No, not the March for Our Lives that riveted the nation’s and much of the world’s attention on March 24th. The Children’s Crusade was a legendary movement of thousands of young people and adults across Europe in 1212 following the disaster of the Fourth Crusade and a few years before the similar failure of Fifth Crusade. Their intent was the peaceful conversion of Muslims and the liberation of the Holy Land. Late last week, led by American teenagers inspired by a vision of a more peaceful, safer world, hundreds of thousands of young people and adult associates converged on Washington, D.C. and other cities in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Their intent was to bring sanity and justice to a situation long out of control, the worship of the false and dangerous idol of unlimited gun ownership despite the slaughter of innocents it has engendered. Initiated and led by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, it was a thrilling and remarkably joyous pilgrimage, a peaceful celebration of youthful outrage, hope and idealism.
The first Children’s Crusade came to grief because of misdirection, false hope, and ultimate betrayal by their elders. We can only pray and work to prevent history from repeating itself. According to Matthew’s Gospel, it was on what we now call Palm Sunday, when Jesus was scolded for allowing children to shout “Hosanna” on his behalf, that he cited scripture to silence their critics, tweaking Psalm 8:2:
"Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?"
We hear more than infants and nursing babies here. We hear the articulate protest of the next generation. It would do well for presidents, senators, and representatives to pay close attention. Read more...
When I was a lot younger than my college students today, the US TV viewing public sat in their living rooms enthralled for 177 episodes of a half-hour espionage thriller called “I Led Three Lives,” about a real-life double-agent of the FBI named Herbert Philbrick. He wrote a factual autobiography with the same name published in 1952, which I and thousands of other Americans happily devoured. The TV program ran for three years between 1953 and 1956. By today’s standards, that would be considered a phenomenon.
In any case, it was about Russian Communists trying (and succeeding) to infiltrate the United States on practically every level, something really and avidly investigated by the House Unamerican Activities Committee until its decline in the late 1950s, and especially by the Senate investigations associated with and often led by the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, who subsequently lent his name to the frenzied “witch-hunts” of later times.
Flash forward to the Angelina Jolie thriller, Salt (2010) and the riveting TV drama series The Americans, starting in 2013 and still running. Stimulating spy stuff, full of bad Russians bent on inflicting mortal damage to the USA. And now… oops? The Mueller Indictments seem to be a return to the past -- Russian agents actively recruiting and “duping” Americans in an attempt to bring down the Republic… or at least make it really miserable, apparently with notable success. Read more...
The devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey is fast assuming the status of the worst natural disaster in US history, surpassing the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina exactly 12 years ago this week.
Could the destruction have been prevented? Not entirely, of course, but it could have been greatly reduced.
Step one: reduce carbon emissions significantly… best time to start: 25 years ago.
Step two: expand and develop environmental protection laws and policies… best time to start: 25 years ago.
Step three: pay greater attention to climate scientists, who warn that as the sea warms and levels rise, hurricanes will increase in size and intensity, if not necessarily in frequency… so we hope! Best time to start: tomorrow.
Take away for Mr. Trump: Climate Change is real. Do not gut the EPA regulations, the agency itself, or US natural resources. Stay in the Paris Climate Accord. The people deserve it. The earth requires it.
This year, in August and September, the 40th anniversary of the launches of the two Voyager spacecraft are being rightly celebrated.
Each of the probes carried on board a remarkable document -- a record of civilized life on Earth devised as a greeting card to any life forms in the universe intelligent enough to intercept and decipher these messages. A product of the creative collaboration of astronomer Carl Sagan, his wife Linda, and their associates, each of the Voyager messages included sounds and music representative of human cultures on the planet as well as pictures inscribed on a long‑playing phonograph record. But the Sagan team strove to make sure that all mention of God, the sacred or the religious dimension of human experience on Earth was deleted from the gold-plated record.
In the end, what Sagan nearly accomplished was a gross misinterpretation of the real human situation on this planet, whose inhabitants are overwhelmingly members of a variety of religious traditions, some of which (preeminently Christianity and Islam) demonstrably gave rise to the very science Sagan and his colleagues espoused. Read more...