"Slouching Toward Bethlehem!" |
By Marilyn Dinger
I wrote the following article as I reflected on the events of this past Holy Season -- the Easter/Passover Season. As a Christian and as a person who is also possibly a small fraction of Jewish descent, I am suffering from a kind of after Easter/Passover blues, so I am writing about how I was feeling at the time of the siege of the Church of The Nativity nearly a month ago. It is how I still feel. No one with any knowledge of history or of current events at all can deny that President Clinton went a long way toward achieving peace in the Middle East. Many people on both sides of the equation -- Palestinians and Jews -- want peace in the Middle East. When my niece studied in Israel a few years ago at the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies (built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) she met both Arabs and Jews who wanted to live in peace. There was even talk at approximately the same time of nominating President Bill Clinton for the Nobel Peace Prize. President Jimmy Carter would also be a good candidate because he now is trying to achieve a peace effort in Cuba. Thus the Noble Peace Prize is truly deserved by those world leaders or past world leaders who have made great strides toward peace and also toward preserving the environment. It is with this that I introduce and update the below essay.
All those of us who call ourselves "Christians" listen up, please! I am a Christian, but I am not submitting this article especially because I am of the Christian religious persuasion, nor am I submitting this article only for the benefit of Christians. I would simply like to state where a true Christian should stand on the Bush doctrine, the Bush war effort as it has turned out to be, and the Bush treatment of the planet.
Bush calls himself a "Christian," but who does he really think he is fooling? After the events of the past year-and-a-quarter, I'm surprised that there are still those who don't wonder just WHO in "tarnation" Bush thinks he's fooling!
For the past few years -- in about two years from now -- I have had it in my mind to take a trip to Israel and Egypt. I had it all planned out in my mind which tour I wanted to take and I was getting myself all geared up for a long-desired trip to the Holy Land, if the needed funds and fate should make it possible. Now, all I can sadly say is "Forget it!" I don't want to say NEVER, though, and I vehemently hope there won't be a "war without end" as Dick Cheney has stated so that I or others who have been so inclined will, indeed, never get there! But all that aside, we hoped to make a pilgrimage toward Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and we hoped that the peacekeeping efforts that President Clinton started would prevail so that we could see the fruits of what he so nobly started. We definitely did NOT vote for a leader, who calls himself a "Christian" leader of the Free World, would now be slouching toward Bethlehem.
I'm sure that some 2000 years ago when Christ was supposed to have been born, those shepherds who told of the remarkable events of his birth underneath the stars in the heavens, could not have predicted that the place now called "the Church of the Nativity" would now be filled with the rotting corpses of the dead! No! Not the Church of the Nativity! NEVER! The Christmas carol "Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.....the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight!" never envisioned that the legendary place of the manger would be a place of rotting flesh!
When the proclamation "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people!" was given, I always thought that at least the place of Christ's birth would be spared the carnage! This includes the carnage of Jews, Christians, Arabs, or what-have-you! It includes being spared the carnage of ALL people! "Good tidings of great joy to all people" certainly does not include a "war without end", which if 9-11 somehow would NOT have happened, neither would have such a ludicrous declaration!
I did not want a leader who would use "sloughing toward Bethlehem" or might I say slithering toward Bethlehem as an excuse to slouch toward Armageddon! How unholy! The first holy temples were the mountaintops, if you want to take it back to the time of Moses. Now the so-called Christian "leader of the free world", who is slouching toward Bethlehem, says that secretary Colin Powell's efforts toward peace were a "success"! No one with any true fire in their belly or even the smallest speck of nobleness of spirit would agree (with a clear conscience) that those efforts were a "success"! Come on! Peace was obviously NOT achieved! Even the media at least admitted that!
Now for the mountaintops. Bush wants to find a way around the long arm of the law to legalize mountaintop removal! Could THAT mean "mountaintop removal without end", too? Wait a minute! Moses used Mount Sinai as a temple where he was told by an up-close-and-personal God that he would be the deliverer of the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt! Environmentalists, nature lovers, poets, and the great prophets down through the ages all look up to the mountains for inspiration and strength. Mountaintops were NEVER designed by either God or nature to become the mines of hell! They were always meant to be temples as long as both humanity and the earth should stand! Christians call Christ "the Prince of peace." People find peace in the peaks and the high pastures of the mountains. That is why the prophets of old chose them as the first temples. Does it promote peace to destroy the mountaintops on the altar of corporate greed or for fanatical ideological reasons? Hardly! Or to take it further, OF COURSE NOT!
Moses had to get the children of Israel (with God's help) safely through the Red Sea to the foot of Mount Sinai and he had to get to the peaks of that mountain to be given the Ten Commandments before Mary and Joseph could subsequently make their pilgrimage to Bethlehem where Christ would be born! Had the wonders of nature, such as mountains, not been there, none of this could possibly have happened!
One of the Ten Commandments states boldly "Thou shalt have NO other gods before me!" If Mr. Bush calls himself a Christian, because both Christians and Jews believe in the Ten Commandments which includes "Thou shalt not kill!", then how can he justify worshipping the idol god CORPORATE GREED?
Furthermore, he seems to miss the very message of Christ's beatitude "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God!" Peace definitely does NOT include killing of any kind, nor does it include killing of any race or those of any religious belief! Neither does peacemaking include the approval or the encouragement of violence against humanity!
On the news on Good Friday (while dying Easter eggs), I heard a man on that news of the present turmoil in the Middle East sobbing "We almost had it! We almost had it!" Then he broke down completely. President Clinton evidently got the message of "Blessed are the peacemakers!" concerning the state of the Middle East and other areas of the world a trillion times better than Bush, and that is precisely WHY former presidents Clinton and Carter both deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, not Bush and Blair! Both Clinton and Carter at least worked for peace in the Middle East. Bush arrogantly called Colin Powell's failed peace efforts a "success". To say nothing of liars!
Instead of slouching toward Bethlehem, Bush should be aspiring to the vision of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah (who also foretold of the birth of Christ and also of a latter-day millennial period of world peace yet to be): "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall NOT lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore!"