Add new comment

Let me tell you why I dismissed the Warren forum, reinforced by your replaying your discussions with the Warrens. In my youth, (born 1947 to Quaker parents and pastors), religion and war were frequently discussed. No one could speak of morality for long without also discussing war and peace. No one could speak of evil without speaking of war. And I googled your web for war and peace and found you have covered in the past seven years the various frameworks for the discussion on war and peace that took place in the 50s and 60s, and then seem to have faded in the 70s.

With the demise of "liberal" religious influence, eg., the Catholic internal debate and external witness, the "peace" churches, as well as the "Eastern" faith expressions of monks, the "conservative" religious influence came to dominate the debate, almost ratifying a US vs Evil for Jesus foreign policy, and then turning on the internal evils eating away at the core of the US by tolerating gays and abortion.

Unlike the war and peace and religion and government debate of the "liberal" religious era in which few held to black and white positions: much of the debate centered on what is the line between just and unjust war, the past three decades have been black or white: if you don't believe "this" and seek to impose "this" view on others, you are evil.

Like Billy Graham (except with Nixon), the Warrens have distanced themselves from the issue of war, and each person of faith's moral responsibility in regard to war and peace.

So, Rick Warren is getting to know John McCain and Barrak Obama in the context of the presidential election this fall, and with war being front and center in the foreign policy arena, not a single question about war and peace.

We did have the question about abortion, an issue for which neither president can make any decision for the nation (though some argue that judicial appointments can some how create the necessary legislative change in law). What was the point of the question? Was it to see if either candidate would say, "I believe that mother's should abort if they don't have enough income to support the child" or some other "have you stopped beating your wife?" catch 22 fallacy?

President Bush suggested that God guided him in deciding to send men and women to kill and die in Iraq. Evangelicals that have thankfully faded from prominence cheered for war, and it seems the Warrens haven't gone down that path.

In your discussion, the Warrens talked of challenging each other in the demands of their faith, and talked of the demands they place on the members of the church they lead. And as was evident in the discussion of ABC and the more nuanced position on sex and AIDS prevention they have developed. Yet, more people think that war is an evil than believe homosexuality or abortion or a number of the other evangelical articles of division.

Granted, the evil of war is viewed as relative. The evangelicals would all claim that war by commies or islamists that kills the innocent is evil, but when the US war kills the innocent, that is merely collateral damage, as if institutional killing can somehow be religiously righteous and moral.

Charlie Rose talked with Iran's president this past week, and one of the points that he seemed to make, (the need for a translator in both directions made the conversation difficult, and I don't think the nuance of either Rose or the president was well translated) was that nuclear weapons are evil for every nation to have. He also made the point that Iran has harmed or insulted the US far less than the US has harmed or insulted Iran, yet Iran wants open relations with every nation including the US. I agree with him on both points, and disagree with Bush on his position that the US needs more WMDs and more capability to incinerate the world, but it is Iran that poses the greater threat because it must want to have nuclear weapons so it can trigger the incineration of the world because Iranian leaders are nuts and suicidal.

The reason I dwell on this relationship with Iran is the clear "faith" perspective that forms the US foreign policy interpretation of Iran and a number of other nations politics. And it is a "faith" perspective that underlies the so called American Exceptionalism and the US Manifest Destiny which justifies the US policies of so many administrations and Congressional actions from the large number of warheads, the large secret budget to fund espionage and covert operations seeking to control politics in other nations, and so on.

War is said to be diplomacy by other means, but in between there are many gradations. If as a matter of faith, we follow the teachings of Jesus, and in particular, Do unto others as we would have them do unto us, than does a person who follows Jesus leave his faith behind when he takes the oath of office and become president or other government official? Why is it ok for the US to have nuclear weapons and Iran not, or for the US to destabilize a democracy in another nation, but other nations not? Why is it ok for the US to torture people and deny them their inalienable rights but not other nations?

If Rick Warren believes that faith and other personal views are relevant to the choice people make for president, then he has avoided the clearest intersection between faith, religious belief, ethics, morality, or philosophy and the judgements and decisions of leaders such as the President of the United States.

The absence of a discussion of faith, peace, and war from today's dialog is curious if the US is more religious than ever. I suggest that you might explore this question: is the faith in the US really more important today, or in recent years, than it was in the 50s and 60s? After all, the civil rights movement was intertwined with faith, and the debate on war was intertwined with faith, the action on poverty was intertwined with faith.

I think you could make a good case for the past quarter century being a period where faith was diminished and marginalized in the US, replaced by a political strategy designed to gain votes by advancing fallacious definitions of evil, and no expression of righteousness. Merely condemning evil is not righteousness.

I would be interested in your exploration of the roles of faith in the pre-70s vs post-80s periods.