Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another thought on immigration...

This morning I was listening to the news about the judge overruling implementation of pieces of Arizona's new law. They (and I) have been talking about the impact this will have on a person who gets pulled over or does some other minor infraction having to prove their citizenship.

But what about victims of crimes? Will someone whose house was burglarized no longer call the police because their abuela is living with them and she is undocumented? What about a woman whose work visa expired but she hasn't left the states because she has a job that provides food for her kids, and she gets raped. Will she want to report that to the police at the risk of being deported? Will an undocumented man assaulted by gang members want to report that crime?

Will this law inadvertently allow for unscrupulous characters to even further exploit that without current legal status? Definitely something for consideration.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Relationship is deeper than patriotism

The last "relationship" post probably didn't get me into too much trouble. We argue over sports but not too seriously. I hope this one doesn't either. Especially coming on the heels of our nation's independence celebrations.

Christians have struggled with the proper place of patriotism for oh, at least 20 centuries now. The early church was birthed in a world where Christianity was a sometimes unnoticed, sometimes illegal sect of Judaism. It developed in a world antagonistic toward it, then tolerating it, then embracing it, then promoting it (often by force), all within the space of a few centuries.

I was about to ask if there was a place for patriotism in today's Christian. But I'm going to leave that for now, (you can read my past article on patriotism vs nationalism here). The question I'm asking here is this: does relationship run deeper than patriotism?

Maybe I can ask it this way. What is the deeper connection in relationship, patriotism or spiritual life; your sense of pride in earthly citizenship or in heavenly citizenship?

It's not an easy question. There's something gut-intertwining about our national holiday that in some ways goes beyond...well, beyond religious expression for sure. We can all be at the ball game and see the fireworks and sing the national anthem and our souls feel connected around the idea of freedom, regardless of whether or not we recognize that freedom ultimately comes from God.

But how about this: are we more relationally intertwined with a pagan but patriotic USAmerican or with a Palestinian Christian? Do we care more about the stability and safety of the US than we do about the Iraqi church, which has been scattered and persecuted since the current government has taken power? Do we care more about the values of our own homes than we do the underground church members around the world who cannot provide for their families to have a decent meal because they have been labeled as infidels, heretics, pro-western, or whatever?

I don't have good answers to these questions. I'm not even sure I have the right to ask them. But my soul doesn't leave me alone about it sometimes. Somehow, someway, our relationship with the Creator supercedes our citizenship as USAmericans. Somehow, someway, a believer in communist North Korea and a believer in socialist France and a believer in capitalistic USA are more deeply related to one another than they are to their fellow countrymen/women who don't share that graftedness into the vine that is Jesus of Nazareth.

Now if we could just figure out what that looks like in the real world.

David Gushee recently published some great thoughts on this here.

Here's a quote from a book I cited in my previous blog on patriotism:

When patriotism goes to seed, becoming a jingoistic nationalism, it gives patriotism a bad name. It is the difference between gratitude and arrogant pride. Patriotism stifles the spirit of war, nationalism breeds wars. Patriotism is catholic, nationalism is sectarian. Patriotism understands and enters into the affection that others have for their place.

5 Cities That Ruled the World


I really liked this article on Christianity Today by a Canadian pastor who, as he says, lives on land that was stolen from the native people of Vancouver. How do we deal with and understand that much of our privilege came at the cost of abusing past generations? I'm not sure I know the answer to that question, but I am sure it's found in the "Black Book" Mark Buchanan reads from.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So to make sure I'm putting my money where my mouth is...

Here is a well-thought out viewpoint of immigration by a believer. I would not agree with a couple of the applications of his points, but I've been saying all along that we need to listen and dialogue. That includes me to.

Read it and provide some comments.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Great point from Chuck Colson

I'm not often in total agreement with Colson, but here I think he's spot on regarding the question to be asking. There's still a debate in my mind about "just war" and especially about preeminent strikes against "bad guys", as he puts it, but all in all this is the question that we should be asking.

Whose War Is It?
That's the Wrong Question
Chuck Colson

As the press reminds us daily, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele put his size 12 foot in his mouth, calling Afghanistan a “war of Obama’s choosing” and not “something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” This, no doubt, was news to the service members who served in Afghanistan between the fall of 2001 and January, 2009.

Steele’s “unusual interpretation” as it was called was quickly followed by an attempt to back off the limb he had climbed out on. He added that “the stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”

Amazingly, all his fellow Republicans jumped all over him as the Democrats watched in glee. But party chairmen on both sides have done this kind of thing often over the years.

And actually, I think Steele may have done us a service by raising what is really the critical question: What is our goal in Afghanistan?

Last November, when the President was trying to decide what to do in Afghanistan, I, unlike many of my conservative friends, agreed with his deliberate approach and said so here on BreakPoint.

The reason for my commentary was that I wasn’t sure that the cost, both human and financial, of staying full scale in Afghanistan was justified by the Christian just war doctrine. And eight months later, I’m even less sure.

Despite the build-up in troops, the military news out of Afghanistan is grim. The vaunted Marjah offensive has failed to achieve its goal of stabilizing that region, which remains violent and ungovernable.

That brings me to my principal concern: “Success in Afghanistan” has become nothing less than nation-building. It’s about creating a central government in Kabul that is strong enough and competent enough to claim the allegiance of most of the country’s 28 million citizens.

But such a development would be unprecedented in Afghan history. Afghanistan has always been a loose confederation of local and tribal groups that rebelled against strong central authority.

Look, here is the debate we ought to be having: Is what we are doing in Afghanistan just? For this war to be just, under the Augustinian doctrine, our cause and intent must be just. We must wage war in proportion to the threat, and we must not target non-combatants. And we must also have a reasonable chance of success.

While pre-emptive military strikes to kill the bad guys are justifiable under the just war doctrine, the kind of nation-building we’re pursuing In Afghanistan is not. And here’s why: Sacrificing lives to give Afghanistan what it has never had and never desired—a strong central government—is the antithesis of the “reasonable chance of success” requirement of the just war theory.

So let’s stop the silly name-calling over whose war it is. Trying to score political points while people are dying and billions in taxpayer dollars are being squandered makes me wonder if we aren’t the ones in need of nation-building.

Maybe you could call my approach and “unusual interpretation” as well. But it’s rooted in fact and Christian doctrine and seeks a just use of our nation’s most precious resource: our men and women in uniform.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Relationship is deeper than sports

So, the World Cup is over. At least for our family.

The USA had a good showing, but really needed to beat Ghana to boost the sport more in the US. Then Argentina failed to show up against the German team (as I feared would happen--Germany looks tough when they play up to their level) and now I have no one to cheer for in what I have come to believe is one of the only true world championships available.

We are a nation obsessed with sports and athletes. Here in Dallas a sigh of relief was audibly heard when Dirk agreed to a new deal with the Mavs. The US sports world is following LeBron and DeWayne and the other top free agents to see where they will land. We ask if Tiger will ever be what he once was.

We are fanatics about our sports. We love teams (mine are the Spurs, Steelers, Rangers and Stars--yes, I've given up on the Red Sox to adopt a home team, but that will never happen with the Cowboys or Mavericks). We hate teams (mine are the Mavs, Cowboys and Mavs).

But in all that, sports should not separate us. Our passion for a person or team cannot become more valuable to us than our friendships and neighbors.

What's that you say? Low hanging fruit? You've never heard of someone who destroyed a relationship over sport?

Have you ever watched parents at a little league game?