupidity arising from a spiritual failure, not an IQ failure, breeds political disaster. There is a deep relationship between the arrogance of the Generals and the CIA in their contempt for China, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan — and their contempt for civilian leadership. And the contempt of BP for the oceans, the forests, the air. The obsessive belief that Conquest and Control are all that matters.”

The consequence of King Uzziah’s failed military strategy is summarized by a proverb from King Solomon: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18).

McChrystal – who carries around a gold, custom-made, set of nunchuks engraved with his name and four stars –  has got pride and arrogance in spades. (Read the entire Rolling Stone article to get the full experience of this.)

But Rabbi Waskow reminds that pride and arrogance are not the marks of a great military leader. Instead, he says, the Talmud teaches: “Who is the greatest [military] hero? The person who can master his own impulses … and the person who can turn his enemy into his friend.”

Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners, blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com. She’s the author of Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood (Apprentice House, April 2010).