Tuesday, September 09, 2014

if anyone stumbles...

if anyone stumbles, drawing by rob g

Young people leaving the church. Young people being kicked out of church, or kicked out of their homes by their religious parents. Because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or whatever, and by whatever, I mean whatever - sexual orientation or otherwise.

I'm tired of it happening, and it makes me sad and mad. Where did we lose Jesus?

If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:6 NIV


I don't generally get super-angry and riled up when I read about rebels in some other country killing school children, or large corporations avoiding labour laws and increasing profits by moving their operations to other countries. It's wrong, and something should be done about it. But I don't get super-angry, because "that's what you expect from rebels" and "that's what you expect corporations to be doing". (Perhaps my non-anger is a problem, but we'll leave that for another post).

But once in a while I read an article which makes me really angry, because I expect more of those who are doing wrong. 

Case in point:

A recent Rolling Stone article gives this disturbing finding from a recent study:
Highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay – a finding that social-service workers believe goes a long way toward explaining why LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless-youth population.
So much for "the least of these."

Read it for yourself if you want something to be angry about.

The next two cartoons were inspired by reading this article...

Believe Out Loud also has a shorter article about a recent video/audio recording which received broad exposure on the internet, of a set of Christian parents rejecting their gay son.

Friday, September 05, 2014

[making friends among the taliban, by jonathan larson]

Making friends with the Taliban?? You gotta be kidding me!

Yet that is what this book is about: a Christian peacemaker spending decades in Afghanistan and, in the process becoming friends with the Taliban.

"[C]hildhood friend Jonathan Larson retraces Dan’s work in Afghanistan over almost four decades. During the successive power struggles among royal regimes, the Red Army, warlords, the Taliban, and the American-led coalition, Dan inspired small Afghan communities to seek a sweeter destiny for themselves. Using a cascade of interviews and eyewitness accounts, this moving narrative of Dan’s life and friendships in Afghanistan offers us all a model for authentic living wherever we are." (from the book site)

My first knowledge of the book came from reading a review at the Raven Foundation, and that was enough to show me my own prejudice towards the Taliban, of whom I only knew what the western media told me. I have now read the sample chapter, and am hoping to get hold of the book to read the entire story.

One quote: 'His Afghan friends claimed, “In the greatest commandments of our scripture–to practice humility; to be generous to widows, the orphans, and the poor; and to be selfless and persevering in the search for justice and peace–Dantri was more Muslim than we Muslims.”'

Book site (includes trailer, sample chapter, study guide and more).
Review with mimetic focus (at Raven Foundation).

Making Friends among the Taliban: A Peacemaker's Journey in Afghanistan
Jonathan Larson
(Herald Press, 2012)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

blessed are the peacemakers

blessed are the peacemakers, cartoon by rob g

This cartoon was inspired by one of my sons posted on FB a saying that starts with "Bombing for peace is like... " and ends with a rude but true phrase. And then, well, my brain took over and came up with this cartoon.

What do you think?

As an alternative, I had considered altering the great commission from Matthew 28:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and bombing for peace wherever you go.

Monday, September 01, 2014

[letters from apartheid street by michael mcray]

Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine chronicles the three months which Michael McRay spent with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank.

Here's one brief snippet:

"As they approached the end of the Old City, one of the soldiers in the back turned and quickly pointed the barrel of his weapon into an elderly man’s shop.  The store owner sat out in front, his head just beneath the level of the gun’s barrel.  He simply looked up at the soldiers passing his shop, bowed his head, lifted up his hand, palm upwards, and said, “Ahlan wasahlan (you are most welcome).”  His response so caught me off guard I laughed out loud.  Here was an Israeli soldier, a member of the military occupying this Palestinian man’s land, who walked the streets of Hebron to protect the Jewish settlers who were illegally taking more and more land from this man and his people.  In short, there walked his enemy.

And this Muslim man extended his hand in humble invitation.  Resistance." (source)

Read McRay's story of darkness cannot drive out darkness.

Richard Beck's review at the Christian Scholars Conference, focusing on the temptations to hate, to heroism, and to despair that he feels any passionate and activist Christian would face.

Author's website: michaelmcray.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

how to tell if an Amish person...

intersectionality, or how to tell if an Amish person is gay. Cartoon by robg

A light-hearted look at how one might be able to tell that an Amish person is gay or lesbian. Inspired by a book cover which features a real photo similar to the drawing in the upper right.

And yes, there are websites for LGBT people who are Amish (example).

Monday, August 25, 2014

[fighting stereotypes about aboriginal people]

KC Adams, a Winnipeg artist, has created a series of photographs to fight against stereotypes about aboriginal people.

The series consists of paired photographs, one with a slur with question marks, the second giving the person's name and some words describing them.

Kim Wheeler portrait. Part of Perception series by KC Adams

What do you think?

Five more photographs and background information on the series:

Artist's website.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

[buffalo shout, salmon cry]

Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together is the title of a provocative new book published by Herald Press.
"How can North Americans come to terms with the lamentable clash between indigenous and settler cultures, spiritualities, and attitudes toward creation? Showcasing a variety of voices both traditional and Christian, native and non-native "Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry" offers up alternative histories, radical theologies, and poetic, life-giving memories that can unsettle our souls and work toward reconciliation.

This book is intended for all who are interested in healing historical wounds of racism, stolen land, and cultural exploitation. Essays on land use, creation, history, and faith appear among poems and reflections by people across ethnic and religious divides. The writers do not always agree in fact, some are bound to raise readers' defenses. But they represent the hard truths that we must hear before reconciliation can come."
More info on this book, including links to reviews and to two podcasts by the Editor.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

[tim's place - a gift to the world]

Video link

This is a "feel good" story about Tim Harris, a young man with Down Syndrome, who had big dreams and they came true. Quite amazing. But there's two other things that are worth mentioning:

The personal touch that comes from Tim hugging almost everyone who comes in the door. 

How different from the fast food restaurants that we frequent! And perhaps also different from "the peace" at church where many only shake hands and some do not even look into the other's eyes.

Secondly, in the video, Tim says, "I do not let my disability crush the dreams. People with disabilities, they can do anything they set their minds to. We're special. We are a gift to the world."

We do not often think of those who are different from us, and especially those who are at the margins, as a gift to the world. They are also a gift to the church, making it a richer place, yet how often do we think about this? And how broad and deep are we willing to see the gift as being?

Friday, August 08, 2014

peace in palestine

turn or bomb. cartoon by rob g

It's strange how ideas and beliefs can slip in almost unnoticed.

An excerpt from the prayers at a Sunday morning church service:
We especially today pray for the Middle East, for the people of Israel and the Gaza Strip that a permanent ceasefire may be accomplished, that the people of Gaza will accept the existence of Israel as the rest of the Arab world has, so that Hamas will stop firing rockets into Israel forcing the Israelis to retaliate with their much stronger military. We pray to you, Lord, for all the innocent people killed or wounded on both sides and for the great despair of all people everywhere in refugee camps.
At communion I am told:
The blood of Christ shed for you.
And I wonder, was it also shed for the Palestinians?

At the end of the service we hear:
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
And I wonder, what kind of peace and at what cost?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

[a muslim movement that says, we are all Christians]

Here's some remarkable news from Iraq.

Militants who are part of the "Islamic State" have begun marking a red Arabic "N" on the homes of Christians, N standing for Nazarene, to identify them as enemies who need to convert.

In response, a group of American Christians working in Iraq with the Preemptive Love Coalition began tagging photos with "#WeAreN." That's interesting, but not remarkable.
Arabic letter "N", used to indicate those who follow the Nazarene (Jesus) and subsequently, by Muslims to indicate their solidarity with those who are persecuted

What's remarkable is that shortly thereafter, Muslims and other minorities realized that "if one group is marked, we are all marked" and began marking themselves with the "N" to say "We are Iraqi. We are Christians." In other words, while not changing their religious beliefs, they proclaimed their solidarity with their Christian brothers and sisters who were being persecuted.

Is that kind of like the good Samaritan being the one who helped the man who had been robbed, after the priest and the Levite walked on by?

Read the whole story of "Behind #WeAreN: 'If One Group is Marked, We're All Marked'.