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Monday, December 29, 2014

Entry 27: Free Cuba For the Gospel of Christ

December 29, 2014

Dear Friends

Re:  Entry 27 (in English)

I used to have a list, it was really a joke, born in the realization of my late youth (in other words, my 20’s) when I finally realized that the party of my birth was not likely to be the party of my death.  I have grown more circumspect—read wise—about it now, recognizing that neither party really represents me fully.  The joke was a list, that there were three things I wanted to see in my lifetime:  (a) Bill Clinton impeached (and this was 3 years before that whole sad, sordid tale of woe); (b) Pete Rose in the Hall; and, (c) Cuba opened to America.  I didn’t say it was a consistent list, as it jumps from politics to sports to…well, religion.  The last better said as “Liberating Cuba with the Gospel”.

[As an aside, the fact that the most improbable on the list—Clinton’s impeachment—actually happened amazes me still to this day, I’m even more amazed by the warm nostalgia the press at least has for the Clinton years. Perhaps one day we will look back on that period as a sad chapter in personal morality, where it became fashionable to be, well, “kardashian”.   As to Pete Rose, well I thought that was the one winner on the whole list, but now I doubt it will ever be.]

Back to Cuba.  This had its genesis in my love of foreign-broadcast short wave radio.  If you’ve ever listened to short wave, the 1980’s were an especially fruitful period, what with the Cold War and all still on.  Some of the most accessible broadcasts (by which I mean those that were powerful enough to reach me in my mountain hovel) were Soviet, Chinese and Cuban.  Cuba was especially prolific, on almost every major broadcast band, even some of the AM (medium wave) bands.  I really became fascinated with the music, the politics and the social commentary—I have very little practical Spanish knowledge despite having two college Spanish courses—so it was all in English.  The political discourse was laughable.  The Cuban government was and is so obsessed with the United States and the US knows so very little about Cuba.  Every event that happened, according to Radio Havana, was the result of, the fault of, or the plan of the United States trying to undermine the Castro regime.    The most amusing part of the whole matter is how little the people of the US, outside of south Florida, really know about Cuba.  Here was Cuba, at every turn blaming the US and the Embargo for its problems while most Americans not only didn’t know where Cuba was in relation to the mainland, but cared about it even less.  It was as if some obsessed would-be Romeo mailed letters, wrote sonnets, composed ballads that were never delivered, read or even heard by Juliet.  The United States and Cuba aren’t just in different spheres, they have literally been in different dimensions, and most Americans forget Cuba even exists (even worse than the way we act with the Canadians and Mexicans, which is unfair and wrong, because to me at least they are like brothers).  It must be vexing to the Cubans or more especially their government (it applies to Cuba what Mexico’s President Diaz once said about his country: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so Close to the United States”)

I can give you all the standard arguments as to why we should lift the embargo, establish relations, and allow trade and travel. You likely have heard them all, and whether or not you may agree, at least you must acknowledge that our current policy (a policy we have had longer than the Cold War lasted) has not worked.  I could also try to defend my assumptions against all the anti-immigrant talk that is out there (sadly, among Christians as well as others), or the political calculations of the south Florida vote, but any of you still misguided enough to depend on cable news, any cable news, as your sole source of information can probably raise loud arguments against my views.   At the bottom of it all are people. Remember, we are talking about people, individuals.  Individuals who have the right to hear the Gospel—and we have the obligation to take it to them, Fox News or MSNBC, Republican or Democrat, all notwithstanding.  That is my reason for wanting Cuba opened and for being thankful that our President is doing what he is doing, regardless of whether his reasons are cynical political calculations.

We didn’t call it cynical when Paul co-opted the Roman court system, the Roman transport system, the Roman trade system, the Roman laws and practices, all to preach the Gospel to the heart of the Roman Empire.  The Roman Empire, built on the blood and backs of slaves and the brutality of the ruling classes, was overrun by Christianity.  If you think the Castro brothers, or their government, can withstand the Gospel being preached to the individual, it still does not matter or relieve the obligation to preach it.  The command, commission, of Jesus was to Preach the Gospel (it wasn’t qualified as to race, religion, government, country).  Do you really trust one day America, or its government, won’t turn on you?  One day we may need those Cuban missionaries, preaching the Gospel to us.

And where is it written that America is cannot change?  Indeed, there are two Communist countries with which have we have fought wars—all in living memory—and we have re-established relations (China and Vietnam.  Remember, the Korean War was really the Chinese War).  Come along now, preach the Gospel to every creature, not just those far enough away as to not upset the balance in the Electoral College.  It may not change your world, but I know it will change theirs.

Free Cuba For the Gospel of Christ!

I remain,


Fessler