Pope Francis’ Loses Family Members in Traffic Accident

 

Pope Francis is “profoundly saddened” by the loss of his family members in a recent traffic accident.

According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father lost his niece by marriage, and two great nieces or nephews, aged two years and eight months. A nephew, Emanuel Boracio Bergoglio, was seriously injured.

Christians know that they will see their loved ones again, which gives us a unique comfort in times like this. At the same time, we also know that they are gone from us for the length of our days in this life. As King David said, “I will go to him. He cannot come to me.”

Let’s pray for the souls of these departed, and for our Holy Father.

Funding Rape, Kidnapping, Beheading, and Genocide: Price Waterhouse Coopers Fined $25 M for Terrorist-State Money Laundering

 

Price Waterhouse Coopers has been fined $25 million for participating in a terrorist-funding money-laundering scheme with Japanese Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Remember when I said that I didn’t think the Japanese were helping to fund ISIS/Boko Haram/Islamic Brotherhood/Hamas? Well, I was wrong. Ditto for the Europeans. And us.

It appears that Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Japanese Bank of Tokyo were working together to launder money for the people who are beheading babies and raping little old ladies in the Middle East. Meanwhile the French bank BNP Paribus got clipped for doing the same thing.

Investigations into Price Waterhouse Cooper money laundering involving terrorist states go back at least to 2003, when America was engaged in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the settlement and fine of August 18, 2014 is a new story.

Evidently, this money laundering these banks and accounting firms engaged in was with states that have been sanctioned for terrorist activities. It is not unreasonable to think that these monies were then circulated through terrorist networks. The prohibitions that Price Waterhouse Cooper, Japanese Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and PNB Paribas violated by laundering money were with places like Iraq (remember we were at war with Iraq when the investigation against Price Waterhouse Cooper began) Sudan and Iran.

I don’t think it’s a big leap to think that this money may have ended up in the hands of active, murdering terrorists.

I wonder how much of this money found its way into the coffers of the people our troops have had to face in that part of the world? Where did the laundered money come from? Have these banks been helping to buy the bullets and the bombs that are used against American soldiers?

I do not think a fine is anywhere near enough punishment for this. These people belong in prison.

Greed may not be, as Gorden Gekko said, “good.” But he was certainly right when he said that it clarifies.

From the New York Post:

Auditing giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers is getting slapped with a $25 million fine for helping a Japanese bank launder money for terrorist states like Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.

New York’s top financial services regulator is putting the screws to PwC after it aided the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi hide the true nature of the illegal transactions on a 2008 financial statement, according to a settlement between the auditor and state officials announced Monday.

A PwC board member, who is now a partner at the firm, was at the center of the scandal, The Post has learned.

PwC helped the leading Japanese bank hide its ties to the terrorist states by whitewashing the language in its audit report to make it less likely it would draw the attention of Ben Lawsky, superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, and other regulators, according to the settlement.

PwC is also suspended for two years from consulting.YouTube Preview Image

Christians Attacking Christians is the Devil’s Handiwork.

 

I read a book this weekend, Even Silence has an End, by Ingrid Betancourt.

Doctor Betancourt is a former senator and candidate for the presidency of Columbia. She was kidnapped by FARC Communist rebels while she was en route to a campaign appearance in her race for the presidency and held prisoner for six years.

Even Silence has an End describes her long years in captivity. A number of her fellow captives have also written a book, Out of Captivity

If I read the other book, it will be after I give the subject a rest. There’s only so much of the brutality and injustice that FARC visited on these people that I can take.

What interests me today is the extremely toxic personality conflicts that developed among this small group of abductees and the hatred that it engendered in them toward one another. Small group toxicity and the resulting nastiness affects all of us as we go about our jobs and workaday lives. It poisons our relationships and wounds people deeply. It also makes us less effective in what we are trying to accomplish. Instead of getting good things done, we end up wasting our energies scratching and clawing at one another.

It sounds very much like this is what happened among these captives during their long years of helpless insecurity at the hands of brutal guards who might beat, starve, put them on forced marches or even kill them at any time.

One of the comments the American authors made about Doctor Betancourt is absurd and abusive on its face. “It was her own arrogance that got her kidnapped,” one of her fellow captives said.

Let’s be clear. The abduction of Ingrid Betancourt, as well as the other captives, was caused by the criminals who abducted them. FARC did this.

According to Even Silence Has an End,  what happened is that presidential candidate Betancourt was scheduled to make an appearance in an area that officials had recently declared guerrilla free. She was supposed to have armored vehicles and military escort. When she arrived at the jump-off point, her armored vehicles and military escort were withdrawn. The orders probably came from her political opponent, the president.

Doctor Betancourt does not say that the president wanted her to be abducted. She says that he was trying to keep her from making the campaign appearance.

Whatever the motives behind all this, she had gone into dangerous areas before and decided to go ahead with the campaign trip. She was abducted while she was en route to the engagement.

Does that make her abduction her “fault?” No. She was abducted by FARC. It is their fault.

What is astonishing is that this intelligent person is so messed up by his captivity that he doesn’t “get” that.

It is a mark of the damage that prolonged and intense association within toxic little groups does to people’s thinking. Leadership plays a huge part in this. if the leader — and by that, I mean the one who has the power — wants people to settle down and get along, they usually do. But FARC had everything to gain by pitting these prisoners against one another. If they had worked together, it would have made escape much more likely.

By dividing them emotionally and keeping them focused on hating one another, FARC had a much more manageable group to deal with.

One of the oddball claims that the other prisoners have made is that Doctor Betancourt retained authority, even as an abductee. She certainly was the most high profile prisoner, which would have made her more valuable to FARC. She also had dual citizenship with France, and the French went to bats for her and kept on fighting for her throughout her captivity. This, too, would have made her more important to FARC.

At the same time, the other prisoners, including the Americans who wrote Out of Captivity, were pretty much forgotten and ignored by everyone but their own families and sometimes not even them. They had less value to FARC because of this. They also had to live with the emotional damage this abandonment did to them throughout their captivity and for the rest of their lives.

It is important to note that Doctor Betancourt was chained with a chain around her neck. She was also starved and put in solitary confinement. When she attempted escape, the FARC soldiers gang-raped her as punishment.

If that’s what it means to be the queen bee of a FARC prison camp, I think I’ll pass.

The interesting point in all this is that these captives might very well have managed an escape, and they certainly would have been much less damaged emotionally by their captivity, if they had not yielded to the manipulations of their captors and fallen into obsessive small-group hatred and internecine rivalry.

They needed leadership and discipline within their ranks. They also needed to work out goals for themselves that would have allowed them to function as a unit without attacking one another. I can think of no better goal for a group of abductees who are being unjustly held prisoner than escape.

They got confused — and apparently are still confused to this day — as to who their enemy was. And that made a hell of their hell, which continues to run their emotions, even after they are physically free.

This sad tale forms teachable parallels with Christians today all over the world. I’ve heard from more than one person that part of the trouble in forming a Christian resistance to the genocide taking place in the Middle East is internecine rivalries between different Christian faith traditions. I see it all the time in the internet rivalries and name-calling that goes on among Catholics on internet websites.

We are feuding with one another over whether or not to say the mass in English or Latin, whether or not to hold hands during the Our Father, and whether or not or even how much to bend our faith to politically correct cultural dictates such as gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia. Even our own priests are all over the map about these things.

At the same time, we are carrying on these absolutely moronic feuds among ourselves, we are seeing a genocide of Christians in Muslim countries that just keeps intensifying and growing. We stand silent while Christians are imprisoned in North Korea, while their churches are razed in China and while they are mocked and unjustly reviled here in the United States and in Europe.

Much of the reason why is that we are wasting our energies and our time fighting with one another. We need to remember that we are not, ever, truly in the power of those in power in this world. We answer only to Jesus Christ and we are citizens of His Kingdom before any other.

We need to stop fighting with one another. That is the devil’s handiwork in our lives.

 

Archbishop, Bishop Speak Out Against Black Mass

Here is Archbishop Coakley’s letter calling for prayer and penance about the black mass in Oklahoma City.

The video from Bishop Slattery, of Tulsa, Oklahoma is below that.

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August 4, 2014
The Memorial of St. John Vianney

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

By now you are probably aware that a Satanic group has scheduled a so-called Black Mass for Sunday, September 21 at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City.

Even though tickets are being sold for this event as if it were merely some sort of dark entertainment, this Satanic ritual is deadly serious.  It is a blasphemous and obscene inversion of the Catholic Mass.  Using a consecrated Host obtained illicitly from a Catholic church and desecrating it in the vilest ways imaginable, the practitioners offer it in sacrifice to Satan.  This terrible sacrilege is a deliberate attack on the Catholic Mass as well as the foundational beliefs of all Christians.  It mocks Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we Catholics believe is truly present under the form of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist when it has been consecrated by a validly ordained priest.

In spite of repeated requests, there has been no indication that the City intends to prevent this event from taking place.  I have raised my concerns with city officials and pointed out how deeply offensive this proposed sacrilegious act is to Christians and especially to the more than 250,000 Catholics who live in Oklahoma.  I am certainly concerned about the misuse of a publicly supported facility for an event which has no other purpose than mocking the Catholic faith.  I am especially concerned about the dark powers that this Satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly.  Since it seems this event will not be cancelled, I am calling on all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to counteract this challenge to faith and decency through prayer and penance.

Specifically, I am asking that the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel be included at the conclusion of every Mass, beginning on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6) and continuing through the Feast of the Archangels (September 29).  I invite all Catholics to pray daily for divine protection through the intercession of this heavenly patron who once defeated Lucifer in his rebellion against the Almighty and who stands ready to assist us in this hour of need.

Secondly, I am asking that each parish conduct a Eucharistic Holy Hour with Benediction to honor Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, between the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) and September 21, to avert this proposed sacrilege.

Finally, I invite all Catholics, Christians and people of good will to join me in prayer for a Holy Hour, outdoor Eucharistic Procession and Benediction at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Oklahoma City at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 21, the day of the proposed sacrilege.  We will pray to avert this sacrilege and publicly manifest our faith in the Lord and our loving gratitude for the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our lives.

A printable version of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese on the archdiocesan website (www.archokc.org).  If you have not yet done so, I urge you to contact the Office of the Mayor, the Honorable Mick Cornett, to express your outrage over this offensive and blasphemous sacrilege and this misuse of a tax-supported public space.

Commending our efforts to the Lord through the loving intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City

Bishop Slattery

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At This Time Last Year: 45 Churches Burned in Egypt

 

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.

 

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Texas Governor Perry Indicted in Texas-Sized Partisan Shoot-Out

 

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been indicted by a grand jury for “abuse of power.”

His crime? He vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after she was convicted of a DWI.

Governor Perry was indicted on two felonies: Abuse of Official Capacity, and Coercion of Public Servant.

District Attorney Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving in April of 2013. She was fined and sentenced to 45 days in jail. She actually served 21 of those 45 days. She has not resigned.

What has followed appears to be partisan politics from both sides of the argument. There were the usual outraged calls from Texas Republican legislators that District Attorney Lehmberg resign. This always happens when a political figure is in disgrace. Members of the opposite political party call for their resignation.

But, she didn’t resign.

She was subsequently investigated by a grand jury that decided she should be allowed to say in office. An Austin attorney brought a civil suit for the purposes of removing her from office under Texas statute. She won this case in court, which again left her in office legally.

This year, Governor Perry vetoed funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office. A group called Texans for Public Justice filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion for attempting to use his veto to force District Attorney Lehmberg to quit.

It appears to me that what we have here is a case of partisan politics running out of control on both sides of this debate. If District Attorney Lehmberg holds her office legally, Governor Perry has no business vetoing funding because he, personally, finds her behavior inappropriate. It does, on the surface, have the appearance of an attempt to coerce her to leave an office that she legally holds.

Indicting Governor Perry for two felonies in a game of partisan gotcha is destructive to the max, as well.

This whole business of trying to remove people from office or end their careers by using felony indictments to destroy them because they are of the opposite party is outrageous. I don’t have any doubt that this is exactly what is going on here.

I can guarantee that if Attorney General Lehmberg had been a Republican instead of a Democrat, the “outraged” politicians at the state capitol would have all switched sides. The Ds would have been outraged and Rs, not so much.

If Attorney General Lehmberg was a Republican, would Governor Perry have vetoed funding for the Travis County DA’s office? I doubt it. I think that if she had been an R, he would have said “the law is the law, and she’s in office legally, my hands are tied” and signed the funding without debate.

If Governor Perry was a Democrat, would Texans for Public Justice have filed the lawsuit that resulted in this indictment? Would a Republican version of the same thing would have filed one instead?

My point is that if the people involved switched their party affiliations, everybody else would switch sides right along with them. That’s because this is not a legitimate deal on anybody’s part. It’s all politics. Dirty. Nasty. Destructive politics.

The fact that we are talking about trying to force someone out of office for partisan reasons is outrageous.

It is also a terrible thing to drag anyone into our courts of law under felony charges. It doesn’t matter if they are a governor or a paper boy. No one should ever be put through that hell for any reason except legitimate ones.

This DWI conviction of a local politician is small political potatoes. She did the crime. She did the time. Let the people of Travis County Texas sort it out. That is, after all, their right.

It should have stopped there.

It would have stopped there except for the vicious insanity of take-no-prisoners partisan politics.

I would go on, except that this is Texas we’re talking about. They do everything big down there; including their partisan shoot-outs. Let’s just watch and see what happens next.

From ABC13 Eyewitness News:

AUSTIN, TX (KTRK) –A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption – making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. It’s the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.

READ ITRICK PERRY INDICTMENT

Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.

No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.

“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state – and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” said Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor. “Obviously that carries a lot of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”

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ISIS, Boko Haram, Ebola, Gay Marriage and Pope Francis in Korea

I’ve been too busy with family matters to write today. Here are a few headlines from the last 12 hours.

ISIS’ and Boko Haram:

ISIS Massacres 80 Yazidis in Northern Iraq. 

Boko Haram Abducts Dozens in Northern Nigeria. 

Syrian Christians facing extinction: ‘A tragedy of historic proportions’

What’s Behind Europe’s New Tolerance of Anti-Semitism?

And Ebola:

WHO: Ebola Outbreak ‘Vastly Underestimated.’

Inside the Ebola Outbreak with the CDC

America:

Hundreds Attend Emotional Charged Meeting on Firing of Church’s Gay Music Director

Greta: Speak Out Against the Persecution of Christians

Surprise: Pro-Gay-Marriage Christians Reject the Rest of Christian Teachings, Too. 

Pope Francis:

Pope to Asian Youth: Are You Ready to Say Yes to Christ?

Youth Who Lunched with Pope Impressed by His Humility

True Freedom Means Loving God Pope Tells Thousands at Mass

Catholic Church Growing in South Korea


The Church is growing in South Korea.

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Shark Week Debunked


Are we watching fake shark attacks on the Discovery Channel?

You decide.

 

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Pope Francis and His Kia

It looks shiny and new.

But it’s hardly the limousine visiting heads of state normally use.

Here’s a video of Pope Francis, stepping into his Kia for his Korean visit.

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One Question Answered: BOTH Sunnis and Shias Condemn the Barbarity in Iraq

 

I published a post a few minutes ago asking the question if the Muslim leaders who had condemned the genocide in Iraq were coming from just one side of the Sunni/Shia hostilities

My colleague, Hind Makki, of the Patheos Muslim Channel, answered me with a “no.” She also supplied details as to why I was wrong in my thinking,

I updated my original post with her reply. But this is important enough that I want to also do it in a separate post. I’m more than glad that both sides of this internal Muslim conflict have spoken out against the genocide. That gives me hope for all of us.

The other question, about whether or not some members of the Iraqi military helped ISIS gain control of American armaments, remains. If there is information on that, please share it.

As for the first question, this is one time I’m uber glad to be wrong.

Here’s Hind Makki’s reply:

Dear Rebecca Hamilton, the denunciations against ISIS have been given by 
both Sunni and Shia leadership and lay people. Looking at piece you 
wrote yesterday, I would like to share some information with you. I hope
you will update your piece reflecting this information: Ayatollah 
Sistani – Shia. Indonesian Ulema Council – comprises all Muslim groups 
in Indonesia, Sunni, Shia and everything else. Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam -
Sunni. Lebanese Muslim Association – Sunni. International Union of 
Muslim Scholars – comprises all Muslim groups in the world and one of 
it’s missions is to counter sectarianism. Yusuf Qaradawi – Sunni. 
Organization of Islamic Cooperation – non-religious political group of 
all countries with large Muslim populations. Iyad Ameen Madani – Sunni. 
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate – Sunni. Where did you get the 
information that they are all Shia?

Update! Before We Go All Twittery Over the Muslim Denunciations of ISIS, a Couple of Questions

I published a post yesterday listing various denunciations of ISIS barbarity from Muslim political leaders.

As I was assembling that list, I noticed that the denouncers were Shia. Based on what I’ve read, I believe that ISIS is Sunni.

I don’t have much knowledge of Shia vs Sunni, but I think, from what I’ve read, that this is a blood feud that is largely tribal and historic.

After I published that post, I could almost hear the massive sigh from readers. At last, a few of them said, the Muslims are joining us in combating the genocide.

I don’t want to put a pin in that balloon. Not yet. Because I’m not sure of anything.

But I do have these niggling questions that I think we need to consider before we go all twittery and weak-headed. It is critical to not allow ourselves to believe what we want to believe because we want to believe it. Let’s think a bit and chew on it a while first.

Here are the questions:

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1. How did ISIS get all that American heavy armor from the Iraqi army? Press reports have said variously that they “took it in battle,” or that it was “abandoned.” That is too simplistic and too facile to mean anything.

What an Okie would say, is “that don’t add up.” And this Okie agrees.

I find it a little hard to believe that those pristine armored vehicles were “lost in battle.” I also find it hard to believe that a military with those armaments would be so easily overpowered. Frankly, that equipment would give the Iraqi army quite an edge in a battle.

As for those things being “abandoned,” give me a break. I think that Sunni members of the Iraqi army gave that American armament to ISIS. I may be wrong. But that’s what I think.

Shiavssunni

2. Are we being played by the Shias to use us against the Sunnis? If the only Muslims speaking out against the genocide are Shias, and ISIS is Sunni, and these people are at war with one another, well then, that sounds like politics to me.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing for any Muslims to speak out against the genocide, for whatever motivations. I’m also not saying that we should not welcome their help. The point here is to stop the barbarity. I sincerely welcome anyone whose actions add to that fight.

But that doesn’t mean I trust them like they were blood kin and just blindly assume that their motivations are the same as mine and that their future actions will be what I would do.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In this case the outraged American public is the unwitting enemy of the Sunnis, simply because the Sunnis are slaughtering innocents. That makes us the (temporary) friends of the Shias.

There’s a saying in Okieland — I don’t have a dog in that fight. We don’t have a dog in the Sunni-Shia fight. Our objective is to end the genocide.

Let’s remember that and not go all politically-correct gaga and attribute our motives to other people we know very little about.

These are my questions. These ideas of mine are conjecture. What do you think?

The videos below are a couple of months old. I don’t agree with everything said in either analysis, but they highlight a bit of how this situation developed and give us information about American arms falling in ISIS’ hands.

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UPDATE: Hind Makki, of the Patheos Muslim Channel shared this information with me.  I am very glad to hear that both Sunnis and Shias have denounced the barbarity in Iraq.

Dear Rebecca Hamilton, the denunciations against ISIS have been given by 
both Sunni and Shia leadership and lay people. Looking at piece you 
wrote yesterday, I would like to share some information with you. I hope
you will update your piece reflecting this information: Ayatollah 
Sistani – Shia. Indonesian Ulema Council – comprises all Muslim groups 
in Indonesia, Sunni, Shia and everything else. Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam -
Sunni. Lebanese Muslim Association – Sunni. International Union of 
Muslim Scholars – comprises all Muslim groups in the world and one of 
it’s missions is to counter sectarianism. Yusuf Qaradawi – Sunni. 
Organization of Islamic Cooperation – non-religious political group of 
all countries with large Muslim populations. Iyad Ameen Madani – Sunni. 
Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate – Sunni. Where did you get the 
information that they are all Shia?

 

Robin Williams is Dead. Does that Mean We Win?

 

I confess. I haven’t been all that interested in the obsessive coverage of Robin Williams’ death.

My feelings about Mr Williams before his death were generally positive but mostly disinterested. I enjoyed his movies and wished him well.

I knew, as soon as I heard that he had died, that we would be in for another of these 24/7 whatevers that the media does when someone famous dies. Sure enough, I flipped briefly to the news last night, and I saw a talking head interviewing one person after another eulogizing Mr Williams.

I don’t want to say anything bad, negative or dismissive about Robin Williams, his tragic suicide, or the hell his family and the few people who truly loved him must be going through right now. I’m also not going to say anything faux profound about depression or suicide.

What I do want to write about is one thing: Why?

Why do we go into these orgies of obsession every time someone famous dies?

It is so predictable and so bizarre that I am beginning to think that these griefathons serve some sort of purpose for us as individuals. The media is consistent about intoning gravely that we are engaging in a “national mourning” and then carpet-bombing our senses with what begins as worshipful eulogies spiced with titillating details about how the person died, and finishes with sordid details about their personal failures and picadillos.

It’s a script. The media follows it like a cooking recipe, and we eat it up like it was dessert.

What’s the purpose? I don’t mean the obvious purpose of getting ratings and a kind of prurient interest in other people’s pain, but what is the real purpose for this obsessive and downright irrational behavior?

And it is irrational. Because, my friends, you didn’t know Robin Williams. You didn’t know Michael Jackson. Or Sonny Bono. Or Princess Diana. Or Marilyn Monroe.

You didn’t know any of them.

They were two-dimensional representations of themselves on big screens and little screens and videos to you. This does not belie the fact that they were people and that other people loved them deeply and suffered the extremes of grief and emotional dislocation when they died.

But the fact is, you are not one of those people. You did not know them. You did not love them. Before their passing, you did not even think about them all that much.

But the minute they die, we focus on them and the endless blabbing about their “contribution,” “genius,” and their saintliness begins and goes on for days and weeks until we finally wear it out and turn to something else.

We stop working, stop talking to our families, stop thinking about paying the bills and taking the dog for a walk, just plain stop our lives and sit transfixed in front of the tube watching hour after hour of celebrities being interviewed by talking heads who are themselves celebrities, saying the same trite things over and over about the newly departed. We are like spotlighted deer, staring at the images of this person we didn’t know and pushing ourselves to a kind of vicarious grief over their death.

Later, as the inevitable take-down starts and the tawdry details of their lives drip through, we extend the obsession into fascination and tut-tut our way through more wasted time and energy.

What’s going on here? People give whole days and weeks of their lives over to emotion about someone they never met, and then turn around in six months or a year when another big celebrity dies and do it again.

What are they getting out of it? What beast in the subterranean oozy places of our minds is this feeding?

Maybe it stems from that thing we know but don’t really believe: Our own mortality. Does this have something to do with an affirmation that Robin Williams/Michael Jackson/Sonny Bono/Princess Diana/Marilyn Monroe are dead … but we are alive?

Is this a backdoor way of dealing with the fact that we are all going to die and that this knowledge haunts us all of our living days? Robin Williams threw away the one thing that any of us ever truly possesses: His life. He refused years of living.

I don’t want to say anything about suicide or depression. I have no deep thoughts to add to that conversation. But it is a fact that Robin Williams revoked his own lease on life. He gave up what most people would fight with everything they had to keep: Life.

I have no doubt that this titillates us.

But what makes it writ large is that he had everything that the gods of this world have taught us makes life worth living. He was a success on an international scale. He was up there as high as you can get in his very public profession; one of the handful out of the billions who walk this planet today. He had more money than we can count and the adulation of millions. He had everything we have been taught to spend our lives striving to get; every “if only” we think would make us happy and fill the holes in us that keep us awake at night.

That fascinates because if affirms in a silent sort of way that maybe all those things we’ve been taught to want and never got — the fame, success, endless money and pretty young things on our arms — don’t matter all that much after all. If the rich and famous can tumble to our feet like this, then maybe we aren’t missing all that much. Maybe we’re more ok than the same media that is now riveting us to Robin Williams’ death tells us we are.

Maybe our old jalopy and our two-bedroom house with the leaky faucet and our humdrum jobs that bore us to tears and our sadistic bosses from hell aren’t all that bad after all.

Because there’s this: He/She/They are dead. And we’re not.

Maybe the fascination lies in the fact that if the richest and most successful among us can die by their own excesses or even their own deliberate intent, then, maybe, in spite of all their glitzy success and our lackluster workaday lives, we, in fact, win.

Updated: Muslim Leaders Join in Condemnation of ISIS

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On August 8, the Oriental Bishops called on Islamic leaders to issue Fatwas against the genocide committed against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq by the group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

So far as I know, there has been no Fatwa against genocide. I found one Fatwa issued against ISIS by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is said to be Iraq’s most influential religious leader. Ayatollah Sistani called for a Fatwa urging Iraqis to fight against ISIS. However, I believe that this particular FATWA was aimed at defending Shia Muslims against Sunni Muslims. I do not think it addressed the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis.

I don’t know anything about either Fatwas or the arguments between various branches of Islam. I am only quoting what I have read. So this could be wrong. ISIS itself issued a charming Fatwa in favor of rape, but nothing else from religious leaders.

On August 8, the Indonesia Ulem Council Issued a Fatwa against ISIS. Again, it was not against the genocide or the barbaric actions of ISIS. The Fatwa seemed to be based on the potential ISIS has to harm Islam.

The Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, who is said to be Egypt’s top religious authority condemned ISIS yesterday. Once again, his basis for doing so was that ISIS is damaging to Islam. The article I read did not contain a condemnation of the genocide.

If Public Catholic leaders know of Fatwas issued by Islamic religious leaders against the genocide in Iraq and Syria, please share the information and I will publish it.

At the same time that Islamic religious leaders are mostly silent on the genocide, Islamic political leaders have spoken out. The Arab League accused ISIS of crimes against humanity as regards the Yazidi. In another article, they were said to have called for the formation of a “national unity government” in Iraq. I have no idea what a “national unity government” might be, but I view it with suspicion. The article I read said nothing about the crimes against Christians. It may simply be an incomplete article.

In Australia, Samier Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, called the man whose little boy was photographed holding the head of a victim of ISIS, “a lunatic.”

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) issued a condemnation of the forced expulsion of Iraqi Christians. Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is said to be an influential Muslim religious leader, posted this condemnation on his website. “These are acts that violate Islamic laws, Islamic conscience and leave but a negative image of Islam and Muslims,” the statement said. “The Christians are native sons of Iraq and not intruders.”

Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperaton, which represents 57 countries and 1.4 billion Muslims, officially denounced “the forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” He said that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, said that Muslims should not be hostile towards “people with different views, values and beliefs, and regard them as enemies.” This doesn’t sound like a Fatwa, but it is at least an Islamic religious leader, speaking on the general subject.

And finally, Indonesia has declared ISIS illegal. 

This response from Islamic leaders around the world is heartening. Decent people everywhere need to unite against these crimes against humanity, whoever does them, wherever they happen.

This roundup is informal in the extreme. I hope that Public Catholic readers will add information to it if they have it.

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UPDATE: For a survey of reaction against the Iraqi genocide in the Muslim press, go here.

Vatican Unambiguously Denounces and Condemns Unspeakable Jihadist Acts

 

Public Catholic reader Ken brought this to my attention.

The Vatican has released a statement condemning the crimes against humanity that are occurring in the Middle East. The statement lists what it calls “unspeakable criminal acts … which bring shame on humanity,” including beheading, crucifying, abduction of women and girls as spoils of war, the barbaric practice of infibulation and forced conversions.

From the Vatican Website:

The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29,1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other

religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.

Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. “

[01287-02.01] [Original text: French - working translation]

I Just Bought a Bumper Sticker. You Should Buy One Too.

 

 

I just bought a bumper sticker like the one in the photo above. Next month, I’m getting a t-shirt to go with it.

The symbol on the left is a letter in the Arabic alphabet. It is pronounced “noon.” It is a slur against Christians in that part of the world, meaning Nazarene.

ISIS has used this symbol to mark the homes of Christians, as well as the bodies of the Christians they have murdered. They intend it as a great insult and degradation. But there is no higher honor than to be marked with the name of Christ. These people they are killing are martyrs who go straight to heaven.

I have this sign of the Nazarene on my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages. It is an honor and a privilege to do so.

Now, it’s going on my car.

The merchant is Lisieux Learning on Zazzle.

Governor Mary Fallin Condemns Black Mass

Governor Mary Fallin

Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin condemned black mass that is scheduled for Oklahoma City next month.

From the Governor’s website:

Gov. Fallin Condemns Black Mass Scheduled for Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today condemned a scheduled performance of a satanic black mass next month in Oklahoma City.

“This ‘Black Mass’ is a disgusting mockery of the Catholic faith, and it should be equally repellent to Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” said Fallin. “It may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn it in the strongest terms possible for the moral outrage which it is. It is shocking and disgusting that a group of New York City ‘satanists’ would travel all the way to Oklahoma to peddle their filth here. I pray they realize how hurtful their actions are and cancel this event.”

Fallin joins Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley in criticizing the event, scheduled for Sept. 21 at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. The archbishop said the black mass “is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians.”

Oklahoma City officials have said the Civic Center is a public building and the city must abide by the First Amendment and allow it to be leased to any group that agrees to abide by all laws and city ordinances.

The black mass in Oklahoma City reportedly is being organized by the Satanic Temple of New York City, which last year submitted plans for a public monument of a seated Satan on the state Capitol grounds to counter a monument of the Ten Commandments.

Video from Inside ISIS: What They Think of Themselves.

305087-e9a729cc-20f4-11e4-a212-44a8a3dd312bThey call themselves the Islamic State. This video from inside ISIS shows how they appear to themselves.

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If you want to see what they actually are, go here. But be warned, these are horrific photos of satanic depravity. If you would like to see the story behind the photo at the top, go here.

To put this in perspective, read Elizabeth Scalia’s post on how our lack of faith cripples the West. 


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