Sunday, November 30, 2008

UU's Peace Making Draft and Annan and Carter's call for Zimbabwe intervention

I suggested to my Social Justice Committee that we test our draft of a Peace Making resolution against some real life situations.

I suggested Zimbabwe. I thought our draft (as was the later UU draft) far too broad to be meaningful.

We could only understand what we believed by thinking out: what we were prepared to do, what we would support, what we would ask others to do.

Consensus save me was that exercise too tough.

Here's Annan and Carter's call,
Southern African nations must intervene more decisively to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other prominent world figures say.

Describing Zimbabwe as close to a humanitarian disaster, Annan urged the Southern African Development Community's leaders to pressure President Robert Mugabe and the opposition MDC to break a deadlock blocking the formation of a unity government.

"SADC must bring its full weight to bear," Annan, flanked by former US President Jimmy Carter and human rights campaigner Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela, told reporters.

"I think it is clear that SADC should have done more."
The head of my SJ committee tells me the Peace Making Resolution will become the basis for the head of the UUA to speak out on my behalf on issues of Peace. So how does this draft tell UUs to respond to Zimbabwe?

I only find one reference to Zimbabwe on Rev Sinkford's A Unitarian Universalist Pilgrimage: Rev. William Sinkford's Journey through Africa blog.

If the Peace Making Resolution doesn't tell us how to respond, by what authority does it tell us to remain silent?

Sakharov Prize 2008 awarded to Hu Jia

From the EP's Press Release,
The European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded this year to Chinese political activist Hu Jia, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering announced in Strasbourg today. The prize ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on 17 December.

Hu Jia is a prominent human rights activist and dissident in the People's Republic of China. He has embraced a wide range of causes, including environmental issues, HIV/AIDS advocacy and a call for an official enquiry into the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. He has also acted as a coordinator of the "barefoot lawyers movement".

Mr Pöttering said: "By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia, the European Parliament firmly and resolutely acknowledges the daily struggle for freedom of all Chinese human rights defenders."
Also the LA Times story

Eric Cohen: In the Shadow of Progress Being Human in the Age of Technology

Going through notes I've filed away over the weeks. Here's a blurb on a book I plan to read.
Why are the wealthiest people in human history the least likely to want children? What kind of civilization will we become if we seek cures for the sick by destroying human embryos, or if we pick and choose our offspring by genetic profiling? What is lost when we relieve human sadness by altering the chemical balance of the brain, or enhance human performance by altering the biological workings of the body? In this age of scientific wonders, have we forgotten what makes human beings different from everything else in the natural world? Our great challenge, Cohen argues, is to live simultaneously with gratitude and fear, pride and shame, sobriety and hope, in this new age of technology.
Our great challange... I'm not certain many UUs writers are rising to it, and substitute politics for it instead.

Ayatollah Boroujerdi's letter to public opinions, before his exile

The final paragraphs from Ayatollah Boroujerdi's letter before his exile,
I am a peace preacher and offered my youth age to God because of peace. As a liberal who has paid heavy penalty and devoted his family and life for a long years because of reverence for freedom, I 'm asking for democracy in all over the world. In my opinion there is no difference among different holy and divine religions; every religion which takes us to God brings happiness. I believe massacre weapons are contradictory with human interests and nuclear bombs are the factor of human annihilation and also I believe competition for producing, increasing and selling the weapon is opposition to environmental cleanness and health and I condemn every things disturb human relief .The culture must be established as there is no need to prison. The governments must not establish the law which gives people trouble. Taxes, tolls and penalties must be moderated and people ability to pay must be considered .I respect all Human Rights servers, from Iran and I embrace peace propagandists warmly. How can the state of oppressed and miserable human be ignored while there are councils and institutes which protect animals' life and consider and control the way of human treat to them?

I had been invited and recommend to going out of my country many years ago, but I didn't accept to leave people and I accepted all risks and dangers with all my heart and soul just because of sympathizing with my countrymen and their need to defense of their legal and rational rights and now I am in the worst security, family and psychological situation and International societies are informed on my state. Notwithstanding these hardships, I tolerate prison, exile, torture and pressure to prove my aims in defense and support of human rights and greatness and importance of peacefulness. I call God and history to witness that I have abstained from oppressing since the beginning of my life, I have loved to help poor and deprived people and I never abuse my popularity and important and high social positions. When armed governmental forces raided my house, I invited everyone to capitulate and refused to confront with invasion caused to bloodshed. Now I call my self a peace devotee, freedom preacher and a Human Rights defender and ask decision centers on this matter to help me to further my sacred aims and give me immunity is proportionate to this responsibility.

Thank you

Seyyed Hosein Kazemeini Boroujerdi , Tehran

Debby Applegate's Review of American Transcendentalism: A History

A review I'm filing away on some books I'll add to Shelfari. Applegate (who I enjoy...check her book on Beecher),
Almost anyone who muddled their way through high school has heard of the Transcendentalists. Plenty of people could even name some of them: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau or even, perhaps, Walt Whitman. Some of us might even own a dog-eared paperback of “Walden.” But only a few of us could tell you what Transcendentalism actually means.

We shouldn’t feel too bad about this, it turns out, for even in its heyday, from the 1830s through the 1850s, the average American was equally befuddled by the term. “When a speaker talked so that his audience didn’t understand him, and when he said what he didn’t understand himself – that was transcendentalism,” as one newspaper reporter joked in 1853.

Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth on Bush, Darfur, and the International Criminal Court

HRW's Ken Roth on Bush and Darfur: Bush Does the Right Thing for Darfur
Human Rights Watch rarely lauds the Bush administration. But when it comes to supporting international efforts to prosecute Sudanese leaders for their slaughter in Darfur, the administration so far has it right.
And the conclusion,
The Bush administration's support for accountability is a logical consequence of its longstanding commitment to end atrocities in Darfur. It also reflects a broader reassessment of the ICC.

Contrary to early fears, the ICC has acted with restraint and professionalism. Its prosecutions, whether of the warlords of eastern Congo, the child-soldier recruiters of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army or the killers of Khartoum, all accord with U.S. interests, as well as basic decency. President-elect Barack Obama should continue that approach, and embrace the ICC as an important tool to combat mass atrocities.
Let's see if Obama is up for the challenge.

xp Bill Baar's West Side

Amir Taheri on the UN's interfaith conference

Just posting links from the week that interested me. Here is Taheri on the interfaith conference in NYC. I don't think any UU bloggers picked up on it and that's a bit of a surprize.
The conference revealed a healthy readiness on the part of the Muslim world to welcome constructive criticism. In exchange, the Western nations manifested a greater degree of understanding for the desire of many Muslims, perhaps even a majority, to protect and defend differences they regard as vital for the survival of their faith.

The conferees in New York manifested an unprecedented readiness for a serious dialogue.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Andrew Pingree: Universalist Minister Pingree Grove Illinois

This Thanksgiving we'll give thanks to Google Books. Andrew Pingree with a Hat Tip to Pat Murffin and I'll link his blog later.... but it's amazing what research one can do now-a-days.

The Past and Present of Kane County, Illinois Containing a History of the County ... :


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Humanist's Godless Campaign

From the AHA's site,
"Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," proclaims a new holiday ad from the American Humanist Association. Already appearing today in the New York Times and Washington Post, the message will soon be blazoned on the sides, taillights, and interiors of over 200 Washington DC Metro buses.

It's the first ad campaign of its kind in the United States, and the American Humanist Association predicts it will raise public awareness of humanism as well as controversy over humanist ideas.

"Humanists have always understood that you don't need a god to be good," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "So that's the point we're making with this advertising campaign. Morality doesn't come from religion. It's a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience."
UU's short O'Riley. I'm not a regular watcher of his show but stumbled across his interview with someone from AHA on this effort. And found myself agreeing with O'Riley that --save the gratuitous shot against God (why bother with that?)-- I'm in perfect agreement that morality flows from our empathy, fairness, and experience.

Update: Boy in the Band's seen one of the AHA's ads and posts on it.

The Orthodox Church today

Question 8 from the survey of American Orthodox Church goers. Wonder how many UU's would encourage their kids to be UU Ministers?

8) Being a professional clergyman in 21st century America is, probably, not seen as a “dream choice” of occupation by most people. Yet, the study found that more than three quarters of the respondents “would encourage their sons to become priests.”

Combined, the GOA and the OCA account for more than half of all Orthodox Christians and parishes in the USA. Therefore, to a significant degree the study reflects the “profile” of the American Orthodox community at large. Respondents from more than 100 randomly selected Orthodox parishes situated in the various parts of the country participated in the survey. The questionnaire focused on personal social and religious attitudes of Orthodox parishioners and on the patterns of the everyday church life in their local parishes. Special attention was paid to the “image” of the Orthodox clergy through the eyes of the “people in the pews” and to the issues dealing with “Democracy and Pluralism in the Church,” “Changes and Innovations in the Church,” and “Religious ‘Particularism’ and Ecumenism.” Numerous comparisons with the US Roman Catholics and Protestants make study results especially interesting for the wider audience.

Just Peace

I've been working on a draft resolution in my Church's Social Justice Committee. David Pyle makes many of my points in this post.

Few UU bloggers have been writing on Peace Making. That's bad because despite the big 3 bail out and the financial crash, the crisis to come will be ones of war and peace. What UU's are coming up with so far seem like doctrines poorly equipped to guide anyone for what's to come.

We'll be caught short.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Unitarian Women Petition Congress to ban Utah Representative Roberts

NYT on New York Unitarian Women meeting to petition the US Congress to bar Representative Roberts of Utah from his seat in the House for violation of the Edmund's act banning plural marriages.

Back in the days before we preached our marriage equality frame and had no hesitations about the Government licensing just who, and who couldn't, marry.

I bet today's Mormons have some pretty long memories. Longer than most UUs.

Wonder what was in the mind of that one dissenting voice?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Health Care blog

With Health Care reform the coming topic, I figure it's time to start up the Health Care blog again.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"Bush Dog" Rahm on War in Iraq

I try and keep the partisan politics off this blog (and put it here) but thought UU's should get a little insight on Obama's first appointment.

I've agreed with Rahm on policy but his hypocrisy (and Illinois corruption) won't let me ever vote Democrat again. Democrats have done America great damage talking out of both sides of their mouths like this. Read it about the guy Liberals, Progressives, and UUs in the West Burbs were calling a "Bush Dog".

And this from on of those hero's of progressives from the CD next to me,
According to Spidel, Emanuel worked against Cegelis because of her support for withdrawal from Iraq and her outspoken opposition to "free trade" legislation like the Central American Free Trade Agreement. "In 2006 the DCCC was Emanuel's personal weapon. He executed based on his needs. He needed votes on 'free trade' legislation that he supports, and he knew that [Cegelis] was one of the Democrats who would vote her own way," Spidel said.

Spidel said that Emanuel worked to defeat Cegelis because she represented a threat to the established Illinois Democrats and because she did not seek their approval before running. "Chicago politics is a family. If you didn't go into the city and kiss certain rings, you were not given certain resources like Political Action Committee lists and donor lists. Cegelis' success hurt some egos and the party didn't like their lack of control," Spidel said.
Going to be quite a four years.