Monthly Archives: October 2013

Daniel Baker, Conscientious Objector

The Catholic Peace Fellowship has a great series of podcasts called Warcast for Catholics, “a podcast dedicated to a discussion of war and peace in the Catholic tradition.”

I found the podcast with Daniel Baker,a veteran of the War in Iraq, to be particularly interesting. He said that when he began to struggle with his military duties, he went to the philosophy department in his local bookstore looking for meaning in his life. He encountered the writing of Thich Nhat Hanh. Then he started to read about Saint Francis and more about the Church’s teachings on war. When it became apparent that he was not going to be able to switch jobs within the military, he went online and tried to find a way to get out of the military.

On the Internet he encountered the website for the Catholic Peace Fellowship and other sites that informed him about the option of conscientious objection, which he didn’t know existed. He says, “No one knew about it on base, neither did the chaplains, because when I went to talk to one chaplain, he just talked about the Just War theory.” (We once called the Archdiocese of Military Services to inquire about the process for becoming a conscientious objector. They told us that they had no information about the process.)

Daniel Baker says, “This whole experience converted me from Catholicism to Catholicism [laughter], because I really saw meaning behind everything. It’s ironic that a Buddhist opened my eyes to Christianity and none of the Christians I ever knew did.

He also says: “I’d like to say that there are many great people in the military. I hope their eyes are opened like mine were. A lot of them have good hearts and many of them sympathize with my ideas.” You can listen to the full podcast with Daniel here.


CIA and Truth

If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

CIA truth

Wall at CIA Headquarters

Etched into the wall in marble at CIA headquarters:

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.

Something is missing.

As he was dying from lung cancer, the legendary Machiavellian CIA head of Counterintelligence, James Jesus Angelton, provided author Joseph J. Trento this confession:

“You know how I got to be in charge of counterintelligence? I agreed not to polygraph or require detailed background checks on Allen Dulles and 60 of his closest friends . . . They were afraid that their own business dealings with Hitler’s pals would come out. They were too arrogant to believe that the Russians would discover it all . . .

Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I regret. But I was part of it and loved being in it . . . Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offiie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell. I guess I will see them there soon.

Joseph J. Trento, The Secret History of the CIA, pages 478-479. (Thanks to Charles Burris for this quote.)

St. Maurice of Carnoet, Oct. 13

“May Jesus Christ, and his holy Mother, whom I serve, drive out those wolves who rage violently in the slaughter of men.” — St. Maurice of Carnoet. 

wolf eyes St. Maurice of Carnoet – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online

St. Maurice was talking about wolves, literally, in the passage above, but here is an interesting meditation on wolves and their depiction in the Bible: “Individually, the wolf is rather a timid animal. It will avoid a man rather than meet him…But, collectively, the wolf is one of the most dangerous animals that can be found.”

St. Colman of Stockerau and Torture

Saint Colman of Stockerau was an Irish or Scottish pilgrim who was martyred in Austria in 1012 while on the way to the Holy Land. He was mistaken for a spy because of his strange appearance. Because he spoke no German, he could give no account of himself. He did nothing wrong, and was in fact a very holy man, but he was tortured and eventually hanged. His feast day is October 13.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has a list of several public Catholic responses to torture, one of which is called “No Excuses for Torture” published in America magazine in 2010 and written by Stephen M. Colecchi. Colecchi points out:

“In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the statement on political responsibility that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued in November 2007 in preparation for the 2008 national elections, the bishops referred to the issue of torture five times. Echoing the catechism, they declared that torture is ‘intrinsically evil’ and ‘can never be justified’ and stated categorically: ‘The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism.’ It is counterproductive not only because experts tell us that it does not work, but also because it undermines the very good it hopes to achieve: the common good of all.'”

See Suleiman Abdallah, see Murat Kurnaz, see Maher Arar, how many others?

Study by Public Accountability Initiative

A new study by the Public Accountability Initiative shows that many of those who were given a public platform through corporate media to speak as “experts” on the potential war in Syria were not at all impartial or objective, having deep ties to defense contractors and other players in the military-industrial-complex.

“Though Hadley’s undisclosed conflict is particularly egregious, it is not unique. The following report documents the industry ties of Hadley, 21 other media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. Like Hadley, these individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.”

Conflicts of Interest in the Syria Debate, An analysis of the defense industry ties of experts and think tanks who commented on military intervention

“Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a former commander of the U.S. Central Command, also made several media appearances to discuss the Syrian situation and cautioned that the kind of limited intervention that was being proposed has in the past been difficult to accomplish. But in the five appearances covered by the study, his ties to the defense industry were not disclosed.

Zinni has been on the board of directors of BAE Systems, a top defense contractor, since 2002 and was board chairman from 2009 to 2012. The company specializes in cybersecurity, intelligence analysis and several weapons systems. Zinni, in addition, sits on the board of advisers of DC Capital Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on investments in intelligence, homeland security and other sectors.”

Media Analysts in Syria Debate Have Ties to Defense Contractors

Source: The Financial Times, “US military: Arms and the Man for Change”

Source: The Financial Times, “US military: Arms and the Man for Change”

Josh Stieber, Conscientious Objector

This is a great interview with Josh Steibler, a young Christian who enlisted in the army after high school. He was deployed to Baghdad from Feb 07- Apr 08 with the military company shown on the ground in the “Collater Murder” video.


Josh Stiebler

Josh Stiebler

In the interview (and interviewed by Slate here), he talks about going to a Christian high school and reading books like The Faith of George W. Bush. The former President was presented to him as an ideal of Christian manhood, someone who was carrying out God’s will. When he found himself in the military he began having trouble reconciling his faith with the way in which he was being psychological conditioned to hate the enemy and become inured to killing, chanting things like:


I went down to the market where all the women shop;
I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop;
I went down to the park where all the children play;
I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.

When he wrote home to his religious leaders expressing his reticence and uncertainty about what he was doing, they assured him that what he was doing was good and right, and that the ends justified the means.

One, two, three, four.
Every night we pray for war.
Five, six, seven, eight.
Rape. Kill. Mutilate.

From the Slate interview:

Pretty quickly after I got in, I started to see inconsistencies between how the military was talked about in such glorified ways [when I was] growing up, and then how it was acted out in training. Training was very desensitizing. We screamed slogans like, “Kill them all, let God sort them out.” We watched videos with bombs being dropped on Middle Eastern villages with rock and roll music in the background. People really started to celebrate death and destruction, and that definitely didn’t match up to what I’d expected. I’d told myself that I was willing to kill if necessary, but that wasn’t the same as celebrating it.

It seems to be a story of someone coming to Christ despite, not as a result of, his Christian upbringing.

I really had to face the fact that I couldn’t have it both ways. Either I was going to try to find this inward reality where sacrificial love was possible for a higher goal, or I was going to let self-defense be my ultimate value.

For a while, Josh wrote a blog here.

More Toys for Cops

The Pentagon has a stock of about 20,000 MRAPs, most of which will eventually find their way into local police arsenals, along with Predator-style drones and other military hardware field-tested overseas.

Pro Libertate

“One of the most disturbing things about the Western world of our time is that it is beginning to have much more in common with the Communist world than it has with the professedly Christian society of several centuries ago. On both sides of the Iron Curtain we find pathological varieties of the same moral sickness: both of them rooted in the same basically materialistic view of life. Both are basically opportunistic and pragmatic in their own way…

On the level of political, economic, and military activity, this moral passivity is balanced, or overbalanced, by a demonic activism, a frenzy of the most varied, versatile, complex and even utterly brilliant technological improvisations, following one upon the other with an ever more bewildering and uncontrollable proliferation.”

— Thomas Merton, Peace in the Post Christian Era

St Ethelburga’s Center for Reconciliation and Peace

St. Ethelburga's Church, April 1993

St. Ethelburga’s Church, April 1993

Saint Ethelbega lived until 675AD and was the first leader of a monastic order for women in England. Her Feast Day is October 11, and the church of St. Ethelburga the Virgin in London is dedicated to her. It survived the Great Fire and the Blitz, but was extensively damaged in an IRA attack in 1993. It has since been restored and is now a Saint Ethelburga’s Center for Reconciliation and Peace, a non-profit charity which aims “to help people build relationships across divisions of conflict, culture and religion.”

St. Peter Tuy, Oct. 11

Martyrdom of Saint Pierre Borie

Martyrdom of Saint Pierre Borie

The Catholic Church in Vietnam was devastated during the Tay Son rebellion in the late 18th century. The Vatican estimates the number of Vietnamese martyrs at between 130,000 and 300,000. The tortures these individuals underwent are considered by the Vatican to be among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. Saint Peter Tuy was a Vietnamese priest that was beheaded in 1833.

Officers and soldiers that helped to identify, capture, and kill Christians were greatly rewarded with promotions and gold and silver. Villagers who turned people in were rewarded with gold and silver as well.

The missionary Father Pierre Duclos said: “with gold bars murder and theft blossom among honest people.”

St. Peter Tuy – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online