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The current Israel-Gaza conflict

I’m surprised that our blog hasn’t featured much (if any) discussion regarding the current troubles in Gaza (though we are being assured of a ceasefire by Israeli leadership).  I have rather strong views in opposition to the many of the actions of Israel (both presently and in the past), but I understand that as a group of people the Israelis desire a place to call their own (understandably so) and many of their surrounding countries would have them stripped of self-governance (if not even wiped out entirely).   I am certain that great deal of heated discussion would follow if I listed out my criticisms both of Israel and the various Palestinian groups who oppose them, but in this time of intense suffering I desire to write a prayer—something we’ve yet to do on this blog—and I hope it is not out of bounds.

God, the holy creator and sustainer of all things in this universe, we ask that you would exercise your will, particularly with regard to peace and the preservation of life on this planet.  We know that the tensions of war and strife are part of our lot as a result of disobedience, but we also know that you are abounding in grace and love.  Please guide the leadership of these conflicting peoples and—though this seems a near impossible task given the state of affairs in the Middle East—provide a lasting peace.  As a result of this current crisis we ask that you would please heal those who have been injured, provide shelter for those who have been displaced, and provide comfort for those who have lost their loved ones.  We boldly ask that this world would be transformed by the immense power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit.   Use us to pray and provide practical assistance in this situation.  Give us wisdom to see where we can work for your kingdom.  In all of these things may you be glorified.  Amen.

Who neither believes that war is tragic nor peace beautiful?

W.

This is my [hopefully not too] awkward first post.  While I’d like to write about the Gospel or something more strictly theological (since politics have been invading every facet of American existence for the past 21 months…maybe with the exception of the rural South), I am choosing to write about the current American President, George W. Bush.

Comedic persona Neil Hamburger (one of the most inappropriate comedians I’ve ever heard) once told a joke during a stand-up routine that went about like this:

“Hey, is it just me?  Is it just me or is George Bush the worst president in the history of the United States, huh, am I right?”  The anti-Bush crowd during this routine–not unlike the national crowd, which according to at least one poll is composed of 70% of Americans–cheered at this rhetorical question.  Hamburger continued,
“Which makes it all the harder to understand why his son, George W. Bush, is in fact the best president we’ve ever had.”  This punchline was followed by a wave of “boos” from the displeased crowd.

It seems possible that we live in a “post-Bush” culture, one that ignores the fact that he exists or at least looks forward to the day when he will cease to.  Though I would not consider myself as a “fan” of Bush’s presidency to nearly any extent, I find it perplexing that our culture is so infatuated with hating him.  Perhaps we don’t realize that Bush is ten years younger than John McCain, which means that we potentially have another decade or more of President Bush in the public eye.

He’s a truly fascinating person.  If you’ve not seen Oliver Stone’s W., I suggest you do.  It’s a well-crafted caricature of Bush’s adult life and the various people who have surrounded him.  I left the theater with a far more empathetic attitude toward the man, who is portrayed as a simple guy who was caught up in a wave of dirty politics.  The guilt of the Bush Administration is really shifted toward Dick Cheney in the film.  Maybe I’ll post something about how impressive the film was, especially for a film that only took half-a-year to shoot, edit, and release.

But in addition to the empathy I gained toward President Bush, I was also filled with a sense of mourning; mourning for a man who has been painted as a villain in our culture by not-as-much-fault-as-America-thinks of his own.  He is already among the deceased presidents of our generation–Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan–yet has been painted with more dishonor than Herbert Hoover.  He’s still in office until January, yet we replaced him with an over-publicized bout for the seat of the 44th President of the United States nearly two years ago.

Any conclusion or resolution?  Maybe we ought to not view those in the public’s eye as demigods.  Maybe we ought to not expect our political leaders, nor any other person, to make the perfect decision every time.  Maybe we ought to demonstrate a little grace toward those who we label as unlovable.  As I’ve said, I’m no fan of George W. Bush as the Commander-in-Chief, but I’m fairly certain that he did what he believed was best for America most (if not all) of the time.