Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway's Tragedy: Hatred of Muslims Turns into Violence

A day and a half ago (July 22), a young, photogenic citizen of Norway carried out two gruesome attacks against his fellow Norwegians.  Roughly ninety-three people were killed, a great many of them teenagers.  The suspect police arrested is Anders Behring Breivik.

It could turn out that Breivik's massacre is the product of untreated mental illness, not so different from the case of Jared Loughner, who went on the attack in Tuscon in January, killing several people and severely wounding Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.  At the moment, however, it appears that Breivik had very warped political motives--a terrorist more like Timothy McVeigh than Loughner.

What were Breivik's motives?  Evidently, he hates Muslims.  He lumps Muslims together as a danger.  All Muslims.  Breivik was hoping to start a cultural revolution and turn Norweignans against Muslims.  He wanted to call his fellow citizens to arms against Muslims.  The people he killed were not Muslims (not as far as I know), but he evidently fed himself a diet of anti-Muslim propaganda, and then he went out to murder lots and lots of folks.  Bigotry that is shared openly is an attempt, in effect, to teach one's listeners to hate those who are deemed the dangerous "other."  Hatred often boils over and leads to violence.  No big surprise there.

Those who try to gin up hatred of Muslims in various corners of the world -- including, of course, even the occasional Catholic bishop -- should join the rest of us in saying prayers for the victims of the violence in Norway.  And then they should pray some more and repent of the hatred they are helping to spread.  For hatred always has tragic consequences, and Anders Behring Breivik would seem to be one of those consequences.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Say an Ave for Amy Winehouse

Sad news from London:  Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her home.  Only twenty-seven years old.  Great talent, wonderful voice, soulful tunes.  A tortured soul, from most accounts.  This particular song is sad in its irony--and, I can't deny it, as catchy as all get out.

If you have a moment, say a Hail Mary for Amy Winehouse as well as those who are still struggling with addictions.  May she rest in peace; may she find her true home in God's loving arms.  May we all, each of us, find our true home in God's loving arms.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Praying for Heat Relief...and Finally, Doing Something About It

It's been unbearably hot (humid and hot, as in blast-oven hot) here in the Midwest.  One hundred degrees before they even look at the heat index.

In our prayers during these hot days and nights, my son and I sometimes remember to pray for those who do not have air conditioning.  We do have air conditioning.  We are comfortable.  It's all too easy, once we've been inside the house for a few hours, to forget what it must feel like in other people's homes.

Just decided we need to add action to our prayers this weekend.  Need to buy a couple fans and donate them.  Should have done that way back in June.  Should have been doing that for the last several summers, actually.  All those summers I could have done that and did not -- that's what you call a sin of omission.  I'm guilty of plenty of sins of omission.

Most towns or counties have food pantries -- sometimes multiple food pantries (the community one, plus multiple church-run pantries).  I would be interested to hear:  What, if anything, does your local faith community or civic organization do to help the poor, the aged, the vulnerable to cope with extreme weather, especially the type of heat that kills?  Is this a neglected ministry?  Or is help readily available for the folks who need it?