Monday, May 31, 2004

Thou shalt not kill

A quote on Father Jake's entry of May 29, "Repentance," over at his site, Father Jake Stops the World, has been nagging at me all weekend:

As Gandhi once quipped, "The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians."

Someone in my EFM class last year read a quote from Gandhi that I'll paraphrase, because I haven't been able to find the quote. It went something like, "I was attracted to Christianity until I met some Christians."

These are pretty stinging comments. Gandhi's experience of Christianity was colored by its association with British/Western imperialism in both Africa and India. He resented the attempt to westernize India and supplant Hinduism with Christianity, so he often flaunted Indian dress and manner to the colonialists.

Winston Churchill apparently despised Gandhi, and is quoted as saying, "It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parlay on equal terms with the representative of the Emperor-King." (1931)

I'm embarrassed at how racist and imperialist Churchill sounds in a lot of these quotes. Go to The Guardian to read the article "The Churchill you didn't know."

No wonder Gandhi saw Christians as hypocrites and liars. And he hit upon a sore spot, that Western civilization, that pretends to practice the Christianity that Christ taught, often makes a mockery of it.

Gandhi actually admired Jesus. Like the Moslems, Gandhi considered Jesus not to be the son of God, but a great moral teacher and instructor on the ways of nonviolence. Gandhi is said to have had a picture of Jesus in his study, one of the few pictures Gandhi had. He wanted to tap the nonviolent resistance that Jesus taught.

Like Jesus, the nonviolent Gandhi died a violent death at the hands of those for whom he gave himself. After achieving independence from Great Britain, Gandhi was assassinated by a fellow Hindu, a member of a group that felt Gandhi had betrayed the Hindu cause in the issue of partition of Pakistan into a separate Moslem state.

Here's an interesting parallel. Both Jesus and Gandhi espoused a tempered, nonviolent response to imperial aggressors who had colonized their countries. They not only found themselves in trouble with the imperial powers, but with those who felt they were not supportive enough of the cause of their own people -- not "Davidic" enough, not willing to fight for the cause of their countrymen or religion. Each was betrayed by his own, who felt betrayed.

Because of the dichotomy in human nature, I suppose any religion that espouses peace and nonviolence can be accused of hypocrisy -- whether Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism -- all show a longing for peace and nonviolence, while having elements that see violence as a necessary means to its ends or survival.

We human beings are aggressive and territorial. We have a built-in flight-or-fight response that often leads us to defensive or preemptive violence when we feel slightly threatened or want something (no unintentional comparisons to the Iraqi war here). Any parent who has watched her children push, hit, shove and grab is aware of this unpretty side of human nature.

This is the depressing news about us human beings. Yet I am optimist enough to have hope for the future. The story of God's people is still being worked out, and there is less acceptance of aggression and violence as means to political and personal ends in our society than perhaps ever been before, perhaps partly because have the capability to bring death more efficiently and on a larger scale than ever before. Our eyes are open to our own failings, and realization is the first step to repentance and change.

I strive to find that pacifist within myself, the person who would never use violence, who would ask God's forgiveness for those who do. How far can I follow this? How far can I go in passive-resistantly turning the other cheek in the face of aggression? What if those I love are threatened? Can I find the nonviolent way to respond? To meet violence with violence is the easier way.

God's challenge is as meaningful to us today as it was when Deuteronomy was written:

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Remembering Dad

With Memorial Day coming up, I've been thinking about my Dad's generation of World War II veterans. They fought a different type of war, one that would be considered "justifiable" by a true definition (not Diane Knipper's). The United States did not enter into this war until we were attacked.

Whether we should have waited so long to enter it was a subject of disagreement (many still called it "Mr. Roosevelt's war"), but there was no question -- we were not the aggressors.

Dad graduated from high school in the summer of '41, six months before Pearl Harbor, and joined the Navy. He did this to accomplish two goals: The first was to get out of Podunk, and the second was to get into a branch of service to his liking, because he knew war was coming and bringing with it the draft.

Dad ended up a medical corpsman. He served in the South Pacific for a good chunk of the war, and was on the island of Midway during the Battle of Midway.

"We were scared shitless," he told me.

He saw a lot of death that he never said much about. Toward the end of the war, he got his dream, though -- he was approved for flight school. Dad completed flight training, became a Navy pilot, and stayed in to make a career out of it.

Maybe some of Dad's wariness about war came out of his Pacific experiences. He was unquestioning about the need to go to war for self-defense, but he never considered it something to go into blindly. He always questioned politicians' motives.

Although he was a lifelong Republican, he was leery of the ultra-right and did not support Reagan's candidacy. He's not around anymore for me to ask what he would think of the current situation and current administration, but remembering his distrust of the military/industrial complex, I'm pretty sure what he would say.

I miss all the conversations we used to have.

Here's thinking of you, Dad.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

From the Book of Samuel, Chapter 12, for today's reading:

"Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. For the LORD will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you."

Today's Collect:

"O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."

My prayer:

Lord, thank you for all the great things you have done for me and for this country. Let your spirit strengthen us so we may turn from evil and serve your will with all our hearts, in prayerful obedience and in accordance with the teachings of Your Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

War, the religious right and profit

Pardon me if I'm a bit obsessive about this, but what's going on in this country and with this war is deadly serious business.

Take the melding of ultra-conservative politicos and ultra-con religious types into a fascist*, theocratic oligarchy. [*See the 12 Warning Signs of Fascism.]

That would have sounded absurd to me a few years ago, but not anymore.

The Bush administration used fear for political and economic gain. They created a false fear, we all know now, about Saddam Hussein having an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. They created fear about Iraqi involvement in a future terrorist attack. They built on the reaction to 9/11, not to go after Osama Bin Laden, but to build support for this attack on Iraq.

Diane Knippers of the IRD (see my previous post) helped do her part, writing a position paper that was published at the Episcopal Life site, a conservative online magazine:

Coming to terms with war
Christians appropriately support 'Just War'


IT'S TIME to get combative, if you'll pardon the expression, about pacifism.

Christians have historically responded to the question of war and violence in two ways. One way is the historic Just War tradition. The other option is pacifism...

...Some simplistically ask, "What would Jesus do?" The clear implication is that, since we know of no cases in which Jesus employed violence against persons, we must never do so either.

Meanwhile, in parishes like mine across the country, we pray for our sons and daughters who are off fighting a war. But what are we telling them about their duty as Christian soldiers? Are they second-class believers, engaged in counterproductive acts of evil?

I respect pacifists, even while I consider pacifism wrong... Political power is spurned, not sought as a method of achieving justice. Such pacifists might be able to acknowledge, with the Apostle Paul, the responsibility of governing authorities to wield the sword of justice, while also holding that Christians must not bear the sword. The apparent contradiction is resolved if Christians cannot hold responsibility in government...

The Just War tradition, the view held by the majority of Christendom, was developed to wrestle with the difficult moral issues that war presents. Before the fourth century, few Christians participated in what had been a thoroughly pagan Roman army. But when Christians achieved political power and responsibility, it became necessary to elucidate moral guidelines for the use of force.

Just War requires the correct use of force by a legitimate authority in order to bring justice and peace. War must be a last resort, and for a just cause. In its methods it must discriminate between combatants and innocent civilians. It must have a reasonable chance of success. It must be proportional in response. These principles reflect the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, courage and temperance.

This is what we should be teaching Episcopalians, whether they are soldiers, sailors, chaplains, policy makers or simply citizens and voters. This is the rich moral resource that ought to be made available during national crisis, not neglected or dismissed as the province of the seminary-trained.

Recently, I've learned that Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, placed his treatment of Just War under the heading of Charity. It is the love of neighbor that compels the Christian soldier to seek to protect that neighbor from the threat of violence and evil. While we may decline violent means to protect our individual selves, if we deny that protection to others we are denying neighborly love. Just wars are inherently defensive, and so reflect our commitment to love and peace. A soldier, then, is one who lovingly risks sacrificing his or her own life to preserve the life of another. And that does sound like something a follower of Jesus would do.

War is something Jesus would do? I don't think so. Notice how Knippers paints pacifists as simpletons. She makes it sound un-Christian to refuse to go to war.

Of course, the justifications she used didn't hold up in this Iraqi war. This war was not a last resort; it brought neither justice nor peace; it's not for a just cause.

But the religious right jumped right on it. It's unpatriotic and ungodly, as Knippers implied, not to support our sons and daughters in uniform. We've heard that argument before.

And you have to look at this, from Baptist Press in September 2002. Knippers and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, join together in Bush pro-war propaganda.

Meanwhile, read this interesting and revealing article from Sept. 2003 for the point of view of a Muslim in America on war and religious bigotry:
Preachers of Bigotry. If the link won't work, try

And what was all this jockeying for war for? I think even Bush's "revenge 'cuz they tried to kill my pappy" was a smokescreen. My father was a career Navy man and a patriot, but one who had seen enough to consider politicians' motives suspect.

"Always look to the money. Who's going to profit?" he would ask.

From a Wall Street Journal article this week:

The Pentagon has suspended nearly $160 million in payments to Halliburton Co. (HAL) as part of a lingering dispute over 10 massive bills to feed U.S. troops and other personnel in Iraq.

The suspension, which a Pentagon official said was necessary "to protect the Army's financial interests," could disrupt the provisioning of troops in Iraq if Halliburton withholds payment to the many subcontractors who cook and serve more than 300,000 meals a day.

Some Defense officials suggested that the financial cost to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root could grow substantially as the two sides feud over the proper charge for feeding U.S. personnel. KBR has billed the U.S. nearly $800 million for food charges going back to late 2002 at more than 50 dining facilities in Iraq and Kuwait.

Kellogg Brown & Root has a 10-year, multibillion dollar contract to provide support services. I would like to know how much we are paying them per meal.

I would like to see a breakdown of how much we are paying all the civilian contractors in this Iraqi war -- just how much we are paying to Halliburton and other companies whose executives and owners are friends of our president and vice president.

Just war, my a@@. This is all about George W. and the religious right trying to gain and consolidate power, and about profiteering.

The good news is that most people are horrified about what's happening in Iraq -- at the arrogance and moral decay in our leadership that's caused this situation, that is responsible for those horrible photographs of atrocities in Abu Ghraib. Hence, the memos about the Geneva Convention not applying -- an attempt to have a defense in place in advance in case the need arose. Guess what -- the sordid truth did come out. Hence, the president's dropping poll ratings.

We can't have the arrogance of the Crusaders who went into a Jerusalem where Christian, Jew and Muslim were living in harmony, went on a murderous rampage, then instituted a reign of tyranny. We should be able to learn SOMETHING from history instead of having "interrogators" force prisoners to renounce their beliefs.

What, exactly, is Christian about any of this? Jesus never advocated physical or mental harm to anyone. Even those who rejected him were allowed to walk away, like the rich young man.

Jesus would never have advocated a preemptive war. Even when we've fought wars that actually were just, in self-defense, I know Jesus was weeping.

We should learn that politics and religion make dangerous bedfellows.

This has to be stopped. While we have our freedoms (mostly, so far) to do it.

Rant over. For now.
A place to stand

The following came from an article in the online edition of the New York Times today: "Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy."

"It's pretty clear that the church elite in the mainline denominations are to the left of the people in the pews," said Diane Knippers, the institute's [Institute on Religion and Democracy or IRD] president and an Episcopalian who helped found the American Anglican Council and now sits on its board.

Mrs. Knippers said she could support the notion of divorce for irreconcilable differences, albeit perhaps with liberals leaving. "Rather than be embroiled in legal battles in church courts over sexuality, let's find a gracious way to say, `we will let you leave this system because you believe it violates your conscience.' "


I submit that, rather, Diane Knippers and the IRD sit very much to the right of most people in the pews -- and elsewhere in the church. The string-pullers of the IRD and the AAC, these ultra-rich and ultra-conservative bullies, are the elitists.

The fact that they've only been able to get a handful of dioceses in the Episcopal Church to sign on with the Network corroborates that most people aren't in their camp. Of course, that's not the noise that comes out of the mouths of Diane Knippers and her cohorts.

But Knippers has revealed their true intentions: to control the mainline churches -- Episcopal, United Methodist and Presbyterian -- by hook or crook. They will try to run out the elements they consider liberal -- gays and lesbians ("polluters of the church," Archbishop Peter Akinola called them), women, social do-gooders, anyone who might get in the way of their goals, which are ultimately political. Right-wing political, like the president they support, George W. Bush, self-proclaimed divine appointee, who spouts their rhetoric on homosexuality, marriage, etc.

I submit that Knippers is a right-wing elitist who thinks she knows much better than us everyday churchgoers what is good for the church, and much better than what was legitimately determined at convention, so she and her friends want to appropriate all the decision-making, by whatever means it takes.

Just like our current administration used whatever means it took to get in office. Just like they'll use any means it takes to get information of limited value from a few Iraqis, then play word games about what's covered under the Geneva Convention. Those Iraqis are the enemy in a religious war, after all.

The ends entirely justify the means, in their thinking.

Yep. You got it. I'm talking about fascism in the IRD and AAC that's tied to fascism in our government.

Just look at the board of the IRD and see the names -- Richard Melon Scaife, the Coors family, Christian reconstructionists Howard and Roberta Ahmanson (who also have ties to Diebold and ESS, manufacturers of "funny" electronic voting machines that like to give conservative results).

No, Mrs. Knippers. You can go if you're so unhappy with the Episcopal Church that you feel a divorce is necessary. May God be with you.

But to borrow a phrase from the AAC, I've found my place to stand(and thanks be to God for leading me to it!) and I'm going to stand firm.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It's been an incredibly busy week, with so many things to blog about I haven't taken the time to sit down, organize my thoughts and do it. Here's one of the things on my mind:

The awful truth

I've mentioned work a few times without saying what I do, which is work for a small newspaper. I don't exactly feel like a "journalist" -- I think of Washington Post or New York Times correspondents as "journalists." Writing features on businesses around town, church events, candidates for area city commissions and other locals is hardly the big leagues.

Now, though, I can claim to be a political columnist. My second anti-war piece in my own editorial-page column is being published this week.

This is strange in a good sort of way.

Five years ago, I could not have imagined this on the horizon. Writing has come out of my experience with the Holy Spirit. It began with some poetry, just for myself. Then I submitted some to a religious journal, where a couple of my poems and then essays were published. I started working at a local newspaper a little over a year ago.

When I was young, I wanted to write. Confidence in my ability to do it (and submit it!!) got lost along the way somewhere. It took the nudging of the Holy Spirit to get me to put fingertips to keyboard.

I'm still an amateur writer in most ways, but I'm following the Spirit, confident that God will lead me in the direction I am to go if I listen carefully.

More news later.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

More folly and evil
more awful revelations to come

I saw Pfc. Lynndie England in a TV interview this morning. Predictably, she tried to use the spin that what the American guards at Abu Ghraib did was not so bad -- just following orders. Besides, it was nothing compared to what the Iraqis did to some of the Americans -- dragging their burned bodies through the streets.

Pfc. England conveniently neglected to mention that the American abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib happened first, negating the Iraqi action, while also awful, as any sort of excuse. And even more importantly, our conduct as honorable people should not be dependent on what our oppositions does; otherwise, we become the enemy.

In world events, the worst of what do becomes who we are in the eyes of many. The kindnesses performed by so many American soldiers over there, soldiers who are disgusted and disheartened by the actions in Abu Ghraib, will be overshadowed by the inhumanity portrayed in these sickening photos.

And regarding the torture/mistreatment of captives: Do we really want to use the fascist self-justification that the ends justify the means?

Now word is getting out that there are photos of Iraqi women being raped by American guards in Abu Ghraib's cell block. This is a fate as bad or worse than death to a Muslim woman. It is considered a stain on a family's honor when a woman has sexual contact with a man not her husband, whether willing or not. Rape victims are sometimes made to disappear to protect the family's honor.

The Iraqi people can only think they've exchanged one set of abusive overlords (Saddam Hussein and company) for another (the United States) in Abu Ghraib, and in Iraq.

Satan remains at work in Iraq, playing on the folly/stupidity/cruelty of some of these guards and others like them, on the confused chain of command with "contractors" involved in military intelligence, and the plain evil of a war in which we should have never engaged.

Do you think the devil's not working on the Iraqis and their neighbors, as well? What more evil will we see come out of this war?

Satan is smiling and God is weeping.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Folly and evil

Sometimes evil is very intelligent, like Ted Bundy, very crafty, like the perpetrators of 9/11. Sometimes it is incredibly stupid, like the guards who mistreated the Iraqi prisoners. Or maybe it was their folly -- their thick-headedness, their arrogance -- that led them into evil. Claiming they were not trained on the Geneva Convention is no excuse for a lack of human decency.

Whose folly was it to put females in charge of male Iraqi prisoners to start with? I am every bit a feminist, but we have to be smart about conducting ourselves with people of other cultures.

In the Arab/Muslim world, having female guards boss these prisoners around is a kind of insult vastly worse than if it were men, and smirking women mistreating naked captives is a thousand times worse to them than if it were men. And it would still be unforgivable to the Iraqis if it were men.

What was the command over there thinking?

The photos of those American women humiliating their prisoners is going to haunt not just the Iraqi prisoners for years to come, but our country. Those American soldiers could not have done a better job of recruiting for Al Qaeda if they'd tried.

9/11, the terrorism at World Trade Center, was fresh in my mind because I've recently talked to someone who was there, heard the awful story of rescue attempts and bodies falling from buildings, and looked again at photos of that devastation. We were already in for more, but now we are in for much more, and worse, because of what these soldiers did.

The face of evil is sometimes truly stupid.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Heart of Darkness

A glance at the headlines makes me wonder why on earth God would consider humankind, that He would set us above even the angels.

A look at the smiling, smirking faces of our soldiers gloating over the mistreatment of prisoners charged to their care makes me wonder about the darkness that is within us. I wonder what their thinking was, these soldiers. Was it that they were "them," the enemy? Was it a kind of mob mentality? Was it that it was just fun, and the perpetrators never expected to be called to accountability?

The grinning "thumbs up" poses negate any argument that they were simply following orders, the good ol' Nazi-concentration-camp guard's excuse.

These soldiers knew photos were being taken -- they were posing for many of them. Who took them, I wonder, and was it the photographer's intent to blow the whistle, or were the photos being taken as trophies of sorts? How thick-headed not to realize they would make their way into other hands.

At any rate, those grinning faces are a reminder, not only of the evil of war, but the evil of which the human heart is capable. The heart of darkness that can be impenetrable when we do not open ourselves up to the light of God.

It is so easy to be indifferent or callous. Even as a Christian, it is easy to look at another person and see just an object of ministry and not a human being with hopes, aspirations, dreams and loves. It is so easy to write people off without even thinking about it. I know how easy it is to be be wrapped up in myself, to make it all about me instead of seeing another human being and what it is that Christ would have me do.

We are lost without that divine light. The dimmer it is, the more awful the things of which we are capable.

God, please send your light into all the dark places, into the prisoner of war camps, into the prisons, into war and hate and violence.

God, help me open my heart to you; let the light of your love fill it until I am so full of you my heart cannot bear to hold any more evil.
The rest of Good Old Boy's story

Good Old Boy hardly budged all night. Today, he's been more alert. He's even deposited his massive head on my knee for rubs. He is such a sweetheart.

Here's the piece I wrote about him in September, with his story:

Grace in a golden retriever

I've had Good Old Boy, a golden retriever. for over a year. I'm not certain how old he is---I 'inherited' him from a woman who died. Her family members didn't want to take him and left him, alone and sad, in her back yard.

I took him to the vet as soon as I retrieved him from the soggy yard (we had been having daily deluges of rain). The vet wasn't sure how old GOB was, but gave me an estimate of eight, which I knew to be a conservative estimate, and the dog was probably more like 10. The vet was afraid I'd decide to have GOB put down if I thought he was too old, for GOB had heartworms. GOB survived the heartworm treatment and settled right down to life in my household.

GOB had a little thing on his shoulder, that was at first thought to be a cyst from a tick bite. I kept cleaning the sore and watching it grow bigger. It started weeping fluid. I took GOB back to the vet, and they agreed with me, the thing had to be taken off. The vet performed surgery to remove it. It was cancerous.

I called the next day about picking him up from the clinic, and was told it would be better if GOB spent another day and night there. He was recovering slowly from the anesthetic, and they wanted to keep an eye on him.

I called back the next day. The assistant said I could pick up GOB that afternoon, but he was still recovering slowly. They had given him a shot to perk him up, but he still wasn't getting to his feet. They thought he might do better at home, off the slick tile floor of the clinic.

When I went to get GOB, the vet reiterated this information, but I could see the worry in his eyes. GOB might not ever get back to his feet.

I pulled my car as near the side door as I could, so the vet wouldn't have to carry him so far, but was still 15 yards or so away. The vet staggered out with all 70 pounds of GOB in his arms and sat the dog down gently on the ground. Standing by the car, I called GOB's name. He didn't hear me--he's almost deaf. I called a bit louder, and he heard me.

GOB's head came up and scanned the area. He saw me. With deliberate effort, he drew his four limbs underneath himself and pulled himself to his feet. He had a long, Frankensteinlike series of stitches across one shoulder. Never taking his eyes off me, he started a loping, staggering, sideways run straight to me. The vet's jaw dropped.

GOB nuzzled my hand, went to pee, nuzzled my hand again, went to pee again, came back. I opened the back door of the car for him. The vet tried to help him, but GOB crawled in all by himself before the vet could get his hands around him to lift him into the car.

I have often reflected on that vision of GOB loping toward me.

This is like God's grace. Rushing toward me, to meet me where I am. Rejoicing. Loving me unconditionally and unreservedly, though I know, so undeservedly.

It's humbling.

Every time GOB leans against my legs--his method of making me stop whatever I'm doing and pet him--and looks up at me with those soft brown eyes, I am reminded of God's grace.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Of butts, baldness and life for a good old dog

It's been a few days of dogs.

First, The Best Dog in the World, or Betsy, has way too much fur for a Florida dog.

Long and thick, it bounces in the air when she runs. This time of year, it starts coming loose in clumps, in big tufts of fur all over the house. This doesn't just last a month or two. No, this shedding business goes on until December. I've been getting her clipped short in the spring and it grows out by chilly weather.

I took her to the groomer Wednesday, and decided to let the groomer bathe Good Old Boy, too, because my well water is still awfully chilly for his old bones to bathe him in the yard and I have a hard time hoisting him out of the bathtub. He's a big golden retriever, about 80 pounds worth, and he's a little arthritic.

When the groomer went to get Good Old Boy out of the crate for me, he slipped on the tile floor and came down on his bottom and he started bleeding. We found a nasty-looking tumor up under his tail, above his anus.

I took him to the vet the next day, thinking this was the end of Good Old Boy. He's too old (I think he's 12 at least, maybe more like 14) and the last surgery, to remove a tumor from his shoulder, was awfully hard on him.

The vet, a new one at the animal hospital I use, said the tumor appeared to be mostly on the surface, and it should be a much easier removal than the last one. Good Old Boy's heart is in great shape for a dog his age [especially considering he had heart worms when I got him a couple of years ago] she said, and x-rays showed no cancer spots on his lungs, liver or spleen -- the usual path of migration. His arthritis didn't even look bad on the x-rays, according to the vet.

So I brought him back this morning and they operated. He came home this evening with a bit of a hole in his butt, a little larger than anticipated, but he should be okay, they said, and without his testicles, because testosterone feeds these kinds of tumors, so it was better to castrate him. Poor Old Boy, with insult added to injury. Not that he's needed his nuggets. Betsy is spayed and just mocks any romantic interest that may come into his brain.

I picked him up this evening instead of letting him stay there overnight, because I know he will rest more comfortably on the padded carpet at home than at the vet's clinic. And even though he's still out of it from the gas and pain killers, he knows he's home. He hates the vet's office. It's not their fault; it's just all the awful things that have happened to him there, like heartworm treatment, surgery, boarding.

So I've got one butt-holed dog and one near-bald dog -- Betsy had a close shave, herself, but she doesn't mind.

Good Old Boy is such a loving, good-natured dog, patient through all his tribulations. I'm praying for him to have a good recovery.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The face of evil

How can we look at the face of war and not see its evil? How can we especially not see the evil of this war in Iraq? Every bit of news coming out of there is worse than the one before and it is not because of the Iraqis.

What's being done to those prisoners is what I might expect to read in a history book about the Nazis or Mussolini's minions. It brings a vision of the SS. It is part of a growing fascism in our government, in our leadership.

I read this from "What is Fascism," at a holocaust remembrance site (
What is Fascism. I added comments of my own.

Fascism and Nazism as ideologies involve, to varying degrees, some of the following hallmarks:

*** Nationalism and super-patriotism with a sense of historic mission.
Yup. It's our manifest destiny, as the nation chosen by God to whup them furriners.

*** Aggressive militarism even to the extent of glorifying war as good for the national or individual spirit.
We don't need the UN. We'll just go in and whup 'em.

*** Use of violence or threats of violence to impose views on others (fascism and Nazism both employed street violence and state violence at different moments in their development).
Well, they were being unpatriotic, weren't they?

*** Authoritarian reliance on a leader or elite not constitutionally responsible to an electorate.
Don't think the prez or v.p. either feel "responsible to an electorate."

*** Cult of personality around a charismatic leader.
Dubya wishes he could be charismatic.

*** Reaction against the values of Modernism, usually with emotional attacks against both liberalism and communism.
"We need to get back to the inerrancy of Scripture -- as interpreted by me."

*** Exhortations for the homogeneous masses of common folk (Volkish in German, Populist in the U.S.) to join voluntarily in a heroic mission_often metaphysical and romanticized in character.
Well, they're going to bring back the draft because they can't get enough "common folk" to volunteer. But that football player who turned down a pro-football contract to go fight exemplifies the romanticized image of the hero on a mission, and the administration certainly used that -- while not wanting us to see the flag-draped coffins of the "common folk." Not that he wasn't sincere in his patriotism.

*** Dehumanization and scapegoating of the enemy -- seeing the enemy as an inferior or subhuman force, perhaps involved in a conspiracy that justifies eradicating them.
This is what we are seeing with the mistreatment of prisoners now.

*** The self image of being a superior form of social organization beyond socialism, capitalism and democracy.
Yup. That divine mandate stuff.

*** Elements of national socialist ideological roots, for example, ostensible support for the industrial working class or farmers; but ultimately, the forging of an alliance with an elite sector of society.
As in Dubya's economic theories?

*** Abandonment of any consistent ideology in a drive for state power.
Yeah, whatever it takes to win. Say and do anything.

Listen, people. Watch out for those electronic voting machines that seem to have a will of their own, that come up with odd results. These are the same machines that are built, maintained and programmed by companies whose owners and directors will help Dubya get re-elected by any means.

In identifying "goodness" and "superiority" with "us," there was a tendency to identify "evil" with "them." This process involves scapegoating and dehumanization. It was then an easy step to blame all societal problems on "them," and presuppose a conspiracy of these evildoers which had emasculated and humiliated the idealized core group of the nation. To solve society's problems one need only unmask the conspirators and eliminate them.

This last paragraph describes what's happening in the church: having those "sodomites." as one right-wing blogger calls them, in the church makes the homophobes feel "emasculated." Get rid of them. They're going to destroy our families and the institution of marriage and corrupt our children. Gay/lesbian folk seem to be responsible for every social ill in this country.

Found this at a Dennis Kucinich support group site. Hope they'll do more for the Democratic Party in the election -- this is good stuff. Take a look: 12 warning signs of fascism

Does anyone else see not just creeping, but galloping fascism taking hold of our culture? Or how deeply the religious right and the political right are meshing together in our country, and how dangerous this is to freedom?