Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Richard Dawkins gives an introduction to his new book "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution." He explains why this book was necessary, and what readers can expect from this highly-anticipated work. The book is available now in the UK, and will be released in the US on September 22nd!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

HYPOCRISY WATCH - NY Chapter of NOW scathing denouncement of Ted Kennedy

January 28, 2008

“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not this one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That's Howard's brother) who run DFA (that's the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America,, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they'll do feminist and women's rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America's future or whatever.

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women's rights, women's voices, women's equality, women's authority and our ability, indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what's best for us.”

Marcia Pappas,
NY Chapter,
National Organization of Women

Vice President Biden's Tribute to his friend, Ted Kennedy

MSNBC Video: President Obama's tribute to Ted Kennedy

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy 1932 - 2009

Ted Kennedy: Concession Speech at 1980 DNC

Edward Kennedy endorses Barack Obama

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Edward Kennedy's Eulogy to Bobby Kennedy

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2008 DNC Senator Edward Kennedy Speech

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Video: Ted Kennedy tribute, 2008 DNC Convention

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

President's Weekly Address - August 8, 2009

Obama: "Outlandish Claims" About Health Care Bill Are "Simply Not True"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Barry Jackson, Online Advocacy Manager, AARP - Don't believe them


My inbox has been flooded with emails spreading crazy rumors about health reform so I wanted to share some facts from AARP about what's really going on. Please join me in forwarding these facts to everyone you know. Print them out and pass them around at your social gatherings and other places where people are discussing the issues of the day.

FACT #1: Medicare will not be ended, and no benefits or services will be cut.

Your services will not be ended, nor will your benefits be cut. AARP's position on this could not be clearer. And we have sent this message loud and clear to Congress. While the current proposals include savings in Medicare by cutting out fraud, abuse, waste, and inefficiency, we're standing up and making sure benefits for Medicare recipients are not only fully protected, but are improved. 1

FACT #2: No legislation currently in Congress would mandate the rationing of care. Period.

Our staff has read all of the legislation circulating in Congress and there are no provisions in these bills that would ration care for our members. None. If any ever did, we would vigorously fight to stop that legislation. 2

FACT #3: There is no provision of any piece of legislation that would promote euthanasia of any kind.

The rumors out there are flat out lies. Right now Medicare does not cover counseling for end-of-life care. The portion of the bill in question would simply provide coverage for optional end-of-life consultations with doctors, so that the patient can be aware of all of the treatment options on the table. It is not mandatory and it has nothing to do with euthanasia. 3

FACT #4: We have not endorsed President Obama's plan.

In fact, we haven't endorsed any plan. We are supporting reform of our health care system, something that AARP has pushed for many years. We're working closely with Republican and Democratic members of Congress to lower health care costs and to ensure quality affordable coverage for older Americans – and we want reform legislation passed and signed by the president this year. 4

So what is AARP fighting for in health reform?

1. Stopping insurance companies from charging older Americans unaffordable premiums because of their age.

2. Ending the practice of excluding people from insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

3. Holding down health costs and making insurance coverage more affordable for all Americans.

4. Making prescription drugs more affordable by narrowing the Medicare doughnut hole, bringing generics to market faster, and allowing Medicare to negotiate better drug prices.

Find out more and take action at HealthActionNow.Org

1 "AARP to Congress: Don’t Make Medicare More Expensive," AARP, July 30, 2009
2 "Debunked: Health Reform Means Rationed Care For Seniors," AARP, August 4, 2009
3 "AARP Responds to Health Reform Scare Tactics," AARP, July 24, 2009
4 "Obama Vows No Cuts To Medicare Benefits," AARP, July 29, 2009

The Obama Way

Every one of us likes to be a back seat driver, to second guess the coach, to think we have a better way.

I have been an Obama supporter since he started what most people thought was an impossible dream; his quixotic campaign for the presidency. No one really thought he had a chance, not even me.

After 9/11 who would vote for an Obama? or Osama?, or someone with the middle name Hussein. Laughable. What about the Reverend Wright controversy, or the charge he "pals around with terrorists"?

What drew so many of us to support him financially and with our "blood, sweat and tears"? How did he topple two unconquerable political forces, first the unstoppable Clintons who fought it out to the last primary; and then immediately turn to duel it out with the dirty political jugernaught created by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

This is what I believe about our President:

a) He is 10 times smarter than I think he is and 100 times smarter than I am. In his mind he is way ahead of all of us. When he has dinner by himself in the West Wing there is more brain power in that room than was in Independence Hall when our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

b) As he has made clear since he started the campaign for President, he will change Washington and there will be no more politics as usual.

What is so frustrating to us is that NONE OF US can imagine any OTHER KIND OF POLITICS than "business as usual". Unfortunate as it is, we all believe in MAJORITY RULE. Although we don't like to admit it we believe that Dick Cheney is right when he says that all you need to govern is 50% plus one vote and the rest of America can go to Hell.

It will take time to abolish the mindset of "business as usual" in Washington. Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, and Republicans are all shaking their head thinking President Obama is a nut case. Its one thing for this man with an Islamic sounding name, a mutt with a black father and a white mother, to beat TWO unstoppable political machines to become president. Now this NAIVE greenhorn thinks he can actually change how Washington DC works.

Cossacks and Rednecks, Wall Street and Main Street, Peace Activists and Neo-Cons beware. Politics as usual is on its last breath. Partisanship is dying and the consensus that only a community organizer can bring to a society is the NEW POLITICS.

c) President Obama does not run from a fight. He gave 'em as much as he took in the 2008 Election. He won't be pushed around. He listens to everyone, until he sees consensus and once he has a plan that is supportable by ALL "sane" people regardless of party, and he agrees with it, HE WON"T BACK DOWN and he is unstoppable.

As far as Health Care, by the end of the year, President Obama WILL negotiate an agreement reconciling the work of the five committees of Congress. All credible, thoughtful Representatives and Senators regardless of party will agree with it. As a good community organizer, President Obama will not talk specifics on any of the plans until he negotiates a final agreement that Congress passes. However, if the leaders of the Republican Party abandon common sense, and take the side of the wing nuts, that is their death wish and they have to suffer heavy consequences.

Health Care this year is ESSENTIAL and WILL HAPPEN. But the way it is achieved will be the "Obama Way", which does bring on THE END OF POLITICS AS USUAL IN WASHINGTON.

"Enough of the Mob" - DNC ad fights back

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Media Matters: CNN Running Scared Over Lou Dobbs

Media Matters had paid for this ad to run for a week on (of all places) "The Lou Dobbs Show" on CNN, as well as on FOX and MSNBC

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Attacks on Prevention and Its Role in Health Reform That Make No Sense

I am a supporter on Health Care for All. I also worked in the Natural Food Industry and know the power of proper diet and supplements. I do not question the value of preventative medicine in increasing and enhancing our years on this earth. However, I disagree with the premise that Taxpayers will save money. Although the benefits of Universal Health Care far out way the costs, THERE WILL BE COSTS.

1) No one lives forever. Everyone eventually dies. Even if the average life expectancy of Americans increases to 100 years or more, WE ALL EVENTUALLY DIE.

2) After 30 or 40 years our body starts to break down and we need Health Care. The older we become the more health care we need. While preventative health care, proper diet and supplements most probably will increase our lifespan, enhance the enjoyment of our life, and slow the breakdown of our organs, bones, etc. our body will still continue to break down and eventually DIE.

3)The older we get the more health care we need. More advanced drugs and Medical equipment (which come with higher hospital costs) will get us through more crisis, and we can expect a 100 year old person even with the best health care to recover from 5 heart attacks instead of 2 or 7 biopsies and radiation therapies instead of 3.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Vice President Biden: ‘A New Day for Partnership in the Americas’


Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release March 27, 2009

Op-ed by Vice President Biden: ‘A New Day for Partnership in the Americas’

The op-ed below by Vice President Joe Biden appeared this morning in the following Latin American newspapers:

La Nación (Argentina)
O Globo (Brazil)
El Mercurio (Chile)
El Tiempo (Colombia)
La Nación (Costa Rica)
El Comercio (Ecuador)
El Universal (México)
El Comercio (Perú)
El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico)
El País (Uruguay)
El Nacional (Venezuela)

The English, Spanish and Portuguese versions of Vice President Biden’s op-ed are included here:

A New Day for Partnership in the Americas
By Vice President Joe Biden

Next month, President Obama will travel to Trinidad and Tobago to meet his colleagues from across the Western Hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas. In advance of that historic meeting, I am traveling to Central and South America to consult with Latin American leaders gathered in Chile and Costa Rica about the Summit and the challenges faced by the people of the Americas.

These meetings are an important first step toward a new day in relations and building partnerships with and among the countries and people of the Hemisphere.

The President and I understand that only by working together can our countries overcome the challenges we face. Today, we are more than just independent nations who happen to be on the same side of the globe. In today’s interconnected world, we are all neighbors who face many common concerns.

The current global economic crisis has touched virtually all of us—every country, every community, every family. Citizens everywhere are searching for answers, looking for hope—and turning to their leaders to provide them. It is our duty as global partners to heed their calls, to together forge a shared solution to a common problem.

Our Administration is taking several steps to make this happen. Our Congress has approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is designed to promote job creation and to set a course for growth for the next generation. The President has proposed a budget designed to set a foundation for the economy of the future, with important investments in health care, education, and energy. And we are working with our partners in the G-20, who meet next week in London, on a coordinated plan to ensure recovery and restart growth, and to reform the international regulatory and supervisory system to ensure that no such crisis occurs again.

Rekindling the U.S. economy and ensuring that international financial institutions serve the interests of the people are particularly important for the Americas. Our economic interconnection means that a robust U.S. economy is good for the hemisphere and can become an engine for bottom up economic growth and equality throughout the region.

The economy isn’t the only challenge requiring our cooperation. We also face dual challenges of security – both for our countries and for the individuals who inhabit them. Our countries are plagued by gang violence and the illegal trafficking of weapons and narcotics.

In the United States, we need to do more to reduce demand for illicit drugs and stem the flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our borders. We applaud Mexico’s courageous stand against violent drug cartels, as well as Colombia’s anti-drug efforts, but we know that they will have the side effect of pushing traffickers into Central America. We will build on the Meridá Initiative – started last year under President Bush – to assist Mexico and the Central American nations in a joint effort to confront that threat head-on. The drug trade is a problem we all share and one whose ultimate solution we must devise together.

Consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we must also focus on building and encouraging strong democracies, where basic fairness, social equality, and a deep respect for human rights and the rule of law are the guiding principles of everything we do. Democracy is about more than elections; it’s about strong, transparent governance and a thriving civil society. It is also about addressing as effectively as possible the challenges of poverty, inequality and social exclusion

We recognize that the United States is still striving to meet its constitutional goal of forming a "more perfect union" and that we have, in the past, fallen short of our own ideals. But we pledge every day to honor the values that animate our democracy, and to lead by example. This is why, on his third day in office, the President ordered the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Finally, we all face the threat to our planet posed by the changing climate, and, so, we share the need to develop clean energy sources to combat—and reverse—this critical threat. The President and I are deeply committed to leading in the development of an urgent and coordinated response to climate change. Working as partners, we must harness the potential of green energy in a way that protects our planet for future generations, while also catalyzing economic growth for the generations of today.

As we face these threats and as we confront the most serious economic crisis in generations, the countries of the Hemisphere must look forward. And we must work together, as partners, to give our citizens hope that brighter days lie ahead.

###Vice president Biden

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CNBC: Tim Geithner explains Toxic Asset Plan

President Obama's Op-Ed to the World on Global Economic Cooperation

Barack Obama: A time for global action
By Barack Obama
Tribune Media Services
Monday, March 23, 2009

WASHINGTON: We are living through a time of global economic challenges that cannot be met by half measures or the isolated efforts of any nation. Now, the leaders of the Group of 20 have a responsibility to take bold, comprehensive and coordinated action that not only jump-starts recovery, but also launches a new era of economic engagement to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
No one can deny the urgency of action. A crisis in credit and confidence has swept across borders, with consequences for every corner of the world. For the first time in a generation, the global economy is contracting and trade is shrinking.
Trillions of dollars have been lost, banks have stopped lending, and tens of millions will lose their jobs across the globe. The prosperity of every nation has been endangered, along with the stability of governments and the survival of people in the most vulnerable parts of the world.
Once and for all, we have learned that the success of the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. There is no line between action that restores growth within our borders and action that supports it beyond.
If people in other countries cannot spend, markets dry up — already we've seen the biggest drop in American exports in nearly four decades, which has led directly to American job losses. And if we continue to let financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, we will remain trapped in a cycle of bubble and bust. That is why the upcoming London Summit is directly relevant to our recovery at home.
My message is clear: The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose. Much good work has been done, but much more remains.
Our leadership is grounded in a simple premise: We will act boldly to lift the American economy out of crisis and reform our regulatory structure, and these actions will be strengthened by complementary action abroad. Through our example, the United States can promote a global recovery and build confidence around the world; and if the London Summit helps galvanize collective action, we can forge a secure recovery, and future crises can be averted.
Our efforts must begin with swift action to stimulate growth. Already, the United States has passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the most dramatic effort to jump-start job creation and lay a foundation for growth in a generation.
Other members of the G-20 have pursued fiscal stimulus as well, and these efforts should be robust and sustained until demand is restored. As we go forward, we should embrace a collective commitment to encourage open trade and investment, while resisting the protectionism that would deepen this crisis.
Second, we must restore the credit that businesses and consumers depend upon. At home, we are working aggressively to stabilize our financial system. This includes an honest assessment of the balance sheets of our major banks, and will lead directly to lending that can help Americans purchase goods, stay in their homes and grow their businesses.
This must continue to be amplified by the actions of our G-20 partners. Together, we can embrace a common framework that insists upon transparency, accountability and a focus on restoring the flow of credit that is the lifeblood of a growing global economy. And the G-20, together with multilateral institutions, can provide trade finance to help lift up exports and create jobs.
Third, we have an economic, security and moral obligation to extend a hand to countries and people who face the greatest risk. If we turn our backs on them, the suffering caused by this crisis will be enlarged, and our own recovery will be delayed because markets for our goods will shrink further and more American jobs will be lost.
The G-20 should quickly deploy resources to stabilize emerging markets, substantially boost the emergency capacity of the International Monetary Fund and help regional development banks accelerate lending. Meanwhile, America will support new and meaningful investments in food security that can help the poorest weather the difficult days that will come.
While these actions can help get us out of crisis, we cannot settle for a return to the status quo. We must put an end to the reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; to the bad credit, over-leveraged banks and absence of oversight that condemns us to bubbles that inevitably bust.
Only coordinated international action can prevent the irresponsible risk-taking that caused this crisis. That is why I am committed to seizing this opportunity to advance comprehensive reforms of our regulatory and supervisory framework.
All of our financial institutions — on Wall Street and around the globe — need strong oversight and common sense rules of the road. All markets should have standards for stability and a mechanism for disclosure. A strong framework of capital requirements should protect against future crises. We must crack down on offshore tax havens and money laundering.
Rigorous transparency and accountability must check abuse, and the days of out-of-control compensation must end. Instead of patchwork efforts that enable a race to the bottom, we must provide the clear incentives for good behavior that foster a race to the top.
I know that America bears our share of responsibility for the mess that we all face. But I also know that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.
This G-20 meeting provides a forum for a new kind of global economic cooperation. Now is the time to work together to restore the sustained growth that can only come from open and stable markets that harness innovation, support entrepreneurship and advance opportunity.
The nations of the world have a stake in one another. The United States is ready to join a global effort on behalf of new jobs and sustainable growth. Together, we can learn the lessons of this crisis, and forge a prosperity that is enduring and secure for the 21st century.
Barack Obama is president of the United States. A Global Viewpoint article distributed by Tribune Media Services.

The op-ed ran in the following 31 papers:

1. Al Watan (Gulf States)
2. Arab Times (Gulf States)
3. Asharq Al Awsat (Arab-wide paper in Arabic)
4. The Australian (Australia)
5. Baltimore Sun (United States)
6. Bangkok Post (Thailand)
7. Chicago Tribune (United States)
8. Clarin (Argentina)
9. Corriere della Sera (Italy)
10. Die Welt (Germany)
11. El Pais (Madrid)
12. El Mercurio (Chile)
13. Eleftyropiea (Greece)
14. Estado de Sao Paulo (Brazil)
15. Gulf News (Gulf States)
16. The Hindustan Times/ The Hindu (India)
17. International Herald Tribune (London)
18. Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark)
19. Le Monde (Paris)
20. Lidove Noviny (Czech)
21. Los Angeles Times (United States)
22. The News (Pakistan)
23. NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)
24. Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia)
25. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
26. Straits Times (Singapore)
27. Sunday Times (South Africa)
28. Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)
29. Syndey Morning Herald (Australia)
30. WProst (Poland)
31. Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rap Battle: Stephen Colbert vs. Michael Steele

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Steele's Rap Battle Response
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

President Obama on Jay Leno (full interview)

Petraeus, Odierno, and Gates frustrated Senate Repubican are delaying confirmation of Iraqi Ambassador

The U.S. military chief spokesman Geoff Morrell told The Cable Thursday:
Generals Odierno and Petraeus have come out very publicly and very forcefully in support of Amb. Hill’s nomination. I know they support it. They know him from previous assignments, they like him, they believe he is well suited to the job and are anxiously awaiting his confirmation because they do need help, frankly. … With regards to [Senate] members who have issue with him, I would say this,” Morrell added. “We appreciate their steadfast support of the Iraq mission. But you can’t be bullish in support of that mission and not send an ambassador in a timely fashion.

The President's (Islamic) New Year's Message to the Iranian People

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ronald Reagan meets "Vladimir the Plumber"

During the cold war, the Russian KGB was a brutal and cunning spy agency, equal to the CIA in every respect including the number of letters in its name.

Young Vladimir Putin rose through the ranks to become Director of the KGB and eventually President of Russia. His KGB records remain classified and might have included blackwork operations such as waterboarding, torture and assassinations.

However, his strangest assignment was when he disguised himself as "Vladimir the Plumber" a typical tourist on vacation in Moscow. The plot was hatched at the highest levels of the Soviet Hierarchy. Mikhail Gorbachev was in difficult Cold War negotiations with Ronald Reagan that day at the Kremlin. Gorbachev needed to confuse Reagan, to get his guard down, so he could get the advantage in their mammoth global chess game.

At a crucial hour, as the negotiations were winding down, Gorbachev invited Reagan to take a walk with him in Red Square. Vladimir Putin was in position with his young son, Mini-me Putin. Mikhail Gorbachev "just happened" to lead President Reagan directly towards the Putins. Gorbachev told Reagan they were typical Russian tourists on vacation. Before Reagan could say a word, Vladimir Putin launched a series of questions at Reagan about "Socialism in the US", "raising the taxes of hard working citizens" and "the difficulty of starting his own plumbing business". After ten minutes Reagan was totally confused and forgot what Gorbachev and he had discussed during their negotiating sessions.

The photo below was never released to the public. However, for several years after the event, all of the Soviet Union was discussing "Vladamir the Plumber" and how he had debated the US President and defeated him.

Photo by Pete Souza

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 12, 2009: UNCENSORED UNEDITED - Jon Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer


Part II

Part III

WH Responds To Cheney's Criticism: 'I Guess Rush Limbaugh Was Busy.'

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Times Of Harvey Milk

Feature Film|1:27:34|

This Oscar-winning documentary film covers the successful career and tragic assassination of San Francisco's first openly gay man to be elected to office.

Letter From "The House" To The "White House".

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to thank you for organizing the White House Forum on Health Reform last week and to let you know of our intention to work closely together to pass national health reform. Comprehensive reform is essential to controlling health care costs, reviving our economy, and expanding coverage. We are committed to working with you to pass this legislation this year.

In the House, jurisdiction over health reform is shared among three primary committees. As chairs of these committees and veterans of past health reform debates, we have agreed to coordinate our efforts. Our intention is to bring similar legislation before our committees and to work from a harmonized approach to ensure success.

We have also agreed on a timetable for our joint efforts. In order to achieve our shared goal of enacting health reform this year, we will coordinate our committee consideration so that action on the House floor can occur before the August recess.

Your health care forum gave these efforts a strong start. As we proceed, we look forward to working closely with you, senior Administration officials, and our colleagues in the Senate. We will also be broadly reaching out to members of the House to build wide support for this essential effort. Your leadership and guidance are critically important to our collective success.


Henry A. Waxman
Committee on Energy and Commerce

Charles B. Rangel
Committee on Ways and Means

George Miller
Committee on Education and Labor

Obama: My Responsibility to Solve U.S. Problems

BEATING A DEMON: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare

By Bobby Jindal
New Oxford Review
December 1994

Bobby Jindal received his M.Litt. in Politics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is currently Governor of Louisiana. A convert to Christianity, he was born and raised Hindu. Some of the names in this article, but none of the details, have been altered by the author.

Though she had not said anything, I knew something was wrong. Susan and I had developed an intimate friendship; indeed, our rela­tionship mystified observers, who insisted on finding a romantic component where none existed. I called her after the University Christian Fellowship (UCF) meeting -- UCF is an Inter-Varsity Christian group composed of undergraduate and graduate students. Though the interdenominational group's weekly program of songs and prayers had produced the usual emotional high among most members, Susan had left the meeting in a very sullen mood. I asked her to join a group of us who were attending a Chris­tian a cappella concert to be held on campus that same evening.

Despite our intimacy, Susan and I had not spent much time together this past year. We had succumbed to pressure from our friends and de­cided we should not be so emotionally interdependent without a deeper commitment. To be honest, my fears of a relationship and the constraints of commitment had kept us apart; our friends' objec­tions merely provided a convenient excuse. Still, I felt comfortable asking her to come to the concert, and she accepted the invitation. Though Susan ap­peared composed throughout the concert, her sud­den departure in the middle of a song convinced me otherwise and affirmed my earlier suspicions.

There was no doubt in my mind that I had to leave my friends and follow her outside. I was not exactly sure what I would do or say, but I knew I had to run after her. I found that she had not gone far, but was sobbing uncontrollably outside the auditorium. Since we had been very careful to avoid any form of physical contact in our friendship, I was not sure how to respond. My inaction and her sobs produced a very awkward situation. Fortunately, a female friend who followed us out was able to comfort Su­san with hugs and soothing words of reassurance; her quick action was in stark contrast to my paraly­sis. Once Susan had regained her composure and fell silent, I knew I had to intervene. The female friend meant well, but did not know Susan well enough to provide the advice Susan was sure to seek.

Not even knowing the cause of this raucous scene, I asked Susan if she would like to talk, and volunteered to walk her home. Wanting to avoid any additional embarrassing scenes, I thought it best to remain in silence while we walked. I dared not cause another emotional outpouring until we were safely behind closed doors. When we finally reached her dorm room, I promptly sat Susan on a bed and placed myself in a chair located several feet across the room. This physical arrangement was hardly conducive to the love and support I was supposed to be providing, but I was too scared and unsure of myself to get any closer.

Taking a very businesslike approach, I queried Susan as to the cause of her distress. At first the words were slow to come and the few that she ut­tered made little sense. Gradually the words formed sentences and the sentences arranged themselves into a coherent story. A jumble of events was trans­formed into a logical sequence with a common theme of cause and effect. She had noticed a lump on her scalp, had visited the university health clinic, and had a biopsy performed. "Biopsy!" One thought replaced all others -- "benign or malignant?" The results had indicated skin cancer. Cancer, in any form, is a disease with a very powerful ability to cap­ture our attention and unleash great waves of fear within us all. The word itself, and the hopelessness it conjures up, causes us instinctively to whisper con­dolences; our minds automatically turn to the hor­rors of chemotherapy. Radiation, hair loss, and death all seemed very real. No wonder poor Susan was devastated.

I quickly collected my thoughts and returned my attention to Susan. Not only had the prognosis scared her, but she had found little or no comfort among her friends. They considered skin cancer a minor affliction, something that affects those whose vanity causes them to tan in the sun too long. The only friend who expressed concern was worried about the possibility of contagious cancerous cells. Her friends, many of them pre-meds aspiring to be compassionate and skilled physicians one day, noted that a simple operation would remove the tu­mor, and then simply laughed the entire matter away. She had felt foolish about her worries and joined their laughter; however, her smile merely masked her inner worries and fears. It was these re­pressed fears that had led to her emotional outburst earlier that night.

As I listened to Susan recount these events, I wondered how we had grown so far apart. There were now other guys in her life and many friends I had barely met. I had insisted on emotional distance to allow us to develop independence, but that was ri­diculous. Susan was my best friend and I hardly knew what was happening in her life. I soon found myself breaking my silence; until this point, I had hardly needed to prompt Susan to speak and had not even provided soothing remarks. Now, I sud­denly started comforting her and validating her feel­ings. Of course I would be there for her. Of course I understood her fears and worries. Of course I would reach out and touch her?

The interaction of Susan's revelations and my assurances had produced another outpouring of emotion, hysteria, and tears. Against my will, I found myself reaching out and holding her hand. I promised to stand by her forever, to be the rock against which she could lean, to accompany her to the doctor's office and the operating room. I never stopped to think of the significance of my valiant pledges; I assumed any good friend would react similarly in the same situation. How could any de­cent person turn away a desperate woman in such need?

The tears vanished as suddenly as they ap­peared several times throughout the night. Susan was even stable long enough for me to buy her milk to ease the gastric pains caused by her anxiety. She was literally worrying herself sick. I realized my words of comfort were only temporary measures and were not enough to provide her with long-term support. However, I did not go far enough. Instead of directing Susan to depend on a source far more dependable and stronger than myself -- i.e., our Christian faith, her own inner strength, or even a professional care provider -- I continued trying to solve her problems myself.

During Susan's next wave of tears, I found my­self putting my arm around her to provide both physical and emotional support. We were soon sit­ting on the bed next to each other, and I told her a fairy tale. Instead of tackling all of her problems at once, we took each individual concern -- e.g., up­coming finals -- and magically solved it. Her prob­lems began to seem insignificant and our ability to overcome adversity soon assumed heroic propor­tions. We were soon laughing, and despair was defi­nitely vanquished, at least for the night. We were both startled to find my arm around her shoulder, but she asked that I continue to hold her for just a few moments longer. I happily complied and we embraced her problems away; along with my sooth­ing words, the simple gesture of a hug was enough to bring peace to Susan's heart for one night.

Susan had finally found a friend willing to be­lieve and understand her worries; she no longer had to pretend that cancer did not frighten her. She was terrified, and I understood. I was able to mix the almost contradictory states of empathy and aloofness; Susan needed me to share her fears and yet still be strong enough to comfort her. I was her partner in misery and yet also served as her knight in shining armor.

The peace and our renewed closeness were not to last long. Susan and I had consciously maintained a fairly distant friendship over the year and the night's openness was a glaring exception. Scared of her own feelings and dependence on me, Susan made it a point to avoid me the next few days and answered my queries about her well-being suc­cinctly and coldly. Our relationship stayed in this détente mode for an entire month. During this time, Susan's doctors were preparing her for the opera­tion. The relatively simple procedure would not in­volve many days in the hospital and had a very high chance of success.

Susan and I may have never confronted each other had it not been, ironically, for our pride. We continued meeting for meals and engaged in super­ficial conversation, focused on the weather, sports, and any other topic except for cancer and our friend­ship. The catalyst for our confrontation was a silly misunderstanding over a dinner. Susan did not show up at the cafeteria at our agreed upon time and made little effort to warn me of the scheduling con­flict that caused her absence. This inconvenience, minor under normal circumstances, proved to be the starting point of an intense struggle of wills. We fought to prove who could be the most stubborn and arrogant; the result was a tie, with both of us losing.

Waiting for an apology, I refused to talk with Susan for a week. She decided I was being silly and refused to admit any error on her part. Somehow, we finally searched deep and found the maturity to discuss our differences. The strain of our open hostility during the week and quiet indifference during the month had beaten down both of our wills. We could hold our breath no longer.

We quickly settled the matter about the dinner and then turned our attention to the real cause of the tension between us. For the first time in a month, one of us mentioned the night of the concert, the night I first heard of Susan's affliction. This talk was very different in character from our last serious discussion; whereas before I had provided support and comfort for a helpless Susan, this was truly a battle of wills between two strong and independent indi­viduals. We discussed issues as varied as our true feelings for each other and Susan's upcoming op­eration.

Then Susan confessed that she was disturbed by recent nightmares. I accepted this as a normal reaction to a very difficult semester. One of Susan's closest friends from home, her Bible study leader there, had committed suicide shortly before Susan found the lump. Adding insult to injury, she learned of his death through a newspaper article, since her family and friends were too scared to tell her. The operation alone would have been overwhelming for any emo­tionally healthy individual. Given the loss of a dear friend from home, the tension with one's best friend at school, and the pressures of a very demanding academic schedule, it is a miracle that Susan remained sane; nightmares hardly seemed a cause for alarm.

Then Susan started saying words like "visions" instead of nightmares, and I began to get worried and scared. I had always known that Susan was a charis­matic Christian, but had thought little of what such labels meant. She had told me of speaking in tongues during certain prayers and even seeing visions in her dreams as a child, but I had never pushed her to talk about such things. I figured that what I did not know could not hurt me. How wrong I was!

Susan started describing various odors (which others would later ascribe to the sulfur that supposedly accompanies the devil), sounds, and appear­ances that both she and her roommate had wit­nessed. They had even called maintenance, which had found the odors but not the cause. Her roommate, neither charismatic nor Christian, had seen, heard, and smelled the same things, but had not known how to interpret the events. I was about to hear Susan's understanding of her visions and the accompanying disturbances.

A senior in UCF and a leader of my Bible study group had once asked me if I believed in angels, spirits, and other such apparitions. I had recently heard a priest confidently proclaim that the Bible's words on such phenomena were never meant to be inter­preted literally; he had historical evidence that inci­dents involving spirits were merely metaphors for tangible events. Being a new Catholic and very eager to avoid the subject, I had accepted the priest's views without question. After I related my doubts, the se­nior proceeded to describe recent incidents involv­ing mutual acquaintances -- e.g., a woman who claimed demons inflicted physical scars on her arms. I remained polite, but incredulous. The issue of spirits did not affect me, and I was thus content to leave its resolution to others. I had no opinions or feelings on the subject.

But Susan was forcing me to take a stand on the entire issue of spirits and charismatic Christians. Having given the subject little thought, I was hardly ready to present an informed opinion. Susan was my closest friend and I would have tried to believe her had she claimed Martians had kidnapped her; friends are supposed to believe in each other even when nobody else does. Despite my verbal reassurances and lack of condemnations, Susan knew me well enough to see that I was having problems ac­cepting her visions and spirits. I was doing every­thing I could to convey my support and sympathy; however, I was definitely in unfamiliar territory and was overwhelmed by the strength of her convictions. I wavered between my loyalty to Susan and the apparent irrationality of her claims.

I left the room we were in for a moment, on some flimsy pretense, made the sign of the cross in desperation, and pleaded with God for divine assis­tance. Seconds after I re-entered the room, Susan angrily lashed out at me, telling me she never wanted to talk with me again since I did not love her, and ran out in tears. I tried following her, to no avail. I did not understand what I had done. All I could think was, "Gee, thanks God. So much for prayer." I realized that Susan had never fully presented her interpretation of the recent events in her life, and I had not had the chance to accept or reject her claims. The entire conversation remained very nebulous in my mind, and many of Susan's reactions made little sense. I had a vague sense that her anger and tears involved both my inability to care for her and also my inability to understand her recent experiences.

I was stunned, and so was hardly prepared for what was to follow the next day. While Susan's older sister flew in to provide comfort during this trying time, Susan visited the doctor for one last set of tests. UCF had organized a prayer meeting that night for Susan's upcoming operation and the intense emotional trials she had endured. I called Su­san, in an attempt to make peace, but was greeted with cold indifference. As she was hanging up, I asked if she wanted my presence at the prayer meet­ing. She declined the offer, but suddenly changed her mind just before the line was disconnected. I, along with several other students, gathered in a classroom, despite the hectic finals schedule, to of­fer our prayers and support for Susan. Since she was a very active member and Bible study leader in UCF, many upperclassmen were in attendance. These stu­dents, the most active and experienced Protestant leaders on campus, came from different churches with different creeds.

The meeting started, as did any other UCF gath­ering, with group songs and a few prayers. We sat in a circle on the floor so we could face one another. Susan refused to acknowledge my presence when I entered. Though I was accustomed to feeling an emotional high during these meetings, I felt the initial songs were a bit dry. Given the circumstances, the group had lost much of its normal enthusiasm. Susan's sister then asked for a period of meditative prayer, the entire group would fall silent while individuals would pray aloud "as the Spirit led them." This is a common practice in both Bible studies and group meetings within UCF. My inexperience as a new Christian and my reserved nature prevented me from speaking dur­ing these times; rather, I prayed silently.

After a period of group prayer, a student made a movement to end the meeting. Suddenly, Susan emitted some strange guttural sounds and fell to the floor. She started thrashing about, as if in some sort of seizure. Susan's sister must have recognized what was happening, for she ordered us to gather around and place our hands on Susan's prostrate body. I re­fused to budge from my position and froze in hor­ror. I will never forget the first comprehensible sound that came from Susan; she screamed my name with such an urgency that the chill still travels down my spine whenever I recall this moment.

Confused as to the events occurring before my very eyes, I responded to the desperation and cry for help so evident in Susan's voice. I wanted to rescue my friend from these horrible people who were holding her down and ridiculing her dignity. I tentatively ap­proached the group and placed the edge of my finger­tip on her shoulder, as if afraid of becoming infected with the disease that was ravaging her body. I had yet to realize that the affliction was ravaging her soul.

In a voice I had never heard before or since, Su­san accused me: "Bobby, you cannot even love Susan." Before I even noticed the sound of her voice, I thought it funny that Susan would refer to herself in the third person. Then the full impact of the words hit me. Forgetting the frantic students around me and even poor Susan lying on the floor, I thought of our conversation the day before. The real argument had been whether I was capable of loving Susan. I needed the answer to be yes, more for my sake than ours. I have always been a closed and relatively unemotional person and needed to know that my best friend felt that I at least could love her, due to some very strong remarks made two years before by my former girl­friend (hardly an objective source), I was beginning to doubt that I had the capacity for feeling.

Knowing that I was doing Susan no good, I quickly retreated to the opposite side of the room. Susan proceeded to denounce every individual in the room, often citing very private and confidential information she could not possibly have known on her own. It was information capable of hurting individuals -- attacking people, as she did, by revealing their hidden feelings, fears, and worries. The night was just beginning!

The students, led by Susan's sister and Louise, a member of a charismatic church, engaged in loud and desperate prayers while holding Susan with one hand. Kneeling on the ground, my friends were chanting, "Satan, I command you to leave this woman." Others exhorted all "demons to leave in the name of Christ." It is no exaggeration to note the tears and sweat among those assembled. Susan lashed out at the assembled students with verbal assaults.

Though I attempted to maintain a stoic attitude and an expressionless face, my inner fear must have been apparent to all present. I was the only one present who remained silent and apart from the group.

I repeated to myself that such things do not happen to normal people. I had attended a charis­matic church once, out of curiosity, but had merely seen a congregation dance wildly, pray enthusiasti­cally, and speak in a language that sounded like gib­berish. I wondered how the horror unfolding before my eyes could make any sense. I desperately wanted it all to end, but could not leave.

Then the fear and doubts began. Though I have experienced the normal periods of questioning, I have never come so close to abandoning my faith as I did that night. I could not pray to God. I tried as hard as I could, but I couldn't. Out of desperation, I called upon the saints to articulate my prayers and rescue me from this living nightmare. Though I had never prayed with the saints before, I began to understand the Church's teaching of the unity within the One Body. I pleaded with the saints in Heaven to offer God the prayers I was unable to formulate.

Susan's sister sent someone to call a local min­ister experienced in such matters. Some desperate part of my brain wondered if we should also call the campus priest. I wanted the full authority of the Church to confront this demon, or whatever was causing this horrible scene. I wanted the priest to bring the Eucharist and watch the spirits fall before the power of Christ's Real Presence. But I was scared. I wondered what would happen if the Eucha­rist did nothing and the priest was helpless. What if the consecrated Bread was just bread? What if the Church had no power over the cause of Susan's bi­zarre behavior? I was unable to pray and too fright­ened to test my Church's spiritual strength.

I, like many other students feeling the effects of the night, was swaying from exhaustion. I was mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained of everything I possessed. I was ready to give up. I rubbed my hands over my face and through my hair in an attempt to stir hidden reserves of energy. Though her eyes had been closed the entire time and I was kneeling several feet away, Susan must have sensed my actions. Addressing me for the second and last time, Susan told me to leave because I was tired.

Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me. It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe. Being a biology major at the time, I greeted this feeling with skepticism and rational explanations. I checked my pulse for signs of nervousness and wondered what could cause such a sensation. Shortness of breath is a common symptom that can mean very little or may signal the onslaught of a fatal stroke. Though I could find no cause for my chest pains, I was very scared of what was happening to me and Susan. I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leav­ing it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.

I gave up all attempts at prayer and admitted conditional defeat. The effort succeeded and I felt relief immediately. There were no more mysterious forces and I was able to watch the proceedings with the security of an outsider, beyond the immediate reality of the frenzied action I was witnessing. It may have been I was trying too hard to pray and be there for Susan; however, the sense of fear and dread felt like more than mere anxiety at the time.

Maybe she sensed our weariness; whether by plan or coincidence, Susan chose the perfect opportunity to attempt an escape. She suddenly leapt up and ran for the door, despite the many hands holding her down. This burst of action served to revive the tired group of students and they soon had her restrained once again, this time half kneeling and half standing. Alice, a student leader in Campus Crusade for Christ, entered the room for the first time, brandishing a crucifix. Running out of options, UCF had turned to a rival campus Christian group for spiritual tactics. The preacher had denied our request for assistance and recommended that we not confront the demon; his suggestion was a little late. I still wonder if the good preacher was too settled to be roused from bed, or if this supposed expert doubted his own ability to confront whatever harassed Susan.

Alice's presence countered Susan's recent burst of energy, and Alice's confidence inspired us all. Surely Crusade's experienced leader would be able to rescue us and reaffirm our faith in Christ, the Bible, and everything good. Even I felt confident enough to approach God once again; Susan's lunge for the door awakened and invigorated me. Strangely, I found myself repeating the Hail Mary until it became a chant. Being a recent convert to Catholicism, I had yet to accept the Catholic doc­trines concerning Mary and considered any form of Marian devotion to be idolatry. Though I had never before prayed a Hail Mary in my life, I suddenly found myself incapable of any other form of prayer. Somehow, Mary's intercessions allowed me to find peace during that long night; I knew that I had sur­vived the worst and that I would exit with my faith intact. It terrified me to recall how close I came to turning away from Christ out of fear.

The crucifix had a calming effect on Susan, and her sister was soon brave enough to bring a Bible to her face. At first, Susan responded to biblical pas­sages with curses and profanities. Mixed in with her vile attacks were short and desperate pleas for help. In the same breath that she attacked Christ, the Bible's authenticity, and everyone assembled in prayer, Susan would suddenly urge us to rescue her. It appeared as if we were observing a tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange evil force. But the momentum had shifted and we now sensed that victory was at hand.

While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence "Jesus is Lord." Over and over, she repeated "Jesus is L..L..LL," often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed "Jesus is Lord."

With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, "Has something happened?" She did not re­member any of the past few hours and was startled to find her friends breaking out in cheers and laugh­ter, overwhelmed by sudden joy and relief.

My expression must have betrayed my former fears; Stacy, a freshman I hardly knew, asked about my welfare. I was startled that anyone would be of­fering me assistance when Susan should have been the focus of attention. I eventually left the room in a stupor. As I was leaving in a crowd, Susan's sister, who had met me once years before, called my name and asked that I "commit my nightlife to prayer." I hardly understood what she meant and was startled that others continued to single me out for attention. I nodded and looked gently at Susan, who thanked me for coming.

Though I waited for a friend to avoid being alone during the walk home, the rest of the night proceeded without incident. My nightly prayers, de­spite my apprehensions, came to me easily and I no longer had any problems approaching God; indeed, I left that night with a reaffirmed faith in God's power over any force in or out of this world. If the night's events had not seemed so real, I would have thought my earlier fears silly.

Susan stayed in the house of a missionary with experience in spiritual warfare in foreign countries. Her sister thought it best she stay out of her own room. Susan's roommate, the daughter of a Hmong faith healer, had decorated the room with supposedly pagan influences. Other theories explaining the night's events soon surfaced. Susan's mother had once worshipped and offered a sacrifice at a pagan altar in the Far East for her husband's health, though he had been healed, she had been warned not to repeat such practices, but had returned to that same altar in the Far East upon hearing of Susan's illness. The UCF staff member dis­missed Susan's affliction as a psychological disorder, precipitated by the semester's stress, and advised her to seek professional help. Susan, who had experienced visions and other related phenomena as a child, thought her intense flirting with guys and straying away from God had led to this punishment.

When the operation occurred, the surgeons found no traces of cancerous cells. Susan claimed she had felt healed after the group prayer and can remem­ber the sensation of being "purified"; she saw her physical and spiritual afflictions as being related. The physician's improbable explanation that the biopsy may have removed all the cancerous tissue is no less far-fetched.

Susan still struggles with the theological implica­tions of her experience. Though she recalls nothing of what happened that night, the tidbits she hears from others terrify her. Can a Christian be "possessed"? What precipitated her attack and will it happen again? Susan has talked with ministers, charismatic pastors, and others. It took months before we could reestablish our friendship and she was able to trust me. Though I do not have the answers she desperately seeks, I have provided comfort and support whenever Susan has fears or doubts. With holy water and blessed crucifixes, I have even given her physical protection from the de­mons that have only once reappeared, and then for a mere moment. We have resolved the tension in our relationship and I am developing the ability to selflessly care for others.

I now realize that Susan's initial outburst dur­ing the concert was a cry for help. Even more terrifying than the threat of cancer and surgery were her nightly visions. However, Susan and I retreated be­hind the barriers we had built between us before she had the chance to seek my help. Given my response, it may have been just as well that I had not known about the true cause of her anxiety. I had attempted to solve her problems alone and had not once men­tioned the power of prayer or the necessity of relying on God. I cannot imagine the disastrous conse­quences if I had attempted to confront Susan's vi­sions with my own strength.

The members and leadership of UCF have never publicly discussed what we witnessed and experienced that night, rationalizing that it may deter new Christians. Most of us were too scared to discuss it even among ourselves. Ironically, Alice, a lapsed Catholic and a practicing Evangelical, had deployed a crucifix blessed by the Pope and given to her by a friend. That night marked the beginning of her and Louise's investigation into the Church; while serving as presidents of UCF and Campus Cru­sade for Christ, both left their leadership roles to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. Stacy, the freshman concerned about my welfare, became a close friend and another convert to the Church. Per­haps most amazing of all, Susan, despite her vicious attacks against the Church while in her trance and despite her sister's staunch opposition, has also be­come an active member of the Catholic Church.

I left that classroom with a powerful belief in Mary's intercessions and with many questions about spiritual warfare; I also learned a lasting lesson in hu­mility and the limits of human understanding. Was the purpose of that night served when so many indi­viduals were inducted into the Church? Did I witness spiritual warfare? I do not have the answers, but I do believe in the reality of spirits, angels, and other re­lated phenomena that I can neither touch nor see.

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