Sunday, September 16, 2012

From Ben-Ghazi to Yom Kippur (Read Genesis 25)

"Let us of the various Abrahamic communities gather as a society at the Well of the Living One Who Sees Me, to make sure that we can see each other in the light cast by the Holy One Who is the Breath of life."

On Yom Kippur, synagogues should read the story in Genesis 25 of reconciliation between Ishmael and Isaac, and for weeks and months synagogues, churches, and mosques should visit each other en masse to break the cycle of fear and hatred and violence between the Abrahamic communities that broke into murder in Ben-Ghazi, Libya, as it did weeks ago in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. (Blogger here at nomorecrusades: why don't the rest of us do the same? Christians seeking peace and reconciliation and other Peace gatherings of all types?)

... “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we absorbed the news of a dreadfully disgusting film casting contempt on Islam and the resulting vile murders of four American foreign service officers, I began to think again about the Torah stories we are about to read for Rosh HaShanah.

For they are ancient stories about fear, anger, and estrangement between different branches of the same family. They presage the fear, anger, and estrangement between the Abrahamic families today – and yet they lead toward love and healing. What can we learn from them?

Rosh Hashanah traditionally begins with a profoundly disturbing story: Abraham and Sarah insist that Hagar (a name that means “the stranger” in Hebrew), who has been Abraham’s second wife and the mother of his first son, Ishmael, leave the family. Sarah says that Ishmael has been “making laughter” (in Hebrew, mitzachek) at her son Isaac (in Hebrew, Yitzchak), whose name means “Laughing One.” (en 21: 1-19)

One way to understand the story is that the two boys are so much like each other, though not identical – Making laughter/ Laughter – that they are clouding each other’s identities, and must separate for the health of them both, even though the separation is painful.

But the story gets more painful. Abraham, who has been reluctant to expel Hagar and Ishmael from the family, sends them into the wilderness with a jug of water. But it runs out, and Hagar, fearing her son will die, begins to cry.

The Holy One Who is the Interbreathing of all life becomes visible to her. As her eyes open, she sees that her tears have themselves watered a wellspring -– the Well of the Living One Who Sees Me –- and not only are their lives saved, but they become the forebears of a great nation: the Arabs and Islam.

Abraham’s other son, Isaac, in Jewish understanding becomes the forebear of the Jewish people.

Here pauses the story as we read it on the first day of Rosh HaShanah. On the second day, we read how Abraham takes his other son, Isaac, up a mountain-top, preparing to make him a burnt-offering to God, who he thinks has asked this of him. At the last moment, the compassionate aspect of God intervenes to spare Isaac.

In the Bible, the story of these two endangered brothers continues into a passage that has traditionally been read on a regular Shabbat but not on the sacred special days when synagogues are filled with spiritually thirsty and responsive Jews.

I believe the completion of the story should be read aloud in every synagogue on Yom Kippur. It is a story of reconciliation, which is what Yom Kippur is all about. And just as the story of estrangement presages the vituperative video and the violent response of the last several days, this tale of reconciliation should be our teaching for next week, next year, next generation.

It appears in Gen. 25: 8-11. Abraham has died and his two sons come together to bury him, the most dangerous person in both their lives. It seems they have forgiven him, and now they reconcile with each other. For Isaac goes to live at the very Well of the Living One Who Sees Me that has been life-giving water for Hagar and Ishmael.

At last, the two brothers can fully see each other.

The pattern in which contempt and hatred toward Islam leads to hatred of the West and to violence that is likely to lead to still more hatred of Islam is now well under way.

Indeed, the making of the vituperative film seems likely to have been deliberately calculated to stir the violence that happened. Why else dub it into Arabic?

The pattern and the theory of how to deal with it is no surprise:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do we take this teaching into reality? How do we interrupt this lethal pattern?

The US government tried to prevent disaster by publicly decrying the film before violence erupted. Good! But not enough. What needs to happen at the grass roots of our society?

Some democratic countries have tried to outlaw hate speech – like the outlawry of Holocaust denial and of Nazi-like speech in many European countries. I do NOT recommend that for the USA, where our form of experiment in democracy has taken the direction of — “Bad speech? More speech! Better speech!!”

But there is another approach: the conscious and deliberate mobilization of public opinion to oppose and disallow hatred of Islam. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I am suggesting that if we put the story of Ishmael-Isaac reconciliation front and center before the Jewish community on Yom Kippur — followed by full discussion of what that means now— and figure out ways to do analogous discussions in churches and mosques, we can go much further into building the kind of public atmosphere in which vituperative speech and violent action against Islam is deeply and fully opposed.

This desire did not just arise for me in the last few days, though they have strengthened it. In 2006, I put a great deal of energy into working with leading Muslim and Christian teachers as co-authors to write and find a publisher (Beacon Press) for a book called The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Peace and Hope for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, with a preface by Karen Armstrong. I know it has been used, especially in churches, to stimulate the kind of discussion I have suggested. I hope it will be used in synagogues and mosques and wherever spiritual seekers and pursuers of peace gather.

But even “good speech” is not enough. It would be ideal for congregations-full of Jews and Christians, in the coming week after Rosh Hashanah, to come to mosques to share their revulsion toward the vile attack on Islam in the video. Already, Major Muslim American organizations have condemned the murderous violence in Libya and elsewhere. Still, here too words are not enough. It would be ideal for American Muslims to visit churches and synagogues with the same intent: seeing each other fully.

It is not just video that we must atone for. The number of physical attacks on mosques and Muslims has been multiplying among us. They include the “mistaken” murders of Sikhs by someone who thought they were Muslims. (Did you think only Libyans could kill people out of “religious” fear and hatred?)

So we should visit each other. If not this week, the week after. And the weeks and months after that.

Let us of the various Abrahamic communities gather as a society at the Well of the Living One Who Sees Me, to make sure that we can see each other in the light cast by the Holy One Who is the Breath of life.

Shalom, salaam, peace!

If you'd like to share your views on this question publicly, please click here

Blessings for the year ahead, for all of us --


The Shalom Center
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Philadelphia, PA 19119
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web: email: tel: (215) 844-8494

Saturday, September 15, 2012

With Update 17 SEP '12 - The Tragedy & Face of Indefinite Detention (a call for peaceful action!)

RULING by Judge Katherine Forrest here

NOTE FOR ACTIONS: A recent Amnesty blog suggests we each act on these travesties helped by a recent ruling. (PLZ find Amnesty urls near the end and one at the VERY END of this long post -- updated twice --FOR ACTION GUIDANCE FROM AMNESTY) There has been a BREAKTHROUGH thanks to Judge Katherine Forrest in New York. We MUST put an end to the abuse and intimidation of all US prisoners. We suddenly have more legal channels to work with then usual. (See end of this post for some guidelines.)

UPDATE: We Won—For Now by Chris Hedges

Posted on Sep 17, 2012

Chris Hedges

In January I sued President Barack Obama over Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorized the military to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely, strip them of due process and hold them in military facilities, including offshore penal colonies. Last week, round one in the battle to strike down the onerous provision, one that saw me joined by six other plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, ended in an unqualified victory for the public. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, who accepted every one of our challenges to the law, made her temporary injunction of the section permanent. In short, she declared the law unconstitutional.

Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision. Government prosecutors called the opinion “unprecedented” and said that “the government has compelling arguments that it should be reversed.” The government added that it was an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope.” Government lawyers asked late Friday for an immediate stay of Forrest’s ban on the use of the military in domestic policing and on the empowering of the government to strip U.S. citizens of due process. The request for a stay was an attempt by the government to get the judge, pending appeal to a higher court, to grant it the right to continue to use the law. Forrest swiftly rejected the stay, setting in motion a fast-paced appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly, if her ruling is upheld there, to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the 2nd Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the 2nd Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction. This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.

“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” said Carl Mayer, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

“The administration of President Obama within the last 48 hours has decided to engage in an all-out campaign to block and overturn an order of a federal judge,” said co-lead counsel Bruce Afran. “As Judge Forrest noted in her opinion, nothing is more fundamental in American law than the possibility that journalists, activists and citizens could lose their liberty, potentially forever, and the Obama administration has now lined up squarely with the most conservative elements of the Republican Party to undermine Americans’ civil liberties.”

The request by the government to keep the law on the books during the appeal process raises a disturbing question. If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future? READ the REST of Hedge's article r contributor) with a CLICK here and/or PRINT here
END Report

ALSO see: OPPOSING VIEWS: US itching to overturn detention ban here OR go to HUFFPOST for 2,700+ fb likes and for 930 comments (which usually have some interesting leads) GO here

Also just out from Glenn Greenwald's tweet: Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests here -- not unrelated when we consider the kind of activism which sometimes seems to get folk locked up with the key thrown away. We often feel helpless in the West yet what about becoming more aware of all the ways we may allow provocation such as the ongoing existence of Gitmo with so many prisoners who've actually been free yet there are no places, evidently, for them to be allowed to go? What about all those who are being held for years without trial? What about the many drone strikes still being sent to 'keep us safe' when they are so likely to kill civilians and help recruiters among extremists on the ground?

An earlier statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights (by same title) has been made into this NYTimes article.

September 14, 2012
The Face of Indefinite Detention

BEFORE he died on Sept. 8, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif had spent close to 4,000 days and nights in the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was found unconscious, alone in his cell, thousands of miles from home and family in Yemen.

Eleven years ago, he found himself in Afghanistan at the wrong place and the wrong time. It was an unusual set of events that took him there. Years earlier Mr. Latif had been badly injured in a car accident in Yemen. His skull was fractured; his hearing never quite recovered. He traveled to Jordan, seeking medical treatment at a hospital in Amman; then, following the promise of free medical care from a man he met there, journeyed to Pakistan, and eventually to Afghanistan.

Like so many men still imprisoned at Guantánamo, Mr. Latif was fleeing American bombing — not fighting — when he was apprehended by the Pakistani police near the Afghan border and turned over to the United States military. It was at a time when the United States was paying substantial bounties for prisoners. Mr. Latif, a stranger in a strange land, fit the bill. He was never charged with a crime.

The United States government claims the legal authority to hold men like Mr. Latif until the “war on terror” ends, which is to say, forever. Setting aside this troubling legal proposition, his death and the despair he endured in the years preceding it remind us of the toll Guantánamo takes on human beings.

Adnan Latif is the human face of indefinite detention.

In the landmark 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantánamo detainees were entitled to “meaningful judicial review” of the legality of their detentions, via the writ of habeas corpus — a constitutional check obligating the government to demonstrate a sufficient factual and legal basis for imprisoning someone. The Boumediene decision, in principle, ought to have given hope to Mr. Latif and men like him.

And it was under such principle that two years later, a United States District Court judge hearing Mr. Latif’s habeas corpus petition ordered him released, ruling that the accusations against him were “unconvincing” and that his detention was “not lawful.” By that time, Mr. Latif had been cleared for release from Guantánamo on three separate occasions, including in 2009 by the Obama administration’s multiagency Guantánamo Review Task Force.

Nevertheless, the Department of Justice appealed the district court’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — which has ruled in the government’s favor in nearly every habeas corpus appeal it has heard. The appellate court reversed the trial judge’s release order, effectively ruling that evidence against detainees must be presumed accurate and authentic if the government claims it is.

A strong dissenting opinion criticized the appellate court majority for not just “moving the goal posts,” but also calling “the game in the government’s favor.”

But Mr. Latif didn’t see it as a game. He was dying inside. Like other men, he had been on a hunger strike to protest his detention. After losing the appeal of his case, he told his lawyer, “I am a prisoner of death.”

Three months ago, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of Mr. Latif and six other detainees, who pleaded for the court to restore its promise of meaningful review of their cases.

But what is unsaid in all of the court rulings is that Mr. Latif was imprisoned not by evidence of wrongdoing, but by accident of birth. In Guantánamo’s contorted system of justice, the decision to detain him indefinitely turned on his citizenship, not on his conduct.

With Mr. Latif’s death, there are now 56 Yemenis who have been cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force since 2009 but who remain in prison. President Obama, citing general security concerns, has imposed a moratorium on any and all transfers to Yemen, regardless of age, innocence or infirmity.

It is fair, and regrettable, to assume that some of these detainees will die there as well.

Mr. Latif, after all, was the ninth man to die at Guantánamo. More men have died in the prison camp than have been convicted by a civilian court (one) or by the military commissions system in Guantánamo (six). In 2006, Salah al-Salami, a Yemeni, and Yasser al-Zahrani and Mani al-Utaybi, both Saudis, were the first men to die at Guantánamo. Their deaths were called suicides, even though soldiers stationed at the base at the time have raised serious questions about the plausibility of the Defense Department’s account. (Full disclosure: the Center for Constitutional Rights represents the families of two of the men who died.)

According to the government, three more detainees committed suicide and two others died of natural causes. There has been no independent investigation into any of the deaths, however; there has been no accountability for a range of constitutional and human rights violations at Guantánamo.

The government has not yet identified the cause of Mr. Latif’s death, but it is Guantánamo that killed him. Whether because of despair, suicide or natural causes, death has become an inevitable consequence of our politically driven failure to close the prison — a natural byproduct of the torment and uncertainty indefinite detention inflicts on human beings.

The case of Adnan Latif should compel us to confront honestly the human toll of the Guantánamo prison — now approaching its 12th year in operation. We can start this reckoning by releasing the 86 other men at Guantánamo who the United States government has concluded no longer deserve to be jailed there.

Baher Azmy is the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Find the original statement by the same title from 11 Sep 2012 at Center for Constitutional Rights here

Find the url for the NYTimes article here

Yet another OP Ed on this solitary death in NYTimes Sunday GO here and see more in a post several days ago with Adnan Latif's heart-breaking poem on this oneheartforpeace site "Tragic Injustice". Also find one on 12 September from the Executive Director of Amnesty I/USA here

Too late for Adnan; What about for others?

What happens next? The case against indefinite detention in the NDAA–-Judge Katherine Forrest due to the suit by journalist Chris Hedges, Professor Noam Chomsky and others–could go all the way to the Supreme Court. It would be interesting to see how the Court would rule, especially given that opposition to indefinite detention does not divide along party lines. Protest against the NDAA has brought Republicans and Democrats together, because indefinite detention is a blatant assault on human rights.

And that’s why President Obama and Congress should change course and work together to repeal the detention provisions in the NDAA—Sections 1021 and 1022—and ensure that anyone accused of a crime is charged and fairly tried, or released. If you agree, then let your Senators know— they’ll be working on the 2013 NDAA later this year: OR GO here

This RECENT RULING may make a difference but we MUST get behind this effort NOW. FIND the above and more on Judge Katherine Forrest's recent 112 page ruling at this AmnestyUSA blog -- GO here

Speak OUT against Indefinite Detention NOW. HOW TO MAKE your voice count? FIND GUIDELINES at AMNESTY USA BLOG here
GO often to this blog for updates: SEND this active blog to others as OR CLICK here

SEE the 112 page ruling by Katherine Forrest available by pdf link -- it's in the public domain -- ask a lawyer for it or simply GO to for Sep 12, 2012 HEDGE vs OBAMA and see the high profile folk who initiated this ruling. CLICK here

Read, Study, Quote IT USE IT --SPEAK ABOUT IT while this window is still open.

(* Katherine Bolan Forrest is an American lawyer and judge, serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.)


FOR those who want to STUDY/WRITE/TALK about this shameful CASE in depth, you may find the following helpful...

"Hope Dies at Guantanamo". The Jurist. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. "The tragic case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif hit a dead end when the US Supreme Court issued an order refusing to hear his case last week. Latif, a Yemeni man, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002, after being detained while traveling to seek medical treatment."
"U.S. military reviews 'enemy combatant' use". FIND in The JURIST by Jurist Contributing editor, MARJORIE COHN (co-writer of perhaps the quite recent definitive book with legal corroboration on the US and torture) Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. San Diego, CA GO here evidently originally pbl. 2012-06-20

Joe Wolverton (2011-11-14). "D.C. Court of Appeals Overturns Release of Gitmo Prisoner". New American. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. "In an opinion streaked with black marks of redaction, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the release order previously entered for Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif."

Benjamin Wittes (2011-11-09). "Latif: A Very Big Deal". Lawfare.

"Judge orders longtime Gitmo detainee released for lack of evidence". CNN. 2010-08-17.

Yemeni psych patient ordered freed - Guantánamo - Archived 15 February 2011 at

Tom Ramstack (2008-09-23). "Federal court won't hear plea for blanket". Washington Times. "While the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene gives [Latif] the right to challenge the fact of his confinement, it says nothing of his right to challenge the conditions of his confinement."

Thomas F. Hogan (2008-09-22). "Guantanamo Bay Detainee Litigation: Doc 471" (PDF). United States Department of Justice.

"Guantanamo prisoner who died challenged his confinement, was rebuffed by Supreme Court". Newser. 2012-09-11. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. "The Guantanamo Bay prisoner who died over the weekend was well-known in legal circles. The prisoner's lawyer identifies him as Adnan Latif, a 32-year-old from Yemen who has been held without charge at the U.S. base in Cuba since January 2002."

"New abuse claims at Guantanamo". Al Jazeera. 2009-04-17. Archived from the original on 2009-04-17

"US says a prisoner has died at Guantanamo; investigation pending into cause". Washington Post. 2012-09-10. Archived from the original on 2012-09-10. "Wells Dixon, a lawyer who has represented a number of Guantanamo prisoners, said the sense of despair among prisoners overall seems to have worsened since the Supreme Court announced in June that it would not review the way courts were handling the men’s individual challenges to their confinement."

Ben Fox (2012-09-10). "Ninth prisoner dies at Guantanamo". Seattle Times. "He was the ninth prisoner to die at the facility since it was opened in January 2002 to hold men suspected of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The military has said two of those deaths were by natural causes and six were declared suicides."

"Another prisoner dies in Guantanamo". New Zealand Herald. 2012-09-11. Archived from the original on 2012-09-10. "The prisoner's name and nationality were not released. But US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release his identity, said he was from Yemen."

Another Desperate Letter from Guantánamo by Adnan Latif: “With All My Pains, I Say Goodbye to You” Andy Worthington A Cry for Help from Guantánamo: Adnan Latif Asks, “Who Is Going to Rescue Me From the Injustice and the Torture I Am Enduring?” Andy Worthington Guantánamo Is “A Piece of Hell That Kills Everything”: A Bleak New Year Message from Yemeni Prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif by Andy Worthington // Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part Three: Captured Crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan Andy Worthington, September 22, 2010


President Obama and Congress should change course and work together to repeal the detention provisions in the NDAA—Sections 1021 and 1022—and ensure that anyone accused of a crime is charged and fairly tried, or released. If you agree, then LET YOUR SENATORS KNOW what we need repealed -- they’ll be working on the 2013 NDAA later this year:


Where Are The Voices Meditating On Love?

COMMENTARY: A Meditation on Love

Professor Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies
The American University in Washington D.C. ; and author of "Discovering Islam:
Making Sense of Muslim History and Society" (Routledge, 2002). You can find plenty more recent links to this scholar and peacemaker's work with a simple search. Here are just a few links: An interview by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show here Op Ed NYT here . Professor Ahmed also wrote the highly acclaimed book "Journey into Islam: the Crisis of Globalization" and led a film crew of youth on an amazing journey which was made into a film here

I awoke praying about the sudden turmoil in many places after a terribly misinformed hateful film seemed to be part of the trigger. When I found the following meditation by this sane and wise Professor, I had great peace and found this man and his words to be so comforting and uniting.

Professor Akbar S. Ahmed wrote the following after he was presented the gift of a book of poems of 'Sacred voices -- East and West':

Muslims are commonly equated in the media with "terrorists" and the Immigration and Naturalization Service's campaign to fingerprint Muslims in the United States has caused anger, dismay and paranoia in the community. The talk about war in Iraq and its possible consequences has been a further cause of concern. The ordinary Iraqi people are suffering terribly for no fault of theirs: first, the brutality of the dictator who rules over them; then the war over a decade ago, which isolated them from the world and created a wall of sanctions around them.

What struck me in the selection was the similarity in the theme and content of the poems: love, spiritual unity, and the oneness of creation. Western, Middle Eastern, and Indian sages; male and female; Muslim, Christian and Hindu -- if the name of the author was concealed it would be impossible to place his or her religion, sex, or region. Take the following six poems:

1. "Close to God":
"One may never have heard the sacred word `Christ," but be closer to God than a priest or nun.
2. "The Christ's Breath":
"I am a hole in a flute that the Christ's breath moves through, listen to this music."
3. "In my Soul":
"In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel. In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church that dissolve, that dissolve in God."
4. "He Asked for Charity":
"God came to my house and asked for charity. And I fell on my knees and cried, `Beloved, what may I give?' `Just love,' He said. `Just love.'"
5. "And Help Him Comfort":
"God has a special interest in women for they can lift this world to their breast and help Him comfort."
6. With Passion"
"With passion pray. With passion make love. With passion eat and drink and dance and play. Why look like a dead fish in this ocean of God?"

The first poem was written by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) who is widely regarded as the greatest Catholic theologian. His experience led him to believe that all in creation were revelations of God's infinite, eternal, expanding being.

It would be logical to assume the second poem is written by a Christian. After all, it is suffused with love for Christ. But a Muslim, Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz (c.1320-1389), wrote it. Hafiz is the most beloved poet of Persia and considered to be one of history's greatest lyrical geniuses. Goethe wrote that "Hafiz has no peer."

The third poem is by Rabia of Basra (c.717-801) who is considered the most popular and influential female Muslim saint in the Sufi tradition. Born nearly 500 years before Maulana Jalaludin Rumi, she perhaps more than any other poet is said to have influenced his writing.

Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), perhaps the most beloved saint of the Western world wrote the fourth poem. The son of a wealthy merchant family, he gave up the good life to pursue his spiritual quest. Once in an old country chapel the painted figure of Jesus on the crucifix said to him, "Francis, go and repair my house, which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin." While in the Middle East there are accounts that St. Francis was in contact with Rumi's master, Shams. Rumi and St. Francis, the two great names in Abrahamic mysticism, thus have a point of contact which reflects their spiritual sense of unity.

The fifth poem is by Mirabai (c.1498-1550) considered the most renowned poet-saint of India. Although Mirabai was born a Hindu princess in Rajasthan in India, her songs are popular with Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the subcontinent.

The final poem is by Rumi (1207-1273), one of the greatest poets in history. What is remarkable about Rumi is his rebirth in our time. He is one of the most popular poets in America. Considering that he was born eight centuries ago in Balkh, Afghanistan, a land that in American minds was until recently associated with the Taliban, this is remarkable indeed. Rumi has transcended time and space to touch our hearts in the 21st century.

Reading the poems I was once again struck by what was common within the great faiths. The voices in this tradition reflect universal compassion and eternal wisdom in their love of the divine. The glowing beauty of their message spreads far from their place of birth and remains to uplift us today. It is a message more relevant than ever in our time of rampant materialism, seductive consumerism and widespread violence.

But as I meditated on the love poems from God, I was also confronted with a disturbing question: where are the voices meditating on love in the 21st century?

Further note from author about the inspiration for this meditation:
Judith Latham (worked for a news service) invited me to speak on Islam to her congregation at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Arlington, Va. As a token of friendship, she presented me with the book, "Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West," edited by Daniel Ladinsky. Judith is a compassionate person and I suspect she thought the poems would uplift me at a time when the discussion around Islam tends to be depressing. She was right. I was not only uplifted but even diverted from the headlines and television news. The drumbeat of war faded in my ears.
Photo credit goes to this amazingly evocative site here

I found this meditation listed with the following news service and received permission September 15, 2012 to post the same on this site, No More Crusades (by Connie L. Nash):

1101 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 350
Washington, DC 20036
(800) 767-6781 - Voice
(202) 463-0033 - Fax

Copyright 2003 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this
transmission may be reproduced without written permission. Index of Daily Report
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Self Same Sky

There are deadly elements among us which seek to spread misinformation through many means. Some of these vehicles are: poorly-informed films, books and articles;
MISINFORMATION or HALF-LIES in media and social networking; reporters and journalists who don't do their own independent work and research; destructive sites who's only INTENT is to fan sensationalism and/or hatred or to appear to themselves or others as superior than all other groups; video games sold for greed only and/or to raise up the next generation of warmongers or recruits for our various wars; and of course political leaders who often seek a position of power or fame by catering to the lowest denominator of a voting block.

SADLY, many of our religious spokespersons and our teachers -- who especially should know better -- are inflaming misunderstanding, prejudging and helping create over time our little and big wars. These and other groups are spewing HATRED over our airways, in various meeting places and from streets, pubs, schools and hand-outs all over the globe.

There is NO religious, political or philosophical group without responsibility in this death and life matter -- not anywhere in the world. IF we really looked at our own nation, group and context for some of these problems, we would be shocked and perhaps hesitate to judge other entire groups again.

How obvious that many of the falsely-informed and the hate-filled extremists are quoted for an entire region, religion or race. Look at what's behind those who seek to clutter and pollute our world with such poison and STOP to consider the source.

Let's let PEACE begun at HOME. Let's forsake any contribution in these destructive wars and that which would fan another crusade.

Let's ALL take responsibility for the peace. Why can't we see that from one perspective, the community which wants love and peace to reign IS the community of us ALL.

Let's inform ourselves, make amends and end hate among our family, friends, spiritual houses of worship and among our contacts on and offline...from where we are NOW...we are not going to do so perfectly...but WE CAN BEGIN NOW...

To begin, go to the proper sources for your information. First of all, seek accurate information about other places and histories. Look at things from a different perspective than you've always done. Often it's fear of letting go long-held prejudices or our sometimes fear-based theologies and outlooks that prevent u from doing so...What about starting with another sort of map or an interesting geographic
This Mapparium (a spherical stained glass room) in Boston was designed to allow the countries of the world to be viewed in accurate geographical relationship to each other. It is usually assumed that a globe solves this problem; but since it is viewed from the outside, different parts of the globe are at different distances from the eye and are thus distorted by perspective.

Here are some other suggestions:

Innocence of Muslims is a 2012 American religious and political film that allegedly triggered the September 11, 2012 storming of the United States Embassy in Cairo here

Does Islam tolerate the killing of innocents? Myths here

Cal Astrin of Fairfax, Va. asks: Is there something within Islam that justifies the killing of innocents (any more than any other sacred scripture or belief system?) GO here

Islam does not tolerate the killing of innocents CLICK here

Last but not least, GO to The WORLD WITHOUT HATE website -- CLICK here and join the movement for such a world. Now more than ever we need to be conveyers of love and truth. The founder of the World Without Hate movement, Rais Bhuiyan was himself attacked by a hate crime and responded by forgiving and inspiring life-giving ways to respond to destructive acts.

WHY NOT? What do we have to lose? What might we gain? How might the legacy we leave to our children and world improve?

The map image above -- interactive from the INSIDE -- speaks to each of us taking on NEW perspectives and making LOVE not hate an INSIDE job.

The site where I found this image is a bulletin-board collage -- the most interesting site I found in a very short search -- where users pin-up what they like in a random way. There are a wide variety of map-related items -- some quite interesting -- some rather counter-productive and misled. So neither do I -- nor does the host of this site -- endorse or even reflect on every pinned-up item.

Plz use only what is good for you and the planet.) To see this site GO to here

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Penalty for Torture

The New York Times

September 4, 2012
No Penalty for Torture

Any remaining hope for imposing meaningful accountability for torture and other abuses committed against prisoners under President George W. Bush has ended, for all practical purposes.

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced that no one would be prosecuted for the brutal deaths of two prisoners held in C.I.A. custody.

One of the prisoners, a suspected militant named Gul Rahman, died in 2002 after being shackled to a concrete wall in near-freezing temperatures in a secret C.I.A. prison in Afghanistan. The other, Manadel al-Jamadi, died in C.I.A. custody in 2003 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where his corpse was photographed wrapped in plastic.

In his statement, Mr. Holder suggested that the decision not to bring prosecutions should not be seen as a moral exoneration but a sign that the record was not “sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”

The public deserves a more detailed explanation of why charges could not be brought. In these egregious cases, it appears as though the C.I.A. interrogators tortured prisoners to death, going beyond even the harsh techniques authorized by the infamous torture memos cooked up by Justice Department lawyers to try to justify the unjustifiable. Not pursuing criminal charges may remove an avenue of attack against the Obama administration by Republicans, who continue to defend the use of torture. But absent a more persuasive explanation, the implications for the rule of law are deeply troubling.

In June 2011, Mr. Holder said that about 100 cases of detainee treatment had been reviewed and none warranted further investigation. The decision not to bring charges on these last two cases puts into sharp and shameful focus the Obama administration’s overall record of trying to avoid legal scrutiny of Bush-era abuses.

Not only have those responsible escaped criminal liability, but the administration has succeeded in denying victims of the harsh methods any day in court, using exaggerated claims of secrecy and executive power to get federal judges, who should know better, to toss out claims for civil relief. The broad denial of justice to victims disgraces both the administration and the courts.

At the start of his administration, President Obama said he wanted to “look forward,” not back, on the actions of C.I.A. interrogators. In practice, the administration has chosen to look back selectively, eschewing prosecutions and civil relief for victims while pursuing criminal charges against a former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, on charges he disclosed the identity of other C.I.A. officers who participated in the interrogations.

These are not old, musty issues that the nation has moved beyond and the public can afford to ignore. Just a few months ago, during the Republican primary campaign, Mitt Romney expressed support for the use of waterboarding as a counterterrorism method, and he even denied that it amounts to torture. In the absence of any sort of legal accountability, there is no assurance that this lawless practice would not happen again.

More in Opinion NYT for Sept 4, 2012