January 2006 Archives

The bilingual education debate is the subject of "The Choosers" which will screen at Rice Cinema this Saturday, February 4, 2006 at 2 pm. It is made by Rafael Salaberry, a linguistics professor at Rice University.

Grassroots productions like this one are becoming more "normal" now that technology is accessible and all can be producers. Faith communities have yet to find their identity as producers, even though they live and breath in a media-saturated context. This essay by Eileen Crowley, is an excellent framework for local church productions.


Henry Ríos: Heaven = Forgiveness

Bleary-eyed this morning because I was up until 2 AM with a murder mystery I just could not put down. I could not stop reading until I got to the end and found out the "whodunit" answer.

"The Burning Plain" is taut, polished writing that moves with brisk structure and strong lyric description. Some of the phrases are so wonderful that you have to read them over just to enjoy the words.

The characters evolve with strong visual and psychological depth. It's a fiction way to reflect on social policy, philosophy -- theology. Here is one of the dialog moments between the hero, Henry Ríos, and his friend, Grant:

Grant: "Of course I believe in an afterlife. Don't you?
Henry: "In heaven and hell? No"
He put his arm around me. "Heaven and hell? You're just like Hugo. He can only imagine heaven if there's a hell. Well, you're both Catholic, after all. Me, Henry, I think it's all heaven. Great food, good weather, hunky guys."
"You're describing San Francisco," I pointed out.
"Why not?" Why shouldn't it be lke this, but without the suffering?"
"Even for those who inflict suffering?
"We all inflict suffering, honey," he said. "And we all suffer. Why not a world where everyone forgives everyone else for good?"
"Not everything can be forgiven," I said.
He shook his head. "That's why you worry about hell."

"Burning Plain" is Michael Nava's penultimate (Nava has retired the lawyer-detective Henry Rios) in a seven-book mystery series that shows the bad and good textures of American society. It's been called a bildungsroman that is an American Classic.

Happy reading.

Open Source for Religious Resources

Just attended a remarkable meeting in St. Paul. The first meeting to plan an open source site for those who create religious resources. The discussions were energizing and hopeful. Mary Hess organized the meeting that included participants with varied and rich experience. Legal, theological, ecclesial and software questions were discussed from differents points of view. You can follow the discussion on the blog that Eric Celeste made.

The next step is to write a Request for Proposals that details the purpose, description of users, the architecture and scope of the site. This proposal will be circulated widely in order to find a home(s) for the site and to define the costs.

If you know of anyone who wants to be a partner, from Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Europe, let them know about this, as it will be global and multilingual.


Open Source Religious Materials

I'm off to Minneapolis to participate in a meeting at Luther Seminary to help plan and implement an open source site for religious materials. This is an idea whose time has come because the ferment at the grassroots, engaged as it already is to a global network, is posed to build a new network of social relationships. I hope that the large religious Christian publishing houses will notice this and see how they can change in ways that serve the new ways of making materials. If not, they will most likely die out from lack of sales.

Evo Morales and Atahuallpa

Yesterday Bolivia saw the installation of Evo Morales, at the ancient native ceremonial site, the Akapana Pyramid. The last time this happened was 500 years ago, with the last of the indigenous leaders, Atawallpa. Morales was dressed in the special ceremonial tunic of past Tiwanakota rulers. Morales is an Aymara, the first indigenous President of Bolivia.

Travelling through Latin America over the past 20 years, I've witnessed the steady decline of income, nutrition and education. Economic plans modelling liber capitalism have caused suffering and death.

So I'm watching with attention this sea change in political awareness and democratic reform that is happening on the Latin American continent. Alberto sent me Evo Morales' recent presidential address in which a new direction is clearly outlined. This is the link to the text of his address. He will undo the privatization of water. He will also import expertise from the US and Europe to develop industrial and productive capacity within Bolivia. This latter will replace the policy of simply exporting basic materials. Oil will not be a privately-held resource anymore.

There is definitely a new wind blowing on the continent.

Tina Hernandez and Skarnales

Last night at the opening of the new exhibit at the CACCH gallery, Space 125, I met two artists whose work I want to explore more.
Tina Hernandez makes T-shirts and poster-like paintings with heavy Mexican 1910 retro. She also has a book that is selling at the local (Houston)
Casa Ramirez Folk Art Gallery
239 W. 19th St.
Houston, TX 77008

Nick Gaitan of the band, "Los Skarnales" will play Feb. 3rd at Fitzgerald's. I plan to be there. Opening the trunk of his car and pulling a copy of their new CD, "Pachuco Boogie Sound System," he gave it to me. I'll be streaming some of it on the JM website.


Vital Theology

One of the members of the World Association for Christian Communication of North America runs this site that reflects theologically on current events around the globe: Vital Theology. Interesting and worth a read. It says it is "not restrained by denominational boundaries."


Maid In America

Last night I saw a wonderful documentary, "Maid In America" after proscratinating about it for weeks. Generally, I don't like PBS films on Latina subjects because they are mostly depressing and circular in their vision. Although I know they are not all like that, nevertheless I have an instinctive aversion to them. Since I was small I have reacted against programs about us that display us as rueful. I don't like any depictions that do not foreground the agency of the poor.

Anayansi Prado has made an exciting, touching film that lets the story live through empathy and attention to detail about the lives of three women who left their country and find themselves as domestic workers in Los Angeles. This is a story of life lived on hope and faith. Of amazing suffering and endurance that shakes up all of us comfortable career folk.

Please do see this story of 3 women. Eva will unsettle you as she cleans bathrooms with dignity you won't believe. Judith is the incarnation of all that is fine and faithful and eternal about human daily living. Through enormous quiet anguish, she sustains life simply on the hope of a better future for her girls and boy. Telma effortlessly negotiates and crosses cultural and language boundaries, enriching those she touches.

Anayansi Prado demonstrates how good a director she is when she addresses the justice issues and victimization of domestic workers. Her instinct is absolutely perfect as she selects a dramatic device that leads us into the issues with interest and humor.

I think this is what I like most about this terrifically well crafted documentary. The protagonist, subject role of the women. As a filmmaker, Prado has to get very close to the women in order to reveal their personalities, their inner stirrings. She succeeds. She is an example of how Latinas are changing filmmaking and now I will be less reticent to view Latino subjects.

These are links about domestic workers, including ways to lend a helping hand to the agency of women domestic workers.

United Domestic Workers of America (UDWA)

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles


El Payaso

David Rosales works with bright colors in his digital art figures. His take on aliens, being a Chicano, is funny and also rueful. His website has other digital art using Flash.
His "Chicano Art for Dummies" critiques spray paint.

When Love is revealed, it is terrifying

My friend Monica sent me the following news and it is heartbreaking.

"18-year-old Sita and 20-year-old Vandana, two young women in India
who have been in a relationship together for the last 5 years, were
chased and beaten by their families this week after they had a
ceremony to formalize their union, and Monday, Sita tried to commit
suicide by consuming pesticide, and was rushed to a private nursing

It's like a story out of the movies Fire and The Journey, but worse.

Neighbors are outraged - at the girls. Says neighbor Ram Singh, "This
is ridiculous and not acceptable. People will laugh if two women run
away and get married."

Yes, it's the girls getting married that "not acceptable", not the
beatings, the chasing, and the suicide attempt.

Sita and Vandana are the latest in a growing number of lesbian
couples to publicly enter into a marriage-like arrangement in India.
And by "growing", I mean there are three or four."

My interpretation of these events is that Love is the gift that GLBT persons reveal. That revelation is frightening to people.


Brokeback Mountain and Chopin

The lush simplicity of Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" can be compared to that of Chopin's Ballade No. 1 as it is played by Arturo Benedetto Michelangeli I recall that with both experiences I was awed by the tight structure, the natural orderliness of every minute detail. Both artists take the original script/music and construct a piece whose life comes from paying deference to the structure of the original conception. No unnecessary flourishes. No special effects. A high awareness of the importance of detail and relationship. Both pieces demonstrate a deep knowing. A belief in the power of natural, uncontained order.

Both art experiences left me speechless and in awe. I think that the film and the piano reveal. They uncover the real and they praise the many facets of God's creation -- beautiful and dangerous.


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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