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bonar crump
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mideast: They're doing it without us

By Andrew J. Bacevich

Rendering a decade of U.S. policy irrelevant, the people of the Middle East are transforming the region themselves.

The ongoing upheaval in the Arab world (and in Iran) has rendered a definitive judgment on U.S. policy over the last decade. Relying on their own resources and employing means of their own devising, the people of the Middle East intent on transforming that region have effectively consigned the entire "war on terror" to the category of strategic irrelevance.

When first conceived in the wake of 9/11, two convictions underpinned that war. According to the first, precluding further attacks on the United States meant that the Islamic world needed to change. According to the second, because Muslims were manifestly unable to change on their own, the United States needed to engineer the process, with American military might serving as catalyst. Freedom (or at least submission) would issue from the barrel of a GI's assault rifle.
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In Afghanistan, then Iraq and now, of course, AfPak, U.S. efforts to promote change have achieved — at best — mixed results. Meanwhile, the costs incurred have proved painfully high. In terms of treasure expended, lives lost and moral authority squandered, Americans have paid a lot and gotten precious little in return.

Teachers say they often feed students who come to school hungry

By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY


"This may be the land of plenty, but many children are going to school hungry, and teachers often give students food to help them make it until lunchtime, according to a new national survey of 638 public teachers."

[Full Article]

Rob Bell - Giving Us All A Wonderful Opportunity

by Brian D. McLaren

What's quite pathetic, as I see it, is that many critics won't even begin to get Rob's real point. (I've read the book, so I'm not just going by conjecture....) It's not that he's being given a multiple-choice test between a) traditional exclusivism and b) traditional universalism, and he's choosing b) instead of a). Rather, it's that Rob has come to see that the biblical story is bigger and better than a narrative about how souls get sorted out into two bins at the end of time.
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The right wing of Evangelicalism will, I imagine, require people to answer the "Bell question," and in so doing, pass or fail the latest litmus test. Those who fail will be purged - which appears to be the purpose of John Piper's already-infamous tweet, "Farewell, Rob Bell." (Fare "well?" - is this a sign of sympathy? It could have been - "You're going to hell, Rob Bell!" - Ah, perhaps John Piper is a closet universalist too? - Just kidding, of course.) Many, subjected to these litmus tests, will capitulate and throw Rob under the bus, even though in their heart they think he's onto something. Others will try to stake out a pseudo-middle position, respectable with conservatives without being needlessly mean-spirited towards Rob, but they'll make sure to distance themselves from him. Hopefully more than a few who in the end disagree will do so in a fair, honest, charitable way, having truly and openly considered what Rob is proposing.

Rev. Peter J. Gomes Is Dead at 68; A Leading Voice Against Intolerance

The New York Times

The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard minister, theologian and author who announced that he was gay a generation ago and became one of America’s most prominent spiritual voices against intolerance, died on Monday in Boston. He was 68.
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One can read into the Bible almost any interpretation of morality, Mr. Gomes liked to say after coming out, for its passages had been used to defend slavery and the liberation of slaves, to support racism, anti-Semitism and patriotism, to enshrine a dominance of men over women, and to condemn homosexuality as immoral.
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“Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant,” he declared in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1992. “Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert.”

In his 1996 best seller, “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” Mr. Gomes urged believers to grasp the spirit, not the letter, of scriptural passages that he said had been misused to defend racism, anti-Semitism and sexism, and to attack homosexuality and abortion. He offered interpretations that he said transcended the narrow context of modern prejudices.