Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As the drums rumble for war with Iran

This video made me cry...

"Love is not a luxury
and it's not a crime..."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Caution: woman armed with tambourine!

I sang my heart out and beat my knee black and blue with my tambourine to drown out the absurdity of it all.

When I arrived at the corner of High and Market, the pro-war counterprotesters were already gathering in front of the courthouse, as they have for the past month or so, waving huge American flags. Some dressed in khakis, others in denim jackets liberally decorated with flag patches. I must confess that I never thought the sight of my own country's flag would frighten me, but the war supporters just have a way of brandishing it like a weapon.

When Karen got there, she calmly led our group to the corner diagonally across the street. The spokesperson for the pro-war group is bragging that they succeeded in "taking" the courthouse...but they were not able to silence us or stop us from holding our vigil. Volunteer observers from the ACLU were also present. I'll be interested in reading their report.

Our little rag-tag quartet --consisting of guitar, mandolin, flute, and tambourine-- stood behind the rest of the peaceniks, who effectively absorbed the noise emanating from the boom box that the pro-war group was blasting on the other side of the street. Occasionally some of the counterprotesters revved their motorcycles too. We raised our voices in songs by Neil Young, John McCutcheon, Woody Guthrie, and others. Someone requested "Let There Be Peace on Earth," and singing that one, as well as "We Shall Overcome" raised my spirits.

As we stood for our closing moment of silence, someone across the street thundered at us that every time we marched we killed another American soldier. Funny, we've tried to put ourselves in their shoes, imagined how we must look to them.

I wonder if they ever do the same.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eyes Wide Open Across PA at Schuylkill Friends Meeting, Phoenixville, PA
October 13, 2007

Shadows that linger
shadows that remind
shades of loved ones that used to be
   that might still have been

As faithfully we watch and work
the shadows take on an incandescent glow
   Peace shines forth.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eyes Wide Open Across PA

It's 6:30 am. I rarely get up this early when it's not a work day. But the work today is to assemble and staff the Eyes Wide Open exhibit. The AFSC facilitator spent the night at our house. Before bed it was our sad task to check the website for newly fallen American soldiers from PA so we can put the number on our sign...

OK...I have a date with 175 pairs of boots and 50 pairs of civilian shoes...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A pickup truck full of boots

On Saturday our meeting will be hosting Eyes Wide Open Across Pennsylvania: An Exhibit on the Human Cost of War. An EWO groupie for some time now, I decided it was time to become an organizer. We needed to collect the exhibit from Kennett Friends Meeting. Two members of our meeting, one of whom owns a pickup truck, kindly offered to transport the exhibit.

When I met them at Kennett Friends, they had almost finished loading the boot-filled bins into the pickup. I packed the bags of civilian shoes and a few other odds and ends into my Corolla, and about an hour later everything was stacked in our First Day school building.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Dispensing with dispensationalism

I'm currently reading The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, by Barbara R. Rossing. The author traces the origins of dispensationalist Christianity, or the Premillinennialist doctrine of those awaiting the Rapture, the Tribulation, and finally the Glorious Appearing of Jesus ... who will lead the earthly bloodbath to end all bloodbaths.

I guess what I really find strange about all this is that the preachers and followers of this doctrine are so convinced that they're on God's good side and that they're going to survive Armageddon. I mean ... isn't that just a bit presumptuous ... and convenient?

Although this blow-by-blow interpretation of the Book of Revelation has only been around for about 170 years, that's long enough for several generations of Christians to have become indoctrinated. In the U.S., it became really widespread thanks to the book by Hal Lindsey, The Late, Great Planet Earth, published in the 1970's. Back then, it was the USSR that was supposed to be the incarnation of the Antichrist. Since then, Lindsey keeps conveniently updating his blueprint for earth's destruction as world events change. (Gee, why didn't God think of that? I mean, how does She expect us to relate to all those shepherd types? I've never met a shepherd in my life!) Now, of course, Islamic extremists constitute the Antichrist.

This particular theology of the last days derives entirely, as Rossing tells us, from 3 verses of the Book of Daniel:

Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. " (Daniel 9:25-27)

John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century English preacher who later came to the U.S., took these 3 verses and made them the key to understanding the Bible. The main tenets of his dispensationalist doctrine have been bandied about so freely in the media, that many people do not even realize that:

--There is no mention of a rebuilt Jerusalem temple anywhere in the New Testament, including Revelation;
--Neither Daniel nor Revelation uses the word Antichrist;
--There is no record in Revelation or Daniel of the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel;
--There is no record in Daniel or Revelation of the Antichrist breaking a covenant with Israel;
--There is no mention that the Jews will set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem. (The Rapture Exposed, p.41)

Rossing concludes: "To make sense, their biblical chronology must combine bits and pieces of the Bible written many centuries apart and under very different circumstances into one overarching narrative." (Sort of the way the Church "harmonized" the four gospels, except that the discrepancies in their dates of origin aren't nearly as extreme.)

Here are some other things Rossing says:

"The dispensationalist vision of the biblical storyline requires tribulation and war in the Middle East, not peace plans."

"Whenever people invoke biblical prophets to support a program of violence or injustice, this is a misuse of the Bible. This is extremism."

Or, as a Jewish theologian put it, this interpretation amounts to: "God so loved the world that he sent it World War III."

It occurs to me that parts of the Bible such as the Book of Daniel and Revelation, with their phantasmagoric imagery, are very susceptible to all sorts of vivd, imaginative interpretation ... and people just seem to get lost in the fantasy of it all. Left Behind was a 12-book series and went on to spawn graphic novels, radio dramatizations, film versions, a video game and, of course, the inevitable website. In the meantime, there is no trace of comprehension --let alone empathy-- for those caught in the Middle East conflict.

On the other hand, simple directives such as: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...." well, they leave little to the imagination. Nothing much you can do with them except ignore them... or put them into practice!

...I'm eagerly making my way toward Rossing's "message of hope."