Agreement is a step away from specter of conflict, towards possibility of peace. This is the good deal we have sought pic.twitter.com/JY9YSZrPQs
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 14, 2015
The so-called Iran nuclear deal is a good deal. For years I have retweeted President Netanyahu‘s calls for tougher negotiations. He is still not content but I am. Here is why:
Time: In almost all provisions the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will be in effective for at least ten years. While some critics call that too short let’s be honest: What in life last longer than ten years? Just compare your own life to where you were ten years ago. In my estimation that is a significant amount of time.
Inspections: They will be ubiquitous and very thorough. Hiding a nuclear arms program will no longer be possible.
Sanctions: Lifting sanctions at the front end instead after good behavior is a classic carrot and stick approach: You behave, you can keep your carrots but once you start cheating we will get the stick out again in no time. That builds positive incentives.
Use of force: If all fails the international community now actually has a tool in its hand that allows for military action. Judging from the experience with Iraq and its non-compliance in the years leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom it seems wise to have that stick available. Should inspections not be satisfactory Annex I, para. 78 states:
“If the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities
inconsistent with the JCPOA cannot be verified after the implementation of the
alternative arrangements agreed by Iran and the IAEA, or if the two sides are
unable to reach satisfactory arrangements to verify the absence of undeclared
nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the
specified locations within 14 days of the IAEA’s original request for access, Iran,
in consultation with the members of the Joint Commission, would resolve the
IAEA’s concerns through necessary means agreed between Iran and the IAEA. In
the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission, by consensus
or by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members, would advise on the necessary means
to resolve the IAEA’s concerns. The process of consultation with, and any action
by, the members of the Joint Commission would not exceed 7 days, and Iran
would implement the necessary means within 3 additional days.”
Politics: Now the real good news is in the composition of the Joint Commission: Outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action every step would require the UN security council to come to an agreement that would not be vetoed by China or Russia. According to Annex IV, para. 1.2:
“The Joint Commission is comprised of representatives of Iran and the E3/EU+3
(China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United
States, with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security
Policy), together, the JCPOA participants.”
That means in order to establish non-compliance it only takes an agreement between the EU, France, Germany, UK and US. This majority is what makes me most confident in the JCPOA.
You can find all the documents of the agreement with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and SecurityPolicy.
Healing in American Christianity has a somewhat bitter flavor in my mind. The stereotypical TV preacher was perfectly depicted and ridiculed by Genesis in their 1991 music video “Jesus he knows me”. A sad affair where show and business mingle. That said there is room for healing services in the church. The United Church of Christ even has an Order for Healing for Congregational Use. Our next healing service will be held on August 9, 2015. Here is an introduction, taken from the Book of Worship with a local Rosenberg twist:
Services of healing have a biblical heritage appropriate for the full life of a local church. Anointing and the laying on of hands are acts closely related to the covenant of faithful love between God and Israel and between God and the church. In scripture, monarchs are anointed, prophets commissioned, the Holy Spirit conferred, the sick healed, and the dead raised in acts of faith accompanied by anointing with oil, the laying on of hands, or touch in another form. The symbolism of touch has survived almost universally among churches in the laying on of hands at confirmation and ordination. The power of touch in healing is finding renewed acceptance as is the unity of the total person.
In the New Testament, faith, forgiveness of sins, and healing are frequently inseparable but distinct aspects of one experience. Out of mercy and compassion, God works to bring about reconciliation that restores peace between God and humanity, among individuals and communities, within each person, and between humankind and the creation. Guilt, anxiety, fear, broken relationships, and the loneliness of alienation all contribute to human sickness. Healing, in the Christian sense, is the reintegration of body, mind, emotions, and spirit that permits people, in community, to live life fully in a creation honored by prudent and respectful use.
In this healing service, four themes are intertwined: God’s word, growth in faith, forgiveness of sin, human touch.
At St. John’s United Church of Christ our healing service is part of Holy Communion: Together with the confession of sin and the assurance of pardon the whole person is strengthened to approach the Lord’s table with a sense of integrity.
In scripture, God’s word reassures us of the Creator’s love and compassion. Jesus’ acts of healing, the healing ministry of the New Testament church, and contemporary experiences of healing all testify to the health and fullness God makes possible in human life.
Faith in the inclusive sense of trust and belief in God’s unmerited goodness is an integral cornerstone of the New Testament understanding of healing. Individuals and communities of believers nurture each other in their mutual growth in faith. God does not promise that we will be spared suffering, but does promise to be with us in our suffering. Trusting that promise, we are enabled to bear the unbearable and recognize God’s sustaining nearness in pain, in sickness, and in injury.
Forgiveness of sin is often closely associated with healing in the New Testament. The connection of forgiveness and healing affirms the psychosomatic unity of individuals recognized by modern health sciences. It admits the importance of openness and honesty to every relationship of love. It sets health in the context of relationships restored by confession and forgiveness.
In the New Testament, touch plays a central role in the healing ministry. The power of touch is recognized, whether in the anointing with oil, the laying on of hands, or the less formal gesture of holding someone’s hand or touching a wound. Jesus frequently touched others: blessing children, washing feet, healing injuries or disease, and raising people from death. Jesus also allowed himself to be touched, washed, embraced, anointed. To allow oneself to be touched is an act of openness. To touch another is an act of acceptance in which a person transfers something of oneself to another: love, affection, protection, strength, power, acceptance. Touch in the healing ministry embodies the embrace of God for the redeemed creation when in the mystery of last things God will make all things new.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be once again invited to lead the Rosenberg City Council in a prayer of invocation tonight. As always you have a full agenda and tonight you are making two presentations that I want to reflect on for a moment: Our Lady of Guadelupe Catholic Church is being recognized for the beautification of their property and the month of July is recognized as Parks and Recreation month in the City of Rosenberg. The Bishop of Rome just a few weeks ago released his ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ celebrating the beauty of mother Earth in a similar attempt. Let me share the first couple of paragraphs with y’all and then lead into Francis’ prayer that can be found at the end of his encyclical ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME:
1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Remembering our beautiful city parks that survived recent flooding and celebrating America’s independence with a fun filled evening at Seabourne Creek Park, let us pray:
“All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.”
“Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.”
In his dissent to the Supreme Court Decision to establish marriage equality in the entire United States, Justice Thomas quotes the Declaration of Independence. How, from that quote he comes to opposing equality is beyond me and the majority of the people in this country as well as its Supreme Court Justices.
I have made it my habit to read the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. Usually this old document has something to say that is relevant today:
In 2012 pushing for immigration
In 2014 keeping Texas clean.
In 2015 celebrating marriage equality.
What exactly are those rights again that all men are equally created with?
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness!
Who are those men that were created equally?
“Men” have been substantially redefined since 1776: The term now is understood to mean women and people of color as well.
How does one pursue happiness?
Marriage is one way in which my wife and I pursue happiness. All Americans have had that right since 1776.
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