Category Archives: culture

Conflict

This is a view of Bethlehem.

  

I was there for 8 days in May and learned a lot about the conflict between peoples in that broken place.

Last night I watched this movie…

  
It reminded me of what I experienced for a week.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Love your enemy.

Love your neighbor.

One pastor said: “I have learned to love my enemy, who is also my neighbor.”

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Filed under culture, photos along the way, seeking understanding

Newbigin applied

I first heard of Lesslie Newbigin at a conference in 2007. I’ve been a fan of his writing since. In an article in CT Newbigin is applied to church planting but it has a broader appeal to all churches, especially the “embassy” bit. Read on by clicking HERE.

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thinkers on “the state”

Perica (p. 211) introduces his conclusion with quotes from Hegel, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, and Orwell on the state. 



Those to look to the state or think their state “good” or “Christian” would do well to reflect on these words.

Don’t freak out, I’m not endorsing these four, but I do endorse thought.

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Filed under culture, from the Balkans, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

Another ISIS article

When I opened my copy of Foreign Affairs yesterday I discovered yet another article about ISIS. Yet this one is far less insightful into why ISIS is so appealing to those running to it and is such a threat to the rest of the world. In fact, this is a pretty secular approach which, as I have stated earlier, is not so helpful because this is a movement driven by belief. Indeed, this article is the typical kind of piece that I had thought of earlier when I stated that to ignore belief is to fail to understand. If you can only read one, scroll down a couple of posts and read that one. If you have time for both, the article is HERE.

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Filed under culture, shifts

Orwell on Fascism

In the article I referenced yesterday, the author quotes George Orwell. Orwell wrote about Hitler and Fascism in the context of his review of Mein Kampf. Consider these words:

Fascism is psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life… Whereas socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet… We ought not to undermine it’s emotional appeal.

When I read this I immediately thought of Putin sounding a similar call to his people as they take on so many of their neighbors over the years , the most significant being the current war with Ukraine.

Yet last week he was welcomed in Budapest as an economic savior of sorts. Of course the Hungarian PM is sometimes prone to such speech himself isn’t he?

There is a warning against such nationalism in Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Until Justice and Peace Embrace:

Idolatrous nationalism is not healthful; it is intensely poisonous. When a nation suffers from nationalism unchecked, the life of his members is twisted and distorted, and the nation becomes a menace among nations because it accepts no standards for international peace and justice.

Be very careful that your love of country does not become an idol that takes your attention away from God’s sovereign rule of the universe which should include your heart and mind.

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Filed under being a disciple, culture, culture > disciple making, Ukraine

“What ISIS Really Wants”

In the last few months I have read a fair bit about Islam and its origins.

Last week I Tweeted that secular commentators couldn’t accurately portray movements which are based on strong belief. I asserted that belief is necessary to truly understand the power of belief. Oh, sure one can observe and draw conclusions, but to really get the power of belief one must have first experienced belief.

Those thoughts were on the heels of a lot of commentary on ISIS and the controversy over Obama’s ill-conceived notions and statements about ISIS and extremism at a conference last week.

All of this was happening just after the publication and subsequent much talked about article “What ISIS Really Wants.”

Based on the thousand or so pages I’ve read on Islam, its origins and how to interact with Muslims, this article should be required reading for those persons advising Obama or any other leaders who see the need to “engage” ISIS.

If the author of this article fits the secular, unbelieving model I referred to earlier, then I must retract my earlier assertion, because, based on my very limited knowledge, he certainly understands and articulates this issue with clarity.

Read the article HERE.

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Obama, Merkel and Putin seen through a lens from 20 years ago

In a discussion of civilization 20* years ago, Samuel Huntington said the following:

… Russia,…, has been a torn country for several centuries…

Russia’s relations with Western civilization have evolved through four phases. In the first phase, which lasted down to the reign of Peter the great, Kievan Rus and Muscovy existed separately from the West and had little contact with Western European societies. Russian civilization developed as an offspring of Byzantine civilization and then for two hundred years, from the mid thirteenth to the mid-fifteenth centuries, Russia was under Mongol suzerainty. Russia had no or little exposure to the defining historical phenomena off of Western civilization: Roman Catholicism, feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, overseas expansion and colonization, the enlightenment, and the emergence of the nation state. Seven of the eight previously identified distinctive features of Western civilization-religion, languages, separation of church and state, rule of law, social pluralism, representative bodies, individualism-were almost totally absent from the Russian experience. The only possible exception is the Classical legacy, which, however, came to Russia via Byzantium and hence was quite different from that which came to the west directly from Rome. Russian civilization was a product of its indigenous roots in Kievan Rus and Muscovy, substantial Byzantine impact, and prolonged Mongol rule. These influences shaped a society and a culture which had little resemblance to those developed in Western Europe under the influence of a very different forces. (p. 139-140)

As of 1995 the future of liberal democracy in Russia and other Orthodox republics was uncertain. In addition, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists and began behaving like Russians, the gap between Russia and the West broadened. … A Western democrat could carry on an intellectual debate with a Soviet Marxist. It would be impossible for him to do that with a Russian orthodox nationalist. (p. 142)

Think on these when you hear Obama and Merkel talk about “negotiations” with Putin.

From: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington, 1996, Simon and Schuster.)

* When I first posted this I had indicated 30 years and then realized my math was off. I am operating on the assumption that Huntington did his writing in 1995 and published and 1996.

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Filed under culture, definitions, Eastern Europe, Ukraine