November 16, 2015,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

I don’t understand ISIS—Islamic State in Syria. Why would anyone join an organization to die? Who are these people? The more I ponder these questions, I no longer think of them as connected to Islam. They use the language of Islam, but I believe they interpret the Koran to give a twisted rationale to their actions. In doing so they are an authority unto themselves.

Why would anyone in the name of religion connect himself or herself to suicide? James Jones in 1978 led his quasi-Christian group, the People’s Temple, into mass suicide. As the story of Jones’ Church unfolded it became clear that Jones parted from Christian values much earlier. Christianity became a facade for him to do whatever he wanted. ISIS does the same with Islam.

Who are these people who behead Christian children in front of their parents? What kind of organization enjoys torturing and then killing people who have done nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Perhaps this is the result of over population. Like too many rats in a cage or too many people crammed into an airplane, behavior changes with crowding, and human life loses value. Perhaps these people think of themselves as already dead. ISIS members may be real life zombies. Maybe the AMC series, “The Walking Dead,” has an insight into ISIS.

It amazes me that people from the United States rush to join ISIS. There must be an emptiness in the soul to join a group so you can kill others and die in the process. Christianity at its core is about engagement with a loving God. The Virgin Mary cries out in the Magnificat, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” She bursts with love in trusting that God has good things in store for her. In her case she gives thanks in knowing that she is carrying the Son of God in her womb. We too are invited to experience the joy of connecting with God who uses love to drive away fear. Let us mourn with France over what ISIS did in Paris last Friday. As we come together as a world community perhaps we can find unity in understanding that God calls us into partnerships of peace and good will in the name of love. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,