Sunday, March 26, 2006

but I didn't speak out against the war because I didn't want anyone to be mad at me."

excerpt from opinion article in, opinion section; Ozark Opinions
by Pastor Roger Ray of National Avenue Christian Church

title and link; Invasion of Iraq was without Justification

excerpt: And, sadly, we must recognize that in this chapter of world history the church, because of its ascent to war or its relative silence, was a partner to the murder of more than 100,000 innocent people.

In the months leading up to the war many pastors told one another that they were personally adamantly against the war but they said nothing publicly for fear of offending members of their church. I just wish that now they could tell the families who have lost fathers, sons, infant children, mothers and sisters, "I was against the war, but I didn't speak out against it because I didn't want anyone to be mad at me."

Or, in this season of Lent, to walk up to the foot of the cross and look up into the bloodied face of the crucified Christ and confess, "I knew the war was wrong, but I was afraid to say anything because my church wants me to always be a moderate on political issues......I hope you understand." end excerpt

I point to the above excerpt as it has been my own question when the community of churches and faith-base look back on their own positions regarding the Iraq war.

My own dismay with my local Episcopal church was the reticence and reluctance among our congregants to discuss the Iraq war. I began preparing my sermons to challenge the concept of war in Iraq in a faith-based context. While they tolerated my sermons as a lay-preacher (in training) in which I challenged the President's decision, the policies and politics that initiated a war and a faith-based response required our voices to speak out, they did not embrace such talk in church on Sundays. A catalyst moment came when Newshour with Jim Lehrer did a segment on military families speaking out. It was newsworthy at that time (Aug 2004) because the long-held tradition of military families is not one of speaking out publicily in what could be interpreted as disrespect; what could be construed as speaking against the Commander-in-Chief/President

I am both a lay-preacher and a military family. We live in a rural and somewhat remote area, off the grid towns and cities of I-5 in Western Washington. It's not a convenient drive for local newscasters and Newshour crew drove out here to film me giving such a sermon one Sunday in August 2004. The segment aired October 2004 and is still online at the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer website. Giving credit to our small, elderly congregants with traditional values that span generations of acculturation for them, I'd say they handled this highly unusual intrusion fairly well. However, for me, still in the training phase towards becoming a licensed Episcopal preacher (relevant in the Episcopal faith heirarchy to make this distinction) I was still in a 'discernment' process and seeking out my own 'calling'; my own 'ministry'. My struggle was with the reality of wearing two hats simultaneously; a military family with 2 loved ones deployed in war in Iraq and my training in faith ministry as a lay preacher.

My own faith and belief set calls out to speak in love for humanity while grappling with complex human realities of our time; not unlike Jesus did in his human-walk if one reads scripture as symbolic and interpretative rather than factually literal. I was very disturbed at the time that it seemed no Christian churches were weighing in with a public voice on war in Iraq/Afghanistan. I also saw for myself as a result of the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer segment there was a ministry calling me in a different direction speaking out to a wider listening audience as a faith-based military family than the small congregation of my church. I chose to follow that calling and that ministry, temporarily interrupting the traditional track for my training as an Episcopal lay preacher.

'Temporary interruption' because I believed at that time lending what influence I could lend to the public discussion of war in Iraq would help influence an early end to the war. 2004 - 2006 I have learned how to become an 'activist', and I'm still learning.

Not until mid to late 2005 did I begin to see some of the churches question their position of silence on war in Iraq. It is regrettable it took the faith community so long to recognize the incongruous position of silence in the face of war-time as inconsistent with Christian teachings; or at least inconsistent with what I have come to have as a personal faith in appreciating Jesus as an example and role model, along with Ghandi, along with Martin Luther King Jr.
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Unseen images of civil rights movement in Birmingham.

Negatives to positives

Discovery in News archives leads to publication of unseen images of civil rights movement in Birmingham.

About the Project
These Birmingham News photographs of the civil rights movement have not been seen by the public. Until now. See more at Unseen. Unforgotten.

Read the full story

Birth of A Movement

Years after "separate but equal" was struck down, laws in Alabama still kept blacks and whites apart.

1956-1961 - See the photos

The Road to Change

Freedom Riders were met with violence as they challenged the customs of segregation in Alabama.

1961 - See the photos

The World Takes Notice

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. turned to civil disobedience when negotiation with business leaders foundered.

1963 - See the photos

Difficult Lessons

Black students' attempts to enroll at local universities were thwarted and sparked legal battles.

1962-1963 - See the photos

Gaining A Voice

Marchers walked for five days, 54 miles that led not only to Montgomery, but to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

1964-1965 - See the photos

Why this is relevant to my blog is because I was 11 yrs old when our military family returned stateside after 4 + yrs overseas. My father, AF, stationed at Keesler AFB, in Mississippi and our family left Okinawa/Japan to relocate to Biloxi, Mississippi in 1962. Television in Japan and Okinawa did not have coverage of the growing Civil Rights movement at that time so it was a most startling discovery for me, at 11 yrs of age, to come back to our home country USA and right into the middle of this historic time.

My perspectives were that of an 11 yr old caucasian child, who had learned to embrace cultural differences. Imagine the confusion to come back to homeland to see our own embroiled in hating our own. No need to say the imprint left on me has stayed with me throughout my lifetime. The imprint of what hate can do to people; the imprint of marginalizing a segment of our own people within our own country; the imprint of discrimination at it's worst; the imprint of racism and hate crimes before such words were well-defined.

At this time of my life, while stationed at yet another military base, I was still forming impressions of adults and the adult world. I came to learn the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his non-violent advocacy to change the dynamics of relationship white to black in the deep south. In my later adult years, I came to admire the enormity of the movement he was leading, and the enormity of change via non-violent confrontation.

Later as I was still a child, the assassinations would follow; President John F. Kennedy; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr; Malcolm X; Robert Kennedy. Oh yes, indelible impressions left on me at a time of re-introduction to my homeland.

By the time I did reach late teens and early adulthood, Vietnam war was raging and defining our options as young people in high school planning for our futures. It was not uncommon and in fact a necessary part of our discussions to ask each other 'what are you going to do about Vietnam war? Wait to see if you are drafted, go to college and get a deferrment, enlist in Natl Guard or Reserves, leave the country?'

Another movement was in full throttle; protest movement against war in Vietnam. I married my high school sweetheart, who was drafted and sent to Vietnam. I made a choice to become pregnant with our first child - in case he did not return. Another forced choice as the options were governed by war-time. We were not ready at 19 yrs old to begin a family, and had not there been the uncertainty of death or maiming in war-time, I'm sure we would have waited several years before beginning our family. I was then a young military wife, keeping the military tradition and culture and not speaking out publicly on the policies, politics and Commander-in-Chief at that time. I did not know how to feel about the protest movement of those years, and even now, decades later, I'm still not sure how I feel about it, having lived a different aspect of it at the time. I'm very sure though, that I would not encourage the young military wives of today with loved ones deployed in Iraq/Afghanistan to hold to the military traditionals of what it means to be a proud, good military wife by keeping silent and enduring stoically.

I can't say concisely what impressions all these turbulence times left on my mind but I can say that now in 2006 and into another turbulent time of dissent with the Iraq war and politics dividing our country into opposing camps of thought/views, it's not a bad time to take a look at our history in past 4 decades. It's ironic that my return to homeland put me in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1962 and now in March 2006, Biloxi doesn't exist any more due to the catastophic damage of Hurricane Katrina. While I saw a southern white population engaged in hating their black neighbors in 1962 = extreme abuse, now I see a primarily white political body engaged in policies of neglect and apathy for their neighbors in Mississippi and Louisiana.

I never planned to become an activist; my life work and profession has been more of that of an advocate. Yet, a war initiated in Iraq by my homeland at a time when I am now among what could be considered the tribal elders, is a time when I must shift to the life of an activist. I cannot leave a legacy to my adult children and grandchildren that does not include the reality of our country's history as they will inherit this homeland as their own and will have need of historical perspective to make their own decisions about their own actions, now and in the years forthcoming.

Lietta Ruger, March 26, 2006
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Privatizing the Columbia Gorge forestland

Privatizing the Columbia Gorge Posted by Picasa

More information at link DK.

From Friends of the Columbia Gorge:

The US Forest Service is proposing to put 300,000 acres of what they call "disposable public lands" out to the highest bidder, including 730 acres in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. [...]

Properties on both sides of the Columbia Gorge are named on the potential sale list. These include lands in Corbett, above Sheppard's Dell and near Cascade Locks in Oregon. On the Washington side, land near Cape Horn, Wind Mountain and above the flooded Celilo Falls would be available to the highest bidder.

The Columbia Gorge is one of the crown jewels of the Pacific Northwest. (Even Reagan apparently recognized this, as it was in 1986 that the Gorge was named as the first National Scenic Areas.) And, bizarrely, even someone in THIS Administration seems to recognize its worth:

Ironically, the President's 2007 budget also calls for $1 million for further land acquisition in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Raymond, WA with it's well known steel statues along the main Hwy 101 corridor when the river floods over. Feb 2006.  Posted by Picasa
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more flooding of the Willapa river and this steel statue looks a bit more surreal...are they really paddling down the river? Raymond, WA, Feb 2006 Posted by Picasa
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We had a bit of flooding; enough that the steel statues on the ajutman land walk by the side of the road appear now to be installed in the river. Raymond, WA, Feb 06 Posted by Picasa
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One Tin Soldier

One Tin Soldier

Listen children to a story that was written long ago
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain, and the valley folk below
On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath a stone
And the valley people swore they'd have it for their very own.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpets blowing, come the judgment day
On the bloody morning after - one tin soldier rides away.

So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill
Came an answer from the kingdom: "With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there.

Now the valley cried with anger, mount your horses, draw your sword!
And they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it -
"Peace on Earth" was all it said.

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In Memory; Saying Adieu to my Dad

My Dad passed Jan 16, 2006. Much more than that I don't want to share here. I made a website to honor him and memorialize the tributes from family. Celebrating Charles L. Ellsworth (Charlie)

The memorial service was well attended by every member of his family along with their families and some of his most dear friends. Everyone contributed and made sacrifices to be there for both Charlie and my mother.

A time of passing and the ache left behind is life-changing. Where does the living essense and spirit that is life pass on to......age old question. Many continue to feel Charlie's presence even after we know his spirit passed out of his body and his body no longer lives. Many speak of strong feeling of knowing he has spoken to them from his new place and reassured them all is well.

I reconcile the loss of him in my own way. ... and for now I'm thankful that I painted several fishing village type scenes with him in mind, including the one I gifted to him while he was alive. I have it back with me now, it soothes me to know the painting meant something to him. I'm thankful that I took time out of busy-ness over the holidays to spend some valued time with him and my mom. ...there is never a way to know if it will be the last memories... Posted by Picasa
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Do Not Go Gentle into the Night

poem by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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movie; The Village

We watched M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Village, one night in Jan 06. And I don't know what it says about us that we enjoyed it, but we did. I don't bother too much about the critical reviews of movies, as usually I find that I don't enjoy what they recommend and do enjoy what they don't recommend. I am not sure what kind of review or ratings The Village received, but we liked it and would recommend it.

Why, because the ending surprised us, and that is one of the good things about not hearing too much about a movie before seeing it. There were few "clues" throughout the movie to lead us to guess at an ending, and so it was nice to be quite surprised when the ending came and we weren't ahead of the movie. And yes, we talked about it afterwards.

The cast is made up of strong actors and actresses, most whom we follow. Joaquin Phoenix is among the actors that we know we will enjoy watching in any movie. Here is a list of the rest of the cast and you almost can't help but have a favorite amongst them....enjoy the movie, The Village and I'd love to hear what you think:

Bryce Dallas Howard .... Ivy Walker
Joaquin Phoenix .... Lucius Hunt
Adrien Brody .... Noah Percy
William Hurt .... Edward Walker
Sigourney Weaver .... Alice Hunt
Brendan Gleeson .... August Nicholson
Cherry Jones .... Mrs. Clack
Celia Weston .... Vivian Percy
John Christopher Jones .... Robert Percy
Frank Collison .... Victor
Jayne Atkinson .... Tabitha Walker
Judy Greer .... Kitty Walker
Fran Kranz .... Christop Crane
Michael Pitt .... Finton Coin
Jesse Eisenberg .... Jamison
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In the Desert, by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter", he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

- Stephen Crane, 'In The Desert'
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Rising to the morning routines, simple pleasures.

thoughts on a winter morning; Feb 01, 2006

It is one of those crisp winter days this morning. We wake up, immediately turn on our respective computers, catch up on what's new or better said, more of the same, and as the sun comes up, we are drawn like a magnet to beginning the day. Husband goes about the business of morning preparations to go to work. I, on the other hand, mentally lay out the plans for my day. I send him off in our usual morning routine. What that looks like is stepping out on the porch into the bracing chill, calling for our dog Jake, to make sure he is around and not off chasing an adventure somewhere in the neighborhood, and locating our cat, Lance.

Jake, as usual, comes trotting out of where-ever he chose to sleep for the night, sometimes on the porch, sometimes outside. Lance is either inside, curled up someplace or outside and ready to come in. I give Jake his morning "treat" and he waits patiently, wagging his tail. He knows the routine...Daddy will go get in the truck and Mommy will give the dog a bone.

Our little entourage then waves Daddy off as he heads down the street and I take in the morning sights. I take a look at the sunrise to see what kind of day we will have, look over to the bay water to see what color it is this morning and how the water is moving or not moving. I look to the neighbors' houses to see who is up and about, who has left for the day. I check to make sure the cat has food in his dish and then am reminded to remember whether I fed the two beta fish last night. I often forget to remember to feed those two, as it's hard to have a relationship with a couple of fish swimming in vases. The two beta fish and the cat are inheritances, acquired when my daughter's family was finally able to move to Germany.

So quietly my own day begins. Which is exactly the way I like it to be, for the most part. I used to be part of that morning preparations to get ready for work and remember well that "morning rush" which I rarely enjoyed. The hair, the grooming, the make-up, choosing the clothes, putting on what I called the "uniform" constricting the flow to focus on the taskings as set forth by employer/employment. Rushing to the car, checking the time, flying down the road so we wouldn't be "late" and then arriving, stepping into the office, and that whole aura of 9 + hours and this place owns me.

This quiet and leisurely way to start the day is a contrast which I still relish and savor. As the sun finishes it's rise, I now know the tone of the weather for the day. I decide if I will open the blinds and curtains or let it remain awakening time a bit longer. Today it is sunshine, and light streams in, so the blinds and curtains are opened. We get a fair amount of rainy days here and sometimes I like to open the blinds where I sit at the computer to watch the rain fall and listen to it hitting the metal roof.

Lance isn't sure what he wants to do, and Jake has a strange gift to attend to outside. I closed up the porch last night, meaning to keep him in only long enough to eat his food, since he likes to share it with all the neighborhood dogs, and forgot to open the porch door last night before going to sleep. Jake then was rather locked in then last night, not his usual routine. So I know he could not have brought that hooved deer leg into the yard, yet there it is this morning. Where did it come from? Which dog brought it and now, of course, Jake is seriously interested.

Meantime the birds are busy on the metal roof making a racket and doing whatever they do on the roof. I take Lance outside to do his bird-monitoring thing and he is busy now prowling on the deck railing trying to keep up with the movement of the birds. And I thought I'd just blog about how our mornings begin. I'm so weary of blogging my other blogs and the war and the politics which have highjacked my daily life simple wonders in my own consuming focus to try to influence getting our troops home, thus hopefully ending some of the carnage and destruction that go on daily in Iraq. See how those thoughts creep in even as I write to the simple pleasures of my morning wake-up routine.

Well time to start the day..............
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Hopi Elders Prayer

Hopi Elders Prayer

From the Hopi Elders

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

Here are the things that must be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know our garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off toward the middle
of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of
all ourselves!
For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lonely wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona, Hopi Nation
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Troubled; Ownership Society; dvd The Corporation

something I posted in June 05 as a thinking out loud after watching dvd 'The Corporation".

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Troubled; Ownership Society; dvd The Corporation

Watched dvd 'The Corporation' last night. It was troublesome contemplating what's ahead and in store for not only our country but on the global scale. As I watched it and let the fullness of the implications wash over me; the words Ownership Society kept coming into my thoughts. This is a phrase that president bush uses which I've construed to mean something closer to what I think I understand. But in watching The Corporation last night, I think the light bulb came on for me in grasping a larger and sadly, a more sinister meaning.

Ownership of what is now considered public domain; commons; free as provided by nature; ie, water, sky, land, trees, lifeforms. An example of water being owned by privatization in Bolivia where residents must actually pay for use of water that was formerly freely available; rivers and the trade off in spending their meager income for either water or food or shelter. Yeah, so, that is already true in our own country. But somehow the immensity of the concept came flooding through for me last night in seeing the beginnings of a much different global concept than I could have begun to imagine.

The Corporation demonstrated with side by side interviews of corporate executives along with people who have reflected on the implications along with some activist movements efforts. It demonstrated the origins of 'corporation' back to the Civil War times and the addition of the 14th amendment intended to honor the newly freed black population. Attorneys at the time read the life, liberty, pursuit of happiness of a person as an opportunity on which they might capitalize by submitting that a corporation was a 'person'. It was recognized as such by judicial review and has been so ever since.

The Corporation showed a bit about the progression of 'corporations' as formed in the earlier days and how different was a corporation in the 1950s (my era) as compared to today's predatory practices. It hasn't been on my radar screen to pay close enough attention other than recognition that big business and corporations seems to have taken center stage in the workings of our country. And of course, Halliburton and Iraq, give a strong clue that something has shifted extremely as the decades have passed.

I can describe a feeling level I've had more on intuitive level than knowledgeable from having information to make discerning judgment. A registering in the not so conscious areas that kick up the sense of survival instincts without knowing what it is exactly I'm trying to outdistance to survive.

1980s is where I began to feel the shift, I think. A time when my own children were coming into their pre-teen and teen years. It seemed to me that suddenly 'labels' on clothing and shoes took on a much elevated importance than I could begin to comprehend. I didn't buy into it and didn't promote it for my children; rather I resisted it as a fad that would pass and began in earnest to try to train my children that the uniting self-identity and self-esteem to outward clothing symbols was superficial and created a vulnerable artificial reinforcement of personal identity and place in the world. But, at the time, I thought it was just me and my personal approach and thought the fad of it would pass in time. How wrong I was....

1990s and my children are coming into their adult years, starting to have their own children. I'm starting to feel like I'm being marshalled into a standard of living not of my own definitions, but pushed by a shift in societal definitions and I don't like it. I start quietly resisting in my own way with no full or clear understanding of what it is I am resisting. I move away from city and urban life to quieter and more remote areas, smaller towns, a less fast paced rythmn. At the time such language as 'meaningful living' is circulating. Yeah, that must be what I'm doing, I think. Sure, yeah, that's it.

The kids are grown now and seem to be doing all right for the most part, the country is in peace time and seeming to prosper and flourish. I'm not sure I agree with what has become important to folks as a measure of their standing based on their acquisitions but the country seems to be happy with it, so it must be me. I'm the odd one, the odd woman out of step.

Boom, 2000 and Suddenly there is a peculiar shift with the 2000 elections, a president bush who won by judicial favor and I'm alerted to 'politics' with a recognition that I don't really know much and I better learn more but he'll be gone in 4 years and how much damage can happen in 4 years? After all this country has survived political shifts before and this one will be politics as usual.....

Boom, Sept 11, 2001. The world changes in one day. The world I know, relate to, comprehend and understand has been altered by the incredulous event on that day. The world changes for us all, in ways I could not begin to have had prior knowledge. And now every day since then, I feel like I have been playing at 'catch up' because others did seem to know and have a prior agenda of events to unfold with the changing of the guard as marked by 911.

Well, there is more, but enough for this posting for now. Noting that the dvd 'The Corporation' and the concepts presented will be sitting with me for a long while now as I ponder my own next steps in how to react, respond to our changing world, feeling very much like I'm miles behind the current flowing forth in today's political, religious, corporate, war, global agendas as they meld into meaning one thing with very little lines of demarcation to separate one thing from the other.

I'm not lost, by no means, and I've felt it inwardly for many years now, just lacked a sense of how to express the shifts I was feeling were happening not to me but all around me and how I was reacting to those shifts. I need some time now to pull back and let the inward spirit do it's job of guiding me through some turbulent waters. It's not about me and my survival; it's about my children, their children and the generations to come. It's not about activism, it's not about politics, it's not about even a sense that I as one person am empowered to do much and what it is about is that a shift has decidedly occurred. I'm not sure it can be put back the way it was in a way I used to understand and be able to relate to and I'm not entirely sure that putting it back the way it was is the path to take just now.

As a people among people, sharing life with other life and life forms on this plentiful planet with abundant resources, it assuredly seems we are headed in a direction of shooting ourselves in the heart with an unabated greed. But those are the words of the activists and fall on deaf ears on a large scale. I'm not saying or touting something new there, it just seems the time to quiet my self and wait instead of running into a burning house trying to save the precious life's almost feeling like the fire is in full rage already and I'm perhaps slow to notice it's been burning for longer than my first notice of it engulfed in flames.

I rushed off to grab my garden hose and add my little trickle along with others who had done the same to try to squelch the flames. Now I'm stepping back and looking on and wondering if it is not already a lost cause; is it salvageable. No, that is not pessimism or doomsday talk; I hope it is a more realistic grappling with the new realities that face us all.
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Lietta at home with her loveable aussie Posted by Picasa
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