Love Kindness. Do Justice. Change the World ... Right Now!
Love Kindness. Do Justice. Change the World ... Right Now!
Cough, cough, hack, gasp! That's the sound of the TPC Editor's asthma in the midst of Dallas' Grade F-quality air, which bodes to get worse after the Obama Administration's latest environmental faux pas.
Despite two weeks of demonstrations involving the arrest of some 1,252 people at the White House, the U.S. State Department has given the go-ahead for the hotly debated Keystone XL Pipeline to bring the filthiest form of crude oil from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. According to the New York Times, "The project still must clear several hurdles, including endorsement by other federal agencies, additional studies, public hearings and consultation with the states through which the pipeline will pass. But all signs point to the Obama administration approving the project by the end of the year, perhaps with modifications."
Then, as if that slap weren't enough, President Obama has suspended EPA enforcement of air quality standards for fear it will damage the fragile economy (which, by the way, posted no new job gains in August).
In a press release issued Sept. 3, the organization Tar Sands Action, spearheaded by environmentalist and United Methodist layman Bill McKibben, stated:
WASHINGTON– The largest environmental civil disobedience in decades concluded at the White House this morning with organizers pledging to escalate a nationwide campaign to push President Obama to deny the permit for a new tar sands oil pipeline.
“Given yesterday’s [Sept. 2] baffling cave on ozone standards, the need for a fighting environmental movement has never been more clear,” said Bill McKibben, who spearheaded the protest. “That movement is being born right here in front of the White House and reverberating around the country.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election and sparked nationwide opposition, from Nebraska ranchers to former Obama campaigners. A petition with 617,428 names opposing the pipeline will be delivered to the White House today.
Over the course of the two-week sit-in 1,252 people were arrested, including top climate scientists, landowners from Texas and Nebraska, former Obama for America staffers, First Nations leaders from Canada, and notable individuals including Bill McKibben, former White House official Gus Speth, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, actor Daryl Hannah, filmmaker Josh Fox, and author Naomi Klein.
... McKibben also announced at the protest that the movement will continue organizing, with a Phase Two announcement within 48 hours. Click here to be the first to know details when they’re announced.
TPC's Take: Care of creation requires that we give up some of our worst habits, especially over-consumption of fossil fuels. Rather than support licenses for hazardous polluters as a way to shore up America's fragile economy, more push for "green" fuels and businesses seems to us to be the more biblically oriented public policy. By treating resources with care, we demonstrate our love of God and the good world that the Creator has provided at the same time we love our neighbors through preserving the planet on which we all live.
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Groundswell, a new multifaith voice for justice and social action, launches Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 PM with the panel, "Out of the Shadows of 9/11: Millennials, Moral Vision, and the Global Groundswell," at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC, 44 Charlton Street, New York, NY.
Panelists will reflect on the last decade and explore the possibilities for a multifaith movement for justice this fall, in the 2012 election cycle, and through the coming decade. Four visionary thought leaders will explore this topic:
The Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, president of Auburn Seminary where Groundswell is housed, hosts the panel.
Groundswell's first social action campaign, Groundswell of Community, supports campuses and congregations to commemorate 9/11 through remembrance and renewal, whether through vigils or film screenings or service projects. The campaign organizes people across the U.S. to stand together against anti-Muslim bigotry as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
TPC's Take: Sounds promising. Learn more.
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Fighting between Christian and Muslim youths in Jos, Nigeria, has left 50 people dead as of Sept. 5, according to a New York Times report. Jos is the capital of central Nigeria's Plateau State, a site of recent ethnic and religious unrest. The latest outbreaks reportedly began when Christian youths attacked Muslims at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Plateau State stretches across parts of Nigeria's mostly Christian southern and largely Muslim northern regions.
TPC's Take:Prayer and watchfulness are definitely in order, along with support of any faith-based peacemaking efforts in the region. As Huffington Post Religion Editor Paul Raushenbush writes, religion can be a bomb in the midst of community, or a mighty force for peace and reconciliation. Nigeria is experiencing the first; who or what will foster the second in one of Africa's largest nations?
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"God help us," was the plea of one exhausted evacuee from wildfires in Texas, where more than 700 homes burned over the Labor Day weekend east of Austin, the state capital located in the center of the Lone Star State. Meanwhile, another fire in East Texas took the life of a young mother and her 18-month-old child when their mobile home was engulfed in flames. Winds from Tropical Storm Lee over Louisiana have driven the fires at such speed that firefighters can't stop them.
TPC's Take: We can smell the smoke here in Dallas, a good 250 miles north of the afflicted region. Pray for the safety of evacuees, firefighters and other emergency personnel, as well as comfort and compassion for fire victims in shock at losing their homes and livelihoods. A prayer for the end of the severe drought that fuels this wildfires wouldn't be amiss, either.
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Finally, what the heck is up with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the 9/11 memorial event?
First, Bloomberg refused to invite first responders to attend the ceremony that will be headed by President Obama. Now he has barred clergy from the memorial event, claiming that clergy haven't been part of past events and there's no need to invite them now.
TPC's Take: Hizzoner has definitely missed the Staten Island Ferry on this one. Keeping out first responders is just plain dumb. The excuse is that space is limited and it's being reserved for the families of the victims from the Twin Towers. Yet first responders also were traumatized by the attacks on 9/11 and they still risked their lives trying to save people. We repeat: Keeping them out of the ceremony is just plain dumb! Send a few politicians home instead. In fact, a truly smart politician might even give up his or her 9/11 invitation in favor of a representative from the first responders.
Furthermore, Mayor Bloomberg has missed a major opportunity to stick it to radical Islamist terrorists who have hijacked a religion. What's wrong with having a Christian and a Muslim open and close the ceremony with prayer? Better still, why not have clergy and laity representatives from the world's five major religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism -- each give a reading about peace from their sacred scriptures?
With the exception of Buddhism, to our best knowledge the other four major faiths all have sad experience with terrorists who have committed horrific acts of violence in the name of their religion. What better way to refute the perversion of religion's highest values than to show interfaith unity at the commemoration of such a terrible attack?
A wide array of faith-based 9/11 events can be found in TPC's Events section. Likewise, kudos to the Huffington Post for offering spiritual reflections from 9/11 chaplains.