Letters, September 20, 2013
Is America at a crossroads?
Imagine America's former archenemy — Russia — wanting to send a delegation of lobbyists to Congress to abort a war in Syria. What an insult to the President of the United States and Congress. Imagine Senators Boehner and Reid voting with the President to delay an attack on the Syrians when these two senators [sic] have attacked the President from day one of his Presidency on practically all of his bills. Is it because they are war mongers?
The United States of America is at a crossroads — a crucial point, especially where a decision must be made. We cannot follow our leaders blindly, regardless of their position of power for which we have elected them. The arrogance of power, wealth and the position that the Creator has allowed America to attain, and amass the power to wield it position in matters that involve the lives of people abroad is a bully tactic. All of these are like heady wine that If you drink of it — the wine of influence, you could become drunk and not be able to access properly your thinking, actions, policies, programs and the masses of the people will see you drunk, but you cannot see yourself. The masses of the people are trying to voice their opinion to the President, but I wonder if he is listening?
It's all about the oil! Russia, China, Israel and America are competing for this black coal. Greed! Who will win? Who is most powerful? Who is in control? North Africa is the Holy land — we seem to have forgotten that fact. Where armies are gathered together in the Holy land — that is the beginning of Armageddon.
Moving North (which is South) in Africa, to Ethiopia — another Holy land, which, by the way is the first country mentioned in the Bible has oil also. I suppose these four powerful countries have Ethiopia listed as their next target.
President Obama said in his last speech that we are not the policemen of the world. Wow! Was I glad to hear that statement, which will go down in history? President Obama is a peacemaker — not a war monger, but of the people surrounding and advising him may not have his or the country's best interest at heart.
I also wonder what country identification will be found on the bombs — China, Russia, Israel or America. It is my hope that America will not invade another African Holy land based on CIA information. Remember what they did to General Colin Powell?
America, you are in the intersection of the crossroads. Which direction will you choose?
Re: John Brock column on Judeo/Christian principles
I must respectfully disagree with John Brock’s view on the decay of this country’s Judeo-Christian ethic and on the demise of American ethics in general. A notion that foundational America is a Judeo-Christian product erases the pluralistic genius that created this country. A review of David L. Holmes’ excellent The Faiths of the Founding Fathers (2006) shows that a coalition of theological and philosophical energy flowed into colonial America — Judeo-Christian (of widely varying stripes) and in particular Deistic, which held that a disinterested God fashioned creation only to withdraw from its clockwork operation. There is no validity to intimating a direct line of transmission from Moses through Jesus to America — sans the Enlightenment.
Neither can one overlook that supposed blessings raining from heaven brought mid-19th century America the mania called Manifest Destiny, a carte blanche for expansionist slaughter and murderously premeditated treaty violations with Native America, in the name of a God-guided nation.
American pluralism is not a hallucination; our nation does not prejudicially ostracize but instead ethically incorporates — the Statue of Liberty remains a dynamic symbol of America’s dedication to cosmopolitanism in the richness of its forms.
Nor is history vapor. Recall the Peace of Augsburg (1555) that established cuius regio, eius religio (whose region, his religion) that offered a palliative for Protestant-Catholic mayhem (pending the horrific Thirty Years’ War), while evading an emerging religious pluralism that would further tear Europe apart. Dr. Brock’s “Judeo-Christian nation” concept embraces, in my view, the foibles of Augsburg. Moreover, the free exercise of “Judeo-Christian principles” in the hands of self-serving practitioners has unleashed throughout history more worldwide misery than ink exists to record it — the Crusaders’ butchery of Muslims and Jews, the Inquisition’s horrors camp in Toledo, and the KKK’s obscene notion of God and Country easily come to mind.
Ethical conduct did not originate with the Ten Commandments; instead, these commandments reflect such conduct. And the “Do unto others” maxim shines across world religions — for a survey, see The Dalai Lama’s (yes, a Buddhist) Toward a True Kinship of Faiths (2010), pages 112-13.
As to the First Amendment, Dr. Brock asserts that it “grants the right” to engage in religious activity “unencumbered by government,” only to then state that it “guarantees Freedom of Religion.” Therein resides the separation of church of state that apparently mystifies him: a government that gate-keeps the right to equal religious protection under the law — a democracy, not a theocracy. And undergirding that tenet are complex matters of history and law that include and transcend football-game prayer.
Hyperboles such as Dr. Brock’s about persons who would “wipe all vestiges of our Judeo-Christian heritage from American life” and those with “hatred of the world’s largest and most enduring religion” quell sophisticated discourse needed more than ever. And the matter of “Jihad mentality” (particularly among non-fundamentalist Muslims, who constitute the vast majority of Islam) is a multi-layered concept reduced to bloody images by the media and a predetermined “bumper sticker” by the pontificators.
Injecting far greater rigor into these issues would benefit anyone who would otherwise rob them of their indispensable nuances.
Dr. Craig Miller
Background note: Craig Miller, who holds a doctorate in theology, is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta International Society for Historical Scholarship and retired as a senior advisor to the U.S. intelligence community.
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