January - February 2002
Christmas begins when?
In response to the letter last month, we can only lament that the crass commercialism of the malls has led far too many churches to prematurely start celebrating Christmas before Christmas (during Advent). There are 12 days of Christmas that begin Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Any Christmas caroling in church prior to that time shortchanges Advent, the time of solemn preparation that the church has wisely set aside (for hundreds of years) for contemplation, for repentance, for reflection, for making our inner selves ready for the birth of Christ.
This year I heard Christmas carols on the radio and in the malls before Halloween. If that is what helps the letter writer to get ready for Christmas, may he find what he is looking for in the plastic and tinsel.
via the Internet
Albright's quote noted
We need to hear today why the U.S. is hated by so many people in the world. Our president has one answer: because of our goodness, our freedom, our democracy, our equality, our values.
In voices from overseas, however, we hear other reasons: because of our long record of supporting state- sponsored terrorism, our frequent deposition of regimes that threaten our profits, our common practice of trying to destroy the civilian infrastructure of enemy nations such as Iraq, Serbia, and Afghanistan, our support for the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and our causing the death of 500,000 Iraqi children through economic sanctions.
When then-U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked about that in 1996, she replied that it was "a very hard choice," but that all things considered, "We think the price is worth it." This comment by Albright is quoted all over the Arab world.
The Rev. Ted Braun
Pleasant Hill Community UCC
Pleasant Hill, Tenn.
Uh oh, she's right
General Synod passed "A Resolution in Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Boycott of Taco Bell." Now it's up to us to support, or not, this boycott.
I was shocked and appalled to see [on the front page of the November issue] Taco Bell products in your picture of the Longmont High School students eating lunch at the Congregational UCC's Trojan Café.
Please tell me that I am wrong and those are NOT Taco Bell products!
Disappointed him, too
I was interested in the negative reaction of several persons [to the Collegium statement on the war in Afghanistan]. I, too, was disappointed, but for opposite reasons.
Far better if our UCC leaders had spent some energy in the past mobilizing ecumenical relationships across faith lines to work for justice and peace. Far better if they started that now. The moment calls for dramatic, massive, high priority and far reaching efforts and should be the major outreach effort of Protestants and Catholics, working jointly with Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, native religions and others.
And where are the religious voices needed to expose the role of Western nations and multinational corporations in their exploitation of poor nations and the flagrant abuse of the world's natural resources?
We need fewer pious statements and more action. It is true that violence begets violence. It is also true that pontifications from on high beget pontifications from on high.
The Rev. James R. Smucker
Proud to be UCC
I was never so proud to be a UCC minister as I was reading the November issue of United Church News. I was heartened to read so many articles and op-ed pieces in opposition to the USA's "war on terrorism" as well as calls for tolerance, forgiveness and self reflection; also, so many churches' efforts to know more about Islam. I was particularly proud of the UCC Collegium's statement.
Living in Peru, I have been disturbed to hear and unable to understand how 90 percent of polled Americans could support the war in Afghanistan. I return to New York in a few days to spend Christmas with my family and worry how I will adjust. As I prepare to preach on peace and self reflection at an unfamiliar church, I wonder how it will be met. But United Church News inspired me to speak my heart's truth, and know I stand in good company.
The Rev. Diane Dunn
Centro Espiritual Universal Inkari
Chance for diplomacy missed
When President Bush refused Afghanistan's proposal to turn Osama bin Laden over to a neutral country for trial, he missed an opportunity for an honorable, nonviolent resolution to the conflict. A better way than war to confront world disputes is diplomacy.
When Israel, Britain and France invaded Egypt, President Eisenhower stopped the war by threatening to cut off U.S. aid to Israel. During the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy prevented war by negotiating with Kruschev. President Carter made peace in the Middle East by convincing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai settlements, which Carter called "illegal, period."
Both Bush and bin Laden say their war is the work of God. But the aforementioned acts of nonviolent statesmanship made wars to cease. This is really the work and will of God, according to Jewish, Islamic and Christian holy scriptures. "He makes wars cease to the end of the earth" (Psalm 46:9).
The Rev. Jewel R. Johnson, ret.
Doesn't eradicate bigotry
"I now wear my hijab to make my personal witness," writes a woman in the December issue. Gestures of this sort are unlikely to achieve very much. Muslims in the West suffer terrible prejudice that arise out of ignorance. Mulims are more likely to appreciate it if Christians, Jews and secular people make the effort to discover more about Islam, to spend time with Muslims as those who seek enlightenment, and to study the culture and the religion. This is a proactive solidarity because it helps to combat stereotypes and prejudice. Gestures such as adopting Muslum headress may make an individual feel good, but they do nothing to educate or enlighten or to eradicate bigotry against Muslims.
The Rev. Richard Hammond Price, OCC
Via an Internet forum
Gestures still valuable
It does not seem to me that a gesture of solidarity is less valuable as support than other ways, nor that it reflects a diminished wish to stand with those subject to prejudice or bigotry. Demeaning her wearing of the hijab advances the possibility of understanding not at all.
Via an Internet forum