Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sacred Darkness and Holy Grief


I am preparing services for Christmas. Christmas Eve and our Longest Night Service (December 18th, 7 pm) for those who are, in the words Robert Frost, "acquainted with the night." I ran across what I wrote last year at this time about loss and love.
Reflections on Darkness… 
I like sitting in the dark. It doesn’t have to be pitch black. It should be mostly dark, though. I find the darkness peaceful, embracing. It doesn’t demand anything of me. It doesn’t even know I am there. I don’t need an agenda. I don’t need to work. I don’t need to play. I don’t need to be busy. I don’t need to do anything. The darkness is healing. It flows through me.

A member of one of my previous churches shared with me that after she had lost her husband, people would wish her well, that she would be embraced by light and love, and so forth. She, of course, appreciated the caring, but she told me that the wish to be in the light was not something she really wanted. She wanted the dark.

Grieving may best be done in the dark. Grief is too vulnerable, too personal, too fragile to be left in the light. The darkness allows for thoughts and for feelings to move around a bit more freely, feelings of sadness, or even the less sociable feelings, like anger, annoyance, fear are free in the dark to move around the space with you. When the light goes on those feelings hide. The darkness creatively plays with them, shaping them, teasing them, making something new.
We need the darkness of the womb or the cave to be a place of birthing. I am fond of the dark. In the dark I am free from display. Robert Frost said it so beautifully.

I have been one acquainted with the night.I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.I have outwalked the furthest city light. 
I have looked down the saddest city lane.I have passed by the watchman on his beatAnd dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feetWhen far away an interrupted cryCame over houses from another street, 
But not to call me back or say good-bye;And further still at an unearthly height,One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
--Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night 
Part of me is sad to see the night begin to lose its battle with the light at Winter Solstice. Oh yes, the light is coming back, the sun, the longer days are promised. Yes. That is good, too. But, now, I like, I need, I want, I treasure, I embrace…the dark.
Reflections on Loss and Love…

The last time I played chess with my father, I admit I let him win. It wasn’t obvious. I made more risky moves than usual and overlooked opportunities. But, nonetheless, I did and I didn’t particularly feel good about it. We never played that way, that is to let the other win. But with the arrival of Winter Solstice, he is now closer to his 100th birthday than his 99th. He sits out his days in a Veterans home, even though he isn’t a veteran, but sometimes he makes a convincing case that he once was one.

His mind is mostly jumbled. Several times a day, he remembers that his beloved Olive May, who he married in 1948 is gone. Gone for over two years now. He shakes and he cries, everytime he remembers which is several times a day. Something he rarely would ever do. In fact, never, in my memory. My father didn’t cry, didn’t hug, didn’t say he loved people. But he could laugh.

Our house was filled with laughter when I was a child. My father loved to joke and tease and my mother was, well, I always thought she was sinless, like Mother Mary. When I think of her not being there for any future visits, phone calls, emails, or letters, it is almost unbearable to go there. Never is a long time. I am missing my parents this Christmas.

And, of course, my son. Five years since his exit. I can think about my mom, or look at a picture, and be happy without the wince, mostly. You know what I mean, the wince. The wince is overwhelming with my son, Zach. I can’t look at a picture and just enjoy the memory. It has a cost to it. That cost is the feeling of loss and all the myriad feelings that come out and play when I sit in the dark. That is why I have to sit in the dark if I want to go there. You have to plan for these things.

A good friend, who I trust, told me there will be a time, at least it was for her, that the wince goes away, and the memory of a lost daughter, in her case, a son in mine, will not force its way into the joyful memory. But that time isn’t this Christmas.

Christmas is what it is. I like it. There is a magic to Christmas Eve that I love. It must be so much humanity poured into one night that it has taken on a life of its own. But sometimes it is that time a few days before Christmas, somewhere around solstice, that some darkness, and some loss, and some articulation of sadness, some Christmas blues from a piano man, is what demands airtime.

I’ll be back. But for now, some time, some space for sacred darkness and holy grief. In his book, Lament for a Son, Nocholas Wolterstorff wrote about his son Eric and his grief and he was questioned if grief ever lessens. Yes, he wrote.

“The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over. Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides.”

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Arctic from 33,000 Feet

On a fourteen-hour flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles we flew over the North Pole. The coolest thing on the entire airplane is the Forward/Down camera. It is like a window seat even when you are sitting in 50E smack in the middle. Movies? I can handle maybe one, but watching the Arctic go by is mesmerizing.

I don’t know exactly what the Arctic should look like on my mom’s birthday, November 4th, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish clouds from snow, but to this amateur Arctic-watcher it seems quite broken up in spots, sea where I would want snow and ice.

Things are changing quickly.

What a rare opportunity to see the “top of the world” from 33,000 feet. Only a small percentage of the human population will see this view. Those who lived 100 years before me never saw this view, and I don’t know what those living 100 years after me will see.

I am reminded of the (not so) old Arab proverb:

My grandfather rode on a camel.
My father rode in a Rolls Royce.
I ride in a private jet.
My son will ride on a camel.

Plenty to worry about.
But for right now, I am mesmerized.


Monday, October 22, 2018

In the Spirit of Imam Husayn (as)

I am posting pics and thoughts on my Facebook page while I am participating in Arbaeen. Here are some radio show podcasts on Husayn and Arbaeen that I have broadcast (or re-broadcast) this month while I am in Iraq.

On April 13th, 2019, Josh Townsley and I will offer reflections and some audio/video on our trip, inshallah, for the Husaynia Society of Seattle.

Husayn Means Beauty: The Attraction of the Seventh Century Martyr, Part 1
These are excerpts from speeches given at Husayn Day earlier this year in Seattle.

Husayn Means Beauty: The Attraction of the Seventh Century Prophet, Part 2
This broadcast includes the speech from Maulana Mohammad Baig, who is leading the tour I am taking in Iraq. Caravan72.com.

Arbaeen: The Walk, A conversation with Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli
I just posted this interview with the author of the first book on Arbaeen in English.

Resisting the Beast: Conversations with Dr. Susan (Elli) Elliott and Imam Muhsen Al-Dhalimy
From my monthly live show on KBOO. Imam Muhsen Al-Dhalimy serves at the Islamic Center of Portland across from my church.

Also of interest are these broadcasts:

The Covenants of the Prophet Mohammad with the Christians of the World: A Conversation with Dr. John Andrew Morrow
Dr. Morrow also spoke at Husayn Day in Seattle. Here he talks about his very important work showing, despite propaganda to the contrary, that Christians and Muslims lived peacefully for centuries (and still do).

U.S. - Saudi War Crimes Against Yemen
This conference, sponsored by Roots of Conflict, features two powerful speakers, Aisha Jumaan and Mohammad Al-Nimr, who follow in the spirit of Imam Husayn (as).

US - Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?
On my live KBOO show, I spoke with Catherine Shakdam, Scott Bennett, and Aisha Jumaan about the conference.







Friday, October 19, 2018

Portland to Istanbul

The journey has begun! So far no hitches from the bus stop outside my house to the PDX airport to LAX and then thirteen hours later, Istanbul.  We are in the lounge and will stay until our flight leaves for Najaf in about ten hours.


Josh, the cameraman, and Maulana Mohammad Baig who is the leader of Caravan72 and caring for us all along the way.





Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bound For Iraq

I begin tomorrow my trip to Iraq. This wasn’t on my agenda. That is how it is with things that matter. Spirit blows them into your life. I read that Isa (Jesus) is the Spirit of Allah. Husayn is the Spirit of Isa.  Ali Asghar was the youngest person martyred at Karbala. He was six months old. He was the son of Husayn and Rubab.


This crib was one of the ways he was remembered at the Islamic Center of Portland on Ashura, the day that commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn and his 72 companions including members of his family, including his son, Ali Asghar. As I write this, I wonder if the spirit of Ali Asghar is in the children of Yemen.
A somewhat grainy video, presumably shot from a decade old cell phone, shows more than two dozen load Yemeni kids, aged 6 to 15, playing, laughing, and excitedly moving about their school bus, invoking warm childhood memories for anyone who has ever caught a bus to and from a school outing. 
Moments later every single one of these kids were killed, vaporized by a Saudi fired missile. This atrocity took place on 9 August, leaving 51 dead, 40 of whom were children, with most victims under the age of 10, while another 77 were seriously injured, according to the International Red Cross.
A Saudi fired missile made by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth Texas:
Remnants of the missile, which were posted on Twitter by Hussein Albikaiti, a Sana’a-based journalist, show its CAGE code, serial number, and the wording, “FIN GUIDED BOMB.” 
A search of the CAGE code shows the missile to be issued by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, while the serial number shows it to be a MK-82 missile manufactured by General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas. 
“A US made laser guided bomb did this 2 a bus full of school children,” tweeted Albikaiti. “The bus was directly hit by a Saudi-UAE jet, fueled by USA plane, coordinates by US and UK satellites. One bomb sent these happy children to the graves after burning them alive and cutting them to pieces.”
I do not know what is in store for me or what I should expect as I make my Ziarat to the various shrines in the Holy Land of Iraq. John Andrew Morrow in a beautiful article about "The Call of Karbala and the Awe of Arbaeen" also writes this:
Iraq is a country that has been bruised, battered, and brutalized. It has suffered under the savagery of the Baath regime. It suffered through a senseless fratricidal war with Iran. It has suffered from American wars of aggression, invasion, and occupation. Millions of civilians lost their lives. Although Iraq has little in terms of infrastructure, and has spent over one hundred billion dollars in the war against ISIS, it hosts, with pride and pleasure, the largest religious gathering in the world, a peace march that receives essentially no attention by the major media outlets in the world since it contradicts the Islamophobic narrative that they advance.
I am going to Karbala and I am not even a Muslim. Many don't think I am even a Christian. Why argue? They are right as far as it goes. Johnny Cash said he was a C-minus Christian. For the likes of a heretic like me, a C-minus is an aspiration. I am afraid I would be an even worse Muslim. So how is it that I am going on the most spiritual event on the planet to honor some of the most important figures of Islam? I don't know. I know many, many Muslims hope to do this their whole lives. I don't take this lightly. I am humbled to be invited by my friends at the Husayniah Society of Seattle, yet on another plane, the invitation comes from Imam Husayn himself, who in my mind, is the spiritual brother of the historical Jesus. The Spirit of Allah. Truth and Goodness is my shorthand.

It is a call from both of these brothers. It is a call. It is a cry. It is a summons:

"Hal man nasirin yansurun?" "Is there anyone to help me?"

And the response from those with ears to hear:

"Labbayk Ya Husayn!" "Here I am, Husayn."

I am here. We are here to hear.
Hear voices silenced by the oppressors and their media.
Hear the cry of Ali Asghar and the children of Yemen.
Hear the cry of the faithful, "Labbayk Ya Husayn!"

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Erased.

(Update: October 5. Just learned from an admin at that group that none of them removed the post. It must have been Facebook.  Take comfort that Big Brother is keeping you safe from mayhem like me).

The Happy to Be Presbyterian Facebook Group is not happy with me. I posted a link to my interview with Fran Shure and after few exchanges (civil from my end) the post was removed. Erased. Even the notifications in my history were removed. I don't know if it was group admins or Facebook who removed it.


It was removed right after I posted a link to a study guide that had been created for David Ray Griffin's book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11.  That book was published by WJK Press of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) over ten years ago. The book was later removed by the PPC in a shameful act of censorship. Dr. Griffin talks about that in his address, 9/11 and Nationalist Faith: How Faith Can Be Illuminating or Blinding.  He addresses Presbyterians in Section 3 B. 

It was a strange feeling to have my work, just a Facebook post in this case, completely erased without a word, to vanish as if it never existed. I broke no rules. I was not aggressive. I did not use bad language. I wasn't even informed as to why the post was removed. Just gone. Why? What else could it be but that the content of what I posted is a direct threat to Empire and to Empire's church? Empire cannot dispute the evidence. It can only try to mock it and when that fails, to erase it.

We cannot live this way, citizens. Those who are seeking to unmask the powers of death and falsehood and bear witness to what they think is true, are being erased.  As Graeme McQueen said in my interview with him:
And so it’s the job of citizens to stand up and say, “We are whole persons. And our perception, and our sense of smell, sense of hearing and sight and touch, they are valid. And we know how to use our intelligence. And we’re going to insist on that. We’re going to speak out loudly for what we believe is the truth.”
I posted the link again. And I wrote this:
A little about myself for those who do not know me. I am a PCUSA minister in good standing and the pastor of a church. I have posted occasionally on this forum, not often, but when I think a particular topic is of interest and importance. I am the host of a podcast and radio show that has aired weekly for nearly seven years. I have interviewed many Presbyterians including two moderators and a vice-moderator. Throughout my ordained ministry, I have been concerned deeply about issues of censorship and the silencing of unpopular voices.  
As it says in our Brief Statement of Faith:  
"In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace."  
This book that I featured for the past four episodes on my radio show offers evidence that should lead people of conscience to explore. The voices I lift up in this show are voices who have been long silenced, censored, vilified, and mocked because they seek to unmask idolatries in church and culture. I am not saying that anyone needs to agree to these voices or even to listen to the podcast. I should, however, be able to post a link to it without my post being removed.

9/11 Unmasked Interview Package

Reposted from Progressive Spirit

I made transcripts for each of the interviews in my series on the 9/11 Consensus Panel.  The panel's book, released on September 11th, 2018 is called 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation.

This series of interviews with transcripts will be a helpful resource for an individual or a study group with an open mind and a courageous heart. We need open minds and courageous hearts. Graeme McQueen, who I interviewed in the first episode in the series, said:
...when your police have failed at their duty, and your intelligence agencies have failed you, and the executive branch has failed, and the legislative branch has failed, and this...enormous crime in the 21st century has happened and isn't being investigated, what do you do? Do you let them get away with the lie? Do you let your democracy be hijacked? I hope not.
and he concluded the episode by saying:
I think it goes to the question, what is a citizen, and ultimately what is a person. I would like to think that at least in a democracy, a citizen is a whole person who is able to perceive the world around them and also to use their intelligence to make sense of it. And that's what people did on 9/11 at the scene. They perceived explosions and clearly called them explosions. They made conclusions with their minds. They said, “Wow, this looks like a building being demolished purposely.” And when a government does what the United States government and frankly almost every government in the world is doing, and dismisses over 100 ordinary citizens standing there perceiving this, they are showing not only disrespect, they're really showing a very degraded notion of what a citizen is. They're treating us like rabble, who are, you know, who can be easily dismissed. So people are supposed to listen to say, U.S. elites, who were not even there that day, when they say there were no explosions? Instead of listening to their fellow human beings who were there and who clearly perceived it. This is a democracy in trouble. This is a democracy that's in danger and unfortunately, it's not just the U.S. My own country, Canada our government, buys all this nonsense as well. And so it's the job of citizens to stand up and say, “We are whole persons. And our perception, and our sense of smell, sense of hearing and sight and touch, they are valid. And we know how to use our intelligence. And we're going to insist on that. We're going to speak out loudly for what we believe is the truth.”
Here are the podcasts and the transcripts for the four episodes:

1) 9/11 Unmasked: A Conversation with Elizabeth Woodworth and Graeme McQueen

PS 132 Woodworth McQueen Transcript

2) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 2: A Conversation with Dwain Deets about Able Danger

PS 133 Deets Transcript

3) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 3: David Chandler and the Day of Magical Physics

PS 134 Chandler Transcript

4) 9/11 Unmasked, Part 4: Fran Shure and the Problem of the Media

PS 135 Shure Transcript

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

For The Martyrs Who Bear Witness

If they tell you I suicided,
It may be not because I killed myself.

If they say I went crazy,
It may be not because I was mentally ill.

If I am accused of doing all kinds of bad things,
It may be not because I did them.

If I stop talking about what I think is true,
It may be not because I have changed my mind.

If I end up vanishing from public space,
I may be still found in secret places.

If the world goes dark with lies and violence,
Look for the candles of those still bearing witness.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Russian Hack of DNC? "A Fraud from the Very Beginning"


In 2016, Did Russia hack the DNC? In my opinion, no.

Mueller's indictment coming just before an important summit meeting with Trump and Putin seems political. That said, I do think something fishy went on with Trump's election and Greg Palast has the most convincing analysis that Trump stole the election.  Think Crosscheck.
Crosscheck in action:
Trump victory margin in Michigan:                    13,107
Michigan Crosscheck purge list:                       449,922 
Trump victory margin in Arizona:                       85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list:                           270,82 
Trump victory margin in North Carolina:        177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list:              589,393
Here is Palast's comment about the mass media's fixation on Russia:
Karlin: Why do you think the mass corporate media makes a bigger deal out of whether the Russians hacked our vote than the many ways in which the Republicans are suppressing the vote in the United States? 
Palast: Because the LA/NYC media is filled with white Democrats who can’t accept that the election was determined by racial vote suppression. Hillary said that America has the greatest electoral system in the world — which means she’s only been to Kazakhstan. So, the Dems and their media make up the fairy tale about Russians — using the language that would make Joe McCarthy proud. If Edward R. Murrow was alive today, he’d barf on them.
What about the Russians?

William Binney, who was the Technical Director for the NSA for 35 years said on RT:

"The claim that Russia hacked into the DNC and got data and gave it to Wikileaks has been a fraud from the very beginning."




Binney and Ray McGovern (former CIA briefer of The President’s Daily Brief) wrote a Memo to President Trump Ahead of Monday's Summit after Mueller's indictment:
A year ago independent cyber-investigators completed the kind of forensic work that, for reasons best known to then-FBI Director James Comey, neither he nor the “handpicked analysts” who wrote the Jan. 6, 2017 assessment bothered to do.  The independent investigators found verifiable evidence from metadata found in the record of an alleged Russian hack of July 5, 2016 showing that the “hack” that day of the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 was not a hack, by Russia or anyone else. 
Rather it originated with a copy (onto an external storage device – a thumb drive, for example) by an insider — the same process used by the DNC insider/leaker before June 12, 2016 for an altogether different purpose. (Once the metadata was found and the “fluid dynamics” principle of physics applied, this was not difficult to disprove the validity of the claim that Russia was responsible.)
As a public service, here are some more articles that I have found helpful and that I think people should probably read before believing and repeating the meme that the "Russians hacked the election."

Craig Murray, Russiagate: The Stink Without a Secret:
The original, base accusation is that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC and Podesta emails and passed them to WikiLeaks. (I can assure you that is untrue). 
The authenticity of those emails is not in question. What they revealed of cheating by the Democratic establishment in biasing the primaries against Bernie Sanders, led to the forced resignation of Debbie Wasserman Shultz as chair of the Democratic National Committee. They also led to the resignation from CNN of Donna Brazile, who had passed debate questions in advance to Clinton. Those are facts. They actually happened. Let us hold on to those facts, as we surf through lies. There was other nasty Clinton Foundation and cash for access stuff in the emails, but we do not even need to go there for the purpose of this argument. 
The original “Russian hacking” allegation was that it was the Russians who nefariously obtained these damning emails and passed them to WikiLeaks. The “evidence” for this was twofold. A report from private cyber security firm Crowdstrike claimed that metadata showed that the hackers had left behind clues, including the name of the founder of the Soviet security services. The second piece of evidence was that a blogger named Guccifer2 and a website called DNCLeaks appeared to have access to some of the material around the same time that WikiLeaks did, and that Guccifer2 could be Russian. 
That is it. To this day, that is the sum total of actual “evidence” of Russian hacking. I won’t say hang on to it as a fact, because it contains no relevant fact. But at least it is some form of definable allegation of something happening, rather than “Russian hacking” being a simple article of faith like the Holy Trinity.
Here is a letter to the president from Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity with 17 signatories including William Binney and Ray McGovern. This is from the Consortium News website, Intel Vets Challenge 'Russia Hack' Evidence:
Executive Summary
Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computer. After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device. 
Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying was performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here].
The following three articles are from Global Research, Selected Articles: Deep State Sours US-Russia Relations, Is Trump A Pawn?

From Scott Ritter: Indictment of 12 Russians Under the Shiny Wrapping, A Political Act:
Rosenstein, by the timing and content of the indictment he publicly released Friday, committed an act that undermined the president of the United States’ ability to conduct critical affairs of state—in this case, a summit with a foreign leader the outcome of which could impact global nuclear nonproliferation policy. The hue and cry among the president’s political foes for him to cancel the summit with Putin—or, failing that, to use the summit to confront the Russian leader with the indictment—is a direct result of Rosenstein’s decision to release the Mueller indictment when he did and how he did. Through its content, the indictment was designed to shape public opinion against Russia. 
This indictment, by any other name, is a political act, and should be treated as such by the American people and the media.
From Stephen Lendman, The Russian US Election Meddling Big Lie Won't Die
Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia meddled in America’s political process – nothing. 
Yet an earlier NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed most Americans believe the Russia did it Big Lie. A months earlier Gallup poll showed three-fourths of Americans view Vladimir Putin unfavorably. 
Americans are easy marks to be fooled. No matter how many times they were deceived before, they’re easily manipulated to believe most anything drummed into their minds by the power of repetitious propaganda – fed them through through the major media megaphone – in lockstep with the official falsified narrative. 
America’s dominant media serve as a propaganda platform for US imperial and monied interests – acting as agents of deception, betraying their readers and viewers time and again instead of informing them responsibly.
Philip Giraldi, The Establishment Strikes Back:
So the idea that the United States government identified twelve culprits who were responsible for trying to overthrow American democracy is by any measure ludicrous, if indeed there was a major plan to disrupt the election at all. The indictment is little more than a political document seeking to undermine any effort by Donald Trump to establish rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. It will also serve to give fuel to the Democrats, who are still at a loss to understand what happened to Hillary Clinton, and Republican hawks like John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse who persist in seeking to refight the Cold War. As Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin said in their Helsinki press conference, the coming together of the leaders of the world’s two most powerful nuclear armed countries is too important an opportunity to let pass. Cold Warriors in Washington should take note.
Here is an excellent piece by Caitlin Johnstone, Russiagate is Like 9/11, Except It's Made of Pure Narrative:
This is what I’m talking about when I say that whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Whoever controls the stories that westerners are telling each other has the power to advance concrete agendas which reshape global geopolitics without any actual thing even happening. Simply by getting a few hand-picked intelligence agents to say something happened in a relatively confident way, you can get the entire media and political body advancing that narrative as unquestionable fact, and from there advance sanctions, new military operations, a far more aggressive Nuclear Posture Review, the casting out of diplomats, the arming of Ukraine, and ultimately shove Russia further and further off the world stage. 
As we discussed last time, the current administration has actually been far more aggressive against Russia than the previous administration was, and has worked against Russian interests to a far greater extent. If they wanted to, the international alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies could just as easily use their near-total control of the narrative to advance the story that Trump is a dangerous Russia hawk who is imperiling the entire world by inflicting insane escalations against a nuclear superpower. They could elicit the exact same panicked emotional response that they are eliciting right now using the exact same media and the exact same factual situation. They wouldn’t have to change a single thing except where they place their emphasis in telling the story. The known facts would all remain exactly as they are; all that would have to change is the narrative.
I think that is probably enough.






Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Update on My Spiritual Journey

I have updated the sidebar with some new categories, links, etc. to reflect where I am in my spiritual journey at this point. Yes, atheist Presbyterian ministers have spiritual journeys. I have discovered that people really don't like it when I call myself an atheist. So I do it. I am making a point.

That point is the same point I have been making long before I started this blog. Name-calling and labels serve to repress and silence. We clump into groups and we put our trust in those who claim to be in our group. It is a natural survival instinct. No one wants to be isolated. No one wants to be dismissed. No one wants to be castigated.

Labels (atheist, progressive, alt-right, conspiracy theorist, holocaust denier, anti-semite, liberal, right-wing, fascist, anti-fascist, fake news) mean nothing. They describe nothing. They are useful for group-think. When we allow labels to direct us toward what to read and how to read it, what narratives to trust and to ignore, who our friends are, who our enemies are, we are sleep-walking. Sleep-walking is dangerous. Those authorities who have captured our allegiance, who are "well-respected" et al, can abuse that trust. They abuse the trust by putting in our heads notions that voices critical of them are bad, icky, disgusting, impure, evil, fake. Here are 17 ways to suppress truth.

David Martin wrote a poem that fits my situation now.

Could it be I've learned too much? 
If charged, I must confess. 
My views would be more popular 
If I knew much less.
I might vote for Democrats 
Or for the GOP 
And not have old acquaintances 
Almost run from me.

Education's big with them, 
And ignorance the foe, 
Except for those disturbing things 
That they don't want to know.

David Martin

David Martin along with Hugh Turley were on my KBOO show on Friday discussing the murder of Thomas Merton, anti-war hero.  David and Hugh will be the first to tell you that the Merton Establishment does not want to know this. They don't want you to know it, either.



On Sunday, I preached about John the Baptist (beheaded by Herod). Now the "official story" (Gospel of Mark) says it was because of a dancing girl, but the real reason is the same reason that martyrs have lost their heads throughout history. John was telling the truth and the truth would overthrow the powers that be. I spoke about Thomas Merton's martyrdom.  I concluded:
Catholic writer Joseph Sobran wrote:  
“In public controversies, most people are chiefly concerned to play it safe. Before they take any position, they ask themselves not “Is it true?” but “What will happen to me if I say this?” Quoted here.
Let us not be like most people. Jesus, who likely would have been called a conspiracy theorist today, said the opposite: 
“Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.” 
Amen.
Truth and Goodness.