Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris, Evil, and Love

(From Anne Sophie Chaisemartin/AP, via New York Daily News, used w/o permission.)
("Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions."
(New York Daily News))

I've read that Friday's attacks in Paris are the fault of right-wing hate-mongers, that America's president is to blame — — — and the American election is still nearly a year off. I am not looking forward to the usual self-serving balderdash.

Death and Assumptions

(From Philippe Wojazer/Reuter, used w/o permission.)
("A general view of the scene that shows the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015."

It's only a matter of time before 'all Muslims are terrorists' ponies get their moments of fame; while another lot will blame America, France, or their political foes.

I don't doubt that folks who blame Muslims, Jews, Catholics, blacks, or other 'foreigners' for their troubles are sincere. That doesn't make them right. (June 21, 2015; September 11, 2014)

I am pretty sure that Muslims who blame France, America, and Western civilization for their problems are sincere, too.

But the grand imam of Al-Azhar called Friday's attack "odious," Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said it was "heinous," and Saudi King Salman called it "repugnant."1

Not all Muslims, or Christians, are alike.

It looks like 137 folks died in the attacks: including eight attackers.2

I've gotten the impression that ISIS, whose leaders claim responsibility for Friday's attacks, doesn't approve of today's world.

I don't, either. I'd better explain that.

Change and the Status Quo

(From Philippe Wojaze/Reuters, used w/o permission.)
("French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, November 13, 2015."

I'm not among those who apparently think the world was fine in the 'good old days' before 1954, or some other imagined golden age. (August 30, 2015; July 13, 2014)

Today's world, my country included, has problems. But as I've said before, I remember the 'good old days:' and they weren't.

Like I said last week, I'm part of a literally καθολικός, universal, outfit: not tied to one time, place, or culture. (November 8, 2015)

My job as a Catholic layman is not desperately clinging to customs and attitudes that won't work any more: and never worked as well as some imagine.

Part of my job is finding or making ways to permeate "social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 899)

That is emphatically not the same as trying to restore the world of "Leave it to Beaver." (May 3, 2015)

Accepting the way things are isn't an option. I can't change the world, not on my own: but I can keep talking about respecting humanity's "transcendent dignity," our "dignity as persons," and "human solidarity." (Catechism, 1928-1942, 2419-2442)

Terrorism and Legitimate Defense

(From Philippe Wojazer/Reuters, used w/o permission.)
("A French policeman assists a blood-covered victim near the Bataclan concert hall following attacks in Paris...."

This may seem 'judgmental,' but terrorism is wrong. The same goes for kidnapping and torture. (Catechism, 2297)

Maybe you heard that 'Christian' rulers sometimes indulged in that sort of thing. It's true. Catholic pastors, sadly, sometimes did not protest these actions: and sometimes committed the same crimes. It's still wrong. (Catechism, 2297-2298)

Getting back to what's been happening in France, the French president seems disinclined to 'give peace a chance,' and do what ISIS wants.

I think it would be nice if ISIS and similar outfits would start acting nice if someone asked them politely. But I am quite sure that asking politely would not work.

ISIS and like-minded organizations have been quite willing to kill folks whose chief offense is having fun — or otherwise offending the sensibilities of ISIS. That is not acceptable.

Since being alive is preferable to being dead, we are allowed to defend ourselves. This principle, applied to outfits like nations, is called just war. (Catechism, 2307-2309)

I've been over this before. (August 24, 2014)


(From AFP, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("Rescuers evacuate people following one of the attacks"
(BBC News))

I've mentioned this bit of dialog before: (May 23, 2012)
"Yes, why does there have to be evil?"

Supreme Being:
"I think it has something to do with free will."
("Time Bandits" (1981) via
Oddly enough, that snarky line about free will is pretty close to the truth.

Sin, evil, is deciding to act — or not act — in a way that hurts someone: me, or anyone else. Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and God. It is failing to love. (Catechism, 1849-1850)

I'm human, so I'm a rational creature: able to decide what I do, or don't do. I can decide that I'll just 'go with the flow,' and act as whim and emotions dictate: but that's a decision, too. Either way, I'm responsible for what I decide. (Catechism, 1730-1738)

God doesn't 'make' anyone do bad things. But like I said: each of us has free will. I can decide that I'll hurt — or help — someone. It's my choice. Making good choices isn't easy, since the first of us made a really bad decision. (Catechism, 385-389, 396-409)

I've talked about original sin before. It's not the notion that God botched our design. (September 27, 2015)


(From sporki, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(World Youth Day 2000.)

I'm Catholic, so I must believe that human beings are people: all humans, no matter who our ancestors are, where we live, what we look like, or how old we are. (Catechism, 357, 361, 369-370, 1700, 1730, 1929, 2273-2274, 2276-2279)

We have equal dignity, but we're not all alike: and we're not supposed to be. (Catechism, 33, 366, 1934-1938, 2232, 2393)

That's easy to say when life is copacetic, not so much when your city has been attacked:
"...Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred. May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice."
"(Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris, via Vatican Radio)

"...In a telephone interview on Saturday with the Italian Bishops' Conference official television network – TV2000 – Pope Francis said the attacks are 'not human.'

" 'I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,' Pope Francis said. 'I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things hard to understand.'...

"When asked if this is part of the 'piecemeal Third World War' the Holy Father has mentioned many times before, Pope Francis said 'this is a piece of it,' adding 'there is no religious or human justification for it.'..."
(Pope Francis, via Vatican Radio)
I put longer excerpts at the end of this post. 3

By the time you read this, the Pope's statement that the attacks are "not human" may have morphed into "the attackers are not human" — which is not the same idea at all.

Folks have a knack for embellishing, or distorting, what they hear. Scrambled messages are fun in a telephone game: and that's another topic.

I keep saying this: I must love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I want to be treated. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

That's not easy, particularly when my neighbor does something profoundly repugnant: like killing folks at a rock concert.

But despite how I feel at the moment, the eight dead attackers in Paris are human beings: people. So are those who convinced them that killing innocent folks in Paris was a good idea.

My love of neighbor must not be an easy-going indifference, or unthinking approval. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" may be a half-forgotten cliche, but the principle is still valid. (October 12, 2014; August 24, 2014)

At the moment I don't feel very "loving" toward ISIS leaders, and those who have decided to follow them. I'd be concerned if I did. Their actions are most emphatically not what human beings are supposed to do.

Doing what is right is easier when my emotions are in sync with my reason: but "...conscience is a law of the mind...." I've got brains, and I'm expected to think. (Catechism, 1762-1775, 1776)

Actually, I don't feel much of anything at the moment. Experience tells me that I've most likely shunted emotional responses to the non-conscious parts of my mind. It's late Saturday night as I write this, early Sunday, actually: I could have very interesting dreams later on.

I'm forgetting something. What was it? Paris. Death. Evil. Love. Right.

ISIS leaders apparently want to set up a global Islamic state: where ISIS-style Islam is enforced. (Wikipedia)

I've run into a few Christians, some of them Catholic, who apparently feel the same way about their notion of Christianity. What can I say? Some of us do not understand our faith. We're still cleaning up the mess Charlemagne made at Verden. (August 9, 2015)

Even if I had the power to make others believe as I do, I couldn't do it. As a Catholic, I must support religious freedom: for everyone. And that's yet again another topic. (Catechism, 1738, 2104-2109)

More about making sense in a big world:

1 Muslim responses to the November 13, 2014, attacks:
"UK Muslim Council: Nothing Islamic about killers"
The Times of Israel (November 14, 2015)
"...The council says that while the Islamic State group is claiming responsibility for the attack, 'there is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.'..."

"Égypte: le grand imam de la mosquée Al-Azhar condamne des 'attaques odieuses' à Paris"
Jeune Afrique (14 novembre 2015)
"Le grand imam de la mosquée Al-Azhar, prestigieuse institution de l'islam sunnite, a condamné samedi les attaques à Paris qui ont fait au moins 128 morts les qualifiant d' « odieuses » et a appelé « le monde entier à s'unir pour faire face à ce monstre »

"« Nous condamnons cette attaque odieuse », a affirmé cheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb à l’ouverture d’une conférence au Caire, soulignant que « le temps est venu pour que le monde entier s’unisse afin de faire face à ce monstre »..."

["The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, a prestigious institution in Sunni Islam, on Saturday condemned the attacks in Paris that killed at least 128 dead describing them as 'odious' and called on 'the whole world to unite to face this monster'

" 'We condemn this heinous attack,' said Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb at the opening of a conference in Cairo, stressing that 'the time has come for the world to unite to face this monster'...."]

"Arab states condemn 'terrorist' Paris attacks"
Al Arabiya News (November 14, 2015)
"Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt have been among the Arab states leading condemnations of the simultaneous attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and wounded 250 - 80 critically - on late Friday.

"Saudi King Salman sent a cable of condolence to French President Francoise Hollande. 'We learned about the pain and the sadness of the terrorist attacks in Paris…we express our condemnation for this repugnant terrorist act and offer our condolences to your excellency, the French people and the families of the victims,' said the king, who is currently in Turkey for the G20 Summit.

"Prominent Saudi scholars also condemned the attacks...."
2 Background:
3 Catholic responses to the November 13, 2014, attacks:
"Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris: statement on terror attacks"
(Vatican Radio (November 14, 2015))
"...Message of Cardinal Vingt-Trois following the terrorist attacks in Paris

"Our city of Paris, our country, was hit last night with particular savagery and intensity.

"After the attacks of last January, after the attack in Beirut this week and many others in these past months, including in Nigeria and other African countries, our country knows anew the pain of grief and must face the barbarism spread by fanatical groups.

"This morning I pray, and invite Catholics of Paris to pray, for those who were killed yesterday and for their families, for the injured and their loved ones and for those who are hard at work assisting them, for the police forces who face formidable challenges, and for our leaders and country, so that together we will remain in unity and peace of heart....

"...Faced with the violence of men, may we receive the grace of a firm heart, without hatred. May the moderation, temperance and control that has been shown so far, be confirmed in the weeks and months to come; let no one indulge in panic or hatred. We ask that grace be the artisan of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice."

"Pope Francis: No religious or human justification for Paris attacks"
Vatican Radio (November 14, 2015)
"Pope Francis has called the attacks in Paris 'a piece' of the 'piecemeal Third World War.'

"In a telephone interview on Saturday with the Italian Bishops' Conference official television network – TV2000 – Pope Francis said the attacks are 'not human.'

" 'I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,' Pope Francis said. 'I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things hard to understand.'...

"When asked if this is part of the 'piecemeal Third World War' the Holy Father has mentioned many times before, Pope Francis said 'this is a piece of it,' adding 'there is no religious or human justification for it.'..."

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