I love looking at old photographs; it’s the closest thing to time travel that I know. I find myself staring at century-old black and white photos taken on the streets of large cities. I look at the people. I search their faces, wondering what was going on in their minds. Often they are turning toward the camera—an item that was much less common then—with a shocked expression.
Jeremy M. Loveless. Nathanael J. Doring. Richard A. Bennett. James A. Funkhouser. J. Adan Garcia. According to a recent article in the New York Times, these are the names of the five soldiers killed in Iraq over the three-day Memorial Day weekend this year. If I had nothing else to say in this column, I would also name the 24 soldiers killed over Memorial Day weekends since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, along with the 4,000-some Americans who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the wars in those countries began. I wish I could also name the Afghan and Iraqi dead, but I do not know anyone who keeps track of their names.
Robert Solow on his friend Milton Friedman: “One difference between Milton and myself is that everything reminds Milton of the money supply. Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper” (New York Review of Books, February 15). We keep many things out of M.E.M.O. Money? Sex? No—only war.
On a recent trip to Southeast Asia, I visited the historic complex of Buddhist and Hindu temples at Angkor, near the city of Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia. The temples are spread out over 40 square miles; on a two-day look-see, one can do scant justice even to the major ones, such as the 12th-century Angkor Wat, generally considered the greatest masterpiece of Khmer architecture.
It happens every time a U.S. soldier or marine dies in Iraq. Internet connections are shut down. Commanders don’t want word of the death to reach the soldier’s family before military officials can personally deliver the news.
While doing research for a talk on religion and violence, I kept running into accounts of people who selectively quote the Qur’an to show how it commits Muslims to killing “us” infidels. That research inspired dour thoughts of the sort that I do not often let intrude on this page.
During the first Iraq war, after the United States started dropping bombs as a prelude to Desert Storm, homiletics professor David Buttrick surveyed mainline churches around the country to see if the war had been mentioned on the previous Sunday, whether in the sermon or in the voicing of prayers and concerns. In the vast majority of cases the answer was no.
CREDO: I am a Christian for the reasons stated in the Letter to the Ephesians, especially wherein “Christ is our peace.” I believe that the Bible as a whole (see Second Isaiah) and the New Testament especially culminate in a vision of reconciliation.
One-third called greed and materialism top moral problem
Nov 30, 2004
The war in Iraq was the most important “moral issue” for voters in the national elections—far outpacing abortion and gay marriage as top-shelf concerns, according to a poll supported by progressive groups.