Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Report from Gaza

I just heard on the radio that Joe the Plumber - you know, that star of presidential debate #3 - is going to be reporting from the Gaza strip. I sure hope it's a joke, but I have a feeling it's not.

The situation in Israel and Palestine is complex and confusing. The history of these conflicts dates back thousands of years, or 60 years, or 20 years, or a couple of years, depending on how you look at it. Joe will report on the average Joes, so said the news story. Fine. A personal story can powerfully relate an on-the ground reality. But for average Joes (and Sarahs) over here, understanding the current escalation requires reporting that can put an individual experience into a broader historical, political and yes, religious perspective. Call me a snob, but I have a feeling Joe the Plumber isn't up for it.

In Sunday School last week our High School students and adults discussed the conflict as a community. We watched the church's video Peace Not Walls . Though it's a bit institutionally produced for my taste, it's well worth watching to get background, see a possible strategy for a peaceful solution and hear a convincing argument for why American Christians should care. If you have 28mins, I recommend it.

Based on the video, we discussed whether Islam, Judaism and Christianity all worship the same God and what difference that could make in creating peace; why land and religion are so tied together in Judaism; the significance of walls (from a German who remembers the Berlin Wall); and more.

My oh so insightful comment was "I think the ground rule should at least be: stop killing each other." Yes that's an easy thing to say when I have nothing personally invested and haven't experienced the devastating injustice and violence that each side claims. But there's at least some basis for thinking of that as a good ground rule (see the Ten Commandments, #5). I can't imagine Joe the Plumber is really going to do much better.

For a fresh, folksy, and yes, faithful perspective on the region, thankfully we don't need Joe the Plumber. Half of the bishops of the ELCA are currently there, including Richard Graham, the Metro DC Synod Bishop and Mark Hanson, the ELCA Presiding Bishop. I've never heard either of these men say anything I didn't trust as thoughtful, intelligent, careful, grounded and faithful. For the bishops' blog, click here. And please keep them and the region in our prayers.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Pastor Sarah, you have such an insightful way of looking at the world. From Puerto Vallarta to the Gaza Strip is quite a trip. I’m so glad you are helping the Prince of Peace children and youth discuss serious issues that have no resolve in sight. Thank you for your words and blog.
    Gracie (the red dog's Mom in North Potomac)

  3. Let me see if I get anyplace.
    But 3 comments in case I do.
    01/25/2009 is 250th anniversary of birth of Robbie Burns...for all Scots-minded folks
    01/25/2009 is dedication of new Good Shepherd
    Lutheran sanctuary...for all B'gurgers @4:00PM
    Does PoP have a seniors group? If not, why not?
    Dick Weis

  4. Maybe I got here...the "trial" seems to say.
    Created myself as the 13th "follower".
    Replaced anonymous with GpaDickW.
    Created a blog...I hope I have the address
    I think that's called "progress".
    Oh, yes, my blog will be "Spiritual Aspects" and I posted one introductory note. Short.
    Dick Weis

  5. Israel/Gaza/Joe the plumber.

    For a number of years I maintained e-mail correspondence with a lady in Haifa and learned a lot about the history of feelings and issues as a "Joe". Haifa at the time was in a state of peace and pretty much co-living.

    I wish I could recall the year and the key players on the international stage at that time but I do recall she had great optimism that there was overall peace possible and likely.

    This may jog someone's memory, but there was a major bombing in which dozens of innocent people eating in waterfront restaurants died. I
    tried a long time to re-establish contact with her but never succeeded. At the time, of course, I knew her name as well as e-address but that did not help.

    This "Joe" could not go there!

    To me there is a message in this little story. Neither side or any interest ever knows when or where the next explosion will be. There is a great emotional risk in daring to hope. After
    one's hopes have been dashed over and over again you know only one thing:

    There will be a next explosion! Even when seated at an outdoor table looking over an azure blue sea there is an unseen terror lurking and waiting!

    One "Joe's" input...

    Dick Weis

  6. The "anonymous" and and GpaDickW "trial"
    can and should be eliminated...
    Will do when I get some help.
    Dick Weis

    Meanwhile, I intend to add some today to my blog on "Spiritual Aspects" re "Miracles". A
    continuation to first post.


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