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Can Americans affect the new violence in Iraq? PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

In our globalized world, we are connected to every nation on the globe technologically and economically. Through the technological connection, we are also affected politically by events and crises elsewhere in the world.

The relentless advance of ISIS across western Iraq and now nearing Baghdad is not something any American can ignore. So much Iraqi and American blood has been spilt over the last decade that we desperately hope there is something we can do. But what? ISIS is a formidable force, one that even American drones and missiles may not be able to stop.

The White House and the U.S. military, of course, are hastily seeking ways to stem the violence in Iraq before it leads to a larger regional war. However, politicians are not the only ones concerned by the news from Iraq. Peace and Interfaith organizations in the United States know that religious violence elsewhere in the world intensifies religious bigotry and fear here at home. A case in point is the minister from Georgia who is running for Congress on the platform that Islam is a false religion. Surely, it is more than a coincidence that such blatant religious ignorance is occurring while sectarian violence from Iraq is exploding.

When peace and interfaith advocates in the United States take the news from Iraq as a call to action, responding by gathering publically as Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Humanists, something very significant happens in our fearful world. In these gatherings, the observing world is shown a different and positive side of religion, one where people of faith offer compassion and build bridges of understanding rather than walls of fear and hatred.

We are one human family. As the suffering of the people in Iraq affects us, so what we do here in response to the Iraqi crisis also affects the world. Every time we stand together as people of faith, the fulcrum moves an inch at a time in the direction of peace.

In early July, four peace and interfaith organizations in Indiana and Wisconsin will be doing just that — standing shoulder to shoulder to declare that the future of religion will be one where faith communities build bridges of understanding.

There is no denying that the impact of four organizations will have minimal impact on the crisis in Iraq. But what happens the next time if there are forty such public events in different parts of the country, or four hundred, or eventually four thousand around the world? When that occurs, the fulcrum will really begin to shift. The same media that carries the latest atrocities from Iraq’s sectarian conflict will not be able to ignore this response of hope and commitment.

And one day, may that day be soon, even those fighting in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will realize that a different future for religions is possible. When that day comes, the fulcrum will have shifted so far that those standing together for peace and interfaith understanding will finally “lift” the heavy weight of religious terrorism.

Let us not lose hope; let us dedicate ourselves to move the fulcrum on the teeter-totter an inch at a time.

David Carlson

Three Lakes


Editor’s note: David Carlson is professor of religious studies at Franklin College in Indianapolis, Ind. He and his wife, Kathy, spend summers in Three Lakes. He will give a presentation on this topic at Many Ways of Peace, 217 S. Main St., in downtown Eagle River, Monday, July 7, at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 10:41 AM


-6 #6 Frank Gabl 2014-07-08 07:51

At this point it doesn’t appear that you intend on responding so I’ll finish this off for what it’s worth.

Last night I read every word in the “Look Inside” preview of Dr. Carlson’s book on Amazon, referenced in post 1. It more than appears that Dr. Carlson is a deeply religious man evidenced by his words in the epilogue (I was going to quote him, but apparently, these “previews” change from day to day so it is not there at the moment).

But I still have no clue as to why he would think it is a good idea to misrepresent Humanism and Buddhism as based upon the same belief system as traditional God-based religions.

This makes absolutely no logical sense since given the opportunity, Humanists would welcome the demise of theism.
-3 #5 Frank Gabl 2014-07-07 11:39

"But let's move on?" That's kind of a dismissive response to a genuine offer of concern - is it not?

But let's move on.

Even though I understand your point and initially understood the references to "peace advocates" that you mentioned, I don’t believe I'm being unreasonable at all.

As a matter of fact, let's dwell on this and try to come to a compromise as to how this could possibly be written by such a learned man. After all, as you point out, Dr. Carlson's reference to "peace and interfaith advocates" confirms the division in his mind.

Was this an honest mistake?

Was it an intentional attempt to legitimize Humanism and Buddhism in a faith-based community to water down God?

Wasn't the "Affordable Care Act" named to brainwash average citizens into believing health care is now affordable thanks to progressivism?

Shouldn't "Planned Parenthood" really be named Planned Unparenthood? Just asking.
+4 #4 Jeff Laadt 2014-07-06 06:14
Glad to be back; but let's move on.

Don't you feel you are being a bit too harsh on Dr. Carlson? In calling for greater solidarity and understanding among various religious and secular groups, his letter is obviously well-intentioned. Your concern over Buddhists and Humanists strikes me as petty nit-picking. If you were a fair-minded person you would note that paragraph 4 begins with "when peace AND interfaith advocates..." clearly implying his understanding of the differences which seem to bother you so much. The same is true of paragraph 6.

As for Dr. Carlson's overall message, none of this should really matter, and none of it warrants the use of words like "egregious" or "enormity". Nor should it lead anyone to question his motives, for no apparent reason.

Jeff Laadt
-4 #3 Frank Gabl 2014-07-03 09:58

I’m glad to see you’re still with us.

But your long absence, unless due to health, does suggest more of a motive on your end to educate all of us on “fairy dust” (your label for God) and reality as only you know it to be.

After all, I merely asked a question as to why such a learned man would make such an egregious error.

Whether it is "motive" or just a honest mistake, one's credibility on the issue does stick out like a sore thumb considering the enormity of the error.

Unless, that is, you are claiming that Dave is correct?
+3 #2 Jeff Laadt 2014-07-02 17:11
So, Frank, since you brought it up, why don't you just go ahead and tell us all about Dr. Carlson's motives, etc.

You know you want to. Here's your opportunity.

Jeff Laadt
-5 #1 Frank Gabl 2014-07-02 07:43
According to his bio, Professor Carlson is a learned man. Yet, he presents Buddhism - and even more erroneously - Humanism, as “religions” whose followers are “people of faith.”

Logically, when the words “religion” and “faith” are employed in the same thought pattern, along with direct references to the established religions of “Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs” - as they are by Dr. Carlson - the combined definition of religion and faith becomes one which means an “unconditional belief in God that does not rely on proof.”

However, Buddhism is a nontheistic belief system not requiring faith, but rather, confidence in logic.

And Humanism has nothing whatsoever to do with God or faith and the mere mention is blasphemous.

To me, the references to religion and faith made by Carlson in paragraphs 4-6, brings his motives and/or credibility into question.

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