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September 25, 2014

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4 I The Lovell Chronicle I September 25, 2014 CHRONICLE OHS Are we heading for war yet again ? Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Slowly but surely the drums of war are sounding again. President Obama went before the United Nations Wednes- day morning to make his case for the world to unite and rise up against the aggression of the Islamic State, whose militants have murdered and raped their way across a large swath of the Middle East and whose leaders have also pledged to bring death and ter- ror to America directly. Our president who is most reluctant to wage war and who a few years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize for that stance now finds himself a wartime president, though he pledges to not place "boots on the ground" in the Middle East. Isn't this the way it always happens? An extremist despot leads an aggressive movement of some sort. At first the powers that be, reluctant to become engaged, try to pacify the leader (or leaders), but as the cries of the oppressed grow louder, nations are gradually drawn in. In the early days of World War II, European leaders attempted to work with, cut deals with and even appease Hitler, until he start- ed overrunning countries. Next come advisors and trainers, going hand in hand with air strikes and, seemingly inevitably, the introduction of ground forc- es. Sound like Vietnam? While in this day and age of polarization in Congress one par- ty would vote against the other on a bill declaring that the sky is blue, now is the time for unity of purpose if we are to defeat this latest, and perhaps greatest, threat, which the president Wednes- day called a "network of death." While President Obama was surely too slow in reacting to the situation in Syria and was wrong to pull out all American troops from Iraq, he now appears to be going about the grim task of going to war yet again in the proper way, building a coalition of nations including several Middle Eastem states. Air strikes alone cannot and will not defeat the Islamic State, so it will, indeed, take "boots on the ground" to win the war. Whether it will take Ameri- cans filling thousands of those boots remains to be seen, and it is maddening that Islamic states in the region are not taking the lead when it is their own people whose lives are most immediate- ly threatened. Will we, as human beings, ever get past killing each other in the name of religion or power?. Obama condemned the latest vio- lence Wednesday, saying, "America stands for something differ- ent" than simply taking over huge swaths of land and killing thou- sands of people in the process. He is right, of course, but how we go about exerting our own power in the region may, in the course of time, determine wheth- er we keep repeating the cycle of violence and war over and over again. Perhaps President Teddy Roosevelt had the right approach with his principle whereby the USA would "speak soltly and carry a big stick." In this age, like others, bullies respect strength, and the USA is among the few nations strong enough to repel the bullies, but the key to the future is a respect for human rights. Only when humans can move beyond exerting their will through sheer force can we hope to stop the never-ending cycle of war. Maybe we'll get it right this time and, once the war is over, somehow convince various factions to work together. But that would mean overcoming two of the most powerful emotions: rage and hate. If only... --David Peck The Lovell Chronicle welcomes letters from its readers and will make every effort to print them. Letters longer than 400 words may not be printed. Letters must be signed and include the address and telephone number of the writer. Unsigned letters will be discarded. Writers are limited to two letters in any 30 day period.All letters must conform to the law of libel and be in good taste. They may be mailed to The Lovell Chronicle, Box 787, Lovell, WY 82431, or delivered to our office at 234 E. Main St., Lovell. A strict 1:00 p.m. Tuesday deadline will be enforced. PON'TTHE PARENTS GET IT? YOU CAN'T PLAY ALL THIIR KIPS ALL NIXT YIAR, lA COACHIN'FORAH ORPHANA60000 i:i:i:!:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i iii ii iii!i!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiil iil ii iiiiiiiiiiii!iiilUiiiiii!iii!i iil ii iii!!ii!i!!i!iii!i!iii!i!ili!i!i !i! !i :!:!:!:i:i:i:i:i:!:i:i:i:!:i:i:i:i :i: : Ch00000000ging American history, one movie at a time It is time to pick new textbooks in Texas, and the big publishing companies are hawking their newest works. Every five years, the Texas State Board of Ed- ucation selects textbooks to be used in all schools across the state. Given the size of Texas' student population, the winning books reap enormous profits for their publishers. Competition for the American gov- ernment selection for grades six to 12 is particularly stiff, but several publishers decided to give themselves an edge by playing to the board's well-known con- servative religious leanings. Some even linked the founding of the United States' government to Moses! Here are two claims: McGraw-Hill's entry states that Moses's "idea of a covenant ... influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure." Pearson Education submitted a book containing a "Biography of Moses" that likens the Ten Com- mandments to the U.S. Constitution. "Moses helped establish a legal system, includ- ing the Ten Commandments, to govern his people" the book says. "Similarly, the founders of the Unit- ed States wrote the Constitution and established a system of laws to govern Americans." A group of 10 academics working for the Texas Freedom Network indicates the problems with giv- ing Moses credit for these ideas. Their main point, and one that has been known since America's found- ing, is that the writers of America's Constitution were influenced by Enlightenment principles rather than Scripture. The misrepresentation in the McGraw-Hill work is that our country's "constitutional structure" is ac- tually based upon John Locke's idea of social con- tract, which was an idea set in explicit opposition to the biblical covenant. Pearson's howler is that the U.S. founders cre- ated a republic, rather than the monarchy put forth in Moses's laws. In fact, the founders were explicit- ly "reacting against several of the crucial elements of the moral, legal and political tradition associated with Moses and the Ten Commandments." One ele- ment was, of course, the divine right of kings to rule their subjects. The notion that Moses provides anything more specific to American government than a desire for good governance is unfounded. So, why is he show- ing up in these textbooks? Well, we can thank Hollywood. The link be- tween Moses and America was most profoundly por- Paul V.M. Flesher Religion Today trayed in that 1956 film "The Ten Com- mandments" directed by Cecil B. DeMille, with Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Rameses. As Bob Torry and I demonstrated in our 2007 book "Film and Religion" De- Mille's blockbuster infuses the Ten Com- mandments and the Jewish Law with a decidedly Christian character. Despite the tablets, God says that the Law is most importantly written on the Israel- ires' "hearts and minds." This spiritual- ization of the Law likens it to the work of the Holy Spirit in Christianity, which en- ables inner transformation. In turn, the Jews of the Exodus become the model for the future Christians. But DeMille takes a further step. His Israelites are not just future Christians, but Americans, as well. In the pressure cooker of the Cold War, this mid-'50s film explicitly links Moses' followers with the United States and the Egyptian enemy with the Soviet Union. And, in case the film's symbolism was not clear enough, DeMille himself comes on stage before the start and states that this is a story of how God's "Law of Freedom" opposes tyranny and that "this same battle continues throughout the world today." Audiences lapped it up. "The Ten Command- ments" became not only a wildly successful movie, but it placed the Cold War into a cosmic scenario in which God sided with America against the godless Communists. Moses' founding of the Hebrew nation through the giving of the Law, as portrayed by DeMille, formed the model for the foundation of the Unit- ed States of America. The tensions of the Cold War were allayed by the firm conviction among many Americans that we were in the right and God was on our side. God guided this nation, just as He guid- ed Moses and the ancient Israelites. DeMille's filmic reinterpretation of the Exodus set the rhetorical ba- sis for linking America's founding to Moses found in these textbooks. Credits: Texas Freedom Network, "Writing to the Standards" www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/FI- NAL executivesummary.pdf?, docID=4625. Paul V.M. Flesher and Robert Torry, "Film and Religion: An Introduction" (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007) Flesher is a professor in the University of Wy- oming's Religious Studies Department. Past col- umns and more information about the program can be found on the web at www.uwyo.edu/RelStds. To comment on this column, visit http: / /religion-today. blogspot.com. USPS321.060 234 E, Main, Lovell, Wyoming 82431 307.548.2217, FAX 307.548.2218 Emaih lcnews@tctwest,net David Peck, Editor and Publisher Editor ................................................................................. DavidPeck Reporter ........................................................................ Patti Carpenter Production Manager ........................................................... Pat Palmer Staff ................................................. 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