MLK Day Quotes

9 MLK Quotes the Mainstream Media Won’t Cite

Kali Holloway [1] / AlterNet [2]

April 29, 2015

The Martin Luther King Jr. who is cynically trotted out every time racial unrest erupts in our cities is the MLK who can be conveniently used to prop up the status quo. He is MLK reduced to “I Have A Dream,” used in conservative political ads [3] to scare-monger about invading, job-stealing Mexican immigrants. He is the almost wholly fabricated MLK whom the modern GOP claims would today be one of their own [4], presumably standing alongside them as they vote against the poor, people of color and women of every race at every opportunity.

In reality, those examples rely on half-truths and half-reveals of who MLK truly was. In real, big-picture life, MLK was far more radical than the cherry-picked lines from his speeches and books would suggest, a man who moved further left over the course of his long and weary fight for African-American civil rights. By 1966, MLK had become an outspoken opponent of “liberal” white complicity in white supremacy, of American imperialism and warmongering, of the capitalist system itself. Modern right-wingers’ use of quotes from MLK (here are a few examples [5]) to twist and misuse his words in ways that belie much of what he ultimately came to stand for.

The next time you see MLK corrupted and misused as a tool of capitalism, racism, unchecked white supremacy, and war, recall that MLK said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Here are several more examples of MLK’s most radical statements.

1. “Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains? The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”

—  Where Do We Go From Here1967 [6]

2. “I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

—  60 Minutes Interview, 1966 [7]

3. “But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

—  “The Other America,” 1968 [8]

4. “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

—  “Revolution of Values,” 1967 [9]

5. “Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”

—  “The Three Evils of Society,” 1967 [10]

6. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

—“Beyond Vietnam,” 1967 [11]

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.”

— Where Do We Go From Here1967 [6]

7. “The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”

— “The Three Evils of Society,” 1967 [10]

8. “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and the evils of racism.”

— Southern Christian Leadership Conference speech, 1967 [12]

9. “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

— Letter From a Birmingham Jail1963 [13]

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

 

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/riot-language-unheard-9-mlk-quotes-mainstream-media-wont-cite

Links:

[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/kali-holloway
[2] http://alternet.org
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26QvdmrfnCE
[4] http://www.newsmax.com/US/martin-luther-king-republican/2013/09/01/id/523296/
[5] http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/the-right-has-a-dream/
[6] https://books.google.com/books?id=ka4TcURYXy4C&pg=PT24&lpg=PT24&dq=The+majority+of+white+Americans+consider+themselves+sincerely+committed+to+justice+for+the+Negro.&source=bl&ots=2gq-sz45O9&sig=7Q4p5qhAzPvUqNyRzJRvFDdxIJE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jvBAVdSlO7eBsQTpg4F4&ved=0CDMQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=The%20majority%20of%20white%20Americans%20consider%20themselves%20sincerely%20committed%20to%20justice%20for%20the%20Negro.&f=false
[7] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mlk-a-riot-is-the-language-of-the-unheard/
[8] http://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/
[9] http://zinnedproject.org/2013/04/martin-luther-king-jr-delivers-revolution-of-values-speech-1967/
[10] http://www.scribd.com/doc/134362247/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-The-Three-Evils-of-Society-1967#scribd
[11] http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/MLKapr67.html
[12] https://books.google.com/books?id=HWqjxBEPPlEC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&dq=The+evils+of+capitalism+are+as+real+as+the+evils+of+militarism+and+evils+of+racism&source=bl&ots=HR3bZGU4EY&sig=GnvYDrnaLkIor5WkZQsTpY-1akM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jPxAVey9MsbdsATJ54CgAQ&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=The%20evils%20of%20capitalism%20are%20as%20real%20as%20the%20evils%20of%20militarism%20and%20evils%20of%20racism&f=false
[13] http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

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Joe, Ardeth and Carol were able to participate in the recent Holy Innocents witness at the Pentagon. Joe helped out with the singing, while Ardeth and Carol got themselves arrested for the sake of peace, and for the children who are so often the victims of war. This year’s witness was a special commemoration of Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, who died this past April 30. There were many bigger-than-life-size Dan Berrigan cut-outs carried to the Pentagon. Quite of few of them got arrested!

Photos care of Lin Romano.

Here Ardeth and Carol, and others, have taken the hill overlooking the Metro entrance to the Pentagon. It’s 7am – dawn on December 28.

 

The sisterhood of protesters are cuffed and wait to be taken away.

From behind you can see Ardeth and Carol waiting to be loaded onto the police van.

Here are folks in the supposed free speech pen, including some friends visiting from South Korea.

Madonna and child (and “Uncle” Dan) at the Pentagon.

Here is a poster showing the famous picture from the witness of Dan and Phil Berrigan as part of the Catonsville 9 in 1968.


Those not arrested leave the Pentagon. Joe holds the speaker and helps lead song.

 

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Note: This message on nonviolence by Pope Francis was issued on New Year’s Day, the World Day of Peace. Sr. Carol shared it with us at our Sunday liturgy on New Year’s Day. Now we share it with you.

 

Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. [2] In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’comes from God”.[4] He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.[9] In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.[11]
The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.[12] I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.[19]

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected.[21] Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.[22]

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016

Franciscus

Citations

[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.
[3] “The Legend of the Three Companions”, Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.
[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.
[8] Meditation, “The Road of Peace”, Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, 19 November 2015.
[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.
[10] No. 23.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.
[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.
[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.
[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.
[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.
[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.
[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.
[19] Encyclical Laudato Si’, 230.
[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.
[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 16, 117, 138.
[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.
[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.
[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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The Danger

On January 20, the military officer carrying the nuclear codes who follows the President everywhere, will follow Barack Obama to the inaugural platform. When he leaves, the officer will start following President Donald J. Trump. From that moment on, Trump will have the unfettered ability to launch one or one thousand nuclear warheads whenever he pleases. Four minutes after he gives the order, the missiles will fly. No one can stop him, short of a full-scale mutiny. Once launched, the missiles cannot be recalled.

Almost 1,000 nuclear warheads, each many times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, are kept on missiles ready to launch in minutes. This is called high alert, or launch-on-warning, or, more commonly, hair-trigger alert.

It is a relic of the Cold War. Nuclear commanders wanted the ability to launch their land-based missiles before an enemy attack could destroy them. For years, experts have warned that this was a dangerous practice, subject to false alarms, mistakes, misunderstanding and human error. And it is not necessary. The weapons in our alert subs and bombers are not vulnerable to surprise attack. We have more than enough weapons to deter an attack or respond to one.

While running for the presidency in 2008, Obama said:

“Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation. I believe that we must address this dangerous situation — something that President Bush promised to do when he campaigned for president back in 2000, but did not do once in office.”

Obama didn’t do it, either. Many of the very people he appointed to implement his reforms sided with the nuclear bureaucracy to stop him. The State Department posted a condescending explanation about why we need to be able to destroy the world within 4 minutes, assuring us that this was safe and reasonable. Rereading the post now, one can see the how much of the argument rests on supreme confidence in the judgment of the president of the United States.

Few people have that confidence now. Obama has thirty days to fix his mistake. Thirty days to prevent the worst disaster imaginable.

The Solution

Yes, this will be hard. Yes, much of the defense bureaucracy will argue against him. Yes, Obama has said he doesn’t want to “box in” his successor.

Yet, the press reports that in the last few days:

“Obama has used his final weeks in office to press for new rules on coal mining pollution, offshore drilling and the venting of planet-warming methane — all of which are likely to be challenged or repealed by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.”

If the president can do this for parts of the environment, he can take this one simple step to safeguard the entire planet.

Scores of leading nuclear scientists wrote to the President asking him to take nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert. You can now add your voice.

Ploughshares Fund has started a public petition to President Obama. Join us.

Tell the president to end this obsolete policy. President Trump could still launch nuclear weapons in an emergency, but it would take hours or days. This gives time for consultations, consideration, time to check mistakes and blunt the impulses of the moment. More time doesn’t weaken our national security; it strengthens it.

Please sign the petition now. It says:

“Now more than ever, we call on you to ensure calmer heads prevail. Taking this critical step would bring profound security benefits for all Americans by reducing the risk of nuclear disaster.”

Urge the President to lock the nuclear door before he leaves.

https://www.change.org/p/president-obama-keep-trump-s-finger-off-the-button-nucleartrump

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By Lin Romano

(Sources include the Sunday Website of St. Louis University, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and others not cited.)

Let’s listen to the first two readings from Malachi and the Psalms.

Reading 1: Malachi 3:19-20a

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the God of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9

Response: God comes to rule the earth with justice

Sing praise to the Almighty with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the Creator, our God.

Response

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.

Response

Before the Almighty, for God comes,
for God comes to rule the earth,
God will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
Take a couple of minutes of silence to think about what stood out for you in the readings. Not a word, but a theme. Write it down and hold onto it.

I found in these readings the overriding theme of hope, which I find in short supply since Tuesday. Perhaps for the first time, I appreciate the retributive language that I generally abhor. All the proud and evildoers will be stubble–wonderful! And they will be set on fire, with none left to take their place–marvelous! And yet, and yet . . . . There is the Gospel still to consider, still the word of calm amidst all. While all the signs of devastation of the world surround us, we are to remain sure in faith, steadfast amidst persecution, sure of tongue and wise beyond knowledge.

Let’s hear that reading…

Gospel Luke 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”

He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Now, make a note if you would change what you wrote, if you see those first readings differently in light of the Gospel. Let’s do a brief go-around to share our first thoughts and any modifications.

I skipped today’s reading from 2 Thessalonians, not because I have always found it annoying (which I have) but because it adds little to the apocalyptic literature that is this Gospel. If you didn’t read ahead, the reading from Thessalonians includes the “if you don’t work you shouldn’t eat” admonition. The fact that members of the early church had stopped working actually related to their belief that the day of the Lord had come and the “curse” of work (Genesis 3) had been lifted. Yippee! They were all but in heaven. The world as we know it was coming to an end. Can you feel the mood in Thessalonica? What the heck, why not just eat, drink and be merry, for the day is at hand! Why go to work?

Please excuse another aside, but I have felt like that at times this week. Minus the merriment. It’s been hard to get out of bed and face the days ahead. It’s hard to acknowledge that the world still need not come to an end, if only we can pedal faster, organize, resist, educate, meditate, believe. (Yet has anyone else wanted to cry out “Redo!” or remain tucked under a blanket?)

Okay, so I’ll dispense with that reading now, and wander back to Luke. More predictions of the end times come first, with Jesus describing the destruction of the temple (a charge later brought against him at trial), explaining that false prophets would appear, and calling for calm during all of the horrible times ahead. While many of these predictions may have come true in the first century AD, it seems that generation after generation can recognize a piece of the end times approaching. We are no different.

Remember the year 2000? The apocalypse was imminent! Not only would digital time stop, but the world as we knew it would end, with power going out globally and missiles being launched uncontrollably. People moved to bunkers in the Midwest, and others sat vigil in prayerful hope of a painless end. Movies and books hyped it all, and ultimately, it was business as usual. Money was made and people were duped. The wheel keeps spinning.

So when Jesus warned of the days ahead, and gave signs to look for, was he talking to everyone in all times or truly predicting the end of the world? His word already has come to be, again and again, yet here we breathe, here we sit, here we read the words again and look to the future. Let’s see: Wars – check! Temples destroyed – check! False prophets! Insurrections, earthquakes, famines, plagues – sadly, very sadly, all checks.

Some say that our years are but a blink of God’s eyes, so if one waits for a literal end of the world based on these signs it could be untold numbers of lifetimes in the coming. But let’s consider another way of looking at this. Could Jesus have been merely giving a worst-case scenario to those following him, so that they would not lose heart when the inevitable occurred? It would help them to remain strong when they were persecuted for their beliefs (imagine the comfort of this when being attacked by hungry lions in a crowded stadium). It would offer some solace when their own families turned on them, giving assurance that their perseverance would net them eternal life.

Remember that when these words were written, probably around 80 or 85 AD, the city and the temple of Jerusalem were already destroyed, and the Acts of the Apostles already written, detailing the difficulties of Jesus’ believers after his death. So were these even predictions, or words attributed to him by a firm believer to increase his stature? Some argue that Mediterranean culture of the time was not so forward-looking. They asked for DAILY bread, as they were primarily present-oriented. Predictions of events in a faraway future to come would not resonate with them. Rather, when Luke’s Jesus later states, “Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place,” it was seen as a present-day statement of the generation contemporary with his ministry. Since the events have come true, Jesus is judged reliable. Those feeling the heat for their beliefs are encouraged by this, assured that standing firm in the face of persecutions would lead to salvation.

Now, let’s circle back to the first two readings.

First, I want to address the predicted violence. I think–I hope–we all will agree that God is non-violent. God does not prescribe violence, and violence should never be rationalized in God’s name. So what about the violence in this scripture and so many others that is attributed to God, or to God’s direct orders?

Didn’t God wipe out the human race, saving only Noah and his family? Didn’t God ask Abraham to kill Isaac, and also plan to destroy Israel before Moses talked him out of it? Didn’t “God’s Law”–Mosaic law, prescribe stoning women to death for adultery? What about the wars fought in God’s name, and even the extremists in Islam today, killing thousands in God’s name? Doesn’t God state that wars and insurrections MUST happen first, before the “day of the Lord” arrives? How do we explain all of this, if we believe in the sacred texts?

Of course I reject any notion that God reacts with, orders, or approves of violence. I see the writers of the texts as taking their own thoughts and feelings and projecting them onto God. We get angry–God doesn’t. We crave vengeance, not God. If we read all of the scriptures literally we turn God into a tribal God, a God opposed to peace. Many of the texts cannot be taken literally–the violence and killing are metaphorical.

So when we are told that we will experience God’s wrath, when we read today that the proud and evildoers will be stubble and that they will be set on fire, we have to understand that God will not have this “sun of justice” arise with its healing rays by first extracting a “pound of flesh for a pound of sin.”  (Ron Rolheiser) Walter Bruggeman once commented that “God is in recovery from all the violence that has been attributed to him and done in his name.”

In fact, even the idea of the last judgment as a dire expectation of doom, does not fit in with a God of healing, as God of justice. I do not look forward with joy for a day that slaughters those who erred, but rather to a day when all will ACT justly, LIVE love, and BE peace.

Let’s try this perspective: All of the catastrophes (think climate-change related), wars, insurrections, etc. are NOT signs of the end times, but of how far we are FROM the end. We have not yet succeeded in bringing about justice. There’s an African proverb that says, “When you pray, move your feet;” perhaps we are not moving enough, marching enough, entering the halls of power and military bases enough, and teaching enough to establish God’s kin-dom.  When goodness and justice reign we will have entered the end times of the world. And there is nothing to fear about that end.

At Jonah House, we are well-acquainted with people who have walked into situations where they risked persecution at best, and death as a real possibility. Despite sufferings in and out of jails and prisons, their resolves remain firm, their voices speaking truth to power strong, their love of and faith in God firm, and their spirits full of joy and hope. Yes, there is much legal preparation in a trial after an action for justice, but it is the spirit of God that flows through, that offers words to speak in a courtroom and public forums, that provides the “defense” and the potential for conversion of hearts. We just have to keep moving our feet.

So now I suggest that we focus on questions that will have increasingly more meaning as we move forward under a Trump administration and a Republican Congress:

  1. How have you felt sustained by a power greater than yourself during a time of justice-seeking or truth-telling?
  1. How do you see yourself/our communities bringing about the “end times” of justice and peace?

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Humanure 2016

Joe Byrne helped the tree planting effort by harvesting some humanure. If you’ve never seen that term before, it refers to human manure, usually from a composting toilet.

This is humanure that sat untouched for a year.

The humanure was shoveled into the holes where the trees were being planted. Regular compost was also added.

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Here’s the humanure before it was harvested.

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Here Joe is scooping out the humanure and putting it in bags. In case you’re wondering: the humanure was dry as dust and gave off a woody (not a poopy) smell.

humanure03

Here are a couple of the bags of humanure ready to be transported to the tree planting site.

 

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Tree Planting

Shortly after we split our wood for winter, we put in some trees in the back portion of the cemetery, which we’ve decided to re-forest (we now call that section Jetta Grove, a place where the Buddha liked to meditate).

The trees were donated by Baltimore Green Space.

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Here are some of the trees that we planted. There are a couple magnolia, and fir trees in the picture.

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Tucker dug most of the holes ahead of time. This is one of about 25 holes.

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Our good friend Booch also dug some holes, for the fir trees that now line the north fence.

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Here Maia, Amy, and Dean work together to plant one of the trees.

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Winter is coming! So it’s a good thing we got all our wood split. We rented a wood splitter a few weeks back and spent the good part of a couple days splitting the wood we had on hand.

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Joe had the first shift, with help from Dan Parr, Emily’s brother, who was in Baltimore for a visit.

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Ardeth took the second shift, with Dan continuing as head assistant. Tucker is in the background deciding which logs to bring out.

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Tucker also spent a good bit of time stacking the split wood.

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Here’s the the wood pile after we finished splitting. You might not be able to see it: there’s a row in back, all the way to the top, one in front of that one about three quarters to the top, and a short row in front.

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Note: The following is a letter/email sent out in September by the emeritus members of Jonah House, who are Liz McAlister, Ardeth Platte, and Carol Gilbert. Liz has since moved to New York City (contact information below). She is dearly missed in Baltimore but continues her wonderful work for peace in the Big Apple.

September, 2016

Dear friends and family,

For the past five years, we, the elders at Jonah House, have been in the process of turning over the Jonah House Community and St. Peter’s Cemetery maintenance to the younger generation. As we continue this transition, we have begun, once again, to feel the freedom to re-enter more fully into the ministry of peacemaking.

The new core community at Jonah House – Emily Parr, Tucker Brown, and Joe Byrne – were attracted to our charism. They had participated in the life of Jonah House over the years, and responded to the call to come. They are forming community here! They are embracing this space with all the creativity that comes out of their lives and experience.

We find them respectful of the history and witness of Jonah House at the same time as they embrace the challenge to put their own stamp on it and to recruit new members. Check out the reactivated website – www.jonahhouse.org. We experience them and their commitment as strong, deeply rooted in the Spirit, and open to the participation of a wide circle of family and friends. Also, the children (Auggie and Evie) bring wonder and amazement! Our yearnings for new community are gratefully fulfilled in them and in their process. What a blessing!

As we transition we want you to know that we have closed the Jonah House account so checks may no longer be made out to it.

Also, we provide you with the most current contact information:

Emily, Tucker, and Joe:

Jonah House, 1301 Moreland Av, Baltimore MD 21216
Phone: 410-233-6238
email: engage@jonahhouse.org

Donations for programs should be made out to St. Peter’s Cemetery Restoration Fund.

Carol Gilbert, OP and Ardeth Platte, OP:

1303 Moreland Av, Baltimore MD 21216
Phone: 410-908-4635
email: disarmnow@verizon.net

Elizabeth McAlister:
Benincasa
133 W. 70th St, New York, NY 10023
Phone: 443-804-6938
e-mail: lizmcalister39@gmail.com

(After 43 years working to build the Jonah House vision, Liz feels the call and need to leave and to embrace whatever the Spirit is opening…)

It is a new moment, a new day and we give gratitude to God. We say “Presente” to all who lived and served here but have now left this life. We continue to celebrate their resurrection. We are profoundly grateful to the builders, work crews, residents, donors, caretakers, counselors, visitors, etc. who gave for us to be able to continue this St. Peter’s Cemetery oasis and our own peacemaking lives. We express deeper gratitude to the new community in the transformation being lived, as they carry Jonah House, the International Peace House/Community, into the future.

All of you remain in our hearts and prayers,

Liz, Carol, and Ardeth

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When the Turks exterminated millions of Armenians…

Where were you, God?

When millions perished needlessly in World War I…

Where were you, God?

When Stalin killed millions of his own people…

Where were you, God?

When the Nazis murdered six million Jews during the Holocaust…

Where were you, God?

When the Japanese slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese in Nanking…

Where were you, God?

When Dresden was firebombed during World War II…

Where were you, God?

When the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

Where were you, God?

When the U.S. destroyed Vietnam in order to save it, killing millions in the process…

Where were you, God?

When millions were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the killing field…

Where were you, God?

When deaths squads killed tens of thousands in Indonesia…

Where were you, God?

When fanatical Chinese communists killed tens of thousands during the Cultural Revolution…

Where were you God?

When death squads disappeared tens of thousands in Central and South America…

Where were you, God?

When Hutus went on a genocidal rampage against the Tutsis in Rwanda…

Where were you, God?

When thousands of gay men were dying of AIDS and the government refused to do anything…

Where were you, God?

When the U.S. and its allies killed hundreds of thousands through sanctions and occupation in Iraq…

Where were you, God?

When Catholic priests sexually abused thousands of children…

Where were you, God?

When Syria slid into a vicious civil war…

Where were you, God?

When humans built an industrial civilization that poisoned the planet with carbon emissions…

Where were you, God?

* * *

When the world needs compassion…

We are your heart, God

When crimes need to be witness and revealed…

We are your eyes, God

When truth needs to speak to power…

We are your mouth, God

When injustice needs to be confronted…

We are your conscience, God

When the lost need to be gathered and embraced…

We are your arms, God

When those who are suffering need relief…

We are your hands, God

On the long road to peace and justice…

We are your feet, God

***

By Joe Byrne

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