Recently I watched a documentary movie on dvd. It shows marvelous film shots from places around the world, even very remote places. No voices or commentary. You get to view it without someone forcing an interpretation on what you are seeing. I was amazed at some of the sites, perhaps most when strange religious practices were shown. I became keenly aware how much of my own Christian background I was bringing to judging what I saw. I wondered if what I thought was very strange would seem normal to some people in other cultures and religions. When it comes to religion we overlook our own judgmental attitudes as we watch others in strange worship activities. Christians are very adept at seeing faults in others, and seeing their own strange practices as "normal."
Currently we are ready to blame Muslims for just about everything. Indeed, Islamophobia is rampant. We know nothing of the holy writings of Mohammed, yet we judge the actions of terrorists as exemplifying Islam. How soon we forget those who for 2,000 years followed the founder of the Christian faith --or at least say they follow Him-- have been far more war-mongering and ready to fight for the Prince of Peace than Muslims. War-practicing Chrisitans love to label Muslims as war-mongers.
Before the first American soldier crossed from Kuwait into Iraq I warned about the harm that it would do to the U.S. moral and ethical fibre. In the Sunday, September 5, 2010 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a letter appeared that was well-written and on-point. The letter-writer, Peg Backus-Wallner of Greendale, is not a familiar name to me, but what she has to say indicates a simlarity to my thoughts. Here it is...
" 'Burn a Koran' event scheduled for Sept. 11, 2010, by Dove World Outreach Center (a church) in Gainesville, Fla., the news said.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has recently had his book published. It is titled, "A Journey." The book "has angered opponents, especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq." [Associated Press]
Showing up to sign copies of his book in Dublin, Ireland, it was expected that if anyplace, that would be a safe place for him because of leadership in the 1998 Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland that ended ongoing civil friction between Protestants and Catholics. Wow, were hopes ever dashed by the immense turn-out of assertive protesters. The demonstrators chanted that Blair had "blood on his hands." A protester named Donal MacFhearraigh commented that Blair "should be indicted as a war criminal." There have been such outbursts about former President George W. Bush and how he should be indicted as a war criminal. MacFhearrraigh yelled, "Blair took the world to war in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of lies." Several demonstrators tried to make citizen arrests of Blair. This is not over.
We are in the midst of the current hate campaign against Muslims. We have had similar hate crimes and phobias by American Christians from the founding of our nation. Indeed, the very heritage of Christianity is a history of war, hate, bigotry, and phobias.
Many will say that the current hatred of Islam stems from 9-11. Perhaps. Some will say that it is because of the intent to build a Muslim center two blocks away from Ground Zero. But the 9-11 tragedy was no more an act of Islam than the bombing in Oklahoma City was an act of Christianity. And the Muslim center AWAY from Ground Zero is actually something akin to a YMCA center with a chapel inside. And mosques are being burned, threatened, and de-faced from Los Angeles to New York, including in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and in Tennessee. There is a craziness afoot as there has been on the past in America. Think of the "witches" burned at the stake. Think of the southeastern part of Colonial America where one group of Christians crucified another group upside down. Think Japanese-American concentration camps. Hatred and phobias dot the entrie history of America and the Christian world.
My blog certainly seems to stimulate discussion and debate. Without much fan-fare, I invite any and all of you to sign-up or put your name on the list of signers of the following statement offered by: www.usforallofus.org
LET'S BUILD A U.S. FOR ALL OF US: NO ROOM FOR RACISM
From time to time up until early November I shall comment on the up-coming elections. Some random stuff:
The U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin is truly a conundrum. The Republican candidate will be challenged for his ridiculous comments about drilling in the Great Lakes, climate change is due to sun spots, and the lie that he never took federal money or even applied for it for his business. That leaves me with Russ Feingold. There are some things I like about him, but lots I do not, and some that have me scratching my head. After sitting in the U.S. Senate chamber with then-Senator John Ashcroft, and after seeing that his constituents threw him out of office, Feingold voted to OK him for U.S. Attorney-General under Bush II. Ashcroft is a loony of the first waters. It doesn't take much to realize that immediately upon meeting Ashcroft. He was offered as Attorney-General because the corporate power wanted a goof to join their other two goofs and puppets who they could pay off, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Feingold fell for it. I cannot forgive him for it. Ashcroft immediately entered office by covering up nude statues.
We get so wrapped up in Republican-Democrat, right-left, conservative-liberal that we have not noticed the real threat to the United States of America resides at 133 C Street SE in Washington, D.C. I am not exaggerating when I say this. For over 70 years a plot has been organizing, growing, and consolidating power. Most presidents, left or right, have at some time paid notice to this power. It is a movement of fundamentalist-like "Christians" who have bold pronouncements like this regarding over 15,000 close adherents in the U.S. military: "[Intent on] reclaiming territory for Christ in the military."
American toops, returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, are ordered to stand at attention, and then are given lectures by officers that they are returning from "fighting Satan" and "reclaiming land for Jesus Christ from the heathens." Standing at attention are Christians, but also Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, etc. When asked about this, one general in the Middle East admitted being totally unfamiliar with the First Amendment.
The commercial broadcasting network, NBC, is emphasizing education and the problems facing the U.S. as it sees its performance dwindle compared to the social democracies in Europe and elsewhere. It is easy to place simple blame on a complex problem. I agree that parts of the problem are underfunded education budgets, selfish teachers' unions, lack of parental attention, etc. And there are endless debates about all these things. But what about another drain on education? Let's look at where our priority really is...
"The U.S. has a population of over 300 million in a world of nearly 7 trillion people, 4% of the world's population, yet accounts for over 41% of officially acknowledged worldwide government military spending. The U.S. has the world's second largest [reported] military with 1,445,000 active duty personnel, with an additional 1.2 million National Guard and other components. The War Department also has over 800,000 civilian employees worldwide. The Pentagon has over 3.5 million people excluding private military contractors, and a current military and war budget exceeding 1.1 trillion dollars. The U.S. sells or gives its military weaponry to nearly 2/3 of the world's nations accounting for 68.4% of the global arms sales. The U.S. has established its control over at least 191 governments and has over 700 military bases on foreign soil; and 12,000 nuclear weapons." -Informationclearinghouse, published in "The Catholic Agitator" of 2/10/10. [And believe me, there are many, many more personnel involved in the U.S. military regime]