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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I Can't Seem to be Able to Make This Work

Dear Readers,

Every time I  copy an article and then post it in this blogspot box I get a mess as you can see. I apologize.  Working on it.

Bob Reid
James Foley outside Aleppo, Syria, in July 2012, a few months before his abduction. After being kidnapped in Libya in 2011, he spoke about his Christian faith. CreditNicole Tung
VATICAN CITY — The Islamic State’s beheading in August of the journalist James Foley stirred global outrage, fury and despair. But for many of his fellow Roman Catholics, Mr. Foley’s death in Syria transformed him into a symbol of faith under the most brutal of conditions.
One Catholic essayist compared him to St. Bartholomew, who died for his Christian faith. Others were drawn to Mr. Foley’s account of praying the rosary during an earlier captivity in Libya. Even Pope Francis, in a condolence call to Mr. Foley’s parents, described him as a martyr, according to the family.
Then came an unexpected twist: It turned out that Mr. Foley was among several hostages in Syria who had converted to Islam in captivity, according to some freed captives. What had been among some Catholics a theological discussion of faith and heroic resistance quickly shifted to a different set of questions:
Is any conversion under such duress a legitimate one? Why would a man who had spoken so openly about his Catholic faith turn to Islam? Given his circumstances, is it even surprising if he did?
Mr. Foley’s funeral Mass. CreditDominick Reuter/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“How do we assess that?” asked the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of the Catholic magazine America, who described Mr. Foley as “a good and holy man” and expressed doubts about the genuineness of his conversion. “The answer is we can’t assess it. We cannot look at what is in someone’s soul.”
Religious faith is often described as a deeply sustaining force for people in captivity, providing comfort, strength and hope. The family of Kayla Mueller, who died this month while being held hostage by the Islamic State in Syria, recently released a letter Ms. Mueller had written in captivity in which she described surrendering herself to God and feeling “tenderly cradled in free-fall.”
Faith can also be a practical force, experts say, in that prayer or reading religious texts can provide order and discipline to days otherwise defined by fear or brutality, or even just boredom. And practical, also, as a means of survival: Some freed hostages describe converting to Islam as a tactic to win favor and sympathy from their captors.
For many Catholics, issues such as religious persecution, forced conversion and martyrdom are distressingly current. Pope Francis has frequently inveighed against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, where militants with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have ordered some Christians to convert or face death.
This month, Francis invoked the death of John the Baptist as the model of Christian sacrifice, citing the “men, women, children who are being persecuted, hated, driven out of their homes, tortured, massacred.”
Martyrdom, he added, “is not a thing of the past: This is happening right now.”
To many Catholics, Mr. Foley’s death seemed infused with religious overtones. A former altar boy who grew up in a Catholic family, Mr. Foley had volunteered in low-income schools while attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, and then joined Teach for America. Shifting to photojournalism, he immersed himself in conflict reporting, working as a freelancer in Iraq and Afghanistan and then covering the Libyan civil war in 2011.
Pushing to the chaotic front lines, Mr. Foley and three other journalists were ambushed by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then Libya’s ruler. A photographer, Anton Hammerl, was killed. Mr. Foley and the other two surviving journalists were taken hostage and spent 44 days in captivity as family members and former classmates at Marquette campaigned for his freedom and organized prayer vigils on his behalf.
Upon his release, Mr. Foley wrote a letter of thanks to Marquette in which he also described the importance of his Catholic faith during his captivity. He and a cellmate prayed aloud “to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God,” he said, and he also prayed the rosary to connect with his mother.
Mr. Foley's parents in August, after the release of a video of his death. CreditJim Cole/Associated Press
“I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her,” he wrote. “I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed.”
His open discussion of his spirituality would resurface after Mr. Foley was taken captive again in 2012, in Syria, and then after his grisly death last August. On social media, many Catholics found inspiration in his earlier words and in accounts by freed captives describing Mr. Foley as someone who often gave away his food or blanket to others but never buckled to his captors.
Some Catholic commentators suggested Mr. Foley might be a candidate for Catholic martyrdom, a complicated process that involves determining if a person was killed because of his or her faith. Others praised him but questioned whether such talk was appropriate and whether his killers’ motivation had been more political than religious.
Then, in October, an article in The New York Times detailed the brutality endured by Mr. Foley and others in captivity, while also quoting freed hostages as saying Mr. Foley and others had converted to Islam. Mr. Foley was described as particularly devout and as a fervent reader of the Quran. In an interview earlier this month, one freed captive, Nicolas Hénin, said Mr. Foley seemed the most interested of the group in learning about Islam and that his conversion appeared genuine, even if Mr. Hénin could not be certain.
“I was not inside his mind,” he said.
Some Catholics were startled. But for Mr. Foley’s mother, Diane, the disclosure was not new. She said that she had spoken months earlier with Jejoen Bontinck, a Belgian former captive who is Muslim, after his release, and that he had described her son’s conversion as a genuine act. Then, after French and Spanish captives were released, Ms. Foley said she received a somewhat different version of events.
“What the hostages had told me was that by saying that he had converted to Islam, he would be left alone five times a day, without being beaten, so that he could pray,” she said in an interview.
Like others, Ms. Foley, who is a Eucharistic minister at her parish in New Hampshire, described her son as deeply interested in spirituality and the faiths of other people. But she still strongly believes that her son died as a Christian and that his conversion was an act of practicality.
“Only God and Jim know what was going on in his heart,” she said. “I think the Lord used Jim in a magnificent way in the last two years of his life. He gave hope to his fellow captives.”
Mr. Foley’s parents, John and Diane, at his Roman Catholic funeral Mass in Rochester, N.H.CreditDominick Reuter/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The issue also arose after Mr. Foley’s captivity in Libya. In a series of articles in Global Post, as well as during an appearance at Marquette, Mr. Foley described how he had agreed to pray with his Muslim cellmates, jailed as enemies of the Qaddafi government. He was surprised when, after he had washed himself, they declared him converted.
“So, from then on out, I prayed with them five times a day,” he said at Marquette. “It was so powerful, and it was something I needed to do to commune with these guys who were relying on their faith in Allah. But it was difficult. I was thinking, ‘Jesus, am I praying to Allah? Am I violating my belief in you?’ ”
“I don’t have an answer to that,” he continued. “I just know that I was authentically with them, and I was authentically praying to Jesus. I don’t know theologically. But I thought I was being authentic.”
His family said his Syrian captivity was much the same.
“I believe, much like in Libya, Jim ‘converted’ for the purpose of surviving and being close to some of the others there, and to have some discipline,” said Michael Foley, one of his brothers, adding, “I’ll bet you and I would strongly explore ‘converting’ in that situation.”
At the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said he was unaware of any discussion of martyrdom for Mr. Foley, noting that such a process can take decades or centuries. But he did say that any religious conversion “not done freely does not indicate a conversion.”
“You can’t condemn people who are afraid of dying and so don’t show themselves as Catholic,” Cardinal Amato said. “A Christian is not obliged to be a martyr.”
Nicole Tung, a photographer who worked closely with Mr. Foley in Syria, described his faith as “deep within him” and said he knew the Bible so well that he often had broad discussions with Syrians comparing Christianity with Islam.
But Ms. Tung said she thought Mr. Foley would be uncomfortable with being considered a martyr. She described his journalism as commingled with a powerful compassion: He helped raise $14,000 to buy an ambulance for children in Aleppo, Syria, just as he helped organize an earlier fund-raiser for the family of Mr. Hammerl, the photographer who was killed in Libya.
“As a humanitarian and as a journalist,” Ms. Tung said, “was really how he conducted himself.”
Here is my take on this mess. I really don't care one hoot if Mr Foley converted in captivity. it could have been curiosity or maybe as the  article suggested a tool to make his life in captivity bearable . In the final analysis James Foley's Catholic faith trumps Islam and Jesus Christ trumps Mohammad.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kissing and Holding Hands in Public

Kissing in Public

I have been out sort of since 1991 when I wrote a letter to the editor of the LA Times and others announcing that I was changing my political affiliation from longtime career Republican to a Democrat. I also announced that I was “ Coming Out.” After a short period of being out and about I went back into the closet of sorts.

I was working in the Legislature for a Democrat member of the Assembly, Paul Krekorian, when almost by chance I was outed ever so subtlety while leaving the Comcast TV studios across from the Capitol with a fellow staff member. One of the executives of the TV studios, an acquaintance from the  Out political gay tribe made a comment, which I ignored. I knew however that the staffer, a young smart fellow got it. The next day I gathered the staff and made my second coming out. No big deal with them.

Working inside the State Capitol of California is like another planet. It is a place for upward mobility for gays, Latinos, blacks and other minority groups. It ‘s quite progressive in a politically correct way. Even the GOP members are more outwardly accepting of gays. Who knows what they say in the privacy of their own caucus.

Gays in public service is noting new. In the Wilson Administration and also the Arnold Administration there were legions of gays serving openly.

This brings me to the central point of this short piece ; holding hands and kissing in public. The article I have attached from today’s New York Times,” Do Gays Unsettle You,” covers the successes we have made in terms of accepting gay marriage and other related civil rights issues. It also reminds us of how far we need to go. It only briefly touches on what for me is both a liberating aspect of having gay friends and showing casual affection in public.

Gays use a kiss on the lips as a greeting in the same way that straight men use the handshake and hug.  . I am 71 and am retired and basically I don’t give a hoot what others think…. well almost. I still cringe a bit when kissing in public in my neighborhood where I grew up. I moved back to the place where I grew up. The same church on the corner. My old grammar school still standing and many of the same shops and equal number of new restaurants and bars.

My friends usually eat breakfast as a group at least once a month. I am quite bold when eating outside the home base parameters but get back into the twilight zone of my old neighborhood and I cringe when I kiss right there in the restaurant and outside on the corner. I enjoy the sense of liberation and feel the sense of fear at the same time.

There is this fear that someone driving bye will shout something terrible out the car window.

I am envious of the young 30 something’s who are completely are out, have a partner, a house for two  and two dogs . They live a normal relationship. Just like the straights do.

Read the attached article. It is telling of how far we have come and yet how far we need to go before straight people especially political and religious conservatives will not be so unsettled in our presence when we are holding hands and kissing.

Life is Good!

" Do Gays Unsettle You "
Sunday  2-8-15
New York Times

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Can't Wrap My Arms Around Snowden

January 2, 2014

Why do I feel so out of sorts with leaking NSA secrets by Edward Snowden and that Sgt. Manning? In the early 70’s about the end of Nixon’s first term, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the so-called Pentagon papers to the Washington Post and the New York Times. I was cool with that. It focused this country’s attention of Nixon’s war in Vietnam. It became Nixon’s war because he inherited it from LBJ but instead of ending it as he promised in the election of 1968, he escalated it.

That anti-war movement was focused on the war in Vietnam and the expansion of that war by Nixon. It questioned the need to kill thousands of Americans and other allied forces not to mention the thousands of Vietnamese killed by the bombings.I must admit part of the attraction to the anti-war movement was the music. Great songs came out of that war with singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Rambling Jack Elliot, Pete Seeger and my favorite Arlo Guthrie. No such music coming out of this current anti-government movement.

One interesting thing about this support of the Edward Snowden is that it comes from all sorts of the political spectrum. The anti-government anarchist extreme right wing groups; the guns group, the libertarian folks, some Republicans in Congress usually the anti-tax folks and some Democrats in the Senate. I find myself siding with the late Tom Clancy. His many popular books all centered on secret government organizations like the CIA and the black Ops groups. They seek out and destroy the enemies of this country.

The results of the Snowden leaks are two fold and are at opposite sides of the fence. One side says that these leaks have caused immeasurable damage to our intelligence agencies and our foreign policy. The other result is that American citizens have become aware of the depth of spying both on the world and at home.
I am still of the opinion that what Sgt. Manning and Edward Snowden did was treason. Many of my friends in the Democratic Party in Congress and elsewhere do not share this view. Ironically, I do not think what Daniel Elsberg did was treason, I think what he did was heroic; a term used by many to describe Edward Snowden.

I respect the institutions of government. Most of my adult life has been spent working in government or politics. I served as special assistant to the Director of the Peace Corps, ran campaigns in California on the state level and local elections and served for eight years in the Deukmejian Administration. .My recent stint in government was working in the California Legislature for over 12 years. If I had to choose a side between the crazies outside of government and the thoughtful public servants in the govt. I would chose government. I must confess to a strong bias here.

Edward Snowden is such a smug arrogant self-centered twit. I cannot warm up to his personality. No catchy songs just the gospel according to Edward.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tom Daley " Comes Out"

December 6, 2013

For those of you who follow this blog who don’t know who the heck Tom Daley is; he is the Bronze Diving Medalist of the last Summer Olympics from the UK. He is a huge star in England much like tennis player Andy Murray.He is a good looking guy who has a huge gay following. Most of the time gay rumors about celebrities are little more than gays wishing it were true.

Tom Daley has had the gay rumors following him all throughout his career. If Tom were just an average looking athlete –there would have been no rumors or interest.
The Olympic diver found it necessary less than a month ago to announce in the main stream press and on Utube that he was “Coming Out” as a heterosexual. He did leave the door open for a relationship with a man but was straight. This I assume was at the request of his agent and publicist’s he was concerned about his career after diving. He was a sex symbol with a huge female following as well as gays. It did seem odd at the time that he felt it was necessary to make the statement and then add that he had an open minded about a same sex relationship.

Surprise, last week Tom Daley announced on UTube and other media that he was in a relationship with a man .It fact he was quite eloquent in his Utube statement about his relationship. He did not say he was gay, he just announced this new relationship with a man. Rumors abound about who the person is.

Was he gay or not, the answer should be a resounding who really cares. There was really little coverage of this story in the US press other than the blogs. This is the third in a line of major celebrities that felt it necessary to announce to the press they were gay in advance of a public “outing” of some sort. First Neil Patrick Harris, then Anderson Cooper and now Tom Daley.What are we to make of these public announcements of one’s sexual?Was he gay or not. The resounding answer should be who really cares.

The first two celebrities I listed, Neil Patrick Harris and Anderson Cooper brought a big “Not a big surprise in the case of Anderson Cooper and a bit of surprise in the case of Harris. In this case there was surprise in some quarters but my gay friends said to me  ... “No Surprise.

The lack of attention to this latest celebrity announcement tells me that we as a nation and Europe in particular are just not interested in a celebrity’s sexual orientation anymore. If there is any interest you might just ask what took them so long. The answer is fear for their careers. It has had no effect what so ever on the acting career of Neil Patrick Harris or the news career of Anderson Cooper. Let’s hope it has no effect on the diving career of Tom Daley.

I have to add  that I am writing from the perspecitive of a liberal living in California not a person living in Kansas or Mississippi.

I hope we have gotten to the place where we simply say “Who gives a Hoot who does what with whom?”

Life is Good!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

College Football Playoffs-Same Guys Plus

October 17, 2013

Just read the article in today's paper about the new College Playoff committee. The new committee which will pick the 4 college football semi finalists and seed them.The playoff committee is loaded with current Athletic Directors all who have a serious conflict f interest. How can you expect the AD of USC, Pat Haden to be objective about a rival team, the Oregon Ducks. In addition they tossed in the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just for the heck of it. Rice of course was looking for weapons of mass destruction in the Bush Admin. It could be she will be looking for WMDs in Football
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Great Stuff. I couldn't make this up if I tried. I find this amusing that Paul Krugman's article in the Bee and all American newspapers of note  is also found in the Irish Times as well. Even the Irish think were are crazy. The rest of Europe is laughing and Putin is using this crisis to further his claim that America is no longer a world power.