Friday, December 29, 2006

Mike Evans, Actor in ‘The Jeffersons,’ Dies at 57

By The Associated Press

TWENTYNINE PALMS, California (AP) - Actor Mike Evans, best known as Lionel Jefferson in the TV comedy series “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” has died. He was 57.

Evans, who was born in Salisbury, N.C., died of throat cancer Dec. 14 at his mother’s home in Twentynine Palms, said his niece, Chrystal Evans.

Evans, along with Eric Monte, also created and wrote for “Good Times,” one of the first TV comedy series that featured a primarily black cast.

Michael Jonas Evans was born Nov. 3, 1949. His father, Theodore Evans Sr., was a dentist while his mother, Annie Sue Evans, was a school teacher.

The family moved to Los Angeles when Evans was a child.

He studied acting at Los Angeles City College before getting the role of Lionel Jefferson in the 1970s situation comedy “All in the Family.”

Evans kept the role of Lionel when “The Jeffersons” launched in 1975. The hit show was a spinoff featuring bigoted Archie Bunker’s black neighbors in Queens who “move on up to the East Side” of Manhattan.

Evans was replaced by Damon Evans (no relation) for four years, then he returned to the series from 1979 to 1981.

He also acted in the 1976 TV miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” and made guest appearances on the TV series “Love, American Style” and “The Streets of San Francisco.” His last role was in a 2000 episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

In recent years he had invested in real estate in Southern California.

Posted by Nuttshell on 12/29 at 12:24 AM
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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Twas’ The Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
With no thought of the dog filling their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap,
Knew he was cold, but didn’t care about that.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Figuring the dog was free of his chain and into the trash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a luster of mid-day to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Santa Claus- with eyes full of tears.

He unchained the dog, once so lively and quick,
Last year’s Christmas present, now painfully thin and sick;
More rapid than eagles he called the dog’s name,
And the dog ran to him, despite all his pain.

“Now Dasher, now Dancer, on Prancer, and Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
Let’s find this dog a home, where he’ll be loved by all.”

I knew in an instant there would be no gifts this year,
For Santa had made one thing quite clear;
The gift of a dog is not just for the season,
We had gotten the pup for all the wrong reasons.

In our haste to think of the kids a gift,
There was one important thing that we missed.
A dog should be family, and cared for the same,
You don’t give a gift and put it on a chain.

And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight,
“You weren’t giving a gift! You were giving a life!”

Posted by rosevine69 on 12/23 at 12:45 PM
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Friday, December 22, 2006

I was embarassed to post this, but in the name of bad taste I just had to.

If you haven’t seen the R. Kelly video “Trapped in the Closet” then let this be your introduction to the craziness that is R Kelly.

Posted by SPN on 12/22 at 11:02 AM
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But, You Didn’t See Me

I saw you, hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line.
But, you didn’t see me, put an extra $10 in the collection plate last Sunday.

I saw you, pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk.
But, you didn’t see me, playing Santa at the local mall.

I saw you, change your mind about going into the restaurant.
But, you didn’t see me, attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief.

I saw you, roll up your window and shake your head when I drove by.
But, you didn’t see me, driving behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

I saw you, frown at me when I smiled at your children.
But, you didn’t see me, when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless.

I saw you, stare at my long hair.
But, you didn’t see me, and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

I saw you, roll your eyes at our leather coats and gloves.
But, you didn’t see me, and my brothers donate our old coats and gloves to those that had none.

I saw you, look in fright at my tattoos.
But, you didn’t see me, cry as my children were born and have their name written over and in my heart.

I saw you, change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere.
But, you didn’t see me, going home to be with my family.

I saw you, complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be.
But, you didn’t see me, when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.

I saw you, yelling at your kids in the car.
But, you didn’t see me, pat my child’s hands, knowing he was safe behind me.

I saw you, reading the newspaper or map as you drove down the road.
But, you didn’t see me, squeeze my wife’s leg when she told me to take the next turn.

I saw you, race down the road in the rain.
But, you didn’t see me, get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date.

I saw you, run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time.
But, you didn’t see me, trying to turn right.

I saw you, cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in.
But, you didn’t see me, leave the road.

I saw you, waiting impatiently for my friends to pass.
But, you didn’t see me. I wasn’t there.

I saw you, go home to your family.
But, you didn’t see me. Because, I died that day you cut me off.

I was just a biker,.....
A person with friends and a family.

BUT, YOU DIDN’T SEE ME

Please, take the extra second to look for motorcycles. We have a hard enough time trying to stay alive avoiding drunk drivers and old people who can’t see a Mack truck, let alone a bike; people talking on phones and amusing themselves with other distractions.

Posted by SPN on 12/22 at 09:57 AM
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Monday, December 18, 2006

Not in my backyard, either

After the poor kids next door took advantage of me, I felt sympathy for the people of Houston, who’ve suffered crime and violence because of struggling Katrina exiles.
By Debra J. Dickerson as published in Salon Magazine

Dec. 18, 2006 | Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina opened America’s eyes about just how fragile the poor are and just how black and brown poverty remains, it’s hard to figure out what the public thinks about the hundreds of thousands of victims who are still displaced. It’s hard for me to figure what I think. Two different story lines battle it out in the media. One is about the hardships the New Orleans exiles face, the other is about the hardships the refugees themselves are inflicting on the cities where they now live.

These largely poor, largely black refugees face the end of free housing and other post-disaster public assistance. At the same time, they are being blamed for crime and social dysfunction in their new homes. Just as unsurprising as the racist fables about bestial black hordes running amok in the SuperDome after the storm are the more recent stories from Houston, where 100,000 refugees have worn out their welcome.

Houston is now experiencing a crime wave and a surge in murder, allegedly presided over by lawless, rampaging “Katricians.” Katrina evacuees were either suspects or victims in 59 killings in the first eight months of 2006, or one in five Houston homicides. They have become the poster people for fear-mongering Houston gun dealers and the subject of much public debate. Kinky Friedman, erstwhile Texas gubernatorial candidate and supposed political maverick, dismissed them as “thugs and crackheads.” I am surprised and chagrined to say that I can relate to the people of Houston. 

As much as racism created and sustains this situation, the fact is, poor folks can seem like unreachable creatures, ever needy, inscrutable and impervious to uplift, from another planet. I know because I come from the inner city, because I am very involved in community work, but also because, until recently, the equivalent of Katrina evacuees lived next door to me. Much as I didn’t want to admit it that first year, they were a blight on our middle-class neighborhood and simply did not belong there. I’m glad (and unsurprised) that they were evicted. Relieved. And sadly sure that, absent concerted and sustained intervention, they are doomed to go on living as they always have—like perpetual evacuees, dependent on the largesse of others, defeated by America’s cutthroat capitalism and blind to its well-disguised avenues of escape.

Neighborhood gossip, to which I was necessarily not privy until it was too late, was that the “Smiths” were living in the house via Catholic Charities. Maybe it was Catholic Charities, maybe it was Section 8—who knows and what’s the difference? In any event, and given the blur of any move, it took me a few days to notice that black people lived next door (we were the only two black families) and that a never-ending stream of children ebbed and flowed from their house at all hours of the day and night. After two weeks or so, I calculated that there were seven kids (plus one mom and four surnames) next door. Their house, like mine, has three bedrooms, one bath. It was, of course, the male teenagers that most caught my eye.

As a single mom of two tots, the young men worried me, mostly because they were so idle, sauntering aimlessly down the center of our busy street, lolling on their tiny porch, riding seatless bicycles in languorous, unpredictable, traffic-snarling circles. They were going nowhere very slowly. The yard overgrown, untended and strewn with litter in a neighborhood where the men often came home for lunch to tend already manicured lawns and plant new shrubbery. Why no team uniforms on these kids, no backpacks, no school projects carted home in cardboard boxes?

Unsmiling, they watched me, never crossing the driveway to help with my packages like the other families did, hip me to the garbage schedule, introduce themselves. Growing up, I learned the primary lesson of inner-city survival: Never show fear. Grown, I also knew that ghetto toughness is a necessary mask its purveyors are all too ready to shed; I made eye contact and was proactively nice from Day One. If I didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt, who would?

I learned all their names and gave each a friendly smile—Mom, too, when she took her rare TV breaks for air. Surprised and grateful, whenever they saw my soccer mom minivan pull up (carless, they were ferried about by a succession of white ladies with the lanyards of various social service agencies dangling round their necks), whoever was lolling about greeted me warmly. I thought we were off to a good start when they called me “Miss Debra” unprompted. Ah, I thought. Poor, but with home training, just as I had been. I can work with this. And the youngest two became instant playmates with my own. Alas, I relaxed too soon.

Quickly, my fears of violence, crime or drugs emanating from their home were squashed, but I was there less than two weeks before receiving the first of several visits from the police investigating child neglect claims from next door. Still, that first year, I said nothing when they ran about shoeless and coatless in the frigid winter; I knew they had ragged outerwear and their mother was always home. I said nothing when they hit each other in the head with the huge plastic soda bottles they were never without and yelled so loudly at each other that heads popped out of doors for half a block in each direction—they were playing.

I took them with us to the park, to baseball games, and to most of the cultural events my family attended. Their mother always said yes before I could even finish the offer and never wrote down my offered cellphone number. Before I accepted that Sam’s Club’s offerings were more than my small family could efficiently consume, I took a chance on sharing my extras with “Mary” and she gratefully accepted. So gratefully that, before long, she was sending the kids over with requests: “Mama say we need sugar.” I sent over a 5-pound bag. A week later: “Mama say we need sugar.” “Mama say we need orange juice.” “Mama say, we hungry.” Each request came complete with prolonged, drug-bust-style banging on my window though the doorbell is brightly illuminated. “Mama say we need meat.” “No, she say we need four rolls of toilet paper. And soap.” “You don’t got no sour cream chips?”

They had no tools, no salt for the sidewalks, no batteries for the broken toys that littered their yard and which the kids hopefully offered in exchange for the use of mine’s Toys “R” Us bonanza. When the child I sent home to be bandaged (they played so roughly) came back still bleeding and undisinfected, I left a Megalo-Mart, industrial-size box of bandages and a four-pack of Neosporin on the broken porch chair I used as the drop site for my donations. The next few days, I watched the Smith kids run about festooned head to toe in Winnie the Pooh steri-strips. The next time “Mama said we need Band-Aids” I said I was all out.

It was this summer, though, that I reached my tolerance limit. I learned that they were using my kids to score free snacks at the corner gas station. My kids. Begging. I nearly broke my ankle stepping into a foot-deep hole they’d dug in my front lawn. I found my son playing with a claw hammer lying abandoned in their junkyard of a backyard and my daughter trying to heft a 12-pound bowling ball. But the kicker was the youngest two’s increasing demands that I be their mother. When I rubbed sunscreen on mine, it wasn’t enough that I offered it to them—big-eyed and pleading, they begged me to rub it on them, too. They peremptorily ordered cones when I took mine to meet Mr. Softee. Seeing me strap the kids into their car seats, they flew outside saying, “Mama say we can go, too.”

They insisted on equal access to my kids’ bikes and toys; I’d come home to find them playing on my porch and in my backyard, asking when dinner was. They strew their garbage everywhere like birds molting feathers; Mary would wave at me from her filthy couch when I couldn’t stand the trash in her yard anymore and would pick it up. I offered to pay her teenagers $10 an hour to do yard work but “it’s too hot.” Just as well, because when one finally accepted the offer, he quit after an hour and left my lawn mower and supplies where he dropped them, without a word to me. Last Fourth of July, they were in the backyard blowup pool with my kids from 8 a.m. til 8 p.m. I gave them breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. When I sent them home for towels, they came back with ragged sheets and grimy curtains to dry off with. Never a sighting of Mom. As I forced them to go home so we could all get some sleep, I decided I’d had enough.

If I’d wanted nine kids, I’d have had nine kids.

I remained friendly, but I disengaged. No more donations, no more trips. Just a friendly neighbor, no more a resource. No more surrogate mom.

Soon afterward, they were evicted, and left behind a house so filthy and battered, it has taken contractors four months to repair the damage. They left the door hanging open and when I stepped in to close it, the stench nearly made my knees buckle. Junk was everywhere. The basement was flooded, food was stuck to the floor and walls, every kitchen surface was scorched and blackened. Mouse droppings made a carpet. As well, they’d vandalized my backyard and garage and keyed the entire driver’s side, the side nearest them, of my car. Windows, mirrors and finish.

Wherever they went, I know it wasn’t under their own power, arrangement or dime. No doubt those energetic, well-meaning white ladies with their social services lanyards worked their paperwork magic to save the Smiths for another year, another resentful neighborhood, another step down, or at best sideways, on the ladder of hope. Events like Katrina, and programs like Section 8, make the poor visible to us but they don’t make them any easier to reclaim. Or to love. Most of the Katrina evacuees who remain displaced are the hardcore, long-term, helpless poor, like the Smiths, and God only knows what will become of them when our patience wanes. However many begrudged millions we pour into the welfare system, the fact is that we abandoned these folks at birth and they know it. We shower them with Winnie the Pooh Band-Aids when they need heart transplants and, like Houston, we just wait to see which will drag themselves to success, which we’ll dump elsewhere, which we’ll bury, and which we’ll incarcerate.

The poor will always be with us but I’m glad the Smiths are gone. My heart breaks for them, but also for their new neighbors. 

Posted by Nuttshell on 12/18 at 02:59 PM
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INTERNATIONAL BLACK FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS A SPECIAL SCREENING

THE INTERNATIONAL BLACK FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS
A KWANZAA CELEBRATION AND SPECIAL SCREENING OF “ THE FORGOTTEN ROOT”

A FILM BY RAFAEL REBOLLAR AT THE NEW YORK BAHA’I CENTER LOCATED @53 EAST 11TH ST (btwn University & Broadway)

JOIN US ON THURSDAY DECEMBER 21st from 6-9:30PM “ FREE FOOD AND REFRESHMENTS

FILM SCREENING, DISCUSSION, NETWORKING WITH FRIENDS

DOORS OPEN @ 6PM/FILM BEGINS PROMPTLY@7PM SUGGESTED $12 DONATION SUPPORTS THE IBFF

* “La raiz ovlvidada” (The forgotten root) is a documentary about the profound cultural and economic contributions of enslaved Africans in New Spain (Mexico).

* “ The forgotten root” is a film about Africans in Mexico”.

***** Media that Matters*****
* Film followed by a discussion on African identity in Latin America.

See, also, http://www.afromexico.org

See, also http://www.blackfilmfestival.net

STUDENT DISCOUNT SAG, AFTRA, NATAS, FVA,MEA, HarlemAA admission $9. with valid card FREE FOOD Sponsored by La Nueva Conquista Restaurant
236 Lafayette Street (at Spring Street in Soho) 212-226-9835
FREE POPCORN Sponsored by Ike and Sam’s KettleCorn http://www.ikeandsams.com

Paste/Click on the Link below to see more details about this event
http//www.evite.com/app/publicUrl/allen_c_dawson@hotmail.com/kwanza

COME FILL US WTH THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY

Posted by SPN on 12/18 at 02:06 PM
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Introducing The Benedict Arnold List

Inaugural Nominees: John Ridley, Daman Wayans

By. H. Lewis Smith as posted in BlackNews.com

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) - H. Lewis Smith, Founder/CEO of United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. announces UVCC’s Benedict Arnold list as follows:

PURPOSE: No longer is it acceptable to trample upon the memories and honor of those who were tarred and feathered, burnt alive, castrated, hung, boiled alive, sodomized and tortured with hot pokers, disemboweled, unmercifully tortured in countless numbers of other ways, all in the name of the n-word simply because since the victims were considered to be a nigger it was okay to perform such atrocious, despicable acts. And yet as evil and heinous as these acts were there is something that transcends it and that is descendants of these canonized victims taking the word nigger and embracing it with tender loving care and using it endearingly and affectionately among them. How idiotic and moronic can this possibly be?

Acceptance of the usage of the word nigga is not a rejection of its historical image...but indeed a confirmation and condoning...of what it has stood for in the past. Better late than never...but the time has come for a change in the mindset of the African American and to stop buying into this stereotype 300 year old mindset of “I am a nigga”. 

Therefore let it be known that those who blatantly chooses to disrespect the sovereignty of the African American community, past and present, with usage of the n-word (and yes, it is that serious) shall hereby be considered to be a treasonable act...though a community is not a government...it is intended for the mindset of said community to be raised to that of a respective nature as that of a government in terms of respectability. Know and recognize that the Benedict Arnold list is being created to shine light on those who henceforth will be considered as an enemy and detrimental to the welfare of the African American community. It is in our valued judgment that the mindset of the African American...should not and will no longer...be trampled upon as it has been for the past 300 years. Usage of the n-word is counter-productive to the welfare of the black community and...should not and will not...be taking lightly.

Let it hereby be known that NO blacks are niggers, (niggaz) irrespective of behavior, income, ambition, clothing, ability, morals, or skin color. It is the ultimate expression of white racism and white superiority, irrespective of the way it is pronounced or spelled. It is a linguistic corruption, a corruption of civility.

Nigger is more than just a word it is an image...a created image...that was meant to cripple and zombilize the minds of a race of people. This image portrays black men as lazy, ignorant, and obsessively self-indulgent; as angry, physically strong, animalistic, and prone to wanton violence, as intellectually childlike, physically unattractive, and neglectful of their biological families. A creation whose humanity, identity, heritage and sense of being was taken and replaced with ignorance, dependence, greed, jealousy, false hope, despair, apathy and excuses. And therein lays the danger in the continual self applied usage of this word. Continual usage of this word reinforces a mindset that has been in place for more than three centuries.

Consider the song lyrics of rappers that denigrates women, the promotion of violence and glorification of a gangster image along with their delirious usage of the n-word; evidence of a reinforced (WEBSITE UNALLOWED WORD REMOVED HERE - rhymes with “sicological"[sic]) intent of this word. The n-word persists because it is used over and over by the people it defames. In the CD Get Rich or Die Trying the n-word is used more than 180 times.

The irony between 1706 and 2006 is that in 1706 it was imbedded into the minds of the slaves...to know their place in society...to look upon their selves as being inferior and to identify with the word nigger by being forced to admit “I am a nigger.” Today, 2006 this mindset for the African American of “I am a nigger” still prevails. The only difference is that in 1706 and for three centuries hence it was an institutionalized racist system keeping this word alive and forcing it upon the subjugated to accept same definition. Today, 2006 it is African Americans trying to con other African Americans to stay in that so-called place of being “I am a nigger”. Misery loves company and those who do not have the strength or willpower to overcome identification with this word want as many tag-a-longs as possible.

Eligibility Requirements: Consideration to be placed on the Benedict Arnold list is as follows: Blatantly showing by act and deeds a determination to undermine the African American community with a defiant public display and intent to use and promote usage of a word that is disrespectful, dishonorable to the memories of those who suffered physically, mentally and emotionally...the n-word. Refusing to recognize that negative lyrics, scripts, dialog and scenes which enter the human ears and sight has a negative effect on the human mind and in of itself lends to a debilitating, self-defeating image is hereby considered an act of treason to the over all welfare of the African American community.

Qualifiers of the Benedict Arnold list shall henceforth be looked upon as the village idiots of the community. To further clarify the criteria distinguishing who makes the list and who doesn’t among the proponents in favor of the word. It is not intended to try and nail everyone to the cross. It’s only when someone like a John Ridley or Daman Wayans who publicly...in a defiant, determined and perverse manner supports undermining the Black community by pledging allegiance to the n-word, then and only then will those names be added to the Benedict Arnold list. Listed names can be removed at any time when public actions of these individuals show that they do indeed have the mindset welfare of their community in mind and at heart and that they do understand the nature and the harm that the usage of the n-word possesses.

In accordance with the aforementioned eligibility requirements the following have been found to be eligible to have their names placed on this list and why it is so moved.

John Ridley as result of his verbal public defiance and insistence on referring to African Americans as the n-word and his writing of “Manifesto of Ascendancy of the Modern American Nigger “ is hereby placed on the Benedict Arnold list.

Daman Wayans as a result of his verbal public defiance and insistence on referring to African Americans as the n-word and his attempts in trying and still trying, though he has been turned down time and time again to register the name nigga as a trademark to be used as a marketable item for a clothesline and other marketable items, is hereby placed on the Benedict Arnold list.

Stoicism and excuses are not substitutes for self-respect, pride and dignity. Nowhere on the face of the earth--other than the African American--does a race of people let anybody and everybody call them out of their name, and then get indignant about trying to address it. There is nothing chic, cool or...cerebral...about Blacks referring to one another as niggas. Any self-respecting African American should find this practice to be appalling, disturbing and totally unacceptable. Enough of this traditional 300 year old mindset of “Ya suh” master “I am a nigga.”

To learn more about United Voices for a Common Cause and to see how Paul Mooney is being recognized in a more positive fashion (he is the first inductee into the RICHARD PRYOR ROOM) please go to http://www.theunitedvoices.org

CONTACT:
H. Lewis Smith
310-712-2662

Posted by Nuttshell on 12/14 at 12:10 PM
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Monday, December 11, 2006

Leader of Free Muslims Against Terrorism to appear on TV tonight

Kamal Nawash will appear on the Glenn Beck show tonight. The show airs at 7 p.m. ET and
replays at 9 p.m. and midnight on CNN’s Headline News.

Kamal will discuss the issue of whether Islam needs a reformation.  This show is
inspired by the Milford Bible Church in Milford, Pennsylvania, where the preacher argued
that Islam is a “clear and present danger” to the world.  Kamal Nawash will
respond to
the Millford Bible Church and explain the source of extremism among some Muslims.

Please join the fight against terror by contributing to the Free Muslims at:
http://freemuslims.org/support/donate.php

For more information, visit our web site at http://www.freemuslims.org

Posted by cricket on 12/11 at 03:20 PM
Religion / Sprituality • (7) CommentsPermalink

Smokey Robinson -On Being Blackl

Click here to listen to the presentation.  I had to move it because Firefox auto plays the WMV file even though I’ve got it coded NOT to autoplay.

Posted by cricket on 12/11 at 09:30 AM
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Christian Soldier Returns to Front Lines Unarmed

As printed in Sojourner’s Magazine, December 8, 2006
By Will Braun, Editor, Geez magazine www.geezmagazine.org

On the phone, in between his duties at Schofield Army Barracks in Hawaii, Sergeant Logan Laituri tells me he wants to “live radically for Christ.” Normally I stumble over that sort of fervor – couched, as it is, in terms I would usually consider vague and cliche – but if following Jesus means telling your captain that 9/11 didn’t absolve you of the need to love your enemies, I’ll keep listening.

Laituri came to Jesus, as they say, at a dramatic time in his life. He was back from 14 months in Iraq as a front-liner in the U.S. Army, and scheduled to return. It was spring, 2005.

His new girlfriend’s family welcomed him with a Christian love so genuine he couldn’t resist. He ended up in a New Testament history class at a local college, and was also faced with the incisive questions from his philosophical brother and roommate. Soon he found himself immersed in scripture, filled with the spirit and brimming with passion.

The 25-year-old Laituri grew up the son of an agnostic Vietnam Vet in Orange County, California. In 2000, he joined the Army, hoping for education and travel. After a first term, he re-enlisted for an assignment in Hawaii, looking forward to some good surf. Throughout his six years in the military, Laituri had identified as Christian. “I had all the stickers and stuff,” he says of his earlier faith, but that was about the extent of it.

His conversion brought change. He started heeding his college instructor’s directive to let the Bible shape his opinions, rather than his opinions shaping it. Again, I’d dismiss this as tired religio-garble, if he weren’t talking about his “place in geo-politics” at the same time.

“I realized I had to figure out what it meant to me to be a soldier,” he says. “How do I act in my particular job and still follow the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself? Ya know, how can I do that when I’m asked to basically lay waste to kinda large scale areas?”

“We do know [Jesus] preaches peace,” says Major Norman W. Jones, an Army Chaplain whom Laituri consulted at one point, “but it did not mean [Jesus] was against a nation going to war.” Major Jones – whose tone is open and entirely gracious – tells me the “sticky point is where [Jesus] says ‘do not kill,’” and that’s where Just War theory comes in. Though Jones sees faith and military service as compatible, he says he would have sympathy for a soldier whose faith convictions led to the conclusion that the U.S. war in Iraq is not just. “I’m here to support the soldier,” he says, convincingly. Jones, who studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, points to the Biblical command to obey the government as the bottom line, though he adds that obedience to God trumps duty to one’s nation.

Laituri – who punctuates conversation both with Bible verses and mini-rants about the sins of nationalistic ego – also looks to the good book as the source of “absolute truth,” though it leads him in a different direction. When it says love your enemies, he says he “can’t kill someone in love.”

As his infantry company started gearing up for a return to Iraq, Lairturi was busy asking people about faith, war, and the decisions he faced. In response, he got a lot of Just War theory, and rationalization for the the necessity of violence. People told him it was morally wrong to do nothing about the nation’s enemies. One commander, who is also a Baptist preacher, assured Laituri that since he was a Christian, Jesus had died for all his sins, and therefore he was already forgiven for whatever he would do on the battlefield.

The people who had welcomed him to the faith did not welcome his questioning of military morality. His then-girlfriend’s father told Laituri he was part of God’s hand in bringing judgement to Muslim extremists. The views he heard didn’t fit with the convictions he felt, and his company was set to leave for a training session in California before heading back to Iraq.

Logan Laituri sat in the bus, he and his colleagues headed to Honolulu airport for their flight to California. It was April 20, 9:40 in the morning. Headphones on, local Christian band Olivia playing a song called “Heaven,” and his thoughts on what in the world to do about his beliefs. Then, for a moment, heaven itself seemed to open.

“I felt like somebody was showing me something,” he says of the “short video clip” from above that followed.

“I saw myself in the Middle East, I’m pretty sure it was Iraq,” he says, describing the emotionally vivid experience. “What struck me were two things: number one, that I did not have a weapon.” The second thing was a feeling of “confidence;” the confidence that he was “doing what was right.”

It was his calling. He would go to Iraq, but without a weapon. At first he thought he might be able to do that as a non-combative member of his company. So after prayer and consideration, he applied for Conscientious Objector (CO) status, as per the Army regulation allowing a soldier to request discharge for reasons of conscience, as long as military officials deem the applicant “sincere” at the end of the stipulated process. He was ready to go to prison if need be, which, in today’s for-us-or-against-us climate is a real possibility for CO applicants. Major Jones says the majority of CO applications are denied.

At that point Laituri was not actually trying to leave the Army, because he saw the human anguish within military ranks, and didn’t think it was Christ-like to just abandon people in need. He just wanted to have the right to refuse to bear arms.

But the military is not going to send someone to war without a weapon, and, as it turns out, it may not treat you very well if you make such a request. With re-deployment looming, Laituri’s superiors dragged their feet on the CO process, missing stipulated procedural deadlines without explanation.

Laituri talks of theological discussions with commanders, hostile rumors, and bureaucratic tangles. One superior berated him, saying his actions benefitted the enemies of America – an insult Laituri took as affirmation, given Jesus’ invitation to love the enemy.

Military command seemed determined to stall his CO application, but they didn’t want him in the battlefield either. Eventually, with his term of service drawing to a close, he was re-assigned to a detachment that would not deploy overseas. He surrendered the CO process in favor of simply letting his term of service expire.

As of October 19, Laituri became a private citizen.

- - -

Major Jones says debate about the morality of war seldom comes up in his work, and CO applications are rare. However, according to the United Church Observer, 8,000 members of the U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began. During World War II, nearly 43,000 Americans refused to fight for reasons of conscience, and during the Vietnam War 170,000 COs were formally recognized. In addition, 25,000 to 30,000 so-called draft dodgers fled to Canada in the Vietnam era.

Currently there are about 175 U.S. military “deserters” living illegally in Canada, hoping to escape repercussions back home. If Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board starts sending them back to the U.S., Canadian churches will have to decide whether or not to grant them sanctuary - a custom whereby churches allow certain failed refugee claimants to live on church premises where law enforcement officials are hesitant to forcibly enter to arrest someone.

Logan Laituri doesn’t have to worry about fleeing his homeland now that he is out of the Army, but he does have his eyes on distant lands. He feels called to be a missionary to the Middle East. So, last Sunday he left for Israel/Palestine on a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams, the violence-reduction organization now famous for the four of their members abducted in Baghdad a year ago.

Not sure what someone who sounds like a cross between Noam Chomsky and an evangelical youth pastor means by “missionary,” I asked what message he wants to bring to the Middle East.

“Jesus loves you. I love you,” he says, proclaiming his desire to “radiate love” even if he doesn’t convert a single person.

So off he goes, back to the front lines, disarmed and disarming, an “attitude of active compassion” at the ready. With the courage of a warrior and the love of God, he’s living radically for Christ.

Will Braun is editor of Geez magazine (http://www.geezmagazine.org). A version of this article appears in the current print edition of Geez. For more, see http://www.cpt.org and Laituri’s blog: http://www.xanga.com/courageouscoward . Laituri can be reached at courageouscoward [at] gmail.com. Braun can be reached at editor [at] geezmagazine.org.

Posted by Nuttshell on 12/08 at 11:03 AM
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Q’ewar Project has a new teacher.

I met one of the directors of this project when I was in Peru in 2004.  I’ve been in frequent contact with them since their website started http://qewar.com .  Please stop by the site and read about the new addition to the project.  http://qewar.com/education.html

You may also make a donation to the Project via “Friends of Qewar” at the website.  Friends of Q’ewar is a tax emempt organization headquartered here in the US.  http://qewar.com/donations.html

Posted by SPN on 12/06 at 10:39 AM
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