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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category



“Islam in America”: A Conversation with Jonathan Curiel

Mar11

by: Joseph Richard Preville and Julie Poucher Harbin on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

The book cover of 'Islam in America' by Jonathan Curiel showing the statue of liberty and a minaret.

How do Muslims fit into the quilt of American history? Jonathan Curiel investigates this question in his new book, Islam in America (I.B. Tauris, April 28, 2015). “America’s first Muslims,” he writes, “were perceived as less than human – people put in chains, forced to do field work at gunpoint, required to take new names and a new religion. So much has changed in 400 years, even if the struggle for acceptance is an ongoing one.”

Jonathan Curiel is a former staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon, The Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, and Tablet. He is the author of Al America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots (The New Press, 2008), which won an American Book Award in 2008.

Curiel’s new book is a readable and reliable history of the Muslim experience in America. It will help Americans to understand their Muslim neighbors and to celebrate the Abrahamic diversity of religious life in the United States.

Jonathan Curiel discusses his new book in this exclusive interview.

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Truthdig chooses Rabbi Lerner as “Truthdigger” of the Week

Mar9

by: Natasha Hakimi on March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

Truthdigger of the Week: Rabbi Michael Lerner

Posted on Mar 8, 2015 on Truthdig

By Natasha Hakimi

Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is the founding editor of Tikkun and leader of the San Francisco synagogue Beyt Tikkun. (B Hartford J Strong /CC BY 2.0)

As Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear-mongering speech echoed through the chambers of Congress, an American Jewish voice could be heard directly opposing the Israeli prime minister’s bellicose machinations—that of Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Rabbi Lerner, a political activist and longtime advocate of spiritual progressivity, in the 1980s co-founded the journal Tikkun, a journal of politics, culture and society. The quarterly, whose title comes from the Hebrew tikkun olam, meaning “healing or restoring the world,” focuses on providing an alternative to Jewish conservatism. Such an alternative has perhaps never been as important as it is today, a time when, to use Lerner’s words,“the fantasies that the right-wing discourse advances” increasingly dominate the politics of both the United States and Israel.

Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, without the agreement or cooperation of the White House. The day before the speech, Rabbi Lerner and Tikkun ran a full-page ad in The New York Times and, then, on Tuesday, repeated the ad in The Hill newspaper. It was topped with a simple, bold headline: “No, Mr. Netanyahu—you do not speak for American Jews. And … The American People Do Not Want a War with Iran!”

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Print Issue Exclusive: What Would Happen If Debtors Went on Strike?

Mar6

by: Tikkun on March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

Content from our print issue is usually only available to subscribers, but this week we’re offering free access (for a limited time only!) to one article from our current issue on Jubilee and Debt Abolition. Click here to read the article, “Power Without the King: The Debt Strike as Credible Threat.”

If you are already a subscriber, please share this article with your friends! And if you have not yet subscribed, we invite you to check out this straight-shooting article to see what you are missing.In this piece, author Paul Hampton explores what it would take to achieve Jubilee (debt abolition) through organized pressure from debtors. Considering the historical context of the first mass debt cancellations, he argues that the only way to abolish debt is to do so ourselves from outside of the confines of the market system. Without threatening banks with mass nonpayment, he claims, debtors have no leverage when it comes to negotiating with profit-motivated lenders and legislators. Read his article now to learn how activists are already working to build a targeted debt refusal movement.

This article is also linked to from Tikkun‘s website, where you can leave your online comments. If you find this article worth discussing, please do share it via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

We won’t be able to continue lifting up important perspectives such as this without your support. If you appreciate the chance to read hard-hitting spiritual and political analyses such as this one, please do subscribe to the magazine or join our staunch activist and supporter network, the Network of Spiritual Progressives.


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Abundance, Inequality, Needs, and Privilege

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

consumption-520085_640I am deeply involved in experiments in gift economy, both my own and those I hear about and engage with from the sidelines. The entire thrust of my work with organizations is about supporting a massive shift from adversarial relationships and systems to a collaborative overhaul of all our human affairs. I have just published a book in which I describe my vision of a possible future that is fully collaborative and based on gifting and a revival of the commons.

Given the unmitigated joy I experience at the prospect of giving away my work and being supported by the flow of generosity of those who believe in what I do rather than by people paying for services, I am continually and immensely curious to understand the obstacles to having this experience be the norm rather than the exception. soilsoul3rdIn this post, I am writing about one piece of this huge puzzle that fell into place for me: why the idea of “deserving” might have come into existence, and how it’s related to the difficulties in establishing gifting and collaboration.

Recently, Alastair McIntosh sent me a gift copy of his book Soil and Soul, in response to a review of mine that was published in Tikkun about David Bollier’s book Think like a Commoner. Gifts and shared resources were in the air as I started reading the book and was instantly transported into the semi-pre-modern milieu that was Alastair’s upbringing in Scotland, on an island fifty miles off its coast. I have most of the book still ahead of me to enjoy, and already it supported me in pushing my thinking forward.

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What Rev. Vincent Harding Might Have Said About Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to Congress

Mar4

by: Gilbert H. Caldwell on March 4th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Gil Caldwell, a wonderful, eloquent minister and civil rights activist partly from Park Hill in Denver, thinks below, with Vincent Harding, our friend, about what Netanyahu’s corrupt visit means. Vincent’s words are with us…

  • He calls to mind the great Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who marched with Gil in Selma, and said “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.
  • He recalls traveling on a ship to a work camp in Denmark and being snubbed by Jewish “Whites.”
  • And of Netanyahu’s violation of protocol towards the President, he recalls: “if you are black, stay back…”

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Kids and Gun Violence: Can We Change?

Mar4

by: Frank Strier on March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A child holding a toy gun.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Frank Boston.

Sometimes the most important sound is the one you don’t hear. The sound that is conspicuous by its absence? A full-throated outrage over the rampant gun violence that plagues U.S. children. Consider:

A traditional indicator of a country’s tolerance for gun violence is its firearm fatality rate, which includes suicides and accidents. Ours is breathtaking. Among industrialized countries, the U.S. rate is more than twice that of the next highest country, and eight times higher than the average. Looking solely at gun homicides, an American is 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.

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Once White in America: Raising Black Sons in a White Country

Feb28

by: Jane Lazarre on February 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

A white mother and her biracially Black son waving on the beach.

Novelist and memoirist Jane Lazarre offers an intimate, lyrical, post-Ferguson look at what it’s meant to her to raise her two black sons in a world that isn't so black-and-white. Credit: CreativeCommons / Everett Harper.

For Adam and Khary

Black bodies
swingin’ in
the summer
breeze
strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

It was 1969 and 1973, both times in early fall, when I first saw your small bodies, rose and tan, and fell in love for the second and third time with a black body, as it is named, for my first love was for your father. Always a word lover, I loved his words, trustworthy, often not expansive, sometimes even sparse, but always reliable and clear. How I—a first-generation Russian-Jewish girl—loved clarity! Reliable words—true words, measured words, filled with fascinating new life stories, drawing

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Reasons for Departure

Feb26

by: Ben Kline on February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A screenshot from the movie Salt of the Sea.

About a year ago, I watched the 2008 Palestinian film Salt of this Sea, about a Palestinian-American woman named Soraya and her quest to reclaim her family’s home in Jaffa. The film has quite a few agonizing moments: in one scene, Soraya and her Ramallah-born boyfriend Emad are squatting in what remains of his ancestral village, well west of the Green Line. The illusion that they might build a new life atop these ruins is interrupted by a stern Israeli tour guide, who becomes much friendlier when a panicked Soraya lies and tells him she is Jewish.

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Globalizing Black History Month: Recalling the Professor and the Punjabi Lion

Feb25

by: Murali Balaji on February 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

As February winds down, one of the most overlooked aspects of Black History Month is how African Americans influenced and were influenced by global movements, particularly before the start of the civil rights era.

A long-forgotten part of the global exchange is during the periods between the World Wars, when African-American activists and intellectuals had frequent interactions with counterparts in other parts of the world. In this spirit, it should be noted that long before Mahatma Gandhi’s activism inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights leaders, another trans-Atlantic relationship would play a significant role in shaping African-American thought: the close friendship between W.E.B. Du Bois and Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, known by many as the Lion of Punjab.

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Generosity Versus Violence

Feb25

by: Jack Gilroy on February 25th, 2015 | 15 Comments »

In May of 1955, I was one of thirty United States Infantrymen facing a like number of Russian Infantrymen divided only by a manhole cover, on the cobblestone plaza of Schoenbrun Palace, Vienna, Austria. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen Dulles, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sat on the sidelines. At a signal, the American and Russian Colonels saluted, that was the official end of the occupation of Austria. The withdrawal of all foreign troops would begin and Austria would start a new age away from a war economy.

There was much to do. Although the Marshall Plan, the economic assistance plan to assist European nations devastated by World War II, had obvious political and even self-serving strategies by the giver nation, the USA, it was evident that it was working. The rubble of war was being cleaned up except across the Danube where buildings remained torn and tattered from intensive bombing ten and more years before.

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