quinta-feira, junho 29, 2006

Liverworts, Lichens, and the United Church

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See also: Hamas - National Reconciliation Document.

Sunday July 9 2006

Sid Ryan responds: Globe: Slurs will not silence us, Source.

Letters to the Globe by Alan Baker, Smadar Meiri-Ordynans, Kenneth Wiener, Arnie Aberman, Al Lando, Brian Weiner, Manuel Matas, and Ismail Zayid.

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarMonday July 3 2006

An article in the Toronto Sun yesterday: Marianne Meed Ward - United, not really, Source; and this in the Globe today: Lysiane Gagnon, When talk becomes anti-Semitic, (Archive).

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarThe picture above shows (left to right) Khaled Mouammar, Frances Combs, Lawrence Pushee, and Naomi Wall. And to the left you can see what Sid Ryan looks like.

I sent a letter to the Globe, which they did not publish (as usual), but I didn't want to lose it, so:

Deciding to side with Sid

I know something about anti-semitism in the United Church. I grew up with it. Prejudice against Jews was fed to me by my mother along with the catechism. The question, "Why do some people wear those little hats?" The answer, "Because they are ashamed before God for killing Christ." Happily for me I lived it down.

Some others obviously didn't. Frances Combs and her committee in the United Church, and Sid Ryan and his committee in CUPE are natural born allies. Both operate within the ideology of bureaucracy, which knows nothing of reality nor truth but only grinds and grinds until something that looks like an answer drops out. The answer is 42 (as any reader of the Hitchhikers Guide knows).

The solution to the fifty year (and much more) internecine war in the Middle East is a lop-sided boycott in Canada? What nonsense! The notion is doomed from the outset. It cannot expect to gain wide acceptance; and even if it does will have almost no effect given the scale of Canadian/Israeli trade. A mere symbolic gesture made by some knowing very little about real violence and brutality, the pampered Canadian hot-house left.

Though they half-heartedly deny it, any reading of their rationales, available on your pages and in detail at their websites, reveals the foundation (if such a word may refer to structures as ambiguous and ill-conceived as these) of their plans to be a not-so-subtle residual bigotry they are unable to hide and unwilling to deal with.

Thursday June 29 2006

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarIn a long-planned move ostensibly to bring peace to the Middle East, Frances Combs and her United Church committee have decided to side with Sid Ryan and CUPE, and by implication Fatah and Hamas, against the Israelis. This is peacemaking? I will tell you what this is - it is a silly know-nothing left-lib cluster-fuck - and it is also closet anti-semitism.

Who are these people?

Frances Combs and Ralph Wushke are at the centre of Bathurst United Church in Toronto. These details came from their website. The picture was taken at her 70th birthday party. Ralph (not directly involved in the boycott project as far as I can see, he just happened to be in the only picture I could find of Frances) is a 'queer theory' specialist of some kind, and from the look of the rainbow on their masthead I would say they are ministering to a gay-accepting flock at the very least, which may put them on the cutting edge of correctitude in Toronto, who knows? Ad hominem right? Irrelevant innuendo? Call it what you will.

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarThe committe comprises Frances Combs, Lawrence Pushee, Jean Lee, Karen Krothers, David Wurfel, Judith Wiseman, and Desmond Parsons; all of the Toronto Conference (an administrative division within the United Church); and they are apparently supported by Bruce Gregersen (left) of the UC General Council.

In a nutshell: How can you claim to be peacemaking when you are supporting one over another in a struggle which anyone knows is about equally evil on both sides? You can't. QED.

Also have to ask if a boycott is really the tactic of choice here? Does it stand a chance of having any effect whatsoever? No, and not likely. They are cooking up a petition to Harper's government to have it adopt the boycott as well. Duh? So it begins to appear to me that what they must be up to is either some wierd kind of self-promotion, a means of continuing to collect their pay and pension cheques (I presume they are being paid), or simple stupidity and incompetence unbridled.

Of course they insist that the Israelis are just, really really really bad eh? And the Palestinians are all such nice people eh? I'm not joking - I spoke to Lawrence Pushee on the telephone last night and that is basically what I got. I did hear Desmond Parsons describe the Hamas Mayor of a town in Palestine as 'a nice guy'.

The token Jew on the committee, Judith Wiseman (no doubt somewhere in the world you can find a Jew to agree with anything, not to mention a WASP, a Muslim, a Greek ... and so on) is reported in the Globe saying, "The questions you are asking can only be asked by someone who refuses to see what's going on, it's time to condemn Israel as a rogue state." Say what? It must be the great circle-jerk of conspiracy theories coming back to eat its' tail.

No surprise that Pushee told me Margaret Wente was lying in her column and misrepresenting and distorting what took place at the news conference. Anything is possible I guess.

Here are some references:
TC/UC: Seeking Peace Through Justice, (Archive).
Globe, June 29: The shame of the United Church, (Archive).
Globe, June 29: CUPE and Israel, (Archive).
Star, June 28: Toronto's United Church to boycott Israeli goods, (Archive).
Globe, 2002: The left must confront its anti-Semitism, (Archive).
The United Church replies:
UC: News - Ethical Investment for Peace in Palestine and Israel.
UC: Detailed proposal on Ethical Investment for Peace in Palestine (pdf).

I have been a member of the United Church all my life. At one time I was second-in-command of the nursery at a big church. I couldn't be 'in charge' of course, that was a job for a woman eh? But I was able to quiet one particular colicky baby boy on a regular basis over a few months until he got over it - his mother was open-mouthed amazed the first time she came in to pick him up after the service and found him asleep in my arms. I did my shift. He's grown up by now.

I made it through the ructions in the 80s and 90s over gay ordination. My objection was to homosexuals being ordained because they were homosexuals. I eventually convinced myself that that was not what they were up to. I think now that I was mistaken, but that's another story.

I was not so easy with calling Denmark racist during the great Mohammedan cartoon fracas a few months ago, since the Danes, uniquely in Hitler's Europe saved virtually every single last one of their Jewish citizens from the ovens; nor with a presentation I attended on the Israeli/Palestine issue given by Desmond Parsons mentioned above, from which I came away thinking that the United Church was turning anti-semitic. Since then I find that I can no longer attend and worship with them.

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarLiverworts (Hepatic Bryophytes) are flexible when it comes to reproduction; they have three modes: sexual; asexual, and fragmentation. When I was at university I did well one year in Botany - I got interested in Lichens and Liverworts and I actually dreamed of going on to do original research and documentation of their remarkable habits. There were two professors for the course, a tall skinny German fellow, and a short plump Jewish one. They were enthusiastic teachers and taught us how to smuggle specimens back from foreign places (in a plastic bag inside a coffee thermos in your hand luggage, with coffee, cold of course) as well as making the material interesting ... well, here I am more than 40 years later still smiling to think of them.

When it came to the Liverworts the lights began to come on for me. They can reproduce with spores generated sexually, with 'propagules' generated asexually, and by simply fragmenting - a process our prof called 'death from behind', if you look at the photographs you can see it in action; the centre rots, freeing the pieces to move away and form new colonies. Maybe later on I will look for some pictures of spore cases and propagules.

Lichens also propagate by 'death from behind'; like the liverworts, they are 'flexible' (check out Leonard Cohen's song Be For Real when he says, "If it's a thrill you're looking for, Honey, I'm flexible. Oh, yeah."). They are also remarkable because an individual consists of two and often three separate species (a fungus, an algae and a bacteria) living mutually.

Lessons in the lives of these plants for Hamas, for the United Church of Canada, but most of all tonight, for me. Esteja bem / be well.

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