Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas greeting from a Saudi Arabian Muslim

I received this in my inbox today.

Thought my might enjoy reading about what Jesus means to a Saudi Arabian/American Muslim.

Enjoy!

Friends,
Yesterday December 24, 2011 a friend and a brother sent me his wish for a Merry Christmas and said: “I hope today you have been able in some way to celebrate the life we have in Christ!”. This led me to think about what celebrating the birth of Jesus truly means to me. This early morning, I woke up as usual at 5.30 A.M. to perform my morning prayer and was sitting after prayers thinking and suddenly, I felt a surge of bless flowing through me and the meaning of celebrating Jesus birth became clear in my heart and in my mind. The urge to write to all of you sharing these wonderful feelings I have is out of love to all of you. In fact this whole thing is about love.

When I was sixteen of age, I observed that all we human beings do including love and friendship is originated in a basic instinct to preserve the species. Later, I observed that from there we moved into self glorification of our particular race. This certainly was not very flattering to our human race. But that is truly how I felt. Later, I learned that there must be a creator. My observation to His universe taught me that He deeply cares about me and I found myself surrendering myself to His care. This put me on one side of the fence and put those that did not surrender on the other side. Islam that I learned at that time had something missing. My teachers were mostly Islamocentrics. They taught me that Muslims are the only saved people. All others are doomed. They were self glorifying themselves and those like them. While this was not racial per say, still it added another dimension to my understanding i.e. people self glorify themselves based on many elements of race, tribe, party or even religion.

When I met Jesus I observed that for the first time someone is not motivated in his behavior by ego or egotistical motives. He is teaching that we are all children of God and He loves us all equally. He is teaching not only to love those that you call your people or those that belong to your religion but to love even your enemies. He teaches that if you want to lead you have to serve, if you want to be the first you have to be the last and if you want life you have to give up life. His own life completed what was missing in my own understanding. He is the bridge that connected me to the purpose God created me for. To love Him and to serve others. Jesus is a man that had an exceptional miraculous birth, an exceptional miraculous life and exceptional miraculous death and resurrection by the will of God.

I was sharing this with my daughter minutes after I felt it and she said but dad today might not be his real birthday. I said, If you follow his teachings, you will be celebrating his birth every day.
Blessings,
Safi

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why I don’t support The Call

By Aaron D. Taylor

I was born and raised a Pentecostal/charismatic Christian. While I don’t attend a charismatic church right now, the Pentecostal/charismatic movement remains the backdrop through which I interpret the Christian faith. I believe in speaking in tongues, casting out demons, and healing the sick. I attended one of the flagship Pentecostal Bible schools in the country, and I spent years traveling the world propagating charismatic Christianity. To give you an idea of my immersion in Pentecostal-speak, one time, a friend of mine was explaining to me how an electric device works, and in order to speak my language, he used an analogy comparing how electricity flows through a cable to how the Holy Spirit flows through us as vessels. He knew I’d understand the Holy Spirit part.

Though I treasure my Pentecostal heritage, these days I feel like an outsider looking in, because though it started out as a pacifist movement in the early 20th century, today Pentecostalism (at least in America) is largely known as a religion that spawns extremist movements that trumpet militarism and bigotry.

Chief exhibit: The Call

Founded by Lou Engle, the Call is a movement that regularly holds massive prayer events in stadiums across the country. Engle is part of a network called the New Apostolic Reformation, which believes that God is raising up an end- times army of apostles and prophets to take over earthly governments before Jesus comes back. A few of its prominent leaders are Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, and Mike Bickle. Though the end-times theology of these individuals may vary, the underlying principle that binds them together is the idea that Christians are called to dominate earthly governments and civil society, and that apostles and prophets are supposed to pave the way to make that happen.

While they fashion themselves as champions of racial reconciliation, the reality is the leaders of the Call have traded one form of bigotry for another. They lure African Americans, Latinos, and other racial minority Christians into their program by conducting ceremonies of repentance for past sins, but then they use their expanded platform to demonize Muslims and gay people, and promote an extreme Christian Zionist agenda. While I don’t mean to suggest that they’re being intentionally dishonest, the language, terminology and ideas promoted by leaders of the Call and the New Apostolic Reformation provide for some bizarre ironies.

Irony #1:

I believe the movement’s leaders are sincere when they symbolically repent for the historical sins of slavery and native American genocide, yet the same people teach that Jews and Arabs will always fight (until Jesus comes back) because Jews are sons of Isaac and Arabs are sons of Ishmael. That sounds a lot like the black-people-are-under-the-curse-of-Ham argument that white racists used to justify slavery.

Irony #2: A big part of the prayer agenda of this movement is to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”, but the funny thing is that when they “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”, they’re not actually praying for peace. What they actually mean is “pray that Jerusalem will stay in the hands of Jews, and that if the Jewish majority is ever threatened in a political settlement, pray that the U.S. will side with Israel in a future war.” Peace = War. Doublespeak.


Irony #3. Leaders of the Call routinely cast themselves in the role of the persecuted minority, but they use their “persecuted minority" status to demonize—minorities .

For example, in a conference call leading up to the recent Call Detroit event, “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem made the absurd claim that Obama wants to impose Sharia law on America, implying that the listeners should be afraid of a group of people that represent a fraction of the U.S. population. Another example is even after the secular media raised concerns about the so-called “kill the gays” bill in Uganda, Lou Engle organized a rally in conjunction with key sponsors of the bill. And in the irony of all ironies, in another conference call leading up to the event, state senator Mark Jansen was invited to weigh-in, the same man that voted to attach a “religious freedom exception” to Michigan’s anti-bullying legislation, essentially saying that it’s okay to bully a gay kid—as long as it’s for religious reasons.

It takes a serious persecution complex to side with conspiracy theorists, kill-the-gays legislators, and high school bullies, but such is the nature of extremism. I’m sad that it has come to this. I pray that American Pentecostalism will find it’s way again…before it’s too late.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Would Jesus Occupy Wall Street?

A common technique for opinion writers is to pose a question in the title of their articles, and then spoon-feed the answer to their readers. This isn’t one of those articles. I ask the question of whether Jesus would be on the streets with the Occupy Wall Street protestors because a.) I think it’s a question worth asking b.) I don’t know the answer and c.) I genuinely would like to hear what other people think on the matter.

First, a disclaimer: I realize the question What-Would-Jesus-Do is a controversial one. Not everybody accepts the premise that we can know with certainty what Jesus would do in hypothetical situations today. It’s also true that all of us are unique. The way that Jesus might life his life through one person might be different than how he might live his life through another. Still, as followers of Jesus, I think it helps from time to time to evaluate our actions based on the model of Jesus, and the best way to tackle the question of what would Jesus do is to ask what did Jesus do.

That’s where things get tricky.

An argument for why Jesus might be out on the streets today joining the protesters is that Jesus was an activist for the poor in his day. When Jesus cleansed the temple, he wasn’t merely performing a religious act. The cleansing of the temple was highly political. The temple was the seat of religious, economic, and political power for Jews in Jesus’ day. Jesus was mad as hell at the fleecing of the poor by the moneychangers and the exclusion of the Gentiles (read: economic injustice and institutionalized racism). Had newspapers been around back then, Jesus would have landed on the front page of the Jerusalem Times, and the editorialists would have lambasted him for disorderly conduct. Jesus literally threw people out of the temple, destroyed tables, and prevented people from carrying goods through the temple (Mark 11: 15-16). What would Fox News and CNN call that today? At the very least, they would label him an activist, or probably something worse.

Then there’s Zacchaeus.

First century Jews would have thought of Zacchaeus in much the same way as a lot of people today think of Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers. Zacchaeus was a chief among the tax collectors, and a very rich man. He obtained his wealth by collaborating with the imperialist Roman occupiers at the expense of his own people. He benefited from a system that lavished an exorbitant amount of wealth on a few at the expense of everyone else. And how did Jesus treat him? Jesus never camped outside his office in an effort to shame him. Instead he invites himself over for dinner. By extending his hand of friendship to Zacchaeus, Jesus did the opposite of what the crowd wanted him to do. The crowd couldn’t get over the fact that Jesus was going to eat in the home of “a sinner.” They were so focused on Zacchaeus’s sins; they forgot that they were sinners too.

As I read the blogs and watch the news about what’s happening in New York and around the country, I can’t help but wonder: If Jesus were walking the streets of New York today, would he be a rabble-rouser activist like he was at the temple, or would he walk up to the CEO of Goldman Sachs and give him a hug? I don’t see how a person can be an angry activist and a friend of aristocrats at the same time, but that’s just me. Regardless of where you land on this matter, here’s a sentiment I think we can all agree with:

Just when I think I have Jesus figured out, he throws another curveball.

Monday, September 05, 2011

In memory of Eliot O Brien


Dear blogging buds,

I know it's been a while since I have written. For the record: I've not dropped off the planet. Just haven't felt very inspired to write. Call it a slump if you will. Sometimes words escape me, other times they flow off the fingers so easily I end up posting two or three blogs a week. It comes and goes.

Then other times, something very important happens in your life that you can't help but write about, because to not do so just wouldn't be right. Two weeks ago, one of those somethings happened. My father-in-law, Eliot O Brien died suddenly of a heart attack.

Anyone that knew Eliot would know that he was such a powerful, exuberant presence that now that he's no longer with us, it makes the hole that much bigger. Eliot was one of those people that every time he walked into a room, you knew he was in the room. At any given moment with Eliot in the room, you may hear him singing his favorite praise song (which took a lot of guts, because he couldn't sing and he knew it) or he may startle you with a sudden "Hallelujah!" or "Praise the Lord!"

Eliot and I loved to debate politics and world affairs. No matter how far apart on the spectrum we were, we always found something to agree on, or ended with a truce. Eliot was a very opinionated man, but he also knew how to disagree agreeably.

Not only was Eliot a good father to my wife Rhiannon and her brother Cody, he was also an excellent employer. Eliot used to own the Daily Times, which is the local paper here in Farmington, New Mexico. (I have to specify the "New Mexico" part for all of my Missouri friends). Since his passing, a good number of Eliot's former employees have spoken publicly and privately about what a great boss he was, and how he was always there to lend a helping hand in their hour of need. How many people out there can say, "My boss cares about me." From a Biblical perspective, how a person treats his or her employees says a lot about their relationship with God.

My son Isaac adored him, always called him "Papa." Eliot loved his grandchildren. I'm so glad that Eliot got to spend time with our two children, Isaac and Christian, before he passed. Maybe that's why God had us move to Farmington, so that we could finally get the family that we always wanted, and so that Eliot could see his grandchildren before passing. Rhiannon and I struggled for years to have children...until we moved to Farmington.

Now that Eliot has passed, another chapter in our lives is closing. Unless a compelling reason leads us to choose otherwise, next year Rhiannon and I are planning to move to Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque. I'll continue to travel, write books, teach and preach the gospel, work for peace, or whatever else I feel the Lord nudging me to do. Rhiannon will be close to her brother Cody and his wife Jasmin and their son Cole. They'll be a great help to her when I'm off somewhere doing who knows what. Our boys will look forward to the two to three times a year where we'll visit St. Louis so that they can see their cousins, their uncles, and their grandparents. We'll be a happy family. Just like Eliot would have wanted.

Do me a favor.

Take the time today or tomorrow to hug a loved one.

Let them know how much you appreciate them.

You don't know how much longer they'll be with you.

While there is still time,

Aaron

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why I didn't attend Governor Perry's prayer rally

Below is an article I helped write for author Carl Medearis.

For the past 20 years, I've had the privilege of helping lead a delegation from the Middle East to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that gathers politicians and people of influence from around the world over several days. It's one of the few prayer events where you're as likely to see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as you are to see Sam Brownback or Sarah Palin. It's my favorite week of the year. It's hard to put into words how inspiring it is to see Democrats and Republicans, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus -- and probably a few non-religious types thrown in the mix -- gathering together to pray and talk about faith. What's even more remarkable is the one person that every politician or religious leader agrees on: Jesus. From the opening prayer to the closing ceremony, and every workshop and roundtable discussion in between, the life and teachings of Jesus take center stage. As a follower of Jesus who believes in prayer, this is a prayer event I can sign on to.

Governor Perry's prayer rally last Saturday....

Not so much.

For the rest of the article: Click here!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mr. Y speaks out

It's funny the things that you remember. I can remember one time when I was a teenager watching an episode of the Montel Williams show. I don't remember the topic, or exactly how he said it, but I do remember Montel criticizing the U.S. government for spending too much money on military defense and not enough on domestic needs. I can remember thinking to myself, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." In the world that I knew, the idea of slashing military spending was absolutely, totally, utterly UNTHINKABLE! I personally had never met anyone who thought that way, so I assumed that anyone who would suggest such a thing had to be either a:) naive b:) stupid c:) a tree-hugger or d:) unAmerican.

That was then.

I don't know if it's because I changed or because America has changed (or both), but for years it seemed like the only ones who suggested slashing military spending were groups that few Americans could identify with: people like hippies, pacifists, environmental and civil rights activists, and conspiracy theorists. Today, the idea that a significant portion of the nation's economic woes is due to wasteful Pentagon spending can be found both on the left and on the right ends of the political spectrum. It can also be found in the Pentagon.

Meet Mr. Y

A few months ago, Mr. Y wrote an article suggesting that America needs to rethink the way it views itself in relation to the world. Rather than trying to dominate and control the world through force, America needs to lead through economic strength and credible influence. Rather than seeing the world through the lens of threats, we should see the world through the lens of opportunity. As the nations of the world become more interdependent in their economies, competition should be viewed not as a zero-sum game, but as a means for nations to mutually advance their interests.

Mr. Y goes on to argue that the real source of America's national power is in its youth, its economy, and its infrastructure, and that sadly, America has underinvested in these priorities. Perhaps the most provocative suggestion by Mr. Y is that the Cold War policy of containment, which relied on massive military build-ups and quasi-imperialistic interventions, is outdated. Rather than thinking about "national security", we should be thinking about "national prosperity and security." Mr. Y suggests that America should place its priorities on development, diplomacy, and defense--in that order.

Mr. Y is a pseudonym for two people: Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy and Colonel Mark Mykelby of the U.S. Marines. Both men are top-ranking members of Admiral Mike Mullen's team, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Despite the fact that Capitol Hill is embroiled in a controversy over whether the U.S. should either pay its bills or plunge the world into an economic depression, on July 8th, the House passed a staggering $649 billion defense spending bill. Although news like this can be discouraging, it's good to know that in the highest echelons of the Pentagon, there are some people saying enough is enough.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Memo to Mideast Quartet: The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Train Derailed Ages Ago

It's nice to see someone in the "lame stream media" finally getting it right on the Israel/Palestine issue.

Netanyahu has built his career around resisting the Oslo accords. It's Netanyahu, not the Palestinians, that refuses to negotiate.


Memo to Mideast Quartet: The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Train Derailed Ages Ago

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I like Tamar




I like Tamar.

Do you know her story?

Let me tell it to you briefly.

Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob. He marries a Canaanite woman who bears him two sons: Er and Onan. Judah decides to take a wife for his son,her name is Tamar. Tamar's husband Er was a worthless POS (not exactly how the Bible puts it, but you get the picture) so God kills him. Judah says to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife and marry her, and raise up an heir for your brother." In ancient Israel, if a man died without male heirs, the wife had to sleep with his brothers to produce a male heir. Icky.

But Onan had another idea. Because Onan knew that the heir wouldn't be his, he decides to go "into" his brother's wife, but emits on the ground at the last minute. Talk about the ultimate SCREW YOU!

God didn't like that either, so He kills Onan.

Tamar is now in an awful situation. Judah sends Tamar back to her father (major disgrace by the way) and tells her to wait for his other son Shelah to grow up, and then he'll give her to him as his wife. So Tamar waited....and waited....and waited. Still no Shelah. Judah must have seen Tamar as a bad omen, since guys that sleep with her seem to get struck dead, so he balks on his promise. Now it looks like Tamar is going to be in a perpetual state of disgrace for the rest of her life. No husband. No heirs. No future.

This is where the story gets really good.

Tamar decides to take matters into her own hands.....by dressing up as a prostitute and seducing Judah to have sex with her. Judah decides to pay for Tamar's "services" with a young goat, though he doesn't have one with him, so Tamar asks for his signet, his cord, and the staff in his hand as pledge. Judah has no idea that it's Tamar, so when he finds out that his (ex) daughter-in-law is pregnant through harlotry, he wants to burn her at the stake.....until Tamar pulls out the signet, the cord, and the staff and says, "Hm....I wonder who these belong to?"

Judah realizes that the "harlot" was Tamar, and acknowledges that Tamar was more righteous than him, since he had not given Shelah to her as her husband.

Tamar conceives of twins. One of the twins, Perez, becomes the great, great, great, great....ect....grandfather of Jesus the Messiah.

There's a lot in this story, but I want to focus on the fact that Tamar started out with an awful husband. Er was, as the Bible puts it "wicked." Then one by one, every other man in her life "screws her" both literally and figuratively. Tamar finds herself disgraced and without a future...so she decides to take matters into her own hands. She could have chosen the path of revenge, but instead she decided to outsmart the man that had wronged her, and was vindicated in the end.

It's interesting that the Bible reflects (notice I said reflect, not prescribe. Big difference!) a patriarchal structure that favors men, yet is filled with stories of women outsmarting the men.

So all you ladies that have been used and abused, is there a way you can outsmart the men who have harmed you, without repaying them evil in return?

Tamar did it.

So can you.

And they say the Bible is irrelevant.....

Tamar's story is found in Genesis chapter 38. You can read the full story here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The hidden message of Job

Ever feel like your life is falling apart? I do sometimes, until I go to Starbucks and sip my troubles away with a Carmel Mocha Frappuccino lite. Did I just admit that?

Or I read the Book of Job.

Job's story is the ultimate one-upper. Ever been one-upped? You tell a sad story, and someone has a sadder story. Anyways, unless you've lost all of your children, all of your possessions, and boils all over your body, you've probably been one-upped by Job. Which I'm thinking is a good thing. If you feel like you are indeed a modern-day Job, as the expression goes, the good news is Job's story ends well. In the end, God gives him twice as much as he had before. So take heart.

But there is a hidden message in Job I'd like to explore. There are several passages that bring the point out, but here's one of my favorites:

"Oh earth, do not cover my blood, and let my cry have no resting place! Surely even now my witness is in heaven, and my evidence is on high. My friends scorn me, my eyes pour out tears to God. Oh that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor. For when a few years are finished, I shall go the way of no return" (italics emphasis mine).

Job had no one to plead for him with God. Little Job against big God. God wins. Throughout the Book of Job we hear him crying out for an advocate. Somebody to stand between him and the one who held his fate in his hands.

The good news is: Today we have such an advocate, his name is Jesus! (I John 2:1)

Imagine being tried for a crime with no one to represent you. That's how Job felt. We know in hindsight that God wasn't punishing Job for his sins, but Job didn't know that. All he "knew" was that God was mad at him, and the case against him was rigged.

The New Testament calls Jesus our mediator and our advocate.

The hidden message of the Book of Job is how miserable life can be feeling like you have no one to represent you before the judge of all the earth.

Thank God (and Jesus) we don't have to feel that way anymore!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Workers share of income, record low

This caught my attention.

As if we needed another reminder: the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Workers are getting screwed. Here's the proof.

Where are the prophets?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Miracle shoes?

A funny thing happened on Easter Sunday. Our son Isaac has this annoying habit of taking his shoes off and throwing them while he's in the car. Usually the shoes end up on the floor in front of the car seat, but not always. On Easter Sunday my wife and I invited my father in law to come to our church. To give you an idea of the kind of faith my father in law has, often when my wife and I are driving a long distance, like to Albuquerque and back, he'll pray that the Spirit of God translates us directly to our location so that we won't have to drive that far....and he actually believes it'll happen. It never has, but he still prays it regularly. My father in law is the kind of person that wakes up every morning and asks the Holy Spirit what he should wear and where he should go out to eat for lunch that day. It's the "crazy" kind of faith that to the uninitiated looks a lot like lunacy.

Back to the story: Isaac threw his shoe. My wife and I looked all over the car for it. I mean all over. For 10-15 minutes. We finally took Isaac inside with only one shoe (sort of a punishment, but he didn't care). Then Eliot (my father in law) continued to look for the shoe for about another 20 minutes before he finally gave up and came inside. I mean a full twenty minutes!

Church is now over. My wife and I look for about another 10 minutes. Eliot continues to look. Eliot gets in his car. All of the sudden I notice that Isaac's shoe is sitting right next to the car seat. The same place that we had looked over and over and over...and it wasn't there. I said something to the effect of "Oh my! The shoe just appeared out of nowhere!" and Eliot says to me, "I prayed that if the shoe is in the car, that God would put it in plain sight, and if the shoe is not in the car, that God would put it in the car."

Strange, isn't it?

I'm fully aware that there's probably a natural explanation for this (though I can't think of a credible one off the bat). But still, if God exists (as I believe He does) then why would it be so unbelievable that He could make a shoe appear out of nowhere? And why should brainy intellectual types like me (okay...wannabe brainy intellectual...are you happy?) disregard what seems to be the "crazy" kind of faith that my father in law seems to display every day? If God exists (again, I believe He does) then where's the line between normal faith and crazy faith?

Why am I asking this question? Because the following week, the exact same thing happened. Same amount of time spent looking for the shoe. Same "crazy" prayer. Same shoe seemingly appearing out of nowhere and put right in front of our eyes.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

Even so, could God be teaching me something?

Am I listening?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A response to my Sojourners article

I didn't expect anyone to actually try to answer the questions I raised in my article "I know that Jesus is the answer, but what does that mean?" .which also appeared on Sojourners...but someone did.

Heidi from Evangelicals for Social Action wrote an excellent response:

Read it here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I know that Jesus is the answer, but what does that mean?



Is the gospel about Jesus rescuing us from hell and transporting us to heaven… or is it about Jesus creating a community to work with him in the renewal of creation? Here in America, questions like this can determine whether you think of yourself as emergent (or not), whether you like Sojourners (or not) or whether you prefer Fox News or CNN. It’s a question that Christians can discuss with their friends over a cappuccino at Starbucks. We know that Jesus is the answer, but what does that actually mean? Let me tell you about a group of people where the answer to this question can spell the difference between hope and misery: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Lebanon and Jordan as part of a delegation of authors, professors, and businessmen. Originally we were supposed to meet with a major world leader, but that didn’t pan out, so we ended up spending our time meeting with political leaders, democracy activists, Christian workers, and Insider Muslims (which are Muslims that follow Jesus within the context of Islam—another story for another day). One day we spent a morning at a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. It wasn’t at all like I expected.

Like many people, when the words “Palestinian refugee camp” came to mind, I pictured makeshift tents strewn on an open field somewhere, probably in the middle of a valley or a desert. The Palestinian camp in Beirut is more like a city within a city, a series of autonomous heavily guarded neighborhood blocks in which the Lebanese police are not allowed to enter. The partially bombed-out buildings betray evidence of previous wars and invasions, the streets are narrow and filthy, and walking on the narrow and filthy streets between the partially bombed-out buildings you can look up and see tangles of wires connecting here, there, and everywhere; evidence of people doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

Most Palestinians refugees in Lebanon live and die in the camps, and it’s been that way for over 60 years. Unlike Jordan, where the Palestinian refugees were granted citizenship and integrated into the fabric of society, Palestinians in Lebanon are permanent non-citizens; living in a land that’s not their own while longing to return to a land that most of them have never been. What this means in practical day to day reality is that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon face a number of prohibitions against working, owning land, or building homes outside the camps. The ones that are able to find work outside the camps often have to do so under the table. The U.N. agency tasked with overseeing the refugee population (UNRWA) fulfills a much- needed role, but can only employ a fraction of the refugee population. The situation is so grave that a group of British researchers tested the mental development of a group of children by lining them up and throwing soccer balls at them. To their shock and horror, instead of the children picking up the balls and throwing them back, they let the balls fall to the ground without picking them back up, showing not only a lack of mental development, but a perpetual state of hopelessness. To them, the camp is a prison which they have little hope of escaping.

Which brings me back to my original question: I know that Jesus is the answer, but what exactly does that mean?

The wannabee Anabaptist side of me says that the solution to all of the world’s problems lies not in politics but in the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God isn’t necessarily about solving the world’s problems, but creating an alternative community that eschews earthly power structures in preference for servant hood and simple living. Given the tendency of Jesus to lampoon the Herods and the Caesars of his day, coupled with his ability to transcend political ideologies by inviting tax collectors and zealots to serve on his apostolic team, and let’s not forget the Apostle Paul telling the slaves “If you can be free, great! But if you can’t, don’t worry too much about it” (my paraphrase of I Corinthians 7:21), I find a lot of justification for this position.

It’s surprisingly similar to what the Pentecostal side of me would say, “No matter how crappy life is on earth, hell is worse and heaven is better, so let’s focus on the issues that really matter….eternal issues, not temporary issues which are passing away.” Back in the days of slavery in America, the message of patiently submitting to suffering in hope of an eternal reward helped many African Americans get through their miserable days, knowing that there’s a sweet by and by in the sky gave them a peace and a hope that transcended their circumstances. All good and wonderful, except when you factor in the infamous Uncle Tom and Martin Luther King’s soul-stirring appeal in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, it kind of makes you wonder if Christianity’s critics, the ones who claim that Christianity is a ploy of the ruling classes to keep the lower classes in servitude and submission….may have a point after all.

Here’s the problem. How can I credibly say that “Jesus is the answer” if “Jesus is the answer” means that I no longer advocate for political solutions to problems that can only be solved….by a political solution? For the plight of Palestinian refugees to change for the better, one of three things has to happen. Either Lebanon grants them citizenship, the Palestinians get a state of their own, or Israel grants them the right of return. The sectarian system in Lebanese politics makes option one very difficult, and the prospect of Israel making peace with Palestinians seems like a pipe dream. Still, anything less than one of these three options and the plight of Palestinians in Lebanon remains miserable and hopeless no matter how much individual charity is directed their way.

So why am I asking this question? I may not come up with any definitive answers, but here’s what I’m hoping will happen. I hope that some will read this article and take the time to visit, make friends, pray for and advocate for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. If more people learn about the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and decide to do something about it, however big or small, then maybe the question is worth asking after all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do Muslims Who Follow Jesus Have to Stop Being Muslims?

My friend Pastor Tim O'Brien sent this to me today. I think it's worth reading:


For a long while I have wrestled with the question of whether a Muslim can be a worshipper of Jesus and remain culturally a Muslim. The question is also being considered by Christian leaders and missionaries the world over. Let me explain why.

When a Muslim man in a predominantly Muslim society decides to serve Jesus as Lord, he is typically ostracized from his family and community. Often these converts are collected by missionaries into Christian communities made up of other converts from
Islam. The only problem is that they can no longer bear fruit within their original sphere of influence.

To be a follower of Jesus and remain culturally a Muslim seems to be a viable option. After all, Islam is not just a religion,
but a culture with many redeeming values. For instance, Muslims mostly abstain from alcohol and pornography, abhor abortion, and are family oriented.

One Muslim man from Thailand decided to follow Jesus. He renounced his Muslim roots and left his family. Later, however,
according to him, the Holy Spirit convicted him and he went back and apologized to his family.

Now he worships Jesus as a Muslim. While he ministers to his Muslim friends he shares that the prophet Mohammad encouraged the reading of the Gospels. This is his open door to conduct Bible studies with interested Muslims.

The continuing story of this man is that thousands of Muslims have accepted Jesus this way. This is a movement that we will possibly be hearing about in the news in the days to come. From this movement and other efforts across the world, I believe some clear answers for the Muslim world will come to light.

One of the issues, of course, is how does one reconcile some of the things the Qur’an has to say with worshipping Jesus as God. At some points the Qur’an is helpful, standing by the virgin birth and sinless life of Jesus, calling Jesus savior, Word, and Spirit. At other points it can confuse the issues and even be all out contradictory to the Bible.

Some of those contradictions, however, are not the kind that would impact the
salvation message. We have to discern what’s really important. For instance, when I share with Muslims, I don’t make it a point to tell them that I don’t believe Mohammed was a prophet. What’s the point?

Lastly, the title Christian is at issue. Is it OK to worship Jesus and not call yourself a Christian? For some this is a point of contention, but consider some things. The earliest disciples of Jesus did not call themselves Christians. They were called Christians by others. In fact, the word “Christian” only appears in the Bible 3 times. “Christian” was a derogatory term meaning “little messiahs” or “little
christs.”

Peter says, “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” In this context, a proper stance for
a Muslim believer might be, “I call myself a Muslim who worships Jesus, but if you call me a Christian, I will not be ashamed.” Some may disagree, but remember that we are not trying to get people to join our religion, we are inviting every
nation, tribe and tongue to make Jesus Lord.


By Tim O'Brien
Rock of Ages Church
Prepared for Daily Guide 19 May 06 edition

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Why are Palestinian Christians leaving the West Bank?

A friend of mine pointed this out on his Face Book page today.

45.9% of Americans blame Muslims for the Christian immigration out of the Holy Land, while only 7.4% of Americans cite Israeli restrictions as contributing to Arab Christian immigration. However, when Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem were asked about the primary cause for Christian immigration out of the area, 78% cited Israeli restrictions as their reason for leaving.


The statistic is from an article entitled Challenging the Evangelical Bias Against Palestinians.

Why is there such a disconnect between why Americans, and be extension American Christians, think that Palestinian Christians are leaving the West Bank and the actual reasons cited by the Palestinian Christians themselves?

Simple: The real reason why Palestinian Christians are leaving is Israeli restrictions (like home demolitions, land seizures, road blocks, checkpoints, walls that cut through private property and isolate people from their families.....) and any time the word "Israel" is mentioned as inflicting any kind of pain on Christians, it challenges a cherished belief system that goes something like this:

Jews and Christians = good, pure, innocent, God's people

Muslims = evil, unclean, guilty, persecutors of God's people

Because this narrative is so ingrained in us, the "us" vs. "them" mentality with "us" always being the embodiment of pure good and "them" always being the embodiment of pure evil, it's hard for us to see it any other way. Further complicating the problem is the fact that for many Christians in America, the only information they have about the Muslim world is what they read in the Voice of the Martyrs magazine. No wonder it's hard to see Muslims as anything else but the evil persecutor of Christians! You'll never read about Christian militias that have massacred Muslims in places like Nigeria, Lebanon, the Philippines, and Indonesia in a magazine dedicated to highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians.

I'm not saying that a ministry like Voice of the Martyrs is wrong for highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians. I've been doing that for years on my blog. What I am saying is that if all the average Christian knows about the Muslim world is what they read about in the magazine or newsletter of their favorite ministry highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians, , it leads to a distorted, unbalanced picture. We forget that Christian fundamentalism, and, yes, Jewish fundamentalism can be just as oppressive as Islamic fundamentalism.

Jesus had it right when he said, "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

We ignore his teachings at our peril.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Doing well...

I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what to write. I'd like to post a little more often than I have been, but frankly, I'm too tired to come up with anything deep right now. My son Christian still wakes up about 2-4 times a night, and despite all the advice we get (mostly from people that have read the book Babywise) I'm convinced there's not a lot we can do about it. His doctor told us that if he's not sleeping through the night by now (around 15 months) he probably won't sleep through the night till he's 3 or 4. . So we've got about another year and a half to two years to go. Hurray! Christian also has food sensory issues, which makes eating really difficult for him. He's in therapy every week for that.

Isaac's also doing well. Still a hand full, but he's at that age where every new word or phrase he learns delights us. His favorite words are "Thank you" "You're welcome" "eat" and "yucky" Rhiannon and I also heard him say "he's sleeping" today when Christian was asleep in his car seat. Isaac's new favorite hobby is blowing spit in my face with his tongue...and laughing hysterically. It's really annoying, but also kind of cute. Been watching a video series called Circle of Security. It's about being attentive to your children. It's made me want to pay attention to my kids as much as possible. Probably not a bad idea.

Well, that's all for now.

Off to the Middle East this week....

Some time after I get back, I want to write a review of Miroslav Volf's Allah: A Christian Response and Mark Braverman's Fatal Embrace. Two very important books in the field of Muslim/Christian/Jewish relations, definitely worth your time and mine.

Blessings!

Aaron

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Excellent article on Muslim-Christian relations in post-Mubarak Egypt

I had been looking for some information on what's happening in the area of Muslim-Christian relations in post-Mubarak Egypt. Lo and behold I got this in my e-mail box today from Paul Gordon Chandler.

Read it here:

Quick takeaway:

The U.S. corporate-media-induced-fear of a radical Islamic takeover of Egypt is largely unfounded...though there are still challenges ahead.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Was the woman at the well promiscuous?


Over the past several months, I've been working on a book that I've been "ghost-writing" for an up and coming Christian author. In one of the chapters, I wanted to make the point that Jesus was elusive about his identity with people, "unless of course, you were a promiscuous Samaritan woman." Point being that Jesus had a funny habit of preferring the sinful outcast over and against the rich, the powerful, and the pious. I think the point is still valid, but I'm wondering if I've overstated my case by calling the woman at the well a "promiscuous Samaritan woman." Do we really know that she was promiscuous? Most authors and preachers I know assume that she was, but I recently read an article entitled Misogyny, Moralism, and the Woman at the well that has challenged that assumption.

So what do you think?

Jesus said to the woman, "You've had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband."

What makes us think she was promiscuous?

Jesus said she's had five husbands, not five lovers.

And the fact that she was with a man that was not her husband? As the author of the article points out, she could have been in a Levirate marriage, which was an arrangement that if a woman's husband died without a male heir, she was obligated to "marry" her husband's brother to produce a male heir. So the husband's brother was sort of like a "husband", but not really.

The author's point is that too often we read the Bible through misogynistic glasses, and sometimes those misogynistic glasses lead us to read passages with moralistic assumptions that miss the point. His point could very well be true, but the point that I took away from the article was much more mundane: How often am I careless about my assumptions period? How often do I read something into the Scriptures that's simply not there?

So what do you think? Was the woman at the well promiscuous, as tradition says? Or could the point of the story be that Jesus gives dignity to people despite their low social status? What are the spiritual truths of the story that don't depend on the interpretation that the woman at the well was promiscuous? Might the story be more meaningful without that assumption?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

You can read the story of the woman at the well here:

Thank you for the help.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mr. President, will you please count the cost?

I'm glad I'm not the president right now. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the commander and chief of the most powerful military in the world and have to grapple with a question as serious as "Should I use my power to establish a No-Fly zone over Libya?" Answer no to the question and half the world accuses you of indifference. Answer yes to the question and the other half will eventually get around to calling you an imperialist. The question of if or when it's ever appropriate to use violence to rescue the innocent is a troubling one. It's the kind of moral dilemma that doesn't lend itself to easy answers. While I don't think that the Bible should be read as if it were a public policy manual, I do think it contains nuggets of wisdom that can guide us through our moral dilemmas, and sometimes those nuggets can be found in the most unlikely places: places like the Old Testament.

Rewind: Elisha is sick and ready to die. Joash is the king of Israel. The Syrian army is a growing threat to Israel's security. Elisha tells Joash to take a bow and some arrows, open a window, and shoot, the arrows representing Elisha's command to strike the Syrians at Aphek until he destroys them. Elisha then tells Joash to take the arrows and strike the ground. Joash strikes the ground three times...and Elisha is one ticked-off prophet. Why? Because according to Elisha, Joash should have struck five or six times; had he done that, then Joash would have been able to strike Syria until he destroyed it. From Elisha's perspective, if you're going to use force against an enemy, you should go all the way, not part of the way. The same holds true for Moses and Joshua, who at times annihilated their enemies, sparing not even the women and the children, and for Samuel who had a thing or two to say to Saul for sparing King Agag. All of these men operated under the principle that if you're going to use force against an enemy, you have to see it through; otherwise the enemy may come back to bite you.

Back to the present: President Obama and the American people have a decision to make. We can choose the path of violence and fly our fighter jets over Libyan soil, but if we do that, are we prepared to go all the way? What happens if our actions provoke an even more violent response from Gadaffi and he goes on an even greater killing spree than what he's currently doing? Are we prepared to take it to the next level and invade another Muslim nation? Can we afford to do that while we're gutting our social safety net at home to pay for our occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Even Jesus, the famous rabbi that said "Love your enemies" said if a king decides to go to war against another king, he should consider whether or not he has the resources to win (Luke 14:31). In other words, he (or she) should count the cost.

Mr. President, I wish I had an easy answer for you. I know there are a lot of people pushing you for a more robust response to the situation in Libya. That has to weigh on you. The only thing I can come up with is if you're going to do it, then you have to commit to it...or don't do it at all. Remember that violence almost always has unintended consequences.

Will you please count the cost?

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Mexico's Latina Republican Governor


I've been living in New Mexico for a little over two years now. When I lived in Missouri I never followed local politics very much. Here it's hard not to. The county where I currently live, San Juan County, is probably one of the most conservative counties in the entire nation, and my father in law, a staunch conservative himself, used to own the local newspaper. Needless to say, this makes for some very interesting table talk!

Full disclosure, I voted for Governor Martinez this last election (who, by the way, is the nation's first Latina Governor). The choice was between Susana Martinez, a Republican and Dianne Denish, a Democrat. I literally went online and read for hours everything I could about the two candidates to make my decision. They both seemed to be highly qualified, but in the end I was persuaded by the argument that Martinez would end the "pay to play" politics associated (right or wrong) with the previous administration. I fully realize that I and the people of New Mexico could have been duped by the newspapers, which is why if I do vote in elections (and that's a big if) I always take my vote with a grain of salt.

I don't believe that ministers of the gospel should endorse candidates, but that doesn't mean that we can't give "honor to whom honor is due" from time to time. So while I hope that I'm not violating my own principles here, let me give you a few reasons why I like our Republican Governor Susana Martinez.

1. Governor Martinez has recused herself from the state investment board, a crucial step in ending "pay to play" politics.

2. When Governor Martinez was criticized for ordering the state police to report undocumented workers arrested for violent crimes to the federal immigration authorities, Governor Martinez went on a P.R. campaign encouraging New Mexico's women to report domestic abuse, assuring them that they need not fear the immigration police. That tells me that, whether you agree with her decision or not, the governor is at least trying to do the right thing to protect New Mexico citizens.

3. While the Governor is indeed, a fiscal conservative, Martinez has made it clear that education and health care should not be on the chopping block in order to balance the state's budget. In a strange role reversal, she's actually fighting the democrats to include more funding for these priorities in her proposed 2012 budget.

I'll be honest, I've been pretty disgusted with the callousness of our national discourse, how so many politicians, including Democrats, seem all too eager to balance state and federal budgets on the backs of the poor. It seems to me that New Mexico's newest Republican Governor may represent a more compassionate conservativism. This doesn't meant that I agree with all of Governor Martinez's political positions. What it does mean is that sometimes I have to look inside my heart and ask the Lord to forgive me for a certain type of prejudice that, if I'm not careful, can be just as corrupting as any other type of prejudice.

Political prejudice.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Towards a healthy nationalism


I watched Invictus for the second time last weekend. The movie depicts the newly-elected South African president Nelson Mandela and his struggle to rally the nation around the mostly white national Rugby team, which at the time was a symbol of Apartheid for many black South Africans. Very few of Mandela's friends and allies agreed with his decision to lend his moral support to the national Rugby team, but like all good leaders, Mandela stood firm. Because of Mandela's moral courage, a divided nation became united. In one of the greatest snapshots of grace this side of heaven, the film depicts blacks and white standing side by side to sing South Africa's national anthem at the World Cup.

If you've read my book Alone with a Jihadist, you'll know that I'm a pretty fierce critic of nationalism, especially when nationalism mixes with religion. When we wrap Jesus in an American flag and ask him to bless our bombs, we may be acting like good Americans, but we're not acting like very good Christians. For my Anabaptist, Sojourners- loving, progressive evangelical friends, I'm guessing that's pretty much old news. No nation embodies Kingdom values because the Kingdom of God is entirely other-wordly, as Jesus, our enemy-loving, foot-washing Savior teaches us. Now that we've established that, perhaps we should be asking new questions now, like can nationalism ever be a good thing?

One of the reasons why democracy hasn't worked out so well in many sub-Saharan African nations is because many people prefer tribalism over nationalism. An African president gets elected and he looks out mostly for the interests of his tribe, not the interests of the nation as a whole, at least that's the way the other tribes almost always see it. The same is true for religion. As Eliza Griswold points out in her book The Tenth Parallel, many nations on the 10th degree of what missiologists call the 10/40 Window are evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. When these nations elect their political leaders, the leader is almost always, rightly or wrongly, viewed as looking out for the interests of his or her religious group. The unfortunate consequence is that democracy is viewed as a way to enrich a select few from a dominant tribe or religion, while leaving the rest of the people to squabble over the remaining crumbs. Perhaps a healthy dose of nationalism could be the cure?

Take what's happening in Egypt as an example. As Reza Aslan has pointed out in a recent post, many Egyptian youth are countering the Muslim Brotherhood chant "Islam is the solution" with "Christians and Muslims, we are all Egyptians." When love of nation surpasses religious tribalism, that to me is a healthy nationalism.

Which brings me to my next question. If nationalism can sometimes be a good thing (especially when it overrides woes like tribalism and racism), what are some ways that followers of Jesus can direct nationalism towards positive ends? Could a healthy nationalism be what it takes to convince U.S. businesses sitting on 2 trillion dollars of cash to hire American workers rather than shipping those same jobs overseas? Or what if the movement to abolish nuclear weapons received a groundswell of support based on the idea that "We're Americans. We should be the moral leaders of the world." My mind is spinning here: torture, comprehensive immigration reform, racial inequities. Could nationalism done right affect the moral outcomes of these debates? If so. How?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Violence in Egypt forces Christians to pray in their homes

Pastor George, a church pastor who partners with Open Doors in Egypt, had just returned home from a prayer meeting in the house of a believer shares, “We cannot go to the church. In every street is a mosque, where Muslims can go to, but there are few churches and most people feel unsafe.” As a result of the danger of going to churches, Christians are coming together in houses for praying for their country." We see that the uproar could lead to a better Egypt and that things could turn out for good, but we do not know yet. The people are afraid for the future, since this is an extremely critical time. But we trust in God, and we hope and pray for a new Egypt, with democracy and freedom for Christians.”

Pastor George adds, “The situation on the streets is difficult. We hear gunshots and people are killed on the streets. We also are having problems with the provision of our food. The infrastructure in the country is under pressure.” According to Pastor George the work of his church in Egypt, in partnership with Open Doors, has come to a standstill. “Our co-workers and other volunteers cannot go to their ministries or work anymore,” says George. “Road blocks, lack of public transportation and curfew are all hindering this. Banks have been already closed for a week and the ATMs are empty. Almost everything in Egypt runs by cash money, and that is finished for almost all Egyptians.”

The current crisis in Egypt is challenging for Christians and they are calling on the church in the West to unite in prayer with them for the future of their country. Dr. Carl Moeller, president/CEO of Open Doors USA says, “The events of recent days show that while the majority of Egyptians support the existence of the Coptic church, many more Muslim Egyptians, while not militant, are religiously opposed to those who convert from Islam to Christianity. Muslim Background Believers continue to face widespread hostility simply for wanting to exercise religious freedom and change their religion from Islam to Christianity.

“It is also causing many to consider the consequences of a potentially more radical Muslim government replacing the current regime. While the situation is still very unclear, the potential for any power vacuum to be filled with extremist political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood is very real and could have grave consequences,” says Moeller. “This is a time for the entire body of Christ to pray for the church in Egypt and the entire region. It is also a time for all peoples of every religion to come together and work for true freedom, democracy and peace.”

Egypt is ranked No. 19 on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. On New Year’s Day a suicide bomber killed 21 Christians and injured hundreds of others in front of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria. Last month an Open Doors team visited Egypt where a Coptic Christian brother shared this message.

The devil said to Jesus, “I killed 21 of your people” (Referring to the bombing of the Coptic church in Alexandria). Jesus replied, “You did not kill 21. You sent them to Me and you mobilized the church to pray.”

Father we unite today in prayer asking for a peaceful end to the demonstrations with no more casualties; protect your flock and shield them from injury and further bloodshed. Also we ask that You richly provide them with provisions of food and resources so that Your work can continue in Egypt unhindered. We know that some demonstrators want to cause harm to the country and Christians, and have hidden agendas. We pray that their schemes will be thwarted and that their intentions will be exposed. And, if there is a change of power in the government we ask that it ultimately results in complete freedom of religion for Christians and other minorities. Father You are sovereign and in control of all the details. We give thanks in advance for being “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Amen.

If this story has touched you, please share your thoughts with us below:

Source: Open Doors

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Mohammed the boat captain thinks


I love going to the gym in the mornings. It gives me a chance to watch the news. It also gives me a chance to compare the differences between the major networks and how they cover the events of the day. Last Friday as I was working out on the treadmill, I caught a glimpse of CNN's analysis of what's happening in Egypt. The CNN storyline emphasized the precarious situation that President Obama faces, and the difficulty of navigating through the thorny issue of demonstrating loyalty to a key ally on the one hand and protecting the image of the U.S. as a promoter of democracy and human rights on the other hand. Fox News--predictably--portrayed the protests as a Muslim Brotherhood-led coup, as if there's no possible alternative between a U.S. backed secular human rights abuser and Shariah. The pundits can say what they want, but the reality is it's not their opinions that matter, it's the opinion of the Arab street that matters. Which is why I recommend my good friend Carl Medearis's book Tea with Hezbollah.

A few years back, Carl Medearis and Ted Dekker took a journey to the Middle East for the sole purpose of interviewing people whom the average American views as "the enemy", people like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Bin Laden family, and leaders in Hamas and Hezbollah. Along the way, they also captured the opinions of ordinary Arab Muslims. While they were in Egypt, a man named Mohammed took them on a tour of the Nile. The following is a brief excerpt of an interview between Ted Dekker and Mohammed the boat captain.
Ted: What are the most important issues facing you and the world today?

Mohammed: Number one, to find work. Number two, to be able to eat. Number three, to build a house. Number four, to get married. Number five, to live in peace. I was in the '73 war, but war ruins everything. I just want to find a wife and live in peace.

Ted: What do most of your friends think about America?

Mohammed: America is controlling the world. They treat no one fairly, and if I told you anything else, I would be lying.


I saw on the news this morning that the tear gas canisters fired on the Egyptian protestors say "Made in the U.S.A." I wonder what Mohammed and his friends are thinking now?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The other Martin Luther King

I think everyone should be entitled to at least one dumb moment per week. Mine was today. I forgot it was Martin Luther King day. I went to the post office to mail out some books. When I got to the foyer I saw that the lobby was closed. I thought, "Why would they take a break in the middle of the day without posting a sign? How rude!" A guy walked in and dropped some mail in the drop box. I asked the man, "Do you have any idea why the lobby is closed?" Just as he started to say, "Yeah, I do" I remembered.....Duh!!

For penance, I thought I'd post a reflection from Martin Luther King's book Strength to Love. Everyone seems to know and agree with Dr. King's famous words, "I have a dream that one day my four children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." This is the Martin Luther King that everyone knows and loves, including talk radio pundits like Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh. Nowadays, it would be cultural/political suicide to dare to challenge King on these words, and rightly so. But how many people pay due attention to the "other" Martin Luther King?

The one that said these words:
“The universalism at the center of the Declaration of Independence have been shamefully negated by America’s appalling tendency to substitute ‘some’ for ‘all.’ Numerous people in the North and South still believe that the affirmation, ‘All men are created equal’ means ‘All white men are created equal.’ Our unswerving devotion to monopolistic capitalism makes us more concerned about the economic security of the captains of industry than for the laboring men whose sweat and skills keep industry functioning.

What are the devastating consequences of this narrow group-centered attitude? It means that one does not really mind what happens to the people outside his group. If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, and South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of the citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue? If manufacturers are concerned only in their personal interests, they will pass by on the other side while thousands of working people are stripped of their jobs and left displaced on some Jericho road as a result of automation, and they will judge every move toward a better distribution of wealth and a better life for the working man to be socialistic. If a white man is concerned only about his race, he will casually pass by the negro who has been robbed of his personhood, stripped of his sense of dignity, and left dying on some wayside road”

Same man.

If anybody, I mean anybody, would say something similar to this today, I wonder what Glenn Beck would call him?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy Week

It's been a crazy week. The snow that was on the ground when we got back home on January 2nd is still on the ground. It hasn't gotten above freezing. My wife and I arrived back in Farmington at 12:30 a.m. January 2nd. The drive from Cuba (Cuba, New Mexico that is )to Farmington was treacherous! At one point, our car said it was -24 degrees outside! The first thing I noticed when we got home was that we didn't have running water. That's because some pipes were frozen. A little insulation did the trick. We also had some broken pipes that were attached to our washer and to top it off, my battery was dead in the Honda.

In addition to home and car repairs, we had two different doctor's checkups, one for Isaac and one for Christian. They both got immunizations, but it was Christian that was sick the next day.

I haven't told very many people this yet, but I'm working on another book. This one, however, I'm actually getting paid to write. No more spending months of my life to write a book hoping that it will get published. I've teamed up with another author that has the best agent in the Christian publishing industry working for him. I'm the junior partner in the arrangement, but hey, it's a giant foot in the door! Anyways, I had gobs of revisions to do last week to the chapters and the proposal, but I think I did an okay job. I sent it out last night. Hoping the proposal will land a nice advance!

Tomorrow I'm off to Phoenix for a summit with Peace Catalyst. Peace Catalyst is a ministry founded by Rick Love, a former missionary to Indonesia and the former President of Frontiers. The goal of Peace Catalyst, among many things, is to build bridges of peace to the Muslim world. I feel honored that I was invited to participate in a strategy summit on how to build bridges of peace to the Muslim world without sacrificing the essentials of the Great Commission. Some of the attendees head up some pretty significant ministries. Others are major movers and shakers in their cities in the realm of building bridges between evangelical pastors and Muslim Imams. Since there's virtually no Muslims in Farmington, I can't really relate. And about the extent of my practicing peacemaking and non-violence these days is making the daily decision not to beat my kids. Sometimes I think that being an author affords me a status I don't really deserve. I don't feel like I'm "in the trenches" as much as the other participants. Then again, we all go through different seasons in life.

I'm taking Isaac with me.

It should be fun.

Pray for a safe journey on the road, and that God will accomplish through us what He wants to accomplish.

Be blessed!