Thursday, 9 November 2006 the church?

In the church we pretend we are perfect, and that is the problem.

This was confirmed last week:
"People may look at me and think what I've done is immoral, but I think I had to do the moral thing in my mind and that is expose someone who is preaching one thing and doing the opposite behind everybody's back."

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Can't vote? Send poetry!

I couldn't vote today. I failed to register in my new town on time. But I did do one thing today. I submitted a second poem to Poets Against War. In 2004 I published a poem on their site, "poinsettias and flags." I'll let you know when my latest one has been published. 

Be sure to check out Howard Zinn's articel in the Poets Against War Fall 2006 Newsletter. Zinn writes:
Whenever I become discouraged (which is on alternate Tuesdays, between three and four) I lift my spirits by remembering: the writers are on our side! I mean those poets, novelists, playwrights and songwriters who speak to the world in a way that is impervious to assault because they wage the battle for justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse.
In related news, I have had two poems accepted for publication this week. One in DreamSeeker Magazine and another in Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry. Watch this blog for the announcement of their publication in the coming months. Five more poems are pending with another, and larger magazine, and could take several months for a decission.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Going to the Mennonites

When my wife told her parents where I'm going this weekend, she said "He's going to the Mennonites," with more than a little bit of sarcasm. This is true, and it's not. I've told her several times that I'm not going to convert, that the Mennonite/s Writing conference is not about religion, but culture. And besides, I can't convert to something I already am. 

Yes, I am a Mennonite. I echo the words of one Brethren founder Alexander Mack when he says, "We are in complete agreement with them as to their doctrine." Although I am not a member of the Mennonite Church, I hold their confessions (herehere and here) as my own, with the exception of rituals and ordinances. I prefer the Brethren love feast, baptism, annointing, etc... I appreciate the more ecumenical view of the Brethren, because I think that Christians are more similar than we want to admit, and I believe that the Brethren should join the Mennonite World Conference. As an Anabaptist, I am theologically very close to Mennonites, but not completely there at the same time. Culturally I am certainly Mennonite, as a large part of my ancestory since 1525 has been from Mennonite circles. The Millers were Mennonites from very early on. Many of them married into the Wine family, which joined the Brethren in the mid 1700s. 

I do not say 'I am a Mennonite, but really Brethren.' Instead, 'I am Mennonite and Brethren.' Culturally and religiously. Or, I could say I am a Brethren Mennonite (not Mennonite Brethren: that's a Mennonite denomination from Russia that migrated to Canada and the US in the first half of the twentieth century). In this postmodern world, we can say we are Mennonite/s: religiously, culturally, ethicallyin the same boat as earlier and contemporary Anabaptists, but one pariticular 'school' or 'movement' among many other Mennonite groups.

One professor here at Bethany said to another student that we should go with our theopoetics hat on. I don't know a lot about theopoetics, and athough it seems intriguing, it feels a little too religious to me, like baptisting Mennonite writing when perhaps it should not be. Instead, I think it should be allowed to be what it is--literature and art that reflects one's experiences within the Anabaptist community, religious or not, for better or worse. While I admit that it is difficult not to baptize it, I think it would be difficult for some at the conference to swallow (but I expect others there would gladly do this, because it seems all too easy and tempting, and comforting to us seminarians. But most at the conference, I assume, will have literature degrees rather than ones in theology). I think that it can be legitimate exercise to 'de-profane' Mennonite writing, but perhaps we must first see it in its profane (secular) sense, as it stands, before we try to spin our religion onto it. Or we can interpret it with our religion scholar glasses on, but should be extra careful to not put it into theology. I don't know. This is tricky to define, the lines blur very easily. Perhaps this is why many Mennonite writers are hesitant to call themselves Mennonite writers. 

I had hoped to blog the conference, but as I don't own a laptop, I may try to find a computer lab on campus I can use, or just take notes and blog them after the weekend is over. In any event, I'll have more to say about this within the next week or so, so stay tuned. 

Monday, 23 October 2006

Ground zero construction continues, possibly on top of undiscovered remains

The AP reports:
Searchers who have yet to unearth more than half the underground sites apparently overlooked during the initial excavation of ground zero have uncovered more than 100 pieces of human remains believed to belong to Sept. 11 victims....ranging from tiny fragments to recognizable bones from skulls, torsos, feet and hands — some as large as whole arm and leg bones.

Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, who is overseeing the recovery effort, said officials had identified additional manholes and utility cavities at the World Trade Center site that need to be examined.

The team of searchers expects to burrow into at least 12 subterranean areas in coming days. About five have been excavated.
...some below-ground cavities that had been used for utility and infrastructure purposes were paved over without being searched for remains.
...Skyler said the city will focus on finding remains before it reviews how the initial search was handled. He said construction at ground zero did not need to be halted to accommodate the search, but that officials would address the need if it arises.

Some Sept. 11 families, however, called for the rebuilding to stop until the recovery is finished.

"Their actions say remains are not a priority, they're secondary to the rebuilding," said Charles Wolf, who lost his wife and has never received any of her identified remains. "This is bringing up all the gnawing, gut-wrenching stuff inside us again."

I remember the hasty calls to normalcy, and the rush to design and start a new structure on the site. I thought it was too soon then, and this shows that it was. Why do we have to get everything back to 'normal' while remains are still out there to be found, when they haven't even looked everywhere they could have, but just paved over places before searching them? I thought it was disrepectful to leave the bodies of the deceased to decay in the elements. It seems that some in New York City don't agree.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Sermon: Every time the world ends

I just preached this sermon this morning at Richmond Church of the Brethren.

Revelation 21:1-422:1-5
John 21:1-25

In the book of Revelation, the poet/narrator is guided around by an angel to see the sights and visions of what the world will look like at the end of times. Whether we are comfortable with these images or not, I think we can all find some hope in what Revelation tells us of the days after God has finally vanquished the spiritual forces of Death, and there is peace in heaven and, more importantly, on earth.

The old heaven and earth, we are told, pass away. But that is not the end of the story. There is now a new heaven and a new earth. The narrator sees “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” This new city, this new world that comes from God is established here on earth. And what happens in this new world? Let’s listen to the poet:
[God] will dwell with [mortals];
they will be [God’s] peoples,
and God…will be with them;
[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying will be no more…
The description continues: There will be “the river of the water of life…[and] the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit…and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations…[The people] will see [God’s] face, and [God’s] name will be on their foreheads.” What a sight! What a vision! And we have to wait for this? How long, O Lord? How long?! 

Unfortunately, for those of us who thirst for the City of God right now, Jesus seems to be little help. He says: “you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42)… and, “be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (verse 44). But, at the same time, Jesus went around proclaiming: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!”, suggesting that we may not have to wait as long as we thought. 

I am not convinced that the New Jerusalem is only what The End may look like, but also what it looks like every single time our ways of seeing, and believing, and loving, and living in this world comes to an abrupt end, and God comes in to transform our lives. In this sense, the world ends over and over again. 

There have been times when something unexpected happens in our life and we are left without our bearings, frightened and dismayed. An example that springs immediately to my mind is September 11, 2001. Before that day we Americans thought we were untouchable, that no one would want to or be able to breach our security and take our lives in such a brutal and horrendous way. At least I thought this, until that fateful day when nearly three thousand people died in a total of four explosions in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania. Hope was quickly abandoned by so many. But then slowly, quietly it was restored. As the story is told on one website: “Father Mychcal Judge, Chaplin [of the New York Fire Department], rushed into the World Trade Center with firefighters. As he administered last rites to a fatally injured firefighter, he was struck by falling debris. ‘Father Mike’ died instantly from the injuries he received”. When the twin towers crumbled to the ground, God was there through this chaplain, and through so many other people. One helped carry a handicapped woman down the stairs inside the tower. Nameless others helped others find their lost relatives, or opened their homes to strangers, or drove to New York to provide assistance through the Red Cross and church agencies, or donated blood right where they were. While the politicians in Washington were speaking and voting for war, anonymous thousands were touching the lives of victims. 

Whenever we read in the New Testament of the end of the world, Jesus is the one who returns. In order for Jesus to return from heaven, he must first ascend to heaven after his death and resurrection, at least in Matthew, Mark and Acts. And all throughout the gospel of John, Jesus predicts that he will return in glory to the heavenly realm. For example, "I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me” (7:33), or “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father” (14:28), and “In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (14:2). When Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Christ, he warns her, “Do not hold onto me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” But Jesus never does what he says. Instead, he hangs around, paying haunting visits to the disciples. That evening he pops up into the middle of a locked room to greet them with the blessing, “Peace be with you.” The following week, he appears in the same way to give faith to doubting Thomas. We are told that “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples,” but then the appearances seem to come to an end, leaving the disciples still waiting around. 

Possibly bored or anxious, or both, Peter gets up one day and tells his friends, “I’m going fishing.” This seems strange. Wasn’t he supposed to go out and proclaim the good news of salvation to the world? Wasn’t he supposed baptize more into the faith of Christ as messiah? Well, that was true when Jesus was alive, when his followers may have expected him to save Israel with armies of angels, and fire from heaven. But that was a different time, a different life, a different world, one that had now come to an end. What will all the predictions look like now? Will Jesus come and take them to his heavenly dwelling? Jesus came just a few days before, but he was more like a ghost, popping in and out of rooms, scaring his disciples half to death, telling them not to hold onto him, not to become attached. What a disappointment. The disciples gave up their lives for their teacher and Lord, and built up a vision in their mind of what would happen. But now, in the words of Revelation, their old “heaven and earth had passed away.” Their world ended, so the disciples join Peter in returning to their old profession.

After a long night of catching no fish, the disciples decide to bring their boat in to shore. But just as they are pulling their empty nets back in, they see a stranger on the shore. It is Jesus, but they have forgotten to look for him, and cannot recognize him. The man asks the obvious question, “You have no fish, do you?” Then, he gives them more than a suggestion, it’s professional advice: “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” Surprisingly, they listen to this stranger, perhaps saying to themselves, “We’ll show him how barren this sea is, then he’ll leave us alone.” But the fishermen are proved wrong, right there on the spot, as the net fills with fish so abundantly that they cannot haul it in. At that spectacular moment, at the tail end of their mundane work shift, their vision is altered as they recognize the true identity of the strange man on the beach. As the story tells us: “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.” No longer sitting, distraught in the rocking boat of uncertain times ahead, Peter now swims amidst the currents of the sea that he once, if only briefly, walked upon. Maybe Peter could have run across the surface of the sea, but he was too much in a hurry for that. He would rather be carried ashore by pushing against the currents beneath the surface. Life as he knew it, with long days of waiting for his friend and Lord to return, was over. You might even say his old world was then replaced with the new one, the proverbial City of God, so radical was his change when he saw Christ so close to him. Peter was so surprised, he put on clothes, symbolic of a change of attitude toward life. Previously naked, he had been vulnerable to the elements that could have taken his life in the dangerous profession of fishing. But now, clothed with what comes when we recognize Christ among us, Peter races onto solid ground, where he is greeted by Jesus. 

After their breakfast, Jesus questions Peter of the disciple’s love for him. Perhaps Jesus has to be sure that even after he suffered and died, his followers still believe in, still love him. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter replies, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Even through his pain and confusion of why Jesus keeps asking, Peter does not change his answer, he still loves him. And Jesus’ reply? “Feed my lambs…Tend my sheep…Feed my sheep.” I think Jesus is saying, “Although,” or even, “because your world has ended, you must keep on doing my work, that is, you must love. Even when you will be carried away to the end of you life, never stop loving, for that is what it means for the City of God to come.” 

The final scene of the gospel of John can seem a bit odd at first reading, but I invite you to see it in a different way, with the topic of their conversation informing the message of this passage. After questioning Peter three times, Jesus gives the ultimate command, the same command, and opportunity, that he gave Father Mychal Judge, and gives us, every time our world ends: Jesus said, “Follow me.” I picture in my mind as I read, Peter, recognizing the opportunity but not fully comprehending it, standing up and walking along the shore of the sea with his friend and Lord. Peter looks behind him and sees ‘the disciple whom Jesus loves’ following them as well. He asks Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus gives a response that may seem unclear, but I think ties this to the view of the world ending over and over: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” We are told that stories grew about this disciple that he would never die. But that is not as important as what is really happening between Jesus and Peter on the beach. They are, I think, walking around the sea, talking about the next time the world will end. I imagine Peter turning to Jesus and questioning him, “And when will that be?” I don’t know what Jesus says, but I think he has already come again, in this case to the disciples as they were fishing, and continues to come again, and again, and again. That Jesus never ascends to heaven in the gospel of John may hint, I think, that the ascension we all expect really looks like this picture of Jesus, walking here on earth with his followers. 

The last time the world ended, Charles Roberts attacked a group of Amish schoolchildren so brutally that it left several little girls and himself dead, the girls shot execution style before he turned the gun on himself. This was an end to the world of Charles, his family, and the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. And, like September 11, God was there, this time through the victims themselves. Soon after the shooting, members of the Amish community visited Charles’s widow and father, expressing forgiveness and regret over what took place that morning. When donations began flooding in to cover the expenses for the Amish funerals and health care, they insisted that the Roberts family receive part of the gifts as well. When Charles was buried, approximately half of the mourners present at the service were Amish. There is no doubt that this outpouring of Christlike love brought the City of God directly to the Roberts family. 

Like the end of John’s gospel, Christ is still here. He always will be with the suffering, the excluded, the victims, calling to us all from the shore to come and eat bread and fish together, to be the church for each other, and even, as the Amish show, to those outside the church. And when we do, he will be there to charge us to care for each other, following him; and to walk with us along the shore, speaking of the next time the world will end. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Google power!

Google has decided to go solar:
Google believes the sun eventually can deliver as much as 30 percent of the power at its 1-million-square-foot campus [in California].
Google blogged about the project:
This project will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and we think it's one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

Google's VP of real estate is interestingly enough named David Radcliffe, no relation, I assume, to David Radcliff of the New Community Project. But he talks like he could be:
The anticipated savings from future energy bills should enable Google to recoup the solar project's costs in five to 10 years, estimated David Radcliffe, the company's vice president of real estate.

"We hope corporate America is paying attention. We want to see a lot of copycats" of this project, Radcliffe said.

This apparently was a long time coming for Google. According to apost from September 2005 on the company's blog, this is part of an ongoing worldwide effort by Google to bring environmental best practices to our offices and employees. Companies are finding that "going green" isn't just good for the earth but can lead to, say, superior design or healthier lifestyles.

Another part of this effort is
a cash incentive to employees who decide to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle. The net result? I'm guessing that the Mountain View Googleplex has the highest concentration of Toyota Priuses in the Northern Hemisphere.

This reminds me of Xanterra, an environmentally responsible hospitality company that runs lodging services in state and national parks across the US. I just stayed in their lodge at Ohio's Hueston Woods state park, and in the room was a sustainability report, saying that they use Priuses as their company cars.

Hopefully this attention to the environment by large companies will spread even further. As Google's Radcliffe says, "We hope corporate America is paying attention. We want to see a lot of copycats." On the consumer end, I can say that I want to see this too, and will do my best to take my business to green companies.

Via NPR's Mixed Signals Blog

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Part 2: Are Anabaptists traitors...? Peace is not patriotic

In response to the post "Are Anabaptists traitors for not fighting?", 
Amy asked
 if I could find the quote from Brethren martyr John Kline on patriotism. It's actually hidden among the posts here in my essay "A Heritage of Peacemaking," which goes much deeper than this post on topics of militarism and patriotism. Here is the quote:
My highest conception of patriotism is found in the man who loves the Lord his God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Out of these affections spring the subordinate love for one's country; love truly virtuous for one's companion and children, relatives and friends; and in its most comprehensive sense takes in the whole human family. Were this love universal, the word patriotism, in its specific sense, meaning such a love for one's country as makes its possessors ready and willing to take up arms in its defense, might be appropriately expunged from every national vocabulary.
I disagree with Kline that love of nation comes from love of God, or that "love truly virtuous for one's companion and children, relatives and friends" is subordinate to love of nation, which seems implied by the ordering of his list. At least Kline universalizes this love, saying that such love "in its most comprehensive sense takes in the whole human family". Indeed, Kline does intend to extend this love beyond all national borders, saying, "Were this love universal, the word patriotism...might be appropriately expunged from every national vocabulary." Perhaps Kline is saying that patriotism is a failing of human love, "were this love universal", and calls us to correctly expunge the very word patriotism from every vocabulary, and thereby giving all of our allegiance to God, the One to whom it belongs completely. 

To respond to Amy's first comment, she says: "The assumption in the original argument is that the only way we can be productive and contributing citizens is by serving in the military." Amy's right I think, to an extent. I don't think that everyone who follows the path of patriotism thinks everyone has to be in the military, but that all should, at the very least, acknowledge the sacrifice of those who do so for our own good. The problem with that is that Anabaptist have nothing against people as people, even those who are soldiers. I think we could safely say that we seek to love even the soldiers. But I do not see the connection between dying in wars that benefit the rich and powerful also trickling down to us 'common folk.' How is the current war in Iraq benefiting me? I have a family member who served a short period in Iraq a little bit ago. I did not feel gratitude or any patriotic urge, I simply feared for his life, as I fear for the lives of all who serve the ends of power through force. Watch "Born on the Fourth of July" to see how war impacts its victims. How can this great injury of the spirit bring any good? This only relates to me in that it leaves one more victim that I pray will find peace and rest. It does not make me feel proud or safe or free. It simply scares me for their sake and the sake of thousands with the same wounds.

Amy second comment is: "I do think that the argument about freedom to worship, is more about unchallenged comfort. I'm free to worship/believe as I wish, even if it brings death or loss of material possessions." I think this goes for both those who are patriotic and those who are opposed to it. I think those who support war because they believe it defends our freedom say that they are willing to suffer death through casualties of war. Anabaptists, on the other hand, historically would say that we are always free, for it is Christ that sets us free much more than any state can; and we'll worship as we see fit even if it means we suffer death. I think the difference is not that one side is willing to die for freedom, but that patriots are willing to kill for freedom, while Anabaptists are not. 

This is why the buttons and stickers that read "Peace is Patriotic" deeply sadden me. The two are exclusively opposed to each other. Peace can only come from God; patriotism is idolatry that stands in the way of allowing God into our hearts to bring about peace.

Friday, 13 October 2006

(Impact?) Shopping for Africa

Trying to, in the words of Bono, "get people where they're at," he and Oprah have begun a campaign of consumption in the name of African AIDS prevention. As Bono said, "Shop 'till it stops"!

You can buy you red ipod today, along with tons of other booty that will raise money for The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on the African continent.
Dozens of "(Product) Red" items will go on sale in the coming weeks by Gap Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Motorola Inc., Converse Inc. and Emporio Armani.
This is a more than worthy campaign, by two philanthropists I admire, but did anyone consider the irony of buying things that most people who this will benefit are not only too poor to own, but also impacts the world, most likely Africa, in negative social and enviornmental ways. How many African or Asian kids made these items in sweatshops? How much fuel went to shipping these things rather than to villages that have to clear out forests just to cook their food; or walk half a day to the hospital, giving up a day's wages, so they can get the treatment they need? 

I wonder what this means in the context of impact shopping. Any reflections?

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Are Anabaptists traitors for not fighting?

In a recent discussion among friends at seminary, the question came up (in a friendly way) of how can we as Brethren, who follow the Anabaptist tradition of pacifism, live in this country and not support wars that defend our freedom to practice our faith? I have been thinking about that question again, and here's how I respond:

When the Brethren began in 1708 in Germany, we refused to join any military force. Instead, we were hunted down by them as a treasonous sect. 

A side note: This reminds me of the American Muslim recently charged with treason, although we were never anti-state, and are not currently. For clarity, the Mennonite Confession of Faith says:
As Christians we are to respect those in authority and to pray for all people, including those in government, that they also may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth...We also witness by...calling the nations (and all persons and institutions) to move toward justice, peace, and compassion for all people. In so doing, we seek the welfare of the city to which God has sent us.

When the forces of the church-state monolith of eighteenth century Europe came banging on our doors, we understandably fled for our safety. And who protected us, ensuring our freedom to worship as we saw fit in a land where they such rights not exist? It was no state or militia, but the quiet, nonresistant Mennonites--ancestors of theAmish, who have recently shown great strength in forgiveness, not revenge, of the one who brought death to their community. (Additionally, my own ancestry includes both Brethren and Mennonites.) When we ultimately fled Germany for the Netherlands, we traveled to the small village of Surhuisterveen where Mennonites once again assisted and protected us from forces that would have us banished, or worse. 

During that time, Brethren and Mennonites received invitations to resettle across the Atlantic in a colony named Pennsylvania, a new promised land where the Quakers, another pacifist sect, had established freedom to worship without a call to arms. Instead, William Penn, the colony's founder, made treaties with the indigenous people of the land, and Europeans and natives lived together without recourse to warfare. When we arrived in Pennsylvania, we were welcomed by the Quakers, and were given land and security. 

Soon enough, the American Revolution came along, and all were forced to swear allegiance to the colonial armies or the British crown. Brethren and Mennonites chose neither, in accordance with our belief that we are not to swear oaths following the command of Christ. Instead, many of us lost our land, and were forced to flee. My ancestors fled to the valleys of Virginia, where they stayed safe, again among Mennonites, until these challenges came knocking once again with the rise of the Civil War. At least one of my ancestors was forced into the Confederate Army, but quickly deserted and lived in the mountains for a short time until he could safely return home. 

With this as my history, I am indebted for my freedom, not to the American army, but those who resist the belief that force is the only way to bring peace and security. The Mennonites and Quakers are my guardians, and Pennsylvania (much more than America) is my homeland. And the only 'nation' that I am loyal to is the kingdom of God.

Amish schoolhouse razed in darkness, with machines

In the cover of night (instead of the revealing light of day), the machines of a hired demolition crew(rather than Amish workers with hand tools), the Nickle Mines Amish school house was razed early this morning. The debris will be carried away to a lanfill, away from the Amish community, rather than be recycled or burned. 

That the Amish decided to leave the demolition of this place of terror within their borders to the machines of neighbors in 'the world', and that it took place at night, may speak of the volumes of their grief. They would rather not handle this heavy task on their own, and would like to see the remains taken off of their land. This burden is no longer only among the Amish of Nickle Mines, but sits among the common refuse of all of the world. Communities can only absorb so much tragedy on their own. It is more than fair for them to ask of others to help, to take it it upon themselves as well. We could do no less. 

Perhaps an even more powerful statement, both symbolically and concretely hopeful, will be the "quiet pasture where the schoolhouse stood."

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Amish 'girls did not die in vain'

Lancaster has posted a public statement from the community of Nickel Mines, PA, where the Amish school shootings occurred. 

After thanking all of the service personnel, financial services and many others who have assisted them in the past week, they also thank the press corps:
We thank people from the news media who sensitively reported our tragedy to the world and in many cases wrote thoughtful commentary that helped the world grapple with values that are dear to us -- forgiveness, non-violence, mutual caring, simplicity and life in a community of faith. Above all, thank you for the acts of kindness you showed us even while you were doing your reporting work.

I was touched to read of the concern for the family of Charles Roberts IV, the neighbor who entered their schoolhouse with deadly weapons:
The Roberts family is also suffering. Please join us in showering care on them, praying for them and in assisting them with financial needs that they face.
It is impressive that a community, particularly one that is purposely 'not of this world,' would acknowledge and assist their non-Amish neighbors, even those related to the one who brought such a dark day to their children.

Also striking is the extent of financial burden that the Amish community now faces:
medical and counseling services, transportation for victims, transportation and extra living expenses for family members attending to the victims, rehabilitation, long-term disability care, modifications to homes or schools if needed to make facilities handicap accessible, and any other expenses resulting from the event.
According to the Anabaptist Fund, the agency collecting funds to support the Nickle Mines community, has raised, as of October 9, $77,123.06. Further information can be found, and donations madehere.

Particularly poignant are the comments that online visitors to the story left in response. 

One reader writes:
I have learned a valuable life lesson from watching and listening to the members of your community as you travel down the road on which you found yourselves on one week ago. Although I have had to watch from afar, rest assured, I have been paying attention.

The lesson I have learned is one that I have been struggling with since October 28, 2003. That was the day that my life, much like your's, changed forever. It was the day that my granddaughter was murdered.

You have shown me that it is possible to forgive. I now have hope that someday I may be able to do as you have done. That someday, I too, might find the strength in my faith to forgive the man that brutally murdered a 2 year old girl.

Bless all of you, and thank you. Thank you for setting an example for me, as well as all of us, to follow.

Another says:

If we could all just adopt a smidgeon of the faith and forgiveness demonstrated since last week, this world would be a far better place.

And the third comment:
I know many of the families who lost daughters, and it lightens their hearts greatly know that their girls did not die in vain.

Amish School Shooting News & Blog Posts

Here is my collection of news article and blog posts about the Amish school shooting last week. Check Anabaptist News, Blogs & Podcastsfor the latest content.

Democrats finally get a backbone, but the wrong kind

My how the tables have turned. After Bush showed a surprising amount of restraint over North Korea, the Democrats have now become the warmongers, criticizing Bush, though John Kerry, as a "shocking failure." Kerry went on to say, "While we've been bogged down in Iraq where there were no weapons of mass destruction, a madman has apparently tested the ultimate weapon of mass destruction." It seems that Kerry wants us to get even further 'bogged down' in another international mess. 

While I rarely ever agree with Republicans, this one might actually be right: "Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, accused Democrats of playing partisan politics with a nuclear weapons threat."

There must be something in the water in DC. While "some Republicans issued more carefully worded statements or refrained from attacking Democrats altogether," here's the crap that Dems are pulling:
"The Bush administration has for several years been in a state of denial about the growing challenge of North Korea, and has too often tried to downplay the issue or change the subject," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"We had the opportunity to stop North Korea from increasing its nuclear power, but George Bush went to sleep at the switch while he pursued his narrow agenda in Iraq," added Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat in a tough campaign in New Jersey.

This just goes to show that they're all alike in one thing--they all love war. Or at least this is what the AP seems to be saying. Whether these Democrats actually have policies that argue for legitimate diplomacy I don't know. The article only had quotes that seem to urge war. This same story had an interesting paragraph that seems to go beyond mere reportage:
Seizing on North Korea's actions to argue Republicans are stronger on security than Democrats is riddled with pitfalls and leaves the GOP's standard-bearer--Bush--as well as his rank-and-file vulnerable to criticism.
Either way, the Democrats found their backbone too little and too late. This does not endear me to vote for them etherespeciallyly Kerry, whom the article calls "a potential 2008 candidate." Really, that's just what this country needs: a veteran who can't remember if he's pro- or anti-war. I live in a red state; I'm not going to throw away my symbolic anti-Republican vote on the Democrats again unless something changes radically, and fast. 

Monday, 9 October 2006

Bush actually shows restraint regarding North Korea

President Bush has, for the first time in a long presidency of swift military action, actually shown a degree of restraint in addressing a rising nuclear nation. 

While he did respond to North Korea's nuclear testing with threatening rhetoric, he did not vow unilateral invasion of the scale that Afghanistan and Iraq have recently and consistently seen.According to the AP he said:
"Once again, North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond"
Additionally, the administration tempered these remarks with a surprisingly nonmilitary solution. The same AP story says:
At the United Nations, the U.S. proposed stringent sanctions, including a trade ban on military and luxury items, the power to inspect all cargo entering or leaving the country, and freezing assets connected with its weapons programs.

While I'm skeptical, I still pray that this can be resolved in a third way, the way of peace that Christ demands.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Amish school shooting

After the tragic Amish school shooting this week, a lot of different responses could come up, some good and others not so much. I was glad to see this one.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

evil veils lives

Writing a paper on Augustine, this verse snuck into my notebook:

Evil veils lives
from a good God.

We are made whole
by the Wholly Other
who makes us holy.
Read it as a poem, as a confession, or as purely word-play. I prefer the first stanza. The second one's a bit awkward, but accompanies the first very well, I think, as an antidote to lives veiled from God. Any suggestions for another play on whole/wholly/holy/hole?

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Bob Dylan: Poet or Songwriter?

I'll read this some other time, when I'm not supposed to be reading the final 30 pages of Augustine:

Bob Dylan: "I'm a poet, and I know it"

(Impact) Living is easy...

All this talk about impact shopping got me thinking in lists, and it's surprisingly easy...(some of them I'm already doing):

  • co-op (I get a wicked good employees discount!)

  • farmer's market

  • Goodwill

  • patronize local businesses

  • patronize businesses in my neighborhood/end of town

  • drive less

  • water, no soda, less coffee (fair trade & organic)

  • pillage friends' gardens/grow my own

  • bike to church

  • short showers ("Keep 400 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually by shortening your shower." from NCP)

  • no smoking (don't give them your money! plus all the energy to grow, manufacture, distribute to the market, cover up unethically for something so clearly unhealthy)

  • reuse paper

  • compost

  • no lot-fed beef (only local or organic or free-range; none from the Amazon)

  • print duplex (and talk profs into accepting papers in this's a should seem obvious)

  • no Haye's stores

  • open source software

  • d.i.y. (do it yourself)

  • don't make a bigger impact (drive farther, etc...) just to accomplish these

  • I'm sure I'll think of more...