Monday 22 February 2010

Christianity and anarchism conference 2010

Thy will...

Sunday Mass at Ush Ghrab, occupied territory Palestine, Sunday 21 February 2010.
Israeli soldiers and people attending mass converse in the language of the former colonial power.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Being headline news once more

If you are not familiar with the face (you are of course, but you think of a fictional character, don't you?): this has been the prime minster of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the past 7 1/2 years. He presided over four cabinets and is now ready to fix a fifth. Rather incredibly, the Dutch Labour Party pulled away because of the colonial war in Afghanistan (they never did it because of other colonial wars).
The words mean "have fallen", it is a joke on a certain telephone company which no longer exists or is existing again or - whatever.
A joke that has to be explained is awkward anyway. It already circulated three months after Balkenende took office so he may already have reached the books of holding the most and least successful of cabinet offices. At least, in NL.

Shamefully, the Christian Democrats and the Light Version of Christian Fundamentalists, the other two coalition parties in Balkenende IV, wanted to prolong Dutch participation in the Afghanistan colonial war. Oddly, the openly racist party that may be the largest after the early elections due in May 2010, supports the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The best way to get rid of these racists seems to be a sixth cabinet presided by Balkenende (if the Christian democrats succeed in being the largest party). It would be the best recipe for a short spell for the racists, who do not have a programme apart from muslim bashing. It all depends whether the officially politically organised Christians are willing to fully extend their war plans to the population of NL itself. It is always best to stay out of the headlines.

For now, brothers and sisters, I command you to God, awaiting in fear and trembling what is coming (but still with a smile about the picture above).

Monday 15 February 2010

Colin Ward

Colin Ward has died. This is a sad thing indeed he was great. You may well have read 'anarchy in action' by Ward. He was known best for his writings on architecture and for being an editor of the East London anarchist magazine, Freedom.

One of my favourite anarchist misquotes that I appropriate theologically is "the kingdom of God is always with us, like seeds beneath the snows of injustice." He wrote something more like, "an anarchist society is always with us, like seeds beneath the snow."

Wednesday 10 February 2010

A way to become an anarchist

For the night I made a list of pieces for the radio programming, starting with an interview with a poet.
Instructions - for reasons that completely escape me - at the computer were in Polish and my Polish does not go beyond tak and nie and a few phrases like that.
So after I left I noticed the programme that started was repeated on and on for hours on end.
But that was not the worst part.

The worst part was that the colleague who presented the repeating hour, an amiable divorced father of two children, casually mentioned that "of course" there was a period in his life when he went to prostitutes. The poet at the other side of the glass concurred. "Of course".

As far as  I can see there is nothing "of-course-like" about this. I take the liberty of making myself THE norm for this. For me, there is no other way to look at it. If I do not do it, why should I consider your behaviour as "normal" or "natural"?

And as if it had to happen, on the same day through the blogroll of A Pinch Of Salt I came at this place, whence I reached this place. From which this quote:

And all men who used me look the same.
One way I remember is through the staring of men before, during and after they used me.
It was a look where I could not believe in hope. In that stare, I lose that I was human.
I became a sex object.
I feel that look send fear into me. I feel it turning me into an obedient sex toy.
That stare has enter my nightmares.
I want to to see beyond that stare.
I know I was raped by rich African students. Men who were expecting to be rulers.
Sometimes when I view governments from all countries and cultures, I think of the tortures those men put me through.
Men like that made me an anarchist.

The weblog of the woman who wrote these words and yet another one.

I cannot think of anything more to say about this now.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

A veritable labyrinth of lovarchy

The liberal (in the US sense) site Truthout carries an article on what muslims have to say about teaching nonviolence.
Fair enough and recommended reading.
It will land you at a site which sadly is not active anymore: the contents of a journal on (the study of) nonviolent action from Berkeley, CA, Peace Power. This is the story which the Truthout-piece is referring to. The journal will get you through its three years of existence at all kinds of places, including the (non-existing?) Roma Country, which is the world.

By all means, explore the journal - you will find this one on the question whether Gandhi was an anarchist. Not the first time, but the question will come up again and again.

This article may bring you to a new labyrinth, lovarchy, which in turn directs you to a particular branch of the Catholic Worker. There we are,with the federal arrestees of the day trip to Bangor.

I hope you will enjoy your surprising journey.

Friday 5 February 2010

The end of Aka-Bo

Just when I wanted to start writing about the apparent need for white Europeans to see (tropical) islands as pieces of paradise on the one hand, and the wish to end this condition as harsh and as quickly as possible on the other hand, I hear the news of the passing of Boa Sr, the last person to speak Aka-Bo, a language of Great-Andaman. The news item pictures the language as one of the oldest in the world, which sounds like a wild guess and which does not make the loss worse. A loss which depends on the fate of the people that spoke it.

The islanders were marginalised at their own place. The Danish sold the islands to the United Kingdom as if they were entitled to do that, and the UK acted like it was entitled to make it a penal colony for people from India, where the UK acted like an entitled power too. The original people have been deported to an islet which is meant as a reservation, the archipelago is being prepared as a tourist destination. Guess who will be visiting...

More about the people of the Andaman islands here and here (in a sense disturbing pictures welcoming you).

  • A call to help the surviving Andamanians.

  • The fate of the Andamanians runs parallel with that of the Chagossians, for whom you should sign this petition.

Thursday 4 February 2010

A very short but informative introduction to Dorothy Day

An extraordinary weakness of Christianity is that it has become respectable. The word Christian conjures up images of sober, upstanding, solid, safe and responsible citizens. One wonders if a combination of those terms is not in fact a betrayal of the essence of Christianity. When you read the Gospels you are left strongly with the impression that Christianity has little to do with respectability.

One of the constant criticisms of Jesus by his opponents is that he was not respectable enough. Jesus kept bad company, hanging out with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and other unreliable characters. One modern Christian who combined a deep faith with a radical lifestyle was a lady called Dorothy Day. She is not well known on this side of the world but she made a huge impact in the United States in the 20th century and I would like to share her story with you.

Further reading.
One comment on this piece of Fr. Ultan McGoohan: to infer from a novel that the author has experienced what the protagonist experiences is the wrong way to read a novel.
Presumably Dorothy Day had an abortion, but we cannot decide that from a novel. As far as I am aware Day never concedes to this event.

h/t Christian Radical

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Who would Jesus shoot? - the sequel

Baptist minister, nonviolent educator and activist for Pace e Bene Australia Simon Moyle writes in the The Age :

The Australian Defence Force has swiftly removed biblical references from soldiers' gunsights manufactured by US company Trijicon. The gunsights, which some US Army commanders have dubbed ''spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ'', have scripture references stamped next to their serial numbers.
These revelations have once again raised questions over the connection between religion, particularly Christianity, and violence. As a Christian and a church leader I could not be more appalled at the distortion of Christianity these inscriptions represent. It seems timely then to make a solid defence of the non-violence of Christianity. As the great Indian independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi, said: ''Jesus Christ is the most perfect example of non-violence in history,'' and paused before adding, ''And the only people who don't realise this are Christians.''

Of course, there have been times throughout history when people have invoked the name of God or Jesus to justify their violence. However, this should not be confused with genuine Christianity, even when it is sanctioned by high ecclesial authorities.
The Christian church remained faithful to the non-violence of its founder for the first 300 years of its history, as even those in the military who converted refused to bear arms. It was only when Christianity became imposed by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century that Cicero's ''just war'' theory was adapted to justify Constantine's plundering.

Non-violence itself is often mistaken for passivity. This is a misnomer - one must be actively engaged in the struggle against violence and oppression to be non-violent. Non-violent people not only refuse to threaten, hurt or kill those who oppose them, but they actively engage the other's humanity, seeking their opponent's transformation as well as their own and those they defend. This is what the church was intended to be - a non-violent army transforming the world not with a gun, but with active love.
However, non-violent action sometimes raise tensions or causes disruption to the status quo, as Jesus frequently demonstrates. While he overturns the tables in the temple and drives out the sheep and cattle (saving them from being sacrificed), he never hurts anyone. But he is absolutely not passive.
His teachings also consistently bear this out. ''Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,'' Jesus taught. ''Put down your sword; those who live by the sword die by the sword.'' One wonders what might have been had Trijicon's gunsights been inscribed with these verses.

Even Jesus' teaching on ''turning the other cheek'' has been misunderstood. As biblical scholar Walter Wink shows, this command is actually creative non-violence at work. ''If someone strikes you on the right cheek,'' Jesus says, ''turn the other also.'' With the left or ''unclean'' hand unavailable to a 1st century Jew for anything other than toilet use, one person striking another on the right cheek could only mean giving a backhanded slap. Such a blow is symbolic - in a hierarchical system it is intended to maintain domination over a social subordinate. But Jesus' advice is clear - if someone attempts to treat you as less than an equal, turn the other cheek. By so doing, you invite them to strike a blow with a fist - a blow only inflicted between equals - or to back down altogether.

But the heart of Christianity's non-violence is the death and resurrection of Jesus. Refusing to defend himself with violence when his accusers come to arrest him, Jesus goes so far as forgiving those who kill him. But for Christians it's the resurrection that drives the commitment to non-violence - not only does it vindicate Jesus' non-violent way, but it proves that even death is no barrier to God.

Of course, faith in the resurrection (or any religion for that matter!) is in short supply these days, but it is not required for non-violent movements to succeed. This way of accepting suffering rather than meting it out has seen non-violent movements all over the world win justice for their people: from the US civil rights movement, to people power in the Philippines, the colour revolutions in Eastern Europe to the Norwegian and Bulgarian resistance to Nazism.

It remains clear that those who claim to follow Jesus cannot do so while ignoring his commands, let alone the way he lived. As my friend Jarrod often says, ''killing for Jesus makes about as much sense as shagging for celibacy.''

The final sentence sounds familiar - was it not about fighting for peace etcetera? The author is puzzled about the consistent changing of the spelling nonviolence into non-violence in the above.

We wrote about this earlier.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

If all else fails, arrest them

 A small group of demonstrators were not allowed to stand outside of  Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in Lompoc, California around 1 pm on
 Sunday, January 31. They came to voice opposition to a U.S. test of part of an anti-ballistic missile system. In the first test of its  kind involving Vandenberg, an ICBM launched from the Marshall Islands  was aimed at southern California. The Ground-Based Interceptor  launched from VAFB, about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, lifted
 off at around 3:45 pm, but it did not succeed in shooting down the target which was launched six minutes earlier from the other end of
 the Ronald Reagan Test Range. One of the “anti-testers” required ambulance transport before processing after being injured by the
 military police. No one crossed the line outside of the main gate, and
 people were not allowed to stay, even in the designated protest area.
 8 of ll participants were arrested. First to be cited were two people
 with existing “ban-and-bar” notices from previous arrests and
 detainments. MacGregor Eddy of Salinas and Dennis Apel of Santa Maria,
 were cited immediately, even though they didn't cross onto base
 property, were in the designated protest area and identified
 themselves as instructed.
 The eight were cited for a “Violation of Security Regulation.” Apel
 and Eddy were additionally cited for trespassing even though they
 didn't cross the base's painted line. When asked why she was given two
 tickets, Ms. Eddy was told by one of the the arresting officers, “One
 is for showing up and one is for being here.”

 A woman in her 80s, Jude Evered of Goleta, CA was held on the ground
 by two security guards with one soldier's knee in her back. Her
 booking was interrupted because she had to be taken to the hospital in
 an ambulance for a shoulder injury she sustained after she was already
 in custody. Evered, is with the Women's International League for Peace
 and Freedom and is a frequent participant in weekly vigils there. She
 was later released, unprocessed by authorities, nor had she been
 escorted by police or military police to the hospital. Dennis Apel commented,
 “What they did to Bud (Boothe, another octogenarian and longtime
 Vandenberg Action Coalition member from Los Olivos) in November was
 also harsh.” At the time MPs spun Bud around by his handcuffed arms,
 cutting him in three places.

 Jorge Manly-Gil of Guadalupe, CA refused to give any information. He
 was last known to be held at the Lompoc City Police holding cell.
 “They completely dismantled the demonstration,” said long-time
 organizer MacGregor Eddy. She went onto reiterate that the base was
 told well in advance of the demonstration which was initially
 scheduled for January 21, as was the interceptor test, both of which
 were grounded due to large southern California storms at the time.
 Anyone not arrested were given their own ban-and-bar letters even
 though they were in compliance with base policy. The question that no
 court has been able to hear, much less decide is whether or not such
 notices can legally be applied outside of the fenced area of the base.
 The reason is that the prosecutor has never prosecuted any such cases
 for a court to decide. For many years, the southern California ACLU
 has refused to assist long-standing peace vigilers in the past. A
 lawyer and legal observer was on site on Sunday, and there is renewed
 determination for base protest policies and questions of jurisdiction
 to be resolved in court, even if private attorneys need to be retained
 and the southern California ACLU remains seemingly indifferent to a
 clear violation of the First Ammendment rights to speak and gather.
 Since November, the new base commander has decided to require I.D.s
 from demonstrators. No one else on the public side of the “green line”
 is required to show anything. Showing I.D.s on Sunday did not grant
 the ability to demonstrate, but rather resulted in the issuance of ban-
 and-bar notices.
 International opposition to U.S. missile tests is building, whether
 they're testing ICBMs or interceptors. Demonstrators were carrying
 letters of opposition to this test from six different international

 The following letter from the Western States Legal Foundation Director
 Jacqueline Cabasso provides a concise summation of the issues being
 raised by the demonstrators:
 Western States Legal Foundation calls for cancellation of the planned
 January 31 test launch of an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air
 Force Base at a simulated incoming Iranian missile launched from the
 Marshall Islands.

 The premise of this test is preposterous propaganda. Iran does not
 have nuclear weapons, nor is there any convincing evidence that it has
 an active nuclear weapons program. The test will only serve to
 exacerbate tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
 Further, U.S. development of missile defenses endangers prospects for
 deeper U.S. and Russian nuclear arms reductions and threatens to
 scuttle agreement on a follow-on to the START treaty. To add insult to
 injury, every U.S. test launch from the Marshall Islands causes
 tremendous environmental damage to surrounding land and water areas
 and compounds the historical injustice to the indigenous Marshallese

 This is not a launch by Iran aimed at California, but rather a launch
 by the U.S. military- industrial complex aimed at Congress and the
 February 2010 Defense budget rollout.
 The U.S. should pursue diplomatic efforts to normalize relations with
 Iran. This test should be cancelled and it’s estimated $150 million
 price tag redirected to humanitarian aid for Haiti.

Photo: an earlier arrest of Fr. Dennis Apel