In an inexplicable bit of terrorist logic, the Taliban attacked a school in Northwest Pakistan yesterday.
Mohammed Khurrassani, a Taliban spokesman, said the murders of these children were in retaliation for Pakistani Army operations which they claim have killed hundreds of Pakistani tribesman.
The Taliban attackers murdered an estimated 132 people, most of them children, and wounded another 122. They made students watch as they burned a teacher alive. It is reported that they beheaded some of the children.
The thinking that goes into specifically attacking a school and slaughtering children as a political statement is beyond me. This sort of thing seems to be happening more and more. In 2004, Islamic militants attacked a school in Beslan Russia and killed 385 people, most of them children.
Boko Haram has made something of a career out of attacking schools and churches. On February 25 of this year, they attacked a Christian boys’ boarding school, killing 29 students. Later in the year, they attacked a girls’ school, kidnapping 200 girls. These girls were forcibly converted to Islam and, according to Boko Haram, then “married,” which I believe means used to concubines, by their fighters. A truce in which the girls were supposed to be returned never happened. In July, they attacked another school, killing 42 people, most of whom were students. Then, on November 10, Boko Haram attacked yet another school, killing 47 and wounding 79.
We’ve been hearing for years about the big, brave men who throw acid in school girl’s faces. And now it seems the world is going to be treated to an increasing number of attacks on schools and school children.
This is organized barbarity. It is also cowardice. I don’t know what they teach people in the Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram, but real men don’t murder, kidnap, rape school children.
Photo source: Reuters, via Vatican Radio
We call it “modern slavery.”
“It” is the business of buying and selling people.
Pope Francis hosted a group of religious leaders from many faiths who signed a pledge against modern slavery. Signatories included representatives from the Shai and Sunni Muslims, Buddhism, Orthodox, Jewish and Anglican faith traditions.
I once did something similar to this. I hosted a luncheon for Oklahoma’s faith leaders, including many Protestant denominations, Orthodox, Catholic, Buddhist, and Muslim.
I think that something like this could really change things, but it takes going forward. One event, one signing or one document, won’t do it.
I am proud of Pope Francis for taking this first great step and for uniting the leaders of these faiths in this call for an end to human trafficking It is the essential first step to this change.
From Vatican Radio;
(Vatican Radio) An unprecedented gathering of religious leaders from all corners of the globe took place in the Vatican on Tuesday for the signing of a joint declaration against modern slavery. Pope Francis joined Anglican, Orthodox, Jewish, Shia and Sunni Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist representatives in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, together with two young trafficking victims from Mexico and Ghana. Philippa Hitchen reports…..
No-one knows the exact number of men and women, boys and girls who are trafficked into prostitution, forced labour or the trade in human body parts. Some estimates put the figure as high as 35 million, but as one participant pointed out, it’s not the numbers that matter as much as the fact that every single one of those people could be your brother or sister, my son or daughter.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby first met Pope Francis in 2013, they identified the scourge of human trafficking as one of the most urgent priorities for both of their Churches today. Less than a year later, the ecumenical Global Freedom Network was set up to try and harness the commitment of believers around the world for practical action to eradicate this modern slavery by the year 2020.
This gathering of religious leaders in the Vatican today represents around 90 percent of the world’s population and the declaration they signed commits their communities to working together for the freedom of all people and an end to this lucrative trade in human life. In his words to the group, Pope Francis called it an absurd evil and a crime against humanity….
Nobody knows but me.
That is the lament of victims of discrimination and violence throughout time.
They are trapped in the unimaginable alone experienced by people who fall into the hands of human monsters. It is impossible to describe the depth of terror, horror, pain and absolute, total and complete isolation that is part of the shock of being helpless in the hands of satan’s disciples on this earth.
The survivors can’t tell of it, not really. Because if they try, there are no words. Because if they try, they find that they are speaking to blank walls of incomprehension and denial.
The rest of us don’t want to hear these stories because they remind us of our own deep helplessness. People who have never looked into the pitiless eyes of satan in another person’s face and known that they were his to do with as he chose, do not want to consider that the only thing separating them from a similar fate is geography or chance.
There is nothing special about American Christians that we have not been subjected to the violence that attacks other Christians around the world. We are not more faithful. We are not more holy. Quite the opposite.
The difference between them and us is a matter of government. It is not innate in ourselves. The tightening noose of social discrimination that Christians face here either is a harbinger of worse to come or not, and that, whether we want to accept it or not, does depend on us.
We can choose to fight back and not go there. We can boycott the products of media outlets that defame us. We can speak out about our faith and defend ourselves.
Christians who live in places where killing Christians is always a question and not an anathema, live their lives under a genocidal Sword of Damocles.
We can not turn our backs on them and their stories of great suffering because it upsets us to be reminded that satan walks the earth in human form. We must not avoid them for fear that satan will come at us through the rage we feel over their suffering, that standing witness for them can open a doorway to satan in our own hearts.
People are suffering and dying for Christ, and it is our vocation in these times to stand witness.
Christians in the Middle East and in much of Africa are suffering their own Shoah. They are being annihilated and driven from their homes. They are being kidnapped, raped and sold into slavery.
The satanic barbarity of ISIS, Boko Haram, the Islamic Brotherhood and al-Qaeda are a testament to what giving your heart to satan and following him can turn people into. These men who do these things are fallen, fallen, fallen. They are satan’s disciples.
They are fallen, but the Christians they murder are lifted up. They are martyrs to Our Lord in the same way that Christians have been martyred for Jesus throughout our history. They are His saints. Every Christian that ISIS and Boko Haram murders goes to heaven. And each one of their murderers — unless they face the horrible reality of what they have done and repent from the heart — is destined for the flames of eternal hell. They will burn there alongside Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Stalin, Osama bin Laden and all their followers.
No matter how they lie to themselves, these things they do are not of God. They are from the pit.
Our job, dear brothers and sisters, is to stand witness to our fallen brothers and sisters in Christ. We must tell their stories. We must lift them and their sacrifice up because they are being lifted up in the exact way that Our Lord was and for the same reason, so that the world can see them and be healed by turning to Him.
We need healing desperately in this world, and that healing we need can only come from one place: The Cross.
When we witness the violent persecution of Christians, we are seeing a re-enactment of Calvary in our world right in front of our eyes, today. Every Christian who suffers and dies at the hands of these satanic human monsters is Christ crucified again in real time in front of our eyes.
Can you wait with me one hour? Jesus asked Peter, James and John.
Will you run away from me again? He asks us. Will you shout crucify Him! as they did? Or, will you just walk away and hide your faces because bearing witness hurts too much?
We must stand witness to these our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and dying for Him. We must. It is our charge, our call and duty. It is our vocation before God.
We must write about them and develop a literature for them as the Jews did for those who died in the Holocaust. Because this is another holocaust. It is the holocaust of Christians in an entire region of the world.
Satan’s lessor disciples; the ones who make fun of Christian persecution and who try to bully into silence those of us who must bear witness, are our small cross. Their carping bits of nastiness should be meaningless to us. Offer up whatever pangs you feel for those who have died and pray for those who do this, then keep on keeping on bearing witness to the truth of this martyrdom of a whole people for their faith in Christ.
It is painful and exhausting to stand witness to atrocity. But we must do it, and we must do it in the Lord.
Any lessor action would be running away from Him all over again.
Nuns Off a Bus. Sisters, arriving at the Benediction.
I don’t know what to say about the whole “black mass” deal.
They did their uggidy-buggidy thingamajig.
I didn’t get near it. And I’m not going to get near it now. If you want to read about the uggidy-buggidy black mass and the brain-dead fools who attended it, google is ready when you are. You’ll find none of that here.
I went to the Holy Hour and Bendiction conducted by Archbishop Coakley. I suppose I could begin writing about all this by telling you that, based on what I experienced, this was a real deal.
I had a hard time getting to the Holy Hour and Benediction. All day the day before I experienced the most dreadful spiritual crisis I have been through since I converted to the Catholic Church. My mind was deluged with negative thoughts, to the point that I began to wonder if I even was Catholic or had a right to enter any Church.
Then, at mass that evening, I prayed and prayed and it let up.
Later that night, I got hit with a sudden and rather violent gastrointestinal thing.
It was at that point that I finally recognized old scratch.
The next day, I thought about skipping the whole Benediction. I felt so terrible, and now I was tormented with thoughts that I might meet a particular person there who had hurt me in the past and who I dread ever seeing again.
I prayed, and knew that I needed to go.
I told a friend of mine that all this made me feel as if the devil thought that if Rebecca Hamilton showed up at this Benediction he would be cast back into hell. I told her that if other people were getting a dose of what I was getting, I feared that the church might be empty.
But, despite all this, I went.
And what I experienced was the Presence and Love of Christ.
There were a lot of young people wearing red t-shirts with Oklahoma on the front. The back read Sooner Born, Catholic Bred.
That’s a play on an Okie saying: I’m Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die, I’ll be Sooner dead.
The prayer service was, for me, an exorcism of sorts. I prayed more deeply than I have in many months, and during the praying I went down into the seamy side of my own soul and confessed sins I had walked into that service not knowing I was harboring. It was cleansing, renewing and deeply, deeply humbling in the most beautiful way possible.
I think the reason that the devil had such a good go at me before the Benediction was that he had his claws hooked into me already. Writing about ISIS, seeing the photos of what they’ve done to people, is a gateway for satan. That came on top the raw hurt and anger I have about a gay friend of mine who dumped our lifelong friendship (which was as close as family; he was my brother) and who then went out on the internet to attack me — all over gay marriage. Then, there was that person I mentioned, the one I was afraid I would encounter at the Benediction. I had allowed myself to become a seething pit of resentment because of them.
The first two, personal, things, made me an easy target. But ISIS, which is satanic through and through, raised it to an active rageful anger. ISIS, Boko Haram, and all their stepbrothers, are satanic. Their beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, buying and selling of women and children, church burnings and genocides are just as much a black mass as what happened in Oklahoma City yesterday. When they say they do these things in the name of God, they add unspeakable blasphemy on top of their unspeakable actions.
The difference is that, for all its crudity, satan takes off his mask in the black mass and comes out as himself. When he gets inside people and uses them as his instruments on a governmental scale, what you get is Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, ISIS, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda. I don’t know what you get when he comes out as himself as he did yesterday (except a carny sideshow conducted by a convicted rapist) but I do know that Christ is fully able to cast him down with a flick of the finger. I experienced that in a profound and deeply personal way yesterday.
I don’t know about the other people at the Benediction, but I needed what I got there. I barely managed to force myself to go, and what I experienced was a deeply cleansing encounter with Our Lord. It was, for me, a small and much-needed exorcism.
I was in the overflow in the church gymnasium. I got there an hour early, and the gym was already mostly full. I sat on a folding chair on what was then the back row. Later, they added more chairs behind me.
The Eucharistic Procession. I was near the back of the line.
I took bad photos with my iPhone and settled in. It wasn’t until the Benediction entered into its first time of private prayer that I plunged, head first, into a dialogue with Jesus. I found myself, my real self, in that time of prayer. I saw my sins, my need to forgive and how deeply God loves me. One thing that came to mind is so simple and powerful.
Before I went to the Benediction, I prayed and asked if, considering how really lousy I was feeling, I had to go. And He answered me.
Think about that.
God, the God who made the deep reaches of space and time and everything there is everywhere there is, stooped down and answered me. Who am I that God should notice my existence, much less engage in dialogue with me and answer my prayers?
He cares. He cares about us. He loves you and me and everyone else. Think about that, my brothers and sisters. Let it roll around in your mind and consider the magnitude of what it means to say, I prayed and He answered me.
He loves each and everyone of us. He enters into dialogue with us, despite our silly and limited little brains and our flawed and sinful souls. He loves us.
Let me say that again: He loves us.
By their fruits you shall know them.
Jesus said that. And it is true.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. St Paul told us that, and it is also true.
When I read that list, I know — know — how far I am from truly walking with the Lord. God offers me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I nibble at these things, like someone sampling a salad bar.
But I save a huge portion of my spiritual plate for resentments, angers, self-righteousness, fear, blame and shame.
The truth is, to the extent that we cling to and protect ourselves, we deny ourselves the free gifts of the spirit. We have to lay it all down on the altar and trust Him.
That doesn’t, never has, come easily for me. I am not a trusting person. If I ever was a trusting person, happenings in my life have knocked it out of me. It is as if someone somewhere decided to teach me one thing and then to reteach it over and again throughout my life: You can’t trust people.
People will turn on you on a dime. People will abandon you when you are in disgrace. People will betray your confidences, search out and display your shames and, when you need them most, deny they ever knew you.
Does that sound familiar? It should. I began that paragraph writing about my own life experiences, and ended it with the realization that I was also writing about the Passion of Our Lord.
He wants to love us.
Why, I do not know.
But He does. And He wants it so much that He became one of us and allowed us to treat Him the way we do one another. He allowed satan to gloat and howl with delight as He was humiliated, stripped, tortured and murdered.
If the degradations of humanity that take place at the hands of satan’s disciples in ISIS, Boko Haram and all the other haters of humanity that stalk our world are a black mass, then, they also are, despite their evil intentions, the reenactment of His Passion. The victims of ISIS are the ultimate Eucharist, in human form. When I am writing about the victims of ISIS, and all its evil twins, I am writing about Him, and His Passion.
Satan intended his little uggidy-buggidy carny show to harm Christ. He can’t get at God, so he tries to get at God through us. He can do that because God loves us.
I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed by the evils of our day, and the sadness of humans hurting one another in my private life, that I gave him purchase in my own soul.
If the black mass was meant as a way into our world for satan, it backfired, at least where I am concerned. I experienced a little exorcism at the Benediction yesterday. God brought me back, snug against His side once again.
For this I am both awestruck and grateful.
Archbishop Coakley, holding the Host aloft.
The story originally said 20 churches burned. Then, it was updated to 45 churches burned.
It’s an old story. Out of date. After all, it happened a year ago.
Which means, I suppose, that we should dust our hands of it and forget.
But it’s more than a year-old story. It’s part of an on-going, continuous pattern of blood violence that rises to a genocidal scale directed at Christians by various Muslim groups throughout a whole region of the world.
The question arises and keeps arising: Who is funding this? The Islamic Brotherhood, who participated in church burnings, kidnappings, forced conversions and murder of Christians in Egypt, is, so far as the people they murder, kidnap, rape, force from the homes, sell into slavery are concerned, the same as ISIS, is the same as Al Qaeda, is the same as Boko Haram, is the same as Hamas.
They may have all sorts of carefully defined definitions and distinctions among themselves, but they are all the same in their results. They slaughter innocents, and they destroy the societies in which they live.
Make no mistake about it: People who do this kind of thing enjoy doing it. If they kill all the Christians in that part of that world — and they very well might — then, they will kill someone else. In fact, they already kill other Muslims who do not fall within their narrow definitions of who has a right to life.
Let’s go back for a moment to the question I keep asking: Where are they getting their money? Armies run on money. Terrorism runs on money. They are probably making money from the spoils of war, including the buying and selling of abducted women and girls in the slave/human trafficking market. But someone is still supplying a lot of doh-re-me to be used to slaughter men, women and children and bring whole nations to the brink of a dark age. Who?
For now, I’m going to leave you with a few photos from that long time ago outrage of last year. Because these people deserve better from us than to be swept under the rug of political correctness and forgotten as if they had never lived.
The Civil War split the Southern side of my family.
My great-great grandfather was from the South, but fought on the side of the North. This sheared him from his family, his people, his past.
It, in a round-about way, is why I am an Okie today.
My family has others who fought in that war, Southerners who fought for the North. My grandfather’s father was a drummer boy. My family tends to have children late, which is why the generations are so short. That drummer boy great grandfather lived to be 101.
My husband’s family was also deep in it. They saluted the Stars and Bars. We sometimes joke that it took over 100 years for the two of us to marry across that divide.
America has seen worse than the problems she faces today.
Lincoln, whatever else he did, saved the Union. I do not think anyone else would have stood in that breach and doggedly kept on. If he had not done this, America would never have become the great power she is and the history of the entire world would be vastly different.
Without a strong America to lend-lease arms to the Soviets and Brits, and then to join the fight, would Hitler have won? Our entry in WWI was certainly a turning point, as well.
What about the peace that followed? What would have become of a world without the Marshall Plan, the rebuilding of Japan and America’s stalwart stand against Communism across the decades?
Lincoln saved the Union, and changed world history.
His great short speech at Gettysburg captured the tragedy of the Civil War in a few words.
The FBI stands ready to assist Nigeria to help find the approximately 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Considering the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s government to deal effectively with Boko Haram, I think they should consider taking the offer.
What role does government corruption play in the continued successes that Boko Haram has had at killing unarmed civilians and burning down churches and schools? This kidnapping is not the first time Boko Haram has attacked a Nigerian school.
On February 24 of this year, they slaughtered 59 boys aged 11 to 18 by shooting and burning them at a government school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state, Nigeria. They also burned the school’s 24 buildings to the ground.
The government was not able to stop them, even though an attack like this must have taken quite a bit of time. The government has been unable to track Boko Haram down and kill or capture their leaders.
Boko Haram appears to be heavily armed with expensive weapons, as well as having pickup trucks, armored vehicles and motorcycles. I’ve raised the question of money before. It takes money to buy these things. It also takes money to buy gasoline, food and the other necessities of maintaining this group.
Who is funding Boko Haram?
Why is the Nigerian government unable to track them down? How can they manage to engage in sustained attacks on schools in which they murder large numbers of people by shooting them, then have the time to burn down the facilities and burn the bodies as well without the government responding?
I have no doubt that the FBI can find these people. Nigeria needs to take all the help it can get.
From ABC News:
U.S. law enforcement officials said today that the FBI is standing ready for a possible deployment to Nigeria to help find the 276 teenage girls abducted from a school, but that no help had yet been requested.
“Last week, the attorney general told U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare a report for him on the kidnapping of the 300 girls in Nigeria and also requested an assessment of Boko Haram, the militant group behind the kidnapping,” a government official told ABC News.
As many as 300 girls, ages 16 to 18, were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 15, according to the Associated Press. The students had been studying for final exams at their local school.
Police said that about 53 had escaped but as many as 276 remained in captivity. The leader of Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the kidnapping and said he intended to sell the girls in the marketplace, according to a video obtained by the news agency AFP.