Board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota along with Rep. Betty McCollum (center) at her office in St. Paul.

MN Congresswoman to share Tibet trip story with Tibetans in Minnesota

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), one of the U.S. congressional delegation members who visited Tibet early this month is scheduled to share her Tibet trip story with the Tibetans in Minnesota some time this coming January.

Briefly speaking to the board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota on Nov. 25 at her office in St. Paul, Minnesota, the U.S. congress woman said that she particularly urged the Chinese leaders not to “interfere” in the Tibetan religious tradition of reincarnations. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | An open letter to the faith community: A call to action

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40We are a nation divided.Nothing illustrates that more than the cascading protests, rallies, and ardent cries for justice in the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Those outcries and the concurrent spirit of indifference on the part of many privileged Americans tell us all we need to know about how far we still have to go before we see each other the way God would expect.Indeed, the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, painfully reminds African Americans as a community that in spite of possessing the unsurpassable worth granted by Christ, black life is without value to the broader society.While many of us expected to hear words of comfort, hope, and a renewed call for love and justice in our respective houses of worship, instead most of us encountered a resounding immoral silence. Although this silence has been most pronounced and identifiable recently, it is not new. It has been a hallmark of our hasty acceptance of a supposedly post-racial nation, and has contributed to the suffering of the most vulnerable, and “the least of these” within our society.Poor people in general suffer from limited opportunity and access to basic necessities. However, poor boys and men of color – especially African Americans – not only suffer in ways that degrade their humanity, but they are systematically excluded from equitable participation within our society, are denied access to equal opportunity, and are blamed for conditions that have been constructed to disadvantage them.These young men are often feared, viewed with suspicion, criminalized, harassed, and treated with contempt. Continue Reading

St. Paul’s Pilgrim Baptist Church celebrates 150 years

Sesquicentennial is a difficult word to say, but likely even more difficult for the founders of the Pilgrim Baptist Church to imagine back in 1863.  That’s when a group of slaves escaped from Boone County, Missouri, and headed North, traveling in the middle of the Civil War, from the heart of an area often called Little Dixie. What faced the fleeing slaves was complete uncertainty. They could not be sure of where they would end up, or what sort of welcome they might receive. In the face of this uncertainty, they called themselves pilgrims, searching for a new land.On June 22-23, the spiritual descendants of those pilgrims celebrated 150 years as a congregation in Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Continue Reading

OPINION | Welcome new (fertilized egg) citizens

No, this is not about immigration, or becoming an American citizen – the “new citizens” in this piece are the newly fertilized ovum who will become “persons” upon conception, if the advocates of “personhood” have their way. That’s right, these tiny little eggs will have all the rights, privileges, and duties of new citizens immediately conferred upon them, as proposed by organizations such as Personhood USA. And already they have had “personhood” successes.Most notably in our neighboring state of North Dakota, where they have successfully gotten personhood granted upon the first sign of a heartbeat (usually about 10 weeks); and as a person, “killing” the embryo would be a crime equivalent to murder. Consequently doctors who would violate this dictum would also be subject to prosecution and severe penalties. (Note: Roe vs. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Prendergast, the Press and Mrs Bachmann

Watchdog / blogger Bill Prendergast (Minnesota Progressive Project, Daily Kos, et. al.) unloads on Minnesota mainstream media for not reporting for a long, long time all what it has known about right winger Michele Bachmann including her ties to the very religious “Christian” right.  Most of the few who have seriously written in bewilderment about Mrs. Bachmann’s ascent though an alternate, conservative universe are aware of it all, but on the link below, Bill Pendergast, one of  Minnesota’s better scolds, gets to say it on a decent television show.  Prendergast also splashes his brand of vinegar on the  DFL and the local political blogosphere. Democratic Visions is produced by volunteers through DFL Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie and southern Minnestonka).Democratic Visions has been given a new cablecast time in Minneapolis.  Minneapolis MTN Cable Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.In Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Hopkins:  Comcast Channel 15 Sundays at 9 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.In Bloomington:  Cable Channel 16 on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m. , Saturdays at 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet. Continue Reading

Twin Cities fish fries and the power of prayer

Do you believe in the power of prayer?I have always been skeptical, but an experience I had yesterday has made me reconsider.I was sitting around thinking about the fact that my weekly deadline for my column was only 24 hours away, and I didn’t have anything to write about. This reminds me of my Jewish agnostic mother, who spent most of her teaching career at Catholic colleges. Her students would sometimes write “VMPFM” (“Virgin Mary pray for me”)  at the top of their exam papers, and she would point out to them that if they had spent a little time studying, they wouldn’t have to pray for divine help.I can’t say I was actually praying for divine intercession, but I was at least hoping something would come along to get me out of this fix. And then, it happened. An e-mail from Anthony Kaczor, with the subject line, “Come Join Our Fish Fry Group.” Coincidence? I’m not so sure. Consider that each of these fish fries takes place at a house of worship. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Fear of Muslims has gone over the top

In a recent Daily Planet story on American Muslims after 9/11, and an excellent editorial in the September 11 Star Tribune (“America paid too high a price for fear”), the writers touch on the important point that “political opportunists” have stoked unfounded fears about Islam; and fear mongering “has become  a staple of American political discourse”.  Indeed it has, and although I have written on this subject before, its resurgence at this time deserves renewed discussion and analysis.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. To start with, less than 1% of our nation’s population is Muslim, yet, we have created a startling xenophobia about the religion.  While our image of Muslims centers on bearded, turban-wearing, armed Middle Eastern zealots — most Muslims do not even live in the Middle East, and most have lives well outside this perceived image. In fact, around 62% of the world’s Muslims live in Asia, with over 683 million adherents in such countries as Indonesia(the largest Muslim country by population, home to 12.9% of the world’s Muslims). Continue Reading