Friday, May 26, 2006


"No tree is so foolish as to have branches that fight among themselves." PRAY FOR PEACE


MEMORIAL DAY 2006: An Open Letter to Congress from a Mother Who Gave Her Son for America
Karen Meredith Remembers Her Son, Kenneth Michael Ballard, KIA in Iraq on May 30, 2004... from BRADBLOG.COM

Karen Meredith Remembers Her Son, Kenneth Michael Ballard, KIA in Iraq on May 30, 2004...
We first met Karen Meredith in Crawford, Texas last Summer where she was one of many Gold Star family members standing with Cindy Sheehan who'd also lost her only son...

On September 9, 2005, nearly a year and a half after she learned of the death of Ken in Najaf, the Army informed her that her son's death was an accident. They had known for a year, but failed to tell her. We blogged about that here.

An Open Letter to Members of Congress and the Senate

I want to tell you about one soldier that will be remembered this Memorial Day. 1Lt Kenneth Michael Ballard of Mountain View, California was 26 years old when he was killed in a fierce battle in Najaf, Iraq on 5.30.04. His gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery is plain. That headstone in Section 60, Site 8006 tells when he was born and when he died. It describes his valor and heroism with his medals, his 3 Bronze Stars, 2 with valor and his Purple Heart.

But you need to know more than that about Ken. You need to know this because you sent my only child to his untimely death. You are keeping our members of the military in harm's way in Iraq and you have the power to bring them home and to stop this senseless killing...

Ken was my only child. He was the oldest of 15 grandchildren. I raised Ken on my own for 25 years and I loved him a lot.
A mother wants to know her child is loved, but she doesn't want to find that out at his funeral when he is only 26 years old. And she surely doesn't want to watch his 26 year old friends bury their best friend. There is just something not right with that picture, but there is nothing right about this story.

A mother wants to watch her son grow to be the man he would have been. She wants to see him gaze into the eyes of the woman who will be his wife, and a mother wants to dance with her son at his wedding. She wants to hold his firstborn, counting the fingers and toes of this, her first grandchild. Would that baby have had the same cleft in their chin- just like their daddy? I'll never know because my baby came home in a box covered with a flag.

My son took an oath to defend the Constitution and to obey the orders of the President of the United States. In return, his Commander in Chief and this country owed him the TRUTH about the mission and why he and his men were going into harms way. They should never be sent into combat without suitable equipment or proper training. They should never be sent to into war without proper planning and without an exit strategy. They should never be sent into hostilities unless it is our last option. In March of 2003, there were other options.

You sent my only child to his untimely death. You are keeping our members of the military in harm's way in Iraq and you have the power to bring them home and to stop this pointless killing.

When you visit that cemetery to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies and proclaim the words of a grateful nation, look beyond the names on the headstones. Know there is a loving, broken family left behind every single one. Think about Ken. Look at his face; look at his eyes. He is one of 2463 US soldiers to die in this illegal war so far. He was the 100th soldier from California to die in Iraq. Ken is not a number, he's not a statistic. Think about Ken and the life that was stolen from our family when you vote to continue funding this war. It is time to end the lies. It is time to put up a vigorous fight to come up with an exit strategy that will end this war now. Do that because it is the right thing to do. Do it for Ken and for me. No other family should have to travel this hellish journey.

Where will you be on Memorial Day? What will you do to really honor our soldiers? I will be at Arlington National Cemetery on this Memorial Day 2006. It will have been two years since Ken was brutally killed.

Karen Meredith
Proud Mom of Lt Ken Ballard- KIA 5.30.04
Gold Star Families Speak Out

GOD BLESS THE REPORTERS WHO DIED TODAY, and the critically injured journalists in Iraq.

Tuesday I'll put the Vegas show back at the top. This is more important now. Just saw the Da Vinci Code and it resonated with me in the way Christ's true words do -- deep inside there is no denying the truth. The controversy surrounding Dan Brown’s blockbuster has opened an important dialoge about the foundations of the world’s oldest religion. I think its important to say here that whether or not one believes that Jesus was married or not, makes no difference; his essential message stays the same: "Love one another." I happen to believe he performed healing miracles and wanted us all to do the same, for the same mind that was in Christ is in us; and the kingdom of heaven is within. "And these signs will follow those who believe: they will heal the sick and raise the dead." He wanted us to uncover the Christ consciousness within all of us. It’s important to keep in mind that the Da Vinci Code in no way diminishes the beauty and reality of Christ’s ministry; after his crucifixtion, his name and his teachings exploded. Christianity grew exponentially and took on a life of its own: the Romans saw this as an opportunity to capitalze on this movement and form a ritualistic church in order to control this booming trend. But Jesus himself taught no theology whatsoever. In fact, the main evil he warned against repeatedly was overly religious people — and Pharisaical thought. The right-wing evangelicals have also mistakenly twisted Christ's message and have wrongly focused on the letter over the spirit of his teachings. Their obsession with sexual immorality tells a lot about them, not anyone else.

THE DA VINCI CODE: Why it Matters

Theologian: Clergy need to learn why ‘Da Vinci’ resonates by Helen Yanulus
A professor in the Theology/Religious Studies department of the Jesuit school, University of Scranton , Eric Plumer, is apparently working on a book called The Da Vinci Phenomenon: Why the Religious Claims Made in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ Have Struck Such a Chord in America. A rather unweildy title, but my heart sings with the knowledge that an institutional scholar is taking the reaction to DVC seriously in potentially positive ways.

Eric Plumer…noted that Brown’s religious thriller is “selling like hotcakes” because an element of the book — which was adapted for the big screen and made its debut last weekend — has resonated with readers. That interest swirls around the role of Mary Magdalene. Plumer’s belief is that Mary Magdalene’s mistaken reputation as a harlot is what people are responding to, as people realize how her faulty identity and the devaluing of women throughout Christian history has damaged the appreciation of the feminine in Western culture. Plumer noted that thoughts of sexuality were at one time regarded as degrading, impure and disgusting. But Jesus didn’t have that fear of women or sexuality.

My note: The Church has tried throughout history to erase women. I heard Al Rantell on KABC Talk Radio actually read from the Canon of the Vatican a paragraph that said something to the effect that "nothing was worse than lying down with a woman -- and it implied that even sexual contact with minors or boys, though wrong, was preferable." My jaw dropped when I heard this.

Also, what is wise or helpful in making priests celibate? How can they understand their married parishoners? And Jesus said, "Call no man 'father' on the earth." Where do priests get the gall to have people kiss their gold rings and call them "Father?"

I believe that the appeal of the book goes beyond this into an extra-Christian interest in the “sacred feminine,” but we’re going in the right direction here. Although Plumer obviously believes that Jesus was celibate, he goes on to reflect on issues of sexuality and the acceptance of women in Jesus’ ministry: “Many people like the idea that Jesus was more human and capable of understanding love between a man and a woman."

“It’s not Dan Brown’s fault that the novel is so popular. Churches have to ask themselves, ‘What aren’t we doing?’” Plumer said. “I think people sense that women were left out. That wasn’t the attitude of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ attitude towards women isn’t fully reflected in the church.”