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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2009 arrow September 10, 2009

September 10, 2009
September 10, 2009: The One After 9/09

Will be today. And although it is still 09/09/09 as I post this, I find I cannot sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time and I have a burning desire to repeat myself;

With excerpts from KEEP HOPE ALIVE
 because:

 
Jesus spoke in parables, but I tell stories.

And I am an
 American Irish dissident who has been to Israel and Occupied Palestine seven times on my dime since June 2005;

Driven by a desire to learn the true facts on the ground and report it all and much more on WeAreWideAwake.org

I always return home heart broken over what I witnessed, heard, and felt in my gut and have cried buckets of tears and spilled much cyber ink.

I also have a simmering rage about the APATHY of a particular people about the situation-'my own' so to say- because we all claim to be Christian.

Since my first trip to the other side of The Apartheid Wall, I knew I was responsible and culpable in that abomination for I pay Taxes in the USA that build it and it denies human rights to the indigenous people.

The so called holy land is in pieces: Bantustans.

But; as hopeless as it all looks-I still maintain a radical and audacious HOPE; I also know that THE ONLY causes worth fighting for are the hopeless ones!

We truly do have "it in our power to begin the world again"-Tom Paine

All we need is the desire to Do Something and Hearts of Handala: Arabic for HOPE

"HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine



"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever.  Use a pile driver.  Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again.  Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack...And never, never, never, never, ever, never give up." - Sir Winston Churchill


"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. ... Genius will not. ... Education will not. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."- Calvin Coolidge


Once upon a time, there was an old widow, who lived in a certain town with a judge who cared nothing about justice, people or God. But an old widowed crone kept coming to him with her plea, "Grant me justice against my adversary."

The judge ignored her until she became such a PIA [pain in the ass] he finally muttered to himself, "Even though I don't fear God or care a hoot about this old crone, she has become such a PIA, I will give into her, just to get her to leave me alone!" [Paraphrased from a story Jesus told in Luke 18 1-5]






Excerpted from KEEP HOPE ALIVE

Chapter 16: A CONFRONTATIONAL CONVERSATION


“Father Paul, you cannot possibly be telling me that an Episcopal priest has been taken in by fundamentalist theology?” Terese incredulously asked the new assistant to the rector at St. Joan of Arc Episcopal Church in Orlando, who also served at the noon mass every Wednesday.

Father Paul Hendricks was a passionate evangelist on a mission to convert every Jew he encountered to become a Christian. Terese had kept her silence for the first six months she had been listening to his Wednesday noon sermons, but finally broke her silence after the rest of the parishioners had departed.

Paul sighed and shook his head. “Look, Mrs. Hunter, I read your op/ed in the newspaper about Israel and Palestine, and we both agree we want peace; we just go about it differently.”

“Father, let me say that the fastest growing cult in the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism. Approximately 25 million U.S. Christians believe as you do, and I am most depressed to see that the simple answers of fundamentalism have reached their tentacles into the thinking man’s church. You just preached for thirteen minutes on Genesis 12:3--‘I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse: and in you all the families of the world are blessed’--as if God meant blessings to be political power and military might. Father, surely you understand that the belief of the ancient Israelites, who held that they were chosen, as if they were somehow special from others, as if God esteemed them above others, is just basic primitive nationalism. Come on, Father, looking down on one’s enemies to foster one’s own tribal interest and praying to God to smite one’s enemies is what the ancients did. Isn’t it about time we moved beyond that limited thinking?”

Father Paul clenched his fists and held them behind his back, as he suppressed a simmering rage. He stood nine inches above Terese’s upturned head, and with a slick smile and condescending tone told her, “Mrs. Hunter, you are very misled. The text is understood to mean a blessing to Abraham’s lineage--”

Terese cut in. “Agreed! And Genesis 12:3 was promised even before Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation, and Isaac, the Jew, were born! And what about the very first mention of Israel? Jacob was renamed Israel for having wrestled and struggled with God. That is how I understand Israel; everyone who struggles and wrestles with God is Israel, too. Israel means more than a geographical location, Father Paul.”

“Mrs. Hunter, the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures, and God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, exclusive, and will not be abrogated. I refer you to Genesis 12:1-7, 15:4-7, 17:1-8; Leviticus 26:44-45; and Deuteronomy 7:7:8.”

 
“And Father, I refer you to Matthew 5:43-45, which does not only critique Genesis 12:3; it blows it apart, for Christ commanded, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despite-fully use you, that you maybe children of your Father.’”

The two had reached Paul’s SUV and he silently prayed he could make a swift escape, but Terese had positioned herself at the driver’s door, and if he were to open it swiftly, she could be easily moved aside. Father Paul entertained the thought for more than a moment, but remained mute and still, as the tiny woman exploded with a torrent of words.

"Look, blind allegiance to the Israeli government has allowed them to become a big bully, and isn’t God always on the side of the oppressed? My sense is that you Zionists see the political state of Israel as a replacement for Christ, at the center of the Christian faith, and that certainly is not Christianity!

"How do you take Genesis 12:3 to literally mean that blessings equal land and political power, yet ignore God’s promise in Genesis 21:17-20 to ‘make a great nation out of Ishmael’s descendants and that ‘God was with the boy.’ Yet your way of thinking allows the growing apartheid wall to continue, and supports occupation and oppression of people that God also made promises too.”

“Mrs. Hunter, why don’t you make an appointment and we can discuss this further? I really have to go.”

“Okay, I can take a hint, but let me leave you with this: when religion and politics are in bed together, everybody gets screwed! The Israeli government is using you Zionists as apologists in support of their agenda of illegal occupation and settlements in the West bank, Golan, and Gaza, on literal biblical grounds taken out of context. Your blind allegiance to every act of Israel, understood as being orchestrated by God and which should therefore be condoned, supported, and even praised, makes me want to puke! And I wonder about the true motives of Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon and love to speculate on who gets ‘left behind.’ Christ was very clear that there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, but get left out. God has always been on the side of the oppressed, and your uncritical endorsement and justification for Israel’s racist and apartheid policies are an abomination.”

The stunned and silent priest watched in relief as Terese turned, flipped her braid, and walked away.

PS-Dear Reader: This chapter is based on an actual email conversation I had with an Episcopal priest. He gave up talking to me after my third email to him. I have been informed that he is now in Jerusalem connected with the Holocaust Memorial.




 CHAPTER 10: THAT DAY
KEEP HOPE ALIVE




Khaled, now seventy-five and a newlywed since July, turned to Fatiha and cried, “This madness must stop. Retaliation only ups the ante, and the wheel is still in spin. But I am nearing my end. I have been dreaming of mass communication for decades and olive trees my entire life; now, I must act!”

Within hours of viewing the tragic news that stopped the world on that Tuesday morning, Khaled phoned his many friends: Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others to gather in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola.

He told everyone, “Praying for peace without action is like praying to win the lottery and never buying a ticket. But unless we work for peace, saying ‘peace, peace, peace,’ means nothing. If we want peace, we must work for justice.”




Jack had been restless for three days. Julianne was in New York City at her sister’s home and wasn’t due back for three more. His knees began throbbing more the moment she drove out of sight on the morning of September 8, 2001.

After returning home on Monday night from the BLAC/Brother Lawrence Addictions Center, Jack mindlessly ate two Lean Cuisines, then spent the rest of the evening trying to read. He fell asleep just before dawn and dreamt he was on the blacktop running track at the middle school where Julianne taught seventh grade English, where they both roller bladed in the early mornings before the students arrived on campus.


Jack spent a ten-hour day at the BLAC, as its founder and administrator. The mornings on the track were when the couple had their best conversations. He inhaled the aroma of tar as he wondered what was keeping Julianne from him. He bladed for what felt like hours, when a silver spandex-clad apparition with a golden helmet flew by, sharply turned, and with a backward stroke, called out:

 “Hi, Jack, don’t look down; don’t look back; look out straight, Jack, look out straight, don’t look back!”

“Yeah, I can; I can do that,” Jack replied, but the apparition had already vaporized into the distance.

And then Jack rolled onto an exquisite grace, knees freed from bone-on-bone grinding and not an ache in his fifty-three-year old body that had been abused by two motor vehicle accidents and hours of overuse syndrome. Jack glided on the blacktop effortlessly for hours, when suddenly, a roar of thunder assaulted his senses, and his eyes were magnetized upward, to view two fireballs thrown down from on high, miles from where he stood. He saw them hit the ground; one traveled east, the other west, and then they circled back around, burning a path straight towards him. Just before they collided, Jack woke up, not believing he had only been dreaming.

Not until after he had downed a pot of coffee did the phone ring. “Jack? Are you watching TV?" Maureen, the day supervisor at the BLAC inquired, as she fingered the framed mission statement that sat upon every employee’s desk and on the north wall of every resident’s room:


‘Peace, peace, peace. God’s peace be upon you. But living today in a time of war, crying out peace, peace, peace, where there is no peace. Fearing age and death, pain and darkness, destitution and loneliness, people need to get back to the simplicity of Brother Lawrence.’ [Dorothy Day]

Brother L was a monk in the 17th century, who lived in a monastery and was consigned to the kitchen. He spent his life baking bread, chopping onions, scrubbing pots and floors. He also ran all the errands, did all the shopping, and always brought back the finest of wine. He loved his brothers deeply, but they merely tolerated his many eccentricities, or he was totally ignored.

Truly, I tell you, if ever a saint was born to bring hope to the addicted and those afflicted with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, he is the one. For Brother L learned that by continually re-remembering the Lord, no matter what the activity, or where one might be, the Lord was ever-present and a holy habit was born, just re-remembering that.


Jack thrived on curiosity and spoke as he reached for the remote. “Mo, you know I never watch TV in the daytime; what’s up?”

“Well, isn’t Julianne visiting her sister in the city?”

“Yeah, in fact, today’s plan was to meet her sister’s co-workers on Floor 101 of the North Twin Tower.”

“Jack, turn the TV on.”

“Oh, Mo, I just did; my God, is it the end of the world?” He spoke as he hung up the phone and never heard Mo say, “I don’t know.”

Jack knew in his bones that Julianne had been vaporized as he recalled a song he had first heard at a Bob Dylan concert in 1981:

See the massacre of the innocent
City’s on fire
Phones out of order
I see the turning of the page.
Curtain’s rising on a new age.
See the Groom+ still waiting at the altar.

And then, II Chronicles 6:1 welled up within him: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.”




Dr. Jake Hunter heard the news that stopped the world for a day from his third patient of the morning.

Terese didn’t know until Jake called her before his next patient.


Kat had been dancing in her loft studio in Panacea, Florida, all morning, ignoring neurological symptoms. She did not turn her cell phone on until 11:45 a.m., and then gasped, “Christ, who died? The entire Hunter clan has called me. I’ll phone Mom,” she said, just as “Let it Be” chimed from her cell.

“Hi, Kat, I have been trying to reach you.”

“Mom, what’s the deal? What’s going on?”

“Turn the TV on.”

Kat did and gasped, “Oh my God, is it the end of the world?”

“Nobody knows.”

“Mom, I am coming home. I’ll bring Bob; I think I’ll stay awhile.”

“Okay, okay, drive carefully.”

Kat packed three weeks’ worth of clothes, put Bob, her blue-eyed cat, in his kennel, and wrote a sign for the front door that read “KATZ STUDIO CLOSED UNTIL???”


She taped it to the door and never looked back again.

“Bob, I have been dreading telling dad about my symptoms, because I don’t want to admit them. But, I have been summoned from the land of denial and must face the facts on the ground. If I have the dreaded Gehrig’s disease like my cousin Nick, I will be livid. He was a saint; I am not. I am not dancing as I once did; I don’t glide anymore, I have gotten clumsy, and all of these muscle twitches are driving me crazy! I am pissed! I am too young for this! Oh Christ, I hope it is just a bad cervical spine, like Dad’s. I can live with the pain, but I must be able to move about, or I’ll go nuts. Nick was a saint even when he couldn’t move, but I will be an unholy terror if I can’t dance. Bob, if I have ALS, will you please just shoot me and put everyone out of my misery?”


Kat sighed deeply and popped in a favorite mix she had burned of Tom Petty and U2, and then lost herself in the music until Bono began to wail:

If I could yes I would,
If I could, I would let it go
Into the half light and through the flame
Into the light and to the day,
Let it go and so to find the way,
To let it go, and so to find the way.
I am wide awake, I am wide awake, wide awake
If I could, you know I would:
Let it go:
Desperation,
Dislocation,
Separation,
Condemnation,
Revelation,
In temptation,
Isolation,
Desolation,
Let it go and so to find a way
I am wide awake,
I am wide awake,
I am wide awake, wide awake!

Kat mused, “Strange, how seeing that horror on TV woke me up to some things, too.”



The Sunday after that day the world stood still, the Hunters’ seven children and eighteen grandchildren had gathered together. Everyone was down at the lake except for Jake, Terese, and Kat, who were in the family room.

Jake contemplated Kat’s chances of having ALS or a bad neck, and brooded.

Terese said, “There’s an interfaith gathering today in Shea Stadium, and I want to view it.”

She turned the TV on just as the shofar sounded in New York City, and hundreds of priests, rabbis, sheiks, and clerics of all kinds somberly filed into the stadium in front of a sorrowful nation. Kat became luminous. “Wow, look at how beautiful all of that is! All of those holy ones in their uniqueness and all the shades of people in the stands reaching out to each other — how blessed we are in America to live among such diversity, and how beautiful it is to see us coming together out of such sorrow. This is the way we can let the pain go: by reaching out to the stranger, we comfort them and heal ourselves. America’s worst day has brought us and the world together. Why, it’s only a few angry mad men who did the evil; the international community can confront this together, by confronting this evil as sister and brother.

"What an incredible opportunity America has been given to lead the world this way and not seek revenge. Imagine the dysfunctional family of Father Abraham building on this momentum, to confront the evil that is terrorism, by confronting it with good and unity among us. Didn’t St. Paul say that the only way to resist evil is with good?

"Imagine how much better the world will be when America chooses not to use military power, now that we all know our nuclear arsenal cannot protect us American’s will want to discover why these mad men did this evil and go after that! The global village is the community to address this issue; terrorism is everywhere, and now America has woken up to the fact that we are not immune. We are all in this world together; we will either learn to share this world as sister and brother, or we will blow it up.”


Terese responded. “Kat, human nature is to strike back and seek revenge, but we have the witness of Christ, Gandhi, and Reverend King how to effectively respond to violence. I hope and pray this president follows their ways, but I see hawks circling.”

Jake cleared his throat and intoned, “Another thing is that acting out of fear makes one do stupid, irrational things. You know I have always said to never ever react out of fear, for the gospel says fear not! And fear drives out compassion and hardens the heart.”

Kat was mesmerized by the TV, Terese sighed deeply repeatedly, and Jake brooded.


In a log cabin nestled within the thickly wooded mountains of upstate New York, Jack sat in a darkened room with the TV on, but he wasn’t watching. When the shofar blew and grabbed his attention, he froze until the ram’s horn went silent, and then popped open his sixth beer of the day, for Jack had fallen off the wagon.

+The Groom in Christian lingo is Jesus Christ


16 Days in Palestine






   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
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"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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