Friday, August 8, 2014

Not in the Christian Envelope


This story from friend and fellow writer Marilyn introduces my theme. She and her husband drove to Little Falls where she had an interview. After that, on a whim, they decided to drive to the Franciscan Convent.
The receptionist told us no one was available to do a tour, that we should walk around by ourselves. We got to the end of a corridor and a nun stepped out of an office. Harold noticed her name . . . related to a friend of Harold's. . . . after a few exchanges, she offered to give us a tour, very extensive; just all over the place where many never get. We had a great time with her.

When we left her, I said we should stop at the gift shop. I thought I should buy a little something. I found a very nice little wooden box with a verse in it that I liked. I took it up to the counter and the nun there told me Sister Loretta made it; that it's the only thing in the shop she makes and sells there. Sister Loretta was the nun that had given us the tour.

I immediately wondered why I picked up that little box. My knees actually felt weak. What prompted me to select this one item made by her? Harold heard it, too, and was just as astonished as I was.
Jung identifies these incidents as synchronicity. I think they signal the heart of spirituality, and they are not religious.

I obtain more spiritual nourishment from such moments when the Inner Reign bursts into our awareness than from any religious tract or service. Marilyn and I conversed together after she emailed this, and we wondered together about their mystery and our response of feeling gifted, awed. When I’m down, they console me with the assurance that the Inner Realm exists.

The happening at St. Francis followed hours in a military camp, where Marilyn and Harold were jolted by the title given to what we usually call “The Civil War.”  There it was titled “The Second Civil War.”
The first?  The one with Native-Americans. A Momentous Realization, this one.
How do the two striking incidents fit together?  Once she had been broken open by the first, her spirit was ready to accept the second.

Messages from the Other Side like to crowd in together. When we are broken open, realizations and insights tumble in too fast to capture in words, which I always want to do. I can’t capture this morning, but I’ll trudge on, trying to capture as much as I can.

Marilyn’s story perfectly fit the happenings in my life now, another example of synchronicity.
Our womanpriest group, Mary Magdalene, First Apostle, is looking at the Emmaus story (Lk 24: 13-35)—the disciples of Jesus having an encounter with a stranger after Jesus’ death and suddenly recognizing him as Jesus. An encounter with the Invisible Reign breaking into material reality.

For me the Emmaus story is not exclusively Christian but an example mirrored in countless similar religious stories from other traditions and stories that have nothing to do with religion, like Marilyn’s and mine.
The synchronicities underline the clarity I received this week about my personal purpose at this time in my life—to challenge outmoded Christian claims and assumptions.
that Jesus is the supreme human being, the ONLY son of God.
that our religion is supreme.

Divinity is opportunistic, striking when the soul is open. When I was going through the womb/tomb period in my life—midlife crisis is another name for it—I was flooded with synchronous events. Accounts of them dot my writings here and there.

And what about you, dear readers? Don’t you have moments when an Invisible Hand manipulates reality just so to nourish you, or calm you, or save you?  Perhaps you need something and for some unreasonable reason the object you need appears right in front of you? 

Years ago a committed atheist in my neighborhood was trying to shovel out after a humungous snowfall. Seeing how impossible it was without mechanical help, he mentally threw out a desperate plea for help. Along came a snow-removal machine from another neighbor and quickly cleaned out his drive.  When he almost sheepishly told me the story, I laughed uproariously.  He interpreted it as “coincidence,” because he didn’t want to credit any spiritual source.  I didn’t bother trying to explain what I thought, but as I remember it, he was a little rattled.

How fittingly the Transcendent Realm nourishes us! Marilyn bought the box for someone who is going through alcohol treatment. Inside was this verse:
This box is for your worries, the aches within your heart. A place to tuck away your fears, where love and hope can start. So keep this little box beside you, and know how much they care, for when you need peace and joy the angels will be there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaza. Shame on us.


It has been years since I’ve written about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Criticizing the Church is easy compared with addressing American ignorance about Palestine, where a people subjected to genocide in the past has become the main aggressor.  US power perpetuates the horror. It raises such feelings of anger and rage in me....... what it must feel like to Palestinians!

Pointing out wrongs in the Church is easy compared with addressing wrongs in government. When I write about religion I feel the long, slow but inexorable movement of evolution righting the wrongs, and I’m moving with its weight.  The situation in Palestine feels hopeless because the world’s superpower, our country, is on the wrong side.
(I add this caveat—Secretary of State John Kerry seems genuinely trying to be fair. Other US politicians in the past have tried—another long story.)

I’m biased in favor of the underdog, the Palestinians, whom I see as comparable to native Americans in this country—deprived of their homeland by immigrants. Both sides have needs and grievances, but one side has almost all the power. That’s the hell of it. Worse hell—our taxes fund the weapons killing and raining misery onto the people of Palestine.

A shallow reading of the news leads to the impression that Israel hurts Palestinians only when Palestinian terrorists first hurt defenseless Israelis. It is always Hamas that is blamed because it doesn’t accept the right of Israel to exist. But Israel does not accept the right of Palestine to exist! This has been made clear by its continual theft of more and more land and houses in the West Bank. And more cruelly by its treatment of Gazans.

I am disgusted every time I hear that Israel has “the right to defend itself.” Don’t Palestinians have the right to defend themselves?   
The truth is that Hamas is defending a population daily receiving Israeli aggression. When the world pays no attention because no rockets or bombs are flying, Palestinians go on suffering, literally and economically starved by a blockade Israel started in 2007, which stops goods coming in and going out. Although not a total siege, it essentially is the kind of strategy that has won wars.
WikiLeaks uncovered an American diplomatic cable quoting Israeli diplomats as saying they wanted to "keep Gaza's economy on the brink of collapse." It takes little imagination to realize the effect on Gaza, where 80% of the population depends on international aid.

All Gazans can muster in defense is poorly aimed rocket fire, while Israel fires with the precision and might of the world’s superpower at its back. American ignorance sends taxpayer dollars to give Israel impunity—the ability to commit crimes without being held accountable.
Hamas refuses to go along with cease fire agreements that do not also end the siege.  How can anyone fault it for this?

Over and over we hear Israel’s claim that Hamas militants use human shields. Here’s the truth. Stateless Hamas can only wage a guerilla war and Gaza is densely populated. The fighters live and work among civilians. There is nowhere else for them to go but near and in schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential places.
From USA today:
Many residents compare Gaza to an open-air prison hemmed in by Israel, the Mediterranean Sea and the closed Egyptian border.
Furthermore, Israeli military headquarters also are surrounded by civilians. The Guardian gives a reasoned, balanced overview of this human shield claim.
Partisans for Israel argue there is no moral equivalence between Hamas and the government of Israel.  I like this answer: 
That Hamas’s rocket attacks do not distinguish between military and civilian targets is criminal. But what defines the moral difference between Palestinians and the Jews of Israel is that Israelis have a state of their own, while Palestinians have lived without rights under Israel’s military occupation that has lasted nearly half a century.

During Israel’s War of Independence when the Jews of Palestine were fighting for a state of their own, they too targeted civilian areas and committed atrocities against Palestinian civilians in order to encourage the exodus of 700,000 Arabs from their homes, . . . 
Israeli authors documented the crimes and sought to justify them by arguing that there would not have been a Jewish state without them.
Why would that argument not serve to justify Hamas’s crimes as well?

Mr. Netanyahu is fond of declaring that the difference “between us and them” is that Israelis do not celebrate the deeds of terrorists. Apparently he is not aware that Israelis not only have named streets for the heads of Jewish terrorist groups (the Irgun and the Stern Gang), but elected them—Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir—as heads of state.
Henry Siegman, New York
Actual sentence in the NYTimes (reported in The Nation):
The developments followed a relatively quiet night, in which the Israeli military bombed 25 sites in Gaza.
The Goldstone Report illustrates why Americans should be ashamed of our complicity in the persecution of Palestine. The widely-respected report came from a team established by the UN to investigate alleged violations of human rights by both sides during the 2008 invasion of Gaza that killed 1,200 Palestinians. Israel refused to cooperate with the investigation and rejected the result.  Hamas first rejected some findings, then urged countries to embrace the report, which accused military forces of both sides for possible crimes against humanity. It also recommended that Israel pay reparations to Gazans.  

Here’s the thing: The US blocked the UN Human Rights Council from accepting the Goldstone Report of 2008. This followed 40 times that the US has blocked UN action critical of Israel.

Both sides are losers as this conflict continues, which could be stopped by the US. Stop its reflexive, unconditional support of Israel. Stop giving it military support. Stop the blockade. Stop excusing its crimes. Stop squeaking timidly when Israel pursues its murderous theft of Palestinian territory. 
And the media have to stop. Stop broadcasting, over and over, Netanyahu’s lies.

Shame on us for letting our government continue doing wrong.
For the voice of conscience from Jews, see Jewish Voice for Peace.