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August 5th, 2014
12:13 PM ET

Learning to love the 'enemy' in Iraq

Opinion by Jeremy Courtney, special to CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='JCourt']

(CNN) –We had no idea what we were doing, so we helped everyone.

My wife and I moved to Iraq in 2007 to assist in relief and development. We have since made friends on all sides, deep behind “enemy lines.”

Since the fall of Mosul to Sunni militants in June, the world has struggled to accept the failure of the American project in Iraq, the rise of “political Islam” and the marking of Iraqi Christians and other minorities for death or expropriation.

The world may watch from afar and denounce all Iraqi Muslims as militants bent on conquest. But up close, the reality is very different.

It was a Muslim cleric who may have saved this Christian's life. And I'm not the only one.

Even as jihadists justify their atrocities in the name of Islam, millions of Muslims are standing in solidarity with Christians who have been expelled from their homes.

In Najaf, displaced Christians are being housed in the most revered holy site in Shia Islam. Sunnis, Shia, and Christians worship side by side in Baghdad, praying for the peace and future of Iraq.

Our first six months in Iraq were difficult. The lack of electricity and water, the drive-by shootings, the explosions that more than rattled our windows — they shook our souls.

It wasn’t until we began helping a little girl who needed lifesaving heart surgery that we could drive back the gripping fear. Working with her father to save her life injected meaning into an otherwise confusing conflict.

Soon after, word began to spread that we were helping “last chance children” who had been rejected by the other humanitarian aid organizations. The larger organizations looked at pediatric heart surgery and saw nothing but risk.

We spent tens of thousands of dollars sending children outside the country to Israel and Turkey for surgery. Soon Sunnis and Shia, Kurds and Christians were lining up in our office in search of hope.

One day in a hotel lobby I bumped into a Muslim cleric decked out in robes and headdress and found myself fumbling for words. We had been taught to fear these types of clerics. They were supposed to be the crazies who promoted suicide bombings and sectarianism.

But that wasn't the case with Sheikh Ali.

“Peace be upon you,” he said with a huge smile. “We are here as a conference of Muslim scholars. We are against the terrorists.”

The sheikh welcomed me for tea with 10 other clerics and, at great personal risk, welcomed me deeper into his life.

Over time, Ali joined our effort to eradicate the backlog of children who were waiting for these lifesaving surgeries. He introduced me to Muslim leaders. He told me stories about fending off Shia militias as they sought to capture his neighborhood hospital and turn it into a partisan outpost.

When a top Sunni cleric issued a fatwa calling for our death because we sent children to Israel for surgery, our lives turned upside down.

It was Sheikh Ali who defended us against his friend, arguing that if we had saved just one life, as the Quran said, it was as if we had saved the whole of humanity.

He may have saved our lives with that move, but he fell out with the cleric after sending us a baby girl from his own mosque who needed surgery.

Demand for our work at Preemptive Love Coalition rose as international news reported on Iraq's shocking birth-defect crisis. We stopped sending children abroad and partnered with the Iraqi government to train Iraqis in their own hospitals.

Heart surgery is full of meaning in every culture, but especially in Iraq, where fathers find themselves begging anyone who will listen to donate blood while their child lies vulnerable in the operating room.

Once enemies have each other’s blood coursing through their veins, or your nemesis is holding your child’s heart in his hands, it is impossible to hate without condemning oneself, as well.

We know the world is not all rainbows and roses. There is a version of Islam out there that is dangerous and scary.

But there are far more Muslims like Sheikh Ali.

There is a lesson to learn from the fatwa that called for our death: It’s not violence or pre-emptive strikes that terrify the terrorists. They need violence to be done against them to justify their cause.

But pre-emptive love — shown through heart surgeries or simple hospitality — upends our simplistic stories and threatens hatred everywhere.

Or, in the words of the fatwa issued against our work:

“We must stop [these heart surgeries] lest it lead our children and their parents to love their enemies!”

God willing, Preemptive Love Coalition will mark our 1,000th operation next month in Iraq, with the help of Christian donors and Muslim sponsors like Sheikh Ali.

One thousand children, with thousands of fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles across Iraq.

We’ve drunk their tea, celebrated miracle birthdays, and prayed for their children as they go off to school. The Iraqis we are training will save the lives of tens of thousands more.

So, in the end, I have to admit the cleric was right: Pre-emptive love does work. It destroys enemies by making them friends.

Jeremy Courtney is executive director of Preemptive Love Coalition, an international development organization in Iraq, and author of "Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time." The views expressed in this column belong to Courtney. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Foreign policy • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Missionaries • Opinion

soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Bob

    The whole Jesus story is a steaming pile of bull-do. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    August 16, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  2. 19covenant19

    Jesus Christ has already returned

    with BIBLICAL EXCELLENT MIRACLES

    for all Nations on earth now.

    http://www.19covenant19.com

    August 10, 2014 at 6:52 am |
    • Bob

      The whole Jesus-sacrifice thing is a steaming pile of bull-do. How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      August 16, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  3. Vic

    @August 7, 2014 at 9:33 am |

    Meant the "Tower of Babel."

    August 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
    • Vic

      Sorry about that—technical difficulties.

      August 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
  4. awanderingscot

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Darwin1: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.
    Darwin2: The fittest chickens cross the road.

    August 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
    • bostontola

      scot,
      It's one thing to believe so deeply that you eschew evolution or the biological fact that humans are animals, it's entirely another to willfully misrepresent statements by others to support your position, and to deride and taunt people with other positions. When you do that, you become a lousy person by most people's standards, believers and atheists alike. A defense claiming some atheists do the same things, is absurd. There are low character people in every group. Why would you want to lead the people with low character group?

      August 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        Well, it's like this. You think you are an expert on evolution and you're not. You can't defend it intelligently so you parrot what you've heard and copy and paste the groupthink. I know i'm not an expert on evolution and therefore i research and quote the real experts on evolution, and because even the so called experts have serious doubts i will expose those doubts and the fall-acies of evolution that go along with it as I see fit. If you feel it is your prerogative to deni-grate me for that, go right ahead, i wear my big boy pant-s every day. If it's your intent to make me go away or stop, you're sadly mistaken.

        August 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • bostontola

          I can't tell if you missed the point or are purposefully deflecting. I just said that even if some atheists, including me, behave poorly, that is no defense of your behavior.

          I did not deni.grate you. I have accused you of lying and libeling people and have provided the objective evidence of your own statements.

          My expertise in evolution is also completely irrelevant to the point of my post. You have every right to believe whatever you want. My point was that you go beyond that and misrepresent and ridicule. That behavior is not justified by others having bad behavior.

          If you choose to 'one up' bad behavior, that is your right. But it also makes you a lousy person. Congratulations.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • Reality

          Obviously, awanderingscot still has not crossed the road to find the historical Jesus nor has he taken the recommended course on human evolution. Until he does, his comments are moot.

          August 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        By the way, there are biological similarities between humans and animals but there are just as many dissimilarities. It's never been proven and therefore not a fact that humans are animals in spite of your group think. You'll need to do alot more than quote biological similarities to convince thinking people that humans are animals.

        August 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • bostontola

          You missed the point again.

          Also, there is a biological definition of Animal. Humans meet that definition. You are allowed to ignore the scientific definition and use your own definition, that doesn't make you a bad person. Misrepresenting others in a transparent attempt to bolster your position is what makes you a bad person.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          I can't tell if you missed the point or are purposefully deflecting. I just said that even if some atheists, including me, behave poorly, that is no defense of your behavior.

          – There is no "if", you and your hatetheist friends do behave poorly.

          I did not deni.grate you. I have accused you of lying and libeling people and have provided the objective evidence of your own statements.

          – i'm not the least concerned that i've lied or libeled anyone, i haven't. If you don't like the fact that i've quoted evolutionists, too bad, don't read my posts. all the quotes i've posted are legitimate and i can back every one of them up.

          My expertise in evolution is also completely irrelevant to the point of my post. You have every right to believe whatever you want. My point was that you go beyond that and misrepresent and ridicule. That behavior is not justified by others having bad behavior.

          – i haven't misrepresented anything, that's your opinion. i will ridicule your preposterous evolution myth all day and all night if i like. you should mind your own business and do some self-examination of your own behavior, you're not a behavior cop.

          If you choose to 'one up' bad behavior, that is your right. But it also makes you a lousy person. Congratulations.

          – you can attempt to hang any label on me you want, i don't care. you don't matter.

          August 7, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          Your defensive response only accentuates my point.

          August 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          your attempts to smear me fall flat.

          August 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "your attempts to smear me fall flat."

          No-one has to smear you, you do an extremely good job of that all on your own with each post you make that attempts to debunk evolution. You make yourself look like the poster child for FoolTards Are Us-The New Improved Paste Eating Crew.

          August 9, 2014 at 9:22 am |
      • halero 9001

        I'm sorry, awanderingscot, but all of your assertions have the value false. Please note, awanderingscot, that I am not authorized to award you with any more "Dunce of the Day" awards. You depleted our supply several months ago. I will inform you when our stock for that particular award has been replenished.

        August 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
    • likklehero

      I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road freely without having their motives questioned.

      August 7, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
      • likklehero

        ... and don't have to worry about waking up as a cybernetic experiment if they are hit by a car.

        August 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
        • LaBella

          Nice nod to Robot Chicken.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  5. jknbt

    will somebody please do something about getting the Christians out of Iraq? Is there an aid group or something out there that can help these people to get away from their insane neighbors who want to kill them (freely admitting that the majority of iraqi muslims are not murderers....that much said, it only takes one crazy person with a gun and a full ammo clip to wipe out a family)....somebody do something....

    August 7, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  6. Keith

    We need to just declare a war on Islam and be done with it. Even if only ten percent are radicals and want to kill us, that is about 204 million people. That seems like a substantial number to me.

    August 6, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
    • saggyroy

      I don't think they are radicals, they are just following what Allah told them to do in the Koran. That aside, the other 90% is the seed for the 10% that follow the Koran.

      August 7, 2014 at 5:44 am |
      • Keith

        Many claim to be moderates, just like Christians do. I figure only about 10 percent are Fundamentalists but it is true they can cause a lot of damage and lead the ignorant to war for the glory of "god"

        August 8, 2014 at 12:15 am |
    • khidir619

      Then start the war Keith. Don't talk about it, be about it. If you had brains, which you clearly don't, you'd know that 10% of all races are nothing but heathens. That means there's millions of knuckleheads all over. Stop acting like there's no evil and murderous people in your racial category. Because there is. And the body count is very high. You're straight up soft. And ignorant. That's a bad combo.

      August 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
      • Keith

        It is clear that you have nothing to say, just as the so called moderate Muslims have nothing to say about their murderous brothers. Those Muslims that claim that Islam is a religion of peace should at least be making enough noise to be heard. Instead there is the silence of acquiescence. The stunning silence of agreement.

        There is no other group of people in the world today causing the kind of death destruction and evil as the Muslim community. When you take responsibility for your god, and take responsibility for your own lives perhaps those of you that do not believe as the murderers do will find the courage to stand up and stop the evil being done in the name of your religion.

        So, I say, stand up, it is you that is the coward, and it is your shame that drove you to attack me for telling the truth.

        August 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
        • khidir619

          Plenty of people stand up against these gang murders that have absolutely nothing to do with religion. You just don't see it. You only see what the media allows you to see. Do you know how many peaceful Muslims died fighting against these devils. Obviously you don't. And you say Muslims are the most responsible for death and destruction these days. Lol. That's my point exactly. Dumb people like you believe the perpetrators of crime but don't believe the good, stand up civilians who are actually Muslims. There's a simple explanation for that: You're a racist bigot therefore that's what you look for. Muslims account for ZERO murders on this Earth. Gangsters, heathens and hypocrites account for them all. In closing, I will straighten you out as far as the last sentence in your ridiculous post.. Damn right I stand up against this and I am active with it in the southern community that I live in. Just because it doesn't make the news doesn't mean I'm not involved. And down south, there are many like you. It's not easy dealing with countless people that have a age old habit of blaming good people for things the gangsters who live amongst them do. I'm anything but a coward. I'm looking for solutions. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it for the sake of my child and his generation. You're spewing hate via keyboards. Clearly you're the coward.

          August 9, 2014 at 8:19 am |
        • Keith

          No, I am a realist. The people murdering and destroying folks lives in the name of Islam are the ones giving you a bad name, it isn't me. I could dare less. I think that people that believe in a god that would order murder are stupid and backwards. Living in a make believe world with make believe sprits doesn't make you smart, it seems to make you violent and unreasonable.

          It doesn't make Christians nice people either, The whole god business means death and destruction through out history. Make the world a better place, quit going to your mosque or church and teaching your children to hate.

          August 11, 2014 at 10:29 am |
  7. nooic

    Now President Barack Obama is silent, than in 2007 as U.S. Senator had asked for Save Haven for Christians of Iraq, now he is U.S. President with power of Authority he became Silent. What a change!! — in Chicago, IL. Via. Mr. Hany Choulagh https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152610675237302&set=pcb.10152610675707302&type=1&theater also See page #2 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152610675337302&set=pcb.10152610675707302&type=1&theater

    August 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
  8. thesamyaza

    remind me again who stated this crusade,.. who started all the crusades?

    August 6, 2014 at 12:09 am |
    • bostontola

      Are the grandchildren of the Nazis responsible for the Holocaust?

      August 6, 2014 at 6:35 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        According to God they are, and the next generation or two as well.
        Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 5:9

        August 6, 2014 at 8:06 am |
        • bostontola

          I know, the notion is absurd.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:10 am |
        • awanderingscot

          The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20

          – once again you have shown your ineptness with scripture. you might want to actually read the ENTIRE bible someday.

          August 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • LaBella

          Theo believes the Jewish people deserved the Holocaust. No mention of the other 6 million who perished.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Scot
          That you found other scripture that contradicts the passages I cited just goes to show that the Bible is such a gargantuan collection of contradictions and adsurdities that it can be used to bolster just about any argument.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • zhilla1980wasp

          scot: "The son shall not bear the guilt of the father,"

          ok so adam died......after 900 years; according to this we wouldn't require a "jesus" to cleanse us of sin, because adam took his sin to his grave.

          so which is the lie? sin dies with the father; or doesn't it?

          August 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Rainer likes to think we are. I prefer to think of it as learning from history, so we can attempt not to repeat it.

        August 6, 2014 at 8:17 am |
        • LaBella

          Shhh!! Now he'll appear.

          August 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
      • kudlak

        bostontola
        "Are the grandchildren of the Nazis responsible for the Holocaust?"

        Not responsible, but if they're neo-Nazis, or members of some other group that maintains the core Nazi beliefs, then people have a right to link them with the Holocaust at least on some level, right?

        August 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • bostontola

          I can't link them. I would take precautions so they could be prevented from doing violence themselves. The vast majority of today's Germans are not neo-Nazis.

          August 7, 2014 at 7:26 am |
    • Doris

      I'm not exactly sure who started them, but people like Brian Boitano with those ridiculous outfits seem intent on keeping them going.

      http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Post/1204552

      August 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
      • Doris

        OK that wasn't really fair..lol. Evidently Brian B was still competing the year before the Ice Capades went out of business. There still is no excuse for those outfits..yesterday or today...lol.

        August 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
  9. mom2kidsdog

    May the grace and peace and love of God be with you always.

    August 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
    • kudlak

      Often, something like that reminds me of Effie Trinket saying May the odds be ever in your favour in Hunger Games. Somehow, wishing someone luck with regards to a danger they also represent just doesn't come off as sincere, know what I mean?

      August 5, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      May the force be with you..

      August 6, 2014 at 12:03 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Which god are you asking blessings from? With so many to pick from and such non-existent evidence for any you could be labeling a tree frog god and it would mean just the same.

      August 6, 2014 at 7:20 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      May Satan bless this altruistic endeavor

      August 6, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  10. moonshyne

    So sad that some comments below are so nasty. I don't care where the money comes from, what you're doing is amazing and an example of how humankind should be.

    May God, Allah or whatever you call Him bless you abundantly. We are ALL human with feelings, hopes, dreams and deserve to love and be loved. That's it!

    August 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • kudlak

      Well, I don't recognize anything as "Him", but I'm still thankful for everything good in my life, if that's what you mean?

      August 5, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      May the force be with you.

      August 6, 2014 at 12:01 am |
    • jknbt

      thank you moonshyne for your positive thoughts & comments, a welcome relief to all the backbiting nastiness that goes on with this blog

      August 6, 2014 at 8:18 am |
  11. Derek

    No other religion places more emphasis on loving one's enemies, forgiving them and doing good to enemies than Christianity.

    Christianity exacts a very high moral standard in that regard. Although, it's very difficult to stick to this standard, those who have overcome feelings of animosity have found great peace from learning to forgive their enemies and loving them like Christ Himself did.

    August 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Amen.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
    • observer

      Derek,

      Unless, frequently, those people are gay or pro-choice advocates.

      August 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • believerfred

        seriously? This is where your heart went?

        August 5, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          Certainly not all Christians are this way, but MANY preach the Golden Rule while trashing gays and pro-choice supporters.

          August 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
        • believerfred

          First two kids out of the shoot, Cain and Able, one loved one hated..................Ishmael and Isaac the first too sons out of Abraham revealed one hated the other loved.

          August 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          fred, Look up the amount of violence and harrassment outside clinics that offer the full range of women's healthcare.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
        • believerfred

          In Santa we Trust
          It is the deception of politics with one side whipping up the anti abortion crowd. Secularism is a religion and the party leaders like the leaders of power groups in Iraq stir up hate. Every election in the U.S. they whip up the hate hot buttons. It has nothing to do with God but everything to do with evil.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
        • LaBella

          I still don't see where it says that Cain hated. Is there a part of Genesis I am explicitly missing?

          August 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          fred, I agree with most of that, but maybe christians need to resist the "whipping up" and/or stay true to their christian standards and beliefs.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          Yes. God misjudged humans so badly that the very FIRST human baby killed the second human baby. If Donald Trump was his boss, the creator whose products immediately failed that badly would have been fired.

          August 5, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
        • Vic

          Theologians interpret that to be a "test of faith" by God for Cain and Abel where Cain gave his offering in pride and self-righteousness while Abel gave his with faith and humbleness as a sinner; therefore, God accepted Abel's offering as opposed to Cain's. Then, when Cain became angry, God explained to him that he can do right by Him and he would be OK, that is having faith in Him, or sin will take over him. Cain had a chance to do good by God but rather, sin took over him, and behold, he pridefully rebelled against God and killed Abel in anger.

          August 5, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          fred: So you believe that LGBT are your equal and the bible is wrong about them making the choice to be that way?

          August 6, 2014 at 7:21 am |
        • believerfred

          TruthPrevails1
          "So you believe that LGBT are your equal and the bible is wrong about them making the choice to be that way?"
          =>Yes, LGBT are my equal
          =>The Bible is not wrong as to choice since some LGBT: are born that way (no choice as to orientation), made that way by man (zero choice to limited choice dependent upon what mankind has done to that person) and pure choice driven by lack of morality. Sexuality (all sexuality regardless of orientation) is a product of many factors and at some point it moves from being good to being something other than good. At this point (other than good) Jesus says neither do I condemn you but go and sin no more.
          If someone murders another without capacity to make the right decision our justice system treats it as a lessor crime. It is a crime none the less. All have sinned and fall short of glory of God so we likewise have all committed a "crime". Sexuality gets a lot of attention in the Bible because it involves desire, love, lust and evil of all sorts which must be mastered. It is observable with obvious distinction between virginity and promiscuity. With the exception of those who lack sex drive it is an area of great testing. Sexual purity is held next to godliness. When Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery he addressed the hypocrisy of those who wanted to stone her and the evil of looking for the sin in others.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • believerfred

          LaBella
          I still don't see where it says that Cain hated. Is there a part of Genesis I am explicitly missing?
          =>two verses down "Cain was very angry and his face downcast" v8 Cain attacked his brother and killed him" "I am not my brothers keeper

          August 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • kudlak

        I'd also mention the Crusades, but those knights were just as apt to kill fellow Christians as Muslims. Heretics are a better example. Christianity has shown nothing but love towards theological enemies, right?

        August 5, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
    • kudlak

      "Loving" maybe, but respecting opposing points of view? Not so much, right?

      August 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      That's actually not true. Many of the Eastern religions pre-dated Christianity and Christianity has not always preached or acted that out, Just because in it's present iteration it conforms to your values, that does not make it true or valuable. We know when and where it picked up the "golden rule" from. That was in no way unique to Christianity.

      August 5, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
    • rogerthat2014

      Then there's the fact that is was an evangelical Christian president that shot up Iraq in the first place, but who cares about details?

      August 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Except for Buddhism.
      “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else but you are the one who gets burned”
      – The Buddha

      And Sikhism.
      “Where there is forgiveness, there God resides"
      – Kabir, p 137

      “Dispelled is anger as forgiveness is grasped”
      – Guru Amar Das

      August 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
  12. Reality

    Please note that Preemptive Love Coalition is basically funded by US government grants i.e. the USA taxpayers. As a taxpayer, I object as said monies should come from countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, countries who are not $16 trillion in debt and who believe in all this Islamic stupidity. guidestar.org.

    August 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
    • Alias

      An dyou think the good will this generates is less valuable than the money we send?

      August 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
    • bostontola

      Do you have a source for this assertion? What I have found is that the biggest donor is the Iraqi Government.
      http://lunamarshall.com/blog/2013/3/27/preemptive-love-coalition

      August 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
      • Reality

        See IRS Form 990, 2012. http://www2.guidestar.org/FinDoc-uments/2012/262/450/2012-262450109-099318e8-9.pdf. There is nothing in the 2102 IRS Form 990 about receiving grants or other monies from the government of Iraq. Also, most of the grant money they do get goes not directly to Iraqi doctors/hospitals but to the International Childrens' Heart Foundation in Memphis, TN who is the group who actually sends the teams into Iraq. So why not just give the grant money to the this group? Something very strange about this Preemptive Love Coalition?

        August 6, 2014 at 12:12 am |
        • Reality

          Just checked the IRS Form 990 for the International Children's Heart Foundation for 2012 and 2013 and they do not list any contributions from the Preemptive Love Coalition (over $1 million) but again said group only gives the total grant money received with no breakdown as to the sources which appears to be poor accounting and probably violates IRS policies.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:39 am |
        • bostontola

          Ok, so not US taxpayers.

          August 6, 2014 at 6:32 am |
        • Reality

          Please peruse the referenced 2012 IRS Form 990 submitted by Preemptive Love Coalition to see where they get their funding i.e. US government grants i.e. US taxpayers.

          August 6, 2014 at 6:51 am |
      • bostontola

        Not predominately US grants. Many charities get US grants. This organization is not 'basically' funded by US taxpayers.

        August 6, 2014 at 6:57 am |
        • Reality

          Not according to the Form 990s (guidestar.org). And it also strange that the topic group was basically supporting heart surgeries for all children when they first started and was not getting much funding. They switched gears and now emphasize assisting Iraqi children and their support doubled but is still five times less than the mentioned international fund. Bottom line: Preemptive Love Coalition is a redundant "non-profit" not needed since the International Children's Heart Foundation is doing the same thing on a broader scale. And it again is strange that Courtney gives all his group's contributions to said International Children's Heart Foundation but not after paying himself and his wife about $100,000 year in compensation to include travel expenses.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:12 am |
        • bostontola

          According that website, they are a high impact, fully transparent charity with a 5 star rating.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:58 am |
        • Reality

          The star rating is based on reviews from anyone. The five star rating was based on one review. It is now down to three stars. And transparency? Not defined well but probably based on submitting the 990 Forms which no one checks closely because of its length. Might want to review said forms yourself and see the issues first hand.

          August 6, 2014 at 10:43 am |
    • LaBella

      Wow. You object to children getting heart transplants. Wow.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
    • moonshyne

      Reality–the "reality" is that we are ONE race, the human race. Borders and countries are man made things that really mean nothing. A baby saved in Iraq is as special and innocent and full of potential as the baby in the US or Canada. Each child is a blank slate into which a story of life, love and success and health can be written. Each child deserves a fighting chance for a good life and bright future. Love that transcends racial, physical and religious lines is real love. God bless you and May love fill your heart.

      August 5, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
      • evolveddna

        moonshyne..Yes i agree with your sentiments and that is the way humanity should be.. but why do we think we need gods to feel good. and to be good. While borders and such are human constructs and, as you imply , can impede human altruism I find it odd that humans like to publicly identify with a god or prophet. Christians announce that their religion, god or Jesus is true, other must be false..Other folks claim they have the real god or Prophet and the others are wrong etc. this is not healthy..worse still are the claims are not provable and conflicts can arise. This by no means the only source of conflicts of course, but it is another potent driver of hatred.

        August 5, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
        • believerfred

          True to a small degree. There was no hate in Adam and Eve even after being driven from the Garden to pain and toil under the knowledge of good and evil. Hate is first noticed in the serpent and it is directed at the things of God. Hate is then noticed in Cain against his brother because his brother Able loved God.

          August 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • evolveddna

          believer Fred..isn't that what i said ?..no provable claims and hate can happen when folks make a choice in jealous prophets. No snakes in my story though. maybe that was the small degree part?

          August 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
        • LaBella

          Cain loved God, also. There has never been anything written otherwise.
          God showed preference to Abel, over the sacrificial offerings.
          Why would God do this? To reinforce that humans are emotional and to master those emotions? I don't know; could it be that the serpent influenced God? Because there is nothing that says the serpent influenced Cain.
          Why else would such blatant disregard be shown to Cain's offerings?
          Perhaps God was a carnivore over a herbivore.

          August 5, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
        • believerfred

          LaBella
          Cain just brought an offering while Able brought the best he had. This is a theme in the Bible to give all your heart, the best you can the best lamb. Never take the best for yourself and give the leftovers or give without your best intentions.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
        • LaBella

          Fred,
          This is what I have:
          Genesis
          4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten[a] a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

          Okay, can you tell me where in this passage that Cain was a slacker, and didn't give God the best he had? Or where Cain hated God?
          I see that God liked Abel's offering better, because He basically said so. Without giving a reason why.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • Doris

          Dang – I forgot about that. That did always bother me. Here Cain makes God a nice salad, and what does he get? "You fool – do you think leaves are going to carry me through the day – I need some meat in my belly!"

          August 5, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
        • Doris

          Cain probably put some garbanzo beans in that salad, too. God must not have figured out yet they have some pretty good protein in those little suckers.

          August 5, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
        • LaBella

          Doris:
          Maybe that salad was served with Green Godess dressing. Or Caesar Salad dressing. Hmmm.

          August 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
        • tallulah131

          I'm interested in Fred's take on the whole Cain/Abel thing. I wonder what excuse he'll give for the bible this time.

          August 5, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
        • Lee

          It looks like the link to my article didn't make it through, so here it is again:
          http://leewoof.org/2013/09/29/the-cain-and-abel-story-does-god-play-favorites/

          August 6, 2014 at 7:50 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Lee: And why should your opinion on the story be accepted as valid any more than any other persons opinion?? The bible is the book that tells of Christianity and so everything revolves back to it no matter how you twist it to make it fit, so your blog claiming there are beliefs not taught in the bible is completely fallacious, making you a liar and to top It off you have stolen advertising space for your blog, breaking the Thou Shalt Not Steal commandment.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:08 am |
        • Lee

          As of now, my main comment is awaiting moderation, so it hasn't appeared to readers yet. The moderator can decide whether the comment and link adds to the discussion. Then readers can decide for themselves whether they think my thoughts have merit.
          Keep in mind that the Cain and Abel story was composed in ancient Middle Eastern society, not in present-day Christian or secular society. Understanding the religious practices of ancient Middle Eastern culture can and does help in understanding the story. A close and careful reading of the Hebrew text also helps.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:42 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Lee: There is no moderator, so your comment will be awaiting moderation until the end of time. It doesn't matter how you spin it, you are biased in your opinion and that is all it is...there is no evidence outside of the bible that Cain and Abel even existed. The bible isn't a book or good morals and the god it speaks of has never been shown to exist...your point becomes moot.

          August 6, 2014 at 8:58 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          The Cain and Abel story is just another illustration of the bloodlust theme that is associated with the biblical God. This fable could have actually had a morally positive message if the roles were reversed. With Abel attempting(but failing) to kill Cain for having the audacity to present God with a bloodless offering. But Bible thumpers will twist any atrocity, like toying with Abraham to get him to go through the motions of killing his own son, into a virtue. It's really a kind of sick and twisted rationale.

          August 6, 2014 at 9:33 am |
        • Lee

          To make sense of the Cain and Abel story, it helps to understand ancient Middle Eastern sacrificial practices. Those bringing a sacrifice to God were supposed to bring the firstborn and best of their flocks, and the first and best of their crops. This represented both giving the best to God, and also, symbolically, giving everything to God. The first sheaves harvested were seen as representing the entire crop, and the firstborn of an animal was seen as representing all of the rest of that animal's progeny as well.

          The story says:

          Cain brought to Jehovah an offering from the fruit of the ground. And Abel, he also brought from the firstborn of his sheep, their fat portions. (Genesis 4:3-4)

          To an ancient Middle Eastern reader of this compact description, the message would be loud and clear: Cain just brought any old offering from his crops, but Abel brought the proper offering: the firstborn and the best ("fat portions") of his flocks. It's not that God really cares which particular sheaf of grain Cain brought. It's that in not bringing the first and best of his crops, Cain was bringing a half-hearted, disrespectful offering rather than richly thanking God from the heart as Abel did by bringing the first and best of his flock.
          (continued)

          August 6, 2014 at 10:09 am |
        • Lee

          (continued)
          Cain's subsequent course of ignoring God's plea to consider his motives and actions and straighten himself out, and instead going out and killing his brother (something totally unwarranted . . . Abel did nothing to harm Cain!), shows that Cain's heart was indeed in the wrong place. And "God doesn't look at things the way humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
          (continued)

          August 6, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • Lee

          (continued)
          For more on the Cain and Abel story, click my name above and read the article, "The Cain and Abel Story: Does God Play Favorites?"

          August 6, 2014 at 10:14 am |
        • Lee

          Okay, I managed to get most of my original comment posted. Still not sure what was causing it to be held for moderation.

          August 6, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • LaBella

          Not what Genesis says, Lee, no matter what spin one cares to put on it. Your blog notwithstanding, it is plain that by the Genesis account, God played favorites.

          August 6, 2014 at 10:19 am |
        • kermit4jc

          yes..God played favorites..with those who appropriately offer sacrifices...God is about relationships...full and personal..not shallow, name dropping relationships

          August 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi LaBella,

          Did you actually read the article? And did you read the linked analysis by the Jewish Rabbi?

          In fact, the Bible does not say that God played favorites. Not if it's read with a good understanding of the Middle Eastern culture of the time in which it was composed, and not if it is read with a careful attention to the exact wording of the Hebrew text. The idea that it's a story of God playing favorites is a very superficial reading of the text.

          August 6, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • LaBella

          Hello, Lee,
          I had a warning for malware when I tried to click on your article, so no.
          Your opinion isn't worth an infestation, and my interpretation is as valid as yours.
          You may think my interpretation of those Genesis passages are "superficial", but it says what it says.

          August 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • kermit4jc

          it says what it says..according to your misus/ignoring of context.....things can be different when seen thru the eyes of another culture, time etc. context is extremely important in any communication, to ignore it is to be a fool and not get thru life very well with poor communication, It is not an opinion that Gensis was written in Middle Eastern context..it isa fact very well supported

          August 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi LaBella,

          My website is a generic WordPress site, hosted by WordPress, with no advertising, no pop-ups, no nothing that could possibly be malware.

          And as nice as it is to think that one opinion is just as valid as another, in fact, those who have spent their lifetimes studying these texts do sometimes have better insight into their meaning than those who have not. All opinions are not created equal.

          If you don't learn from those who have deeply studied the text (I'm not talking about fundamentalist Christians, who also have a very superficial and faulty understanding of the text), then you'll continue to have a superficial, layman's view of what the story as it appears in the original Hebrew text actually says and means. Especially in the ancient, mythic stories that appear in the early chapters of Genesis, every single word affects the meaning of the text. My article is a very brief, popularly written condensation of not only many hours studying this particular story in both Hebrew and English, but many years coming to an understanding of the meaning of these Bible stories in their own context.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
        • LaBella

          Yes, Lee, and I got the generic malware message.
          Sorry.
          Your interpretation is not worth being infected by malware. Nobody's interpretation is worth being infected by malware; I'm not singling you out.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • igaftr

          I was able to check out Lee's site. He still is going on the assumption that there is a god, so take that for what it is worth. There is no evidence any part of the story ever actually happened, like most of the bible.
          it is more along the lines of old fables and stories that always had a moral to the story, take from it what you wish, but to think that it has bearing on reality from reality is baseless.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi LaBella,

          You're not going to get infected by malware if you go to my site. I don't know why your antivirus program is flagging my site, but it's being over-cautious. There are no threats on my site except threats to conventional and superficial thinking.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • Doris

          OK I tried the site and it didn't make my mac smoke or spew holy water on my skin or anything like that. I have to get to some things, but I'll try to check back to actually look at the content. It seemed to have a nice visual scheme and I did notice it had a Joan Osborne video posted on that page. ("What if God was one of us?")

          August 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi igaftr,

          Yes, of course, these early stories in Genesis are not literally true. They are origin myths from a pre-scientific age. Like most novels and movies today, they are talking about human realities–passions, ideas, motives, conflicts, relationships, and so on. These things are very real. We humans live with them every day.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • LaBella

          Ill take y'all's word for it....over cautious or not, I am unwilling to take that risk.
          YMMV.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Lee

          Testing

          The Cain and Abel Story: Does God Play Favorites?

          http://leewoof.org/2013/09/29/the-cain-and-abel-story-does-god-play-favorites/

          August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • igaftr

          lee
          Yes...to a point. Since the bible mixes in nonsense about "god" and the stories and insights into humanity exist in many places outside of the bible, makes the bible redundant in all things except for the supernatural claims, none of whic can be verified.
          The bible itself, due to the nonsensical supernatural stories, brings nothing new to the table.
          Most of what Jesus allegedly taught for example, were taught by the Buddha 400 years before Jesus...as but one example.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi igaftr,

          If something is true, it will probably not appear in only one place, or occur to only one person. The fact that Jesus taught some of the same things Buddha did adds more weight to the wisdom of both of them, not less. That's especially so since it's unlikely that Jesus' teaching was actually derived from Buddha's. They lived in widely separated cultures.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Vic

          @Lee

          Very well and professionally done sir, I share the same understanding of the incident of Cain and Abel.

          Joan's Osborne's "One of Us" is one of my favorites as well as Pat Benatar's "We Belong." Also, I always thought that "One of Us" referred to the God's Incarnation in the Flesh, that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

          God bless.

          p.s. Your Blog is clean as a whistle and clear of any Malware threats.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "Yes, of course, these early stories in Genesis are not literally true. They are origin myths from a pre-scientific age."

          Yet those are the very stories that speak of the god Christians believe in. So you have basically admitted to other Christians that you-A Pastor, don't even believe the book that is apparently your God's word and yet you're somehow expecting people to accept your interpretation of one of the stories from it?? If you're saying the book isn't correct, why should anyone take your interpretation of s story that comes directly from that book seriously?
          For you to even think you are reading the right way and someone else isn't is very arrogant.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Vic

          @Lee

          Very well and professionally done sir, I share the same understanding of the incident of Cain and Abel.

          Joan Osborne's "One of Us" is one of my favorites as well as Pat Benatar's "We Belong." Also, I always thought that "One of Us" referred to the God's Incarnation in the Flesh, that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

          God bless.

          p.s. Your Blog is clean as a whistle and clear of any Malware threats.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey vic the lab rat.

          Scientists Reproduce Evolutionary Changes

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/fossils_ruins/origin_of_life/

          August 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          "Not what Genesis says, Lee, no matter what spin one cares to put on it. Your blog notwithstanding, it is plain that by the Genesis account, God played favorites."

          – the book of Genesis has as it's theme God's sovereign election (you call favoritism). It is His absolute sovereign right.
          – the story of Cain and Abel is a great illustration of His sovereign election.
          – Abel's heart was known to God long before his offering. Abel's acknowledgment of his sinful nature and his love for God are the underlying cause for his election, the sacrifice is purely symbolic.
          – Cain's heart was also known to God long before his offering. Cain did not acknowledge his sinful nature and did not love and fear God. When God told Cain to subdue his anger, Cain refused and sinned by murdering his brother. His non-election although known to God previously was his own doing.
          – God's omniscience allows Him to know who is going to receive the gospel and who will reject it and thereby sovereign election is preordained.

          August 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • LaBella

          Vic, since you seem to portray yourself as an expert, can you tell me why the malware warning comes up for me?
          I am most certainly not of the opinion that Lee would do that; not at all...because I don't think that is the case at all.
          I would most certainly like to read his blog and see what he has to say, but I am unwilling to take that risk.

          Why am I getting it?

          August 6, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • LaBella

          Within those passages I quoted, awanderingscot, where does it say any of that?
          Where does it say a Cain hated God?
          Where does it say Cain hated Abel?

          August 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          did Cain murder abel? Then he hated Abel....are you really that simple that it had to be spelled out to you?

          August 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "I share the same understanding of the incident of Cain and Abel."

          Wait a minute Vic, if you read what Lee stated here he did say the stories were myths. ""Yes, of course, these early stories in Genesis are not literally true. They are origin myths from a pre-scientific age."
          The bible is the origin for the Cain and Abel story, so Lee has sad that story is wrong...do you fail to comprehend that? One of your own ilk is telling you the bible is wrong.

          August 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          LaBella

          Within those passages I quoted, awanderingscot, where does it say any of that?

          Where does it say a Cain hated God?
          – not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. – 1 John 3:12 (also Jude 1:11, Hebrews 11:4)

          Where does it say Cain hated Abel?
          – Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9

          – what is it you are disputing, God's sovereign election?

          "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." – Matthew 24:24

          Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
          To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
          Grace to you and peace be multiplied. – 1 Peter 1:1,2

          August 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • igaftr

          lee
          "That's especially so since it's unlikely that Jesus' teaching was actually derived from Buddha's. They lived in widely separated cultures."

          No they were not widely separated. Have you not heard of the Silk Road?
          There was a a great deal of cultural exchange, and it is EXTREMELY likely that the eastern philosophies, started weakening the old religions in the region,and the NT was written in responce to this, so it is very likely that what Jesus allegedly taugh WAS from the Buddha and other sources, just as the rest of the bible took from many other cultures.

          As far as the wisdom of humanity, yes you will find that in many sources, I just don't see the need for all the supernatural nonsense.

          August 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • LaBella

          Awanderingscot,
          Within the passages I quoted, where does it say Cain hated God?
          Where does it say Cain hated Abel?
          In the Genesis 4:9 quote, where does Cain state that he hates Abel?

          August 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

          – this admission is tantamount to ha-te. this coupled with the premeditated aspect of the mur-der are proof that he ha-ted his brother. what is your point? are you saying he loved his brother? is that why he mur-dered him?

          August 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • LaBella

          So, Kermit, having no answer to the questions asked, resorts to ad hominems. Again.
          Here's the answer:
          Within those passages, it doesn't say that Cain hated Abel.
          That's what you imputed, falsely.

          August 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          ok labella...did Cain murder abel, yes or no?

          August 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          and where did I make an ad hom?

          August 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • igaftr

          kermit
          "are you really that simple that it had to be spelled out to you?"

          That to you is NOT ad hominem? Perhaps because it was in the form of a question?

          August 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          I was serious..how can anyone quesiton if Cain hated abel..when cain MURDERED abel? That is not obvious???

          August 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • LaBella

          Kermit, Cain killed Abel because he was jealous of God's blatant favoritism.
          Knock off your as hominems.
          Genesis states nowhere that
          1) Cain hates Abel, and
          2) Cain hates God.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          YOU still don't get it...and you didn't really answer..yes or no..period..did Cain kill Abel...according to your answer..it is yes....now if you actually used your brain..ok? If Cain murdered his brother....it is quite obvious Cain HATED abel! AND God.....I mean my goodness..are you actually implying that cain killing hisbrother was a loving thing??? Cain loved his brother dearly so he murdered him......that what you saying?

          August 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi Vic,
          Thanks for your kind words.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi LaBella,

          All I can suggest is that you read my article, and if that doesn't convince you, then read the linked series of articles by Rabbi Fohrman.

          The fact is, the Bible doesn't explicitly state why God accepted Abel's offering but not Cain's. The idea that it was due to favoritism is an interpretation. But as I've already stated, a knowledge of ancient Middle Eastern culture plus a study of the Hebrew text itself does not support that interpretation. There are other reasons besides favoritism present in the story for those who care to study it closely enough and who are willing to educate themselves on the meaning of the story in its own cultural and literary context.

          Unfortunately, the common present-day interpretation of the Cain and Abel story is guilty of projecting present-day culture and values back into a story that long predated our particular culture. And many Christian interpretations of the story project Christian dogma back into a story that predated Christianity.

          Whatever other interpretations we may want to make, the first thing needed is to understand the story within the context of its own language and culture. And if you look at it from that perspective, it just doesn't support the common present-day interpretation that God showed favoritism. Instead, it supports an interpretation that God accepted Abel's offering because it was offered properly and from a good heart, whereas God rejected Cain's offering because it was offered improperly from a heart full of jealousy and anger.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi TruthPrevails1,

          Is the truth of falsity of what I say affected by whether or not I am arrogant? Let's stick to the ideas, please.

          Stating that all or part of the Bible is not meant to be read literally is not the same as rejecting it. If you read Robert Frost's famous poem, "The Road Not Taken," you'll find that it is all about woods and paths and yellow leaves. However, nobody thinks that's what it's actually about. Even if Robert Frost had never in his life taken a walk in a yellow wood, the poem would be just as evocative and meaningful as if it were a literal description of someone taking a stroll in the woods one fine autumn morning. Basically, it is irrelevant whether or not the poem is describing actual, physical and historical events.

          Same goes for the Bible. It's validity as a book, and even as the Word of God, is not dependent upon everything in it being literally true. Much of the best human literature is fiction. Does that mean it is "false"? No. It just means that its purpose is not to describe literal, physical events, but to delve into deeper, human issues.

          For the record, I believe that the the Bible is the Word of God–though my canon of included books is a subset of the Protestant Bible, which, in turn, is a subset of the Catholic Bible. However, for the most part I do not interpret the Bible literally. It was never intended to be a history or a textbook of science.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
        • LaBella

          Lee,
          I look forward to reading it. It sounds very compelling.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • LaBella

          Unfortunately, the common present-day interpretation of the Cain and Abel story is guilty of projecting present-day culture and values back into a story that long predated our particular culture. And many Christian interpretations of the story project Christian dogma back into a story that predated Christianity.

          I agree 100%.

          August 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi igaftr,

          I suspect there was much more influence in first century Palestine from closer cultures, such as the earlier Egyptian and Babylonian cultures, and from Greek and Roman culture, than there was from Indian culture. Certainly Palestine was a crossroads of the continents, and therefore of commerce in both physical goods and in ideas.

          However, regardless of whether or not Jesus was influenced by this or that culture, the point still stands that if something is true, it is likely to show up in various cultures and places rather than appearing in only one place and one culture. And the truth or falsity of what Jesus says isn't determined by where it came from, is it?

          August 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          @Lee – you stated the folliowing
          Unfortunately, the common present-day interpretation of the Cain and Abel story is guilty of projecting present-day culture and values back into a story that long predated our particular culture. And many Christian interpretations of the story project Christian dogma back into a story that predated Christianity.

          – if i am understanding you correctly the story of Cain and Abel is not factual and is only illustrative of relationships between men and between men and God (but only godwards?)
          – in your exegesis of this passage have you come to the conclusion that God in His sovereignty did not make Abel His elect (incorrectly labeled "favoritism")? If so, what scriptural support do you have for teaching this?
          – are you meaning to say that God is not sovereign in election and that this concept is merely Christian "dogma" ? Surely you don't suggest that the patriarchs were not also of the elect do you?

          August 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi awanderingscot,

          If you're asking whether I believe that the story of Cain and Abel actually happened historically, then no, I don't. It was never meant to be taken literally. It is about far greater things than mere human history. For it to be the Word of God, that would have to be true.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:07 am |
        • Lee

          "The elect" is simply an old-fashioned way of saying "the chosen"–in other words, the people whom God has chosen. A common error about this in large swathes of Christianity is that God just arbitrarily chooses whomever God wants to choose. But God's actions are never arbitrary. God chose Abel and Abel's offering over Cain and Cain's offering because of the quality of each offering and the quality of the heart from which it was given.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:08 am |
        • Lee

          The patriarchs were chosen because of definite qualities in their character, not because God just happened to like them better than other people. Read the story of Esau and Jacob, for example, and you will see that Esau was weak in character, while Jacob was strong and determined to achieve long-term goals–even if he was rather shifty in how he went about it. God could not accomplish what needed to be accomplished through a man who valued immediate gratification (food to satisfy his hunger in the moment) over his precious birthright. That is the beginning of the reasons that God says, in the stark language of the Bible, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Romans 9:13, based on Malachi 1:2-3).

          Judah, the fourth-born of Jacob. was chosen as the leader of the brothers, and as the leading tribe of Israel, because of the strong quality of his character compared to his three older brothers, as shown in the various stories.

          The elect are the elect because the good quality of their character is pleasing to God, not because God just happens to like them better than other people.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:10 am |
        • Lee

          To use a modern example, a good manager will hire based on experience, skill, reliability, and so on, not because the applicants are friends or relatives. The "elect" will be the ones most qualified for the job.

          August 7, 2014 at 1:16 am |
        • igaftr

          lee
          " the point still stands that if something is true, it is likely to show up in various cultures and places rather than appearing in only one place and one culture. And the truth or falsity of what Jesus says isn't determined by where it came from, is it"

          Man had humanity, evolved from our animal ancestors. The "truth" as you call it, is simply a representation of mans humanity, which then was written into all of the religions of the world. Each religion, for example, has the "golden rule" in some form or another.

          That doesn't change the fact that all the supernatural mumbo jumbo not only has nothing at all anywhere to support it, but gets in the way of real truths. Making unfounded claims of the supernatural, about "life after death" , muddies the water, creates conflict, destroys what it claims to build.
          Islam claims to be the religion of peace, christianity claims to be the religion of love, both histories prove otherwise.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • awanderingscot

          @Lee
          Hello Lee. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. I want to ask a few questions of you if you will in-dulge me.

          – Scripture describes the porches at Bethesda as having a 'great multi-tude' of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed gathered daily waiting for the water to move. It goes on to say that Christ saw a 'certain man' lying there who had been infirm for 38yrs and proceeded to heal him. Did Christ not see the multi-tude? Or did Christ not see any others in the multi-tude as needing healing or of being worthy? Why only this 'certain' man?

          – Why does scripture say that God 'chose' Israel and why is Israel described as being 'His chosen people'? Was there something inherently good or better about Israel? If so, please provide the scriptural basis for your a-ssertion. Thanks.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:42 am |
        • zhilla1980wasp

          lee: "a knowledge of ancient Middle Eastern culture"

          i have a singular question; how do you have a culture with only 3 living humans, 1 dead human?
          better question how did cain find a wife in another village?

          the obvious answer is inbreeding, which means humans wouldn't have survived as a species. any species requires far more than two of something to survive going extinct.

          August 7, 2014 at 9:04 am |
        • awanderingscot

          "Man had humanity, evolved from our animal ancestors."

          – why call it "humanity" then? why not "animality"
          – "had humanity"? speak for yourself, my humanity is still intact.

          August 7, 2014 at 9:20 am |
        • Vic

          @Lee

          I just would like to clarify that I share the same understanding of the moral of the story of Cain and Abel, that is "True Faith in God" that matters, while I believe it was an actual event. I missed the part in the thread where you indicated that you don't believe it was an actual event, and I respect that, I have the same inclination towards the account of the "Tower of Babble."

          August 7, 2014 at 9:33 am |
        • zhilla1980wasp

          scot: "why call it "humanity" then? why not "animality"

          why call it "humanity? why not call it " god-ality"; seeing you don't possess humainty, your god gave it to you.

          August 7, 2014 at 9:33 am |
        • igaftr

          scot
          I differentiated humans from the rest of the animals with the term of humanity.

          Humans are animals, there is no question.
          You tried to claim otherwise the other day, but you never actually had any argument, every point you tried to make was shot down because there was no logic or reason behind it, so you failed.
          You never once brought any point that would exclude humans from being animals...not one valid point, but you did secure you place in the ignorance hall of fame.

          August 7, 2014 at 9:41 am |
        • Vic

          On a side note:

          I'm not going to indulge in this, but for the record, since it's been brought up oftentimes, I believe "human consciousness" is evidence that we are not animals in the literal sense.

          August 7, 2014 at 9:59 am |
        • igaftr

          vic
          " I believe "human consciousness" is evidence "

          How exaclty does our consciousness disqualify us from the other animals, that have their own consciousness. That is just you trying to rationalize your belief.
          Humans are animals...we are as much a part of nature as any other earth bound life form. There is no point in trying to argue that humans are not part of nature, not animals, when EVERYTHING shows we are every biological process, our DNA...everything proves we are animals. There is NOTHING that humans do that changes that fact.
          This argument is just plain silly.

          August 7, 2014 at 10:39 am |
        • awanderingscot

          "There is no point in trying to argue that humans are not part of nature, not animals, when EVERYTHING shows we are every biological process, our DNA...everything proves we are animals"

          – your logic is infantile, plants have biological processes and dna too, but they aren't animals now are they?

          August 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
        • Vic

          @August 7, 2014 at 9:33 am |

          Meant the "Tower of Babel."

          August 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi awanderingscot,

          About the story of the healing at the pool in John 5:1-4, the text doesn't say why Jesus picked that man rather than any of the others. It only says that when Jesus saw him lying there, and heard that he had had his condition for a long time, he spoke to him, and then healed him. We're not given much more in the text about this man, except that he was willing to talk straight to the Jewish authorities when they questioned him, and that Jesus later told him to stop sinning, implying that he had been a wrongdoer.

          If we take the general principles in the Gospels of why Jesus healed some people but not others, the most likely reason is that Jesus, looking into this man's heart, saw that he was of sufficient faith and character to accept the healing, whereas the others there were not. We could also presume that Jesus saw that healing this man would bring about spiritual benefits to him, whereas the others there may have been resistant to any kind of healing of their spirits.

          August 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • Lee

          Make that John 5:1-14.

          August 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • Lee

          About why God chose Israel, what I said about Jacob earlier applies. Israel is another name for Jacob. The descendants of Jacob, who were the nation of Israel, took on their character from their forefather. The names Jacob and Israel are also often used as a personification of the entire Israelite nation. So Jacob/Israel became a figure representing the nation of Israel.

          To pick up what I said earlier, God saw that Jacob was of a strong, even stubborn character–someone who would hold his own against all comers, and stick doggedly to his own God, his own beliefs, his own path even if all the people and nations around were in conflict with him. God needed a nation among whom to establish monotheism in a polytheistic world. This required a character such as Jacob and his descendants showed. It's not necessarily a better character by present-day standards. But it is a more firm character.

          Paradoxically, the same firm character was also, as I said, a stubborn character. The Bible often uses the term "stiff-necked" of the Israelites. In being both stubborn in maintaining their belief in Jehovah and stubborn in defying and falling away from Jehovah, they could illustrate the spiritual path of all fallen humans, who both cling to God and reject God at the same time.

          So the nation of Israel was not necessarily chosen because it was better than all others. But it was chosen because it was the most suitable nation available for the purposes of writing the Word of God for the spiritual betterment of future generations. This is the force of the statement in Genesis 22:18, and similar statements in several other places, that "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him."

          This is just a small taste of why God chose Jacob, and Israel, over all the other individuals and nations of the time.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi zhilla1980wasp,

          If these early stories are taken literally, they just don't work. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and all of the succeeding generations for approximately the first eleven chapters of the Bible represent whole cultures and phases of early humanity, not individual humans.

          These are origin myths, not literal histories. As such, their meaning rests in the symbolism of the characters and events in them. The present-day methodology of history and science as an accurate accounting of historical events and an objective description of physical processes simply didn't exist when these stories were composed. Reading the Bible as literal history and science is an anachronistic projection present-day culture into an earlier age.

          Though such a reading of Scripture has become dominant among Christians in the past five hundred years or so, this is not how Scripture was read for several thousand years before that. Scripture was seen as imparting moral and spiritual lessons, and the presence of deeper meanings in the story was taken for granted.

          As an example of this, Jesus himself commonly spoke in parables. And he presented the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms of the Old Testament as speaking of him (Luke 25:25-27, 44-47)–which for the most part they don't literally but they do spiritually.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • Lee

          Hi igaftr,

          About supernatural things, there will never be any scientific evidence for the supernatural for one simple reason: Science is the study of the physical universe. Supernatural things are, by definition, non-physical.

          Using science to study God and spirit is like using a hammer to paint a wall. It's the wrong tool for the job. If you are looking for scientific evidence or proof for the existence of God and spirit, you will search forever without finding any, because there isn't any. Evidence for spiritual things must come from spiritual sources, experiences, and methods, not from physical ones.

          I responded to a reader's question on this subject on my blog. If you're interested in my take on the subject, go to my blog and read this article:
          "Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?"
          http://leewoof.org/2013/01/20/where-is-the-proof-of-the-afterlife/

          I don't expect the article to be convincing to you. However, the issue of "evidence" and "proof" is nowhere near as simple nor as cut-and-dried as your garden variety atheist thinks it is.

          August 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Good points, Lee. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to checking out your writings.

          August 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
        • Lee

          Thanks, Dalahäst.

          August 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      http://preemptivelovebook.com/

      – we should support efforts to help others, especially children; not try to find imagined fault.

      August 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  13. kermit4jc

    1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. i need to follow this as well, i admit, but these people are showing this passage in action. MOre action, less talk..

    August 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
    • Reality

      Had you taken more action on the reading front, you would determine that 1 John as with John's gospel is historically nil.

      August 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
      • theala

        Oh, come on. It doesn't matter whether you believe Jesus was a real person or not. That passage is a good life philosophy.

        August 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
        • Reality

          Yes indeed Jesus was a real person. He, however, is no god and did not rise from the dead. Details previously presented. And the Babylonians and Egyptians were the first to list codes of conduct for the human race. The Jewish and Christian scribes simply followed their leads. Details also previously presented. And rigorous historic testing of the NT has shown that only 5-30% of the NT has historic validity.

          August 6, 2014 at 12:51 am |
        • Reality

          Hmmm, the philosophy of life ?

          Some reflections:

          "The Two Universal Sects

          They all err—Moslems, Jews,
          Christians, and Zoroastrians:

          Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
          One, man intelligent without religion,

          The second, religious without intellect. "

          Al-Ma'arri
          , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

          Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

          Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

          "Death's Debt is Paid in
          Full

          Death's debt is then and there

          Paid down by dying men;

          But it is a promise bare

          That they shall rise again. "

          Al-Ma'arri

          August 6, 2014 at 12:54 am |
      • kermit4jc

        HUH? what you saying?

        August 6, 2014 at 1:51 am |
        • Reality

          The religion cons were recognized early on by the likes of Al-Ma'arri , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

          Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

          August 6, 2014 at 7:10 am |
    • rogerthat2014

      Confucius said: "A gentleman is ashamed if his words outshine his actions."

      August 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
    • bostontola

      kermit,
      I agree with the intent of your comment completely. I would add that words can also be powerful, so we should avoid false dichotomies.

      August 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Are you so illiterate and un-read, the only book you can quote is a set of ancient texts non-unanaimously VOTED into a canon ?

      August 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
  14. bostontola

    "Pre-emptive love does work. It destroys enemies by making them friends."

    Dr. Courtney is a brave and admirable person.

    Thank you Dr. Courtney.

    August 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "a brave and admirable person' sure, why not. But he and his wife are casualties waiting to happen.

      August 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
      • bostontola

        He believes in what he's doing, he seems to recognize the risks, he is determined to do what he thinks is right, and he is having an impact. I like people like that.

        August 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          I like those kind of people also... I find it interesting that he felt the need to go to Iraq instead of staying in his own country to help his own people.

          August 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • bostontola

          True. He would have a very kind of impact at home. He may want to take a shot at making a big difference, both in the lives he saves and the relationships he changes. It's high risk, high reward. It's not for everyone.

          August 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • bostontola

          S/B 'different kind'

          August 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • rogerthat2014

          Risking one's life to save others. Most people would call that heroic.

          August 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • LaBella

          Doctors Without Borders does the same heroic work, without having any qualms about the religion of the patients in need.
          I find that this gentleman to be admirable. He is doing what he became a doctor for in the first place: helping others, and the most truly vulnerable at that: children.

          August 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
        • bostontola

          Akira,
          I agree. Dr. Courtney is facilitating heart surgery and is also healing hearts. I like his approach to turn enemies into friends. Not everyone in Iraq will become friends, but any friends he makes equate to fewer enemies. I'll take that any day.

          August 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
        • LaBella

          bostontola, agreed. I really hope nothing happens to him and his wife. That would be utterly sad.

          August 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
      • moonshyne

        Luckily they've not cowered and let evil scare them off..and here they are to tell about the selfless and amazing things they've done. God bless them!

        August 5, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    Your enemy is never a villain in their own eyes.
    Keep this in mind and you may find a way to make them your friend.
    If not, you can dismiss them quickly – and without hate.

    August 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
  16. Reality

    Nice but futile as long as religions are involved. And it is really quite easy to change the mindset with some education:

    Again, a summary of said education from my scrapbook of essential theology and religious history:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    August 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
  17. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Learning to love the 'enemy'... An excellent analogy:

    Alien: Release me... Release me!...Now!...NOW!...
    President: I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to co-exist. Can there be a peace between us?
    Alien: Peace?.... No peace...
    President: What is it you want us to do?
    Alien: Die... Die...

    August 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Vic

    When I read stories like that, I cannot help but wonder, is that a good cop bad cop tactic?!

    It is a huge undertaking to work behind enemy lines and a huge act of kindness to provide such medical help.

    Sadly, the conflict is an ideological one before it is a political one, just like in Israel, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, ..., and the list goes on. The common denominator between all of these conflicts is Islam. I said it many times over, there cannot be political solutions alone, rather, there can only be ideological solutions where the political machines only then follow.

    August 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      True. But I wonder, even though he didn't mention this in his article, while giving medical care, is he using this as an opportunity to be a witness to others of Jesus?

      Our ministry to our fellow man, should we be building homes, or performing heart surgery must never be divorced from the preaching of the gospel, or all we are doing is making this world a better place to go to hell from.

      August 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • Vic

        I believe the answer is in the title and the body of the article as well as the name of his organization.

        I believe his approach serves spreading the message of Christ in loving and feeding thy enemy and avoiding vengeance (Matthew 5:43-47 & Romans 12:19-21) very well by doing his charity work. That also draws a sharp contrast between Christianity and Islam, where the latter instructs the elimination of enemies.

        August 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Oh that we all could be that selfless in feeding our "enemies." What a great example.

          August 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • zhilla1980wasp

          ok let's have the jews start this ball rolling.

          have them bring down their walls blocking off parts of isreal and "love their enemies" into submission.......instead of bombing them into submission.

          August 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          And yet there are Islamic charities working in many places in this world to care for victims of war and natural disasters, without regard to the victims religion or nationality and without needing to convert them.

          August 5, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          And yet there are Islamic charities working in many places in this world to care for victims of war and natural disasters, without regard to the victims religion or nationality and without needing to convert them. One of my very best friends, who is not Muslim, works for one.

          August 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
      • revrickm

        And therein lies the problem with "religion". Christians and Muslims always have the hidden agenda of conversion as their ultimate goal. So, behind the heart surgeries, the feeding, and the clothing is a "bait and switch" to be a witness for Jesus and the Gospels.

        Until we can look at another suffering human being and see only that – a suffering human being – we will never trust each other. When you build another's trust in that manner and then later say to him, "Let me tell you about Jesus", it only continues his distrust that your goal, your hidden agenda all along, was to build his confidence only to sneak in later and convince him that 'your' religion is right and 'his' religion is only sending him to hell. The trust is broken and the cycle of distrust continues unabated.

        August 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Vic

          I don't believe he is pursuing a hidden agenda of any sort.

          I believe he is providing a prominent professional service to humanity free of charge, where he doesn't have to, out of belief in the "Sanctity of Human Life" and as a Christian with a directive from the Lord Jesus Christ to do so. Inadvertently, he will lead his enemy by example, who might eventually wonder and inquire about the Message of Christ, totally at "Free Will." Islam, on the other hand, dictates acceptance and conversion by the sword, it is a basic tenet.

          August 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Vic,
          Funy I thought it stated somewhere in the Koran, 'there shall be no compulsion in religion'.

          August 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • G to the T

          Hi Vic – while I agree with you, I have seen many times where an offer of assistance was used as "foot in the door" to conversion. It's not universal, but I do see it as one of the "dark sides" of Islam/Christianity.

          Leading by example is a great idea, telling someone they need to attend a service before they'll get food... not so much.

          August 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Vic

          I was asked before about that before, and I answered with this:

          If I were to be in charge of feeding and sheltering the homeless and/or the needy, I would run it with a strict policy, that is "No Questions Asked." I further extended my statement to "Even if Bill Gates walks in asking for food and shelter, still, the policy is "No Questions Asked" for you never know what brought him in here at the moment."

          August 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • G to the T

          I can respect that Vic.

          August 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • revrickm

          @Vic?
          No hidden agenda?
          Go back and re-read Theo's post where he said, "Our ministry to our fellow man,...........must never be divorced from the preaching of the gospel, or all we are doing is making this world a better place to go to hell from."

          That seems pretty clear what the intentions were all along. As a former conservative Christian, I see no harm in witnessing to others by imitating the life of Jesus in selfless service, but only if the other party is interested and asks. Until we see and minister to each other's suffering first, regardless of his or her faith or lack of faith, this bickering amongst and between religions will continue.

          August 6, 2014 at 6:59 am |
      • LaBella

        Vital medical treatment should never be used to testify to the ministry of Jesus. It smacks of extortion.

        August 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          then I guess these people should do it in a mean way....the people not testify I words only..but in actions and deeds..please refer to 1 John 3:18

          August 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • LaBella

          Withholding vital medical treatment, as you suggest, is distinctly in Christian. Please refer to Mathew 5:38-48.

          August 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
        • LaBella

          *Edit: Withholding vital medical treatment, as you seem to suggest,[...]

          August 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
        • LaBella

          Distinctly unChristian.

          August 6, 2014 at 10:23 am |
    • MidwestKen

      Vic and Theo,
      You say this conflict is ideological, but aren't you also ones who claim that religion (ideology) is not to blame, but is misused as a justification?

      August 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • kudlak

      Vic
      So, the problem is with Islam, eh?

      What would you suggest, that some autocratic murderous dictator gain control over all the Muslim nations and force a single, state version of the faith, like Constantine did for Christianity? That should stop the violence, right?

      August 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
  19. Theo Phileo

    Amen, brother. That sounds very much like the mission of the Mercy Ships, one of which I toured when I was in kindergarten many moons ago, and I was even then moved to tears by the compassion for people.

    As I grew up in a Christian school, I was reminded even then of "If your enemy is hungry, FEED him... and in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.." That's not speaking of some torturous method of death... It's referring to the refiner's fire when he separates the impurities from the pot. That is – by doing good to your enemy, you are doing the very thing that will cure him of being your enemy.

    August 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
  20. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Who is "the enemy" in Iraq?

    Whose 'enemy' exactly?

    August 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "the world has struggled to accept the failure of the American project in Iraq,"
      ---------------------
      I think many would suggest it was a fool's errand in the first place and it's results are demonstrably catastrophic.

      I'm not claiming that Saddam Hussein was a 'good guy' mind you, his regime threatened regional stability since the beginning but arguably things there have gone from bad to worse since the US decision to invade Iraq.

      August 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I presume from context that related to the headline, the author himself is "the enemy in Iraq".

      I wonder if this is another 'snappy' but misleading headline by the Belief Blog.

      August 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
    • Vic

      I remember back in 2004 Presidential Primaries, the Republican National Convention featured an Shiite Iraqi woman as a guest speaker. In her speech, she thanked President George W. Bush tremendously for the favor of a lifetime that he gave to the Iraqi people by eliminating Saddam Hussein. Later on, listening to talk shows, I realized that Shiites are the majority in Iraq, and that Saddam Hussein was Sunni. To me, that affirmed the ideological nature of the conflict on another level. In other words, the enemies are on ideological/religious basis over there.

      August 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        "the enemies are on ideological/religious basis over there"
        --------------------
        Yes, very much so.

        It might be unreasonable to definitively say that 'religion is the cause' of this animus, but it is inextricably linked and used to define "sides" in conflict. Religion is certainly used as a tool by those who want power over others in Middle Eastern conflicts and has been for millennia.

        August 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.