Saturday, June 01, 2013

The one JFK book to read

If you read no other book about the JFK assassination, read this one:

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters by James W. Douglass

I read it when it first came out two years ago and am rereading now. The man nails it, as more than one reviewer noted:
“For forty years Jim Douglass has been our leading North American Catholic theologian of peace. But this monumental work on the witness of JFK is something deeper still. Douglass is trying to get us to connect the dots between our ‘citizen denial,’ the government’s ‘plausible deniability,’ and the Unspeakable. This book has the potential to change our narrative about our country, and our lives as citizens and disciples. May we have ears to hear these truths, hearts able to bear their burden, and hands willing to build a new story.” —Ched Myers, author, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus
But Douglass is worried that we've learned nothing:
 John Kennedy’s story is our story, although a titanic effort has been made to keep it from us. That story, like the struggle it embodies, is as current today as it was in 1963. The theology of redemptive violence still reigns. The Cold War has been followed by its twin, the War on Terror. We are engaged in another apocalyptic struggle against an enemy seen as absolute evil. Terrorism has replaced the Cold War.
And yet he retains hope:
The story of why John Kennedy died encircles the earth. Because JFK chose peace on earth at the height of the Cold War, he was executed. But because he turned toward peace, in spite of the consequences to himself, humanity is still alive and struggling. That is hopeful, especially if we understand what he went through and what he has given us as his vision.
This is a remarkable book of outstanding scholarship and high morality. In a society with an educated citizenry, this is the kind of book that could change everything. But it won't. I don't share the author's stubborn optimism. A third of our citizenry is waiting for the Rapture. Is there a better definition of lack of understanding?

But here is the truth of the matter, or as close as I've seen it expressed. A remarkable book. Read it and weep.

No comments: