Sunday, August 13, 2006
I remember it clearly. It was the summer after I graduated from high school. I had turned 18 just a few months ago.

I received a call from a very official-sounding gentleman who relayed to me that he was a member of the CIA and that he was involved in recruiting young men to do special mission work in various areas across the world. I ended up meeting in person with him a couple of time, always at the local Big Boy restaurant. This was back in 1982. Closer to the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union than any of us would have ever imagined. Still in the height of those relatively silent hostilities. Living in constant fear / awareness that at any point a provication of one side by the other could cause the other to push "the button". It all seemed a bit "Maxwell Smart-ish" but it was serious stuff.

Anyway, this guy explained that I would need to be willing to give my life for my country. They knew that I had spent some time in Germany the summer before and was comfortable with international travel. They were looking for young men who could infiltrate other societies and be able to fit in as a presumed ex-pat. However, all along, I would be there for the purpose of carrying out CIA missions, being willing to set various operations into motion on almost a moment's notice. Willing to bring down others for what they would tell me was the sake of the good old USA. There was the potential for being involved in wide-scale operations to kill the leaders or civilians of enemy countires. I could end up most anyplace in the world. There was a good chance I'd even be in Canada quite a bit. If, after a five-year stint with them, I chose to return to the USA, I would enter the Witness Protection Program for at least a few years.

It sounded exciting and Agent Heap (the CIA guy) built a pretty convincing story of how this program was critical to the future of our country. I would be a part of something big. But, alas, I was deep-down about as milquetoast as they come. It seemed very wrong to be running around the world killing people simply because that was what they told me to do. So, I turned them down.

Yes, I am releasing a major national secret by even writing about this. It's been quite a few years, though, so I am hoping that I am not putting myself or my family in danger.

Okay, so, when I sat down to write this whole ridiculous story, I was trying to think about what would have made these possibly 50 young men based in Great Britain to recently hatch a plan to bring down 10 or so airliners at once. It all got pretty ridiculous though. There was no way I could even make up such a story without having it come across as ridiculous and myself sound like a complete loon.

You know, occasionally I stumble across and read things which are sympathetic to the fascist Muslim vew which leads to these terroristic plans. About how they have no other way to have their voice heard. About how other religions and other states want to suppress them. Ya know what though? That is all baloney. These guys are evil personified. Almost to the ridiculous level of the evil characters in the cartoons our son watches. There is nothing good, reasonable, or justifiable to wanting to kill 3000+ civilians all at once ... or one at a time for that matter.

I wrote a week or so ago a post I called "Enough is Enough" about how Israel needed to be careful that, in the current situation with Hezbollah, they didn't escalate things to a level where they really didn't want to go. Now that a cease-fire in the recent hostilities appears to be agreed upon, I am glad about that. I still believe that the Lebanon situation could have escalated into something unthinkable. I still grieve at the loss of any life. But, I still know the facts ... Hezbollah has a history of being one of the bloodiest extremist terrorist groups in modern times. Kidnappings, torture, killings, terrorist attacks ... you name it, for the past almost 25 years, Hezbollah has been at the center of all sorts of really nasty stuff. They have shown again and again that pure evil which has no regard for human life. If there was a way for them to have been completely disabled and eradicated, I would have been all for it.

Wait, I have to run now ... my shoe is ringing.

  posted at 7:19 AM  

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Todd R. said...

Be careful there Todd. "These guys are evil personified" is a pretty strong statement. Theologian Miroslav Volf has written an incredible book entitled "Exclusion and Embrace" where he talks about how the moment we boil people down to absolute evil, we are able to justify the same behaviors in ourselves that we are condeming them for. He uses as an example his own experience as a Serbian in the Serb/Croat wars in the nineties. Neighbors were able to kill neighbors because they villified the one another.

Volf was speaking on Exclusion and Embrace at the United Nations Prayer Breakfast the morning of September 11, 2001. A few months later, Christianity Today asked him if his views had changed after experiencing 9/11 first hand. His response was that the moment, in our own mind, the terrorists stop being human and we boil them down to the lowest common denominator, the easier it is for us to act in similar fashion to others like them. Is our lackluster response to the Israel/Lebanon crisis where civilians--women and children--are being killed daily due to our vilification of terrorists? Are human rights violations at Abu Graib and Gatmo a result of thinking that terrorists are evil personified?

Maybe our response should be to ask what has happened to our society that makes people feel like there is no other option but to resort to these terrible acts? I was listening to Brain McLaren this morning and he talked about Luke 4:14-20 where Jesus quotes prophecy from Isaiah--"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." How, as Christians, do we live this out in the context of a world that is falling a part at the seams? Is there a way to practice justice, mercy, healing and proclamation in a way that gives hope to those who are hopeless?

That's my two cents....

On a different note--from a two month blog slacker, it is refreshing to see you posting so much. I realize you are writing whilst I sleep but I really appreciate it. I will get back on the wagon here shortly.

Thanks Todd!

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Todd M said...

Thanks for your great comments.

My original post was admittedly some of my worst writing ever.

As we know, the bigger question you bring up here is something which can be subject to endless debate. I spent my four years of undergrad debating it and, in the end, neither side got anywhere. It may have all played a role in leading to the seemingly endless indigestion I now suffer as a 42 year old bald fat guy but that's a different story.

I am not for vilifying anyone and I am sorry I came across that way. It goes back to the old adage (and you know how I love those!) of never pointing a finger at anyone because several are pointing back at yourself.

Terrorist groups have already vilified themselves I feel through their words and actions. I was not casting that mantle on them. In my opinion, they have brought themselves to an animalistic low in their approach toward those they do not like. Anyone who enthusiastically seeks ways of killing thousands of innocent people at once tends to be willingly accepting the position of "evil" in today's world.

Sure, I would like to know more about what has brought them to their current opinion of Christianity, Judaism, and the western world. I have a hunch, though, that if I invited them over for tea and scones, they would come with big bombs strapped to themselves and I tend to be a bit allergic to bombs.

Okay, that isn't a good thing for me to make light of but I do not know how you enter into discussion with groups that have made it very clear that they will take you and your family out on a whipstitch, given the opportunity, just to make a point but yet we clearly don't even know what that point is!

Certainly, they see Christianity as being very hypocritical. And it is. In so many areas, we say one thing but yet send an entirely different message to the world. I think that many in the church today are working on that but we have a long way to go. We do not, though, claim to not be subject to human frailties.

The overall conundrum aside, I am all for doing all we can to show Jesus' love to the entire world. We need to bring healing to the hurting and hope to the hopeless. I just happen to feel that there is a line where some people cross over into evil. I do not feel that these sorts of radical views are held by many fortunately. It would be great to bring those who hold these views to Christ but they are nowhere close to being in a state of hopelessness nor brokenness. In fact, their hope rests in our destruction. How many thousands will they kill in that attempt? As many as they can unfortunately.

I do not support an offensive approach to terrorism but unfortunately we have been forced into a defensive approach.

Okay, I am going off on tangents and, again, not some of my best writing here.

Here, though, is a link to what I think is a great article that I stumbled across:

Thank you again for your comment. It was great and I cannot say there is anything in it that I don't agree with. I just happen to think that radical Muslim extremists who are plotting major terrorist attacks are indeed evil at work in today's world. They have set their own agenda and it's not a very kind one.


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Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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