1942: Saint Edith Stein is gassed to death by Christians, including Catholics, at Auschwitz.
1943: Blessed Franz Jagerstatter is beheaded by Christians, including Catholics, in Berlin.
1945: The oldest and largest Catholic community in Japan is slaughtered by an atomic bomb dropped by Christians, including Catholics, on Nagasaki.
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware
Gordon Zahn writes in his 1964 seminal biography on now Blessed Franz Jagerstatter,, “Johannes Ude, perhaps the most controversial of Catholic pacifists with whose writings Jagerstatter could have—but apparently did not—come into contact, held a position arguing from the Fifth Commandment, not only for the abolishment of all forms of capital punishment and war. He had authored a flood of articles over a period of more than fifty years.” Ude like Jagerstatter was an Austrian Catholic. Yet, Jagerstatter never knew about or was told about Ude, by the Catholic bishop and priests who pastorally ministered to him during his life and death, moral and spiritual ordeal! There could not have been an Austrian bishop or priest who did not know of Ude in 1943. So why were Ude’s writings, which were laser-like pertinent to Jagerstatter’s eternal life and death pastoral needs and struggle, intentionally concealed from him, kept from him, not given to him? Why? Is not the salvation of souls supposed to be the supreme law of the Church?
It is my experience that generally speaking most bishops and most priests are contemptuous of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies—although few of them have ever systematically studied the history, theology and spirituality of this teaching. They know they have to give this teaching begrudging lip service, since try as they have over the centuries they cannot alter the meaning of the plain words written on the pages of the Gospels. Bare minimal acknowledgement, at most, is all that the overwhelming majority of bishops and priests—and I suspect most ministers in most Churches—give to this Divine teaching. Their contempt shows its sneering face in such smirking and condescending, patronizing and haughty language as, “That’s just naive;” “You do what you want, but I am a Catholic and I follow the just war theory;” “That is just utopian thinking;” “That’s unrealistic;” “That’s fantasy and we are living in the real world;” “Come back to see me when you want to be a Catholic again;” “Jesus never said anything about war;” or as one German bishop said about the priests in Dachau, “They are martyrs to their own stupidity.”
The English philosopher, Herbert Spencer, wrote, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” My experience over fifty years of pondering, studying, teaching, discussing, lecturing on and praying over the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is that the principle of contempt prior to investigation reigns supreme in the institutional Catholic Church in relation to the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies from the first day of education in a Catholic grammar school or religious education class to the last day of education in a Catholic seminary. Bishops, priests and religious education teachers want nothing to do with it, even if the words supporting it are in black and white on the pages of the Gospels and shine through the life and teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Their wanting nothing to do with it is rooted in their contempt—contempt prior to investigation. It is contempt that finds its source in an intentionally structured indoctrination process that guarantees ignorance on the subject. This brainwashing masquerading as education in the truth of the Gospels leaves the average Catholic, including the average Catholic bishop and priest, with an infantile or absurd understanding of the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. The cognitive and emotional intensity of this non-education or this mis-education or this anti-education in Gospel Nonviolence is so thoroughly nurtured that any person, whether he or she be a pub dweller or a pope, would find it almost impossible not to regard it contemptuously.
“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation,” reads one of the two endnotes to each. Intentional misrepresentation is a lie and is therefore evil. The steady misrepresentation of Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies over the centuries is evil; indeed it is gravely evil, because this is the teaching of God Incarnate Himself. But, lies have desired purposes, and unforeseen consequences. Once the GMO mustard seed of pagan just war theory is extracted from Stoicism and artificially forced into the mustard seed of the Kingdom of God by Constantine, Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas and their disciples, moral, spiritual and theological genetic mutation after genetic mutation takes place. The hideous end result of these ever multiplying mutations justifying violence and enmity is August 9, where Catholic bishops, priests and soldiers think they are doing their Christian duty by gassing a nun to death, by decapitating a Christian who refuses to kill and by destroying 40,000 people, mostly Christians, in nine seconds with an atomic bomb.
Franz Jagerstatter was not told by his Austrian Catholic bishop and the Catholic priests, who were supposed to be caring for his immortal soul, about Johannes Ude and his “flood of writings,” because as it says in the second endnote, which accompanied this year’s FAST FOOD Helpings, “A person can neither evaluate as true or false, nor choose to live, an idea that he or she has never heard.” Bishops and priests wanted Jagerstatter to join the military. They wanted their homicidal violence brand of Christianity and Catholicism verified by Jagerstatter going into the army, by Franz’s life choice and witness. They withheld information and writings that would have help him clarify his thoughts on what he was doing and strengthen his conscience in the rightness of his decision—even though these writing were completely in conformity with the Catholic Tradition (capital “T”). They betrayed him. They refused to help him when they had the materials available for him to clarify his thought with the help of a highly educated Austrian Catholic priest—Johannes Ude—in good standing in the Church. That Franz Jagerstatter discerned the truth of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Nonviolent Way without any immediate human spiritual help is a miracle. He began by denying the justice of Germany’s war but while prayerfully pondering the Gospels in the dire situation in which he found himself, his conscience directed him to fully embrace Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence and love of enemies. As Gordon Zahn writes toward the conclusion of In Solitary Witness,
The evidence is overwhelming that Jagerstatter did accept the basic premises upon which the pacifist alternative—that is, the theory and practice of nonviolence—is based. He told his cellmate that as a Christian he preferred to do his fighting with the word of God, and not by force of arms. Similarly, his prison statement specifically declares that we need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but, instead, spiritual weapons. His all but final injunction of his prison statement is in the same vein: ‘Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who persecute us. For love will conquer and endure for all eternity.
Very, very, very few Catholics in Austria, Germany, the U.S., England, Italy, France, etc. could write this, yesterday or today, after a lifetime of being cleverly indoctrinated in an intense contempt for the very teachings of Jesus that Franz Jagerstatter saw as the truth of God and for which he was willing to die rather than live in contradiction to them.
The situation in life of those Catholics and Christians who murdered Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, who murdered St. Edith Stein and who murdered 40,000 of their fellow Baptized members of the Body of Christ in Nagasaki was similar to Jagerstater’s in the beginning when they were drafted to kill people for God and Country. They had been intentionally denied by the leadership of the Church reasonable access to understanding ideas in the Gospels they were entitled to know by their Baptism and membership in the Church. But in their case, unlike the case of Franz Jagerstatter, they could not discern any other option but to kill people upon the orders of some other human being. Such remains the case to this very minute in the worldwide institutional Catholic Church and most other Christian Churches. Almost universally Catholics and most Christians are structurally and systematically denied an informed comprehension of the Gospels’ teaching on the Nonviolent Jesus and the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. And, the consequences of this intentional, self-serving, partial presentation, or better non-presentation of Jesus’ teaching of nonviolence and love of enemies in the Gospels are also universally the same to this minute as they were on August 9 in Berlin, Auschwitz and Nagasaki.
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware is the planned program by bishops and priests of intentionally withholding knowledge of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies from Franz Jagerstatter and from all ordinary Catholics. This is knowledge that every Catholic has an inalienable right to by Baptism. The Thou Shalt Not Be Aware strategy and curriculum is not only morally deceitful but is also spiritually despicable. It has left the Church a shell of what it could be for humanity as an extension of the power and wisdom Christ in time and space. This is so because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, operates through everyone in the Church, not just the pope and bishops. Whether or not the intentional and systematic holding back from the Baptized Gospel ideas and understandings that are part of the Christian Tradition since day-one and that the Baptized have a right to and need for is “the sin against the Holy Spirit,” “the unforgiveable sin” (Mt 12:31-32; Lk 12:10) I do not know. What I do know is, it is wicked.
But, this episcopal scheme of steady misrepresentation of a teaching of Jesus that Jesus says is to be obeyed (Mt 28:20) has its purpose. Its goal is to undermine freedom of thought, freedom of evaluation, freedom of choice in conformity with an accurately informed Gospel-based conscience. The Thou Shalt Not Be Aware game plan of the bishops is intended to create uninformed consciousnesses and consciences, which will necessitate that Christians make their choices without all the information they are entitled to and need to make an honest and authentically human and Christian discernment and decision. The institutional Church leaders makes an enormous effort year-in-year-out, century-in-century-out to assure that for Catholics and other Christians Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is a non-thought or such an absurd thought that no high school sophomore would consider it sane in the so-called “real” world. Catholic bishops and priests are committed to constructing an institutional Church in which the uninformed consciences of congregants make choices that are consistent with the interests of the rulers of the institution, who almost to a man, from the rising of the sun to its setting, are inveterate pushers of just war moralities, and for whom Thou Shalt Assure the Survival of the Institution is highest operational priority. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware is meant to serve this prime operational objective. “Survival” in this instance being grounded in being in the “good graces” of the wealthy, the politically powerful and the military.
Fifty years ago, Thomas Merton in a little gem of a book,, wrote:
The real crimes of modern war are committed not at the front but in the war offices and ministries of defense in which no one ever has to see blood unless his secretary get a nosebleed. But our antiquated theology myopically focuses on individual violence alone and fails to see this. It blesses and canonizes the antiseptic violence of corporately organized murder because it is respectable, efficient, clean, and above all profitable.
To this list of the people and organizations that “commit the real crimes of modern war,” I would add the Chancery Offices, the National Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican. For to morally justify an evil, either explicitly or by a silence, is to promote and foster that evil, i.e., the crimes of mass murder in which the war offices and the corporate offices are engaged. It is to be morally complicit in murder—and murder does not become any less murder because it is mass murder and approved by Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton or their libido dominandi fellow travelers across the planet.
Franz Jagerstatter, Edith Stein and the Christians of Nagasaki, and billions like them are the universal murdered and maimed victims of this long-standing Thou Shalt Not Be Aware policy and strategy of the Church as much as they are the universal victims of the moguls and militaries of this world that continuously initiate and profit from war. The purpose of this Fast and these FAST FOOD Helpings is to introduce something as old and as new as God’s mind, God’s heart and God’s will into the individual Christians mind, heart and will—whether he or she be pub-dweller or pope—and through individual Christians who will persevere in communication this suppressed truth of Jesus give the institutional Church a new mind, a new heart and a new will, and hence a new Way, Christ-God’s Way, of responding to and vanquishing the diabolical phenomena of violence and enmity in the human condition.
How many times should a Christian communicate to his or her bishop, priest, minister and fellow member of the Body of Christ that Jesus is Nonviolent and teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies? Seven times? Seventy times? No, seventy times seven times! But do not be deceived, the teachings of Jesus that hierarchs and cleric hold in contempt and that most members of most Churches hold in contempt will be met with the same level of ferocious resistance that the Pharisees, Sadducees and Temple priests, who also held Jesus’ teachings in contempt, mounted when Jesus first proclaimed them as His Way, as well as, the Way of His Father and Our Father who art in heaven.
At the end of his biography on Franz Jagerstatter, Gordon Zahn writes:
As far as this peasant knew, the choice he made would pass unnoticed by the world and would completely fade from human memory with the passing of the handful of people who knew him personally…For the very fact that none would notice or be likely to be affected by what he did serves to reduce the issue to the individual and his conscience in silent and inner confrontation with God…He stood alone and knew there was nothing else for him to do but bear his solitary witness.
If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou unlucky one,
open thy mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou unlucky one,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou unlucky one,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.
*Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.
*A person can neither evaluate as true or false, nor choose to live, an idea that he or she has never heard.