I saw you on TV a few weeks ago (June 20 on MSNBC) when Joe Scarborough asked you what books you are reading. While it was refreshing to hear that you are reading, unlike the current president, I was very disappointed when you mentioned “Beyond Iraq” by Mike Evans. An excerpt from Publishers Weekly says this about Mr. Evans’ book:
With the Bible’s various prophecies of the downfall of Babylon, one would think Christian eschatologists would have a field day with the war in Iraq. But apart from a few perfunctory prophetic exegeses — Jeremiah’s “arrows of expert warriors” are laser-guided bombs, the “plunderers of the North” are looters at Iraq’s National Museum, Isaiah’s “chariot of men with horses” is an Abrams tank — this poorly organized, fundamentalist screed touts the Bible less as a crystal ball than as a rationale for a Wolfowitzian grand strategy against the Muslim world.
On the temporal plane, Evans argues that the U.S. should use its control of Iraqi oil to break OPEC, and employ Iraq as a base (“only a short reach from the throat of Syria and Iran”) for the war on terrorism. On the spiritual plane, because Islam is “a religion conceived in the pit of hell” and terrorism is orchestrated by demons, he advocates the use of Christian prayers summoning angelic intervention to root out the evils of terror and Islamic fanaticism.
Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team ministry and author of Why Christians Should Support Israel, is especially concerned with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He opposes Bush’s “road map” initiative and insists that God apportioned the West Bank and Gaza to the Jews of the land of Israel, whose modern consolidation is a prerequisite for the Second Coming. Evans’s one-sided account of Middle East conflicts, based on fancifully symbolic readings of obscure Bible passages, concedes virtually no legitimate grievances or non-demonically inspired motivations to Muslims and Palestinians. His book is a disturbing addition to the debate on these critical areas of U.S. foreign policy.
“Beyond Iraq” was written way back in the 2003, when Fundamentalists were still giddy about the prospects of a new crusade against Islam. Mike Evans’ latest book is titled “The Final Move Beyond Iraq.” It’s a call for Christians to pray that our government will soon take military action against Iran. The subtitle is “The Final Solution While the World Sleeps.” Scary, ain’t it, to think that serious presidential candidates like you are reading such codswallop about Final Solutions.
My father was in the last big war which featured a “final solution.” He was an Army Air Corps officer, a navigator on a B-17 near the end of WW2. He dropped bombs on Germany and food on starving Holland. Like so many others of his generation, the experience changed him forever. Before the war he wanted to be an architect. Afterwards, he was more interested in buildings “not made with hands” than those that time and tyrants so easily turned into piles of rubble. He pursued his theological training at a Baptist “cemetery” (seminary) in Texas, the same institution you attended a few years later when you too became a Christian minister. My parents spent the next 40 years in the Middle East as missionaries and educators. They were there when Eisenhower’s Marines stormed the beaches of Lebanon in 1958. They were there long after Ronald Reagan’s Marines had come and died and gone. My parents are retired in Oklahoma now, but they spent the biggest part of their lives “over there” among the very same people that pop-evangelists like Mike Evans are so quick to demonize.
It is distressing (and galling) that so many Americans have been fooled by the literary antics of flim-flam men who twist and torture the Bible into a manifesto for occupation and oppression. Our unnecessary war and our unrestrained enthusiasm for whatever Israel wants and does have undone nearly two centuries of positive American influence in that part of the world. Did you know that American Presbyterian missionaries were serving in the Middle East before Abraham Lincoln’s presidency? Did you know that American Baptists were working in Palestine before Israel ever became a reality in 1948? I wonder how often Mike Evans mentions that in his books? I wonder how often Mike Evans and the other peddlers of Zionism mention the traditions of co-existence between Christians, Jews, and Muslims that lasted for a millennium, until the West began carving up their post-Ottoman spoils of WW1? I wonder Mr. Huckabee, did you visit your Baptist brethren in Gaza and Lebanon on your carefully-guided tours of that bloodied corner of the planet we still call the Holy Land?
If you’re interested in a gentle primer on the realities of the Muslim world, I suggest you turn to our Canadian neighbors. Spend a little time on YouTube.com and watch reruns of last season’s “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” The Canadians get it. Instead of demonizing what they don’t understand, they laugh about it. And in the middle of the laughter, you’ll come away with a sense of the common humanity we all share. It’s an amazing little show, and you’ll be a better candidate for watching it.