Monthly Archives: December 2009

Would American Idol Have Taken Jesus Christ?

American Idol, along with other reality TV shows, insists that its contestants are just regular people who possess some special talents. On reality shows, being able to sing, or tell jokes, or know who was the third American president is an indication that you are someone blessed with special gifts. I have been wondering how a contestant named Jesus Christ would fare on the reality TV circuit. From what we know, he was not blessed with a gift of singing, he didn’t tell too many joke, but he certainly had a way with words. This past weekend in a church on the estate of the Queen of England, the Rev. Graham James teased royalty by noting their lack of knowledge of the ITV reality show does not reflect on their being stupid.

However, Rev. James thought the At. John the Baptist might have been a good contestant since he lived on wild honey and ate locusts. OK, so he ate locusts, big deal, but could he sing?

How about a Reality TV show designed for anyone who is into religion who could preach a good sermon?

Iraq Shiites Seek Trouble, Not Reconciliation

Right wing media in America continue to propogate the false story about the Bush authorized “surge” which turned the tide in Iraq. It is obvious to anyone who studied the war in Iraq the “tide had turned” earlier when Sunni Muslims became tired of al-Qaeda and formed into “Awakening Councils” which began the process of reducing the power of insurgents. These Sons of Iraq worked with American military forces to curtail violence. The assumption was this decision by Sunni Muslims to work or peace would possibly result in creating a new Iraq in which Sunni and Shiite cooperated. General John Johnson expressed the concern of Americans at failure on the part of the Iraq government to work for peace. “I think it’s fair to say the Sunni population, in general, looks to swe how the Sons of Iraq are being treated as maybe an indicator of how serious the government is of true reconciliation.”

Unfortunately, the answer is clear– not particularly interested. Few Sunnis have been able to get jobs, the number that was to be absorbed into the Iraq army is not what was hoped. For some strange reason, the desire for peace in Iraq still is not a major concern of its Shiites leaders.

Death In Tehran Goes On

Death does not have an appointment in Samarra, he is visiting major cities in Iran where brave people fight against the corrupt and brutal regime of Ahadinejad. As thousands poured into the streets shouting curses at the government, burning motorcycles and cars, their fury could not match that of a government which has lost sight of its purpose in life–to serve the needs of the Iranian people. Police wielding batons slugged people to the ground and as the conflict grew worse, members of the Iranian security force fired weapons and killed the nephew of opposition leader, Hossein Mousavi. The murder of four people just infuriated the crowd which chanted, “I’ll kill. I’ll kill the one who killed my brother.”

Naturally, government sources denied anyone had been shot, let alone killed. There are pictures of the dead individuals, but to the government of Iran their only response is brutality and murder. The real issue is what will happen in the coming weeks. Will the Iranian government go all the way and impose a complete dictatorship in the nation? Will clerics finally begin to realize what they have unleashed with their program of hate and violence? Will the Iranian army impose its own form of dictatorship?

Which Way Egypt In Gaza?

Stories continue to emerge from Gaza that Egypt is in the process of constructing a wall that would make it more difficult for Gazans to use Egypt as a point of entry into the besieged land. The Egyptian government has refused entry to a convoy of supplies from other parts of the world which wanted to bring goods into Gaza. “We are willing to be responsive,” said the Egyptian government, “to demands of humanitarian organizations, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas to use the situation in Gaza to stir unrest on the Egyptian borders.” The Egyptians feel trapped between demands from Palestinians to defend the people of Gaza and possible actions by the Muslim Brotherhood o use Gaza as a means of overthrowing the government.

A logical solution to this mess is ending the siege of Gaza and allowing goods and services to enter through an Israel enter point and thus obviated the need for smuggling. Egyptians blame Israel inaction on the need to end the blockade as the cause of its own problems. “Israel,” said a government officials, “wants to throw Gaza into our face and we are simply telling Israel that as an occupying power, it has responsibilities to honor.”

Yes, it is time for Israel to end the mess.

Fostering Democracy Through Youth In Turkey

Most discussions concerning developing democracy in nations focuses on voting or economic development, but the Young Lives Foundation of Turkey believes it has identified another factor in having a democratic society-helping youth to overcome feelings of discrimination and learn about the lives of other young people. Turkey’s populations already contains diverse populations, especially the Kurds, which has led to continual destructive conflict. One of the Foundation’s projects is to work with youth over an eight week term to assist in being able to communicate with youth from diverse backgrounds. It even explores what constitutes a language of communication that will encourage others to participate in the process of dialogue.

An interesting project is “Writing History From My Street” which encourages young people to write about their own neighborhoods and then exchange their writings with children from other backgrounds.

There might be a lesson in this story for Afghanistan. Perhaps, it is time to begin with small activities rather than national ones.

Only Swedes Should Apply?

On July 1, 2009, a new law made Swedish the “main language” in the nation. Over the past several hundred years, people living in what is now called, “Sweden,” were unaware they had to speak Swedish in order to survive in their hunting and farming world. Thank God, the Swedish legislature finally cleared up the uncertainty by making clear those living in Sweden should speak Swedish. A group of Swedish organizations which fund research are now petitioning the government(of Sweden, that is) for permission to have all petitioners for grants to submit their applications in English since many of their applicants are not of Swedish birth.

I assume the comment that most of their applicants is not intended as a slur against Swedes and the world of research in Sweden. Or, it could imply that most Swedish researchers are familiar with the English language. We trust they will avoid using their English in everyday activities. The “language police” might get them if they spoke in English.

Irish Priest Sexual Abuse Debate Goes On

A recent report on the existence of child sexual abuse in Catholic churches continues to reverberate throughout Ireland. Bishops Eamon Walsh and Raymond Field were the latest members of the Catholic clergy to resign after evidence emerged there had been neglect in protecting the rights of children. They issued a statement: “As we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, the Prince of Peace, it is our hope that our action may help bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse.” Dublin Labor Councilor Aodhan O Riordain added his own hope, “as a principal of a Catholic school, I feel we can hide from the debate no longer.”

What is the debate about? As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who was born 2009 years ago, we should recall that the early leaders of the Christian church were not celibate and had families and enjoyed healthy and normal sexual lives Perhaps, it is time to return to the original views of the Christian church?

Iran Government Message-Forget Freedom Fighters!

A problem for cleric fanatics when placed in charge of a government is their inability to conceive of anything other than punishment of dissent. Even after over a million people flocked to express their sorrow over the death of Grant Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the government’s only response was to ban all attempts to remember those who have fought and died in the struggle for human rights in Iran. In another sign of stupidity, the Iran government sentenced former official Abdullah Ramezanzadeh to six years in prison for “acts against national security.” His trial was a farce and most probably others who dared to challenge the election of President Ahmadinejad will spend some years in a prison cell.

A few days ago, fifty mourners in a mosque were arrested because they had come to pay their respects for Montazeri. The cleric Ayatollah Jalaeddin Taheri was detained for organizing a memorial to the fallen Ayatollah. If this keeps up there soon will be enough clerics in jail to fill a mosque.

GI In Afghanistan -Xmas Away From Home!

Xmas in Afghanistan is not the particularly jolly place one would seek to be in at this most holy and supposedly most joyous time of the year. It is the 8th Christmas for American soldiers to spend in a far away land with high mountains and people seeking to kill one. Sgt. Byron Krepcho can only sigh and comment, “ah Christmas, I don’t really think about it. I treat it like just another day.” Yes, another day of dodging bullets, ambushes, rocket attacks and roadside bombings. For some reason the Muslim militants who wander around the mountains do not seek to have an Xmas truce, but go on firing and killing.

The most important question to pose on this holiday is — does the president and his military advisers actually have a plan that ensures American soldiers will not be spending their 15th Xmas in Afghanistan? As David Nix put it, the only thought in his mind is “being with my family.” Members of Congress and the executive are spending this week with their families, but see no problem in asking some brave young men and women not to be with their own families.


Chinese Dissident To Jail For 11 Years– Boycott?

Liu Xiaobo is a dissident in China. He resides in a nation that has become a leading world power and whose products are displayed in virtually all countries of the world. His crime is simple, he wants China to become a nation of laws and rights. Liu has called for the establishment of political parties along with free speech and free elections. A court, after a two hour trial, found him guilty of being a subversive because he held such outlandish ideas. The sentence was 11 years which is among the longest such sentences against a dissident in years. Naturally, there were statements from foreign groups that fight for human rights, naturally, the Chinese government issued the normal how dare you interfere in the internal affairs of our country press release.

News of the trial was only printed in English in order to keep the people of China ignorant of this gross violation of human rights. Protests will not change anything. We propose a world wide boycott of all Chinese products for 11 days in order to send a message to the Chinese government that there are consequences for violating the human rights of its citizens.