Is This Incompetence?

by Berry Friesen (November 28, 2015)

Here in the US we have been observing our annual days of “thanksgiving” for life’s blessings and mercies.  Part of this holiday’s charm is how unscripted it is, thus leaving space for families and friends to create their own liturgies of celebration.  High on my gratitude list this year is that World War III has not erupted, notwithstanding Turkey’s ambush earlier this week of a Russian plane over Syria.

Outside the mainstream media in the West, the consensus view is that powerful elements of the US government joined Turkey in planning this provocation.  Turkey would not have risked so much by itself.

After all, the Russian jet was following a flight path announced in advance to the US and had emptied itself of its cargo of bombs. If it entered Turkey’s airspace at all on its return flight, it exited again within less than twenty seconds.  When attacked, it was not in Turkey's airspace nor a threat to Turkey in any way.

Aside from high-risk moments such as these, the key variable for those of us living in one of the countries making up the imperial coalition is whether or not we perceive the actions of our government to be morally legitimate.

On that count, there is some basis for encouragement.  People in the West have begun to notice that the US-led coalition isn’t nearly as serious about defeating Daesh as it is about getting rid of Daesh’s foremost opponent on the ground, the government of Syria.

What’s more, people have begun to grasp how this two-faced approach has greatly extended the length of the war, thereby increasing the suffering of the Syrian people and the likelihood that Syria will never recover.

More people also are noticing Russia is very serious about defeating Daesh.  Yes, it supports the reorganization of the Syrian government, but only after the Salafist threats (Daesh, al-Nusra, etc.) are rolled back.

Yet despite these signs that Westerners are beginning to find their ethical bearings and have started to see through the fog of propaganda, the fact remains that at least in the US where I live, people are very reluctant to stop giving the empire the benefit of the doubt.  Many call the Obama Administration incompetent, US policy confused and US actions incoherent.  But even after Iraq and Libya—military interventions conducted under false pretenses that left relatively successful societies in utter ruin—few describe US actions as evil.

Until more of us are willing to move from “incompetent” to “evil,” the empire will carry on. And the list of countries driven into chaos—Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Yemen—will continue to grow. That’s because the empire is not a benign structure doing the best it can amid the uncertainty and tragedy of life; in the words of the last book in the Bible, The Revelation to John, it is a beast devoted to devouring and destroying.

But to my friends and neighbors, talking this way is reckless hyperbole.  It is not perceived to be a serious attempt to describe reality, but a distortion reflecting the subjective state of mind of the speaker.

In response, then, we must focus on the details of the empire’s operations—the banality of evil, if you will.  This tends to get tedious, but it is the only way to bridge the chasm.

So let’s consider one example—the oil Daesh steals from Syrian wells and sells at discounted rates. It receives an estimated $1 million-$4 million per day in revenue from those sales. It uses the money to extend its reign of terror.  Why has the US-led coalition not stopped Daesh’s oil trade?

In February 2015, the United Nations Security Council passed unanimously Resolution 2199 condemning all trade with Daesh and other al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups.  Yet the trade in oil has persisted, growing during the past year from 30,000 barrels a day to 40-50,000.  Through a raid on the compound of Daesh’s chief financial officer, Abu Sayyaf, the US has clear and undeniable proof of links between Daesh and senior government officials in Turkey to facilitate the oil smuggling.

Over the first fifteen months of its air campaign to bomb Daesh, the US-led coalition conducted 8,000 bombing flights.  Yet Daesh’s oil smuggling operation continued to grow.  This changed on November 21 when US fighter planes bombed 100 tanker trucks used to transport the stolen oil into Turkey.

Why did the US suddenly start bombing oil tankers?  At the November 20th G20 summit meeting in Turkey, Russian President Putin illustrated his remarks with satellite photos of a miles-long convoy of tanker trucks stretching from Daesh-controlled territory into Turkey. Putin's picture revealed the utter hypocrisy of the US-led coalition.

Here is Indian commentator M. K.  Bhadrakumar’s assessment.

“The really shocking thing is that the United States didn’t move a little finger . . . to stop [Daesh’s] oil business. If the Russian pilots could spot the [Daesh] convoys stretching for miles heading for the Turkish border day in and day out, how could the lone superpower’s satellites have missed it? Of course, the Obama administration damn well knew. But it chose to look away. Period.

“Just think of it: [Daesh] has killed American nationals and yet the Pentagon has been ordered to handle the [Daesh] with kid gloves! President Barack Obama waxes eloquently about his determination to ‘degrade and destroy’ [Daesh], but the Pentagon is under instructions not to disrupt [Daesh’s] oil trade! This is cold-blooded statecraft.”

Yes, think about all those images of Daesh atrocities on our screens.  And then ask why the US-led coalition has been protecting Daesh’ oil smuggling operation. The conclusion is inescapable:  the US-led coalition has wanted the war in Syria to continue.  Had it desired an end to the carnage, it would have supported the peace plan of United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan in June 2012.

And no, this is not due to incompetence; it is something far worse, what the Bible calls evil.

Reframing Daesh, Syria

by Berry Friesen (Nov. 24, 2015)

(Updated below)

The political elite frame discussion of the terrorism in Paris and the war in Syria by two consensus views and two matters for debate.

The first consensus (beyond debate, in other words) is that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down.  The second is that Daesh (pretentiously called “the Islamic State”) must be violently crushed.

The first issue we are encouraged to debate concerns what mix of violence the US should use in crushing Daesh.  The second is whether the US should deny admission to all Syrian refugees on the off chance that a few are terrorists.

How should Jesus-followers season this discourse?  We could simply add our two cents, assuming the matter has been framed accurately and constructively.

Or, we could be the “salt” Jesus asked us to be by reframing the discussion. Here's a start.

1.  The current policy of suppressing terrorism by use of overwhelming force is a failure. In 2000, the year before the so-called war on terror was launched, the number of deaths worldwide caused by terrorism was 3,329; by 2014, terror-realted deaths had increased nearly ten-fold to 32,727.

2. Nearly all “Muslim terrorists” subscribe to the Wahhabi strand of Islam. This strand takes the traditional Sunni mantra "One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque" as a mandate to impose conformity on all others (including Muslims of Shia or Sufi persuasion), even if that requires the use of violence.  Moreover, Wahhabism seeks to replicate the purity of an ancient era when the Prophet Muhammad ruled from Medina.

Today, Saudi Arabia—a close ally of the US— is the primary promoter of Wahhabism. Ending Sunni terrorism will require a change in Saudi Arabia.

3. The US has engaged in an extensive effort to take down the government of Syria and break it into pieces.  Planning toward this end was underway already in 2002 and became US policy in 2006.  Amid Arab Spring demonstrations in March 2011, the plan was implemented covertly by inserting snipers into the crowds.  After Syrian authorities responded harshly to the murders of numerous police officers and soldiers, insurgents within Syria took up arms against the government.

Western media generally call it a civil war, but 20-30,000 foreign fighters from across North Africa, Europe, Central Asia and the Arab world have flocked to Syria to join the fight. For Syrians loyal to their government (and most Syrian are), it is an invasion, not a civil war.

While publicly supporting United Nations efforts to end the war in Syria, the US has pursued its plan to take Syria apart.  Reports in major US newspapers during the spring of 2012 described an extensive war-making effort coordinated by the U.S. and involving huge amounts of direct assistance to the insurgents from US allies in the region. That effort continues yet today.

4.  With regard to Daesh, it’s important to acknowledge that already in 2012—when Daesh did not yet exist—the US expected “a Salafist principality” to take control in eastern Syria.

An August 2012 Pentagon intelligence report identified “al-Qaida in Iraq and fellow Salafists” as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” Most importantly, it stated that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” supported the Salafist effort to take control of eastern Syria.

Buoyed by the US-led network of supporters, events proceeded as predicted by the Pentagon report.  In April 2013, radical jihadists from Iraq merged with al-Qaeda in Syria and took the name “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL).  In the latter half of 2013 and early months of 2014, Daesh seized control of eastern Syria and established Raqqah as capital of its global caliphate.

Despite the many expressions of alarm about Daesh over recent months, it continues to enjoy state support.  Funds continue to flow from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  Turkey’s border continues to be open to the truck convoys that resupply Daesh and export its oil. Weapons sourced to the US and Israel continue to make their way to Daesh.

What is wise policy in this crisis?

First, we must oppose the media-driven spiral of violence that makes Daesh so much more important than it is and enables it to attract an endless supply of money and recruits.

Second, we must demand that the US stop using Daesh to mask and implement its imperial agenda to dominate and control other nations.

Third, the US and its allies must stop all support flowing to Daesh.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit,” Paul wrote in the assembly in Colossae (2:8). As we apply Paul’s words, we can help reframe the national conversation about terrorism and the war in Syria, a vital step in moving events there toward peace.
*****
For up-to-date coverage of the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian fighter plane over Syria
go to Moon of Alabama (including comment section) or RT.  For analysis critical of the empire, read this Tony Cartalucci essay urging Russia to resist responding to Turkey's provocation. For analysis of what Turkey may have been trying to accomplish, see this James Carden essay. For a point of view critical of US President Obama's response to the provocation, see this Robert Parry essay.

Speaking Good News

by John K. Stoner (November 18, 2015)

(Part 2 of a conversation with myself about the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ)

1.  Then a Kingdom  
What is the central message of those who follow Jesus?  We can answer by using the words of Jesus:

"The time is fulfilled,
the kingdom of God is at hand,
repent,
and believe the good news."  Mark 1:15

2.  Now an "Empire"
In the culture of Jesus' time the word "kingdom" summarized how power was understood and organized in the world. "Kingdom" described how human capacities were perceived and mobilized to run the world a certain way. Today the word "empire" is a more accurate description of how human resources are mobilized to run the world. So as Jesus' followers should we not be announcing that "the empire of God is at hand," or, given the wildly conflicting meanings of the word "God," that "the empire of Jesus" is coming into the world?

3.  To Save the World
It seems that the fulfillment of our lives depends--somewhat mysteriously yet quite relentlessly--on discovering that we need to turn outwardly to get ourselves organized inwardly. We need a purpose and task beyond ourselves.  Could it be that our creative task is to heal the world? To say "yes" to the good news that we mere humans can join in God's great project of saving the whole world (cosmos) through Jesus (John 3:17)?

4.  By the Cross
This would be a different way of running the world, a way which has its source and character in the being and will of the Creator God, and in untapped and ignored human capacities.  Jesus devoted his life and teaching to revealing this new way of living in this world. At the center of his teaching were these words: "Seek first the empire of God and its justice" (Matt. 6:33). And the great act of his life was to live in such a way as to risk and ultimately accept the wrath of the empire by crucifixion, because he sought justice for the victims of the empire's quest for invincible power. The cross of Jesus disclosed forever the bankruptcy of homicidal imperial power and intentions.

5.  Creative Power
For Jesus, this "empire of God" is about this world, and a new way to use human capacities and power to organize and run it, not about some other time or world.  But it identifies and uses a different form of power for the project--not the destructive powers of hierarchy, domination and homicidal force, but the creative powers of empathy, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation. These are human abilities, gifts of the Creator God, as real and innate as the human certainty that 2 + 2 = 4.

6.  For Healing the World
We live in a damaged and challenging world.  The rich and powerful oppress the needy and weak. There are conflicts to be resolved and we're afraid of people we perceive to be enemies. How can we achieve a just sharing of Earth's resources? There is an ecosystem to be understood and loved if we are to survive. So what is our way, what are our resources, for meeting these challenges?  The empire of the world says "Destroy the opposition, by whatever means necessary."  Jesus says, "Seek the unity of community with everyone, for you are a part of everyone and everything.  You can live in this world in a new and nonviolent way. The way forward is by healing, not destroying."

7.  By Reconciling Enemies
Jesus voices this truth most dramatically with the words "love your enemies." This is the first command, or imperative, which Jesus speaks in the gospel of Luke (ch. 6). He says to us and to all, "Consider your response to the person or group that seems most other and alien to you, not a part of yourself, and make that response a nonviolent one of seeking the restoration of relationship."

8.  Through Nonviolent Love
This is not a way of escaping this world into another world, or avoiding the difficult task of making this world work, but another, creative way of living in this world and making this world work.  And so we invite people into the church community as a nurturing home for learning and practicing Jesus' nonviolent way of running the world.

9.  In a Living Community
The church is meant to be a representation, flawed but real, of the human vocation as defined by The Human One, Jesus. He invites us to repent, that is, to change our minds and adopt this creative new way of thinking about how to run the world (Mark 1:15). This is the "empire" of Jesus, a community of peace.  And it is good news!

Being Good News

by John K. Stoner (November 14, 2015)

(Part 1 of a conversation with myself about the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ)

To reach new people and interest them in Jesus' way, we need to start by being interested in how people do their lives--what gives meaning to their lives, what they are trying to do in and with their lives--not start with how we do church.

In fact, when we seek to clarify and state the emerging "vision" of our church, we probably should not start with questions about how we "do church" (music, worship, preaching).

Why? Because that starts with a definition of church as what we do for an hour on Sunday morning, and if you start there, no amount of saying afterward that church is not the building and four walls, it will remain centrally the building and four walls and one hour.

Not many people either inside or outside of church spend much time planning or organizing their lives around what happens at church on Sunday morning.  Other things are more important to people.  So we need to start with those other things.  This approach cannot be dismissed as "market driven"--that's a deceptive name for what is going on here.  There is such a thing as reductionist, market driven approaches to church growth; this is not that.

My assumption is that people are just trying to live their lives a little more successfully.

First, this means that they are not obsessing about whether or how they can go to heaven rather than to hell when they die.

Now, I hear your snicker: "My congregation is not about that, and has not been for a long time." Good for you! But I ask, "Has your congregation done a good job of defining what it is about, since it is not about that?"  Because that is the central image of church and the message and business of church in America. Period.  Do you agree?

So we are saying, are we not, that church is about how to live life (not how to get to heaven) fundamentally?

OK.

We are essentially agreeing with the person who said, "The way through this world is more difficult to find than the way to the next world."  And we agree with that person because we think that's really what Jesus was saying.

When Jesus called himself "the Way," he was saying most centrally that he is showing the way to live this life successfully--not the way to the next world, but the way through this one.

When Jesus called himself the "Truth," he was talking about the truth that accurately describes how to run this world successfully--what really works in raising children, in dealing with failures and reverses, how to respond to deprivations, injuries and hurts at the hands of others, and where to find some joy in the everyday experiences of life.

When Jesus called himself "the Life" he was talking about experiencing life every day, or at least some part of the day, as exciting adventure, joyful living, rather than as discouragement and death--death delayed, warmed over, or whatever.

So people are just trying to live their lives a little more successfully--or successfully at all.

Do we care if that is working for them?  Do we want to hear them talk about how that is going?  Are we (individually and as members of a local congregation) ready to join their walk through life in costly ways?

In all of this, I do assume that people need some help, not only in living life successfully as they define success, but they need some help in defining what real success in life looks life.  This, of course, is touchy, delicate, and sacred.  Can we learn to have meaningful conversations about the good life with people?

The community Jesus had in mind is designed not only to help you meet your goals--it also has something useful, and important, to say about what your goals should be and what real success would look like.  But to repeat, this is mainly about how to get through this world, not about how to get to the next one.

What is the Islamic State?

by Berry Friesen (November 14, 2015)

Today I join the people of France in grief and horror over the murder of scores of their friends, neighbors and family members in the streets of Paris last evening.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for this atrocity. I take them at their word.

It is too soon to explain this event, but already Western leaders are describing how they intend to retaliate.  As we listen to their words, here is critical background to keep in mind.

1. A New York Times article from June, 2012 reported that CIA officers were operating in Turkey, helping to funnel arms purchased by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar across the Turkish border to Syrian opposition fighters.  Some of those arms originated in Libya from the pillaged warehouses of the Gaddafi government.

Already in the summer of 2012, Pentagon officials expected the emergence of something like the Islamic State in Syria.  A key intelligence report said “this is exactly what the supporting powers (Gulf Cooperation Council members and NATO members) want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

The actual development of the Islamic State in Syria during 2013 and early 2014 was a project of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and Saudi ambassador to the United States from  1983 – 2005.  The Prince was a close friend of both presidents Bush, so close that he acquired the nickname Bandar Bush. In June, 2014. The Atlantic reported that “ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support.”

The Saudi role in launching the Islamic State is consistent with its historic role as the funder of Sunni terrorism.  A US State Department cable from 2009 said that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

2.  The US-led empire has regarded the Islamic State to be a strategic asset in the Middle East. President Obama, who in January 2014 dismissed the Islamic State as a serious threat, has repeatedly spoken of “containing” rather than eliminating the Islamic State.

This ambiguous assessment is reflected in the comments of other key opinion leaders. Speaking on CNN in January, 2014 about Salafist fighters in Syria, US Senator John, McCain said, “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar.” Former CIA Director David Petraeus said in March 2015 that “the Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem” in the Mideast, Iran is.  At the same time, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman made the same point, asking if it wasn’t time for the US to directly arm the Islamic State in order to off-set the emerging influence of Iran.

Meanwhile Iranian news sources have repeatedly reported that NATO members are using air-drops to re-supply Islamic State fighters in Iraq and providing them with intelligence information about Iraqi military movements.

3.  In August, 2014, the US-led coalition began fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.  The attacks have been ineffective; the Islamic State continued to expand its territory in both countries despite the occasional bombing attacks by Western nations.

Russia’s attacks since September 30, 2015 have been much more vigorous and have dramatically reduced the capacity and territory of the Islamic State in Syria.  Recently, forces fighting the Syrian government under the flag of the Free Syrian Army have begun cooperating with Russia, including the provision of intelligence information about where to target bombing strikes against the Islamic State.  If current trends continue, the Islamic State will be defeated in Syria within the next 3-4 months.

The Iraqi government has noticed the effectiveness of the Russian effort, and has begun working closely with the Russians in combating the Islamic State in Iraq.

In summary, Russian success against the Islamic State has confronted the US-led empire with the prospect of losing a key strategic asset in the Middle East, an asset that enables the empire to break targeted nations into pieces, remove leaders it doesn't like, threaten Iran and prepare battle-hardened mercenaries for deployment to other places in the world.

4.  The French and other members of the US-led empire are likely to respond to the terror attacks in Paris by becoming more actively involved in the war against the Islamic State.

Given the record to date, will that involvement serve to decisively defeat the Islamic State, or will it serve to preserve the Islamic State and frustrate the efforts of Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran?

The Last to Notice?

by Berry Friesen (November 10, 2015)

As I’ve tried to explain in the previous two posts, Jesus changed how the world works.

By his compassion, forgiveness and self-giving love, he offered the world an account of what makes life meaningful and how we can live with one another in peace.  Jesus deliberately enacted this new way in the relationships he formed, in the spectacles he created, in the rituals he initiated and in the very public way he died.

This new way of being human has proved to be powerfully attractive and its transformative energy is only increasing with time.  We find echoes of this attraction and energy in popular culture; in the way everyday people describe a good life and their dissatisfaction with counterfeits; in the inability of systemic values such as law, nation, religion and empire to maintain legitimacy and retain our loyalty; in the ever-shorter shelf-life of the empire’s propaganda.

As stated by Tony Bartlett, author of Virtually Christian and the writer whose insights have guided this three-part reflection, Jesus “wrested human meaning from its violent foundations and reprogrammed it as compassion, forgiveness, life and peace.”

Jesus’ impact is not only personal to those individuals who believe in him, says Bartlett, but over time has become cultural and public, impacting all of humanity:  “The message of Jesus [has] by now become part of our human fabric.”  It has changed what it means to be human.

Why don’t we see this?  The question is meant for those of us who self-identity as Christians, who claim to be following his way.  We so often look right past how Jesus has changed the world, focusing instead on what he accomplished for religious individuals in a future time and place.

Bartlett’s answer to this question takes us to John the Baptist, Jesus’s mentor and the man Jesus called the greatest of all the prophets.  John doubted Jesus was the one he had been waiting for because the Romans still maintained their power, as did the priests and scribes in the religious realm. John expected the coming of the empire of YHWH to be ushered in with the violence of superior force, much as Elijah had done it in ancient times.

When we say that Jesus changes human hearts, but that the world hasn’t changed, we—like John the Baptist—pay allegiance to violence as ruler of the world and the measure of all things.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ way of being human increasingly defines humanity’s aspirations. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Christians were among the last to notice?

Violence at the Center?

by Berry Friesen (November 5, 2015)

At the center of the story of Jesus is his tortured and violent death.  Jesus was beaten and then killed in an excruciatingly painful way.  Whenever we Christians participate in the Eucharist, we remember that atrocity.

There is something deeply offensive about this, the way people gather and imagine an act of violence. What exactly are we celebrating?  I know people who have abandoned the church because they are offended by this.

Such persons make an important point.  What kind of faith places an act of violence at the center of its story?  If we can’t answer this question, then the entire project should be abandoned.

Through the centuries, a large part of the church has explained that its god required that somebody pay the ultimate price for our sins.  According to this point-of-view, an iron law of retribution is part of this god’s very nature.  This law requires either our punishment or the sacrifice of someone or something so precious that this god’s righteous anger is satisfied and the slate wiped clean.

Revulsion to this account has come from all quarters, but has been led by liberal Christians, who imagine nonviolence and goodness to be available to any of us who have the common sense to want it.  In such a view, Jesus is the paramount example of that common sense and yet another victim of the idiocy of violence.

Into this conversation comes Tony Bartlett, author of Virtually Christian.  He is the writer I mentioned in my previous post, the theologian who insists Jesus changed the way the world works. Or to put it more precisely, the way human society works.

Bartlett is no liberal; he sees humanity as much more than an aggregation of individuals weighing the alternatives and then deciding for this or that.  Certainly he takes seriously our capacity for self-conscious decision-making.  Yet he insists this capacity operates within strong structures of desire we have inherited from the past.  We share those structures of desire with one another and endlessly replicate and reinforce their dynamics.

Though Bartlett says this mechanism operates neurologically, its results are most visibly manifest in culture. Within the forms of society, we share—almost as a single organism—an understanding of how to make life meaningful.

What does this have to do with violence?

The obvious part of the answer has to do with our rivalries with each other.  I desire what you desire and visa-versa; this is hard-wired into our brains and operates all of the time. It plays out between individuals and collectively among groups and nations. Violence often results; it is as common as grass.

But it isn’t just that we desire the same things; we also desire the same social goods, such as peace and tranquility.  Following the seminal work of anthropologist Rene Girard, Bartlett explains that the death of a scapegoat is what first brought peace and tranquility to disorganized humans and ended their violence, at least for a little while.  It is what launched human culture and made language possible.  It was the first meaning-making event, enabling people to stop fighting and cooperate in the complex ways we do.

Thus, an act of violence—the scapegoating of a victim—is the source of human culture. Capturing and monopolizing the power of this culture-creating, life-giving, meaning-making act of violence is what the nations seek and every empire accomplishes. Accounts of their efforts fill our history books.

When Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem,” when he attracted the crowds with his street theater and provoked the authorities with his disruption of temple operations, he was not bumbling his way toward disaster.  No, he was very intentionally preparing to subvert the place violence occupies at the center of humanity’s story and put there instead an act of compassion and absolute self-giving.

Do you wish Jesus could have accomplished this without being killed on a cross?  I do too.  But wishing away the violence at the heart of the human project has never given rise to a new way of running the world, a new way of restoring peace, a new way of making life meaningful. Something different had to be put there at the center of things, something powerful and attractive. Something we would desire even more than the temporary peace that violence brings.

Though Jesus died violently, his self-sacrifice on the cross replaced violence “with the absolute affirmation of love.”

Bartlett goes on to explain (pages 111-116):  “The cross then becomes a symbol in a completely new sense . . . This infinite self-surrender, this self-pouring-out, spells the end of the symbolic cover-up of violence, since it leaves no hidden depths, no sacredness of violence . . . the photon of compassion discloses itself as the astonishingly new yet original event of meaning, the endless ‘Yes’ at the heart of creation.

“This is a revolution of incalculable significance in every sense; really, it is the only true cultural revolution.  It has taken the original ‘fiction’ of human meaning and made it something wonderfully new, able to bring creation to its intended destiny of peace, life, love.”

That is what Jesus did on the cross.  It is how he changed how the world works.  And that change continues to unwind and expand still today, reaching people and places that do not speak his name or have any inkling that they seek a life whose meaning first flashed across our collective imagination via an image of a man hanging on a cross.