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Religion & Spirituality

Revolutionary Plots

Urban agriculture is producing a lot more than food

Rebecca Solnit, Orion magazine

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The anti-war poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon reports that toward the end of World War I, Winston Churchill told him that war is the normal occupation of man. Challenged, Churchill amended this to “war—and gardening.” Are the two opposites? Some agriculture is a form of war, whether it’s clearcutting rainforest, stealing land from the poor, contaminating the vicinity, or exploiting farmworkers, and some of our modern pesticides are descended from chemical warfare breakthroughs for the First World War. But gardening represents a much wider spectrum of human activity than war, and if war is an act of the state, gardening is far, far more ancient than city-states (if not nearly so old as squabbling).

Can it be the antithesis of war, or a cure for social ills, or an act of healing the divisions of the world? When you tend your tomatoes, are you producing more than tomatoes? How much more? Is peace a crop, or justice? The American Friends Service Committee set up a series of garden plots to be tended by people who’d been on opposite sides of the Yugoslavian wars, but a lot of people hope to overcome the wars of our time more indirectly through their own gardening and farming.

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Alabama Pastors Conference Is Open To All White Christians

  • Religious Freedom.. Virgin Mary And The Economy.. Islamic Architecture.. What Is Sin?
  • The event reportedly is festooned with symbols of the Ku Klux Klan, Confederate flags and white supremacy slogans.

Huffington Post

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Pastor William J. Collier and his Church of God's Chosen are holding a Christian conference and all are invited -- as long as they are white.

Flyers for the conference with the title: "Annual Pastors Conference All White Christians Invited" first appeared on Monday in the town of Winfield in western Alabama, outraging many local residents.

According to, the mayor of Winfield is adamant that the event is not representative of the community in any way.

"Business people are upset. The city is upset. The city of Winfield does not condone this," Mayor Wayne Silas said.

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The Thwarting of Catholic Reform

  • A half century ago, the Second Vatican Council charted a course for reform of the Catholic Church. But conservative popes, such as John Paul II and Benedict XVI, protected an autocratic system that failed to stop pedophile priests and even falls short on the religious needs of the faithful, says Catholic theologian Paul Surlis.
  • Catholic Hierarchy’s ‘Fortnight For Freedom’ Campaign Is ‘Thoroughly Misguided,’ Says Americans United

Paul Surlis,

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John Paul II

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Oct. 11, 1962), we should highlight some of the structural changes in the Catholic Church that were supported by the Council but undermined or ignored, especially by Pope John Paul II and currently by Pope Benedict XVI.

One structural change called for collegiality, which would have had profound implications for accountability and transparency, both of which are needed in the Vatican and in the Church at large. Collegiality means that all the bishops as a collective have a role in Church governance as a matter of divine law and in a way that makes them a counterpart to the centralism that has prevailed in the Church for more than a millennium.

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Catholic Hierarchy’s ‘Fortnight For Freedom’ Campaign Is ‘Thoroughly Misguided,’ Says Americans United, Barry W. Lynn, Americans United

  • Bishops Want To Keep Massive Taxpayer Funding While Refusing To Comply With Basic Civil Rights And Civil Liberties, Says AU’s Lynn
  • Right-Wing Religion's War on America

Ezekiel Lotz on Thomas Merton’s letter to Rachel Carson

[Thomas] Merton‘s letter to [Rachel] Carson, which he marked for inclusion as an appendix to his so-called “Cold War Letters,” succinctly summarizes the situation as Merton saw it and served as a springboard for the many other reflections on technology and ecology that would weave themselves in and out of his writings for the next six years.

Ezekiel Lotz, Entersection

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"The Ecology Man" by Sam Haskins (Linz, Austria: Modern Times Media, 2007)

First of all, he notes that there is a strange and perplexing paradoxical contradiction seemingly inherent in the inter-relationships of technology and ecology. There is the same mental process involved (Merton notes to Carson that he had almost written “mental illness” instead of process) in the human person’s irresponsible propensity to “scorn the smallest values” while daring to use “our titanic power in a way that threatens not only civilization but life itself.” This vicious circle of suicidal actions is repeated in our very attempts to cure the illness: “…it seems that our remedies are instinctively those which aggravate the sickness: the remedies are expressions of the sickness itself“.

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American Nuns Vow to Fight Vatican Criticism

  • After three days of discussion and prayer in Washington this week (May 27-June 2), the 21 national board members of the group decided they could not accept the Vatican’s verdict, and would send their president and executive director to Rome on June 12 to open a dialogue with Vatican officials.
  • What the Nuns’ Story is Really About

Laurie Goodstein, New York (NY) Times

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Sister Claudia Bronsing takes part in a vigil at St. Colman Church in Cleveland, Ohio, in support of Catholic nuns who were criticized by the Vatican.

The American nuns who were harshly condemned by the Vatican in April as failing to uphold Catholic doctrine finally responded on Friday in their own strong terms, saying the Vatican’s assessment was based on “unsubstantiated accusations” and a “flawed process,” and has caused scandal, pain and polarization in the Roman Catholic Church.

The nuns issued a statement after six weeks of virtual silence, during which their religious communities across the country mulled over the Vatican’s startling pronouncement, and Catholics across the country rallied to support the nuns. The Vatican had announced it would dispatch three American bishops to lead a complete makeover of the sisters’ principal organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of the nation’s 57,000 nuns.

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What the Nuns’ Story is Really About, Fr. Doug Koesel, Pastor, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, Cleveland, OH

  • The problem with the Vatican approach is that it places the nuns squarely on the side of Jesus and the Vatican on the side of tired old men, making a last gasp to save a crumbling kingdom lost long ago for a variety of reasons.
  • Some MN priests differ with Catholic church over marriage amendment
  • Chris Hedges | The People’s Bishop

Truth to Tell | Religion in Public Schools: Will You Speak Up?

Despite that long series of court decisions, polls show that large numbers of Americans favor looser, not tighter, limits on religion in public schools. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of Americans (69%) agree with the notion that ‘liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of the schools and the government.’ And a clear majority (58%) favor teaching biblical creationism along with evolution in public schools.

Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen, Truth to Tell, KFAI-FM | MN

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Time was – back in the 1950s – those of us from Catholic grade schools who found ourselves attending public high schools – in my case Central High School from St. Luke’s Parish (now St. Thomas More) in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – religious education was continued by way of what were called “Release” classes. Every Wednesday afternoon, the agreement between the schools and the church allowed Catholic students to be “released” from their class(es) early to walk a few blocks to a Catholic Church (in our case, St. Peter Claver – where the “Black Catholics” go. Still do, but very mixed now), sit around talking some catechism and all that for an hour, then woke up and went home. Probably between ten and twelve showed up each week.

This went on for the first year, perhaps another half-year before I gave up on that nonsense.


Katherine Stewart: Free-lance Investigative Reporter (New York Times, Guardian, Daily Beast, Bloomberg View, and Religion Dispatches); Author, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.

Beth Hawkins: Education/Public Policy Reporter/Columnist and Blogger (Learning Curve),
Derek Birkeland: Board Member/Treasurer, Americans United (for Separation of Church and State) – Minnesota

Broadcast: in Minneapolis/St. Paul KFAI-90.3/106.7/Streamed @<> 9-10AM, Monday, September 13

Archived: Click here

Watch us in Studio 5! TruthToTell is now seen live on Livestream and later on

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Fear and Loathing of Islam

  • The idea that American Muslim communities are foul nests of hatred, where dark-skinned men plot Arabic violence while combing one another’s beards, persists. In fact, it’s worse than that.  A new narrative operates more along the axis of culture. Simple acts of religious or cultural expression and the straightforward activities of Muslim daily life have become suspicious.
  • How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth
  • Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims

Moustafa Bayoumi, the Nation

Something’s gone terribly wrong.

In August 2007 the New York Police Department released a report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” claiming that the looming danger to the United States was from “unremarkable” Muslim men under 35 who visit “extremist incubators.” The language sounds ominous, conjuring up Clockwork Orange–style laboratories of human reprogramming, twisting average Muslims into instruments of evil. And yet what are these “incubators”? The report states that they are mosques, “cafes, cab driver hangouts, flophouses, prisons, student associations, non-governmental organizations, hookah (water pipe) bars, butcher shops and book stores”—in other words, precisely the places where ordinary life happens.

But the report wasn’t based on any independent social science research, and actual studies clearly refuted the very claims made by the NYPD. The Rand Corporation found that the number of homegrown radicals here is “tiny.” “There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence,” Rand’s 2010 report found. “A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced,” it concluded. This year, an analysis by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security also described the number of American Muslims involved in domestic terrorism since 2001 as “tiny.” “This study’s findings challenge Americans to be vigilant against the threat of homegrown terrorism while maintaining a responsible sense of proportion,” it said. And a 2011 Gallup survey found that American Muslims were the least likely of any major US religious group to consider attacks on civilians justified.

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How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth, Jack Shaheen, the Nation
From Arab bandits to TV terrorists, the history of Islamophobia in US popular culture is long and ugly.

Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims, Petra Bartosiewicz, the Nation

Behind nearly every “foiled terror plot” lurks a government informant sent to entrap hapless young Muslim men.


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