Thus says the Lord…

2 Chronicles 14:7

And he said to Juda: Let us build these cities, and compass them with walls, and fortify them with towers, and gates, and bars, while all is quiet from wars, because we have sought the Lord the God of our fathers, and he hath given us peace round about. So they built, and there was no hinderance in building.

Nehemiah 4:18

For every one of the builders was girded with a sword about his reins. And they built, and sounded with a trumpet by me.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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25 Responses to Thus says the Lord…

  1. Can the gates that are shown be counted as bridges?

  2. Bosco says:

    I have a tourist map of Walled Disneyland, Father. I suppose they were erected to keep out those unwilling to pay the price of an admittance ticket.

  3. roma247 says:

    Well, yeah…but technically that’s not Christian…I mean, that happened a loooooong time before the song “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” was ever even written.

  4. Polycarpio says:

    “In a world where more and more borders are being opened up – to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges – it is tragic to see walls still being erected. How we long to see the fruits of the much more difficult task of building peace!” -Pope Benedict (May 13, 2009.)

    I think we need to listen to what Francis is saying, and not have a knee jerk reaction. Francis did not say that building a border wall is not Christian. He said that “a person who thinks ONLY about building walls … and not building bridges, is not Christian.” Stated positively, this means that we have to do both — where necessary, build walls; where possible, build bridges. “Because human lives and human dignity are at stake, it is reasonable to expect that national policies will combine secure standards of safety for states, compassion toward those often in life-threatening situations, and recognition that policies of nations like the United States will establish precedents, good or bad, for others,” in the words of Cardinal O’Malley.

  5. gracie says:

    Excellent observation! There’s another place I’ve heard of that has walls:

    “And in the Spirit, he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God . . . It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels . . .” Revelation 21: 10-12

    Just saying . . .

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    OK, Fr. Z, I see what you did here. Nice.

    I’m a map aficionado, this helps with the Millard Fillmore option.

  7. gloriamary says:

    Is illegal immigration sinful? It seems to me that an illegal immigrant is taking something that does not belong to them and breaking the law.

  8. Jarrod says:

    Walls were quite potent defensive weapons then, the same was true to a lesser degree when the Vatican wall went up. Today, they have been militarily irrelevant for generations – building one to keep invaders out would be a waste of time and money. If you’re reading a historical book, it seems prudent to apply historical context. Just sayin’…

    But of course, this is widely known, as is the fact that the proposed wall is not to deter armed invaders (and no, the sophisticated criminal groups now plaguing us will not be substantially affected either – that’s how obsolete walls are) but to repel the “least of these” whose only threat to us is the likelihood that, as a nation, we will fail in our obligations to them just that much more directly.

  9. Polycarpio says:

    Over at my «Super Martyrio» Blog, I posted about Francis’ penchant to say that various courses of conduct are “not Christian” and how that is a reflection of Latin American theology.

  10. Jarrod says:

    I’d like to take back a bit of my second paragraph above. I regret assigning a specific motive to anyone. There is insufficient evidence, and I beg the forgiveness of any I injured thereby. Nevertheless, the inevitable effects of the wall being proposed these days seem clear enough, and I think that the effects on the poor, the lack of effect on anything else, and the ridiculous cost ought to be weighed.

    I imagine my reaction to this post was about the same as it would have been had Father Benedict spoken against the use of guitar at Mass and someone posted Psalm 33 in response. So if I missed a joke, please consider that perspective.

    But if it was serious, why stop at a prooftext? There is likely a whole Bible study on this subject. We could start with Jericho, and how the walls of the unjust fare against the holiness of the Lord. We could then examine what those walls did for Jerusalem in the long run when the warnings of the prophets went unheeded.

  11. Bea says:

    But….But…..We HAVE bridges…..Come on in. just bring your passport with you, just like every other country requests at their borders. Walls are to keep illegals/invaders/enemies OUT. Legal passport holders have always been welcome.

    Building walls is not in the bible? (according to PF).
    What is NOT in the bible, is that anyone desiring the building of walls is unchristian.

    Thanks Fr. Z for your always enlightening information.
    Maybe some people who live in the Vatican should read your blog.

  12. michael says:

    Psalm 50

    50:19 Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; * that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

  13. Dspauldi says:

    Mr. Trump, is wrong about many things and, if he becomes the GOP nominee, I will be voting third party or writing in for the Presidency. [And thus helping Bernie to the White House?]

    That having been said, I think we have to acknowledge that breaking the immigration system, over the last five years, is driving the anger and worry, that a populist like Trump, is using. People are worried… And justly so.

    Promising to build this wall is the height of stupidity without collaterally enforcing our immigration laws and, let us be honest, the USCCB is directly opposed to enforcing immigration laws. We have 40 years of Catholic cooperation with immigration activism that includes Religious and Catholic socialadvocacy groups actively smuggling, shielding, and aiding unlawfully present persons. We run a VERY large immigration network. It we are honest, Pope Francis’ swipe at immigration control advocates is in locl step with long-standing American Catholic action on the ground.

    I am of two minds with regards to the Church’s efforts: as an American and a capitalist, I recognize that the numbers and origin of unlawfully present immigrants is disastrous and refusing to enforce law is always dangerous. As a Catholic, it saddens me that evangelization in the US comes down to “let us bring people who are already Catholic into our communities to fill the pews.”

    I suggest that the focus on making American parishes comfortable for Hispanics and Africans is not evangelizing, that it is resignation. I wish we were as focused on saving souls as rescuing people from want.

    As a South American, I expect His Holiness to be hostile to the US. It is in the cultural DNA of South and Central Americans to be so. I just wish that we heard as much about preaching the Word as we do caring for the disadvantaged.

    Is it too much to ask that, when God sees fit for us to have a new pope, that we get one with the fire and focus of Paul?

  14. KateD says:

    A strong and free country does not require walls.
    I associate walls with Ruussia and China and tyrannical oppression of peoples. The problem with walls is that they keep people in as well as out. I for one have lost enough of my personal freedoms to the federal government in the last 8 years and am unwilling to allow more to be stolen.

    Trump wants a wall because he will make money on its construction. In his perverse world, money is a virtue and lack of it a sin. He is a pychopath and a Mamonite. He is not prolife. If he believes in abortion in cases of rape and incest, he does not acknowledged the humanity of the preborn child…that or he deems certain humans disposable. Which is no surprise, but rather indicative of how he treats everyone….we are all disposable to him.

    What’s the problem with immigration? Is it the criminal element? That can be solved easily. Make legal immigration easier for our predominantly Catholic brothers and sisters to the south. Like Ellis Island, have them check in at the border and sign the guest book. Check for disease, check for crimal background and verify their intentions. Are they just looking to come work for a period of time and then will return to their home country? Great. Charge them taxes at a foreign worker rate and issue the paper work. Live Scan them into a national database and if they commit a crime send them immediately home. If they want to become citizens, start the process. They will recieve incrementally better wages and tax breaks as they progress from one immigration staus to the next. If they commit a crime, game over. Deport them.

    No sane person would go through the abuse and cost associated with crossing with coyotes, if they could do it legally for less. I know women who have turned ashen at the thought of going home for their parents funerals, because they know they will be robbed, raped (again) and worse.

    By establishing a handful of immigration hubs along the southern border, and making immigration inexpensive and efficient, movement between hubs of honest folk and families would be eliminated. Consequently, the only people crossing between hubs would be enemy combatants or narco-criminals upon whom border patrol would be given orders to fire at will. This would prove a further incentive for honest folk to immigrate via the hubs.

    We need these people. We need the population, We need the labor force and more people to pay into the social security system. And they are Christians. The bonus is they are mostly Catholics. It really is a win win.

    My other theory is this…no one appreciates the opportunities created by Liberty and our system of governance and economy better than someone who has been so utterly deprived of their God given rights. The constant influx of immigrants over the centuries in my estimation is the reason why we have been able to avoid watering the old liberty tree with the blood of patriots. I will take immigration over civil war any day.

    Seriously. Think about the foolishness of this anti immigration pro-wall diatribe.

  15. mburn16 says:

    “but to repel the “least of these” whose only threat to us is the likelihood that, as a nation, we will fail in our obligations to them just that much more directly”

    There are seven bjllion people in this world, the greater portion of whom have a standard of living far below our own, and most of whom would happily relocate to the US if they could. Exactly how far do those “obligations” extend, in your eyes?

  16. gracie says:

    Jarrod,

    “Today, they have been militarily irrelevant for generations . . .”

    Going by Revelation they’re going to become relevant again ;-)

  17. SteelBiretta says:

    As Marty Haugen says, “Walls are welcome, walls are welcome, walls are welcome in this place.”

  18. Dspauldi says:

    I am willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, Father, but Mr. Trump troubles me deeply. I will listen, pray, and think on the matter.

  19. bourgja says:

    Let’s hope the international discussion of this topic does not give Pope Francis the idea to tear down the walls of Vatican City!

  20. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have not caught up with the comments, yet, but the post reminded me of some lines from one of T.S. Eliot’s Choruses from his play, The Rock (which may be freely translating the verse quoted): “Preserve me from the enemy who has something to gain: and/from the friend who has something to lose./Remembering the words of Nehemiah the Prophet: ‘The trowel/ in hand, and the gun rather loose in the holster.’ ” (I suppose Eliot later decided the whole play was not quite ‘up to par’, as it has not been reprinted as a whole the way the Choruses have as selections, but if you live near a library with a copy, it is well worth reading!)

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you to Fr. Z and commentors for an excellent post and civil disagreement in a lively combox.

    With Fr. Z’s permission, I’d like to list numerous factors complicating border security in general. This list is not meant to be complete, or to bludgeon one side in this debate. All items have been reported by news outlets from Fox News to NPR and from HuffPo to National Review, along with websites of local TV and newspapers. In no particular order:

    -Drones. Cartels are using drones to surveil the Border Patrol, find gaps in coverage, and, in a cargo capacity, transport small and valuable shipments into the U.S.

    -Armed cartel observation posts have been located as far as 100 miles north of the border.

    -Public health issues in the U.S. from prolonged travel under austere conditions by both migrants and alien criminals, resulting in an uptick of tropical disease inside the U.S.

    -Dangers to migrants from “coyotes” and kidnappers, and extortion and exploitation once inside the U.S. by gangs based in their former country.

    -Loss of life and property to U.S. citizens along the border and within the U.S. by alien criminals.

    -The Los Zetas cartel-money laundering-Hezbollah connection.

    -Hezbollah-fund raising-cocaine trafficking.

    -FBI crime statistics and the disproportionate number of aliens involved in crime and on Most-Wanted lists.

    -Cartels and their recruitment of ex-military as members.

    -Sanctuary cities in the U.S., and the problem of repeat offenders and the atmosphere of lawlessness.

    -Arrests of aliens inside the U.S. who entered via the southern border and have tattoos in Arabic or Farsi.

    -More than one narco tunnel into the U.S. resembling terrorist tunnels into Israel.

    This list is not meant to be exhaustive or conclusive. Certainly Christian charity is in order to migrants in distress, Christian charity is also in order to the citizens of a sovereign country in distress by alien criminals.

    For background reading see, for example, Victor Davis Hanson’s “Two Californias” article in National Review and the book “Amexica” written by a moderate leftist reporter. See also reporting on: the “Triple Frontiers” enclave in South America; Iranian activities in Venezuela; and numerous European countries building barbedwire border fences.

  22. Gulielmus says:

    Were the Leonine Wall and its successors built to keep out illegal immigrants seeking a better life, rightly or wrongly, in the Vatican?

    Is the wall Mr. Trump is proposing intended to keep out marauding armies seeking to loot and sack El Paso?

    If the answer the either question is no, there is no reason to compare them.

  23. Jarrod says:

    mburn16-

    An excellent question. Jesus doesn’t seem to provide any limits in Mt 25:31-46, and to be honest, I find verse 45 to be the scariest in the Bible (slightly offset by verse 40). John the Baptist offers some clear advice in Lk 3:11, and this is echoed by several Fathers (notably Ambrose and Chrysostom) who go so far as to say that any surplus over necessity by right belongs to the poor. Leo XIII seems to moderate the position a little, allowing for the additional consideration of “one’s standing” (Rerum Novarum, 22), but the overall message is the same. He denies this is a duty to be adjudicated by human law, and I agree – but as Chesterton wrote, if we neglect the big laws, we cannot avoid getting the small laws. I believe that the minimum wage, and the efforts to increase it, are examples of these small laws that are symptoms of an overall failure in our duty. (Myself included – I don’t think I’m where I need to be either.)

    gracie-

    I’m not sure how serious you are, but anything from Revelation needs to be carefully interpreted to discern the literal from the figurative. At any rate, it seems clear that the city described needs no protection of any kind – after all, its gates are always open but no invasion ever happens (21:24-27). So it seems likely that the walls serve another purpose. Perhaps decorative? Verses 18-21 make the walls sound rather pretty. Maybe it’s symbolic so that the reader recognizes the city as a perfected Jerusalem.
    Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 suggest that anything martial will be unnecessary by that time as well. (They don’t seem to have come to pass quite yet, though.)

  24. SKAY says:

    As a military family, we were required to move a number of times. If we moved into a neighborhood
    where everyone living in the neighborhood respected boundaries than fences were not a necessity.
    If we moved into a neighborhood where neighbors generally did not respect boundaries than the old
    saying is true.
    Good fences make good neighbors.
    I just read a story today about a mother whose son was tortured and killed by a hispanic teen who
    she referred to as a “dreamer”. Needless to say her story is tragic and she wants something done about our wide open border so she is voting for Trump. She also feels that no one else seems to care about the families of the victims of these crimes and I understand her point.

    There are many American citizens who cannot find work or are in fear of losing their jobs. I know because it is happening in the area where I live. There is so much more to this problem than people just not wanting those who illegally cross our borders pouring into our country. The ICE agents who agree to talk about some of those who are crossing the border tell stories that are absolutely frightening.

    No one from another country has a “right” to come here and become a citizen. It has always been
    and should remain a privilege and it should be done legally.

  25. midwestmom says:

    As a middle class American Catholic I feel betrayed by the Church hierarchy and the U.S. government. Prelates keep laying this guilt trip on us for a problem we, essentially, did not create, and feel powerless to rectify. Yet here we are, sheepishly footing the bill for all of it – and STILL
    we get the guilt trips. We played by the book, had the big family, one income, but it’s not enough. Now we’re expected to support not only the able-bodied, jobless American freeloaders, but also the millions of foreigners pouring across the border. Maybe the clergy should start paying for their own food, rent, and insurance so they have a clue about what’s going on in Realville.