Monday, April 18, 2011

Second Thoughts about Greg Mortenson

"But we have the treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us."
   -- II Corinthians 4. 7                        

A friend of mine called and said "Sixty Minutes' was going to do an expose on Greg Mortenson Sunday night. Well, I watched and it made me sick. It is time for us to give people the benefit of a doubt. It is so easy for us to rush to judgment. Some novelist who has not sold as many books as Greg was interviewed twice during the fifteen-minute segment. “Greg lied,” he said. The author went on to say the story of Greg being nursed back to health and building a school in the little village for appreciation was sheer fabrication. Questions were raised about how the enormous sums of money were being spent—leaving the audience wondering if most of this money he is raising for schools does not go into his pocket. Two or three people in Pakistan were interviewed and said they had no schools or the stories Mortenson was telling about them were not true. Well, I don’t know if they were on the up and up. The segment briefly mentioned the thousands of girls that Mortenson has helped school—but little was said about the work he has done since 1993. The program may have been something said about his influence with the Pentagon or the generals he has influenced. Many think that Three Cups of Tea by Mortenson has had enormous impact on the changing direction of the war. When all is said and done Mr. Mortenson has built schools in places where no one else has—certainly not "Sixty Minutes". Leaping over cultural barriers that seem insurmountable is a miracle in itself. Maybe "Sixty Minutes" is right. I think they have rushed to judgment. I do wish that Mortenson had spoken to those that put together Sunday night's piece. Maybe he could have tried to clarify his position. I may be completely wrong—this man could be a charlatan—but I think not. We shall see.

A little later in the program Bill Gates was taken on and smeared by a colleague. Bill Gates has given millions of dollars away to help make this world better. That was barely mentioned. Remember several years ago when the press splattered all over the papers that Mother Theresa was a hypocrite because of Christopher Hitchens’ book? Riffling through her journal he discovered she had doubts—some days she wondered if there was a God. Anybody who has traveled the faith road knows the ups and downs we half-believers encounter. Remember Pilgrim’s Progress?

I used to have a saying when people in church would come up to me complaining about Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton, and Pastors that fall from grace I would always say: “Remember there is only one Jesus.” I like the words somebody said, “God always writes straight lines with crooked sticks.”

There are not many heroes left. We’ve pulled most of them down and learned far more about their lives than we should. Cynicism is running rampant. Let’s give folk the benefit of a doubt. Even President Obama. Even Mr. Ryan with his budget proposal. Even the Tea-Partiers. And even we liberals. Wait and see...that is my response to this whole bru ha about Mortenson. About us all.

(You might want to read Greg Mortenson's response to the Sixty Minutes program.)

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