Quaker Universalist Conversations

A new interfaith peace and justice blog

by Anthony Manousos

For the past six years I have been the official Quaker representative to Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (icujp.org), which was started by religious leaders in Los Angeles after 9/11 with the motto: “Religious communities must stop blessing war and violence.”

Each Friday morning 40-50 of us gather at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, listen to speakers, share ideas, and plan programs to promote peace and justice. Over the years we have become what Martin Luther King called a “beloved community.” Last fall, I was arrested with 14 members of ICUJP, a “bonding experience” I will never forget.

Another less dramatic, but no less profound way we bond as a community is to share our reflections,which include spiritual, political, and autobiographical elements. Through these reflections we catch a glimpse of the inner and personal life of our fellow activists and are often amazed and moved by what is shared in this special moments.

For me, ICUJP is “Universalism in practice” as well as what Douglas Steere called “mutual irradiation.“ Through our reflections and our struggles for peace and justice, we discover our common values and our shared hopes for a better world. We also come to appreciate each other’s difference, and to love each other for being different. As Friedrich Nietzsche wisely observed: “What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do…?”

Because I find these reflections so meaningful and enjoyable, I decided to start a blog so that others might catch a glimpse of what are Friday morning sessions are like and what a fascinating group of people Spirit has drawn together. I recommend checking out Icujpblog.net where you will see entries such as these:

March 16, 2012
“The Right to Wear (or Not to Wear) a Head Scarf”
by Stephen Rohde, Chair of ICUJP (and member of Death Penalty Focus, Progressive Jewish Alliance, and ACLU) writes: “At a time when women are being raped and exploited around the world and defiled at home as “sluts” and ‘prostitutes’ for defending contraception, conservative columnist Dennis Prager recently chose to devote his column to the topic of head scarfs….”

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March 15, 2012
Remembering Rachel Corrie
by Rev. Darrel Myers, a retired Presbyterian minister active with Sabeel and other pro-Palestinian causes, pays tribute to this brave young woman. “This Friday, March 16th, is the ninth anniversary of the bulldozer killing of Rachel Corrie in the Gaza Strip. The 23- year-old from Olympia, Washington, was trying to block the demolition of yet another Palestinian home…”


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March 14, 2012
“Dancing in an Earthquake”
Reflection of Rita Lowenthal on her 85th birthday. “I’m not quite sure how this happened—why I decided to use my reflection time to celebrate my 85th birthday with you. It feels a little egocentric—my women friends are giving me a luncheon–the family is having two …” Rita, who authored a moving book about her son’s struggle with heroin addiction, gives a fascinating, funny and wise talk about aging and coping with a 96 year old husband whom she loves dearly and who has Atzheimer’s. And she also has a passion for peace and justice that shines through her talk….


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March 12, 2012
Protesting unfair foreclosure, single mom is fined and given probation
by Anthony Manousos. I talk about the case of Rose Gudiel, who was arrested along with eight other protesters at a bank which was trying to foreclose on her home without just cause. The bank relented and she saved her home, but the City Attorney of Pasadena prosecuted her….


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March 10, 2012
An Atheist Affirmation of Activism
by Bonnie Blustein, a college professor and Unitarian Universalist, discusses how her atheist “faith” animates her commitment to struggle for justice and peace.


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March 9, 2012
“Demilitarize the Pacific…”
So says Carol Urner, well-known Quaker peace activist, a 80+-year-old who inspired us with her passion for peacemaking.


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March 8, 2012
“Moral injury”
One of the often overlooked psychological effects of war was discussed by Rev. Ignacio Castuera, a retired Methodist minister who is active with Process Theology.