Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which brings us to the multi-layered complexity of the situation: How to help create a context such that people can return to their ISIS-occupied homes 30 miles away? We spent a lot of time listening. The words that kept coming: Rescue. Restore. Return. So we designed a long-term strategy, consistent with their environment, that builds on short-term impact:
Rescue: We wanted to help those in immediate need, providing relief to them so that they could make it totomorrow. In so doing, we were also able to discern who was doing the best work locally, like the Dominican Sisters, or Assyrian Aid Society (which is just incredible). Besides helping people, we found partners whose yes is yes, and no is no. We are in relationship with them. We trust each other in a part of the world where there is no trust.

Restore: All of those who have fled ISIS have been traumatized in some fashion. They need a way to address the internal if they are to become whole again, and thus serve as peace-builders in a post-ISIS world. So we have sought to invest in education as well as trauma training, seeking to build internal reconciliation such that external reconciliation might one day take place.

Return: This is the tricky part, on two counts....

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Belgian government, reacting to the major role terrorists from Brussels played in the Paris terror attacks, unveiled a program Friday to combat Islamist radicalization in and around the city.

The plans include the hiring of 1,000 new police officers across the country by 2019, with 300 of them added this year and deployed in eight municipalities in the Brussels region.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the additional police force in Brussels would focus on cutting off revenue sources for extremist groups by countering illicit trade in arms, drugs and false travel documents. Brussels police will also increase the monitoring of places of worship known for extremist preaching, he said.

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is it accurate and/or expedient to use the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of religious minorities by the terrorist group known as Islamic State, Daesh or a variant of that name? Hypothetical as it might seem, that question is a real dilemma for people in high places in western Europe and America.

On January 20th, Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, gave a speech to the European Parliament in which she deplored the suffering of Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East but carefully stopped short of using the word genocide, to the great disappointment of many MEPs and religious-freedom campaigners.

Those campaigners took heart when another Strasbourg-based body of legislators, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took a much firmer position. PACE is an arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe. The European Parliament, an organ of the 28-nation European Union and rather more important, will also vote on the IS-and-genocide question in a few days' time. The PACE resolution, passed on January 27th, denounced the wave of terror attacks on civilians in Europe and the Middle East

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned Congress on Tuesday that security there will deteriorate further from a resurgent Taliban unless the U.S. military makes a long-term commitment to stay.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, who has led the international force since August 2014, said the Afghan military is “uneven and inconsistent” on the battlefield and is beset by corruption. He said the central government in Kabul probably won't be able to fully defend itself until the 2020s.

The warning is the latest from a U.S. military officer that suggests the Pentagon wants to reconsider President Obama's plan to cut the current U.S. deployment of 9,800 military advisors and Special Operations troops in half by the time he leaves office.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been nearly a year since Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born American citizen, was hacked to death on the street in this South Asian country's teeming capital, part of a series of grisly killings of secular writers who criticized Islamic fundamentalism.

But in the last four months, Bangladesh has been stunned by a second wave of deadly attacks — against religious minorities, security forces and foreigners — that is unusual even with the nation's long history of political violence.

The more recent killings have raised fears that Bangladesh is entering a disturbing new phase of instability inspired from abroad. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks and is stepping up its efforts to recruit from this country of 160 million people, the vast majority Sunni Muslims.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh

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Posted January 27, 2016 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 2016 political season is churning with anti-immigrant vitriol and wariness of the outside world. But one group of American Christians—missionaries—continues reaching out instead of walling themselves off. They honor Christ’s message in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The selfless work of missionaries was poignantly illustrated by the terrorist murder on Jan. 15 of 45-year-old Michael Riddering, an orphanage director in West Africa.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaBurkina Faso

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Posted January 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why shout "Allahu Akbar!" when killing these students? Because they are not worshiping and serving Allah in the proper manner. This is a battle between true Islam and false Islam, even in a nation with a notoriously strict approach to Sharia law. It is always important to remind readers how many Muslims are dying in these conflicts, as well as Christians and members of other religious minorities.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 21, 2016 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.

This month, at the request of the AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera to grab photos of the site, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fourth deadliest known terrorist group has been named as the Fulani militant group operating in Nigeria and parts of the Central African Republic.

The little-known group, formed of individuals from the semi-nomadic pastorial ethnic group Fula people existing across several West African nations, has seen a dramatic escalation of its activities in the past year.

In 2013, the Fulani killed around 80 people in total – but by 2014 the group had killed 1,229.

Read it all from the Independent.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria

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Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2015, a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s major power centres. From Beijing to Washington, Berlin to Brasília, Moscow to Tokyo — governments, media and citizens were jumpy and embattled.

This kind of globalised anxiety is unusual. For the past 30 years and more, there has been at least one world power that was bullishly optimistic. In the late 1980s the Japanese were still enjoying a decades-long boom — and confidently buying up assets all over the world. In the 1990s America basked in victory in the cold war and a long economic expansion. In the early 2000s the EU was in a buoyant mood, launching a single currency and nearly doubling its membership. And for most of the past decade, the growing political and economic power of China has inspired respect all over the world.

Yet at the moment all the big players seem uncertain — even fearful. The only partial exception that I came across this year was India, where the business and political elite still seemed buoyed by the reformist zeal of prime minister Narendra Modi.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 30, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.

The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ‘why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

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Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killing of minorities by so-called Islamic State should be recognised as genocide, more than 60 parliamentarians have said in a letter to the PM.
They urge David Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.
This would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished, the letter adds.
IS has been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis, it said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Another American military official who analyzes ISIS said that under the pressure of airstrikes and internal strife, members with titles like emir and wali now gain rank through attrition, not design. “We watch the deck shuffle constantly, as they attempt to determine who will fit a role that has been vacated,” he said, “vacated” being a euphemism for “killed.”

Whatever Mr. Aboud’s eventual fate, his relative said, much of the legacy was already known. The recording of Mr. Aboud singing — coolly in tune as he described killing old friends — was a marker of a man lost to crime, a revolution soured and a people betrayed.

“His violence, his assassinations, his killing people — he is really behind this,” he said. “It is a mess now. Everything we have is a mess.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State in October released a video that is a stomach-wrenching glimpse of the worst kind of religious repression. Three Syrian Christian men, one a doctor, are made to kneel in the desert in orange jumpsuits and state their religion. Behind each is an executioner who then uses a handgun to fire a bullet into the back of each Christian’s head.

Some Christian leaders in America want President Obama to declare that a genocide is underway against Christians in the Middle East. I don’t think I’d call it a genocide, but it is absolutely the religious version of an ethnic cleansing.

In 1910, Christians made up 14 percent of the population of the Middle East. Today they are about 4 percent, the result of emigration, lower birthrates — and religious repression that threatens the viability of Christianity in much of the region where it was born.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

,,,in the United States of 2015 — weeks before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — someone had insulted and implicitly threatened...[Heba Macksoud] in her favorite ShopRite. It felt to her as if all the toxic language of the Republican presidential campaign, with its various forms of Islamophobia, had infiltrated even a store she cherished for its commitment to diversity.

With Ms. Yu at her side, she went to the Customer Service counter to report what had happened. The agent there called for the store’s assistant manager, Mark Egan. “I’m not done shopping,” Ms. Macksoud recently recalled telling him, “but I don’t feel safe here.”

Mr. Egan was about as much of a Jersey guy as a Jersey guy can get. He grew up in Freehold, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, and married in the young Springsteen’s parish church, Saint Rose of Lima. Mr. Egan, his hair starting to thin at 43, has worked at ShopRite for 13 years.

He told Ms. Macksoud he would protect her.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tragically, present policy does not take into account the uniquely precarious situation of displaced Christians. Instead of receiving priority treatment, Christians are profoundly disadvantaged. For instance, the State Department has accepted refugees primarily from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, which oversees the large camps to which refugees have flocked, and where they are registered. Yet endangered Christians do not dare enter those camps.

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in the Telegraph in Britain in September that a similar protocol in the U.K. “inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimised by the inhuman butchers of the so-called Islamic State. Christians are not to be found in the UN camps, because they have been attacked and targeted by Islamists and driven from them.”

U.S. missteps and missed opportunities in the region contributed to the crises that disproportionately affected Christians. America’s policy should immediately be amended to include these refugees at the top of the list. Opening America’s doors to them first is the right thing to do.

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.

According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The handsome Washington townhouse where Wayne Hickory practices orthodontics is a landmark of terrorism in America.

In 1919, an anarchist exploded a bomb at what was then the home of the attorney general. The failed assassination set off a wave of violent raids on radicals, Communists and leftists, and the deportation without due process of hundreds of innocent European immigrants — a high point of hysteria in an era known as the first Red Scare.

“Maybe there is something to learn from history,” Dr. Hickory said in a sitting room that now contains advertising for invisible braces. But asked about Donald J. Trump’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Dr. Hickory said that, as implausible as it was, the proposal had prompted a necessary discussion about whether travelers from countries fraught with Islamic extremism should receive increased scrutiny. “Perhaps,” he said, “the line needs to be drawn a little bit more severely.”

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 8:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As terrorist attacks fueled by extreme Islamist ideology convulsed cities in the U.S. and Europe over the last 15 years, Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs were spared.

It couldn't last forever.

The assault on a San Bernardino social services center last week by a U.S.-born Muslim man and his Pakistani wife was an event of national significance, potentially reshaping next year's presidential contest and raising Americans' fears of terrorism to levels not seen since the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the killing of 14 people by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik has had a particular effect in Southern California, a densely populated region whose residents have at times felt themselves remote from the transatlantic waves of terror that have washed over New York, London, Paris, Madrid and Washington, D.C.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted December 12, 2015 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As American intelligence agencies grapple with the expansion of the Islamic State beyond its headquarters in Syria, the Pentagon has proposed a new plan to the White House to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East.

The bases could be used for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes against the terrorist group’s far-flung affiliates.

The growth of the Islamic State’s franchises — at least eight militant groups have pledged loyalty to the network’s leaders so far — has forced a debate within the Obama administration about how to distinguish between the affiliates that pose the most immediate threat to the United States and Europe and others that are more regionally focused. The regional groups, some officials say, may have opportunistically adopted the Islamic State’s brand to bolster their local clout and global stature.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 11, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During its six-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and displaced millions in its bid to realize its fundamentalist vision of an Islamic caliphate. In that quest, it has persecuted Nigeria’s Christian population and sought to exterminate Christian clerics, including Hassan John, an Anglican pastor from Jos, central Nigeria.

John, 52, is used to living with the perpetual threat of Boko Haram. “Every Christian cleric anywhere has the same bounty on his head,” says John, who is currently studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in the U.K. “If you are a pastor or a priest, from Jos all the way to Maiduguri, you do have a bounty on your head.” The price of John’s life, according to the militant group, is 150,000 naira ($754)—slightly more than the going rate for an iPhone 6s in Nigeria. The bounty, however, has not stopped him from reaching out to Nigeria’s Muslim community in order to build bridges burned down by Boko Haram’s violent actions.

The Anglican pastor is currently studying in Oxford, but will return to his hometown of Jos in July, where he works with Muslim communities. Jos, the capital of Plateau state, lies in the central belt of the West African country. Nigeria is roughly 50 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian, but the vast majority of Muslims are concentrated in the north—the epicenter of Boko Haram’s insurgency—while Christians tend to live in southern states. Jos, as John describes it, lies on “the fault line between the two forces.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. dropped seven percentage points to 20%. This is the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since November 2014, but still above the all-time low of 7% in October 2008.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologySociology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greek police tried to capture the suspected ringleader of the Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in January but the operation failed.

A Belgian anti-terrorism source told the BBC the Athens operation planned to target Abaaoud before anti-terror raids in Belgium, but that did not happen.

Abaaoud had been directing the Belgian cell by phone from Athens.

Abaaoud died in a battle with French police five days after the 13 November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Read it all.

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lorenzo Vidino knows violent radicals — personally. The 38-year-old Italian academic has “longstanding” relationships with some jihadists, he said, as part of his 15 years in the study of radicalization and violent Islamism in the West.

“I think it’s crucially important,” he said in an interview with The Hill last week, which took place in his office on George Washington University’s (GWU) campus overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. “How do you study a certain phenomenon if you don’t talk to the people inside it, whether they are former or whether they are still radicals?

“I think it’s the right thing to do. It gives you good perspective.”

Read it all from The Hill.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zohra Arastu migrated to the United States from India with her husband, a young surgeon, in 1976.

In addition to being an artist and a mother, she teaches American children how to read translations of the Quran properly. But recently, she has grown more concerned that U.S. presidential candidates are playing the race card against Muslims, preying on “Islamophobia” to gain votes.

“How do we make them stop?” she asked during a forum to promote cross-religious understanding at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia on Monday night. “They are undoing all that we are trying to do here.”

Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted December 8, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young southern California parents who killed 14 people in a workplace rampage last week had both been "radicalized" into following an extreme form of Islam, an FBI official said Monday.

"As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and had been for quite some time," David Bowdich, the FBI's assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles office, told reporters.

He added, "The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen, and by whom, and where did that happen. And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers at this point."

Read it all.

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Posted December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.

He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.

"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week was Thanksgiving.

This week is fright-giving.

So with apologies to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s epic 1933 pep talk:

We have much to fear, including fear itself.

Read it all.

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Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I felt like I was betraying God and Christianity,” said Alex, who spoke on the condition that she be identified only by a pseudonym she uses online. “But I also felt excited because I had made a lot of new friends.”

Even though the Islamic State’s ideology is explicitly at odds with the West, the group is making a relentless effort to recruit Westerners into its ranks, eager to exploit them for their outsize propaganda value. Through January this year, at least 100 Americans were thought to have traveled to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq, among nearly 4,000 Westerners who had done so.

The reach of the Islamic State’s recruiting effort has been multiplied by an enormous cadre of operators on social media. The terrorist group itself maintains a 24-hour online operation, and its effectiveness is vastly extended by larger rings of sympathetic volunteers and fans who pass on its messages and viewpoint, reeling in potential recruits, analysts say.

Read it all from the New York Times.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistani intelligence agents say they have questioned members of Malik's extended family in the Pakistani province of Punjab, an area that is considered a stronghold of Islamic militant organizations.

Malik belonged to an educated, politically influential family from Karor Lal Esan in Layyah district. Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh, one of her father's cousins, was once a provincial minister. Residents said the Aulakh family is known to have connections to militant Islam.

"The family has some extremist credentials," said Zahid Gishkori, 32, a resident of the Layyah district in the area who knows the family well.

Read it all from the LA Times.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The “camp” consisted of a few houses close to each other. “When we got to the place, there were about 50 other women. I recognised many other Christians, who had now become Muslims and were forced to undergo Islamic teaching.”

Mercy could only guess what was in store for her. “My first day was like hell. I cried all day and all night. I prayed like never before and asked God to give me courage.”

The next morning, Mercy and the others were taken to a clearing for questioning. They were asked to become Muslims and to marry Boko Haram members.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims came to an Anglican church? ‘People respect faith in Iraq,’ says Sarah. ‘They can see he is sincere.’

So is it better to be a Christian negotiating with Muslims than to be secular, I ask. I’m always hearing that religion is the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says White. ‘People say it’s important to keep religion out of the peace process in the Middle East, but you can’t have a peace process without religion. You can’t have politics without religion in the Middle East! It’s impossible. Faith is our common ground.’

Read it all from the Spectator.

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One can be more specific: They should be Sunni Muslims, since this is the community from which ISIS has emerged. (God knows, Shiite Muslims, with Iran in the lead, have engaged in their own variants of terrorism, but ISIS is the more immediate issue.) But also it should probably not be individuals with Muslim backgrounds who are so Westernized that what they say has little resonance among most Muslims—Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie come to mind. In other words, the want ad should be for conservative Sunni Muslims.

(I speak of ISIS. I’m annoyed by the practice of constantly listing every acronym by which this odious outfit has been called: “Islamic State” won’t do, because supposedly that legitimates the pretension that it is the Islamic state. So we get an endless serving of all the acronyms: “IS, ISIS, ISIL, Deash”. This is silly. We know who they are. I prefer the most descriptive acronym “ISIS”—the developing Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. No legitimacy implied.)

As a matter of fact, there have been a good many voices raised. Here is a partial list, who spoke up in the course of 2014: Probably the most significant has been that of Shawki Alam, Grand Mufti of al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious Sunni center of learning in the world. He described ISIS as “corrupt”, “a danger to Islam”, “violating Sharia law and humanitarian law”. There have been statements by the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Shaikh, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, who spoke of ISIS as “the number one enemy of Islam”; by Mehmet Gormez, the highest cleric in Turkey, who saw ISIS as “hugely damaging” and “truly awful”; and rather amazingly, 100 Sunni and Shi’a imams in Britain issued a joint statement (this unusual collaboration probably easier in Europe than in the Muslim heartland) calling ISIS “an illegitimate vicious group, who do not represent Islam in any way”. What has been the effect of these statements? I don’t know. But this is not a story of tacit acceptance.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police and intelligence agencies have an enormously difficult job because radicalization pathways to violence are not always straightforward. Sometimes an individual on the periphery of an investigation, who is assessed as low risk, rapidly becomes a threat. Similarly, an individual considered very dangerous may never act or may disengage from extremism. As the 2009 investigation of al Qaeda operative and New Yorker Najibullah Zazi demonstrated, the manpower needed for physical surveillance of even a single individual requires dozens of agents and hundreds of man-hours, and that doesn’t include the analytic team required to evaluate electronic communications such as email, chat, tweets and phone data.

In the past, Western intelligence organizations intercepted communications that allowed security agencies to move against al Qaeda or ISIS operatives, often before they could strike. Now end-to-end encrypted communications apps like “Telegram” have become standard operating procedure among terrorists. So intercepting and deciphering communications is far more difficult, even for organizations as sophisticated as the National Security Agency or the FBI.

There is no doubt that al Qaeda and its remnants as well as Islamic State have the intention and capability to strike the United States using Western operatives. What happened in Paris can happen here. A false sense of security will be deadly. The U.S. must mobilize at home and lead abroad to defeat this increasing threat.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 200 churches or places of worship are attacked every single day, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said this week, at a high-level meeting in Brussels investigating the persecution of Christians.

Mr Tajani, an Italian MEP in the Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) group, said on Tuesday that “every day, in every region of our planet, we register new cases of systematic violence and persecution against Christians. No other religious community is faced with such hatred, violence, and aggression as is the Christian community.”

A report prepared by the Parliament’s research unit highlighted the “paradoxical aspect of contemporary Christianity” in that, while Christians were in a majority across the world, they were in a minority in places of conflict.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The profiles of the suspects behind the Paris terrorist attacks reflect a pattern often seen among perpetrators of previous atrocities—a group of guys who turned from drugs and petty crime to terrorism. What’s new is the potency of the movement that mobilized them.

To many in the West, Islamic State represents a medieval-style death cult. To its sympathizers, estimated to number in the thousands or even tens of thousands in Europe, its radical message of reviving the Sunni Muslim caliphate is strengthened by the fact that it already rules over territory.

Scott Atran, a Franco-American academic who has interviewed hundreds of radical Islamists over years, likens the rise and allure of Islamic State to the ascendancy of the Bolsheviks in czarist Russia and the National Socialist Party in Weimar Germany.

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 5:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Law enforcement officials said the F.B.I. had uncovered evidence that Mr. Farook was in contact over several years with extremists domestically and abroad, including at least one person in the United States who was investigated for suspected terrorism by federal authorities in recent years. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The officials called the case perplexing, saying that no clear evidence of terrorism had emerged, though the attack was clearly premeditated. The victims were Mr. Farook’s co-workers at the county health department, and the shooting may have involved grievances against them, but it did not fit the mold for workplace violence, either.

The idea that this was a workplace argument that spiraled out of control seems far-fetched, the officials said, given the explosives and the preparation. “You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were,” said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. “He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

3.a. To suggest that we should act (though usually without specifying how those of us not physically present could act in the immediate wake of tragedy or terror), instead of pray, therefore, is to ask us to deny our capacity for empathy.

3.b. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that God despises acts of outward piety or sentimentality that are not matched with action on behalf of justice. The harshest words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are directed at public leaders who pray extravagantly and publicly but neglect “the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23).

3.c. Therefore we must never settle for a false dichotomy between prayer and action, as if it were impossible to pray while acting or act while praying. Nonetheless it is vital, whenever possible, to pray before acting lest our activity be in vain.

3.d. To insist that people should act instead of pray, or that we should act without praying, is idolatry, substituting the creature for the Creator.

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram is growing and threatening to spread further eastwards from Nigeria as far as the Central African Republic (CAR), despite heightened efforts by the Nigerian military and a regional task force, the top United Nations (U.N.) aid official in Cameroon told Reuters.

The Nigerian-founded organization—recently ranked as the world’s deadliest militant group—has expanded operations in neighboring countries in recent months, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has given his military a December deadline by which to vanquish the militant group from its base in northeastern Nigeria. And the U.S. recently committed to sending 300 troops to Cameroon to assist with regional operations against the group.

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence — of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.

I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did — though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ‘Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ‘Why others? Why then?’

The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ‘My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?

Read it all from the Spectator.

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Posted November 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.

“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.

It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.

The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.

Read it all (requires subscription).



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Posted November 25, 2015 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“If ISIS is allowed to define the terms of this engagement then they’ve pretty much won the battle. We have to understand them and meet them where they’re coming from but not capitulate, not really surrender to the terror they’re trying to spread, because that’s the victory they are looking for,” says Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“For such an attack, involving so many people, it must have been decided near the highest level,” said Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence official who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. The Islamic State’s military operation, whose senior leaders include numerous former military officials from Iraq, “would never let someone below them direct a strategic operation.”

The roots of the attacks — which struck France’s largest stadium, a crowded concert hall, and a series of restaurants and cafes — may be visible in the suspects’ path to radicalization.

While their stories vary — one had been a student, another a bus driver, another a bar owner — many came from Muslim families that were neither fundamentalist nor extreme. Their radicalization appears to have happened over just the past few years, or even a couple of months.

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Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.

The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mali once again reeled Friday under a terrorist attack, the latest violence in a country that has been racked by war for more than half a century. The current battle pits a confusing array of at least five Islamist groups against a weak central government supported by the former colonial power, France, as the United Nations seeks a diplomatic solution and offers military protection in some areas.

The latest attack, on the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako, takes on a special urgency as France tries to deal from last week's devastating Islamist militant violence that left 130 dead.

That attack was carried out by Islamic State, not known to be directly involved in Mali. But its supporters celebrated the Mali attack using the Twitter hashtags #IslamicState, #ParisIsBurning and #Mali_Is_Burning.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency's list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.

"This is sort of the new normal," Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.

To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.

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Posted November 20, 2015 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It was like Kabul come to Paris,” said one doctor at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, as the city’s emergency medical teams responded to the gravest attack on French soil since the Second World War.
At least 415 people were wounded in last Friday’s attacks and rushed to 38 different hospitals in and around Paris.
The city put into action its “plan blanc”, a maximum level of mobilisation designed to deal with “exceptional medical scenarios”. It has been hailed as a testament to France’s renowned public hospitals system that only three of the injured victims are believed to have died in hospital, arresting the death toll at 129 when it could have been far higher.
Parisian hospitals had carried out a drill for a terrorist attack that morning, just hours before the real attacks took place. The “plan blanc”, devised in 2004 for just such a crisis, allowed staff to requisition nurses, surgeons, resuscitation staff, operating theatres, beds, ambulances and psychiatric services.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place—a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.

We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud in a raid, French authorities aimed to remove from Islamic State’s ranks a prominent figure who they said blended his battlefield experience in Syria with a network of associates in Europe to mastermind one of the bloodiest terror attacks in French history.

In Syria, the Belgian was a military commander, or “emir of war,” in eastern Deir Ezzour province, according to local activists and news reports, an unusually high rank for a fighter who hailed from Europe. Friends from his early life in Brussels, in the predominantly Muslim district of Molenbeek, recall a “nice guy” who played soccer.

In Paris, officials say the 28-year-old militant assembled a potent arsenal that he planned to deploy against multiple additional targets—including Paris’ La Defense business district—following the attacks that investigators say he coordinated against a stadium, concert hall and other locales, killing 129 people.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In other words, for most Evangelicals, Islam is the problem because it warrants the violence of jihadi groups. The claim is not without grounds. Contrary to repeated Muslim denials, key aspects of the ideology of radical violent Muslim groups are indeed rooted in Islamic texts and history. Al-Qaeda, IS, and Boko Haram have their origins mainly in Wahhabi and Salafi thought. These are traditions of fundamentalist Islamic interpretation that have widespread influence across the Muslim world. Founding leaders of jihadi groups have either been students of leading Wahhabi-Salafi scholars or were inspired by their works.

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Posted November 19, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

France, Russia and the U.S. moved beyond talk of cooperation and into the far more difficult realm of action, as the “grand and single coalition” French President François Hollande called for to combat Islamic State began coming into view.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if Russia shifts its military strategy in Syria to focus on Islamic State, the U.S. would welcome cooperation with Moscow on an intensified military campaign. He said he conveyed that message to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Turkey earlier this week.

“That is something that we very much want to see,” Mr. Obama said while in the Philippines for a summit of Asian nations.

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Posted November 18, 2015 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunfire rang out in a northern Paris suburb Wednesday as police launched a massive predawn raid to capture at least seven suspects in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, in an operation targeting a Belgian militant identified as a ringleader of the rampage.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters the seven-hour police raid was over around midday Wednesday.

One woman died when she detonated a suicide vest as police closed in on an apartment housing the suspects in the northern suburb of St. Denis, the French prosecutor’s office said.

In all, seven people were arrested and two suspects were killed, the prosecutor said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The truth is that the majority of Muslims are law abiding people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Paris as much as anyone else. The truth though is also that all religions are not the same. We cannot separate Islam from the current crisis we face. We might like to think that it is possible to shoehorn all Islamic practice and theology into a culture of Judeo-Christian human rights, but it is not that simple. A poll earlier this year found that 3 in 10 Muslims think that their faith is incompatible with British values. Other surveys in recent years have found large minorities in favour of introducing Sharia law to the UK or that killing in the name of religion is justified. Our government is spending £40m a year on its Prevent strategy trying to stop the radicalisation of some of our Muslims in a way that our mosques are unable to do.

In an open and genuinely tolerant society, we should be able to ask the difficult questions of others with different views and beliefs and expect a productive dialogue that builds understanding and agreement. Instead we pussyfoot around too scared to criticise aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that we freely do with Christianity, for fear of being accused of Islamaphobia or racism or both.

Read it all and follow the links from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 17, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once again, the world has been shocked by acts of unspeakable violence and brutality. Once again, the world mourns with the families and friends of victims of tragedy. Once again, the world searches for meaning and hope in the terrible wreckage left in the wake of such dehumanizing hatred, senseless bloodshed, and unparalleled loss.

In this time of grief, it is all too easy to see the path the world has laid out for us. It is the path of retributive justice, of reciprocate hatred, of fear and anger. This is the way the world moves; the way governments, militaries, and judicial systems function. But it is at this critical time that we must ask ourselves what our role must be in the aftermath of such tragedy.

The best we can possibly do is to look to the most enduring response to violence and death that there is. The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, some two thousand years ago. Unjust powers, motivated by anger and fear, murdered the very incarnation of God. What became of this greatest travesty? God forged it into the greatest triumph over evil that Creation has yet seen. And what of the one who became the victim in our place? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

In the very darkest hour, Jesus called upon God for forgiveness. We see this message in his teachings, and then echoed in his living and his dying. Profound forgiveness. Profound mercy. Profound grace.
In 2006, an armed man entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot ten girls between 6 and 13 years old, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. The response of the Amish community was swift. Within hours of the shooting, an Amish neighbor had visited the family of the gunman and offered comfort and forgiveness. Standing by the body of his murdered granddaughter, a grandfather told several young boys “We must not think evil of this man”. Some 30 of the Amish community attended the funeral of the assailant, and one of the few outsiders permitted to the funeral of one of the Amish girls was the man’s widow.

I sometimes wonder at the capacity of humankind for such forgiveness, but then I realise that I am merely wondering at God’s grace. I look back to the earliest words of the Bible and find that in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God and that in verse 31 God saw everything that had been made and “it was supremely good”.
And, even though much has happened since God set those mighty intentions into play, I hold God’s words close from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.

So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbor. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy—violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator. I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families. Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.

And I pray that through it all, the goodness of God will continue to shine through. The goodness that was there at the moment of creation, that was created anew in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that continues to be created as the kingdom of heaven struggles forth in the darkest of times and places.

I pray for forgiveness. I pray for grace. I pray for peace.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle East* Theology

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Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks— one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation.

The raids came as the hunt continued for members of the sleeper cell that carried out last Friday's gun and bomb attacks that killed 129 people and as France launched its heaviest airstrikes on the Islamic State group's de-facto capital in Syria.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday "we are at war" against terrorism.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




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Posted November 16, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the investigation into the deadly attacks on this city spiraled into a Europe-wide effort, French warplanes pounded the headquarters of Islamic State on Sunday in retaliation for what the government here said was the group's orchestration of the terrorist assault from its base in northern Syria.

The airstrikes by a dozen aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, destroyed a militant training camp and a command and weapons center in Islamic State's declared capital of Raqqah in Syria, the French Defense Ministry said.

It was the biggest such bombardment by France since the country expanded its aerial campaign against Islamic State in September, and was carried out with targeting information supplied by U.S. intelligence.

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Posted November 15, 2015 at 3:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence."

“We cannot and do not accept that such a terrorist atrocity can ever be justified in the name of God or of any religion. Violence in the name of religion is violence against religion. We condemn, reject and denounce it. Let us confront it by holding firm to and upholding the democratic, intercultural and human rights values that this terrorism seeks to attack.”

Read it all and follow the links.

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Posted November 15, 2015 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris apparently began with a small extremist cell in Brussels, Belgium, where French authorities believe that the attacks were planned out and the operation financed, according to two U.S. federal law enforcement officials who have been advised about the ongoing French probe.

The U.S. sources, speaking confidentially because the investigation is just underway, stressed also that the attackers likely had a substantial understanding of French history culture and Paris in particular, and that it was “highly possible” some had lived in the French capital.

That, the sources said, was evident in how they seamlessly moved about the vast Paris metropolis and set up coordinated attacks at six separate targets – from a stadium to a theater to a restaurant.

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Posted November 14, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of Justice has established a new office to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks, something civil rights advocates say is a partial response to Dylann Roof and the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

“It very likely took the Charleston massacre to make this a reality,” said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, of the newly created position of Domestic Terrorism Counsel.

Potok said that for much of the past decade, the focus of federal law enforcement has been on foreign terror threats, such as al-Qaida and ISIS. The Justice Department’s move this week represents a return of focus onto warnings that rise at home.

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Posted October 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British wife who took her five children to Syria to join Islamic State is trying to flee the country, complaining that the other women there have a violent “gangster” mentality.
Shukee Begum, 33, from Manchester, took her children, all aged under nine, to Syria last year to join her husband, Jamal al-Harith, an Isis fighter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
She later fled Isis territory, but said that she and her children were held by smugglers for a number of months in Aleppo and close to the Turkish border before they were released. The circumstances of her release are unclear. According to Channel 4 news, rebels from Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, intervened to facilitate it.
Ms Begum is trying to escape Syria, saying that she was shocked by the behaviour of single women in Isis, who revelled in its brutal executions.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Taliban insurgency has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, according to data compiled by the United Nations as well as interviews with numerous local officials in areas under threat.

In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan over the past two weeks has evacuated four of its 13 provincial offices around the country — the most it has ever done for security reasons — according to local officials in the affected areas.

The data, compiled in early September — even before the latest surge in violence in northern Afghanistan — showed that United Nations security officials had already rated the threat level in about half of the country’s administrative districts as either “high” or “extreme,” more than at any time since the American invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 15, 2015 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.


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Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US President Barack Obama has announced that US armed forces have been deployed to Cameroon to help fight against the Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The force, which will be 300 strong, will conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
Cameroon and Chad have been targeted by the Islamist militants from northern Nigeria.

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Posted October 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's Islamic extremist insurgents Boko Haram are blamed for using teens and women to carry out suicide bombings in neighboring Chad and Cameroon this weekend, killing more than 45 people in what Cameroon's government spokesman said is a move to spread terror as a multinational force prepares to deploy against them.

Two girls between the ages of 13 and 17 carried out suicide bombings in the northern Cameroon village of Kangeleri near Mora town on Sunday, killing at least 9 and wounding 29 others, said Cameroon's Minister of Communications Issa Tchiroma Bakary.

The Cameroon explosions come after five coordinated suicide bombings in neighboring Chad on Saturday killed at least 36 people and wounded some 50 others in a village near Lake Chad that is home to thousands of Nigerians who have fled the extremists' violence. The government said a man, two women and two children carried out the attacks.

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Posted October 11, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a mountainside in Iraq’s Kurdish region, at the end of a road that winds through sparse olive trees, stands the fourth-century Mar Mattai monastery. It is Iraq’s oldest monastery, named for the hermit monk who retired here at the dawn of Christianity. The forces of Islamic State are a little more than two miles away. When the weather is clear on the plain of Nineveh, you can see the Islamic State front lines defending Mosul about a dozen miles in the distance.

The vast monastery perched high on Mount Alfaf is hewed from stone, its passages, stairways and terraces exposed to the sun and weather. In the courtyard on the ground level live two families who fled Mosul and the persecution of Christians there.

Four monks live at Mar Mattai. There should be several dozen to judge by the empty rooms along the esplanade. But only these four remain, clad in their black robes and caps embroidered with white crosses. In the Eastern Rite church on the upper level, the monks are standing in the crypt at the far end, their eyes closed, intoning one of the “chants of the Greek church” described by Chateaubriand in his 1811 “Record of a Journey From Paris to Jerusalem and Back.” He admired the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) with its notes “held by different voices, some bass, others treble, executing andante and mezza voce, the octave, fifth, and third.” Its beauty, he said, was enough to cure him of a fever.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 9, 2015 at 8:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Former Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help Christians in the Middle East saying "time is running out".

Lord Carey said more had to be done to support followers of Christ who face persecution or death at the hands of Islamic terrorism.

"Time is running out for Christians in the region," he said.

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Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.

Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?

Mark Arabo thinks so. He is a Chaldean-American and the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get Iraqi Christians out before it’s too late. “There is historical precedent for this,” he says from his base in San Diego. “President Ford airlifted thousands during the Vietnam War and we need to do the same.”

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Posted October 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A series of explosions on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja have killed at least 18 people, officials say.

The first two struck Kuje township: one by a suicide bomber near a police station, the other a bomb at a market.

Another bomb exploded at a bus stop in Nyanya.

No group has said it carried out the attacks yet but suspicion has fallen on Boko Haram Islamists, who targeted Nyanya last year.

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Posted October 3, 2015 at 9:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We call on Nigerians to support the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and be patient with him as we urge him to fulfill his campaign promises to Nigerians. “President Buhari should see himself as president of the whole nation and not a sectional or religious president”, he admonished.

He cautioned that despite the myriad of challenges confronting the nation, dismemberment of the country remains a ridiculous thinking, adding that it is an unthinkable idea after shedding innocent blood through the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War to keep Nigeria one.

The religious leader commiserated with the families of those that have lost their lives in the North through the activities of Boko Haram insurgency, and called on the governments at all levels, religious organizations and philanthropists to come to the aid of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) who have been dehumanized by the activities of insurgents.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2015 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State combatants have shown themselves to be resilient, and the group is adept at attracting adherents through social media.

At least eight Islamic State branches in the Middle East and Afghanistan have cropped up in recent years or have redefined themselves as allies, such as the Boko Haram insurgency group in Nigeria.

At the same time, international efforts to combat the Islamic State’s online propaganda messaging has been an abysmal failure, according to a recent State Department assessment.

So far, the Islamic State’s violent narrative — promulgated through thousands of messages each day — has effectively “trumped” the efforts of some of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, the State Department assessment said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMedia* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US State Department is seeking a counter-narrative to the propaganda being spread by ISIL, and it is reportedly turning to some of America’s preeminent storytellers for help. According to The Daily Beast, executives from both HBO and Snapchat are part of a team of filmmakers and social media specialists that’s brainstorming how to hamper the effectiveness of ISIL’s messaging.

Citing unnamed industry and government sources, The Daily Beast reports that HBO and Snapchat representatives were invited to Sunnylands, a California retreat known for hosting important government figures, in June to meet with State Department officials on how best to counter the ISIL narrative, which has lured young men from the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States, to join its violent ranks. Mark Boal, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, is reportedly part of the team assisting the State Department.

Neither HBO nor Snapchat have responded to requests for comment. The State Department, in a statement to Quartz, neither confirmed nor denied the Daily Beast report but noted that film “is an especially powerful medium for building cross-cultural understanding” of world issues.

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Posted September 30, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With civil war in Syria, the emergence of ISIS, and the growing power of Iran, a new Middle East seems to be in the making. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become in some ways a sideline to these other developments. What do you see emerging out of these developments with regard to Israel/Palestine?

For the first time since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, I feel a small stirring of optimism and can see a way out. The defining conflict in the Middle East is no longer between Arabs and Israelis but between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. Much of the West hasn’t yet internalized this historic shift. The Saudis are now meeting regularly with Israelis and even allowing those meetings to become public knowledge. This is unprecedented.

During the Gaza War last year, even as anti-Israel demonstrations were happening in the West, Israel was receiving urgent messages from Sunni leaders demanding that it destroy the Hamas regime. Hamas is especially detested by many Sunnis for making common cause with Shi‘ite Iran—it’s the only Sunni Muslim Brotherhood organization to break ranks in the Sunni-Shi‘ite war.

All of which is to say that the Middle East looks very different from the Middle East than it does from the West. When Israelis looks around the region, what we see is that the most intact society left is Israel. I say that with more anxiety than pride, because this is the region in which I live, in which I’m raising a family. My prayer is for a Middle East in which all its peoples will find their safe place. Ultimately, the success of the Jewish homecoming depends on our finding our place in the Middle East.

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Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American families are under assault from an Islamic extremist group that is quietly turning young minds against their parents, against their religious faith, and against their country.

The group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in occupied sections of Syria and Iraq, is using social media and the worldwide reach of the Internet in a sophisticated recruitment campaign that is making families feel helpless to stop a slow-motion kidnapping of their children.

So far this year, 58 Americans – more than half under 25 – have been arrested for attempting to travel to Syria or for plotting violence in the US. That is more than twice the number of similar arrests for the entire year in 2014, and more than twice the number for all of 2013, as well.

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Posted September 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have now poured into Syria, many to join the Islamic State, a doubling of volunteers in just the past 12 months and stark evidence that an international effort to tighten borders, share intelligence and enforce antiterrorism laws is not diminishing the ranks of new militant fighters.

Among those who have entered or tried to enter the conflict in Iraq or Syria are more than 250 Americans, up from about 100 a year ago, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.

President Obama will take stock of the international campaign to counter the Islamic State at the United Nations on Tuesday, a public accounting that comes as American intelligence analysts have been preparing a confidential assessment that concludes that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011. A year ago, the same officials estimated that flow to be about 15,000 combatants from 80 countries, mostly to join the Islamic State.

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Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram carried out its deadliest attacks on the key northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, killing scores in a series of coordinated bomb blasts.

Police in the Borno state capital said at least 54 people died in Sunday’s co-ordinated strikes, with 90 injured, but residents caught up in the explosions said as many as 85 lost their lives.

The attacks on Sunday night in the Ajilari Cross area and nearby Gomari, near the city’s airport, killed and maimed worshippers at a mosque, bystanders and football fans watching a televised match.

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That name itself is the fiercest, most raw expression of the problem which was already bothering me. We would not, in modern times, want to live in a country called “Christian State”, and few Christians would suggest it. Most Muslims, luckily, do not admire the bloodthirsty regime trying to plant its flag in the most troubled corners of the Middle East, but significant numbers do see a faith-run, faith-defined state as the ultimate goal in this life. They therefore do not believe in secular law, freedom, pluralism or, except in limited form, the rights of unbelievers.

So the sad fact is that nothing in the past quarter-century has undermined the basic argument – as opposed to my tasteless expression of it – which I put forward then. Indeed, the opposite.

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Posted September 21, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of children forced to flee Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency in Nigeria and neighboring countries has reached 1.4 million, UN children agency, Unicef, said on friday.

The radical Islamist group has used children as targets and recruits in its war on the Nigerian state, with the aim of establishing its own Islamic caliphate in the country’s northern regions.

In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolchildren from the village of Chibok, the majority of whom have still not been found.

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Posted September 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a scathing statement, Canon White has now slammed Europe for its response to the migrant crisis. He says it is wrong to focus resources on those already in Europe, when those in real need are the ones left behind.

“I am disappointed by Europe’s response to the refugee crisis,” he said “Not enough is being done to help the most vulnerable, particularly those who have fled religious persecution.

“My charity is providing food, shelter and medicine for hundreds of Iraqi refugee families who have fled ISIS and are now in Jordan. Some have walked across the desert to find safety, with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“When I see angry young men clashing with border police in Hungary and demanding to be let into other EU countries, I feel that the wrong people are at the front of the queue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerians have greeted the recent reported surrender of Boko Haram terrorists and federal government's dialogue with the terrorists with mixed feelings.

Recent reports from the military high command in the northeast indicate that the Boko Haram terrorists, weary of fighting and mass-killing through suicide bombing, have begun to lay down their arms and handing themselves over to the Nigerian military.

Immediately coming on the heels of the military report was the statement credited to the presidency that negotiation was ongoing with the leaders of the terrorists who have severally been quoted as bragging that they would not go into any negotiation with the Nigerian government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 17, 2015 at 6:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Defence Headquarters has announced the imminent end of the Boko Haram insurgency, saying the reign of the sect would soon be a thing of the past.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Col. Rabe Abubakar, reportedly gave the assurance when a group of journalists visited him in his Abuja office on Monday.

A statement issued by Lieutenant Commander Olabisi Way, restated a renewed commitment of the leadership of the Armed Forces and determination on the part of the troops in the counter insurgency operations.

The DHQ eulogized what it described as the heart-warming success of the coordination between the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army in the ongoing campaign.

Read it all.

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Posted September 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Middle East is consumed by violence, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are at last putting boots on the ground. They are doing so not in Iraq or Syria, where western attention is focused, but in Yemen, where it is not. Six months and 5,000 deaths into a largely unreported war for control of Yemen, Saudi, Qatari and Egyptian troops are massing in the centre of the country for an offensive intended to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from its capital, Sanaa.

If the likely outcome of this campaign were any sort of stability it would be a gamble worth taking. Yet the reverse is true. In the desert east of Sanaa a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is escalating. There is no sign of Iran or the Houthis backing down, and every sign that the only real winners will be Islamist extremists who have shown from Afghanistan to Somalia that they thrive where conventional governance fails.

Britain and the United States have a clear interest in de-escalating this war, and they have leverage on both sides.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaYemenEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 14, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's been 14 years since the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. People all over the country paused to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before Wilsondebriano threw a memorial wreath into the harbor, he shared his story of the events that ultimately caused him to leave his fire station in Queens and travel to lower Manhattan inside a bus-like ambulance — just as the first tower collapsed.

“I couldn’t see the tower anymore,” he said. “In my mind, I was saying that this can’t be true.”

He called his girlfriend of six years, who told him not to go any further downtown. “I told her I’ve got to get down there to my guys,” he said.

He was stationed near the North Tower when it became the second to fall. “I felt this big rumble. ... It sounded like the biggest train that could ever be underneath me,” he said. “I looked up and I saw the top of the tower twisting as it started to collapse.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...that scene reminds me of the bright, sunny Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001. Although most of us didn’t realize it, we, America, the West, were already engaged in a life-and-death struggle against evil forces that had taken control. We only became aware of it when the planes hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and crashed into the Shanksville, PA field.

That story explains why September 11, 2001 is as present a reality to me today as it was twelve years ago. The grief I feel today is as sharp as it was then.

I did not lose any family members or close friends amongst the almost 3,000 people killed when the jihadists that we call “the 9/11 terrorists” turned three airliners full of men, women, and children into missiles. But I mourn the loss of each one, their lost potential to grace the world with their own gifts, talents, humor, and affection — their humanity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 4:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember?

Ten years ago Don DeLillo wrote that the attacks of Sept. 11 would change “the way we think and act, moment to moment, week to week, for unknown weeks and months to come, and steely years.” The historian Taylor Branch spoke of a possible “turning point against a generation of cynicism for all of us,” and Roger Rosenblatt argued in Time magazine that “one good thing could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony.”

They were wrong, of course....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtHistoryMovies & TelevisionUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Examine them all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(You may find the names of all 343 firefighters here--KSH).

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

--First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This really is quite something--explore it and see what strikes a chord with you.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....

Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyTheodicy

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our — heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way — it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope — hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian — I’m speaking for the Christian now — the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon” my righteous — on “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyChristologyTheodicy

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will benefit from your comments--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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