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SYRIA, POISON GAS, MISSILE STRIKES AND PEACE?

It has been both an emotional and a political roller-coaster. The television newscasters and the print media informed us that a political debate was underway as to whether or not the armed might of this country should be used to punish the Syrian government for violating the universal condemnation against chemical warfare that has governed the world since the horror of gas in the trenches in World War I. Pictures were released of small children, who had been the victims of sarin gas. The pictures were chilling. I enquired of a medical expert about the effects of sarin gas on the human body. He shuddered even to talk about it. His sentences were short and declarative. “It is deadly.” “There is no protection.” “Suffering is intense.” “Death is inevitable.” For almost one hundred years, despite brutal wars, both worldwide and local, with weapon enhancements like atomic power and cruise missiles, the prohibition against chemical warfare has still been generally adhered to by the nations of the world until this moment. Now the Syrian government has breeched this taboo, in an action widely believed to have been ordered by its president, Bashar al-Assad. I did not disagree with the official statement of facts and yet the debate itself struck me as deeply irrational.

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A Pessimist for Peace, And the Question of a Just War

Our nation is currently embroiled in a contentious debate over the Syrian regimeʼs alleged use of chemical weapons, and what should be the appropriate response by the U.S. and the international community. Public opinion polls comprising an odd coalition of liberal peace-nicks, a war weary citizenry and political antagonists who oppose in knee-jerk fashion most all of the Presidentʼs proposals, all suggest strong opposition to our countryʼs military involvement of any kind in yet another Middle East conflict. Regardless, the underlying question and dilemma remains. Is there a moral imperative to act? If so, how? What is the justification for a violent response to a deplorable, unjust and violent act?

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St. Augustine and Syria

Christianity has concerned itself with matters of war and peace for almost its entire history. The one unifying assumption of the faith has been that war is terrible and is to be avoided assiduously. There has always been a part of Christianity that has rejected war absolutely, considering participation in it to be completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus. But alongside it has been a strand of the faith that recognizes that war is morally justified in certain circumstances. “Just war theory” dates back to St. Augustine in the early days of the church. I think it still is a useful way of prayerfully considering whether or not a war, and/or one’s participation in it, is appropriate.

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Bound: an Earth Walker’s Handbook

Are there any fun theology books written with today’s reader in mind? Contemporary Christian thought leader Phyllis Tickle says “imaginative theologically and charming as well as rigorous, Bound, an Earth Walker’s Handbook is the best example I have ever seen of riveting and holy fun.”

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State by State the Longest List Can Be Done

In “Where Have All the Flowers Gone? A Singer’s Stories Songs Seeds & Robberies” Pete Seeger reports that the words to this iconic union anthem were printed in the preamble to the constitution of an early coal miner’s union. In 1948, Pete set the words to an Irish tune from the 1840s, “The Praties they grow small.” Looking back over the past 50 years to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (“The Great March on Washington”) while progress seems to have been made, for 245 years (716 if we start with Magna Carta in 1297) the struggle for human rights – meaning equality under the law, and access to food, clothing, shelter, and education for all – has been raging, and shows no signs of abating any time soon.

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Why a Progressive Christian Vision Is So Important

More progressive expressions of Christianity emphasize more inclusive versions of the kingdom of God. In Colossians 3, after admonishing his readers to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness, the writer says: “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (3:14).

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Christian Unity

There’s a line in a popular Christian song that makes me cry every time: “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.” It makes me question my attachment to labeling myself a Christian Progressive or a Christian liberal.

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Taliban Victim addresses the UN asking leaders to agree to put every child in school

The Taliban shot 15-year-old Malala in the head for her education activism. But she survived, helped win education for all girls in Pakistan, and will address the UN in 3 days asking leaders to agree to put every …

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