Nowhere to Run

“Nowhere to Run”
August 23, 2015
By John Partridge

Scripture:     1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30               Ephesians 6:10-20               John 6:56-69

Have you been reading about all that has been happening in the Middle East since the Arab Spring? There has been a rise in radicalism throughout the region that is not limited to ISIS. There are dozens of radical groups fighting against the government, and against one another, in Syria, Iran is becoming even more anti-western and anti-Christian than ever before, and although many good people are trying to help, radical groups in Egypt have dramatically escalated their attacks on Christians (who are known as Copts, or Coptic Christians in Egypt) and on Coptic Churches. Throughout the Middle East, and in many parts of North Africa, Christians are being persecuted and killed far more than they have been in generations. Ships full of refugees are arriving daily in Europe seeking asylum.

And yet, interesting stories are emerging from that part of the world that tell us that God is alive and well and still involved in the world in which we live.

Before I elaborate, I want to remember the story of Jonah. We aren’t going to read it today, but remember that God called Jonah and sent him on a mission. But Jonah didn’t want to go and, for whatever reason, Jonah thought that if he could just get far enough away, God wouldn’t be able to find him. And so, Jonah looked at the map, picked the port that was farthest away on the map. Jonah bought a ticket to Tarshish, a city in North Africa on the Atlantic coast that appeared to be at the end of the world, and ran away.

But you cannot run from God.

Although many of the gods of other nations were known to be regional gods who cared only for a certain, limited, part of the world, the God of Israel is the god who created the heavens and the earth and all that is.

There is nowhere to run.

You cannot run from a God who is everywhere.

And so, in the Middle East where many violent people are doing their best to say that the God of Israel isn’t real, that the Jesus of the Christians was nothing more than a prophet, and are trying to destroy, by any means possible, the witness of the church, people are discovering the same thing that Jonah found something like four thousand years ago.

You cannot run from God.

Despite the violence, Christians are taking a stand. The witness of persecuted Christians is being noticed. And I have heard several stories of Muslims who have encountered the risen Christ in their dreams or who have heard a voice who told them to learn more about Issa (the Muslim name for Jesus). With and without the efforts of missionaries and other believers, the name of Jesus is being made known. In fact, according to a witness quoted in a recent issue of Charisma magazine, in some churches as many as 80 percent of those in attendance will say that they came to Christ because of a dream. Veteran missionaries say that more people are converting from Islam to Christianity than in any other time in history.

You cannot run from God.

And so, with that in mind we begin our scripture reading from the book of First Kings chapter 8 as Solomon dedicates the Temple of God in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30)…

1 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David.

6 The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim.

10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:

“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.

27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

When the Ark of the Covenant is placed in the temple, the presence of God follows. Just as it was in the days of Moses when God went before the people and appeared as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, God’s presence appears as a cloud, fills the entire Temple, and the priests are forced to leave the building because they cannot see. Solomon understands the nature of God and declares that the heavens cannot contain God. He goes on to say that the people of God, and even those who are foreigners, do not necessarily have to pray in the temple to be heard by God but only to pray toward the temple. Solomon understands that God hears the prayers of all people no matter where they are.

Often, however, this message is difficult to accept. Sometimes we don’t want to do what God asks us to do. In John 6:56-69, we discover that even Jesus’ own disciples had difficulty accepting his message.

56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Even the disciples of Jesus, many of those beyond the twelve who were closest to him, had trouble accepting that Jesus was the only path to God. They couldn’t accept that what they had been taught for years might not be complete, that the message of Moses and the prophets and the system of sacrifice in the Temple might not be pointing to something better. But Peter, the twelve, and a few others knew that Jesus spoke the words of God. They knew that if Jesus was truth then there was nowhere else that they could go, even if his words were difficult to hear.

They knew that we cannot hide from God just because he says things that make us uncomfortable.

And, in the end, regardless of how difficult the teachings of God might be, and how we are occasionally convicted by them because of the things we like to do (all of us seem to have a favorite sin do we not?), there is only one place where we can find truth. And with that in mind, we must prepare ourselves to go out into the world. To do so, to prepare our hearts and minds so that we can we a witness to the world without becoming corrupted by it, Paul says this (Ephesians 6:10-20):

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

We have often heard this passage about putting on the armor of God read and explained in such a way as to understand that we are preparing ourselves for battle as the knights of old prepared, by buckling on armor and sharpening our swords, but while there is, obviously, an element of that, I also think that Paul is pointing to something quite different. I think that Paul is using military imagery to point to something that is quite the opposite. Paul emphasizes that our fight is not with a flesh and blood enemy. There will be no clash of swords, no throwing of spears, or the twang of a bow. What we prepare for is not a fight that any of us would ever recognize as a fight at all and our preparations would be utterly strange to soldiers and knights in battle. Our preparations are not directed toward the defeat of an enemy outside of ourselves at all, except for the enemy of our souls because every preparation that Paul describes is not aimed at others, but only within ourselves. The way that we are called to fight is to draw close to God, to open our hearts to truth, to struggle toward righteousness, to stand at the ready in the cause of peace. We are to be armed, not with weapons of destruction but to defend ourselves with peace. Instead of retaliating and returning blow for blow and wound for wound, we are called to defend with the words and the truth of God.

I think that Paul deliberately uses the imagery of conflict to highlight a message of peace.
Instead of raising an army to go out to fight those who attack the cause of Christ, our call is, instead, to lift up our voices in prayer and to proclaim the mysterious and miraculous story of the gospel. Our call is not to prepare for battle, but to prepare our hearts, to prepare ourselves, so that we can become the tools that God needs. Because, in the end, the fight against evil is not ours, the fight belongs to God.

We are thousands of miles from the Middle East. We cannot, nor should we, raise an army to fight against ISIS and others who are persecuting the church, but what can do, what we have been called to do, is to draw closer to God, to purify our hearts, and to pray. God is already at work changing hearts and calling disciples even in places where his people are driven out, silenced, and murdered. We are called to testify, to teach the gospel message, and to pray.

Because no matter where you are and no matter how much evil tries to hide it…

…there is nowhere to hide.

You cannot run from God.


Christians are Wrong; Atheists are Right

    This week, in the span of twenty four hours, I received two invitations; one from an Atheist friend, and a second from a good Christian friend.  The atheist invitation was for International Blasphemy Rights Day (held on September 30th of each year) which “is a day to promote the rights to freedom of belief and expression and stand up in a show of solidarity for the liberty to challenge reigning religious beliefs without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal.”  The Christian invitation was to sign a petition to force Youtube to stop a video that was blasphemous to the name of Jesus Christ. 


    It isn’t often that this sort of thing drops into my lap.  What’s more rare, is a situation in which I agree so strongly  with the atheists and so clearly disagree with the (well-intentioned) Christians.  To me, the atheists ‘get it’ and these particular Christians just don’t (however well-intentioned) particularly in light of recent events in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

    The United States is an amazing place.  Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech like nowhere else in the world and that gives us, as Christians, an unprecedented opportunity to compete in the arena of ideas.  I believe, as the Apostle Paul did, that Christianity is absolutely able to stand on its own in any such competition if it is given the ability to speak clearly.  Our freedom allows us to do exactly that.  My atheist friends may disagree with me on matters of faith but they understand that this same freedom allows them to disbelieve without fear of punishment or reprisal, whether from Christians, or Muslims, or anyone else.  My Christian friends want someone to protect Jesus from being defamed when, I believe, Jesus doesn’t need protecting.  First of all, Jesus is completely able to defend himself if he chooses to do so and second, Jesus chose not to defend himself when his accusers defamed him face to face.
    In recent days the entire Middle East has been in an uproar over a video produced by an American and released on YouTube.  In it, the Muslin prophet, Mohammad, is presented in a negative light.  This, the Islamists claim, is blasphemous.  They demand that YouTube remove the video, that the United States government require that the video be removed from the Internet and pass blasphemy laws preventing such things from happening in the future (sound familiar?).  Free speech on the other hand requires that none of this happen.  Free speech allows any of us to say things, to present a range of ideas, even offensive ones, without fear of punishment or reprisals.  If the government were to prohibit us from blaspheming Jesus, then why not do the same for Mohammad? 

    Already our friends in Canada have passed hate speech laws that make it illegal for Christian pastors to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality (even if preached compassionately and not being deliberately inflammatory)  but that same speech, unpopular or not, is still legal in the United States.  If free speech is constrained to protect Christians today, it may very well be used to harm us tomorrow.  I don’t like it when people burn flags, but I believe that it is a protected form of free speech that I am willing to protect.  I don’t like it when the KKK or other hateful groups march and spout their venom from the public square, but it too is an important example of free speech.  Just because I don’t like it isn’t a good reason to make it stop.  After all, I have things to say that other people don’t like very much and I wouldn’t want someone to decide that my speech was no longer legal.

 In this case, I think the Christians are wrong and the atheists are right.
Jesus is not threatened by the people who oppose him.  Christianity doesn’t need the law to protect us from blasphemy.  Jesus is more than able to compete in the arena of ideas.
The atheists are right. 
Free speech is far more valuable…
                                                           …for all of us.

Why I Stand With the Catholic Church

   In recent weeks the President of the United States and his Administration announced that all employers would be required to provide health coverage that included coverage for birth control and abortifacients regardless of the employer’s religious affiliation.  What this means is that religious institutions will be required by law to provide the means to do something that the parent religion considers to be a violation of conscience.  The federal government has told the Catholic Church that its hospitals, its adoption services, and its other outreach branches, as well as Methodist Hospitals, Baptist Hospitals and Jewish  and Muslim charity and community centers, that they must all provide this benefit to their employees regardless of whether or not this is a violation of the teachings of their religion.  I want to be clear, I am not a Catholic but this is serious stuff and it is important for all of us regardless of religion.
   I have heard friends say that the complaints against the government are just a power play by entrenched male power interests in the church to oppose necessary health provisions for women but I don’t think so.  It was the Catholic Church (and a few other churches) who built charity hospitals to provide care to the poor when medical care was something only the wealthy could afford (did you ever wonder why so many hospitals have Saint something in their name or end in Methodist, Baptist, or Catholic Hospital?)  It was the Catholic Church who built one of the biggest AIDS clinics in San Francisco when many hospitals were afraid to treat AIDS patients.  The caring and compassion of the church, particularly in the field of medicine, has been repeatedly demonstrated.  
   What’s more, the consistency of the Catholic Church is well established.  As a Protestant, I do not have a problem with birth control but draw the line at abortion and abortifacients because we believe that a child in the womb, a fertilized egg implanted and growing in the uterus, is a life.  Somehow, those of Protestant faith believe that a fertilized egg is not necessarily a life, but once it has ‘taken root’ it becomes a life.   This is a pretty fine line.  The Catholic Church doesn’t try to split hairs and it never has, they believe that a fertilized egg is a human being, period.  The position of the Catholic Church has never changed on this and although I do not agree, I have great respect for the consistency of their argument.  Life is life.
   For the government to say that the Catholic Church (and all other churches) must provide benefits that it believes are morally unconscionable is, to me, a clear violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  What if the government re-instituted the draft to support the military?  In such a draft, undoubtedly, persons would be drafted that, for religious or moral reasons, choose not to carry a gun or to be placed in a situation where they might be required to kill another human being.  For that reason, our nation has allowed these persons to become conscientious objectors, and we allow them to serve their country in another capacity.  One of my uncles served in the Korean Conflict as a medic for that reason.  If our government is allowed to force people of faith to provide birth control and abortion inducing drugs against their will, is it any stretch at all to imagine that conscientious objectors could be forced to carry a gun into combat?  Can American Indians be prohibited from ceremonies that require the use of peyote?  Could Muslims be prevented from making daily prayers during the workday?  The principle is exactly the same.  If religious objections are overruled for one, they can be overruled for anyone.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
– U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment, Article 3.
   If the government is permitted to prevent Catholics and others from exercising their religion, and their conscience, in this way, what other Constitutional rights will it find “inconvenient” tomorrow? 
I am not a Catholic and though I respect the Catholic Church I often do not agree with it.  My position on birth control is different than the one held by the Catholic Church.  Even so, I think they are right and the government is wrong.  I stand in support.  Will you?

Would Jesus be burning the Koran?

So what do you think of Rev. Terry Jones?  
     Jones is the pastor of the Dove Outreach Center (a church of around 50 members) near Gainesville, Florida.  This is the guy that wants to hold a book burning party and as mundane an idea as that may seem, he doesn’t want to burn pornography or even evil Rock-n-Roll lyrics.  Instead, his church has been in the news for organizing what they call “International Burn-a-Koran Day.”  This has caused a furor in the U.S. and around the world.  General Petraeus, the commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has asked that this not proceed because of the risk that it will add to those who are fighting in parts of the world where Islam is the predominant religion.  President Obama has asked that this not proceed and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made a personal call to ask that this event be cancelled.  So far, Rev. Jones has only conceded to “postpone” the event.
Admittedly, there are a host of political and practical reasons for stopping this.  Under our constitution such activity is undoubtedly legal, but this media furor has left me asking a different question, “What’s the point?”  I understand that, theologically, the Dove Outreach Center subscribes to a Pentecostal view which sees the world in a spiritual war between good and evil.  What I don’t understand is what they hoped to accomplish by burning a pile of Islamic holy books.  If their intent was to anger Muslims around the world then it worked.  If their intent was to gain notoriety for their small church, then I suppose their plan worked but I wonder if this is the kind of attention that they intended.  In particular though, I wonder how staging “International Burn-a-Koran Day” was supposed to gain ground in this spiritual war between good and evil.
    Paul said that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) it seems obvious that “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” but beyond that, insulting pagan believers is not what has been modeled for us as followers of Jesus Christ.  Paul didn’t tell the idol worshipping Athenians that they were stupid nor did he try to destroy any of their statuary.  Instead, he complimented them on their religiosity and then told them about the one true God.  Jesus didn’t curse sinners and disparage their false religions, instead he loved them, invited them in and shared meals with tax collectors, prostitutes and others considered by their society (and their church) to be outcasts and untouchable.   Jesus had compassion on these people even though doing so came at a significant cost to himself.  In fact, Jesus condemned the church of his day because of their lack of compassion for others.
    As far as I can see, the battle plan for spiritual warfare that Jesus left for his followers was both counter-cultural and counter intuitive.  Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5: 44)  Jesus built relationships with lost people by showing them mercy and my being kind, loving and compassionate.  Paul won a hearing for the good news of Jesus Christ by being civil and by demonstrating respect for those with whom he disagreed.  The way I see it, our battle is with evil, not with Muslims or anyone else.  We are at war with Satan, but not with people.  The path to victory laid out by Jesus is not the path of hatred but a path of love, mercy, kindness, compassion and respect.
    There are a host of political and practical reasons why Rev. Jones and his church should reconsider “International Burn-a-Koran Day” but far beyond any of those reasons lays this one:
I just don’t see Jesus in it anywhere.

Mosques in New York, Discrimination or Deliberate Manipulation?

In recent weeks there has been a controversy playing out in New York City. If you somehow managed to miss it, a group, led by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (a religious leader educated in Egypt, Malaysia, England and the United States) has asked for permission to build an Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan only two blocks from ground zero. Tempers have flared over whether this group, or any group, should be allowed to build a mosque so close to the site where many Americans, including Muslims, were killed by fanatics in the name of Islam. I have been thinking about this and have been following the news as well as a few of the blogs that are being written about this. It has taken me a while to get my hands around this issue simply because I have mixed feelings and I needed time to better understand how I felt before I could say anything.

Part of my problem is that we all, myself included, have strong feelings about what happened on 9/11 and many of us have strong nationalistic feelings as well. I served ten years in the Army Reserve and my unit was called to active duty (in Kentucky) for six months during the first Gulf War. I have always felt that part of what I did as a soldier was to defend the rights of people even when their actions differed from mine. I have friends who are pacifists and who, for religious reasons, refuse to serve in the military. I have been willing to serve in order to protect their right not to serve. Flag burning offends me greatly but I will fight to protect the rights of others to express themselves in this way. Likewise, those who propose to build an Islamic Center two blocks from ground zero deliberately play upon two fundamental principles of our constitution, the right to property and the freedom of religion. The American right to property allows the owners of land or other property to do whatever they desire within the limits that the law allows and so, if you own land, you should be able to do with it as you wish. Freedom of religion tells us that we cannot deny the right to build a place of worship simply because their particular religion is unpopular or even offensive to others. For these reasons, the developers of this mosque/community center/cultural center should clearly be allowed to pursue the necessary permits and contracts to begin building, but the story isn’t really that simple.

The Imam heading this project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, claims that his mission is to develop bridges of understanding between our two cultures and his background and education would seem to indicate that he is, perhaps, in a unique position to do that. He has sometimes seemed to be a moderate Muslim who condemned the 9/11 attacks, but in the same interview where he condemned the attacks, he also declared that the U.S. was at fault for those attacks and he likewise has refused to concede that Hamas is a terrorist organization. We are told that this building is to be built by American Muslims and for American Muslims but the estimated cost of this project is over $100 million and there is a very real possibility that it may be funded by radical foreign Muslims who intend to use our system of constitutional law and justice against us in order to demonstrate what they perceive to be our weakness. It is disturbing, in light of our obvious concerns, that the developers have refused to reveal the actual funding sources.

In places like Jerusalem and Mecca, and throughout the Middle East there is a tradition of building mosques to commemorate great Islamic victories. Throughout the centuries, I do not doubt that many Christian cathedrals have been built with similar motives. In light of concerns about offending the families of the victims of 9/11 however, it may well be worth our time to discern whether this building is being built by American Muslims in order to facilitate understanding between out cultures or by foreign radicals who intend for its construction to stand as a testimony to the defeat of American imperialism.

A few other pieces that need to be fitted into our understanding: Two mosques already exist in Lower Manhattan (one built prior to the construction of the World Trade Center) and indeed an Islamic Cultural Center also exists not far away in Midtown Manhattan near Central Park. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood in the shadows of the World Trade Center and was destroyed when those building collapsed. St. Nicholas church is negotiating a settlement with the New York Port Authority but although there has been some difficulty in negotiations caused by demands from both sides, St. Nicholas church, nearly nine years later, has not yet received permission to rebuild. While an Islamic group should not be discriminated against simply because they are Muslims, neither should they get preferential treatment. Just days ago, it was discovered that the developers of this proposed building do not own both parcels of land needed to build. Whether this omission was accidental or deliberate raises a whole host of additional questions.

So where does all that leave us?

Constitutionally speaking, there is no reason that this group should be singled out from any other group that wants to build any legal structure in Lower Manhattan. If the construction is legal then it should be allowed to move forward. On the other hand, a center that desires to advertise itself as a bridge for “cultural understanding” could certainly do better, and should do better than to build in this particular location. Building here would be insensitive in the extreme. It would be out of place for the nation of Germany to build a cultural center within two blocks of a Nazi death camp. The desire to build in this location seems hostile, inflammatory and deliberately divisive.

It is important to remember that Islam didn’t fly two airliners into the World Trade Center. It is unfair to condemn all Muslins for such a crime, but we remember the places where people danced in the street when they heard the news. Perhaps it is unfair to paint with a broad brush and blame an entire religion for the actions of a few, but I suspect that, rightly or wrongly, this is the memory of a majority of our nation. As people of faith, Christians should be well acquainted with the false accusations that other religions have historically directed against us and so we should be sensitive to how this might be happening to Muslims in our nation today. On the other hand, we are called to be wise as foxes and to understand our world and how it works. If our nation is being deliberately manipulated in order to make us look weak, stupid and foolish then we should have every right to say no. If our constitutional system of law and justice is being used against us in order for our enemies to celebrate our defeat, then we should find a way to say no.

I believe that too many questions remain unanswered. The events surrounding 9/11 give us every right to be suspicious and careful. It seems as if the developers of their proposed building are getting a pass so that we can feel good about not discriminating against them. In order to answer the legitimate questions that have been raised, and in order to assuage the fears of the victims’ families and indeed the fears of many across our nation, more information must be revealed and more must be understood before construction should proceed. If the developers should refuse to be straightforward and reveal this information and should they refuse to answer the difficult questions, then let them build somewhere else. Without those answers, construction of this building, in this place, would be an affront to all Americans and would desecrate the memory of the victims of 9/11. If nothing else, things need to slow down while everyone takes a second and third look at the problem and as we search for answers to unresolved questions. Until then, under our system of government, if there exists a proper and legal way for this project to be stopped, then it should be.