Long after those who do evil have been silenced, removed, overthrown, defeated, their deeds continue to affect all kinds of people.
There may be no better current example of this than Mosul, Iraq, once a stronghold of the ISIS terrorists. As this Atlantic piece reports:
"Today, a year after Mosul’s liberation from ISIS, the city’s original, prewar population has shrunk by three-quarters. That’s in part because much of the city — especially the western part, where the worst of the fighting took place — remains unlivable. Mountains of glass, rubbish, metal wires, and broken rock spill out of hollowed buildings. A noose dangles inside the back corridor of a blackened, burnt church. Books, clothes, cassette tapes, and dishes lie crushed on the street. The destruction is at its worst in the Old City, where the air is sweet and thick with the stench of dead bodies."
It's important to remember that all of this -- and more -- happened because some people misused an ancient and honorable religion for vile political purposes. They claimed to understand that God wanted them to do these things. They were absolutely certain that they were right and that all others were wrong.
Religion that does not allow for doubt, for alternative answers, for conversation is not so much religion as it is an idolatrous ideology of certitude.
And, of course, it's not just the people of Mosul or of Iraq or of the Middle East who have been battered by the theological thugs of ISIS. Here's what the Atlantic piece says about that:
"So far, the international community has contributed some $30 billion to rebuild areas damaged in the fight against ISIS. But reconstruction has been hampered by corruption, disorganization, and dysfunctional governance. Even if Mosul is rebuilt, however, lingering distrust and ongoing sectarian and ethnic violence may doom Iraq’s post-ISIS future."
I don't know how much of that $30 billion came from the pockets of American taxpayers, but whatever it has been, it's money that could have gone to schools, infrastructure, the social safety net and other good causes had not ISIS created this havoc (after the Bush/Cheney administration unwisely invaded Iraq in 2003).
Every war is a sad story, even when, as in World War II, nearly everyone agrees it's a just war. But wars fought for the kind of religious reasons ISIS brought to the table are simply evil.
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TAKING HER TATTOOS WITH HER, TOO
Those of you who know about and admire (as I do) the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, founder of a Denver church, will want to know that she has preached her last sermon there and is leaving to become what she calls a "public theologian." She wants to increase her contact with people who don't show up at church: “There’s a hunger for the basic message of the gospel,” she said. “Most people aren’t going to show up to church on Sunday morning … but it doesn’t mean that the message of the gospel can’t still be freeing to them.” I wish her well.