Monday, February 25, 2013


{from an April 27, 2009 letter to National Public Radio}
Thank you for your insightful 4-27-09 NPR report that included Pakistan’s reaction to the U.S. use of Predator drones in their country.  The claim was made by a former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, that our drone attacks increase the public support and power of the Taliban in Pakistan.  We in the U.S. should understand why this may be so.  In this part of the Muslim world, honor is often more important than life itself.  Our automated battle tactic is a source of shame.

In our classic cowboy movies, our stars Ronald Reagan and John Wayne would have been appalled at the dishonor of “shooting the bad guy in the back” by machine without warning--without the courage of meeting the enemy face to face.  These drones operate like a hanging judge and lynch mob made mechanical.  The condemned may be terrorists who have sent out suicide bombers who’ve killed also with appalling dishonor—or perhaps the drone’s victims are mothers and children.  The intelligence of the CIA may, or may not, have been accurate.  But as my conservative Republican father has repeated many times: two wrongs never make a right.

That does not matter to the killer drones.   It has to matter to the people of the U.S., or we become a chief perpetrator of terrorism technology ourselves—against the Pakistani nation, in the eyes of the world, and in our own hardened hearts.         Yours truly, Michael McCarthy


From first use in Iraq & Afghanistan, to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other places little mentioned,  these airborne droids are on a roll, even into our own friendly skies {thus far for surveillance only}.

There is still some current debate about our use of lethal drones, but the necessity of ever more sophisticated weapons of war, and war itself, despite the inevitable deaths of the innocent, is never doubted.

A perpetual Cold War on Terror.  We keep Le Guin’s abused child {see previous Weekly} in a terrible closet, because we won’t answer the Gospel call to be peacemakers.  This closet is cramped and miserable, yet extends all over the world.  It’s built by our consumer society and maintained by our war industry—the suffering of the innocent protects our way of life.

Drones may or may not give a more distant, precise killing, and thereby “save lives” but this presumed success promotes increasing reliance on these facile death machines.  We should know better.  Basic humanity recoils at their shameful devious impunity.  Who orders death by drone, and on what factual basis?  Who knows precisely who needs to die by remote control?  The accusers never have to face the accused, they just blow them away by intercontinental button push.

The drones are a psychic echo of that despicable floating killer robot dispatched from the death star of the Evil Empire, trying to kill Luke Skywalker on the ice planet.  It was so easy to understand in that Star Wars movie.  Why don’t we recognize the evil when it becomes one of our U.S. government’s major foreign policy tools?

Slate Magazine’s 2-21-13 article is subtitled, “Drones, war, and civilian casualties - How unmanned aircraft reduce collateral damage.”
Slate, 10-18-12,  Drones attacks in Libya - An unprecedented expansion of presidential power.

 The detached use of this technology is not without personal consequence.
here were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'"
                                                Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, May 2, 2003 {Pope Benedict XVI}

Let us pray, at this time of choosing the next pope,  that the Holy Spirit continues to enlighten our church to open its doors and windows fully to God’s unconditional, nonviolent, merciful love. 

More of my droning on drones.

Monday, February 18, 2013


A good part of my early grade school years were spent in a small Minneapolis bungalow home at the end of a city road of such homes that ran into a blacktop playground, and an open field.  It was an idyllic place I thought, and summer-winter we four kids were long hours outside {giving some peace to our mother}.  Yet we did spend a fair amount of time in the cement-floored basement, two center support polls, couch in between them facing a black & white TV on the far cinder block wall {where I’d watched my first politics, something about Senator Estes Kefauver and I Like Ike}.

At night a dream would sometimes come, confining me in that basement with a grey ghost-like, no more than an floating sheet--but in fast pursuit of me in what was usually my round-and-round the polls roller skates path.  It would then become a desperate dash to avoid doom.  Each time round it gained.  How could I be moving so incredibly slow and stiff?  Finally I’d dive into the space under the stairs, and curl myself as small as I could.  This was no safety—there was the hot-cold vibrating assurance that the specter would soon be upon me. 

hen I’d remember at last minute the only escape possible.  Grabbing both eyelids firmly I’d pull them up.  Not instantaneously, but like scales falling from before me, I’d see the dark threat dissolve.  Eyes wide open I’d be awake, fear subsiding, my surroundings focused in as they were really supposed to be—the truth I expected, even though just the faint images of my darkened bedroom.  My heart and breathing settled back again to normal, and gradually I’d go back to sleep—somehow not bad-dreaming again that night.
This specific nightmare re-appeared a number of times.  Eyelid evasive action continued to work—but not until after a desperate chase, and finally cornered.  Would that the specter of politics and death, still plaguing our cities and countries across the globe, could be so abruptly vanquished.  Yet, only a child's solution.

{written in the middle of a January 2013 near-sleepless night}
Illumination by Kathy Brahney


 Photo by Autumn Lopez
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  I Cor 13:11-12

The short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula Le Guin tells of the misery of one confined abused child as the necessary requirement for the happy lives of all the rest in a great, informed bountiful country.  Our adult task is to discern where those that walk away are walking towards, and how to get there.

Monday, February 11, 2013


AmeriCorps volunteers at work
I helped assure, along with others {especially Al’s* hesitant but willing-to-give-her-kid-a-chance mom}, Al’s final steps in boarding a plane to begin a year’s AmeriCorps service. His success made me feel grateful.  Al had persisted for over a year through a laborious application process, with few resources, and at stalemate with his high school graduation {despite good support from alternative school staff.}  His medical problems had held him back in the past, and he would much rather have gone east to the AmeriCorps training center by train bus or car.  Yet he’d made the flight, and now confronts the good daily problems of getting to know his team-mates, and who gets the top bunk.
         * Name changed.
Then thinking back on my own 19 year-old efforts to be of service, I remember the kindness, support, and beatnik courage of Fr. Joe {his brother was part owner of Ann Arbor’s first real coffee house, gathering place for 50’s--60’s critical thinkers, right across from the Quad}.  Fr. Joe had been transferred north of Detroit to a migrant mission parish in 1966, and invited me to help with youth ministry in the town and the migrant camps.  We’d met when I was in my first year of college at Sacred Heart Seminary, moderator of a Young Christian Students group at his parish on the Eastside.  He’d been recruited by his global-minded bishop to learn Spanish, and the small group {comunidades de base} church movement, in Puerto Rico.
 June 4, 1972--Fr. Joe gives bread to Cesar Chavez ending his 24-day Fast for Justice -- photo by Glen Pearcy
Now he was my financial and spiritual mentor making it possible for me to enter a new larger world—a world unexplainable without actually living in it months on end.  Fr. Joe, and many others in the camps, made it possible for me to have more than four summers with Mexican-American farmworkers—changed my life, and is still changing.  The experience has given me passable Spanish language, and the knowledge that one can live with less—unlocking new culture doors as I became a Physicians Assistant, and providing invaluable skills for managing life in breakneck U.S. consumer society.

Helped an AFSC group while at St. Nicholas migrant mission

t’s my time, at 65, to look for the ways to open paths for young people, opportunities that envision a more inclusive, just world.  AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, City Year, American Friends Service Committee, Pax Christi USA, Habitat for Humanity, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, a myriad of church mission activities here and abroad.   The list is yet longer, but almost unknown to exist.  Serve your community and country without learning the method of the assault rifle.  All these require time and money to enlist in.  Unlike the military, there is no phalanx of recruiters to guide your way.

 “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” was assassinated in 1963.   Our county’s unflagging dedication to war upon war has clipped the wings of the Peace Corps, the hopes of the developing world, and our own children’s access to a complete, creative education.  But as Al overcame his fear of flying, and starts AmeriCorps service, another eagle has landed, dropping the arrows from its talons, ready to help build the planet with liberty and justice for all. May God bless his fledgling efforts, and may we support those of millions more.                  
Illumination by Kathey Brahney

From Ande's Valentine creation sent to me in 1978 -- a loving "bowl of warm fuzzies" I forever hold dear.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


In our country there is a choice to be made: Second Amendment {right to bear arms}, or Fifth Commandment {one of 10 rules for right living}.  There is the Constitution, and there is the Creator of the Universe, who said “Thou shalt not kill.” This was God’s command through Moses to His unruly people who’d tried to replace God with a Golden Calf.  This order of the Covenant was then perfected by the gift of His only Son Jesus who said not only not to kill, but to love the enemy, and when facing the violent confrontation of threatened death late at night in Gesthemane’s garden—commanded his followers to put away the sword.
Right relationship? Bible to be opened, read, prayed, and taken to heart for answer to become clear.
You can believe in the power of the redeeming nonviolent merciful love of Jesus, or the violent power of the nation state.  There is a choice to be made.   A nation has for its overwhelming directive, its own survival, at any cost.  The overwhelming character of God revealed in Jesus is unconditional love and mercy.  Salvation is assured and survival eclipsed, made irrelevant. We have only to turn to Jesus--His way of living to serve, instead of to dominate.
Miracle at Cana--from windows at St Joseph Church, Port Huron--photo by Rick Ramales
To enter heaven we have to become like little children, not valiant warriors.  Here is a prayer we said with our children growing up.  It asks Jesus’s mother Mary, La Virgen de Guadalupe, for help in our need, and help to follow her last words to us in Scripture—“Do whatever He tells you.” 

Holy card by Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy -- obverse has image of Virgen de Guadalupe
And in Spanish ---
Santa María de Guadalupe, señal del Poder y La Misericordia, no hecha por manos humanos, tu, que estas levantada por La Sabiduría de Dios, al centro de las Américas, en la tilma milagrosa para que todos los de la América puedan verte, le pedimos  a tu Hijito, curar la mordedura  de la serpiente ardiente que quiere destruir  nuestro cuerpo y nuestra  alma.
Mientras, mirándote  a ti, Madre de lo Imposible, te pedimos quitar nuestras aflicciones, como tu quitaste las enfermedades del tío de Juan Diego, para que la victoria sobre ellas, puedan testificar el Amor de Dios, el Poder de Dios, y el camino de Vida de Jesús, El Cristo.
Querida, cariñosa Señora de Guadalupe, nos arrepentimos de todo los pensamientos, palabras y obras que no habían sido según la Vía que Jesús nos enseña, dar  la Vida—el Sermón del Monte.  Prometemos, tratar sinceramente seguir tus ultimas palabras en el Evangelio:  “Hagan lo que Él les diga.”
Ahora, Clemente, Madre de Humanidad, quien está mas  profundamente unida en Cristo Dios, que intercedes con tu Hijo, para que escuches   los gritos de nuestro pequeño corazón 
(Aquí se hace la petición)
Virgen Inmaculada de Guadalupe, mientras  miramos tu rostro de bronce, por favor danos La Paz, con  una mirada de Amor, una sonrisa del Paraíso, un beso curativa de Dios.
                                                        Gracias – Amen
                                                        Salve María......
                                                        Toda Santa Trinidad,
                                                        Ten piedad de nosotros.
Escrito por Padre Emanuel Charles McCarthy
Trad. por Padre José G. Herrera Alcala.
An interesting book that explores the deep hold violence has on humanity, and the hope for change.
Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads,   ByGil Bailie
Available at libraries, and Amazon