A hello, a comment, and more to come…

I’m back from Haiti.  There will be plenty of reflecting on that in the coming weeks; small-scale and large-scale.  But not yet. It’s good to be back, as well as a big culture shock and jolting transition back into the flow of our society. Being up in the mountains of Haiti with a people whose electricity only comes from a missions-organization-donated generator does that.

Here’s a classic quote from Dick Cheney today commenting on “terrorism,” a great re-entry into American society for me;

“These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Now you tell me if those are wise words or immoral words; short-sighted or long-sighted.  If you’re a Christian, filter these comments through a Biblical perspective rather than a America-centered perspective and comment on their value. And if you find them deeply troubling, as I do, please tell me how George W, a supposedly “born-again” Christian, could make this man his right-hand advisor.

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Some Friday links…

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Here’s three links to things that have benefitted my body and my brain recently.  Not mindless links.  Good, solid, life links.

In Defense of Food:  Michael Pollan on how food can become a joy; what should be eaten, when we should eat it, and in what circumstances it should be eaten.  Sure, the video’s an hour long, but have you ever watched Sportscenter back to back for two hours just to show your buddy the cool highlight?  Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy for a good cry?  How about you watch a brilliant journalist describe how you can enhance the quality of your life and quite likely extend the length of your life?  Whaddaya say?  And he’s funny as all get out along the way.

 

Politics: Time’s Joe Klein on Obama’s important commitment to assembling a “team of rivals” for his Cabinet rather than a bunch of suck-ups or people that believe exactly like him.  Here’s a quote from this very good article:

“(This) would reflect a powerful desire on Obama’s part to return to the tradition of bipartisan foreign policy, with politics stopping at the water’s edge. And it would reflect a growing centrist consensus in the foreign policy/national security spectrum that includes most members of the Bush 41 and Clinton teams–in favor of the primacy of diplomacy over militarism, ready to begin talks with those the Bush Administration considered pariahs (the Taliban, Syria, Iran), but not averse to the use of force–against Al Qaeda, in particular–when necessary.”

Most of these of very, very worthy goals to pursue to reverse the eight years of global erosion of respect for America; a direct result of Bush’s foreign policy.

 

Discipleship: Zack Exley over at Revolution in Jesusland wrote an excellent post while at the Christian Community Development Association’s conference in Miami called “I’m doing this for God, not for you.”  He describes what he sees to be a spontaneous move of disciples of Jesus doing what God has expected His people to do the whole time; obey him selflessly.  In this case, it means moving to places abandoned and left behind by our society to love people there; no matter the cost.  Here’s a quote from the post that gripped me:

“I’ve seen Shane (Claiborne) speak now in several different Christian forums, and as he talks about how “my life really got messed up when I found Jesus” (because of the sacrifices he started having to make) you can see the Christian kids in the audience sinking into their seats as it dawns on them what Jesus is calling them to do. And then they go do it. These are some of the most mature young people I’ve ever met—I think because they’re experiencing at very young ages the kind of sober, selfless impulses that come in the secular world only when people have kids.

Which Saddleback response was MORE Biblical?

In the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on August 16th, I found one section interesting (I haven’t listened to/read the whole thing), and that was when Rick Warren asked about how to approach evil in the world.  I have Warren’s questions and the candidates’ answers in full.  So I’d like to pose the question without giving my own perspective for whoever might want to interact:  which candidate’s response was more deeply Biblical, in your view?

Rick Warren interviewing Barack Obama:

Warren:  Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

Obama:  Evil does exist.  I mean, we see evil all the time.  We see evil in Darfur, we see evil sadly on the streets of our cities.  We see evil in parents who have viciously abused their children and I think it has to be confronted.  It has to be confronted squarely and one of the things that I strongly believe is that we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world.  That is God’s task.  But we can be soldiers in that process and we can confront it when we see it.  Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, but you know a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

Warren:  In the name of good?

Obama:  In the name of good.  And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.

 

Rick Warren interviewing John McCain:

Warren:  How about the issue of evil? Does evil exist and if it does, do we ignore it, do we negotiate with it, do we contain it, or do we defeat it?

McCain:  Defeat it.  Couple points.  One, if I’m President of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.  I will do that and I know how to do that.  I will get that done.  No one should be allowed to take thousands of American, innocent American lives. 

Of course evil must be defeated.  My friends, we are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century; radical Islamic extremists.  Not long ago in Baghdad, al-Qaeda took two young men who were mentally disabled and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace and by remote control detonated those suicide vests.  If that isn’t evil, you have to tell me what is; and we’re going to defeat this evil and the central battleground according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden is the battles of Baghdad, Mosul, and Iraq, and we are winning and we are succeeding, and our troops will come home with honor and victory and not in defeat and that’s what’s happening.  We have, and we face this threat throughout the world.  It’s not just in Iraq.  It’s not just in Afghanistan.  Our intelligence people tell us al-Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America.

My friends, we must face this challenge.  We can face this challenge and we must totally defeat it and we’re in a long struggle, but when I’m around the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform will do it.   I have no doubt.  None.