Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering), featuring Thich Nhat Hanh

A Warm Embrace - The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering) from R Smittenaar on Vimeo.

This meditation video, sent to me by my father, includes the words of Vietnamese monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh, a practitioner of Buddhism and nonviolence.  As I've struggled with my own physical pain (and spiritual suffering, along the way), I've been returning to the words not only of the poets, but also of the world religions, struck by the profound struggle that each faith makes with the problem of human suffering.  Though not all the words and images of this piece speak to me, they make present a kind of slowness that much of our poetic and economic values--in our space/time hurtle--seems to belie.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Terror-Stricken: An AAWW Benefit Against Islamophobia (or, Go Ken Chen and AAWW!)

Terror-Stricken: An AAWW Benefit Against Islamophobia

featuring Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Faiza Patel, and others.
Tuesday, November 2, 6-7 pm dinner with authors, 7-9pm cocktail program.
At the home of Faiza Patel, 111 Hudson Street, Apt. 6

Nearly a decade since September 11, Islamophobia burns hotter than ever. More than sixty percent of Americans hold negative opinions of Muslims, a nativist hysteria manifested most recently in Pastor Terry Jones's bonfires for the Koran and in the protests against Park51's free exercise of religion. Join two prestigious authors--Amitava Kumar, finalist for the biggest literary prize in India, and Hari Kunzru, one of Granta's top 20 writers under 40--for a compelling discussion with Faiza Patel, Counsel in the Liberty and National Security Project at the Brennan Center for Justice.

This benefit supports The Asian American Writers' Workshop, a 21st century arts space that has done more than any other literary nonprofit to portray Asian America after 9/11. Led by an award-winning poet who litigated against the Department of Homeland Security, the Workshop has presented civil rights advocates alongside Pakistan punk rockers, connected detainment and Japanese internment, and showcased some of the brightest chroniclers of the war on terror: Moustafa Bayoumi, Rinku Sen, Amitava Kumar, Jill Magid, Hasan Elahi, and H.M. Naqvi. Invest in the future of Asian American arts and ideas and show up in your most festive attire.

Dinner with authors 6-7pm $250 (comes with AAWW membership, cocktail tickets & listing as Benefit Committee member)

Cocktails & literary discussion., 7-9pm $50 (comes with AAWW membership)

Special Cocktail Package, 7-9pm 6 tickets for $250 (comes with AAWW membership & listing as Benefit Committee member)

Benefit Committee members will be honored on the Workshop and PAGE TURNER websites, as well as the event program.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Mitigation of Toxins" by JoAnne Growney

When I'm feeling apocalyptic about the environmental catastrophes underway, inducing paralysis, I'm occasionally guilty of projecting a "silent victim" status on this robust planetary system.  It's true, we've been trashing the place, but if we'd just let it work... (Sandburg: "I am the grass.  Let me work.").  And we, to do our small part.
"Mitigation of Toxins"

A stand of poplars is a self-assembling
solar-powered pump-and-treat
ground-water protection system.
Brake ferns filter arsenic from soil;
Indian mustard drinks up lead.
Sunflowers shrink strontium levels.

........An uncommon man, an occasional woman,
........buffer the malice of others, keep
........the rest of us from tilting the world.



-JoAnne Growney
"Mitigation of Toxins" first appeared in Innisfree and may now be found in Growney's collection, Red Has No Reason, (Plain View Press, 2010).
Used by permission.

JoAnne Growney grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. After a first career in mathematics, she returned to poetry. Her most recent collection is Red Has No Reason (Plain View Press, 2010). Growney promotes math-poetry connections and climate concerns in her blog at She teaches an ongoing poetry workshop at a neighborhood wellness and recovery drop-in center.

Growney attended Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2008.

Split This Rock


Monday, October 25, 2010

Emily Dickinson's "The morns are meeker..." as performed by Adele M.

Emily Dickinson's "The morns are meeker..." as performed by Adele M, October 25, 2010.  Early Dickinson, mid-fall, early Adele.  Adele: "I guess I like Emily Dickinson, because I like history, and she's from a long time ago.  I really liked this poem.  It's pretty easy to understand.  I understood that [in this poem] everything was getting dressed up for fall, and she felt like she should get dressed up."

"The morns are meeker than they were..." by Emily Dickinson (poem 12)

The morns are meeker than they were—
The nuts are getting brown—
The berry's cheek is plumper—
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf—
The field a scarlet gown—
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

Thomas Merton on becoming the poet that you were meant to become (note to self)

Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives.

They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint...

They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else's experiences or write somebody else's poems.

There is intense egoism in following everybody else.  People are in a hurry to magnify themselves by imitating what is popular--and too lazy to think of anything better.

--Thomas Merton

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mark Doty's "Charlie Howard's Descent"

Let's stand with our brothers and sisters, wherever they are intimidated, brutalized, and broken by the hatred of others.

Split This Rock mourns the gay and lesbian young people who committed suicide in the past weeks: Justin Aaberg, Asher Brown, Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Aiyisha Hassan, Billy Lucas, and Seth Walsh. Their deaths demonstrate again the power of words. Words can destroy.

But they can also restore, give hope, remind us of our common humanity. We are privileged to be able to share with you this week Mark Doty's poem "Charlie Howard's Descent," which he read so movingly at the inaugural Split This Rock Poetry Festival in 2008. Charlie Howard's murder took place in 1984. Sadly, we still need this poem now more than ever. Please send it to everyone you know as a call for an end to hate, an end to bullying, a call for a full and rich life for every precious young person.

In peace and poetry,

Split This Rock

"Charlie Howard's Descent"

Between the bridge and the river
he falls through
a huge portion of night;
it is not as if falling

is something new. Over and over
he slipped into the gulf
between what he knew and how
he was known. What others wanted

opened like an abyss: the laughing
stock-clerks at the grocery, women
at the luncheonette amused by his gestures.
What could he do, live

with one hand tied
behind his back? So he began to fall
into the star-faced section
of night between the trestle

and the water because he could not meet
a little town's demands,
and his earrings shone and his wrists
were as limp as they were.

I imagine he took the insults in
and made of them a place to live;
we learn to use the names
because they are there,

familiar furniture: faggot
was the bed he slept in, hard
and white, but simple somehow,
queer something sharp

but finally useful, a tool,
all the jokes a chair,
stiff-backed to keep the spine straight,
a table, a lamp. And because

he's fallen for twenty-three years,
despite whatever awkwardness
his flailing arms and legs assume
he is beautiful

and like any good diver
has only an edge of fear
he transforms into grace.
Or else he is not afraid,

and in this way climbs back
up the ladder of his fall,
out of the river into the arms
of the three teenage boys

who hurled him from the edge -
really boys now, afraid,
their fathers' cars shivering behind them,
headlights on - and tells them

it's all right, that he knows
they didn't believe him
when he said he couldn't swim,
and blesses his killers

in the way that only the dead
can afford to forgive.

- Mark Doty
Used by permission.

Mark Doty's FIRE TO FIRE: New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award for poetry. He teaches at Rutgers University, and lives in New York City.

Doty was featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2008, when he read "Charlie Howard's Descent." You can watch video of that reading here.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock;

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Illegal Borders" by Sonja de Vries

"Illegal Borders"

a scar starting below his
cheekbone ran down the length
of his face like a road map,
disappeared under his
chin and into his uniform
and my mouth - treacherous
flesh - wanted to kiss the top
of his scar, follow it down,
unbutton his starched shirt to see
where it would lead, but my mind -
that loyal sergeant -
kept me walking, passport open,
my lips moving in prayer.

-Sonja de Vries

Used by permission.

Sonja de Vries is a Kentucky-born writer, filmmaker, and queer social justice activist. She believes that art is integral to creating a deep and lasting transformation of society. She was raised by a powerful radical, activist mother and grandmother. The poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Nazim Hikmet, Gabriela Mistral and others formed her consciousness and continue to inspire her. De Vries's first book Planting A Garden In Baghdad will be released by Finishing Line Press in January 2011.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

Monday, October 11, 2010

Franz Wright's "Why is the Winter Light": Poetry as Prayer

This is courtesy of Panhala, which daily posts what I can only describe as inspirational poems--poems of inbreathing, of spiritus.  As I've been trying to write my own prayer poems, I'm amazed how Franz Wright has so thoroughly, so unabashedly, dived into the rhetoric of prayer, at a time when so many poets and poems are allergic not only to the authenticity mode, but also to any wider claims of voice, of the transcendent, of belief.  As in great religious poetry, we feel the struggle, the wound, and also how the wound becomes the site of grace--what Leonard Cohen sang: "there is a crack in everything/that's how the light gets in."

"Why is the Winter Light"

Why is the winter light
disturbing, and who
if anyone shares this impression?
If somebody enters the room
am I going to stop being afraid?
Why am I afraid
to go grocery shopping?
I suppose there is a pill for that, but
why? Surrounded by so vast
a cloud of witnesses
why do I feel this alone
in the first place? Is heaven a place
and if so, will our poor
hairy speechless forebears-
all millions of years of them-
be there to greet us
if and when we arrive? The meek
shall inherit Auschwitz, too,
if they're not careful. Where do such obscenities
of thought originate? And are the words
we speak being mercilessly recorded, or
are we speaking the already written
premeditated words? Why
do I want to live
forever, and the next day
fervently wish I had died
when I was young? Why do I abruptly feel blessed?
And if (and it does) this city harbors
a single individual suffering
unendurably, am I
prepared to take his place?


Empty me of the bitterness and disappointment of being nothing but
Immerse me in the mystery of reality
Fill me with love for the truly afflicted
that hopeless love, if need be
make me one of them again --
Awaken me to the reality of this place
and from the longed-for or remembered place
And more than thus, behind each face
induct, oh introduce me in --
to the halting disturbed ungrammatical soundless
words of others' thoughts
not the drivel coming out of our mouths
Blot me out, fill me with nothing but consciousness
of the holiness, the meaning
of these unseeable, all
these unvisitable worlds which surround me:
others' actual thoughts -- everything
I can't perceive yet
know it is there.

~ Franz Wright ~
(God's Silence)

Friday, October 8, 2010

My chapbook *Instants* (2006) now released in electronic format

Instants, my chapbook from Ugly Duckling Presse (2006), has now been released in electronic format. 

A series of snapshot poems inspired by the life and work of the eccentric photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who murdered his wife's lover, then went on to become one of the pioneers of motion photography and the grandfather of cinema.  Handmade by members of the Ugly Duckling collective, the cover image, folded in two, echoes Breughel's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" and the larger split/subject that the serial poem dramatizes.  Plus, it's a flip-book as well.

Ted Leo's "The Mighty Sparrow" and my "Along the Shrapnel Edge of Maps"

I've been listening to Ted Leo's new CD, "The Brutalist Bricks," obsessively for a week, and can't believe how he has done it again.  He takes all of punk and post-punk--the Clash, Fugazi, Billy Bragg, etc.--and puts it in the blender of politics and love and serves it up with a side dose of speed. 

I'm struck by the first song, "The Mighty Sparrow"--perhaps a nod to the well-known Calypso singer--which is the first person account of someone in a cafe explosion, who comes back to himself in the moments after the bomb, noticing some bird, some little image of the soul in flight, the soul in song.  How can we hold onto the beautiful in a world where people are willing to blow everything to heaven? 

I was shocked by the persistence of a few motifs that appeared in a poem I wrote a few years ago, from "Along the Shrapnel Edge of Maps," which appeared in Field.  The description of concussion, the image of a beloved face, the lack of sound--all are not that surprising, but the weird clocks that appear at the end--man's mastery of time, versus the bird song?    

when the cafe doors exploded

i reacted too, reacted to you
reacted to you

cast into the sunny morning
i was coming too, but now i'm
coming to, but now i'm coming to,

papers in the wind a-waltzing,
i was dancing too, my mind danced to you,
lifted up on wings of strangers, saw a face and knew,
then i saw you red white and bruised
silent for a moment, then singing
i thought i could hear, singing turned
to sirens as ringing returned to my ears
and the sirens called me back to there
miserable rock, while you're following
the sparrow, i can only follow the clock
Here's my poem, which takes a polyvocal look at a cafe bombing (from the bomber's point of view, from a cafe owner, from a cafe worker, from an angry unnamed bystander, and from someone far away but connected nonetheless--who experiences the metaphorical explosion of realization.  I only wish my poem could rock your brain as hard as Ted Leo rocks my body and soul...
from "Along the Shrapnel Edge of Maps" by Philip Metres (first published in Field)

To lift my arms as if in praise / when they strap it on beneath
my shirt, to feel the ice-cold shell / against my chest, its promised

hatching into blood-heat. To imagine myself already
dead, yet buoy in the wash / of capillaries pulsing like web,

every strand tensile, agleam. To tread the streets now paved
over my father’s house, & to be held / up at the checkpoint

between my village & what’s left / of our groves of lemon
& olive—razor-wired & identity card. To believe that

this will stanch his wound, this mad algebra dividing
all numbers back to one, the columns on each side

of the equal sign equal again, if I can walk into a stranger’s café
&, in a sudden illumination, / join shard to skin, flesh

to flesh, we will wake / from a nightmare, unhooked
from the wall like a clock / that needs to be wound again.


First, the sudden deaf as in a dream, people & their mouths
open & moving not sounding out. Plaster & glass dress.

Frame of the face frozen in. & you running. In place.
This was your store, your plate / glass, your café, turned in

-side out. What is tumble & shard. You see your mouth
before you hear it, all of the wax of the explosion now unplugged

& bleeding. Smoke the mouth of the door. Everything now
shaken, the salt of plaster & blood-shivers of sliver no time

to make any of this anything but the rubble of the human.
& where is she, the one I loved, who served everyone—

That is not her leg. Bloodslick & shatter. Is there nothing,
no clock alarming us out of this dream? I’m standing

in someone else’s brain. Flesh of. My place, not my flesh.
My love, I have no mouth to kiss your chosen face.


My job was to disappear. To follow orders in another
hard tongue, & hold my own. My job: to clear

the tables of the leavings, to harvest the crumbs,
to shoot the plates with so much scalding water

I could see my unshaven face in them. To plumb
the overflowing toilet, that constant fountain

of other people’s shit, I had to breathe through
my mouth, & curse. I couldn’t help myself

to what others could not eat—it was not my own,
it lingered against their mouths, who cursed the wealth

of my slowness, or did not hear their call, or heard
their hidden distaste. So when he sat down,

his eyes darting, I knew this was my chance
to choose my fate, to end my disappearance—


It’s because I wanted it to happen. Longed & waited.
Let there be flash & flood, I said, let there be black

& acrid / choking lungs. I said, yes, send
rivulets of blood, plaster in the scalp, democratic,

& dark hovering over the surfaces of everything.
Let there be klieg lights & sudden cameramen & lens

& cordons policing the scene, the secular expanse
of a café now sacred by blood. & let us sing

this memorial to the lost, this blessed loneliness—
let there be blood to remind our people who we are

& what we have suffered at the gloves of our oppressor,
those long & desolate years, our lips probing a font

from a rock. To remember that this is nothing if not war,
& in this tide of blood we all get what we want.


In the other room I heard you asking your mother:
“am I a Palestinian?” When she answered: “yes,”

a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was
as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise

exploding, then—silence. Afterwards, I heard you crying.
I could not move. There was something bigger

being born in the other room. As if a blessed scalpel
was cutting your chest & putting there the heart

that belongs to you. I was unable to move, to see
what was happening. A distant homeland born again: hills,

plains, olive groves, the dead, torn flags, all cutting their way
into a future of flesh & blood. Man is born suddenly—a word,

in a moment, begins a new throb. One scene can hurl
him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the rugged road.

Thanks to Field: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics for continuing to publish challenging and thoughtful poetry, including this one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jeff Gundy's "A Day at the Pond Without Geese"

Jeff Gundy's wily poems have the echoes of the ancient Chinese poets, who were living in their own empire--full of taut observations of the natural world, of the world of human desire, and of the worlds outside the safer worlds of the poet's "pond without geese."
A Day at the Pond Without Geese

A good day for late wildflowers--daisies and burrs
leaned out into the path for a better view, brilliant

blue somethings with tiny blooms on tall stalks.
A good day for a young dog's yapping, the splish

of a muskrat, thin gold of poplar leaves screening
the low sun. At the end of a lush summer, not much

has changed. The latest suicide bomber was nearly
done with law school. The enemy shot her brother.

Afterwards her head was found on the floor
of the restaurant in Haifa, black hair still flowing.

Like most men in such times, I want to give advice.
The pond is pretty in its small way, trees still green,

a bank of cattails, water echoing blurry greens and sky,
for once no geese to harry and complicate things.

Two quiet wrens, that dog yelping stupidly,
and a crow way off to the east. Like most men,

I think I'm smarter than most men. I dream of women
even when I'm awake. If I sit long enough, the trees

or the water will surely tell me something. A woman
passes, explaining to her cell phone as she walks.

As far as I can see, everything is calm as Eden.
Her black hair, flowing like the night.

- Jeff Gundy
From Spoken among the Trees (Akron, 2007).
Used by permission.

Jeff Gundy's eight books of poetry and prose include Spoken among the Trees (Akron, 2007), Deerflies (WordTech Editions, 2004), and Scattering Point: The World in a Mennonite Eye (SUNY, 2003). He teaches at Bluffton University, and was a 2008 Fulbright lecturer in American Studies at the University of Salzburg.

Gundy appeared on the panel "The Peace Shelves: Essential Books and Poems for the 21st Century" during Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Speaking Out Against U.S. Military Drones" by John Dear

Tim Musser has passed along that John Dear will be speaking at Rivers Edge [3430 Rocky River Drive - Cleveland] this Monday Oct 4th - which is the feast day of St Francis. Pax Christi Cleveland is also celebrating is 20th year this October so ase join us. John's lecture is entitled: "Francis, the Beatitudes, and the Gospel of Non-Violence."

John Dear, SJ
October 4, 7-8:30pm Fee $25
Please register by calling 216.688.1111 - and please carpool if possible.

Below is a recent NCR piece by John Dear about the "Creech 14" action to protest the use of military drones.  Having recently read Wired for War, I've been thinking a lot about how technological capabilities to outsource death via robotics extend the battlespace, and implicates all of us.  There are men outside Las Vegas piloting drones that assassinate people in Afghanistan; this has transformed the ways in which the formerly sacrosanct boundaries between military and civilian have been collapsed.

"Speaking out against US military drones"
By John Dear SJ
Sep. 28, 2010

On Sept. 14, thirteen others and I -- known together as the "Creech 14" -- went on trial in Las Vegas, Nev., for an action we committed in April 2009 at Creech Air Force Base to protest the U.S. military's use of unmanned drones in combat abroad.

The night before the trial the University of Nevada at Las Vegas Law School hosted an evening panel discussion on the use of the drones. Much to our surprise a large crowd turned out, including many law students and faculty, to hear from our all-star speakers. The speakers were invited by the Nevada Desert Experience -- a local organization which questions the U.S. nuclear weapons system -- to testify about the drones.

The panel featured Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General; Bill Quigley, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Ann Wright, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army and retired U.S. State Department diplomat; and Kathy Kelly, director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and one of our co-defendants. All four of them also spoke at our trial the next day.

Kathy Kelly began her talk at the law school by reflecting on her recent visit to Pakistan, where she met survivors of a U.S. drone attack. Those survivors had told her ghastly stories of people being blown up around them. "Do people in your country know that your government is using these drones to kill us?" the survivors asked her.

"Last week in Afghanistan a drone bombed and killed six children who were rummaging through fields for food. A recent drone bombing raid may have killed as many as 125 civilians," Kelly said.

Under U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, we know the U.S. specifically targeted civilians for assassinations, Kelly added.

The Army's goal is to eradicate Al Qaeda -- by using the same methods of Al Qaeda. Yet according to National Security Agency Director Keith B. Alexander, there are only 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. According to CIA Director Leon Penetta there are only 50 Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan.

Kelly asked: So why are there so many U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan? Imagine the cost for having one U.S. soldier there, when every single day, 850 children die of hunger and related illnesses in Afghanistan, she added.

"The drones protect our military, most people think," Wright said at the beginning of her talk. "But what does the drone program do when we implement it -- not only to the people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, but to those who operate it? The Creech Air Force Base operators see the killings that occur when they bomb, and are psychologically damaged."

The subway system in Washington, D.C., Wright said, is full of advertising posters for General Atomics, one of the leading manufacturers of the drones. The caption under the photos of the drones used in each poster reads: "These make you feel safe."

"But how are drones different from B-52 or F-16 planes or cruise missiles?" Wright asked. "We should be debating the morality of all our weapons. But we are escalating the number of undeclared wars and the weapons themselves. And what other countries are getting drones from us? To whom will they then sell our drones? Israel recently sold 10 drones to Turkey and 14 to Brazil. This technology will inevitably come back and bite us."

"What we are talking about is assassination," Clark said at the beginning of his talk. "I know about assassination."

Clark then spoke movingly of his work in the U.S. Justice Department and as U.S. Attorney General while remembering the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy.

"The drones are extra-judicial executions," Clark continued. "And they're hardly precise…. This technology can destroy us. There is something singularly dangerous about using technology to assassinate. We should only use technology if it is for the good of children."

"How far do we want this technology to go?" Clark asked. "We will soon have the capacity to kill anyone wherever they are anywhere in the world. We have to stand up and say 'No' to these drones. These killings are criminal. And the ethical implication of this program is that we are condoning assassination, pure and simple. We are paying for and supporting assassination with our tax money.

"With all the suffering in the world, do we have nothing better to do than to assassinate people? We should get out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. We should stop killing these people, help them, tell them we love them.

"I've never seen the political environment so chaotic, the people so angry, the future so uncertain. But the issues are crystal clear. There is no good war. We have to prevent war and reduce the U.S. military budget by 90 percent if there is ever to be peace on earth."

Bill Quigley spoke of two recent scholarly studies on the impact of U.S. military drones. One report said at least one third of the people who are killed by our drones are innocent civilians. The second claims that nine out of every 10 people killed by drones are civilians.

Last month, a Pakistani newspaper reported that for the first seven months of this year, 50 U.S. drone attacks killed 13 Al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked people and 476 innocent civilians. Only 13 of the 50 strikes actually hit their "targets." Bob Woodward's new book Obama's Wars reports that our drones have killed "many" from the global west, even U.S. citizens.

"Where are the checks and balances on these drones?" Quigley asked. "There are none. There is no prosecution, no indictment, no trial, no sentencing. The executive branch has decided that any person at any time can be annihilated. We have a responsibility to check our technology and our military so that human rights are respected."

"Will we allow other countries to use drones against us?" Quigley asked. "Would we be allowed to use drones elsewhere? We wouldn't be allowed to use them on China or Russia. It's a violation of law, of morality, of basic fairness -- that we treat others the way we would expect to be treated."

"Both Clinton and Bush used drones," Quigley noted, "but Obama has radically increased the number of drones. The issue of the drones is not about Democrats or Republicans. It is a human rights issue, a legal issue, a moral issue. No U.S. court has decided on the legality of targeted killing by drones. We have the right to live in safety; that's a legitimate quest. But these drones are used in so-called 'anticipatory self defense,' against people who might someday participate with a group who might use violence. This is unethical.

"Even if you believe in the war in Afghanistan, why are we using drones in Pakistan? In Yemen? Why use the drones in places outside of the countries where we are at war?

"The U.S. claims it uses drones to kill drug dealers in Pakistan. Are we under threat from drug dealers in Pakistan? Then we have given a blank check to our government to kill anyone anywhere at any time and they don't have to give any explanation for it."

I was saddened to learn while lecturing and leading a retreat in Nova Scotia these past few days that the drones have even come to eastern Canada. It was heartening to reflect together with church friends about the nonviolent Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount and his great commandments: "Offer no violent resistance to one who does evil" and "love your enemies that you may be children of your heavenly God."

When we place the Gospel teachings in the context of our wars, nuclear weapons, and drone attacks it is clear that the God of peace calls us to stop the killings.

I hope that people of peace everywhere will rise up against the drones, vigil against them, and call for their dismantling and an end to drone warfare. The God of peace does not want us to fill the blue skies with these so-called unmanned aerial vehicles that bomb and kill our sisters and brothers.

"The greatest threat to life on this planet is our own country," Clark concluded that night in Las Vegas. "We've got a lot of work to do and time is short."