Standing in the Place of Christ

++Rowan at the WCC; photo credit WCC

There is a difference between seeing the world as basically a territory where systems compete, where groups with different allegiances live at each other’s expense, where rivalry is inescapable, and seeing the world as a territory where being in a particular place makes it possible for you to see, to say and to do certain things that aren’t possible elsewhere. The claim of Christian belief is not first and foremost that it offers the only accurate system of thought, as against all other competitors; it is that, by standing in the place of Christ, it is possible to live in such intimacy with God that no fear or failure can ever break God’s commitment to us, and to live in such a degree of mutual gift and understanding that no human conflict or division need bring us to uncontrollable violence and mutual damage. From here, you can see what you need to see to be at peace with God and with God’s creation; and also what you need to be at peace with yourself, acknowledging your need of mercy and re-creation.

—Rowan Williams at the World Council of Churches 9th Assembly in Brazil

Read the whole message here.

Serenata

From van Gogh's _La passeggiata al chiaro di luna_

Con la mano recojo este vacío,
imponderable noche, familias estrelladas,
un coro más callado que el silencio,
un sonido de luna, algo secreto, un triángulo,
un trapecio de tiza.
Es la noche oceánica, la soledad tercera,
una vacilación abriendo puertas, alas,
la población profunda que no tiene presencia
palpita desbordando los nombres del estuario.

Noche, nombre del mar, patria, racimo, rosa!

Pablo Neruda

Iraqi Christians Are Now Targets

iraqchurchbomb08-01-04.jpgSome very disturbing news for Christians today. Four coordinated car-bomb attacks have taken place against Christian churches in Baghdad. The latest number of casualties I’ve seen is around a dozen, with a lot more wounded. I’m guessing there are probably more casualties, though.

Apparently, the Iraqi Christians have been growing increasingly concerned with the rise of fundamentalist Islam since the US invasion. Most people think, though, that the people who carried out these attacks are attempting to increase tension between the various social groups in Iraq.

“15 killed in Iraqi church blasts” —Reuters UK

Other articles on this event at Google

Pictures from the BBC: “In pictures: Iraq church blasts”

Lord God, bring aid and strength to your faithful in Iraq. Bring justice to the evil ones who did this, and receive your martyrs, I pray. Amen.

The Fires That Rage

As most Americans have probably heard by now, Southern California seems to be virtually engulfed in flames. If one is fortunate enough to live in an area not directly endangered by the seeming firestorm, one is constantly reminded of it by the billows of brown smoke hovering over one’s head, rendering the sun and its rays a strange orange hue and increasing the temperature by not a small amount.

I feel like I’m living in Arizona.

One of the lesser publicized fires has been wreaking its destruction on my home county of Ventura. The small towns of Santa Paula and Fillmore have been most directly affected. Last night, my parents and I rushed out to help a long-time family friend from church get some stuff out of his house, which happens to be in the hills of Santa Paula.

When I had gotten home, I smelled like I had been sitting in front of a campfire all day. Luckily, our friend’s house has not been burned, but many others’ have. There was also a hospital in the fire’s projected path, but I don’t think that was hit either, thank God.

My parents snapped some pictures of the Santa Paula fire, which had been driven by an easterly wind. That wind was mildly discomforting to Venturans, by the way, because Santa Paula lies east up a valley toward Fillmore. Please pray for us Southern Californians, that not too many lose their lives or possessions. This is also an opportunity that can definitely be used by God for the good, so please also pray that his love and comfort will be felt by all affected by these fires.

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I came across this passage yesterday in church. Interesting and very visual.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

O LORD, my God, You are very great;

You are clothed in glory and majesty,

wrapped in a robe of light;

You spread the heavens like a tent cloth.

He sets the rafters of His lofts in the waters,

makes the clouds His chariot,

moves on the wings of the wind.

He makes the winds His messengers,

fiery flames his servants.

-Ps. 104.1-4 (JPS)

Aspiring Missionary Doctor Decapitated

No, not in some heathen region of the world, right in the elevator of a hospital. In one of the freakiest of freak accidents I have ever heard of, a doctor who had been planning on bringing his skills into the mission field was decapitated by an elevator! I have never heard of anything like this happening before. This is so tragic. I also feel for the woman who was trapped in the elevator for about 15 minutes. How horrible… Why, how could this happen?

Doctor decapitated by faulty elevator at St. Joseph Hospital -Houston Chronicle

UPDATE: Okay, well, here’s another one. A guy working on a fair ride was impaled on a fence after being grabbed by his long hair by a passing roller coaster car and dropped from about 40 feet in the air. Jeez, what is going on here?

Man killed when hair is caught in fairgrounds ride -The Sun Link.com

Random stuff

Some interesting news that happened to catch my eye today…

Iraqi_football.jpgThis first item is pretty embarassing. After handily kicking many Iraqi asses in the second Gulf War, Americans got STOMPED by Iraqis in a soccer match, 11-0. Of course, most Americans (and probably most of the people who read this blog) could care less. Why? Because it’s soccer! Who cares about soccer?? Well, it is only the best sport on the planet; but other than that, I guess I can see NFL-heads’ point.

Iraqis beat U.S. 11-0 on return to national stadium (MSNBC)

sars_mask.jpgApparently, and happily, it seems SARS is on the downturn. The article I link to below says it is mainly due to the weather change and to careful hygiene. I want to hope that this SARS thing, at least on an epidemic level, has gone away, but that’s probably a little naïve, don’t you think?

How high temperatures and hygiene tamed a killer (Times Online)

ER_Putin.jpgFormer KGB bigwig, Russian president Vladimir Putin is now staying at Buckingham Palace with his wife. This visit is pretty interesting, because it’s the first time a Russian head of state has paid a visit to Britain since 1874. Anyone know what happened a few decades later? Her Royal Highness’s distant cousin (so I hear) and his family were killed after he was deposed from his czarship (is that a word?). Of course after that, as we all know, that great experiment in human civilization that came out so well drove the two countries further apart. Relations between Russia and Britain and the US are pretty interesting to think about. You’ll notice that if Russia ever calls either of the two an “ally,” it is pretty much always in some limited geopolitical context. I forget where I saw this the other day, but I read a remark made by some anonymous Kremlin aide that the hope is that this visit may be the first step toward becoming allies with Britain. Interesting…

Britain rolls out red carpet as Putin begins state visit (Yahoo! Singapore News)

mushbush2.jpgMeanwhile, here in the US of A, another meeting of heads of state is occurring; perhaps more important (or at least relevant) to Americans. Pervez Musharraf, military coup-appointed leader of Pakistan is meeting with Bush, who is eager to reward him for all his cooperation in “the war on terror.” I don’t know what I think of the guy; sometimes he seems to be a good guy, other times not so great. Anyway, India ain’t too happy that he’s gotten in so well with Dubya. Apparently, the big prize Musharraf has had his eyes on this trip was a hoped-for deal with the US in which Pakistan could acquire some F-16s. And they aren’t intending to use ‘em on the al-Qaida freaks (perhaps including Osama, according to Pervez) roaming around the border region on Pakistan’s Afghanistan side. It’s interesting how the US has been pretty much disengaged from the bickering between India and Pakistan, which has, at times, almost elevated to nuclear crisis level. It seems like there are a million webs of connections between different world entities and geopolitical issues. You pull on one, you get a whole lot you didn’t ask for.

Bush Says Osama, Saddam Will Be Captured (ABCNews.com)

Lorne_Craner.jpgAnd then there is the ongoing situation in Burma, where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has still not been released. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Lorne Craner, has indicated the US has pretty much had it with Burma’s shenanigans. I don’t know what the State Department is planning, if anything. It’s nice that they’re being so vocal in their opposition to the actions of the Burmese government. I think words will be the extent of it, though. I really don’t know what else can be done in this situation. Well, there are sanctions in place and it looks like there will be more to come, but I am very skeptical of the effectiveness of this form of pressure (cf. Cuba, Iraq, Iran, etc. etc.).

Official Says US Has Lost Patience with Burma (Voice of America News)

hp_and_the_ootp.jpgAnd of course there is Harry Potter and his fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This book has broken every record a book can break (well, it seems that way) and the series and its author continue to intrigue me. I’ve experienced firsthand the degree of the unwillingness of most children to read anything. It’s pretty bizarre to me, frankly. It’s also disheartening (as an English teacher) and really perplexing. The Harry Potter books are amazing in that they are breaking records, and the group breaking the records is the very same group that usually “hates” to read. Time has an interesting article on why this may be so. Check it out; it’s a worthwhile read. In the meantime, Christians are still trying to figure out if these books are okay or not. I’ve heard pretty much every view and I think it’s an important question for Christians to keep on asking. I’m still not decided on whether or not I would let my (hypothetical) kids read the books, but I lean toward a more positive stance. At any rate, I have not read them and I would like to, at least to see what all the hype is about. Perhaps some enlightenment on the subject of whether they are appropriate for Christian children to read would come to me as well. Thus, I’ve finally added them to my Amazon wish list, which has simply become a list of books I don’t want to forget about and maybe someday purchase. You should check it out; it is now an impressive nineteen(!!) pages long!

Well, as always, I love to hear what you think about stuff going on in the world, so post it up! Ciao.