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Archive for Trump

Prayers for the Kurds and Leadership in this Country

This past Sunday we lifted up prayers for the Kurds in Northern Syria. Let us also pray for our personal and collective moral leadership in this country.  Who would dare to be a US ally, when the betrayal of allies has become our  hallmark? Our President has betrayed the Kurds in the most cynical way, giving a “green-light” to Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria and thus betraying the Kurds who have been our allies in fighting ISIS.  

Why did he do this?  I’d like to share with you reflections from Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite  who is President and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. 

It is an abrupt reversal of years of U.S. policy. Israel, a key ally in the region, is said to be particularly shaken by this sudden move, about which they apparently had no notice. Headlines from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz tell the tale: “Trump’s Kurdish Treachery” and “Trump Roundly Slammed.”

The Middle East is a delicate web of international alliances and histories. The one thing this region hates is sudden moves without consulting allies. As The Washington Post reported: “The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and subsequent Turkish attacks on Kurdish fighters have badly rattled Israel’s national security experts, who decried President Trump’s action as a betrayal of loyal allies and evidence that Israel’s most vital supporter is a fickle friend at best.”

But maybe, as in many Trump actions, it has nothing very much to do with the interests of allies in the Middle East such as Israel, or even the best security interests of the people of the United States, and a lot to do with the interests of Donald Trump.

In 2015, Trump gave a radio interview in which he said, “I have a little conflict of interest ’cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul … It’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one, not the usual one, it’s two.”

As it turns out, it’s more than a little conflict of interest. Trump doesn’t own these towers, he leases his name. And it’s been very lucrative, per reporting from Mother Jones: “According to personal financial disclosures filed by Trump, since he launched his bid for the presidency, he has earned somewhere between $3.2 million and $17 million in royalties from the deal. (The amounts are given in ranges; the precise figures are unclear.)” 

So Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his current supporter, Aydin Dogan, the wealthy owner of these glass towers with Trump’s name on them, have quite a hold on Donald Trump. Erdogan has actually threatened to remove Trump’s name from the towers in the past when he has done something Erdogan doesn’t like.

Maybe this betrayal of the Kurds is just as simple and terrible as keeping Trump’s name on two towers in Istanbul, and the security interests of the world be damned. Literally.

The world’s religions reserve a special scorn for those who betray their friends, especially for financial gain. In the Christian scriptures, Judas is said to have agreed to betray Jesus for “thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26: 14-16)

In the climactic scene from the movie “A Man for All Seasons,” Sir Thomas More is betrayed by Richard Rich, who has been bribed to do it by being made attorney general of Wales. More tries one last time to get his former friend to repent, and he quotes Jesus of Nazareth on what it does to a person to betray another for money. “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world (Matthew 16:26). But for Wales?”

Betrayal of a friend for a real estate deal, even one as big as the whole world, profits you nothing, Jesus argues. Thus, we might paraphrase Jesus words as follows:

“Donald, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for your name on two glass towers?”   

Let us pray, as a nation, for the restoration of our souls. 

 blessings, pastor Laurie 

Immigration: Who Is My Neighbor?

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord,
“My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2

 In light of President Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries, we are once again confronted with the question: who is my neighbor?

Join us this Sunday as we explore the ethics and biblical teachings about sanctuary. Joining us to share his experiences with the sanctuary movement is Bob Lane. In addition to working with the justice task forces in his home church, the Mt. Diablo, UU Church, Bob is an active member of the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME).  FAME is a coalition of clergy, lay leaders and congregations that works in solidarity with marginalized groups toward the Beloved Community where all persons have their basic needs met, where every person’s worth is recognized and affirmed, and where the dignity of labor and of all those who perform it is honored.  FAME is currently a part of the New Sanctuary Movement providing accompaniment and protection for those targeted for displacement and dispossession.

This Sunday we will also be collecting donations, food & clothing for those most vulnerable here in Oakland, including undocumented families. (please read the announcement about “Souperbowl Sunday“) 

Also, speaking about sanctuary is our very own Mirtha Ninayahuar, who’s advocacy work over the past few years has been life-changing, not only for the families she has supported, but also for her.

According to a Jan 31st  New York Times article, the children around the world who most need emergency international assistance come mainly from the countries singled out in President Trump’s order barring entry to the US, according to a United Nations assessment. 

“This shows who the ban really impacts: the world’s most vulnerable, women and children who are fleeing terror,” said Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president at the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization focused on refugees. “America is turning away from its leadership role on refugee resettlement, and it is refugees who are paying the price.”

 Blessings and peace, Pastor Laurie

Find Common Ground

joy-nature-sunsetIt certainly is hot these days!

Were you one of the 81 million people who watched the presidential debates live on Monday?

I watched it, along with about 200 other people at Everett and Jones BBQ in Jack London square. The location was sweltering hot given Monday’s 90 degree temp; the crowd of rowdy, emotional people; and the huge portions of steaming hot BB chicken and ribs. It was surreal- a bit like watching a Warriors game during the playoffs with a bunch of Warriors fans.

I imagined during the evening the millions of other viewers and voters watching with other like- minded people, and I was thinking about how polarized our country has become. More than ever, we need to learn ways to open up conversations with people very different from us in order to find common ground;  from our most intimate relationships, to our global geo-political relationships, to our relationship with the earth and with all of creation.

This Sunday we celebrate World Communion and the feast of one of my favorite saints, St Francis, lover of the poor, and lover of all creatures.

I invite you on this World Communion Sunday, to join us as we seek to bring forth a truer sense of communion within ourselves, with all people, and with all of life. Join us for our annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday at 3 pm! And like us on Facebook!

I leave you with the refrain from St Francis’s Canticle of the Sun:

The heavens are telling the glory of God, 
And all creation is shouting for joy! 
Come, dance in the forest, come, play in the field, 
And sing, sing to the glory of the Lord! 

Listen here!
Blessings,  Pastor Laurie,   (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com