October 30, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, July 19, 2014. World News Edition

MH17

Two huge news stories dominated our attention this week, and so we will forgo our usual Ramblings today to give opportunity for the Internet Monk community to discuss these events.

  • Malaysia Flight 17 was cruising at 33,000 feet over Ukraine, more than half a mile higher than Mt. Everest, when a rocket hit it July 17, killing all 298 aboard. U.S. President Obama said the plane “was shot down” Thursday by a surface-to-air missile fired from separatist territory in the country that has been beset by escalating violence. The president called the act “an outrage of unspeakable proportions.” An international inquiry is being organized, and investigators have been struggling to reach the wreckage and bodies strewn across fields of wheat and sunflowers in separatist-held territory.
  • gaza_81454Israel launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip this week, the first significant incursion into Gaza since 2009. As of this report, more than 290 Palestinians, including dozens of children, and two Israelis have been killed since fighting intensified last week, and more than 52 Gazans have died since the ground offensive began, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Qedra.

These tragic events have awakened us afresh to the fragile state of peace in our world today. How should the community that follows Jesus think about these things? How should we respond? How should we pray?

These are the topics for today. More serious than usual for a Saturday, but this has been no ordinary week.

Comments

  1. Mankind is lost and without hope, save through Christ. I one side more justified than the other? Are both sides right or are both side wrong? Advocating for one group over another because of supposed “oppression” is a fools game when neither side are “in Christ”. Both sides are doomed to perdition so no matter WHICH group we choose to champion we do so out of our OWN thoughts of what is right. The world is lost. All we can do is to pray for God’s Kindom to come…and QUICKLY!

    • Christiane says:

      if innocent people are being slaughtered, then it is right to speak out against it, and to do (or try to do) what is right even when no one else around you is with you on this

      as long as there is still even one person in the world who carries Christ’s compassion to others, the world is not totally lost

      • When people chose a side that advocates the death of others then they are not innocent, they are complicit. When their wives (because it is always MEN who make these decisions) assent to the decisions of their husbands then they are not innocent. But when children die because of adult decisions then their parents who made and assent to those decisions, those parents are doubly guilty of blood crimes.

        When a people know that their decisions to defend themselves will result in the death of actual noncombatants then they bear the guilt of their actions. When they DO take actions, knowing that some of their past decisions may have facilitated the pressing need to take the present violent actions then they must bear the responsibilty of the death of noncombatants.

        When any side rejoices in the death of their adversaries then they are guilty of blood lust. When they pass out candies when innocent young people are kidnapped and executed then that people are not innocent.

        When ANY people forsake reasoning together in favor of war, because war is easier than giving up a cherished political or religious position, then those people are not innocent.

        So you see, Christiane, it is difficult to find true “innocents” in either case. I suspect I know your views in one of those wars, but you need to take a step back from emotion and see that even those that the media show displaying grief over lost life may have been complicit in the very deaths that they are mourning. The death of A NY person is a tragedy because then they have no chance of salvation, but when Jesus said “They that take up the sword will die by the sword” He wasn’t just making a rhetorical point.

        • Robert F says:

          I do agree with a lot you say here, oscar, and my own views continue to develop and change.

          Bringing down an passenger jet without any apparent provocation would need a lot of explaining for anything like a justification to be established, and no one has started to explain that one yet; the invasion of the Gaza Strip, however, has a wide and well-known context, the most immediate element of which was the missile bombardment reaching into the heart of Israel, a bombardment launched from the Gaza Strip.

          Using your ethical rubric, those who launched the first-strike bombardment bear as much, or more, responsibility for the ensuing casualties on both sides as the invaders, and I believe that this is one of the same ethical rubrics employed by the international community (the UN?) to distinguish “legitimate” warfare that claims non-combatant from acts of terror.

          But my intention is not to go down the way of partisan politics; I’m just agreeing with you that, by sober and reasonable standards, there is more than enough guilt to go around.

    • Robert F says:

      oscar, I think I understand what you’re saying, but it strikes me that an uninvolved, contemporary observer could have said the same thing about the American Revolutionary War. But you would, nonetheless, have found yourself on one side or the other of the issues involved if you had been living in the colonies at the the time, whether you were Christian or not, whether you were “in Christ” or not. What would you say to those Christians caught in the midst of the current struggle (there are some, you know), who seemingly have no choice but to take a position, and do not have the luxury of safe distance to merely be observers?

      • Robert, when I speak of “taking a position” I’m not meaning just mental assent but an active, vocal position, even advocacy, becoming an intellectual party to the conflict, if not an actual combatant. Do you thing that any Hamas member is a Christian? Are any of them rejoicing over the death of their opponents? Are they giving material support to those seeking the death of their opponents?

        How many Christians are actually in the Gaza Strip? Very few, and less and less as time goes on. They are being driven out because they are increasingly pressured by the Muslim society to conform to, and to assent to, the brand of Islam practiced there.

        And what about Christians in Israel? What are their attitudes? Honestly, I do not know because they are so few and the media does not concern itself with them. I DO know, though, that there ARE Israelis who are against the war.

        As for the American Revolution, that was another time and, really, another country and people. That’s just too much for me to think on this morning.

        • I was in Israel one month ago, just before the fighting started. It was while the three Israeli kids, whose bodies were later found, were still considered “missing.” I unwittingly stumbled upon a massive prayer gathering at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Thousands upon thousands were praying for the safe return of the three boys. My Hebrew is quite limited, but from what I could pick up, as well as the emotion neon expressed around me, there was no expression of vengeance or desire for retaliation. Lots has happened since then.

          I shudder when I realize that many rockets being fired by Hamas would land in the urban centers of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, both places I visited, if not for the Israeli missile defense system. Innocents are clearly being targeted.

          And I shudder when I realize that I was not privy to see the settlements where many Palestinians live, with their utter lack of resources.

          I dialogued with Jews, Muslims, and Christians on my trip. Most of the regular folks I talked to desire peace and wanted to get on with their lives, while acknowledging unfair conditions for other peaceful people. Many were concerned about violent escalation due to the missing boys. Their concerns were unfortunately valid.

          Here is a photo of the prayer gathering I described:
          http://instagram.com/p/pWiQz1m7BM/?modal=true

    • “All we can do is to pray for God’s Kindom to come…and QUICKLY!”

      Hopefully, we can embody it.

      The church’s ‘reconciled’ identity is (should be) a banner on the hilltop that both condemns the ways of the world around it, judges the world it according the cross, and invites those in the world to Christ. This is not the same thing as “they’re all gonna burn” type of attitude that you seem to have here.

      The Kingdom is here and the Kingdom will come in many ways before the parousia. That’s an opportunity to, if not fix the world’s problems, to embody the alternative in the midst of the world. This is not championing a side in the conflict, but it’s also not a withdrawal from it.

      • Nate, I resent the fact that you portrayed my comments as “they’re all gonna burn”. I did NOT say that, I did NOT imply that, but I DID say that they are lost without Christ and are in imminent danger of perdition. That is just a fact unless, that is, you are a universalist, which I don’t believe you are.

  2. Vega Magnus says:

    Nothing will come of any of it. No one will do anything about Russia and the whole Israel thing will end with dead people and the same situation as before.

    • Surd evil?

      • Vega Magnus says:

        It’s just the way the political situation has turned out. No one wants to anger Russia too much because of the huge influence they have over energy in Europe and because they could feasibly go nuclear if they wanted to. And in Israel, it isn’t really the sort of situation that can be solved through international influence given the history between the two sides, and quite frankly, I don’t know that the two sides really WANT to solve anything.

        • Regretfully, I share your bleak assessment of the situation. There’s not a blessed thing any of us can do – one’s prayers often seem futile as the only response is silence.

        • Vega, it would be so much simpler to dismiss everything by saying “I don’t know that the two sides really WANT to solve anything.” if it were true. Each peace overture that has been made has been signed on by Israel, only to be sabotaged by some act of violence. One side wants to just live in peace, the other wants to do the same but only if their opponent disappears from the Levant.

  3. Jacob C says:

    Our modern day savages don’t have spears – they have missiles with which to shoot down civilian airliners. Such is the measure of our “progress.”

    • Makes you wonder if that big red “RESET” button was mistaken for a big red “LAUNCH” button.

    • “Our modern day savages don’t have spears – they have missiles with which to shoot down civilian airliners. Such is the measure of our “progress.”

      Yes….OR….they use drones more and more….to murder others, all too often innocents (collateral damage?), without any declaration of war and without ‘due process’…..yet….they decry someone ELSE who uses similar missiles to kill OTHER innocents. Can anyone spell HYPOCRISY? (referring specifically to your ‘commander-in-chief’ under whose leadership the use of drones for ‘extrajudicial killings’ (murder without due process) has increased exponentially.

      The entire situation is utterly sad…..and maybe ultimately insolvable.

  4. A couple of things:

    1. The president condemns the use of missiles to kill innocent civilians. Hmmm… Can you hear the irony screaming?

    2. Christian involvement or complicity in this sort of thing: for example, Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s child, is becoming a seminary of unmanned aircraft (drone) technology. WATCH this story.

    • Robert F says:

      “.. The president condemns the use of missiles to kill innocent civilians. Hmmm… Can you hear the irony screaming? ”

      Let he who is without sin cast the first drone….I mean, stone…

    • Missiles that are meant to harm ONLY civilians? Be more thorough in your propositions.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

        Current evidence indicates that the airliner was shot down because separatist rebels thought it was a military aircraft.

      • Robert F says:

        My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that drones kill a disproportionately high percentage of non-combatants compared with forms of conventional long distance warfare, like missiles, etc., though obviously the real numbers are smaller, since drones have a much tighter targeting circumference.

        The other significant question about drone attacks is whether they are really a form of “legitimate” warfare waged by a recognized state rather than simply assassinations for political ends, which would make them similar to terrorism. Assassinations are ethically very problematic and murky, because they involve secrecy from beginning to end, at the level of espionage, and those who order their execution are by the nature of the beast unaccountable to significant review. How do we know the targets are really insurgents or terrorists? We simply have to take the administration’s word for it, though there supposedly is what seems to be a merely formal process of judicial review involved.

        The whole thing is done under cloak of secret, and the American public really has no idea, nor does it seem to want to have any idea, about the scale of the drone assassination program. This is troubling.

        • Robert F says:

          Also, doesn’t the violation of the airspace of sovereign nations involved in drone strikes constitute an act of war against those nations? Of course, the nations that the U.S. launches drone attacks against are unwilling and/or unable to do anything about it, but can you imagine what our response would be if such a drone attack was launched against us? You have only to think about how the U.S. responded in the aftermath of 911, because we were willing and able.

        • Robert, for the record I was referring to the use of rockets by Hamas.

          • And I was referring to the use of rockets [missiles, drones, cluster bombs, land mines] by the United States.

      • Last time I checked….missiles don’t care WHO they kill, IF you’re in the ‘kill zone’….you’re DEAD….and all the “We didn’t mean to”‘s in the world won’t undo the reality.

    • Lib. University sees the growth of drone technology to be in the civilian industry (per the article at the link provided by Anon). Albeit, over 90% of drone technology is military and I doubt LU has much of a problem with that.

  5. 1. Great point
    2. Can you provide a source?

  6. Mule Can Pray says:

    Lord, grant peace to the places of the world that are war-torn. Peace, especially to the Ukraine and between Israel and Palestine. Grant peace to Syria, to Iraq, to Ukraine, between India and Pakistan, in Korea, and anywhere men take up arms against each other.

    Lord, halt the vulture-like trade in arms which prospers regardless of the parties involved. Frustrate their plans. Let orders be lost and misdirected.

    Lord, forgive us our participation in this ghoulish dance. Forgive our partisan passions which, if nourished sufficiently, can erupt in violence as easliy as anything we witness on the television screens.

    Through the prayers of your holy mother, who herself experienced the pain of exile due to political violence, have mercy on us save us, for you are a good God who inexplicably loves mankind.

    • Damaris says:

      Amen.

    • William Martin says:

      Lord be with those that are hurting. Please help heal the hearts of those who think violence can move things to better the world. Send those who can bring your presence to those that grieve and are not looking to you. Help us to move in love and dare to be the generation to move in the radical ways of love. Help us to remember which Kingdom we want to live in putting aside our differences to the preference of others. Those that think the things of this world are more important than the beauty of life please open there eyes to see a forever love and how important we all are. Healthier hearts Lord. ( Heal thier) Your Kingdom come Your will be done and help us to move in that way.

    • Yes! And let us also pray ” And, Father, help us to see that our own partisan musings are not the same as your righteousness and mercy, for we cannot see the end from the beginning. Give us hearts of compassion towards ALL peoples involved who need YOUR peace, the Peace that passes understanding.”

    • Josh in FW says:

      Amen

  7. My first prayer is that the violence would end and that men would grow up and learn to sit down with enemies and talk themselves to a resolution.

    My second prayer is that the church, especially the american one, would open its eyes and try to look at these situations with a little more objectivity… particularly the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. (Here’s where i may be less objective than I should be) but the willful ignorance and lack of compassion fueled by woeful interpretations of the Bible and twisted eschatology is appalling.
    But I find it hard to be objective like I should, because those surrounding me have so completely chosen one side that when I dare question that, it feels and looks like I’ve chosen to stand completely with the other side…which is exactly what I don’t want to do.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > the willful ignorance and lack of compassion fueled by woeful
      > interpretations of the Bible and twisted eschatology is appalling.

      Ditto

      I can’t do anything at all about these conflicts; the only barely substantive contribution I can make is to tell the apocalypse-fanboys that they are ignorant and sick, whenever they give me the chance.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …but the willful ignorance and lack of compassion fueled by woeful interpretations of the Bible and twisted eschatology is appalling.

      That’s the first thing I thought when I read the Ramblings, but I put it in a LOT blunter terms:
      “The End Time Prophecy fanboys are smacking their lips with glee — “It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        P.S. I wonder if we’re going to see a return of “Christians For Nuclear War”?

        Threatening America with Thermonuclear Destruction for our sins-du-jour was big bank on Christian AM radio during the heyday of Hal Lindsay. “If you can’t love ‘em into the Kingdom, SCARE ‘EM INTO THE KINGDOM!”

    • Andrew…..precisely!

  8. dumb ox says:

    Lord God,
    your own Son was delivered into the hands of the wicked,
    yet he prayed for his persecutors
    and overcame hatred with the blood of the Cross.
    Relive the sufferings of the innocent victims of war;
    grant them peace of mind, healing of body,
    and a renewed faith in your protection and care.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.

    [Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]
    http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1457

  9. On days like this I’m reminded of the 1974 song — exactly 40 years ago — by the Chi-Lites:
    There Will Never Be Any Peace Until God is Seated at the Conference Table.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqtfR5TBhL0

    (The song also had a CCM cover by The Imperials.)

  10. 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6.1-8)

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17.9)

    19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15.19)

    15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3.15-16)

    In other words, “Total Depravity.”

    • petrushkasrib says:

      He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;
      and what doth the Lord require of thee,
      but to do justly, and to love mercy,
      and to walk humbly with thy God? — Micah 6:8

  11. So far, the world situation seems to be tracking the Revelation prediction. The anti-Christ is upon us.

  12. Josh in FW says:

    This political cartoon is a good commentary on the situation: http://www.economist.com/news/world-week/21607883-kals-cartoon?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/kal/jul19

  13. david brainerd says:

    I bet Obama himself shot the plane down (i.e. had the CIA do it) to justify starting a war with Russia.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You (probably) meant that as a joke, but there’s a True Believer out there who’ll be proposing the exact same scenario as a Dead Serious Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory.

      • david brainerd says:

        It would explain what happened to the first lost Malaysian flight a few months back. That was his test run to see if he could do it without getting caught. :)

    • Jacob C says:

      I keep having a harder and harder time figuring out where the rightwing conspiracy nuts end and the leftwing conspiracy nuts begun.

  14. Dana Ames says:

    In other news from the Middle East, the dhimmi status, in place for 1000 years in the old caliphate and under the Ottomans – and under which there were countless Christian martyrs – has returned… but of course not reported in the news media in the US.

    http://www.dw.de/islamic-ultimatum-to-christians-in-iraq-northern-city/a-17795408

    Lord, have mercy on those who are suffering.

    Dana

    • Dana Ames says:

      I heard one sentence about this on NPR this morning, in a report by Sylvia Poggioli about what the Pope had to say about the situation in the Middle East.

      D.

  15. Christiane says:

    trying to remember where I read that Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, once said that when those who warred with Israel loved the lives of their own children more than they loved vengeance, then the killing would stop.

    how sad that this current round of fighting was predicated on the hideous murders of three Israeli youth and one Palestinian boy . . .

    if those four boys had a voice still on this Earth, one wonders what they would say to all of us, and one wonders even more if we would listen