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March 28, 2007

How Does a Nation Repent?

PBS's NOW ran an incredible piece last week about a delegation of thoughtful American religious leaders who went to Iran to talk with Iranians, particularly Iranian religious leaders.  One of the American women, dressed very modestly in a traditional chador as were all the women, said this was the first time any Americans had gone to Iran to just listen and try to understand what the Iranians were doing and why they were doingit. 

The show was pretty inspiring in itself.  Producer Jamila Paksima, who was born in Iran, went with a group of American spiritual leaders who included folks from the National Council of Churches, the Mennonite Church, the American Friends, the Episcopal Church, Sojourners, United Methodist Church and Pax Christi USA.  From the PBS website on the show:

The 13-member team met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, top officials in the government, and several of the ayatollahs who have a powerful influence on government policy. They were there to have dialogue about issues as nuclear proliferation, the Iraq war, and the holocaust. 

"When political leaders mess up, religious leaders ought to be here to go and build up the people, build up relationships, and bring the conversation up the high moral ground," said one of the U.S. delegates, Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, who represented Episcopalians, Methodists, Evangelicals and dozens of other denominations.

One of the American men, while riding on a bus, asked the question that has haunted me for all this time of the war.  "How does a nation repent?"  How does a nation, and clearly he was speaking about the U.S., repent and learn from what we have wrought and change direction as a result of our introspection? We didn't do much introspection or repenting after the Vietnam War or Gulf I and I'm thinking that led us directly to this place where this country was led into war by a cabal of perhaps a dozen neocons positioned well in the government.  We hadn't absorbed how much we are responsible for the consequences of our actions.   I really hope we can learn enough about how we came to decide to fight this war and how we have allowed it to go on so long. 

I think that we will have to grapple with this question in order to truly change direction for the future.

So how does a nation repent? 

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 28, 2007 at 04:53 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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