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Bill Moyers Essay: On Amish Grace

A year after the tragic shooting, Bill Moyers looks at what the Amish can teach us about healing. For more on Amish Grace, click here.

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What do you think?
Is forgiveness always possible? Is it always the "right thing to do"?


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I posted this story on Bill Moyers Amish school story… Since the beautiful girl in the blue and white dress at the end, reminded me so much of the beautiful Amish girls I saw voting at the schoolhouse, or one like it, on a recent PBS story…

Hell

I

In 1959 after school one day my father is choking, flogging, and bashing me, I am beginning to black out and know he is killing me, I land a left to his face and feel a squishing sensation as I land a right to his gob area and kick him, no use blackout. Come around can not move or shake off the blackness, black out again. Just like walking thru a stage curtain I step onto a path, white decomposed granite edged with grey blue stone, the path is undulating between hills of cotton wool texture, along comes a man leading a horse.

I ask him if he knows where the path leads and he assures me that he does. I wait for him to move off planning to make my own way when he tells me that he has come for me… I tell him that I have a feeling that I will have to go back, he glances in the direction I came from and tells me I will not be going back, which is great news to me and brightens me up considerably. I ask if it is his horse and does it have a name, he tells me it is and his name is Bukephalus… after a little more chit chat he lifts me up onto the horse who, he tells me, will take me the rest of the way. Before I take off on the horse I remember to ask him his name he says, …Ah-Leg-Xander, I ask him to take it slower he says, …Alexander.

The horse took me slowly at first then at a full gallop, me hanging on to its mane, along the path which ended at a pair of open arched gates, framed by the same pearl blue grey stone that had bordered the path. Here the horse indicated I should dismount and galloped back… as he left so too did the path recede. The gates then appeared to be floating in space like the door drifting in space in the TV series The Twilight Zone. The outer view was as for a winter's night, the stars of the milky way and the constellation Sagittarius. One star appeared to be moving and resolved into the figure of a man striding along a path similar to the one I had been on, he was middle height, aged in his early twenties, with light olive skin and dark hair, he was lightly bearded and had long legs. He was attired similar to Alexander in a home spun smock affair tied at the waist and sandals, Pisces. He draws near and says, …Martin I'm Jesus.

He gestures with his right hand down and to his right, my gaze following his gesture… I see my body on the floor of the bedroom I shared with my brother, Mother has just walked into the room and seen my body and is screaming the house down, like she is making a performance, shrieking… Jesus says, …you can stay with me or you can go back, I tell him, …I will go back, then instead of looking at him I am looking at the grey linoleum on the bedroom floor. I am just pushing myself up on to my hands when Mother comes in looks at me, and walks out without saying anything, then Father comes in, looks and walks out. Things stay about the same, about ten days later both parents get stuck into me, Mother urging Father on to batter me at eight years of age, later that year Father would present me with the bodies of aborted twins to dispose of in a backyard incinerator, I had spoken up in their favor when Mother had announced she was off to have an abortion.

II

After this flogging I am lying in bed when I hear a voice calling my name, …Martin
I don't answer. Again I hear my name called and again I don't answer, he calls my name again…
I say, …whose that,
He says, …God.
Next night I am lying in bed the same voice as the previous night calls, …Martin.
I say, …you said you were God,
He says, …I am.
I say, …you're God,
He says, …yes.
I say, …you are actually God,
He says, …yes.
I say, …I hear voices all the time, they are not God,
He says, …no they're not,
I say, …but you are,
He says, …yes. He went on to tell me in 1965 that he had chosen me as his messenger.

I form an image in my mind of Somerton Beach, a beach not far from home in Adelaide South Australia, part of a large sweeping bay of white sand beaches. I ask him if he can see the beach, he says he can. I ask if he knows how many grains of sand there are, he tells me he does, then I tell him that if he told me a number I would be unable to verify it anyway, he agrees. I pick up a handful of sand and tell him that I have the same problem, of being unable to check. I tell him not to look and separate three grains, and holding them between thumb and forefinger ask, …how many,
He says, …three, I tell him OK I believe that he is God.

I ask him if he knows everything, he said he does, I say, …if there was something that you did not know, you would not know you did not know it, so you should not say that you know everything,
He says he knows that too,
I say, …you know that there is nothing you do not know,
He says, …yes,
I say, ...sure.
He asks me if I wanted to know anything, I ask if there is a Hell, he said there is, then asks if there was anything at all that he could do for me, I tell him I would like a guided tour of Hell please. He said, …are you right.
I say, …are we going right away, he said we were.

III

It was dark, like it was night time and I was in bed, from where his voice was coming there just seemed to be a mist of grainy gold light. He went before me as it were, and the wall of the house just seemed to be gone and my spirit body, astral body if you like, just followed his light, for a moment I saw the outside of the house illuminated in the rain by a street light then we were aloft into the clouds and total blackness. The sensation of motion persisted, my thoughts were that here was I on a mission with God, just he and I, …that sensation persists as well, I thought about playing football and was unhappy that my father would not play with me.

Presently, maybe forty seconds or so I could see a light, I said to God, …I can see a light. He said, …that's where we are going, …and I want to see a good landing. We lost altitude and the light resolved into the figure of a man, picture the great athlete from the world of pro wrestling in the 1980's, King Kong Bundy, that's what this guy looked like. He wore a full length gown of some brown material over a white full length smock affair. Allah said, …this is Philemon he will be your guide. Philemon is the warden of Hell, I stood still while he received his instructions facing the light. He is a big guy and a pale phosphorescent light shone from his person, he nodded a couple of times and spoke.

The golden light of Allah faded and the big guy turned to me, we appeared to be standing in the pool of his light on a vast stone plain, bare rock and blackness beyond. He said, …when you came here you just came through the air right, I said …yes that I had, he said, …this is just the same, watch, and he just walks out off of a precipice into a vast abyss, he is hanging there in mid air and says, …come on out. Out I go, and standing beside him see that we are standing unsupported a couple of meters from the cliff edge, he starts talking to the stone, and as he does so the figure of a man resolves among the cracks and ledges at the cliff top, Philemon tells me that this is another of the guards of Hell who has instructions that I should pass. He said, …we are going down. Like being in an elevator down we went, down into Hell... We were going down a long way, black stone all the way. I began to wonder if there was ever going to be a bottom, when in the gloom one perceived gothic arches, tombs in various stages of construction, eight or nine in number, some firmly chiseled giving the appearance of dressed stone, others mere outlines carved into the rock.

IV

We had passed the overhang of a vast cavern, our descent had slowed. The ghastly figure of a human being, blue white skin stretched over bones shrouded by a mist of fine white hair, crouched chipping stone with a crude mallet and chisel at the entrance to one of the tombs, flees shrieking into its interior at our vertical approach. Then landing at the top of a steep narrow path beside terraces carved into the rock, on the upper terrace twenty two crouching figures, like hologram images so too do aquiline human features become the figures and visages of eagles. Proceeding down the path the terraces on our left, under the overhanging roof and into the cave, the terrace below had one hundred and nineteen similar figures representing lessor raptors, hawks and kites, similarly changing appearance from bird to man. One is blind and there is the mummified body of a man, who appears to have been felled by a sword stroke to his left knee, then finished off with a sword thrust thru his left eye exiting the back of his head.

Another terrace below, almost hidden in the gloom with seven or eight figures smooth and rounded like stones in a stream bed, some fairly large, man sized, some smaller. We take a few more steps down and along the path, we are on a landing, crouching figures below and ahead. Philemon turns to me and says, …this is Hell, of all who have entered here, none have left. We were standing beside the top of a circular pit no more that ten meters in diameter, containing the crouching figures of one hundred and twenty two comely blue green winged creatures. Attending them are two hideous demons, one in human form though scaled like a snake, the other a small black figure with short thick bat like wings.

To our front the wall falls away and, dejected amid his defeated company is Satan, crouched, his left arm stretched around his drawn up left knee, cradling his right arm and shattered right shoulder. His right leg amputated high up, a portion of bone sticking out of the raw stump like a leg roast in a butcher's window, a small quantity of dark green blood pooled on the stone below the wound.

On and past him an agglomeration of three hundred and twenty nine human figures, their group profile suggesting the arboreal physiognomy of a low sturdy powerful tree, its leaves and branches indeed its limbs, the heads, faces and limbs of the fallen. I would later learn that these are the recidivists of Hell. On the other wall further up, in past the tombs, ones eye is caught by a straight line indeed a low stone shelter maybe four meters long though only a meter or so high, and twelve hundred mm wide, is built onto the almost vertical slope. This is the dwelling of Chablis, The Devil of the Darkness. Higher on the slope, the stone levels out and ones eye can perceive in the gloom what looks like a hospital bed with two demon attendants, themselves attended by the green glowing bearded human figure of another of the guards of Hell. Seen further in, thru and beyond the entrance of another cavern, faintly illuminated in a pale phosphorescence, the dark billows and strong flow of an underground river, a flat bottomed craft is against a stone landing. A gaunt straining figure is poling his vessel into the stonework against the fierce pull of the current, this is Charon the Ferryman.

V

Crouched down on the boat in twelve rows of eight, plus six in the front row, are one hundred and two women, the furtherest back a commanding and imposing woman of indeterminate age, black flowing hair with a broad band of silver giving her a badger like appearance. Read Dodi Smith's 101 Dalmatians, Smith's description in that book of Cruella de Vil plus the number of sufferers, evokes disturbing literary images, Hell is full of similar ironies. Her acolytes seem to have each arrived at different times later, the furtherest from the back and thus the latest arrival, a woman in her fifties black hair streaked with grey, her bony lezzo's face expressing only anxiety and an immediate readiness for departure. As she and her companions in their turn chant the litany and then the response to the Rosary.

The landing had another occupant, another of the guards in a sentry box affair carved into the stone, a young soldierly type dressed in a full length white smock, shoulder length fair hair held by a circlet of some bright metallic substance. Armed with a broadsword, he fixed his gaze upon me like I was a candidate for execution, and adjusted his grip on the sword. I noted that he and his sword seemed more than capable of causing the death of the mummified body on the terrace, and of severing Satan's leg.

Philemon tells him to put up the sword explaining I was on tour… I proceeded to go straight ahead when Philemon indicates our way is to the right, thru an entrance and into another cavern, the way goes downward via a ramp, deeply rutted and strewn with boulders. Incredibly a large boulder is inching upward, balancing it seemed upon the shoulders of what first appeared to be another stone, the proportion that of a tennis ball and a basketball the smaller bearing the larger. Read Homer describe the torment of Sisyphus, even as the carrier gets the stone so close to the top so does the burden become too much, straining and stressing this mighty man, in physical form a Tom Thumb. Yet we know from legend and rhyme that TT, was a particularly nice guy, Sisyphus never came to this end by being nice. The weight becomes too much and the stone topples from his shoulders and rolls back down the incline, he races downhill after it, the sandy floor of the cavern rolled flat just here the sand slowing the stone. Running Sisyphus gets behind the stone, checks its motion and hoists it upon his shoulders. He traverses the rolled flat sand and runs up the first third of the twenty meter incline, he enters one of many deep ruts in the soil, and the stone appears to be inching steadily upward of its own volition. He emerges where the rut is shallower with the stone firmly upon his shoulders, upward till unsteadily, the stone falls from his grasp and rolls back…

VI

We proceed down the ramp and across a dark sandy place, the light coming from my guide the only illumination. Our way seemed long, presently from the darkness ahead came a dim flash like distant lightning, as we proceeded in that direction a red glow lit the horizon, another flash and drawing closer the roar and crackle of flaming fire. The flashes were coming regularly and had become explosions, we were at the entrance to another giant cavern, the inner view as for an industrial furnace. Long high stacks of burning bodies, like haystacks in a Grant Wood painting, stretched to the horizon in three directions, it was great. Philemon says, …this is it, he seems proud, he asks, …what do you think, I tell him I think its great. A mighty flash as a human being atop an adjacent high stack of corpses explodes into a pillar of bright yellow flame, we proceed in that direction. Thru the glare of the flame, the corpse stack is about five meters high, about two hundred long, and open or unfinished after a section of about thirty meters at our end. Beyond in the fiery haze higher stacks, six and seven meters high laid out four hundred meters long, by two hundred fifty wide, millions of corpses burning in the fire.

Standing amid all this is a critter glowing green amid the flame like the other guards, with a more or less human upper torso, from the waist down shaggy hair and feral hind legs with cloven hooves. He is a faun, he has a goatee beard and a long faun’s face with short sharp horns protruding from a mop of curly hair grown right down his spine, he has Mr Spock type pointed ears. He has a dark olive skinned clergyman in a full nelson going on a hammer lock, he breaks into a broad smile when Philemon introduces us, the priest has his eyes fixed upon a patch of soft golden light, and has his most sickening pastor's smile on his face. He proceeds to ask, ...what's the joke, he does not finish. Within the light, like on a computer screen, the image of well manicured garden, and an expensive car on a white gravel driveway, ivy is climbing on a wall past an ecclesiastical arch. A young person decked out for his first communion has got out of the car, and the clergyman's speech turns to a scream, as his face freezes into a mask of terror and horror combined, and bright yellow flame explodes out of his body.

The guard folds the latest entry into Hell downwards from his knees, and locks his inner arm onto an adjacent corpse. From a large box like balloon, with a square hole in the bottom like the trapdoor on a gallows, tethered a couple of meters overhead, tumbles the naked body of a European man. Picture a spiv from the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, or yet a Muscovite hoodlum white slaver. He crashes a few meters onto the corpse pile, the keeper grabs his left ankle and drags him leg first up, and locks that ankle into the pile. The Euro is made of stern stuff, with his free leg and both arms he tries to climb back up the wall of flaming corpses. Too bad about the other ankle though, the keeper grabs him and applies the hammer lock, the golden light appears, the victim starts blubbering about being molested in a public toilet while still a teen… Does not help his cause any, he explodes into bright yellow flame. Next a teen suicide blubbers before exploding into flame, then one after the other two elderly Japanese men, mutual suicides one supposes, then a Sikh doctor tries to mitigate before he too explodes into flame.

VII

In the cubicle above dwells Bathomet, the Devil of the Fire, he greets the fallen from his within his lair… the outer view has another of the ironies of Hell. In the crooner's lyrics, …Goodbye yellow brick road …you wont find me in the outhouse, or yet view the classic film The Wizard of Oz, wherein adventurers begin their trek upon a yellow brick road. For here in the ante chamber of Hell the way is paved with yellow bricks. Here you can see the fallen in that moment between death and damnation when they themselves are unsure whether mercy or justice is to be their lot, we know of course... A Yankee redneck pops up head first out of the yellow paved road, as he attains height so does his body achieve form and substance, he looks about. Down the road a little are four arched gates going the full width of the road, they are sealed and appear intimidating. To the front a doorway in a plain wall, washed the same yellow color as the paved road, like an anonymous entry to a Madrid Bar. To the right a low wall of some light grey volcanic stone, beyond a scree slope of similar volcanic material. At the doorway a figure tall and lean, clad in western style jeans and a red check shirt, looks like a spiv chalking his cue at a poolroom bar, who looks out the door onto the street and recognizes a like soul, and beckons him in.

Inside the Devil has a mirror, not an ordinary mirror however but a serpent demon mirror that not only acts as a mirror, but can change shape as well. When this particular devil wishes to vex mankind he sends the mirror along, next time you are in the horrors or have the delirium tremens and you see a serpent, or The Wisp, you are looking into the Devil's mirror. …Looking in the mirror the Devil sees the Redneck, The Devil looks from the front, and above chest level, much like a goat, in that he has short curved back horns, a goats head and a full mane a bit like a lion. He resides behind a counter like affair and in some respects resembles a barman behind a bar where Whisky for instance might be served. He extends his right appendage and here any resemblance to a quadruped has vanished, his right arm looks like a long hairy tentacle or a hairy spiders leg. Grasped in a coil is a stick about six hundred mm long with a crude replica of a human hand at the end, the Devil flicks it into the doorway from his side.

Outside the Yankee sees the stud at the door, sees the hand beckon in an inviting conspiratorial way, believes his salvation to be at hand and hollers out, …HALLELUIAH. He enters the doorway and his bulk blocks the light, he takes the next step forward in darkness, then inside, and light flooding past him from without, illuminates the simpering feral head and upper body of the Devil, who activates the mechanism that sends this sinner tumbling, face like stone, into the fire. Next a rubber faced Quebecois politician pops up, he does not like it at all, he has time to walk down and take a look at the sealed entrances, he walks back avoiding the doorway in the wall with its spectral doorman and the Devils beckoning hand stick. He decides to tackle the volcanic slope and the scree, unbeknown to him that way is guarded, four eyes on two demon heads have been following his every move, the demons resemble small feral humans, low browed and rangy. In a trice one leaps upon the other's back, both falling forward, the arms of the upper and the legs of the lower becoming the fore and hind legs of Cerberus the Hound of Hell. Now have these demons become a demon dog, snarling and snapping it drives the unfortunate to the door, he locks his elbows either side of the opening and faces the dog. Inside the Devil casts the serpent mirror, now become an iron chain with large links, lasso's his neck and drags him in.

VIII

Back at the hearth and two West African brothers, twins in appearance seem overjoyed to actually be in Hell, first one then the other seemed to be digging every moment wide eyed and exited, right up until they started screaming and exploded into flame. Then a young Caucasian male maybe nine years old, absolutely impassive, gives out a bit of a squawk when he bursts into fire... then an old man, has Old Peoples Home proprietor written all over him... impassive at the fire. Doctors, lawyers, clergymen, young and old burning like mad, made me feel good. Watching the sinners burn and looking around Hell, another guard happens along, he is on mobile patrol thru Hell and stops by to see what the fuss is. Philemon introduces him, and for a while there are the three guards of Hell and myself, watching as sinners are flung into the flames. There are a lot more young people than I had anticipated, Chinese doctors were the most unrepentant, and a couple of them aggressively spoke back at the light. Positive ID's here included Jolly Old Emperor Bokassa, one time head man of the Central African Republic, who massacred schoolchildren and had the body of their schoolmaster hanging in his pantry when he was arrested. My father and his abortion doctor, and Myklos the perpetrator of the 1995 Hillcrest Massacre near Brisbane, wherein he murdered his two beautiful teenage daughters, then his in laws, then his wife, then himself. I had met him a few years before, he was a millionaire printer and a boor.

Watching them tumble in then burn, I am suffering from fatigue, bearing in mind that when Allah called me it was night time, and I was in bed. I was really tired and I told Philemon that I have to get a bit of sleep, and that I have to attend school the following day, that's if it was not past midnight already. Philemon has never heard of sleep, or school and knows of no way I might return… I explain about sleep and he says I can doss down anywhere, I tell him that the fire is a bit too bright and that I needed darkness. So we walk back the way we had come, the other guard had finished his patrol thru the fire and was going that way, so we three bade farewell to the keeper of the fire, or the racker up of the dead, I did hear his name but forgot, he was a cool guy, cloven hooves and all. Heading back out of the fire cave they say just relax, crash anywhere you like on the sand, we go along the far wall and there is a bit of an overhang and I try to crash out there. Just like always, brutally tired but unable to sleep, I tell both guards that I can't sleep, then sitting down then I lie down and get some sleep. Before nodding off I wondered how I was going to be able to get back from Hell.

The next day I just wake up at home and proceed to school as per normal. So it is that sometimes when I go to sleep at night I will wake up in Hell, then in Hell will continue the tour till I go back to sleep and wake up at home. The very next time I wake in Hell is when there is a sensation of rats running all over me, I go to sleep at home after school normally. I wake with the sensation of running feet and a tiny hand has lifted my right eyelid, rolling my eyeball down I am eye to eye with a little rat sized critter. I sit up with a start… Philemon and the other guard ask what's the matter and I explain that I have been over run. By way of illustration a swarm of rat critters doubles back over my out stretched legs, the guards tell me that these are fire demons, and explain that they live in the fire and are in fact the wild life of Hell. They come to this spot, indeed the location I had chosen to lie down adjacent to a bit of an overhang, got that way because here the fire demons mine sulphur, and spread it throughout the fire. In another of the ironies of Hell, the fire demons are dressed in Personal Protective Equipment, resembling a hood woven of some coarse substance which comes right down the body forming an apron. They scratch away at the deposit of sulphur and gather it in the apron, then race back and spread it thru the body of the fire, along tunnels built in during construction. MAN Magazine was published in Australia until about the late sixties, it had a serial comic set in Hell, drawn by an Australian comic artist, called Infernal Nonsense, it portrayed the fire demons perfectly.

So the guards tell me the fire demons are harmless, I want to take a leak before going back to sleep, the guards say just do it and I splash a bit onto the fire demons. They become exited and a group of them gather, I get the lot of them, then I move on down a bit and get a bit more sleep. Bye and bye when I wake in Hell I stretch a little, thirst troubleth me not nor hunger, looking around and there is definitely a grayness, it was not as black as before, whence came this illumination I was never to find out. Both guards are still there and they wanted to know if I had slept well, I told them I had, the fire demons were nowhere to be seen but their tracks were everywhere in the sand. The guard who was on mobile patrol said now that I was awake he would resume his normal duties and bade farewell. Philemon and I headed back across the sand to go up the ramp, and back into the first circle of Hell.

I explain to him that it is most unusual for someone from my culture to meet someone like him, and asked him if I might ask him a little about himself, he says that's fine go ahead. He told me that he was a mortal being, and that he was past normal life expectancy for his people, and that he had recently attended a funeral for a friend of his who was in fact a little older than himself. He said he had been in Hell for most of his working life and he was sore tired of it. I asked whether he had any notion of an afterlife, and he told me that he was in fact an unbeliever, and that he did not subscribe to the notion of an afterlife at all. He said his position was not unique among his kind, however there were very many of his people who did have a different perspective… I could not believe it, I said how can he doubt an afterlife and still be the Warden of Hell, we had just been at the fire, where millions upon millions of burning bodies testified to an after life, at least in so far as these were concerned. I told him I was the same species as these burners, likewise said I, it was not adherence to any creed nor testimony that placed them in the fire, they simply wanted to be bad.

IX

He said that one could muse endlessly on such topics, and in any case his orders were clear, and they were that he keep count. We were back at the ramp where Sisyphus continued his toil, on and past him and into the first circle past the Swordsman, we turn right and proceed by Satan. Philemon tells me that as we go now thru the first circle, we would pass close by a lot of committed sinners, for that reason Allah had decreed that here I can only see and hear, nor can I touch or feel, and that the fallen cannot see me. A few paces more and we are level with Satan, he has a wild fearless bold face, the kind of guy you would like to be friends with, at first glance he appears about twenty four years old. In human terms crouched down with one only leg he is about one sixty cm, standing he would probably be pretty tall. Looking again, has he been spoiled, as Philemon who is of the same tribe as he passes, his visage becomes satanic as he beholds his jailer in vile loathing. A turnkey only, since both are here by direction of higher authority. We pass and he looks at the ceiling of his dungeon as if beholding Allah, his face expressing concern that his friend should abandon him. Then from this angle his face is a mass of wrinkles and creases, betraying his great age.

The path proceeds to the outer most branches of the Zaqqum Tree, described in the Koran and the home for the recidivists of Hell, There are three hundred and twenty nine, all have been inside before. A recent arrival a young male person is sobbing uncontrollably, he would have been a nice looking young man in his day, ironically not unlike a small version of Satan himself, who is doing his time as described, just a couple of meters away. The Warden touches him lightly between the shoulder blades at the back, and he lifts his tear stained face to see what wondrous soul could have shown him kindness here. The other residents of this place crowd along the path crying, …touch us …look upon us …Although they are crowded together, they do not actually touch each other, and nowhere in Hell do the fallen provide comfort to each other. He produces a whisk from his cloak and whips the souls away from the path, where the lash falls so do the fallen know such marvelous comfort. Here the way narrows, and at this place the tree dwellers are covered with thick dust attesting to the very great length of time of their stay.

Our way is now past the Zaqqum Tree and we have come to another place, this is called The Outer Darkness and is the home of mortal women, a vast plain with row upon row of lost souls. Up this end and close by they are in more or less pristine condition, back further and signs of wear, then right down the back really badly worn corpses, eyeballs gone and skin, bone sinew… We go left our way has taken us around a large pillar, along this side the path runs parallel to the front row of femme corpses to the ladies place of judgment under the ferry landing.

Thus for the illusion of the underground river the boat and the ferryman was just that, the blue green water now an undulating layer of imps, succubi, tethered to and feeding upon the fallen. The ferry now a stony place with one hundred and two reciting the Rosary nonetheless, the ferryman like the demons in the other place, consists of two like beings Gog and Magog, picture Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street… one perched upon the others shoulders, the upper asleep the lower alert. The ferryman's pole now a support for the upper slumbering demon, the ticking of the clock in this place is when they change places.

X

Then on the upper level, the ladies destined to undergo Hell enter, here the pale green light of another of the guards and the fake hospital bed with its two demon attendants prevent hysterics, providing the illusion to the newly arrived and damned woman that she is to be conveyed to some sanatorium place, and a construct not unlike an aquarium… The woman's perspective is thus, she dies on Earth, testimony says she will be drawn down a tube past an exit leading to a happy place, the way becomes cold, then colder and colder, the way will become tighter until form and substance is achieved. She will be delivered intact and unharmed into the aquarium like enclosure, though she can move and breathe there is very little room to move her feet, it is very cold.

In an adjacent place in a fore described dwelling Chablis stirs, he is a Devil, maybe four meters long tip to tip, lean in human shape and going on all fours, pointed chin and long crescent moon face. His eyes are tiny peepers at the inner end of conical eye sockets, open mouthed he does not seem possessed of a tongue, no tail visible. He seems to flow across the stone and up the slope, glancing from the top into the aquarium structure, he reaches with his left hand and finds a device seen in the possession of the Joker in a pack of cards, it is a stick with the three pointed star and a painted face …A Marotte is a prop stick with a carved head on it. Typically carried by a jester or harlequin, the miniature head will often reflect the costume of the jester who carries it. Their hats were especially distinctive; made of cloth, they were floppy with three points, called liliripes, each of which had a jingle bell at the end. Wikipedia.

In this document the ironies of Hell are described, from the perspective of the woman who is about to be cast into Hell, the Devil's marotte resembles in both detail and legend Humpty Dumpty, and like in the verse he is sitting upon a wall. The Devil tweaks his wrist and Humpty's arms and head piece wave, this attracts the horrified attention of our woman, the Devil's other arm reaches in past an airlock, he is a monstrous creature and takes hold of her by the waist, his touch is freezing and like the passengers on the Titanic that jumped into the icy North Atlantic, she suffers Diaphragmatic Paralysis inducing a condition known as Dyspnea she is unable to either inhale or exhale. The Devil then pulls her thru an opening that is altogether too small, leaning the marotte back against the side of the aquarium structure, he inspects his prey like King Kong and Monica Stevens in the movie KK. Then like Vida Blue at Yankee Stadium, he pitches her head first into the solid stone of the central pillar of Hell, the target zone well defined by the splatter marks. She slams into the column and slides down the almost vertical slope and crashes semi conscious into Hell proper, dazed and disorientated, the clip clop of cloven hooves, and the approach of a monstrous creature. Horned and hoofed, another faun the identical twin of the critter that racks up the sinners in the fire, not ungently he picks her up and takes her to the place where she is to hear the judgment, and to be joined onto a vast chain of women's body's.

XI

The first time here, first left turn past the Zuqqum tree and walking with the Warden of Hell along past a long row of women, bodies all crouched, locked together at the wrist, two in from the end and there's Mum. She died under aggravated circumstances in 1980, there were signs of a struggle, part of the door frame was broken even as though someone was hanging on with finger and nail yet dragged away and killed. Father said he did it, he drew ones attention to it and said he did it in his grief. I was working as a tower rigger on a ninety seven meter tower in the Queensland town of Dalby, the groundy had radioed the tower that the local police wished to talk, they said ring home and Father told me she had passed away thru the night. He would not let me view her body, I would have liked to see whether her fingers were bruised. Prior to his own death in 1993 I had told Father that before any reconciliation could take place, he would have to tell me again about how he should not have let me live, this was after presenting me with the bodies of the aborted twins in 1959. He went into Hell praising God, totally fooled by the illusory doorman and the Fire Devil's hand stick… So while I was camped out overnight in the back blocks of Hell twenty one years had passed on Earth. She did not look any different a bit tense is all, I did not dwell on her circumstances and continued the tour.

Here the racker up of the dead picks them up by their elbows, after they have tumbled down after slamming into the stonework, drags them their heels dragging, the few meters adjacent to where Philemon customarily stands, which is the judgment place of the outer darkness. Here a soft golden light shaped like a television screen appears and the wrong doer will see just what has gotten her into Hell. An elegant African lady is in the hands of the monster as we approach, she is transfixed at the images in the light, the gentle touch of the giant has relieved the symptom of dyspnea and cancelled the diaphragmatic paralysis caused by the chill touch of the Devil, …NO, she says, …NO …NOOO. The last breath in she took was in the breathable air of the aquarium, that breath frozen in her body till now. She breathes in and is paralyzed by a symptom resembling Carbon Dioxide Paralysis of the Respiratory System, she collapses at the knees, he locks her wrist, hand and fingers to the woman on her left, and a tremor goes thru the whole of the outer darkness as the slack is taken in, and the place at the front is ready for the next customer.

XII

She is not long in arriving it is a malnourished looking peroxide blonde with close cropped hair, you might see her at a pro abortion rally or voting for Hillary Clinton, in fact given the time warps common here it might have been Hillary... It was not though, she starts screaming, …I don't believe …I don't believe, until she runs out of puff and locks up and gets locked in. The next is a small dark Woman from some Mediterranean place, in her late years, within the light, high top limo's from a bygone era and an assassination outside of an immigrant barbershop. She watches smug from an upstairs window across the street… she starts to scream abuse in some home dialect straight into the light, the scream dying on her lips as she locks up and joins the chain… So this is the outer darkness then, having a good look about, the ranks of bodies stretched to the horizon in three directions, as the body is racked up and chained on, a succubus rises put of the physical entity that was recently a human being walking abroad upon the planet Earth. It first looks like a balloon tethered with a cord down the spine and out of the head of the deceased, within the body of the balloon a faun critter like a miniature version of the racker, shaggy feral legs and cloven hooves, curly mop of hair and horns, pointed ears. I would later learn that this being will be the judge at the second judgment.

Looking about and taking it all in I tell Philemon it was great, and thanks very much for the tour. He says he thought I wanted to see the whole of Hell, I said I did and was there more, he assured me there was and cast an image into my mind of serried ranks kneeling in the oriental prayer position. Tall spires of ash on their shoulders and heads, balancing on the balls of both feet and their knees, straight backed, hands on thighs palms downward, fingers together, resembling the statues in a Thai temple.

Just where they could be I did not know and he says to follow him, and back thru the first circle past Satan, The Tree and the Swordsman, past Sisyphus straining up the incline with his stone, across the desert and back into the fire cave. Down past the place of judgment and explosions of fire every forty seconds or so, thumbs up to the faun racking them up, then down between the vast flaming stacks of burning bodies to the nether part of Hell. As we move further from the front so too are the bodies burnt down, past the yellow green burners at the front, to charred corpses further in, then burnt charred corpses with just flickering blue flame and human coals, and on to a place where the bodies are mere cinders. Blackened and burned beyond recognition, a guard here tries to block ones way, I sidestep him and he fades away.

At this place a huge four armed being dismantles the stacks of charred cinder corpses, those he takes in his right pair of arms, reconstructing the body in his marvelously dexterous hands, join with a blue green flying creature that has appeared from somewhere. The charred metallic body of the sinner crumbles to dust, revealing only the bright white pure human soul, they rush together and embrace. Their union sealed in a blinding flash of arclight, fading to reveal a composite white robed flying creature, which then departs this place at a rate of knots. Those he takes in his left pair of hands likewise reconstructed, they too put on their best face, as the blue green flying creature appears, the giant four armed being gives him the option of reconstructing with the newly raised from the fire human soul. The blue green angel lets out a scream of outrage and horror, and flies out of the place like a bat out of Hell, no mistaking that at all.

XIII

Thus in place in the two left hands of the Angel of the Second Judgment, Philemon did tell me his name which I have forgotten, he is a pretty cool guy, not withstanding he looks a bit like a snake just jutting up out of the ground with his four arms. He has a moustache and a part in his hair, and looks a bit like Sir Richard Hadlee the great New Zealand sportsman. So the fella in his two left hands is placed alongside another of his kind, they are in a column of six, like the chain of women in the outer darkness, some unseen mechanism is causing the column to move like a snake, of its own volition taking the men backwards out of the fire chamber. Thru and beyond another overhang and out into a volcanic place, where red hot volcanic cinders alight like snow upon their heads and shoulders, until they resemble the statues in a Thai temple with spires of ash on heads and shoulders, then only their faces and eyes are visible as the ash buries them. On downward and on deeper into Hell, the time for remorse long gone, the underground column comes to a trip place, here the bodies do a one eighty pivot, the men are now facing forward as the column of the damned wends downward, and here in this place of dust and ash do the fallen sleep.

Nor yet is their journey thru Hell over, deeper and deeper goes the column of six and its company of snoring losers, two weeks pass on Earth and the column intersects an underground stream. Here in this place of water and steam, where the pious man looks toward heaven, bitter and beaten, a witness of failure and dashed hope. For here, in vindication of the prophesy of John the Baptist, that …all flesh shall know the salvation of God, the damned are raised. Attendants, two of them, two hundred kilo individuals, like funny parody drawings of, of all things cherubs, subcutaneous fat and tiny little wings on an overgrown wrestlers body. One reaches out his hand where the column goes over a hump and the ranks open out, takes the hand of the soul of the sinner. He has been in the Eastern prayer position for as many weeks, and while this is an elegant pose it produces physical agony after only a short while. He assists him up, then massages him up and down the legs, toweling down his upper body with a rag cloth he keeps over his shoulder. The sinner is an ancient Walter Brennan type, you gotta believe just how old this man is, never would anybody really encounter any person on Earth this old.

Old or not and notwithstanding his double trip thru Hell, he is jaunty and full of witticisms toward the demon attendant. He thinks he is still in hospital, and tells the demon about this really vivid dream he was having until woken. The attendant has heard it all before and mumbles something, he has massaged both legs and feet, done his upper body and arms with the towel, which he dips into a stone basin of water then wrings out and does his face and ears. Walter is still chattering away and the wrestler hands him up to his brother, who is up a couple of steps on another landing, as he passes from one brother to the other, so does a shiver of white light commence from the brother's fingertips and right thru the newly resurrected sinners body, until he is fully up on the landing. Once more a young man in the full vigor of youth, the guard directs him to a then unknown destination.

The next sinner freed is a wizened little bloke, could have been a gunslinger in the wild west, mouth just a slit and cold eyes, untalkative he is toweled down and rubbed, he thanks the attendant who passes him on to his brother. The next a Dyak head hunter maybe, from the island nation of Borneo, an incredibly old little dark skinned man, seems happy to be going. I pass with him onto the next level and he approaches a gate, beyond the gate his extended family, his grandfather, his mother, and his brothers and sisters are overjoyed to have him back. The next there is a Caucasian youth, his beautiful wife and children, their features indistinct from my perspective greet him… The column of annealed metallic corpses progresses a little further on, till they are ground to atoms tumbling into an ash whirlpool, resembling a bottomless pit.

XIV

That's Hell. The second judgment in the outer darkness is much the same, the girls progress right thru Hell till they come to a body builder who has a horn trumpet attached to a thong around both wrists, that makes two trumpets in all. When their time comes, the succubus that emerged at the first judgment has drained all the goodness out of their body, which has gone up the umbilical cord and has nurtured him. The umbilical cord snaps, and the faun critter has become a blue green angel, identical to the angels that say yea or nay at the second judgment at the fire. The body builder… like this guy is built, is mostly indistinct. The guards in the darkness are a more reserved group than their counterparts in the fire, in that his light which shines from a disc of light above his head is most often very dim. He interviews the newly emerged blue green angel and, depending upon the response, raises either the trumpet horn in his left hand blowing B flat, signaling that there will be no removal. Or yet he raises the right trumpet horn and blows D.

Then the released human spirit, standing at the place of judgment like an intact Venus de Milo, risen from a terrible waste of corpse debris and the angel embrace. Within the arclight their union produces the robed figure of a flying angel, who does not waste any time leaving. The losers collapse and so does the floor receive them, losing all human shape now and like a procession of bright white maggots, do they make their way toward a place where they will tumble down out of the main body of Hell and be buried in freezing cold volcanic ash. Down until they are liberated as the ashy medium intersects an underground body of water, then they are washed out of the ash, over a waterfall and into a pool of water. Here they thaw, and dive and plunge about this strange limbo world, till they drag themselves up a cinder beach and flop down like seals. The two demon attendants here resemble Asterix The Gaul, in the European comic strip of that name, in that they are armored from the waist up and fully helmeted, against the amorous passions of the newly resurrected women. Their eyes visible thru a horizontal slot in their helmets, handing the girls onto the next level, the white light tingles over their skin, and they arrive on that level once more in human form, as beautiful young women. Stark bollicky naked however, picture Koika at the Winter Palace.

Up the path a bit and a high arched bridge, below just cloud across and a gateway, no gates on the hinges however, just inside a dress shop with diamond shaped crystal panes in the windows, here the chicks get a dress to wear. This girl chose a short sleeve blue and white full length dress with a modest neckline, that would not have been out of place among the Amish communities of Pennsylvania, past the shop a family group. A young man in the group, a clean limbed type, seems a tad self conscious among so many people he does not know, then erupting from the group's center a black shape, nor yet human but beast, carnivore tongue extended and feral teeth exposed, this is a puppy dog of the poodle variety…

That is what happened in Hell, Mother went to the second judgment after twenty two years and some months, I never witnessed her ordeal but guess she would be no chance to be rescued by her guardian angel. Father went to judgment after only seven years three months, I watched him leave Hell facing backwards in September 2000. The Doctor did only eighteen months and went to an unknown future, Myklos who did his family in got five years… After the tour I told Allah that it appeared injustice was being perpetrated in the matter of Satan and of all the inhabitants of the first circle of Hell, directing his attention to the monstrously inadequate sentences handed down to my father for instance, and to the Doctor who carried out in excess of one hundred and fifty thousand abortions.

XV

He replied that the disposition his slaves was a matter for him, and that Hell was not the place for temerity… He relented after Gog and Magog appealed directly to me that I petition Allah in their favor. Gog and Magog facilitated the repair of Satan's chest wound, and at my behest found and fitted a new right leg for him and found him a pair of short pants, never was his dignity offended, again called Lucifer I took him to the light and handed him into the light, in the same way as the demon angels do with the resurrected humans at the end of Hell. Chablis the Devil of the Darkness has the ability to split into many miniature replica's of himself, it is extraordinarily good luck to capture one… I caught one and held it in a bottle for about four years before releasing it into the light, when it coiled out of the bottle and disappeared into the light it had the form and shape of an oriental dragon. Saying I would see him and the bottle back in Brisbane, he never got here. I plan on using him as a front line soldier in the Jihad against the abortion lobby.

After taunting him into chasing me, I had assumed the shape of a beautiful woman, using my sweet --- as a model, I climbed back up the cliff face at the place where he splatters the woman against the rock, he went berserk with fury and got after me, I had anticipated this and had prepared an opening into the outer world. Thus viewing Hell from space, I drilled a shaft twelve millimeters in diameter using a burr bit attached to the top of my astral head. He pursued me across the first circle and when I shrunk down and shot up the bore hole, he sent one of his most trusted miniature replica's of himself after me. I had been training in high speed astral maneuvers and got to the top of the shaft in time to place the neck of the bottle I had stashed there, over the hole and wait till he cannoned full on onto it, then place in and lock into place the glass stopper which came with the bottle. He was a small black winged creature, resembling a pterodactyl more that a bat, with bright red eyes, horns, and a tail with a flattened arrow head shaped tip… If he had a pitchfork he would have been identical to the devil of popular mythology.

Chablis was enraged, he can not harm my astral self however, the place I took the bottled devil is where the blue green angels go when they have refused the advances of their one time guarded companion. They fly across the ether until they come to a structure much like a sea urchin, a sphere with a hole in the top, down thru the hole and imagine that you are inside a lamp, the central flame a bright white light. No glare and easy to look at… Ranged around in concentric tiers are a few hundred of the blue green angels all similar but none identical, some are sleeping and some stretching their wings, at various times there are a lot of them then sometimes only a few. Variously they approach the light vertically as they enter the chamber, lost in the brightness for a few moments, emerging chattering excitedly, then receiving directions and flying off somewhere, or taking a rest there before departing. That's about it, my sister entered Hell in 2006 February, the last time I had spoken to her in 1985 she was vituperative toward me, I had wondered if she planned on alienating as many people as she could then committing suicide.

XVI

She got a dream run thru Hell only about six weeks via both judgments, she attacked me from whatever place she was thereafter and was cast back into Hell to do her time at The Tree, she was the only occupant of Hell thru that period up until the blind birdman from the second tier above the pit in the first circle of Hell reentered that place with brand new eyes, he stayed for about six weeks then he and my sister were both released. She went thru three levels of Hell, up until that time then reentered in February 2007, to be joined shortly thereafter by the devil dragon I had caught in the bottle.

The last coherent tour event was about twelve years ago… I had asked Philemon the origin of the mummified corpse on the second tier in the darkness and we were on our way to check… When Gog and Magog and myself attended Lucifer it was only a half remembered recounted type of thing, I believe Gog and Magog are spirits from the world of stone that somehow began interacting with humanity, in an adverse way obviously since they landed in Hell. My plan is to instruct them in the Koran and the ways of Islam, I propose to direct their attention to the injunction from Allah re waging Jihad or just war against your attacker, I will tell these rock spirits to rally their people as Moslems and as soldiers for Allah against the forces of evil, the abortionists. MT

I just saw this and had a grim laugh, because earlier this week I had posted a piece to my Daily Kos diary about this very issue, for which I got pretty beat up in the comments from the lefties at Kos, who tend to ridicule anything outside the realm of empiricism.

The point, though, was very simple: we can learn from these people without pursuing a course of slavish imitation. Things like closing Gitmo and a simple memorial at ground zero (rather than another corporate tower) came to mind.

Practicing compassion for those who do us harm, is the ultimate of humanity and the closest we get to one.

=
MJA

What a contrast between the courage and amazing grace of the Amish, in the face of unimaginable shock and sorrow, and the fear and insistence on 100% adherence to dogma of the evangelical christians who belong to CUFI under the direction of Hagee.

If we were able to take the example given to us by the Amish, and introduce it successfully into negotiations in the Middle East, peace and reconciliation could occur. On the other hand, if we adopt the zero tolerance attitude of the my-way-or-the-highway christian evangelicals who are apparently 100% certain of their rightness, and can always find at least one passage in the Bible that they can interpret to support whatever end they are determined to show as inevitable, then they will have proven their own self-defeating "prophecies" by ensuring a continuation of the use of violence as a "solution."

Thank-you so much, Mr. Moyers, for staying on this topic of faith and religious beliefs, and their influence on politics and war.

I'm sure that somewhere in the Bible, there is at least one passage to "prove" that we will be so hell-bent on insisting on taking the wrong path, that many of us will completely miss the better path that's right under our noses, a better path that could very well be a special gift from God to help us make the right choices at a very critical moment.

I thought this program was the best I have seen in years. Much to my amazement and delight, for the first time I can remember, Evangelicals were recognized for representing a spectrum of Christians, instead of the typical charaterizations, such as those the my progressive United Methodist brothers and sisters share. I think Bono says it succinctly: "The left mocks the right, and the right knows it's right." Just as the academic bias against Evangelicals has made our major university affiliated seminaries sadly unproductive, the innapropriate bonding of many Evangelicals to a particular politics has significantly diminished the opportunity for grace. (Note the current reactionary rise of the angry athiest humanists.) Many Evangelicals are not total literalists, but are open to the miracles described in Scripture. For my spiritual growth and for my faith journey, being open to believe in God's miracles is a truer and deeper choice than choosing to make everything in Scripture a metaphor, to avoid the possibility of the appearance of inadvertent offensiveness. That doesn't mean that I get to shove my faith at someone. But it means I can make the choice to be gracefully unapologitic about my faith, which was born in me from studying Scripture. Many, if not most of we human beings have a spiritual side that must be nourished and fed. Psychology, sociology and the hard sciences are wonderful, and I respect the disciplines, but they don't answer everything. They never will. The amazing grace demonstrated by our Amish brothers and sisters is coupled with a deep faith and belief in Scripture. I see global Christianity as a global subculture of potential grace-givers. Mr. Moyers, you have outdone yourself. Thank you.

I was just reading an interview with coleman barks. There was a poem by barks after the interview. It spoke of the world we live in and the world we yearn for. How this yearning has us torn within but we feel we must bury it in order to live in what we call the real world, so we accept our suffering and we have grown so used to it that we no longer notice it, unless we start to dig deeper within ourselves to where it rests, waiting for us to awaken and truly live.

This truly living means not accepting hatred when we so much want more love in our lives.
Not accepting violence when we desire so much cooperation and collaboration in our communities.
Not accepting isolation and misunderstanding when all we have to do is to reach out to all without fear of rejection.

We are living in one world and living for another and this tears us in half on a conscious and subconscious level.
first we will have to let go of the world that is killing us.we must let the old disconnectd self die and with it all the hatred, all the things that say we are not brothers and sisters connected to all that is life giving in this community and world. All the things that cause us suffering, frustration and misunderstanding that we think we depend upon, in order to embrace what we desire of ourselves and our neighbors. For most of us this would start with nothing more than venturing out to listen to others, to ask questions before we make up our minds about any one thing and to accept each other without the judgements we use to resent others to easily.
This makes forgiveness possible for others and ourselves. This makes the world and the self we desire so much, very very possible starting today.

Forgiveness is a word that is so broad in meaning. In This context forgiveness is a jump from violence to forgiving or choosing not to revenge against the attack. I believe that a person/people attacked have the duty to defend themselves. Seems like human nature desires revenge after an attack. But I really admire people who can, with sturdyness, try to Defend against attack, and then make the world safer rather than seek revenge. Part of that means holding victimizers accountable and making sure they can't hurt others. There is something in trying to make a situation right that can help a victim(s) grow beyond needing revenge. However, here we are with the wisdom of many ages under our belts and we are sowing the seeds of discontent in the middle east, I can not see how using extremist thinking and action is helping ourselves in the long run. Have we made ourselves safer, and another 9/11 less likely? I wish that were true. Seems like we've taken revenge though. I guess I know what Moyers meant by "American Depression", because the cost is high and the benefits are unclear. A "forgiveness" that can defend us, is what I'm trying to imagine. A forgiveness without needless killing, violence and loss of rights. Is it possible in a worldwide context even after several years of making mistakes to choose a "forgiving" tact?

I find the story of the Amish community deeply moving, just as I find the story of the Christian Zionist deeply disturbing. I'll share some thoughts about life and pain, that in my mind relates to both.

Speaking of the fall . . .
upon reading Robinson Jeffers’ Original Sin

It’s not so much that human beings are despicable,
tainted with original sin,
odious and stinking—
though if I look around
I could, as well, make a compelling argument
for that point of view.

The vocabulary of just my own life time
includes Treblinka and Auschwitz,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Khmer Rouge and the cultural revolution,
Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur,
the Gulag, the Mussad, the BOSS
Anfal, Abu ghraib, Mutanabbi Street, 9/11 and al qaeda —
this list seems endless
and I could bring it closer to home, as well,
by looking in the mirror
at who I have been and who I am today.

Yet to these eyes, that see this world
and see myself a part of it,
it’s more that we are bound together,
all of us, in suffering.
I can’t say, for sure,
I know how things are as they are—
but I can say what it looks like to me.
And to me, it looks like we are all in pain,
we human beings,
admittedly, some more so than others, perhaps,
but when that pain—whether great or small—
becomes too much for us to bear,
I’d say we are quite likely to pass it on,
in one way or another,
in big ways or small ways,
to someone else.

So, from where I’m standing, that means
our effort surely must be
to know our pain—
to know our pain
and hold it close unto ourselves,
as life’s most precious gift.

BD 8/26/07

Profound and touching thoughts, Mary. I too have also found that through God's help one can forgive even the worst offenses. A very touching and thought provoking sermon on forgiveness was given by the late James E. Faust almost exactly a year ago. He also referenced the examples given by Jesus Christ and, more recently, the Amish. Text and Video can be found at:
http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-690-24,00.html

Both segments were intensely interesting. I find the fervor of mass behavior as in Reverend Haghe's congrregation very frightening, a hint of what Hitler did in Munich. It does not seem to take much to tip people over the edge, especially when they are worried about the future and all too eager to be spoon fed. The lack of compassion for the Palestinians was remarkably unChristian. The Reverend's interpretation of the Bible was so simplistic and manipulative as to be laughable if it were not so avidly devoured by the huge crowd. Moderate Chrisians should be alarmed to see the extent to which religion is being used for political purposes, not as a guide to ethical behavior. I was shocked that our president and wife sent a message to this gathering.

Bill Moyers' Journal is absolutely the best program on PBS. Thank you.

Both segments were intensely interesting. I find the fervor of mass behavior as in Reverend Haghe's congrregation very frightening, a hint of what Hitler did in Munich. It does not seem to take much to tip people over the edge, especially when they are worried about the future and all too eager to be spoon fed. The lack of compassion for the Palestinians was remarkably unChristian. The Reverend's interpretation of the Bible was so simplistic and manipulative as to be laughable if it were not so avidly devoured by the huge crowd. Moderate Chrisians should be alarmed to see the extent to which religion is being used for political purposes, not as a guide to ethical behavior. I was shocked that our president and wife sent a message to this gathering.

Bill Moyers' Journal is absolutely the best program on PBS. Thank you.

I have found that forgiveness is base on the Love of God. You cannot forgive people that give your child the HIV virus but through the Love of God. And the only way to know for sure is through experience. Death is death. I can only say I do it because Jesus loved me enough to die for me. That's how it's done

Mary Williams

I was deeply touched by the placement of the Amish Grace piece after the longer one on the KAFI and beliefs fueled by politics, fear and war. Without saying such, Bill Moyers gave us a glimpse of another way to live in this world with forgiveness and the strength and unity of faith and community.

This is the first time I have posted a comment after seeing a tv program.
I thought tonight's program was so good and I would like many people to see it. My only criticism is that instead of saying Christians the word Evangelicals was always used, even for the one speaker who has a different point of view than Hagee. I am a lifelong United Methodist and belong to a non-literal progressive United Methodist Church.where the Bible is considered important I am disturbed
that the point of view of the most conservative Christians is what the secular world seems to believe is that of all Christians. Using the word Evangelicals in tonight's program instead of Christians seemed to me to NOT help clear up this problem, in spite of the excellent presentations of both speakers and Bill Moyers.

Forgiveness is necessary. Whether it is possible for everyone in every circumstance I cannot say. Recalling an interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa about eight years ago, Tutu said that forgiveness was realpolitik. He persuaded Mandela to set up a commission that brought together victims with those who had committed horrors. They knew that unless they began healing and forgiveness that there would eventually be a bloodbath. Learn more about the Forgiveness Project and International Forgiveness Day the first Sunday in August. www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/desmond-tutu

Thank you for this piece. The dignity and grace of the Amish in the face of the unthinkable was a true inspiration. What strikes me is that forgiveness requires enormous strength and courage. Vengeance is a coward's response that sews more fear. What I vividly remember from last year was how they asked the national news media to respect their privacy rather than welcoming them in to make a circus of private grief.

We have so much to learn from the Amish. Grace indeed.

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