Communism, Christianity, and Cuba

April 14

Last week I had one of those thought-provoking times. March 24-28, my brother Mel and I traveled to Cuba. We led spiritual leadership conferences in Manzanillo, Santiago, and Guantanamo. In the evenings, we held meetings open to the public. It was a profound experience. Americans have a fascination with Cuba. In large part it is because since 1959 it has been its nearest communist neighbor. While the Soviet Union engaged in a Cold War against its arch-rival the USA from the other side of the globe, Cuba thumbed its nose at the Capitalist superpower only 90 miles away. And then there was the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. It seemed incredible that an impoverished island in the Caribbean could be responsible for a nuclear holocaust, but it almost happened. In response to the insult of a communist outpost at its elbow, the United States slapped a devastating embargo upon Cuba. I was warned last week that if I was inclined to buy a Cuban cigar, I would not be allowed to bring it back into the USA (So I didn't buy one). To this day, the US deals harshly with the nation of Cuba. Of course, with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the little communist outpost in Cuba seems an anachronism. How can an impoverished communist nation survive in the Caribbean when it no longer receives major subsidies from its big brother, the Soviet Union? So it was with great curiosity that I set out with my brother last week for Manzanillo. Of course, when you are at war with someone, even if it is a cold war, you tend to stereotype your foes. You picture them as bloodthirsty warmongers, eager to kill babies and mercilessly torture their captives. You picture their entire race as somehow deformed into a cold-hearted, evil people who eagerly embrace their corrupt political system and idolize their dictator. Of course, that's never how it really is. Standing at the airport gate in Miami, preparing to b