I’ve always loved Billy Corgan and his music.
Here’s a beautiful song to start your year, a new twist on the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The following was written by Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy:
On February 18: The U.S. State Department announced the highest U.S. casualty toll of the Vietnam War, with 543 Americans killed in action and 2,547 wounded during the previous week.
On March 16: U.S. ground troops murdered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre in South Vietnam.
On April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in Memphis, TN
On June 5: Robert Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles, CA.
On December 10: Thomas Merton is murdered in Bangkok, Thailand
The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: Paperback – March 7, 2018
Hugh Turley (Author), David Martin (Author)
“Seldom can one predict that a book will have an effect on history, but this is such a work. Merton’s many biographers and the American press now say unanimously that he died from accidental electrocution. From a careful examination of the official record, including crime scene photographs that the authors have found that the investigating police in Thailand never saw, and from reading the letters of witnesses, they have discovered that the accidental electrocution conclusion is totally false. The widely repeated story that Merton had taken a shower and was therefore wet when he touched a lethal faulty fan was made up several years after the event and is completely contradicted by the evidence. Hugh Turley and David Martin identify four individuals as the primary promoters of the false accidental electrocution narrative. Another person, they show, should have been treated as a murder suspect. The most likely suspect in plotting Merton’s murder, a man who was a much stronger force for peace than most people realize, they identify as the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States government. Thomas Merton was the most important Roman Catholic spiritual and anti-warfare-state writer of the 20th century and the powers-that-be in the corporate world, in the military world, in the world of the CIA, FBI and NSA and in the world of government were as acutely aware of the power he possessed to undermine their bloody profit making schemes as they were of King and Kennedy’s power to do the same. To date, Merton has been the subject of 28 biographies and numerous other books. Remarkably, up to now no one has looked critically at the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sudden death in Thailand. From its publication date on the 50th anniversary of his death, into the foreseeable future, this carefully researched work will be the definitive, authoritative book on how Thomas Merton died.”
I read this book cover to cover and it is a solid presentation of the logically unbridgeable abyss between the physical evidence that is available for anyone to examine and the official story put out by the U.S. Government and the Church regarding Thomas Merton’s death. What concerns me is not that the U.S. government had a hand in Merton’s murder and cover-up of the murder. Clandestinely murdering innocent people is the ordinary modus operandi of all major governments all the time. What concerns me is that the leadership of the institutional Church acquiesced to a narrative regarding the murder of one of its own, which narrative cannot be sustained, indeed is in contradiction to, the evidence. Of course, maybe the leadership of the institutional Church did not see Merton as one of its own but saw him rather as a hair shirt of truth to whom they were glad to say, ever so piously, “Good riddance.”
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
Paul Elie, writing for The New Yorker, provides an excellent overview of the Plowshares movement, and places the actions of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 within the context of not only this movement but the wider evolution of the Church’s thinking and teaching on nuclear weapons. Check it out!
This was originally posted at LewRockwell.com.
Here is a letter Eric Norris wrote to his diocesan newspaper in Indiana:
I am greatly disappointed by your announcement on the cover of the October 20 issue.
- It is “Veterans Day”, no apostrophe.
- It was originally Armistice Day, and is still defined as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace”, not fighting.
- It is not meant to honor in any way current members of the military (“fighting”), but Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”
- Armed Forces Day is the time to recognize those currently in the military.
- Please explain how, in what way, any current “fighting” is benefiting our country (“fighting for our country”). This bothers me to no end. Do you know why Osama bin Laden attacked the US? He stated explicitly it was the actions (“fighting”) of the US military in the Middle East in the 1990s.
- I am a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It brought no freedom to the Iraqi people, or you, or me.
We are meant to be counter-cultural and worship the Prince of Peace, not to knee-jerk support the military policy and actions of the US or any other government. The wide world will be falling all over themselves “supporting the troops” on November 11. What would Jesus do? Maybe, just maybe, he would look at each one of us veterans individually, try to understand our personal reasons for joining, and the struggles, successes, and failures in the aftermath thereof.
Eric S. Morris
St. Elizabeth Seton, Carmel
Eric tells us that his pastor wrote in the bulletin this week partially in response to his concerns about the diocesan newspaper. You can see the response here on page 3.
Check out this statement on the National Collection for the Archdiocese of the Military Services, written at the time of the last collection in 2016:
How can it be that veterans who want to speak to schoolchildren about their experiences in the military are told that they cannot do so because their pro-peace views are deemed “too political” for young ears to hear? Is peace really too controversial a subject to be discussed openly in our schools? What makes peace “too political” but war somehow apolitical?
Our children go to school to learn about a variety of subjects. They learn facts about the world they will inherit and ultimately inhabit as young adults. They will make meaningful decisions that will significantly impact their own lives and the lives of others. There is great hope that they will learn to think critically and creatively. To achieve this skill they will need to be exposed to different perspectives and supported in analyzing those perspectives intelligently.
So if this is the purpose in educating our young people why would they not be served by hearing from those who have served in wars of the past and hear what those individuals have to say about the subject of peace? Our present-day culture goes to great lengths to honor veterans (e.g. “Thank you for your service.”) when such recognition is in alignment with the power structure and agenda of our government. This kind of national etiquette effectively separates those who serve in the military from the government foreign policy of which they are the tangible extension. This also serves to discourage questioning that policy. The pro-military paradigm is now constructed in such a way that if one openly disagrees with the government’s actions it is equated with “disrespecting the troops” who are “fighting over there so that we can be safe and free here” at home.
This framework encourages us to assume that all veterans are unified in their support of our government’s policy of military interventions around the world. This is, in fact, a false assumption. A recent survey of veterans by the Pew Research Center indicates that the majority believe that our current military involvement in the Middle East (casually known as the War on Terror) is a waste of human and material resources.
Why do we choose to value only those veterans whose perspectives agree with our government’s military actions and try to silence those who express skepticism and disagreement with how our government is using our military in the world?
How can we “respect the troops” if we don’t listen to them, particularly when they are saying what some of us (and our government) don’t want to hear? The fact is that we need to listen to what all of them have to say if the respect we say we feel toward them is more than just a matter of social etiquette.
As to the matter of whether or not it is “too political” to allow students to hear from pro-peace veterans we must come to terms with the pre-existing condition of pro-military bias in our schools. Students are already exposed to the political aspect of military service in various ways that have become so normalized that they blend in without much notice. Military recruiters are allowed direct and indirect access to students. Posters promoting careers in military service are in school hallways along with the various colleges student can attend after high school. And, of course, students are allowed hear from veterans as long as they don’t invite students to think about the possibility that peace is a real alternative to war.
This is the established pro-military status quo in most schools. Veterans who are overtly pro-peace may represent an uncomfortable disconnect for some who expect them to support our government’s military interventionist behavior. This position of explicit support for and implicit endorsement of this status quo is certainly political but is assumed not to be because it has become so normalized. It is a mistake to assume that such inherent biases are somehow apolitical.
Do we really want our students to grow up without the capacity for appropriately expressing and demonstrating dissent? We need our future leaders and contributors to be ready, willing, and able to question authority. If our education system succeeds only in teaching young people how to conform to existing social, political, and economic power structures we are doing them a great disservice.
Everyone agrees that we want our children to live in a better world and we all agree that that this better world needs to be one of meaningful justice and peace. There are members of our society who have had the direct experience with the unglamorous reality and horror of war. They have valuable lessons to share from their experiences. It would be a mistake to try to silence those voices that are calling for precisely that better world we all want. Our students need to hear the messengers that invite them to be participants in that cause.
Quoted excerpts are from James W. Douglass’s book, The Nonviolent Coming of God:
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter on February 17. He asked the President — “if you really wish to defend human rights” — not to send more military aid to El Salvador and “to guarantee that your government will not intervene directly or indirectly, by military, economic, diplomatic, or other pressures, in determining the destiny of the Salvadoran people.”
He read a draft of this letter aloud in his homily on Feb. 17 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in San Salvador, and the people applauded. The next day a bomb exploded the Salvadoran Catholic Church’s radio station, on which the archbishop’s homily had been broadcast.
“On Sunday, February 24, a Costa Rican short-wave radio station began broadcasting Archbishop Romero’s homilies to all of Central America. That morning Romero made an appeal to the oligarchy and revealed a threat to himself…
On succeeding Sundays Archbishop Romero addressed ever more urgently a series of government and rightist killings…
On Sunday March 16, Archbishop Romero preached a long sermon on reconciliation, addressing every sector of the society, making specific appeals to the oligarchy, the government, and guerrilla groups…
On Sunday, March 23, the day before Romero’s death, the church radio station was back on the air. Once again his homily was broadcast to the nation. The Costa Rican station had been bombed but continued to carry the Archbishop’s words. The Vatican was urging him to tone down his preaching. Death threats had intensified.
In this final Sunday homily, Archbishop Romero recounted the violence of the previous week. Then, with the people interrupting him frequently with applause, he made the appeal to conscience that likely sealed his death sentence, but will never be forgotten by suffering Salvadorans:
I would like to make an appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the ranks of the Guardia Nacional, of the police, to those in the barracks. Brothers, you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, the dignity of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to take seriously that reforms are worth nothing when they come about stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I ask you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!
The Gospel reading that day was
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains infertile. But if it dies, it produces a great yield. Those who love their own life lose it; those who hate themselves in this world will be preserved for life eternal. Let whoever wants to serve me, follow me; and my servant will be where I am. Whoever serves me will be rewarded by my Father.
The Trial Date has been set for the Kings Bay Plowshares. If you are in Georgia, you might want to go support them! Don’t miss the interview we did with them on the podcast in August.