Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Evil in God's world

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis photo of the moon behind a pine tree in my back yard was taken - some would say appropriately - on Halloween. The skies were slightly foggy, but I could still see the stars, the moon was about 1/2 full and the temperature was warm. The wind was blowing slightly, just enough to make the dying leaves on the trees rattle. I don't celebrate Halloween - there's too much attached to it for me, and as a Christian I oppose much of what it stands for. But how do we define evil? What do we call it? My last paper at Regent is an exploration of that and similar questions.

Right now, I am in the preliminary stages of studying theodicy, which can be defined as defending God in the face of evil. It's kind of like when people ask "how can a loving God allow little children to die in (pick one, Indonesia, Pakistan, Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc)."

The argument comes down to if God is all-powerful, how can all this bad stuff happen. The real question seems to be how can God allow evil to be perpetrated in His world if He is Almighty? Is it that He is not good? That He gets some kind of pleasure out of sufferings?

Or is He indifferent - this is what the Deists argue - that God made the watch, started it and then left it to run on its own.

Or maybe He is not all-powerful; perhaps He doesn't control everything.

So far I keep running into a couple of terms that everybody seems to be using.

Natural evil - the bad stuff (earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, floods, etc) that happen in the earth. Some of what I have seen says that this is the result of (a) living in a broken world; (b) man's inhumanity to man by building houses on earthquake fault lines or shacks near the ocean; (c) the direct action of the devil.

Moral evil - the bad things that men do to one another - killing, raping, looting, shooting, burning, cheating them out of their money, etc. These are the things that are under our control. Stuff that we don't have to do, but choose to do.

Religious evil - this one seems to come up occasionally. This is the bad stuff that we do towards God - which includes ignoring Him, denying Him, worshipping someone or something other than him, and the bad things we do in His name - think Jihadists or those who shoot abortion doctors as an example.

As I said, I have just begun to explore this stuff. But it's a lot more serious that spooks and candy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Freedom Fighter

Tim & Friends in DjiboutiThis is a shot of a friend of mine, Tim, with some guys in his unit in Djibouti. I wrote about him earlier (Now it's Personal). Tim is a member of the NCIS and has been deployed for a year. That means that he won't see his wife Alexis, and his kids for a while - 525,600 minutes. Tick, tick, tick.

I stayed with Tim and his family and drank beer next to his fire pit and talked with his kids and slept in his basement when I was doing an internship this summer. We have also had several classes together at Regent University.

Now he's in the middle of bleedin' nowhere and I'm in DC making a living. It was stunning to see his uniform hanging in his closet when I was at his crib. It reminded me that my friend is in a dangerous buisness. Keeping me, and the rest of us, safe. Thanks, Tim. Come home soon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Kill People, Break Things

cluster bombsA couple of my colleagues and I got into a slightly heated discussion about Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon this summer. Granted, the Israelis used these things two days before a cease fire.

And God help us, they don't always go off, and that means that people who live there or are trying to rebuild southern Lebanon hit them and die when they do. The things that we have to ask outselves is why do we make - and supply - them to Israel and other nations. And come to find out, Hezbollah also used them, according to Human Rights Watch.

See we're not the only ones who make these things. The Chinese also make them, and because China needs hard currency, and Iran - which backs Hezbollah - has plenty of that and is willing to spend it to supply its "brothers" then Hezbollah gets its hands on cluster bombs.

But I don't hear anyone with their knickers in a twist about Hezbollah firing these instruments of death at Israel.

And don't think this is just "the big. bad U.S. supply instruments of death to their subordinates in Israel." Not so dear reader. Here's a partial list of the countries that possess - and use - these weapons.

Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Italy, India, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Syria, Sudan,Thailand, United Arab Emriates,United States, United Kingdom.

And war is "kill people and blow up things." The thing that makes me upset is that these type of weapons have a place in our world. It's a much more brass-knuckled place than I would like, but it is what it is.

What really upset me is that one of my colleagues was stupid enough to say that these munitions are painted yellow or flourescent green so they would attract children. Please, don't flog me with your stupidity. These munitions are to be used against military targets. But this woman is Lebanese-American and just got back from Northern Iraq. So maybe she has an ax to grind.

These are horrendous weapons. And Israel dropped a shitload of them on Lebanon. But let's be real. If there weren't people in the world who wanted to do us harm, we wouldn't need these perfectly crafted killing machines. That doesn't mean dropping them on civilian areas is right.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Autumnal musings

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe days are turning cooler here in Northern Virginia. The leaves have begun to change color, and the nights are getting crisp. The smell of burning leaves is already in the air and the school buses gather and discharge their daily loads of chattering children. The sunlight has turned from the bluish white heat of summer to the golden longing of autumn. Soon there will be pumpkin pies and fires in the fireplace and the long nights turning colder. Orion will be visible and the big dipper will drop low in the sky.

This autumn marks seven years since my loving wife and I were married. It also marks her birthday (don't even think I'm going to tell you which one!) This year I will get the Masters degree that I have worked (and spent thousands of dollars) for.

This year we have changed churches, and we are finding some of the same problems at the new one as at the old one. No church is perfect, because no person is perfect.And the leadership at this church seems more open to change. We are still learning people's names, but we are excited with the new fellowship.

My job has continued for now and whether the Mark Foley scandal will be enough to give the Democrats the House remains to be seen. I have worked in Democratic Administrations and Republican Administrations. They are both equally useless.

There have been some internal changes this autumn. God is working on my heart. Old beliefs are giving way to new ones. Old habits are dying and new ones are sprouting.

There have been days when I thought I could barely make it through I was so tired. There have also been days I wanted to bottle and hold and save. I have cried some days and laughed so hard other days I thought I would break open.

The Redskins suck. Again. But people keep hoping that they will be like the teams that won the Super Bowl. Hope springs eternal for some.

One of my good friends from school is in Djibouti. He misses his wife and kids and they miss him. Desperately. Yet his wife seems to have a strength that I admire. Somehow, she makes it through without him, waiting for him to come home.

I still have dialup Internet, which makes loading photos or other big documents slow. I hate it. But I don't want a $100 cable bill to speed things up. So we get through. Slowly.

I wish I could take days like today and absorb them, like the ground does the dew. Then when the world was cold, or cruel, or ugly, I could let out some of the beauty that surrounds me. Then the world would seem better, if only for a little while.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just for giggles

I saw this ad while watching Desperate Housewives last week.

This is the FUNNIEST ad I have seen in a long time. The baboon is hilarious.

Click the title of this post to see it. And make sure you're not at work, because folks will think you're nuts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The End of the Year

It was one of those days today in DC - the kind of day when playing hooky looks like the most redemptive thing that you can do. When being a responsible adult just doesn't fit your idea of what God had in mind for you.

But who am I kidding?

They don't pay you for indulging your childlike whims - the desire to run and play and fall into a pile of leaves or lie on your back and look at the sky. So I did the next best thing - I took pictures.

This image is of the World War II Memorial on the Mall just after sunset. I had no idea it was so beautiful.

I love DC this time of year - partially because the Congress has done us all a favor and gotten out of town so the traffic is lighter - but most of all because it is the time of year when the city looks its best. The air is not as humid as in the summer, and so you can see farther. The colors of the leaves are beginning to emerge, so there is a diversity of brilliant hues covering the city. Even today, some of the yellows were visible in the tops of trees along the Mall.

They had the Library of Congress National Book Festival on the Mall today too. Thousands of people lined up to buy books, hear talks by authors on various subjects like mystery or biography or children's books. But by far the biggest line was for the book signings. And the most popular line was for Bob Woodward to sign his new book about the Iraq war and what a shambles it is. There were a lot of people in line with that one.

Is it one of the tyrannies of our time that you don't appreciate where you are, but always want to be somewhere else? Walking down the street today, I saw people of all kinds, young, old, families, children, all races and all out for different reasons. I was like a mosaic or a tapestry - but all of us were under the same glorious golden sun. Flower at the Botanical garden

A new part of the Botanical Garden opened today near the Capitol building. (Actually they had the big shindig for it yesterday, with Mrs. Bush there along with several Capitol Police armed with automatic weapons guarding the place). It looks like a landscaper's dream yard. I couldn't get into it today because it had closed, but I will.

Then there was the sunset. Sometimes sunsets are almost sacred. I remember sitting on top of Cooper's Rock outside Morgantown, West Virginia when I was in college and watching the sunset. The sun was a flame orange ball that slowly sank over the horizon. The Cheat River below us turned from a bright green to a dark gray and then the nights this time of year would get cold.
So cold you could see your breath. Sunset in DC Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWear a sweater or a coat cold. Curl up with your honey next to the fire kind of cold. Not bitter cold like Winter; just cold enough where you knew Summer was over and it was time for fires and wine and friendship.

There was one of those sunsets tonight here too. I didn't get all of it in my camera, but I got a little bit. Like I said - it was one of those days.