Fr. Jose Poch

Monday, April 13, 2015

Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead

By James Wilson
 Fr. Jim is an Anglican priest in Northern California and president of PrayNorthState
Used by permission of the author.

Our president closed out a White House summit on violent extremism refusing to name the religious perpetrators a Culture of Terror.  Instead he lectured on how Muslims have been interwoven into American Culture since our founding.  He did not bother to name the Founding Fathers who worshipped Allah – because there are none.  He failed to mention the contributions of Islam to American life – because there are none.

The closest Islam comes to America’s formative period is provoking our first foreign war – during the administration of Thomas Jefferson.  Pirates serving the Sultan of Tripoli – Libya – preyed on European and American shipping with impunity.  Crews were captured and held in torturous conditions of slavery because – as the Sultan and his envoys explained it – there is no other purpose for non-Muslims than slavery, torment, and death.  They demanded tribute of the United States – about twenty per cent of the national budget – but the pirates still attacked and killed.  Europe was in the same boat.  Jefferson and Congress declared war, sending the Navy and Marines.  The incident gives the Marine Corps hymn “to the shores of Tripoli.”  Muslim views on non-Muslims are neither new nor changed.

During the (Teddy) Roosevelt years an American ex-pat, Perdicaris, was kidnapped with his family by a Muslim war lord named Raisuli; his quarrel was with the Moroccan government but using an infidel as a pawn was okay with Raisuli.  Roosevelt famously sent a communiqué reading roughly, “Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”  Perdicaris was released along with his family.  The bottom line is that Presidents Jefferson and Roosevelt understood an enemy when they saw him; they likewise understood the duty of a president to defend his countrymen from all enemies.  They got it that Islam is the enemy of all that is not Islam because that is what Islam says about itself – and always has.  We – and our leaders – need to get that today.

We can never afford to forget there are millions – hundreds of millions – of Muslims who are decent people seeking to raise their families and live in peace with their neighbors.  We are not and should not be at war with them.  But just as unaffordable is the delusion that Islam is not at war with us and with everyone who does not bow to its tyranny of blood.  The holiest documents of this religion call for extermination or enslavement of all who fail to adopt it.  They demand death for women raped without producing four witnesses – or who marry outside Islam.  Every nation coming under Islam has adopted a degree of this coercive mentality and most are as rapacious as the Barbary Pirates Jefferson fought to a standstill.

There is one other thing we dare not forget.  Just as Islam hates the Cross of Christ and the mercy and grace it promises to all who live at Its base – just as Islam is evil – Muslims are people.  Muslims are in fact people for whom Jesus Christ gave His life just as surely as He gave it for Jews and Gentiles.  Any of us who dare to call ourselves Christians or Jews must be prepared to protect our families and our way of life on the one hand and acknowledge with joy any opportunity we are given to show that grace and mercy to people of Islam.

We are not at war with these people.  Our God is the One who desires that none should perish.  He came to bring abundant life (John 10:10); He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1) for all time.  We are not at war with Muslim people, but we are at war with Islam’s war on the whole world, and with their special hatred of America and Israel.

I am astounded at the President’s disconnect from reason and history.  Truthfully I should not be. Anyone who golfs when American citizens are murdered but calls a news conference to denounce violence when Muslims are killed – in the utter absence of evidence their deaths were at all connected to their religion – has no idea of his responsibilities.  Anyone so ignorant of history as to think the Crusades were an invasion of Muslim lands – or that Christian holy books promote the brutality advocated in the Koran – such ignorance as he shared at the National Prayer Breakfast – is capable of irrationality on a cosmic scale.  But the rest of us need to think clearly and walk the tightrope between offering peace to those who honestly want peace and death to those who clearly prefer death with seventy imagined virgins awaiting them.

It is very simple.  Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living as Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Californians: More Blood on Our Hands?

By James Wilson
Fr. Jim is an Anglican priest in Northern California and president of PrayNorthState
Used by permission of the author.

My mother was in the last stages of an atypical form of tuberculosis when she asked me to show her the compassion of helping end her life and her suffering.  I told her this was not an option; my faith forbade it.  I assured her I would honor her wishes for no heroics to prolong her life.  I said there is a world of difference between refusing to prolong life and taking active steps to hasten death; this is the prerogative of none but the Father. But she had asked for compassion…

Truth is there is no real compassion in bringing about the death of another, however much that may be the intent.  Compassion is – by definition – engaging and walking with the other.  As harsh as this sounds, assisted suicide is – at the end of the day – a quick, convenient, and disengaging fix for a seemingly intractable dilemma.  The harder yet authentically compassionate approach is to walk with the loved one while seeking solutions that permit dignity in life.  Anyone who has witnessed a death or observed a corpse knows there is no dignity in unnecessary or premature death.

Unnecessary or premature death is precisely the issue when we choose to support – or fail to oppose – SB 128, the assisted suicide bill currently before California’s Legislature.  In my mother’s case – as soon as she realized assisted suicide was off the table – she began to deal with the unfinished relational business of her life.  She made her peace with her son, for one thing, but of far greater importance was the peace she made for the first time with God.  I was privileged to lead her to the Lord just eight days before her natural death.  In the meantime she was medicated and sedated as necessary; she was able to communicate, and she was able to be at peace for the first time in her life.  That peace was palpable.

I will never forget watching her features relax and her lifelong agitation resolve as she asked Jesus to become her Lord.  When she lapsed into a coma days later her face was still at peace and her death was a beautiful walk from this life into the next.

I was privileged to testify before the Senate Health Committee March 25 as they considered SB 128.  I shared my experience with my mother as well as with my cousin, Bruce Burke.  Bruce asked no assistance in dying; he held himself here until he could receive the permission of his family to go.  That given, he went home within hours.  I am a pastor of thirty years’ spent walking with people in their last days; God knows there are common elements in these stories.  The most important – I believe – is that when people appear to linger it is generally precisely because they have unfinished business with family, with friends, with God.  When that business is completed they let go and God lets go.  It becomes time.

When we honor a desperate cry – instead of the one making that cry – we cut the person we love away from what God intends.  The medical doctor and psychiatrist from UC Irvine informed the Senate panel assisted suicide laws make no provision for psych evaluations, for changed decisions, a decision manipulated by others – or simply misunderstood.  He pointed out that terminal prognoses are often wrong – there is no way to accurately assess whether a person has six months or more to live – as the proposed law says must be determined before suicide assistance is permitted.  He spoke of the man who survived a suicide jump from the Golden Gate Bridge; asked what he thought of on the way down he said only that he realized his life was nowhere near as miserable as he imagined just before he leapt.  I can add – as someone who has intervened in more than one suicide attempt – I have never met anyone who regretted the second chance successful intervention provides.

My mother was mentally ill most of her life; her initial decision to terminate her life was not “informed consent” any more than are most such decisions.  Yet she did change her mind when faced with my commitment to life.  Walking with people – in an informed and compassionate manner – is always the best way to go.

Another reality is that palliative care – keeping a patient as comfortable as possible – is much more available and effective than proponents of assisted suicide know or confess.  Patients can be medicated for pain and even sedated to very deep levels.  Under such circumstances the mind, heart, and body are permitted to prepare the patient for death until it comes in the one or is shorted out in the other.  Yes, that work of preparation can and does go on even when consciousness remains hidden but real; I speak from abundant experience with people who were comatose and then returned.  More importantly from an ethical standpoint, as that same psychiatrist declared, the physician’s purpose is always to cure; if cure is impossible then to care, but never to kill.  The difference is between caring and killing.

Assisted suicide ultimately addresses only the desire of those being left behind to witness as little of the patient’s suffering as possible.  It is not – at the end of the day – for the patient, but for those attached to the patient.  As understandable as are these feelings and intentions, it is still murder.  And the reality is that people determined to end their lives will always find a way to do it.  There is no need to enshrine such a decision in state law and so create a seedbed for the well documented rash of copy-cat suicides that follow legalization of assisted suicide in other states and nations.

SB 128 was approved by the California State Senate Health Committee on a party-line vote of six to two with one Democrat abstaining. It now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearing on April 7 and – if approved – to the full Senate.  If it succeeds there the process must be repeated in the Assembly before it reaches the Governor’s desk for signature.  There is plenty of time for people who support life as our first God-given right.  The question is, “Will we?”  There were two hundred fifty supporters of that bill in the hearing room on March 25; there were about fifty supporters of life.  Where are the rest of us – now – when the chips are down?  Will we show up for the next round?

My own last words for the committee were these: “For the love of God, how much blood must we Californians have on our hands?  We lead the nation in the killing of Native Americans over the past two centuries.  We lead the nation in elective suicide – independently of this bill – and we lead the nation in elective abortion.  Must we add more?  Where does it end?”

I say this to all Californians who support the right to life at any level.  If we are not showing up, speaking up, and praying up at a time like this – in person to pack these legislative chambers out – this blood is on our hands.  Not just the blood that will be shed under SB 128, but all of it.  If we are not clearly communicating to our leaders that a vote in favor of SB 128 is a fatal blow to their political careers no matter what other good things they have done that blood is on our hands.  All of it.  And the good news?

The good news is that the Lord our God honors repentance – re-focus on Him – whenever and wherever it begins.  If we are showing up, speaking up, and praying up at this time we are becoming part of the redemption of California and our nation.  All of it.

Californians – and for that matter, Americans – need to say a declarative No to state sanctioned participation in unnecessary and premature death at all levels.  More than that, we need to say a declarative Yes to the Lord Jesus Christ as He says, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full.”

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at