Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Laughing Pope ?

This concept of Holocaust Denial has flashed across the media pages and screens in the past 72 hours because of the bringing back into the fold of some four bishops consecrated by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, head of a Traditionalist Catholic Sect that among other things denies the validity of the Vatican II Council.

These bishops were excommunicated, and now after they have consecrated priests and presumably more bishops, the schism is turning it into a disease as far as the Vatican is concerned. Better to rein in the bad boys, keep a closer look on them. Better than let them sell off that valuable real estate in their local portfolios and or start a new church. The days of Papal armies and burnings at the stake are just so uncool and non-PC these days. Don’t you agree?

One of these rehabilitated bishops, Richard Williamson, has stated his possibly anti-Semitic opinions in the past:

“Williamson has expressed controversial views about Jews. He called Jews "enemies of Christ" and urges their conversion to Catholicism. He claims that Jews and Freemasons have contributed to the "changes and corruption" in the Catholic Church He has also stated that Jews aim at world dominion and believes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be authentic. Williamson has denied that he is anti-Semitic, stating that he goes against "adversaries of Our Lord Jesus Christ"…(wikipedia)

Anti-Semite? You better believe it.

A news worthy notation on the global stage for examination. No doubt the Vatican sends out its unpleasant news releases on weekends just as the press office in the White House has been known to do.

No doubt in rehabilitating a lost bishop for his Catholic dogmatic views is the primary reason to cover this gaping schismatic wound as quickly as possible. Deal with collateral damage later on.

I have restrained myself until now from knocking the present pope. Going back to my Sede Vacante Temporis article, I don’t think that senile old men should be elected to important diplomatic and or religious posts. Maybe it is time for new outlooks. Maybe it time for kids under fifty to try and run the world and or the Vatican City State.

Going back to this pope’s recent wanting to stop interfaith dialogue and his trashing Islam in one of his pastoral papers connotes senility and or too many adorable sycophants sitting, lounging around the papal throne. He no doubt rubberstamps whatever his handlers give him to sign or read out loud.

I look at the guy and I like Joe the Pope. He has a warm friendly smile. He is a lifelong rubberstamp meal ticket Catholic bureaucrat. I am surprised that underneath his papal seal it does not say something like “…and they pay me for this job too…” kind of gullible rhetoric.

Benedict XVI of late reminds me of some lines of the British dance hall song “The Laughing Policeman” by Charles Penrose.

And to paraphrase a parody that might be entitled “The Laughing Pope” and borrow some lines of the famous song.

“He never can stop laughing.
He says he's never tried.
But once he did (save) a man.
And laughed until he cried! “

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh God of our many understandings

"O God of our many understandings..." -

That phraseology from Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire says many things.

Without being in the know of the latest PC thoughts from a Jesus Seminar or an ivy league divinity school, these words reach out for intelligence and tolerance and empathy. These words say that what we each may believe, though our various cultural contexts may be varied, we all, most of us, basically believe the same thing in the concept of the One God.

I am sometimes disheartened when on the news I see the lack of tolerance or understanding between the various monotheistic religions. Too many centuries of comfort in a region and too little reaching out makes for present friction between those who to this day will say that the God of the Jews or the God of Jesus or the God of Mohammed are not one and the same God.

Different names, different understandings but in truth, in our hearts, they invoke the same God.

There is local and there is global. There is sacred and there is secular. There is God and the inability of many who do not try to walk a mile in their brother’s shoes. There are those who do not realize how God has revealed himself in the same way many times throughout the ages but with different accents, and interpretations of the same language and same message from the Source of the Universe...

(there is some hype on TV commercials about what do you tell your grandchildren about where you were when Obama was sworn in)

I began to write the preceding early this morning. It was left unfinished and before the Inaugural of President Barack Hussein Obama. I had been out driving and doing some necessary urgent errands. I caught his swearing in oath on the car radio. I heard the oath of office just before turning onto another road here in Staten Island. Half a block away I saw the minaret of a mosque recycled from an old factory up ahead. The Muslims there of that particular congregation are from Albania. America has changed. The world is changing. We of necessity must change in those things that brings forth more tolerance and understanding to all matters local and global.

I saw the later part of President Obama’s speech on television and was struck by one line as part of a larger paragraph. It was: “…that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace…”

Perhaps our common humanity as it is uniquely blended in the USA will help form the comfort of our using some words first that elsewhere will one day be used that will help thaw cultural differences by their use and in faithful translation. Words and or phrases like “O God of our many understandings …” is a good start.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Temple Mount / Noble Santuary Compromise

With all the current bloodshed in Israel/Palestine these days, I am thinking of the future. Where do two cultures, political states, religions go from here?

I do not wish to document past hopes or failures. I wish to consider how hard it will be for both sides to sit down and negotiate in good faith for the future of the immediate nation state and the greater region. Examples about the end of the cold war between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R. or the falling down of apartheid in South Africa are not good examples to use or learn from. Those scenarios fit other times and places in other parts of the planet.

I have pondered this situation and think that some symbolic gesture(s) by both sides could pave eons of highways to the future. I use one example here. I am certain that those directly responsible will have better and more practical ideas than my own. That is okay. The important process is the beginning of visualization of a peaceful, prosperous Israel/Palestine in the future by all parties concerned.

I do not wish to intrude on the two cultures and religions but I have some observations. I do not think that a bi-cultural country is immediately possibly. In a global village sense, maybe a hundred years from now nobody will care who your neighbor is across the street in terms of culture or religious background. In an immediate sense I see a divided geography perhaps with walls but a reduction of violence and an escalation of trust between all parties of the region. A successful peace in Israel/Palestine will deflate political agendas in the region and hiding behind religious masks at the present time.

Picture Israel/Palestine or Palestine/Israel whichever way you want to look at the coin. Picture joint economic ventures, common public utilities, high standards of living.

The thing that sticks in a lot of Israeli throats is the division of Jerusalem with a joint political state sharing a joint capital. This is something nobody from the outside can impose. This is something the two parties have to agree upon and work together on to make it work. It is not impossible but it will be extremely difficult to maintain if the current levels of friction and mistrust continue.

I say take the Temple Mount or Haram-esh-Sharif (noble sanctuary) and borrow a page from the wisdom of Solomon. If there is to be a divided capital of Jerusalem then I think that this elevated property gets cut down the middle. The price for peace for the Palestinians should exact a price or such. They at the moment do not have the upper hand in the military equation of the situation. The Israelis are looking at their enemies, though in facts their neighbors, getting up front and personal in a very ancient symbolic piece of Israeli identity in the form of the city of Jerusalem.

This is not easy. But what if the Palestinians say okay, cut Harem-esh-Sharif down the middle if that is what it takes to make a permanent, stable, universally recognized state and capital for Palestine. I think that the Palestinians will opt to keep the half of Temple Mount that has the most symbolism in a structure for them, the Qubbat al-Sakhra or Dome of the Rock. If that happens, then the plain structure or Al-Aqsa Mosque is now on Isreali territory. I do not think that the Israelis will stop the function of this mosque but what if in the terms of binding eternal peace treaty Israel can turn the mosque into a synagogue or even tear it down to build a Third Temple.

A lot of hot points here. Al-Aqsa mosque is the big work horse mosque of the Noble Sanctuary area on Temple Mount.

Israel, if you look close enough, is more a secular state than a theocracy that it had ideally been in the ancient past. A Third Temple is only a dream for a handful of the extreme religious community. If we cannot do these things mentioned above, what can both sides do to show good faith, both literally and symbolically.

I believe that the two mosques could stay in place. A joint police force in the city of Jerusalem could administer control the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary and - and somewhere in the middle of this joint historic site, archeology and research could start on a small scale, a few square meters a year, and could go on for decades and fill a yet to be built museum for artifacts found that touch the history of two nations, two cultures, and two religions on common ground - the Earth.

It is just a thought for a possible win-win compromise for peace to accidentally break out and spread throughout the region and on to the planet as well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Anti-Semitism, Mel Gibson Style

I am not comfortable talking about anti-Semitism. I do not feel qualified to talk about the subject and will not attempt to do any lengthy essay. I would like to focus on one slice of publicly displayed anti-Semitism and surrounding the public figure of Mel Gibson with his remarks in July 2006.

Without even going after remarks by his father Hutton Gibson or his own words in a drunken stupor, the basic fact of Mel's anti-Semitic remarks originate with the Constantine Bible - a bible written for a Roman General/Emperor and for the political agenda of that political person - written, assembled three hundred years after the death of Jesus. The Jews and not the Romans supposedly killed Jesus. Whatever.

What I attack here in my simple Christian belief system is the logic or lack of it regarding what this Jesus story means in terms of hating a race for the actions of some individuals, the high priests in Herod’s temple bureaucracy.

My argument is this. Who did Jesus preach to in his three year ministry? I have to say mostly Jews. They were poor working class Jews. Oh there were a few Romans and a few Samaritans but 100% percent of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to 99.9% Jews.

Did Jesus preach his Sermon on the Mount to an empty mount? Did he feed 5,000 non-Jews with loaves and fishes? Did he go to Roman wedding to change water into wine? NO! There were a few Jews present at all these mentioned events. If you look at the Gibson family mindset, they must wonder why Jesus wasted all his time with the - the - the Jews!

How do you separate Jesus from his roots and then say that his roots were not the important part of his ministry? It is all a bit twisted.

Jerusalem and Judea as a political state went out of existence about forty years after Jesus’ time.

Christianity as it got recycled with Greek and or Roman religions lost its Jewish flavor or origins. Or did it?

Did Jews who became slaves after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. go to Rome and then buy their freedom after they helped build the Coliseum in Rome? Did they stay in Rome? This scenario has been suggested by the TV history presenter Simcha Jacobovici.

Jesus planted the seed of faith and of the new faith through Jews who ended up on the other side of the planet and without a homeland.

There are so many rich possibilities for the flowering of faith and continuation of tradition and even with paradigm shifts on a religion and a culture in transit in the first century of the common era.

When some ignorant Irish Mick spouts his mouth off and reiterates the hate of his parents, well maybe that is anti-Semitism.

I think the religious ignorance of who and what Jesus was - and was about for his people, the Jews, is something greatly monumental in the depth of stupidity and vice.

And then again maybe the anti-Semitic remarks were solely and conveniently used as a deal breaker on the proposed Gibson movie about the Maccabees. He just did not have it in him to do a great movie or do justice to that historic era.

Forget about the ministry of Jesus. Just hate a race that everyone wants to make extinct. Well, I do not think that will ever happen. There is something internal about the nature of man and culture and this indirect hated of the imperfectly formed and recycled religion called Christianity. Better to hate its origins than reform its present mess.

As for the Maccabee Movie, better that old Mel could not do it. Who would want to watch Apocolypto with a yamaka on it?