More assorted notes

(1) Still sore over missing TARCon :(. Sounds like the TARFlies had a blast. Well, there’s still Amazing Race 12 this fall unless CBS does something weird. I did pick the winner right in a March blog here : Eric and Danielle. Just about everyone else in the late going (poss. excepting Charla) showed some sign of serious fatigue. Even Dustin & Kandice (their little fight, and their struggle with the last task). Oswald and Danny were hit the worst, with all the classic signs : arguing, disorientation, bleary eyes, and bungling tedious tasks. Heck, even Phil looked a bit weary.

(2) I’m still getting good feedback on the singing groups special, especially the Alvin Chea interview. Take 6 fans a re coming out of the woodwork. See below, April for a played-list. Acappella fans should know that while the Fall WUSB ‘thon will probably generate a different show (on ethereal music), I’m still hoping for an acappella jam show on one of my regular shows in September/October. But I’m going to need a lot of groups to show up. So if you’re in a Metro NY, Jersey, or Connecticut bandless band, leave me word here as to availability and contact. And keep checking here for further developments — they will be posted.

(3) Revamped many of the word definitions on the site. That includes clearer sections on homiletics and “deliverance ministries“. If you’re a student of religion or of Christianity, or you’re a news reporter or talk show producer searching for information on a topic on Christianity, is what you’re looking for. There’s no end to what you can find there.

(end of shameless plug for my own site….)

(4) I still can’t get over those who keep calling the expression of religious belief in the public and political realms “dangerous”. The Constitution specifically protects religious practice. Christian religious practice is based on loving one’s neighbor, and being of help even to those who don’t hold our beliefs. This is often unavoidably public, and sometimes unavoidably political. If I can’t fully follow through on that, then I am not free to practice my faith. The Founders of the US understood that. Yet some writers, mostly but not exclusively on the Left, just don’t get it, mainly because some religious person says something they oppose, and they (sometimes rightly) fear that the advocates are tyrants in disguise. But that’s irrelevant; you fight them by opposing their viewpoint on the subject matter, not by telling them to shut up like O’Reilly does. You’re free to oppose. Just don’t even try to cut off the social space for the public parts of religious practice. You’ll have me in your face. For your own good. For our freedom to speak is also yours, and if we don’t have it, you also won’t have it before long.

That said, some Christians should learn when to speak and when to listen. Listening, too, is part of loving one’s neighbor.


Living With Our Neighbors

I just read the remarks from the new Deputy Prime Minister of Israel. He’s sugggesting that it’s time for Israel to give up on ever having peace with its neighbors, and completely ignore the Palestinian government.

If I were US President, I would come down hard and clear in public about even a hint of such talk.

The single most important thing we must get through Israel’s head is that no amount of deceit, hatred, or killing gives any nation anywhere at any time any right at all to be anything other than a nation among nations that has to work at living with their neighbors, and indeed the rest of the world. (The Palestinians also have to learn this, true, but noone has any right to wait until the other guy does it.) I’m a full supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself. But that right to defend itself is limited to actions against their direct attackers. If Hizbollah takes action against Israel, Israel has every right to stomp Hizbollah into the ground. I’d rather they found a different way to handle the matter, but it is rightfully their decision to make. But then Israel destroys the facilities (and occasionally homes) of everyone else in Lebanon. They punished the Lebanese government and people, even though they’d have gotten rid of Hizbollah long ago if they had anything even remotely resembling the power to do so. By their actions, Israel simply increased the proportion of enemies around them, an act that makes matters worse not better. (There is also Lebanese foolishness, for not understanding that Hizbollah is largely the cause of their disaster, and thus are their enemy not their defenders. It is of very high importance that this is what they say at all times and what they base their actions on, and definitively cut the crap about their being in any way “heroes”.)

We know Bush knew that Israel had decided to go into Lebanon once those soldiers were kidnapped. It is now clear that W. took no action — not even talk — to try to impress upon Israel the importance of very strictly limiting their actions to their immediate purpose and their direct enemy. This failure on W’s part is of a piece with W’s other Middle East failures, including Iraq. His legacy is hellish, but who cares about that? I care about the blood, the bombs, the hatred, and the idiotic illusions that pass for reality in the Middle East. Bush is under similar delusions. He has blown the opportunity we had at 9/11 to really keep the world behind us and really get at the terrorists and what they represent. It was once said that we are a great nation because we are a good nation. (I never did believe we were all that good, just that most others are noticeably worse.) Bush has led the world to have even more doubt about how good our nation is. It is up to us to hold him and his administration responsible for that, and to do it right now. If we do, I expect Bush to then act more responsibly — like most anyone who is held responsible after misbehaving.

Impoverished politics

I’m watching the election results as I write. Bush has to understand just how much of an albatross he has become around the necks of some pretty good Republicans who lost. But is he the kind who is able to take his medicine and learn his lessons? His presidency thus far leaves me with little hope that he can. Which will leave him increasingly like a lame duck. Only, while he sits there lame, more soldiers and more Iraqis will die.

Watch for the Baker-Hamilton report, coming very shortly. W isn’t going to like that, either.

Words of War / War of Words

We had no business going to Iraq. Many of us have been saying that from before the start, as President W. was ramping up for it. (Some are wondering where Christians were at that time — they’ve forgotten some rather large rallies that took place before W. went in, where quite a few of us Christian believers went.) In any event, I felt like I failed the day we went in.

Once the move was made, I was hoping for the next best thing — an honest, caring attempt to create the framework for a government that most Iraqis could be part of, so we could get the hell out. It soon became apparent that the US was most interested in keeping certain sectors out. Granted, most of those sectors didn’t want ‘in’ (or at least not in something where they had to deal with others) and didn’t really care if everyone else was blown up. But the more people that are outside of the government, the easier it is to challenge its legitimacy.

Then, some of these people — and I have to join with W. when he called these particular people ‘terrorists’, attacked certain targets (including a key mosque) in hopes of generating a Sunni/Shia conflict. The thing I keep finding hard to understand about the Middle East is the foolishness of so much of the anger. If I knew that someone was trying to make me hate, and I knew that particular someone was responsible for the attacks, and I knew that revenge attacks were what the attackers wanted to cause, I’d be a d**n fool to take revenge, wouldn’t I? The last thing I’d do is give the guys who blew up my people’s mosque/holy place exactly what they were aiming for — it’s like giving them a ‘thank-you’ note, or even a big cash reward, for striking me. I would think they’d have responded by redoubling efforts to unify and find common ground, and thus making sure the terrorists got the opposite of what they wanted. I would think the people of Iraq would want not to be a dummy, opening the mouth to speak someone else’s words. That sounds like good revenge to me. But then, I’m not in the Middle East. It’s almost as if the people there find any excuse they can for the foolishness they have been doing since WWII. Cheering them on. Protecting them. Doing everything but the one thing they must do — the one thing that is far and away more important than anything else, even the righting of injustices — stopping anyone who wants to carry out more war. Even if it means turning in your brothers — because not turning them in puts all in your families at risk. The more the flames are fanned, the worse things get. So stop fanning the flames, and instead douse them with water. These conflicts are solid proof, as if any more were needed, that war and hate cause far more injustice than they can resolve. It must end, and end first. The ‘compound interest’ of the evil must stop. W. needs to learn that lesson, sure, but the biggest part of the problem is that the Middle East has no desire to learn it, either. Even if it is right there in their holy books (there are some threads of peace in the Quran, contrary to image and usage). Even if they and their loved ones keep dying over it. Peace is the only real path to survival, but true peace cannot be had while we fatten the vampire of hate by such endless supplies of blood.

I guess a blog entry is an electronic soap box. I’m getting off of this one, having said enough.