Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Sometimes my mind wanders in mysterious ways…

I was on my lunchtime walk, thinking about the public outcry over Mel Gibson’s major meltdown. One article I read, Michael Medved in Townhall, pointed out that Michael Moore "declared in Liverpool (quoted in the New York Times, June 26, 2004) that the embattled Jewish state represented one of the modern world's centers of evil: 'It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.' Ironically, Michael Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel (brother of a Democratic Congressman from Illinois), is one of the entertainment industry figures leading the charge to demand that the show biz establishment blacklist Gibson."

The difference, of course, is that Michael Moore is an enlightened secular “liberal” and Mel Gibson is a conservative, knuckle-dragging, fundamentalist Catholic.

And Michael Moore used the word “Israel” instead of the word “Jew.”

Which led me wonder: is there a fundamental difference between Israelis and Jews? While not all Jews are Israelis, are there non-Jewish Israelis? The symbol on the Israel flag, the Star of David, is used by many Jews to identify themselves, much as the Cross is used by Christians. Can you take the Jewish identity out of the State of Israel? If you do, what is left? What would be left if you took the Papal symbol—and Catholicism—out of Vatican City? The identity of those two countries in particular is synonymous with a religion. Although Islam is the official state religion of many Mideastern countries (and quite a few African ones), there are strong factional elements that seem to be as busy tearing each other apart as they are fighting the Infidels, which isn't happening in Israel and the Vatican.

Thinking about Jews and Judaism led me to think about the most famous Jew of all: Jesus of Nazareth. A friend of my, who is very much against the War in Iraq and the Bush Administration, commented that the God of Bush and many of the neo-cons which surround him seems to be the God of the Old Testament—vengeful, quick to anger, stern, uncompromising—rather than the Father figure of God in the New Testament and the example of Jesus—compassionate, caring, forgiving. So, what would Jesus do in the Mideast? Would he “turn the other cheek”? Would he meekly let the Islamic jihadists kill him, hoping by his martyrdom to serve as an example and crack their hardened hearts?

Jesus was not a wimp. No wimp could have withstood the Agony in Gethsemane, the Scourging, carried the Cross, and the final Crucifixion. No wimp would have thrown the money-changers from the temple (money-changers who were there legally, by the way) or stood up to the local authorities, refusing to be taken in by their word games.

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

So, is this war a thing of Caesar’s or a thing of God’s?

“Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren, that you do unto Me.”

Jesus had just listed what have come to be called Corporal Works of Mercy: feeding the hunger, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner. Would freeing the slaves count? Were the Iraqis slaves under Sadaam Hussein? Are the Lebanese slaves to Hezbollah? Do we, as a free people, have a moral obligation to free them?

Or is our job to keep talking, keep preaching the Gospel, keep turning our cheek and offer up our lives and our civilization to God? To trust in God and, if martyrdom be our lot, our deaths (and the deaths of our children) will not be in vain?

Which is the braver course? Which is the True Course, the path God wants us to follow?

I don’t know. I’m not one of those Christians who claims to have a direct line to the mind of God. Why do our choices as humans always seem to teeter between the parable of the Lilies of the Field and “God helps those who help themselves”?

I think Mel Gibson’s actions and words during his arrest were reprehensible. I think that Christopher Hitchens in Slate and the Hollywood establishment are condemning him a bit too eagerly, with a bit too much enthusiasm and a certain gleefulness, especially since they have allowed others to say much worse while sober.

I think that when a madman tells me that he wants to destroy me and my world and has the firepower to do it, I believe him. I believe that many of us in the West have played both-sides-against-the-middle and now it’s coming back to bite us. There are bullies, from the schoolyard to the highest levels of politics, who understand and respect only physical power. I believe that while Western Civilization does not have all the answers, we’re the only ones asking the questions.

This may be the End Times. This may be our Final Test, one way or another. How we comport ourselves, how we treat each other, how strongly we believe in our values and how well we live and proclaim those values will determine how we live. If we live.

What Would Jesus Do?

Probably get down on His knees and pray that this cup will pass, if it be the Father’s Will. Then get up face His Destiny, one step at a time.