Cornel West to Barack Obama: “How deep is your love?”

Excerpts:

Despite your brilliance, despite your charisma, I’m disappointed when it comes to the fundamental question of priorities, of urgency. How deep is your love for poor and working people?

You’ve changed the image of America, but don’t simply be the friendly face of the American empire. Many lives hang on your courage, and you cannot do it alone.

I believe like Martin Luther King that democracy can be reinvigorated, can be revitalized. But it takes courage–you can’t just cut deals; you have to take a stand. You have to have backbone.

In the end, it’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about any isolated set of individuals. It’s about forces that will ensure that poor and working people can live lives of decency and dignity.

“We hunt people for Jesus”

My friend Heather spent two and a half years in Afghanistan doing photography and communications work for developmental NGOs. She wrote this blog in response to video footage of an American military chaplain encouraging soldiers to “hunt people for Jesus.”

Training the military to convert those at whom they point weapons is not only a grave misuse of power, but a reinforcement of extremists’ stereotypes, putting American lives at risk.

Hensley’s language of “hunting people” and “sending the hounds of heaven after them” suggests nothing but conquering; it implies perpetrating violence against, and the oppression of, people created in the image of God. Jesus told a parable saying “As much as you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” Why? Because our treatment of those on the fringes — the widow, the orphan, the alien and stranger … our perceived enemies — is indicative of the moral climate of our society. Our treatment of these is an outworking of the way we love our God.

Jesus did not live and breathe in a political void. Jews had been waiting and waiting for the Messiah to come — for their savior to overthrow the Romans in a violent revolution. Yet Jesus chose not to engage militarily. Instead, he loved and he died. This is my Jesus — leading a life in which love disarms arguments, heals the chasms of stereotype, and makes the feared Other part of the family.

As one of the blog commenters pointed out, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15 don’t often get much coverage from the pulpit:

You cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

“Who Would Jesus Shoot?” Rendered Moot

After an outcry from Christians and people of other faiths, Trijicon has released a statement saying it will no longer imprint Bible verses on its gunsights. Thank you, Trijicon, for your quick and responsible action on this matter.

Who would Jesus shoot?

In case you haven’t already seen this, it’s been discovered that gunsights on weapons used by British and American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with coded biblical references, including:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace, words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?!

On the website of Trijicon, the US-based manufacturer, it states: “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.” Which of course is clearly congruent with SHOOTING people.

Clearly.

No wonder Christians have a bad name. You’d think we’d learned our lessons from the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. But apparently not.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 2pm EST): Now cross-posted over at God’s Politics.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 4pm EST): If you’d like to sign a petition asking the Pentagon to stop using weapons branded with Bible verses, you can do so here.

The Wisdom of FDR

Visited the FDR Memorial over the weekend, and read again some of his timeless words of wisdom:

The last weeks of 2009

Last week, I celebrated Christmas with Aaron, Amy and Elijah in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”) and of Amy’s family. It was great spending a few days outside of DC, and with an awesome and wonderfully welcoming family.

To boot, last week …

  • I got to go on a tour of the East Wing of the White House.
  • I got to talk with family in Australia, Hong Kong, and California.
  • I got to talk with friends in New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. (What up, iChat video conferencing?!)
  • I got to watch a truckload of enjoyable movies: Avatar, Invictus, The Blind Side, The Invention of Lying, and Sherlock Holmes.

It was a good week. 🙂

[For Christmas pics, check out my Facebook.]

This week, I’m in snowbound St Louis for Urbana 2009, InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. I’m here with Sojourners, who are co-leading the Poverty and Advocacy track along with World Vision and International Justice Mission. It’s the first time in Urbana’s history that they’re looking at advocacy as a form of mission, and so it’s a pretty momentous occasion and an exciting development.

One of the things we’re launching this week is the Human Wrong Initiative, which is geared towards combating child slavery in all its forms: prostitution, forced labor, and child-soldiering. Of the 27 million people still in slavery today, about half are women and children.

This is how the world is today. But it is not how the world should be. Nor how the world needs to be. Join us, get involved, let your friends know. Let’s stamp out child slavery.

The other thing that’s happening (that I’m involved with) is helping Sojourners lead a night of lament for the injustice in the world; that’ll take place tomorrow (December 29th). I’ll only be speaking for a few minutes, but I’m gonna be laying the groundwork for the couple hundred students in our track to engage with God in this way, so I’d appreciate your prayers!

[Pics to Urbana will follow. :)]

Links of the Day, November 26

Happy Thanksgiving!

Green

  • China and the US unveil emissions targets ahead of Copenhagen.

Miscellaneous