Religious Freedom excuse for discrimination

The Nation published this timely piece on the Trump Administration draft reinterpreting the religious freedom clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Click HERE to read the plan that would serve as grounds for all kinds of discrimination – until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 2, 2017

 

Is Democracy Threatened?

After a brain stretching week with The Nation‘s Katrina Vanden Huevel, John Nichols, Laura Flanders, Sasha Abramsky, Dorian Warren, Peter Kornbluh, Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich, my head is still spinning. Too much to write about.

We return to Views from the Edge with this thoughtful NYT Sunday Review op-ed that addresses what The Nation speakers, panels, and guests spent the week discussing.

Click HERE to read  “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Dec. 17, 2016

Making the nation great again?

Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_037

Prisoners exercising in the Yard – Vincent Van Gogh

Might Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the Prisoners Exercising have been inspired by conflicting biblical texts, like the ones read in many churches two Sundays ago?

The reading from the Book of Nehemiah tells the story of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

In the absence of leadership, the people’s confidence – their sense of national destiny – has been shaken. The citizens have intermarried. They’ve welcomed and married foreigners. Now Jerusalem’s exiled leaders have returned to restore the nation’s religious identity, to rebuild a nation that has lost its way. Ezra, the priest, and Nehemiah, the governor, are rallying the people to make the nation great again.

Sound familiar?

Jesus, Ezra, and Nehemiah shared a common faith. They were children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their lives were rooted in Torah. Each interpreted Scripture in his own time, according to his own lights. Ezra and Nehemiah re-built the wall. Jesus doesn’t like walls.

Jesus returns to his home town synagogue in Nazareth. He opens the scroll to the Book of Isaiah, and selects the reading announcing good news to the poor, release to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed.

There is nothing about building walls. Nothing about isolation. Nothing about privilege. Nothing about rebuilding the nation. Nothing about the nation at all. Nothing about building the walls of a self-imposed penitentiary.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. – Luke 4: 16-18

No more prison. No more wall. No more other! Every Other is a BrOther. Otherwise, we’re all exercising in the prison yard.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Jan. 31, 2016

WikiLeaks at the United Nations 9/26/12 – a Reflection

Watch WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking by satellite from Ecuador where he lives in political assylum. Unedited Politics deserves credit for posting this. It’s chilling. But it’s important. Of particular interest are references to President Obama that both hold him accountable and seem to hold out hope he might still do what lies beyond the power of the Oval Office.

After watching the video, read William Stringfellow’s words in An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, published in 1973. Stringfellow argued that “extra-constitutional” powers and authorities had already walked off the republic.

Julian Assange Speech to UN General Assembly: “US Trying to Erect National Secrecy Regime” – 9/26/12.

William Stringfellow – author, lay theologian, lawyer among the poor and defense attorney for Bishop James Pike and the Berrigan Brothers (Frs. Phil and Dan) – wrote the following in 1973:

“In this world as it is, in the era of time, in common history – in the epoch of the Fall, as the Bible designates this scene every principality has the elemental significance of death, notwithstanding contrary appearances. This is eminently so with respect to nations, for nations are, as Revelation indicates, the archetypical principalities… All virtues which nations elevate and idolize – military prowess, material abundance, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, high culture, racial pride, trade, prosperity, conquest, sport, language, or whatever – are

subservient to the moral presence of death in the nation. And it is the same with the surrogate nations – the other principalities like corporations and conglomerates, ideologies and bureaucracies, and authorities and institutions of every name and description…

“The Fall is where the nation is. The Fall is the locus of America… Since the climax of America’s glorification as a nation – in the ostensible American victory in World War II, most lucidly and aptly symbolized in Hiroshima – Americans have become so beleaguered by anxiety and fatigue, so bemused and intimidated, so beset by a sense of impotence and by intuitions of calamity, that they have, for

the most part, been consigned to despair… Racial conflict has been suppressed by an elaborate apartheid; products which supposedly mean abundance turn out to contaminate or jeopardize life; the environment itself is rendered hostile; there is a pervasive Babel; privacy is a memory because surveillance is ubiquitous; institutional coercion of human beings has proliferated relentlessly. Whatever must be said of earlier times, in the past quarter century, America has become a technological totalitarianism in which hope, in its ordinary connotations, is being annihilated.”

An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, William Stringfellow, 1973. (Bolded print added by Views from the Edge)