Tuesday, 11 December 2012

'Pearl Diver' film about a Mennonite Writer

A film about a Mennonite writer: (see the film website and the listing on imdb)
From Google Video:
Pearl Diver is the story of two sisters, how they are haunted by the twenty-year old murder of their mother, and what happens when a farming accident rips away the layers of secrecy and buried trauma surrounding that night

Marian is a young mother who lives in the Mennonite farming community where she grew up, while her younger sister Hannah left the community to pursue a writing career in Chicago .

When Marian's six-year old daughter Rebecca is badly injured in a farming accident, Hannah returns home to help. As the two sisters struggle with the circumstances surrounding Rebecca's accident and how to pay for her medical treatment, their opposing worldviews drive them towards a penultimate confrontation and reconciliation over their shared past, a past that simultaneously divides them yet binds them together.

What they learn is that sometimes the secrets from the past can bring hope for the future

Cast: Maddie Abshire, Brian Boland, Christopher Collard, Joey Honsa

Director and Writer: Sidney King

US Catholic Bishops: Aiming for a fellowship of straight men?

USA Today reported that the US Catholic bishops decided to create:
A new directory for music and liturgy, which calls for establishing a core group of "doctrinally correct" hymns. It requires a bishop to sign off on all new songs in his diocese andrules out using feminine pronouns or imagery for God or other incorrect theology.

This puzzles me. Doesn't the bible use female imagery for God, even though it is not the predominant view? This seems unbiblical, and un-Christlike.

Interestingly, I found the following from the New Zealand Catholic Church from 1997:
Hymns are a form of poetry, and some poetic license can be used in order to avoid non-inclusive language. However, this must be done in ways that respect doctrinal integrity, our Catholic heritage, the music and poetry of hymns, and, where appropriate, copyright. Given the need to respect all these,there should be some room for tolerance of language which was originally intended to be inclusive even if it isn't today. Generally, however, music which has regard for gender-inclusiveness should be preferred.

I wonder what is going on in the American Catholic Church. It seems as if they don't really want people to come, or they only want certain types of people (i.e. straight males only). Take for example, the bishops' recent decision on homosexuality. From the New York Times:
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops adopted new guidelines for gay outreach Tuesday that are meant to be welcoming, while also telling gays to be celibate since the church considers their sexuality ''disordered.''

Gay Catholic activists said the approach was so contorted and flawed that it would alienate the very people it was trying to reach.
Sadly, perhaps that's part of their plan.

Who's the insurgent?

Read any news report, or listen to any politician about the war in Iraq, and invariably the word "insurgent" will be thrown around in reference to those who violently resist the US military and its allies. I got curious about the use of this word, and decided to look it up. Here's an intriguing definition:
Person who challenges the current state of affairs. An insurgent group is one that seeks to overthrow the present leadership or regime and install a new order.
This sounds a lot like Bush and his cronies. So who's really the insurgent in Iraq?

Brethren added to UK peace church list

Ekklesia, an Anabaptist-related progressive think tank in the UK (see the left sidebar for their headlines), just added the Church of the Brethren to their list of "historic peace churches" in this story:
Mennonite volunteers assist voting process in Congo:
"Mennonites, – along with the Church of the Brethren and Quakers, are one of the historic peace churches, who believe that nonviolence is central to the way of Jesus."
Previously they had listed the Brethren in Christ church as a peace church, and left the COB out. I'm not sure what happened to the BIC in their list, whether they have any presence in the UK or not, and how much of a peace church they are considered. From my limited knowledge, I would say it is a minority voice, but since they often work with the Mennonite church here in the US, it's not altogether nonexistent. Thanks to Simon at Ekklesia.

2006 Elections bring 1st woman Speaker, 1st Muslim in Congress

There is much cause for celebration. In their near sweep of the elections, Democrats will bring us the first woman Speaker of the House (herehere, and here and the first Muslim member of Congress.

Pelosi, soon to be Speaker, wrote the following at Huffington Post on Election Day:
We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.

We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

We will make our economy fairer, and we will begin by raising the minimum wage. We will not pass a pay raise for Congress until there is an increase in the minimum wage.

We will make health care more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. We will also promote stem cell research to offer real hope to the millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.

We will broaden college opportunity, and we will begin by cutting interest rates for student loans in half.

We will energize America by achieving energy independence, and we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.

We will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting any attempt to privatize Social Security.

Zinn on Writers and Resistance

Since I am currently writing a personal essay on my self-identity as Anabaptist and Poet, I would like to post more (see previous post) from Howard Zinn's recent article "Rise Like Lions, Writers and Resistance," at Poets Against the War.

Speaking to the heart of what is surely on many minds today as they go out to vote, Zinn says:
The barrage of film and books glorifying World War II (The Greatest Generation, Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Flags of Our Fathers, and more) comes at a time when it is necessary for the Establishment to do what it must periodically do, try to wipe out of the public mind the ugly stain of the war in Vietnam, and now that the aura around the Gulf War has turned sour, to forget that too. A justification is needed for the enormous military budget, and so the good war, the best war, is trundled out to give war a good name.

Saying "At such a time, our polemical prose is not enough. We need the power of song, of poetry to remind us of truths deeper than the political slogans of the day," Zinn then quotes Bob Dylan's "Masters of War":

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul...

More quotes worth repetition here:
The great writers could see through the fog of what was called "“patriotism", what was considered "loyalty."

"I am an enemy of the existing order."” (George Bernard Shaw)

Zinn does not mention William Stafford, but he could. Stafford said:
I belong to a small fanatical sect...We believe that current ways of carrying on world affairs are malignant. We believe that armies, and the kind of international dealings based on armed might, will be self­perpetuating to a certain point—and that point may bring annihilation. Armies are a result of obsolete ways—just as gibbets are, and as thumbscrews are, and leper windows. (from Every War Has Two Losers)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Impact Shopping: a 'new' (spiritual?) practice

I really hate to say it, but this world is based on consumption. Even for Anabaptists who want out of it, claiming to be "in, not of" the world, there are choices to be made every day. 

As I posted earlier, the last time I went shoe shoppping, I chose New Balance because of their relatively responsible business practices. The last time I bought a dress shirt, I didn't do as well. How can we do better? 

As they say, "knowing is half the battle." When I heard David Radcliff speak last week, he quoted some astronomical number, 50 or 500 miilion, as the total head of beef cattle in the Amazon, it stuck with me. My wife and I dediced last night to not purchase beef unless it is local, organic or free-range. Even staying away from Amazon beef poses a problem. I still have memories of driving out west with my family and passing huge industrial beef farms, where cows stood in small concrete and metal pens. I was vegetarian then, but eventually gave that up. I eat meat regularly now, but realizing that beef is the animal that places the largest impact on the planet of all the animals you can eat, I decided to start to cut that out of my diet. I'm not going vegetarian (not yet anyway), but no more mass produced beef from here on out, as far as I can prevent it.

Next on the chopping block (for reduction of use, not erradication necissarily), the car

In that spirit, I've been surfing, and linking, pages that help you as a consumer make better choices on the impact you make in and on this world. Here's a good example. I call it impact shopping: the practice (dare we call it a spitirual practice?) of purchasing goods and services based on reducing the impact of such choices on social and environmental realms.

Here is the del.icio.us feed for the topic:

And since three is the magic number of all magic numbers (everything comes in threes!), here is a great 3 Step Plan for getting off on the right foot as far as consumption goes.