Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rob Boston to speak in Columbus

An e-mail from the Central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

Rob Boston will be speaking on "Defending the Separation of Church and State in Difficult Times"

Rob Boston, from the national AU office, is coming to Columbus Sunday, Sept. 17, to speak on "Defending the separation of church and state in difficult times." He was scheduled to come last Feburary, but had to cancel at the last minute because of an east coast blizzard.

Details are in the attached flyer. Please copy it/print it/post it/forward it to anyone and everyone! We would like to have a big turnout to support our local AU!

Sunday, Sept. 17th 3:00 P.M.

North Congregational UCC
2040 W. Henderson Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220

Free and open to the public
Refreshments will be served

Alternate link for comments

One Year After Katrina

On anniversary of Katrina storming ashore, residents mourn, celebrate life
Bells toll 1 year after Katrina hit

Alternate link for comments

Sunday, August 27, 2006

B.R.E.A.D. Columbus Fundraising

Back in the spring, Demetrius reworked the logo (seen below) for a local interfaith social justice organization. The organization's name is B.R.E.A.D., which stands for "Building Responsibility, Equality, and Dignity". They now have a Cafe Press shop, and proceeds from the sales will go to support the work of B.R.E.A.D. Columbus (currently having a fundraising drive). Click the logo to visit the store.

B.R.E.A.D (Building Responsibility Equality and Dignity) Columbus Online Store

If you would like to know more about the work and philosophy of B.R.E.A.D., I have provided some links:

BREAD Rises in the Buckeye State
The Nehemiah Assembly: packed like sardines for justice
Rabbi: G-d *expects* us to do justice!
Bread rises!

Those are about the most recent assembly. Here are some older articles:

Pulling together to fight for jobs
Casting Stones (a sermon by Susan Ritchie at a Unitarian Universalist church in Dublin, Ohio)
Church-based programs transform communities (from the Worldwide Faith News archives)

Alternate link for comments

Friday, August 18, 2006

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio Update Blog

After the past couple days of e-mail updates from the Diocese of Southern Ohio, I decided it was time to put together a blog just for matters related to the diocese. Click the graphic below to visit the new blog.

Alternate link for comments

The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr. 1934-2006

From the Diocese of Southern Ohio

A giant of the faith
The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr.

Rest in Peace

In an e-mail note to you yesterday, Bishop Price shared the news that Bishop Thompson died unexpectedly on Wednesday while in Florence, Italy. He was supplying there and had preached on Sunday. He apparently collapsed after swimming and could not be revived.

We don't know any details about arrangements at this point, but we will let you know as soon as possible, both through this e-mail and posted on our website.

We have established a website for you to share your memories of Bishop Thompson and to celebrate his life. Some of these may be used for a special tribute issue of Interchange that will be published later this month. Visit the site at http://bishopthompsontribute.blogspot.com/ I also invite you to submit stories, memories, photos or comments about Bishop Thompson to Interchange. Send them to Richelle Thompson by e-mail, please. The deadline is Aug. 23.

Bishop Price plans to send to the clergy later this afternoon a special prayer for Bishop Thompson that he is asking to be included in Sunday worship. Some congregations are holding special services today and tomorrow to celebrate the life and ministry of Bishop Thompson. A release to the media and a biography of Bishop Thompson are on our website and can be reprinted for inclusion in the worship bulletins, if you'd like.

Please keep Herb, Owen, Kyrie and Christian, and all of Bishop Thompson's family in your prayers.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Richelle Thompson
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

Alternate link for comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Statistical data from Roman Iqbar's talk

As I started into this second section of Mr. Iqbar's talk, I decided that complete sentences were optional. A lot of this is statistical data, and may be of interest to readers--just be forwarned that this will not read like a typical blog or diary post.

How Americans view Muslims. Pew Research Center poll from July 2005

Favorable opinion of Muslims: 55% of Americans 25% unfavorable
Among people who know a Muslim, 74% favorable, 12% unfavorable

Note, much of data doesn't distinguish between Muslims and Arabs, and Arabs are only 25% of the Muslim population in the U.S. This adds another dimension, because 75% of Arab Americans are actually Christian, and only 25% are Muslims.

People who have a higher knowledge of Islam as a religion tend to have a better opinion than those whose knowledge of Islam is low.

The most favorable group of Americans are the Jews, then the Catholics, then the Evangelicals, then the Muslims. But the group that Americans do not trust, surprisingly, are the Atheists. The numbers are pretty staggering, actually. Only 35% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Atheists, so 65% of all Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Atheists, which is pretty shocking, to say the least.

ABC/Washington Post poll from this year in March asked Americans of different religious denominations and races what did they think of Muslims. What I found surprising was that for Americans who are not religious, 33% of them have an unfavorable opinion of Muslims, which is the lowest among all groups in the U.S. which they polled. Now, the people who had actually the least favorable opinion of Muslims are the white evangelicals, which is 61% do not like Muslims. While the people who like Muslims the most among the American demographic are the people who do not have a religion. So you would think there would be a natural alliance, that Muslims would tend to seek nonreligious Americans, because they tend to have the best opinion of Muslims.

Asked about predjudiced feelings towards Muslims and Arabs, 24% of White Evangelicals admitted to this. Again, nonreligious Americans had the least hostility, only 12%.

Asked, do you believe that Islam encourages violence, almost half of White Evangelicals believed this, while nonreligious Americans were more likely to see Islam as a religion of peace.

Roman Iqbar did some research on this perception among White Evangelicals. It's been going on forever, but especially in the last 5 years, a lot of the televangelists have started saying things in public (television, radio) that seems pretty bigoted.

Franklin Graham: "Islam is an evil and wicked religion." And he said last year, "I think terrorism is more mainstream, and it is just not a handful of extremists. If you buy the Koran, read it for yourself, it's in there--the violence that it preaches is in there." Franklin Graham is obviously a very popular evangelist, and he has a big following.

He goes on to say that he found so much from Jerry Falwell that he didn't even bother with it, so moved on to Pat Robertson. Talking about Islam in 2003 on television, he said "Who has ever heard of such a bloody, bloody type of religion? But that's what it is. It is not a religion of peace, it's a religion of violence." Then, talking about the founder of Islam, Mohammed, he says, "This man, prophet Mohammed, was an absolute wild-eyed, fanatic, and to say that these terrorists distort Islam--they are carrying out Islam. And thre are so many things from these televangelists, I could go on for all day, but you get the flavor of it.

Another poll by Project MAPS and by Zogby International--the most comprehensive polling done on Muslims. It was done in 2004, and looked at who the Muslims are, and what they believe in. Seems to be the most reliable poll on what the Muslims hold dear, and what they believe in, and where they're headed.

How do you identify yourself?
50% Democrats
12% Republicans
31% Independents, higher than for any other demographic in the U.S.

Don't fit neatly into a party--Muslims tend to be religious, but more liberal on issues related to social justice.

Questions: Should the influence of religion and moral values in public life increase in America?
85% said yes

Should people be allowed to take kids out of public schools and get school vouchers to send them to religious private schools?
Almost 66% agreed with that.

Should the public sale and display of pornography be allowed or disallowed?
Almost 76% want laws prohibiting or at least restricting the sale and display of pornography.

Should religious institutions be allowed to ask the government for money?
Almost 70% of Muslims agreed with that

Should it be legal for doctors to give people means to end their own lives?
Almost 65% of Muslims disagreed with that

All of these so far are issues where Muslims are closely aligned with White Evangelicals. Where they differ--

Should it be allowed to display the Ten Commandments?
Almost 45% of Muslims say no, while almost 80% of White Evengelicals want the public display of the Ten Commlandments.

Should nondenominational prayer be allowed in schools?
Almost half of Muslims opposed, White Evangelicals mostly supported.

Almost 65% of Muslims do want more research using stem cells.
Almost half would not allow same-sex marriage

Do you believe that there should be universal health care for all citizens?
96% in favor

Do you believe the government should be more generous with welfare?
92% in favor, even though as a percentage, very few Muslims need welfare

81% want more controls on guns
94% want more laws and regulations to control pollution and protect the environment, even at the cost of jobs

Should there be an increase in funding for after-school programs?
Almost 94% said yes. And this is where they really differ from the Evangelicals, who have an extreme mistrust of the public school system, do not agree with it, do not want it to be funded, while the Muslims, at least in 2004, do seem to like the public schools. They want to strengthen them, more after school programs, more teachers, and they are generally in support of public schools.

Alternate link for comments

Muslims and the Separation of Church and State

The following is a partial transcript (in progress) of a talk given at last night's meeting of the central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Predident of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Central Ohio Chapter:
Our speaker is Romin Iqbal. He is the civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He's an attorney practicing in Ohio, and works primarily in the area of religious discrimination in the workplace, and other issues which affect civil rights of Muslims and other minorities. CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, increase dialog, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Romin Iqbal: A little bit about myself. I was born and raised in India, which would be the largest democracy, and then I immigrated to the U.S., which would be the oldest democracy. I went to law school here as well, and what I found fascinating was the whole concept of separation of state and church. On how a secular democracy in India deals with the issue, and how they deal with the issue in the U.S. And what surprised me when I came over here is that there was still a debate going on in the U.S. over the issue of separation of state and church.

Now America is an advanced economy and an industrialized society, and I was surprised that there was still a debate going on in the westernmost nation, if you will, on the separation of state and church. And what surprised me even more is that there is a significant portion of the American population which does not necessarily believe in the concept.

As an outsider, and as a person who has lived in a third world nation, this is not something you think of the U.S. and for a western democracy, that is something which really surpised me--that the debate is still going on in the U.S. and the matter is still not settled. From an outsider's perspective, I found it very interesting.

I actually saw a poll recently, and in it they asked people living in western democracies their views on evolution and creationism. And the U.S. was in the bottom in terms of people who believe in evolution. I think Finland is the highest at 84%, and then you keep going down. And again, I was just blown away by the fact that the U.S. was actually at the bottom of people living in western democracies who actually do not believe in evolution. So that is something which to someone like me is very interesting, and maybe once I get done here, someone can fill me in on what's going on. (Laughter) Why so many in the American population, living in a prosperous, industrial democracy still do not believe in evolution.

Anyway, today I'm going to basically talk about the Muslims in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of the Muslims in the U.S. are actually born in the U.S. I was not, so I would be a minority of Muslims who have actually immigrated. What I'm going to talk about today is who the Muslims are in the U.S., and what do they believe in, and whether organizations like yours can build an alliance with Muslim organizations on this issue of separation of state and church, and whether it's even possible. And where do the Muslims stand on these issues of vouchers or evolution or stem cell.

The speaker explained that he looked at polling data from the past five years, and that his talk would be centered around that rather than his own views and experiences. He also noted that he was not speaking for CAIR.


Columbus has about 45,000 Muslims, most are Somalis who have come here as refugees, but that's not typical. In terms of ethnicity, the largest group of Muslims are from South and Central Asia, which would be India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and that would be around 33%. Then African Americans are the second largest group of Muslims, which is around 30%. The third is people of Arab origin which is around 25%, and then you have Whites and East Asians.

In terms of other demographics, 60% of Muslims have an undergraduate degree. Eighty-two percent of citizens are registered to vote.

Voting patterns of Muslims in 1996, 2000, and 2004

In 1996, almost 75% voted for Clinton, Dole got 20%, and 5% went to the third party candidate.

In 2000, the Republicans were very successful in getting a large share of the Muslim vote. Bush and the Republican party were very successful in reaching out to Muslims, and they had a faith-based alliance--that's what they called it. A faith-based alliance between Muslims and Evangelical Christians. And even though more Muslims voted for the Democrat in 2000, the difference from 50% came down to only 10%. And I was reading the Zogby international poll, and they said there were 55,000 Muslims in Florida in 2000, and almost 70% of them voted for Bush, as compared to 1996, when only 27% of them voted for Bush. So Bush was very successful in winning over the Muslim vote in Florida. And in fact all over the country, even though he did not get more votes than the Democrat, he narrowed the gap in 2000.

How he did that was basically, again, the Republicans were able to build a faith-based alliance with the Muslims. Also, I remember watching this debate in 2000. It was the second debate, and they asked a question about racial profiling of African Americans. And Bush talked about that and then he said Arab Americans are racially profiled in what's called "secret evidence". People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. So Bush spoke up against racial profiling in the debate, and supposedly this was a reason that a lot of Muslims went over to the Republican side, because Bush brought up the issue of racial profiling and he spoke against it.

Now in 2001, we obviously had the terrorist attacks, and in the 2004 election, I looked at a lot of different polls, and I did not see any poll where more than 10% of Muslims voted for Bush. When the Zogby poll asked Muslims why they did not vote for Bush, what they basically said was that they were concerned about civil liberties, they were concerned about secret detentions, they were concerned about the fact that, in 2001, between September and December, the Justice Department locked up 5000 Muslim immigrants, and they did not have lawyers, so that created a lot of fear. And om the last couple of years, they've also started targeting citizens--U.S. citizens who happen to be Muslims. And even though now the Supreme Court has settled that issue, that you cannot keep holding people without a lawyer, that was not settled by the time of the election. And then obviously the Iraq war was a big deal. Most Muslims were agaisnt the Iraq war--in fact, in the numbers I have from Zogby, around 92% of Muslims were against the Iraq war, so that was obviously a big issue why they did not vote for Bush.

To be continued...

Alternate link for comments

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jane Goodall on reasons for hope

This afternoon I sat down with Son in Ohio and watched a DVD about animal intelligence, emotion, and consciousness. Much of the commentary was by Jane Goodall. Even though I'm familiar with her work with primates, and I've got a Millennium Campaign graphic bearing her image on this page, I don't think I'd ever heard her speak much before today. I was really struck by her wisdom and compassion.

This evening, I visited the web site of the Jane Goodall Institute, and saw that one of her pages was entitled, My Four Reasons for Hope. The essay ends with these words:

So let us move into the next millennium with hope, for without it all we can do is eat and drink the last of our resources as we watch our planet slowly die. Instead, let us have faith in ourselves, in our intellect, in our staunch spirit. Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace impatience and intolerance with understanding and compassion. And love.
Click here to read the whole essay. You might also be interested in reading about her Peace Day endeavors:

Join Roots & Shoots for the 2006 Day of Peace Saturday, September 30

Alternate link for comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

General Admission for Jefferts Schori's Investiture

I received these details in an e-mail newsletter from the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori on November 5 is open to the general public, but general admission tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Details below...

Investiture of 26th Presiding Bishop

In rites on November 4-5 at Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church will welcome Katharine Jefferts Schori as its 26th Presiding Bishop.
The Cathedral's 11 a.m. All Saints' Sunday liturgy on November 5 will include the formal seating of Jefferts Schori -- elected to office June 18 during proceedings of the 75th General Convention -- in the Presiding Bishop's cathedra, or official chair. All are welcome to attend the service on a first-come, first- seated basis as capacity allows.

General-admission tickets for the Saturday Investiture will be distributed on a first-come, first- served basis by the Office of the Presiding Bishop, which, in consultation with the Cathedral, has sought to achieve the fairest possible manner of ticket distribution. According to policy detailed below, tickets may be requested no earlier than August 15 and by postal mail only.

Requests must be mailed to: The Office of the Presiding Bishop, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. They must be mailed and be postmarked no earlier than August 15, 2006. Tickets will be distributed on the basis of when requests were mailed (not received).

Each request may include the names of up to two people
No requests for groups will be honored
No requests by e-mail or fax will be accepted

The request for tickets should include a self- addressed stamped envelope in which tickets will be sent or in which you will be informed that tickets are not available
Tickets will be mailed the first week after Labor Day. Included in the mailing will be information about access to The Cathedral and when the doors will be opened.

Alternate link for comments

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage files ballot petitions

Dr. Rev. Eric Brown addresses crowd

From the press release:

Supporters of Minimum-Wage Increase File Petitions,
Call Current Wage an “Injustice”

Columbus, Ohio – A throng of supporters for an initiative to increase Ohio’s minimum wage gathered at the Statehouse today to rally for a raise. The rally was followed by a march to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office where petitions were filed to place the minimum-wage increase on the November ballot.

Dr. Eric Brown, Pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, derided the current minimum wage of $5.15, which has stayed at or below that rate for over ten years. He explained that a full-time, minimum-wage earner in Ohio makes $10,712 a year, which is nearly $3,000 below the federal poverty standards for a family of two. “Paying a hard-working, single mom nearly $3,000 less than the established mark of poverty is an injustice,” said Dr. Brown.

Other initiative supporters spoke from experience about the challenges faced by low-wage earners.

“Healthcare coverage is out of the question when you work for minimum wage,” said Shannon Spradlin. “My husband and I both work full time and we still can’t afford it. When we get sick, we have to make a hard choice between going to the hospital and getting help, or waiting it out and hoping it just goes away.”

Tim Burga of the Ohio AFL-CIO and Co-Chair of Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage said that over 700,000 signatures were filed at the Secretary of State’s office and that he fully expects this amendment to be on the ballot this fall. Burga went on to say that, “after ten long years of holding the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, the need for this constitutional amendment has never been greater.”

The ballot initiative seeks to amend the Ohio Constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, beginning in January, 2007. The wage will then adjust annually for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

“The time has come to take politics out of this issue and put the minimum wage into the Ohio Constitution. Doing so with annual adjustments for inflation will ensure that the minimum wage will always keep pace with the cost of living and prevent anyone from playing politics with this important issue ever again,” said Burga.

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage
, a coalition of non-profit, community, faith-based, civil rights and labor organizations, is supporting this issue. The coalition, which is co-chaired by the Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio State Senator CJ Prentiss, and ACORN Ohio, filed more than double the number of signatures required to place the issue on the ballot.

Looking ahead to the campaign, Burga said, “We must pass this minimum wage increase to help lift many hard-working Ohioans out of poverty—to help other low-wage workers and ensure that inflation never again erodes the value of their paychecks.”

Alternate link for comments

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why the planets spin: on neurodiversity

Crossposted at My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, and Daily Kos

Recently, I started a blog featuring various Cafe Press designs. I was just exploring the popular search topics there--the number one most popular search is for "humor"--and stumbled onto this Autism and Hyperlexia Awareness store. Since Son in Ohio has Asperger's Syndrome, I have more than a passing interest in that topic. I featured some of the designs from that store at this blog, and then searched specifically for Asperger's. That's where I found this design. It reads "I know of nobody who is purely Autistic or purely neurotypical. Even God had some Autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This design caught my attention, before I'd even looked at it close enough to read, because Son in Ohio was absolutely enthralled with the planets when he was around 3 years old. For Christmas one year, Demetrius made him a planet shirt, creating the planets out of fabric paint on a black sweat shirt. I also like the choice of the word neurotypical rather than "normal". The quote is attributed to Jerry Newport. I'd never heard of him before, so I did a search and found this...

When Jerry Met Mary
Lesley Stahl Revisits A Couple Who Both Suffer From Autism

The Poetry of Jerry Newport

Exclusive Interview with author Jerry Newport

Why am I posting this? A couple reasons. On the most basic level, this is an issue that touches my life. Also, one of the things I have learned as the mother of a child who is classified as both special needs and gifted is that "things are not always what they seem", and that it's often necessary to look beyond what others consider to be the "obvious" explanation for something. (One of the designs I found reads "I'm not trying to be naughty. I am autistic. Please have patience.") Also, "normal" is overrated. Einsteing, for example, wasn't "normal". Neither was Thomas Edison, and the world is richer for the contributions that flowed from their "neurodiversity".

But I suppose the point that relates more directly to a progressive/Democratic blog is this. When candidates campaign on "tax relief", most of us know that what that necessarily means is cutting services. Well, these are some of the kids who can end up losing much needed services, and that has a direct impact on their ability to grow up to be happy, well adjusted, tax-paying members of society.

It's tough, because the "Taxes bad!" meme is drummed into people so effectively that even many Democrats fall into the trap of talking "tax relief". We need to find a way to talk about necessary services, and the real human lives they change for the better. And we really need to take to heart the idea that "Democrats believe that we're all in this together". Because the alternative is the "You're on your own" message that the Bush administration has been sending for the past six years. I think that message was at its most stark in the response to those affected by Hurricane Katrina, but the message is sent in smaller ways every day. Those may not make the news, but they can still wreak havoc in individual lives.

Alternate link for comments

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Spreading Peace

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before I had any idea what a "blog" was, I made my first foray into the "tubes" of the internet when I created a site called Puplinks. I had *no* clue how to design a web page, so I took advantage of the easy "drag and drop" page creation offered by Geocities. Once the site gained in popularity, the limitations of Geocities' free hosting became a hindrance--if a site gets too much traffic, under the free hosting plan, it is made unavailable for a period of time. I actually talked about the site on local television once, which, naturally increased interest, and BAM, new visitors were greeted with this ugly "this site has exceeded its allotted bandwidth" message.

Well, that was the motivation I needed to buckle down and actually learn some web design software, and I moved Puplinks to its new home. After September 11, 2001, everywhere I looked, people were flying the American flag on their web pages. To me, that just didn't feel like the right response to a human tragedy of such proportions. So I asked Demetrius to create a graphic that I could use instead--one that expressed things like hope, peace, and unity of the human family rather than nationalism. That's when he created this graphic for me...

Since the only web site I had at the time was the web site about dogs, that's where the candle went. Eventually, I decided it should have its own page, and I created Links of Hope and Peace. Since, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn't blogging at the time, the page was all about the links, baby. Nothin' but links.

And actually, I'd forgotten that the page was even there until just recently, when a few people e-mailed me to let me know that they had used the candle graphic on their own sites. (I had asked people to do that, so that I could link to them.) So today, for the first time in a while, I opened that web page so that I could add the new links. I felt a bit of a pang of guilt for not doing more with the page. And now that so many news stories remind us what a vitally important issue peace is right now, I feel like the page is in need of some updating. If you know of any good links that would be good to add, please let me know.
One of the people using the candle is using it for a vigil for Barbaro.

Here on this site, it burns as a visible symbol of the dedication many of us feel to working toward a vision of a more peaceful, just world.

And for anyone in your life who needs a some light and hope right now.

Alternate link for comments

A gathering of the restful sabbath

From Renee: listener is a poster at one of my other blogs, and she has recently started this "restful sabbath" series. She has graciousy agreed to allow me to crosspost her contributions at this blog as well.

from listener

This is our time to stop doing and just be for awhile. More than just being in order to replenish, we are paying attention to being because everything else flows from that deep interior center of who you(we) are in all reality, love and authenticity. So maybe sit back in your chair and slowly take in these bits of wisdom from many quiet, solid voices who have gone before us through the strains and joys of life...

There are really only two things to do: one is to be still and listen, the other is to take spiritually based action. Everything else is bogus activity which only gets in the way of your real understanding. ~ Joy Houghton

I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It's the light of grace for me. Never do I close my door behind me without being conscious that I am carrying out an act of charity towards myself. ~ Peter Hoeg

Certain Springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But [we] need solitude in order to find again the fine essence of [ourselves]: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Perfect bliss grows only in the heart made tranquil. ~ Hindu Proverb

Solitude is the human condition, the universal vocation to be human. It is the willingness, with Love indwelling, to go to the heart of pain and find new life and share it with the world even though you may be separated from it physically. It is from this commitment to be focused through the narrow gate of solitude that self-emptying love is outpoured, and the heart of the community, the heart of its pain, is transformed into the heart of joy. ~ Maggie Ross

When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer ... it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly. ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

You do not need to leave your room ... Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet. ~Franz Kafka

Alternate link for comments

Friday, August 04, 2006


No matter how serious the issues of the day may be, I just *have* to post something like this every once in a while.

I'm positive that time spent appreciating adorable critters has its place in the grand scheme of things when it comes to healing the world.

From a video on YouTube, which can be found here. (These pups keep reminding me of an illustration in The Poky Little Puppy.)

Alternate link for comments

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Maggie Kuhn, born this day in 1905

I found out via the web site of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio that Maggie Kuhn, who was Humanist of the Year in 1978, was born on August 3, 1905. I had heard one of her famous quotes, "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes" long before I knew who said those words. A few months ago I finally decided to go Googling to find out who the quote was attributed to, and then was duly impressed when I read the story of this woman, who founded the Gray Panthers.

From the Gray Panthers web site:

Maggie Kuhn started the Gray Panthers in 1970 as a response to her forced retirement at age 65. She led a remarkable life, integrating people of all ages in working for social and economic justice. Maggie's voice and activism remain central to what the Gray Panthers stand for today.
In honor of her birthday, I'd like to share some links about Maggie Kuhn.

Daily Celebrations~Maggie Kuhn, Speak Your Mind~August 3

National Women's Hall of Fame

Independent Lens: Maggie Growls (PBS documentary)

Alternate link for comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Priest renounces ordaination in response to Resolution B033

From the comments at gc06-southern ohio

one Episcopalian’s response to General Convention’s late action on the Windsor Report

The Church came so close! The House of Deputies had rejected a resolution (A161) which would have called on Bishops and Standing Committees to “refrain” from consecrating bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

But then, at the last minute the Convention passed Resolution B033, calling on Bishops and Standing Committees not to consent “to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” The language ‘manner of life’ is obviously code for ‘partnered persons of homosexual orientation’; ‘will lead to further strains’ is code for ‘offending those who would exclude such persons’.

In adopting this resolution, the Church in convention has chosen an illusory "place at the [Anglican] table" for the incoming Presiding Bishop, instead of standing clearly for justice and inclusiveness. The Church has tacitly sanctioned bigotry and discrimination against a whole category of people.

Many bishops and delegates of good will are asking us for patience, having created what they see as opportunity for conversation within the Anglican communion. There are at least two problems with this:

Appeasement is never effective. There are those in the Anglican Communion who would have us permanently block gay and lesbian persons from positions of leadership in the Church. Such Anglicans do not want conversation. They want compliance. To appease them only encourages them to continue to dominate.

Justice delayed is justice denied. In the public sphere, after centuries of racism, there were still voices counseling patience from the civil rights movement. Now with homophobic bigotry, as then with racism, how long must we wait? How long must we wait for justice? Is it not long past time?

I find myself crying out, How long, O Lord, how long!!

At my age (80), having tried for 30 years to educate my little corner of the church about the normalcy of homosexual orientation, and having battled a witless biblical literalism much longer than that, I am unwilling for my Church any longer to choose false unity instead of elementary justice.

The “unity,” on whose altar our Church’s latest equivocation is laid, is false and paper thin. There can be no unity with bigots, unless we settle for an unequal relationship of dominance and appeasement. Theologically, the case can be made that God has already made the human family one. Human institutions can build barriers that deny that reality, but can neither create nor destroy it.

General Convention took some actions for which I thank God: most notably the election of Bishop Jefferts Schori and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. We can proceed constructively on those fronts, despite distracting ourselves by attending to the ‘strains’ which some experience as a result of their uninformed homophobia. I trust that some time as a Church we’ll stop that distraction altogether simply by ending discrimination of all kinds.

I am renouncing my ordination, since I no longer in conscience can honor my vow as a priest to be subject to the authority of a church which persists in sanctioning bigotry and exclusion. Priesthood has been a great blessing, and to relinquish it is a very costly action for me. As a member of the laity, I intend to continue to proclaim the faith of Jesus and the prophets, and to work for peace and justice and love.

-- Paul Nicely

Alternate link for comments

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In Thanksgiving

Almost two months ago, I wrote a diary entitled, Married 19 years this August. Activist judges to blame.

Well, it's actually 19 years today. I feel moved to light a candle in thanksgiving for all of the people and events that made this day possible, and for the journey Demetrius and I are sharing together. We have truly been blessed.

Alternate link for comments

Cafe Press

While I was writing up the transcript of Melvin Lipman's talk, my husband Demetrius created some new Humanist-themed designs at Cafe Press. They now have their own section.

The section with Religious Left gear is here.

Alternate link for comments