The answer is as plain as black and white—Persecutions? Yes.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Pope Francis (L) prays as a Jewish Rabbi looks on at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 26, 2014. Pope Francis faces a diplomatic high-wire act as he visits sacred Muslim and Jewish sites in Jerusalem on the final day of his Middle East tour AFP PHOTO/ VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Late last evening, while watching Clemson finishing out on top over Ohio State
in a battle in the Fiesta Bowl, a breaking news alert popped up on my phone…

The initial report was that there had been a stabbing outside of a synagogue
in New York.

“Oh Lord,” I thought out loud, “not again!”

As the facts started to come in more clearly, the attack had actually happened
inside the home of a Rabbi who lived next door to a Synagogue in Monsey, New York.

Reports were that a man had entered the home, where Hasidic members of a synagogue
had gathered prior to going to celebrate the 7th night of Hanukkah,
and began hacking people with a machete.

The news headline read:
New York Jews continue Hanukkah celebrations after stabbing at
rabbi’s home that left 5 wounded

The story explained that
Five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s home in New York during a Hanukkah celebration
on Saturday night —
but that didn’t stop worshippers from continuing their prayers at a synagogue next door.

Soon after the attack in the suburb of Monsey, located just 35 miles north of New York City
in Rockland County, Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg and his followers gathered at the adjacent synagogue,
which the rabbi leads, and sang together in prayer.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley tweeted a video of Rottenberg
and his followers continuing their celebration of the seventh night of Hannukah.
“The grace of God did not end and his mercy did not leave us,”
they sang, according to a translation of their song posted online.

Here’s a link to the initial story
https://www.foxnews.com/us/new-york-hanukkah-stabbings-five-wounded-synagogue-celebrations

The following day, I ran across a post shared by a fellow blogger…
The post seemed more than ironically timely as it addressed an alarming concern…

The concern being that there is a troubling rise in growing antisemitism while being
mirrored by a simultaneous decline in Holocaust memory.

Meaning—attacks on Jews is on the rise while the history of the Holocaust
is fading.

Fading as many young people have little to no grasp of the darker side of
20th-century history.
Just considering the almost rabid fascination by youthful generations with socialism
then this should not be terribly surprising—but terrible it is.

Here is the post along with a link to the full article.

A Growing Monster
December 29, 2019
by Anna Waldherr

A Europe-wide CNN poll in November 2018 found a rise in anti-Semitism and a
decline in Holocaust memory [1].
Anti-Semitic incidents in Germany rose by almost 10% in 2018, to a 10 year high [2][3].
In December 2018, a Greek Holocaust Memorial was desecrated for the fourth time [4].
In January 2019 a synagogue was vandalized in the Bulgarian capitol Sofia [5].
In June 2019 planned construction on the site of mass graves dating to the
Holocaust came to light in the Ukraine [6].
By July 2019 anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom had spiked [7].
A video showing West Ham soccer fans singing an anti-Semitic fight song about
rival club Tottenham Hotspur (which has a largely Jewish fan base) was posted to Twitter.
There is a monster growing in Europe. Anti-Semitism has increased substantially since
the 2015 immigration crisis [8].
France reported a 74% increase in violence against Jews.

“An alarming pattern of anti-Semitism is spreading across Europe,
from France to Germany to Sweden and elsewhere on the continent…
Antisemitism is not, and cannot, remain just a Jewish problem.
This is an issue that affects all Europeans, and Western society as a whole.”

–Ronald Lauder, Pres. of World Jewish Congress

[1] CNN, “A Shadow over Europe” by Richard Allen Greene, 11/27/18, https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/europe/antisemitism-poll-2018-intl/.

[2] France 24, “Anti-Semitic attacks rose sharply in Germany in 2018, report says”, 2/13,19, https://www.france24.com/en/20190213-anti-semitism-hate-crime-jews-germany-afd.

[3] New York Times, “The New German Anti-Semitism” James Angelos,
5/21/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/magazine/anti-semitism-germany.html.

[4] Times of Israel, “Greek Holocaust memorial vandalized for 4th time this year”, 12/17/18, https://www.timesofisrael.com/greek-holocaust-memorial-vandalized-for-4th-time-this-year/.

[5] The Jerusalem Post, “Synagogue in Bulgarian Capitol of Sofia Vandalized by
Stone-Throwing Incident” by Zachary Keyser, 1/22/19,
https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Synagogue-in-Bulgarian-capital-of-Sofia-vandalized-by-stone-throwing-incident-578217.

[6] Israel National News (Arutz Sheva 7),
“Ukraine plans construction atop Holocaust-era mass graves” by Cnaan Lipshiz, 6/18/19, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/264735.

[7] CNN, “New report shows spike in British anti-Semitism” by Ivana Kottasova, 8/1/19, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/31/europe/antisemitism-incidents-rising-gbr-intl/index.html.

[8] The Guardian, “Anti-Semitism rising sharply across Europe,
figures show” by Jon Henley, 2/15/19,
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/15/antisemitism-rising-sharply-across-europe-latest-figures-show.

A Growing Monster

Then if things weren’t troubling enough, a story broke Sunday morning about a
gunman walking into a church outside of Fort Worth, Texas and killing parishioners.
The gunman entered the church during communion and opened fire with a shotgun,
killing two and critically wounding another before being fatally shot by
quick-acting parishioners.

Texas church shooting leaves 2 dead, witness says gunman opened fire during communion

https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-church-shooting-texas-injured-active

When Evil attacks our Spiritual foundation, we have always struggled to understand.

Yet here’s the thing, Evil is not something to be analyzed or neatly understood.
It does not play by the rules.
The fallen light-bearer is now the father of darkness.
Rules do not apply to Satan or to the Evils he relishes upon this realm we call home.

And yet the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, went on a news talk show Sunday
morning and tried to blame life in Washington and the hate that is seemingly
generated there, on the latest spate of attacks on Jews in his city and state.

Because we all know that when we have no answers, we blame Trump.

But Trump is not Satan…contrary to popular belief.

Persecution against both Christians and Jews has been with us throughout the ages,
yet there is an alarming uptick taking place across the globe.
Physical persecution to emotional and psychological persecution.

Might time be of the essence for both Light and Dark?

Faith, belief, God, Jesus, love, kindness, forgiveness, the family, honor,
righteousness…these are all components of our true essence…the piece
of the Divine which continues to reside in our souls.

And each and every one of those components is an enemy of the Darkness.

I read today that many Jews are now afraid to wear anything that
symbolizes their faith in fear of being attacked.

This while many Christians are being told that, at places such as work and
school, they are not allowed to have a Bible on their desk or to wear
a cross or other religious symbols.

As the shadows grow long, remain steadfast…
for your God will not be moved by man nor darkness.

You will be hated by everyone because of me,
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:22

Moral obligations

“Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”
― Catherine of Siena

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Sigmund Freud

DSCN8599
(ornaments / Julie Cook / 2014)

Does the ability to be creative and expressive give license and free rein to the one being creative or expressive to work without limits, boundaries or parameters?

Does the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of United States of America state that freedom of speech, as well as what some equate to be the right of creative self expression, equate to the ability to say everything and anything about anyone and anything regardless of what may be said and as to how it may be said?

Does the “right” to free speech and what is interpreted as the freedom of creative expression, as is often considered to be a subcategory to the continuum of the concept of freedom of speech, bare any responsibility to what is therefore spoken or “created”?

Just because someone may believe that it is an inherent right to say and create what is believed to be funny and / or a parody and / or that which is offensive to others–does that “right” and freedom therefore make it ok to do so? —Even if it is making fun of or mocking another or what another finds important or sacred?
Does it make it ok if the one being mocked and made fun of is considered to be a bad person or not a nice person?

Such questions now swirl throughout this country following the hacking onslaught of Sony Pictures.

“Oh but sure, this is America (you now can heard saying)–we can say and do whatever we want about anybody we want whenever we want and we can do it in any fashion we so choose. We want to laugh so therefore we can make fun of whatever and whomever we so choose and pay good money doing so–because we can. Hey it’s ok, they’re the bad guys, so we can say whatever we want, right? And who cares if someone “over there” gets mad. This is American, we can and will do as we please.”

This of which now seems to be the sad battle cry of those who feel as if the gauntlet has been thrown down over Hollywood’s freedom of expression.

Perhaps there is more to this “right” and freedom business then just the sake of the “right”. . .
Might the idea of responsibility come attached to our rights and freedoms?
Might a moral responsibility to others not play a role?

Just because we can do and or say something, does that necessarily make it right?
Just because they’re “bad” does that make us better and therefore affording us the “freedom to say whatever we want when and how we want?

Yes, I agree. . .I’m mad. How dare they, whoever they are, or anyone for that matter, “hack” us (as in Sony, and all things Hollywood, now seem to represent everything we stand for as according to the news) with an insidious attempt to intimidate, threaten and cripple.
How dare they threaten us, or any other nation for that matter.
Of course we keep telling ourselves that we are America, therefore we are better than them, whoever “them” is, and we, as Americans, always take the high road on the world stage, right?
We are the good guys.
So how dare they do this to us.

Yet if we are supposedly the good guys and they, whoever they are, are the bad guys, does that not mean there should be some sort of moral approach associated with taking the proverbial high road and of being the good and better of the two?
So perhaps the making of movies that depict, albeit a tongue and cheek, assassination of a world leader, is not exactly taking the high road.
The movie is a parody yes.
Something made to poke fun of.
Not making any attempt to use any bit of “make believe” or masking of the true identity of the real country when creating the story line, allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions as to who was the intended subject, the script writers rather took the bold approach of straight up writing a farce about sending a couple of idiots to kill a real world leader, albeit a bad guy world leader.
Somehow I don’t see the humor in that.

The North Korean Government is indeed part of the bad guys on the world stage–there is no doubt about that, however making fun of them or any other evil leader and / or country in our movies, doesn’t seem to lessen their menacing regime and the very real threat they pose on a global scale—try getting South Korea to laugh as they live under the North’s bullying threats on a daily basis.

I fear Hollywood may have forgotten that there was never an ending to the Korean War, which was actually known as a police action, as there was merely a “cease fire”— which means, in the odd twisted mind of North Korea, they are still at war. . .and perhaps, like a hornets nest, it is not wise to take a stick to the nest, banging on it, antagonizing said hornets. Yet sadly we allow our bravado and ego to give courage to our taunting of the hornets.

A moral conscious obligation.

When we Americans learned of the harsh and perceived inhumane tactics conducted by our National Security and Intelligent communities towards our enemies, we were heard to shout “that is not us, we are better than that! This is America, we are the good guys!”

It seems as if we want to task our Government and Governmental Agencies with the responsibility of doing the “right” thing by others. . .yet. . .
should we also not also demand and task other aspects of our society with the same responsibility of a moral high ground? Such as our entertainment industry?
Humor is one thing but when it is cruel, invokes murder plots, underhandedness, lies. . .it seems to somehow lose the humor—especially when we think of the very real human lives which have been lost to this and other “evil” nations throughout the history of wars, tortures and captivity.

Are we not a nation tasked with setting the ultimate example of what it is to live in a nation steeped in democracy and the freedoms and liberties that come with that democracy? Should we not take such responsibility seriously and understand that being “free” comes with a moral obligation and deep responsibility not only to ourselves but to others around the globe? We are the standard bearer of democracy and what it is to live in a free nation— therefore we are expected to do the right thing by ourselves and others, respecting the mantle that has been placed upon our humbled shoulders.

Perhaps we need to reconsider what it means to lead and what it means to be a global example of freedom, remembering that with such gifts and “rights” come grave responsibility—not to do and say whatever we please rather sophomorically out of our arrogance or based upon ego but rather we are to be the example of living out an entrusted responsibility–one entrusted to us for over 200 years.

I rather think any Korean War veteran who fought, was wounded, or to those countless soldiers who lost their lives fighting, would ask that we remember what it is to be a part of this very nation, the country of freedom and democracy, the very things they fought and scarified everything for by setting an example to the rest of the world.

Sadly I know there are those who will argue that our ability to make such idiotic movies and to then see said idiotic movies is all a part of our rights and freedoms, of which I agree, saying that yes it is—but I also then say that just because we can doesn’t make it wise or right. May we be the examples who rise above petty humor and parody, who rise above ego and arrogance, as we take the high road being the example of responsibility to and with our freedoms and liberties.

Rights to entertainment or moral obligation, that’s the real question.