• www.rock-on-rock-on.com/cairns-hope.html
  • karen horst cobb: October 2006

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Meditation: Looking Up

    The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19: 1

    Earth’s family is blanketed by the starry comforter as we stand in wonder and awe. This is about to change. The awe of God is being replaced by the fear of men. The stars still shine brightly but many are information satellites. Recent estimates suggest there are over 3,000 satellites in use and over 6,000 pieces of space junk.

    On August 31 the President authorized a new National Space Policy. It was signed late in the day on the Friday of Columbus Day weekend when there was very little press coverage. Since 1967 the Outer Space Treaty developed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union ( and later signed on to by most nations) has set space aside for peaceful purposes.

    Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” program opened space to weapons but restricted weapons of mass destruction. That has been changing in recent years. According to a New York times article last year, “ (the) Air force space program, nicknamed Rods from God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles and hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.” This is just one of many programs being considered and developed. The most extreme are classified.

    The new policy President Bush signed recently asserts that, “Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.” It goes on to say the United States will, “develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain U.S advantage.” In essence it lays claim to space stating that the US “will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.” Under the guise of exploration the door is now open to nuclear power in space in to “enhance space exploration or operational capabilities. The use of space nuclear power systems shall be consistent with U.S. national and homeland security, and foreign policy interests.”

    The earth’s natural resources have been bought and sold and are increasingly being depleted and destroyed. Even the weather is now seen as a force to be owned and controlled. Weather as a force multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025 . The reality of the Manhattan Project was demonstrated before most Americans know it was even a possibility. The dissenting voices after the fact could not stop the technology. The reality of owing space, weaponization of space and the controlling of the universe is just beginning.

    Aggressive bills will continue to be signed in secret on Friday evenings, the press will continue to be controlled by companies which are involved in weapons development and manufacture. However, we do still have a representational government with elected officials. Some will support space preservation treaties and the preserving of the heavens for peaceful purposes. We have the choice to speak out or to remain silent. Will the heavens continue to “declare the glory of God” to our grandchildren?

    Prayer: We know that you have “set a tabernacle for the sun which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.” We welcome you with love and peace. Give us your simple wisdom which confounds the wise. Empower us to end the power of destruction in the heavens. Amen.

    Learn more at the Union of Concerned Scientists site: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/space_weapons/
    Make your views known to elected officials http://www.firstgov.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Meditation: We Just Didn't Know

    To whom much as been given much shall be required. Luke 12:48

    The political ads flicker endlessly on our television screens. Most appeal to our sense of justice and decency. Powerful leaders often come to power by professing their faith in God and their commitment to high moral standards. One powerful leader explained his understanding of his duties in the following quotes.

    As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people....

    It matters not whether these weapons of ours are humane: if they gain us our freedom, they are justified before our conscience and before our God.

    Perhaps many Americans would vote for such a politician. After all, he says he is a Christian and wants to protect our freedoms. This religious politician was Adolf Hitler and these are excerpts are from speeches in Munich (April 12, 1922 and Aug 1,1923 respectively).

    As a child I asked my sixth grade teacher how people could have let Hitler come to power. The teacher responded “We just didn’t know.” I researched that question and realize the parliament passed “The Enabling Act” and Hitler came to power through legal means. The authorization of emergency powers suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus rights. The Decree enabled Hitler to have the Communist Party's offices raided and its representatives arrested, effectively neutering them as a political force.

    This week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which also does away with civil liberties, habeas corpus and legalizes torture in the United states. The fear of terrorist acts have allowed the president to change our laws. Will our children and grandchildren ever question how we could have allowed the Bill of Rights to be destroyed and the Constitution ignored? Increasingly it is easier to understand how people allow leaders to gain dictatorial power.

    There were 200 people who protested in front of the White House on the 17th when George Bush signed the bill into law. Pax Christi held the Vigil of Mourning. The protest went unreported and the law remains unquestioned by many Americans. Perhaps many will someday say “we just didn’t know.”

    It is true that for Christians this world is not our home we are just passing though but as Jesus explained we are to be faithful and wise stewards for we have been given much and therefore much is required. We can have an impact in upholding laws which prevent others from being falsely accused, tortured and imprisoned.

    Prayer: Help us be faithful servants who are holding vigil and waiting for your return. May you find us being vigilant in doing good and speaking truth. We ask for your wisdom and courage to be faithful.

    Action: Research state and local 2006 candidates to find out where they stand on support of human rights, peace and social justice.

    Listen to Keith Olbermann’s comments on the history of abuse of power in past administration and the dangers of the Military Commissions Act. . http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15321167/


    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Meditation: You Came to Me

    …..I was in prison and you came to me. Matthew 25:36

    Fawzi al-Odah’s mother is often found in his empty bedroom sobbing. In August of 2001 Fawzi and four others were fleeing US bombing areas and crossed the border into Pakistan. They were exhausted, hungry and tattered when their mountain guide brought them to a village. A tribal leader showed them hospitality but later sold them to Pakistani authorities.

    Nearly a year later Fawzi wrote to his mother, "Now I am detained by the American forces and investigations are still going on…I will be established as innocent soon, and then I will return back to you…" It has been four years since she received that letter. Fawzi reports that he was tortured badly by US forces before being sent to Guantanamo. He says the worst part is that there is no hope of ever proving his innocence and no end in sight.

    There are many like Fawzi. Some have been victims of civilian interrogators hired by the US and some are tortured by US military. One man reports. "They made me lie on a wooden board. Then they tied each of my hands to a winch. Then they placed me like this. They started taking photos of me. With every question they asked they would tighten the winch. Until I was stretched flat. They threatened to bring my wife and my eldest son and rape them in front of me." Many detainees report admitting to anything their torturers want to hear just to end the pain or prevent the suffering of their families.

    Amnesty International has documented specific cases. Current legislation shows that these torture techniques are encouraged and endorsed by our government. This week the passing of the Military Commissions act of 2006 not only legalizes torture but also makes it possible that American Citizens can be identified as “Enemy Combatants” for “supporting” a suspected terrorist. Presidential advisor John Yoo has argued that there is no law to prevent the president form ordering the torture of a prisoner’s child and stated that even crushing the testicles of the child is not illegal under US law.

    We are living in increasingly dark times. Christians are now faced with difficult decisions. Will we fear being labeled as supporters of “terrorists” if we try to visit those in prison, speak out against violence done in our name, or when the practicing the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven violates our national laws?

    Throughout history honest, brave believers helped to redirect their culture, minister to the suffering, address injustice and make peace. St. Catherine of Siena was one such person in the 1300’s. Although she was illiterate she dictated over 400 letters to people in all types of vocations and circumstances. Many of these letters were to people in power and to those in prison. On one occasion she stood with a young knight sentenced to death for using seditious language against the government. It is reported that his last words were “Jesus” and “Catherine!”

    Will any prisoner think of the love and compassion of Christ because of my actions?

    Prayer: We kneel before you seeking your mercy and grace for our lack of action on behalf of prisoners. You are in prison and we have not come to you. Give us courage to face the truth of our own inaction and the reality of state sponsored torture. Empower us to make a difference and comfort those who suffer.

    Action: Read the stories and see the photos of those who are being held without charges http://web.amnesty.org/pages/stoptorture-reallives-eng pray- for them. Learn more about legislation on torture at http://web.amnesty.org/pages/guantanamobay-index-eng http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=70 Stay up to date with information on the Friends Service Committee website: http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=70 Like St. Catherine we can change the course of history by writing letters to those in prison and to those in power.

    Meditation: The Amish Show us a Better Way

    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV, John 13:34-35)

    This week the morning news programs discussed forgiveness. Experts gently questioned if it is psychologically healthy for the Amish to forgive the shooter so soon. The unanswered question is still afloat on the airwaves. Few people can embrace the idea of forgiveness because it seems to be the opposite of human nature.

    As a nation we choose anger. It is what almost always motivates and inspires us to action. “Righteous indignation “ is what fuels conflicts within our families, communities and our world. We are justified, we reason, to be angry and to respond out of that anger with aggression. This week’s story is showing the world the face of God. It is a model which demonstrates the beauty of forgiveness.

    The Amish are showing us a better way when faced with tragedy. They responded with sorrow for all involved, even the family of the shooter. He was their neighbor! Loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is still the most simple explanation of how to live in community. People around the county are wanting to help with medical and funeral expenses. According to the media, the Amish agreed to this only if the money can be shared with the shooter’s widow and children.

    The morning news experts on forgiveness explained that the Amish have been practicing forgiveness for generations implying that it is almost innate by now. I am sure that it is as difficult for them as it is for each of us. Perhaps an embracing community makes it a little easier but each of them experiences the gamut of human emotions.

    Charles Carl Roberts will for ever be identified as “the shooter“. If only he had learned to forgive perhaps this tragedy would never have happened. His suicide letter cited his inability to forgive himself for what he describes as “molestation of minors” when he was 12 (unconfirmed). He also speaks of the loss of their still born child and his anger at God. It appears that the anger he had toward himself became the core of his personality. It was the thing which defined him. He could not forgive himself.

    There are many mysteries about the mind and behavior but clearly our identities and the things we focus our attention on contribute to our perceptions and behaviors. He did not love himself, did not forgive himself and therefore could not love his neighbors. His jealousy turned to hatred which resulted in murder.

    The power of forgiveness is poorly understood in our society. Our Politicians know how to use anger and fear to gain power. Our national leaders are experts in violence and call us to war. As a nation we train people to kill and destroy and fight back. What we do not know is forgiveness. We do not seem to value it, we do not study it, practice it, or teach it. Our Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense but still the focus is on destruction rather than understanding, compassion and diplomacy.

    Imagine if as a nation on 9/11/01 we had responded as the Amish did this week. What if we had mourned the loss of all on that day and reached out to understand the hatred and anger which fueled it. Perhaps there would not be so many unanswered questions today. What if we had been able to realize that none of us are good, “no not one “, rather than set ourselves up as good and identify the “axis of evil”. What if we had refused to give in to our fears, seek revenge, and change our society and daily lives to accommodate hatred.

    Forgiveness involves humility, understanding, gratitude and love. In Humility we realize that we are all vulnerable and capable of sin. In Understanding we are able to have empathy for the other and imagine the pain and suffering of their experiences. In gratitude we can overcome jealousy and loss. In love we are embraced by the power of God and know that no matter what happens we are a community. There are some things worse than death because love endures beyond the grave.

    Prayer: God of love, we seek to bear the burdens of our neighbors; the Amish of Lancaster County and the family of Charles Roberts. We mourn the loss of the children and the destructive nature of anger, jealousy, and hatred. In this case we thank you for the witness of love, compassion and faith and the example of a better way . Let us go and do likewise. Amen

    Action: Take a personal inventory of areas in your own life where unforgiveness resides. Are you holding a grudge against yourself or someone else which separates you from community? Are you angry, jealous , unthankful or insensitive? Learn more about the role of forgiveness in mental health at. http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=3622 Consider helping to impact our nation by balancing the department of defense with a department of Peace. Learn about the Department of Peace initiative at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Peace

    Meditation: Buried Treasure

    For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

    Jesus teaches us to consider the lilies of the field and how they do not toil and spin and yet are beautiful. He explains that the birds of the air don’t worry about what to eat and God lovingly cares for them. We are instructed to invest our time, attention and wealth in the kingdom of heaven rather than in this world.

    If we live in faith we can stop striving to accumulate more of the world’s resources for ourselves and instead open our hands and our hearts to the needs of others."If I give this, what shall I have left to enjoy?" Such selfish thinking is the way of the ghosts; "If I enjoy this, what shall I have left to give?" Such self-less thinking is a quality of the gods. (Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.125) Although this is a Buddhist teaching it is more inline with what Jesus taught than the teachings of many Christian preachers in America today.

    We are often proud of our “protestant work ethic.” The founders of our nation believed that “idleness was the devil's workshop.” In our culture there is the idea of each man for himself. The focus on capitalism and its rewards have many of us competing against our neighbors rather than loving them. We tend to fill our lives with acquiring material possessions and taking care of them. We are not alone in our desire for material things. People in all countries face the desire for wealth.

    This week in Cairo, Egypt a man and his son were digging for treasure because a magician had convinced them that it was buried under their house. The man hired seven workers to help them dig a hole 20 ft. deep. The team stopped to eat before Ramadan but the father and his son remained behind and were both killed when the hole caved in. What a reminder to each of us.

    How many die of a heart attack as they work hard to save for retirement, put in a pool or pay off the credit card?How can we know for sure where our treasure is or where our hearts really are? On our money is printed the phrase “In God We Trust” but that does not make it true. It is good to go on a treasure hunt in our own lives and look for clues as to where we are hiding our treasure.

    What do we spend our time thinking about, dreaming about, and planning for?Do we have time to speak out against military aggression, weapons proliferation, and racism? Could we share more of our money to help those with untreated medical conditions or who are hungry? Could we buy clothing or heating oil for some who are cold or exposed to the elements?

    Generosity is the remedy for covetousness, greed and fear. Giving is an act of faith and an expression of joy.Striving for material things robs us of the time and energy to build relationships, to listen, share and encourage. It takes times of inaction to contemplate and commune with God and seek His guidance. Wherever our treasure is, that is where our heart is also.

    Prayer: In gratitude and joy I open my hands and my heart. I will seek for the clues which show where my treasures are being horded. I repent for having been seduced by the greed and arrogance of my culture and desire instead to lay up treasures in heaven as you taught us to do. Open my heart more fully to love and make my life a prayer to you.

    Action: Become more aware of where your heart is by stopping now and then to notice your thoughts and the focus of your actions. Seek God's direction in how you can more fully reflect the face of God to the world. Study Matthew 6. Consider supporting Churches Supporting Churches, a response to the Katrina catastrophe http://www.ecapc.org/csc.asp

    Meditation: Father Abraham has Many Sons

    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Rev 3:5)

    Isaac and Ishmael both spawned great nations as was prophesied. Most Christians are well aware that Isaac was blessed by God. Some also know that when Abraham made a request on behalf of Ishmael, God blessed him as well (Genesis 17:20). This week the brothers will celebrate their holy days at the same time. Both holidays Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan are determined by the new moon.

    For Isaac's descendents it is the first sighting of the new moon in the seventh month which begins the new spiritual year. In 2006 that date corresponds to the Gregorian calendar date of September 24th. For Ishmael’s descendents it is the first sighting of the new moon in the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar which corresponds to the Gregorian calendar of September 23. The holiday period for each lasts the entire month.For all the rest of us it is the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the time of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.

    The goodness of God is filling our stomachs and our storage areas. Like the religious holidays it is a time for reflection and vision. It is the time for plowing under dead brittle foliage and waste materials with hopefulness for new life in the future.The feast of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is also known as the "Days of Awe". The teaching is that God has a great book in which he writes things down and each year at this time he writes who will live and who will die in this New Year.

    During Rosh Hashanah, it is taught that One's actions can alter God’s will. Repentance, prayer and acts of kindness can alter the mind of God. This period of grace ends on Yom Kippur when the book is sealed. The traditional greeting of this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."Likewise Ramadan is also observed with fasting and prayer for the entire month. The purpose is to limit the distractions of material things and focus on relationships to God and to one another. It is a time dedicated to the peace of God and compassion for humanity.

    According to tradition it was during Ramadan that the prophet Mohammad read the Quran for the first time.One of the collective prayers of Rosh Hashanah is as follows: "We will celebrate the solemn holiness of this day, how awesome and fearsome it is. On this day your rulership is lifted up, your throne is established in mercy, and you sit upon it in truth. Truly you alone are judge, arbiter, discerner, witness, recorder, sealer, inscriber and reckoner; and you remember all forgotten deeds. You open the book of records and it reads itself, and everyone's signature is there.

    The many prayers each day during Ramadan seek mercy and express desire to be fully surrendered to God (Allah). A poet attempted to capture the meaning and the importance with this verse: “Ramadan is the farm where soul-purifying seeds are sown. So water such seeds by good deeds. Bad deeds will cause you loss.’’

    We, the descendents of Adam and Eve, are more alike than we are different. It is the same moon which we see at night and by which we calculate our days. Each of us seeks to be a blessing to our Creator and each of us is aware of our need for mercy. We are all tempted by pride and self-interest and forget to be kind to others.Fall is a time for plowing. Let the spears be beaten into ploughshares at the beginning of this New Year of reconciliation.

    May we overcome human tendencies to destroy and instead build up one another. Let us reflect on the God of both Isaac and Ishmael and the common bond of humanity.

    Prayer: The great one who ordains the rising and setting of the sun and the waxing and waning of the moon look with mercy and compassion on your creation. Give us understanding and wisdom as we learn how to live at peace with one another and care about the welfare of our neighbor as much as we care about ourselves. Thank you for times and seasons where we can reflect on your abiding love. May swords be remade into ploughshares.

    Action: Read more about the Peace of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah at http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1117 and consider some of the suggested activities.Join much of the rest of the world this month by increasing prayer and fasting for the benefit of our neighbors around the globe. Pray for the hearts of our national leaders that they be turned away from destruction.