Tag Archive: George Bush

Freedom of Speech is a Two-Way Street

free speech

Guest post by Ian

Glenn Beck and the Dixie Chicks have something in common, though neither wants to admit it.

In 2003, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” This was said in London, during a concert. Word of this quickly made its way back to the United States and many radio stations pulled The Dixie Chicks from their play lists. Irate people threw away or burned their Dixie Chicks albums.

Maines’ statement resulted in a struggle for the Dixie Chicks, particularly in the country music world, where they were boycotted for several years. They made a video documentary which followed them for three years after the infamous London concert. In the documentary, Maines watched a video of President Bush, in which he said, ”They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.” Maines then says, “You’re a dumb fuck.”

Video Link

Last week, Glenn Beck had a guest on his radio show, Brad Thor, and they were talking about a Donald Trump presidency. Here is the transcript; it is long, to provide context.

THOR: BS, BS. Trump does not compromise. Trump has the ability to hire and fire people, to hire contractors, to fire contractors. People who work for Trump can work for him or stop working for him. If he gets into the White House, we have to deal with him.

And I’ll tell you, one of the best examples I have seen of who Trump really is – I have been mistakenly comparing him to a potential Mussolini. And about a week ago, Foreign Affairs did an amazing article about the Caudillos, the strong men of Latin America. And that is who Trump is. He is a Chavez. He is a Peron.

That is the type of guy he is and I guarantee you, Glenn, that during his presidency, during his reign if you will – he is going to petition the American people to allow a temporary suspension of the Constitution so he can help America get back on its feet again.

He is a danger to America and I got to ask you a question and this is serious and this could ring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad. It is a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer.

With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president.

If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.

BECK: I would agree with you on that and I don’t think you actually have the voices we’ve been talking about and we’ve been talking about this off-air for a while. I think the voices like ours go away. I don’t think we are allowed – especially if things, and I believe the economy is going to go to crap, even if Jesus was in office. It’s going to naturally reset. It has to.

SiriusXM decided to pull Glenn Beck’s program for the rest of the week and were reviewing his future with the company, saying, “…comments recently made by a guest on the independently produced Glenn Beck Program, in our judgement, may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone.”  Beck is being classy and calling Matt Drudge, who broke the story, a “despicable lying scumbag.”  Now, Beck’s spokespeople are crying foul and saying they are being bullied.

So all of that to say this: both made statements that were considered outrageous. The companies who sell their voices had to make a decision. The decision came down to how much risk were these companies willing to take. Obviously, not much. For The Dixie Chicks, people on the left complained that this was a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. For the people on the Beck right (because the Beck right is different from the normal right, or the Palin right or the Cruz right), they are saying that things were taken out of context and everyone but them is a shill for Obama.

I say to them, grow up. This has nothing to do with protected speech, being persecuted or loving President Obama. This had to do with money. Period. The First Amendment stops the government from telling you what to say, not whether private companies can hire and fire you, based on what you say. Both were able to exercise their First Amendment rights and say what they wanted. The Dixie Chicks, or at least Natalie Maines, never had to apologize for what she said and she isn’t in jail. Beck isn’t being carted away by a shadowy government agency for agreeing with Brad Thor. (Thor is backtracking on his statement, too. He said he was talking about a “hypothetical America under a dictator” and not referring to an assassination.)

Glenn Beck has had many years to say whatever he wanted. He makes outrageous claims and has guests who do the same. Now, he is going to pay the price, just like the Dixie Chicks did. They have been allowed to say whatever they want. They just need to remember that other people can say what they want, too. And, people with speak with their wallets as well as their mouths. As George Bush said, “You know, freedom is a two-way street.”

2005 Bryan Times Editorial by Bruce Gerencser About the Iraq War

bruce gerencser 2002

Bruce Gerencser, 2002

Published on August 25, 2005. This was written two years after I left the ministry. If you have been reading the previous editorials I have posted  you will notice in this editorial that my worldview has definitely shifted. This was written in reaction to my frustrating inability to find a church to attend that did not support the war in Iraq This was not a Letter to the Editor. I wrote it for the Community Voice editorial column on the editorial page of The Bryan Times.

There is a new fundamentalism rising up in America. While it has Christian theological overtones, it is really right-wing political extremism wrapped in the clothes of conservative Christian dogma. There was a time when politics and religion did not mix and were considered separate planes in God’s created order.  Things are much different today. Political activism from the pulpit is common. A recent front page feature article in the Columbus Dispatch about Rod Parsley, pastor of World Harvest Church in Columbus shows very clearly the agenda of this new fundamentalism. Parsley pastors a Church with over 10,000 members. The annual Church budget is in excess of $32,000,000. Parsley advocates pastors rising up to become Patriot Pastors. Theocracy is the goal.

Some would suggest that we ignore this folly and it will fade away as quickly as the Atkins Diet. Our nation has faced many well-intentioned but misguided attempts at reclaiming the culture for God. All have run their course. All have utterly failed because they attempt to use political means to gain a spiritual end.

But we can not ignore this movement because it is resulting in the death and maiming of thousands of people. Virtually every person involved in this new fundamentalism  supports the war in Iraq. They have bought into the rhetoric that the war in Iraq is a war of good vs. evil. Opposition to the war is shouted down with angry words such as traitor,  unpatriotic, liberal, etc. All discussion has ceased. Arrogant fundamentalism has usurped the right to speak for all Christians. We must always remember that one the key tenets of fundamentalism is the belief that you have the complete truth and that all other views are error. No discussion. No shades of gray. Those who hold a different view are considered the enemy.

The most dangerous factor in the Iraq war is the fundamentalist religious right. Their thinking is not much different from the fundamentalist Muslims. They believe God is on their side and that the infidel needs to be destroyed. It is no wonder that many Muslims view the war in Iraq as a religious war. America, led by a Christian President, claims to be a Christian nation. God is invoked to justify virtually everything we do.

Most of the leaders of the fundamentalist religious right have a particular eschatological belief called pretribulational premillennialism. This is the theology of the wildly popular Left Behind book series. It is a relatively modern school of eschatological thought which is first found in writings of the mid-19th century. According to  this system of thought, the world is headed toward a seven-year period called the Great Tribulation. This period of time concludes with Armageddon, at which time the thousand-year millennial kingdom of Christ will be established. Prior to the Great Tribulation, Jesus will return and rapture out all the Christians. it is important to keep this in mind when listening to the war rhetoric of the fundamentalist religious right. According to their theological system, Mathew 24 must be literally fulfilled. One of the key tenets of Matthew 24 is “war and rumors of war.“ Those holding to this theological persuasion have no impetus to be “peacemakers.“ War is inevitable, and the more war we have the closer we are to the rapture.

I am a conservative Christian. My theology and personal lifestyle practices place me squarely in the conservative Christian camp. Unfortunately, I am, along with many others, the son no one talks about. We sit silently in church while our ministers talk up war and nationalism from the pulpit. l speak for those who are Christians but who can not support the war in Iraq. I speak for those who believe that Jesus called us to be ”peacemakers.” It is not enough to believe In peace. We must actively promote peace.

Where are the conservative Churches and pastors that take a stand against war and actively promote peace? Have we become so blinded by our political agenda and fanciful eschatological interpretations that we have forsaken the Jesus who preached the Sermon on the Mount?

We should note that when justification for war is talked about, it is the name of God that is invoked. Have you noticed that no one says, “Jesus supports the War In Iraq?“ Using the generic term God invokes the Image of the wrathful God of the Old Testament. When we speak the name of Jesus we come away with a different image. We do not see Jesus as the soldier, the warrior. We see him as the shepherd, as the meek, mild-mannered, peace loving Savior of the world.

slightly edited to correct some embarrassing grammar errors

Is President Obama Anti-Christian?

obama antichrist 3

According to the hysteria wing of the Republican party, also known as Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity, President Obama is anti-Christian. Some go so far as to say that he is actually a Muslim, even though he has publicly identified as Christian numerous times.  President Obama spoke at the February 2015 National Prayer Breakfast. He stated:

And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ, In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

So it is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith…

…I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others. That God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others. That somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

At the recent White House Easter breakfast, the President stated:

On Easter I do reflect on the fact that, as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less-than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned.

obama antichrist 2

The rabid religious right thinks these statements prove that the President is anti-Christian.  As I read these statements, all I see is a man pointing out the obvious; that Christianity has a violent, bloody past and that many Christians don’t know the first thing about love. What is also obvious is that no matter what the President says or does , the religious right is going to twist his words and use them to make political hay. No matter what he says or how he tries to explain himself, he will be, in the eyes of many on the religious right, the Kenyan born nigger socialist Muslim who hates America, hates Christianity, and is secretly plotting to establish an Islamic caliphate in the United States.

Here are some of the comments left by Christians on the aforementioned  One News Now articles:

You BHO are such a liar. You use every opportunity to twist the truth. Actually, you wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the face. Jesus said,”I am the way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father BUT by me.” Can I be adamant about what truth is? You bethcha buster. I repeat, you wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the face, and from Darryl said, I would say that it did slap you in the face, but you still went on reading your prepared, twisted script. You being at the National Prayer Breakfast is like the devil sitting at the last supper. IMHO

Obama’s comments trying to paint Islam and Christianity as morally equivalent in their teachings are infuriating. I am outraged by his efforts to downplay the utter horror of what ISIS is doing right now in the world– beheading, torturing, crucifying, burying alive small children in scores, and selling those who live into sex slavery for the depraved appetites of sick, demon-possessed Muslim jihadists– by drawing attention to crimes committed in the name of Christ many centuries ago. Nothing that is happening in the world today in the name of Christ can begin to be compared for cruelty and brutality to what the demonic savages in Iraq are doing to children in the name of Allah. Mr. President– where is your outrage? They are burying children alive! Professing Christians who committed acts of violence in the name of Christ centuries ago to advance Christ’s kingdom were violating Christ’s teachings; Muslim jihadis who commit acts of violence in the name Allah to promote the Islamic caliphate are fulfilling Mohammed’s teaching. Someone needs to tell our president that the “medieval” problem with Christianity was set right a long time ago; he needs to open his eyes and deal with atrocities happening today in the 21st century, and get off his high horse from which he would scold American Christians for criticizing Islam.

It seems Obama is determined to play down the religious aspect of the Islamic State by stating they are not unique. Bringing up subjects that many people do not have enough information about except for the rhetoric is dangerous, inflammatory and downright wrong. What does he hope to accomplish? Acceptance of his indifference and ineffectual strategy of what to do as our “leader”?

Wow! Are you serious Mr. President? Did you really just go back over 700 years to find an example of how Christianity is as bad as ISIS? Jim Crow? For real? A simple, brief look into Islam and the teachings of Jesus Christ will reveal to any honest seeker of truth that there are vast differences. Mohammed taught “I have the truth of God, convert or die.” Jesus taught, “I am the way the truth and the life, and no man can come unto the Father but by me. ” And to prov God’s love for man Jesus laid down His life for us! Big difference Mr. President!

Our nation is being led by a very confused and deluded individual.

That man…..he really rubs me the wrong way because of his deceitfulness and attempting with all his might to destroy America and lift up Islam. Obama is NOT a Christian! He could go and live in a garage but that doesn’t make him a car!

Jesus said a tree is known by its fruits. President Obama’s fruits are quite evident. He is condescending in his remarks to Christians but always lauds Muslims and the Islamic faith and refuses to link Islam with Islamic terrorists. The President is a Christian in name only.

President Obama’s inconsistency is as disturbing as his overt dishonesty and misrepresentation concerning many other things…. Obamacare, IRS targeting, “Climate Change”, Keystone pipeline, Iran negotiations, arbitrary accusations of racism, etc. His behavior seems, at least, “disturbed”, and unstable. There IS a pattern of anti-Christian rhetoric, as well as a larger pattern of vindictive behavior in reaction to all dissent, opposition, or criticism.

I be glad when black nword is gone.

If any of the eternal optimists out there think things are going to get better anytime soon, just remember this: On any given day, Obama’s approval numbers always remain at the 45-50% level, and he was elected not once, but twice by your fellow “Americans”. I’m no math genius, but that tells me that at least half the country is perfectly fine with the Anointed One’s policies and his performance. And THAT simple fact, my friends, is why the country is doomed.

The country is not doomed if we hold to our 2nd amendment rights and arm ourselves. The Obama government is afraid of us because we are capable of armed resistance in a meaningful way. When we disarm or allow ourselves to be disarmed then the government will cease to be afraid of us and all hell will break loose. Keep buying the equivalent of the 18th century rifled musket, aka the modern high capacity magazine AR-15 or AR-10.

Obama is the walking epitome of an anti-Christian bigot posing as a “Christian”. He hates God, His Chosen People, and the followers of Yeshua Messiah. He NEVER sides with Christians, ALWAYS sides with anti-Christ Islamic teachings, never sides with white folks, always sides with NON-white folks.

He has nothing between the ears , unless a barely disguised hatred against Christians . And the leftist politicians, has a pet hate for Christians . For example , gays and lesbians , persecute Christians , because of their religious values. Are of a very great evil .

The president has lied to us since day one. If he wasn’t a Muslim, then why did he say that the cross had to be cover before he could make a speech at the cathedral? Why did the have Franklin Graham pulled from speaking at the Prayer Breakfast? Why is he giving aid to the Muslim Brotherhood?

Clearly this POTUS is a foreshadowing of the anti-Christ, not the anti-Christ himself you understand, but a shadow of things to come. If he was truly of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and full of understanding given by the Holy Spirit, he would not say the things he says or do the things he does. He is what the Godless deserve and just may be a tool of God’s judgement of an increasingly and deliberately Godless America.

I cannot believe that any POTUS would take such opportunities to disparage Christianity at every chance he gets. His disdain for the Christian faith is incomprehensible. I have never seen, in my 70 years of living, a president who insists on undermining the very force that has been the backbone of our country’s social and moral fabric since 1776. Please, Mr. Obama, get out of the White House and out of our lives.

Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim. His father was a Muslim. According to the Qumran a Muslim who leaves the faith is to be killed. Since there have been no attempts on the President;s life I must assume he is still a Muslim. Perhaps that is why he does not care about Christians and likes to criticize Christianity.

Barrack Hussein is an anti-Christian bigot and a dispicable traitor to the country. Sadly this person is what the American people voted for…twice. I watched him deceive the nation as he spoke with John McCain at Saddleback Church and said marriage is between one man and one woman, then turned to become the first homosexual president. So is Hussein Obama the deceiver to blame or the depraved American society that lives with luxuries that the rest of the world could not even imagine. Do Americans love the darkness and depravity more than the light and goodness? I would have to answer yes. There is no turning back now, this is what America wants. Time for us to stand firm and be the light and lampstand while times and events continue to degrade, as prophesied.

It’s strange that for someone who claims to be a Christian, Barack Obama is the most virulently anti-Christian leader this country has ever had.

obama antichrist 4

And there are a hundred more comments just like these. It is quite evident that many right-wing Christians hate the President. It is also quite evident that many of them are paranoid as hell and think they are being persecuted. I recently wrote about this in The Paranoia and Persecution Complex of the Religious Right.

Is President Obama really doing nothing to combat Muslim extremism? Of course not. We have boots on the ground in the Middle East, drones and bombers in the air, and are spending billions of dollars to combat terrorism.

Right wing Christians should spend some time learning the history of Christianity. Are the bloodletting years of Christianity ancient history? Consider how President George W Bush framed the two wars he started in the Middle East. He called them a crusade. President Bush saw these wars as not only a clash of civilizations, but a clash of religions.  President Bush’s public comments were frequently littered with words meant to remind people of the superiority of Christianity and the United States. Perhaps President Obama doesn’t buy the American myth, that we are a chosen people, an exceptional people. If so, this is progress.

The United States is arguably one of  most religious countries in the world. Is it any wonder the Muslim world views our war against “terrorism” as a religious war? ISIS, Boko Haram, and other such terrorist groups, should be hunted down and killed. While I am a pacifist, I am also a realist. ISIS is not going to stop until they have exerted their will on the entire Middle East. The President knows this and I think he is doing what he can to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians, regardless of their religious affiliation.

And let me be clear, the United States, through its decade and a half war on terrorism, has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom were innocent civilians. In fact, the United States is one of the most violent, bloody sovereign states in modern history. I will soon be fifty-eight years old and the United States has been at war for most of my life. We’ve not fought a just war in seventy years.

obama antichrist

It’s time we be honest about our past and stop thinking that the United States is in any way exceptional or favored by the gods. While we might have good intentions, it is evident that our imperialistic, colonialist tendencies still drive the government and public discourse. As President Obama works hard to broker a nuclear deal with Iran, right-wing Christians and Republicans go out of their way to scuttle the deal, even suggesting that we bomb Iran.  Somehow, they envision us bombing Iran and there not being any consequences for doing so. What I see is nuclear weapons being fired and the world being plunged into global conflict. Are those on the right so ignorant of history that they can not see the danger of their rhetoric? Will it take a nuclear bomb landing on Washington DC before they will wake up to the irresponsibility of their words and actions? By then, of course, they will have been vaporized.

As the above comments show, a large number of Christians are buying what Fox News, World Net Daily, and the various right-wing news organizations are selling. I fear that some of them will become so enraged that they really will exercise their so called second amendment rights. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, it is possible that some on the extreme right will go after gays, killing them, or take to the streets in violent protest. Why? Because many right-wing Christian really believe they are being persecuted. They really believe THEIR country has been stolen from them. Their passions are inflamed by war mongering pastors, TV preachers, and right-wing talk show hosts. Once inflamed, reason, responsibility, and tolerance go out the window.

Notes

Graphics found on Christian websites.

Anyone who uses the President’s middle name in a comment, article, or news show is revealing that they are a racist bigot.

 

 

30 Ways TV Distorts Our View of the World

CSI Miami Eva LaRue

Eva LaRue, CSI Miami

I watch a lot of TV and it never ceases to amaze how often, even on basic stuff, TV programs either get it wrong or distort things. What follows is my Top 30 ways TV distorts our view of the world. Feel free to add to the list in the comment section.

  1. Everyone has sex standing up.
  2. Married people don’t have sex.
  3. If married people have sex, it isn’t fun or enjoyable and it last for 5 minutes.
  4. A man can drink all the alcohol he wants and still get an erection, have sex with three women and be ready to go again in 10 minutes.
  5. Prostitutes are always drop dead gorgeous with a degree in economics from Harvard.
  6. Policeman are crack shots who drop their suspect with one shot.
  7. Revolvers never run out of bullets, neither does any other firearm.
  8. Spraying a car with machine gun fire never hits the star (s) of the show.
  9. Drug dealers are black.
  10. Terrorists are brown.
  11. Rich people are white.
  12. The FBI, CIA, NSA, NCIS, and the Secret Service have instantaneous access to every bit of information about your life.
  13. The FBI, CIA, NSA, NCIS, and the Secret Service do not need a warrant to access every bit of information about your life.
  14. A 120 pound female police officer can always fight, take down, and restrain any and all men 2-3 times her size.
  15. News reports on minutia that makes viewers think the minutia is important.
  16. Reports on what is trending on Twitter, as if Twitter matters.
  17. Reports on what is trending on Facebook, as if Facebook matters.
  18. Sideline reporters asking football coaches touchy-feely questions, giving the impression coaches love to answer such questions.
  19. Sports reports that make the mundane, every day lives of athletes into larger than life stories that is breaking, must-see TV.
  20. Women should be blonde, thin, have big breasts,have perfectly straight white teeth, no acne, and perfectly manicured nails.
  21. Women in  crime laboratories are either geeks like Abby on NCIS or drop dead gorgeous wearing white, tight clothing like Natalia Boa Vista on CSI Miami. (see picture at top of post)
  22. Policeman, FBI agents, and NCIS operatives are expert drivers who can weave in and out of traffic in both directions at  100 mph.
  23. Men don’t have penises but women have breasts and vaginas and viewers only want to see breasts and vaginas.
  24. Everyone with Down Syndrome can read and graduate from high school.
  25. Every man in America has erectile dysfunction and needs Viagra.
  26. Whatever the United States makes or does is awesome and way more awesomer (yes I know it is not a word) than China, Russia, Mexico, and, well any other country that is not the United States.
  27. Iraq is better off today than it was under Saddam Hussein.
  28. American soldiers conduct themselves with the highest regard for human life and it is always our enemy that slaughters and commits war crimes.
  29. The news channels, with a straight face, say they report nothing but the news with no political spin. Fox News is fair and balanced, yes?
  30. On Fox News, Dick Cheney is an honorable man who has never made a mistake or lied. On MSNBC, George Bush is a dishonorable man who did nothing but make mistakes and lie. On CNN, wait is CNN still on? Al Jazeera? Why everyone knows they are owned by Muslims, right?

I better stop at 30. Do you have a few distortions you would like to add?

Nuclear War and the Prince of Peace

letter to the editor

“I am against war, against violence, against violent revolution, for peaceful settlement of differences, for nonviolent but nevertheless radical changes. Change is needed, and violence will not really change anything: at most it will only transfer power from one set of bull-headed authorities to another.”

Thomas Merton

“Technically I am not a pure pacifist in theory, though today in practice I don’t see how anyone can be anything else since limited wars (however ‘just’) present an almost certain danger of nuclear war on an all-out scale. It is absolutely clear to me that we are faced with the obligation, both as human beings and as Christians, of striving in every way possible to abolish war”.  

Thomas Merton 1961

“Nonviolence seeks to “win” not by destroying or even by humiliating the adversary, but by convincing him that there is a higher and more certain common good than can be attained by bombs and blood. Nonviolence, ideally speaking, does not try to overcome the adversary by winning over him, but to turn him from an adversary into a collaborator by winning him over.”

Thomas Merton 1968

“Perhaps peace is not, after all, something you work for, or “fight for.” It is indeed “fighting for peace” that starts all the wars. What, after all, are the pretexts of all these Cold War crises, but “fighting for peace”? Peace is something you have or you do not have. If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. Then you share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace. Of course I realize that arguments like this can be used as a pretext for passivity, for indifferent acceptance of every iniquity. Quietism leads to war as surely as anything does. But I am not speaking of quietism, because quietism is not peace, nor is it the way to peace.”

Thomas Merton 1966

I wrote the following on Christmas Day 2002. At the time, I was a Christian pastor. As you can see, I had wandered far from my Fundamentalist/Evangelical roots. This was published the next week in The Bryan Times.

Dear Editor,

What a wonderful and beautiful Christmas Day! The ground is blanketed with six or so inches of snow and all is peaceful and quiet. There is nothing more beautiful than a crisp winter morning after an overnight snowfall. This wintry scene causes me to reflect on the glory of Christmas Day and the meaning of it. Christmas is about redemption. Christmas is about Jesus the Son of God taking on human flesh, and being born of the virgin Mary in the city of Bethlehem. Jesus came into the world at the appointed time to bring redemption to all men. He came to proclaim peace and justice for all. He is called the Prince of Peace. Later in His life, Jesus would declare that peace and justice were to be character traits of those who profess to be followers of Him.

It is my thoughts of peace and justice that now begin to cloud my thoughts on this Christmas Day. Jesus came to bring peace, yet there is no peace. Jesus came to bring justice, yet there is no justice. Those who claim to be His followers show little concern for peace and justice. It seems they are all too busy with eating, drinking, and being merry to concern themselves with such weighty notions of peace and justice. But, concern ourselves with them we must.

I have been reading of late the Social Essays of the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. These essays were written at the height of the cold war and the Vietnam war. I am amazed at how timely Merton’s essays are for today, though they were written 40 years ago. In his time, Merton had to constantly battle censors within the Catholic Church who attempted to silence his anti-war message. Merton was quite creative in the ways he got his message to the public. His voice still speaks loudly today.

Merton’s essays on nuclear war, unilateralism, and preemptive war should be required reading for all Americans. Merton reminds us of the lunacy of the notion that a nuclear war can be fought and won. Once the buttons are pushed, the world as we know it ceases to exist. Thoughts of non-defensive, unilateral, preemptive war, Merton reminds us, is immoral and should be condemned by all Christians.

Today, America sits on the precipice of nuclear world war. We have become the big bully who thinks he can get his way by bluffing and threatening. Every once in a while the bully even whips some weakling to show who is the toughest. Such is the case with Iraq. But now we have added North Korea to our list of nations we are intent on bullying. Unfortunately, North Korea does not quiver and shake at our threatenings. They well remember an America who could not defeat them during the Korean War. Since then, the North Koreans have added nuclear and biological weapons to their arsenal. According to recent newspaper reports, the North Koreans are quite willing to use what weapons they have to defend themselves.

What troubles me the most in all of this is the silence emanating from the pulpits of America. It seems the only voice that is heard is from war mongers like Jerry Falwell. Does he, and those like him, speak for the rest of us? The German Church silently sat by while Hitler put into force the plans and programs that would later give us World War II and the Holocaust. Now, the clergy of America sit by silently as George Bush and Company put into force programs like the Patriot Act and the Home Security Act. George Bush threatens war and destruction on any nation that opposes him. Our insane notion of national superiority, coupled with immoral capitalistic greed, is leading us down a path that is certain to have catastrophic results, yet nary a word is heard from our pulpits.

The Scriptures are clear, Christians are called to be people of peace and justice. We are to be peace makers. It is absurd to suggest, as George Bush does, that by waging war we will have peace. War always begets war and history bears this out. Only peace begets peace. It is time for all nations, including America, to lay aside and destroy ALL weapons of mass destruction. Our nation needs to repudiate its doctrine concerning preemptive first strikes against other nations. The world needs to know that America will be a peacemaking nation who desires peace and freedom for all men. While we must leave place for the need of defensive war or even what the theologians call “just war”, we must forsake attacking and killing others just because we do not like their government structure or way of life. Muslims have a right to live as they live without America interfering in their affairs. It is time we stop exporting Western civilization as the answer to the world’s problems. Better for us to concern ourselves with our own moral, ethical, and civil failures than trying to fix the problems of the world.

Fifty or so years ago the phrase “better dead than Red” was coined. Unfortunately, that philosophy is still alive and well. The proponents of this notion believe it is better for us all to be dead than to have any government or civilization than we have now. We best think about the reality of such a notion because when the nuclear bombs start falling it will be too late. The Reagan/Bush Star War notion of missile defense will not save us once the bombs start to fall. It will only take a few bombs to render this world unlivable. Those who survive will wish that had not.

It is not too late. Voices need to be raised in opposition and protest to the war policy of the Bush administration. Protesters need to make their voice heard via letters and public protest. Conscientious men and women in the military need to say “I will not” to their leaders who want to slaughter them on the altar of political and economic gain. Politicians need to get some backbone and be willing to stand up to the war mongering hawks on Capitol Hill. They have been raised up “for such a time as this!”

Bruce Gerencser
Alvordton, Ohio