Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thoughts on the Developing Gaza Tragedy

As I write my sermon this Sunday, loosely titled "What doesn't make sense to me any more" (though it should be a bit more hopeful than that), I see a lot of material coming through the press about the Israeli attacks on Gaza. So far anyway, it looks like these are the basic facts of the situation as of Tuesday afternoon:
  1. Some Gaza residents (presumably Hamas) fired a series of home made rockets into Israeli territory.
  2. Within a day, the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF) launched a series of air strikes on a variety of Gaza targets in highly populated areas.
  3. Since the IDF air strikes, Gazan residents have increased the number and range of their homemade rockets into southern Israel.
  4. A lot of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been killed including dozens of children as a result of air strikes. Several Israeli citizens have been killed in southern Israel as a result of home made rockets. The ratio of deaths appears to be somewhere between 40 and 100 to 1, depending on whether your sources of information are American or International.
  5. Israel seems to be massing ground forces around the Israeli-Gaza border.
I've written my views on these events here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visiting the Holy Land

Visiting the Holy Land. In October, I visited Israel (or Palestine) with my parents. From what I've heard, it wasn't your standard "trip to the Holy Land" where you see the sights and show appropriate reverence to the symbols and places of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). It was pretty political. We spent several nights in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, in Ramallah and in Nablus. We met with political and human rights organizers. We stayed with host families. And we talked about the past, the present, and the future of this land and its people, intertwined in what seems to be a potentially endless cycle of bitterness and destruction.

I blogged about this experience here. Much of what I wrote is personal and somewhat controversial in nature, but since I don't usually try to hide what I think or feel, I didn't think that what I wrote would interest people who weren't already friends of mine.

I may have been wrong. Three days after I returned and posted my "random thoughts" entry (where I took my electronic notepad and posted the undated stuff), I received a blogger comment on that entry that identified me, my parents (by name) and left a message that said -- roughly translated -- "we know who you are and are watching you".

Now, I don't take that message seriously, but the posting did make me realize that people may read my blog who don't know me and have little interest in engaging in conversation. Since my entries there were meant for people who know me (or for people who want to know me), I felt that it would be more appropriate to move those entries to a location where people with interest in my words will know the author before reading the entries.

So I created an invitation-only blog, and moved those posts to that blog. If you have interest in reading my thoughts about this trip and don't already have access, please contact me. I'll add your email to my friends list and you too can read my writings about this trip.

Just a preview though -- In the two weeks since I returned from the land (and after finishing reading Sandy Tolan's The Lemon Tree yesterday), I feel like I understand less than I did when I left. The land is spectacular and the people are beautiful and the situation is much more complicated than I can possibly explain in a blog entry.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another First Try

My old blog had some material that couldn't be removed from readers that I wanted removed. Due to caching, it seems that the only way to remove old stuff from blog readers is to remove the entire blog. So that's what I'll do. Over the next couple of days/weeks, I'll move my old "public" stuff into this new location, and maybe that'll do the trick. We'll see.

In the meantime, my invitation-only blog is here, and it has all of my old postings. Contact me if you would like an invite.