Happy Weekend, Friends! It has been an exciting week at the Raven Foundation! This week, we have new articles in each of our four categories. If you missed any of them, now may be your chance to catch up! We’d also like to show the top articles from other sites that caught our attention this week.
From The Flock:
Adam Ericksen started the week off with an article in the category of Politics and Pop Culture about Ted Cruz’s announcement of his presidential candidacy at Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world. He warns that invoking God in politics often leads to using God for satanic purposes – uniting “us” against “them.” We are all susceptible to uniting against an “other,” whether we agree with Ted Cruz or want to use him as our own scapegoat! Fortunately, as Adam says, “God has nothing to do with that kind of formation because God is not over-and-against anything at all. Rather, God is for us, all of us, finding new ways to develop social cohesion through the spirit of love, forgiveness, and self-criticism.” Read more about Ted Cruz and God’s Political Subversion.
Also in Politics and Pop Culture, Tracy McKenzie continues his “Teaching The American Revolution” series with an amazing article entitled “Slavery and Freedom,” exploring slavery and indentured servitude as one of the contextual elements that helps us understand the Revolutionary War. At the end of the article, he gives the stunning statistic that, between the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 and the first shots of the war in 1775, “only 3 in 10 immigrants to the United States arrived as free individuals.” How might this information help us understand the context of our revolution, and how might it shine light on racial disparity and economic slavery today?
In Peace and Violence, Robert Koehler laments the greed that enables the 80 wealthiest people in the world to hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion. He longs for a more spiritual economy whereby our planet and the people living herein are valued above profit in Wealth Vs. Money.
In Relationships, Suzanne Ross shares a poignant story from her life in which she learned how to stop blaming herself for hardship and tragedy beyond her control and relates it to survivors of sexual violence in her article: Rape Culture on College Campuses: Advice for Victims. With sensitivity and compassion, she advocates the victim’s right to believe in her (or his) own innocence and the validity of his (or her) own experience, but warns against scapegoating others, as all people, even victims of terrible crimes, can be prone to do.
Also in Relationships, guest author Matthew Distefano shares his mimetic analysis of a classic story he enjoyed with his family, Disney’s live-action Cinderella. With all of Ella’s beauty, it is her kindness and her ability to forgive that allow her to live Happily Ever After.
Finally, in Religion, Lindsey Paris-Lopez continues her Repent for Lent series with an article to help lead into Holy Week on Jesus and Swords. Jesus may have told his disciples to buy a sword in Luke 22:36, but he also disarmed them later in the same chapter. Mimetic Theory has helped Lindsey to understand that when Jesus spoke of swords, the point he was making was “The sword you unsheathe is the sword that will fall against you.” What do you think?
From Our Friends:
Peace and Violence:
30 international peacemakers planned to join a group of women from North and South Korea this past Tuesday, March 24th (Disarmament Day), in crossing the 2-mile demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates their countries in a symbolic and profoundly inspirational act of peace. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the partition of Korea into 2 separate states, and still today, thousands of Koreans die waiting on government lists to be reunited with their families after being separated. (Note: I have not seen any news about this event since it may have taken place, but I will keep looking. In the meantime, this article, foreshadowing this now past event, further explains the significance of this incredible march: The Women Are Coming, And They Mean Peace.)
This past weekend, there was also a “Spring Rising” conference in Washington, DC, with the goal of resisting the endless wars the United States has been waging since 9/11/2001. With several anti-war organizations involved, this is their FB page. This video from Raed Jarrar, who spoke at the event, gives an amazing overview of the conditions of Iraq that led to the creation of ISIS. With the United States bombing Iraq consistently since 1991, a violent nation is almost inevitable. “The premise that we can eliminate extremism through more violence shouldn’t have passed the laugh test,” Jarrar says. Indeed.
Politics and Pop Culture:
Two articles in politics refer to anti-gay legislative measures that are disheartening, to say the least. The first refers to a law passed in the state of Indiana that allows businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples if they believe that serving them would violate their religious beliefs. The second refers to a bill that might go onto the ballot in California, which would go so far as to legalize execution of homosexuals. Apparently, this bill can go onto the ballot if it has enough signatures, which it is unlikely to receive. The challenge for pacifists who believe in marriage equality and want to stand up for inclusion is to struggle for the rights of all people while offering forgiveness and mercy for those who would design and sign such bills into law. I, personally, feel righteous anger against these laws, but violent anger never changed a heart or mind.
Fortunately, there is also good news for same-sex couples, not only in a country that is becoming increasingly open to gay marriage despite the backlash as shown above, but also in the church. Specifically, the Presbyterian Church USA, or at least the majority of the 171 presbyteries, recently voted to amend the Book of Order to make room for same-sex couples within the definition of marriage. This heartwarming letter by Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald, President of San Francisco Theological Seminary, is indeed good news for all people who want to celebrate authentic love as a reflection of God’s love and inclusion of all people.
When you read this incredible 2-part article series by Jonathan Martin, you will understand why he says “Don’t Stand Up For Jesus.” A Girardian perspective is offered showing us that accusation, side-taking, and violence in the name of Jesus is misplaced at best. We need not stand up for Jesus, but rather with Jesus, for the sake of everyone. (I was especially impressed with the excerpt from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and now I look forward to re-reading it from a Girardian perspective!)
On the Eve of Holy Week, Rob Grayson analyzes Michael Hardin’s 5-part series on the Eucharist on his blog “Faith Meets World” with an article called “A Revolutionary Meal.” See how one of the church’s most important liturgical practices was transformed from a routine ritual into a life-giving embodiment of Christ’s unconditional love and forgiveness for our ongoing complicity in scapegoating, violence and murder.
And finally, you wouldn’t expect to see a Muslim portraying Jesus, especially not in an adaptation of a book authored by conservative icon Bill O’Reily. But Haaz Sleiman, star of “Killing Jesus,” gives an incredibly moving account of what it meant to him to portray Jesus in this made-for-TV movie. Given Jesus’ radical inclusion of everyone, there is something profoundly fitting about a Muslim portraying the Prince of Peace. “By being able to say, “Love your enemy,” he saw beyond the lies and the noise,” Sleiman says. “He saw beyond fear and judgment. He had to walk the talk.” The show airs on the National Geographic Channel tomorrow night (Palm Sunday).
Because we all need to have fun. Enjoy this photo from Kissing Fish, and show your kids (especially if they love dinosaurs).
All of us at Raven wish you a blessed Holy Week.