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John and James

Yesterday the Church's Liturgy remembered the Passion and Beheading of John the Baptist. While in past years I may have focused uniquely on the Baptist and his role in the drama of salvation, it was impossible to read the gospel without remembering James Foley, imprisoned and beheaded. James sent a last message to his family through a freed captive who had committed the words to memory. He said:

I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart. I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.

James's last words were for his grandmother:

Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.

May the God of mercy reclaim the life of James Foley and may his prayers for his family come now bathed in light.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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What a lovely contemplation.   Thank you.

May he rest in peace. Foley's family was remarkable through all this. May God give them needed strength. 

A serious negative campaign is the unhappy result of  Isis, whose beheading of Foley has gotten all the neocons and warmongers out of their closet and usual lust for power. Like this is the greatest danger since the Civil War and the like. People fantasizing that the Syrian war would be over and this would never have happened had Obama been more belligerent. 

For all the president's faults this is not one of them. He has remained cautious throughout and is not gotten on the bellicose wagons that so many irresponsible and hateful opponents are pushing. 

We must continue to point out that the Koran has more words of peach and work on building working relationships rather than massive bombinb campaigns. They did not work in Vietnam nor Iraq. Will not in this conflict. 

The neocons agains are attempting to tear the country apart. Send them back to exile where they belong.



Bill, I'm not a neocon, but I am a realist who can distinguish between real and imagined fear. As a follower of Jesus, I recognize the horror of violence and war. But in ISIS we have a foe with whom nothing can be accomplished through reason and non-violent action. These are people who long for the end times and are eager to bring them about through their acts of sheer terror. I'm all for people of good will attempting to form an international coalition that will stand strongly against this false ideology, but in the end that is unlikely to alter the reality. There is such a thing as a war that is unavoidable--whether fully or only partially justified--to spare the world another Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin. If you are suggesting otherwise, just how would you proceed?


I am saying  a couple of things. First they are not as dangerous as Hitler. There is no comparing  their power with the US. Second we are doing selective strikes to help the Kurds and the Iraqis protect their land. To send US troops would be the mistake. Third, the climate of fear that the right is stoking is irresponsible. Isis is no threat to the US as long as we protect those it wants to demolish. 

Isis just surprised everybody with their great organizational skills. In great part garnered by the insane W administration giving Sunnis no part in the administration. Obama continued that. Huge mistake. But to give them the status everyone is giving them is silly. Further, other countries fed that dog by giving in to the Isis ransom demands. Not only is the US right about not giving ransoms. They make travel for Americans safer. 

Chaney and Rumsfeld have to stay in exile. McCain has more problems than his war mongering. 

Americans doubtless need to discuss and debate the issues of how to participate in the ME, including in the armed conflcts.

But perhaps we coud find  a different thread?


King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned the West yesterday that ISIL will come after us if we don't do something quickly, i.e, before ISIL goes after Saudi Arabia. There have already been ISIL-related incidents in Arabia. I know that liberals usualy make exceptions to their detestation of wars for the start of new wars. The steam-up over ISIL is competing with great arousal over Russia in Ukraine.

But before we jump in with both feet, let us wonder if Saudi Arabia still has all the military aircraft it bought from us to help us hold down the unit cost of the planes we had to buy. I mean, if anyone has been maintaining the planes, the Saudis could use what are, in fact, the same kinds of planes we are using to attack ISIL and defend, um, themselves.

And another thought that is worth discussing is this: The beheading of James Foley woke up our fire-breathers and pacifistic liberals to the nastiness of ISIL. But our Saudi friends, allies and, now, advisors routinely behead people, including foreigners, for criminal offenses without arousing either the fire-breathers or the pacifistic liberals in this country. They decapitated 23 in August alone, according to human rights agencies. So, the question for fire-breathers is, how many beheaded Arabs does it take to equal one American?


I predict that the James Foley beheading, the bulldozer burying of dozens (hundreds?) of women and children, and the open war against religious minorities is only the beginning of far worse scenarios to come, and some those scenarios will occur stateside.  ISIS, ISIL, Al Queda, Hamas, etc are all essentially the same, having the same goals, and having the same ultimate purpose.  They see the weakness of the West, the dithering and excuse-making, the moral decay, the corruption of the young and that says to them, "The time is here, the enemy is befuddled with drugs and intellectual and moral blindness.  We will strike on their homeland, and the young intellectuals will flock to us, are flocking to us, because we stand for something besides that cozy chat in the faculty lounge about minimum wages and legal abortion and access to birth control drugs and devices.  We will down them in their own blood while their 'wise men and women' babble about how it's their own fault"

And Bill, the people who can only sneer at our courageous men and women who will have to fight them will not be spared.  So if you think it's all overblown and you think they can be reasoned with, no, they can't be reasoned with, they can't be placated, bought off or negotiated with.  When they come, they will come to kill, to kill you and me and our children and the elderly and the physically challenged.  So if you think it's a big joke, keep on laughing...

Bill, Do you yourself  "see the weakness of the West, the dithering and excuse-making, the moral decay, the corruption of the young"? Do you see us standing for nothing "besides that cozy chat in the faculty lounge about minimum wages and legal abortion and access to birth control drugs and devices"? Do you agree with the ISIL analysis that seems to be pretty successful at recruiting radicall jihadists?

I am asking because, then what? Why defend it?

I meant to address that to Bob.

Descartes once wrote that common sense is that which is most widespread and least used.

I had hoped that Mark Logsdon's common sense plea would be heeded; but since it has not, let's bring this thread to a close. The issue of how to confront ISIL can be left to another thread should any of the contributors desire to pursue it.

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