Staff Sergeant Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) thinks Tikrit will be the last stop on his tour of duty in Iraq. It’s a bad finish: he leads his men into an ambush. He loses three of them and another winds up blind and crippled. When Brandon and his childhood friend Steve Shriver (Channing Tatum) return to their Texas hometown, they’re proclaimed war heroes.
The United Church of Christ has retained a former U.S. solicitor general to represent the church during an Internal Revenue Service investigation of its political activities. Seth P. Waxman, who represented the U.S. government before the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2001, will lead a team of attorneys working on behalf of the 1.2-million-member denomination, according to the UCC.
In a near-unanimous vote, the bishops of the United Methodist Church have called on the United States to begin an immediate, safe and full withdrawal of all troops from Iraq—the bishops’ strongest statement ever against the four-year-old war.
The weekly death tolls in Iraq have recently decreased—for four reasons: The U.S. troop “surge” has restricted the flow of explosives into Baghdad; ethnic cleansing has been completed in many areas; the Mahdi Army has suspended its attacks; and the U.S. is co-opting Sunni insurgents.
The Valley of Elah is the legendary spot between two mountains where, according to 1 Samuel, young David slew the mighty Philistine warrior Goliath. The site is an appropriate allusion for writer-director Paul Haggis’s movie about the American experience in Iraq. In the Valley of Elah posits that the U.S. may be the military Goliath brought down by hit-and-run insurgents.
On the sixth anniversary of 9/11 I joined a spokesperson for the American Muslim community on a panel focusing on the lasting effects of 9/11 on “faith, media and society.” The presentation by Imam A. Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, was illuminating—and discomforting.
After keeping a collective silence in 2003 and 2005, the majority of delegates to this year’s biennial General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) expressed moral opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
One of the lectionary texts on the Sunday after 9/11 was Psalm 51, which traditionally has been understood as King David’s plea to God to have mercy on his sins. One pastor that Sunday used the psalm to ask whether the events of 9/11 were a judgment on the United States: Was the U.S. in some way culpable for the evil actions of the terrorists? His congregation would have none of it.
Journalistic kudos to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, who In a July 8 column headed “Seeing Al Qaeda Around Every Corner” criticized his own newspaper’s coverage of President Bush’s jingoistic speech on June 28 to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as well as the newspaper’s carelessness in reporting on the president’s July 4 address to a military audience in West Virg
Tom Fox, 54, a peace activist and a member of Langley Hill Friends Meeting in McLean, Virginia, was kidnapped in Iraq in November 2005 along with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams—Norman Kember, 74, of Britain; and James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both of Canada.