Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rebutting the Politics of Fear

I maybe morally confused, as Secretary Rumsfeld suggests, but what we have here this week is a return to the politics of fear. It's not to say that we face difficult days ahead and that a radicalized Islam is at the heart of the current issues, but by focusing on this struggle the President wishes to turn our focus away from other important issues of the day, such as global warming, an energy crisis that feeds the insurgencies abroad, health crises, and much more. If we are to believe what we've been hearing, Democrats and other critics of the administration have stuck their heads in the sand while our gallant knight in shining armor is out saving the day. The reality is that failed American policies are stirring up hornets nests that have made the world less safe today than before 9-11.

The black and white apocalypticism that has become American policy can only lead to more disaster. But unfortunately I don't see much changing in the months to come - -unless we as an American people say no to the harbingers of fear and elect prophetic realists to office.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time for Rumsfeld to Go

For too long we've been faced with incompetence at the Pentagon. A poorly planned and executed war in Iraq that was based on faulty intelligence -- or more likely manipulated intelligence --has led to a quagmire. Donald Rumsfeld deflects criticism by pointing fingers at others. Despite the evidence, Rumsfeld wants us to believe that things are going quite well and that we just have to stay the course.

Those who dare criticize the administration's incompetence, especially that of the Defense Secretary, have been regularly tarred as unpatriotic and even cowardly. With Cheney and Rumsfeld again on the loose it's not surprising that we've heard more of the same. But this time Rumsfeld has truly gone too far. By comparing critics of the administration's policies and those who report them to political leaders of the 1930s who "appeased" Hitler, Rumsfeld has not just engaged in the politics of fear --which has been a hallmark of the administration -- he's moved on to character assasination -- even if he doesn't name the appeasers. We all know, after all, who the appeasers are. They are all those who think the war has gone south and are calling for accountability. If George Bush wishes to face up to the reasons why his popularity and that of our nation is in the dumps, he only has to look at Donald Rumsfeld. So George, get rid of him. He's a liability to the country and even to you! These days John McCain has become one of George's biggest supporters but even he has called for Rumsfeld's resignation. So, the sooner the better for everyone.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Life is Precious and yet it's not Permanent

Today I witnessed death come to the husband of one of my parishioners. It's a strange experience to watch life disappear, though he was already brain dead, it's still difficult to watch as death takes the place of life. This week I also heard that one of the regional staff members and his daughter died. Brad's about my age and has been a great contributor to the church's camping programs. He will be missed as well

When we consider the reality of death, it should make us take a look at the lives we live. Too often we take life for granted as if it will always be there, but that's not true. Earlier this year a high school friend and fellow graduate died in recovery from surgery, now Brad and Jerry. We remember them in our hearts and we miss their presence in our lives, may their passing remind us to take seriously the lives we live now -- and enjoy them and the relationships we have for we never know when death will call. But, knowing that is true, I also live in the hope of the resurrection.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Truce for Now

The Middle East is never perfectly at peace, at least not in my lifetime, but for now there is the possibility of some disengagement. Much life has been lost and much of southern Lebanon and parts of northern Israel lie in ruin. Physically Lebanon bore the brunt, but psychologically and politically Israel has come out of the situation with significant problems. It appears that the US will continue to stand on the sidelines, but maybe that's as it should be. Hopefully France, Italy, and troops from Bangladesh and Turkey will be empowered to not just observe but stand in the brink and keep combatants apart. Hopefully too the young Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped will soon return home.

What all of this shows is that the time has come to work out the issues that divide. The Arab countries can no longer use Israel as a cover for incompetence and tyranny. Israel needs to look at its tactics, which in this case failed. This wasn't like the 6 Day War of 1967. Hezbollah is a trained, determined and well armed force. These aren't Palestinians from Gaza armed with rocks.

Of course our presence in Iraq doesn't make any of this easier. Iraq has simply bred resentment, new terrorists, and instability. Whatever the reason for getting there and whatever the reason for staying, incompetence on our side has made things a mess.

But I do pray for peace and for reconciliation -- that is my hope!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Reunions and Such

I'm back from a vacation that took me to my 30th reunion. It was good to see old friends and remember old times. Such events also remind us either how much life has changed or how little it has changed. There were those there who had changed little (and I don't mean in appearance). There were others (hopefully that includes me) who are very much different from three decades back.

In an alumni worship service (which I participated in) one alumn spoke of the need to continue and rekindle friendships. Such an effort isn't easy. Besides, many of us live far from our old home and from old friends. E-mail and cell phones make it easier, but you know the old adage about long distance relationships. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the opportunity to rekindle friendships and realize that I might now have more in common with some who weren't my closest friends back then. Life is interesting and reunions are helpful reminders of this.

Sadly, the next time I gather for a reunion, good old KU will be no more. My 80 year old former high school is destined to face the wrecking ball. I'm sure the new school will be more up-to-date but I expect it'll lack the character of our old classic brick facade!