“. . . it is basically fear that prevents Bishops and governments. . . from taking a stand against the rich and powerful and on behalf of the weak and marginalized. . . “ (Rev. Naim Ateek)

PLEASE NOTE: IN SOME SORT OF SENESCENT MIX-UP WITH MYSELF, I POSTED THIS HERE INSTEAD OF ON MY OTHER BLOG WHERE IT WAS INTENDED. I APPRECIATE YOUR READING IT IN SPITE OF MY ERROR, AND PLEASE VISIT THE BLOG WHERE IT WAS INTENDED TO APPEAR. THANK YOU.

St. George Episcopal Cathedral,. Jerusalem. Not a mirage.

St. George Episcopal Cathedral,. Jerusalem. Not a mirage.

Some time ago I was getting onto the elevator at a favorite Dallas movie theater, when another old coot who couldn’t manage the long staircase said to me, “Does such a place even exist?”

He was referencing my T-shirt, which was from St. George’s Anglican Seminary in Jerusalem. Yes, I explained. I’ve stayed there twice on trips to Palestine. The Cathedral and Seminary were founded in 1920, long before the state of Israel.

He obviously did not believe me. I have had the same reaction other times when I have worn the shirt.

This posting has nothing to do with my religious beliefs except that I must state the caveat that my theological ideas these days (as I have written before) have little to do with a belief in God, but have everything to do with the justice and mercy and ethics of what I perceive to be the essence of Christianity. I used to be a confirmed and (marginally) believing Episcopalian (Anglican), but to say that I am now would be stretching the idea to the breaking point.

So I have no standing for any of what I am about to write. So be it.

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA recently voted not to proceed with divesting itself from stock in companies that profit from the illegal “settlements” of Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem, internationally-recognized sovereign territory of the Palestinian people. (A description of the bishops’ vote is here.)

An aside: I believe we should be exact in our language and call the settlers what they really are: “squatters.” (dictionary.com: squatter, “a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent”). But that’s an issue for another day.

Surprisingly (at least to me) the American bishops took their stand at the urging of the Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem.|
I am happy to correct this because this is Apparently not true, but is a misrepresentation by the Episcopal News Service.  See this article.

“. . . it is basically fear that prevents Bishops and governments. . . from taking a stand against the rich and powerful and on behalf of the weak and marginalized. . . “ (Rev. Naim Ateek)

The Rev. Naim Ateek is a Palestinian Episcopal priest who in the 1980s was Dean of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. In 1991 he founded the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, which is now an international organization working for justice for the Palestinian people.

The Rev. Naim Ateek

The Rev. Naim Ateek

In response to the vote of the American Episcopal House of Bishops choosing not to antagonize such groups as AIPAC in the US or the Knesset in Israel, Naim Ateek has written letters to the House of Bishops and to the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina.

Both documents are detailed statements describing the theological issues raised by the Bishops’ vote.

I suggest that anyone interested in either justice or theology read Naim Ateek’s statements.

I was annoyed when the stranger on the elevator questioned the existence of an institution in Jerusalem that is not Jewish (I assume that was his disbelief).  I’ll have to suggest that FOSNA create t-shirts to sell.

Naim Ateek’s responses are available here.
Click on the links:

  • Naim Ateek’s letter to PB-elect Michael Curry
  • Naim Ateek’s response to the Episcopal Bishops’ vote

Another discussion of  the vote of the House of Bishops, Episcopal Church USA.
Biographical sketch of Rev. Naim Ateek.
Daily news from Palestine not available in American media.

Episcopal House of Bishops Annual Meeting Voting Down BDS, 2015

Episcopal House of Bishops Annual Meeting Voting Down BDS, 2015

“. . . small nightmares that I hope will develop into great dreams. . .” (Mourid Barghouti)

Ali Hassanein, a 54-year-old oud maker works in Ramallah. Every day life in Palestine. (Photo MaanImages)

Ali Hassanein, a 54-year-old oud maker works in Ramallah. Every day life in Palestine. (Photo MaanImages)

I’m going to stop saying I’m retired except as part of my quirky attempt at a sense of humor. It’s not true.

Dictionary.com:
retire v.
1. to withdraw, or go away or apart, to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion
2. to go to bed

Yesterday morning I played the organ at First Presbyterian Church in Plano, TX, went to lunch at a famed Dallas barbecue spot with a friend, saw the exhibition of “The Abelló Collection: A Modern Taste for European Masters” at the Meadows Museum in the afternoon, had dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and spent the evening packing and preparing for my week-long excursion to North Carolina with my friend.

We have movie and museum and other loosely-formed plans to spend the week “out and about.”

Because I’ll be in the Great Smoky Mountains, I will miss tutoring at the university Academic Development of Student Athletes where I do the most important teaching of my 35-year career I’ll miss my regular schedule with my trainer, and square dancing next Sunday, and my meetings of that anonymous secret society I belong to, and playing the organ next Sunday, and. . .

Hardly seems like going “away or apart, to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion.”

In a sense, however, in my mind I live in a place of privacy. I privately reject doing anything I don’t want to do. I’m learning to say “No” when that’s what I want to say and to say “Yes” to the activities I want to participate in.

Most of us don’t worry about leaving a “legacy.” If I had children and grandchildren, I’d have a somewhat different take on that idea. However, the legacy of family is a personal matter that has little to do with what anyone else thinks. I do have a few interesting, if not valuable, things I hope my nieces and nephews will enjoy having to remember me by, but that’s about it. I’m not the rich uncle.

Then there’s all this stuff I’ve written and posted for the past 12 years that’s floating around out there in cyberspace. I’m told it’s there forever, or at least until climate change finally does human society in.

All this stuff I’ve written is one of the most important aspects of my not going “to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion.” This is, however, not as obvious a statement as it might seem. I’ve written recently about all of this and posted it in “the cloud.”

I’m 70 years old. Never in my life have I been ambitious, physically fit, “driven” accomplishing much with my time here. No, I’m basically meek and weak and (perhaps?) lazy. That I am not the rich uncle is testimony in itself to my being a part of Henry David Thoreau’s “mass of men [who] live lives of quiet desperation.” I feel desperation from time to time―but I’m too often not quiet about it.

A couple of “causes,” however, inspire me to work and participation. They keep me from going to a place of privacy and seclusion.

One of those is the Aberg Center for Literacy in Dallas, about which I’ve written here several times.

The Aberg Center offers ESL classes and GED preparation to adults. The Center is, I believe, the most important place where I practice being neither secluded nor desperate. I feel more joy as a volunteer teacher there than in anything else I do (with the possible exception of tutoring football players). Sentences that are not a “run-on” sentences that students from Aberg write 20 years from now are part of my “legacy.”

The stuff I’ve posted in Cyberspace is part of my legacy. That is not obvious.

Preparations are underway in the Old City of Jerusalem for the holy night of Laylat al-Qader on Monday.

Preparations are underway in the Old City of Jerusalem for the holy night of Laylat al-Qader on Monday.

I have other blogs than this one. One is an exercise in what might look like futility or grandiosity. Perhaps that is more than a perception.

However, I post it―almost daily―for the sole purpose of posting it. That blog is not really my own. It’s a small collection of news stories other people have written brought together in a digest often related (at least tangentially) to a poem I have discovered.

I spend the time (up to a couple of hours daily) compiling that blog simply for the sake of doing it. Simply because someone must do it.

The poems the news stories (peripherally) relate to are by writers from Palestine or who are Palestinians living in the Diaspora of displaced Palestinians.

I collect the poetry and the news stories because it has to be done. It is necessary that there is a tiny edge of Cyberspace devoted to telling daily real-life stories from the point of view of Palestinians and trying to relate them to expressions of the inner life and experience of the Palestinian people, i.e. relating news about life in Palestine to snippets of the 1,000-year literary tradition of the Palestinians.

Someone has to do this, and I have the time and skill for the job. (I hope you will check the blog, Palestine InSight .)

It does not matter if no one or one person or a thousand people read it daily. It must exist in Cyberspace. On the day someone needs it, for whatever reason, it will be there. If I do not do it, no one will. It’s that simple.

I spend a few minutes (nearly) every day not being secluded or desperate by simply giving myself to a necessary task and having no desire or belief that I am accomplishing something. I don’t know. What I do know is that it has to be done because some day in some way I can’t know, someone will need it.

“Retirement” could well be going “away or apart, to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion.” Or it can mean going away or apart to do one’s most important lifework.

“I Have No Problem” by Mourid Barghouti

I look at myself:
I have no problem.
I look all right
and, to some girls,
my grey hair might even be attractive;
my eyeglasses are well made,
my body temperature is precisely thirty seven,
my shirt is ironed and my shoes do not hurt.
I have no problem.
My hands are not cuffed,
my tongue has not been silenced yet,
I have not, so far, been sentenced
and I have not been fired from my work;
I am allowed to visit my relatives in jail,
I’m allowed to visit some of their graves in some countries.
I have no problem.
I am not shocked that my friend
has grown a horn on his head.
I like his cleverness in hiding the obvious tail
under his clothes, I like his calm paws.
He might kill me, but I shall forgive him
for he is my friend;
he can hurt me every now and then.
I have no problem.
The smile of the TV anchor
does not make me ill any more
and I’ve got used to the Khaki stopping my colours
night and day.
That is why
I keep my identification papers on me, even at
the swimming pool.
I have no problem.
Yesterday, my dreams took the night train
and I did not know how to say goodbye to them.
I heard the train had crashed
in a barren valley
(only the driver survived).
I thanked God, and took it easy
for I have small nightmares
that I hope will develop into great dreams.
I have no problem.
I look at myself, from the day I was born till now.
In my despair I remember
that there is life after death;
there is life after death
and I have no problem.
But I ask:
Oh my God,
is there life before death?

Translated by Radwa Ashour
From Barghouti, Mourid. MIDNIGHT AND OTHER POEMS. Trans. Radwa Ashour. Todmorden, UK: Arc Publications, 2008.
About Mourid Barghouti

Israeli forces raided Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem early Monday and threatened locals, witnesses said. Every Day Life in Palestine.

Israeli forces raided Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem early Monday and threatened locals, witnesses said. Every Day Life in Palestine.