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Dec 22, 2013

The Joys of the Season

Sometimes it comes as a sudden glimpse, or an
insight emerging in a thoughtful moment: 
 “Why not a simpler, more meaningful
Advent and Christmas?” 

Of course, what we’re getting is commercialization of the season -- and at record-breaking levels.
The good news: there’s a growing movement and a variety of resources and support for simplicity and sustainability. Indeed, there are deeply gratifying ways to prepare for and celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace -- outside our culture's distorted, materialistic ways.
LPF offers you a freshly updated resource on the subject:
"Reclaim the Season! Peace & Justice Living and Giving at Christmas and Throughout the Year."
It’s one of our popular ‘Peace Points’ series, geared for individual and youth or adult group use.
It offers a variety of alternative gift ideas, sources of fair trade gifts, ideas for discussion, and a great resource section with website and print materials.

Dec 16, 2013

Congressional budget compromise . . .

Most of the country seems relieved that Congress will depart from DC with a budget deal. Their recess is actually an ideal time for them to hear a holiday message from constituents who care about the gospel call for us to be justice seekers and peacemakers. 
Indeed, There is a lot to celebrate about Congress negotiating its way out of yet another painful budget standoff. But the details are pretty sobering as well. Here’s a brief summary of the budget deal: 
The plus side: It doesn't cut Social Security, Medicare, Medi- caid, etc. And it backs away from over two years of destructive actions: Fiscal cliff, debt limit, sequester, government shutdown... all very damaging to many programs -- and with the threat of default, they put both the U.S. and the global economy at risk.
On the negative side: The budget deal does nothing to reduce defense spending (or call for even the most obvious tax increases; or close tax loopholes). We are thus denied the resources needed to address the nation’s #1 priority: putting people back to work, esp. to help us take serious steps toward forstalling climate change, to expand renewable energy, to build infrastructure, to enhance rather than cut the safety net even further… 
Yet the budget deal allows unemployment benefits to expire for 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers. It leaves the sequester cuts largely in place -- which consigns most safety net programs to reduced levels and vulnerable to further cuts. The budget agreement is more a cease-fire than a solution to our budget dilemmas. 
What makes this especially unfortunate is that cutting the military budget offers a way out. It has huge programs that are wasteful. Others are unneeded in the new global security environment. A few notable programs are larger than even the Pentagon requested! This doesn’t point to thoughtful decision-making by Congress. Rather it’s evidence of the enormous influence of defense contractor lobbying. 
Our priority this month is experiencing the real meaning of Advent and Christmas. Spending time with family, congregation, and friends... 
Let’s also agree to share this information in our church groups and among friends. Let's use the Congressional recess to speak with our elected officials about bloated defense spending; and stingy levels to protect and serve the most vulnerable in our society. That's a holiday message our members of Congress need to hear!

Dec 9, 2013

Peacemakers Wanted!

In next few months we face an important set of public dis-
cussions and votes in Congress. The good news: the subject
 is both straightforward and familiar,  federal budget priorities.
  The bad news:  crucial safety net programs are again under
 threat,  while more reasonable solutions are again being
 ignored, like long overdue cuts in military spending. 

And much of the media isn’t very helpful in clarifying
even the most basic issues.  One could easily believe the
only question is deciding how much to cut Social Security. . .
or Medicare. . .  or food stamps. . .  Pres. Obama is portrayed
as a big spender; yet he has increased the deficit less than
any president in 50 years.  So what is missing here? 

Here’s how one commentator responded:  “No mention of the 
bloated ‘Defense’ budget… or the obscene tax breaks for wealthy 
people and corporations… or the Wall St. criminals who stole our 
future…  Nope, it's Grandma and her Social Security checks that 
are to blame.” (William Rivers Pitt, Truthout)  It isn’t likely we’ll
have the serious discussion we need concerning the real issues.

The ELCA, LPF, and hundreds of other faith based groups are 
calling for a “Circle of Protection” around key safety net programs 
like food stamps and WIC. We at LPF have a crucial contribution 
to make: despite big changes in the world, US defense spending 
hasn’t been reduced in ages – compared to major rivals, it is 4 
times what China and over 7 times what Russia allocate!  Cuts 
there could solve our budget problems, create more jobs, fund 
clean energy, support efforts to prevent wars… all of which 
would make us stronger and safer.  Members of Congress 
who share that view need our support; those locked in 
the status quo need our solid, sustained advocacy.

Download a copy of this advocacy update. Please contact us for more information and links on these issues:  For example, you might want to check out our newly updated computer-based activity on budget priorities which has received rave reviews from adult forum leaders across the country. It has worked equally well as a community event.  The computer activity is on our website or available from us on a CD – both have a leaders guide offering discussion options, handouts, tips. . .

Lutheran Peace Fellowship, 1710 11th Ave., Seattle 98122 206.349.2501,

December 1. 2013

This year's theme is: 

"Where we come from does not determine who we can become. What we look like places no limits on what we can achieve. We should all have the right to express ourselves, all have the right to be heard, all have the right to be what we can be: To reach for the sky and touch the stars. No matter who we are, no matter whether we are man or woman, or rich or poor:
My voice, my right. My voice counts."
—Desmond Tutu, a key figure in the defeat of apartheid in South Africa, Nobel Prize Laureate, first black Archbishop of South Africa.

In honour of Human Rights Day this year, OUP have put together a selection of human rights related content ranging from journal and books articles across several disciplines to online products content from Oxford Bibliographies and University Press Scholarship Online.

They've made select content freely available for a limited time. Browse below and start reading immediately.

UN sites:

Human Rights (UN website)

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - Human Rights Day 2013

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights.

Related sites:

Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Defence for Children International

World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

Lutheran resources:

Addressing Racism: Challenge for Peacemakers


Lutheran Human Relations Association

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Reconciling Works


ELCA Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries

Human Dignity and Human Rights

Human Rights and Family  - Journal of Lutheran Ethics - February 2009 issue

Human Rights - CSR program