Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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I’m honored that Chris has let me have a try at posting. Hopefully I won’t disappoint him (or you) with my efforts. Bill (not IB)

It’s amazing how some things appear to be inherited.

You may get your hair color from your Dad, the shape of your nose from your Mom, and the dimple in your chin from great-aunt Lulubelle.  A lot of things are genetic.

Or, you may inherit traits in other ways.  Upon taking up a role of leadership, you may find yourself doing the same stunningly stupid things your predecessors did.

Case in point – his eminence, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The most recent occupant of that august office, Rowan Williams, provided a great deal of fodder for MCJ with his unwarranted social pronouncements, and his attempts to show off his theological prowess – which usually only resulted in raising questions as to both his common sense, and whether or not he was in the least acquainted with what the official teachings of the Anglican Church are.

Well, the current incumbent, Archbishop Justin Welby, has shown that it may very well be the office that makes the occupant stupid, rather than having simply repeated fools in the office.  You’ve undoubtedly heard of Boko Haram in the past few days.  A rather nasty outfit, which finds that killing is the best way to get what you want, with some kidnapping and torture thrown in to round off the day.  The murder of 50 boys went unreported for the most part back in February, but now the abduction and subsequent mistreatment of over 100 girls has spawned international outrage.  The girls were taken from their school in the town of Chibok on April 14 and hidden in a forest.  Since then there have been reports of some girls being sold into forced marriages, and others smuggled into nearby Chad and Cameroon.

So, how does Archbishop Welby think matters can be solved?

He believes that diplomacy is the proper way to set matters right.

The archbishop told the BBC that “I think negotiation there is extremely complicated, though it needs to be tried.” He added, “There needs to be active negotiation, active contact, with all the different layers.”

The definition of a terrorist is “someone who uses terror to achieve their goals.”  Boko Haram’s actions have marked them as terrorists; they’ve called for no negotiation, asked for no bargains, and are only  concerned with maximizing the amount of power they can grab with the horrific atrocities they commit.  If they wanted to use lawful means to achieve their goals, they would certainly do so without having to be schooled by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Negotiating with terrorists doesn’t work.  It never has, and never will.  Did negotiating with North Korea stop them from developing nuclear weapons?  No.  Did all of the talks with Iran stop their enrichment of uranium as they, too work towards a bomb? No.

It’s wonderful that Archbishop Welby has such a high regard for negotiation, but as he himself said, “[Boko Haram] is extremely irrational and difficult to deal with and utterly merciless in the example it has shown in the past.”   He continued with some of the same platitudes that have been used to explain away lawlessness and terrorism in many parts of the world:  “Supporters turn to Boko Haram because of immense poverty, high youth unemployment and the group’s promises of social change delivered through the barrel of a gun.”  All he forgot is to add is to give them “more after-school programs for the kids.”

So, what is Archbishop Welby concerned about?  The leader of the world’s Anglicans said that it was“always a worry” that Christians in Nigeria might take up arms to defend themselves against the Islamic group.  That’s right, the Christians have some nerve for not wanting to be victims.

“They have a right to defend their lives and the lives of their children and their families,” he said.“But at the heart of Christian teaching is the example of Jesus, who said, ‘Forgive your enemies’ and forgave his own enemies on the Cross.”

I certainly agree with forgiveness as taught by Christ, and can’t fault the Archbishop for mentioning it.  But to suggest that forgiving someone who is trying to abduct your children is more appropriate than putting bars on your windows and armed guards at the doors is to take the notion of Christian forgiveness wrong.  There’s a difference between a store owner forgiving a homeless man for stealing food, and a man walking straight into a group of street toughs wearing a tuxedo and expensive jewelry and saying “I forgive you” as they start mugging him rather than crossing the street to avoid them.  (Hint – it’s that “common sense” thingy that seemed to elude Abp. Williams so often.)

We should all pray for the safe return of all the victims of Boko Haram, and for the souls of the victims they have murdered.  And we should pray that the members of Boko Haram be enlightened; that they find new life through faith in Christ.  But if anyone expects negotiating with them to produce results – I’ve got some nice, beachfront property in New Mexico that I’ve been wanting to unload……….

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