At church today someone wrote in the book, ‘I’ll miss the sound of Blossom’s typewriter at the Amnesty International Write-a-Thon today.’
Amen to that.
Annual Write-a-Thon for Human Rights
Sunday, Dec 4, 1-5p, Open House
The guest speaker for our twenty-fourth annual Write-a-thon will be Mohammed Fallahiya, a former Iranian prisoner of conscience and torture victim, kept for many months in solitary confinement. In prison, he came to know the prisoner on whose behalf the Providence Chapter of Amnesty International has been appealing for over five years. Join the Global Write-a-thon, with events held in communities across the U.S. and around the world.
We will provide all materials for writing letters appealing for prisoners of conscience in many countries. Our actions work: many prisoners have been freed, and human rights abuses stopped, thanks to our volume of letters. Refreshments and prizes make this event festive and fun, as well as deeply meaningful. Suitable for young people and families.
Co-sponsored by the World Affairs Committee and the Providence Chapter of Amnesty International
This is not the kind of post I like to write, but sometimes the personal and political are so intertwined it’s not possible to stay on the lofty perch that We at Kmareka feel most comfortable perching on. So We are just going to put it out there.
It’s something most of us are now going through, or will. This week I got a 5am call that my mother was in the Emergency Room. She’s having a hard time adjusting to the loss of my father, and I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a spouse of over fifty years. All went well, medically. Otherwise it’s clear that we kids will have to call regularly, because our mother needs us.
Today I went by to visit her, and things were good until I left the room for a bit and came back to the sound of the radio. My mother listens to some religious station that always sounds angry. She was all of a sudden very worked up about whether Governor Lincoln Chafee lights a Christmas Tree or a Holiday Tree. She said that The Jews would never call a Menorah a candlestick, would they? I said that I had not seen any giant Menorah on the State House lawn, but we could drive on over there and look. I was trying to get her out of the house. I argued with her for too long, I could not get her to understand the difference between public and private space and finally she told me that I hate Christ.
Readers, you know that earlier this morning I posted a verse from the King James Bible. Unitarians are free, skeptical and tolerant– that’s Tolerant with a capital ‘T’. And me and Jesus have an understanding.
This would just be TMI, except that on the way home I stopped at a Dollar Store, and there was a woman in the checkout line who was talking loudly to all around about how Christmas isn’t Christmas any more. And that Governor Chafee is going to light a Holiday Tree. And The Jews would never call a Menorah a candlestick, would they? And you can’t give presents to children. And people are all bad these days, nothing is good anymore. I wished her peace and goodwill and got out of there.
Clearly this is a talking point going around. Since Christians are about 78% of the population and Jews less than 2% I doubt this tree crisis has anything to do with Hanukkah.
It’s got a lot to do with politics, finding some ammunition against the Governor, and the fun of a symbolic war that doesn’t cost blood or treasure, and stokes a satisfying sense of grievance. When 78% of the population feels dissed, all us non-Christians had better watch our step.
The funny part is that there’s nothing in the Bible about bringing trees indoors. The evergreen and lighting candles at the time of the winter solstice is a custom with Pagan origins. That’s why some Christian denominations ban these observances. And our Pilgrim forebears had no sense of fun at all…
It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
I haven’t seen the State House tree yet, but I was downtown and City Hall has the grandest most extravagantly lit tree I’ve ever seen–it’s like a giant redwood. As a taxpayer I can probably claim a few needles and bulbs as my own contribution. Public art and beauty matters. You can call it a Christmas tree and I won’t get too excited. I appreciate the intent of calling it a Holiday tree, though, because I like being included in my own home state. All the people who can’t miss a chance to stamp a cross on a season that includes holidays of several religions and serious shopping should try extending peace and goodwill instead. It would be the Christian thing to do.
It seems like the quickest way to get attention is to do something disgraceful, fame and notoriety get you the same amount of internet hits.
15 people in a church in rural Kentucky got their 15 minutes.
(AP) LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When Stella Harville brought her black boyfriend to her family’s all-white church in rural Kentucky, she thought nothing of it. She and Ticha Chikuni worshipped there whenever they were in town, and he even sang before the congregation during one service.
Then in August, a member of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church told Harville’s father that Chikuni couldn’t sing there anymore. And last Sunday, in a moment that seems from another time, church members voted 9-6 to bar mixed-race couples from joining the congregation.
By way of comparison, here is another church in Kentucky, in 2006…
(AP) A woman died after being bitten by a snake during a serpent-handling service at church, police said.
Linda Long, 48, of London, Ky., died Sunday at University of Kentucky Medical Center, Brad Mitchell, a detective with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
Long died about four hours after the bite was reported, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
Officials said Long attended East London Holiness Church. Neighbors of the church told the newspaper the church practices serpent handling.
Decades ago, in what must have been a wrenching church/state conflict, the state of Kentucky passed a law against religious rituals involving poisonous snakes. Other states in the South found it necessary to outlaw this mode of worship. Things are different down there.
Somewhere in our great nation, a little boy is saving his allowance to buy a Christmas present for a needy child. Across the USA churches will celebrate Christmas with acts of generosity and goodwill. This won’t make headlines, it happens every year.
A church with about 40 members that decides to put respect and inclusion of one of their own to a majority vote– and bans a loving couple from their community– this gets attention.
Hate radio stars who want to use Christmas to identify and bully non-Christians into accepting domination of public space by the majority religion get way more publicity than the Christians who spread peace and goodwill.
The Kentucky churchgoers who feel that a church service is just not complete without someone waving a handful of copperheads would tell you that they alone are keeping the true Christian faith, and they really believe it.
The Christian religion is so wide and so diverse that throughout history Christians have tortured, murdered and attempted to annihilate Christians of different sects or nations. This is also true of other huge major religions. It’s a tragedy of human nature that we are violent, warlike, shortsighted fools and no religion has changed that.
I’m not trying to harsh on the Season, I’m just pointing out that it’s not wise to assume everyone who wears a cross is singing with the same choir.
This issue was addressed about 2,000 years ago…
Matthew Chapter 7 vs 15-20
15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
I wonder why a church that can’t rustle up more than 15 voters would want to drive out two nice young people who want to be a part of their congregation.
Stella and Ticha would be welcome in plenty of other churches and I imagine they will find one that values love and justice.