>Click here to give online today! POLITICALLY CONNECT ^top JFK on Pax Americana With the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, we offer an excerpt from a speech given in the final year of his life: What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children - not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women - not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. Read the entire speech at: http://www.usembassy.de/usa/etexts/speeches/rhetoric/jfkuniv.htm SOUL WORKS ^top Pascal on the present moment "We never care for the present moment. We are so foolish that we wander in times that are not ours, and never think of the only time that belongs to us; we are so frivolous that we dream of the days that are not, and thoughtlessly pass over the only one that exists. We never live, but hope to live; and since we are always preparing to be happy it is inevitable that we shall never be so." - Blaise Pascal (168, Pensees) CharityAdvantage serves thousands of nonprofits through technology programs: LAPTOPS!.........Laptops from $395 COMPUTERS!...Pentium II's from $149/Pentium III's from $279 COMPUTERS!...New Intel-powered from $399 MONITORS!.....Monitors from $49 MICROSOFT!.. Save up to 70% Office XP @ $129/Office XP Pro @ $149 WEB SITES!......Only $99 setup & $29 monthly for hosting/updates/tech support DONATIONS!...American Nonprofit Technology Alliance Visit us online at http://www.charityadvantage.com ON THE GROUND ^top Resisting NAFTA-fication: The Miami FTAA protests by Hillary J. Scholten advertisementAn estimated 10,000-20,000 protesters flooded the streets of Miami this week to oppose high-level negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA would extend NAFTA-like provisions to every country in the Western Hemisphere, except Cuba. Proponents are making the same promises they did before NAFTA: that the agreement would boost commerce, develop countries' economies, and create jobs by eliminating trade barriers. However, many Americans fear that the FTAA will only expand NAFTA's failures: environmental and human rights abuses, and loss of American manufacturing jobs to less rigid worker and environmental standards in the south. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, at least 440,172 jobs have been pushed north to Canada or south over the border to cheaper Mexican labor in NAFTA's first four years, and the number of Mexicans living in poverty has risen 8 percent. Minor Sinclair, the U.S. program director of Oxfam, an international global justice organization, was in Miami as part of the opposition to the agreements. He commented, "The free trade agenda proposes to address [this] hemisphere's problems by pitting producers in the north against producers in the south, by forcing workers into a downward spiral to compete for the lowest wages and worst conditions. Sadly, free trade has come to mean that governments are freed of guaranteeing protections for workers, and corporations are freed of responsibilities for their workers' well-being. When governments don't listen to people, people take to the streets." Read more at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_031124 JOB OPPORTUNITIES AT SOJOURNERS Advertising Manager Director of Development Director of Major Gifts and Foundation Relations For more information, visit: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=about_us.job_openings VALUES FOR LIFE ^top Disposing of consumer culture advertisementThe approach of the holiday season is always a good time to reflect on the amount of stuff we have and whether we really need most of it. The Christian Science Monitor's Paul Boyer reflects on his and his wife's attempts to pare down their stash: "We've discovered that while shoppers are treated like kings and queens, discarders are directed to alleyways, shown to back doors, and sometimes turned away. While shopping is social and recreational, donating often feels more like an illicit act: Back up to the thrift store loading dock, press a buzzer on the locked warehouse door, haul out the boxes, and drive away as fast as possible." And the quandry doesn't end there: "My donations are not really an act of charity; they're a way to make things go away. As I add my boxes to the mountain of objects in the storeroom of our local Goodwill, I wonder who is providing the greater service." Boyer decides that the real virtue lies in being a more discerning consumer in the first place - with success measured by the decreasing size of the U-haul it takes to make the next move. Read more at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p18s02-hfes.html RELIGION AND POLITICS ^top A kinder, gentler Christian Coalition - or a Robertson in Roberta's clothing? advertisementA recent New York Times Magazine interview contrasts the style of new Christian Coalition president Roberta Combs with her predecessor, Pat Roberston. Combs admits that "if you are going to make progress, you have to be tolerant," and talks about finding common ground with Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. Less surprising are her views on Israel, Muslims, Iraq, and pop culture. But as a high-profile working woman who wishes that "mothers stayed home with their kids," she's certainly complicating the landscape of conservative Christian activism. Read the interview at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/magazine/16QUESTIONS.html BY THE NUMBERS ^top Religion and gay marriage According to a recent poll released by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, religiosity is clearly a factor in the recent rise in opposition to gay marriage. Overall, nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) oppose gay marriage, up from 53% in July. But those with a high level of religious commitment now oppose gay marriage by more than six to one (80% - 12%), a significant shift since July (71% - 21%). The public is somewhat more supportive of legal agreements for gays that provide many of the same benefits of marriage; still, a 51% majority also opposes this step. Read the full report at: http://pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=37 BOOMERANG ^top Controversy, anyone? Scott Campbell, pastor of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, writes: Since when did Sojourners become afraid of paradigm shifts? Jim's editorial is the weakest I have ever read from him. This is a day of rejoicing that one place in this nation has finally understood that marriage is not about gender but, rather, lifelong commitment between loving persons. He does not want to deny some rights to gay and lesbian persons, but is willing to deny them the right to marry. On what basis? Evidently, it is just that we've never done it that way before. I'm deeply disappointed that one place I look for leadership in shaping a new society has so badly missed the mark on this one. Perhaps if Sojourners does not have a prophetic word to offer on this issue, it would have been better to keep silent. ---------- Rebecca Townsend writes from San Luis Obispo, California: Thank you for your addressing of the gays and marriage issue. It is a tenuous balance, and a great temptation to be progressive and PC in all things. I think your middle ground is a good approach. It will probably bring ire from the left and the right. ---------- Eric Swensson writes from Stamford, Connecticut: Jim Wallis says at the beginning of his editorial that he proposes a "middle way" between gay rights and family values, but goes into the ditch on the left. He says, "But the Right has seized upon this agenda and turned it into a mean-spirited crusade." Since when is trying to stop erosion a crusade - mean-spirited or otherwise? It's the values of culture that have changed and many do not care for the changes. I guess we need to also say we do not like being called mean-spirited either. A further Wallis demonization: "To say gay and lesbian people are responsible for the breakdown of the heterosexual family is simply wrong." Who said this? I don't recall this being promoted by anyone I know. Is Wallis suggesting people on the right (I thought I was in the middle, but I keep being put in the right by Jim) think there is a gay conspiracy? Get real. ---------- John D. Gustav-Wrathall writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota: As a gay man and a Christian I read Jim Wallis' essay with great interest. I'm glad that Jim thinks gay folks are human beings who deserve the basic consideration for our relationships that everyone else takes for granted. I find it obnoxious to suggest, however, that banning gay marriage is justified because heterosexual relationships are inherently more healthy than gay relationships. What studies have been done on children raised by same-sex couples simply don't support that claim. Even if it were true, that doesn't seem a good rationale for denying marriage to gay couples, since if marriage is a benefit to children, why would you deny this benefit to the children of same-sex couples? ---------- Ruth Hollands writes from El Paso, Texas: Thank you for what you wrote. I agree wholeheartedly. It seems completely logical to me that we should uphold marriage as Godly and important to the fabric of society without forcing a pluralistic society to obey a God it has rejected and doesn't believe in and so missing the opportunity to be fair and gracious to those beloved lost sheep whom the Father would draw to himself. It is so important to reflect God's image in the world, not reinforce the lie that he is mean and narrow and unfeeling. I believe that God will begin to heal homosexuals through the body of Christ when we stop trying to force holiness on people (as if holy living could come from anywhere but the heart) and concentrate on being a friend of sinners. Holiness is contagious, but the medium for spreading it is love and humility - and justice for all. ---------- Margaret Swedish writes from Washington, D.C.: Some of the most devoted marriages I know are same-gender marriages, and that they are denied the legal rights of marriage is pathetic. This is not about theology or the Bible. This is about an antiquated model of marriage that is outdated, no longer matching the reality that more than half of families in this country are non-traditional, from extended family, to grandparents raising grandkids, to single-parent households, etc. Instead of trying to force marriage and family back into this mom-and-dad heterosexual box, it is time that churches and other social institutions start offering all kinds of families the support they need. ---------- Rev. Peter J. Calhoun of St. Andrew's United Church writes from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada: Who says that what's been the norm has to continue to be the norm? At one time, Biblical family values sanctioned polygamy as the "norm." Things change. Courts in Canada and the U.S. have ruled that as long as the option of marriage is denied to gays and lesbians, they will be considered different, and therefore subject to different treatment under the law - all of the rhetoric about "legitimate legal protections" to the contrary notwithstanding. It is inherently discriminatory to permit opposite-sex couples the legitimacy conferred by married status while denying it to same-sex couples. The bottom line is, there is no "middle way" when it comes to an issue of fundamental justice like this one. I am reminded of the message to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:15): "Because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." ---------- Judith A. Beck writes from Portland, Oregon: My theology training has told me that "marriage" was a civil union before it was a Christian ritual in the days of the Roman Empire, even after Constantine. So "marriage" isn't necessarily "religious." I suggest that we do here in the U.S. what is done in some European countries - namely, have a "civil marriage" in ALL cases, and then those who wish to have another, "religious" ceremony, have that too. This would make it clear that the gay/lesbian people's "right" to have a "civil marriage" to safeguard their rights is not necessarily sanctioned by the churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. It would also keep the churches from meddling in the "rights" of all people in the name of their particular religious interpretation of reality. ---------- Rev. Sarah Bentley writes from Austin, Texas: At last - a reasoned and compassionate theological response to the issue of gay marriage. Thanks to Jim Wallis (and Sojourners) for continuing to be a Spirit-led voice speaking for justice while not falling prey to the "binary trap" of "we're right, and they/you are wrong." You have been and continue to be a blessing in our midst! ---------- Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor: boomerang@sojo.net WEB SCENE ^top Smithsonian Strangelove The Smithsonian is planning to unveil a newly refurbished Enola Gay - the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Because they're offering it primarily as a technological achievement and making almost no mention of the bombing's victims, there's a movement to encourage the museum to provide more context and open dialogue at: http://enola-gay.org The Union Mall Shop in good conscience for union-made products from union vendors for apparel guaranteed not to have any "sweat" on it at: http://nosweatshop.com From the makers of The Meatrix... More unabashedly satirical advocacy animation at: http://freerangegraphics.com/html/gallery/flash_movies.html GIVE TO SOJOURNERS Donate now to support our work. SOJOMAIL STAFF David Batstone Executive Editor Molly Marsh Associate Editor Ryan Beiler Web Editor Lester Wall Advertising Director Bob Sabath Chief Technologist Tucker Ball Publisher CONTACT US SojournersT 202.328.8842 2401 15th Street NWF 202.328.8757 Washington, DC 20009 http://www.sojo.net For more information, e-mail us:info@sojo.net Copyright (c) 2003 Sojourners. All Rights Reserved. SojoMail material may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Sojourners 2003 (c) http://www.sojo.net ARCHIVES Browse | Search SOJOMAIL IS A SPAM-FREE ZONE Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your address. Read our privacy policy. SUBSCRIBE If this SojoMail was forwarded to you, click here for your free subscription. "/>
The Common Good

Global Justice and the SOA

Sojomail - November 26, 2003

www.sojo.net11.26.2003
Quote of the Week Pope John Paul II against the wall
Building a Movement Global justice and the SOA: With growth comes challenge
Politically Connect JFK on Pax Americana
Soul Works Pascal on the present moment
On the Ground Resisting NAFTA-fication: The Miami FTAA protests
Values for Life Disposing of consumer culture
Religion and Politics A kinder, gentler Christian Coalition - or a Robertson in Roberta's clothing?
By the Numbers Religion and gay marriage
Boomerang Controversy, anyone?
Web Scene Smithsonian Strangelove | The Union Mall | From the makers of The Meatrix...

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK ^top

"In reality, the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges."

- Pope John Paul II, commenting on Israel's separation wall, quoted in The Washington Post.

BUILDING A MOVEMENT ^top
Global justice and the SOA: With growth comes challenge
by Jesse Holcomb

Joel Fath/Goshen CollegeThis weekend, on the anniversary of the murder of nine Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), more than 10,000 people gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning, in Columbus, Georgia, to call for the school's closure. In an act of civil disobedience, nearly 30 people scaled a chain-link fence barring entrance to the base, facing up to six months in prison and $5,000 in fines. While the impetus for this annual demonstration has been the long list of human rights abuses committed by Latin American soldiers trained at the SOA - including torture, kidnappings, assassinations, and massacres - the campaign to close the school continues to evolve, in many ways exemplifying the postmodern activism of the global justice movement.

Looking out over a vast technicolor sea of heads, accented occasionally by a cardboard cutout of Mohandas Gandhi or sign displaying one of martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero's memorable phrases, it was difficult to imagine this demonstration's humble origins among a handful of Catholic activists some 14 years ago. Dianne Malthiowetz, 57, who was at Ft. Benning this weekend with United Auto Workers, said "They [the older folks] are all still here, but lost in a sea of youth." Malthiowetz, who has attended the rally every year since its inception, noted that the movement noticeably changed after the watershed World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, when a wide diversity of groups converged as a movement for global justice.

That diversity of issues and voices has spread to SOA Watch, the main organizer of the movement to close the SOA. While differing in their platforms, groups and individuals calling for the SOA's closure say that by supporting abusive regimes, it represents the injustice of national and corporate interests over and against human rights. The school itself has claimed reforms, and in 2001 changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. But the movement is broader than the school or its name. "Not only is SOA Watch concerned about this school of terror," says SOA Watch organizer Eric LeCompte, "but we're also concerned about the broader foreign policy that this school represents."

As the movement has grown, protesters have also seen intensified efforts by law enforcement to control protesters. In recent years, the base's entrance has been barred with fencing and barbed wire, whereas before demonstrators were able to freely "cross the line" in a solemn procession of protest. Now any who wish to do so must climb over the fence and face increased penalties. Other measures have created an atmosphere of intimidation, including police searches and metal detectors for every person entering the perimeter of a guarded and monitored "protest zone." SOA Watch and the ACLU have taken legal action to oppose what they call unconstitutional interference in what has always been a nonviolent vigil.

Despite the complex questions faced by a growing movement - challenges faced by a new generation of activists worldwide - the noise of the weekend's events came into focus during Sunday's solemn "funeral" procession. None seemed deterred by the police presence, or by the previous day's attempts by the U.S. Army to drown out the rally by blaring patriotic hymns from a crackling loudspeaker. The prayer vigil spoke loudly in its simplicity, as the names of the SOA's victims were remembered in the litany. With their presence, thousands of diverse consciences bore witness together, lest a legacy of human rights abuse linked to the SOA be buried in rhetoric or faded collective memory.

Even as the increasing size and momentum of this movement creates new challenges and internal obstacles to address, growth has also been its greatest strength. Through increased awareness of the atrocities committed by SOA graduates, and a broader critique of U.S. foreign policy, there is optimism that the bill to close and investigate the SOA - HR1258 - may pass in Congress this spring. Citing an increase in congressional support for the bill, LeCompte remarked that "With new partners like Amnesty International, United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO, with church groups from around the country, and religious organizations, we believe that through a concerted lobbying effort we will be successful in bringing this school to a close."

There's still time to take action to close the SOA! If you haven't already, go to our action page and send a message to your congressperson asking them to support HR1258, a bill that would close, investigate, and prevent the re-opening of the SOA.

Take action today at:

http://go.sojo.net/campaign/close_the_SOA


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POLITICALLY CONNECT ^top
JFK on Pax Americana

With the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, we offer an excerpt from a speech given in the final year of his life:

What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children - not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women - not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

Read the entire speech at: http://www.usembassy.de/usa/etexts/speeches/rhetoric/jfkuniv.htm

SOUL WORKS ^top
Pascal on the present moment

"We never care for the present moment. We are so foolish that we wander in times that are not ours, and never think of the only time that belongs to us; we are so frivolous that we dream of the days that are not, and thoughtlessly pass over the only one that exists. We never live, but hope to live; and since we are always preparing to be happy it is inevitable that we shall never be so."

- Blaise Pascal (168, Pensees)


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ON THE GROUND ^top
Resisting NAFTA-fication: The Miami FTAA protests
by Hillary J. Scholten

advertisement
An estimated 10,000-20,000 protesters flooded the streets of Miami this week to oppose high-level negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA would extend NAFTA-like provisions to every country in the Western Hemisphere, except Cuba. Proponents are making the same promises they did before NAFTA: that the agreement would boost commerce, develop countries' economies, and create jobs by eliminating trade barriers.

However, many Americans fear that the FTAA will only expand NAFTA's failures: environmental and human rights abuses, and loss of American manufacturing jobs to less rigid worker and environmental standards in the south. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, at least 440,172 jobs have been pushed north to Canada or south over the border to cheaper Mexican labor in NAFTA's first four years, and the number of Mexicans living in poverty has risen 8 percent.

Minor Sinclair, the U.S. program director of Oxfam, an international global justice organization, was in Miami as part of the opposition to the agreements. He commented, "The free trade agenda proposes to address [this] hemisphere's problems by pitting producers in the north against producers in the south, by forcing workers into a downward spiral to compete for the lowest wages and worst conditions. Sadly, free trade has come to mean that governments are freed of guaranteeing protections for workers, and corporations are freed of responsibilities for their workers' well-being. When governments don't listen to people, people take to the streets."

Read more at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_031124


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VALUES FOR LIFE ^top
Disposing of consumer culture

advertisement
The approach of the holiday season is always a good time to reflect on the amount of stuff we have and whether we really need most of it. The Christian Science Monitor's Paul Boyer reflects on his and his wife's attempts to pare down their stash: "We've discovered that while shoppers are treated like kings and queens, discarders are directed to alleyways, shown to back doors, and sometimes turned away. While shopping is social and recreational, donating often feels more like an illicit act: Back up to the thrift store loading dock, press a buzzer on the locked warehouse door, haul out the boxes, and drive away as fast as possible."

And the quandry doesn't end there: "My donations are not really an act of charity; they're a way to make things go away. As I add my boxes to the mountain of objects in the storeroom of our local Goodwill, I wonder who is providing the greater service." Boyer decides that the real virtue lies in being a more discerning consumer in the first place - with success measured by the decreasing size of the U-haul it takes to make the next move.

Read more at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p18s02-hfes.html

RELIGION AND POLITICS ^top
A kinder, gentler Christian Coalition - or a Robertson in Roberta's clothing?

advertisement
A recent New York Times Magazine interview contrasts the style of new Christian Coalition president Roberta Combs with her predecessor, Pat Roberston. Combs admits that "if you are going to make progress, you have to be tolerant," and talks about finding common ground with Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. Less surprising are her views on Israel, Muslims, Iraq, and pop culture. But as a high-profile working woman who wishes that "mothers stayed home with their kids," she's certainly complicating the landscape of conservative Christian activism.

Read the interview at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/magazine/16QUESTIONS.html

BY THE NUMBERS ^top
Religion and gay marriage

According to a recent poll released by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, religiosity is clearly a factor in the recent rise in opposition to gay marriage. Overall, nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) oppose gay marriage, up from 53% in July. But those with a high level of religious commitment now oppose gay marriage by more than six to one (80% - 12%), a significant shift since July (71% - 21%). The public is somewhat more supportive of legal agreements for gays that provide many of the same benefits of marriage; still, a 51% majority also opposes this step.

Read the full report at: http://pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=37

BOOMERANG ^top
Controversy, anyone?

Scott Campbell, pastor of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, writes:

Since when did Sojourners become afraid of paradigm shifts? Jim's editorial is the weakest I have ever read from him. This is a day of rejoicing that one place in this nation has finally understood that marriage is not about gender but, rather, lifelong commitment between loving persons. He does not want to deny some rights to gay and lesbian persons, but is willing to deny them the right to marry. On what basis? Evidently, it is just that we've never done it that way before. I'm deeply disappointed that one place I look for leadership in shaping a new society has so badly missed the mark on this one. Perhaps if Sojourners does not have a prophetic word to offer on this issue, it would have been better to keep silent.

----------

Rebecca Townsend writes from San Luis Obispo, California:

Thank you for your addressing of the gays and marriage issue. It is a tenuous balance, and a great temptation to be progressive and PC in all things. I think your middle ground is a good approach. It will probably bring ire from the left and the right.

----------

Eric Swensson writes from Stamford, Connecticut:

Jim Wallis says at the beginning of his editorial that he proposes a "middle way" between gay rights and family values, but goes into the ditch on the left. He says, "But the Right has seized upon this agenda and turned it into a mean-spirited crusade." Since when is trying to stop erosion a crusade - mean-spirited or otherwise? It's the values of culture that have changed and many do not care for the changes. I guess we need to also say we do not like being called mean-spirited either. A further Wallis demonization: "To say gay and lesbian people are responsible for the breakdown of the heterosexual family is simply wrong." Who said this? I don't recall this being promoted by anyone I know. Is Wallis suggesting people on the right (I thought I was in the middle, but I keep being put in the right by Jim) think there is a gay conspiracy? Get real.

----------

John D. Gustav-Wrathall writes from Minneapolis, Minnesota:

As a gay man and a Christian I read Jim Wallis' essay with great interest. I'm glad that Jim thinks gay folks are human beings who deserve the basic consideration for our relationships that everyone else takes for granted. I find it obnoxious to suggest, however, that banning gay marriage is justified because heterosexual relationships are inherently more healthy than gay relationships. What studies have been done on children raised by same-sex couples simply don't support that claim. Even if it were true, that doesn't seem a good rationale for denying marriage to gay couples, since if marriage is a benefit to children, why would you deny this benefit to the children of same-sex couples?

----------

Ruth Hollands writes from El Paso, Texas:

Thank you for what you wrote. I agree wholeheartedly. It seems completely logical to me that we should uphold marriage as Godly and important to the fabric of society without forcing a pluralistic society to obey a God it has rejected and doesn't believe in and so missing the opportunity to be fair and gracious to those beloved lost sheep whom the Father would draw to himself. It is so important to reflect God's image in the world, not reinforce the lie that he is mean and narrow and unfeeling. I believe that God will begin to heal homosexuals through the body of Christ when we stop trying to force holiness on people (as if holy living could come from anywhere but the heart) and concentrate on being a friend of sinners. Holiness is contagious, but the medium for spreading it is love and humility - and justice for all.

----------

Margaret Swedish writes from Washington, D.C.:

Some of the most devoted marriages I know are same-gender marriages, and that they are denied the legal rights of marriage is pathetic. This is not about theology or the Bible. This is about an antiquated model of marriage that is outdated, no longer matching the reality that more than half of families in this country are non-traditional, from extended family, to grandparents raising grandkids, to single-parent households, etc. Instead of trying to force marriage and family back into this mom-and-dad heterosexual box, it is time that churches and other social institutions start offering all kinds of families the support they need.

----------

Rev. Peter J. Calhoun of St. Andrew's United Church writes from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada:

Who says that what's been the norm has to continue to be the norm? At one time, Biblical family values sanctioned polygamy as the "norm." Things change. Courts in Canada and the U.S. have ruled that as long as the option of marriage is denied to gays and lesbians, they will be considered different, and therefore subject to different treatment under the law - all of the rhetoric about "legitimate legal protections" to the contrary notwithstanding. It is inherently discriminatory to permit opposite-sex couples the legitimacy conferred by married status while denying it to same-sex couples. The bottom line is, there is no "middle way" when it comes to an issue of fundamental justice like this one. I am reminded of the message to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:15): "Because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

----------

Judith A. Beck writes from Portland, Oregon:

My theology training has told me that "marriage" was a civil union before it was a Christian ritual in the days of the Roman Empire, even after Constantine. So "marriage" isn't necessarily "religious." I suggest that we do here in the U.S. what is done in some European countries - namely, have a "civil marriage" in ALL cases, and then those who wish to have another, "religious" ceremony, have that too. This would make it clear that the gay/lesbian people's "right" to have a "civil marriage" to safeguard their rights is not necessarily sanctioned by the churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. It would also keep the churches from meddling in the "rights" of all people in the name of their particular religious interpretation of reality.

----------

Rev. Sarah Bentley writes from Austin, Texas:

At last - a reasoned and compassionate theological response to the issue of gay marriage. Thanks to Jim Wallis (and Sojourners) for continuing to be a Spirit-led voice speaking for justice while not falling prey to the "binary trap" of "we're right, and they/you are wrong." You have been and continue to be a blessing in our midst!

----------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor: boomerang@sojo.net

WEB SCENE ^top
Smithsonian Strangelove

The Smithsonian is planning to unveil a newly refurbished Enola Gay - the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Because they're offering it primarily as a technological achievement and making almost no mention of the bombing's victims, there's a movement to encourage the museum to provide more context and open dialogue at:

http://enola-gay.org


The Union Mall

Shop in good conscience for union-made products from union vendors for apparel guaranteed not to have any "sweat" on it at:

http://nosweatshop.com


From the makers of The Meatrix...

More unabashedly satirical advocacy animation at:

http://freerangegraphics.com/html/gallery/flash_movies.html



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