Rick Steves on the spirituality of traveling: People have a lot of fear, and the flip side of fear is understanding. When you travel to new places you understand more, so you fear less. Then you can love people as a Christian should. The less you travel, the more likely that media with a particular agenda can shape your viewpoint. Those of us who travel are a little more resilient in weathering the propaganda storms that blow across the U.S. media.
With the terrorist attack that barely failed on a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day and the opening of a new U.S. “front” against terrorist cells in Yemen, the year 2009 (and the decade of the “00s”) came to a somber conclusion. The struggle against radical Islamic terrorists remains a long, twilight struggle.
Part of the continuing education for religious leaders of all types ought to involve occasional Sunday mornings spent not in church but observing the way that an increasing percentage of Americans spend their Sunday mornings. I came upon this idea some years ago when I found myself at home on a Sunday with reasons not to show up at church, since everyone was expecting me to be away.
The 35 people executed in the United States in 2014 represent the fewest number in two decades, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The decline is driven in part by continuing legal disputes related to drugs used in lethal injection and by state moratoriums on the death penalty. The center, which opposes the death penalty, also found that the 72 death sentences issued in 2014 represents the fewest in 40 years. Perhaps most striking about the 2014 report was the fact that Texas, the perennial leader in carrying out the death penalty, was no longer alone at the top (as it has been for 17 years). It was tied with Missouri for the most executions, with ten (RNS).