Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yes, our freedoms are under attack....but not in the way you might think

I don’t believe that Democrats are out to steal our guns and impose a fascist dictatorship. Neither do I believe that the Louise Giglio incident means that the president is launching a crusade against the first amendment rights of anti-gay Christians. I don’t expect black helicopters from the U.N. to descend on my backyard any time soon, and I highly doubt that the ACLU wants to forcibly remove Bible-believing Christians from the public square and install a secular dictatorship. And—for the love of God—can we please stop the Muslims-are-out-to-impose-Sharia-law-on-America conspiracy theories? All of these are standard nightmare scenarios propagated by the Right to scare people into voting Republican. Worse, they’re smokescreens from the real erosion of our civil liberties, an erosion that’s been taking place under both Republican and Democratic administrations. I’m talking about the erosion of our freedoms under the guise of the War on Terror.

To my conservative Republican friends, if you haven’t heard of the Supreme Court Decision Holder Vs. Humanitarian Law Project , you’re probably unaware that the missionary you write a check to every month could very well be imprisoned for sharing the gospel with anyone representing an organization that the government considers terrorist. This is a serious violation of your first amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, and you can thank the Roberts court for that.

It gets worse.

If you’re a peace organization or a charity organization, and the government wants to prove that you’re providing “material support” to a terrorist organization, the government can now use an “anonymous expert” to testify against you. In an article for the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs , Stephen Downs and Kathy Manley report on the “trial” and incarceration of five directors for the Holy Land Foundation, who were convicted of charges of providing “material support for terrorism”, essentially for feeding the poor and building schools and hospitals in Palestine.

The authors write:

The implications are enormous. The government can now criminalize political, religious and social ideology and speech. Donating to peace groups, participating in protests, attending church, mosque or synagogue, entertaining friends, and posting material on the Internet, for example, could later be found to be illegal because of "associations," manufactured by anonymous experts, which in some way supposedly supported designated terrorist organizations one has never heard of.

Yes, if the government wants to prosecute an American citizen of terrorism crimes that he or she isn’t aware of committing, they can produce an “anonymous” expert.

Let. That. Sink. In.

Of course, if the government doesn’t want to bother with prosecuting you, they can just hold you without charges indefinitely under the National Defense Authorization Act.

And if that doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies—we can always talk about Obama’s kill list.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Keeping the Feast by Milton Basher-Cunningham

Review by Dan Sidey

Keeping the Feast is a truly multi-faceted feast. It's about Communion, food, cooking, community, kinship across divisions, justice, failure, forgiveness, baseball, the power and beauty of ritual, remembering, loving in the small things and much much more. Milton Brasher-Cunningham communicates out of the same streams as the New Monastics, the Catholic workers, and mainline churches, but now imagine they've all gone chef. He does all this with an unique voice as well as a fascinating(sometimes cute) logic.

A great example of the books multi-faceted-ness can be seen in chapter 7 called Striking Out. Brasher-Cunningham shows us how failure is a normal and expected part of life. Echoing the wisdom of baseball, most of life is consumed with striking out. But life, as in baseball, is also about coming home. In a vain similar to John Alexander's admonition that it's possible to view other people's sins as we see the weather, Basher-Cunningham writes that while our sin may be prodigal, God's love is also wasteful and extravagant(the meaning of 'prodigal'). Therefore as Communion reminds us of God's great "failure" on the cross we are offered plenty of room at the Table for embracing each other as sinners and saints.

Every chapter has a good share of thought and challenge similar to this. The chapters begin with Basher-Cunningham's own poetry which is grounding. Every chapter ends with a recipe to a dish or desert mentioned in the meditations. If the meditations aren't enough to attract you to the book the recipes will. I've already cooked a few of them and they are well worth the cost of the book.

So get your fork and spoon ready. This book will feed you heart, soul and body.