Middle East Monday II: Resist the urge to pick a side

Before you feel obliged to pick a side, consider that killing people is not okay, regardless of who is doing it. Get above the spin, and smartly believe for the strengths of each people to shine and for compassion, humility, and vision to let love lead.

My friend Ana wrote this as she gave the link to the article below:

It sounds a little hypocritical and ironic to say, “Don’t believe everything you read,” before posting something for you to read. But I find it disconcerting to see how many posts are going up in defense of one people group over another…about how one group is being underservedly tortured by the villain on the other side of the wall.

Rockets and murder and hate are not games. That’s for sure. But spreading fear and or hatred does not bring peace. The truth is, there are massive wrongs being committed on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There are mourning mothers and ridged corpses of boys and girls whose futures were stolen from them. On both sides. And it’s been going on for years.

No story you hear from this conflict and current war will be unbiased. Whether it’s from a local Palestinian, Israeli, or foreigner (who might assure you of his/her keen insight into the matter). That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a fact we must grapple with as we sift through the emotional stories and news coming from this terrible, growing tragedy.

As one of those foreigners who, self-admittedly, has a bit of a chip on my shoulder about Middle Eastern topics and current events, I urge you to remember that where there is pain on one side of the wall, there is undoubtedly a well-matched grief on the other side.

Pray for peace. For Jerusalem. For Gaza. For mankind. We sure do need a fresh dose of it.

Here’s the article.

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World WReligion Wednesday: The Barnian Buddhas



Having recently watched the film “Monuments Men” and, as a response, pondered more extensively what it means to honor a people by preserving their cultural heritage, I think it’s a good time to mention the Barnian Buddhas in Afghanistan. Prior to their destruction, one of them was the largest such carving. Now, there is the question of whether to rebuild or not. What do you think?



Middle East Mondays: Iraq’s Soul and “What We Left Behind”

roosevelt quote


Iraq had national elections last week. Prevailing through the pain of disillusionment, death, and destruction, people arose and shared their voices – putting votes of possibility into the collective POT-ential. This is crucial. In times of uncertainty, sharing one’s voice is key. Yet, it is not easy to do so in a nation belabored by official and unofficial war. Much is shifting since the end of the official war in Iraq in 2011 (the war ended the same month I returned to America from a visit to precious Baghdad).

If you’d like more perspective on Iraq these days, here’s a great article from The New Yorker.

What We Left Behind” by Dexter Filkins

As you consider the staid countenance of Prime Minister Maliki, send him some loving thoughts. Point your mind toward “What would it look like for Iraq to move past its conflict and flourish?” Imagine that world. Dream with Iraq and for Iraq.

If you want, pray that Maliki receives an infusion of courage today straight from the heart of God. Pray that he feels safe, peaceful, and appreciated. Pray that he comes to a full revelation of how loved he is by God. Pray that he arises as a model of courageous vulnerability in Iraq. In a schema of self-protection, mistrust, violence, threats, assassinations, and power-play after power-play, CREATIVITY and VULNERABILITY can bring healing. When people are scared, they hole up. They lash out. They use might to establish power, instead of leading through humility and love. Iraq is stuck in this cycle of fear. Yet, the nation can be un-stuck! We can collectively use our hope and resources to invest love in Iraq. Consider today how you can help Iraq, or your next door neighbor, experience more freedom from fear-cycles. Get on the hope-cycle.


vulnerability quote


Someone’s Boston is Someone Else’s Baghdad

I have walked Baghdad’s streets: the vendors, the families, the lives churning.

I have walked Boston’s streets: the vendors, the families, the lives churning.

There are a lot of similarities between these two cities.



Seeing the upheaval over the bombings in Boston has deeply grieved my heart. I hate war – in all its forms. And the attacks in Boston are a form of war. War isn’t just about nations striving against nations; it’s about unrest, it’s about fury, it’s about a climate (whether individual or corporate) that spews hatred via violence and death on other people.

Baghdad is one of my very favorite cities in all the world. Having spent seventeen years praying for that city, it is very important to my heart. Moreover, I have spent weeks in Baghdad. I know its curves, its smiles, its dreams. I love Baghdad.

I also lived thirty minutes north of Boston for four years. While there, I asserted my spiritual responsibility to pray into that region’s destiny. I roamed the streets of Boston for countless hours. I know quite well the segments of streets where the bombs went off. Ouch. Those images are awful.

In seeing those images I immediately thought of my beloved Baghdad. Someone’s Boston is someone else’s Baghdad – their hometown, their neighborhood, their family’s dwelling place. Both cities matter.

I hope that the bombings in Boston bring more understanding to Americans of what many people living in cities like Baghdad experience DAILY. Imagine worrying about going to the grocery store, school, or a friend’s house because of the potential to be blown up on the way.  It’s a rough way to live.

Of course, I wish the incidents in Boston never happened. I wish the incidents in Baghdad never happened. I wish there was no war anywhere. Since that isn’t the case yet, I do want to use this moment of similarity to bring to the forefront the universal pain of war.

Perhaps this week’s experience will help Americans think more holistically before they support war in other nations. Perhaps it will open up the reality of how evil war and death are. Perhaps it will draw out the courage within all of us to search out solutions which prevent war.

I pray so.

In the meantime, as you ponder these elements, here are some articles for your contemplative fuel.

Reminder of violence elsewhere

Baghdad Bombings Monday

(With the above article, I’d like to note that I know exactly where “a parking area used by vehicles making their way to Baghdad’s heavily-guarded airport” is. I got out of one heavily armored vehicle and into another at that very parking area (all while surrounded by a security detail of eight armed men) when I was leaving the Baghdad airport in 2011.)

Christians praying for Baghdad and Boston

Lastly, I ‘d like to ask ,”Who will go to Boston, Baghdad, and other places experiencing war?”

These places need hope. They need people to be their advocates. We can change cities and nations from war zones to peace zones.

As Jesus said, “Go into all the world.” (Mark 16:15)

Ask the Holy Spirit right now, what your part is to play in this peace-making.

Let’s go!

(P.S. I love you. I love your city. May both flourish today.)