December 30, 2003
On the sneakiness of injustice...
I'm not at all up on my Serbian historypolitical or otherwisebut this bit of news concerns me:
Milosevic wins seat in Serbian Parliment (The Globe and Mail, 12/29/2003)
So, in an effort to repent of my ignorance of the injustices that have taken place in the former country of Yugoslavia, here are a few interesting primary sources of information:
- Trial ReportsInternational Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY)
- Milosevic Trial Public Video Archive
- Amnesty Int'l Document Library: Serbia and Montenegro
- Amnesty Int'l Document Library: Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Amnesty Int'l Document Library: Croatia
- Human Rights Watch News Releases: Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Human Rights Watch News Releases: Croatia
- Human Rights Watch News Releases: Serbia and Montenegro
"...a multi-faceted media house at the very forefront of the transformation of post-Milosevic Yugoslavia’s cultural life. In our 12-year history, we have grown from our tentative origins as a student radio station to become an umbrella association comprising over 250 staff in the fields of television, radio, internet, music, film and publishing. Along the way we have pioneered the use of the internet as a means of bypassing media repression; won global acclaim for our part in the downfall of a corrupt and violent regime; and nurtured a thriving creative scene in Yugoslavia."
Finally, here's a nice presentation done by BBC on the changing shape of Yugoslavia in the last century. Contains a timeline highlighting the years of 1900, 1913, 1920, 1941, 1945, 1992, 1995, 1999, and 2003.
Oh, and let us be keeping on eye on this sneaky Hitler wanna-be: Vojislav Seselj.
December 29, 2003
God and Politics
Just received notification of an Op-Ed piece that Jim Wallis of Sojourners wrote in yesterday's NY Times. Here is the NY Times link:
Op-Ed: Putting God Back in Politics (registration required...I registered as a male doctor making over 150 grand per year, tee hee hee)
Basically Mr. Wallis feels that Republicans and Democrats should quit focusing on narrowing the acceptable set of debatable "religious" topics and begin to boldly address issues of economic security, health care, educational opportunity, poverty, war and peace in terms of moral responsibility implied by true faith. According to Wallis,
God is always personal, but never private. The Democrats are wrong to restrict religion to the private sphere just as the Republicans are wrong to define it solely in terms of individual moral choices and sexual ethics. Allowing the right to decide what is a religious issue would be both a moral and political tragedy.
I generally agree with Wallis, and this is no exception. The intersection between faith and politics continues to be confused and passionately muddled by Democrats and Republicans alike. Whether it's the logically sickening false alternatives presented in the abortion debate, the over-simplification and oft misunderstood statement, "the separation of church and state," or the always amusing and yet confusing propagation of civil religion in nearly every corner of American political expression...whenever politics intersect religion, almost without fail come cognitive-dissonance-related headaches.
By continuing to narrow the list of acceptable topics that are supposedly affected by or influenced by faith, political leaders will continue to frustrate American people that know, at the very least at an intuitive level, that a worldview that insists upon fragmenting life into manageable "topics" or "issues" that do not or should not affect one another is not consistent with reality. Those leaders who insist upon promoting a fragmented world will continue to isolate themselves from those with whom they would desire to have an attentive audience.
Whether it's a foreign policy that would have the unprecedented growth of an increasingly unaccountable empire, wars justified by half-truths and color-coded domestic intimidation, or the state of hunger, poverty, and lack of economic security right here in the homeland, those who would desire to lead the American people have got some 'splainin' to do...and these muddled issues, in my opinion, could be clarified when cast in the right light. And that right light just might have something to do with God. Imagine that.
O Starry Night
Thanks to a co-worker of mine, Greg, for bringing this article to my attention.
- Astronomy Picture of the Day
- HubbleSOURCE Images and Illustrations (includes instructions for how to get full-res TIFFs)
December 24, 2003
Christmas in the trenches
Source: Sojourners 2003 (c) http://www.sojo.net
Eventually, the men from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared pictures of their families. Informal soccer games began in what had been "no-man's-land." And a joint service was held to bury the dead of both sides.
The generals, of course, were not pleased with these events. Men who have come to know each other's names and seen each other's families are much less likely to want to kill each other. War seems to require a nameless, faceless "enemy."
So, following that magical night the men on both sides spent a few days simply firing aimlessly into the sky. Then the war was back in earnest and continued for three more bloody years. Yet the story of that Christmas Eve lingered - a night when the angels really did sing of peace on earth.
Folksinger John McCutcheon wrote a song about that night in Belgium, titled "Christmas in the Trenches," from the viewpoint of a young British solder. Several poignant verses are:
"The next they sang was "Stille Nacht," "Tis 'Silent Night'," says I.
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky
"There's someone coming towards us!" the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore."
My prayer for the New Year is for a nation and world where people can come out of their trenches and together sing their hopes for peace. We here at Sojourners will carry on that mission, and we invite you to continue on the journey with us.
- The complete lyrics to John McCutcheon's song
- A new book by German author Michael Jurgs draws from previously unseen letters and diaries to detail the Christmas truce of 1914.
- More history of the 1914 Christmas truce, including many first-person accounts.
December 18, 2003
Aragorn for President
Borrowed this from this morning's installment of Sojomail....
"Everyone thinks [Aragorn] is the man for the job, because he has humility, a concern with the consequences of his actions and words on others, and an interest in finding common ground with other people. All are qualities which I wish there were more of in real life in our modern-day leaders. There's an unfortunate lack of humility and overabundance of arrogance."
December 17, 2003
Case Study: The Montréal Massacre
Well I wasn't looking for these in particular, but here is another article on violence against women. This one is an article on the 1989 event in which...
On the evening of December 6, 1989, shortly after 5 o'clock on the penultimate day of classes before the Christmas holidays, Lépine carried a concealed Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle into the École Polytechnique. His first female victim, Maryse Laganiere, was killed in a corridor. He then proceeded to Room 303, a classroom which held 10 women students and 48 men, along with a male professor. Firing two shots into the ceiling and shouting, "I want the women. I hate feminists!," Lépine enacted a gendercidal ritual that will be familiar to readers of other case-studies on this site (Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia) only this time, the victims were female. Separating the men from the women, he expelled the men at gunpoint, lined up the remaining women students against the wall, and began to fire. Six women died; the others were injured, but survived.
"On the assumption and acceptance of atrocity" or "Failing at Liberation"
A sobering account of the barriers to freedom and life that women in Iraq face, this story demonstrates that liberation, freedom, and salvation cannot come from the law whether new or old, domestic or foreign, religious or secular. Indeed, reading this story causes me to more fervently hope, pray, and prepare for the transformation of hearts and minds and nations, a new heaven and a new earth, and the return of the King. (No, silly, not that one.)
So, if you have a few minutes, I do encourage you to read this article. It's on AlterNet's site:
December 16, 2003
Magazine Site of the Day
The funding organization of the magazine is the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science whose mission is:
...to educate citizens about global security issues, especially the continuing dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and about the appropriate roles of nuclear technology. (http://www.thebulletin.org/nuclear/efns.html)
The site also features some editorial tidbits related to WMDs, "inspections," Iraq, and North Korea.
Alrighty then. I guess it's time to read up on global nuclar war policy and stuff.
Goshen College is doing a devotional series on Advent with a new devotion every weekday. Here's today's: December 16 - Within the grasp of our hands
And here's a short bio of the poet, Rainier Maria Rilke, who is quoted in the above link:
Rainer Maria Rilke - Bio, Selected Bibliography, and exhibits elsewhere on the Web.
The site also features an e-mail opt-in list which will entitle you to receive the devotions in your e-mail box each day.
Very nice idea.
December 15, 2003
On The Surface: What Preachers Are Reading
An interesting survey taken by Pulpit & Pew in 2001 asked the questions, "How often do clergy read? And what are they reading?"
Among other things, Pulpit & Pew concluded,
Unfortunately, these preferences leave out works of serious theology, biblical interpretation, history and social analysis. Although one hesitates to pass judgement on pastors with busy lives and constant interruptions, the overall impression is that clergy do not read very deeply. Although they may read regularly, what they read seems to be relatively light fare and pragmatically focused. (emphasis mine)
This study was interesting to me because although I sometimes am leary of jumping on the bandwagon of a popular book, many times my reading decisions are influenced by recommendations in my circle of friends and acquaintences which includes pastors and church staff members. It is good to remember that what pastors and church staff are reading (and recommending) is also influenced by a larger trend and influencing sub-culture. So perhaps a movement toward deeper reading needs to begin at the grassroots, and not necessarily at the busy and preoccupied top of the clergy food chain, as it were.
This week I'm reading:
- Acts in the New International Version (NIV)
- Usable Shopping Carts, written by Jon Stephens, Clifton Evans, and Jody Kerr
- Daniel 4 in the New King James Version (NKJV)
I don't know if these reading selections would do anything to change any trends in pastoral reading...I would assume and fervently hope that the Bible is already being read daily by pastors and church staff and Usable Shopping Carts is hardly a catalyst to "moving and shaking" the reading trends of the pastors in my sphere of influence. Oh well. I'll try again next week.
Changing the world is such tedious business.
December 12, 2003
December 04, 2003
Time for Art
Quote of the day:
"Art cannot be measured in time. You are the owner of your time," said Antonio. He and his brother had similar answers to how long it took to finish a project. "If you want to make something, there is not a determined amount of time. It's not like in the United State [sic] where you work for a determined amount of time."
El Hispanic News, "Oregon's Purépechas," December 3, 2003
The showing of the "Our Ways: History and Culture of Mexicans in Oregon" exhibit has recently been extended and will be showing until April 2004 at the Oregon Historical Society. Also, the OHS will host a hands-on workshop on the Mexican folk art of retablo painting (painting on wood) on December 13 and 14. According to the OHS Web site:
RETABLO PAINTING WORKSHOP
December 13 (10:30am to 4:30pm) and 14 (12:30 to 4:30pm) Bend artist Cristina Acosta will lead participants on a journey to articulate their inner expressions in ex-votos (devotional paintings) as her abuela (grandmother) taught her. Each person will complete a retablo (painting on wood, another name for ex-votos) Workshop cost, $60.
December 03, 2003
To President Bush: How About that Global AIDS Crisis?
On Jesus and the "new" leprosy
That there's a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it," Bono told the Chicago Sun-Times as he road past mown corn fields west of Omaha. "But the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in s--- and straw and poverty, is genius. And brings me to my knees, literally.
Christ's example is being demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy, which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here. If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't, it will be irrelevant.
Bono, as quoted in Bono issues blunt message for Christians (Chicago Sun-Times)
December 02, 2003
Thanksgiving has come and gone and once again it's December 2nd which is only significant to me because it is my birthday. But a birthday is a good day to be thankful too. So in order to exercise my thankfulness muscle, I think it's only wise to think of a few things for which I am thankful. So...
Today I am thankful for:
- The guy who took my order at La Terraza who thought I was only 23 or 24. That was very kind.
- Our wonderful receptionist who says I remind her of Grace Kelly. That was WAY too kind.
- VJ's gift which was perfect because I was just thinking the other day of how much I wanted a new candle. And it smells so nice.
- My mom and dad and their friends, the Vandeheys, who sang Happy Birthday in 4-part harmony to my voicemail this morning on their way to Seattle.
- A successful e-bay auction, the proceeds of which will support my trip to India in February.
- Internet access at The Apple Store at Washington Square which just opened a few weeks ago and enabled me to check the auction in its final minutes last Saturday. (That was very cool.)
- My 15-month-old niece, Adalie Grace, who I swear nearly said "Auntie Amber" the other day. She is so cute.
- The generosity of my family and friends and their support, whether financial, personal, and/or prayerful of me as I prepare to go to India for a few weeks in February.
This has been a good exercise I think. In the midst of so much preparation and looking forward, I forget the importance and the gift of the present moment and all that has been given and sacrificed for me to live as I am right now. A lot less worrying and a bit more celebration is in order for my life, I think. A bit of renewal. A change, I think...
The John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.
Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.