Buy a Gun for Your Son

 

Buy a Gun for Your Son

Words and Music by Tom Paxton

Hallelujah, Dads and Mommies,
Cowboys, Rebels, Yanks and Commies
Buy yourselves some real red blooded fun.
If you want to make the grade,
You’ve got to have a hand grenade,
And a fully automatic G.I. Gun.

[Cho:]
Buy a gun for your son right away, Sir
Shake his hand like a man and let him play, Sir.
Let his little mind expand, Place a weapon in his hand,
For the skills he learns today will someday pay, Sir.

Pound that kid into submission
‘Till he’s mastered Nuclear Fission
Buy him plastic warheads by the score,
Once he’s got the taste of blood,
He’s gonna sneak up on his buddies
Starting his own thermo-nuclear war.

[Cho.]

Buy him khakis and fatigues,
And sign him up in little leagues,
Give him calisthenics as a rule.
Once you’ve banished fear and dread,
Then pat his seven year-old head,
And send him off to military school.

[Cho]

Once he’s grown to be a man,
He might get tired of blasting Granny,
Then you’ll see a crisis coming on.
Don’t get worried, don’t get nervous.
Send that kid into the service,
Let him rise into the Pentagon.

[Cho]

At the Pentagon he’ll rise.
The President he will advise,
His reputation growing all the while.
With his picture on the wall,
He’ll get that long-awaited call,
And press the firing buttons with a smile.

[Cho]

Befriending Strangers

How are we to deal with people who come to us from the homes they have left behind?

These people are strangers to us at first. He or she is the Unknown Person and at this point we know practically nothing about this Stranger. Maybe we know something of his or her homeland’s reputation or maybe all we know is what this person looks like to us. Until there is initial contact there is no real knowing of the person and no meaningful shift can begin toward “de-strangerizing” the Unknown Person. Before we can actually know the Stranger as a fellow human being it is all too easy to project our own fears onto that person.

Perhaps the most common thing to imagine, as well as perhaps the most understandable, is to see the Stranger as a threat. This is a bit of ancient survival programming we have inherited courtesy of our distant ancestors. We modern people might be tempted to Boo and Hiss at our primitive ancestors for burdening us with this innate fearfulness but let’s not. Instead let’s honor them because the truth is that without their survival skills we wouldn’t be here to reflect on this issue. We, their descendants, need to recognize that bit of ancient programming for what it is: A once-upon-a-time necessity. The mistake that we must avoid now is to use this relic of human programming as if it is today’s cutting edge technology.

One of our characteristics as human beings is our inherent capacity to transcend our primitive instincts. We are built to learn and grow from our mistakes and slowly evolve toward becoming more enlightened beings. As a species, we are a work-in-progress, thousands of years into a process that is still quite incomplete.

Growing up requires us to move beyond our primitive Fear-based orientation to life. We need to mature into a Love-based orientation to living in our world. Embracing a Love-based mode of being and interacting does not mean that we no longer get scared. We cannot simply delete the old programming. Like it or not, it is part of who we are. What it means is that we no longer have to be limited by fear as we live our lives. As we increasingly move into a more mature level of consciousness we have greater access to our intrinsic capacity for Love-based interactions with others.

None of this means that we suddenly throw all caution to the wind. It means that we move through our situations with appropriate care based on a rationality that naturally emerges from healthy love.

As we return to our hypothetical Stranger, we need to make contact with this as yet Unknown Person in order to have actual observations to take the place of our primitive fear-based fantasies. A meaningful question to consider is: How shall we choose to initiate contact with the Stranger?

The most reasonable way to make contact with Strangers is to welcome them as potential friends. Yes, we still need to be aware of possible dangers and observe proper caution as we start making contact but this choice represents the best way to utilize our own freedom for maximum advantage. If we initiate our encounter with the Stranger in a benevolent fashion the probability is that the Stranger will reciprocate. If we treat him or her as a threat it is likely that he or she will respond to our fear with fear of their own and start seeing us as a threat as well. This ultimately leads to preparation for the anticipated attack.

Perhaps our greatest “sin” is our willingness to de-humanize and demonize our fellow human beings. Under the right conditions it becomes tempting to reduce the Different Other to some sort of Offending Impediment to our way of life. Part of this temptation may also include a component of righteousness that can (and too often does) reach the level of the Arrogant Assumption that one is “doing God’s will” by de-humanizing the Different One. There is, however, something vitally important that needs to be recognized: It is entirely possible to escape from the prison of fearing and hating the Different One and emerge into what can legitimately be called a state of recovery. This involves an initial process of step-back-from Untruth and then a step of move-toward Truth. At first this recovery can be understood as a growing awareness and conscious rejection of the lies previously assumed to be truths: the mental-trap illusion of “Us vs. Them” and the associated false belief that there just isn’t enough of what we all need so someone will have to do without (“and it’s not gonna be us!”). It is also becomes a process of discovering what is actually true and consciously moving in that direction: every one of us is very human and we are not nearly so different or separate from each other as we once thought. There is also enough for all of us if we are willing to let go of our fear and the greed that emerges from it.

Our fear of the Stranger is solvable and it is solved by becoming aware of the Truth. The Truth, in this case, comes as the answer to the question of who we and the Stranger really are. In each case the answer is the same. Each of us, without exception, is a Sacred Child of the Ultimate Mystery. We all come from the same Original Source of Creation regardless of whether one prefers to think of this as the story of the cosmic “Big Bang”, the Genesis story or any of the countless creation stories human beings have been sharing with each other for thousands of years. If we can accept this perspective, the Stranger is nothing more than someone at a costume party who has not yet taken off their mask and allowed us to see their true face. It may help them to do so if we are willing to show them our true face first.

Finally, it is not so much a question of who the Stranger is but rather a question of who we are and what kind of people we want to be in relation to that Stranger. What are our intentions? Do we want them to be afraid or do we want them to feel welcome?

How would we want to be treated if we were the Strangers?

Christians and the Temptations of Nationalism

“When in the 1950s I asked my (then orthodox and rigidly catechized) American Catholic students: ‘Are you an American who happens to be a Catholic, or are you a Catholic who happens to be an American?’ all of them chose the former.”

“When Germany invaded Russia, Hitler ex­pected Catholics to support his ‘crusade’ against atheistic Bolshevism. No matter how wrong the ideas and the practices of Commu­nism, Jaegerstaetter said, this was but another invasion wrought upon innocent people. There was nothing in the practices and doctrines of Nazism that was preferable to those of Communism.”

The following article is very relevant to our times even though it was written in 1992. It is reposted with the kind permission of the folks at the New Oxford Review — D.F.

*****************************************************************************

The “God and Country” Trap

Christians and the Temptations of Nationalism

By John Lukacs
November 1992

John Lukacs is Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and a Contributing Editor of the NOR. His latest book is The Duel, 10 May-31 July 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler.

This article is adapted with permission of Ticknor & Fields from his book The End of the Twentieth Century, forthcoming in early 1993.

The decline of religion, and of the influ­ence of the churches, became more and more evident during the 18th century, at the end of which it seemed as if that decline were irre­versible. (In 2,000 years of history, the prestige of the papacy was never as low as in 1799.) Then there came an unexpected Catholic and ultramontane revival; but the decline, by and large, went on during the 19th century, and continued during the 20th. Even some atheists and agnostics regretted this on occasion: Orwell once wrote that the greatest loss for Western civilization was the vanishing of the belief in the immortality of the soul. That is a difficult subject, because it is not as ascertain­able how men and women (how, rather than how much) believed in the immortality of the soul 250 years ago. But Orwell was right when he wrote that faith and credulity are different things.

Most people (including intellectuals, theo­logians, ecclesiastical historians) think that the decline of religious belief has been due to the rise of the belief in science. That may have been true in the 19th century, but even then the evidence is not clear. The decline of re­ligious belief did not necessarily correspond to the rise of belief in science. Samuel Butler’s vehement rejection of Darwin did not lead to the recovery of his religion. Henry Adams’s discovery of the Virgin did not lead to his re­jection of his own mechanistic-deterministic view of history. Now, at the end of the 20th century, many people respect religion as well as science, together; but respect for the former is faint. This has something to do with the fact that we have declined to a stage lower than hypocrisy, the problem being no longer the difference between what people say and what they believe; now the difference seems to be between what people think they believe and what they really believe.

Actually, the great threat to religious faith in our time — more precisely, to the quality and meaning of faith — is nationalism. The democratization of the churches has led to that; but that is only secondary to the demo­cratization of entire societies. The primary element is that the religion of the nation, the sentimental symbols of the nation, are more powerful than religious faith, especially when they are commingled. Nationalism, I repeat, is the only popular religio (religion: binding be­lief) in our times. That won’t last forever; but there it is. Continue reading

Peace Through Strength

Dale Steinreich wrote a post “Church of the Doomsday Bomb” over at the Lew Rockwell blog. This original appeared here. He writes:

Because of Roseanne Barr’s recent tweet about Valerie Jarrett, Retroplex is running the original Planet of the Apes series of movies. Taking a break last night I saw Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Although the cable guide gives it 2 out of 4 stars, it was definitely more a 3.

Without revealing too many spoilers, among a lot of great anti-war themes was a hilarious parody of Peace-Through-Strength conservatives. In the 40th century, there is a Church of the Alpha-Omega Doomsday Bomb located in what was once St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (before there was a nuclear holocaust). As can be seen in the short clip below, the symbolism of the bomb replaces that of the cross all over the church.

Also interesting is the implicit allusion to Jesus’ comment about the Pharisees (Matt 23:27) being “whitewashed tombs:” clean marble on the outside but rot on the inside. As can be seen below, the Church of the Bomb’s members are much the same in that regard.  Not seen in the clip below is this dandy from their “moral” principles: “We don’t murder our enemies, we get others to do it.”

John McGuirk on Save the 8th

John McGuirk is a leading Pro-Life advocate in Ireland. When the referendum results became known, abortion supporters went on a frenzy of hate against him. He recently wrote the following in a series of Tweets:

“Rarely in my life have I seen people angrier about winning than the repealers. Cheer up folks, it’s not that bad. There’ll be something along shortly for you all to focus your never-ending anger on, I’m sure.

Today I went to Stonehall Wildlife Park in county Limerick (which is brilliant – take your kids) and petted a parrot, and several rabbits and goats. I come home to another 2,000 tweets from the angriest, craziest people in Ireland. Your unhappiness will never be fixed by a vote, folks.

The problem is the 8th amendment was never what was making you angry in the first place. It’s not the schools or the hospitals, or the ban on euthanasia either. No social reform is going to make you people happy. You’re all looking in the wrong place.

The deep injustice many people feel, and the power to change the country that they now wield, is missing something – there’s no vision in it for how to make people feel happy. Once all the “oppression” is gone, they’ll have to confront the fact that their misery is their own.

It was never the journey that was lonely. It was never the country that was cruel. It was never the church that was oppressing you. The movement you are in won’t leave you fulfilled and happy. It will just leave you all angry in company.

In terms of the calls to silence me, or others – hah. You guys own the country now. You own the media, the political class, the culture. You can keep pretending that a minority voice is holding you back, or you can realise that it’s actually an oppression of your own making.

One thing I kept hearing yesterday was that this was a “symbolic” victory. There are many more symbolic victories to be had – blasphemy laws, the role of women, the pre-amble honoring The Trinity. Lots more totems of the past to tear down. None of them will fix the problem.

The problem is that all of those victories are empty of meaning. Even this one. Having an abortion in county Louth will not be more fun than having one in London. It remains an abortion. You’re not “free”. You’re just miserable, probably in greater numbers, closer to home.

The Irish liberal left has nothing to offer you whatsoever, beyond days like yesterday. A momentary feeling of togetherness. It can’t provide you with a good job, or a loving spouse, or security. All it does is provide you with an enemy to hate.”

 

“Reclaiming” Jesus–Really?

Reclaiming Jesus Event Brings Its Message to the White House, National Catholic Review, May 25, 2018

***

RECLAIMING JESUS

but not

THE NONVIOLENT JESUS OF THE GOSPELS

by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

It is difficult, if not impossible, to figure out which Jesus is being reclaimed in the recent much-ballyhooed document, Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis (attached below). But, what is clear is the Jesus that the document presumes to reclaim is not the Jesus of the Gospels who was Nonviolent and who teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Not once in the entire Reclaiming Jesus document is Jesus’ rejection of violence by word and by deed in the Gospels mentioned, although the document gives a list of things that must be reject based on Jesus teachings and His being Lord. Nor is it mentioned that His disciples are called to follow Him and reject violence. So the document communicates that a Christian, whether American or British, who has reclaimed Jesus as the document prescribes could join the American or British military and bomb the be-Jesus out of human beings designated “enemies” or designated “collateral damage” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

The idea governing Reclaiming Jesus and around which its authors state the entire document is composed and validated, is this: “Jesus is Lord. That is our foundational confession. It was central for the early church and needs to again become central to us. If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar was not—nor any other political ruler since. If Jesus is Lord, no other authority is absolute.” Neither I nor any other Christian could reasonably disagree with this. It is in fact the theological basis for proclaiming and adhering to Gospel Nonviolence. The Gospels themselves in which Jesus teaches, lives and dies in the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies—and which Gospels the Catholic Church teaches in its Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution Revelation (sec 18-19), “faithfully hand on what Jesus Chris, while living among men really did and taught for their eternal salvation” —are the historical root of Gospel Nonviolence. But the profession, Jesus is Lord, is the theological root of Gospel Nonviolence, because if Jesus’ authority in matters of Christian faith and morals is not absolute, then He is just another guy conjecturing about the manner in which life should be lived or how to be saved from eternal death.

The Reclaiming Jesus document goes on to say, “What we believe, i.e., Jesus is Lord, leads us to what we must reject. Our ‘Yes’ is the foundation for our ‘No.’“ It then goes on to list those matters that Christians must say, ‘No’ to and rejected on the basis of their, ‘Yes,’ to Jesus is Lord. The given list of what must be rejected because Jesus is Lord is this: “white nationalism and racism, misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women, language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God, the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life, any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule,  “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ.”

It should be noted, and noted well, that while their document states, “If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not,” these Christian peace activists from the U.S. and Britain and their document do not reject Christian participation in Caesar’s violence and war because Jesus is Lord. This is bizarre since the Lord Jesus’ rejection of violence in the Gospels is unambiguous. It is strange since the authors respective countries are two of the greatest purveyors of violence in the world historically and today. It is gravely disingenuous since the Christians in their societies did and do most of the violence done by each country. Reclaiming Jesus and proclaiming Jesus is Lord in such societies should at a minimum mean rejecting participation in the legal and illegal, romantic and sorted violence of these societies and their institutions that incarnationally follow the way and use the means of the violent Caesar rather then the Nonviolent Jesus. It should mean at least this because,

Jesus taught that violence belongs to the Reign of Satan, and that men must expel violence if they wish to liberate themselves from the Reign of Satan. If Jesus did not reject any type of violence for any purpose, then we know nothing of him. No reader of the New Testament, simple or sophisticated, can retain any doubt of Jesus’ position toward violence directed to persons, individual or collective, organized or free enterprise, he rejected it totally. Jesus in no way accepts violence as a means of controlling violence. 

Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what He did.” (Quoted section is from the Catholic Biblical scholar, Rev. John L. McKenzie.)

It is, however, not surprising that no mention is made of reclaiming the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels. Some of the authors of this document were formally on Barack Obama’s, aka Barack Obomba’s, spiritual consultation team. And, one the authors is the episcopal chaplain of the British royalty—a gene pool that has never existed, cannot exists and does not exists without gargantuan amounts of violence being employed to sustain it and to protect its unholy and promiscuous accumulation of luxury wealth in the face of thousands of human beings writhing in pain and unnecessarily perishing daily because they lack the few cents to procure the needed food or medicine. The hording of luxury wealth in a world where billions do not have the bare necessities need to live can only be defended and sustained by violence.

If a Christian were to truly desire to reclaim the Jesus of the Gospels—the only Jesus there ever was or will be— it takes no literary skill to say,

What cannot be done without violence cannot be done by a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus. A Christian cannot follow Jesus’ “new commandment ” to “Love one another as I have loved you,” and use violence to do good or to fight evil.”

But this is exactly the Jesus that this document and its peace activists authors do not want to reclaim, any more than the institutional Churches of Christianity want to reclaim Him. Both want a “Jesus” who endorses violence so they can carry out their plans to make the world a better place by using violence, whatever their plans may be.

So which Jesus is this Reclaiming Jesus document trying to reclaim? It is trying to reclaim—or more accurately trying to propagandize— a “Jesus” that never existed in history as a person—a violent liberal-Constantinian Jesus. But a violent liberal-Constantinian “Jesus” is no more the reality of the Person revealed and proclaimed in the Gospels than is a violent conservative-Constantinian Jesus. They are mirror images of each other in terms of the means they use to respond to evil and to promote the good. What each calls Christian love is saturated with violence—that is, with that phenomenon that “Jesus teaches belongs to the Reign of Satan.” It is Christians and their Churches that almost universally confess faith in a violence-endorsing “Jesus” that are the source of this time of crisis. The spiritually malformed Christians Trump, Obama, Clinton, Bush, Merkel, Blair, Putin, etc. are but blips on the screen of the crisis.

It is the institutional Christian Churches and their deceitful leaders, who gave them—hardwired nurtured them—and billions of other Christians into the mind-style of justified Christian killers and liars under the pretense of helping them put on the mind and truth of Jesus, who are the cause of the crisis. It is absurd to believe that implementing a new agenda for the betterment of humanity via a new version of a violence endorsing “Jesus” can solve this crisis. The violence-endorsing “Jesus” illusion is the crisis in the Church and in the world.

The Jesus that must be reclaimed to solve this crisis is the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels with His Way of Nonviolent Love, without exception, of friends and enemies. The Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels is Lord. Believe it or not. His authority is therefore absolute. Believe it or not. Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what He did. Believe it or not. And, that Way unequivocally rejects violence, even when, indeed most especially when, ordered by Lord Caesar. Believe it or not.

Let this new evangelization program, as well as all new evangelization programs of all Churches, be in fact new and reclaim the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels from the deceitfully concocted and institutionally propagandized illusion of the violence justifying, endorsing, supporting Jesus, that has brought so much evil and misery into the world and prevented so much good from being done.