Healing Spiritual Wounds

an interview with Carol Howard Merritt

Have you ever been wounded by a church, or do you know someone who has been?

Have you ever wished you had the right book on your shelf, something solid and helpful you could read and pass along?

That book is finally here! It is destined to become a classic.

Carol Howard Merritt’s book is called: Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

I am privileged to call Carol a friend. We labored together in a writing group, and I know firsthand that she has mastered her craft. What’s more, she has wisdom, theological depth and ministry experience. I believe her book will help many, so I was thrilled to write an endorsement:


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I’ve Always Wanted to Be Normal

RevGals coverI’m a woman and have spent a good portion of my career occupying pulpits. In some circles a preaching woman is seen as a problem. Now comes a book that normalizes my life: “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.” What a gift! I’ve always wanted to feel normal.

There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments & the Healing Power of Humor (SkyLight Paths Publishing).

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

سامبا بيع ا٠My guess is that you know someone who would love to receive this book as a gift.

More than 50 clergywomen have written this anthology. I contributed an essay, which ended up first in the book. It leads off a section called “Fierce & Fabulous for Jesus.”


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Maker Culture: More than Consumers

Have you heard of the Maker Movement? Last night I saw a documentary called Maker. (See trailer below).

Maker Culture consists of people who convert ideas into physical products, through creating, hacking, and exploring. This could be in the realm of art (think of sculpture made from scavenged materials), technology (think of robots), or gadget design (think of 3D printing).

Often Makers work collaboratively in shared spaces which are supplied with all sorts of tools. The emphasis is not on owning a new idea, but on disseminating it widely. Key word: OpenSource.

Makers have a whole array of motives: wanting to be more independent in their lives, wanting to make as well as consume, wanting to enjoy the collaboration of a creative process. The mindset is one of curiosity. Makers don’t want to take the world as it’s given, they want to interact with it.

Another important word: Democratization. Anyone can have a good idea. Why should people who are well-funded be the ones who create new products? The Maker movement democratizes the process of creating and producing, making it accessible for anyone with curiosity plus the ability to work with others to explore the world.

One Maker described the movement in a way that I find captivating. Our world has seen three Industrial Revolutions: 1) the Mechanical revolution, 2) the Information revolution, and 3) now, the combination of the first two, which is Maker culture.

Makers who have an entrepreneurial mindset usually go through 3 steps: 1) create prototype, 2) get crowd funding such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, 3) go into production because of the ability to profitably make much smaller runs of product.

There were many interesting people featured in the movie, so I encourage you to meet them yourself. Perhaps one of them will inspire you!

I am happy to know that locally (Leesburg, VA) a Maker space (Makersmiths) will be opening in 2015.

Why might you be interested in being a Maker? The Maker movement pulls together people who love to create in all different forums, and for all different reasons. So in Maker culture you see people coming from the arts working with people interested in science, particularly STEM. My husband is a Science teacher, so some applications are obvious.

As a pastor, I’m thinking about church applications. A couple words seem important and applicable: collaboration, democratization, open source, crowd funding, curiosity, shared space. Certainly the call to move beyond consumerism is a powerful one, with gospel roots!

Check out the trailer:

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Worlds vs. Words: Which Lasts Longer?

Lectionary Study on Mark 13

Is the world coming to an end, and how do we feel about that? This weekend I saw a dystopian/utopian movie, listened to end-times texts read in church, and worked out to Radioactive at Golds Gym. (be careful about clicking that link, it’s an ear worm) Welcome to the New Age! This is it, the Apocalypse!

With the impending demise of the world hanging over my head, I began to wonder which lasts longer: worlds or words? Words would seem to be the most ephemeral of all things! Yet I submit three items for your consideration:

1) Interstellar is a 3-hour spectacle that reaches deep into time and space. Interestingly enough, it avoids any mention of a belief system, or anything to believe in, other than human achievement. Instead, the movie tickles the edges of theoretical physics and pays homage to Love (Love is the one thing we can perceive that transcends space and time, says Anne Hathaway’s character).

2) The text this first Sunday of Advent was from Mark 13, which includes these words of Jesus: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. The text also suggests that at the end of all things our galaxy will disappear (the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light).

3) And from left field, because who knows when and how John Calvin will pop up. . . Have you seen the video of the crow sledding down a snowy roof? It is delightful, so I read about crows on Wikipedia, where I learned that crows are playful and intelligent. Which made me wonder about the origin of the expression “eating crow.” Which led me to this: Eating crow is of a family of idioms having to do with eating and being proven incorrect, such as to “eat dirt” and to “eat your hat” (or shoe), all probably originating from “to eat one’s words”, which first appears in print in 1571 in one of John Calvin’s tracts, on Psalm 62: “God eateth not his words when he hath once spoken.”

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Book Review: John McPhee’s Classic Work About Alaska: “Coming Into the Country”

This book is really 3 pieces under 1 cover. The first piece describes a trip on a remote river in a beautiful section of Alaska, bordering the Yukon territory. The language is poetic and the focus is on the ecological beauty of the area. The second piece is more sociological, describing characters in Alaska’s history, and some of the trends of settlement. Interesting stuff. The third piece is the one the book is named for, a collection of stories about people who have “come into the country,” meaning, entered Alaska.

I read this book while I was in Alaska, and since returning. It was a wonderful partner to the trip and increased my appreciation of Alaska’s rich resources: natural beauty, history, and characters! McPhee manages to have a literary style without getting mired down, a real feat when there is not one plot thread for the reader to hang onto throughout.

I invite you to join me on Goodreads!

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What Do You Regret? An interview w/Michelle Van Loon

MichelleToday I interview Michelle Van Loon about her new book If Only: Letting Go of Regret.

The book launches on July 1. This interview is part of her blog tour.

If Only Letting Go of RegretI only met Michelle once IRL — for the briefest of hugs — but I often read her blog — it’s called Pilgrim’s Road Trip, so how could I not! I am frequently struck by Michelle’s authenticity. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her book.

http://zlatni-presek.com/?w=%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9&698=ce تداول للاسهم والخدمات المالية Ruth: Regret is a very personal topic. Why did you decide to write this book? Was there a particular event that was the genesis of this project?

http://mountainreformed.com/about-us/our-leadership/elders/ سعر التداول في اسهم ام القرى Michelle: It seemed as though I kept having variations of the same conversation with dozens of people who were smack-dab in the middle of their transition into midlife. They would say things like “I wish I could re-do my kids’ childhood now that they’re leaving the nest”, “I should have finished college”, “What a mistake it was when I married/divorced”, or “If only I would have spent more time with my parents while they were still here.” Spiritual growth at midlife includes coming to terms with the fact that there are no real do-overs in life. I also realized that these deep regret had the seeds of spiritual growth and potential for maturity sown into them, but few of us seemed to have the tools for processing those regrets well. In the church, we create space for confession of sin during many worship services, but rarely deal with regret in a meaningful way. The unintended message from this is that we should be able to move on once we’ve confessed. I was dealing with my own life list entitled “If Only”, and discovered that God could redeem and repurpose my regrets if I was willing to go beyond simply acknowledging that they existed. My own experience and those conversations with my midlife peers sparked my writing, but I realized that the topic had universal appeal. We all have regrets.

تداول البورصة السعودية Ruth: The topic of regret applies to both men and women, but you often address a woman’s experience. I found this to be affirming. Did you intend for the audience to be mainly female, and if so, how do you hope the book gets used?

دخول الاسهم السعودية Michelle: You’re right – regret is an equal-opportunity “employer” in terms of gender! However, I did imagine I’d be speaking to women with this book, and wrote with a female audience in mind.

http://www.fiv5starhousecleaning.com/?rabiny=%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%85&bee=6f سوق الاسهم السعودية اليوم Ruth: Your writing style is fun. It doesn’t belabor a point and often uses a fresh image or turn of phrase. I suspect that you write many words that are edited away to achieve this. As a fellow writer, I want to ask: What’s your writing process, overall?

http://www.iranzamin.org/?hifoar=%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AA&c96=30 ثنائي السماسرة الخيار الروبوت Michelle: Only a fellow writer would recognize that I wrote many words, deleted most of them, rewrote some of them, then deleted three-quarters of the new crop of words. I wish I could turn off my internal editor to spin out a lousy-but-functional first draft, but those lovely times of “flow” are very rare for me. I write at an excruciatingly slow pace, and surf the internet too much as a master procrastinator at the beginning of every writing project. That endorphin-releasing flow happens for me when I’m editing a second or third draft.

http://www.neweradentalsociety.org/?biter=%D8%B3%D8%B9%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B0%D9%87%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA&ec9=41 سعر الذهب اليوم الامارات Ruth: You cover many biblical stories which are quite familiar, for example: the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, David and Bathsheba, Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery. You do a good job of quickly setting the context of these stories. As a preacher, I know how shaping it is to live with a text in our heads. So let me ask: Which of these stories has the most resonance in your own life at the moment, and why?

سوق الاسهم العماني Michelle: Great question, Ruth! I love how God’s Word reads each one of us. Whenever I walk around with a passage for a few days meditating on it, that passage is my new favorite. But if I had to select just one story from If Only that continues to resonate with me, it would have to be the account of the prodigal sons in Luke 15:11-32. I can be like the rebel son and the goody-two shoes son; I want to be like the father in the parable. I want to reflect the kind of love my heavenly Father has for me to the prodigals of both kinds he has placed in my life.

http://encore-realty.com/?sebig=k%C3%B6per-forex-mynt&5a4=6e köper forex mynt Ruth: Two phrases recur throughout the book: the Holiness of God, and our Divided Heart. Would you say these are pivotal ideas for you? I’m curious if there’s some connection between them, or perhaps a story you’d like to share?

http://investingtips360.com/?klaystrofobiya=firefox-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B0%D9%87%D8%A8&fc9=11 firefox تداول بالذهب Michelle: I have had a prayer partner named Meg for over a decade. We once lived in neighboring towns and could meet for prayer. For the last several years, we meet by phone most Friday mornings. We began to realize during the course of our conversations with one another and with God how compartmentalized and fragmented parts of our lives were. Those compartments were a handy coping mechanism, at least for me. I could keep painful childhood experiences in one slot, a bad break-up in another one. And it worked for me, as it does for so many of us. But what was I supposed to do now that the Holy Spirit showed me the contours of those compartments? Meg and I began praying Ps. 86:11 (“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”) out of simple conviction that those compartments were hampering our respective maturity – and likely harboring sin, too. God has been answering that prayer – in his wholehearted purity, in his unfailing mercy, in his truth-telling love. The book is the fruit of some of what God has taught me as Meg and I have continued to pray that prayer.

http://wilsonrelocation.com/?q=www-iforex-ae www iforex ae Ruth: This book is deeply personal. In chapter nine you talk about your own mother, and her spiritual legacy, in a way that is very honest. Since your relationship was conflicted, that must have been difficult to write. What is it that you hope readers will take away from that section in particular?

http://zso.sokolka.pl/?polca=kursy-walut-bitcoin kursy walut bitcoin Michelle: I don’t think I could have written that story one moment earlier in my life than last year, to tell you the truth. But I knew it was time to share this story, as it created a template for regret in my life that shadowed so much of the way I’d learned to live. So many families have secrets, and the effects of those secrets echo for generations. They keep us from experiencing the flourishing life Jesus promised to those who followed him. I hope readers will consider their own family stories, and the way in which shame and regret have shaped those stories. I also hope readers can discover the way in which God is at work in their lives, rescripting and repurposing past regret into new life.

اسهم سابك تداول Ruth: The last question seems rather obvious: Do you have any regrets about writing this book?

اسعار اسهم دبي Michelle: Not a single one! I am praying that If Only can encourage readers to face their regrets and discover that God has been there with them, every messy step of the way.

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Move Along Lake Wobegone

Last night my family went to see Prairie Home Companion at Wolftrap. Doug grew up in Minnesota (Golden Valley). We met there, married there, and our daughters were both born there. All told, I lived there a decade. So we had earned our spot on the lawn.

It was a beautiful evening, weather-wise, and the crowd was Minnesota-mellow. I’d packed a nice picnic and our daughters were able to meet up with us as planned. The entertainment was enjoyable and all the radio pieces were in place, if a little worn around the edges. The best part was a song about Washington, DC, which had a feeling of freshness. All in all, it was a perfect evening.

Another item off the bucket list! Now you can retire, Garrison.

Seriously. You can retire.

Retirement is not a bad thing. It creates a little space in the world for the next thing to appear.

Maybe I sound like what I am — someone who used to listen “back when” PHC was a Minnesota show, not a national one. Back when things that happened in Lake Wobegone were a delightful surprise. Back when tater tots could be a punchline.

I have some compassion for the next generation. There are only so many really prime spots, career-wise. When you’re in one, it’s important to pay attention, and know when to move on. It’s part of the legacy process.

Garrison, you’ve had a really nice run. But honey, it’s time to move along.

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The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-Law’s Memoir of Caregiving

A Book Review

The Fifth season by Lisa Ohlen Harris“The Fifth Season” is an honest, yet poetic, account of a difficult experience: caregiving for an elderly person. An added complication is that the person requiring care both is/isn’t a relative. She is in that unique role: mother in law.

The author, Lisa Ohlen Harris, brings all of herself to this work: her compassion, her irritation, her humor, and most of all, her fine writing skills.

The result is a book which is both easy to read, and worth reading.

I especially recommend this book to people who may some day serve in a caregiving capacity (a growing demographic!) and their relatives. This book helps make clear the kind of help that caregivers need.

This book also opens up a dialogue about difficult questions about end of life care. The decision making process is not as easy as checking the box: die at home. What does that mean? At what point should these decisions be made? How do we support people during this process?

Thank you Lisa, for addressing this important topic with such bravery!

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Why Jerusalem? The “Jerusalem” IMAX movie

My family and I went to see the new IMAX movie “Jerusalem” on Saturday. It just opened at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The photography is amazing, and the access to sacred sites is unparalleled. You could go on a thousand pilgrimages to Jerusalem and never see these events from this perspective. I’ll paste the movie trailer below, it’s worth watching just to glimpse these images.

The movie was produced by National Geographic, and I’ll paste in the Filmmaker’s Statement of purpose, because it states what the movie is, and is not:

مواقع الاسهم السعودية We are trying to answer the question: Why Jerusalem? 

Jerusalem stirs passions so deep and its role in Western civilization is so pivotal that we as filmmakers felt moved to bring this city to the world through the beauty and power of the giant screen.

Our goal is to look at the roots of the universal attachment to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope the juxtaposition of these different religions and cultures – all with profound spiritual and historical connections to the city – will reveal how much Jews, Christians and Muslims have in common and inspire all of us to better understand each other.

Our film is not about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It embraces the idea that Jerusalem is many cities: imagined and real; past and present; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and secular. What is it about this tiny space that made it the ultimate prize of empires and the object of longing for so many different cultures over thousands of years?

We believe that the power of the images and stories in JERUSALEM will allow our audience a unique window into the lives of others. Every stone in Jerusalem has many stories. It is the collective power of all these stories that makes the city so endearing to billions of people.


اسعار اسهم دبي I resonate with the question: Why Jerusalem? Why does one square mile exert such a pull on so many people and so many faith traditions? All of the monotheistic traditions, the Abrahamic traditions, are rooted here.

Jerusalem is a fascinating place, and I believe the ancients were right when they called it the center of the world. The spiritual energy over the place is unique. I felt it too. Seeing the movie reminded me of this paragraph from my book:

Our tour guide says, “It’s a surprising land. Expectations get turned on their heads here. Jerusalem is the center of the world.” As he says this, he spreads his arms wide, and I’m reminded of the woman who cuts my hair, who made the same motion when I told her about my plans for this trip. She had her razor-sharp scissors in one hand as she made expansive circles: “The pictures from space show a cosmic energy swirling over Jerusalem. It’s the navel of every belief. It’s dangerous because God is dangerous.” I had kept a close eye on the blades of her scissors, circling near my head. 

(Excerpt from Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land)

BTW, I noticed there are some study materials available at the film’s website.

I also found this article in the Huffington Post which links a lot of great still images.

If you see the movie, I’d love to know your reaction!

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The Gatekeepers

movie poster for The Gatekeepers, 2012The Gatekeepers is a 2012 documentary about Israel’s secret service agency, the Shin Bet.

(I watched it a second time, to glean a few more facts and add some quotes at the end.)

Read the NY Times book review here.

The filmmaker, Dror Moreh, interviewed the six men who have served as head of the Shin Bet from its beginnings in 1948. The fact that these men agreed to be interviewed is absolutely stunning. The interviews are supplemented by footage of the events described.

The Shin Bet (Shabak) is Israel’s intelligence organization (internal security), parallel to the Mossad (foreign security). Neither of these is part of the IDF, Israel Defense Force. Each reports directly to the Prime Minister.

I watched the movie with a legal pad in my lap, and scribbled 6 pages of notes. So many of these events occurred in my lifetime, yet I know too little about them. I included some significant dates along with the quotes that jumped out at me. I’ll post them in case it’s helpful to other people.

The movie is chunked into 7 segments.

To begin, Shin Bet’s recent leader (2005-2011) Yuval Diskin says: “What’s unnatural is the power you have.” (referring to the power to arrest and kill Palestinians)

سوق الاسهم دبي 1. No Strategy, Just Tactics covering the emerging role of the Shin Bet from the Six-Day War and the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

1967 — after the Six Day War there were 1 million Palestinians. (a conservative number)

“Luckily for us, terrorism increased — we no longer had to deal with a Palestinian state.”

They used an “identifier technique.” They interrogated “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands.” To be successful, they had to “convince someone to betray” their cause, to do something they would never imagine they would do.

The Israelis “never took the Palestinians into consideration.” “No strategy, just tactics.”

forex izmir 2. Forget About Morality about the Bus 300 affair.

1982 — the IDF invaded southern Lebanon and the Shin Bet controlled Lebanon, replacing the Mossad.

1984 — four Palestinians hijacked a bus, and the Shin Bet executed two of them on the spot, and later killed the other two. “It was a lynching” said Avraham Solomon (who was forced to resign over the incident). It was a failure of leadership from the Cabinet and Prime Minister. “There were no morals, just tactics.”

3. One Man’s Terrorist Is Another Man’s Freedom Fighter about the peace process following the Oslo Accords.

1987-91 was the First Intifada, when the Palestinians attempted to launch a revolution. “Only live fire could stop them.” The Shin Bet failed to see the coming of the Intifada.

4. Our Own Flesh and Blood about Jewish terrorism, including the Jewish Underground and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

1994 — the first suicide bombing was on a bus in Tel Aviv. The Shin Bet increased their interrogation. They “handcuffed people in a degrading position” and shook them. PM Rabin had to decide whether to focus on the peace process or on terror interrogations.

Since 1974 (note that date) the Israeli government has been turning its head as illegal Jewish settlers have been allowed to move into Palestinian land, and to harass Palestinians.

The Jewish ideologues had access to the Knesset, and planned attacks to kill Palestinians. There was an attack on the Dome of the Rock by the Jewish Underground, intending to bring about the War of Armageddon. A few individuals were tried and convicted but quickly released by the Knesset.

1995 — Assassination of PM Rabin by Yigal Amir. After Rabin died, there was “chasm and hatred.” But no lessons. “The rabbis have no reason to learn any lesson.”

After the great fiasco of losing Rabin, now the Shin Bet “relies on force rather than our brain.” So began a new generation of computer surveillance. There had been some cooperation between Israel and Palestinians who believed in the hope of a Palestinian state, but now there was no good faith on either side.

5. Victory Is to See You Suffer about negotiations with the Palestinians during the Second Intifada

2002 — the Second Intifada. The quote is what a Palestinian prisoner said to a leader of the Shin Bet: “Victory is to see you suffer.” Hopelessness increases.

6. Collateral Damage about the assassination of Yahya Ayyash and other prominent Hamas militants

Hamas had an explosives expert named Yahya Ayyash who had many essential skills: he could make IEDs that were very powerful, he could convince people to commit suicide for the cause, and he had amazing survival skills. Targeting him was Shin Bet’s top priority. In Gaza they were able to put explosives in his cell phone and kill him. It was a clean hit, but Shin Bet was no longer able to talk to Hamas.

Next Shin Bet targeted Salah Shehade, who they killed by dropping a one-ton bomb on a bus, which killed many innocent people.

There is a kind of “banality of evil” a “kind of conveyor belt.”

After the pushback from killing to many innocents when they targeted Salah Shehade, they tried to avoid innocent deaths. When Shin Bet knew that Hamas leadership was having a Dream Team kind of meeting on Sept 6, 2003, they elected to drop a quarter-ton bomb on the house instead of a one-ton bomb. The result was that they didn’t kill anyone.

7. The Old Man at the End of the Corridor consisting of reflections on the activities of the Shin Bet and their ethical and strategic impact on the State of Israel

There was a difference of opinion between the leaders of Shin Bet about targeted killings.

“You can’t make peace using military means. Peace must be built on a system of trust. after, or without using military means in the end you must build it on a system of trust. As someone who knows the Palestinians well, I know that there should be no problem building a system of trust with them, a genuine one.” ~ Avi Dichter

“For Israel it’s too much of a luxury not to speak with our enemies. As long as they decide not to speak to us, I have no choice, but when we decide not to speak, I think we’re making a mistake.” ~ Carmi Gillon

Q: Do you think we should speak to anyone?

A: “Anyone we can, even if they answer rudely, I’m for continuing. There is no alternative to talking. Hamas? I said everyone . . . even Amhadinejad . . .” ~ Avraham Shalom

Some quoted Prof. Leibowitz who said in 1968, by way of prediction: “We are making the lives of millions unbearable.” We will create “prolonged human suffering.”

Liebowitz also said: The corruption found in every colonial regime will affix itself to the State of Israel.

Avraham Shalom identified as a problem: having such young people in the army. They are brutal. He compared them to the Germans in WWII, not in their treatment of Jews, but in their treatment of every people group. “It is a very negative trait that we acquired, to be — I won’t say it — cruel. To ourselves as well.” They excused their behavior by claiming a war on terror. (Sound familiar?)

“The future is very dark,” says Avraham Shalom. (of course, others point to this particular leader as being uniquely cruel in his tenure, a true bully).

“We win every battle but lose the war.”  ~ Ami Ayalon

Amen. And so it shall be until we learn peace.

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