8. Pay In Blood (Richmond, Virginia, April 16)


And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.  (Hebrews 5:22, King James Translation)


The American Revolution began on April 19, 1775.

The Mexican – American War began on April 25, 1846 

The War Between the States began on April 12, 1861.

The Spanish American War began on April 25, 1898.

Perhaps Eliot was onto something when he wrote, “April is the cruelest month.”

 It appears that the US favors April as the month for war dancing. Their wars may also end in April as well. It was April of 1865 that Richmond, Virginia, the Capitol of the Confederacy, fell to Yankee troops. And last night, Bob Dylan and his band brought their show to Richmond. It was two days after the Bombing of Boston, and one day after a US helicopter fell out of the North Korean sky. The day after a 7.8 earthquake shook Iran all the way into India. Three days after Maduro won the presidency of Venezuela by a narrow margin, a victory contested by the opposition.  Although Maduro agreed to a recount, the National Electoral Council said they did not know when the recount would take place, but that when it did, whatever the outcome, Maduro’s victory was irreversible. April is also the month during which the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are traditionally observed, although this year, those events fell at the end of March.

Last night in Richmond, Bob Dylan sang, “I pay in blood, but not my own.”  I am still trying to unravel the mystery of the narrative voice here. The song is a succession of apparent contradictions.  Is this Christ saying that next time around, he will redeem man, not with his blood, but with theirs? Or is it one of the pretended apostles of the Catholic Church, making a mockery of the Lord’s sacrifice? Or perhaps the devil himself?  No, probably one of those demonic priests whose blood brings Dracula back to life, or whose unholy suicide raises an army of the walking dead.


After reading that there had been explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I turned on CNN and watched it through the rest of the day and into the night.  The next morning, half of what had been said the day before was being retracted, including the report that the police had safely detonated a third bomb, and that two more remained to be inspected.  There had also been the odd comment that six other bombs had been found along the Marathon’s trail, a statement that received no follow-up in any quarter.  I can accept the mistake about the fire at the JFK Library, but am suspicious that a bomb that had been followed closely the day before did not and had never existed.  The reportage all day revealed the shortcomings of the CNN team, many of them looking like ex-models who didn’t have enough talent to get into the movies and so became news anchors. Most of them revealed an outrageous lack of knowledge of Boston’s geography, placing the JKK library in Cambridge, the Commons right behind Copley Place, and Boston College in the immediate vicinity of the bombings.

I hadn’t watched CNN since the first Gulf War, which afforded them the opportunity to redefine the character of world news, turning the theatre of battle into their private soundstage, where a controlled vision of the events could be piped through television cables without the interference of conflicting news teams from the networks.  I had no idea things were as bad as they are now, with CNN having become the MTV of world news, and local news trying to salvage itself by becoming a soap opera played against the reality show of neighborhood events.

I read an article on the internet about an Arab suspect being held for questioning in one of the Boston hospitals.  CNN denied the existence of such a suspect, although the next day it was admitted that the internet story was in fact true.  Little cracks in their story appeared throughout the day, as they distracted us with increasingly graphic footage of the explosions.  Now, I am not implying that facts were being intentionally denied or that information purposefully withheld. I am only saying the CNN coverage was thoroughly incompetent. 

Why does the chief of police hold a press conference if he does not plan to answer any of the questions?  Why does Obama give a speech if he has nothing to say? Is it just to keep the show going, to keep people tuned in? Wouldn’t it be better just to give us updates as they come in, rather than try to create some sick kind of reality programming out of such a horrible tragedy?  There was one brutish woman who kept butting in on the reportage with a plea to shoppers to enjoy their holiday as planned. On the morning after, the insensitive business reporter rued the decline of the stock market on the day of the bombings, but assured the people of the United States that the market had opened strong with the Dow regaining the points lost on Patriot’s Day.  

I remember a time when reporters would circle the globe, interviewing people who knew what they were talking about, who tried to shed some light on confusing and frustrating events as they unfolded. Today, they collect information on Twitter and share the tweets of celebrities with us, celebrities who communicate in tweetspeak such unoriginal sentiments as, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston on this sad day.” Now, I have nothing against simple thoughts expressed in simple words, but when I turn on the news, I want to hear the perspectives of those in the know. Maybe such people no longer exist.

The most idiotic statement I heard on that day was, “Unlike WACO and Oklahoma City, this was not a terrorist act.”  I have nothing against calling an FBI raid a terrorist act, but the attack on Waco was a non-provoked military action authorized by Bill Clinton and Janet Reno against an unconventional religious commune that refused to give up its arsenal. Now, I’m not saying that it is a good thing for off-kilter Christians to stockpile weapons, but it surely isn’t a crime that should be punished by massacring the men, women, and children on the premises.  Oklahoma, on the other hand, was a revenge action in response to the massacre, and should certainly be classified as a terrorist act, even by those who may disagree with Clinton’s methods of disarming Christians.

The reason Obama would not classify the marathon bombing as a terrorist act is because he was afraid of offending the Muslims, as there is the belief in the white house that the word terrorist is synonymous with Arab.  Even if that were so, should the president’s vocabulary be restricted to the use of PC euphemisms? Gee, the nicest president in the world, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, playfully called Cristina Fernandez, president of Argentina, “an old shrew who is worse than her one-eyed late husband, Nestor Kirchner,” Argentina’s previous president. You have to love a country where the president is free to speak his mind, not shackled like poor Obama, who probably doesn’t even have the authority to choose what to watch on Netflix when his wife coaxes him into kicking back for a spell.

There are a lot of beautiful passages in the Bible, but few of them are in the pages of the epistles of Paul.  His statement in Hebrews 22 that there is no remission of sins without blood has its basis in Old Testament law, not in the law of love as taught by Christ. And it is precisely this law of revenge, this paying in blood, which is the motivation for many of these terrorist acts. The officials drone on about unknown motives, but there is only one motive for striking out against someone.  Revenge.

Every action has an opposite and equal re-action. You can’t even graduate from middle school without getting that adage under your belt.  So how come the people who guard the official word haven’t learned it?  The creeps who set off these bombs are pissed off about something.  We should take a lesson from the Palestinians and the Jews, caught in an endless and stupid game of ping-pong that leaves dead children scattered all over the place.  If they want to have a war, let each take their cowardly armies out into the desert and have it out.  Let the winner take all.  Just be sure to have their dirty little war out where there are no civilized human beings.  Kill each other far from the people who love the earth and their families and have no interest in getting up into anybody’s face.  Don’t chip off half their skulls or split their limbs with your popgun missiles. If two rival gangs endangered the American public the way the revenge addicts of Israel and Palestine endanger each other’s citizenry, they would all be arrested, tried and sentenced.  But these ruffians, who should be cold-shouldered by all civilized beings, tread the Earth with diplomatic immunity.

The United States is burdened under a karmic albatross that few are willing to admit exists.   If it is to thrive in the coming millennium, it is imperative that it take the path of truth and reconciliation, to admit its wrongs and make amends with those it has wronged. I am praying those responsible for the Patriot’s Day attack will be quickly apprehended and punished.  There is no excuse for their actions, whatever their motives. The sins of the country should never be paid for in innocent blood. Regardless of what Saint Paul has written to the Hebrews, revenge is not sweet; it is the very essence of Hell.