This is the beginning of our third week of field training for our mission. We have Sundays off, but otherwise it’s nonstop training, from 6:00 AM PT to frequent after-dinner lessons. Lots of stuff to learn, and lots to go.
The only television we see is during meal hours at the chow hall. It’s always on a news channel: CNN or Fox News. I’ve become tired of our media - all I ever see is “talking heads” reading copy, or a commentator with his or her views of the significance of what has happened recently.
I get real irritated with the commentators, whether I agree with them or not. If they can’t help us, I’m not too interested in hearing what they have to say. It seems the primary purpose for much of what we watch as news is to promote the news channel we happen to be watching, or promote the commentator. It’s all from a safe distance, and costs the commentator nothing to make his or her comments. But American policy has a direct effect on real peoples’ lives, such as our team. Usually I tune out the news, unless there’s a headline about something really new.
I’ve become less interested in theoretical discussions and much more focused on practical matters. The practical matters are what may save a life sometime, so they are needed. Theory certainly has its place, but the day-to-day details on how to fix a radio or a weapon or a vehicle trumps political ideology right now, and will only grow more and more important as we leave.
Speaking of theory, I’ve started reading the Quran (an English translation - I cannot read Arabic, so true Muslims would argue I’m not really reading the Quran). It’s been tough sledding. It’s a difficult book, one that makes the King James Bible seem almost lucid.
I’ve found some interesting verses in the Quran, including surahs which argue against Muslims fighting against those who do not oppose them or their religion. It also teaches Muslims not to kill anyone who salutes another Muslim with a greeting of faith. These surahs lead me to believe the terrorists have done much damage to the theology of Islam - I do not believe Muhammad would ever approve how his writings have been used lately.
I will close this with a sentiment common to Jews, Christians and Muslims: May the peace of God be with you, and with us all.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.