From :Oklahoma Food Coop:
Press Release – for immediate use, March 4, 2013
For more information, contact Bud Scott, press liaison, at 405-445-9435, bud@okfarmandfood. Bob Waldrop may be contacted at 405-200-8155.
Oklahoma Food Cooperative holds its tenth Annual Meeting, elects Bob Waldrop as President, and Patrice Whittle and Angela Kahle-Mendoza as members of the Board of Directors. The Oklahoma Food Cooperative was the first Coop in the US to only sell local grown or made food and non-food items.
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative held its tenth annual meeting on March 2, 2013, at the historic ballroom of the Old Farmers Market building. Attended by members from across the state, the event began with a “Meet Greet and Eat” featuring coop producers offering samples and educational exhibits about their products and farms.
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is the largest local food coop in the US. The 4,500+ members can choose each month from more than 4,000 grown or made in Oklahoma food and non-food items. The Cooperative operates an online order system linked with a mostly volunteer delivery system that has 48 pickup sites around the state.
The primary business of the Meeting was to elect a new president and members of the Board of Directors. Bob Waldrop, one of the founders of the organization and its first president, was elected as president. Patrice Whittle, who operates Double R Farms in Asher, and sells beef, pork, poultry, and eggs through the Coop, was elected to a three year board position. Angela Kahle-Mendoza grows fruit and vegetables and raises chickens for eggs on a farm near Newkirk.
About the Cooperative, Waldrop says, “The Oklahoma Food Cooperative offers its members the opportunity to buy safe, healthy, and nutritious food directly from Oklahoma farmers and producers. We are a grassroots economic development program re-weaving the links that once united rural and urban Oklahomans.”
The Oklahoma Food Cooperative will participate in the Farmers’ Market District Spring Fest, set for April 21st, from 11 AM to 7 PM.
I was really pleased to learn that one my favorite Bible commentary author was a Universalist. This short essay lays out some good arguments why a literal, eternal hell is contrary to the idea of a loving God.
As a committed Christian, I knew that conversion was not going to be my choice. I celebrated with my friends as they completed their conversions, and I listened carefully when they repeated their vows before the congregation. “Of my own free will, I choose to enter the eternal Covenant between God and the people of Israel and to become a Jew. I accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and practices. Under all circumstances I will be loyal to the Jewish people and to Judaism. I promise to establish a Jewish home and to participate actively in the life of the synagogue and of the Jewish community. I commit myself to the pursuit of Torah and Jewish knowledge. If I should be blessed with children, I promise to raise them as Jews.”
I spent a lot of time contemplating these vows when fellow havurah member Susan celebrated her conversion. Susan and I had grown particularly close after we learned that we had grown up in rural Southern Illinois towns less than twenty miles from each other. We talked often about our families, our similar upbringings, and the progress of her journey toward conversion. Susan was the last woman in our group to convert, and it was disappointing to both of us that because I wasn’t Jewish I couldn’t participate in her conversion by joining her at the mikvah. But I knew that my journey could not be the same as hers as I thought about the conversion vows–I could willingly make many of the promises, but I could not promise to accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and practices. Although I could not be there physically, Susan knew when she went to the mikvah that I joined her in spirit.
I really liked this author’s description of life in her interfaith havurah (a small independent Jewish community, which seems to be very similar to the phenomenon of house churches in Christianity) but was also torn by how that the practice of Jewish conversion was one that required adherence to one faith and only one faith.
Why should it be that way? I realize that it might seem like heresy to some, but why can’t a person practice more than one faith at the same time? I’ll leave that question where is for tonight, but it is a question I will be thinking and talking about more in the future.
The very few people who out there who still read this blog know that I frequently make a resolution to change the direction of what I’m blogging about (see 1, 2, & 3)… well I guess I’m going to do it again.
My wife started writing a blog around a few months back called Our Last Homely House, which has made me long for the time when I blogged regularly. But I also am beginning to embark on some new changes in my life, so I think it is time to start blogging more regularly again.
The two changes of late are that I have began working again as a part-time pedicab driver (my third job after my part-time work as an attorney and a Mennonite minister) but also that I have begun half-time studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (through their hybrid online/in-person M.Div Program). It is these two areas of my life (cycling for hire and being a seminary student) that I will be writing out for the near future…. and one more subject, that is the joys (and frustrations) of trying to do these things while also being an engaged and joyful father to a six-year old and a husband to a woman who both delights and challenges me (in all of the best ways possible).
So, that’s the new direction. I might touch on other subjects but for the most part I want to stay focused on these areas of interest.
Important note: This blog post represents my views alone. It does not represent my employer or any organization I work with.
In the past I have written extended commentary (often with endorsements) for major elections. I must admit that I have lost much of my drive to do so in recent days, partly because of how wretchedly flawed our system seems, but also because voting in this present moment feels too much like complicity with the evil of the system.
But I also am concerned that not voting could send the wrong message to the powers that be, that I am apathetic and that I don’t care what the corporate powers do to us. Yet, I am not willing to be a cog in the machine. Despite my fears about a possible Romney presidency, I can’t get past the lies and betrays of President Obama. Gitmo still holds prisoners without having stood trial. The US is bombing even more nations (and the peoples of those nations) than was happening 4 years ago. And Bradley Manning is still in prison.
If I lived in any other state, I could vote for a third party candidate like Jill Stein (either on the ballot or through a write-in vote). I of course might be tempted to vote for the “lesser of two evils” if I lived in a swing state, but at least I would have the choice to make. In Oklahoma, we get no choice. We get two choices – D and R. No write-ins allowed either.
Based on this scenario, I feel it is imperative to use my ballot for some little bit of good. I had contemplated various symbolic actions. Two choices that I considered were: (1) refusing to leave the polling place until they let me cast a vote for a third party — and hence getting arrested, or (2) burning my ballot — also likely getting arrested, since removing a ballot from a polling place (even if to take it outside for burning) is a crime. But I have no romantic fantasies about jail. I respect those who go to jail for the sake of conscience, but I have too much work to do (and a son to take to school on Wednesday morning) to take this kind of step. A third choice would be to write in a name (likely resulting in a spoiled ballot), but I am concerned that my ballot won’t even go in the box if the machine kicks it out.
So instead, I will do something different. I’m sharing my plan because others will join me in doing the same thing…
1. On arriving at the polling place, I will state my name and address but refuse to show ID. By law, the election workers are not allowed to let me vote on a regular ballot but instead must give me a provisional ballot to vote on. If they refuse to do so, I will show them this page from the State Election board website.
2. After getting my provisional ballot (which includes a required affidavit), I will give my identifying information (so my vote will be counted), but also explain that I am doing this to force them to give me a chance to vote for the candidate of MY choice.
3. After that, I will mark my provisional ballot, writing in the name of Jill Stein (the Green Party‘s presidential candidate). I will then put my ballot in the provisional ballot envelope and then submit it to the election workers.
4. The County election board will then have to examine my provisional ballot affidavit. I’m sure they won’t count me ballot for President, but they will be forced to consider the issue personally.
I know more than a few of my friends will think this is wrong, either because I am “wasting” my vote or because it is our duty as peace-loving Americans to vote for Obama. But I think a wasted vote is a vote for someone I don’t believe in. And as for it throwing the election… let’s get real. Romney will likely get 60%+ of the vote in Oklahoma anyway.
As for my friends who say we shouldn’t vote at all… I lean this way sometimes. I still think though that if one is in the position of privilege to get to vote, then one should use that privilege to help those who have been disenfranchised.
Most importantly, we all must remember that elections are only one small part of civic engagement and activism. The real work of making the world more peaceful happens on the other 1,460 days of the 4 year presidential cycle. How we live our lives has a much bigger impact than how we vote.
I am still working out the kinks, but most of the archives of this website are now back online.
I won’t say anything else for now, but I can tell regular readers that JMBzine.com is going to be taking on some new levels of awesomeness as we near the 20th anniversary of this website (ok, it has had other names, but the roots of this website go back to 1995).
Life continues to evolve and stay interesting.
For the coming days, I’ll mostly be posting some updates about my cycling via Strava.com (an app that tracks my cycling with the gps on my phone).
Updated April 3, 2012: Fixed some grammar typos.
I have long intended to continue my previous discussion on what it is that I believe about God and about faith itself, but life got in the way of that. And it has been an interesting trip over the 18 months… I ended up reconnecting with a long-lost friend, and ended up marrying her. I also became a father (to a really cool step-son). My church situation changed in some interesting ways (my situation at my Mennonite church improved, while due to life circumstances I haven’t been as involved that much these days with the local Quaker Meeting) and finally my career has been turned upside down.
So obviously this has all factored into how I’ve come to work through issues of faith.
In many ways I have fresh new reasons to believe in a kind of God who is present and active in the world (or at least in my own life), and yet I’ve also come to see 18 more months of evidence to the contrary. The world has continued to become more brutal and cuthroat all around us. War, starvation, disease, these are things continue to ravage the world. For me, I can’t wrap my head around that. There is simply no way that the traditional Christian understanding is true, that God is truly all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful, all at the same time. It just doesn’t make sense to me. A recent example was of the school shootings in France. One report told how the gunman approached a young elementary school aged girl, pointed a gun at her head and then fired. The girl was only a few years older than my son. Surely her parents loved her just as much as my son is loved by his parents? Yet, God let this happen.
So, to me we are left with a few possibilities…
Possibility #1 – God is all-powerful and all-knowing. God sometimes steps into human history and changes things (i.e. miraculous events), but often does not. My response – So this makes God an arbitary monster, who uses humans for amusement. (the book of Job would seem to back this idea for what its worth).
Possibility #2 – God is not all-powerful and all-knowing, and does not step into human history at all. God might have created the world, but we humans are pretty much left to our own devises now. My response – Again, it seems like God is only using us for his/her amusement. We were created for some purpose but then are left on our our own to figure it out.
Possibility #3 – God does not exist. The world is random and meaningless. Humans created the idea of “God” or “Gods” to satisfy our deep longing for meaning. My response – There are days that this theory is compelling, but that there are other days that something in my heart tells me that this theory is not the truth, that there is something of the divine that is real, even if the ideas we often hold about the divine are hogwash.
Possibility #4 – Humans intuit that God exists, because God is present. But God is not a “man in the sky” but rather is force, a presence, that is all around us and in us. God doesn’t interfere with the laws of nature, but God does speak to the hearts and consciences of human beings. Good happens all around us, because God is present. Incredible good happens when human beings act in solidarity with each other and that of God at work inside them. There have been many prophets and enlightened people throughout human history, but they are simply men and women who have best connected with the divinity that is in us all. My response: Today the fourth possibility seems to be the most accurate way of understanding God, and yet, it seems incomplete too.
It feels cold and incomplete. It lacks the power of the story of the Christian scriptures, in which we see God evolve alongside the children of Israel (and later the early Christian community) to be more loving, more just and more inclusive, as time goes by. And this fourth possibility seems to demote Jesus from being God incarnate (Emanuel) to being simply, at best, another enlightened person who has connected with “that of God” in us all. Maybe this is ok, but as someone who has spent much of his life connecting with the life and story of Jesus, this somehow feels inadequate.
So that is why most days I say I have a something of a Quaker theology (or more precisely a liberal/universalist Quaker theology) but something of a Mennonite faith practice. The Quakers teach me how to connect to God and how to see God at work in the world, but the Mennonites teach me how to live like Jesus taught and lived. Neither tradition has the whole truth (at least as I understand it), but I do feel like I can encounter a lot of the truth by engaging with both traditions.
Well that is enough for tonight. There is a lot more I want to talk about but it is bed time…
This is cross-posted from the website of The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild
By James M. Branum
Chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild
February 22, 2012
Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, one of my greatest influences was the Boy Scouts. I learned some of my first lessons in civics through the Boy Scout Handbook. The Handbook told me that the United States was a different kind of nation, a nation composed of people with roots from around the world, but united by certain shared ideals — democracy and due process of law. I took that message to heart because I thought it was proven by the history I learned in school.
Later, I learned that the Handbook and History class didn’t tell the whole story. America’s history wasn’t always so noble. We as a nation have not always been on the side of “liberty and justice,” and sometimes our noble words have really been “bounced checks on the Bank of Justice” (to paraphrase Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech). But I believe that our collective failure to always live up to those ideals does not negate their value to the soul of our Union, always striving to be “more perfect.”
These ideas have been pressing on my mind lately as I think of the case of accused Wikileaks whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning.
After almost two years of delay, PFC Manning will likely be tried this summer before a US Army court-martial. While the world watches how this case unfolds, I think it will become clear that our nation is on trial too. There are two charges pending : (1) through its gross overreaction to real security threats, the US has forsaken any semblance of democracy, and (2) The US government does not respect due process of law.
If we are a democracy, which requires informed citizens, why has critical information about the wars in the Middle East been kept from us? It should not have been necessary for a private first class in the Army to allegedly leak this information in the first place. If anything, we as a nation should be thanking PFC Manning for performing this important national service.
And are we really a nation that protects due process of law, when PFC Manning’s treatment has included:
It is not too late for the US to undo this injustice, by dismissing all charges against Bradley Manning.
I urge all people of conscience to join the campaign to free Bradley Manning.