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When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:
Read the stories and leave your comments.
The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.
Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.
Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot?
Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.
February 19, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
NPCA Board positions are open for nomination 17 Feb
Mike Tidwell on trial for climate action protest 17 Feb
Katie Dyer is co-owner of Cadeaux du Monde 16 Feb
Cyclone misses Tonga and Samoa PCVs 16 Feb
Phil Hardberger in debate for Mayor of San Antonio 16 Feb
Edmund Hull is Princeton Diplomat-In-Residence 16 Feb
Bruce Greenlee is longtime friend of Latino community 15 Feb
Mike Honda new vice chairman at DNC 15 Feb
Jospeh Opala documents slave crossing from Sierra Leone 14 Feb
Dear Dr. Brothers: Aren't PCVs Hippies? 14 Feb
Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund 14 Feb
Stanley Levine draws Marine and Peace Corps similarities 14 Feb
Speaking Out: JFK envisioned millions of RPCVs 13 Feb
Chris Aquino visits mother's homeland of Vietnam 12 Feb
Is PCOL blocking users from posting messages? 12 Feb
JFK Library opens Sargent Shriver Collection 1 Feb
RPCV responds to Bulgaria Calendar concerns 28 Jan
WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
|By Patrick P. Augusitne (68-187-126-139.dhcp.eucl.wi.charter.com - 184.108.40.206) on Friday, August 04, 2006 - 11:40 pm: Edit Post|
Keeping God Hostage
The Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine
Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Is religion like a loaded gun in today’s Middle East? Are we in the middle of a "War of Religions," as the attack on the headquarters of Hizab Allah [Hezbollah] in Southern Lebanon has been called? Even though Christians, Muslims, and Jews are first cousins, tied to each other through Abraham, we continue to commit atrocities against each other. We act as a dysfunctional family. In fact, interactions among Abraham's fractious offspring create many of the most dangerous flashpoints on the planet, and each faction justifies deplorable actions against its brothers as a service to God, by whatever name we worship Him.
The essential problem is that belief in one vision of God to the exclusion of all others is used to justify violence against those we ought to embrace in love. In Islam when a child is born, the Imam recites Shahadah (witness) in his/her ear: “God is greater. I testify that there is no other god than God. I testify that Muhammad is God’s messenger.” In the Jewish faith, children have been taught the Ten Commandments since Moses' time. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the bondage. You shall have no other gods but me.” A Christian child is also nurtured with Jesus’ teaching: “The Lord our God is the only Lord.” All three religions reveal that we should adore and worship God as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, but why is this so often done without respect and love for our neighbors?
While I was growing up in Pakistan, I often heard the Imam, during the Friday prayers, calling on the Islamic Ummah for the destruction of the state of Israel. I also saw walls covered with graffiti such as “Death to Jews”; and, then and now, Muslim militants continue to kill themselves and Jewish innocents of all ages with suicide bombs. As a persecuted people, the Jews themselves are not without sin. I have personally witnessed the sufferings of Palestinians caused by Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories. Christian history, too, is marred by violence and uncharitable acts towards Muslims and Jews. In the1990s, Serbian Christians stood trial for atrocities against Bosnian Muslims. Many others have gone unpunished over the centuries. As a believer in God, I am ashamed of such crimes committed against humanity in the name of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.
Whatever religious people may say about their love of God or the mandates of their religion, when their behavior toward others is violent and destructive, when it causes suffering among their neighbors, one can be sure the religion has been corrupted and reform is desperately needed. When religion becomes evil, even God is held hostage. We must not forget that Christ said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” that God told Micah “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8), and that the God of the Qur’an is a God of the universes (note the plural). Geographically, there is neither East nor West for Him (Surah 2: Verse 115). God is everywhere and belongs to everyone. He made people into different tribes and nations speaking different languages and living in different cultures. All these are signs of God’s universal compassion and we must learn to appreciate each other (Surah 5: verse 48, Surah 30: verse 22, and Surah 49: verse 13).
The question the world needs to pose before the dysfunctional family of
Abraham is: “What do we mean when we say God?” Do not Elohim, Allah or God (whom we know and experience through the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an,) share the same attributes? Isn’t each seen as All Powerful, All Merciful, All Seeing, The Most Exalted, The Holy, The Just, The Guardian of Peace, The Resurrector, The Light, The Truth and The Way? In the Exodus event in the Bible, God reveals Himself by acting on behalf of a weak, defenseless people. This is the God of Power and of Strength, able to destroy the enslaving power of the mighty Pharaoh. But we must not forget that after Yahweh liberated the people of Israel and brought them to the Promised Land, He gave them the commandment:
You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him;
For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
You shall not ill-treat any widow or fatherless child. If you
Do, be sure that I will listen if they appeal to me; my anger
Will be roused and I will kill you with the sword. (Exodus 22:21-24)
Jews, Christians and Muslims are all guilty of not loving each other. The three of us often question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” How would the world look if we could recognize that we are brothers and sisters of three faith communities? What would such a consensus in conscience bring about? Would we still spend billions of dollars every year to build ingenious instruments of death to destroy God’s children and pollute the environment while thousands of poor people suffer in Gaza and Southern Lebanon?
Looking at the war-torn situation in the Middle East, Sudan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan and India, one might easily throw in the towel in despair. Nevertheless, I was reminded last Sunday in the words of the Episcopalian baptismal service, that, as a Christian, I am called to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. The lack of respect for the dignity of every individual has deeply wounded humanity, and, as a result, God’s children wander around in a desperate search for peace and love.
Peacemaking is the work of love, and “in love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love” (1 Jn. 4:18). As a follower of Jesus Christ, peacemaking is my obligation. It requires total dedication to work as an instrument for peace. Where there is hatred, I must sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union. Can I do it alone? No. As they say, no man is an island. We need each other. Jews, Christians and Muslims as children of Abraham need to come together.
World powers have not played a constructive part in solving the problems of the children of Abraham. Why cannot we as people of God come together and take care of it ourselves? I call on Jews and Muslims to join me to work for peace. The challenge today is to seek a unity that celebrates and respects diversity. We must marshal positive energy as religious people with faith in our God of peace and mercy, not in a god of war. The dysfunctional family of Abraham needs to be reconciled and healed. When we surrender our wills under the will of God, there can be many options for those who take seriously the call to be peacemakers. Let God be God and not be kept hostage by zealotry and hatred. May His blessings-- not missiles-- rain upon all God’s children.
 Charles Kimball, When religion Becomes Evil, Harper, San Francisco, 2002,