Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lutheran bishop calls for immigration reform

     CHICAGO (ELCA) - In Nov. 1 letters to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has called for comprehensive immigration reform and support for the DREAM Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), legislation that would provide a path for citizenship for undocumented high school graduates.

In his letter, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson wrote that the absence of reform has left several states to construct their own immigration laws, which are often "shortsighted and misguided."

"The ELCA needs your leadership," wrote Hanson, urging the president to engage Congress and U.S. citizens in the need for comprehensive immigration reform and to explore compassionate policy reforms that advance the common good.

Hanson is a member of the president's advisory council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to support immigration reform and the DREAM Act. The churchwide assembly is the ELCA's highest legislative authority serving on behalf of the ELCA's 4.2 million members.

"The biblical call to hospitality (has) inspired Lutheran congregations across the country to discuss transforming communities into centers of hospitality through relationship building and advocacy," Hanson told the president. Hanson also added that ELCA congregations are working to lift up the experiences of undocumented youth and encourage broader public support for the legislation.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the nation's leading agencies in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants and based in Baltimore, works on behalf of the ELCA, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In addition, congregations of the ELCA and Lutheran social ministries provide critical services to migrant populations, spread the word of welcome and advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.

"As a national church body, the ELCA -- our congregations, bishops, schools and millions of individual members -- continue to preach, teach, advocate and work with and on behalf of (everyone)," Hanson wrote. "This nation has achieved such greatness due to the resilience, labor and intellect of immigrants. We will roll up our sleeves and work tirelessly until this nation is once again a place of welcome and justice for  newcomers."

The full text of Hanson's letter is available at

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Monday, November 28, 2011

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Call to Action against Gender Violence

WACC (the World Association of Christian Communication) is calling on its networks and friends to participate in the takebackthetech campaign to end online violence against women and girls. The campaign is organised by APC Women (Association of Progressive Communications), a global network that supports women networking for social change and women's empowerment through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The focus of the campaign during the 16 Days this year is to map and build evidence of technology-related violence against girls and women.

See full letter below:
Warm greetings from Toronto!
The 16 days of activism against gender violence run from today November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and end on December 10, International Human Rights Day. These dates symbolically link violence against women and human rights, and emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation. 

WACC is asking its networks and friends to participate in takebackthetech campaign to end online violence against women and girls. The campaign is organised by APC Women, a global network that supports women networking for social change and women's empowerment through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The focus of the campaign during the 16 Days this year is to map and build evidence of technology-related violence against girls and women. 

Please go to to map your stories of technology-related violence against women and girls. Document stories that have appeared in your local news about: [...]
 + Online harassment and cyberstalking (28 November)
 + Intimate partner violence (1 December)
 + Sexual assault and rape (4 December)
 + Violence targeting communities because of their gender or sexual identity and politics (7 December) 
These are stories related to violence against girls and women through the internet, mobile phones or other technologies. Mapping and building evidence supports advocacy and action to end such violence. 

Join with others to document cases that have appeared in the news in your country.
The online mapping platform (was) launched on 25 November on the takebackthetech site, with detailed instructions on how to take action and document your stories.

To learn more about the campaign, watch the video at takebackthetech.
Read about the campaign and other ways to participate.
For more information, please contact Terry Mutuku at
or APC women at

Karin Achtelstetter
General Secretary

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To see my other work or to receive regular bulletins concerning justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, sign up at my other blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Five fabulous years at Casa Sirena

My pal, innkeeper Steve Broin, reports on five fabulous years at Casa Sirena, Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  Check out the latest news!

I keep dreaming of reunions with best friends at the beautiful boutique hotel, but it's still in the dreaming stage.  Here's the home page for the Casa Sirena.

         Micky McGrath illustration: "The world will be saved by beauty!"

To see my other work or to receive regular bulletins concerning justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, sign up at my other blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greetings from Quinhagak, Alaska

This uplifting, joyful , adorable video from the small Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska , was a school computer project intended for the other Yupiq villages in the area. Much to the villagers' shock, over a half million people have viewed it.

Click this link for a wintery musical celeberatiion provided by some amazing fifth graders. 

To see my other work or to receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften concerning justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, sign up at my other blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The World Council of Churches (WCC) supports Egyptian Christians


WCC continues to support Egyptian churches in their quest for peace

For immediate release: 18 October 2011

The World Council of Churches (WCC) supports Egyptian Christians in their quest for justice, rejection of violence and initiatives for dialogue in the wake of 9 October clashes between peaceful protestors and the army in Cairo which resulted in 25 people dead, mostly Coptic Christians, while the country was preparing to return to democracy.

Egypt’s Christians make up about 10 percent of the population and mainly consist of Coptic Orthodox as well as Coptic Presbyterian, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic churches.

Christians in Egypt have remained vulnerable to the threat of religious extremism for some time, and their concerns have emerged crucially during the recent changing political landscape of Egypt.
They are now asserting themselves in condemning violence as witnessed on 9 October, and in the burning of churches like the Church of Al-Marinab and Edfu-Aswan this year.
A recent statement issued by the Protestant Church in Egypt says, “Churches reject acts of violence in Egypt during this time of socio-political transitions. We therefore appeal to all those within the nation to stand together side-by-side in order to confront these incidents. We call on all Egyptians to reject the use of violence and, in doing so, work together to create a unified legislation to allow for building places of worship for all.”
“Thus,” the statement continued, “as Egyptians – both Muslim and Christians alike – we must call for the immediate investigation of the events of 9 October, with emphasis on bringing accountability to the doors of those responsible for the violence which, tragically, left many dead.”
Similarly the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Service joined hands with civil society actors including writers, academics, religious leaders, youth and media professionals to condemn the violence. A joint statement at the end of a symposium on “Together against sectarian tension” stated:
“We appeal to all Egyptians to call for an end to violence. We must act now, collectively, to save the future of our great nation from the alternative – a divided and violent future which reminds us little of the Egypt we know and love.”
The WCC praises the efforts of the churches in raising their voices for peace and dialogue. Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, says, “We as churches condemn the violence perpetrated against the Coptic Christians during the unfortunate incidents of 9 October. We hold the victims in our prayers. It is through the resilience of Egyptians, both Christians and Muslims, that the sectarian strife can be defeated. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian churches in these difficult times.”
The WCC through its programme Public witness: addressing power, affirming peace has been engaged with the churches in Middle East in collective efforts by ecumenical partners to achieve peace and justice at local, national, regional and international levels.
Read also:

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What is that?

Friends, Here's a link to a beautiful short film from Greece:
Don't wait until next Father's Day next year to share with it with those you love.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Psalm 97:7-8 in a whole new way

A friend I don't really know shared this, said it only took two years.

Rob writes, "Come have a listen.  The Andromeda Choir (computer synthesized voices) ... (Official ad on

"SATB and Piano Nature praises God (Psalm 98 7-8) BTS and A all sing a verse. Mountains, rivers and oceans, birds and flowers and finally trees join in praise to their Creator.

"The verses are then sung (acapella) simultaneously in harmony. A final verse is sung in harmony, with everyone singing the same words. A bright, cheerful and lively song!

"Check Out the MP3 with computer synthesized voices singing the choral parts. (The `Andromeda' Chorus) Sounds "outer spacey" but the pitches are deadly accurate and it gives a good idea of what the song sounds like.

"Hear and see it (and buy it) at  [the URL Rob provided didn't work for me, so good luck]

"Hear it at soundclick:
[And that one does work].  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Faith was on the Governor's Shoulder

March 25, 2011 from the New York Times

Faith Was on the Governor’s Shoulder


Early on the morning of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent’s season of penitence, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois went through some final, solitary rumination. For much of his political career, he had supported capital punishment, albeit with reservations, even debating it at the dinner table with his mother. Now a legislative bill abolishing it was waiting for his signature, or his veto.

In the preceding weeks, he had heard arguments on the subject from prosecutors who spoke of the death penalty’s deterrent effect and from the grieving relatives of murder victims who saw in it fierce justice. He had reacquainted himself with about 20 capital cases overturned by DNA evidence or tainted by judicial error.

But on that decisive morning of March 9, he laid aside the secular factors and opened his Bible to a passage in II Corinthians about human imperfection. He prayed. And when he signed the bill striking down the death penalty, he cited one influence by name: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.

The cardinal has been dead for nearly 15 years. To the last days of his life, he advocated what he termed a “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life,” which charged Roman Catholics with the task of ending abortion, poverty, nuclear war, euthanasia and capital punishment. For of all his eloquence, however, he had never built the constituency to transform theological precepts into public policy.

With the stroke of the governor’s pen, the cardinal has been posthumously vindicated on at least one piece of that seamless garment. In doing so, Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, also ratified the cardinal’s belief that religious thought has a place in the formulation of law, a premise the governor’s fellow liberals generally resist.

“I think it’s indispensable,” Mr. Quinn said in a telephone interview this week. “When you’re elected and sworn into office, that oath really involves your whole life experience, your religious experience. You bring that to bear on all the issues.”

During his years in Chicago, Cardinal Bernardin had advocated a similar balance. “There is a legitimate secularity of the political process,” as he put it in a 1991 speech, “just as there is a legitimate role for religious and moral discourse in our nation’s life.”

Well before Cardinal Bernardin was named Chicago’s archbishop in 1982, Mr. Quinn was receiving a complete Catholic education — from the sisters of St. Isaac Jogues Elementary School, the Dominicans of Fenwick High School and the Jesuits of Georgetown University. His brother, John, teaches history at Fenwick.

Mr. Quinn was the state treasurer when he met Cardinal Bernardin. They allied in an effort, ultimately futile, to roll back the high fees that currency exchanges charge to cash checks, mostly those of people too poor to have a bank account. From that battle, the governor recalled, he recognized the cardinal as a “man of conscience.”

Cardinal Bernardin put that conscience onto the national stage in a 1983 speech at Fordham University, in which he first articulated a “consistent ethic of life.” Over the succeeding years, he sometimes devoted entire speeches to specific elements of this “seamless garment” concept, which included the death penalty.

He gave perhaps his boldest and most eloquent speech in 1985 before a committee of lawyers at Cook County Criminal Court, the assembly line that processes the metropolis’s mayhem. A recent Gallup poll, the cardinal noted, had found that nearly three-quarters of Americans supported capital punishment. Chicago’s passions for retribution had been recently inflamed by the murders of a 10-year-old boy and a high school basketball star.

“It is when we stand in this perspective of a ‘higher court’ — that of God’s judgment seat— and a more noble view of the human person that we seriously question the appropriateness of capital punishment,” Cardinal Bernardin said. “We ask ourselves: Is the human family made more complete — is human personhood made more loving — in a society which demands life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth?”

Just months before his death at 68 from pancreatic cancer in 1996, Cardinal Bernardin made an unannounced pastoral visit to a convicted murderer awaiting execution at Stateville prison in Joliet, Ill. “In a sense, he and I are in the same boat,” Cardinal Bernardin said after the meeting. “He knows that he is going to die tonight, and I know that I am going to die in the near future.”

Still, the cardinal also hinted at a sense of frustration at his unfinished business. He beheld nuclear arsenals still bristling, poverty unrelieved, abortion legal and the death penalty the law of most of the land. As he was writing his final book in the last weeks of his life, his assistant and publisher recently recalled, he asked plaintively, “Do you think this is worth doing?”

That book, “The Gift of Peace,” went on to become a surprise best seller, translated into 14 languages. One of its most avid readers was Pat Quinn. He has returned to the book almost annually for guidance and inspiration. In struggling with the death penalty issue, John Quinn said, his brother was especially moved by the chapters about the sexual abuse accusations once levied against the cardinal.

“What really struck him was Cardinal Bernardin being falsely accused,” John Quinn said. “Some of those people on death row were also falsely accused.” Since the governor ended the death penalty, public response has been overwhelmingly favorable, according to his press office. Those clerics who worked most closely with the cardinal have expressed a sense of satisfaction, or perhaps something beyond it, at his belated victory on the issue.

“The bedrock of Catholic social teaching is that each life is a gift, created in the image and likeness of God,” said the Rev. Alphonse P. Spilly, who was the cardinal’s assistant for a dozen years. “It wasn’t just a theological principle for him. It was the way he dealt with every person, even the person who parked his car.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gentle Justice

"You who made the heaven's spendor, every dancing star of night, make us shine with gentle justice, let us each reflect your light."

Holden Evening Prayer
Mary Haugen, 1986