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60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians


I have a proposal at the end of this blog. I hope some of you will take me up on it!

Even I am curious about why Israel and Palestine are appearing in my blog posts to such an extent lately! I guess we can say it’s because they keep coming to the forefront of world events!

If you missed the segment about Palestinian Christians done by Bob Simon on

60 Minutes

60 Minutes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

60 Minutes, last night, here it is, within an article about it in “The Atlantic“. Click on the video to watch it.

60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians – Robert Wright – International – The Atlantic.

I’ve said that you can only learn the truth about what is going on in the West Bank by going to Palestine and hearing from the people there, but this is almost as good!

I’m also adding a link to, “Tent of Nations”, a Christian farming enterprise in Palestine, surrounded by three settlements. I’ve wanted to give you their perspective for quite some time.

http://www.tentofnations.org/

What do I hope to accomplish with my blog posts?

One small, but realistic goal is that Christians in the United States who visit Israel might do a simple thing. When you tour Israel, let your tour guides know that you want to attend an Evangelical or Orthodox Church in Bethlehem, the West Bank, on Sunday morning. Be persistent. Some guides discourage these visits.

These visits will encourage the “Living Stones”, Christians who remain in the Holy Land, and present an opportunity to learn directly from them. It seems like a small thing for a visiting Christian to do.

I will publish a list of churches in Bethlehem (a short drive from Jerusalem) soon.

We Christians are exhorted in our Holy Book to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

If we haven’t already been doing this, it’s a good time to begin.  Peace is not within reach anytime soon, but at least, long established misconceptions are being uncovered.

Vulnerability: Obama’s Lack of “An Enduring Emotional Connection”


Cover of "Dreams from My Father: A Story ...

Cover via Amazon

According to a CBS News poll only 41% of Americans believe President Obama deserves to be re-elected.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama said that his ideas were “mainstream” , but that the GOP is against anything he supports.

Why does such a popularly elected President appear to be so out of touch with the “mainstream”?

I think it is easy to understand from reading his biography, Dreams from My Father. A child whose father rejects him, never quite knows where he “fits” in the world at large. His life is full of choices: to ignore his inner heart, become a social barometer, change with the moods of the people around him…think Bill Clinton. He grows up with many emotional problems, possibly becoming an abuser or criminal.

Or, he, like Barack Obama learns to be quietly comfortable with himself, his intellectual pursuits, perhaps his family. He understands how to live “duty”,  to serve others, but his heart remains covered and protected. I think that is why I remain prayerful and compassionate towards President Obama. I see in him a wounded child, tremendously bright and well-meaning but vulnerable.

John Meacham Executive editor, Random House observed on Morning Joe this morning, that  like most people, the President operates on two speeds. President Obama operates primarily in the intellectual and analytical “gear”. His fundamental failure to establish an “enduring emotional connection” to the American people is a systemic failure.

But consider this.

Surprisingly, a NBC Marist Poll put out last week in South Carolina, a state that has not voted Democrat since Jimmy Carter 1976,  found that in a General Election match up, had Barack Obama leading both Gingrich and Romney  (42% 42%)

What is going on?

It appears that, compared to Obama, the GOP seems even less “connected”

More than One Cup of Tea


Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

 The news articles about Greg Mortenson have great significance to me.  It’s not because I’ve invested much money in his Institute, I haven’t.

I believe it’s important to invest in Afghan education, and he first made it real for us, by writing about girls’ schools.

We took Afghan friends to West Point to hear him speak, and they said he made more sense than any other Westerner they’d heard yet speaking about their country!

I really trust their opinions. So, while I want to be objective, I’m also certain this story isn’t finished yet.

Greg Mortenson‘s climbing partner has weighed in on the scandal involving Central Asia Institute and misuse of funds. I’m relieved to hear that he’s refuting some of the quotes attributed to him by Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes.  Unfortunately, the damage may have already been done to Greg Mortenson’s reputation, and his undeniably noble work.

To argue over whether Afghan men are calling themselves “Taliban” which means student, and whether they detained, or kidnapped Greg, (when Greg says he was kept in their camp at gunpoint) seems utterly silly and Western to me! Someone actually went up to these guys and asked them a direct question??? Give me a break!

I’ve seen the public comment section in every article on the internet run the gamut from support for Mortenson, to condemnation. Many seem to take personal pleasure in finding this simple man a “fraud”.

I’ve written my opinion before;  my belief that he is a pioneer who means well, but doesn’t fit inside typical boundaries, and is certainly not an administrator.

How else could he travel through the wilderness using someone else’s tooth-brush, or go without underwear for weeks on end as he claims in his book?  Nicholas Kristoff confirms his uniqueness in his investigative report where he tells of Greg showing up to speak wearing only one shoe.

http://http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/opinion/21kristof.html

 From a Western mind-set, it may sound bizarre, but I suspect this ‘flaw’ makes for Greg’s success in Central Asia.  Some Arabs  have told me that the State Department misses much information because it is so tangled in red tape.  Information gatherers understand very little about the Middle East because they don’t know how to talk to the “man on the street”.

Greg’s ability to operate without structure in the wilderness of Central Asia is probably his downfall in the structured West.

Read his climbing partner’s story below:

http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-ga-scott-darsney-greg-mortenson-three-cups-of-deceit-response-sidwcmdev_155822.html

To read another opinion from a donor please see:

Greg Mortenson Speaks Out


Stones Into Schools, by Greg Mortenson

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

In an exclusive interview with OUTSIDE Magazine, Greg Mortenson answers many of the questions raised by Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes.

I think that his having raised awareness here in the West about the educational needs of Afghan children, especially girls, goes a long way towards making up for having inconsistent breaks in the timeline of his books.

Of course, allegations about misuse of funds must be checked out.  For me, I suspect the nuanced life of Central Asia is perfectly suited to Greg’s personality and is also his downfall, making it difficult for Westerners to wrap their minds around “discrepancies” in the book.

His explanations sound plausible to me, and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt while he makes changes in his financial accountability.

Given the fact that ‘Taliban‘ means student, I see no conflict there. Who is going to confess they were “Taliban” to an American news team??? Time will tell.

When I think of all that Greg has done, the many rough roads he has traveled in Pakistan and Afghanistan: I can’t help but salute him for the courage of his convictions and persistence in his calling.

While many millions of us sat comfortably in our living rooms, Greg was out walking the difficult, and very dangerous roads of Afghanistan and Pakistan bringing us stories about their kids. I’m one person who is very thankful for him!

Read his interview below:

http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-ga-greg-mortenson-interview-sidwcmdev_155690.html

Greg, We Hardly Knew Ya


Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David...

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

This is one of the saddest posts I’ve ever written. I believe Greg Mortenson has done much good for the Afghan and Pakistani children by bringing awareness of their faces to the West. I hope he can step through this shameful circumstance, and redeem himself and his organization.

Above all, I pray that the valuable lessons he passed on about Central Asian Culture won’t be discarded or ignored by all who are involved there.

Please pray for Greg’s dreams to become reality.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/18/greg-mortenson-60-minutes_n_850319.html