Which thinketh thou was neighbor unto him who fell among thieves…?

Coincidentally, after posting yesterday about an opportunity for religious leaders to do some good vis-a-vis the building of mosques in their communities, I heard this interview on the way home. It’s interesting all the way around. The interview is with the author of Journey into America, and cit was focused specifically on troubles Muslims have in communities other than NYC and Brentwood, TN. But, what caught my ear was a side note from the author about an incident that is detailed in this post on the book’s blog.

On February 9, at 5:00 a.m., Daoud was awakened by the fire department. His Mosque and the home of the Muslim community was ablaze.

The community of 55 people at the maximum had purchased the building paid it off and was extremely proud that they had a home in the idyllic small town of Columbia in south Tennessee. The mosque was the only one within a wide radius and people from many small towns in the area came to worship there.

Three individuals had broken in, trashed the inside and tossed Molotov cocktails into the Mosque.


In the 7 years following 9/11, many have faulted the Muslim community for not speaking up enough. “Where are the moderates?”, people ask time and time again. But, many did speak up, others just didn’t know what to say. And when the Islamic Center was burned down by one of their own, the Christian community felt the same way. Many didn’t speak up. Not because they condoned the actions, but because they didn’t know what to say. Others said that the attackers were non-Christians or misguided so there is no reason for them to apologize or speak out against it.
Within a week, neighboring Muslim communities rallied and held a vigil at the sight. It was advertised an open to all. People from all faiths came and one of those was Reverend Bill Williamson from First Presbyterian Church. He had immediately sprung into action, collecting money during a service at the church and attending to present the money and take it one step further–offering a set of keys.

Reverend Williamson welcomed the displaced worshipers to visit the church. He brought Daoud and others to the Church and showed them to a room that he had set aside for them to use for meeting and prayers.

This dude was way, way, ahead of me.

If I was a Murfreesboro Minister

Or NYC area, doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter much what denomination… or even if I was the chairman of programs at the local humanist group.

This is what I’d do. I’d have a big chicken dinner on a Sunday after church. I’d encourage my congregation to attend, and invite the members of the new Mosque or Community center to join us. Discussion of religion and politics would be discouraged. Discussion about children and grandchildren and good music would be encouraged. Desert would include ice cream. Reciprocal invitations, should they come, I would accept, and encourage my congregation to accept.

Theological differences would not be allowed to be a barrier to friendship. For those who have a gospel to spread, the suggested manner of spreading it would be through a life well lived and open arms to embrace neighbors without precondition. Might this lead to a sympathetic interchange of theological views? Of course it might. In fact, it might work for spreading a gospel better than Chick Tracts, bullhorns, and nervous interviews to ask if the neighbor is certain that if they died today they would go to heaven, and did they know… ?

I would probably try to organize similar functions with other churches, from other denominations, and with local synagogues.

An afterthought to this post. .. If I was who I am, I might e-mail a suggestion of this type to some ministers in the Murfreesboro area, after I thought about it some more. I don’t know how many would be open to such a project, but I’d be willing to bet that the UU fellowship of Murfreesboro would be – even if they don’t have the facilities to make it work… or maybe one of the Nashville congregations. And I’d bet there are United Methodists who might even be willing to extend themselves this way, too. “…But Love and I had the wit to win… we drew a circle and drew him in.”

P.S. …not like this.

Moving The Nihilism Gauge

Spotted linked numerous times around the interwebs in the last 24 hours: How Facts Backfire. Not news to me. Moves the needle on my old nihilism gauge, though. I increasingly find myself wondering how is the proper way to live in a world where knowledge is strongly devalued. I’d be inclined to grow a beard and become a poet, but I’m not good at poetry.

Seriously, I don’t know which are the symptoms and which are the causes of depression – but I’m feeling down about it all. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking for a while.

Perspective adjustment

Now wouldn’t be a bad time for one.

I know they’re terrorists, but they’re our terrorist. And that’s the definition of true romance.

But the money quote is here:

That aside, here’s the neocon logic, as best I can explain: When a reporter acknowledges the passing of a revered, if controversial figure in a way that doesn’t sufficiently convey what a completely evil terrorist neocons think that figure was — that’s unacceptable. But when the United States spends nearly a trillion dollars, loses over four thousand of its own troops and over a hundred thousand Iraqis to establish a new government largely dominated by that same “terrorist’s” avowed acolytes — that’s victory.

The fact that neconservatives ever wielded such influence over US foreign policy would be comedic in its era of error if the results were not so heartbreakingly tragic. The fact that they still dictate foreign policy in the GOP is terrifying. That they are able to cow our establishment media into adopting an incoherent and unjust double standard is nothing short of shameful.

But make no mistake, if and when this country elects another Republican President, the neocons will be back at the helm of this nation’s foreign policy. One wonders if we can survive another such bout.

Further thoughts… American politics are broken badly. We’re a year and a half into complete Democratic control of government, and the American system of constitutionally protected freedom has done little but corrode further along the trends that got their momentum under the very neocons under discussion.

Buck can say better this than having McCain & Palin at the helm, but I don’t know. True, the war with Iran would likely already have been started – and true, we may manage to dodge that for a while longer. But it – or something much like it – will come. It may be that we have to “hit rock bottom” as they say sometimes before we recover our senses and our care for justice, peace, and freedom. The difference between the GOP and Democrats may very well be nothing more than a difference in tempo and route to the bottom. If hope is to be held out, it is the hope that there will exist some means of restoring justice, peace, and freedom when the time comes that we start wanting them back. There’s no guarantee that this will be the case, but we can hope.

I try to be understanding

But come on man.

You are the athletic director at a major college that tries to impress upon young people the importance of being half way sane.  And you somehow make the determination that it is okay to drink and drive?

There are no words to describe how much this pisses me off.

Brother you don’t even have half a glass of chablis with your 24 ounce porterhouse and get behind the wheel of a car. Call a cab you air headed bastard.

If he does not resign he needs to be fired and I love Damon Evans and always have. But a mistake like this needs to be a career ender and I don’t care who you are. This is one hell of a lot dumber than dissing your boss while talking with a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine.

Video Game School

I will lay odds that this, or something substantially like, it will soon revolutionize education worldwide. Ummm, I’d like to add another 500 words to fill out this endorsement, but just read the NPR article (and/or listen to it). I’ve seen the power of video games – first hand, and a very close second hand – to bring out the problem solver in all of us. The problem with educational video games is that they are simply not very good, and they don’t sustain involvement over time. Structure one correctly over time, and contextualize the problem-solving elements properly, and use it for an hour or two a day, and you will have results never dreamed possible, from kids – including those who have little hope in traditional educational environments. Watch and see.

Ashamed to be a Tennessean

Today, I am.

Ur Doing it Wrong!

One News Now (of Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials fame) still has an anti-gay streak (in the sense that a one-trick pony has a one-trick streak). But they haven’t gotten much better at it. Leading their denunciation (link disabled due to malware at ONN – URL is if you feel lucky) of Presidential acknowledgement of non-traditional families is this photo…

"Gay Family" from One News Now

… of a happy, smiling family that includes two smiling gay dads and two smiling kids being loved by them. Titled “Gay Family”. Aren’t you supposed to give them horns and hooked noses?

Wildmon complains that people shouldn’t put the “twisted sexual desires” of adults ahead of the welfare of children. If he said twisted sexual taboos instead of desires, then he would be uttering the very condemnation of his little clan of busybodies that they most need to hear.

A Local Story

No one got shot, but this got a lot of attention around town yesterday, and it’s almost as bad.


How did I get to be thirty something years old and never hear of the Flamin’ Groovies?