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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem


English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/HTML/christmas_classics_videos.htm#Chap_02

St Patrick’s Creed


English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, my mother would urge me to wear the color Orange to school on St. Patrick’s Day in rebellion against all the Green!

Yes, it was in direct protest against the Catholic Irish and in defense of William of Orange, 1650- 1702! I talked with several women in my church today who told me similar stories about their mothers, mostly Presbyterians from times gone by!

Surprisingly, in those days, we never heard about the wonderful stories of the real St. Patrick who was taken as a slave to Ireland, escaped and later returned as a missionary to the Pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

St. Patrick’s Creed:

Our God, God of all mankind,

God of heaven and earth, sea and rivers,

God of sun and moon, of all the stars,

God of high mountains and low valleys,

God over heaven and in heaven and under heaven.

He has a dwelling

In heaven and earth and sea

And in all things that are in them,

He inspires all,

He quickens all,

He is over all,

He supports all.

He makes the light of the sun to shine.

The light of the night and the stars he surrounds,

And he has made wells in the dry earth,

Placed dry islands in the sea,

And stars for the service

Of the greater lights.

He has a Son

Co-eternal with himself, like unto himself;

The Son is not younger than the Father,

Nor the Father older than the Son.

And the Holy Spirit

Breathes in them;

Not separate are the Father

And the son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Natural Gas: A Third Way?


Gas Natural

Gas Natural

There is still much debate over Hydro-Fracking to obtain natural gas.

People line up on either side according to party affiliation, so it’s difficult to find an article that doesn’t demonize the other.

Below, you’ll find an article refuting current findings about the dangers of Hydro-Fracking. This article is from “The Blaze“, an ultra conservative internet magazine founded by Glenn Beck .  However, the comments section got me to thinking.

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/fracking-the-solution-for-americas-energy-woes-that-environmentalists-dont-want-you-to-know-about/

I also happened to find this article,  NaturalGas.org. , which references the history of natural gas and how it was obtained in the “old-fashioned” way. I’ve been curious about this for a long time.

Against fracking 01

Against fracking 01 (Photo credit: Bosc d'Anjou)

I wonder what current alternatives do we have to Hydro-fracking and if anyone is working on improving these methods to safely extract natural gas?

Which brings me to my title.

Just because one side of an argument might be found exaggerating, or fudging facts in a few cases, it doesn’t mean that the overall argument is false.

If one thing is true, for example; Civil rights, Anti-discrimination legislation, Affirmative Action, and now even Anti-hate crime legislation is in effect and yet a majority of black people in our country don’t feel safe.

Many white people think this is ridiculous and black people should just move on. Instead of working to resolve the real problem which seems to be lack of trust, one side accuses the other of being ingenuous or worse, and the wall goes higher.

Certainly, we see this in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict where both sides have genuine hurt and grief and fear yet unresolved.

This first came to mind when I heard Hilary Clinton complain on television of a “Huge right-wing conspiracy” against her husband when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke out. It turned out that both were true. The conservatives were indeed eager to catch Clinton in any impropriety, but it wasn’t that difficult since the allegations were true.

Since that time our political parties have been in a battle to bring the opposing side’s president shame (George Bush’s drinking) or ridicule (again George Bush and Obama’s heritage), whether he is guilty of a crime or guiltless.

Christians might find me rushing down the road to relativism…where nothing is absolutely true, but I think not. I think we’ve become so entrenched in Black and White thinking, in our determination to avoid compromise, that we have lost our ability to influence society in a meaningful way.

I think of Solyndra, and the rush to judgment that shut down much discussion about renewable energy on the federal level just because of this  error. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-03/solyndra-s-loan-guarantee-was-rushed-treasury-audit-says-1-.html

The Obama administration appears to have caved in many times to discouragement or pressure from lobbyists’ criticism.  Two examples I think of are the firing of Van Jones the Green energy czar as well as it’s campaign promise of commitment to halting the settlements in the West Bank.

President Obama came in with good ideas for changing the direction of America in several specific ways.  When ideas are true and right, it doesn’t mean that they are perfect. They may require “tweaking” and input from all sides. Opposition and criticism is helpful to see where the plan lacks consistency, but doesn’t mean the plan should be thrown out.

That’s the way I feel about Hydro-Fracking. Maybe it’s not so terribly dangerous as environmentalists are describing it, but it feels like there is more beneath the surface that may be concealed from us due to corporate interests. The presence of “green” logos and butterflies on their signs only increases alarm in me. It makes me feel like I’m being soothed into swallowing a lie.

What if we would treat our “opponents” as we would our family in a conflict?  Even in distrust, we recognize that each side has legitimate concerns.  Refusing to rush into judgment or be pulled into useless debates and shouting matches, we listen and learn from each other and seek truth that we all can live with. I think we might make some progress. This is especially difficult, though, when both parties aren’t willing to listen and learn from one another.

This is true in US Politics, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, The Arab Spring, the Economy, Race Relations, the Afghan War and Energy solutions. There is more than one way to view these issues, and people’s precious lives are at stake.

Continuing to debate and accuse each other is getting us nowhere.

17 Murders


Afghan children wait to receive basic medical ...

The American military people I know personally are good people in character and integrity. Some of them have overcome tremendous obstacles (if they read this they will know who they are)…drug addiction…abusive homes…poverty. None of us understand what it is to “snap” and kill innocent people unless we’ve been in that situation. But, imagine if this happened in the United States.

Each of the victims in Afghanistan was valued by God and by their families and communities. Regardless of whether the “alleged” shooter/arsonist/murderer, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was depressed or undergoing problems, his crime destroyed valuable lives. If we don’t treat them as such, what possible legacy will remain after we leave Afghanistan?

I’m afraid, that is being decided already by Afghan citizens fed up with foreign intervention of any and all kinds. The lasting effect of the United State’s mission in Afghanistan seems ironically similar to Russia’s.

Afghan shooting tragic, but be wary of being too lenient – USATODAY.com.

Spirited Letter from a Slave to His Master 1865


English: Family on Smith's Plantation, Beaufor...

Image via Wikipedia

In 1865, P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee,  wrote to his former slave, Jourdan Anderson, coaxing him to come back to work on his farm for wages.

Jourdan, who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work as a stableman, and was now supporting his family, responded elegantly by dictated letter.  The letter was published in the Aug. 22, 1865 issue of the New York Daily Tribune. As far as can be researched, this is a true story, about real people and events.

I hope you read and enjoy this letter! Written with ironic humor, it gives fabulous insight into the sharp mind of one former slave.

Letters of Note: To My Old Master.

http://boingboing.net/2010/08/10/a-letter-from-a-free.html

Palestine in Threads


English: Embroidered pillowcase produced by Pa...

Palestinian Embroidery

Men and women in every culture create beautiful crafts that are valuable commodities. Regardless of politics, beauty is something we can all appreciate.

As Jon and I prepare for our move, we are sorting through our treasure trove of Batik and other cloth from Asia. It’s a cinch to find people to share them with around Cornell with its Indonesia and South East Asian connections.  We anticipate it may be more difficult to find many South East Asian experts in Colorado…but, who knows?

During our first visit to Palestine, I admired the intricate Palestinian embroidery work on tablecloths, pillow cases and especially, women’s “Thobes”.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalbera/5453990541/

These are the long dresses worn by many of the young women on special occasions, while most of the older women wear them on the street going to market and doing their daily tasks.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilies_of_the_valley/3652885370/

I learned from a friend that each town has it own distinctive design and color scheme. Many of the colors originated from plants indigenous to the area: “reds” from pomegranate, “dark blues” from the indigo plant: “yellow” from saffron flowers etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_costumes

I had hoped to find one for myself from her hometown,  but they are costly, and time for proper bargaining ran out.

Eventually, I bought one for myself, in a tourist market in Nazareth.  It was highly inappropriate; immodestly short-sleeved, over sized even for me, with bright multi-colored threads on black.  It resembles a rainbow and wear it as often as possible. I guess you could say it represents is the “Tourist visit of Mary Perry”.

On my next visit, I want to buy the authentic “Thobe” representing Bethlehem, the city of Christ‘s birth. Bethlehem’s pattern reminds me of a traditional red Ukrainian stitch, against a black background.  All the women in the Choir at Bethlehem Bible College wear this costume so I hope I can find somebody who will help me shop and bargain for it.

As I searched on the internet for the exact pattern I was looking for, I found the following short film advertising a book about historic Palestinian embroidery motifs written by Margarita Skinner in association with Widad Kawar.

My interest piqued further as I discovered this ancient film clip from the ’20s of a Palestinian woman wrapping herself in a double thobe/dress.

This was before the modern world came to Palestine. I was fascinated when I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus  and possibly even Abraham’s wife, Sarah, wrapping their own dresses in a similar fashion. It seemed entirely possible since time stood still for so many centuries before the arrival of our modern technological age.

A little more information on Palestinian stitchery follows:

http://alquds2009.org/etemplate.php?id=300

America’s Second Chance and the Arab Spring – By Kenneth M. Pollack | Foreign Policy


What do you think?

America’s Second Chance and the Arab Spring – By Kenneth M. Pollack | Foreign Policy.