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February 11, 2011

Speaker Tupac Enrique Acosta, Tonatierra
Tupac Enrique Acosta speaks at march to the Arizona State Capitol Building on Cinco de Mayo 2010. (photo: ©Charles Dee Rice Photography/Flickr )

I did not go to jail expecting to meet a theologian. But jail was where I met Tupac Enrique Acosta. Tupac, like me, was arrested in front of one of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s offices for protesting against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070 on July 29, 2010. Unlike me, Tupac had an analysis of the bill’s place in history that put it firmly within the context of the ongoing repression of the indigenous peoples of North America.

February 06, 2011

Afghan Family
Akbar, Rahima, and children two years after emigrating from Afghanistan. (photo courtesy of the author)

In 2001 my husband approached me about hosting an Afghan refugee family of four. I was hesitant. But my reservations — lice, tuberculosis, loss of solitude — seem petty and insulting now. In the end, they were outweighed by his enthusiasm.

So our family arrived one evening just before Memorial Day, exhausted from long travel. We stood outside nodding, smiling, shaking hands. Akbar wore a dark suit, Rahima a blouse and skirt and heels, the children ribbons and a bow tie and shined shoes. We had pizza and soda and very few words.

January 24, 2011

A guest post from Charity Burns on her new-found respect for the Sufi poet while slipping on an icy Brooklyn sidewalk.

January 20, 2011

Hunt's Bay Jewish Cemetery

At the outskirts of Kingston lies Hunts Bay Jewish Cemetery, Jamaica’s oldest burial ground still in use today. The cemetery has recently been inventoried and mapped, and is now a Jamaica National Heritage Trust Site. Inventory work continues this month on another cemetery in Jamaica, the Orange Street Jewish Cemetery, a 200-year-old bet haim (“house of life”).

January 11, 2011

I Am

Perhaps your readers will enjoy this graphic meditation on being that was inspired by the book I Am That by Sri Nisargadatta Majaraj.


Leland R. BeaumontLeland R. Beaumont is an electrical engineer and computer scientist who is constantly curious about how the world works.

We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.


January 10, 2011

Sunset with Twisted Oak
(photo: Scott Jungling/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

I so enjoyed your show with the poet Ms. Alexander. It emboldened me to forward one of my poems. “Twisted” is a biographical and personal reflection of God’s grace unfolding in the life of someone (myself as well as others), who with the benefit of years of hindsight, can agree with those before them who said, “My soul looks back and wonder, how I got over!”

Twisted

        By Empty Tomb

A bastard born,
Not meant to be,
No concept of my father’s tree.
Without a compass, adrift at sea,
Another brother … twisted.

January 05, 2011

Egyptian Christians Hold Blood-Stained Portrait of Jesus Christ
Egyptian Christians hold a blood-stained portrait of Jesus Christ during a protest late on January 2, 2011 outside the Al-Qiddissine (The Saints) church in Alexandria.
(photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

In April 2006, hundreds of Egypt’s Alexandrian Christians gathered to mourn the death of 78-year-old Nushi Girgis, a Christian who was stabbed at St. Mark and St. Peter’s Church during one of a series of attacks on churches in the city that year. As the crowd walked down the street, chanting religious hymns, people began throwing stones from their balconies. The scene quickly turned violent, pitting Muslims against Christians.

December 31, 2010

South Dakota Farmland and Big Horizon

When I first lived in the upper Great Plains, I did so as a freshman at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. I still remember the day when my parents’ car pulled away and I was standing by my dorm wondering why I had decided to move almost 800 miles from my home in Montana. While I would miss my parents and friends, I began to miss the mountains almost immediately.

I felt like Beret, the female protagonist in Giants in the Earth who left her home in Norway and moved to Dakota Territory. The vast grasslands and harsh climate nearly drove her mad. When I would look outward, I would think, “There’s nothing to see.” Flat land seemed to stretch everywhere and yet nowhere. Corn fields and soy beans. 

December 25, 2010

Day 26 01/26/2010 - A Mother and Her Son
A Christmas tree stands a month after Christmas last year. Ashley, who had recently overcame thyroid cancer, kisses her son Trey, who was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis.
(photo: Fred Erlenbusch/Flickr)

December 25, 2010

Waiting for a Train
“Waiting for a Train” in Régua, Portugal (photo: Rosino/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

I nearly stood up my very first client on the first day of my first job in social work. Graduate school had not prepared me for the intricacies of the scheduling system at the community health center where I was working. By the time I figured things out, I was nearly half an hour late for the appointment.

December 25, 2010

Christmas Divided
photo: Stuart Pilbrow

It’s become customary this time of year to hear concerns expressed about the loss of Christmas spirit. Sometimes these fears are more about one’s cultural identity — and the sense that one’s group is losing power and influence — than they are about the actual meaning of Christmas. At other times, one hears something that sounds less reactionary and more like a thoughtful: Have our Christmas rituals lost some of their meaning? Have they become old and tired or do they pale in comparison to more novel inventions?

December 25, 2010

The Virgin of the Hedges
A statuette of the Virgin Mary in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. (photo: Michael O’Donnell/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

This Advent I am reminded of the meeting Mary had with Elizabeth to announce she was with child. Though this could have been a time of anxiety for Mary, with Elizabeth it became a time of celebration. I playfully call the following account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth the first baby shower:

December 23, 2010

A guest contributor uses poetry as a vehicle for processing his faith, doubts and depression during the Advent season.

December 22, 2010

Amanda Gormley with Horse

The first time I prayed the Islamic prayer, or salat, I stood in my living room in the silvery morning just moments before dawn. I was self-conscious and unsure of what to do. I had prepared flash cards to help me through the complicated process of standing, sitting, and bowing while reciting verses in Arabic. I stood facing Mecca and folded my right hand across my chest. My left hand clutched a flash card that read:

Bismillah ah Rahman ah Raheem
In the name of God, the most gracious, most merciful

Alhamdu lil-ahi rab-bil alamin
All praise be to the Lord, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds

Ah rahman-ah rahim
The most merciful, most gracious

Maliki yawmid-deen
Master of the day of judgment

December 21, 2010

by Peg Aloi, guest contributor

When I was little, and like many kids before me, Christmas was special for many reasons that had very little to do with the birthday of baby Jesus. I loved the twinkling lights, decorating cookies, eating the savory dishes my Italian grandparents served on Christmas Eve, cutting down our tree in the forest, and singing Christmas carols accompanied by Mom on her Hammond organ. I was raised Catholic, but my parents weren’t terribly strict, and so for me Christmas was always a fairly secular experience.

December 21, 2010

Buddha Moon - Buddha Stones
“Buddha Moon - Buddha Stones” (photo: H. Kopp-Delaney/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year. The other day I was wondering what it must have been like to be one of the early humans, before there was a body of cultural and scientific knowledge built up to assure us that the light would, indeed, return as we turned the corner on this day and headed once again toward spring. It must have been terrifying to see the sun drop lower and lower in the sky each day and the night grow longer and longer without really knowing if that trajectory would reverse.

So this is a dark time — not only astronomically but also the world feels dark right now.

December 21, 2010

Of all the lessons my children take from our family’s winter solstice celebration, this is the one I hope they remember most: even in the midst of the darkness, within you is the luminous glow that will, in perfect timing, spark the return of your joy. Nurture and honor it, always.

December 19, 2010

by Jessica Kramer, guest contributor

mom's birthday breakfast
“Mom’s birthday breakfast” (photo: Jessica Kramer/Flickr)

Christmas is almost upon us. In seeking God during this time, I have sought renewal in the darkness of winter, in the stillness in which to hear God. This fourth week of Advent brings promise of harmony, that the (often disjointed) pieces of our lives, hearts, and emotions might be joined into a single, but rich and layered, sound of joy.

December 07, 2010

by Peter A. Friedrichs, guest contributor

Waiting at Disneyland
Awaiting Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee at Disneyland. (photo: huffmans/Flickr)

Advent is a time of waiting. For Christians, it’s a time of waiting for the arrival of the Christ child. For others, Advent is a time of waiting for a hoped-for future, waiting for the time of bleakness to pass and for new joy to arrive.

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December 01, 2010

Do Christmas ham and potato latkes go together? Can Santa visit as well as Judah Maccabee?" ˜guest contributor Adena Cohen-Bearak reflects on reconciling Chanukah and Christmas.

November 29, 2010

"Human Tapestry" by Marsha Glaziere

“Human Tapestry” is a three-dimensional painting running on and off the canvas that measures 6 feet high by 16 feet wide by 24 inches deep. The work is visual prospect for international peace and the continuation of life on our shared planet.

Eleven life-sized figures represent various countries and political ideologies. Each is draped in her own flag, her own nationalism, seemingly separate and distinct from that of any other country. While each flag is a symbol of a reciprocal system of language and customs of the people of an individual nation, it also serves to define geographic boundary lines on the earth.

The flag then becomes a symbol of separatism rather than alliance. Instead of recognizing our common human bonds and celebrating our universality, we see ourselves as isolated and often superior to one another.

November 28, 2010

A guest contributor reflects on how being still with life's deaths and resurrections connects her to the universe.

November 09, 2010

1st Amendment
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution etched on the doors going into the Mass Media building at Western Kentucky University. (photo: Alan Hudson/Flickr)

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