On the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Rev. Dr. Norma Cook Everist, Distinguished Professor of Church and Ministry, emerita, Wartburg Theological Seminary, discussed the meaning of being political, the separation of church and state or the separation of religion and government. She uncovered the meaning of Christian Nationalism and the importance of Christian education in combatting this and similar ideologies. With all the divisions within the United States, Everist suggests building a trustworthy environment so that we can be different together. She concludes with the vocation of the church in these challenging times in our nation and the world.
Ukraine is more than a late-night punchline or a pawn in U.S. domestic politics. It is a country rich in resources and history. Dennis Carter, recently retired career foreign service officer after 38 years in the Department of State, including postings in Kuwait, Peru, France, Jordan, the United Kingdom, and Grenada takes deep into the the history and the importance of Ukraine on the world stage. Strategically, it abuts western Russia. Other nations have coveted its territory for centuries because it is the “breadbasket of Europe, has rich mineral resources, and lately, technology. In recent years Ukraine has had to resist Russian incursions, especially a take-over of Crimea and threats to the Donbass region.
Also listen to our 2014 interview with Ambassador Lawrence Taylor on the conflict in Ukraine.
In this second interview, Leon Reed, former aide to Senator William Proxmire, suggests what we can expect from the new Congress in the next two years, although he admits that many of these ideas will not necessarily be approved by the Senate or signed by the president. In addition to continuing investigations into election interference, campaign reform, the tax bill, minimum wage, and “Obamacare,” he recommends two areas and two committees to watch. 1) In the Agriculture Committee, the pros and cons of tariffs. 2) In Homeland Security Committee, facts and figures about border security; the effect of global warming on the economy; and the disaster in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Reed, a former congressional aid to Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, recommends the restoration of four procedures in the House of Representatives that were discarded under House Speakers Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, beginning in 1994. 1) Restore power to committees and chairs rather than three or four majority leaders. 2) Introduce legislation by a regular process of information gathering and discussion rather than in secret. 3) Include minority participation in these proceedings. 4) Make a good-faith effort to get bi-partisan support.
Maarten Halff, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations, New York City, describes the large number of requests from client nations for technical assistance in conducting elections, especially in emerging democracies. The UN neither observes nor evaluates the results. It works with local officials to encourage people to vote, establish voting procedures, and count the votes. Human rights are an important consideration in these consultations.
Presidential elections in the Central African Republic, Feb. 2016. UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis
Gretchen Natter is the Executive Director of the Center for Public Service and Assistant Dean of College Life, Gettysburg College; and Communications Liaison, Project Gettysburg-Leon. In this podcast she describes the current political crisis in Nicaragua brought about by protests against President Daniel Ortega, the long-time leader of the Sandinista Movement that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship but is now using similar tactics to suppress opposition. The situation has directly affected the work of groups that encourage cultural interchange and assistance such as Project Gettysburg-Leon and others around the country.
On the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, Lt. Col. (ret.) Thomas Dombrowsky a Vietnam War combat veteran and Adjunct Professor, Gettysburg College, asks what we have learned: the trauma of veterans was not so much outright hostility as disinterest or silence; we should not blame the soldiers for bad policy; and, above all, we need to think beyond the end of hostilities so that winning the peace becomes as important as winning the war. On the positive side, he notes that two American presidents, Obama and Trump, have visited Viet Nam.
A widely traveled, award-winning “ambassador” of peace, Rev. Sandra Mackie, Spiritual Director, Ruth House, and Recipient of the Lifetime Peacemaker Award, Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, believes that fear is a significant factor in war, and that better understanding is a key ingredient for peace. She observes that Iran should not be lumped together with other Mid-East nations. Iranians are not Arabs, but Persians with a long and proud history. They want to be democratic and open to the West, but free and independent; and when threatened, they think it necessary to develop a nuclear program.
Kim Davidson, Director, Center for Public Service, Gettysburg College, recently returned from a study tour of El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico maintains that current policy toward Mexican and Central American immigrants is based on racism, and that it is made more acute by the lack of transparency in the practices of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). She suggests several things that advocates can do, including making their voices heard and providing legal services to those wrongly detained.
Richard Michael, Interim Pastor Big Spring United Lutheran Church, discussed his recent travel to the Holy Land. Having led several groups over the years, he described the sites the group visited, the orientation to the trip for participants and the benefit of the trip for participants. For him and individuals in the group, the arrival to the Holy Land was “coming home” since the sites (cities and roads) are familiar to Christians through their reading of scriptures. In addition, Michael discussed the political realities which exist. Such a trip helps pastors to preach and teach more effectively and assists participants to reflect more critically when reading scripture and listening to sermons.