How Catholic was John F. Kennedy? – by Daniel Burke at the CNN Belief blog



As an American I like many have been remembering the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, watching new documentaries and eye witness reports of old grainy black and white photos and movies. I was only 10 when he died, so it did not affect me much, though the live coverage on TV of his funeral did affect me. What affected me more when i was 13 and a little more politically thoughtful were the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Rev Dr Martin Luther King. I can remember to this day standing at the school bus stop in from my our house and my mom running out telling me the news of Boddy Kennedy being killed, and remembered crying and a great sadness, because he was like a hero to me.

And when Martin Luther King was killed i had a Real Awakening about the underlying racism in my town. We lived on the west shore of the river, otherwise known as “the white shore”, with the capital city and its black population across the river. During the riots that followed i remember going up to the local grocery store, which was also a gun store (yes back then you could buy guns at a grocery store, and Oswald bought his from a catalog for about $13) and watching my neighbors arm up and saying “if those n…..s come across the bridge we are going to start shooting them”. I was shocked out of my moral mind and never saw my white neighbors the same ever again as their dark side had emerged in all its ugliness.

Those events and the escalating Vietnam War with the Friday body counts listed on TV changed my life forever. When I was 19 they still had the draft and i pulled number 16 which meant i was going, even though i was in college. I tried to get a conscious objector status but they told me they only gave those to Mennonites. I told them i would go if i was a medic, but would not be carrying a gun and shooting people, but the Army would not commit to that. As it approached time for me to be drafted i had maps of Canada and was all ready to go, but then at the last minute they cancelled the draft. Whew!

Today at the CNN Belief blog i found an interesting post asking  How Catholic was John F. Kennedy? by David Burke in which he discusses JFK’s back and forth commitment to Catholicism and how he became more religious during the awful Cold War and how he kept the true path of believing in the separation of church and state though it all. I think you will find it an interesting read.

Back on a personal note, the reason i never had any children was because i grew up during the Cold War, and we all just assumed we would be wiped out in a nuclear war eventually, so why have kids to put through all of that? I was no fan of Reagan, but when he and Gorbachev signed the first nuclear treaty i could feel a great weight lift off my shoulders.

After that i dropped out of college and became a hippie late in the movement and hitchhiked around the country visiting various communes (some of which were cults) and National Parks, carrying only $100 and living on apples and granola bars. I think i weighed 100 pounds and 10 of that was hair, lol. I also experimented with entheogens during those years, and had the door to perception opened to quote Aldous Huxley. Later i practiced Zen, then became a monk for a short period in a Korean Zen small monastery in NY, then joined a Hindu ashram, then came back home and lived in the attic of my parent’s garage. From there i got farther into Magick, Crowley, the OTO, and eventually Witchcraft and Tibetan Buddhism.

Yes when one grows up in history does affect one’s entire life.

6 thoughts on “How Catholic was John F. Kennedy? – by Daniel Burke at the CNN Belief blog

  1. You have lived through some seminal moments in history. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to almost get drafted to Vietnam.

    Obviously I am a history geek so I am very biased here – but I can never understand it when people don’t realise that history shapes everyone of us and the societies we live in!

    • Yes its good and bad to remember these seminal moments in history. I am sure those who survived the Blitzkrieg in London have many more. Its like Everyone remembers where they were when they first saw the twin towers fall on TV. I was at work doing pacemaker checks over the telephone and my co-worker had a radio with a little TV screen on it and i saw the second tower fall thinking there must be thousands of people in there. Then later i found my uncle was working int he Pentagon that day, though it took hours to find out his office was on the opposite side of the impact. Regarding Vietnam i did not feel unpatriotic. I just did not see the point of that war, and refused to kill people in a foreign country who were no threat to us at home. But i was willing to go to mend people who were wounded. But like i said you had to be a Christian Quaker, Mennonite or Amish to get a conscientious objector status. Older Buddhism did not count in America at that time.

      • You are right about the twin towers – I was on holiday with my parents and we were in a car park at a stately home when suddenly my boyfriend at the time rang up and started saying that the US was under attack. We put the radio on and within minutes the car was surrounded by people listening to what was happening.

        I don’t know much about Vietnam, but I do know that politicians (and religious leaders) have always been ready to sacrifice ordinary soliders and civillians to their ideas and ideologies. Some things don’t change.

        • The US, then USSR, and China fought so many proxy battles during the Cold War just for the big dog status. I like to say if Kuwait had exported bananas instead of oil we would not have gone in there to save them from Iraq i assure you, lol.

          • Yup – its probably why the western powers didn’t bother too much with Burma/Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi’s democracy campaign.

            • She’s one of my heroes, such a little lady with a lot of patience and stamina, a quiet voice with a strong as iron will for what is right. I think the UN kept more pressure on than the US and was always surprised the Burmese generals did not have her quietly assassinated by poisoning. But once you win the Nobel Peace prize that ups the ante so to speak. Its a shame the peaceful Dalai Lama has to travel around with an armed guard.

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