Saturday, June 30, 2007

Go see Sicko!

We went to see Michael Moore's new film Sicko this afternoon and were both moved tremendously. I cried and laughed a lot. Whatever your response to Moore's previous films, go see this one. My hope is that we as a nation will find in this film an invitation to repentance, conversion, change. As Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) Our health care system is broken.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My brother in Los Angeles and the pilgrims in New Orleans

I just spoke with my brother Christopher who is spending his summer as an intern at the Catholic Worker House in Los Angeles this summer. His description so far of his life and work was very moving. Apparently tomorrow he's getting a full tour of Skid Row and in a week or so Biblical scholar and theologian Ched Myers will be visiting the community. Matt and I plan to go and visit Christopher at the end of July. I'm so grateful that my brother is part of this amazing movement of love.

Also, over at Bishop Marc's blog Lily Moebes and Vickie Holt members of Grace Cathedral have posted reflections from the Diocese of California Pilgrimage to New Orleans and Taize. They left early this week. Here's a bit of what Lily and Vickie have to say,

From Lily's post:
Visiting the Lower Ninth Ward was the most striking part of the day. Over the past year, I have learned and had discussions about what happened during and after hurricane Katrina both at school and with friends. Even from a distance, it evokes complicated layers of confusion, frustration, sadness, sympathy, and anger. Seeing it in person made everything I had learned seem unnecessary. Even two years later, the physical devastation, the anger and attachment of residents, and just the monumental scale of what happened are even more evident in person as they were through a TV screen and through a newspaper. What seems silly to me is why the relief is so slow coming and why people are still living in such reduced conditions if 5,000 tourists have come through and seen it all so plainly.

From Vickie's Post:
At the end of the day, we drove through the Lower 9th Ward, right where the levees broke, and it was a completely out of body experience. I couldn’t feel anything at first. I wanted so badly to understand—to let the horrible truth wash over me…but it just wouldn’t hit me. I watched house after house pass our bus, and slowly became familiar with the X’s (keeping track of flood water, date, and bodies found), the drooping roofs, and the broken windows. I found myself searching every house for these signs, again and again, over and over. I wanted to see them, wanted to photograph them. It was aesthetically beautiful in a very strange way, but by the time we reached the Lower 9th Ward, I felt disgusting taking photos. I didn’t want to look at the destruction, I didn’t want to gawk from inside my air conditioned bus and the safety of returning home. I could not fathom the events of two years prior.

We pulled up to an intersection, and an overturned bus was lying by the side of the road. I don’t know what came over me, but I began to cry and looked away. There were empty lots on our right, and I stared out across them, and couldn’t bring myself to look at the houses on the left for about 3 blocks. When the emotion had passed I felt odd. I realized that to truly understand something, you have to let go of trying to, and instead just let yourself feel it, however that may manifest itself. Everyone reacts differently to phenomena. After I saw the bus, something clicked and I realized the sheer horror of the situation. Reality hits you when you least expect it, and you really can’t control how you will react.

Please keep Lily, Vickie and the many other pilgrims in your prayers, and pray for New Orleans that those who have suffered so much might receive relief, that justice might come to this place.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another World Is Possible - Another U.S. Is Necessary

The many struggles for justice, equality and peace in our world over the course of history are connected to one another. For example, Gandhi's efforts for liberation in India influenced the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin in the United States. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States influenced and was influenced by the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. Below is an article on the first U.S. Social Forum (connected with the World Social Forum) now underway in Atlanta, Georgia which highlights the value of people coming together to learn from one another and to find ways to support each other's efforts for justice.

Published on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 by One World USA
First-Ever US Social Forum Begins
by Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of social activists from across the United States are descending on Atlanta, Georgia this week.They aren’t coming to protest. Instead, they’re traveling to meet each other, share stories, and develop a unified vision of how the United States should be run.

“It’s an opportunity to bring together a diverse number of organizations from across the American landscape to talk about how we envision a better world and how to get there,” said Alice Lovelace, a lead organizer of the U.S. Social Forum.

The U.S. Social Forum, the first of the World Social Forum’s regional events to be held in the United States, begins today with a march from the state Capitol to the Atlanta Civic Center. The theme of the march, said Lovelace, is “reclaiming the public sector.”

“Reclaiming it from privatization and all the other assaults (like) defunding of hospitals, defunding of public education, gentrification, running poor people out of the city, lack of housing — you name it,” she added.

Organizers are expecting participants from all over the country to talk about such issues as immigration, poverty, housing, and police conduct. At the end of the week-long forum, participants will assemble again to decide what campaigns should be undertaken and how to work together towards that goal.

“The social forum really couldn’t be coming at a better time,” said Colin Rajah of the Oakland, California-based National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which is part of the event’s national planning committee.

Immigrant-rights events at the forum include a convergence of household workers and a talk entitled “Remittances: A Strategy for Transnational Migrant Organizing.”

“Immigrant communities are really mobilizing and trying to get an understanding of what are our rights in this country,” Rajah told OneWorld. “I think it’s really important to be able to communicate with other communities. What’s our relationship to the African American community? What’s our relationship to the indigenous (Native American) community? Not all immigrants to the United States are Latino. Some are Asian or African immigrants. The Social Forum is an opportunity for us to come together and talk.”

The U.S. Social Forum is an outgrowth of the World Social Forum (WSF), an annual event that now attracts tens of thousands of people a year for a week-long conference of dialogues, workshops, cultural events, marches, and rallies.

Launched in 2001 in Porto Allegre, Brazil under the banner “Another World Is Possible,” the Forum has grown steadily and led to regional gatherings around the globe. In January, an estimated 75,000 people gathered in Nairobi, Kenya under the banner “People’s Struggles, People’s Alternatives.”

“The WSF was created to provide an open platform to discuss alternatives to the economic plans created by multinational corporations and governments at the World Economic Forum,” the WSF Web site explains. “These plans often result in strategies that suppress workers and human rights, and undermine national and indigenous sovereignty.”

Organizers of the first U.S. Social Forum picked Atlanta because of its legacy as the home of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the multi-racial organizing he championed in helping to end segregation.

The organizing theme for the U.S. forum is “Another World Is Possible - Another U.S. Is Necessary.”

Alice Lovelace said the Atlanta event is almost seven years in the making.

“We insisted that it had to be led by people-of-color-led organizations,” she told OneWorld. “There was no knowledge in the United States. There had to be a lot of educating in the United States for people to understand what a Social Forum was. They had to see that this was their process that would address what they felt was important.”

© 2007 One World USA

Support the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Bill

The video above I found on Susan Russell's blog "Inch at a Time". Very moving. Click here to take action to support the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Bill.

Monday, June 25, 2007

walking with integrity

Yesterday, was historic in the Episcopal Diocese of California. Bishop Marc Andrus, his wife Sheila Andrus and Anglican Nigerian Human Rights Activist Davis Mac-Iyalla rode together in the San Francisco Pride Parade along with a huge diverse crowd of Episcopalians and other people of faith who support equality for all. Many thanks to the great work of Integrity/Oasis on putting an array of events together connecting local Bay Area gay, lesbian and transgender folks with their sisters and brothers on the other side of the planet. Matt and I were thrilled to be part of this awesome display of solidarity, compassion, joy and justice seeking.

On a related matter, check out this post over at the Episcopal Cafe about a mega-church pastor who stands up for equality, be sure to watch the CNN video as well. Many thanks to Andrew Gerns for posting this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pray for The Simple Way & victims of fire in Philadelphia

A year or so ago back in Northern Virginia Susan, Mike, Helen, some other youngish people and I started a group to discuss faith, culture, politics and life which we called MESH. One of the books we read together was Shane Claiborne's "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical", later after moving to San Francisco a small group of us at the Cathedral took a look at this inspiring book as well about Shane and the intentional community he belongs to called "The Simple Way". Turns out this community was dramatically affected by a huge fire in Philadelphia that happened this morning. Please pray for them and everyone who has lost their homes, means of transport, and community gathering spaces. Read the message below for further details including how you can offer the victims of the fire financial support.

From the Simple Way:

This morning, a 7-alarm fire consumed an abandoned warehouse in our Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Simple Way Community Center at 3200 Potter Street was destroyed as well as at least eight of our neighbors’ homes. Over 100 people were evacuated from their homes, and 400 families are currently without power. Despite this developing tragedy, we are incredibly thankful to share that all of our community members and every one of our neighbors is safely out of harm’s way.

This fire will forever change the fabric of our community. Eight families are currently homeless, and in many cases have lost their vehicles as well as their homes. One of our neighbors, the Mahaias Family, lost their three cars as well as the equipment one family member uses for her massage therapy business. Teenager Brian Mahaias is devastated not because he has lost his belongings, but because he fears that this fire will force him to move away from this neighborhood that is his family as well as his home.

The Simple Way has lost a community center that was home to our Yes! And… afterschool program, community arts center, and Cottage Printworks t-shirt micro-business as well as to two of our community members. Community members Shane Claiborne and Jesce Walz have lost all of their belongings, Yes! And…’s after school studio and library were ruined, and community member Justin Donner’s Cottage Printworks equipment and t-shirts were destroyed.

We are thankful that we are able to help each other during this time of need, and we will continue to keep your informed about today’s events.

We have established funds to support the families who have lost their homes, the Yes! And… afterschool program, and the Simple Way community.

A fund to support the families has been established through a partner organization, EAPE. Tax-deductible donations can be made by click here. Please make sure to put “Kensington Families Fund” in the memo section.

Donations to the Rebuilding Fund can be made via PayPal to

faithful & thoughtful responses to war

Various theologians, biblical scholars, and ministers at On Faith engage the question of what the moral position is regarding Iraq. I am grateful especially for Marcus Borg's, Susan Brook Thistlethwaite's, and Randall Balmer's voices on this serious matter. Here are some excerpts from each:

From Marcus Borg:
Early Christian pacifism and later Christian just war teaching have something in common. Both seek to minimize Christian participation in war – the first by forbidding it, the second by limiting it to wars of self-defense. These are, according to Christian teaching, the only legitimate Christian positions.

I am dismayed that our country violated Christian teaching by launching a pre-emptive war – a war of choice, as it is often correctly called. And I am dismayed that a President who is a born-again Christian could have been so unaware of the history of Christian teaching and wisdom about this issue. It is a galling defect in his re-socialization as a Christian. It is also telling: much, indeed most, of Christian teaching for over a millennium has been focused on individual issues of right behavior and the fate of individuals, whether in this life or in life after death. Of course, individuals matter to the God of the Bible. But the God of the Bible and Jesus is also passionate about justice and peace – about our life together and our behavior together.

So as a country, we are involved in a war that is wrong and that never should have happened. Given that, what is the responsibility of Christians, of people who affirm that Jesus is our Lord? When one commits a wrong act, of course one is responsible for minimizing the consequences of that wrong act. So how should those of us who are Christian respond in this situation?

The first act should be confession – confession that as a nation, we were wrong to do this. Confession is about repentance – which means going beyond the mind that we have. Our national mind in the wake of 9/11 has been shaped and manipulated by fear – despite the fact that one of the most common affirmations in the Bible is “Fear not,” “Do not be afraid.”

The second act should be an appeal to the international community to help us out – to become involved in seeking to secure a stable Iraq. We were wrong – and we need your help. Whether other countries will be generous enough to do so is unclear.

From Susan Brook Thistlethewaite:

How can we as a nation, and certainly this administration that claims to take religion so seriously, have drastically underestimated the impact of religious differences on the post-Hussein Iraq, to say nothing of the impact on religious groups both inside and outside Iraq of an invasion by a so-called “Christian” country? Once again, instead of looking at Iraq with clear vision, we looked and saw what we wanted to see.

When the devil tempts Jesus in the wilderness, what is the temptation? The devil tempts Jesus with political conquest. “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory…’” Jesus, you may recall, said ‘no.’ The American people and their leaders didn’t have the wisdom to say no before.

Now’s the time. Our leaders and indeed the nation need to confess that we were tempted by “all power and authority” and we need to give it up. This act will permit others to enter in to a political and regional solution which is the way forward both morally and practically.

It won’t be easy since the trip back along the road to hell is rocky. But this I know and I tell you truly. The first step out of Iraq is to confess that it was a huge mistake. Admitting you were wrong is the first step anyone needs to take in order to make positive change. Ask yourself this: Why don’t our leaders know that?

From Randall Balmer:

At the core of the problem with our Iraq policy is that this putatively "Christian" president utterly ignored centuries of thought and writings in the Christian tradition about what does or does not constitute a "just war."

Is the use of force taken as the last resort? Is it a defensive war? Is there a reasonable chance of success? Is the amount of force roughly proportional to the provocation? Finally, and most important, have provisions been made, as much as possible, to shield civilians from being collateral damage?

Despite the labored efforts of such neoconservative theorists as Jean Bethke Elshtain and George Weigel, the invasion of Iraq meets none of these criteria. (Elshtain, for example, totally ignores such crucial bits of evidence as the Downing Street memorandum in constructing her justification for war in Iraq.)

Any military adventure begun under such deplorable circumstances and with such faulty justification will not turn out well -- as indeed it hasn't.

My prescription for a way out, I freely admit, is based on policy considerations, not necessarily a moral compass. My sense is that the best -- or, rather, the least damaging -- course would be to initiate a gradual pull out of U.S. forces, to be replaced by an international force. The United States would be morally obligated, in my judgment, to finance these forces as well as to pay reparations to the people of Iraq.

I suggest that we begin doing so by diverting some of the money now going to Halliburton.

Read further responses click here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

invisible scars

There's a profound set of videos on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on the Washington Post website. The images and voices attempts to draw attention to the invisible scars --- the men and women, children and families affected forever by the making of war.

From the Washington Post article:

Little Relief on Ward 53
At Walter Reed, Care for Soldiers Struggling With War's Mental Trauma Is Undermined by Doctor Shortages and Unfocused Methods
By Anne Hull and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers

Every month, 20 to 40 soldiers are evacuated from Iraq because of mental problems, according to the Army. Most are sent to Walter Reed along with other war-wounded. For amputees, the nation's top Army hospital offers state-of-the-art prosthetics and physical rehab programs, and soon, a new $10 million amputee center with a rappelling wall and virtual reality center.

Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war's amputees by 43 to 1. The Army has no PTSD center at Walter Reed, and its psychiatric treatment is weak compared with the best PTSD programs the government offers. Instead of receiving focused attention, soldiers with combat-stress disorders are mixed in with psych patients who have issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife.

Even though Walter Reed maintains the largest psychiatric department in the Army, it lacks enough psychiatrists and clinicians to properly treat the growing number of soldiers returning with combat stress. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry sent out an "SOS" memo desperately seeking more clinical help.

Let's pray that this horrible war is be brought to an end and that we may more fully live into the nonviolent vision of Jesus and Biblical prophets like Micah and Isaiah. May we beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks, may we no longer make war. May all those who have been wounded in body and mind be given the very best care and may the tools and money used for making war be used for healing and peace.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sacred River in Peril

During my junior year of college I traveled in India, Tibet and Nepal. While in Rishikesh, I took a dip in the Ganges River. The last city I visited in India was Benares, also called Varanasi. Benares is a tremendously beautiful and sacred place where the Ganges River fills regularly with pilgrims bathing and praying. India is where my life of faith and prayer began to be rekindled. I left for India cynical, bitter, and angry about religion (of all forms) and returned to the United States humbled, open, and seeking reconciliation with God and the religion (which best means to draw together) of my youth. Today, my heart and mind returned to India and to the great Ganges River when I read this story in the Washington Post. That article highlights how climate change as a result of our human irresponsibility and greed is endangering that beautiful river --- the source of drinking water and the site of religious practice for millions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The last few days have been filled with amazing conversations about the emergent/emerging church, new monasticism and intentional community. Ian Mobsby from the Moot Community in London has quickly become a good friend. Today Mary and I had the chance to meet Tony Jones from Emergent Village and Doug Pagitt from Solomon's Porch. Also, we got to spend some time connecting with Bay Area colleagues from many different faith expressions Presbyterians, Baptists, progressive evangelicals and Episcopalians. I'm looking forward to connecting more deeply with the emergent/emerging movement locally and globally. Fortunately, Mark Scandrette is a neighbor also living in San Francisco's Mission District. I'm looking forward to reading his book "Soul Graffiti" and Ian's book "Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church." We in the mainline church have much to learn from the emergent/emerging communities, creativity and authenticity in worship, nurturing commitment and community, cultivating relationships across theological and denominational lines, I feel like I could go on and on.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Joy & Wonder

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefforts Schori was recently a guest on Bill Moyers' Journal. This is the lengthiest and most in-depth interview I've seen so far. Great questions with strong, inspiring, courageous, and frank answers from Bishop Schori. Check this out.

There's more on Bishop Katharine here as well.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Saving Grace

Just found on the Integrity blog links to an interesting interview and cover story on the Archbishop of Canterbury in the European edition of Time. Check the two stories out here.

Prayer for the Church

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer pg. 280

Monday, June 04, 2007

Faith & Politics

We don't have cable but it is days like this that I sure wish we did. CNN broadcasted a Sojourner's discussion about faith, values, and poverty with three of the Democratic Presidential Candidates Obama, Clinton and Edwards. I'm hoping a webvideo of the event will be up soon. Here's a story about it.

Update: Friend and fellow blogger Helen Thompson found the web video link, click here to view.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Trinity Sunday

Today is Trinity Sunday --- a day in which Christians celebrate God as community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Source, Word, and Spirit. As someone who likes to dance, one way of considering God's life in community that I have found particularly meaningful is expressed in the Greek term perichoresis --- which literally means going around. In ancient and contemporary songs and poetry one can find Christians celebrating the Trinity's eternal dance which we are all called to join in. Here's just one song that comes to mind this morning,

Lord of the Dance

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
But they would not dance and they would not follow me;
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
They came to me and the dance went on.


I danced on the sabbath when I cured the lame,
The holy people said it was a shame;
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;
And they left me there on a cross to die.


I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black;
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back;
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone,
But I am the dance and I still go on.


They cut me down and I leapt up high,
I am the life that’ll never, never die;
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.