Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanks for September 11 Truth

          I strongly suspect that two years from now, a lot more people will know more truth about what really happened on September 11, 2001, than know now.  It is even possible that that knowledge will become mainstrain; even majority knowledge.  It is possible.

       But even if my prediction does not come true, I want to take the opportunity right now to thank the citizen heroes who did what it took to open my own eyes to the reality behind one of the most historic events of my time.  Though I find that knowledge personally horrifying in several ways, I am thankful that I know.

       The order in which I will list these people is not important; but their names and their contributions are of very great importance.

       Thanks to Dr. Stephen Jones, who discovered, and demonstrated, that the North Tower and the South Tower of the World Trade Center were intentionally brought down by pre-planted explosives, and not by the fires that were caused by the impacts of the airliners themselves.  His training as a metallurgist, and his meticulous integrity developed over a lifetime of research, enabled him not only to show that the "twin towers" were brought down by controlled demolition, but to precisely identify the chemical agent used, from analysis of the dust and debris at "ground zero."   It was thermite, an explosive which is commonly used in situations in the building demolitions industry where it is desirable to "drop" a building on its own footprint.

       Thanks to Dr. James Fetzer and his organization, Scholars For 9/11 Truth, for trying to develop a comprehensive view of what happened, and what may have happened.  His differences with the viewpoint of Dr. Stephen Jones are significant but, in my view, minor and to be expected.  When serious-minded individuals try to understand a complex event, and must face relentless obstruction from the government and the media, with limited resources, they are going to follow different trails and emphasize the significance of different things, at least until more of the hidden facts and relationships can be uncovered.

       Thanks to author Webster Tarpley for his excellent book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In USA.  His broad historical perspective and long experience as a writer of political matters provides essential context.  He has a wealth of information, and interesting insights, and maintains a website here.

       Thanks to Dr. David Ray Griffin, professor of philosophy and theology, who has written important books on the subject, including The New Pearl Harbor, and Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? both of which I have read and highly recommend.  I recently had the opportunity to meet him in person at a lecture here in Louisville on what is called "9/11 Truth."  What a good, careful student, teacher, and thinker.

       Thanks to Dylan Avery,  Korey Rowe, and Jason Bermas, the young men who produced the documentary Loose Change.  You can read about it here and see it here.

       Thanks to William Rodriguez, who was in the ground floor of North Tower when the first explosion hit on that day -- in the basement below him.  Thanks to him for being willing to tell what he knows, although it totally flies in the face of the official media story.

       Thanks to Alex Jones for helping to organize a 9/11 truth seminar in Los Angeles in 2006.  Thanks to my good friend, Dr. Mike Bennett (Dr. Future), for making sure that I joined him in attending that important event.

       Thanks to many other citizens who have stepped forward to participate in the investigation and the movement, including Lt. Col. Robert Bowman, Jimmy Walker, Charlie Sheen, Ray McGovern, Col. Robert Ray, and hundreds more.

       These people are the real deal -- they are people who are risking their reputations and their friendships for what they know and believe.  I admire them all and consider myself their debtor.

       When, in 2006,  I finally got a clear idea of what had really happened on that day that is said to have "changed everything,"  I honestly felt embarrassed that I had been so greatly fooled for so long.  (After all, I already knew about the John Kennedy murder-cover up.)  It was somewhat comforting and reassuring to find out that many other people, some of them very highly placed professionals, had taken just as long to "see it."

       And I'm thankful for what I would call a second wave of truth seekers -- people who are catching on right now, and those who will do so in the coming months.  Together, we can further act on what we know.

       I now know that "9/11" did not "change everything."  But suddenly realizing the truth about what happened, and considering what was set in motion, and examining what is going on today -- that maybe could change everything.  Well, not everything; but a whole lot.

*       *       *

       Comments welcome.  How did you finally figure it out, and whom do you owe for helping you through the process of realizing it?

       Do you want to mention some important websites?

       Or, if you think I am discussing fantasies here, hop in with your reasons.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

AntiWar Dot Com on Afghan Civilian Deaths

       The news today is that the US Marines are not taking reports of Afghan civilian deaths seriously.  In an article by Jason Ditz posted on AntiWar.Com, the local Marine commander is quoted as saying that the Taliban are to blame for  "every single instance" of a civilian casualty in the district.   Read the whole article at their website today.

        The irresponsibility of the US military, and the conservative religious establishment that unctiously "prays" for them, is revolting.  I'll say it again:  Don't blame Obama.  As with the old Walt Disney propaganda cartoons from World War II, your government wants to tell you, "This is your war."  Fine, it's your war. 

       It's not mine.  I opposed it, and the mindless, frightened "patriotism"*  that nourished it, from the beginning.

       * "Patriotism" is apparently a registered trademark of the CIA, and its paid hacks in corporate media.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Murder of John Kennedy: A Citizen's Lessons

      "Treason doth never prosper; here's the reason: for if it prosper, none dare call it treason." -- John Harington.

       Several important historical lessons can be drawn from the murder, in 1963, of President John Kennedy.  Here is the first and perhaps most important lesson, for people who want to learn from history:

       First lesson:  Don't trust the historians, especially the court historians.
       The great majority of historians who have written about this crime have simply followed the flawed conclusion of the Warren Commission, a group of political insiders who were appointed by President Lyndon Johnson for the express purpose of protecting the "national security" of the United States.  Their conclusion was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted completely alone.

       As the central thesis of the Warren Report has completely unraveled in subsequent years, the historians, with few exceptions, have simply closed ranks and refused to acknowledge contradictory factual evidence whenever and wherever it has emerged.  Even if the historians can be forgiven for following the government line in the early days after the murder, it is difficult to excuse the willful blindness they have demonstrated in the decades that have followed.  It is even more difficult to excuse their vicious hostility towards anyone who seriously questions the official story line.  Is not history a quest for truth -- an attempt to ascertain the true facts, and the true meaning, of what happened?  Only to a few.

       Corollary to the first lesson: the popular American media, including newsprint, broadcast, and publishing industry, all function as court historians.  Don't trust the popular media.

       This is not meant as a direct slam against all reporters and writers: some of them have considerable integrity.   But the stubborn realities they face are these: . . . Life is too busy . . . media people are too busy . . . media people like to keep their jobs . . . most reporters and investigators are not themselves the gatekeepers . . . it is easy to follow other, safer priorities . . . it is somewhere between hard and impossible to fight the establishment on its own media turf . . .  etc.

       But however it is, at the end of the day you can't afford to put much faith in the institutional media.


       I am going to pause in my argument to say this:  I am not in this essay going to try to make the case for who killed President Kennedy, or why, or how, and here are the reasons why I am not:

       First of all, many if not most of the readers of this blog will already know a great deal about the who-why-and-how of that particular crime.  I need not review it for them.

       Secondly, the evidence is too voluminous for me to summarize here.  I cannot begin to do it here, and I shall not try.

       Thirdly, I don't feel like dealing with either a libel lawyer or government agents.  I am not a reporter; I am not a private investigator; and I am not in law enforcement; and I do not have access to their sources.  I will defer to the courageous men and women who have spent many years addressing the matter, and publishing their findings against very effective opposition.  If this whole business is new to you, you can begin your research by tracking down information provided by Fletcher Prouty, Mark Lane, and Jim Marrs.  They will, in turn, lead you to cast your net wider as you seek to understand this strange, complex event.   Your own due diligence will be very rewarding and convincing to you personally.

       Suffice it to say, it was not Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone.  It was probably not Lee Harvey Oswald at all.

       Now let's go back to the main line of thought. 

       Second lesson:  Don't trust the professional experts; ask for the real experts. 

       The problem with the professional experts is not that they are experts; it is that they are professional.  They are experts for money, and that is a very dangerous kind of expertise.  For one thing, it only gets paid for answers; and the temptation is, if you don't have real answers, you make them up.  Or you check with the people who are paying you for the answers.  Happens in courts of law all the time.  Happens in business all the time.  Happens in Congress all the time.  Happens in science plenty often.   Hey, it can even happen in church, can't it?   

       The real experts to trust on anything important are the intelligent little people who consider themselves amateurs.  They may "love the truth;" or they may be simply curious.  It's okay; trust them.  But this leads me directly to the next thing.

       Second corollary:  Even with the real experts, be careful.  

       Be careful, because these amateur investigators are not omniscient.  They have made more progress than you or I, but they don't know nearly everything.  They are working on a very difficult puzzle; or even only part of the puzzle.  They are working on very incomplete information; they make mistakes.  In the words of Ronald Reagan, "Trust, but verify."

       And be careful, because there really is a very sophisticated "national security" establishment.  They do actually employ disinformation specialists.  They pretend to be truth-seekers, but they mix fact with fiction in order to discredit the real investigators.  So that when exposed to unpleasant facts, you or I will be expected to join in with a sneer, "They're all just conspiracy theories."     

       Which leads right up to the third lesson.

       Third lesson:  Never trust the national security establishment -- never.

       They live to deceive; it is what they are paid to do, full time.   Your state of confusion, and mine, is their life's work.  They dream up violent incidents.  They hire agents provocateurs.  They pit people against each other.  You doubt this?  Start studying the history of "COINTELPRO."  Or google on  "operation gladio italian president."  If you are close to my age, prepare to have your view of history greatly rearranged.  Greatly.  Rearranged.  

       Think beyond the acronyms you have heard of -- CIA, DIA, FBI, NRO, NSA, TSA, KGB, GRU, MI5, MI6. What of the acronyms you haven't heard of?  What about the people who don't need acronyms?

       Do not trust them.  They have a great deal to hide -- intrigues, betrayals, insurrections, wars, cabals, horrible weapons, treacheries, treasons, murders, entrapments, double- and triple-crosses, assassinations, coups d'etat.  They simply cannot afford to suddenly "admit all," or "come clean."  Not in this lifetime.

       Fourth lesson:  Do not trust either the bureacrats, or the elected politicians.  

       Your average bureaucrat or elected politician is actually a decent, honorable person, contrary to the usual criticism we heap upon them.  But before long, they find that the system is stacked against honesty, accountability, and good work.   They find that there is a real but shadowy cabal that uses government operations to mask enormous theft and fraud.  It is out to control its turf, and keep its scam going.  

       It makes sure that both the civil servants and the elected politicians know enough to become frustrated and frightened; it wants them to know that it is there and it is dangerous.  It wants them to learn to be cautious.  They have every reason and right to respond this way, because they have learned the fifth lesson.

       Fifth lesson:  There are some really, really bad dudes out there, and they are organized.

       And they are very, very well connected.  And they are not your basic drug dealer, mafia punk, or corrupt businessman, the favorite bad-guys of Hollywood.  They take down presidents and generals; they frighten CIA chiefs.  They bypass "national security."  No joke.  Do your own homework and see if I exaggerate.  Study, for example, the life and death of William Colby.

       So, if the politicians and the bureaucrats are afraid of these guys, who is going to expose them?  This leads us directly to the following corollary.
       Corollary to the fifth lesson: It is best to stop ridiculing the truth-seekers, and start paying attention to what they are saying.

       The people who seek the truth tend to find it.  The people who ridicule them prefer lies -- I think that this mindset is dangerous.  There will always be people who care more about the truth than you or I do; and know more.  Let's admit that we need to learn, and pay attention to what they are telling us.

       This helps us understand the somewhat paradoxical sixth lesson.

       Sixth lesson:  Learn to trust people; the lower they are on any totem pole, the better.

       There are good people everywhere.  Smart; honest; friendly.  Trust them; listen to them; learn from them; help them.   People, as people, can often be trusted, even when people as institutional people cannot.

       And even trust your elected politicians, at whatever level, over the wizards behind the curtain who seek to control them.  The guys in the limelight often have some sense of public accountability; the wizards most certainly do not.  Of course, that is just my opinion.

       Just my opinion supported by the facts of history.  The higher you go in any hierarchical system, the more you are likely to run into power centers that attract killers and traitors -- real blood-on-the-floor types.  It is the rule, not the exception, in America.  Since when?  Since always.

       We are living in very serious times. In terms of personal danger, I think we are just about equivalent to Germany in late 1940. I acknowledge that there are some differences; but there are similarities.

       Germany in late 1940 and America in late 2010 are this far alike: 
    -- each has had militarism for several years; 
    -- there has been some serious bloodshed, but beyond our frontiers; 
    -- we freshly remember the cowardly, terroristic attack of the "enemy" several years on the national symbols in our capital city;
    -- the war has been serious, but things have died down a little;
    -- there is a small but serious proxy war on the edge of the empire that is not going well; this fuels a desire for a new military lunge to re-establish prestige; 
    -- there is a well-established, growing Gestapo, that is going out of its way to incite fear in law-abiding citizens; 
    -- we think we are fighting for our very survival against people who are out to destroy us; 
    -- our citizenry have been well conditioned to trust anything that appeals to a sense of national superiority and exceptionalism.  
    -- we are still sure that we are the greatest and the goodest; and we know that we deserve to succeed.

       Seventh lesson:  We are being pushed toward war by elements firmly lodged within our national government, as we were at the time of President Kennedy's death.

       Don't assume that you or those you love are going to get through this unscathed.

       But we may hope and pray that we shall.  Develop your own loving, caring, friendly, intelligent, helpful network.  We are all around each other.  

       Seek peace, and pursue it.  Do not be seduced by any call to war.  I guarantee that if it comes, it will be fought against the wrong people for the wrong reason.  That's easy: it already is.
*       *       *

       Comments welcome, pro and con. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Amnesia, Atrocity, and The War Prayer

       I remember the first time I read Mark Twain's famous opus, "The War Prayer."  Well, it was famous to some people; actually, I had never heard of it. (If you haven't read it recently, or ever, you can find it here.)  It was shown to me by one of my college friends, a fun-loving, informed, committed member of the 60s campus left, and I am indebted to him for many things.  But friend or not, I can remember to this day my own reaction when I read it for the first time:  What business did Mark Twain have writing that?  I had known he was a cynic (someone had told me), but I thought he was an all-American.  It was practically traitorous.  It was true that Vietnam, the necessary war against communism, was dragging badly, but the righteousness of the cause was not in doubt . . .  What was my friend suggesting, saying, insinuating, by getting me to read this?

       I was one of those people Mark Twain mentioned at the end of the piece, and I think that even at the time I sensed it: "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic; because there was no sense in what he said."

       Mark Twain makes a lot more sense to me now.

       I remember the first time I heard about Gore Vidal.  I knew he was a liberal (someone told me), and I further knew that one of my heroes, the conservative columnist Bill Buckley, famously didn't like him; and that was enough for me.  Well, I got to hear Gore Vidal for myself a while back (on the Internet, of course), where he talks about "the United States of Amnesia."  He is referring to a nation of people who forget everything that happened before last Monday morning. Well, he may or may not be a liberal, but he sure nailed that one.  You can find lots of his interviews on YouTube, and judge for yourself.   Let me just say that I find him very interesting.  Uncomfortable, too, like Mark Twain.

       History shows us that Americans especially like to be amnesiac about the atrocities committed by Americans in whatever war is under discussion.  It is an old weakness.  Back in the early 1800s, folks didn't like to hear about General Jackson cutting off the noses of 557 Creek Indians; they just wanted to know that Old Hickory had won the war.  They didn't want to hear about Phil Sheridan and the Washita massacre, they just wanted to settle the West. And to this day they don't want to hear how the US Army under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt wiped out thousands upon thousands of Filipino soldiers and many tens of thousands of civilians.  But there was a noble cause: it was in order to bring the "gospel" to our "little brown brothers."  Do you think that the Lord of All Worlds is proud of this?  (By the way, it is one of the wars where the US military perfected waterboarding.  So if somebody wants to defend this particular custom as an old American military tradition, I must bow to the undisputed facts and admit that they are right.)

       In my own youth, it was the war in Vietnam, conceived in CIA stupidity (collusion with both communists and old colonialists) and born in a military lie (the faked incident in the Gulf of Tonkin); the burdens to be borne by young, poor men -- many of them idealistic, but most of them simply drafted against their will; cheered on by their silly, or gullible, or helpless parents; abandoned, at the last, by the higher echelons of America's political class (the same elite "internationalist" intelligentsia that masterminded the Korean war from unnecessary start to ugly midgame to inconclusive finish); but not before The Powers That Be had shattered the Vietnamese peasantry, and toppled the dominoes into mass murders in Cambodia and Laos as well.

       Atrocities are in the nature of war.  Maybe not in all wars -- maybe there are "just wars" -- but we can indisputably document that a series of atrocities have been the norm in most American wars.

       But I will agree that there is a difference this time:  the Vietnam war was started by an administration of liberal Democrats, and perpetuated by the support of conservative Republicans.  The current wars in the Near East were started by an administration of conservative Republicans and perpetuated by the support of liberal Democrats.

       The more things change . . .

       I think about Mark Twain's "The War Prayer," written over a hundred years ago.  Thank you for beginning the wake-up process for me, Jay.

       . . . the more they remain the same.

       It is much easier to forget than to think about changing.  But if we can't quite forget, it is comforting to know that war is always, really, for God.  Isn't it?

*       *       *

       One of the commenters on an earlier post suggested the following links for our consideration.  I highly recommend them.  They can be found here and here and here.

       I believe that the Gore Vidal interview was carried on the Real News Network.  I also highly recommend them.

       Comments, pro and con, most welcome.  Let's talk; it's way better than fighting.

William Blake, Charles Williams, and Anglican Spirituality

       This post is intended simply to be a congregating point for comments on spirituality as it has been revealed in the Anglican church.

       Anglican church history begins somewhere in the semi-legendary, semi-historical accounts of the mission of Joseph of Arimathea and the establishment, or re-establishment, of the original House, built by Jesus, the young Carpenter, for His Mother.  You can find the stories elsewhere -- google on Glastonbury, for example.  The story has survived the centuries when the Church of Britain lived in uneasy relation with the occupying Roman imperial -- and later papal -- authorities, and the successive invasions of the Anglo-Saxons and the Norman French.  It (the ancient story) has even survived the Puritan era, and informs some -- perhaps much -- of William Blake's insights and his sense of freedom to redefine, or I should say, recast, certain orthodoxies.

       And the amazing Mother Julian of Norwich, and the old prophetess, Mother Shipton, remain beloved in at least some Anglican circles.

       While much of Anglicanism descended into mere sycophancy with British imperialism, a healthy mysticism and spirituality has been preserved always.  Persons who might be considered heretics by thoroughgoing Calvinists or other Reformers have found a place in the Anglican communion for centuries.

       In the fringes of the Anglican tradition can be found men as diversely orthodox as the Wesley brothers and John Henry Newman  -- not that all remained there; Newman eventually became a Roman Catholic (and a cardinal at that) -- but they certainly remained in the Body of Christ.  More recently, of course, we have the life-long Anglican Charles Williams, and a slightly later convert, C. S. Lewis.

       I'd like to launch the discussion with a tribute to the poet, William Blake, who I think first opened my eyes to the explicitly spiritual value of poetry.  I do not claim to fully understand him; I do claim to treasure him; and I am delighted that great thinkers and mystics of the stature of Thomas Merton and Charles Williams draw much from him.

       If he had never written anything more than the magnificent "Jerusalem," he should be forever considered among the first rank of poets and seers.  If you have not read this poem recently, you can look it up on the net and enjoy it again.   As long as William Blake is remembered, there remains the possibility -- perhaps only a possibility -- of bright hope for England.

       To Charles Williams I owe my first real understanding of church history as spiritual rather than historical/political/religious reality (Descent of the Dove).  His development of the reality of "co-inherence" transformed my understanding of the Atonement.

       But let the comments begin.  In this discussion, I hope, I have very much to learn.  Welcome.

 *       *       *

       Note: I intend to set up posts for discussion of Celtic and Scandinavian spirituality soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Cheer for Veterans

       I am in the process of producing several posts which examine modern American wars -- and war in general -- from a rather critical point of view.  I am fairly certain of my facts and my arguments, and I hope to be persuasive.  At the same time, I am aware that some of the people who will read this are veterans.  (So were my father and two of my uncles -- World War II.  But they are now all gone from us.)  Some other readers, while not themselves veterans, count veterans among their most beloved friends and family members, and feel a special and understandable loyalty to them.  Yet others are even now in active military service.  I welcome their presence, their readership, their participation, and their comments pro or con, and I write this post hoping to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.

       I am going to offer one cheer for veterans.  Only one, it is true, but it will be a transcendent cheer.  Transcendent, because in my view it lays hold of Heaven itself.

       I begin with a memory of the day of the assassination of Egypt's president, Anwar Sadat, in October, 1981.  According to the press reports and video clips of the occasion (I can do no better, I wasn't there),  President Sadat was standing in review at a parade, when assassins in the parade formation opened fire.  At the crucial moment, Sadat's bodyguard, who may have been in on the plot, dropped down and took cover.  Undefended, Sadat was immediately cut down.  That act of collective cowardice, if it was that, spoke volumes.   All the talk of brotherhood and loyalty dissolved into a bloody puddle of betrayal and dishonor, the spirit of Judas moving as he ever does.  The stain of that shame has not yet been removed.

       I contrast that with the attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan a few months earlier in the same year.  In that event, the men of the Secret Service leaped into action to shield the President with their own bodies, and wrestled the killer to the ground while he was armed and shooting.  That act of willing self-sacrifice also spoke volumes.  All the talk of partisanship and controversy surrounding the president resolved into a sense of heroism and national honor, at least for a time.

       The words of Christ ring very clear here -- at least they do in my own head:  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  And the free willingness to do so is the crucial thing:  often the actual death of the willing is not required.  Those who lay down their lives may often be granted the grace to take them up again.

       I take the Lord of All Worlds at His word, that He honors this great love at its offering, and if a man dies in such an act, I believe he is welcomed immediately into the Holy Presence.   Furthermore, I take these words as authoritative as against anything any Church or theologian might say in the negative.  Love, it is said, conquers death; and it also conquers the fear of death.

       There is no doubt in my mind that often times men join the military service of their nation with just such noble thoughts in mind.  In America, we much admire the ragged solidarity of the farmers and youngsters at Valley Forge.  We like the story of Nathan Hale who, though a spy, had "but one life to give for his country."  (Not quite the same as "his friends," of course, but let us move on.)

       I like these stories, as you do.  And I suppose every nation remembers its heroes who died for their friends in battle, or perished in the defense of hearth and home.  I like the poem about the old Roman hero, Horatius.  Even though the poet is a 19th-century Briton (Macauley), I think he fairly captures the old ideal in its pagan form:

Then out spake brave Horatius,
   The Captain of the gate;
"To every man upon this earth
   Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
   Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
   And the temples of his Gods,

"And for the tender mother
   Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
   His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
   Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
   That wrought the deed of shame?"

       Thus far, the one cheer.  The transcendent cheer that recognizes that warriors do sometimes lay hold of the holy reality of that great love that lays itself down for its friends.  Some men ridicule the notion of "foxhole religion;"  I do not.  Foxhole religion may indeed be religion of the purest (because most transforming) kind; may a merciful and gracious Father God bless all who call upon Him, in whatever extremity.

       But these acts of honor are the exception rather than the rule in war.  For every Horatius who must defend the bridge, there also must be the "false Sextus" (and his numerous army) who force Horatius into doing what he does, and who either know, or know not, what they do.  And even if the sacrifice is noble, and accepted as such, the fields and cities are filled with destruction and death.

       And even poor noble Horatius can wonder -- are his fellow soldiers really honorable, or do they stand guilty of vicious aggressions of their own?  Are their Gods, and their temples, worthy?  And if not -- what then?

       If I may presume a perhaps-too-general opinion, it seems to me that whole cultures, whole nations, have lost their way here.  The Vikings, for example, seem to have had a notion that death in battle guaranteed a place of honor in the feasting halls of Valhalla -- despite the fact that their warriors were, more often than not, the pirates and the pillagers, the killers of defenseless monks and the kidnappers of girls.  Did the Lord of All Worlds count this as "laying their lives down for their friends," and guarantee them His beatitude, or had they been deceived -- perhaps willingly, perhaps not -- by the war god whose true name is Moloch?  I wonder.

       But more to the point, what about the United States of America and its wars?

       I beg you to read your history carefully.  Carefully.  What were the reasons why brave and seasoned old warriors had second thoughts -- commanders such as Scott, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, Butler, and many others?  Why do some veterans come home and become outright pacifists?

      War is a very ugly business, mostly because very many ugly men do very many ugly things.  Sometimes, because they want to; sometimes, because someone has told them that they must.   And by no means is all of the ugliness on the other side, nor is all of the honorable sacrifice on our own.

      Let us not beatify all veterans.  Some are honorable men; some are knaves; and some are simple fools.  Just like the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

World War I -- History, Significance, and Lasting Lessons

      Of course, the title of this post is pretentious.  All that I am going to do is touch a tiny bit of history, a tiny bit of significance, and one or two lessons that may or may not be lasting.  But that was as short as I could make the title, and still have it say where I want to go with this post.

       Surely tens of thousands of books, at the very least, have been published about the Great War of 1914-1918.  Surely not one person in one hundred has read even the hundredth part of what has been written.  But that is hardly sufficient to properly memorialize the more than 15 million persons who died as a direct result of that conflict, or the experiences of the 50 millions of combatants, and the hundreds of millions of their families, who survived.  World history is a river that flows exceedingly broad and deep, and the vast load it carries of death, life, and experience, overwhelms my imagination.  Wise men have said you can never step into the same river twice, and I partly believe it.   I trust that The Lord of All Worlds, and the holy Saints and Angels, keep track of it all.

       World War I, it is said, was caused by the assassination of an Archduke;  which is roughly equivalent to saying that the Civil War was caused by the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.  Perhaps that is good enough, in both cases, for the official histories, or for people who must negotiate treaties to end wars and who feel the need to assign "full responsibility" to specific somebodies and their successors.  This happens in most of our modern large-scale wars where indemnities are contemplated and there are occupation rules to establish, justify, and enforce; certainly, it happened in each of these two wars I have named.

       The Great War which began in August, 1914, was already ghastly, and known to be so by the men in the field (on all sides, on all fronts) by that first Christmas, when trench warfare was just settling in.  Four years later, when the war concluded in the inconclusive Armistice, the atrocious knowledge was vivid in all men's minds -- all the foot-soldiers' minds.   All knew it had been horrible, and many thought it had been pointless.  What importantly remained was to fix the enormous guilt right where it belonged: on the Germans.  And that is what the Versailles Treaty proceeded to do.  The noble victors told you that the Kaiser had been ambitious; if it were so, it were a grievous fault, and grievously he was made to answer for it.  In much of Central Europe, where the guilt was supposed to lie, the Old Order was swept away -- its monarchies, its aristocracies, its pieties.  And in Russia, a state allied with the victors (if we should call them that), the old regime was swept away with exceptional brutality.    Only in the West did the same national constitutions and governments that had begun the war survive its concluding phases.  Perhaps they, too, feared for their survival.

       At any rate, they took firm action to preserve their power, and they succeeded.  During the latter years of the war, certain police-state methods appeared, especially in the United States.  People who opposed the war, and older people who opposed the drafting of the young people, and young draft resisters themselves, were forcefully dealt with (if you think long sentences in federal prisons are forceful, as I do).  Christian Mennonites and Quakers were in trouble because of their pacifist traditions, and so were individualists, moralists, freethinkers, socialists, and . . . communists.  The Espionage Act was passed in 1917, and prohibited not only such things as passing secrets, but also, opposing military recruitment.  What was the legal punishment?  "Death, or 30 years imprisonment, or both."  (Both?)   The US Supreme Court, with its usual constitutional insight, agreed with the government in 1919 (a year after the war ended) that imprisoning these opponents of "recruitment" (read: involuntary draft) did not violate any freedom of speech rights that they might have thought they possessed.  And by 1918, the law had become even more strict with the Sedition Act, which prohibited, among other things, "any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States . . . or the flag . . . or the uniform of the Army or Navy."  

       The Department of Justice, and the newly formed FBI, swung into action.  Among hundreds who were imprisoned under these laws can be found such persons as the socialist candidate for president, Eugene Debs; the publisher of a periodical, The Jeffersonian, who opposed the war and the draft; and the future poet e. e. cummings, who, while serving in the Ambulance Corps on the Western Front, "had spoken openly of his lack of hatred for the Germans."  

       Actual sentences ranged from a few months to 10 years imprisonment.  While I truly regret the treatment of these notable and honorable citizens, I save more of my sympathy for the hundreds of unnamed, unknown citizens who were rounded up and locked up, and had no one, and no historian, to be their champion.  Their mistake, if they had made any, was in believing that the Bill of Rights offered them any protection; or that this was any more a nation of people that seriously valued freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, and freedom of action.

       It was convenient that a few communists were found. You know the logic:  Some communists commit acts of violence; some communists oppose the draft; some communists have been very publicly captured; X opposes the draft; and therefore, obviously, X is a dangerous violent communist threat to our freedoms, which the government is trying so hard to protect by "making the world safe for democracy," as our courageous president has so nobly said.  And don't you dare say otherwise . . . you seditious spy, or we'll get you, too.   They called it "The Red Scare;" but who was doing the scaring of whom? 

       In future years, certain historians would step forward to rehabilitate the memories of the war.  It hadn't been as bad as all that.  And the influenza epidemic was also bad. And after all, the good guys had won, and that can't be bad.

       And the American church had to put a nice spin on it.  After all, they were the ones who had famously praised the Lord and passed the ammunition.  They were the ones who were deeply concerned that their Mennonite and Quaker brethren had, through want of courage and true manliness, not sufficiently condemned Prussian militarism, the real cause of the war.  We had fought the gallant fight, saving civilization from the Hun. Onward, Christian Soldiers.  The work of our missionaries could now go forward, converting the heathen to (Jesus and) our way.  In fact, it was all probably God's Will.

       Well, despite all the repression of the US government -- the President, the Bureaucracy, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, in concert assembled -- and the reassurances of the Churchmen, in congregations dissembled -- people went back and questioned the war.  Returned veterans gave their views.  Establishment and anti-establishment writers published.  Politicians of both parties weighed in to protect their reputations.  Some truth came out. But a great deal remained buried, or was ignored, or was forgotten over time. 
       Such as the fact that, early on, Woodrow Wilson had found himself in the pocket of certain persons far older, and far better connected, and far more powerful, than he.

       Such as the fact that some wealthy bankers and industrialists on both sides of the Atlantic had made sure that the war was prosecuted in such a way as to maximize their investments and protect their war loans.

       Such as the fact that several secret societies were at war with each other.  Or in collusion with each other.  (Oh, I know that today we don't have conspiracies, I know, I know.  I know it is a different day; human nature, and especially governments, have changed so much for the better.)  But as a matter of fact, in those days, those societies did exist, and they were quite extensive, and quite powerful, and quite secretive.   And they controlled whole swaths of nations.

       There were dark rumors, that only some believed, that the war was pre-planned.  That it was part of a deeper game to bankrupt governments and bring violent revolution to Europe.  There was some evidence that these rumors were true -- the governments certainly were bankrupted, and widespread violent revolution broke out.  (And in truth, no violent revolution anywhere has ever been purely spontaneous; think about it.)

       If I had lived, and had been writing, and had said any of this in 1918, I could have been, and probably would have been, locked up.  "Disloyal, scurrilous."  So I guess I'm glad I live in a country where I am free to say this -- now -- but it is under the same federal government that has said that I was not free to say anything like this then.

       My grandfather, who is of German descent, was about thirty years old when the United States declared war in 1917.  He had small children, and was not, I suppose, immediately liable to the draft.  The pastor of his church had emigrated from Germany to America about 25 years before the war.  He would later recall those times during the war years when federal agents would come to his church and silently listen to his sermons; a long time afterward, he told my father about it.  Perhaps most of his congregation never really knew about all this; but perhaps they did.  My grandfather's generation, I think, learned to shut up.

       The men who ran the Great War, I think, learned that the sheep can be managed.  Again.  In fact, they can be sheared.

       So each group learned a valuable lesson.

        *       *       *

       Well, there is some point to my telling this story, and I haven't quite gotten around to it.  The next installment will come forward a generation closer to our time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Doctor Future, Tom Bionic, and . . . Future Quake!

       This is the first post (I expect to have many more) about the listeners / participants / interviewers / special guests who make up the Future Quake community, and I want to welcome any of them who have found their way to this website.  Join in the conversation and propose topics of your own.

       Future Quake is a unique radio show.  Hosted by "Dr. Future," and co-hosted by "Tom Bionic," the show is broadcast 5 days a week by WENO, an AM station in Nashville, Tennessee.   I don't want to characterize it for you; I want to put an edge on your curiosity.  If you are in the Nashville listening area, tune in; if not, go to the website (www.futurequake.com) and find the complete  archive of more than five years of broadcasting -- just click on "Past Shows."  Pick a subject that looks interesting.  And when you access one of his audio files, you will be joining literally thousands of people who listen to his show weekly across the world wide web.

       When I think of the Future Quake radio show, my mind goes back to the 60s TV show Secret Agent, which helped establish the careers of the singer, Johnny Rivers, and the actor, Patrick McGoohan.  I remember one episode in which McGoohan's character becomes the disk jockey/announcer of a pirate radio station located in some abandoned outpost in the middle of the North Sea.  He plays the maverick individualist, rather than the urbane establishment-agent James Bond.  (While we're here, I urge you to read about Patrick-McGoohan-the-person in Wikipedia -- read about his own personal individualism, incorruptibility, and morals.  Be refreshed.)

       Which brings me back to Dr. Future.  I remember nights in Nashville, traveling with Dr. Future and "Emmett" to the hillside headquarters of the little (but excellent -- but fun) low-power FM station called Radio Free Nashville, getting there about 10 minutes before live broadcast time, and figuring out how we were going to handle two hours of air time.  (Future wanted to know what I was going to say, and I couldn't tell him -- usually because I didn't know that far in advance!)  I think he did a great job, and I got to put in my two cents worth, too.  Go back and listen to some of the early shows, and see for yourself!

       But better than replaying those early shows, look through some of the more recent archives and see the stature and quality of his guests.  Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff of former Secretary of State Colin Powell;  Judge Andrew Napolitano who has appeared frequently on Fox; Alvin Toffler, the author of the classic book, Future Shock -- oh, I'd better not get started.  There is a whole raft of authors, film producers, economists, pastors, and best of all, some "little people" -- I use the term with the highest respect -- who will amaze you with what they are doing, and what they are thinking.  Hear them all call it like they see it.  Dr. Future asks important questions, seeks significant answers and insights, and always treats his guests, no matter how controversial their ideas may be, with generosity and respect.  (What a relief -- talk radio without the tiresome and unhelpful name-calling.)

       I've got to tell you that Dr. Future has been a great inspiration to me for many years. What a bold doer and thinker.  I began to see it when he was a young student, and I was a young teacher.   I have had the pleasure of teaching many fine students, some of them absolute geniuses -- as they have gone on to prove -- but he was one of the first, and one of the most amazing.  Of course, I am going to mention his early interest in stock car racing, and the nights that he raced his beloved car, "00," (was it a Buick?) at a figure-eight track on the edge of town.  And I really should bring attention to his almost single-handed production of a trilogy of ultra-low-budget movies.  And his fruitful years of scientific research for the U. S. military.  And his interest in making and operating slot-car tracks.

       But more important, from my point of view, is that after he started the Future Quake show, he gave me an education -- first of all taking me with him as a press assistant (were we accredited?) to a convention in Las Vegas, where I got to talk for a long time with the researcher Peter Robbins.  This was followed a few months later by a very important gathering in Los Angeles, where I learned a lot, and I got to meet Dr. Stephen Jones, and the authors Webster Tarpley and James Fetzer.  And a year or so after that, there was a chance to meet Chuck Baldwin at a political convention in Kansas City.

       Dr. Future also introduced me to his friend and co-host, the multi-talented musician and boon companion, Tom Bionic.  Last summer Tom and I had a great road trip to Roswell, where he spoke at a small but important convention, and I got to meet a whole bunch of great people, some of whom have been guests on the Future Quake show.

       Finally, I just recently ran across some members of the Future Quake listening community in my own home town of Louisville.  I know that some of them are already visiting this website.  So come on aboard, friends.  Comment on recent shows, or propose Future topics.   Don't wait for Pyro to be the first one to post.

       Hey, that gives me an idea.  Maybe we can persuade the good Dr. to show up here.  Look for him to appear, sooner or later, in the comments section.  And you too, Tom.




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recalling An Old Anti-War Post I Made

       I ran across an old email broadside that I wrote about a year ago. So the references to September, and to George Will, are based on the fall of 2009.  The post may seem a little dated and clunky, but it does express my sentiments then and now.  By the way, the link to truthout.org still works well as of today, November 3.  Here it is.  Comments always welcome.

*       *       *


On Sunday, September 6, the Truthout website ran an article about how George Will has begun to change his mind about the mideast wars.  You can read the details about George's thinking at this site.  There are also links to his two articles in the Washington Post, "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan," and "Time to Leave Iraq."


This prompted me to write a comment, using the nom de web "Robert of Louisville."  Here is what I said.

'There may, or may not, be "just wars," but neither the Afghanistan War nor Iraq War II ever actually had a moral basis -- both were conceived as parts of a strategic chess game, with the lives of ordinary people considered as pawns -- as expendable as a cheap line in a news article, or ten minutes of cheap prestige on a talk show.  And that -- the lack of moral basis -- has always been the core problem, even when the "defend our freedoms" propaganda was running high.  This was blindingly obvious to many of  us as early as 2001, and earlier.  If mature, adult people can't see and admit this -- and apparently George Will couldn't -- then they forfeit my trust and good will, whatever that is worth.  I wouldn't trust George's judgment for advising members of my family on any important subject, and I don't trust him for the welfare of the nation or the world, then or now.  And that goes for anybody else who tries to explain away, or spin, or "make nice" about what is happening in these killing fields, and has been happening for eight long years.'

By the way, I got to meet and talk to Cindy Sheehan (famous for Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas) on two occasions this week.  She was in Louisville, speaking her usual anti-war talk (which I, for one, appreciate) in small venues -- once in a neighborhood meeting house with about 40 of us, and once in a neighborhood bar, with about 25 of us.  I gave her a copy of Wendell Berry's book, Citizenship Papers, which had been of great encouragement to me.

Interestingly, there is a news article today informing us that our new top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who has been charged by the President with developing a new strategy for "winning" there, has stated that

'he sees no signs of a major al-Qaida presence in the country'

nevertheless, he is apparently going to develop new plans and new requests for troops, logistics, etc., as the article goes on to say that the good general . . .

'said at the time that success in Afghanistan "is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort." '

Wasn't our supposed purpose in Afghanistan to find and defeat Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida??  Why are we trying to kill or subdue or control anybody else?


*       *       *

I didn't get much comment.  Well, actually, I got hardly any.   Folks are busy these days, commenting about more important political stuff.  Like deficits; bailouts; Wall Street; healthcare. You know:  pocketbook issues.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Limits of Literacy Consciousness

       I think it is a widespread assumption in most of the modern world that literacy is a good thing.  And I agree with that -- of course!  I read constantly;  I write often.  I feel greatly enriched by the experience.  When I read, I come into contact with other minds, from other times, other places, and other points of view.   When I write, I find that my thoughts become more tangible to me.  The benefits are obvious, they are enormous, and I wouldn't trade them off.  And you probably wouldn't either.

       But there is another side:  when I am having literary experiences, I am not having non-literary ones.  While I am clearly gaining enrichment in one way, I may be impoverishing myself in another.  If you subscribe to a left-brain-right-brain viewpoint, you see what I mean:  when you and I are reading and writing, we are primarily operating in our left brain; the right brain is effectively on hold.  If we allow this literacy function to greatly predominate, it might be that our right-brain becomes a stranger to us; or ignored; or even permanently atrophied in its capacity.  Or, if you are right-brain-developed, your way of thinking might puzzle or frighten my over-exercised left brain; I might deny the validity of what you think and do.  If I get carried away by fear or pride, I may even hate you and deny you the right to exist.

       That sounds extreme, but let's consider.

       I begin by introducing a writer named Leonard Shlain.  Really, I should call him a polymath; besides being a talented writer he was a world-class surgeon.  He wrote several books, and I have read only one of them:  The Alphabet and the Goddess.   In this book, he makes the case that the development of literacy (the Alphabet) can and does rewire the human brain in such a way that the loser is holistic-image thinking (the Goddess).  (I recommend his website, alphabetvsgoddess.com, and his books, for further reading.)  He sees in history a connection between the development of literacy and the outbreak of religious wars and witch-hunts.  There is evidence to support his point of view.

       As a Christian who has had several spiritual experiences, I would like to emphasize that I make a distinction between brain-function and mind, and between mind and spirit -- and indeed, between spirit and Holy Spirit.  Unlike Shlain, I am not quite ready to assign masculinity primarily to the left brain, nor femininity to the right; but to me that point is minor.  (To Shlain, it might not be; it may be essential to his case.)  What matters most to me is the striking differences he proposes between these thinking modes, which I shall call modes of consciousness, in a loose sense if not a technical one.  So in my vocabulary, we have two distinct modes so far:  the literacy-mode, and the visual-mode.

       What today we call reason is pretty heavily weighted to literacy-consciousness.  Our reason deals primarily with verbal definitions and distinctions, propositions, rational comparisons, syllogistics, and cause-effect relations.  This affects our way of thinking about reality and time.  Reality is seen as prosaic; it proceeds linearly from causes; the past exists as history in documents and books; the present exists in verbal conversation and written and spoken analysis;  and the future exists in the elaborations of a verbal ideology:  whether marxist or religious or deterministic or quantum mechanical, the very-literate person tends to depend on the spoken and written word.  Emphasis is on specifiable facts and principles.  The river contains descending flowing water.  In the beginning was the word.

       Contrast this with a visual-holistic view of reality.  The appearance of reality becomes important.  Both simple and complex patterns take on special significance; linear time becomes less important, as the experience of time relates more to the persistence of image states, the vividness of memory or the strength of the imagination, and depends less on the clock and the calendar.   Speech tends to the story, writing to the poetic and the imaginative and the narrative.  Emphasis is on the visible and detectable. The river is a vital part of a landscape.  In the beginning was sight.

       These two modes -- which for convenience we are calling left and right -- might, in their union, be called the mind, the psyche.  But could we press farther?  Are there other fundamental modes available to us?

      I would like to suggest the existence of at least two others.  I will call them natural-life consciousness and spiritual-life consciousness.  I believe that these modes can be assumed to actually exist, because I think that they are referred to in Holy Scripture; but I will not elaborate those references here.  It is sufficient to note that if I am correct in calling them distinct modes, they should be distinguishable in their sensible sources as well as in their operations; and that each of them would be legitimate and valuable; in other words, that each contributes to the true wholeness of the human person.

       Let us first consider the natural-life consciousness.  Here, the fundamental realities are neither words nor visuals; rather, they are bodies, organs, cells; internal and external systems and states; feelings, sympathies, antagonisms; inherence, adherence, extensions; direct and indirect perceptions; neuronal, hormonal and pheromonal media; touch, boundary, surface, continuities, connections; male and female, seed and soil, root and branch; the relations of life to other life, and to non-life, and to semi-life, former-life, and potential-life.  Deep, important, and even precise feelings and activities may exist that are never clothed with words or visibility.  Some phenomena may be as wispy as vapor; others as strong as muscle and as solid as bone.  Emphasis is on contact, growth, and motion.  The river is the thirst-quencher, the essential water of life.  In the beginning was life.

       If there is a spiritual-life consciousness, the fundamental realities seem to me more difficult to identify with words.  They might be perceived in abstract sensations of timelessness, connectedness, transcendence, meaningfulness, and so forth;  or, if there are personal aspects of spirit, as I believe, then we might add those things which compare and contrast the personal with the less personal and the non-personal; good and evil; the chain of being; the temporal and eternal; the essential and the phenomenal; God and the world; archetypes, species, characteristics, names, symbols, and so on.  Emphasis is on unity and its relation to particularity.  In the words of Blake, "Eternity is in love with the productions of time."  The river is the Tao.  In the beginning was the spirit.

       The point is this.  If we focus too much on literacy-consciousness, and ignore any or all of the others, we might be doing ourselves and each other a great disservice.  Our abilities to perceive and communicate begin to shrink to fit our dominant consciousness.  This could have serious negative effects on our emotional lives, our visions, our health and longevity, our religious viewpoints, and our spiritual experiences.

       The Lord of All Worlds has told us that Life Is More Than Food, and Body Is More Than Clothing. May I propose that Wisdom Is More Than Information, and Knowledge More Than School?

       It is possible that literacy, as a dominant mode of thinking, is being over-sold.

       *       *       *

       I realize I am breaking no new ground here; there is probably little to disagree with; and very little light shed.  This is just a springboard for discussion and development.  I hope to make a somewhat controversial assertion in a later post, and it depends on the general validity of the ideas expressed here.

       Your thoughts and comments are very, very welcome.