Wednesday, July 6, 2016


The Sunday NYT ran an op-ed piece by Roy Scranton that made my 4th of July weekend. It's called "Star Wars and the Fantasy of American Violence." Scranton is a former soldier who fought in Iraq and thus knows first-hand the devastating physical and spiritual corruption wreaked by violence on both soldiers and civilians. He's also a widely-published journalist and author who teaches in the Department of English at Notre Dame.

An excerpt:

"[I]n the frightened months after Sept. 11, the myth of violence was more powerful than the truth of war. As an American soldier in Iraq, I was both caught up in that myth and released from it: I could see what “the work of peace” really looked like, what American violence did to Iraqi homes and bodies, yet it remained my job to be an agent of that violence — a violence that neither redeemed nor enlightened.

On this Fourth of July, while American violence continues to rain down on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, as we continue to support violent regimes in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and elsewhere by buying oil that we then burn and dump into the atmosphere, precipitously heating the planet, and amid a crucial presidential election, we should ask ourselves what we’re really celebrating with our bottle rockets and sparklers.

There is another version of America beyond the noise our fireworks make: not military strength, but the deliberate commitment to collective self-determination. Perhaps this Fourth of July we could commemorate that. Instead of celebrating American violence, we might celebrate our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the ideals those documents invoke of an educated citizenry deciding its fate not through war but through civil disagreement. Instead of honoring our troops, whose chief virtues are obedience and aggressiveness, we could honor our great dissenters and conscientious objectors. And instead of blowing things up, maybe we could try building something."


The late, great comic Bill Hicks says it his own way in Revelations.

Here's my friend Dennis Apel's most recent newsletter from federal prison, where he's serving 120 days for vigiling against war and nuclear weapons.

With my own desire to build something, I've made a couple of pilgrimages to one of my favorite places in NYC: The Conservatory Garden in Central Park.  All through the north end of the Park are glorious stands of pale-pink tinged hydrangeas.



  1. I love where you are staying! Cool view out the window. How NY! Oh, I love NY. I'll be in mid-town in two weeks for my annual religious conference. Too bad our skeds didn't coordinate.

    1. Karin, I think of you often! So glad you're looking forward to your conference--I'll leave a prayer for you on the streets of mid-town. xo


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