Saturday, February 14, 2015

Global Warming...

Top of the evening to all...

I was half right.  I said that this winter would not be as bad as last winter.  The first half really was not.  The second half has been way too cold, and on average colder than last winter.

I am further aware of much of the discussion over the last several years about global warming.  I am not sure that I believe in it.  There is simply too much that we do not know.

That being said, I fully support the concept of global warming.  I would like to see a little bit of it.  I would like to see it Toronto.

(Sigh) extra layers again tomorrow.

Stay warm folks.



Top of the evening to all....

I have been wondering lately as to how a tradition becomes a tradition.  Some customs are around for years, but remain only on a small scale.  Other things become tradition overnight.

One of the wonderful modern traditions is the song 'Oseh Shalom.'  It is sung in most congregations in North America at some point during a service.  Everyone knows it.  People join right in.  The version most people know is by an Israeli songwriter named Nurit Hirsh.  It is the quintessential 'Oseh Shalom.'  Here is a link to it: Nurit Hirsh. 

Nurit Hirsh composed this in 1969. 

Another tune, and my favourite, is by Debbie Friedman.  Here it is: Debbie Friedman.

Debbie Friedman composed this in 1981.

What I do not understand is how one composition became the version that the Children of Israel sang at Mt. Sinai, while another just did not.  With only 12 years between the two compositions, they were composed at the same time in terms of the history of Jewish music.

I prefer Debbie Friedman's version.  It is the one we sang when I was in camp.  When done well, the counterpoint is wonderful.

Happy listening.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Noncombatant Status According to the Geneva Conventions....

Hi all....

You are all aware that I am a military chaplain.  I will be one forever.  Upon retiring from the Navy, the letters 'CHC' (Chaplain Corps) will remain as part of my official identification for the rest of my life.

According to the Geneva Conventions, chaplains are non-combatants.  In the US, this means that we do not carry weapons.  We have a bodyguard in the field at all times.  It means that the enemy is not allowed to target us deliberately.  It means that we cannot be POW's.  We are detainees.

The question of being a detainee is not one of mere semantics.  The Conventions continue in Article III, Convention 33, stating that if we are held as detainees, the detaining power is required to let us continue to perform our functions.  The same holds true for medical personnel.

I was with a Marine battalion on September 11th, 2001.  We were in the air, headed up to Bridgeport, California for mountain warfare training and an exercise with the Royal Marines.  This was up in the Sierra Nevadas.  It was late September, and it was gorgeous.  On the last night of the exercise, seven or eight Royal Marines 'killed' our perimeter guard and overran our camp.  I woke up with a Royal Marine in my face yelling "whar's yer weapon?"  I showed him my hands and said 'chaplain.'  He left me alone, and 'shot' my bodyguard instead.

It is of small comfort that if the US ever goes toe to toe with the British, my status will be respected.

Protocol I, Article 41 states that POW's (and detainees) are not to be targets of attack.  They are to be protected, and all feasible precautions shall be taken to ensure their safety.

My friends, we have seen the treachery that the kind folks in Northern Syria and Iraq have had to offer us lately.  Most recently, they have burned a captured Jordanian pilot alive.  This is beyond negotiation.  This is a war on the norms of humanity.  It must be treated as such.

King Abdullah of Jordan has stated that Jordan's wrath will be visited on the perpetrators until Jordan "runs out of fuel and bullets."

This is the right approach.  One does not go to war to lose.  One does not play war to a draw.  One goes to war with the approach of utterly destroying an enemy.  Anything short of that goal will render a war that does not end.

I commend the Jordanians for having such clarity of goal.  It is a shame that such clarity is lacking in other national leaders.

We should all send our deepest sympathies to the family and to the nation of the murdered pilot.  His name was LT Muath al Kaseasbeh.  He had a family.  He had friends.  May his memory be for a blessing, and may we maintain the resolve to make absolutely certain that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime never sleep soundly again.

For the record, I will not, under any circumstances, maintain my status as a non-combatant if I am mobilized to go there.

Have a good evening everyone.