Prayer for our Country
By R. Maurice Boyd
O Thou who art as the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land,
Comfort our distraught, distracted, and bewildered Nation.
Enable us to discern Thy judgements and Thy grace in the distress, confusion, and anxiety of our time.
Keep us from cynicism.
Hold us steady in honor,
Peaceful in integrity,
Steadfast in faith,
Confident in truth and justice,
Assured in judgment,
And patient in tribulation.
Quicken our conscience.
Sharpen our wits.
Deepen our discernment.
Fortify our wills in all good purposes.
Sustain us, that we grow not weary in well-doing,
And renew a right spirit within us.
May Thy strength be made perfect in our weakness.
Deliver us from self-righteousness.
Save us from hypocrisy.
Purify by Thy mercy what we have spoiled by our wickedness.
Purge us of the vanity that frustrates our councils.
Bestow upon our leaders and our people the clarity
of wisdom, the courage of conviction, the humor
Champion the defenseless.
Protect the innocent.
Guide the confused.
Uphold those who are despairing.
Confound the treacherous.
Expose the false.
Subdue the proud.
Teach us to cherish all that is wholesome, lovely,
and of good report.
Confirm in us what is true, and right, and virtuous,
Lead us out of our wilderness
Into a quiet land,
Worthy of the few who dreamed it, the many who died
for it, and all who continue to hope in it.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Until his death in 2009, R. Maurice Boyd was pastor of The City Church in New York City.
Pope Francis Warns Brazil of Its “Scandalous Corruption”
On September 6, the Pope returned to Latin America by visiting Colombia for four days. | Photo: EFE
Published 21 October 2017
“I am sure that Brazil will overcome its crisis and I trust that you will act as protagonists in this,” Pope Francis told an audience of student clergyment in Rome.
During a meeting with the Community of the Pontifical Piusy College of Rome, held in Italy, Pope Francis demanded on Saturday the need for a “united and fraternal clergy in solidarity” in Brazil, facing the “scandalous corruption” of the Brazilian government.:::” https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/-Pope-Francis-Warns-Brazil-of-Its-Scandalous-Corruption-20171021-0004.html?utm_source=planisys&utm_medium=NewsletterIngles&utm_campaign=NewsletterIngles&utm_content=9
How God Feels about the Poor
/ Bible Study / Topical Studies / How God Feels about the Poor
Friday, September 25, 2015
Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail. (Amos 8:4)
How do you treat the poor? It is important for us to realize how God feels about the poor of this world. I have experienced being poor. My dad died when I was fourteen, and it was up to me to support my mother and sister. I had to secure a special permit to get a job. Then, after I was converted and felt called to the ministry, some folk took an interest in me and helped me get through school.
In the days of Amos, God accuses them of even making “the poor of the land to fail.” That is, the poor were brought down to such a low poverty level that they never could escape from it. The poor always suffer more acutely in a godless nation – I don’t think that statement can be successfully contradicted.
Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? (v. 5)
God knew what was in their hearts. “The new moon” and “the sabbath” were holy days on which business was not transacted. God is saying that even when the rich went to the temple to praise God, they were so greedy and covetous that they were thinking about business the next day and how they could make more money by cheating their customers. They not only practiced their sin during the week, but they carried it into the temple. What a picture this gives us of Israel in that day – and of modern man as well.
That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? (v. 6)
The poor even had to sell themselves into slavery. That was permitted in that land under the Mosaic system. They would buy the needy for a pair of shoes – that’s how cheap they were! And they would sell the poor the refuse of the wheat. That means they got the “seconds,” the leftovers which an honest dealer throws away. I have never felt right about giving old clothes to help the poor in the church. I have never felt they should be given the leftovers of anything. Remember how David said, “… neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing …” (2 Samuel 24:24).
It is no accident that the Lord Jesus, when He was here on earth, sat and watched how the people gave in the temple. Was that His business? Yes. And He is interested in how much we give to Him and how much we keep for ourselves.
Maybe the reason I love this man Amos so much is that he talks my language. He was a poor man himself, and he says the thing that I understand. You see, Amos is explaining why Israel was like a basket of summer fruit. The goodness of Israel was just as perishable and just as soon deteriorated as summer fruit. One evidence of this was the way they treated the poor.
(October 11, 2017) Mark Ellis shares a challenging testimony… The underground Christians in North Korea are literally conducting secret meetings under the ground. Searching for food, finding and sharing Jesus North Korean defector, Choi Kwanghyuk, now living in Los Angeles, described the secret life he and other believers were forced to live in the oppressive […]
JULY 12, 2017 One more priest arrested for (attempted) sodomy For another case, see COVER-UP OF ACTIVE HOMOSEXUAL PRIESTS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY. https://www.pressreader.com/india/hindustan-times-jalandhar/20170712/282011852400145: Missionary school father arrested for trying to molest a class VIII boy http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/jul/11/missionary-school-father-arrested-for-trying-to-molest-a-class-viii-boy-1627248.html Bhopal, July 11, 2017 The 50-year-old hostel manager of a missionary school has been arrested for […]
Throwing yourself into the creative process is a leap of faith. You don’t know where the flow will take you, you don’t know where you are going to end up, you don’t even know if you will make it to the end. It’s like throwing yourself into a stream and see what happens. And trust […]
Pope Francis wants to talk about fake news. The head of the Catholic Church tweeted Friday that the theme for World Communications Day 2018 will be “the truth will set you free.” “Fake news and journalism for peace,” he wrote. I have chosen this theme for World Communications Day 2018: “The truth will set you…
Solitary Confinement: Torture in Your Backyard
By Laura Markle Downton September 26, 2017
Inside most of the local jails, state and federal prisons, and detention centers that dot the landscape of the United States, on any given day, tens of thousands of incarcerated adults and youth are held in solitary confinement. For 22 to 24 hours a day, they are confined to a cell the size of a parking space for months, years, even decades. Meals are shoved through a small slit in a solid steel door. The cell may or may not have a window to the outside world. Those who have experienced this extreme isolation often describe it as being “buried alive.”
The United Nations and other developed countries consider prolonged isolation a form of torture. Solitary confinement often leads to self-harm and suicide, due to a lack of meaningful human contact. Such extreme isolation changes the chemistry of the human brain. As those in solitary suffer, so do their families and loved ones. Corrections staff working in such toxic environments experience levels of PTSD similar to veterans returning from war. Yet in the US, the practice is used arbitrarily and often.
Solitary confinement goes by many names, including restrictive housing, room confinement, isolation, segregation, the hole, and the box. Judges and juries do not determine whether a person will be placed in isolation: that decision is left to the sole discretion of corrections staff. And isolation is not a punishment reserved only for those who threaten themselves or others—it is also used in response to non-violent infractions of prison discipline, and for individuals with severe mental illness, LGBTQ individuals in “protective custody,” the elderly, and youth in adult facilities. Over the course of one year, it is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 incarcerated people in the US spend time in solitary confinement, totaling roughly 400,000 people annually. Most will one day return home to our communities, profoundly damaged by this costly experience. Additionally, racial disparities, profound at every level of the US criminal justice system from initial contact with law enforcement to harsher sentencing and conditions of confinement for people of color, extend to solitary as well, with a disproportionate number of people of color held in solitary confinement.
Isolation is not a punishment reserved only for those who threaten themselves or others. It is also used…for individuals with severe mental illness, LGBTQ individuals in “protective custody,” the elderly, and youth.
The harmful impact of solitary confinement has been recognized throughout history. In 1829, the Eastern Pennsylvania Penitentiary became the first prison to open in the United States with solitary cells. It was called a penitentiary with the idea that those who were held in isolation would deeply contemplate their crimes, and become penitent. Rather than becoming remorseful, though, those subjected to isolation quickly developed serious mental health problems, with many going insane. In 1842, Charles Dickens visited the facility and wrote, “The system here is rigid, strict and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it…to be cruel and wrong. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.” The practice was largely abandoned in the 20th century. In 1890, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a man should be freed after being subjected to one month in solitary confinement. Even if the man had been convicted of murder and sentenced to die, the court ruled that the burden of one month in solitary confinement was such a devastating redress, it warranted granting his freedom.
The widespread return of solitary was a complex process. A dismantling of the mental health system without community-based alternatives, “tough on crime” criminal justice policies, mandatory minimum sentencing and the rapid expansion of for-profit prison and detention have all contributed to the rise of mass incarceration in the United States over the past forty years. The result is the largest incarceration system in the world, as well as the highest rates of solitary confinement globally. Yet there was no public call for an expansion of solitary confinement. Instead, a lack of both independent oversight and public engagement led to the creation of a widespread system of prolonged and indefinite isolation.
Today, calls for humane alternatives to solitary confinement are coming from unlikely allies—including the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), Republican and Democratic Governors, and a growing list of Supreme Court justices. Medical and mental health professionals have joined calls for an end to solitary, recognizing the public health impacts of isolation on families and communities. Interfaith religious leaders and faith communities have joined these efforts, making the moral case for an end to solitary. Through testifying to the horrors of solitary first-hand, currently and formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones have led the way in this groundswell. State by state, campaigns to end prolonged isolation are advancing.
People of faith have an important role to play in the growing movement to abolish solitary confinement. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has developed resources and action steps you and your faith community can take to support efforts to promote humane alternatives.
Here are some ways you can get involved:
Host a screening of NRCAT’s documentary, Breaking Down The Box to hear from survivors of solitary and see how faith communities are joining them in efforts from coast to coast.
Organize a vigil to speak out against solitary confinement and stand with survivors. Read and share first-hand accounts shared by Solitary Watch.
Host a letter-writing campaign to your legislators to call for an end to solitary. Share with them the alternatives to solitary that are being implemented through the Vera Institute of Justice Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative.
Host a chalk-in: Draw a 6×9 foot box with chalk and sit in it, symbolizing the average dimensions of a cell where people spend 23 hours a day for months, years and decades in solitary.
Share photos and updates about your action on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us at @nrcattweets and use the hashtags #STOPsolitary #together
Host a book club series on Hell Is A Very Small Place, a collection of powerful first-hand accounts from solitary.
Sign and share the NRCAT Statement Against Prolonged Solitary Confinement.
Earlier this year, on Holy Thursday before Easter, Pope Francis visited the Paliano detention center, a maximum-security prison in his backyard, just outside Rome. He went to wash the feet of the incarcerated, including a visit to those in solitary confinement. His actions speak the words we are each called to preach through our living.
How will you wash the feet of those in isolation, and join the growing call to end the torture of solitary in your community?
Laura Markle Downton is campaign strategist for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture…..http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/compassion-and-justice/solitary-confinement-torture-backyard/