If the conflict in which the U.S. is now engaged is not one of the storied “clashes of civilizations” predicted by Samuel Huntington, it does involve a potentially deadly clash of perceptions. Those in the West who have joined the war on terrorism view Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network as self-professed agents of the mayhem that has struck the U.S.
There are no atheists in bio-hazard suits. Perhaps that sentiment has never been strictly true, even when we were still talking about foxholes. But fear does have a way of turning the mind to matters of ultimacy.
We’ve heard the question, as have pastors around the country: Where is God in the death and devastation that struck September 11? One clergyman reported that a New Yorker who noticed his clerical collar stopped him on the street to ask exactly that shortly after the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
We want a word from God. When, before our eyes, hijacked airplanes crash into buildings, and the towers of the World Trade Center plunge to the ground snuffing out thousands of lives, when evil suddenly and irrevocably transcends the limits of what we have assumed is possible, we desperately seek to know what God intends for us.
Two follies, both with track records, were on full display at the recent United Nations conference on racism held in Durban, South Africa: Arab and Islamic states persisted in their misguided effort to brand Zionism as inherently racist, and the U.S. again demonstrated that its commitment to international negotiation is at best nominal.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).