My atheist buddy Peter (who long-time readers might remember as Theomorph) has provided a lot of food for thought recently. I’d like to know what my theist readers think of his ruminations.
I really don't have anything new to say about the Muslim anger over what Benedict said; I will merely reiterate that he cited one dialogue between an Emporer and a Muslim that touched on the nature of God and reason, and that he did not try to make that Muslim a representation of all of Islam. For the best (from what I've seen) source on what the Pope really meant, go here. (HT: Amy Welborn)
Now as fun as it is to pontificate on faith and reason, and the clash of civilizations or lack thereof, Christians in the Middle East and North Africa have been sorely pressed for a long time, and if it wasn't this statement of Benedict that sparked the current round of church-burnings and shootings, it would have been something else in the near future.
I urge you to support groups like CNEWA or Aid to the Church in Need; I know from personal experience that you can set up monthly automatic donations with CNEWA (either a general donation or a specific sponsorship of a child, seminarian or novice religious).
Importantly, CNEWA also helps education Americans about the Eastern Churches–it may be surprising to many Republicans that some Palestinians are Christian, and they are getting the greasy end of the stick from Muslim and Israeli alike.
CNEWA's ecumenical outreaches may mean that they'll be helping the Orthodox Palestinians rebuild their churches that were damaged in this most recent outbreak of violence.
September 11, 2001 was indeed a sad and tragic day that will haunt Americans for years to come. I mourn the loss of life and my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. However, I cannot and will not jump on the rah-rah "Let's Roll" bandwagon of melodrama mixed with hawkish propaganda.
If the lives of ~3000 who died at the hands of terrorist scum mean so much to us, why aren't we doing anything in Darfur, Sudan where tens – perhaps even hundreds – of thousands of people have died, are dying, and will die at the hands of genocidal scum? If we're so gung-ho about kicking Evil's ass, why didn't we do it in Congo , where millions died – not by a swift crash, explosion, or building collapse, but by starvation?
“He’d done it [created WMD] before,” Cheney said. “He had produced chemical weapons before and used them. He had produced biological weapons. He had a robust nuclear program in ’91.”
The U.S. invasion “was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing,” he said.
In other words, even if the intelligence had indicated no WMD, it would have been right to invade anyhow. As Rob points out, such a statement casts doubt on Bush’s sincerity when he claimed to be pursuing every diplomatic option to avoid war. Does it also make the way unjust? Did we have sufficient moral reason or obligation to depose Hussein? John Paul II didn’t seem to think so, even before the intelligence was found to be faulty. What do you think?
Earlier, Funky explored Pius XII’s comments on family size. However, one thing that seems to come up frequently when discussing the idea of having large families is how to reconcile a large family with preserving the earth for future generations and caring for God’s creation. As I have said in the past, I think the problem lies in the impact per person rather than the number of people. If total impact on the environment = (number of people) * (impact per person), then by reducing the impact per person significantly enough, the environment can sustain more people. As Earth day fast approaches, I found it a fitting time to suggest 10 simple ways that each of us can help decrease the impact per person:
1. Eat less animal products. Now, I’m not insisting that everyone go hardcore vegan, but if you eat animal products twice a day, try once a day. If you eat them once a day, try once a week.
2. Eat more organic. All the pesticides and hormones that can go into food production have a negative impact on the environment, particularly in terms of water pollution.
3. Carpool/take public transport/bike/walk more.
4. Recycle and buy things with post consumer content.
5. Bring your own bags when you shop.
6. Buy in bulk and with as little packaging as possible.
7. Buy locally grown food and produced products.
8. Buy reusable items with as little processing as possible.
9. Open the windows instead of using the a/c.
10. Next time you purchase a car, buy one as fuel efficient as possible.
This list is not even close to exhaustive but a starting point. Please add your own in the comments section. Also, please talk these and other ideas up to as many people as possible so that it’s not just us tree huggers talking. We tend to get tuned out.