Posts Tagged ‘Iraq War’

But I’m a Christian first!

September 12, 2011

Note: If you are really pleased with the Catholic Church as it is today, you may not want to  read any further.


There was an unexpected comment from inside a prison cell during my visit on Wednesday of last week:

“The one religion I have no use for is Catholic.” He’s Muslim.

“Really?” I said

“Catholics are creepy! All that sexual abuse of kids.”

“You know, I’m Catholic.”

“You are?”

“But I’m a Christian first!”

Ever since that exchange (and we did continue talking), I have wondered what prompted me to say that. My not identifying with the institutional church is certainly part of it. Wondering what bishops, cardinals, and the pope bring to the party is another part.

The thing that keeps me in the Catholic faith is that there is nowhere else to go. Also, I need to remember the influence of the Sacraments and of our tradition upon who I have become … along with God’s grace.

I’m simply not big on the hierarchy and all the pomp and trappings that go with it. I still imagine Jesus roaming around the Vatican or any diocesan office wondering how all this came out of his demonstrating and talking about leading a humble and loving life.

Our local bishop provides ceremonial, administrative, and managerial support to the faith communities in the archdiocese. That is good and necessary. But I don’t look to him for guidance in matters of faith and morals. I look to the members of our faith community under the guidance of our pastors.

To me, the bishops in this country have nothing to say. Perhaps they will someday, but for now their voice lacks credibility and is usually out of step with those in the pews. The corporate  insensitivity and cover-ups displayed toward the sexual abuse of our children can never be excused. Forgiven by some, but never excused.

I believe to be a good Catholic is to be a good Christian, to follow Jesus in his words and actions, to hear and keep the gospel message. Is that what we see and hear from the hierarchy? No.  What we see and hear is exclusion, intolerance, arrogance, a group that is tone-deaf, a group that fails to listen to the faithful (at least those of us without money).

We see and hear from the hierarchy an asymmetrical view of the human experience, an undue focus on sexual issues rather than on loving relationships. Other things in their portfolio of issues include abortion, gays, maintaining 7 Sacraments for men and only 6 Sacraments for women. Gee, that last issue said that way smacks of theological ignorance, except we know it’s all about power anyway and theology has nothing to do with it.

The U.S. bishops’ bi-annual inserting of themselves into the political process is nonsense and, as we have seen, can cause much damage through encouraging voting for those who are insufficiently pro-live, voting for those care more for the unborn than for breathing citizens in need. I should say that they claim to care for the unborn.

Our bishops also encouraged voting for and electing an administration filled with fear and vengeance rather than hope and forgiveness. But unthinking conservatism doe spawn more unthinking conservatism, and election time is just around the corner once more. The archbishop before this one thought the war in Iraq was a “just” war. And so it goes.

I could go on, but a conversation at a cell door does bring up many, many things to reflect upon.

There is a lot of loud talking

October 26, 2010

A very interesting day so far. Awakened in the middle of the night as a very sharp and abrupt storm moved through. According to the news, the storm is 800 miles long and gaining strength. Not going to be good for many people as it moves east.

Took some time to get some exercise while listening to the Diane Rehm Show, a discussion of the Wikileaks’ latest document dump. The documents reveal nothing more than many of us suspected. If the war was legitimate, well-planned, and guided by wise and informed people, I’d be shocked at what the documents show. But what has been going on over there is what one gets when arrogant fools decide to spread democracy where it isn’t wanted. If you think the insurgency in Iraq is ugly, picture someone moving in an occupying us with their brand of how to live correctly.

Later in the morning was my preparation of a Cuban dish to be served over rice: picadillo. We’ll see how it goes. First tasting hopes that it ages well by dinner time. While doing the cooking, Sirius Radio’s “Symphony Hall” was proving to be an apt replacement for Classic 99, a radio station owned and operated by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and sold, after many years, to an outfit playing contemporary Christian music. We are now left with no local station playing classical music unless you can receive an HD signal.

Caught a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh … more than enough, actually. I’ve noticed from his program, Glenn Beck’s, and the folks on the Patriot channel on Sirius, that there is a lot of loud talking and sometimes screaming. Let me say that talking louder and louder doesn’t create a credible message.

How may ways can the extreme right twist things around to conceal their complete and paralyzing disgust that there is “one of them” living on the second floor of the White House. But, my God, am I glad Obama won. It’s as though people forgot there wasn’t a viable alternative. Write your own scenario for what this country would look like had the pair of mavericks  won.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve voted for Republicans many, many times and had a subscription to the National Review for years. But that party is gone and the beliefs that went with it. That old party was interesting in governing on behalf of the American people. The current incarnation stands for little that the country needs to be successful in today’s world.)

What did we have to offer?

December 8, 2009

What he should’ve known
What he could’ve known
It’s too late now

I really don’t think he knew
But his handlers did
That foolish and arrogant man
His understanding was meager
Wisdom completely absent
Heels dug in with inexplicable certitude
Instincts abundant
Poorly formed in pampered privilege

Trying to outdo a parent
Ready fodder for manipulators
Playing upon uninformed passion
Vengeful unleashing of unwarranted invasion
Naïve occupation and reckless governance

Damage done far exceeds
Oppression replaced
Security gone
Hundreds of thousands killed
Millions displaced or injured

Unemployment and frustration
Humiliation and broken families
An ancient civilization
Modern indifference
Now, seething rage looking for an outlet
Self-destruction; self-hatred.

What did we have to offer?

Nevertheless, I love that flag

July 3, 2008

Tuesday I put out our flag for the rest of the week and through Sunday. What a glorious sight, the red, white and blue against the green of the oak tree and the clear blue sky. It is doubtful that I will ever tire of seeing our country’s flag hoisted aloft into the breeze.

I wonder, though, how the sight of our nation’s symbol could have taken on such a distaste for me following 9/11 when one could find it plastered everywhere. Oh, how I wish the flag had been displayed out of a sense of patriotism. But the patriots I knew weren’t brandishing the flag anywhere and everywhere. Instead, I perceived the flag’s being displayed out of a selfish vengeance, out of a “you-can’t-do-that-to-us because we are the leader of the free world” mentality. People seemed to be in a mood to form a posse rather than ask any critical questions about why such a thing as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could have happened. Everywhere you looked, God was being asked to bless our sense of outrage.

Afghanistan I could understand, sort of. But it is a mystery as to why we didn’t listen to other countries prior to starting the Iraq war. We have a couple of buildings knocked down and go absolutely nuts. Those who have had thousands of buildings bombed and destroyed, have had hundreds of thousands of their civilians killed, have invaded and been invaded, have occupied and been occupied, were simply blown off as being unaware of the dangers of today’s world. Who turned out to be the ones unaware? We acted like a spoiled person of privilege who might think it appropriate to burn down a neighbor’s house full of people because one of their kids did a lawn job on some new zoysia. No understanding, no proportionality, no seeking of advice, just thoughtless revenge and indifference to what might follow.

How did we get into this? I’m reminded of a quote from Bruce Catton’s This Hallowed Ground as the drumbeat to war was unfolding in the 1850s:

There is a rowdy strain in American life, living close to the surface but running very deep. Like an ape behind a mask, it can display itself suddenly with terrifying effect. It is slack-jawed, with leering eyes and loose wet lips, with heavy feet and ponderous cunning hands; now and then, when something tickles it, it guffaws, and when it is made angry it snarls; and it can be aroused much more easily than it can be quieted. … and when it comes lumbering forth it can make the whole country step in time to its own frantic irregular pulse-beat.

History has quite a sense of humor to have all this going on at a time when the Oval Office is devoid of any wisdom or sensibilities. Meanwhile, the Congress simply nods away as though mindless of all that America had stood for up to that date in 2001. Here we sit in 2008 with an energy crisis and no plan, the economy is tanking, real wages are in decline for those most in need.  We have a reputation as a torturer and invader of sovereign nations without provocation, as a killer of thousands of innocents because we are worried about our gluttonous need for oil. We have a government willing to spy on its own citizens. It seems that anything goes unless it is for the common good of either our own citizens or those of other nations.

To me, patriotism is loving our country enough to expect more than we are currently getting out of our national leaders. Thinking everything the government does is wonderful isn’t patriotism, it’s just being lazy, uninformed, and afraid to think about our responsibilities in the world. There has to be a better way for us to share our space on this planet. It seems, however, that we’d rather seal the borders … except for unloading oil tankers or shipping stuff to China … and tell the rest of the world what to do while not realizing we have lost our voice.

Nevertheless, I love that flag and all that it has stood for and can stand for. This time will pass, but we will be damned lucky if we escape the foolishness of these past eight years.