Friday, March 27, 2009

Quaker Meeting

I love the gathered silence,
As together we wait,
Settled and centered,
Free to speak--or not,
As the Spirit leads.

Friday, March 20, 2009

American shot in head, critically wounded by Israeli soldiers

It seems strange to me that this story isn't getting much media attention in the U.S.:

U.S. citizens critically hurt at West Bank protest
By The Associated Press and Haaretz Service

Palestinian sources said that an American citizen, in his thirties, had sustained critical wounds during an anti-separation fence protest in the West Bank on Friday, Army Radio reported.

Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement said Tristan Anderson, of the Oakland, Calif. area, was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops. The military and the Tel Aviv hospital where Anderson was taken had no details on how he was hurt.

Protesters who were at the scene said that Anderson was standing by the side of the road when soldiers fired at him, and not near the hub of the clash. They added that there was no one in his vicinity that could have been perceived as a threat to the soldiers.

"He's in critical condition, anesthetized and on a ventilator and undergoing imaging tests," said Orly Levi, a spokeswoman at the Tel Hashomer hospital. She described Anderson's condition as life-threatening.

The protest took place in the West Bank town of Na'alin, where Palestinians and international backers frequently gather to demonstrate against the barrier. Israel says the barrier is necessary to keep Palestinian attackers from infiltrating into Israel. But Palestinians view it as a thinly veiled land grab because it juts into the West Bank at multiple points.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson's office said the area where the protests take place is a closed military zone off-limits to demonstrations. It added that demonstrators hurled rocks at troops, who used riot gear to quell the unrest.

The IDF said further that the "protesters violated an injunction issued by a major general and were endangering security forces."

Ulrika Jenson, an International Solidarity Movement activist, said troops fired tear gas canisters into the crowd from a hill above.

"Tristan was hit and fell to the ground," Jenson was quoted as saying in an ISM statement. "He had a large hole in the front of his head, and his brain was visible."

A Palestinian protester was also wounded in the leg as a result of live IDF fire.

Meanwhile Friday, protesters gathered at another West Bank village to similarly protest Israel's separation fence. At this protest, held every Friday in Bil'in, some 100 demonstrators clashed with security personnel. Palestinian witnesses reported that five people had sustained injuries as security forces fired rubber-coated bullets at the crowd.

In related news, it has been announced that the Israeli military is going to launch a probe into allegations (from multiple sources, including Israeli military personnel) that during the recent military action in Gaza, Palestinian civilians were intentionally killed, terrorized and had their homes & property destroyed by the Israeli Defense Force.

If all of this weren't disturbing enough, there are large numbers of American Evangelical Christians who seem to unquestioningly support Israel without expectation of Israel behaving in an even remotely Christ-like manner towards its neighbors, such as Palestinian civilians or American protesters.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Frank Viola book

I have read quite a few of Frank Viola's books. Some (Rethinking the Wineskin, Pagan Christianity, Who's Your Covering, The Untold Story of the New Testament Church) have had a profound impact on me. Others (So You Want Start a House Church?, Revolution), not so much. I like what Frank has to say, but don't always like the way he says it. He has a tendancy towards hyperbole. But he also says things that need to be said. It used to be that you could only get Frank's books by ordering them directly from his website, but in the last couple of years his appeal has widened, along with his distribution. This is a good thing because, hyperbolic or not, Frank has an important message.

Frank's latest book is entitled From Eternity to Here. I have a copy, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. It has received endorsements from other Christian thinkers who I really like, such as Greg Boyd, Shane Claiborne and Leonard Sweet.

I've heard that From Eternity to Here is a bit of a departure for Viola. He comes right out and says it is the most important book he has written. When I get a chance to read it, I'll post whether or not I agree. If you've read it, tell me what you think.

If you would like to read it, you can order it at a discount throughout the month of March from

Saturday, March 14, 2009

At the Still Point

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity.
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards.
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point.
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

- from Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Quaker Wisdom

Whenever we are driven into the depths of our own being, or seek them of our own will, we are faced by a tremendous contrast. On the one side we recognize the pathetic littleness of ephemeral existence, with no point or meaning in itself. On the other side, in the depth, there is something eternal and infinite in which our existence, and indeed all existence, is grounded. This experience of the depths of existence fills us with a sense both of reverence and of responsibility, which gives even to our finite lives a meaning and a power which they do not possess in themselves. This, I am assured, is our human experience of God.
- John MacMurray