Spirit Care and Public Witness

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Monday, February 26, 2007

There are plenty of people out there depressed and thinking of ways of ending their life. Then there are people who are out there that are killing people, who want to live. Both groups are desperate. Both groups are in need of love and understanding. Both are lost in a world that they think is not listening or responding to them. Let's talk.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Civil Rights and Reparations ruling in Chicago

Well friends, did you see that the claims by slave descendants that they deserve reparations from some of the large insurance companies, transportation companies and large banking companies of the United States was rejected by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Wednesday? To the courts credit, it didn't shoot down the lesser portion of the lawsuit which claimed fraud of some of the companies because they hid past ties to slavery from their clients.

Though it does not surprise me that the claims were ruled as "having no standing to sue for reparations based on injustices suffered by ancestors and that the statute of limitations ran out more than a century ago" it does bring anger and sadness to the forefront for my brothers and sisters who still bear the burden of years of injustices perpetuated against them.

Would it be so difficult for us to just admit it? Can't we demand that something more be done about this for the benefit of African Americans yes, but also to bring truth to our own soul in order that all of us may begin to heal? I have heard arguments from African Americans on both sides of this issue on reparations, some for and others against. So why not do something more for those who do feel that some sort of reparation is in order?

We could write the courts, our legislatures, the congress and the senate, our president, our newspapers. We could preach about it. There is more that we can do to bring justice and healing to our nation. Let's do it!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Report

Wow, can you believe it, we have a nonpartisan official study report out that tells us "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can quarantee success, but the prospects can be improved."

Now that's a summary of the lost lives, limbs and billions of dollars and for what! I'm just pessimestic enough to believe that there are "somebodies" out there who have gained materially from all this and it makes me really angry. I'd like to start by holding President Bush's feet to the fire.

"Violence is increasing in scope and lethality." You don't say. That should only surprise those who are so arrogant to think they can dominate the entire world! Now who would that be?
Yes, I'm being sarcastic. I grieve every life lost and those who face a future of PTSD, amputations, blindness, depression, and you name it.

I have a nephew who is in the military in Afghanistan riding the medic helicopters; his stories are horrific.

I am fed up with our Administration manipulating people by fear or arrogance! Surely we have more depth to us as a country don't we?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Death Penalty

I am a Wisconsinite but I did not vote for the death penalty referendum in our November election. Frankly, I'm amazed it won but then with all the wholesale fear that is being passed around in our America, I guess I shouldn't be. The dealth penalty has no beneficial effect on murder rates. In Canada the statistics are that the murder rate dropped by 40% since the death penalty was eliminated there in 1976. A New York Times survey showed that homicide rate in states with capital punishment have been 48% to 101% higher than those without the death penalty. (Raymond Bonner and Ford Fessenden, "Absence of Executions," New York Times, September 22, 2000).

It seems to me that the problem is that the death penalty is already operating at the level of the soul of many disenfranchised people. Their American Dream is dead, it never was realized. When a person stops dreaming what is left? What is there to live for?

So, how can we fine upstanding, law-abiding citizens "protect" our society against these evils in our America?

Might I suggest more justice, I do not mean locking people up who are angry, feel disenfranchised, hopeless, and see no future beyond today.

How about instead putting some of our money and efforts into better schools and education for the poor. Vocational school and college scholarships for the poor that stay in school and graduate so they can get better paying jobs. Better public transportation so that when you want to get to your kids' daycare center and then to your job you don't have to make several bus transfers and be waiting out in the cold or heat with your babies crying or tugging at your clothes. What about a wage that will pay for the childcare, transportation, food, rent, clothes, healthcare, utilities, phone, and some entertainment without it being supplemented by housing vouchers or food pantries. These are only a few of many areas that need our action.

How "life-giving" could we be if we who have the means to make a better world not just for ourselves but for all people, actually were as commited to that as we are to making life good for ourselves. It seems to me that the same people who voice their opposition to abortion because they view it as "murder" are the same people who are opting for the "legalized murder" of human beings. I am wondering what makes these people so upright in their minds that one type of "murder" such as abortion is morally wrong but it's not wrong to murder a person in prison because they murdered someone? There seems to be a problem with this kind of thinking. Of course it is more complex than this when it comes to abortion but I'm sure you can follow this simplistic reasoning, that if you think one is murder and morally wrong, then so is the other. In fact, since the argument is that the murder of a human being is so evil you need to be put away from society then why would us turning around and then killing this person be justified? The Hebrew Bible mandate of an eye for an eye is not our Christian value system.

Anyway, instead of worrying and scurring about trying to protect what privileges we have, wouldn't it be a sign of hope to those less fortunate if we took less thought for ourselves and gave more to creating opportunities for all people to experience the ideals of what it means to be an American?

Reason should tell us that those without hope, who live outside the American Dream need to see and hear a different reality if we really want to lower the violent acts done to humanity by humanity. Compassion should tell us what that needs to be. Life needs again to be breathed into our society that will give what every human being needs in this world: respect, dignity, value, community, purpose, meaning, and love.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Issues of Justice

Yesterday I attended the "Celebration of Diversity" that St Mary's Hospital in Madison Wisconsin sponsored. It was a beautiful gathering of many represented people groups and I appreciated the efforts that the people and administration of
St Mary's Hospital put forth.

However, what I question is the refusal of the
representation of PFLAG at the Celebration of Diversity. St. Mary's prides itself in respecting the dignity of the individual and revealing the healing presence of God in all they do. It seems to me however, that instead of revealing the healing presence of God to all people, another wound has been inflicted.

PFLAG was refused participation on the grounds that St Mary's might be perceived as taking a partisan stand on the upcoming Marriage Amendment vote if they allowed PFLAG participation; interesting, since PFLAG is a non-partisan group of parents, families, and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of parents, families and friends of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as well as LGBT people. In St. Mary's honor, they did allow the all male choir Harmony, representing gay men and their friends , to perform. I am thankful for that but I challenge them to take it another step.

As a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and a seminarian, I have experienced the damaging consequences to people's emotions and spirit when they are not given the love and respect that God so wants for each person. The greatest message of the gospel is to love God and each other. How does excluding PFLAG representatives, those fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends demonstrate this love? This would not have been a partisan stand but it would have been a stand on the side of Justice and Love and a stand against oppression of any people groups.
St Mary's Hospital needs to add the families and friends of the LGBT people groups to their "mission" too because they need the healing presence of God as well. May God enlarge our hearts.
Carla T. Babiarz, R.N.C.
Seminarian, Chicago Theological Seminary

Saturday, September 30, 2006

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"?

UPDATED POST ON OCTOBER 14, 2006
I'm just wondering about the Senate Approval of new rules to try the "detainees" that was passed by a 65 to 34 vote on Thursday, Sept. 28th. For instance, not allowing detainees (human beings made in the image of God)a habeas corpus right to challenge their detentions in court. How is that "justice for all" in God's terms of justice? These are "unequal weights" and certainly evident to all justice-seeking people when American citizens are allowed this right but not other people from other places in the world. Whether you believe in God, or god, or no god at all, is not the point. Some say they are Christians and yet support this bill and even a stricter one if it could get it passed. Isn't that just another case of "do what I say, not what I do" ? What is ruling in the hearts of those who support such legislation?

For myself, I think one of the great messages of the gospel is to love God and our neighbor. That message is of the greatest priority in living out my faith. Therefore, any legislation that would take away or diminish the rights of any and all humans would harm them and be morally unacceptable. This message of love certainly would not justify the legalization of torture under any circumstances.

I understand that perhaps the "neighbor" concept is what some people are trying to get around by not seeing the detainees as our neighbor. However, which one of us doesn't have a neighbor? Every person has a neighbor in our physical environment. There is no one anywhere that doesn't have a neighbor in this world. It seems to me then that we are all connected in the world by this neighbor concept. And now, with cyberspace, communication technology makes us all closer than ever. I can go on my computer in Wisconsin and talk to someone in Iraq, share our ideas, experiences and our dreams. We can be in relationship with one another. How can we legitimately and with a clear conscience before God, draw lines of distinction and boundaries since these boundaries are not made by God. God connected us by our humanity and our connection to God by being made in God's image. Is geography, ethinicity, race, religion, really what makes us not a "neighbor"? I don't think so. There is really no "other" because we are all each other's neighbor. What about the gospel message of justice and freedom for the whole world being God's purpose/will? How can we live this out if we don't agree that everyone is our neighbor? We are connected in very deep spiritual, physical, and emotional ways. Yet our greed, fear, short-sightedness, ambitions, etc. keep trying to separate "the family" in order to gain something for self.

I think the scales of Justice are to be balanced with mercy and justice for everyone if it is true justice, otherwise we are in danger of showing partiality.

Some are very angry because of 9/11 and shout loud the battle cry of "down with Terrorists" . . . yet when we turn and terrorize detainees are we different? I don't think so. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is not The Way. The Way of Peace is not war, torture, threats, fear, hatred, murder, and making enemies.

I believe there can be mercy for those who perpetrated the crimes of 9/11 or any other harm done to one another.

Is there really a wrong that can't be forgiven? And if every wrong can be forgiven, then why aren't we moving toward The Way of Peace instead of War, Terror, and Death?

Our Lord's Prayer says "forgive me my tresspasses AS I forgive those who tresspass against me". We pray this but are we living into this? How is torturing those who we perceive have tresspassed against us forgiving? Instead of looking for ways to forgive and make peace we look for ways to put fear into the souls of our neighbors of whom we are to forgive and love.

So how can you and I make a real difference? How can we change the world today, right where we live; the world of everyday life for ourselves and our neighbor? Let me put it this way if I may. I believe that:

"Mercy" is The Way to live out love toward one another. It can make our everyday world and life experience change for the better. It is GOD'S WAY for us as well as how God walks toward each one of us. The Beatitudes clearly indicate that those who do mercy will receive mercy. Mercy is God's economy, God's supply system for the whole world for what the world needs.
My question is, which one of us stands not in need of mercy? If you and I want to be "rich" in the things of God and have a vast supply of what is needed for ourselves and the world then we need to walk in the wisdom of God's economy. We can ask God to give us this enlarged heart to really love everyone, without any exceptions. Would God really give us a snake in response to such a request? For those of you who do not identify as people who believe in any god this will still work for you. Doing good toward people has a way of reaping benefits for them and for you.

Our God, metaphorically, sits on a throne, known as the mercyseat, and God waits for each of those created in the image of God, to come. When we come, what are we asking for? Is it for more love for our neighbor? We can't be divided on this. Is it war or peace that we want? If it is peace then we must do the work of peace. It is hard to hear and believe words of peace and love if we hold a gun in our hand, an electric charge to a body, or legislate unequal rights for some while we are speaking.

Everyone IS our neighbor. The challenge is to stop denying this and begin living in the truth of The Way of Love, which is doing mercy and justice to all people without exceptions.

I desire Peace to all those who are near and far off from the hands of love.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chuck Currie Blog

Well, I and my fellowclassmates just did our first online discussion with guest blogger, Chuck Currie, or should I say the Rev. Chuck Currie (congratulations Chuck). Our discussion was around why he started his blog and "how is blogging ministry?" Check out his site: www.chuckcurrie.blogs.com
So, following his recommendation I'd like to remind all the "fair-minded" people of Wisconsin about "Fair Wisconsin", the campaign push to defeat the civil unions and marriage ban.
They, "we" need MORE VOLUNTEERS to help work to defeat the proposed civil unions and marriage ban that will be comining up in the November Election. There are many volunteer opportunities, check it out. www.fairwisconsin.com

Chicago Theological Seminary: http://ctschicago.edu