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ISIS Sex Trafficking

September 30, 2014

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Haleh Esfandiari is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She describes how the so-called “Islamic State” fills its coffers by sex trafficking, among other things.

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Praying for Iraq

August 20, 2014

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The traditional answer to pacifism is the so-called “Just War” argument. It’s a classic case of bad branding. Pacifists look like peacemakers while “Just War” advocates look like they’re arguing for war.

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Finding true mentors: They’re next door and down the street

October 27, 2013

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… they’re given a volatility license because their ministries are bloated and loaded. Hats off to them for drawing those crowds and their indisputable communication and organizational skills, but there’s more to Christian success than fund-raising and reaching a target audience. Otherwise, we’d be scolding Jesus for losing his following as he hung on the cross. Christian success would at least embrace Proverbs 14:17: “A quick-tempered man does foolish things” as well as James 1:19-20: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

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When the past strangles us

February 22, 2013

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Gaze through civil religion’s in-creeping fog: Halos blink on over sweltering men with wigs. They’re now immaculate secular apostles; they kneel on a mountain top beside their polished spittoons while awaiting their Constitution’s arrival. They never haggled, never referred to their honored but maddening mother country, and never debated behind closed doors in a muggy city in defiance of their original commission. So dare not think the heretical thought: “Maybe the Second Amendment has outlived its usefulness.”

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A true tale of power gone bad and the need for a real Advent

November 30, 2012

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Want reasons for the restoration of the penitential Advent? Surf to the PBS News Hour website and click on its November 23rd broadcast. Watch the segment entitled, “Iran Cracks Down on Dissidents, Human Rights Attorneys, and Journalists.” Behold the microcosm of twisted humanity – complete with perverted, wrong-is-right ethics, evil rulers who think they’re good, and imprisoned innocent mothers. Stop this world. I want to leap off and land in a universe where love is not just a word in a bar-room pick-up line.

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Bringing Light into Dark Places

June 23, 2011

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The rains poured and poured, soaking the hundreds of people marching for peace through the streets of Molo in Kenya. The deluge started just as we turned down a side street into the Molo town stadium where we were scheduled to have a peace rally. By the time we got to the shelter at the stadium, which wasn’t big enough to cover everyone, we were all soaked to our skin, shivering with the cold. We set up a wall of umbrellas to protect us from the driving rain, which turned to hail a couple of times. Everything for our rally was wet. The soccer field had turned into puddles and mud. In the US the event would have been cancelled, and people would have gone home disappointed. But this is Africa, and the rainy season is part of the rhythm of life.

My wife Sharon and I had been part of a peace-training team led by Wilson Gathungu and the Rosell family from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where Wilson has been a student. Wilson had written a paper for a Christian ethics course about the political violence in Kenya which was centered in Molo District. His professor Terry Rosell challenged Wilson to turn his paper into practice, which then gave birth to the Kenya Peace Initiative. The core of this trip was a five-day training and reconciliation program, which culminated in the march and peace rally, or “convention,” in Molo.

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Life Would Be More Simple If Our Dead Ancestors Followed The Script …

June 6, 2011

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Let’s say hundreds surround you while cameras snap and fans grovel and journalists bark. You might commit a gaffe. You might say “British” when you meant “American.” We’d all understand. Joe Biden put televisions in our Roosevelt-era homes and Jimmy Carter said “Huber Horatio Hornblower” and President Obama called a senator a “jackass.” It was an “oops” moment. Shrewd leaders immediately correct themselves and throw in self-deprecating humor: “I meant to say ‘American,’ but I was distracted because I can see Russia from my house.”

Take that, Tina Fey!

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Socially approved cheap shots

May 28, 2011

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One wonders: Is anti-Catholicism the last permitted prejudice? Sample the approved and publicly flaunted ignorance of the facts. Recently, 75 Catholic academics signed a letter criticizing House Speaker John Boehner for his legislative record on alleviating poverty. Left-handed compliments came swift and sure, with the Syracuse Post Standard Editorial Board providing a sample: “It is a welcome change to see a Roman Catholic politician challenged for a position on an issue other than abortion.”

These routine inaccuracies are getting boring. The US Catholic hierarchy took the side of the labor unions in Wisconsin; the bishops wrote a letter to Congress in general to remember the “least of these;” they published a Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in 2005, very little of which dwelled on abortion and much of which implies radical societal change. And then there are all those soup kitchens and hospitals and charities and … Never mind. Doesn’t matter. See no good; hear no good. We’ll throw our cheap shots left and right because people wearing red drapes make easy targets.

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When death brings celebration

May 2, 2011

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I won’t deny that gushing “Yes!” and that sense of awe: Osama Bin Laden is dead and those Navy Seals were great! But then comes the ambivalence …

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Thieves in the Temple

April 19, 2011

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I’m hearing whips crack, coins clink, and benches flung against walls. The hawkers and peddlers and venders race for the gate as sheep bleat and doves fly. A furious Messiah is taking his temple back a day after Palm Sunday. He’s not negotiating. As the dust clears, I can’t help but wonder: Are there money-changers in our temples? Even worse, have we become the hucksters? Have I? My answer: Yes to each. There are thieves in our temple, and I’ve been one of them.

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