Church aid agencies working in Iraq are pulling out international staff, reviewing their programs in the face of continuing violence, and in at least one instance considering suspending operations altogether, the Geneva-based Action by Churches Together (ACT) International alliance announced last month.
Medieval mapmakers, with their limited knowledge of distant lands and uncharted seas, sometimes depicted dragons on the far edges of their maps. Hic sunt dracones (“Here be dragons!”), they warned. Dragons do not appear on our modern maps. But bodies on the rail lines of Madrid and the streets of Fallujah leave no doubt that Something Ferocious stalks the edges of our political and religious maps. Nationalism, tribalism, empire and religion mutate in draconian forms, and we sometimes fail to recognize the beastly genes in our own DNA.
Proponents of traditional family values are championing a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling March 11 that halted—at least temporarily—gay marriages in the state. “What the court has done . . . is take a stand against the anarchy that has reigned in San Francisco since February 12,” said James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family.
Getting to Iraq requires a flight from neighboring Jordan that ends with a hair-raising flourish: a 60-degree “corkscrew” turn into the former Saddam International Airport. “We have a slight missile problem,” said the impish pilot, a white South African, explaining that the tricky maneuver is necessary to avoid getting hit by a ground-launched rocket.
President GeorgeW.Bush and British Prime Minister TonyBlair should apologize for the “immoral” war against Iraq, according to retired Anglican Archbishop DesmondTutu. Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, made his remark in giving the annual Longford lecture in London on February 16.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board will cease endorsing women for chaplain positions “where the role and function of the chaplain would be seen the same as that of a pastor.” The move will apparently bring an end to the SBC’s endorsement of new female chaplains for the military but apparently will not prevent women from serving as hospital chaplains.
Contrary to what most Americans believe, the United States is in deep trouble in Iraq, and its policies are adrift. Especially ominous are problems surrounding the plan for June 30 elections. If direct elections are held, the Shi‘ites, with 60 percent of the population, will prevail. If their representation is watered down by resort to closed caucuses, as the U.S.
President Bush, speaking confidently and forcefully in his State of the Union address on January 20, defended the U.S.-led war on terrorism and efforts to establish democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When American administrator L. Paul Bremer III reported to Washington that the Iraqi people were not quite ready for reform, my mind flashed back to one of those British movies set in the 19th century. Typical plot: a colonial governor confronts the powerful nabob who won’t play the game the way they teach it at Oxford. He sends an urgent message to London: General election too risky. Stop.
Jessica Lynch resists America’s desire to call her a war hero. “They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff,” Lynch told Diane Sawyer during a television interview on Veteran’s Day. “It’s wrong.”