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niedziela, 21 grudnia 2008
The Shalom Center
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 12:01 PM
Subject: Global Scorching, Swedish Church, Interfaith Manifesto


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life


Global Scorching, Swedish Church,

Interfaith Manifesto

For a week beginning on Thanksgiving Day, Phyllis (i.e., Rabbi Phyllis Berman, my life-partner) and I were in Sweden, taking part in the Interfaith Summit on the Climate Crisis called by the Church of Sweden and then meeting with progressive Christian and Muslim grass-roots activists.

We have posted on our Website the live video of my farewell talk for the thousand people who filled the Cathedral of Uppsala - my talk on  "Words of hope" that we can carry into the world.

It intertwines a vision of empowering ourselves and drawing on the Spirit, at -

http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1469

We met mainly in the Cathedral under the sponsorship of the Archbishop of Uppsala, head of the Church of Sweden. Our goal was to shape, sign, and build support for a Manifesto that the Archbishop has now taken to the Prime Minister of Sweden (which will chair the European Union during 2009) and to the world-wide governmental climate-crisis meeting in Poznan, Poland, and - after January 20- -- will take to the new American Administration.

For a copy of the Manifesto, see  --  
http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1467

Our participation ---  about fifty religious leaders from all around the world and a thousand Swedes who packed the cathedral and filled the smaller workshops that the fifty of us led --  was a way of building both religious commitment and a new political constituency for vigorous action to prevent climate disaster.

And the Manifesto we wrote and signed delivered a strong message about the obligation of rich nations to meet the needs of the poorest third of the human race. They have done the least to scorch our world, but are both more much exposed to climate-induced floods and drought and hurricanes, and far less able to draw on accumulated wealth to deal with their effects. 
For me, the most important plenary speech was not by a religious leader but by a scientist who spoke with the clearest of facts and the most powerful of spiritual passion. That was Dr. James Hansen of NASA, who almost thirty years ago became the first scientist to lay before the US Congress and the public the facts of global warming.

Again and again, Hansen said that setting goals for diminishing Carbon Dioxide, goals for reducing the use of fossil fuels, did not matter: The point was to change what we do. That has not happened, he said.

And then he described some acts of civil disobedience on behalf of "adam" (the human race) and "adamah" (the earth): Activists in Virginia gathering where a new coal plant was scheduled to be built, blocking the passage of the trucks to build it, calling its emissions of mercury and CO2 a murderous poison spewed into our lives.

It takes, I muttered to myself,  a scientist to echo Shifra and Puah, the midwives of the Torah story who invented civil disobedience by disobeying Pharaoh's order to kill the children of the Israelites. Where, I asked myself,  is the religious commitment to nonviolent action?  (Including, on this issue, my own.)

 Several moments of the Summit stick in my brain like powerful paintings:

The opening: Into a full Cathedral came a procession of Lutheran clergy all dressed in black, surrounding one woman in a bright red dress - the Crown Princess of Sweden, who opened the Summit. Her brilliant red in the midst of that blackness was like a watchfire at deepest midnight. It seemed to symbolize the Summit itself -a watchfire at the darkest moment of human history.

Another: One of the multireligious services in the Cathedral - a shofar blown, Buddhist bells, passages chanted from Quran and Gospels and Gautama's writings.

And then a large green globe, made of living moss, was carried into the cathedral. Watching awestruck by this miniature of our planet, and feeling a second level sense of awe, moved by my own emotion. I found myself wondering ---

What if ALL our communities - where now for some the central sacred symbol is the Torah Scroll,  or the Cross,  or the Quran,  or the Wheel of Life, or the peace pipe ------ What if we ALL affirmed this living ball, this planet, as a sacred symbol for every one of our communities and traditions?

Some humor, too:  A moment of private conversation: A teacher from India, looking at the printed program, seeing Starhawk, re-creator of the Wiccan community in our generation, listed as a "pagan." "This word," he whispered to me, "this 'pagan,'  it is now all right to say?" I laughed and said it depended whom you asked. For me, admiring Starhawk, yes, OK.  (After all, long ago she was a Jewish girl who went to Camp Ramah and who says she might have become a rabbi if that had been possible when she was young.)

Later I told the Archbishop I was happy Starhawk had been invited. He glanced at me quizzically, said: "There was a --ummmm ---- discussion. We decided she has done so much work to focus attention on healing the earth that she couldn't be left out." And Starhawk herself, smiling as she toasted the Church of Sweden, "To the first Archbishop ever to consult a witch - in public."

 And there were other ironies as well: At the end, four of us, including me, were asked to say "words of hope," for all of us to carry into the world -- each of us for no more than five minutes. 

Our words were supposed to be stirring, passionate - not academic. I think I carried out my assignment, crystallizing into five minutes and a tone of hopeful passion my teaching about how to face the Pharaohs of our planetary Plague as Moses did, with the words of hope that are the Names of God he was given at the Burning Bush.

(Again, the live video of that talk, intertwining a vision of empowering ourselves and drawing on the Spirit, is on our Website at -
http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1469   )

The video gives the feel and color way beyond what I could describe in words.

I won't say whether the other three fulfilled their mission, but I saw an amusing picture: The Archbishop himself, carrying the six-foot Shepherd's Crook that is the symbol of the bishop's pastoral task to gather the flock, came sidling toward the pulpit.

As one speaker droned on and on and the Archbishop crept nearer and nearer,  I suddenly saw the Crook as what in Harlem's Apollo Theater on Amateur Night was The Hook that literally dragged untalented performers off the stage. "Give 'm the hook, the Hook," the audience would chant. 

He never used the Crook to yank the speaker off, but the undone act stayed vivid in my brain.

One contribution we brought the interfaith assembly was a Shabbat service built on chant, led by Phyllis Berman in such a way as to open the Shabbat experience and Jewish prayer to these myriad religious representatives.  Thirty-six people came - four or five of them Jews, all of them enthralled by the power of this path of prayer.

As Phyllis pointed out, this is an interfaith experience very different from that of  the "prayer salad" in which many different forms are poured into a single bowl. Instead, it invited everyone into the spiritual depths of one tradition. That is the way we have learned to pray in The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah: deep into Islam, deep into Judaism, deep into Christianity - deep enough to experience the ONE Who is at the heart of each.  

After the Summit, Phyllis and I met with Muslims and Christians who were pursuing a spiritually rooted politics in  the Swedish public square. And to our unexpected delight, we met the leaders of a Muslim-sponsored school for migrants to Sweden  -- with whom Phyllis, founder and director of a renowned 30-year-old school for adult immigrants and refugees to the United States, was able to have a long conversation at the highest professional level - a level we might call Vocation, not even just Profession.

More on that in a separate letter to you.  For now, I invite your thoughts in general - and especially on the question whether we should be planning religious acts of nonviolent civil disobedience like the ones Dr. Hansen spoke about - acts to challenge the scorching of our planet, acts to confront the Pharaohs of our modern Plagues.

Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace -

Arthur

P.S.  --  Hanukkah begins on Sunday evening. The traditional Hanukkah song of Ma'oz Tzur has not just one but a number of verses, celebrating God's redemption of the Jewish people from a series of
oppressions -- Egypt, Babylonia, Haman, Rome, as well as Antiochus.
 
It ends with a verse looking forward to the ultimate Messianic redemption of  --  we might well say in our generation --  all peoples and all life. There follows a new version of this verse in English that I have written to fit the traditional Jewish melody.    (It uses two phrases by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi from a quite different version of that verse.) We
encourage you to sing it at the lighting of the candles or in any context that calls to you.
 
Shalom, salaam, peace --  Arthur
 
Holy aid extend to us and bring our planet's healing near.
When Your foes oppress the earth, give all life compassion's ear.
In oil-addiction dour, at our darkest hour,
Bless the sun and everyone, Make Messiah flower.
Bless the sun and everyone, Make Messiah flower!

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

piątek, 19 grudnia 2008
Hanukkah to Heal our Planet -- Green Menorah Covenant
The Shalom Center
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 6:04 AM
Subject: Hanukkah to Heal our Planet -- Green Menorah Covenant


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

Hanukkah, Oil,  8 Days of Action:  The Green Menorah Covenant
Hanukkah this year begins with the lighting of one candle on the evening of December 21. At the dark time of the moon and sun, we kindle a growing blaze of lights. And light is the central symbol of the holy season.

In this letter we will share some of the deepest symbols that make Hanukkah a festival for sharing light by saving energy, and will also share some specific earth-healing actions for each of the Eight Days. 

First: The traditional Hanukkah song of Ma'oz Tzur has not just one but a number of verses, celebrating God's redemption of the Jewish people from a series of oppressions -- Egypt, Babylonia, Haman, Rome, as well as Antiochus.
 
I
t ends with a verse looking forward to the ultimate Messianic redemption  of  --  we might well say in our generation --  all peoples and all life.  There follows a new version of this verse in English that I have written to fit the traditional Jewish melody.    (It uses two phrases by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi from a quite different version of that verse.) We encourage you to sing it at the lighting of the candles or in any context that calls to you. 


Holy aid extend to us and bring our planet's healing near.
When Your foes oppress the earth, give all life compassion's ear.
In oil-addiction dour, at our darkest hour,
Bless the sun and everyone, Make our shepherd flower.
Bless the sun and everyone, Make our shepherd flower!

On the Shabbat that comes in the midst of Hanukkah, Jews traditionally read the passage from the Prophet Zechariah that celebrates the Great Menorah (literally, a Light-bearer)  in the Holy Temple that he envisions will be rebuilt after the Babylonian Captivity.
 
Zechariah, in visionary, prophetic style, goes beyond the Torah's description of the original Menorah . That Menorah was planned as part of the portable Shrine, the Mishkan, in the Wilderness.
 
First Zechariah describes the Menorah of the future that he sees: "All of gold, with a bowl on its top, seven lamps, and seven pipes leading to the seven lamps." It sounds like the original bearer of the sacred Light. But then he adds a new detail: "By it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one on the left." (4: 2-3)
 
And then ---  in a passage the Rabbis did not include in the special prophetic reading on Shabbat  --- Zechariah explains that the two olive trees are feeding their oil directly into the Menorah (4: 11-13). No human being needs to press the olives, collect the oil, clarify and sanctify it. The trees alone can do it all.
 
Now wait!  This is extraordinary. What is this Light-Bearer that is so intimately interwoven with two trees? Is the Menorah the work of human hands, or itself the fruit of a tree?
 
Both, and beyond.  In our generation it might be called a "cyborg," a cybernetic organism that is woven from the fruitfulness both of "adamah" (the Hebrew for earth)  and of "adam" (a human earthling). Just as earth and earthling were deeply intermingled in the biblical Creation story, so the Divine Light must interweave them once again, and again and again, every time the Light is lit in the Holy Temple.
 
What stirs Zechariah to this uncanny vision? Once we listen closely to the Torah's original description  of the Menorah for the wandering desert Shrine, we may not be quite so surprised. For the Torah describes a Menorah that has branches, cups shaped like almond-blossoms, petals, and calyxes (the tight bundles of green leaves that hold a blossom). (Exodus 25:31-40 and 37:17-24)
 
In short, a Tree of Light, a Green Menorah. Small wonder that Zechariah envisioned its receiving oil directly from the olive-trees!
 
And in the legend told by the Talmud as the origin of Hanukkah, the Light itself is a miracle. One day's oil becomes sufficient for eight days' needs.
 
 At the physical level, this is about conserving energy, the triumph of sustainable sources of energy over the Seleucid Empire that guzzles oil and other forms of material wealth. Seen this way, the Green Menorah can become the symbol of a covenant among Jewish communities and congregations to renew the miracle of Hanukkah in our own generation: Using one day's oil to meet eight days' needs. By 2020, cutting oil consumption by seven-eighths.
 
We can start right away, this Hanukkah, by joining in The Shalom Center's Green Menorah Covenant for taking action -- personal, communal and political -- to heal the Earth from the global climate crisis.

After lighting your Hanukkah menorah each evening, dedicate yourself to making the changes in your life that will minimize our use of oil (and coal). (And this pattern can be used for the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Seven Days of Kwanzaa, and so on.)

Day 1: Personal/Household: Call your electric-power utility to switch to wind-powered electricity. (For each home, 100 percent wind-power reduces carbon dioxide emissions the same as not driving 20,000 miles in one year.)

Day 2: Synagogue, Hillel, or JCC: Call your congregational board chair to urge that your building switch to wind-powered electricity.

Day 3. Your network of friends, IM buddies and members of civic or professional groups to which you belong: Connect with people like newspaper editors, real estate developers, architects, bankers, etc. to urge them to strengthen the green factor in all their decisions, speeches and actions.

Day 4: Town/City: Urge town/city officials to require greening of buildings through ordinances and executive orders. Creating change is often easier on the local level.

Day 5: Workplace or college: Urge the top officials to arrange an energy audit. Check with utility company about getting one free or at low cost.

Day 6 , which this year is Shabbat. Automobile: If possible, choose this Shabbat and through the year,  one day a week to not use your car. Walk. Bike. Other days, lessen driving. Shop on-line. Cluster errands. Car pool. Don't idle engine beyond 20 seconds.

Day 7: State: Urge state representatives to reduce subsidies for highways, increase them for public transit so it becomes convenient, swift, frequent, and inexpensive.

Day 8: National: Write a letter to at least one of your senators and congressmembers urging them to support the strongest possible limits on CO2 emissions, and to support Federal grants to develop sustainable energy and fund Green Jobs.  As the new Congress gathers in January, The Shalom Center will send you information on the bills most likely to make the necessary changes.

Give our planet a Happy Hanukkah!

If the necessary changes seem overwhelmingly hard to  accomplish against the entrenched power of our own oil empires, Hanukkah also reminds us: Small groups of seemingly powerless human beings can face huge and powerful institutions ---  and change the world.
 
But let us not stop at the economic, political, or ecological levels of meaning that hide in the Hanukkah candles.  At the spiritual level, since "eight" is the number of "Beyond," the Infinite, the storied eight-day miracle when  One Becomes Eight  reminds us that when we enter
deeply into the One, the Infinite becomes fully present.

It reminds us that conserving oil, or coal, or our whole planet, is not just a political or economic or even ecological decision. It reminds us to take into our hearts the knowledge that we do not need all the "oil," all the glut of material goods, that tug and pull at us.  If we can
fully
celebrate the Infinite One,  of course we need some food, some oil, some light --  but hyper-ownership will not fulfill us.

The Infinite is always present when we choose to light One Light.
 
Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace --  and LIGHT!

--  Arthur

^^^^^^^^^

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the author of Down-to-Earth Judaism, available by writing Office@shalomctr.org   For more information on the Green Menorah Covenant, see ---
http://www.shalomctr.org/taxonomy_menu/1/1

(There's an underline before the word "menu.")

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

poniedziałek, 24 marca 2008
Dead: 4,000 Americans; Only God knows how many Iraqis. The Shalom Center : 4,000 Dead: What can we Do?

Bloody Fallujah - Death Count
00:54
Since the war has started, 3,197 US soldiers have lost their lives. An additional 13 are still pending DoD confirmation.

That is a possible 3,210 American families in various stages of mourning.

Both sides have casualties...

64,729 Iraqi civilians have also lost their lives. Many more have lost their homes, jobs and family from the war.

I support the troops, not the politics. The numbers say enough to me, on both sides of the fence.    www.ByWise.com
 http://pl.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=094AD397A1B9D23D

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 3:15 PM
Subject: 4,000 Dead: What can we Do?


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

==========
Dead:
4,000 Americans;
Only God knows
how many Iraqis
===========

The Shalom Center encourages you to take two actions:

(1)    Whatever your religious or spiritual community, to use this prayer for life and peace in the face of death and violence (based on the Jewish Mourners Kaddish) in concert with all who mourn this senseless bloodshed;

(2)    To write the three candidates for President, demanding they themselves take swift action in the Senate to end this war.  To do this,  click to --

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/602/t/4180/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=23802
MOURNERS' KADDISH
IN TIME OF WAR & VIOLENCE


May Your Great Name, bearing all the names of all the beings in the universe, through our deeper awareness and our fuller action, lift Your Own Self  to become still higher and more holy --

---   Throughout the world that You have offered us, a world of majestic peaceful order that gives life through time and through eternity ---- And let's say, Amein

So may the Great Name be blessed, through every Mystery and Mastery of every universe.

May Your Name be blessed and celebrated, Its beauty honored and raised high, may It be lifted and carried, may Its radiance be praised in all Its Holiness ---  Blessed be!

Even though we cannot give You enough blessing, enough song, enough praise, enough consolation to match what we wish to lay before you -

And though we know that today there is no way to console You when among us some who bear Your Image in our being are slaughtering others who bear Your Image in our being ---  

Still we beseech that from the unity of Your Great Name flow a great and joyful harmony and life for all of us.   (Cong: Amein) 

You who make harmony in the ultimate reaches of the universe, teach us to make harmony within ourselves, among ourselves --  and peace for all who dwell upon this planet.  (Cong: Amein)

[Please forward this message to all your friends and co-workers,

and use it in your congregations.]

Donate Now

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

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