Linda Dittmar, an Israeli-American native of Caesarea, describes a 2007 visit to her home town in northwest Israel, with her friend Deborah Bright, an American photographer who was in Israel to search out and record what little remains of depopulated Palestinian villages demolished during the war of 1948—which Palestinians call Al Nakbha (the Catastrophe).
Our world is escalating toward the sort of brutal intolerance of “the Other” that led to World War II. This time, though, the government and people of the United States are perilously close to embracing that brutality themselves.
In this post we review two books that add to our depth perception regarding tolerance and intolerance, though without offering solutions. Denis Lacorne’s The Limits of Tolerance traces the history and vulnerability of the Enlightenment value of tolerance. Robert Bartholomew and Anja Reumschussel’s American Intolerance indicts the United States for its terrible history of official and populist intolerance toward each new influx of immigrants.
Edwin L. Battistella’s book Sorry About That is a compilation and analysis of stories of pubic apologies in the primarily U.S. experience. Leaders everywhere make apologies, yet apology-phobia is a global disability. Apology is complex in human relationships. Effective public apologies are even more complex. Public apologies differ with cultural context, just as personal apologies differ in language and timing.
“Truth for children” is a phrase from a radio address by Emmanuel Levinas in September 1945, shortly after his release from a German prisoner of war camp set aside for Jews. The Geneva conventions had protected Jewish prisoners of war from the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, yet death was a constant threat. It was a time of Jewish awakening for many. As Hammerschlag writes, quoting Levinas (p.54):
“’The Jew lent his own significance to the sadness that he shared with his non-Jewish comrades, a consciousness of Judaism acute as a spasm.’ Within this context, the biblical accounts of the Jewish people took on a new significance. ‘After so many detours,’ Levinas suggested that the stories of the patriarchs, of God and Pharaoh, became true ‘in their elementary truth, in their truth for children, in their vulgar truth.’”
In the last few months in the U.S., we are testing our language, searching for the right words. For examples, do we use “not guilty,” exoneration, vindication, exculpation, absolution, assoil, absolve, or acquittal? These are all related, but each is different in nuance and significance for our future.
Selecting the right words is a universal human challenge. How do we to find and use language to express and communicate to others in public discernment processes?
I’ll Dress You in Silken Wings
by Abraham Chalfi
I’ll dress you in silken wings
Coloured perhaps bird-green
And perhaps a legendary crimson
And you’d be so beautiful
Children of man….
Quaker’s faith is all about practical Christianity, both in personal and communal prayers, and personal and communal good works.
Faith can’t be complete without good works. Mere good work without faith to God, the creator, author, and the beginning and end of all things, isn’t also enough. These are inseparable as intertwining. Real faith is walking with good actions in genuinely free-will practice.
THEMES FOR 2019
During Quaker Universalist Fellowship’s annual steering committee meeting in October, we affirmed that our focus is on Quaker faith and practice underneath a broad theological umbrella. Overarching questions are:
- How do we manifest the interaction between faith and practice?
- How do we make the transition from faith into practice, making the “and” into an ongoing process of discernment that moves between the two?
We developed five general areas in which to focus, with queries. These are the areas that are the most alive for us, and for which we have the most sense of S/spirit-led clarity.
Inside our fortifications, ideally, scarcity and excess are minimized as we “give us this day our daily bread;” but in actuality, scarcity and excess are the pumping pistons of empire, trampling our planet today.
Lynne Taylor’s In the Children’s Best Interests is a timely reminder of the universal plight of migrating children throughout history. It highlights the chronic inadequacy of government mechanisms for the management of their needs and lives. More telling, it shocks us with the recognition that our current national and global controversy over refugees from violence is just the latest in a string of moral failures.