The Justus was a free gift that I got on my second birthday, so I can take no credit for it.
On the other hand, the Peccator is something that I have spent my entire life practicing and can truthfully take full credit for.
-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower
George W. Bush is not Lord. The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian faith and practice. Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology.Sometimes one needs to state the obvious—especially at times when it's less and less obvious.
How can we get around the fact that, according to Jesus, to understand God and God's relationship with the world we have to begin with grace? This is especially troublesome for Christians, who claim to follow the teaching of Jesus, but it is also problematic for those who consider Jesus simply a wonderful teacher. After all, this wasn't a minor part of the legacy he left us; this was its central theme. We can't fault him on this without negating his entire ministry.
But how can we go along with this, really? It would mean a total reversal of our values. It would disrupt everything. Absolutely everything.
What might work is this: don't reject grace, just tame it. Honor it, by all means, and enshrine it in official confessions and praise it in religious ceremonies, but keep it within reasonable bounds, keep it away from the rest of life, keep it from running wild. If grace remains free, it will get into too much mischief. So always qualify and explain it. Preach sermons about it, if you must, but always conclude with a mighty therefore, as in "therefore, this is what you must do in response to God's grace,"
Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, said the most cunning strategy for defending ourselves against grace is to tame and harness it, to allow grace "to take its seat in the pew, cheerfully don the vestment and mount the pulpit, zealously to make Christian gestures and movements, soberly to produce theology, and in this way, consciously participating in the confession of Jesus Christ, radically to ensure that His prophetic work is halted, that it can do no more injury to itself, let alone to the world."
-- Donald McCullough, The Trivialization of God: the Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity
Joseph Wilson, in an interview broadcast Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, said he thinks the White House's posture in this controversy represents a continuing "cover-up of the web of lies that underpin the justification for going to war in Iraq."
Wilson was asked about statements by Rove's defenders noting that an e-mail describing Rove's conversation with Time reporter Matthew Cooper indicated that Rove did not specifically mention Valerie Plame by name.
"My wife's name is Mrs. Joseph Wilson," he replied. "It is Mrs. Valerie Wilson. He named her. He identified her," Wilson said. "So that argument doesn't stand the smell test ... What I do know is that Mr. Rove is talking to the press and he is saying things like my wife is fair game. That's an outrage. That's an abuse of power."
"Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, narco-trafficking, people killing each other, fundamentalists killing each other in the name of God. These and more. Many more. As our analysts know, as our collectors of intelligence know - these are our enemies. To combat them we need more intelligence, not less. We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country.
Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors."
The misinformation being spread in the media about the Plame affair is alarming and damaging to the longterm security interests of the United States. Republicans' talking points are trying to savage Joe Wilson and, by implication, his wife, Valerie Plame as liars. That is the truly big lie.For starters, Valerie Plame was an undercover operations officer until outed in the press by Robert Novak. Novak's column was not an isolated attack. It was in fact part of a coordinated, orchestrated smear that we now know includes at least Karl Rove.Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985. All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies. We had official cover. That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card.
A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her.The Republicans now want to hide behind the legalism that "no laws were broken". I don't know if a man made law was broken but an ethical and moral code was breached. For the first time a group of partisan political operatives publically identified a CIA NOC. They have set a precendent that the next group of political hacks may feel free to violate.They try to hide behind the specious claim that Joe Wilson "lied". Although Joe did not lie let's follow that reasoning to the logical conclusion. Let's use the same standard for the Bush Administration. Here are the facts. Bush's lies have resulted in the deaths of almost 1800 American soldiers and the mutilation of 12,000. Joe Wilson has not killed anyone. He tried to prevent the needless death of Americans and the loss of American prestige in the world.But don't take my word for it, read the biased Senate intelligence committee report. Even though it was slanted to try to portray Joe in the worst possible light this fact emerges on page 52 of the report: According to the US Ambassador to Niger (who was commenting on Joe's visit in February 2002), "Ambassador Wilson reached the same conclusion that the Embassy has reached that it was highly unlikely that anything between Iraq and Niger was going on." Joe's findings were consistent with those of the Deputy Commander of the European Command, Major General Fulford.The Republicans insist on the lie that Val got her husband the job. She did not. She was not a division director, instead she was the equivalent of an Army major. Yes it is true she recommended her husband to do the job that needed to be done but the decision to send Joe Wilson on this mission was made by her bosses.At the end of the day, Joe Wilson was right. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that pushed that lie and because of that lie Americans are dying. Shame on those who continue to slander Joe Wilson while giving Bush and his pack of liars a pass. That's the true outrage.
Now, for all its failings and its perversions over the last 2,000 years—and as much as every exponent of this faith has attempted to dodge this idea—it is unarguably the central tenet of Christianity: that everybody is equal in God's eyes. So you cannot, as a Christian, walk away from Africa. America will be judged by God if, in its plenty, it crosses the road from 23 million people suffering from HIV, the leprosy of the day. What's up on trial here is Christianity itself. You cannot walk away from this and call yourself a Christian and sit in power. Distance does not decide who is your brother and who is not. The church is going to have to become the conscience of the free market if it's to have any meaning in this world—and stop being its apologist. - Bono
Now, for all its failings and its perversions over the last 2,000 years—and as much as every exponent of this faith has attempted to dodge this idea—it is unarguably the central tenet of Christianity: that everybody is equal in God's eyes. So you cannot, as a Christian, walk away from Africa. America will be judged by God if, in its plenty, it crosses the road from 23 million people suffering from HIV, the leprosy of the day.
What's up on trial here is Christianity itself. You cannot walk away from this and call yourself a Christian and sit in power. Distance does not decide who is your brother and who is not. The church is going to have to become the conscience of the free market if it's to have any meaning in this world—and stop being its apologist.