Donald Trump is Wrong about the Founding of ISIS

the White HouseMost people had forgotten all about it, but Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recently revived a comment he had made in January, stating that President Obama was the founder of ISIS. “President Obama. He’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Florida on August 10. Apparently he did not want anyone to mistake his point, for he immediately added: “He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.” Then he added: “I would say that the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”

Asked about his comment in interviews the next day, Trump did not back down. To conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who seemed to be fishing around with Trump to try to find a way to soften Trump’s language, Trump said, “No. I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. I don’t care. He was the founder.” It seems a ridiculous waste of time to have to state the obvious: President Obama did not found ISIS (see below). But Trump’s handle on foreign policy lends itself to the ridiculous.

Now I hold no brief for the CIA, but you really should read this New York Times op-ed by Mike Morell, the acting director and deputy director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013. No matter what you think of the CIA, it’s clear that one thing they do well is to identify vulnerabilities in people and exploit them. With that in mind, keep in mind that for months Trump has been singing various praises of Russian President Vladimir Putin (see this link also).
In his op-ed., Morell explains why.

He reminds us that Putin was a career intelligence officer, skilled at identifying people’s vulnerabilities and exploiting them. Noting Trump’s “obvious need for self-aggrandizement,” Morel writes that “[t]his is exactly what [Putin] did in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.”

Egyptian lamp and jug (Matt Create)In his op-ed, Morrell also argues persuasively why Trump is not only unqualified to be President but that he has already posed a threat to U.S. national security. A few days later, Morell was on the Charlie Rose television show for a major interview, in which he explained in great detail why he wrote the op-ed. You owe it to yourself to listen closely to that interview.

But to return to Trump’s ignorance about the founding of ISIS… I wrote a series of articles for this blog two years ago that traced a large and important branch of the roots of ISIS back through al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to the militant vision of Sayyid Qutb, a radicalized Egyptian intellectual in 1950’s Egypt. Never heard of Sayyid Qutb? Apparently neither has Donald Trump.

So, having suggested that you take time to read the above links and listen to Mike Morell on Charlie Rose, now I’m going to give you some more homework. For a crash course on what Trump doesn’t know about the religious-political roots of ISIS, set aside time to read this series of articles. It will take you about an hour, but it will be time well spent.

Here’s the first one in the series. They are all linked, so you can read through them at your own pace, or skip through them to find those that interest you. And lets talk about this along the way. The Comments area for those articles is open. I hope this helps you. If it does, do forward this post to your friends. This issue is too important to let an outrageous falsehood hang in the air unaddressed, as if it were true.

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

Images by Adam_Inglis (top) and Matt Create (lower) from Creative Commons.

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

Special Announcement – The John Peck Website

John Peck holding a tiny BibleI am very pleased to announce that a website has been launched to carry the sermons and other talks of late Revd John Peck, British theologian, philosopher, and so much more. Revd Peck was an extraordinary person, family man, preacher, teacher, and mentor to many. To see why people say this, check out this memorial to him.

John and I were close for 30 years. He was my mentor for many of those years, and we collaborated on a number of projects, including co-authoring a book. His sermons and other talks are real gems. You won’t get a rehash of what you already know. So I highly recommend this new site. Have a look-see for yourself, and a listen. I would love to hear your impression of it, and of John.

If you have never heard of Revd Peck, you can get a quick taste by reading his compelling his vision for a vibrant church. Or a bigger drink from this exclusive interview from 1998.

To visit the new site for his sermons and talks.

Thank you.

Photo of John holding a tiny Bible courtesy of Peck estate.

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

The Revd John Peck (1924-2016)

John Peck smilingThis is just a short personal note from me to readers of this blog to express my appreciation for everyone’s notes, good wishes, and prayers after hearing news of the death of John Peck, a dear friend and mentor. On July 5, in memory of John, I posted his “I Have a Vision” statement for the church, written nearly 40 years ago, but timeless in essence. We have been astounded at the large number who have read it, liked it, and shared it. Just today, when I thought the sharing had ended, I saw another blogger who had picked it up. Cool.

For those who would like a glimpse behind the scenes at what made John Peck a remarkably admired and sought-after Christian leader and thinker in the UK, and in parts of the US and Europe, the official obituary has captured that. If you would like a taste of his wisdom on a wide range of issues, within and outside church walls, check out this interview with John.

I am also very glad to be able to say that the project to put John’s sermons and other talks on the Web for a new generation should soon be completed. Stay tuned.

That website is now up and running. Here it is.

“If you belong to Christ, then his history has changed what you are.” John Peck, British theologian

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

Photo courtesy of Ann Horn (check out her photographs).

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

“I Have a Vision,” John Peck

John Peck at his deskSomeone has said that a sunset on earth is a sunrise in heaven. Last week the Rev. John Peck passed away peacefully in his sleep, three days into his 93rd year. A godly, noble man who overflowed with wisdom. A true mensch. A dear friend. I knew John closely for thirty-three years and we collaborated on a number of projects. Since receiving news of his death I have been thinking: how strange it will be not to have this unique outlier in the world with us.

John, who has been called “The Least Known Best Theologian in the World,”* had an exceptional passion for the church. It would be hard to top his lovely and concise picture of a healthy church. It has been printed and framed and hangs on the wall of pastors’ offices. Part of John’s enduring legacy is being experienced today in churches who have taken his vision to heart and found ways to live it. Here is it is in his own words.

I Have a Vision

Of a church whose worship seeks out all the resources of its members and utilizes all their skills.

Where the hymns are sung with zest, perception, and expression, and accompanied by every instrument anyone can play, including hands, and feet, and smiles. And where the unfamiliar music of another generation is learned until it is loved.

A church with liturgies that are never mechanical, and spontaneity that is never trivial.

Where the least of its meetings are conducted like royal appointments, and its greatest days are marked with solemn hilarity.

Where organisational efficiency is always at the service of caring love.

Where even poor efforts are done with painstaking diligence, and commended with tolerant hope.

Where brilliance of mind or skill only serves to light up Jesus Christ and His Gospel; where no one can hog the limelight, no one gets too much attention, and no one gets left out.

Of a church were outsiders get as much welcome as old friends; were no one stands alone unless they need to; where the awkward ones are accepted, and the pleasant ones are disturbed by hard realities.

Where the first to hear a complaint is the offender, and the last to air it is the sufferer.

Where people’s interests are worldwide, without being worldly, and personal without being petty.

I have a vision of a church which shares an invincible passion for learning and giving, whose life is energised by a glad acceptance of the Cross as a way of life.

Whose self-critical humor puts people at ease, and whose self-denials disturb and brace them.

Whose sympathy is so warm and imaginative that no one has the nerve to indulge in self-pity; and whose ideals are so high that slightly soiled notions are shamed into silence.

Whose convictions are firm without being rigid; whose tolerance extends even to the intolerant; whose life is an admonition, whose love learns even from its opponents, and whose faith is infectious.

I have a vision of a church that is like that because from time to time it hears its Redeemer’s voice speak with such authority that nothing will do but obedience, nothing matters but God’s love, and others coming in can only wonder, and wish, and ask. . .

John R. Peck, B.S., A.L.B.C.
March, 1979
Earl Soham, Suffolk, England

*The art historian Karen L. Mulder’s apt description of John Peck.

Image of John Peck laughing courtesy of Karen L. Mulder.

A website has been created to continue the legacy of John Peck’s exceptional teaching ministry to a new generation. Here’s that site.

For more about John Peck, see:

A major interview with John in 1998

Martin Wroe’s tribute

Baptist Times (UK) tribute

The extensive obituary.

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

To Boldly Go: anti-Trump Republicans speak up

Crative Commons image“[T]here are certain standards more important than one year’s election. There are certain codes that if you betray them, you suffer something much worse than a political defeat. Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.”

That’s conservative Republican David Brooks in his New York Times editorial “No, Not Trump, Not Ever.” The widely-respected columnist and a commentator for NPR, who also teaches at Yale, is challenging Republican politics even if it costs him some readers.

“[Reinhold] Niebuhr always said politics is the art of making choices between relative goods and lesser evils. [When they hear me say that, people say], ‘Oh I hadn’t thought of that. Okay, now I can vote Romney or McCain or, you know, Bush Sr. over Dukakis.’ [But that was then.] I am now here to announce to you this doesn’t work anymore. If the candidates are Trump and Hillary, Niebuhr’s quote goes out the window. I see no good option between either one of them.”

That’s Evangelical Republican Michael Cromartie, speaking at the University Club in Washington, D.C., during a lunchtime discussion hosted by the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Cormartie holds a nationally influential position as vice-president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs both the Evangelicals in Civic Life and Faith Angle Forum programs.

Brooks and Cromartie are but two of the trusted public voices speaking out within well-informed understandings. Knowing of both men’s moderation, I was at first surprised at, but then grateful for, their very frank and bold public opinions about Trump, for these are desperate times in our country.

The two above quotes are but mild excerpts from their opinions. Their detailed and resolute “not-Trump” convictions are well worth your time to read and ponder.

Here is Cromartie’s comments. Here is Brooks’s editorial.

Let’s have some conversation about this in the Comments area. But keep it civil or you won’t be heard. ‘Nuff said!

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

Image of Air Force One courtesy of Creative Commons. Who will next fly the world in its executive luxury?

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

“Politics”: Noah Webster v. Ambrose Bierce

Webster's DictionaryIn a song by Sting, one of the world’s more intelligent singer-songwriters, he admits that he’s lost his lost faith in politicians because “they all seem like game show hosts to me.” It aptly expressed a sentiment held by many people twenty years ago, when “If Ever I Lose My Faith in You” was first popular. Here in the States today, presidential game-show politics has devolved into reality TV, with all of its scripted drama and adversity. Responsible citizens can only cry or laugh. Having cried, I suppose that’s why I posted Daffy Duck’s run for the presidency recently. The short cartoon made me laugh when I discovered it, quite by accident, on youtube.

Still, crying is what’s needed today. By a stroke of good fortune, I own of a massive tome, the 1919 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary (with Reference History), which I rely on to tell me what people were thinking 100 years ago, or longer. I haul the heavy volume from the shelf and open it on the floor of my office more often that you might think. Inspired the other day by a comment by Mark Roques on the Daffy Duck post, I wondered what Webster had to say back in the day about politics.

I found this definition: “politics”: (1) “The science and art of government; the science dealing with the organization and regulation of a state, in both its internal and external affairs…. (2) The theory or practice of managing or directing the affairs of public policy or of political parties; Hence political affairs, principles, convictions, opinions, sympathies….”

Sounds like a pretty important area of life, politics, when put that way. As a Christian who believes that government is ordained by God and that we have obediences to fulfill to God in the realm of government, I thought that Webster’s definitions were pretty noble words to describe how political stewardship of government ought to be understood by citizens and conducted by our elected officials.

To get an opposing view, I turned to a near-contemporary of Webster’s, the influential satirist Ambrose Bierce, who was born in 1842, the year before Wesbster died. I wasn’t surprised to find his his witty Devil’s Dictionary, 1906, a more accurate definition of today’s politics: “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

It’s tragic that Bierce’s definition prevails over Webster’s today in America, although high marks to Webster who, in more polite terms, concluded his second definition (above) with these words: “… artful or dishonest management to secure the success of political candidates or parties.”

Go back and ponder Webster’s two definitions. Then think about where we are today and have a good cry. It’s a place to start.

©2016 by Charles Strohmer

A note from Charles: If you want more of the perspectives that Waging Wisdom seeks to present, I want to invite you to follow this blog. Just click here and find the “Follow” button in the right margin, enter your email address, and then click “Follow.” You will then receive a very short email notice when I publish a new post. Thank you.

Daffy Duck for President

“Ehh, what’s up, duck?”

A blast from the past for today. About says it all.

 

 

Daffy Duck for President, © 2004, Warner Brothers, produced by Spike Brandt, Tony Cervone, and Linda M. Steiner.