An odyssey into the wild

Considering the next post below, commenting on David Brooks op-ed piece, is Bob Carlton and a post on his blog, The Corner:

So many faith community I know view the definition of a young adult as someone who has a functioning prostrate, they view technology as a necessary evil, handled by an “amateur” who tends their website like a junk yard. Ministry with young people has gotta be more than hoping “they” will show up & like what “we” did. It’s gotta be more than presence or program or purpose or even pathetic. It’s gotta be more than apprenticing to join the borg that is churchianity. Brooks is dead on with he observes that:

some social institutions flourish — knitting circles, Teach for America — while others — churches, political parties — have trouble establishing ties.

What if we set off on an odyssey, with no certain destination, no expectation of who will join us, no “map drawn with ink”, no products sponsored by some faceless industrialist – just an odyssey out into the wild.

I have to confess, I absolutely love his description of the definition of “young adult!” Too funny.

Some post-modern thoughts

I was responding to a post on Titusonenine. Just a thought: Anyone who teaches can probably say that too many of us are not very willing to put in the time and hard effort to really learn something. We would rather simply be told, and then end it (and perhaps forget it). I wonder how much this plays into our current troubles.
When I was finishing my master’s degree in college student development, we were studying human development theories. One of the theories was Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. One stage was basically defined as “dualistic thinking” – black/white, right/wrong, a way of thinking that categorized everything easily and simply. People in this stage knew, definitely and unquestioningly, what was good and right and what was not. Studies can show that too many people remain in this stage without moving on. Kohlberg might say that they have not truly developed an honest and mature morality.
Now, someone could work their way through the remaining stages and come to the end point holding a moral position (conclusion) that is the same as when they were in the dualistic stage, but they did the hard work necessary to come to the conclusion honestly.
I wonder if too many of us find it easier to stop at the dualistic stage (liberal and conservative). We find an answer that we like, and stop. Then, we are determined to defend it against opposition or contrary information. We sometimes fear the outcome of questioning. Then, we are determined to demand that all others abide by our and our group’s “orthodox” definitions. Before becoming an Anglican, when I was a good American-Evangelical, if found too many of us as Christians in this position. It’s just easier.
I think, perhaps, that within post-modern ways of thinking that there is a resistance to being stuck in a stage, if you will. There is a willingness to look at things from all different perspectives before drawing conclusions and a resistance to those who say, “this is how it is and there is no need to rethink or question it. You, therefore, must accept it.” That makes me feel better about myself and my beliefs.
It takes time to work through stages. It takes time to learn. In the process we at times think wrongly and act wrongly, but we cannot bring up short the process of learning. As a teacher, this is clear, but it seems when we look at religion or faith we are less likely to give the process it’s due. We would rather the immediacy of imposition than allow people the time necessary to question, to be wrong, to wonder, to be in the midst of quandary, to wrestle, and to conclude – to do the honest work.
Just some thoughts.
NY Times Op-ed piece by David Brooks: The Odyssey Years

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Iraqi Christians

One of the little heard of outcomes of the invasion of Iraq is the desolation of the Christian communities there. All those good, God fearing American citizens who have championed the war in order to protect their own skin and material stuff hardly lift a pinky of concern for the tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been killed, attacked, driven into exile, and now live in fear of their lives and destitution.
Christian communities have existed in Iraq from the very beginning. It is ironic that Saddam made sure that they were able to exist and worship in relative freedom and security. I don’t think that Iraqi’s were better under Saddam by any means, but for the most part existence was easier for them then, than now. Christians now live in constant fear – and it is a result of what we have done. What a great thing we have accomplished, eh?
Here is part of an interview by the BBC with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, during his travels in the Middle East:

Q: Help me understand Archbishop, why these Christians, these exiles from Iraq have been targeted?
A: Since the Iraq war, Christian communities in Iraq which have lived there for literally thousands of years have been seen as, in some sense, agents of the West. People described how the sort of notes that were pushed under their door, the messages and threats they received said ‘you are American agents’ or ‘you are Zionist agents and we’re going to have to get rid of you.’ So there’s a very clear link in people’s minds with the conflict.
Q: That link is a causal link in effect and I don’t want to put words into your mouth. Britain and America invaded Iraq and therefore these Iraqi Christians are suffering. Is that a link that you would make?
A: I’m afraid it’s a very clear link. This is the link that’s made locally and whether justly or not, that is how it’s seen. Now, as I say, these are Christians who’ve lived in that society for generations, they’re not newcomers, they’re not aliens. Certain – I’m happy to say small – extremist groups regard them as aliens, it suits their own political agenda. But these are groups with no scruples and with considerable resources.

Read it all


I really do think that we in the West (European Union & the U.S.) are in the process of alienating Turkey at a time when we should not. The European Union keeps putting off and putting off decisions about whether to include Turkey within the European Union – to the point where the most resent poll I read put the desire of Turks to be in the EU at only 35-40% (it was as high as 70% just a while ago).
Muslim Turkey is never going to be like Christian Europe. They may technically share he same continent, but the culture and history are so vastly different. That’s alright, but if the decision makers in the EU keep demanding that Turkey first become like them in so many areas of national and cultural life, then Turkey will never be a member.
What does that mean? The secular Turks have looked to Europe as a means of maintaining the secular nature of the Turkish state, as established by Ataturk, over and against the example of the numerous Muslim states. If they are continually rebuffed by Europe, well, that can only happen for so long. Then what? Turkey will then look to its more natural associates – the Muslim Middle East – the Arabs and Persians, despite the animosities that have existed between Turks, Arabs, and Persians.
We already see the pressures of the Muslim nationalists in Turkey. We see the rise for the more radical Islamic movements. The current government is headed by a devoted and practicing Muslim. While the government and military have said they are determined to maintain the secular nature of the state, if the people rise up the only option is military intervention and a return to dictatorship (which will only solidify the resolve of the EU to keep them out). I know how the Germans regarded the Turks in Germany. I honestly believe some of the reluctance to accept Turkey has to do with European xenophobia (an odd sounding assertion, I know).
In my humble opinion, the West needs to give a little. Turkey needs to be more tightly integrated into Europe in order to provide an example of a predominately Muslim country living in a relatively free and democratic form within a sphere greater than Muslim states in the Middle East. We should not expect Turkey or Turkish society to mirror those of the West, even as we do call for Turkey and its government and military to be respectful of human rights and increase the protection of civil freedoms and economic opportunity different from religiously imposed ideologies.