News, views, notes, and quotes

8 October 2015  •  No. 41

Invocation. “The morning waits / across the pond / where fog meets frost / to mingle and declare / though substance change / and rearrange— / what is loved / cannot be lost.” —Mary Etta Perry

Call to worship. Shadows” by David LaMotte.

Right: “Blood moon” photo from Kirkjufell Mountain, Iceland, by Suzy Moore

Good news. “The announcement Friday that the United States and China will work together to enact “nearly complete bans” on the import and export of ivory represents the most significant step yet in efforts to shut down an industry that has fueled the illegal hunting of elephants, putting some species at risk..” —Rachael Bale, “US-China Deal to Ban Ivory Trade Is Good News for Elephants

Bold initiative. “In an effort to curb food waste, which accounts for roughly one-third of all food produced worldwide, France is making it illegal for supermarkets to throw away any food that is considered edible. The European country's parliament voted unanimously for the new law, which will force grocers to either donate the food to charity or make sure that it is used as animal feed. . . . As of July 2016, large supermarkets in France — those approximately 4,300 square feet and larger—will face fines of up to $82,000 for failing to comply.” —Roberto A. Ferdman, “France is making it illegal for supermarkets to throw away edible food

In memoriam.  Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015), tireless champion of civil rights, labor, feminist movements. For more background, see Kim Bellware’s “Grace Lee Boggs, Legendary Activist, Dies At 100”  And here is a statement issued by President Obama “On the Passing of Grace Lee Boggs.”

Disingenuous news. On Friday, 2 October, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted: “We call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo[sition and] civilians.” She also posted a statement from the US warning that civilian casualties “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”
        •On Saturday, 3 October, US warplanes bombed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the Afghan city of Kunduz, killing 22 people.
        •On Thursday, 1 October, a student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon opened fire on classmates, killing 10, injuring another 9. When GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush was asked about the incident during a campaign event, among the first words he spoke were “Look, stuff happens.”
        •On Friday, 2 October, UN Ambassador Power tweeted a response to a Saudi air strike, four days before, on a wedding party in Yemen which killed at least 130: “Terrible news from Yemen of killing of innocent civilians & aid workers. Urgently need pol[itical] solution to crisis.”

Candi Kinney of Rosenburg Gun Shop in Rosenburg, Oregon, site of last week’s mass murder on the Umpqua Community College campus], has just ordered more assault rifles. “Always a rush after a big shooting.”

Spoof news. “Americans who are opposed to being shot, a constituency that has historically failed to find representation in Washington, are making a new effort to make its controversial ideas heard in the nation’s capital. “When you bring up the idea of not wanting to be shot with members of Congress, there’s always been pushback,” Carol Foyler, founder of the lobbying group Americans Opposed to Being Shot, said. “Their reaction has been, basically, ‘Not being shot: who’s going to support something like that?’” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

Call to confession. “You have seen me in my sorrow, you have known me in my pain.” —“Holy is Your Name,” by The Many

Sports statistic (another record) you may have missed. September was the first month since July 2009 that no National Football League player was arrested.

Speak out. “A Texas mother spoke out against part of McGraw-Hill’s textbook, ‘World Geography,’ when she noticed that the language erased slavery by calling slaves ‘workers’ and including them in the section ‘Patterns of Immigration.’” —Casey Quinlan, “Texas Mother Outraged Her Son’s Textbook Called Slaves ‘Workers’ and ‘Immigrants’”

Repentant update on the above story. McGraw-Hill has now apologized for its textbook language and has promised changes. —See Kindsay Deutsch’s “Textbook publisher apologies for calling slaves ‘workers’”

Words of assurance. “Now if you feel that you can't go on / Because all of your hope is gone / And your life is filled with much confusion / Until happiness is just an illusion / And your world around is crumbling down, darlin' / Come on girl reach on out for me.” —“Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” The Four Tops

Prayer of intercession. “Some people says the blues is just a sad thing / you know they got it all wrong / cause the blues will pick you up / when you been down so doggone long.” —“When the Blues Come Knockin’,” performed by Little Milton (song by Warren Haynes)

Columbus Day is next Monday in the US. (In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving, and corresponds to harvest festivals in many other countries. In Mexico, it’s the “Day of the Race.”) A bit of background on the US holiday is below.

Right: Photo-University of Wisconsin-Madison.

        • “Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.” —Christopher Columbus
        •Watch this 3+ video surveying the legacy of Christopher Columbus.
        •Three major US cities—Berkeley, Seattle, and Minneapolis—have rechristened Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Sixteen states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon, don’t recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday. South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day since 1990.
        •“Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in early February 1494, first sending several dozen enslaved Taínos to Spain. Columbus described those he enslaved as ‘well made and of very good intelligence,’ and recommended to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that taxing slave shipments could help pay for supplies needed in the Indies.” —Bill Bigelow, “Time to Abolish Columbus Day
        •When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, "Ours."  —Vine Deloria, Jr.
        •“It is true that after they have been reassured and have lost this fear, they are so artless and so free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it. Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts.” —Christopher Columbus

The story of Hatuey, the indigenous Taíno leader. Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish priest, historian and social reformer, who witnessed, wrote about and protested the atrocities of the conquistadors, tells the story of Hatuey, a resistance leader of the Taíno people, who was captured by the Spanish in what is now Cuba. He was sentenced to be burned at the stake.
        As Hatuey (who would later become the first Cuban national hero) was bound to the stake and surrounded by brush, a Spanish friar attempted to covert the “Indian.” The friar explained to him about conversion and baptism, noting the options of eternity spent either in heaven or hell. When offered the opportunity of baptism (to save his soul, not his skin), Hautey asked for time to think it over.
        Finally, he responded, requesting final clarification: “And the baptized, where do they go after death?
        “To heaven,” said the friar.”
        “And the Spanish, where do they go?
        “If baptized,” the friar answered, “to heaven, of course.”
        After weighing his decision, Hautey concluded: “Then I don’t want to go there. Don’t baptize me. I prefer to go to hell.”

Theological rationale for the conquest. Writing 1571 in opposition to Bartolomé de las Casas’ advocacy for indigenous citizens of the Americas, a Spanish church official in Peru penned the following parable as a theological rationale for conquest:
        "God acted . . . as a father who has two daughters: one very white, full of grace and gentility; the other very ugly, bleary-eyed, stupid and bestial. (Continue reading this 16th century theological rationale for the conquest of the Americas.)

If you want to read about a European on Columbus Day, learn about Bartolomé de las Casas. His story is one of unfolding repentance over the course of his life in regard to treatment of the indigenous population of the Spanish conquest of the “New World.” (Continue reading “Witness to villainy,” which contains an excerpt from his eyewitness accounts of Spanish conquistadors’ brutal treatment of indigenous people in the Americas.)

The mention of “papal bulls” would cause many Americans to think about Pamplona and the annual running of the bulls. Not quite. A papal “bull” is essentially a Pope’s official acknowledgement of a land grant. Several in the late 15th century together framed a church “doctrine of discovery” to Spain’s and Portugal’s respective conquests, conveying the Pope’s blessing “to capture, vanquish, and subdue the Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possession and their property.” —Vinnie Rotondaro, “Doctrine of Discovery: A scandal in plain sight

The “Discovery doctrine” was cited by the US Supreme Court as early as 1823 to justify the way colonial powers laid claim to lands belonging to foreign sovereign nations; and it was cited as recently as 2005 in a Supreme Court case regarding a dispute over Native American land rights.

Numerous initiatives, from religious (including Catholic) and secular individuals and organizations, have for years called on the Vatican to repudiate the “doctrine of discovery.”  —See “Mobilized Efforts Working to Revoke the Doctrine of Discovery” and Renee D. Gadoua, “Nuns Blast Catholic Church's 'Doctrine Of Discovery' That Justified Indigenous Oppression

Many on the receiving end of the modern missionary movement’s history associate its meaning with the “doctrine of discovery” legacy mentioned above. Only more polite.

Preach it. “I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men's hands even at the height of their arc of rage because we have finally realized there is just one flesh we can wound.” —Hafez

¶ “The very first naturalization law in the US, which established in 1790 the oath and other features of today’s ceremony, required an aspiring immigrant to be “a free white person.” For more than a century, as our upstart nation grew slowly into a world power, nativists labored to place the ‘white person’ standard within some scientific hierarchy of races, always with white people on top.” —civil rights historian Taylor Branch,  speaking at a White House naturalization ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. (Thanks, Richard.)

Lectionary for Sunday next. "Worthy, worthy the One who conceived the earth and gave birth to bears and basil and beatitudes alike. / The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work! / At the sound of your Name the trees rejoice, for you are clothed with honor and clad in beauty. / The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work!" (Continue reading Ken Sehested's "The earth is satisfied,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104.)

The call to the table sometimes has a Maundy Thursday mood; sometimes, more like Cinco de Mayo. And sometimes it's a slow dance with the Holy Spirit, with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Rivera Paradise” setting the tone and tempo.

Altar call. “There are no secular places. Only sacred places and desecrated places.” —Wendell Berry

Find an hour in the coming days to watch this Bill Moyers video focused on the work of Wendell Berry, on the 35th anniversity of publishing his The Unsettling of America, with friends from near and far gathered to address the topic.

Just for fun.25 Award-Winning Wedding Photos,” Huffington Post

From the bitter roots of the Columbian conquest has grown the Spirit’s counter witness, including the legacy of Martin de Porres Velázquez, O.P. (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639), canonized in 1962 as the patron saint of mixed-race people and all those seeking interracial harmony. (Art by Ade Bethune, ©Ade Bethune Collection, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN.)

Benediction. “It is said that those who walk on flat ground need not hold hands. But we who climb a steep and slippery road must hold onto each other to make our way securely.” —St. Francis de Sales

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks:

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

•“Allahu Akbar,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

•“Another world is possible,” an introduction to Dan Buttry’s new book, We Are the Socks

©Ken Sehested @ Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor. 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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