CHRISTMAS 2017: Pope Francis Makes Migrants’ Humanity, Plight, Rights Focus Of Christmas Message To World’s Christians!

 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-christmas-eve-migrants_us_5a4025cfe4b025f99e17c35b

Phillip Pullella reports for HuffPost:


“Pope Francis strongly defended immigrants at his Christmas Eve Mass on Sunday, comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.
Francis, celebrating his fifth Christmas as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, led a solemn Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica while many others followed the service from the square outside.
Security was stepped up, with participants checked as they approached St. Peter’s Square even before going through metal detectors to enter the basilica. The square had been cleared out hours earlier so security procedures could be put in place.
The Gospel reading at the Mass in Christendom’s largest church recounted the Biblical story of how Mary and Jesus had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered for a census ordered by Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away, but driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones,” Francis said.
Even the shepherds who the Bible says were the first to see the child Jesus were “forced to live on the edges of society” and considered dirty, smelly foreigners, he said. “Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared.”

“NEW SOCIAL IMAGINATION”
Wearing white vestments in the flower-bedecked church, Francis called for a “new social imagination … in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.”
The 81-year-old pope, who was born of Italian immigrant stock in Argentina, has made defense of migrants a major plank of his papacy, often putting him at odds with politicians.
Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has aligned himself with central European neighbors like Hungary and the Czech Republic in opposing German-backed proposals to distribute asylum seekers around EU member states.
In elections in Germany in September, the far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party made significant gains, with electors punishing Chancellor Angela Merkel for her open-door policy and pushing migration policy to the top of the agenda in talks to form a coalition government.
Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, whose leader Matteo Salvini often gives fiery speeches against migrants, is expected to make gains in national elections next year. A law that would give citizenship to children born in Italy to migrant parents is stalled in parliament.
In his homily, Francis said, “Our document of citizenship” comes from God, making respect of migrants an integral part of Christianity.
“This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same,” Francis said.
Francis also condemned human traffickers who make money off desperate migrants as the “Herods of today” with blood on their hands, a reference to the Biblical story of the king who ordered the killing of all newborn male children near Bethlehem because he feared Jesus would one day displace him.
More than 14,000 people have died trying to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to Europe in the past four years.
On Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and to the World) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Compare the Pope’s very clear statement of true Christian values with the fear-mongering, false narratives, and xenophobic rantings and actions of the so-called “Christians” in the Trump Administration.

PWS

12-26-17

THANKSGIVING 🦃🏈🍺🍽🍁SHOULD REMIND US OF OUR REFUGEE ORIGINS — But Trump & His White Nationalist Gang Have Distorted The Message!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/22/thanksgiving-is-an-annual-reminder-of-americas-refugee-origins/

Ishtar Tharoor writes in the Washington Post:

“For the Pilgrims, there was certainly a lot to be grateful for. Their radical brand of Puritanism, identified as “Separatism” because of its disavowal of the Church of England, left them vulnerable to fines, imprisonment and persecution in their home country. They spent more than a decade in exile in what is now the Netherlands, but suffered financially and feared they would be in danger if the political winds in the continent started blowing in a different direction. The preceding and following years in European history present a litany of religious massacres and pogroms.

So they set sail aboard a couple of ships, including one famously named the Mayflower, as early modern refugees seeking a better life in a different part of the world. President Barack Obama summoned that simple aspiration two Thanksgivings ago, when the mood in his country was decidedly hostile to the plight of Syrian refugees.

“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims — men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” said Obama in 2015. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance. We turn Lady Liberty’s light to the world, and widen our circle of concern to say that all God’s children are worthy of our compassion and care. That’s part of what makes this the greatest country on Earth.”

Obama’s successor, President Trump, doesn’t quite seem to agree. He grandstands on a nationalist platform that looks darkly upon migrants and has sought to stanch the already thin flow of refugees into the United States. His erstwhile ideologue, Stephen K. Bannon, recently declared the United States is not a “nation of immigrants” — as the popular saying goes — but a “nation of citizens.”

That rhetoric shadowed Trump’s remarks at the traditional annual White House turkey pardoning ritual on Tuesday. “This Thursday, as we give thanks for our cherished loved ones, let us also renew our bonds of trust, loyalty and affection between our fellow citizens as members of a proud national family of Americans,” Trump said.

For the American right wing, the Thanksgiving story offers a different parable that has nothing to do with refugees. For decades, conservatives argued that a shift in farming practices toward private plots and away from communal farming was what saved the embattled Massachusetts colony from extinction. “So began the American recoil from collectivism,” noted Washington Post columnist George Will in 2006 in a piece that linked Thanksgiving to “the ascent of individualism.”

. . . .

Whatever the case, of course, there’s no happy ending for the indigenous people who attended the first Thanksgiving feast, bearing five deer hunted for the occasion. Contact with Europeans before the Pilgrims’ arrival had already led to smallpox eradicating whole communities. The years that followed would complete their dispossession and disappearance.

Strangely, at a time when the American far right decries the existential threat posed by refugees with supposedly fundamentalist religious convictions, they have no problem aligning with the country’s original migrants.“

 

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Read the complete piece at the link.

I absolutely agree with Tharoor that the Pilgrims fit squarely within today’s legal definition of “refugee.” Indeed, I granted a number of similar “religiously based” cases to Christians, Muslims, and other “20th and 21st Century Pilgrims.”

But, I can imagine someone like Jeff Sessions and some of the judges who work for him finding that the harm feared by the Pilgrims was “mere discrimination, not persecution;” or that it was “primarily economically, rather than religiously or politically motivated;” or that the Pilgrims were “firmly resettled” in the Netherlands. As one of my former BIA judicial colleagues used to say, there are lots of ways to deny asylum once you decide that’s the result you want.

We are, always have been, and always will be a “nation of refugees,” and there is nothing that the Trump-Sessions-Bannon-Miller White Nationalist crowd ultimately can do to change that.

But, among other things, I’m very thankful that I’m not a refugee in their world today.

Happy Thanksgiving,

PWS😎🦃🏈🍻🍁🍽

11-23-17

 

HISTORY/RELIGION: HOPPED UP! —🍺 🍺🍺 The Reformation Was Fueled By Revolutionary Changes In ML’s Favorite Beverage!

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/10/31/561117731/the-other-reformation-how-martin-luther-changed-our-beer-too

NINA MARTYRIS Reports for NPR:

“On this day 500 years ago, an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther’s native Germany: beer.

The change in beer production was wrought by the pale green conical flower of a wildly prolific plant — hops.

Every hip craft brewery today peddling expensive hoppy beers owes a debt of gratitude to Luther and his followers for promoting the use of hops as an act of rebellion against the Catholic Church. But why did Protestants decide to embrace this pretty flower, and what did it have to do with religious rebellion?

Therein foams a bitter pint of history.

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mug wort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously — their invasive nature captured by their melodic Latin name, Humulus lupulus (which the music-loving Luther would have loved), which means “climbing wolf.”

“The church didn’t like hops,” says William Bostwick, the beer critic for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer. “One reason was that the 12th century German mystic and abbess Hildegard had pronounced that hops were not very good for you, because they ‘make the soul of a man sad and weigh down his inner organs.’ So, if you were a Protestant brewer and wanted to thumb your nose at Catholicism, you used hops instead of herbs.”

Even before the Reformation, German princes had been moving toward hops — in 1516, for instance, a Bavarian law mandated that beer could be made only with hops, water and barley. But Luther’s revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities. “All herbs and spices have preservative qualities, but with hops, beer could travel really well, so it became a unit of international trade that symbolized the growing business class, which was tangentially connected with the Protestant work ethic and capitalism,” says Bostwick.

. . . .

For all his protestations, Luther’s beer stein was always full. He loved local beer, boasted of his wife’s brewing skills, and launched a movement that helped promote hops. Does that make him a patron saint of the craft brewery?

“Luther might blanch a bit as a good Protestant at being called a saint,” points out Bostwick, “and there’s already a brewery saint called St. Arnold, who saved his congregation from the plague by making them drink beer. In the interests of Protestantism, I wouldn’t call him a saint, but he was certainly a beer enthusiast, and many a beer bar and brewery today has a picture of Martin Luther on their wall. So let’s say that while we certainly don’t genuflect to him, he’s known and appreciated.”

Hoppy Quincentennial, Martin Luther!“

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Read the full story at the link.

Not surprisingly, many German Lutherans who immigrated to America settled in Wisconsin, where their steins remained full of well-hopped brew!

Prost!🍺🍻🍺🍻🍺🍻🍺

PWS

10-31-17