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An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Russia's 9/11



Images still haunt my mind...those of little children in caskets are just too much to bear. Further news that attempt to mask (intentionally or otherwise) with blame on Russia's handling of the crisis (or even their handling of the war) or with absurd (whether true or not) stories of officials lying about numbers of casualties is irritating me to no end. THIS, I think has been my error too: forgetting the singular evil of the attack and white-washing it by finding blame in policies or other political actions taken after the fact. If there is fault to be found in such things then so be it...but individuals, groups of individuals, and/or organizations make the CHOICE to kill children - no one forces their hand and NO cause is worth putting a little baby into a casket.

I do not consider myself an ignorant man. I know that Chechans have suffered and that Palestinians have suffered and that innumerable other people have suffered under some form of tyranny whether that be economical or miltary...but as I sit and try to imagine what it would take to "force" me to slowly cut the head off of a screaming man, or to even threaten to shoot a child unless my demands are met (let alone to actually do it), or to train and indoctrinate "martyrs" to strap bombs on their body and send them off to wreck as much death and destruction as they can in the midst of civilian everyday life...well that my friends is something I just cannot imagine doing no matter what suffering I have undergone.

I know, you will say, that some suffering is so great that I cannot imagine it...but I will say thjat I can. I've always had a good imagination, actually, and I as I look at babies in caskets and think of my own kids...well, believe me I can imagine.

Go to war over such things? You bet. Go to terrorism? Never. I believe there is a difference...and that difference is in the targets and the tactics, which is not to say that even the "good guys" (whom I assume we belive ourselves to be) can forget that. But we live in a country in which such "omissions" can be and I dare say are often held accountable for, but who is going to hold the terrorists accoutable save for their victims?

Addendum: Fr. John has some interesting news related to my thoughts here, including a much welcome self-critical examination by a senior Arabic television manager that can be read about HERE. Now, whether the potential "fatwa" that Fr. John notes or the commenting of the TV manager (whose words were so strong that one wonders if his decapitated body might not be found soon) will sway Muslim opinions remains to be seen. Accoutability is another issue entirely. Again, I do not claim that every atrocity is held accountable in the US...but I do claim that it is at least possible...maybe even probable.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:49 AM [+]
+++
17 comments


17 Comments:

i hear you james. i've struggled this last weekend with a desire to fight. to avenge. i have longed for the same political rhetoric and marketing spin about human rights in iraq to have an ounce of real world application in the sudan. or over the AIDS crisis throughout africa where 69,000 people die every week as the medicine that could save so many sits on shelves in our country. not to mention the one million+ of *children* in asia who are forced into prostitution. but perhaps i digress from your topic.

we can throw a dart at a global map and discover more than enough blood and death to grieve a lifetime over.
it is no wonder the Fathers have written that the spiritual gift of tears is so life giving.

i DO think that when we can, we MUST fight against real world injustices. true religion, according to james, is to care for the weakest among us... i wonder if the category of widows and orphans in james' day could as easily apply to those millions dying of AIDS and the 1+million childred enslaved as prostitutes. if it is in our power to help them (and it IS), then we must.

with that said, it seems to me the Fathers (and yes, our Church Mothers!) are so relevant here. they, it seems, take quite seriously the notion from Paul that we do not fight against flesh and blood, rather our war is against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness (of this world) and against spiritual wickedness (in high places)... that there is a profound connection between the evil we struggle with in our own hearts, and the evil we see in Beslan.

that is a hard saying.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:41 PM  

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This, from someone who had more right than you or i to feel demand vengance for injustices:

Saint Nicholas of South Canaan’s prayer upon being released from Dachau prison camp:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to the earth, enemies have loosed me from the earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world. Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless then and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world. They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself. They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments. They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself. They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish. Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf. Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background. Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep. Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out. Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Your garment. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me: so that fleeing to You may have no return; so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs; so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul; so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven; ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself. One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world; friends or enemies. Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies. A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Father Vadim read this, instead of a sermon, at Saint Spiridon’s Orthodox Cathedral in Seattle, WA on Sunday, September 16, 2001. Saint Nicholas reposed in 1956, while he was Dean of St. Tikhon’s seminary in South Canaan, PA. Fr. Vadim, as a seminarian, heard many wonderful stories about him. St. Nicholas was a Serbian theologian and bishop who was imprisoned in Dachau during World War II. Marks of his torture by the Nazis were found on his body when he was prepared for burial.

)( seraphim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 PM  

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No doubt there is truth in all you say here Seraphim...I cannot deny the extent to which there is suffering in the world.

However, I do not cry out for vengeance...but am wondering about prevention and root causes.

...there is a profound connection between the evil we struggle with in our own hearts, and the evil we see in Beslan.Brother, I hope I am not being a judgemental prig by say I wholly reject this. I would never never string explosives over the heads of children...while there may be a "connection" between the evils here in my heart and in Beslan, frankly the evil that did string explosives over kids is on a whole other level that I cannot begin to comprehend.

In the same way that I say that I will not shrug at the horror of this act and point at the horrors caused by the other side which is supposed to have lead to present act (which I am coming to believe is as much political rhetoric as is the insinuation that these terrorist hate our free way of life)...neither will I shrug at it in light of the horrors I admittedly have in my own heart.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:38 PM  

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you are right to point out that perhaps the evil in our hearts VS the evil in beslan is not *equivalent*.

but then, i dont know. what DID Christ mean when He said that if we are angry, we are guilty of murder. if we lust then we are guilty of adultery? ie, that there is no (in His estimation) distance between the evil within us, and our behavior??

i am admitting ignorance re: this passage. but doesn't is *seem* to be saying that perhaps we believe in an *illusion* when we see evil as *merely* behavioral, and not existentially shared by all and in all?

there certainly seem to be degrees of magnitide, particularly in how we deal with evil in our lives. but is there with God? or does this merely related to the consequences? ie, reaping what you sow?

)( seraphim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 PM  

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Thankfully, there are examples in history that show us another way, starting with Christ Himself. Gandhi and MLK both advocated stubborn, persistent and self-sacrificing non-violence to transform what was being done to them and their people. The truth is that for how brutally difficult that way may be, it's the only way that offers tranformation that subsumes the cycle of violence and retribution and renders it completely powerless.

As for our evil being equivalent to the terrorists in Breslan, I'm with Sky. Great evil or small evil all starts from the same seed. Given different soil and conditions, the seed of hatred and violence could either be a single weed or a dark choking mess that takes centuries to unravel and make right. I've had days where I'm glad I wasn't Hitler with the power and license to put all my worst impulses in action. It all starts at the same place, hence Christ's warning to attack it before it takes root.

Paul

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:39 PM  

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Paul you make a great point about passive non-violent resistance...what could be achieved for their causes (be they Chechen, Palestinian, or whatever) if such a tactic were used? Much, I think. The tactic of terrorism is instead opted for by some (many/most?) and thus is their plight helped? Of course not. There was a Clancy novel that fictitiously proposes that Palestinians did in fact adopt an MLK form of protest and it was portrayed as being successful. Frankly, would there be a wall in Israel if this were their methodology as opposed to suicide bombers? Why am I wrong to ask such questions? Heck, it just seems practical to me...why the heck won't Arafat sees what is to me (an admitted simpleton) so obvious? Could there be cultural and religious inhibitions to such a peaceful approach? Ummm...YES!

What of the nature of evil? From a theological and perhaps I might say ontological perspective, gentlemen (Paul and Seraphim) I wholly agree with you...however, we must also look at this practically.

We punish criminals. We, as a society, punish murders and child molesters. We do not, however, punish people who hold anger in their hearts toward others. Why not?
I am fully aware that I am JUST as much in danger of hell as your average Joe terrorist, but I am alot less likely to string bombs over the heads of children (geez I hate to beat a dead horse...but the pictures, my God the pictures...more powerful than a Michael Moore film!)

You see I can struggle with my hate and anger and ALL of the vastness of my sins, and yet worry and act to protect people (my family or the family members of Russians) from other people (or groups of people) who chose NOT to struggle with their hate, anger, and sins.

This seems elementary to me...what am I missing?

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 5:00 PM  

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james, i dont think you're missing anything. we are in agreement. i mean, are you kidding... of COURSE i would do whatever i could to protect my daughter in the case of someone wanting to do her harm. i DONT act as if there is an equivalency between destroying the life of a child with a bomb, and being angry.

but i do want to understand our Lord. re: children, he essentially recommended a mob hit (cement shoes, a milstone around the neck) for anyone who led a child astray. if i take His words seriously, HE doesn't seem to make the same distinctions towards sin that we do... ie, theological, ontological, or actual.

i can hardly imagine His judgement and the consequences he speaks of re: those who are angry, those who lust, and those who lead children astray... much less those who blow them up with bombs. and therefore, perhaps... (as i think St Nicholas of Canaan is getting at) i am less present to the depth of His mercy and love and forgiveness.

i dont think you're missing anything. we're just inquiring.

how does this weekend alter your previous posts/thoughts on the struggle you've had with your children... ie, parenting as martyrdom?

)( seraphim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:35 PM  

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I was only addressing your comment rejecting Sky's connection of the evil in Beslan and the evil in our own hearts. You say "I would never...", and I'm saying that you might, given the right circumstances, without the intervention of God that has turned your heart such that you're more and more repelled by easily identifiable forms of evil. But the seed is still the same.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't protect society against evildoers who seek to ravage and destroy -- just wait around for them to get a conscience. But I'm cautious when anyone, including myself, says "I would never...". That gets into distinguishing shades of sin, comparing the relative "evilness" of you vs. them, and opening up the dangerous possibility of 1) becoming complacent about your own sin, and 2) becoming self-righteous in pride about the sins of others. The microcosm is reflected in the macrocosm -- the state of our hearts reflects the destruction in Brelan at it's logical conclusion. C.S. Lewis mentions in several places how God doesn't distinguish sin by those outward events. He says both loom large in terms of the soul, and hell is any sin -- small or great -- extended out into eternity. So, yes, we need to contain the violent and protect the innocent, but never far from the attitude of the man in Jesus' parable -- "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner".

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 AM  

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I would never never string explosives over the heads of children.I think I would. As a tax paying citizen, don't I? Am i not indirectly responsible for carnage in Afghanistan and Iraq where US bombs decapitate children too?

I wonder if the Chechens have seen many of their own children die? I don't know, I just wonder at this point? I do know the Palestinians, Afghanis, and Iraqis are irrate over their children dying by the bullets and bombs of powerful nations-- US and Israel.

Why are't we?

By Blogger Laura, at 11:18 AM  

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HE doesn't seem to make the same distinctions towards sin that we do... ie, theological, ontological, or actual. Are you sure? What other sins get the cement shoes recommendation? See also John 19:11...I suspect other instances as well. If there is progress to be made in the spiritual life, then there is also recession to collapse into.

That gets into distinguishing shades of sin, comparing the relative "evilness" of you vs. them, and opening up the dangerous possibility of 1) becoming complacent about your own sin, and 2) becoming self-righteous in pride about the sins of othersI really believe that one is hard pressed to fully engage the Orthodox faith and yet become complacent about one's own sins. I have done it frequently with no need to compare myself to what I perceive to be more sinful people. My heart is perfectly deceitful enough to do it all by my little self. And at such times I find myself fully out of touch with the life of the Church. In some sense, that is the case now...but I HOPE (really hope) it is not because I am feeling self-righteous that I don't kill innocent people....I was pretty assured of that while my spiritual life was in better order. But I will not wholly deny a possible connection...I mean really, what ISN'T connected?

However, could the greater concern be that in NOT ditinguishing shades of sin (which in fact I believe the Church does) that we leave ourselves in a despairing state with no hope of improvement. You see, why acknowledge and venerate the Saints? Are they holier than me? Have they run the race more fully more completely than me? YES, of course they have. And if some have run the race better than me, than it seems reasonable to assume that some will not.

But in the Orthodox faith we walk with the reminding prayer which bids us to say that we are the chief of sinners. None-the-less, may God forgive my judgement in saying that I do not believe I could hold children hostage and then kill them. Nor could I slowly sever the head of a pleading and screaming man while crying out "God is great!" And, if I did (and maybe you are right that indeed I might) then surely I can say NOW AT LEAST that I would have slipped even further into the darkness. How can this NOT be true? Help me to see otherwise, please?

For me it is not about pointing to the horror of some acts in order to make myself feel better about my own (as I said I am perfectly able to feel no grief for my sins even if all the world were made up of saints). Must I really risk self-righteousness by pointing a finger at even the most heinous of crimes? Perhaps.

But, I do not think God (or the Church) are moral relativists. And I think that I was straying in THAT direction. Laura, you imply that we might be JUST as guilty as the terrorists for the children that American bombs have killed - even if indirectly. I patently reject this notion on two counts. By this logic, I am also guilty of Bill Clinton's adultery (which in a way perhaps we are - but certainly not in the same way that Bill is). Furthermore, when I see American troops marching into Najaf and kidnapping all of the children of the town, planting bombs all around them and threatening to kill them unless a particular cleric surrenders then I will buy this argument. As it is, I know for a fact that US forces have declined to use heavy weapons to protect innocent people at the expense of the lives of US Marines. Furthermore a good friend of mine whose father-in-law works in some capacity with the CIA tells me that US intelligence is FORBIDDEN to work with people who could be prosecuted for some crime according to US Law....and this CRIPPLES us. None of this is of course to say that we should be there to begin with...but I reject the argument of moral equivalency here. You see if I were foreigner invaded and overrun, I'd rather it be by the US Army as opposed to the "Secret Islamic Jihad Army." Which is not to say that we wouldn't suffer under both, but if I were to stake my money (safety)...well...

Laura you have heard me rant about US foreign policy...I do lament and grieve for our actions. However, what I am beginning to reject is the either/or approach that I think results in moral relativism. I cannot mention the atrocity of the act in Beslan without someone giving a complementary nod and then beginning a tirade on the activities of Russia in Chechnya. And what are we left with? Everyone is evil....geez sounds like my indecision in voting.

I am beginning to think that while changes in policy obviously need to happen, that none-the-less there IS an enemy that hates us and will continue to hate us no matter what we do. I am becoming less afraid of looking at the role of religion and culture in this matter and then perhaps being so judgemental as to say that MY God would be quite put out if I decapitated people in his name. I pray Allah is too, but it seems ALOT of folks think not and THAT is scary. (Michael Moore's "fear theory" be damned.)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 4:54 PM  

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i still don't think we're really disagreeing in content, perhaps only in emphasis. except, perhaps, for what Christ was getting at in His sermon on the mount passage. i'd love to hear your thoughts (or quotes) on that passage.

you write: "i am beginning to think that while changes in policy obviously need to happen, that none-the-less there IS an enemy that hates us and will continue to hate us no matter what we do"

my sense is that the causes of terrorism ARE connected to religious convictions... however, i do not think religion is a primary cause nor do i believe that we would be hated "no matter what we do".

sure, perhaps there would always exist a minority of hate groups that would want to destroy or convert us to islam no matter what... but i think the number of people angry with the US has grown and is growing as a direct result of our policies, our greed, and our increasingly dismissive foreign policy. and the troubling thing is that this growing group of people who are opposed to us now includes past friends.

if you read the language used in the fatwas issued against the US, they are quite clear. i am no fan of pat buchanan, but i was cheering this last weekend as he condemned US election rhetoric (on both sides) that would have us believe that terrorism exists because of "who we are". ie, "bin laden didn't stumble across the bill of rights in a cave in afghanistan and suddenly decide to come after us as a result..." rather, bin laden's fatwa called for attacks because of:

1. our military and political presence in saudi arabia

2. the sanctions (and now war) in iraq

3. our unconditional support of the likud party in israel, re: the palestinian conflict.

in my mind there is NO justification in any religion, in any world, in any way for the terrorist methods that we saw on 9/11, and that we saw this last weekend in beslan, and in rwanda, and cambodia, and in so many places... but christians AND muslims must not only address the religious issues at play, but ALSO the political and economic issues. if a muslim says i'm going to kill your child because you keep destroying my crops (or whatever perceived injustice), it is absurd to argue that my child was killed simply because of how much of a freedom loving christian.

i am afraid that if we cannot have a substantive political AND religious dialogue about those three policy issues in this election (and the candidates are not addressing them in any specific way), then we ignore them at our peril.

and that does NOT mean that we must suddenly give in to terrorists, condone their acts, or in ANY WAY excuse their profoundly evil methods.

lastly, one of the things that so frustrates me (Lord have mercy on me) is the human rights arguments we use when the war in iraq is collapsed with the war against terrorism. We (the human race) are right NOW facing UP TO A MILLION INNOCENT DEAD in sudan if direct action is not taken in darfur: http://www.worldrevolution.org/article/1441

this is action that we CAN take. you add that reality to the 69,000 people who die every week in africa due to the AIDS virus (while the medicine that would prevent those deaths sit on shelves in america).

this is all perhaps a tangent, but there has to be some sense of proportion and scale, no? close to 3,000 people were killed on 9/11. horribly and with unspeakable tragedy. and those 3,000 deaths have changed the course of history.

perhaps it is wrong of me, but i do not think it is inappropriate to compare those deaths with the 3,000 innocents WHO DIED EVERY DAY in the congo during their brutal civil war. with no one to tell their story, amass an army, spend hundreds of billions to avenge their deaths. the gluttony and scale and proportion of america vs. the rest of the world is just boggling. we have so much... so very much. and the reason we can even say these things is because, i think, the world IS shrinking... globalism is forcing us all to interact to the world less through *merely* nationalistic lenses, and more through simply human lenses. which is why a program like 60 minutes COULD run a story comparing the 3,000 on 911 and the 3,000 in the congo.

i think people place a certain emphais on US responsibility in the world (as opposed to merely our being 'victims' on the world scene) is because of the truth that to whom much is given (or perhaps also said -to those who take so much) much is required.

and we HAVE been given so much, we have taken so much, and as average citizens we aren't aware of the proportion or scale of what we have, or what pehaps is increasingly required being of us.

)( seraphim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 PM  

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if a muslim says i'm going to kill your child because you keep destroying my crops (or whatever perceived injustice), it is absurd to argue that my child was killed simply because of how much of a freedom loving christian. I completely agree.

What you are reading here in my posts Seraphim is someone who, I think, is coming closer to the center of the spectrum of opinions. Once I sympathized with the Palestinians and their plight and saw the Arab fighters as having a just cause because of all the bad things you mention about our country and our policies...to the point (and this is the key) that I turned a blind eye to the brutality of their methods.

But the events at Beslan and the videos of the beheadings (and other killings) leads me to reconsider deep questions that I used to answer with a simple (and YES I NOW THINK NIAVE): they are desperate beyond what I can imagine. But my goodness man, can you imagine videos of a Christian beheading an Arab being distributed throughout the US suburbs and have it be shrugged at if not praised? Is this really desperation that would willingly befall ANY people if pressed hard enough? I wonder. I think it is just as simplistic and baseless to say that THEY are evil and we are not as it is to throw up our hands and say we are ALL so evil that it doesn't matter.

So what do we do with pictures of little children dressed up with AK47's and suicide dynamite jumpsuits wearing Koranic scriptures? And what do we do with jumping, cheering, and dancing in the streets at the news of beheadings, the destruction of the Twin Towers, and the like (or around the charred and mutilated corpses of US business men)? And what do we do with the fact that the BEST an Eygptian media president can do to criticize terrorists that kill children is to say that it damages the image of Islam?

I am considering: to what extent are people being INDOCTRINATED to hate us? To use us (and Israel) as a scapegoat for ALL of their problems? History has evidence of this being a fairly effective tactic...Bush uses it even now and you believe it willingly, why not the Islamic extremists? They have a few facts regarding our foreign policy and well there you have a cause. Heck Bin Laden's hatred of American Troops on Saudi soil was based on a verse in the Koran in which they are told NOT to suffer such a thing.

Seraphim, some of these people make Bible thumping snake handlers and poison drinkers in the appalacian hills look normal. And besides, they just keep offing themselves with snake venom. And frnakly I do not see Muslim/Arab leaders doing much to dissuade them or isolate them.

Believe me brother...if there were peaceful protests in which Israeli soldiers began to massacre Palestinians who were sitting and singing "We shall overcome!" then this would all end in a matter of days. And I would cheer their cause...the righteousness of their cause. But rather I think there is a different perception of righteousness...how widespread in the Muslim community? I cannot say.

Where are the MLK and Ghandi-like leaders of the Muslim world? Am I just ignorant in thinking that they could accomplish so much more (YEA ANYTHING AT ALL!) by doing so? Oh...how I yearn for that!

Now, as to the suffering in the rest of the world? What can I say? I cannot hold MYSELF accountable to the tenets of my faith, I doubt that I can do so for secular American society. I have heard, but certainly have no numbers, that the US is by far the largest contributer to charitable causes world-wide...could we do more? No doubt...as I sit here and type on my Dell Computer hooked up to expensive high speed internet access.

The fact that the actions of the terrorists gets more attention and press time is perhaps a credit to their methodology? Are they getting what they want? Presently I am intent on saying that we ought to give them alot more than what they bargained for.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:52 PM  

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james wrote: Once I sympathized with the Palestinians and their plight and saw the Arab fighters as having a just cause because of all the bad things you mention about our country and our policies...to the point (and this is the key) that I turned a blind eye to the brutality of their methods. seraphim writes: i am not doing this, nor have i done this. we cannot afford to turn blind eyes. ie, as an example - palestinians suffer from severe corruption among their leadership. they have been failed by their leaders. many ARE manipulated and indoctrinated into suicide missions. that fact MUST be addressed. however i think when addressing these issues it is VERY important to take ALL of the relevant factors into consideration when trying to understand what is happending. re: israel/palestine, on both sides... these factors are historical, economic, religious, economic, and enormously complicated by decades of blood spilled on both sides of the fence.

one can (rightly) argue about the methods used to kill, but a dead child is a dead child. i could be wrong but i'm not sure a parent is left comforted by the fact that their child was killed by a faceless rocket from an israeli helicopter VS a terrorist bomb. in the end, they both have empty arms when they want to hold their baby.

there is something just extraordinary about having a debate about killing children. about appropriate ways to kill VS inappropriate ways to kill. in spite (or perhaps because) of our immense technological advances, our civilization is being ripped apart by this debate. on one hand, the debate itself is just extraordinarily absurd. its somehow more ok if a stray cruise missle kills a little girl, but its not if a terrorist does it. i dont understand either case.


james wrote: can you imagine videos of a Christian beheading an Arab being distributed throughout the US suburbs and have it be shrugged at if not praised? Is this really desperation that would willingly befall ANY people if pressed hard enough? seraphim writes: indeed. let me make a gross overgeneralization. americans have so little perspective. we're fat, lazy, ignorant of world politics, unaware of how our policies have shaped other countries, ridden with cheap guilt, and entertaining and comforting ourselves to spiritual death.

james wrote: to what extent are people being INDOCTRINATED to hate us? To use us (and Israel) as a scapegoat for ALL of their problems? seraphim writes: of course people are being indoctrinated. its not equivalent in terms of scale, but it happens on both sides. ie, i feel the bush rhetoric about the war is profoundly false and propagandistically indoctrinating. not the same thing, however, as the promise of 72 virgins and paradise if i go blow up israelies. (by the way, where DO those 72 virgins come from? what did THEY do to deserve eternity with a terrorist??!! and does a female bomber get 72 male virgins??)

james writes: And frankly I do not see Muslim/Arab leaders doing much to dissuade them or isolate them.seraphim writes: indeed. i agree that the muslim community MUST address this. i think they are. i dont think we have much access to how or where. after 9/11 i once put together and moderated a panel discussion of muslim leaders in seattle. they were unambiguous about how important it is that muslims address the issues of terrorism. i do not think, however, they can address those issues in a vaccuum. in fact they CANT address those issue without also addressing policy and economics on both sides.

james writes: Believe me brother...if there were peaceful protests in which Israeli soldiers began to massacre Palestinians who were sitting and singing "We shall overcome!" then this would all end in a matter of days.seraphim writes: i'm not so sure. certainly not immediately. in many ways, re: palestine, i think the issue is also a jordanian issue. 70% of jordan's population is palestine. complicates things. but bottom line... both sides have to give. israel cannot have both peace AND occupation AND growing the settlements.

james writes: have heard, but certainly have no numbers, that the US is by far the largest contributer to charitable causes world-wide...seraphim writes: i've seen conflicting stats. it depends on methodology and measures. latest stat i saw put us at 22%.

james writes: Are they getting what they want? Presently I am intent on saying that we ought to give them alot more than what they bargained for.and so does vladimir putin! have you read his recent comments?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:59 PM  

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i am not doing this, nor have i done this Oh yes...please don't think that I thought or assumed you did. But I did...and what I have seen lately has given me a good deal of pause.

No doubt that a parent left childless (regardless of how) is an awful thing. But the issue I am looking at is besides that fact: the motive of the killer and the extent of precautions that the killer took to avoid non-combatant casualties. Legally we have homocide and then we have mansluaghter...I think one might argue that America is guilty of manslaughter and the terrorists are guilty of murder. But as you say, in the end, death results. As you note, it is ALWAYS inappropriate to kill children, but I would contend it is even MORE inappropriate to intentionally target them.

I am of the (admittedly potentially worthless) opinion that if we were to spend as much money as we have spent on smart bombs and cruise missles in Iraq on INTELLIGENCE and COVERT operations then maybe we'd never again have a Beslan or a WTC.

I still think invading Iraq was a real blunder...so do not fret too much my Anti-Bush friends. One "good" thing that can be said about it though: it has given the terrorists a rather American-rich target right in their backyard and has no doubt taken the heat off the potential for terrorism here at home. (Not much of a comfort for those wearing a uniform or for civilians crazy enough to do business in Iraq - hmmm...having said that one wonders if the terrorists aren't being succesful.)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 7:43 AM  

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re: anti-american hatred, a must-read article:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2670&print=1

)( seraphim

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 AM  

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Would we know the terrorist's methods, would we even know they have a cause, if they did not use such brutal tactics?

I wouldn't.

By Blogger Laura, at 6:41 PM  

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Laura,

Would we have known that Martin Luther King had a cause if he hadn't used terrorism? Oh, wait a minute, he didn't use terrorism did he?

I wholly reject that terrorism is the only way for them...rather quite the opposite I think it is the stupidest and most fool-hardy way to have their cause fail. It does NOTHING but solidify their oppressors resolve by seemingly putting them on a moral high ground and by that same token gives to world pause in helping that cause.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 8:14 AM  

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