First we pray, then we move.

It’s beyond our bearing. Another mass shooting has happened, this one the deadliest in our country’s history. Someone was given access to enough weapons that 49 people were shot dead and nearly as many wounded in one attack by one man in one place. There was an armed police officer outside the club where the people were killed but that didn’t stop this shooter.

640px-Shooting_at_Pulse_NightclubThis time it is the LGBT community that is grieving their friends and their children who have been cut down. In the last few years it’s been the parents of school children, fellow parishioners after a bible study, social workers mourning their co-workers after a staff party, and the many others whose stories no longer have had enough shock value to gain national attention. No matter who it is, the tears are the same, the shock is the same, the elected leaders pledges are the same – and nothing seems to change.

This morning, after the shooting and killings in Orlando at Pulse, people are sharing their frustration that prayer isn’t enough. And by itself, it isn’t. But it’s the place we as Christians start. It’s the place from which we move. And that movement has to be out into a world that is reeling, shocked, weeping and devastated with pain beyond bearing. As followers of Jesus we are asked to move out toward the people who are persecuted and harmed and to take our place standing beside them. And we are asked to surround them with the kind of community that will start to slow the violence – to make these sorts of events a memory and not our future.

We do this with the simple tools God has given us. Prayer. Bread. Wine. Healing oil. And the tools that build community. Listening. Pot-luck dinners. Food drives. Homeless shelters. It’s nonsense in the eyes of the world, but it’s what God would have us do. Jesus showed us that these things change the arc of history.

Because as we stand with the victims and the persecuted, as we feed them and pray with them, as we give of ourselves on their behalf, we are creating a community that Jesus tells us will be impervious to the hatred and assaults of the evil forces of this world which seem to have the upper hand on dark days like today.

So today we pray. Tomorrow we move.

Prayer for Reconciliation

On Tuesday night I was asked to open a meeting of law enforcement and community representatives, and clergy that was set to discuss the federal grand jury process. It’s part of our Rhode Island response to what happened in Fergusson last year.

I used the following prayer to get us started. (I thought the prayer was worth sharing.)

God of Justice, God of Reconciliation, God of the outcast and the downtrodden; We come before you this evening as a community committed to finding a better way forward than we have yet seen.

Lead us out of our present wilderness with your strong sure hand into a new land that will empower us to live as a community that is known for living into our best selves, a community that believes and puts into practice the goals and dreams upon which our country was founded.

Be with our speakers now. May their words help us to see the truth of what we have and of what we lack. By the power of your Spirit give us the courage to change. By the gift of your Holy Wisdom help us to find a path forward.

We ask all of this in your Holy Name on behalf of all your Children.

Amen.

How to welcome the refugee and the foreigner into the land

Looking for information about the Syrian refugee situation for Episcopalians and what you can do to get involved, to welcome the stranger and the alien into the land (Leviticus 19:34)? Got you covered:

To help understand the current situation with Syrian refugees, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society will present two live webinars, both 60 minutes long, on Thursday, November 19 and Monday, November 23 to examine this emerging refugee crisis.

Presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Episcopal Migration Ministries and Episcopal Public Policy Network, the live webinars will begin at 2 pmEastern on November 19 and 8 pm Eastern on November 23.

More details and links to resources here: Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society presents special important webinars: Syrian refugees in the USA

Bishop of the Armed Forces: Veterans and the Church

Don’t ask what we can do for the vets, instead ask them what we can learn from them.

Jay Magness, Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, and himself a veteran, has long essay on the evolving relationship between the faith community and the veteran community. This is just a taste below.

Veterans Day 2015: A Meditation Upon the Uneasy Relationship:

On this Veterans Day 2015, unlike some of my friends in the faith community, I am not all that interested in what we can do for service members and veterans. I am, however, very interested in what these persons can do for the faith communities of America. Service members and veterans, if given the appropriate recognition, honor, welcome, and permission can teach us so very much about the spiritual value of personal and corporate sacrifice.

We live in an age dominated by the values of personal achievement and material acquisition. It will do us well to hear the encouraging word that service members and veterans can teach us about the spiritual value of sacrifice.

(Via Episcopal News Service)

It’s good advice. Don’t ask what we can do for the vets, instead ask them what we can learn from them.

Pray for the victims and shooter. Only the Gospel can end the violence.

There was another shooting in a crowded public space late this week. This time it was in a movie theater in Lafayette Louisiana. Once again the shooter, John Houser, a white man with a criminal record and a history of mental illness and violence had a legally purchased handgun. And he had a hatred of “liberals”, a fascination with Neo-Nazism and a distorted understanding of the Gospel.

As the New York Times reports:

Mr. Houser believed that women should not work outside their homes, and “had a lot of hostility toward abortion clinics,” Mr. Floyd said. He was the sort of person who believed “that all the trouble started when they took Bibles out of school and stopped prayer.”

On Twitter, antigovernment discussion boards, and other forums online, a person using the names Rusty Houser, J. Rusty Houser, and John Russell Houser praised the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members, driven by a loathing of gays, stage protests at military funerals; Timothy J. McVeigh, who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168; and even Adolf Hitler. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and antigovernment groups, said the posts were all from Mr. Houser.

The authorities on Friday outside the Grand movie theater in Lafayette, La., where a gunman opened fire on Thursday night. Several times, he described the United States as a “financially failing filth farm” that deserved to collapse, and would do so soon.

Sadly there is every reason to expect that there will be more opportunities to consider why it is that we as a people allow men like this to legally purchase the tools they need to kill children and our neighbors.

But in this moment, the Episcopal Bishop of Western Louisiana Jake Owensby, in whose diocese this latest shooting happened, asks us to pray for the victims, and because Our Savior commands it, to pray for the shooter as well.

He writes on his blog Pelican Anglican:

“My heart and mind—probably much like your own—are reeling with the specific horror and agony of the Lafayette shootings. Nevertheless, I am also mindful that these shootings join what seems like an endless stream of senseless violence across our country.

This is not the time to outline a detailed Christian response to our epidemic of violence. But there is space to name it for what it is: an epidemic. The medicine for this epidemic is the Gospel. And that Gospel teaches us to be peacemakers.

We followers of Jesus are not helpless in the face of violence. But we must take the risk to ask how we contribute—in many cases unconsciously and unintentionally—to a cultural addiction to violence. And we must have the courage to take the risky steps and to make the difficult changes to overcome violence with the peace that passes all understanding.”

I imagine Mr. Houser thought he understood the Gospel. He didn’t. He perverted it and then used it to justify violence against people he found “troubling” to his understanding of how the world should work. It’s time for those of us who struggle to follow the teachings of Jesus to stop standing by as people to twist the Gospel to their own purposes, to justify violence, destruction and death.

Pray for shooter. Pray for the victims. Believe in the Gospel. It is the only hope we have for the healing of the World.

Prayers for South Carolina from Rhode Island

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Beloved in Jesus, the Prince of Peace;

Our hearts are breaking today as we take in the news of another mass shooting. Today’s crime, apparently motivated by racial hatred, has taken the lives of nine innocent victims while they were gathered in prayer and Bible study.
 
Church bells are being rung across the nation calling us to prayer for the victims and for all who’s lives have been forever shattered by this tragedy. I ask that all of our congregations who can, do so tomorrow on Friday the 19th. Many are ringing their bells for 10 minutes to mark all who have died.
 
Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the Episcopal bishop in South Carolina, has asked those who can, to pray the prayer of St. Francis:
 
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
 
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
 
Amen
 
I have joined with other religious leaders in the state of Rhode Island in issuing the following statement:
 
We reach out in loving concern to the people of Charleston, South Carolina, and especially the members and friends of the individuals who were slain while attending a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last night.  We not only honor the life of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney who lost his life shepherding his flock, but we also honor those who were gathered in prayer and reflection.  Houses of worship must be safe havens for all who are in distress and seeking God.  When any sacred space is violated, all faith communities are diminished.  

Although when such a senseless act of violence occurs, we are filled with many emotions, but we cannot respond to a hate crime with more hate.  One Charleston resident is reported to have said, “We must love our way through this.”  We concur.  

Let our response go beyond our expression of empathy and grief.   Let us recommit ourselves to the hard work of racial reconciliation and building communities of safety and love.  As our Presbyterian colleagues have stated,  “Arresting the shooter is the job of law enforcement.  Arresting hate is the work we are all called to do.”

 
+Nicholas Knisely
 XIII Rhode Island
 

To not be provoked to evil

I’m waking to the news that there’s been a mass execution of Coptic Christians in Libya this morning by masked men who claim affiliation with the Islamic State movement. The victims died with the words “Jesus is Lord” on their lips. Violent actions like these, shared widely in an intentional media campaign, are carefully calculated to provoke a response in the rest of world, to bring about a world wide religious war.

And here in America, in some isolated incidents, it might be having the desired effect. The details are still sketchy as to the motivation of the shooter, but last week three of the shining lights of the American muslim community were murdered in Chapel Hill North Carolina by a professed anti-theist. (Not an atheist in the strict sense of the word — someone who doesn’t believe in God, but a person who actively rejects those who do believe. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in the US apparently.)

In West Warwick Rhode Island yesterday, disturbing vandalism against a local Islamic school has brought the conflict to our community.

A day after holding a vigil for three Muslim students killed in North Carolina, the Islamic School of Rhode Island was vandalized.

Some time Saturday night racial slurs were spray-painted over the entrance of the school that serves students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, school officials said.

Orange paint covered the school’s doors with the words, “Now this is a hate crime” and “pigs,” among other expletives referencing the prophet Muhammad.

The irony is, such actions, if they are meant to be some sort of retaliation, are exactly what the violent actions in Syria, Iraq and now Libya are meant to provoke.

Jesus taught us that the great commandment was to love God above all else. And then he told us we could do that in a practical way by willing to love our neighbor as ourselves. Any thing else leads us away from God and into the realm of violence and death.

It will take a great deal of spiritual discipline to not be drawn into the whirlwind of violence which is the dream of those who have done such killings.

Will you join me in praying that God will grant us the courage and the will to resist? Pray that we focus on doing what we can to make our community stronger, to live into what America was founded to be, a place where freedom of religion was intended to put an end to religious violence of all forms.

It seems appropriate, on this President’s Day in 2015 to make the following prayer:

“O Judge of all the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 839)

Amen.

Connection is the cure to addiction

Jesus teaches us how to live in real, life giving community. Perhaps we need to by a lot more intentional about reorienting our focus from celebrating the life giving relationships and faith we find in church to going out into the world and inviting people in pain to find life with us.

In the 1970’s Bruce Alexander, a researcher in Vancouver, discovered that the social experience of laboratory rats in addiction experiments had a profound effect on whether or not the rats became physically addicted to various substances.

Essentially, what he discovered was that isolated rats, kept in bare cages by themselves, when fed addictive substances quickly became physically addicted. But rats in stimulating environments (happy cages) kept with other rats, rejected the drugs they were fed and had a significant physical resistance to developing addiction.

His work has been repeated over the years and is referenced in a new book by Johann Hari called “Chasing the Scream: The first and last days of the War on Drugs”. Hari references Alexanders’ work and subsequent research by Gabor and Cohen on human addictive behavior.

In an article on his research Hari writes about the futility of our present models of treatment for addiction where we treat physical addiction by essentially asking people to endure pain (withdrawal and denial) rather than suffer the worse pain (physical and emotional) which is caused by the active addiction:

“If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

You can read the whole article here.

Rhode Island has the highest rate of marijuana use (and I’m told of heroin use) of any state in the US. We’re also a place that is suffering from a lack of hope in the future. We’re a place where, it is my observation, people find it much to easy to isolate themselves into small groups, small families or stable small communities of acquaintances. People will cut themselves off from the larger connections that a vibrant participation in community or activity might bring.

It seems to me that our congregations might have the real solution to the pain that so many people are self treating with illegal substances. Jesus teaches us how to live in real, life giving community. Perhaps we need to by a lot more intentional about reorienting our focus from celebrating the life giving relationships and faith we find in church to going out into the world and inviting people in pain to find life with us.

Je Suis Charlie – building walls of love in a dangerous world

Fourteen years ago I was asked to preach at a city-wide observance of the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. What I said then has been very much on my mind as I’ve been following the news out of Paris and the murders of the journalists who worked at Charlie Hebado.

Je-suis-CharlieFourteen years ago I was asked to preach at a city-wide observance of the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. What I said then has been very much on my mind as I’ve been following the news out of Paris and the murders of the journalists who worked at Charlie Hebdo. Essentially I argued that it was only by having strong, healthy and interdependent communities that we would be able to feel safe again. There was no military solution, no Homeland Security protocol that would be able to protect us as much as that.

Someone who heard the sermon that night wrote me this morning asking if I had a copy of it. I guess I wasn’t the only person thinking about what I had said 12 years ago…

So I’m posting it again – in large part because I still believe what I said then.

Sermon Delivered at Nativity Cathedral on the Occasion of the Requiem Mass for those who died or were wounded in the attacks on 9-11-01.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in thy sight O Lord, my God and my Redeemer.

I’ve developed a new habit over the last year. When I sit at my desk, working on my computer, I tend to always have a web browser open to news page. I click the refresh button on the web browser every ten minutes or so just to see if some new development or disaster has occurred since the last time I checked. I suppose it seems pretty silly now, but in the first couple of weeks after the attack happened a year ago, it seemed like there were constant new and breaking stories.

Last week I was sitting at my computer working on something and I did what has now become reflexive for me. I clicked the refresh button on the browser I had open and glanced up at the news page as it displayed. There was a breaking news bulleting that “another plane has been hijacked. The plane is reported south of Washington and turning back to the city. Evacuations are occurring and bedlam is breaking out on the ground and there are sirens heard everywhere.” I immediately leapt up from my desk and went out into the hallway to let the staff know what was happening. We all went right into emergency mode. The Sexton grabbed an AM radio and hurriedly tried to tune in a news station. Our Outreach Minister started to say a prayer and our Receptionist’s face completely drained of color. In a moment we were taken back to the same feelings we had experienced a year ago tonight.

I ran back down the hall to the computer and hit “reload” once more. Apparently someone had thought it would be “interesting” to repost the news stories as they had appeared from a year ago – and what I had read was year old news about the plane that ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania. I went out and reassured everyone that this was a mistake – but the strong emotions took time to disappear, and we realized with some surprise just how close our fears were to the surface. The fear and stress that we had felt a year ago has not vanished or been truly dealt with. At best the hole that the pain had left in our souls was merely papered over, and this “false alarm” had ripped that thin covering apart and we were left looking down into the abyss once again.

What is it about this attack on America that has left such strong feelings lingering in so many of us? The number of people who died on that day was horrible, but there have been worse moments and more frightening events in our history. More people die regularly in traffic accidents or died in the Blitz on London, but neither seems to have affected so many so deeply and so profoundly. Tens of thousands die yearly of AIDS in southern Africa but we haven’t had the same deep emotional response to their loss.

For a long time I thought that what we were really mourning when we returned to contemplate the loss of life in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania was the fact that we no longer felt safe. For so long we in America have felt secure and protected behind our two great oceanic moats. Wars happened, persecutions happened, terrorist attacks happened, but always someplace else, never here where we lived. This attack has struck us directly on the mainland of the United States, in two of it greatest cities and came seemingly out of the blue. It was an attack not against military forces or groups prepared to defend themselves, but upon civilians going about their everyday routine, never imagining the doom that hurtling toward them from out of a cloudless sky.

But I believe there is something more subtle happening here tonight – something more complicated causing the distress that we all feel. It isn’t so much that we were attacked – it more an issue of who attacked us. These 19 men who fiendishly killed so many so quickly are not the sort of attackers we’re used to thinking about. These are not terrorists in the strictest sense of the word. They made no demands, they presented no manifesto, and they took no credit on the world’s stage for their deed. They attacked us not to cause us to change our ways. The attacked us simply to kill us. Their deepest prayer was that their action would cause ignite a Third World War – a conflagration that would set peoples of different religions against each other. Out of the war they hoped they would start, a new radical militarily robust Islamic sect would stride forth and sweep all opposition away.

The implications of this are truly frightening. They don’t want to talk with us, they don’t want to reason with us – they want to kill us. In their minds we need to die. We need to die not because of our admittedly error prone ways – but because of the way we behave when we are at our best. They want to kill us because we are tolerant, because we encourage and try to embrace dissent – because we believe truth is elusive and only become apparent through hard, committed conversation and interaction between people who disagree. They hate the fact that we don’t believe there is a simple clear answer for every moral question. They hate the fact we tolerate in our midst those people they can not tolerate. They hate us for being the best the American ideal can be – diverse, a melting pot for all the world’s greatest hopes and dreams.

It is truly frightening to imagine that there is nothing that we can do to discuss this with people who seek our destruction. They offer us no quarter, no terms to accept or reject – only death and that because of who we are when we are at our best.

Who are these people?

It’s important that we be very very clear.

They are not people who follow the religion that was revealed by the Prophet Mohammed. The leaders of Islam have disowned these men and made clear that the submission to the Will of Allah does not ever include the willful taking of innocent life.

These are not the people of the Arab nations – many of whom reacted with horror at the acts that were supposedly perpetrated in their name.

These were not the people of the Arab street who curse us and argue with us. They engage us in conversation and attempt to get us to change our way – a disagreement with how we are American. Their disagreement is something that not only will we hear and engage, but whose very existence is sacred to the American ideals.

Who are these people? In truth they are a small group of men. Thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of whom have gathered around a wealthy man who’s family has rejected him, with a history of violence and who is a self declared religious leader of a small extremist sect of Islam. They represent no nation state, no broad consensus among honorable people – merely a focal point for a small number of men who have chosen to fill their hearts with hate in their attempt to hide from the light of God’s love.

If they are so few in number, how did they cause so much destruction? Thomas Friedman in his latest collection of essays Longitudes and Attitudes writes about the advent of a new person in history – the super-empowered individual. The nineteen men who managed to kill as many people as died in the bloodiest day of the Civil War, and in an hour or so rather than a 24 hour period, were able to do so because they perverted modern technology from its intended use. 150 years ago it took two great armies of more than 100,000 men on a broad field of battle an entire day to manage to kill more than 3000. It took 19 men moments to kill the same number of unarmed civilian men, women and children. These men used unarmed airplanes, built for peaceful commerce, for travel and for the good of many – and turned them into human guided missiles with warheads of innocent lives.

Friedman argues we are going to have deal with the fact that modern technology is going allow a single individual a greater ability to affect the whole of society than we’ve yet seen. This is the just the latest and more horrific example. We are most likely going to see more and more of this type of attack – a small group of men causing death and injury on a scale unimagined just a short time ago.

It seems so hopeless – but we are never without hope. We worship the living God – and with God there is always hope.

The Bible lessons that we have heard read aloud this evening remind us that we are not the first people in history to suffer at the hands of a seemingly implacable enemy. The words of the Prophet Jeremiah remind us that God will never forsake God’s people forever – and that after a time, the promises made of old will be seen to be true of us again.

The Gospel lesson reminds us that Wars and Disasters surround us but do not overcome us. They are the remnants of old reality that the in-breaking of God’s kingdom is replacing with new. In spite of the momentary fear we experience, the larger view is that God is with us in the midst of our loss leading into a deeper relationship with God and with each other.

But more than that: the small group of men who seeks to destroy us are not the only super-empowered individuals upon the stage. We are super-empowered individuals as well – but our power comes not from hydraulic lifts or electrical relays or network connections. We have the burning flame of the Holy Spirit that was placed within us at our baptism. If we have God within us – who can ever stand to truly harm us? The power we share in is the power of creation itself, a power that binds up the works of destructive chaos.

How can we use this power we share?

Some of us – those with heroic faith are probably already well on their way to forgiving those few who destroyed so many. They know what so many of want to know – that the true power of God is to love those who hate us, and by loving them, we can transform them.

But what of the rest of us whose faith is not of that quality just yet? What of people like me?

I may not now be able to truly love those who hate me, but I can love those around me.

I can love the people I meet day in and day out as I live my life here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I can love my neighbor right here, right now.

I can go outside tonight and sit on my front step and get to know the names of the people who live closest to me. I can work at finding ways to turn our group of homes into a real neighborhood whose inhabitants know and care for one another sharing the burdens of sorrows and the rewards of joys.

I can join Rotary or Lions or the Jaycees or any community based organization that works locally to make a stronger region. I can share in the important task of building up a region so hard hit by the aftermath of 9-11.

I can smile at the people I meet in line today. I can hold the door open for someone whose arms are full of packages. I can thank people as I go about my little everyday errands.

I can build a wall of love around this town. I can help to construct a wall of love that no plane, no missile, no hatred can ever breech let alone destroy. I can do this – we can do this because we are individuals beloved of God – the God of Love. With God’s love supporting our small efforts we can love the world back into a proper relationship with the one who made the world in the beginning. For we know and have Christ’s own promise, that nothing can ever destroy the works of Love co-created with God.

Is there an image of hope for us this evening?

Absolutely. There is an image from a year ago that has seared itself upon my mind. Two people, who in desperation chose to escape the flames of the Twin Towers by leaping out of a broken window to their death. But as they fell – they held hands. They knew in that moment of unimaginable terror that the simple act of relationship could make the unbearable bearable. Their act of hope in the moment of their death reminds each one of us this night that we are never without hope.

Let us pray that by God’s grace we can witness this truth to others in our daily lives.

Amen.

Canterbury on dealing with ISIS and jihadism

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has released a tightly reasoned essay on the necessity of a thoughtful and coordinated response to the threat posed by ISIS and the extremist so-called “jihadists” around the world.

The essay very carefully refuses to find a reductionist explanation, a simple way to understand what is, at its heart, a multi-faceted response to a number of local issues. The Archbishop writes in particular:

“Every conflict is individual, and a global narrative by itself does not address the particularity of each region or country. However, the reality of jihadist terror, and the related elements common to conflicts, have become more global since the second invasion of Iraq in 2003. Strategy must be holistic. This conflict embraces a whole range of complex causes, demonstrated in the huge number of Muslim deaths, often forgotten in the west. Nor is it restricted to the Middle East. The Central African Republic has descended into utter barbarism, with a religious edge, seen by many Muslims as religious cleansing of their followers. Somalia is chaos, Libya is in meltdown.

This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable.”

More here.

I can not stress how important I believe the addition of this voice, and what he says, is to the debate about a Western response to ISIS. Please, if you are a person of faith, take a moment to read the whole essay.