End times and doing time



Apocalyptic visions used to justify extreme ideology used to be in the main purview of the evangelical right, such as when Pat Robertson said Hurricane Katrina was a scourge on New Orleans for homosexual assent. More recently the left has had its epiphany, given voice by two women who well might spend the rest of their lives in a federal prison for causing some $2 million in damage to the Dakota Access pipeline near Newell.

“In Genesis, God gave us dominion over the Earth. In Revelations, those who destroyed the Earth destroyed their souls,” said Ruby Montoya, 27, in an interview with Tom Cullen last week. Also on the phone was Jessica Reznicek, 36, who freely acknowledged with Montoya that they torched a pipeline valve and equipment that authorities said caused $2 million in damage.

Most of us Catholics did not bother much with Revelations because not much of it made sense. We left it to theologians to sort out and summarize for us. Suffice to say it had to do with a lot of Hell and brimstone, whatever that is, so you had better behave and know which guy is speaking the truth.

But, as Montoya pointed out, “extinction is on the table.”

She can sense the End Times nearing.

They might be. The climate models don’t look so good.

Cast in that context, torching a pipeline can almost seem to make sense if you have nothing productive to do for the next half century.

Normally if you walk into a church and throw over all the tables the police will arrest you. Jesus took on the money changers and hypocrites. Upsetting their carts and releasing their pigeons had him up on the cross.

 A woman, with landowner permission, crossed private property in Calhoun County to commit an act of civil disobedience by protesting on Dakota Access right-of-way. She defended herself in magistrate court by saying that the extreme emergency of climate change legally justifies her violation of the right-of-way. Nobody can get too upset about that. No harm was done. If you dump a little hog’s blood on the Strategic Air Command sign designed by Dr. Strangelove that says “Peace is our Profession” you spend a day in detention and get back on the church bus. If you do it a lot, as Frank Cordaro of the Des Moines Catholic Worker House has, you can end up in prison as a peace pest.

Montoya and Reznicek, by virtue of dollar amount, could be charged with domestic terrorism and get life.

The FBI already raided the Catholic Worker House while the women were camping in Minnesota.

We could say there is no difference between what Jesus did and what the Catholic Workers did.

There really isn’t.

The result is similar. Jesus was executed. Modern-day vandals go to prison.

They didn’t slow down the pipeline much. It is buried and is pumping. A couple million adds micro-fractions of a cent to the fuel bills of protesters who drive gas engines spewing carbon to the protest sites. The Calhoun County defendant had to admit to the assistant county attorney in court that she drove a fossil fuelmobile to be present on the pipeline easement.

They intend to do no one physical harm. Neither does Energy Transfer Partners of Texas, which built the pipeline. It’s just that the pipeline company got permission from the Iowa Utilities Board to inadvertently do us harm. Money talks, apocalypse walks.

Likewise, the lefties tore down confederate statues in North Carolina in a catharsis against racism. In doing so, they set back the civil rights cause. As people don’t know what to make of pipeline torchers and guys with assault rifles patrolling a stone Robert E. Lee, they are none too impressed with shaggy people pulling down statues of Jefferson Davis. We thought it was pretty cool when the Iraqis toppled the marble Saddam, and when Lenin came tumbling down in Russia. You would prefer that the city council do it in an orderly way where no one will get flattened by a statue of Gen. Sherman, who was a fairly nasty guy on the battlefield and off.

Depending on your perspective, you think the end of the world is near when a black dude could be President. In fact, that pretty much is the end of the world for a person who wants to carry a rifle through the city park looking for a freak to intimidate. And then the freak makes himself a cardboard shield and charges the ignorant redneck and brings Armageddon closer than it needs to be.

Everybody wants to be a martyr. They first should check with Jesus, who was sweating blood over the prospect and found that none of his buddies would even stick up for him. Or Martin Luther King. He would not want you out there with a torch. He would want you out there marching non-violently with a million people for justice. He would tell you that there are better ways to write a letter than from the Birmingham jail, I think, and certainly better places than a federal women’s penitentiary. Ghandi tore nothing down, he fasted.

The Catholic Worker women told us all about what they did and why. They want everyone to know. They say they are not afraid of prison. What a waste for naught. Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day’s weapon was a typewriter, not a torch.