Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quote of the Day

Today the question is this: What is "justice" for Jamar Clark or Mike Brown or Eric Garner or Sandra Bland or Akai Gurley or Reika Boyd or thousands more who are simultaneously remembered but then ultimately reduced to a hashtag or protest rallying cry? Is it "justice" if officers are fired? Indicted? Convicted? Imprisoned?

And then what?

It is understandable the oppressed want the criminal legal system to apply the laws equally. Accountability, even for once. But the relentless movement demands for more prosecution and punishment serve only to reify the system that must itself be indicted. In the nearly two years since Ferguson, police killings of Black civilians in particular are unabated – 258 this year alone – with few indictments, fewer convictions and no satisfaction. And there have been endless hours and days and months of activist energy expended in reaction to and reinforcement of the system.

Why is the vision of "justice" so narrow and carceral – demanding arrest, trial and punishment for killer after killer after killer without cease?

Justice for Jamar and Mike and Eric and Sandra and Akai and Rekia and thousands would mean they are still alive. With as much love and solidarity and community support for them in the anonymity of everyday life as they have in the glare of death.

I’ll say it again: Stop asking for "justice" from the system that is killing us – Demand Abolition.

Then demand more.

– Nancy A. Heitzeg
Excerpted from "Criminal InJustice: 'Justice' ~ A Short Rant"
Critical Mass Progress
March 30, 2016

Witness: Jamar Clark Was "Absolutely Not Resisting"
– Reg Chapman (CBS Minnesota, March 31, 2016).

Rayann Hayes, Alleged Jamar Clark Victim, Speaks Out:
"I Wasn't Jamar Clark's Girlfriend,
and He Didn't Break My Ankle"

– Mike Mullen (City Pages, April 1, 2016).

An Open Letter to
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman:
Evidence in Jamar Clark Case
Does Not Exonerate Officers

– Crystal Yakacki (Star Tribune, April 2, 2016).

Surprised by Mike Freeman’s Lies?
Ok, Now What?

– Ryan Williams-Virden
(Form Follows Function, April 2, 2016).

Can Cry for Justice in Clark Case
Cut Through Decades of Mistrust?

– Jon Tevlin (Star Tribune, April 3, 2016).

Expert: DNA No "Truth Serum"
Despite Conclusion in Clark Shooting

– Cathy Wurzer and Riham Feshir
(MPR News, April 6, 2016).

Minneapolis Police: Internal Probe
Clears Cops in Jamar Clark Shooting

– MPR News Staff
(MPR News, October 21, 2016).

Related Off-site Links:
No Indictment for Officers Who Killed Jamar Clark – Kenrya Rankin (Color Lines, March 30, 2016).
Prosecutor Won't Charge Cops in Jamar Clark ShootingMPR News (March 30, 2016).
Protesters Take to the Streets After Jamar Clark DecisionMPR News (March 30, 2016).
Officer Involved in Jamar Clark's Death Sued for Excessive Force 10 Days Before Shooting – Ted Haller (Fox 9 News, November 29, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
An Update on #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Something to Think About – January 4, 2016
Something to Think About – December 29, 2015
Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Discerning and Embodying Sacred Presence in Times of Violence and Strife

I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the numerous acts of terror that are taking place in our world, the most recent being the terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan on Easter Sunday.

The Lahore attack by a suicide bomber killed at least 70 people, many of them children, and wounded as many as 300. One family lost 10 members.

A faction of the militant Taliban group known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the attack and a spokesperson for the group said they purposely targeted Christians. Most of those killed, however, were actually Muslim.

By one count, Lahore is the ninth city hit by violent extremism this month. As such it now joins the eight cities cited in the following meme.

Where is God in all of this?

On the day of the Lahore terrorist attack I shared an excerpt from Cynthia Bourgeault's book, The Wisdom Jesus. In part, this excerpt talks about how Christ profoundly permeates all creation.

One way I articulate my understanding of Christ is by saying that Christ is God's spirit of compassion and justice. It's a spirit that Jesus of Nazareth opened himself to and embodied so beautifully and completely that we refer to him as Jesus the Christ, or simply Jesus Christ.

Another way I articulate my understanding of Christ is by saying that Christ is a level of awareness, of consciousness. It's that type of consciousness that recognizes God, or Sacred Presence, within all things. It thus recognizes and calls us to live from an awareness of our intrinsic oneness with each other and creation, from an awareness of the connection between love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus not only embodied this type of awareness but invited people to follow him in this ongoing journey of such embodiment.

I like how John Sanford puts it in his book, The Kingdom Within: Jesus, he writes, "did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him. He called us to share in the new condition, to enter a new world, to incarnate the same Spirit he incarnated, to be one in the supramental Christ consciousness that alone can dispel the darkness of our minds and renew our lives."

This level of awareness that Jesus embodied – and calls each of us to embody – is often referred to as Christic or cosmic consciousness.

I know, I know . . . I'm getting a bit heady here. And you're no doubt wondering what any of this has to do with the tragic events in Lahore and elsewhere.

Well, I mention my previous post and share my thoughts on Christ because these very same thoughts, as important and meaningful as they are to me, can definitely be shaken and challenged by all the terrible happenings in our world.

I mean, how can Christ, God's spirit of compassion and justice, permeate all creation when violent atrocities such as those in Lahore, Brussels and Paris are taking place?

Where is God in these horrific attacks?

Well, I certainly don't believe such acts of violence are part of some mysterious plan of God's; that God somehow wills such things to take place. Instead, I've come to understand that these types of terrible things happen because of people, not because of God. They happen because people choose not to open themselves to and embody that sacred presence at their core; chose not to embark on the journey toward and into cosmic consciousness. They happen because people choose to reject the sacred within and beyond them and this sacred reality's intrinsic and life-affirming qualities of compassion and justice.

Yet in the midst of carnage and chaos God can be discerned whenever people embody the life-affirming qualities of the sacred. I was reminded of this when I read the following from Marina Koren's article in The Atlantic about the recent events in Lahore.

. . . Hundreds of citizens went to hospitals to donate blood to the victims of the attack, Reuters reported. Careem, a mobile app-based car service that operates in Pakistan, said it was offering free rides to those seeking to donate blood. Facebook activated its safety-check feature in Lahore, allowing users near the attack to notify friends and family about their safety.

It's responses like these that give me hope . . . and remind me that while ever there are people willing and hopeful and courageous enough to embody God in our world then God's loving and healing and transforming presence will be experienced.

For myself, I pray that I may always have the wherewithal and courage to be such an embodiment of Sacred Presence, especially in times of violence and strife. With this in mind I share the following prayer by William Cleary (with a slight modification on my part).

How utterly mysterious, Creator Spirit, is this existence you have placed us in. If we were to despair of understanding it at all, we could feel justified: conflict and tragedy, pain and death surround us but so does every kind of love, with beauty and wisdom in the makeup of every tree and star.

Astonishing evolutionary forces are measurably at work, and there is evidence of genuine altruism among humans. In addition, we find your own mysterious ways gracious and surprising. Be with us in making sense of it all, in keeping up our trust – against so many countersigns – that [we can be your loving and strengthening presence for ourselves and others in times of violence and strife].


Related Off-site Links:
A Most Violent Month: Terrorism Rocks the World – Robert Christian (Millennial, March 30, 2016).
A Year After Kenya College Massacre, Teachers Step In to Address the Counter-terror Vacuum – Charlotte Alfred (The World Report, March 31, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Questioning God's Benevolence in the Face of Tragedy
What We Can Learn from the Story of the Magi
Prayer of the Week – February 16, 2015

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Risen Jesus: Our Integral Ground

"Our whole universe is profoundly permeated
with the presence of Christ."

Cynthia Bourgeault is one of my favorite writers on spirituality, and I've actually shared the following previously at The Wild Reed. Yet what she says in this particular passage is so powerful and beautiful that I happily share it again today, Easter Sunday 2016. Enjoy! . . . and Happy Easter!

What Jesus so profoundly demonstrates to us in his passage from death to life is that the walls between the realms are paper thin. Along the entire ray of creation, the "mansions" are interpenetrating and mutually permeable by love. The death of our physical form is not the death of our individual personhood. Our personhood remains alive and well, "hidden with Christ in God" (to use Paul's beautiful phrase in Colossians 3:3) and here and now we can draw strength from it (and him) to live our temporal lives with all the fullness of eternity. If we can simply keep our hearts wrapped around this core point, the rest of the Christian path begins to fall into place.

Yes, his physical form no longer walks the planet. But if we take him at his word, that poses no disruption to intimacy if we merely learn to recognize him at that other level, just as he has modeled for his disciples during those first forty days of Eastertide.

Nor has that intimacy subsided in two thousand years – at least according to the testimony of a long lineage of Christian mystics, who in a single voice proclaim that our whole universe is profoundly permeated with the presence of Christ. He surrounds, fills, holds together from top to bottom this human sphere in which we dwell. The entire cosmos has become his body, so to speak, and the blood flowing through it is his love. . . . Jesus in his ascended state is not farther removed from human beings but more intimately connected with them. He is the integral ground, the ambient wholeness within which our contingent human lives are always rooted and from which we are always receiving the help we need to keep moving ahead on the difficult walk we have to walk here. When the eye of our own heart is open and aligned within this field of perception, we recognize whom we're walking with.

– Cynthia Bourgeault
Excerpted from The Wisdom Jesus

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Easter: The Celebration of the Sacrament of Transformation
The Two Entwined Events of the Easter Experience
Resurrection in an Emerging Universe
Resurrection: A New Depth of Consciousness
Easter Reflections
Easter Exultet
The Resurrected Jesus
Jesus: The Breakthrough in the History of Humanity
The Passion of Christ (Part 11) – Jesus Appears to Mary
The Passion of Christ (Part 12) – Jesus Appears to His Friends
The Triumph of Love: An Easter Reflection
A Girl Named Sara: A "Person of the Resurrection"
Resurrection: Beyond Words, Dogmas, and All Possible Theological Formulations
A Discerning Balance Between Holiness and Wholeness: A Hallmark of the Resurrected Life

Image: Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Unthinkable

We have all at times felt a frightening sensation of abandonment, and that which makes us most afraid of death is precisely this [abandonment]; just as when, as children, we were afraid to be alone in the dark and only the presence of a person who loves us could reassure us. So, it is exactly this that happened on Holy Saturday: in the empire of the dead there resounded the voice of God. The unthinkable happened: that Love penetrated “into hell” (negli inferi); that in the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes us and leads us out. The human being lives by the fact that he[/she] is loved and can love; and if Love even has penetrated into the realm of death, then Life has also arrived there. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone.

Pope Benedict XVI (2010)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Passion of Christ (Part 10) – Jesus Among the Dead
Within the Mystery, a Strange and Empty State of Suspension
When Love Entered Hell

Related Off-site Link:
Holy Saturday: From All I Am to All I Have Not Yet BecomeBondings 2.0 (March 26, 2016).

Images: Michael O'Brien. In commenting on the second image, O'Brien says: "In dying we are born to eternal life. Before the final death of our bodies, there are countless smaller 'deaths' that teach us, form us, prepare us. Part of our human nature welcomes this, part resists it. But we are assisted in this birth with help from above."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Something to Think About . . .

– Source: Lyndale UCC, Minneapolis, MN

Related Off-site Links:
Crucifixion Helps Make Meaning of Pain in Church and World – Jamie Manson (The National Catholic Reporter via The Progressive Catholic Voice, April 22, 2011).
Jesus' Radical Politics – Brandon Ambrosino (The Boston Globe via The Progressive Catholic Voice, April 1, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 1)
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 2)
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 3)

Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 3)

The Wild Reed's 2016 Holy Week series concludes today, Good Friday, with a third excerpt from Richard Horsley's 1993 book Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

There is no indication in the gospel tradition that Jesus saw any role for the ruling institutions of his society. In fact the evidence points in the other direction. Given the appearance of prophecies or a demonstration against the Temple at four different points in the gospel tradition, paralleled by solid traditions of his lament over the governing city and the parable told in judgment against the high-priestly rulers, it would appear that he did not simply condemn the present incumbents of those ruling institutions but rejected the institutions themselves. That is, Jesus rejected the institutions by which the priestly ruling class controlled and extracted its living from the vast majority of the people. There is certainly no indication that Jesus himself posed as a monarchic ruler, for the traditions that portray him as a "messianic" king can best be understood in terms of popular, not monarchic, kingship. In this it appears that he worked out of the central biblical traditions of a convenantal society without the special power and privileges that went with an institutionalized ruling class such as a monarchy or a high priesthood, for which there were also legitimating biblical traditions. The kingdom of God apparently had no need of either a mediating hierocracy or a temple system.

The social revolution that Jesus catalyzed in anticipation of the political revolution being effected by God also created a crisis and entailed a severe discipline. Response to the kingdom by some and rejection by others created divisions within families, often apparently between the generations. Other divisions provoked by the crisis or judgment that had come into the present situation with the coming of the kingdom of God constitute a prominent theme in Jesus' sayings and parables. Those too busy attending to their worldly security would find themselves excluded from the great banquet to which they had been invited. The wealthy would find it impossible to enter the kingdom. Judgment that had been thought to be in the future had suddenly come into the present, for people's future was being determined by the way they responded to Jesus and his offer of the kingdom. The woes Jesus pronounced on unresponsive Galilean villages indicate the seriousness with which collective as well as individual response was taken.

Response to the kingdom, moreover, required utter dedication, particularly for those called to leadership roles. "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). "Leave the dead to bury the dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:60 and Matthew 8:22). Of course, if such sayings are understood merely as radical ethics addressed to a few wandering charismatics, conceived of after the model of Cynic philosophers, then they can be dismissed as irrelevant for the vast majority of people and do not express a revolutionary ethos at all. But many of these "hard sayings" are clearly addressed to the people generally; and the "charismatics," quite unlike the Cynics, were catalysts of a broader movement based in the villages of Galilee.

It would be difficult to claim that Jesus was a pacifist. But he actively opposed violence, particularly institutionalized oppressive and repressive violence, and its effects on a subject people. Jesus was apparently a revolutionary, but not a violent political revolutionary. Convinced that God would put an end to the spiral of violence, however violently, Jesus preached and catalyzed a social revolution. In the presence of the kingdom of God he mediated God's liberation to a discouraged Jewish peasantry and offered some fundamental guidance for the renewal of the people. "Love your enemies" turns out to be not the apolitical pacific stance of one who stands above the turmoil of his day, nor a sober counsel of non-resistance to evil or oppression, but a revolutionary principle. It was a social revolutionary principle insofar as the love of enemies would transform local social-economic relations. In effect, however, it was also – even if somewhat indirectly – politically revolutionary. That is, when the people have achieved solidarity with regard to the basic values of life focused on concrete social-economic relations, it has usually been threatening to the ruling groups. The communities of Jesus' followers appear to have been such a threat.

– Richard A. Horsley
Excerpted from Jesus and the the Spiral of Violence:
Popular Resistance in Roman Palestine

pp. 325-326

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 1)
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 2)
The Most Dangerous Kind of Rebel
Palm Sunday: "A Planned Political Demonstration"
The "Incident" in the Temple
Blaming the Jews, Canonizing Pilate
The Passion of Christ (Part 7) – Jesus Goes to His Execution
The Passion of Christ (Part 8) – Jesus is Nailed the Cross
The Passion of Christ (Part 9) – Jesus Dies
Jesus and the Art of Letting Go
No Deeper Darkness
A Wretched Death, A Wretched Burial
A God With Whom It is Possible to Connect
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)
Why Jesus is My Man

Image: Juan Pablo Di Pace as Jesus in the 2015 NBC mini-series A.D.: The Bible Continues.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Snowy Spring Day

Notes the Star Tribune about yesterday's spring snowfall here in the Twin Cities of St. Paul-Minneapolis:

Several inches of snow were piling up Wednesday night in many locations around the southern Twin Cities, while many spots north saw nothing.

The National Weather Service says an estimated 12 inches of snow fell on Savage by early evening Wednesday, before it began to taper off in the south metro. Other reports include 9.5 inches of snow in Burnsville and 9 inches in Prior Lake.

By contrast, as of 7 p.m., 3.7 inches was recorded at the airport, with 3.2 inches at the Weather Service's office in Chanhassen.

In downtown Minneapolis, snow was swirling through the taller buildings late in the afternoon but failing to coat the streets and sidewalks below thanks to temperatures holding above freezing. It stopped downtown in the early evening, and the northern suburbs largely escaped the early spring reminder of Minnesota’s reputation.

By the time this snowstorm is over, up to 14 inches is possible in an area stretching from New Ulm to the southern Twin Cities to Bloomer, Wis.

“Winter is not giving up yet,” meteorologist Lisa Schmit said. “This is nothing record setting, but it’s one people should take note of.”

After a warm March and Tuesday’s highs in the upper 50s in the metro and southern Minnesota, the winter wallop might be a bit hard to stomach. The good news is that it’s March and the snow won’t last long, Schmit said.

“March typically delivers some of our biggest snowfalls,” Schmit said. “This looks to be the last one for the season.”

I live by Minnehaha Creek and its parkway and areas of urban wilderness. As you can see by these photos, the area around my home was transformed into a beautiful "winter wonderland."

At around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, I took a friend's two dogs for a walk. It was during this time walking through my neighborhood with Greta and Edison (left) that I snapped the photos I share in this post.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Spring Snow (2013)
Shadows and Light
Little Wood Lake
A Record High
Winter Storm
Winter Light
Gull Lake
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
A Springtime Prayer

Images: Michael Bayly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 2)

The Wild Reed's 2016 Holy Week series continues with a second excerpt from Richard Horsley's 1993 book Jesus and the Spiral of Violence. (For Part 1, click here.)

But before sharing this second excerpt, a few words about this idea of the "spiral of violence" which Horsley says Jesus opposed yet was nevertheless caught up in – to the extent that it ensured his brutal execution.

Horsley notes that in terms of both etymology and/or a basic sense of values, violence is related to the Latin violare, "to violate." He then shares a quote from R. M. Brown's Religion and Violence that supports this understanding: "Whatever 'violates' another, in the sense of infringing upon or disregarding or abusing or denying that other, whether physical harm is involved or not, can be understood as an act of violence. The basic overall definition of violence would then become violation of personhood."

After presenting and discussing this definition of violence, Horsley next draws from the work of the late Dom Hélder Câmara, Archbishop of Recife in northeastern Brazil, to identify a four-stage or -level "spiral of violence." The first stage is injustice, also known as structural or institutionalized violence. The second stage is protest and resistance to institutionalized injustice. The third stage involves the repression of protest and resistance by the established holders of power. This repression drives the spiral of violence to its fourth stage, that of revolt, where a large number of people will no longer passively bear the violence of injustice and/or repression. Horsley notes that revolt "is not necessarily violent, or it might involve minimal violence in the form of armed insurrection. . . . On the other side of the spectrum, popular revolts can be violent outbursts of long pent-up resentment against the oppressive ruling groups."

Archbishop Óscar Romero reminded us that if we denounce and condemn the violence at any one level of the spiral, we must also denounce and condemn the violence at all levels. Accordingly, one cannot criticize and condemn the violence of protest and resistance while ignoring the institutionalized violence that's being resisted and protested against.

With all this in mind, here is a second excerpt from Horsley's Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Resistance in Roman Palestine.

Jesus' actions and prophecies, especially those directed against the ruling institutions of his society, suggest that he was mounting a more serious opposition than a mere protest. It is certain that Jesus was executed as a rebel against the Roman order. Jesus' prophecies and actions, moreover, show that from the viewpoint of the rulers the crucifixion of Jesus was not a mistake. The charges brought against him, however apologetically handled by the gospel writers, were in effect true. He had definitely been stirring up the people. Herod Antipas was reportedly already hostile to Jesus, perhaps even plotting his arrest, simply because of the threatening effects of his healing activity; and, as can be seen in Jesus' insistence on local social-economic cooperation, his practice was far more comprehensive in social renewal than a few healing miracles. Jesus had almost certainly threatened the Temple. More particularly, he had pronounced God's judgment against the Temple and against the high-priestly rulers and the ruling city as well. It is unclear just how explicitly Jesus claimed to be or was acclaimed as a king; but from the viewpoint of the rulers, he clearly was a dangerous popular leader, and from the "messianic movements" of a generation earlier they were familiar with popularly acclaimed kings as a revolutionary threat. Finally, it is less certain but likely that Jesus had in effect taken the position not only that the people were "free" of illegitimate taxation by the Temple system, but that they were also not obligated to render up the Roman tribute, since all things being God's, nothing was really due to Caesar. Taken together, these sayings and prophecies begin to sound more systematically revolutionary than an unrelated set of incidental sayings juxtaposed with a protest or two.

Although it begins to appear that Jesus and his movement were engaged not simply in resistance but in a more serious revolt of some sort against the established order in Palestine, there is no evidence that Jesus himself advocated, let alone organized, the kind of armed rebellion that would have been necessary to free society from the military-political power of the Roman empire. The solution to this apparent contradiction lies in taking more seriously than we have the social ambiance in which Jesus was working. Jesus was engaged in direct manifestations of God's kingdom in his practice and preaching, and he was confident that God was imminently to complete the restoration of Israel and judge the institutions that maintained injustice. the power of Satan had been broken. According to the apocalyptic way of understanding reality, in which events could be happening on three levels simultaneously (the spiritual, the social-historical, and the personal), so that happenings on one level constituted evidence for happenings on the other levels, the implications were obvious for the historical situation.

Perhaps because the apocalyptic orientation is so foreign to our own modern "scientific" view of reality, we have tended to ignore or often actually "demythologize" the perspective in which Jesus and his followers were thinking and acting. For us, the fact that Jesus himself did not advocate or engage in violent actions becomes evidence that he had no relationship with any sort of violent response to the violence and oppression he opposed. . . . In order to understand adequately what Jesus . . . [was] saying and doing, we must take seriously what [he] understood God to be doing, for [he] understood [his] activities as part of God's action in history. At least since the time of the visions in the book of Daniel many Jews had believed that God was soon to judge the oppressive imperial regimes and give dominion to the people, as well as vindicate the martyrs who had meanwhile died for the faith. Jesus apparently shared this perspective, only he was convinced that God had already inaugurated the time of renewal and fulfillment. Jesus' prophecies and other sayings do not elaborate much on the violent character of God's judgment. But that component of the overall perspective is clearly present in his preaching. God was effecting the revolution that would end the spiral of violence as well as liberate and renew Israel and, assuming Jesus was cognizant of the promise to Abraham, through Israel bring salvation to the nations.

– Richard A. Horsley
Excerpted from Jesus and the the Spiral of Violence:
Popular Resistance in Roman Palestine

pp. 320-322

NEXT: Part 3

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
Jesus and Social Revolution (Part 1)
Palm Sunday: "A Planned Political Demonstration"
The Most Dangerous Kind of Rebel
A Wretched Death, A Wretched Burial
No Other Way
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)
Jesus Was a Sissy
Why Jesus is My Man

Related Off-site Link:
The Subversive Politics of Palm Sunday – Adam Ericksen (Patheos, March 19, 2016).

Images: Juan Pablo Di Pace as Jesus in the 2015 NBC mini-series A.D.: The Bible Continues.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Moon Over Minneapolis

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – May 8, 2010
Photo of the Day – April 23, 2010
Mill City
Return to Mill City

Quote of the Day

Our hearts today are full of grief, but tomorrow let them not be full of hate. That is what terror demands, and we shall not give it that victory. If it is our way of life they seek to destroy, let us respond instead by standing stronger and taller still, uncowed by these acts from Paris to Ankara to Brussels, unshaken by their cowardice and hatred. Let us remember that good people, of all faiths and nations, suffer from extremist terror and religious violence. We must be united in both our compassion and our resolve. There will be those who seek to exploit this bloodshed to their own aims and ambitions, doubling down on their rhetoric and politics of fear and division. Our mettle as freedom-loving people shall be sorely tested by these attacks. Whatever we do next, let it be without haste, without hatred. That is a difficult thing to ask, a very tough and narrow path to tread, but it is the only way through.

George Takei
via Facebook
March 22, 2016

Related Off-site Links
Deadly Explosions Rock Brussels Airport and Subway Killing at Least 34 People – Alana Horowitz Satlin and Eline Gordts (The Huffington Post, March 22, 2016).
ISIS Claims Responsibility for Brussels Attacks "in Revenge for Belgium's Role Fighting Militants in Syria and Iraq" – Lizzie Dearden (The Independent, March 22, 2016).
The Brussels Attacks: Our Pain and Rage Are Immense, But We Need Reason and Understanding More Than Ever – Frank Barat (Films for Action, March 22, 2016).
Our Response to the Brussels Bombings Requires Patience and Restraint – Simon Jenkins (The Guardian via Common Dreams, March 22, 2016).
Brussels Bombings Draw Wide Range of Reactions From Political Leaders – Alan Jude Ryland (Second Nexus, March 22, 2016).
Here's How Not to Respond to the Brussels Attacks – Ken Gude (The Guardian, March 22, 2016).
As Twin Attacks Kill at Least 34 in Brussels, How Should Belgium and Europe Respond?Democracy Now! (March 22, 2016).
After Brussels Attack, Will Response Be More War or a Look at the Root Causes of Terrorism?Democracy Now! (March 23, 2016).
Days Before Brussels, There Were Two Devastating Terror Attacks the Media Ignored – Amanda Girard (U.S. Uncut, March 22, 2016).
Why is the American Media Mostly Ignoring Two Other Terror Attacks That Happened This Month? – Nidhi Prakash (Fusion, March 22, 2016).
Terrorism and Failed States: High Price for the 2003 Iraq War – Mohamed Hemish (teleSUR, March 20, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Wake of the Paris Attacks, Saying 'No' to War, Racism and Islamophobia
Saying 'No' to Endless U.S. Wars
Europe 2005: Part 2 – Bruges and Brussels

Image: A woman places candles in the shape of a heart outside the stock exchange in Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. At least 34 people were reported dead. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Saying "No" to Endless U.S. Wars

Last Saturday I participated in a rally and march in south Minneapolis that commemorated and mourned the thirteenth anniversary of the "shock and awe" start of the U.S. war in Iraq – a war both illegal and illegitimate and which has claimed the lives of at least 165,000 civilians. (For The Wild Reed's commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, click here.)

It's a war that actually continues to this day. The Obama administration, for instance, has sent over 4,000 troops to Iraq and is carrying out daily bombing missions both there and in Syria. The U.S. war in Afghanistan also continues, and the U.S. military has launched ongoing strikes in Libya, Yemen and Somalia. With all this in mind, the key message of Saturday's rally, one initiated by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, was "Say No to Endless War."

Right: With my friend Marie Braun – Mayday Plaza on Minneapolis' West Bank, Saturday, March 19, 2016. Marie is a longtime justice and peace advocate and member of the Twin Cities based Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).

I share this evening some of the photos I took on Saturday, along with an informative piece by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf on the Obama administration's drone program, a program that plays a significant role in the endless wars of the U.S. (You may recall that last September I participated in a vigil against weaponized drones at Camp Ripley, MN. For images and information about this vigil and the issue of weaponized drones, click here.)

Following is an excerpt from Conor Friedersdorf's article, "The Obama Administration's Drone-Strike Dissembling."

The notion that the Obama Administration has carried out drone strikes only when there is “near-certainty of no collateral damage” is easily disproved propaganda. America hasn’t killed a handful of innocents or a few dozen in the last 8 years. Credible, independent attempts to determine how many civilians the Obama administration has killed arrived at numbers in the hundreds or low thousands. And there is good reason to believe that they undercount the civilians killed.

Why the disparity between what American officials claim and what others report? The New York Times provided a first clue back in 2012, when it reported that the U.S. “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” The same sort of dishonest standard was described last year when a whistleblower provided The Intercept with a cache of documents detailing the U.S. military’s drone killings in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. One campaign, Operation Haymaker, took place in northeastern Afghanistan.

“Between January 2012 and February 2013,” The Intercept reported, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.” That’s one campaign of many in just one country where drone killings happen.

Said the source of the documents: “Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association. When a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. . . . So it’s a phenomenal gamble.”

To read Conor Friedersdorf's article in its entirety, click here.

Above: Saturday's anti-war rally and march took place in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of south Minneapolis. This was actually the first neighborhood I lived in when I came to the U.S. from Australia twenty-two years ago. Today it's home to one of the largest Somalian communities in the country and, accordingly, is nicknamed Little Mogadishu.

Above: My friend Sarah Martin at Saturday's rally.

Above: My friend John Braun, husband of Marie (pictured with me earlier in this post).

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Will Presidential Candidates Turn "Shock and Awe" into Truth and Reconciliation? – Stacy Bannerman (Common Dreams, March 20, 2016).
After Invading Iraq 13 Years Ago the U.S. is Still Making the Same Mistakes – Trevor Timm (The Guardian via Common Dreams, March 22, 2016).
Bernie Sanders Opposes Perpetual War. Trump and Clinton Could Usher Another Military Draft – H. A. Goodman (The Huffington Post, December 28, 2015).
Uncontrollable – Pentagon and Corporate Contractors Too Big to Audit – Ralph Nader (Common Dreams, March 17, 2016).
Revelation of Secret U.S. Iraq Base Belies Claim of '"No Boots on the Ground" – Nika Knight (Common Dreams, March 22, 2016).
No Doubt About It – We’re Back in a Ground War in Iraq – David French (National Review, March 21, 2016).
Obama, the "Drone President": Rhetoric Versus the Atrocious Facts – Donald Kaufman (, March 15, 2016).
Russia is Withdrawing from Syria — and the U.S. Should Follow Suit – Phyllis Bennis (Foreign Policy in Focus, March 14, 2016).
Top U.S. General Recommends More Troops for Iraq and Syria – Jamie Crawford (CNN, March 8, 2016).
U.S. Intervention in Libya Now Seen as Cautionary Tale – Paul Richter and Christi Parsons (The Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2014).
Terrorism and Failed States: High Price for the 2003 Iraq War – Mohamed Hemish (teleSUR, March 20, 2016).
Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War – Marjorie Cohn (AlterNet, July 31, 2008).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Wake of the Paris Attacks, Saying 'No' to War, Racism and Islamophobia
Vigiling Against Weaponized Drones
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2015
Something to Think About – June 18, 2014
The Tenth Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jesus and Social Revolution

This year for Holy Week I'll be sharing three excerpts from that part of Richard Horsley's 1993 book Jesus and the Spiral of Violence that looks at Jesus and social revolution. (You may recall that I referred to this book when in 2009 I wrote about the range of theological opinion on Jesus' disruptive action in the Temple.)

This first excerpt today, Palm Sunday, focuses on understanding Jesus and violence by examining the ways Jesus actively opposed violence in a social-historical setting that was, Horsley reminds us, "permeated with violence."

I should just take a moment and say that I've intentionally chosen this topic and book as I'm very aware of how, for so many people today, violence permeates their social-historical setting and thus their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and their communities. I don't know about you, but I can often find myself overwhelmed by the violence and injustice in our world; by the extremism and hard-heartedness that so many chose to allow to motivate and direct their actions; by the ongoing wars and environmental destruction and mindless consumerism.

How does one respond to all of these things in ways that are hopeful, life-giving, and true to our authentic humanness, one that at its core has a divine spark? How do we turn things around – for ourselves and for society? How do we individually and collectively evolve beyond the levels of greed and violence and destruction we're witnessing in our world today? I have no easy answers. I just know that as a follower of the way of Jesus I feel called to discover and learn as much as I can about how he responded to the violence and injustice of his time. Horsley's book is one helpful resource in this endeavor. I hope you similarly find the excerpts I share as part of this Holy Week series to be both meaningful and helpful.

The social-historical situation in which Jesus lived was permeated with violence. We can thus take a step toward a more adequate understanding of Jesus and violence by noting that Jesus, while not necessarily a pacifist, actively opposed violence, both oppressive and repressive, both political-economic and spiritual. He consistently criticized and resisted the oppressive established political-economic-religious order of his own society. Moreover, he aggressively intervened to mitigate or undo the effects of institutionalized violence, whether in particular acts of forgiveness and exorcism or in the general opening of the kingdom of God to the poor. Jesus opposed violence, but not from a distance. He did not attempt to avoid violence in search of a peaceable existence. He rather entered actively into the situation of violence, and even exacerbated the conflict. Driving out the demons involved convulsions for the possessed, and the preaching and practice of the kingdom generally brought not "peace" but "a sword." Jesus and his followers were prepared to suffer violence themselves and to allow their friends to be tortured and killed for their insistence on the rule of God.

Toward a more precise sense of Jesus; opposition to and involvement with violence we can examine where his preaching and practice are situated in the spiral of violence in Jewish Palestine. Some fragments of the gospel tradition, such as the multiply attested saying about taking up one's cross and following him, suggest that the opposition of Jesus and his followers to the system was sufficiently serious that they were likely to be executed as rebels. However, the saying linked with taking up one's cross in Mark 8:35 ("Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it") suggests that Jesus and his followers understood their opposition in terms of a protest or resistance for which the individuals would be vindicated by God, but not in terms of its being a series revolt. Saying such as these make Jesus' ministry and the actions of his followers appear similar to the protests led by the scholars in both 4 B.C.E. and 6 B.C.E., in which part of the motivation to protest against the forms of domination or exploitation was the participants' expectation that they would be vindicated by a future resurrection.

– Richard A. Horsley
Excerpted from Jesus and the the Spiral of Violence:
Popular Resistance in Roman Palestine

pp. 319-320

NEXT: Part 2

For The Wild Reed's 2015 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from Cletus Wessels' book Jesus in the New Universe Story), see:
The Two Entwined Events of the Easter Experience
Resurrection in an Emerging Universe
Resurrection: A New Depth of Consciousness

For The Wild Reed's 2014 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from John Neafsey's book A Sacred Voice is Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience), see:
"To Die and So to Grow"
The Way of the Wounded Warrior
Suffering and Redemption
A God With Whom It is Possible to Connect
A Discerning Balance Between Holiness and Wholeness: A Hallmark of the Resurrected Life

For The Wild Reed's 2013 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from Albert Nolan’s book Jesus Before Christianity, accompanied by images of Jesus that some might call "unconventional"), see:
Jesus: The Upside-down Messiah
Jesus: Mystic and Prophet
Jesus and the Art of Letting Go
Within the Mystery, a Strange and Empty State of Suspension
Jesus: The Revelation of Oneness

For The Wild Reed's 2012 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from Cynthia Bourgeault's book The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – A New Perspective on Christ and His Message), see:
The Passion: "A Sacred Path of Liberation"
Beyond Anger and Guilt
Judas and Peter
No Deeper Darkness
When Love Entered Hell
The Resurrected Jesus . . .

For The Wild Reed's 2011 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from Albert Nolan’s book Jesus Before Christianity, accompanied by images of various cinematic depictions of Jesus), see:
"Who Is This Man?"
A Uniquely Liberated Man
An Expression of Human Solidarity
No Other Way
Two Betrayals
And What of Resurrection?
Jesus: The Breakthrough in the History of Humanity
To Believe in Jesus

For The Wild Reed’s 2010 Holy Week series (featuring excerpts from Andrew Harvey’s book Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ), see:
Jesus: Path-Blazer of Radical Transformation
The Essential Christ
One Symbolic Iconoclastic Act
One Overwhelming Fire of Love
The Most Dangerous Kind of Rebel
Resurrection: Beyond Words, Dogmas and All Possible Theological Formulations
The Cosmic Christ: Brother, Lover, Friend, Divine and Tender Guide

For The Wild Reed’s 2009 Holy Week series (featuring the artwork of Doug Blanchard and the writings of Marcus Borg, James and Evelyn Whitehead, John Dominic Crossan, Andrew Harvey, Francis Webb, Dianna Ortiz, Uta Ranke-Heinemann and Paula Fredriksen), see:
The Passion of Christ (Part 1) – Jesus Enters the City
The Passion of Christ (Part 2) – Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers
The Passion of Christ (Part 3) – Last Supper
The Passion of Christ (Part 4) – Jesus Prays Alone
The Passion of Christ (Part 5) – Jesus Before the People
The Passion of Christ (Part 6) – Jesus Before the Soldiers
The Passion of Christ (Part 7) – Jesus Goes to His Execution
The Passion of Christ (Part 8) – Jesus is Nailed the Cross
The Passion of Christ (Part 9) – Jesus Dies
The Passion of Christ (Part 10) – Jesus Among the Dead
The Passion of Christ (Part 11) – Jesus Appears to Mary
The Passion of Christ (Part 12) – Jesus Appears to His Friends

Opening image:
Juan Pablo Di Pace as Jesus in the 2015 NBC mini-series A.D.: The Bible Continues.