UCC President On Wright Controversy

***The Rev. John Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ:Many of us would prefer to avoid the stark and startling language Pastor Wright used in these clips.  But what was his real crime?  He is condemned for using a mild “obscenity” in reference to the United States.  This week we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war conceived in deception and prosecuted in foolish arrogance.  Nearly four thousand cherished Americans have been killed, countless more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered.  Where is the real obscenity here?  True patriotism requires a degree of self-criticism, even self-judgment that may not always be easy or genteel.  Pastor Wright’s judgment may be starker and more sweeping than many of us are prepared to accept.  But is the soul of our nation served any better by the polite prayers and gentle admonitions that have gone without a real hearing for these five years while the dying and destruction continues? *** For Rev. Thomas’ entire response to the Rev. Wright controversy.***At Trinity UCC March 2, 2008: 


Witnessing for Peace: A Pastoral Letter from Rev. William G. Sinkford

March 14, 2008

Dear Friends, It has been five long years of war and occupation in Iraq. Five years. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead; many more wounded and maimed. An unknown number of Iraqi dead, some estimate a million; certainly hundreds of thousands. And millions of Iraqis displaced from their homes.Many of you, like me, have been praying and protesting this war, since before it began. There are some things we know:We know that the invasion of Iraq and the occupation were based on lies.We know that our nation chose to act unilaterally, disregarding the international community.We know that if there had been no oil beneath those sands, and no oil in the region, this war would never have taken place.And we know that this war has squandered the reputation of this nation; squandered the sympathy and solidarity the rest of the world felt for us after 9/11.We know all of these things.We know that the financial cost of this war, ultimately to be measured in trillions of dollars, has made the United States a debtor nation.But perhaps the greatest cost has been to the spirit, to the soul of this nation.We like to see ourselves as innocent. We like to see ourselves as fair, compassionate and kind. We like to see ourselves as freedom-loving and freedom-promoting. The Iraq war has stripped that self-image away from us. Given our actions in Iraq, innocence is no longer an option for us. We have been acting like an empire.There is, of course, a value in faithfulness, a value in continuing to raise our voices. But I have to acknowledge that it would be easy to stay in lamentation. It would be easy to simply critique and complain about the actions…and the inactions of our government.As people of faith, we have to go deeper.Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

“In the peace movement there is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding. The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter.”

What would a love letter to our leaders look like? For me, such a letter would move beyond criticism and search for a ground of hope. For me, such a letter would lift up a vision of what we can become, as well as acknowledge who we are.The first paragraph would call our nation to confession. We need to acknowledge that we made a huge mistake by invading Iraq and that, as a result, the world is a more dangerous place today than it was five years ago. And we need to ask understanding and forgiveness for our mistake.We should tell the world, and ourselves, that we are now willing to move into right relationship with the community of nations. We need to promise to hold the values of justice, equity, compassion, and honesty in high regard. We should promise to search for win-win, not we-win solutions.We might tell the world that religious differences can be a blessing, not a curse. And that the heart of all of the world’s great faith traditions, including Islam, rests in the power of love, not hate.The world should hear from us that the interdependent web of existence does not end at our borders.And I would tell the world, and ourselves, that we want not only to reclaim the image, but to create the reality of Americans as fair, compassionate and kind people. We want to become the kind of people we thought we were.As a person of faith, I know that peace will not come because we simply wish for it, or even pray for it.Peace will only come when we begin to embody it, when we begin to make it real in our personal lives and in the life of this nation.Although we are marking five years of war, this is the season of rebirth and renewal, the season which every year offers the promise of the transformation of despair into hope. This can be a time of hope. This can be a time when we commit ourselves to the creation of the Beloved Community.May we hold the vision of what can be in our hearts. It can see us through.In faith,William G. SinkfordPresident,Unitarian Universalist Association of CongregationsView this message (Windows Media) (Realmedia) (QuickTime)

Iceland Could Resume Whaling – Please Act

View this petition and your signature at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/185576194


Spread the Word and Help Us Stop Iceland from Resuming WhalingWe’ll succeed in stopping whaling with your help and the help of your friends. Please tell your friends about our petition and ask them to sign. Use our simple tell-a-friend tool or simply send your friends a personal email and forward them this link to our petition: http://go.care2.com/iceland 


Justice Defends Spitzer Tactics

NY Times (Johnston and Shenon): U.S. Defends Tough Tactics With SpitzerThe Justice Department used some of its most intrusive tactics against Eliot Spitzer, examining his financial records, eavesdropping on his phone calls and tailing him during its criminal investigation of the Emperor’s Club prostitution ring. The scale and intensity of the investigation of Mr. Spitzer, then the governor of New York, seemed on its face to be a departure for the Justice Department, which aggressively investigates allegations of wrongdoing by public officials, but almost never investigates people who pay prostitutes for sex.

Liberal Groups Get it Together

NY Times (The Caucus Blog): United Liberal FrontA coalition of liberal groups will coordinate $350 million worth of efforts to mobilize voters and advocate for candidates for the general election, its leaders are expected to announce Tuesday. They are billing it as the largest such effort ever across the liberal spectrum. MoveOn.org, labor groups like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win, and other organizations like Acorn, Women’s Voices Women Vote and the National Council of La Raza will be taking part in the effort for the presidential election and House and Senate races.

Greg Palast: The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

Greg Palast has a different take on the Spitzer downfall.  I’d like to think Palast has the real reasons–not just hubris and middle-aged male insecurity.  Remember:  “Even paranoids have real enemies!”
Roll your mouse over the link below and click on the Snapshot to play Palast on Air America’s “Clout”: 

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan | Iraq Veterans Against the War


Clicking on the above link will take you to the home page of IVAW, where you can watch live the 21st century edition of hearings with a name all of us of a certain age remember well.