Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, October 22, 2018

In the Spirit of Imam Husayn (as)

I am posting pics and thoughts on my Facebook page while I am participating in Arbaeen. Here are some radio show podcasts on Husayn and Arbaeen that I have broadcast (or re-broadcast) this month while I am in Iraq.

On April 13th, 2019, Josh Townsley and I will offer reflections and some audio/video on our trip, inshallah, for the Husaynia Society of Seattle.

Husayn Means Beauty: The Attraction of the Seventh Century Martyr, Part 1
These are excerpts from speeches given at Husayn Day earlier this year in Seattle.

Husayn Means Beauty: The Attraction of the Seventh Century Prophet, Part 2
This broadcast includes the speech from Maulana Mohammad Baig, who is leading the tour I am taking in Iraq. Caravan72.com.

Arbaeen: The Walk, A conversation with Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli
I just posted this interview with the author of the first book on Arbaeen in English.

Resisting the Beast: Conversations with Dr. Susan (Elli) Elliott and Imam Muhsen Al-Dhalimy
From my monthly live show on KBOO. Imam Muhsen Al-Dhalimy serves at the Islamic Center of Portland across from my church.

Also of interest are these broadcasts:

The Covenants of the Prophet Mohammad with the Christians of the World: A Conversation with Dr. John Andrew Morrow
Dr. Morrow also spoke at Husayn Day in Seattle. Here he talks about his very important work showing, despite propaganda to the contrary, that Christians and Muslims lived peacefully for centuries (and still do).

U.S. - Saudi War Crimes Against Yemen
This conference, sponsored by Roots of Conflict, features two powerful speakers, Aisha Jumaan and Mohammad Al-Nimr, who follow in the spirit of Imam Husayn (as).

US - Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?
On my live KBOO show, I spoke with Catherine Shakdam, Scott Bennett, and Aisha Jumaan about the conference.







Friday, October 19, 2018

Portland to Istanbul

The journey has begun! So far no hitches from the bus stop outside my house to the PDX airport to LAX and then thirteen hours later, Istanbul.  We are in the lounge and will stay until our flight leaves for Najaf in about ten hours.


Josh, the cameraman, and Maulana Mohammad Baig who is the leader of Caravan72 and caring for us all along the way.





Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bound For Iraq

I begin tomorrow my trip to Iraq. This wasn’t on my agenda. That is how it is with things that matter. Spirit blows them into your life. I read that Isa (Jesus) is the Spirit of Allah. Husayn is the Spirit of Isa.  Ali Asghar was the youngest person martyred at Karbala. He was six months old. He was the son of Husayn and Rubab.


This crib was one of the ways he was remembered at the Islamic Center of Portland on Ashura, the day that commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn and his 72 companions including members of his family, including his son, Ali Asghar. As I write this, I wonder if the spirit of Ali Asghar is in the children of Yemen.
A somewhat grainy video, presumably shot from a decade old cell phone, shows more than two dozen load Yemeni kids, aged 6 to 15, playing, laughing, and excitedly moving about their school bus, invoking warm childhood memories for anyone who has ever caught a bus to and from a school outing. 
Moments later every single one of these kids were killed, vaporized by a Saudi fired missile. This atrocity took place on 9 August, leaving 51 dead, 40 of whom were children, with most victims under the age of 10, while another 77 were seriously injured, according to the International Red Cross.
A Saudi fired missile made by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth Texas:
Remnants of the missile, which were posted on Twitter by Hussein Albikaiti, a Sana’a-based journalist, show its CAGE code, serial number, and the wording, “FIN GUIDED BOMB.” 
A search of the CAGE code shows the missile to be issued by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, while the serial number shows it to be a MK-82 missile manufactured by General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas. 
“A US made laser guided bomb did this 2 a bus full of school children,” tweeted Albikaiti. “The bus was directly hit by a Saudi-UAE jet, fueled by USA plane, coordinates by US and UK satellites. One bomb sent these happy children to the graves after burning them alive and cutting them to pieces.”
I do not know what is in store for me or what I should expect as I make my Ziarat to the various shrines in the Holy Land of Iraq. John Andrew Morrow in a beautiful article about "The Call of Karbala and the Awe of Arbaeen" also writes this:
Iraq is a country that has been bruised, battered, and brutalized. It has suffered under the savagery of the Baath regime. It suffered through a senseless fratricidal war with Iran. It has suffered from American wars of aggression, invasion, and occupation. Millions of civilians lost their lives. Although Iraq has little in terms of infrastructure, and has spent over one hundred billion dollars in the war against ISIS, it hosts, with pride and pleasure, the largest religious gathering in the world, a peace march that receives essentially no attention by the major media outlets in the world since it contradicts the Islamophobic narrative that they advance.
I am going to Karbala and I am not even a Muslim. Many don't think I am even a Christian. Why argue? They are right as far as it goes. Johnny Cash said he was a C-minus Christian. For the likes of a heretic like me, a C-minus is an aspiration. I am afraid I would be an even worse Muslim. So how is it that I am going on the most spiritual event on the planet to honor some of the most important figures of Islam? I don't know. I know many, many Muslims hope to do this their whole lives. I don't take this lightly. I am humbled to be invited by my friends at the Husayniah Society of Seattle, yet on another plane, the invitation comes from Imam Husayn himself, who in my mind, is the spiritual brother of the historical Jesus. The Spirit of Allah. Truth and Goodness is my shorthand.

It is a call from both of these brothers. It is a call. It is a cry. It is a summons:

"Hal man nasirin yansurun?" "Is there anyone to help me?"

And the response from those with ears to hear:

"Labbayk Ya Husayn!" "Here I am, Husayn."

I am here. We are here to hear.
Hear voices silenced by the oppressors and their media.
Hear the cry of Ali Asghar and the children of Yemen.
Hear the cry of the faithful, "Labbayk Ya Husayn!"

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Erased.

(Update: October 5. Just learned from an admin at that group that none of them removed the post. It must have been Facebook.  Take comfort that Big Brother is keeping you safe from mayhem like me).

The Happy to Be Presbyterian Facebook Group is not happy with me. I posted a link to my interview with Fran Shure and after few exchanges (civil from my end) the post was removed. Erased. Even the notifications in my history were removed. I don't know if it was group admins or Facebook who removed it.


It was removed right after I posted a link to a study guide that had been created for David Ray Griffin's book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11.  That book was published by WJK Press of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) over ten years ago. The book was later removed by the PPC in a shameful act of censorship. Dr. Griffin talks about that in his address, 9/11 and Nationalist Faith: How Faith Can Be Illuminating or Blinding.  He addresses Presbyterians in Section 3 B. 

It was a strange feeling to have my work, just a Facebook post in this case, completely erased without a word, to vanish as if it never existed. I broke no rules. I was not aggressive. I did not use bad language. I wasn't even informed as to why the post was removed. Just gone. Why? What else could it be but that the content of what I posted is a direct threat to Empire and to Empire's church? Empire cannot dispute the evidence. It can only try to mock it and when that fails, to erase it.

We cannot live this way, citizens. Those who are seeking to unmask the powers of death and falsehood and bear witness to what they think is true, are being erased.  As Graeme McQueen said in my interview with him:
And so it’s the job of citizens to stand up and say, “We are whole persons. And our perception, and our sense of smell, sense of hearing and sight and touch, they are valid. And we know how to use our intelligence. And we’re going to insist on that. We’re going to speak out loudly for what we believe is the truth.”
I posted the link again. And I wrote this:
A little about myself for those who do not know me. I am a PCUSA minister in good standing and the pastor of a church. I have posted occasionally on this forum, not often, but when I think a particular topic is of interest and importance. I am the host of a podcast and radio show that has aired weekly for nearly seven years. I have interviewed many Presbyterians including two moderators and a vice-moderator. Throughout my ordained ministry, I have been concerned deeply about issues of censorship and the silencing of unpopular voices.  
As it says in our Brief Statement of Faith:  
"In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace."  
This book that I featured for the past four episodes on my radio show offers evidence that should lead people of conscience to explore. The voices I lift up in this show are voices who have been long silenced, censored, vilified, and mocked because they seek to unmask idolatries in church and culture. I am not saying that anyone needs to agree to these voices or even to listen to the podcast. I should, however, be able to post a link to it without my post being removed.

9/11 Unmasked Interview Package

Reposted from Progressive Spirit

I made transcripts for each of the interviews in my series on the 9/11 Consensus Panel.  The panel's book, released on September 11th, 2018 is called 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation.

This series of interviews with transcripts will be a helpful resource for an individual or a study group with an open mind and a courageous heart. We need open minds and courageous hearts. Graeme McQueen, who I interviewed in the first episode in the series, said:
...when your police have failed at their duty, and your intelligence agencies have failed you, and the executive branch has failed, and the legislative branch has failed, and this...enormous crime in the 21st century has happened and isn't being investigated, what do you do? Do you let them get away with the lie? Do you let your democracy be hijacked? I hope not.
and he concluded the episode by saying:
I think it goes to the question, what is a citizen, and ultimately what is a person. I would like to think that at least in a democracy, a citizen is a whole person who is able to perceive the world around them and also to use their intelligence to make sense of it. And that's what people did on 9/11 at the scene. They perceived explosions and clearly called them explosions. They made conclusions with their minds. They said, “Wow, this looks like a building being demolished purposely.” And when a government does what the United States government and frankly almost every government in the world is doing, and dismisses over 100 ordinary citizens standing there perceiving this, they are showing not only disrespect, they're really showing a very degraded notion of what a citizen is. They're treating us like rabble, who are, you know, who can be easily dismissed. So people are supposed to listen to say, U.S. elites, who were not even there that day, when they say there were no explosions? Instead of listening to their fellow human beings who were there and who clearly perceived it. This is a democracy in trouble. This is a democracy that's in danger and unfortunately, it's not just the U.S. My own country, Canada our government, buys all this nonsense as well. And so it's the job of citizens to stand up and say, “We are whole persons. And our perception, and our sense of smell, sense of hearing and sight and touch, they are valid. And we know how to use our intelligence. And we're going to insist on that. We're going to speak out loudly for what we believe is the truth.”
Here are the podcasts and the transcripts for the four episodes:

1) 9/11 Unmasked: A Conversation with Elizabeth Woodworth and Graeme McQueen

PS 132 Woodworth McQueen Transcript

2) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 2: A Conversation with Dwain Deets about Able Danger

PS 133 Deets Transcript

3) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 3: David Chandler and the Day of Magical Physics

PS 134 Chandler Transcript

4) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 4: Fran Shure and the Problem of the Media

PS 135 Shure Transcript