Sunday, September 24, 2017
We saw the film The Big Sick recently and really enjoyed it. It is based on the real-life story of Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner get together for a one-night stand but can't convince themselves to leave it at that, try as they might. They fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, and to challenge his family's expectations.
I liked this film even though in the first few minutes it resonated so strongly with the acclaimed Netflix series, Master of None. It revolves around Dev Shah, an Indo-American actor, who along the way has a Caucasian girlfriend. Dev is played by Aziz Ansari who just won an Emmy with Lena Waithe for their script writing.
In both the film and the series these young men deal with family expectations brought by their parents from their homelands. These include religion, which in both circumstances is Muslim. Both are expected to pray and both end up conceding that their religious observances aren't honest. They have been given the opportunity to flourish in the United States, but that includes the possibility that they will reject customs such as arranged marriage, avoiding alcohol, and regular prayer.
Of course this is the tension faced by many families in different religions, including Christianity. Lots of Millennials have chosen to walk away from church except for high holidays and "hatch, match, and dispatch" occasions. Not long ago evangelicals were somewhat smug about retaining their young people when mainliners had already slipped out the exits. Now their young people are exiting in growing numbers and this is true in both Canada and the United States.
I appreciate the honesty of The Big Sick and Master of None. I wish that congregations could have more realistic conversations about this societal shift, instead of acting as though there are some magic beans we can plant to grow a fresh crop of young'uns.
Have you watched either of these? Why are we so reluctant in families and faith communities to have conversations about a generational shift in religious beliefs?
Today Germans go to the polls and there is a strong possibility that Angela Merkel, the chancellor for the past twelve years will be re-elected. For a time this didn't seem possible because of the national grumpiness over the Christian Democrats' decision to allow upwards of a million migrants and refugees into the country over a relatively short period of time. Her party paid attention to the backlash and has developed more restrictive immigration policies, but it was an extraordinary response to a real and continuing crisis.
Angela Merkel has demonstrated a remarkably even leadership style which has made her arguably the most powerful woman in the world and someone with a moral compass which is woefully absent in the supposed role of leader of the free world to the south of us.
Some of this comes from her upbringing in a Christian family where her father was a pastor and seminary director, although he was emotionally and physically distant enough that she credits her mother as a strong early influence. They lived in what was East Germany until reunification in the early 90's and while her father became disaffected with communist rule he looked to the bible as source for his strong socialist convictions. He actually moved the family across the Iron Curtain with a mission to build a distinctly East German Protestantism but to separate state and church — rendering, as the scriptures taught, to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. I encourage you to read this article from the Washington Post to gain insight into the roots of Merkel's social conscience.
We can all pray for the outcome of today's election, knowing that the anti-immigration right may get a foothold in Germany. We can ask God to bless Merkel who was born in 1954, the same year as me, and she ain't ready to retire?!
What do you think of Angela Merkel? Were you aware of her religious background? Are you hoping she will be re-elected?
Saturday, September 23, 2017
It was impressive when the adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale won a bunch of Emmys at the television awards ceremony last weekend. And there was the Grande Dame of Canadian fiction, in the flesh, receiving a Standing O, no less. The world loved that she hauled her purse on stage to receive the award. She may be a rock star in the world of literature and television, but she is also a sensible Canadian senior!
You might think that Ms Atwood doesn't have much use for 'ligion, given the dystopian nature of The Handmaid's Tale. Actually, she has taken part in forums where she acknowledges the value of religion for positive change in the world, including on the environmental/Creation care front. In a United Church Observer piece a few years ago she describes, humorously, her insistence on going to a United Church Sunday School as a kid, and how she won an essay contest on temperance as a nine-year-old. We may have helped to nurture her literary greatness. In the article she ponders:
In fact, when one looks back in time, one realizes it is only very recently that religion — specifically the Christian religion — came unglued from nature and turned away from it. Many other religions never broke that bond. In the Qur’an, animals are to be respected and are credited with having societies equal to ours. Buddhists and Hindus, the Shinto of Japan and the Parsis of India all maintain quite strong links to the old ties. What happened in the West?
She does have what has been described in The New Yorker as an "oracular sheen" regarding the perils of fundamentalist religion, of any stripe.
I'm retired now, so I've lost the opportunity to do a book study that could have included The Handmaid's Tale and After the Flood. Ah well. I do have more time for personal reading these days.
Here are a couple more worthwhile interviews, including one with Atwood singing a hymn she wrote for one of her novels.
What are your observations on Dame Maggie of TO? Have you read or watched THT? Were you aware of her UCC roots?
Friday, September 22, 2017
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye,
but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother,
Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;
and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Matthew 7:3-5 King James Version
After the president of the United States addressed the United Nations and threatened to retaliate against possible North Korean aggression by killing millions of innocent civilians the prime minister of Canada had nowhere to go but up when he spoke to the assembly yesterday.
Justin Trudeau addressed a number of issues including climate change, and global unity, but did so briefly compared to his focus on aboriginal issues in our country. While this is a Canadian issue and a national shame, he decided to acknowledge our failings in this international forum and promise to work toward positive change. Here is the Globe and Mail report on the speech:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his address at the United Nations General Assembly to shine a light on a dark chapter of Canadian history: the story of Canada's Indigenous peoples and their challenging relationship with the government.
Speaking to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Mr. Trudeau described the struggles Canada's Indigenous peoples have faced since colonialism through today. He emphasized the government's responsibility to improve that relationship, saying the world has a similar duty to respond to global challenges.
"For First Nations, Metis Nation and Inuit peoples in Canada, those early colonial relationships were not about strength through diversity, or a celebration of differences," Mr. Trudeau told the UN.
I am one Canadian who is pleased that Trudeau put this subject at the forefront of his speech. I'm also intrigued that his recent cabinet shuffle has assigned two capable ministers to the issues of indigenous peoples in this country. I think this is an encouraging strategy. At the same time I'm concerned that there seems to be a lot of high-minded talk without substantive action halfway through the mandate of this Liberal government.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a shambles, with key members quitting and frustration expressed by others in leadership. The families of those missing persons are frustrated that they aren't being consulted and the whole process seems to be teetering on collapse. Educational funding for First Nations children isn't being adequately addressed, nor is safe water supplies for reserves. It does appear that systemic racism toward Native people exists in police forces and in our justice system We need to hear more, but more importantly to see more from the feds.
Trudeau actually got King James biblical in the press conference following his speech. He said that Canada must acknowledge the beam in its own eye rather than pointing to the motes in the eyes of other nations. Perhaps as a self-proclaimed feminist he could have used a more inclusive version, but we get the point.
Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau for addressing this before the United Nations. As a Canadian citizen and as a member of a denomination, the United Church, which was sadly complicit in the destruction of First Nations culture, I want more. Please walk the walk as well as talking the talk. None of us should be hypocrites when it comes to equality for Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Peter Munk is a Canadian who made a fortune in gold mining and is now a philanthropist. This week he made the extraordinary donation of $100 million to a cancer centre in Toronto, a gift which will exceed the $75 million he has already contributed to this centre and other charitable organizations. Munk made a heartfelt speech at the presentation during which he thanked Canada for the welcome and opportunity provided to his family in the 1940's when they emigrated from Hungary:
“When you thank me for what I’ve done for Toronto, and you thank me for what I can do for this community, it doesn’t begin to express my immense gratitude for what this country has done for me and my family.You opened the door. You gave us everything,”
Most of us aren't able to recall that some in Canada were reluctant to accept post WWII Hungarian immigrants, particularly in the 1950's because they were essentially political refugees, fleeing the Soviets after the 1956 revolt. What if they brought their conflict with them? I don't know why the Munk family left Hungary, but they have prospered here and given back.
In the past few days we've also been hearing again about a Syrian refugee family, the Hadhads, who have become established in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. They lost their home and their family business,a chocolate factory, was destroyed before they fled to a refugee camp and eventually to Canada. Their sponsoring community helped them to open a small chocolate shop and now they have expanded into new facilities, the reason for the renewed interest. They are now employing locals and hope to expand from ten to twenty workers.
They are bonafide taxpayers in Canada, and they made a contribution to the relief funds for those affected by the Fort McMurray fire last year. And they came up with a fabulous name for their enterprise, Peace by Chocolate!
I've mentioned that some of the families sponsored in our area have already established small businesses and a couple is selling up a storm at the Belleville Farmer's Market.
These are wonderful stories of the importance of immigrants to our economy, but also to how we create our national fabric. In a time when exclusive nationalism is on the rise in many parts of the world we can resist the fear of the stranger which is a blight in every generation. We can celebrate the gift of hospitality, which is an important part of many faith traditions, including Christianity.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 NRSV
Over the summer the reports about the discoveries of dead North Atlantic Right whales -- at least a dozen -- have been disturbing. There are only about 500 Right whales left, making them a far more endangered species than elephants and other large mammals. These whales are struck by passing ships or become entangled in fishing gear and drown.
Efforts to disentangle these rather inelegant yet magnificent creatures were halted when an experienced responder was killed inadvertently by a tail strike from a whale he had just freed. Canadian lobster fisherman Joe Howlett had worked closely with Department of Fisheries and Oceans in freeing entangled whales. He had just cut the second deadly line when the whale flipped it's tail to dive, killing him instantly. As a result, both the Canadian and American governments decided to ban rescues as too dangerous, which means that there may be more whale deaths.
Howlett would likely have been dismayed to learn that his death would have a negative outcome for the cetaceans he worked to free. I certainly consider him a hero who died doing what he was passionate about, saving whales from the effects of human activity.
When Jesus told his disciples that there is no greater love than giving up one's life for a friend he was aware of his own impending death on the cross but he was also speaking of the sacrificial love we demonstrate for others. Jesus doesn't define friendship and we can ask who are friends might be. While he was in conversation with followers who had spent the past three years with him, we appreciate that friendship isn't so narrowly defined. Individuals step forward give blood or to donate a kidney to save the life of a total stranger. Soldiers are injured or die in conflicts for the sake of others they don't know, as is the case with first responders.
Can we have interspecies "friends?" Is it appropriate to consider Jesus' words in terms of creatures other than humans? What about the notion of sacrificial love for critters?
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
US president Donald Trump is consistent. He consistently demonstrates his incompetence and lack of fitness to govern his own nation and to act as a statesman in the international arena. Today he addressed the United Nations, an institution he has mocked in the past, and threatened to annihilate millions of innocent people. He was addressing the grave threat posed by Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime, which now has the capability of deploying nuclear weapons. Yet rather that than taking the reasonable route of inviting an international response to the Korean dictator he promised to destroy 25 million people should weapons of mass destruction be used. With one hyperbolic sentence Trump proved he is no more to be trusted than unstable Kim.
Trump's speechwriter also put these words in the president's mouth "If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph." This will undoubtedly play well with the religious right in America, the angry white folk who pay lip service to Jesus while adoring Trump's belligerence, xenophobia, and "us first" nationalism.
Of course, there is evil in this world, and as Christians we are expected to be discerning about the principalities and powers. But making brash statements claiming righteousness while threatening to unleash nuclear hell doesn't convince me of anything, other than that the president is a dangerous man.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador
The Saturday Globe and Mail included a lengthy article about what our probably the last days of a Newfoundland outport community called Little Bay Islands. There are only 38 aging year-round residents and 20 households left on what was once a thriving island community. In another day there were 600 residents and three churches. The fish plant has closed, there aren't enough children to sustain a school, and folk have to travel a couple of hours, including the ferry trip, for medical care and groceries. The government is proposing a $250,000+ per household buy-out for residents so that it can end expensive services to a dying community, as is the case with other isolated locations. It's likely that a vote by residents will accept the offer. https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/newfoundland-outports-relocation/article36275746/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com
This piece touched us because we lived in outport Newfoundland at the beginning of my ministry. We were there as the cod fishery was failing. Today the five communities I served are struggling and two of the churches have closed. We went back this summer after I retired, a return to our ministry roots. We spent a month on Change Islands, not far from where we had lived, and where our son was born. Frederickton, on the map below, is one of the outports I served.
We love the wild beauty of Change Islands but there are only two hundred permanent residents left and people are aware that there isn't much of a future for the aging community they would be loathe to leave. The local librarian is mother of two of the ten school-age kids and she and her husband plan to leave for better employment and opportunities for their children.
It's crazy that there are still four churches on Change Islands (Anglican, United, Pentecostal, and Salvation Army) and all of them are struggling for survival. St. Margaret's Anglican (above) celebrated the 125th anniversary while we were there. There were nearly 200 people at the celebration dinner, which we attended, and the church was full the next morning. But on most Sundays the congregation numbers a dozen or so, at best.
We may figure that this is just the sign of the times, yet there is a powerful sense of place to these communities which no longer exists in so many mainland cities and towns and villages. When they cease to exist, including the faith communities, something significant will be lost to Canadian culture. The Anglican bishop did offer a thoughtful and hopeful message about a new way of living the gospel at the anniversary service. We'll pray that God is in the midst of this time of transition.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
The venerable CBC radio science show, Quirks and Quarks, is nearly always worth a listen on Saturdays. It is aptly named because earnest and sometimes quirky guests are interviewed about science subjects which can be mind-blowing or mind-numbing, at least to me. I often don't have a clue what these scientific nerds/geniuses are describing, but that's okay. The show pushes me to ponder what is going on in the essential realms of physics and biology and astronomy and engineering.
Yesterday we heard from a couple of experts on nuclear weapons and they're effects. One speculated that one of the missiles developed by the mad-scientist team of Kim Jong Ill-in-the-Mind of North Korea may already be capable of reaching major American cities, which means Canadian cities as well. Canada is perceived as a benign nation by North Korea, but that doesn't mean that these guys can shoot straight. It wouldn't matter anyway. Another expert advised that if we got into even a modest nuclear pissing match the effects would be so catastrophic that we would all freeze or starve to death.
Chilling. As I listened it occurred to me that we are a wildly destructive species with no real will to curb our violent ways. We can speculate whether the Hermit Kingdom has developed a hydrogen bomb capable of striking the US, and whether the wing-nut in charge would use it. But folks, there is a sizeable nuclear club of eight and the United States and the Russian Federation have developed about 125,000 warheads through the years, although that number has diminished dramatically through treaties. Canada is one of the nations that has the technological skill to develop nuclear weapons but has chosen not to do so. The Americans told us this week that they wouldn't defend us if we were attacked by North Korea, which may or may not be true.
We don't like using the language of sin much anymore, because we got tired of sin being defined as individual moral failings, most of them associated with sexuality. I'm inclined to say that there is a lot that is immoral in our individual lives, but perhaps we've focused on the "motes" rather than the "logs," to use Jesus' imagery. The fact that we have expended so much scientific prowess and financial resources to figure out how to destroy every living thing on the planet a gajillion times over tells me that we are a sinful bunch.
So, this isn't just about science or politics or both. This is a deeply moral issue and it's important for us to keep up the God talk. I'm certain Jesus is agin nuclear weapons and wants us to repent of our warring ways. Those who live by the H-bomb die by the H-bomb Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, or words to that effect. I better keep listening to Quirks and Quarks and offering the occasional quirky theological perspective.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
5 saying, ‘When will the new moon be over
so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath,
so that we may offer wheat for sale?...
11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.
It was heart-breaking to read that eight senior citizens died in their assisted living home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida. It wasn't the storm that killed them, nor floodwaters, but the heat when the electrical power failed and there was no air-conditioning. Millions were without electricity and more than a hundred nursing homes and residences were either evacuated or being monitored by authorities. We also saw Houston seniors sitting in water up to their waists, waiting for someone to save them.
This situation hit home in a personal way because my grandfather lived out his last days in a Florida nursing home. He's been gone for a couple of decades but what if this had happened to him. My mother is now is a nursing home and so frail she can't move about without assistance. How could we respond if there was a catastrophic event such as Irma? What if we couldn't reach her to provide help? We might claim it couldn't happen here, but with changing weather patterns all previous assumptions no longer apply.
What we are seeing with both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is that the poor and the frail suffer most. There was a state-wide evacuation order in Florida, but many did not have the financial means to simply pick up and leave. They couldn't afford gas or a place to stay. Now we're hearing that those same people are facing eviction from their damaged apartments and homes, and they have no income because businesses are closed. This is in the United States, the wealthiest nation on the planet. Consider the millions in Bangladesh and India who have been displaced by floods, or the people on Caribbean islands whose homes and communities have been destroyed.
We saw the photos of billionaire Richard Branson with his family and team, hunkered down in his wine cellar playing games as Irma was about to hit his personal Caribbean island. Obviously Branson couldn't do much for others in the path of such a powerful hurricane. Yet there is something of a "let them eat cake" feel to a very wealthy man cheerily riding out the storm while others have nowhere to hide.
And of course the climate-change denying president of the United States was not at his luxury golf course in Florida when Irma hit. Nor was the execrable Rush Limbaugh who claimed that the hurricane warnings were left-wing alarmism, then fled his Florida home for safer ground.
What is happening to our planetary home will affect every living creature, including both rich and poor humans, the powerful and the frail. But the wealthy will find ways to mitigate the effect of changing climate for themselves. It is the equivalent of a gated community where the privileged few live with protection against the rabble.
As Christians we must appreciate that along with the obvious destruction of the complex and precious systems which sustain life this is a matter of justice for the marginalized. When we read the prophets they often use environmental imagery to describe God's disfavour with the injustices of income disparity and the trampling of the needy. Jesus also warned about this kind of injustice and his message of God's love for the "least of these."
What are your thoughts about what has unfolded?
Thursday, September 14, 2017
I became surprisingly emotional when I saw the Toronto Star piece written by Rabbi Emeritus Dow Murmur earlier this week on September 11th, the anniversary of the world-changing attacks in New York City, Washington DC, and on a plane which crashed in Pennsylvania. It was about Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest who was an activist in South Africa during the apartheid era. He became a member of the African National Congress and came to see himself as a militant freedom fighter. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/09/11/blast-victim-illuminates-a-path-to-healing-hatred.html
So did the South African government, and Lapsley fled first to Lesotho, then to Zimbabwe. The first time I heard Lapsley was in the late 1980's when he spoke to a group of us in Sudbury, Ontario, where I was serving in ministry. My family had been opposed to apartheid since my childhood, boycotting products from South Africa. I was fascinated by Lapsley's story. Then in 1990 he was nearly killed by a letter bomb which arrived at his home in Zimbabwe. Even though Nelson Mandela had recently been released, South African secret police continued to target "enemies of the state." The force of the blast actually lifted the roof of the house and he lost an eye and both hands.
Lapsley returned to Sudbury a couple of years later to speak again. I sat across the table from him over a meal, trying not to stare at the eye-patch, the facial scars, the prosthetic hooks where his hands had been. Twenty five years ago I was the parent of young children. I wondered how far my faith and convictions would take me for any cause other than my family.
Today Lapsley continues to be passionate on behalf of the oppressed, yet his personal tragedy led him in a new direction :“If I were consumed by hatred, bitterness and a desire for revenge, I would be a victim forever. The oppressors would have failed to kill my body but they certainly would have killed my soul... I can be more of an example to others with my many human weaknesses than as a plaster saint who has overcome it all, free of distortions and contradictions.”
Today he works in an international enterprise committed to healing, with the goal of restoration rather than retribution. He has written a book called Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer. Our paths may never cross again, but perhaps I'll read the book. I continue to admire Michael greatly and his is an inspirational story.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.”
Mark 1:35-37 (NRSV)
It's 7:30 in the morning and through my open study window I hear the back-up beep of a vehicle, as well as some bumping around in the railway yard to the north of our suburban home. Cars are pulling out of our court as people leave for work and the public transit bus rambles by. Thankfully, I also hear a blue jay calling and a dog barking. We live in what could be described as a nice, quiet neighbourhood, but it is almost never really still.
When we were perched on an island in the North Atlantic for the month of July we were aware of the deep silence, particularly at night. On Change Islands we could hear the waves lapping on the shore in front of the house we rented, the wind in the trees, and even the sound of portions of icebergs collapsing into the sea. But we seldom heard much else, particularly in the evening and night and early morning, except for the crows and gulls. This "geophony" and "biophony" was a welcome respite from the "anthrophony", the human-made sounds which are our constant companions and make it difficult to "hear ourselves think."
If you've read this blog in the past you are aware of how important I feel it is to establish pools of quiet and tranquility in our lives in order to be attuned to God's voice and to listen to ourselves. We may think we tune out the noise of our busy culture but the scientific evidence reminds us that it affects us just the same.
Apparently this is National Quiet Day. I heard this from David Common, on CBC Radio this morning. He mentioned it after the news and gave us a couple of seconds of dead air to make the point, but he couldn't pause for too long. Here is a description of the event which appears to be focused in Britain:
Shhh! It’s National Quiet Day on Wednesday, September 14. Noise is everywhere, on a crowded train, in the busy office, in the pub, the school playground, and even at home. We simply can’t seem to get away from the buzz of everyday life. Sometimes it can just all be too much.We know that peace and quiet is good for the both the body and the mind, but it’s increasingly difficult in today’s world to experience real quiet, and that’s why the first ever National Quiet Day is so important.
Judy Edworthy, Professor of Applied Psychology at Plymouth University said: “Noise can be fatiguing, it can increase our stress levels, it can cause annoyance, it affects our ability to concentrate, and it can affect our whole body directly in ways which are not always obvious.”
So why not stop, take a little time for yourself, discover your inner Zen, and enjoy some sanctuary in silence on September 14, if even for just a moment. For more information on National Quiet Day, visit www.quietday.co.uk and follow #nationalquietday for updates on social media.
It goes on to note that the day is co-sponsored by Whirlpool appliances!
Do you find ways to swim out of the whirlpool of noise and enter into the quiet? Is quiet a luxury of the affluent?
Do you experience greater clarity and focus when there isn't a welter of human-made sounds impinging on your life? How about listening for the "still, small voice" of God? If it was important for Jesus...
While you're here, why not check out today's Groundling blog musings as well?
Friday, September 08, 2017
In this heart of mine, I'll find a place for you
For black or white, for grown-up children too
Now we're fighting in our hearts
Fighting in the streets
Won't somebody help me?
War war is stupid and people are stupid
And love means nothing in some strange quarters
War war is stupid and people are stupid
And I heard the banging of hearts and fingers
No more war
Say no more war
Yup folks, I just quoted Boy George the androgynous 80's pop star who is probably best known for hits Karma Chameleon and Do you Really Want to Hurt Me? Please feel free to hum them as you read this blog entry. His War Song wasn't exactly brilliant poetry but it did make a point with the refrain stating that war is destructive and pointless.
War really is stupid, don't you figure? This past week a bomb was discovered in Frankfurt, Germany which required the evacuation of 60,000 people from a large area of the city which included a hospital and nursing homes. Fortunately it was defused without incident. In the CBC article about this situation there are facts and figures which remind us of the lasting effects of conflict.
Over 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions are found each year in Germany, even under buildings. In July, a kindergarten was evacuated after teachers discovered an unexploded WW II bomb on a shelf among some toys. The country was pummelled by 1.5 million tonnes of bombs from British and American warplanes that killed 600,000 people. German officials estimate 15 per cent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six metres deep. Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 450-kilogram bomb.
This corroded vestige of the past should speak to us in the present. There is a maniacal despot in North Korea who appears bent on provoking war, and an American president who wants to be the tough guy in response. The international community should do everything possible to defuse this ominous threat. Diplomacy and prayer are vital.