15 February 2024

Christians calling for a free Palestine

Christians for a Free Palestine: screenshots from this evening's Zoom call. Clockwise: Erica Williams, Cole Parke-West, Rifat Kassis. Others involved in leading this evening's presentation included Margaret Ernst, SueAnn Shiah, Jonathan Brenneman.

We confess that Your message has been manipulated by those who claim Your name. Rifat Kassis (in prayer).

There are so many reasons to turn away, and we need you [Christians] to stay, Palestine needs you to stay. Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg.

This Lent we're not to GIVE UP anything, but to STAND UP. Rev. Erica Williams.

Just a short post today to report on this evening's interesting "mass mobilization call" on behalf of Christians for a Free Palestine.

I had found out about this call from friends who knew about my longstanding concern for Palestine. Having written on my blog last week about the use of "Christian civilization" as a justification for outright cruelty, I was relieved to learn about an effort to organize Christians to stand against one of the most blatantly cruel spectacles currently underway under the eyes of the whole world—the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip.

That campaign has reached a place of lethal absurdity in Israel's demands that Palestinians evacuate Rafah, where over a million of them have sought relative safety after being driven out of points further north. Among the actions we took this evening was to leave voicemail messages with our elected representatives and senators, using the calling facilities of Jewish Voice for Peace and a suggested script:

In the slightly longer term, we were given links to join a regional community-building program, and encouraged to spread the word on a Day of Action at senators' and representatives' offices, planned for March 18. The next mass call will take place on the previous day, March 17.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the hour is very late, and any credible campaign for Christians to rise up against the slaughter of Palestinians is worth considering. This evening's event had plenty of the signals I associate with the activist subculture, but my sense was that the prayer and the music and the appeals to mobilize were sincere, honest, and non-manipulative. For example, almost unbelievably, there were no images of the suffering and ruin to which we desperately desire to respond. The co-opting of our faith in the service of imperialism was very clearly denounced, but nobody aimed invective at any specific villains. Instead, we sang, "There is power in the Name of Jesus, to break every chain...."

I saw that this evening's call was recorded, and if a link to the recording is supplied, I'll update this post. Likewise, if I learn that my trust in this effort was misplaced, I'll also update. 

In the meantime, consider joining a regional group through this link, and judge for yourself. But, in any case, in addition to praying without ceasing, let's make some noise! In particular, let's confront the heresies of white supremacy and Christian Zionism that encourage and compound these outrages, and spread the genuine Good News with humility and boldness in the strong name of Jesus, and without glibness or denial in the presence of suffering.

One of the participants in this evening's call pointed out that there are more members of Christians United for Israel than there are Jewish people in the USA.

Do you think Len Gutkin is right about a hyperbolic style in American academe?

The hyperbolic style is marked by a cluster of generic traits. First, it emphasizes its speaker’s, or else some other potential victim’s, vulnerability to harm, up to and including murder. Second, it relies on distant historical analogies meant to heighten its urgency. Third, it is hortatory, alarmed, exigent: Something needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. Fourth (and this is its most “academic” feature) it makes large but ambiguous claims about the structural or systemic aspect of one or another threat.

Timothy Snyder on Vladimir Putin's genocidal myth.

Madeleine Davies, a senior writer at Britain's Church Times, reviews Karen Swallow Prior's The Evangelical Imagination.

What is needed, she suggests, is nothing less than another Reformation. If the first concerned the truth revealed in scripture, this one must confront “the way and the life revealed in Jesus—and how the Church has failed to follow and embody it”.

We need more Howard Thurman in our politics, says David Gowler at Religion News Service.

Mike Farley: Lent is a strange period in many ways.

Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas, announces a new program of mutual learning and encouragement among Friends churches and meetings—Quaker Connect—and is seeking a new staff member to serve this new program. Note! Deadline for applications is March 1. 

Martin Kelley considers the new Quaker histories ... and how expensive they can be. Do we need a movement toward open access among Quakers academics and their institutions? (By the way, since Martin mentioned JSTOR: I found out when researching Fairhope, Alabama, and the Friends community in Monteverde, Costa Rica, that our public library here in Multnomah County, Oregon, makes JSTOR available without charge to cardholders.)

A self-serving PS: Since I'm among those who cannot afford those expensive books (thought I've bought some slightly older books at used book stores), I find these scholars' blogs a helpfui way to stay at least somewhat informed. And here's a sobering thought: I've now been a Quaker for fifty years, which means that my own lifespan as a Quaker already spans almost 15% of Quaker history!

Here's something a bit different: a Russian rock musician's approach to what I think qualifies as blues (at least as far as the lyrics are concerned)—Konstantin Nikolsky's "When you understand with your mind." The lyrics and a translation appear after the video. At first glance, it's a bit of a gloomy and ironic song, not qualities I usually look for, but it's probably my favorite of his many hits.

By some miracle of timing, I once heard Nikolsky live. It was during the financial crisis of 1998, and he appeared in a small Moscow club with an audience of less than 20.

Константин Никольский, "Когда поймешь умом."

Когда поймешь умом,
что ты один на свете,
И одиночества дорога так длинна,
То жить легко и думаешь о смерти,
Как о последней капле горького вина.
Вот мой бокал, в нем больше ни глотка
Той жизни, что как мед была сладка.
В нем только горечь неразбавленной печали,
Оставшейся на долю старика.
Бокал мой полон, но друзей не стану
Я больше угощать питьем своим.
Я их люблю, дай боже счастья им.
Пускай они пьют воду из под крана.
Для мира сделаю я много добрых дел,
Во веки вечные их не забудут люди.
И если выйдет все, как я хотел,
То, боже милый, мир прекрасным будет.
Послав страдания на голову мою,
Послав отчаянье душе моей правдивой,
Пошли мне веру, я о ней спою,
И дай мне силы,
Чтобы стать счастливым.
When you understand with your mind
that you are alone in the world,
And the road of loneliness is so long,
Then life is easy and you think about death,
Like the last drop of a bitter wine.
Here's my glass, there's not another sip in it
That life that was as sweet as honey.
Now there's only the bitterness of undiluted grief,
That remains as an old man's share.
My glass is full, but I won't make friends
I'll offer more of what I'm drinking.
I love them, God bless them.
Let them drink water from the tap.
For the world, I'll do many good deeds,
Forever and ever, people won't forget them,
And if everything turns out the way I wanted,
Then, dear God, the world will be wonderful.
Having sent suffering to my head,
Having sent despair to my truthful soul,
Send me faith, I'll sing about it,
And give me the strength to become glad.


Dan Wilcox said...

I agree with you that what the wrong-wing Israeli government has been doing--bombing so intensively that almost 28,000 'Gazans have died--is horrifically immoral and unjust.
BUT I've also lived and worked in Palestine-Israel in the past. When I lived there on a Jewish kibbutz near Bet Shean, Palestinian Muslim militants stormed into the town and gunned down innocent civilians in their apartments....etc. and after those times, HAMAS and other Palestinians have murdered many thousands of innocent civilians at religious gatherings, at bus stops--heck a Palestinian murdered a 13-year-old Jewish girl in her bedroom; and he was praised by the Palestinian leaders:_(
So what is the Jesus-answer for the innocent Jews living under mostly constant terrorism from Palestinians for the last 100 years?
Yes, I know there were Jewish terrorists and that the Israeli government has committed horrific actions for many years...I've followed P-I news since 1967 and read many histories. What ought to be done? Thanks for sharing your perspective . Dan

Johan Maurer said...

And thank you, too, Dan. In case you didn't see it earlier, here's an article I linked to a couple of months ago, that reflects the kind of rootedness in spirit and reality that I sense in your comment: "'Killing an Arab': Reflections on Loyalty to Humanity."

Dan Wilcox said...

Tragically, I knew all of this and more. I am thankful that you linked to his powerful article (his attempting to summarize 100 years of Jewish versus Muslim conflict in P-I).

Hopefully, many will read this who have been misguided all of their lives the false claims (of both Jews and Muslims).