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There may be still hope with Donald Trump

Posted on December 10, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

There may be still hope with Donald Trump.

Obama warned Trump to wait until January 20, 2017, with destroying the United States. The outlook is bleak, indeed, with Trump day after day making idiotic statements, telling lies and suggesting that money can buy everything, including spiritual values. Just some words addressed to Iran, ”You have wonderful, intelligent people there,” sounds not only stupid and unaware of the abstract definitions of the concept of intelligence, but it sounds insulting. I can see Trump trying to survive in the desert on locusts and wild honey. Now that takes a kind of intelligence that has nothing to do with hotels and casinos.

I find Donald Trump one of the most despicable public persons ever. Even Nixon was holy by comparison, and he made a historical journey to China that will forever go down in history as statesmanship.

But something happened that gave me hope. When Trump chose James Mattis, a renowned and respected retired Marine General for the position as secretary of Defense, he asked Mattis what he thought about water boarding, a form of torture. The answer came quickly and definite: “I never found it to be useful.”

Thanks that there is still hope and thanks to Mattis of speaking his mind right in the face of somebody who has lost common sense, using empty slogans to create excitement and bathe in his narcissism. It was quite evident that Mattis meant business. If Trump wants him in his cabinet, he cannot say, “A little bit of torture doesn’t hurt. We’ll make a better America, don’t we?”

There may still be hope that our democracy will survive.

New Ode to Donald Trump

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)


New Ode to Donald Trump

 

By Gilbert Creutzberg



 

 

 

Donald Trump, Donald Trump,

 

You’re a narcissistic chump

 

Without much brain, without a heart,

 

A sick, prejudiced, old fart.

 

Ode to Donald Trump

Posted on October 7, 2016 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)



Ode to Donald Trump

by Gilbert Creutzberg

 

 

Donald Trump, hear, if you can,

You’re a lying clown, my man,.

Got to move that big fat arse,

Fly your private plane to Mars.


 

Tell those suckers, tell ‘em all

That you’ll build a mall, with wall

You will be their president,

Better yet: you’ll be their friend.


 

For the wall, in cash, they’ll pay,

Can’t beat tax-free living, hey?

And slim girls may go free

No fat girls sleep with me. *


 

*And are sent back to Earth.

 

Solving the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants

Posted on September 14, 2016 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)



Solving the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants


What would you do if you could change an untenable situation that has become a major political issue? Beg you pardon: a human issue.

I kept thinking about it. I traveled in Mexico three times, enjoying it very much. I thought, if I were the president, I would follow the example of Luis Muῆoz Marin, former president of Puerto Rico and founder of the Common Wealth status with the USA in 1952, who asked his fellow citizens, many of them who lived in dire poverty, to form a sort of union, not for Puerto Rico to become a state of the USA, but freedom to live, to work, and to travel to the USA, becoming USA citizens. A large majority – more than 80% - liked it. The Puerto Ricans I know are proud of their cultural identity.

I can relate to that, because I was born in the Netherlands, came to the USA in 1951 and became a citizen of the USA in 1971. I like living here and working here, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot express criticism of all the craziness that goes on in this country. The USA is one of the few “developed” countries on earth with the death penalty. In Holland – as we prefer to call our country - marijuana and prostitution are legal. Sexual contact with mutual consent between people, male or female sixteen years and over and over, is legal. Here in the USA, there are five times as many people in prisons and jails than in the rest of the world. None of that makes sense to me.

In 1993, the European countries, 26 altogether, with the exception of a few, like Switzerland, formed a union. That monumental decision took place in my country of birth, in Maastricht, in the Netherlands. No country lost independence, but the citizens of each country in the union gained the freedom to travel from one country to another without a passport, and could use the same standard, the euro. Not every country was happy. Greece had a rough time adjusting and the English decided to become independent again, something many regretted afterwards. By and large, the conversion to the euro has been a success. The euro has maintained a high exchange value against the dollar.

How are we going to solve “the problem” of 11 million illegal immigrants in the USA? We could solve it within seconds: let them be free! This, of course, after a majority in each country of North America would agree to a unit of currency and to find other jobs for the border patrol. This will not happen if Donald Trump for some unknown reason should become the president of the United Stares. After the election will be, thank heaven, a thing of the past and Donald Trump, let’s hope, will remain just background noise, we can engage in some realistic alternatives. I’ve heard the word “amnesty” being used. I’d like to go farther. I’d .like to see a union of North America.

We must get away from a parochial concept like that of Donald Trump’s universe, and get ourselves ready for a vastly expanded, world-wide union of countries, as travel to other planets will eventually change our way of life. People will keep their history, their culture, their language, their religion(s), and politicians will find other things to talk about.

The plan allows 11 million people not to live in fear, especially when it comes to the break-up of their families. In addition, it is essential to scrape the plan of a wall that separates people, rather than bringing them together as neighbors and friends. That sick, idiotic plan of a wall does nothing to help the USA or Mexico. Hitler started to build the gigantic “Atlantik Wall,” one of his favorite ideas. He should have realized that building a wall from Spain to Norway was the product of a megalomaniac. Fortunately, Hitler never finished that awful wall.

Donald Trump showed total lack of respect to tell our neighboring country that they would have to pay for the wall. Only a person suffering from advanced paranoia.would have come out with such rot.

Some people will say that our great grandfathers came over here and had to work hard to find a place in the society of the USA. People of the old guard forget sometimes that the world has changed. We live in a computerized society. Many jobs have become obsolete. Those who are from the old school insist that each “illegal” resident of the USA has to go back and apply. The majority of immigrants came here without a chavo. Why did they come here in the first place? Because they could find work in the USA. Did they take jobs away from others? No. The people living in the USA were always interested in paying less than more. People who worked here in union jobs, doing unskilled labor, were amazed and angry that they would lose their jobs to others who could not even speak English.

That development occurred right here under our nose. In the sixties, when I was working with the now defunct East Harlem Youth Employment Service, my coworker, Bob, tried to get jobs for the young people, 90% blacks and Hispanics, in the building trade. He talked to a union boss and was greeted with a curse word and advised to take a walk

Now, more than fifty years later, a private school, down the hill from where I live, was built with the help of Mexican construction workers. The union put out the large, mean-looking “union-rat “ to protest, but there was only one policeman on the scene, and nothing happened. Clearly the days of “On the Water Front” are over.

At the co-op where I live, the building crew that does the repair to meet all the legal building requirements is 90% Mexican. Everybody is happy. They do a good job. The management is happy. because they’re saving millions, the co-op representatives know that the buildings will retain their value. The “union-rat” is nowhere around. Only Donald Trump is unhappy, to the point of theatrical tears, insulting the Mexicans for ”taking the jobs away,” and promising his whities better times, from the days of old, as if that will change, should he becomes president. To Donald Trump, resolving a complex economic problem, means to rejuvenate dying industries.

But then, Trump lives in another age. The first thing I noticed about his audiences, seen on TV: no blacks, no Hispanics, except for a couple of token-blacks. I think life would be boring without racial diversity. However, it’s fine with me that Trump prefers his racial prejudice, because without the black and Hispanic vote he won’t be able to win the election.

. The type of jobs that some whities lost is now being done by machines, computers and by people working for low wages, except for a few people keeping an eye on the computer in front of them. Who was at fault of the developments; Obama? The Democrats?

I remember the advertisements that told us we should buy products made in America, but if you can get the same product in a 99c store, run by Chinese people, what do you do? Be honest now, Donald. You scream and yell against the Chinese, but that’s all theatrics. You like to save a buck, just .like everybody else.

Why did the American automobile industry have to take a second place to Japan? Does it help to accuse Obama, who has nothing to do with that economic development? Incidentally, I like my Toyota Corolla that I bought 14 years ago. It has a few scratches, but runs fine.

We are forgetting that for all these years the people of the USA were having an easy time letting someone else do the dirty work for payment lower than minimum wage. And then what happened about ten years ago? Scores of factories in the USA could no longer afford to pay wages for more than minimum wage. As a result, many small businesses went under or moved to China or …to Mexico. It was an economic process that no Donald Trump or anybody else, regardless of political affiliation, would have been able to stop.

Telling 11 million people to go back to their native country and then to apply for non-existent jobs or to apply for citizenship to the USA and get on the waiting list, none of that will work. Shouting slogans with a distorted face may be fine for a grade B comedy, but has nothing to do with reality, no matter who’s in the White House, because it has nothing to do with how loud and crazy or stupid a person you are or pretend to be. To get angry with “the drug dealers” doesn’t solve anything. Who are, for the most part, people who buy drugs? American citizens. We should decriminalize substance abuse and provide more and better facilities for treatment. The ranting and raving of a Donald Trump does nothing to help an impasse that can be resolved with mutual diplomacy and respect. Yelling and screaming in front of a microphone, with a face contorted with anger shows that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Instead, an elegant and painless solution will restore the sanity of an otherwise idiotic situation leading to checkmate. Not having to pay for border patrol, not having to pay for a wall and instead using the money for schools, hospitals, sports and recreation and for the saving of natural resources and of the environment, will be an unexpected blessing for which future generations will be thankful.

 

Donald Trump: the albatros of the GOP

Posted on May 11, 2016 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Donald Trump: the albatross of the GOP

 

By Gilbert Creutzberg

 

 

I’ve always voted Democrat, so therefore I shouldn’t have to care if this man named Donald Trump is doing irreparable damage to a very essential system of government in a country where I live and of which I became a citizen in 1971. But I do care, because the country where I was born, Holland, officially known as The Netherlands, was occupied for five years by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Hitler was democratically elected but turned into a tyrant of the worst sort. I see the handwriting on the wall, and I am dead-serious.

I wrote a book, titled “The Mosaic,” that deals with my teenage years during the Nazi occupation. It tells how a 12 year old Jewish boy who shared the school bench with me died when his whole family committed suicide. They had apparently read Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and they knew what was in store for them. Hitler also ordered that the Atlantik Wall be build in Holland. That meant that the church where my father had been the minister for twenty years was destroyed by order of the Nazi’s. Few people in the USA have a clear idea what it means to be occupied, much less what it means to loose freedoms that we take for granted.

Why do I even mention Hitler when I want to talk about Donald Trump? It’s because I see scary similarities. My guru and group therapist, the late Alec Rubin, whom I mention in my book, said once, “I’d like to have met Hitler and learn of his pain.” Jewish people know that Hitler is not dead.

I see the venomous anger pouring out of Trump. I don’t see humor. The wall that Trump wants to see being built between the USA and Mexico is much like Hitler’s insane idea of the Atlantik Wall, one of his grandiose pet-projects. That wall has been, for the most part, destroyed and some bunkers remain, also in Holland, to remind us of the lunacy of a man who was obsessed with the need for power.

What are the alternatives? In college, we had to learn, among other things, “conflict solving.” You bring both parties together, you discuss problems, and you formulate a mutual strategy to solve them. People in charge list down grievances and check alternatives how to deal with problems. Every college kid will understand that. Yes, it takes time and patience, but the different parties sit down and work out a plan both agree on. They may not succeed the first time, or the second time, but it’s a lot better than to round up illegal refugees by the millions, with children and without food and lodging.

Does Trump really for a minute believe that the idea of a wall to mark the border between the USA and Mexico will improve relationships between the bordering countries? And does he believe himself when he says, “We’ll build the wall, but you’ll pay for it!” Does he really believe that such statements will improve relationships between the USA and its neighbors?

I believe in building bridges, not in walls. Trump had nothing but denigrating remarks for Pope Francis, who was trying, on his trip to Mexico, to do just that: building friendship and healing between people. Trump’s approach to people with a different background, culture, values, history, and living standards consists of sniding remarks that are supposed to be clever.

Nixon was a statesman. OK, let’s not forget that he resigned, (“mistakes were made”;) but history will remember him more as the one who opened relations with China. He didn’t do that with threats and intimidations. Nixon was a statesman. Years later, after his death, John Adams composed an opera, called “Nixon in China.” Does anyone think there is a ghost of a chance to hear of “Trump in China?”.

Trump keeps blasting, with unmitigated fury, that China is the one who should be punished for doing business with the USA and making money. Trump is a business man and should know that when you can get a better price across the street you go across the street. Shopping for house cleaning items, I go to the Chinese 99c store close to where I live. Trump is a good business man, so he’ll probably do the same. Is that a reason to hold tirades against the Chinese government? Aren’t the Chinese people living on the same globe as we do?

Talking about economics: Trump’s supporters, I understand, are, for a large part, white men, who worked in industries that have lost money, for instance the coal industry. It’s funny, but you NEVER hear Trump talk about the environment and global warming. For him, that’s a strictly taboo subject. He probably realizes that there are lots of scientists who have more under the cap than Donald Trump, and that they had to do research work for years before they would come out with irrefutable data.

We must be glad that we are shifting slowly but surely to clean energy resources and that we begin to rely more on wind power rather than on coal. It’s an inevitable process. I quite agree that our government should help people who have lost their jobs due to changes on this earth that affect all of us, but that’s no reason to get angry at the government, or, specifically, at Obama. You can actually hear some angry whites think, “He’s black and he’s behind all that.” The fact is that there are industries that have become obsolete, and that has nothing to do with who occupies the White House.

Presidents, in general, have little or nothing to do with the economy. Stock markets go up and down regardless. Obama, at one point, had to deal with a 10% unemployment figure, for which he, of course, was getting all the blame. That figure is now down to a reasonable 5%, for which Obama probably would like to receive credit, but which is related to normal stock market fluctuations.

That some industries will not recover after a market decline is to be expected. The automobile industry is a prime example. Detroit went under because it couldn’t compete against Japan’s Toyota and Honda. Why? I personally think it might have been caused by unions competing with unrealistically high wages and eventually suffering bankruptcy. Why should the USA government bail out an industry whose time has come and whose time has gone? Obama did his best, but let’s face it: the days that the USA was numero uno are gone. Too many people in the USA are getting obese and prefer to watch TV all day.

Talking about TV: It’s interesting when one looks at reportage of Trump that few black people, if any, are in the audience. That’s not so cool for somebody who wants to represent the American people in all their diversity. How utterly boring would it be to live in a homogeneous society. I personally think we can learn from one another and appreciate our differences, including different skin color, dress, language, food, culture, religion and life style.

It is a shame that our prison system feeds into everything that is supported by people like Trump. He threatened women (and/or their doctors) with “punishment” for abortion, if he would become president. That would fill the jails and prisons up even more. We already have five times the amount of prisoners more than other prisons in this world, and the USA prisons have proportionally more blacks and Hispanics..

Does Trump really think that his empty slogans, his bitter, humorless remarks, and his nasty, unprofessional name-calling do anything to inspire confidence other than to a group of people who blame the first African-American president for everything.

To me, Barack Obama has been the greatest president in my lifetime. He has style, intelligence, wisdom, and he relates to people. Years ago, I saw Obama on TV was with friends playing basketball, and he had to throw the ball in the net from a considerable distance. He made the shot and you should have seen that smile!

Obama was able to push Obamacare through with the narrowest margin, in a country that is painfully behind other countries on this earth with far better medical coverage systems.

Money is Trump’s favorite subject. He earned most of it with the casino business. Of course, it’s legal. He made millions because of people’s addiction to gambling, and with the knowledge that casinos have highly sophisticated computers that calculate to make sure the casino never looses.

Fortunately, other persons within the Republican party are not as stupid as to take a chance with Donald Trump. They know that the prospects of a president Trump will not turn out to be a picnic. In fact, it has been an albatross around the neck of the GOP all along. I tell myself, why should I care? But then, I must care. I live here. This is my country, better yet: this is my planet Earth. My advise; let’s put the Donald in the pasture. Maybe inhabitants elsewhere in the universe are watching us to see if we will learn to live together. .

 

 

The Fear of Loosing Your Balls

Posted on October 13, 2015 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The Fear of Loosing Your Balls

by Gilbert Creutzberg


     On September 18, 2015, the New York Times published an article of how a young man, named Ramon Fabian, was brutalized by one of the guards with the New York State prison system. On September 30, the Times printed an editorial about what happened a year earlier, in 2014, and what should have been done and was never done. .

 

     There is nothing new about abuse of power, but what cries to heaven is the report about Michael Bukowski, who imposed his power against Ramon Fabian. The guard’s so-called professional discipline resulted in the young man’s hospitalization that required partial removal of his right testicle.

 

     As if that were not enough, a victim of this sort of atrocity is up against loaded dice, having to fight a correction officers’ union that makes an impartial investigation impossible. Efforts by the mayor and other politicians who seek justice are ignored. As of today, Bukowski is still employed as a guard.

 

     The type of injury that Bukowski used against Fabian shows that there is more here than inflicting physical harm. It shows underlying, deep-seated hatred, perhaps stemming from mistreatment in his own youth. Those who were bullied often become bullies themselves.


     A justice system that has to rely on such individuals will bring our democracy in discredit. Worse, it will result in people laughing cynically, as if it were a joke.


     Rikers Island, the huge New York City jail, is: a hellhole. Always was. And, it’s gotten worse.


     Justice? You must be joking. It has nothing to do with justice, it’s all about money. If you cannot put up bail, you stay, sometimes more than a year. If you don’t have a good lawyer, you’re told to plead guilty. If you have to plead your case with a legal aid lawyer, you see the lawyer five minutes before you appear before the judge. I saw it all with my own eyes, and I was truly amazed. “In God we trust,” reads a sign. Don’t make me laugh.


     I remember visiting a client in 1982. I parked my car and had to take a special bus across to Rikers Island. I was never told to have exact fare for return. I waited two hours before I‘d see my client. During that time I was not allowed to read a book or the newspaper I had taken along. After the visit, I tried to get change. It took another two hours before I got the correct change. I was told I could not walk across the bridge towards my car. None of the clerks in the waiting area had change. Straight out of Kafka

 

     Prisons and jails will not need to be run like outgrowth of fascism. There are other countries in the world, such as Israel and Sweden, with better correction systems. But then, the United Stated correctional system has five times the number of inmates more than the rest of the world. That has nothing to do with justice. It’s money in the pockets of people who work for the system, especially in small towns.

 

     More than a year after what happened on that miserable day in 2014, our justice system seems powerless to deal with it. Corruption has been the watchword in New York State government, and perhaps there are many guys who are afraid to lose their testicles if they as much as raise their voice against power-hungry persons who should receive mental health counseling, rather than continued employment in the prison system. The State ought to be willing to pay for treatment, since the offender should never have been hired for guard work in the first place. The State, likewise, should pay for retraining in a totally different field.


    And yes, I believe, as a mental health counselor, that the two should meet in the counselor’s office and interchange feelings. .Millions of years of evolution should tell us that we don’t have to be little Hitlers and little Francos in our relationships with fellow human beings


     We cannot afford to have people like Bukowski get away with such foul mistreatment. Neither should others, working side by side, resort to condoning such outrageous miscarriage of justice. We can never renege on our democratic values, which are based on our belief in human respect and dignity.

 

 


Next on the agenda: THE DEATH PENALTY

Posted on July 8, 2015 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Next on the agenda: THE DEATH PENALTY

By Gilbert Creutzberg

 

Justices Breyer and Ginsburg appear close to announcing that the court will soon rule whether the death penalty is unconstitutional. Of course, much will depend on how one interprets those terms of the Eighth Amendment, “cruel and unusual punishment.”

As a person born in The Netherlands, I’m proud that my country was one of the earliest, in 1870, to put an end to the death penalty. I say, “my country,” because as much as I love the United States of America, as a naturalized citizen, I feel embarrassed that the death penalty still persists in this beautiful land. All the nations of Europe have disallowed the death penalty, calling it “cruel and inhumane.” The only one unwilling to sign, so far, with the European Union, has been Turkey.

I’m rather surprised by Justice Scalia’s comment of “gobbledygook” in his debate with Justice Breyer, which showed no appreciation by a learned scholar for another in a matter just as important as permitting the Confederate flag, that infamous relic of slavery of our fellow human beings, to stay on official buildings and also on cars, licensed by states of the USA.

The death penalty does not serve as deterrence, it does no equal justice, since statistics show beyond doubt that it is discriminatory. Yet, the costs are staggering.

Justice Scalia has only cynical mockery for his Supreme Court colleague. That is a shame.

 

 

 

Robots and more

Posted on June 4, 2015 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Robots and more

 

By Gilbert Creutzberg

 

My first contact with a robot must have been twenty or more years ago. I was on a field visit to New York State OASAS, an acronym for Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. I was introduced to “Norman,” the robot, who faithfully rode around the office on a rail, collecting and distributing office mail. I should have been impressed, but I was not. “Norman” was just an expensive machine, doing the work of an inter-office messenger. “He” had no arms or legs, like robots in movies, let alone a face. I wondered who gave “him” a name, since there was nothing specifically masculine about “him.” He must have cost thousands of taxpayers‘ money. I worked part-time as an inter-office messenger when I was going to college at NYU.

All this is important when you should suddenly have become famous, have access to millions and you need robots to do chores. I would not want to have a robot to make love. I wouldn’t trust a robot, because, after all, you have to trust the person or company that made him/her. I thought I’d save time and energy letting a robot clean my house, and I would test the robot – for now, I’ll call him John – to see if he can do any intelligent thinking. I have played bridge against robots via the internet and I’m amazed how pitifully stupid robots are in playing that game.They have no imagination, they can only follow ordinary rules but are incapable of inventive thinking.

Well, I’m putting this robot to work. There are dirty dishes in the sink, somebody forgot to flush the toilet, some idiot got drunk and puked on the carpet, and so on.

“Where would you like me to start, sir?” John asks.

“I thought you were experienced.”

“Yes, I am fully trained.”

“I should hope so, for five million.”

“Actually, sir, it came to more with the tax and the shipping.”

“Never mind. Start with the kitchen. No, at second thought, with the bathroom.”

“You first have to change the command, sir.”

“I’m already tired of you. You’re a stupid, fucking robot.”

“I was not programmed to fuck, sir.”

“You’re fired.”

“I’ll wait for your command to be deprogrammed and shipped back to the factory, sir.”

“I’m pissed off with you.”

“That is not a proper command, sir. You need to press the bottom on the left of your remote control. And then…”

At that point, I decided to stay poor and to live without robots.

 

So much for Respect for Life

Posted on October 4, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Reaction to article on the front page of the New York Times, 9/30/2014, “He Kicked a Stray Cat and Activists Growled.”

 

Andre Robinson, age 22, who kicked a stray cat and then posted a video of it in FaceBook, doesn’t look like a bad guy and the cat is a beautiful animal, so what went wrong? The Indians, who lived here first, certainly had respect for life and for nature, and would apologize to a tree when they had to cut it. What happened to our so-called culture? Do we really believe that Andre would benefit from going to jail, to a hell-hole like Rikers Island? What would he learn? Nothing. I think he deserves the following:

Work doing community service with animals, and learning to love and respect a

wonderful stray cat who’d eat thousands of rodents in a life time

Donate any money he’d make from the profits of his publicity stunt to organizations

that protect animals

Read “The Life of Pi” and see the film – the story of a teenager from India who has to

survive a boatride on the ocean with a tiger.

Open Letter and Response

Posted on September 18, 2014 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Open Letter and Response

by Gilbert Creutzberg

An open letter to the Vestry and to the Rector of Christ Church Riverdale

from Gilbert Creutzberg [published in FaceBook]

5-8-2014 / 5-9-2014

I don’t have any recollection of having been baptized, nor do I have a birth certificate. I must have a photo somewhere of when my father, a minister, baptized me, in Holland.

In recent years, we are being reminded in Christ Church Riverdale that, in order to partake in the communion, one needs to have been baptized, although it’s still okay to get a blessing (Wow!) This appears in italics in each bulletin. It is addressed to the congregation, especially when there are many newcomers. I say “in recent years” because when I started going to Christ Church pretty regularly, after a long period in which I only attended church on Christmas and Easter - that was when Father William Davidson was the rector - there was never any allusion either by him or his successor that you needed to be baptized if you wanted to participate at communion.

I was curious and checked it out. It seems that it has to do with an affirmation of a dogma that comes straight from the officials of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It is comparable to the dogma in the Catholic church that one cannot partake in communion without confession of sins to the priest. I went once to Catholic mass with a friend and asked what would happen if I partook in the communion anyhow. My friend said, “Nothing, but you don’t receive the same benefits as somebody who has been to confession.”

Big deal. I don’t feel obliged to accept everything coming from the archbishop or the pope or whomever, because I consider myself capable of deciding what I believe in and what I put aside. When I hear that a person must have been baptized in order to receive communion, I immediately form questions in my mind: “Says who?” “Who will enforce that edict?” “What happens if I take a friend to church with me who has never been baptized or who was baptized in a different faith, or who is from India and is a Hindu?” “Am I to check with the priest, so that my friend can at least get a blessing?” “What if my friend can’t remember and/or has lost his birth certificate in a fire?”

Next, we’ll have to think about the following step: who is going to enforce the rule? Because if the church states that there is a rule that’s very important, one expects that it must be taken seriously. I recall that Father. Davidson once told a funny story in one of his sermons. He mentioned that early in his career, a homeless man, smelly and wearing filthy clothes, wandered into the church and, seeing people participating in the communion, asked, “What’s that?” Father Davidson said, “That’s the body and blood of Christ.” The guy said, “I’ll have some.”

And he did. What a beautiful story! Father Davidson said to the people in the congregation, “Yes, we can have some, too.”

Humorous as it may sound, the message is strong and simple. There is inclusion, not exclusion. Christ Church is not a club for members who can pay the steep admission fee, like a chic golf club. No, it’s a club for outcasts, for drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals, for human beings from all over – no questions asked. The first time I came to worship at Christ Church, I asked the minister, the late Father Robert Rodie, “Do I have to believe in anything?” He said, “No.” I felt happy, because I have wrestled my whole life to find what I believe. That is that God lives in every one of us, and that’s all. I gave up long ago to become a priest or a minister when I studied at a seminary and I challenged the dogmas of the church, in a stark confrontation with one of the professors, described in my book “The Mosaic.” I went to NYU and began study in psychology. I thank God to this day that I made that decision. Any kind of poppycock that’s offered to me, regardless of its source, must first run through the sieve of my intelligence and pass my critique.

I cannot see why it’s necessary to be reminded each time I pick up the bulletin that a worshipper must have been baptized in order to receive communion. Don’t ask me, either, to believe in the virginal birth or that Joshua won the battle of Jericho when God obliged and put the sun on standstill. Give me a break. I love the poetry of the bible, but to take any line of it literally is tantamount to robbing it of its beauty Please don’t drop dogmas on the table for me to digest. I’d rather go to McDonald’s.

This Open Letter was first published at FaceBook. The responses were positive. With the coming of a new priest at Christ Church Riverdale, Father Andrew Butler, the wording of the weekly bulletin has been changed, as of August 3, 2014:

All who desire to be filled with Christ’s loving presence

are invited to receive communion.

Jesus welcomed all to his table

and so you are welcome here at Christ Church.

I am deeply grateful. The words of a Dutch poet, Herman Gorter, who published a poem named “Mei” (“May”;) in 1921, come to my mind:

“Een nieuwe lente en een nieuw geluid:

Ik wil dat dit lied klinkt als het gefluit,

dat ik vaak hoorde voor een zomernacht,

in een oud stadje, langs de watergracht…

Dan blies een jongen als een orgelpijp,

de klanken schudden in de lucht zo rijp…”

(A new spring and a new sound:

I want this song to sound like the whistle

that I often heard during a summer night,

in an old, small town, alongside the canal…

A boy whistled like an organ pipe,

and the sounds fell out of the ripe sky…;)

 


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