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Archive for July, 2010

HIM

Australian photographer Peter Lik’s work rises to the level of the finest of fine art.
Outsiders can see the beauty and wonders of a country with more clarity and appreciation that the insiders of a country, and Peter truly appreciates the beauty and wonders of America.
Check out his wonderful photographic tribute to America the beautiful via this four-minute video “100 Miles from Nowhere.”
He’s something of an extreme wonder himself, BTW. A real Aussie character.

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TOM ROBBINS: BEWARE THE 'KILLER B's'

From the certifiably crazy but incisive novelist Tom Robbins’ Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates:

“I’m on the run from the Killer B’s. B for belief. B for belonging. The B’s that lead to most of the killing in the world. If you don’t Belong among us, then you’re inferior, or our enemy, or both, and you can’t Belong with us unless you Believe what We Believe. Maybe not even then, but it certainly helps. Our religion, our party, our tribe, our town, our school, our race, our nation. Believe. Belong. Behave. Or be damned.”

U.S. REP JEANNETTE RANKIN

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
—- Jeannette Rankin, a pacifist who was the first woman elected to U.S. Congress

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From Agnes Sanford’s The Healing Light:
“The body is not hard, solid matter, but is made up of specks of energy . . . the body is full of light that lives by the healing light of God. Healing is facilitated by our awareness and alignment with this ever-present healing light.

“In awakening to our deepest self, the divine within, we find the wholeness that brings spiritual healing even when a cure is not possible.”
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From Jim Wallis’s book Faith Works:
“He [David] doesn’t have it all figured out before he acts. It’s his commitment to act that puts him in a position where he really has to use his intelligence to figure out how to do it. He’s motivated. . . . He was faithful enough to trust his own spirit. (We’re always tempted to defer to other people’s experience and perspective.) He was a shepherd, not a warrior, an outsider to battle. As such he saw resources others did not see, and devised a strategy that others did not devise.”

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From poet Archibald MacLeish:
“It’s from the ash heap God is seen.”

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From North Carolina preacher Ken Sehested’s article “Travelers Together”, May-June 2004 edition of the now defunct “The Other Side”:
“Being present on the margins, where life is coming apart, provides a clarity about God’s purposes that is not available anywhere else. It teaches us about our own spiritual poverty; it directs us to an affirmation of hope strong enough to endure despair; it steels our weak knees and timid hearts in the midst of our adversity.”

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Hers is one of the faces and stories you’ll find at The Forgiveness Project.

(Photography by Dubi Roman)
Riham Musa is a law student living in Tulkarm in the West Bank. At the age of 15, she was shot in the stomach by an Israeli soldier as she approached a checkpoint armed with a kitchen knife.
One day, when I was 15, I started chatting to a group of friends about the occupation and about suicide bombings. We all agreed with suicide bombings as a means of resistance, but none of the others would ever have done it. However, I told my friends that I was thinking of becoming a suicide bomber. I was feeling desperate. The life we were living, the economic situation, our education – it was all terrible; we would often be prevented from getting to school for days at a time. All around me I saw young people getting killed. Our whole lives were ruled by the Intifada. It was a culture of violence and there was no escaping it. We tried to find something else to talk about, but there wasn’t anything. How can girls get together in Tulkarm and talk about make-up and fashion?
It was a Thursday, the day when we always visited the family graves, and so I went to visit my father’s grave for what I thought would be the last time. The discussion about suicide bombings had stayed in my mind all day, and when I got home I took the only weapon available to me –a kitchen knife – and went down to the checkpoint without telling anyone. I had a feeling that I was superwoman, that I could kill all the soldiers at the checkpoint without doing any harm to myself. Even though I was a little girl, I felt more powerful than the soldiers because I was the person with right on my side.
But when I actually got to the checkpoint, I was suddenly very afraid. I couldn’t go through with it and just stood there frozen to the spot. The soldiers saw me standing there, staring at them. They thought I was a suicide bomber and started screaming at me. Then they started shooting. One of the bullets hit me in the stomach and I collapsed. I lay on ground for four-and-a-half hours as they checked for bombs. Once they realised there were no bombs on or around me, I was taken to the nearest hospital before being sent to prison. After ten months I was released on health grounds, and because I was young and hadn’t actually threatened anyone with the knife.
I was worried about going back to school because it’s not acceptable for women to be involved in violent action. But in the end it wasn’t so bad, and in fact I started doing better in school than before. I felt as though studying was my way out of this misery, and I chose to study law as a more effective way of defending the Palestinian people.
I believe violence breeds violence and there’s no choice now for me other than to find another way. When I decided to use violence by taking the knife to the checkpoint, even though I didn’t use it, I brought violence upon myself. I now want to use the law and not weapons to fight the enemy. This feels like the right path.
I still hate the Israeli army but I don’t feel violent towards them anymore. I’m a forgiving person and it’s not in my nature to hate people; but because of the way we live in the West Bank, hatred has been forced upon me. There’s no point engaging with the military because for them non-violence can never work, but with ordinary Israeli citizens I’ll use non-violence as a way forward. The citizens of each country have gone through much suffering, and this suffering unites us.
It‘s not easy to talk of forgiveness in the midst of violent conflict, and forgiveness is not just mine to give. There are many repercussions, and it is not for me to forgive my mother’s tears.

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Good, old-fashioned American ingenuity still thrives.
What a great country!

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A really cool video, and the icing on the cake is Alexandra Burke singing Leonard Cohen’s fabulous “Hallelujah.”
Video lifted from the Facebook of my friend and sister in ordained ministry, former chaplain, Unitarian Church pastoral caregiver, artist, photographer, all-around creative mind, Atlanta Dixie Chick, transplanted Texan and Dallasite, cool chick Charlise Hill Larson.
Yes, you’re life will never been the same, Charlise.
You been jitterbugged.

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I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
— Jesus Christ, Jn. 10: 10
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“I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
— Saint Paul, Phil. 4: 11-13

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Quotes culled from the book Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective

“Here [in the West] you have a different kind of poverty—a poverty of the spirit, of loneliness, of being unwanted, and that is the worst disease in the world today, not tuberculosis or leprosy.”

— Mother Theresa
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“A man is rich according to the things he can afford to let alone.”
— Thoreau

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“We are people called to live toward God’s vision of reconciliation through Christ Jesus. This reconciled world, or ‘new heaven and earth,’ includes . . . a creation where diversity is celebrated as a gift, rather than resisted and destroyed; where loving relationships are supremely valued and the resources of the world are shared equitably and justly; where all persons know their worth and value as children of God and who seek the well-being of God’s creation above their own greed.

“It is a world where we live out of a theology of ‘enough’ . . . a theology that allows us to move away from the gods of consumption and material need. In living out a theology of enough we will no longer expend our physical resources in consumption and our emotional resources in worrying over status. Our security and sense of well-being will be defined in relationship to God, not by our possession.

“While Christ does not seek for any of us to be without basic necessities, a simplified life will move us away from the expectations and injustices of affluent living. Abudant living is a life of greater simplicity, of more responsible use of resources and of a deeper faith.”

— From the United Methodist Church’s 1996 statement “God’s Vision of Abundant Living”

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“Perhaps for affluent Christians the deepest level of response to the awareness of limits is the recognition that we cannot free ourselves of guilt. We are caught in a destructive system, and we find that even our will to refuse to identify with that system is mixed with the desire to enjoy its fruits. None of us is innocent, either in intention or behavior. At most we ask that we may be helped to open ourselves to re-creation by God, but we also depend on grace in another sense. It is only because we know ourselves accepted in our sinfulness that we can laugh at our own pretenses, live with a measure of joy in the midst of our halfheartedness, and risk transformation into a new creation.”
— United Methodist theologian John B. Cobb Jr.

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Being the hopeless news junkie that I am I’ve always read papers from other countries for their perspectives. Papers like the very good China Daily–which I used to read occasionally before I ever thought about making the trek I’m making across China in September.

China Daily has good columnists like the one who wrote the following about American military exercises and American military might.

Joint naval drill only benefits militaries
By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
The massive joint military drill by the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), which began Sunday in the Sea of Japan, is intended to show off its mighty power.
But that is simply to state the obvious. No one today doubts that the US, whose defense spending accounts for half of the world’s total, is superior militarily than any other country on earth.
The US and the ROK have sent about 20 ships, 200 aircraft and 8,000 sailors and airmen to the Sea of Japan. These drills plan to display a fleet of F-22 fighters and the USS George Washington, a 97,000-tonnage nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that is one of the largest in the US navy.
The US, by time and again reminding other countries of how inferior their militaries are and how afraid they must feel, has only encouraged them to increase, not decrease, their military build-up.
The US always says it feels uneasy about China’s growing military spending, but it does not seem to realize that such a large and prolonged drill, which US officials say might move to the Yellow Sea in the coming months, could be one of the main reasons why China makes a strong argument for the modernization of its military.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the primary target of the ongoing military exercise, is also unlikely to back down in the face of the American power display, as anyone who understands its rationale can tell.
That will make it far more difficult to find a solution to the DPRK’s worrisome nuclear program. The Six-Party Talks, which involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia, is also less likely to resume under such escalated tension.
For anyone who finds it hard to understand why the Chinese should be uneasy, angry or even threatened by the drill, think of this: What will Americans feel if the Chinese or Russian military travel across the ocean to hold their exercises in the high seas not far from the coast of Florida, New York or California?
While some claim that the ongoing war game, with the codename “Invincible Spirit”, is intended to preserve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, it is exactly the opposite. Military drill as a show of hostility instead of hospitality destroys the basis for trust, dialogue and cooperation. It will only make the issues in the Korean Peninsula even more complicated.
Such a drill is bad news for the peoples in every country involved because it wastes money at a time of great financial difficulty. However, it is great news for the military.
Facing huge budget cuts in the coming years due to a federal deficit reduction plan, the US military leaders would still hope to find an excuse to justify its colossal spending. Military expenditure even now makes up about 5 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP).
To justify its monstrous budget plan, the US military needs to convince the Congress that there are still threats to American interests everywhere in the world. Otherwise, the Congress is unlikely to approve the appropriation of the colossal amount, especially when the US federal deficit exceeds $1.4 trillion.
I have heard the same kind of military rhetoric, of “threat everywhere”, during my visit to Camp Smith, the US Pacific Command based in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the 1990s. A top military officer who described the Chinese military threat in the South China Sea was arguing even then for a stepped-up US naval presence.
It is no wonder that the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to play up China’s threat in the South China Sea last week. She just proved herself to be yet another lobbyist for the US military by employing the same old trick.
Sino-US relations have become stronger in the last decades. Please do not let the militaries hijack those ties.

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