A more personal note: My sister writes this morning to tell me that her friend, Glen Lapp, a resident of our home county, Lancaster, and an aid worker for the Mennonite Central Committee, was killed in the Taliban ambush in Afghanistan last week. Glen had been in Afghanistan for nearly two years and was slated to return home in October. He was one of ten killed in the ambush.
Amidst the current climate of protest against a mosque at Ground Zero and “creeping Islamophobia,” it’s easy to be critical of evangelizing efforts to convert the heathen “Moslem” in the countries where we’re, as a nation, committed to war. And yet, writes my sister, there’s a way to understand and do God’s work that doesn’t involve a crusading effort for conversion: ”He was so against trying to convert others to Christianity… and abhorred other Christians who did. He was fully only there to help provide medical aid to those who needed it.” Glenn’s story complicates the conflicting yet monolithic ideologies often applied to our responsibilities in Afghanistan (and the Middle East in general) by, in turn, neoconservatives like Newt Gingrich and progressive anti-war activists.