Sexual Violence and Redemption

In thinking of the alleged crimes of SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I find myself wrestling with a thorny issue: one that has been seen over and over again in the long list of sexual predators who have been revealed (or accused) in the recent past.

To begin with, let’s get one thing perfectly clear.  Any sexual crime, no matter how seemingly minor it is (or was), nor how long ago, nor whom the aggressors (or victims) were, is precisely that: a crime.  It must be treated as such.  It is NOT something to be swept under the rug, nor hidden, nor ignored.  Those who are the victims of such crimes – no matter how fragmentary and disjointed their memories seem to be – must be heard.  They must be treated with respect, with compassion, with impartiality, and without prejudgment as to who they are, or how valid or invalid of a person (or victim) others may portray them to be.

Frankly, any victim of oppression must always be presumed to be telling the truth – until proven otherwise.  Our first and foremost duty is to immediately see them, hear them, and protect them,  They must be kept safe, and feel safe, from further aggression by either the original oppressor / abuser, or from the attacks of others.

And that leads me to my main point, which is a twofold concern.

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A Women’s March Prayer

Jesus shows us by his own example that there are times when we are called to put our faith into action

The Women’s March was exactly one year ago today.  And, I’ve been thinking about how it connects with the story of the Cleansing of the Temple from the Gospel of John, where the Temple practices of Jesus’ time are seen as a system that is accepted by all, even though they had drifted far from the intent of God.  But, Jesus shows us by his own example that there are times when we are called to put our faith into action.  Many are determined to do just that: as we saw in Boston last year, and again (in Cambridge and many other places) yesterday.

Through John, Jesus calls to take a stand against injustices that most accept as “just how the world works.” And so, this prayer is derived from the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who spent his life in the pursuit of justice for the people of El Salvador…

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Unjust Justice or Just Injustice?

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A South Carolina high school teacher who says she was forced to resign after a student took her phone and circulated a nude picture of her has garnered the support of hundreds of students who signed a petition demanding she be reinstated. (NY Times, 3/3/2016)

This New York Times article raises a challenging question.

Absolutely the student did wrong, and should be made to face some sort of consequence for stealing his teacher’s smartphone and then accessing and distributing her personal [nude] photos on it. And, I agree that the school system was way out of line for condemning her, if [as it appears] they rushed to a judgment of her without simultaneously investigating and determining how to address the student’s actions.  (They’ve ducked the issue by saying his fate is being left up to Law Enforcement.)

The deeper question is this: how responsible is the content owner (the teacher) for creating and retaining such content, and then making it accessible – even if inadvertently or illicitly – by others?  Does an expectation of privacy prevail, as she claims?

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Of Walls and of Mustafa Aslan

I never met Mustafa Aslan, but I know the people of Israel and Palestine – Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze alike. Good people. People filled with compassion and faith. People with so much to offer for the benefit of their neighbors and the world as a whole. People who want peace, and through peace, a better life for them, their children, and their people.

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Mustafa Aslan

Mustafa Aslan, age 24, was a champion boxer is Palestine, and coached many children and teens there who were  interested in boxing.

He was shot dead last week in an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) raid, part of Israel’s massive effort to find the three Israeli teens who disappeared on June 12th while traveling within the Gush Etzion block of settlements near Jerusalem in the West Bank.

Given that there is no solid evidence as to the fate or location of these teens at the moment (nor even who kidnapped them) the IDF’s operations are not about finding the three teenagers, at least not any more:  It has become a vendetta: a campaign of revenge and collective punishment, terrorizing a largely defenseless and submissive population.

So far, from what I can tell (as this incident, particularly with regard to the IDF’s actions, is hardly mentioned in the US Media), at least 5 Palestinians have been killed by IDF forces in this “search.”

Many of my Palestinian friends, the West Bank’s Palestinian political leadership, the United Nations, US Leadership, and many in Jews as well, are universal in unequivocally condemning the disappearances.  All of them also call for restraint on the part of Israeli military and police forces in their use of force in their search.

It almost goes without saying that the IDF’s brutal actions, which go far beyond reasonable given the circumstances and lack of any actionable information as to the status or fate of the missing teens, departs from wisdom, let alone international law.  The logic used to justify the actions of the Israeli military, and the shedding of innocent blood, only makes sense if one views all Palestinians as vermin who have no right to exist.

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Leaping the Gap

I was sitting at my soundboard one day, running sound checks and preparing for worship, when a young woman, perhaps 16 years old, came in with her friends and sat down right in front me, such that I could plainly see what was printed on the back of her shirt in large white block letters: “I WASN’T EDUCATED IN NO F***ING WHITE MAN’S SCHOOL.” I was a bit shocked, as you might guess…

I’ve always been a strong proponent of equal rights and justice for all, but how that has been expressed changed radically one day in the fall of 1995, as a result of an encounter in an all-black church I was a member of at the time, and where I was the chief sound technician for the church’s worship services. …It was (and still is) a transformative moment for me…

I was sitting at my soundboard that morning, running sound checks and preparing for worship, when a young woman, perhaps 16 years old, came in with her friends and sat down right in front of my position in the church’s sanctuary, such that I could plainly see what was printed on the back of her shirt in large white block letters: “I WASN’T EDUCATED IN NO F***ING WHITE MAN’S SCHOOL.”  (Well, OK – I added the asterisks!)

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