Remembering Fear: The War Turns Five

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on March 10, 2008. It is dedicated to all the brave men and women who opposed the war from the start.

This month, the war in Iraq turns five. It’s a milestone worthy of note, and no doubt many people are taking time to reflect upon the Marches that have come and gone since American military boots first trekked into Baghdad. Some folks will honor the bravery and dedication of American men and women in uniform. Others will pause to consider the immense cost in American and Iraqi lives. Without question debate over dinner tables and in the halls of power will focus on the dubious wisdom of the war and upon the war’s deleterious effect on the nation’s economy.

This is appropriate. A robust and honest conversation about the war is essential if we are to be a people who learn from our mistakes, and as part of that dialogue I want us to remember how unpopular it was publicly to articulate an opposition to the war in the early days of fighting and in days and weeks and months leading up to the great battle for Babylon. Continue reading

Tacos and the Politics of Immigration

On Thursday, January 17 a slightly shorter form of this column was broadcast as part of the Perspectives series on KQED FM, San Francisco’s NPR affiliate. On Monday, January 21 it was the featured commentary on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum. An audio version of the KQED broadcast of this piece appears at the end of the text version, thanks to  my friend, JJ Chacon. Speaking of JJ check out the photos of a dream meal in Florence from on JJ’s website. Who’d like to join me for a meal like that?

In the coming weeks, as the primaries swing to the South and West, immigration will play a growing role in the drama of presidential politics. The candidates will be proposing immigration policies in an effort to capture the voters’ fancy, but before any of our would-be presidents has the opportunity actually to set immigration policy, I’d like for them to visit me in the barrio where I live in East San Jose. Continue reading

Seeing Through Fear at The X-Ray Project

This column was the featured commentary on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality website on November 5, 2007.

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

On a recent visit to San Jose State University I picked up a brochure for what promises to be a complicated and disturbing art installation set to open in San Jose this week. The X-RAY Project is a collection of x-ray and MRI images gathered from hospitals in Jerusalem and arranged for display by an artist named Dianne Covert. The diagnostic images are of the injuries sustained by victims of terrorism, and they show with clinical sterility what pain and suffering is endured when terrorists strike.

According to The X-RAY Project’s website, the traveling exhibit’s aim is to “explore the most important social issue of our time: the effects of terrorism on a civilian population.” The project was born of the artist’s desire to push back against those who might condone terrorism.

I’m conflicted. Continue reading