June 2003 Archives

Catholics are commenting about The US Supreme Court ruling of last Thursday that struck down Texas's "Homosexual Conduct� law, which criminalized oral and anal sex by consenting gay couples and was used widely to justify discrimination against lesbians and gay men. Bishop Gregory of the US Catholic Bishops finds this ruling by the Supreme Courth threatening. Go figure. Same old.

How different in tone, with more insightful reasoning and pastoral care, is the story from the Catholic Brazilian news agency, ADITAL that reports Lutheran Pastor Roberto Pi�eda's words to a gay gathering today in El Salvador, Brazil: "entiendo que mi responsabilidad como pastor es acompa�ar a los que sufren y a los que luchan. Y ustedes como Comunidad Gay sufren discriminaci�n de esta sociedad homof�bica y se encuentran luchando y eso lo respeto mucho."

It is on the margins, among the powerless who are despised, it is there that hope lives and joy bursts forth. Caiphas is alive and well, but so is the spirit of God.


Peruvian Documentary, "Choropampa"

Ernesto Cabellos and Stepanie Boyd completed this riveting documentary, "Choropampa" about a community in the Peruvian Andes who was contaminated when a truck carrying a mercury-filled tank capsized.

Do try to see this inside view of current life outside Lima. The video has a rough edge to it and puts you in the middle of this life-and-death struggle. It has just won at Festroia in Portugal. Running time is 60 minutes. Available in both English (sub-titles) and Spanish.
The press notes say: "On June 2nd, 2000 at the Yanacocha goldmine in the Peruvian Andes, 151 kilograms of liquid mercury spilled over a 25-mile long area, contaminating three mountain villages, including Choropampa. The environmental catastrophe turned this quiet village into a hotbed of civil resistance."

The distributor in the US is:
First Run / Icarus Films
32 Court Street, 21 Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 st
++ 718 488 8900 Phone
++ 718 488 8642 Fax
email : mailbox@frif.com

Good viewing.

Brazilian Short for Liturgy

I've been trying to find a way to obtain copies of a wonderful 1995 Brazilian short film, 5 minutes, by Cao Hamburger,
"O Menino, A Favela E As Tampas de Panela"

Let me know if you have any info. about possible distributors. I hope we will soon find a way to access some of these independent productions that are not finding their way into Amazon or Yahoo Shopping.


Hispanic TV Viewing

Last Thursday, 6/19, I presented a workshop to students at MACC in San Antonio, Texas and they were greatly surprised to learn that US Hispanics, as well as the general population, watch over 50 hours of TV every week. I see two general reactions among ministers to this fact. One is to try to find ways to help their congregation watch less TV and replace that time with other activities that are considered more productive. Another is to find out what meaning the congregation is making of their TV watching and what joy they are finding there.

For information about the latter, Stewart Hoover, Lynn Schofield-Clark and their team of researchers are giving us valuable insightes into meaning-making and the joy of watching.

During TV viewing we both enjoy and denounce. What we like makes us laugh and gives us joy. What we don't like makes us mad and affirms our stance against injustice, shallow consumerism, prejudicial news.

It seems to me that when ministers watch some of that same TV and thus accompany congregations in their enjoyment of viewing experiences, no matter how secular they may appear, this celebration of joy enables the minister to be more attuned to the viewing experience. The result of this is that the minister is better able to help the congregation critically denounce the insidious aspects which are also there.


Cartoons: War and Religion

Here are some more animations that you may be able to project in class, discussion groups or just enjoy at your desk. First, some links from the site, thequickie.com, about Iraq, War, Religion. The first is a game that is on their homepage now called "Test Your Faith." I've played it twice and both times I can't seem to be able to save poor George W.
Another is called, "God Bless America" and features Jesus as the HUD Director. Again I have to credit Mary Hess for letting me know about this in her weblog.

Grande Mesa posts commentary and news about the Iraq war and aftermath. It is irreverent and wonderful. I am glad to say that the founder of this Chicana, chicano website is from San Antonio. Here is a commentary on the ridiculous deck of playing cards featuring the most wanted Iraqi's.

Of course, here's the link to the very funny satire site everyone talks about, The Onion.

Finally, here's a group that links digital art and performance to explore the war as a natural partner to technology, corporate growth and surveillance. Browse through the website of Los Cybrids (But be careful. Their jokes and irreverence can frighten you. The joke about a virus scared me, but there was actually no virus. Too bad it's the end of their touring performance of "El World Brain Disorder: surveillance.control.pendejismo," that explores, according to them, "the often hilarious dysfunctional convergence between surveillance technologies, military industrial complexes, the national police state and fundamentalist extremism that is accelerating the hyper-globalization of catastrophe and inequality."


In one of her blog entries for June 8, Mary Hess poses a question asked by one of her students. I want to pass it along, as well as some of the ways that she suggests the question can be answered.

The question is:
"If you had to counter Carl Rove's PR strategy re: gaining support for Bush's preemptive war policy and related policies...if you were encouraged to think way out of the box...to move folks sitting in their pews across the nation to get off their ass... to undertake an in-your-face, won't-be-denied, everybody-will-know type challenge to these domestic and other injustices in a manner that contextualizes them here and globally as well as contrasts them with God's true intensions for our nation/world...exactly what would you do and how would you do it?"

What we do, how we talk to each other is the strongest way to change the world. For Chicanas and Chicano these conversations find a positive, strong current on the Internet, even amidst the Internet inertia of corporate commercialism. Take a look at this information-filled and provocative site that, at last, looks at places where Our Lady of Guadalupe is appearing. This is art and religion working out very important dynamics of community. Through the way that we converse about this, peace can happen. The Catholic Church's response is important as it struggles to find a way to deal with the grassroots spirit. Peace is not the goal, it is the way.


Today I received an invitation to a performance by a local Houston band, "NTX&THEELECTRICSUTTEE." The name, Suttee, gives me the opportunity to tell you about a "must see" film by Anand Patwardhan that members of the study commission saw in Bangkok in July 2001. The film is "Father, Son and Holy War".

FATHER, SON AND HOLY WAR explores in two parts the possibility that the psychology of violence against "the other" may lie in male insecurity, itself an inevitable product of the very construction of "manhood."

Anand Patwardhan's films continue to be blocked from viewing. This year this happened at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC

The video price at Icarus First Run Films is way too expensive for any individual to purchase, and this problem is widespread among most independent filmmakers. You might write directly to Anand Patwardhan and at least congratulate him.


We have finished taping for the documentary that will feature Lima, Mexico and Dominican Republic as portraits of Catholic faith. The crew is exhausted but very happy. I watched the footage thus far and, gracias a Dios, it looks great. The interviews are amazing, proof that the eternal spirit is brightly alive. I'm producing the documentary for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In Santo Domingo everyone was happy about Miss Universe, although several young Dominicans told me that "we get good news like this, but the reality is that there is a lot of bad news. We go back and forth and make the best of it." A 2002 film, "Miss America" gives insight into the pageant phenomen. The site at PBS gives very funny (at least they are funny to me) downloadable video clips of Miss America moments.

In April a major bank fraud scandal was uncovered. Fraud and diversion of US$ 2.2 billion dollars caused not only the collapse of the Banco Intercontinental, the jailing of the principal executivies, but loss of confidence of many Dominicans, although the Central Bank has vowed to guarantee that depositors do not lose their money. The scandal has disheartened most in this country, since part of the loss is owed to contributions to the Catholic church, to political parties and to other not-for-profit groups. The report of this tragedy by the Central Bank makes it clear that the Catholic church and other not-for-profit groups did not know that the contributions they received were coming directly from depositors by means of fraud.

Coherence in the Andes

Today we tape establishing shots of the traffic in downtown Lima and then head for the airport for the last leg of this documentary shoot, Santo Domingo.

Many Quechua people in Peru, to mention only one and the most numerous of the indigenous communities in this country, are Catholic. Speaking with Anibal Ni�o, a young deacon who will be ordained a Catholic priest in February 2004, I learned that to this day native spirituality is tied to the earth, the sun, the wind. A colleague of his who directs the rosary campaign at the Peruvian conference of Catholic bishops, Hugo Zorilla, confirms that the sierra still beckons and gives inner strength and guidance. Before deciding to work in Catholic church projects, Hugo traveled from the city of Lima to his home town in the Andean sierra where he meditated and read Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. He points to this sierra experience, with Catholic European reading, as a spiritual reawakening experience.

Dichotomies, cultural clashes and exclusive categories seem far away here. There is coherence and unity of experience. The many particulars simply strengthen and enrich experience.

When I get back to Houston I will post some of the Andean images. Somehow, when you are here, things do seem to all belong together.


Am today shooting the documentary in Lima, Peru. Imagine my surprise when upon approaching the presidential palace in the middle of Lima I saw the gay flag colors flying next to the Peruvian flag atop the palace!
This just goes to show my myopic view and I was quickly told that this multi colored flag, colors of the rainbow, is the flag of the ancient area of the Incas, Tahuantinsuyo.

When he was elected in July, 2001, President Alejandro Toledo Manrriquez insisted on flying the indigenous flag alongside that of the republic of Peru.

It looks great.

Radio Huaya

This is the final day of taping Mexico City and this afternoon we go to Lima, Peru. Learned about a radio station in the Indigenous communities of Otomi, Nahuatl and Kepehua that has been operating for 35 years. The story of the radio having become integrated as a social, cultural sytem, or organ, of the community begs for research. If you are a scholar, this is where your service is needed, for it is a goldmine of a model, I think, for what human-based communications systems can do and be.

Radio Huayacocotla (Radio "Huaya") operates on short frequency 2390 kh.
Community residents use it as a backbone for airing issues, celebrating community events and staying in touch with each other.

The New York Link
The radio station serves as the telephone system of the community with New York City. Although the Otomi had not migrated before, about five years ago the food shortage and economic deprivation became so great that young men began to migrate to New York City to work, then return home and sustain their families. Radio Huaya is the way that the young men in the Bronx and in Queens call their families. They place a call to the radio station and leave a detailed message for their family. Then the radio station broadcasts the message to the community.

9/11 Conversation
Otomi who were in New York used this system to call Radio Huaya and tell their families that they were alive. One of the callers also said "The Americans now are frightened, they are for the first time frightened. Pray for them."

Radio Huaya does not have a website. For more info write to Harriet Paterson, a journalist who is collaborating with the radio.


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