Saturday 12 November 2005

The Mystery of the Hole

I am a regular reader of Joe Kissel's column "Interesting Thing of the Day" -- I receive a daily email from him and the latest one is from his archive, a classic piece of historical "science" about donut holes found at .

(If you want to know more about Joe go here: and one of the interesting tidbits about his life you will find there is that while he does not consider himself a religious person, he can often be found attending the First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.)

Anyway, its so ironic that just a few days ago I shared a story about donuts called "The Mystery of the Hole" during the worship portion I happened to be leading for the every-other-month meeting of my local (Central Disrict Mennonite) pastor-peer group. The story I found offers quite humorous insight on the spiritual ramifications and life application to Joe's own historical and "scientific" experiment about donuts and their holes! I am boggled by how well these two pieces complement each other.

I found "The Mystery of the Hole" in an Amazon book review (excerpt) of a collection of stories from the early part of the 20th century written by one of the greatest preachers of the day, William Barton. Check it out at but you'll have to click on the photo of the book then click 6 times on the arrow to the right to get to that particular story to read the excerpt. It can't be printed or copied off these Amazon book excerpts. But its worth going there because the story truly is "priceless."

This should be worthy for your Saturday morning entertainment - and who knows, for some of you it might even provide a sermon starter for Sunday morning!


Tuesday 27 September 2005

Reflections: My Personal Experience During the Peace Rally/Celebration in Wash. D.C. Sept. 24

Some personal reflections composed Monday evening after I participated in part of the Sept. 24-26 "Support Our Troops - Bring Them Home Now" Peace Rally in Washington D.C. (held this past weekend):

I'm hearing very solid reports now that estimate about 300,000 of us were there at the March through D.C. on Saturday, in spite of Reuters' estimate of 100,000. The twelve hour chartered bus trip out Friday night, participating all day, and then trying to get some sleep on the same bus, riding it back all Saturday night was very physically strenuous, but so very worth it in spite of my weary bones. On Sunday, though back, I was wishing I was still there -- to join the Interfaith Peace and Justice Revival service sponsored by Clergy and Laity Concerned About Iraq: and on Monday I wished I could still be there for the civil disobedience actions they were preparing to conduct together. But I was certainly with them in spirit!

I had some very stimulating conversations on the bus on the way out Friday evening with a diversity of people from Goshen and all over southwestern Michigan. Then early on, during the march Saturday, first with a variety of other Mennonites (including a brief walk with fellow MennoLinker Duane Shenk and his daughter Celeste who also works for Sojourners now, as an editorial assistant), a very bright 13-year old boy among a large bunch of Quakers from Massachusetts whom I first thought had to be at least a college freshman - (he came up to me and talked about my sign reminding him of a quote from the philosopher Spinoza!)- a couple of ordinary citizens of D.C. whom I met in the Metro and asked me what difference I thought this march really would make, an Iraqi-American protester - one of whom gave me an an official Iraqi flag, students from all over the country, "Raging Grannies", Code Pink members, an extended conversation with the editor of the War Tax Resisters League, a Jesuit priest, several "centrist" progressives from Wisconsin who no longer trust the President, some socialist students from Holland, Michigan (on the bus with me) and some fellow peace activists from Kalamazoo I hadn't talked with for years. I could go on and on....

Here is what I heard that Cindy Sheehan said at the podium on Saturday during the PeaceMarch/Celebration: -- her words, while certainly heartfelt, were not really that profound. Yet her courage, her perseverance, and her powerful persona have been a key spark plug to ignite the current peace movement. I experienced a powerfully moving moment when the Lakota (South Dakota) NativeAmericans presented and wrapped Cindy with their quilt, which a number of us got to sign last Thursday evening right here in Goshen as they made their way east with fellow Faith Mennonite Church members who are current Mennonite Central Committee workers at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota: Karl Meyer and Karissa Loewen.

I think the Peace Movement has recently been undergoing a process of rebirth/reconstitution, and I agree with some others who are expressing relief that most of the mainline Democratic Party leadership is staying out of this movement which is now gathering steam. The one prominent Democrat leader who did come and also spoke, Jesse Jackson, entered the march at the pivotal point in front of the White House, his body guards pushing their way through the marchers already there, so he could get his photo op in that spot. I didn't see this personally, but I sure heard about it from some disgusted students on the bus who did and who expressed they lost all respect for him and his antics that day. (One called him a real SOB.) Personally I'm not sure how I feel about all this. Cindy Sheehan herself certainly felt supported by him.

I took over 30 memorable photographs with my wife's Trio (cell phone/PDA/with built in camera) but later realized the resolution was so poor on them it would be an embarrassment to post them.

The most memorable speech for me, personally, came in the late afternoon, Saturday, in the midst of the concert sponsored and organized by United for Peace, which was interspersed with some rather moving oratory. I'll never forget how transfixed I was, indeed, how motivated I felt while listening to this one: (I acquired the transcript Monday evening from Democracy Now's website.)


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to NBA player Etan Thomas, among the celebrities who supported the protest this weekend. He's a basketball player with the Washington Wizards.

ETAN THOMAS: Giving all honor, thanks and praises to God for courage and wisdom, this is a very important rally. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding a tremendous problem that we are currently facing. This problem is universal, transcending race, economic background, religion, and culture, and this problem is none other than the current administration which has set up shop in the White House.
In fact, I'd like to take some of these cats on a field trip. I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner and no seatbelts and round up Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr. and Bush Sr., John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson and any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, and take them all on a trip to the 'hood. Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off and leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed and no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance.

I'd show them working families that make too much to receive welfare but not enough to make ends meet. I'd employ them with jobs with little security, let them know how it feels to be an employee at will, able to be fired at the drop of a hat. I'd take away their opportunities, then try their children as adults, sending their 13-year-old babies to life in prison. I'd sell them dreams of hopelessness while spoon-feeding their young with a daily dose of inferior education. I'd tell them no child shall be left behind, then take more money out of their schools, tell them to show and prove themselves on standardized exams testing their knowledge on things that they haven't been taught, and then I'd call them inferior.

I'd soak into their interior notions of endless possibilities. I'd paint pictures of assisted productivity if they only agreed to be all they can be, dress them up with fatigues and boots with promises of pots of gold at the end of rainbows, free education to waste terrain on those who finish their bid. Then I'd close the lid on that barrel of fool's gold by starting a war, sending their children into the midst of a hostile situation, and while they're worried about their babies being murdered and slain in foreign lands, I'd grace them with the pain of being sick and unable to get medicine.

Give them health benefits that barely cover the common cold. John Q. would become their reality as HMOs introduce them to the world of inferior care, filling their lungs with inadequate air, penny pinching at the expense of patients, doctors practicing medicine in an intricate web of rationing and regulations. Patients wander the maze of managed bureaucracy, costs rise and quality quickly deteriorates, but they say that managed care is cheaper. They'll say that free choice in medicine will defeat the overall productivity, and as co-payments are steadily rising, I'll make their grandparents have to choose between buying their medicine and paying their rent.

Then I'd feed them hypocritical lines of being pro-life as the only Christian way to be. Then very contradictingly, I'd fight for the spread of the death penalty, as if thou shall not kill applies to babies but not to criminals.

Then I'd introduce them to those sworn to protect and serve, creating a curb in their trust in the law. I'd show them the nightsticks and plungers, the pepper spray and stun guns, the mace and magnums that they'd soon become acquainted with, the shakedowns and illegal search and seizures, the planted evidence, being stopped for no reason. Harassment ain't even the half of it. Forty-one shots to two raised hands, cell phones and wallets that are confused with illegal contrabands. I'd introduce them to pigs who love making their guns click like wine glasses. Everlasting targets surrounded by bullets, making them a walking bull's eye, a living piƱata, held at the mercy of police brutality, and then we'll see if they finally weren't aware of the truth, if their eyes weren't finally open like a box of Pandora.

I'd show them how the other side of the tracks carries the weight of the world on our shoulders and how society seems to be holding us down with the force of a boulder. The bird of democracy flew the coop back in Florida. See, for some, and justice comes in packs like wolves in sheep's clothing. T.K.O.d by the right hooks of life, many are left staggering under the weight of the day, leaning against the ropes of hope. When your dreams have fallen on barren ground, it becomes difficult to keep pushing yourself forward like a train, administering pain like a doctor with a needle, their sequels continue more lethal than injections.

They keep telling us all is equal. I'd tell them that instead of giving tax breaks to the rich, financing corporate mergers and leading us into unnecessary wars and under-table dealings with Enron and Halliburton, maybe they can work on making society more peaceful. Instead, they take more and more money out of inner city schools, give up on the idea of rehabilitation and build more prisons for poor people. With unemployment continuing to rise like a deficit, it's no wonder why so many think that crime pays.

Maybe this trip will make them see the error of their ways. Or maybe next time, we'll just all get out and vote. And as far as their stay in the White House, tell them that numbered are their days.

AMY GOODMAN: Etan Thomas with the Washington Wizards, basketball player at the largest antiwar protest in Washington since the protest against the invasion of Iraq.

Postscripts: Another writer apparently agreed with my assessment! Today, (Tuesday) the day after I wrote these reflections, I noticed an article posted on Common Dreams entitled "The Speech Everyone Is Talking About: Etan Thomas Electrifies Anti-War Washington" by Dave Zirin -

...and here is someone else's first person story documenting experiences quite similar to mine:

...of course, there are always going to be detractors and naysayers -- saying this was just "a side show." This was often said during the time the Anti-Viet Nam War protest movement was heating up. Does this sentiment, from another political corner, sound familiar? :

Tuesday 23 August 2005

Why its never "too late" to do the right thing...

I believe August 2005 will go down as marking another watershed moment in American history - when the Anti-Iraq War movement truly went "mainstream." George W. Bush, in another apparent lapse of good judgement, probably still has no idea what sort of movement he galvanized when he chose to ignore the likes of Cindy Sheehan camped out near his own backyard. The steadfast action and clear message Cindy's friends and supporters have sent in response, has unleashed a tremendous groundswell of unresolved grief, pent-up anger and frustration. Significant numbers of people from across mainstream America are now gaining courage to go public with their questions about this "noble cause."

Obviously, the potency of this theme - "support the troops by bringing them home now" - can be measured by who is leading the charge: not just the traditional leaders of the longstanding peace movement -- but this time, primarily, veterans groups and parents of the soldiers themselves - the "Gold Star" families, the most difficult sector of the American public to ignore!

Ray McGovern works for "Tell the Word", the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC, and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Last Wednesday, he arrived home in Arlington, VA, after five days in Crawford, and shared these poignant and powerful remarks with 300 neighbors at the close of a candlelight observance in honor of Cindy Sheehan, whom he refers to as "the Rosa Parks of Crawford, Texas" :

I've also been rather impressed by the ongoing clips and reports from TruthOut, a great alternative soure to the mainstream media reports about what is really happening (and why) at Camp Casey:

September 2005 holds great promise for a convergence of major proportions within the anti-war movement -- in Congress' own backyard of Washington D.C. I don't want to miss it this time around!

If you feel the same way, keep informed of transportation options and other organization details at: (if you are a local reader from Michiana) or (regarding efforts and talking points from "Clergy and Laity Concerned" and "United For Peace and Justice")


Wednesday 20 July 2005

Follow-up regarding "Down the Rabbit Hole or Reality?"

Here is the gist of an e-mail dialogue with a questioning friend, along with some personal reflections, in response to my previous post. My friend asked: "I'm curious. What, exactly, do you consider the political significance of the alleged additional explosions in the WTC?

I responded with: Good question! Read this story and perhaps you'll start to get the bigger picture:

By the way, regarding WTC #7 which fell at 5:20 pm on 9/11:

March 2, 2002: A New York Times article theorizes that a diesel fuel tank was responsible for the collapse of WTC Building 7. It collapsed on 9/11, even though it was farther away than many other buildings that remained standing. It was the first time a steel-reinforced high-rise in the US had ever collapsed in a fire. The fuel tank had been installed in 1999 as part of a new "command center" for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. [New York Times, 3/2/02, Dow Jones News, 9/10/02]

What's curious, especially given all the Wall Street scandals later in the year, is that Building 7 was where the SEC stored files for numerous Wall Street investigations. All the files for approximately 3,000 to 4,000 SEC cases were destroyed. Some were backed up in other places, but many were not, especially those classified as confidential. [National Law Journal, 9/17/01]

Lost files include documents that could show the relationship between Citigroup and the WorldCom bankruptcy. [The Street, 8/9/02]

The Secret Service also lost investigative files. Says one agent: "All the evidence stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building." [Tech TV, 7/23/02]

A few days later, the head of the WTC collapse investigation says he "would possibly consider examining" the collapse of Building 7, however, all the rubble has been removed and destroyed. [Committee on Science, House of Representativestestimony, 3/6/02]

Also, did you know that a great deal of the debris from 9/11 was quickly shipped off to China. Hmmmm? Is it any wonder why? --Clair


My friend replied: I think you're gonna have to spell it out for me. I'm picking up on some insinuations, but nothing solid. What do you think the "truth" is in regards to the alleged basement explosion?

And so I responded again:

OK, maybe this will give you something solid to chew on for a while:

At least that did it for my father, who is quite mechanically minded -- it really sat him back on his haunches and stimulated some sober reflection and discussion, just like it affected me when I first read it. The logical conclusion I get from it all (and I join a host of others in this who have "been there" a lot longer than I have) is that, at a minimum, a highly secret and very professionally-designed controlled demolition, well planned ahead of time by a company with a contract to do "official business" of that nature, took the three towers down. The identities are still a secret but there are some clues. It seems logical to me, if that is the case, that "someone" (I honestly don't know who all) within very high levels of the government would have had to know, likely at a very high level in our current administration.

Some very rational persons conclude this does indeed imply a conspiracy to pull off an inside job -- the victims lives be damned -- to instigate a modern Pearl Harbor, fire up the war machine and insure world dominion by the rulers of this nation, according to the motives of the comprehensive PNAC plan. According to this theory, the control center for the operation on the twin towers was likely in WTC7 in a secret reinforced bunker inside that building that could withstand 160 mph wind, and then they took all that evidence down that evening at 5:20 pm.

The tragic results we experienced would had to have been expected -- coldly and shockingly calculated to provide an excuse to ignite support for the current war we now have -- so that a base for controlling (energy) oil reserves in the Middle East could be established long term. (By setting up a puppet government in Iraq and manipulating the fickle mainstream press Stateside just as we have seen them do.)

Whether or not there was collusion at high levels, it seems clear now that those perpetrating this war strategy didn't count on being stuck in it now like they are: waaaay over their heads in an impossible conundrum, with civilians in the administration trying to call the key shots and making mistake after mistake. Recently, one courageous general who was in charge of the Falluja operation came out publicly recently to say that he and his cohorts were absolutely appalled by their orders (with his impression that they came directly from the White House) to take Falluja down like they did. They knew what the long term fallout would be. The military didn't want to do it, but they had to follow orders.

If one only takes into consideration only the facts already established, published, "out there" in the mainstream press: the explosions, the aftermath of 9/11, then the build up and execution of war in Iraq -- and one can read the whole sweep of these all pulled together in one place on this excellent summary at: -- from my vantage point the vast patterns of control and obfuscation come ever so much more sharply into focus.

Things were unraveling just a bit too much and too fast lately, so Bush gave that recent speech again: 9/11-Iraq, 9/11-Iraq, 9/ keep the drumbeat rolling.

Now looking forward:

I guess we shall have to watch and see what happens, but in the meantime I believe we can collectively make quite an impact if we all do our part. I hope this blog contributes just one more little ripple to the collection in the big pond. There are many so very much better than mine.

I'm hoping that FINALLY the mainstream media, with the excuse that the bloggers are leading the way in investigative journalism, will have to unfold what has been so long suppressed among the masses of the American people, who still, for the most part, don't have a clue about what has been there all along in the alternative press. Europeans are being much more astute in these matters.

I predict that within the next year a quest for the truth behind this scenario will be sought by a bolder mainstream press, more former officials with great reputation and but nothing to lose politically will confirm more disturbing elements of this scenario, the story will increasingly unravel to a wider public, and the Bush administration is going to have its hands full - very full! If operatives within the current administration were somehow in collusion with the demolition theory, there are vast political implications indeed. (Although I admit, proving this may never be accomplished before Bush's term is over.)

At minimum, political progressives, in preparation for the next election, need to have someone in line powerful enough to call for investigation as to why the 9/11 commission deliberately ignored the testimony corroborating some of this information, and "clean house" at the higher levels of the FBI and CIA, if necessary. (I personally suspect the manipulation of Cheney and Rove, and the rest of the neocon/PNAC inner circle.) Perhaps George W. Bush was set up as a stool pigeon -- it seems obvious to me, at least up until now, that he's always been told what to say and do by the "omnipotents" Rove and Cheney. Of course, it could be that I undersell Bush and don't give him enough credit for being able to think for himself!

Either way, whether or not he is complicit in these dreadful actions, I do believe that our Commander-in-Chief is wholly incompetent -- and more and more American people are starting to see an emperor with no clothes on. I hope this makes just a smidgen of sense, and am glad for the push to articulate what I really feel and think about this subject.


Tuesday 19 July 2005

Down the Rabbit Hole -- or REALITY? (The 9/11 Truth Movement)

[Preface: The recent London bombings, with clear evidence of "simultaneous exercises" being conducted by the authorities in the exact same places at the exact same time make one wonder who really is "in control" and gave a huge boost to the veracity of those within the "9/11 Truth Movement." Most people will think you have gone down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, if you talk about these matters, unless they are willing to deal with facts and logic, based upon largely heretofore suppressed evidence -- like the following stories have to offer. There is more, plenty more actually, from a variety of "alternative news" websites, but I have tried to select only those sources with the highest of integrity, who utilize original, trustworthy sources themselves.]

If you haven't really heard of the "9/11 Truth Movement" yet, know that it is rapidly gathering steam across this land. In order to educate, I have provided below some links to pertinent news articles and video resources. They aptly illustrate just how pervasive and powerful the "control" really is, by high level leaders in the Bush administration, over the vast majority of the American people. They even explain the ways and means the neocons utilize to effect a massive cover-up in the mainstream press...but only thus far. For in recent times many retired public servants, now private sector citizens "in the know", are coming forward to share their corner of the truth with the hope of blowing this thing wide open. Yes, powerful forces may have, until now, been able to manipulate (via threat of ruined careers, financial incentives, or otherwise) the mainstream press regarding the truth of 9/11, but it is finally starting to bubble up. As we know, the truth itself can never, ultimately, be suppressed! And, obviously, the "alternative press" on the internet and in the "blogosphere" has been quite busy of late:
(Headline: One-On-One Interview With Ray McGovern, Former CIA Senior Analyst For 27 Years, Who Warns U.S. Headed Down A Fascist Road And Highly Critical Of President Bush and Neo Con Explanations Of WMD, 9/11 And Manipulation of Intelligence Gathering)
Ray McGovern is now associated with ‘Tell the Word,’ a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC; he writes and speaks for the arm of Tell the Word called ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ and many of his articles on intelligence issues have appeared regularly in national publications. A friend of mine, Audrey Metz, who works at the COTS Potter's House bookstore, told me she knows him personally, and can vouch for his total integrity.
(WTC Maintenance Worker "hero" whose story was suppressed by the NYTimes and book publishers, announces plans for an upcoming national "9/11 Truth Speaking Tour" while appearing as a guest on the St. Louis Drive-Time Morning Radio Show.) He reveals about how after extensive interviews by the New York Times and others about his experience, they have left him out of the stories, the book, and other official accounts. Why? He's fed up and making noise -- lots of it.
(Headline: Former Vietnam Combat and Commercial Pilot Firm Believer 9/11 Was Inside Government Job; An Experienced Boeing 757/767 Pilot, He Says 'No Way' Could a Novice Fly the 'Big Birds' He Knew So Well.) So, this expert pilot has decided he is no longer going to stay silent either! This interview would be a good one for someone steeped in the military or in aviation.

Many aviators have apparently known for some time that a Boeing 757 (as reported) could never have been the plane to hit the Pentagon. The hole was way too small, no wreckage of any plane was strewn about after the crash there, and a missile likely created that fire and hole, directed there by a small jet controlled by a very secret sector of the military. And how many realize what was reported in only a few places, e.g. the Boston Globe:

"In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings. But the cause wasn't terrorism -- it was to be a simulated accident. Officials at the Chantilly, Va.-based National Reconnaissance Office [NRO] had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency's headquarters building after experiencing a mechanical failure. The agency is about four miles from the runways of Washington Dulles International Airport." [So, it was just a short hop for the NRO team to run over and secure the Pentagon. And, by the way, the NRO has a budget estimated to be three times that of the US State Department. And how plausible is it, really, that the Pentagon, the most highly protected building in the entire world, could undergo something like this without official "permission" at a very high level?]

The best overall summary of the issues from a Christian perspective, would be the 60 minute C-SPAN lecture that theologian David Ray Griffin gave at the University of Wisconsin (in Madison) in April, which has been rebroadcast a couple of times since then. Watch it online for free at and please don't miss the following 20 minutes of questions and answers. Some of those responses are "priceless" -- but I'm also warning that your perception of the truth just might get altered forever if you exercise your own logic at all and follow his argument. It's Griffin's new book which made a "believer" out of Ray McGovern! Far from being a crackpot, Prof. Griffin's bio is very impressive:

Anyone who wishes to invest further time, will benefit from more eye-openers and pertinent testimony, with links to original sources, summarized at this very well-organized blog:

If you've gotten this far, it will be more than enough to put chills down your back -- and certainly it does take some time to absorb -- at least it did in my own case, as I took this mental and emotional journey in recent weeks. Reading and pondering this stuff will either generate complete disbelief, or sober reflection. If its the later, I hope it will also generate the sort of inner call to action that is rooted in faith. I see signs of this gradually emerging in an organized way amidst various groups across our land calling for accountability and prophetic witness. I suggest measured engagement rooted in much prayer.

Many in other sectors of the world have gained a very good handle on these issues and can hardly believe what we are willing to put up with in America. Is it any wonder that the vast amount of general good will and trust in America invested by most other members of the international community has been almost totally squandered?

I think we have been duped as an American people -- duped about as much as the German Christians were during the early rise of Nazi-ism. I am convinced of tremendous spiritual forces at work in very high places in our country -- just not the kind the vast majority of evangelical American Christians think of when they so blindly "bless" and support the current Bush adminstration. (Lest people wonder, I consider myself an evangelical, in the classic sense of the word -- and at this point I'm neither Republican NOR Democrat!)

Let us hope and pray. Let us "be not afraid" to take faithful, symbolic, prophetic actions together. I'm banking on the hope that we have not already lost the opportunity to learn from history, and turn the tide from the tremendous momentum the neocons have so deliberately generated already. And most of all, I'm banking on the truth found in scripture where it says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." JOHN 8:31-32 NIV (emphasis added)

(A final note: I do very much welcome others' responses below, pro or con, but only after readers have done the work to delve into some of these sources I've mentioned.)

Clair Hochstetler

Sunday 12 June 2005

Adversity can bring out the very best! (Thoughts about dealing with cancer)

Last Sunday afternoon Sam Donaldson, the veteran newsman from ABC and a survivor of lymphoma, was here to help our health system colleagues, patients, and friends from the community celebrate with 155 cancer survivors (my own mother among them) all of whom have survived cancer for at least five years -- and all treated by our new Center for Cancer Care here in Goshen. The CCC program was established only approximately six years ago, but has already brought us national attention and, fortunately for us, attracted some "world class" cancer doctors, and some very special accreditation, as well. (See the news release summarizing these developments at: )

Mr. Donaldson predicted that what we have here in Goshen may very well become the next "Mayo Clinic" -- starting in a very small town but growing rapidly because of the quality of care and cutting edge approaches to treatment. I don't know about that -- time will tell. What I do know is that I feel privileged to work here in this capacity and to be a real part of what's happening. However, what stood out in my mind was something else Sam said that earlier today really "struck home."

Mr. Donaldson affirmed a fact -- that there has NEVER been a cancer that someone hasn't survived. This profound thought figured prominently in his own story and in the type of attitude and relationship he had with his own cancer doctor -- it is a message of hope, indeed.

Then a few days later I encountered the story that truly grabbed my attention -- an unfolding autobiographical account by 23 year-old Alicia Parlette in a 7-part series in the San Francisco Chronicle. When I came across it at first, midweek, I thought I was too busy to read it because of the length, but she drew me in after the first page. It's a story of her own fight with a very rare form of cancer, a certain type of sarcoma, which was discovered while she was working as a copy editor at the SFC. Her self-disclosure is a poignant witness to the importance that family, friends and faith have become -- especially when the news is bad.

I absorbed the first four installments right away, and have kept up daily ever since. Her journal surveys the emotional and spiritual map of a young cancer patient like nothing I've ever quite read before -- and is extremely relevant to my own work in spiritual care here with the Goshen Health System

Not only is it a powerful read, but what really was the kicker for me on Wednesday was to hear, in her own voice, her reflections and responses regarding the new directions her life has taken over the past three months -- during an interview with Alex Chadwick, which originally aired Tuesday on NPR's program "Day to Day." You can listen to her yourself at NPR's archive of programs online; they also have a link to Alicia's journal installments the SF Chronicle is publishing daily and which are stored on their own online archives. Find that link to the series in the upper left corner of NPR's website at:

or you can read them directly at . On Thursday, after being duly inspired by what I had just read in that day's installment, I sent Alicia an e-mail link to a special card I created for her to see --at least I hope she'll see it-- in response that emotionally and spiritually-charged section of her saga. Anyone reading as far as the end of installment #5 will understand this card's significance:

By the way, you can copy this link and send it along to anyone else you wish at any time, as a word of encouragement or reassurance, since I intentionally created the card for that purpose. I deliberately didn't personalize" the card itself with Alicia's name. I created it with my
personal subscription to the artist Jacquie Lawson's website, so it will last pretty much "in perpetuity" * housed indefinitely at a certain section of the internet, even if my subscription eventually runs out. In other words, this link will always "work" when clicked upon, and without ANY associated advertisements (unlike most cards you get or see nowadays...)

Today, Saturday, I see that ABC News has made Alicia Parlette the "Person of the Week!" Wow. Read their summary here:


- Clair

Saturday 11 June 2005

This could well be another "tipping point" in American history

"The Downing Street Memo" case is FINALLY building up a head of steam. I watched President Bush's attempts to wriggle away from the truth it reveals (an impeachable offence, actually) in the June 7 press conference with Tony Blair. Williams Rivers Pitt is spot on as he traces this case, and its implications, in an eloquent yet factual fashion at:

As the pressure on the US media moguls has finally bubbled up strong enough to force their cooperation in prying open this issue, it would seem that an excellent strategy would now be to take some of GWB's advice-in his own words: "See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

But this time it's a whole lot more than propaganda. A massive coalition of activist groups have come together to form the "After Downing Street Coalition" which seeks coverage of this issue in the media and accountability from Congress and the administration. Their website contains the original source document together with excellent analysis; especially noteworthy is a freshly posted chapter from Ray McGovern's forthcoming book, "Sham Dunk: Cooking Intelligence for the President." (For more on Mr. McGovern, see my note below. *)

Rep. John Conyers and 88 other House members have delivered a letter to Bush demanding answers, and nearly 200,000 Americans have already signed their support for this letter. The signatures list is growing by leaps and bounds; according to John Conyers website, lately at the rate of approximately ten signatures per minute.

Some historians of the Vietnam War era deem that a major "tipping point" for America then was the magazine cover showing the 75 people who had died in Vietnam the previous week -- because it finally brought the face of the war home to the people. 911 was an attack on our own soil and many people are still worried stiff that something may happen to them and their children; that they need THIS president and his administration to protect them. Otherwise why would so many smart women vote for Bush against their own self interest except out of fear for their families?

The truth is most Americans still don't read blogs; in fact, sadly, most people today don't even pay much attention anymore to newspapers. They simply don't want to take the time. So they digest whatever is fed to them on their favorite television channel or talk radio station. It's also likely that the phrase "The Downing Street Memo" doesn't really communicate to listeners very well as to what it is all about -- it just sounds like something that only concerns the British, and it, like other "smoking guns" that we have all seen come and go along the way, hasn't interested the general public very much, allowing the major media outlets to keep the lid on it -- thus far. But no more.

When key media sources start to screw up enough courage and independence from their parent company owners to do a full scale review of the time frame of this memo and the other pre-Iraq invasion set-ups (including a reminder to the American people about Richard Clarke's story about Bush coming to him right after 9/11 and asking how they could tie the attack to Iraq) then something substantial might happen.

So, my friends, this could very well be "the moment!" We now all have the opportunity to help keep those Minutes in the forefront. I think June of 2005 could well go down in history as "the tipping point" in this Iraq War and the demise of the administration of GWB.

If you want to sign the "Downing Street Memo" letter calling for straightforward answers from the President, and be kept up to date with a coordinated strategy keep in touch with this website:

As Mr. Pitt says in his last paragraph: "Large majorities of Americans, in every poll, believe the Iraq invasion was unnecessary and the casualties thus far inflicted to be unacceptable. For the first time, the poll numbers show that a clear majority of the American people no longer believe that George W. Bush is keeping them safe. Bi-partisan coalitions are forming in Congress to demand that the US withdraw from Iraq and give that nation back to the people who live there, and those coalitions are edging towards majority-sized numbers. Legislation has been presented demanding withdrawal and more is in the offing."


* Ray McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. Ray is now co-director of the Servant Leadership School, which provides training and other support for those seeking ways to be in relationship with the marginalized poor. The School is one of ten Jubilee Ministries, not-for-profit organizations inspired by the ecumenical Church of the Saviour and established in an inner-city neighborhood in Washington, DC.

At his CIA retirement ceremony, Ray received the Intelligence Commendation Medal and a letter from then-president George H. W. Bush wishing him well in his transition to non-profit work in inner-city Washington. Ray served on the board of Bread for the City from 1989-94, the latter two years as president, before becoming co-director of the Servant Leadership School.

Friday afternoon this week an advance chapter entitled "Sham Dunk: Cooking Intelligence for the President" from Ray McGovern's forthcoming two-volume set on the Iraq war, "Neo-CONNED!" and "Neo-CONNED! Again", published by Light in the Darkness Publications, was posted at This comprehensive two-volume work deals with the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq war containing groundbreaking and uncompromising analysis from 84 different contributors. Read this key chapter (a PDF version is also available) at:

The substance of this book, as it becomes more widely read, will make it increasingly difficult for President Bush to wriggle away from probing reporters' questions regarding the "Downing Street Minutes" issue, as he did Tuesday this week.

--Clair Hochstetler

Saturday 2 April 2005

It's hard to fool around with suffering, pain...and death

I started out the day scheming how to pull a fast one on the other readers of one of my favorite e-lists. I posted this: and it did take a few by surprise - before they realized what date it was...heh, heh!

However, this day didn't go as planned. Unexpected "developments", both at home and in the news, kept sucking me in with all sorts of juxtaposing themes that are not to be fooled with. People all over the world tonight are thinking and praying about the best way to deal with the injustice of pain, suffering, and death. It's a sweeping choice: to deny the inevitability of suffering and pain...and sometimes death...or to embrace it and learn from it.

My dear wife, Carole Anne, could not talk when she awoke this morning, full of fever and phlegm (what an ugly word!) A fine nurse-neighbor and I made her go with me to the doctor this afternoon. She could hardly make a go of it. I tell myself I'm going to be "OK", but I know I'm bracing for the follow-up "punch" in my own body...hoping against hope...some of this stuff can last for days they say. "What a waste of time, this sorry business of being sick," she tells me...

I try to tend to an anxious family who hears that a loved one has been in a terrible accident, but they don't know that she died, and that the body had been taken from "the field" to some other place. Yet they show up here, and we can't officially tell them anything, until the "right people" arrive. How to offer comfort in such a situation when we know the truth, but the truth can't even be told? That's ironic.

I find out later this afternoon, by reading my email, that an extremely talented and professional chaplain friend in another state got RIFed at his hospital today -- it literally felt, to him and his friends, like a kick in the stomach, all the joy just sucked away. They were making him clean out his desk just hours later. Wishing it were but a cruel April Fool's joke, we feel helpless in the face of it all, except to communicate the sorrow. Ironic, since he tends to be such a joyous fellow. The familiar tag line on his emails was this quote: "You need chaos within, to give birth to a dancing star." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Ironic, too.

That should be plenty of chaos for one day. But as I write this 20-20 is interviewing live, a hospice chaplain commenting on the state of the Pope. He lies on his bed of affliction, filled with his characteristic deep serenity as he suffers through the last hours of his life, refusing to be taken to a hospital -- asking to have the story of Jesus' death and burial read to him, knowing his end is near, while millions are praying for his recovery. Ironic indeed.

Meanwhile Michael Schiavo and his deceased wife's parents wrangle over their own funeral plans for Terri - a battle that just won't quit. No peace there yet, and not likely to come for quite some time. More than ironic, just really, really sad.

What are we learning about the best way to face the prospects of suffering, pain, and the end of our lives? Lots of moral, ethical, and spiritual issues to deal with. I would say there is plenty of fodder for the sermons this weekend...

I sure don't want to miss Nightline this evening, after reading the following:

April 1, 2005

Today is the sort of day that gives television producers gray hair. It began about 3 a.m. when the beeper went off at my bedside: the Pope is dead. I crawled out of bed, got on the phone, got on the computer...the beeper went off again: the Pope is not dead. It has been that kind of day. We have no idea who our guests will be, because a number of people are only comfortable speaking if it is known that Pope John Paul II has died. By late afternoon it's time to commit to a broadcast that can hold up whatever the news.

And so tonight we focus on the pope's very public display of the suffering that comes with his illness. It is clearly his last great chance to teach.

The lesson is that suffering is a fact of life, that suffering is to be embraced. Accepting suffering can make us more understanding of the suffering of our fellow man. That's the subject. Guests to be determined later.

And then we will devote the last part of the broadcast to an extraordinary moment. It happened in Los Angeles in 1987. A vigorous, athletic Pope John Paul II jumped from the stage to embrace the suffering of a young man who was born without arms. It brought many of us to tears today. We promise that it will live with you for a long time.

Tom Bettag & the "Nightline" Staff, Executive Producer, ABC News Washington Bureau


No, I guess its not good idea to fool around with suffering and pain. But it's a great idea to show that you really care.

I was informed today about how the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization launched its brand new website today, chock full of timely resources to help us try to deal with all these themes personally:

For one thing, an extensive section on Advance Care Planning (yes, including free, and accurate, Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney forms applicable to each and every state.) Plus many more topics like: Caregiving, Dealing with Pain, Financial Planning, Hospice Care, Grief, etc. (I checked out their extensive menus dropping down from each of the links at the top of their home page -- all pretty solid stuff. Enough to keep us all from fooling around with "denial" and prepare for whatever might befall us in the future:

I really like the tone of the acronymn they have there, good pointers for finding meaning in our lives and putting our trust in the future, come what may!

L - learn
I - implement
V - voice
E - engage


Like my favorite hymn says:

My life flows on in endless song, above Earth's lamentation.
I hear the sweet though far off hymn, it hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

No foolin' !


Thursday 17 March 2005

Sunday 13 March 2005

Regarding the Elkhart County, IN - Iraq Vigil from 7-8 pm on March 19

Go to and punch in your zip code. There you will find a very brief description of each vigil now being organized in your own region for Saturday, March 19, 2005, the 2nd anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Since no one else had came forward and it was only a week away, I finally registered as a host/organizer for Elkhart County, IN, composed the description for the Sojourner's website regarding what I envisioned happening locally, and began to conceptualize planning and other publicity for such an event.

So, here is the next step for interested readers in this and nearby communities: I've already sent the following information to the local media. Please feel free to share this rather widely among your own network of friends, church email lists and community organizations -- especially since this was not issued in time for any Sunday morning church bulletins:


A special candlelight vigil will be held from 7-8 pm, March 19 outside (surrounding) the Elkhart County Courthouse, in conjunction with hundreds of similar vigils being held across the country on this day. The local vigil's purposes are to call on people of all faiths from Goshen and the surrounding communities to come together:

1) to remember and pray for the dead (1500 Americans; tens of thousands Iraqis, among soldiers and civilians) and the many wounded (10,000 Americans, countless Iraqis)

2) to mourn the immense financial and human cost of this war both domestically and in Iraq on the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. (U.S. citizens have also suffered on the domestic front, as crucial programs that benefit low-income families have been threatened and the already- ballooning national deficit has swelled to compensate for the cost of war.)

3) to experience renewal of moral and spiritual strength, as we collectively pray together for lasting peace and true security at home and abroad.

The vigil will involve special readings and prayers, silent reflection, and participation from a cross section of persons in the community. It is being organized by people who believe that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican – by people who desire to include the young and the aging, war veterans, persons with family members or relatives in Iraq, peace workers who have served in Iraq, and any others directly affected by this war. Plan to join in and bring your candle (and drip protector), your friend(s), and a prayerful spirit on that hour.

For further information, go to


Some personal thoughts on the matter:

This invitation is inclusive and overt because too often we have not been intentional enough within our communication networks about inviting members of different faiths...or those with direct involvement in the military, their families, war veterans, Iraqis, peace workers, and any others directly affected by the war in Iraq.

It is my hope that certain willing members of these groups can be identified in our community who will make themselves available to briefly share from their own perspective during this vigil, in keeping with the overall objectives as stated above. Such an experience has the potential to open up new lines of authentic communication within our community, especially during and immediately after the vigil.

Some may express a desire to participate, but will need to deal with fear of social consequences later. They will need to hear your personal word of encouragement and your knowledge of who all is invited in order to feel safe to participate. There is no substitute for motivation derived from your personal relationship.

It would also be nice if we could fill up all the sidewalks surrounding the courthouse that evening! It will be good to let the public know there is a strong concern in our community regarding the various ways this war has powerfully impacted the lives of people, both here and abroad!

People are not really required to sign up ahead of time to attend this Elkhart County vigil, but it could help those of us organizing it to anticipate the size and scope of literature needs and other aspects in planning if they do. To do so, go to:

“…What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Clair Hochstetler

Thursday 24 February 2005

Thoughts On Relating With Those Who Believe "There Is No Tomorrow"

Bill Moyers made a now-famous speech called "There is no tomorrow" upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School on Dec. 1, 2004. After a great introduction he launches in:

"As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge - to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

"Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back..."

Here is a link to Moyers' original speech, posted at Common Dreams where it first appeared, so folks can run off their own copy and more easily digest it:

Reading this is scary, even though Moyers probably overstates the issue a bit. But more importantly, we really do have to learn to work with and relate with "grass roots" people who have the sort of mentality he decries. This evening, while reading Moyers' remarks again, I recognized that some powerful, visceral personal feelings and memories were aroused. I think I understand all too well -- this rightist fundamentalist bent -- having grown up in rural Marshall County, IN, and soaked in a strong dose of it in my earlier years. That is, until I could properly address it after going through my biblical studies training at Eastern Mennonite College, including a final term of study-travel in the Middle East under Willard Swartley's tutelage (now retired professor and former dean of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries.)

I remember coming home from the Middle East, graduating two days later, then traipsing back home to the corn fields and the daily tete-a-tete with the other "conservatives" on my construction crew -- I was experiencing a very strong theological and cultural dissonance. I could no longer take the theological, cultural, and relational experiences that loomed large in my experience and stuff them into neat little dispensations -- the package I'd grown up with. After a couple of weeks, when I could stand it no longer, I talked with my pastor. He, wisely, instead of arguing, invited me to prepare and deliver three "integrating" sermons at my home church the next month. I struggled in those weeks to sort it all out -- to interpret a broader world view and biblical message; to confront this sort of militaristic pre-millennial "preoccupation" and " we're in the last days anyway" mentality my own rural Mennonite congregation was swimming in at the time; to share my experiences without portraying a holier-than-thou attitude.

This was July of 1975. I was 21 years old then; still learning about the nuances of effective communication, measuring the risks of offending the ears who hear, and the impact of my words on the relationships involved. Yet, I don't think neither I, nor my Dad (whose fundamentalist tendencies I challenged then, as I tested my thoughts and interpretations -- and in whom I delightfully observed a sort of "mellowing out") were ever quite the same again, after that stretching, and actually fairly positive, integrating experience. As most of you would know, you don't really know something until you can "teach it."

Now, some thirty years later, I can attest to the prevalence of the theological notions Moyers explains. It seems the 'fundamentalist' perspective is very much alive, though I would not consider it being "well!") I hear and see it on patients' TVs, the deep yearning to interpret daily bad news as somehow fulfilling prophecy. I see the novels and books laying around, especially that "Left Behind" series many patients love to read while here at the hospital. It's truly pervasive in our local culture.

While I can acknowledge these persons' ideology and try to engage them within their theological world view, I try to absorb probing questions about my own opposing views with a creative, disarming response. I have learned from experience that it will do no good in the hospital to inflame emotions that could escalate into argumentation -- so I seek to get down to what I think really matters to the patient in the here and now. In other words, I just love the people anyway, right where they are, something I think Jesus would do -- i.e. earn the right to be heard. (It's not a very appropriate goal in hospital ministry to argue with people -- that is, to seek to challenge a patient's whole world view in such a short space of time, unless I have a solid ongoing relationship and know that battle is worth fighting within a counseling relationship.)

I am mostly focused in this domain on spiritual care -- helping to effect healing within their body, mind, and spirit -- and sometimes, in this process, it does dawn on people that there are, indeed, implications for how they relate and interact with their environment. Sometimes it is possible to make observations about lifestyle consequences, to help people "connect the dots" between physical and spiritual wellness and how their illness may very well be related to how people are mistreating Mother Earth. I've noticed that when it gets personal, transformation is possible.

There have been times when an aggressive person may be seeking to turn the tables and to press on ideological issues (most often a pastor I might be eating lunch with, or sometimes a zealous visitor of a patient) so much that I will share that I'm a "panmillenialist." (I truly am, because I'm optimistic enough to believe it will "all pan out in the end!") But then I'll also try to share I feel responsible to respond to the call of the Lord to "make a difference" in our world now and for the future, and to help fulfill the God-given mandate to care for creation. I tell them I don't want my own grandchildren asking me someday why I didn't do anything to help ensure their future, when we could see these problems coming, could see what was being created by ill-wrought policies -- and could have helped join my voice with others, and done something about it.

In the final analysis, people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care -- about them. And sometimes that makes all the difference. Earning the right to be heard.

The issues disturbing Bill Moyers are precisely why I sent an opinion piece earlier last week to the editors of the Elkhart Truth and Goshen News. (I posted and original article to some friends last week, but got no response whatsoever. Maybe it was too long.) Then this week I was heartened by a reply from the editor of the "The Truth" telling me she would print it if I condensed it and wrote everything in my own words -- since they don't print any quotes from "third party organizations." So I went to work on it some more, then sent the following back -- since I believe we need to be proactive and do something positive to be able to justify and perpetuate our "optimism", as our brother Bill says...

I'd be very interested in learning from other readers here on styles and methods of engaging with others who are the type Moyers describes, where ideology trumps everything, including theology sometimes...and creates its own perverse reality.


"Letter to the Editor" for the Elkhart Truth and Goshen News
Sent 2/22/05
Focus: "Join a People's Campaign to Ratify the Kyoto Protocol"

I want to highlight some compelling words shared by Rev. Jim Ball, the executive director of the Evangelical Environmental Network. He posted them recently on a section of National Public Radio's website, "Online Commentary" (not heard on the radio), entitled "A Christian Perspective on the Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming."

I encourage you to read it in full at: but toward the middle of the article he basically states that climate change is not creation-care, nor some abstract theory. It is now a reality that brings death in its wake, since the World Health Organization estimates that up to 160,000 people die each year due to the direct and indirect impacts of global warming -- equivalent to the number of those who have died in the recent tsunami. He also mentions a report in Nature magazine estimating that "up to 37 percent of God’s creatures will be on the road to extinction because of climate change by 2050, their songs of praise to their creator snuffed out forever."

A month ago a commission of eminent scientists from our country, Great Britain, and Australia declared the world is only 10 years -- or 2 degrees Fahrenheit -- away from irreversible climate change. They agree the "point of no return" will arrive when concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide reach 400 parts per million (ppm). Since we are now at 379 ppm, and increasing at about 2 ppm per year, one can do the math - it’s obvious that we don’t have long! These scientists estimate our planet has not experienced this level of atmospheric carbon for about 420,000 years.

Likewise in January, Rajendra Pachauri (a politically astute scientist and someone the Bush administration looked favorably upon for the post of) chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, delivered a startling message to the world. It should bring a strong dose of reality, for he declared that Earth has already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and called for immediate and "very deep cuts" in emissions if humanity is to survive.

Conclusion? Major climactic troubles will not just aggravate our children’s generation - they are descending upon us now! Only one example among many -- the massive West Antarctic ice sheet is showing signs of having begun to collapse, according to the British Antarctic Society. As the ice melts, water levels around the world are certainly going to rise. They have already begun drawing maps illustrating where and when certain cities are going under if we can't get our act together as a global community.

But here is the stunner: On Feb. 16 the Kyoto Protocol went into effect - being a very important step to address global warming and secure nations' commitments to reduce carbon emissions. This international climate treaty was ratified by 141 nations - including Russia, and most other countries of the developed world. Appallingly, the United States is not participating -- its priorities are not reflected in President Bush’s climate policy. It’s just not in our economic interest, we are told, to submit to such reductions. Our government's focus is on developing more technologies. That is why we see various European leaders giving President Bush some heat on the issue in his current talks with them.

The facts are the USA is the world’s #1 source of green house gases heating up the earth. Our country generates 25 percent of the world's polluting carbon emissions with only 5 percent of the Earth’s population. Yet our government refuses to join in this worldwide effort to keep this planet hospitable to our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come. Scientists and economists working together around various parts of the globe are coming up with models of how a global transition to clean energy could address nature's demand for a stable climate even as it generates millions of clean-energy jobs.

You may by now be asking yourself, "What on Earth is one ordinary person like me supposed to do about it?" As a first step, I urge you to go to the website (mentioned at the end) outlining the "People's Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty." Read about it and enjoy the satisfaction of "ratifying" it yourself!

A rapidly-growing sector of the populace in this country are finally waking up to recognize that the Constitution of the United States grants "we the people" the ultimate authority in our system of government. People are joining together to take this issue into their own hands and, as citizens of the United States, are personally ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, as a good first step. We have a rational and moral obligation to do such, and we can and will join together to demand that our elected representatives follow suit.

Through this act of "People’s Ratification" you, too, can declare your allegiance to the democratic process, our fundamental relationship with our Mother Earth, and our hope for a sustainable future for every other member of the human family. So copy the following and stick it into your internet browser:

And please, pass this information along. This is important work. It's also God's work, for we have been called to take care of God's creation.

Rev. Clair Hochstetler,
(included phone and address)

Friday 11 February 2005

Daily Inspiration

I've often found excellent inspiration for my day and free resources for "the long haul", as well, here:

Inspirational Quotes by e-mail from the Bruderhof

Check it out and see if you agree.


Friday 28 January 2005

"The Phantom Weapons" @ BAGHDAD BURNING

One Iraqi woman's views on the WMD that the Bush administration finally admitted never existed -- an excerpt from her Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005 entry titled "The Phantom Weapons" posted on her blog, BAGHDAD BURNING, at:

"...Terror isn't just worrying about a plane hitting a skyscraper…terrorism is being caught in traffic and hearing the crack of an AK-47 a few meters away because the National Guard wants to let an American humvee or Iraqi official through. Terror is watching your house being raided and knowing that the silliest thing might get you dragged away to Abu Ghraib where soldiers can torture, beat and kill. Terror is that first moment after a series of machine-gun shots, when you lift your head frantically to make sure your loved ones are still in one piece. Terror is trying to pick the shards of glassout of the living-room couch resulting from a nearby explosion and trying not to imagine what would have happened if a person had been sitting there."

"The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit - having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America..."


Her post today (Jan. 27) entitled "Water Anxiety..." gives the reader a graphic sense of how the general population there cope with daily survival, and the intense fear and anxiety connected to the upcoming sham "election." Very poignant and heartreading stuff. I applaud her courage to post her own free thoughts to the world in this manner - but one must wonder how long she'll have access to the internet under such conditions. Long live the bloggers!


Thursday 27 January 2005

How can this possibly be called "an election" in Iraq -- are we insane?

Here are a couple of up-to-the minute "man on the street" interviews of typical residents of Iraq. They portray rather bluntly how this election is being jammed down their throats by the Americans with no good results likely to come from it this Sunday. Insecurity and fear have actually been heightened to unfathomable levels. There are indications from some sectors of the populace who fear if they don't vote they will have their food rations cut off. and

Its all being corroborated by another article posted yesterday (Jan. 26, 2005) by Linda S. Heard, staff writer for Gulf News:

"Iraqi Election 'A Done Deal'; Villagers Forced To Vote For Allawi To Keep Food Rations "

Forgive me if I cannot whip up too much excitement over the coming Iraqi elections. Apart from my innate scepticism as to US intentions after its pretexts for going to war were blown apart, the words of an Iraqi diplomat who insisted he was a close friend of Eyad Allawi add fuel to the embers.

"The outcome of the elections is more or less a done deal," he told me. "Allawi is set to continue."

I took this statement with a fistful of salt until I read this in last Sunday's Times: "fears of a takeover by Shiite clerics have prompted speculation that Washington might have been trying to strike a deal with Al Sistani to keep Allawi as prime minister after the election".

Tipped to oust Allawi is head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq Abdul-Aziz Al Hakim and he is clamoring for American troops to go home pronto.

Since Bush has promised the occupying forces will abide by the wishes of a sovereign Iraqi government, his call could prove embarrassing.

Let's face it, US troops aren't about to go anywhere especially since neighbouring Iran features large on the 2005 pre-emption menu.

We would have to be either naive or on Prozac to believe the Bush administration is poised to walk off into the sunset sans oil and sans face, leaving an Iraqi government representing the Shiite majority free to cosy up to the Iranian ayatollahs.

Even if the United States isn't engaged in manipulative hanky panky, the election is defective from the start.

UN monitors are understandably scarce on the ground and three or four Sunni provinces (containing almost half the country's entire population) will be virtually excluded due to rising levels of violence.

Allawi's attempt

Indeed, heralding the new Iraqi democracy are closed borders and airport, travel restrictions and curfews, while candidates and the location of polling stations will remain secret until the last minute.

Allawi's bid already looks suspect after he doled out $100 bills to reporters hoping for favorable coverage.

The Riverbend girl blogger refuses to be seduced. She says she found an "Elect Allawi" pamphlet promising "security and prosperity for occupied Iraq", which fitted nicely at the bottom of a parakeet's cage.

She complains: "People in many areas are being told that if they don't vote * the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off," and asks, "what sort of democracy is it when you force people to go vote for someone or another they don't want?"

The idea that Allawi has a mega following is frankly laughable. This is a former Baathist who fell out with Saddam Hussain and forged links with the CIA.

Few had even heard of him before he replaced Ahmad Chalabi in the Pentagon's affections. So low has Chalabi sunk that the interim Iraqi Defence Minister is threatening to hand him over to Jordan where he was convicted in absentia for embezzlement.

Allawi cheered on the flattening of Fallujah and supports the American military presence, so it is hardly likely he would attract a significant popular vote.

Iraqis know that Allawi perpetuates the lie their country is now a sovereign state.

Clearly aware who his masters are, Allawi's speech before the US Congress was ridiculed as being designed to aid Bush's re-election and probably dreamt up by Bush's own speechwriters.

"We are succeeding in Iraq," he said, before thanking his audience for "your brave vote in 2002 to authorize American men and women to go to war to liberate my country * ".

No condemnation concerning the use of cluster bombs, which are regularly responsible for small children losing their limbs. No condemnation of the use of depleted uranium tank shells responsible for a prevalence in birth defects and cancers.

No condemnation of the deaths of up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians and not a word about the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Allawi is no patriot and if he remains prime minister after the vote, then, as far as I am concerned it was a sham, a pre-arranged set-up just as the Iraqi diplomat confided it would be.

The release of an audio tape by the elusive Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, which announces: "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology" just days before the election, is strangely reminiscent of that released by the even more elusive Osama Bin Laden days before the US vote, said to have swayed voters in Bush's direction.

Fit the profile

"Evil principle of democracy?" Bush always said that they, the terrorists, hate democracy. It looks like Zarqawi is only too happy to fit the profile.

If you believe that anyone believes democracy is evil, I've got a nice Egyptian pyramid I'd like to sell you with a free camel if you purchase two.

Donald Rumsfeld was quick to acknowledge that this election will be far from perfect but believes a flawed election is better than no election.

The trouble is democracy isn't a loaf of bread. There is no such thing as half democracy. Elections are either comprehensive, inclusive, free and fair or they are not.

Iraqis deserve a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Iraq but I doubt this is possible as long as the occupation forces stay. They have their agenda; the Iraqi people have theirs and both are mutually exclusive.

A paper entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses" drawn up by the Project for a New American Century in 2000 and signed up to by several top members of the Bush administration suggests US troops need to establish a permanent foothold in the Gulf, while keeping a low profile.

Once Iraq is officially stamped a democracy and American soldiers withdraw to a series of permanent bases or behind the walls of the largest and most fortified US embassy in the world, the Strauss-cons will have achieved their objective occupation in democracy's clothing.

Although whether they will be allowed to get away with this giant con is an entirely different matter.

Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at


It seems apparent to me this effort is likely to turn out to be one of the largest farces our government has ever "sponsored." The rest of the members of the world community are shaking their heads at us.

Tell me again, just what kind of freedom is it we are trying to export to the rest of the world? Smells exactly like tyranny to me, the very thing we supposedly are fighting against!


Ironic -- are we descending into "dispensable" nation status?

Here's a powerful analysis and provocative indictment -- all evidence-based. It was printed yesterday in the prestigious Financial Times (printed in both England and the US) regarding the rapidly deteriorating standing the US has now with the rest of the world, due to current Bush administration policies.

Written by no less than former neo-con and current writer/thinker at the New America Foundation, Michael Lind, it is entitled "How America Became the World's Dispensable Nation."

Definitely worth your taking the time to read:

It all raises important issues in my mind: If Lind is right, it's going to be a very challenging ride as we go downhill and deal with all the implications as a society... so how does one best prepare for such a journey? Furthermore, what will it take to repair the damage in our relationships within the international community?

So, what do YOU think?


Wednesday 26 January 2005

Jim Wallis and Jon Stewart - "behind the scenes" at the Daily Show

I have been filled with hope (and laughter) while enjoying all the recent interest and positive response generated by Jim Wallis' tour promoting his book "God's Politics."


And I'm especially grateful to read these notes this evening from Wallis himself --a link to which was included in the most recent email from -- proving once again that good humor really does get you a long way down the road!


"Notes from the Road" - A book tour blog by Jim Wallis

1/24/2005 - Thoughts on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

I really enjoyed meeting Jon Stewart last week. Before the show, Jon came back to the "green room" to say hello. I soon realized he had read God's Politics from cover to cover (as his producer told me he had) which, I can tell you, is not always the case with show hosts. Stewart asked some very smart questions about the global poverty issues, the up-coming G8 Summit in the UK, the roles of British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair (both of whom are discussed in the book). I felt Jon's warmth and receptiveness right away to both the issues of justice and the spiritual/faith dimension to it all. We had a good time on the show together, and the audience was very responsive. (It was great to see a youthful audience whooping and hollering for progressive religion!). Jon seemed touched when I shared with him the inscription I wrote in the book to him, "The biblical prophets used humor and truth-telling to help make their point - often satirizing the political leaders of the day. You do both very well and may be in the tradition of those Hebrew prophets!" Sitting there after the segment, we talked a little more and again I felt his keen interest in this connection between spirituality and social change. While Stewart described himself as "secular," I told him there was a moral edge to what he does and encouraged him to keep on. We both expressed a desire
to stay in contact. - Jim Wallis

To watch this "classic" 7+ minute interview go here:


In light of the name of my blog, I just couldn't resist re-posting this -- from today's "Borowitz Report" !




Revised Inaugural Address Offers Clarification, President Hopes Concerned that some in the global community may have been confused by his inaugural address last week, President George W. Bush delivered a simplified version of the speech today, asking the world, "Who's your daddy?"

Advance copies of the revised speech, totaling three words in length, were distributed to the press an hour before Mr. Bush delivered it.

The new speech, which surprised many observers with both its bluntness and its brevity, was "what the president wanted his inaugural address to be in the first place," said a White House aide.

"The president was very concerned that the way the original speech was written, his message about spreading freedom around the world might be misconstrued," the aide said. "For one thing, he was worried that countries might think they had a choice."

For additional clarification, the White House issued the following addendum to Mr. Bush's pledge to spread freedom: "Offer not available in Saudi Arabia, Egypt or China; see repressive regime for details."

Mr. Bush had argued last week for discarding the text of his twenty-minute inaugural address in favor of the simpler, more streamlined "Who's your daddy?", but was overruled because "you can't spend $40 million on an inauguration and just say three words," the aide said.

Response to the president's revised speech was muted in world capitals today, with only British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirming that Mr. Bush was, in fact, their daddy....

Will we only pretend to protect "the sanctity of human life" ??

The following paragraphs are excerpts from an article researched and written by Sharon Lerner, a senior fellow at the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano Graduate School, New School University. It was posted on the internet (at AlterNet) Jan. 22, 2005.

These harsh realities must be acknowledged and grappled with by those of us opposed to abortion (myself included.) It is a severe injustice to merely stand idly by, or to try to avoid these dramatic effects of misguided policies, especially when we enter into discussions (whether it be at the national, state-by-state, or local efforts) regarding overturning Roe vs. Wade. Otherwise, I fear the current Mississippi experience will get repeated all over the country -- and how can we possibly claim that such a reality represents moral or spiritual progress? -Clair


Thirty-two years ago the right to have an abortion was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi is marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with an official proclamation declaring the seven days leading up to the anniversary "a week of prayer regarding the sanctity of human life." Barbour also authorized the placement of tiny white crosses on the lawn of the state Capitol "in memory of the unborn children who die each day in America," according to the decree. The crosses have been planted for the past three years... Barbour is a Republican, but it should be noted that the tradition of transforming the Capitol lawn into a symbolic mini-graveyard was begun by the previous governor of Mississippi, who was a Democrat.


With the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, Mississippi's low number of abortions is not an illustration of the "safe, legal and rare" ideal that many talk about, in which a decline in unwanted pregnancies creates a corresponding drop in abortions. Rather, it is the direct consequence of concerted opposition to abortion from the grassroots to all levels of government. Such concern for the rights of fetuses does not appear to translate into a commitment to promoting the well-being of the children they may become. The uncomfortable irony for an opposition movement purportedly concerned with saving "innocent babies" is that restrictions on abortion are associated with worse outcomes for actual babies. Indeed, children fare terribly in Mississippi.

The state with arguably the least access to abortion also has the second-highest rate of child poverty in the country, according to the Children's Defense Fund. Mississippi's infant mortality rate - a good indication of the health of both women and children - is the highest in the country. For every 1,000 live births, 10.5 infants under age 1 die in Mississippi. In parts of the impoverished Delta region, that number ranges up to 18. (The national infant mortality rate, by comparison, is 6.8.) Interestingly, a post-election comparison found that "red" states had higher infant mortality rates than "blue" ones. In general, states that restrict abortion spend far less money per child than pro-choice states on services such as foster care, education, welfare and the adoption of children who have physical and mental disabilities, according to a 2000 book by political scientist Jean Reith Schroedel.

Schroedel also found that women in anti-abortion states are worse off than their counterparts in pro-choice states. They suffer from lower levels of education, higher levels of poverty and a larger gender gap in earnings. They are also less likely to enjoy mandated insurance coverage for minimum hospital stays after childbirth. Together, the conditions make for an abysmal reality for women in Mississippi, which came in 51st in a 2004 ranking of the status of women in the 50 states and Washington, DC, published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

The poverty of women in Mississippi both increases their need for abortions and their difficulty in obtaining them. In the poorest state in the country, where more than one in five women lack health insurance and live below the poverty line, girls and women are often unable to get birth control. Only about two in five women and teens in Mississippi who need publicly financed contraception receive it, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which does research on reproductive issues. Though the inability to prevent unwanted pregnancies makes women only more likely to want abortions, many of the forces behind the anti-abortion movement here also oppose contraception. Pro-Life Mississippi, for instance, regularly protests the only Planned Parenthood office in Mississippi, which is in Hattiesburg, even though it provides only birth control, not abortion.


Mississippi forbids facilities that receive public money from performing abortions and bans Medicaid funding for them. Though the law officially makes exceptions for cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly and danger to the woman's life, clinic staff say they have not once succeeded in collecting Medicaid reimbursement in these cases. "We've filed for it and we've never been paid for them, and so we don't even file anymore," says Susan Hill, the Jackson Women's Health Organization's president. Hill, who was a social worker before Roe, says, "Mississippi is like the rest of the country was before 1973." Women who arrive at her clinic "have that same look in the eye now," she explains. "They have to go through the same kind of struggles."


Virtually every possible restriction on the procedure exists here, from a mandatory 24-hour waiting period after counseling, to a requirement that minors obtain the consent of both parents to have an abortion, to 35 pages of regulations dealing with such physical characteristics as the width of a clinic's hallways and the size of its parking lot. The mounting restrictions (Mississippi passed six anti-abortion laws last year alone) have delighted anti-abortion activists all over the country, who have hailed - and copied - the state's innovations.

Meanwhile, pro-choice activists see Mississippi as a glimpse of what might become the norm in a possible post-Roe future. "It's the canary dying in the mine," says Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. If the Supreme Court were to reverse the decision, abortion would likely become illegal in 30 states, including Mississippi, according to a 2004 report by the center. Across what can seem like a great divide, the 20 other states have laws, constitutions or court decisions that would protect the basic right to abortion even if Roe falls. While some of these, including New York and Washington State, which both decriminalized abortion before 1973, will likely remain strongly pro-choice, others may pass restrictive laws like Mississippi's.

(end of excerpts)

We too easily write people off who don't agree with our personal position on this divisive subject of abortion. In my own experience, ameliorated over the years by direct, mutually-respectful discussions with a number of pro-choice friends and acquaintances, I have found most of them to be very thoughtful people exercising great conscience. (All will say they are pro-choice and NOT pro-abortion.) And to my recollection they all -- virtually without exception -- have been concerned precisely about the important moral and spiritual issues I've highlighted above.

The challenge is before us -- we have got to work together to find a better way...

Are there any readers here from Mississippi who might care to comment? Or who could verify the realities depicted above?

Chaplain Clair Hochstetler, Goshen, IN

Wednesday 19 January 2005

The Transformation Of The American Republic Into The American Empire

I came across a powerful essay yesterday, written just a couple of days earlier by Sean Mayfield. Brace yourself before you read this; some of these concepts are likely to have a jarring effect. While it's certainly provocative writing (and one could argue that perhaps Mayfield is a bit too hard on Dobson near the end--or maybe not, if you read what's behind the link he provides...) this caused me to mull over what Jesus himself would feel compelled to say if he were here in our country during the inauguration this week -- when his name will likely get invoked to bless it all -- or at least his Father's name!

Actually, he is here -- and, true to character, challenges those aware of his presence to engage in a very important dialogue involving truth -- truth laced with love and respect, and rooted in faith. Think about it. Didn't he once say he will depend on his followers to speak the truth -- to power -- just as he himself did? And that we shouldn't worry...that the right words will be given to us at just the right time...

Anyway, after I read the following, and had spent some time, first trying to deal with feelings of "righteous indignation", then in reflection, then in more research -- I realized this missive shoots pretty straight about some of the very, very provocative stuff that really is going on at very high levels of power in our country, if we would simply OPEN our eyes! Unfortunately, many of us are either not yet aware of these sources of information, or are unwilling to allow them any credibility because it doesn't jive with our own perceptions of reality.

But I think that was precisely the nature of the work Jesus did -- and most other memorable prophetic followers of his down through history like Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose birthday we just celebrated again on Monday) -- to comfort the afflicted and to afflict "the comfortable."

My hope is this essay, and my "blog", will open some doors to much wider and fruitful discussion. I am very interested in readers' perceptions and comments regarding this revved up transformation of the American Republic into the American Empire. Differing opinions are also always welcome, and encouraged, but only IF one is willing to engage in a true, mutual conversation!


(Note: Highlighted phrases below are links to supporting documentation.)


January 15, 2005
Sean Mayfield, Antipas Ministries

Though struggling in Iraq, the transformation of the American Republic in to the American Empire is rapidly under way. In spite of current setbacks the Pentagon is charging full speed ahead with plans to revamp the military into a force more appropriate for conquest and control of multiple nations. These plans are in line with their agenda to extend US imperial control beyond their already expansive state and to clamp down on dissent and unrest in many "colonial" outposts.

One facet of that plan, not truly remarked upon in the link above is the effort to bring back the death squads, as used by the US in Central America during the 1970's and 80's. What one would think to be a clandestine affair is being reported upon right out there in the open... as recent reports confirm analysis made earlier by many that the US would soon resort to running Central American-style death squads in an effort to crush the insurgency. Sure enough, less than a year after John Negroponte becomes ambassador, news comes out of concrete evidence showing the US plans to subject the Iraqi people to the same terror, torture, and murder as Salvadorans were put through during their own "Negroponte Era."

What is really shameful is that Christians in the US do not really care about such things. There has been no real outrage at what happened at Abu Ghraib... much less Fallujah... and now there is nary a peep about what business Christianity has linking itself up to the running of death squads in conquered Iraq.

Fritz Stern would say this is because American Christianity is more fascist than anything else... and I would be hard pressed to disagree with him. Stern lived through the holocaust and has seen firsthand the transformation from "Christian nation" to fascist empire. The evidence of a transformation to fascism is evident to all who truly desire to see it. Take a look at this quote – which was provided courtesy of the blog, Reality Based Nation:

"These so-called ill-treatments and this torturing... were not, as assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual leaders, subleaders, and men who laid violent hands on internees... It is obvious that there were elements among them who would ill-treat internees, but this ill-treatment was never tolerated."

The blog's purpose for offering the quote was so that people could choose whether it was a statement from Alberto Gonzales or Rudolf Hoess. Can you guess who actually said it? Though it sounds as if something offered up at a US press conference it was in fact a quote from Hoess made during his trial at Nuremberg... for his part in the holocaust of the Jews. How long before America's holocaust begins in full force?

As a side note... I find it interesting that Monsanto is suing farmers over supposed acts of "seed piracy." It seems that when one enters into an agreement with Monsanto to use their seeds... one is not allowed to use new seed produced in crop growth for replanting the following year. This cuts into their profits, since their standing agreement requires farmers to purchase new seeds every year. Without going into too much detail... let me just say that situations such as this, where agribusiness bottom line interests supercede the rights of people to grow crops, are tailor made for having a part in bringing about the famines and pestilences described in the Bible as happening during the end of days.

Another side note is the fact that stories about a pending draft just won't seem to go away. Among recent news items is the following gem from a local paper, which puts out the call for potential draft board members. Things like this just don't happen in a vacuum. Papers, even small-time "hick" papers don't publish stories like this without something being there to make them relevant.

Not too much fanfare was given to the news of the end of the hunt for WMD's in Iraq. This is just another point in the tin wheel of lies that have been offered unchallenged by the resident Christians running the US. The news itself made me feel like when I heard that OJ wasn't going to look for Nicole's killers any longer... I guess I shouldn't be surprised; and really I'm not. There is so much subterfuge being perpetrated by those in power that it can make one a little numb to it at times. Take the news about conservative pundit Armstrong Williams receiving essentially a quarter million dollars worth of payola to stump for Bush legislation on his radio show and other venues. This type of thing ought to engender at least a little surprise from me... but it really doesn't. I find it quite easy to believe that Williams, Leeden, Limbaugh, Liddy, Hannity, O'Reilly, and all the other right-wing media warriors are very much pushing an orchestrated message.

This isn't so much sad as is the fact that American Christians have lapped up their regurgitated utterances when in most cases they are in direct opposition to the clear words of the Bible.
Is all of it a part of some kind of grand plan? Is everything going on in Iraq part of some kind of larger strategy or are we just witnessing the muckity muck of war? Some folks are saying Iraq's further unraveling is part of a strategy to bring about a civil war... which would take the crosshairs off of American troops and make Iraqis place them on each other. Aside from being murderous and cynical if true, it also seems to be a bit of a stretch to think that at this point the US can do anything to turn the hatred earned from what has transpired onto other parties. I am more inclined to think that at best the US is looking for an excuse or avenue to replicate what was done in Fallujah on a larger scale. When measured efforts are not successful the most common option of conquerors is to up the ante.

Upping the ante is exactly what the US is in the process of doing. If they were really interested winning hearts and minds they wouldn't be replicating the nightmare of El Salvador in Iraq. The death squads (which were by the way, supported by US evangelicals) the US used in that nation during the 80's left a hatred and resentment of the US among the populace that still exists in large measure today. As stated by Robert Parry, "By employing the 'Salvador option' in Iraq, the U.S. military would crank up the pain, especially in Sunni Muslim areas where resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq has been strongest." Cranking up the pain is not something one would normally associate with a "Christian nation"... but then again, the US is no ordinary Christian nation.

The US is instead a nation that merely uses the name of Christ as a bludgeon to beat back those who oppose it... both within and without. This may seem a harsh statement... but what else can one say when such "luminary men of God" as James Dobson give themselves over to winning the battles of this world at all costs? Dobson, who obviously wasn't satisfied with merely mixing psychology and Christianity has now jumped into the ring as one of the Church's most powerful politicos... and in doing so has brought the name of Christ along with him. To men like Dobson morality and ethics are malleable subjects that apply in some cases but don't apply in others. His foray into the world of politics will not sully him, since he long ago passed into the realm of Nicolatia, but will instead further degrade the direction of the marriage between the US and its Christian Church.

What Dobson and his ilk are doing is transforming America into a nation of mindless fascism (there's that word again) who have adulterated the scriptures beyond recognition in an effort to justify their actions. The Bible characterizes this "adulteration" as the sending of "strong delusion."

"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
(2 Thessalonians 2:11)

The delusion is here my friends. One can see it everyday within America and its Church. No doubt the world too has been infected by this virulent force... but its roots are firmly entrenched in the "destroying mountain" spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah.