But first: I just wanted you to know that the Web site for the Holocaust book I've been writing with a local rabbi, though still under some construction, is now up and running. The book, to be published next year by the University of Missouri Press, will be called They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. You can read more about it by clicking on the "Holocaust book project" link under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- You may be aware from paying attention in history class that the charter for the creation of the United Nations was signed at the War Memorial building here in San Francisco in 1945. To read the charter, click here.
I was in that building (pictured here) the other day and noticed the artwork seen here on a wall in the lobby. I paid special attention to the words on it, ". . .to save succeeding generations from the scourage of war. . ." In fact, when I saw those words I turned to my wife and my sisters and said, "Well, that worked out pretty well, huh?"
And, again, we have to wonder why.
Every religion and every non-religious system of ethics promotes peace and views war as a last resort measure of self-defense. And yet my own lifetime is not atypical of any lifetime in the last 5,000 years in that I was born in World War II and have lived through the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq -- and those were just the wars in which the United States somehow was or is involved (notice I haven't even mentioned such fighting as occurred in Bosnia and the role of NATO). A bazillion other wars have been fought without American involvement, too.
I'm curious about why you think this has happened. Is it because the leaders of the major religions don't take peacemaking seriously? Is it because our greed overwhelms our desire for peace? Do the economics of war require fighting? Why do you think we seem unable to give peace a chance?
And what, if anything, is your faith community doing to advance the cause of peace in the face of this disastrous history?
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GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE -- TO ISLAM
A Vatican official correctly identifies the cause of a renewed discussion about God in Europe -- Muslims. Until the Muslim minority in Europe grew to a significant size, Christianity there had become essentially moribund and had ceded nearly all ground to secularism.
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P.S.: And along the same lines, I noted in my posting of Tuesday, Nov. 25, that Pope Benedict XVI recently said some interesting and controversial things about interfaith dialogue. John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter has done this column to shed some light on all that.
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ANOTHER P.S.: The terrorism in Mumbai, India, has revealed what many didn't know existed -- an affinity between Indians and Jews, this report says. Jews have been in India for a long time. For some background on that, click here.
Also: In issuing a strong statement of condemnation on Saturday for the terrorist actions in Mumbai, the Heartland Muslim Council aligned itself with these statements from other Muslims groups: