The Words of the Moffitt Family

Faiths Gather In DC To 'Sift Out The Hearts Of Men' - Anti-War Protests See The Arrest Of Nearly 400

Larry Moffitt
September 27, 2005
Editor, Religion & Spirituality Forum

WASHINGTON, September 27 (UPI) -- A man who is becoming one of my favorite people among the ranks of the civilly disobedient is Rabbi Arthur Waskow (a.k.a. Prisoner number 151 among the 370 arrested during the anti-war protests this past week). Things got a bit unruly, as the U.S. Park Police reported they had to take into custody about three times the usual number for this kind of protest.

If politics makes for interesting bedfellows, so also does marching in the streets and chilling in jail with thousands of people from dozens of religious traditions, who came from all over the country to make a statement. Part of the job description of religious people is to help the world change from corrupt to uncorrupt. Things in the world being what they are, there are times when the only appropriate place for religious people to be, is in jail.

Rabbi Waskow talked about his fellow dissidents. "Cornel West was among those arrested -- I had a warm and interesting conversation with him as we marched toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- and Cindy Sheehan -- and Marie Dennis of the Maryknolls -- and many other clergy and religious leaders, Unitarians, Quakers, Protestants, Buddhists, Catholics."

It was a true interfaith gathering, held in the tradition of the weeklong "camp meetings" of the 1800s. Like their fore-parents, they came together to change the hearts of men.

The Rabbi's report continues in his own words.

"The whole weekend was extraordinary for us all. And for me, though I have lived an intense life, this weekend capped the most intense two weeks I have ever shaped a life in.
"Friday afternoon, I keynoted a gathering-for-reflection of religious leaders and teachers who had been working on issues of international finance & globalization -- suggesting how to integrate the war and the danger of global scorching and the lightning-flash of Katrina into their work.
"That evening, Rabbi David Shneyer led a strong, sweet, engaging service to welcome Shabbat. When he asked me to lead Kiddush, I retold the story of how the Prophet Natan confronted King David about his cruelty in sending the soldier Uriah to his death in battle -- for no "noble purpose," only in order to cover up his own arrogant lust affair with Uriah's wife Bathsheva -- and how what made David, despite this disgusting deed, worthy of being the ancestor of the Messiah for both Jewish & Christian tradition, is that he did not refuse to see Natan but heard him out, and then repented.
"Our own Shalom Center Shabbat service on Saturday morning on the theme of Seek Peace & Pursue It, deeply moved about 250 people, including a number of Christians who chose to attend our service. Spiritually, through chant, prayer, and music, we drew on the deepest roots of Jewish passion for peace.
"Rabbi Sidney Schwarz's powerful words of Torah about dealing with efforts to demonize Israel, yet not silencing our opposition to the war or cutting our selves off from the more decent impulses of the antiwar movement.
"The march on Saturday afternoon -- both deeply serious and deeply humorous, wonderfully varied and good-humored.
"The gathering on Sunday of folk of many religious traditions to hear Walter Wink, a world-renowned Christian theologian, & me speak on the traditions of nonviolence in Jewish and Christian thought and practice, with many rich responses in discussion.
"Then the Tent revival meeting -- a multi-religious version of the classic evangelical Protestant revivals -- was wonderful. The different traditions and teachings meshed brilliantly, and people were indeed moved by the Spirit. I was asked to give the 'invocation' -- so I invoked the One God who unfolds and is unfolded by all our traditions and who is present in all the life forms of this planet. The God who erupts like a volcano, like a lightning-flash of truth, when we dare to demand that a king, a ruler, meet with us face-to-face.
"And then, Sunday: The "White House 370," led by Clergy & Laity Concerned About Iraq and at least a thousand people backing us up with songs, chants, bottles of water, as we crossed the line from dissent into resistance -- the brilliantly creative and down-to-earth practical work of the Pledge of Resistance and the Nonviolent Civil Resistance Committee bearing fruit."

It's an inspiring thing to see the elders willingly forego comfort, as the Rabbi says, "to heal the earth, empower the poor, to broaden social justice." Rabbi Waskow and the old coots of Judeo-Christianity, follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Natan, in protest against political arrogance.

Gimmie that old time religion.

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