Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tom And Ariel On Torture And Forgiveness

     This is one of those posts (that I frequently make) that is really nothing more than a link to someone else's work.  I include posts like this right along with "guest posts," and some of my own original work,  because I think that they deal with topics that might be of interest to the handful of people (probably less than 30 on any given day) who visit here.

     The essay appears at the "Tom Dispatch" website.  It is introduced by Tom Englehardt and written by Ariel Dorfman, an aging playwright and scholar from Duke University whose native country is Chile.  Title? "A Tale Of Torture And Forgiveness."

    I urge you to read this essay, but I feel that I must hasten to offer a re-assurance:  it is "safe" to read:  No "Bible-believing Christians" were harmed in the making of this essay.  This is about torture practiced by "the bad guys" -- or alternatively, one particular bad guy -- in a forgotten world far, far away from our own:  the context is southeast Asia during World War II and the local conditions are things like the Bridge on the River Kwai.  (You may remember the movie.)

     It is also about forgiveness as practiced by a "good guy,"  Eric Lomax, who was an officer in the British army, and what it cost him.  Please read it -- but notice that I did not say, "Enjoy."  Or, "Blessings."

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Menace Of The Herd

     Fred Reed, a veteran of the US armed forces who has lived for several years in Mexico, writes on the recent repatriation of Bowe Bergdahl, and the influence of herd mentality.  Here is the link.

     I think that his points are well taken for consideration.  Here are a couple of my thoughts.

     There exists, in our country, and in the larger world, a War Party, or several war parties.  Their thinking is largely the same.  They largely operate in governments, established institutions, "hallowed traditions," "cultural imperatives," propaganda, and appeals to the baser elements that are present in human nature.

    There is no corresponding Peace Party, as such.  As far as I can tell, there has never really been one.  Other students of history may correct me on this.  Until they do, I am left with the supposition that a desire for peace (and liberty) remains mostly in the province of small communities and private, and usually quiet, individuals.  Life is much more than war, they rightly believe.  And as war is, in its actual operation, opposed to Life and Liberty, this sort of sets the true love of Life and Liberty against war.  I believe that there are actually many such peace-preferring people, though by nature they tend to reserve or suppress their own voices.  Though sometimes they speak out:  someone, after all, wrote the One Hundred Twentieth Psalm, and managed to get it published.

     This thing we have in common:  we all live our lives, and we all die our deaths.  The Lord of All Worlds watches.  Sometimes, He speaks to us, sometimes to others.  Sometimes, He seems silent.

     Perhaps He is mysterious.  What is He thinking?  This, perhaps:  Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.  He said that.  Perhaps that is one reason He is called The Prince of Peace.

     Your thoughts and comments are most welcome, as always.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Good Song Leader

     Listen to this.  It's a two-and-a-half minute song.

     I sure wish he was still around to lead the singing at our church.  Not for the crowd he'd draw, just for the make-you-think-seriously blessing.

*       *       *

Thanks for the link, Doc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl's Moral Odyssey

     I make no secret that the readers of this site, while quite international in location, are quite few in number.  But many of them are people whom I know personally.  It is to them that I write this.

    The following post -- a guest post -- is one of the most important, I think, that I have published here, because the issues discussed in this article are crucial to us, politically, personally and spiritually.  The post is quite lengthy, but I urge you to take the time to read it in its entirety.  It was written by William N. Grigg, who blogs regularly at his Pro Libertate website (where I, and many others, have learned much), and he graciously gave permission for me to post it here.


Guest post by William N. Grigg.

"The Future is Too Good to Waste on Lies": 
 Bowe Bergdahl's Moral Odyssey

"I can't make up my mind to put the damn thing on again.  I feel so clean and free.  It's like voluntarily taking up filth and slavery again.
 . . . I think I'll just walk off naked across the fields."

John Andrews, a U.S.soldier in World War I who went AWOL, discusses his uniform in Three Soldiers by John Dos Passos

Trying to find their footing amid a gale-force outpouring of largely manufactured outrage, officials in Hailey, Idaho canceled their long-planned homecoming for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. They were understandably intimidated by the prospect of dealing with thousands of protesters who planned to besiege the tiny central Idaho town to demand the blood of a young man they now regard to be a deserter, and a father they consider a terrorist sympathizer.

To understand the kind of welcome the War Party has been preparing for Bowe and his family, it's useful to consider the treatment given to the family of World War I-era conscientious objector John Witmer.

A Mennonite from Colombiana, Ohio who was denied a deferment by the local draft board, Witmer died from the Spanish Flu while stationed at Camp Sherman, Ohio.  Witmer's lifeless body was returned to his hometown on October 10, 1918, where the family -- his father Dan, his siblings, and his fiance, Nola -- was greeted by a silent crowd heavy with sullen disapproval for the "slacker" and his family.

Like thousands of others who shared his faith, John had been kidnapped at gunpoint from his family farm through the evil practice of conscription.  The local draft board had turned down John's appeal for Conscientious Objector status, dishonestly assuring him that once he had taken the oath of enlistment he would be recognized as a CO and be given a non-combatant assignment.

As with everything else of consequence that emerges from the lips, pen, or keyboard of a government functionary, those assurances were lies.

During wartime, explained Bernard Baruch, the head of the Wilson Regime's War Industry Board, all "men, money and things" within the government's claimed jurisdiction "suddenly become a compact instrument of destruction . . . [T]he entire population must suddenly cease to be a congeries of individuals, each following a self-appointed course, and become a vast unitary mechanism."

Read the rest of the post, with its accompanying photographs and links, at the Pro Libertate website.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Word From Patrick And Paul

     Neither one of whom is a saint.  That is, I am not speaking of the estimable St. Patrick, nor am I speaking of the amazing St. Paul.

     I am thinking, rather, of Patrick Henry and Paul Craig Roberts, both of whom are fine men, Americans, and perhaps nothing more.  Nor less.

     In the generation of the American Revolution, two hundred and plenty years ago, the patriot Patrick Henry is quoted as having said:

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."

     Quite recently, Paul Craig Roberts -- who is not as well known, nor as well heeded as he should be, but he is very accessible right now -- said this:

     "Washington thinks nuclear war can be won and is planning for a first strike on Russia, and perhaps China, in order to prevent any challenge to Washington's world hegemony."

     Now you and I can do our own due diligence, and see for ourselves -- as well as we can, given the deceptions and obscurings that characterize our national experience (and which Patrick Henry, in the quote above, was considering) -- whether what Mr. Roberts is saying has a large and serious grain of truth to it, or not.  I, personally, think that it is far more than a grain, and this causes me to have a pretty intense degree of concern.  We have been here before, those of us who are older than fifty, in the era of nuclear hubris and irresponsibility that characterized our government during the 50s, 60s, and mid-70s.

    Those members of the Boomer and Buster generations who were attracted to the power, or to the personal license, that is offered to those placed highest in our government -- and yielded to that attraction without the advantage of any clear and honorable moral self-governance, or political intelligence, or common sense -- are a dangerous clan to have governing us, or our destiny.

     Have done with my rambling words.  William Butler Yeats says it better:

     The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

     Sadly, he was talking about the United States of America.  And tragically, we knew it not.  We always thought it was The Other Guys.  Not us.  Not U.S.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Parsing "You Have Been Lied To"

     There is a recently retired political figure (whom I shall refer to hereafter as the "Old Doctor") who is fast receding from public memory.  He is receding from public memory because who, after all, cares or remembers much about anything before last Monday, in the United States of Amnesia? We are, after all, thinking more about 2016 already.

     Now I happen to think that the Old Doctor said many interesting, truthful, and thought-provoking things;  but among one of his best and most useful statements was this:

     "You have been lied to."

     Before we dismiss that as a quickie-clever political remark, or a mere one-liner or slogan, let us try to parse it for its possible meaning.  It could mean any or all of the following:

     1.  "You have been lied to" by authority figures that you thought you had every right to trust.  You thought that they were (and that they themselves actually felt) honor-bound to tell the truth.  They could have been government officials, school teachers, authors of respected books, statisticians, employers, professionals (like doctors, lawyers and judges), policemen, even pastors and parents.  You were told to respect them and trust them.  And because they seemed upright and full of good will and had your best interests at heart -- you still do trust them.

     2.  "You have been lied to" by people who, to be honest, you had plenty of reason and evidence to doubt.  You had reason to know that they were shallow, or dishonest, or simply mistaken -- but you bought their snake oil anyway.  Or their flimsy answers, or their cheap solutions, or their self-serving viewpoints, or their outright fantasies.  And now you are heavily invested . . . 

     3.  "You have been lied to" by you, yourself.  You told yourself things because you wanted something.  Stuff, perhaps.  Or you developed a fantasy about how things "ought to be," and decided that that wishing it were so, somehow made it so.  Let's pretend.

     We could go on, but you get the idea.

     Now, supposing for a moment that, for any one of the foregoing three reasons, the Old Doctor was right in his diagnosis of the cause of certain, shall we call them, generally, societal or personal problems.  "You have been lied to."

     Should we perform some personal self-examination and see if we might discover which of our current ailments had specific lies as their cause?

     One device might be to take a long look in the mirror and, while looking ourselves in the eyes, ask ourselves:

     Have I been lied to by people whom I trust?  Have I allowed myself to be lied to by untrustworthy people?  Have I lied to myself about myself, my expectations, and the situation around me?

     For those who look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance,  I offer these selections:

Type 1 lies.  The lies of false authorities.

      And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many.

     For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  -- Jesus Christ

Type 2 lies.  The lies of the con artists.

     . . . evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.

     But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  -- St. Paul

Type 3 lies.  The lies that you tell yourself.

     The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it? -- the prophet Jeremiah

The solution.

     When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

     You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.  -- Jesus Christ

     A lot more could be said, and should be said.  But this is a good start.

*       *       *

As always, comments pro and con are welcome.