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Ministering to all kinds of disasters

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By Alphonzo Lyons
Religion

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Three books that I have read recently have caused me to question, and have
some serious concerns about, the integrity of segments of Christianity and elements
of this great government of ours as they both interface with African-American
people in particular, and thus all people.

As G.K. Chesterton said, “We’re all in this boat together, and we all
get seasick together.”

“Dark Alliance,” written by Gary Webb, details the crack cocaine
epidemic in the United States in the 1980s and its rapid and insidious spread
through urban communities throughout America.

The author ties the wildfire diffusion of crack to the Reagan administration’s
efforts to stop the spread of communism in Central America by siding with the
anti-communist Contras against the pro-communist Sandinistas. Since the U.S.
Congress had cut off financial assistance for the Contras, income from crack
and other illicit drugs reportedly were endorsed by the Central Intelligence
Agency operatives as a means of financing anti-communist efforts.

The irony is that President Reagan announced the War on Drugs program and appointed
the first “drug czar,” Bill Bennett.

The religious implication: the destruction of the black family, the increased
imprisonment of men of color, the birth of an inordinate number of crack babies,
increased levels of despair in America and the world, and the accelerated demonization
of human lives.

The second book, “Tempting Faith,” was written by David Kuo, a Christian
who began as a Washington speech writer. Kuo ascended to be second in authority
with the White House’s Faith-Based Initiative program. Kuo asserts that while
“compassionate conservatism” was advertised by the present administration,
no effort was ever made to legitimately fund the White House initiative. Instead
of $20 billion being given to fund the program as was initially promised, the
program barely received $2 million from start to finish.

Kuo clearly states that the war in Iraq, with its colossal budget, did not
inhibit White House staffers from funding the program. Almost all grants were
distributed strictly along paths of party loyalty.

The author sees the initiative and its conferences in various cities throughout
the United States as a political tool to garner votes for a particular party.

The religious implication: “Why would you dangle the carrot-on-a-stick
to poor and religious people who are cash strapped, with no real intention of
ever delivering much at all?”, resulting in the destruction of families
and communities in deprived and depressed neighborhoods.

The third book, entitled “The New Pearl Harbor,” was written by David
Ray Griffin, a Christian and retired professor from Claremont Theological Seminary.
Griffin embraces process theology, modernity and postmodernity. Briefly, Griffin
suggests that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist twin-tower destruction was in fact
not a terrorist-led plot, but one engineered by American entities.

Griffin documents evidence that indicates that each of the hijacked airplanes
did not have the force to cause enough temperature to melt the respective towers
and an adjacent building. He claims New York firefighter witnesses say that
a series of purposefully charged implosions beginning below the ground floors
moving upward actually brought the buildings down.

The author suggests that a new Pearl Harbor was sought as a rallying force
to unite the country.

Religious implication: Griffin requests that Christians reassess and reinvestigate
this painfully tragic event. How valuable is human life when it comes to achieving
our goals and objectives of which money and power are major?

I wrote none of these books. I just read them. Perhaps they are inflammatory
fairy tales that have wrought much damage. Perhaps, they contain major threads
of truth.

Nature itself causes enough natural disasters; man doesn’t need to make them,
just minister to them.

The Rev. ALPHONSO LYONS is pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, 305 S.
Madison Park Terrace, Peoria. You can write to him in care of the Journal Star,
1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, send a fax to 686-3296 or send e-mail to fv@pjstar.com.