Archive for December 2011

Christmas Wise Men in Bethlehem

December 26, 2011

No, Jesus is not coming back.We are not waiting for him to be born again this Christmas. Advent is not preparing for his return but it is God waiting for us to live the Beatitudes of mercy, compassion, solidarity, peace making.In a way we prepare for a “fresh birth” in our own lives. As the great Dominican mystic Eckhart (d.1328) said, “What good is it that Christ was born 2,000 years ago if he is not born now in your heart?’ The Jesus story still inspires, prepares the ground for this new birth. The Spirit is alive whenever people live like this.

In the time of King Herod after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.

Matthew 2: 1

O Little Town of Bethlehem how still we see thee rise-
still under occupation 2000 years later,
Caesar’s boot still on your neck;
Your green hills replaced by Israeli settlements
Illegal to be sure, no matter.
Military check points now control entering and leaving
No freedom then, none now-
A wall which even the Magi could not breach
cuts you off from Arab Jerusalem.
Christian Zionists pour into the Holy Land
weeping at the sight of Gethsemane, searching for Calvary
while ignoring the ongoing crucifixion of Palestinians.
In this place since the days of Pentecost, you are now invisible
still on the margins of empire.
Liberation was born here, still barely out of its crib
God’s reign, coming but ever so slowly
“Good news of great joy for all the people” (Lk.2:10)
Not if you are Palestinian in the holy city of David.

Canada and Palestine

December 22, 2011

On Tuesday December 20 the United Nations almost unanimously voted for the Palestinian people’s right to self determination. Imagine 182 countries voting in favour of what to most of the world is just and long overdue. Longtime Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi thanked the assembly.

 “This overwhelming support reaffirms the international community’s commitment to the achievement of the universal principles of justice and humanity and the rights guaranteed to all peoples of the world,” she said.

And look who’s on the wrong side of history the USA, Israel, Great Britain and Canada.

 Ashrawi spoke for most of the world when she stated:

 “It is reprehensible that countries such as the United States and Canada continue to defy worldwide consensus and intensely lobby to thwart the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” she said.“the longest occupation in modern history must end and it is time for the international community to hold Israel accountable, demand that it desist all settlement activities and actions that violate international law and support our peaceful diplomatic efforts to achieve an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

How embarrassing as a Canadian to have this Harper government speaking on our behalf.

At least the British government condemned the recent Israeli announcement that their government had approved the construction of 1,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Maybe before Christmas, it can score a trifecta—first Kyoto, now Palestine and what’s next?


Remembering the Owl

December 21, 2011

Colder than a witch’s tit, it’s the winter of 1956 and with head down with the little PHILCO radio under my arm I make my way up to the Sunday dance at my local parish. I will make about $15.00 checking coats with my friend Barry Diemert.The money will go to buy some vinyl. We will listen to the Leaf game and yak as the hours fly by. Our work is generally done quickly as the dancers file in to the Young People’s Club in St.Peter’s basement.Barry and I head down to the hall to dig the music.

And the star attraction? For me it was Eugene Amaro (”the Owl”)“ who was the mainstay of drummer Ron Rully’s quartet. Eugene just lived down the street across from St.Pete’s school and was already on his way to becoming a fixture in the Toronto jazz scene. His big tenor always carried the melody and the songs they always played are still with me…Duke’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,Strayhorn’s Satin Doll and Sam “The Man” Taylor’s Harlem Nocturne.At that time for some strange reason, Rodgers and Hart’s 1934 tune Blue Moon was also making a comeback.

It’s all about us!

December 19, 2011

Poor Obama.”US Forces finally leaving Iraq.” The only thing missing was Bush’s Infamous “Mission accomplished.” Of course the US will never leave Oil Central. They leave behind the biggest embassy in the world and a broken Iraq.You won’t read this in many American papers.
That’s why it’s always safe to go to Britain’s uardian for a more sanguine view.

Foreign correspondent Gary Younge gets it right:

According to Christopher Gelpi, a political science professor at Duke University who specializes in public attitudes to foreign policy, the most important single factor shaping Americans’ opinions about any war is whether they think America will win. This solipsistic worldview is hardly conducive to the kind of introspection that might translate remorse into redemption.

It’s a mindset that understands the war in Vietnam as being wrong not because an independent country was invaded, flattened, millions murdered and thousands tortured. It was wrong because the US lost.

Such is the mindset wrapped tight under a seemingly impermeable condom.

Christopher Hitchens, a wasted talent

December 17, 2011

It was a amazing to read the ubiquitous eulogies in print re the journalist Christopher Hitchens.

To me Hitchens was a brilliant bore who trimmed his sails to the official orthodoxy. His support for the calamitous Iraq War finished him in my eyes as a serious commentator.Like the failed comedian Dennis Miller who pulled the same stunt he lost all credibility.
Despite the fawning obits—and there was no getting around it—the man was a good wordsmith—a few major publications did nail him on his spectacular option for such an immoral war.

ALEX PAREENE in humorously wrote

And so we had the world’s self-appointed supreme defender of Orwell’s legacy happily joining an extended misinformation campaign designed to sell an incompetent right-wing government’s war of choice. The man who carefully laid out the case for arresting Henry Kissinger for war crimes was now palling around with Paul fucking Wolfowitz.

Dead on.

His cheap shot at Mother Theresa who indeed was a political naif and who allowed herself to be used by neocomn Catholics was also beyond the pale…not to mention Hitchens;s pathetic flailing at cartoonish straw men of religion in his anti-God polemics.

All in all a wasted talent.

Billy Stock,Vatican ll priest

December 15, 2011

Billy Stock is being buried today. One of the great Vatican ll priests of those halcyon days Bill never stopped going, carried by a vision he saw betrayed. Like many priests of those years, Bill is being buried outside the walls of the Roman church. And irony of ironies, it is his friend Joanna Manning, now an Anglican priest who who will preside at his funeral.Bill was one of those great priests I worked with in the years of the Council.In his memory I include this passage from my upcoming book Never Neutral

In an interview I did with Bill last year he talkked about his leave taking (1970) from the Church:

When I went in to see Bishop Pocock to tell him I was leaving he assured me that he understood, that many of the changes were hard on priests etc. He had missed the point. I had to set him straight. I told him the changes were not being implemented, and were being stalled by an aging institution and were much too slow for many of us. I saw the Church even then beginning to freeze up.”

Joanna Manning ordained priest

December 7, 2011

It was a day when I am sure God smiled and the angels danced.

Joanna Manning was ordained priest in the Anglican Church on November 27.

This wonderful learned and compassionate woman could find no room to share her abundant gifts in the Church of Rome, a Christian communion which in the words of theologian John Courtney Murray is “stuck.” simply unable to move. Ignoring the prompts of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Disturber, she sits atop a moribund traditionalism.People are deserting her in droves.

The Catholic Tradition is an extraordinary one.It potentially has everything any Church would need to succeed in furthering God’s reign—it has the Word, the Bible, the liberating praxis of Vatican ll; it has a sacramental system which should be so healing but presently it is missing the fundamental sacrament today THE EARTH and the COSMOS.Officially it pays little attention to the holy earth as we burn it down. It’s like torching the Bible.We would not stand for that but we as an institution are a non-player in the climate change stakes. We are stuck,doing everything to ignore the abundant signs of the times—the cry of the poor, the cry of women and the cry of the Earth.And what do we do? We retreat into a deadly past, focusing on externals instead of moving were the Spirit is taking us.

And surely one of those places is the total equality of all of the baptized, the right of every person to all seven sacraments.

And now Joanna Manning has gone. But not far!

Attending her ordination was such a delight.Watchbg her beamning, doing a liturgical dance to the Negro hymn Wade in the Water and inviting the Bishop to dance with her.

It’s called Incarnation! God comes through our flesh!

Stephen Harper nixes the Tobin Tax

December 6, 2011

The Tobin Tax, the infinitely realizable miniscule tax first put forward by Nobel Laureate James Tobin in 1972 has been stalemated by the ugly economic triad—Canada, USA and Britain.

The idea was simple. Each finacial transaction,easily monotored, would be taxed at a miniscule rate…maybe .5% .This would create billions of revenue to aid infrastructure, poverty programs around the world.It also would act as a brake, albeit a small one, on speculators who hive off small yet manifold amounts in short term foreign exchange actions.

As Thomas Friedman has written, the “electronic herd” of computer financial transactions often plays havoc with national economies. In and out with the flick of a mouse yet this has drastic consequences in smaller economies.

These banksters woud never miss the picayune amounts of these exchanges but given the millions of daily transactions , this sure would add up.We are talking billions.

Good old Stephen Harper. Forget the sycophant Cameron in England, the one who famously sucked up on ar egular basis to Rupert Murdoch.

Well,the USA…no big surprise

Defend the oil sands! Screw the environment!

December 2, 2011

That’s right, what did the environment ever do for me?

And there’s poor Peter Kent, the Tory MP in Durban, South Africa emabarrassing all Canadians. But he, loyal tooper that he is, is simply taking his orders from PM Harper:

Defend the oil sands at all costs!

David Suzuki, the Canadian conscience on climate change advises us:

If Canadian representatives at the UN climate change summit in Durban, South Africa won’t commit to the Kyoto Protocol and contribute to global efforts to stop climate change, they should go home and stop impeding progress.

Since the summit began on November 28, Canadian officials, led by Environment Minister Peter Kent, have been acting shamefully. Not only are they planning to abandon Kyoto — the only legally binding international agreement with firm targets to reduce global warming pollution — they have been secretly urging other countries to pull out of the agreement as well

This is a national embarrassment. If Canada, one of the world’s top 10 global warming polluters, refuses to honour its commitments, we cannot expect developing countries to reduce their emissions.

Join us this week in telling Peter Kent and your M.P. that you want Canada to commit to Kyoto and contribute to climate change solutions or go home and let the progressive leaders of the world find solutions to climate change.

Thanks to you we’ve met our goal of 10,000 letters sent! We’re at 10,171 letters sent… can you help us get to our new goal of 15,000?