January 19, 2008

New post on D'souza blog

There is a new article on Joseph D'souza's site entitled, "Racism blindness, cricket, and the Untouchables" which highlights recent events to illustrate the cruel reality of both caste and racism in India. A good quick read.

Posted by Amber at 02:55 PM

September 20, 2006

What does tobacco, asbestos, and fluoride have in common?

Here's one for the conspiracy category (which has been sitting dormant for quite some time). It turns out that in the tradition of tobacco, asbestos, and other things that were once publicly hailed as "healthy," Fluoride (you know, the thing that will "reduce cavities in children"), is not so healthy after all, to the point of being alarmingly unhealthy.

Since there have been so many attempts to deceive, obfuscate, and inveigle the public into accepting Fluoride as beneficial to children's oral health, it is hard to know the truth from a lie. Will our children or grandchildren's generation scoff at our acceptance of Fluoride as a necessity to oral healthcare as we now scoff at the generation before our's use of tobacco as acceptable and even healthy? It seems probable.

I have no ready answers, but I have put the book, The Fluoride Deception on hold at the library. It's really not too hard to tell what the premise of the book is, but I'm always up for a juicy mystery—more so if it's nonfiction. I'll be posting any interesting tidbits from the book as I come across them.

In the meantime, I've switched to Doctor Burt's Cinna Mint Toothpaste. Yeah, it's not as harsh as my regular toothpaste and there's no poison control warning on the label, but it's got a pretty red tube and it's made with all natural ingredients. So it can't hurt to try something healthy, right?

For those of you with little ones, I would recommend discouraging your school from offering "fluoride rinses" to kids or from popping fluoride tablets in apple juice with the good intention of contributing to your kids' oral health. Instead, offer them no-sugar snacks and help them brush at least twice a day. (And don't get them started on soda pop! Hindsight is 20/20, right?) Also, try and find some kids' toothpaste that doesn't contain fluoride and that is labeled as OK to swallow. Doctor Burt's Children's Toothpaste might be a good option.

Oh and if you live within Beaverton, Oregon city limits, I would NOT drink the water. [link]

Take a deep breath and smile!

Posted by Amber at 03:50 PM | comments (2)

March 27, 2006

Billy Bragg sings about The lonesome death of Rachel Corrie

Guardian Unlimited Arts | | The lonesome death of Rachel Corrie

Posted by Amber at 05:18 PM

January 26, 2006

Assassination Attempt Made on Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

In [dis]honor of Google China's compliance with the Chinese government's oppressive will, here's a bit of news that I noticed on the front page of The Epoch Times (in a news stand in front of the building where I work). I found the article online; here's the link:

The Epoch Times | Assassination Attempt Made on Gao Zhisheng [Updated]

Sites Google Agreed to Censor in China

Posted by Amber at 01:16 PM

November 01, 2005

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as a violation of Gwich�in human rights

From a press release from Cultural Survival:

The Gwich'in Steering Committee announced on October 25 the release of a new report outlining the implications of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as a violation of Gwich'in human rights under international law.

A Moral Choice for the United States—The Human Rights Implications for the Gwich'in of Drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge was prepared by the public interest law firm Trustees for Alaska, on behalf of and under the auspices of the Episcopal Church, the Gwich'in Nation, and Professor Richard J. Wilson, Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University.

Posted by Amber at 03:37 PM

August 02, 2005

Lax security on Interior computers contributes to ongoing injustice toward Native Americans

WASHINGTON, July 30 — One of the longest evidentiary hearings in the recent history of U.S. District Court here has ended with strong calls for increased controls over government computers holding information on individual Indian Trust accounts.

Citing the ease with which computer consultants hacked into the computers, lawyers for Indians in a class action lawsuit over the government's acknowledged mismanagement of the accounts finished 59 days of hearings Friday afternoon with a plea to disconnect the computers from the Internet.

"It is not just a matter of computer security," said the lawyers. "It is a matter of the security of the Indian's trust accounts, the only money that many of the nation's poorest citizens have," they said.

Cobell v. Norton 7/30/2005 Press Release: Lengthy Hearing Ends with Pleas for Controls on Interior Computers
Posted by Amber at 10:46 AM

April 22, 2005

Behind the scenes of an empire

Took my Borders coupon and went to get Newbigin's An Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission (theology of mission = always an exciting topic) but they didn't have it.


What? ;-)

With all the missional (both community- and globally-focused) churches around here with all those crazy ministers with their love of the written word, there's no pent-up demand for Newbigin's classics?!?

[Maybe it's the publication date (revised edition, 1995).] Yeah, I suppose that's what it is.

Foolishness to the Greeks is already on my shelves from college days and Brant said I could borrow The Gospel in Pluralist Society, so I wandered elsewhere and found Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which I purchased straightaway.

Prefacing his confession, the author John Perkins (not this John Perkins) writes:

Admitting to a problem is the first step toward finding a solution. Confessing a sin is the beginning of redemption. Let this book, then, be the start of our salvation. Let it inspire us to new levels of dedication and drive us to realize our dream of balanced and honorable societies.

What adventures in personal/national confession and action will ensue after millions of people read this book, I wonder? Will its bestselleriness be usable to the One who says Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

I wonder.

Posted by Amber at 01:20 PM

November 15, 2004

November 13, 2004

Frontline: Is Wal-Mart good for America?

frontline: coming soon: is wal-mart good for america? | PBS

FRONTLINE offers two starkly contrasting images: one of empty storefronts in Circleville, Ohio, where the local TV manufacturing plant has closed down; the other--a sea of high rises in the South China boomtown of Shenzhen. The connection between American job losses and soaring Chinese exports? Wal-Mart.

On PBS November 16, 2004 - check local listings.

Posted by Amber at 12:13 PM | comments (3)

September 09, 2004

Alvaro Rafael Saravia found liable for Archbishop Oscar Romero's 1980 assassination

Rigoberta Menchú Tum: "Nearly 25 years after Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in San Salvador, a chance for justice has finally appeared. In a landmark lawsuit, a federal judge in California ruled Friday that a former Salvadoran air force officer now living in the United States must pay $10 million to the family of the late archbishop." Continue reading the article (International Herald Tribune) » IHT: Lawsuit in California: Justice catches up with a Guatemalan murder

Incidentally, if the story of Romero's life and death is unfamiliar to you, I highly recommend the movie, aptly titled, Romero. (Nearby friends or family: I own this movie if you want to borrow it.) I believe I first saw this movie in one of my Intercultural Studies classes at Biola. I think it was a Harold Dollar class. Can't remember which. But seeing that movie triggered a huge turning point in my life. It sparked my interest in human rights and justice related issues and the responsibility of the church to integrate these issues in its gospel witness. This movie isn't for the faint of heart; but, if you're wrestling with how the gospel interfaces with culture and politics, this movie may profoundly impact your soul.

Posted by Amber at 12:55 PM | comments (2)

August 17, 2004

Venezuela's Referendum Should Be a Wake-Up Call for the United States

Read this:
Venezuela's Referendum Should Be a Wake-Up Call for the United States, a column by Mark Weisbrot

Posted by Amber at 12:20 PM

Friends in the White House Come to Coal's Aid

Just wanted to pass along a tidbit from yesterday's Economic Reporting Review (Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research)...

Friends in the White House Come to Coal's Aid
(Christopher Drew and Richard A. Oppel Jr. New York Times, August 9, 2004, Page A1)

This article reports on the close ties between Bush administration officials and the coal industry. The Bush administration has supported the coal industry on a variety of environmental and health and safety issues.

This article reminded me of how important it is to have leaders (and followers) that have integrity and how destructive the consequences are when this is not the case. It also reminded me a myth I used to believe in which it does not matter what one president does or doesn't do because somewhere down the line a policy or legislation will come along that reverses or fixes the harms of "X" policy or legislation. I think I thought this because of (mis)interpreting Schelsinger's cycles of American history that I read about in high school which left me with the (false) impression that everything will eventually balance out (in the political and policymaking realm) and I needn't worry about one man's position because another man will come along with a polar opposite viewpoint and subsequent policy or legislative proposal. This is a falsehood. There are real harms being done. Real people being killed. Real injustices being committed. Real air, water, and soil being poisoned. This article says that:

Although pollutants from coal are among the biggest contributors to acid rain and global warming, coal is also plentiful and secure, with domestic reserves that could last for 230 years.

What is 230 years? How long does it take for a hill from the Appalachians to regain its former glory and beauty? How long does it take for water to be drinkable again? I actually don't know if any amount of time can repair these things. But I am realizing one thing: in 4 years, a White House administration can do damage to people and the Earth that can never be reversed, repaired, recinded.

I am only thankful that there is one King who has compassion on those who are oppressed and mistreated and who has declared authoritatively a reality in which justice and accountability will be reckoned with and the consequences of that reckoning cannot be illuded, avoided, paid off, talked through, compromised or mitigated due to good behavior.

The catch is, this work of justice and accountability has been delegated to we kings and queens as well. We must not falter in our responsibility to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Alright, I'm stepping slowly and deliberately off the soap box. ;-)

Happy moral outraging.

Posted by Amber at 12:00 PM

August 12, 2004

Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive added to this week's commuter reading list

Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive, Alan Cullison (The Atlantic Online, September 2004)

Jason Fried says, "Print this article out and give it a read when you get a chance. It's worth whatever time it demands."

Since his Webvisions presentation, I have come to respect the words that come out of Jason's mouth -- either on paper, screen, or in person -- so I have printed out this article and am adding it to this week's commuter reading list, which also includes:

And today's "commuter reading list inspired" quote comes from "Omit Unnecessary Words: On the trail of faith and writing" by Andy Crouch (Books & Culture, July/August 2004, pg. 17):

It's not hard to look out over the audience and imagine a thousand children who "could actually be disciplined," as pastor and writer James Emery White recalls his own own childhood, "with the threat of 'no library for a week.' " There's something unsettling about seeing so many young adults intent on listening and reading. Shouldn't they be home, I find myself thinking, watching television?

Don't worry. We are. I am very unhealthily addicted to winding down after a day of coding in front of the accursed tele. In fact, just checked out Signs from the library. Can't wait to see it (again). Probably won't be for another week at least since I have to get a freelance client project wrapped up before I go camping this weekend on the beautiful Oregon coast.

Happy reading (and watching).

Posted by Amber at 02:53 PM

July 01, 2004

Irony Alert: Disney is Chief Corporate Evangelist for Civil Religion

Maybe you knew this already, but it was news to me. Civil religion has a corporate sponsor and it's none other than the guys who brought you "The Happiest Place On Earth™": Disney.

I knew that Disney seems to pride itself on its uncanny ability to infuse nice thick gooey layers of contrived spirituality and "good feeling" to its various products and services, but what I didn't know was they were offering a bible study guide free with advanced ticket purchase!!! Read on:

In the new film, Disney says Schwartzberg has tried to capture "both the unparalleled beauty of the land and the incomparable spirit of the people".

Indeed, Disney is being anything but bashful about the spiritual aspects of the film. Telephone callers to its advance ticket sales office may order a free bible study guide designed to go with the film. [emphasis mine]

From Disney unleashes a star-spangled riposte to Moore

Now civil religion is a deeply rooted tradition in this country, fooling, I daresay, millions into believing that the United States of America is a Christian nation-state. Rubbish. The United States is no more a "Christian nation" than Disneyland a place free of petty larcenists who steal strollers from tourists whilst they meander around Tom Sawyer's Island on a steamboat!

But what really gets under my skin about civil religion is that its spokespersons and representatives target an audience of family-lovin', flag waving, parade-going, politically conservative Christians. Who cares? Well, this just happens to describe the vast majority of my extended family members as well as a large section of my local church. Though I do not always agree with them, these are people that I love.

I am furious that this feel-good message of the "American Spirit" be sold with a bible study to an audience of people who have done nothing more than despise the attitudes, opinions, and creative works of one Michael Moore. A group of people that are more than likely a most attentive audience to the speeches, soundbites, and feature length presentations of civil religion's most fiercest allies. And who are these allies? Presidents, presidential speechwriters, and now, a major corporate controller of the media whose primary audience are family-lovin', flag waving, parade-going, politically conservative Christians. Or at least people who say they are.

This news story is comparable in irony to the movie trailer for The Polar Express. The trailer tells a story of a little boy who hops a magic train to the North Pole and Santa Clause to discover the "true" spirit of Christmas (which apparently is in the form a sleigh bell) and (here's the kicker) all against a musical backdrop of a song featuring the word, "Hallelujah," sung jubiliantly by what sounds very much like a gospel choir. Mmm. Hallelujah. Santa Claus. Hallelujah. Christmas spirit. Huh? Now that's mixed up. But that's what civil religion is all about: mixing it up.

Hmmm. Somthing's amiss.

Posted by Amber at 03:52 PM

June 29, 2004

Weisbrot: Fahrenheit 9/11 Could Change History

As always, Mark Weisbrot's insights and analyses are interesting and useful. Actually, most of the information that is delivered by the Center for Economic and Policy Research listservs is useful and interesting. I especially recommend The ERR (Economic Reporting Review) and Mark Weisbrot's Columns. (Sign up here.)

I mention these things because I just received Weisbrot's latest column on the popular "feature length op-ed" film Fahrenheit: 9/11 -- the director of this film people either love to love or love to hate or love to pretend to not care. His comments are once again thoughtful, relevant, and useful.

Fahrenheit 9/11 Could Change History, a column by Mark Weisbrot

Posted by Amber at 03:06 PM

June 24, 2004

Quotable Insight of the Day

From Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate:

[...]Like the Internet itself, both the NGO and the affinity group networks are infinitely expandable systems. If somebody feels that he or she doesn't quite fit into one of the thirty thousand or so NGOs or thousands of affinity groups out there, she can just start her own and link up. Once involved, no one has to give up individuality to the larger structure; as with all things on-line, we are free to dip in and out, take what we want and delete what we don't. It seems, at times, to be a surfer's approach to activism—reflecting the Internet's paradoxical culture of extreme narcissism coupled with an intense desire for community and connection.

Naomi Klein. From the chapter, "What's Next? The movement against global corporatism doesn't need to sign a ten-point plan to be effective" July 2000.

Posted by Amber at 01:49 PM

June 23, 2004

Another take on Fahrenheit 9/11

To pathetically remedy what I think may be a bit of "tendentiousness" on my part, here's a bit of perspective on Fahrenheit 9/11 that does not look upon the film with any favor whatsoever. Some food for thought, anyway. Unfairenheit 9/11 - The lies of Michael Moore. By Christopher Hitchens

Hat tip: David.

(For a girl who doesn't read reviews, I sure have been reading a lot of reviews lately. Ahh, the life of the mercurial. I'll try on work on that consistency bit. No promises, though ::wink::)

Posted by Amber at 04:55 PM

NY Times Reviews Fahrenheit 9/11

Here's a delightfully written NY Times review of Moore's latest film:

Unruly Scorn Leaves Room for Restraint, but Not a Lot (Requires login. I set up a generic account for those of you who might not want to bother to register. username: sleepyheadcity password: awake)

Oh, and you might want this close by, too:
A Dictionary

Happy reading.

Posted by Amber at 10:51 AM

April 23, 2004

Truth is still one big "pillar of cloud"

I learned something interesting this morning. Truth and justice are cloudier issues than I thought. I guess I should have known. God did reveal himself as a "pillar of cloud" to the Isrealites on their journey through the desert, after all.

In a culture of the sovereignty of individual opinions, an increasingly free, open, and universal press (thanks to the web), and the persistance of nation-states, nationalism, and good old fashioned state-sponsored obfuscation of the truth, I find the line between truth and deception, hero or villain, right or wrong, to be increasingly difficult to draw.

With the very real possibility for all the facts to be gathered, all the truth revealed, I see an attitude of complacency to gather these facts, to reveal the truth, prevailing. This complacency only contributes to the surreptitious behavior of those who would "policy-make" their way out of testimony to the truth.

So even though we live in a world with incredible access to information, we have yet to see a world able to discern the credibility of this information.

Am I any better? I'm myself only a small voice that is maybe a just a little more than half-heartedly seeking to reveal the truth.

But I will say this: onward the explorers, the seekers, the ones who would embark on a journey to find the truth, to see it revealed before their eyes, to know, to believe and to gain something that they did not know they were looking for: a love that cannot be described in words, though it seems right to describe it as the deepest, widest, most amazing love they have ever experienced.

Today's journey takes us to the crazy mixed-up state of Israel. Both a favorite and a despised topic to "discuss" for a wide variety of people, today's story is one of a tiny bit of historical perspective coupled with the latest reports of an event that happened just the other day: the strictly conditioned release of Mordechai Vanunu from an 18-year prison sentence for his 1986 revelation of Israel's "not-so-ambiguous-after-all" capacity for developing WMD's via the Dimona nuclear power plant in the Negev desert.

Here's the oh-so-tiny bit of historical perspective: Past references to Vanunu in Sojourners Magazine:

And...some selected recent coverage on Vanunu's release from the BBC (UK):

Thanks to Shawn for the BBC article on Vanunu that sent me on today's journey.

Happy exploring.

Posted by Amber at 11:35 AM

April 22, 2004

Theology, Film, and a "New" Category: Third Cinema

(Well, new to me at least.)

Just came across these two brief articles from the National Catholic Reporter written by a doctoral student researching systematic theology and "Third Cinema" (which he describes in one of the articles I've highlighted here.)

Ok, I'm intrigued.

In the article I read first, "An earth-friendly film festival," Antonio gives us a run-down of some of the films screened at a festival in the Netherlands.

This film festival was unique because it sought to draw attention to oil extraction and mining activities in the developing world and how those activities have impacted the environment and the human beings living in the midst of this "development."

(I wonder if these films are available anywhere in my neighborhood?....neighborhood=Internet....hmmmm....)

So after reading this review, I thought to myself, "What is this concept of Third Cinema, anyway?"

Luckily for me, at the bottom of the article, there was a link that serendiptitiously stated:

For more on the concept of Third Cinema, see "Third Cinema and the God of the Edge," Global Perspective, Nov. 19, 2003.

So I did. And so I also recommend it to you.

Happy learning.

Posted by Amber at 03:01 PM

April 09, 2004

Obfuscation on the stand: Condoleeza testifies to the murky "truth"

For those of you (including myself) who missed Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission, here is a bit of post-game analysis from "The Nation's" Capital Games column by David Corn. (I have no idea who this person or publication is; I'm just name dropping, I guess -- I found the column from Sojourner's list of alternative media.) Anyway, admittedly, I did intentionally decline watching her testimony, which I came across while changing the channel the other night. I didn't like that cocky smirk on her face. I decided to watch that Watergate documentary on PBS instead. (Remember the lesson of Watergate: "Don't get caught!")

Without further ado, for your reading enjoyment: Rice on the stand

Posted by Amber at 04:13 PM

From one "Ms." to another

An Open Letter from Ms. in Support of Martha Stewart

Posted by Amber at 03:47 PM

April 01, 2004

April Fools

Posted by Amber at 12:53 PM

March 18, 2004

"This is the United States government we are talking about..."

"Any suggestion that the most powerful country in the world cannot make good on its fiduciary duty to Individual Indian Trust beneficiaries should be viewed as the sham that it is—a thinly veiled attempt to punish trust beneficiaries and turn public opinion against proper accounting and distribution of trust funds monies." Full release here: Why Individual Indian Trust Checks Should Not Be Disrupted

I really like that quote. Those lawyers for the plaintiffs at Cobell v. Norton don't pull any punches. =) I wonder if they're having Chris Carter or any of the writers from the X-Files write press releases for them. (See this post.) Oh wait, this isn't fiction. This is actually happening. The United States government (and in this case we're talking about the Department of the Interior, headed by Secretary Gale Norton) has been actively engaged in being the most distrustful, deceptive, and irresponsible fiduciary manager in the history of the United States.

For those of you who unfamiliar with this case, here's a brief excerpt from the Cobell v. Norton Web site:

Cobell v. Norton is a class-action lawsuit filed on June 10, 1996, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to force the federal government to account for billions of dollars belonging to approximately 500,000 American Indians and their heirs, and held in trust since the late 19th century.

Through document discovery and courtroom testimony, the case has revealed mismanagement, ineptness, dishonesty and delay by federal officials, leading U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to declare their conduct "fiscal and governmental irresponsibility in its purest form."

Read more about the case at indiantrust.com

Posted by Amber at 11:36 AM

March 16, 2004

Interior Unfit To Connect to the Internet: Indian Trust Fund Data Vulnerable

Here's an excerpt from an Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton press release, 3/16/2004, that I found particularly interesting....

For the third time since December 2001, a federal district court ordered the Department of the Interior to disconnect its computer systems from the Internet due to pervasive security weaknesses. The United States District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued the preliminary injunction as part of the litigation stemming from the eight-year-old Individual Indian Trust case.

Judge Lamberth found that "the continued connection to the Internet of any IT system that houses or accesses individual Indian trust data constitutes further and continuing irreparable injury to Plaintiffs.... Their continued connection to the Internet provides an opportunity for undetectable, unauthorized persons to access, alter, or destroy individual Indian trust data via an Internet connection." Hundreds of millions of dollars in oil, gas, timber, and grazing trust revenues held on behalf of the individual Indian trust beneficiaries are in jeopardy of loss or theft as a result of Interior’s inability to implement effective security measures.

Read the entire press release at:
Judge Again Orders Interior Dept. to Disconnect Computers from Internet; Cites Vulnerability of Trust Fund Data

I have a few reading recommendations for the Department of the Interior, which seems to be the victim of what can only be described as really really bad leadership. (Unless their mission as a department really is to do harmful, stupid, deceptive things to the country's people and lands.) Here they are:

Ok well, that's well over hundred books right there. So maybe they can start with that. In the meantime, maybe Secretary Norton can check out this little volume, which is really one of my favorites -- and I think with the right attitude and level of receptivity, could really be an agent of positive change in her life, relationships, and work.

Posted by Amber at 02:59 PM

February 25, 2004

Quote of the week

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all, and I think all Americans should be concerned about this."

-- Conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly, who had promised rival ABC last year he would publicly apologize if weapons were not found in Iraq. O'Reilly also said he was "much more skeptical about the Bush administration now" since former weapons inspector David Kay said he did not think Saddam had any weapons of mass destruction. Source: Reuters

Sojourners SojoMail

Posted by Amber at 09:19 AM

January 14, 2004

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War

I caught most of this documentary on PBS after I got home last night. I guess there's an "American Experience" series that PBS hosts and this was a special on the Reconstruction period, the 14 years or so following the civil war, 1863-1877. It was a very interesting look at the Reconstruction.

I was left with a distinctly different impression of that time period than I remember having when I learned about it in history classes in school. And the funny thing about that old impression I had, was that it was not an uncommon impression at all. In fact, the widespread notion that Reconstruction was a big mistake, that African-Americans weren't ready for their newfound freedom was a feeling that was generated deliberately by the politics of the day and even decades later as people sought to even reconstruct the actual history of the Reconstruction. As pointed out in this documentary, the Reconstruction was a relatively short period of time which birthed the first civil rights legislation that America had known. This first civil rights legislative movement was confronted by domestic terrorism, vigilante violence, public calls for assassinations, and the repeal of any civil rights legislation that had been entered into law in that decade following the Civil War. It would be another 100 years in what was actually the second Civil Rights movement for any civil rights legislation to stick in the law books and actually see enforcement in all the States.

It looks like it was only showing for 2 days but they (of course) have a companion Web site set up for the special and I encourage you to take a look.

American Experience | Reconstruction: The Second Civil War | PBS

Happy learning!

Posted by Amber at 10:20 AM

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.

Posted by Amber at 02:50 PM

December 16, 2003

Magazine Site of the Day

Here's one for the magazine rack. The "periodical" home of the Doomsday Clock people:
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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.

Posted by Amber at 03:28 PM

November 19, 2003

Nationalism, War, Foreign Policy and a Silent Church

At last week's CCDA conference, Rev. Craig Wong delivered a message and a prayer of repentance for the "Church's tacit acceptance of our bellicose foreign policy" which has revealed a "compromised gospel that has reduced the American church to nothing more than a state chaplain, good for religious services but impotent in prophetic witness."

Craig's remarks were so encouraging to me and I thought they might be encouraging to you as well, especially if you find yourself asking, where is the voice of the Church in all of this reckless nationalism, war, and foreign policy carried out by the U.S. administration largely on supposedly moral grounds? So I e-mailed Craig and asked if he had his remarks anywhere online and he graciously sent me a PDF.

So here it is, "A Prayer for the Church in the Shadow of Empire." [pdf]

Posted by Amber at 08:19 PM

Alternative media

I am always looking for alternative media sources. And here I've found a list put together by the team at Sojourners. Here's their fine-print regarding the list:

Disclaimer: some of these sites are ultra-left outlets that are as irritating in their knee-jerk rhetoric as their radical right counterparts. They do, however, cover news and issues ignored by mainstream media and are therefore helpful regardless of your score on political litmus tests.

Without further ado...Alternative Media


Posted by Amber at 10:35 AM

November 04, 2003

Senator Daschle Dishes It Out

From the Nov. 3, 2003 COBELL v. NORTON press release: "Citing damaging provisions that would effectively stay the recent Cobell v. Norton decision and the omission of additional funding for the Indian Health Service, Senator Tom Daschle today criticized the FY 2004 Interior Department appropriations bill."

Daschle Dishes It Out Here

Posted by Amber at 09:13 AM

November 03, 2003

The Overwhelming State of Gujarat

I am only just now bringing myself up to speed on the depth and breadth of the injustice that continues to plague the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat. Here are just a few items from the last two months...courtesy of Human Rights Watch (India) and Sabrang Communications ("Protecting & Promoting Human Rights in India").

A grave situation indeed exists in this territory.

In an effort to stay up-to-date I've found a daily monitor of the human rights situation in India.

I will try and find some associated action items to combat the inevitable information-overload-paralysis syndrome.

Posted by Amber at 11:59 AM

It's Called Separation of Powers, Secretary Norton

From an October 31, 2003 COBELL v. NORTON press release:

The House of Representatives, under intense pressure from Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the White House, has acted unconstitutionally and further breached the fiduciary responsibility that the United States government owes to more than 500,000 individual Indian trust beneficiaries.

Read the entire release: House Breaks Trust Responsibility to American Indians in Unconstitutional Move

Posted by Amber at 09:48 AM

October 29, 2003

Got rBGH?

Quote of the day:

It's curious how many free-market evangelists so quickly turn to state intervention when it suits their competitive advantage. —David Batstone

Biochemical giant Monsanto is suing Maine-based Oakhurst dairy in order to force the company to remove a label it places on its milk carton stating, "Our Farmer's Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones."

As far as I can tell, Monsanto's main gripe can be summarized as follows: "Shame on you, mom and pop business, for using the truth to your competitive advantage. We'll take our whiny, corporate-giant, free-market claim to the courts, thank you very much. We would much prefer if you would leave your customers guessing. (Plus, we need to make a LOT more money if we're ever going to be able to pay off the settlements of all those baritone 10-year-olds and cancerous plaintiffs who will come our way in 15 years when our 'promises of safety' fall through the cracks."

While the truth about the positive or negative effects of hormone enhanced dairy products remain to be seen, one interesting fact certainly grabs my attention: although the hormone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is banned in all 15 countries of the European Union as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. (Barstone)

Suspicions about the hormone seem to revolve around the possibility of early puberty in children, and links to colon and breast cancer. Doesn't sound too promising. The positive effects are supposed to be increased production of milk by cows. Mmm. Let me think about this one... Breast cancer vs. Niagra-Cow. Tough choice.

I leave you with this little lesson from history, quoted from Legal Opinion on Monsanto Lawsuit Against Oakhurst Dairy:

Given government and industry's poor record of protecting consumers from unsafe products, exercising the precautionary principle is a reasonable personal choice. Apparently safe products have been proven — over time, and upon further scientific study — to be exceedingly dangerous.

The classic example is asbestos, the "magic" heat resistant component once used in countless products. The long latency period of the lung diseases that resulted from asbestos exposure hid the true dangers of the product from generations of consumers and workers.

Another example is the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), once thought to be safe and effective for preventing miscarriages. DES came into use in 1947. It was not banned until 1971, after it had been shown to cause severe birth defects in the granddaughters of the mothers who originally ingested the drug.

Part of the explanation for these tragic cases, is that products can be approved for consumer use long before the long-term health effects are known.

And finally, I'll really couldn't sleep tonight without waving my tiny banner of activism. I urge you to take action. (Thanks, Sojourners. You guys rock.)

Posted by Amber at 04:13 PM

October 28, 2003

Separation of True and Civil Religion

Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind. The moment a person (or government or religion or organization) is convinced that God is either ordering or sanctioning a cause or project, anything goes. The history, worldwide, of religion-fueled hate, killing, and oppression is staggering.
—Eugene Peterson (from the introduction to the book of Amos in the Bible paraphrase The Message)

If there ever was a time to understand the difference between biblical Christianity and civil religion, it is now. With conservative Christians of all types mobilized to speak out and take a stand, I am forced to ask the question of my (misguided) brothers and sisters in Christ, whose kingdom are you advancing anyway?

So it's time for some action items, courtesy of Sojourners, of course:

Posted by Amber at 01:40 PM

October 27, 2003

Michael Moore Comes to Portland

Thanks to VJ for sharing her perspective on Michael Moore's recent visit to our fair city. I didn't even have to twist her arm! Thanks VJ!

I went to see Michael Moore the other night at Memorial Coliseum. I've been feeling rather morose about the political situation in the U.S. so, it was gratifying to see the place sold out. In spite of glib titles like "Dude, where's my country" and "Stupid White Men", his work is laced with humor but very well researched. He hit the high points you might expect: Bush lied about Iraq, and meanwhile our soldiers are dying there; other developed countries don't understand why we show such disrepect to our worst off; why are our elected officials moving towards electronic voting (which destroys the evidence) when we've recently seen election fraud; Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction, and his old refrain about drug addicts ("lock 'em up and throw away the keys").

One of the humorous high points that he has done on every talk on the tour is a test of civics and geography with the "smartest" Americans versus the "dumbest" Canadian from the audience, where invariably, the Canadian can answer all the questions while the Americans can't. Questions posed to the Americans included who is the Prime Minister of Canada (Jean Chretien), what is the capitol of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), and what are three countries that border Afghanistan (Pakistan, China and Iran are three possibilities).

Moore finished by advising us not to have a "Anyone but Bush" mindset — he reminded us that this early in the process, we could actually say to the candidates — hey, I like most of your stands, but I can't vote for you while you're anti-gun control — and have some effect. I left feeling empowered that I might be able to make some difference.

Posted by Amber at 08:08 PM

October 20, 2003

Saving Endangered Animals by Killing Them?

Found this on AlterNet: Saving Endangered Animals by Killing Them?

Especially note the closing section on the big picture. (Don't even get me started on Secretary Norton. )

Posted by Amber at 03:43 PM

October 14, 2003

Well, almost not everybody is telling the truth...

SCULLY: Mulder, not everything is a labyrinth of dark conspiracy, and not everybody is plotting to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.

Well, almost not everybody. Here's the full transcript of a Sojourners interview in which "two former CIA analysts talk about the lies behind the Iraq war and the heavy weight of conscience."

Condensed version here.

Posted by Amber at 04:10 PM