RonI am almost 64 years old, a husband, married to Janie for almost 43 years; a father of three adult sons, all teachers; a grandfather of three boys; a recently retired orthopedic surgeon of 30 years of private practice. I am a baptized Christian of the Episcopal Church which means that I vowed not only to follow the Way of the occupied,oppressed,colonized, crucified, Galilean, Palestinian Jew,  Jesus but also  among other things “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Janie and I traveled to Palestine/Israel in Feb 2012 on The Study and Solidarity Tour with Indiana Center For Middle East Peace   led by L.Michael Spath, now my friend and mentor, to meet the Living Stones, and visit the Holy Land. In the course of this trip we experienced a taste of the Israeli occupation of Palestine first hand. The trip was and continues to be a life transforming experience for Janie and me.

In January of 2016 I, without Janie this time, participated in the FOSNA, Kairos USA sponsored trip to Palestine to study liberation theology and popular resistance in greater depth. We met extraordinary people resisting the brutal illegal Israeli occupation. People such as Bassem, Nariman and Ahed Tamimi of Nabi Saleh; Iyad Burnat and his family and the village of Bil’in. We visited the “Beautiful  Resistance” of the arts at Al-Rowwad  of Aida Refugee camp and the Freedom Theatre of  the Jenin refugee camp. We met with such heroes as Mazin Qumsiyeh and Omar Barghouti. We marched non-violently with the Tamimi’s of Nabi Saleh and were met with American made and/or financed tear gas from the  brutal Israeli Occupation Force. This deepened my understanding of this brutal, oppressive, settler/colonial enterprise that is political  Zionism.

Besides family, my passions are to follow the occupied Palestinian Jewish prophet, peasant, mystic, healer, movement initiator, Son of Man, “what God looks like in sandals”, Jesus of Nazareth, more fully for the rest of my life . I care deeply about the decline of the church which I think is in large part due to the fact that we have been following the wrong Jesus: the son of a violent God of empire and privilege, the blue-eyed, blond-haired, 8 lb. 6oz. little baby European Jesus, that I looked for in all the holy land shrines but never found. I especially experienced Him at Daoud Nassar’s Tent of Nations and Elias Chacour’s school. My theological mentors are C.S.Lewis (especially 30 years ago), Frederick Buechner since I first began reading him 25 years ago, Brian McLaren, N.T. Wright, Marcus Borg, Richard Rohr, Barbara Brown Taylor, and recently Nadia Bolz- Weber, a.k.a. the Sarcastic Lutheran. I personally fit the type depicted as The Elder Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son and The Rich Young Ruler who walked away from Jesus. However recently we have taken some steps so as not to walk away any longer. My Enneagram Type is 6.

My mentors on the Israeli/Palestine conflict are Michael Spath, Executive Director of Indiana Center for Middle East Peace,  Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace and Director of Kairos USA, Rabbi Brant Rosen, and Robert Cohen of Micah’s Paradigm Shift, and recently Desmond Tutu and the Rev. Dr. Allan Boesak,  who I think are all of the same mind on this important subject. Somehow I don’t think it is so complex (as apparently liberal Zionists like to rationalize.) It is about justice and a gross imbalance of power between the occupier and the occupied. i recently came to realize that this Zionist occupation is a typical settler/colonial enterprise.   I am struck by the similarities between unjust occupations throughout history: the psychology of the occupied and occupier doesn’t seem to change. And thus the role of the church to be a prophetic voice at this Kairos time, to end this injustice in Palestine, is again needed.