REFLECTION: Look for God in the quiet moments, not the disruptions

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

When we listen to the Scripture lessons at a Eucharist like this, sometimes as a result of our reflection on those Scriptures, we’re urged to move into our worldly life with some action, try to change something in the world that is not in accord with the reign of God. But today, it’s more that God is calling us not to go out and do some action, but to become more meditative, more reflective — even, we could say, contemplative.

65516-sr-paulaelijahlAnd that’s in the first lesson today, when you find the prophet Elijah fleeing for his life because he has spoken out against the ruler of Israel, and his life is in real danger. He begins a long journey, and a couple of times along the way, he begins to faint and fall by the wayside, but God assists him, and he goes on. Finally, he gets to the Mount of Hora, which is Sinai, where God entered into covenant with God’s people, and there, he finds a cave.

If you were listening, it’s quite amazing how God comes into his presence — how he experiences God — because there’s first the experience of an earthquake, a tremendous disruption of the earth. Then there’s a terrible wind blowing everything away in its path, and then fire. All of these have been signs in the past of the presence of God…

To read this entire article, click here.

FILM: Support the new film being made about Bishop Gumbleton’s life

Pax Christi USA Ambassadors of Peace Bill and Mary Carry will be hosting a fundraising party on September 14 from 3-6pm at their home in support of the film, American Prophetdepicting the life and ministry of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a founding member of Pax Christi USA. 

bishopgumbletonYou can help finance this film’s production by Jasmine Rivera, an award-winning director, producer and screenwriter from the Detroit area. This is an opportunity to meet and speak with Ms. Rivera and help bring to life this film which will tell Bishop Gumbleton’s story and depict his dedicated and prophetic life in Detroit and around the world.These funds will help produce a short film which will be shown publicly and be used to promote and facilitate the production of a full length feature.

The gathering will be at the home of Bill & Mary Carry, 2375 Avondale W, Sylvan Lake, MI 48320. If you cannot attend, you make tax deductible donations through checks made out to the film’s fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas and sent to the Carry’s address above. 

Click here to see more about the film.

WOMEN RELIGIOUS: Sister acts

by Nicholas Kristof, The NY Times

In an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need
superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may
have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.

816gfg4-j9L“I may not believe in God, but I do believe in nuns,” writes Jo Piazza, in her forthcoming book, “If Nuns Ruled the World.” Piazza is an agnostic living in New York City who began interviewing nuns and
found herself utterly charmed and inspired.

“They eschew the spotlight by their very nature, and yet they’re out there in the world every day, living the Gospel and caring for the poor,” Piazza writes. “They don’t hide behind fancy and expensive vestments, a pulpit, or a sermon. I have never met a nun who rides a Mercedes-Benz or a Cadillac. They walk a lot; they ride bikes.”

One of the most erroneous caricatures of nuns is that they are prim,
Victorian figures cloistered in convents. On the contrary, I’ve become
a huge fan of nuns because I see them so often risking their lives
around the world, confronting warlords, pimps and thugs, while
speaking the local languages fluently. In a selfish world, they
epitomize selflessness and compassion.

There are also plenty of formidable nuns whom even warlords don’t want
to mess with, who combine reverence with ferocity, who defy the Roman
Catholic Church by handing out condoms to prostitutes to protect them
from H.I.V. (They surely don’t mention that to the bishops.)

One of the nuns whom Piazza profiles is Sister Megan Rice. She earned
a graduate degree at Boston College and then moved to Nigeria in 1962
to run a school for girls she had helped establish in a remote area
with no electricity or running water. After eventually returning to
the United States, she began campaigning against nuclear weapons…

Click here to read the entire article.

AFGHANISTAN: Borderfree

Kathy Kellyby Kathy Kelly
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Here in Kabul, Sherri Maurin and I are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ recently formed live-in community for young women. Hollyhocks in the garden reach as high as the second floor of our living space.  Rose bushes, morning glories and four-o-clocks have bloomed, and each day we eat tomatoes, mint and green onions plucked from the well-cared for garden. The water source is a hose and tank outside, (there’s no indoor plumbing) so that’s where dishes and clothes are cleaned. The latrine is also outside, –and unfortunately we’re sharing it with playful neighbourhood cats, but otherwise  Zarghuna, Zahidi and Zahro complete almost every detail of housekeeping, each day, by 7:00 a.m.

Two additional rooms are filled with sewing machines and tables used by a group of local seamstresses.

The men’s community, separate now from the newly launched “Borderfree Community Center of Nonviolence,” where projects and programs take place, also has a fine garden and similar room arrangements.  An added plus – their yard has four trees!

The graffiti, ‘We Love Peace’, on the wall of Borderfree Community Center of Nonviolence. (photo courtesy of Kathy Kelly)

The graffiti, ‘We Love Peace’, on the wall of Borderfree Community Center of Nonviolence. (photo courtesy of Kathy Kelly)

The Borderfree Center is named for Prof. Noam Chomsky’s call, in a 2013 American University of Beirut commencement speech, for participation in “a worldwide struggle to preserve the global commons” so as to secure “decent human survival in a world that has no borders.”  The symbol of their participation is the blue scarf they distribute to friends and supporters, symbolizing the blue expanse of sky upon which national boundary lines will never be drawn.

Going and coming from our communities to “the Center” is a 35-minute walk through village-like streets if you take the back ways.  The Borderfree Community Center, when it was first rented, needed considerable rehab and repairs. Hakim, Faiz, Zekerullah and Abdulhai worked hard to shape it up.  Now, guests enter an attractive space, neatly painted, with plenty of classroom and meeting space.  Plants, curtains, photo exhibits, and carpets have all been carefully chosen.  Sadaf, one of the APV women who has been active in producing the Borderfree scarves, organized art students from local universities to paint images on the walls of a children’s classroom as well as the reception area.  Painted on a wall inside the center’s gate is a playful piece of graffiti with lots of floating bubbles. Letters appearing where the bubbles pop spell out “We Love Peace,” although in a jumbled order that presents a challenge for linear thinkers.  Another artist, a well-known cartoonist, painted an image on the outside wall, visible to passers-by.  It shows a figure who has fired a slingshot at a drone, but instead of a rock, a small red heart symbol breaks the drone in half. 

Classes and programs keep the center lively.  Earlier this week,   ten people who had been invited to participate in a four-week orientation course on nonviolence attended the first session.  We also gathered for the weekly Global Awareness sessions which focus on a range of topics related to militarism, environmental concerns, and socioeconomic inequalities.  Hamidullah Natiq, a seasoned practitioner of conflict resolution in Afghanistan, meets with the group once a week. Local children, part of a “street kids” project, come once a week for Dari language and Math classes, guided by two capable young volunteer teachers, Hadisa and Farzana. And, once a month, the “street kids” receive, for their families, large sacks of rice and containers of cooking oil. These donations allow them to attend school rather than work as vendors on Kabul’s streets.

Rent for the center costs $500 per month. The APVs hope that by selling the borderfree sky blue scarves they can help cover this cost. Sherri, I and other internationals will encourage people in our home locales to assist with the center’s expenses. 

During a recent visit to Kabul’s Emergency Surgical Center for Victims of War, the staff shared with us their sense of what’s happening around the country, derived from the reports of staff working at several dozen clinics and at their main hospitals in two other provinces.  They described Kabul as “a bubble.”  They told us full-scale wars are being fought between quite heavily armed forces in both eastern and southern Afghanistan, although the news coverage that goes beyond Afghanistan generally pertains to Kabul. The groups fighting the Afghan government include various warlords, the Taliban, drug kingpins, and foreign fighters, some of whom may be strategizing ways to cut off the roads to Kabul. The Kabul “bubble” can be quite vulnerable. 

The borders now vanishing in the Middle East – the most radical transformations of the map here since the post-WWI Sykes Picot agreement – are being redrawn in chaos and fear. The bubbles that burst here are the hopes for peace in a world avid for control of this region and its resources.  Unfortunately, durable structures of separation and domination make it difficult for many young Afghans to fulfill their longings to connect meaningfully, peacefully, and stably with a saner world united under one blue sky.

I asked Faiz what he most appreciates about the Borderfree Center.  He immediately spoke of the graffiti outside, saying that it gives him hope and suggests a sense of freedom and courage.  I believe that courage is the ability to control one’s fear. Faiz dares to hope that the courage and love of ordinary people can free them from artificial systems of surveillance, separation, and dominion. The heart of love that breaks apart the drone, propelled by a slingshot converted into a peace-making tool, points all of us in a direction, sorely needed, that aims to abolish war. We have a lot of work to do, our tools are small, and the time is short. Yet over the past several years, as I’ve watched this inter-ethnic community grow, acts of kindness have been a reliable bulwark against war.  Before me, looking out on a flourishing garden, I’m grateful for their hope.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  While in Kabul, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (ourjourneytosmile.org)

CAMPAIGN NONVIOLENCE: Join the campaign and spread the word!

from Ken Butigan, Director of Campaign Nonviolence

Pax Christi USA is an endorser of Campaign Nonviolence. We encourage members to read the information below and become involved in this extraordinary effort.

1cnvsmallCampaign Nonviolence is a new, long-term movement to mainstream active nonviolence and to build a culture of peace free from war, poverty, and the climate crisis.  We invite you to consider joining in – and spreading the word!

Initiated by Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service and backed by 150 national and local justice, peace, environmental and religious organizations, Campaign Nonviolence invites people everywhere to take a public stand against all violence—and to take action for a culture of peace and nonviolence.
September 21-27. Campaign Nonviolence will launch this multi-year effort with 110 local nonviolent marches and rallies—and counting—in cities and towns across the United States.

Following the People’s Climate March in New York, planned for September 21 on the eve of the UN Summit on Climate Change, the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions across the U.S. will reinforce the march’s call for rapid global action to reverse the climate crisis and also underscore the connections between climate destruction, war and poverty.  (Campaign Nonviolence is a participating organization, actively publicizing this historic march.)

From Hawaii to Florida, from Minnesota to Texas, from California to Maine, Campaign Nonviolence will connect the dots, join forces, and call for concrete first steps toward ending war, poverty and the climate crisis, including:

  • An international treaty for swift, verifiable action to reverse climate change; ending the military drone program;
  • establishing a $15 minimum wage for all;
  • K-12 nonviolence education everywhere;
  • and practicing nonviolence toward ourselves, toward all others, and toward the planet.

People across the country and around the world are joining this new movement by signing the Campaign Nonviolence Pledge.  Together we can explore and experiment with putting the power of compassion, truth, forgiveness, courage and love into practice in our lives and our world.  We invite you to take the pledge here!

At a moment when the horror of war is palpably clear—and the ongoing violence of poverty and climate change wreaks havoc across our planet—we have a chance to say with one voice that we are ready to join together for a better way.

Please share news of Campaign Nonviolence with your friends, family members, colleagues, students, universities, organizations, or communities!