Posted in Musings

Nameless – A Not So Modest Proposal For Peace

In our headlong rush to know, perhaps to understand, to be the first to break the breaking news of who or what did the breaking, we give the violent ones the public podium they so covet.

Ms. Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, got it so very right.

“He shall remain nameless.”

So then, let the media, social, anti-social, or otherwise, do the same;

Refuse to publicize the name or names of the person, persons, or group, who are the alleged perpetrators.

Mental health professionals. Church leaders. The intelligence community. The authorities.

They can know. They can do their best to understand, to bring healing, to bring justice, to prevent a reoccurrence.

The rest of us do not need to know the name(s).

We do not need to feed like carrion crows at the carcass of another senseless act of violence.

We do not need to know every bloody detail.

We do not need to be driven like cattle into a constant state of fear.

And we do not need to know the perpetrator(s) name(s).

Let them remain nameless.

And in the emptiness perhaps will be the growing seed of lasting peace.

Posted in Musings

Holy Week – Church Burning

I too mourn the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

I too sing Ave Maria with the thousands gathered in tears around the sight.

But where is the mourning for the black churches burning throughout the South – eight sacred places gutted since 2014?

Where are the thousands of witnesses gathered around these fires crying, singing Lift Every Voice and Sing?

A cathedral burns.

It is live streamed to millions around the world.

It will be on the news for days.

A black church burns.

The world turns
its ash streaked face away.

Posted in Longreads & Essays

The Not So Wicked Bible (or the Worship of Prince Baalberith)

A MIDWEEK ESSAY

In 1611, Barker and Lucas, the royal printers in London, published what was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. There was one major omission. In one of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:14 which should have read “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the not was omitted. The printed passage read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Needless to say the printers got into big trouble and most copies of the Bible were destroyed.

I find the story ironic in two ways. Based on current statistics, it seems that the mistaken commandment in the Wicked Bible is the one that is being followed. Polygamy is still being practiced, only now it is done so in secretive and illicit affairs. Pornography, sex trafficking, and prostitution continue to feed insatiable lusts. The Church continues to be so obsessed with sex that other principles are not emphasized with equal importance.

Which brings me to my second point. Would there have been as big an uproar if the printers had omitted not from verse 13 so that it would have read “Thou shalt kill?” I don’t know. But for all practical purposes in this day and age we act as though the “not” does not exist.

We continue to glorify killing through incessant media broadcasts of tragedy that feed our insatiable appetite for such. We justify killing through our continuous need to be engaged in one “Holy War” after another. The two are not unrelated. For when we approve of killing in any form we create an opening for that spirit to be present in our society. The murders and violent tragedies so prevalent among us are a direct result of our justification of killing through war and other “accepted” means. There are those among us who have more compassion for the unborn than for those birthed and living.

My friends, this must not be so. Thou shalt not kill. Period. We must close the portal that allows such things to invade our society. We must defeat the Red Horseman, Prince Baalberith, and his legions.

We can do so only through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Originally posted October 21, 2011

Posted in Poems

I Come To Work In Borrowed Clothes

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I come to work in borrowed clothes
With face unshaven
Body washed, but not perfumed
Unadorned and entombed
In this angry earth and her grinding groans.

What is real becomes the stuff of dreams
Nightmare voices resurrected
Ears behind the three day stubble
Strain the silence from the rubble
Of a hundred hearts bursting at the seams.

Babel towers have crumbled down to dust
We are not gods
Just mere mortals armed with precious pride
Where love is lost is truth denied
My God, My God, why hast thou now forsaken us?

Were I to wrend these stranger clothes
Like some temple curtain
Grief would fit so unfamiliar
On feeble frames of we peculiar
Creatures, broken bodies lying naked and exposed.

We sit safe at table, you and I
Hear the smack
We arise from bread and wine and go to the window
To find a frozen finch robed in yellow
And see those fiery crosses crashing forever in our minds.

Crucify. Crucify. Crucify.
Lord, is it I?
Is it I?

Written on September 12, 2001

Posted in 490 Words

Forgiveness Is An Unending Circle

Most are aware of the tragic shooting of Amish school girls in Lancaster County, PA in October 2006 and perhaps many have heard of the Amish’s gracious response to the tragedy. I found the excerpt below to be well written so I include it here:

In the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn’t cast blame, they didn’t point fingers, they didn’t hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer’s family.

The afternoon of the shooting an Amish grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness toward the killer, Charles Roberts. That same day Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain.

Later that week the Roberts family was invited to the funeral of one of the Amish girls who had been killed. And Amish mourners outnumbered the non-Amish at Charles Roberts’ funeral.

It’s ironic that the killer was tormented for nine years by the premature death of his young daughter. He never forgave God for her death. Yet, after he cold-bloodily shot 10 innocent Amish school girls, the Amish almost immediately forgave him and showed compassion toward his family. http://www.800padutch.com/amishforgiveness.shtml

And forgiveness has a way of coming full circle.

Terri Roberts, the mother of Charles Roberts, has found peace in the midst of her pain at her first-born’s anger at God and the horrible actions her son committed. She spends her days caring for her son’s most injured victim yet alive – an 11 year old girl who is paralyzed. Each week, Terri bathes the girl, brushes her hair, talks to her and sings hymns.

As she says: “As we reach out in ways that bring a touch, we can find great healing.”

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-29/amish-schoolhouse-shooting/50609184/1

Originally posted February 2012

Posted in Game and Media Reviews

Call of Dooky

Pardon the potty talk. I guess I’m regressing back to prepubescence.

But I am annoyed and I don’t mean that goofy character that threatens Domino’s pizzas.

It’s Sunday and as is typical, the paper is filled with store inserts. And it seems every insert has Call of Duty on the front page. Best Buy is the worst. There are three phones, a laptop, and a game console on the first page – every single one with the same puke green Call of Duty wall paper. I guess the idea is that you can play the game everywhere. Yuk!

I write a peace blog so I’ve got more than a few issues with a militaristic first person shooter especially this particular franchise which pushes just about every single one of my pacifistic buttons. Talk about being “depressed.”

I express my annoyance to my teenage son who is growing more receptive to my media maddened rants. He says that pretty much everyone he knows has the game. He’s getting used to not being allowed to play certain games that his friends and family members can. But I’ll be honest with you. It gets old being a parent trying to buck the current – and the current trend.

I mean the game is rated M, as in MATURE. Hello! So for the parents who seem to be unaware of what M means here is a little info. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rates video games similar to the way movies are rated. According to the ESRB website:

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Hmm. Delightful. I definitely want my child putting his fingers in that stuff. Psych! Sarcasm aside, just for comparison sake, that is similar to an NC-17 movie. In both the video game and movie rating system there is only one rating higher – A (Adult).

If it wasn’t so sad, I would be fascinated by the phenomenon where some parents will allow their children to play M video games and yet not allow them to watch NC-17 movies. But perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe parents are allowing their children to do both. I don’t know. I mean we are so inundated with media these days, how do we keep track? Quite frankly, I look around and I see a lot of parents who seem to have given up and a lot of kids without the necessary boundaries for healthy growth. That is why I write this blog.

So I’ve said my peace. I’m starting to calm down now.

Then my son shows me something else. There on page one down in the lower right corner is another advertisement for earbuds. But these are not ordinary earbuds – they are a tell tale green color and shaped like bullets. Yep, you guessed it. Now you can own your very own Call of Duty earbuds. I guess they make the explosions sound better.

But I suspect they are mainly to keep kids from hearing an alternative voice of peace.

And parents from having to be that voice.

November 10, 2011

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Twitter Incites Brawl – Toward Forward-Looking Sociotechnological Praxis

When email first came out there were many instances of people hitting “send” in a fit of rage and regretting the mouse click later. Such technological remorse continues to occur today. With the public, instantaneous nature of modern technology it is easy to lose sight that our words, whether via blog, email, or twitter, can incite violence or encourage peace.

This was made particularly relevant in a brawl that occurred between the Xavier and Cincinnati basketball teams. Before the game, players from Cincinnati called out players from Xavier via twitter. This set the stage for a competitive game between cross-town rivals to morph into a fist-flying, foot-stomping gang bang. While there is plenty of blame to go around from undisciplined coaches to unsupervised athletes, it is important to reiterate that words regardless of their medium have the power to hurt or heal.

There are many who feel that our technology is fast out-pacing our moral capacity to handle it. A mathematical way of putting this could be: Is the amount of time and energy we are putting into developing our moral capacity equal to or greater than the amount of research, development, and time spent with new technologies?

In an essay entitled “Children of Invention,” Morton Winston, a professor of philosophy at the College of New Jersey and a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, wrestles with this question:

“The fact that a particular device or technology, is available for human use does not, by itself imply that we ought to adopt and use that technology, nor does it tell us how the technology should or should not be used. We can and do make moral judgments concerning the various sociotechnological practices associated with different products of technology. We accept some uses as morally legitimate, find others morally questionable or problematic, and we take steps to restrict or out law certain other uses to which these devices may be put.

Moral reasons are those that involve ethical principles governing notions such as fairness, justice, equality, duty, obligation, responsibility and various kinds of rights. In most ethical decisions, such reasons contend with other nonmoral reasons for actions based on prudence or self-interest, efficiency, and economy. From the moral point of view, ethical reasons ought always override nonmoral reasons for action.

As individuals, we are the consumers and users of the products of technology in our everyday lives; as workers or students, we belong to and participate in institutions or organizations whose policies and practices can affect our health and well-being; and as citizens, we all must be concerned about the ethical issues we face because of modern technology.

Many potential threats to human well-being have been identified, and others no doubt soon will be. Understanding these problems requires a level of scientific and technological literacy that few of our children are achieving in standard curricula.

The notion of responsibility that we need to cultivate is not the backward-looking notion of responsibility as liability, which seeks to allocate blame for past harms, but the forward-looking sense of responsibility in which each of us and every organization and institution “takes responsibility” for future generations of humans and the nonhuman species with whom we share this planet. This notion of social responsibility, although it is voluntary and discretionary, places real demands on us as individuals and members of communities and requires that we think carefully about the decisions and choices that we make.”

While the use of twitter by young men to incite a brawl may not rise to the moral implications of the use of other technology, like for instance the nuclear bomb, it is a reminder that any technology however small is only as “good” as the human who uses it and that we must have the moral capacity to use it responsibly and wisely if at all.

December 2011

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

The Attraction of Violent Distraction

Another missile strike
Another million likes
So addicted to action
And violent distraction
Hear the spin at the mic

Short attention span
Emperor without a plan
When in trouble
Reduce to rubble
Some distant foreign land

War drums are beating
Emperor is tweeting
But the lesson of history
Is really no mystery
Violence is self defeating

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

A Simple Dictation

Beware the inundation of constant media information

And the infatuation with the news of the nation,

The incessant narration of conservative elation

And the thorough summation of progressive vexation.

My inclination is already towards stagnation

And such relentless intonation is a kind of mindless sedation.

It is time for a cessation of this duration of dictation

To an activation out of reflective contemplation,

Not some knee jerk oration to another illucid quotation.

Confrontation and demonstration should arise out of meditation

And the transformation that comes from a preoccupation with the Incarnation.