Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dancing With the FBI

On June 13 the front-page headline of the NY Times announced: "FBI Agents Get New Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds.”  America’s Federal State Police Agency decided that its present Guidelines did not provide sufficient freedom for our G-Men to protect our citizenry against the terrorist hiding behind every bush.  No longer is  “probable cause” or serious evidence of criminal intent required for the Blue Meanies to descend on your database, computer files, or even your sacrosanct garbage can, or to practice surveillance on “suspicious groups” to gather proof of guilt or even incriminating data to pressure candidates into becoming informers.  Apparently the Bureau has such confidence in the moral antennae of its agents to distinguish the innocent from the guilty that something as mundane as a search warrant or permission from above is no longer required.

The writer of these lines does not take these developments lightly, since he himself has been the subject of intense FBI attention over the years.  (See the linked excerpt from my memoirs).  In fact much of this attention is and has been focused on peace and other progressive groups.  These renewed efforts of God’s garbage men are part of the post 9/11 campaign to use these innocent deaths as an excuse to erode the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution.  Whatever the promises of Candidate Obama, the present inhabitant of the White House has become a defender of Guantanamo, and the indicter of more whistleblowers for espionage than almost any predecessor.  This moral rearmament of the FBI should come as no surprise to us.


  1. AnonymousJune 22, 2011

    Hi Paul- I adore the title of your article!

  2. AnonymousJuly 05, 2011

    This is blasphemous! We ought to maintain full trust in the FBI; they do naught but protect the American people! The G-men should not be questioned in their heroic efforts to protect us.


Wrestling with Angels: A Spiritual Memoir of a Political Life

   In his recently completed memoir, Paul Mayer revisits the major social and political movements of the last fifty years—the Civil Rights, anti-war and anti-nuclear movements, Latin America, the Cold War, Cuba. These are the movements of his life. Mayer was there, not only as a concerned citizen activist, but as part of his soul’s commitment to justice. In his memoir, he traces his commitment and involvement and the personal struggles he faced in living out his convictions.
   Paul Mayer escaped from Nazi Germany with his parents just as the persecution of Jews was intensifying. He grew up in Washington Heights in Manhattan. There he faced bullying from the Irish gangs in his neighborhood. But he befriended some of those Irish kids and learned about their lives and religion. He converted to Catholicism and later became a Benedictine monk.
   As a monk and priest in a church that was responding to rapidly changing times, he “heard the cry of the people” and entered the arena of active engagement in political life. In Wrestling with Angels, Paul Mayer takes us through the times, the turbulence, the movements and critical moments of our culture.
   As he does so, he poses the questions: What does it mean to act with integrity? What is the role of a person with conscience in an unjust society? How can an individual foster justice and peace where these qualities are lacking? How far do we have to go? Or perhaps the question is this: How far in do we let ourselves be drawn?
   Wrestling with Angels is a rare and privileged socio-cultural history lesson. Reading it helps us understand where we are today and why. It is also a unique window into the realm of a soul fully engaged in the political and social struggles of the last half century. Reflecting on Mayer’s account of his life can help us understand ourselves in relation to our world today and how to engage with it.
   Paul Mayer was married to a former Medical Missionary nun. They raised two children of their own, Peter and Maria. Today Mayer is active on behalf of the planet as co-founder the Climate Crisis Coalition begun in 2003 to mobilize organizations to work for the protection of the environment. He continues the public speaking and organizing that has marked his career. He also serves as a wedding minister and teaches yoga to the elders in his inner-city community.
   His life, Mayer says, has been “filled with grace, disaster, many missteps and moments of glory.” It’s a life that has been marked by struggles with authorities and “powers and principalities.” He has, in the biblical sense, “wrestled with angels.”

He is presently seeking literary representation. A proposal, endorsements from political and social leaders and sample chapters are available on request.