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More Christian realism

It is unlikely that what these Trappist nuns in Syria have to say about Obama’s plan of attack will be heard in the Congressional debate, exemplifying, as it does, the Christian realism so alien to the Obama administration and both major political parties.  It would be nice if even a few of our otherwise outspoken bishops would join their demonstrably loud voices to those of these brave women.

Here is some of that open letter of the Trappist nuns of Azeir, Syria.  The rest is in the link above:  

The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?

The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.

The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”

God have mercy on them.  On us.

About the Author

Michael O. Garvey works in public relations at the University of Notre Dame.



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Sign Alan Grayson's petition:  Tell Congress:  Don't Attack Syria.

It would be nice if even a few of our otherwise outspoken bishops would join their demonstrably loud voices to those of these brave women.

FWIW - I've shared on dotCom a passage from a letter from Cardinal George that appeared in our church bulletin, urging that peace be pursued rather than military action.  I've also mentioned that a homily by a parish pastor from last weekend urged the same thing.  I think our church leaders, some of them, anyway, are speaking up about this.


It might be worth updating with this:

“I could not dig: I dared not rob: Therefore I lied to please the mob. Now all my lies are proved untrue And I must face the men I slew. What tale shall serve me here among Mine angry and defrauded young?” from EPITAPHS OF THE WAR 1914-18 (

That said, there is also this: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


Of what will American ultimately be praised/accused?


Among the confused information, the pleas of local Christians are powerful. It is surprising how, even with modern means of getting data, the testimony of honest people close to the events is still some of the most compelling information.

That is why some people, wondering about the truth of the Christian faith, find themselves best convinced by the witness of the first Christians. What they saw and heard was extraordinary enough to cause them to change their lives and be ready to die for it: the testimony of honest people close to the events of the resurrection can be viewed as compelling information.


I find no compelling reasons to believe the vast majority of human beings on planet earth are not sincerely hoping yet another romp into the lunacy of a righteous war, or any war, occurs.  That you too share that hope places you not in a misunderstood, unheeded minority but rather in the mess with most of rest of us.

As truly admirable as so many of the beliefs and actions of the Trappist nuns clearly are, your remarks fail on a very important point.  That point being responsibility.

The Judeo/Christian religion has a very long and convoluted history of at once damning and defending what common sense easily finds indefensable in any just religion, a just war. The same expression of contradictory absolutes can be found in Islam.  Furthermore, to consider oneself a Christian one must believe beyond debate there is one and only one way to God.  That way is through Christ.  Islam disagrees.  How exactly, short of not being a Christian, does one not be seen as a problem in a nation with centuries of belief in yet another, only way to God?  The food and comforting words are welcome but a religion that does not address our mortality is not much of a religion.

Rationalization, however clever, won't do.  There is no such thing as a "sorta" son of God or a "sorta" God.  Absolutism and the tragically contagious arrogance it produces lies at the core of this madness.  If God truly speaks to a person they can only be immediately reminded of how little they know.  Least of all a wisdom so profound it provides one with a certainity as to the only way to God.

There are, in fact, practical ways in which one can easily enough identify the means and motives that drive a nation towards the utter madness that is war and predict the likely winners and losers.  Follow the money.

To the world:

Nazi Germany is gassing and incinerating Jews by the the millions.

Proposed Response:  Lets not attack Nazi Germany.  Instead, lets all pray and fast; that should take care of it,


Problem solved.

A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us?


Here is my problem with this: President Obama is not the one "dropping a sentence of war" onto Syria. Syria IS at war. There IS, beyond disputation, an extant war in Syria which has resulted in over 100,000 deaths. 

I am not here advocating that such demands us, as a moral imperative, to take action, but I wish to clarify this problematic false dichotomy being foisted upon the national debate... i.e. between "War" and "No War." The decision is not between war and no war; there IS war. The debate is whether or not the United States ought to undertake military intervention amid this civil war taking place in another sovereign nation.

Just as a Tomahawk missle strike cannot POSSIBLY be construed as anything other than "an act of war," neither can the situation in Syria, in which thousands of non-combatants have been slaughtered by the Assad regime, be described as anything other than war. 

War is there. The debate is over our response.

A Problem from Hell
by Samantha Power
656pp, Flamingo

"The debate about why it is so difficult to get the governments of rich and powerful countries to do anything effective about massacre, persecution and genocide raged with especial intensity throughout the 90s.

What were the mechanisms of denial that allowed political leaders to procrastinate in the face of such plainly evil developments, and why, when action was in some cases finally taken, was intervention so clumsy and the restoration of damaged societies so often mismanaged?"

Etc .....

Bob: Paying and fasting is just the first step. If we pray and fast, maybe we'll be able to better hear God trying to tell us what to do next.

I heard another suggested course of action: the US have drone technology. They claim to have intelligence of what happened in Syria: then, use their drones to kill the guy who conducted the chemical weapons attack. It's a warning to the guy's hierarchical superiors that if use of chemical weapons happens again, next time, it might be their turn to be targeted by drones!


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