August 6

Writing about the idolatry of power, violence and war in the National Catholic Reporter, John Dear said:

That might be our greatest problem. We Americans have deluded ourselves into thinking we can have both. We can have God and nukes, God and money, God and Wall Street, God and empire, God and weapons of war. The psalmist, and the Berrigans, insist it’s one or the other. God does not allow for other gods. The minute we give in to our worship of these false gods, we reject the living God of peace. Then we continue further down the path of spiritual death.

The psalmist (Psalm 115) names the idols as inhuman and ungodly, and the idolaters as inhuman and ungodly, too. We need to name the idols of today as inhuman and ungodly, too, and help each other resist the culture’s idolatry so that we can become more human and more Godly. (

I read this column this morning and then turned to the daily scripture reading from Jeremiah.

The priests and prophets said to the princes and to all the people,

“This man deserves death;

he has prophesied against this city,

as you have heard with your own ears.”

Jeremiah gave this answer to the princes and all the people:

“It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and city

all that you have heard.

Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds;

listen to the voice of the LORD your God,

so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you.

As for me, I am in your hands;

do with me what you think good and right.

But mark well: if you put me to death,

it is innocent blood you bring on yourselves,

on this city and its citizens.

For in truth it was the LORD who sent me to you,

to speak all these things for you to hear.” (Jer 26:11)

John Dear, who wrote the NCR column is often attacked for his prophetic words just as Jeremiah was attacked and threatened with death. The simple truth is that people do not like for people to speak truth to power.

On Monday we lament the unleashing of atomic death upon the already defeated people of Japan. Surprisingly enough even John Shelby Spong climbed into bed with empire and justified Truman’s decision to use the bombs. There is not any justification for what was done to Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki! None.

The grandson of Harry Truman has seen the light; however, some bloggers attack his visit to the bombing memorials in a vengeful way:

Clifton Truman Daniel visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Saturday and laid a wreath for the 140,000 people killed by the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing authorized by his grandfather. Another atomic blast in Nagasaki three days later killed 70,000 more.

“I think this cenotaph says it all — to honor the dead to not forget and to make sure that we never let this happen again,” Daniel said after offering a silent prayer.

Daniel, 55, is in Japan to attend ceremonies next week in Hiroshima and Nagasaki marking the 67th anniversary of the bombings. His visit, the first by a member of the Truman family, is sponsored by the peace group Sadako Legacy, named after Sadako Sasaki, an A-bomb victim who died of leukemia at age 12. While in the hospital, Sadako folded hundreds of paper cranes after hearing a legend that people who make 1,000 origami cranes can be granted a wish. Origami cranes have since become a symbol of peace.

A blogger wrote:

Susumu Miura, a 78-year-old Hiroshima native, wrote in the newspaper Tokyo Shimbun that he was enraged when he learned that many Americans still support the decision to drop the atomic bombs” The US was forced to drop them. It was the only way the savages in Japan were going to be converted to humans.


Francis of Assisi nailed it centuries ago when asked why he and his followers did not have possessions, “If we have possessions, we would have to have weapons to defend them.

Several years ago as I stood at Megiddo (Armageddon) and looked out across the plain while the guide explained that three major trading routes had once crisscrossed the area, I understood. It was about spices and the spice trade then. Now is is about oil and energy as pipelines crisscross the Middle East.

Listen to Merton:

“The great sin, the source of all other sin, is idolatry and never has it been greater, more prevalent, than now,” Thomas Merton wrote one Good Friday shortly before his death. “Yet it is almost completely unrecognized precisely because it is so overwhelming and so total. It takes in everything. There is nothing else left. Fetishism of power, machines, possessions, medicines, sports, clothes, etc., all kept going by greed for money and power. The bomb is only one accidental aspect of the cult … We should be thankful for it as a sign, a revelation of what all the rest of our civilization points to. The self-immolation of humanity to its own greed and its own despair. And behind it all are the principalities and powers whom humanity serves in this idolatry.”

If you proclaim this message on August 6, you will likely be attacked like Jeremiah. So what? Shout it from the roof tops. Violence, war, and nuclear weapons are a threat to our survival. Our idolatry is an affront to the God of peace!

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