Hold It All

Month: January, 2016

Reading List

After recent correspondence with Robert MacArthur, I went back to see the books we read when he took Social Justice with me in the fall of 2005. I must say–I am glad I assigned these!

  1. Riane Eisler, The Power of Partnership
  2. Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones
  3. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
  4. James Hodge, Linda Cooper, Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of Americas
  5. Kathy Kelly, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison
  6. Chan Khong, Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam
  7. Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire
  8. Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism


Reading List

Message from Yael Who’s on Her Way to Sri Lanka

Taking Dear Layla on the road with me…for a 4th read. Salam forever, wherever.

Yael and DL


Jason Makansi  shared this post on Facebook to the Arab American Literature Public Group:

I hope members here will take a close look at a new wonderful, unique epistolary novel, Dear Layla: Welcome to Palestine by Mark Chmiel. Dear Layla glides in poetry, prose, and meditation on the intimate and intense “facts on the ground” for Palestinians in their homeland and Americans trying there to help.

This is one of so many morsels which nourished me as I read it (in one sitting, completely unplanned): “I imagine Rachel Corrie in Heaven/Squirming and stunned/Knowing that so many of us/Know her name and not the names/Of thousands of Palestinians/Slain by the same army as she.”

Mark is an activist, teacher, and peace/life mentor in St. Louis. He facilitates regular weekly meetings for folks of all ages to immerse in the issues of our times. After I read Dear Layla, I had to attend his regular meeting the next day just to give him a hug.

Out West

photo by Caroline B

Caroline Becherer

The On-going Task: Challenging Illegitimate Authority

At Northwest Coffee, I was having a conversation with Theresa Schafer about women’s ordination and clericalism, and I paraphrased what Noam Chomsky once said about any hierarchy or authority needing to justify itself.  Later, I found this passage in David Barsamian’s first collection of interviews with Noam, Chronicles of Dissent:

Any form of authority requires justification; it’s not self justified. And the justification can rarely be given. Sometimes you can give it. I think you can give an argument that you shouldn’t let a three-year old run across the street. That’s a form of authority that’s justifiable. But there aren’t many of them, and usually the effort to give a justification fails. And when we try to face it, we find that the authority is illegitimate. And any time you find a form of authority illegitimate, you ought to challenge it. Its something that conflicts with human rights and liberties. And that goes on forever. You overcome one thing and discover the next.

Theresa Schafer poem

Poem by Theresa Schafer

How To Have Fun

Mev taught me something very important: She taught me that when you go to Ted Drewes you could mix all different kinds of frozen custard flavors together. I would never have dreamed of some of the possibilities she tried. Mev loved ice cream and she loved desserts – the richer the better, the more varied the better.

—Teka Childress, 1996

Mev, Berkeley, Summer 1994

Mev Puleo (1.26.1963–1.12.1996); Berkeley; Summer 1994

Your Name Came Up (Daydream/3)

I smelled like smoke
Which is unusual for me
But I humored him
Though it wasn’t funny
To think of him dying
From the deliberate wreckage of his lungs
I hadn’t seen him in ages
I realized that we both had far more wrinkles than 1985
It was OK
I wasn’t aging gracefully
But I was aging calmly

Read the rest of this entry »


It was back in 1982
We had a guest in our theology and lit class
Ten years older than me
He’d come of age in the Sixties

Allen Ginsberg had recently been in town
Our guest kvetched about Allen:
“At the reading he was wearing a suit!”
As if that constituted a felony

In that early period of Reagan bluster
Our guest needed the old Allen
The rad Allen the Howl Allen
The Hebrew Socialist Revolution Allen

Maybe our guest didn’t know that in the Seventies
Allen had become a Buddhist
Had become convinced of impermanence
Including the impermanence of Allen Ginsberg



Western Civilization

The uprising of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto began in the spring of 1943 and lasted about twenty days. Of the thousands of Jews still in the ghetto when the uprising began perhaps a few hundred escaped alive. A greater number were killed by the blowing up of their dugouts and the sewers. But, despite the burden on every S.S. man and German police officer during the action to drive out the Jews from Warsaw–where they had once numbered a quarter of a million–the spirit of the S.S. men and the police officers, it was noted by one of their superiors, was “extraordinarily good and praiseworthy from the first day to the very last.”  

Charles Reznikoff

Israel’s Checklist for Palestinians to Reach a Settlement

Dear Bella Levenshteyn
If you read the US press
The following will strike you
As conventional wisdom


Destroy your rockets.
Quit whining.
No more stone-throwing.
Enough already of this “we’re the victim” routine.
Forget the “Nakba.”
No more arms smuggling from those tunnels.
Be nonviolent, you know, passive nonresistance.
Apologize to us for all the stuff you made us do.
Don’t let a day pass without remembering one of our children whom you murdered.
Pay us reparations for all the damages you’ve caused.
Be grateful for what we’ve allowed you.
Remember the Shoah.