March 23, 2000



  Religious Violence, meeting of 23 March 2000

We started off on a high note, with the reminder that Prez BOB has gotten through 36 meetings, with just 15 left - and of course, thunderous applause. This led to the usual Statement of Three, with YOE not being called upon to demonstrate his failing memory.

CLAWSON BLEAK led the Pledge, with PP STEVE DAY and BILL MAXWELL taking us along on God Bless America. This was a particularly effective effort, since STEVE led with feeling and emphasis, and BILL providing emphatic support - and, it should be mentioned that BILL'S beret always adds to the musical atmosphere. Indeed, it may have been one of our better renditions (although, to be fair, our standards may not be all that high, but anyway...) It was no surprise that DAVID MATSON provided an excellent Invocation

SLOSS VIAU noted our Visiting Rotarians - Scott Dannison from Redondo Beach, and Takumi Noma, from Northern California, who is seeking a new Rotary connection, now that he lives in L.A. SLOSS then added quite a few other visitors, including Judy Wessling, who is related to Prez BOB, Andrea Schafer, a new Associate in the law offices of Newman and Newman, Barbara Cressman, the guest of GEORGE COX, and Viviane Younker, related by marriage to BOB. RUDY ALVAREZ came forward, and called on PP DOUG DESCH to approach the podium. RUDY then presented DOUG with his own personal copy of our 1999 / 2000 Awards Book, which would not have been possible without DOUG'S continuing help - the book is dedicated to OPAL and DOUG, and they received a well-deserved standing ovation at this announcement. A nice gesture, and certainly well deserved.

This led us to the announcement department - an obvious highlight, as always. TOMORROW, Saturday the 25th is the last day to apply for the Japan Student Exchange. YOSH SETOGUCHI can still fit you in - and it's a real winner, OK? The District Breakfast is Tuesday the 28th - JIM GREATHEAD.

Yearling Reception at the home of SALLY BRANT, Wed. 29th, 7 p.m. RSVP, please.

Meeting on April 11th - ELLIOTT TURNER Board hosts. TED IHNEN was fingered as being on the District GSE Committee, and it was noted that a program has now been produced, listing the minute by minute activities of our guests from Bavaria.

The District Conference from May 4th to 7th is in Palm Springs - and as of now, we only have about a dozen signed up. Please think about being there - we NEED you!

And finally, Prez BOB has a request from a young lady from Germany, who is seeking to clerk at a law firm or with an individual lawyer for three weeks this summer. Please call BOB for more details.

PP RON LYSTER introduced our speaker, Frank Wulf (a good name, even thought misspelled...) Frank is currently the Director of the Wesley Foundation at UCLA, is writing his dissertation for his Ph.D. from Columbia, and is of course an ordained Methodist Minister. His topic was Religious Violence, which he selected since it is currently - and always has been -one of the major failures in our worldwide culture.

Frank compared the deaths of Matthew Shepherd, and a German tourist to illustrate the differences in murder cases. Shepherd was beaten, chained to a fence and left to die in Montana - because he was gay. The tourist was also murdered, but it was during an attempted robbery, and thus had no sociological overtones. The end result is of course the same, but the route that led to the killings is what sets them apart.

Those who killed Shepherd sought to intimidate all gays and lesbians - he was an example, you might say, while the German tourist was selected at random. Shepherds murderers were hate-motivated, apparently feeling that what they did was permissible because of the obvious, to them, evil demonstrated by their victim. Such action is used to dissipate antisocial behavior, since their strong feelings needed an outlet. They claimed their act as coming from an order from God.

In looking at the Bible, you find continuing references to people as sheep - the children of God, to be led by God or Jesus. This makes them good subjects for sacrifice, and those who carry out this violence can somehow excuse their actions as being justified by God. Most of the perpetuators are men, who are typically not integrated into their surrounding society. They apparently feel that society has nothing to lose by their actions, particularly since they are acting as the agents of God - their religion is the absolute truth.

This in turn creates the "other" syndrome - those OTHERS make good scapegoats. We are thus 'purifying' ourselves by killing these sacrificial lambs, they contend. In Europe, Jews were always the 'others' - and only survived, really, because some of them were needed by their surrounding society. The Nazis believed that Jews were the source of all their problems, and thus were moving toward complete elimination of all Jews.

We seem to cling to the myth that we live in a civilized world - but, do we? As long as our attitude remains, "I'm right and you're wrong", we will not make appreciable progress toward our goal of living peacefully together.

Frank Wulf - you have given us food for thought on a difficult and contentious subject.

Thank you for being with us.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe