The Least, First

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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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The Mother’s Day Proclamation of Julia Ward Howe

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Mother’s Day began as a dream of Julia Ward Howe.  No fru-fru sentimental holiday was on Howe’s mind, but a challenge to the world to stop war and listen to the hearts of mothers.  Jonathan Klate shares this summary and Howe’s proclamation itself, courtesy of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.


Reaffirming Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Vision

Julia Ward Howe
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Julia Ward Howe offered her Mother’s Day Proclamation to the world in 1870Her dream was the establishment of an international Mothers’ Day Festival dedicated to the cause of nonviolent resolution of conflict and international solidarity among all women.

Her pacifist consciousness had been provoked by the bloodshed of the Franco-Prussian War.  Her activism was cultivated in the struggles for abolition of slavery and the quest for women’s suffrage.  She had the proclamation translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish, working for the establishment of Mother’s Day in concert with women internationally celebrating peace and women’s empowerment.

Howe died in 1910, four years before President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the day in 1914 in response to the burgeoning success of the movement she inspired.  But Wilson avoided any mention of the thrust of Howe’s cause in his declaration, instead emphasizing only the nurturing “home and hearth” dimension of motherhood.  He also spurned the internationalist concern that was central to Howe’s consciousness, distorting this into American nationalism.

Howe’s central concerns, the universality of motherhood and its natural expression in anti-war sentiment, was excised from the official meaning of the day.

President Wilson proclaimed:  “Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Compare this to Howe’s far more high minded vision, still so desperately needed in this suffering divided world. Here is the text of her 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation, so prescient in its understanding, so courageous in its call, so plaintiff in its currency nearly a century and a half later.

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Jonathan Klate who resides in Amherst, Massachusetts where he writes frequently about spirituality, compassionate politics, and the relationship between these two. Please feel welcome to forward.


web: www.spiritualprogressives.org
email: info@spiritualprogressives.org
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Senators Kyl and Lincoln propose cuts in multi-millionaires’ estate taxes

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UPDATE, April 4: “As the New York Times explained, under Obama’s budget, ‘99.8 percent of estates will never — ever — pay a penny of estate tax.'”


Paris Hilton at a press conference for GoYello...

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DEARBORN, MI - MARCH 5:  Wal-Mart employee Had...
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Jesus’ take on things includes the idea that the rich can help themselves and the poor deserve the help of all of us. That view, espoused by many teachers, has become Government Morality 101 for Christian and non-Christian alike through the centuries: hence, most Americans today believe in progressive tax rates.

The rich have their champions, too. Two senators—one a retirement-state Republican and one a Wal-Mart-headquarters-state Democrat—have proposed relieving the nation of $250 billion to help adult kids of the very rich enjoy wealth without work:

clipped from thinkprogress.org
Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have offered a $250 billion proposal to cut estate taxes for the children of multi-millionaires
Kyl and Lincoln’s “most pressing issue is clear: America’s wealthiest families need help. Now.”
“only 0.2 percent of the additional cost of the proposal, relative to [the Obama proposal], would go toward tax cuts for small businesses and farms.”
The rest of the cost, approximately $249.5 billion, would go to the inheritors of estates worth over $7 million. Paris Hilton, get excited.
The Waltons — the Arkansas-based family that founded Wal-Mart — are one of the key groups financing the campaign
“With all the serious work before Congress, it is a colossal waste of time to have to rebut the false claims and warped premises of ardent estate-tax cutters,” the NYT writes. “Ms. Lincoln’s and Mr. Kyl’s colleagues in the Senate should make short work of it and move on to urgent matters.”
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I’m sure this will be pitched as a valiant, virtuous war of liberation against the “death tax,” but we’re talking about $7 million estates and up, here, not Grandpa’s 120 acres. And the years of Bush have given us the greatest disparity between rich and poor since the Great Depression.

Moving government income sourcing away from those who can effortlessly afford it and onto the backs of those who earn less is ethically questionable, especially in times like these. And inviting the very rich to create a generation that need not work while those who work for them can’t afford healthcare (with the Waltons, ironically—heirs of America’s largest low-benefit employer—leading the charge) ought to offend us.

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Iran’s enriched uranium ready for bombs? Not by a long shot.

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Iran does not have the capability of making weapons-grade enriched uranium.

I know, you heard that there was more enriched uranium there than previously thought. But there are, apparently, many grades of enriched uranium, and bomb material is far cry from what Iran has.

Here’s U of Michigan Prof. Juan Cole:

clipped from www.juancole.com

Pie-graphs showing the relative proportions of...

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Iran Nuclear Program Hyped again

Note to mainstream media:

Iran cannot construct nuclear bombs with uranium enriched only to less than 4%.

It needs to be enriched to something like 90% to make a bomb. Iran is not known even to have that capability, and no it cannot be done in 2 months (try a decade), assuming they were trying to do it, which our $40 bn. a year intelligence agencies say they are not.

So all the silly articles on Friday about how iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb are just illiterate.

Moreover, the report in question actually says that Iran is slowing its enrichment activities.

h/t Jay McDonough.

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Reason for panic? Threat to world peace? Justification for a strike from Israel?

Hardly.

Why is it “reasons for war” stories are so rarely true?


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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 »