Archive for May 2011

Original rapper Gil Scott-Heron dies at 62

May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron has left us at 62. The brother was a true prophet, an original rapper who spoke to issues of social justice and human rights . Who could forget the revolution Will not Be Televised,(below) a great cri de coeur to get off your ass , turn the tube off and actually get involved in history. He was also one of the first artists to raise his voice on issues of the environment, the nuclear power industry, and the apartheid regime of South Africa. Scott-Heron, who later fought drug demons, was very intelligent, absolutely relevant and to the point. He eschewed the bling of the many clowns who followed him in the African-American community.His message originally aimed at the black community had wide appeal to anybody who did not have tin ears.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Who do you believe -Christian leaders or Netanyahu?

May 26, 2011

Gideon Levy one of the few mainline writers you can trust in Israel has roundly panned Israeli PM Netanyahu’s stunningly ignorant speech to the US Congress where amazingly he received 29 standing ovations, 30 if you count Stephen Harper’s.Levy wrote It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions.” The brave columnist for Haaretz went on:

The fact that the only truth spoken in the Capitol was that of a former Israeli shouting “equal rights for Palestinians” is a badge of honor for us and a mark of shame for America. Netanyahu’s “speech of his life” was the speech of the death of peace.

How can an Israeli prime minister dare to say his country “fully supports the desire of Arab peoples in our region to live freely” without spitting out the entire bitter truth – as long as they aren’t Palestinian.

Contrast Netanyahu’s lies with the 2009 Kairos Document

The authors of the Kairos Palestine Document, among them Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib Younan, and Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, have raised the challenge of the urgency for peace with justice to religious and political leaders in Palestinian and the Israeli society, international community, and to “our Christian brothers and sisters in the churches” around the world. They believe that current efforts in the Middle East are confined to managing the crisis rather than finding pertinent and long term solutions to the crisis.

Decrying empty promises

Expressing their pain, the signatories of the call decry the emptiness of the promises and pronouncements about peace in the region. They remind the world about the separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, the blockade of Gaza, how Israeli settlements ravage their land, the humiliation at military checkpoints, the restrictions of religious liberty and controlled access to holy places, the plight of refugees awaiting their right of return, prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons and Israel’s blatant disregard of international law, as well as the paralysis of the international community in the face of this tragedy.

Not a tough choice-except for the brain dead US Congress.

Hobo and the “living stones”

May 24, 2011

Fr. Bob Holmes, dubbed “Hobo” is a Basilian priest who has given the order extraordinary credibility. A Christian Peacemaker he has seen life lived under occupation and danger in Iraq, Palestine and Israel. This summer he is taking anybody on a tour who wants to see the real Israel as it gradually sinks into the morass of a pariah state, one on the wrong side of history.President Obama actually warned the powerful Israeli lobby group AIPAC as it is in denial. The world has caught up to the oppressive state.

Sunday, Hobo said mass for our small community and fortuitously the second reading was from Peter.
1.Pet 2:14
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus
Hobo made reference to the “living stones in Palestine.

I wrote of these on my return from Israel with him

Theologian Jaroslav Pelikan distinguishes tradition from traditionalism. Authentic tradition incarnates “the living spirit of the dead.” To become Isaiah for today one must enter the spirit and intent of the ancient prophet.His worldview has vanished and the context has radically changed.To simply repeat his words is to miss the meaning. As the wag said, any text without a context is a pretext.
Traditionalism on the other hand is “the dead spirit of the living.” This rancid nostalgia thinks that a return to the past in dress, language and worldview will place one in the heart of tradition. The 50s ( or the times of Isaiah or Jesus) can not be relived when the whole gestalt has changed. We live in a whole new cosmology.To simply repeat is to betray.
Fr. Holmes pilgrimage was in the spirit of tradition.Sadly we saw many sad nostalgia Christian tours on a trip to the past.They visited churches, grottoes, sea shores and lifeless antiquities in the hope of finding Jesus. One might call these ventures “the dead stones” tour.These are fairly typical of these uber pious ventures which clog the arteries of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the tourist season.
Indeed it was a thrill for us to walk the shores of the sea of Galilee, the provenance of the synoptic gospels; it was great to visit Caesarea and Capernaum and indeed Jerusalem.Their connection to Jesus is incontestable. However they are not “the true custody terra sancta” as Galilean Archbishop Elias Chacour reminded us. Those trips no matter how interesting in the end are dead ends to a moribund Jesus. We wanted the living Christ and it was Jesus himself who told us where to look.
It is Matthew’s famous last judgment scene where Jesus directs us to look for him today.” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'(Matt 25:35,6)

We discovered once again the true locus of divine revelation in the marginalized lives this time of the Palestinian people living under occcupation.This was the pearl of great price, the true holy land. It did not reside in lifeless antiquities or sacred places. It was in the “living stones” of those on the margins, the oppressed descendants of the apostles.

Obama flaunts international law: USA! USA!

May 14, 2011

Poor Obama justifying the targetted assassination of bin Laden.A former law professor who preached “international law” telling us we needed to have “our heads examined if we objected” to the extra judicial murder of the has been Osama.

The key to Obama’s press conference was his use of the words “American soil,”

Apparently the lessons of Nuremberg and the principles of the rule of law do not count in America.They can simply murder anybody without bringing him to trial. Very similar to the “only democracy in the Middle East, Israel” who regularly flaunts international law by murdering anybody they want.

I lost much respect for Bill Clinton when he proved how tough he was when he came home to Arkansas when he was running for president in 1992 and pulled the switch on a man named Ricky Ray Rector, a mental defective on death row, a guy who could not tell you what day it was —but hey, Bill was “tough on crime” and the death of another black man did not count.

And now Obama got Osama and tears fell from ther Statue of Liberty.

But what the hell, it means another term for Obama.

And the insult to First Nations, calling the operation Geronimo.Hard to be sensitive in the middle of an empire. USA! USA!

Poor Michael Ignatieff: Harper Lite descends in flames

May 6, 2011

After Iggy drove the Liberal Party to its worst defeat in history,he gave a magnificent concession speech, hitting all the right historical notes.It really was impressive and I almost felt sorry for him. But shed no tears for Ignatieff, his friend John Fraser assured him of a soft landing at Massey College at the U of T. What an embarrassing sortie into politics. Harper and his ads utterly defined him.

Thee comes a time in every person’s life and he generally is totally unaware of it, when a key decision defines him and for Ignatieff it was his stunning acceptance of the Iraq war illegally called by the worst president in US modern history, George W Bush.Had Iggy read American history with any intelligence, had he been able to see through the pathetic hubris of a man who wanted to be a war time president, he would have come to an utter rejection of this “immoral and unjust war” as the Vatican termed it.

Was it the ugly zeitgeist in America that prompted this ultimately fatal decision? Who was he trying to please? It was bad enough that Ignatieff had begun referring to himself as an American but to bless this savage war stamped him irrevocably as an opportunist, a panderer to power, a man in the academy utterly divorced from the horror and immorality of war.

Contrast Ignatieff with another “brilliant” journalist, Chris Hedges a Pulitzer Prize winne (with a theology degree from Harvard) who as a war corespondent in fierce battle zones had seen the terrible loss of life up close.His book, War the Force that Gives Us Meaning should have been required reading for Ignatieff.

His fatal defence of torture and war indicated to me that he was not to be trusted.It was typical of the bankrupt modern Liberal Party to crown him king as a kind of magic carpet ride back to power.

Sadly for them and for the country, his Harper Lite imitation, his embrace of the Alberta Tar Sands, his cowardice around Israel cost him dearly.

For the record, I never read another column by Richard Gwyn who while he was chancellor at a Catholic university (St Jerome’s) made the same fatal choice.