A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Some Thoughts

I was looking at the Southern Baptist website and they had a piece on how Bush is a great evangelical president because he has increased room for evangelism around the world.

Yet on the same site is a piece on how Bush's state department has declared Vietnam ok in terms religious freedom, much to the consternation of evangelical groups. They also should have included how many Christians have fled Iraq since the advent of the war.

In this same article Bush is lauded for the war on terror. Of course no word is mentioned concerning torture, or illegal spying or the loss of civil liberties. Only that he was right to see foreign policy as a war between good and evil. Is this actually Christian?

I always thought this was Manichaeism. Christian faith points to the recognition of the pervasiveness of sin, even in ourselves. The good evil dichotomy doesn't describe our world and may obscure our own guilt and our own judgment before God.


At 12:28 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

It is insufficiently transcendent to be Christian.

Christianity is not about a table of check-boxes on various issues, nor is God God only of one nation.

At 11:13 AM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

Iraq's Communist Minister of Science and Technology: Raïd Fahmi; gave an interview to the French Communist Party paper l’Humanité.

He explains his governments accomplishments. Read it and I think you'll find President Bush and the Iraqi Communist party pretty close in viewpoints. Note Fahmi says the US is talking about withdrawel in one and half years while he suggests three.... Fahmi's closing worth repeating here.. we should let opposition to war turn into support for tyranny,

What we need, is for those who support the independence of Iraq, and this country’s development, wherever they may be in the world, to express their solidarity for those who are fighting for these objectives. Unfortunately, stances have been taken by some of these forces which play in favor of political currents which are opposed to democracy. On the one hand, they talk about democracy and secularism, but in fact, they take positions which weaken, rather than reinforce the democratic and progressive trends in the country.

At 11:15 AM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

...so I'm more at home with Iraqi Communists and Southern Baptists then I am with some so called Liberals who when you get down to it don't act very Liberal.

At 12:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dwight:
I'm a Disciple of Christ pastor/professor teaching in a United Methodist Seminary. Here's a piece that a colleague and I published in our campus newspaper. I hope you will comment on this issue in your blog. The recent elections make the Bush Presidential Library all the more unattractive for our campus.

The George W. Bush Library: Asset or Albatross?

For some time administrators and trustees of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, have pursued the George W. Bush Presidential Library, competing with close contenders, especially Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

As faculty members, we respect SMU’s present leaders and their remarkable achievements. At the same time, we want to raise questions we regard as healthy for public conversation. While herein we speak for ourselves, we know that virtually the entire SMU faculty resents and does not support the prospective Library. Just what does it mean when an administration ignores its greatest asset: the abiding loyalty of its own faculty?

Some say a presidential library is not about the specific policies and practices of a given administration, or about the outcomes and consequences of those policies. Rather the issue is said to be the provision of a permanent historical repository for presidential papers, documents, and artifacts. Presumably such a library becomes a prestigious center where scholars, historians, and interested citizens can study, participate in programs, and conduct serious research and inquiry. This is to say nothing of enhancing area tourism and thus the local economy.

In spite of these expectations held by some, we are concerned with short and long term implications of the prospective library for the city of Dallas and the University alike.

Much has been said and written about Dallas becoming a world-class city of charm and culture, attractive to domestic and international tourists. At this very moment, the Dallas Arts District is coming further alive with new facilities that will enhance the city as a respected center for the performing arts; exciting and extensive downtown revitalization is underway.

Given the extent to which the vast majority of the world resents and resists the Bush administration, we believe the library will be a step backwards in terms of international respect for the city and the university. Does the city really want in its midst a throwback to the mentality of U.S. Manifest Destiny in a world that so desperately needs global cooperation?

On another note, we wonder if it is prudent for a university to situate on its campus a symbolic magnet for would-be international terrorists or small-time Timothy McVeigh copycats. Because of intense global disdain of Bush, this library may never enjoy respect equal to that for other presidential libraries, besides being an ongoing security risk to the campus and surrounding neighborhood.

The Bush library raises additional ethical issues. What does it mean for universities bidding for a particular presidential library to claim that the outcomes of a given administration are inconsequential to the value of that library for their campus?

What does it mean ethically for SMU trustees to say that a pre-emptive war based on false premises and destined to cost more American lives in Iraq than 9-11 is beside the point?

What moral justification supports providing a haven for environmental predation and outright denial of global warming, for shameful exploitation of gay rights, along with the most critical erosion of habeas corpus in memory? Given the secrecy of the Bush administration and its virtual refusal to engage with those holding contrary opinions, how can there possibly be any confidence in the selection of presidential papers turned over to the library? Our conviction is that these ethical issues transcend partisan politics.

SMU does not need a presidential library in order to host renowned scholars and events whose purpose is to analyze the Bush legacy. The University already has the prestigious Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility which sponsors first-rate conferences on key issues and promotes ethical inquiry into complex contemporary concerns.

Asset or albatross? The question deserves open debate and dialogue among residents of Dallas; faculty, staff, students, and alumni of SMU; and others—far and near--who love Dallas and the University. Democratic and academic principles alike will be well-served, regardless of the outcome of such dialogue.

Please convey your opinion to: mjj@mail.smu.edu (President Turner)or rblair@mail.smu.edu (President of the University Senate).

William McElvaney is Professor Emeritus of Preaching and Worship at SMU, and Susanne Johnson is Associate Professor of Christian Education.

Permission given to publish email addresses.

William McElvaney
12367 Montego Plaza
Dallas, Texas 75230-1721

Susanne Johnson
1916 Moortown Drive
Plano, Texas 75025


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