Monday, July 18, 2005

A letter never sent

I was going through my email and found a letter that I had written in April 2005 after a spiritual retreat that I had given myself a cooling off period before sending. In the end I decided not to send it. However, looking through it again I decided that this would be an appropriate place for it.

Padre X, CP:

I was on the April 15 weekend retreat with my parish - St. Teresa of Avila. I have some concerns for things that came up on the last day in the 'wrap up' meeting. I want to thank you for your handling of the delicate task of informing those suggesting the most reactionary of future possible retreat themes of the difficulties surrounding such topics. However, I want to voice my concerns for anything that would remotely reflect those requests. I would not be able to take part in a retreat that remotely resembled the types of themes that were being suggested that weekend.

It was only with the upmost restraint that I held my peace while retreat goers repeated reactionary, extreme right wing jargon, euphemistically known as 'talking points,' around the room as themes they would be interested in. It seemed as if it was naturally assumed that everyone present was subject to the same slavish devotion to ruling class ideology. While sounding innocent, the phrase 'culture of life' in its manifestation of current reactionary propaganda is anything but. I am in no way arguing against the church's stance on reproductive issues or care for the terminally ill. I will argue that the phrase was coined and brought into public conscienceless by a group of reactionaries who's actions have shown an utter contempt for life. A few examples:

Under the U.S. 'culture of life' regime hundreds of our Catholic brothers and sisters in Haiti have lost their lives after the illegal kidnapping of their democratically elected leader and subsequent occupation.

Under the U.S. 'culture of life' regime thousands of our Catholic brothers and sisters in Columbia have died while the U.S. funds reactionaries in their decades long extermination of the poor, first under the guise of a 'war on drugs,' now repackaged as the 'war on terror.' Notice how these neatly packaged phrases all sound so familiar.

Under the U.S. 'culture of life' regime 108 detainees charged with no crimes, have died horrible deaths, usually while being tortured, in illegal concentration camps like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Under the U.S. 'culture of life' regime thousands of Afghans, and in Iraq at least 20,117, and by some estimates over 100,000 civilians have died under the unprovoked invasion and subsequent occupation. This in addition to the now estimated millions that died under the inhumane sanctions maintained by the previous administration representing the 'alternative' (read not as reactionary) ruling class party.

Under the U.S. 'culture of life' regime Catholic clergy, religious, and lay services workers remain top targets of SOA/WHINSEC trained and U.S. funded death squads. All for subversive actions like teaching the poor to read and preaching the gospel. While the vast majority of the retreat goers clamoring for a 'culture of life' retreat, blissfully unaware of their white privilege, have probably never even heard of U.S. assassination victims like Bishop Oscar Romero, Bishop Juan José Girardi, or of the countless other victims of the church in South and Central America.

Please understand why I was under duress listening to revolting suggestions that the reactionary corporate media was somehow promoting a 'culture of death' in direct opposition to what these men believe they stand for. The irony of them suggesting the media was somehow anything than corporate propaganda struck me hardest realizing that on the wall there is a photograph that many of them probably miss. A photograph of a man and his wife, founder and owner of a large fast food concern, who I know is a big supporter of Mater Dolorosa, and undoubtedly a very good and devout Catholic. Sadly, his company's major ad campaigns are at best sexist and at worst utterly degrading to woman (one viewing of the 'mechanical bull ad' should support my assertion). The insinuation that the media serves anyone other than the ruling class is a sad misinterpretation on behalf of my fellow retreat goers.

My further dismay while spending a weekend in prayer for all the brown children--Catholic and otherwise--dying as a direct result of the U.S. ruling class' penchant for imperialism and current 'culture of life' administration's preemptive war on the poor, was to have to stand in line for the Chapel behind a fellow retreat goer wearing a 'Surfers for Cheney and B___' t-shirt. I can't bring my self to type out the name of an individual responsible for extensive crimes against humanity. I am sure you will know what name it is. If any individuals are the embodiment of a so-called 'culture of death,' it is those named on that person's shirt. Other than a brief (and by the look on some people's faces, unwelcome) Sr. Judy's prayer on behalf of Iraqis after a meal, I felt as if I was at a P.N.A.C. convention rather than on a spiritual retreat.

It took everything in me not to stand up and suggest a retreat theme based on Liberation Theology, how it is the only modern Catholic school of thought that tracks true to the Gospels. How it is needed far more here; in the cradle of imperialism, than it is in the oppressed world countries where it flourished. If 'culture of life,' or any similar theme of self-righteous reaction is chosen for next year, please let me know. I will attend the 12 step retreat instead, since at least there we know how to focus on real issues of spiritually. Not ruling class ideology somehow cloaked as christian charity.

Your brother in Christ


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