Category Archives: Berger

CHRISTMAS 2013: Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Dec. 28

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by Rose Marie Berger

1 John 1:5-2:2 | Matthew 2:13-18

“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” (Matt 2:18)

Lament of Rachel

Why, the rabbis have asked through history, are the tears of Rachel different from the tears of other mothers? Rachel’s grief is complex and beautiful. Her barrenness, her inability accept Jacob’s love for her even without children, her jealousy of her sister Leah, Rachel’s death in childbirth, her burial by the side of the road–all this creates the harmonies and countermelodies in Rachel’s lament.

The Torah scholar Rashi quotes a midrash saying that Rachel was buried in ba-derekh, “no place”, or the transitional space between one named place and another named place, because it was on the route that her children would take when they were forced into exile. The midrash honors Rachel as the mother of many, even though she gave birth only to Benjamin. It also teaches that there is no place where her children may be forced to go where she will not be with them.

When Herod murders the children in Bethlehem because the Infant King of the Jews was not handed over to him by the magi, Rachel’s wailing rises up. Her cries signal a new exile. And why will she not be consoled? Because justice has not been served. Rachel will scream and mourn and cry out–driving Herod mad–until there is accountability for every dead child.

Rachel weeps still.

“Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.” (O Holy Night)

This reflection is from Syllables of the Perfect Word: Advent Reflections 2004. Rose Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet.

REFLECTION: Refugees from the military-industrial empire

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

Brandon Toy worked for General Dynamics, one of the leading U.S. war corporations. He was an engineering project manager who built Stryker armored fighting vehicles. Before working for GenDyn, Brandon was in the Michigan Army National Guard as a rocket specialist, team leader, and vehicle commander. He deployed as a military policeman in Baghdad in 2004-2005.

Today he resigned – in protest – from the whole shebang. (Read his letter below.)

There are thousands of people who joined the military or war corporations after the attacks on Sept. 11 because they thought it was a way to being meaning to that senseless carnage. Additionally, in the midst of the Great Recession, there was only one industry that was always hiring: military-industrial-information corporations.

I applaud Brandon for “throwing down his gun.” It’s up to the rest of us to find him gainful employment in something that contributes to the “culture of life,” rather than the war machine…

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.

REFLECTION: “For God so loved the world” – Christians and climate change

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States launched two ground wars and a worldwide “war on terror.” Within two months, Congress federalized the Transportation Security Administration to secure airports. More than 263 government organizations were either created or reorganized. Some 1,931 private companies were put to work on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Rightly or wrongly, America moved heaven and earth to stop terrorism in its tracks. It was seen as both an ongoing threat and a moral affront that had to be dealt with.

What about Climate Change?

In February, a New York State Senate task force on Superstorm Sandy compared the hurricane that affected 24 states to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “[On 9/11] there were more than 3,000 souls lost, but in terms of the geographic destruction, it was isolated to Lower Manhattan,” said Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). “[After Sandy] we have miles and miles and miles of destruction. Hundreds of thousands of homes affected, 60 … New Yorkers killed, 250,000 to 260,000 businesses affected.”

Hurricane Sandy killed 253 people in seven countries. It was the second largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded—and the most expensive. It smashed into the East Coast with barely three days’ warning. Like hurricanes Katrina and Rita before it, Sandy was a disaster of biblical proportions.

After 9/11, Americans knew in our gut that something was seriously wrong. Our moral intuition had been sucker punched.

Climate change—and its deadly implications—has been harder to grasp. There’s a lot of complicated science involved. Instead of a single incident, we’re inundated with seemingly disconnected events. And, despite the evidence, we often fail to see it as a “crime.”

But global warming is a clear and present danger—with perpetrators, victims, and, most important, solutions…

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.

REFLECTION: Guns and greenhouse gases – the Lord said “Tell the people to get moving!”

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!”–Exodus 14:15

Sometimes you spend years preparing for change, then when it arrives you are too tired to get moving.

I’m trying not to let this happen to me.

For inexplicable reasons, the horrific shootings at Newtown and Superstorm Sandy have shifted something in the American soul. After all these years of advocating for action, there is finally forward movement on climate change and sane gun regulations. Though I for one am weary and tired, I want to encourage you (and myself) to do what we can to meet this moment.

1. On greenhouse gases and climate change–If you’ve never spoken out about climate change, do it now. Write to your Congressional representatives and ecclesial leaders asking them for strong, clear leadership to reverse of global warming and mitigate its associated social disruptions. President Obama raised it in his inaugural address. There seems to be movement in Washington to address it–finally. While in most cases the best solutions to a problem are those closest to the ground, this is not the case with climate change and climate disruption. It will only be adequately addressed with federal leadership. So we’ve got to push. Tell Barack Obama that you support him to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

2. On sane gun laws–After the shootings at Sandy Hook, Americans rose up to demand two things: universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. President Obama’s 23 planned executive actions on weaponry is moving us forward on universal background checks.

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.

CHRISTMAS 2012: Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28

Christmas 2012

By Rose Marie Berger

1 John 1:5-2:2 | Matthew 2:13-18

A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children,and she would not be consoled, since they were no more. (Matthew 2:18)

Why, the rabbis have asked through history, are the tears of Rachel different from the tears of other mothers? Rachel’s grief is complex and beautiful. Her barrenness, her inability to accept Jacob’s love for her even without children, her jealousy of her sister Leah, Rachel’s death in childbirth, her burial by the side of the road–all this creates the harmonies and countermelodies in Rachel’s lament.

The Torah scholar Rashi quotes a midrash saying that Rachel was buried in ba-derekh (“no place” or the transitional space between one named place and another named place) because it was on the route that her children would take when they were forced into exile. The midrash honors Rachel as the mother of many, even though she gave birth only to Benjamin. It also teaches that there is no place where her children may be forced to go where she will not be with them.

When Herod murders the children in Bethlehem because the Infant King of the Jews was not handed over to him by the magi, Rachel’s wailing rises up. Her cries signal a new exile. And why will she not be consoled? Because justice has not been served. Rachel will scream and mourn and cry out–driving Herod mad–until there is accountability for every dead child.

Rachel weeps still.

“Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.” – O Holy Night

This reflection is from Syllables of the Perfect Word: Advent Reflections 2004. Rose Marie Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet, and is an editor at Sojourners Magazine.

For more Advent and Christmas resources, click here.

CARE FOR CREATION: The Thing from the Oil Company Board Room

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

The Global North and West is addicted to fossilized fuel. Myself included. And we are trying to push our addictions onto the Global South.

Everywhere we look the fossil fuel pushers are in our face, luring us into our next fix.

Not a week after the elections, the American Petroleum Institute launched ads in Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Arkansas, and North Carolina targeting U.S. senators who are raising the issue of climate change; specifically, the ones calling into question oil company subsidies.

The oil and gas companies try seduction (“fighting for jobs”). They try fear (“we are too big to fail”). They accuse us of being unfair to them(“Discriminatory treatment of the oil and gas industry is a bad idea”). They try bullying and slandering…

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.

CHURCH: 5 things to read for thinking Catholics

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

“It is not that the Gospel has changed, it is that we have begun to understand it better … the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity to look far ahead.”Pope John XXIII

On Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII (“Good Pope John”) opened the Second Vatican Council. As American Catholics look at where we’ve been and where we want Vatican II to take us in the future, I offer this reading list below.

We are at a time ripe with conversion and energy around new ways to be Catholic that are vital for our world today. While current Vatican leadership is practicing “Curial conservatism,” fleeing backwards into the dimming halls of time, the laity continue to lean forward into “aggiornamento,” as Pope John XXIII put it, updating the modes of our faith to match the desperate needs in our world. We are taking up the Resurrection banner and carrying it forward into a world in need of the sacramental life Catholicism has to offer.

Here are 5 articles and books that are important reading for today’s Vatican II Catholics…

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.