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Monday, August 3, 2015

CALL FOR SUB SUPPORT & HIROSHIMA CANDLELIGHTS ON WATER

Second Biannual Request for Support Subscriptions –-- 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, 2714 Stone St., Port Huron, MI  48060 [checks to my name with FPWP in the memo].   Thank you.


Working independently and without staff since inception on Faith Perspective on War & Peace these past five plus years leads me to attempt a new business model. Writing and working for peace should have some hope of making a small profit in our society. But incomes have thus far been significantly smaller than expenses. I’d like to now merge an old technology with this new one.  Money by mail, for these messages by internet.

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At seventy years since these exploded into our world, its time to banish these demons.  They generate total disrespect for all life.   We nations that have them, possess many times over the number sufficient to end all the biologically advanced life on this planet.  What a blasphemy against our creator God, and a violation of the First Commandment, as they are certainly "strange gods" we entrust our lives to.
Instead---
Candle lantern commemoration of ancestors, and the first atomic bombing--Hiroshima
photo by Kim Kung Hoon, Reuters
From a Pax Christi Austin, TX 2007 ceremony
From an earlier Port Huron ceremony

An invitation, during our parish Franz Jagerstatter Prayer Novena for the End of War
CANDLELIGHTS ON THE RIVER
FOR PEACE AND DISARMAMENT
Thursday, August 6th, Year 2015
A prayer vigil in commemoration of all those who have died in all wars
For our ancestors, our children, and even our enemies
To commit ourselves to put an end to war
On the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima
So that future generations may live in peace
Come down to the river to pray
For conversion from the arms race, on the banks of the St. Clair River, at the new River Walk in Port Huron {midway down the walk at the sturgeon sculpture reef barriers}

At 9:15 PM, Thursday, August 6, 2015

 “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of is scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
--President Dwight D. Eisenhower

"After the passage of nearly four [now seven] decades and a concomitant growth in our understanding of the ever growing horror of nuclear war, we must shape the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing in 1945. Without that sorrow, there is no possibility of finding a way to repudiate future use of nuclear weapons…"
The U. S. Catholic Bishops, "The Challenge of Peace" pastoral letter of 1983 [Sec 302]

Monday, July 27, 2015

HOLY COMMUNION--A SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY THAT KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES


There is so much injustice in our communities that confronts us daily, and the violence between rich and poor which persistently plagues us throughout the world.   Evil—manifest pride and greed, no matter the disguise.   How can we bear it, how can we conquer it?


A small but infinitely powerful event happens at each and every Sunday and daily mass.  The joy of Holy Communion instantly unites us with Jesus, in the child refugee from war in the Middle East, or from drug gangs in Central America, the child abused by teacher, priest, parent, or coach; all the men and women hated and shunned from justice and job because of race or class; and certainly the members of our own families, those loved--and those disaffected.  As all these through baptism of desire receive Jesus into their souls in mystical eucharist also, we become one in pain, purpose, and present moment, and the hope of mutual salvation.


In this spiritual community beyond human knowledge, all are welcome—no barriers.  One has only to ask for forgiveness, and take part in the forgiving one another.   Justice will grow out of telling the truth, and if we want the real peace promised by God, we will work for justice, as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us.


One person who prayed that often, and to the hour of his death was Blessed Franz Jagerstatter.  Next week we begin a Novena of Prayer with him, who would not fight Hitler’s wars, for the end of all wars.

{For a short history of Franz' life, a family man's refusal to take part in Hitler's unjust wars, it can be read in my July 29, 2011 web article  or  K of C version of this linked here.}

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Yearly Novena of Prayer, at our Holy Trinity parish Port Huron, MI in 2008—August 1st to August 9th, the day of his execution in 1943 by Nazi government, because he would not fight in Hitler’s wars.
The prayer below is prayed at all our parish gatherings and liturgies for these nine days.  We pray for respect for all life.   And we pray Jesus to free us from our mandates that support the disastrous violence of war. 
PRAYER FOR INTERCESSION OF BLESSED FRANZ JAGERSTATTER--FOR THE END OF OUR WARS IN IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, SYRIA, SUDAN, LIBYA, YEMEN, MEXICAN DRUG WARS, UKRAINE & ALL WARS

Lord Jesus Christ,               
You filled your servant Franz Jägerstätter
with a deep love for you, his family and
all people.
During a time of contempt for God and
humankind you bestowed on him
unerring discernment and integrity.
In faith, he followed his conscience, and
said a decisive NO to the Nazi regime
and unjust war.
Thus he sacrificed his life.
We pray that you may glorify your
servant Franz, so that many people may
be encouraged by him and grow in love
for you and all people.
May his example shine out in our time,
and may you grant all people the
strength to stand up for justice, peace
and human dignity.
For yours is the glory and honor with
the Father and the Holy Spirit now and
forever. Amen.
     (Prayer from the Diocese of Linz, Austria)

Monday, July 20, 2015

ORDER IN THE COURT—THE RICH, THEN THE POOR


One way to get to know what poverty means in St. Clair County these days, is to sit for a morning in our District Court.   I had to do that recently with a friend facing traffic charges, and it is instructive.  As the 50 or so defendants in the general pews await the appearance of the judge, there is a cordial shuffling in and out, of attorneys and court staff at the frontal {beyond the bar} area.   They sit at tables and make last minute arrangements.


When the judge enters, the cases they handle proceed expeditiously and with decorum.  The 45 or so people left on the docket, those without lawyers, are next in line, given more scrutiny, and though the same petty crimes are being considered for most, there is a more severe disciplinary air in court.   Many have minor drug possession, or suspended license, or violation of previous probation, level charges--and most are unable to pay anything on the fines that are levied.   The judge remonstrates with them for not bringing money to court, and they dissemble, and say that they will bring some when the date set by the judge arrives.

There are a disproportionately large number of people of color in the group that waits—and black or white, by the clothes they wear, and the back-of-the-bus atmosphere surrounding the unrepresented, those without money carry an extra burden well beyond their offenses.


There are so many ways our justice system discriminates against the poor: racial profiling leading to arrest, unnecessary force during arrest, lack of adequate legal representation, severe sentencing guidelines for nonviolent crimes, incarceration awaiting trial because unable to make bail, doing time in jail because of being unable to pay fines, …



nstead of the mock trials that are staged for our local high school students to teach about our justice system, much better to have them, in small unobtrusive groups, attend a morning’s court session.  Our courtrooms are public, and there is no better personal upfront instruction as to the good, and broken, elements of justice in the USA today.

The widening gap between rich and poor in our country puts us in danger of creating a permanent underclass, of the even greater institutionalization of inequality.  Those with money are encouraged to demean those without.  A major television studio now has a reality show that depicts the moral struggle of contestants, as to who needs $100,000 the most.   A leading candidate to be our next president has written a book with a chapter, “The Restoration of Shame,” in which he says, “For many, it is more shameful to work than to take public assistance—that is how backward shame has become!”  Shame for those caught in a cycle of poverty, but no shame for those caught in a cult of riches?

Robert Reich [former U.S. Secretary of Labor] on wealth & poverty in America

We live in the country whose idol is the “self-made man.”   Responsibility and initiative are definitely important.  But it’s your fault if you’re born into poverty?  Yet eminently commendable if you’re born into, or amass great wealth?   In an enlightening page of Bishop Ken Untener’s book [see below] of Lenten reflections this past year, entitled “Poor can be overwhelmed into inaction,” a day-in-the-life of the poor is compared to that of a regular Joe.  And there but for fortune go any one of us.
 
The benign view of the rich: their trickle-down, will lift all boats {without their need to pay any attention to the personal situation of the poor}.   The Last Judgement vision of Matthew 25 sees it from the completely different perspective of a merciful all-loving God, “…when you did it to the least of the brethren.”  The personal acts of mercy, for the ones we’re inclined to love the least, are the path to heaven.
References

Interesting videos that touch on the money and poverty questions –
Robert Reich – Inequality for All
Wall St. Journal approach
Ed Asner’s not-so-fractured fairy tale on the subject

Illumination by Kathy Brahney




Monday, July 13, 2015

U.S.- LEADERS IN BLIND ARMS RACE


In total military spending, we lead.

“The USA with its massive spending budget, has long been the principal determinant of the current world trend, often accounting for close to half of all the world’s military expenditure. The effects of global financial crisis and the post-Iraq/Afghanistan military operations have seen a decline in its spending, now accounting for 39% of spending in 2012.”

As the world’s foremost exporter of weapons, we lead.
The main importers and exporters of major arms, 2010–14
Exporter 
Global
share (%) 
Importer 
Global
share (%) 
 1. USA
 31
1. India 
 15
 2. Russia
 27
2. Saudi Arabia
 5
 3. China
 5
3. China
 5
 4. Germany
 5
4. UAE
 4
 5. France
 5
5. Pakistan
 4
 6. UK
 4
6. Australia
 4
 7. Spain
 3
7. Turkey
 3
 8. Italy
 3
8. USA
 3
 9. Ukraine
 3
9. South Korea
 3
 10. Israel
 2
10. Singapore
 3

And will continue to lead.

"U.S. Reforms 'Open Floodgates' on Arms Exports"

The blind lead the blind.

An arms race is a race to nowhere, and a theft from the poor, murders the innocent.
Passing out {the manufacture and distribution of} these worldwide weapons is equivalent to a massive sterilization and birth control campaign.  Populations control in third world countries by supplying them with the means to make their enmities go viral in violent mutual self destructions.  Insidious anti-family planning.  This war economy has no lasting benefit to winners nor losers.  It only increases suffering, and the stain on our collective soul, brings us closer to a bad end.

The Blind Leading the Blind -- by Pieter Bruegel the Elder - 1568

"How a nuclear near-miss in ’95 would be a disaster today"


In the New Mexico desert, at the site of the first test explosion of a nuclear bomb on July 16th 1945, people are praying again through the night, that we will put away this terrible sword.   May we join with them in prayer, on this feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and embrace the way of merciful saving light—brought to us by her son, Jesus.


Our Lady of Mt. Carmel--Trinity Atomic Test Vigil, July 16th – art by K. McCarthy



Monday, July 6, 2015

TWO-WHEELED ROAD RESCUE IN GHANA

The tro-tro [mini-bus] hub in central Accra, where my bike [for 25 mile return trip] and I began

Later, in a market hub, 8 miles outside of Accra Ghana {June 2010}, doing a mini-bus transfer along with the locals, most all of us in western clothes.

“Does someone have a knife?!”  -- as the transit van pulled away, loaded up with everyone else aboard moving on, the driver yelling “we got to go!”  -- and my bike with stiff woven plastic packing cord stretched out but still securely tying it to the outside back door area [only way they could make it fit].   The driver’s assistant and I had been working franticly for 3 to 4 minutes to untie knots or just tear the bike off to no avail.  Now I was just holding on to it running behind, as the vehicle started away, gathering speed—2 mph, 5 mph.  My trip to the mountain-top Aburi gardens, and my use of my brother’s bike I’d renovated, were nearly both goners.

“Does anyone have a knife??!!”  -- a man of noble bearing, tall in traditional long brown flowing robe and square corned skull cap, deliberate and surely rose from where I’d noticed him sitting stately amidst the swirling crowd. It seemed he’d had special place, under cover of shade trees at the edge of our market road.   With a few quick steps remarkable for his age he is at my side.  Out from the folds of his garment appears a large folding pocket knife {like the French Opinels I’ve used for years I thought in the brief moment it was there for all to see --  the symbol of “le main commande” is etched into the base end of the steel blade near their beautiful wood handles}.
hether or not this knife was the brand, his hand did in that moment command, as he took the binding cords from me, sliced, my bike snapped free, and our eyes met.  The tro-tro puttered now faster away, and I gave a slight bow to him, as I steered the bike out of the road’s traffic, and as he was already turning to sit back on his bench under his tree, to resume his day.  The possible distant relative of former colonizers was back on his way, in this African’s debt, and grateful.  All left unsaid, that was enough.  The griot* had spoken.

* From Collins Dictionary: In Western Africa, a member of a caste responsible for maintaining an oral record of tribal history in the form of music, poetry, and storytelling.   {for all I know, he may have been royalty}


le main couronnée - the crowned hand logo

Trees at Aburi Gardens - photo by MM
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In this time of July 4th  Lets strive for Independence from War Tax – 50% of Federal income tax goes to warmaking.
Consider minimizing prepayment of federal income taxes that go to war, by increasing the number of exemptions on your W-4’s, and not paying any immediate tax when you receive 1099 income, such as retirement fund disbursements. Not having paid so much through the year, will leave some tax due, to refuse and redirect to community service, job creation, and peace projects near in the Blue Water area, or farther away—whatever amount conscience inspires on April 15th.


This is a civil disobedience, with the tax payer advising the IRS openly, of their purpose to not pay all the tax due [amount an individual decision]—redirecting to peaceful enterprise.  The IRS will send letters, and there’s some cost to this discipleship, but help is available on the details from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

When we render to our merciful, forgiving, all-powerful God what is God’s, what is really left for Caesar’s wars.
If we pray for and want peace, why pay for war?   Work for justice, invest in the tools of peacemaking.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney  

Monday, June 29, 2015

TRUE INDEPENDENCE DAY, FROM WAR—NO MORE DEAD AND HOMELESS

5-28-15 NYT-Iraqi civilians fleeing fighting in Ramadi crossed the Bzebiz Bridge, which offers passage into Baghdad from Anbar Province—photo by Karim Kadim-AP

  NYT 6-18-15 Thousands Flee Syria as Kurds Gain on ISIS -   photo by Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 “Nearly 60 million people have been driven from their homes by war and persecution, an unprecedented global exodus that has burdened fragile countries with waves of newcomers and littered deserts and seas with the bodies of those who died trying to reach safety.”
“Half of the displaced are children.”
“That included 11 million people who scattered within the borders of their own countries, the highest figure ever recorded in the agency’s 50-year history.”

The total dead and casualties of our recent worldwide warfares have not been counted, probably never will be totaled.  The world does not want to know.

This current wave of war’s disaster has crested 14 years after the onslaught of our War on Terrorism, and do we feel any more secure having erected a massive Department of Homeland Security?  The middle class is bowed down under the weight of military + security war-chests.  Terrorism is on the increase worldwide.  We help create the monster we fight, using variants of the lethal tools they employ.


            
            We live inside the belly of a war machine,
            Like Jonah in the cavernous whale,
            We don’t see the bloodshed in which Our Leviathan swims,
Slowly we dissolve within its digestive juices.
By the repentance spirit of Nineveh,
O God save us! 

Jonah in the belly of the whale {expelled on borders of Nineveh}. Russian icon, Tobolsk, 18th century

There is no hope in these presumptive wars, displays of false power that mimic the distortions made of an Old Testament god.   But in this present moment we have Good News—Jesus puts us on the way to be the sons and daughters of God—blessed are the peacemakers.

Lord, grant us the grace to put away the sword of war so that we can begin to truly follow your new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  And thus—feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, comfort the afflicted, shelter the homeless.
As it is, our warfare state overwhelms and compounds the problems of our welfare state.
May we throw off the bonds of the warfare state, and create a truly conservative, industrious, common sense and common good, welfare state.








Monday, June 22, 2015

RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACY-- SINS AGAINST FAITH IN GOD, EVERYONE'S CREATOR

Clockwise from top L; Susie Jackson--Sharonda Coleman-Singleton-DePayne Doctor--Ethel Lance--Daniel Simmons Sr--Clementa Pinckney--Cynthia Hurd--Tywanza Sanders

What happened in at the AME Church in Charleston, S.C. contains a message for all of us.  Racism and hatred can be mortal sins.  Our country must renounce them, and the violence tools that inflict their pain, if we wish redemption.  May the Lord bless and comfort the people of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and their whole community.

Jesus Calms the Storm -- From yesterday's Gospel, Mk 4:35-41
"Who is this whom both the wind and the sea obey?"

The terrible mystery of this young white man, assassin for an idea.  Who can attend a prayer and scripture meeting for one hour and then shoot to kill?  But isn’t that what we are training our young people across the globe to do—the troops or insurgents with their chaplain or imam, almost every day of war, pray and then pass the ammunition?  {And multiple movies, websites and video games celebrate mass violence.}
Racism and War are co-conspirators



h, but they shoot enemies.  Yes, with every enemy some mother’s son, or father’s daughter.  God sent His Son to tell us this is not the way—is never the way.  Some Christians say that though we are individually to be filled with His nonviolent love and mercy, we must be able to bodily defend ourselves collectively, kill for the good of family and society.  We can take up sword if necessary to protect God’s worldly kingdoms, until Christ comes to reclaim us in the rapture of end times.

My Catholic church also has taught that one has the right and duty of self-defense with lethal force if need dictates.  Kill rather than be killed.  This dictum dates from the time of St. Ambrose, St Augustine, and Emperor Constantine some 300 years after Jesus.  It is not the same as His Good News—He lives dies and is resurrected in the Gospels—which was bad news for the nations of the world, as they required subjects to fight, to preserve a Holy Roman Empire, and every empire since.

Survival, by any means necessary, is the prime directive of every nation state and faction—in contrast, each and every one of us individuals is destined to die.



t is true we must courageously confront evil with every moral fiber of our being, dependent on the inspired grace of God.  Yet we are promised salvation and eternal life if only we follow Jesus’ example and directive, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”  We are all sinners but redeemed, as we join with Him in his mercy, even at point of death by execution, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

There are supremacist ideologies that must be combated with all our heart and soul.  For hatred is weak love, as Thomas Merton said, and reserves for itself privatized idolatries.  God’s love welcomes all.  The beloved community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is showing us the way—forgiveness, and putting away the swords of weapons and hatred. 

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  --  Dr. Martin Luther King

Lorraine Hotel, Memphis, TN, on day Martin Luther King was assassinated, April 4, 1968


And in the NYT 6-20-15
“The occasion was a bond hearing, the first court appearance of the suspect, Dylann Roof, for the murders, thought to be racially motivated, of nine black men and women during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.
It was as if the Bible study had never ended as one after another, victims’ family members offered lessons in forgiveness, testaments to a faith that is not compromised by violence or grief. They urged him to repent, confess his sins and turn to God.”  Full story of forgiveness at this site --
 Be Not Afraid


Pope Francis has just released his encyclical on the need for justice and truth, as we respect our environment, our planet earth, and the rights of the world's poor.   Please take time, and begin to read and pray, here -- http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney