Meet the New Pope

I don’t see the Pope as a Messiah. He is a man who has suddenly assumed a position of huge political, spiritual, and moral power. Looking at his political views, there are real reasons to hope that he will be an ally on some of the most important issues, and we need allies. I am not sweeping over whether he may or may not have done as much as he could have in fighting the death-squads in Argentina, nor that he remains on the wrong side of the fight for equality in matters of gender and sexual preference. But in the fight to save the planet, and the fight against huge economic inequalities, the odds have shifted slightly towards our side. And I’m grateful enough to say a prayer of thanks for that.

Israel: Losing the Struggle

The name “Israel” means “He who struggles with G_d”. Genesis tells how that name was given to Jacob after he triumphed over an angel with whom he had wrestled all night. And indeed there is a tradition in Judaism, unlike any other religion with which I’m familiar, of arguing with G_d. A typical example is Abraham, the first Jew. He argues over the number of righteous people there needs to be in Sodom for G_d to forgive them, and talks G_d down from 50 to 10, which is good bartering with anyone, let alone the Creator of the Universe.

Ten Thought-Provoking Perspectives on 9/11

1) 9/11 is a tragic day. It was on on this day in history that a democratically elected government was attacked, the country’s capital was bombed, its president killed, a brutal military dictatorship installed that killed thousands and tortured tens of thousands. Remember Salvador Allende, killed with the support of the US government on 9/11/1973, a day that didn’t change the world, that was “nothing of very great consequence,” as Henry Kissinger assured his boss a few days later. (via Noam Chomsky)
2. Robert Fisk, in the Independent, points out that  For 10 Years, We’ve Lied To Ourselves To Avoid Asking The One Real Question
By their books, ye shall know them.

A Reading of the Entrails of the Canadian Body Politic

The Canadian election is two weeks behind us in the rear view mirror of history, perhaps offering enough distance for a sense of perspective. There’s agreement on what happened, pending a few recounts, but questions of why it happened and the future implications are more complex. Start with what we know: this election was the most dramatic in memory, and no one is saying any more that Canadian politics are boring. Once it was only Québec which would swing dramatically from socially conservative to the liberal, or from the most religious to the least. This year Québec lead the way, but there were other changes everywhere.

What Is Happening in That Canadian Election?!?

We elect a new government next Monday in Canada after a one month election that began with a lot of whimpering, but seems to be ending with a remarkable bang. To the surprise of media, pundits, and most of the country, the NDP, the socialist party that has been forever mired in third place federally (behind the Liberals and Conservatives) has suddenly surged into second, closing fast on the governing Conservatives (3% behind at the last poll). The second place Liberals, who have been advocating that NDPers vote strategically for them on an ABC (Anybody But Conservative) rationale are catatonic with horror as the same rationale rolls round onto them. Fortunately, Ian Welsh is around to explain what this all means, who the players are, and who owns the teams on which they play. I’ve deeply admired Ian’s analyses (of politics both Canadian and International) over the years in the Agonist, in Pogge, in Firedoglake, and now on his own website.

The Empires Strike Back

Twitter! Facebook! Discussion boards! All of these wonderful social media tools now enable the voice of the individual to be heard, facilitate political organization, foster the people’s revolution, and fight the Power of the Man. Oh brave new world, that has such communication in it!

All the Heart Can Hold

An excerpt from a wise and compassionate piece by my friend and teacher Oriah on the crisis in Japan, and how one might choose to respond to it. …Here is where we get to practise what is needed and discover something truly amazing about how we are made. We are built for compassion. Yes, I know we are capable of insensitivity, cruelty and greed, susceptible to fear and bad choices. But we are built for compassion in a way that the mind barely grasps.

A Chaotic Journey

“Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be….” Ophelia (Scene 5, Act 4Hamlet) I was sitting a few feet behind a friend last Friday, as the man at the other end of the room sentenced him to life plus five years. I can’t say it came as a surprise, though the whole story still seemed unbelievable to me. His Honour had just told us the whole story, justifying the sentence he was pronouncing, and he clearly found it believable. He might not have been willing to bet his own life on it, but he was evidently willing to bet Shareef’s life on it.

iThink therefore iAm

Here I am. Over there are my iMac, my iPod, and my iPad. Sometimes I find myself worried over the fact that I can no longer clearly tell where one ends and the other begins. My sense of who I am, and certainly of what I’ve done in the world, is accessed more easily on them than on me. McLuhan talked of media as extensions of our senses, and predicted that computers would become the extension of our central nervous systems. They certainly have, and at other times I get really excited by that.