The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 24, 2019
Greetings from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I am with my young grandson for a weekend of soccer games. The weather is supposed to be ideal — highs in the 70s, with bright blue sunny skies. Last night my other grandson’s team had their first game of the high school football season, winning 27-17 (I’m sorry I had to miss it). So, fall sports have begun, even though it’s hard for me to fathom saying that before Labor Day.
Fort Wayne is the second largest city in the state, behind Indianapolis. It traces its beginnings back to the Revolutionary War, when a series of forts was built in the region. It became a trading post, then a village that boomed after completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal and the coming of the railroad. Fort Wayne grew into a manufacturing hub and remains a center for the nation’s defense industry.
Fort Wayne is where our fellow iMonker David Cornwell goes to church, and we plan to spend a bit of time together this weekend.
But most of the time, I’ll be trying to capture a few more shots like this…
…and cheering for my grandson.
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The Amazon is on fire…
Along with a series of remarkable photos, NPR gives this succinct report:
International concern is growing over the rapidly spreading fires that are destroying large swaths of the Amazon rainforest.
The fires were most likely started by farmers clearing land, but have spiraled out of control. In just the past month, about 36,000 fires have ignited — nearly as many as in all of 2018, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. Overall, there have been 74,155 fires so far this year — mostly in the Amazon — an increase of about 80% compared to last year.
World leaders are starting to sound the alarm.
“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote in a tweet Thursday.
Calling it an international crisis, he urged asked those attending the G-7 Summit this weekend — hosted by France — to put the fires at the top of the agenda.
Meanwhile, the country’s leaders appear to be fiddling while the rainforest burns. Brazil’s President Balsonaro, a right-wing nationalist, advanced a conspiracy theory, blaming NGO’s for intentionally setting the fires to get attention. Bolsonaro has angrily played down the fires as a “domestic Brazilian issue” and an annual phenomenon, while accusing Macron of a colonialist mindset in raising alarms. Finland has called upon the EU to consider banning Brazilian beef imports as a way of holding Balsonaro and his policies to account.
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Tinker, tailor, missionary, spy…
I might just have to get this one. A fascinating review at Christianity Today looks at Matthew Avery Sutton’s book, Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War.
Many of America’s first spies were missionaries or came from missionary backgrounds. Often enough, they were the only Americans who had lived abroad—not just among locals but as locals. While other American spies learned about the world through books and couldn’t really grasp its full range of quirks and complexities—“like tourists who put ketchup on their tacos,” as Sutton puts it—missionaries spoke several languages and knew the subtle differences between local dialects. They understood local cultures and faiths from the ground up and knew intuitively how to navigate between them. They knew, in short, “how to totally immerse themselves in alien societies.” But they always identified first and foremost as Christians and as Americans, and when they were called to serve the nation, they did not hesitate to do so.
…Being a missionary spy was fraught with moral and spiritual tension. The missionary aspires to the highest morality, while the spy deliberately blurs the lines between right and wrong; the missionary preaches a gospel of love and kindness, but the spy must lie, cheat, and steal in order to complete the mission. “It is an open question,” Eddy later observed with some regret, “whether an operator in OSS or CIA can ever again become a wholly honorable man.” Sutton’s title, Double Crossed, is a clever play on words that reveals these tensions between the methods of God and those of Caesar.
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And, more on the “Billy Graham Rule”…
Manuel Torres, 51, is a devout Southern Baptist who sometimes serves as a deacon at East Sanford Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina. Up until 2017, he was also a deputy in Lee County.
Torres said he was fired from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office after declining to train a new female hire alone — a violation of his Christian beliefs under the so-called Billy Graham rule. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in North Carolina federal court, the former deputy is now seeking more than $300,000 in damages for religious discrimination.
“Torres holds the strong and sincere religious belief that the Holy Bible prohibits him, as a married man, from being alone for extended periods with a female who is not his wife,” the suit states.
The order to train a female deputy would reportedly require him to “spend significant periods of time alone in his patrol car with the female officer trainee,” the lawsuit said.
“The job duty of training female deputies, in such a manner, violates (Torres’) religious beliefs against being alone for periods of time with female(s) who is/are not his wife and leaving the appearance of sinful conduct on his part,” the suit states.
Torres said he asked for a religious accommodation that would exempt him from the training in July 2017, according to the lawsuit, but he said his sergeant ultimately denied the request.
After Torres reportedly brought his concerns to higher-ups in the department, he said in the complaint, the sergeant retaliated by allegedly failing to respond to a call for backup “in an unsafe area in which Torres had to tase two fighting suspects, and a gun was present on the scene.”
In early September 2017, one of Torres’ superior officers also reportedly “expressed his anger” at the repeated requests for religious accommodation.
Less than a week later, Torres said he was fired without explanation.
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How do you respond to these statements?
[Google] has issued new community guidelines, saying, “disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news” doesn’t “build community,” and employees should, therefore, “avoid conversations that are disruptive to the workplace or otherwise violate Google’s workplace policies.”
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Greatest songs of my lifetime…
Each Saturday from now on, I’d like to contribute a section devoted to songs that I consider among the finest that have been written and performed during my lifetime. This will cover songs from the 1960s to today. I hope you will enjoy these sound bites from the soundtrack of my life.
On today’s edition of greatest songs, I’d like to remind us of Jimmy Webb’s three “city” songs that he wrote and then released in collaboration with Glen Campbell:
- By the Time I Get to Phoenix (Campbell’s version released in 1967)
- Wichita Lineman (released 1968)
- Galveston (released 1969)
This is as fine a song cycle as you’ll ever find. May you find joy in listening to them today.