News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  13 May 2016  •  No. 72

New essay featured this week

Public reasoning and ekklesial reckoning
Commentary on the Vatican conference calling for ‘spirituality and practice
of active nonviolence’ to displace church focus on just war,” by Ken Sehested


Processional.Samba Magic,” Brazilian beat big band, by the Basement Jaxx with the Metropole Orchestra. (Thanks Al.)

Photo above: “The Long Road in New Zealand” by Trey Ratcliff.

Invocation.I’m Gonna Sing ‘Til the Spirit Moves In My Heart,” Greater Allen Cathedral Chorale.

Pretty awesome. “This man began planting a forest in 1979—and now it's the size of Central Park.” National Geographic video (1:07. Thanks Kristen.)

More remembrance of Daniel Berrigan. Of all tributary literature, the best are stories. Last week I mentioned Joyce Holliday’s reflections on Berrigan’s life. This week, I recommend Rose Berger’s  and this collection of brief anecdotes from friends and family by Eric Joiner in “Waging Nonviolence.”

Left: Mourners follow the hearse carrying the casket of the Rev. Daniel Berrigan during a procession after his funeral service at the Church of St. Francis Xavier on Friday in New York City. (Mary Altaffer / AP)

One joke too far. “Last week, Farm News [a rural Iowa newspaper] published a cartoon by freelancer Rick Friday, whose ‘It’s Friday!’ cartoon has appeared in the paper for 21 years. In the sketch, a farmer says he wishes there were more money in farming. ‘There is,’ his pal responds. ‘In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.’ Friday was fired because, in the words of the Farm News editor, because of a ‘sh*tstorm here. . . . In the eyes of some, Big Ag cannot be criticized.’” Jack Murtha, Columbia Journalism Review (Thanks Cheryl.)

Best one-liner. “How embarrassed am I to be from North Carolina? As my grandmother used to say, ‘I think the butter has done slipped off the biscuit.’” —Rev. Susan Sparkes in a Facebook post on the NC state legislature’s “bathroom bill”

Confession.Still Got the Blues,” Gary Moore.

Hymn of praise.Fanfare for the Common Man,” Aaron Copeland, performed by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

Good news. “Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world and a leader in renewable energy, produced so much energy [last] weekend from its solar, wind, hydro, and biomass plants that power prices went into negative territory for several hours. Consumers were being paid to use energy.” Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

¶ “We share with you the covenant of baptism which has knit us together as one family. You cradled us into the body of Christ, helped us know the grace that invites us to move more deeply into relationship with God, and invited us to listen for God’s call on our lives. We responded, finding that we were most faithful when we gave our lives over to full time Christian service. You embraced us, affirmed us, ordained us, and sent us to serve. . . .” —a statement from 111 United Methodist clergy and ministerial candidates who “came out” just prior to the UMC’s General Conference in Portland, Oregon, 10-20 May 2016

This is noteworthy. For what purpose can you image an unusual collaboration between the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Sikh Coalition, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and the National Association of Evangelicals? —Adelle M. Banks, Non-Muslim groups say Muslim mosque should get OK” in New Jersey

Essential historical perspective. This week marks the 151st anniversary of the formal close of the US Civil War. To mark the occasion, read “How the Civil War Became the Indian Wars.” —Boyd Cothran and Ari Kelman

Given the distorted opinion regarding some of our neighbors, you need to know this. “Muslim Leaders Wage Theological Battle, Stoking ISIS’ Anger,” Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

¶ “You can’t have a war on terrorism because that’s not an actual enemy, it’s abstract. It’s like have a war on dandruff. That war will be eternal and pointless. It’s idiotic. That’s not a war, it’s a slogan. It’s a lie. It’s advertising, which is the only art form we ever invented in America. And we use it to sell soap, wars and presidential candidates in the same fashion.” —Gore Vidal

ISIS’ backstory. “[Most people] assume that ISIS is a causa sui [cause of itself] phenomenon that has suddenly materialized out of the thin ether of an evil doctrine. But ISIS emerged from the fires of war, occupation, killing, torture, and disenfranchisement. It did not need to sell its doctrine to win recruits. It needed above all to prove itself effective against its foes.” —Alireza Doostdar, “How Not To Understand ISIS

¶ “The War on Terror is like trying to eradicate cancer cells with a blow-torch.—military historian Michael Howard, Liberation or Catastrophy?: Reflections on the History of the 20th Century

¶ “Every war is justified and claimed as ‘just’ by those who engage in it. In practice just war theory has not served to restrict warfare so much as to give shape to the self-justifications employed by political and religious leaders. —Dan Buttry, “Rethinking ‘Just War,’” ReadTheSpirit

¶ “’Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict’ by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan” shows “how in the last century, nonviolent movements were far better at mobilizing supporters, resisting regime crackdowns, creating new initiatives, defeating repressive regimes and establishing lasting democracies. Their evidence points to the conclusion that nonviolent resistance is more effective than armed resistance in overturning oppressive and repressive regimes and in leading to more democratic societies.” John Dear, National Catholic Report Online

¶ “It's odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian don't hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: To stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most delusionally to ‘rid the world of evil-doers.’” —Arundhati Roy, “Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates”

¶ "People who go to war start to resemble their enemy." —Mark Kurlansky, “Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea”

¶ "Peace is not the pursuit of war by other means. Peace consists of putting an end to the red ink of past history and starting anew in a different color so that the next generation can rejoice in a fresh landscape." —Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

Show me who makes a profit from war and I will show you how to stop war. —industrialist Henry Ford

¶ “The more I study the history of the world, the more I am convinced of the inability of brute force to create anything durable.” —Napoleon Bonaparte, near the end of his life while in exile on St. Helena

Long read recommendation. The Cost of Violence in the Global Village” by Noam Chomsky. “A group of major human rights organizations . . . conducted a study that sought “to provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the total body count in the three main war zones [Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan] during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism. . . .’ Their ‘conservative estimate’ is that these wars killed about 1.3 million people, a toll that ‘could also be in excess of 2 million.’”

The state of our disunion.What’s up with our democracy,” video (1:48) from Sojourners.

Can’t make this sh*t up. “George Zimmerman Auctioning Off Gun Used to Kill Trayvon Martin,” saying he could “move on” once the gun was sold. Ed Mazza, Huffington Post

Preach it. "A church that is not able to take a firm stand against war is not a church which deserves to be believed." —Harvey Cox

Call to the table. “Not until our catechisms point to joy—rather than moral heroism or gritty endurance—as the center, the substance and the circumference of our secret power—will our mobilizing lead to something other than exhaustion.” —continue reading Ken’s Sehested’s essay, “Public reasoning and ekklesial reckoning

Altar call. “Where do you think all these appalling wars come from? Do you think they just happen? The come because you  . . . lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.” —James 4:1-2, The Message

Benediction. “Toil together, fight, run, suffer, rest, and rise up together as God’s stewards, companions of his table, and his servants! Please him who is your warlord, him from whom you will also receive your soldier’s pay. Let none of you desert the flag! Let your baptism remain your armor, faith your helmet, love your spear, patience your weapon. —Ignatius, “Letter to Polycarp,” ca. CE 120

Lectionary for Sunday next. “Listen to the voice of Wisdom, O people of folly. Hear the voice of understanding as She makes Her stand at the city gate and presides in the town square.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “The Voice of Wisdom,” a litany for worship inspired by Proverbs 8

Just for fun. This is a hoot: President Obama’s “Couch Commander” skit. (4:02. Thanks Evelyn.)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks:

• “Public reasoning and ekklesial reckoning: Commentary on the Vatican conference calling for ‘spirituality and practice of active nonviolence’ to displace church focus on just war”

• “The Voice of Wisdom,” a litany for worship inspired by Proverbs 8

• “Wisdom,” a sermon on Proverbs 8

Resources for Pentecost

• “The earth is satisfied,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

• “The Promise of Pentecost,” a litany for worship

• “All Together,” a litany for Pentecost

• “Pentecostal Passion,” a poem

• “The Promise of Pentecost,” a sermon for Pentecost

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