Subject: NCC Weekly News: Iran and the rest of us

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly

From Jim: Iran and the Bigger Prize
I am on vacation with family at the beach in North Carolina. The biggest decision of the day revolves around what to cook for dinner. We spend hours holding, watching, and cooing at my 6-month old grand nephew, Leo.

The weather has been wonderful, the ocean warm, the sharks scarce. Friends have come to visit and conversations have been enjoyable. I can understand how easy it is to ignore the wider world, to stop paying attention to the news, and to accept conventional wisdom as the simple answer to all of life's challenges.

In the midst of this idyll, news arrived that an agreement has been reached with Iran. As I write, the foreign ministers of the European Union, Russia, Iran, the United States, and the United Kingdom are gathering for a group photo to commemorate the occasion.

Soon, the proposed agreement will be sent to the US Congress. We can be absolutely certain various forces will do all they can to scuttle the deal. Sensible people must unite to push for passage.

I traveled to Iran eight years ago and stayed in a hotel near the old U.S. embassy. One morning our group met with Iranian religious leaders in a sleek new building just across the street from the embassy. As we stood in the lobby, one of the mullahs smiled and pointed out that his organization was in a strategic spot for the happy day when relations would be restored between our countries.

I learned there are two competing narratives regarding the estrangement between the US and Iran. Iranians remain hurt and puzzled by the fact the US sponsored a coup de tat in 1952 to remove the elected prime minister in favor of the tyrannical Shah while Americans are hurt and puzzled by the fact that Iranian militants broke into the US embassy in 1979 and seized and held American diplomats for more than 400 days.

This proposed agreement not only provides an opportunity to ensure Iran will not build nuclear weapons; it provides an opportunity for our nations to resume normal relations. This is essential for world peace and an open door to a broader Middle East peace agreement.

The next step, in my view, is to follow through on the intent of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement and rid the entire earth of nuclear weapons. People of faith must keep their eyes on this bigger prize.

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Who Can We Trust?
By Tony Kireopoulos

The most pressing, and debated, matter in foreign policy today is the proposed agreement between Iran and its negotiating partners regarding its nuclear program and what most understand as the future of security in the Middle East. The Obama Administration, on behalf of the United States, along with Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, has agreed to a deal with Iran that would rein in Iran’s nuclear capabilities while financially phasing that country back into the mainstream of the international community.

Despite the promise of a new era represented by this agreement, not all parties see it as a positive development. Among the critics are members of the United States Congress, the endorsement of which would be helpful for this diplomatic achievement to find full acceptance by the American public. While some may attribute this contrary spirit to persistent post-9/11 fearfulness, deep-seated contempt for the Iranian “enemy,” simple belligerence, or just plain animosity toward the president, I wonder if, at its core, this contrariness is fundamentally rooted in a profound lack of trust. But it is not so much about trust in Iran or its government. It is more about trust in ourselves, and in the power of our ideals.

Engagement of any kind includes calculated risk. This includes engagement between nations. As recent history will tell us, the fruits of constructive engagement are plentiful and rewarding, while the costs of not engaging constructively are high and demoralizing.

Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell
An event at Furman University

It is clear that something is broken in today’s criminal justice system. The massive growth in American prisons over the last four decades has burdened tax payers, overcrowded the prisons, and devastated vulnerable communities. Strong economic arguments as well as compelling compassionate reasons exist for why we can no longer maintain the status quo.

This year’s summer series will examine the data around crime, incarceration and the impact of our existing system of justice on communities, discuss our state’s law enforcement and prison system practices in light of historical and contemporary contexts, and highlight innovative programs that are being implemented in South Carolina.
Obama first sitting president to visit a federal prison

President Barack Obama commuted the sentences Monday of two Chicago men in prison – one for life – because the punishment “didn’t fit the crime.”

One of Obama’s domestic priorities that has taken on a high profile in recent months is reforming the criminal justice system – a topic he barely touched in his first term and will surely be taking with him in his post-presidential portfolio.

“I am really interested in the possibilities, the prospect of bipartisan legislation around the criminal justice system,” Obama said at his last news conference on June 30.
Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office is seeking a full-time Communications Coordinator. The Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation coordinates social justice ministry and advocacy efforts in the United States of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on behalf of the interests of the poor and abandoned in the U.S. and 65 countries where the Oblates are in mission.

The Communications Coordinator assists in developing and implements the organization’s communications and outreach strategy. The communications coordinator will ensure that all Oblates JPIC communications; website, print, social media, event resources reflect and support the Missionary Oblates JPIC strategic mission and goals. Communications Coordinator will report to the JPIC Director and the Associate Director.

World Student Christian Federation seeks a creative, innovative, dynamic and energetic person to fill the position of Communication Campaign Coordinator for eight months starting in September 2015. Work location: Anywhere in Canada and the US, with a preference for New York City. Click here to apply.

Justice Fellowship (JF), part of Prison Fellowship Ministries, advocates for the reform of the justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected and lives are transformed. Our growing team is seeking an Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator in our Lansdowne, VA office. For more information, click here.
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.