Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Are we inherently "spiritual" from the very beginning?

Sacred minds

Though spirituality may be inherent, connections of doctrine and biology create the whole person

By Julia C. Keller
(December 16, 2005)

Catholic theology says that all people - including children - are considered spiritual. And now neurological evidence shows that inherent brain biology and neuron connections formed during childhood may greatly influence how people develop spiritually.

The research says that even though spirituality may start out as biology and develop through learning, these connections inevitably work together over a lifetime to create the whole person.

"The child's spirituality cannot be dissected from the cognitive, emotional, moral or behavioral," said Dr. Judith Hughes, a former psychiatry professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

All these factors contribute to spiritual development in order to get a complete picture, but currently the information isn’t shared across disciplines, said Dr. Daniel Siegel, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.

Understanding children’s spiritual development is much like the story of the blind men describing an elephant, said Siegel. Even agreeing on basic definitions for words like "mind" is difficult because each of scientific discipline has a clear idea of what reality is, Siegel said.

"The anthropologist might understand the tail, and the neuroscientists might be convinced of the trunk," he said. Siegel said that pinning the tail on what he called "the entire elephant of human existence" couldn't be attributed to just genetics or environment but the interplay of both.

In the beginning …

The mind first develops as the "genetically programmed maturation of the nervous system is shaped by ongoing experience," Siegel said. This gene-environment interaction happens as early as gestation in the womb, he said.

The environment in the womb affects how proteins from the genes are transcribed, Hughes said — beginning with the start of the protein's code called the promoter region. "Every gene has a promoter region which the maternal environment influences," she said.

As fetuses develop, almost one-third of our genetic material is involved in the formation of the brain, according to Siegel. "For a little organ, that’s a huge amount of real estate to be devoted to one thing," he said.

As the brain forms, "the major thrust of the architecture in the womb is genetic," Siegel said, adding that by seven months, the fetus begins to make connections in the brain that are driven not only by genes but also by sensory experience.

Therefore, spirituality may be hard-wired, said Hughes, quoting Dr. Herbert Benson, founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Chestnut Hill, Mass. "Spirituality is seen as an innate human trait that is very much like a drive. It's a longing, a hunger for a connection with the transcendent and the divine," Hughes said.

David Fagerberg, a Catholic liturgical theologian at the University of Notre Dame, reinforced the idea of inherent spirituality.

When theologians talk about being "made in the image of God," Fagerberg challenged that the phrase should really be stated as "I am as imago Dei." That language conveys that people exist in a dependent relationship with God, he said. "But for being imago Dei, I would not be."

People innately have aspects of God, said Fagerberg, pointing to the writings of Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century Catholic theologian. "The human being is microcosmic," Fagerberg said. Being a microcosm of God, he said, "does not mean a fraction of the whole, it means that everything in the whole can be found here in a smaller scale."

However,"spirituality can never be limited to just the intrinsic," said Hughes, who is an educator in the Catholic theology-inspired Montessori school system.

Free will method in Catholic liturgy supports this idea, Fagerberg said. "The unique qualities of reason and free will are given to man and woman so they can fulfill their unique ministry."

Neurology, too, confirms the idea of nature as well as nurture in spiritual development, Siegel said. Before birth, the brain stem is the site of much of the neuron development. But the brain’s cortex and neocortex, where complex-level functions like cognition occur, have little integration of neurons. "At the time of birth what this means is that our brains are incredibly immature. The connection among the neurons hasn't been established," he said.

Growing spiritual from birth

"In the first three years of life, the cortex is developing with a giant push for the creation of synapses" that are based on underlying genetics interacting with new experiences that cement them into the neural network, according to Siegel.

Evidence in biology also resonates with theology, said Fagerberg. "We are incomplete by God’s design so we can cooperate with God in our own development," he said, referring to Gregory of Nyssa’s metaphor of spiritual development as coloring in a sketch. "We cooperate with God in finishing our portrait,” Fagerberg said. “This allows for maximum individuality, as each human being colors his portrait with virtues."

Because humans are relational beings, Fagerberg said, children's spirituality must be developed within loving relationships with the people in their worlds. "For the person to reach his final potential, divine love must bring forward a divine existence," he said.

But even with the right mix of spirituality, biology and environment, Hughes cautioned that satisfaction is not guaranteed. "I wish I could say if you provided the child with the perfect environment you would get a perfect child," she said.

Parents may feel this imperfection most acutely with their teenagers, said Siegel. This in part has to do with a teenager’s biology. The brain undergoes another intense neural connection formation during puberty, he said. "It isn’t so much hormones that make adolescents insane, it's that their prefrontal cortexes become a reconstruction site," said Siegel, adding that this reconstruction may continue through the mid to late 20s.

Throughout their lives people continue to learn, Siegel said. Therefore, “we create new synaptic connections throughout the seasons of our life.” Continual interpersonal interactions over lifetimes, :create the neural connection from which the mind emerges," he said.

This concept of continual growth resonates with what Catholicism describes as homo viator — a being on the way. "You’re never done, you’re always on the way," said Fagerberg. "By the correct exercise of free will, we progress toward a greater and greater likeness of our creator with maximum individuality."

Julia C. Keller is science editor at Science & Theology News, web site.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Davinci Code: The Truth at the Heart of the Matter.

The Truth at the Heart of 'The Da Vinci Code'

by Elaine Pagels

Archbishop Angelo Amato, a top Vatican official, recently railed against The Da Vinci Code as a work "full of calumnies, offenses and historical and theological errors." As a historian, I would agree that no reputable scholar has ever found evidence of author Dan Brown's assertion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child, and no scholar would take seriously Brown's conspiracy theories about the Catholic group Opus Dei.

But what is compelling about Brown's work of fiction, and part of what may be worrying Catholic and evangelical leaders, is not the book's many falsehoods.

What has kept Brown on the bestseller list for years and inspired a movie is, instead, what is true – that some views of Christian history were buried for centuries because leaders of the early Catholic Church wanted to present one version of Jesus' life: theirs.

Some of the alternative views of who Jesus was and what he taught were discovered in 1945 when a farmer in Egypt accidentally dug up an ancient jar containing more than 50 ancient writings. These documents include gospels that were banned by early church leaders, who declared them blasphemous.

It is not surprising that The Da Vinci Code builds on the idea that many early gospels were hidden and previously unknown. Brown has said that part of his inspiration was one of these so-called Gnostic Gospels as presented in a book I wrote on the subject. It took only three lines from the Gospel of Philip to send Brown off to write his novel:

The companion of the savior is Mary Magdalene. And Jesus loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often... The rest of the disciples were jealous, and said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?"

Those who have studied the Gospel of Philip see it as a mystical text and don't take the suggestion that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene literally.

Still, by homing in on that passage and building a book around it, Brown brought up subjects that the Catholic Church would like to avoid. He raised the big what-ifs: What if the version of Jesus' life that Christians are taught isn't the right one? And perhaps as troubling in a still-patriarchal church: What if Mary Magdalene played a more important role in Jesus' life than we've been led to believe, not as his wife perhaps, but as a beloved and valued disciple?

In other words, what Brown did with his runaway hit was popularize awareness of the discovery of many other secret gospels, including the Gospel of Judas that was published in April.

There have long been hints that the New Testament wasn't the only version of Jesus' life that existed, and that even the gospels presented there were subject to misinterpretation. In 1969, for instance, the Catholic Church ruled that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, as many people had been taught. The church blamed the error on Pope Gregory the Great, who in 591 A.D. gave a sermon in which he apparently conflated several women in the Bible, including Mary Magdalene and an unnamed sinner who washes Jesus' feet with her tears.

But even that news didn't reach all Christians, and it is the rare religious leader who now works hard to spread the word that the New Testament is just one version of events crafted in the intellectual free-for-all after Christ's death. At that time, church leaders were competing with each other to figure out what Christ said, what he meant -- and perhaps most important, what writings would best support the emerging church.

What we know now is that the scholars who championed the "Gnostic" gospels are among the ones who lost the battle.

In the decades after Jesus' death, these texts and many others were circulating widely among Christian groups from Egypt to Rome, Africa to Spain, and from today's Turkey and Syria to France. So many Christians throughout the world knew and revered these books that it took more than 200 years for hardworking church leaders who denounced the texts to successfully suppress them.

The copies discovered in 1945, for example, were taken from the sacred library of one of the earliest monasteries in Egypt, founded about 10 years after the conversion of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to join the fledgling church. For the first time, Christians were no longer treated as members of a dangerous and seditious group and could form open communities in which many lived together. Like monks today, they kept in their monastery libraries a very wide range of books they read aloud for inspiration.

But these particular texts appeared to upset Athanasius, then archbishop of Alexandria; in the year 367 he sent out an Easter Letter to monks all over Egypt ordering them to reject what he called "illegitimate and secret books." Apparently, some monks at the Egyptian monastery defied the archbishop's order and took more than 50 of the books out of the library, sealed them in a heavy jar and buried them under the cliff where they were found 1,600 years later.

In ordering the books destroyed, Athanasius was continuing the battle against the "Gnostic" gospels begun 200 years earlier by his revered predecessor, Bishop Irenaeus, who was so distressed that certain Christians in his congregations in rural Gaul (present day France) treasured such "illegitimate and secret writing" that he labeled them heretics. Irenaeus insisted that of the dozens of writings revered by various Christians, only four were genuine -- and these, as you guessed already, are those now in the New Testament, called by the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Irenaeus said there could be only four gospels because, according to the science of the time, there were four principal winds and four pillars that hold up the sky. Why these four gospels? He explained that only they were actually written by eyewitnesses of the events they describe -- Jesus' disciples Matthew and John, or by Luke and Mark, who were disciples of the disciples.

Few scholars today would agree with Irenaeus. We cannot verify who actually wrote any of these accounts, and many scholars agree that the disciples themselves are not likely to be their authors. Beyond that, nearly all the gospels that Irenaeus detested are also attributed to disciples -- some, including the Gospel of Thomas, to the original 12 apostles. Nonetheless, Athanasius and other church leaders succeeded in suppressing the gospels they (and Irenaeus) called illegitimate, won the emperor's favor and succeeded in dominating the church.

What, then, do these texts say, and why did certain leaders find them so threatening?

First, they suggest that the way to God can be found by anyone who seeks. According to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus suggests that when we come to know ourselves at the deepest level, we come to know God: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you." This message – to seek for oneself – was not one that bishops like Irenaeus appreciated: Instead, he insisted, one must come to God through the church, "outside of which," he said, "there is no salvation."

Second, in texts that the bishops called "heresy," Jesus appears as human, yet one through whom the light of God now shines. So, according to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, "I am the light that is before all things; I am all things; all things come forth from me; all things return to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there; lift up a rock, and you will find me there." To Irenaeus, the thought of the divine energy manifested through all creation, even rocks and logs, sounded dangerously like pantheism. People might end up thinking that they could be like Jesus themselves and, in fact, the Gospel of Philip says,

"Do not seek to become a Christian, but a Christ.'' As Irenaeus read this, it was not mystical language, but "an abyss of madness, and blasphemy against Christ."

Worst of all, perhaps, was that many of these secret texts speak of God not only in masculine images, but also in feminine images. The Secret Book of John tells how the disciple John, grieving after Jesus was crucified, suddenly saw a vision of a brilliant light, from which he heard Jesus' voice speaking to him: "John, John, why do you weep? Don't you recognize who I am? I am the Father; I am the Mother; and I am the Son." After a moment of shock, John realizes that the divine Trinity includes not only Father and Son but also the divine Mother, which John sees as the Holy Spirit, the feminine manifestation of the divine.

But the Gospel of Mary Magdalene -- along with the Gospel of Thomas, the Dialogue of the Savior, and the Gospel of Philip -– all show Peter, the leader of the disciples, challenging the presence of women among the disciples. We hear Peter saying to Jesus, "Tell Mary to leave us, because women are not worthy of (spiritual) life." Peter complains that Mary talks too much, displacing the role of the male disciples. But Jesus tells Peter to stop, not Mary! No wonder these texts were not admitted into the canon of a church that would be ruled by an all-male clergy for 2,000 years.

Those possibilities opened by the "Gnostic" gospels -- that God could have a feminine side and that Jesus could be human -- are key ideas that Dan Brown explored in "The Da Vinci Code," and are no doubt part of what made the book so alluring. But the truth is that the texts he based his novel upon contain much deeper and more important mysteries than the ones Tom Hanks tries to solve in the movie version that opened this weekend.

The real mystery is what Christianity and Western civilization would look like had the "Gnostic" gospels never been banned. Because of the discovery by that Egyptian farmer in 1945, we now at least have the chance to hear what the "heretics" were saying, and imagine what might have been.

Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, is a professor of religion at Princeton. She wrote this article for the Perspective section of the San Jose Mercury News.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Loss and Hope, a Horse and a Country, by Marcel

Published on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
Of Loss and Hope
by Joyce Marcel

With all the unnecessary carnage in Iraq, the babies blown to bits, the blood feuds, the women mowed down by rifles, the estimated 2,455 Americans dead, the estimated 19,000 to 48,000 Americans returning without arms, legs, or eyes, along with the horror of Darfur, the AIDS epidemic in India, Africa, Russia, and China - in fact, with the immense amount of human suffering on the planet, I'm having a hard time explaining to myself how I got so worried about a horse.

The horse, of course, of course, was the undefeated Barbaro.

Barbaro thrilled me in the Florida Derby, where he danced out ahead of everyone else. I won money on him in the Kentucky Derby. I had several bets on him, including a few exactas, in the Preakness.

Oh, he was rambunctious on Preakness day, finely tuned, full of energy and heart. Like an Olympic speed skater he jumped the gun at the starting gate, then broke clean at the true start and began cutting through the field.

All eyes were on him then, and I don't just mean the steady track-rat viewers of ESPN, or the johnny-come-lately NBC crowd, or the 118,442 drunken fans in the infield at Pimlico. He seemed like a natural to win the Triple Crown, and because of that the eyes of the whole country were on him.

So, moments after the Preakness began in earnest, when Barbaro's jockey, Edgar Prado, pulled him up, jumped off, and held him steady, and as trainer Mike Matz dashed out of the stands with an anguished look on his face, everyone was aghast. This was a blessed horse. and in front of all of us the blessing fled.

The race continued. It was won by Bernardini -hold on for the irony here - owned by Sheik Mohammad, the fascinating and hawk-eyed ruler of oil-rich Dubai.

But most of us were no longer focused on the race. Instead, we were heartsore and horrified. Barbaro had three breaks in his leg. One bone fractured into 20 pieces. Gloom set in where anticipation had been drinking Champagne.

"It's only a horse," some people shrugged. "That's horse racing," said others.

For many others, though, depression followed. A black cloud descended on me, I can tell you that. And it wasn't a gloom brought on by the winning tickets I wouldn't be cashing. It was about seeing something so bright and fine and eager cut down in its prime.

Barbaro was starting to look more and more like a symbol.

But a symbol of what, I wondered?

In the same way that the Depression needed Seabiscuit, I decided, America needed Barbaro now.

It's not a perfect comparison. Seabiscuit was a beaten-down horse who was rescued and allowed to be the winner that he always was inside. He was a metaphor for all the whipped, jobless, hungry Americans who badly needed to be rescued and allowed to be the winners they always knew inside they could be. It was Roosevelt who rescued those Americans, and it was World War II they won for him.

Different times call for different metaphors. Barbaro was a million-dollar race horse, groomed and trained and primed and gleaming. He was unbeaten and everyone knew he was the strongest, fastest horse in the field.

Americans identified with Barbaro. We loved him. We needed him to win the Preakness. Then we needed him to win the Belmont Stakes, and then to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

We needed a superhorse, a horse that loved to run, a horse that could gladden our hearts and reflect back to us what we used to think was the best of ourselves - our strength, our beauty, our courage, our joy in the game, our speed, our heart. Reflect back to us the things that I think we now know, deep in our hearts, we have lost.

Outrage and anger has gotten me through the long, long years of the Bush Administration, through the lying and deceit and killing and looting and the destruction of our precious Constitution. Outrage and anger has gotten me through as I watch my fellow Americans become complicit in acts we have all loathed in others: as we torture, threaten and jail journalists, distribute propaganda, build high border walls and spy on our own citizens.

Outrage and anger as I watch America turn into Cold War East Germany - or the old U.S.S.R.

I thought outrage and anger would get me the rest of the way, but when Barbaro broke his leg - threatening his life and certainly ending his racing career - I recognized, with a shock, that the Bush years are irreparable, too. Real damage has been sustained. We can't just go in and fix things when Bush leaves office.

Maybe we can pay down the national debt - for all his faults, Bill Clinton managed to do that after the wastrel Reagan-Bush I years. Maybe we can get out of Iraq. Nixon, for all his faults, managed to get us out of Vietnam. But our hands will never be clean again: we will never be able to wash them of Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan or the innocents who have died in Iraq. We will never be a nation of jobs and homeowners again. We will not see a strong middle class again for a long, long time.

Barbaro underwent five hours of surgery. According to all reports, he's happy and frisky. He can even balance himself well enough to scratch his left ear with his left hind leg. But he'll never run again, splendid and strong, all heart and courage and soul.

And neither will America.

Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who lives in Vermont and writes about culture, politics and economics. A collection of her columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through http://www.joycemarcel.com. Or write her at joycemarcel@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Four Martyrs for the Labor Movement that we do not remember, please note:

May 16, 2006

Remembering the Haymarket Martyrs

By Charles Sullivan

Every now and then events transpire that cut through the rhetoric, the carefully contrived images purveyed in the press and historical texts, and reveal a nation’s dark soul in ghastly detail. Such an event occurred in the streets of Chicago on May 4, 1886, and continued through November 11 of 1887. They were set in motion years before.

At noon on that day four of labor’s most courageous warriors: Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel were hanged for a crime they did not commit. A fifth man, Louis Lingg, was slated to share the fate of his comrades but he cheated the hangman and the state of his innocent blood when he exploded a dynamite cap in his mouth from his jail cell just hours before the execution. The explosive had been smuggled in to him by an anarchist comrade. Another anarchist, Oscar Neebe, has sentenced to fifteen years of prison and hard labor. Three others had their death sentences commuted to life sentences.

In the U.S. only a relative few working class people know that Labor Day, originally May Day (May 1) originated with the hanging of these men. The rest of the world celebrates their heroism on May 1; however, the U.S. does not officially recognize their sacrifice by honoring them with a national holiday. Virtually every worker worldwide owes a tremendous debt to the Haymarket Martyrs, who provided the impetus and paid the ultimate price for many of the benefits that all workers, including the rank and file and upper management, now enjoy.

Those were tumultuous times not only in Chicago but all across America, when revolution was in the air and nationwide strikes crippled the burgeoning economy. In Chicago alone 400,000 were out on strike protesting not only reductions in wages but also demonstrating for the eight hour work day - one of the central organizing principles of the anarchist’s political philosophy. The Chicago anarchist movement that took root in 1884 was both strong and effective. Its leaders were skilled organizers and eloquent orators.

The Chicago police of the day were corrupt and routinely moved on the strikers at the behest of the business community, prodded by the daily newspapers. In those days companies had their own militias which were used to put down worker insurrections with coercion and violence. They also hired Pinkertons to intimidate and kill workers in order to prevent strikes and to maximize profits. But when the strikers began organizing militias for their own protection the state legislature outlawed them. The business militias, however, were allowed to continue their grim work, leaving the workers without protection and vulnerable. Strikers were routinely beaten, imprisoned and killed by their employers and the police.

On May 4, 1886, several unarmed strikers were shot dead by the Chicago police and hundreds were brutally beaten, including innocent bystanders at the McCormick Reapers Works. August Spies witnessed the affair with horror and righteous indignation. His comrades were being murdered in the streets and the killers did so with impunity. It seemed that all the forces of Chicago were arrayed against the working people.

An outraged August Spies organized a peaceful rally the following evening at the Haymarket Square. After beginning in clear moonlight, the weather suddenly turned cool and threatened rain, after a crowd of 3,000 gathered to hear the orators in the gathering gloom of the chilled night air. Standing upon a hay wagon near a lone street lamp the speakers berated the Chicago police for their indiscriminate killing of unarmed workers. Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison, a just and honest man, was in attendance. Satisfied that the gathering was peaceful and nearing conclusion, Mayor Harrison informed the chief of police, John Bonfield, who had sanctioned the shootings and mass beatings of the previous day, not to march on the group or disrupt their meeting.

It was getting late and the cold was penetrating when Albert Parsons and most of the speakers left the rally to warm themselves at Zephf’s Hall. Acting without legal authority, John Bonfield gathered a troop of 180 armed policemen and ordered them to disperse the dwindling crowd. After a mild verbal confrontation, Samuel Fieldon, who was speaking to the crowd when the police arrived, agreed to peacefully disperse. As Fieldon leaped down from the hay wagon, an unknown assailant hurled a stick of sizzling dynamite into the crowd of policemen. One officer was killed and six others died in the ensuing mayhem as the result of the panic stricken police firing indiscriminately into the fleeing crowd.

A reign of terror soon swept over Chicago in the aftermath of the Haymarket bombing. The press and the city’s business men, always hostile to the strikers, blamed the anarchists and the socialists and cried for their blood. The principal anarchists were quickly rounded up and put into jail, except for Parsons who, though far from the site of the incident, knew that Chicago’s business men demanded his head and skipped town.

Demonized in the press and the business community, the anarchists were immediately tried, convicted and executed in the Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers even before any evidence was gathered. The judge presiding over the trial did nothing to conceal his prejudice and hostility toward the accused. Twelve impartial jurors could not be found, so those who openly proclaimed the guilt of the accused were paid to judge the case. During the early stages of the trial Albert Parsons dramatically walked into the courtroom and took his place at the side of his comrades to face his fate with them.

With the impossibility of a fair trial, and the irrational fear that Chicago’s ruling elite felt toward immigrant social agitators, the men were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Predictably, the trial was a farce, a media circus and a travesty of justice. The jury consisted of businessmen, their clerks and a relative of one of the dead policemen. Not a single working man or woman was selected for the jury.

No evidence was produced to link any of the accused with the bombing during the trial. None of them were at or near the scene of the crime. No evidence was brought forth to demonstrate that the anarchists had conspired to incite violence that evening. But they were anarchists and socialists, a threat to capital, and they were bound to hang for their political views.

State attorney Julius Grinnell openly declared that anarchism was on trial. By hanging the anarchists, Grinnell reasoned, the sacred institutions of society would be saved. In essence, free speech and the right of peaceful assembly were also on trial. Laws to protect the rights of suspects were suspended and new precedents established to hasten their conviction. The real agenda of Chicago’s business community, however, was to put an end to the successful drive for the eight hour work day and to permanently demonize organized labor. It would require another fifty-one years for the eight hour work day to become law as part of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Just a few hours prior to the execution Albert Parsons wrote a friend that "The guard has just awakened me. I have washed my face and drank a cup of coffee. The doctor asked me if I wanted stimulants. I said no. The dear boys, Engel, Fischer and Spies, saluted me with firm voices. Well, my dear old comrade, the hour draws near. Caesar kept me awake last night with the noise, the music of the hammer and saw erecting his throne - my scaffold." Parsons remained awake most of the night singing one of his favorite songs, "Annie Laurie" in a soft, melancholy voice filled with emotion.

More than 200 reporters gathered to witness the execution, as did the citizenry. None of the friends or relatives of the anarchists were permitted to attend. Albert Parson's wife, Lucy, and their children were not permitted to bid their beloved husband and father a final farewell. Lucy Parsons was arrested in the attempt and taken to jail in another part of the city.

A few minutes before noon the four men were paraded onto the gallows scaffold. A reporter described the scene, "With a steady, unfaltering step a white robed figure stepped out…and stood upon the drop. It was August Spies. It was evident that his hands were firmly bound behind him beneath his snowy shroud." Another reporter wrote, "His face was very pale, his looks solemn, his expression melancholy, yet at the same time dignified." Fischer, Engel and Parsons followed in orderly procession. Another reporter noted that Parsons "Turned his big gray eyes upon the crowd below with such a look of awful reproach and sadness as it would not fail to strike the innermost chord of the hardest heart there. It was a look never to be forgotten."

The nooses were placed around the men's necks and muslin shrouds placed over their heads. The executioner took up the axe that would in a moment cut the rope and spring the trap doors upon which the four men stood, sending them into ancestry. There was apprehension in the air thick as soup. Four innocent men were about to be executed by the state. Just then a "mournful solemn voice sounded." It was August Spies speaking his final words, "The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today." Next, George Engel shouted in his native German tongue, "Hurrah for anarchy!" Adolph Fischer chimed, "This is the happiest day of my life." Just as Albert Parsons began to utter his final words that began, "Harken to the voice of the people," the executioner’s axe fell. The trap doors sprung open with a bang and the four men jerked violently on the end of their ropes and then dangled in the air.

None of them died quickly of broken necks, as was supposed to happen; they violently twisted and strangled to death over a period of several minutes, some of them kicking and writhing in agony. The captains of industry celebrated the death of the anarchists while the workers mourned for their fallen comrades. But the dream of the eight hour work day, while strangled, did not die with the Chicago anarchists. It lived on in the lives of Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood, who were inspired by the Haymarket Martyrs and went on to organize.

Some 600,000 workers turned out for the anarchist's funeral. Lucy Parsons was inconsolable in her grief and spent the remainder of her life continuing the work that she and Albert had begun years before in Texas and later Chicago. This was the event that precipitated the eight hour work day, the internationally celebrated May Day, and Labor Day in the U.S. It is tragic that so few working class people are aware of the tremendous price that the Haymarket Martyrs paid for the freedoms that so many of us take for granted today.

On June 26, 1893, newly elected Illinois Governor John Altgeld set the remaining anarchists free and cleared the names of the hanged. Altgeld, a fair minded man, after examining transcripts of the trial and reams of related documents declared that all of the anarchists were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Altgeld concluded that the hanged men had been victims of "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge." Later, evidence came to light that the dynamite may have been thrown by a police agent working for police captain Bonfield, as part of a conspiracy hatched by local business men to discredit the entire labor movement.

The state sponsored murder of the Haymarket anarchists, while particularly poignant, is by no means an isolated incident in American labor history. In the spring of 1886 America was on the verge of becoming something other than what she was. A new dawn in which working class people were on a par with business elites was almost within grasp and the eight hour work day virtually assured. Had justice prevailed that year in a hot Chicago courtroom and the normal procedures of the law followed, America would have been a very different place; a more just and peaceful future than the one we have now would have been possible and likely.

The entire Haymarket affair betrays the violent nature of capital and reveals its modus operandi. Aside from all the rhetoric about free speech and democracy, it exposes who runs the country, who makes the laws and who enforces them. It is capital, not we the people that are running things. Time and again the ugly side of America has been revealed when the status quo was threatened with real democracy. And it will happen again until the class struggle is finally resolved with just outcomes. The judgment of History has exonerated the fallen victims of predatory capital and indicted the real perpetrators of crimes against humanity, but who go unrepentant and unpunished.

Until millions of ordinary working class people awaken to the kind of country America really is, the death of Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer and George Engel will have been in vain. Workers the world over owes a great debt to these courageous men, whose lives, strangely, are celebrated abroad but scarcely known here. Unless we remember these men and honor what they did for us their sacrifice will have been in vain. We owe them nothing less and much more.

Author's note: I urge those who wish to know more about these events to read labor historian James Green's recently published book Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age Americ</span>a.

Authors Bio: Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina. He welcomes your comments at earthdog@highstream.net

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Monday, May 15, 2006

DaVinci Code: Intellectual dissent and the church: Why do hierarchs want you not to see this movie? (You might start asking questions . . .)

This story was taken from www.inq7.net

Intellectual dissent and the Church
First posted 11:22pm (Mla time) May 16, 2006
By Jaime Licauco

WHY is the Catholic Church in the Philippines panicking over a work of fiction? In the last three weeks, sermons of parish priests during Mass attacked Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” as well as National Geographic’s newly released translation of the Gospel of Judas.

Even Opus Dei, which earlier took a “no-comment” stance on the novel, reportedly was preparing an official answer to Brown’s fictitious portrayal of that organization as a murderous, shadowy and sinister Catholic sect. The movie version of the book will have a premiere on May 18.

Frankly, I couldn’t see what the fuss is all about. For me the “Da Vinci Code” is a cleverly written and exciting thriller with a religious theme. Some of the topics the author raised are admittedly based on speculation and fantasy. But a number of them are historically true.

The novel has been attacked vehemently by the religious community for a number of supposed theological and historical errors. But every fiction writer is entitled to a certain degree of poetic license. Brown is no exception.


It is part of a healthy democratic society to have differences of opinion. The problem with some apologists of the Church is that, in their attempt to discredit the novel, they tend to insult the author rather than stick to the issues.

One Catholic critic, for example, questioned Brown’s motives, saying he was only after the money, that’s why he chose a controversial subject. Another said the author “is obviously anti-Christian.”

Gee, all that Brown probably wanted to do was entertain his fellow Christians while provoking serious thought and stimulating discussion about the bases of their religious beliefs. Why should this produce so much anger and hostility from the religious hierarchy?

The problem, as I see it, is that the Catholic Church throughout its 2000-year history has never encouraged independent thinking and intellectual dissent among members. The faithful have always been treated like small children who cannot think for themselves. The Church cannot stand being questioned about its doctrines.

It is a matter of historical record that since the early formation and consolidation of the Christian Church in the fourth century, those who disagreed with official teachings were persecuted and banished by ecclesiastical authorities. Opposing beliefs were considered heretical, meaning, “not in conformity with the official teaching.” Worse, they were regarded as “false” or “erroneous” teachings.


The Church even established the dreaded Inquisition to run after heretics and burn them at the stake. Hundreds of thousands were put to death on mere suspicion of being either a heretic or in league with the devil, including the innocent and great warrior Joan of Arc.

At that time, the Church could easily impose its beliefs on the mostly ignorant people and prevent them from knowing other opinions because it had control over all means of communication. This is no longer possible today because of so many alternative sources of information available to the average Christian.

Although the office of the Holy Inquisition has long been dissolved, a good number of priests and the Church’s followers still have not gotten rid of the inquisitorial mentality. They still maintain a quaintly medieval way of thinking.

One local dentist, for example, who proudly calls himself a “defender of the faith,” recently lambasted Elaine Pagels, who has a doctorate degree in Religion from Harvard University, for her views on the Gnostic Gospels and the Gospel of Judas.


When I heard him speak during a symposium on the “Da Vinci Code” sponsored by a publishing house, I asked myself, “Between a doctor of dentistry and a doctor of religion, who should we believe when it comes to religious questions?” Elementary logic provides the obvious answer.

The Church has really nothing to worry about. Filipino Christians will not lose their faith because of a novel, or because of a newly found gospel, which deviates from the official teachings.

But Christian priests and ministers should be prepared to answer the many questions that the thinking population is bound to ask.

For example, why were Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot marginalized by the Church when they all played very important roles in the life and mission of Jesus? Why was Peter chosen to head the apostles when it was to Mary Magdalene that Jesus gave that assignment after his resurrection? Why do women play a very minor role in the Church, when Jesus obviously accorded them a special place when he was alive? What was the real relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus?

Jesus never once declared himself God. Who then declared him so? Is it not true that the books constituting the present Bible were decided by several councils beginning with the Council of Nicea in the year 325 AD? Weren’t there so many gospels existing at the time? Why were only four chosen? What was the basis for the choice?

Several hundred bishops attending the Council of Nicea disagreed with the official choice of what should constitute the Bible. They were promptly banished by Emperor Constantine with the obvious consent of the Pope. Is this a correct course of action sanctioned by God?

Many more questions will be asked by the faithful which should be addressed by the Church.

©2006 www.inq7.net all rights reserved

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Lunatic Fringe of Christianity, Wade.

May 12, 2006

The Lunatic Fringe of Christianity

By Anthony Wade

May 12, 2006

It is time for true Christians to stand up and say enough is enough. With each passing day we see the normalization of the extreme Christian right as the voice of Christ in latter day America. For years we only had to deal with the Jerry Falwell’s of the world claiming they were the mantle of modern day Christianity. They would say something bizarre and we would all shake our heads realizing that with each increasingly inane comment, they would lose more and more credibility. Pat Robertson would seemingly forget the Ten Commandments and call for the assassination of a world leader but we all knew that ole Pat hasn’t been dealing with a full deck for some time now. Anne Coulter says something insane about bombing people and converting them to Christianity but we all know she is 100% political, 0% Christian. The lunatic fringe as I like to call them have always been able to be taken for what they are, lunatics. The fact that they claim to come in the name of Christ, while unseemly, was always transparent.

Recently however, we see that the opponents of the right have been trying their best to “mainstream” the lunatic fringe as the voice of Christianity. In their zeal to speak out against the most corrupt administration in modern history, they have actually loaned credibility to the incredulous. Let’s set the record straight. President Bush ran to the Christian right and a great portion of them bought the package. Of course in this country, where we can only muster two coherent lines of political thought, they did not have much choice. The republicans and their media machine did a masterful job of boiling all of Christianity down to two social issues, abortion and gay marriage. The logic that followed is that any committed Christian could not possibly vote for a pro-choice, pro-gay candidate. They grabbed the mantle of “family values” and spoke to a heartland that longed for a simpler time in America. They packaged their man, prepped him, and sold him. Bush was born again after all. Forget the alcohol abuse, cocaine usage, and covering up his “youth.” He found Jesus. Now, as a born again believer myself, I would never question someone’s salvation. That is not my place. The Bible does tell us though that “by their fruit you shall know them.” Essentially God is instructing us that if you truly want to see the heart of a man, see what he bears in his life. Any fair analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush would have to conclude that he has not borne fruit that would be pleasing to God. Yes, he can tell us that Jesus is his “favorite philosopher” but that means little in the real world and as it says in the Book of James, “faith without works is dead.” Maybe the philosophical statement is more of an insight into how Bush actually views Christ, in more theoretical terms as opposed to deeds.

You must understand that the Christians in this country were probably just happy to have any candidate willing to say the name Jesus, let alone actually follow his teachings. They saw a man who swore he would tell us the truth, bring reform, and restore civility to what was a tumultuous atmosphere in Washington. They saw he took a stand on the two social issues, so they bought the whole package. Unfortunately, because of the trappings of the two party system in this country, they bought more than they were willing to pay for. In order to buy the pro-life and pro-family candidate, they also bought the pro-poverty and pro-war candidate. The ironic thing is that the one thing that God speaks about the most in the Bible is protecting “widows and orphans”, or the neediest in society. While abortion is a blight upon humanity for most Christians, aborting people at the age of 21 in the deserts of Iraq is not a moral victory. In a time when we have the richest and most progressive society, 30,000 children die every day for lack of clean drinking water or food in this world. Widows and orphans.

Make no mistake about it. There is very little “Christian” about this administration. The Bible gives clear instructions that the Gospel is to be brought to the four corners of the world, not this country. We are all God’s creation. While God certainly has blessed America, what have we done with those blessings? What has this administration done with them? Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not war. He spoke about forgiving those who wrong us seven times seventy times. His Sermon on the Mount taught us that it is the meek that shall inherit the earth. His Gospel message is one of love and reconciliation. Would Jesus have approved of handing back billions of dollars to the richest people in this country while the middle class becomes impoverished? As the Bible says, it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Why is that? Because the Word explains, we cannot serve two masters. This administration only serves one, and it is not Christ. Jesus becomes a sound bite. A name to throw out when visiting a church to curry votes. At the end of the day though, health care is a family value. Child care is a family value. Protecting the elderly is a family value. Being able to raise your children without working four jobs is a family value. Once President Bush met a woman at a campaign stop who said she was working four jobs and all Bush could say was that it was “uniquely American.” No Mr. President, it is uniquely sad.

On the other side, war is not a Christian venture. Promising poor youth a way to college when you know only 15% of them ever get their degrees and most will end up killing other human beings or being killed themselves, is not a Christian venture. Breaking over 750 laws is not a Christian venture. Destroying the planet God blessed us with is not a Christian venture. Allowing the Pentagon to have access to all the records of school age children to market the armed forces to them so the war machine keeps getting fed, is not a Christian venture. Lying to go to war is not a Christian venture. Trying to eliminate the social security system is not a Christian venture. Asking for 70 billion on tax breaks for the rich while in the same breath demanding 50 billion in cuts to services for the poor, is not a Christian venture. Doing all of this in the name of Christ however, is a venture that is devoid of values.

Is it surprising to hear such talk from a born again Christian? If you think so, it is only because you keep listening to the wrong ones. I know many people out there that feel the way I do. They write me emails every day bemoaning the fact that they have no voice. I wrote an article several months ago about the birth of the Red Letter Christian movement:


The concept was that so many people discussing Christ and Christian values on both sides needed to simply get back to the red letters in the Bible, the words of Jesus. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us who will be blessed. They include the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the merciful. Jesus did not mention the republicans, the democrats, the conservatives or the liberals. Jesus did not do politics. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God, what is God’s.

In this country we like to mix the two. The republican machine has done a brilliant job of using the Christian base for its own ends but the democrats seemingly do nothing to challenge it. Instead, they climb on their soapbox, angry with the self righteousness they do not have a right to posses and demonize anything that walks or talks like a Christian. They liken pastors, who try and save souls for the kingdom of God, as whores. They take the most extreme, insane rantings of the lunatic fringe of Christianity and apply a broad brush stroke across the foreheads of anyone who simply claims that they have been saved by the King of Kings. Suddenly, Christians are branded as sheep, unable to think for themselves. They are relegated to being labeled brainwashed, or having drunk the Kool-Aid. The simple acknowledgement of a higher authority that just might know better than us is marked as being simplistic; not realizing it takes far more wisdom to recognize the failings of man than to assume moral superiority based on nothingness. It is far easier to pick up a gun then surrender your will.

Anne Coulter does not represent Christianity. Neither does Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or George W. Bush. My Pastor does not, nor do I pretend to either. Only Christ can represent Christ. Only the Bible can represent Christ the man, not the philosopher. Only through His Gospel, the red letters, can you be saved. All I can do is tell you what He said and what He has done for me. The rest of this is just window dressing. The powers that be want you debating abortion and gay rights so they can sell you their wars and poverty. The lunatic fringe wants to sell you the notion that gays are responsible for your lot in life. They want you to believe God would approve of this war. That God, who created all mankind, would approve of the random slaying of 100,000 people for nothing more than a fairy tale about WMD. They would have you believe that the party that brought you Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay represent Christian values. But we know better than that. CHRISTIANS know better than that. Christians know who Christ was and what He stood for. They know what the lunatic fringe is and what they stand for.

I saw a comment once that summed it up pretty well for me. Republicans are very good at protecting you at birth and at death; they are just not that good with what lies between. If you really think about it though, that is what Jesus came to earth to instruct us on. Once you believe on Him, you already have eternal life so his teachings all revolved around what to do with this life we have been gifted with. His message was not one of hate. It was not one of war. It was not one of self-righteousness because without Christ, we have no righteousness. He was both liberal and conservative and also neither, all at the same time. He was the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, the way, the truth and the life.

In the last days, many will be deceived. It is bad enough that we have to hear the insane ravings of the lunatic fringe of Christianity. To then have those people who should know better lend them credibility by bestowing upon them the mantle of Christianity is beyond the pale. This is a call to action for the progressive movement in this country. Christians know right from wrong. They even know right from left. Stop muddying the issue by normalizing the lunatic fringe and you just may find true Christians lining up at your side. Maybe not on every issue. Maybe not for all time. But certainly long enough to unite this country again. Certainly long enough to believe in America again. Certainly long enough to push the lunatics away from the microphones and push the red letters back into focus.

Authors Bio: Anthony Wade, a contributing writer to opednews.com, is dedicated to educating the populace to the lies and abuses of the government. He is a 38-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional Rehabilitation Counselor working with the poor and disabled, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess. Anthony Wade’s Archive: http://www.opednews.com/archiveswadeanthony.htm Email Anthony: takebacktheus@gmail.com

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The secret undeclared war in the USA is against working Americans, by Howard Boyer

May 6, 2006

Democracy or Corpocracy?

The elimination of freedom and democracy for working Americans

By Howard Boyer

What is America a Democracy or are we now a Corpocracy?

A company characterized by top-heavy, isolated, risk-averse management, excess paperwork, low productivity, poor interdepartmental communication, but high expectations of employees, and lack of imagination, especially in product development and marketing.

The aloof and pampered executives who run today's autocratic and secretive corporate states have effectively become our sovereigns. From who gets health care to who pays taxes, from what's on the news to what's in our food, they have usurped the people's democratic authority and now make these broad social decisions in private, based solely on the interests of their corporations. Their attitude was forged back in 1882, when the villainous old robber baron William Henry Vanderbilt spat out: "The public be damned! I'm working for my stockholders." They were call Robber Barons in the 1880's by a free and independent media

"What my cabinet shows is that I am not afraid to surround myself with strong and competent people...a good executive is one that understands how to recruit people and how to delegate authority and responsibility." GW Bush 1/2/2001

As promised GW Bush has recruited competent and experienced advisers. Despite their seeming diversity however they have a common denominator. The America they reflect is the oil, pharmaceutical, armament, Wall Street and eugenics interests long associated with the Bush family.

Seventy years ago a similar configuration of oil, pharmaceutical, chemical, military supply and eugenics interests were organized by Wall Street into IG Farben/Standard Oil-Hitler's industrial powerhouse. To grasp the real significance of what GW Bush's cabinet has been brought together to accomplish it is essential to understand the history of IG Farben, its relationship with American corporations and how together they applied modern technology to the task of eugenics or scientific racism.

According to former US Justice Dept. Nazi War Crimes prosecutor John Loftus -who is today the director of the Florida Holocaust Museum- "The Bush family fortune came from the Third Reich,"
-Sarasota Herald-Tribune 11/11/2000

Along with the Rockefellers (Standard Oil, Chase Manhattan Bank), Mellons (Gulf Oil, Alcoa Aluminum), DuPonts (DuPont Chemicals), General Motors and Henry Ford, banks and shipping companies operated by the Bush family were crucial players in setting up the industrial power behind the Third Reich. These companies poured hundreds of millions of dollars into IG Farben and provided it with technology for tactically-essential synthetic materials while withholding the same materials and patents from the US government.

The Rockefeller family, long aligned with the Bushes, owned Standard Oil. Through a stock transfer they became half owners of Germany's IG Farben with Farben likewise owning almost half of Standard Oil. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, IG Farben built and operated more than 40 concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, including Auschwitz.

Bush operates concentration camps around the world and is now building them in the USA and on military bases in America.

The media and politicians won't discuss this why? Lets see, oh! the media is now a Corpocracy so they won't discuss corpocracy in the news. The one party in America-- the REPUBLICRATS-- are owned by the Corpocracy so they won't discuss Corpocracy in Congress or in their campaigns for office.

It is very simple to me. The American workers have to break from the One party system to fight the undeclared war against the working class waged by the one party Republicrats, government and the might of the corpocracy or democracy and freedom for the workers will be relegated forever to words in a history book as something we once had in America.

Authors Bio: Howard Boyer I served 29 years in the military, US Marine Corps-6 years, Us Army National Guard-7years, Air Force Reserve-23 years, I also worked for 29 years at General Motors Corp. I have a Masters Degree in Human Resources Admininstration.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Truthdigger of the Week: Ray McGovern

Truthdigger of the Week: Ray McGovern
Posted on May 5, 2006

Truthdig salutes Ray McGovern, the 27-year CIA veteran who articulated the outrage of a nation by publicly and heroically challenging Donald Rumsfeld’s lies about Iraqi WMD at an Atlanta public forum on May 4.

The populist hero is our Truthdigger of the Week.

You can follow any of the links below to get a full picture of the man, the encounter and the dust-up he left in his wake.

But if you want a little dessert before eating your vegetables, check out McGovern’s account of a cheeky piece of anti-Rumsfeld propaganda he came upon at the Atlanta forum. It was distributed by The World Can’t Wait, an organization dedicated to driving President Bush from office.

“[W]hen I walked into the place, I wrangled a ticket very surreptitiously. I was met with this little blurb on Donald Rumsfeld, and as I read it, I had to chuckle. It says:

There’s going to be a question-and-answer period, but please adhere to these guidelines. Refrain from using the word ‘lie’ in relation to the war in Iraq. Do not question the secretary’s personal responsibility for torture. And please don’t discuss first use of nuclear weapons against Iran. If you violate these guidelines, you’ll be immediately removed from the auditorium, flown to an undesignated prison location somewhere in Eastern Europe and tortured. Thank you for your cooperation. The World Can’t Wait.

A wonderful, wonderful group. Those were the folks that spoke up and tried to brace Donald Rumsfeld with the lies and their charges of him being—and he is, arguably—a war criminal. And we shouldn’t shy away from saying that.”

Suggested Links

* McGovern Bio

* Video of the McGovern-Rumsfeld encounter

* Associated Press article on the encounter

* Article on how the media largely marginalized or ignored the substance of McGovern’s challenge to Rumsfeld

* Comprehensive collection of McGovern’s articles on AlterNet

* Full-text chapter of McGovern’s book “Neo-CONNED!"

* Interview with Paula Zahn (Video clip transcript)

* Firsthand accounts of Rumsfeld’s Atlanta speech (From The World Can’t Wait, a netroots organization dedicated to driving Bush from office)

* May 5 interview with Democracy Now!

* Column by The Nation’s John Nichols on how Rumsfeld used Colin Powell as a human shield against McGovern

* Truthout interview from June, 2003 (old by Internet standards, but brimming with a wealth of still-relevant insights

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Why Impeachment is Essential
by Bill C. Davis

Say it and you’re told it won’t happen.

There’s a conscious rage and an unconscious self-defeating deference to the absoluteness of the power that caused the rage. Whether we know it or not we are devastated by that realization.

Impeachment: Impossible – stop thinking about it. Translated: We don’t matter. They know it and we know it. The “leaders” that perhaps, and in not a few minds, most likely, rigged two national elections, quite possibly allowed 9/11, definitely invaded Iraq and lied to do so, depleted the US treasury – or more specifically, redistributed the treasury to internal, private and corporate allies, sanctioned torture and domestic spying – those people can never be impeached or even investigated.

If we felt we owned the house, we’d say get out. But we don’t feel we own the house. We are reduced to squatters, who will grumble and pay fees for the plot of land allowed us, but we know now the land isn’t ours. We know the government and its treasury isn’t ours. So when someone says impeach – ie. evict – the response, even from the people who say it, is - not gonna happen.

But impeachment is essential. It is the remedy for, if one believes in it, the national soul. I think there is such a thing and it has material and physical manifestations. When it’s sick it demonstrates symptoms – when it’s healthy it yields harvests.

A legal and constitutional purge will return the sense of citizen ownership and spiritual health that was robbed along with election 2000. With that first theft all other thefts flowed. No - the clock can’t be turned back – dead soldiers can’t be brought back to life – flesh and blood limbs won’t grow back – the money to war profiteers most likely won’t be returned to the treasury – but the national soul, spirit, libido – whatever name we give the invisible American essence – that can be resuscitated and revived. And for that to begin to happen – impeachment is essential.

We are being surrounded by a world that doesn’t trust us anymore. They aren’t all hostile to us – they’ve lost faith in the power of the American people – and right to the point, as evidenced by comments such as “he should be impeached but it’s not going to happen” - we have lost faith in our own power.

It’s not personal. It’s not about how much we are embarrassed by or don’t like Bush. It has nothing to do with individual animosity and everything to do with collective power. When exit polls don’t match the official tally it doesn’t automatically mean that the time honored system of exit polls is suddenly unreliable, or that, as we were told, spouses were afraid to admit in front of each other who they voted for. It means something darker and more challenging. The American people did not take the challenge – we did what the coup expected we would do and we have been doing it ever since – until now.

We are at the “until now” moment. Democratic party leaders are uncomfortable talking about it. They think strategy. Impeachment is not a strategy. It’s a citizen action – a national correction – a collective redemption – an honest recall. It may happen city by city – state by state – but the body politic has the right, need, obligation to impeach.

"It’ll be over soon," is not good enough. "We’re at war," is no excuse. The war, as is now apparent, does not need, does not have, the president’s attention or wisdom. His job on that front is done – he sent the troops in. That was his role as defined by the Constitution and commandeered by criminality. The war is no longer his to orchestrate or end so if he goes, the war won’t notice, except in one way.

Extremist forces may not change their agenda toward us but the angry disappointed moderate elements may reconsider. Proving to that section of the world population that America is of, by and for the people will encourage them to act as blockades against violent reactionary elements. Impeachment could well be the secret weapon in our national defense. Impeachment could be the ultimate bunker buster that will purge the leadership that the world wants to get at, through us. Impeachment could move us from being collateral targets to active citizens.

The well-protected architects of this government’s suicidal policies are indifferent to what makes us safe. Anyone who talks so much about keeping us safe reveals something quite opposite. What are they trying to convince us of? And why do we believe them?

At the protest at inauguration 2001 there were mink coats, Stetson hats and lots of parties with lots of beef – and in the streets a feeling of free fall. It was just gonna happen – all of it – whatever lurked behind the front called GW Bush was going to happen even after we knew the majority didn’t ask for it. The free fall is still going on but instead of waiting for the hard landing – we can take the land and instead of falling on our backs, we can stand. But to do that – impeachment is essential.

Bill C. Davis is a playwright - www.billcdavis.com