Homeland Militarization can’t be our future

What is happening in Portland and American cities where Black Lives Matter continues to oppose the violence and lawlessness of those sworn to protect and serve. A search through previous Views from the Edge posts led back to August 22, 2014.

Click THIS LINK to read “Homeland Militarization — tanks in Ferguson, Blackhawks in Minneapolis — must be stopped” published by MinnPost.com. The conversation — 38 comments — was more telling than the piece. In 2017 the MinnPost commentary became the 30th of the 48 brief social commentaries of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (2017, Wipf and Stock).

Today’s NYT sounds an alarm with a picture from the June 6, 2020 cover of Der Spiegel (6.6.20) depicting Donald Trump with a match. What German readers see feels chillingly familiar. They still smell the smoke from 1933.

Thanks for coming by. Be careful out there. Wear a mask to stay safe, and tonight –while mourners pay their respects to John Lewis in sanctuary of the African-American Episcopal Church of Selma and prepare for his last trip across the Edmund Pettus Bridge — make some good trouble, the only kind that heals a broken world.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN July 25, 2020.

Pepé Le Pew and the Big Parade

Pepé Le Pew in our back yard

A strange thing happened this morning, July 4. I kid you not. True story. We had a visitor in our yard for the very first time in the two years we’ve been coming to the cabin by the wetland. Pepé Le Pew chose July 4 to say hello — a skunk just beyond the deck in broad daylight, strolling toward the woods.

American Civics 101

We’re nowhere near a television this Fourth of July, and that’s a good thing. It allows for memory and imagination. I remember all those years when we prided ourselves in not doing what they were doing in Red Square during the Cold War. Tanks and missile rolled through Red Square, a demonstration of military might in a world of nuclear threats. The generals sat and stood in the places of honor.  In Washington, D.C. there was no show of military power on the Fourth of July. We didn’t do that in a democracy. I “knew” that because my teachers, parents, and church all told me so. We prided ourselves that in America the military was under civilian rule; the Secretary of Defense was a civilian, not a general. That was just who we were, and who we were not, said our teachers, parents, faith communities, and those we elected to represent us in Congress or the White House. They’re all dead now.

The Big Parade years later

The Fourth of July parades in our nation’s capitol, like the thousands of smaller parades in American cities and towns, had no special VIP section for the wealthier folks who could afford the price of sittting there. The thought never crossed our minds. We were one nation that declared E pluribus unum. The rest of the year we were poor, middle class, or rich, eating in soup kitchens, Big Boy’s, or country clubs, but on this day we were the same. We were just Americans. We had no caste system like India. And we were all the same, irrespective of political affiliations, at the ballot box. No one’s vote was greater or smaller than another’s.

The only people who made money at Fourth of July parades stood behind the hot dog stands and the popcorn stands, but even then, most of the profits went to charity. No one made money on the Fourth of July. I knew this because our teachers, parents, faith communities, and elected officials told us so. 

How soon we forget

President Dwight David Eisenhower’s last speech to the nation warned us. The retired General who had commanded the largest military force in history during Word War II was a military hero who hated war. The greatest threat to democracy, he said was not communism or any other threat from beyond our borders. The great threat to democracy itself was the “the military-industrial complex.” 

Yesterday Eisenhower’s latest successor communicated with the nation in a tweet:

Big 4th of July in D.C. ‘Salute to America.’ The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!

Donald J. Trump, July 3, 2019
  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN July 4, 2019.

Operation Popeye and Leonardo da Vinci

Scientist and artist John Lince-Hopkins responded to Geoengineering and Nature Itself:

“Don’t forget that the U.S. was the first (and so far, only) world power to weaponize climate during the Viet Nam War (Operation Popeye).

“Whither now?”

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia’s article on Operation Popeye:

The cloud seeding operation during the Vietnam War ran from March 20, 1967 until July 5, 1972 in an attempt to extend the monsoon season, specifically over areas of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The operation was used to induce rain and extend the East Asian Monsoonseason in support of U.S. government efforts related to the War in Southeast Asia.

The former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, was aware that there might be objections raised by the international scientific community but said in a memo to the president that such objections had not in the past been a basis for prevention of military activities considered to be in the interests of U.S. national security.

The chemical weather modification program was conducted from Thailand over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and allegedly sponsored by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CIA without the authorization of then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird who had categorically denied to Congress that a program for modification of the weather for use as a tactical weapon even existed.[1]

Click Operation Popeye for a history of Operation Popeye’s attempt at weaponizing the climate.

Then join John in asking “Whither now?” John’s no Leonardo da Vinci, but he represents the wisdom of the master artist from an earlier era:

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” – Leonardo da Vinci. 

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 29, 2017.

Last TGIF of April – Day One

day1 logo

Day1.org logo

The best advertisements are the ones that aren’t paid for. Thanks to Day1 for featuring a chapter from “Be Still!” Departure from Collective Madness” today. Click THIS LINK to read “Homeland Militarization” on Day1.

spare-change-lg-300x199Then, If you like it . . . . buy it and let me know. I’ll gladly send a rebate of 99 cents to complete the purchase of the kindle edition, or 98 for the paperback.

coffeeBetter yet, next time we see each other, I’ll spring for a cheap cup of coffee and a rich conversation.

Wishing you a happy Day1 this last Friday of April!

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 28, 2017.



Artists often say it best. Jacopo da Pontormo‘s painting of the peaceful Christ rising above “the guards who shook and became like dead men” (see text below) invites us this Easter to ponder afresh Christ’s hidden reign in the world in which violence, militarism, and imperial ambitions still feign to rule.


Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1556)

For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”  [Gospel according to Matthew 28:4-10]

Jacopo da Pontormo helps me see what the mind cannot fathom. Christ is Risen! In spite of all appearances to the contary, Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!

Gordon C. Stewart, in Galilee of Chaska, MN, Easter, April 16, 2017.

Verse — If she died first

If she died first
I’d die soon
trying to find
all I need
to live.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, July 13, 2016

Note from Gordon: Steve may be sick, but his humor’s in tact! Every day’s a new day for Steve in no small part because of his beloved Nadja. They celebrated 50 years of marriage this year.

The Baseball Cap on Memorial Day

I’m a baseball fan. I love baseball. I  turn on the TV.

It’s Memorial Day. My team, the Minnesota Twins, is wearing visitor’s gray. The Oakland As are wearing white. That’s tradition.

But today something’s different. Both teams are wearing the same baseball cap: military camouflage.


Memorial Day is not a salute to the military. It’s a day to remember the dead who have fallen in the service to their country. The Twins and the As are not soldiers, sailors, Marines, or special forces. They’re baseball players in different uniforms and different caps with different logos. They throw. They catch. They swing. They hit. They walk. They strike out. Nobody kills. Nobody dies. But Major League Baseball is big business that knows how to strike up the band and confuse civilian and military life. Not good. But it’s become the new normal.

A moment of silence followed by Taps would better fit the occasion – and the removal of all caps.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 30, 2016.




A Reflection on Terrorism


Copyright 1996 The Cincinnati Enquirer

A sermonic reflection on Luke 13:1-9

Ordinary citizens are not terrorists, are we?  We didn’t bring down the World Trade Center, kill and maim marathon runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon, or kill innocent co-workers in San Bernadino. The Rev. Maurice McCrackin answered that we are and we have, for reasons we’ll explain later.

Mac was informed by today’s Gospel reading (Luke 13:1-9) where Jesus addresses terrorism and urges his hearers to turn. “Unless you all repent, you will all … perish.”

It happens when some people inform Jesus “about the Galileans whose blood Pilate has mingled with their sacrifices.” The speakers seem to be contrasting the Galileans – known for their armed resistance to Roman rule, i.e. guerilla warfare – and the Jerusalemites.
Remember, Jesus himself is a Galilean!

The non-Galileans are putting him to the test. As he so often does so ably, Jesus, the Galilean Jewish rabbi, begins strangely by appearing to agree with their anti-Galilean prejudice. He asks whether these violent Galileans were any different from the rest of the Galileans. One can almost hear the applause from the more sophisticated, non-terroristic Jerusalemites.

Then he quickly shifts their attention to a scene in Jerusalem. He asks them if the eighteen saboteurs “upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, do you think they were worse sinners than all others in Jerusalem?”

“No,” he says, “but unless you (plural) repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Sometimes reading a familiar text in a form much closer to the original context of Jesus’ linguistic-religious-cultural-political-economic context serves to awaken us to hear it differently.

Now … there were some present reporting to Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach about the men of the Galil whose blood Pilate mixed with their zevakhim (sacrifices).

And, in reply, Moshiach said, Do you think that these men of the Galil were greater chote’im (sinners) than all others of the Galil, because they suffered this shud (misfortune)?

Lo (no), I say, but unless you make teshuva, you will all likewise perish.
Or do you think that those shmonah asar (eighteen) upon whom the migdal (tower) in Shiloach fell and killed them, do you think that they were greater chote’im (sinners) than all the Bnei Adam living in Yerushalayim?

Lo (no), I tell you, but unless you make teshuva, you will all likewise perish.
And Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach was speaking this mashal. A certain man had an etz te’enah (fig tree) which had been planted in his kerem, and he came seeking pri (fruit) on it, and he did not find any. [YESHAYAH 5:2; YIRMEYAH 8:13]

So he said to the keeper of the kerem, Hinei shalosh shanim (three years) I come seeking pri on this etz te’enah (fig tree) and I do not find any. Therefore, cut it down! Why is it even using up the adamah (ground)?

But in reply he says to him, Adoni, leave it also this year, until I may dig around it and may throw fertilizer [dung] on it,

And if indeed it produces pri in the future, tov me’od (very well); otherwise, you will cut down it [Ro 11:23].

The Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International.

The ‘mashal’ (a familiar proverb or parable) he re-interprets is already part of his and his hearers’ self-understanding from Isaiah 5:2 and Jeremiah 8:13:

Jesus is speaking about collective social life – politics, economics, religion, resistance, keeping the faith – a whole society, a culture, a nation. He is calling for thorough-going societal transformation – turning from blaming others (the Galileans) to looking in the mirror to see the log that is in every eye: the underlying pervasive violence in our way of being in the world, taking up “ground” on this beautiful planet.

In Hebrew Scripture the human species, Adam, is derived from Adamah – earth, soil, dirt, ground. Humans, created in the image of God,  are to produce sweet figs. But the Owner of the vineyard with the barren fig tree shows two traits: deep disappointment – “Why is it even using up the ground?” – and an over-riding patience that allows it more time to produce the sweet figs it was intended to bring forth from the dirt (adamah).

As I look out the window this morning to the world outside, I feel a tiny shiver of God’s frustration and long-suffering. I read the paper, read my emails, look in the mirror, and take my morning shower wondering what it will take before we see the violence of terrorists in ourselves.

The Rev. Maurice McCrackin is the one soul I know who really dared to live what Rabbi Jesus preached about teshuvah (repentance).  Mac was Pastor of St. Barnabas Presbyterian Church, by far the poorest church in the poorest section of Cincinnati, until he was removed. But it wasn’t his daily work among the poor that brought him attention. Mac was a war tax resister. He refused to pay federal taxes -not because he didn’t believe in taxes. He did! In the name of crucified Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Mac refused to join in funding a “defense” budget that was, in fact, a war budget that supported state-sponsored international terrorism. “Ordinary citizens aren’t terrorists, are we?” Mac said we are, and, in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace,  and he was carried off to jail again and again and again. “To give financial support to war while at the same time preaching against it is, to me, no longer a tenable position.” His spirit was as free as anyone I’ve ever known.

Now … there were some present reporting to Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach about the men of the Galil whose blood Pilate mixed with their zevakhim (sacrifices).

And, in reply, Moshiach said, Do you think that these men of the Galil were greater chote’im (sinners) than all others of the Galil, because they suffered this shud (misfortune)?

Lo (no), I say, but unless you make teshuva, you will all likewise perish.

How shall we make teshuvah?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 27, 2016

O God of Earth and Altar

While the world holds its breath after the attacks in Paris, we’ve searched for hymns that express in music a word worth hearing.

“O God of Earth and Altar” expresses a sense of prayerful resilience and supplication.The lyrics, written by G.K. Chesterton in 1906, were revised, in part, by Jane Parker Huber to address global terrorism:

From all that terror teaches, From lies of pen and voice, From all the easy speeches That make our hearts rejoice, From sale and profanation of honor and the sword, from sleep and from damnation, deliver us, good Lord.”

Already U.S. governors have made “easy speeches” about not accepting any Syrian refugees in their states, although it is not within their jurisdiction to decide. And, while we pray, the arms industry is preying on war’s alarms to increase production,  sales and profits in the name of our safety and security.

Here’s “O God of Earth and Altar” sung to Chesterton’s original lyrics.

Maya Angelou, the Castle, and the Moat

Urgent partisan e-mail messages from “The War Room” arrive regularly, rallying me against the enemy.

Interesting choice of words in a democratic republic.

Playing MahJong on my iPad, ads featuring a seductive woman in a white dress pop up coaxing me to play Medieval “War Games” complete with castles, knights, spears, and armor. Lately the ad has turned to entice me to “Come conquer the world with me“.

Allusions to war, military images that prey on fear with the illusion of conquering whatever we’re afraid of are increasingly prevalent. So are subliminal messages that liken the United States to a walled Medieval castle, like Donald Trump’s southern border wall and maybe, a northern wall, as well, which Scott Walker called “a legitimate issue for us to look at” yesterday on Meet the Press. Just think of it – a country completely secure with an impenetrable wall, just like a medieval castle.

Next comes the moat outside the castle wall.

Meanwhile, inside the castle, our citizens rush to the gun shows while we kill each other at an alarming rate.  A 90 year-old homebound man on oxygen sits all day in his Barco-Lounger allowing nothing else on his television than old Westerns and World War II documentaries. In other homes children play “War Games”on their Wii, iPhones and iPads while the parents play soldier in their partisan War Rooms.

“You dwell in whitened castles with deep and poisoned moats and cannot hear the curses that fill you children’s throats.”Maya Angelou

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August  31, 2015