Friday, November 7, 2014

There are record breakers in there


The young Korean pastor and four associates is checking out the building. He currently has four services with over 800 in attendance, three in Korean and one in English. Mainly young adult professional immigrants. The institution of the mainline church may be over, but some sectors of traditional evangelical religion are still going strong. The young pastor tells me they are more closely aligned with the PC(USA) then the more conservative break off from the old Southern church, Presbyterian Church in America. Except on social issues, he says. And I know what that means.  He also tells me that there are close to 200 Korean Presbyterian denominations. Somehow old school       Calvinsim found a receptive home in Confucian culture.

Lupe R from Dos Pueblos, our Nicaraguan solidarity/sister city program is in to work on details of Monday night’s presentation with Juan Gonzalez of the Democracy Now radio show on WBAI. The focus will be on immigration.(

It’s cold out. Someone comes in and asks for a priest named Pastor Bobby. I’m slightly annoyed but when he mentions wheelchair, I know it’s Sean. I’m not a priest and it’s Bob, I say and then go out to see Sean.

It’s been a cold and rainy all day. Still  feels raw outside. Sean is all bundled up in a hoodie. Needs to make some phone calls to his housing people. So I shiver while he uses my Iphone. I tell him I really need to get his stuff out before the holidays. He’s got some baseball cards he wants me to take a look at. Thinks they might be valuable. I doubt it. There was a day, but that market tanked long ago. He asks me to help him slowly and methodically remove the various bags hung on his chair. In the last one, he digs in and finds his cards.

I take a quick look, see mostly commons, some a bit dog eared. Don’t know Sean, maybe a penny a piece?
But there are record breakers in there, he says. So I agree to take a closer look. Inside, because I am cold. I go check them out. Mainly late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s era. Some are worth 50 cents or so, other 3 to 4 cents. I go back out to tell him. He’s got a passerby to  help reassemble his chair and bags. He carries what’s most important with him.

I give him the news. So how much total? He says.
Maybe, 20, 25 dollars. You’d have to go online. Ebay. Craig’s List. Or go to a store. Not many left any more.
So  Bob, you want to buy them?
No, man, don’t have the time. But we can keep them here for you awhile. See what shakes out.

He shakes his head, wheeling down the street. There’s record breakers in there, he says to himself.

I go get supplies for tonight’s Israel-Palestine  film festival screening. Tonight we have the documentary, The Village under the Forest.( Some of the Rev Com folks come downstairs to take a break and join us for the film. This is the first in a series of films we will show on the naqba, or catastrophe, the loss of Palestine with the creation of Israel.

The film addresses the myth of Israel’s greening of the desert.  The narrator, from South Africa, takes us to the South Africa forest in Israel, one of many, like the Canada forest, built by diaspora donations. What we discover is that these forests are built over bulldozed Palestinian villages, over 550 of which have been disappeared. In this case, it was the village Lyra.

The narrator interviews displaced people who once lived in the village. About two-thirds of the way through, our stream goes bad. We never do get it back, so we begin the discussion.

I, like many others, have certificates for the trees that have been planted in Israel in my name. Just always thought it was just a greening thing. It’s painful to know. One person explains a line from the film. When you see cactuses, you know it was a Palestinian home because they were used to mark yard boundaries. The pines are not native to Palestine and were imported because they grow fast and tall and also are an image of Europe transported to the Middle East.

Another person makes with comparisons to the situation with Native Americans, who at least got reservations. (But don’t ask what happened to Indian Territory, aka Oklahoma…)

It’s also common to what empires do, I note. For example, how the building of Central Park buried Seneca Village or the covering over of abolitionist Spring Street Presbyterian Church or the discovery of a forgotten African burial ground downtown. But like the emerging foundation stones of All Angels’ Church in Central Park, it can’t be buried forever. Sometimes the very stones will cry out.

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