May Madness

The 2005 film Sometimes in April is a powerful reminder of the Rwandan Genocide that began in April 1994. There’s something about April, I suppose: the Armenian Genocide too began in April; and the Siege of Sarajevo, which many consider to be the beginning of the Bosnian Genocide, began in April as well. Three of the six most well-known genocides began in the same month…

But May isn’t much better…

May 17, 1984, Bhiwandi riots began when Hindus placed a saffron flag on top of a mosque… 278 dead. And in 1987, from March, through the entire month of May, and to June, riots occurred between Muslim and Hindu Indians in Meerut and resulted in the death of more than 350 people.

Yes, the Bhiwandi riots began when Hindus placed a saffron flag on top of a mosque? First of all, who cares, right? It’s just a flag? And, on the other hand, who would tarnish a religious building with the religious symbols of another religion? Disgusting insensitivity and hatred. It reminds me of swastikas on synagogues and Israeli PM Ariel Sharon flying an Israeli flag from the home he bought in the Muslim Old City of Jerusalem.

And, specifically, on this day, May 22, 1987, forty-two men were massacred by the Indian military in the Hashimpura neighborhood of Meerut, the state of UP. The victims were shot, and their bodies were dumped in water canals; a few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals. The trials were delayed for decades and, on March 21, 2015, the verdict was returned, and the Tis Hazari Court in Delhi acquitted the 16 soldiers accused in the Hashimpura Massacre, due to “insufficient evidence.”

Fortunately, some semblance of justice and responsibility, in May 2015, the UP government announced a compensation equivalent to $US 500,000 to the family of each victim.

But the violence in the India haven’t stopped. Years later, but also in May, the 2006 Vadodara Dargah riots occurred in the state of Gujarat in India. The 2006 Riots were caused by the municipal council’s decision to remove a 300-year-old Sufi dargah (shrine). An independent people’s commission has stated that the police had targeted Muslims during the incident…. eight people were killed and forty-two injured, 16 of these were from police shooting.

Who votes to close a religious site in a city known for its religious strife? Yes, Gujarat is the same state that was home to the 1969 and 2002 Gujarat riots as well.

But the crimes against humanity and genocide in the Indian subcontinent is not all religiously-based war crimes, in the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, Muslims killed Muslims over, at least at face-value, over language. May 5, 1971, the Gopalpur Massacre occurred when Muslim Pakistani forces murdered 195 Bengali Muslim workers at a sugar factor. And on May 20, 1971, many thousands of Bengali Hindu refugees were murdered in the Chuknagar massacre by Pakistani forces. Why? Religion? Language? Bloodlust? Probably all three….

Some much violence. So much hate and ignorance. Demographic tribalism and identity politics at its worst.

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May is not a good month for the continent of Asia. Also in this month of May, specifically May 21, 1864, Russia declared an end to the Russo-Circassian War after the scorched earth campaign initiated in 1862 under General Yevdokimov.  When the Circassian people refused to convert to Christianity from Islam, almost the entire population was forced into exile from their North Caucasus homeland.  More than 1.5 million Circassians were expelled — 90% of the total population at the time.  Most of them perished en route, victims of disease, hunger, and exhaustion. And, among the Circassians that stayed behind? Chechnyans. And you wonder why so many Chechnyans hate the Russians so much. As a war against civilians, forced transfer of populations, within the context of both ethnic and religious differences… another genocide. May 21st is designated as the Circassian Day of Mourning and recognizes the Circassian Genocide.  And just a few years ago, the 2014 Sochi Olympics were held on former Circassian land which caused an outcry from Circassian people as well as humans rights activists worldwide.

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From the Caucasus Mountains of western Asia, across the Indian subcontinent, to southeast Asia. In Cambodia, May 20, is The Day of Remembrance. Formerly called the National Day of Hatred, it commemorates the Cambodian genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country between 1975 and 1979; specifically, the date was selected since it marked the beginning of mass killings by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge…

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While the German Genocide, or Holocaust, started on that November night of Broken Glass and the Darfur Genocide began on a dusty February day in 2003… three well-known genocides all began Sometime in April… but unfortunately, genocide is more ordinary than extraordinary. May marks the beginning of the Palestinian Diaspora in 1948, the lesser known Greek Genocide, the Circassian Genocide, the more well-known Cambodian Genocide, as well as continuous violence in India and several massacres of the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide.

Genocide is not a competition, and if we could see how pathetically ordinary it is in our human history, perhaps we could turn the corner and recognize one another as sister and brother, no matter race, ethnicity, nationality, or creed. Remember the sins of the past, remember that today is tomorrow’s yesterday. The choices we make today will be looked back upon tomorrow.

 

The Other Guy Did It Too (May 17th)

The Other Guy and the Lack of Secondary Biligerant Accountability

On this day, May 17, 1974, thirty-three civilians were killed and 300 injured when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) detonates four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. It was the deadliest attack of the Troubles and the deadliest terrorist attack in the Republic’s history.

There are credible allegations that elements of the British state security forces helped the UVF carry out the bombings, including members of the Glenanne gang. Some of these allegations have come from former members of the security forces. The Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Justice called the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces. Just the month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organization, meaning the UVF was not considered a terrorist organization at the time of the May 17 bombing. Excuse me?

The bombings occurred within the context of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike, which was called by hardline loyalists and unionists in Northern Ireland who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement. Specifically, they opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists and the proposed role for the Republic in the governance of Northern Ireland. The strike brought down the Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly on May 28, 1974.

Ironically, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, on which the current system of Northern Irish devolution is based, closely resembles the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement.

Let’s take another look at these UVF loyalists that few outside of Ireland have heard of, as well as their friends the UDA:

1968

  • The UVF carried out three attacks on Catholics in Belfast. In the first, a Protestant civilian (Matilda Gould) died when UVF members tried to firebomb the Catholic-owned pub beside her house but accidentally struck her home.
  • In the second, a Catholic civilian (John Patrick Scullion) was shot dead as he walked home. In the third, the UVF opened fire on three Catholic civilians as they left a pub, killing one (Peter Ward, a native of the Republic of Ireland) and wounding the other two.

1969

  • The UVF planted their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin
  • The UVF detonated bombs in the Republic of Ireland. In Dublin, it detonated a car bomb near the Garda Síochána central detective bureau. It also bombed a power station at Ballyshannon, a Wolfe Tone memorial in Bodenstown, and the Daniel O’Connell monument in Dublin.

1971

September Loyalists formed the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The group would quickly become the largest loyalist group in Northern Ireland. What? Who are these guys?

In addition to the loyalist paramilitary group known as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the UDA/UFF was responsible for more than 400 deaths. The vast majority of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, killed at random, in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants. Other High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham’s and James Murray’s bookmakers’ shootings, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. Most of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward bombings in the Republic of Ireland were executed as well. While the UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994 and ended its campaign in 2007, some of its members have continued to engage in violence.

For example:

Also in 1971:
McGurk’s – the UVF exploded a bomb at a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast, killing fifteen Catholic civilians (including two children) and wounding seventeen others. This was the highest death toll from a single incident in Belfast during the Troubles

1973

The British government outlawed the “UFF” in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not proscribed as a terrorist group until August 1992.

Oh, and the Sunningdale Agreement was signed. You know, the one that was agreed to under a different name in 1998? 25 years later… all the violence, what was the point?

1974

Dublin and Monaghan bombings – the UVF exploded four bombs (three in Dublin, one in Monaghan). They killed thirty-three civilians and wounded a further 300. This was the highest number of casualties in a single incident during “The Troubles”. It has been alleged that members of the British security forces were involved. The UVF did not claim responsibility until 15 July 1993.

1975

  • The UVF tried to derail a train by planting a bomb on the railway line near Straffan, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland. A civilian, Christopher Phelan, tried to stop the UVF volunteers and was stabbed-to-death. His actions, however, reportedly delayed the explosion long enough to allow the train to pass safely.
  • Miami Showband Massacre– UVF volunteers (some of whom were also UDR soldiers) shot dead three musicians (Tony Geraghty and Fran O’Toole, both from the Republic of Ireland, and Brian McCoy, a Northern Irish Protestant), members of the Irish showband called “Miami Showband”, at Buskhill, County Down. The gunmen staged a bogus military checkpoint, stopped the showband’s bus and ordered the musicians out. Two UDR soldiers (Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville) hid a time bomb in the bus, but it exploded prematurely and they were killed. The other gunmen then opened fire on the musicians and fled. Three UDR soldiers were later convicted for their part in the attack, which has been linked to the “Glenanne gang”
  • The UVF killed seven civilians in a series of attacks across Northern Ireland. Six were Catholics (Frances Donnelly, Gerard Grogan, Marie McGrattan, Thomas Murphy, Thomas Osbourne, and John Stewart) and one was a Protestant (Irene Nicholson). Four UVF volunteers (Mark Dodd, Robert Freeman, Aubrey Reid, Samuel Swanson) were killed when the bomb they were transporting prematurely exploded as they drove along a road in Farrenlester, County Londonderry, near Coleraine.

1976

  • The Reavey and O’Dowd Shootings– the UVF shot dead six Catholic civilians from two families (one group was a trio of brothers; the other was an uncle and two nephews) in co-ordinated attacks in County Armagh. An officer in the RUC Special Patrol Group took part in the killings, which have been linked to the “Glenanne gang”.
  • The UVF launched gun and bomb attacks on two pubs in Charlemont, County Armagh, killing four Catholic civilians (Felix Clancy, Robert McCullough, Frederick McLoughlin, and Sean O’Hagan). A British Army UDR soldier was later convicted for taking part in the attacks Nine civilians were killed during separate attacks in and around Belfast. After a suspected republican bombing killed two Protestant civilians (Robert Groves and Edward McMurray) in a pub, the UVF killed three Catholic civilians and two Protestant civilians, all males (Samuel Corr, James Coyle, Edward Farrell, John Martin, and Daniel McNeil) in a gun and bomb attack at the Chlorane Bar. In a separate bomb attack on the International Bar, Portaferry, County Down, the UVF killed a Catholic civilian. The UDA/UFF also assassinated a member of Sinn Féin, Colm Mulgrew.
  • The Ramble Inn Attack– the UVF killed six civilians (five Protestants, one Catholic) in a gun attack at a pub near Antrim. The pub was targeted because it was owned by Catholics. The victims were Frank Scott, Ernest Moore, James McCallion, Joseph Ellis, James Francey (all Protestants) and Oliver Woulahan, a Catholic.

1989

Twenty-eight members of the British Army (Ulster Defence Regiment) were arrested on suspicion of leaking security force documents to loyalist paramilitaries

1991

The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) (acting on behalf of all loyalist paramilitaries) announced a ceasefire lasting until 4 July. This coincided with political talks between the four main parties (the Brooke-Mayhew talks).

1992

  • Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting – the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for a gun attack on a bookmaker’s shop on Lower Ormeau Road, Belfast. Five Catholic men and boys were killed (Christy Doherty, Jack Duffin, James Kennedy, Peter Magee, and William McManus). Nine others were wounded, one critically. This was claimed as retaliation for the Teebane bombing on 17 January 1992. In November 1992, the UDA carried out another attack on a betting shop in Belfast, killing three Catholic civilians and wounding thirteen.
  • And, the UDA was finally proscribed as a terrorist organization by the British government. Gee, thanks.

1993

  • Castlerock killings – the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for shooting dead four Catholic civilians and a PIRA volunteer at a building site in Castlerock, County Londonderry. Later in the day, it claimed responsibility for shooting dead another Catholic civilian in Belfast
  • Greysteel Massacre– the UDA, using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF), claimed responsibility for a gun attack on the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel, County Londonderry. Eight civilians (six Catholic, two Protestant) were killed and twelve wounded. One gunman yelled “trick or treat!” before he fired into the crowded room; a reference to the Halloween party taking place. The UFF claimed that it had attacked the “nationalist electorate” in revenge for the Shankill Road bombing

1994

  • Loughinisland – the UVF shot dead six Catholic civilians (Eamon Byrne, Barney Greene, Malcolm Jenkinson, Daniel McCreanor, Patrick O’Hare, and Adrian Rogan) and wounded five others during a gun attack on a pub in Loughinisland, County Down.
  • The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) issued a statement which announced a ceasefire on behalf of all loyalist paramilitaries. The statement noted that “The permanence of our cease-fire will be completely dependent upon the continued cessation of all nationalist/republican violence.”

1996

Drumcree conflict – the RUC decided to block the annual Orange Order march through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. In response, loyalist protestors attacked the RUC and blocked hundreds of roads across Northern Ireland. Eventually, the RUC allowed the march to continue, leading to serious rioting by nationalists across Northern Ireland.

1998

Drumcree conflict – the annual Orange Order march was prevented from marching through the nationalist Garvaghy area of Portadown. Security forces and about 10,000 loyalists began a standoff at Drumcree church. During this time, loyalists launched 550 attacks on the security forces and numerous attacks on Catholic civilians. On 12 July, three children were burnt to death in a loyalist petrol bomb attack. This incident brought an end to the standoff.

2007

  • The UVF and RHC issued a statement declaring an end to its armed campaign. The statement noted that they would retain their weapons but put them “beyond reach.”
  • The UDA issued a statement declaring an end to its armed campaign. The statement noted that they would retain their weapons but put them “beyond use.”

2010

  • It was announced that the Ulster Defence Association(UDA) had decommissioned its weapons in front of independent witnesses
  • The UVF were blamed for shooting dead former Red Hand Commando member Bobby Moffett in broad daylight on Shankill Road, Belfast. The killing put the UVF’s claims of weapons decommissioning and commitment to peace under serious scrutiny.

2012

In 2012, the De Silva Report revealed that 85 percent of the intelligence the UDA received had been supplied by the British security forces.

The Other Guy, and the mentality of “but he did it too”

As mentioned, in the podcast on Second Fiddle Belligerents and the Absence of Justice, there is also the lack of international accountability applied to these perpetrators of violence that I call “second fiddle belligerents.” Secondary belligerents seem to both escape international accountability as well as avoid responsibility for domestic accountability. While the international community notes the difference between individual major and minor war criminals, the supposition negates itself if those secondary belligerents do not hold their war criminals accountable. The absence of justice may be a result of domestic disinterest, a lack of international pressure, or the collapse of the nation-state and/or its government.

For example, in the Balkan Wars which began when Slovenia seceded from the Yugoslav Federation on June 25, 1991,  Serbia and Croatia quickly sought, not to reunify Yugoslavia, but to create a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croatia. The primary victim of these landgrabs was the Bosnia-Herzegovina; the Serbs infamously created the Republika Srpska to legitimize their landgrab, but it is lesser well-known that the Croats similarly created the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia within the territorial boundaries of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Franjo Tuđman, the President of Croatia, crush Croatian Serbians, supported the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, and on March 25, 1991, Tuđman met with Slobodan Milošević met at Karađorđevo where he may have discussed the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia.

The Croatians are as responsible for the Bosnia Genocide as the Serbians. The so-called Loyalist organizations of Northern Ireland are as responsible for The Troubles as the Irish so-called nationalist organizations. Violence is violence. Crimes against humanity are, as the term suggests, crimes against all of us, regardless of the numerical stat sheets of organizations that murder civilian populations.

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Yes, on this day, May 17, 1974, thirty-three civilians were killed and more than 300 injured when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) detonated four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, within the Republic of Ireland. And yet, how many recognize loyalist organizations as terrorist organizations as readily as the names of the IRA, Provos, and other republican organizations are called-out for their own heinous crimes?

 

My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor

Thank you for listening! And Remember, Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 14, 1948 & May 14, 2018

Why Trump was right to move the US Embassy:

Each sovereign nation-state has the right to determine its own capital. The Israeli government has declared Jerusalem to be its capital, therefore the US Embassy should be in Jerusalem.

Why Trump was wrong to move the US Embassy:

Israel’s legal authority of both West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem are questionable.

Historical Context

In 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne recognized British authority for the Mandate for Palestine. This was a result of the defeat of the Central Powers (specifically the Ottoman Empire) in World War I, and the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire as a functioning nation-state. Thus, the legal jurisdiction of Israel-Palestine belonged to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a mandate under the League of Nations and international law.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations (the successor regime to the League of Nations) adopted the Plan as Resolution 181(II), which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and an international authority for the city of Jerusalem. This UN Partition Plan for Palestine recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. The resolution also recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency accepted the proposal with reservations, but the Arab Commission argued that partition violated the principals of national self-determination in the UN Charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.

Almost immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a low-level civil war broke out and violence occurred by both religious groups. Adding to the complexity of the situation, post-World War II emigration of European Jews to the British Mandate for Palestine continued, which altered the population ratios in the Mandate.

On May 14, 1948, Jewish leaders in the Mandate for Palestine issued the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel in defiance of the United Nation as Resolution 181(II) which set the stage for the 1948 Arab–Israeli War (or the First Arab–Israeli War) between the State of Israel and a military coalition of Arab states and forming the second stage of the 1948 Palestine war. In the war, Israeli forces soundly defeated the Arab coalition and took complete control of West Jerusalem. As a result of the war, the State of Israel controlled both the area that the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 had recommended for the proposed Jewish state as well as almost 60% of the area of Arab state proposed by the 1948 Partition Plan, including Jaffa, Galilee, and some parts of the Negev Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. Transjordan, today known as Jordan, took control of East Jerusalem as well as what was left of the British Mandate, and the Egyptian military took control of the Gaza Strip. At that point in history, at the Jericho Conference of 1948, Egypt and Transjordan could have created a Palestinian state out of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the rump Mandate, but no state was created. However, because the Israeli control of Jerusalem was a military conquest and violation of UN Resolution 181, the US Embassy was built in Tel Aviv, not West Jerusalem.

Fast forwarding to the Six-Day War of June 1967: On June 7, 1967, Israel captured the Old City of East Jerusalem. Again, because the West Bank and East Jerusalem were a military conquest, not a diplomatic agreement, neither US President Lyndon Johnson nor did his eight successors relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

International Law

Since World War I, territorial expansion by military victory has been unrecognized by international law. Period. That’s it really. It’s as simple as that. Since World War I, territorial expansion by military victory has been unrecognized by international law. For example:

  • The German invasion of Poland, etc.? Wrong.
  • The Japanese invasion of East Asian territories? Wrong.
  • North Korea’s invasion of South Korea? Wrong.
  • Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara? Wrong.
  • Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait? Wrong.
  • Russian conquest of Crimea? Wrong

What makes the Israeli conquest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem any different?

Nothing under international law, that’s for sure, though I have heard this argument, that Israel was attacked, Israel did not initiate the war, so that makes it different; Essentially, the argument goes that it’s the Arabs fault because they started the war. If one has siblings, then we are all aware of the goading that can go on before conflict. Regardless, however, there is no legal basis for that argument, no international legal caveat that says if you get attacked, you can conquer the world legally…and, finally, it may be worth pointing out that the belligerents in the 1967 War were the nation-states of Jordan and the Arab Republic of Egypt Syria, and not the Palestinian people.

Which only leaves this argument to justify the Israeli occupation and annexation of the West Bank: God. Well, specifically, the Torah. Yes, the Jewish holy texts record that God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. Unfortunately for Israel’s case before the international community, religious texts are not exactly admissible in international proceedings. After all, would the international community accept the words of Shiva or Krishna as binding legal documents? Do Israeli Jews accept the Qur’an’s legal weight? In fact, didn’t the Allied Commander for the Pacific Theater in WWII, Douglas MacArthur, didn’t MacArthur demand that the head of the Shinto faith, Emperor Hirohito, publicly change/alter/denounce the dogma of that religious tradition that the Emperor was the descendant of the Sun Goddess?

It seems that accepting Jewish scripture as an international legal document is playing favorites with world religion. The repatriation of European Jews was a decision made from guilt and cultural prejudice. The decision was made in wanton disregard for the existing Arab population in the British Mandate of Palestine, like European disregard for indigenous populations around the world. The decision is also a complete rejection for the principals of self-determination and territorial integrity spelled out in the Treaty of Versailles. International law cannot, ought not, to be henpecked.

So, am I saying that the State of Israel does not have a right to exist? Am I being anti-Semitic?

No, categorically, no. That is not what I’m saying. In the first place, there is a difference between de juro and de facto. For example, when the convention of delegates that was assembled in Philadelphia 1787 was charged with revising the Articles of Confederation, not replacing the US government; the Articles themselves states that the Articles could only be altered unanimously, but only 12 of the 13 states participated in the Constitutional Convention. So, what, we’re now going to abolish the US Government? No, of course not.

Yes, Israel came into being in 1948 in a dubious legal situation. But there is an equally important point to be made that, throughout history, Stateless People have been persecuted. Today, the Rohingya, as well as the Roma/Gypsies, the Kurds, and others, and yes, the Jewish people themselves. Kicked out of their historical homeland in 70 CE by the Roman Empire, the Jews were stateless people for almost 1900 years… and now, because of the creation of a Jewish Homeland, the Palestinian people have no homeland. I don’t know about you, but as a kid, I was taught that “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right.”

And, if that point doesn’t seem to have merit, let’s try an analogy. If the Native Americans rose up from every reservation and from all corners of the current United States, if Native Americans took up arms and waged war against the European-American population of the United States, would that be legitimate? After all, like the Jewish people, this land was Native American first. Again, there seems to be an inherent bias in how many Americans perceive the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

Zero-Sum versus Positive Sum

In addition, too many Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians view the situation as a Zero-Sum Game. In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game a situation in which each participant(s) gain or loss of utility is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the utility of the other participant(s). That’s not the only option. The falsity and limitation of Zero-Sum thinking is pointed out by the Nash Equilibrium, and perhaps more importantly, by Positive-Sum thinking.

One of the falsehoods in the general discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the binary belief in Identity Politics. No, not all Israelis are opposed to the Two-State Solution; many Israelis recognize the dehumanizing conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And no, not all Palestinians are supporters of violence who deny the right of Israel to exist. Remember Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish murderer, not a Palestinian terrorist. If it seems that Palestinians are more angry and expressive of their feelings, ask yourself who was more angry and expressive in the American Civil Rights movement.

Conclusion

The United States has often neglected its potential as an arbiter for peace in the world, but not always. The American-brokered Good Friday Agreement is an example of US leadership in the world. Peace can happen when Americans recognize the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to self-determination. Peace can happen when settlements on the West Bank are not being constructed at the same time supposed negotiations occur. Peace can happen when the United States spends as much financial aid for Palestinian schools, hospitals, and police-training, as it sends in military hardware to Israel.

And, finally, peace will happen when Palestinians reject the politics of violence, and Israelis embrace the politics of humanitarianism.

The enemies of peace abound. They exist in the profit margins of the American military-industrial complex, and hidden corners of the Israeli government chambers; the enemies of peace exist in some of the madrasas and mosques of the West Bank and Gaza, just as much as they exist in the pulpits of many American Christian churches and some of the yeshivas of Israeli and America.

Yes, West Jerusalem is -and should be- the capital of Israel. But East Jerusalem should also be the capital of a Palestinian State as well. Opening one embassy, not two, was an expression of Zero Sum politics and an abdication of American leadership for peace in the world.

 

The First Fleet and Ethnoreligious Violence (May 13th)

Related image
Avatar and the Concept of Colonization

On this day, May 13, 1787, Captain Arthur Phillip left Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia. How exciting! Convicts were originally transported to the Thirteen Colonies in North America, but after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. On December 6, 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed for Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.

This had a drastic impact on three peoples: the British, the Aborigines, and the Irish. The British were able to expand their sphere of influence and the deportation, of young Irish males, in particular, was also intended as a method of pacification of Ireland.

This is also part of Irish history from two separate perspectives.  First, there is the issue of the forced deportation of Irish; the British identified these Irish prisoners as criminals, yet their “crime” was usually Irish nationalism and the desire for equal rights under the law.  Secondly, as said earlier from the British perspective, the forced deportation of Irish and others to Australia and New Zealand increased the British control over Ireland.

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If so many of us, including myself, argue that the forced deportation of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians from Turkey is evidence of genocide, why is the Irish Diaspora, in all its forms, not considered genocide?

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Nowadays, under modern International Law:

 

  • The Charter of the Nuremberg Trials (1945) states forced deportation of civilian populations to be both a war crime and a crime against humanity.
  • Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) prohibits mass movement of people out of or into of occupied territory under belligerent military occupation.
  • United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1993) states that historical cases reflect a now-foregone belief that population transfer may serve as an option for resolving various types of conflict, within a country or between countries.

~~~

There seems to a morality not recognized, a history not fully owned, and a deafening absence of equal application of international law to historical events.

As the Aborigines of Australia about that First Fleet: At the time of first European contact, it is estimated that between 315,000 and 750,000 people lived in Australia, perhaps as many as high as 1.25 million…

By the 1920s, the Indigenous population had declined to between 50 000 and 90 000. 30-90% fatality in just 130ish years. It was so bad that it was a commonly held belief that the Indigenous Australians would soon die out. But by about 1930, those Indigenous Australians who had survived had acquired better resistance to imported diseases, and birthrates began to rise again as communities were able to adapt to changed circumstances.

~~~

However, Indigenous Australians were systematically discriminated against. Read the book or watch the movie, Rabbit-Proof Fences. Aborigines were not even given the right to vote until 1962.

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Finally, though, in 1992, the Australian High Court handed down its decision in the Mabo Case, declaring the previous legal concept of terra nullius to be invalid. That decision legally recognized certain land claims of Indigenous Australians in Australia prior to British Settlement. Later, legislation was subsequently passed to recognize Native Title claims over land in Australia.

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Also on this day, May 13, 1948, the Kfar Etzion massacre occurred in the British Mandate of Palestine. The massacre occurred after a two-day battle in which Jewish Kfar Etzion kibbutz residents and Haganah militia fought a combined force of the Arab Legion and local Arab men. Allegedly, the Kfar Etzion Massacre was motivated by revenge for the Deir Yassin massacre of Arabs several months earlier by Jews. Another example of the cycle of ethnoreligious violence…. Whether it be Ireland, IsraeloPalestine, or even Uzbekistan.

~~~

You see, on this day, May 13, 2005, Uzbek Interior Ministry (MVD) and National Security Service (SNB) troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan, Uzbekistan.

Estimated fatalities range from 187 to 1500… Some of the bodies were hidden in mass graves, others were thrown into the Karasu River. Still, other bodies were allegedly flown out of the city on 18 flights to hide the extent of the massacre…

The Uzbek government said the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had organized the protest, while others have argued that the Islamist radical label is just a pretext for the repressive regime and policies. There is certainly continued political conflict between secular absolutist powers and Islamic fundamentalists. Whether the Islamic fundamentalists are terrorists is another story, after all, are Christian fundamentalists terrorists? Are fundamentalists Orthodox Jews all terrorists? Clearly, there are violent fundamentalists in all religions, but it’s often too quick of a go-to excuse for politicians to play the terrorist card.

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Finally, another explanation or interpretation of the mass slaughter involves the inter-clan struggle between the Tashkent-Ferghana clan alliance and the rival Samarkand clan… Shockingly, another example of ethnoreligious and ideological violence in our world.

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Listen, I know that, like Billy Joel, we didn’t start the fire, ethnoreligious and political violence is a part of everyone’s history, ever since the world’s been turning, but let’s see the patterns of behavior, call it out when we see it, own our own demographic tribal sins, and then, maybe, just maybe we can better understand what happened… This Day in Today…

Thank you for listening!

Remember, Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.
My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor

A German Rabbi, Nazis, + Irish Music (May 10th)

~May 10~

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. As a young rabbi in Berlin, Prinz was forced to confront the rise of Nazism.

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One of those events in the rise of Nazism, “The Säube-rung” also occurred on, this day, May 10, in the year 1933. German students initiated a purge of books by fire… Estimates are that upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books were burned. This “student-led” event was the culmination of efforts by the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union efforts a month earlier… Starting on April 8, 1933, the students union had proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit.”

All across Germany, Nazi officials as well as professors, rectors, and student leaders addressed the participants and spectators. At the book burnings, students threw the pillaged, banned books into the bonfires with an almost concert festival atmosphere that included live music, singing, “fire oaths,” and incantations. In Berlin alone, some 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver that famous fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”

~~~

Eventually, Rabbi Prinz emigrated to the United States in 1937 and, at least personally, he escaped the rising tide of Nazism. In America, Prinz became outspoken against Nazism and was an active member of the World Zionist Organization and the World Jewish Congress… By the late 1950s, and through the 1960s, Prinz was also the President of the American Jewish Congress…

Dr. Prinz devoted much of his life in the United States to the Civil Rights movement. He saw the plight of African American and other minority groups in the context of his own experience under Hitler.

From his early days in Newark, a city with a very large minority community, he spoke from his pulpit about the disgrace of discrimination. He joined the picket lines across America protesting racial prejudice from unequal employment to segregated schools, housing, and all other areas of life.

Also, while serving as President of the American Jewish Congress, he represented the Jewish community as one of the organizers of the great August 28, 1963, March on Washington. Prinz came to the podium immediately following a stirring spiritual sung by the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and just before Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his immortal speech, “I Have a Dream.”

In his speech, Prinz argued in the face of discrimination, “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

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Also, in the 60s, specifically on this day, May 10, 1960, Paul David Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. While his mother was Iris Rankin was a member of the Church of Ireland, his father was, Brendan Robert “Bob” Hewson, a Roman Catholic. Kinda like the inverse of the great song “The Orange and the Green” also known as “The Biggest Mix-Up.” “Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen My father he was orange and my mother she was green.” This dual religious parentage gave Hewson a unique perspective on The Troubles.

Hewson soon established himself as a passionate frontman for his band through his expressive vocal style and grandiose gestures and songwriting. His lyrics are known for their social and political themes, and for their religious imagery inspired by his Christian beliefs. During the early years, Hewson’s lyrics contributed to the group’s rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with the other members. Hewson and his band have received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hewson is known as an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman, and philanthropist. More importantly, Hewson is widely known for his activism for social justice causes. He is particularly active in campaigning for Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red. In pursuit of these causes, he has participated in benefit concerts and met with influential politicians including John Hume, David Trimble, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

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On May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president… Rabbi Prinz, a man who experienced ethnoreligious bigotry… who came to the United States and stood up for African-American rights… living through the tumultuous 60s, when Paul Hewson was born… Paul Hewson, who became a social justice leader himself… using his social status to raise up issues and people of justice. One of those people, Nelson Mandela, who lived up to the promise… but also, Aung San Suu Kyi, who, at least at this point, seems to have stumbled. But who am I to judge, as I mentioned yesterday, US President John F. Kennedy once said, “No one has a right to grade a President — not even poor James Buchanan — who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made decisions.”

On this day, May 10, 1902, Joachim Prinz was born in the Prussian province of Silesia. Nazism got a bit stronger on this day, May 10, 1933. But on May 10, 1960, a bright spot; Paul Hewson was born in Dublin, Ireland. And on May 10, 1994, one of those influential politicians friends of Bono, Nelson Mandela, was inaugurated as South Africa’s first sub-Saharan black president…

And that’s what happened This Day in Today…

Remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

May 7th ~ Mass Graves in Iraq and the Rohingya

~May 7~

  On this day, May 7, 2016, UN Special Representative Ján Kubiš said more than 50 mass graves have so far been found in parts of Iraq that were previously controlled by so-called Islamic State (IS).  Ján Kubiš is a Slovak diplomat and was formerly Secretary-General of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued killings, kidnapping, rape and torture of Iraqis by ISIL (IS), which may constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide.”

Ján Kubiš

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Mass graves and ethnic cleansing is not new in Iraq. After the deposing of Saddam Hussein, International Experts found an estimated 300,000 victims in mass graves of Shia Muslims and ethnic Kurds killed for opposing the regime between 1983 and 1991.

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In April 2007, a bus in Mosul was hijacked, Muslims and Christians were told to get off, the remaining 23 Yazidi passengers were driven to an eastern Mosul location and murdered.

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Then ISIS/ISIL/IS came to town… Hawija, Kirkuk, Mosul… you name it….

…2014, the peak of the Yazidi Genocide. Civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar… hundred of Yazidi women were taken as slaves and over hundreds more men, women, and children were killed, some beheaded or buried alive in the foothills, as part of an effort to instill fear and to supposedly desecrate the mountain the Yazidis consider sacred.

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The mass flight and expulsion of ethnic Assyrians from Iraq…  beginning before ISIS, back during the Iraq War in 2003, but continues to this day. Leaders of Iraq’s Assyrian community estimate that over two-thirds of the Iraqi Assyrian population has fled or been internally displaced. Reports suggest that whole neighborhoods of Assyrians have cleared out in the cities of Baghdad and Basra; and that Sunni insurgent groups and militias have threatened Assyrian Christians over the years. Following the campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq in August 2014, one-quarter of the remaining Iraqi Assyrians fled, finding refuge to Iraqi Kurdistan, and, ironically in Turkey…

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On February 3, 2016, the European Union recognized the persecution of Christians by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as genocide. The vote was unanimous. The United States followed suit on March 15, 2016, declaring these atrocities as genocide. The vote was unanimous. On April 20, 2016, British Parliament voted unanimously to denounce the actions as genocide. And where are those voices today as the Rohingya are murdered, assaulted, and exiled in Burma?

The ability of the predominantly Christian countries and the mostly Christian members of the US Congress’ to recognize a Christian genocide but not Muslim genocide is almost as self-serving as those perpetrating religious and ethnic violence against civilians around the world. It is a manifestation of the selective indignation, selective application of legal principals, and the inability to see all men and women as sisters and brothers.

If you’ve never read it, read Jeff Stein’s piece from October 17, 2006, in the New York Times. Still, to this day, one of the best and most disturbing journalistic articles. Willie Hulon, chief of the FBI’s national security branch, Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis, Chair of the House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, Congressman Terry Everett, Vice Chair of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence. The very people who voted to invade Iraq. Don’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shi’as. Do we think they know the difference between an Assyrian-Iraqi, a Kurdish-Iraqi, a Yezidi-Iraqi, and an Arab Iraqi?

https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/opinion/17stein.html

~~~

It’s easy to blame the crimes against humanity on the sectarian violence in Iraq, but those same pointing fingers seem to avoid asking the question of who destabilized the region and who armed Saddam Hussein with all those weapons in the 1980s. Perhaps it’s time to think more about American national responsibility, than labeling other acts of violence as genocide. After all, those Americans who identified the Assyrian Genocide so correctly are woefully silent on asking what happened to the pre-Columbian Native Americans population of the United States or even, if you want to stick to a more recent century, what happened to the Armenians in 1915. The same Administration that labeled the Assyrian, Yazidi crimes against humanity as a genocide, has not called the 1915 massacres by our Turkish allies a genocide… I mean, sure, they call it a genocide on the campaign trail while pandering for votes, but Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton all seem to have genocidal amnesia once entering the Oval Office.

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Yes, on this day, May 7, 2016, UN envoy Ján Kubiš condemned the continued killings, kidnapping, rape, and torture of Iraqis which he said might constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and even genocide. Would that he was wrong. Would that the ethnic and religious genocides in Iraq and around the world were limited to time and space. Sadly, humanity’s propensity to kill itself, is matched only by our ability to be blind to the blood on our own hands and deny genocide when it’s insignificant. After all, its not 2016 anymore. Its 2018, and genocide has now reared it’s evil in Burma, where are the same clamoring voices speaking out against the Rohingya Genocide now?

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

John 15: 9-17

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Gospel of John 15:9-17

“Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

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IF

“If,” No, this is not about the Christopher Moore’s Gospel According to Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Best Friend, but about “If.” The state of possibility. But what is “IF”?

“If” is typically half of a conditional statement. It is half of an agreement, if – then, right? Therefore, like the good legalese Pharise,es as the Jewish scholars are portrayed in the New Testament, we can reason that if we do X, then Jesus will do Y.

Correct?

But that’s not what the line from this allegorical gospel says, is it?

Let’s read it again together: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there’s no then, then, is there?

The point is what we, as good little literalists expect to see and read, is simply not there. It does not say If you keep my commandments, THEN you will remain in my love. Oh, but Tom, is there, but it’s just understood! Like the grammatical rule of the invisible YOU UNDERSTOOD, the THEN is there, it’s just not written out…

Now, I’m not a scholar of ancient Greek, so forgive me if I stick to the text as its written today, but, what if, it’s NOT an accident? What if the statement is intended as written: If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love… that the onus is not on us to complete a contractual agreement, but the continuation of a relationship and a state of harmonious being.

Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the Gospel of John; don’t get me wrong, it is such beautiful prose… but when I stop listening to the flowery language and read the text, I have visions of a high Christology Super Jesus and the fiery pits of Dante’s hell and the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I see hand-held signs at sports stadiums declaring, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

THAT whoever believes shall not perish…”

~~~

IF you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”

So what if I don’t believe or keep the commandments? I suppose that’s always been my problem… I’ve always considered John to be a veiled threat. OK, maybe not so veiled, after all, the next line shortly after John 3:16 is: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” You see my problem… or, maybe you don’t…

Yes, the Catholic Church, in particular, teaches that people must accept Jesus to enter the Kingdom of God. But the Catechism also says, “the window of Heaven is also open to those “who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart.”

What about atheists who are aware of Christian teaching but still don’t subscribe? What about people like those who may live in a culturally Christian society but who has no use for irrational dogma?” The key concept that many supposed orthodox who profess to be Christian seem to miss is the understanding behind Line 847 of the Catholic Catechism, as already stated, that none of us know anything about the personal experiences of one another, experiences or intellectual hang-ups, hurt, anger, or questions… Who are we to know each other’s hearts and minds?

If we accept the Catholic Church’s teaching, and that’s just one perspective, but if we start here, we presume that the received Good News was authentic… what about if someone was abused by a representative of the Church, someone in a war zone who sees bombs dropped by Christian soldiers, someone who witnesses a crime committed by a purported believer at a formative age, etc., etc. These are all inauthentic experiences of the Good News which would mean that Heaven would still be open to those “who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart.”

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And yet, not all our Christian sisters and brothers would probably agree. For the sake of argument, however, let’s consider an alternative.

What if John, with all his If’s and That’s, what if John is not a veiled threat of suffering and hell, but an invitation of love and a no-strings-attached invitation to a state of being. What if, as Paul VI stated in Nostra aetate, all people of good will and good faith are welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven?

Yes, the consortium of John writes, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” Amen, my friends, what if that is as easy as it is!! Keep the Commandments, remain in the state of love! Just as Jesus, our translation of his name Yeshua exists, in a state of God’s love!

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[For contextual purposes, let us remember that the Gospel and Epistles of John were as famed British Methodist scholar C. K. Barrett, and later Fr. Raymond E. Brown of Union Theological Seminary, as both theologians pointed out, a Johannine community most likely wrote those parts of the New Testament ascribed to St John, the Beloved. The Gospel of John, being the last of the canonical Gospels, was written after Christianity and Judaism had separated, and, particularly in the regions of Judea, were now rivals… thus, John is written with a bit of an “us v them” competition, so perhaps that’s where the veiled and not-so-veiled threats come from? It is not exactly the same in the Gospel of Matthew, for example, which is written more to invite and entreat Jews of the early 1st century C.E. So, yes, John is more allegorical and have more articulated/implied consequences than the Synoptics, and is written later, but John also continues the evangelical call for all people to hear and accept the Good News.]

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Interestingly, in the passage of John that we are discussing, Jesus distinguishes between the Father’s commandments, what we call the 10 Commandments, and Jesus’ commandments, what he refers to a “my commandments” and later, even more specifically, he says “This is my command.” It seems to me that a lot of our sisters and brothers who may congratulate themselves for “following Jesus” may have read this passage a bit too quickly because, if I’m reading this correctly, Jesus has said that:

If you keep my commandments (which he lists in the next line is the commandment to love one another) you will remain in my love.

My brothers and sisters, it seems that, even if you’re still holding out hope for that missing “then” part of the If statement… even if it were here, some of us, including my self might be in trouble. For if it’s the Ten Commandments that I’m being judged on, I’m doing pretty well… Don’t Kill, check, don’t covet thy neighbors donkey, check, honor the Sabbath, well we’re here right now, aren’t we?

But, if its Jesus commandment to love one another that we’re being judged upon, then Dante’s Hell and Bosch’s paintings are getting a little scarier right now… and, is it me? Or is it getting a little warmer in here too? (Smile)

I confess, I have judged people for how to dress, how well they speak, and other superficial characteristics that I would not want to be judged upon.

I sadly can tell you that I have avoided making eye contact with people who are homeless and the needy.

My family can definitely tell you that I have lost patience at times and may have even raised my voice once in the distant, distant past…

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Friends, I am aware that the Golden Rule is not repeated anywhere in the Gospel of John, but does any one of us believe that the Golden Rule, then does not exist?

Amen ,I say to you, if the Golden Rule is real, if we are to do unto one another as we would hope that they doo unto us, then, should or WOULD God be any different? If we believe that God is a merciful God, a God of Forgiveness, and a God of the Washing of the Feet, yes, that God. Would THAT God not uphold the Golden Rule of the Universe… No, I do not think that God inspired the wring of John to build a relationship with us based upon fear or conditions, nor threaten us with hell…

For, in the very next part of today’s reading, as I’ve already pointed out, says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That is a relationship of love and sacrifice.

~~~

One of my many favorite stories of heroism, in 2015, New England Patriots Vince Wilfork, was leaving Gillette Stadium after the AFC title game, and saw a car, overturned on the side of the road, pulled over to the accident and carried the driver to safety… do you know, apparently, he didn’t even ask the woman if she was a Patriots’ fan?

In 2016, I watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge about the life of Desmond Doss… you know what? Shockingly- there are no records of Doss doing any quick 10 Commandments “check-in” before he saved any of the 50–75 wounded soldiers he carried to safety.

Just last year, in the chaos of the Congressional Baseball Shooting, I don’t remember Brad Wenstrup checking with Steve Scalise about his charitable donations as he fought to control the bleeding in Scalise’s wounded thigh.

And just two weeks ago, James Shaw Jr. ended that deadly shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House before more lives were lost. Does anyone here think he counted off the sins of the bystanders while counting the number of rounds and waiting for the moment to take wrestle the gun away before anyone else was hurt?

Sure, these events are remarkable stories of heroism, but also of the Golden Rule. Every day in this country and around the world, there are house fires and tragic car accidents. And, as far as I know, first responders don’t check the church attendance of those in car accidents or burning homes… Would our God be any different?

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Amen, I say to you, John 15:9-17 is NOT a story of exclusion, self-congratulations, and hubris. It is a story is IF. It is a story not just invitation, but IF-vitation. Join me; join the “if” – and together, we will uncover the meaning of what it means “remaining in God’s love.

If/That, and God… Amen.