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March 2006
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April 2010

Irish Peace Activists Found Not Guilty

SwordintoThe "Pitstop Ploughshares" were charged in 2003 after disabling a US Navy plane bound for the Gulf at Shannon airport.  The five defendants protested that Ireland was a neutral country and should not allow US warplanes to pitstop on the way to Iraq.  Exerts from the defense attourney were posted at and are worth reading:

"The final summations of each defense counsel urged jurors not only to ask whether the defendants were right to take action, but also ask why it is that the rest of us haven't acted. Mr. Nix, praised by the prosecutor as "the last of the great orators," noted that the prosecutor had characterized the action of the defendants "political" as if that were a bad thing. "I'll tell you of someone who made a great political speech," said Mr. Nix, "the greatest political speech of all time and that's Jesus Christ." He went on to quote the Sermon on the Mount to the jury. I could hear the pencils stop scratching, see the jaws drop all around the courtroom. It was an awe-inspiring moment. The shock was yet to come.

Mr. Nix told us he had recently been in a park where he'd listened to children laugh and shout as they happily chased ducks and each other around on the green grass. He thought a sound of universal happiness must be the sound of children playing.

But now his tone darkened. "Now Lebanon is burning," he thundered. "Today, children swimming in a pool were bombed. A swimming pool is now filled with burning children. This is war."

He concluded, " What will rise you to action?"  Perhaps we are all on trial as this war spreads.
For more on the Pitstop Ploughshares see Peace on Trial.

Mark 6 and John 6 "Not Just Bread" Proper 11B and 12 B for July 23 & July 30

I sat on the couch one night this week and turned on the television to relax and to watch the Mets play baseball. I realized that I had not watched any TV for almost a month and what I call my “commercial immune system” had grown weak. The first commercial followed some poor guy around at a wedding reception whose hair was starting to thin on top. He was all alone on this joyous occasion and only a fellow bald geek would talk to him about boring things. But there was hope for him thanks to the miracles of Rogaine that could replace his hair and restore him to the ranks of fully human. Now my hair isn’t really thinning, but someone mentioned a few weeks ago that they thought my hairline was starting to recede upwards on my forward. Of course that hadn’t seen me for 15 years. And people have been remarking that I’m getting more grey hair. I’m moving toward middle age. Perhaps its time that I think about cutting my hair a different way or evening coloring it so it doesn’t show the grey. 


While I briefly dwelt on these thoughts, the commercial switch to the Mountain Dew commercial where the biker runs down a cheetah to get his soda back. There ad campaign has targeting the bungee-jumping, sky boarding, snow boarding, thrill seeking crowd, adventurous 20-somethings. Never mind that drinking Mountain Dew will probably drastically shorten your life span, it’s the image that counts. Since I was already dwelling on sliding into middle age, I started thinking that I’ve grown too soft and comfortable. Maybe I should start weightlifting again or take up scuba diving. I don’t take enough risks. I need to do something that puts me more out on the cutting edge of life. And before I could finish these thoughts, a commercial for online stock trading came on. My thoughts quickly changed from an adventurous life to the reality that James will be in college before we know it, Social Security may be gone when I retire.

Continue reading "Mark 6 and John 6 "Not Just Bread" Proper 11B and 12 B for July 23 & July 30" »

Mark 6:14-29 "Head on a Platter" for Pentecost 6

She wanted his head on a platter. Despots have extinguished the life-breath of their critics in numerous ways; severing heads at chopping blocks, adding drama with the fall of a guillotine, opting for the somber snap of the neck at the gallows or drowning out a voice by attaching heavy stones to their feet to let them “swim with the fishes.” If you just want someone dead, there are very efficient methods of killing them. A simple knife thrust or smothering leaves someone just as dead. The means of execution seem to be designed to send a specific kind of message.  The impure, such as witches, warlocks and heretics, are burned at the stake to cleanse by flame the contaminating evil. Social critics are robbed of their breath. You can’t speak without your head. The Romans were great engineers, so it makes sense that they would build crosses and nail people up on them.

After Edison vengeance was satisfied by zapping electrical currents through the body. And now, when health is regulated by shots and pills, we prescribe the ultimate penalty by lethal injection, hoping to cure the body politic like an influenza inoculation. As a measure of how much more humane our race has become, we’ve gone from brawny, hooded executioners to men in white lab coats. In the 22nd century, perhaps we have nano-executioners to look forward to, or we will yearly launch the condemned by space probe into the eye of the sun.

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