Christian Peacemaker Teams at their biennial retreat in Quito, Ecuador at the beginning of September. We are straddling the purported divide of the Northern and Southern hemisphere. I am on far left in the goofy hat.
Dear Friends, Family and Other Interested Parties,
I have not written a holiday letter for two years. In 2012, I was just coming out of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month during which I completed my third novel. CPT had given me a sabbatical to do so, and I think all I had to say was, “I just wrote this novel and it came from this amazing, spiritual mystical place and I’m not sure what to say about it yet.”
Also, my sabbatical, which had begun in September, had not quite gone as planned. All the massive organizing I planned to do in the house and garden was not getting accomplished. My mother’s declining health was taking a lot of time, and I guess I just didn’t want to write about any of it.
Last year, CPT’s Palestine team did a three year planning session in October, so I worked the month of October, came home for six weeks and then went back December through February and I just wasn’t able to squeeze in the time.
So…hi everyone! 2014 has also been a busy year for me. I have taken over the CPT Twitter account and we have gained 1000 followers since I have done so. Twitter is a major timesuck, however. It’s very easy (and important) just to take a few minutes to check the feed to see what’s happening among the Palestine, Indigenous, Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, Refugee rights, anti-racism activists/NGOs the account follows and then you follow an important topic and next thing you know… The same is true with Facebook. Many people would envy me having a job where checking Twitter and Facebook is part of the work, but it does require some discipline.
On the writing front, I got really good input from Beta readers this year for my novel, current working title, The Price We Paid. Here are the first 2 paragraphs of the letter I’ve been sending to agents:
In THE PRICE WE PAID, political dissident and philandering husband Islam “Iz” Goldberg-Jones describes how he, his wife, Shea Weber, and other members of the resistance brought down the totalitarian Christian Republic that ruled the U.S. from 2049-2086. While in power, the Christian Republic shredded the Bill of Rights by targeting dissident and minority communities (e.g., LGBTQ, Muslim and Chinese-Americans) with imprisonment, torture, and mass executions. It put the children of these communities into a vast group home system run by the Department of Christian Affairs (DCA).
Now, after three decades of incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Goldberg-Jones has become a cause célèbre. He is trading on his notoriety to publish a scrupulously honest memoir that includes the pain his infidelities caused his wife, who was famous for writing sentimental literature about children she was raising in the foster home she ran as an alternative to DCA homes. She channeled this pain into speaking out against the Christian Republic’s abuses of power, which turned her into an outlaw and an icon for the movement that toppled the government.
What I haven’t been telling most agents is that the novel is also a retelling of the narrative of the prophet Hosea and Gomer the prostitute. Because it came from a place of such deep spiritual inspiration, the fact that I have only aroused slight interest here and there in the publishing world I think led to a depression this spring, which I have been coming out of in the last couple months. I have been telling myself that most people are glad to have deep spiritual inspiration without getting it published, why can’t I? But anyway, I have a few more venues I am trying and I have started on my fourth, which I am afraid will just as awkwardly straddle the religious/secular divide. The Spirit does not send me marketable fiction, I am afraid.
For other writing I did this year, check out my blog: KathleenKern.net (I am not all that regular, so it’s not a huge amount of material.)
Michael and I have been working this year on the campaign to free Jalil Muntaqim, one of the 25 or so FBI COINTELPRO prisoners who still remain in jail despite the highly irregular legal processes that put them there in the 1960s and 70s. I have several pieces on my blog about his situation. We will be traveling to Palestine/Israel together on December 17 and traveling around Israel with our friend Peter Eisenstadt to visit with Michael’s friends before I join the Palestine team in January. Michael’s son Aldo has a new Malamute named Bailey. David Mark is finishing up basic training with the Ohio National Guard before he returns to Ohio State and Beth Melissa is doing five months of internship with a business in Israel. We are looking forward to seeing her in a couple weeks when Michael and I travel to Israel together to visit friends. He will return home at the end of the month and I will work with the Palestine team until mid-February.
My siblings and I have weekly Skype calls with my mother, Marilyn Kern. The staff at Betty House in Bluffton, frequently tell us. “We love Marilyn!” The Parkinson’s and the dementia make her response time slow during our conversations, but she still laughs a lot.
On our teams this year, the Iraqi Kurdistan team has been trying to support its partners, who tabled a lot of the work they were doing to support human rights in the Kurdish Regional Governate in order to address the enormous inflow of refugees fleeing ISIS and joining the million refugees from the Syrian War already in the KRG. The Colombia team continues to accompany small communities struggling nonviolently to remain on their land while powerful corporate and criminal interests try to drive them off. In Palestine, the team continues to monitor the Israeli military checkpoints through which Palestinian teachers and must cross through in order to get to school and support our Palestinian and Israeli partners who continue to find ways of mounting nonviolent resistance to the increasingly brutal and inhumane Israeli military occupation. Our Aboriginal Justice team was actively involved with the Elsipogtog First Nation’s anti-fracking resistance this year, and continues to walk with Grassy Narrows First Nation, which, undeterred by the Canadian Supreme Court decision allowing logging on their traditional lands, continues to assert their sovereignty. Christian Peacemaker Teams Europe opened its first project this year on the Greek island of Lesvos, partnering with other NGOs to address the problem of desperate migrants and refugees who are drowning by the thousands in the Mediterranean because of European Union immigration policies. Their Welcome Center at Pipka proved that treating refugees humanely was far more efficient and less costly than the way the Greek Coast Guard was treating them.
We have just finished Giving Tuesday, and our pitch was that 365 people chipping in $55 supports a CPTer in the field for a year. Also pretty cost efficient, huh! You can donate here: http://www.cpt.org/participate/donate or send checks to CPT/PO Box 6508/Chicago, IL 60680
Since so many of you are on Facebook, I will be posting this letter there this year. Those of you, who do not have Facebook accounts, or who do not use your Facebook accounts may be receiving this letter with an odd card. I am creating space in my card drawer.
I wish you all a meaningful and hopeful holiday season,