Protests in Iraq: Saving the Iraqi People

For the past week I have been receiving messages and comments with pictures and videos and hashtags “Save the Iraqi People.”

I am not sure what to make of this. Some of the comments on my Facebook page have been aggressive and accusatory because according to some I have not done my part to support the demonstrators and their cause.

It is true. I have been hesitant to support the cause especially as I do not know what the cause is, what the goals are, who the participants are, and how I can best support truth, justice, and peace in this case. All I know is that a lot of people have died and many more have been injured. I am certain that most if not all of those who have died and who have suffered are innocent people and righteous sufferers. I am distressed over that. There is not much I can do from my laptop in America except to express my sorrow, offer my prayers for justice and peace for Iraq, and offer some of my thoughts regarding all of this.

Let’s break this down.

I trust absolutely no one. It is nothing personal. It is just that my Facebook page of 5,000 friends and 8,000 followers is teeming, swarming, and infested with agents. These agents represent intelligence agencies from the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other places as well. I have no idea who is or who is not an agent. Not only that, but even those who are not agents are subject to disinformation and deception. This goes for me. It goes for you. I do not trust any picture or any video from anyone. It doesn’t mean I think the images are deceptive. I cannot know. I don’t know the context. I am not there. I can’t speak the language. I do not know what is happening. I know nothing.  I don’t know who is doing what to whom. Even if I did, I don’t know what to do about it.

When I receive these memes with hashtags to “Save the Iraqi People” I have no idea what to do about that. I could blindly pass it on in the hopes that someone somewhere will save the Iraqi people. I know it won’t be me. I cannot save the Iraqi people. As much as I love the Iraqi people and have been embraced by them since I went to Iraq for Arba’een last year, and as much as I sympathize and empathize, I cannot save you. I don’t think anyone with whom I would share the meme will save you either. That is the point.

It isn’t that the message isn’t out. The New York Times got the message. They know that Iraqis are protesting and dying. Some are salivating over it. It is a great opportunity for the opportunistic to take a bite out of what is left of Iraq and seek to isolate Iran.

The harsh truth for the United States is that Baghdad is too dependent on Tehran and cannot manage without Iranian natural gas and other products that meet its day-to-day needs. Iraq’s annual trade with Iran is $12 billion while American exports to Iraq are a mere $1.3 billion. 

Washington can help reduce this dependence and reinforce Iraqi sovereignty by enabling Baghdad to build stronger relations with countries that can provide alternatives. This can take the form of a road map to energy independence involving facilitating strategic dialogues on shared energy grids and new pipeline connections with the Gulf states and Jordan.

What is this meme, “Save the Iraqi People” intended to accomplish?  Whose help is being sought?

Is the request for me to tell my congressperson to send more US military to Iraq? Should my president, Donald J. Trump fire some missiles into Baghdad? Will that save the Iraqi people? That is how America saves. That is how we “saved” Libya. That is how we “saved” Syria. That is how we “saved” Iraq already on more than one occasion. If we don’t blow up countries ourselves we arm and train mercenary terrorists (ISIS by whatever name) to do it.

If you want an outside government to save you, America (or any Western/NATO country) is not a wise choice. You would do better to pray to Satan. We are Shiva, destroyer of worlds. Honestly, if you want an outside government to save you, I would start sending those tweets, hashtags, and memes in Persian. Regardless of the bad blood between Iraq and Iran, Iran is 1,000 times more likely to be a better ally to Iraq than Israel’s pet, the United States. 

Remember America armed and funded both sides in the Iran/Iraq War and America put Saddam in powerbefore taking him out over the course of several decades, killing two million Iraqis and poisoning the entire country with depleted uranium for good measure. The Israeli/American neocons want to mix it up with Iran next. They are loving this death and destruction and the meme to “save the Iraqi people” and to divide Iraq from Iran at Arba’een. They would love to save Iraq by turning it into Greater Israel.

It would not shock me in the least to discover that the current Iraqi government is infiltrated with U.S. and Israeli agents shooting at innocent Iraqis. Not only that but Israel likely employs a lot of sharpshooters who speak Farsi so that Iraqis will blame Iran. Who benefits from violence against Iraq? Not Iran.

In terms of what to do about your government, I certainly don’t know, and in my opinion, nor does any honest person in America. Our own government is in shambles. How could anyone in America know any more or love the Iraqis any more than Ayatollah Sistani

The office of the Shia Muslim Supreme Religious Authority already suggested — on August 7, 2015 — that the relevant authorities should form a committee comprised of well-known and highly-qualified figures, whom the Iraqis trust, and such figures should be from outside the realm of the government. The committee has to be tasked with initiating the prerequisites to combating corruption and achieving reform, and it should work side by side with the representatives of the demonstrations in order to listen to the demands of the Iraqi people and their perspectives. And after the committee has finished initiating the prerequisites — whether legislative, executive, or judicial — all the prerequisites must come into effect immediately. This was the suggestion the government didn’t act upon, but it could perhaps be an appropriate solution to the current crisis.

I empathize with you. I can’t save you. No one in America can. You will have to save yourselves. Perhaps your inspiration for that will be found in Karbala.

Expanding the Heart

These are the notes from a speech I gave at the Hussain Day Conference in Somerset, New Jersey at the Masjid-E-Ali Mosque. The conference was entitled, “Rise Above Hate.”

It was sponsored by Payam-e-Aman and Stand With Dignity

Last year I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I don’t say that lightly. It is an experience that will stay with me for my lifetime, insha’Allah.  I visited the shrine of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) in Karbala, Iraq during Arba’een, the largest annual peaceful human gathering in the world.  Estimates range from a low of 15 million to upwards of 30 million people who make the journey to Karbala every year. 

My friend and I made a film about it. You can find it on YouTube, “For Love of Hussain.” 

The trip was sponsored by The Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle. Sister Zahra Abidi has a vision for a Hussain Revolution in the United States that includes bringing people together to discuss important things, sometimes controversial things, but things that matter not only to Muslims but to all human beings. That is how I met her. 

In addition to being a pastor I host a radio show on KBOO, a community radio station in Portland. I moderated a panel discussion regarding the war against Yemen at Portland State University in February 2018. It was entitled “The US – Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?” 

It was in the follow-up of that conference during an email exchange that I first heard of Hussain. He was referenced in regards to the panelists, all of whom had taken risks, and had sacrificed in varying ways for their work in bring truth to light. Each of the panelists was a truth-teller. They told inconvenient truths about the powers that be. 

That is how I was introduced to Imam Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him). He was a truth-teller and was martyred for embodying the truth. I knew nothing else about him except that.  I wanted to learn more. 

Sending Christians and Sunni Muslims to Iraq for Arba’een is one of the things Sister Zahra and the Husayniah Society of Seattle does. I am happy to support her good work. They have just purchased property in the north of Seattle, in hopes, insh’Allah, of creating a center. I am sure she would love to talk with you about it and hear your encouragement. You can visit their website.  Search Husayniah Seattle.

The Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle paid for the trip for my friend, Josh, and me. Josh has done some filming. So we went to make an amateur documentary.  It was more than that for me. This was timely in my life. It was a search, you could say. I have been experiencing I guess you could say a spiritual growth spurt.  Maybe it is a mid-life crisis.  I have discovered the need in my own life to search more deeply about what is really going on in our world and what are the forces at work and to what paths we are being led. I realize I cannot trust our traditional sources of information, especially the mainstream media to do that.

I am discovering that these forces are dark forces as the title of this conference indicates. Rise Above Hate.  What is hate? How do we rise above it? 

I didn’t go To Arba’een for healing. I didn’t go for intercession. I didn’t go for forgiveness of sins. I didn’t go for mourning.  I didn’t know people went for all those reasons until I went there and started talking with people. 

I went because I wanted to see this person and why so many were attracted to him. I wanted to see the person whose life was so pure, that he gave it to save his grandfather’s faith. I wanted to visit the person who didn’t compromise his principles. I wanted to see the person who might inspire me in some way to find courage and character for whatever it is that Allah is calling me to do. I wanted to see the person who in his life and in his death rose above hate and showed us all how to do it.

Some Muslims I have met are curious as to whether I have converted or reverted to Islam. I don’t know how to answer that exactly. I like to think that my faith has expanded. I have a heart for Jesus (peace be upon him) and I always will, insh’Allah. But I also have a heart for Hussain (peace be upon him) and a heart for Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny).  Being introduced to Hussain and the Prophet and his family and the Islamic faith in loving ways by loving people has expanded my heart. 

You really cannot have an interfaith interaction and expect not to be changed in important ways. Unless we are vulnerable enough to have our hearts touched by another, it is not really an interaction. It is just us trying to convince others of our position. It is just a sales pitch.

I cannot worry about whether or not others are changed by what I say. That is up to God. I want my heart expanded by others—by you.  Or to put it more accurately, to have God expand my heart through you. 

That has happened a great deal in this past year in all my interactions with Muslims through the Islamic Center across the street from my church in Portland and with the Husayniah Society in Seattle as I mentioned, through my on-line interactions, through the generous opportunity to attend conferences, through the helpful resources in which I am slowly beginning to learn more about Karbala, through reflection, through my ministry in my church, and, of course, through the opportunity I was given to visit the holy sites in Iraq. 

That is what I think it means to “rise above hate.”  It means to have one’s own heart expanded. Let me explain.

Love expands the heart. Hate shrinks the heart.  

You know the book and movie, “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss?  The Grinch’s heart was three sizes too small, remember? He hated the Whos in Whoville. Then, by a miracle, his heart expanded. He met a Who, Cindy Lou Who, who showed him kindness and he saw what the Whos really loved and valued, what the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him) meant, not things, but generosity, and the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.  

Sometimes the simplest children’s stories tell the most profound truths.

We cannot stop hate by hating the haters. We cannot just expand someone else’s heart. Hate takes a long time to shrink a heart. What does it take to shrink a heart with hate? It takes isolation. It takes hurt. It takes ignorance. It takes fear. It takes prejudice. It takes suspicion. It takes rejection. It takes anger. It takes envy. It takes greed. It takes acceptance of falsehood. It takes abuse. It takes oppression. It takes time to allow hate to shrink our hearts. 

Hate is out there. We can find it in our institutions in our governments. They can be overtaken. In my tradition, we call this force the demonic. It can take over a whole nation. The demonic does not work for the good of the world or the people or its creatures. It works to divide us, to shrink our hearts with hate. The demonic works in secret. It works in the dark. It works with deception. It works with lies. It works with marketing. There are forces at work in the world that want to shrink our individual hearts and our collective heart as a people. So we live in suspicion and fear and become docile to these forces.

Any of us, all of us, are susceptible to having hate shrink our hearts. Hate is like a toxic weed that grows in the soil of ignorance. Hate is the result of so many complex negative emotions. You can’t convince people or prove to people or sell people on your opinion.  You can only actually love. You can only do that by allowing your own heart to be expanded by another.

Rising Above Hate. How do we do that? If hate shrinks our heart, how does love expand our heart?

I should add this: The Latin root word for heart is cor. COR. Where we get the word coronary. We also get the word courage. We think of someone with the heart of a lion, like Hussain’s half-brother Abbas, as having the heart of a lion, a courageous heart.  As your heart expands, as your heart grows with love, you become courageous. 

How do we become courageous? How do we expand our hearts? 

The Buddha in the Dhammapadda is reported to have said: 

Do not consider the faults of others

Or what they have or haven’t done.

Consider rather

What you yourself have or haven’t done.

We cannot do that if we think we want to stop the hatred of others.  We want to stop hate. Therefore we want to stop them, those haters.  You can’t just tell people, “You are hateful. Stop it.” It won’t work.  We can only allow our own hearts to be expanded.

So I am in the Shrine of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him). It is beautiful. The air conditioning is on. It is filled with the sound of prayer. People are crying. Some are standing. Some are sitting. Some are in various positions of prayer.  Poetry is being recited from many places. I don’t understand a word of it, except now and then I hear a name I recognize, Ali, Zainab, Abbas, Hossein.

This is about a week before Arba’een. I am with the tour group. I decide I want to go and touch the big box in the center of the shrine, the lattice work above the grave of Hussain. At first I wasn’t sure if I would do it, or should do it. If it was appropriate. Hussain was not a person in my religion. But I kept hearing all week that Hussain is for everyone. So I decided to go and do it. 

I don’t know what it is like on the women’s side, but on the men’s side, even a week before the day of Arba’een the place is packed. it is a push and pull like ocean waves of bodies. Your feet almost leave the ground. There are so many people. You know where you are headed. And you aim for it. But it is like swimming in the ocean. You don’t need to be aggressive but you need to hold your own. You swim through the bodies, pushed left and right. Finally, I got close enough, almost there.  

I should stop again. I was conscious of being different. Different religion. I only speak English. From America. My reddish hair, now reddish-gray, pale skin.  Of the thousands of people inside the shrine that day, I was probably the whitest guy in the room. I reach up and put my hand up to touch the lattice work and I can’t reach it. 

A hand took mine and pushed it up against the grate. It was a brown hand, taking my white hand up against the final resting place of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him). It was a visual imprint in my mind that beyond all color, all race, all religion, all language, the language of love and truth and courage is one. The love of Hussain. Our eyes met. We just looked at each other. 

As I swam away, just a few yards away, I saw this man. He stared at me. Tears were streaming down his face. He asked me as many did on my trip, “Where are you from?” I told him, America.  He just started bawling. He hugged me and kissed me. I have joked that I never have been kissed by so many men with scratchy beards.  

But what is this?  

Iraq. A country that felt post-apocalyptic to me. I, like many of us Americans, watched from a distance as our leaders lied us into war, destroyed Iraq, and then ignored its suffering. No one goes there. No one that I know, except my brother-in-law. He is a professor at NYU and he goes often to the northern part of Iraq because of his work of peacebuilding with the University of Duhok. Besides my brother-in-law and soldiers, I know of no one who had been to Iraq. A country that Americans like me need to visit. A country devastated by the demonic, by lies and wars, by bombs and depleted uranium. By hatred from outside powers, mercenary terrorists and puppet tyrants, the people left to fend for themselves.  

The US state department tells Americans not to go to Iraq.  Too dangerous. Bad. Whatever. What did I find? I found love. I found tears. I found joy. I found hope. I found my heart had expanded.  A Christian American was embraced and shown the love of Hussain (alayhi s-salam).

That is how we rise above hate.  We allow ourselves to be vulnerable so our hearts can expand. If you cannot go to Arba’een, then bring Arba’een here. 

Courage is the result of an expanded heart. With courage is insight to tell the truth as best you know it when you need to tell it.  That is what I try to do now in my ministry and on my Facebook page and radio show, where ever I do my thing. That doesn’t mean I know truth more than others. That doesn’t mean I am not ever wrong. I am wrong often.  Courage is admitting it and learning from it.  

Courage does not mean me selling you my truth. It doesn’t mean that. Hearts do not expand that way. You tell what is true and live what is true and Allah does the rest. 

But it does mean that we cannot be afraid of what we know or of what we learn because of the discomfort of truth to us or others or to the powers that deceive. 

Nor can we be afraid of exploring and researching in taboo areas.  

Exposing the demonic and its lies.

That is where the hatred infests.

Nor can we be concerned if people will reject or ridicule or whatever they must do to protect their illusions. Hussain’s sacrifice shattered all illusions.

In particular, he shattered an illusion that you fight hate with more hate and that you lead with power and coercion.  

Hussain showed the world that you lead not with might but with right.  You fight hate with love from an expanded and courageous heart. 

That has always been the way that the true heroes rise above hatred in all its forms.

May we all be heroes in that same spirit.

While It is Still Not Too Late

My sermon from Sunday, September 29th, 2019 at Southminster Presbyterian Church. Listen to audio here.

How late is it?

For me personally, at the age of 58, it is likely too late to fulfill that dream of playing second base for the New York Mets. That dream should be put on the shelf. My seven-year-old nephew, Cooper, can dream that dream, but for me, it is too late.

The journey of life requires that of us. That is to evaluate what there is still time to do and what must be considered realistically, too late. We may harbor old dreams long past their expiration date. It is healthy to let those dreams go with appropriate mourning and ritual so we can look with clear eyes at what is still yet possible and what dreams fit reality.

It is not easy to let go of dreams. Those dreams can be so much a part of us that we hold on to them even when evidence of their demise is easy to see. We call that denial.

Poor Zedekiah, the last king of Judah before its capture by the Babylonians in the 6th century before Christ. He has had a long relationship with Jeremiah. Almost friends I wonder? Their dance goes like this: Zedekiah asks Jeremiah for a word from the Lord. Jeremiah gives it to him. Zedekiah refuses to heed it. Again and again they repeat that pattern.

When it is too late for anything else, Jeremiah tells him, “Surrender. It is over. Spare your life and your family’s life.” Zedekiah won’t believe it.

And according to the text we heard this morning, even as the Babylonian army is besieging the city, Zedekiah asks Jeremiah why he is prophesying the end for Judah. It would be almost comical if it weren’t so tragic. Denial to the last. Zedekiah is captured. His family is killed before his eyes. Then his eyes are gouged out and he is taken to Babylon in chains. The last king of Judah.

Jeremiah does give one more prophecy. But if Zedekiah heard it, we can’t know if it ever held meaning for him. Jeremiah tells the story of the field he bought, complete with a lot of detail regarding the purchase. The prophecy is that land will be purchased in Judah again. Yes, it is hopeful. A hopeful prophecy. But it will not be fulfilled in the lifetime of anyone listening, including Jeremiah. This hope will be realized on the other side of the devastation. That is hope in the midst of reality. A real hope. It is not fake hope, the hope to which Zedekiah clung.

Some have been showing us that the hour is late for America. I won’t tell you that. I am not as clear of vision as they are nor as brave as Jeremiah. I will just point out that there are those people who say things like that. There is hope for us. Real hope, they say. But it is long past the fake hope of endless happy motoring. That era, they say, will end soon, as the hour is late.

So what do we do?

Well, there is a parable for that.

It is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. But Lazarus doesn’t have much of a part. The real story is about the rich man. Many people don’t like this parable as it conjures up images of hellfire which many of us traumatized in our childhood religion are glad to have left behind.

In my mind the best interpretation of this parable is by Charles Dickens in his story “A Christmas Carol.” One Christmas Eve awhile back, Ebeneezer Scrooge, the old miser, is visited by three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, respectively. Scrooge is given a gift that he didn’t deserve. He was able to see his life, past, present, and future.

The Ghost of Christmas Future, unlike the other two spirits, does not speak. He only shows. The death of the crippled boy, Tim. The celebration of the city over what? The death of Scrooge as he realizes seeing his own tombstone.

“Are these things that will happen or may happen?” Scrooge asks desperately to the Ghost who doesn’t answer.

Mercifully, Scrooge awakens, scared witless, but transformed. Much is too late for Scrooge. Too late for the love of his life he traded for greed. Too late for Christmas dinners that he missed with his loved ones. Most of his life is water under the bridge. But he has a little time left. It is not too late for everything. It is not too late for one more Christmas Day spent with joy and generosity.

Through the lens of Charles Dickens is how I see the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
We might ask,
“Is this what really happens when we die?”
“Is there really a hell?”
“Is there really divine judgment?”
“Or is it just a story?”

Jesus, like the ghost of Christmas future does not answer. He just points to it.

The parable is not for the dead, of course. It is not for Lazarus or the rich man. The parable is for the living.

We can dismiss it as the rich man fears his brothers will dismiss what is written by Moses and the Prophets.

“Send Lazarus back to warn my brothers!” he cries.

“Even a resurrected dead man won’t convince them,” says Abraham. “What you get is what you get.”

Here we are today, September 29th, 2019, confronted by two Bible stories, one from Jeremiah and one from Luke. Bible stories that have been in Bibles long before any of us were around. Bible stories translated into hundreds of different languages, commented upon, reflected upon, debated, heard, dismissed, and received.

What do we do?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a powerful sermon on this text in 1955. The rich man in Latin is Dives (Dahy-vees) and the King James used Dives as proper name for the rich man. King in his sermon, said Dives’ sin, the rich man’s sin, was not that he was rich, but it was that he refused to bridge the gulf between Lazarus and himself, the gulf now permanent in the afterlife. This is from King:

“Dives is the white man who refuses to cross the gulf of segregation and lift his Negro brother to the position of first class citizenship, because he thinks segregation is a part of the fixed structure of the universe. Dives is the India Brahman who refuses to bridge the gulf between himself and his brother, because he feels that the gulf which is set forth by the caste system is a final principle of the universe. Dives is the American capitalist who never seeks to bridge the economic gulf between himself and the laborer, because he feels that it is the natural for some to live in inordinate luxury while others live in abject poverty.

Dives sin was not that he was cruel to Lazarus, but that he refused to bridge the gap of misfortune that existed between them. Dives sin was not his wealth; his wealth was his opportunity. His sin was his refusal to use his wealth to bridge the gulf between the extremes of superfluous, inordinate wealth and abject, deadening poverty.

So when Dives cries to Abraham to send him one drop of water at Lazarus’ hands, Abraham replies: “There is a fixed gulf between you now.” There was a time that Dives could have bridged the gulf. He could have used the engineering power of love to build a bridge of compassion between him and Lazarus. But he refused. Now the gulf is fixed. The gulf is now an impassable gulf. Time has run out. The tragic words, too late, must now be, marked across the history of Dives’ life.

King finished his sermon by saying that all of us are Dives in one way or another.

“Each of us is a potential Dives, maybe not rich in material goods, but rich in education, rich in social prestige, rich in influence, rich in charm. At our gate stands some poor Lazarus who has been deprived of all of these. There is a gulf. But the gulf can be bridged by a little love and compassion. Bridge the gulf before it becomes too late. It is now passable. But it can become impassable.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached that sermon October 2nd, 1955 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, 64 years ago this week.

Nearly 12 years later on April 4th, 1967, in Riverside Church in New York, he preached the sermon that defined his last days, “Beyond Vietnam.” Exactly one year later, April 4th, 1968, he was assassinated. You can tell me whether or not his assassination had anything to do with his Vietnam sermon. The King family thinks it does.

The point is that it was a good sermon King preached in 1955 in Montgomery. Everyone liked it. It was scholarly, contemporary, and inspirational. Take a lesson from Dives before it is too late and bridge the gulf between yourself and those less fortunate than you.

The sermon he preached in 1967 was not well received. There King preached against the Vietnam War, saying at one point what had happened to the Vietnamese people:

“They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.”

King called for the end of the war and for young men and women to become conscientious objectors. Near the end of his sermon he said:

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

King was vilified, of course, by representatives of the war machine and by the many enemies he had already made over the years in his battle for civil rights. More than that. He lost virtually all support from his friends, colleagues, and supporters in the civil rights movement itself. His last year of life was a lonely year. It was also a year that he felt most alive.

“I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the promised land,” he said in his last sermon in Memphis before he was shot and killed.

King knew his Vietnam sermon would change the course of his life. He knew the risk he was taking speaking against the war machine. He knew what people would say, that he would lose all that he had worked for, lose his support, lose virtually everything. Lose his own life.

King knew something else. He knew that it was late. He knew that America had not much time, (even less today) to save its soul before it destroys the world. He knew that the hour was late for him. Even at the age of 48, he knew his days were not indefinite. He knew that he had to make a choice. He had to decide what his life was, what his life was worth. He knew that he couldn’t retire on the victories of the Civil Rights Act when the elites were leading the country to hell in Vietnam and beyond.

He made his choice in his time.

He took a lesson from the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.

Bible stories. That is all they are. Ancient history and parables. Jeremiah and Zedekiah, the rich man and Lazarus. Just Bible stories. For some people that is all they are and ever will be. For others, Like Martin Luther King, they are the summons from Spirit.

Spirit calling those who would hear that the hour is late.
There is not much time.
But there is time.
Time to end denial and to put on the shelf unrealistic dreams.
Time to act on a realistic hope.
Time to take inventory of your life and what you value.
Time to ask yourself what the rest of your life is for.

Amen.

No Longer “Happy to Be a Presbyterian”

(Reposted from Shuck and Jive)

A few weeks ago I was banned from the Facebook group, “Happy to Be a Presbyterian.” I had been a member for some time, close to its beginning, I think. It has about 11,000 members and I think of it as the social media living room for members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), my denomination that I have served as a minster for 27 years. 


I was informed by one of the moderators that I had broken the group’s rules. I don’t doubt that I broke the rules. I often break rules. But in this case, what rule? What rule was broken?  The moderator did not say except that I broke the clear rules. Spelling that out from my point of view will be the point of this post. 


I should provide a bit of history about my relationship with my denomination. I am probably one of the most obnoxious ministers in the church. Many people do not like me. For good reason. I made a lot of enemies battling for LGBT rights (ordination, marriage). The same for my support of the Jesus Seminar, Evolution Weekend, and atheist ministers. Of course, I wrote and spoke out against the American Empire and its wars and Israel and its genocide of the Palestinians. I wrote about Peak Oil and the coming collapse of the American way of life (which will likely happen in very short order). 


My record is public. You can find all the stuff I have done on my blogs, Shuck and Jive and  Progressive Spirit, and now on Facebook (even as I despise it). You can even read or hear nearly all my sermonsincluding those I have preached at my current church. Speaking of my current church, waters are again rough as you can hear by my most recent sermon and read in my most recent missive to the congregation.  My days as a Presbyterian minister in a pulpit are likely numbered. 


These days I write, speak and post against Islamophobia and in particular anti-Shiism, and have found renewed faith in God through my exposure to the person of Imam Hussain (a.s.) after having journeyed to Karbala. Let’s be clear. My theology like my politics are independent. I will not be owned by any gatekeeper of any religion, political party or movement.  I care about two things—Truth and Goodness.  I affirm this old Presbyterian principle:

“That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness, according to our Savior’s rule, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ And that no opinion can either be more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a person’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.” (F-3.0104)

With that, let’s go back to what happened at “Happy to Be a Presbyterian”. I posted this link. This was a link to a study completed by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks regarding the collapse of World Trade Center Tower 7 on September 11th, 2001. The study concluded

“…that fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”

Within 38 minutes my post was removed. I posted it again. It was removed again almost immediately. I messaged the three moderators asking them if they removed it.  Each said no. One even suggested that Facebook might have removed it. After messaging the moderators, I posted the link to the study for the third time. It was again removed immediately. I wrote another piece (without the link to the study this time) saying what just happened with my suspicion that Facebook removed the post (they have done that before).  A spirited conversation resulted with many people commenting.

Finally, in the course of the conversation, a fourth moderator emerged and said he removed the post. I told him it would be nice in the future to let me know when that happens. In the course of responding to comments on this post, I once again linked to the study. In short order, the comments were frozen. The fourth moderator messaged me that he froze comments and and that my link to the study was again removed. That was the fourth removal of the link to the study. In my messages with him, he said he closed comments because the conversation was “not productive” and he removed links to the study because it “was not scientific.”  He decided that for 11,000 members of the group. I told him he was working for dark forces by his actions. I complained to the other three moderators about him. I was then told I was banned. 


What rule did I break? 


It wasn’t that I posted something political. Political stuff is posted there often, including previously by me. Maybe my post doesn’t concern Presbyterians? It concerns everyone. A Presbyterian touchstone is speaking truth to power. Maybe I am just obnoxious. Maybe they didn’t like that I protested the deletion rather than just accept it. I am sure people will say all of those things are rules I have broken. Whatever.

Here is what I think. I am a member of Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth and have been for nearly ten years. Exposing the lies of our government regarding the events of September 11th, 2001 cannot be tolerated by our media or any of our public institutions including the church even as the church is founded on the truth of Jesus Christ. 


That is the rule that I broke. I posted information that shows that our government lied and continues to lie about the defining event of this century. I posted information from an accredited university. I posted a study showing that our government lied. This is no small, insignificant lie. This lie has resulted in massive surveillance, torture, Islamophobia, the stripping of civil liberties, post 9/11 wars costing trillions of dollars, the destruction of nations, and the deaths of millions. It goes on. It matters. 
This happened

A 47-story skyscraper came down in 7 seconds (2.5 of those seconds at the acceleration of gravity). Obviously, it was the result of explosives. This is only the beginning of the lies.  We have been lied to. And I am squealing.
It is Hussain who has given me the spiritual courage to write about it and talk about it come what may. Since going to Karbala, I have been writing and posting more about this (and other crimes of the elites) than I ever have. I don’t care if Muslims or Christians don’t like me talking about this. Muslims don’t own Hussain any more than Christians own Jesus.

Hussain knew he would be martyred. He and his 72 companions versus 30,000? Seriously? What other outcome is there? But he is victorious. His story lives. Thus he lives

As for Jesus. He, too, was martyred in Jerusalem at the hand of Rome and its temple conspirators. He stood for truth. He knew he would be martyred. What did he think he could accomplish turning over tables in the temple? He lived for truth. Like Hussain’s his was a losing cause. But he is victorious. His story lives. Thus he lives. Jesus is also my spiritual inspiration.


It is Jesus I follow to Karbala.
Jesus showed me Hussain.
If I want to follow Jesus, I must follow Hussain.
Hussain shows me how to follow Jesus.


I don’t care about what the scholars of either religion say I have to believe about Jesus or Hussain. I think Jesus was a human being just like the rest of us (this goes against orthodox Christianity). I think Jesus was martyred (this goes against orthodox Islam). As I said, I am independent. 


When Imam Mahdi and Jesus reveal themselves, then I guess we will all know. All of us will likely be wrong about a lot of things. In the meantime, I care about truth and goodness. I will speak it so help me God.


I am sad I am no longer “Happy to Be a Presbyterian.” It is my family. But, as we know, all families are toxic when they require you to suppress your truth to be a part of them.


I am leading a study of David Ray Griffin’s book The Christian Gospel for Americans: A Systematic Theology, for four Tuesday evenings in October (8, 15, 22, 29) from 7-9 pm at Southminster. 


Dr. Griffin writes that the church is in a time of status confesionis (confessional status) in regards to the American Empire.  

It is now time for Christians in America—actually, long past time—to engage in an extensive examination of the nature of the American Empire to see if it is so “perverted and oppressive” that Christians, individually and as churches, should “publicly and unequivocally” reject it…

American political, economic, and military leaders have long been engaged, since at least the end of the Cold War, in a “global domination project,” similar to the Nazi project. Like the Germans, America has used its power toward bringing the whole world under its control. How could we fail to regard this American Empire’s domination project—like the Nazi project—as wholly antithetical to Christian faith?

Our Christian faith at its best would lead us, both as individual Christians and as churches, to oppose the American Empire in the name of God. As long as the church does not explicitly oppose this empire, it is, by its silence, a de facto supporter.

All are welcome. 

11/9 and The Terrorist Who Loved Bonsai Trees

A novel about a false flag terrorist plot to lead the US to war.

Sound familiar?

John Shuck shares information about the report from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on World Trade Center 7 that collapsed on September 11th, 2001. The result of the four-year study is that fire did not cause the collapse. In addition, John speaks with Philip Kraske about his fifth novel, 11/9 and the Terrorist Who Loved Bonsai Trees

“Trudy Schelling arrives at her company in Jersey City, New Jersey, to start her first day of work at Hallerbee Net Research. The date is November 9. Barely through the door, she is grabbed by a man in military garb – one of several in the brownstone townhouse – but fends him off and manages to escape. Twenty minutes later, six terrorists, fleeing their botched job of planting a miniature atomic bomb in the Empire State Building, screech to a halt in front of the same townhouse, three police cars on their tail. The terrorists run inside, and a hostage standoff ensues, the dozen hostages ostensibly being Hallerbee employees.

Pursued through the streets of Manhattan, Trudy knows that the attack is a false-flag operation. In a matter of hours, she is portrayed in the media as the seventh terrorist of the group, and the entire country is baying for her blood. Her only hope is Paul Klippen, a State Department official whose lonely task is to expose the lies about her and stop war between the United States and Iran.”

David Ray Griffin says of the novel:

“Most of us who continue to do research on 9/11 focus primarily on the question of what really happened that day. There will eventually be a definitive answer to that question that can be summarized in a few pages. But what is the meaning of 9/11, what are its implications? Philip Kraske’s superb thriller, 11/9 and the Terrorist Who Loved Bonsai Trees, as the title implies, holds up a mirror to 9/11, providing a way of understanding this horrendous event. The hilarious book-ending riff of Trudy’s comedian boyfriend sums up both the stupidity and the irony of it all. 

— David Ray Griffin, Author of 9/11 Unmasked”

Bio:

Philip Kraske was born in Detroit, lived his formative years in Ohio and Minnesota, and stayed in America long enough to get in the basic rituals of high school and college. He graduated from the U of Minnesota/Twin Cities with a B.A. in International Relations. He settled permanently in Madrid in the 80s.  

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Voices from Syria: A Conversation with Mark Taliano and Rev. Andrew Ashdown

Having spent years observing and researching, Taliano explains in detail which western politicians support terror, how humanitarianism is feigned to cover crimes, and why mainstream media is corrupt to the core.

On The Beloved Community, John Shuck speaks with Mark Taliano, author of Voices from Syria

Three years ago, Mark Taliano travelled to Syria in attempt to hear from Syrians what is really happening in their country. Mark writes:

“Between 15 and 23 September 2016, I travelled to war-torn Syria because I sensed years ago that the official narratives being fed to North Americans across TV screens, in newsprint and on the internet were false. The invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya were all based on lies; likewise for Ukraine. All of the post-9/11 wars were sold to Western audiences through a sophisticated network of interlocking governing agencies that disseminate propaganda to both domestic and foreign audiences. But the dirty war on Syria is different. The degree of war propaganda levelled at Syria and contaminating humanity at this moment is likely unprecedented. I had studied and written about Syria for years, so I was not entirely surprised by what I saw. What I felt was a different story. Syria is an ancient land with a proud and forward-looking people. To this ancient and holy land we sent mercenaries, hatred, bloodshed and destruction. We sent strange notions of national exceptionalism and wave upon wave of lies. As a visitor I felt shame, but Syrians welcomed me as one of them. These are their stories; these are their voices.”

We will spend the hour with Mark, hearing from his perspective, a perspective quite at odds with the official US government narrative.

We were also joined by Anglican priest, Rev. Andrew Ashdown, who has travelled all over Syria and met hundreds of people.

KBOO Friday August 9th, 9-10 am

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My Interview with Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is making a big impact in her run for president. She is head and shoulders above most of the other candidates in terms of what politics can and should be.

In August 2016, I interviewed Marianne Williamson about her book, Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment. We covered a lot of ground in 27 minutes including politics, who we are as human beings, A Course in Miracles, pharmaceuticals, and physical and psychic pain.

Here is the transcript.

Here is the audio.

Enjoy!

Awakening to Justice: Conversations with Ned Rosch and Mustafa Akhwand

Ned Rosch of National Jewish Voice for Peace has written a chapter for a new book, Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation and Mustafa Akhwand is founder and Executive Director for Shia Rights Watch.

Portland resident, Ned Rosch has written a chapter for the book, Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation that was released in May 2019. A part of his chapter, “Palestine and My Journey of Self-Discovery” was published in Yes Magazine. The book’s promotion reads: 

“Today Jews face a choice. We can be loyal to the ethical imperatives at the heart of Judaism — love the stranger, pursue justice, and repair the world. Or we can give our unconditional support to the state of Israel. It is a choice between Judaism as a religion and the nationalist ideology of Zionism, which is usurping that religion.”

Ned Rosch will be sharing his story at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, Sunday, August 4th at 9 am.

In the second half of the show, host John Shuck speaks with Mustafa Akhwand, the founder and Executive Director of Shia Rights Watch (SRW), which focuses on the humanitarian rights of Shia Muslims. With a network of over 600 people, Shia Rights Watch plays a critical role in improving the quality of life for all minority populations around the world. Various human rights and peace-keeping organizations have recognized Mr. Akhwand’s human rights advocacy including Freemuslim (Center for De-Radicalization & Extremism Prevention), Amnesty International, Human Rights Education Association, United States Institute of Peace, Adam Center for Defending Rights and Beliefs, and Center for Strategic Studies in Iraq. 

Here is a link to the Camp Speicher Massacre referenced by Mustafa Akhwand during the broadcast.

Ned Rosch and Mustafa Akhwand

KBOO LIVE, Friday July 12th 9-10 am PACIFIC

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Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Legions

A sermon preached on June 23rd at Southminster Presbyterian in Beaverton, Oregon. Based on the lectionary text, Luke 8:26-39.

Walter Wink, The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium 
As the soul of systems, the Powers in their spiritual aspect are everywhere around us. Their presence is inescapable. The issue is not whether we “believe” in them but whether we can learn to identify them in our actual, everyday encounters. The apostle Paul called this the gift of discerning spirits. When a particular Power becomes idolatrous—that is, when it pursues a vocation other than the one for which God created it and makes its own interests the highest good—then that Power becomes demonic. The spiritual task is to unmask this idolatry and recall the Powers to their created purposes in the world. But this can scarcely be accomplished by individuals. A group is needed—what the New Testament calls an ekklesia (assembly)—one that exists specifically for the task of recalling these Powers to their divine vocation. That was to be the task of the church, “so that through the church (ekklesia) the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities [“principalities and powers”] in the heavenly places“ (Eph. 3:10). And the church must perform this task despite its being as fallen and idolatrous as any other institution in society.

Luke 8:26-39
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) J

Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear.

So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

For Citizenship John O’Donohue
In these times when anger
Is turned into anxiety
And someone has stolen
The horizons and the mountains,

Our small emperors on parade
Never expect our indifference
To disturb their nakedness.

They keep their heads down
And their eyes gleam with reflection
From Aluminum economic ground,

The media wraps everything
In a cellophane of sound,
And the ghost surface of the virtual
Overlays the breathing earth.

The industry of distraction
Makes us forget
That we live in a universe.

We have become converts
To the religion of stress
And its deity of progress;

That we may have courage
To turn aside from it all
And come to kneel down before the poor,
To discover what we must do,
How to turn anxiety
Back into anger,
How to find our way home.

Sermon

Casting out demons or unclean spirits is one of the things Jesus does. He does it several times and the stories are repeated in the gospels. As uncomfortable as modern people are with demons or unclean spirits, even the Jesus Seminar said that exorcism was one of the things that the historical Jesus did or was believed to have done.

Demons and unclean spirits are not particularly easy to discuss. Many people, more than you might think, believe in the reality of demons and unclean spirits. Many religious groups take quite literally demon possession and the need for exorcists. On the other hand, most progressive Christians think of demon possession as mental illness or some other type of affliction. Jesus was able to provide some kind of psycho-somatic cure.

I find myself mostly in the progressive camp. I have thought that stories in the Bible regarding demon possession reflect an ancient way of speaking about psychological afflictions that we modern folks describe in scientific as opposed to spiritual ways.

Then I read Walter Wink. Walter Wink, who died in 2012, was a biblical scholar and a peace activist. He wrote a series of three books on “the Powers” and demons and unclean spirits, all the weird stuff of the Bible. He showed me that reducing stories and concepts of spiritual powers to modern categories that might be more manageable and believable missed the message of these stories. There is more being said in these stories than what modern psychology can answer.

Wink said that while this is ancient pre-modern language, and we don’t need to believe that there are actual demons and unclean spirits bouncing around the world, hopping in and out of people’s psyches, nonetheless, these spirits represent something very real in both ancient times and in our time. It is more than ancient superstition. It is more than mental illness.

Walter Wink wrote about this in terms of institutions. Institutions have a spirituality. They have a soul. All institutions from schools to churches to corporations to nations have a spirituality. This is a good thing. These institutions are created to do their jobs and the soul or spirit is that driving animating force that guides the institution in its work.

However, these animating spiritual powers are also fallen. They can succumb through greed and envy to change course. Rather than serve the larger good that they have been created to serve, they become demonic. They become unclean and these institutions begin to serve themselves or they serve the interests of those who have “possessed” the institution. These powers need to be named, unmasked, and engaged.

The titles of Walter Wink’s trilogy of books on this topic are respectively, Unmasking the Powers, Naming the Powers, and Engaging the Powers.

The church’s task, its mission, is to do this work of spiritual discernment. That is to unmask, name, and engage these spiritual dimensions of our institutions. This is not easy work. It is not without danger. One of the principles of our Presbyterian denomination is for the church to undertake its mission even at the risk of losing its life. We discussed that at our session retreat.

Jesus did not get in trouble because he cured people of mental illness. He got in trouble because he named, unmasked, and engaged the spiritual powers of institutions that had become demonic, namely, the Roman Imperial State and the Jewish Temple. The goal of this work, of the work of Jesus, and the church that he summoned, is not to destroy the institutions but to set them aright. This is the work of the Holy Spirit or God.

All of the New Testament including the Gospels, can be read as this contest of powers, the powers of institutions, Rome and the Temple, for the most part, and the power of Jesus who was sent by God the Father to save the institutions and the people they are created to serve and to announce the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is what the world looks like when the spiritual powers of institutions are doing their work according to their created purpose.

The story of the Gerasene demoniac, which is the lectionary text for today, is a case study in the type of exorcism that Jesus practiced. This is a parable. It would be hard to imagine this happening in any literal sense. Luke is showing us a parable of the work Jesus did. He is through parable showing us the meaning of the contest of powers between Jesus and the demon.

Jesus and his entourage go to the land of the Gerasenes. They are confronted by this guy who is possessed by a demon. It is intense. He is naked. He is bound by chains that he breaks. He lives in the tombs. The demon recognizes Jesus. It does not want to leave. The demon has a name, Legion. What is legion? According to Miriam-Webster, a legion is “the principal unit of the Roman army comprising 3000 to 6000 foot soldiers with cavalry.”

The country of the Gerasenes much like Galilee and all of the area is occupied territory. The demon Legion represents the occupying force. Legion, the demon, tells Jesus not to cast it into the abyss, into the Pit, nothingness, but to a herd of swine, unclean animals, yes, but also the livelihood of the people of the Gerasenes. Legion, the demon, before disappearing to where ever, drowns all these pigs. That raises the attention of the people, who come to check it out and are afraid. They ask Jesus to leave because of their fear.

This is a parable. You have an occupying force. Roman soldiers occupy the country of the Gerasenes. Who eats pork? Not Jews. The soldiers do. So you have an economy of swineherders who derive their income from servicing the occupying forces. It isn’t good. The unrest of this situation is represented in the guy who is naked in the tombs, good as dead. There is no controlling this Legion. They try to bind him, they try to make peace with this thing, but he breaks the chains.

Jesus comes. Fixes the problem. But destroys their economy. Jesus, it is time for you to go now. This is scary. What will Rome do to us now? What will we do now? Rome is an occupying force but it is all we know. We would rather have Legion than you, Jesus.

At the end, we have the man, clothed and in his right mind, no longer living among the tombs, but now he is a witness. He is telling about Jesus and the work Jesus has done. We don’t know what will happen. Will people hear this witness or will they prefer Legion because they are afraid? That is the question to us.

This parable, as all parables, are open-ended. What do you think? What will you do?

Here are a few questions:

Why are these people afraid of Jesus?
Why is liberation scarier than oppression?
What will it take for them to let go of their fear?
What will it take to let go of Legion?

Dare we ask these questions in our own time.

We know what President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people in 1961 about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. He said:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

That was Eisenhower in 1961.

By any measure, what we have today in terms of the military-industrial-finance-intelligence-media complex is Legion multiplied by orders of magnitude. Just this past week, we barely avoided a war with Iran. Iran is not the enemy of the United States. Iran is the enemy of Israel, maybe, and that is only because Iran supports the just cause of the Palestinians. Iran has nothing to do with America. America needs to end the sanctions against Iran and the suffering it has inflicted upon those people through these sanctions.

Iran is not attacking America. There is no fight. Americans would have had to have been tricked into a war with Iran. Just like we have been tricked into every war. To back that statement up, I refer you to theologian David Ray Griffin and his book, The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic?

So why is it that we have to be tricked? Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian, suggests that Americans have to be tricked because Americans are basically good people. We don’t want wars. So we have to be deceived every time into supporting them. “They”, that is the demon, of the military-industrial-finance-intelligence-media complex only has to convince the American people that the American military-industrial institution is exceptionally good and that the latest war escapade will save other people from bad dictators or whatever. Through the power of propaganda this scheme works again and again. Caitlin Johnstone says that Americans are the most propagandized group of people on the planet. Billions and billions are spent on corporate media all along the left-right spectrum to support the war machine.

To use Walter Wink’s analysis of the powers and the spirituality of institutions, he might say that America has a demon. Our nation has become possessed by Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex that is now more powerful than congress and the presidency. Our trajectory is endless war and the manufacture and sale of the implements of war. It has nothing to do with whether individual soldiers are good or bad or Americans are good or bad, it is about the spirituality, the soul of our nation. The Powers, Wink would say, and he did say it about America, are fallen and no longer serve the purpose for which they were created.

It is the task of the church, even to the extent of losing its own life, to unmask, name, and engage these powers, so that the Holy Spirit might redeem them and redirect them to their divine mission. It is good to have a military. The military exists to protect a nation’s borders from real enemies, not manufactured enemies. The military does not exist to invade other countries under false pretenses.

But we are scared. How can this preacher say this? He is speaking against the red, white and blue! No I am not. I am speaking against the demon that has possessed our nation. We need to cast it out. That is the mission of the church. That is the activism of the church.

That is what Jesus was doing. That is what his followers were doing. That is what got him killed. That is what got his followers killed. But God raised him from the dead and in that ongoing resurrection, God awakens all of us to wipe the film from our eyes and see what is real. We are called to discern the difference between the divine and the demonic and unmask, name, and engage these demonic powers. It is the church’s business.

I will suggest that it was because of the alternative media, people who have been working to unmask, name, and engage the demonic spirituality of the war machine, that the false flag against the Japanese tanker was named as such. Iran didn’t do it despite what the White House said. It was a false flag. It was because people pointed it out and did not just believe the propaganda fed to and through the corporate media that we might have been saved at least for a day from another war.

My point is that unmasking, naming, and engaging the demonic is not an impossible task.
But it is a courageous task.
It is the church’s task.
May we embrace it.

Amen.

Massimo Mazzucco and American Moon

Film-Maker Massimo Mazzucco Analyzes the Moon Landings in his Film “American Moon”

As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 approaches, the nagging question remains: Did it really happen? Were the images seen by hundreds of millions on live television actually from the moon or from a NASA simulator? Italian film-maker, Massimo Mazzucco, in one of the most comprehensive films yet about the moon landings, explores all sides of the controversy.  His 2017 film, American Moon looks at the best evidence both for and against the moon landings. Plus the film analyzes for the first time ever the Apollo pictures in detail with commentary from some of the top photographers in the world.  You decide. Was the Apollo Project “the biggest achievement in the history of mankind, or the biggest fakery of all times?”

The film is available on Amazon or to rent or buy on Vimeo.  Watch the trailer here

Host John Shuck speaks live with Massimo Mazzucco about his film and takes your calls.

In addition to American Moon, Massimo Mazzucco has produced the following films (from Wikipedia):

  • The New American Century: a view of America’s historical, philosophical, economical and political background.
  • The Other Dallas – 2008: A documentary on the RFK assassination, also broadcast by Italian TV, that claims the man convicted for the crime — one Sirhan Bishara Sirhan — could not have physically killed the US senator.
  • The Lords of the World – 2009: The UFO history and the military persistent interference, both American and Russian, in what seems to be a much larger issue than one would normally believe.
  • Cancer: The Forbidden Cures – 2010: All the successful cures against cancer discovered in the last 100 years, and claims that they were suppressed.
  • The True History of Marijuana – 2011: The True History of Marijuana’ digs deep to expose a world-wide conspiracy, led by the petrochemical industry, that has outlawed one of the most useful plants known to mankind.
  • September 11 – The New Pearl Harbor – 2013: A 5-hour documentary that claims to rebut of the commonly accepted account of 911 and shows the resulting analysis by The National Institute of Standards and Technology, (NIST), to be deeply and fundamentally flawed.

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