Just recently the first U.S. religious group to meet with an Iranian president in Iran since the revolution in 1979 returned with assurances from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran “does not intend to develop nuclear weapons” and that he is willing “to enter into direct, face-to-face talks with the United States government.”
“Even with this tragic history we have visited upon Iran for the past 55 years, there is an amazing depth of appreciation and love for the U.S. people,” said Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination’s social action agency. “There have been lots of contacts between Muslim religious leaders and Christian leaders from around the world–and with American Christians–over the years, but this was considered to be significant because it was attached to meetings with government leaders,” Winkler said.
The Weekly Standard writes: The delegation was organized by the Washington, D.C. lobby offices of the Quakers and the Mennonites and is a follow up of sorts to a meeting that several dozen religious officials, including Winkler, had with Ahmadinejad in New York last October. This time, the group will also meet with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who spoke at the Episcopal Church’s National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in September.
Besides Winkler, the Quakers, and the Mennonites, the delegation to Iran includes representatives from the National Council of Churches, Sojourners (Jim Wallis’ evangelical-left group), and Pax Christi, a liberal Catholic group.
“We are making this trip hoping it will encourage both governments to step back from a course that will lead to conflict and suffering,” explained a Quaker official, Mary Ellen McNish, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee. But the delegation acknowledges that Ahmadinejad’s unsavory positions may have to be confronted.
Over at beliefnet, Sojourners COO Jeff Carr went on the trip and blogged on the journey. Reflecting on the Iranian Hostage Crises, he writes:
“I don’t think I have ever realized how traumatizing those events were for me, and how seared into my memory and psyche they are. How they serve as a filter, even today, 28 years later, to the way I (and I surmise many other Americans) see Iran. It is the narrative that informs my thinking about Iran today and the relationship between our nations.”
Iranian born Reza Aslan speaks about the future of U.S./Iran Relations. At the World Affairs Council, Reza notes:
The strategy of the United States over the past two and half decades to contain Iran has only strengthened the hand of the country’s clerical regime and made full democracy a more distant prospect. It is time for a new approach, one that could curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force Iran out of its economic isolation, leading to the regime change that the U.S. has been striving for since 1979.
Gary Hart talks about God and Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics. In this new and sure-to-be controversial book, Hart takes the religious right to task for their assumption of political power, noting that they are both defining faith too narrowly and failing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In the process, Hart identifies the proper role of religion in democracy.
“Apropos of absolutely nothing, and sure to tick some people off: the Democratic party’s so-called religion problem is a phony one in the sense that Democrats do and always have had many people with strong faith and religious practice. But there is some truth to the notion that there is some division fierce indepence among Dems as to the question of how much energy they should expend reaching out to socially conservative religious voters. (In FoxWorld, those are the only “people of faith” who really exist.)”
Ok, does Bill McKibben sleep? Here he is at Beliefnet & Sojourners‘ God’s Politics blog. Is it just me living on the left coast and subscribing to Mother Jones (good blog post on evangelicals and Romney here), but does a new article by Bill show up somewhere every week single for you, too? The Gospel vs. Global Warming
Mainstream Baptist says that freedom is what keeps him still Baptist.
Wow, former president of Iliff School of Theology and Pacific School of Religion now barely retired Christian theologian Delwin Brown is blogging a really sharp theology of Progressive Christianity. He points out how it’s more than just anti-religious right or even how it’s different than liberal Christian theology:
The liberal failure to keep the distinctive resources of the Christian inheritance at the center of their reflection was rooted in another failure, one common to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The liberals “forgotâ€ that human beliefs and practices, individually and collectively, are fed and formed by our distinctive human histories. In other words, the liberals were seduced by “modernism.â€ Modernism is the idea that there is one truth grounded in the nature of things in such a way that thinking individuals can have immediate access to this truth through reasoned analysis of contemporary experience, without any special dependence on inherited resources. It is the idea that we don’t need history in the pursuit of truth; we can go right to the truth by thinking clearly now. The point is not that “history is bunk,â€ as Henry Ford once claimed. Rather it is that our varied histories, traditions, ancient texts and the like have no special role in guiding and testing contemporary life.
Sunday’s NYTimes included a David Kirkpatrick article about a secretive meeting of conservative Christian leaders including Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Grover Norquist. They were meeting, as usual, to discuss American politics but this year the mood is different due in part to the difficulty finding a GOP candidate that represents their issues correctly while also being able to actually win in ’08.
In “Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate,” Kirkpatrick writes:
“But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election.”
“‘I’ve never seen more disillusionment at this point in the election in 30 years,’ says a source close to the Council for National Policy, which prohibits members from discussing meetings with the media. ‘There’s a revolt out there, a feeling these top three are being pushed on us by Republican leadership in D.C.’”
In light of this dismay, here’s a roundup of what conservative blogs are saying.
True conservatives are in a bind in 2008, at least so far…
But as the super-secretive Council for National Policy broke camp this weekend the New York Times picked up on the chance to highlight all the “lack of consensus.”
And to their credit – made some very valid points…
Waimea notes his Republican bona fides, but after reading the article states, “This is why I cannot support the conservative wings of the Republican party. . should they take over the party, drives me away from being a Republican.”
I don’t consider myself a member of the Christian right of Jerry Falwell, I am a Christian and a right winger and I am having as difficult a time with a candidate as they seem to be. Though I am not having as difficult a time about Romney because of his religion as many seem to be. IMO as long as he believes in God, isn’t planning on forcing anyone to do anything to pander to his religion exclusively and isn’t a member os Islam, I have no problem with his religion.
An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings corrects the article: “Well, maybe some are hostile, but that’s really not our way. Lack of trust would be more like it. Rudy’s previous marriages aren’t a big deal in my opinion, people make mistakes, it’s his stand on the murder of babies and gay ‘rights’ with which I have a problem.”
In the NYPost John Podhoretz pounds about the reasoning,
“Many on the right profess amazement at the lead he’s opened up among Republican primary voters, considering his pro-choice views and sloppy personal life. . .When Republican voters look at Rudy Giuliani, they know one key fact about him: They know he’s no liberal.
They may not exactly know why yet, but they know it.”
But over at Free Republic, Mr. Pissant clearly has another idea as he weighs the differences between Rudy Giuliani and Duncan Hunter:
“Does the GOP become the party of moderation, or do they insist on a return to Reaganism, with the unabashed, bold conservative ideas and a willingness to ridicule the party of treason. The leading candidate right now supported a communist, Mario Cuomo, for governor of his state because he had the right ideas. The leading candidate was endorsed by the NY liberal party 3 times, because he represented much of their platform. On the flip side there is a candidate that not only espouses Reaganism, but has lived and voted it. And for bold ideas, he vows to get the border fence built in 6 months, return the power of education to the states, confront China’s growing militancy, boost our armed forces – including space based weaponry, and do everything in his power to see that Roe v. Wade becomes a footnote in history.
That my friend, is a powerful, positive agenda. Reaganesque, Thatcheresque, but certainly not Giuliani-ish.”
An informal conversation at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral with David Batstone about the fight to free the 27 million persons who live in slavery today. Yes, human trafficking exists and it permeates American culture. Professor of ethics at USF and co-founder of Business 2.0 magazine, David shares his experiences traveling 90,000 miles over five continents in writing Not for Sale while documenting the return of the global slave trade and how we can stop it.