Saturday, February 25, 2006

The trouble with power

March 2006 will mark yet another anniversary of the war in Iraq. Iraqis and Americans continue to die. Children continue to grow up in an atmosphere of violence and neglect. We watched "Turtles Can Fly" last night. It's a painful reminder of the children who suffer from the trauma of war and will never escape the consequences of actions of the powerful. My husband found this prayer by Stanley Hauerwas which he wrote after the US sent missiles into Iraqi because Iraq had allegedly tried to kill George Bush I.

Graceful Lord, we find ourselves living in the most powerful country in the world. The pride and self-righteousness such power breeds are beyond compare. No power exists that can humble us. We are tyrants of all we survey. We decide to bomb these people, send rockets against these people, kill those we call terrorists-all because we can. We are the most powerful people in the world. It is hard not to be caught up in such power. It is intoxicating. Save us from it. Sober us with the knowledge that you will judge this nation, you will humble this nation, you will destroy this nation for our pride. Send us a reminder that you are God, that you alone have the right of vengeance, and if it be your will, make those we bomb instruments of you judgment. At the very least, save us from the "normality of killing." AMEN.
To see some of the consequences of our abuse of power, check out....

America uses its might in the service of principles.
Bush, April 2003

How can you liberate people by killing them?
Sheik Serif Maskari

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In the footsteps of St. Francis

How do I know when I have too much? St. Francis sent out his friars with "nothing but a harp" saying "If we had possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them." St. Francis wanted his friars to engage with the world and to never feel tied down either by loyalties to rich patrons or by the accumulation of possessions. He wanted his friars to mix freely with anyone and everyone they came across and in so doing, to be open to every reflection of God on earth.

Is it possible for someone in the 21st C. to live this way? This year, Lent offers me the opportunity to investigate what this lifestyle might mean for me. I want the freedom follow my spiritual journey wherever it leads.

The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.

St. Benedict

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Do I have too much?

The USA alone, with only 6%of the world's population, consumes 30% of its resources.

What causes global hunger is not a shortage of resources, but the unequal distribution of those resources in favour of the rich. No solution to world poverty can ignore this basic fact: putting an end to it will inevitably involve a fairer distribution of the world's food, resources and wealth. This is not compatible with the consumerist creed of ever-increasing consumption.

I've been reading from this website and We are Everywhere about anticonsumerism and anticapitalism. Also thinking about the central theme of Lent, which is sacrifice. I wonder how much we are willing to sacrifice. Not giving up soda or chocolate, but having the guts to revision our world in light of the huge disparity between Western consumption and the poverty of so many countries.

There are so many things we can do every day to return balance to the world. We are responsible for the decisions we make everyday - from owning too much to buying products that support the continued "slavery" of poor workers in other countries.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life on a string

There are so many issues that I would like to write about. Right now I don't have the experiance or knowledge to speak intelligently about most of them. So I've spent a lot of time reading other people's ideas and trying to sort out my own ideas.

Still reading about St. Francis. G.K. writes that St. F. saw the world like a man standing on his head. He saw the world as hanging by a string - dependent on God for everything. From a human point-of-view I often worry that I am making mistakes - that whatever I'm doing is wrong. But in an upside-down view of life NOTHING I could do is right-so I can rejoice in my foolishness and see how God controls even my inability to make the right decision. Perhaps I should consider my total dependence on Him and my total inability to even make a decision. In this way I don't escape my situation, instead I find a way deeper into my situation. Only by going deeper can I find myself or rather lose myself in dependence to God.

The main reason to lose myself is so that I can be more aware of the needs of others. There are so many situations in the world that do not reflect a balance of power or even a recognition of the humanity of so many people. Political and social instituations keep women, children, and anyone without power from fulfilling their purpose.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Moving toward Lent

In the cycle of the church calendar we are traveling toward the wilderness of Lent. It is not a season that comes easily - like Advent or Easter. Instead of celebrations and feasts, we fast. Instead of candles and greenary we have the hard wood of the cross. Instead of lessons on love and peace, we have the desert temptation and the suffering of the cross.

I am trying to spend some time preparing for Lent. Having come from a tradition that didn't pay much attention to Lent, I have only recently come to see Easter in light of Lent. During Advent we wait with anticipation for the joy of Christmas, but during Lent we are drawn with increased tension into the Passion. Only after the suffering of Maunday Thurday and the darkenss of Good Friday are we finally able to celebrate the Resurrection Mass.

In preparation for Lent I am reading G. K. Chesterton's St. Francis. I'm looking for a saintly example to emulate during Lent. On a larger scale I want to live a sustainable lifestyle that reflects the tenents of self-renunction and spiritual ecomomy as taught by the Franciscans and other monastic orders. This presents a conflict considering my present location - NYC and my natural preoccupation with having things. In the words of Jennifer M. Phillips:

God, My wisdom,
When I begin to see how my choices
are part of a pattern of wanting and using
by which others are hurt,
I am overwhelmed and I look away.
Cast out my fear.
Give me a large imagination
to see the hidden connections of your world,
wider compassion
to know my kinship with all people,
and to live as you desire,
one choice at a time.

Prayer for Penitents