The Roadkill Prayer

For all animal lovers! Really! En route to work, a passing motorist holds a funeral for a squirrel hit by a car... the Roadkill Prayer.
So, I turned around and drove back. I parked. I got out and searched through the trunk, coming up with some cardboard and a plastic lid with which to move his body. As I moved toward his body, one squirrel was trying to move his body, little legs widespread, pushing the body toward the curb with great difficulty. I paused as a truck approached, put my hand up to indicate slow down, and waived the driver around. I turned back to the body. He, for he was clearly male, was dead. I was relieved for that much for his own sake and for mine, as I do not know what I would have done if he were still alive and suffering ever so slowly to death from crushed innards. His right-hand eye was popped clear out of its socket. His teeth were pushed clear forward nearly out of his mouth, blood beginning to dry on his lips. I stooped down and scooped his furry tan-and-black body onto the hard plastic lid using the piece of cardboard. I moved his body to the side of the road beneath a three evergreen trees.

I placed his body on the ground, resting his paws in his breast, and having no spade with which to dig, I did my best to cover his body with earth using the plastic lid which I’d used to move his body. And with one squirrel on the ground to my left observing, another nearby in a tree chattering, and the third to my right up another tree, I made the Sign of the Cross, paused with them for a moment of silence, and then raising my hands in the orans position, I chanted aloud a version of my “Roadkill Prayer”:

Blessed are you, O God of all creation, we give you thanks for the life of this squirrel, your creature. Now receive him into your eternal care where he might enjoy you forever according to his estate; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I closed with the Sign of the Cross. Yes, it all felt a little silly at near 8:00 AM on a workday morn. A man was mowing his law across the street. What must he have thought as I stood there praying with three very twitchy squirrels momentarily still? Another Bay Area freak?

But the gesture was profoundly right. I was changed. It is as if scales began to fall from my eyes just a bit. Who pauses to mourn a squirrel? To think anew about how we drive without care of our surrounds and those who inhabit them with us? There are countless millions of these pesky rodents. Yet, this squirrel was a fellow creature, a unique creation of flesh and blood whom God declared “good, indeed, very good.” He too is a subject of God’s care and concern in his own right irrespective of how he stands in relation to us human beings. God hears his “Holy, holy, holy” with our own, as the Psalmist reminds: “All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O Lord, and all thy saints shall bless thee!”
With thanks to Episcopal Cafe. Cross posted at Blazing Indiscretions.


turning the world out

i don't know if it's cowardly to isolate from the news of the world. i do know it's a luxury and i don't take it for granted. i have no desire to take up the cause of anything anymore. it seems too much like tilting at windmills and i really think i am too old at this point to want to do so. i find it ironic that my foray into my ancestry has opened me up to history that is far too much like the present to suit me. i am currently reading thoreau's 'civil disobedience' and just finished 'walden'- and although he wrote these in the 1840's and '50's, it could easily have been today. corrupt and greedy politicians and materialistic citizens seem to be the american way and it's a real shame. thoreau tilted at windmills too.

i did have an interesting, ironic twist in my readings- my father's family on his maternal side are part of the seneca nation. and as i was driving home today, i caught myself thinking- if i had to give up my life tomorrow- my home, family, means of provision- i wouldn't be any different than my ancestors almost 300 years ago. those folks had homes- not tepees- and acres of corn, beans, etc., they had villages and keepsakes and lives. and they were taken away by the same type of corrupt, greedy bastards that run things here today.

my mom tells me that there is a saying out there that goes 'if you know history, it can't repeat itself'- or something like that. i can honestly say that it is patently untrue. it doesn't matter if one knows what happened before your time- human nature is a constant. only technology changes.


World Animal Day

Today is World Animal Day and Animal Welfare Sunday.

Some liturgical churches also celebrate October 4th as the Feast of St Francis of Assisi with blessings of animals. Writing in the Church Times from the UK, Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics:
The Church of England has spent decades in liturgical renewal, but does not offer even one prayer for animal welfare. We pray as if God were uninterested in the millions of other species. There is, of course, plenty of sensitivity for the misnamed “our environment”, but when it comes to confronting our responsibilities to individual crea­tures, official publications fall silent.

A classic example was when the Church of England published prayers this summer for those suffer­ing from swine flu. Here was an opportunity to also remember the thousands of pigs suffering appalling conditions, since their maltreatment was one of the causal links to the disease from which human beings now suffer. In the words of one scientist at the United States Food and Drug Ad­min­istration, “high-density inten­sive animal operations” are “hotbeds for pathogens”.

Some note of penitence that our gastronomic greed might have helped land us in the mess in the first place would have been wholesome.
Thanks to Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul offering a perfect reading meditation for today from Ask the Animals: Spiritual Wisdom from All God’s Creatures by Elizabeth Canham
The Hebrew Scriptures offer many poetic images of creation and the Creator’s purpose and joy in all that comes to be. As each new phase of creation unfolds, God proclaims, “It is good.” And when humanity arrives on the scene, the Creator entrusts the care of all that has been made into our hands.

Animals especially invite our attention and honor because their essential nature is mostly devoid of the kind of pretense we have learned to practice in cultural and religious life. If they are angry, they express anger; when joy fills them, they live their joy; and when danger approaches, they recognize it for what it is and take action. Animals express deep care for their young, know how to find and enjoy food, accept their limitations, and live in harmony with the rhythms of day and night, times and seasons.

My love for animals was a gift from my mother, who tenderly lifted earthworms from harm’s way, though she feared their wriggling bodies. This love that my mother taught me was kept underground for many years as I defended an infallible Bible and the Sovereign God who authored it. My spiritual journey has led me away from this early, rigid approach to Scripture, but my joy in the sacred text increased as I learned to allow the various writers to inhabit their own time and culture. With this fresh understanding of Scripture, I also learned to read from God’s “other book”—creation. I now understand how St. Anthony could point to the rugged mountains surrounding his cave-dwelling and answer a philosopher who asked how he would pray without a copy of the Scriptures, “Creation will be my book.”

In the last few years, animals have increasingly arrested my attention and taught me more about the Creator. When I have preached or offered retreats, I have felt compelled to share stories of animal encounters to illuminate Scripture. Many I speak with have a tenuous relationship with organized religion, often because they have felt abused by a church that used the Bible moralistically and denied the value of personal experience and questions. They have turned to God’s other book, preferring time in the midst of creation to pew-bound Sunday mornings. Others who have remained in the church ask why we have often been so self-focused that we have failed to recall and receive the wisdom of the whole created order. Both groups know that each of us, through animal encounters, may deepen our relationship with the Source of all Being. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”


The response to Roman Polanski's arrest from people who put themselves on the forefront of many cultural, social and political issues, is unconscionable and mind-boggling.

The very same individuals who, between their red carpet appearances, can carry on with a seemingly genuine passion about human rights and social justice, have come out in defense of a child rapist and fugitive because he is one of their own. And, oh, a genius. One would imagine that with their gifts and privilege comes a greater responsibility for upholding the principles they appear to champion during their photo-ops, interviews, and lectures. One would be sorely mistaken.

Their duplicity offends every human sensibility that informs us about right and wrong. In essence, by protesting Polanski's arrest and probable extradition, the members of the cultural and political elites have sanctioned both child rape and the splendid notion that when you commit one, you can and should run from justice. The clear message they send is that the child victim, her fate, and the rule of law are less important than their ability to pursue their own interests and goals unencumbered by the pesky moral and legal obligations, which bind the rest of the human race. They have, effectively, elevated themselves above morality and law. And they appear surprised that the rest of us are appalled and do not approve.

Film producer Henning Molfenter, a member of the Zurich Film Festival jury, expressed his own outrage and that of his colleagues when he made a brave decision to boycott the festival and the Swiss: There is no way I'd go to Switzerland now. You can't watch films knowing Roman Polanski is sitting in a cell 5km away .

And I want to ask: But you could and you did watch movies and did lots of other fantastic things with the child rapist throughout all these years -- and that was OK?

The crème de la crème's massive and heated protest of Polanski's arrest is a slap in the face of every victim of child, but not only, sexual abuse and rape. The familiar dynamics of post-abuse denials, rationalizations, and re-traumatizing of the victim(s) are being played out on a world's stage right now, this time with actual actors and playwrights taking on roles written for them by their own compromised consciences (if they even have those).

Victims of sexual abuse, those who have been brave enough to come forward with their stories and confront their abusers, know this script very well:

Oh, he couldn't have done it! Are you sure this is what really happened? He is such a nice man, a pillar of the community, a good father, husband, artist, priest, what have you. Can you imagine him being a rapist? Of course not, I can't either. He doesn't look like a rapist and he is so charming! Well, what did she do to provoke it? She must have done something, you know it. She'd better have some solid proof if she wants to smear such a decent man. Better yet, she needs to keep the story to herself. It's for her own good. Just imagine, she can ruin not only his and his family life, but also her own. And what does she really want, coming forward with these outlandish accusations?

The particulars change, but the story, with its predictable development, is always the same. It no longer surprises, though it is no less inhumane and damaging. However, it is stunning and breathtaking, in a very bad way, to see it writ large, involving people who (some of them at least) pride themselves on possessing unusual insights into human nature.

Here are their names -- directors, producers, actors, politicians, American and European (the list is incomplete and will expand with time):

Woody Allen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Harmony Korine, Stephen Frears, Alexander Payne, Wim Wenders, Tilda Swinton, Pedro Almodovar, Harvey Weinstein, Penelope Cruz, Sam Mendes, Michael Mann, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, the Dardenne brothers, Ariel Dorfman, Costa Gavras, Walter Salles, Jonathan Demme, Monica Bellucci, Asia Argento, Henning Molfenter, Til Schweiger, Niki Reiser, Jan Kounen, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Neil Jordan, Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Huppert, Mike Nichols, Diane von Furstenberg, Paul Auster, Debra Winger, Whoopi Goldberg, Mia Farrow, Nastasja Kinsky, Izabella Cywińska, Jacek Bromski, Feliks Falk, Janusz Głowacki, Andrzej Jakimowski, Janusz Morgenstern, Krystyna Morgenstern, Agnieszka Odorowicz, Jerzy Skolimowski, Maciej Strzembosz, Małgorzata Szumowska, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, Andrzej Wajda, Krzyszof Zanussi, Dorota Stalinska, Lech Wałęsa, Radoslaw Sikorski.


For news reports and legal information about Polanski's case, go to Andrew Vachss' site The Zero.

P.S. Dedicated to Whoopi Goldberg et al: All Rape is Real Rape by Alice Vachss.

Our Final Frontier: Keep Space for Peace

Their goal is cosmic: to keep the arms race out of the heavens. That's why October 3-10 is worldwide "Keep Space for Peace Week: International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space," announced the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Events this year focus on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that fly over Afghanistan and Pakistan but are controlled by pilots at computer terminals on bases in the US. Death at a distance is still blood on our hands, the group contends. The technology produces massive civilian casualties.

Satellite communication technology drives the remote-control robots that devastate targets around the globe, according Dave Webb, Global Network chairperson. "We must not allow these technologies to go unchallenged. Indeed we must do all we can to stop the spread and rule of violence and destruction," he says. The week reminds the public "what kind of a destabilizing future these systems could create."

Protests are planned throughout the world at city centers and key space related factories and military bases. Groups will hold educational forums featuring space videos throughout the week. The actions are co-sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, and the World March for Peace & Non-Violence. Space Week protest sites are listed at

Actual Pentagon Space Command plans for "control and domination" of space are available for public viewing at Below is one illustration from the document, a Star Wars-mimicking graphic, captioned: "US Space Command-dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict"

The 2009 Space Week poster

Source: Press release, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Contact: Bruce Gagnon (207) 443-9502. No copyright restrictions.


Anne Frank on YouTube

A first...A 13 year old Anne Frank is filmed, seen leaning over her balcony in Merwedeplein in July, 1941 to get a good look of the bride-to-be next door.

Many thanks to RickB, who writes
[I]t’s very effective, ties her into the here and now which will hopefully help keep the message alive, the lesson of the Holocaust is that this must never happen again to anyone.
The Anne Frank House has also established a YouTube channel.
[It} shows existing and new images about Anne Frank, including excerpts from interviews with Otto Frank and witnesses like Miep Gies, as well as previews of the virtual museum of the Anne Frank House, soon to be opened to the public. With this Anne Frank Channel, people around the world will be able to explore the life and significance of Anne Frank through unique images. Would you like to stay up to date? Subscribe to this channel.


UPDATED - The Professor as Entrepreneur: Chief virologist in Holland under fire over drugs firm link


I am not sure which is wackier, the disaster politics of the H1N1 vaccine or ethics standards at Erasmus University Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Rotterdam. Ab Osterhaus, chief virologist at Erasmus, has advised the the Dutch government and international agencies (WHO, for one) on approaches to fighting the flu pandemic and has even recommended that the government purchase flu vaccines. reports he works part time for—and has a 10 percent share in—the university-owned ViroClinics which is researching a flu vaccine.
Anton Westerlaken, chairman of Erasmus MC, told the Telegraaf professors have to become a shareholder in any company set up under university auspices to exploit a patent. Any profits are divided 80% to the university and 20% to the professors involved, he said.

Osterhaus told the paper he had done nothing wrong. 'I have always said I am involved in that company and shares are all in the game,' he said.
Earlier this year Osterhaus denied having shares in the companies making vaccines.

Of course, as a powerful institution clearly worried about its reputation, Erasmus has covered its ass today with a perfunctory statement (Dutch) stating that there is no conflict of interest. But it owes the public a thorough explanation of how and why Professor Osterhaus' initially lying about his connection to profit-making companies did not violate medical center ethical guidelines. Was Erasmus aware of that? If so, why didn't they do something about it?

Cross posted at Antemedius and Blazing Indiscretions.


This story is becoming worthy of a Molière farce. Professor Osterhaus' interests and influence are a tangled web indeed. Erasmus MC may want to revise its statement. cites reports today in Financieele Dagblad that he
is also chairman of Belgian foundation ESWI which promotes the use of vaccines and is sponsored by the global vaccine industry, the paper says.

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, the two companies which are supplying the Dutch government with 34 million swine flu doses on Osterhaus' recommendations, are both among the sponors, the paper says.

In addition, Osterhaus is an advisor at Britain's Jenner Institute which develops animal vaccines and has close industry ties.
Good on the FD's investigative journalism! So, Erasmus gave Osterhaus a pass and a nod. How many members of the hospital's professional medical ethics board are linked to BigPharma?


Democratic Hall of Shame

Two amendments proposing a public option were shot down in the Senate Finance Committee today: the first amendment was crafted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and rejected in a 15-8 vote (five Democrats joined all the Republicans), and the second one, by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), was killed by a vote of 13-10, with three Democrats joining the Republicans.

Here they are, the Infamous Five (really GOPers in sheep's clothing):

Sen. Max Bupkus Baucus (D-Mont.)

Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)

Sen. Kent Clueless Conrad (D-N.D.)

and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)

As HuffPo reports, there were predictable eruptions of idiocy during SFC's deliberations:

Republican senators argued that the public option would bankrupt the country and lead to a single-payer system.* "Government is not a competitor. Government is a predator," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).**

Yet the GOP also defended Medicare, which Democrats took pains to point out was a government-run plan.

Sen. Rockefeller is not daunted by today's defeat. As he told HuffPo, "The public option is on the march," a view echoed by Robert Reich in his recent blog post.

So let's do our civic duty and deluge our representatives' offices, again, with e-mails, phone calls and faxes, to make sure that PO stays alive and we won't have to resort to a single prayer option for our health care needs.

*Like it's a bad thing.

**I've been sayin', it's time to pull the plug on Chuck.

Cross-posted at The Middle of Nowhere.


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