30 March 2009

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In: 12-year-old Oskar is white as death. . .as if all the blood has been drained from him. . .which is fitting, given the friend he’s about to make.

Oskar is a listless, scrawny lad. He’s bullied at school, and his home life, a lonely existence with his distracted mother in their drab suburban Stockholm apartment, isn’t much better. His chief joys seem to be working on his true crime scrap book and using his talismanic pocketknife in pretend acts of revenge against his schoolyard tormentors.

One cold night, friendless Oskar sits on the snow-covered jungle gym outside his apartment building, fiddling with a Rubik’s Cube. He attracts the attention of Eli, the new girl from the apartment next door. Eli appears to be 12-years-old, also. . .but, as Oskar eventually learns, Eli is a vampire, and, as she will say, she has been 12 for a very long time.

Vampires are *in* in Western culture. . .one out of every five books sold in the USA during the last holiday season was authored by Stephenie Meyer. Blood drinkers seem to hold a particular appeal for teen girls. What is it with this *Twilight* generation? What spell have Meyer, Rachel Caine, Ellen Schreiber and the rest of the daughters of Anne Rice cast over them?

One must view the mania for vampirism as a criticism of Western life. Superficial. Scientific. Electronic. Restless. Neurotic. The bland vulgarity of Western life. Narcotics and nudity. Insta-Fornication. The triumph of pornography. The stale degeneracy of Western life. Never have so many debased themselves so thoroughly, and enjoyed it so little.

There must be in the subconscious of teen girls, as the sacrificial lambs of our pornocracy, some sense that the *natural world,* the Western world, is ugly and dead. There is no sensation. There is only the overwhelming boredom of ceaseless debauchery. Thus the appeal of the supernatural. . .

It used to be the ritual of the church gave life to the Western world. . .the supernatural flesh and blood of Christ was given in the Eucharist, and it sustained the West for almost 2000 years.

But now we have the McChurch. . .and instead of serving the flesh and blood of Christ, the McChurch offers coffee and donuts. What is the Jesus of the McChurch, this Savior-as-Tim-Hortons, compared to the counter-culture vampire of Meyer? It is the vampire which appears to teen girls to make all things new.

It used to be that filthy men and women looked to Christ to redeem them and clothe them in clean white linen as His spotless bride. . .

Now, as our culture unselfconsciously wallows in the mire, vampires offer our sexually beat-up teens (they are worn-out before they even have any understanding of physical union, of what it means to leave father and mother and to become one flesh with another) the chance to *revirgin*. . .they can recycle their ravaged and over-exposed genitals. . .they can become innocent brides, not by being born again, but by being dead again, through a union with the living dead.

In the ritual existence of vampires, Western girls, sacrificed for the pornocracy, see life.

The church used to preach eternity, but now mimics the world and only offers a temporal material heaven on earth.

As eternity vanishes from the church, teens find it in the nocturnal rituals of the vampire. The appeal for the Western girl: to be Forever 21.

But this is only my cranky rambling on the church and our polluted culture. . .it has nothing to do with the very good Let The Right One In, which is not a Meyer-esque vampire story, nor a traditional vampire or horror movie. It really has more the spirit of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale.

Isolated Oskar’s initial attraction to Eli is that of infatuation. He crushes on Eli as *the girl next door,* and wishes they go steady. Eli cleverly indulges Oskar while gradually seducing him into violence.

When Eli first meets Oskar, she is living with an old man. . .an old man who kills and then drains the blood of his victims. The old man’s serial murders are less conspicuous than vampire attacks, and serve, in our world of murder, as a safer, less conspicuous route to obtain the blood Eli needs.

One gets the impression the old man has been with Eli for a very long time. . .that he started out much as Oskar did.

Seen together, the Forever 12 Eli and the old man look a couple shadowed by incest/pedophilia. . .but it is Eli who is much older than the man. And there is a real sense of the tragedy of this old man’s life as his luck finally runs out and he is caught in an attempted murder. His bond to Eli is so strong (a bond of unnatural love), he pours acid over his face, so he cannot be indentified as the old man who lived with her. Eli visits the horribly disfigured old man in the hospital, and he offers his neck to her in a final act of devotion.

Eli, of course, is the Hebrew word for *my God*. . .and any who would worship Eli must approach her through blood sacrifice.

With the old man dead, and needing a new human caretaker, Eli intensifies the seduction/manipulation of Oskar. The filmmakers do a credible job showing the evolution of Eli’s + Oskar’s relationship. . .it is not rushed and it is not psychologically illogical, as would be done if this were a Hollywood film.

Even though Oskar has violent fantasies prior to meeting Eli, he is initially repulsed by Eli’s blood-lust and the violence which supports it. However, Eli takes advantage of Oskar’s desire for revenge, and this is the catalyst for his submission to Eli’s will.

The film would have been a truly great modern fairy tale had it ended at its next-to-last scene, with Oskar ultimately rejecting Eli’s violence, and choosing to remain alone in the human world. However, the movie concludes with a rather vulgar orgy of violence, and a beaming Oskar happily consenting to step outside the human world to become Eli’s new partner. . .thus, the tragedy of both Eli’s and Oskar’s lives is cheapened by the triumph of the Satanic circle of violence.

Still, everything that precedes the unsatisfying ending is of a high standard in art, plot and character development. . .even the movie’s subplot, involving the intersecting lives of Eli and a handful of eccentric alcoholic suburban Stockholm losers, is first rate. A worthy alternative to Hollywood’s lifeless drivel.

The Iconoclast

My oldest was showing me a sketch for his newest comic book, *Captain Underpants vs Hannah Montana*. . .it ends with Captain Underpants flushing Hannah Montana down a toilet. His mom heard us laughing about it:

“Violence against women is never funny,” she says.

She proceeds to lecture us for a long, long five minutes. My son kept looking over at me for help. Finally I say:

“Hannah Montana is not a woman. She’s not even a girl. She’s a Pop-Droid. And flushing her in a toilet isn’t an act of violence. . .it’s an act of iconoclasm. You should congratulate your son for tearing down the Tween Abomination that makes desolate, the Great Pop Beast 666 of our simpleton McCulture.”

“Yeah, mom,” my son says.

But the old lady wasn’t having any of it.

It is written:

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

23 March 2009

Life Goes On

I'm getting sleepy sitting here, staring at the computer screen. I better get up and move around. It'll look bad if they find me asleep in my chair, again.

I wander around. What day is it? Tuesday? Wednesday? What time is it? I look at my watch. 9:03 am. Man, I've only been here for an hour-and-a-half?

There's Matt over by the copy machine. What's he doing? Counting the individual sheets in a ream of paper?

“What are you doing, counting those?” I ask.

He nods.


“Tray's empty. Wanna put in just enough to finish my job.”

“Just stick the whole stack in there.”

He shakes his head.

“Why not?”

“Want it to be empty when I'm done.”

“What for?”

“Erin's over here a minute ago. Needs to use the machine.”

“Yeah? So what?”

“When she comes back, she'll have to fill it.”

“You want her to fill the paper?”

He nods.

The point of Matt's exercise escapes me. A look of incomprehension must be written across my face, for Matt stops his counting and addresses me in the tone of an exasperated school master:

“Because she'll have to bend over to fill the paper tray.”

“Oh,” I say.

“And I'll be right here to watch her.”

“Well,” I say, “that makes sense.”

I watch him as he starts to count the pages of paper again.

“Why not just stick the whole stack of paper in there, and when the job is done, just take out the leftovers?”

“Might see me taking out the paper. Too obvious.”

“She might come over right now and see you counting the paper.”

“Wouldn't be as obvious.” He stops counting, stares at me. “Look, no plan is a hundred percent fool-proof!”

“I guess not.”

Now I wonder, why did I even bother coming over here? I'm standing there trying to remember just as Jerry walks by. When he sees us, he says “hey, good, I need to talk to you guys.” Matt keeps counting his papers. I laugh to myself. It's amazing the power an ass has over some people. “What's he doing?” Jerry asks. I shrug. His boss wants to talk to him, and he can't be bothered, because he wants to see Erin bend over. “What are you doing over there?”

“Uh,” Matt says, “uh, the machine is out of paper.”

“Forget that for now. I need to talk to you.”

“But. . .” Matt says, and he remains there, paper in hand.

He really wants to see Erin bend over. *Real life* pornography. . .almost interactive, even. You get an image in your head, and it can cast a shadow over everything.

“Put the paper down,” Jerry says.

“But. . .”

“Put the paper down, Matt. Do the right thing.”

“But. . .”

All his hopes and dreams. . .Erin bent over. . .his little vision of heaven. . .her ass an open invitation. . .it all fades away, fades away. Matt sets the paper on the work station next to the copier. He takes a couple steps over to where Jerry and I are standing.

“This better be important!” he says in a pathetic attempt to retain his dignity.

“Tell me,” Jerry says, “why does this have to be important?”

Look at poor Matt, trying to think of an answer that won't end in utter humiliation. And all he because he lusted after Erin, wanted to see her ass in a *suggestive* position. Now he stands before Jerry, with nothing to say for himself. In this case, unlike Christ before Pilate, no answer is the worst answer.

“That's right,” Jerry says, “I can call you over here and just whistle Dixie, if I like.”

“As long as there aren't any African-Americans around,” I say.

A little bit of a wince cracks Jerry's face. The mighty don't like to be reminded even their power has limits.

“Yes, well, I wanted to tell you today is Ken's first day back at work, so go--”

“He's back at work already?” I ask.

Look at Matt. He's not even listening. He's staring at the copier.

“'Already?' It's been two weeks,” Jerry says.

“Two whole weeks? I guess you can get over anything in two weeks, huh?”

“I didn't say he was over it. You probably never get over something like that. But life goes on. And that includes work.”

“'Life goes on,' eh? Wow,” I say, “that's deep, Jerry.”

“Whatever. I'm not going to get into one of your pointlessly negative discussions. I'm just trying to make things as easy as possible for Ken, so I'm asking you both not to immediately dump his projects back onto him. Let him ease back into the work routine. Have some consideration.”

“Is that it?” Matt asks.

Jerry doesn't even bother to answer. He looks as if he is disgusted as he walks away. But what is his disgust born of, except misguided arrogance? As if him asking us to continue to do Ken's work, asking us to continue to sacrifice, as it were, somehow credits merit back to him. Not that I mind doing Ken's work, or even really consider it a true sacrifice--I have little to do as it is. But don't canonize yourself off the saintly deeds of others.

“I thought he'd never leave!” Matt says as he hurries back to lay his Erin ass trap.

I try again to remember why I came over here. For that matter, why am I even at this stupid job? I don't know if I could come up with a satisfying answer.

Matt finishes his trap. I walk with him to his cubicle. For no reason. Other than time must be filled.

“How are you going to know when Erin's at the machine?” I ask, as I sit in the guest chair.

“She has to walk right past my cube to get to the copier.”

I sit there. He stares at his computer screen. American workers are the most productive in the world, studies show.

After a long silence, almost like *missing time,* Matt speaks:

“What are you going to say to him?”


“Ken. What are you going to say to him?”

“I don't know. Nothing, probably. I hardly ever talked to the guy before, anyway. Why should now be any different?”

“You have to say something, don't you?”

“Like what? 'Gee, I'm really sorry, Ken. If there's anything I can do, let me know?'”

“Yeah. I guess. Why not?”

“It's so fake. I barely know the guy. I mean, yeah, I'm sorry. But that's just a phrase, a saying. 'I'm sorry.' What does that mean? Too bad it happened? Sure, it's too bad. And what could I do for the guy? Those words, that phrase or saying, is just an excuse. To excuse us from the burden of saying or doing anything of any genuine meaning.”

“Don't make it all complicated. You gotta say something, at least the first time you see him.”

“That's my point. You say your little saying once, and that's it, you're excused from any genuine, meaningful human interaction.”

“All I know is, you gotta say something.”

Another moment of missing time. And then Matt's phone rings. He answers, he listens, he says “yeah, yeah,” he hangs up.

“Damn! I gotta go see Arrington,” he says.

He starts to leave the cubicle, sees me still sitting here. I guess he expects me to leave. People are funny about their cubicles. Treat them like *homes.* The visitor is supposed to leave when the host leaves. I suppose I should go back to my cubicle, check my email, work, etc. But I don't really feel like getting up.

“I'll just wait here till you get back,” I say to Matt.

He hesitates. He wants to say something, but you can't really tell somebody to get out of your cubicle. In the end, whatever emotional attachment you have to your little work cell, it's just too silly to make an issue of it.

“OK,” he says.

After he leaves I examine the junk he has littering his desk and the cloth walls. Nothing of interest. . .except for a calendar. Tenjho Tenge, it is called. I don't know what it means. It's one of those Japanese manga things, featuring teen girls with cute, innocent faces and centerfold bodies barely concealed in slutty school girl uniforms, weird military get-ups and two-sizes-too-small lingerie. Matt is thirty-two years old. There is no age, of course, where one is old enough to lose these kinds of desires. . .yet there is an age when one should be old enough to know to conceal these kinds of desires. As I am thinking this, Erin passes by. She is carrying a pretty-good-sized stack of papers. Must be going to the copier. I wait a few seconds, then slowly head that way, myself.

I see her at the work station, sorting out her documents. Erin is probably 25 or so, yet I notice she is trying to cultivate an even more youthful look. She has medium length straight black hair tied into two pigtails and she is wearing those big clunky black eyeglasses, that kind of '50s style frame. . .she has on some type of denim bib overalls thing that cover a very tight, almost sleevless black t-shirt. . .it's really a strange kind of look: 21st century farmer's daughter/bookworm/retro chic or something. Not as overtly sexualized as a manga calendar girl, but she still embraces the girlishness Matt apparently craves.

She sets some papers in the document feeder, presses the start button. . .nothing happens. That's right, Erin--the machine is out of paper. First she bends down and opens the door to the bottom cabinet of the work station. That's where the paper is stocked. There's really not much to see when Erin bends over. Not that she doesn't have a nice body, but with the overalls, it's not much of a show. I wonder why Matt went to all this trouble? What would he see in this?

As I am pondering that, Erin opens a ream of paper, turns toward the copier, sees me looking at her. She looks a little surprised.

“Is. . .er. . .did you need to use the machine?”

“No. No. I was just. . .” I was just what? Better not even try to answer that. “Is it out of paper?” I ask.

She nods.

I think I need to say something else. I don't think I can just walk away, my behavior would seem a little odd. What to say, though?

“Oh. Gee, I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?”

That didn't work. From the expression on her face, I can tell she is marking this as a weird encounter.

“Uh, no, that's OK. I can fill it myself,” she says.

“That's good, then,” I say. Now I can walk away. I wonder if she thinks I wanted to see her bend over? I really didn't. I don't even know why I came over here in the first place. Now Erin probably thinks I'm some creepy old guy. But I'm not that old. I'm not even old enough to be her father. Well, I could be old enough to be her father, if I'd had a kid when I was around seventeen. Who cares, anyway? She's the one in the ridiculous outfit. Bib overalls. How stupid. There really ought to be something in the corporate dress code about bib overalls.

I wander the hallways. Where should I go? Back to my cubicle? I guess so. I have to take a piss, first. I head for the restroom.

I get in there, and just as I have finished unzipping and am about to urinate, Ken comes in and stops at the urinal right next to the one I am using. Even though there are three urinals, and I am at the urinal on the left, he uses the middle urinal. He could have taken the urinal on the right. True, it's one of those low urinals. . .I have never understood the purpose of those low urinals. They are kid-sized, but no kids work in a corporate office. So who are the low urinals for? Dwarves? Men in wheelchairs? But how would that even work? Ken could have still used the low urinal, and not stood right next to me. Now I have to piss right in tight quarters. It takes a little while to get started. It's his first day back on the job. Why did he have to stand right next to me? Now I feel like I have to say something, with him being so close. But what can I say, with my zipper down and my pecker hanging out? All these situations in life where you have to say something. And there are no words. This is ridiculous. Why didn't he use the low urinal? He would have been far enough away where I wouldn't have felt the need to talk.

“How's it going?” he says, like it was a real effort to get the words out. Like he's trying to *get on with life.*

Man, why did he have to talk to me? I can hear his urine crashing against the urinal cake. I start to piss, too. What am I going to say? How do I get into these situations?

“It's going all right,” I say. I feel compelled to say something more, though. “You know, Ken, I was real sorry to hear, you know. And if there is anything I can do, just let me know.”

“Thanks,” he says, as he zips up his pants.

I linger at the urinal while he washes his hands. Well, I feel sorry for the poor bastard. It must suck to have to come back to work, and try to be the same person. But what can I do to help the guy, really? Stay away is the best thing. Leave him in peace. He probably wants the same. To not have to talk about it, acknowledge it to the strangers at work. What an unbearable spot to be in. All these strangers knowing your grief. You wouldn't want to have to be in that situation. But I guess he had to come back to work. “Life goes on,” that's what that idiot Jerry said. What an idiot. Ken probably wishes everyone would just ignore him.

But why did he take the urinal right next to me?

Days passed at work, like they always do: lots of empty hours interrupted every now and then with short bursts of necessary activity, gossip and paranoid conversations, and the scavenging of leftovers from various department lunches. I didn't see too much of Ken, which wasn't unusual, nor did I bother thinking about him. Later, afterwards, when he was a hot conversation topic for a couple weeks, I heard it said that during this period he had seemed very quiet and withdrawn. Well, why shouldn't he have been? But anyway, it was a week or so after the urinal encounter that I looked up from my computer monitor and saw Ken standing in the opening to my cubicle.

“There's something I need to talk to you about,” he says.

“Sure,” I say, thinking it must be something related to work. “What is it?”

“I'd rather not talk about it here. Conference room 833 is open, if you could come down there.”

A darkness rolls over me. He wants to talk about his daughter. He wants a conference room where he can close a door, and nobody will hear. Nobody except me. This darkness rolls over my spirit. By nature, I don't want to be bothered with other people. It's just not in me. No need for me to apologize. No need for you to apologize. We are who we are. This darkness is the shadow of predestination. The impossibility of the task at hand--to say something that will convert Ken--is given to me, a being who has no personal interest in the matter, by my Master. It is an exercise of faithfulness. . .as physical exercise is a darkness to the grossly obese, this faith exercise is a darkness to my naturally cold spirit. Of course, it is the least I can do.

Ken closes the door to room 833. We sit on opposite sides of a long oval table. There is a telephone between us. The chairs are nice, fake leather with high backs. I stare at the phone as Ken begins to speak. I remember that scene in Tarkovsky's Stalker where the phone rings and rings and rings and rings. That was a good movie, I think. A real good movie.

“The reason I wanted to talk to you was because. . .you know how it is in the workplace environment. . .you hear people's conversations. . .you walk past people's offices or cubes, you catch bits of their conversations. And I've been working here almost five years. . .and I've heard you and Matt. . .a few times, not a lot, but enough that it's stuck in my mind. . .I've heard you and Matt talking about religion. . .and--”

I look at Ken. I have to cut him off, here. I've learned over the years you have to be very very precise in these matters. Very precise, right from the beginning, or you waste a lot of time and energy on the insignificant opinions of people like Matt and Ken. . .who are pretty much like most other people, come to think of it.

“I never talked to Matt about religion. I never to talk to anyone about religion. I talk about the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”

Ken looks a little surprised.

“OK,” he says, “I'm not sure there's any difference between the two. But--”

I have to interrupt again.

“There is a difference. I'll talk about the Lord Jesus Christ, but I don't want to be bothered discussing the nonsense of religion. . .the traditions and rituals of the blind.”

I think Ken is taken aback by my seeming curtness. He has probably been treated very delicately the last three or four weeks. He may even have come to expect people to indulge him in his grief. He may even assume it is now his right to be indulged.

“OK. All right. That's OK with me. I just. . .”

He's unsure now about how to bring it up. And maybe he wonders now if he even should. Maybe he expected me to indulge him all the way down the line, point by point, until I gave him whatever answers he wanted to hear to whatever questions he had. Maybe he now thinks I might say something that could somehow make everything feel even worse. Maybe now a whole new darkness is rolling over him.

“Is there something bothering you?” I ask.

Now he looks shocked and surprised.

“You heard about my daughter, didn't you?”

I nod.

“Did you hear how it happened?”

“I read a couple stories on the internet. I imagine they didn't give all the details, but what they did sounded bad enough.”

“So obviously something is bothering me,” he says with a small note of anger in his voice. But he has no right to be angry with me. I'm here, aren't I?

“I was real sorry to hear about your daughter. But what I meant was, is there something beyond what happened to her that's bothering you?”

Give the man credit, he takes a moment and considers the question.

“Yes. That's an interesting way to put it, but yes, that's right. There is something beyond what happened to her. To Katie.”

“What's bothering you?”

“Well,” he says with a long sigh, “listen. I believe when people die, that's it. They're just dead. They cease to exist. There's nothing else.”

He looks at me like he expects me to respond. But I have nothing to say. I want to say as little as possible. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll just leave. I won't feel guilty. I came in this room, and so far I haven't denied anything.

“There's just nothing,” he says.

I nod.

“That's what I believe,” he says.

I nod.

“Listen, I was raised, we were all raised with some kind of religion, you know. We all heard the stories about heaven and hell when we were kids. If you were good and believed in Jesus you'd go to heaven when you died, but if you were bad and didn't believe in Jesus, you'd go to hell.”

I nod.

“I don't mind. . .sure, it would be great if Katie were in heaven and everything was--”

He looks down. He's probably a little choked up, picturing his daughter in heaven, angels healing her numerous wounds and wiping away her tears. I do feel sorry for the fellow, whatever those words mean.

“That's OK if there is no heaven. I don't believe there is. I don't believe there is anything. But. . .I don't think there is hell, either. . .but. . .we got some minister for Katie's funeral. . .I don't know who he is. . .he did the funeral. . .I had this feeling. . .not a feeling. . .a fear. . .it's killing me. . .”

He stops talking. He rubs his hands over his face and through his hair. His face, which had looked normal, maybe a little sad and a little tired, but normal, now wears the expression of the tormented. It's strange how a thought can twist a face. This thought, whatever it is, is really bothering him.

“Do you mind if I step out for just a second?” he asks.

“No. Go ahead.”

As I wait for him to return, I really start to think about Ken. Most of the time, you just glance at people at work. You don't really see them or consider them. Ken is probably around the same age as me. I could have had a daughter the same age as his Katie. How did he manage that? How did he manage to have a kid? A family, they call it. How did he manage that? I wonder how much of his life revolved around his daughter? How much of his everyday routine was based on his responsibility to her? Even though she was nineteen, he was still presumably helping her with college, etc. Now that part of his life is gone. Part of the foundation of his life has been removed. I had told that idiot Jerry I was surprised Ken was back at work so soon. Now that I think more about it, I wonder why Ken would even return to work at all? The structure of his life has been severely damaged. Maybe he continues on here out of habit, still too traumatized to realize his new reality? Or maybe coming here, doing this meaningless job, distracts him from his new reality? Anyway, I wish he would hurry up and come back. I'm getting tired sitting here.

Through the window in the door, I see Erin walk by. Hmmn. I wonder what she thought when she heard about Ken's daughter? Did she imagine such a thing happening to herself? Or did it not even register? What if she knew about Matt's preposterous plan to catch her bending over? Does she realize how disturbed most people are? How truly vulnerable she is? She probably thinks I am the creep. That's how wrong most people get it. Why, I could be her father. I am old enough to have a daughter her age. Poor Erin. Gee, I'm getting tired sitting here. Where's Ken?

For some reason, a picture of Erin, bloody, battered and bruised, clothes torn, her clunky black eyeglasses lying next to her on a sidewalk, enters my mind. I'm wondering where such a vision comes from, when Ken finally returns.

“Let me tell you what is really bothering me,” he says as he sits down. “Like I said, I believe when you die, that's it. That's the end of it. You just cease to exist. It's just a nothingness forever. But like I said, we were all raised with these ideas of heaven and hell. Heaven not existing doesn't bother me. And I am sure there is no hell. But I have this fear. . .I'm ninety-nine point nine-nine percent positive there is no hell. . .and I never thought about hell my entire adult life. But after what happened to Katie. . .every now and then, there are these brief moments. . .and I think, what if there is a hell? Like I said, I'm ninety-nine point nine-nine percent positive there is no hell. . .but just those little moments when I wonder, they are eating me alive. Then I think, but even if there was a hell, why would Katie be there? She never did anything to anybody, and after what happened to her--”

He chokes up a little bit here. It's understandable.

“Listen,” he says after he regains his composure, “we had this minister. . .I don't know who he was. . .somebody recommended him to my wife. . .after the funeral I talked to him. . .I told him I didn't believe in heaven or hell, but that I had these moments of fear that were killing me. . .moments where I wondered if there was a hell.. .and so I asked him, I said, even if there is a god, there is no chance he would send Katie to hell, right? She never did anything to anybody, and after what happened to her. . .I told him Katie was raised without any kind of religion. . .but that shouldn't matter, right? He gave me a wishy-washy answer, that above all, god is a god of love, and that he's merciful, and he always does the right thing. . .and I said, well, I remember when I was a kid, Christians believe you have to believe in Jesus, right? Or you go to hell, right? And then he said, and I remember this word-for-word, believe me, he said 'Those are decisions only the lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't. I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of god is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.' He just wouldn't say there was absolutely no way Katie could be in hell. This thought comes to me, every now and then, for just a moment, just a couple seconds, a couple times a day, two, three times a day, and it is killing me.”

He looks at me, like he is expecting me to say something.

“I don't know what you want me to say.”

“Like I said, I heard you and Matt talking about religion a few times. I got the impression you were one of those old school Christians, who believed that you had to believe in Jesus or you would go to hell. Is that right?”

“I don't talk about religion. I talk about the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”

“Katie didn't believe in Jesus. We didn't raise her that way. So you believe she is in hell, right? I figure if I talk to you, there is no way you can convince me it is true, and this fear that is killing me will go away.”

“How do you know your daughter didn't have faith in Christ?”

“How do I know?” He seems surprised by the question. “We didn't raise her to believe in that. We never talked about it, never went to a church. Nothing. No religion at all of any kind.”

Ken doesn't understand the difference between religion, which you can *raise* children in, teach them to observe traditions and rituals, etc., and the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“You can't raise a person to have the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's a gift God gives to people. It has nothing to do with our actions.”

“So you think Katie is in hell? What kind of god would send Katie to hell just for not believing in somebody? And after what she went through? This is good for me, good for me. . .it drives the doubt out of my mind.”

“The doubt will come back. I tell you in all sincerity, I am sorry for you and your family. I can only tell you this, when the doubt comes, take your eyes off of Hell, and place them on the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. It's possible in your daughter's last minutes or seconds God delivered the gospel to her, and she received the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“That's ridiculous. That's impossible. How could that have happened? Hell is more believable than that.”

Ken's worldly reasoning is a balm to his nerves. I can see that. He looks free of worry. He is convincing himself of the unreality of Hell by his arguments against the Father and the Son. It will work. For now. But the doubt will come back.

“When the doubt comes back, imagine your daughter staring up at the sky and seeing a vision of the stars aligning themselves into an alphabetical pattern that spells 'Jesus Saves.' Imagine her with Christ, and not with Satan.”

He snorts. Then he says:

“I'm sorry. I don't mean to make fun of you. I just don't believe it. It might seem weird to you, but I honestly thank you for talking to me. It means a lot to me. Like I said, I don't mean to make fun of you. I don't think you are stupid or anything. But just hearing about your religion convinces me of my own beliefs. It's kind of strange, I know, but you really have helped me. I hope you are not offended.”

“No. Not at all.”

“Well,” he says, standing up, “I guess that's all, then.” He reaches over to shake my hand. Another formality, another tradition, another ritual. I shake his hand. I watch him exit the room. I stay seated in my chair. It's a nice leather chair, with a high back. Very comfortable. I'm tired of being bothered. I review the conversation. I am certain Ken's doubt will return. He will fear his daughter's possible damnation in Hell, again and again and again. Knowing only the garbage of religion, he will look upon Satan and Hell, instead of Christ. He cannot imagine a miracle for his daughter. Too bad. He fears Hell, now, instead of during the nineteen years his daughter was with him. Typical. Well, as I tried to tell him, he couldn't have told her anything about Jesus, anyway. Only the Heavenly Father can do that. Only He can draw a person to Christ. And maybe He did draw Ken's Katie to Christ.

What was the point of this for me, I wonder, as I get up from the leather chair?

Days passed at work, like they always do: lots of empty hours interrupted every now and then with short bursts of necessary activity, gossip and paranoid conversations, and the scavenging of leftovers from various department lunches. I didn't see too much of Ken, which wasn't unusual, nor did I bother thinking about him. One morning, a week or so after our talk, I was sitting in Matt's cubicle. He was telling me the real reason for global warming:

“You have six billion people on the planet now. Each one is approximately ninety-six degrees. A hundred years ago, you had what? Two billion people? That's four billion more people, each at ninety-six degrees. So of course the planet is warmer. If you have one person in a phone booth, the temperature's fine. Stuff three or four more people in there, and then it gets hot. Same principle for global warming.”

I was just about to tell him how much sense that made when Erin stopped at Matt's cube.

“Jerry wants to have a quick department meeting in 833 in five minutes,” she says.

“What's that all about?” Matt asks.

Erin shakes her head and moves on.

“Somebody either quit or got fired,” I say.

“More work for us,” Matt says.

We go down to the conference room. As we are waiting for Jerry to appear, Matt says:

“Notice how much warmer it gets in here with all these people?”

I nod.

Jerry walks in. He looks a little nervous. Maybe he's going to announce some lay-offs. Or a merger. Or maybe the whole company finally went under. I dread having to look for a new job. Those ridiculous interviews. “Can you tell me about a difficult situation at your last job, and how you handled it?” “Well, there was this guy, Ken, whose daughter was--”

“This is tough moment for our department,” Jerry says, interrupting my imaginary interview. “I know a couple of you have already heard the terrible news. For the rest, I am very sorry to have to tell you that our friend and co-worker Ken Simmons took. . .took his own life yesterday. You are all aware of what happened to Ken's daughter. . .”

Jerry continued on for a few minutes, outlining what the company would do for Ken's wife, how this would impact our department, etc., etc.

A couple people gasped aloud when they heard Jerry say Ken took his own life. A couple people sobbed, most seemed shaken.

I have to confess, as soon as Jerry had said Ken had taken his own life, I wanted to stand up and say:

“Life goes on, eh, Jerry?”

But I thought better of it, as they say.

Then I remembered what Ken had said:

This thought comes to me, every now and then, for just a moment, just a couple seconds, a couple times a day, two, three times a day, and it is killing me.

He could not free his mind of Hell and Satan. He saw his daughter's agony continuing in Hell. He felt guilty because he didn't *raise* her in *religion.* Judas felt guilty, too, over a matter of *religion.* Ken was overcome of Hell. Totally defeated by Satan. He could not allow for a miraculous Christ, for the Right Hand of God to reach down to his daughter as she lay dying. . .and even if he could allow for such a miracle, I suppose the uncertainty would lead him in a circle right back to Hell.

I kept my eye on Erin while Jerry was talking about Ken. I was old enough to be her father.

18 March 2009

He Was A Shy Man With Blue Eyes Who Didn't Like To Talk About His Work

Beckett Remembering, Remembering Beckett, edited by James and Elizabeth Knowlson: Samuel Beckett was regarded as one of the great literary eggheads of the 20th century, and I suppose his reputation is deserved, though the work he is most famous for, the drama Waiting For Godot, is as subtle as Oily To Bed, Oily To Rise.

Over-rated as a dramatist, there is an undeniable greatness to his fiction, particularly the trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable. But there is also an undeniable dullness in much of Beckett’s writing. It’s a curious kind of dullness, though. It’s not quite boring enough to get you to close the book, it’s just irritating enough, with just enough of a dash of morbid humor to keep you turning the page. Beckett was the great chronicler of the modern navel gazer, the man with too much time on his hands, who, instead of living, thought about living (what the intellectuals call *existence*) and fretted endlessly about death.

He had keen insight into the kind of stupid, artificial lives most of us live. . .he was the sheeple’s great tragicomedian.

Here’s a typical example of Beckett-prose:

In reading Beckett Remembering, Remembering Beckett, a collection of interviews with Becket and people who knew Beckett, we discover the wellspring of Beckett’s curious literary dullness: it is Becket himself. We have 313 pages of remembrances by and about Beckett, and aside from the fact he grew from a deathly dull schoolteacher to James Joyce’s errand boy and then to the Big Man of the Theater of the Absurd (and taking his plays so ultra-seriously, he believed nobody could stage them correctly, thus he ended up directing them himself--in a prick-like fashion), all we learn about the Great Man of Letters is the following:

He was a tall, thin, quiet, shy man with blue eyes who didn’t like to talk about his work.

Sam and Frank never uttered a word to any girl. They were both totally bound up, shy. Nobody—it was awful. (p. 18)

Although withdrawn and sometimes moody, he was a most attractive character. His eyes, behind his spectacles, were piercing blue and he often sat quietly assessing in a thoughtful, and even critical, way what was going on around him and the material that was being presented to him. (p. 21)

Sam Beckett was somewhat different from any of the boys that I had been associated with. He was not particularly odd—but he gave the impression of being a solitary, withdrawn person. (p. 23).

Beckett returned to Dublin in the autumn of 1930 take up the post of assistant to Professor Rudmose-Brown in Trinity College, teaching French to undergraduates. . .but Beckett was almost pathologically shy and detested the self-exposure that was involved in lecturing. (p. 33).

Beckett was not sociable. He was brusque and he always gave the me the impression of great purity of character. And when I saw him when were, after all, in our late seventies and early eighties, I found he hadn’t changed. He was the same, the eyes, the blue eyes. (p. 42-43).

I think Sam Beckett was there only for one term, perhaps two. He gave one the impression of being a tall thin streak of misery. (p. 53).

Sam Beckett was not a good lecturer—in fact even the most earnest and serious students found him boring. My first memory of him is of a tall, guant, bespectacled, blue-eyed, pock-marked man gazing out of the window into New Square. (p.53).

My very hazy recollection of Beckett is of a very quiet, possibly almost shy young man, perhaps even not altogether completely happy in his role of teacher. (p. 54).

I found him reserved but not cold. (p. 91).

You see he was extremely shy and very, very discreet. He has never been talkative and he didn’t explain very much. In fact, if you asked him to explain something, he used to say that he didn’t know what explanations he had to give. (p. 117).

We heard that Sam Beckett was in London to see the show. After the show he came round to the dressing room. And there was for me this very frightening man; his appearance was extraordinary. It gave me a frisson: the recession of the eyes, and the lightness of them, a piercing blue. (p. 123).

He was shy, and I was intimidated. (p. 128).

You know, we were both very shy. (p. 156).

If I said: “What do you think the character is thinking here, Sam? Why is she reacting?” His answer: “Tis of no consequence.” (p. 163).

Beckett: “Don’t ask me for any meaning in the thing; it just is what it is.” (p. 188).

What I hadn’t realized during the course of rehearsals was Beckett’s intense dislike of discussing his work. (p. 205).

Both of us were rather shy, I think. (p. 230).

As he spoke and listened, Beckett’s light-blue eyes glowed with a subtle variety of expressions. (p. 263).

His eyes are the brightest blue with what I would swear are black crosses in the middle of them. (p. 268).

As to Waiting For Godot, he’s not bored with it, but he's almost certainly tired of it or at least tired of answering questions about it. (p. 268).

The other day I noticed Beckett along one of the footpaths in the Luxembourg Gardens, reading a newspaper in a way that reminded me of one of his characters. He looked rather unwell. I didn’t dare approach him. What would I say? I like him so much but it’s better that we not speak. He is so discreet! Conversation is a form of play-acting that requires a certain lack of restraint. It’s a game Beckett wasn’t made for. Everything about him bespeaks a silent monologue. (p. 285).

What he cannot tolerate are questions like: do you think this or that work is destined to last? That this one or that one deserves its reputation? Of X and Y, which one will survive, which is the greater? All evaluations of this sort tax his patience and depress him. “What’s the point of all that?” he said to me after a particularly unpleasant evening, when the discussion at dinner had resembled a grotesque version of the Last Judgment. (p. 286).

He is as straight and unassuming as an ash plant and the blue eyes have the particular gaze of an eagle in that they convey both hurt and fury. His searching disposition unwittingly cautions you not to talk cant, not to humiliate him or yourself with intemperate drivel, in fact not to talk at all unless you have something of import to say. (p. 286).

Mr. Beckett was painfully shy. (p. 286).

One day George Plimpton, the editor of The Paris Review in New York, approached me to do an interview with Beckett for the series ‘Writers at Work.’ He offered to send me to Paris. I told Plimpton that Beckett never gave interviews, and besides I would not want to impose on him with such a request. But the next day I wrote to Sam saying that even though I knew he would say no, I could not resist asking him since The Paris Review would pay all my expenses for one week in Paris, this way we could have a couple good expensive meals with excellent wine at his favourite restaurant, and pretend to do an interview. Sam’s answer was only one line: “Dear Raymond, Sorry, I have no views to inter.” (p. 302-303).

There you have it, 313 pages of remembrances of Beckett.

All work and no play makes Samuel a dull boy, ineed.

It is safe to say Beckett’s personal life will never overshadow his writing.

14 March 2009

The Martyr Rachel Corrie

It was six years ago today the martyr Rachel Corrie died.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. . .

It continues to strike me as a sign of the great sickness of America that Rachel Corrie is not remembered, except by those who mock her.

She had a true story of heroism, and it is ignored, or spat on and distorted—this tells you the American heart.


Look at Jessica Lynch (born in *Palestine,* WV). The Military Media Complex tried to make a *star* out of her. . .Jessica Lynch, a wrong turn in an ugly, pointless war. . .and the Military Media Complex tried to make her into a Princess Warrior—because they have set the American heart on violence.

Life has gotten much harder for Rachel’s friends in Palestine over the last six years. . .

It would be fair to say Rachel Corrie died in vain—but how will most of us die?

In shame? Fat and wheezing, lying in our own filth? Taking our last short breath lying on a sagging bed, not with the angels of Christ singing us out of this world, but with a TV blaring some noxious *reality,* a house-full of has-been *stars* crying over who was to blame for them being sodomized by Michael Jackson?

If not in shame, perhaps we will die in utter insignificance. . .70, 80, 90 years old, useless eaters, who accepted everything without question, in exchange for a comfortable, trifling existence? Perhaps dying in a *nursing* home, as an amusement for the next generation of useless eaters?

Better to die in vain. . .better to die daring the vanity Rachel Corrie dared. . .the vanity of believing she could say *no* to the ways of the world.

Of course, if she died without Christ, the difference is merely aesthetic. No, not *merely* aesthetic. . .*only* aesthetic. At least there was some art to her life. Rachel Corrie had the good taste to die young and fit, living a romantic adventure, while most of us will live long gray lives. Picture the Western masses as sheeple choked in a long, long runway, slowly inching toward death.

And if Rachel Corrie died with Christ, then she is in Heaven, dressed in a white robe, resting for yet a little season. . .

I did this interview with a friend of Rachel Corrie’s five years ago:

For those unfamiliar with the events of 16 March 2003 here is a summary, recently written by Rachel's cousin Elizabeth Corrie:

On March 16, 2003, an Israeli soldier and his commander ran over Rachel with a nine-ton Caterpillar bulldozer while she stood - unarmed, clearly visible in her orange fluorescent jacket - protecting a Palestinian home slated for demolition by the Israeli army. The death of Rachel Corrie, and the response that her case has - and has not - received, reveal several disturbing, indeed immoral and criminal, truths.

First, Rachel died while attempting to prevent the demolition of a home, a common practice of the Israeli Army's collective punishment that has left more than 12,000 Palestinians homeless since the beginning of the second uprising in September 2000. This practice violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Second, Rachel was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer, manufactured in the United States and sent to Israel as part of the regular U.S. aid package to Israel, which amounts to $3 billion to $4 billion annually, all of it from U.S. taxpayers. The use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy civilian homes, not to mention to run over unarmed human rights activists, violates U.S. law, including the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of military aid against civilians.

Third, the self-acquittal of the Israeli army for Rachel's death and the resistance of the state of Israel to an independent investigation into this case reveals both the Sharon administration's unwillingness to take responsibility for the death of a U.S. citizen and the Bush administration's cowardice in allowing another nation to attack U.S. citizens with impunity.

The sickness of Amerika is reflected very well in the shabby treatment of the Corrie death. The corporate media and the government swept the ugly crime under the rug. . .the fringe media that commented on the case did so mainly to mock the poor 23 year old girl. . .a true hero. . .a young woman who honorably represented her country. The reprobates who insulted the bravery of Corrie shamefully smeared the victim. . .they tried to shift the focus from Corrie's murder to Corrie's *treason*. . .and what were Corrie's great treasonous crimes? A photograph was discovered which showed Corrie burning a fake American flag at a protest rally, and she dared to play a female David to the zionist Goliath. For this, the reprobates reasoned, Corrie deserved to die. . .and to have memory of her scorned.

But let us not to belabor the seamy religious/political implications of the slander of Rachel Corrie. . .why further dignify these sordid calumnies by giving them additional consideration? Better to remind readers of what the Lord Jesus Christ said:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. . .

Of course, Rachel Corrie was not perfect. . .no one is. . .yet it is apparent she was an increasingly rare person of conviction. .. .and decided to follow her beliefs to their bitter end. For this, 7000 miles from her home, she was treated like a pile of garbage that needed to be cleared from the path of destruction.

Let it not be thus in America. . .so I emailed a young artist who knew Rachel. . .let his memory of her be heard above the din of slander:

Question: How did you meet Rachel Corrie? What was it about her that you found attractive?

Josh Simmons: I met Rachel when I moved to Olympia, Wa. in the fall of 1997, I believe. She was attending Evergreen, and I lived right next to the school for a little while, so we'd go to the same parties, knew the same people and so on. She was a pretty girl, in a kinda off-kilter way, I've always liked girls who were attractive in a kinda strange way.....She was pretty wild back then, drinking a lot and running around naked and talking about how she was gonna save the world and write the great american novel and all this....

I'm sort of a grumpy bitch, so sometimes I find myself attracted to people who are really outgoing and exuberant and curious about a lot of things....Although I never much cared for her whole activism angle on things, or activists in general, I gotta say, she sure wasn't half-assed about it, and that I do admire. Even back then when she was running around half-crazed and just seemed like any young girl who didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, she was still volunteering her time and really involved with social issues, it seemed, I don't know, I was mostly just interested in her romantically.

Question: People who know of Corrie only through the events of her death might assume she was a *fanatic radical* who lived and breathed political activism 24 hours a day. . .can you recall any specific anecdotes that would soften this image? For example, did she have a Chris Cornell poster on her bedroom wall?

Josh Simmons: The thing about her though, this image people have of her as a fanatic or radical is just ridiculous. Couldn't be further from the truth. I mean she always had her beliefs and all, but she was just a funny, crazy girl when I knew her. We'd both make sick jokes and so on, she definitely wasn't some uptight nelly, preaching at people left and right for any supposed transgression. I think, although a lot of it did seem a little naive to me at the time, she ultimately had the right attitude about being an activist.

No Chris Cornell poster, she was into surrealist painters, and books like 100 Years of Solitude and Milan Kundera and some other purple prosed type stuff, most of which I don't really care for, but it beats reading romance novels or some shit. Anyway, I was pretty infatuated with the girl for a while, but she was just too scattered and running around kissing other boys and stuff, so I left town.

Question: No one acts out of a purely altruistic motivation. .. .do you have any idea why she would leave the comfort of the soft American life and go to Palestine to help those poor people? For example, did she read too many Joe Sacco comics?

Josh Simmons: She probably did read a few too many Joe Sacco comics, Noam Chomsky tracts, whatever....And even though she didn't have perhaps the most common sense in the world for heading over to a war zone, a skinny, strange white girl who grew up in a relatively sheltered, stable home and environment (I grew to hate Olympia and it's liberal misguided gay softness), what she did took balls, and I respect that. Whereas 95% of peoples will never do anything with their lives that requires a tenth of the courage it took to do what she did, she put herself at risk, and I like to think, at least, that she had a somewhat "meaningful" death, or an exciting one anyway!!

I don't really care for the whole martyr thing, and I don't mean to sound crass or glib, but while most folks are just gonna whither away living their safe little lives and get gobbled up by cancer and old age and liver disease and so on, Rachel got murdered by a bulldozer of the Israeli army. All politics and my personal attachment aside, I just find that really absurd. And kind of admirable.

Question: I am sure there are some who suspect Corrie of anti-Semitism. . .did you ever detect any trace of anti-Semitism in her?

Josh Simmons: Anti-semitism? Of course not, that's fucking ridiculous, just the sort of spin the media might put on it. I've read enough about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to see for myself why it's depicted certain ways and who it benefits to put it that way. I've read the Sacco comics, and I read an article in Reader's Digest recently wherein the Palestinians are depicted purely as the "enemy", the "other", "terrorists", with no agenda other than that they hate freedom and freedom-loving peoples, or some such other Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader fairy tale like the chimp who "runs" our country would have us believe.

Question: Corrie is mocked by some as naive, a stooge of terrorists. . .others revere her as a heroic, even saintly defender of the weak and oppressed. . .from what you know of Corrie, do you find one of these extreme views to be closer to the truth than the other?

Josh Simmons: The two extremes you mention, Rachel as a stooge of terrorists, and as a heroic defender of the weak and oppressed, both seem pretty far off to me....She was just a girl who had some ideas about how she felt people should be treated, and did her best to bring that about in the world. She came from something of a position of privilege, where she had the luxury to do that, but that beats acting completely selfish and disgusting, as people are wont to do, wouldn't you say?

Question: How did the news of her death affect you?

Josh Simmons: I learned of her death when a mutual friend's mother called to tell me, just completely in tears and broken up....at first I didn't know which Rachel she meant, I was sort of confused and had just woken up, so the whole thing was just pretty unpleasant. Of course I was pretty upset by it, but to be honest I hadn't spent too much time with the girl since I'd lived in Oly 5 or 6 years previous. We'd kept in touch though, and I'd see her maybe once a year or two, and had spent a week or so with her the summer of 2002. It was hard, but there was some distance there......

Thanks to Josh Simmons for putting a human face on the martyr Rachel Corrie. . .from Josh's words, we see a Rachel Corrie who obviously enjoyed life, had youthful exuberance. . .maybe an American wild child. . .yet she had the ability to empathize. . .as Josh wrote:

She was just a girl who had some ideas about how she felt people should be treated, and did her best to bring that about in the world. She came from something of a position of privilege, where she had the luxury to do that, but that beats acting completely selfish and disgusting, as people are wont to do, wouldn't you say?

Yes, I would say so. . .and let Josh’s words serve as a reminder, at least to the few who will stop and read, that this girl (not an angel, nor an example of perfection, but a flawed human being), used non-violent tactics to try to help those less fortunate than herself. . .and that, even though her charity was likely as imperfect as herself, she deserves to be remembered kindly for her noble ambitions. . .and not as garbage fit only for contempt.

To learn more about Josh Simmons, go here:

10 March 2009

Your House Is Left Unto You Desolate!

AP, 4 March 2009: Cardinal Roger Mahony on Tuesday took the unusual step of banning Holocaust-denying British Bishop Richard Williamson from any Roman Catholic church, school or other facility in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. "Holocaust deniers like Williamson will find no sympathetic ear or place of refuge in the Catholic Church, of which he is not — and may never become — a member," said a commentary signed jointly by Mahony, head of the nation's largest archdiocese, and two officials of the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, U.S. director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, and Seth Brysk, the committee's Los Angeles executive director.

"The cardinal wishes to send a clear signal to the Jewish community that Williamson is not a member or even welcome in the Catholic Church until he renounces his views," said Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese. "The cardinal also wanted to signal that he is in full agreement with the Vatican that Williamson must apologize for and distance himself from his views," he added.

Mahony's measure is the latest repudiation of Williamson since January, when the Vatican announced that his excommunication was being lifted. That same day, Swedish television aired a previously taped interview in which Williamson denied that gas chambers existed and said that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews, not 6 million, perished in Nazi concentration camps. The ensuing outrage caused Pope Benedict XVI to suspend lifting the excommunication, saying Williamson could only be reconciled with the church if he publicly retracts and apologizes for his Holocaust denial.

Williamson, who is one of four excommunicated members of an ultra-traditionalist Catholic group, the Society of St. Pius X, apologized for offending people, but did not indicate that he had changed his views.

The ban resulted from Mahony's meeting two weeks ago with Greenebaum and Brysk. Greenebaum said he requested the meeting to discuss the Vatican's flip-flopping position on Williamson. The cardinal took him aback by suggesting the ban, Greenebaum said. "It took me by surprise a little bit," he said. "It's a very strong, very welcome statement."

Religion experts said Mahony's ban is largely symbolic, but believed to be unprecedented. "I don't know how it would be enforced," said Philip A. Cunningham, director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "But having positive relations with the Jewish community is important to the cardinal."

Mahony said he plans to visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem this year.

This is an amazing statement:

The cardinal wishes to send a clear signal to the Jewish community that Williamson is not a member or even welcome in the Catholic Church until he renounces his views. . .

Who understands the significance?

The SILENCE with which the visible church greeted this announcement must surely grieve the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

But who is the heretick? Bishop Williamson? Or Roger Mahony?

Bishop Williamson does not deny the virgin birth of our Lord and Savior. Bishop Williamson does not deny the divinity of our Lord and Savior. There is no evidence Bishop Williamson denies any doctrine of the faith of Christ contained in the apostle’s creed.

On what basis then does Roger Mahony deny Bishop Williamson membership in the Church?

Roger Mahony declares Bishop Williamson is a *holocaust denier!*

Bishop Williamson has no faith six millions Jews died in Nazi concentration camps and he has no faith in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Therefore, declares Roger Mahony, Bishop Williamson is outside the Church of Christ.

Who understands the significance?

Roger Mahony, head of America’s largest archdiocese, has just elevated the holocaust to Co-Redeemer, equal to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet if one reads Romans 10:9 – 10, no mention of the holocaust is found:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Even if one believes Bishop Williamson’s questioning of the holocaust is a sin, only one sin disqualifies from the faith:

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Thus spoke the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord and Savior said you could even speak a word against Him, and it could be forgiven. . .

But Roger Mahony says to speak against the authorized version of the holocaust cannot be forgiven. Roger Mahony says Bishop Williamson is no longer a member of the Church of Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ said:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and my Father are one.

The Heavenly Father gave Bishop Williamson to Christ, yet Roger Mahony claims the power to pluck him out of Christ’s hand.

Who is the heretick?

Roger Mahony elevates the holocaust to Co-Redeemer and requires faith in it for entrance into the Church of Christ.

This, to understate the case, is a new gospel.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Roger Mahony would do well to carefully consider the above.

It would seem, at worst, Bishop Williamson, on the matter of the holocaust, is a kook. His great public sin is to question the number of Jews killed at the hands of the Nazis, and to doubt the existence of the Auschwitz gas chambers. Yes, this is offensive to Jews, and for this, Bishop Williamson ought to apologize, based on a charitable interpretation of the teaching in Romans 14. And, in point of fact, as the above article mentions, Bishop Williamson HAS apologized.

But what say you? Which is the greater sin? Bishop Williamson offending the Jews? Or a priest raping a Christian child? And let us not misunderstand. I do not believe any sin other than blaspheming the Holy Spirit invalidates the faith of Christ. But we ask this question to try to better comprehend Roger Mahony’s strange new gospel.

Our Lord Jesus Christ stated:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

As the head of the diocese of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony protected the pedophile priest Oliver O’Grady, as is detailed in the documentary film Deliver Us From Evil.

It is interesting to consider that Roger Mahony claims the authority to remove Bishop Williamson from Christ’s Hand over the matter of politically incorrect statements, but not only saw no need to remove Oliver O’Grady, he did not even see the need to keep O’Grady from having contact with Christ’s faithful little ones.

Do not misunderstand, I do not believe O’Grady should be removed from the Church. If He truly is covered by the blood of Christ, that blood covers all, including child molestation. But I bring up O’Grady to highlight Roger Mahony’s curious weighing of sins.

Is it possible Roger Mahony, stung by the world’s criticism of his handling of O’Grady case, now wants to try to score some cheap public relations points at the expense of Bishop Williamson?

For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. . .

Make note, Roger Mahony published his new gospel in collaboration with two anti-Christs:

Rabbi Gary Greenebaum & Seth Brysk.

The world will praise Roger Mahony’s new gospel as *tolerant,* when, in truth, it is intolerant. By appearing to not tolerate supposed *anti-semitism,* Mahony’s new gospel will be judged as tolerant, since it’s chief concern is to accommodate those outside the faith of Christ.

With his courting of public opinion, Roger Mahony resembles the scribes and Pharisees of Christ’s day:

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

We can be certain Roger Mahony will be warmly greeted at his planned visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The church ought to be outraged Roger Mahony claims authority to remove Bishop Williamson from the church, and the church also ought to be outraged that Mahony wrote his new church regulations with two men who stand outside the church and who deny the blood of Christ.

Roger Mahony gives the keys to the Church to two men who consider Jesus Christ a false prophet. . .

And the visible church stands SILENT. . .

It ought to be evident to the church that Roger Mahony is the heretic, not Bishop Williamson.

Bishop Williamson will endure his trial. . .Christ will bring him through.

It may appear to the uninitiated that Bishop Williamson’s sin has found him out. . .but is it not more the case God has used Bishop Williamson to find out the sin of the church? In particular, the Catholic church?

The *logic* of Pope Benedict XVI’s double-minded dealing with Bishop Williamson reminds of the high priest Caiaphas, who deduced thusly about Christ:

Consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. . .

If the Catholic church continues to betray the faithful to gain favor with the world, her end shall be the same as Jerusalem’s:

Behold! Your house is left unto you desolate!