Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Crazy Doctors and Crazy Christians"

As he often does, Nicholas Kristof makes a point for American decency in his New York Times column today:

"Liberals believe deeply in tolerance and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals...

"Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade. Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria and genocide in Darfur.

"Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives."

Of all the damage George W. Bush has done to our national character, least visible is how his faith-based meanness has obscured traditional admiration by Americans of all religions, or none, of figures like Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa, whose beliefs lead to humility, self-sacrifice and good works rather than contempt for those who fail to share their self-serving political certainties.

“Cheap grace,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a minister hanged by Hitler for denouncing the comfort his Church was conferring on believers while turning a blind eye to the inhumanity of the Nazis, "is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...absolution without personal confession.”

That the cheap grace of Bush, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson is being superceded by the working faith of a new generation of evangelicals is heartening.

"In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves," Kristof writes, "you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians."

Their devotion is good news in every sense.

2 comments:

the bewilderness said...

"Scorning people for their faith is intrinsically repugnant, and in this case it also betrays a profound misunderstanding of how far evangelicals have moved over the last decade."

It is not for their faith that people like Huckabee are being scorned, it is their hipocrisy.

The unforgiving forgiven are a blight on every religion and always have been.

Yellow Dog Don said...

And there was Doctor Thomas Anthony Dooley III who worked in South East Asia in the late 50's.

He died in 1961 but was mentioned by President
Kennedy when JFK established the Peace Corps.

I am reminded of his work in Laos before the area got really hot.

As the war machine gears up again for Africa, it just might make the Iraq War look like a practice run.