News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  3 March 2017  •  No. 111

Processional.The Prayer of the Refugee,” Rise Against.

Above: A section of the existing US–Mexico border fence at San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora state, on February 15, 2017, in northwestern Mexico. Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty.

Invocation. Idumea” (the name of the tune to which “And Am I Born To Die?” is set), Millikin University Choir.

Call to worship.  “Oh people of Promise, let your eyes arise to the hills above the hollows, where a cleft is prepared and your sustenance is proffered. Let your hearts be upheld by the Presence / who lingers in love above your going out and your coming in, between your harbor safe and the sea’s contention.” ­—continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Lean toward the land,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 121

Hymn of praise.Jesus Is a Rock in a Weary Land,” The Boys & Girls Choir of Harlem.

Remembering Berta Cáceres, Honduran environmental leader. “On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered by the national and local Honduran government and a multinational dam company, with at least the tacit support of the US. Last September, all the evidence Cáceres' family had collected over many months was stolen. The government has also refused to share information with the family and to allow independent parties like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help with the process.” Beverly Bell, CommonDreams

Confession.And Am I Born To Die?” Doc Watson and Gaither Carlton.

Visual delight. See these stunning driftwood sculptures by Debra Bernier. (2:01 video. Thanks Barbara.)

Hymn of intercession.Am I Born to Die?” Mason Brown & Chipper Thompson.

Women’s History Month

        • Women's History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women's Day in 1911. In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women's History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8 (International Women's Day).

        • “The large majority of ancient cultures were patriarchal, and they practiced customs that held women in low esteem and limited their freedom. Through the centuries, many courageous women have stepped forward to fight inequality and to champion causes for the benefit of society.” Days of the Year

            • “Women's History Month: 31 days of amazing women.” USA Today

Women History Month: bad news. “Some of Europe’s most successful far-right politicians are women. There is Marine Le Pen of France, of course. But also Frauke Petry of Germany, Siv Jensen of Norway and Pia Kjaersgaard of Denmark, who is something of a pioneer in the new wave of anti-immigrant populism sweeping through Europe.” Somini Sengupta, New York Times

Words of assurance. “Soon we know that the low folk will arise / The tyrants in their towers of gold shall hear the people cry.” —Windborne, “Song of the Lower Classes,” singing at Trump Tower. (Thanks Maria.)

When fear is sanctified, suspicion ensues and threats multiply.

        • On Friday, 24 February, a blaze broke out at the front entrance of the Daarus Salaam Mosque, near Tampa, Florida. This is the fourth mosque to be attacked in the past seven weeks. Other acts of vandalism have occurred at four additional mosques. Also last week a gunman shot two Indian immigrants in a Kansas City bar, thinking they were Middle Easterners.

        • FBI data indicate that anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 surged by 67% over the 2014 rate. (2016 data not yet available.) —see Albert Samaha & Talal Ansari, Buzzfeed

        • Vandals overturned headstones in a third Jewish cemetery in the past week, this time in Rochester, New York. Previously cemeteries in suburban St. Louis and Philadelphia were targeted. —see Abigail Adams, Time

        • More than 80 bomb threats have been called in to Jewish community centers in 33 states and two Canadian provinces in recent weeks. Darran Simon & AnneClaire Stapleton, CNN

        • “LGBT People Are More Likely to Be Target of Hate Crimes Than Any Other Minority Group.” Haeyoun Park & Laryna Mykhyalyshyn, New York Times

Hymn of resolution. “Suddenly it's repression, moratorium on rights / What did they think the politics of panic would invite? / Person in the street shrugs—"Security comes first" / But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.” —Bruce Cockburn, “The Trouble With Normal” (Thanks Thom.)

Good news. “After a Florida mosque was torched in an arson attack, a local Muslim noticed something odd about donations made to a repair fund he launched.
        “Instead of the round numbers Adeel Karim expected—$25, $50, $100 or more—the donations were in multiples of $18—$36, $72, $90 and more.
        “‘I couldn’t understand why people were donating in what seemed like weird amounts to the cause,” Karim wrote in a Facebook post Monday (Feb. 27). “Then I figured out after clicking on the names Avi, Cohen, Goldstein, Rubin, Fisher. . . . Jews donate in multiples of 18 as a form of what is called ‘Chai.’ It wishes the recipient a long life.’” Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service

And more. “Muslim veterans offer to guard Jewish sites across US.” Gabe Friedman, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (Thanks Matt) 

Want the details of existing US immigrant vetting process? This video (2:38) from The Washington Post is a concise summary.

Right: Engraving of 1 Esdras 3:12

Cost estimate for President Trump’s proposed border wall between the US and Mexico is $21,600,000,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security. A dramatically less expensive option to “secure” that border: Congress could pass legislation mandating a minimum prison sentence for every employer hiring immigrants lacking documentation.
            It won’t happen, of course. Too many people make too much money on cheap migrant labor. Indeed, hundreds of Trump family products are made in at least 12 other countries. —see Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Standard Examiner

Matthew 25 Pledge. “In America right now, too many people are feeling very afraid because of the new political realities in Washington, D.C.  People are feeling a need to act. Matthew 25 can lead us in what to do. And so we've created the Matthew 25 Pledge — just one sentence which simply says: I pledge to protect and defend vulnerable people in the name of Jesus.” —make the Pledge,  download “toolkits” for action, options for aligning with one of several national organizations sponsoring the initiative

Short story. Best-selling author Jamie Ford was in Highland Park [an affluent part of metro Dallas, Texas] as a guest of the town’s literary festival. While there, he also spoke at Highland Park High School. Ford, a Chinese-American, was mocked by students during his talk. On his website, he wrote,
        “I managed to end my talk on a bittersweet note about the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and nationals, about how if we forget that bit of history, we are diminished as a people. I got my point across and in that brief moment your impoliteness was forgiven and all was well. I thanked you, for not clapping and cheering the Japanese Internment.
        “And then you clapped and cheered the Japanese Internment.” —Corbett Smith, Dallas News

A dreadful story of a celebrated children’s author’s detention and interrogation at customs arrival from Australia. —Mem Fox, “Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration: 'In that moment I loathed America'”

¶ And in a similar story, US border agents interrogated Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the famous athlete, for two hours after returning from an overseas trip—something he does frequently in his work. Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

¶ In her Thursday night show, MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow disclosed a leaked document from the Department of Homeland Security’s internal intelligence agency which, in coordination with multiple other intelligence and security agencies, says that Muslim immigrants to the US do not arrive “radicalized.” They have to live in the US for a while before that happens. [Read the last sentence again, slowly.] —see Media Matters

When only the blues will do.Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” Rev. Gary Davis. (Thanks Peter.)

Offertory.Paris Blues,” Django Reinhardt.

Make room in your schedule for 15 minutes of hopeful exhortation from Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Preach it. “The traditional emphases of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving—are intensely personal but never merely private. . . . Such disciplines represent strategic interventions designed to confront gluttonous appetites—appetites that are seeded and nursed in ways even the most kindly fail to see. The deadliest thing about privilege in the midst of privation is that we often are not even aware of it. Lent’s aim is to disabuse us of such innocence. Not to molest us (discomforting as it may be) but to amend and befriend us according to the Beloved Community’s covenant terms.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Lent is the season when ‘Moonlight’ upstages ‘La La Land’”

Can’t makes this sh*t up.

      •“Trump Gives Pen to Dow Chemical CEO After Signing Executive Order to Eliminate Regulations” Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

        •Pictured at left: Special Naval Warfare Group convoy vehicle flying america-first's flag. —for more, see Peter Holley, Washington Post.

        • “The House of Representatives approved its first effort of the new Congress to roll back gun regulations, voting to overturn a rule that would bar gun ownership by some who have been deemed mentally impaired by the Social Security Administration.” —Nicole Gaudiano, USA Today (Thanks Cindy.)

Call to the table. “Isn’t there anything you understand? It’s from the ash heap God is seen. Always! Always from the ashes.” —character in Archibald MacLeish’s play, “J.B.”

The state of our disunion. “We need to talk about the online radicalisation of young, white men.” Abi Wilkinson, The Guardian

Best one-liner. “It's been a wonderful year for movies," Oscar Award ceremony host Jimmy Kimmel observed. "Black people saved NASA [“Hidden Figures”] and white people saved jazz [La La Land]."

For the beauty of the earth.Yellowstone Forever Photo Contest 2016–Top 100 photos." (5:33 video. Thanks Bruce.)

¶ “Trump, with his blustery, demolition-derby governing style, just can’t help himself. With [chief White House strategist Steve] Bannon, on the other hand, there is method to the madness. . . .
        “It’s important to remember the consistent feature among the various definitions of ‘terrorism’ is the intent and capacity to sow fear in the populace to achieve policy goals. Given this, should we be asking whether Steve Bannon’s dissembling blueprint falls within this definition?” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “When wealth, weapons, and worship align: Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon’s frightful intent

Altar call.Amazing Grace,” President Barack Obama.

Benediction. “I can see a world where we all live / Safe and free from all oppression / No more rape or incest, or abuse / Women are not a possession / You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me / I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful / I feel my heart for the first time racing / I feel alive, I feel so amazing.” Tena Clark and Tim Heintz, “Break the Chain”

Find out more about “Break the Chain” and the One Billion Rising campaign of defiance against the exploitation of women.

Recessional. “As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men— / For they are women's children and we mother them again. / Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes— / Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!” —“Read and Roses” from the movie “Pride,” inspired by an extraordinary true story of the striking National Union of Mineworkers, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families.

Lectionary for Sunday next. “Nicodemus, stalwart among the Sincere-Upright Party of God, came to Jesus, confused. ‘Rabbi-teacher,’ says he, ‘your walk conforms to your word; your call, to your claim; your feats, to your faith. Why do you distance yourself from our Party?’” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Nicodemus,” a litany for worship inspired by John 3:1-17

Just for fun.Typewriter Symphony Orchestra.” (Thanks James)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Lean toward the land,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 121

• “Lent is the season when ‘Moonlight’ upstages ‘La La Land’”

• “Nicodemus,” a litany for worship inspired by John 3:1-17

• “When wealth, weapons, and worship align: Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon’s frightful intent

©Ken Sehested @ Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor, as are those portions cited as “kls.” Don’t let the “copyright” notice keep you from circulating material you find here (and elsewhere in this site). Reprint permission is hereby granted in advance for noncommercial purposes.

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