Sunday, September 30, 2012

Truly Human Be-ing

Radical Hope in Hard Times: Some reading questions for your reading of Nancy Eiesland

Signs of the Messianic Age:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy. Is 35:5-6

The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-32

So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22


I walked into the administrative offices of EDS and saw Jesus there with Mary his mother, and I sat down between them on the couch. Mary looked at me with a full plump shining face--perhaps rubbed with olive oil it gleamed so much--and with a great loving smile said, "Pat, be a human being!" 

"What, that means having a BODY that decays and ages and breaks and rots!" I cried. Mary hugged me and said, "I know, I know." Then I wept, "And someday, I will have to .. DIE." Jesus hugged me and also wept and said, "I know, I know."

I had that dream in 1983, and today Nancy Eiesland [see link] reveals its meaning: that the fully human body is already or inevitably will be disabled, sick, limited, crazy, damaged, in terrible pain, oozing, blind, incoherent. The full human body is susceptible to torture as much as glory, and cruelty as much as love.


Thus, Eiesland breathes life into "broken for you... shed for you..." In her liturgy she writes, "will be broken for you." Jesus, while still healthy says he will be/is willing to be broken for you. Her liturgy calls to mind the hymn in Philippians where Paul writes that "[Jesus] took the form of a slave."  The Son of God entered disability when "not counting equality with God something to be grasped," when becoming willing to take on human form.

Not all identiify with their disabiity or care to--but when turning to the theology of the disabled God we all, as Christians can. No matter how healthy our habits or beneficial our genetics, if we grow old enough we will experience disability and helplessness--"complete," as St. Paul says, "the sufferings of Christ."

So what are we to make of the healings as sign of the Messianic Age?

The American Disabilities Act of 1990 has affirmed the civil rights model of disability advocacy, declaring disabled persons official minority status. We have all benefited from the act whether from wheelchair at the airport or additional facilities and attention at school.
The political work of reognizing rights for minorities is work of healing, and that healing is bringing the Kingdom "by little and by little."

The other side of access FOR the disabled is access TO the disabled--the different voices we now hear speaking where before these voices were denied or unheard or punished. The mute are speaking. Hearing diverse narratives is equally healing work--and perhaps we are just at the beginning having our ears unstopped, so as to receive Good News.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts on "Drift" towards Bloated Military

I promised to post about Rachel Maddow's "Drift," in which she says the military has come uncoupled from the citizenry, and that is one reason the USA has become "at peace with being at perpetual war." This peace with war is against the Founding Fathers' intentions, Maddow says, because they wanted it to be hard to declare war.

Maddow writes this peace with war began with an uncoupling of citizenry from military, starting during LBJ's Vietnam draft--that she portrays as an end run around Congress to avoid having to seek Congressional approval to call up the Reserves. (Well, we certainly weren't at peace about THAT war). Except for a brief time under the Abrams doctrine, that wove civilian and military back together for a while, the US continued towards the present bloated military operations, which include all these billions for civilian contractors. She doesn't like CIA-operated drones either, as they promote "secret war" and are ridiculous because some manipulators of the drone controls dress up in flight suits.

In the olden days, Maddow says, the military used to build its own buildings and cook its own food; and that in between wars they worked on the infrastructure of the nation. In the olden days, it was painful for everyone to start a war and to pay for it.

But now that the USA owns "one hell of a killing machine" and therefore wants to use it and also has to maintain it or it will degrade into junk. It's all too big, too out of touch, too expensive, too easy to corrupt, and too easy to deploy.

Maddow's solution is to

--fund wars by taxes or war bonds. Can't argue with pay as you go.

--Do away with secret military instead of having CIA running the drones. The Air Force should run the drones. OK.

--Stop expecting too much of military and also stop "deferring to military commanders."

--Back off the dependence on contractors (which started, she explained, because they weren't owed pensions and veterans' benefits but now we can't afford them!). "Our troops need to peel their own potatoes again, drive their own supply trucks...."

--Shrink nukes.

--Finally, she calls for voting people into Congress who will "stop with the chickenshittery..."


Then I started thinking, though. When was it so hard to go to war, as the Founding Parents wanted it to be? In the French and Indian War, where officers trained for the Revolutionary War? In the War of 1812, which involved Europe's power plays and also our own, as we ran off in different directions trying to annex Mexico and Canada both? Or the Civil War, of course, when military and citizenry were so woven together; where ladies in buggies drove out to view the early battles, and where emancipated slaves tagged after Sherman's army? Oh, then there was the Spanish-American war, the Mexican War (where officers trained for the Civil War), some dustup over the Philippines, perhaps Panama? And of course the ongoing conflicts with the American Indians, which we now berate ourselves about because we won them. All financed by war bonds? Declared by Congress?

Please, I don't want to write a 10-page paper on the topic.

WWI, WWII*  and Korea (a "police action" by the UN); all these wars I mentioned took place in the olden days before Vietnam. With much scut work done by Negroes and Filipinos because the armed forces were segregated until Truman did away with that.

Vietnam was a horror show; and then we had problems in Lebanon, in Somalia not to mention Iran. And I almost forgot the Nicaragua El Salvadore adventures of Ronald Reagan. But the Balkans mission is considered a success, and so is even Desert Storm. The latest fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan--there were plenty of Reserves called up for those.

I don't know! Some of Maddow's suggestions sound good; I'm just questioning whether the US was all that cautious and fiscally responsible about going to war in every case in the olden days. Plus, you know it's a different world and so forth.

The good news could be that even though Maddow published this year, her premise that we are "at peace with perpetual war" may not be quite correct. It seems we are a war-weary nation, perhaps ready for some reforms in defense.  We have a president who is getting us out of wars instead of into them, and that is a good start.  As for voting out the "chicken-shittery," I am not so sanguine--so to speak.

Worth thinking about, and it is an easy read (261 pp. including notes).

*When it was TOO hard to declare war due to isolationism in Congress.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Arab Autumn

The Middle East is erupting in riots the past few days. Someone somewhere insulted the Prophet Mohammed, and young Muslim men are  rioting, burning, and killing.

I read somewhere that populations with an excess of young men have a tendency to war, and this looks to me like an example.

Secretary of State Clinton made a statement in which she pointed out all great religions have been insulted. I would add that our own Christian Savior was spat upon and crucified in person--not to mention "piss Christ"! Christians could riot if they wanted to.

Not to mention the Jews! The people who are the apple of God's eye have endured more than any the slanders, the violence, the genocide, the pogroms.  You don't hear about Jews rioting. Israel might attack you if you blow up their markets or their seders, but they don't often turn out to mob your embassy and murder your diplomats (as happened in Libya).

I don't know enough about other religions to cite examples, but I am sure members of all religions have endured insults and calumnies because of their faith.

But OK, the Muslims are especially touchy. They put a fatwah out on Salman Rushdie, and there was another big flap over some Scandinavian cartoon. What is to be done?

Reports say the insult to Mohammed came from a youtube video from a fundamentalist "Christian" group. Another report I saw said that since everyone knows Muslims tend to overreact to stuff like this, releasing such a video could qualify as "inciting to violence."

Another report says the attack in Libya was actually an organized ambush, not a spontaneous riot. Apparently that distinction matters. An arrest has been made so we shall see.

A sad sequel to the Arab Spring.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Teachable Moments

Could we the people try to make this election season a time for informed discourse?

Conversation Starters

-- Faith and Govt.

    What does our Constitution say about freedom of religion? ["There shall be no establishment...."]
    Fun fact: Baptists in VA (?) fought the establishment of the Episcopal Church as state religion whose ministers would be paid by tax dollars. [Will look up.]

Ok, Scripture!

    Ps 41:1:  "Happy are they who consider the poor and needy The LORD will deliver them in time of trouble."

   Ps 50:16:  "But to the wicked (larasha = guilty, wrong) God says:
         -21               'Why do you recite my statutes,/ and take my covenant upon your    lips;
                    Since you refuse discipline (musar = education, instruction)/and toss my words behind your back?
                    .... You have loosed your lips for evil, and have harnessed your tongue to a lie....
                    These things you have done, and I kept still, and you thought that I am like you.'"

In other words, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' And do not do what I say?" (Lk 6:46) -- i.e., consider the poor and needy!

-- Federal vs. State Govt.

   How many Republican governors
         accepted the bailout?
         demanded more federal help for their state? (e.g., Rick Perry "boots on the ground"?)

  How did founding fathers intend a govt, by "We the People" to work?

     (Hint: There are 3 branches of Fed. govt. There are also powers reserved to the states. What are they, all or part?)

Next: Class for New Citizens, will find out!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Distant Cousin Sewed First LDS Garments

I am descended from an English family named Aldridge, or Aldrich, or Allred; they tended to mix it up, back so far to 17th century England. The Allreds came into our family via the Horners, when Elizabeth Allred, daughter of a certain John Allred, married Wm. Horner, Sr., in Randolph County, NC, in 1766 or '67.

Elizabeth's father, John, had a son Thomas who became the grandfather of a certain James Allred, making James my second cousin six times removed. James is mentioned in the "Record of the posterity of Joseph Smith Black and Nancy Cynthia Allred Black." P. 10 of this record, found on, claims James Allred drove Joseph Smith to Nauvoo [IL] and later to Carthage, where Smiith was imprisoned and killed.

"They came to Utah in 1850 and was sent to Senpete Valley." "They" [whoever "they" were]  established Allred Settlement, later known as Spring City. 

According to the record, "James became Bishop of Spring City....His wife Elizabeth Warren obviously was born of wealthy parents who disowned her when she joined the Church. However, they eventually joined too. She was an expert seamstress and under the direction of the Prophet Joseph, with Emma and Eliza R. Snow present, cut out and made the first graments [sic].... The prophet said they were just as near as he remembered the garment worn by the Angel Moroni. This loyal and true couple lived and died true Latter Day Saints. They are both buried in the Spring City Cemetery."

Wikipedia says:

Making the Garment
There are conflicting accounts of how the first garments were designed. According to one account, the original temple garment was made of unbleached muslin with markings bound in turkey red, fashioned by Nauvoo seamstress Elizabeth Warren Allred under Joseph Smith's direction. Joseph's reported intention was to have a one-piece garment covering a man's arms, legs and torso, having "as few seams as possible" (Munson n.d.; see also H. Kimball Diary, 21 Dec. 1845; Reid 1973, 169).

My 5th great-grandmother Elizabeth Allred married William Horner, Sr. (1746-1824), ca. 1966,  as listed in "Lineages of the National Society of Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims, Vol III," p, 677. William and Elizabeth were Baptists.