Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Do This, Don't Do That, Can't You Read the Sign

Underneath Lake Shore Drive on Wilson Avenue.

Some signs don't seem to signify. Our neighbors wish the homeless in the parks would go away. Yet they also wish the homeless shelters in our Uptown area, including ours, would go away. Trouble is, they themselves are homeless. They may not know it, and according to Soren Kierkegaard, those who do not know they are in despair are the most lost in despair of all.

That's the problem with cleaning the outside of the cup. It only lends the illusion of cleanliness. Meanwhile, those who cannot hide their despair are targeted by those who can. Thus, tragedy is piled upon tragedy.

A few additional notes of an unrelated nature:

Christians for Biblical Equality's Equality Depot has some incredible books on sale for only $5. If you care about gender mutuality, or if you're curious, here's a great place to start.

Cornerstone Press also has some great sales going on. Please take a look, we can use the support and you might really find some gems.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

New Sacred Tribes Journal on Paganism

You can skip all the below, and simply go to the new issue of Sacred Tribes Journal on Paganism & Christianity. Or you can keep reading here to find out what and why that online journal is mentioned here by me.

My journey in faith has included various threads. Along with the political / social implications of the gospel, there is also that element or elements known variously as "soul-winning," "evangelism," and "apologetics." The latter in its classical form usually consists of constructing elaborate arguments against whatever belief system the person one is speaking with holds, then showing them how the Christian belief system is superior. I confess that to this day there are times such an approach still seems to work. But more often than not, this approach comes off as paternalistic, arrogant, and even demeaning to the person so being addressed.

There is no arena where this old school approach shows up more plainly than when evangelicals address what they call "the cults." Groups as diverse as Mormons, Scientologists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Falun Gong, the Unification Church ("Moonies"), Catholics, Oneness Pentecostals, and so on and so on, are often grouped together under the cult label.

A few years ago, some friends of mine and I decided to try an alternative approach to such groups (often called "NRMs" or "New Religious Movements"), one emphasizing a missional dialogue rather than confrontational monologue. We created Sacred Tribes Journal. The first issue emphasized our purpose and goals long-term. Our second issue on Paganism & Christianity took us two years to finish, and was just posted yesterday.

I think the tie-in between my political views personally and my understanding of how to do evangelism, especially when speaking to those in New Religious Movements, is fairly simple. Christ says I'm to love my neighbor. He also says that I am to spread the good news about his coming kingdom. That kingdom is within, and requires an individual to surrender to Christ completely, so convincing someone that such a surrender is not only necessary but desirable is no simple task.

My own experience in encountering Christians before I myself had become one tells me that the old school apologetics approach has limited usefulness. Though I did have legitimate intellectual barriers erected, and did benefit from apologists such as C. S. Lewis, Os Guiness, and Francis Schaeffer, I ultimately had questions that were far more existential -- that is, rooted in my felt needs -- than intellectual. They required Christians who understood that effective evangelism is first and foremost an exercise in being and only secondarily an exercise in doing. That is, I was hungry for love, acceptance, and a sense of meaning that did not violate my intellect or my sense of personhood.

The Christian Right, to me, is the political corrollary to the evangelical and secular "Countercult" community. Both of these groups tend toward being led by white males; both seem fairly unaware of a Christian tradition outside American protestantism, and both seem willing to make cartoon stick persons out of those they disagree with. While I also could be charged with doing the same to them -- Lord willing, I will remember that such a critique does cut both directions -- I have seen little to encourage me that either of these groups "gets it."

One well-known counter-cult figure, for instance, described his shock that anyone could find the now-deceased Catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen's writings to be Christian. Nouwen, for those unaquainted with him, is perhaps one of the twentieth century's great devotional writers, with a depth absent in ninety-nine percent of evangelical "devotional" literature. A number of counter-cult ministries believe the Catholic Church is nothing more than a giant cult, an idea laughable when studying Christian history. (In my opinion, it's a bit like calling one's parent a non-relation.)

It is true that at least one of the NRMs (the Unification Church) does indeed have ties to the Christian Right. But it would be an interesting exercise overall to find out just how in sympathy with one another the leaders of the Christian Right and Countercult movements are. Again, their shared cultural mileu is something worth noting and analyzing carefully.

Anyway, enjoy the Sacred Tribes Journal... some of the articles are long enough that you may be reading it almost for as long as we worked on it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lynching, Part II: The Similarity is in the Faces of the Victimizers

At a reader's suggestion (well, he can't really be blamed) I am posting a couple of the Abu Ghraib prison photos and then a couple lynching photos. Note the faces of those doing the abusing / lynching.

The victim becomes an object of derision, even after being hung.

Hunters smile with their "trophies."

Hands outstretched like another Victim we Christians know well, this modern-day plaything says more about our culture's violence than his culture's violence.

Satisfaction at a job well done.

Boycott Time: Microsoft, Yahoo Cave in to Chinese Censors, Block Bloggers

It's time to boycott Microsoft's MSN, and maybe Microsoft overall, until they reverse policy on their Chinese MSN services.

Microsoft's MSN services in China, says Reporters without Borders (also see the BBC), censor certain expressions when used by bloggers. Radical words such as
"freedom", "democracy" and "demonstration" get blocked, and the user is warned, "This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression." The term "human rights" also provokes the blocking software and warning.

Yahoo has also agreed to these restrictions.

Reporters without Borders comments,

The lack of ethics on the part of these companies is extremely worrying. Their management frequently justifies collaboration with Chinese censorship by saying that all they are doing is obeying local legislation.

"Does that mean that if the authorities asked Microsoft to provide information about Chinese cyberdissidents using its services that it would agree to do so, on the basis that it is "legal" ?

I think it is time for all weblog users, along with citizens of the webworld overall, to boycott MSN until Microsoft reverses this policy.

In addition, notifying Microsoft that they are being boycotted can be done in these ways:

1-800-MICROSOFT (1-800-642-7676)
Mr. Bill Gates, recipient
1-425-93-MSFAX (1-425-936-7329)

Yahoo also deserves such treatment. Their web page is unhelpful regarding contact info. Google is also rumored to be considering caving in to the Chinese authorities, as they would not respond to Reporters without Borders requests for information on Google's policies since having opened Chinese offices.

Keep Reading if You're Feelin' Geeky

Notes: On a perhaps geeky, somewhat abstract tangent, I cannot help but see parallels between the closed nature of Mr. G
ates' operating system and the closed nature of China's government. Perhaps some of my friends will now begin to understand why (private hobby horse alert!) I so appreciate Linux, the open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows.

In a spirited Steve Ballmer interview (Ballmer being the co-founder of Microsoft), from Microsoft's own site, Ballmer responds to a question about use of Microsoft technology by governments to control its populace:

"Where the laws are clear and where, for example, we hold e-mail on behalf of about 160 million people in the world and that's something that's private to those people, but to the degree that there's valid government inquiry and valid government court orders to see some of that mail, because it may come from the bad guys, so to speak, okay, we would produce it, of course."

Though this doesn't touch on the blogger issue, it does reveal the problem. Obviously the term that is squishy in the above answer is the term "valid." Who, or what, determines the validity of a government's inquiry? I suggest when it comes to China, "valid" is equivalent to bottom line. That is, "valid" can quickly come to equal "profit margin."

It is perhaps no surprise that in the same interview, the very next question asked has to do with Microsoft and other software giants suing researchers who pubish unfavorable data regarding their software's performance.

Monday, June 13, 2005

As has often been noted, it is the faces of the crowd in these lynching photos -- photos often used as post cards and collected by many -- that says the most about the capacity for self-deception. (See below article)

Lynching Apology: Better a Century Late than Never?

Today, the United States Senate apologized formally for decades where it blocked any progress in battling the widespread use of lynchings -- racially motivated hangings -- in the southern states and elsewhere in the U.S.

Peculiar to the United States

What is it exactly the Senators are apologizing for? According to Tuskegee University records, 4,743 people were murdered in mob-related acts between 1882 and 1968. The largest segment, 3,446 victims, was made up of blacks. (The fact that any lynchings had to do with whites can be seen best when studying the history of vigilante movements in the western U. S.; my own home state of Montana had one of the more celebrated vigilante groups during that era.) Lynchings peaked in 1892 at 230, but contrary to what one might expect historically, they were commonplace into the 1930s. In 1935 alone, 20 lynchings were reported. And it should be said that during the post-civil war reconstruction era, the racial identity of those hung was increasingly black.

Along with the Tuskegee Institute, the Chicago Tribune and the NAACP kept records, but these records were often incomplete and about something that wasn't easy to track; victims weren't around to tell the tale and perpetrators often didn't even know why their victim was being sacrificed. "Rape of a white woman" was the usual charge, if in fact a pretext was needed.

During this same time, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills came before Congress. Seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 attempted to push anti-lynching legislation. Only three of those bills made it through the House, and none through the Senate. The reason? Southern-led filibusters.

Some years ago, I read a little book called 100 Years of Lynchings. Basically the book is little more than news clippings of specific lychings over a period covering the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. It, like all the other reading I've done in black history, left me trembling with horror. Not horror at evil -- too easy a role for a white man to play when discussing race in America -- but horror at whiteness. The book is the stuff of nightmares.

The story that springs to mind from that little book is one where the victim's few words echo every victim of racial violence throughout history: "C'mon, don't give me a crooked deal just because I'm black." But of course, that is what he got. Then there was the black janitor, flung to his death over a bridge rail by well-brought up white college kids. He had, it was alleged, molested a white woman.

No, the deeper a white man such as myself goes into black history, the more a revulsion comes boiling up from the insides, a horror of this thing called "whiteness" that is so profound as to be self-threatening. I am threatened because my idea of myself, of those like me, is threatened. And I want so badly to be able to forget what I read, what I heard, what I now know.

It can be done, of course. Forgetting one's capacity for evil is done every day. The addict who has been clean for a month forgets they ever had a drinking or drug or lust problem. The sinner who has been saved forgets that he was so desperately lost in his personal hell. Our self-fabricated holiness, our righteousness made of filthy rags, comes undone in the faces of the Other's anguish.

There are no short cuts, no easy fixes, to this racial hell. In fact, in many ways, there are no fixes at all. One can't go back and repair things that have been burned to the ground. Even the foundations are gone. One has to start over, and only God knows where that begins.

So what of today's Senate apology? It is almost entirely a symbolic gesture, muted and hollow due to no reparative action being connected with it. But at least it is an admission of guilt. And that, these days in Washington, is a pretty rare thing.

Odds and Ends on Lynching

The above ramble is about all I have in my emotional tank re this subject; at least for today. It is truly the stuff of my personal nightmare world, though... here are some odds and ends someone may find interesting.

Billie Holliday, that tragic blues singer, offered the most potent popular blow against lynchings ever with her signature tune, "Strange Fruit":

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

(The song is available online in part, featured in the excellent PBS documentary "Strange Fruit.")

W. E. B. Dubois, writer (The Souls of Black Folk, 1903), social conscience, and eventual American outcast, was radicalized in an instant by his encounter with a lynching. Unfortunately, I'm unable to find a version of the story online, and mistrust my own memory. My unreliable shorthand version is as follows: He was a professor at a small school in the south, and walked by a store. In the window was the corpse of a black man who'd been lynched. And suddenly Dubois realized that race had nothing to do with blackness, but rather with whiteness. It was a white problem. That was about as radical an idea as he could have possibly come up with back then!

'Nuff for now.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Tag: Guess I'm It!

Well, I've been book-tagged by Dave King to offer a few... so here goes. Applicability to bluechristian is not guaranteed!

Here's a book I suggest reading like a member of the bomb squad approaching a ticking suitcase. The Beauty of Modesty, by David and Diane Vaughan, offers one more reason to scratch your head and go "Where DO these people live?!" Stuff about how wearing blue jeans to church is inappropriate. Hmm. I recall reading something about that somewhere in my Bible... no, guess not. Mainly the book riffs on women; showing too much, looking too good, exciting male libidos. How predictable. How irritating. How sexist. Reminds me of some of the medieval church fathers' projection of their own lust onto women... sigh. I could do a riff on male immodesty, but the riff would turn into a four-part symphony. I'll give you a taste: What men do with their eyes is more immodest than what ninety-eight percent of women do with their bodies. And Lord, if women knew what we did with our minds!

How about an old, good, and unsettling book? George Orwell (author of Animal Farm and 1984), wrote essays as well. His Shooting an Elephant is a stunner; ponderings on Tolstoy's ravaging of Shakespeare stand side by side with grim first-hand accounts of seeing a man killed ("The Hanging") and Orwell's understandable horror of hospitals ("How the Poor Die"). The essay of the title's name is alone worth the book's price. Orwell tells a story layered with moral ambiguity. He is a member of the British occupation in Burma; an elephant has gotten free of its owners and refuses to be captured. Orwell's job demands he deal with the mess. He is faced with whether or not to shoot the elephant, and relentless dissects his own moral universe in explaining why and what happened next. The story is laced with the tension between European snobbery and Indian anger, but goes even beyond that to the simple issue of the elephant as an innocent victim of Orwell's own cowardice... And what does he fear?

"A white man mustn't be frightened in front of 'natives'; and so, in general, he isn't frightened. The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse. And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do.... I shoved the cartridges into the magazine..."

Well, something a bit more uplifting?

C. S. Lewis is so interwoven with evangelical thought, and so omnipresent in Christian bookstores, one can easily fall victim to the old saw: "Familiarity breeds contempt." The fact that Disney is preparing to launch a movie ("The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") based on his Narnia children's series doesn't necessarily help. What might, though, are two very different writers with unique takes on Lewis' spirituality. Both, I believe, may help new generations of believers rediscover Lewis, not merely for abstract apologetics but instead for his deeply felt and experienced spiritual life.

Lyle Dorsett's Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis continues in the rich, thoroughly evangelical vein of Lewisian interpretation in which Dorsett excels. (His A Love Observed is still, to me, the most moving of all writings on the brief love and marriage--before her death--of Lewis to Joy Davidman.) Here, Dorsett reveals Lewis as pastor, confidant, and self-confessed sinner, while also painting his very evangelical zeal in matters of aiding others in discovering his Jesus.

Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C. S. Lewis, by David Downing, brings the double delight of reading an excellent, deep writer about a seldom-explored side of Lewis. His links to mystics across the spectrum are explored, as is his admiration, mixed with discernment. I was very impressed with the chapter on Lewis' "Space Trilogy," where Downing among other things shows how Lewis borrowed from Dante's wonderful descriptions of heaven. If you buy just one book this year on Lewis, make it this one. I think emergent folk will love the mystical emphasis, and those who view Lewis solely as an apologist need this emphasis!

Alright, the way this book tag thing works, I have to "tag" five more victims. So here goes:

Chris Rice (one of my best friends, he heads up Cornerstone Press)
Curt Mortimer (poetry-lover and author of "Dinosaur Journal")
Glenn Kaiser (best male friend; musician, pastor, and fellow Linux-lover)
Carol Trott (my best thing, to quote Toni Morrison. She's gonna kill me for tagging her; she doesn't write much)
Mike Hertenstein (he flies below the radar except for "Flickerings" at Cornerstone Festival; I'm gonna try to draw him out, or at least irritate him, which is the next best thing!)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Colson "Ministry Representative" Responds

Below is a response from an unnamed person ("Ministry Service Representative") at Prison Fellowship, Chuck Colson's ministry, in response to my blog of June 1 regarding Mr. Colson's comments about Mark Felt (a.k.a. "Deep Throat"). These comments are not satisfying in any way to me, as they merely rehash what Mr. Colson said in previous statements. To read my June 1 response is to read what I would consider a refutation of the below. The unnamed writer repeats, for instance, the assertion that Mr. Felt should have gone "to the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, or even to President Nixon himself to inform them that he believed criminal acts were being committed." There is no attempt at explaining just how anyone as immersed in Watergate as any of these three individuals would have possibly dealt with Felt, other than doing to him what President Nixon did to others (the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" being one of the more glaring examples). There is also the issue of just what "honor" or being "noble" really mean from a Christian point of view; but that discussion will have to wait (on this blog, at least!).

Discussion Thread
Response (Ministry Service Representative) - 06/03/2005 02:35 PM

Jon Trott,

Thank you for contacting Prison Fellowship with your comments regarding Chuck Colson’s response to Mark Felt and “Deep Throat.” In response to your concerns, we would like to offer the comments below.

Since his conversion to Christ in 1973, Chuck Colson has publicly acknowledged guilt for his actions during Watergate. As a key player in Watergate, Mr. Colson has been in great demand for media interviews since the revelation of “Deep Throat.” As a further explanation to statements he has made throughout these media interviews, Mr. Colson feels strongly that Mr. Felt’s desire to uncover the misdeeds of the Nixon Administration during Watergate was noble. However, leaking information to the press as a means to accomplish this uncovering is not justified, especially for a high government official such as Mr. Felt. A more noble choice would have been for Mr. Felt to go to the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, or even to President Nixon himself to inform them that he believed criminal acts were being committed.

Mr. Colson considers Mr. Felt’s actions to be yet another tragic outcome of the Watergate scandal – a scandal in which Mr. Colson himself participated. Mr. Colson is grateful for God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Christ, which God extends to all who repent and turn to Him.

Again, we thank you for contacting us regarding this issue, and may God bless you!

In Christ,
Ministry Service Representative
Prison Fellowship

Friday, June 03, 2005

Israel's Holy War, Continued

Not much new about this, unless the fact that the international press noticed it this time is new. Israel's military apparently is killing Palestinian policeman in acts of revenge. Israeli soldiers have come forward to admit these killings, and the resultant furor has only led to the army more or less admitting such killings are normal fare.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

To Chuck Colson Regarding "Deep Throat"

[Even after posting this, I have re-edited it a number of times, most lately the evening of June 3rd. Why? I just can't stop thinking about it, I suppose.]

How disappointing, Mr. Colson. I'm talking about your comments that Mark Felt, the man newly-revealed as the Watergate scandal's "Deep Throat," betrayed his duty by doing what he did. "I'm shocked," you proclaimed. Well, be aware that many Christians and non-christians are shocked at your response. This was your chance to respond one last, potentially defining, time to the tragedy of Watergate. Instead we got the loyal Colson of old. "Skulking around in dark alleys," is what you labeled Felt's behavior when talking to the media about his disclosure.

Your prepared statement makes clear why you believe Mark Felt was wrong:
I am disappointed in Mark for choosing the media as the way to expose the corruption. If he felt that the wrongs of the Nixon administration had to be remedied, he should have walked into the F.B.I. Director’s office and told him so, and if necessary walked in to the president.
That is just amazingly naive.

How realistic is the idea that Felt could have just gone to then-F. B. I. Director Patrick Gray, his superior, to bring an end to the criminal activities of the Nixon administration? Gray was in fact someone Felt apparently trusted until it came out that Gray had thrown key documents linked to the Watergate breakins into the Potomac River. And you want us to believe that this man would have listened to reason?

And what of going to the President? The crazy attempts by Nixon and his staff -- including you, Mr. Colson -- to control the metanarrative never stopped. For instance, there is the fact that you, under Mr. Nixon's direction, tried to use Felt to pass on misinformation regarding the attempted assassination of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, blaming the shooting on a liberal plot. Your own words, along with the President's, from the Nixon tapes:

Nixon can be heard on one tape whispering the rumors in the background as his adviser Chuck Colson, on the phone with the FBI's Mark Felt, passes on that [attempted assassin Arthur] Bremer and his associates might be "Kennedy friends."

"I'll be sure and pass that along," Felt says.

Obviously, a man exposed to that sort of political misdealing -- I'm talking about Felt, not you here, Mr. Colson -- might well think the only thing to be done is to expose the whole obviously paranoid, power-mad mess through the media. Felt obviously believed that the only way to battle Nixon was to get the information to the fourth estate, a conclusion most observers would call correct.

Was Felt himself being paranoid? Again, you be the judge. Consider this bit from a book review of Abuse of Power: the New Nixon Tapes:

As the paranoia thickens and intrigues abound, a lyrical madness seems to seize the Nixon inner circle, feeding first on imagined and then, after the defection of John Dean, Howard Hunt and others, real betrayal. Enemies are everywhere. The entire personnel of the CIA and the FBI are suspect. At one point, Nixon threatens, "I'll fire the whole Goddamn Bureau." He is particularly after one Mark Felt, who is in a top position at the FBI and is thought to be Nixon's nemesis and the source of unflattering leaks. "Is he a Catholic?" Nixon asks Haldeman, who replies that Felt is Jewish. "Christ, put a Jew in there?" Nixon exclaims, and Haldeman adds, "Well, that could explain it, too." [Italics added by bluechristian]

Jews, Arabs, "Any ol' scapegoat'll do."

Mr. Colson, your book Born Again is still one my favorite biographies. I just wish I felt like you still were the broken, humbled man I so loved there. One very big reason I felt that way was because it seemed you'd grasped your own seduction by the distorted madness power creates, and had repented of it. You seemed, indeed, a cleansed new-born man.

Unfortunately, the Charles Colson of today often seems more like that old Colson than the sparkling self-denying Colson who wept in contrition and gladness as he met Jesus Christ. I read and heard (via WMBI) your comments last week about the protest by one third of Calvin College's faculty and students regarding President Bush's visit there. Your comments then echo eeriely of your comments today: the protesters, like Felt, didn't pursue their objective using the conduits of good manners.

Again, your prepared statement on Mark Felt seems incredible to me:
No matter how Felt may justify his actions, it is not honorable to leak classified information to the press. Governments cannot function if the chief executive cannot trust people who hold sensitive positions, and there are few positions more sensitive than the deputy director of the FBI. A president has to be able [to] deal with someone in a sensitive position without worrying that his conversations are going to be disclosed to the press.
Do you really think merely by saying "he's wrong!" and "he's not honorable!" that you somehow win the argument or convince anyone not already convinced? By what authority do you speak? I don't find your words on Watergate authoritative; in fact, quite the opposite. By the same lights, I find Mark Felt's words authoritative; they match what was, and they come from a man who risked at least his professional life by disclosing what he did. This is harsh to ask, Mr. Colson. But what did you risk?

This oddly unconvincing authoritarian tone has increasingly become habitual with you, it seems to me. You found "Deep Throat" and the anti-Bush Calvin contingent untidy, yet in the face of power resistance is always untidy. Look what happened to Jesus. So unmannered! Regarding those Calvin rebels, you left out the very thing that is the mainspring of their (and my) objections to using Bush as an example of our faith. The war, Mr. Colson. The unjust, lied-about, pre-planned cover-up leading to a falsely engaged in war. The Watergate of our time, one leading to thousands of deaths. This, too, is a pro-life issue.

Who is the real audience for your words, Mr. Colson? This is what really breaks my heart. Your words are for evangelicals. I have historically counted myself an evangelical, but continually find myself an orphan instead. The reasons for this are so multifaceted, I literally find myself speechless (though often not tearless) over the terrible place to which many evangelical Christians -- especially evangelical leaders -- seem to have fallen. We are seduced by nationalism, keepers of a non-existent romantic ideal mixing religiousity and American triumphalism, an ideal that has nothing to do with Jesus. And we, just like Marx once accused, do use our faith as an opiate rather than a stimulant toward change and repentance. Your words, Mr. Colson, are not in accord with reality.

Consider the words of Catholic theologian / philosopher Josef Pieper, writing in his tiny but pithy Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power. This quote is long, but makes the point at hand:

[T]he abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the sophistic abuse of the word, indeed, finds in it the fertile soil in which to hide and grow and get ready, so much so that the latent potential of the the totalitarian poison can be ascertained, as it were, by observing the symptom of the public abuse of language. The degradation, too, of man through man, alarmingly evident in the acts of physical violence committed by all tyrannies (concentration camps, torture), has its beginning, certainly much less alarmingly, at that almost imperceptible moment when the word loses its dignity...

For the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language. (Italics in original)
You seem to see yourself as a guard of the center -- that is, American nationalism -- much as you saw yourself back then. It seems you've merely added Christianity to this center (if such a thing were in fact possible!). Many of us feel that nationalism -- no matter how noble-seeming the nation in question -- is antithetical to Christianity. You seem to want to elevate that center, but many of your fellow Christians, not to mention your fellow Americans, are not interested in such a project.

What center then can we find? There is only the commonality of human suffering, a Savior who shares in it, and his command to us to partake in his sufferings, be his disciples, and to spread his Words and Life.

I met Jesus within the same year you did, Mr. Colson. I pray to God we both hang on to that first love. And love, as I might imagine you saying in some other context, isn't love without truth. Truth, as Jesus once said, will be cried out by the stones if the people are silent.

Please don't forget how dangerous power is.