- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008

Free love

“The God of the Christmas story (and the rest of the Gospels) doesn’t relate to us on the basis of any theory, but on the basis of unconditional love and welcome. That act of free love towards the entire human race changed things - even for those who didn’t and don’t share all the beliefs and doctrines of Christianity. And for those who do share those convictions, loving God and one another is a defiance of all programs and principles designed to preserve only the well-being of people like us.

“All of us, Christians most definitely included, have problems living up to this. But that’s one reason why we tell this story repeatedly, the story of the ‘unprincipled’ God who values what others don’t notice, who relates to people we’d all rather forget, whose appeal is to everyone because He has made everyone capable of loving response. At least once a year we all - Christians or non-Christians - need to hear again that permission to be free from principles so that we can ask the question about specific human lives and destinies, about the unacceptable cost of programs and systems when they are only about me and people like me.

“And when that question is asked, says [Swiss theologian] Karl Barth in his sermon, what begins to come through is ‘the eternal light that requires neither fuel nor candlestick.’”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, writing in “Put aside your principles and remember: All you need is love,” in the London Daily Telegraph Dec. 21

Major leagues

“The day after the [Mumbai] attack, I looked at the media coverage and was hard-pressed to find any mention of the gunmen’s obvious connection to Islam. They used words like ‘elements with links to Pakistan,’ ‘militants,’ ‘gunmen,’ ‘extremists,’ ‘common enemy’ and ‘external forces.’…

“When the Mumbai attack flashed on the news, we all knew immediately that it was the work of Islamic terrorists. This group of people has literally cornered the market on terrorism. I looked at a timeline of major terrorist attacks, and had to go back to the 1995 truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City to find one that was not carried out by a Muslim. …

“I think any reasonable person can guess what would happen if a Christian group committed a major terrorist act. The media would go into a feeding frenzy. … The media is incompetent because ‘the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not’ (2 Cor. 4:4). My years of experience with the various reporters who have interviewed us have taught me that there are some Christians in the news, but almost none ever rises into the major leagues. Some unseen hand always weeds them out.”

Todd Strandberg, writing on “Making Sense of Insanity” on www.raptureready.com on Dec. 8.

Merry Christmas

“This Christmas comes at a pivotal time. Perhaps not as perilous as the Christmas that followed Pearl Harbor or the Christmas of 1933 at the nadir of the Depression, but it is hard to shake the feeling that when the parties are over and the decorations packed away, we will be looking out over a reshaped American landscape. We hope we can look back on this as the last Christmas of the recession.

“Thus, we need a strong dose of Christmas, with its ecumenical spirit of rebirth and hope and the embrace of the possibility that one day there will truly be, as the angel said, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Dale McFeatters, writing in “Christmas in difficult times,” on Coloradodaily.com Dec. 21

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