Who Cares about the Palestinians?

Robert Fisk: Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon’s bloody “pacification”, starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

He quotes Edward Said:  “It’s a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa.”

Amira Hass Reports:  ““Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members,” said S., who opposes Hamas. “And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It’s against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way.”

Peace Now has an interesting Q&A:  “Israel could release its counter-productive economic chokehold on the Gaza Strip the moment the current military operation ends. This would reflect recognition that economic warfare has never altered Palestinian attitudes toward Israel, while the current blockade constitutes collective punishment with severe humanitarian consequences. Israel could declare that henceforth, if Hamas attacks Israelis, the IDF will punish the Hamas leadership, not the population-at-large.”

The Church Speaks:   Immediate attention should focus on vital humanitarian assistance to the suffocating people of Gaza. In March of this year, I spent a day in Gaza visiting religious and community leaders and the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Since that visit, the situation, which was already devastating, has only worsened, with supplies of food, fuel, power, and medical supplies either cut off or indefinitely delayed. Our hospital must now try to treat the wounded under the most impossible circumstances.

A Christmas Poem


One hundred years ago, on an early Christmas morn
The era of instancy was in this way born
the first radio signal was heard, a solo violin
a new medium to relay and send our human signs.

Across the cold north sea a few travellers
heard “O Holy Night” pipe from the cosmic ether
a hymn and a reading to offer some solace and hope
A sweet sound from a distant record player.

The message was static: an AM radio wave:
the fuzzy monochromatic scratchy kind,
But within the white noise our aloneness was staved
by a calm voice that was sweet and mild.

But our own age is marked
by the cacophanous sounds,
of attention-seeking homonoculi
seeking to make our minds bound;

We send many messages, a metallic chatter,
about diets and podcasts, cancer and stars
myspace and lonelygirl, eight cylinder cars
But does Kevin Federline’s album really matter?

When we send these signals into the future,
or to some alien planet with life like our own,
will they wonder about Nicole Richie or Orlando Bloom,
Inquire about about America’s next top model.

Or If someone was listening
to our conversations across the spectrum,
They’d think the devil or savior was Lindsey Lohan,
George Bush, or Osama Bin Laden.

They’d hear the reports of suffering and pain,
the victims cry, of disasters, tsunamis and hurricanes,
about sex and starvation, weight loss and worry
think we are drunk, or alone, and that war is far too easy

But there is a radio signal,
a living song for us to hear
a promise sent from ages past,
a whisper that says “don’t fear.

“There are no ghosts or monsters,
No powers that can chain,
rob your hope and freedom,
even your destiny has been renamed.”

By a single sound of hope,
an aural beacon within the noise;
that would burn and char our despair
transform our emptiness into joy.

So within that static and confusion
that penetrates our ears
This message through the ages
is passed from year to year

That for believers, the sinners and the true
all things are possible, all necessary things, for me and you;

Within the darkest nights of the heart,
the hidden valleys of the soul,
a light in the corner of the world,
gets lit to make our hearts full.

It says, you don’t need Paris Hilton,
to occupy and distract your mind;
or the toys we buy and break,
to waste away the time;

If we faced our fears and depths,
the losses and wins we’ve forgotten
we’d find our bodies strengthen,
with this radio signal from before;

A radio message, a beacon, that has gone through all time
which we trace to a signal way back to Palestine:
A voice in the wilderness, saying “the lived life – your life – is dear
though your world might be ending; be still; never fear

The tribes of the world will sing his holy name,
of faith, hope and love, and liberty from shame.
With his birth, his flesh and his blood, our Lord’s break into time,
a history that makes all history, enchanted and sublime.

But I am still sorting through the din
and static of the world,
its promises and luxuries,
its temptations perpetually unfurled.

The song of the story,
returns me to this ground
to make me humble and generous,
though I still like to party around town.

White Plains, that is.

It says, I am loved, and therefore I am,
He came, and now I am free.
There is a future though it is dim,
but the light is just enough so that I will see.

That my spirit and body, weak and frail,
will be strong and right.
With the sound of sacred comfort
that now pierces through this night.

A Safe Church for Agnostics

Down here, when you meet someone new they ask three questions: “Where do you live,” “what do you do,” and “where do you go to church.” I have various approaches to this kind of white lie. The first approach is not to mention a church specifically. Just say, “I’m Episcopalian” or “I’m Unitarian” and change the subject.

Aunt Shelle on being an Agnostic in the Bible Belt.

Telling people you’re an Episcopalian is one way to end a conversation on religion.

The War on Drugs Sucks

“On that day the Bowers family was flying in a single-engine plane over the Amazon toward their home in Iquitos. Mrs. Bowers was holding the infant on her lap when a bullet fired by the Peruvian Air Force, under direction of the CIA, hit the aircraft, traveled through her back and into Charity’s skull. The plane crash-landed on the Amazon River. Mr. Bowers, his young son and the pilot survived. Neither the plane nor its passengers were found to be involved in any way in the drug business and initial reports said that the mistaken attack was a tragic one-time error.”   Mary Anastasia O’Grady in the WSJ.

The Article.


Syncretism is Nothing New

Philip Jenkins, Religion Scholar and Episcopalian writes When Jesus Met Buddha.

“Yet concerns about syncretism did not bother these early Asian Christians, who called themselves Nasraye, Nazarenes, like Jesus’s earliest followers. They were comfortable associating themselves with the other great monastic and mystical religion of the time, and moreover, they believed that both lotus and cross carried similar messages about the quest for light and salvation. If these Nazarenes could find meaning in the lotus-cross, then why can’t modern Catholics, or other inheritors of the faith Jesus inspired?”

Turkish Academics Admit Genocide

About time

Robert Fisk Comments in 2007.  On 15 September 1915, for example (and a carbon of this document exists) Talaat Pasha, the Turkish Interior minister, cabled an instruction to his prefect in Aleppo about what he should do with the tens of thousands of Armenians in his city. “You have already been informed that the government… has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey… Their existence must be terminated, however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to any scruples of conscience.” These words are almost identical to those used by Himmler to his SS killers in 1941.

A world gone Maddow

We should have learned from Jonathan Lebed.

We might have listened after we bailed out Long Term Capital Management.

Krugman argues that it’s all been Maddow.  “The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion.”

Why did this happen?  Bankers sin.  It didn’t happen in India.  Why?  Joe Nocera writes why.  One reason:  The Anti-Greenspan.  He regulated, and kept bankers to their senses.

“His name was Dr. V. Y. Reddy, and he was the governor of the Reserve Bank of India…. And in the irascible Mr. Reddy, who took office in 2003 and stepped down this past September, it had exactly the right man in the right job at the right time.

“He basically believed that if bankers were given the opportunity to sin, they would sin,” said one banker.

India’s bankers were naturally furious, just as American bankers would have been if Mr. Greenspan had be

en more active. Reddy was constraining their growth! Mr. Parekh said that while he thought Indian real estate was in bubble territory, he was still unhappy with the rules imposed by Mr. Reddy. “We thought these were harsh measures.  The bankers thought they were missing out.  Banks in the United States could post instant, short-term, profits – magically.

As Luis Miranda, who runs a private equity firm devoted to developing India’s infrastructure, put it: “We kept wondering if they had figured out something that we were too dense to figure out. It looked like they were smart and we were stupid.” Instead, India was the smart one, and we were the stupid ones.