Category: Susan D. Harris

The Tumultuous Effect of the LGBT Agenda on One Young Mind


Sometimes something as mundane as a visit to a drive-through can leave your head splitting from an overdose of culture shock.  No matter which way you turn these days, you’re bound to offend someone about something…but did you ever notice that no one seems to care about offending you?

Jamie had become what I call a “friendly acquaintance” – a seemingly friendly androgynous young boy at the drive-through where I often buy coffee.  One day he’d be a colorfully polished girl with blue eye shadow and a ponytail; the next he was a boy who sparkled with the charisma of a young David Cassidy.

He was in boy mode the first time I met him; we bantered happily and he introduced himself as “Jamie.”  I later remarked to an older lady who worked there, roughly my age, that the new guy was “a fine-looking young man.”  Suddenly remembering the times we live in, and trying not to be misconstrued as some sort of “Mrs. Robinson” character from The Graduate, I quickly added: “Well, I mean, he’s fine-looking if I were 30 years younger.”  At this point I realized I sounded like an idiot.  Being friendly and outgoing can have its pitfalls; I’m often so good at digging my own holes that I carry a shovel with me.

That’s when the lady replied, “Oh, him.  He’s a her.  I realize you can’t tell by his name.  We all thought it was a boy, too.  Well, he was born a boy, but I mean…well, the manager had a meeting and told us he was a girl.  This was after we’d all told him what nice eyes he had and that he should be a male model.  Now I don’t know what to do.”

After our friendly banter, Jamie would wave to me when he was waiting at the bus stop.  Some days he’d walk home, and I’d see him and tell him to be careful because of the ice or the busy highway.  It’s a high-traffic area, and I sometimes found myself worrying about him.  

I treated him carefully, mostly because I knew that bouncing between sexes doesn’t bode well for one’s mental stability.  I don’t care how society tries to normalize such things; being a girl one day and a boy the next is not normal and never will be.  I can’t stand hearing so-called experts lecture me on “gender fluidity” or the ever changing classifications of the gender system.  Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten, thank you, before the world went crazy.

Soon a whole bunch of bad things happened to me in a relatively short time.  I lost my father and my best friend, Katey, my dog (who for 15 years went through every drive-through with me).  Three times I’d been hospitalized, sure that I was going to die; then my mother spent a summer in the hospital, and I never missed a day by her side.  Luckily, she made it home.  Life had not been good for my little family.  

Eventually, I found myself once again driving through the drive-through and coming upon Jamie.  In a strange way, after all the rotten things I’d been through, I was actually happy to find that young, silly Jamie hadn’t been run over by a bus.  He had a ponytail, exceptionally clownish orange eye shadow, and other makeup.  I said, “Hey, Jamie!”  He looked away from me, as if he didn’t recognize me, but I knew that his memory wasn’t that bad.  Somehow I’d hurt the delicate damsel, and my mind was racing to figure out how to fix it.  My eyes flashed across to his nametag, which read “Canaan.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  Your name is Canaan,” I said, taking the time to bother contemplating if I was pronouncing it in the manner he preferred.  There are so many things to remember these days, so much tiptoeing.  “Yes,” he said, tugging at his shirt and holding up his nametag so I could see it better.  “Well, that reminds me of…” I was going to say “the Bible,” but I stopped short because I thought that might be too controversial for him.  Not that I’m embarrassed by the word of God, but I just wanted my coffee without any trouble.  I guess that’s how we’ve all been conditioned to live now – but in retrospect, I won’t be altering my conversation for anyone in that manner again.

Floundering now, and digging one of those holes I talked about, I continued: “Well it reminds me of something, but I can’t think what.  It’s nice.  What does it remind you of?  Why did you pick it?”  There was no one else in line.  There was an awkward silence.  I was suddenly wondering if he picked a name obviously associated with the Bible to make orthodox Christians or Jews feel uncomfortable with his constantly changing sexual identities.  No; I decided that that was too complicated.  (I found out later that Oprah Winfrey, in a bizarre feat only she could accomplish, actually caused a spike in the name’s use after she chose it for a son who had died nameless over forty years ago.)

The tables had turned, and Canaan was the one floundering now.  Whatever reason he chose the name, he clearly didn’t want to discuss it or even laugh it off, so he decided I wasn’t worth speaking to.  

I changed the subject quickly, but it was too late.  Canaan looked visibly angry.  He silently handed me my bank card, averting his eyes.  My loud happy salutation had meant nothing to him…he knew only how to be offended and react rudely.

At first I kind of felt sorry for him, because his mental instability is our fault as a society.  We allowed this to happen.  We said it was all okay, and it wasn’t.

For instance, my city – his city – boasts a thriving drag culture that administrators have proudly worked to make “mainstream.”  A recent newspaper article reported that drag is the ultimate “anti-establishment” thing to do.  Local groups gushed that it is now embraced by the heterosexual community as an “accepted art form” and that everyone is scrambling for a spot in the Miss Drag 2018 pageant.  Between that and the complicated but super-popular lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, intersexual, and asexual agenda, it’s a wonder we don’t find our kids wandering naked, dazed and confused, down the middle of our streets.

On any given day, this poor boy doesn’t know what sex he is, how to dress in the morning, what his name is.  He’s holding down a job that’s probably the only static thing in his life.  One day, he might just become so overwhelmed with the chaos that he hangs himself from the highest tree…and society will blame people like me for not coddling him enough instead of blaming the culture that fried his brain.

As I drove off, I realized I was watching a pouty snowflake begin to melt.  I thought of how much energy he must waste thinking of himself every day.  He had been trained to be the center of his own universe, and it was with himself that all his empathy and sympathy lay.

The LGBT agenda is a large entity with wide-ranging implications in religion and politics – but watching its singularly tumultuous effect on the mind of one young man has been truly heartbreaking.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.

Sometimes something as mundane as a visit to a drive-through can leave your head splitting from an overdose of culture shock.  No matter which way you turn these days, you’re bound to offend someone about something…but did you ever notice that no one seems to care about offending you?

Jamie had become what I call a “friendly acquaintance” – a seemingly friendly androgynous young boy at the drive-through where I often buy coffee.  One day he’d be a colorfully polished girl with blue eye shadow and a ponytail; the next he was a boy who sparkled with the charisma of a young David Cassidy.

He was in boy mode the first time I met him; we bantered happily and he introduced himself as “Jamie.”  I later remarked to an older lady who worked there, roughly my age, that the new guy was “a fine-looking young man.”  Suddenly remembering the times we live in, and trying not to be misconstrued as some sort of “Mrs. Robinson” character from The Graduate, I quickly added: “Well, I mean, he’s fine-looking if I were 30 years younger.”  At this point I realized I sounded like an idiot.  Being friendly and outgoing can have its pitfalls; I’m often so good at digging my own holes that I carry a shovel with me.

That’s when the lady replied, “Oh, him.  He’s a her.  I realize you can’t tell by his name.  We all thought it was a boy, too.  Well, he was born a boy, but I mean…well, the manager had a meeting and told us he was a girl.  This was after we’d all told him what nice eyes he had and that he should be a male model.  Now I don’t know what to do.”

After our friendly banter, Jamie would wave to me when he was waiting at the bus stop.  Some days he’d walk home, and I’d see him and tell him to be careful because of the ice or the busy highway.  It’s a high-traffic area, and I sometimes found myself worrying about him.  

I treated him carefully, mostly because I knew that bouncing between sexes doesn’t bode well for one’s mental stability.  I don’t care how society tries to normalize such things; being a girl one day and a boy the next is not normal and never will be.  I can’t stand hearing so-called experts lecture me on “gender fluidity” or the ever changing classifications of the gender system.  Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten, thank you, before the world went crazy.

Soon a whole bunch of bad things happened to me in a relatively short time.  I lost my father and my best friend, Katey, my dog (who for 15 years went through every drive-through with me).  Three times I’d been hospitalized, sure that I was going to die; then my mother spent a summer in the hospital, and I never missed a day by her side.  Luckily, she made it home.  Life had not been good for my little family.  

Eventually, I found myself once again driving through the drive-through and coming upon Jamie.  In a strange way, after all the rotten things I’d been through, I was actually happy to find that young, silly Jamie hadn’t been run over by a bus.  He had a ponytail, exceptionally clownish orange eye shadow, and other makeup.  I said, “Hey, Jamie!”  He looked away from me, as if he didn’t recognize me, but I knew that his memory wasn’t that bad.  Somehow I’d hurt the delicate damsel, and my mind was racing to figure out how to fix it.  My eyes flashed across to his nametag, which read “Canaan.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  Your name is Canaan,” I said, taking the time to bother contemplating if I was pronouncing it in the manner he preferred.  There are so many things to remember these days, so much tiptoeing.  “Yes,” he said, tugging at his shirt and holding up his nametag so I could see it better.  “Well, that reminds me of…” I was going to say “the Bible,” but I stopped short because I thought that might be too controversial for him.  Not that I’m embarrassed by the word of God, but I just wanted my coffee without any trouble.  I guess that’s how we’ve all been conditioned to live now – but in retrospect, I won’t be altering my conversation for anyone in that manner again.

Floundering now, and digging one of those holes I talked about, I continued: “Well it reminds me of something, but I can’t think what.  It’s nice.  What does it remind you of?  Why did you pick it?”  There was no one else in line.  There was an awkward silence.  I was suddenly wondering if he picked a name obviously associated with the Bible to make orthodox Christians or Jews feel uncomfortable with his constantly changing sexual identities.  No; I decided that that was too complicated.  (I found out later that Oprah Winfrey, in a bizarre feat only she could accomplish, actually caused a spike in the name’s use after she chose it for a son who had died nameless over forty years ago.)

The tables had turned, and Canaan was the one floundering now.  Whatever reason he chose the name, he clearly didn’t want to discuss it or even laugh it off, so he decided I wasn’t worth speaking to.  

I changed the subject quickly, but it was too late.  Canaan looked visibly angry.  He silently handed me my bank card, averting his eyes.  My loud happy salutation had meant nothing to him…he knew only how to be offended and react rudely.

At first I kind of felt sorry for him, because his mental instability is our fault as a society.  We allowed this to happen.  We said it was all okay, and it wasn’t.

For instance, my city – his city – boasts a thriving drag culture that administrators have proudly worked to make “mainstream.”  A recent newspaper article reported that drag is the ultimate “anti-establishment” thing to do.  Local groups gushed that it is now embraced by the heterosexual community as an “accepted art form” and that everyone is scrambling for a spot in the Miss Drag 2018 pageant.  Between that and the complicated but super-popular lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, intersexual, and asexual agenda, it’s a wonder we don’t find our kids wandering naked, dazed and confused, down the middle of our streets.

On any given day, this poor boy doesn’t know what sex he is, how to dress in the morning, what his name is.  He’s holding down a job that’s probably the only static thing in his life.  One day, he might just become so overwhelmed with the chaos that he hangs himself from the highest tree…and society will blame people like me for not coddling him enough instead of blaming the culture that fried his brain.

As I drove off, I realized I was watching a pouty snowflake begin to melt.  I thought of how much energy he must waste thinking of himself every day.  He had been trained to be the center of his own universe, and it was with himself that all his empathy and sympathy lay.

The LGBT agenda is a large entity with wide-ranging implications in religion and politics – but watching its singularly tumultuous effect on the mind of one young man has been truly heartbreaking.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.



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On Finding Warnings for America from Rev. Billy Graham


The old dresser holds my prized possessions.  No jewels or money or a key to a safe deposit box – just simple things that hold a place in my heart.

Today, I’ve opened its weathered drawers to look for an old dress pattern – a memory that was jogged by a conversation with my elderly mother.  I opened the drawer and carefully started sifting through the contents – a 45rpm of John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” I’d bought before he was killed; a personal letter from Phyllis Schlafly on being conservative; People magazine’s tribute on the death of Sir Lawrence Olivier, “Goodnight Sweet Prince.”  Then I pulled out a theater program for Camelot signed by Richard Harris; a paperback titled Dark Shadows; and the last issue of George magazine, published before John F. Kennedy, Jr. flew to eternity.

“Ah,” I always say with a smile – one of my favorite old snapshots of me posing in the lobby of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in front of their giant Gone with the Wind/Margaret Mitchell exhibit.  I don’t think they could even have that on display today without threats or protests.

Then I ran across it.  Something I didn’t even remember: a copy of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine from March 1976.  The subscription was actually in my name – I was a precocious child.  Why I saved this particular issue, I’ll never know…or maybe it explained itself.

It’s just a few days after the death of Rev. Graham, and I feel as though I’ve run across this for a reason.  Though he was 99, his death felt like the passing of an era, and as I told my mother the news the day before, she began to cry.  My father and she had been married for 62 years; she is a widow now.  The summer they married, they drove to one of Billy Graham’s largest crusades and rededicated their lives to God.  What a different world we live in – most young people don’t even bother to get married anymore, let alone go to revival meetings!

Decision wasn’t even really a magazine yet; it was more of a glossy newspaper format.  A small side banner read, “Two Billy Graham TV Specials from Rio de Janeiro and Brussels: consult your newspaper for times and channels.”  Back then, it seemed as if everyone in America tuned in for a Billy Graham crusade.  The front cover began an article by Graham himself, titled “The Shaping of America.”  In it, Graham critiques Life magazine’s “100 Events that Shaped America.”  Graham notes that only one or two of the events mentioned by Life could be considered “religious” in any way – certainly not Sigmund Freud’s visit to the U.S., nor Babe Ruth and the introduction of big-money sports.  Graham has his own ideas of what should have made the list.

He begins with the Mayflower Compact, which began with the words “In the name of God, Amen.”  (The document goes on to say the pilgrim’s voyage to this new world was in large part “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith.”)  Graham argues that that document set the course for the entire colonial period and that the ensuing emigrants from Europe fleeing religious persecution “were influenced by the pattern of religious self-government under God, established in the Mayflower Compact.”

Next he mentions the birth of the American Bible Society in 1816 that facilitated millions of copies of said holy book being distributed around the world.

He continues by mentioning the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1976, “probably made the greatest single contribution toward arousing antislavery opinion in the United States.”  It was well known that the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was inspired by her family’s Christian faith, abolitionist writings, and personal experiences.

Graham then points to the founding of our greatest universities: “Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Dartmouth” and “many other schools … established to train students for Christian leadership in America.”

He explores the 1806 “Haystack Prayer Meeting” in which five Williams College students, seeking shelter from rain, dove under a haystack and there prayed and conceptualized the “first documented resolution ever made by Americans to begin foreign missionary work.”  (One of those students was Samuel Mills, who also “played a role in the founding of the American Bible Society and the United Foreign Missionary Society.”)  Graham contends that Christian missions did “as much as anything else to bring about the emerging ‘third world.'”  An African prime minister had recently told him that missionary outreach had largely contributed to the “struggle for freedom that has come to fruition in Africa (over) the past two decades.”

The many biblical references to the disciples “speaking with boldness” are, according to some biblical authorities, translated to “freedom of speech.”  With this point, Graham’s article seems to make it clear that Christianity was instrumental not only to our country, but to America’s global influence for freedom and democracy.  That’s not the kind of democracy Ayn Rand or George Soros wants to hear about – but it’s the only kind of democracy that can truly flourish: democracy with a Christian soul.

Also of interest is the paper’s editorial, titled “1984.”  It warns that the nations of the West must change their ways, or they will lose their freedoms, including “freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, of movement; economic freedom, ballot box freedom – everything.  It will all be swept away with the trash; and a lot of people will be glad about it!  Yes, they will say, ‘Thank God, decency has come back.’  And it may so appear, but the democratic experiment will be over.”   Predicting the loss of freedoms was one thing, but predicting the death of freedom as something that would be hailed and celebrated – that was spine-tingling.  Few people in 1976 envisioned the kind of world we live in today, where the death of freedom is openly threatened or begged for.

One entire page of Decision is dedicated to a man’s struggle with drug addiction.  It could have easily been a message for 2018.

This magazine came out 23 years after my parents attended a Billy Graham crusade and 21 years after his historic crusades at Madison Square Garden, where nearly two and a half million flocked to hear him preach over a 16-week period.

For nearly 70 years, Billy Graham seemed to have his finger on the pulse of America.  His legacy will live on through his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, but there is a deep, almost mysterious foreboding that lingers after news of his passing.  The man who preached Jesus Christ and biblical principles to more live audiences than anyone else in history is dead.  That should give us pause.

For those who believe in “no God” or the “new god” the world has created who loves everyone and judges nothing, everything still feels okay.  For the rest of us believers, there is a palpable sense that whether the Christian Second Coming is near or not, the world is well overdue for a good sound Judgement Day thrashing.  We can run from our sins no more.  A small gasp escapes as we’re overcome with the uneasy feeling that mankind’s day of atonement has passed – along with Rev. Billy Graham.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.

The old dresser holds my prized possessions.  No jewels or money or a key to a safe deposit box – just simple things that hold a place in my heart.

Today, I’ve opened its weathered drawers to look for an old dress pattern – a memory that was jogged by a conversation with my elderly mother.  I opened the drawer and carefully started sifting through the contents – a 45rpm of John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” I’d bought before he was killed; a personal letter from Phyllis Schlafly on being conservative; People magazine’s tribute on the death of Sir Lawrence Olivier, “Goodnight Sweet Prince.”  Then I pulled out a theater program for Camelot signed by Richard Harris; a paperback titled Dark Shadows; and the last issue of George magazine, published before John F. Kennedy, Jr. flew to eternity.

“Ah,” I always say with a smile – one of my favorite old snapshots of me posing in the lobby of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in front of their giant Gone with the Wind/Margaret Mitchell exhibit.  I don’t think they could even have that on display today without threats or protests.

Then I ran across it.  Something I didn’t even remember: a copy of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine from March 1976.  The subscription was actually in my name – I was a precocious child.  Why I saved this particular issue, I’ll never know…or maybe it explained itself.

It’s just a few days after the death of Rev. Graham, and I feel as though I’ve run across this for a reason.  Though he was 99, his death felt like the passing of an era, and as I told my mother the news the day before, she began to cry.  My father and she had been married for 62 years; she is a widow now.  The summer they married, they drove to one of Billy Graham’s largest crusades and rededicated their lives to God.  What a different world we live in – most young people don’t even bother to get married anymore, let alone go to revival meetings!

Decision wasn’t even really a magazine yet; it was more of a glossy newspaper format.  A small side banner read, “Two Billy Graham TV Specials from Rio de Janeiro and Brussels: consult your newspaper for times and channels.”  Back then, it seemed as if everyone in America tuned in for a Billy Graham crusade.  The front cover began an article by Graham himself, titled “The Shaping of America.”  In it, Graham critiques Life magazine’s “100 Events that Shaped America.”  Graham notes that only one or two of the events mentioned by Life could be considered “religious” in any way – certainly not Sigmund Freud’s visit to the U.S., nor Babe Ruth and the introduction of big-money sports.  Graham has his own ideas of what should have made the list.

He begins with the Mayflower Compact, which began with the words “In the name of God, Amen.”  (The document goes on to say the pilgrim’s voyage to this new world was in large part “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith.”)  Graham argues that that document set the course for the entire colonial period and that the ensuing emigrants from Europe fleeing religious persecution “were influenced by the pattern of religious self-government under God, established in the Mayflower Compact.”

Next he mentions the birth of the American Bible Society in 1816 that facilitated millions of copies of said holy book being distributed around the world.

He continues by mentioning the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1976, “probably made the greatest single contribution toward arousing antislavery opinion in the United States.”  It was well known that the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was inspired by her family’s Christian faith, abolitionist writings, and personal experiences.

Graham then points to the founding of our greatest universities: “Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Dartmouth” and “many other schools … established to train students for Christian leadership in America.”

He explores the 1806 “Haystack Prayer Meeting” in which five Williams College students, seeking shelter from rain, dove under a haystack and there prayed and conceptualized the “first documented resolution ever made by Americans to begin foreign missionary work.”  (One of those students was Samuel Mills, who also “played a role in the founding of the American Bible Society and the United Foreign Missionary Society.”)  Graham contends that Christian missions did “as much as anything else to bring about the emerging ‘third world.'”  An African prime minister had recently told him that missionary outreach had largely contributed to the “struggle for freedom that has come to fruition in Africa (over) the past two decades.”

The many biblical references to the disciples “speaking with boldness” are, according to some biblical authorities, translated to “freedom of speech.”  With this point, Graham’s article seems to make it clear that Christianity was instrumental not only to our country, but to America’s global influence for freedom and democracy.  That’s not the kind of democracy Ayn Rand or George Soros wants to hear about – but it’s the only kind of democracy that can truly flourish: democracy with a Christian soul.

Also of interest is the paper’s editorial, titled “1984.”  It warns that the nations of the West must change their ways, or they will lose their freedoms, including “freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, of movement; economic freedom, ballot box freedom – everything.  It will all be swept away with the trash; and a lot of people will be glad about it!  Yes, they will say, ‘Thank God, decency has come back.’  And it may so appear, but the democratic experiment will be over.”   Predicting the loss of freedoms was one thing, but predicting the death of freedom as something that would be hailed and celebrated – that was spine-tingling.  Few people in 1976 envisioned the kind of world we live in today, where the death of freedom is openly threatened or begged for.

One entire page of Decision is dedicated to a man’s struggle with drug addiction.  It could have easily been a message for 2018.

This magazine came out 23 years after my parents attended a Billy Graham crusade and 21 years after his historic crusades at Madison Square Garden, where nearly two and a half million flocked to hear him preach over a 16-week period.

For nearly 70 years, Billy Graham seemed to have his finger on the pulse of America.  His legacy will live on through his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, but there is a deep, almost mysterious foreboding that lingers after news of his passing.  The man who preached Jesus Christ and biblical principles to more live audiences than anyone else in history is dead.  That should give us pause.

For those who believe in “no God” or the “new god” the world has created who loves everyone and judges nothing, everything still feels okay.  For the rest of us believers, there is a palpable sense that whether the Christian Second Coming is near or not, the world is well overdue for a good sound Judgement Day thrashing.  We can run from our sins no more.  A small gasp escapes as we’re overcome with the uneasy feeling that mankind’s day of atonement has passed – along with Rev. Billy Graham.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.



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Groomed for Paradise or WWIII? The Race for the Red Sea


While many consider Jerusalem the center of the world, the Red Sea might easily claim the title for second place, as countries from around the world are stumbling over each other to gain (or regain) a foothold on the historic waterway.  As we look at recent developments, the question becomes, “are the super-rich going to have one hell of a time partying up and down the sun-baked Red Sea coastline and bathing in the turquoise sea, or will they instead have a front row seat to a treacherous waterway that seems to be bubbling and building up enough pressure to facilitate WWIII?”

Let us review the players in this play – a play whose ending has yet to be written.

The United States has increased its presence there after an onslaught of attacks on U.S. warships in October 2016.  Coming from the Yemeni coastline, the attacks on the warships as well as other shipping vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb strait (which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea as part of the strategic Suez Canal shipping route) exposed a need for greater security in the area.

Earlier in 2016, both Saudi Arabia and China cut deals with the Republic of Djibouti to establish military bases in that region, Djibouti being strategic to controlling access to both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir recently met with Russian president Putin to discuss Russia setting up a military base on the Red Sea and supplying Sudan with military weapons.  Further, Bashir “appealed to Putin” for “protection from aggressive U.S. actions” and offered to make Sudan “Russia’s key to Africa” in developing ties on the continent.

Iran’s presence in the Red Sea country of Yemen has been a little harder to piece together – at least from the mangled weaponry they’re leaving behind.  In an unprecedented act, the Pentagon put parts of recovered weaponry on display last month as part of President Trump’s “harder line toward[] Tehran.”  Iran has apparently been supplying weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen, violating U.N. resolutions.  (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were responsible for retrieving the pieces of weaponry, which included “an Iranian-made short-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at King Khaled International Airport outside Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.”)

And although the words “Saudi Arabia” and “Crack Down” appeared in numerous headlines throughout 2017 (They reportedly “cracked down” on expats working jobs reserved for nationals, the crown prince’s perceived opponents, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated clerics, religious hate speech, and corruption) – it’s frolicking, sunshine, and tourist dollars the Saudis seek on the Red Sea.

Billionaire Richard Branson toured Saudi attractions last September and told the Saudis they could count on him for investment in the kingdom’s largest Red Sea tourism project to date.  Reportedly, “The Red Sea project consists of 100 miles of sandy coastline and a lagoon with 50 islands[.]”  Only time will tell if pandemonium or paradise will greet the moneyed traveler.

Perhaps the most important Red Sea development comes from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey – who’s staking his claim in the Red Sea tourism industry with a bloodless recapture of Suakin.  He wants to brush the dust off its crumbled relics and make it habitable once again as the old Umrah – or pilgrimage route – for Turkish citizens.  (Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that does not coincide with the Hajj.)  Al-Monitor reports that Turks will be able to “fly to Sudan to visit historical sites and then go to Jeddah by boat, thus reanimating an Ottoman base and the ancient Umrah route.”

Of course, there’s the larger implication that Erdoğan is reclaiming Suakin, the old Ottoman outpost, as a military base…though Erdoğan initially denied those reports.

While many people in the world were feasting on holiday meals and unwrapping Christmas presents, President Erdoğan was giving a defiant speech at Khartoum University in Sudan, where he railed against Western countries turning Suakin into a “ghost island” and ranting that they had “razed it to the ground” because it’s “in their nature.”  His vow to rebuild it included a metaphor about “reincarnation” and an analogy to a shaved beard growing back more abundantly.  All in all, the Sudanese “gate to Africa” seemed to stir Erdoğan’s passions deeply.

According to some, the word Suakin – meaning “dwellers,” “stillness,” or “inhabited land” – refers to the islands’ spiritual inhabitants.  It is widely considered a haunted island, where any roaming cat might embody the jinn banished there by King Solomon centuries ago.

In reality, it was flesh-and-blood Sudanese slaves who often passed through Suakin, as they provided financial gain to the Ottomans and Egyptians.

Most notably, Americans first heard of Suakin in 1888, when glaring newspaper headlines read “Battle at Suakin / Arabs Utterly Routed by the Anglo-Egyptian Forces / The Insurgent Dervishes Retreat Leaving Over 400 Dead.”  This was a complicated tale involving a man who had proclaimed himself the Mahdi in Sudan – Muhammad Ahmad – in an open revolt against the Egyptians and a slave trader named Osman Digna, who eventually became his devout follower.  It’s a story best recounted by a British army officer who participated in the “Mahdi War” – Winston Churchill.  His work, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), is online.

It’s a history that may seem lost to the rest of the world, but it certainly is not lost in the mind of the current Turkish president.  At the same time he was crafting the Sudanese Suakin deal, Erdoğan was sending more soldiers to his country’s military base in Qatar.  Not long before that, he’d orchestrated the opening of a $50-million military training base in Somalia.

Egyptian journalist Imadeddin Adib summed up the regions concerns best when he wrote:

Bashir [al-Assad] is playing with fire in return for dollars.  Sudan – with its Turkey madness, with Iranian plots and the Ethiopian scheme to deny water to Egypt, and Qatar’s financial gimmicks – is violating geographic and historic realities against Egypt.  Sudan is offering its ports and borders for dispatching of guns and terrorists to Egypt and serving the goals of the Qatar-Turkey alliance to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

Meanwhile, Israel is accusing Turkey of “developing a military and intelligence infrastructure on the Red Sea” as it worries about a “Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance.”

In other words, the situation is a mess.

The Red Sea is mentioned a few times in the Bible.  Both Jews and Christians believe that God literally parted the Red Sea to save the Israelites from mass slaughter by the Egyptian pharaoh and his army.  The book of Isaiah asks:

Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? (Isaiah 51:10)

Only the most hardened atheists could deny the irony that after thousands of years, the Red Sea still manages to hold the attention of the world.  The affairs of men and nations, even the climate, could have made its importance obsolete by now.  Instead, as in ancient times, there seems to be a race on to reach its trampled shores.  Whether there is any divine providence in that I leave up to the reader.

While many consider Jerusalem the center of the world, the Red Sea might easily claim the title for second place, as countries from around the world are stumbling over each other to gain (or regain) a foothold on the historic waterway.  As we look at recent developments, the question becomes, “are the super-rich going to have one hell of a time partying up and down the sun-baked Red Sea coastline and bathing in the turquoise sea, or will they instead have a front row seat to a treacherous waterway that seems to be bubbling and building up enough pressure to facilitate WWIII?”

Let us review the players in this play – a play whose ending has yet to be written.

The United States has increased its presence there after an onslaught of attacks on U.S. warships in October 2016.  Coming from the Yemeni coastline, the attacks on the warships as well as other shipping vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb strait (which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea as part of the strategic Suez Canal shipping route) exposed a need for greater security in the area.

Earlier in 2016, both Saudi Arabia and China cut deals with the Republic of Djibouti to establish military bases in that region, Djibouti being strategic to controlling access to both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir recently met with Russian president Putin to discuss Russia setting up a military base on the Red Sea and supplying Sudan with military weapons.  Further, Bashir “appealed to Putin” for “protection from aggressive U.S. actions” and offered to make Sudan “Russia’s key to Africa” in developing ties on the continent.

Iran’s presence in the Red Sea country of Yemen has been a little harder to piece together – at least from the mangled weaponry they’re leaving behind.  In an unprecedented act, the Pentagon put parts of recovered weaponry on display last month as part of President Trump’s “harder line toward[] Tehran.”  Iran has apparently been supplying weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen, violating U.N. resolutions.  (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were responsible for retrieving the pieces of weaponry, which included “an Iranian-made short-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at King Khaled International Airport outside Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.”)

And although the words “Saudi Arabia” and “Crack Down” appeared in numerous headlines throughout 2017 (They reportedly “cracked down” on expats working jobs reserved for nationals, the crown prince’s perceived opponents, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated clerics, religious hate speech, and corruption) – it’s frolicking, sunshine, and tourist dollars the Saudis seek on the Red Sea.

Billionaire Richard Branson toured Saudi attractions last September and told the Saudis they could count on him for investment in the kingdom’s largest Red Sea tourism project to date.  Reportedly, “The Red Sea project consists of 100 miles of sandy coastline and a lagoon with 50 islands[.]”  Only time will tell if pandemonium or paradise will greet the moneyed traveler.

Perhaps the most important Red Sea development comes from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey – who’s staking his claim in the Red Sea tourism industry with a bloodless recapture of Suakin.  He wants to brush the dust off its crumbled relics and make it habitable once again as the old Umrah – or pilgrimage route – for Turkish citizens.  (Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that does not coincide with the Hajj.)  Al-Monitor reports that Turks will be able to “fly to Sudan to visit historical sites and then go to Jeddah by boat, thus reanimating an Ottoman base and the ancient Umrah route.”

Of course, there’s the larger implication that Erdoğan is reclaiming Suakin, the old Ottoman outpost, as a military base…though Erdoğan initially denied those reports.

While many people in the world were feasting on holiday meals and unwrapping Christmas presents, President Erdoğan was giving a defiant speech at Khartoum University in Sudan, where he railed against Western countries turning Suakin into a “ghost island” and ranting that they had “razed it to the ground” because it’s “in their nature.”  His vow to rebuild it included a metaphor about “reincarnation” and an analogy to a shaved beard growing back more abundantly.  All in all, the Sudanese “gate to Africa” seemed to stir Erdoğan’s passions deeply.

According to some, the word Suakin – meaning “dwellers,” “stillness,” or “inhabited land” – refers to the islands’ spiritual inhabitants.  It is widely considered a haunted island, where any roaming cat might embody the jinn banished there by King Solomon centuries ago.

In reality, it was flesh-and-blood Sudanese slaves who often passed through Suakin, as they provided financial gain to the Ottomans and Egyptians.

Most notably, Americans first heard of Suakin in 1888, when glaring newspaper headlines read “Battle at Suakin / Arabs Utterly Routed by the Anglo-Egyptian Forces / The Insurgent Dervishes Retreat Leaving Over 400 Dead.”  This was a complicated tale involving a man who had proclaimed himself the Mahdi in Sudan – Muhammad Ahmad – in an open revolt against the Egyptians and a slave trader named Osman Digna, who eventually became his devout follower.  It’s a story best recounted by a British army officer who participated in the “Mahdi War” – Winston Churchill.  His work, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), is online.

It’s a history that may seem lost to the rest of the world, but it certainly is not lost in the mind of the current Turkish president.  At the same time he was crafting the Sudanese Suakin deal, Erdoğan was sending more soldiers to his country’s military base in Qatar.  Not long before that, he’d orchestrated the opening of a $50-million military training base in Somalia.

Egyptian journalist Imadeddin Adib summed up the regions concerns best when he wrote:

Bashir [al-Assad] is playing with fire in return for dollars.  Sudan – with its Turkey madness, with Iranian plots and the Ethiopian scheme to deny water to Egypt, and Qatar’s financial gimmicks – is violating geographic and historic realities against Egypt.  Sudan is offering its ports and borders for dispatching of guns and terrorists to Egypt and serving the goals of the Qatar-Turkey alliance to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

Meanwhile, Israel is accusing Turkey of “developing a military and intelligence infrastructure on the Red Sea” as it worries about a “Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance.”

In other words, the situation is a mess.

The Red Sea is mentioned a few times in the Bible.  Both Jews and Christians believe that God literally parted the Red Sea to save the Israelites from mass slaughter by the Egyptian pharaoh and his army.  The book of Isaiah asks:

Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? (Isaiah 51:10)

Only the most hardened atheists could deny the irony that after thousands of years, the Red Sea still manages to hold the attention of the world.  The affairs of men and nations, even the climate, could have made its importance obsolete by now.  Instead, as in ancient times, there seems to be a race on to reach its trampled shores.  Whether there is any divine providence in that I leave up to the reader.



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Keep Your Family Close: A New Year's Tale on What Might Have Been


Every year at this time, traders at the New York Stock Exchange rededicate themselves to carrying on the 100-plus-year tradition of singing “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Sung on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s a yearly reminder of another story that originated over 100 years ago.

The story I have to tell begins with a little wagon – handcrafted in 1913 as a gift by John Henry for his young son Lynn, though his son would never see it.  For years it was stowed away, almost hidden, in John Henry’s barn.  When John Henry was much older, he pulled the wagon out from under the hay in the barn loft and told the story of the wagon to the first and only person to hear it.

He told a story of meeting and marrying a beautiful young wife, Nellie, and how she gave birth to their son, Lynn, and then to their daughter, Nellie May, three years later.  Nellie May was a strong, healthy baby.  Her mother, Nellie, as was sadly common in those days, died a few days after childbirth.  John Henry was now a widower, left alone to care for his two small children.

Somehow he managed, and well into the next summer, with increasing eagerness, he began working on a wagon for his son’s third birthday.  As bees buzzed and August grew hotter, a panic began to bubble, trickle, and then roar through town – just as the river split it.

A cholera epidemic was sweeping through the community.  Reports of the dead and dying gripped families in fear.  Suddenly, little Lynn was sick and dead before his father had even grasped what was happening – before he’d even gotten to see his wagon.  Anxiously, the father watched over Nellie May’s crib, hoping she would be spared.  She was not.  Within one week, he had lost both children.  This meant he had lost his entire family within the space of one year.

A newspaper article told of John Henry’s “extreme bereavement,” and the story spread to newspapers around the region.

How did the grief-stricken man find the faith to survive?  Surely it was his faith in God…and eventually the comfort of a widowed woman with whom he formed a special bond that turned into a lifelong love.

His marriage to Mina was a happy one that would produce five children.  Sometimes, though, when John Henry was especially happy, he would forget himself and sing the song he used to sing to the bride of his youth: “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Then he would catch himself and stop.

Though Mina knew she shouldn’t, she couldn’t help but feel almost hurt when she’d hear him singing it.  Since she and the children knew of his first family and the tragedy that had befallen them, the song inevitably formed an unspoken cloud of sadness as they were reminded of their father’s loss so many years before.

Besides the song that he’d sung to Nellie in happy times, John Henry never spoke of his first family – that is, until one day when he was in the barn with his youngest child, Benjamin, now a young man.  Perhaps it was because he was particularly close to Benjamin that he did it, but John Henry went to the loft and pulled out the little wagon – and talked about Lynn for the first and last time.  Benjamin would be the only one to hear the story of the ungiven gift and the only one to see the fine handiwork his father had created for a half-brother he’d never known.

One day, while still a child myself, I saw a news clip of the New York Stock Exchange and the traders singing “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Just beginning my lifelong love of old music, I decided to learn it and sing it for my parents.

As I began to sing, my parents looked shocked, stopped me, and wondered where on Earth I learned such an old song.  I told them about the stock exchange…but they simply suggested that it was best I didn’t sing it.

Finally, sometime in my teens, I asked why the “Nellie” song wasn’t to be sung in our house.  It was then that my mother told me the story of John Henry – my grandfather – and his first family.  Then she told me of the little wagon he had shown my father, Benjamin.  Now I understood why it was best that I not add the song to my repertoire.

My grandfather was born in 1887, and since he lived to a ripe old age, I was blessed to know him.  He visited us regularly.

Still, it seemed strange to me that an event that happened over sixty years before still carried any weight in my family.  Perhaps it was because of the disturbing reality that if that first family had lived, my father would have never been born.  My family would have never existed!

Due to a wide span of time, my grandfather and I did not share the Earth long enough for me to ask him all the questions I would have liked.  Even my father admitted that due to joining the Navy so young, then raising his own family, he’d also never thought to ask his father questions until it was too late.

For instance, my grandfather had made only one mention (that anyone could remember) of his second cousin, Clara, who attended the theater with President Lincoln when he was assassinated.  After all, it was a hot day, and we were all going for ice cream…so the conversation ended short, and the subject was never broached again.  It was only just before he died – when he gave us the book of our family genealogy – that we realized how little Grandpa ever mentioned and how little we’d ever asked.

(Maybe, as this new year begins, we should add a resolution to ask our older family members questions like “Where were you when…?”  We might just find out how we got where we are now.)

After my grandfather’s talk with my father in the barn, the little wagon from 1913 was never seen again.  Perhaps, like the small sled “Rosebud” in the movie Citizen Kane, it sizzled into obscurity in a furnace where no one knew its history – and where no one had ever heard the song “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.

Every year at this time, traders at the New York Stock Exchange rededicate themselves to carrying on the 100-plus-year tradition of singing “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Sung on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s a yearly reminder of another story that originated over 100 years ago.

The story I have to tell begins with a little wagon – handcrafted in 1913 as a gift by John Henry for his young son Lynn, though his son would never see it.  For years it was stowed away, almost hidden, in John Henry’s barn.  When John Henry was much older, he pulled the wagon out from under the hay in the barn loft and told the story of the wagon to the first and only person to hear it.

He told a story of meeting and marrying a beautiful young wife, Nellie, and how she gave birth to their son, Lynn, and then to their daughter, Nellie May, three years later.  Nellie May was a strong, healthy baby.  Her mother, Nellie, as was sadly common in those days, died a few days after childbirth.  John Henry was now a widower, left alone to care for his two small children.

Somehow he managed, and well into the next summer, with increasing eagerness, he began working on a wagon for his son’s third birthday.  As bees buzzed and August grew hotter, a panic began to bubble, trickle, and then roar through town – just as the river split it.

A cholera epidemic was sweeping through the community.  Reports of the dead and dying gripped families in fear.  Suddenly, little Lynn was sick and dead before his father had even grasped what was happening – before he’d even gotten to see his wagon.  Anxiously, the father watched over Nellie May’s crib, hoping she would be spared.  She was not.  Within one week, he had lost both children.  This meant he had lost his entire family within the space of one year.

A newspaper article told of John Henry’s “extreme bereavement,” and the story spread to newspapers around the region.

How did the grief-stricken man find the faith to survive?  Surely it was his faith in God…and eventually the comfort of a widowed woman with whom he formed a special bond that turned into a lifelong love.

His marriage to Mina was a happy one that would produce five children.  Sometimes, though, when John Henry was especially happy, he would forget himself and sing the song he used to sing to the bride of his youth: “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Then he would catch himself and stop.

Though Mina knew she shouldn’t, she couldn’t help but feel almost hurt when she’d hear him singing it.  Since she and the children knew of his first family and the tragedy that had befallen them, the song inevitably formed an unspoken cloud of sadness as they were reminded of their father’s loss so many years before.

Besides the song that he’d sung to Nellie in happy times, John Henry never spoke of his first family – that is, until one day when he was in the barn with his youngest child, Benjamin, now a young man.  Perhaps it was because he was particularly close to Benjamin that he did it, but John Henry went to the loft and pulled out the little wagon – and talked about Lynn for the first and last time.  Benjamin would be the only one to hear the story of the ungiven gift and the only one to see the fine handiwork his father had created for a half-brother he’d never known.

One day, while still a child myself, I saw a news clip of the New York Stock Exchange and the traders singing “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”  Just beginning my lifelong love of old music, I decided to learn it and sing it for my parents.

As I began to sing, my parents looked shocked, stopped me, and wondered where on Earth I learned such an old song.  I told them about the stock exchange…but they simply suggested that it was best I didn’t sing it.

Finally, sometime in my teens, I asked why the “Nellie” song wasn’t to be sung in our house.  It was then that my mother told me the story of John Henry – my grandfather – and his first family.  Then she told me of the little wagon he had shown my father, Benjamin.  Now I understood why it was best that I not add the song to my repertoire.

My grandfather was born in 1887, and since he lived to a ripe old age, I was blessed to know him.  He visited us regularly.

Still, it seemed strange to me that an event that happened over sixty years before still carried any weight in my family.  Perhaps it was because of the disturbing reality that if that first family had lived, my father would have never been born.  My family would have never existed!

Due to a wide span of time, my grandfather and I did not share the Earth long enough for me to ask him all the questions I would have liked.  Even my father admitted that due to joining the Navy so young, then raising his own family, he’d also never thought to ask his father questions until it was too late.

For instance, my grandfather had made only one mention (that anyone could remember) of his second cousin, Clara, who attended the theater with President Lincoln when he was assassinated.  After all, it was a hot day, and we were all going for ice cream…so the conversation ended short, and the subject was never broached again.  It was only just before he died – when he gave us the book of our family genealogy – that we realized how little Grandpa ever mentioned and how little we’d ever asked.

(Maybe, as this new year begins, we should add a resolution to ask our older family members questions like “Where were you when…?”  We might just find out how we got where we are now.)

After my grandfather’s talk with my father in the barn, the little wagon from 1913 was never seen again.  Perhaps, like the small sled “Rosebud” in the movie Citizen Kane, it sizzled into obscurity in a furnace where no one knew its history – and where no one had ever heard the song “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.”

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.



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Mexico's Day of the Dead Takes Over Halloween


It’s practically official: The truly unique American Halloween experience has been forced to incorporate the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Elite globalists made a decision somewhere, somebody flipped a switch, and 2017 sees the dawn of the Day of the Dead in America.  Also known as “Dia de los Muertos,” it’s suddenly appearing in decorations, costumes, candy, magazine covers, games and any other place it can be crammed down our throats.  I’m sure some people in Southern states are aware of this holiday, but this year it’s been commercialized across the country.  I can personally confirm that Day of the Dead decorations have made it to stores near the Canadian border; leaving many hillbilly New Yorkers scratching their heads at the flowers and sugar skulls spilling off their local Halloween shelves.



 

There’s always going to be the puritan Christians who maintain that participation in any Halloween activity will send one straight to the devil.  However, I think everyone can agree there are many different roots to what grew into one of America’s biggest holidays.  (The National Retail Federation predicts we’ll spend a record $9.1 billion on Halloween festivities this year.)

Whatever it may have grown into, the Halloween fright night Americans came to know and love never involved anything even close to human sacrifices, or any solid belief in keeping departed souls scared off or welcoming others.  It’s good enough to say, as this article does, that: “The book Every Day’s a Holiday accurately observes that Halloween “probably combines more folk customs the world around than will ever be sorted out, catalogued and traced to their sources.”

That sums it up.  To me, Halloween was nothing more than a fun concoction with elements of the Brothers Grimm, a few old wives tales and certainly some pagan roots.  And pagan roots there must be to everything due to the fact that they were here first.  Painstakingly tracing pagan roots for every modern day celebration, in my humble opinion, leads one down a rabbit hole.

To the average American, Halloween has mostly been a childhood tradition of carving pumpkins, hanging spooky pictures, dressing in costumes and going door-to-door to collect candy.  If there was anything evil to that — most of us were none the wiser; and that simple truth left us innocent, happy, and unqualified to be condemned in any Judeo-Christian dictum for worshiping the golden calf.

If we are to adopt the Day of the Dead, (since the ‘forced globalization powers that be’ seem to be thrusting it upon us); we must now take our children to Grandpa’s grave and build an altar to him on November 2.  We must spend days baking and creating skeletons in a ton of different ways — in fabric, plastic, statues, dolls, face paint and edible sugar skulls.  These we place on Grandpa’s grave with a ton of flowers.  We put a picture of Grandpa on the altar.  We know he doesn’t look like the Grandpa we remember however; he’s just a skull and bones lying under that dirt now.  What a great way to remember him…to remember all our loved ones who’ve passed away.  We leave flower petals and light candles to guide Grandpa to his worm-infested tomb, because we really believe he’s coming back there for a visit.  We then take all the sweets and goodies (and crunchy grasshoppers) off Grandpa’s grave and eat them by candlelight; wash them down with a swig of tequila and dance.  They say it’s a beautiful thing.  (For some reason Shirley Jacksons’ The Monkey’s Paw comes to mind.)

It is the spiritual aspect of this I find most disturbing.  Building altars for the dead in order to lure them back for a visit is antithetic to traditional American Judeo-Christian beliefs.  One has to believe that this big push is part of a larger multicultural aim to erase the lines of our traditional belief system and smudge it into a nice globalist multi-colored blur.

From a Brain Games book to spandex leggings – you can click on this gallery of pictures of Day of the Dead merchandise in my area.  Even this month’s cover of Better Homes & Gardens implores you to “Celebrate the Day of the Dead.”  Inside they tell us the holiday is “finding new life north of the border” with its “vibrant decorations and seriously delicious food.”  It urges us to “bring a little passion” to our next party and learn about its traditions.  PBS host Pati Jinich explains “Sugar skulls defy death.  They take sadness and make it sweet.”  One page adorned only with skull-pierced cocktails explains how the celebration on Nov. 1 & 2 “has its origins in ancient Aztec times and ties in with All Saints Day and All Souls Day.”  Tying it into the Catholic Church apparently gives it the green light.

But the Day of the Dead is not All Saints Day or All Souls Day; and it’s not Halloween, and never will be.  Well, I may be wrong on that: I doubt an overtly secular society which reveres its zombie parties, video games and flesh-eating, blood-spattered cult culture will revolt against a “new” holiday that so fully embraces the death it already craves.

Promotion of the holiday began in 2008 when UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” took effect.  Mexico’s “Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead” was recognized for “the transitory return to Earth of deceased relatives and loved ones…Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery to their homes.”  Their statement continues:

This encounter between the living and the dead affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities… The fusion of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings together two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century.

At this point, things are starting to sound a little muddled.

UNESCO’s recognition came before the 2015 James Bond film, “Spectre.”  Filmed in Mexico City, the opening scene shows the villain running through a parade of skeleton-clad revelers.  In 2016, Mexico City had a not so indigenous first-ever parade, claiming the film inspired them to promote tourism with “floats, giant marionettes and hundreds of dancers and performers.”

Google Mexico produced “Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life” last year as a type of promotional video to educate us that the celebration was “breaking borders and gaining the attention of people worldwide.”

The unstated goal surely must be that by the time Walmart has a sugar skull on every table in America under the pretext of “Halloween,” we’ll realize we have much more in common with Mexico than a love of tamales.  We will feel the deeper spiritual connection and realize we are all one people with one heart and one faith — living in one borderless global village.  It might even help us Share the Journey of the legal and illegal immigrant, as we are conditioned to accept anyone who crosses our border with open arms and no walls.  It’s a win-win for everyone; at least that’s what the sugar skull told me.

It’s practically official: The truly unique American Halloween experience has been forced to incorporate the Mexican Day of the Dead.  Elite globalists made a decision somewhere, somebody flipped a switch, and 2017 sees the dawn of the Day of the Dead in America.  Also known as “Dia de los Muertos,” it’s suddenly appearing in decorations, costumes, candy, magazine covers, games and any other place it can be crammed down our throats.  I’m sure some people in Southern states are aware of this holiday, but this year it’s been commercialized across the country.  I can personally confirm that Day of the Dead decorations have made it to stores near the Canadian border; leaving many hillbilly New Yorkers scratching their heads at the flowers and sugar skulls spilling off their local Halloween shelves.



 

There’s always going to be the puritan Christians who maintain that participation in any Halloween activity will send one straight to the devil.  However, I think everyone can agree there are many different roots to what grew into one of America’s biggest holidays.  (The National Retail Federation predicts we’ll spend a record $9.1 billion on Halloween festivities this year.)

Whatever it may have grown into, the Halloween fright night Americans came to know and love never involved anything even close to human sacrifices, or any solid belief in keeping departed souls scared off or welcoming others.  It’s good enough to say, as this article does, that: “The book Every Day’s a Holiday accurately observes that Halloween “probably combines more folk customs the world around than will ever be sorted out, catalogued and traced to their sources.”

That sums it up.  To me, Halloween was nothing more than a fun concoction with elements of the Brothers Grimm, a few old wives tales and certainly some pagan roots.  And pagan roots there must be to everything due to the fact that they were here first.  Painstakingly tracing pagan roots for every modern day celebration, in my humble opinion, leads one down a rabbit hole.

To the average American, Halloween has mostly been a childhood tradition of carving pumpkins, hanging spooky pictures, dressing in costumes and going door-to-door to collect candy.  If there was anything evil to that — most of us were none the wiser; and that simple truth left us innocent, happy, and unqualified to be condemned in any Judeo-Christian dictum for worshiping the golden calf.

If we are to adopt the Day of the Dead, (since the ‘forced globalization powers that be’ seem to be thrusting it upon us); we must now take our children to Grandpa’s grave and build an altar to him on November 2.  We must spend days baking and creating skeletons in a ton of different ways — in fabric, plastic, statues, dolls, face paint and edible sugar skulls.  These we place on Grandpa’s grave with a ton of flowers.  We put a picture of Grandpa on the altar.  We know he doesn’t look like the Grandpa we remember however; he’s just a skull and bones lying under that dirt now.  What a great way to remember him…to remember all our loved ones who’ve passed away.  We leave flower petals and light candles to guide Grandpa to his worm-infested tomb, because we really believe he’s coming back there for a visit.  We then take all the sweets and goodies (and crunchy grasshoppers) off Grandpa’s grave and eat them by candlelight; wash them down with a swig of tequila and dance.  They say it’s a beautiful thing.  (For some reason Shirley Jacksons’ The Monkey’s Paw comes to mind.)

It is the spiritual aspect of this I find most disturbing.  Building altars for the dead in order to lure them back for a visit is antithetic to traditional American Judeo-Christian beliefs.  One has to believe that this big push is part of a larger multicultural aim to erase the lines of our traditional belief system and smudge it into a nice globalist multi-colored blur.

From a Brain Games book to spandex leggings – you can click on this gallery of pictures of Day of the Dead merchandise in my area.  Even this month’s cover of Better Homes & Gardens implores you to “Celebrate the Day of the Dead.”  Inside they tell us the holiday is “finding new life north of the border” with its “vibrant decorations and seriously delicious food.”  It urges us to “bring a little passion” to our next party and learn about its traditions.  PBS host Pati Jinich explains “Sugar skulls defy death.  They take sadness and make it sweet.”  One page adorned only with skull-pierced cocktails explains how the celebration on Nov. 1 & 2 “has its origins in ancient Aztec times and ties in with All Saints Day and All Souls Day.”  Tying it into the Catholic Church apparently gives it the green light.

But the Day of the Dead is not All Saints Day or All Souls Day; and it’s not Halloween, and never will be.  Well, I may be wrong on that: I doubt an overtly secular society which reveres its zombie parties, video games and flesh-eating, blood-spattered cult culture will revolt against a “new” holiday that so fully embraces the death it already craves.

Promotion of the holiday began in 2008 when UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” took effect.  Mexico’s “Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead” was recognized for “the transitory return to Earth of deceased relatives and loved ones…Families facilitate the return of the souls to Earth by laying flower petals, candles and offerings along the path leading from the cemetery to their homes.”  Their statement continues:

This encounter between the living and the dead affirms the role of the individual within society and contributes to reinforcing the political and social status of Mexico’s indigenous communities… The fusion of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Catholic feasts brings together two universes, one marked by indigenous belief systems, the other by worldviews introduced by the Europeans in the sixteenth century.

At this point, things are starting to sound a little muddled.

UNESCO’s recognition came before the 2015 James Bond film, “Spectre.”  Filmed in Mexico City, the opening scene shows the villain running through a parade of skeleton-clad revelers.  In 2016, Mexico City had a not so indigenous first-ever parade, claiming the film inspired them to promote tourism with “floats, giant marionettes and hundreds of dancers and performers.”

Google Mexico produced “Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life” last year as a type of promotional video to educate us that the celebration was “breaking borders and gaining the attention of people worldwide.”

The unstated goal surely must be that by the time Walmart has a sugar skull on every table in America under the pretext of “Halloween,” we’ll realize we have much more in common with Mexico than a love of tamales.  We will feel the deeper spiritual connection and realize we are all one people with one heart and one faith — living in one borderless global village.  It might even help us Share the Journey of the legal and illegal immigrant, as we are conditioned to accept anyone who crosses our border with open arms and no walls.  It’s a win-win for everyone; at least that’s what the sugar skull told me.



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The Most Absurd, Needless Cultural Suicide in History


With a family member seriously ill and confined to different hospitals recently, I’ve sought out hospital chapels to be alone and say prayers.  Or I should say I sought out the areas formerly known as “chapels.”  Now they are known as Interfaith Centers or Spiritual Care Areas or Meditation Rooms.  There is no Christian cross hanging in any of them lest someone be offended.  There are, however, Muslim prayer rugs and signs pointing toward Mecca.

In some of these spiritual areas you can write down a prayer for your loved one and put it in a prayer wheel: a cylindrical container that has instructions to “spin it” after you put in the tiny paper containing your prayer.  Though the wheels are of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is no telltale Sanskrit on the outside, or anything else indicating it’s anything other than a fun way to spin your prayer from your fingertips up to God, or some Creator, or whatever force you think will have some impact on your life.

There are tiny prayer rocks you can put in your pocket; pamphlets with inspiring verses from the Psalms, the Quran, the Talmud, a little Buddhist dharma thrown in and some Native American quotes about the Great Spirit to round out your peaceful ecumenical experience.  I suppose some people might lament that there is nothing for the atheists and Satan worshipers.  In at least one spiritual area, there were pamphlets with inspirational thoughts for pagans.

As I kneeled to pray, I didn’t know which way to face.  The front of the room held a table and vase filled with artificial flowers.  That wouldn’t do – I felt as though I were praying to Keats’ Grecian urn.  I turned the other direction, but Mecca didn’t seem an appropriate way to face either.  Two choices left – one direction faced an abstract painting that looked as though it had spilled out of someone’s troubled mind just before they’d purposely leapt from a window; the other direction faced some stacked chairs. 

Finding a Post-It note and a pencil, I drew a cross and stuck it to a panel behind the fake flowers in the front of the room.  I got down on my knees and faced it.  That’s when I saw the CCTV camera.  For a brief moment I panicked realizing I had just broken the rules and put a cross on public display.  I said my prayers and left, but noticed the tiny drawing was gone first thing the next morning.

I wandered into the back halls of the spiritual room in this great, large hospital in upstate New York.  They had dozens of Christian Bibles piled next to dozens of Qurans – all ready to be given to whoever was in spiritual need.  Two new unopened boxes of Qurans had just come in and were waiting to be stacked on the shelf.  There was one book labeled as a guide to Jewish prayer.

I take my Bible everywhere, so I never really need a room or a special place to talk to God.  But I do remember those places used to exist in hospitals — places where a Christian cross adorned the front of the room and a Bible lay open on a lectern for anyone to read.  When you walked in, a quiet reverence came over you because you believed that room to be blessed as a designated dwelling place for the presence of God.  There you could commune with a power that could bring about divine intervention.  I remember kneeling in some of those rooms, begging God to spare the life of a loved one; asking for mercy, forgiveness, or letting my tears fall onto a carpet where so many other’s had shed tears with similar pleadings.

But in these new touchy-feely, one-religion, one-world, global-peace-inspired rooms I feel…nothing.  It’s as though your mind, and even history itself, has been wiped clean of any memory of that God your parents talked about.  Then you angrily wonder what the hell happened while you were busy taking the kids to soccer practice.  If you have any sense of the gravity of what’s really happened, you feel like Charleton Heston riding up the beach and finding the Statue of Liberty broken and beleaguered in the sand: “You maniacs! You blew it up!…God damn you all to hell!”

The worst part was nobody seemed to care about little things like hospital chapels.  Our Christian chapels were replaced with generic meditation rooms containing not-so-generic Muslim prayer rugs, qiblah compasses and Buddhist prayer wheels and nobody dared peep in protest.  In fact, in many places, the moves were likely heralded as “interfaith solidarity.”

Such was the case with the sign I passed on my way home from the hospital.  With a Lutheran billboard as a backdrop proclaiming “Hallelujah Jesus Lives!” a sign below it proclaimed, “To our Muslim neighbors, Blessed Ramadan.”  I pulled into the parking lot to take a closer look.  The sign was a product of the New York State Council of Churches.  Apparently I didn’t notice them last year when they began popping up “in front of churches and synagogues, and on urban and suburban lawns across the Capital Region.”

An article in the Albany Times-Union last year waxed progressively poetic when it said the signs “were meant as a kind of metaphor, these small candles of interfaith solidarity lighted against the darkness of religious intolerance and racism.”  The article went on to say that, “They were a rebuke to anti-Islam rhetoric spouted by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.”  Apparently, it didn’t start out as a New York thing; the NYS Council of Churches got the idea from a Michigan counterpart, and it also comes up under other states Council of Churches’ organizations.  On the Minnesota website, you can “request a #BlessedRamadan sign” and also memorize what to say, verbatim, when you call to “tell Congress that you oppose Trump’s rewritten order to discriminate against refugees…”

I cannot follow the logic that leads to embracing diversity by ripping down crosses in hospital chapels, while Christians simultaneously stampede to the curb in order to be the first ones to wave “Blessed Ramadan” to their passing Muslim neighbors.

Maybe it’s time for everyone to come clean about their true intentions: To discard all individual religions in the name of peace and form that one universal religion that the United Nations has been clamoring for.  The idiocy is the Vatican thinks it’s going to be able to hold a rosary in one hand and a Quran in the other; and the Lutherans think all they have to do is take pork out of their church suppers and the Muslims will be their BFFs.  Meanwhile, Muslims have no intention of capitulating, and the West mistakenly thinks it can integrate Islam into everyday life the same way it successfully absorbed Yoga, Reiki and Feng shui.

We are watching the most absurd, needless and naïve cultural suicide in history.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.

With a family member seriously ill and confined to different hospitals recently, I’ve sought out hospital chapels to be alone and say prayers.  Or I should say I sought out the areas formerly known as “chapels.”  Now they are known as Interfaith Centers or Spiritual Care Areas or Meditation Rooms.  There is no Christian cross hanging in any of them lest someone be offended.  There are, however, Muslim prayer rugs and signs pointing toward Mecca.

In some of these spiritual areas you can write down a prayer for your loved one and put it in a prayer wheel: a cylindrical container that has instructions to “spin it” after you put in the tiny paper containing your prayer.  Though the wheels are of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is no telltale Sanskrit on the outside, or anything else indicating it’s anything other than a fun way to spin your prayer from your fingertips up to God, or some Creator, or whatever force you think will have some impact on your life.

There are tiny prayer rocks you can put in your pocket; pamphlets with inspiring verses from the Psalms, the Quran, the Talmud, a little Buddhist dharma thrown in and some Native American quotes about the Great Spirit to round out your peaceful ecumenical experience.  I suppose some people might lament that there is nothing for the atheists and Satan worshipers.  In at least one spiritual area, there were pamphlets with inspirational thoughts for pagans.

As I kneeled to pray, I didn’t know which way to face.  The front of the room held a table and vase filled with artificial flowers.  That wouldn’t do – I felt as though I were praying to Keats’ Grecian urn.  I turned the other direction, but Mecca didn’t seem an appropriate way to face either.  Two choices left – one direction faced an abstract painting that looked as though it had spilled out of someone’s troubled mind just before they’d purposely leapt from a window; the other direction faced some stacked chairs. 

Finding a Post-It note and a pencil, I drew a cross and stuck it to a panel behind the fake flowers in the front of the room.  I got down on my knees and faced it.  That’s when I saw the CCTV camera.  For a brief moment I panicked realizing I had just broken the rules and put a cross on public display.  I said my prayers and left, but noticed the tiny drawing was gone first thing the next morning.

I wandered into the back halls of the spiritual room in this great, large hospital in upstate New York.  They had dozens of Christian Bibles piled next to dozens of Qurans – all ready to be given to whoever was in spiritual need.  Two new unopened boxes of Qurans had just come in and were waiting to be stacked on the shelf.  There was one book labeled as a guide to Jewish prayer.

I take my Bible everywhere, so I never really need a room or a special place to talk to God.  But I do remember those places used to exist in hospitals — places where a Christian cross adorned the front of the room and a Bible lay open on a lectern for anyone to read.  When you walked in, a quiet reverence came over you because you believed that room to be blessed as a designated dwelling place for the presence of God.  There you could commune with a power that could bring about divine intervention.  I remember kneeling in some of those rooms, begging God to spare the life of a loved one; asking for mercy, forgiveness, or letting my tears fall onto a carpet where so many other’s had shed tears with similar pleadings.

But in these new touchy-feely, one-religion, one-world, global-peace-inspired rooms I feel…nothing.  It’s as though your mind, and even history itself, has been wiped clean of any memory of that God your parents talked about.  Then you angrily wonder what the hell happened while you were busy taking the kids to soccer practice.  If you have any sense of the gravity of what’s really happened, you feel like Charleton Heston riding up the beach and finding the Statue of Liberty broken and beleaguered in the sand: “You maniacs! You blew it up!…God damn you all to hell!”

The worst part was nobody seemed to care about little things like hospital chapels.  Our Christian chapels were replaced with generic meditation rooms containing not-so-generic Muslim prayer rugs, qiblah compasses and Buddhist prayer wheels and nobody dared peep in protest.  In fact, in many places, the moves were likely heralded as “interfaith solidarity.”

Such was the case with the sign I passed on my way home from the hospital.  With a Lutheran billboard as a backdrop proclaiming “Hallelujah Jesus Lives!” a sign below it proclaimed, “To our Muslim neighbors, Blessed Ramadan.”  I pulled into the parking lot to take a closer look.  The sign was a product of the New York State Council of Churches.  Apparently I didn’t notice them last year when they began popping up “in front of churches and synagogues, and on urban and suburban lawns across the Capital Region.”

An article in the Albany Times-Union last year waxed progressively poetic when it said the signs “were meant as a kind of metaphor, these small candles of interfaith solidarity lighted against the darkness of religious intolerance and racism.”  The article went on to say that, “They were a rebuke to anti-Islam rhetoric spouted by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.”  Apparently, it didn’t start out as a New York thing; the NYS Council of Churches got the idea from a Michigan counterpart, and it also comes up under other states Council of Churches’ organizations.  On the Minnesota website, you can “request a #BlessedRamadan sign” and also memorize what to say, verbatim, when you call to “tell Congress that you oppose Trump’s rewritten order to discriminate against refugees…”

I cannot follow the logic that leads to embracing diversity by ripping down crosses in hospital chapels, while Christians simultaneously stampede to the curb in order to be the first ones to wave “Blessed Ramadan” to their passing Muslim neighbors.

Maybe it’s time for everyone to come clean about their true intentions: To discard all individual religions in the name of peace and form that one universal religion that the United Nations has been clamoring for.  The idiocy is the Vatican thinks it’s going to be able to hold a rosary in one hand and a Quran in the other; and the Lutherans think all they have to do is take pork out of their church suppers and the Muslims will be their BFFs.  Meanwhile, Muslims have no intention of capitulating, and the West mistakenly thinks it can integrate Islam into everyday life the same way it successfully absorbed Yoga, Reiki and Feng shui.

We are watching the most absurd, needless and naïve cultural suicide in history.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.



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Catholics and Muslims: Too Close for Comfort?


So when I recently attended a Catholic Mass and realized there were people talking about Jesus Christ every day of the week, I loved it!  At this particular church, everything seemed centered on Jesus.  (One of the Protestants’ biggest gripes with Catholics involves what is commonly called “Mary worship,” but I decided to let the chips fall where they may and focus on the risen Savior.  Mary could come along for the ride; after all, she is blessed among women.)

I knew also that the diocese of my area was adamantly supporting their sanctuary city, and that I had personally watched Catholic Charities busing in immigrants for years, most of them Muslim.  However, a Catholic friend convinced me I was attending Mass for Jesus’s sake, and suggested I ignore my larger social concerns.

So I continued on the path of the independent Christian…there are many of us…feeling betrayed by organized religions, but popping into whatever church has an unlocked door to kneel in front of the universal sign of the crucified Christ.

You’ll soon see the great irony is that these events happened to me just days after I’d written about parishioners who’d complained about a priest for warning his students against Islam. Thus begins my account, and I have chosen not to give specifics:

I missed Mass nearby, so I decided to seek out a more distant historical church that a Google search told me had Mass at noon.  It exuded classical 19th century ambience, and thrust up quintessential spires trying to reach heaven.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered if the Internet was mistaken on the Mass time.  I was ten minutes early; but there were only about five cars.  I tugged on all the doors I could find, but they were locked. The day was dark and dreary, and a light rain began to make everything feel surreal.m. Thus begins my account, and I have chosen not to give specifics:

The main Catholic Church, which I’ll call Fill-In-The-Name, was connected by a corridor to another building that faced the church. Above that large building it read: “Fill-In-The-Name Parish Center.” As a last resort to find people, I opened the door beneath the sign. I thought it strange it was made of purely heavy solid metal. I walked in and saw a large room filled with about 200 plastic chairs and tables. A shabbily dressed old man sat dozing against the wall.

“Excuse me, I thought Mass was supposed to start at noon, but the church doors all seem to be locked.” I said.

“What are you looking for?” he asked, looking confused. He spoke without an accent and looked like anybody’s grandpa… on a bad day.

Just then a woman in street clothes came out of nowhere and asked me what I was looking for. She didn’t speak with an accent either, but she too was confused and explained they had nothing to do with “that” — pointing to the connected main church.

“But that’s crazy; it’s all part of the same building.  How could you not know what I’m talking about?”  I asked.

Just then, the man stood up and declared:  “Take her to the sister!”

“This way!”

“Oh thank goodness,” I said, “A sister! She can help me.”

“Well,” the man said quietly, “she’s our sister.”  At this point I seriously wondered if all three of these people were related.  There were no clues to warn me of what I would find.

After walking down long corridors I was ushered into an office that was filled to the brim with books — all embossed with gold Arabic writing.  In the middle of the room sat a dark Muslim woman dressed all in black, with only her face visible.  She stood quickly and faced me:  “What do you want?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m just here for Mass and I must have stumbled into the wrong place.  You see, all the church doors were locked.”

She walked quickly towards me and kept asking with a thick accent, “Where did you come from? What door did you come in?”  I told her but it wasn’t good enough.  “Show me,” she said.  She never smiled once.  With her demeanor questionable at best, I was becoming very uncomfortable holding a hymn book and a Bible with a cross prominently hanging around my neck.  I pointed.  “That door.”  She then had me follow her to it as quickly as possible.  Before I knew it we were outside.  I was looking up at the “Parish Center” sign over the door as she said, “This door is supposed to be locked!  We have a school here.  We just rent.  I don’t know anything about that church, but there’s a man there who can tell you.”  She disappeared after pointing to another scruffy-looking man hurrying across the parking lot with a box.

I approached him and said, “Wow.  This is all very odd.  Is there a Mass here at noon?”

“I think so; there’s one door unlocked to the main church over there…”

“So… am I to understand that the entire large building connected to the Catholic Church is a Muslim school?” I asked.  He rolled his eyes and kind of whispered, “Yeah. It sure is.”  He confirmed “Fill-In-The-Name” church rented it to them.  “It’s all pretty strange,” he said before scurrying away.

I went into “Fill-In-The-Name” church and there were a handful of people sitting in a pew.  The inside was gorgeous; the stained glass windows breathtaking.  A woman standing at the end of a pew looked annoyed and asked, “Are you here for confession too?”  I told her no, I was there for Mass.

“Oh I think they have that in the little room at the top of the stairs,” she said pointing away from the sanctuary.

She appeared to be a regular middle-class white woman, and I asked if she were a parishioner at this church.  She was.  Still stymied, I asked her if it was true that half the church was rented as a Muslim school.  She said it was.

So… I’d come all that way and was going to have Mass in a little room far away from the historic sanctuary… but looking out onto an apparently large Muslim school?  A school I had mistakenly entered, felt interrogated in, and escorted from in a not-so-friendly manner?  No way.

“Forget it. Thank you.”  I said and headed for the door.

“Why are you leaving?” the woman shouted irreverently down the holy aisle.  “Because of them?” she asked pointing toward the school.

“No; because of Jesus Christ.” I answered.

“He’s over there, too!” she yelled, still pointing toward the school.

“No. He’s not.”  I retorted.  Muslims respect Jesus; but to me he is my Lord and Savior, the son of the living God.

She loudly condemned me:  “Oh you are terrible.  You are bad!  Those are nice and good people over there!”

“I didn’t say they weren’t,” I answered, “but my faith is not here.”

I contemplated how large that school was.  How many Muslims were being educated?

I realized I would never again feel comfortable walking into any Christian church just because it was labeled as such.  That large church was but a relic of the past.  There wasn’t really anyone there for Mass; only a handful of sinners looking to recite their sins.  In my memory now, they seem like a missing episode of The Twilight Zone… every day the clock strikes noon they are condemned to relive fighting each other to get into the confessional booth.

As for the Muslims, they’d better start collecting more Catholic churches and plastic chairs.  After all, they are growing “more than twice as fast as the overall world population.”

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com

Having been in the hospital on and off for the last few months, even thinking once that I might die, I found myself, as many people do, delving deeper into my faith.

I was raised by my parents with a strong Protestant faith, but have long felt abandoned by increasingly liberal Protestant churches — open for worship one hour per week; while concurrently promoting the hottest young Christian singers to draw in the young folks.  That’s my take on it; but I know many would disagree.

So when I recently attended a Catholic Mass and realized there were people talking about Jesus Christ every day of the week, I loved it!  At this particular church, everything seemed centered on Jesus.  (One of the Protestants’ biggest gripes with Catholics involves what is commonly called “Mary worship,” but I decided to let the chips fall where they may and focus on the risen Savior.  Mary could come along for the ride; after all, she is blessed among women.)

I knew also that the diocese of my area was adamantly supporting their sanctuary city, and that I had personally watched Catholic Charities busing in immigrants for years, most of them Muslim.  However, a Catholic friend convinced me I was attending Mass for Jesus’s sake, and suggested I ignore my larger social concerns.

So I continued on the path of the independent Christian…there are many of us…feeling betrayed by organized religions, but popping into whatever church has an unlocked door to kneel in front of the universal sign of the crucified Christ.

You’ll soon see the great irony is that these events happened to me just days after I’d written about parishioners who’d complained about a priest for warning his students against Islam. Thus begins my account, and I have chosen not to give specifics:

I missed Mass nearby, so I decided to seek out a more distant historical church that a Google search told me had Mass at noon.  It exuded classical 19th century ambience, and thrust up quintessential spires trying to reach heaven.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I wondered if the Internet was mistaken on the Mass time.  I was ten minutes early; but there were only about five cars.  I tugged on all the doors I could find, but they were locked. The day was dark and dreary, and a light rain began to make everything feel surreal.m. Thus begins my account, and I have chosen not to give specifics:

The main Catholic Church, which I’ll call Fill-In-The-Name, was connected by a corridor to another building that faced the church. Above that large building it read: “Fill-In-The-Name Parish Center.” As a last resort to find people, I opened the door beneath the sign. I thought it strange it was made of purely heavy solid metal. I walked in and saw a large room filled with about 200 plastic chairs and tables. A shabbily dressed old man sat dozing against the wall.

“Excuse me, I thought Mass was supposed to start at noon, but the church doors all seem to be locked.” I said.

“What are you looking for?” he asked, looking confused. He spoke without an accent and looked like anybody’s grandpa… on a bad day.

Just then a woman in street clothes came out of nowhere and asked me what I was looking for. She didn’t speak with an accent either, but she too was confused and explained they had nothing to do with “that” — pointing to the connected main church.

“But that’s crazy; it’s all part of the same building.  How could you not know what I’m talking about?”  I asked.

Just then, the man stood up and declared:  “Take her to the sister!”

“This way!”

“Oh thank goodness,” I said, “A sister! She can help me.”

“Well,” the man said quietly, “she’s our sister.”  At this point I seriously wondered if all three of these people were related.  There were no clues to warn me of what I would find.

After walking down long corridors I was ushered into an office that was filled to the brim with books — all embossed with gold Arabic writing.  In the middle of the room sat a dark Muslim woman dressed all in black, with only her face visible.  She stood quickly and faced me:  “What do you want?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m just here for Mass and I must have stumbled into the wrong place.  You see, all the church doors were locked.”

She walked quickly towards me and kept asking with a thick accent, “Where did you come from? What door did you come in?”  I told her but it wasn’t good enough.  “Show me,” she said.  She never smiled once.  With her demeanor questionable at best, I was becoming very uncomfortable holding a hymn book and a Bible with a cross prominently hanging around my neck.  I pointed.  “That door.”  She then had me follow her to it as quickly as possible.  Before I knew it we were outside.  I was looking up at the “Parish Center” sign over the door as she said, “This door is supposed to be locked!  We have a school here.  We just rent.  I don’t know anything about that church, but there’s a man there who can tell you.”  She disappeared after pointing to another scruffy-looking man hurrying across the parking lot with a box.

I approached him and said, “Wow.  This is all very odd.  Is there a Mass here at noon?”

“I think so; there’s one door unlocked to the main church over there…”

“So… am I to understand that the entire large building connected to the Catholic Church is a Muslim school?” I asked.  He rolled his eyes and kind of whispered, “Yeah. It sure is.”  He confirmed “Fill-In-The-Name” church rented it to them.  “It’s all pretty strange,” he said before scurrying away.

I went into “Fill-In-The-Name” church and there were a handful of people sitting in a pew.  The inside was gorgeous; the stained glass windows breathtaking.  A woman standing at the end of a pew looked annoyed and asked, “Are you here for confession too?”  I told her no, I was there for Mass.

“Oh I think they have that in the little room at the top of the stairs,” she said pointing away from the sanctuary.

She appeared to be a regular middle-class white woman, and I asked if she were a parishioner at this church.  She was.  Still stymied, I asked her if it was true that half the church was rented as a Muslim school.  She said it was.

So… I’d come all that way and was going to have Mass in a little room far away from the historic sanctuary… but looking out onto an apparently large Muslim school?  A school I had mistakenly entered, felt interrogated in, and escorted from in a not-so-friendly manner?  No way.

“Forget it. Thank you.”  I said and headed for the door.

“Why are you leaving?” the woman shouted irreverently down the holy aisle.  “Because of them?” she asked pointing toward the school.

“No; because of Jesus Christ.” I answered.

“He’s over there, too!” she yelled, still pointing toward the school.

“No. He’s not.”  I retorted.  Muslims respect Jesus; but to me he is my Lord and Savior, the son of the living God.

She loudly condemned me:  “Oh you are terrible.  You are bad!  Those are nice and good people over there!”

“I didn’t say they weren’t,” I answered, “but my faith is not here.”

I contemplated how large that school was.  How many Muslims were being educated?

I realized I would never again feel comfortable walking into any Christian church just because it was labeled as such.  That large church was but a relic of the past.  There wasn’t really anyone there for Mass; only a handful of sinners looking to recite their sins.  In my memory now, they seem like a missing episode of The Twilight Zone… every day the clock strikes noon they are condemned to relive fighting each other to get into the confessional booth.

As for the Muslims, they’d better start collecting more Catholic churches and plastic chairs.  After all, they are growing “more than twice as fast as the overall world population.”

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com



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Another Day, Another Apology to Muslims


“Don’t listen to liberals, because the Muslims will cut your heads off.” That’s the comment that warranted the KRQE headline, “Parents accuse Belen priest of making discriminatory comments against Muslims.” Apparently no one had a problem with the “don’t listen to liberals” part. Instead, being well trained in political correctness, it was the moment Fr. Jonas Romea, a priest in Belen, New Mexico, told a group of pre-K to eighth grade Catholic kids that there were Muslims terrorists that caused the problem. Specifically mentioning Muslims cutting “heads off” was when parents became terribly offended on behalf of Islam. The next thing you know, a reporter at KOAT Action News was asking Fr. Romea if he didn’t think his remarks were “Islamophobia?” Fr. Romea said that he denied that label, and strengthened his point by saying: “Recent reports out of the Middle East show that Catholics around the world are under attack. The news pieces that we get… from there tell us that actually, Christians are being slaughtered.”

KRQE reported that after receiving complaints about Fr. Romea’s remarks (made during a homily to students at Our Lady of Belen Church,) the “Archdiocese of Santa Fe sent out a letter to parents saying the homily didn’t fully embrace the message of Jesus Christ.”

Later, Fr. Romea sparred with KOAT reporter David Carl asking, “Are all people burglars? No, not all people are burglars. But my next question is, do you lock your doors at night?”

Carl responds, “I do. I do. So are you lumping in Muslims as burglars? Are you making an equivalency there?” Carl knows better, but with progressively tweaked critical thinking techniques designed to disarm traditional reasoning, Fr. Romea is easily mocked, then easily silenced with a craftily edited interview. By this time, he has been so intimidated — by someone or some governing body — that he will not even name “that religion that he mentioned” — Islam.

The original story aired March 30th. By April 12th, Fr. Romea issued what some local people told me they believed to be a “coerced apology” which can be read here; and by April 28th he found himself terminated from the diocese. (This fact was told me by someone who had spoken directly with Fr. Romea himself, and was also present during the April 30th mass where Fr. Romea’s departure was discussed. There has been no official statement from the diocese.)

Romea’s apology contained the sentence: “I have come to realize that the Islamic Faith is not to be equated with terrorism and vice-versa.”

Sadly, 84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel didn’t get a chance to concur with that statement, having had his throat slit by ISIS militants less than a year ago during a quiet morning Mass. One has to wonder what kind of internal spiritual struggles these Catholic Christian leaders are suffering as the world keeps forcing them to the ground — symbolically or literally — to grovel toward Mecca.

In New Mexico, the incident took on an overtly political tone when former senator Michael Sanchez reportedly shone a spotlight on it by Tweeting what happened “wasn’t right” and that he “stands with Muslims.”

Stories of priests being silenced as they try to speak against Islam aren’t new, but aren’t abating either. Earlier this month, the diocese of Orlando, Florida reprimanded a priest for teaching his students about Muhammed from the writings of Catholic Saint John Bosco. The story, not surprisingly unearthed by the Huffington Post’s Documenting Hate Project, ended with the Orlando diocese stating “the information provided in the sixth grade class is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

This past February, the Rev. Peter West, pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in Orange, NJ made news calling moderate Islam “a myth” and openly supported President Trump’s travel ban, (though its characteristics changed over time.) A spokesman for that diocese said, “…we are concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”

Journalist Mark Mueller, writing for NJ.com, told his readers:

(Father West’s) attacks, while popular with many of his 7,300 Facebook followers from around the country, run counter to the statements and philosophies of his own leader, Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, and his ultimate boss, Pope Francis.

What is really happening in small Catholic dioceses across the country, one can only guess; but you can be sure the politically-correct thought police are on duty everywhere.

Looking beyond our borders, we see precedents in places like Germany — where a Catholic priest was banned from preaching after speaking at an anti-Islamization protest; and a priest arrested in France for being “too hard” on Islam, and having his website shut down.

It is the greatest irony that while there is no known Catholic priest, nor adherent of Catholicism, that has been charged with beheading a Muslim in modern times, that those who warn against Islam are the targets of censure and ridicule by their own societies. Instead of shouting “never again” to the ideological/religious perpetrators of such violence, Americans robotically repeat “not every Muslim is an extremist!” Strangely, this phrase seems to have been beaten into us harder than the sharp edge of every reported “radical Muslim” sword that has slaughtered man, woman, and child around the globe.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com

“Don’t listen to liberals, because the Muslims will cut your heads off.” That’s the comment that warranted the KRQE headline, “Parents accuse Belen priest of making discriminatory comments against Muslims.” Apparently no one had a problem with the “don’t listen to liberals” part. Instead, being well trained in political correctness, it was the moment Fr. Jonas Romea, a priest in Belen, New Mexico, told a group of pre-K to eighth grade Catholic kids that there were Muslims terrorists that caused the problem. Specifically mentioning Muslims cutting “heads off” was when parents became terribly offended on behalf of Islam. The next thing you know, a reporter at KOAT Action News was asking Fr. Romea if he didn’t think his remarks were “Islamophobia?” Fr. Romea said that he denied that label, and strengthened his point by saying: “Recent reports out of the Middle East show that Catholics around the world are under attack. The news pieces that we get… from there tell us that actually, Christians are being slaughtered.”

KRQE reported that after receiving complaints about Fr. Romea’s remarks (made during a homily to students at Our Lady of Belen Church,) the “Archdiocese of Santa Fe sent out a letter to parents saying the homily didn’t fully embrace the message of Jesus Christ.”

Later, Fr. Romea sparred with KOAT reporter David Carl asking, “Are all people burglars? No, not all people are burglars. But my next question is, do you lock your doors at night?”

Carl responds, “I do. I do. So are you lumping in Muslims as burglars? Are you making an equivalency there?” Carl knows better, but with progressively tweaked critical thinking techniques designed to disarm traditional reasoning, Fr. Romea is easily mocked, then easily silenced with a craftily edited interview. By this time, he has been so intimidated — by someone or some governing body — that he will not even name “that religion that he mentioned” — Islam.

The original story aired March 30th. By April 12th, Fr. Romea issued what some local people told me they believed to be a “coerced apology” which can be read here; and by April 28th he found himself terminated from the diocese. (This fact was told me by someone who had spoken directly with Fr. Romea himself, and was also present during the April 30th mass where Fr. Romea’s departure was discussed. There has been no official statement from the diocese.)

Romea’s apology contained the sentence: “I have come to realize that the Islamic Faith is not to be equated with terrorism and vice-versa.”

Sadly, 84-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel didn’t get a chance to concur with that statement, having had his throat slit by ISIS militants less than a year ago during a quiet morning Mass. One has to wonder what kind of internal spiritual struggles these Catholic Christian leaders are suffering as the world keeps forcing them to the ground — symbolically or literally — to grovel toward Mecca.

In New Mexico, the incident took on an overtly political tone when former senator Michael Sanchez reportedly shone a spotlight on it by Tweeting what happened “wasn’t right” and that he “stands with Muslims.”

Stories of priests being silenced as they try to speak against Islam aren’t new, but aren’t abating either. Earlier this month, the diocese of Orlando, Florida reprimanded a priest for teaching his students about Muhammed from the writings of Catholic Saint John Bosco. The story, not surprisingly unearthed by the Huffington Post’s Documenting Hate Project, ended with the Orlando diocese stating “the information provided in the sixth grade class is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

This past February, the Rev. Peter West, pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in Orange, NJ made news calling moderate Islam “a myth” and openly supported President Trump’s travel ban, (though its characteristics changed over time.) A spokesman for that diocese said, “…we are concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”

Journalist Mark Mueller, writing for NJ.com, told his readers:

(Father West’s) attacks, while popular with many of his 7,300 Facebook followers from around the country, run counter to the statements and philosophies of his own leader, Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, and his ultimate boss, Pope Francis.

What is really happening in small Catholic dioceses across the country, one can only guess; but you can be sure the politically-correct thought police are on duty everywhere.

Looking beyond our borders, we see precedents in places like Germany — where a Catholic priest was banned from preaching after speaking at an anti-Islamization protest; and a priest arrested in France for being “too hard” on Islam, and having his website shut down.

It is the greatest irony that while there is no known Catholic priest, nor adherent of Catholicism, that has been charged with beheading a Muslim in modern times, that those who warn against Islam are the targets of censure and ridicule by their own societies. Instead of shouting “never again” to the ideological/religious perpetrators of such violence, Americans robotically repeat “not every Muslim is an extremist!” Strangely, this phrase seems to have been beaten into us harder than the sharp edge of every reported “radical Muslim” sword that has slaughtered man, woman, and child around the globe.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com



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Growing Up American: Easter, the Story That Can Never Die


Every year at Easter there are those predictable Puritans who come forward to educate us on that holiday’s pagan origins.

In an example from as far back as an 1877 newspaper, an article slyly titled, “Easter Traditions: Interesting Notes for the Festival,” draws the reader in with talk of “that most ancient of Christian festivals.”  The writer, perhaps the Alex Jones of the 19th Century, then springs his trap and exposes the truth of Easter’s “heathenish origins,” lecturing readers on Ēostre, Astarte, and variations of the goddess Ishtar.

This revelation continues unabated every year, though I don’t think it’s stopped one chocolate bunny or colored egg from appearing on Christian tables across the world.  In fact, writer Anthony McRoy made an interesting case against the Pagan/Easter synthesis in this 2009 article.

My parents were, however, happily unaware or decidedly apathetic about such controversies, and we children were delighted with the finest garnishments, candies and tiny toys that any Easter basket could contain.

Palmer was always the Easter chocolate of choice in our family, with Baby Binks, Parsnip Pete and Peter Rabbit being the most enjoyed basket centerpieces.  (Peter Rabbit’s package still contains a tiny booklet with the original Beatrix Potter story, and I gasped again just this year while rereading it, having forgotten that Mrs. McGregor had actually baked Peter’s father in a pie after an “accident” in the garden!)

Tiny, brightly colored foil eggs scattered through fake grass provided more chocolate to be picked through in coming days.  A plush stuffed animal; tiny plastic toys that you wound up or pulled back and let loose — including the quintessential bunny-in-a-carrot car — made up the remainder of goodies. Silly Putty, that unexplainably fun silicon polymer (which everyone said had been to outer space!) was a staple too.  In addition to stretching, snapping, rolling and bouncing it, you could press it down on the “funny papers” and make an exact color replica of a newspaper cartoon. It was magical.

I believed in the Easter bunny; and growing up in the country made it easy to imagine him slipping down from the seclusion of the evergreens on yonder hill, or sneaking his way up from the field where the apple tree stood barren from the long winter.  For some reason, however, I was convinced he had a hideout somewhere on the wooded hill near the train trestle that crossed the road about a half a mile away.

One reason I was so sure the Easter bunny existed was because of a great act of kindness he showed me when I was very young.  I was at home with my mother, a homemaker, a few days before Easter.  I lay on the couch slowly recuperating from some childhood illness.  My mother was sitting nearby, watching TV with me.  (If I were older and wiser, I would have known this was odd because my mother never stood still long enough to watch TV; there were too many chores to do.)  Suddenly there was a series of loud raps at the back door.  My mother sat forward and looked alarmingly at the door.  “What was that?  Who could that possibly be?” she asked.  She got up and walked hesitantly toward the door while I followed closely behind.

Yet again too young to be suspicious, I didn’t think it odd when she told me to open the door and let her know if I saw anyone.  I opened the door – and I shall never forget it – there was a grand Easter basket that held coloring books, a new box of Crayola crayons, and a couple of small toys.  I was thrilled!  My mother explained the Easter bunny must have known I was sick and brought some things a few days early.  He had rapped on the door with his big fast feet, then ran away quickly so as not to be seen.  To this day, I can still hear that rabbit’s foot rapping at that door, and though my mother continues to insist she made the noise, I’m still not sure I believe her.

My parents loved Easter, and my mother started an Easter morning tradition which hard-core critics might call pagan:  She would tell us children to go outside and bring back the first sign of spring.  This usually entailed some pussy willows or a twig of tree buds; but on at least one occasion a frog had to be herded out of the kitchen.

Such evidence of the earth’s rebirth was an important lesson — that after the harshest, coldest winter; after things had died…God could bring forth new life.

And while the bunny’s baskets and some new spring clothes excited us, it was the mystery on the table that held us in awe year after year:  The large family Bible opened to the story of the Resurrection; illuminated by flickering taper candles.  Behind it stood the large wooden cross my father had made especially for Easter — suddenly draped with a bright white cloth, replacing the somber purple that had been there since Good Friday.  Now surrounded by lilies which were absent the night before, and a sign my mother had carefully placed above it which read:  “He Is Risen!”

This was indeed the focus of it all, and as my parents talked of the huge stone that was rolled away and an empty tomb, we children felt we had a front row seat to a supernatural event that had just occurred — not a 2000 year old musty narrative.

The story, it turns out, can never die; because every year it is born again.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.SusanDHarris.com

 

Every year at Easter there are those predictable Puritans who come forward to educate us on that holiday’s pagan origins.

In an example from as far back as an 1877 newspaper, an article slyly titled, “Easter Traditions: Interesting Notes for the Festival,” draws the reader in with talk of “that most ancient of Christian festivals.”  The writer, perhaps the Alex Jones of the 19th Century, then springs his trap and exposes the truth of Easter’s “heathenish origins,” lecturing readers on Ēostre, Astarte, and variations of the goddess Ishtar.

This revelation continues unabated every year, though I don’t think it’s stopped one chocolate bunny or colored egg from appearing on Christian tables across the world.  In fact, writer Anthony McRoy made an interesting case against the Pagan/Easter synthesis in this 2009 article.

My parents were, however, happily unaware or decidedly apathetic about such controversies, and we children were delighted with the finest garnishments, candies and tiny toys that any Easter basket could contain.

Palmer was always the Easter chocolate of choice in our family, with Baby Binks, Parsnip Pete and Peter Rabbit being the most enjoyed basket centerpieces.  (Peter Rabbit’s package still contains a tiny booklet with the original Beatrix Potter story, and I gasped again just this year while rereading it, having forgotten that Mrs. McGregor had actually baked Peter’s father in a pie after an “accident” in the garden!)

Tiny, brightly colored foil eggs scattered through fake grass provided more chocolate to be picked through in coming days.  A plush stuffed animal; tiny plastic toys that you wound up or pulled back and let loose — including the quintessential bunny-in-a-carrot car — made up the remainder of goodies. Silly Putty, that unexplainably fun silicon polymer (which everyone said had been to outer space!) was a staple too.  In addition to stretching, snapping, rolling and bouncing it, you could press it down on the “funny papers” and make an exact color replica of a newspaper cartoon. It was magical.

I believed in the Easter bunny; and growing up in the country made it easy to imagine him slipping down from the seclusion of the evergreens on yonder hill, or sneaking his way up from the field where the apple tree stood barren from the long winter.  For some reason, however, I was convinced he had a hideout somewhere on the wooded hill near the train trestle that crossed the road about a half a mile away.

One reason I was so sure the Easter bunny existed was because of a great act of kindness he showed me when I was very young.  I was at home with my mother, a homemaker, a few days before Easter.  I lay on the couch slowly recuperating from some childhood illness.  My mother was sitting nearby, watching TV with me.  (If I were older and wiser, I would have known this was odd because my mother never stood still long enough to watch TV; there were too many chores to do.)  Suddenly there was a series of loud raps at the back door.  My mother sat forward and looked alarmingly at the door.  “What was that?  Who could that possibly be?” she asked.  She got up and walked hesitantly toward the door while I followed closely behind.

Yet again too young to be suspicious, I didn’t think it odd when she told me to open the door and let her know if I saw anyone.  I opened the door – and I shall never forget it – there was a grand Easter basket that held coloring books, a new box of Crayola crayons, and a couple of small toys.  I was thrilled!  My mother explained the Easter bunny must have known I was sick and brought some things a few days early.  He had rapped on the door with his big fast feet, then ran away quickly so as not to be seen.  To this day, I can still hear that rabbit’s foot rapping at that door, and though my mother continues to insist she made the noise, I’m still not sure I believe her.

My parents loved Easter, and my mother started an Easter morning tradition which hard-core critics might call pagan:  She would tell us children to go outside and bring back the first sign of spring.  This usually entailed some pussy willows or a twig of tree buds; but on at least one occasion a frog had to be herded out of the kitchen.

Such evidence of the earth’s rebirth was an important lesson — that after the harshest, coldest winter; after things had died…God could bring forth new life.

And while the bunny’s baskets and some new spring clothes excited us, it was the mystery on the table that held us in awe year after year:  The large family Bible opened to the story of the Resurrection; illuminated by flickering taper candles.  Behind it stood the large wooden cross my father had made especially for Easter — suddenly draped with a bright white cloth, replacing the somber purple that had been there since Good Friday.  Now surrounded by lilies which were absent the night before, and a sign my mother had carefully placed above it which read:  “He Is Risen!”

This was indeed the focus of it all, and as my parents talked of the huge stone that was rolled away and an empty tomb, we children felt we had a front row seat to a supernatural event that had just occurred — not a 2000 year old musty narrative.

The story, it turns out, can never die; because every year it is born again.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.SusanDHarris.com

 



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A Stranger in My Own Land


It was my 11th-year social studies class when the teacher gave us some “Xeroxed” papers – still warm, with that “just copied” smell, and repeating that old school refrain: “Take one and pass it back.”

A square box was drawn in the center of the sheet, and there was a line for the student’s name in the corner.  The teacher told us to put whatever we wanted in the box, but to think hard about it first.

I took everything very seriously in 11th grade, so I asked myself, “If I have one box to put anything in, I should put the most important thing in the whole world.  So what is the most important thing in the whole world?”  It came to me like a bolt of lightning: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  I wrote the verse in the tiny box and passed my paper forward.

Within a few days, the teacher returned our papers.  We were told they had not been graded, only “reviewed” because they were a “social experiment.”  She explained that what we put in the empty box represented what would be the most important thing in our lives – the essence that would drive everything we did.  Reflecting later in life, I was impressed with its accuracy.  My faith, and sharing it, has been the most important thing in my life.  It seems that the box experiment worked for me, but I have serious doubts about how well it worked for classmates who filled their boxes with everything from boats to lions.

If They Have Persecuted Me, They Will Also Persecute You

Now I realize how blessed I am to have been born in a country where I could write John 3:16 in a classroom assignment and not be persecuted or killed for it.  In many countries, that one act could have been my death sentence.  There have been plenty of reports that Christians belong to the most persecuted religious group in the world.  And while there are those who envy their peaceful, tolerant Hindu and Buddhist neighbors in America, back in their countries of origin – India or Sri Lanka, for instance – there are Hindu and Buddhist nationals beating, raping, and killing Christians at an alarming rate.  If they’re lucky and get to live, these Christians face a fine for choosing the wrong faith.

I once knew a Christian-basher who posted on social media, “Persecution of Christians?  How stupid.  It doesn’t exist.”  Indeed, it didn’t exist in her little town, where everybody met on Sunday mornings to do business at the popular social club – otherwise known as the Methodist Church.  Nobody there had endured a Muslim mob ripping off someone’s crucifix while yelling, “F— Jesus!” or watched blood-soaked deacons stumbling dazed from the ruins of a church bombing on Palm Sunday.  That’s too far-fetched for Pleasant Valley.  And if anyone had suggested a three-year prison sentence for holding a home Bible study, he would have been laughed out of town.  (A prison sentence is exactly what happened recently to Chinese citizen Ma Huichao and four of her fellow Christians, who were arrested for the trumped up charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”)

But Isn’t Everybody Christian?

Years ago, before the tragedy of the World Trade Center, I bought a Bible as a Christmas gift for a fellow employee.  I inscribed it: “To one of the finest Christians I know.”  Later on, she said, “That was kind of strange what you wrote…about my being one of the finest Christians you know.”

“Well, you are!”

She continued hesitantly, “We’re all pretty much Christians, aren’t we?  We’re all born that way.  So it sounds kind of funny.”

Needless to say, by the time 9/11/2001 rolled around, my friend had a tough learning curve.

Is a Post-Christian Era Already Here?

Who would have guessed that by 2017, traditional middle-class Christian America would be expected to unquestioningly acquiesce to any and all whims from Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, pagans, wiccans, Satanists, Muslims, freethinkers, gays, and everyone else who deviates from their traditionally held beliefs?  If they express concern that other religions or worldviews might destructively infringe upon their way of life, they are labeled intolerant or xenophobic.  Social networking sites can be found full of suggestions that Christian nut-jobs just die off and let the world evolve beyond the antiquated biblical morality that hung witches from the gallows.

The trouble lies in the fact that modern Christians and secularists now agree that morality, as defined in the Bible, is all relative.  Relativism automatically undermines any permanent ideas of right and wrong, which in turn strips Christianity of any moral authority it had as the glue that held society together.  Years ago, political theorist Russell Kirk wrote that “the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity.”  Assuming that this is true, one might easily argue that the essence is gone.

If I say God says something is wrong – i.e., a sin – I am informed (silenced) that my interpretation is disputable and relative to my own (probably twisted) worldview.

Many say we’ve reached a post-Christian era in America.  While a Pew poll showed that 70% of Americans continue to identify as Christian, I submit that these Americans are not the same kind of Christian one would have found 25 years ago.  The simplest indicator of this is that the majority of Americans – including self-identified Christians – now support attempting to redefine marriage to apply to same-sex couples.  The Bible didn’t change its teaching on the subject, but people’s perception of sin changed in response to social mores influenced by political activists and professional lobbyists.

Modern Christianity is like a supermarket tomato.  It doesn’t taste anything like how it tasted, say, 50 years ago.  “Decades of breeding the fruit for uniform color” is one reason the tomato has changed, and one could easily say the same about Christianity: it’s been bred for uniform acceptance and watered down to a palatable ideology, thus removing the underpinning judgments that supported civilized society.  Lies have become untruths; adultery is a societal norm.  “Thou shalt not kill” is about the only commandment most can agree on, but even that gets murky for those still inside the womb or nearing the end of their natural lives.

It seems that every stumbling block to sin is being removed from our path so we can run full speed to a hell that we (ironically) still believe in.  We do all the things the Bible tells us not to do but still tell pollsters we believe in God – as if God won’t notice.  It’s kind of like name-dropping someone you don’t know just so you can crash the party.

Afraid to Be Christian in America?

I live in an area surrounded by occult shops that cater to pagans, Satanists and others who rightfully believe society gave them carte blanche to openly practice anything they see fit. “Pagan Pride” and witch related bumper stickers slightly outnumber left-over “Bernie 2016” and “Clinton/Kaine” stickers.

(Maybe “deaths of despair” are on the rise among America’s middle class because, without even leaving their front porch rocking chairs, they have been uprooted and thrown into a land of chaos where they are lost among the libertines.)

Add to this the fact that my area is also experiencing an influx of Muslim refugees who refuse to assimilate, and I’m suddenly a stranger in my own land.   Speaking English outs me as a local; wearing a cross marks me as a judgmental Puritan.

My local supermarket is now frequented by women in hijabs walking behind their husbands.  I’ve even seen little girls in full niqabs (head coverings that reveal only the eyes, which apparently are not even required in Islam).

The truth is, I’ve reached the point where I’m almost afraid to go out in public and speak the words I wrote in that little box so many years ago.  It’s acceptable to be a Christian – as long as you are the kind who doesn’t take the Bible literally, as long as you don’t bother anyone else about it, as long as you know when to shut up.  Once reprogrammed, you might earn the right to be assimilated into your own society or accepted back into your own town.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.

It was my 11th-year social studies class when the teacher gave us some “Xeroxed” papers – still warm, with that “just copied” smell, and repeating that old school refrain: “Take one and pass it back.”

A square box was drawn in the center of the sheet, and there was a line for the student’s name in the corner.  The teacher told us to put whatever we wanted in the box, but to think hard about it first.

I took everything very seriously in 11th grade, so I asked myself, “If I have one box to put anything in, I should put the most important thing in the whole world.  So what is the most important thing in the whole world?”  It came to me like a bolt of lightning: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  I wrote the verse in the tiny box and passed my paper forward.

Within a few days, the teacher returned our papers.  We were told they had not been graded, only “reviewed” because they were a “social experiment.”  She explained that what we put in the empty box represented what would be the most important thing in our lives – the essence that would drive everything we did.  Reflecting later in life, I was impressed with its accuracy.  My faith, and sharing it, has been the most important thing in my life.  It seems that the box experiment worked for me, but I have serious doubts about how well it worked for classmates who filled their boxes with everything from boats to lions.

If They Have Persecuted Me, They Will Also Persecute You

Now I realize how blessed I am to have been born in a country where I could write John 3:16 in a classroom assignment and not be persecuted or killed for it.  In many countries, that one act could have been my death sentence.  There have been plenty of reports that Christians belong to the most persecuted religious group in the world.  And while there are those who envy their peaceful, tolerant Hindu and Buddhist neighbors in America, back in their countries of origin – India or Sri Lanka, for instance – there are Hindu and Buddhist nationals beating, raping, and killing Christians at an alarming rate.  If they’re lucky and get to live, these Christians face a fine for choosing the wrong faith.

I once knew a Christian-basher who posted on social media, “Persecution of Christians?  How stupid.  It doesn’t exist.”  Indeed, it didn’t exist in her little town, where everybody met on Sunday mornings to do business at the popular social club – otherwise known as the Methodist Church.  Nobody there had endured a Muslim mob ripping off someone’s crucifix while yelling, “F— Jesus!” or watched blood-soaked deacons stumbling dazed from the ruins of a church bombing on Palm Sunday.  That’s too far-fetched for Pleasant Valley.  And if anyone had suggested a three-year prison sentence for holding a home Bible study, he would have been laughed out of town.  (A prison sentence is exactly what happened recently to Chinese citizen Ma Huichao and four of her fellow Christians, who were arrested for the trumped up charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”)

But Isn’t Everybody Christian?

Years ago, before the tragedy of the World Trade Center, I bought a Bible as a Christmas gift for a fellow employee.  I inscribed it: “To one of the finest Christians I know.”  Later on, she said, “That was kind of strange what you wrote…about my being one of the finest Christians you know.”

“Well, you are!”

She continued hesitantly, “We’re all pretty much Christians, aren’t we?  We’re all born that way.  So it sounds kind of funny.”

Needless to say, by the time 9/11/2001 rolled around, my friend had a tough learning curve.

Is a Post-Christian Era Already Here?

Who would have guessed that by 2017, traditional middle-class Christian America would be expected to unquestioningly acquiesce to any and all whims from Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, pagans, wiccans, Satanists, Muslims, freethinkers, gays, and everyone else who deviates from their traditionally held beliefs?  If they express concern that other religions or worldviews might destructively infringe upon their way of life, they are labeled intolerant or xenophobic.  Social networking sites can be found full of suggestions that Christian nut-jobs just die off and let the world evolve beyond the antiquated biblical morality that hung witches from the gallows.

The trouble lies in the fact that modern Christians and secularists now agree that morality, as defined in the Bible, is all relative.  Relativism automatically undermines any permanent ideas of right and wrong, which in turn strips Christianity of any moral authority it had as the glue that held society together.  Years ago, political theorist Russell Kirk wrote that “the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity.”  Assuming that this is true, one might easily argue that the essence is gone.

If I say God says something is wrong – i.e., a sin – I am informed (silenced) that my interpretation is disputable and relative to my own (probably twisted) worldview.

Many say we’ve reached a post-Christian era in America.  While a Pew poll showed that 70% of Americans continue to identify as Christian, I submit that these Americans are not the same kind of Christian one would have found 25 years ago.  The simplest indicator of this is that the majority of Americans – including self-identified Christians – now support attempting to redefine marriage to apply to same-sex couples.  The Bible didn’t change its teaching on the subject, but people’s perception of sin changed in response to social mores influenced by political activists and professional lobbyists.

Modern Christianity is like a supermarket tomato.  It doesn’t taste anything like how it tasted, say, 50 years ago.  “Decades of breeding the fruit for uniform color” is one reason the tomato has changed, and one could easily say the same about Christianity: it’s been bred for uniform acceptance and watered down to a palatable ideology, thus removing the underpinning judgments that supported civilized society.  Lies have become untruths; adultery is a societal norm.  “Thou shalt not kill” is about the only commandment most can agree on, but even that gets murky for those still inside the womb or nearing the end of their natural lives.

It seems that every stumbling block to sin is being removed from our path so we can run full speed to a hell that we (ironically) still believe in.  We do all the things the Bible tells us not to do but still tell pollsters we believe in God – as if God won’t notice.  It’s kind of like name-dropping someone you don’t know just so you can crash the party.

Afraid to Be Christian in America?

I live in an area surrounded by occult shops that cater to pagans, Satanists and others who rightfully believe society gave them carte blanche to openly practice anything they see fit. “Pagan Pride” and witch related bumper stickers slightly outnumber left-over “Bernie 2016” and “Clinton/Kaine” stickers.

(Maybe “deaths of despair” are on the rise among America’s middle class because, without even leaving their front porch rocking chairs, they have been uprooted and thrown into a land of chaos where they are lost among the libertines.)

Add to this the fact that my area is also experiencing an influx of Muslim refugees who refuse to assimilate, and I’m suddenly a stranger in my own land.   Speaking English outs me as a local; wearing a cross marks me as a judgmental Puritan.

My local supermarket is now frequented by women in hijabs walking behind their husbands.  I’ve even seen little girls in full niqabs (head coverings that reveal only the eyes, which apparently are not even required in Islam).

The truth is, I’ve reached the point where I’m almost afraid to go out in public and speak the words I wrote in that little box so many years ago.  It’s acceptable to be a Christian – as long as you are the kind who doesn’t take the Bible literally, as long as you don’t bother anyone else about it, as long as you know when to shut up.  Once reprogrammed, you might earn the right to be assimilated into your own society or accepted back into your own town.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.



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