Category Archives: Americans

Time to Pause, Take a Break and Give THANKS to GOD

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  ~ Psalms 50:14-15

The simplicity of the Thanksgiving Holiday captured my spirit decades ago. This is the one day of the year where we, as Americans, just stop everything and take a breath from the year gone by to say THANK YOU to God for all that we have. We gather with family or friends or maybe even with strangers in a food center who become our new friends, and share the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. All we have to do is “show up”. You do not even  have to bring gifts. Just bring a thankful heart and a smile on your face. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is a beautiful thing.

So I would like to wish anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I am posting two Thanksgiving prayers that fit the occasion.
_______________________________________________________________________________

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
by  Walter Rauschenbusch
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors:
IN GRATITUDE
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

                                  ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

Why the USA Must Take the Lead in the War Against ISIS Barbarism: It is the Right Thing To Do

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I sit here safe at 7 a.m. pecking away at the keyboard in front of me. My thoughts, for the moment, are focused on the words I make appear on the screen. A cup of coffee sits to my right . My freedom in America allows me to be a Catholic and practice my faith without interference (so far). So at 7:45 I will leave and go to Mass.This is what being an American and living in the greatest country in the world is like for me and millions like me. Being blessed beyond belief, we are FREE to do what we choose except break the law.

It is about 2 p.m. in Syria. There are Catholics/Christians there. As I sit at this keyboard reports are coming from Christian aid agencies that ISIS satanic fueled  savages have overrun the city of Hassakah, killing 15 young Assyrians who tried to defend their families. In Tel Hormizd, 14 of the defenders were killed including two women, one of whom was beheaded. So far over 350 men, women and children have been kidnapped and brought to the Sunni village of Bab Alfaraj. The word going out from ISIS is that today, Friday, February 27, 2015, “all people should come to the mountain of Abdul Aziz to attend “a mass killing of infidels”.

Those “infidels” are our brothers and sisters in faith. They will be killed in horrible ways because they LOVE Jesus Christ. I pause and sip my coffee again. I have to take a breath. I LOVE the same Jesus. These people will be slaughtered today and I am no different in my core beliefs. If I were there I would not be here tomorrow. Yes, we Americans are so blessed yet—so many Americans don’t seem to get it. They do not seem to realize that this could be us, anyone of us. Even being an American atheist qualifies you for ISIS extermination. In that regard they are the same as we Catholics and Jews.

We are all “infidels” to these maniacs. But who is supposed to lead the charge against the 21st century genocide taking place? Who is supposed to stand up for the weaker and more vulnerable of those who have knives to their throats waiting for their heads to be cut off, ropes tied around their necks waiting to have their necks snapped, and who wear gasoline soaked clothing ready to be burned alive? I say, without hesitation, the United States of America is the nation and people who must take charge. Why us? I’ll tell you why us and it has to do with having God as our primary support.

We are still a Judeo-Christian nation and as such we have a responsibility. America is called the “melting pot” because we are unlike any other nation on the planet. We are Americans because we are all different. We are black, white, yellow, brown and red. We are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim. German, Irish, French, Tanzanian, Argentinian, Pakistani, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican and on and on. We are everyone. We are supposed to be an American family. We are, in fact, the most diverse family ever. Since a family should take care of its own all of those being slaughtered in Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, France, Denmark and so on are our extended family.

We have all the resources, all the power and all the weapons. This is part of the privilege of being Americans. However, along with that privilege and honor comes responsibility to those of our extended family members that are weaker and less blessed than we are. If I have a family and a neighbor moves in and starts to attack my children I MUST defend them. It is the right thing to do. If I am incapable of fighting back myself and my family is at risk, I call upon my older and stronger brother(s) to help me. Since the family is the  basic unit of a society it follows that we, as Americans, must defend our  downtrodden brothers and sisters who have become the prime targets in the 21st century genocide, a genocide which actually began right here in America on September 11, 2001

At this very moment in Syria and Nigeria and in Iraq, Christians are being viciously murdered because they love Jesus Christ who preached the doctrine of Love Your Neighbor. It is time for the United States of America to unite the peace and freedom loving nations of the world and lead them in defense of  the freedom of all those who are extended family. It is the RIGHT THING TO DO.

                                     ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

Mother of Five, Sentenced to be Hanged, Pleads, "Please Do Not Abandon Me!"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Back on October 22, I wrote a blog  about a wife and mother of five kids who lives in Pakistan and has been sentenced to death by hanging for the crime of “blasphemy”. That’s right; BLASPHEMY. And how does one commit such a heinous act in Pakistan? Asia Bibi drank some water that was only supposed to be for Muslims to drink. She is a Catholic/Christian and is therefore considered “unclean”. It followed that she defiled the drinking water. An argument between her and her Muslim co-workers ensued. So, since she was a Catholic, she was accused of blasphemy for insulting Muhammad. They beat her, tried her and sentenced her to death.  That was five years ago and she is still in prison waiting to be hanged. This sentence has been upheld by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. How civilized some of our ‘friends and allies” are.

 I cannot help but feel a deep affinity for these people. After all, we are all part of the same spiritual family. They are people just like you and I. They love their spouses and children and their moms and dads. They get the flu and upset stomachs. They get rashes and toothaches and they have wants and desires. They want a nice home that is safe and secure. They would like to have a church they can go to without a fear of being killed or maimed for doing so. They just want some peace in their lives. Yet they are hated and despised. Why–because they are just like me and maybe you. They are Catholic and believe in Jesus Christ.

 Yes, like us, they believe in the “golden rule”. Unlike us and  for believing this they are called “infidels”. They are defiled as “unclean”. For this they are killed. For this they are blown up by maniacs. For this Asia Bibi will be hanged by the neck until her twitching body stops moving. Where is the outcry? Where is the outrage from all of us here in America? Where are the reproaches by the National Organization for Women? Why does our government help a government that allows such medieval acts to be inflicted on its own people by its own people?  Why not demand the Pakistani government end these atrocities or we will remove their seemingly bottomless U.S. money pit?

As a Catholic man I know that these people are also our brothers and sisters in faith. We belong to the same church and Pope Francis is our spiritual leader. We are “extended” family. The only difference between them and us is location. We are greatly blessed and still have full stomachs from our Thanksgiving feast. They are in dreaded fear of any day being imprisoned and tortured and murdered. This morning, I was able to drive over to my church and attend morning Mass. No fuss, no muss, no anxiety existed. I am a free American man allowed to practice my religion (so far) unencumbered. Cross over an imaginary line called a boundary and things can change quickly.

Recently a 28 year old pregnant Christian woman, our sister in faith, was dragged from her home by her employer’s sons and his friends, stripped naked and forced to parade up and down the streets of Rana Town in Pakistan for a half hour. Her offense? The man did not think she was doing her work properly. She  lost the baby. Never doubt this fact, to be a Catholic/Christian in Pakistan and Sudan and Iran and other places takes tremendous faith and courage.

For me and you, blessed to be living in America, we have never been faced with the threat of torture, mutilation, hanging, beheading, or being starved because we believe in God differently than someone else. Yet, around the world, our brothers and sisters in faith live with this reality every minute of their lives. They must TRULY love their Savior, Jesus Christ. I do not know if I could be as brave and courageous if faced with the same everyday circumstance.

God bless them all. They make me SO proud and humbled to be part of their Christian family.

On Memorial Day, 2014: The Bataan Death March; a Microcosm of American Exceptionalism

by Larry Peterson

Soldier’s Bodies left along the road at Bataan

The Memorial Day weekend of 2014 is upon us. It is the day when we honor all those who, throughout the course of our  history, have given the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, for the freedom(s) it represents and, foremost,  for all Americans, past, present and future.  I write now about a brief time period encapsulated in that history.  I doubt that most  of today’s high-school and college students have ever heard about this.  It is known as the  Bataan Death March and it is one of the most brutal and inhuman periods that occupy the pages of our own history. The Bataan Death March began on April 9, 1942 and ended sometime in May of 1942.

 On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese Empire launched a sneak attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  America was now officially part of World War II.  As the New Year of 1942 dawned, the Japanese were running almost undeterred through the South Pacific and the battle of the Philippine Islands was underway.  On January 7, 1942, the Battle of Bataan began.  (Bataan was a peninsula on the southern end of the Philippines and was the gateway for the Japanese army via the South China Sea.)  Three months later, on April 9, the remaining American and Filipino soldiers finally surrendered to overwhelming Japanese forces. The infamous Bataan Death March was about to begin.

The surrender by the American and Filipino forces at Bataan was viewed by the Japanese soldiers as “cowardice”.  They believed that the defeated soldiers had been disgraced and should have committed suicide. Consequently, when they had rounded up the approximately 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American soldiers, they held them with utter contempt. They were ordered to march the prisoners to “Camp O’Donnell”, an 80-mile journey through the bug infested and sweltering jungle heat of the Philippines. Before the journey had even begun the captors were treating their prisoners as if they were nothing more than dogs.

The thousands of prisoners were divided into groups of about 100 men and the Bataan death march  began. The exact figures are unknown but it is believed that thousands of troops died because of the sheer brutality of their captors.  The men were starved and  deprived of water.  If they fell they were beaten and, depending on the Japanese soldier guarding them, sometimes bayoneted.  Decapitation by sword  was not uncommon. Thousands died later from from disease.  General Masaharu Homma, was the  commander of the Japanese forces in the Philippines.   In September of 1945, he was arrested by Allied troops and indicted for war crimes. The court found that Homma had permitted his troops to commit “brutal atrocities and other high crimes”. He was sentenced to death by firing squad and was executed on April 3, 1946.

This is only a tiny portion of the people that we Americans honor on Memorial Day. They were folks like us: husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and grandfathers. Many were still teenagers. They  believed in God,  had honor and loved their country. They liked baseball and football and music. They fought for us, they suffered for us and many died for us. And please do not think for a minute that women were not a part of this. Click on the link and read about the “Angels of Bataan”.

The legacies left behind, the courage displayed by so many, the sacrifices of lives given in defense of the United States of America and her ideals represents the finest in God’s human creations.  I hope and pray our young people are being taught our exceptional history from the Revolutionary War down through the war taking place at this moment in that God-forsaken place called Afghanistan.  On Memorial Day all Americans owe our fellow and sister Americans who have served in these places a moment of prayer and a THANK YOU.  And, as always, may GOD BLESS AMERICA.                                                                                                                                        

                

As Satan Laughs, What Price Freedom? by Larry Peterson

by Larry Peterson

Twelve years ago on this very day, Sept 10, America was doing its thing and being American. It was a Monday and a new week had begun and people were scurrying about going to work and getting the kids ready for the new school year. The NFL season had begun, the baseball season was winding down and the summer was almost over. We were Americans, living in the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”.

So Monday came and went, just another Monday. Then  along came Tuesday. As an unsuspecting and somewhat naive populace headed into the second day of the work week, Satan watched and salivated.  He knew that his hate-filled messengers were about  to do his bidding and  within a few scant moments would change “One Nation Under God” forever.

As the planes were hijacked he started to laugh, a deep disgusting guttural laugh that can only be imagined. Then Tower #1 was hit and the sound of the explosion did not just come from the disintegrating, fuel filled jetliner. No, mixed into the sound of exploding fuel and metal and rubber and glass and vaporized people was  also the sound of Satan’s gleeful version of a High C blasting from the bell of a Selmer trumpet. Satan rejoiced and screamed with devilish glee. “One Nation Under God” was now under attack. When the attack was over almost 3000 innocent men, women and children were dead and millions of lives had been changed forever.

We can never go back to Monday, September 10, 2001. We can never go back to not having a Department of Homeland Security or needing one. We cannot turn back to a day when we are not violated  by scanners and “pat downs” by strangers at airports and at stadiums and theaters and varied other places. We can never go back to being as free as we were on September 10, 2001. Under the guise of safety and protection we have willingly submitted  to allowing our freedoms to be diminished.

The War on Terror has captured us and in many cases we are now its prisoners.   The next time you have to remove your shoes at the airport think back to September 10, 2001. Listen and  hear the roar of Satan’s shrill laughter mixed among the crumbling steel and concrete of the majestic Twin Towers as it falls into history. Then ask yourself, “what price freedom”? Maybe the time has come to keep our shoes on.