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A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.
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I've been reading and enjoying Bruce Hilton's book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography... I've read a lot of history of Jesus' times and a lot of commentary on the origins of the core myth of Christ. I am struck that I don't think I know more than a handful of Quakers, or Christians, who would be any of the very few followers he had in life. John Maynard, I would think, would sit with him, listen and talk and laugh. I am at a loss to name another including myself. I'd likely be put off by his aggressive direct action, and his A personality... most would be pointing to his clear psychological baggage stemming from his being mamzer, a phrase that covers a variety of states of not quiet proper birth... But, I know, with all my heart, most who seek his myth would have shunned and hurt him, as most of his contemporaries did. They did, not because they were Jews, but because HE was a Jew, just as he would have been a Quaker like Fox - ( without the tempering presence of Margaret Fell! ) Let a George Fox stand up in a Quaker meeting today and speak with the directness, and lack of thought to Quaker norms, that Fox spoke to other Churches... well, imagine... I don't know, I suppose the meaning of all this is don't seek him in myth... seek him in lives around you - those who are shunned by you.
Gifts... so often they are meaningless... obligatory... but, when from the heart... there are no words... A dear friend, Jane, embroidered a pillow for my birthday, with all the little things that make me me... an Edward Hicks painting, wagon wheels, boats, arrows... and thank you is just not enough to say... a friend is the greatest gift God sends us, and in the small gifts and great, we acknowledge that friendship... thank you dear friend.
Due to the huge outpouring of interest in the Epistles of the Gray Avenger ( Twyla and Mary...) There is a new link... THE EPISTLE OF THE GREY AVENGER - Book the second is now on line... and if I can keep upright in my chair for another few hours... more to come... one of these hours, days, months or so...
Funny thing... I have been wondering why I've been feeling rather, good these days. You know, if you have a nerve triggered again and again, it just becomes numb. That's probably God's best gift... I don't know many people who have a really wonderful life, but, I do know a large number of people who achieve a splendid numbness. There isn't any sublime greatness about the difference between solitude and loneliness, that Hannah Arendt describes... rather, I think there is numbness, which is not really bad, it's just life.
The recent discussion in the comments to the post of two days ago, of my frustration at the boundaries of care on the part of many Quakers, which focused on my own failings... I pose the following query about one unloved community who sought out my help ( not the other way around mind you...)
I was going to write the second part of Genie and my trip journal... but I couldn't bring my self to do it. It was to be about going to a beautiful land devastated by heavy metal mining - hydro electric dams... prejudice and our apathy. Each time we flick on a light switch, we take land from the Innu and the Cree.
But, that's all. Genie and I were trying this morning to think of a singe human we know who is normal. All have some deep sadness, or some fixation, or some mania, or some screw loose somewhere - the days of cultures being strongly implanted enough inside the thin little eggshell of our heads to totally cover up our unique quirk and shudder... seems to be over. But, that is not a bad thing, as long as folks don't get too judgmental (about themselves as well).
or how our leaders use stage magic to take away our freedoms...
"'I OWE my throne to God, my people, my army - and to you,' sobbed a grateful Shah of Iran to Kermit Roosevelt in August 1953, after the CIA-backed coup which overthrew the country's independently-minded Prime Minister, Muhammad Mossadeq, and restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne. ... When British Intelligence approached the CIA about the possibility of toppling him, it found a ready ear, and a plan - Operation Ajax - was formulated with remarkably little discussion of the ethics of removing the legitimate government of a foreign country. It was the precursor of several such infamous actions by the CIA.
Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and the head of the CIA's Middle East division, was the man for the job. A man of languid coolness, he was dispatched to Iran where, on August 3, 1953, he confronted the Shah and bluntly told him that there would have to be an insurrectionary solution to the Mossadeq problem, with the support of the army absolutely vital to success.
But the frightened monarch havered, and it was for Roosevelt to "help" key members of the armed forces to realize where their loyalties lay and physically to assist them to carry out their "duties". In particular he arranged for the influential army commander, General Fazlolah Zahedi, to make an address to the country over the radio, which was to prove important to the Shah's cause.
In spite of all these precautions, the success of the coup was in its early days far from a foregone conclusion. There was widespread rioting from crowds who remained loyal to Mossadeq, and for several days it was difficult to tell whether Roosevelt's tactics were succeeding or not. The Shah himself so doubted the outcome that on August 16 he fled the country and took refuge in Baghdad.
But CIA money was lavished on officials and police. Mossadeq supporters were quietly done away with. Roosevelt gradually persuaded the wavering commanders of army units to show themselves on the streets at the head of their units and to face down the pro-Mossadeq mobs. Mossadeq and ministers and officers loyal to him were arrested, and on August 19, just three days after his flight, the Shah was able to return in triumph to his capital, where he later expressed his heartfelt gratitude to his savior.
Mossadeq was more fortunate than many of his officers and his Foreign Minister, who were shot. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
As the years rolled by, and the oppressive rule of the Shah gave way in 1979 to the even more iron grip of Ayatollah Khomeini, it became difficult to recall why this relatively moderate secular nationalist should have been seen as such a bogeyman by the West. For many Iranians suffering under the Islamic fundamentalist state, Mossadeq became the symbol of all that Iran might have been without American intervention: a modern, progressive state, yet one independent of the West. "
One day, quite a few years ago, I was having lunch with my Iranian friend, Rudy Alam, who was attending the University of Pennsylvania, and who was the daughter of the then Prime Minster of Iran. It was a student hangout, and a waitress recognized her....
"Well, I guess you’ll be going home to Iraq for summer vacation," she said amiably.
"Iran," Rudy said.
To which the waitress replied: "Oh well, whatever."
Oh well, indeed. Rudy’s father was prime minister of Iran because the Shah was on the Peacock throne thanks to Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA station chief in Teheran, who engineered the coup that deposed Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh, who had headed a secular, fledgling democracy that had the temerity to nationalize the oil fields that, up to that point, had been exploited by BP. Having sued in the World Court and lost, the UK turned to its ally, Uncle Sam, to get the oil fields back. Rent-a-Mobs appeared, the CIA paid off the military, and Mossadegh fled in his pajamas. Once in power, the Shah stifled all dissent, using the notorious SAVAK, his intelligence service, to torture his political opponents, all under the watchful and approving eye of the United States government.
This was the first great "regime change," which ultimately begat the fundamentalist Islamic revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who promptly re-nationalized the oil fields and took a whole bunch of Americans hostage. To free them, Jimmy Carter sent in troops in a stupid action that failed and which led Cyrus Vance to resign as Secretary of State, one of the few noble acts by an American cabinet member in the nation’s history.
Meanwhile, over in Afghanistan (I used to have dinner, when the Afghan royal family still ruled, at the Afghan embassy in London, with the son of the ambassador and an Englishman who was a descendant of Lord North, the first architect of stupid colonial escapades), where the Evil Empire had installed a secular puppet regime that let girls go to school. The US of A unleashed the fundamentalist Moslem mujahadeen from Pakistan to drive out the infidels, after a pep talk by Zbignew Brezinski, who, with a towel wrapped around his head, yelled at them to launch a "Jihad," a term Moslems had not used for centuries. But, boy, do they remember how to use it now.
A young, enormously wealthy religious zealot from Saudi Arabia, who is inspired by the Iranian fundamentalist revolution, funds a good part of this operation with his own money. (The CIA under Allen Dulles and William Casey always found private money for their covert operations.) He arms the volunteer fighters and takes down their names, addresses, phone numbers, and if available, e-mail addresses, and writes them in a schoolboy’s notebook, calling the whole business "Al Queda," or "The Base." Which is what it is, just over the border in Pakistan. His name is Osama bin Laden (Oh well, whatever.)
And after we win and allow the Taliban to take power because they approve of the big pipeline project, Sheik Omar welcomes bin Laden and his army as honored guests in Afghanistan. When the US of A decides to keep its troops in Saudi Arabia, the Moslem Holy Land, he declares war on the United States from a cave in Afghanistan. (Oh well, whatever.) Asleep at the switch, the CIA and FBI, at constant war with each other over bureaucratic turf, allow the worse to happen, 9/11. Bush declares war back. The Taliban are toast. He argues for a preemptive strike against Iraq, which must certainly be called "Dessert Storm."
So now, eminent Arabist, Bernard Lewis, says the problem with Islam is a lack of democracy. His solution? A regime change in Iraq and Iran. Iran? That’s where it all started, with a regime change by the CIA that set off the entire chain of events. And oh, yes, do remember that it was that regime change that overthrew a democracy and installed a dictator. I guess you can say that this bunch is like the Bourbons of France, of whom it was said, "They learned nothing and they forgot nothing." Oh, well, whatever.
Supplemental Blog Entry