Peacemaking in Bethlehem

by Lorin Peters

Peacemaking in Bethlehem
Rick, my roommate in Hebron, and the commander of the Israeli occupying force were both honest men.  They grew to trust each other.
In April 2002 Israel invaded Bethlehem.  About 200 residents, along with 30 security officers, ran into the Church of the Nativity for sanctuary.  The IDF (Israeli “Defense” Force) surrounded the Church and imposed a curfew, 24 hours a day, on all homes within four blocks. 
A few days later, Rick encountered the Israeli commander outside Bethlehem.  Rick asked, “Why are you not in Hebron?”  The commander responded, “Let’s go for a walk.”  When they were alone, he continued.  “In three days, the IDF plans to invade the Church.  I refuse to be part of it.  So I requested to be transferred.”  The situation was more desperate than Rick had realized. 
Rick struggled to know what to do.  Finally he went to a place of solitude, lit a candle, and prayed earnestly, asking God for guidance.  Then he waited…  After a long stillness, a vision formed – a small group walking, in silence, towards the Church.  As they approached, soldiers parted and allowed them to pass.
Rick gathered four Christian Peacemaker Teammates (CPT) and four priests, with years of experience.  A plan formed.  They would be ‘transparent’.  When their preparations were complete, they prayed.  Monsignor Moran offered them a whimsical yet serious “blessing of invisibility.” 
They carried food and medicine in transparent bags.  They walked in complete silence.  They avoided the media.  Once they approached soldiers, Rick would make all decisions, without consultation.  The soldiers would see only eight silent spirits. 
When they reached the first squad, above the Fountain of Peace, soldiers blocked their way.  Rick stated, quietly, “It’s OK.”  The soldiers stepped aside.  At the entrance to Manger Square, in front of the Church, the same thing happened.  The second squad just watched them pass.
As they crossed the Square, two jeeps roared up.  Ten excited soldiers intercepted them, with rifles pointed, just in front of the Church.  They knelt, prayed, and began to sing “Ubi Caritas”.  The soldiers grew silent.
Rick spoke, “This food is for the people trapped in the Church.”   The commanding officer replied, “No, we can not allow that.”  Because the soldiers were standing in the crosshairs of security guns inside the Courtyard of the Church, Rick moved to the back of the Square, where the soldiers would be safer.
He asked, “We are getting phone calls about babies starving in the curfew.  May we deliver food to them?”  Several soldiers responded, “Yes, we hear babies crying.”  Twelve volunteered to lead the CPTs and priests to families with babies.
Afterwards, for the first time in 12 days, the IDF lifted the curfew on the homes near the Church.  Two days later, negotiations began between the IDF and the Palestinians inside the Church.  The imminent invasion of the Church was never carried out.  Apparently, Rick’s vision and their action created a space for the Israelis to negotiate.  Yet Rick and his companions thought they were just taking food and medicine to those trapped inside the Church.  God’s ways are beyond ours.




Scientists are now considering a march on Washington……….


A huge outcry was made by the scientists across the United States who are decrying President Trump’s actions against the EPA—–nothing seems to be getting into his head so far from the scientific proofs , researching, articles, journals, etc. etc. about climate change and the effect that we humans have on it…..Pray God the scientists, with our support will carry this effort forward.   sr. Paulette

The War Horror Has Begun

Here we are on Day 5 of the Donald Trump presidency, and he’s got “special” forces of the U.S. military in two-thirds of the world’s nations. He’s engaged in serious occupation and/or bombing campaigns in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. He just sent malicious robot airplanes armed with missiles to blow to pieces a bunch of vaguely-identified but never indicted “criminals” in Yemen. Their body parts were widely scattered and their loved ones devastated. The injured writhed in agony.

We made it through a presidential campaign in which a debate moderator asked if a candidate would be willing to kill thousands of innocent children, and in which Donald Trump promised to “kill their families” and “steal their oil.” And here we are on Trump’s very first Terror Tuesday, and he’s already in possession of the most expensive and extensive military machine ever seen on earth. His speed is remarkable. Already he has troops in 175 nations (and announcers are thanking them for watching sporting events as if it were all just normal).

A “Terror Tuesday,” for those who haven’t yet heard, is a day on which a president goes through a list of men, women, and children and picks which ones to have murdered. Don’t ask me where this tradition came from. The point is that it now belongs to President Trump, should he choose to make use of it. President Trump, need I remind you, is a Republican.

But various subordinates of the president have been authorized, or perhaps authorized themselves, to order drone murders. Those that occurred yesterday in Yemen were quite likely carried out without any involvement from Donald Trump, other than his responsibility under the Constitution for what his subordinates do.

Trump, in fact, was engaged in bombing the hell out of Mosul, Iraq, and parts of Libya as well, on the very day he was inaugurated, and even before he was inaugurated. He’s got 8,000 troops plus mercenaries, contractors, and allied troops adding up to over 40,000 people occupying Afghanistan — a war that his predecessor had ended. And he had this force in place even before inauguration. He’s got a major war underway in Iraq, another war famously ended by the guy who came before him. And this war, too, he started even before showing up in Washington.

Trump even went in person to the CIA on Day 1 and announced that the United States should have somehow stolen all of Iraq’s oil and might still do so. This created massive confusion among the journalists and approximately 8 members of the public who heard about it, because of course the U.S. military is in Iraq on the side of the Iraqi people (just don’t ask them) and so it would be nonsensical for the U.S. to attack Iraq.

Trump and those around him have also threatened war with China over the South China Sea, although when a journalist tried to get Trump’s press secretary to commit to it on Day 4, he declined.

Oddly, much of this new war horror show has passed without notice, as though it were somehow just a continuation of acceptable norms. What has horrified the press corps, however, is the danger that peace might break out in Syria, and further hostilities risking World War III with Russia might be delayed. Liberals are also quite upset that Trump might question claims coming out of the CIA.

So it’s not as though the public is completely failing to react to the new horrors of war. One might even go so far as to say that wide swaths of the U.S. public are behaving on the model of a Nobel Peace laureate.

Words of Richard Rohr—so applicable

Image Credit: The Way of the Prophet (detail), silhouette image art work by Mike Van, concept by Vivienne Close.


Bias from the Bottom
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The vast majority of people throughout history has been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have experienced history in terms of a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the top. Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners, except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom: from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself.

We see in the Gospels that it’s those on the bottom who tend to follow Jesus: the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners, the outsiders, and the foreigners. It is demonstrably those on the inside and the top who crucify him: elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, scribes, and Roman occupiers. Shouldn’t that tell us something really important about perspective? Every viewpoint is a view from a point, and we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the truth all the way through.

Western Christians fail to appreciate liberation theology because of seventeen hundred years of interpreting the Scriptures from the perspective of the empowered clergy class, rather than from the perspective of the marginalized, who first received the Gospel message with such excitement. Once Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire (after AD 313), we largely stopped reading the Bible from the side of the poor and the oppressed. This is why our present Pope Francis is such a monumental breakthrough, holding together both prophet and priest, both bottom and top. He is sure to suffer much for attempting to do what Jesus did.

For the first 300 years after Jesus’ death, Christians were the oppressed minority; we were rebels hiding in catacombs. But by the year 400, Christians had changed places. We moved from the catacombs to the basilicas. That is when we started reading the Bible not as subversive literature but as establishment literature. Once we were in a position of power and privilege, we couldn’t read or understand many Scriptures (for example, the Sermon on the Mount) because we had to maintain our empire, and in this direction the Scriptures give us little support or consolation

But when Scripture is read through the eyes of vulnerability—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the bias from the bottom—it will always be liberating and transformative. Scripture will not be used to oppress or impress. The question is no longer “How can I maintain the status quo?” (which just happens to benefit me), but “How can we all grow and change together?” Now we have no top to protect, and the so-called “bottom” becomes the place of education, real change, and transformation.

The bottom, or what Jesus calls “the poor in Spirit” (Matthew 5:3) in his opening address, is where we have no privilege to prove or protect but much to seek and become. Dorothy Day said, “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.” [1] From that place, we can be used as instruments of transformation and liberation for the rest of the world

America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama’s reign

droneLooking back at President Obama’s legacy, the Council on Foreign Relation’s Micah Zenko added up the defense department’s data on airstrikes and made a startling revelation: in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. 
While most of these air attacks were in Syria and Iraq, US bombs also rained down on people in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. That’s seven majority-Muslim countries. 
One bombing technique that President Obama championed is drone strikes. As drone-warrior-in-chief, he spread the use of drones outside the declared battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly to Pakistan and Yemen. Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing. 
President Obama has claimed that his overseas military adventures are legal under the 2001 and 2003 authorizations for the use of military force passed by Congress to go after al-Qaida. But today’s wars have little or nothing to do with those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.         Medea Benjamin, Code Pink

Heading to D.C. to Stand in Solidarity with the Detainees in Guantanamo

witness-against-torture-fast-for-justice-2012-1024x678-aTomorrow, Jan 3 three other people and I will head off to D.C. to join the rest of the community of Witness Against Torture for the annual fast and prayer and Action on behalf of the men in Guantanamo Bay Prison which  has existed since 2002.  We will march in our orange suits to the various seats of power in D.C. to raise the voices of the Men detained yet in Guantanamo.  Please join us in prayer and  “stay with us” by going onto the facebook of Witness against Torture.

There will be an entry each day of the fast.

Thanks everyone…………we’re hoping and praying and acting.  Paulette