Archive for March, 2003

The New American Century

Are you ready for the New American Century?

According to a recent documentary on CBC this war in Iraq is just one step in America’s journey to assert dominance over the world.

The following are quotes from Act of Faith” a documentary of The Fifth Estate” on Canada’s CBC.

The (Gulf) war was over but here in Washington not everyone was celebrating. Powerful hawks in the defence policy establishment were already drafting a secret strategy to pick up where Desert Storm left off. America is the most powerful military and economic force in human history. That power should henceforth be used for the advancement of American interests. Even if it meant the pre-emptive use force against anyone perceived to pose a threat. Even if it meant going it alone in defiance of America’s friends and allies. It was a blue print for American domination of the future which was one good reason to keep it under wraps but the details leaked out. In diplomatic circles its sheer audacity was stunning.

Paul Wolfowitz, then US undersecretary of defence for policy, was the author of what was being called a new doctrine for American dominance of the 21st century. When he presented it the first president Bush it seems a shiver ran down his spine too. In foreign relations America would remain a team player for the moment.

The 90’s were the Clinton years. For the hawks on the hard right it was a wasted decade. Foreign policy was ad hoc and in their view spineless.

Paul Wolfwitz…wanted to change that, he and some like minded thinkers set up a think tank. The Project for a New America Century calling for a new muscular foreign policy, an invincible military, and the guts to use it.

Jan 26, 1998 in a letter to Bill Clinton they argued for a policy of pre-emptive action, their first target Saddam Hussein. It was signed by a whos who of radical conservatives including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz. James Woolsey, and Richard Perle.

3 years later they were in a whole new ball game. Foreign policy wasn’t high on the Bush agenda either but his administration included at least 10 of the hawks in the Project for a New America Century…They had a manifesto, all they needed was a launching pad, a crisis, a this document acknowledged in late 2000 on the scale of Pearl Harbour.

Sept 11, 2001. The foreign policy warriors in the new administration pounced. Wolfowitz left little doubt about what lay ahead.

Wolfowitz: “It will be a campaign, not a single action and we are going to keep after these people and the people that support them until this stops.”

In congress on Sept 20, the president embraces the Project for a New America Century

With a single sentence that will have earth shaking significance for the future.

George Bush: “Any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime”…This reversed the policy of all previous administrations.

This was a war that was inevitable for the architects of a New American Century. The beginning of the end of the United Nations as we know it.

Interviewer: What in the absence of the UN will the foundation of the New World Order will be?

Richard Perle: I think there are two possibilities here. One is the reengineering of the United Nations. A relaunch in product terms but with a different charter.

Interviewer: Essentially what I hear is that the real foundations of the New World Order will be the strength and the values of the United States of America.

Richard Perle: The answer is yes if you include other countries that share those values, and who will add their strength to ours.

Interviewer: At least 2/3’s of the world don’t subscribe to the values of the west. Aren’t particular interested in embracing them. What do we say to them?

Richard Perle: Lets keep them at a maximum distance while trying to bring them around to our set of values.

The war to liberate Iraq is also a loud message to others in the region.

US Official: “That’s part of the reason to do it, to communicate to the Mullah’s that run Iran”… “the work they are doing, all of them, on weapons of mass destruction given the character and nature of their governments puts them very heavily at risk.”

Tony Blair may well have signed for a larger mission than he imagined, and when the costs are calculated he could be among the casualties. Even if the war succeeds he will be judged for having helped to validate a doctrine that could lead to many wars on the way to a New World Order that most of the world doesn’t want.

Project for a New American Century

Rebuilding America’s Defences


Thoughts from a spineless Canadian

More recent opinion polls find a shift in Canadian’s attitudes towards supporting the US lead coalition in Iraq. There were several pro-war rallys in Canada this weekend. The most common advocates of siding with the US site the following reasons.

1) The Americans are our best allies. We should stick up for our friends because they are our friends.

2) If we don’t support the Americans we will suffer economic reprisals.

3) Canada’s inaction is a spineless move by a spineless government.

The Americans are our best friends. Friends should support one another, especially when they are threatened. In this situation is there really a threat? I believe friends should stand up to friends when they are in the wrong.

The same people who consider the Canadian government spineless want us to support the war because it might hurt us economically. Isn’t it more courageous to stand against what you don’t believe in than to give in just because of economic consequences?

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I don't fit in ministry

I don’t fit in ministry

Today a friend of mind asked me how I thought my internship was going. Usually my first response is: “I’m glad it’s almost over.” Here are some of the reasons why I found working in modern evangelical ministry difficult.

1) There is often so much work to do there isn’t enough time to keep strong relationships. As a teacher I found myself too busy correcting assignments and preparing the next lesson to really connect with people. Ministry easily becomes a commodity for consumption.

2) Those who lead Christian institutions often have a narrow focus. They believe that by promoting and building their ministry they are by default building the kingdom of God. It is rare that an institution looks at the needs of the kingdom and responds accordingly.

3) Many institutions are still convinced the definition of ministry success is more people and larger facilities. It seems the number 1 core value of an established ministry is survival. I believe in smaller more fragile ministries that are self-replicating.

4) Those in ministry have to live up to such high expectations that they often suffer from isolation and loneliness. Struggling leaders are caught between the necessity of help and the shame associated with failure.

5) Denominations. There will always be theological diversity because we are all shaped by our environment. I don’t understand how people can be so sure of their interpretation of scripture that they would exclude people who believe differently on minor issues.

6) The temptation of ministry success. It drives me nuts when I catch myself shielding my true thoughts about something because I’m afraid it might hurt my reputation or career. I feel the pressure to conform.

7) Lack of risk or innovation. It is more common to follow what the other ministries are doing and copy it after putting a distinctive spin on it.

8) The leaders are convinced that they have the vision and their job is slowly to bring everyone on board. Often the tactics used border on manipulation. Politics can be a very dirty game.

9) I’m an egalitarian. The church follows a ministry model that disempowers people through suppression of dialogue. People don’t get the opportunity to talk to each other in a meaningful way and that limits what they can do. The world of academics creates tiers of rank and status.

10) The cost of sustaining high profile programs and facilities is too high.

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How do you liberate people who don’t want to be liberated?

How do you liberate people who don’t want to be liberated?

Recently I watched an interview with an Iraqi returning to Iraq from Jordon. He was no fan of Saddam Hussien but he felt it was his duty to return to Iraq and defend his country. In a different situation British soldiers observed Iraqi’s chanting pro-Saddam slogans at an aid depot. It seems clear that many regular Iraqi’s aren’t defending their country out of fear of reprisal.

Undoubtedly many of those inside Iraq are opposed to Saddam Hussein. Some of those, like the Kurds, have welcomed the coalition invasion. To them Operation Iraqi Freedom is a liberation. To many others it is an invasion, an attack on Arabs and Islam. Regardless of what coalition is doing, or what it says it’s doing, this is how the Arab world perceives this attack.

It seems as though many of the Iraqi people are more comfortable with the tyrant they have than the type of freedom” the coalition offers.

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Why I oppose the war in Iraq.

Why I oppose the war in Iraq

I, like many of my Canadian counterparts are opposed to the war in Iraq. Here are my reasons.

1) There is no room for this type of war inside Christian theology. There are two main camps on war. I reflect the Anabaptist position which believes Christ teaches a narrow path of peace and non-violent resistance. The other commonly held position is the Augustinian just war theory. The strike on Iraq fails the standard on both positions.

2) There is no imminent threat to the United States from Iraq. There is no conclusive link between Iraq and 9/11.

3) To quote the NRA, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The coalition may succeed in finding some Weapons of Mass Destruction” but this won’t disarm the people who hate America. Terrorists have managed to kill thousands of people on US soil with Airplanes and a van full of diesel fuel and fertilizer.

4) This war will only inflame an unstable region of the world. It will generate even larger amounts of hatred towards the US. This will create more terrorism than it solves.

5) This war is using more money in 30 days than it would take to support Africa for years.

6) The west is completely hypocritical when it says it wants to free Iraq. We helped Saddam in the past. We’ve supported corrupt dictatorships in the past. Canadians and Americans have oppressed and marginalized their own indigenous populations for over a hundred years.

7) The United Nations is fast becoming an irrelevant organization.

8) This kind of action sets a dangerous precedent. Imagine a nation that feels that it has the right to invade any country because it suspects it might become offensive in the future.

9) Like the crusades before it, this event will significantly damage the Arab view of Christianity and Christians.


War Lessons from Starcraft

War Lessons from Starcraft / The US is losing this war

Starcraft is a Real Time Strategy game. It teaches a few lessons about winning a war. As commander officer you direct your base to build different military units, you upgrade them and manage combat with other armies. Those who became good at the game generally became good at micromanagement”.

In Starcraft micromanagement is a method of managing your combat units in battle. The aim is to spend more time managing your forces in an effort to inflict more damage on your opponent than your opponent inflicts on you. Because different units require varying amounts of resources to build it was always better to win economically regardless of whether you had the last unit standing. The best exchanges were to take out a high cost unit with a low cost unit or take out multiple enemy units with fewer of your units. Who won the war was determined by economy as well as skill.

I believe the US Government is winning the military battle but in the long term they are jeopardizing their position on the world stage. For Operation Iraqi Freedom the US Government is spending a little less than 1% of its entire economy. To be able to afford this the US has to go in to debt.

The coalition will likely accomplish their objective of regime change but America’s enemies are winning in this situation. The war is sapping Billions of dollars out of the US economy. It is further isolating the US from its traditional allies. It seriously weakened the role of the United Nations. It is has fostered even more hatred and likely more terrorism.

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Building a new church

Building a new church

I don’t know how many people reading this blog are like me, but I’m ready to be part of something new. For the first 10 years of my walk with Christ I had a great passion for changing the church. I thought that that if we changed a few things church could be so much better. Even though I was involved in a church plant that restructured the organization from the ground up I never saw the results I was hoping for.

I think I’m called to be part of something new. The advent of post-modernity has given us the opportunity to honestly deconstruct and reconstruct church. We can dig deeper and build faith community that works.

I have the training and opportunity to get involved in a modern evangelical church. For me, I can’t see the point pouring resources in to a system with so much overhead and so little fruit. I’m not saying these churches are now completely dead and irrelevant. They aren’t. However they are very irrelevant to me and many others.

It’s time. Everytime I try to go to a regular” church worship service I sense God leading me out the door. Inside the hearts of many people I know there is a drive to build something new. To cast off the traditional trappings of ministry and construct faith community full of dialogue and depth. Some are really looking for a deeper expression of worship with more symbolism. I’m interested in real community, lots of conversation and truly empowering discipleship.

I’m tired of listening to sermons full of filler. I’m tired of McChurch. I’m tired of meeting” other Christians during events that prevent honest dialogue. I’m tired of falling in to the trap of pursuing ministry success.


Pornography In Community

Pornography In Community

I administrate a network at a small bible college in rural Saskatchewan. Most students live on campus in dormitories. Currently we don’t provide Internet access in the dorms. It’s a non-issue now because we have very limited options in regard to high speed access. Our current situation is certainly less than ideal.

Even though student access to the Internet is only in very public areas we are still finding porn on the machines. This leaves us wondering how much the problem would increase if students had Internet access in their own rooms.

At this point I believe we should provide Internet access. Right now there are probably two main positions.

1) We already have rules in place to curb less wholesome entertainment. Giving students Internet access will certainly result in students downloading pornography. Some students, who have never had high speed internet access, will experience it for the first time. Many students don’t have the maturity to handle such an alluring temptation. Some may become addicted to porn at college. The use of pornography will have a significantly adverse influence on the spiritual life of the community. In short, porn causes a lot of problems.

2). If the statistics are accurate millions of Christians in North America regularly view pornography online. The church’s response has been muted at best. With many of its pastors and leaders struggling, it seems as though very few people know how to address this issue. If we provide students access to porn, we have the opportunity and the technology to catch people and begin to deal with the heart of the problem. It will also force us to learn how to deal with the problem. By limiting access we only delay the inevitable. Most people have to learn to deal with the temptation and the college will have the opportunity to teach them.

I believe that eventually the school will probably provide increased access to the Internet. More and more the Net is become an integral part of many people’s daily lives. When people start picking other colleges because they have Net access then the survival instinct will kick in

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Solsbury Hill

Today I rediscovered an incredible song by Peter Gabriel. I was in a friends office Music Match cycled to this and my first reaction this song is incredible”. Inside I could feel emotion well up in side me. Sadness mixed with hope. Very similar to something I feel when I listen to Phil Collin’s Take Me Home”. I didn’t know the lyrics but I think my heart did. When I got home I downloaded the song and pulled up the lyrics. Oh man does this song coin where I am at.

There are two main theories on its meaning. It’s about PG’s departure from Genesis or it’s about a man leaving an institution. Oddly enough those who hold to the second theory believe that Take Me Home is about the same guy.

For me this song captures the relationship I have with modern evangelicalism. Deep down inside I don’t think I fit in to church as we know it. I feel too transparent, too vulnerable, too real. I care too much. I feel like the more I’m involved the more the system is killing me. Perhaps my eagle has flown out of the night come to take me home.

I find it odd that the music I connect with is rarely Christian. Christian music is all too often shallow and meaningless. We sing and say so many unrealistic flowery things that we really don’t mean. Even in our art we don’t know how to be naked or real.

Solsbury Hill

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill

I could see the city lights

Wind was blowing, time stood still

Eagle flew out of the night

He was something to observe

Came in close, I heard a voice

Standing stretching every nerve

Had to listen had no choice I did not believe the information

[I] just had to trust imagination

My heart going boom boom boom

“Son,” he said “Grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

To keep in silence I resigned

My friends would think I was a nut

Turning water into wine

Open doors would soon be shut

So I went from day to day

Tho’ my life was in a rut

‘Til I thought of what I’d say

Which connection I should cut

I was feeling part of the scenery

I walked right out of the machinery

My heart going boom boom boom

“Hey” he said “Grab your things

I’ve come to take you home.”

When illusion spin her net

I’m never where I want to be

And liberty she pirouette

When I think that I am free

Watched by empty silhouettes

Who close their eyes but still can see

No on taught them etiquette

I will show another me

Today I don’t need a replacement

I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant

My heart going boom boom boom

“Hey” I said “You can keep my things,

they’ve come to take me home.”

Peter Gabriel