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In speaking of immigration to US Congress today, Pope Francis said:
Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those people, and the nations, from the heart of American democracy, we affirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but…” lifting his face from the script and looking out into the crowd he said, “ we know it’s very difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.” The, wait for it…yes, the congress applauds.
Honorable Pope Francis, may I express to you the age-old lesson that history repeats itself? People and governments repeat the “sins and the errors of the past” by not fully dealing with their responsibilities in the past. Your casual reference to the sins of America’s past, never even naming our peoples as First Nations, Native Americans or Indigenous peoples, only helps to justify and reinforce to the body to which you addressed, our continued mistreatment and our relegation to their intentions for us to fade into quiet oblivion. Your references to Jesus’ words to “do unto others as you would want them to do to you” is mere hypocrisy after such an affront to Indigenous peoples. Each congressional applause only added an exclamation point to your propaganda and props up their justification for not dealing with America’s genocide. Continue reading
Film review by Daniel Fan
“Aloha:” a traditional Hawaiian word which is used both as a greeting and a send off. And now, it’s a mid-sized romantic-comedy starring a pretty much all-white cast.
Aloha is the story of Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a washed-up, blown-up former US Air Force officer and private military contractor working a last-chance gig for billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray as an interesting amalgamation of Richard Branson and Dick Cheney, with a little Jim Carrey goofy-ness mixed in). Serving as romantic opposites for Gilcrest are Rachel McAdams portraying Tracy Woodside (honest, hardworking, but longsuffering former flame of Gilcrest) and Emma Stone as the straight-laced Air Force rising-star Captain Allison Ng.
[Spoilers ahead] Continue reading
Tis the season for turkey, and I just really want to talk about food! Mmmmmm, yummy food my favorite of which, like a teenager, is still the turkey leg! Speaking of turkeys, here’s a nice letter from your last local turkey farmer. Or how about pumpkin pie, I really don’t eat it any other time of the year, the same thing with cranberries and persimmons. Persimmons are such a strange fruit, much like the strange fruit the american empire continues to bear:
“Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.” – Jesus
As much as we may complain about having to put up with our racist right wing Fox watching uncle during thanksgiving everyone looks forward to the meal time at least. If you do want to learn to learn to engage constructively with the “Christian Right” you should check out Andrea Smith’s Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances. The table ethic is the liminal space that embodies the idea of shalom in one event. Food, shelter, and community and enough for everyone. Native Americans approach every meal with the sort of thankfulness we are often intentional about only one day a year. Of course, we have a tendency to commodify holy days and appropriate others’ spirituality, one could make a case that Thanksgiving is an appropriation of not even Indigenous spirituality but that actually embodiment of a people. You can get educated on Native appropriations at Dr. Keene’s blog if you’d like. Or you can read about the eurocentric mindset firsthand from different perspectives!
I recently saw Dinesh D’Souza’s America: Imagine A World Without Her with my 19 year old son. I won’t dignify the sorts of arguments he makes with a counter argument to any of the ridiculous historical inaccuracies given but simply make note of the many manipulative tools I observed that were used. I would rank the level of propaganda used in this film right up there with Joseph Goebbels Nazism and other effective propaganda movements.
Eric Hoffer, in his classic The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951) wrote, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” Who is D’Souza’s devil? The American “liberal” who is “re-writing history” and committing national “suicide.” Well, fear is a great motivator but after the truth eventually bears itself out, (and elections are over) people stop being afraid of the devil you made up. I mention elections because to my chagrin, the last 1/3 of the movie was an anti-Obama, and especially anti-Hillary Clinton campaign, which belied the real intention of the movie, namely, “STOP THE DEMOCRATS!”
All the typical propaganda tools were used; playing on people’s fears, inflating and deflating numbers and statistics, exaggerating claims, majoring on the minors, conflating non-related ideas, answering systemic concerns with individual examples, attacks without evidence, using non-experts and making them look like real experts, leading questions, false assumptions, creating only binary choices, etc. All of this in the end, makes D’Souza’s America both good and great, and it makes those who want to use their freedom of speech to represent the oppressed in order to build a better America, look like enemies of the state.
In D’Souza’s America there was no genocide on Native Americans, the land was never stolen, Black chattel slavery was unfortunate but after all, some Blacks held slaves too, Mexico was not stolen, there were no impure motives for Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan. This sort of telling is reminiscent of those who deny the Nazi holocaust against the Jews and theatres should be ashamed to advertise it as a documentary. It’s everything White ultra-conservatives want to hear-but no one in the film ever bothers to asks the truly oppressed person, “how has it been for you?” And no one in the film asked the rest of the world, in which America consumes most of the resources, “America, can you imagine a world without her?”
In the Unsettling of America Wendell Berry writes, “The first principle of the exploitive mind is to divide and conquer.” D’Souza is a divider and an exploiter. He is not trying to make a better America, he is simply an extreme conservative operative behind a thin veil of patriotism who is trying to make a more effective smear campaign in preparation for the 2016 elections. One of the many “best American values” missing from the film was honesty. This is not an attempt at dialogue or even an effective argument between conservatives and progressives; this film was a sham. My son and I agreed, it was a poor use of $23.50 and several hours time.
As I look at the world that my generation is handing down to you…you, the first of the next seven generations and at your future, I grieve. But, I also see with this great challenge, great hope. I want to give you some advice to consider as you choose your fields of expertise and lifestyle. Our Mother Earth is in trouble…my generation has made it this way. If you don’t do something differently, you will continue the systemic evils that haunt our planet. While I cannot imagine the earth ceasing, I can imagine an earth surviving without humans. This would be tragic since it is our responsibility to maintain life’s harmony, but we have not done a good job of it. (Note: This applies directly to the US but Canada is not far behind).
In my book, Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision, I set out a simple thesis concerning how the earth is responding to our abuse and neglect. (This is a long quote but please read it):
Americans tend to be pragmatic people except when they are held captive to a false ideology. I wonder what it will take for us to hear the sound of the alarm going off in our world right now. I will leave it to the dozens of other books out there to explain the specifics of our impending disaster and only note that topsoil is disappearing…forest are shrinking…desertification is advancing…coral reefs are dying…plants, fish, insects, birds and animal species are all going extinct… and our fresh water sources are being depleted! Serious concerns exist at every level from local to global. Continue reading
In the summer of 2004, LifeWay Publishing released “Rickshaw Rally: Racing to the Son,” a vacation bible school curriculum that was saturated with stereotypical images of Asians, mixing of different cultural heritages, and in general, a heaping pile of racism with a little “Jesus” sprinkled on top. When Asian American community members complained they were told that the offense was not intentional and furthermore: “this curriculum is really about preaching Jesus, and I wouldn’t want you to do anything that would stop Jesus from bring preached.” Non-Asians Americans also voiced their frustration with Rickshaw Rally, but LifeWay brushed these objections aside. Nearly ten years later, at the 2013 Mosaix Multi-Ethnic Church Conference LifeWay released this 1-1/2 minute apology for Rickshaw Rally: http://vimeo.com/78735039.
But this apology is not as simple as it sounds, nor is it necessarily a viable entrée into further dialog as some may have hoped…
“You’re here because you know something…that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” –Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, “The Matrix” (1999)
Life is a story. And how we tell that story says as much about us as it does about the world we are trying to describe. Continue reading