Sic Semper Tyrannis

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." "In God we trust." The old words from our nation's founders still ring true today. This blog tries to capture why and how.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reflections on the 21:  

History Lessons for the President


The holy season of Lent is now upon us. As one of my penances I am trying to cut down on some of my activities in order to have a little silence to hear and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Fortunately, recent snowfall has helped this cause. Today, as the snow fell, I thought first of a relative who had an important operation yesterday (love her so). I sent her a text and was happy and relieved to receive one back. She sounded cheerful and said she was looking forward to my cross-country visit later this week – a journey I have selfishly postponed for years and will now finally make.

The 21

Then, after appeasing my concern with one so very close to me in the blood of family, I couldn’t help but think once again of my brothers in Egypt – the 21 Coptic Christians who were executed by ISIS terrorists on February 15. Their blood is the very blood of Christ and connects them to me as true family. I’ve been meaning to write a blog in their honor and today is the day. (The readings from the Ash Wednesday service earlier this week spoke to me: “Now is the acceptable time.”)  

This blog is dedicated to these man who died as innocent, nonviolent followers of Christ:

Milad Makeen Zaky
Abanub Ayad Atiya
Maged Solaiman Shehata
Yusuf Shukry Yunan
Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
Somaily Astafanus Kamel
Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
Girgis Milad Sinweet
Mina Fayez Aziz
Hany Abdelmesih Salib
Bishoy Adel Khalaf
Samuel Alham Wilson
Worker from Awr village [name unknown at this time]
Ezat Bishri Naseef
Loqa Nagaty
Gaber Munir Adly
Esam Badir Samir
Malak Farag Abram
Sameh Salah Faruq  


Within hours Pope Francis acknowledged them as martyrs: “Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’ They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. …The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.”

How strongly this response from the Holy Father contrasts to the relative coldness of President Obama, who spoke through a memorandum from his press secretary. Taking political “correctness” to an extreme, the memo referred to the martyrs as “Egyptian citizens,” not as Christians.  (This was similar to the way he referred to the Jews an Islamic extremist targeted in a Parisian deli  on January 11, which the President referred to not as Jews but as “a bunch of folks” that were “randomly” shot. The very President whose administrative is hypersensitive to “hate crimes” against other minority groups refuses to see it when hate is directed to Jews or Christians.)

It's clear from the statements and actions of the terrorists themselves that that their actions are religiously motivated - theirs is a one-sided unholy war waged by Islamic extremists against all who will not accept their brand of Islam. President Obama may think that it is too risky to tell the plain truth about the obvious religious dimension of the motives and targets of terrorism - but in that case he is on a slippery slope.  At what point does denying the truth of a matter become a problem unto itself? Denying a Holocaust does not make it go away - and will only blunt the collective intelligence and sensitivity of humankind.  

The “Egyptian citizens” memo followed a similarly wrongheaded statement by President Obama at a February 6 Prayer Breakfast, when made excuses for the slaughter of innocent Christians (and no doubt emboldened their persecutors) by intoning as follows, "Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”   

This odious comparison—including the word “terrible,” which would suggest a kinship with terrorism—was dangerous since ISIS in paranoid fashion has in fact accused the West of a modern crusade--which is patently false. (There is no evidence of any religious motivation in the defensive military actions the United States and our allies have taken against terrorism. As I mentioned, this unholy war is one-sided.) 

Moreover, the comparison  reveals the President’s ignorance—both of historical facts and of history itself as a field of study.

The Crusades – A Defensive War

First, the facts. The Crusades were not an unprovoked, aggressive action by Christians seeking to convert or harm others, as President Obama’s remarks suggest. Rather, they were a defensive military action launched on November 27, 1095, by Pope Urban II following centuries of unprovoked attacks by the first followers of Mohammed. The main themes of Pope Urban II’s speech,  captured in the notes of several sources, were as follows (translated from Latin): necessity of aiding brothers in the East, appeals for aid from the East, victorious advances of the Turks, sufferings of Christians, desecration or destruction of churches and holy places, sufferings of pilgrims to Jerusalem, importance of preserving Jerusalem as a holy site. These were the motives of the Crusades. Were the battles they inspired (fought in the standard military fashion known at the time, on both sides) such “terrible deeds”?  Even read centuries later in a hopefully more civilized time, they sound justifiable. (Indeed, the harms being done to Christians and their places of worship in the 9th and 10th centuries, as listed by Pope Urban II, sound worse than the offenses of King George of England against the American colonies, and no one, not even President Obama (yet) has called the battles of the American Revolution “terrible deeds in the name of liberty.”

The Inquisition - A Political Move

As for the Inquisition, the historical record shows that it was the creation not of clergy but rather of politicians—namely King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who established it by royal edit in 1492 as part of their Edict of Expulsion aimed at Jews, People of the Book, who were given four months to convert or leave the country. To atone for this movement (which spread throughout Spain, and lasted for three more centuries, generally focused on forcing conversion), King Juan Carlos of Spain wore a white yarmulke to pray alongside Israeli President Chaim Herzog. Terrible deeds, yes, but not done in the name of Christ. In fact the only mention of Christ per Se in the Edict that launched the Inquisition is found in its date (translated from the Castilian, “the year of the birth of our lord Jesus Christ one thousand four hundred and ninety-two years.”

In Closing: What is History?

As these lessons show, it is important to learn from the past. Importantly though, we can’t just pull facts out of past eras and juxtapose them against our own.  As a field of study, history understands that the actions of a particular era need to be understood in their own context.  So was it fair for President Obama to compare events that happened several hundred years ago to the actions of ISIS today? No.  

Comparisons across time fail to appreciate the full character of a people; each must be judged by standards of its own time. For example one might decry the seeming violence in parts of Hebrew Scripture. But we must bear in mind that this Scripture was written thousands of years ago during an era that could be called “tribal.” Indeed, it is clear that the Jewish people from the beginning possessed a sense of mercy extraordinary for their time – forgiving debt after seven years, caring for widows and orphans, showing mercy to the poor. Even the statement “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” represented extreme gentleness in comparison to the harsh standards of the time—when one might seek not merely revenge against an enemy but death to him and his whole family.

Fast forward to the year 2015 when most of the world is living under modern standards of fairness widely recognized, not just by Jews and Christians but by people of every faith and form of seeking. In this world of fair play, there is only one organized movement that would throw us all back to savage, pre-Abrahamic times. And that is Radical Islam.
We deserve a President who will call it by name and decry its crimes with passion – and not heap cool scorn upon its victims by ignoring their faith. He should bear in mind that the Jews these radicals target are the sons of Abraham - the first to know the Lord and to practice mercy. They endured a real Holocaust; we cannot ignore this new one. As for Christians, the President's reference to their "terrible deeds" as a group at any time in history is exactly wrong. Christians are the most harmless and defenseless group in the world because we follow a Lord who asks us to love and forgive our enemy—even as family members of the 21 are already doing. 
Let us honor these brothers, who are surely now in heaven interceding for us all.

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord: and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they and all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Reading List

January 7, 2014

In the marvelous musical Fiddler on the Roof, the hero Tevye sings his wistful dream, "If I Were a Rich Man." In words penned by Sheldon Harnick and through a melody from Jerry Bock, this hardworking and devoted husband and father says he would "find the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray, and maybe have a seat by the Eastern Wall. And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men seven hours every day. That would be the sweetest gift of all. Sigh." He longs to be called “Reb Tevye” in recognition of his longed-for learning.

I know how he feels! I often wish I had more time to read and discuss holy books. Being devout in my own faith (Catholic, and thus very close to Tevye’s tradition) I’ve been a daily reader of the Bible and various short meditations, including lives of saints, but for longer works? I never had the time time. Besides, I didn’t want to get TOO good.

But the good Lord has a way of leading us where we need to go.  His goodness appeals to us and we move toward it... 

Three years ago, faced with a personal dilemma, and in need of interior change, I started on a serious reading journey. The dilemma resolved but the reading has continued. This very short blog cannot do justice to those I have read but here is my reading list:

First I read every book I could find about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)—Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire, A Simple Path, Where There Is Love, There is God. These wonderful books, by quoting her writings and by describing her nature, brought her to me (and perhaps in the process she did look upon me from heaven as well), and from experience, I gained a desire to be holy.

Next I read the autobiography of Ste. Therese des Lisieux, who even as a cloistered nun had many dreams before her death at a young age yet she discovered: “my vocation is love.” She inspired me to try to live holiness not just in great deeds but in little ways.

 My journey then took me to the collected works of St. Teresa of Avila. Although she was writing in the 16th century her writings (which address a number of current events as well as the interior life) have a very modern feeling—even more than her namesakes in more modern times. She made me realize that God is working all around us even when we can’t see Him clearly.  

Then I began reading the works of Pope (now Emeritus) Benedict XVI, and kept reading his books even as he retired from the papacy, to be replaced by the beloved Pope Francis. The Jesus trilogy, the encyclicals, the apostolic exhortations, reflections on the Apotles…it’s been an adventure that continues now. (Until I have read every word I am not going to stop!)  When reading his writings, I feel that I am consuming the very Words of Love and Truth. In the Bible there is a beautiful passage that says when Jesus came back at first his disciples did not recognize him but then their eyes opened, in the breaking of the bread. This is a clear reference to Holy Eucharist but as Pope Benedict says of the Mass in The Sacrament of Charity, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are not part one and part two but inseparably combined.

Boi boi boi..Have I “posed problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes?” in Harnick’s adorable words. So be it! Thanks for reading. Please find your own holy books and stay on the path. We will all meet at the “Eastern Wall” some day to discuss.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On Being a Compassionate Conservative

What a world! It's upsetting to witness the current culture of anti-faith and anti-life humanists, voters who think the government owes them a living, glorification of violence by the game makers and movie directors, and sprawling federal bureaucracy causing overregulation and growing debt, to name just a few societal ills. Given these problems it's only natural that the Tea Party movement rose up. For the past few years, I've let their voices do the talking for me. They make a strong case for values we share: I'm Pro-life. Pro-prayer. Pro-Constitution. But after the Newtown, CT, massacre by assault weapon, I must part ways with any other conservative movement that tolerates these agents of mass destruction. You see, I'm Anti-assault weapon. Our Founding Fathers didn't need them, why do we? Remember George Bush Sr.'s phrase, "kindler, gentler nation"? What about his son George W. Bush's effort to lead the free world as a "compassionate conservative" with beloved Laura at his side? Oh how I miss those noble days. Lord, show us the way!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In the Spirit of Psalm 42

To Whom the 2012 Election Results May Concern: I was writing a note this morning to a fellow conservative, and found myself expressing this thought. "It's now pretty clear to me that we believers in God and in a free America are a minority living within a secularized nation. The only hope my heart can find this morning is to remember that the Jewish people, our ancestors in faith, lived for 40 years in Egypt and after that many years in captivity in Babylonia, yet kept their faith. And in the end, they reclaimed their beloved Israel. Just so shall we reclaim America...but the next four years is going to seem like 40." These words may be "over the top," but so be it. I'll post them to give fellow conservatives hope and patience. Alexandra

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

At Last Some Good News for Conservatives

Hello World. The handful of you who may encounter this blog will see that I've been pretty quiet since the change in Presidential Administration back in 2008 (it seems like decades ago). Politically speaking, to tell you the truth, I've been depressed! But now I feel a new sense of promise for America. Why? HERMAN CAIN. He is a well-educated, highly intelligent, principled, and visionary leader who would make a GREAT President; and his beloved wife Gloria would make a royal First Lady. Support for Cain is growing every day. Look at the strong and dignified way he is handling his campaign, including the recent transitory turbulence that deserves neither attention nor mention. I pledge to do what I can to help Mr. Cain secure the Republican nomination! HurryCain!


Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Great Day for Humanity

On May 1, the world learned that Osama Bin Laden is dead - killed by U.S. ground troops with the cooperation of officials in the country where he had found shelter, Pakistan.

It was a day of divine justice. Bin Laden, who presided over the killings of thousands of innocents has met his end. This same day (the first Sunday after Easter) is known to Catholics as Divine Mercy Sunday. What was the divine mercy shown this day? I do not believe that it was for the soul of Bin Laden, who never showed any signs of repentance (although I have prayed for his conversion). Rather, the mercy was on the thousands who have mourned the deaths of loved ones and who wanted and needed a sign that there is justice on this earth.

The beatification of Pope John Paul II on this same day seems more than coincidental. It seems that the heavens opened to show the glory of God, His mercy, and His righteousness.

In Ezekiel Chapter 7, Scripture says, "Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send my anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. Any mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee and ye shall now that I am the Lord.
...An end is come, and end is come: it watcheth for the; behold it is come."

Yes, the end has come to the evil Osama Bin Laden. Hallelujah. God bless our President, God bless President George W. Bush, God bless our troops, and God bless America.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama on your election earlier this month.

May the Lord watch over you and your family, and guide you in all your decisions.

Alexandra R. Lajoux

PS (written after Gitmo and Mexico City decisions) Mr. President, you are soft on terrorists and tough on babies. I pray you will have a change of heart and see that it's the innocent unborn, not arrested criminals, who most deserve tender consideration.