News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  28 March 2019 •  No. 189

Processional. A New Zealand haka, performed by students from various schools, paying tribute to two of their peers who died in the Christchurch shooting.

         “The haka is a ceremonial dance or challenge in Māori culture [of indigenous people in Aotearoa /New Zealand]. Often thought of as a war dance, haka are performed as a show of unity and strength, to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals.” (Thanks Cynthia.) For more see “Christchurch shootings: How Maori haka unify New Zealand in mourning,” BBC News

Above: Silver fern, national tree of New Zealand.

Invocation. If you cannot imagine the rage of God, you have nothing to say of God. —kls

Special issue
What should it prompt from us?

Introduction to this special issue

        What can you do to abate the harm caused by the mass murders in New Zealand mosques? Not much, in the scheme of things.

        Which is not to say there’s nothing at all to do.

        For us in the US (and people around the world), we must use that tragedy as a mirror to examine how we are complicit with similar threats close to home. If the grief we experience over deadly news a half-world away is to be more than vaporous sentiment, fading with each text alert from our phones, there must be a contextualizing in our own location. —continue reading “Find a trailhead to the ministry of reconciliation: What should the Christchurch massacre prompt from us?

Above: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) dons a hijab to comfort survivors of the attacks by a white supremacist on two mosques in Christchurch. Women across the country (right) wore headscarves as a sign of solidarity with their Muslim neighbors.

Call to worship. “Ignite our integrity, and right-size us in our britches.” —Rev. Meg Peery McLaughlin, prayer to open a session of the US House of Representatives. (Listen to the entirety of her prayer. 1:32 video. Thanks Pete.)

This is what worthy political leaders do in moments of crisis. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comforting members of the Muslim community targeted by a mass murderer. (2:03 video)

Hymn of praise. “Other refuge have I none, / hangs my helpless soul on thee; / leave, ah! leave me not alone, / still support and comfort me. / All my trust on thee is stayed, / all my help from thee I bring; / cover my defenseless head / with the shadow of thy wing.” —Rev. James Cleveland and the Voices of Cornerstone, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Confession. “The very symbols of Trumpism—the MAGA hats, the wall, etc.—are more than merely physical objects. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.” —Charles Blow, “It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump,” New York Times

¶ “‘They are us,’ [New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda] Ardern said of the Muslims slaughtered in her country. And she talked in global terms. If the rest of the world is happier talking about ‘global jihadism’, she talked of global white supremacism.” Robert Fisk, Independent

When thoughts-and-prayers have substance. It took New Zealand less than a week after the mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques to announce a substantial gun control policy, specifically banning semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, along with an ambitious gun but-back program. Tom Westbrook & Charlotte Greenfield, Yahoo

Hymn of supplication. “Our tribe is calling to the people / who have just set foot on this meeting ground / Bring with you the memories of all our dead / and so many tears spilling forth nation-wide. / Look at our people working across the land / spread out far and wide / Shaking is the ground, quivering is the sea. / Oh, the love and the pain within me. / The ground shakes and quivers, yeah!” —English translation of Maori traditional folk song, “E Te Iwi E,” performed by the New Zealand Youth Choir

Good news. “U.S. Muslims are partnering to raise funds to build 50 water wells in Africa and South Asia in honor of the 50 victims of the New Zealand mosque massacres. Since launching their crowdfunding effort on March 23, Sajjad Shah, founder of the Indiana nonprofit Muslims of the World, and “American Islamophobia” author Khaled Beydoun have raised over $73,000 for the project. ‘We wanted to make sure their stories are remembered,’ Shah said.” Aysha Khan, Religion News

Words of assurance. “O Joy that seekest me through pain, / I cannot close my heart to thee; / I trace the rainbow through the rain, / And feel the promise is not vain, / That morn shall tearless be.” —Darrell Adams, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Infectious. “Using an Anti-Defamation League map of hate crimes, the researchers [at the University of North Texas] found that in the American counties which hosted one of Trump’s 275 campaign rallies in 2016, there was a ‘226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.’” —, Reader Supported News (Thanks Gwenyth.)

More infectious. “The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain increased by 593% in the week after a white supremacist killed worshippers at two New Zealand mosques, an independent monitoring group has said.” —, Guardian

Professing our faith. “Ain’t I a Woman,” spoken & music of Sojourner Truth, from a speech for the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in 1851, performed by Florida State University Women’s Glee Club.

A global story. “In a larger context, none of the nationalist and exclusivist movements—Jewish nationalism in Israel; Islamism in parts of Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia; Hindu nationalism in parts of India; Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand—that have grown in recent years are grounded in theology. They’re all connected by a shared sense of grievance and an imagined community based on assumed shared ideals.” Murali Balaji,

Hymn of resolution. “There’s room enough in Paradise / To have a home in Glory! / Jesus, my all, to heaven in gone / To have a home in Glory! / He whom I fix my hopes upon / To have a home in Glory!” —Robert McFerrin, “Oh, Glory

Selective attention to reality. “Terror attacks carried out by Muslims receive on average 357% more media coverage than those committed by other groups, according to research conducted at Georgia State University. The study found perpetrator religion is a major predictor of news coverage of a terrorist attack.” EurekAlert

A Brennan Center for Justice report reveals that while terrorism has been a top priority for the FBI since 2001, only about 10% of its resources focus on domestic terrorism. According to an Anti-Defamation League report “says that all but one of the 50 killings in the United States motivated by extremist ideology in 2018 were committed by people with some kind of link to right-wing extremism. One was linked to Islamic extremism.” —Leila Fadel, “Civil Rights And Faith Leaders To FBI: Take White Nationalist Violence Seriously,” NPR (Thanks Lynn.)

Hymn of intercession. “Steal Away to Jesus,” New Zealand Youth Choir.

Word. “These won’t be my best words.” —commentary (4:44 video) by Waleed Aly, New Zealand television commentator (Thanks Loren.)

Call to prayer. At first sight [see art at left], it looks like a silver fern, the traditional emblem of New Zealand. But a closer look reveals the frond of the fern is formed by 50 silhouettes of Muslims in various stages of prayer. This is the compelling tribute that Pat Campbell, a cartoonist for Australia's Canberra Times newspaper, drew in memory of the 50 people killed in the Christchurch mosque mass shootings.

¶ “Facebook has announced a ban on content that includes ‘praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism’—a significant policy shift that comes after months of criticism from civil rights groups. Previously, Facebook had banned content promoting white supremacy (generally, the belief that whites are superior to other races). But the platform allowed white nationalist content (which promotes a belief that a white majority should control the social and political direction of predominantly white countries) and white separatist content (which argues that whites should create a separate ethnostate devoid of people of color).” P.R. Lockhard, Vox

When only the blues will do.Hymn to Freedom,” Oscar Peterson. (Thanks Dale.)

¶ “The world is organized the way it is right now thanks to Europe’s nearly 500 years of invasion, conquest and colonization. Blain Snipstal, writing at Why Hunger, puts it about as bluntly as possible: ‘The plantation system was the first major system used by the colonial forces in their violent transformation of the Earth into land, people into property, and nature into a commodity. . . . Race and White Supremacy were then created to give the cultural and psychological basis to support the rationale, organization and logic of capital.’” —Robert C. Koehler, “,” Common Dreams

Home grown. The member of the US Coast Guard, who was arrested in February before he could carry out massive terrorist violence against Democratic members of congress and high profile media figures, wrote in his own manifesto, “Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. No way to counteract without violence. Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch.” —quoted in Greg Myre, NPR

Preach it. We are longing for a “new story to explore, inhabit, and tell: To unmask the deceptive power of violence, to remove its magic sheen, and to show it for what it really is: a vicious, addictive cycle that creates a temporary euphoria, temporary order, and temporary unity, but in the long run, leads in a downward spiral ending in civilizational suicide.” —excerpt from “The Seventh Story” Lenten meditation by Brian McLaren and Gareth Higgins

Can’t makes this sh*t up. “I’m not worried about the moral issue here.” —one among 50 wealthy parents indicted by the FBI in a college admissions bribery scheme, focused on a college admissions counselor, Rick Singer, who claimed he had helped over 700 students get into prestigious universities through a “side door”

Call to the table. Alana Levandoski, “No Matter What Kings Say.”

The state of our disunion. "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?" —Rep.  Steve King (R-Iowa), in comments to the New York Times

Altar call.Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door,” Voices of Unity.

Best one-liner. “People don’t want to be criticized for what their ancestors did, but they surely want to hold on to the profits their ancestors left.” —@merelynora

For more background. “The twin hatreds: How white supremacy and Islamist terrorism strengthen each other online—and in a deadly cycle of attacks.” Sulome Anderson, Washington Post
        And “The New Zealand shooter shows how white nationalist rhetoric spreads.” —Jane Coaston, Vox

For the beauty of the earth. Take two minutes, turn up the volume as we leave you at a desert in bloom, at Southern California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Videographer: Lee McEachern. CBS Sunday Morning (Thanks Abigail.)

Benediction. “My guardian dear, / To whom God’s love commits me here; / Ever this (day, night) be at my side, / To light and guard, to rule and guide. / Amen.” —English translation of lyrics to “Angele Dei,” performed by the New Zealand Youth Choir

Recessional. “When the silence isn't quiet / And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe / And I know you feel like dying / But I promise we'll take the world to its feet / And move mountains / We'll take it to its feet / And move mountains.” —“Rise Up,” Lurine Cato and the B Positive Choir Performance, Westminster Cathedral

Lectionary for this Sunday. Consider these eight suggestions for interpreting 2 Corinthians 5:16-21: “There is a new creation: The Apostle Paul’s vision of the ministry of reconciliation.”

Lectionary for Sunday next. “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” —Isaiah 43:18-19, The Message

Just for fun (and in celebration of the start of the new baseball season). “Right Field,” Peter, Paul & Mary.

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Find a trailhead to the ministry of reconciliation: What should the Christchurch massacre prompt from us?

• “There is a new creation: The Apostle Paul’s vision of the ministry of reconciliation,” eight suggestions for interpreting 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Other features

• “Essay in celebration of the global Youth Strike 4 Climate movement: Choosing between Wednesday’s penitential ashes vs. the scorched aftermath of Earth’s burning

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