Support Our Sponsors
www.EileenFleming.org

 

www.TheArabDailyNews.com

RSS Feed Now Available!
WAWA Daily Blog
Our Mission
WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

We who Are Wide Awake are compelled by the "fierce urgency of Now" [Rev MLK, Jr.] to raise awareness and promote the human dialogue about many of the crucial issues of our day: the state of our Union and in protection of democracy, what life is like under military occupation in Palestine, the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, and spirituality-from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV.

Contact Eileen Fleming:


Click here to contact
Eileen Fleming:


Eileen Fleming on YouTube

CUFI Conference

John Hagee Zionists
John Hagee CUFI
conference in Miami
Photo courtesy of a.e.

The Walls of Berlin and Bil'in
Abir Aramin Dead at 10
WAWA Photo Gallery
Eileen Fleming - We Are Wide Awake
Click here to view the
WAWA photo gallery

Photos of Israel Palestine
courtesy of Meir Vanunu,
Copyright 2007-08.

Photos of the Siege
courtesy of Guss,
Copyright 2008.

 


Garth Hewitt - From The Brokern Heart Of Gaza
Garth Hewitt:
From the Broken Heart
Of Gaza

FACTS ABOUT THE WALL from friends in Bethlehem

Read the truth about the Wall and what is happening today in the Holy City of Bethlehem.

Read more...


Eileen Fleming's Biography
                
Read more...


"We're on a mission from God."
The Blues Brothers

"Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all...and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave...a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."
George Washington's Farewell Address - 1796

"My aim is to agitate & disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast."
Unamuno


"Imagine All the People Sharing All the World."
John Lennon

"If enough Christians followed the gospel, they could bring any state to its knees." 
Father Philip Francis Berrigan 

"You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down."
Tom Petty

"If I can't dance, it's not my revolution."
Emma Goldman

"We have yet to begin to IMAGINE the power and potential of the Internet."
Charlie Rose, 2005

Only in Solidarity do "We have it in our power to begin the world again"
Tom Paine

"Never doubt that a few, thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 
Margaret Mead

"You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."
John 8:32

DO SOMETHING!

 
Photo of George shown here
and in web site banner
courtesy of Debbie Hill, 2000.
 


DO SOMETHING!
Click Here
Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

Home arrow Blog arrow March 2010 arrow March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010
March 19, 2010: My Third and First Books

I will be taking an LOA from WeAreWideAwake to work on my third book. Until I return, I leave you with an excerpt from my first, KEEP HOPE ALIVE.

Only a few of the characters within KEEP HOPE ALIVE are fictional- but everything they say is true-and almost everything actually happened.

Chapter 1: KEEP HOPE ALIVE: THE MORNING AFTER APRIL 4, 1968


Mary woke at dawn and re-entered the living room for the first time since she had said goodnight the night before. She was not surprised to see Khaled sprawled out in his recliner or Riad at peace on the sofa. But she was dismayed to see Art curled in fetal position on the black and white checkered tile at the front door.

She gently stepped over him into the red and white kitchen as the morning sun broke through the garden window. The sun illuminated the cherry-blonde slab stump of an ancient olive tree that had been hewn into a kitchen table and received as a wedding gift from family and friends, who lived in Khaled’s hometown, the village of Majd Al Krum, in Upper Galilee. Even on the most frigid morning, Mary felt warmed by the high-gloss patina of the tabletop, but held more dear the signatures and marks from the entire town etched underneath.

Mary silently performed the morning ritual of brewing the first of many pots of Turkish coffee for the day, gratefully inhaled the piquant aroma, and then quickly exited up the back staircase to the bedrooms to wake her daughter for school. When Mary returned to her kitchen after escorting Ahmeena to her third grade classroom, she was not surprised to find Khaled and Riad at the table, downing a second pot of the Turkish brew.

“Please, Mary, don’t say a word. I drank too much, and now I am paying the price.”

“Khaled, the pain in your face brings me to tears; you are clearly suffering. I will not add to your misery. But you, Riad--you look buoyant. What’s your secret?”


Riad chuckled. “Tolerance.”

Mary marveled at how his gleaming pate radiated the sun’s rejection through the garden window that showcased a pendulous purple wisteria and bird bath, where blue jays had immediately gathered to eat the seed she had just put out.

At that moment, Art stumbled into the room, banging his shoulder against the wall and hip into the butcher-block counter. “Oiy! Sylvia is going to fry me! I thought I’d be back at her sister’s by noon, but that bad news about Martin Luther King, Jr., hit us all like a left to the liver! I thought last night would be only good reminiscing, but reality intruded. Hmm, Thanks, Mary, I need this brew.” He nodded and gratefully downed the pungent coffee that Mary had just set before him.

“So, who wants breakfast?”

“Just toast, Mary, my love,” Khaled whimpered weakly.

“Same for me.” Riad beamed, and Mary thought how grateful she was to know him.

Art whispered, “Have you any Mylanta, Mary?”


Mary suppressed a smile as she turned to retrieve it, when the unmistakable seven knock's of Ahmad was heard at the front door.

“Namaste!” Ahmad bellowed as he opened the red door, reminding Mary of a Cheshire cat without any guile at all.

Riad replied, with a beatific smile, “The God in me salutes the God in you, too.”

“Art, Khaled, look what I found in the gutter.” Ahmad nudged a redheaded muscular youth forward as hard as he could.

“Why, Jack Hunt, I haven’t seen you in weeks; come in, dear.” Mary was always happy to see any of the eleven Hunt children who lived next door.

Khaled stood to welcome his neighbor and asked, “Jack, why aren’t you in class this morning?”

“Well, I didn’t know until I showed up that poli-sci and humanities were both canceled. Both professors are heading to King’s funeral. They both marched with him in 1964. I am free until three, when I have football practice. I was just getting out of the car and hoping to catch up on some sleep, when Ahmad accosted me and dragged me in here.”

Riad stood with his palms together and slightly bowed. “Welcome, Jack. I’m Riad, and the poor fellow to my right is Art.”

“Oh man, Art, you look like shit! I hope it’s not contagious.”

“Shut up and sit,” Art growled.

“Ahmad, we expected you for dinner last night. I made your favorite— roasted lamb.”

“Oh, so sorry to have missed you all, but after I left Khaled’s going-away party at Westinghouse, I worked through the night. In fact, I have not eaten since the goodbye brunch yesterday; I could use some lamb right now.”

Mary turned swiftly and began emptying the refrigerator. While Art moaned, she asked, “Please, Ahmad, I have not heard a word about the going-away party; fill me in.”

Ahmad grinned and nodded. “Well, the best part was at the very end, when Khaled stood at the microphone and spoke with tears in his eyes to the two hundred people who had gathered to say goodbye. He held us spellbound with his words: ‘My dear friends, I am overwhelmed by this turnout. I have been blessed. I will miss you all very much. Thank you for the kind words, the gifts, the memories, and all your good work. I also want to leave a remembrance with one of you.’


“And it was I, Ahmad, who held the fish bowl filled to capacity with everyone’s signatures that Khaled reached his hand into and then pulled out a paper scrap, unfolded it, and called out, ‘Oh, Bubbles McGrath! You have won. Come up here and receive your gift!’ Now, Bubbles is a short, plump blonde, who jumped up like a toad and screamed, ‘Oh my gosh! I have never won anything!’ She literally bounced her way to where Khaled and I stood, but I quickly got out of the way, as the man of the hour held out a festively wrapped box like a shield to protect himself from the force of the rushing Bubbles McGrath. Blubbles flung her arms around Khaled and kissed him on the mouth, then blurted out, ‘Oh, thank you, Khaled, I am so excited!’ It was incredible, how she tore the box open like a child at Christmas, and when her face beheld the treasure inside, her lower lip quivered, and she quietly whispered, ‘Thanks.’ Then she held out the gunmetal gray snow shovel, and the room roared!”

Mary had noticed Jack was oblivious to Ahmad’s tale. As he stared out the garden window, she intuited he was worried about his sister Bonnie, a WAC nurse in Vietnam, and his brother Kevin, who was in the Navy. While the men were still chuckling over Ahmad’s tale, Jack startled them all as his words rushed out. “My professor told me that he marched with King because, even though he himself was an atheist, he felt in community with the diversity of people of faith who had come together with one voice demanding justice. He said King had a power to make you believe you were connected to every other person in the crowd as if they were a sister or a brother.”

A heavy, pregnant silence filled the room, and Mary held her breath until Jack turned toward her, his eyes like blazing emeralds, and with a sardonic smile, remarked, “Being stuck in the middle of ten others, I have no desire for any more sisters or bothers.” Then, with a sigh deeper and more meaningful than any words and with overcast eyes brimming with tears, he softly murmured, “I will be sorry when you Diabs depart for sunny Florida. I always appreciated you letting me use your library, Dr. D.”

Mary turned as her own tears fell, and Khaled mumbled, as he choked back his own, “We will all miss you, too, Jack, but we have a few weeks left before we will part. Let’s have some coffee now!”

Riad beckoned Jack to sit at his right side, but Jack shook his head. “Ah, that’s ok. Really, I have got to go. Practice is at three o’clock, and I only came back home to get some sleep.”

Khaled implored, “Jack, please, sit and visit. Mary, where is his coffee? Besides, Riad has some fantastic tale we never got to hear last night, and now is the time. Riad, the floor is yours.”

Jack remained unmoved as Riad queried, “Have you heard the tale of the Bedouin named Mohammed Ali? No? How about the Nag´ Hammâdi library? Hmmm, do you know I am a master of ancient civilizations, and I speak Greek and Hebrew fluently? Jack, you are an open book and I see you are not at all impressed. May I ask you, have you heard of UNESCO?”


Jack barely suppressed a smirk as he sat down in one of the seven eclectic chairs that hugged the sides of the enormous olivewood table and indulgently uttered, “United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.”

“Correct, but I’ll get to that later. For the story I want to tell you all, dates back to antiquity. But I will begin in 1945, in Egypt, in the land just above the bend of the Nile, north of the Valley of the Kings, across the river from the city of Nag´ Hammâdi, near the hamlet of al-Qasr, under a cliff called Jabal al-Tarif. An Egyptian Bedouin named Mohammed Ali was out gathering sabakh, a nitrate-rich fertilizer for the crops that he grew in the small hamlet of al-Qasr. He was aghast to stumble upon a skeleton as he dug, and bewildered when he uncovered a two-foot high earthenware jar. A bowl had been placed over the top, and it was sealed with bitumen. At first, the Bedouin thought an evil genie was within, but when he shook the heavy jar, he heard things moving and thought it might be gold. He smashed the jar open and out fluttered pieces of gold particles that he tried to catch, but they disappeared. When he peered into the jar, he was dismayed to find twelve leather-bound books. Mohammed Ali was illiterate, so he placed no great value on books, but was confident he could sell them and make something for his troubles. So he carried the jar filled with books back to the homestead.

“Now, Mohammed Ali also happened to be a fugitive from the law, for he had wielded the weapon that spilled the blood of a patriarch during a violent incident in a generation-long family feud, not so very long before. After a few days of mulling over possibilities, he decided to give his find to the local Coptic priest for safekeeping. You see, he feared the authorities soon would be lurking about and would confiscate his possession before he could receive any money for it.

“His mother ripped out many pages to keep the home fire going, and I grieve and wonder what ancient treasures she burned. Anyway, the priest passed it on to his brother-in-law, a traveling tutor, who brought the books to the Coptic museum in Cairo on October 4, 1946.

“I happened to be the assistant to the director of the antiquities department at that time, and our department was immediately summoned to inspect them. What we found were ancient compositions, written in Coptic that had been translated from ancient Greek. The volumes were leather-bound pages of papyrus, and no doubt the gold dust that Mohammed Ali witnessed was from papyrus fragments that had broken off. For the past twenty years, under the leadership of UNESCO, Egypt, and the American scholar James Robinson, these anthologies and collections of texts with titles like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene have now been translated into many languages.”

Jack’s emerald orbs glinted as he quietly asked, “So?”

“Well, I believe when this knowledge has been disseminated by seekers of God, it will prove to be a revolutionary find. You see, the texts date back to the early days of Christianity. The most likely source for these books was the Pachomius Monastery, which thrived for centuries just three miles from the burial site. I believe a monk buried these books in the wilderness under the cliff of Jabl al-Tarif for safe-keeping.”

“But why would a monk hide some books? What for?” Jack sipped his second cup of coffee as he kept his eyes riveted on Riad.

“Well Jack, two thousand years ago, there were many different understandings of Jesus among Christians. Now, thanks to the treasures of Nag´ Hammâdi, we know how rich and diverse those understandings were. These texts had been deemed heretical by those who were gaining power through the political arena. Surely you know about Emperor Constantine?”

“Of course, he lived in the fourth century, didn’t he? Wasn’t he a pagan warrior who became the first Christian ruler, but waited until he was on his deathbed before being baptized?”

“Yes and the most decisive event in the history of Christendom occurred when Emperor Constantine accepted the Christian faith, for those who had once been persecuted were now protected by an earthly king. Both a patriarchal monarchical state and church were formed at the same time. Power struggles and debates were common among the early Christians. Individual churches determined which texts were read, and they all had their favorites. Constantine sought to unite his empire, and uniting the church was a savvy political move. He announced he would pay for fifty illuminated copies of scripture to be bound, and thus the biblical canon was established and sealed. There was fierce debate among the bishops about what should be included and what left out.

“The proto-orthodox, who had now become the dominant voice, determined what was heretical for everyone. The proto-orthodox demanded much-loved scripture to be burned, usually because it did not fit their understanding of God. No doubt, what was found at Nag´ Hammâdi is thanks to an unknown monk who lived a few miles away in the Pachomius Monastery. If the authorities had found out about him, these texts and that monk would both have burned!”

 “But why were the books deemed heretical? Why were they suppressed? What was the establishment afraid of?” Jack’s eyes remained riveted on Riad.

“Well Jack, many of these texts were considered Gnostic. Gnosis is defined as knowledge discerned institutively. Gnostic texts offer deep mystery that is discerned via intuition, not rational thought. This is not the way for fundamentalists. A Gnostic is open to receiving intuitive knowledge of deep spiritual truth. For students of the New Testament, this is a much greater find than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Forty of the texts had previously been unknown to modern scholars. Thirty-five scholars have been working diligently on these translations, and we all agree that the bound books themselves date back to the fourth century and were written in Coptic translated from Greek and Aramaic. The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of the sayings of Jesus, words of wisdom, proverbs, parables, and some very confounding mysteries. About 35 of the 114 sayings have no counterpart in the New Testament, while at least 20 are almost identical, and 54 have similarities. Many scholars concur that the sayings were originally written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus and his followers. It is very possible the sayings are closer to the words Jesus actually spoke than what is found in the canonical gospels.”

“I am still not clear about why there was so much censorship. If the people were talking about Jesus and what he said, that seems better than not talking about him at all.”

“Agreed, and two thousand years ago, there was lively debate about who Jesus was, and why he came. Jack, you do understand that history is always written by the winners, right?”

“Of course I know that! And now, I suppose you will tell me all about the losers?”

“Well, the proto-orthodox, who were the majority, considered these texts anathema. Texts were deemed heretical for many reasons, and usually it was because they did not fit neatly into the evolving dogma. Gnostic texts offer us mystery, not answers. For centuries, all we had to reconstruct Gnostic beliefs were the hostile accounts against them given by Irenaus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, and other church fathers who disagreed with the Gnostic understanding.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t do church anymore, but my sister Maureen is a nun, and my brother Mike is a priest. I wonder what they would think of all this stuff. Might tick them off, is my guess.”

“Now Jack, we must be kind to the early church fathers; they were flawed like all of humanity, but they did the best they could. We are all guided by the inner light and by how much light we have opened up to receive. The gifts of Nag´ Hammâdi present us with a very diverse Christianity, indeed.

“One of my favorites is the Gospel of Thomas. These pithy sayings of Jesus are meant to be heard and chewed upon. Consider sayings three and five: ‘The kingdom is inside you, and it is outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living father,’1 and ‘Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.’”2

“Hey, that reminds me of ‘seek and you will find,’ and ‘knock and the door will open.’

“Yes, you see the connection. And in Thomas, sayings ninety-two and ninety-four, Jesus says exactly that. But in saying two, Jesus speaks: ‘Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one finds. When one finds, one will be troubled. When one is troubled, one will marvel…’”3

Jack interrupted with “Wait, I still do not get what was the big deal. Why did the authorities want these books trashed?”

“Jack, did you know that the Gospel of Mark was written first, in about 70 CE? Then Matthew and Luke followed in 85 CE, and the very different sounding Gospel of John appeared just before the turn of the first century. The Gospel of Thomas was written down as early as the middle of the first century, and no later than the middle of the second.”

Jack interrupted. “You mean it may have been written even before the Gospel of John?”

“Exactly, and that is why I wonder if the author of John was debating many of Jesus’ sayings quoted by the author of Thomas. In particular, I was struck by the fact that Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-29, and Luke 12:10 are nearly identical to Thomas saying forty-four, ‘Jesus said, “Whoever blasphemes against the father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either on earth or in heaven.’4 The writer of John completely left this quote from Jesus out. What do you think about that, Jack?”

“Well, it sounds like Jesus is just alright with whatever you think or say about him, but the Holy Spirit--that’s God within. It sounds like Jesus is saying it’s not so much what we think or say about him, but how we treat one another and ourselves.”

 “Spoken well!” Ahmad grinned as he continued, “If I may share a moment, there is the Hindu way to God through love, and it is the very path that Jesus taught about. In fact, I think Christianity is one great brilliantly-lit highway to God! The Hindu discipline I follow is called bhajti yoga. What is required upon this path is loving God first, with no ulterior motives; not even a desire to be loved back. All day, as I do my work, I do it for God. I am in love with God, and that fills me with a love for all men and all creation. Love God first, and everything else falls into place, I say.”

Jack had become excited. “You just made me remember what Mike wrote to me, after he heard Thomas Merton speak at what became his last peace rally, before he was electrocuted in a freak accident and died. My brother was standing next to this nun who accosted Merton after his speech and demanded, ‘Why didn’t you mention Christ in your speech?’ Merton replied, ‘What we are asked to do at present is not so much to speak of Christ as to let him live in us, so that people may find him by feeling how he lives in us.’5 Mike wrote that after overhearing that encounter, he quit giving his parishioners the usual list of prayers to say for penance. Instead, he told them not to mention Jesus by name for a week, but to keep Jesus foremost in their minds and hearts.”

Riad beamed. “Jack, your brother is a wise man to think of such a just penance for Christians who may forget the other names for Jesus, like Emmanuel, meaning ‘God is with us,’ and the Prince of Peace. And Martin Luther King, Jr., walked in his footsteps; I hope we never forget his message of justice and equality for all humanity.”

Khaled met Art’s eyes and gently spoke. “You know, Martin Luther King is foremost the voice for the Negro, but he also speaks for all who seek justice. He said, ‘We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time for justice; now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to lift our nation from injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.’”6

Art stabbed out his cigarette and injected, “Yeah, and do you know what Reverend King said just a few weeks ago? He said, ‘Peace for Israel means security, and we stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.’”7

Khaled nearly blubbered, “Reality? The reality is that Israel’s democracy does not extend to Palestinians, whose families have lived there for centuries! Martin Luther King also spoke about not ‘being satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’8 Reverend King also spoke about his people’s great trials, tribulations, and creative suffering. He spoke about injustice, but offered such hope for change, because the American dream is that all men are created equal. This is also the Palestinian dream. Reverend King spoke of his dream, and I, too, have a dream, that underneath the shade of olive trees, the descendants of Abraham will one day sit down at the table of brotherhood.”

Art lit another cigarette as he added, “My rabbi always says, ‘If we would all just do like Micah told, we’d be alright. Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’”9

Khaled erupted. “I wonder if Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol ever read Micah. I read that when he was told by his generals that the IDF was the greatest army since King David, he became ecstatic! I cannot understand why the American government is ignoring the situation in my homeland, when, in 1956, the US demanded Israel withdraw from the Sinai Desert back to the international border after only three months. The Six Day War was a year ago, and no such demands were made.

"They have turned a blind eye to the destruction of Palestinian towns, and I cannot believe America has not stood up to the Israelis. Not a word of condemnation about the massive building projects in the West Bank, Sinai, Eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights! Not a word that Palestinians are still living in refugee camps, and their homes and olive groves have been plowed over!

"Why doesn’t America demand equally just treatment for Palestinians, too? Yes, yes, yes, America is focused on Vietnam. Now we mourn Martin Luther King in America, and I mourn the lack of justice in my homeland.”

Art violently snuffed out his cigarette and boomed, “Look, the situation is untenable. We got nowhere discussing this last night, and you cannot forget what my people, my very family, suffered beyond belief from the Nazis! You cannot compare the two! Then, we must endure the inflammatory rhetoric to ‘push the Jews into the sea!’ Why, of course we believed another Holocaust was about to happen. How can you blame us after all we have suffered while the world remained mute? Nobody spoke out to protect us when the Nazis were exterminating us in ovens. My God! How can you blame us for attacking first? Anyone would have, if they had suffered as my people have. How can you blame us for attacking first?”

Khaled kindly replied, “Of course, we all deeply regret the atrocities that were inflicted upon the Jewish people. But that pain should not be used as a reason to inflict pain on others.”

Riad shook his head, removed his thick-lens, thin wire-rimmed spectacles and rubbed his myopic eyes. “Yes, we all agree and we must be sensitive to the suffering the Jewish people have endured throughout history. I was in Egypt when the UN forces stationed on the Egyptian-Israeli border left, and what happened next? The Egyptians blockaded the Straits of Tiran and cut off Israeli shipping access to the Port of Eliat. Such infantile behavior from world leaders! It’s always about control and keeping power. If I were Irish, it would certainly get my Irish up!”

Jack and Riad shared a smile as Art erupted. “Yes, Khaled, it is true that just a few weeks after that blockade, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq signed a mutual defense agreement designed to facilitate a combined attack on Israel. They want to obliterate Israel! You see, Khaled, Israel had no choice but to attack first!”

Khaled was miserable. “I read that President Johnson was asked to intervene, but I am sad. Vietnam preoccupies this country. I am sad about many things. It was only seven years ago in his farewell address that President Eisenhower warned the American people to beware of the military-industrial complex. He warned us of the danger of becoming dependent on the manufacturing of weapons to stimulate our economy. It was a year ago that Martin Luther King warned us that ‘any nation, who, year after year, spends more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.’10 What I see going on in the world is that everyone seems to believe that stockpiling weapons will ensure peace and provide many jobs. This is false security, and sows the seeds that war is the way to peace.”

Riad rubbed his gleaming dome and looked directly at Art. “The Jewish people have been threatened throughout their entire history. It is understandable they are paranoid. It is justified! But, that does not justify them treating others unjustly. The Israeli nation is surrounded by refugee camps--refugee camps filled with indigenous Palestinians who were forced off their land by threat of their own holocaust. Poor leadership on all sides brings us to this place in time. The horrors and injustice of the Holocaust are still fresh in Jewish minds. It should remain fresh within all our minds. We should never forget the injustice of the Holocaust. We should never forget that man’s inhumanity to man was able to proliferate because good people did nothing. The nations of the world turned a blind eye to the pain and injustice the Jewish people suffered until too many had died. Now, the Palestinians are being ignored by the world and are fighting back in ways that will not help their cause. Injustice must always be confronted and be withstood by peaceful means. When will this be understood?”

“Get real, Riad. The PLO wants to wipe us out! But God is on our side. After all, we won the war in only six days! The Arab nations received a left to the liver by Israeli’s pre-emptive strike, and now we control the Sinai, Gaza Strip, Suez Canal in Egypt, West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The entire city of Jerusalem is under Israeli control! Surely you see the hand of God in this?”

Khaled was steaming, while Riad gently spoke. “I know you do, Art, but I see a different side. Superior military force, and the fact that Israel was supplied with American intelligence and knew exactly where to strike, won it. Eighteen thousand Arab soldiers died, and Palestinian refugees continue to be ignored. By her silence, America has legitimized the Israeli victory, and I fear ahead of us will be more injustice, death, and destruction. Last December, George Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It is a terrorist organization inspired by communism. Each side ups the ante with more death and destruction. When will it ever be enough?”

Art sighed deeply and offered, “You are right, Riad; when will it be enough? The Torah teaches that everyone is a part of God and created in the divine image. We can even agree with Jesus that the greatest command is that we love God with our whole hearts, souls, minds, and strength. I suppose, if everyone did that, it would be a perfect world. You know I love you, man, but I have got to hit the road. Sylvia and I are flying back home to Iowa City tonight, but we will definitely see you soon in sunny Florida.”



While Khaled and Mary escorted Art to his car, Jack turned to Riad and enquired, “What religion are you?”

Riad smiled cryptically as he sighed, “Child, I am a student of all; my mind is open to the wisdom of every tradition, and I am still exploring. May I ask you, Jack, if you agree that we are all flawed, imperfect beings? Do you believe we all come from the same source, and we will return to that source when this journey is through? Can you entertain the thought that this life just might, in fact, be a dress rehearsal for the next? Do you agree that we all hear the message of the good news, limited by our own spiritual, intellectual, and psychological capacities?”

Jack’s eyes had become more dazzling than emeralds, and Riad laughed from his gut. “Jack, I must be careful with you. It is with patience we are to run the race set before us. Hmmm, I sense you would like to hear about the stages of the soul, no?”

“Riad, you are some kind of strange, but please, go on.”

Riad sweetly intoned, “Ah, Jack, I will not argue with you, and I joyfully share with you that the spiritual journey is fluid, not static. One may pass back and forth through any of the four, and maybe more, stages of the soul in one’s journey.11  Stage one is essentially our infancy in the spiritual life. Like a wild child, a person in this stage reflects the inner chaotic and anti-social, unregenerate soul that is interested only in its own self-satisfaction and ego. Stage one people may claim to love others, but their behavior proves that they love their own pleasure, money, power, prestige, and security above any other. For stage one people, it really is all about them.

“The good news is that God is already within us, so the vast majority of humanity responds to that inner tug and seeks God, entering stage two. These folks live virtuous lives and do many good works. They also can be rigid, fundamental, and legalistic. They adhere to a higher human authority than themselves for guidance. They submit to institutions, scripture, dogma, ritual, ministers, or gurus. This is the most appropriate stage for older children and most adults. A difference between stages one and two is that a stage one person wouldn’t even notice a neighbor in need, while a stage two person has awoken to the fact that we are to be our neighbors’ keepers.

“Now, stage three souls have awakened to the realization that one’s neighbor is everyone on the planet, and not just those who think and look alike. Stages threes are seekers, doubters, skeptics, and may even become atheists or agnostics. They will study philosophy and other religions, and often become activists for social justice and reform.

“Then there is stage four, which is the way of the mystic. A mystic can be understood as one in love with the divine mystery, and one who is aware of the unity of all creation. They have gone beyond their concepts of God to an intuitive comprehension of the divine in all creation. They are awake to the action of God within themselves and others. Saint Francis, the leper kisser of Assisi, was a mystic--head over heels in love with God, in everyone and all creation. Many thought him nuts, or at least, eccentric. The mystic realizes the connections and unity of all beings, places, situations, past, present, and future. This person has traveled beyond their concept of God, not by personal effort, but in response to the invitation of the Mystery we call God, for lack of a better word.

“Now, Jack, you have a very wild look in your eyes; I hope I have not disturbed you too much. Please, understand that it would be violence upon a soul to rush the work of God. A stage one or two should remain that way until God beckons them on.”

Mary and Khaled had returned to the kitchen just as Jack’s eyes bored into Raid's, and his voice cracked, “You know, Mr. Riad, I’d like to tell you why I tuned out the institutional church. Up until I was about eight years old, every Sunday morning was spent standing in a glass-encased room that was called, and literally was, the cry room. I would stand at the soundproof glass and watch this show on the other side. My brother Mike was an altar boy. I’d make faces at him, hoping to crack him up, but he never looked my way. Every so often, I’d hear the priest’s voice filter through the loudspeaker above my head. But it was all Latin to me: and back then, it really was! I see myself now, just as I was: surrounded by squirming kids and uptight adults, engulfed by the sounds of crying and whining, and I truly believed that was church. Once my younger siblings had grown, we got to be in the main room. It was ok.

“But when I turned fifteen in 1963, three things occurred. By Thanksgiving that year, I was overfilled with images of JFK being shot and John-John during that motorcade. I still can’t get that little guy in his short coat with his knees exposed out of my head. He saluted as the casket rode by, but nobody knew why it had to be that way. And life as I had known it all changed. But God is good, and three months later, the gloom had gone. For the Beatles appeared on a Sunday night in my living room, and the world as I had known it was never the same. Recently, John Lennon made a comment to a reporter that the Beatles were more popular with my generation than Jesus, and he was right on. My friends and I know every lyric to every Beatles song, but nobody ever quotes Jesus.

“Lennon made me think about my own hypocrisy, and that led me to drop the church. It happened at weekly confession; there I was at the altar, on my knees and mindlessly repeating the same old prayers as the week before. But on that day, it was for the last time. In the middle of the three Our Fathers and ten Hail Mary's, it hit me like a light. These words that I uttered never changed anything, and I got up and walked out for the very last time. But now, I understand; I’m just a stage one! The thing is, you have given me a lot to think about. Maybe I was just born into the wrong faith?”

Ahmad smiled even wider and exclaimed, “Jack, a Hindu would advise you to follow the path you have been born into. Seek God in your family tradition. Seek where you have been placed. If, after you truly seek God there, you do not find him, then go seek him wherever he leads. Now, have you heard what Gandhi said about Christianity, Jack? He said that it was a most excellent religion; they should all try it.”

“Too bad Gandhi wasn’t there during the Crusades! Those barbarians tortured and burned people at the stake! What kind of Christian could rationalize that? So much hypocrisy! I will not give my soul over to another. No institution is going to control me!” Jack announced triumphantly, and then continued, “My best bud Al is a Jew, and we both have tuned out what our elders have offered—too many rules! Besides, I think Christians can be real cowards, or else they were sleeping while Hitler was gaining power. I hate to think it, but maybe it was because they are anti-Semitic?”

Riad interrupted, “I won’t comment on that, but in 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued a declaration on the relationship of the church to non-Christian religions, condemning anti-Semitism, and recognizing ‘the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock.’12 Now, I realize nineteen centuries of anti-Semitism and some very unholy behavior will not erase the sins of the fathers, but with this new revelation begins the healing. Hope emerges every time a wrong has been admitted and corrected.”

Art had returned unnoticed and had silently stood in the doorway until Riad finished and then softly spoke. “Excuse me. The book Sylvia had been reading to me while we traveled--it’s a collection of Einstein’s essays. I was driving down your street when a white cat darted in front of me, and I hit the brakes. The book fell on the floor, and that cat flew up a tree and sat, and just stared down at me with his icy blue eyes. The book fell open to ‘The Calling of The Jews.’

"I quote: ‘This is a time when there seems to be a particular need for men of philosophical persuasion—that is to say, friends of wisdom and truth—to join together…We Jews should be, and remain, the carriers and patrons of spiritual values. But we should also always be aware of the fact that these spiritual values are and always have been the common goal of mankind.’13 Einstein’s advice should be heeded by all men of good will. But it seems to me that we all can claim to do God’s will, and yet we all can too easily justify unjust behavior.”

The Muslim and the Jew locked eyes, and tears welled up from within them both, and then overflowed at the same time. After a time of timelessness, Riad softly spoke. “I offer you Thomas saying forty-eight, and I quote: ‘Jesus said, “If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, ‘move from here’, and it will be done.’”14

Art exhaled smoke as he spoke directly to Khaled. “I just flashed onto another memory about how you came to be the owner of a ’41 Pontiac with a dent in the side door that--”

”Oh, no, Art, you can’t tell that one without me first laying the foundation. I remember it well. Jack, did I tell you that my friend here, Art Pearlman, hired me while I was still in college? Right on the spot and he never regretted it. Art was the director of the assistant-engineer-in-training program at the John Deere Company, and supervised with an iron hand and warm heart. While still a sophomore at State University of Iowa, I was promoted after four months on the job to be Art’s right-hand man. We had become like brothers! Jack, remember when I told you about Gloria breaking my heart? Yes, well, Art watched me brood the entire week after we broke up, and he refused to allow me to keep my broken heart to myself!”

Art grinned and continued, “It was unbearable. I said, ‘enough with the stony silence; you look like you are ready to explode. It’s been a long, hard week. Let’s knock off early and grab a beer. You haven’t said a word all week—no jokes, no smiles. Who died? What happened with you?’ Oh, how you sighed and moaned as you related your tale of woe. I can still hear you whine, ‘I have decided I will never get married unless I marry a girl from my own culture. And here in Iowa, I have not met any!’ You cried in your beer, and then I suggested you forget about marriage, have some fun, and date some of those beautiful college girls I watched all over town.”

“Yes, you made a good point, Art. But college girls only dated college men who owned a car. Not only did I not own a car, I did not even know how to drive. But, I began imagining myself behind the wheel of an automobile and having many dates! So, the next thing I knew, we were on Mallard Avenue, at Jim’s Used Car Lot. We were immediately pounced upon by Jim, who demanded, ‘What are you looking to spend?’ I immediately remembered a traumatic experience with a Syrian rug merchant when I first fled Majd Al Krum in 1948, and I shivered and said, ‘Speak with my advisor, Art.’ Jim placed his hands upon our backs and led us through the lot, telling us every car was a bargain. We stopped in front of a shiny black sedan with a dent in the passenger-side door, and then Art took over like the master he is.”

“Right, I negotiated a sweet deal for that pony, just two hundred dollars, cash! But, Khaled still didn’t know how to drive. So I chauffeured him to the public parking lot a few blocks from his boarding house, and had to catch the bus back to the dealership to retrieve my car. That weekend was a nephew’s bar mitzvah, but I promised, come Monday after work, I would give Khaled his first driving lesson.”

“Ah, but I couldn’t wait. I could already taste all those dates! I buoyantly walked to the campus library, humming Arabic tunes, and located every book about clutches and cars that I could find. Not until the librarian flicked the lights at eleven at night, did I leave. I carried home a dozen books about cars and spent the rest of the night reading.

“As soon as the dawn broke, I headed to the public parking lot and admired my acquisition. I carried the car keys in my pocket and thought, I don’t have to wait for Art; I know what to do. So, I climbed behind the wheel, located the ignition, and inserted the key. The car jumped, and I panicked, until I located the brake, and sat gripping the wheel and praying, ‘Please God, don’t let me hurt anyone or anything.’ For hours, I practiced, until I mastered the clutch and was grateful I only scratched up an old relic that someone had abandoned in the lot. By noon, I was confidently circling the lot and tempted to venture out into the street. I reluctantly paralleled parked, waited until Monday morning, and arrived at work, beaming. ‘Art, I have great news. I taught myself to drive; I am skipping lunch today. I am ready to take my driver’s license test.’

“Well, we skipped lunch, and sure enough, Khaled scored a hundred percent on the written exam and drove back to work like a pro!”

“Yes, and when I got back to my rooming house, I beeped the horn just once with sheer delight, and the old woman who lived next door stuck her head out the window and began cursing at me. I had feigned ignorance of English at each encounter with her, and by maintaining a stony silence in her presence, I was able to learn every American curse word!

"Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow; I would plant an olive tree today." - St. Francis of Assisi

On June 1, 2009, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate wrote:

"I have just finished reading your wonderful book ‘Keep Hope Alive’. I found it most inspiring and can see in your story the influences of your Spiritual journey – Merton, Dorothy day, Fox, St. John of the cross, Francis!!  All of whom I share as they are, I believe, great guides to the Spiritual journey.  The book brought me closer to you Eileen – and I was Moved by your great heart and compassion for all those who suffer – Especially the Israelis and the Palestinians and people of Gaza.Thank you for your faithfulness to them (and for helping to provide and Plant so many Olive trees – a real symbol of hope for the Palestinians." 




__________________________________________________________________________________

1. Meyer, Marvin. The Gospel of Thomas, pg 23

2. IBID

3. IBID

4. IBID, pg. 41

5. Azar-Rucquoi, Fundamentally, It's Love Faith in Focus, April 29, 2002

6. King, Martin Luther, Jr. A Testament of Hope, pg. 217-218

7. Lewisy, San Fransisco Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2002

8. King, Testament, pg. 219

9. Micah 6:8

10. King, Testament, pg. 241

11. Peck, Different Drum, pg. 186-208

12. Columbia Encyclopedia, 5th Edition, sv. "Vatican Council, Second."

13. Einstein, Later Years, pg. 268

14. Meyer, Gospel of Thomas, pg. 43
 
   
 
Share/Save/Bookmark

Visitors since 07.22.05
Visitors: 13897465

"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

Order Books at
www.EileenFleming.org

Vanunu's Message to

Hillary Clinton re:
The Apartheid Wall



Order My Books
"Memoirs of a Nice
Irish-American
Girl's Life in
Occupied Territory"

AND
"Keep Hope Alive"
To order either book
click here.
Login Form
Become a registered member of this site to view archived articles and become a guest correspondent.

Username

Password

Remember me
Forgotten your password?
News Archive
Click here to view past articles of interest

View 30 Minutes with Vanunu and his Video Message to USA Christians
Articles Can Be Read Under VANUNU ARCHIVES  

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Read more...

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
Digg The WAWA Site?
Help spread the news by letting digg.com know you digg our site!

posted 3/25/2009

Download New eBook
So, That was 54...
An e-book

Read Why
 

Copyright © 2004-2014 On Track Marketing | Site Design and Hosting by On Track Marketing.
Proud team member of: Global Market Consulting.


submit to reddit Share/Save/Bookmark