Thursday 31 December 2009

World News by Dallas Darling

Probably some people will - even angrily - disagree, but operettas generally have silly story lines. And what happened at a certain plane landing in Detroit MI at Christmas looks a lot like an operetta.
But consequences for the foolish young man from Nigeria and particularly for people in Yemen will not be silly at all. (Of course, there is no connection between the failed attempt to blow up a plane and the earlier military attack by the US at Yemen, how dare you even think of that!)

In the menu of indispensable my attention was drawn to an article with the title Still Trying to Monopolize the Arabian Peninsula which promises to give a historical perspective to this operetta.
It does. The author has the - to me - intriguing name of Dallas Darling. It turns out that the author has written a book called The other side of Christianaity the description of which sounds a lot like what I consider to be not the other but the appropriate side of Christianity.

Daily reflections on the news by Dallas Darling can be found on a site intriguingly called Beverly Darling. No, they are not one person, I think.

The year ain't over 'til it's over and it is never too late to make a discovery in a certain year.
See what you can conclude about Dallas Darling's position. (My preliminary idea: not an anarchist so not a Christian anarchist either but not far from the Kingdom anyway).

The photo illustrates Yemen as the Afghanistan of the Arabian peninsula, another worthy recipient of bombs from unmanned planes, or manned planes flying at 30.000 feet for that matter. Here I have written about it in Dutch.

Monday 28 December 2009

Tripp York book review

Here's a link to a very brief review of Tripp York's "Living on Hope while living in Babylon: The Christian anarchists of the 20th Century."

Summary: It's alright I suppose.

Andre introduced it to us here.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Invisble hands of all kinds

A cartoon reminiscent of the cover of a paper edition of APOS at the beginning of the year.
And so the year ends...

What is more rational or realistic - believing in a Father in heaven or an All Encompassing Love, or in this invisible hand? Just this one time let us ask the question.

May 2010 be a very special year for you and all of us, and for Christian Anarchism.

[For a good view of the cartoons, please click on them.]

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Divest all ye faithful

On 11th December, prominent Christian Palestinian leaders have released a historical Kairos Palestine Document, calling on churches around the world "to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land." Unambiguously endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as one of the key nonviolent forms of solidarity that international faith-based organizations are urged to adopt, the document affirms: "We see boycott and disinvestment as tools of justice, peace and security ..."

Kairos is an ancient Greek term meaning the right or opportune moment. The Kairos Palestine Document is inspired by the liberation theology, especially in South Africa where a similar document was issued at a crucial time in the struggle against apartheid. Informed by a lucid vision based on the universal principles of "equality, justice, liberty and respect for pluralism," Palestinian Christians issue this document today to explore a morally sound way out of the "dead end" reached in the Palestinian tragedy, "in which human beings are destroyed."

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) salutes the moral clarity, courage and principled position conveyed in this new document, which emphasizes that resisting injustice should "concern the Church" and is "a right and a duty for a Christian," adding that it is "a resistance with love as its logic."

The BNC keenly notes the importance of releasing this historical call on this day, 11 December, which marks the 61st anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, issued in 1948, calling for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes of origin "at the earliest practicable date." Whereas Palestinian refugees are still awaiting their return six decades later, we share the message of hope in today's Palestinian Kairos: "One of the most important signs of hope is the perseverance of the generations and the continuity of memory, which does not forget the Nakba (catastrophe) and its significance. This land is our land and it is incumbent upon us to defend it and reclaim it."

Particularly praiseworthy is the Kairos's emphasis on urging all churches to positively respond to the call by Palestinian civil society, including religious institutions, for "a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel," which, the document clarifies, "is not revenge but rather a serious action in order to reach a just and definitive peace."

The full document. [pdf, with alignment from "the other alphabet"]

Thursday 10 December 2009

An Open Letter to The Norwegian Nobel Committee, or: The Laureate pt.2

Kathy Kelly

On December 10, you will award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, citing "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." We the undersigned are distressed that President Obama, so close upon his receipt of this honor, has opted to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan with the deployment of 30,000 additional troops. We regret that he could not be guided by the example of a previous Nobel Peace Laureate, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who identified his peace prize as "profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time — the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression."

President Obama has insisted that his troop escalation is a necessary response to dangerous instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we reject the notion that military action will advance the region’s stability, or our own national security. In his peace prize acceptance speech, Dr. King observed that "Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts…man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation." As people committed to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are filled with remorse by this new decision of our president, for it will not bring peace.

Declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War, Dr. King insisted that "no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war…We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways… We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest."

We pledge ourselves to mobilize our constituencies in the spirit of Dr. King’s nonviolent and committed example. His prophetic words will guide us as we assemble in the halls of Congress, in local offices of elected representatives, and in the streets of our cities and towns, protesting every proposal that will continue funding war. We will actively and publicly oppose the war funding which President Obama will soon seek from Congress and re-commit ourselves to the protracted struggle against U.S. war-making in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We assume that the Nobel Committee chose to award President Obama the peace prize in full awareness of the vision offered by Dr. King’s acceptance speech. We also understand that the Nobel Committee may now regret that decision in light of recent developments, as we believe that the committee should be reluctant to present an Orwellian message equating peace with war. When introducing the President, the Committee should, at the very least, exhibit a level of compassion and humility by drawing attention to this distressing ambiguity.

We will do all we can to ensure that popular pressure will soon bring President Obama to an acceptance of the duties which this prize, and even more his electoral mandate to be a figure of change, impose upon him. He must end the catastrophic policies of occupation and war that have caused so much destruction, so many deaths and displacements, and so much injury to our own democratic traditions.

This prize is not a meaningless honor. We pledge, ourselves obeying its call to nonviolent action, to make our President worthy of it.

Jack Amoureux — Board of Directors, Military Families Speak Out

Medea Benjamin — Co-Founder, Global Exchange

Frida Berrigan — Witness Against Torture

Elaine Brower — World Can’t Wait

Leslie Cagan — Co-Founder, United for Peace and Justice

Bob Cooke — Regional Coordinator, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi Metro, DC and Baltimore

Tom Cornell — Catholic Peace Fellowship

Matt Daloisio — War Resisters League

Marie Dennis — Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Laurie Dobson — Director, End US Wars

Mike Ferner — President, Veterans for Peace

Joy First — Convener, National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance

Sara Flounders — International Action Center

Diana Gibson, Christian Peace Witness

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb — Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence

David Hartsough — Peaceworkers, San Francisco

Mike Hearington — Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition

Kimber J. Heinz — Organizing Coordinator, War Resisters League

Mark Johnson — Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Kathy Kelly — Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Non-Violence

Leslie Kielson — United for Peace and Justice

Malachy Kilbride — National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Kevin Martin — Executive Director-Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

Linda LeTendre — Saratoga [New York] Peace Alliance

Michael McPhearson — Veterens for Peace

Gael Murphy — Co-Founder, Code Pink

Sheila Musaji — The American Muslim

Michael Nagler — Founder, Metta Center for Nonviolence

Max Obuszewski — Pledge of Resistance Baltimore and Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Pete Perry — Peace of the Action

Dave Robinson — Executive Director, Pax Christi

David Swanson —

Terry Rockefeller — Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Samina Sundas — Founding Executive Director, The American Muslim Voice

Nancy Tsou — Coordinator, Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice

Diane Turco — Cape Codders for Peace and Justice

Marge Van Cleef — Womens International League for Peace and Freedom

Jose Vasquez — Executive Director, Iraq Veterans Against the War

Craig Wiesner — Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice

Scott Wright — Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore

Kevin Zeese — Executive Director, Voters for Peace

Along with delivering this open letter to the Nobel Peace Committee, activists will present it at a rally in Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 12th, 11 — 4

The laureate

"Our country needs women like you, Suzy."
"Well, mr. President, looks like you are taking care of that."


So you like my miniskirt, mr. President?

[See if you can think of another caption to this unmitigated piece of  propaganda].

Tuesday 8 December 2009

André House

Cannot resist wishing a house with such a beautiful name as André House in Phoenix Arizona the best for its upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary.
If the world were to get much better miraculously the best wish should be: not too many happy returns, please - in serving the homeless and poor.
But this miracle would be one we should work for.
Let's do it...

Friday 27 November 2009

Join the Circle of Peace

Fr. Louis Vitale, Pace e Bene’s Action Advocate, was arrested on Sunday morning, November 22 at Ft. Benning, GA as part of the annual gathering of thousands of people calling for the closure of the School of the Americas organized by SOA Watch. He and three others — Nancy Gwin, of Syracuse, NY; Michael Walli, of Washington, DC; Kenneth Hayes, of Austin, Texas — crossed into the base. All but Walli have posted bail and been released. Fr. Vitale previously served a three month prison sentence for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at Ft. Benning.

Further reading on the SOAWatch demonstrations of 20-22 November.

Fr. Louie Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly took a stand against torture.
Now it’s our turn.
Join the Pace e Bene Circle of Peace to support Fr. Louie and Fr. Steve as they serve five months in prison – and to lend your name
to their call for an end to torture and war.

Yes! I want to join the Pace e Bene Circle of Peace!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Speaking out for another defense

My first try was soawatch with the most likely extension.
It turned out to be a recruiting site showing how great the army is.
Which just goes to show what kind of cowards the people organising "defense" are at heart.

The School of the Americas-watch site is called I bet "they" did not change the name of this Torture Academy because where I come from soa is an acronym for "sexually transmittable disease".

Thousands are gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, standing up against oppressive U.S. foreign policy and speaking out in defense of real and direct democracy, for life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace. Photo by Linda Panetta

Sunday, November 22: 8:15 am, Gather at the gates of Ft. Benning for Solemn Funeral Procession remembering those killed by graduates of the SOA and nonviolent direct action to close the SOA/WHINSEC!

Friday 20 November 2009

Not following the straight and narrow

Sometimes I am forced to feel very Dutch. Like when I travel in the USA and next stop is announced: Van Buren - oh really - well, there is one difficult vowel in this, but if you learned to speak French or German the u should not be difficult.
That is how it works - having difficulty with the name of former prime minister Kok but not realising that the first name of former president Clinton in my language is Buttocks. Taking for granted that the whole world accepts the silly name Bill and giggling about Kok. (Both persons make me feel sad or angry, by the way).

Laughing about Herman Van Rompuy means that his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso had a name which was pronounced perfectly all the time. I can assure you, it was not. And actually, I can offer little help with the pronunciation of the name. An approximation of the uy-diphthong (usually spelled ui) can sometimes be heard in Scots pronunciation of ow or ou in general English. And I know no other European language where this diphthong is current - it is a Dutch specialty. Sorry buyt that (not really).
"Rompuy" definitely does not rhyme with "pompy" (don't tell me that is why they are rolling over with laughter about the new EU-president at the BBC!).
And I can give you an explanation of the meaning of the name. It means "from (a) wide path" - so not from the straight and narrow. A fitting name for a Christian democratic politician. (Not meant to be very personal - and probably the main reason Belgium was chosen is that it is both a member of NATO and defintely not of the Coalition of the Willing to invade Iraq, which would have made mr. Blair vulnerable of getting arrested as the war criminal he is, in quite a few countries - a truth British mainstream media conveniently want to forget).

I feel sorry for the people of the Southern Netherlands, since it will be difficult to find a new prime minister willing to preserve the state - which means the risk of having two new states or the even more abject idea of merging the Dutch speaking parts of the historic Netherlands. There is at least one state I want to keep for the time being, for the sake of civilised behaviour. It should not be necessary having to explain this, but I fear few people outside the Low Countries realise what I mean.

(The three bottles of what is considered by some the best beer in the world symbolise the three official languages spoken in Belgium).

Thursday 19 November 2009

Come my Eton fellows, er, Comrades, let us unite for the common man.

The Conservatives have announced there latest policy 'revolution'. Yes, that it, the tories are now using the word revolution to describe their policies. Fair play to them - this is what clever propagandaists to: they take the language of the other and co-opt, subvert, and redeploy it's energy into their own agenda. If you don't believe it just look at the gospel of Mark or the First Pauline letters.

So the Conservatives are having a "Big Bang Revolution" And it doesn't involved their already highly publicised wife-swapping policy. It's about the deregulation of the media in order to help generate monopolies that can compete with the BBC. Because poor old ITV etc are struggling to make ends meet.

So it's a dergulation policy then? Yep! And it's about creating a liberalised market that favours the rich at the expense of the poor? Yes again! It's a revolution, apparently.

Those piss-takers at Tory spin-Q have also come up with: "Genuine Schools Revolution"; a "decentralised energy Revolution"; a "revolution to break the cycle of crime"; a "Green consumer revolution"; a "Tourism Revolution"; "London Cycling Revolution"; "Apprenticeship Revolution"; "Skills Revolution"; "NHS Information Revolution" and even - and you really couldn't make this bollocks up unless you were in big-p politics - a "supply-side revolution".

Any talk of revolution on the left or the right is suspicious because it tends to be violent or in never-never-land, or both. Perhaps that's why it's one of the safest words to borrow: it was just sitting there and nobody was doing anything with it...

The most radical people I've met have been people who aim for a constant revolution of the heart. They challenge themselves to be converted to the point of view of their neighbour, to find ways to love and understand their enemies. To make sure that those who want to get at the poor have to step over their bodies to get there.

Colin Ward wrote about the anarchist society being like "a seed beneath the snow" and Jesus talked about a mustard plant (a creeping weed of a plant) speading slowly but providing shelter. Neither of these are the posturing images of revolution that the Conservatives are about to pummel us with as they drew up to their billowing heights for the next general election.

So us ordinary folk will have to sit out another bloody (sic.) revolution: getting on with our ordinary lives of loving and living: building a new world in the shell of the old. Until this old-etonian revolutions finally realise how thoroughly redundant they really are.

Hasta la vicotoria: Siempre!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Wired to the wireless

In case you have not heard the interview on Tolstoy's anarchism with Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, last year on KPFA - here is your new chance:

More to come on that channel...

Here comes the judge

A lovely story which reminds me of my first acquaintance with Christian anarchism in present day Europe, the Ploughshares Movement - a judge who showed respect for the motivation of the axe man. Rare, but not impossible.

- On Wednesday, November 4, 2009 the Omaha and Des Moines
Catholic Worker communities and friends held our fourth annual protest
and ‘Die In” at the Qwest Center in Omaha at SRATCom’s Space Weapons
Bazaar called the Strategic Space Symposium in Omaha NE, Nov 2-4.
The effort began with a group of over 30 people gathered across the
street from the main entrance of the Qwest Center at 11 a.m. We moved
in mass across the street to the main entrance, set up our “Space
Weapons = Death” banner. We gathered around the banner and read of our
statement. (See a copy of the statement below.)
After the statement was read a number of people, including the 8 who were arrested laid down on the ground in front of the banner, enacting a “Die-In”.

After 5 minutes people were called to their feet and directed to take the “Die-In” into the Qwest Center where the Space Weapons Bazaar was taking place.  The protesters were stopped just inside the front doors by Qwest security people and Omaha police officers. The protesters proceeded to reenact their “Die-In” just inside the building at the feet of the security people and police.  Our statement was reread.
Qwest security people informed all protesters to leave the building or face arrested. All but eight people left the building. Each of the eight was asked by an Omaha police officer to leave the building or face arrest.  All eight were place under arrest, hand cuffed and walked out the of the building into a police van or police car.

Among the eight people arrested was 91-year-old Peg Gallagher, “Grand
Dame of the Omaha Peace Movement”. Peg was ticketed and released right
on site. The seven other people who were arrested were taken to the
Douglas Co Jail, processed by the police and charged with City of Omaha ordinance “20-155 Request to Leave” - a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a five hundred dollar fine.  The seven were:
Fr. Jack McCaslin, 80, Omaha, NE
Mark Kenny, 52, Omaha, NE
Daniel McCarville, 22, Omaha, NE
Friar Louis Vitale, OFM, 77, Oakland, CA
Fr. Jim Murphy, 55
Steve Clemens, 59, Minneapolis, MN
Frank Cordaro, 58, Des Moines Catholic Worker, Des Moines, IA
The four Omaha residents were cited and release and given a Dec 9th



Amazing Day in Court!

By Frank Cordaro, Des Moines Catholic Worker
Nov 5, 2009
The four out of state “Space Weapons Bazaar” protesters who were 
arrested Wed. Nov 4th at the Qwest Center in Omaha spent the night at 
the Douglas County Jail. We were Fr. Louis Vitale of CA, Fr. Jim 
Murphy of WI, Steve Clemens of MN and me Frank Cordaro of IA. We were 
all charged with a City of Omaha ordinance “20-155 Request to Leave” a 
misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of six months in jail 
and/or a five hundred dollar fine.

On Wed Nov 5th we appeared before Judge Darryl Lowe in what is called 
”jail court” with sixty other Douglas Co Jail inmates at 1:30 p.m. for 
what turned out to be the most entertaining and perplexing two hours I 
have ever spent in a court room.

Jail courts are the places where people who get arrested and booked 
into county jails, and do not bond out, get to see a judge for the 
first time. This is the time when most inmates can plead guilty or 
innocent, be assigned a court appointed attorney and have their bail 
reviewed. The vast majority of inmates who appear in these jail courts 
are poor and people of color. Ninety percent plead guilty, knowing 
”you get the justice you can afford” in this country and if you’re 
poor, you’re better off pleading guilty and doing the time up front 
than pleading innocent and doing more time awaiting trial, a trial in 
all likelihood you would end up losing whether you are innocent or 
not. It’s not a pretty picture to watch. It’s often done with out 
feelings or human concerns for those being judge.

This time it was different. The officer who talked to the sixty of us 
before we were lead into court told us that Judge Lowe is a very 
different kind of judge. “He’s liable to ask you the strangest of 
questions.” The officer was not wrong. In the two hours we spent 
before Judge Lowe he made inappropriate comments, 
asked questions way beyond the scope of his professional obligation 
as a judge, and delved into people’s personal non-legal issues.

Yet Judge 
Lowe was also one of the most caring and humane judges I have ever 
seen work from the bench. Beyond his extremely large public, 
entertaining ego, he showed real concern for the people who stood 
before him. For those who plead guilty, he went to great efforts to 
find a sentence that really matched what the inmate needed in order to 
make right for the crime committed and help them get their lives back 
together. Judge Lowe meted out justice that day unlike I have ever 
witnessed in a court of law. It was justice with a heart.

Before the court session started Judge Lowe made some introductory 
remarks. Among them was his admonition that people take personal 
responsibility for their alleged activities. “If you are innocent, 
plead innocent and if you are guilty plead guilty. And if you plead 
’no contest’ you better have a good reason cuz I don’t take lightly to 
people who are just trying to not take responsibility for their 
As the two hour session was coming to a close it was clear the judge 
was speeding up his pace, wanting to be done by 3:30 p.m. The order of 
the cases was presented to him from the most serious to the least 
serious. We four protesters were the last four cases of the day. We 
were all in our orange jail-issued outfits.  By the time Fr Louis 
Vitale was called to the bench we were the only ones left in the court 
room, with the judge, the prosecutor, the two court recorders and the 
four jail police officers.
As Fr Louis approached the bench the 
prosecutor told the judge that the last four of us were all here from 
the same charge and that the arrest took place at the Qwest Center the 
day before. Judge Lowe did not even look at any of the paper work. He 
talked about his being at the Qwest Center on many occasions for 
concerts and basketball games. That was all he needed to know. Judge 
Lowe asked Fr Louis “What do you plea?”

“No contest,” said Fr Louis.
And before Fr Louis could say anything else Judge Lowe said, “Five 
days!” and pounding his gavel saying, “If you had plead guilty it 
would have been three days. Next.”
Fr Louis was dumbfounded. He tried to explain to the judge that all he 
wanted to do was make his plea and ask that the sentencing be 
postponed until the four local Omaha people went to trial. Fr Louis 
needed to be on a plane Saturday morning for a speaking engagement and 
Mass obligations Sunday. A five day sentence would make it impossible 
for him to make his commitments. Judge Lowe would hear none of it. He 
pounded his gavel and told Fr Louis if he wanted to appeal the 
sentence he would have to come up with a $100,000 bond! “Next,” shouted 
the Judge Lowe as the guards led Fr Louis out of the court room.

Fr Jim Murphy approached the bench. And Judge Lowe asked him “What do 
you plead?”
“No contest” said Fr Jim, and then he immediately changed his plea to “Guilty!”
“Three days” said Judge Lowe pounding his gavel. “Next!” shouted Judge 
Lowe as Fr Jim was lead out of the court room.

Steve Clemens approached the bench. By this time everyone had a chance 
to catch their breath. Judge Lowe finally asked Steve, “What were you 
guys doing at the Qwest Center in the first place?” Judge Lowe just 
assumed the four of us were arrested for intoxication. He just thought 
we were four old drunks.

Steve said, “Your honor, we were there to protest the Strategic Space 
Symposium. We were there to protest the selling of space weapons 
technology to STRATCom!”
And from the inmate sitting area, I shouted out to the judge, “And you 
just sentenced two Catholic priests to jail!”

“Catholic priest! Protest!” exclaimed Judge Lowe as the blood went out 
of his face, “Bring those two priests back before me. Give me their 
files.” The judge asks me to join them all at the bench. We explained 
to him what our nonviolent protest was all about. He congratulated us 
for our witness. He said he believed in nonviolent civil disobedience. 
He said more of it needed to be done. He told us his father was active 
in the civil rights movement in the south. He added, “of course I was 
only four years old at the time.”  He shook each one of our hands.  Fr 
Louis knelt down with his hands raised in prayer and thank God for the 
Judge’s change of heart.

We were all sentenced to time served, given a pat on the back and in 
essence told ‘Job well done good and faithful servants! He ended the 
session by saying “I hope you all come back again next year!”
I have never ever been treated so well. Justice, not necessarily the 
Law was served that day in the Douglas County Jail.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Vigil on 11/11

There are worse ways to give November 11th content or meaning than participating in this:


 Wednesday 11th November, 6-7pm
Parliament Square (opposite Parliament) Westminster SW1

Vigil for Haiti and Honduras, the two poorest countries of the Western hemisphere and - undoubtedly not by coincidence - two countries where the elected president was hijacked abroad by putschists supported by a Nobel Peace Prize winning regime.

Apologies for the late mention, but rather late than never.

Thursday 5 November 2009

The day we went to Bangor - 6

Five People Arrested on Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor

The Disarm Now Trident Plowshares Action

Bill Bix Bischel, S.J., 81, of Tacoma, Washington; Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore MD;  Lynne Greenwald, 60, of Bremerton, Washington; Steve Kelly, S.J., 60, of Oakland, CA.; Anne Montgomery RSCJ, 83, of New York, New York, were arrested on Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor. They entered the Base in the early morning hours of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system.  They entered through the perimeter fence, made their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility - Pacific  ( SWFPAC) where they were able to cut through the first chainlink fence surrounding SWFPAC, walked to and cut the next  double layered fence, which was both chain link and barbed wire, onto the grounds of SWFPAC. As they walked onto the grounds, they held a banner saying "Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral",  left a trail of blood and hammered on the roadway (Trigger Ave. and Sturgeon) that are essential to the working of the Trident weapons system, hammered on the fences around SWFPAC and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They were then thrown to the ground face down, handcuffed and  hooded and held there for 4 hours on the wet, cold ground. They were taken, hooded, and carried out thru the very holes in the fence that they had made, for questioning by Base security, FBI and NCIS. They refused to give any information except their names, and were cited as of now, for trespass and destruction of government  property, given a ban and bar letter and released.

In a joint statement, the group stated that The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under International Law and, therefore, under United States law.  As U.S. citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor.  Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being.

There have been approximately 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, łGod will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.  In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal.<  The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea  and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system.  Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb.) The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.  The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

[These dispatches were sent to me by Ms. Cohen - a truly even more disarming detail. The snapshot of the sunflower was taken in the garden of a convent to which I retreat regularly.]

The day we went to Bangor - 5

Hand delivery
Captain Mark Olsen
Commander US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
120 South Dewey St
Bremerton, WA 98314

YOU have been involved in the housing, deployment and threatened use of immoral and illegal nuclear weapons on Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor.  These weapons and their delivery systems include Trident submarines, Trident II D-5 missiles, and W-88 and W-76 nuclear warheads. These weapons, and their delivery systems, threaten the destruction of other nations and people and as such constitute violation of International Law and of Ruling of the International Tribunal of Justice of 1996.

You are hereby notified that effective upon receipt of this letter that the disarmament of all nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor is to begin immediately and continue until all nuclear weapons are disarmed and removed.
You are further informed that delay or failure to begin disarmament will lead to the prosecution before the International Tribunal of Justice of all naval and civilian personnel responsible for the delay.

This barment letter is issued for the protection and security of people, animals, and all creation of our world.

Any compelling reason for naval or civilian exemption from prosecution by the International Tribunal can be entered with the secretariat of the International Tribunal.
(Address; International Tribunal, International Court of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands)

Steve Kelly, S.J.      
Lynne Greenwald        
Anne Montgomery, RSCJ          
Bill Bichsel, S.J.

Disarm Now Plowshares Bios

Steve Kelly, S.J
.  During his religious formation in our inner cities, in Sudan, Africa, as well as refugee work in Central America following ordination, he encountered the messiah, Jesus incarnate in the poor.  At the same time, the relevance of Jesus as a real shepherd inserting himself between the danger of wolf or thief and the flock in his care inspired this Jesuit to try to imitate Jesus.  His current collaboration with Catholic Workers and the Pacific Life Community confirms the analysis that the nukes represent, just in their making, a contemporary larceny from the poor, while the wolf, the imminent danger of their use, demands the embodiment of Isaiah 2:4. Will that hammering wake us, those professing faith in a loving God, from our idolatrous slumbers?

Lynne Greenwald is the mother of three children and has worked professionally as a Registered Nurse, Family Therapist and Social Worker for nearly 40 years.  She has also been actively involved in the Nonviolent Peace Movement since the mid-1970s. Lynne moved to Kitsap County in Washington State 26 years ago to join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and to become a neighbor to families involved with the Trident Base and other facilities in this predominately military community. łWhile the existence of Trident is obvious, the truth of Trident's nuclear threats and illegality remains hidden.  My action of conversion today is one committed out of love for all life.ł

Anne Montgomery is an eighty-three year old Religious of the Sacred Heart and former teacher in high schools and programs for dropouts and learning disabled children.  As a member of the Gulf Peace Team in 1991 and of Christian Peacemaker Teams from 1995 to 2009 she served in Iraq and Palestine.  Since 1980 she has been active in the Plowshares movement and other forms of civil resistance to U.S. militarism, especially nuclear weapons.  Since 2005 she has also participated in Witness Against Torture and the Free Gaza boat trip to open the port of Gaza.  She acts now to support all efforts to convert weapons of death into resources for human life, especially for the most neglected and oppressed of the threatened earth.

Susan Crane is the mother of two sons, and has taught at a school for marginalized youth in California.  More recently she has lived at Jonah House, a nonviolent community in Baltimore, which speaks out against all warmaking, and specifically nuclear weapons. Aware that we take better care of nuclear weapons than of our nation's children, and that we spend more than half of every federal tax dollar on warmaking rather than human needs, she acts to transform these weapons of mass destruction to life- giving materials.

Bill Bichsel, a Tacoma native, entered the Jesuit Order in 1946 and after studies and teaching was ordained a Jesuit in 1959. He has served in parishes, taught in high schools, and was Dean of Students at Gonzaga from 1963-1966. In 1969 he returned to Tacoma where he served at St. Leo's Parish for over 7 years and then co-founded the Tacoma Catholic Worker (Guadalupe House) which offers hospitality and transitional housing to the homeless. The Guadalupe Community lives in the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker foundress.  Bichsel still resides and serves at the Tacoma Catholic Worker-one mile from where he was born and raised. He has served jail and prison terms many times for his resistance to the violence of the Trident nuclear weapon system and the violence of the S.O.A. training at Ft. Benning, GA.  He believes that unless we, the American people, actively work to abolish nuclear weapons we as a people will continue to threaten destruction to the global community and continue to deprive the poor of the world of resources necessary for life.

The day we went to Bangor - 4


I will purify you from the taint of all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.  I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my Spirit within you and make you conform to my statutes.˛ Ez. 36:25-27

We walk into the heart of darkness, the Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor, housing and deploying over 2,000  nuclear warheads for Trident submarines.  By their very existence they are endangering the environment, threatening  the indiscriminate destruction of life on earth, and depriving the hungry, homeless, and jobless of billions of dollars that could supply human needs throughout the world.

The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under international law and, therefore, under United States law.  As U.S. citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor.  Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being.

We are called by Isaiah to take seriously our own responsibility to act as citizens of the nation that subjected the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the hell of nuclear bombing and its deadly consequences.  The United States continues to research and develop even more inhumane weapons of mass destruction.

We are called by Ezekiel to transform our own hearts and to invite all those whose hearts are hardened by blindness, fear, and mistrust of the łother˛ to allow theirs to be transformed into łhearts of flesh:˛ disarmed, compassionate, and generous.
We bring carpenters' hammers to symbolically transform these weapons of death into material useful for homes and factories.  On this day of remembrance, All Souls Day, we bring our own blood in solidarity with the victims of war, who are invisible to those who target them.  We bring sunflower seeds to plant the hope of new life in this violated earth.  We intend to beat swords into plowshares as one step up the holy mountain where all nations can unite in peace.

At the beginning of the International Decade of Disarmament, we join with the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2020 Vision Campaign to abolish all nuclear weapons by that year at the latest.  Nuclear weapons can never be guardians, defenders, or upholders of peace.  They are sheathed in stainless steel and metal coverings that conceal the evil incarnate lying within.  They are filled with death-dealing agents that tear apart humans and leave survivors scarred for life.  They leave no place for human care for the thousands who suffer and die in agony.  Nuclear weapons are a lie.  Their łprotection˛ is an illusion.  They must be abolished.
God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.˛  Isaiah 2:4
                                                                                Washington State
November 2, 2009

Steve Kelly, S.J.                 
Lynne Greenwald                      
Anne Montgomery, RSCJ              
Susan Crane                
Bill Bichsel, S.J.

The day we went to Bangor - 3

Fact Sheet: Trident Submarine & Missile System

Trident submarines serve as the sea based nuclear launch system of the Air, Land, and Sea Nuclear Triad supported by the US government. The U.S. currently has 14 nuclear-powered Trident ballistic-missile (SSBN) submarines.  Trident submarines are 560 feet in length, or nearly two football fields.  Each submarine can carry 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) designated Trident D5 and each missile can carry up to eight 100 kiloton nuclear warheads (about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb).

 The Trident D5 missile stands 44.6 feet high and originally had a range of 4,230 nautical miles with a full load of warheads, and up to 6000+ nautical miles with a reduced load of warheads. Upgrades and Life Extension Programs may have changed some specifications.  Warheads are either Mark-4/W76 or Mark-5/W88.

  • 100:         Number of kilotons on ONE Trident W76 warhead
  • 455:       Number of kilotons on ONE Trident W88 warhead
  • 345,600:  Total number of kilotons deployed on Trident fleet
  • 14:            Number of kilotons on atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima
  • 150,000:  Number of people killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
  • 1,028 minimum; 4,885 maximum:  Number of potential Hiroshimas  each Trident is capable of destroying

  • $66,000,000:  Price of ONE Trident II D5 missile
  • 14:          Number of nuclear- armed submarines the Navy wants to deploy through 2042
  • $60,000,000:  Cost of health insurance for 60,000 children
  • $10,000,000,000:  Annual cost of providing sanitary water to 2.4 billion people worldwide who now lack it
  • $59,000,000,000:  Cost of building housing for 6000,000 homeless families in the US
  • $170,200,000,000 (low estimate):  Total cost of the ENTIRE Trident program through year 2042

Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor is located 20 miles west of Seattle on the deep waters of Hood Canal in Washington State.  It is the home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2,000 nuclear warheads. This is approximately 24% of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor Base presently houses more nuclear warheads than the countries of England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea combined.

 There are eight Tridents based at the Bangor Base; six operate out of Kings Bay, GA.  The Trident submarines at Bangor are likely to be used first in any nuclear attack, either as an isolated tactical assault on a specific site, bunker, or weapons location, or in a larger strategic nuclear attack. The D5 missile is capable of traveling over 1,370 miles in less than 13 minutes, allowing for a US nuclear strike anywhere on planet earth within 15 minutes.

The day we went to Bangor - 2

Lethal force

by William J. Bichsel, S.J.

On November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, by the grace of God I choose to enter the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor Washington. I wish to walk to the idolatrous place of nuclear weapon bunkers where lethal force is authorized to guard the hiding places of the most lethal forces in the world.  I wish to walk in solidarity with the poor of our world who live with lethal force constantly directed against them. My vulnerability to this lethal force is minimal compared to the lifetime vulnerability of the condemned of our world. My compelling reason for entering the Trident Submarine Base is to be present at this Auschwitz place in order to witness in faith to the transforming power of Jesus' non-violence and Resurrection which can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh and compassion. At this place of global death and hopelessness I wish to witness in faith to the life giving and transforming power of this presence which can expel the demon of violence from the hearts and minds of people possessed by the need for nuclear weapons. I believe the life giving power of the Resurrection can flow over the nuclear death machine and stop its destructive force. Compassion can then grow in hearts and minds of people who have been liberated from the prison of fear and violence.
Millions upon millions of people throughout our world live with lethal force being directed against them. Our brothers and sisters and children live in war ravaged places where violence reigns and starvation, disease, absence of medical resources, absence of shelter eventually bring death. One hour from our shores in Haiti, where one in twelve children do not reach the age of five, parents give children mud cakes made of earth, oil, sugar and salt to diminish the effects of hunger pains. From the Sudan to Sub Saharan Africa, mothers watch as their infants and children become emaciated with swollen stomachs and lifeless eyes then die. All of these lethal forces are authorized.

 In the U.S., except for the poor, we have been protected and insulated from the death sentences under which half of the earth's population lives. The drive for security has numbed our citizens to accept nuclear weapons as the ultimate protector of the American way of life. In effect this choice means the acceptance of the use of nuclear weapons if the United States considers itself threatened. The people of the United States accept the deaths of millions of people if a preempted strike is ordered. Thus the use of lethal force is authorized.
 Across our nation there are vast numbers of U.S. citizens who face lethal forces directed against them which are not as immediate or instantaneously murderous as the lethal forces directed against the 3rd world poor. In our capitalistic system there are many who will not receive the health care, education, employment, appropriate housing and nutrition needed to live full human lives in this culture. These forces attack the body, soul and spirit of our citizens which eventually bring death of the spirit and then the body. This is especially true of one segment of our population - the mentally-ill, who live on the streets, under bridges, in door ways, jungle camps or in jails and prisons. They belong nowhere. They die. These lethal forces are also authorized.

 The continued possession of nuclear weapons by the United States means that resources that could be used to divert the lethal forces that are now killing the poor of our world will continue to be used to fuel the killing machine.

 Father Richard McSorley, S.J. has maintained that łthe tap root of violence in our society is the acceptance of nuclear weapons.˛ We must bend our efforts to make known the Non Proliferation Treaty Review which will take place on May 2, 2010 at the United Nations. By our presence we must insist that the NPT Review Committee in the very near future organize a nuclear weapon global conference of these treaty nations which will set a firm date for nuclear weapon abolition.

The day we went to Bangor - 1

Some thoughts about going onto Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor

by Susan Crane

All Soul's Day, Nov. 2, 2009

Today in the US more and more people are coming to food pantries, needing food for their families. The numbers of home foreclosures increase, leaving families homeless; unemployment increases; and many, even those with health insurance, can't get their basic health needs met. Class size increases as teachers are laid off and dropout rates increase. Many returning vets must struggle for benefits. States are near bankruptcy, and our infrastructure is falling apart. And day by day climate change threatens us all.

As a nation, we know all this. We experience it personally, and hear it on the nightly news. But what we don't hear is that there may be solutions to these problems. We need to look at where, as a nation, we are allocating our resources: where do our federal tax dollars go? Where do our brightest and best scientists find work? Where do our idealistic and dedicated youth end up? We know that over half of every federal tax dollar is used for warmaking. And we know that the American people never have a chance to vote on a bond issue for the next fighter plane or nuclear weapon. Every dollar that is used for warmaking, killing or planning to kill other people, is a dollar that is not used for human needs, or healing the earth.
Here in Washington state, I was thinking about the Trident submarines which have nuclear warheads on them, and are constantly roaming the oceans. There are 8 subs homeported here at Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor. And each of these subs carries 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, and each of the missiles carries multiple nuclear warheads. Some of the warheads are 32 times the explosive heat and blast of the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

The Trident subs are stealthy, and at sea their location is secret. They can launch nuclear weapons to anywhere in the world in 15 minutes, which is a constant threat to people in other nations. Here in the US we don't live under a threat like that.
My faith tradition teaches me that we are to love our enemies, to love one another. Planning to kill others is not an act of loveŠIndiscriminate killing of whole cites of people, animals and plants is not an act of love.

Here in the northwest where the Trident subs are homeported, the land is beautiful; the trees are aromatic; the water is healing. And I hope that we come to our senses and experience this land we live in, and realize that we-and people all over the earth-are brothers and sisters. There is no łus˛ and łthem˛. As individuals and as a nation; we all have good in us; we all have a shadow side. We can all work together if we choose to.

With hope for peace and disarmament, the five us, Steve Kelly, S.J, Lynne Greenwald, Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, Bill Bichsel, S.J. and myself, go to Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor on All Soul's Day. We remember the 150 million people killed by warmaking and related consequences of war in the last 100 years. It is in solidarity with all who live in lethal force zones that we enter the lethal force zone on the naval base.

We bring our own blood to pour on the missiles, nuclear weapons, trident subs, or perhaps on the railroad tracks that carry the weapons. We pour our blood to remind us all of the consequences of warmaking. We bring hammers to enflesh the words of Isaiah to hammer swords into plowshares. We bring sunflower seeds to sow to begin to convert the base, and we bring disarmed hearts in hope of a disarmed world. I go onto the base with the support of all at Jonah House, in Baltimore, carrying their prayers in my hip pocket.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

London Catholic Worker jailed

Zelda Jeffers appeared at Bedford Magistrates Court on Monday November 2nd. She was sentenced to 16 days in prison for refusing to pay a fine of £450 for a 'No Borders' protest at Yarlswood Immigration Detention Centre.

She has been sent to HMP Peterborough. Asuming Zelda gets half off for 'good behaviour', she should be released on Monday 9th November, probably in the morning.

If you want to write to her or send her a card of support, you can

- post a letter (although the postal strike obviously makes it seem unlikely to get through before Monday )

- either to the prison at:
Zelda Jeffers BD3976,
HMP Peterborough,
Saville Road,
Peterborough PE3 7PD

- or to us at :
London Catholic Worker,
16 De Beauvoir Road,
London N1 5SU

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Rethinking and doing 'A Pinch of Salt'

I'd like to propose the following:

1. That "A Pinch of Salt" explore formal links with ASIRA part of the Anarchist Studies Network and form an accounable group who give editorial direction.
2. That the tag-line change from "Christianity and anarchism in dialogue" to "Religion and anarchism in conversation and action".
3. That the scope of the content be broadened to include different faith perspectives (outside the Christian tradition).

Friday 23 October 2009

Anarchist Bookfair

Better late than never, probably - time to announce the Anarchist Bookfair in London, 24th October 2009.

As capitalism collapses around us in the market of ideas the anarchist pound is buoyant and the 28th London Anarchist Bookfair is back at Queen Mary College in London’s East End. A big thank you to everyone who helped make last year’s bookfair run smoothly and to you all for respecting the space. last year we have 38 meetings, 90 stalls, an all day cabaret starring assorted ranters, poets, singers and comics; all day film showings and, two kids spaces. We are planning more of the same in 2009.

Stalls will again be split between the Great Hall and the Octagon room, which means that there will be more space and the whole bookfair will be wheelchair accessible. Please contact the info stall for wheelchair lift passes if you need one. If you have any other access requirements, please let us know in advance if possible so we can meet your needs. If you are Deaf and require BSL interpreting and/or speech-to-text provision, please give us as much notice as possible and we will do our best to organise these.

To discuss any specific access needs, please contact us At the bookfair please go to the info stall for further details.
Next to the Octagon room will be an all day tea, coffee and snack stall (until 6pm).

The creche will be signposted, and the ‘older kids room’ is also in the basement below the Octagon Room.

We have loads going on - see the rest of the website, for a run down of the meetings and other events. More will be added as we get nearer to October.

Please don’t forget this is all organised by a small collective – so any help would be very much appreciated. This year, more than ever, we need your donations to break even – the room and table hire have gone up and we may be over a grand down again. So, any donations or funds from benefit gigs would come in very handy.

Getting to the venue
The venue for this year's London Anarchist Bookfair, for the 3rd year running, is Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS.

If you are coming by public transport the following buses stop near the college on Mile End Road: 25; 205; 339.

If you are coming by tube the two nearest stations are Mile End (Central line / Hammersmith & City line or District line) or Stepney Green (Hammersmith & City line or District line). From Mile End tube come out of station and turn left. Walk along Mile End Road until you get to Harford Street and entrance to venue is opposite Harford Road. From Stepney Green tube come out of station and turn left. Walk along Mile End Road and venue entrance is on your left opposite Harford Road.

Website of the fair.

Monday 19 October 2009

Marcia Powell

Marcia J. Powell, a mentally ill prostitute and drug addict, died like a dog last week, roasting in a cage in the fearsome sun at the state prison at Perryville.
She was 48 years old.

Her final tortured hours in an outdoor enclosure last Tuesday mimicked those of a five-year-old law-enforcement canine named Rik that died at Perryville in 2007 after having been left by handlers in an exercise run for three hours. Temperatures that day reached 105.

The temperature in Powell's cage last week exceeded 107. She was locked up for an hour longer than the dog before she collapsed.

There are many questions to be answered by the Department of Corrections about Powell's final hours. But her death is only the gruesome exclamation point on a long list of institutional failures that got her there.

DOC officials say that Powell had a rap sheet going back decades and included at least 10 sex and six drug convictions. She'd been in and out of Arizona prisons since 1994.

Records indicate that she left home in California at 15 with a ninth-grade education, no marketable skills and a serious mental illness. A presentencing report describes her as bipolar.

Last summer, she was sent to prison for more than two years on a prostitution charge.

"It's awful the way this woman died," said Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform Inc., which for years has advocated for Arizona inmates and their families. "No one cared much about her when she lived. I hope at least that we care about the way she died."

DOC is investigating the incident. Several employees already are on administrative leave.

After Powell collapsed, she was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. A DOC spokesman told me that the department was unable to locate any family members.

So when the time came to decide whether to pull the plug on the machines keeping her alive, it fell to prisons Director Charles Ryan. Powell was taken off life support at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday; she died at 12:42 a.m. Wednesday.

"The death of Marcia Powell is a tragedy and a failure," Ryan said later. "The investigation will determine whether there was negligence and tell us how to remedy our failures."

I'm not so sure.

For one thing, DOC should not be conducting the investigation. It should fall to an outside agency. The governor should demand it.

According to Hamm, she contacted then-prisons Director Dora Schriro in late 2007 about the practice of placing prisoners in outdoor cages.

"Because no one had died or had been permanently injured, I couldn't get anyone - including the press - interested," Hamm said.

Questions like that are only a beginning.

Powell's horrific death and her woeful life should finally get us to ask why Arizona's failed mental-health system transforms county jails and prisons into mental-health institutions.

It should get us to ask why we criminalize people like this but don't adequately treat them, since it's clear that taxpayers end up footing the bill for their care one way or another.

Powell told state officials that she had two children who were given up to foster care, but DOC says the state has no record of that. Police also checked the address of a name she'd listed as a friend on prison records but found no one living in the abandoned house.

In spite of spending years in the system, Powell's life remains a mystery. Her death is a tragedy, although perhaps not on the level of Rik the law-enforcement dog.

There was a public outpouring for him.
From the Arizona Republic, 24th May 2009.

Remaining question: who needs compassionate care most - the woman who was put in a cage in the scourging heat or those who thought it a good idea of making such a cage and putting a living being inside of it.
You need not decide, just think about it.

Free Marcia Powell!

Friday 16 October 2009

Nevada Desert Experience

Few if any in Indian Springs expected up to 100 Anti-War Activists to brave
the heat of the desert and the wrath of Pro-War forces, to descend last
week upon Creech AFB located on the eastern edge of their town.

Several activists though felt so strongly about halting the military’s use
of the drones, they did expect to risk arrest Monday as they attempted to
meet with the base commander to dialogue about their abhorrence to the
military’s – and that base’s in particular – use of unmanned aerial
vehicles to hunt down, track, and kill human beings 7000 miles away: i.e.
drones against people in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers kiss their families good-bye in the morning, come to Creech, sit
behind a computer console, grab their joy stick, and click the mouse to
unfurl bombs on people” Leeza Vinograv, a CodePINK spokesperson, states

Activists from various groups as CodePINK:Women for Peace, Pace e Bene,
WILPF (Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom), and Progressive
Democrats came from around the country to Creech to partake in this second
“Take 5 Days of Action Against the Drones”. The first 5 Days took place the
beginning of July and another 5 Days is tentatively planned for the end of

“All weapons of war are horrific” Marie Bravo from CodePINK asserts,
“Drones are not merely yet another, and the latest, appalling weapon: they
are as odiousness and unconscionable as dropping nuclear weapons on human
beings, killing 50 civilians for every 1 ‘bad guy’ targeted by the CIA
and/or the military.”

Activists came to Indian Springs to participate in non-violent direct
actions against the drones. On Sunday over 30 activists were arrested for
civil disobedience at the old nuclear test site.

On Monday, 5:00am activists donned white apparel and face paint and held a
funeral march down highway 95 passed the north entrance to the AFB, through
Indian Springs to end up at the southern end of the AFB.

Several were then arrested and charged with such misdemeanors as
"Pedestrian on the Highway", "Obstructing the Police", and "Walking on the
wrong side of the Highway".

Other protesters continued the demonstration with a wailing where women
carrying small caskets and photos of war devastation, mourned the lives
destroyed, especially the lives of the children.

A huge banner declaring "DRONES: Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill
Them" was held by several demonstrators. Other signs included: "Kill
Drones, Not People" and "War is NOT a Video Game".

Later that evening, 8 activists were arrested for civil disobedience,
“Disturbing the War” Father Louis Vitale, one of the arrested and a Pace e
Bene spokesperson quips, as state patrol officer Symansky, the arresting
officer, mutters “They are non-violent and non-compliant.”

5 other arrests were made for various charges as “Pedestrian on the
Highway”, “Obstructing the Police”, and “Obedience to a Police Officer”. In
addition traffic citations were issued for honking the horn and failure to
use a left-turn signal as well as driving with a crack in the windshield.

The police often outnumbered protestors, especially on the last day of
protests when only 4 activists were still in town attempting to hold a
large “Peace” banner and a picture of the real face of war for soldiers
entering the base.

“Pilots of Drones and manned bombers as well do not get to smell the stench
of war or see the pain and suffering their click of a button reeks on human
beings” CodePINK says. “We are attempting to bring the Real Face of War to
these pilots. They need to know the truth of their actions.”

The four demonstrators that last day were met by at least 20 police
officers from three different agencies, as well as 4 mounted police on
horseback, and several military observers. One demonstrator was arrested
for “obstructing the police” as she attempted to video the police officer
50 yards away citing another demonstrator for honking her horn in support
of peace.

“I feel sorry for these soldiers who are going blindly to another country,
risking their lives and limbs, killing innocent people for my right to
protest – and here they have to watch me being arrested for attempting to
exercise that very right” says the arrested member of CodePINK Xan Joi.

- A dispatch from the Nevada Desert Experience.

Sunday 4 October 2009

As of January 1st....

Christian anarchism has been around for at least as long as “secular” anarchism. The existing literature cites Leo Tolstoy as its most famous (sometimes even as the only) proponent, but there are many others, such as Jacques Ellul, Vernard Eller, Dave Andrews or the people associated with the Catholic Worker movement. Both individually and collectively, these Christian anarchists offer a compelling critique of the state, the church and the economy based on numerous passages from the New Testament. Yet despite the relevance and growth of this literature, no generic study bringing together these different thinkers or reflecting on their contribution has been published to date, because such work involves meticulous searching, compiling and structuring of countless different texts and sources, not all of which are easily accessed. This book, however, provides precisely such a study, and thereby presents Christian anarchism to both the wider public and the wider academic community.

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos' thesis, announced by the publishers, where you can order it with a discount (it still is pretty expensive).

Saturday 3 October 2009

Goodbye Google-eye

The best or worst example of a service going down down and deeper down thanks to the profit motive is the original company that has taken over the hosting of this very site. Some ten years ago - I worked for the Royal Academy of NL at the time - I was introduced to this brand spanking new search engine which really was the thing to use for anyone who wanted things worth while to know from the internet. The name reminded me of a John D. Loudermilk number, a song about the pleasures of fishing - not fit for kind-hearted vegetarians.

Ten years later - the search engines it pushed out of habitual use and hence "the market" are forgotten if not gone without a sound. The search engine has become a verb.

Some weeks ago I searched for a place in the French region of Picardie. All results I got were either in English or Dutch. That was not the way to really get into the place I was looking for, but I had to trick the search engine into giving results in French - a language, as Search Engine has decided for me, I cannot read.
The same goes for results I would like to have in Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese or German - or any other language I might even vaguely understand for that matter. Search Engine decides I want English or Dutch. Even when you trick it it will yield mostly results in the language of Empire and the language of my IP-number.

One of the reasons behind this decision must be that there are no interesting advertisements to be shown to my IP with results in any other language.
And there you have it. Big Brother selling effort!

It was the best search engine for the internet, there was money to be made with it and the money is now the most important bit. The search engine is running into the ground before our very eyes. It is becoming more useless by the day.

Some former workers at the well-known Search Engine are running a counter-engine which is emptied from the Results You Want And We Want You To See Because Of Commercial Value.
It might be good as long as it lasts.
Bookmark it!

Wednesday 30 September 2009


Not having a warning system on every weblog I keep, I only noticed this week that the question was asked whether there is any literature of Felix Ortt, main Dutch Christian anarchist, in English.

I know of some pedagogical works in French and Spanish (officially published in Argentina or Cuba after the judicial murder of Francisco Ferrer), but not in English. I had the pleasure of reading this one
Godilieve: an adaptation by Wilfred Wellock of a fable by F. Ortt of Holland
in the domed reading room of the British Museum (I might as well have written doomed, because it was closed to the reading public soon afterward). A magnificent thunderstorm ended my session, which gave symbolic weight to the experience.

It is one of the many edifying stories he has written and I am at a loss why the title was changed - because Godilieve would be easier for Anglophones? It makes no sense.
Godelieve is a mainly Southern (Flemish) girls' name, meaning Dear to God. It should be pronounced as [Chohdeleeveh], the Ch as in Scots loch but softer.

Alright, start twisting my arm so there may be more of or about Ortt in English soon...

Mysticism and action: Christian anarchism as a paradigm

[This is the last piece I salvage from the Geocities-site Christianarchy. It is a lecture given at the University of Bergen, Norway, August 2000. Perhaps - especially when readers would be twisting my arm about it - I will write about the circumstances surrounding the conference at which I gave it. For now I thank Dr. Horst Jesse for having given me the opportunity and a framework to study and speak about mysticism and Christian anarchism.]


Mysticism is generally associated with resignation, with calm observance "of that which is God's", not with action or with resistance. This is a mistaken or incomplete view.

Actually, only two years ago - it is documented, because it was what I reported at a Conference in Haifa - I thought there was a contradiction between action and mysticism. I inferred this from the history of Dutch Christian anarchism around 1900: after "having seen the light" it organized as a movement, people involved thought they could make see by giving the right example that the woes of the world could be solved. It ended in tears and regret, and a turning towards the mystical roots, especially toward protestant mysticism. Action, or resistance, seemed to precede mysticism. Of course, this was a simplification, because Ds. Louis Bähler, one of the main figures in Dutch Christian anarchism, stated that this "turning" towards mysticism meant recognizing "the mystic vein that ran through our movement all along". My idea of only two years ago was that "action" can only imply "doing things actively", which of course is etymologically a proper idea. Still, seeing it that way, one gets barred from the idea that mysticism is a call for action, for radical action even, but for action different from that of the Dutch Christian anarchists before they went to their "mystical roots".

I had been studying the lives of those who played a key role in the American Catholic Worker Movement and was already approaching my new way of looking at the relation between mysticism and action, when someone mentioned Dorothee Sölle's Mystik und Widerstand: Du stilles Geschrei to me. I am glad I was made attentive to this book, because I really would not have thought about ever taking note of Sölle's writings anyway - call it prejudice, or call it judgement based on criticism by writers I value. I must say I still think it is an irritating book by an irritating writer - but I must admit it is also a treasure of ideas of all kinds of thinkers whom I would have thought of even less than of ms. Sölle. And her idea of democratizing mysticism without trivializing it, and against the general trivialization of the world of "Western" consumer capitalism, appeals to me and seems completely compatible with the strivings of Peter Maurin, to whom I shall turn now.

Peter Maurin was born in 1877 as a peasants' son in Occitania. In his younger years he was a member of the Young Catholic Action group Le sillon, which advocated a stressing of good peasant ways of living and a turning away from industrialism. [Generally, such movements are being called "reactionary", which seems to suggest that there is a linear logic which dictates the direction human society is moving towards. Of course, there is not.] Whilst being a member of this catholic society Maurin read socialist and especially anarchist writers, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Peter Kropotkin being the most impressive to him. He leaves Le sillon and emigrates to Canada (1909), trying to work as a farmer, which does not succeed, he moves to the United States in 1911 and becomes an itinerant worker. For about twenty years he lives on the road for most of the time, talking to or arguing with anyone who wanted to listen or even did not want to listen and spreading his message of catholicism and anarchism, mixed with English guild socialism or Distributism and increasingly with French personalism.

It all adds up to a special message of elementary christian anarchism. It has been laid down in books mainly called Easy essays, or sometimes Green revolution. Although his ideas fit in completely with non-political "green" strivings, his "green" refers to the Emerald Isle: he calls for a return to the practice of Irish monks who in his view brought civilization to Europe. It means building hospices, places where the poor and the sick can stay, where round table discussions are being organized "for clarification of thought" and where people can learn a trade, be it agricultural or other. Cult, culture and cultivation, that is what these houses should be about. It is being realized, though not according to his ideas, in the Catholic Worker Movement, a pioneering lay movement on the edge of the Roman Catholic Church, and as far as I know the only movement which specifically combines catholicism and anarchism.

One of Maurin's Easy essays says that for ordinary people "politics is just politics, and mysticism is the right spirit". His life after the start of the Catholilc Worker is very well documented, before that time it is not - and he seems not to have been willing to tell about it. Which makes it difficult to see if there was a particular moment of his meeting God, which we tend to associate mysticism with generally. His mysticism can be seen as living the life of whom he called "the Ambassadors of Christ", the poor. One of his maxims: if everybody wants to be the richest, everybody will be poor; if everyone tries to be the poorest, nobody will be poor". One of the others: "we must work for a society which makes it easier for people to be good". It is tempting to quote from his Easy essays, which leave so much to think about they really cannot be called that easy. Summing up: Maurin's mysticism is that of the identification with Christ in the poor.

The other founder member of the Catholic Worker Movement is Dorothy Day, a journalist of episcopalian descent, born in the US in 1897. In her late teens and twenties she belongs to the radical circles of New York and Chicago, apparently she was a member of the communist party for some time, later she was in touch with the anarchist minded Industrial Workers of the World (she does not mention having had her "Kronstadt", the affair with bolshevism seems to have been superficial). She is married to an anarchist artist and expecting a child when she gets the urge of becoming a Catholic. At least, she wants her child to be catholic, and she is told she has to convert herself too. This she does, and paradoxically it leads to her divorce, in 1927.

The mystical striving for unity with God seems to be this urge to become part of the Corpus mysticum of the Catholic Church. Why this, and not go back to the own tradition? I think it is not being explained satisfactorily, at least as far as the non-catholic onlooker can see - and that is why I choose this feverish urge to be part of Christ's mystical body to be the defining mystical moment in Dorothy Day's life. After she joined the Catholic church she still identifies with the radical worker movement, and regrets that the Church does not show any solidarity towards these movements - mysteriously she ignores the record of the Church's recent history e.g. in Spain. After she has joined the Catholic Church some quiet sets in, but not for long: the discontentment about the lack of a radical Catholic worker movement grows, which can only be strengthened by the Depression. And then she meets Peter Maurin, in 1932, who seems to share her idea about this catholic movement. They start a paper, the Catholic Worker, which is launched on May Day 1933. Peter Maurin wanted it to be called "Catholic Radical", but "Man proposes, woman disposes" as he sadly remarks.

Along with the paper a House of Hospitality is started, according to the idea of the Green Revolution. The Houses somehow do not work in the way Peter Maurin had proposed. The care for the poor, the function of soup kitchen and sleeping place for the Ambassadors of God turn out to be the main function of the houses. This, in combination with the own liturgy of the houses, is the Cult side of Maurin's idea. The Culture side has been developed gradually in later years: it seems to be the action against the preparing for war which goes alongside with welfare consumer capitalism. The Cultivation still has to make itself known.

Reading Dorothy Day is entering a different world: she writes about things which might be called trivial, but she never is trivial - and she blesses ordinary things and creatures with a spirit, given form by the (deuterocanonical) Canticle of the Three Young Men. This is her everyday mysticism: there are no ordinary things or creatures, there is no ordinary time, there is no ordinary work. Living the life of the poor, working for the poor, actively resisting preparations for war until the end of her days - in the protestant sense she certainly lives a sanctified life. Even during her life it was said that she ought to be declared a saint, to which she replied: "I do not want to be dismissed that easily." Let there be hope for the Catholic Church it does not need a special anarchist saint.

Thomas Merton may be called a Christian anarchist, but he did not have the time to consider if that would have been a branding that suited him. He would not have wanted "to be dismissed that easily", I suspect - even more than the Dutch christian anarchists or Dorothy Day he stresses that leading a saintly life and striving for peace is a general Christian idea. Christian, to him means Roman Catholic.

The story of his conversion is less acceptable still to a non-Catholic - to me at least - than Dorothy Day's story. Merton's background is anglican, while a student he is convinced that he is a non-believer, he joins the communist party (he does not mention anything about his membership except his party name), but gradually dissatisfaction and the realization of spiritual emptiness take control of him. Reading English literature he gets gripped by Love by George Herbert, he is inspired by William Blake on whom he writes a thesis, but what touches him most is Etienne Gilson's Gifford Lecture The spirit of mediaeval philosophy. I hope I see right when I conclude that reading this book does prepare him for the Catholic Church as against turning back to the church of his baptism.

From his autobiographical Seven storey mountain which I take as the prime source for his conversion one can hardly conclude that he leads even according to today's standards an immoral life. He does not mention it, one has to read it in a biography written by someone else. This omission indeed makes the "inner voice" which calls him to convert to catholicism and nothing else, and to become a monk, hardly bearable. We do not get to hear "the other voices". There had to be a "Nihil obstat. Imprimatur" in the book. It adds to the feverishness of his will to become a Catholic - again, to join the corpus mysticum. The pressing inner voice is what I would call his introduction to mysticism, if not his mysticism proper.

After his conversion quiet resignation takes the place of all the unrest - perhaps the most feverish about Merton after he joins the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani in 1941, is his wish to become a recluse. This wish is only granted in 1960, at a time when he has made the acquaintance of the Catholic Worker Movement, without which - as he stated later - he never would have been a real catholic. His hermits' days are also the hottest in the Cold War. Merton starts to speak out for catholic action against war, for non-violent opposition to the permanent preparing for mass murder - inspired by the Sermon of the Mount, of course, and by Thoreau and Gandhi. His writings in the Catholic Worker were a call to action for a whole new generation of catholics, the most well-known of whom are the Berrigan brothers, the faces of radical action against the war machinery at this moment. So having got his impulse to radical commitment to the peace movement from the Catholic Worker, he acts as an impulse too. Merton's radical action against war is prayer - he fully believes it makes a difference.

Allie Neill writes that he never met a man of 53 who did not know what he wanted to become. Thomas Merton died of an accident at this age, while on pilgrimage in Asia - and actually I wonder what might have become of this man had he had time and chance to get deeper into East and South Asian religion and perhaps into anarchism. We must conclude God did not want Merton to be a denial of what Neill said. He was born in 1915, so we still can see that he is being missed at this very day: for his role in the Church, for his passion for peace.

From the story of these people around the Catholic Worker Movement might be distilled a model - I know, it is difficult, maybe even unbearable to conclude to some kind of model whilst talking about mysticism, but it is a way of applying some ordering to what we can know. It seems to be a scale or ladder according to which mysticism and action are integrated.

First there is the general call by the world's injustice: identification with the oppressed, the poor, the working class. For Dutch Christian anarchists - practicing modern Hervormd and for the most part even churchmen - these were the workers who seemed only to be able to forget their misery in alcohol. For people who seem to be estranged from their religion, like Day and Merton, this also is the phase in which they join radical atheist movements which promise "pies in the sky when you die" - socialism in some distant future.

The second stage is the inspiration by writers who represent both Gospel and struggle for a better world, or transcending this world - which may be the same. For Dorothy Day this writer seems to be Fëdor Dostoyewsky, especially his "Brothers Karamazov". For Thomas Merton it is both George Herbert and William Blake, completed by Etienne Gilson. For Dutch Christian anarchists this is, like for most Christian anarchists, mainly Lew Tolstoy. For them, not being estranged from religion in the first place, this also is the call to action for changing the world - not with the rancour or illusions movements like the communist party were selling, but still with the idea of "giving the good example for people to follow": starting self managed industries, living in communistic communities. It ended in proverbial disaster. This phase I call "dawning mysticism": the idea of living according to Christ's teachings takes root, but it makes a false start.

The third phase is that of "mystical union". Obviously, for Day and Merton it is joining the Catholic Church, for Dutch Christian anarchists it was rethinking their mystical roots. It is indeed followed by some resigned calm. For Dorothy Day and Dutch christian anarchists this period does not last long, for Thomas Merton it takes nearly twenty years. Then it is time for a crisis, accompanied by a second call from someone who could appropriately be called starets, having Zosima from the Brothers Karamazov in mind. For Dorothy Day this is Peter Maurin. For Thomas Merton it is Dorothy Day, and certainly pope John XXIII too. For Dutch Christian anarchists it is the World War, which later got its number, they have different startsy, the ones they have in common are - paradoxically - the younger people who join in with the movement against conscription, in 1915. Felix Ortt, one of the few who does not get jailed during the World War, turns to Lao Zi and tends to put Tao above Christianity in his long remaining years.

After this second calling the fifth phase - the crisis point being the fourth - sets in: the real integration of mysticism and action. It is a working in the realization that things can only be done in the here and now - the Kingdom of Heaven is amongst you or within you, but it is NOW, not in some illusory future. NOW it is time for poor to be given soup, coffee and bread. NOW is the time for peace, which can only be lived in prayer: there is no way to peace, peace is the way - this is the action all have in common in this phase. All the way to heaven is heaven, as Dorothy Day quoted Teresa de Avila. Of course, there is the possibility of making other people see what they have not seen yet, but this is being done without the idea of a future break in worldly history. Revolution is a process to be lived by living people, it is not to be made by a new form of worldly government, and the time is now. The process takes long, still, but there is the Certainty - mysticism as the right spirit.

As a postscript I can add that Dorothee Sölle in "Mystik und Widerstand" identifies mysticism with anarchy - not having any authority on earth, either government or church officials. Here indeed is where she seems to prove that christian anarchism is what she calls the democratization of mysticism - not a paradox but a paradigm, and though I rather hate to admit it because I still take offense of her style of writing, and though I offer a different "scale" from hers - in the final analysis we seem to agree.