Sorry to emphasize such down notes today, but, as the CNN story says, “What a horrible week for America.”
This has been an objectively awful week.
Far from a sleepy end to the summer, the country is reeling from mass shootings that claimed 31 lives in Texas and Ohio, not paying enough attention to an extremely deadly summer of violence in Chicago, having painful and not particularly productive conversations about gun control and about racism, and the government is rounding up undocumented immigrants in a way that leaves their children crying in parking lots on the first day of school. (Zachary B. Wolf, CNN)
Rouse Yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord?
Awaken, do not reject us forever!
Why do You hide Your face,
Ignoring our affliction and distress
We lie prostrate in the dust;
our body clings to the ground.
Arise and help us,
redeem us, as befits Your faithfulness.
• Psalm 44:24-27, JPS Tanakh
• • •
And here is one of the saddest stories of the week…
41 year-old Jimmy Al-Daoud was born in Greece and came to the United States as an infant. His parents were Iraqi refugees who fled to Greece, where Al-Daoud was born. Then, when Al-Daoud was 6 months old, his family came to the United States. Though born there, he’d never been to Iraq. He didn’t speak Arabic. He’d been in the U.S. since he was about 6 months old. He had no Iraqi ID. His family never sought American citizenship because they were poor and unable to pay for the expensive process.
And yet Jimmy Al-Daoud was recently deported from Michigan to Iraq.
Al-Daoud did not have any family in Iraq and was Chaldean Catholic by faith, a Christian group that has been persecuted in Iraq in the past. Yet, the deportee was put on a plane to Najaf, the Shia holy city in the south of Iraq. There is a sizeable community of Chaldeans in the Detroit area, and one of their spokespersons, Martin Manna of the Chaldean Community Foundation, said “There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety in the community. Iraq’s not a safe place for many of the people who are being sent back.”
[Insert comment here about the irony of many American leaders protesting Christian persecution.]
Now, you should know that Al-Daoud had problems. He had mental illness — schizophrenia. He had committed felonies, including domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and home invasion. Family and friends have said that it was his mental illness that led to his many legal problems.
Al-Daoud was also a diabetic, and although ICE said they supplied him with medication “to ensure continuity of care,” the deportee, who did not speak the language and had no place to go once in Iraq, took to living on the streets, was unable to access more medicine, and ultimately died this past Tuesday. His deportation was, in essence, a death sentence.
At last report, Iraqi authorities would not release Jimmy’s body to a Catholic priest without extensive documentation from his family members in the U.S.
Seems like in the end, nobody in this world wants him to be at rest.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I am in distress;
my eyes are wasted by vexation,
my substance and body too.
My life is spent in sorrow,
my years in groaning;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
my limbs waste away.
Because of all my foes
I am the particular butt of my neighbors,
a horror to my friends;
those who see me on the street avoid me.
I am put out of mind like the dead;
I am like an object given up for lost.
• Psalm 31:10-13, JPS Tanakh
• • •
An under-emphasized aspect of climate concern…
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report on Thursday.
…Climate Change and Land finds that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability.
“Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.
“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” he said.
The report shows how managing land resources sustainably can help address climate change, said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
“Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required” he said. “Also for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity.”
I encourage you to read the report. Follow the link above.
He turns the rivers into a wilderness,
springs of water into thirsty land,
fruitful land into a salt marsh,
because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
• Psalm 107:33-34, JPS Tanakh
• • •
The Pope’s perspectives on nationalism and “sovereignism”…
[In a recent interview, Pope Francis] talked about the dangers of surging nationalism and isolationist sentiments, saying, “I am worried because you hear speeches that resemble those by Hitler in 1934. ‘Us first, We … We ….’ ”
Such thinking, he said, “is frightening.”
The pope’s comments came in an interview posted Aug. 9 by Vatican Insider, the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Asked about the dangers of “sovereignism” or nationalism, the pope said it represented an attitude of “isolation” and closure.
“A country must be sovereign, but not closed” inside itself, he said.
National sovereignty, he said, “must be defended, but relations with other countries, with the European community, must also be protected and promoted.”
“Sovereignism,” on the other hand, he continued, is something that goes “too far” and “always ends badly — it leads to war.”
When asked about populism, the pope said it was one thing for people to be able to express their concerns, but quite another “to impose a populist attitude on the people.”
“The people are sovereign,” with their own way of thinking, feeling, judging and expressing themselves, he said, “while populism leads to forms of sovereignism. That suffix, ‘-ism,’ is never good.”
Asked about “the right path to take when it comes to migrants,” the pope said, “First and foremost, never neglect the most important right of all: the right to life.”
“Immigrants come above all to escape from war or hunger, from the Middle East and Africa,” he said.
When it comes to war, “we must make an effort and fight for peace” as well as invest in Africa in ways that help the people there “resolve their problems and thus stop the migration flows.”
Concerning immigrants already in one’s home country, certain “criteria must be followed,” he said.
“First, to receive, which is also a Christian, Gospel duty. Doors should be opened, not closed. Second, to accompany. Third, to promote. Fourth, to integrate” the newcomers in the host communities, he said.
“At the same time, governments must think and act prudently, which is a virtue of government. Those in charge are called to think about how many migrants can be taken in.”
If that threshold is reached, “the situation can be resolved through dialogue with other countries” because some countries need people, especially for working in agriculture or for reviving their economy and breathing new life into “half-empty towns” because of low birthrates, he said.
God stands in the divine assembly;
among the divine beings He pronounces judgment.
How long will you judge perversely,
showing favor to the wicked?
Judge the wretched and the orphan,
vindicate the lowly and the poor,
rescue the wretched and the needy;
save them from the hand of the wicked.
• Psalm 82: 1-4, JPS Tanakh
• • •
Let’s find a bit of respite at the Field of Dreams
Let’s conclude with a bit of feel-good news today, related to one of life’s greatest pastimes and one of my all-time favorite movies. From an MLB press release:
The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees will play a regular season game in Dyersville, Iowa at the site of the beloved 1989 baseball movie, Field of Dreams, on Thursday, August 13, 2020, Major League Baseball announced today. “MLB at _Field of Dreams_” will mark the first Major League game ever held at the fan-favorite movie location as well as in the State of Iowa.
FOX will provide exclusive national coverage of “MLB at _Field of Dreams_,” airing at 7:00 p.m. (ET)/6:00 p.m. (CT). The event will be considered a White Sox home date, with the Thursday game followed by a Friday off-day before the two Clubs resume their three-game series at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday. Information on the limited ticket availability will be announced by MLB in the months ahead. “MLB at _Field of Dreams_” will be presented by GEICO and be a part of the GEICO Summer Series. Later this month, MLB will begin construction on a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark on the Dyersville site. A pathway through a cornfield will take fans to the ballpark, which will overlook the famous movie location. The right field wall will include windows to show the cornfields beyond the ballpark. Aspects of the ballpark’s design will pay homage to Chicago’s Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox from 1910-1990, including the shape of the outfield and bullpens beyond the center field fence.