Archive for September, 2007

Faith Action

Posted: September 27, 2007 in spirituality

I came across a few interesting news articles recently which show how people of faith are acting out against war and oppresion . The first is quite encouraging:

“More than 100 religious leaders today [9/26/07] participated in an hour-long, interfaith encounter with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Church Center for the United Nations…”

for the rest click here

It’s beautiful to see the religious leaders of America (particularly the “peace church” traditions) engaging in this dialogue. People of faith are recognizing the priority of peace and the priority of dialogue within the peace process. The second article I read confirms my suspicion that such a hopeful interaction as the one that took place yesterday is reserved for people of faith- not the government:

“The Bush administration has denied visas to leaders of an Iranian religious delegation that was scheduled to visit the United States this week to continue a dialogue with religious leaders in the United States, the U.S. organizers of the exchanges announced today…”

“…The denials parallel a disturbing escalation of rhetoric against Iran and further demonstrate this administration’s current strategy of confrontation rather than diplomacy. Again, this administration appears to be choosing the war path rather than the negotiating table.”

for more click here

The last article talks about the Buddhist monks who have been on the streets protesting in Burma:

“…thousands of Buddhist monks are taking to the streets of the capital in non-violent protests…”

“The protests have taken place despite orders from the country’s military government for the Buddhist clergy to return to their monasteries and to cease political activity. The number of demonstrators in Yangon on 24 September reached 100 000, according to an Associated Press report, and made the day’s protest the biggest such gathering since a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.”

“It is moving to see how religious people, especially Buddhist monks and nuns, are at the forefront in the struggle,” said Shastri. “We know that your council and many church leaders have joined the forces for democratic change to oppose the long dictatorship of the military junta.”

for more click here


no worries

Posted: September 26, 2007 in random thoughts

Words spoken to me over a bake-sale table, after an exchange of brownies and quarters:

"Sorry. His helmet split in Vietnam. He tends to be impulsive."

Tomorrow at Theology on Tap

Posted: September 24, 2007 in FYI

The organization that I work for has a weekly program called Theology on Tap. We meet at Stubbie’s– a local pub- and discuss a theological or social issue that relates to our immediate lives. This week we are discussing economic systems- particularly capitalism, communism, and anarchism. This will be a good discussion. I am posting to let all my many readers 🙂 know that this is happening.

The organization I work for is called the PDCSC, or Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ Student Center. We are a non-profit student center that is affiliated with local Presbyterian and DOC churches. Our students and our leadership are quite progressive and socially-active. The PDCSC is a safe, open, and inclusive community. Theology on Tap meets at 8pm downtown at Stubbies Pub- 9 W University Ave.

The Jena 6

Posted: September 21, 2007 in activism

The uprisings continue on the UF campus. Today’s was not about Andrew Meyer, but a different case in which the police used their authority at their own discretion and for thier own purposes, causing severe injustice. Today is the national day of action for the Jena 6. UF now knows a little of the problems that are inevitably caused by authoritarian structures, the struggles brought about my the powerful vs. the powerless, the majority vs. the minority. I almost cried as I read the front of the Alligator today. I may be wrong, but it feels like people are starting to give a damn.

The Case of the Jena 6
Last fall, when two Black high school students sat under the “white” tree on their campus, white students responded by hanging nooses from the tree. When Black students protested the light punishment for the students who hung the nooses, District Attorney Reed Walters came to the school and told the students he could “take [their] lives away with a stroke of [his] pen.” Racial tension continued to mount in Jena, and the District Attorney did nothing in response to several egregious cases of violence and threats against black students. But when a white student–who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses–taunted a black student, allegedly called several black students “nigger”, and was beaten up by black students, six black students were charged with second-degree attempted murder. Last month, the first young man to be tried, Mychal Bell, was convicted. He faces up to 22 years in prison for a school fight.

The above is from Go to the site for more and to sign the petition.



The Recent Actions at UF

Posted: September 19, 2007 in activism

I have taken part in many of the actions that have resulted from the tasering of Andrew Meyer last Monday. I’m sure I don’t need to explain what happenned except maybe for clarification. I was not there, but I was a witness along with thousands of others since the entire incident is on youtube and various other news sites. The media has been twisting the story a little, so I hear. Most people that I have been protesting with don’t have cable, so we haven’t been able to watch the media coverage ourselves (which is pretty awesome). Some news stories in the local and national papers, particularly the local Alligator, have been pretty biased towards the brutality, arguing that Andrew was out of control. Yet many of the stories that I’ve read, and the reporters I’ve spoken to have been rather fair. The consensus is in: Andrew Meyer should not have been tasered.

It’s really encouraging to see this uprising take place. The libertarians, republicans, democrats, anarchists, etc. have all come together on this issue. It affects us. We can be tasered. Our friends can be tasered. If tasers are in the hands of the cops, one our friends will indefinitely get tasered. Why else have them except to use them? Don’t think that it takes breaking the law to have it used on you either. Ask Andrew.

But as I write, I am rather discouraged. There is division among the student body and the among the activists. Is the main issue free speech, tasers, police protocol, or UF public event policy? How should we act? Should we use tactics of direct action to be heard now, or should we trust that the masses will be concerned a week from now- a month from now- when we get a meeting with some one in power?

I’m discouraged because the crowd has dispursed. I’m discouraged because noone wants to challenge the system that inherently creates these problems and in turn settle for indefinite repeated uprisings. I’m discouraged because I have to go to class and do homework. I’m discouraged because unity is so difficult to accomplish in large group settings.

I’m discouraged but I’m hopeful. It sucks that this happenned. But in reality it happens all the time. It’s making news because it happened in public view, on video, and in an auditorium of a high-profile university. When this kind of thing happens on 5th Ave, noone gives a shit. So it’s not that the reaction encourages me as much as the grim reality that this situation causes us to recognize. Our world, our nation, and our town is full of this kind of thing daily. Free speech supression and (excessive) punishments for those who don’t comply have been slowly creeping up on us for a while now. Has anyone read the Patriot Act? Nine-Eleven, Virginia Tech, the War on Terror" and the constant rhetoric of fear have been used to make us think that free thought and free speech both cause national insecurity. We are forced to fear the "terrorists" if we are persuaded in that direction and we are forced to fear our governement if we are not.

But we can’t stop. I want to sometimes. There is a tendancy prevalent among activists to specialize certain issues, making it difficult to pay attention to the rest of the world. There are more problems than just this one. We are not fighting simply for Meyer or against UF, we are fighting for a more just society. Specializing this issue can also cause us to not notice ourselves- our own worries and concerns that are not related to this issue. Burn-out and loss of objectivity are inevitable when an issue is focused on improperly. So stop thinking for a while. Stop shouting and being upset. Rest. Listen. Meditate. Then shout- this time louder and with a clear and renewed vision. Don’t stop for a whole week or even a whole day. Just stop. Then go.

It’s becoming apparent that I am just ranting, so I’m gonna stop without bringing this to a smooth close. I can do it. It’s my blog.

Peace. Keep acting. Don’t give up.


The internet is killing us

Posted: September 17, 2007 in Uncategorized

I just read a crazy news story as I sit here online in the internet cafe I wake up at each morning.

“A Chinese man dropped dead after playing Internet games for three consecutive days, state media said on Monday as China seeks to wean Internet addicts offline.”

Okay. That’s creepy, right? But think about it. Why not? People (like me) wake up each day and check their email, then go to work and log on, then go home and play/read/chat/etc online. As a society maybe we need to step back and say “what the hell?”

“The man… aged about 30, died on Saturday after being rushed to the hospital from the Internet cafe.”

What the hell?

Interfaith Fast to End the War in Iraq

Posted: September 14, 2007 in activism

This is pretty sweet. I may do it, but I don’t know for sure since I just ran across it this morning. It’s worth checking out though. This war has gone on too long and undermined the democratic process as the thousands of people who want to see it end are ignored. It’s really amazing to see relgious leaders of all kinds stepping up and calling for this fast. Fasting is a form of spritual practice. It’s been used in revolutions of all kinds. Fasting is a good way to train yourself for self-discipline and action. Thinks of the advocates: Ghandi, Jesus, Buddha, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa…