In a Housing Crisis...a Cure called Community.

We Americans here in the United States are experiencing what many experts call a recession and along with it a housing crisis of many dimensions. Many cannot afford to buy a home while many others who already have homes cannot afford to keep them. I would like to suggest that perhaps this crisis is at its heart a call to a deeper community of people. Here are two examples of a posssible cure for our crisis. Interestingly enough both come from the city that gave us our new President, Mr Obama.
In December I was very glad to visit two communities in Chicago that demonstrate another way for people to live. First, let me tell you about Jesus People USA. They have been around for about 40 plus years and have grown in wisdom and understanding. They now occupy a large building in downtown Chicago and about 400 people live together in community and sharing of income and resources. Amazing! Families with children, single people, the elderly, eating together , everyone calls this place home and they seem to be thriving in ways that are deeply human. Their work includes caring for the sick and elderly, and several musical groups including a Celtic Band. They extend a warm welcome especially to the poor.

The other group which I want to tell you about is called Reba Place Community. About 300 people in total, this community has a core group of about 100 who live in households in Evanston just outside of Chicago. Again, they share income and resources, eating together and meeting together often during the week. The wisdom they have gathered over 50 years grows out of the Mennonite tradition and is deep. Households become families and as families they support each other in practical ways. Problems arise and are responded to as a community. Their newest addition is a group of young people who have formed a string quintet. Lovely!

In both these groups there is a collective wisdom that speaks clearly to our present situation in the United States. The lessons of community are being lived out here in Chicago for all to see and for all to learn from. The question is: will we? I pray that we will.

Stefan Andre

And Now It Begins...May We Speak With One Voice

Today the news came that the Israeli military began a massive bombing of Gaza and more than 200 people -men, women and children - were killed. The death toll is expected to rise. This bombing was begun , we are told, in retalliation for rocket launches from Hamas into Israeli territory resulting in one death and several injuries. According to Israeli sources this is only the beginning of a large scale military campaign to crush the Hamas resistance. The U.S. government immediately blamed Hamas for the violence and demanded that Hamas stop shooting rockets into Israel - no condemnation of Israel. And no mention of the many months of an Israeli blockade of Gaza depriving the Palestinian people of basic necessities like food, water, and medical supplies. Further, in the U.S. media reports there is great time given to interviews with Israeli officials defending Israel's actions and precious little time allowed for the Palestinian officials to express their viewpoint. How to respond?

It is becoming increasingly clear to more and more observors that this conflict is of the David and Goliath type. In this case, however, Israel is the Goliath and the Palestinians - David. One posseses planes and tanks and bombs including nuclear weapons that could destroy the opposition in a flash. The other has limited range rockets, guns, suicide missions, and rocks thrown by children. So, in retalliating for the death of one Israeli , the Israeli military kills more than 200 people including women and children. It is clear who holds power in this situation. And it is clear that a whole people are being slowly and systematically exterminated by this superior power. Furthermore , it is also clear that this superior power is backed by the most powerful military nation on the earth - The United States. Israel is the major recipient of U.S. military aid. How to respond?

I believe that it is time to speak out as a Christian Church with one voice. We cannot simply sit by and allow this slaughter to continue. We cannot continue to permit our tax dollars to fund more and more injustice and the slow slaughter of the Palestinian people. With a new President we hope that our blind support of the unjust practices of Israel will cease. Nevertheless, it is up to us, the American people, to see things as they really are, and to sound this call again and again. Through our protests, our strategies of resistance, and our intelligent non-cooperation we must speak out in the name of justice and peace. We dare not do any thing less and still call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ.

Stefan Andre