• Book Reviews 13 hours ago

    The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

    The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

    by Michael Parker
    by Stephen Kinzer Times Books, New York. 416 pages REVIEWED BY MICHAEL PARKER In the 1950s, when Americans were genuinely frightened that the Soviet Union might dominate the world, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, neatly divided the world into two parts: atheistic communism and Western Christian civilization. With a Manichean worldview giving them all the assurance they needed that they were on the side of the angels, the Dulles brothers launched a series of covert operations to topple hostile regimes around… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 2 days ago

    Accompanied

    Accompanied

    by Becca Messman
    Becca Messman as a Young Adult Volunteer with her host-brother Panchito, 8 years old, standing in the patio of their home. “Why does our country want you here but your country doesn’t want us there?” This was the innocent question that Panchito, my eight-year-old Guatemalan host-brother, asked me while we cleaned banana leaves to make tamales. This was the question I couldn’t answer then and cannot answer now. Why did they want me there? I was there as part of the year-long PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer program, and during that… continue reading...
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  • Book Reviews 3 days ago

    Presbyterian Faith That Lives Today (bookmark)

    Presbyterian Faith That Lives Today (bookmark)

    by Roy Howard
    Donald K. McKim  Geneva Press, Louisville, Ky. 124 pages  No one has done a better job of describing the Presbyterian tradition for laypeople than Donald McKim. For many years he has been laboring in this vineyard with eloquent and careful writing that has deepened the faith of many within the Presbyterian fold and those entering from other traditions. This new book is no exception. It is written in a style that is accessible to anyone seeking an answer to the question: “What does it mean to be Presbyterian?” Pastors get… continue reading...
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Human trafficking survivors offered full scholarship at Christian university

(RNS) Point Loma Nazarene University wants to offer human trafficking survivors who want to earn a college degree a full-ride scholarship. PLNU, a private Christian university located in San Diego, officially launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign this week with a goal to raise $40,000 in 40 days. The money will fund the Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund, a reference to the Bible verse Isaiah 61:3. San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI and PLNU’s Center for Justice & Reconciliation resource website, Abolish Human Trafficking. The site also says 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, and it’s the second-largest source of illegal income in the world. “One of the things we are hearing over and over again … is that (the survivors) so badly want a college education, but that just seems so completely out of the realm of possibility for them,” said Kim Jones, external relations volunteer at CJR. “Many of them, … [Read more...]

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

The Brothers

by Stephen Kinzer Times Books, New York. 416 pages REVIEWED BY MICHAEL PARKER In the 1950s, when Americans were genuinely frightened that the Soviet Union might dominate the world, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, neatly divided the world into two parts: atheistic communism and Western Christian civilization. With a Manichean worldview giving them all the assurance they needed that they were on the side of the angels, the Dulles brothers launched a series of covert operations to topple hostile regimes around the world. The countries on the brothers’ black list included Guatemala, Iran, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Republic of the Congo, Egypt and Cuba. Historians today generally believe that none of them were necessarily lackeys of the USSR. Their nationalist policies, however, were a threat to global capitalism and Western powers adjusting to a post-colonial world. Stephen Kinszer tells this fascinating story in a fast-paced … [Read more...]

Tent of Nations: Cultivating hope against incredible odds in Palestinian territory

BETHLEHEM (PNS)  Imagine coming to work only to find that the tools and services you use to perform your daily tasks have been taken away. As you look around, you see that your co-workers have everything they need to succeed. That’s how Daoud Nassar feels every day. Nassar is the director of Tent of Nations, a 100-acre working farm on a hilltop south of Bethlehem in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. Nassar recently met with a delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) during its visit to the Middle East. He gave the group a tour of facilities and explained the challenges he and his family have faced over the years to keep the farm from slipping into Israeli government control. This valuable piece of Palestinian land was purchased by Nassar’s grandfather in 1916 and has remained in the family ever since. For nearly 75 years, the family worked the farm by day and slept in its caves by night, producing olive trees, grapes, wheat and other crops. In 1991, the … [Read more...]

Houston withdraws pastors’ subpoenas

(RNS) The mayor of Houston on Wednesday withdrew the subpoenas of sermons from five pastors who opposed an ordinance banning discrimination against LGBT people. Filed two weeks ago, the subpoenas outraged many conservative Christians as an affront to religious freedom. Some liberal groups, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, also said the subpoenas went too far. Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday (Oct. 29) that as important as it is to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), the subpoenas became a distraction. They were aimed at pastors active in the movement to overturn HERO through a citywide vote. Parker, Houston’s first openly gay mayor, said she made the decision after meeting with Houston pastors and then with national Christian leaders, including National Clergy Council President Rob Schenck. “They came without political agendas, without hate in their hearts and without any desire to debate the merits of HERO,” Parker … [Read more...]

Negotiations with Boko Haram a farce, says Catholic priest

NAIROBI, Kenya ( RNS) While the Nigerian government negotiates with the Islamic militant group Boko Haram for the release of 200 abducted schoolgirls, some church leaders in the country’s conflict-ridden north are expressing doubts about any impending resolution. Nearly two weeks ago, the government announced a cease-fire with the militants. It set Oct. 24 as the date for the girls’ release, but that failed to happen. The Rev. John Bakeni, secretary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, which includes the conflict regions of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, said Boko Haram never acknowledged it was negotiating with anyone. “This is a farce and a grand deceit,” said Bakeni. “Boko Haram has become more vicious, killing anything that moves — male, female, children, elderly … “I think the talks are a tactic for them to regroup, recruit, rearm and strategize,” added the priest. The group, which announced it was setting up a caliphate, or an Islamic state, in late August, has … [Read more...]

Accompanied

Becca headroom

“Why does our country want you here but your country doesn’t want us there?” This was the innocent question that Panchito, my eight-year-old Guatemalan host-brother, asked me while we cleaned banana leaves to make tamales. This was the question I couldn’t answer then and cannot answer now. Why did they want me there? I was there as part of the year-long PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer program, and during that year I lived with a Mayan family and worked in community service. The program had taught me well in my ten-day orientation that I was not there to “bring Jesus” to people who did not know Jesus. I am glad that was not my mission because Jesus was already there – in a big way. Cornfields were spread over the mountains in a checkerboard pattern with hundreds of tiny churches stitched across the slopes so that the entire country looked like a parament someone’s mother embroidered by hand. “Jesus loves you” was painted on the colorful sides of buses that bounced their way over the … [Read more...]