Wednesday 31 March 2010

Sacred Peace Walk 2010

Yesterday, March 30th, in a hot Southwestern desert wind the Sacred Peace Walk started. It is a testimony against nuclear weapons and Unmanned Aereal Vehicles ("drones") in Holy Week.
Starting point was the statue of Martin Luther King in North Las Vegas, finish will be the Nevada Test site where most of the nuclear tests on Earth were done.

Since I am there to cover the walk online on Web 1.0 and 2.0 I ask you to please follow the walk on its own weblog, whence you will be directed further on if you wish. From this point in the desert I shall try to follow as many peace actions in the world as I can.

Monday 29 March 2010

He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy!

Follow this link, follow this link!
It'll make you laugh and make you think.

Navy vs. Old

Mark Rahner, reporter for the Seattle Times, on the inspection of the nuclear naval base at Bangor, Washington State.

Steve Kelly, one of the youngest trespassers, tells me that at the moment prosecution seems to be postponed to the never-never.

Monday 22 March 2010

At the end of the day just kneel and pray

Finishing off the day in the part of the world in which I live - a number I sometimes use to close a gig (in the version of Sunny), and for many a dear memory of Radio Luxembourg 208. A very emotional day, only one aspect of it was that my mother decided not to go back to the house where she has lived for more than a half century. The end of parental home.

Look well at your elders, look well at the preacher.

Maybe the morning, Marian Montgomery
Goodnight and good luck.
If you cannot be careful, be good.

You can hear the number here alongside other tunes.

A feminist issue

We are doing well and going swell, being accused of all the things right-minded people dislike (great, this double meaning).
But I have to confess: I lied. I did see porn once. The films were billed at the student café as "A night of dirty pictures" which might have been an ambiguous announcement. But those present were quickly cured of any illusion.

Seen one, seen them all, I suppose. There is nothing exciting about it, it is extremely boring. There is an empty space, perhaps a bed or some cushions. Then a man and a woman run to centre stage, quickly put out their clothes and just do it. Variation: two women, one man. The other one, variation: "lesbian", two or three women. Obviously not intended for "real" lesbian use, or maybe it was, who cares?
Theatrically speaking it is one of the most boring acts you can offer, on stage or on screen. The story is stripped (another double entendre) of anything which makes the interaction between two (or more) people interesting - for themselves, and for others if the story is well told.

Some bloke summed up the general feeling very honestly: this is enough to make you impotent for at least a week. "Make it two weeks," I added. No-one disagreed. At least the males present. Apart from some laughs (nervous?) I cannot remember any female reaction to the presentation.

"Extremely boring", I say it as an unsuspecting one-time spectator. Because of the boredom and irritation it is difficult to ask the question: how about the people performing on the screen? The Pink Cross and Rebecca Mott tell the story from the "production" side. And it is ugly, it is shameful. And extremely violent, which was not expressed in the films I saw that evening. You cannot even say it is shameful because you are watching it, but lack of knowledge is no excuse for being responsible for violent abuse - because as a viewer you are guilty too.

For quite a while I was irritated even by the idea of porn being a feminist issue. I was wrong.
And now, brothers and sisters, I command you to God.

Ceterum censeo institutam ecclesiam delendam esse.
(In case I make a habit of this one; it means "Furthermore  I gather the church as an institution should be destroyed.")
And free Marcia Powell!.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Sequel and finish

"You are way too pretty to be a left-winger," he lisped, offering me what he called "the strongest beer in the world". (It is not, but it took me quite a while to drink it again).
"Yet I am," I replied, relieved.
"But you should do something about that belly, I don't like it."
"My girlfriend does. She likes its softness." True words which should have scared him off.
They did not.

But do not be too alarmed, dear readers, in the end my lefty friends dragged him off me and made me escape. Embarrassed, scared, and yes, pretty drunk - we lefties were innocently boozing as usual after a meeting which yet again did not result in the Great Revolution anyway. Did I write "innocently", Leo?

Running away I sprained my ankle, which I did not notice at the time. The pain came in the days after the event. My usual g.p. was not there. I thought it necessary to explain under which circumstances I sprained my ankle. "I would like to ask you a frank question," the unknown g.p. replied. "Are you sure you did not like what he was doing? Are you sure you are not gay?"

Are women still asked "what they were wearing"? If not, probably the question is still on the mind of the police officer or g.p. or whomever has to be told the story. If it is ever told.

And why the g.p. was completely at ease with my answer that I was going steady with a girl -  I don't know. [Added later: I perfectly know why. But it was meant to be a rhetorical turn. You as a reader do not have an inherent right to know everything about me]. The end of the story was that there was nothing to be done about the sprained ankle. It would heal eventually. Treatment would be more painful than the condition itself.

You can say that again.

This is a sequel to my personal remark in this posting. Never would have thought I would write about it for the first time in a foreign language. But life is unpredictable - fortunately perhaps.

Was Tolstoy right with his Kreutzer sonata?

This is a cover anyone who knows the book should have least expected. It is the first hit in the search engine: Leo Tolstoy's Kreutzer sonata. It was one of the first novels I read by the Russian count at the time I was discovering Christian anarchism and I thought it wildly eccentric, or rather: unacceptable. From the first biography I read in the same days I understood Tolstoy was practicing what he preaches in the book and his wife "had to accept it". Since the author of the biography was a prominent female religious anarchist from NL herself I thought this way over the top and offensive to Tolstoy's wife.
You can read the Kreutzer sonata online if you wish, here.

There we have it: Count Leo had a life of hunting, of shooting as an army officer, of sleeping around, also with prostitutes, behind him and suddenly he saw the Light and his wife had to comply. All sexuality is violence, that is what the Kreutzer sonata comes down to. Is it? Even though the authoritarian way in which the patriarch of Christian anarchism decreed it may be reprehensible and I still tend not to agree with him I have been growing more understanding about his point of view.

I once followed a reading tip from our friends at The Christian Radical to be confronted with the message
Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist,
Oh, don't they? Well, I probably am not "a guy" (don't like the word anyway and I should be too old to be called by that name). But I never watched pornography, just as I never went to a prostitute either. And I refuse to accept this qualifies me as not being "normal". As far as I am concerned it is still the other way around.

I realize I have angrily and impulsively written about having experienced assault by a man. There was an offensive prerson around this area who sang praises of gay porn which this guy presented as liberatory and all loveydovey, as a comment to the story of our sister Rebecca Mott who was called a heterosexist, whatever that may be. After the attack on Mott he withdrew his comment. Living in a country where the official gay movement is advocating the xenophobic proto-nazis who are making NL infamous these days I see no reason to agree with stories about the inherent liberatory character of being gay. Even if I thought the "actors" in gay porn are "acting" completely voluntarily, which is simply incredible. Gays are not naturally saints. They are human males, socialised with the idea of domination.

Men get raped too. Most often, they are raped by other men. However, there have been numerous recorded incidents where a man has been raped by a woman.
Because of the socialization of what it means to be “a man,” men raped by men
are reluctant to disclose having been raped for fear of being labeled homosexual.
Men raped by women fear being treated as less than a real man for allowing
themselves to be overpowered by a woman. One survey found that 7 percent
of men have experienced at least one episode of forced sexual contact. Among
college students, the incidence of sexual assaults of men by acquaintances is
much higher.
(from the cache of the New York Institute of Technology site)

It is mainly a male problem. As is the idea of violence. I think. But perhaps what Tolstoy has to say calls for more thought or scrutiny than I thought when I first came across it.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Chagos motion / UK readers especially

Even if you do not believe in parliamentary action you might still consider taking action on behalf of the Chagossians, about whom more on Chagos Gulag Watch as of today.

Monday 8 March 2010

Christian anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel

A Review of Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Christian Anarchism: A political commentary on the gospel, Exeter, Imprint Academic, 2010.
by Keith Hebden

Alex Christoyannopoulos's new publication, Christian anarchism has been a labour of love for the author who has worked with thoroughness and care to present an almost exhaustive everything of Christian anarchism.

The only word of caution would be that because it is a doctoral thesis – turned book it can feel dry in its thoroughness sometimes and so won't suit every reader. But as academic works go there's no fancy language and everything is properly explained so if you can read you can read this book.

Christoyannopoulos works with texts and ideas that have been key for Christian anarchists to show coherence and diversity in the tradition. Part one would make a great reading-circle for radical Christian groups to explore their own response to the Sermon on the Mount or Romans 13 for example or the relationship between the state and the Christian community. Almost all of part one and much of part two is Jesus-focused and Leo Tolstoy features heavily throughout. Plenty of room is left in the book for exploring Christian anarchist practices too.

Christoyannopoulos brings to our attention a need within Christian anarchist thinking to develop a more thought through Christology. He does this without criticising the present thinking but simply outlining them as he does reveals their inadequacy.

Christoyannopoulos refers to Christian anarchist understandings of history as mysteriously unfolding. He claims they are united by a refusal to “hasten God's kingdom by political means” (276). They anticipate the kingdom but they don't precipitate it. This is important because the Christian anarchist critique of the state arises out of a commitment to non-violent resistance and not vice-versa. This means Christian anarchists would rather live in submission to the state than violently overthrow but because the means matter as much as the ends. This is what sets the radical Christian approach in contrast to much of the secular anarchist approach to social change.

Christoyannopoulos's social ontology is a brilliantly clear apology for a theology of love as social transformer. He chooses to draw on Paul Ricoeur and Paul Tillich to describe society's struggle to articulate justice. This is a wonderful antidote to the cynical view it is so easy to fall into of a Manichean state hell-bent on domination for the sake of exploitation. Christoyannopoulos seeks to widen the Christian anarchist understanding of the state from “the monopoly over the legitimised use of violence,” to a more generously phrased “articulation of a society's definition of justice”.

The arguments of Christian anarchists are based largely in a literalistic or deferring reading of selected parts of the Bible, mostly in the New Testament – they often ignore church traditions, being skeptical of any theology produced within a Church grappling with its compromise with the state. But Christoyannopoulos draws Christian anarchists back to these Christendom theologians.

Christoyannopoulos notes the literalism in much of the Christian anarchist tradition as evidence of its place in a modernist worldview. This happens to be the same enlightenment worldview out of which anarchist theory was born. A post-modern shift in thinking for Christian anarchism would helpfully push boundaries of thinking, speaking and doing. Perhaps engagement with other faiths and contemporary anarchists will help make this happen.

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos does a great job of outlining the arguments that have been made and suggesting a number of possible directions for future discussion. This book could easily be for Christian anarchism what Gustavo Guttierez's A Theology of Liberation was for that school of thought. And if anyone thinks theology can't change anything look at The Jubilee Debt campaign, Fair Trade and the many other ways in which liberation theology has shaped political agenda's and policies over the last fifty years. Then buy this book and see if Christian anarchism can do it all over again.

Enquiry lumbers and slumbers on...

Blair, Brown and now Miliband have all argued that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to put into action the whimpish UN resolutions on Iraq into action.

None of the members of the Iraq enquiry have questioned the consistency of this logic. There are literally hundreds of resolutions from the UN Security council criticising Israeli foreign policy or insisting that Israel stop its atrocities against its neighbours and the occupied territories.

Now why isn't the enquiry dealing with this inclnsistency of the New Labour Hawks' foreign policy? Why indeed. It just goes to show there's no such thing as an independent enquiry.

Friday 5 March 2010

Sign for Chagos

The UK Government is considering declaring the Chagos Archipelago the World’s largest Marine Protected Area, in order to conserve its globally important coral reefs and related ecosystems.

This is a unique and vital opportunity for marine conservation, but the issue is not as simple as that.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has launched a consultation on Chagos. The consultation proposes three main options for a Marine Protected Area, all of which exclude any kind of fisheries or similar marine activities within the reef areas.

What these options do not take account of are the wishes of the Chagossian community. The islanders were removed from their homeland by the British Government in the late 1960s and have been campaigning ever since for their right to return.

The full no-take protection of reef areas (as proposed by the consultation) would provide no means for resettled islanders to utilise their marine resources for subsistence or income generation. Communities and Marine Protected Areas coexist across the world, and there is no reason why the islanders could not be successful stewards of their coral reef environment.

We endorse the efforts of the Foreign Secretary to protect the marine ecosystems of the Chagos archipelago but we call on him to work with the Chagos islanders and the Government of Mauritius to devise an MPA solution that makes provision for resettlement and protects Mauritius’ legitimate interests.

Further reading and site to sign on:
Petition is now closed.