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







BDS ‘free expression’—attorneys say

Legal experts back Palestinian BDS as ‘free expression’

Lawyers say Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel is ‘lawful exercise of freedom of expression’.

 man-with-soldiers-and-bdsA number of Western states are considering outlawing BDS [EPA]

Around 200 leading legal experts have signed a statement defending the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) as a lawful exercise of freedom of expression.

The legal experts from 15 countries agreed the BDS movement should be treated the same way as the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa.

Lawyers backing Friday’s statement include South African jurist John Dugard, who served at the International Court of Justice, and Guy Goodwin-Gill, former legal adviser for the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“No government ever attempted to outlaw or criminalise the Anti-Apartheid Movement for advocating boycott, disinvestment or sanctions to compel South Africa to abandon its racist policies,” Dugard said. “BDS should be seen as a similar movement and treated accordingly.”

Robert Kolb, a legal expert who served with the Swiss Foreign Ministry, said BDS activism should be legally protected.

“The right of citizens to advocate for BDS is part and parcel of the fundamental freedoms protected by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights,” said Kolb, who was part of the group that signed the statement.

BDS groups welcomed the lawyers’ statement, terming it a “defining moment” before saying the backing would help quell attempts by pro-Israel groups to proscribe the movement.

“This is a defining moment in the struggle against Israel’s patently repressive legal war on the BDS movement for Palestinian rights,” said Ingrid Jaradat of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, a coalition of civil society groups at the forefront of the movement.

“Leading European jurists have now confirmed that advocating and campaigning for Palestinian rights under international law is a legally guaranteed right for Europeans and indeed all citizens of the world.

“Israel’s desperate attempts to outlaw the BDS movement and to legally bully its supporters into silence threatens democratic space.”

Crackdowns on BDS

A number of measures targeting the BDS movement have been introduced in Israel and Western countries with varying degrees of success.

Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama approved legislation that required official non-cooperation with groups that comply with boycotts of Israel. Around 20 US states have passed anti-BDS bills or are in the process of doing so.

In France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has tried to equate the BDS movement to the “loathing of Jews”, a charge activists reject.

Attempts at censoring BDS activism have not been successful, however.

A French court in Tolouse overturned a ban on a BDS event in May, describing attempts by the town’s mayor to stop the gathering as illegal.

In England, a court struck down a legal challenge attempting to force councillors in the city of Leicester to reverse a motion to boycott Israeli goods.

Student activism

Supporters of the BDS movement argue attempts to stifle it are proof that it is an effective means of protesting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

The movement is particularly visible among students and activists on campuses across the world who are attempting to pass motions backing Israel’s boycotts despite strong opposition from pro-Israel groups.

On Thursday, students at the University of Manchester in northwest UK passed a motion forcing their union to support the BDS movement.

Etisha Choudhury president of the pro-Palestinian student group Action Palestine said attempts to stop BDS were part of broader efforts to prevent criticism of Israeli policies.

“BDS is a call from 171 Palestinian civil authorities from within the occupation so essentially they [opponents] are just trying to block the Palestinians,” Choudhury told Al Jazeera.

Huda Ammori, who put forward the motion, said BDS was one of the few remaining ways Palestinians could effectively challenge Israeli occupation.

“I think BDS is the last hope for Palestinians,” said Ammori, describing efforts by the international community to help Palestinians to date as lacking. “The movement is a call to wake up and bring attention to the cause.”

The BDS movement is particularly visible among students and activists on campuses across the world [Getty Images]

letter to Governor to protect freedom of speech


My name is (insert full name) and I am an Ohio resident.

I am writing to ask you to veto H.B. 476: the bill to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that disinvests from or boycotts Israel.

The bill also violates the US Foreign Policy over the past 50 years by both Republican and Democratic administrations by supporting illegal Israeli settlement expansion, the end of which is the objective of the international non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.

Furthermore, an amendment was introduced at the last minute by surprise in the House by Rep Sprague to double the 1% of Ohio assets to 2% (amounting to about $130 million) for investment in a foreign country, specifically Israel. Please don’t risk our money in an unstable country in an unstable region.

Please support the right of Ohioans to boycott Israel and I think you should too. Did you know that Palestinians in the occupied territories are subjected to forcible relocation, demolition of their homes, theft of land, systematic infringement against civil, social, economic, and cultural rights, segregation, institutional discrimination, and other abuses documented by the United Nations? The situation is no better inside Israel, where Palestinian citizens are prohibited from living in more than 400 Jewish communities in Israel.

Please protect my constitutional right to free speech. Please stand up for human rights against oppression and discrimination, by stopping this unconstitutional Bill.

Attached you will find a legal memo explaining why H.B. 476 is unlawful. Also, here is a link to the legal memo explaining why it violates state and federal laws. http://uscpr.org/…/u…/2016/11/whyHB476isunconstitutional.pdf


Ask Governor Kasich to veto the anti-BDS bill HB 476


Last week over 20 Ohioans, including members of Project Peace and Northwest Ohio Free Speech Alliance, traveled to the Ohio Statehouse to give testimony opposing House Bill 476, the bill to prohibit a state agency from contracting with for-profit entities that divest from or boycott Israel.   In spite of our best efforts, the bill was rushed through the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly and is now sitting on Governor Kasich’s desk.  Will you call him this week to ask him to veto the bill?

House Bill 476 is a response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It runs counter to the core values of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. The bill punishes economic boycotts, which are entirely lawful acts of free speech. It interferes with US foreign policy and rampantly violates Ohioans’ free speech rights.

If passed, any company, including all for-profit sole proprietorships and partnerships as well as corporations, desirous of receiving payments or benefits from the state of Ohio will be required to sign away its right to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Participation in much of Ohio’s economic activity will require a coerced foreign policy position.

The bipartisan co-sponsors of H.B. 476 aim to shut down supporters of the international BDS movement, which is based on the anti-apartheid campaign against South Africa of a quarter century ago. BDS is a nonviolent global grassroots effort to restore the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. The campaign is aimed at building pressure on the state of Israel to end its illegal occupation and to follow international humanitarian law in its policies toward, and treatment of, Palestinians.

Will you please call Governor Kasich’s office to ask him to veto the bill?  Ask him to protect Ohioans’ free speech rights.  Let him know that economic  boycott is a right protected by the  Constitution and is a time-honored method to protest oppression and human rights violations.  The Governor’s office phone is:   (614) 466-3555.  You will probably reach his voice mail and will be asked to leave a brief message. You may also use the contact form at the Governor’s web page.

If you’d like to learn more about the bill, click here for the legal memo explaining how the bill violates state and federal laws.  Here is the legislative page for HB 476.

Many thanks for your advocacy!