2005-08-14

A thought...

Peace at any cost, even a cross.

2005-08-11

The Two Smiles

On the morning of August 9th, 2005 – the 60th commemoration of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Pentagon guards brutally arrested seven who dared to speak the truth…

As we rode up the escalator, I could hear the soft beat of a drum. I looked up at Joe. He looked at me. We held our silence (as planned), but the air pulsed with intense emotion. Above and to our left, we could see the backs of men lining the wall – all designated “police”, and all waiting for us. We reached the top, turned left, strode past the guards, crossed the crowded sidewalk, and headed towards the barricade. An officer immediately told us to get behind the small barrier. Thirty of us did so.

But not all.

Seven of our number had decided to “risk-arrest” by donning sackcloth and sitting in ashes. They would not stand behind a barricade holding signs and banners. They would not let the American government tell them where and where not to proclaim peace. They would sit in the middle of a stream of pentagon workers, bearing witness to the sins of our nation. They were there to repent. They were there to bear the cross and to pay the penance – to atone for America’s vicious annihilation of Nagasaki. And they did so with gentleness. With kindness. With meekness. And in turn, they were greeted with violence.

Two of the seven slipped unnoticed past the guards, making it to the very entrance of the pentagon. There they sat undisturbed until being arrested. In front of the barricade, however, things went differently. Art Laffin, a gentle giant of a man, put on his sackcloth, attempted to pour his ashes, and was immediately tackled by three guards. They threw him face first into the ground, thrust their knees into his back, recklessly ripped his arm around (nearly breaking it), and finally dragged him away handcuffed. Four others were herded to the barricade, pushed and shoved fiercely by a smirking guard. Those of us behind the barricade stood in shock at the aggressive assault. Some called out, “they are nonviolent!” The officer didn’t seem to care. He smiled cruelly at the two gray haired women before shoving them with the weight of his entire body – propelling them back into the barricade. His smile reflected the masochistic joy of the tortured, the smile of one who had grown to enjoy pain – both his own, and others’. But the women only smiled back at him with peace. The four attempted to walk slowly past him. And again, they were violently pushed back.

Officers who had started the morning with grins and snickers now stood silently. Pentagon workers, who had at first looked away, now found their eyes and hearts drawn to the contrast of the two smiles. The smile of cruelty glared at the smile of peace, one reflecting an idol, the other a God – one an idol of violence, death, and hate… the other a God of peace, life, and love. The sight touched every soul that witnessed it, and at that moment, we all experienced the power of nonviolence. The officers stood in shame as they witnessed their co-worker’s wildly disproportionate behavior. Pentagon workers’ eyes widened at the ferocious display of unneeded force. And throughout it all, a tiny whisper drifted through the haze… asking…

“Is this who you are? Is this who you want to be?”

The officer in charge eventually overcame his shock and pulled the frenzied guard back – giving him a silent order to stay away. The police then arrested the four peacemakers, doing so with violent precision. There were no cruel smiles this time. There were no snickers. There was only the pain of techniques designed to dominate, humiliate, and control. Within minutes, our friends were bound, arrested, and taken away.

Afterwards, many workers came and went. Many passages were read. Images of burned shadows and burned children were branded into every open heart that walked by. And in the background, the soft beat of our drum continued without pause. It drummed for every soul lost on that day sixty years ago, when Nagasaki was obliterated by hate. We stood finally in a circle of silence, holding hands, praying for God’s mercy – pleading for an end to our nation’s death march. And then the heavens opened, the rains poured forth, and…


As Jesus drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
- Luke 19:41-42


Christ weeps for us all,
for the men murdered in battle,
for the children charred in flames,
for the terrorists tortured in hate,
for the bishops caught in cowardice,
for the politicians tickled by tragedy,
for Americans and Iraqis and all afraid alike,
that we may find another way,
a way and a path lined with crosses,
a way and a path paved with peace,
a way and a path lit by martyrs burning,
burning in everlasting life,
burning in everlasting joy,
burning in everlasting light,
in the mercy of an all powerful Father,
through the knowledge of an all loving Son,
with the meekness of an all seeing Spirit,
forever burning in the truth of Christ’s tears,
forever alive,
forever His,
Amen.

2005-08-03

The Guardian

1.

The old lady slept silently in the hospital bed. Blankets and tubes covered her shrunken and wasted body. Tiny electric lights glittered and strobed along the wall, beating to the drum of her fading existence. Death approached.

In the background, a voice droned. It spoke of the past. It spoke of children, of travels, of failures, of triumphs. It spoke of its dying beloved. The voice didn't pause for response. It settled into a familiar rhythm. A nurse came in, attending to bags of liquid, bags of excrement, bags of flesh, and then left. She never noticed the voice in the corner. No one ever did. Not the family that visited the lady every morning. Not the doctors who peered over her charts, frowning. Not the small flies that crawled on the outside of the window. Nothing at all. But the voice didn’t care. It continued anyways.

"I don't really know what to do..." it said. It looked at the woman, the beloved. Dark shadows clawed at the dying woman’s spirit. The voice became soft, resigned. "What else can I do?" it asked itself.

The dying lady stirred. The voice perked up, alert and ready - and then gave a low and pleasing sound, almost inhuman and not entirely audible… yet comforting. The sound sank beneath the world, rippling its surface. But this time the ripples failed to soothe. The lady groaned, twisting in pain. Her eyelids fluttered. The crack of decayed vocal chords crawled out of her throat.

"It's okay," said the voice, repeating a mantra of mercy - the mantra that had always worked. But the woman did not settle. Her eyes opened, revealing gray-scabbed eyes… blind eyes.

"Is someone there?" she asked. Her voice had changed. The last time she had spoken was weeks ago, and that could barely be described as speaking. But now her voice was different – though softer and weaker, her words carried a clarity that had been missing for years. They held the strength of someone who no longer had anything left to lose. "Is someone there?" she repeated, growing more alert.

The room went into a shocked silence, echoing with the question. The voice in the corner almost stuttered.

"She couldn't have heard," it said.

The woman's blank eyes grew wide, then patient. "Who's there? I can hear you muttering to yourself,” she asked. "Where am I?"

The voice drew closer to the woman. It hesitated. "Can you really hear me?"

The woman's eyes closed, fighting some internal and unseen battle. "I'm so tired," she whispered, drifting. Her eyes worked behind the closed lids, half dreaming. The voice touched the worn woman. But the eyes popped back open. "Who is that?" she asked.

The voice bobbed back, settling upon the corner. "Unbelievable," it whispered. Its tone was both surprised and excited. "Do you remember me?" it asked.

The woman shook her head. "No," she said. Her head continued to shake slightly, searching for a forgotten question. Her head finally settled. "Where am I?" Her eyes, though blind, sought out the voice - staring into the dark corner.

The voice winced. Something was wrong. Was this the end?

"You’re in a hospital. You’re very sick."

The voice paused.

"Don't you remember?"

"No," she whispered.

"Your family visited earlier. Charles brought you blueberry pie. Kate brought her little one." The voice turned anxious. "Remember?"

"No," she breathed.

The voice paced, thinking, worrying, knowing that the inevitable had finally come. It stopped. "Do you remember your name?"

The woman didn't respond. She tried to ignore the voice. She felt dry tears clawing at her blind eyes. "Why?" she asked herself. "Why am I here?"

"It’s okay," said the voice, lying. "Everything is going to be okay..."

The woman's glistening eyes opened. "Liar,” she stated. But she almost smiled. In the midst of the dark haze surrounding her, somehow, in some unexplainable way, this felt familiar. “Who are you?” she asked.

"I'm..." the voice searched for the right word. "I'm your guardian."

The woman blinked. "An angel?"

The voice wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. Instead, it gave the truth. "No, I’m not an angel.” But what was the truth? “Whatever I am, I’m not an angel.”

The woman shifted in her bed, searching for a comfortable spot. There wasn’t one, but even so, the woman refused to quit. She never had. The voice felt better. Perhaps the beloved wasn’t gone. Perhaps she was still there, underneath the decayed flesh and rotting mind… somewhere.

"Let me help..."

The guardian reached out towards the white mass of light swirling around the woman. Dark red threads cut and pierced the woman's spine. A faint arm, invisible to all but the voice, tugged and kneaded the thread - slowly turning it orange, then yellow, then green, then blue. After a few moments, the thread finally rejoined the liquid halo of white flames surrounding the lady. But the flames were dying. Darkness pounded at them. The guardian stepped back.

The beloved breathed easier, and went still. The pain was gone. "That was you?" she asked.

The invisible head nodded. "I wish I could do more."

The woman felt better. She gave a small smile. "You could tell me who I am."

The guardian didn't know what to say. It had waited for this moment its entire existence. And now... everything had gone blank. But looking into the woman’s eyes… past the fog of gray death… the memories of life came back.

"I'm probably the only one who can do that… A lot of people could come in here and tell you your name. The doctors could tell you a lot about your disease. Your family could tell you a little about your past… what little you’ve told them about it. But no one could really tell you who you are… no one except me.”

The guardian wished it could say the same about itself. But it had given up that dream long ago, in place of another.

"Let me start at the beginning. It was over 73 years ago, on the day we met.”

The guardian smiled, remembering.

“That was the day you were born."



2.

The guardian almost laughed at its self. It had been preparing this speech for nearly a century, and now it had forgotten everything.

"But maybe I should start even earlier. The real beginning began almost a year before I met you, at the moment of my creation. I wasn't born. One day, I simply popped into existence. I have no memories before that moment - none at all. I don't know where I come from, and I don't even have a name. My first thoughts were thoughts of terror. All I knew was that I was alone, and that I was lost. Surrounding me was a strange world, unknown and foreign to me."

The guardian paused, dwelling upon bitter images.

"It began with a blinding white light. And then, the light flickered, faded, and was replaced by a room - a room much like this one, though the bed was empty, and it was very dark. I wandered to the window, dazed. I looked out the window, expecting to see a moonless night. What I saw shocked me. The sun was high in the sky, but burned with blackness. What little light there was came from below me, but not from streetlights. It came from small walking figures - from people. People walking across streets. People in shops. People in cars. Their bodies shone with a swirling light - penetrating everything around them, revealing colors and detail.

"I tried opening the window, and received two shocks. First, my hand was transparent. Second, it went right through the glass… right through it… as if my hand didn't exist at all. I looked down. I was wearing a thin piece of cloth - just the slightest of robes. My feet didn't seem to be touching the ground, and if they were, I certainly couldn't feel it. So I raised my right leg. No problem balancing. I raised my left leg. No problem floating.”

The guardian grinned.

“And to this day, I don't know how I do it, but then... I flew. I shot straight through that window, and flew over the city - exhilarated and terrified. I don't know if there's blood pumping through my veins or not… or if I even have veins… but I felt pure energy running through my entire body that night. Below me swirled millions upon millions of lights - millions of different colors, twirling, bursting, showering, flowing... I've never seen anything more beautiful.

"I don't know how long I flew for. It could have been days. I was like a moth to the flame - racing from one point of light to another. But in the end, I had to come back down. I couldn't ignore the fear building in me. I couldn't ignore the blackness all around me - and in me. Though the world around me felt alien and out of place… I still knew it. I knew what streets and buildings and cars were. I knew how to read English. I could speak and think. But I couldn't remember who I was. I couldn't remember where I lived, or if I had ever lived at all. The only thing I could remember was the bright flash of light, and my new existence... Was I a ghost? A spirit? Was I dead? Was I an angel? A demon? Was I in heaven? In hell? Something worse, something better? I didn't know, but I knew I had find out. So I landed in a city, and went off in search of the truth.

"At first, I was afraid to approach people. I hid in an alley for weeks, watching men and women walk by. I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I just floated there, watching and waiting - terrified of the flaming torches called human beings. Each one carried different colors. Each one had its own pattern and its own... smell. Some darker, some lighter. And each one had the same affect on me – terror. Yet somehow I was drawn to them. I couldn't hide forever. I had to know.

“Eventually I worked up the courage to close my eyes and run out into the open. I stood there, blind and waiting for the worst… but nothing happened. I wasn't consumed in light and fire. Nobody yelled out "ghost! monster! run!" All I heard was the sound of cars passing and people walking. Finally, I opened my eyes. A man was walking straight at me, only feet away. I pivoted, allowing him to pass by me. He never looked at me. He just kept on walking. I stared at his back, amazed. He hadn’t seen me. So I called out to him. But he didn’t hear me either."

"So I stood there, watching him disappear, feeling defeated. But I tried again. I looked up to see a tall woman walking towards me. I'll never forget her face. She wore a tall hat and a fancy dress, and wore about an inch of makeup. The light fought out through the mask, making her face look like a carved pumpkin… Honestly, I froze at the sight of that demonic smirk. I just stood there as she got closer and closer. I wanted to run and scream, but couldn’t. And then… she walked right through me. Her light swirled around my body like water. Her spirit gripped me. I felt a thousand thoughts, memories, and emotions run through my being – scratching and clawing to get inside me. And then, it was over. She had passed on, and I knelt down. I felt numb. I couldn’t remember anything that her spirit had told me, and I didn’t want to. All I knew was that she hadn’t even twitched. She hadn’t noticed me at all.

"And that's when I knew… nobody ever would. At least, no one living. So I went off in search of others. If I were a ghost, surely there'd be others. Surely I wasn't alone.”

The guardian paused, looking down… and remembering.

"But I was. I wandered from street to street… but found nothing. I shouted from light poles. Still… nothing. I even went to hospitals, to cemeteries, to graveyards, and anywhere I thought dead people might gather. Nothing. I even found the room that I'd been 'born' into. I waited there for days, for weeks... it was some sleazy motel room… dirty and full of prostitutes and cockroaches… but still, I never found anything. No bright light. No ghosts. Nothing.

"So I went into a deep depression. I flew away from the city. I gave up on people and ghosts and answers. Instead of looking for light, I leapt into darkness. Animals didn't give off light - they just sort of glowed dimly like me. So I flew into those deserts of blackness - into the forests and mountains and deserts. And there I walked - blinding and numbing myself to the world. I can't tell you for how long. I didn't see the sun or the moon. Every now and then I'd see hunters, but I'd retreat before getting close enough to see. Those were the lost days. The days when I went insane, when I'd given up."

The guardian almost smiled.

"But then something changed all of that."

The guardian’s smile grew.

"What?" asked the old woman.

"I heard you scream."



3.

"That scream changed everything. I'd never heard anything like it. It wasn't a scream of pain. It was a scream of fear - intense, unfiltered fear. I don't know why, but I couldn't run from it. I couldn't ignore it like I'd ignored everything else. I had to stop it. If I hadn't, I'd have heard that dark scream for the rest of my life, which probably meant forever. It was the greatest choice I'd ever made.

"And so I followed the sound. I ran. And in the distance, I began to see the silhouette of tree trunks. Light began seeping through the forest. I flew. A small wooden cabin appeared within a clearing. I rushed through the wall, and found… well… I found something unexpected.

“A mother sat in a bed, soaked with sweat and tears, holding a newborn baby. The baby was shrieking. The father paced along the edge of the small room. A nurse was trying to get the baby back from the mother, who was hysterical. There was something wrong. The nurse wasn't a nurse - she was a neighbor. The doctor hadn't arrived. Was there something wrong with the baby? Why was it shrieking? The mother had no experience - it was her first child. The father wasn't helping - every few seconds he yelled for everyone to stop yelling.”

The guardian shook its head, looking at its beloved… finding it hard to believe that so much had happened since that day.

“You were born into total chaos and confusion.“

The woman had closed her eyes. She was seeing what the guardian had seen.

“Do you remember? You probably would have done what I almost did – which was walk right back the way I came! But you weren’t me. You were just a baby, and your cries tore into me. I couldn't stand them. They had to stop. But what could I do? I felt helpless. And in that moment of desperation, I gave the loudest scream I've ever given. And in that moment, I found something that would change my life forever. When I started to scream, you started to settle.

“Your blind eyes blinked. Your face turned towards me. And I swear - you looked straight into my soul. No one else had noticed - the humans were still yelling and crying and arguing. But within it all, you went silent, and stared. I drew closer to you. Your light was strong, tight, new, but greenish. I put my hand into your slow moving and sickish stream of light, splashing into it. And I don't know how I did it - I still don't, but I stirred, or twisted, or diverted... and the green faded... and though you couldn't smile... I felt it. I felt your joy. I felt your thanks. I stepped back, and your arm reached out.

“The mother noticed. The yelling died down. Smiles appeared. The doorbell rang. The doctor arrived. And everything changed. I had touched something in this world, and something in this world had touched me back. I didn't know how, and I didn't know why, but I knew that somewhere within you was the answer to all my questions. Somehow, I would find myself. I would find my memories. I would find my lost life. And for the first time, a smile touched my lips...

"... your smile."



4.

"Eight hard years passed by. Though you'd brought me out of the darkness, though I’d been able to touch you as a baby, you quickly learned to ignore me. Where you'd once broke out into a smile at seeing me, though you even shouted and laughed with me… or okay, at me… though you once tried to tickle me like I tickled you… the older you grew, the less and less you noticed me. You were becoming like everyone else - blind and deaf. By your eighth birthday, I was depressed again. You hadn't spoken to me since your last birthday, when you asked if I had bought a gift for you. I could only shake my head, and I even apologized… but then your eyes went blank, and you stared right through me.

“Really, I was ready to give up. I still hadn't found any others like me. My hope that you would grow up being able to see me, that you might be able to help me track down my life, that you might be able help me figure out who I was... well... all those dreams had faded.

“Of course, you didn't make things any better. I didn't know anything about kids, and thought you were a real brat - always crying, always whining, and always demanding things be done your way, always demanding more and more - this food or that food, this doll or that doll... and it was never enough. Basically, you were a normal toddler… but I didn't know that. All I knew was that this birthday had been the worst ever. Your parents had bought you a table full of presents, a huge cake, balloons, and had invited every kid from school. But you threw a tantrum about something. I think a friend of yours got a corner piece of the cake - with all the icing. Naturally, you went ballistic. The kids had to go home, the party was cut short, you were sent to your room, and then your parents and me collapsed.

“I lied down outside, near the birthday table... floating on the ground, listening to the small water fountain in your pool - a water fountain you had demanded as soon as you saw it.

“I sat there thinking about why I was still with you. I tried to think back - trying to remember those early years, the good years - when you were just a small baby and were always cute, even when crying. I tried remembering the small games we'd play together, making faces at one another, imitating one another's sounds. I even taught you how to say 'Mom'. And when you were sick... I took care of you. When you felt like crying, I held you. It was I who spent every night with you. Your parents couldn't do everything. But I felt like I could.

“And now what? You were in your room sulking. And you certainly weren't cute anymore. I just wanted to give up - to go back into the forests and mountains... to find a hole to creep down into... or maybe, to just let myself float down... down into the earth... further and further into the depths of hellfire... letting it all wash over me... letting me forget everything.

“And then the world… flickered. The blue sky dimmed. Darkness crept upon the edges of my vision. I drifted. Dark bubbles floated before my eyes, swarming the sky, engulfing my body... the world flashed out of existence, then back in. Darkness pounded at my being, gripping my throat. And then - night. I could see nothing. No glows. No lights. No color. Everything faded into nothingness.

“But then, when it all almost ended, something called out to me - a crack in the blackness. A dim outline. I sat up. I stood. I looked left. The crack fissured, revealing a figure. Something was underneath the ground, fading, flickering - taking the entire world with it - taking me with it.

The voice had grown into a whisper. The black memories still haunted the guardian. The woman’s eyes had opened, and stared out into the darkness, looking for her guardian, wanting to embrace the hurting voice.

“What?” she asked. “What was it?”

The guardian looked at the beloved.

“It was you. At the bottom of the pool. Drowning. You'd snuck out to play in the pool. You'd been quiet, and you'd slipped through the fence, and now your lungs were full of water. I flew to you. I tried lifting you… but my hands passed right through your body. I tried screaming, but your light faded. I felt my heart dying. Death crushed my throat. I couldn’t lose you. I couldn’t abandon you. But I had…

“It was my fault. I hadn't been there to stop you. I hadn't been there to encourage you. I hadn't been there, and now you were dead.

“The last of the light disappeared, leaving me in blackness. And all I could do was scream in silence, begging and pleading for another chance, for another life, for a different fate.

“And then... the world exploded in light and color. I was next to you, on the pool patio. Your father was over you. You were coughing up water. You were breathing! Alive! Your mother was hugging you. Tears flowed. My tears. Your tears. And since that day, I've never left your side.”

The guardian smiled.

“And I never will.”



5.

The guardian drew closer to the dying woman. “How are you feeling?”

The old lady smiled through the pain. “I’d say I’ve felt better… but I can’t remember.”

The voice laughed softly. “That sounds like the woman I remember…” The laughter faded quickly. The hurt returned, and the guardian retreated to its corner, silent.

“Tell me more, please…”

The guardian didn’t want to… but it had never been able to say no.

“I know everyone says it… but the years went quickly. Before I knew it, you had grown into a wonderful young woman. By the time you hit high school, you were on honor roll, you spent your weekends volunteering at your local church, you tutored younger students at school, and basically - you lit a smile on every face you met. We were all so proud - me, your parents, even your younger brother and sister. You graduated at the top of your class, and spent the next four years doing great things at college.

“I’d be lying if I said it was all easy. It wasn’t. Leaving the family and going off on your own was tough. Now, I wanted to get away from your parents just as much as you did, but we did miss them. And we had to go through a lot… we had to learn a lot. God knows that I had to sit through some terrible things while you were in college. Things that I could only sit in a corner of the room, shut my eyes, hold my hands over my ears… though it never helped… and hope for the best. It was either that or yelling, and by this time, you'd forgotten completely about me. But I could still turn a mood here and there. I could still be a breath of wind, a breath of inspiration. Now and then, I even imagined that you caught glimpses of me.

“And then four more years had passed, you'd graduated from college, and had a fiancé. You were going to Medical school - training to become a pediatrician! All your dreams were coming true, and though I was no closer to finding out who I was, though I was still alone... I could share in your dreams... You had become my child, and in a lot of ways, much more.

“One day, we were sitting alone in bed. You were reading some woman's magazine, worrying about your fiancé. Wondering where he was. Wondering if he'd be late again. I worried about the same things. Once or twice I almost left you to follow him. But in the end, we both laughed at our own paranoia, and settled back down. You turned to another page, and I let myself slip back into a light daze. I never really slept, but I could dream. Sometimes I spent days dreaming.... dreaming about something forgotten, but close...

“But that night, something broke my thoughts. You flickered. I nearly flew through the ceiling. I hadn't seen you flicker since you were at the bottom of the pool. I watched you closely. You flipped a page. Nothing out of the ordinary. You flipped another page, and then... there! Your light hesitated, blurred, flickered, and then settled back into its normal pattern. I put my face closer... inches away... I traced something out of place... a thread that was not supposed to be there. I stuck my fingers into the stream, expecting to feel the normal bitterness of some dark poison, some thought or feeling or pain that was eating you from the inside out. But I didn't feel that. I felt something... out of place.

“I followed the stream from your neck, then lower, down your side... then lower... and then… I saw.”

“You shut the magazine, stared off into space, threw it on the floor, and hopped out of bed. Two hours later, we both stood over a pregnancy test, staring in wonder and awe.”

“Blue. Positive.”

“We let out a scream of joy and surprise, me hugging you, you dancing, tears springing to our eyes. Hoots and hollers and hallelujah amens! And then we stopped. And then the world flickered. Blackness settled across my vision. Your tears hadn't stopped, but the laughter had. You wiped them, and looked back at the blue.

“Time passed. Darkness and time faded in and out. And then, one month later, we're no longer in the bathroom. We're at a bus stop. I'm pacing behind the glass. You're sitting on a bench. You're still crying. You're weeping. I'm screaming. I'm yelling. You should never have trusted him. You should never have done those things with him. What have you done? I had to watch! I had to watch the entire thing! Who the fuck do you think you are?!”

“You continue to cry.”

“Across the street is a brick building. Inside is a dirty room, with tables full of dull knives and instruments. And in the garbage is an unborn baby. Yours. Ours.”

“Your fiancé had broken your heart. He'd broken it with hate and reason, and then convinced you to kill your baby. And I watched the entire thing. I watched the blood. I watched the blackness. I could still see the black hole in your womb. A burning black pit of hate and death. And I felt it. I felt it deep inside me - where only love had existed. Now, I hated you. The baby had been something new. Something beautiful. He'd been hope, and I had seen him. And... I had spoken to him, touched him, prepared him... told him everything would be okay... told him I'd never leave him... that I'd be part of him forever... And you killed him.

“The bus pulled up, people walked off. An old man saw you crying, asked if you were okay. We both screamed at him to go away and leave us alone. You got up, tears streaming down your face, palms rubbing your cheeks raw. You stepped into the bus, taking a window seat - facing me. I didn't move. I stayed outside, staring at you. The bus doors closed. Time hesitated, and slowed to a pulse.

“I felt something I'd never felt before - hot tears running down my cheeks, and off my chin. They burned paths across my flesh. I tried wiping at them, but they remained, just as yours did. And I looked into your eyes. I couldn't see anything. I looked harder. I reached back into my heart - into that black pit of despair, of bitterness, of fear and hate.

“And I saw you. And I knew I couldn't let you be afraid - not alone, not like I had. We'd both been scared for so long. Who would take care of us? What would happen to the baby, being brought into a world of death, of disease, of desolation? The fiancé had left - a liar and a cheater. The parents could only offer shame and condemnation. The world could only laugh. No one could save us. No one could save a baby and a life that none wanted. And then death crept up to us, offering terms of surrender. Was our only friend death? Could anyone else offer us comfort and support? So it had seemed… The darkness had seemed so friendly. And I hadn't done anything had I? I had abandoned you to it, like I'd abandoned myself. I'd only yelled and screamed and threatened. But did I forgive? Did I heal? Did I love?

“And then your eyes did something I hadn't seen in over 20 years. They looked at me. They looked right into me. And I saw the questions. I saw the plea. And I wept… with you.

“So I stepped into that bus. And I made the second real decision of my life. I forgave you. I forgave myself. I forgave everything. I put away the fear, and embraced the love that would keep us together - in light... forever.”



6.

The guardian remained silent for some time.

The old lady sat in her bed, eyes open, listening carefully, and waiting.

"That was over 50 years ago," said the guardian, looking up. "50 years, and I can barely believe it."

The guardian snuck up to the bed, placing its head near the old woman - near the beloved. "You became a doctor," it whispered. "You found a wonderful man - another doctor, and married him. You had children - two sons, two daughters. And then they had children. You and your husband started a private practice - saving countless families from death and sorrow - your own, and others. You grew old, and retired. You traveled the world with your loving and faithful husband. You watched your grandchildren and gardens grow - and everywhere, life went on... and conquered... and triumphed. And through it all, I've been at your side, whispering love into your ear, breathing love into your heart."

The woman smiled. The guardian felt his heart trembling.

"And now... when I can't help you... you come back to me." The guardian smiled, kissing her forehead.

The old woman laughed softly. "You've helped me," she whispered.

The guardian shook his head.

"Now," she said, "Let me help you." Her familiar and playful eyes sparkled.

"You've already done so much," replied the guardian. "You've saved my life."

"No," she said. "You don't understand." She looked into her guardian. "You still don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

"Look closer... look into my eyes."

The guardian stared into the glassy gray eyes... nothing. "What am I looking for?"

She laughed softly. "The answer. The answer you've been searching for..." She lifted a hand, placing it upon her guardian's cheek. The guardian's face buzzed with light, burning with fire.

"I know who you are."

And then her eyes lit up, light pouring forth, filling the room, enveloping both guardian and guarded... and in the eyes, a reflection formed.

“You’re me.”

The guardian's skin ignited with loving light, burning into its soul and being. The reflection bore into its heart, revealing the truth that had been hiding there all along. The darkness couldn't quench it. The hate couldn’t devour it. For in the unending quest, in the unending dreams, in the unending love and forgiveness and hope, in the unfaded memory of loved and beloved, the guardian finally found herself: one, in light, forever.

2005-07-31

God Bless our Men

“Every effort will be made to assign Conscientious Objector applicants to duties which will conflict as little as possible with their asserted beliefs… those who are determined to be 1-O Conscientious Objectors will be discharged”
- Department of Defense Directive 1300.6 6.9, 7.1.

“See, young man. We might be Generals and Colonels, we might be walking down the corridors of the pentagon, we might belong to the greatest institution of the world – The Defense Department… but we’re just like you. We’re fair. We’re accommodating. We truly respect your beliefs. If you don’t want to kill for your country, why… we’ll even give you the chance to prove it. Just apply for Conscientious Objector status. We’ll take care of you real good.”

Private Stephen Funk, U.S.M.C.
Conscientious Objector.
6 months prison.

“You against war? You don’t want to kill anyone? You tired of being the guy who gets to pick up the bloody burnt stumps of dead children – or worse, the one who gets to make them? You tired of all that? Apply for C.O. status, young soldier! We respect your conscience. If you think killing is wrong, then heck – we’re good guys, we won’t make you kill all those little boys and girls.”

Sergeant Abdullah Webster, U.S. Army.
Conscientious Objector.
14 months prison.

“Well, we can’t have soldiers just up and quitting anytime they want, can we? I hear this same crap all the time – ‘Sir, I just can’t kill anymore. I can’t stand the screams… I can’t stand the feeling of pushing a bayonet through a man’s skin… I can’t stand the exploding heads, the spurting chests, the pouring guts … sir… please let me go home...’ I tell you boy, if I had a nickel every time I heard that, well… I’d have a shit-load of nickels. But what are we going to do with nickels? Nickels can’t fire an M-16. Nickels can’t drive a tank. Nickels can’t drop a bomb. I need men for that. But if America can’t spare men, boys will do just fine. Fine young boys, just like you. Aren’t you? Aren’t you a fine young American boy?”

Staff Sergeant Camilo Castillo, U.S. Army.
Conscientious Objector.
12 months prison.

“I already told you. You can’t go home. You can apply for C.O. status, and then you can pick up your rifle and kill who we tell you. You signed up to kill, and god damnit, you’re going to kill as many people as we tell you. Don’t you know that Jesus wants you to kill?”

Sergeant Kevin Benderman, U.S. Army.
Conscientious Objector.
15 months.

“You know what, soldier? I just got your Conscientious Objector packet. I’ll be thinking on it, trust me. In the meantime, here’s your fucking rifle. Go kill somebody. I don’t care who. Anyone with a rag on their head. Anyone with oil underneath them. Anyone in our way – and just so you know, that includes yourself.”

Specialist Joseph Suell, U.S. Army.
Killed in Iraq war.
By Suicide.

The Defense Department… In God we Trust… Supreme Justices… The United States…

These are all names for lies. They are all covers for arrogance. They are all deceptions of death. Those sitting in jail, those upon the frontlines of an unjust war, those weeping over the graves of boys… they all see, and know, and cry out for Truth: America is not God. War is not Peace. Humanity is not for sale. It cannot be branded. It cannot be enslaved. It cannot be silenced. And it never will…not while men give their lives for it.

God Bless our men,
And May God Bless their America.

2005-07-17

Wheat and Weeds

I sent this letter to the pastor at my local church. You'll see why...

Msgr. X,

I hope (and pray) that the rectory hasn't burned down.

Today at mass, you gave a wonderful homily about Jesus' parable of the wheat and weeds. But I noticed that you stumbled a little after describing the terrorists as 'weeds'. Perhaps you were thinking what I was thinking, that if the terrorists are weeds... why are we trying so hard to uproot them?

This is just a random email, and I'm sure you have greater things to attend to (like building a new rectory? I hope not!), but perhaps you'd appreciate the thoughts of a regular visitor to the Shrine - a visitor who truly admires your work and words.

After your homily, I sat thinking about my own personal weeds, my own sins that needed uprooting. But then we began our petitions. And we asked for the success of the soldiers in Iraq. We asked that their labor would result in peace. I could not help being frustrated and upset at the contradictory message being sent down the pews.

To expand upon the image of the wheat and weeds... have you ever used a weed eater? A weed whacker? It is a sort of hand held mini-lawnmower. It whips a cord around very quickly, and mows down a small circle of grass, weeds, and whatever else happens to be underneath it. As we prayed for the labor of American soldiers in Iraq, I could not help but think - "We are praying for the success of a weed whacking operation."

I agree with you - the terrorists (or at least, the terrorists' actions) are weeds. They cause terrible destruction. And America has sent men to stop them. But like you explained so eloquently - when you tear out the weeds, you often tear out the wheat. Even using human hands, we often damage the wheat. But imagine weed whacking. How can a machine distinguish between wheat and weeds, when humans can't?

As we have seen in Iraq, with 20,000 to 100,000 dead Iraqis... it can't.

And so, sitting at mass, with visions of Christians weed whacking fields halfway across the world (for fear that the weeds will spread to their own cherished fields...), I grew despondent. To sit through a prayer asking for God to bless the 'labor' of weed whackers... was simply too much. A man labors to build a house. A woman labors to bring a child into the world. But fire doesn't labor to destroy a rectory. Machines of warfare don't labor to create life. They scheme to destroy it.

Jesus pointed this out to us over 2,000 years ago. Love your enemies, he said. Don't pull up the weeds. All who use the weed whacker will die by the weed whacker. And yet we pray for the opposite? Perhaps this is simply the musings of a lost and misguided Catholic who has taken the magisterium into his own hands, but I cannot help but feel that today at Mass, you felt Jesus calling you to speak out against our violence towards the enemies of mankind. I heard in your voice a certain hesitance... a hesitance to tell the people what they didn't want to hear... but what they needed to hear. I could feel the tension in the pews as you talked of not judging others. I could see the restlessness of an audience who wanted to be told - "It's okay to pull up the weeds. It's okay to mow down other countries' fields. We have to protect
ourselves from the weeds. We cannot wait for God's judgment, for we are righteous enough to judge the world."

But you didn't tell them that, and I know Christ is smiling down upon you and your wonderful work at the Shrine. But I hope, that if you see things the way I think you do, that you will have the courage to go further... to show us what the Gospel *truly* means. If America continues to hunt down the weeds of the world, taking the un-American wheat with it, we will need a strong voice to proclaim the peace of Christ. That voice will be shouted down. It will be slandered. It will be crucified... but it must not, and cannot fail. Not if there is to be anything left alive when Christ returns.

God Bless, and peace,
Nathan

George Galloway speaks the truth...

George Galloway is a member of the British parliment, and he spoke recently about the London bombings. Here is the full speech, and here is a snippet:

Many members of Parliament find it easy to feel empathy with people killed in explosions by razor-sharp red-hot steel and splintering flying glass when they are in London, but they can blank out of their mind entirely the fact that a person killed in exactly the same way in Falluja died exactly the same death. When the US armed forces, their backs guarded, as a result of a decision by our politicians, by our armed forces, systematically reduced Falluja, a city the size of Coventry, brick by brick and killed an unknown number of people—probably the number runs to thousands, if not tens of thousands—not a whisper found its way into the Chamber. I have grown used to that. I know that for many people in the House and in power in this country the blood of some people is worth more than the blood of others.

2005-07-16

Self-Righteous men, and war.


"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

- Lk 18:9-14


Only self-righteous men start wars, and then clamor for further wars. Only men who are convinced of their own moral superiority label others evil, and kill them - just as they did to Christ.

And for every bomb dropped, for ever bullet shot, for every man, woman, and child ground into pulp by the machinery of warfare, Christ suffers the same. For what we do to the least... we do to Him. We cannot punch a man in the face without spitting in Jesus' eye. We cannot stick a knife in a man's throat without hammering a nail into Jesus' palm. We cannot blow young children into pieces without mocking, scourging, and crucifying the man we call our Lord. Every prayer for war is another thorn in the crown we've placed upon his head. Every petition for victory is another laugh at his dying body. Every self-righteous smile is another spear into the heart of our God.

"Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and not do what I command you?"

"Love your enemies."
"Do not resist injury."
"All who draw the sword will die by the sword."
"I give you a new command: Love one another as I have loved you."
"Love your enemies."
"Father, forgive them... they know not what they do."

"Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and not do what I command you?"

2005-07-15

The Fruit of War

Taken from Christianforums.com, in response to a lot of typical right-wing rationalizations for our war with Iraq. The reasons are always self-righteous, and always deceitful. They are lies founded upon lies, with the logic of idolatry underpinning them. So here are my responses.

"You shall know a tree by its fruits..."

All the rationalizations and excuses for war fall apart when you look at the fruits.

The tree looks so healthy, they say. The leaves, they're so green. The roots go deep!

But 100,000 dead Iraqis disagree with you. Bush caused their deaths, and admits it. "Better to fight the terrorists in Iraq than fight them in America." In other words, 100,000 dead Iraqis is preferable to 1 dead American. How many dead Iraqis will it take before the warmongers get it? The fruits of war are dead mothers, dead fathers, mutilated sisters, maimed brothers... the fruit poisons every heart who has witnessed body parts flying, who has witnessed bodies burning in the streets, who has witnessed their flesh and blood splattered against walls.

100,000 dead Iraqis. Some disagree with the number? Fine. 20,000. Do they feel more self-righteous because the war only killed 20,000 innocent people?

"Tragic," they say. "We grieve with the Iraqi people."

Lies.

You know who is really grieving? You know who really sees the tragedy? Christ. Christ sees Iraq, Christ sees the war, Christ sees the fruit of the warmongers, and Christ weeps. He weeps for the dead - the dead bodies in Iraq, and the dead souls in America.

I weep too.

Put away the rationalizations and excuses. Look at the fruits. Look up at the tree, and see the storm gathering. Because its raining bodies.

The response to this post was typical. "We didn't kill the Iraqis. Terrorists did."


As you can see, no one debates the evil fruits of this war. No one denies the devastation and destruction of this war.

Warmongers don't deny any of it. They simply blame someone else. God forgive those who think it is okay to "break a few eggs to make an omelet", who throw the eggs against a wall, who see the yoke pour down its surface, who see the shells splatter against the ground, and who then shrug and say, "well, it's the wall's fault. We aren't responsible. Our hands are clean."

But it isn't yoke upon those walls. It's blood. Those aren't pieces of eggs on the floor. Those are pieces of children's skulls. And such is the fruit of war.

Warmongers blame everyone but themselves for the death they've caused. Yes, that they've caused. Maybe Iraq was a mess before we got in there. But current day Iraq became our mess the moment we invaded it. The terrorists were encouraged to come into Iraq, and all the warmongers said it was a good thing. A good thing! Because it "is better to fight terrorists in
Iraq than in America." Because Iraqi innocents are meaningless. Because the blood of Iraqi children is thinner than the blood of American children. Because we refuse to accept the fruits of a war we started.

We planted the tree. We broke the eggs.

Now we'll eat our fruit, we'll eat our omelet, and when we are finally faced with the real truth of our wars, when we see that our food is a clumpy paste of human flesh and blood... we'll puke.

I apologize for the harsh visuals and harsh words. But we must know the agony of the Iraqi widow and Iraqi orphan. We are far too casual about the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis. We are far too ready to blame everyone but ourselves.

But Christ calls us to repent. He calls us to see our sin - not to deny it. He calls us to convert, and to believe his good news, his Gospel: that where the rest of the world hates and kills its enemies, we are called to love our enemies, we are called to die to save them - even if that means being nailed to a cross.

And now our refusal to heed that call has led to the death of countless innocents. Does it surprise anyone that the neoconservatives are not a Christian group? They don't pretend to be Christian. The only one who does that is Bush. The rest of them are self-proclaimed secularists. When they
say that an American life is worth more than an Iraqi life, they mean it. Because they don't care about Christ. They don't care about Christ's Gospel. They don't care about repentance.

But we do. We seek the truth earnestly, even knowing that truth will reveal our sin. The truth is that we started a war with good intentions - we wanted to disarm a tyrant, we wanted to forge peace in the midst of oppression.

But those are not the fruits of this war. There was nothing to disarm. We have forged chaos from oppression. And the innocent continue to die.

Let us not deny this truth. Let us instead, repent, and find another way to solve our problems. Because war is not working, and never has.

Jesus knew this. Pope John Paul the Great knew this. Benedict knows this.

And you do too.

God Bless, and peace.

2005-07-12

Where are the Christians?

So asks Sheila Samples. Here is the intro to her article, "Are the good times really over?"

On Memorial Day, George W. Bush, the world's most bloodthirsty and deceitful man, strutted to the podium at our National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia to once again regurgitate his woefully shallow and inappropriate stump speech: "Across the globe (sly smile), our military is standing directly between our people and the worst dangers in the world (pause, smirk)...the war on terror has brought great costs (no-nonsense head bob)...two terror regimes are gone forever (narrowed eyes darting nervously back and forth across the crowd), freedom is on the march (leaning forward earnestly), and America is more secure."

Unfazed by plummeting poll numbers at home or spiraling fatality numbers abroad, Bush remarked with shudderingly bad taste that all headstones look alike -- a Texan's crude way of saying, "You seen one skull orchard, you seen 'em all," and announced with devilish arrogance that his mission remains unchanged -- he has the terrorists on the run and he isn't going to stop until he has spread God's gifts of freedom and democracy and liberty and neat stuff like that throughout the world. His will will never be broken. His mission is God's mission; together, he and God will rid the world of evil. On behalf of God, Bush said he 'preciates folks dyin' for the cause. Heck, he even honors 'em.

They applauded him. It was astonishing. They applauded, when they should have been wailing in anguish while collapsing under an unbearable sense of national loss. But no. Grinning like cartoon caricatures, they applauded an in-your-face war criminal -- a great deceiver who is openly intent on destroying everything that is, or ever was, good in their lives. Bush's mission will be over when the good times are over; when they're over for good -- when all that remains is broken. Broken families. Broken bodies. Broken societies. Broken cultures. Broken hearts. Broken world.

Where are the Christians? Where is the revulsion at Bush roaming freely on hallowed ground while belching out lies and deceit that have caused the slaughter of 1,942 coalition troops -- 1,752 of them American -- more than 18,000 wounded or maimed; 10,000 stricken with lifelong disease? Where is the raw horror that Christians should feel for a charlatan who boasts that he is on a mission from God -- a mission to rule over a world of hate and lies and fear and death and disease?

2005-07-10

Good advice is hard to follow...

How do we speak the truth? Is there a balance between being clear and being gentle? Some thoughts...

Jesus never used words to hurt others. He never used the truth to maim.

But he never backed down, either.

"Love your enemies."

This means exactly what is says. It means telling them the truth in a way that doesn't put them on the defensive, in a way that doesn't cause them to reject the message because of the messenger, in a way that truly speaks to their soul.

Jesus did this through parables, and through his own example. Only at the end, when his enemies gathered not to listen, but to kill, did Jesus finally utter the blunt truth: "father, forgive them... they know not what they do."

"Love your enemies."

We shouldn't expect a pat on the back for loving our enemies. We should expect a cross. Our gentle words of truth and love will find themselves accused of fire and hatred. Turn on Fox news, and see men rage against those who speak for peace. Turn anywhere where the truth is hated, and you will see fierce men fighting to destroy the lambs of God.

For we are lambs.

This doesn't mean you won't be censored and slandered. This doesn't mean that you won't speak the truth with love. But it does mean that you will be attacked. It does mean that you will be preyed upon by wolves. It means that you will carry the cross your Christ has prepared for you.

But remember - blessed are the meek, for only a meek man can speak the truth with love, and only a meek man can carry a cross to save his killers.

Good luck, and God Bless.

2005-07-09

A letter I wrote...

I sent this recently to a friend of mine. Maybe you'll enjoy it...

Last Thursday, I went with the Catholic Workers downtown to help out with the food sharing. I almost didn't go, because there was a group of high schoolers staying at their house, and they were all going too. I think there were 5 or 6 of them - all very young, all very disoriented by the entire experience. I don't think they realized who Dorothy Day was, or that the Catholic Workers are involved in a little more than feeding the poor and housing the homeless. But enough background. I ended up being tasked with sharing my life and experiences with the kids, and helping them set up the food once we got downtown. Afterwards, (with nothing else to do), I was able to walk around and talk to a few of the homeless guys.

Derrick was sitting on a bench eating his meal in peace when I interrupted him. He was bald, and hadn't shaved in a while. He obviously disliked the government. He was skinny. He wore a "what would Jesus do" bracelet. We bonded instantly. ;)

I never know what to expect when talking to guys who live on the street. Most that I meet are deeply wounded in some way - alone, alienated, and anxious about life and the world around them. Many don't seem to have a real grasp on the world around them (I once listened to a 10 minute rant about Mormons and their "satanic" rituals). But Derrick, more than almost any person I've met in the past month or so (homeless or otherwise),truly "knew what was up." Him and his friend Andrew evidently read the newspaper every morning, because before I knew it, we were talking about the recent Supreme Court case that legalized the theft of personal property by our government. Derrick explained to me that in the dissenting opinion, a justice explained how his own house could now be taken and given to some shopping mall company. I sat listening to the man pour out a wealth of knowledge about our nation and our world. He saw through the world in a way that only a man with a cross can do.

Turns out that he'd been in the Army for 10 years, traveling around the world - having lived in Germany for many years, as well as Turkey. He'd also spent some time at my old home - Ft. Benning. How he went from the Army to the streets, I don't know. He said he wasn't really homeless, as much as that he didn't have an address. Him and his friend laughed when he said that. In fact, they really laughed a lot...

We all got the biggest kick out of Derrick's description of the White House. He said he knows what happens every night inside. He sort of got a tiny grin on his face, and then told us the secret in a soft voice. "Its just like Pinky and the Brain," he said.

Pinky: So what are we going to do tonight, Brain?

Brain: Same thing we do every night - try to take over the woooorld!

And then they laugh maniacally. ;)

Eventually I had to leave, and head on home. At first, in talking to Derrick, you could tell that he was like, "Why is this weird white guy talking to me? What's he want?" But at the end, I felt like we really came closer to understanding one another. I almost began to feel angry as I saw how the world had discarded him. Less than a half mile away, self proclaimed Christians were dining in luxury, patting themselves on the back for conquering the world. And how could it all happen? How could it just continue... Derrick nailed it. He said, "people just don't know. They live in the suburbs. They live in their tiny little worlds, listening to their music, driving their cars, eating their fast food... and they just don't know whats going on around them." He said this with misty eyes as we parted. I told him that I'd see him next week. He'd said he'd see me. And we both thanked one another for just being human beings to one another, for sharing our hearts and souls, when we didn't have to, and when it might have been easier to just turn around and not look or listen.

I didn't want to write this story right away, because it makes me feel guilty. I know I'm not doing enough for men like Derrick. I am part of the problem too. I make homemade beer while men and women are starving not only for food, but for the simple company of a human being who will listen to them, and love them. In Derrick's misty eyes, I saw the future, and I felt ashamed. But I also felt hope, because I saw that the love of Christ had brought us together, and could heal even the worst wounds.

A lot times, I have no idea where to go in life... My faith often feels fragile. But in the end, its the hope that gets me out of bed in the morning...

I hope all is well in... , and will talk to you later,
Nathan

2005-07-04

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated

Courtesy of Mark Twain:

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps--
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom--and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich--
Our god is marching on.

The War Prayer

I wish Mark Twain was alive today. We'll have to settle for his Ghost:

The War Prayer
by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

2005-06-28

Bush reveals his true loyalty...

"And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces."
- George W. Bush

Jesus Christ, Bush's supposed Lord, might have something to say about that.

This was a normal speech, up until the point that George became misty eyed at the end. You can tell he really likes the military. That's because he worships a God of war, a God who bathes in the blood of idolaters. He worships a lie, as do all who equate military service with the imitation of Christ.

There is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces?

God forgive him, and God forgive us all.

2005-06-27

Pat Buchanan - prophet?

God knows I don't agree with Buchanan on a lot of things, but he's got the sharpest insticts for the future I've ever seen (taken from A Scolding From Miss Rice):

President Bush is riding for a fall. He sold the war in Iraq to the country on the hard security ground that Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda, that he may have had a role in 9/11, that he was hell-bent on getting WMD and atom bombs, and that, when he did, he would give them to fanatics to use on Washington, D.C. The lady who stapled together that false and perhaps falsified case for George Bush was Condi Rice.

Now they tell us the war was about democracy in Iraq and the Middle East – i.e., a nobler cause than any such mundane concerns as American national security.

This is baby boomers working up noble-sounding excuses and preparing high-minded defenses in the event they wind up as failures.

One part is missing though... The Iraq war will fail. And when it does, they will not blame the neoconservatives. They will blame those who opposed the war. They've already started doing it - "how dare you criticize the war - you endanger our troops!" God forgive us all.

2005-06-19

The Great Christian Betrayal: Faith without Faithfulness.

“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God… Even the demons believe that.”
- The Letter of James

“And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.”
- The Gospel of Matthew

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?”
- The Gospel of Luke

Why do Christians call Jesus their Lord, and then mock him?
Why do Christians call Jesus their God, and then maim him?
Why do Christians call Jesus their Savior, and then murder him?

Christians will react with fury at these questions. They will puff up with indignation. They will cry out at the absurd and offensive accusations. They will say, “When did we call Jesus our lord, and then mock him? When did we call Jesus our God, and then maim him? When did we call Jesus our savior, and then murder him?”

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’”
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World

What we do to one another, we do to Christ. It is that simple. And God will judge us according to how we treated his Son. When we have died and stand trembling before the Lord God our Judge, he won’t ask, “What did you say about my Son?” He won’t ask, “Have you prayed to my Son?” He won’t ask, “Did you believe in my Son?”

God will ask, “What did you do to my Son?” For what we do to one another, we do to Christ. We cannot have faith in Christ without being faithful to Christ. But how many Christians walk past those who are hungry, those who are sick, those who are strangers, those who are in prison, and then… do nothing? And we say we have faith. We say we are saved. But God knows the hypocrites. God knows the liars. God knows the damned.

How can we hope to avoid condemnation? How?

We can start by listening. We can start by being humble enough to admit that we are sinners. We can start with true and total repentance. When was the last time you went to confession? When was the last time you prayed for mercy? When was the last time you spoke the words, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

And in this repentance, we find a new path towards our Lord. It is a path of true faith – the path of faithfulness. In faithfulness, we eagerly seek the correction of our savior. We diligently reflect upon our sinfulness, tearing apart the chains of darkness that smother our soul. And then, in the silence, we hear the words of our God:

“Love your enemies… do good to those who hate you… as I have loved you, love one another… carry the cross… forgive the unforgivable… become mercy… and follow me.”
- The Son of God

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”
- Saint Paul

“If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you – leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.”
- Saint Peter

The repentant man will hear the word of his Christ, and follow it. The penitent woman will see the example of her Christ, and follow it. The true Christian will see the true Christ, and not rationalize, and not question, and not doubt, but will embrace salvation with their entire heart, and live.

The only other choice is death and darkness. Jesus speaks of hell because hell is important. Hell is real. And hell is all too near. For Jesus is asked – “Are there few who will be saved?” His reply is simple: “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

Are you one of the few? Have you sacrificed in your body and spirit for the Lord? Have you felt the pain of his cross upon your scarred and broken back? Have you visited the sick, the imprisoned, and the lost? Or have you sat in luxury, eating while Christ starves? Have you driven in comfort, while Christ drowns in the gutter? Have you watched war on TV with tears of patriotism in your eyes, while Christ steps upon a cluster bomb, while Christ watches his brother’s body mutilated by bullets, while Christ drowns in tears of sorrow and madness?

Or have you laid down your life for your enemies? Have you suffering the unjust insults, torture, and condemnation of your enemies, and then died to save their souls? Have you put aside your dreams and your wants and your desires, to fulfill God’s? Have you peered into your soul, and seen the blackness of sin? Have you see the raging hellfire that awaits the unrepentant?

Pray with me, that Christ will grant us the grace to do so. Pray that the Lord may forgive us our sins, that he may save us from the fires of hell, and that he may lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of his mercy - especially those of us Christians… who know not Christ.

2005-06-14

On being a doormat.

Two days, two Gospel readings.

June 13th: Jesus abolishes an eye for an eye. Instead, we turn the other cheek.

June 14th: Jesus abolishes hating our enemies. Instead, we love our enemies.

On both days, what do I hear the priest speak of? Not the Gospel, I can assure you of that. When they do mention the Gospel, they shrug, say that it means not taking revenge, and then say we aren't called to be doormats.

They're right, of course. Jesus doesn't call us to be doormats. He calls us to be lambs - like him. He calls us to take the bullet. He calls us to carry the cross. He calls us to give our life for his Kingdom.

Some might call Jesus a doormat. Some may refuse to be like him. Some may refuse to accept that sheep don't maim and devour, that sheep don't kill and destroy. Some may refuse to accept that Jesus meant what he said.

Fine. You're a free being. Just don't lie to yourself. Don't dare call yourself a Christian. Because that means more than calling Jesus Lord. That means listening to him. That means obeying him. And ultimately, that means following in his footsteps - the steps that lead straight to a cross, where as lambs, we will shed our blood for the salvation of the world.

God Bless, and peace.

2005-06-12

Again and again...

I hear the same words over and over - "Jesus died for our sins."

I'm not about to say he didn't. When Jesus carried the cross, he took the bullet intended for us. But who fired the gun? Was it God? Did Jesus kill himself?

Or, as Jesus says, was his life given as a 'ransom'?

2005-06-08

Joseph Arthur

A friend passed on a link to a musician named Joseph Arthur. He doesn't appear to be Christian, and I'm not sure I agree with his religious thoughts, but his spirituality struck a chord with me. Visit All of our Hands, an online music video that will touch anyone who listens to it. Here are the lyrics:

Until we feed the starving, blood is on all of our hands
Babylon is burning and there is no promised land
Until we clothe the naked all of us are damned
Dreams are just for savages calling themselves men
And in time fire will rain down
On our head the sky will open up and life will be bled.

We are all the same spirit, we are all the same love
And still somehow we've chosen to slaughter the white dove
There is only one energy just different sets of clothes
For human being is to dress up and protect what no one knows
So in time fire will rain down
On our head the sky will open up and life will be bled.

All of us will fall into the same hole
And all will reunite into the same soul
The death that we allow is the death that is our own
The murders we commit are committed in our home
So in time fire will rain down
On our heads the sky will open up and life will be bled.

Murdered by indifference, murdered by our greed
Murdered by our riches taken from the ones in need
Murdered in our churches and murdered by belief
We who just do nothing shall be murdered in our sleep
In time fire will rain down
On our heads the sky will open up and life will be bled.

Truth is just a word said to the ones who plead
What will we get back when we plant a poison seed?
Consumed by our consumption that can never be enough
The hungry are attacking, they are swallowing our blood
And in time fire will rain down
On our head the sky will open up and life wil be bled.

The victims are now victimized and the world is inside out
Everyone is terrified the faithful are in doubt
Religion is a gimmick we want back the god they stole
But everyone is fighting to go deeper in the hole
Some believe salvation comes when the world is gone
But we have been forsaken, there is nowhere we belong
So in time fire will rain down
On our heads the sky will open up and life wil be bled.

2005-06-07

Faith Requires Faithfulness

*Salvation*

What saves us?

Jesus gives us a parable:

"There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work today in the vineyard." "I will not," he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, "I will, sir," but he did not go."
- Matthew 21:28-30

How many men call Jesus their 'personal Lord and savior', but then never act like it? How many Christians call Jesus the 'Son of God', but then never obey him? Jesus says that a man who truly believes will be a man who truly obeys. Christ asks us - "Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and not do what I command?"

Simple faith does save us. The Catholic Church agrees. But Catholics know that faith includes obedience. We can *say* that Jesus is our Lord, but unless we *act* like it, we are lying. We are lying not only to God, but to ourselves. Millions of 'Christians' believe they have faith, but do they?


*Faith and Faithfulness*

Let me give an example: Marriage.

When I marry a woman, I take a vow to be faithful to her. If I break that vow by moving out and living with another woman, am I still married? I suppose *technically* I am. But am I being a husband? Can I say that I've really understood what marriage is? Can I hold my head up high and proclaim that I am a true husband?

Let me give an example: Christianity.

When I become a Christian, I make a prayer of faith in Jesus as my Lord and savior. If I break that prayer by living as a sinner, by refusing to obey Christ - am I still a Christian? I suppose *technically* I am. But am I being faithful? Can I say that I've *truly* been faithful? Can I hold my head up high and proclaim that I am saved?

Faith requires faithfulness. It bears repeating, because it is at the heart of the Catholic faith. Faith requires faithfulness.

I cannot be a husband while sleeping around with prostitutes. I cannot be a Christian while sleeping around with demons. I must obey my marriage vows to be a real husband. I must obey Christ to be a real Christian. If I am not faithful, how can I say that I have faith?

When Jesus says to be baptized, faith brings us to baptism. When Jesus says to eat his body and drink his blood, faith doesn't argue. It is faithful to his command, and obeys.

God Bless,
Nathan

2005-05-30

Remembering the Victims of Empire

I found a wonderful post on Libberants, entitled, "Remembering the Victims of Empire." It's really amazing. Here is a quote (but be sure to read the entire article!):

Yet once the platitudinous speech has ended, the trumpets blown in a pro forma rendition of “taps” and the black bunting and flags taken down, it’s back to business as usual. Politicians and generals plan the next big military campaign in an occupied portion of the globe against civilians wanting nothing more than to be free of the empire. Ordinary Amoricons, most of whom have no friends or relatives wearing the imperial uniform and deployed in harm’s way, get on with their barbecues, trips to the beach or the mall, and grumble at having only one day off with which to party. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, some of whom relish the adventure of combat in service to the empire, many others of whom simply wish they were back home living their lives in peace, continue to stand watch in dangerous parts of the world, unappreciative of the fact that their service, and potential sacrifice of the ultimate, is to essential further enriching the establishment and spreading the boundaries of the empire. If they are wounded or killed in making this happen, so what? After all, the Wolfowitzes, Cheneys, Bushes, Feiths, Negropontes, Rices, and Boltons reason, they all volunteered. No one put a gun to their heads and forced them down to the recruiting office to sign on the dotted line. Taking a bullet comes with the territory. Besides, we don’t know any of them personally.

No one put a gun to their heads? I've heard that a million times from all the "Wolfowitzes, Cheneys, Bushes, Feiths, Negropontes, Rices, and Boltons" out there. It is the standard line. But anyone whose been a private in the Army knows the total absurdity of that statement. It is routine for judges to give a young man a choice: join the army or go to jail. I've never met a private who joined the Army because his life was going just so well. Officers? They're another breed. But the majority of men dying in Iraq didn't join the Army because they wanted to spread democracy around the world. They joined because they had no where else to go. They dropped out of college. They dropped out of high school. They couldn't handle the real world, for one reason or another. Their family had given up on them. Maybe they'd given up on themselves. And what could they do? Sign the dotted line, and tomorrow we'll take care of you. Three meals a day. A job that you can work and be proud of. More spending money than you've ever had. And guess what?

It's noble to be a warrior. It's a straight ticket to heaven.

God forgive us all.

Pacifism? Or Love?

Pacifism is such a dirty word.

Pope John Paul the Great said:
Peace cannot be established by violence, peace can never flourish in a climate of terror, intimidation and death. It is Jesus himself who said: "All who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Mt,26:52). This is the word of God, and it commands this generation of violent men to desist from hatred and violence and to repent.

I join my voice today to the voice of Paul VI and my other predecessors, to the voices of your religious leaders, to the voices of all men and women of reason, and I proclaim, with the conviction of my faith in Christ and with an awareness of my mission, that violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence is unworthy of man.

Jesus didn't preach 'pacifism'. He preached 'love' - love for everybody, even people trying to kill you. He thought that we should give up our lives to love people, even the people trying to kill us. And that's what he did, when they nailed him to a cross, and he prayed for their forgiveness.

C.S. Lewis said that Jesus is either crazy, the devil, or God. But he gets it a little wrong. The crazy things that Jesus say don't stop being crazy when we call him God. They continue to be crazy after we believe them. Most Christians simply find ways to interpret Jesus words so that they mean the exact opposite of their literal meaning - the *exact* opposite. If Jesus says to give up your possessions and become poor, that means that Christians ought to make lots of money so that they can give it to the poor. If Jesus says to become weak and meek, that means becoming strong and tough enough to defend the weak and meek. It's a complete turnaround, because though they call Jesus 'Lord', though they call Jesus 'Christ', and though they call Jesus 'The Son of God', they cannot bring themselves to believe that Jesus really gave us a lot of insane commandments.

But its only insane as long as you forget one thing: that we are going to die, and that our time on earth is but a drop in a bottomless well of eternal life. We live in a fallen, dark, evil world. We should be happy to become martyrs. But most people have to be dragged kicking and screaming into heaven. If God came down and said he was taking our family or friends into heaven, most Christians would spit in his face.

You will see our new Pope call for an end to all wars. Remember that I called it, because it *will* happen. When it does, they will call him a traitor to humanity. They will say he has turned his back on the world. And any American Catholic who listens to him will be ridiculed. Before becoming Pope - he told of us his plans: "today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'" But this isn't anything new. He's only following in the footsteps of Pope John Paull II, who said:
"No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war."

Jesus rejected violence because violence could not save men's souls. If we love our enemies, we'd rather die in an effort to save their souls, than live in attempt to save our bodies. And that's exactly what Christ did.

But don't listen to me or the Popes. Find a bible. Read the Gospels. Pray about it. Jesus will lead you where he wants you - and that's far better than where I might lead you.

God Bless, and peace.

The sleeping bear

Words of wisdom from Pat Buchanan:

Putin today leads a nation with a horrific history to confront—the truth of 70 years of Leninism and Stalinism—as his nation undergoes an existential crisis. At a time like this, why are we meddling in the internal affairs of neighboring states to dump over Putin’s allies? Why are we building bases in former Soviet republics? Is there some threat there to the United States? Why are we in Putin’s face about Russia’s failure to measure up to Iowa’s standards of democracy?

Making Russia a friend was Reagan’s great legacy. But you do not keep a friend by constantly reminding him and incessantly rebuking him for the sins he committed while under the influence of some terrible drug.

Let us pray that Mr. Bush will not let his neoconservatives—whose expertise lies in starting wars on countries that have not attacked us and making enemies of countries that wish to befriend us—kick it away.

2005-05-29

Pope JPtG in Hell?

According to Jesus-is-savior.com, our recently deceased Pope is now burning in Hell. Apparently, JPtG never accepted Jesus Christ as his "personal lord and savior." As I read this article, I saw the future:

The Catholic religion is a fraud. The Pope is a phony. Pope John Paul II is sadly burning in hell...

The next Pope may very well be the false prophet who will accompany the antichrist to rule the New World Order.

If Pope Benedict XVI does what I think he will do, then we should be prepared for worse than the current raping of the American Church.

God forgive us all.

Hellfire, houses, and vocations

Today was the feast of Corpus Christi. I heard a great sermon, and as I drove home, I thought about how so many people I love did not hear it. Nearly everyone I love thinks that I'm crazy for believing in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. They don't go to mass, and wonder why I do.

Yet when I go to mass without my friends and family, I don't hear prayers for our unbelieving loves. I hear prayers for stuff like vocations. Vocations would be great for our Church, there's no doubt about it. But come on. Lack of vocations aren't our problem. Lack of faith is our problem.

If men believed in Jesus, there would be plenty of priests. If men believed that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist, they'd be going to mass in droves. Women would too. But they aren't. And we pray for vocations?

As they say... we're painting the walls of a burning house, oblivious to the hellfire raging around us. So what can we do? How do we reach those who laugh when we tell them that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist, and that everytime we receive him at mass, we experience the most important moment of our entire lives?

God Bless, and peace.

2005-05-26

Burning Crosses for Christ

Here is an article from the Washington Post - N. Carolina Cross-Burnings Investigated:

Three large crosses were burned in separate spots around the city during a span of just over an hour, and yellow fliers with Ku Klux Klan sayings were found at one location, police said...

Police said each cross was about 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide and made of four 2-by-4s. They were wrapped in burlap and doused in a liquid that smelled like kerosene.

Burning a cross without the permission of the property owner is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that, under the First Amendment, cross burning could be barred only when done with the intent to intimidate.

Cross burnings have been associated with the Ku Klux Klan since the early 20th century. The first known cross burning occurred when a Georgia mob celebrated a lynching, according to the high court decision.

I can only hold my head, lower my eyes, and weep. How can so many Christians not know Christ? Pray for us.

God Bless, and peace.

2005-05-23

To the Class of 2005

To West Point's Graduating Class of 2005:

"This is a war between good and evil... This is not a war between our world and their world. It is a war to save the world."
— George W. Bush

“Take courage, I have conquered the world.”
— Jesus Christ

"I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of people would die for Him."
— Napoleon Bonaparte

I am not a good man. I am not a wise man. I’m not even employed. But I have a message, a warning, and a prayer for you. The message is simple: if your hearts have any doubts about military service, listen to them. The warning is urgent: an oath to kill and die for America can only lead to sorrow and tears. The prayer is sincere: that you will share in the joy, the peace, and the light of God’s merciful love, forever.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever.”
— 1984, George Orwell

Friends, you are about to put on that boot. America’s enemies may deserve to have their faces kicked in, they may deserve to choke on the jagged fragments of their shattered teeth, they may deserve to drown in their own vomit and blood, they may deserve God’s wrath in its full fury… but are you prepared to wipe their feces and brain-matter off your boot when the battle is over? Are you prepared to trade everlasting peace in our hearts for temporary peace in our world?

If not, then there is another way.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
— Jesus Christ

Imitating Christ is hard. Being nailed to a cross isn’t easy. But if you feel the cross calling, if you feel the love of Christ pounding in your hearts, then I stand ready to join you in that eternal struggle to become God’s heroes – to become saints!

God Bless you, and God Bless America,
With Peace and Love,
Nathan Ael