The wind blows wherever it pleases...       John 3:8

Grace Notes

Mike Leno


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              Heavenly host, warrior angels.

‘Twas the night before doomsday and all through the land
People just needed someone to lend them a hand.
The pundits all said the other party’s to blame
And church folks said you just have to believe and claim.

But the terrorist attacks, and rumors of war,
Caused all the people to fear and bleed even more.
Some said its right to make our enemies suffer.
They better respect us; we’ll show them who’s tougher.

The answer, said others, is to protect ourselves.
By keeping our jobs at home, and food on our shelves.
But economists said, it’s supply and demand,
The market decides who will fall and who will stand.

So while millionaires shot hoops, their contracts all signed,
Some lost jobs and insurance; no help could they find.
Then prophets of doom said we could not run or hide;
There’s no hope for anyone who’s not on our side.

Everyone, it seemed, had made their own special list
Of the nice, and the naughty who would not be missed.
In the end we failed to find a real solution.
Our faith, misplaced, had been in an institution.

Whether a church, parliament, a priest or a king,
All had failed to change what humanity would bring.
Even our religion was a means to an end.
In Gods name we conquered both enemy and friend.

So on the night before doomsday we stocked our shelves,
Knowing now we were about to destroy ourselves.
But then there appeared as a rescue from above,
Good news, for a change, full of mercy and love.

He seemed rather small, just a babe in a manger,
How could he help us in our self imposed danger?
But to the surprise of sleepy shepherds that night,
A chorus of angels displaced the darkness with light.

It was awesome; it was frightening; it was doomsday.
Now we would see divine fury on display; but…
“Fear not,” said the angel, “for I bring you great news!
Our God does not react in the way you would choose!

So to you this day a savior is born, instead…
Of the doom you would have brought down on your own head.
And we heard them proclaim as they rose out of sight:
To all God grants peace; goodwill prevails from this night.

Isaiah 9:5-6
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Like most of us, I’m still trying to get my mind around the violence perpetrated in the neighboring city of San Bernardino yesterday. The meaning of it all eludes definition. Ironically, it was about the time I was online blogging about violence when a married couple in their 20s shot and killed 14 people and wounded 21 more. The couple died a short time later in a shootout with police. Their bodies were extracted from a bullet ridden SUV not far from the original crime scene. This morning, Kerry Heinrich, Loma Linda University Medical Center CEO, addressed the media to add some perspective related to treating the victims and dealing with a bomb scare. Continue reading

imageA Footnote                                           to the Previous Post

The subject of religious violence demands a much more thorough treatment than I can include in one or two posts. So the following notes about my previous blog are basically an acknowledgment that there’s more to the story.

The inclusion of the quote by Richard Marcinko might have seemed strange, given that it was not directly related to religious violence or terrorism. And it even seems to glorify violence.  I’ll admit, I included the quote for its sheer outrageousness. Marcinko has a way of being entertaining and describing actions of deadly force without compromise or apology. Continue reading

Sacrifices and other Forms of Religious Violence

imageI believe they went after Ollie because he shredded paper—destroyed evidence. But they went after me for shredding people. Let me also add for the record that I had more fun doing my shredding than Ollie had doing his. – Richard Marcinko reacting to a statement by Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) who had compared him to Oliver North.1

Short of mass assassination, there is no natural end to the cycle of retaliation. – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.2

In spite of advances in knowledge and culture, humans still exhibit a primitive tendency to violence. We kill each other for causes involving competition, honor, revenge, and devotion; and sometimes for no apparent cause at all. We appear to be the most cruel and also the most benevolent of species; at once selfish and altruistic. Furthermore, violence appears to be so engrained in our world view that it seems normal. In one moment we claim to be victimized and repulsed by it. But a moment later we might be fascinated by it and even find it useful and necessary. Even our views of God reflect our split personality with respect to violence. We believe in a loving God with a sinister dark side. He might just kill you (or worse) if you don’t believe properly.

Continue reading