Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review: Kabul24 by Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson

In August 2001 the Taliban kidnapped Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer after a gathering in an Afghan home where they’d been invited as guests, then betrayed by their hosts.  For the next 48 hours, the Taliban unleashed their fury on the offices of Shelter Now International (SNI) imprisoning a total of eight western aid workers and sixteen of their Afghan colleagues.  The harrowing 105-day ordeal of the Kabul24 was just beginning.

Henry O. Arnold and Ben Pearson present the real story behind the CNN headlines.   Told primarily through the experiences of Georg Taubmann, director of the Kabul branch of SNI, the authors recount the hostages’ betrayal, increasingly hellish imprisonment, and miraculous escape.  

I stayed up reading Kabul24 late into the night.  This story fascinates with its details regarding the cultural and political climate in Afghanistan during the dictatorship of the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies. It inspires as the hostages support each other and live out their faith: sharing food and medicine with their fellow prisoners, refusing to harm anyone to gain their release, composing songs of praise in the midst of deplorable conditions.

A movie, based on their story, is available for purchase at

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Howling Heart - Monday Manna

"Monday Manna," is hosted by Joanne Sher at An Open Book.  Visit her blog for links to more meditations on Exodus 14:14.

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Right now life is going pretty smoothly. Today anyway.  Yet, when I'm knee-deep in troubles I have to remind myself that, over and over again, scripture tells me to "Fear not."  Moses and the Israelites knew a thing or two about fear and the context for today’s verse is found in the Exodus narrative. Passover joy has turned to terror.  The Israelites are backed up against the sea. As Pharaoh’s chariots close in, Moses tells the Israelites--

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.  [Exodus 14:14 NIV]
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My Howling Heart

Forgive me Lord for freaking out
When I turn my face toward trouble and my back on blessing
I see attackers closing in and miss the waters opening up
My secret heart fears that you will not fulfill the promises you made to me 
In my captivity

Forgive me Lord for complaining
When I slap at your face in the wilderness
I grieve familiar shackles; flinch from fresh freedom
When I fight with you; when my fight is not with you 
You fight for me

Forgive me Lord for moving
My mouth
My lips
My tongue
Quiet my howling heart and turn my feet toward the promised land
As chariots tumble in the sea

Friday, September 18, 2009

One of the Good Guys

It's a conversation I'd hoped we'd be able to avoid until he was older.  But television commercials, playground talk, and the natural curiosity of a 4-year-old forced my hand.  Last week we began addressing one of the mysteries of life.

Is Anakin Skywalker a good guy or a bad guy?

When I was a kid (and I love saying that) life was simpler.  Darth Vader was bad. Period.  Sure, Luke ultimately saved him from the Emperor and they were reunited as a redeemed father and son.  But Vader was the villain.

Then along came episodes 1-3.  We see Anakin grow from a cute little boy into a lovesick teenager into a vengeful Jedi.  He's the hero--albeit a doomed one-- and Anakin doesn't become Vader until the very end of chapter 3.  As an adult I can appreciate the epic story cycle. I understand the complexities of character and the symbolism of fall and redemption.

D doesn't care about complexity and he hasn't seen any of the movies. He just wants to know where Anakin stands. When it comes time to play pretend with his buddies, he wants to play one of the good guys.

I pray that both of my sons always want to be the good guys.  I love their gentle hearts and desire to do good and be the heroes.

So last week, I punted.  Anakin starts out good, but he turns into a bad guy later.  We moved on to Obi-wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Safe territory.

Satisfied for now, D's moved on to Transformers, a show that debuted after I'd graduated from high school.  I guess that's a subject we'll study together.