Saturday, March 15, 2003

Hitler and Saddam We went to a play given at our church this afternoon by the theater group Shadows of Light on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This play focused on Bonhoeffer's decision to oppose Hitler -- very effective, very timely.

Following the play, there was a panel discussion which included UPI religion editor Uwe Siemon-Netto, who as a war correspondent in Germany in the 1960's came to know many friends of Bonhoeffer. He added these insights as well as his personal insights of growing up in Germany during that time. One young girl asked him to how Saddam compares to Hitler. He said that he thought they were very similar but with one key distinction, I thought very insightful: He said that Hussein is very much a post-modern man, a post-modern dictator. Whereas Hitler believed in the Reich and Aryan purity and so on, Hussein looks only to that which serves Hussein.

In another context, an essay he wrote, Uwe Siemon-Netto had these comments about Saddam and Bonhoeffer:
While granting that Christian pacifism is "principled," the Rev. Gerald R. McDermott, an Episcopal priest and professor of religion and philosophy, made the point that "the use of violence can also be an act of love and justice."

"For example," explained McDermott, "Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a principled pacifist. Yet he said if a Christian saw a truck careening into a group of children, it had to be stopped. Hitler was such a truck, and so is Saddam Hussein, if it's true that he produces weapons of mass destruction wholesale and has al Qaida connections."

Bonhoeffer was martyred by the Nazis because of his role in the German resistance against Hitler. Said McDermott, "Can you imagine how many tens of millions of lives could have been spared had pacifism not prevented Britain from following Winston Churchill's advice to lead an attack against Hitler?"

Thursday, March 13, 2003

One Way? I see the an Anglican cleric is in the news for proclaiming a basic tenet of Christianity -- that Jesus is the only way to heaven. (Not all Anglican clergy are heretics -- indeed there is a "Christian wing" of the Anglican communion.)

But do the Scriptures really teach that Jesus was the only way? Okay, there is that verse in John ("I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."), but, I mean, other than that, is there any textual support for this position, or is this just another doctrine invented by the patriarchy over the years? Paul Hawke has a wonderful essay addressing this very question.

Strongly recommended Lenten reading.
Which OS are you?

Which OS are You?

Which OS are You?

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Rest of the Story. . .
Spurred on by a columnist -- I believe it was E.J. Dionne, I picked up this Presidential address (relevant excerpts):
Exactly one year ago today I said to this Congress: "When the dictators. . . are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part. . . . They—not we—will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack." [Their] scheme of conquest goes back half a century. It was not merely a policy of seeking living room: it was a plan which included the subjugation of all the peoples in [their region].

The act . . . was intended to stun us—to terrify us to such an extent that we would divert our industrial and military strength to . . . our own continental defense.

The plan has failed in its purpose. We have not been stunned. We have not been terrified or confused. This very reassembling of the . . . Congress today is proof of that; for the mood of quiet, grim resolution which here prevails bodes ill for those who conspired and collaborated to murder world peace.

That mood is stronger than any mere desire for revenge. It expresses the will of the American people to make very certain that the world will never so suffer again.

Admittedly, we have been faced with hard choices.

But this adds only to our determination to . . . see to it that the brave people . . . will be rid of . . . imperialism; and will live in freedom, security, and independence.

Powerful and offensive actions must and will be taken in proper time. The consolidation of the United Nations' total war effort against our common enemies is being achieved.

Difficult choices may have to be made in the months to come. We do not shrink from such decisions. We and those united with us will make those decisions with courage and determination.

* * *

They know that victory for us means victory for freedom.

They know that victory for us means victory for the institution of democracy— the ideal of the family, the simple principles of common decency and humanity.

They know that victory for us means victory for religion. And they could not tolerate that. The world is too small to provide adequate "living room" for both [the tyrant] and God.

Our own objectives are clear; the objective of smashing the militarism imposed by war lords upon their enslaved peoples the objective of liberating the subjugated Nations—the objective of establishing and securing freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear everywhere in the world.

We shall not stop short of these objectives—nor shall we be satisfied merely to gain them and then call it a day. I know that I speak for the American people- and I have good reason to believe that I speak also for all the other peoples who fight with us—when I say that this time we are determined not only to win the war, but also to maintain the security of the peace that will follow.

But we know that modern methods of warfare make it a task, not only of shooting and fighting, but an even more urgent one of working and producing.

Victory requires the actual weapons of war and the means of transporting them to a dozen points of combat.

It will not be sufficient for us . . . to produce a slightly superior supply of munitions to that of [the enemy].

[Our] superiority of . . . in munitions and ships must be overwhelming—so overwhelming that the [enemy] can never hope to catch up with it. And so, in order to attain this overwhelming superiority the United States must build planes and tanks and guns and ships to the utmost limit of our national capacity. We have the ability and capacity to produce arms not only for our own forces, but also for the armies, navies, and air forces fighting on our side.

And our overwhelming superiority of armament must be adequate to put weapons of war at the proper time into the hands of those men in the conquered Nations who stand ready to seize the first opportunity to revolt against their . . . oppressors, and against the traitors in their own ranks, known by the already infamous name of "Quislings." And I think that it is a fair prophecy to say that, as we get guns to the patriots in those lands, they too will fire shots heard 'round the world.

This production of ours in the United States must be raised far above present levels, even though it will mean the dislocation of the lives and occupations of millions of our own people. We must raise our sights all along the production line. Let no man say it cannot be done. It must be done—and we have undertaken to do it.

* * *

Our task is hard- our task is unprecedented—and the time is short.

* * *

War costs money. So far, we have hardly even begun to pay for it.

* * *

Only this all-out scale of production will hasten the ultimate all-out victory. Speed will count. Lost ground can always be regained- lost time never. Speed will save lives; speed will save this Nation which is in peril; speed will save our freedom and our civilization—and slowness has never been an American characteristic.

As the United States goes into its full stride, we must always be on guard against misconceptions which will arise, some of them naturally, or which will be planted among us by our enemies.

We must guard against complacency. We must not underrate the enemy. He is powerful and cunning—and cruel and ruthless. He will stop at nothing that gives him a chance to kill and to destroy. He has trained his people to believe that their highest perfection is achieved by waging war. For many years he has prepared for this very conflict- planning, and plotting, and training, arming, and fighting. We have already tasted defeat. We may suffer further setbacks. We must face the fact of a hard war, a long war, a bloody war, a costly war.

We must, on the other hand, guard against defeatism. That has been one of the chief weapons of [our enemy's] propaganda machine—used time and again with deadly results. It will not be used successfully on the American people.

We must guard against divisions among ourselves and among all the other United Nations. We must be particularly vigilant against racial discrimination in any of its ugly forms. [The dictator] will try again to breed mistrust and suspicion between one individual and another, one group and another, one race and another, one Government and another. He will try to use the same technique of falsehood and rumor-mongering with which he divided France from Britain. He is trying to do this with us even now. But he will find a unity of will and purpose against him, which will persevere until the destruction of all his black designs upon the freedom and safety of the people of the world.

We cannot wage this war in a defensive spirit. As our power and our resources are fully mobilized, we shall carry the attack against the enemy—we shall hit him and hit him again wherever and whenever we can reach him.

We must keep him far from our shores, for we intend to bring this battle to him on his own home grounds.

American armed forces must be used at any place in all the world where it seems advisable to engage the forces of the enemy. In some cases these operations will be defensive, in order to protect key positions. In other cases, these operations will be offensive, in order to strike at the common enemy, with a view to his complete encirclement and eventual total defeat.

American armed forces will operate at many points . . .

* * *

American armed forces will help to protect this hemisphere—and also help to protect bases outside this hemisphere, which could be used for an attack on the Americas.

If any of our enemies . . . attempt long-range raids by "suicide" squadrons of bombing planes, they will do so only in the hope of terrorizing our people and disrupting our morale. Our people are not afraid of that. We know that we may have to pay a heavy price for freedom. We will pay this price with a will. Whatever the price, it is a thousand times worth it. No matter what our enemies, in their desperation, may attempt to do to us- we will say, as the people of [that great city] have said, "We can take it." And what's more we can give it back and we will give it back—with compound interest.

When our enemies challenged our country to stand up and fight, they challenged each and every one of us. And each and every one of us has accepted the challenge—for himself and for his Nation.

* * *

We can well say that our men on the fighting fronts have already proved that Americans today are just as rugged and just as tough as any of the heroes whose exploits we celebrate on the Fourth of July.

Many people ask, "When will this war end?" There is only one answer to that. It will end just as soon as we make it end, by our combined efforts, our combined strength, our combined determination to fight through and work through until the end —the end of militarism in [that country of our common foe]. Most certainly we shall not settle for less.

* * *

We are fighting today for security, for progress, and for peace, not only for ourselves but for all men, not only for one generation but for all generations. We are fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils, ancient ills.

Our enemies are guided by brutal cynicism, by unholy contempt for the human race. We are inspired by a faith that goes back through all the years to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis: "God created man in His own image."

We on our side are striving to be true to that divine heritage. We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God. Those on the other side are striving to destroy this deep belief and to create a world in their own image—a world of tyranny and cruelty and serfdom.

That is the conflict that day and night now pervades our lives.

No compromise can end that conflict. There never has been—there never can be—successful compromise between good and evil. Only total victory can reward the champions of tolerance, and decency, and freedom, and faith.

Of course, those of you familiar with your history – the “four freedoms” mentioned above -- already know that this speech was delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was his ninth state of the union address and was delivered on January 6, 1942. For the entire speech, you can read it on-line here.

I was particularly struck by the last few paragraphs – especially these days when there are an irritating group of thumb-suckers whining about George Bush’s “God Talk.” [Should I point out these are the same people who cooed approvingly of Clinton’s use of ministers to provide cover for adultery and perjury? – no, move on.]

I don't think Bush is "using" God like the televangelists do ("God wants you to send me money.") I see Bush doing what FDR did -- seeking to discern what is right and good and to lead the nation in that direction.

More on the four freedoms: a link to a .wav file of FDR.
War. I don't know about war. I pray for peace and I pray for justice. A just peace is the preference and sometimes war is necessary to have a just peace. Many of us are praying for justice and peace.

Monday, March 10, 2003

The Difference in Administrations. Example Number 972: Under Clinton, the government destroys religious compounds. Under Bush it destroys brothels.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Kyrie Eleison
Look around you, can you see?
Times are troubled, people grieve.
See the violence, feel the hardness;
All My people, weep with Me.

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.

Walk among them, I'll go with you.
Reach out to them with My hands.
Suffer with Me, and together,
We will serve them, help them stand.

Forgive us, Father; hear our prayer.
We would walk with You anywhere.
Through Your suff'ring, with forgiveness,
Take Your life into the world.

-Jodi Page Clark
Not quite a full-blown hiatus. Thank you for the nice notes received, both in the comments and in e-mail messages. No I'm not really giving up blogging for Lent. Like both Ben and my mother suggested, I'll stick with something else -- chocolate, although that's really not a big deal for me.

Really, I'm just too far behind on everything and therefore it's more of a discipline. This is something that's fun to do -- sit down and write. Unfortunately, I've got letters written, but not addressed; I've got a package that's addressed but not mailed; the same goes for cards and presents. Looking ahead, I've got a lot to do at work -- some trips -- and a lot to do for Joy's school. I'm home-schooling her for 8th grade.

I'll probably have a stray note here from time-to-time, but it will probably be pretty irregular.

Thanks again for all the nice notes.
Unsafe at any speed. Because my middle daughter, Sarah, age 6, was singing with the children's choir at both services this morning, my wife and I drove separate cars today. On the way home I had my oldest daughter, Joy, and Sarah with me. We stopped at traffic light waiting for the arrow to turn. There was a beautiful motorcycle in the lane next to me, so I picked up a thread that I've mentioned to Joy before: "mmm, Maybe I should get a motorcycle. . ." Both Joy and Sarah objected.
Sarah said: "Grandma says that motorcycles are dangerous."
"Oh, Sarah" I replied, "that's just what Grandma says. How are motorcycles dangerous?"
"If you get one, Mom will kill you."