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Monday, October 20, 2014

WHO COMMANDS -- FIGHT FOR GOD & COUNTRY?


He was a well thought of African American kid, liked by all who knew him.  In one of the last tweets before his death, Douglas McCain, a Muslim convert who went to high school in Minnesota and was killed in Syria in August, wrote: "It takes a warrior to understand a warrior. Pray for ISIS."  Read more of his story, someone who wanted to be part of a higher cause, who had been previously a church going Christian.


When [his best friend Isaac] Chase joined the Air Force in 2007 and served in Iraq, McCain [who died fighting for the cause of an Islamic state] was impressed that his friend was making something of his life and wanted to do the same, Chase said.  But after learning that McCain died while fighting for ISIS, which is trying to establish an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria, his friend was bewildered.”  Up till then the warriors had been impressed with each other.


We should not be surprised at western Muslims going back to the Middle East battlefields, to fight, die, and be forever with Allah and many virgins.  We also train our Christian youth to fight, die, for God and country, as a highly honorable way to heavenly bliss.   We cover this with language of just doing a job for your country, “be all that you can be,” but the military’s basic training is the technology of lethal force.  Killing in God’s {or the state’s} name is required by most all peoples across the globe, to protect and promote their worldly kingdoms.

We need a new different hero from the one going over the barricades, in guns-blazing glory.  We have that in the person of Jesus, the Son of God, and the mercy and forgiveness He brought us.  Let us accept the grace to be true recruits in the nonviolent way of Jesus.   We should begin to teach our young people conflict resolution by drafting everyone into the Peace Corps and a faith-based AmeriCorps, at least as many as still might choose the military.  It would be two years national service for everyone, with emphasis on the nonviolent skills that have the hope of bringing real lasting peace.

And young people could hope to see faithful older adults rejecting violence and war, re-directing our world’s precious resources towards education, creative productive work opportunities, and the fights against famine and disease.



   “Make a Difference Years” to go beyond this week’s “Make a Difference Day”

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney 

References
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/10/06/chicago_isis_arrest_mohammed_hamzah_khan_detained_at_o_hare_airport.html


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

Monday, October 13, 2014

INNOCENTS DIE = UNJUST WAR


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JZrDB_oxfSE/UzBU4VY029I/AAAAAAAAGbA/icfFtkhNON4/s1600/FPWP+II+logo.jpg

Faith Perspective on War & Peace II

Second Biannual Request for Support Subscriptions

Working independently and without staff since inception on Faith Perspective on War & Peace these past five years leads me to adopt a new business model.  Writing and working for peace should have some hope of covering expenses and making a small profit in our society. Rather than monetizing the space with disruptive ads, this is a request for support subscriptions of $10 per year made by check sent to this address—Michael McCarthy, Faith Perspective on War & Peace II, 2714 Stone St., Port Huron, MI  48060.   Your check is your receipt.  Please send any suggestions with payments,  or to my email – mccpax@gmail.com.

       [This information can always be accessed in the “profile” section.]

I’ll continue to try to write and illustrate informative articles that seek to unite on common ground the concerns of liberal, radical, conservative and devotional members of our churches and communities.

                               INNOCENTS DIE = UNJUST WAR
Ralph Peters talks to Sean Hannity: "This is war, dude!"
Sean Hannity with guest Ralph Peters

Fox Pundit: Civilians Die–Get Over It!  [from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting]

A commentator for Fox news recently hit war’s nail on the head, “But my contacts within the chain of command, people involved in this operation, are furious that Obama's put incredible targeting restrictions on them, doesn't want any civilian casualties! This is war, dude! Civilians die! They're going to die!”  Retired Lt. Col, Ralph Peters was criticizing the war policy of our recently begun bombing of targets in Syria.   This was on the Sean Hannity Show, and consistent with Peters views as we prepared to invade Iraq, when he wrote a WSJ article, "Civilian Casualties: No Apology Needed."

This may be a common attitude for some dudes of war, but for a Christian it is morally forbidden.   Although they do not appear in the Gospel, the only traditional way a Christian can participate in the killing of war, is by strict observance of the Just War Theory’s conditions—all of them.  The U.S. Catholic Bishops, in their 1983 Pastoral Letter, “The Challenge of Peace” specify one, among the many. “Moreover, the lives of innocent persons may never be taken directly, regardless of the purpose alleged for doing so.” [from Sec. 104]

The fact that this is impossible to do in modern warfare should be a radical caution to all Christians—Do not fight wars. “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.” Mt 5:9


References






Monday, October 6, 2014

CHILDREN THE TARGETS OF WAR


Syrian citizens check the damaged school entrance in Akrama neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
“Twin bombings near an elementary school in Syria killed at least 32 people on Wednesday [Oct 1st], including at least 10 children, with the second blast going off as screaming parents frantically searched for their sons and daughters in a street littered with school bags and body parts.
Syrian children are frequently among the victims of attacks in the country’s civil war, but on Wednesday they appear to have been the target. …
The attack occurred outside the Ekremah al-Makhzoumi elementary school in a government-controlled area of the central city of Homs dominated by minority Alawites, the offshoot sect to which President Bashar Assad’s family belongs.”

This AP story of car & suicide bombs appears a few days after President Obama, at the behest of the armchair war strategists, authorized the aerial bombing of Syria.  Those bombs are directed against ISIS a Sunni militant sect, among at least 4 or 5 that battle against President Assad and his Alawites.  All these groups were at some point in the recent past supported by our CIA and the Saudis to depose Assad.  These militias, as witnessed above, kill children if it suits the cause.   We still back up all, but ISIS, whom we now attack.  None of them claims responsibility for this act—but it’s the way they work in their fight against Assad.   Our “smart” bombing in Syria is not surgical and kills children too.  Paradoxically we at this moment fight against ISIS, in virtual alliance with Assad's government an avowed enemy.
Al Nusra fighters - BBC
ISIS explained in 'The Economist' 1-20-14
Which side are we on when all sides are heavily invested in the technology of killing?

Continuing the above article -- 
“All sides [certainly including Assad’s government] have carried out horrific attacks on civilians during the conflict -- now in its fourth year -- but rarely have children appeared to be the direct target.”
Take time to read all of the tragic account and background—one of the millions of seldom told individual stories of our perpetual war in the Middle East, which began by proxy, rising from the ashes, hubris, and spent fuel of WWII.  In all wars children are certain victims.

There is no winning in this war.  Syria follows a similar pattern to Libya, which has been left in ruins—its government, and our embassy, in exile, a host of militant militias in turbulent struggle to see who might be momentarily in charge.   They were the ones we paid, armed, and to whom we provided air support, until they succeeded in executing strongman Qaddafi.  Then all hell broke loose, as ever it does when the dogs of war are unleashed.
I’ve been paying attention to modern military industrial conflict since 1966.  The peace and justice morality seeded by Sacred Heart Seminary and Vatican II began to take form in many of us, against the politics of the Vietnam war, all war.    We need to respond now to the mounting call to conversion, a plea for spiritual sanity, “When will people ever learn that war is madness and conflicts are only resolved by forgiveness? – Pope Francis, Sept 14th 2014, speaking 100 years after WWI.
Paul Cheng Image - Bad Tree Good Tree
It is not easy in our inwardly satisfied, outwardly militarized society to truly renounce war, cooperation with its evil—and seek the ways of peace.  Lord Jesus we believe, help our unbelief.  Suffer the children to come to you--where there is the courage of love, protection, and no more suffering.  We must stop building bullets and bombs.




Many of the ISIS bullets ripping apart men women and children of rival factions, Christians, and other religious minorities--are made in the USA.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/world/isis-ammunition-is-shown-to-have-origins-in-us-and-china.html?ref=world&_r=0


Illumination by Kathy Brahney 

 References

Syria blasts at school kill 32, including 10 kids 
http://savannahnow.com/news/2014-10-01/syria-blasts-school-kill-32-including-10-kids

Children’s Art at Syria School, and Then a Bomb
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/world/middleeast/syria.html?ref=world&_r=1

U.N., Fearing a Polio Epidemic in Syria, Moves to Vaccinate Millions of Children
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/26/world/middleeast/syria-polio-epidemic.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimesworld&_r=0

 Aid groups say Syria's war risks leaving entire generation of children scarred for life
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/13/aid-groups-say-syria-war-risks-leaving-entire-generation-children-scarred-for/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/26/libyan-embassy-evacuated/13195671/

Libyan armed faction takes over U.S. Embassy annex in Tripoli
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/31/us-libya-security-usa-idUSKBN0GV0MH20140831

Monday, September 29, 2014

CAN'T HUG THE NEEDY WITH WEAPONS FOR ARMS


 “For the first time, the United Nations is handling four major humanitarian crises at once: refugee crises in Syria and Iraq as well as civil wars in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, where millions are at risk of famine. Meanwhile, West Africa is experience a devastating Ebola outbreak.”
And this is on top of “ongoing needs that are being met in Nigeria, Gaza, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the emerging crisis in Ukraine," says an administrator of our USAID programs.  She adds this is unprecedented in the scope of worldwide disaster responses, and extraordinarily complicated—much more than last year’s hurricane in the Philippines, where, “Nobody was shooting anyone.”


This NPR report was on August 19th this year [you can find online at NPR Morning Edition], and things are not getting better.   Our humanitarian efforts are beaten back by a world awash in weapons and violence.   The failed third world states are overwhelming us with their wounds of war.   The Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone wells up within a people who’ve been subjected to a bloodbath of fighting for decades.  We are becoming the failed superpower states—the first-world countries who’ve relied on, and exported, war industries to solve international conflicts.


                                                                Sermon on the Mount -- Hope for Africa



Our world leaders base their investment, politics, and security on military power. This terribly mistaken idea, that one can bludgeon the enemy into submission and peace, has plagued humanity for millennia, before the birth of Christ.  He preached from the mountaintops the Beatitudes—love of enemy was the only way to salvation and true security.  Many governments since have professed respect for Christianity, but put their money down on the war machine.   Yet the only guaranteed wages of war are continued sin, disease, and death.

We’ve been so blessed in the United States.  We reach a turning point.  God grant us the grace to change our hearts, then open our purses investing completely in the healing way of the peacemaker.

Graph of world's disastrous response to conflict thus far - from globalissues.org


 More complete info & graphs on the trillion dollar arms industry at last 2 sites below

References
http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/08/19/341413632/worlds-aid-agencies-stretched-to-their-limits-by-simultaneous-crises


http://www.globalissues.org/article/74/the-arms-trade-is-big-business#Developingnationsaretoprecipients

Here's the only image of St. Michael I can find without a sword [from St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Chruch in Concord, CA].   Happy Michaelmas Day -- the 29th was celebrated in Europe as a feast of the harvest.  Michael is "a star of the love that conquers pride," and means in Hebrew--who is like to God?

Monday, September 22, 2014

LIBYA, HONDURAS, AD INFINITUM -- WAR OFFERS UP ITS REFUGEES



Molech-Cronos-Saturn-Baal---god of  fire, war, and child sacrifice.     Mars--Roman god of war.             

War, violence and abuse are humanity’s most promiscuous false idol—that by means of these we can obtain the ends of peace and prosperity.   If we believe in Jesus, the Good News, the Sermon on the Mount, nothing can be further from the truth.  If we are simply a student of history, the same is still true.   Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are certainly doomed to repeat their mistakes.  One of the many constant tragedies of allegiance to war is the propagation of wave upon wave of refugees.

Two examples from our current affairs:  Libya-Gaza and Central America—distant places united in suffering.

The recent disastrous wars in Libya & Gaza, where we, the Europeans, Arab powers, and Israeli's contributed airstrikes, weapons, and “intelligence” to the conflicts, have led to a tremendous surge in refugees trying to flee across the sea to North Africa for uncertain safety on Sicilian islands.   Those bombed from their homes in Gaza have had to trek westward through Egypt [also in a state of militarized chaos].  People from Syria and Iraq also choose the ocean route of escape.
   
 Workers removing bodies of migrants that washed ashore on Libya’s coast-- Aimen Elsahli-Reuters

No one could accuse Pozzallo [a mass was said there for those who’d died at sea] of indifference. This small Sicilian town, like Italy itself, has staggered its way through a skyrocketing migration crisis in the Mediterranean that has seen roughly 120,000 migrants rescued by Italian ships this year, almost triple last year’s figure, while nearly 2,800 have died in shipwrecks or in transit, a fourfold increase. And more bodies may be coming. Rescuers are searching in the waters near Malta after reports this week that more than 750 people may have died in two shipwrecks in recent days.
Over the past three years, Italian authorities have swung from a hard-line policy to “push back” migrant vessels to Libya, to a search-and-rescue program to deliver them safely to Italian ports like this one. Migrants still keep coming.  {read the full account}
There are many in flight from Libya which now, after the war to depose Qaddafi is a failed state, fought over by militias, government in exile.   And many are those displaced from the most recent conflagration in Gaza, as well as the steady stream from Mali, Sudan, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast …

On our side of the Atlantic we begin to appreciate the scope of those families displaced by our Central American war’s bad economy, and its militarized drugs wars that have become epidemic, esp. in Honduras, site of the U.S.’s biggest military base in the region—called the Southern Command.  Their children now pile up on our southern border.  [see previous July 21, 2014 entry]
To personalize one of these families, just through a brief encounter, read of a Guatemalan mom and her three kids’ stopover at Casa Juan Diego, in Houston.   In their journey refugees lose all security, often even the ability to ask for help.

 Immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas, on June 25

Pope Francis at the beginning of this year, called for a new attitude of solidarity with the displaced, then made it specific to these Central American refugees.
A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization — all typical of a ‘throwaway culture’ — towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world”.

Earlier, on Lampedusa another Sicilian island near Pozzallo, Pope Francis had this to say about that corner of the world’s war refugees crisis. But he lashed those who ignored the plight of refugees. "The culture of well-being, that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalization of indifference."

Spanish police, in the foreground, and Moroccan police, in the background, blocked dozens of African migrants as they attempted to jump a fence separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla---Santi Palacios for The New York Times
One can’t leave this subject without remembering also the recent millions of those displaced, internally & externally, by our wars, direct and by proxy, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Yemen …  The incomplete list goes on back towards WWII, and deeper on down history’s trail of tears.
Migrants sat astride a fence separating Morocco from Spain during a failed crossing attempt into Melilla in April, 2014. Credit Santi Palacios for The New York Times

War always brings death, destruction, displacement and disease.  Those who fail to learn these lessons of history are certainly doomed to repeat them.  The only way to banish these curses, is to not go to war in the first place.  We are our brothers and sisters keepers.  We must each do our part in renouncing war as ever being a solution to society’s problems.


Mural, Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Center, Tapachula, Mexico {major crossing point into Mexico from Central America}


References

A recent story of the Central American refugee children at our borders –








Monday, September 15, 2014

RENEWED TRAVELS IN SPAIN


Looking back over the summer we’re grateful for our trip to Spain.  Ande and I, as padrinos to Theresa and longtime family friends, were invited by Joe & Rose Crowley to their daughter’s wedding in Cantabria, Spain’s north coast.   It was an intimate celebration within the gardens of a 300 year old country inn, hosted by Demetrio, proprietor and friend of the groom’s family, the Ferreiras, for generations.   Everything was generous and blessed, with la familia connections deep in the old world and new.


The spirit of this union, with new bonds spanning the distance of language, culture, place—along with later travels from the Picos de Europa mountains to the coastal El Camino, with the proud parents we’ve known for decades—renews my faith in traveled friendship.   Both our families have had up and down challenges.   Both continue to believe in extending the risk of encounter to beyond the regular boundaries, seeking immersion in the life of many different countries, rich and poor—our grown children now taking the lead.


he Basque country of Spain is especially close to my heart.  Though I’d never been there before, I’d wandered, hitch-hiking, broke, through other parts of Spain for many months forty plus years ago.  A young Basque of beautiful baritone voice taught me his Euskadi songs at our gatherings when I managed a few months stay in Madrid, shared the deep-rooted hospitality of his homeland, helped me buy my first Elosegui beret in the Madrid Sunday market.  Though they’d suffered the wars of Franco’s fascist bombers, and for years some responded with ETA’s terror attacks, he showed me the common people were renowned for their welcome of the stranger, closeness to the land, their cooperative labor movement.   I’d always hoped to go north to see their ancestral tree in Guernica, share more of their history and friendship.


City of Guernika, April 26, 1937, after the bombing by German warplanes - Euskadi archive photo

With good fortune, and lots of planning, that finally happened this trip.  After a few wrong turns in the coastal town we found Guernika‘ko arbola [tree], traditional assembly point for the Basque people.  Then Ande & I’d been put in touch [through Ande’s high school girlfriend] with Ester who’d been an exchange student in her school, after Ande left.  Ester was now a travel guide in San Sebastian, one of the most beautiful old cities of the Basque country.  Along with her husband Ignacio they gave us a wonderful evening of walking the streets and seacoast hills of their place, giving us the best of their food [pintxos], wine, and deep conversation in three languages about the necessity of travel, for peace in the world.  I was even invited, at a bar table shared with strangers, to sing my remembered version of the Euskadi anthem.


These were high points in our two week trip.  The marriage, and on the road with rental car.  There were many small difficult decisions along the way, and one is always quite dependent on the good will of random local people.  It’s easy to get lost in many senses of the word, when you don’t understand every word.   Mistakes are always close by.  You must pay attention.

Traveling is hard work, but it is the only way to meet those new people far away who have something important to say to you—fresh foreign perspective.  Do not be afraid, despite issues we are all brothers and sisters.  They meet our simple daily needs which are now complicated as we swim outside our culture in theirs—in ways that are surprising, and make us grateful.  What positive connections!
Monastery at Cobreces, from the small part of the Camino we walked

We thank Mirna at the hotel in Lekeitio on Spain’s north coast, a Rumanian from Paraguay, cheerfully patiently respecting my efforts using my Spanish, bargaining down the price of our rooms.  Brother Bonifa at the Camino monastery in Cobreces, lodging us creatively, always with bemused smile.   Heriberto, young man in Nike cap who rolled down his window when asked directions as it was getting late and we’d found no place to stay.   He was high on something, but assured us to follow, on a fast wild goose chase up and down narrow hill roads seeking a country posada—but not finding, still wrote out directions to a hotel in the next town over, which did finally work out fine.   Vanessa, young professor from Oxford, and another Basque by birth, in animated discussion on the train in towards Madrid’s Atocha station, while suggesting good places to eat our last day in Spain.  And so many more, in just a two weeks journey.  Learning a foreign language is the key to travel, and the first step in global interpersonal understanding.

Artist's redition of Guenika'ko arbola--They've planted a new one to replace the old, of which the trunk only remains, though it did survive the bombng.

Of course we are most grateful to the extended family of the Ferreiras in Santander & Miami, and to dear friends of many years, the Crowleys who were our reason for being in Spain. 
¡Que Dios les bendiga Theresa y Arturo!  Que su amor crezca siempre.

Flores de Quijas, Cantabria


"The Good Shepherd" at Iglesia de Santa Maria in San Sebastian---The Basque people are famous for their shepherding skill


Illumination by Kathy Brahney
Photos by myself


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