A thought for today
Headline in today’s “The Nation“: 66 Percent of Americans Now Live in a Constitution-Free Zone
Should we be surprised at this, seeing that the USA has been stamping out the freedom of peoples around the world for the last 70 years?
Judgment at Nuremburg trials:
Aggression is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
The admonition of the chief prosecutor for the United States, Robert Jackson: “The record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.”
Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, Vietnam, Angola, Congo, Cambodia, Libya, etc., just to name the countries that come to mind whose governments we have overthrown, whose landscapes we have devastated, whose citizens we have murdered with our armies, our CIA assassins, our paid thugs, our bombs, our napalm, our drones. And don’t forget the instant incineration of 100,000 non-combatants and prolonged death of another 100,000 in Hiroshima in 1945.
Resolved: the Supreme Court of the United States shall hereafter be known as the Hobby Lobby until such time as this institution, inimical to the freedom of the people, is abolished from the face of the Earth forever.
Justices Scalia and Alito have both received the same gift from the Hobby Lobby: a Hobby Horse on wheels. Both are pulled by 3 vulnerable young naked women chained to a Hobby Horse, who are being whipped by the in-Justices. Being brutally In-Jured by an In-Justice. Fantasy? You bet. But not by a very long shot. Why haven’t we seen a cartoon in one of the major newspapers showing this image as yet? What has happened to all the intrepid political cartoonists of yesteryear?
The buying of votes in American elections has always been a problem, but now that it is legal with today’s Supreme Court decision, democracy in America is effectively dead. You may have thought that democracy in America was dead or dying, and perhaps it was. But today, the Supreme Court with the McCutcheon decision effectively confirmed and ratified the death of democracy. Prior to today, there were at least some restrictions of the buying of elections. But today the Supreme Court effectively made the buying of elections legal, thus making a mockery of democracy. Now that corporations and fabulously wealthy persons have no restrictions imposed on them on the giving of money to candidates, they very effectively control who gets nominated for office and who gets elected to office. This is infinitely more effective than the old-style Tammany Hall buying and arm-twisting for individual votes. The Supreme Court justices who voted with the majority on Citizens United and MacCutcheon are traitors to America. They ought to be rounded up by the Executive Branch and thrown in jail. This would not be provoking a Constitutional crisis: the crisis has already been amply provoked by the Supreme Court’s dealing the death blow to democracy. Eternal shame on the justices who voted with the majority!
I have been listening to Ockeghem’s Missa Mi-Mi lately. This incomparably beautiful, incomparably sacred, incomparably touching piece of music is still very dear to me 50 years after I first heard it. The Missa Mi-Mi is a faithful mirror of the sacred. It faithfully represents what is back of life itself. And its leaves a beautiful, delicately and richly patterned, ethereal, seemingly evanescent butterfly floating protectively around me for some time. It matters not at all to me that the text of this mass is a statement of religious dogma to which I am no longer tempted to subscribe. Music is a very complex organization of sounds in time. Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “Yet the likeness of God can be found in time, which is eternity in disguise.” Perhaps a great work of sacred music can lend a direct perception of eternity in disguise.
“A religious man is like a salamander, that legendary animal that originates from a fire of myrtlewood kept burning for seven years. Religion is born of fire, of a flame, in which the dross of the mind and soul is melted away. Religion can only thrive on fire. A life of religion is an altar. ‘Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out ’ (Leviticus 6:6). Man cannot live without acts of exaltation, without moments of trembling and revering, without being transported by grandeur. For weeks and months he may be confined to the routine of sensible interests, until an hour arrives when all his habits burst under the strain. Common sense may sign a decree that life be kept under the lock of average conceptions, but much in our lives is meant to be burned up in a holy flame or it will rot in monstrous deeds, in evil thoughts. To satisfy his need for exaltation, man will plunge into rage, wage wars; he will set the city of Rome afire. When superimposed as a yoke, as a dogma, as a fear, religion tends to violate rather than to nurture the spirit of man. Religion must be an altar upon which the fire of the soul may be kindled in holiness.” – (from God In Search Of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel, page 317, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“Only those who have gone through days on which words were of no avail, on which the most brilliant theories jarred the ear like mere slang; only those who have experienced ultimate not-knowing, the voicelessness of a soul struck by wonder, total muteness, are able to enter the meaning of God, a meaning greater than the mind.
There is a loneliness in us that hears. When the soul parts from the company of the ego and its retinue of petty conceits; when we cease to exploit all things but instead pray the world’s cry, the world’s sigh, our loneliness may hear the living grace beyond all power.
We must first peer into the darkness, feel strangled and entombed in the hopelessness of living without God, before we are ready to feel the presence of His living light.” – (from God In Search Of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel, page 140, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
“For where shall the likeness of God be found? There is no quality that space has in common with the essence of God. There is not enough freedom on the top of the mountain; there is not enough glory in the silence of the sea. Yet the likeness of God can be found in time, which is eternity in disguise.” (from The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel, page 16, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“The claim that there are no significant questions so profound that they cannot be solved by exact sciences raises a question that seems to defy solution: How does one account for the dogmatic and monstrous presumption implied in such a claim?” (from The Prophets, Volume II by Abraham Joshua Heschel, page 189, Hendrickson Publishers)
The music I sing in church on Sundays is usually quite beautiful, and does not contain a hint of the fearsome evil that man commits day in and day out. Perhaps the reminder of the presence of the tiger in us can help us from being Sunday hypocrites, from experiencing beauty on Sunday and committing acts of injustice and uncharitableness during the rest of the week. “Worship preceded or followed by evil acts becomes an absurdity. The holy place is doomed when people indulge in unholy deeds.” “The prophet is a man who sees the world with the eyes of God, and in the sight of God even things of beauty or acts of ritual are an abomination when associated with injustice.” (from The Prophets, Volume I by Abraham Joshua Heschel, page 11 and page 212, Hendrickson Publishers)