Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Remembering James Cone: Embracing the Cross

May 7, 2018



A Personal reflection in memory of the Rev James H. Cone

(Rev,) Brian Hart

We cannot truly fathom the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ without recognizing both, that he was an oppressed Palestinian Jew living in a land occupied by Roman oppressors, and that the cross was used as an instrument of oppression of his people. The crucifixion of rebels and other law-breakers, by Romans, in a very public execution was a way to terrorize people so that they would never consider challenging their oppressors. Therefore the cross, used to exact a prolonged and torturous public execution, became a visceral reminder of Rome’s dominion over the Jewish people.




Furthermore, we cannot fathom the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ unless we come to understand that he, a messianic proclaimer of God’s Liberation, also was oppressed by the religious institution to which he belonged; an institution that could not countenance any perspective of the Jewish faith that would challenge the status quo of its religious power structure.



Jesus’ challenge was to give witness to God’s love that was inclusive of those who were made outcasts by reason of a religious prejudice and practice that then became societal norms. Jesus went out of his way to associate himself with idolaters such as tax collectors who collected tribute to the Roman god-emperor; with women who were left with no other opportunities to support their families and so turned to prostitution; with lepers who were reviled as their affliction was declared a “curse” from God; with gentiles – such as the centurion in the Roman army – who were not of the Chosen People. Jesus declared by his actions that the criminal, the sick and the possessed – those reviled by religious authorities – were all embraced by God’s love.




This radical, loving witness of Jesus was turning the pyramid power structure upside down and was creating an enormous scandal for the the leaders of his faith. Jesus, a rabbi, was seen frequently in the company of these undesirables, and people were talking. And to add insult to injury, Jesus went further to declare that those men in prestigious positions of religious authority and wealth would not enter into paradise whereas those people who received Jesus, heart and soul, both in word and deed, would. It’s no small wonder then that these same religious leaders saw Roman crucifixion as a sure way to relieve them of this Nazarene annoyance.



My awareness of these two aspects of the oppression of the powerless – both by Rome and the religious establishment of Jesus Christ and his contemporaries – opens up for me the deeper meaning of the crucifixion, and so too, the meaning of the Resurrection.



I have lived within the insulated walls of the Christian Church. Insulated from any true awareness of how we, both lay people and clergy, continue to participate in oppression of the powerless among us. And by awareness I mean not of the head but of the heart. We, clergy and lay people alike, deny our complicity in abuse of those who are vulnerable; we deny our complicity in mysogeny, in homophobia, in racism, in the economic domination of impoverished people near and far; and we deny our complicity in ecocide. Our chosen naiveté, our willing blindness to our daily participation in these forms of oppression sadly prevents us from joining Jesus on the cross.


“Too much risk” we are told by religious authorities and so we too quickly acquiesce to the “wisdom” of inaction. We can offer a prayer, we might even take up a collection, but we must never, ever, enter into the experience of the oppressed. The true “risk” we fear is not vicarious liability. We fear the risk of loosing our willing blindness; of waking to the truth of how we are the oppressors. And so under the guise of prudence we listen to our lawyers, to our insurers, to our religious leaders. “Too much risk. Best to stay away from what will awaken us to the crucifixions going on all around us. Don’t get on that cross!”




I would rather live in community with those who have been oppressed by an economy that has chosen profit margins over the human need to have meaningful work. I’d rather live in community with people that society has thrown out onto the streets, park benches, vans, shelters. I’d rather live in community with people who, because of their personal histories of being abused as children are now adults struggling with addictions and other mental health issues. I’d rather live with others who have been oppressed, than live within the “risk free” walls of chosen blindness that was my path for too long in the past.


Perhaps that is the love that I hope to express by remaining a priest, instead of accepting the bishop’s need to see me laicized. I want to remain a challenge to the naiveté, the willing blindness, of my fellow Christ followers. I want to love those who participate in these forms of oppressions, of crucifixions, by being the “pain in the ass” that just won’t go away. I want to be the person to whom people say “I could never do what you are doing”, and to reply to them, “well you can, and you can do even greater things!” If we are to truly proclaim Christ crucified, what’s needed first is to wake up to how we, the church, participate in the oppression of our sisters and brothers by our personal choices of “prudent” inaction, and by our fear of risking to love the oppressed, even to the point of joining them on the cross. For it is only from the cross that we are able to see beyond the horizon of our doubt and impotence to glimpse the dawn of the Resurrection.




Brian Hart is a priest in the Kingston diocese

Why Young Jews Are Leaving Judaism

April 19, 2018

Because Their Rabbis Will Not Criticize Israel


In a letter to The Forward (Feb. 14, 2018), Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder and director of the Shalom Center and a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, assesses the reason for thealienation from Judaism of increasing numbers of young people.


He writes that, “The point about the decline of religious spiritual connection between many younger Jews and the Jewish community is that almost all the ‘religious’ institutions refuse to apply the prophetic vision to the government of Israel even whenthey apply it to the U.S. Government (and even that is weak).”




Rabbi Waskow, who has taught at the Reconstructionist RabbinicalSeminary and at Swarthmore College, Temple University,and Vassar College, points out that, “Many younger Jews — J Street, Open Hillel, especially IfNotNow — are affirming and strengthening their Jewish identity, even drawing strongly on religious symbols and festivals, when they criticize Israel and its lackeys and toadies in the U.S. Their distancing from ‘official’religion in the synagogues is connected with those synagogues’
kow-towing to the Israeli government.”


He asks: “Where are the rabbis who urge their congregants NOT to give to the federations that funnel money to support ofthe Netanyahu government and its Occupation, but to give it instead to the New Israel Fund and its support of gutsy critical Israelis — or to put their would-be gifts to Israel in an escrow fund to be released only with the end of the Occupation and the emergence of a viable independent Palestine alongside Israel?”


Rabbi Waskow concludes: “Where are the rabbis who say aloud that obeisance to the Israeli government is idolatry — a religious category — and denounce it as such? The failure of religion as a Jewish focus for many young Jews is precisely becausemost of the official religious institutions will not denounce the Occupation as a violation of Torah the way they denounce Trumpery in the U.S.”


This is the price we pay for having made of  Israel an icon — a surrogate faith, surrogate synagogue, surrogate God.  
Albert Vorspan 


Naomi Wolf, a leading feminist writer (The Beauty Myth) and former advisor to President Bill Clinton, illustrated Waskow’s important point after the most egregious slaughter of Gaza Palestinians in 2014 (Operation Protective Edge 2,131 killed, 1,473 of which were civilians, 501 children and 299 women).




Here was a a woman with impeccable pro-Israel credentials, an American educated in Jerusalem schools and who spoke fluent Hebrew and who had actually hid in bomb shelters but she “stood with the people of Gaza.”


PI=gaza copy

“I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust, and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side.’ There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us.”


Wolf’s experience with institutional Judaism during this period brought her to a breaking point as it has so many American Jews who can no longer stomach the silence of the rabbinate:


“I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre in Gaza to be addressed..… Nothing. Where is God? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews..…I want no other religion than this, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.”


Naomi Wolf is a Jew with eyes wide open.

Good Friday 2018

March 30, 2018

The  Message:

No cross, no crown; no Easter without Good Friday

Here we were in 1979, I still see us, a small group of Catholic  teachers insisting that  the  execution of Jesus by the imperial power, Rome  was a public event so let’s take it to the streets where the wounds of Jesus are still manifest. There he is with the bull horn the mighty gentle Christian Fintan Kilbride. The sweet memories abide.


Our lttle mustard seed still grows in the heart of our city.


What Am I here For?

March 17, 2018

In 1942 Duke Ellington penned a great number called What Am I Here For, the great existential question asked by billions over the years.
600 years before Jesus, Isaiah felt the call:


Then I said, “Here I am )! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people : Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”6:9




Religion, rabbi Heschel reminds us “begins with the certainty that something is asked of us, that there are ends which are in need of us.”

This came to mind when i heard one of those great kids radically impacted by the mass shooting recently in Florida muse about this horrific event. He always wondered why he was on earth. Now he knew. He had a cause. He felt summoned. Heschel writes: I am commanded-therefore I am.”

This young person is like many awash in a sea of confusion. What indeed is he here for?


Often as in Isaiah’s time the culture is of little help–”the heart of the people is fat and their ears heavy” much like today, If we don’t have a dream (which faith should provide) the culture will give us one–status, material goods, power.Orwell’s prediction will define them—they will be programmed to love their slavery.

Many years ago I was invited by a great teacher in south-western Ontario to take her class as she journeyed overseas to adopt a baby. These beautiful teenagers in her class told me that few in their Catholic education ever told them that they were summoned—to what? A deeper humanity, a solidarity with the human,an alleviator of suffering. I had them read Jeremiah’s conversion story when as a teenager he experienced the divine call:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew] you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.1:5


When the Jesuit prophet Dan Berrgan as a young priest teaching in a high school in Brooklyn said that his wish for his young charges was “to catch fire and burn, to get more out of life than than an upward ride on the golden escalator to nowhere.”


That “golden parachute” is always with the young, a siren call to meaninglessness, to radical immaturity. When will they hear the divine summons, who or what will intervene in their lives.

This young Florida quester got his answer

Jeremiah in Washington pt.1

March 11, 2018




What an extraordinary reprise of the bible took place in Washington, the week of March 2. American Israel firsters gathered at the annual convention of AIPAC, the once powerful Israel lobby. Fear was in the air as many realized that AIPAC was losing the battle particularly among young Jews but there they were— truly awful Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer swearing eternal fealty to the apartheid state.




This could have been a scene right out of Jeremiah’s time with the horde braying shalom, shalom vein shalom(peace peace but there is no peace 8:11) Court prophets like Schumer, Pelosi and Netanyahu say everything is fine in the only democracy in the Middle East.


Jeremiah almost alone said everything was not right in Israel:
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his upper rooms by injustice” 22:13.)
He confronted king Jehoiakim with the harsh judgment that he (like Netanyahu and AIPAC) was leading the nation to destruction.
Down the street from AIPAC the real Jewish prophet, Haaretz columnist and former aide to Shimon Peres, Gideon Levy like Jeremiah of old raised his fiery voice about the parlous state of contemporary Israel whose ‘course has been evil and whose might is not right.”(23:10).




Levy of course, a secularist would never claim prophetic status.Judge for yourself:
Here are some of Levy’s remarks part 1


Outside pressure is all that will change Israel. BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is the only game in town. The Jewish lobby in the U.S. is the most important force in supporting Israel. The shameful Israeli propaganda over the attacks on the Tamimi family, the protesters in Nabi Saleh, shows how desperate Israel is, and maybe that offers hope.


Zionism is a totalitarian ideology that brooks no dissent. Everyone kept saying, Israeli soldiers could change things by talking about the occupation, but when Breaking the Silence came forward it was crushed. “Anyone who raises a question is immediately erased, demolished.” And the media play right along with the propagandists.
The two-state solution is over, the embassy decision proves it, and international friends should be pushing for equal rights for the two peoples between the river and the sea.


Maybe you are holding the key for any kind of change, any kind of hope. Because the hope for change within Israeli society is so limited, it’s non-existent. People like you can really be a game-changer. Some of my ex-best friends are on their way now to the real thing, to the AIPAC conference, which will start on this weekend, politicians, journalists, to what I call as the annual drug dealers conference. They will discuss how many more drugs will they send to the Israel occupation-addicted state. How much more friendship will they express, and how much more money and weapons will they supply.



And I can tell you in the United States, as an Israeli, we don’t have a bigger enemy than the Jewish lobby, we don’t have a bigger enemy for justice, for peace, for equality than those who think that if you supply the drug addict with more drugs, you are his friend. That if you support him blindly and automatically whatever he does, you are a friend.

Blind guides of Israel

February 8, 2018

The irony could not be more acidic in this Feb. 6 column by Amira Hass. This brave Israeli columnist excoriates the “bad religion” of too many ultra orthodox religious leaders in Israel. In the words of another Palestinian Jewish rabbi who ripped into the “blind guides” of his time and said,” “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”(Matt.23:24) hass points out the stunning hypocrisy and blindness of these putative “leaders.”


She is particularly cutting about their obvious avoidance of the Decalogue, several of whose commandments (those “shall nots” of robbery, murder, covet, false witness ) are breached on a daily basis in Israel today.


The terrible sadness, of course, is the almost total amnesia of one Judaism’s great gifts to the world, prophetic utterance.



However as Jewish American theologian Marc Ellis has often commented, the prophetic never dies, it simply bypasses official religious establishment. It then reappears in the secular garb of scribes like Hass and Levy.


The avoidance of the universal values of Judaism such as social justice (present in the Abrahamic religions) is a persistent phenomenon in these religions. Blind guides are omnipresent. within Christianity simply look at the bizarre theology of Christian Zionists and american Christians where flag often submerges prophetic faith



Here Is Amira Hass


Secular Israelis Are Wasting Time Squabbling Over Shabbat
Instead of thanking the heads of the faith-based parties for exempting us from religious laws and commandments, you secular people squabble over petty matters and risk passing the divine promise’s expiration date


Secular Jews are petty and ungrateful in opposing the modest demand of Haredim not to open groceries on Shabbat.


Why petty? Because never before have so many secular pleasures been available on Shabbat, restaurants and movie theaters and the like, and the “supermarket law” doesn’t seal these loopholes. Why ingrates? Because ultra-Orthodox Jews, Zionist and non-, are the earthly intermediaries between us and our God. Their lifestyle and their faith, their devotion and daily prayers are the silver platter holding God’s promise that the land will belong to us, the seed of Abraham. In the absence of DNA, how can we prove we are his seed if we don’t observe Shabbat and kashrut, which always set us apart from the nations of the world?


The Haredim and their party leaders bent the rules for us, and not only on the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” There are other commandments whose observance they did not make a condition for remaining in the governing coalition or being recognized as the seed of Abraham. “Honor thy father and mother”: In our society old age, especially for women, is cause for shame and for abuse from National Insurance Institute. “Thou shalt not steal”: We haven’t heard our rabbis protesting the theft of private and public land by declaring it state land.


They also generously skipped “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.” This commandment is openly violated in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Baka and Talbieh, Ein Kerem, Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, and in Tel Aviv’s Givat Amal. The holy commandment prohibiting murder is regularly violated here, aided by breaking the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” We take human life and falsely claim that our lives were in danger. We swear the target was military, and conceal the fact that the victims were civilians.

Have you ever heard of the leading rabbis and the heads of the faith-based parties being shocked at this wholesale violation? Have you heard them agonizing over the failure to observe the commandment to love the stranger, the African asylum seeker, because we were strangers in Egypt?



Instead of thanking the heads of the faith-based parties for exempting us from religious laws and commandments, you secular people squabble over petty matters and risk passing the divine promise’s expiration date. What would be left to justify and reinforce our being here?


You may say, the fact that we were born here and live here, speaking Hebrew and creating culture. To that we will reply: That’s not enough. After all, the Palestinians were born here, and live here, and are creating culture and speaking Palestinian Arabic. All that didn’t help them, and they were expelled and are being expelled from their country and their homeland.


You may say: The United Nations resolution. And we will reply, “Oom Schmoom, a bunch of anti-Semites from backward countries.


You will insist and say: Anti-Semitism. So what have you done? You’ve only confirmed old arguments about the Gordian knot tying Jew-haters, may their name be erased, to the founders of Zionism, of blessed memory. It’s as though you had pointed to the similarity between the disgust felt by the new Jew, Zionist and blond, for the Jews of the shtetl and the mellah (Moroccan ghetto), and the hatred of non-Jews for wearers of shtreimels (traditional Hasidic fur hats), carriers of the virus of communism and owners of banks and media outlets.


You may say: What justifies our existence is the fact that we are a place of refuge for Jews, when hostile regimes in Arab countries and Iran rose up against them to expel them. And we will reply: That’s like saying that Zionism and the settlement of the land depend only on disasters, like the waves of immigration from Argentina and Russia in the wake of economic crises.


The Holocaust, you may say. And to that we will reply: God forbid. Saying that the Holocaust brought us to the land of hamsins and housing projects is like saying that Zionism would not have succeeded without Hitler, and that Jews wouldn’t have been crazy enough to come here in order to expel another nation from its homeland.


The divine promise is the only justification for our existence here, and you’re quarreling over a shopping mall in Ashdod?


The kingdom gospel

January 22, 2018

Christ first proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God and this is so important, by comparison everything else becomes ‘the rest’, which is ‘given in addition’. Only the kingdom is absolute.,and it makes everything else relative…


Evangelium Nuntiandi ( On Proclaiming the Good News, Dec.8,1975, Pope Paul Vl)


I might add to this important statement, this includes the Pope, sacraments, the Bible, priesthood and even the Church. Only God’s reign of peace and justice is ultimate.


All New Testament scholars tell us that the kingdom (“malkuth Yahweh”) is the central proclamation of Jesus.
So Sunday’s gospel: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15


Jesus is murdered for the reign of God, the transformation of empires into realms of peace and justice. Nobody gets crucified for “internal changes.”
Palestine was a backward province of Rome ruled over by henchmen like Pilate and Herod. He is a threat to Roman imperial theology which claims the Augustan emperors were divine sons of God, “divus”, liberators and redeemers of the world. The Pax Romana was a lie built on slavery, theft and oppression

This Jewish peasant Yeshua ben Miriam (Jesus) must be stopped. His vision is radically countercultural. His fate, crucifixion, is that of political prisoners who reject the Pax.
Jesus proclaims a holy way, the malkuth yahweh, the way of nonviolence, peace and justice.
Reza Aslan in his readable book Zealot describes Jesus the Palestinian Jew living under occupation


“There are only two hard historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth upon which we can confidently rely: the first is that Jesus was a Jew who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine at the beginning of the first century CE; the second is that Rome crucified him for doing so…The Jesus that emerges from this historical exercise—a zealous revolutionary swept up, as all Jews of the era were, in the religious and political turmoil of first-century Palestine—bears little resemblance to the image of the gentle shepherd cultivated by the early Christian community. Consider this: Crucifixion was a punishment that Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition…Jesus’ crime, in the eyes of Rome, was striving for kingly rule (treason), the same crime for which nearly every other messianic aspirant of the time was killed.”


Mark Lilla in his brilliant attack on identity politics (The Once and Future Liberal) writes that prophetic religion, the kind that would get you crucified, criticized, marginalized basically died under “the Reagan Dispensation” which a majority of Catholics bought into.


As the post WWll economy exploded, the Roosevelt Dispensation faded with its two grand themes of American liberalism, justice and solidarity. Both are gospel imperatives. Moving out of the city to suburbia, people drifted away from face to face urban communities and joined evangelical communities long on individualism but short on solidarity and social commitment. As Lilla says more “got saved but alone.”


For Vatican ll Catholics there was a similar migration away from peace and justice. In tis culture we breathe the same hypercapitalist air as all others. Parishes became at best comfy zones, long on charity but very short on justice—that might get you crucified. So in Bonhoeffer’s prophetic words:


The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation unasked and without  condition…we poured forth unending streams of grace but the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard.




The Vatican ll priests left only to be replaced by “the young fogeys”, the JP ll brigade of ultraconservative prelates who Karl Rahner brilliantly dissected in 1971:




“If we talk of the ‘little flock’ in order to defend our cosy traditionalism and stale pseudo-orthodoxy, in fear of the mentality of modern society; if we tacitly consent to the departure of restless, questioning people from the church so that we can return to our repose and orderly life, and everything becomes as it was before, we are propagating, not the attitude proper to Christ’s little flock, but a petty sectarian mentality. This is dangerous because it shows up, not under its true name but in an appeal to orthodoxy, church-loyalty and strict, Rome-dictated morality.”


Today a new pope has arrived offering the same prescription of the great John XXll, “the medicine of mercy” and the liberating and challenge of the great Council—the kingdom summons or as Gaudium et Spes 1965 reminded us “He taught us that we too much shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict on those who who search after peace and justice.”



Peace with Christ means conflict with the world…The kingdom costs. No cross, no crown. No Good Friday, no Easter.


Advent/Christmas 2017

December 25, 2017


Jesus the Palestinian Jew living under occupation said to his disciples: “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
Mark 13:33       First Week in  Advent  2017


So said  the wandering Galilean rabbi on the  desert edge of the
Roman empire,
And today you never know when graced lightning strikes
to turn your world upside down.
It  can be anywhere for every place can be holy.
A church can be in a gym when your eyes meet
after a perfect backdoor pass;
It can be riding over a hill or on a highway heading north
in autumn and  green has turned to crimson.
Only then use the word “awesome.”
You  turn a corner on any urban street and two three  year
olds are holding hands.
Any act of solidarity with broken humanity and damaged
creation places you already in eternity.
Heaven comes to earth daily
The extraordinary resides in the ordinary
The transcendent in the  passing
The holy in the mundane
The  cosmic dance begins where you are;
All real living is meeting
Seymour Glass was right: we move from one piece of holy ground to
the next.


Merry Christmas all you ikons of the Divine


Shame on USA Republicans

December 2, 2017

We know that budgets are immoral documents and this is one of the worst.It is gratifying to see some church resistance


The Republican tax bill is not just immoral. It is an act of violence
The Rev Dr William Barber and the Rev Dr Liz Theoharis

Donald Trump and leaders in Congress have enacted one of the most immoral pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. The Republican party has billed its plan as a tax cut for America’s middle class, but it is in fact an act of gross violence against America’s poor to serve the country’s richest and most powerful.


The claim of the cuts is scarcity. But we do not have scarcity of money; we have a scarcity of moral will. We have an abundance of resources that could end poverty for everyone.


Extremist leaders are proposing to give billions in tax breaks to the wealthy, and to pay for it by raising taxes and cutting life-saving services for poor people, working poor people and the most vulnerable among us.
Listen to what the prophets of old in our sacred traditions have to say about this:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-4)
Cutting taxes on the wealthy and eliminating services for the poor and dispossessed has been a plan of white nationalists ever since the days of the southern strategy led by the likes of Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. It is a strategy that those with power and wealth have used throughout history to divide and conquer people at the bottom. What is tragic is the states that are the poorest are the states with the worst voter suppression and the states with the members of Congress most ardently behind this plan.

The very politicians that claim Trump is not stable set aside this assessment to heed his advice when it comes to money. But the Bible says that love of money is the source of all evil.
No one can dispute the fact that this bill being pushed through is full of evil and will have oppressive impacts for which the nation must be warned. This weekend the congressional joint committee on taxation found that while big corporations and millionaires and the heirs of millionaires will benefit, most people making under $75,000 a year will see their tax burdens rise.

Even provisions that one would think would help the working poor – like an expanded child tax credit – are slanted towards the wealthy. A single mother making the minimum wage with two children could claim a $75 tax credit, while a family making six figures will receive thousands in tax cuts.

That is not the only way this bill shifts the burden from the rich to the rest. The legislation would prey on children and families by gutting key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare premiums will rise by 10% over the next decade – meaning a premium increase of $2,000 for middle-class families.

These healthcare cuts will cost lives. About 13 million people will lose coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. We know that for every million people without access to healthcare, 5,000 die preventable deaths. That means our lawmakers and the president of the United States are prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives to deliver a massive tax break to the fortunate few.

We also know these cuts will overwhelmingly hurt many of the white people who voted for them and will have a disparate impact on black people and other people of color.
Meanwhile, the tax cut will add $1.4tn to the national debt, setting the stage for deeper cuts to public goods. In the short term, we could see automatic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. In the long term, this tax plan will lay the groundwork for massive cuts to social security and other programs that sustain the poor, the elderly, and the most vulnerable among us.

We reach back to our sacred texts that affirm life, love, and justice and condemn such systemic greed.




This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood. (Jeremiah 22:3)


Many of the bill’s champions would tell you that they are Christians who let their religion guide their policymaking. Some might even say they are “pro-life”, while they work furiously to strip people of the healthcare they need to survive. But these lawmakers are passing legislation that is heretical to the more than 2,000 verses that call on all of us to care for the poor and the sick. And they have certainly forgotten the warnings of the Bible to leaders who neglect and oppress the poor.



It’s time to stand up and sound the call for the moral revival our country so desperately needs

The proponents of this bill have promised us that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will “trickle down” to the rest. Not only does history refute this tired talking point, the executives who lead the companies themselves deny they will invest their newfound gains in good jobs that could lift working people and their communities. Instead, companies like Cisco, Pfizer and Coca-Cola have said they will turn most of the gains to their wealthy shareholders in a vicious circle of greed and vice.

We know our nation has a heart problem when our elected leaders would rather fight a war on the poor than a war on poverty. This is bigger than any one bill. Legislation like this could only come so close to fruition in a broken political system.
In the 2016 elections, candidates across parties held 26 debates, and in all those hours there was not one mention of poverty or systemic oppression. The voices of America’s poor have been forgotten by those in power, who continue to push a narrative that the poor are poor through fault of their own.


For things to change poor people and people of conscience will have to stand up by the tens of thousands and demand to be heard. On Monday, we are launching the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a movement of direct action, civil disobedience, voter education and mass mobilization aimed at saving the soul of the nation.

Now, 50 years after Dr Martin Luther King, welfare rights workers and many others called for the original Poor People’s Campaign, there is still much work to be done. Whether the tax bill succeeds or fails, it has given the country’s poor, as well as people of faith and conscience who stand with them, one more reason to stand up and sound the call for the moral revival our country so desperately needs.
The Rev Dr William Barber II and the Rev Dr Liz Theoharis are co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival


Zionism no substitute for Judaism

November 30, 2017

God help the blind man, the head of the American Jewish Committee David Harris.



This poor man is pained by the fact that young Jews are expressing “apathy” or outright “hostility” toward Israel. He wonders what his generation did wrong in schools and homes not to convey “a sense of unbridled joy and pride and thrill” in Israel.



In one sense Harris can, and should be proud of some things Israel has done since its inception in 1948—but occupation, ethnic cleansing and blatant discrimination should be causes for self-examination and atonement which Harris seems incapable of.


Harris speaking at Temple Shaaray Tefila, a Reform congregation in Bedford Corners, N.Y., last week was in full bore lamentation:


Every time I hear in a Jewish meeting concerns about our children and their lack of interest in Israel, their apathy about Israel, their hostility to Israel, those friends of theirs who are involved in anti-Israel activity on their campuses or in their schools– to me it’s extraordinarily painful, and I ask myself, Where did we go wrong? Where did we go wrong?


Oh, Mr Harris let me count the ways!


I do have a certain sympathy for his frustration, that Israel’s reputation has latterly turned to rat shit


Why? Why can’t we convey to our own children successfully– why can’t Jewish day schools and synagogues in their after-school programs convey successfully a sense of unbridled joy and pride


Harris then added this howler


I don’t know of another nation that wants peace as much as the nation of Israel. Precisely because, One, it has not known a true day of peace,


Harris’ problem is that he is a stone blind Zionist absolutely unable to come to grips with Israel’s central problem —its failure to acknowledge its original sin, the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 and its continuation of land theft by settlers since 1967.


OC 1


True Zionist believer Harris is unable to see what young Jews see on a daily basis, the brutal oppression of a besieged indigenous population, the shocking murder of innocents in Gaza of 2014. This you cannot hide anymore. The apartheid state up till now has been successful with its propaganda but with cell phone technology, computerization and Facebook, the ugly curtain has been pulled back and young Jews like the young everywhere see the world through the lens of human rights and as far as Israel’s behaviour is concerned, it ain’t pretty.


atme for peace replied to Harris on the Mondoweiss website: Israel just doesn’t have anything to inspire a young jew to love or stand up for.


Eljay wrote: I wouldn’t expect you or anyone else to argue that Israel is or should be a “perfect” country. But what it shouldn’t be is a deliberately and unapologetically oppressive, colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state.
Annie Robbins: the ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and colonization — that’s what it is. it’s natural for young people to want to disassociate from war crimes and massive human rights violations. … Harris should know that most young people with even a minor understanding of the principles of democracy understand it to be representative of all the people, not just people of one ethnicity… but it is downright abusive towards. 
it boggles my mind he doesn’t get this. this ‘why?’ and ‘what is it?’ approach — he could easily find out these answers if he just speaks to young people. it’s kind of a no-brainer.


Finally, the Paranam Kid sums it up


Mr. Harris, the mere fact that you ask this question means 1 thing and 1 thing only (assuming your question is sincere):
You have had your head in a cloud, living in an ivory tower, because it is now painfully obvious that Israel’s lies, justified & prettily dressed up by the incessant stream of Hasbara, has become repulsive to young Jews, who, unlike their (grand)parents, have a more realistic view of that Apartheid state that subjugates a people & works at their slow extermination.
You should be ashamed of yourself for even needing to ask the question, considering your position in the American Jewish community.


Harris seemingly has lost touch with the universal aspects of Judaism, the Deuteronomic (16:20) imperative of tzedek, tzedek tirdof. Justice, justice you shall seek. He has allowed a piece of land in the Middle East to become  the golden calf an idolatrous substitution for the the ethical demands of the Holy One of Israel. The first commandment of the Mosaic decalogue “You shall have no other gods before me.” is suborned on a daily basis in Palestine. A serious Jew would name this false god for what it is.Sadly Harris’ zionism trumps his Judaism.