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Letter to the President

Just yesterday I became aware of a “letter” written from Brian McLaren to President Obama about Afghanistan. I read it and for the most part I really agreed with the sentiment that Brian was trying to get across. I thought I would include the letter here on this blog for people to read and leave comments about their thoughts on this “letter”
Dear President Obama … (an open letter on Afghanistan)

I am a loyal supporter of your presidency. I worked hard in the campaign and have never been as proud of my country as I was when we elected you.

I’m writing to ask you to find another way ahead in Afghanistan. I wrote a similar letter to President Bush when he was preparing for war in Iraq.

I believe now, as you and I both did then, that war is not the answer. Violence breeds violence, and as Dr. King said, you can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. As the apostle Paul said, evil must be overcome with good, which means that violence and hate must be overcome with justice and love, not more of the same.

Obviously, you know things the rest of us don’t know. And you have pressures and responsibilities the rest of us don’t have. But we have based our lives on the moral principles that guided leaders like Dr. King, Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela. We share a profound faith in a loving, non-violent God. We share a commitment to live in the way of Jesus the peacemaker. That’s why escalation is not a change we can believe in.

I don’t argue for leaving Afghanistan high and dry as we’ve done too often in the past. Evil can’t be overcome by passivity or abdication, but only by positive good and creative action. In that spirit, I offer this humble proposal:

1. Take the 65 billion we would have spent there in the coming year and turn it into an aid and development fund. If you want to go farther, you could put a value on the cost of American lives that would be lost there (I have no idea how this inestimable cost could be calculated), and add that sum to the fund. 65 billion could build a lot of peace-oriented schools and hospitals in Afghanistan. It could serve as start-up capital for a lot of new businesses and it could pave a lot of roads. It could train a lot of police officers and it could enhance a lot of social infrastructure. It could give hope to a lot of women and girls who currently don’t have much hope, and it could provide a lot of constructive outlets for men and boys who right now don’t have many options besides picking up a machine gun and joining a warlord.

2. Other nations might contribute to this fund as well, and the fund could be extended into the future based on the number of years our military would have been engaged in Afghanistan. The fund could be administered by the US, or better (in the spirit of international cooperation), an IAEC-like agency could be created, subsidiary to the United Nations, to monitor progress in Afghanistan.

3. Then a set of benchmarks could be set, and the money could be released for development in Afghanistan as the nation reached appropriate benchmarks. This fund would be an enticement to mobilize public opinion in the direction of peace and justice, as people would know that their lives could be substantially improved if their factionalized leaders would start collaborating nonviolently for the common good.

4. With this kind of approach, the people of Afghanistan (and Pakistan) would have two clear choices. Al Queda and other extremists offer violence and unrest. But the international community would be offering support for order, rebuilding, collaboration, justice, and peace. This choice is a much clearer and better one than the choice between two groups of leaders who both depend on violence to achieve their aims.

5. Conservatives could support this kind of approach because it emphasizes personal choice and responsibility among the Afghan people. It would come alongside them in their own nation-building efforts at their own best pace, rather than trying to impose our own nation-building on them at a pace we determine. Progressives could support this approach because it changes the role of the US in the global neighborhood – from reactive bully or intentional dominator to responsible neighbor and partner for the common good.

Mr. President, you have my respect and my prayers at this important time. I believe you have the intelligence and insight to find a creative way to use a new kind of force in the world … something far more powerful than bombs, guns, and bullets: the generative force of creativity, of justice, of collaboration, and yes, of hope. Can we find a new and better way to help Afghanistan rise out of chaos and complicity with Al Queda? You know the answer many of us will shout and chant: yes, we can.

With respect and hope,
A citizen

For me the part that I llike the most is part 1, taking the money that we would spend on the military and instead use it for development and aid. If we take the money and bless people with it, in a way it takes the legs right out from under the violent regimes. And people in those countries view Americans through a different lens…one that is about blessing, sharing and love. I would love to hear your comments on the open letter to the President.


Where the rubber hits the road…

For the past few weeks, I have asked participants at Community of Joy to keep their eyes open and take notice of the needs they see in our community; ways we can bless others.

Yesterday in both worship gatherings, we brainstormed a list after a sermon on the call of Jesus to love our neighbors. Here are the results. I am inviting the congregation to do two things with this list. 1. Pray over it asking God where they individually would best make an impact. and 2. Come to the carry-in on Sunday @ 12 noon prepared to share where they feel God leading them to get involved. We will need team leaders and team members. I am aware that we can not do the whole list at once…. but I want us to start moving out into our community to bless them with God’s love.

The list…

+ Get involved with Habitat for Humanity locally (perhaps choose a Saturday a month to send a team to work)
+ Parnter with Pinehurst Elementary School (it’s in our neighborhood) A person who works at the Bd of Ed immediately volunteered to talk to the Principal there to ascertain the needs.
+ visit homeless in their environment
+ Install a new bathroom floor for a handicapped sister – have team members need team leader.
+ Visit Shut ins
+ develop support systems for neighbors or others who are going through illness/ or elderly (run errands)
+ mentor children in public schools
+develop a day center for helping our homeless brothers and sisters break the cycle.
+develop a support network for folks who lost jobs
+ develop a support network for persons about to loose or having lost homes
+develop a SU type “Big Event” where we solicit work projects from our neighbors and participants
+ promote “eco-justice” issues — care of environment
+ help a handicapped sister with mowing, yard work

The list is not complete… it can be added to as they see needs.

Just thought I’d share how we are working at being more missional.


Regarding SAFE Churches

Near the end of his book, Organic Leadership, Neil Cole writes… “We often approach church and ministry with a theology of SAFE.

Self-preservation = our mission
Avoidance of the world and risk = wisdom
Financial security = responsible faith
Education = maturity

Interesting thought!

NOW compare this to Neil’s theology of Death….

“Perhaps it is time we embrace a theology of death.

Dying daily to who we are
Empowering others (not self) as our life
Accepting risk as normative
Theology as not just knowledge but practice
Holding tight to christ and having an open hand with all else that we posess


I HATE Altar Calls….

I have long hated altar calls… since a boy in growing up in church… they seem so manipulative. And frankly, I don’t think they work anymore these days. In fact, let me say that stronger… they DON’T work!

Here’s why I say that so strongly… three weeks ago on Feb 22, I offered an altar call in both of our worship gatherings… NO response. None… Nada… Zip! Then the very next Sunday – March 1, I introduced a response card in each bulletin. I got 7 responses that day from people wanting to commit their lives to Christ, be baptized, and/or join the church. The very next week, I got 3 responses.

Go figure!

I think the day of the altar call in USAmerica is over!



A growing movement

Here is a link to a growing movement that some might be interested in.

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