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Kaj Harald Leininger Munk (commonly called Kaj Munk) (13 January, 1898 – 4 January, 1944) was a Danish playwright and Lutheran pastor, known for his cultural engagement and his martyrdom during World War II. He is commemorated as a martyr in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on August 14 with Maximilian Kolbe. He was born Kaj Harald Leininger Petersen on the island of Lolland, Denmark, and raised by a family named Munk after the death of his parents. From 1924, he was the vicar of Vedersø in Western Jutland. The dramas of Munk were mostly performed and made public during the 1930s, although many were written in the 1920s. Much of his work is a contribution to the “philosophy-on-life debate” (religion – Marxism – Darwinism) which marked much of Danish cultural life during this period. He often used a historical background for his plays – among his influences were Shakespeare and Goethe. In his dramas Munk often displays a fascination for “strong characters” and integrated people who fight wholeheartedly for their ideals (whether good or bad). In his play En Idealist, for example, the “hero” is King Herod whose fight to maintain power is the motive behind all of his acts until he is at last defeated by a show of kindness to the Christ child in a weak moment. I Brændingen is a camouflaged portrait of Munk’s antagonist, the anti-religious Georg Brandes whose atheism also impressed him. His 1925 play Ordet (The Word) is often said to have been his best work; it is an investigation of miracles from the unique (at least, to theatre) viewpoint of one who was not prepared to dismiss them. A family of farmers – of differing degrees of faith – find themselves reconciled to their neighbours through a miracle. A 1955 film version of Ordet was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and won the Golden Globe Award that year for Best Foreign Language Film. On one occasion, in the early 1930s, in a comment that would come back to haunt him in later years, Munk expressed admiration for Hitler (for uniting Germans) and wished that the same kind of unifying figure could be found for Danes. However, Munk’s attitude towards Hitler (and Mussolini) quickly turned to outspoken disgust, as he witnessed Hitler’s persecution of the German Jewish community, and Mussolini’s conduct of the war in Ethiopia. Early on, Munk was a strong opponent of the German Occupation of Denmark (1940-1945) (although he continually opposed the idea of democracy as such, preferring the idea of a “Nordic dictator” who should unite the Nordic countries and keep them neutral during periods of international crisis). His plays Han sidder ved Smeltediglen (“He sits by the melting pot”) and Niels Ebbesen were direct attacks on Nazism. The latter, centering on the figure of Niels Ebbesen, a medieval Danish squire considered a national hero for having assassinated an earlier German occupier of Denmark, Count Gerhard III was a contemporary analogue to WWII-era Denmark. In 1938 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published on its front page an open letter to Benito Mussolini written by Kaj Munk criticising the persecutions against Jews. He was arrested and subsequently assassinated by the Gestapo on January 4, 1944 at Hørbylunde, near Silkeborg. The reputation of Munk is one of the most paradoxical in modern Danish literature. During most of his life he was known as a right-wing anti-democrat, yet he passed into history as the anti-Nazi martyr. He was extremely engaged in his own time, but usually wrote historical plays. He is often called a renewer of Danish drama but, in fact, he tried to revive both romantic and traditional naturalist theatre. He is called a classicist but today his plays are not performed very often. He was a deeply religious person but just as much a man of this world. His engaging personality has been an enduring centre of interest.

INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL CAMP – OVER 18
Apocalypse: a world of fears and dreams or an encounter with reality? – 3rd – 10th august

Languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German
A weeklong Camp at Agape to share Bible readings, different experiences of faith and the quest for meaning, alongside analyses of our world and the doubts these entail, as seen through the eyes of participants from all continents.
This year we will be reading texts from the Book of the Apocalypse – a Book often kept shut and often used to herald catastrophes and the end of the world. What can we glean from this Book? Are we to flee from reality or muster hope and courage in reading into it the contradictions of the present?
How is it relevant to us today? How can it assist us in a political criticism of our societies in the modern age and how has it done so in ages past? Where can we pin down the cruel and inhumane side of our current reality and can this symbolic language help us to see things more clearly?

We will spend a week living as a community, engaging in discussions, creativity, fun and moments of worship for those who wish to take part, as well as meeting people from many different backgrounds.
LEVELS OF PARTICIPATION FEES
Price A 203.00 € (29 euro/day)
Price B 224.00 € (32 euro/day)
Price C 252.00 € (36 euro/day)
Price D 280.00 € (40 euro/day)
Price E 315.00 € (45 euro/day)
Price F 357.00 € (51 euro/day)
Price G 406.00 € (58 euro/day)

The real cost for one day at Agape is about 36 euros. Everybody can choose his/her participation fees according to his/her possibilities and disposition to help Agape. Agape is not an hotel and is based on volontary work of many people.
As the participants will receive the magazine “Agape Immaginaria” we also ask a minimum offer of 4 Euros which are to be paid at the beginning of the camp.
Information for people coming to Agape
The Centre is operated and maintained by a resident group supported by voluntary work from young people from various countries. Participating in a camp in Agape means taking part in the Centre’s community life for a week. Those who come to Agape to participate in a camp, to study or for a break are requested to comply with the following rules. You must agree to fully participate in camp life, including the study activities. The camps begin with dinner on the first day, and end with the closing breakfast, unless instructions are given to the contrary. Early departures and late arrivals are not permitted; in the event of an undeclared early departure, the amount paid cannot be reimbursed, either partially or in total. For the adult camps and the Work Camp to register for the camps , the minimum age is 18. Adults and people aged over 15 must have an Identity Card or a valid I.D. Document. Smoking is only permitted outside the building. Each participant is asked to collaborate with table service and washing dishes, both because this help is necessary and because, for us, it is an important symbol of sharing work. Agape is not responsible for accidents or damage which may take place during the camps due to a failure to observe the internal rules and rules decided upon from time to time, at various camps. The centre is only responsible for money and objects belonging to the participants in the camps if these are expressly handed over for safekeeping. Agape will ask guests to pay for any damage caused. The altitude of Agape is 1,600m, so warm, comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear are necessary. Each room has three or four beds, and there is a bathroom on each floor. There are no single or double rooms. Agape provides sheets and blankets, but guests are asked to bring their own towels. Agape cannot distribute medication. If you have particular requirements or if you have to take medicines, then you must notify us of this before your arrival. The chemist’s in Praly is not open every day

Pls visit this web site:

http://www.agapecentroecumenico.org/sito/index.phpname=EZCMS&page_id=330&menu=80900

Madagascar Protestant leader reported released from detention

Geneva (ENI). The head of the largest Protestant church in Madagascar is reported to have been freed after being detained on 17 March by unspecified military personnel following the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana. Reports received by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches indicated that the president of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), the Rev. Lala Rasendrahasina, was released after only a brief detention. The FJKM is a member of Geneva-based WARC. [450 words, ENI-09-0222]

Hungarian churches warn of social collapse amid financial crisis

Warsaw (ENI). Hungarian church leaders have warned their country faces violence and breakdown in the face of unemployment and dislocation brought by the current financial meltdown. “We were already in bad shape before this global crisis, and we are now affected more deeply than other countries in our region,” explained the Rev. Balazs Odor, ecumenical officer of the Reformed Church in Hungary, which comprises about one fifth of the country’s 9.9 million citizens. [451 words, ENI-09-0223]

In Africa, Pope Benedict praises family ‘values’ amid HIV dispute

Rome (ENI). Pope Benedict XVI has urged bishops in Cameroon to defend African family values and to protect the poor from globalisation, on his first full day of a visit to Africa, which was also marked by controversy over his remarks concerning condoms and AIDS. “The difficulties arising from the impact of modernity and secularisation on traditional society inspire you to defend vigorously the essential values of the African family,” the pontiff told an 18 March meeting of Cameroon bishops the day after he arrived in the west African country. [688 words, ENI-09-0221]

Global conference to promote solidarity with excluded Dalits

Manila (ENI). The leaders of two global church organizations have called for international solidarity with 250 million Dalits, people regarded as “untouchable” who face discrimination on the basis of their descent. “We hope to promote the emergence of an international ecumenical movement in solidarity with Dalits and other similarly affected groups, in order to break the silence, and to work for an end to this form of oppression and exclusion, and for the liberation of those under its yoke,” said World Council of Churches general secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia and his counterpart in the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko. They made the statement in a letter inviting 100 participants to meet in Bangkok from 20 to 24 March at a global conference to raise international awareness about the human rights and justice concerns of the Dalits.

 

The WCC says that there are an estimated 250 million Dalits in South Asia. The Bangkok meeting is taking place a month before a United Nations meeting in Geneva to review progress towards the goals set in Durban, South Africa, at a 2001 U.N. conference on racism. [332 words, ENI-09-0220]

 

ENI News Highlights contain summaries of ENI articles published today.

This summary may be copied or re-posted provided the information printed below is retained.

Individual paragraphs may be reproduced provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.

For details of subscriptions to the full ENI News Service, which contains full text articles, contact ENI at the address below.

www.eni.ch

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Mexico Senate Approves HB 285
The Senate approved the measure on a vote of 24 yes, 18 no.  HB 285 would replace the state’s death penalty with a sentence of life in prison. Governor Bill Richardson has not said whether he will sign the bill, but has said that his past support of the death penalty has “softened,”
Dear Friend,
The time has come for personal contacts to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson urging him to take a leadership position on New Mexico’s groundbreaking package of legislation designed to better support the families of murder victims.  Please craft and send your personal message today.  A phone call would be great, and even better would be if you fax a letter, then follow it up with a telephone call.  An additional touch would be to also send the letter in the postal mail.

Thank you for taking this action today.  If you have any questions or I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Viki Elkey
Executive Director 

New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty
PO Box 8552
Santa Fe, NM 87504
Fax: 505.986.9287
Cell: 505.205.3750

www.nmrepeal.org
viki@nmrepeal.org

Information for calls, letters and faxes to NM Governor Bill Richardson

Address:        Office of the Governor

490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Telephone:    (505)827-3000

Fax:                (505)827-3026
Email:            gov@gov.state.nm.us

Points to make in your message to the Governor:

Please encourage Governor Richardson to support HB 285 to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico, and also support HB 211 that allows for paid or unpaid leave for family members to attend court proceedings and HB 284 that expands services to murder victim family members in New Mexico.

It’s about helping murder victim families:

New Mexico will become the first state to TRULY put victims’ families first.  When murder happens, it is the family of the victim that suffers the most and the longest – yet our criminal justice system is focused on how to treat the murderer. It is time for the focus to return to the family, to address the harsh realities of losing a loved one. The Catastrophic Crime and Family Restitution Program would replace the death penalty with true life without parole and create an innovative package of services for the families of murder victims – the first such program in the country. This legislation is the toughest on criminals and the most compassionate to the families of the victim.

 

Public opinion supports this package of bills:

A statewide December 2008 poll of likely New Mexican voters showed that 64% support replacing the death penalty with life without parole plus restitution to victims’ families.  That number is higher for the following categories:

1.        Hispanic voters, 72%

2.        Democrats, 73%

3.        Roman Catholics, 73%

Keeping the death penalty means risking a wrongful execution:

At least 130 men and women who were convicted and sentenced to death have been released from death row nationwide since 1973 – less than 15% of them through DNA evidence.  Rather, it is false witness testimony, police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct that put innocent men and women on death row in this country.   In 1974, New Mexico sentenced to death four innocent men, Thomas Gladis, Ronald Keine, Clarence Smith and Richard Greer, based on false witness testimony and police misconduct. A 1992 study found 23 cases since 1900 where innocent people were executed.

The death penalty costs too much:

According to the NM Public Defender Department, the abolition of the death penalty would save New Mexico several million dollars each year.  The costs of the death penalty are borne systemically, impacting the Public Defender Department, the Attorney General’s office, the various District Attorney offices, and the trial and the appellate courts.  In December, 2004, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bosson estimated that the cost of a death penalty case was 6 times higher than other murder cases in New Mexico.

The world is watching:

Since 2007, the last time an abolition bill was up for consideration in the NM State Legislature, the following countries have abolished the death penalty – Liberia, Mexico, the Philippines, Albania, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Chile, Argentina and the Tongo.  This brings the total number of abolitionist countries to 91, with another 33 countries that are abolitionist in practice.  New Mexico wants to join these countries in abolishing the death penalty instead of remaining with the likes of China, Cuba, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Dott. Claudio Giusti

Via Don Minzoni 40, 47100 Forlì, Italia
Tel.  39/0543/401562     39/340/4872522
e-mail  giusticlaudio@aliceposta.it

Lutheran theologian and Christian pacifist.

Dorothee Soelle was a German theologian who came of age during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II. Studying at the University of Cologne, she became a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminarym where she served from 1975 to 1987 during which time she embraced mysticism and saw justice and peacemaking as its natural expression in a world reeling from consumerism, economic inequities and ecological trauma.

“Not one to be as concerned about organized religion as about living out God in the world, Soelle’s brand of radical Christianity finds connections between mystical experience and political activism, between suffering and resisting the status quo… She insisted that being Christian meant one needed to stand against the war in Vietnam and was adamant that any theology that allowed soldiers to work in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and still go to church on Sunday must have some serious problems. Soelle called for a democratization of mysticism because experience of God is available for all and cannot be holed up in cathedrals or church dogmas. Like many others whose lives of the spirit are inspirational, Soelle seemed to have encountered and lived out God in ways that questioned much of what we accept as ‘given’ about our world. Her critiques of capitalism, consumerism, nuclear arms buildup, Vietnam and Christian theology that created the space for Auschwitz were all scathing.”

“She was and remains the political conscience of Protestantism,” said Maria Jepsen, the Lutheran bishop of Hamburg, where Soelle lived, reported the German Protestant news agency. A popular speaker in Europe, Soelle displayed radicalism and themes in her early works that prefigured later developments in feminist theology.

“She was genuinely and deeply rooted in the spiritual tradition of the Christian church and intensely engaged in the struggle for justice,” said Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Soelle developed a massive following during the post-World War II student revolt in West Germany. With Fulbert Steffensky, the Benedictine monk whom she later married, she founded in 1968 the Politisches Nachtgebet in Cologne: Late-evening prayers linking spirituality and politics in churches that became full to overflowing. These were prayers for peace that directly tackled the current political issues in the world, such as the Vietnam War, Cold War, the dictatorship in Greece, prison conditions, the Solidarity movementm the Chilean coup and arms manufacturing.

Current events were linked directly to Gospel passages. For example about Vietnam she prayed that, “I was hungry and you have chemically destroyed the harvest in my country. I was naked and you have clothed me with napalm.” Such a form of prayer was shocking at the time, especially for the conservative Catholic Church which had participated in the first event, unaccustomed to directly engaging relevant political issues and using the Gospel as a yardstick to measure the world’s corruption.

“It was the first time, in this form, that conflictual political issues were used as the focus of attention in a context of liturgical celebration and prayer,” noted Raiser, who was then a university assistant in Germany.

Another notable feature of these events was the new creed Soelle penned:

I believe in God,
Though the world does not.
God always remains so,
Even while the world refuses to be governed by the eternal laws,
Which are designed for all from rich to poor,
Experts to the uninformed,
Rulers to the ruled.
I believe in God;
The contradiction of the world’s will.

Later she travelled to the United States where she led protest marchers against a number of wars, from Vietnam onwards to the Gulf War and Afghan and Iraq conflicts. She had faith that all true Christians would understand that pacifism was an essential tenet of their religion.

She wrote a large number of books, including “Theology for Skeptics: Reflections on God” and “The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance” (2001).

In “Beyond Mere Obedience: Reflections on a Christian Ethic for the Future” she coined the now-commonly used term “Christofascist” to describe fundamentalists. To Dorothee Sölle, Christofascism was caused by the embracing of authoritarian theology by the Christian church. It is an arrogant, totalitarian, imperialistic attitude, characteristic of the church in Germany under Nazism, that she believed to be alive and well in the theological scene of the late 20th and turn of the 21st century, particularly in the United States of America. Christofascism allows Christians, or disposes them, to impose themselves upon other religions, upon other cultures, and upon political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ. This allows the fundamentalists to establish a dubious moral superiority to justify organized violence on a massive scale, a perversion of Christianity that is at the heart of Christofascism.

George Hunsinger, director of the Centre for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, regards the conception of Christofascism as being an attack, at a very sophisticated level of theological discourse, on the biblical depiction of Jesus Christ by fundamentalists. Douglas John Hall, Professor of Christian Theology at McGill University, relates Sölle’s concept of Christofascism to Christomonism, that inevitably ends in religious triumphalism and exclusivity, noting Sölle’s observation of American fundamentalist Christianity that Christomonism easily leads to Christofascism, and that violence is never far away from militant Christomonism. He suggests that the best way to guard against this is for Christians not to neglect the humanity of Jesus Christ in favour of his divinity, and to remind themselves that Jesus was a Jewish human being.

Perhaps Soelle’s best-known work in English was “Suffering,” which offers a critique of the assumption that God is all-powerful and the cause of suffering; humans thus suffer for some greater purpose. Instead, God suffers and is powerless alongside us. Humans are to struggle together against oppression, sexism, anti-Semitism and other forms of authoritarianism.

In 1983, invited to be a main speaker at the World Council of Churches (W. C. C.) assembly in Vancouver, Soelle began her speech: “I speak to you as a woman from one of the wealthiest countries in the world–a country whose history is tainted with bloodshed and the stench of gas.” Offering the W. C. C. platform to Soelle irritated leaders of her country’s main conservative religious body, the “Evangelical Church in Germany”.

Nonetheless, after her death, Manfred Kock, the church’s current head, praised Soelle. Her teaching was no longer a “marginal stance,” said Kock. “It is a significant part of our church, preserving it from pious exclusiveness.”

Soelle died after collapsing at a workshop in Göppingen, Germany in April 2003. She was 73 years of age.solle

Hi friend,
Have you signed the pledge to repeal Prop 8?
I just did. And over 200,000 other people have signed the pledge from the Courage Campaign, CREDO Mobile, and http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://MoveOn.org  to repeal Prop 8 and restore marriage equality to California:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/RepealProp8 

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://www.couragecampaign.org%2FRepealProp8

Usually, discussions of political issues wind down after elections, but Prop 8 is not about politics. It is about love, equality and civil rights. That’s why we cannot let the passage of Prop 8 stand.
We all need to talk to our family and friends about the importance of restoring marriage equality to California.
That is why I am asking you to sign the pledge to repeal Prop 8 and to tell your friends by forwarding this message.
Thanks.

Maurizio Benazzi

Rome (NEV) – The month of January in Italy furnished two important occasions for relationships between Christians and Jews and between Italian democracy and the Jewish people. The “Day for the Jews” and the “Day of Recollection” both give disquieting signs of regression by the Church of Rome. The re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass brought with it the adoption of a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Inevitably and justifiably, the Italian rabbis decided – for the first time – to suspend their official participation in the initiative. The eve of the “Day of Recollection” the Pope took away the excommunication which had been inflicted upon the bishops of the fraternity of San Pio X, followers of Monsignor Lefebvre. Inevitably, justifiable, from all over the world voices of protest from authoritative Jews were raised, because among the four bishops rehabilitated there is one openly anti-semitic and who denies the existence of the Nazi holocaust. All this while the polemic aroused by the fact the President of the House of Representatives, honoring his institutional role, had recalled, in occasion of the 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Fascist racist laws, that they did not meet with any substantial opposition for the church and from the Italians at that time, was still very much alive. It was the pure and simple truth: it is known, and not only yesterday, that the Vatican did not object to the racist laws, from 1938 to the period of the Badoglio Government, if not for that which was held as possible violations of the Concordat pertaining to matters of marriage. A similar position has come up recently regarding the proposal of an international commitment for the defense of the right to life of homosexuals in homophobic countries: to the matter of human rights the Vatican had anticipated its concern for the safeguard of “natural” marriages. The rights of the persons pass to a second level with respect to a one sided truth that is held to be valid for everyone, at any price. If the defence of the menaced homosexuals can sound like an authorization to their “disorganized” way of life, then it is more important to affirm the “natural” order. I believe that there isn’t any doubt about the fact that the “accidents” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish people represent backward steps, disturbing signs of a return to the past. The repeated declarations of adherence to the conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate”, point 4, that marked the end of anti-Jewish positions and the start of the so-called “season of dialogue”, are not confirmed by the facts. And unfortunately it isn’t surprising that these are the facts of this papacy, that they become more and more like a planned recovery of the past, without a break, like a slow and programmatic restauration: Trent and Vatican Council I are vigorously retouched in the name of an indisputable and monolithic authoritarian continuity; the polemics against modernity, without which we would still be in the Middle Ages, is constant; ecumenism, at least with us Protestants, is stalled, because “we are not church”. History should teach us that re-igniting Christian “identitarianism”,  betting on a monolithic truth built against everything that does not bend to it and on the reaffirmation, apologetic and triumphalistic together, of an organic vision of its own history, leads inevitably to anti-semitism. It starts with the Jews, but then there’s enough for everyone. We’ll hear and see more of it.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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