Monday, February 26, 2007

Need for dialogue

I received the following emailed news item from Mary Anne, a kindred spirit and thoughtful friend, and felt it important enough to give it prominent placement on my blog. Heaven knows, we need to be opening up a dialogue with Iran.


As Christian leaders from the United States, we went to
Iran at this time of increased tension believing that it
is possible to build bridges of understanding between our
two countries. We believe military action is not the
answer, and that God calls usto just and peaceful
relationships within the global community.

We were a diverse group of Christian leaders that included
United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical,
Quaker, and Mennonites who have 17 years of on the
ground experience in Iran. We were warmly welcomed by
the Iranian people, and our time in Iran convinced us
that religious leaders from both countries can help
pave the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations
between our nations.

During our visit we met with Muslim and Christian leaders,
government officials, and other Iranian people. Our final
day included a meeting with former President Khatami and
current President Ahmadinejad. The meeting with President
Ahmadinejad was the first time an American delegation had
met with a sitting Iranian President in Iran since the
Islamic revolution in 1979. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours
and covered a range of topics including the role of religion
in transforming conflict, Iraq, nuclear proliferation,
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What the delegation found most encouraging from the
meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear
declaration from him of no intention to acquire or
use nuclear weapons, as well as a statement that
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved
through political not military means. Finally, he said,
"I have no reservation about conducting talks with
American officials if we see some good will."

We believe it is possible for further dialogue and that
there can be a new day in U.S. - Iranian relations. The
Iranian government has already built a bridge toward the
American people by inviting our delegation to come
to Iran. We ask the U.S. government to welcome a similar
delegation of Iranian religious leaders to the United

As additional steps in building bridges between our
nations, we call upon both the United States and Iranian
governments to:

* Immediately engage in direct face-to-face talks
* Cease using language that defines the other using "enemy"
* Promote more people to people exchanges including religious
leaders, members of Parliament/Congress, and civil society

As people of faith, we are committed to working towards
these and other confidence building measures, which we
hope will move our two nations from the precipice of war
towards a more just and peaceful settlement.

For more information contact:
Dan Webster
Director of Media Relations
National Council of Churches, USA
475 Riverside Drive Suite 880
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212 870-2252
Fax 212 870-2030

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours (otherwise known as what's on my iPod?)

My iPod is an iPod mini, a model that Apple no longer makes and that has long been superceded. It continues to perform admirably and has been in daily use for several years. It's a rich-looking brushed silver and was engraved "La Vaughn's iPod" as well as with the following quote from Helen Keller: "Literature is my utopia." It's generally found happily esconced in my purse in it's own special suitcase from stm accompanied by a tiny AirPlay adapter that allows me to listen to it through my car's speakers.

As might be guessed from the Keller quote, my iPod is currently filled with a number of books, ranging from History of the World by J. M. Roberts (approximately 25 hours of listening pleasure), The Inner Art of Meditation by Jack Kornfield (8 hours of listening), The Middle Way by Jinananda (4 hours of teachings about the Buddha) and Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd (14 hours of biographical erudition on all things Shakespearean).

Then there are the podcasts. I subscribe to three dharma talks podcasts: 21st Century Buddhism, Audio Dharma (from the Insight Meditation Center) and Urban Dharma featuring Rev. Kusala. For a broader perspective on the news, I subscribe to Mosaic - World News from the Middle East and From Our Own Correspondent from the BBC. Then there's CUC Digital Sermons from the Unitarian Universalist Church. And, just for pure auditory pleasure, there's This American Life by Ira Glass. I'm also holding on to 24 lectures on Abnormal Psychology from the University of Berkeley, California, until I can get my hands on the accompanying textbook.

Ok,I actually do have some music on my iPod: 2 CD's worth of Blues from the Best of the Blues collection obtained on a whim at Walmart, Windham Hill 's CD America, Sax for Success by Workbeats (a wonderful Jazz find at my local grocery store) and a new age CD downloaded through iTunes called Healing Therapy Music: Colors.

OK, that's mine (and I still have 1.5 gigabytes of space left!!!) Let's see yours!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brrrrrr! It's cold and getting colder! (or Reader's Reverie for February 4th)

It's 11 degrees Farenheit outside right now and I suspect it's actually a little colder given the wind chill factor. That makes today a great day to stay inside and post something on this blog. (Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

I've got a pile of reading material to catch up on ranging from Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis and Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. Oren (both Christmas presents from my husband). I can't wait to grab my Christmas present to him: Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by former President Carter. I just finished re-reading an old science fiction favorite: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (circa 1955). On my bedside stand is a new book by the Dalai Lama, How to See Yourself As You Really Are. Please don't assume I've always got my nose stuck in such mind stretching books. I'm also salivating over two books from the Weis and Hickman DragonLance series: Dragons of a Fallen Sun and Dragons of the a Lost Star,

As if that wasn't enough, I've ordered the (used) textbook for a course on Clinical Psychology I'm auditing via iTunes from Berkeley. I'm also reading an ebook, Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food for another course on Human Nutrition at Berkeley. As an aside, I can't believe how much higher educational courses have changed since I was in college (1969-1973). The ebook comes with a companion website containing flashcards for drill, a themed crossword puzzle, animations, chapter summaries and learning objectives as well a complete practice exams that can be emailed to the instructor! I also believe that a course on nutrition will mean much more to these college freshmen in the long run than the mandatory science course that I took, Science and Man, so many years ago. That's not to say that I don't still remember the idea of paradigm change in science and haven't, on occasion, applied it to some current situation in my life. But, knowledge about nutrition, in this depth and at this level, will be something they (and I) can use daily for the rest of our lives.