Tag Archives: United States

As PM David Cameron admits James Foley’s executioner might be British, BBC’s 2006 series ‘The State Within’ comes to life

The BBC reports British Prime Minister David Cameron

has said it looks ‘increasingly likely’ a man thought to have been involved in a US journalist’s beheading is British, as UK police try to confirm the militant’s identity.

With that, I can’t help but think of my end-of-summer Netflix binge on the 2006 BBC series The State Within.

To me, The State Within was one part Homeland, one part House of Cards, and one part speculative fear of a sinister military-industrial complex that could straddle the Atlantic, with a foot in Washington, D.C., and a foot in London.

The series’ premise somewhat reflects today’s acknowledgment by Cameron.

In the series’ first episode, a British national, converted by Islamic extremists, manages to get an explosive device on a passenger jet and trigger its countdown via laptop just before the aircraft taxis for takeoff.

When the device explodes, the aircraft is above a busy D.C. roadway. Everyone on the aircraft, and several people in cars on the roadway, die.

Eventually, investigators realize the suspected bomber is a British national. The tensions between the U.S. and the U.K. build with dramatic effect.

Yet the 2006 series hinted at an underlying anxiety echoed in today’s comments from Cameron, who said, “This is not a time for a knee-jerk reaction.”

In other words, just as Jason Isaacs‘ character, Sir Mark Brydon, British ambassador to the U.S., must try to quell rising anti-British sentiment in The State Within, today Cameron tried to prevent it from starting.

The BBC report suggests Cameron is working hard to keep Great Britain from becoming associated with violent Islamic extremists — and to prevent British citizens from becoming enemies of the United States and the news media.

He also said the government would “redouble” efforts to stop Britons travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria.

More religion would be good for that other person

Sunday Prayers

Sunday Prayers (Photo credit: Steven Leith)

MSNBC‘s Morning Joe quotes a Gallup Poll:

♦ 77 percent of Americans think religion is losing influence in the U.S.

♦ 75 percent think more religion would be good for the country.

You know what each of those

respondents was thinking? “That person who gets on my nerves really needs to straighten up. Maybe if he went to church every Sunday — while I’m sleeping in.”

Campus student ministry offers ‘silence’ and ‘incense’

On Wednesday, I was driving through the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., when I saw a sign that provided additional evidence for what young people want in worship services.

I believe it was the Lutheran Student Center that had a sign out front with three big words on it. Passing by in a car, I was only able to catch the first two: “Silence” and “Incense.” These words were presented on the sign as offerings for hungry students.

As another writer has recent noted, college-age students already have access to popular music and entertainment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What’s drawing them to worship services is not more of the same, despite the complete inability of just about every minister to understand that.

What’s really awful about the “contemporary worship services” and the “outreach ministries” are their failure to know the people they’re trying to reach. I remember, while I was on my way out of evangelicalism and toward mainline Protestantism, noticing how evangelistic and apologetic efforts were always ginned-up from within the circled wagons of churches, believers, and seminaries. The people creating these moves seemed to be saying, “If I was a non-believer, I would probably think and believe something like . . . .”

However, they weren’t non-believers, and they had little understanding of people. The better folks doing the ginning-up had gained an understanding of cultural forces and the impact of ideas, but few knew and genuinely befriended people. When they did get to know people, it had all the genuine-ness of multi-level marketing sales. (Remember Amway salespeople of recent decades?) The individual was not an interesting person to the evangelist or apologist, but rather a prospect, a target, a challenge. Not primarily a friend or a person.

But to come back to my original point, I remember a story from a student at the campus where I teach, Coastal Carolina University. A young, zealous, Southern, evangelical student invited some Northeastern cradle-Catholics to a local rock-and-roll church — you know, one of the churches with “high-energy” worship, guaranteed never to be boring.

How did the Northeastern cradle-Catholics react to the rock-and-roll church? Were they surprised that church could be so cool? Were they delighted to hear a backbeat in the worship songs? Did they feel at ease around casual clothing?

No. Their response was simple: “That’s not church,” they said.

I figure they had expected something a little less like the rest of their lives.

The assault on motherhood in Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut

The shooter in Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, might have killed his own mother before allegedly killing 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school.

The killings were an assault on the very essence of motherhood.

A psychologist interviewed by NBC News anchor Brian Williams suggested that the shooter might have been trying to kill another part of his own mother — not just her body, but the children she cared for, too.

The shooter did further damage to motherhood at the elementary school. The female principal, already a type of mother figure for her school, was Mom to two children of her own and three step-children. She likely was one of the first to be killed during the assault, based on CNN reports about the structure of the building. Presumably after that, 20 mothers lost children.

What creates in a young man such a vicious hatred of motherhood?

Then, the shooter apparently killed himself, throwing the gift of life — the life his mother had given him — back into her lifeless face.

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Why the rich already pay their ‘fair share’ — or, what’s ‘fair’ to you?

I’m watching CNN’s program Your Bottom Line, and I have the TimeWarner DVR paused because I don’t believe my eyes.

In 2009, the top 5 percent of U.S. earners — those making $154,643 or more per year — paid 58.7 percent of the nation’s taxes, according to CNN with the Tax Foundation and the IRS as sources.

Better yet, the top 1 percent of U.S. earners — making $343,927 or more — paid 36.7 percent of the nation’s taxes, again, according to CNN with the Tax Foundation and the IRS as sources.

One percent of U.S. incomes provided more than 36 percent of the nation’s taxes. What does “fair” mean to you?

Really — what does “fair” look like?

Thank you, Will Cain!

‘We can’t argue with personal experience’

An excerpt from the recent Strange Days column:

“I’m sure this woman believes she is in touch with God when she speaks in tongues, and I’m sure she feels righteous in dismissing science. I’m not going to judge her faith or religious practice. I probably won’t ever have to converse with her or occupy the same space as her. Right now, somewhere else in the world, someone is rubbing a rabbit’s foot or reading a horoscope or begging a dead relative for rain — and these activities are equally meaningless to me and my obligations to my community and my family today.”

Read all of “See me, feel me.”

U.S. welfare never stopped growing