Deconstructing American Exceptionalism

The other night the President argued: "America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth … [Read more...]

“America has no business in the Middle East”

Andrew Bacevich, Professor of International Studies and graduate of West Point, whose son died serving the country in Iraq, has written and spoken extensively on U.S. foreign policy, religion, and most recently on the Syrian situation. His important book, The Limits of American Power The End of American Exceptionalism, is the most important book that I know of for Americans to read. He is not a dove, nor a soft minded liberal, he is, as he says, "a conservative Catholic." But he thinks that … [Read more...]

R2P: The Insanity of the White Man’s Burden

In a question about whether there was any situation in which a bombing campaign would be effective on the Syrian regime, Juan Cole, Professor of Middle East History, didn’t hesitate, “No.” Cole, an informed and levelheaded critic of Middle East policy, describes in bleak terms the complexity of the situation in Syria. Look at the map below, and the story about it, and one can easily see the complex and multifaceted nature of the country. It is an utterly manufactured state by the colonial powers … [Read more...]

Antoinette’s Babies: Radical Empathy, Radical Grace

 Religion in practice is always more beautiful than religion in words. In fact, from my study of Rob Bell, it has become clear to me that religion only becomes true in action. And there is no more beautiful example of this than what Antoinette Tuff did for Michael Hill. She loved him into lying down on the ground and giving himself up. Antoinette saved her “800 babies” by making Michael another one of her “babies.”The story of Michael Hill’s storming into an Atlanta-area elementary s … [Read more...]

‘Don’t steal my blessing…’ or Understanding the South

As some of you know I play Peter Pan part time, serving our church youth group, and frankly I have a ball doing it. We take a mission trip each summer and it’s often the highlight of my year. We go to different parts of the country, often to Indian Country, but this year to West Virginia. I wanted to have our group (eight adults and 28 youth), experience Coal Country and introduce them to the Scotch Irish and Presbyterian traditions of the South.We stayed at Bluefield College, Virginia. We t … [Read more...]

Ten Ways Meaning Helps Us

I received a lot of interest in my last post on “How Hedonism Harms Us.” The point was that a happy, selfish life actually does us harm, physically. Contrariwise, a meaningful life of self-giving brings us health, though it doesn’t always make us happy, at least in the short term.So it made me think: What is a meaningful life?Mistakes matter. I’m nowhere near a perfect person and I’ve never claimed to be. In fact, I rather like my mistakes and my faults. This is weird to say but it’s tru … [Read more...]