Category Archives: Uncategorized

Responding to a question commonly asked of me over here in Australia – who are the Mennonites?

For a brief general overview about the origins as well as the contemporary nature of Anabaptist Mennonites (though admittedly with a mostly North American focus in this  video) go here.

So how about Australia – are there Mennonite churches in this country?  Well, the short answer is no, Mennonites like me, living in Australia, are far and few between. But people who have adopted an Anabaptist theology and vision for life for themselves in this region of the world are most likely to be involved as members in all sorts of other denominations or religious groups – but, hey, we do have a vibrant network of communication and support!  Check it out here

Gate A-4

Wonderful…just wonderful.

Live & Learn

naomi_shihab_nye

Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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On Doing War Crimes With Depleted Uranium

War Crimes Are US!

In The Absence of Heroes in America Now

He was a child of enormous privilege, the son of a filthy-rich war-profiteer industrialist. During the early part of his career, he helped ruin innocent people while seated at the right hand of Joe McCarthy and played the game of thrones next to his brother in the Oval Office with millions of people’s lives.

And then he suffered a great loss, and became a different man, a better man, and wrapped his new perspective around his enormous power and influence. He stared true poverty in the face, realized how evil the war he helped to start was, and set out to make change with the same hard-nosed zeal for which he had become famous.

And then someone shot him dead in a kitchen.

You can lay a finger on dozens of moments in this country’s history when fate turned on its axis in a way that changed everything… and tall in the running for Most important, to me, is the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He was one of them, then born again as one of us. His murder is a moment we are still recovering from as a nation, and we will still be short of that recovery for a long, long time.

Where Robert Kennedy was inspired by Martin Luther King’s opposition to the Vietnam War to take the same stance, today our leaders pay homage to Dr. King while planning air strikes against Syria. We need heroes today more than ever, but in the absence of Bobby and MLK, we must find those heroes within ourselves. You and I, all of us, are the ones we have been waiting for, and we have been here all along.

– William Rivers Pitt, columnist and editor of TruthOut.org

Link

Certain secure email services in America are willing to simply close down in order to protect their users!

Has it really come down to this? Email security gurus are pulling the plug on their secure email businesses.  Silent Server carried out a pre-emptive measure inspired by Lavabit’s tough self-shuttering decision, which of course is a worrying sign for the US-hosted secure communications industry.

Everyone realizes now that data or messages sent over lines or received by equipment which is physically connected to American shores (even if it starts in another country) are NOT truly secure anymore!

So, what are you going to use?  Or are you just not going to worry about it — not going to think about how others are reading your mail (watching your habits – analyzing your “metadata”) and just let the courts eventually decide — for there surely are constitutional issues involved!

Achieving “Human” Immortality By 2045?!

THIS got some major attention in the NYT as well when some of the smartest people in the world attended a major conference last weekend in New York City on how to achieve immortality!

We’ve now officially entered a whole new era where the human mind and consciousness are going to be blended in with computing and avatars.  Fifty years ago they said we would never successfully transplant organs. Never say never!

But the author of the article I cited first (above) raises at least one very important question in his own commentary.

I would like to have seen some ethicists in attendance  (I didn’t see any on the list of presenters that I scanned) to raise some other questions in that conference, because – at least in my mind –  some serious ethical and theological issues are now coming to the fore.

What does it mean to be human?  What comprises personality and “soul?” (Does this represent a modern day “Tower of Babel” where we are trying to control too much?)

Well, dear reader, what sorts of issues and questions does all this prompt in you? Feel free to leave a comment below, or some other place where I have posted a link to this column.

-Clair in Canberra

When Victory Brings Disaster

My heart really went out to these Colombian villagers when I read their story today.  They are truly in need of our prayers and some tangible moral support and accompaniment – probably more now than ever before.   I hope someone reading this might respond to this appeal from CPT International.  There are people ready to go to Columbia now to help support them, if the necessary funds can be raised.   I hear about these things because of my (volunteer) involvement in the CPT AustralAsia Regional Group.  -Clair

CPTnet – 18 June 2013 – COLOMBIA:

When victory brings disaster—Las Pavas and Garzal/Nueva Experanza need your help now!

by Pierre Shantz

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then
can be saved?”27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is
impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”28 Then
Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”29 “Truly I tell
you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or
mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to
receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers,
sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age
to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last
first.”   – Mark 10:26-31  (New International Version)

Victories are for celebrating.  They are moments that give us the satisfaction of a job well done.  That the fight we undertook was worth it.  Why then in Colombia does a victory for so many communities who struggle for something as basic as a piece of land to farm to provide food for their families, become a nightmare and for some a death sentence?

This sounds sad and discouraging and I wish I didn’t have to paint such a
bleak picture but to hide the truth would be worse.  In fact for the past
months, we as a team have (not intentionally) hidden the truth by announcing several victories.  We did it because in fact there have been several victories that fully deserve a celebration.  Also for our own emotional
health we needed to enjoy these moments.  Communities affected by the
violence of the ongoing economic, political, and armed conflict of Colombia
don’t often have victories, tangible successes to grab on to.   We even used
them as a fundraising strategy because hey, everyone wants to support a
winning team.

Great victories happened for Garzal/Nueva Esperanza and Las Pavas, two
communities that CPT Colombia accompanies and under normal  circumstances we would all still be celebrating.  But as I said earlier these victories have become hard-to-imagine tragedies that could dishearten the happiest soul…

Read the outcome to this story (and more background) HERE