Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pay no attnetion to that man behind the curtain

Photo above: Frank Morgan as the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” is revealed by Dorothy’s dog Toto as who he really is.

In a move reminiscent of the famous line from The Wizard of Oz – “Pay not attention to that man behind the curtain” – once again George W. is trying to misdirect our attention. Fortunately the particular curtain that George W,’s diatribe is hidden behind this time is 10 pages of newspaper. Thank goodness he isn’t front page news this time. There is perhaps a reason for this. The caption of George W. delivering a commencement speech to the U.S. Coast Guard academy reads as follows:

“Trying to rally support for an unpopular war, President Bush used declassified intelligence Wednesday to equate the U.S. led fight in Iraq with the broader battle against al-Qaida.”

It is not enough that the funding for his war – and make no mistake my friends, this is HIS war and no one else’s – is “in the bag” as they say. It appears as if George W. is not satisfied with winning, everyone else must loose. In this case the people who are losing are not just those who will die in Iraq, but all of humanity.

Here are some quotes, from the Associated Press, from George W.’s commencement speech…

“In the minds of al-Qaida leaders, 9/11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come.”

“It is tempting to believe that the calm here at home after 9/11 means that the danger to our country has passed.”

“Here is America, we are living in the eye of a storm. All around us, dangerous winds are swirling and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.”

Well my friends, the biggest wind of the moment seems to be coming from a blowhard president trying desperately to build up the failing support of the American public for his war. This is a president who has to hold disaster relief for Americans ransom to get his funding.

The first point is this. Even if George W. is correct, stepping up or even continuing the war will not weaken terrorism – it will exacerbate it. Back in graduate school I did my master’s thesis on the causes of terrorism. Terrorism, my friends, is a “war in the shadows” and I am not the first one to call it that (if you can find the original quote, feel free to chime in). You cannot blow up terrorism with tanks. You cannot root it out with missiles. And a war will not stop it. Tell me you want to spend more money on the United States Coast Guard, and keep them here at home? I am all for it. Tell me you want to put PROFESSIONALS in airport security in this country and I will back you 100%. But trying to literally “scare up” some support for his war is just pathetic. My only guess is that George W. wants to ensure that widows and mothers all over the world have more to mourn about this Memorial Day.

But the larger issue is not just this war, but ANY war. Remember back when George W. started the war? He told us all about prayer to God for guidance to got to war? Well an article published by “The Independent” by Rupert Cromwell (source: talks about just that:

“The revelation comes after Mr Bush launched an impassioned attack yesterday in Washington on Islamic militants, likening their ideology to that of Communism, and accusing them of seeking to "enslave whole nations" and set up a radical Islamic empire "that spans from Spain to Indonesia". In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did.’”

I am not sure what God George W. is praying to that tells him to start wars and go kill people, but it isn’t any God I know. But that does lead me to a larger point. Why would God allow this war? I am sure many have asked themselves just that. One the face of it, the short answer is simply “Free will”. God didn’t start the war, a man did – a man named George W. Bush. Some people have pointed out to me that God led the Israelites into war in the old testament. The Old Testament in the Bible is full of scenes of such as the Egyptian Armies being drown at the bottom of the Red Sea, and the people of Jericho being smashed under their own walls – all at the hand of God. I had this same discussion with mother superior this morning. We discussed what God, in the person of Jesus, said in the New Testament:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17

Many times I have discussed God’s new commandment – “love one another as I have loved you.” So God has not abolished the old testament. If you fulfill His new commandment to love one another as He loves us you will be in obedience with God’s will. But remember that Christ taught that it is important to obey the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the Law. When God has spoken to Mankind, he has done so in ways they can best understand. When Mother Mary spoke to St. Bernadette at Lourdes she did so in ways that she could understand – Bernadette had to memorize the words “immaculate conception.” Above all, one thing is important and that is this:


Today, my friends, I will leave you with a short story by none other than Mark Twain. It is called “The War Prayer” – read on .

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.

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