We're back: Two issues of PeaceSigns this month! I hope you've had a chance to read through the special issue of Peacesigns we released on Tax Day that focused on war tax and tax resistance. You can find that issue here <http://peace.mennolink.org/cgi-bin/m.pl?i=98><read more>
This issue of PeaceSigns reutrns to reflecting a variety of voices and issues dealing with peace. In the issue we find powerful words form Ron Byler on what it would mean to tear down walls. Jess Epp-Frasen celebrates the healing and hope found in restorative justice. Brother James Dowd exclaims, "Alleluia!". We also have a piece from Carol Knieriem examining ways we can help keep our children protected. And Peacesigns wouldn't be the same without Merrill Miller and Otterville.
Tearing down the walls of hostility
by J. Ron Byler
I stood on the hill in the twilight in Nogales, Arizona looking down over the border wall into Mexico. How broken our relationships must be in to make a wall like this one, twenty feet high for hundreds of miles, necessary.<read more>
I was with a group of staff from Mennonite Central Committee from all over the Americas who had gathered in Tucson to strategize our future work together to help tear down this wall.
Tearing down this wall will mean caring for people in need on both sides of the border, whether or not they have the right papers.
Who isn't for protecting children?
by Carol Knieriem
My friend, Becky, was molested by her youth pastor when she was 15 years old. At age 42, Becky still struggles with the consequences of, not only the abuse she suffered directly from her youth pastor, but the lack of supportive response from her church family (she was told not to talk to anyone about it, he was slapped on the hand and sent on his merry way). Now, every time she enters a church building, or is asked to allow her son to go on an outing with his youth group she fears the worst. It's amazing that she even attends church and continues to believe in God after a leader in her church, whom she looked up to, violated her.<read more>
Has your church recently been dealing with allegations of abuse? Maybe not, and I hope you never will, but right now some Mennonite churches are struggling deeply with how to handle such allegations.
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>
Restorative justice works! This was the message of the Day of Justice held in Fresno, California, on March 16, 2012. The conference, put on by West Coast Mennonite Central Committee, featured members of local law enforcement, a judge, a leading advocate for the "three strikes" law in California, and members of the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) in Fresno.<read more>
The participants brought varied opinions and a range of perspectives on restorative justice. Restorative justice is a perspective on addressing crime that puts healing and community support at the heart of its action. While some speakers were cautious of giving full support to the restorative justice model, other panelists, such as Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza, expressed being confident that restorative justice was the direction law enforcement needed to move.
Being an Episcopalian means that I come from a catholic liturgical tradition, which is quite different from the Anabaptist tradition of the Mennonite Church. While I love our liturgy, as a monk, I sometimes wish that we could find a little more silence in our tradition - but not at this time of year, not at Easter-tide This period, which extends fifty days from Easter Sunday until Pentecost is a joyous period in which we sing a great deal. And the single word that we sing most often has got to be "Alleluia."<read more>
Alleluia is one of my favorite words. The root of the word translates from the Hebrew as "praise God." And during Easter-tide, we monks are saying, chanting, or singing "alleluia" all day long. The liturgical excitement of the word "alleluia" might be better translated as "Hooray, praise God, yippie, praise God, I'm so happy, praise God." We do this praising of God in our Offices, our Eucharist, and at other prayers we say throughout the day both communally and individually. And, while we pray "alleluia" at most other times of the year (except during Lent), we really go wild with it during Easter-tide