(28 min audio) “Which God do you serve? God of Empire or God of Creation?” Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 Reflection by Frank Cordaro 1st Presbyterian Church, Des Moines, IA. Text: 1 Sam 8:10-18 & John 18:33- 9:8
In this reflection I lay out my historical/literary Method of reading the Bible. I explain how this non credal, non dogmatic way of reading scriptures is both radical in the best senses, meaning getting back to Jesus and following him. And necessary given the dark spiritual times Christians live in the USA.
It was not a well prepared talk. I misspoke a couple of times. It was given more from my heart than my head. It is a reflection I hope to give again. And I would welcome any feed back …
I don’t believe a Jewish State has a right to exist. This does not make me anti-Semitic any more than my believing a Muslim or Christian state has no right to exist in our modern times makes me anti-Muslim or anti-Christian. It’s just a political position. However, I do have real and deeply held religious issues with the State of Israel.
By large majorities, world opinion believes Israel is committing war crimes on people in Gaza and has for decades. Israel’s only real ally on the world scene is the United States and its bought-and-paid-for global partners (but not their people).
The State of Israel, just like every second-tier nation trying to exist in the 3- to 5-nation “superpower” global struggle today, knows it must play to its strongest superpower friend. As the No. 1 U.S. ally in the region, Israel knows it has license to do whatever it deems necessary to defend itself, just as long as it presents its lies to the world in the same language and narrative as a client state for the U.S.
It is the bigger U.S. lies that make this a religious issue for me. One of our most deeply held national lies are those we used to justify the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. (That’s why every Aug 6-9 for over 30 years Catholic Workers host a 3½-day vigil and witness at the main entrance of Offutt Air Force Base, just south of Omaha. Offutt is the home of STRACOM, the U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear weapons global systems.)
If the U.S. can continue to justify our nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an obvious war crime, the State of Israel can do just about anything it deems necessary to the people in Gaza.
And this is my religious problem with the U.S.-Israel relationship. In the 2,000-year Christian journey, we U.S. Christians have managed to switch sides in the Jesus vs. Caesar conflict. In biblical terms, the U.S. is the most un-Christian nation in the world and is better known in world opinion as the crucifiers of the world’s poor and oppressed, than as those who stand with the poor, oppressed and crucified.
Until Christians in the U.S. start dealing with our national lies that glorify violence and all the U.S.-led wars in our lifetimes, we will continue to confuse being faithful to Jesus with our allegiance to the U.S. empire and the death hold our way of life has on the planet.
— Frank Cordaro, Phil Berrigan Catholic Worker House, Des Moines
Report and photos from Aug 6-9 Hiroshima & Nagasaki vigil at STRATCOM … featuring article by Mark Kenney
A total of 13 people made it out for some time during our annual 3 1/2 day “shake and bake” August Vigil at STRATCOM, reaching double digits just once at the end of the vigil on Aug 9th when we gathered around for a public reading of Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb”
Not a lot to report. The weather was cool and overcast the whole time, a little wet at first.
Not a lot to report Doesn’t mean not much happened. Check out Mark Kenney’s account of his encounter with a young mother and her three small kids at the vigil below.
You old-timers, check out Corey Zimmer’s new beard in the photo slideshow …
"It just never occurred to me that folks could grow up without being exposed to that horrific imagery of Hiroshima …” by Mark Kenney
During this years vigil at Offutt AFB, commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a young woman and her young children approached us. Her first comment really kind of caught me off guard. Upon seeing our signs, she had Googled on her iPhone the word Hiroshima and was appalled at the imagery and devastation that appeared on her phone. Being part of the boomer generation, It just never occurred to me that folks could grow up without being exposed to that horrific kind of imagery. It was quite a generational eye opener for me and perhaps for her also.
She said she was a teacher and she tried to teach her students an honest and accurate account of how our country dealt with Native Americans and Black Americans. Again she commented on the horrific imagery she saw on her iPhone. Yet she was concerned with the strong statement of one of our banners, used the words “unpunished war crimes.” She strongly felt this went too far and was too judgmental.
And then she courageously professed she was a Christian. I professed I also was a Christian.
After our acknowledged shared faith in Christ, we exchanged our understanding of repentance, acknowledgement of sins and what a healthy Christian rebuke might look like.
During our highly charged, faith-filled exchange, I could empathize with her struggles to rebuke us for being too judgmental and too divisive on this issue. After all, in this too short of an exchange, she had just been exposed for the first time to the imagery of the horror of what we did on Aug. 6 & 9, 1945. I have many years of experience both in the military, in brigs, jails, and prisons to think and reflect upon what our culture is and what we are capable of.
I also know the high price a Christian has to pay for trying to open a hole in the blanket of immunity American Christians and their leaders bestrode on U.S.-lead wars. It certainly has been so for me.
Then she did something very unexpected, inspired and courageous. She had her little children and herself kneel down in the grass right there on the side of the highway in front of the base and fervently prayed to our Lord for understanding, forgiveness and repentance. Her genuineness was easily recognizable. I took off my hat and bowed in reverence for being a witness of this beautiful Christian woman and her children, taking their concerns and pleas to our lord and Savior right then and there.
By the time I raised my head at the end of their very moving prayer, they left as quickly as they came. I didn’t get her name or those her young children. Because of the noise of the road and the airfield, no one else in our group was able to hear or follow much of the conversation or even noticed her family’s fervent prayer.
All I can say is the young mother was affected deeply by the imagery of what she saw and she was trying to understand why it still mattered after so many years to a generation that wasn’t really a part of it. I was affected deeply by her sincerity and genuineness and her public prayer witness.
I was also affected by her concern that we may be too harsh and judgmental. I certainly don’t think our banners were over the top or our presence was overly judgmental, considering the issue and the day. Still, I have to admit it can be a challenge for me to resist falling into a sort of cynically superior type of mindset. Especially as I try to non-violently dialogue, resist, or rebuke the activities of Christian brothers and sisters I so vehemently disagree with.
After so many years, it can be a challenge to keep looking to find the right words and activities all the while maintaining a serious sense of discernment of where my heart and spirit may be at any given moment .
I have to admit it has become easier for me to fall into a kind of auto-pilot, cookie-cutter, if not a knee-jerk response, to some of the horrific issues that plague our society today. As a professed Christian peace activist, this young lady and her children reminded me I must always guard against this kind of self righteous arrogance, even if it can be so tempting, considering what’s going on in the world today.
Two-day trial of the DM St. Pat’s 7 concluded June 24 … all found guilty … 5 jailed
The two-day trial of the Des Moines Saint Pat’s 7 concluded the afternoon of Tuesday, June 24, 2014. All seven were able to take the stand and speak personally as to why they brought their protest of the future IA Air Guard Drone Command Center to the main gate of the base on St. Patrick’s Day March 17. All did a great job telling their stories and sharing with the six-person jury why a Drone Command Center is an awful idea, making DM the front line for future US-lead wars, with a weapons system that is dumb, immoral, unjust and by international law illegal! Yet, despite the strong witness of the 7 on the stand, the judge took it all away by the narrow constraints he put in the jury instructions that gave the jury no other choice but to find all seven guilty in less than an hour.
Sentencing came right after the finding of guilt. Judge Price gave all seven defendants the option of paying a $100 fine or a 48 hr. jail sentence. Five of the 7 defendants; Julie Brown, Ed Bloomer, Ruth Cole, Michele Naar-Obed and Steve Clemens chose to go to jail.
The two other defendants, Reverend Chet Guinn and Elliott Adams, for various reasons chose to pay the $100 fine plus court and other fees.
What: Trial of DM St. Pat’s 7 Date: June 23 - 25 Site: Polk County Court House, Des Moines IA
The IA Air Guard turned down an offer to do a “Peacemaking Circle” to replace the 7 protesters’ jury trial. Thank yous to Larry James <email@example.com>, Fred Van Liew <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Glen Downey <email@example.com>, our legal team, for making the effort to introduce the “Peacemaking Circle” as an alternative to going to trial.
The Saint Pat’s 7 were arrested on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, at the main gate of the Air National Guard and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass. They went to the Air Guard in hopes to be heard. They read this statement:
"We come to the Des Moines Air National Guard base as members of faith-based and Catholic Worker communities who annually join for a week of nonviolent resistance to war and injustice. This week, we aim to raise a call against the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) commonly known as drones. We recognize that the slaughter of war always requires war makers to dehumanize the victims. Reliance on drones exacerbates the dehumanization because the technology allows war makers to kill a target without identifying clearly who the person is or what the person has done or is doing. Therefore we bring to this base the faces of several who have been killed as well as the desire of a young Afghan friend who says, ‘We want to live without war.’ “
Reverend Chet Guinn <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 85 years old, a Methodist minister from Des Moines.
Julie Brown <email@example.com>, 36 years old, Des Moines Catholic Worker, who had just returned from a two-month delegation as a protective accompaniment and international solidarity activist in occupied Palestine, where she witnessed drone activity.
Ed Bloomer, 67 years old, a Des Moines Catholic Worker and Veteran for Peace member from Des Moines.
Elliott Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 67 years old and the former National Veterans for Peace President, Sharon Spring, New York.
Please make efforts to show your support of Rev. Chet, Steve, Ruth, Julie, Elliott, Ed and Michele, especially if you know them personally. Drop them an e-mail, help pay help pay their travel to and from Des Moines, offer to help pay any fines and fees resulting in this trial…
And if you can come to the trial, be part of the support community for the 7 during the trial.
Any out of towners needing housing contact the folks at the DMCW…
March 14-17 Midwest Catholic Worker Faith & Resistance Retreat
(All activities will take place at Trinity United Methodist Church, except where noted)
Friday, March 14th 4:00 p.m. Arrival and check-in - Dingman Catholic Worker House 6:00 p.m. Supper - Dingman Catholic Worker House 7:30 p.m. Movie/Banner-Making/Social - Trinity United Methodist Church
Saturday, March 15th 7:30-9:00 a.m. Breakfast 10:00-11:15 a.m. Rally at Des Moines drone site 12:00 p.m. Lunch 1:30 p.m. Welcome, overview, introductions 2:00 p.m. History of past Midwest F&R Retreats & report on west and east coast drone campaigns 3:00 p.m. Break 3:30 p.m. Overview of Iowa campaign and nonviolent direct action planning 5:00 p.m. Catholic Worker liturgy with Carl Kabat 6:00 p.m. Dinner 7:30 p.m. Program: Elliott Adams and Daniel Hale
Sunday, March 16th 7:30 a.m.-8:45 a.m. Breakfast 9:00-11:45 a.m. Round Tables 12:00 p.m. Lunch 1:00 p.m. Nonviolence training facilitated by New Hope CW Farm, Dubuque, IA 3:00 p.m. Break 3:15 p.m. Program: Susan Crane “Doing Resistance for the Long Haul” 4:30 p.m. Direct action planning 7:00 p.m. Dinner 8:00 p.m. Program: Kathy Kelly
Monday, March 17th 7:30 a.m. Breakfast / Clean-up 8:30 a.m. Meet at church to leave for demo
Des Moines Catholic Worker Houses 1310 7th St. 713 Indiana Ave. 1301 8th St. 1317 8th St.
Trinity United Methodist Church 1548 8th St.
Iowa Air National Guard 3100 McKinley Ave.
NONVIOLENCE STATEMENT for the March 14-17 Midwest CW and VFP Faith and Resistance Retreat and St Patrick’s Day Witness
CW’ers and VFP are committed to nonviolence and nonviolent action.
All participants in events and protest hosted by the DMCW and the DM VFP March 14-17, 2014 are expected to share this commitment to nonviolence and nonviolent action. While nonviolence is defined in different ways by different people in different contexts, and while there exists the need to continue discussion and debate on how nonviolence and nonviolent action is conceived. The Midwest CW and VFP Faith and Resistance Retreat and St Patrick’s Day Witness is adopting the following principles for March 14-17, 2014
We will act with love, openness, compassion, and respect toward all who we encounter and their surroundings. We will not be violent in our actions, words, or otherwise -toward any person or property.
We will act fairly and honestly with people regardless of the situation or the role they play.
We will remain calm and aware at all times.
We will prepare ourselves before we act, and will recognize our opposition is to the US Military wars of empire and its weapons systems, not to individual members of the military, counter protesters, police and security people we may encounter.
We will keep a clear state of mind, refraining from the use of drugs or alcohol, other than for medical purposes and we will not bring any illegal drugs or alcohol to the March 14-17 events.
We will carry no weapons.
We will seek dialogue with those who may disagree with us and maintain a spirit of openness, friendliness and respect towards all with whom we engage.
We will gather and act in a manner that reflects the world we choose to create.
Three Speeches by Bishop Dingman on the 1980s Farm Crisis
by Frank Cordaro
This year’s Occupy the World Food Prize week was awesome! Second year into the campaign and we were real players in the public discourse about the World Food Prize and who it serves. And on a personal level I was able to help resurrect the good spirit, life and prophetic witness of Bishop Maurice Dingman, a man who had more faith in God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church than anyone I ever knew.
It began when we secured Jim Hightower to be our keynote speaker in February. Soon after that we got the Des Moines Methodist Federation for Social Action to co-sponsor the Hightower event and they secured the First United Methodist Church. And Citizens for Community Improvement signed on to co-sponsor the event and help us fill the church.
Next came the announcement in June that this year’s (corporate) World Food Prize committee was picking three of their own to be the recipients of their prize. Naming three GMO inventors as their 2013 World Food Prize winners lifted the veil that usually stands between the recipients and the owners of the prize. This made the odds of us filling First United Methodist Church even better.
Then Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope’s peace and justice man, came into the picture. The Cardinal accepted an invitation to be one of three world leaders to speak at the official (corporate) World Food Prize. And to the surprise of all, the Cardinal also accepted an invitation to speak at our Occupy the World Food Prize Jim Hightower event! In her letter of invitation to Cardinal Turkson, Sharon Donavan from the OWFP working committee wrote that “Iowans fondly recall the prophetic words of Des Moines’s late Catholic Bishop, Maurice Dingman,” and she cited three great quotes from speeches Bishop Dignman gave during the 1980s Farm Crisis.
We referenced Bishop Dingman for the Cardinal because much of what we had been reading about the Cardinal and his position on corporate agriculture in Africa and in the rest of the developing world struck a common chord with the way Bishop Dingman framed the problem for Iowans and the small US farmer during the 1980s Farm Crisis.
We ended up filling the First United Methodist Church October 16 program with a combined billing of Cardinal Turkson and Jim Hightower. We also got an hour with the Cardinal and eight OWFP leaders in an informal conversation about corporate agriculture. A big thank you to Bishop Pates, who moved heaven and earth to find time for OWFP people and the Cardinal to spend together.
In the end, we had a hand in bringing our anti corporate agriculture message into the public discourse surrounding the Word Food Prize and we had input with our message with the largest corporation in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, through the Pope’s main peace and justice man, a Cardinal from Africa, Cardinal Peter Turkson, a guy who sounds a lot like Bishop Dingman! Amazing …
As for me, this year’s effort was a labor of love for Bishop Dingman, my second father and friend whom I loved dearly.
What follows are excerpts from the three speeches that Bishop Dingman made during the 1980s Farm Crisis. Ron Rossman said that these speeches “are the most important documents on farming and social justice in America since the Great Depression” at our October 15, 2013 OWFP Bishop Dingman Panel.
Occupy the World Food Prize: a Catholic Worker Perspective by Mike Miles
Mike Miles and his wife Barb have been CW farmers for over 25 years, raising their children at the Anathoth Catholic Worker in Luck, WI: anathothcommunityfarm.org.
Last year, when Frank Cordaro invited us Catholic Workers to come to Des Moines to protest the World Food Prize, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Why would we want to protest a prize? The language he was using didn’t make any sense to me. Being Frank, he was pretty insistent about the importance of this event that was being organized but it wasn’t until this year that I finally got it.
What took me so long to understand was the nature of the demonic forces at work in our world. When one comes to grips with the notion that, almost without fail, Satan disguises himself (or masquerades) as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14) one can begin to grasp that things that appear obvious most often are not.
What: 35th Annual Feast of the Holy Innocents Retreat & Witness at STRATCOM Headquarters & US Military Space Command Date: Thursday, December 26 to Saturday, December 28, 2013 Site: Basement of St. John’s Church, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
Using the Gospel of St. Matthew’s Infant Narrative, we will examine the links between King Herod, his killing of the innocent children in Bethlehem and the murderous deeds of US-backed modern-day Herods. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get your head and heart cleared of the USA Christmas spirit of glut and over-consumption by taking a two day retreat to examine the deeper meaning and spirit of the birth of Jesus and how the political powers of his day received his birth. It will be evident that little has changed in the last 2000 years.
Starting time: Thursday, Dec. 26 - 7 p.m. Gather at St John’s Church basement on Creighton University campus, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE
For more info contact:
Frank Cordaro and the Phil Berrigan CW House email@example.com / (515) 282-4781
2014 Bishop Dingman Peace Award Ceremony
Jeremy Scahill – Keynote Speaker
Rita Hohenshell (posthumously) & IA Chapters of Veterans for Peace – award recipients
Date: Saturday, April 5, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m. Social – Hors d’oeuvres and wine / 7:30 p.m. Program
Site: Holy Trinity Church, 2926 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, IA
Cost: $40 - (Don’t let $$$ be a reason not to attend. Low-income folks pay what you can. We need to know ahead of time for food prep.)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church on 2926 Beaver Avenue will be the location for the 19th annual Bishop Maurice J. Dingman Peace Award event.
The event will feature a keynote address from award-winning investigative journalist and scholar Jeremy Scahill, whose books have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list and who recently received an award at the Sundance Film Festival.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with wine, cheese and hors d’oeuvres. At 7:30, Scahill will speak and the peace award will be given to the Iowa Veterans for Peace, its three Iowa chapters, and to Rita Hohenshell (posthumously).
Jeremy Scahill is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, an award-winning investigative journalist, and the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books, 2008). His latest book is Dirty Wars: the World is a Battlefield (Nation Books, 2013), which debuted at #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Scahill is also a producer, writer, and lead character of the film version of Dirty Wars, which won the Cinematography Award for a US Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. As National Security Correspondent for The Nation, he has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere across the globe.
The Catholic Peace Ministry each year delivers a Dingman Peace Award to those deserving of following in the footsteps of the late Bishop Maurice J. Dingman. Recipients in the past few years include the late Joshua Casteel and the keynote address last year was delivered by Sister Simone Campbell.
- Jim Hightower, who came to Des Moines for no more than his travel expenses. - Simpson College, for paying Jim’s expenses in exchange for his talking on campus while in Des Moines. - The Methodist Federation for Social Action and the First United Methodist Church for free use of their church. - Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement for printing flyers, taking photos and a video recording of the Dingman Panel. - Rodger Routh, our Des Moines area Peace and Justice videographer for his great videos and editing work.
Profile of the Berrigans in the New Yorker, March 14, 1970
Tommy Schmitz of the DMCW found this issue of the New Yorker dedicated to the Berrigans and the Catonsville action. It’s a fun read for 1970s Catholic Left aficionados and Berrigan groupies … Thank you Tommy … Enjoy, Frank Cordaro
The Rev. Bob Cook will walk 2,980 miles across America with a thousand people next March. He is 70. This is his idea of retirement.
The Des Moines pastor’s life work has been for the poor, but he doesn’t view the Great March for Climate Action as a departure.
The poor are affected most by climate change, as they are from most troubling world events, Cook said.
Frank Cordaro, his longtime activist friend, figures if Cook makes it, he will add 10 years to his life and at the same time help the global community, “following a God of creation, not empire.”
Cordaro put Cook up in a room at the Catholic Worker http://dmcatholicworker.org community recently because he needed a place to stay, and that’s where Cook will hold a hog roast today to help raise the $7,000 he needs for the march.
An autonomous sister house with the Des Moines Catholic Worker, the Phil Berrigan House hosts a Peace and Justice Library and provides meeting space.
We currently host a weekly Lectionary Bible Study each Monday from 7-8pm, an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Fridays at 4pm, and we host the monthly meeting of the Des Moines chapter of Veterans for Peace. We will continue to be open to hosting other related peace and justice events and organizational meetings.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matt. 5:9) Only through nonviolent action can a personalist revolution come about, one in which one evil will not be replaced simply by another. Thus, we oppose the deliberate taking of human life for any reason, and see every oppression as blasphemy. Jesus taught us to take suffering upon ourselves rather than inflict it upon others, and He calls us to fight against violence with the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting and noncooperation with evil. Refusal to pay taxes for war, to register for conscription, to comply with any unjust legislation; participation in nonviolent strikes and boycotts, protests or vigils; withdrawal of support for dominant systems, corporate funding or usurious practices are all excellent means to establish peace."
- from the Aims and Means of the Catholic Worker