Four Articles and a Poem

9:54 AM

Weekly, I post four articles that I found significant and a poem accompanied by some comments about what we can learn from them. Our lives are enriched by seeing better. Each week, one article comes from the world of photography, a discipline that is about seeing. Another article comes from the world of technology, hence seeing something of the future. Another article takes up an aspect of our life together, seeing more clearly the other. Another article refers to faith, seeing the unseen. Finally, the weekly post concludes with a poem, because poetry is about seeing words whose arrangement allows us to see anew.

Amid the grief of terror striking Paris yesterday, France will weigh invoking Article 5 of the NATO. I invite us to pray for the victims, but also to envision a new way forward. We will look at the place of restorative justice in the community, some research about incorporating migrants into society, religious perspectives toward religious violence and extremism, and how cinema (and the stories it tells) can shape opinions.
  1. The fallout from crime affects more than just victims. As discussion of sentencing reform, especially around non-violent offenses, enters the presidential primaries as a major topic, this article about a conference at the Catholic University of America is powerful.  When crime happens, relationships within a community are broken, trust decays. Healing, in the midst of crime, demands restoration of relationship. As people of faith we have unique resources to bring to this conversation. This article tells some touching, powerful stories, and be sure to visit the conference website as it has some links to slides about the theological basis for restorative justice as well as on how we might reform incarceration.
  2. Migration: A Global Issue in Need of a Global Solution. While some will blame the Paris violence of refugees, we need to remember that the refugees are fleeing the very perpetrators of this violence.Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, offers clear principles for attending to migration.
  3. Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Again and again, it bears repeating to debunk the myth that religion inspires violence. In a recent lecture at the Brookings Institute, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks shares from a recent book that he authored and examines the recent phenomenon of violent extremism by exploring the origins of violence and its relationship to religion. Rabbi Sacks challenges the assertion that religion is an intrinsic source of violence and describes how theology can curb religious violence and extremism. 
  4. 8 movies that changed the world. Stéphanie Thomson of the World Economic Forum writes about eight movies that have shifted opinion on important social issues.To be honest, I have only seen (and even heard of) a few of the films. I might have included others that seem to have had greater impact, in my opinion, but the stories we tell, in photographs, or in movies, shape us powerfully. It is good to be aware of and thoughtful how we are shaped by the stories we tell.
For poetry, we turn to a classic from the First World War, as we recently observed Veteran's Day and today remember so many newly dead in France. Wilfred Owen was an English soldier and poet, killed in action in France in 1918. Most of his poetry was published posthumously. 

"Dulce et Decorum Est"
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

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