Mark Rahner at the Seattle Times produced a great satirical video interview with 81-year-old Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel after Bichsel and four others (Susan Crane, 65; Lynne Greenwald, 60; Steve Kelly, S.J., 60; Anne Montgomery RSCJ, 83) , using bolt and wire cutters, broke into Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest its storehouse of nuclear weapons. It’s not quite up to the standards of Stephen Colbert – but worth the watch!
Bichsel and the others were caught and faced charges of misdemeanor trespass and destruction of government property. They were scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 6 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The government has since asked that the charges be dismissed. Prosecutors and investigators say they need more time to determine whether felony charges are more appropriate, said Emily Langlie, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. Once that decision is made, then it’s likely charges will be refiled, she said.
Susan Crane, one of the Disarm Now activist, said “Bix was disappointed that everything he said about international law, about love of enemy, and the reasons for our action was left out. But, we did get a laugh from the video!”
The Disarm Now Plowshares activists will continue to vigil at the gate of Naval Base Kitsap, and invite everyone to join them at the Martin Luther King celebration at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, in Poulsbo, Washington, on Saturday, January 16, 2010. Find out more at www.gzcenter.org (That’s Ground Zero Center, not Geezer Central.)
Daily film videos from the UN climate summit starting on Copenhagen next week are part of a December plan of action to make sure that the voice of faith is heard at this “make or break” time in our history. These will be on the new ON website at: www.operationnoah.org.
Watch the 3-minute introductory video below.
Operation Noah, the ecumenical community which campaigns exclusively on climate change, is working with a US web-based organization, Odyssey Networks, to bring you the voices of religious wisdom as monks, nuns, rabbis and holy men and women converge on the Danish capital.
“It’s quite an ambition,” said ON’s Mark Dowd, who will be fronting many of the reports. “We’re following everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury, to youngsters from the Christian-Muslim forum, Benedictine and Franciscan nuns, Hindu gurus, Buddhist monks and American evangelicals.”
Using the full range of new media potential, there are plans for daily video diaries, blogs and film reports which will feature, for example, the huge religious gatherings on the weekend of December 12th and 13th.
“I am sure that much of Copenhagen will de dominated by the politicians and policymakers with endless talks of carbon trading, cap and trade and mitigation measures,” said Mark Dowd. “That’s all well and good, but we need to stand back and give the faith voice a platform. Creation is a gift and unless we include some sense of the sacred in our reflections, we are not going to get back on course to living in greater balance and harmony with the natural world.”
Hip-Hop News: It’s what the kids are listening to.
This Week With Jasiri X is the groundbreaking Hip-Hop news series by Pittsburgh-based Nation of Islam minister Jasiri X.
Each episode of This Week With Jasiri X features him reporting the national news over the rap and hip-hop tracks. “Using lyrical skills, controversial subject matter, and phat beats, Jasiri X shows that real Hip-hop is not dead,” says his Web site.
Chuck D of Public Enemy once said that “Hip-hop was the CNN of the ghetto.” No artist embraces and embodies that concept better than Jasiri X.
His newest video is on Afghanistan. It examines what lead up to Afghanistan’s intimate and volatile relationship with the U.S.
In the classic tradition of Romantic poetry, Jasiri X identifies Afghanistan as a woman and examines her relationship with the Men (and their armies) surrounding her. The strategic use of video from Dr. King and the resonant refrain “Bring the Troops Home” is powerful!
Jasiri X’s putting the prophetic politics back into hip-hop, returning it to its roots from Public Enemy, with its reference to John Dillinger who was named by the FBI during the Great Depression as “Public Enemy Number 1” (though many of the hungry poor public referred to Dillinger as a “Robin Hood”).
Jasiri X is a MC, activist and entrepreneur who made his way onto the national and international hip-hop scene with the controversial hit song “FREE THE JENA 6,” which played on more than 100 radio stations across the U.S. It was also named “Hip-hop Political Song of the Year” and won “Single of the Year” at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards in 2007.
In June 2009, 19 young Israelis and Palestinians, who have been working together for three years, came together in Tel Aviv to show that music can overcome conflict by creating a unique track and this 5-minute video.
The project is a collaboration between peace organization Windows for Peace and pioneering London-based music college Point Blank Learning. This video ‘Step for Peace’ is the final result of all their hard work.
For me, it’s a contemporary expression of Joel 2:28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
“At first [working on the project] was kind of weird. We all have different stories. We all had a bit of trouble trying to understand each other. Just our traditions are different; we are living different lives. After some time, we got to know each other and be friends.” – Natalie, Palestinian from Bethlehem, 15.
“It has changed my life. Before, I thought Israeli people were bad and that they thought of us as bad. When I met the group it was a shock for me – now I’ve changed my thoughts about Israelis” – Tamara, Palestinian from Bethlehem, 15.
“It’s fantastic we are talking, because we are supposed to be enemies. I came here because I wanted to understand more the other side. It’s hard for me to talk about the hard things [Palestinians] go through. There is something in their voice that blames me and I can’t blame them for that” – Gili, Israeli from Tel Aviv, 14.
“[The song] won’t make people meet the other side, but it will change the way they think about the conflict” – Orin, Tel Aviv resident, 14.
There is no better Bible-buster/activist teaching today than Ched Myers and the good folks at Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. Here are two up-coming residential week-long intensives–the Bartimaeus Institutes–in lovely Ventura County, CA, for you to check out. And watch the fantastic video! It’s visually rich and theologically exciting.
January 18-22: “A N.T. Theology and Diverse Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.” We are pleased to announce that Revs. Murphy Davis (right) and Eduard Loring of the Open Door Community in Atlanta will be joining Rev. Nelson and Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community Center and Rev. Geoff Broughton from Sydney, Australia as special guests. Murphy and Nelson were interviewees for the second volume of Elaine & Ched’s Ambassadors of
February 22-26: “Ecojustice, Sabbath Economics and Luke’s Gospel.” This Institute is co-sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, whose missionary Dorothy Stang (right) was martyred in Brazil five years ago. We’ll hear her story and Ched will look at Year C lections from the third gospel as they relate to our economic and environmental crisis.
During the 3 days of funeral proceedings for Sen. Kennedy, I was very pleased to see the public display of support and solidarity for Sen. Kennedy by the institutional Catholic Church.
Kennedy was an embodiment of Catholic social teaching in every aspect of his political life. He also was emblematic of the complexities of living out that social teaching with integrity in our modern world–especially on the issue of abortion.
But one of the fundamental characteristics of the Catholic faith is our ability to maintain a large embrace. Our strength to do this is provided by the unifiying nature of the Eucharist.
I was especially touched by the exchange of letters between Sen. Kennedy and Pope Benedict, read by Cardinal McCarrick at the burial at Arlington. Here’s the most complete transcript I could find.
Excerpts of the letter from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy that President Barack Obama delivered to Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year and an account of the pope’s response, as read by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington:
”Most Holy Father I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God’s blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.
”I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life. I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war.
”Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator. I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone. I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.”
—— An account from the Vatican of the pope’s response, according to McCarrick:
”The Holy Father has the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of our universal church.
”His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings and trust in His promise of eternal life.
”Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord.”
Though HBO pulled the video of the interview, it’s now back up and you can see it here. Also, you can see my video interviews with Jim Douglass from last spring here. The JFK part starts at about 3:45 minutes.
Yesterday on CNN Live, Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley outlined how waterboarding is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to torture by U.S. military and paramilitary contractors.
Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and tell President Obama to not back down on closing Guantanamo.
Last February, before Binyam’s release, Bradley wrote a piece for The Guardian outlining in greater detail her experience representing Binyam. Here’s an excerpt:
I am a lawyer and a soldier, and I act for [UK citizen] Binyam Mohamed, who is currently on hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay. …
The Joint Task Force, which runs Guantánamo Bay, gives me no information about Binyam. When I called to enquire about his condition, they said first, that they would look into it and then that they would tell me nothing and that I should make a Freedom of Information request, which would have taken months to process. Therefore, whenever I want information about Binyam, I have to make the 5-hour trip to Guantánamo. Each time, he asks why he is still there.
It is worth bearing in mind that all charges against Binyam have been dropped and that Binyam’s chief prosecutor resigned, citing the unfairness of the system.
I profoundly hope that he is not being kept in Guantánamo to avoid information surrounding his rendition and torture coming out.
Read Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley’s full commentary in The Guardian.
Read the transcript of Clive Stafford Smith and Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley’s address to a UK Parliament subcommittee on “extraordinary rendition” about the Guantanamo prisoners the two are representing.