When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Transform Now Plowshares: A Trumpet Call to All of Us

by Bill "Bix" Bichsel, SJ

On July 28, 2012, Sr. Megan Rice, shcj, 84yrs, Michael Walli, 64yrs, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59yrs hiked a ridge and cut through four fences to reach the new U.S. storehouse for Highly Enriched Uranium, which is needed for the production of thermonuclear weapons. These weapons, used to threaten other nations, are in violation of the U.S. Principles of Nuremberg (U.S. Law), in which citizens are directed to resist illegal acts by their government. The refurbishing of the weapons is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which the U.S. pledges complete nuclear disarmament.

(l to r): Michael, Megan and Greg (artwork by The Washington Post)
They name their lawful act of resistance: Transform Now Plowshares Action, following Isaiah’s injunction, “They shall hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” With faith in following the non-violent Jesus, they poured their blood, painted words of justice and hammered on the walls of the HEU Building.

They were convicted of sabotage (threatening the security of the U.S.) and depredation of government property and were sent directly into jail as terrorists to await sentencing (which took place ten months later). They were charged with $52,000 of damage- mostly to the fences. One of the attendees of the trial drew a parallel, “Would anyone let fences surrounding Auschwitz stand? Much less should we let fences guarding nuclear weapons stand.”

Sr. Megan Rice was given 35 months imprisonment, both Michael and Greg were given 62 months. Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa, editors of the “Nuclear Resister” stated: “As the Hibakusha (survivors of the terror from Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings)”; so do Megan, Michael and Greg offer their lives to prevent similar massacre.

Ralph Hutchinson, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, stated: “Though their bodies are in prison, their voices are free reminding us that the central issue of this action and trial have not been resolved- as long as the government continues to produce thermal nuclear weapons of mass-destruction in Oak Ridge or anywhere, people are required to resist.”

Lynne Greenwald of the ‘Disarm Now Plowshares Action’ (DNPA) at Bangor in 2009 reminds us that the day of this sentencing is the same day, Feb 18th, as the sentencing to death (by guillotine) of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and six other members of the White Rose Resistance to Nazi Germany’s fascism in 1943 and also the day in 1985 when Lynne and six activists carrying white roses sat on the tracks leading into the Bangor Naval Base blocking the white train carrying nuclear weapons into the base.

Sr. Megan Rice who has spent her life living among and teaching the urban poor of our country and Western Africa, while also resisting U.S. militarism for the last 25 years, when questioned by Judge Thapars: “Do you have any regrets?”, responded: “Only for not starting 70 years earlier.”

Greg Boertje-Obed has been most faithful in his quiet powerful witness against all weapons through many selfless actions of resistance. He has been separated from his wife and daughter for ten years.

Michael Walli is a Vietnam Vet who received a bronze star. After the service his life changed to caring for the homeless and marginalized people in a number of our cities. At the sentencing he asked Judge Thapar to look at his face and see the face of the future~ the many who will follow in resistance.

Fr. Steve Kelly, sj, another member DNPA (Nov-2009) said that the judge’s sentence gave great help to the U.S. in its efforts to categorize peace activists and whistle blowers as terrorists. The guilty verdict is meant to instill fear in the citizens. In contrast to this, Jesus says to Megan, Michael, and Greg: “Be Not Afraid.”

Fr. Bill Bichsel, sj, also of DNPA says that the possibility of redress of grievances, from any of our branches of government, is blocked. The heroic action and subsequent sentencing of the three is a trumpet call to all of us.


Bix lives and works at the Tacoma Catholic Worker

Saturday, February 1, 2014

John Dear speaking on "The Nonviolent Life" in Seattle on March 16th


NOTE: Click here to see the video from John Dear's talk in Seattle.  It was a wonderful evening!!!

A Talk and Book-Signing with Activist, Author and 
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Fr. John Dear 

7:00 PM, Sunday, March 16, 2014 

University Temple United Methodist Church 

(Free Parking in University of Washington Bookstore Lot across the street from the church)

"How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?"

These are the questions John Dear--Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author and long time peace activist--poses in his new book, The Nonviolent Life. John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. Come hear John discuss his vision of nonviolence, and meet him and get a signed copy of the book.

John Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is a popular speaker, peacemaker, organizer, lecturer, retreat leader, and the author/editor of 30 books. He has organized and participated in nonviolent campaigns for over three decades; been arrested some 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war and injustice; and spent nearly a year of his life in jail for peace. Recently, John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He works with www.paceebene.org, and writes for the National Catholic Reporter at www.ncronline.org. For further information, see www.fatherjohndear.org.

“John Dear has walked where holy words lead: to a high mountain of instruction, into the desert of forty days, into the garden of anguish. He has poured his blood on nuclear weaponry and has paid up in kangaroo courts and unspeakable jails. He has trekked about the world bearing the gospel in hand and heart, a wing-shod messenger of peace. He has lived in solidarity with the wretched of the earth--whose plight, as he well knows, is the mean feat of abominable economics and killer instincts on rampage. In this century, in this land, cleft in fragments of gigantic disorder, what a witness!”--Daniel Berrigan, author of To Dwell In Peace, The Dark Night of Resistance, Isaiah, and No Bars to Manhood

“Some teachers are all theory and some are all practice. John Dear has earned ability to be both. Some teachers are very orthodox and some open new ground. John Dear puts the two together knowing they are the same.”--Richard Rohr, author of Falling Upward

“John Dear has been arrested in the cause of peace and human decency more times than anyone else I know. I am honored to consider him a friend.”--Joan Baez, folksinger and author of And a Voice to Sing With

“To take care of each other should be our primary concern in this twenty-first century, and John Dear is steady on this course.”--Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist leader and bestselling author of Peace Is Every Step

“How John Dear arrived at such an enviable level of moral and physical courage—reflected in numerous acts of civil disobedience, carried out with disarming nonviolence and joy, and often met with harsh consequences—is simply astonishing. Even more astonishing is that his life’s commitment to peace and justice appears instinctive, springing from an unfathomable source. Surely it is a reflection of John’s deep spirituality.”--Martin Sheen, actor and activist

Free will offering

Co-Sponsors (list in development):
  • Church Council of Greater Seattle 
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation, Seattle Chapter 
  • Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action  
  • Our Lady of the Lake Justice & Peace Committee 
  • University Temple United Methodist Church ·
  • Wedgwood Justice & Peace Coalition
For more information about the evening, contact Lorraine Hartmann: 206-367-1518; lorrainehartmann@comcast.net. Learn more about John at his website, fatherjohndear.org.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Support Nuclear Emergency Training for Students!

Dear friends,

Major man-made or natural disasters are often followed by deep chaos. The more knowledgeable we all are in how to deal with those disasters, the more capable we will be of saving lives and communities. That education should begin in our school in the hopes that younger generations can build a safer and stronger society.

That's why I created a petition to the Tacoma School Board.

Will you sign this petition? Click here!

Here are some other ways you can help spread the word:

  • Join us at the February 13th Tacoma School Board meeting at 6pm in the Central Administration Building (601 South 8th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405)
  • Share the petition on Facebook
  • Send an email to your contacts
  • Talk about it in person with your friends and families
  • Connect us to Tacoma High School students interested in this issue (see details below for high schooler opportunities) Send a letter to the editor: http://signon.org/tools/lte.html
  • We'd like to have the petition delivered to the Tacoma School Board by Tacoma high school students. If you know of any high schools students in the Tacoma area that would be interested in this issue, please either send me their contact info or have them email me at bix.tacoma@gmail.com. The School Board will be meeting February 13th at 6pm at the Central Administration Building (601 South 8th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405).

It is so necessary that our youth be involved in understanding and working to resolve potential dangers in a world that they will inherit.

I hope you will help us make this training a reality.


Bix, aka William "Bix" Bichsel, SJ


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shared Eucharist at the Bangor Trident Base on MLK's Birthday

Fr. William "Bix" Bichsel of the Tacoma Catholic Worker invited people of all faiths to join together in a shared Eucharist at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, January 15, 2014. 38 people from different faith traditions met at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and then walked down to the Bangor base for the Eucharist at noon.

The Eucharist honored Dr. King's memory, and served to bear witness against nuclear weapons and war, and to stand in solidarity with the people of Jeju Island in their struggle to stop construction of the Naval base that threatens their "Island of Peace."

Click on the image below and in the new window click "Full Screen" (in the upper left corner) to watch the full-screen version.

Click here to view the individual photos in the album.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Join shared Eucharist at Bangor base on January 15th

Please join us at the Bangor Naval base on January 15th as we gather to celebrate together in Eucharistic Resistance to Dr. King’s triple evils of Racism, Materialism and Militarism.

All are welcome to this shared celebration of the Eucharist on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at the Main Gate of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific in Silverdale, Kitsap County, Washington.  Bangor (with its 8 OHIO Class ballistic missile submarines carrying Trident missiles with thermonuclear warheads) and SWFPAC (the Navy's West Coast nuclear weapons storage depot) together represent the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in the US, and quite possibly anywhere in the world. 

These nuclear weapons, deployed on the Trident ballistic missile submarines based there, are capable of destroying life on Earth as we know it. This nuclear Sword of Damocles, hanging over all of humanity, is totally immoral, and an abomination before God.

We come together this January 15th to not only say NO to nuclear weapons and YES to life, but also to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s great spirit and works and stand in solidarity with all people who struggle against oppression.  This day we will stand in particular solidarity with the people of Jeju Island in South Korea who have engaged in nonviolent struggle for many years against plans to build a new naval base there that will serve the US Military’s Asia-Pacific Pivot.

Fr. Bichsel, of the Tacoma Catholic Worker, joins others in nonviolent resistance on Jeju
The Catholic Church in Korea has been extraordinarily faithful in its support of the struggle of the people on Jeju, and has held daily mass at the entrance gate to the construction site for the new naval base.  Priests, nuns and lay people have come together in faith-filled, nonviolent resistance, prayer and shared Eucharist as an integral part of the ongoing struggle for life over the forces of destruction and death.

Dr. King’s struggle was rooted in that same faith, and we honor his life’s work.  We come together to share our bread, share our life, and share our peacemaking. 
As we pray for peace at such a powerful symbol of empire, violence and death, we tie together the Eucharist and Resistance.  By coming together in Eucharistic Resistance we help break the bonds that hold humanity in servitude to the forces of death.  We make a clear statement - We choose Life!

Celebrating Eucharist at the naval base construction site on Jeju
We will gather on January 15th at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, just down the road from Bangor, before leaving for the gate.  You may arrive between 10:30 and 11:30 AM.  We will leave for the gate at 11:45. Please dress appropriately for the weather (we will be out in the open while at the Bangor gate).  We will carpool down to the area near the gate on Clear Creek Road where we are able to park on the shoulder.  It is a short walk down the hill to the gate, although it is a bit rough; wear sturdy footwear. 

After our time together at the gate, you are welcome to join us at Ground Zero for fellowship. Bring a bag lunch if you wish; we will provide refreshments.  

Ground Zero is located at 16159 Clear Creek Road, Poulsbo, WA 98370.  You can get directions at the GZ Website at gzcenter.org. This information will also be posted at the “Local Events” calendar at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

All are welcome to participate in this shared Eucharist. Please share this information with your faith communities, and carpool over and join us on January 15th.

For more information contact either Fr. William “Bix” Bichsel, SJ at the Tacoma Catholic Worker, bix.tacoma@gmail.com o253-304-6612; or Leonard Eiger at Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone at subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com or 425-445-2190.

Learn more about the struggle to save Jeju at savejejunow.org.