Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Recognizing Our Common Humanity

Gerald Wallace once addressed the convention of the American Association of School Administrators. In that address, he made some comparisons between the Russian Lenin and the American Lincoln.

Lenin allegedly said, “You must not raise the level of the poor because they will rise up and bite the hand that feeds them.” Lincoln concluded, “God must have loved the common man, he made so many of them.”

Lenin pitted class against class, but Lincoln suggested, “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. On the other hand, Lenin urged exterminating all who oppose you, while Lincoln insisted “With malice toward none; with charity for all …”

Lenin wrote, “We will consider nothing right unless it advances our revolution, while Lincoln suggested we “Work toward the right as God gives us the power to see the right.”

When asked what he wanted men to say of him when he was gone, Lincoln reportedly thought a while then replied, “I hope they will say of me that, as I pass my neighbor’s garden, if I saw a thistle in it I plucked it and put a rose in its place.”

Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, that pitted one class against another in an evolving economic warfare led by the Bolshevik party, the vanguard politic that led the fight for the political independence of the Russian working class and ended up with a small dictatorship that controlled every aspect of society and disallowed private ownership.

President Lincoln was elected as our 16th President and the first Republican President, Republicans being the social progressives of that era. They favored common infrastructure at a time when the states were essentially thirteen independent colonies only, brought together by their common resistance to King George and English rule. Lincoln, however, was a bible reader, who took his Bible reading even more seriously than his political partisanship.

So many of our differences throughout history have to do with the teaching of Jesus, who taught us to 1) love God supremely; and, 2) love our neighbor as ourselves. Lenin and Marx utilized a common concern for the masses of humanity by perverting it in the form of Russian Communism that remained atheistic, anti-social, and supremely self-serving for the few in control.

On the other hand, Lincoln’s words reiterate this core teaching of Jesus. His words reveal a behavior that brought together an administration based on ability rather than party. His words reflect a common concern for all humanity as expressed in the Emancipation Act, altho Lincoln was no Abolitionist.

 It is imperative that we love God supremely. Without acknowledging Our Creator, we have no basis for recognizing our commonality as diverse human beings with common blood, common needs, and common aspirations. Only when we understand and accept our commonality, can we love one another as we love ourselves.

Otherwise, we get locked in on serving ourselves … as did Communism … as does much of today’s economic and political partisanship … as does Capitalistic libertarianism … as does fascism. Otherwise, we attempt to “Lord it over others;” we attempt to conquer others; we constantly compete with each other to be the President of the country, the biggest corporation, the best church, the best of all cultures, the right color. The list is endless as we compete to be king of the hill on our global school ground..

I believe Lincoln understood Jesus on the cross, when he said in his oft-quoted address, “With malice toward none; with charity for all …” That has the purity in it of the love that God offered when he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son … that whosoever believed in Him should have life everlasting (John 3:16).

Lifting up the fallen-down, the impoverished, the vulnerable, the unprotected, the throwaways, is one way we can show that we love God supremely. When we do love God supremely, we will become one with lifting up our common humanity.

From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Corner Turned

Michael Grunwald is a senior national correspondent at Time Magazine, who has written several successful politically-oriented non-fiction books, in addition to winning the George Polk award for national reporting.

Grunwald's works suggest professional competence in the arena of Beltway meetings and all the politically-oriented news situations in which such journalists find themselves. They commend his writing and journalistic skills for recounting various secret strategy sessions, utilizing numerous new documents, and dependably handling hundreds of interviewees, all of which make his works reliable for reference.

Working with more than 400 sources from both sides of the political aisle, Michael Grunewald “reveals the vivid story behind President Osama’s $800 billion stimulus bill,” which he calls “one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country.”

Bemoaning the fact it is later than it has ever been before, as if the clock were striking thirteen; the political right capably utilized fear and guerilla warfare tactics opposing President Obama’s efforts to restore our economy. On the other hand, Grunwald calls the President’s successful Recovery Act “a down payment on the nation’s economic and environmental future, the purest distillation of change in the Obama era.”

Admitting that Obama has utterly failed to adequately explain his program to the public, Grunwald offers evidence of a transition toward a clean-energy economy, a doubled renewable energy power, and an unprecedented financial investment in energy efficiency that includes a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. BUT IT ALL TAKES TIME...

Simultaneously, it "is" already computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system; iniating the boldest educational reform in history and the most extensive infrastructure investment since Eisenhower’s new interstate system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs, which is lifting people above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance.

“It works,” says Ron Book, a Florida Republican lobbyist who chairs the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “It keeps people off the streets and saves an astronomical amount of money. I’m not a fan of the stimulus, but this is a huge bright spot” (424).

Grunwald recalls Joe Biden having fun at the author’s expense, needling him for his positive reporting when generally more “Debbie Downer than Little Mary Sunshine…” Grunwald admits, “It was kind of funny because it was kind of true. At times, I did feel like I was writing about an alternative universe stimulus. But the facts were the facts. The Recovery Act was on schedule, and was so far under budget that the administration had financed an extra three thousand construction projects with the savings.

“As Biden liked to say, fraud was the dog that hadn’t barked. Experts had predicted tens of billions of dollars in losses, but there had only been 298 convictions, for scams totaling just $7.2 million; the Recovery Act’s unprecedented transparency and scrutiny made it an uninviting target for crooks. And its oversubscribed competitive grant programs--for everything from brownfields redevelopment to emissions-reducing transit projects--really did seem to promote a culture of responsibility, forcing bureaucrats to use judgment instead of just checking boxes. Even when their judg-ments were wrong, as with Solyndra or the busted battery manufacturer Ener1, there was no indication of corruption or cronyism …” (emphasis added).

I found the author competent in reducing such hard-to-read [for me at least] materials into an easy-to-read book. I found the author very convincing of the President’s honesty in creating substantial change rather than simply fomenting political rhetoric. Most politicans are comfortable with the rhetoric but few want real change from the status quo.

I came away with a very bad taste in my mouth, for the partisanship of Beltway Politics, for the politics as usual, with its cronyism and power-grabbing by well-paid people more interested in personal patronage rather serving the common good of the country and creating good legislation. The potty-mouthed politicians who cannot politic without lobbing their f-bombs at their opposition sickened me with their offensive inability to use the English language without slanting it. I saw the Washington World as one inhabited by intelligent but myopic, arrogant, crass, greedy individuals more self-serving than public serving.

And while I tend to view our President as an idealist and public servant--right or wrong--I see people like him thwarted, diverted, resisted and ridiculed. And I see a public that prides itself on its wilfull ignorance and woeful passive resistance through non-involvement - totally unaware of the positive changes already mobilized by a Recovery Act in the first two months of office that will benefit EVERYBODY but the status quo sect..

From Warner’s World,, I admit I was surprised to learn--being totally unaware--just how many ways my wife and I had already benefited by changes effected by the Obama Recovery Plan.
I like it for the change initiated, for the integrity built into it, and for its futurity. Change is seldom popular and it is never overnight.
I am positively sure that had the President not turned us back from the brink as much as allowed to do, the evidence all points to a Depression deeper than any of us has ever lived in (I was a Depression era Baby-1927).
I simply find it incomprehensible how far down the tube I believe we would be today were we following the dictates of John McCain and company rather than Barack Obama
... walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I recently spent an evening reviewing The Teavangelicals by David Brady (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2012). I wanted a better understanding of this political phenomenon. Is it a healthy correction to unbalanced thinking, as some suggest, or is it an abberation to be avoided?

I quickly discovered the author, David Brady, is a converted Jew in the thralls of his new discoveries of a newly found faith as an evangelical Christian. Assuming that “Tea” Party was a reference to the Boston Tea Party, I quickly discovered it means

Already ___
an acrostic spelling TEA.

Brady offers five principles by which he proposes to identify the Tea Party:

1. Reclaim our Judaio-Christian heritage, which he linked to limited constitutional government. We have a Judaio-Christian heritage in this country. This has been well documented. It cannot be said, however, that we have “lost” our heritage because we maintain a more secularized government today (civil (neutral) government as opposed to a theocratic (church-state) government). I wonder: would he allow the Bible to be our Constitution? How would that work for non-Christians?

David Brady, like John Calvin, would prefer that we re-establish church-state relations rather than maintain our current separation “of” (not from) church and state. Under John Calvin, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake as a non-trinitarian and under David Brady the state would be allowed to make decisions for individual citizens that should be left to the citizen (E.G.: abortion and homosexuality).

2. Smaller government. Most of us agree that only as much government as is necessary to fulfill the needed tasks should be put into place. However, I find little in Scripture and the teachings of Jesus to support larger or smaller government. Jesus did say to give Caesar that which was his and give to God that which is His, which is about as basic as one can get.

3. Fiscal responsibility seems to be in order for all times. Honesty and integrity are matters of faith and without them we have no character. While I support fiscal responsibility as a matter of political responsibility, I find no set principles in the Bible that would establish fiscal responsibility as a political position.

4. Oppose tax increases. I once hated taxes, but like traffic laws, taxes are necessary. The current opposition to taxes is based on the biases of certain people and has little or nothing to do with bible-based faith. Do I mind being taxed to help provide a safety net for those needing it? NO! The system needs reforming, but by all of us sharing together we are able to do things most of us could not do otherwise.

Do I mind being taxed for something in which I do not believe? Yes I do mind, and you say your tax money should not be spent for abortions with which you disagree. I say I should not be taxed just so our government can spend more on military causes than the next 17-20 nations of the world spend in total.

5. Restore free market. Where in Scripture do you find your basis for establishment of a free market or any other kind of market? Free market allows for entrepreneurial ship and calls for private ownership, but nowhere does Scripture negate the cooperativeness needed to bring a diverse culture together.

On the other hand, a strong case could be made against several facets of the current libertarian “free market” politics, which are atheistic at the core. David Brady would strongly criticize a government that restrains “free market” through regulations that demand clean air to breathe and pure water to drink. The last 30 years has seen many such regulations stripped away in the cause of “free market” in both industry and economics, all of which reminds me of the biblical story of the farmer who repetitiously tore down his barns so he could continue building bigger and better, without restraint.

I gladly welcome David Brady to the Christian faith, but I have no intention of allowing him to pervert my faith, or to make of orthodox Christianity something it is not, just to fit the structure of his political likes and dislikes. Rather than shaping the Christian Faith around his biases, I would prefer that he restructure his political likes and dislikes around a solid biblical orthodoxy. That would do much more than is currently being done for our country and it would honor our Common Lord.

From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Warner's World: Living Led By Faith

Warner's World: Living Led By Faith: Led By Faith is Steve Erwin’s reporting of Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of “Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide” (Erwin/Hay Hou...

Living Led By Faith

Led By Faith is Steve Erwin’s reporting of Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of “Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide” (Erwin/Hay House/2012), dedicated to Dr. Wayne Dyer, who met Immaculee while on a book tour, heard her story and promised to help her publish it. The rest of it is her story as she arose from the ruins of the 1994 Rwanda genocide that exterminated much of her family.

Ninety-one days of surviving -existing- with six other females in a “tiny, seldom-used bathroom at the far end of his bathroom [Protestant Pastor Murinzi, a Hutu] that became a survival-for-seven in a four foot by three foot enclosure separated only by a thin wall. “That” turned her life as a devout Catholic Christian university student [a Tutsi] upside down; it resulted in her "visionary discovery" of restoration, peace, and reconciliation through personally experiencing the power of forgiveness by forgiving the Hutu man that murdered her mother and brother.

Her story is a revelation in itself of how the living God reveals himself to the most helpless in the most hopeless of circumstances. Her life reveals the restorative powers of a God who loves humanity with all of the pathos of the Christ whose death on the cross is the Christian’s focal point of faith for a personalized relationship with The Almighty and a transformative relationship with all of humanity.

I could not say it better than Rick Warren did, but I can attest to what he writes so pointedly: “Out of the ruins of the 1994 Rwandan genocide have come the most astounding and moving stories of faith, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and miracles that “I’ve ever heard. If you’ve had a hard time letting go of a deep hurt, or difficulty in releasing your offender so you can get on with the rest of your life, Immaculee’s story can lead you to the place of healing, restoration, and peace.”

You may be amazed as I was at her utilization of Catholic spirituality, prayer, and meditation, but you will be moved to tears by her story as well as spiritually renewed in your own personal faith by her personal devotion to Christ.

From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
suggesting that you can find Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story in your public library, published in 2008 by Hay House of Carlsbad, CA.

Like I say about our library, you may find yours the best deal in your town ... Her original book is pictured at the top - Left To Tell
... Her more recent book that I describe here is pictured at the end of  my post - Led By Faith.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Arab Spring

 The so-called Arab Spring began in Tunisia, in 2010. It brought down dictators, sparked civil war in Libya, and ignited a bloody uprising in Syria. Long-term repercussions remain in Egypt and elsewhere. Tariq Ramadan, a foremost Islamic thinker, examines and explains these events from his perspective (Islam and the Arab Awakening/Tariq Ramadan/ Oxford Press/2012).

This Ph.D. graduate of a French University and Swiss-born Egyptian son of one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, is quite the cosmopolitan. He teaches at Oxford University and Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He is President of the European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels, and widely known in Western Educational circles.

Ramadan explores the uprisings, and offers his insights into their origins, significance and possible futures from a Muslim perspective, and provides some serious insights into our Western Culture from which we could profit greatly. Simultaneously, Muslims could profit from some of our cultural practices and educational perspectives, if they better understood how we got to where we are.

To Ramadan's Muslim peers, and those comprising the “Arab Spring“,  he forthrightly asserts “There can be no true democritization unless it is accompanied by the striving for greater social equality and economic justice” (63).

An astute observation for me was his assertion regarding our free market system: “First, it must be acknowledged that today’s states and democritically elected governments find themselves, structurally, in a position of virtual subservience to the economic sphere; which possesses its own imperatives, its institutions, and its multinationals where egalitarian, democratic, and/or transparent administrative practices are not enforced” (107).

In the same section he stated “The doctrine of free markets appears to be assuming the form of a new religion in the very heart of the secularized order.” Interesting perspective, if true.

He interprets Sharia very differently from Muslim extremists (literalists), and at the same time takes a critical view of Western Culture. Regarding “Implementation of the sharia (“the path of faithful-ness to the higher goals of Islam” ) does not mean enforcing prohibitions and imposing a strict, timeless penal code, as it is often understood by some literalist Islamists or as it is perceived in the West (emphasis added).

I liked his paragraph regarding the ethical orientation he believes the Islamic Awakening must provide. “There can be no ambiguity about the ethical orientation,” he insists, “that Islam provides: We have conferred dignity on human beings” - a principle that applies to all humans, women and men, rich and poor, black and white, Muslim or not. It is the primary, fundamental principle of social justice that, in practice, rests on two prerequisites: equal rights and equal opportunities. As John Rawls points out in his work on justice, the two types of equality are not identical; equal rights are of no avail if equal opportunities are not accepted and ensured. The first steps along the path to this goal are education, social equality between women and men (equal rights, equal opportunities, equal pay for equal skill, etc.), the protection of freedoms (religious or philosophical, freedom of speech and/or criticism); they apply equally to all citizens, be they Muslims, of another faith, or of no faith. The principle of ’no compulsion in religion’ must inform the state, as must human rights, which must apply to all without distinction. At the heart of social reality, the management of religious pluralism is strengthened by the internal dynamics of religions themselves. They can exist and flourish--and even spread--in a space free of constraint, through the strength of coherence and persuasion, never by imposition or prohibition” (112-13).

If true that these are consistent with Islamic values; they should by all means pursue this ethical orientation, but it sounds like a page taken from the best of our Western values and reinterpreted as Islamic values. As such, we should have no problem helping them achieve such values. If true, Islam has much in common with Western values. If not, who is misleading who?

One other paragraph I liked: it points to things I believe we must change about ourselves. He writes:

The most recent global crises, particularly that of 2008, have demonstrated--assuming proof was still needed--that states are so inextricably linked to the private activities of the financial sector that citizens are forced to pay for the foolishness, avarice, and dishonest practices of the major private and semi-private banks, which have consulted no one yet mobilize immense media resources to insist on the imperative need for government intervention. Despite soaring public debt, democratic states have bailed out rich but undemocratically administered banks. Nothing really new here: these events reflect the essence of the neo-liberal capitalist system and its management of the system’s cyclical crises. For all that, the frequency and intensity of the crises are sapping the very underpinnings of democracy. Suffice it to observe the fragility and the debt load of the American federal government, or the threat of bankruptcy that hangs over European countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy” (108).

Ramadan would be a good read for many thoughtful American readers, I saw him interviewed: he is thoughtful; I believe he deserves dialogue; I would like to hear more from him regarding solutions, but would also like to correct what I perceive as his misperceptions.

From Warner’s World,
perhaps we need more intimate dialogue than we’ve been willing to participate in;
I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Being a Positive Force

I hope it is more than just a passing phase of where I am in life, for when I observe the current political campaign, and listen to the dreary drone of repetitious dribble passed off as media coverage, I am very aware of just how bone-weary I am with the negative-thinking pundits out there trying to re-program the rest of us into their infantile way of thinking and doing business.

I am rocked to sleep with endless Obama-bashing by a host of irrational emoters that defy reason. I have had it with Romney rebels who rationalize every sin in Washington as the fault of the President, but remain unwilling to accept the equally foolish blame for Mr. Mit when at Bain Capital. I watch Jerry Sandusky plead for his life, and the Media Circus performing its mental gymnastics, and I have to ask myself just who is right and wrong here.

It would greatly delight me to once more read one of those positive messages from that long-gone friend of so many of us, and smile with his humorous twist, as he would once again remind us, “The rooster crows but the hen delivers.”

One of those tiny vignettes Forrest Plants told in his weekly newsletter, “Hickory Hi Lights” went this way. Two taxidermists noticed an owl on display in a certain store window. They criticized the mounting. The eyes were not natural. The wings were not in proportion to the head. The feathers were not neatly arranged. The feet could surely be improved. Just as they finished their critique, the old owl turned its head … and winked at them.

We all know live owls do not display as perfectly as do dead mounts. Life, it seems, is also that way; it leaves us living it out one day at a time, hoping to get things right. As Christians, I believe we have a commitment to Christ to serve others. One of the best ways we do this is by being a positive force and avoiding the negatives that constantly tug us downward.

There is a little known story of a Presbyterian missionary, repeated by James Denton. Allegedly, a lonely grave remains on a South Pacific island in the New Hebrides bearing the name of the Rev. John Geddie, That grave is marked with a marble slab that bears this inscription:
When he came here,
There were no Christians;
When he went away,
There were no heathen.

I heartily concur with that veteran who told his congregation, “My great desire is to leave behind me a church filled with committed Christians and not even one Luke-warm heathen.” I remember another Christ-follower who wrote this positive word:
“Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil. 4:8 KJV).

From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Whose Shoulders Are You Standing?

He was a new name to me, one I discovered while reading about British and American Abo-litionists; Anthony Benezet was born in St. Quentin, northern France. He arrived 31 January 1713 to a family of Huguenots--French Protestants, during a period of increasing persecution following the revocation of the 1685 Edict of Nantes. In 1715, when two years old, Anthony emigrated to London with his family and received an education appropriate to the son of a prosperous merchant family.

London proved to be only a temporary home, for in 1731, at age seventeen, Benezet’s family emigrated again, this time to Philadelphia. They moved to the British-American colony of Pennsylvania, where young Anthony joined the Society of Friends, Quakers.

His early attempts at a career in trade proved unsuccessful, so in 1739 he launched at Germantown, as a schoolteacher. Three years later, he moved to a position at the famous Friends' English School of Philadelphia (now the William Penn Charter School). There, he became noted for being a fine teacher, and for disliking severe discipline more than was common.

In addition to his day duties, he set up an evening class for slave children in 1750 and ran it from his own home. In 1754, he finally left the Friends' English School to establish his own school - exclusively for girls, the first public girls' school in America.

Dogged by ill health, Anthony became unable to maintain an uninterrupted career. Nevertheless, he continued to teach slave children from home until 1770 when, with the support of the Society of Friends, he set up the Negro School at Philadelphia, and subsequently taught at both of these schools, almost until his death.

Beginning in the 1750s, Benezet increasingly opposed slavery. At first, his campaign remained very much a solitary effort, although taking two forms. At the first, he worked hard to convince his Philadelphia Quaker brethren that slave-owning was inconsistent with Christian doctrine. Second, he wrote and published at his own expense numerous anti-slavery tracts and pamphlets.

Of his published works, Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772, became especially influential on both sides of the Atlantic. It was read, and to a certain extent, imitated by both Granville Sharp and John Wesley. Both men corresponded with Benezet and distributed his works in England.

Benezet's writings helped persuade Thomas Clarkson to embark on his abolitionist career a few years later. His publication, Some Historical Account of Guinea, was reprinted several times during the height of the abolition campaign, but he did not live to see anti-slavery become the tidal- wave that it did, either in Britain or America. He died May 3rd, 1784, and family and friends buried him in the Friends' Burial Ground, Philadelphia.

Although Anthony Benezet qualifies as more American than British, his influence on British abolitionism cannot be minimized or doubted. Irv Brendlinger reminds us in the Wesleyan Theological Journal that when Benezet moved in 1743 from Philadelphia to Germantown, he became a trustee of the Charity School that eventually became the College of Pennsylvania, now known as the University of Pennsylvania (32.1; 2007; 107-128).

Anthony Benezet serves as another of the more obvious and exemplary Christians on whose shoulders we stand as we continue working for a more Christian world for our families and friends to occupy. From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forgive us ... As We Forgive...

I started on this same blog journey a couple days ago, but a detour en route left me with conclusions about pastor appreciation. So … let’s do this again and see if I can finish in the direction I first started.

On Sunday I experienced the “worship service” as a cacophony of clashing sounds that hijacked my nervous system and distracted me from the real reasons I went to church; such is the power of contemporary music. In all fairness to everybody and to Worship Pastor Jim Sirks, I have to admit that my hearing challenges are only magnified when I have to deal with artificially magnified sound (sound systems operated by non profession-als).

What I found challenging was the sermon--if you will, the power of the spoken word, well crafted and thought through, when ably delivered. Thank you, Jim Sparks, for helping me redeem my time, and for turning a disruption into a delight. There is an incomparable beauty when the human persona and the proclamation of truth unite into one integrated personality. Such is the power of the sermon, as James Earl Massey writes so ably in his numberless books on preaching.

Back to my theme. Jim has been leading our congregation through the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:13 provided the day’s text: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thing is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory …” Titling his sermon “Armor”, he drew biblical commentary from Ephesians 6:10, which defines our Christian armor, and from I Peter 5 that describes Satan as a lion on a limited leash.

Four things he asked us to remember:

1. Remember the POWER OF THE ENEMY, so powerful, but powerless.

2. Remember the CUNNING OF THE ENEMY.

3. Remember that GOD IS SOVEREIGN (the enemy lion is on a leash).

4. Remember to KEEP LOOKING FORWARD (on the tiptoes of expectation (Revelation 21:22).

As a fitting conclusion to the Service, we again repeated the Lord’s Prayer in unison. When we came to that phrase “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers” I thought of the recent conversations I had on Facebook with church friends regarding our conflict with Iran over nuclear power.

I’ve been advocating with those groups wanting to tone down the rhetoric, stop the war chant against Iran, reduce the strong patriotic rhetoric that demands a firm stand against Iran, eliminate the ratcheting up of pleas for stronger military defense, stop the demonizing President A… of Iran. I also remembered the friendly counsel of a pastor friend that insisted that we take a very firm political stand, and that we accept only an uncompromising firmness on the part of our President.

That allowed a whirlwind of thoughts to rush in: 911, the death of Chris Stephens, bombings in Beirut and elsewhere, Osama bin Ladin ... Forgive us … as we forgive those … I find it difficult to justify these actions, but I also find it tough to justify nuclear power to Israel and deny it to the Palestinians. It is so easy to justify our behavior as the right behavior and theirs as demonic!
However, I cannot justify our irrational defense of Israel’s myopic and self-serving behavior, anymore than I can justify bin Ladin’s radical hatred of the United States. I started to call his hatred irrational; it was radical but not irrational because it was rooted in the blind and unfair diplomacy of the West against the Muslim East, say what you will.

All of which brings up seemingly irreconcilable differences within our world community. As I stood in the congregation at North Avenue Sunday and we repeated those words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” I felt the impact of this whole situation punching me full in the face - these people are not hearing these words, except in the narrow context of their own little lives as Christians in Battle Creek, MI.

The words of Jesus are meaningful when we apply them to each other, but they mean nothing when we want our political leaders to ratchet up the tough talk, demonize the other side, justify our behavior. It sounded like nice talk on Sunday morning, but by Monday morning it was back to business as usual … I wonder if we comprehend even a shallow understanding of The Lord’s words when He modeled a prayer the disciples could pray by … and live by …

Jesus seems to be a pretty good personal relations counselor but a totally lousy diplomat … From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com