Archive for March 2018

Passover in Gaza

March 31, 2018


PI Gaza now

One wonders when the civilized world will have enough courage to take a stand against the persistent and brutal treatment of Palestinians by Israel.The Canadian government led by Justin Trudeau stands mute as do all political parties on this latest atrocity.




On Land Day, (Good Friday for Christians more brutalization for Palestinians) Israeli forces killed 16 Palestinians and injured over 1400 more along the Gaza border as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in “The Great March of Return” on the 42nd anniversary of Land Day a day Palestinians worldwide have commemorated since 1976, when Israeli security forces shot dead six Israeli Arabs who were protesting the expropriation of Arab-owned land in northern Israel to build Jewish communities.


The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that 14 Palestinians were killed on Friday. They were identified as:



Mohammad Kamel Najjar
Wahid Nasrallah Abu Samour
Mahmoud Abu Muammar
Mohammad Abu Amro
Amhad Ibrahim Odah
Jihad Farina
Mahmoud Rahmi
Ibrahim Abu Shaer
Abd al-Fattah Bahjat Abd al-Nabi
Abd al-Qader al-Hawajri
Sari Walid Abu Odah
Hamdan Ismail Abu Amsha
Omar Samour
Bader Fayek al-Sabbagh


While the majority suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation, tens of Palestinians were injured with live ammunition, some critically.


As usual the Israeli propagandists justified such wanton killing by attempting to describe the resistance which was nonviolent and unarmed as “violent riots.” Despite the Israeli army’s claims, Palestinian activists and leaders in the Gaza Strip have maintained that the “March of Return” was organized as a massive non-violent, weeks-long protest advocating for the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homelands in historic Palestine, now present day Israel.


Leading up to Friday, the first official day of the march — which will continue until the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe, in May — Palestinians set up tents along the border with Gaza, where protesters plan to stay until the Nakba anniversary.


American based Jewish Voice for Peace stated that it was horrified by the Israeli response. It said: The Israeli military has yet again unleashed disproportionate violence against demonstrating Palestinians, the latest in a long series of deadly responses to popular protests by Palestinians.




Much of the media coverage thus far refers to “clashes” at the Gazan border, an inaccurate and biased description of the Israeli military’s violent response to nonviolent protest. We call upon the media to accurately portray the lopsided reality of thousands of unarmed protesters on their own land facing a military force armed to the teeth and explicitly permitted to use lethal force.


Israelis of conscience continue to speak out, largely in vain to American rabbis and media outlets which never quote them.


Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem released a statement on Thursday, condemning the repeated threats of Israeli officials to use lethal force against the civilian protesters.


“Completely ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and Israel’s responsibility for it, they are couching the planned protest in terms of a security risk, framing the demonstrators as terrorists and referring to Gaza as a ‘combat zone’,” B’Tselem said.


PI;If israel

Meanwhile mainline Jewish organizations, tribalists to the extreme, and utterly disconnected from the Jewish prophetic tradition, consistently use Israeli military talking points.This is pointed out by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada. The constant drumbeat always includes HAMAS using civilians to further the cause as if these people have no hand in the fire. In fact they are all relatives of those who have had their lands and livelihoods stolen by Israel.


Notice how major Israel lobby groups @ADL_National & @BoardofDeputies, that purport to speak in the name of Jews, use identical Israeli government talking points to justify massacre in Gaza. They speak for Israeli apartheid, not for Jews …


Jim Zogby of the American Arab Institute lays out the double standard:


There’s only 1 reason why US is silent: racism. Americans do not see #Palestinians as humans equal to #Israelis. They’re not “like us”. We cry when Jews die, but don’t even care to know the names of Arabs who are murdered. Hence no protest from Washington


Maybe the most prophetic, the most Jewish and non-Zionist is the statement released by Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights who pointed out that “last night was the first night of Passover:


Will I commemorate #Passover tonight? Not a chance. How can one celebrate Jewish liberation from oppression millennia ago while most Jewish people today turn a blind eye to, or actively support, Israel’s oppression of Palestinians today?And I especially refuse to celebrate #Passover today of all days b/c of #Israel‘s ruthless, cold-blooded massacre of 15 Palestinians marching for their right to freedom and to return to their homes



Good Friday 2018

March 30, 2018

The  Message:

No cross, no crown; no Easter without Good Friday

Here we were in 1979, I still see us, a small group of Catholic  teachers insisting that  the  execution of Jesus by the imperial power, Rome  was a public event so let’s take it to the streets where the wounds of Jesus are still manifest. There he is with the bull horn the mighty gentle Christian Fintan Kilbride. The sweet memories abide.


Our lttle mustard seed still grows in the heart of our city.


Zuckerberg: stop blocking Palestine

March 29, 2018

When you get sad about the lies spread about Palestinian justice, BDS and attempts to bring sanity to the Middle East, do not lose hope. There are Jewish organizations refusing to be cowed in this nobel quest. Jewish Voice for Peace is a prophetic voice in the heart of the Jewish tradition.


Here is their visionary statement

We are inspired by Jewish traditions to work for justice and such work is part of our own liberation. We work to build Jewish communities that reflect the understanding that being Jewish and Judaism are not synonymous with Zionism or support for Israel. Our work is part of a broader struggle and commitment to end racism, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry, and all forms of oppression.





This is their latest project



It’s demoralizing and terrifying: new research shows 1 in 9 Facebook posts written about Palestinians contains a call for violence or a curse. And In Israel hate-filled ANTI-Palestinian posts go up every 71 seconds!1
Yet incredibly Facebook removes 10,000 Palestinian posts each year,1 through an extraordinary agreement with the Israeli government.

Its mission is to bring the world closer together — but Facebook is actively pulling Israel/Palestine apart. That’s where we come in.

Mark Zuckerberg is under fire like never before and Facebook is vulnerable to being called on their hypocrisy.  So if we create a massive outcry we can get Facebook to stop blocking Palestine, and start taking on hate speech against Palestinians:
Add your name now
Just this month Facebook has shut down hundreds of Palestinian media and activists accounts, including the controversial Safa Palestinian Press Agency which has 1.3 million followers.
The justification for this muzzling is to stop “incitement” under an agreement where Facebook acts as the enforcer of Israel’s apartheid laws that lumps activists together with terrorists to shut down dissent.
And the Israeli government isn’t shy about getting Facebook to do their dirty work: their own stats show they’ve asked for 12,000 posts to be taken down!


The internet is one of the few places Palestinians can be free — but that’s under attack like never before. Add your name and let’s get Facebook to stop blocking Palestine:

The last pathetic witch hunt

March 28, 2018

Miko Peled, the progressive Israeli american and the son of Abu Salaam, Matti Peled, the general who failed to convince Israel to give back the Occupied Territories now speaks up at the desperate attacks on Jeremy Corbyn by the British Zionist thought police.


Matti 2GEN
Make no bones about it as Israel continues to devolve into an anti-democratic state rife with racism, its supporters will stop at nothing to bring down anybody who promotes the just cause of justice for the Palestinian people.This is as true in the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa. twilight is descending on Israel in its present form.

A quick snapshot which still boggles the mind is the remarks of the present justice minister Ayelet Shaked. who uttered this outrageous dreck on Facebook.


Here she quotes with approval the ravings of a racist settler Uri Elitzur. To sum up: the entire Palestinian people is the enemy and should be destroyed, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
And heaven forbid the mixing of the Jewish and non-Jewish! Oy gevalt!



Can you imagine a Canadian cabinet minister speaking like this? She would not last 24 hours. Well, that is Israel today.
But I digress.
Peled writes about the unconscionable attacks on Corbyn:


Jeremy Corbyn is arguably not only one of the most popular leaders in the West today, he is also the most promising to those who care for progressive causes. This presents a problem for Israel who fears a strong leader who does not shy away from expressing support for the Palestinian people. One can safely argue that Israel and its multiple tentacles around the world will stop at nothing to prevent Corbyn from entering Downing Street 10.
What makes it even more problematic for Israel is that Britts clearly want Jeremy Corbyn to be their next prime minister. He has managed to increase Labor Party membership to unprecedented numbers and polls show that his clear vision, honesty, and casual charisma made him the favorite among many Britts. In a poll taken in September 2017,  a mere 19% of people aged 18 to 34 think the Tories are on their side compared with 53% who say Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor party are. According to the Mail Online, Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has soared since the elections of June 2017.


It is no secret that Israel invests heavily to make sure that monarchs and presidents, prime ministers and emirs around the world stand with Israel and dare not support the Palestinian cause. Furthermore, Israel’s agents and lobbies make sure that those who do express support for Palestinians end up departing from political life. Politicians around the world fear the long arm of the Zionists who, not unlike a mafia, use all means at their disposal to achieve their goals. Now they are faced with Jeremy Corbyn who is a visionary and charismatic leader that is obviously well liked.

For nearly two years Zionist groups in the UK and particularly within the Labor Party have been conducting a witch hunt to rid the Labor party of Corbyn supporters, in the hopes of weakening Corbyn himself. The most common and thus far successful tactic was to claim that they are anti-Semitic. Some fifty members of Labor were suspended including the former mayor of London Ken Livingston. But the comments made by these members, many of whom have dedicated their lives to fighting racism, fighting for the disenfranchised and promoting tolerance, were not anti-Semitic but rather out of line with the official Zionist platform. This is a platform which allows no discussion regarding the holocaust and no discussion on the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people by the “Jewish State.”


In his speech at the end of the Labor Conference, Jeremy Corbyn has shown himself to be the single most courageous leader in the West. And perhaps, the finest and most courageous of his statements was, “And let’s give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.” We would be hard pressed to find another Western leader who would dare use these words. Now that Britts are so close to having a real leader who will improve the lives of all Britts and will indeed make the world a better place, they must not allow Israel to interfere with their elections for if they do, they will regret it forever.


A country of all its citizens

March 26, 2018

The indefatigable Phil Weiss went to a dinner party in a New York suburb. Here is some of the dialogue and as often happens the responses are telling especially LHunter. What is always shocking is the pathetic naivete of too many diaspora Jews who have no clue either historically or what present day Israel is like.



Dave, the host, to me: And what is it you do, you write about Israel?
Me: I work for an anti-Zionist website.(Mondoweiss)
Dave: But you do it because you’re pro-Israel?
Me: No. I don’t really like Israel. It’s not for me.
Dave: So what do you want– no Israel?
Me: No, I’m an anti-Zionist. I’m against the idea of a Jewish state. That’s where I put all my energy. It’s like if they said the U.S. was a Christian state, tomorrow, I’d throw myself into the struggle against a religious state here.
Dave: But we’re not a Christian state, and that is a Jewish state.
Me: Yes, and it’s in my name. I’m against it.
Dave: What do you mean by Zionist? That’s an awfully big word.
My wife: Yes Phil. Good question.
Me: It means people who are for having a Jewish state in Palestine.
Dave: But the world said there should be a Jewish state. The U.N. did.
Me: That’s true, back in 1947.
Dave: And you want to just end that?

Me: Well, it didn’t work out. That’s just what has happened. Communism was great on paper, but we saw how that turned out, and Zionism didn’t work out. It has just led to the oppression of other people. Not to mention the effect on U.S. foreign policy.
Amory, the hostess: I don’t like all the settlements. That they kept building homes on the land that’s supposed to be for Palestinians.
Dave: We’re not talking about that part. That’s after 1967.
Me: But Netanyahu and his ministers would say that they are just doing with the settlements what they did in the beginning. That it’s the unfolding of Zionism. Zionism turns out to be about one thing. Land without Palestinians on it. And everything follows from that belief. Ethnic cleansing and occupation and checkpoints. More land for Jews.


Pi=65 yrs
My wife: Yes, they were given half the land in 1947 and now they have 90 percent. And I’ve been there, and you go around with a Palestinian, it’s awful. They tell you, this is where our house used to be, then we got kicked out, this was our backyard before the Jews wanted to build a road. That’s where so and so lived and they got killed. It’s really like seeing what it was like in the South in Jim Crow or in slavery.
Dave: See that is why I really want to go there. To see that. But you can’t just get rid of Israel.

Me: I don’t want to get rid of Israel, I want it to reform. I didn’t want to get rid of the south, or white people, we wanted them to change the order.
Amory: But what would you do– right now?
Me: Israel should become a country of its citizens, not a Jewish state. Just as I would be against a Christian state here. Everyone under its governance should get to vote. That’s pretty simple.

LHunter responds:

Thanks for sharing Phil. A lot of what was said is said often in my conversations with those interested in israel/palestine.


PI=Izz dummies
I always end with – what would you do if I told you I had a religious right to take your house and throw you and your family to the curb. And that your neighbours allowed for and supported this along with the police. Daily you walk past your old house on your way to the tent you pitched in the park – a tent you have to continuously move when the police show up. Often the police arrest or detain you and your family for any resistance you partake in. The newspapers are not interested in your story and instead have written well of me and my family living in your former home. Each day you see me enjoying your former home, bbqs in the back yard, a blossoming garden with cherry tomatoes, a new car, kids playing ball, neighbour’s visiting all the while you struggle to feed your family and find fresh water. People look at you and your family as vagrants, filthy and beneath them. They often express their low opinions of you by calling you vulgar names. Every time you push back you are beaten or jailed. Your kids see and experience all this emotional and physical violence as does your wife.
Look them straight in the eyes as I always do and ask them – what would you do – im all ears?




Jon Meets Howard

March 25, 2018


And this world is all just one heart
Where love and fear is all that ever beats

So writes Jon Brooks in his classic song Gun Dealer

So many of Jon’s songs attempts to get to the heart of the human. He never stays clear of the dark side of humanity but generally comes down on the side of hope.

Often it is true that

People don’t think of others
People don’t think even of their mothers
People don’t think of others anymore –

And then there’s his riveting song of Romeo Dallaire’s nightmare in Rwanda. His song Kigali asks


Does your heart know the way home from Kigali
One night I asked Jesus if he knew the way
Does any heart here know the way home from Kigali




These are deep existential questions. Einstein asked the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in 1932. “Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?

Freud said yes, but beyond international bodies the only real way is to ‘strengthen the urge for emotional affinity and love.”


Well Jon Brooks asked ask the same of my dear friend Howard Chandler the 89 year old living ember from Auschwitz. We met last Friday.



Howard graced my classes for 20 years . I knew what his response to Jon would be. The smile on Howard’s face still radiates hope for humanity as does the pensive Brooks who assures us at every gig:

Always remember you are loved


The Mighty Quinn tosses in towel-for now

March 22, 2018


JQ with Joan Chittester and Diarmuid Omurchu


John Quinn the sage of Niagara has called it quits for now with his always timely The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education but the brother is always ready for resurrection.



Tina Beattie and Catherine Cavanagh will present on Dignity, Difference and Dialogue: Theology in Context April 27th & 28th 2018
Who knows about the future?

JQ is the unsung hero of Vatican ll in the Toronto-Niagara Horseshoe era.Wisdom seekers came from all over Canada for these stimulating faith events. None of those people were bishops. This alone tells you something. He has been never flagging in bringing the best and brightest Catholic thinkers to Catholic education and beyond. This has been an uphill struggle in what Karl Rahner called the “ice age” of Catholicism, the theological shutdown of Pope John Paul ll and Benedict. But it never stopped Quinsy.

History will not be kind to either pope.between the pair of them thy canned over 100 theologians and stopped the necessary evolution of Vatican ll Catholicism in its tracks.The prophetic however never dies and JQ is living proof of this with his dogged fidelity

He sent out this sad missive recently:
I am sorry to announce that the Canadian Forum on Theology and Education ( 2018 has been cancelled. Forum (a public meeting for open discussion or expression of ideas ) began in 1979 as High School Forum and this is just the second time in its history I have had to cancel.


Forum 2018 Dignity, Difference and Dialogue : Theology in Context with Tina Beattie and Catherine Cavanagh was intended to address issues of diversity and inclusion specifically in the Canadian Catholic school context as a reflection of Catholicity within society as a whole; in other words it would examine how we struggle with issues such as race, gender, LGBT concerns, religious difference and poverty in our Catholic schools, issues that are absolutely contemporary.Tina and Cathy are both aware that Forum will not go this year.

The Canadian Forum on Theology and Education will not happen again.

I am obviously very disappointed.

JQ went on to thank the many people who supported this necessary enterprise over the years.In particular he thanked the recently retired director of the Dufferin-Peel CDSB John Kostoff, who supported Forum as a teacher, department head and superintendent. As Director, he offered to pay registration fees for two participants (teacher, chaplain and/or administrator) from each secondary school to attend Forum. This was also offered by the current director, Marianne Mazzorato, Shockingly, only 8 of the secondary schools have sent in registrations this year for a grand total of 15 participants. 18 schools have not a single participant.  This was a sea change from the halcyon days when Vatican ll was a vibrant memory and challenge.

When High School Forum began in 1979, it was aimed at religious education teachers in Catholic high schools. Although the Canadian Forum on Theology and Education had a broader perspective, it was religious education teachers who, until recently, provided the majority of participants.

JQ tossed out a few thoughtful observations;

From the beginning I have tried to emphasize that Forum is intended to help teachers work with “tomorrow’s Catholics.” If we are only reproducing in our students “models” of who we are then we are doing them a great disservice.



I suspect one reason for poor attendance may be that there are fewer teachers in schools teaching religious education who are actually qualified to do so and actually want to do so. In so many schools it seems that religious education is a fill-in to make up a person’s timetable. And qualifications for many of those who are teaching is perhaps Part 1 of the OECTA/OCSTA 3-part religious education AQ. I ran and taught on that program for years and know how much and how little it can offer. And that was when it was taught by real people in face-to-face situations, not online.


This last reason is shared by many.The Catholic Teachers Union (OECTA) has done very to birth a new Catholic future. In an outstandingly stupid move the union forbade Catholic elders who had taught younger teachers over the decades from continuing to teach on these courses. Across this province many gifted elders who had midwifed young teachers were suddenly proscribed on very spurious reasons. This was shocking. In their place online courses! Who ever got excited online? Our faith is incarnational, it needs flesh on fire, real live theologically aware committed souls to pass on a living faith. Elders were replaced by the dead weight but financially lucrative online courses. This scandal still reeks to high heaven.

And now the mighty Quinn has tossed in the towel.

Ave atque vale, faithful one. We hope to see you soon.


I have recommended JQ for a papal knighthood


Status quo not on for Catholics

March 21, 2018



For those who have yearned for a pope who would embrace “the greatest grace of the century”, Vatican ll we have had to watch a slow motion palace coup of bitter restoratoinists who simply plan to out wait him and return to the status quo ante where the hierarchs run the whole show. This is dreaming in technicolour. Those days are gone forever. Too many Catholics have educated themselves since the end of the Council. They have understood the meaning of baptism as the central sacrament of membership and a call for critical engagement in a suffering world. Holy orders as a sacrament is a distant second, maybe third.



Meanwhile the interregnum remains.Faced with massive defections in the educated north, the Roman church and its quiescent bishops sit on their hands and import foreign priests, most with weak theology, misogyny and a great deference to authority. Instead of demanding the obvious— an indigenous clergy of married males and female priests, these status quo men fiddle while Canadian Catholics shake their heads and people leave in droves. Pope Francis, a man who maintains vatican ll is where we start from is openly fought by too many bishops who simply hope to wait him out.


The status quo ante of course will never return. 50 years after Vatican ll lay Catholics are assuming their baptism, demanding their church to speed up its reform in the computer age and do the obvious: recognize the gender injustice which still hobbles this aging vessel.We no longer believe that Father knows best, especially the vast majority of us who live with Mother.




The Catholic church once a social leader know lags far behind the other faith communities in commitment to the common good and social justice. Hobbled by ideological papal appointments of the JP ll/Ratzinger lost years, social justice the heart of the gospel, finds few episcopal champions.The skewed focus which places the church at the heart of the Christian life rather than God’s reign is a betrayal of the gospel and bad theology begets bad practice.
Diarmuid Omurchu got it right:
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.

We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart
for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign.
The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.



Young Jews bolt AIPAC

March 19, 2018

Philadelphian Emily Mayer is a founding member of IfNotNow, a movement led by young Jews to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.
She recently wrote a piece for Haaretz (Mar.6,2018)  explaining  Why Young Jews and Democrats Are Waving Goodbye to AIPAC.




Mayer is counted among those young American Jews whose last straw was the silence of organized Jewry to condemn the mass murder of defenceless women and children in Gaza in the summer of 2014.




“My generation has only known Israel as an occupier. We won’t back anyone who supports that injustice – including the powerful lobby that is AIPAC,” a “festival’ she has little time for.


She wrote:

As a young Jew and leader with IfNotNow who marched, sang, and chanted in the chilly March weather outside AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference last year, I know that the forces pulling progressives out of AIPAC are of the Jewish establishment and the Israeli government’s making.

As long as they insist on supporting and maintaining the occupation of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, progressives will turn away from pro-Israel advocacy in increasing numbers — both within and outside the Jewish community.


Just look at the polling of the future American Jewish community: Support for Israel among Jewish college students in the United States dropped an astounding 32 percent between 2010 and 2016.
While the Jewish establishment, anxious to make sense of these numbers, points to assimilation and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, the fact cannot be ignored: My generation has only known Israel as an occupier which denies millions of Palestinians access to water, proper medical care, and the ability to elect their own government. Supporting such a system as dogma is a dead-end to the thriving Jewish future we all want.”


Mayer pointed out that this is not only anestablishment Jewish problem it is a huge problem among Democrats


A Pew study released in January showed that while 79% of Republicans sympathize more with Israel, only 27% of Democrats hold that view, the largest divide between the two parties’ views on Israel since the poll was first conducted in 1978.”

Mayer asks how can you be a supposed Democrat, and align yourself with occupation. Bernie Sanders didn’t and he’s a Jew! So what is Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer inter alios  bending their knees to AIPAC?




It will not be enough to protest outside of AIPAC. Progressives of all stripes must demonstrate that the future of the Democratic party lies in policies that push for an end to the occupation and support freedom and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.


If Democratic leaders want to be a party of the rising American electorate – those of us Jewish and otherwise committed to freedom and dignity for all – they must refuse to put their values aside for campaign funding or easy endorsements.

As an aside the most bizarre among Israel’s idolators is the powerful House Dem Chuck Schumer. Unpack this bizarre statement uttered by himself at AIPAC if you can.


There is no peace between Israel and Palestine because — well, because the Palestinians don’t believe in the Torah. Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah.So that’s the reason there is not peace.”
Maybe the answer that Schumer does not believe in the Torah which twice in Deuteronomy repeats Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live. (Deut. 16:20).


Why “justice” twice? asks rabbi Arthur Waskow
To teach us: Pursue the goal of justice through means that are just. And to teach us: Justice for our selves. And justice for the other.

Young Jews like Mayer and unlike Schumer understand that there is no peace in Israel because there is no justice for Palestinians. When people self-identify as Jews and support and unjust occupation they are betraying Judaism


What Am I here For?

March 17, 2018

In 1942 Duke Ellington penned a great number called What Am I Here For, the great existential question asked by billions over the years.
600 years before Jesus, Isaiah felt the call:


Then I said, “Here I am )! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people : Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”6:9




Religion, rabbi Heschel reminds us “begins with the certainty that something is asked of us, that there are ends which are in need of us.”

This came to mind when i heard one of those great kids radically impacted by the mass shooting recently in Florida muse about this horrific event. He always wondered why he was on earth. Now he knew. He had a cause. He felt summoned. Heschel writes: I am commanded-therefore I am.”

This young person is like many awash in a sea of confusion. What indeed is he here for?


Often as in Isaiah’s time the culture is of little help–”the heart of the people is fat and their ears heavy” much like today, If we don’t have a dream (which faith should provide) the culture will give us one–status, material goods, power.Orwell’s prediction will define them—they will be programmed to love their slavery.

Many years ago I was invited by a great teacher in south-western Ontario to take her class as she journeyed overseas to adopt a baby. These beautiful teenagers in her class told me that few in their Catholic education ever told them that they were summoned—to what? A deeper humanity, a solidarity with the human,an alleviator of suffering. I had them read Jeremiah’s conversion story when as a teenager he experienced the divine call:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew] you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.1:5


When the Jesuit prophet Dan Berrgan as a young priest teaching in a high school in Brooklyn said that his wish for his young charges was “to catch fire and burn, to get more out of life than than an upward ride on the golden escalator to nowhere.”


That “golden parachute” is always with the young, a siren call to meaninglessness, to radical immaturity. When will they hear the divine summons, who or what will intervene in their lives.

This young Florida quester got his answer