The Least, First

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Let’s chill. We’re both partly wrong. (Sermon of 1 Feb 09)

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In the aftermath of  World War II, many European intellectuals (later joined by Americans and many others) were forced to ask this question:  how could this have happened? This referred to two world wars, and especially the Holocaust. […] They diagnosed the sickness that had befallen Western civilization in general and “Christian” Germany in particular to be excessive confidence.

Brian McLaren in Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope

Mark 1:21-28 (NIV*)

Arguing over a sales commission (Chicago Theater Blog)

Arguing over a sales commission (Chicago Theater Blog)

21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

Strange thing to say, isn’t it?  Rabbis certainly did have authority to teach the Scriptures. But when Jesus spoke, something else happened.

And as if to prove it:

23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24″What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Remember, we’re in Chapter 1 here.  Who else in the room would have even thought this? Virtually no one but Jesus himself. How shocked they must have been to hear it. What a statement!

And what a source! Jesus reacts immediately. First:

25″Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly.

Why would he shush, if it’s true? Why would an evil spirit say it, anyway? Read the rest of this entry »

Despite Many Challenges World Faces Brighter Future

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There’s remarkable achievement happening against the world’s ailments! Click the link for the full story from Yahoo Singapore.

clipped from sg.news.yahoo.com

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – – Despite daunting challenges posed by global warming, water, energy, unemployment and terrorism, the world faces a brighter future with fewer wars, higher life expectancy and improved literacy, according to a report released Monday.

“Although great human tragedies like Iraq and Darfur dominate the news, the vast majority of the world is living in peace, conflicts actually decreased over the past decade,” says the 2007 State of the Future report.
“At this rate world poverty will be cut by more than half between 2000 and 2015, meeting the UN Millenium Development Goal for poverty reduction except in sub-Saharan Africa”, it added.
On the negative side, it pointed to hikes in CO2 emissions, terrorism, corruption, global warming and unemployment and a decrease in percentage of voting populations.
The income of the richest 225 people in the world equals that of the poorest 2.7 billion or 40 percent of the global population, the report said.

  blog it

And by the way, you’re welcome to enjoy my other newsclips at Clipmarks.com. I got this one courtesy of Debbyski, a clipper who digs up something intriguing every day. Clipmarks offers just the high points (<1000 characters) from stories around the world. Find clippers whose interests match your own, and you’ll learn a lot in a hurry! Start your own Clipmarks file, and you’ll have a place to save and sort all you find on the web.


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Written by Monte

September 12, 2007 at 10:32 am

500 years of female portraits in Western art

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OK, no point to make here – I found this two-minute video over at Neo-resistance and was amazed. Thanks, Naj! An added benefit, to this old bass player: I suspect that is Yo-Yo Ma playing a Bach Cello Suite in the background.

Hope you enjoy it!


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Written by Monte

June 19, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Art, Beauty, Women

A brief history of Iran-US relations, part 3: Understanding US withdrawal from Iraq

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Cole Juan with captionOn February 27, my wife Lori and I were privileged to hear Juan Cole, the University of Michigan’s distinguished expert on Middle Eastern affairs, at a luncheon of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. It occurred to me that notes from Prof. Cole’s brief lecture, with a few supporting resources, could provide a valuable structure for understanding the back-stories that make today’s crises add up.

Part 1 of this thread sketched Prof. Cole’s list of the foundational events of Iran-US relations during the 20th century. Part 2 outlined the rise of Ahmedinejad, Iranian weapons in Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This Part 3 is his response to audience questions.

By all means, check out his Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion for reflection on news events as they happen.

* * *

ENORMOUS CHANGES IN THE OIL INDUSTRY: OPEC, which began in an era of oil-engendered prosperity, now faces the eventual end of its oil supplies. “We are now playing a game of musical chairs. The Washington power elite looked at the Gulf and said, ‘We could be the ones without a chair at the end.’ One thing you can do – take out a pistol… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 23, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism

Wanted: A prophetic voice in the healthcare debate

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Time for the religious and humanist communities to insist that reform itself is not enough: Time for the plan that gives “‘care’ the priority over ‘profits'” and over “‘what will fly in D.C.'” (“simply code words for ‘what those congressional reps who are dependent on the contributions of the health care industry are willing to allow to get through their committees.’”)
clipped from www.tikkun.org

Engraving of the Prophet Amos by Gustave Doré ...

[T]he Religious Community has a responsibility to be a Prophetic Voice, and to insist on the approach that is most consistent with actually giving “care” the priority over “profits” for the health care profiteers, and saying that that must be the principle guiding the health care debate.

That would mean endorsing Congressman John Conyers’ HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, insisting that the media give attention to the ways that that kind of “single-payer” plan would be both more cost efficient and provide better care, and insisting that the discussion be shifted to the issue of care rather than “what will fly in D.C.,” which is simply code words for “what those congressional reps who are dependent on the contributions of the health care industry are willing to allow to get through their committees.”

Obama has cut the ground from under the progressive perspective by convincing them all to be “realistic” […]
he faces no counter-pressure … apart from the pressures to his right […]
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Many other good points are made in Rabbi Lerner’s post. I recommend it.

I want love to win the day.  I want care for the least to matter more than riches for the CEO.  And I see no ethical reason to compromise with those who protect millionaires.

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