Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Chanukah!

I am deeply impressed by Jewish Voices for Peace and this video they made for Chanukah 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CHRISTMAS "PEACE" IN THE LAND OF THE HOLY ONE



Printed in the Smoky Mountain News last holiday season. Reprinted with permission from the author, Doug Wingeier.

Some years back I spent the Christmas season in the Land of the Holy One. (It is not the land that is holy, but the One who was born, lived, died, and rose there.) This was one of my several sojourns in Israel/Palestine over the years. My strongest impression at that time (and conditions have only gotten worse since) was of the oppression my Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters--along with their Muslim neighbors--were enduring under the Israeli occupation. I was struck with how similar this was to the Roman oppression of local inhabitants in the time of Jesus.

On Christmas Eve, worshippers, both pilgrims from abroad and local Palestinian Christians, had to pass through checkpoints on the way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, manned by rude, trigger-happy teenage Israeli soldiers.. Some were barred entrance and turned back. Entering Manger Square, where several choirs from around the world were to sing Christmas music to be broadcast worldwide, we were subjected to frisking, metal detectors, and body searches. Israeli soldiers mingled with the crowd and stood on rooftops ringing the square, Uzis at the ready. A mood of apprehension, fear, and suspicion trumped the joy, peace and love one would expect at this season.

Earlier, I had visited a Palestinian Christian village in the West Bank that featured a home very much like one in Jesus' time. Cows and sheep were housed under the same roof as the family--reminiscent of the time when a baby was born in a stable to a peasant family forced to journey through the winter rains by an imperial edict requiring tax registration. Midway on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, archaelogists were excavating the site of a fourth century Byzantine church, built on the traditional site where Mary and Joseph had paused to rest before continuing on, only to find "no room in the inn." (Excavations complete, the site has since been covered over.)

More recently, the Israelis have erected a huge, forbidding 16-foot wall with armed checkpoints (euphemistically called a "security fence"), separating Palestinians from their farmland, schools, jobs, relatives, medical care, and places of worship. Our Palestinian friends tell us this really puts them in a large prison, with their movements strictly monitored and controlled.

Too many pilgrims go this "holy land" only to see the "places where Jesus walked," and are led by Israeli guides who shield them from meeting the "living stones"--Palestinian Christians whose ancestors were the contemporaries of Jesus who became the first Christians. Many of their villages were demolished by the Israeli military. The homes that survived are now occupied by Jewish immigrants, while their original Palestinian owners still hold the keys, hoping one day to return and claim their rightful property.

Later, I returned to teach a semester at Bethlehem Bible College, where my students were young Palestinian Christians preparing for ministry with their people. One, Ala'e, was from a Muslim family who had accepted Christ as Savior, attended the Nazarene Church in East Jerusalem, and was trying to remain a faithful member of both faith communities. Another, Gabriel, was a talented musician, who had decided not to pursue further education because he "saw no future" for himself there. A third, Jusuf, one day asked me point-blank in class, "Must we forgive our enemies?" A classmate later explained that, as a boy of seven, he had seen his father dragged from their home by Israeli soldiers and shot dead before his eyes.

And then there was Tony Nassar (later married to classmate Nisreen), who took me several times to the farm seven miles south of Bethlehem owned by him and his two brothers--devoted members of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Their farm was surrounded on all four sides by Israeli settlements. Each time I went I saw where more of their land had been confiscated by the settlers. They had shot his horse, and blocked the access road to the farm with huge boulders, so that the Nassars had to go several miles out of the way to reach their land. Their olive trees, some centuries old, had been uprooted by Caterpillar bulldozers. Holding deeds and tax receipts from Ottoman, British, and Jordanian governments, they had proof of their ownership, so had already spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs to defend their land, and were determined to hold onto it.

One of the Bible College faculty, Salim Munayer, conducts a ministry called "Muslahala," which brings together Palestinian Christians with Messianic Jews (who do not identify as Christian but accept Jesus as Messiah and Saviour) to hear each other's stories, get to know each other as human beings and fellow believers, gradually overcome their mutual fears and suspicions, and build the kind of relationships that are the only sure basis of a lasting peace in that troubled land.

A growing number of Jews in this country, such as the young people in Jewish Voice for Peace, have lived with Palestinian families in the West Bank, suffered with them the same indignities and persecutions at the hands of Israeli settlers and military, and returned home to tell their synagogues that what they have seen there "violates the Jewish values with which we were raised." They are joining with growing numbers of Christians in a campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against US corporations like Caterpillar, Motorola, and Northrop Grumman that contribute to the illegal occupation, and products and services originating in the occupied West Bank--like Veolia (bottled water) and SodaStream (home carbonization machines)--similar to the worldwide campaign waged in Nelson Mandela's time against the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa.

Of course, violence originates from both sides in the turbulent Middle East, so that, in this Christmas season, it is sometimes difficult, above the din, to hear the angels sing "peace on earth, good will to all." But if we wish genuinely and effectively to contribute to peace with justice there, we will listen openly and fairly to all sides; seek to meet, get to know, and hear the stories of Palestinian Christians, the "living stones" (and their Muslim friends and neighbors); let our expenditures be guided by BDS principles; reject both anti-Arab prejudice and anti-Semitism (while at the same time opposing the unjust policies and practices of the Israeli government and settlers), and live in the spirit of this verse from the carol, "O Holy Night":

"Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Upcoming events in the Asheville area this week


UPCOMING EVENTS
Please note: Unless there are more events scheduled, I will not be sending out an events calendar until January 4, 2015. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year to everyone. Maybe next year our country will do better in human rights. justice, and with promoting peace instead of wars and conflicts. 

12/16/14 WNC ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS MEETING 
The WNC Alliance for Retired Americans has changed to quarterly meetings.  So the meetings will be the third Tuesday in June, September and December at 10 AM in the Kenilworth Presbyterian Church Parlor at 123 Kenilworth Road in Asheville. The ARA is a statewide organization of retired union members and their friends and families. We are non-partisan and open to everyone who is concerned about the need for jobs which pay a living wage, as well as those issues which affect all of us. FMI contact dick@dickandnorma.com.

12/17/14 #OPFEED THE HOMELESS
Band together to feed and clothe the homeless --- jackets, socks, gloves, blankets and anything of warmth, Feeding the Homeless, Asheville NC on December 17. Time, locations, and details can be mutually agreed upon as a group. Governments frighten us into thinking we need them, but we are moving past the Statist paradigm and rendering them obsolete. There is nothing that the State does that either needs to be done or cannot be done better within the matrix of voluntary action and exchange. This is a Facebook event, no further information.

12/17/14 GREEN DRINKS
A panel discussion by Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Mountain Housing Opportunities exploring issues of affordable housing and initiatives to make it healthier, greener and more affordable to live in. Both organizations will present their approach to offering affordable housing in our community as well as the organizations path to making their homes green, energy efficient, healthier and more affordable to live in. They will cover successes, challenges, strategies and initiatives within their own organizations. The panel discussion will be followed by Q&A. Come early for community connections and green drink specials! Socializing starts at 5:30 PM, presentation is at 6 PM. Location is the Green Sage in downtown Asheville.

12/18/14 HOOD TALK
Developing positive energy to restore greater communication and strength throughout our community. Location is the management building at Klondyke Apartments at 500 Montford Avenue in Asheville. Time is 6 PM to 8 PM. 

12/19/14 WNC PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MEETING
The next WNC PSR monthly meeting will be at a private home near the VA Hospital. Brown Bag lunch at noon with meeting from 12 noon to 2 PM. Everyone is welcome. Please go to www.wncpsr.org  for more information, which includes how to get there and other details.

12/20/14 GREEN GRANNIES SING FOR THE CLIMATE
Green Grannies Sing for the Climate at Vance Monument at 4 PM. Google "Singfortheclimate" and come out and sing with us! This happens on the third Saturday of every month. 

12/20/14 WESTERN CAROLINIANS FOR PEACE & JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST RALLY
Western Carolinians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East will be at Vance Monument, Saturday December 20th from 1-3 PM to promote boycott of Hewlett Packard and SodaStream for their profiting from the occupation of Palestine and to remind people of the situation in Gaza. For more information, contact Suchi at 828-669-2073.

12/28/14 DISPLAY AT ALL SOULS CATHEDRAL
Gaza Pinwheels will be displayed at All Souls Cathedral on December 28 th, recognizing the death of children killed in the war between Gaza and Israel last summer. There will be 520 pinwheels for Palestinian children killed and one pinwheel for the Israeli child killed. The Youth Group at the church will put them in the ground on Saturday, December 27th.

12/29/14 CONNECTION PRACTICE
"A Taste of the Connection Practice" with Cathy Holt. Learn effective, empathic communication skills that can transform relationships by connecting at the heart, helping everyone's needs get met.  Contact: Cathy Holt at cathyfholt@gmail.com or 828-545-9681 for more information. Time is 6:30 PM and location is North Asheville Library on Merrimon Ave. Free and open to all.

01/04/15 PLANNING SESSION FOR ASHEVILLE N.O.W.
A planning session will be held for the 2015 executive committee and any interested members. It will be from 10 AM - 2 PM, with a potluck working lunch and time to relax in a private location after the work is done. This session constitutes our first member meeting of the new year. Please respond to ashevillenow@live.com with your RSVP in order to receive directions to the private location.

01/14/15 WESTERN CAROLINIANS FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
This meeting will be at 9:30 AM at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in Black Mountain.

01/16/15 WESTERN CAROLINIANS FOR PEACE & JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST EVENT
Rachel Rasmussen will be in Asheville from the first of the year through January 21 when she goes back to the Occupied Palestinian Territory to study Arabic for a week before returning to her work as Christian Peacemaker Team member in Hebron. On Friday January l6, at 7 PM, there will be a conversation with Rachel at the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting (137 Center Avenue) in Black Mountain. Donations will be welcomed to support Rachel’s work. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

01/17/15 34TH ANNUAL PRAYER BREAKFAST
Celebrate the Legacy: from Dreams to Actions. Duke Professor and award-winning author Dr. Thavolia Glymph will speak at 2015 Breakfast. The 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast will be held at 8:30 AM at its new location at the Crowne Plaza resort in Asheville. The Prayer Breakfast is the largest, most diverse event of its kind in Asheville, each year bringing more than a thousand people of all races, faiths, and backgrounds together to recommit to Dr. King’s Dream and ensuring that the community and the society continue taking steps to make it reality, whatever obstacles we find in our path. Tickets for the 2015 Prayer Breakfast are $25 for adults, $35 for patrons, and $15 for children 12 and under. Adult tickets will cost $30 as of Jan. 1, 2015. To order tickets by telephone call 828-335-6896 or 828-281-1624. And to order by email, contact editor@myowneditor.com,  

01/19/15 PEACE MARCH AND RALLY ON MLK DAY
Meet at 11:30 AM at St. James AME Church at 44 Hildebrand Street and MLK Drive in Asheville. At noon, we will march to City-County Plaza. Everyone is invited. More information at mlkasheville.org.

1/24/15 HARD TO RECYCLE EVENT
This will be at Aaron's Rent to Own parking lot at 1298 Patton Avenue in west Asheville. Time is 10 AM to 2 PM. If you have questions, call GreenWorks at 828-254-1776.

01/26/15 BUILDING BRIDGES SESSION STARTS
The Mission of Building Bridges is to enable our community to confront and overcome racism through a continuing process of changing attitudes and hearts through education, consciousness raising, nurturing, and ongoing support. Our goal is to be intentional in respecting diversity within our community. The session runs from January 26 to March 23, 2015. Time is 7 to 9 PM and location is MAHEC at 119 Hendersonville Road in Asheville NC. Cost is $30, and you must register. Go to their website to sign up. More information below.

01/30/15 WESTERN CAROLINIANS FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
This meeting will be at 3:15 PM at Brooks-Howell Home on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville. Meet in the media room. 

02/14/15 HISTORIC THOUSANDS MARCH ON JONES STREET (HK on J) 
This is in Raleigh, and there will be more information soon.

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ONGOING EVENTS
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TUESDAY
Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 4:30 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

WEDNESDAY
Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville

THURSDAY
Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 1 PM at A-Hope on North Ann Street in Asheville.  
Youth Outright Poetry Night at United Church of Christ in Asheville at 5 PM

FRIDAY
Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville
Women in Black have a monthly vigil at 5 PM at Vance Monument in Asheville (first Friday only)

SATURDAY
Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard
Third Saturdays – Asheville’s Green Grannies invites the public to “sing for the climate” at Vance Monument at 4 PM.

SUNDAY
Youth OUTright meeting from 4 to 6 PM at First Congregational United Church of Christ at 20 Oak Street in Asheville. Ages 14 - 23 only.

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ACTIONS AND READINGS
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TUESDAY EVENING NON VIOLENT COMMUNICATION STUDY GROUP

This Non-Violent Communication Study and Practice Group is facilitated, but peer centric. All activities emphasize peer contribution.

Activities vary week to week, but may include:
*Sharing about and discussing the NVC Paradigm
*Exploring NVC skills and concepts
*"Labbing" NVC situations and sharing experiences and perspectives
*Practicing colloquial/slang NVC ("street giraffe")
*Presentations on core NVC elements by study group members
*Sharing NVC related quotes

Meets weekly at The Little Volcano Yoga Studio (Downtown Asheville - 62 Wall Street). Time is 6:45 to 8:45 PM.

Donations to support the space and facilitator are appreciated (Suggested $5). Snacks and drinks to share are welcome.

You're encouraged to come with:
*Notes, note taking material
*NVC reading material
*Situations and scenarios that have challenged you
*Any quotes you like from NVC related books and materials
*An open mind

For more information, please ask in the Asheville NVC Study Group FB Group or contact CJ O'Reilly (admin@cjoreilly.com).

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BUILDING BRIDGES PROGRAM COMING UP

Winter/Spring Registration is now open.
This seminar is an introduction to the dynamics of racism and is an opportunity to explore how race has impacted our relationships, communities and institutions.  Past participants are welcome. Registration is required and is limited to 90 people. Encourage and recommend individuals as well as organizations that you know to participate in Building Bridges. If you are an alumni of the Building Bridges Seminars, you may apply to become a Co-Facilitator. To apply for a Co-Facilitator position, send an email to info@buildingbridges-ashevillenc.org for more information about Co-Facilitator Trainings. A celebratory pot luck supper will be held for all participants at the ninth meeting. Families are welcome to attend the potluck. You may call (828) 777-4585 for more information. Please go to their website for instructions on how to register.
http://www.buildingbridges-ashevillenc.org

Since 1993, Building Bridges has profoundly impacted people and institutions throughout Western North Carolina. To date, more than 1500 participants have attended the program from: Asheville, Hendersonville, Black Mountain, Lake Junaluska, Franklin, Cherokee, Waynesville, Madison County and Rutherfordton. The program has been hosted at the following churches and schools: New Mount Olive Baptist, Grace Covenant Presbyterian, Hill Street Baptist, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist, All Souls Episcopal, Jubilee!, St. Paul's Methodist, Nazareth First Baptist, Berry Temple United Methodist, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Temple Beth Ha-Tephila, Central United Methodist Church, BahaĆ­ Faith Center, Reid Community Center, Francis Delaney School, A-B Tech and MAHEC.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

BLACK LIVES MATTER - Rally in Asheville NC today






































WNC Solidarity March Against Police Violence December 13, 21014

Time lapse video

Time lapse video of human destruction. This is so sad. In Appalachia, over 500 mountains have been destroyed by mountain top removal. And that is only one part of the destruction.

Friday, December 12, 2014

You may say I am a dreamer...


but then, the people who promote wars to solve problems are a fracking nightmare.