I'm writing this from Black Mountain, NC. It's early and the mountains are beginning to stir. I'm up to soak in as much of the cool(er), crisp mountain air as I can. This is the last session of a seasonal retreat series I began last Autumn called, "Holy Listening in a Circle of Trust". The series is based on the work of Parker Palmer and draws from Quaker traditions of communal discernment. It's been a truly meaningful experience and I'm sad to see it end.<read more>
I got involved with this series on the urging of a good friend who has been involved in these types of retreats for a while. I trust him explicitly and when I learned the retreats would be held in the mountains, it was a no-brainer. For as long as I can remember, I've held a spiritual connection to the North Carolina mountains. Plus I had read Palmer's work and was intrigued to go deeper into the themes he writes about.
An artificial divide
by Darrin Snyder Belousek
There were several things that attracted me to the Mennonite-Christian tradition-discipleship, community, simplicity, service, and, of course, peace. In my fifteen years among the Mennonites, however, I have observed two disconcerting tendencies in the Mennonite peace ethic.<read more>
First, too often we practice peacemaking as if peace were the fruit of our good intentions and hard work. We thus neglect two things: the reality of the persistence of sin in ourselves and our world despite our best intentions, and the need for divine grace to sustain the spiritual fertility of human effort. Consequently, Mennonite peace activism can often be a cause of frustration (when our intentions falter) or an occasion for pride (when our efforts "succeed").
by Merrill R. Miller
"Otterville" is copyrighted and is not to be reproduced in any form without permission. Contact Merrill Miller at <MerrillM@MennoMedia.org><read more>
A bill set to be introduced soon in the U.S. House of Representatives would open up 55,000 more green cards for immigrants who have graduated from U.S. colleges in certain high-tech fields. On its face, this might seem like a good idea.<read more>
However, it is important to remember that policies like this would contribute to brain drain in the countries sending these students. Moreover, rather than creating 55,000 new green cards, the proposal would take these slots from what is called the Diversity Visa Lottery, virtually the only way someone can immigrate to the U.S. if they do not have a job lined up or family already here. More than 16 million people applied for the lottery in 2011.
Matthew 25 came rushing back to me as I read the news this morning. It seems there is a controversy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee regarding the expansion of a mosque there. For two years now, all sorts of folks have been attempting to halt its expansion by legal means and by illegal means, including arson. And as I read this I found myself thinking about other places here in the United States where such things have happened or are happening - including the opposition to the building of the mosque at Ground Zero, which by the way, isn't even at Ground Zero, but a few blocks away.<read more>
As I read the news this morning, all I could think about was that twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew which is so packed with what would amount to a condemnation of the behavior that leads people - many of whom consider themselves to be good Christians - to forbid the building of these mosques. When Jesus taught us that the people who were invited into his kingdom, were those who could recognize that "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." (25:35), he knew exactly what he was talking about.