RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
This past week we have seen both sides of the aisle try to describe what the Wall Street protestors are all about. The left has tried to ‘adopt’ them as sort of the Liberal answer to the Tea Party.
The right has described them as a bunch of unemployed spoiled brats that have no consistent voice.
There is probably some truth to both sides- yet neither are totally accurate in my view.
The original Tea Party activists [and the actual event they get their name from!] were raging against the machine ‘No taxation without representation’- much like the present protests.
This past week I read Psalms 79-80. Well I read more than that- but I tried to meditate on these 2 chapters for a while.
I was surprised to see how many verses I actually quote in prayer- that come from these passages.
‘Let the sighing of the prisoners come before thee’ ‘pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee- and THE KINGDOMS that have not called upon thy name’- a few more.
The theme of these chapters is God’s people are under attack ‘Lord- the heathen have come in and defiled your people- their bones are scattered all around the city- their blood is poured out like water’.
Psalms 80 says ‘Lord- you took this vine out of Egypt [speaking about the nation of Israel] then why have you let the protective wall around it to fall down’?
Both Isaiah [chapter 5] and Jesus [Matthews’s gospel] use this same language.
God allowed ungodly kingdoms- systems- to bring down the people of God. One of the Old Testament prophets actually has a real hard time with this- he can’t understand why God would do something like this.
God did it because the people ‘left him’. They walked away from truly seeking God- and judgment came.
Can systems become corrupt? It depends on who has the influence. Many of today’s protestors do have a Bone to Pick with Wall Street. Many of the large banks [investors] and corporate Big Wigs did indeed make out like bandits on the tax payers dime [including Warren Buffet!].
Now- not all bankers- or people working at the actual Wall Street location are criminals- but many of the insiders are/were.
We liked to see the perp walk with Bernie Madoff- but what he did- bilking private investors- was nothing on the scale of what the big corporate heads got away with.
Many of the institutions that were culpable in the bail outs- these people knowingly made decisions that they knew were corrupt. Many of the political leaders- especially Barny Frank and Chris Dodd- they pressured banks to lower their loan standards in order to get more minorities in homes.
Whether their intentions were good or not- they were behind some of the bad loans that would later default.
And President Bush at the time was told that the housing market was going to get into deep trouble if they did not do something about it. To his credit- he tried- I saw the hearings on TV.
The Democrats who were backing Fannie Mae [the mortgage lender the govt. backs] accused Bush of being a racist [yeah- they love that card] How?
They said- openly- on record- ‘there is no problem with the mortgage system at all- and those who are drumming up this false fear- they don’t want Blacks to have homes’ Maxine Waters- Frank- the whole crew said this.
A few months later the bubble burst- everything the Bush guy warned about was right [you know- the racist].
And the actual guys who were a big part of the cause of this [Frank, Dodd] they began berating the banks and lending companies for making all these bad loans.
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
So what happened here? People who had influence behind the scenes- who had hidden agendas [Franklin Raines- the head of Fannie at the time. A vocal Black supporter of the president- made out like a bandit in the whole debacle]. These people managed to influence the system- to get it to do what they wanted- and the system worked for them- at the expense of the average person.
Yes- systems [kingdoms] can become corrupt- and they last for so long- and then the hammer comes down [pour out thy wrath upon the kingdoms- systems- that don’t call on you].
This past week- there really have been some devastating news stories on the current scandals of the Administration.
You had a top guy at the White House curse out a reporter- Sharyl Atkinson- when she called and asked some questions about the sandals.
She works for CBS- hardly a right leaning news org. – and she has said the documents that they have seen- that these scandals are much worse than people realize.
The stuff released late Friday [called a document dump- you do it on Friday hoping it will die down by Monday] basically show that many insiders- even Democrats- and other legal folk- they warned the White House that they were on the verge of breaking the law [by restructuring the Solyndra loan] and they were told ‘don’t approve this loan change without passing it by the justice dept.’.
Then- in these memos and emails- the White House simply did the loan- even after their own legal people said ‘you might be breaking the law’ [remember- he only changed the loan for this company. He did the change after one of his major campaign donors- who also had millions at stake in Solyndra- visited the White House 4 times in a matter of days. I mean this guy would have lost all his money in the company if the loan was not changed- and this guy’s money also went to Obama- geez- you can’t get much worse than this!]
Yet I heard the president say- over and over again- that all the people who looked at these dealings- they all said it was fine.
You see? There were actually parts of ‘the system’ that were trying to work- to perform the intended function- yet those who had personal agendas- they managed to thwart the system- to get it to work ‘for them’ instead of the overall good of the country.
I do understand that both sides are/have been guilty of this- it just so happens that this year it’s the Democrats turn at bat- and they sure have been hitting it out of the park- time and again.
One more system- and we’ll be thru.
Putting aside all the political arguing- this week I have heard/read very serious warnings about the European banking system- that without a doubt- this system might crash and it will have worldwide effects if this happens.
The debt crisis ‘kingdom’ is in serious trouble- and it just might ‘scatter the bones of your people all around’ the after math could be real bad.
What do we do in times like this? Remember [and pray] the words that Jesus taught us in the Our Father ‘THY kingdom come- thy will be done- on earth as it is in heaven’.
Yes- there are competing kingdoms in this world- not right or left- conservative or liberal- no- that’s not where the real action is.
It’s the Kingdoms of this world- when being influenced by corrupt men- versus the kingdom of God.
At the end of the day- the bible says all the kingdoms/systems of men will fail- And the only mountain left standing will be the one that comes from God- the ‘last mountain’ [kingdom] that the prophet Daniel spoke about.
He saw a vision- a vision of Christ- and in the vision Jesus kingdom withstood all the other kingdoms of the world- and became the most prominent one in the earth.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God- and his righteousness- and all these other things will be added to you [Jesus].
 [BLACK] WHITE SUPREMACIST-
A few years ago I was at work and I and another guy were watching the Dave Chappell show. At the Fire house you do your normal routine from 9-5- training, education- public service stuff – then after 5 the guys will cook- or order out.
Then you catch a movie or a fight [boxing] or something like that on the tube.
Now- the guys actually had a scheme- they would hide the remote from me- or make sure they got to it before me- or else they got stuck watching 5 hours of news [which they hated!].
I also was one of the biggest boxing fans at the station- caught all the big fights [HBO].
So every now and then we would compromise- you know- find something everyone wanted to watch. Quite often it was some comedy type thing.
One night we caught the Chappell show- he did a funny skit on a Black- White Supremacist. They kinda did a Bill Moyers- Frontline spoof and interviewed one of the Black racist’s friends.
The story was about this young Black kid who eventually rose to the heights of the White Power movement. He grew up in the sticks and as a young ‘blind’ boy- all the other White kids felt bad for him.
Over time they let him into their ranks and he actually gets to attend the KKK meetings that are growing in the area.
Of course- they never tell him he is Black- or the more formal term ‘a N—gger’ [which the skit dropped freely].
So the Moyers imitator asks his White buddy ‘how could this happen? Why don’t you tell him he is Black’? And his friend said that over time- after attending all the meetings- well he just happened to become the most articulate voice for the cause- and at this stage they can’t do without him!
As you can see- it’s really a funny skit. So they pull up to the gas station and someone sees Chappell and his White buddy pumping gas- they yell ‘hey- N—gger’. And of course Chappell thinks there’s a Black guy around- and he too starts protesting- and going off.
The White guys get a little scared- they think Chappell has lost it- and they flee.
Finally he’s the key note speaker at some KKK rally- and he has the hood on and all- and the good ole boys are so excited over their most popular speaker- they start yelling ‘pull your hood off- we want to see you’. Now- his buddy is in the audience and he realizes things are getting out of hand- he starts heading for the stage- yelling at his Black hooded friend- no- don’t do it!
Then someone on stage walks over and Walla- they pull the hood off. Their stands Chappell- the most renowned ‘White’ racist in the whole area- loved by thousands- people buying his C.D’s and hearing him articulate the White cause- there he stands- Black face and all.
As you can imagine- the audience is shocked- as the ‘camera’ scans the audience- one shocked attendee actually has his head blow off- just because of the shock to his system.
Okay- funny indeed.
In the last post I spoke on Pragmatism- pragmatism is the school of thought that says you do what needs to get done- be practical- if you can accomplish your mission- even if it means violating your true beliefs- then do it.
Now- I’m a practical guy- I like stuff that works- and if I learn how to do something [Blog- radio shows- etc.] I usually stick with the original equipment- for as long as I can.
Over the years- when I was teaching on the radio- I would record the shows ahead of time and simply drop off a few months of programs at a time- and I used Cassette tapes and a simple recorder to do it.
As time went by- I noticed that just about every other broadcaster switched to C.D.’s- while I was still on tape.
I was truly an ‘independent’ broadcaster- made the tapes here at the house- and paid cash- took no offerings for it- so needed no records- just paid the bill out of pocket.
So for me- if I didn’t have to change over to C.D.’s- I wasn’t going to.
Same with my new laptop- got a Dell a year or so ago [will never buy another one] and it came with a newer version of Word. So I type up a post- and look for the spell check.
I could not find the thing- after about an hour- I mean to me that’s the most basic function I need- but no- they had functions to convert English to Hieroglyphics- but no spell check.
I finally called Dell- and they showed me how it was hidden about 9 functions down- at a spot where you would never find the thing.
So I try to stick with the practical stuff- I don’t want all new Facebook options and tools- Zuckerberg sitting around all day- trying to fend off the latest Google challenge- thinking he’s ‘cutting edge’ and all the while us ‘older crowd’ have to re learn some new fangled thing- that we really don’t have time for.
The president has been going around the country- standing in front of falling down bridges- in Repub districts- and challenging the Repubs ‘pass my jobs bill- it will provide funding for infrastructure- your bridges are falling down in your states- see’!
I’m sure Chris Matthews is elated about this- he thinks he’s directing the Pres- he has called for this from his show for the last 2 months- I guess the thrill is back [you know- Tingle up his leg].
Finally this week- Mitch McConnell- the minority leader in the Senate [Repub] said ‘okay- you want to vote on it- go for it’.
They took the pres up on the challenge- he said ‘why don’t you Repubs vote on the thing’ and when the moment of truth came- they dropped the ball.
Harry Reid- the majority leader in the senate [Dem] did not bring it up for a vote- why? Because he does not have enough Dem votes to pass it.
Who are some of the Dems that don’t want to pass it? Guys like Chuck Schumer- from N.Y. – always railing against the Repubs being on the side of the rich.
He doesn’t want to pass it because it will raise taxes on people [couples] making $250,ooo a year or more- and in his ‘rich’ district- they have told him NO.
He wants to raise the tax limit to the million or more- so even though he [and the pres] are going around yelling ‘pass this bill’ in reality- they don’t want to pass the thing.
Okay- time to simply do the best thing- yes- the most practical. Agree on what you can- and drop the other stuff. Don’t keep accusing one side of not wanting to fix their bridges- so grandma might crash into the river [and sink right next to the other grandma that Ryan wheeled off a few months ago] while the truth is- Schumer is protecting ‘the rich’.
People see thru this type of stuff- just be honest and stop campaigning- just try and do some real work.
I’ll end with this- caught a quick interview with Biden on CSPAN- often on CSPAN you get the truth- no editorializing. Biden actually said that because of the way our tax system works- when you go up in income- the Percentage of what you pay goes down- though the amount goes up [you know- 8 % of a million is more actual money than 10 % of a hundred thousand. Many people- especially in the North East- do believe that our tax system is like this].
I can’t believe he thinks [said] this. Now- I have written on this in the last week or so- the way our tax rate works is- the amount- and the percentage- both go up as your income increases.
The only ones it goes down for are the millionaires/billionaires who are living off of their investments only- and this makes up a very small number of millionaires.
But it seems like Biden might not know this- or maybe it was just another show of bravado- you know- feeling like his title is being threatened. He does hold the world record for Foot in mouth disease. And Old Hank Jr. has given him a run for his money this week.
Either way- it made me wonder if these guys really know what they are doing- or if they are just trying to do something- anything- to make their side look better.
Poor old Chappell- he was the best spokesman for the cause- even though the cause was hating Black folk- they used him because ‘he worked’ it was the pragmatic thing to do- not the right thing- not the honest thing- just what they felt they needed to do to get the job done.
It would be better for us all- both sides of the aisle- if we did what we truly felt was right- what was best- not just best for our side- but for the whole.
Because the pragmatic route leaves you sitting in the audience- cheering for ‘your guy’ at one moment- and then hating him the next.
 GO SPARTANS?
I really have too much to cover for one post- so let’s see what we can squeeze in.
I have a catalog sitting here- from the company that I order courses from. A few years ago I got on their mailing list [How- ?] and ever since I have been bombarded with monthly catalogs.
I mean every month- a bit much. Then I realized that one month out of the year they put a bunch of courses ‘on sale’ for around 70% off the regular price- and that’s probably where they do their best business [I now only buy from the discounted monthly catalog].
Anyway- I read the intro to their course on Dark Matter/Energy- these teachers are really good- they are professors from the premiere universities of the world [Oxford, Harvard, etc.] and to get the courses at this price- well it’s really a bargain.
But over the years- studying various disciplines [Theology, Apologetics] it’s easy to see when some smart men- make really bad mistakes.
Especially when dealing with the whole ‘proof for/against God’ type stuff.
In this short intro to the Dark Matter course [Physics- these courses cover everything- history- science- religion- the whole 9 yards] they start out okay- they explain that according to the standard theory of modern physics- that there is about 95 % [wow- that number has jumped these last few years!] of matter ‘missing’ in the universe.
What do they mean by ‘missing’? They go on to explain that the effects that we see in the universe- the gravity and function of the universe- well according to standard theory- there is simply not enough matter to explain how all this is held together- how everything actually works.
Okay- so they admit that there are a whole bunch of phenomena- that we see taking place- that modern science has no idea how it’s taking place.
Now- as the intro continues- they say in order to ‘fill the gap’ they have come up with the idea of Dark Matter.
Dark Matter is simply a name given to nothing- that is nothing that we can detect thru the means of modern science.
Okay- by definition- it is a Metaphysical reality- something that science has espoused as a possible cause for the effects we see in the universe- and by their own definition- its invisible- undetectable and unseen- it is metaphysical [just like the argument for the existence of God].
So they go on to say ‘we know that this matter exists- because how else could you explain how everything works’- now- to those who get into these debates- the guy who wrote the intro- I’m sure he means well- but his whole argument is a materialistic one.
He is saying that there is no chance that some type of ‘non matter’ can be making this happen.
So he then says ‘because WE KNOW that there has to be a material explanation for this- no ‘God stuff’ here- therefore its Dark Matter.’
Okay- and what is Dark Matter again? O- it’s this non detectable- unseen matter- that just happens to make up 95 % of the universe.
Okay- Mr. smart guy- you don’t go for those Intelligent Design guys- the ones who argue that some non material force might be behind this- you rejected their argument because you say they are arguing from a non material realm [called metaphysical].
So how again have you proven that your idea- all this missing matter- exists? O- easy- because we see the effects OF IT all around us.
Actually- no we don’t. We see the effects of SOMETHING- that is- modern science has this huge gap- there are effects taking place in the known universe- that have no materialistic explanation for- we can’t find a material, observable cause for these effects.
The Christian says ‘Okay- I stick God in that gap’ [which many materialists accuse us of doing- they call it the ‘God of the Gaps’ approach].
But the materialistic scientist [one who says there can only be a detectable- material cause to things- in order to classify it as science] he then comes up with the whole Dark Matter argument- an argument based on non detectable- unseen- unproven matter.
And he then says ‘it must be there- because how else can you explain how everything is functioning?’.
The point is- your argument is based just as much on ‘unseen- unproven’ ideas as the Christian. You assume that this matter ‘must be’ simply because you leave no room for a non material explanation.
Then you say ‘yeah- but our idea is based on science/matter’ actually it is not- you argument is based on an idea- non proven by your own standards of modern science- and your idea- your Dark Matter- as of today is nowhere to be found.
These debates can go on forever- and my point is to simply challenge the believer- and the scientific community- to try to be more honest in the approach of seeking for truth.
In the last post I mentioned the pre Socratic philosophers- the 6th century B.C. guys who came before Socrates.
In the 5th century B.C. you had Socrates [born around 468 B.C.] and he would become one of the titans of Western thought.
He had a famous student by the name of Plato- and Plato would follow in his master’s footsteps. Plato founded a famous school at Athens- the land was donated by a man by the name of Academe- and till this day- that’s where we get the modern term for Academia.
Socrates started well- his ideas are not to be confused with Christian belief [he taught that the soul of man always existed- even before he was conceived- not a Christian belief] yet he did have lots of ‘Christianized’ ideas.
Socrates was of the school of thought that wanted to seek for absolute truths- to find out the purpose and meaning behind things.
Like his student Plato- they were what you would call Idealists- that behind this natural world- there exists Ideas- principles that are ‘more real’ than what we see [he would too laugh at the dark Matter intro I hit on at the top].
Socrates lived at a very advanced stage of the city/state of Athens- Greece. For their day- they had quite an advanced society- Jury system- somewhat of a Western style Democratic process- pretty good for the day.
But something happened during his lifetime that would change the whole direction of Athens [and Greece]. They would suffer a huge military defeat by another city/state that seemed to be no match for the Athenians.
Do you remember their name? Do you Remember the Spartans? Yes- we see these brothers in the famous movie ‘The 300’. The Spartans were indeed a fighting machine- just like depicted in the flick [one of my favorites by the way].
They had a famous motto ‘either come back holding your shield high [in victory] or come back lying on it’ [dead- like a stretcher].
So when Athens fell at the hands of the Spartans- they went through a sort of depression- a malaise came over them. They began to resent the thinkers who were always searching for ultimate answers to things- and they embraced a new type of philosophy- called Sophism.
The Sophists were thinkers who said ‘lets just learn the most pragmatic approach- how to get things to work- and how to win the argument’ and they didn’t really care a whole lot about whether they were ‘right’ or wrong- they just wanted to master the practical side of life.
Socrates and his crew thought this approach would ruin Athens and he continued to fight for the search for ultimate truth- the real reasons behind things.
He went around town debating the other thinkers- he had a system- called the Socratic method- where he would engage you in a debate- ask you questions- and let you too ask them back- sort of like the Detective Columbo.
After a while this got him into trouble with the authorities and they sentenced him to death.
He was given his choice of execution- and he chose to drink the Hemlock.
We are told that his famous student Plato visited him on the eve of his execution- and he was surprised to see his master relatively at ease with his impending death.
Socrates believed that the unseen things- the non material realm- was actually more real than the seen- detectable realm. He did not need some Dark Matter idea to explain how things worked- he believed there existed unseen things- God- Soul- etc. and that these things were more real than his own natural life.
Plato would make his teacher famous through his school- and thru his many writings about his teacher. We know these writings as Plato’s Dialogues- he wrote these papers in dialogue form- having Socrates debating the other schools of thought- just like he did in real life.
So you never really know who to attribute the famous quotes to- Socrates- or Plato? Was Plato putting his own words in the mouth of his beloved teacher? We don’t always know for sure.
Okay-maybe a bit much for today- actually had more I wanted to do- but we’ll call it quits for now. Maybe do a quick search on some of these subjects- see how they affect the contemporary arguments for the existence of God.
See how modern science is a noble field- but one in which the Christian does have a say- and how we should challenge the assumptions that are passed down to us.
Socrates refused to settle for the purely practical outlook on life- he continued to seek truth till his last day- he dialogued with those who had other ideas- he listened to them and they heard him- and at the end of the day society was better off for it.
 THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING- PLATO.
I caught a show the other night on Link TV. It was a spin off from this famous Platonic quote- it was called ‘The examined life’.
They interviewed some of the most prominent philosophers of our day. Cornell West, Peter Singer- a few others [I think the name is Singer?] I found it interesting that Singer- who specializes in Ethics- tried to make the case that you really don’t need religion/God in order to do ethics- all you need is to work from the basic principle that says ‘try to treat others like you too want to be treated- and then you will have a foundation for morals’.
Now- I caught the contradiction right away- do you see it? Who is he quoting? This is the great moral principle- given to us by Jesus himself- called the Golden Rule.
This actual principle- in Theology [the study of God] we call Natural/Moral law. The Argument is based on the reality that all people [not animals- Singer- get to it in a moment] have within them this moral compass [Romans 1] and that this in itself is proof that there must be a higher moral being- a transcendent being- who has put it in man.
I just found it funny that Singer- who is supposed to be a prominent atheist/agnostic thinker- would fall flat on his face like this.
Singer advocates for legal Rights for animals- and has also argued that viability of the new born baby should determine its personhood- he says that we should be able to abort babies up until around the age of 1- because they can’t really survive on their own until that age.
Okay- why do Philosophy- or Physics- or any other of a number of schools of thought? Because too often Christians abandon these fields- and then when someone from that field says ‘this is why we don’t need God’ we usually have no answer.
When we think about philosophy- most of us think about the 3 great big shots- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. While it is true that these guys were the major guys at right around the 5th century B.C.- yet we actually date the beginning point to the early 6TH Century B.C. to a man by the name of Thales.
Thales accurately predicted a solar eclipse in the year 585 B.C. and he gained notoriety because of this. Thales was the first Greek thinker to grapple with the idea that there must be one reality that makes up all things.
He would argue that Water was this element- that contained being and Motion and life. Many of these pre Socratic thinkers were obsessed with the idea of motion- where did it come from?
Thales observed that streams and rivers- and all types of water sources flow- so to him this was a logical source of motion.
This idea- that only one element makes up all reality- is called Monism. Monism is not be confused with Monotheism- the belief in one God- Monism actually leads to another religious view- called Pantheism- the belief that God is everything- and everything is God.
This is not the historic Christian view.
Now- the pre Socratic guys- Parmenides, Zeno, Heraclitus- these guys would challenge Thales view that water was the main thing.
Some said ‘maybe it’s Air’ another said ‘Earth’ and some Fire. These 4 elements [Earth, Air [wind] Fire and Water- are the 4 basic elements of the early Greek philosophers.
We see these things in the naming of musical groups [Earth Wind and Fire] as well as the themes in movies [fantastic 4- based on 4 basic elements- powers].
Now- one of the thinkers said ‘wait- maybe the reality behind all things is not any one of these elements- maybe there is a 5th dimension [another musical name- and also the famous Bruce Willis flick- called the 5th Element] a Boundless being- outside of time and matter- maybe this 5ht element is the foundation for all things.
Of course this view would lead to the more developed view of God that Socrates and his followers would embrace- an early view of God- much like the later Christian view [absent the Trinity].
By the way- the view that 2 or more elements make up all reality is called Pluralism- not to be confused with religious Pluralism [that all religions lead to the same God]. The most common form of Pluralism is Dualism [2 realities equally true] but all non Monists who embrace more than one reality are Pluralists.
Okay- maybe a bit much with the 10 dollar words- but it might spark the interest of some.
The church has debated for centuries on whether or not Philosophy should be taught to Christians. One of the early church fathers- Tertullian- said no- his famous quote is ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’.
Meaning what does Philosophy have in common with Christianity [Athens- Greece was the seat of philosophy in Jesus’ day].
For the most part- the early church fathers would embrace the study of philosophy- and try to make arguments for the Christian faith by presenting Christianity as ‘thee’ philosophy that best answers the questions of man.
These early Christian thinkers are called Apologists- men like Justin Martyr are in this class.
Apologist is a word we use to describe those who defend the faith- it comes from the Apostle Peter’s letter in the N.T. where Peter says ‘give an answer to those who ask you about the faith’. In the Greek language- the original language the N.T. was written in- this phrase is talking about a defense- an ‘apology’ in the sense of ‘making the case’ not in the common sense of apologizing.
In the book of Acts- chapter 17- we read the famous sermon of the apostle Paul- given at Mars Hill. He was in Athens at the time- and he was debating with all the philosophers of the day. He tells them ‘as I was looking around town- I saw that one of your altars is addressed to The Unknown God’.
He would go on and declare unto them that this Jesus is the true God- the one raised from the dead.
Paul also said ‘in Him we live and MOVE and have our being’. Kind of a popular verse quoted by preacher’s today- but we often overlook the significance of the MOVE part.
I mean- why say we MOVE in him too? Paul was a smart guy- he knew these children of Socrates questioned where motion came from [Remember Thales?] So he was basically saying ‘I am declaring to you the one true reality- the true 5th Element- the missing God particle from your system’ and he went on and preached Christ- being raised from the dead.
Paul knew that you can’t really do true philosophy- to grapple with the questions of life and being and ‘motion’ without realizing that God is indeed the ultimate answer to all things.
Even Peter Singer- who claimed that you don’t need God or religion in order to do Ethics- even he unknowingly quoted Jesus in attempting to give a basis for his Philosophy- yes- he quoted a God- one unknown to him- just like the altar at Athens- but a God never the less.
An inescapable 5th element- the missing part to the whole puzzle.
As you know by now- yesterday morning we killed one of the top Al Qaeda guys in Yemen. We got him [and another top guy] with one of those drone strikes [unmanned plane].
Since we have already gone thru one news cycle on the thing- let’s talk.
President Obama seems to be lying lower with the ‘promotion’ aspect of this hit. In comparison to the Bin Laden hit- he is taking this one more slowly.
Why? A few reasons- after the Bin Laden kill some of our military guys [and some of the wives of the husbands on seal team 6!] Openly complained that they did not want their families to become targets. It’s rare to announce the actual group who carried out the hit.
Second- Awlaki [and the other guy] just happened to be American citizens. So what does that mean?
First- I’m of the view that citizen or not- when you align yourself with a group that advocates the killing of Americans- then you become a target.
But the problem is- all people do not hold to this view. There are some progressive types [liberal] who view the entire ‘war on terror’ as an abuse by Bush/Cheney on the ‘rights’ of those we are fighting against.
Yes- during the 2008 campaign- the whole mantra leading up to it- was the idea that the Bush view of ‘war on terror’ was actually wrong.
Some Democrats fought for the less militant view- one that said ‘yes- 9-11 was wrong- but our approach will be less of a ‘war’ against terror- and more along the lines of fighting against individual criminal acts’.
Okay- whatever side you’re on- no matter to me- the point I’m making is this was Obama’s view.
Along with this whole mindset came the talk ‘we can defend our nation- without violating our basic moral principles’ on and on went the talk- they were all saying that the Gitmo [Cuba] detainment facilities were a violation of prisoner’s rights.
Those military trials would be unfair- that we need to Mirandize these folk- and give them ‘their’ basic constitutional rights.
The Bush position was ‘we are at war- these guys are enemy combatants- taken from the field- you don’t get constitutional rights’.
Obama’s view was different- and it was purely ideological- not based on any real experience- just saying what he needed to say- to appease his base [that’s why he read the rights to the underwear bomber- remember?]
So Obama got elected- what was one of the first things he did as Pres?
He gave an executive order- as promised- to shut down the ‘prison’ in Cuba within a year.
For those who don’t follow this stuff- the U.S. base at Cuba [where my wife used to be stationed] houses the prisoners we captured in the field- and Bush also built a special court for military trials to be held there- so these guys could be held- off U.S. ground- and stay there until we tried them.
Now- why hold them there? Bush and his legal team knew- that if we hold [and try] them in the U.S.- then there will be lots of challenges to ‘giving them their rights’ some have advocated from the start that Bush was violating these guys rights- and that indeed- Bush and Cheney [and Rummy] were actually war criminals [I kid you not].
So after Obama got in- he swore- in a year Gitmo will close. Okay- what has happened?
Year 1 went by- and it didn’t close- year 2- the same thing. As we entered into year 3- Obama began making plans to shut the thing [he actually started moving on it in year 2].
He had to decide ‘where will we put these guys’? And ‘where will we try them’- remember- Obama’s ideology [for good or ill] was holding these guys as combatants- and not giving them constitutional protections [these guys are non citizens by the way] was a violation of ‘our basic morals’.
How were these prisoners being treated John? I’m glad you asked. Gitmo is around 90 miles south of Fla. You know- the same beaches of South Miami.
These guys were given brand new Korans on arrival- prayer rugs. 3 times a day they were free to worship- they were given special food- in keeping with their religious beliefs.
Yet one time- okay I’ll admit it- they were treated badly. They actually filed a complaint!
We were giving them ice cream 7 days a week with their evening meal- and for some reason [budget?] we cut it down to once a week- they got mad and filed a complaint [this is not a joke by the way].
So these were the guys that Obama [and many on his side] viewed as victims of the Bush/Cheney regime.
After 3 years- Obama tried to close the prison [and court] down- move the guys to various prisons throughout the U.S. [dumb move indeed] and try the guys in downtown Manhattan.
Bloomberg and Schumer took heat [N.Y. politicos] from their own Dem [and Independent] base- and they told Obama ‘how bout you don’t try the guys here’.
Then they grappled with a few other spots- what the security costs would be- the whole process of Mirandizing these guys [which they did do already] and treating them like American citizens- with full constitutional rights- not like enemy combatants.
So what happened? This year- after all the rhetoric on how Gitmo is the number one recruiting tool for terrorists [false] all the ice cream violations- yes- after this being one of the top priorities of Obama- he has decided to keep the guys at Gitmo- and try them there- under military trials.
He has decided that the Bush way- the way he had condemned and accused those who were part of it as ruining the country- yes- he has decided that’s the adult way to go.
Okay- said all that to say this. Obama fought very hard to give constitutional rights to the 5 guys we are holding that were involved with 9-11. This was a part of his belief- whether sincere or not- this became the way some liberals fought against conservatives.
Sy Hirsch- a liberal writer- wrote a piece in the New Yorker [before Obama became pres.] and he said seal team 6 [the guys who got Bin Laden] were Cheney’s personal hit squad- who were out violating the laws of the land. After they got Bin Laden- under Obama’s orders- they were called heroes by these same people who formerly called them Cheney’s hit team [and Obama was called decisive!]
This was the mindset- this was the view.
So- what happened yesterday? We killed 2 American citizens. These were not non citizens- who Obama deemed worthy of getting constitutional rights- these were actual citizens- who had them!
Now- if you hold the Bush view- enemy combatants- war on terror- the whole 9 yards- then doing this is legal- because during war- you can do stuff like this.
But if you were the guy who accused Bush [Cheney] of violating the rights of prisoners- who said these actual foreign fighters taken in the field- should be mirandized- if you held that view- then what you did yesterday was a big no no.
The 5th amendment to the constitution says no citizen can be deprived of life or liberty without due process [for instance- if we wanted to tap Al-Awlaki’s phone- we would have needed a court order- but to kill him- we did not]
Now- if you argue we are at war- for real- then the due process clause does not apply.
But if you argue- yes indeed- these guys [not just the ones who are actually Americans!] do get constitutional rights- then you can’t kill them with a drone- that’s just an ideological fact.
I’m glad we got them- I take the Bush view on this. But the liberals- progressives- many of the Dems- and even Obama- they fought for the other view- for 3 years- they accused Bush [and seal team 6] as being rogue war mongers- out violating the rights of people.
They hooped and hollered when the ice cream service was cut from 7 days to 1. Yes- these guys took that position- and a day after Obama killed 2 Americans [as bad as they were!] What are these progressive, liberal- give ‘rights to the enemy’ types- what are they saying ‘hooray- look at Obama- he’s not like Bush- he actually gets these Sob’s’.
I’m glad he got them too- but many of those who are celebrating today- would have called Bush a war criminal if he did it- and that’s a fact.
 HOME ALONE?
This past week a bombshell book hit the stores- Confidence Men- by Ron Susskind.
Susskind was given access to the White House over a period of many months- and he gave Obama a very strong critique. He said that the first couple of years of the administration- that the catch phrase was ‘Home Alone’.
Apparently one of his top financial guys was actually running the show [Larry Summers]. He would tell another finance guy [Peter Orzag] that ‘if we weren’t here- doing everything- no one would be in charge’- they were Home Alone.
Now- the defenders of the pres. have come out and given their side. But after hearing both sides- it simply looks like- yes- the pres. was really not experienced [no executive experience?] for the task at hand.
I remember when Clinton [Bill] got into hot water when Hillary was running against Obama- at one point he said ‘this whole thing is a big joke!’
In context- he was talking about the Obama candidacy. He- like many others- felt like a one term senator from Illinois- who is in the first 2 years of his term- that there is no way any other candidate would be taken this seriously- with no real experience.
At the time they branded good old Bill as a racist- but what he was saying was the mood in the country- the excitement that many people had- a historic moment to elect the first Black president- that these things all played into the election [nomination] of Obama.
So- many of these more experienced political guys were right- even those who were Democrats.
As we end the week- let me throw in a couple of bible chapters that I have read this last week.
Genesis 49- and Ezekiel 33.
I have spoken about Gen. 49 a few times over these past few weeks. You get the story of Jacob blessing his 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
The blessing over Joseph says ‘you are a fruitful vine planted by a well- your branches go over the wall- the archers shot at you and wounded you- yet your bow remained strong’.
This was a brief way to cover the experiences of Joseph.
Though I have not read Genesis in a while- I remember the story well.
Joseph is famous for being the son who left the fold at a young age- his brothers betrayed him and he was eventually sold into Egypt as a slave.
In Egypt Joseph rose up the ranks- he was put in charge of a very important household- and he did a great job [gained lots of executive experience].
One day the wife- who had a crush on Joseph- tries to sleep with the guy [yes- bible stories are very real] and he refuses. She later accuses him of rape.
He winds up in prison- unjustly accused- and has to put in some more time being rejected by those he tried to benefit.
In jail he interprets a few dreams for some guys that are top guys in pharaoh’s administration- and that eventually gets him out of jail.
In time he rises to the 2nd highest influential position in Egypt- and is number 2 to pharaoh in power.
God reveals to Joseph that there will be a famine [recession- double dip!] in the land- and he advises pharaoh to implement this plan where they store up a lot of extra grain [those darn conservatives!] for 7 good years- so when the bad years come- they will be the only gig in town [China?]
Sure enough- the famine comes and all the surrounding nations come to Egypt for financial [grain] help. This will bring the family of Joseph to Egypt too.
Now- the brothers and Jacob [the dad] thought Joseph actually died years ago. The boys tricked the dad into thinking he was killed- and as far as the brothers knew- maybe he was dead.
As they come for the aid- Joseph recognizes them- but they don’t know who he is. Joseph is speaking the Egyptian language when he’s with them- using an interpreter.
Yet when the brothers talk- he secretly knows what they are saying.
Joseph finally gets them all to come ‘down’ into Egypt- the whole family- and they have this great reunion- Joseph was the son who saved the family from ruin.
The same son who was rejected by the family years earlier. At one point in the story Joseph says ‘what you meant for evil- God meant for good’.
Joseph realized that his brothers did ‘mean evil’ he didn’t try and whitewash the reality that some wanted him gone- jealousy and sibling rivalry were very real- and Joseph called it like it was.
But he was able to see what the apostle Paul would pen many years later ‘all things work for good to them that love God- to those who are called according to his purpose’ [Romans]
There are rumors that the N.Y. times is going to possibly run a story- detailing that the president has been suffering from severe depression- that the job is much more demanding than he thought- and that he has had some major problems with being pres.
True? Have no idea.
In Joseph’s case- yes he was hated- and rejected. He would spend years being falsely accused- and in time- we would get a very top position- yet he was prepared for the job- his life experiences built character into him- character that would be needed for him to fulfill the mission.
Did Joseph get depressed at times? I’m sure he did- he kept getting the short end of the stick- thru out most if his life.
Yet in the end there was a purpose.
Today I want to simply encourage you guys [and gals] many of us are going thru things- good stuff- bad stuff- all types of stuff.
Maybe you’re at the beginning stage- maybe the stage where you feel unjustly accused- rejected.
Others might just be getting out of ‘prison’ and might be on the verge of new things.
Some of us might be sitting in a ‘White House’ thinking- how in the heck did I wind up here!’
Wherever you are at- in the end- all things will work for good- if you love God.
 EINSTEIN WRONG?
There’s been much buzz these last few days on an experiment that seems to have proven Einstein wrong. These Physicists shot some sub atomic particles [Neutrinos] underground and supposedly clocked them going faster than the speed of light [by 60 nano seconds]
Now- as someone who never went for that ‘book learnin’- yes- in high school I clearly remember telling my guidance counselor- from year 1- that I will never attend college- so just give me the easiest classes to pass [yes- I really did say this- and they seemed to get miffed at me].
So- I never took Physics- or Algebra! I mean- not even the basics. One year the counselor said ‘John- even if you don’t go to college- we require you to at least have 1 year of math’.
I took ‘shop math’. Mr. Hildebrand- that class was the definition of ‘skate’. So over the years I have had to read up- and even when I took the entrance examines for the Fire Dept. I had to get a few books on Algebra- just to pass the test! [Yet I always scored high on tests].
Okay- why would breaking the speed of light mess up Einstein? In the world of physics you have had 3 main stages. In the ancient world we had ‘ancient physics’- then with the scientific revolution and men like Newton- we entered a stage called classical physics. And in the 20th century we had Einstein.
He would launch the field into what we now call Modern physics. He is the father of modern physics.
In 1905 he wrote 4 scientific papers- one of them was on Special Relativity.
Classical physics dealt with matter, energy- space and time. But what Einstein did was he seemed to breach the gap between these fields.
He would show us that these fields are not separate- they actually function and exist together as one fabric that exists in the universe.
Now- the formula most of us are familiar with is the famous E=mc2. This formula [not developed in any of the 1905 papers by the way] basically is a conversion factor between mass and energy.
All mass/matter has energy contained within it- if you could find ways to convert that mass into energy- then this formula showed you how much energy you would get [if you could convert all the mass in a raisin- into pure energy- you could light the city of N.Y.- on one raisin!]
Now- most people equate this formula with Nuclear energy. While this is true- yet this formula applies to all forms of mass into energy conversion. Coal power plants- gasoline in your car- even the conversion of food into energy in the human body- it is not only a formula for nuclear energy.
Okay- what about light speed? The formula actually tells us that the way you calculate the amount of energy in ‘the mass’- is you take the mass- multiply it by ‘c- squared’ and that’s the amount of energy. What’s c? C is simply the letter that represents the speed of light.
All of Einstein’s theories work off the theory that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. So- if these guys did prove that these sub atomic particles did indeed break the record- then yes- there will be a lot of changes that will need to be made to one of the most tested- and popular theories of all time.
Now- what did Einstein prove by his theories? Why was his first paper on relativity called ‘special relativity’? In the initial calculation- Einstein had a problem- as he continued to grapple with the impact his ideas would have- something he saw did not seem to fit in with the age old belief that the universe is eternal.
Carl Sagan used to say the universe is all there ever was- and all there ever will be [he was wrong by the way].
What Einstein ‘saw’ was that the universe seemed to be expanding- at a very rapid rate. His calculations also seemed to indicate that this expansion was ongoing- that it has never stopped expanding.
How could this be? Well- Einstein could not fully accept his own findings- and he simply fudged the numbers. Yes- he added this cosmological constant- this arbitrary mathematical calculation- that slowed everything down. He ‘made’ his theory say the expansion would stop at a certain point.
Later on he would realize [through the discoveries made by the Hubble telescope] that his initial observation was right- the universe is in a nonstop expansion as we speak.
He would call this mistake the greatest blunder of his career.
So what were the implications? Well we got the Big Bang out of this- the implications were that the universe was not eternal. That time and space and all matter had a beginning point.
This is the strongest scientific argument for the existence of God today. If the physical world as we know it- had a starting point- then the only rational explanation is there had to have been some type of ‘first cause’ that initiated the bang.
That’s fact- Einstein [nor anyone else] has ever proved that the universe had no initial cause. As a matter of fact- that would contradict the laws of logic and science. The law we refer to as Cause and Effect.
Some very brilliant men have stumbled over this. The atheist Bertrand Russell- who grew up as a Christian- said he thought to himself one day ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not say that the universe is the thing that started it all- why not question whether or not God even had something that caused him’?
Sounds right? Or does it. Russell made the tragic mistake of thinking ‘everything has to have had a cause’. Actually- that’s not what the law of cause and effect states.
The law says ‘every effect has to have had a cause’. It is not illogical to have some type of being- a ‘first causer’ who by definition- had to be around forever. If you follow all the arguments through- you in fact need a Transcendent being [someone who transcends time and space] in order for this whole system to work.
So at the end of the day Einstein gave the church one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God- he showed us that all creation did indeed have a starting point- and he took us no further back than that.
Do I think the recent discovery is earth shattering? Well- if it’s correct- then yes- it will be. But I would bet money on the side of Einstein on this one.
If the calculations prove accurate- then we will need to make some adjustments to modern physics- but I don’t think it would totally ‘throw him under the bus’.
I have found it funny that most of the reporters talking about this- they would say ‘so- does this mean time travel might be real?’
You know- the T.V. talking heads have to have something they can say- in a short clip- that they think sounds intelligent.
Theoretically- Einstein has already shown us that ‘time travel’ can happen. Will man ever be able to travel at those ‘light speeds’? Doubtful [the speed of light is about 180 thousand miles a second].
But it’s good for people to be informed- as much as possible- about these things. I have heard/seen many people make unsound arguments against the existence of God- and lots of times they use Einstein- or modern science- as in if science has somehow showed us that God does not exist.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ll end with this- the very smart atheist- Anthony Flew- spent years trying to disprove the existence of God. He was at the top of his field [a brilliant scientist] who made Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris [modern popular atheists] look like amateurs.
A few years ago – he confessed that he now believes that there has to have been some type of infinite being- God- who started everything.
He said the Teleological argument [an apologetic argument that tries to prove the existence of God by design in the creation] finally convinced him. Any sane person- looking out into the sky at night- or studying animals- plants- man.
Any person who thinks that all of these things actually came from nothing- he just realized that proposition no longer had any legs to it.
No- the universe is not eternal [Einstein showed us that] and if not- it could not have popped into existence from nothing- that simply is not scientifically possible.
Note- our sun burns 400 million tons of matter into energy every second! A stretched rubber band weighs more than one at rest [energy weighs]. A charged battery weighs more than a dead one- the charge [energy] itself adds to the weight.
 PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES [OR THE SEAL].
I heard a news story the other day- some kids in a Massachusetts school district found a stranded baby seal on the beach one day. So like most environmentally minded young folk- they rescued the seal and brought him back to their town.
As the news got out- the town decided to adopt this helpless thing- and they went all out- the school district put out lots of money [they spent about 80 thousand overall] and after a couple of years- little ‘flipper’ was ready to launch.
So they all went down to the ocean one morning- and it was truly a tearful moment [maybe a little too tearful?]. As they launched their beloved child- you know- sending him [her] off to brave new worlds- places ‘no seal has gone before’- as soon as the lad was released- an Orca [killer whale] came up from the water- and swallowed him whole.
Now- you have the kids and all standing at the shore- asking their elders ‘mommy- daddy- what happened’. And of course that began a long week of mourning for the whole town. Whose fault was this? Was it anybody’s fault? Would it be right to make this someone’s fault?
As we enter this last year of the president’s term- for whatever reason- he has made a conscious decision to ‘blame the rich’. Now- those of you know me- and have read my posts for a while- will realize that I am no defender of ‘the rich’.
I have worked with poor people for most of my life- and I refuse offerings or help- because I have always felt that the influence of money [like ministries always begging for it] has been a blight on the church.
Yet at the same time- there are lots of very hard working people- who are being categorized as ‘the rich’ who don’t pay their ‘fair share’.
In the current Obama plan- couples making over 250 thousand a year [and singles making 200] are considered ‘the rich’.
Now- depending on where you live- this might be rich- or maybe not.
Where I grew up in N.J. – if you’re a cop- or firefighter- maybe the wife is a teacher- you might fall into this rich group.
And if you are paying the very high North East mortgage payment- then to hit a family like that with a huge tax increase- well that’s gonna hurt.
The example the president keeps using- well he’s making it sound like most of the rich are really paying less. The truth is we do have a graduated income tax rate in this country- that goes up as you make more.
I think the bottom is at around 5 %- the top around 29 % [plus you have around 40-50 % who pay no federal income taxes at all]. So why is the president saying the rich pay less than their secretaries? [Buffett’s famous line]. Because Buffett- like a few other billionaires- pays only capital gains tax- taxes on investment income and dividends from stocks.
Yes- for those few fortunate billionaires- they have managed to live off of the interest- and the tax on that kind of income is around 15 %.
How many of ‘the rich’ are not paying ‘their fair share’ by doing this. I don’t have the exact number off hand- but it’s close to around 1 % of all those who file who make around a million a year or more.
The point is- the people who are ‘not paying their fair share’ are not the people the president is branding as ‘those who are not paying their fair share’.
So- it’s just dow right unfair to the working cop and teacher- who might be getting hit with the new ‘fair rate’ and to brand them as not pulling their weight in society- when the truth is- these are the people who are really paying close to 80% of all the taxes in the country.
Now- I do think we should get rid of corporate loopholes- and yes- if we do a ‘billionaires’ tax type thing- to deal with the few Buffett’s of the world- than I really don’t care much.
But the reality is most of those being accused of not paying their fair share- well- they are paying the lions share right now.
It’s easy to get people on your side- if you find a noble cause [saving the baby seal- or helping the poor working folk] and if you can put the blame for this injustice on someone else- then you almost always win [the argument- though you might still lose the seal].
I’m sure the kids at the beach that day would have liked to have blamed ‘that darn Orca- taking more than he should- probably eats more than the other species of fish- who are struggling in life- but no- this bully had to have the very last bite-‘ and on and on.
When we feel like an injustice has happened- like the scales are not tipping right- we want to find a scapegoat- to find the real culprit’s behind the injustice. Sometimes things happen- sometimes societies [Greece- Italy this week] overpromise too much to people- and if these societies are spending money they don’t have- well it’s easy to blame it on the Orca- the ‘big bully’ who seems to get his full- while we baby seals are left here on the shore struggling to survive.
I know it’s hard to take this position and defend the ‘Orcas of the world’ and the whole reason some people blame the Orcas- well- it’s because they know they are an easy target- you don’t get many people to stand up for the right of the Orca to eat the baby seal.
But this is such a dangerous game- and it’s unfair to the majority of people who are in this ‘rich’ category [not the Buffett’s] who are really paying their fair share- and more.
I think the president should make this clear- and not divide the country over this- sure- you might be on the side that will naturally garner the most sympathy- but that still doesn’t make it right.
 BRISON PHILLIPS
The other day this name popped into my mind- you know- one of those real clear memories- sort of like ‘geez- maybe God wants me to pray for the guy’. I knew that couldn’t be it.
This last week we have had a few big news stories- the SOLYNDRA scandal [by the way- the execs are gonna plead the 5th– that’s bad!].
We also had a few tragic events. A couple of air show disasters back to back. Here where I live in Corpus Christ- if you Google the map- I live about 200 yards from the Naval Air Station.
As a funny memory- 30 years ago I had my Captains Mast right on this base [a technical court thing- to kick you out after you screwed up one 2 many times- too much partying and fighting is not stuff the Navy puts ups with].
I worked for 25 years at another Naval base city- Kingsville [with the Fire Dept.]
Whenever the air base has an air show in Corpus- the planes fly directly over my house. Right after I moved to the area I realized all the locals sit on their roofs when the shows are on- you see them up close- couldn’t get a better view if you were in the stands.
In Kingsville the base used to request that the city ambulance stand by at the air shows- you know- heat exhaustion or every now and then a heart attack.
Lots of people watching the show in the heat- to have an ambulance right there shortened the response time.
Now- most of the young guys took that gig- sure you got overtime- but the older guys [who played Captain and engineer- truck pumper] we usually didn’t go for it.
But one year  I thought- what the heck- yeah I’ll work the show. Me and Sam showed up- nice day. The Kingsville base was actually the base I was stationed at when I first came to Texas.
The show would last a couple of hours- you would get paid a minimum of 3 hours overtime and it was really easy duty- usually.
I was just standing there- watching the show- just like the crowd. And right in front of us- an f-16 fighter crashes.
Of course the crowd was shocked- and we are really not there for something like this- but to be honest- I broke the rules and told Sam ‘lets roll’.
We drove right across the air strip [which we did not have clearance for- but it felt like the base had no idea what to do either].
The plane crashed in a wooded area so we parked right at the spot where the plane went over- and had to jump the fence.
To be honest- I was not supposed to be doing this- but I followed the Navy team that was on the ground [special investigators] and was the first fire fighter at the location.
You couldn’t recognize the plane- total destruction. I wasn’t sure if the pilot bailed or not- some in the crowd thought they saw him eject.
After going through the rubble- we found a foot. Perfectly intact- but that was it.
Major Brison Phillips- a very experienced pilot who saw action in Iraq- died that day.
Yesterday I read his name in the San Antonio paper. They were talking about the air show disasters that have happened in Texas.
To my surprise- there have only been 5. The first one in 1943- then down the line until this past year. The Crash I was at was number 4 [I think?]
After I thought about it- maybe God was ‘showing’ me his name- for me to pray for pilots that week. We did later have the crashes. I just couldn’t put 2 and 2 together- I knew Brison was already dead so when his name came to me like that- I was a little confused.
I cut out the news article and stuck it on my ‘funeral wall’. Whenever one of my friends dies- if I see the article in the paper I’ll cut it out and pin it to this spot- sort of like a reminder that life is short.
The bible says ‘teach us to number our days- so we might apply our hearts to wisdom’.
Brison was a good man- real hero who served well. I wonder if it’s smart for us to do shows that have high danger ‘tricks’ [Brison was doing a ‘Split- S’ when he died].
I realize the pilots- and the fans- want the freedom to take the risks- and in a free country- well that’s the choice.
But the high risk things- like the Nevada crash- flying old modified planes at 500 MPH- I don’t know about that.
Maybe today would be a good day to pray for the wives and kids who have lost their loved ones in these crashes- sort of a little ‘memorial day’ for them.
 BIBLE OVERVIEW- JOSHUA TO CHRONICLES.
I have a feeling that this week [and from here on out] we are going to be inundated with lots of scandals in the news- and before all that hits the fan- I want to do a few more posts on this brief overview of the bible that I started around a month ago.
This ‘chunk’ of scripture covers the period of the children of Israel possessing the promised land [the book of Joshua] and establishing themselves as a self governing people- no more Egyptian Pharaohs to answer to.
At the end of the book of Joshua we see that God’s people did not fully obey the Lord- they allowed some of the enemy nations to remain in the land. The history of Judges covers the period where Israel had no king [but God] yet God raised up temporary deliverers who lead them during trying times.
You had prophets too. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel fall into this chunk of scripture- and it’s during Samuels’s time that the people ask for a king ‘like the other nations around them’.
Samuel takes this personally- but God says ‘Samuel- by asking this- they have not rejected you- but me’
So even though God’s original plan did not have a king over them- yet he grants the request. King Saul becomes the 1st king. Then we have David- and his son Solomon.
We read of the history and stories of the kings in these books.
Israel will become a divided kingdom under the son of Solomon- whose name is Rehoboam. The kingdom will split between the northern 10 tribes- referred to as Israel- and the 2 southern tribes- referred to as Judah.
The northern tribes- under king Jeroboam- will establish the city of Samaria as their capitol- and Jeroboam will set up idol worship and a false competing priesthood. Why?
He realizes that if the northern tribes continue to return every year to the south- in order to carry out their worship- then they will eventually want to ‘go home’.
So Jeroboam sets up this competing ‘religion’ in order to maintain unity for his kingdom.
The northern nation will last for around 200 years- up until the time they are taken captive by the kingdom of Assyria [around 720-30 b.c.]
The southern kingdom lasts for around 350 years- until they too are taken captive- by the Babylonians [around 580 b.c.]
An interesting note; the northern kingdoms will have 20 kings reign over them during their 200 years. And from these 20 kings- you have 9 different families/dynasties represented.
The southern kingdom will last almost twice as long- they too will have 20 kings reign during their time [both the north and the south have their own different kings]. Yet they will only have 1 family/dynasty that all their kings will come from.
That was the ‘House of David’. Why?
David is from the tribe of Judah- if you remember when we covered the history of Genesis- we ended [chapter 49] with Jacob blessing his 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
When he gets to the son/tribe Judah- he says ‘the scepter shall not depart from Judah’. This promise is later personalized to David- where God promises that one of the physical sons of David will always sit ‘on the throne’.
Now- this is where it gets interesting- this promise to David- sometimes referred to as ‘the sure mercies promised to David’. This very promise is quoted by Peter in the book of Acts- as having been fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That God did indeed keep his promise to David- and raised up one of his ‘sons’ [David and Jesus both come from the lineage of Judah] to take the throne- forever.
That’s good stuff- for sure.
Okay- after the kingdoms [northern and southern] are taken captive- God raises up various prophets who basically speak Gods word to the people in their various states of captivity [this is contained in the other O.T. books of the prophets].
So in a way- you just saw a panoramic view of the whole Old Testament.
Now- of course we skipped a lot of ground- didn’t get into the great defeat of Goliath by David- or talk about the confrontation between king Ahab [a wicked king from the north] and the prophet Elijah.
We did not cover the walls of Jericho falling down as the people walked around the city for 7 days.
Yes- there are lots of good stories in these books- but when we [I] do an overview like this- what we are trying to do is simply give a broad outline of what we are looking at.
The same goes for the N.T. overview we did.
Too often when new believers [or old!] make an attempt to ‘get into the bible’ they start with Genesis- and they quit in Leviticus!
It’s easy to get lost in the details- while not seeing the big picture.
So I like for believers to first go through a good overview of bible history- not so much a study of each book- which is good in its time- but more of getting a good grasp of the overriding themes.
Let’s end with an interesting encounter that Jesus had with a woman from ‘Samaria’. In John chapter 4 Jesus sees a woman at the well- he asks her ‘can you draw some water for me’. She is shocked- she says ‘why are you- a Jew- asking me- a Samaritan- to do this’.
And in parentheses- the apostle John writes [the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans]. This can actually be translated in a way that says legally the southern tribe of Judah was not allowed to do business with the northern tribe of Israel- now referred to as ‘the Samaritans’ which is the name of that original competing capitol city that Jeroboam set up in the north.
Ah- the racism- the elitism- it carried for hundreds of year- centuries of viewing the ‘other side’ as unclean.
What Jesus did at the well that day was indeed a violation of the rule of the day. When his disciples came back- and saw him talking to the woman- they were speechless.
This Samaritan woman goes on to believe in Jesus- and she goes and tells all the people in her home town- and many of them will believe too.
Something- after all those years- once again the Samaritans- and the Jews- and the Gentiles- well yes- the whole bunch- they will all become united once again under this king- this Son that has come from the royal line of Judah.
John writes about him in his strange book- called the book of Revelation- in chapter 5 he says no one was able to prevail to open the book in the hand of God.
There was crying- John and the others in this heavenly room before God felt hopeless.
Then an angel says to John ‘don’t weep- the lion FROM THE TRIBE OF JUDAH- he has prevailed to open the book and loose the seals- yes he is worthy’.
 NOT AGAIN!
Okay- because of another late breaking news story- which hit the air last night- I will attempt to write a post without having read any hard news paper coverage. But I did just check up real quick on a few on line news sites- and I think I got the jist of it.
LIGHT SQUARED is another company- connected to a major Democratic party fundraiser- that seems to have gotten special treatment [or maybe illegal suborning of perjury?] in order to get the company approved to do business.
Last week General Shelton [Air Force] gave testimony that this broadband satellite company would indeed risk the U.S.’s ability to run our defense GPS system without any private sector interference.
It seems as if this company [funded by a major inside Dem donor- once again- SOLYNDRA] wants to develop their technology- and use it in a way that would mess up our own GPS system.
So the general was asked by congress to give his professional military opinion on the thing- and the White House told him to add a few things to his presentation. He flat out said no.
The things they wanted him to add were points that would still keep ‘hope alive’ for the company- even though Shelton’s professional opinion was to the contrary.
Okay- if this is true- and this administration has a track record of doing this- then we are really headed for deep water this next year. Look- from the start of the Obama presidency I was not one of those types of critics that hated the man from the get go.
But I also noticed how many of my liberal friends were so enamored with the man- that they could not even think straight.
I was talking to a friend from N.J. one day- she’s a liberal- big time. She told me one day ‘have you ever heard a man speak like this man John- there has been no Black man that has ever spoken like this in the history of our nation’.
Now- after clearing my throat for a minute [you know- like when you get sick real quick after eating something bad] I simply told the girl ‘Do you really believe this? Or are you only watching news shows that keep feeding you that perspective’.
I told her that right now [at the time we had the conversation] there is another prominent Black Democrat- Harold Ford- a congressman from Tenn. And if you simply listen to him- without comparing him to the fake media image of Obama- then you will see that he is just as articulate- just as ‘educated’ and does a great job making Democrat points.
A few weeks later she told me ‘John- I did hear him- and you were right’.
I wasn’t demeaning to Obama at all- I was just trying to show her that for some reason- the media has chosen to support a candidate like never before.
Now- let’s say if the president realized this- that most of his insider friends realized this was happening- you might not think twice about doing special insider favors for friends- because you know these friends [the media- absent fox] will not cover it.
But alas- all has changed. Many who were cheerleaders for the president for the last 3 years- they now realize he has possibly set the party back for 50 years.
When the Queens district voted in a Repub the other night [Wieners former district] that was the first time that district went Repub in 90 years.
Okay- you did have some regional issues that played into it- that area has a strong Jewish community- and many in the Jewish community feel like Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.
But I even heard some Dems spin it- that the voters are so mad at those in office- especially the Repubs- that that’s why they threw out the Dems.
Now- how you can reason that the voters were even more mad at the Repubs- that the way they would send that message- was to vote in the first Repub in 90 years- I mean we are dealing with elements of delusion here.
Then you had a Dem [Henry Waxman] actually say ‘the Jews are more concerned with holding on to their money- so that’s why they did it’.
If this were a Repub- he’d be gone today.
I read an article the other day- it got me mad. It was a pretty long article- on the second page [okay- they thought it didn’t merit front page coverage]. It was comments made by Levi Johnson- Sarah Palin’s ‘former’ son in law.
Levi is the ex boyfriend of Bristol Palin- a girl who is not in public office- she is 20 years old mind you.
This article got into the girls sex life- when she was a minor. They asked levi ‘when you got her pregnant [now you’re talking about a private citizen- a minor at the time] did IT FEEL like she was a virgin’.
Levi said as Far as he could tell- it didn’t.
Now- when my liberal friends laugh at stuff like this- and I’m standing there- I do get tempted to respond. I don’t think it’s funny- and when I watch Obermann and Matthews and O’Donnell- grown men in their 50’s/60’s- laugh openly about how ‘loose’ a minor felt when she got pregnant- that’s a disgrace.
Yet- these same media have not covered truly important stories- stories that if seem to be as bad as they look- then forget about re election campaigning [which is the reason these money guys got the special treatment] we will be lucky to not see impeachment hearings on this stuff.
So as an upfront independent- I challenge both sides of the aisle to try and get past your bias- and see what’s really going on.
When we have media that can find time- and the audacity- to print a story on Palin’s daughter- like that- then the media has lost all sense of justice.
I wanted to hit on 3 stories from Iraq- that I read this last week- but because these other things are taking the oxygen out of the room- well I had to waste time on them.
As the week ends- I am still going to keep an open mind on these things.
SOLYNDRA- LIGHT SQUARED- and don’t forget FAST AND FURIOUS. None of these stories would have gotten congressional scrutiny if the Repubs did not take back the house in the mid terms.
And now that this White House has finally gotten some real coverage- lets do our best to hear both sides. As of now- I don’t know if there is enough evidence to prove a crime has been committed- but it sure looks like one might have.
 I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU
Let’s try and close the week with some bible stuff- I might hit on a few news stories that are important- but let’s start with some scripture.
Today I had a good prayer time- If I get up at 3:30- and the morning is nice- it’s easy to pray for a few hours. On Friday [and Monday] I try to do a prayer routine that covers lots of stuff [world events, world leaders- yes I pray weekly for the president- and a bunch of other stuff].
I will walk the yard- and if there is no wind- then it’s kind of muggy- and it just seems like work. But this morning there was a nice wind- a higher ceiling for the clouds- and almost a full moon. Plus it’s raining as I write [I mean we have been in a drought!].
So it went well. Okay this week I read John 1 [as well as other stuff]. One morning I got up and couldn’t pray- and I remembered the verse where Jesus says ‘I have prayed for you’. I felt like the Lord was saying he took up the slack that day. The bible says Jesus is at the right hand of God and prays for us.
Then the next day I was listening to a favorite radio preacher- and he quoted the whole verse- Jesus says to Peter ‘Peter- satan has desired to have you- that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not- and when you are turned again- strengthen your brothers’.
This occurred near the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus- he spent 3 years with his men- and then it was time to leave. At this point Jesus is spending whole nights in prayer to God- struggling with the completion of his mission- praying things like ‘God- if it’s possible- let this thing go away- if not- let your will be done’. And it’s an ‘existential’ experience [if I remember- I’ll explain this before the post ends].
Yet during this time of struggle- at some point- the Father reveals something to the Son- he tells Jesus ‘you friend Peter- there has been a request made on his life. Satan has come to me for permission to test him- I am going to allow him to go through some very difficult stuff’.
So during this tough time for Jesus- in the midst of his own personal turmoil- his soul ‘being poured out unto death’. He has only a moment with Peter- and he sees what is going to happen- and he simply relates to Peter what God had said.
In the book of Job we read how one day the angels came before God- and satan came too. He asked God for permission to go after Job- and for reasons that we don’t always understand- God said ‘okay’.
So in Peter’s case- this was destined to happen- he will be broken over the thing- probably hate himself for what he will do- yet it’s going to happen.
In John chapter 1 the religious leaders come to John the Baptist- they ask him who he is- sort of like ‘John- who do you think you are- what’s the end game here?’ John responds that he is not the Messiah- he is just a voice in the wilderness- preparing the way for the Lord.
John quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says ‘the voice of one’. They also ask him ‘are you that prophet that was supposed to come first’. This verse is found in the Old Testament book of Malachi. In chapter 3 the prophet says ‘the messenger of the covenant will come suddenly to his temple’ and it speaks of Christ and John.
But when they ask John ‘are you that prophet’ John says no. Was he the one who was to be the forerunner prophet? Actually yes- he was. How do we know this? Jesus himself will later testify that John indeed is the prophet who was to come ‘in the power and the spirit of Elijah’.
So this is one of those cases in the N.T. where you seem to have a contradiction. I think if we read carefully there really isn’t a contradiction- John might have really not understood that he was ‘that prophet’. John- like Peter- Like Jesus- like all the other ones in this story- they are having real life struggles- tough things they are dealing with- and in John’s case he might have thought ‘that prophet- are you kidding me- I’m barley surviving this thing’.
Now- we will read how John gets himself into some hot water. Not only is he preaching about The Lamb of God- he starts saying ‘Herod [the Roman ‘king’ figure that was over the Jewish people] you have take your brother Phillips wife- you can’t have her!’
Herod was the son of Herod the great- we read about ‘the great’ as being the king at the time of Jesus birth- he was the one who had all the babies killed because he heard that Christ was born and he wanted to wipe out the competition- this Messiah who would be ‘The King of the Jews’.
The funny thing was- Herod wasn’t a Jew. Yet he saw himself as the actual Messiah to the Jews- Rome gave Herod [the great] this figure head authority- and it literally went to his head. Now- Herod died soon after the slaughter of the kids- and his son would ‘reign in his place’.
This Herod would be the king at the time of Jesus earthly ministry. This is the king who John the Baptist was preaching against.
One time they came to Jesus- to kind of intimidate him- they said ‘you know- Herod knows about you- he will get you’. Jesus- you know- we are supposed to respect authority- right? He says ‘go tell that fox- that today and tomorrow I do healings and great works- and on the 3rd day I will be perfected’.
Perfected means ‘come to maturity’. This was a reference to his death and resurrection on the ‘3rd day’.
So Johns out there preaching against what he sees as corruption in govt. and one day they finally had enough- Herod puts John in prison.
Now John’s sitting there in prison- right at the time of this great ministry of Jesus. I mean Jesus is healing people left and right- raising the dead. I mean John must have felt vindicated- right?
John’s sitting in jail- and day after day- in this prison- he starts to think ‘geez- I have been stuck here for a while now- I mean I was the forerunner- Jesus said that about me- I’m the voice of one- the guy who proclaimed the truth when no one else was willing to take the risk- what the hell am I doing here- sitting in prison!’
John must have thought he was getting a bad deal. He sends 2 of his disciples to ask Jesus ‘are you the one- or should we look for another?’
Was he having doubts? Come on- Jesus is raising the dead for heaven’s sake- John was basically saying to Jesus ‘are you the one? If so- why am I still in the damn jail!’
John was being sifted. Peter will be- Job was too. For some strange reason- this is how things work. The bread has to be broken before it can feed people.
Of course we know the rest of the story- Herod’s daughter in law will do a dance for the king- and the wife will get the head of John the Baptist on a platter- she got tired of hearing him.
Soren Kierkegaard- the 19th century Christian/Philosopher is considered to be the Father of Existentialism. Existentialism is the philosophy that says you start with ‘existence’ that is you begin the journey with real life passion- real interaction in life. Your failures and your high points- all these real things we experience in life- these are the things that shape us- that make us real.
Soren lived in a day where the Danish state church was dead and formal- and he spoke out against the dead lukewarm orthodoxy of his day.
One time he would say when he got tired of all the religious formalism- the fake plastic face we all put on so other people can’t really see our struggles- he said he would go read the Old Testament- the stories of murder and adultery and covering up crimes- he said these were real stories- of failure and success- of sitting in jail and thinking you might get out- but instead you get your head taken off.
These are the real stories of some of the most hallowed saints of history- yes- human frailty runs right through it all- like some scarlet thread.
One time Jesus said to Peter ‘I have prayed for you’ that sounds great when it stands alone- but when you see it in the context of the whole verse- then you realize that you just might be in for something that you never expected would happen- you might be getting ready to go through a real existential moment- face to face with your own failures and humanity.
Peter will later write ‘beloved- when you go thru trials- don’t think it strange. Realize your brothers are also going through them’ and ‘it is not only our privilege to believe on the name of Jesus- but it is also our privilege to suffer with him’.
Yes Peter went on to get past the sifting- the memory of being the disciple who denied Jesus. I mean Peter was the only one who walked on water [ besides Jesus]- he raised the dead in the book of Acts- how we remember him?
We remember the day he got sifted like wheat. It’s not easy to forget those days- and even harder to live through them.
 STRANGE DREAM [In memory of those who died on 9-11]
I wasn’t going to post today- but as I woke up this morning [the morning of 9-10-11] I remembered what I just dreamt.
I was back at work at the fire dept. and we had a call- as I ran to the fire truck I realized I had left my bunker gear [protective clothing] at the other station.
I realize this might sound strange to some people- but this has happened a few times [more than I would like to admit] over the years.
Sometimes you would get assigned to the other station and you would think ‘I’ll drive straight over’ and you would just get your gear after you do the morning truck check/radio check. And sometimes you would forget to get it- and if you had a call that night- you then thought ‘damn- I forgot my gear’.
Now- you could just grab another guys gear off the rack- but if he was the big guy [or small] then you might not be able to use his gear.
And of course- some of us older guys- who were around for a while- well we got too comfortable at times and at certain fires- well- we actually did not put our gear on.
Maybe there were not a lot of flames actually showing- but a lot of smoke- and we did the stupid thing and walked in thru the front door- maybe for just a minute or so- to see what we had- but that’s a huge no no in the fire service.
When you don’t wear your gear- and have your breathing mask on [Scott Pack] then your breathing in very bad stuff- us older guys were sometimes called ‘fire eaters’ because in the early days this was done too much- and it took many years to ‘re train’ the old guys- they [we] were set in our ways.
I think I might have had the dream because being it’s the 10 year memorial [of those who died!] of the 9-11 attack- they have been playing the video and talking about the event.
As I think about my dream- I can imagine that the guys on duty that day heard the call come in- and often times you think ‘geez- today will be one of those days’. Sometimes you get to work and the fire phone rings off the hook- a day- for whatever reason- that will have lots of fires.
Or a day where you have a big fire. I was telling my daughter a funny story the other night. One year we had a call for the local elementary school being on fire [called Kleberg school- Kingsville, Tx.] and as I arrived on the scene- sure enough- this would be what we called ‘a working fire’ [big fire- need to make it a general alarm and get the off duty guys to come help].
I was the truck operator that day- had to hook up the truck to the hydrant and make sure the hoses had a constant supply of water [by the way- you could get away with forgetting your bunker gear on a day when you pumped the truck- but you never know- a guy might go down and then you’re in trouble- you have to get him out- and you forgot your gear].
So some kid set the school on fire- and we were gonna be up all night for this one. It was kinda funny- after a few hours of pumping the truck watching the guys from the outside- I finally figure I’ll take a look- you know- just step in thru the front door [of course- without the mask] and take a peek.
Now- there is a ton of smoke- both inside and out- so I really didn’t know how bad the damage was. As I walk in the front door- trying hard to see what I’m looking at- I realize I’m seeing stars! Yes- the wall [and door] survived- and that was it!
Okay- as we remember 9-11- we need to be careful that we don’t have too much of a ‘celebratory’ attitude about the thing. I went to the beach with my daughter and a bunch of friends and family for labor day- and it was packed. Yet there was really no difference between the partying spirit of labor day and Memorial day- yet on Memorial day we are supposed to be remembering those who died for the country- I mean we should not be having a ‘good old time’ at a funeral.
So as the weekend moves forward, Bloomberg banning the clergy and all [by the way- as a Protestant- I think it would be perfectly fine to have Bishop Dolan- from St. Patrick’s- there. To even do a prayer. Most of my fellow firefighters who died that day were good Catholic kids- many were Italian like myself- and out of a show of respect- I think the bishop should get a pass].
But as we remember- let’s try not to make the mistake of what our Memorial days have turned into- let’s remember the fallen- and pray for their families this weekend [and all the other guys still on the force]. I did our local prayer thing for a few years at our dept. while on duty- and yes- I did a Christian prayer- ended the thing in Jesus name.
Didn’t want to offend any Muslims or Jews or any other faith- but most of these guys were Christian- they were the ones who died- they deserve the prayer- and respect. We can save political correctness for another day.
 THE GREAT DEBATE [Who is this Galeyoo guy?]
Okay- last night we had the 2nd [I think?] Repub debate of the year. I thought the debate went fairly well- I think Perry did okay- maybe a few bad sound bites that will be used against him [Ponzi scheme] yet overall he faired pretty well.
When I realized it was being broadcast on MSNBC- I almost didn’t watch the thing. This station is so in the tank for Obama- and they play the race card all the time- I thought I might just skip the thing.
But Brian Williams [NBC anchor] did okay. You even got the sense that the political hack- Chris Matthews- was upset that Williams didn’t get more into the Evolution, Gay marriage stuff.
Matthews interviewed Rick Santorum after the debate and kept asking him ‘why did you avoid all the social issues- Abortion, gay rights- and the Evolution stuff’. I mean Mathews was mad. Santorum kept saying ‘Hold on- your network [MSNBC is the cable arm of NBC] never asked me any of those questions’.
Matthews still went on and said ‘no- you’re dodging those issues because you know they make you all look nuts’. My daughter was walking thru the room at the time- she heard conversation and asked ‘who is that guy?’ talking about Matthews- even though she is no political junkie like myself- she still thought he was an idiot.
I told her who he was- she said ‘why don’t they sue him for that’ Oh- the joys of youth [she’s 20]. I mean if I had 3 wishes- you know- one of those deals where you have to think long and hard- I think I might actually waste one for that [suing Matthews to get him to go away].
I also found it interesting how in the after debate coverage- the MSNBC crowd were all basically playing the side of the apologist for Obama- yet the only 2 Black guys on the panel- Gene Robinson and Sharpton- they had some interesting insights. They said that after they heard Perry’s response to the question on why he tried to mandate the vaccine shot for cervical cancer in the state- that his answer was actually intelligent.
As a Texan I remember when this issue came up. A few years back Perry wanted all the kids above the age of 12 to get the shot- a lot of people opposed it and Perry gave a loophole that if you didn’t want the shot you didn’t have to get it. At the time I rejected it for one of my daughters- I went to the school that year to sign her up [you know- the yearly routine] and they did ask- and I said no.
So the 2 Black guys on the panel said they felt Perry was actually more intelligent than he has been made out to be. Now- I know Matthews and the other race baiters were not happy about this observation- because it’s their network that has run with the narrative that Perry is a behind the scenes ignoramus. Yes- Rachel Maddow [another panelist] has said this openly on her show.
So why did Robinson and Sharpton make this observation? Look- I know I have angered lots of people who read my blog- my openness about race and all- I mean I’m sure some people have said ‘geez- does this guy believe Whites are better than the other races’ actually- not a whole lot better [You know- I wonder sometimes if people realize when I’m kidding around – I also wonder why I have not been shot yet].
No- actually I think society should be color blind- and we should heed the words of the great Doctor King- we should judge people on their character and not on the color of their skin.
I believe that Robinson and Sharpton- because of their background and the many injustices and stereotypes that they have dealt with thru out life- that they actually began to realize that they were falling for their own in house stereotyping of Perry [idiot] and they began to realize that they were wrong about it.
So all and all I think it went well.
But I just can’t get past the elitist mindset of this crowd. During the debate Perry mentioned that Galileo was outvoted in his day. Later on Sharpton quipped ‘Perry- he even said Galeyoo was outvoted’. Okay- I want to be nice- Sharpton has a new show on MSNBC and I have seen it a few times. Al is the opposite of Obama. When Sharpton is talking off the cuff- like any good preacher- he does well. But when you put the guy in front of a monitor- watch out.
He can’t read the darn thing. Now- I left it alone when he was portraying Perry as a simpleton one day [remember- Sharpton was actually believing the in house spin of his own network]. He was reading ‘Secede’ and saying ‘succeed’ [you know- Perry’s statement about seceding from the union- which was a joke].
And then last night he keeps pronouncing the name of Galileo as ‘Galeyoo’. I mean- it’s just too much.
Was Perry right about Galeyoo? Actually he was. I have actually covered this whole thing in depth on the blog- if you go to the Feb. posts and look up the Evolution sections- it’s in there.
But let’s do a short overview. One of the common misconceptions of the early church is that lots of people believed the earth was flat- this is actually false. As a matter of fact- a few hundred years before Christ most cosmology was based on the Ptolemaic idea.
Ptolemy was one of the 4 generals that took part of the broken Greek kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy introduced a system of the solar system that had the earth as a globe- being surrounded by a sort of crystalline sphere. On this outer sphere were the stars and planets. As this sphere rotated around the earth- you had the variations occur in the heavens thru out the year.
Now- even though this system would later be overturned by ‘Galeyoo’- yet it did work well for around 2 thousand years. Now- during the Copernican revolution [Galileo and Copernicus were both influential in the change of this system] they had developed a better system- through the invention of the telescope man was able for the first time to actually see the solar system up close.
And we then had the great breakthrough of our understanding of the solar system- we are Heliocentric- the sun is indeed the focal point- and we revolve around it- not the other way around [which was the older idea called Geocentric].
Oaky- when Gaioploi first came up with the idea [you do realize I’m talking about Galileo here- I need to clarify this just in case Sharpton reads this post] his initial idea was indeed off. There were some very serious flaws in the initial system.
Other scientists critiqued the plan and found these flaws- yes- the other scientists of the day ‘voted down’ Galeyoo.
But- like all the other spouting heads of MSNBC- why mention facts- especially when you are engaging in speech that says ‘look at the dumb Texan- he rejects science’.
Let me finish with a confession- as somewhat of a quasi intellectual who likes getting into all these types of things- I must admit I also like watching smart comedies- you know- good intellectually stimulating stuff. So let me quote a line from Jack Blacks Nacho Libre.
As Black is trying to convince his wrestling partner to get baptized before the big match- they were going up against another team called Satan’s disciples [or something like that]. Black keeps pushing his partner to get baptized- and the partner refuses- he says ‘I don’t want to get baptized- because I believe in science’. Ah- there it is- the present mantra of the liberal media- Perry, Bachman, Mitt- the whole crowd- these people don’t believe in science- not like us truly intellectual folk- they are all idiots’!
Ah- these guys are all like the people who fought Galileo- they are against true science. You know- I guess an argument like this might have some legs- but when the person making it keeps calling Galileo ‘Galeyoo’ well- maybe not.
 GROUND TRUTH
Let’s finish the week with some ‘ground truth’. Years ago- while working at the Fire Dept. every so often you would get a guy- either a new firefighter- or someone who has been around a while- but they operated primarily from ‘book truth’.
That is-you learn stuff in fire school- you read all the latest fads in the field- but at the end of the day- if the truth be known- some guys don’t do that well in emergency type situations.
So- you work with what you got- and in some more extreme cases- you have tell the person ‘look- we like you- we know you’re a smart guy- but this line of work is not what your cut out for’ and the best thing for him- and us- is he finds another line of work.
Okay- the fire dept that I worked at was in a city with about a population of 30 thousand people- we only had 2 fire stations and around 30 firefighters.
My dept functioned a lot differently than the one my dad retired from in N.J. Because of the limited resources [not a firehouse on every other block type of a thing] we developed a strategy where the frontline truck- the guy who got there first- would drop the attack lines and the booster truck [the truck that got there second] would supply the attack truck with water from the hydrant.
In principle [there goes that book knowledge] the fire truck that was stationed on the east side of town would usually get to their side first- and the same with the west side of town.
But on occasion- if some of the newer guys are talking too long to leave the station [which became a problem that I brought up quite often] then the fire truck from the opposite side of town would arrive at the fire first- and at that point you have to use ground truth to finish the job.
That means the first truck- even if he came from the other side of town- he has to drop the attack lines and the second truck has to boost water from the hydrant. On one occasion I arrived at the scene first- even though I was driving the truck from the other side of town [like I said- some guys were too slow at leaving the station] and I dropped my lines and the house was fully engulfed. So as the other truck got there- he stopped by my truck and just looked- I yelled ‘go hook up at the hydrant- fast!’ I was running low on water in the truck [the trucks hold about 1000 gallons of water- but that only lasts a minute or so at a working fire].
My friend said ‘no- you’re supposed to be the truck that hooks up’ now- this guy was not a new guy- he worked at the fire house for about as long as I did- yet he was the type that you really had problems with every now and then.
And this was one of those ‘thens’. I yelled a few times ‘look- go hook up the damn truck at the hydrant- I’m running out of water’ [and yes- I’m sure some other flowery speech came out]. The guy wouldn’t budge- I almost had to threaten him to hook the truck up- he finally did.
Okay- this is an example of well meaning people- people who have ‘head knowledge’ about stuff- yet they lack real world knowledge. This doesn’t mean they are bad people- they just don’t fit the job they are doing at the time.
Okay- said all that to say this. These last few weeks I have read lots of news articles on Texas- how Perry lied about Texas job growth. How he really took the federal money- and that’s why the jobs grew.
Or how he is a hypocrite because he [like other Repub governors] has complained about federal spending- and yet he took the money.
Let me say- I have lived in Texas since 1980- and just by me being familiar with the state- we have had lost of jobs come to the state- simply because the other states [Cal, etc.] had way too much regulation and taxes on business.
Now- whether you hold to a more liberal view or not- I’m’ just stating ‘ground truth’ right now. The job growth in Texas is not because we took fed money- all the states took money- and that hasn’t improved their economies one iota.
The facts are Texas is a business friendly state- and that’s why the jobs came.
Okay- I have also seen the fed govt do things that have hurt the jobs in Texas. One of the fights going on right now is over the EPA [environmental protection agency] and whether it has the right to regulate the co2 production in the state.
Basically the govt has been trying to pass laws saying co2 is a pollutant- and because of that- the EPA can shut down certain types of plants that over produce the levels of co2.
Now- remember- you have ‘book truth’ and ‘ground truth’. The ground truth is that the fed govt expects certain business to convert over to ‘clean energy’ in a time table that is unrealistic- and because they are trying to empower the EPA to be able to come in and regulate- well this has scared some business away from the state.
Now- what is co2? In this debate- you often hear the global warming side that says ‘co2 is a bad pollutant- we must rid the world of it before it’s too late!’ Yet there are real questions about whether or not co2 gas is truly a pollutant.
The present level of co2 in our atmosphere is around 390 ppm [parts per million]. Before the industrial age- around 150 years ago- the levels were around 270 ppm.
Co2 is produced naturally in our world. When you breathe out- your are producing co2. When forests burn- co2 is released. And yes- when we burn fossil fuels for business- co2 is released.
Why? Because co2 is in the things we burn- they make up the stuff of life. Humans are basically made of Carbon- and this material is in all sorts of life and plants and stuff.
Okay- what are the safe levels for co2? Both NASA and the U.S. Navy have done extensive studies on this- because the submariners and the astronauts deal with special situations that concern the mixing of gases in the blood- and the upper level for safe co2 is around 8000 ppm.
Geologists tell us that the planet used to function at about a 1000 ppm level- and that the planet did well at that time [millions of years ago- before we had any factories!]
What’s the lowest ‘safe level’ of co2? Humans and animals can survive without any co2 in the air- but plants need around 270 ppm to do okay- and if you go under 150 ppm- then they are in real trouble.
Studies have been done that show the orange groves in Cal. have a much higher production rate now [around 30 %] then before the industrial age- because the levels of co2 are at a higher rate.
Some greenhouses have an increased level [around 1000 ppm] because plants thrive at higher levels [have you choked on pollution at your local greenhouse lately?]
So- the safe low level would be around 200 ppm- at the high end of the scale- maybe around 5000 ppm. So where are we at today?- around 390 ppm.
The way the media talk about the thing- you would think we are in danger of hitting the top of the scale- if the truth be known-we are closer to the bottom than the top.
Okay- said all that to say this- being there are lots of real questions about dealing with these levels- should we be closing down businesses- at a TIME WHERE PEOLE ARE LITERALLY STARVING FOR JOBS- simply because of some supposed book knowledge truth- that as you look at it- it doesn’t even seem to be book knowledge.
As the president gives his speech this coming week on jobs- yes- let’s do our best to work together for the next year and see if we can help those who are hurting. But at the same time- you can’t keep making ‘head knowledge’ decisions- based on book truth- when those in the real world know what needs to be done.
Sometimes you have to yell ‘go hook up the damn truck!’ and I think we are at that time.
I was going to cover Exodus- but let’s close up a few loose ends instead. Yesterday I mentioned that this Justice Dept- headed under Eric Holder- has some very real problems.
About a year or so ago- right after Obama took office- there were changes that were made that concerned people who worked at the justice dept.
Basically- you had the case of the ‘New Black Panther Party’ which were a small group that protested outside of election sites during the presidential election.
By anyone’s standard- these guys sure looked intimidating. I don’t know if you remember the pictures- but they were tall Black guys- wearing gang type looking stuff- carrying bats.
I would imagine that a 90 year old White grandma would take one look and say ‘maybe I’ll skip voting this time around’.
Okay- because of the civil rights movement in our country- we passed laws against this- against people being intimated from voting. Now- some Black advocates have said that these laws were meant only to defend the rights of Blacks being intimidated by Whites- and as hard as this is to believe- some of the top Black people who were put in charge at the justice dept. [Holder is Black] do believe and practice this.
So- when the case of the Black Panthers came up- these people working for Obama- did drop the case. Other people [who were heroes in the defense of Blacks!] asked ‘why are we dropping the case’? And they were told that this justice dept. does not believe in prosecuting Blacks- by using laws that were meant to defend Blacks.
Okay- at the time you had a long time employee of the justice dept. quit- and he became a whistle blower. He exposed the fact that they were even asking applicants if they believed that the voting rights laws applied equally to Blacks as well as Whites- if you agreed [which is the right way to go on this] then you did not get hired.
So this White lawyer who quit- he exposed the whole thing- I mean this is corrupt- to be honest about it. The response? They accused ‘Whitey’ of being a racist. Now- I watched the congressional hearings on CSPAN- and it just so happened that this White lawyer was a champion of Black rights.
He was sort of affiliated with the southern poverty law center- a legal group that has a reputation of defending Blacks- and he received many awards thru out his life for his service to the minority community.
And of course his reward for telling the truth? You’re a racist.
Now- you would think that this type of history inside the justice dept. that it would explain why all these cases of Black on White violence [last post] why none of them are being treated as hate crimes. Yet if you are White- or you commit an act of violence against a Black or gay person- your going away for a long time. But if you’re Black- like the flash mobs- who have targeted Whites- because they are White- these crimes are not deemed to fall under the hate crimes rules.
Obviously- this is a huge scandal. Yet instead of these race violations being exposed in the media- they come up with all sorts of stuff- that compared to this- are nothing.
The other day I heard a Democratic activist- on a news show- talking about Herman Cain [the Black Repub candidate for Pres.]. Now- I like God Fathers Pizza [he used to be the CEO] but to be honest- Cain seems like a good guy- but he’s not going to get the nomination.
Never the less- he has every right to run. But as they were talking about Cain- they openly accused him of being an Uncle Tom. They said he is probably being paid by White insiders- to give legitimacy to the racism on the right- that they can cloak their racism by having a Black token on the team.
I mean the language- the racist language- was deemed acceptable because those who were using it were on the left.
Here in Texas we have a state rep. She makes it into the news every so often. Now- she is Mexican- I love Mexicans- many of my best friends are Mexican- but this woman made a charge a few years ago- she said that a White Repub. confronted her one day and said ‘if you act like Meskins- we are gonna treat you like Meskins’. Okay- she went public with the charge.
Of course- the media wanted to expose the racist who said it- but after a while they found out she made the whole thing up.
Now- you should be kicked ‘the heck’ out of office for that- but because she is on the left side of the aisle- she is deemed a hero.
I don’t know why those who support the president play into this race card stuff- because I think the pres. himself does not play into it. Yet his supporters- guys like Al Sharpton- play the card day after day- I mean surely they must realize that they are never going to re gain the independent vote if they keep doing this stuff.
Look- all race baiting is wrong- and if you have real cases of hate crimes- or one race targeting another [like pulling Whites out of cars in Wisconsin] then the justice dept. has to be race neutral- you can’t have a rogue justice dept. not prosecuting these cases.
Yet they have indeed embraced a radical anti White view- and this has been shown time after time.
So- as a White guy- should I not speak out? We should all speak out against racism- no matter what your color is- it’s wrong. It’s wrong to be racist against Blacks, Whites, Mexicans- against anyone because of their race.
And it’s wrong to say that the voting rights laws only apply to one group- that view is flat out racist- and that’s the view our present justice dept. has taken- where’s the media on stuff like this?
 OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY CONTINUED
Let’s do some more on our survey of the Old Testament. In the past I did a commentary on the book of Genesis- so let’s just overview it briefly today.
Like I discussed the other day- the first 11 chapters cover a lot. You have the creation account, Noah’s flood and the origination of people groups [Tower of Babel- sometimes referred to as the table of nations].
Then in chapter 12- thru the end of Genesis- you read the story of one man and his family. God appears to Abraham- promises him a few things- and then the rest of Genesis covers this family.
In chapter 12 [and 15] God makes a covenant [promise] to Abraham. God says if you leave your home town- go to a place that I will show you [he goes by faith- doesn’t even know the final destination yet] then I will make you into a great nation- I will give you all the land and you will be a blessing to all nations.
The story continues with Abraham’s son Isaac- then to Jacob. Jacob’s name is changed to Israel- he has his 12 sons and they eventually go to Egypt and multiply.
Jacobs’s sons betray the favored son- Joseph- and they sell him into slavery. Eventually Joseph gains favor in Egypt and becomes the top administrator under Pharaoh. The land experiences a severe famine and the other boys who betrayed Joseph have to find food- in Egypt!
They go back to Egypt- they eventually have to confront Joseph and he forgives them and the entire family of Jacob [Israel] moves into Egypt [Goshen].
Genesis ends with the original promise of becoming a great nation only partly fulfilled. Though Abraham’s family did become huge- yet Abraham dies without possessing any land in the Promised Land- except his burial spot.
The book ends with some terrific promises that Jacob gives to the boys- this is a type of patriarchal blessing that the father passes on to the sons. A death bed blessing. And the sons go away with the final word from dad [a few ‘blessings’ are actually rebukes].
Okay- pretty simple- you just learned the whole book of Genesis- not that hard. Over viewing the bile like this is important [for those who want to learn] because it keeps the focus on the main thing.
Many people start out reading the bible with good intentions- and the first 2 books are interesting [Genesis, Exodus] but then you do get a little bogged down in Numbers and Leviticus and stuff.
If you get a basic overview of what’s going on- that God is ‘presenting’ Jesus to us- at an early stage- thru all these stories- then it helps to not get lost in the details.
Eventually these promises that God makes to Abraham get fulfilled- and the apostle Paul [and Peter- Acts] see the fulfilling of God blessing all nations thru Abrahams son- they say that this promise is today fulfilled thru Christ- one of the sons [down the line] of Abraham.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians- chapter 3- he refers to this Abrahamic blessing and says it’s the promise of the Spirit being given to all who believe- that the blessing is being justified by faith thru Christ.
When we cover the 2nd book of the Pentateuch [Torah- the first 5 books of the Old Testament] Exodus- we will see the tables turn on the Jewish people- they multiply so much in Egypt that a new pharaoh will arise and begin persecuting the people.
This leads to the story of Moses- the Ten Commandments and the continued sags of ‘Abraham and his kids’. Okay- try and read some of these books the next week or so. Read a few of the key chapters I mentioned. I would also say read Genesis 22- the story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the altar.
This took place on a mountain called Moriah- which is the same mountain that God will offer his Son on many years later- Calvary.
Obviously this chapter is a key chapter in the story.
Okay- that’s it for now- and to all men friends in the North East- be careful. I’m praying for you all. Earthquakes- Hurricanes- yes it’s tough.
You are all in my prayers.
 DARWIN’S RELIGION
In keeping with the last post let’s do a little more on Genesis- and the whole debate over science and religion. Because of the way this debate raged right around the turn of the 20th century [18-19 hundreds] there were many fine Christians who sort of had the impression that Evolution- as fully defined in Darwin’s way- was indeed proven beyond all doubt.
This was certainly not true. What we were learning from science was basically the actual thing that Darwin observed on his Galapagos Island tour- science showed us that species of things do change/adapt to their environment over time. And that these changes do indeed get passed along to following generations.
Modern Biology does show us- beyond all doubt- that ‘micro’ evolution does take place [when I say micro I mean evolution within species].
Darwin- as well meaning as he was- carried the idea further and thought ‘heck, maybe that’s where all species have come from- one common ancestor that eventually branched off over millions of years- and that’s the starting point’.
Now- was Darwin a nut to think this? No- at the time [late 1800’s] we did not know what we know today. It was assumed that living cells were not complex and that something like this was possible.
But since Charlie’s day- we have found out that living cells- no matter how hard we try- or observe- they simply never ‘change’ from one type of cell into another.
As a matter of fact- this scientific fact is so tested- it has left many scientists to re think the whole theory.
Now- why is it so hard for them to ‘re think’ it? You have to understand- for anyone in the field of science to even talk about evolution possibly not being true- it puts you in the category of a nut case.
And I have read/heard statements from non Christian scientists who say this very thing. They can’t get heard- even though the most basic plank of Evolution [common ancestry] has basically been shown to never happen.
See the dilemma? Yet around the turn of the century many fine scholars- men like B.B. Warfield from Princeton- they embraced evolution because they thought the Genesis account left room for various interpretations. And they thought that Darwin was proven to be right- all the way.
So today we have the problem of biased science- that is science that has gotten to a point we they can’t really admit that after 150 years- it does seem that Darwin’s initial idea- which came at a primitive time- was just wrong.
Now- does this mean the ‘God’ idea is right? Well for me- and others- sure. But I can float another scenario- which would still not explain the actual origin of life- but it would fit better than common ancestry.
That idea would be instead of thinking that one original life form arose from the Primordial Soup- you say many arose.
That’s it- you have solved a huge problem by just adjusting the theory- so why don’t they adjust it? Well Darwin’s theory has become more of a religious belief than anything else- to challenge it is considered scientific heresy.
Okay- what about Genesis? Yesterday I gave you some ideas on how different people view it. At the same time that Evolution was being hyped- you also had what’s called ‘higher criticism’ arise out of the universities of Germany. These were the scholars [Butlmann- etc.] that kind of thought the new scientific age was on the rise- humanism was the future- and if there was any chance to ‘save religion’ then ‘religion’ had to adapt.
These guys meant well- but they threw out too much. They embraced an idea called ‘The Demythification of religion’. They thought that the bible still had valuable moral stories in it [Sermon on the Mount] but when it came to science and stuff like that- well a lot of that was told as Myth- not Myth life a fairy Tale- but Myth meant it really was unreliable in these areas.
Many fine men embraced an idea that challenged the historical accuracy of the first 11 chapters of Genesis- stories like a talking Serpent in the Garden- Noah’s Flood- the Tower of Babel- all of these ‘stories’ are found in the first 11 chapters- and it was easy for these scholars to say ‘see- these are not ‘real’ stories- they are Myth’.
Okay- what’s the problem? Well- when you look at various portions of the bible- it is true that some parts are poetry- others are historical narrative- others are Prophetic- and it is helpful to know these types of distinctions.
But if you view Adam and Eve- or Noah’s Flood [you know- the whole world being saved by a man and his family on a boat!] If you read the New Testament Jesus says ‘as it was in the days of Noah’ or ‘in the beginning God created them male and female’ now you have Jesus referring to these first 11 chapters- and he is speaking about them in a way that sure sounds like true history.
See? So these types of debates do rage at times- but overall the bible has stood up to the test of time. Many of the critics will use some of these things to challenge the church- and in a noble effort some good scholars jumped a little too quickly onto the Darwin bandwagon- especially at a time when some scientists are looking for a way to get off!
Today I want to talk a little bit more about the bible and science- maybe over the next few weeks I’ll do a sort of overview of the Old Testament- like I just did with the New Testament.
I think it’s important for believers to have a basic grasp on some of the ideas about creation- evolution- and the whole debate in general.
I have written a lot in the past on the various theories- and won’t try and cover it all again- but just give some parameters that kind of frame this debate.
The other day I saw a news clip of an actor that I used to like- Matt Damon. I always liked Good Will Hunting and the Boerne Identity flicks. Some reporter asked him a question that kind of pit the right against the left [politically]. He replied with some ‘high faluttin’ language- I mean you could tell he really thinks he is the Good Will guy- but he did it in a way that said ‘you inferior intellects of the world- why must we have to put up with you’!
Sort of like when Tyson gave his speech on the inferior skills of those who were losing to him- they were losing because they were truly behind the advanced world of scientific boxing [not because Tyson fought you like ‘you stole something from him’ the quote of a defeated foe]. I sensed in Damon’s response a feeling that you pick up when the media tries to cover this whole debate.
The other day they showed a clip of some kid asking Perry ‘why do you not believe in evolution’ and Perry actually answered in a good way- he said ‘in Texas the schools teach both creation and evolution [actually that’s not true] and that evolution has some gaps to it’.
You then heard the mom in the background saying ‘ask him why he rejects science’ and of course you knew which way the report was going.
The history behind the way Christians view the book of Genesis [and creation] has varied lots over the years. Many old earth creationists [like myself] have argued for a ‘less literal’ hard line stance on the Genesis account- yet also not fully accepting the evolutionary view of things.
Others are what you would call Theistic evolutionists- they believe evolution is God’s way of doing things.
And others hold to a literal 6 day creation- with no room for any sort of symbolism at all.
All these views have some type of problem with them- something that you could find and say ‘see- this is why this view is wrong’.
And as I read the different views- I try and stay open to the best arguments from all sides.
As you read Genesis chapter 1- you see the Account of God creating all things. You have the 6 days of creation with God resting on the 7th day.
You do see somewhat of a framework right in the 6 days. For instance- on day 1 you have God making light- yet he doesn’t create the sun and luminaries until day 4.
On day 2 he creates the sky and water- day 5 birds and fish.
Day 3 he makes the land and plants- and day 6 he makes man and animals.
So you see a sort of ‘2 tiered’ system here- God making on the first ‘3 days’ the things that correspond on the last [2nd set] of ‘3 days’.
Now- this does not mean you have to spiritualize the whole thing- but there is room here for more than meets the eye.
The strict creationists argue that even though God made the light on day 1- and the sun and stars didn’t appear until day 4- they actually teach that for the first 3 days God had made another source of light- that we don’t know about- and this source lasted for only the first 3 days.
I see problems with a rigid view like that- I would prefer to see it the way I just showed you- that God is doing the creating- and it is done in 6 days- yet we are not getting a scientific account here- God is showing us things that we could grasp as regular folk who are picking up the bible and reading it for the first time.
So as you can see these types of debates can go on for a while.
The main point I want to make is the Church has always had room for true science to ‘fit in’ with the text- the church has not always taken a hard line ‘creationist stance’ on these things.
And at the same time there are many problems with the actual theory of evolution [Perry’s gaps] problems that I see that many of the media folk have no grasp on. For instance you do have a whole bunch of science that does seem to say that one species of a thing can never- ever evolve into another thing.
The science on this very fact has caused many scientists- unbelieving scientists- to ask ‘is it time for us to re think the theory’. But when you listen to the news people- or to Mom telling her kid ‘ask him why he doesn’t believe in science’ you realize that many of these ‘enlightened folk’ have no idea what they are talking about.
Yes- they sound like the Matt Damons and the Tysons of the world ‘you have no place with us in this advanced world of the intellect- we have surpassed your Neanderthal ideas- we are the new generation’.
Yes- I see the lines being drawn already- the Perry’s of the world are now going to be contrasted with the enlightened folk- I just wish both sides would spend a little more time listening to each other- and realize that we are not as far apart on some of these things as we think- we might be able to all get along someday- but who knows when that day will get here.
 LIBYA, SYRIA AND FAST AND FURIOUS
Last night I watched the coverage of the bombs going off in Tripoli- you see all these explosions lighting up the dark capitol city- and the coverage under the bombing said ‘Gadhaffi’s last stand- will he unleash his violence on Tripoli’s civilians?’
Of course the bombs are our side- and we have advanced- backing the Rebels- thru city after city this last month. Human rights agencies have reported ‘our side’ murdering civilians- looting businesses- burning down many homes of civilians- all the while the media coverage is talking about Gahaffi’s human rights abuses.
We had a Black congresswoman go over to Libya- she heard reports that the Rebels [our side] were lynching Blacks [I kid you not] according to her reporting- this was true. I explained it before- the Black skinned Africans in Libya are primarily the mercenaries that Gadhaffi has hired from Southern Africa- so if the rebels catch a Black skinned person- he’s a dead man- just because he’s Black- these are OUR GUYS- the side we and NATO are backing.
CNN has been showing the pictures- UNCONFIRMED- of children and dead adults in Syria- now- I think Assad is an evil ruler- and I agree with our president’s recent call for his ouster- he said it publicly for the first time the other day.
But as CNN continues to show the pictures of dead kids- and they say they can’t confirm them- they must realize that in a situation like Syria- if you ‘UP THE ANTE’ FOR ONE SIDE TO GAIN GREATLY BY THE IMAGE OF A DEAD KID- THEN YOU HAVE JUST GREATLY INCREASED THE VALUE OF ONE SIDE GETTING A DEAD KID.
Look- I don’t know if the anti Assad side has done this- but if the American media can’t confirm who killed the kid- we need to stop upping the damn ante!
Over these last few months I have watched the congressional hearings over FAST AND FURIOS- the name of the disastrous scheme cooked up by the ATF in an attempt to trace the guns of Mexican drug runners.
In this crack pot plan- the U.S. knowingly allowed guns to be sold illegally to these gun runners. These guns were then found at the scene of the death of one of our law enforcement guys- and this administrations Justice Dept. did all they could do- with the help of the media- to not report the story.
Over time- because the hearings are on CSPAN- you heard and saw the dissimulation of the Administrations law enforcement people- and it was obvious to see that this thing is a scandal of huge proportions- they are just hoping the public will believe the media- and not the real story [Gadhaffi unleashes his violence on his own people- while showing us dropping bombs].
I have watched the U.S. agents testify that they kept warning- screaming- for someone to stop this horrendous plot. They actually have said- over recorded phone calls- ‘look- your getting us all killed down here!’
The Mexican govt. grilled us over this- one Mexican reporter [not a single U.S. one by the way] asked Obama about this- you could tell he knew about it- and was not being upfront.
Then you had the top ATF guy- in charge of this scheme- asked ‘why did you make cell phone calls to so and so [a political insider- inside the ring of the president] right after you found out the plan was going to go public’.
This guy said he was just friends with this insider- he just called to say hi. Then when asked by congress- ‘did you talk about this plan with this insider’ he repeatedly said ‘specifically- no’.
Then when the congressman asked ‘look- in your response- don’t use specifically- did you discuss this operation with this insider’ he then looked befuddled- sort of like ‘gee- let me think for a moment’ then answered yes.
What does that tell us? This guy- and all the other guys covering up- have all been coached on what to do to cover this thing up.
This week I saw our ‘illustrious’ past majority leader in the papers once again. Yes- the Hammer- Tom Delay was going back to court. If you remember the Dems went after him- charging him with Money Laundering.
Now- those of you who are not from Texas- I have been in Democratic politics [not Repub!] for 30 years. I was [still am] a member of a Democratic union- the international association of fire fighters.
In Texas politics- you used to get around the law [which the Supreme Court changed this past year by the way] that forbid actual corporate dollars to go to campaigns in Washington. The way you got around the law was you used a form- CALLED A MONEY SWAPPING FORM [I kid you not] and you took whatever contribution was given- and then you sort of sent the money to a general fund- and then from another fund they would take the non corporate dollars and that’s how they got around the law.
Now- this is no secret in Texas- everyone knows this. This actual act is legal.
But then a few years back- the highly partisan Dem prosecutor from Austin [Ronnie Earl]- who oversees Delays district- decided to go after Delay for doing this- but he would try and convince a jury that Delay laundered money in violation of U.S. drug/mafia laws- a legal case that has never been attempted in the political realm- after all- actual ‘money swapping’ is legal.
Sure enough- he managed to convict Delay- for doing what we all do- by convincing the jury that Delay laundered money.
Now- to all my insider Dem buddies- they couldn’t believe they got the man- for something they all do- all the time. I mean they have forms that say USE FOR MONEY SWAPS.
I mean the scam was too good to be true- thats the scam of sending Delay to prison for what we all know is done all the time.
Yet in the media- you would think the man actually laundered DRUG MONEY- it’s the classic example of the media deciding to pick a side- and then they just trust that the viewing public will not think for themselves.
I don’t know what will happen in all these cases- but to have the U.S. justice dept. obviously scheming to get around an investigation- one that involves many guns being used [up until this very hour!] and some of them being used to kill our guys- this rises to the level of people being prosecuted- or even being impeached- if you did indeed cover something like this up.
We are not talking leaking the name of someone to the media [Valerie Plame] or even covering up a botched break in [Watergate] we are talking about covering up a botched scheme that has actually killed our law enforcement guys- and we have our guys on record saying ‘your getting us all killed down here- stop the damn program’.
But if the media can convince us that Gadhaffi is unleashing a slaughter on his own people in Tripoli- while showing us actual footage of our side bombing the city- then I guess they can convince us of anything- I know there’s a bunch of people right now in Washington- who hope they will.
A few months back as I was sitting in my lawyer’s office- I noticed he had a painting of the great Christian martyr- Thomas Moore. I mentioned ‘Oh- Thomas Moore’ and I went on to overview his great life- and his convictions to not deny what he believed to be true- even at the point of death.
I figured my lawyer- who was a former JAG officer- would at least have some idea who the man was- he did have an expensive painting of the man on his wall- but to my surprise he had no idea who/what I was talking about.
Moore got caught up in the English reformation fights- King Henry would break with Rome and there was lots of political maneuvering going back and forth. Ultimately Thomas would get caught in the thing and he was executed because he would not deny Papal authority and accept the Kings new belief that he was the head of the English church.
Moore was also famous for his book- Utopia. It was a fictional account of this land where everyone shared and they did not live for gain- a kind of Marxist idea- centuries before Marx.
Lest do a little Utopian Redux. Say if this past year I were to tell you that this land existed on the other side of the world. It was made up of Perry’s, Bachman’s- Jerry Falwell types- you know the whole 9 yards.
In this land they hated gays- I mean all they do all day is talk about anti gay stuff! Let’s says they also are so right winged- that they have taught all the little Black kids to take up arms against their govt.
They also spread rumors that when the other countries try to come and help us- that they are secretly trying to poison us. So the kids refuse the vaccines that the developed nations are offering free of charge.
Let’s says Christianland also is experiencing one of the worst famines in history- I mean thousands of children have died- and many more thousands are on the verge of dying.
But the Christians in Christianland are so bad- that they have even used their radical religious beliefs to fight the food aid coming into the country- and because of this many of the little Black kids are dying- on a huge scale.
Do you think a story like this would get attention?
Actually this story is real- it is happening right now as I write- except ‘Christianland’ is really Somalia- and the Christians are really radical Muslims. Yes- this is the present situation in Somalia today.
Now- how has the media reported this story? Have they really covered the radical religious beliefs of this group- Al Shabab- I mean have they spent days and weeks and months harping on the sad religious angle of the story?
The vice president’s wife went there a few days ago- she came back to report on why the aid is not getting through. She spoke of the West’s responsibility to do what we can to help- but she made no mention of the fact that the religious radicals are indeed causing much of the problem.
Yet as I watched the talking heads all week- they can’t stop doing shows on Christian parents beating their kids to death [one case- Anderson Cooper is covering it like there were hundreds of thousands of cases- and he is implicating all Christians who have ever disciplined their kids with spanking].
They are consumed with any past statements from Bachman on Homosexuality- I mean they can’t stop!
Last night Christine O’Donnell [Remember- I am not a witch?] walked off the Peirs Morgan show because he just couldn’t resist drilling her on masturbation.
Let’s say if every time a gay rights advocate- who was not gay- who just supported gay marriage- say if we asked them all the time ‘so you advocate for anal sex’ and we made this the most notable thing- we talked about the actual act- described it in detail. And then said ‘well this is relevant- because you believe in gay marriage’.
And last but not least- yes- these wonderful open minded news folk- these non tea party reasonable people- yes it was only a matter of time before they would pull out their favorite card- you know- the race card.
On MSNBC Matthews [who has himself spoken about a sort of masturbation feeling he gets when he listens to the president- ‘a tingle goes up my leg’ is he describing foreplay?] had on 2 Texas politicos. They were on a split screen- top and bottom. The guy on the bottom was Jim Hightower- he used to be in the Texas political scene years ago- I guess he now has a radio show.
The other guy was a liberal from Dallas.
Matthews is engaging in his usual un informed speech- and as he is mocking the Texan [Perry]- even saying ‘the all hat and no cattle guy’ it’s hard not to laugh- seeing Hightower sitting there- with his Stetson beaming high!
And here it comes- the Dallas reporter quoted the words of Perry from a recent prayer rally- he said how Perry spoke about a ‘Dark Cloud’ hanging over the nation- and that Perry believes he is the White hope that will get rid of this ‘Dark cloud’.
You know- when the left does this- purposefully injects race into the game- when we all know the real meaning of Perry’s words were not about race- then the left destroys the dialogue- they make it impossible to engage in enlightened speech.
A few weeks ago- during one of the Repub debates- CNN had on a regular Dem. Guest. His name is Cornell Belcher [he is Black]. As John King was asking them how they thought the debate went- Belcher- innocently kept using a phrase that I knew made King jump out of his boots.
Remember- John King- after the Gifford’s shooting- when the media publicly blamed Sarah Palin for the 6 deaths- King and others critiqued the right for using violent speech. King even went so far- I think honestly- that he rebuked one of his guests for saying ‘target’ or something like that.
So as he’s talking to Belcher- Belcher says that Pawlenty blew it- because he wasn’t tough enough on Romney. He then said- repeatedly ‘in these debates you have to cut the man- and make him bleed’.
Now- I saw King- I knew he was uncomfortable- but he let it slide. Then sure enough- Belcher again says ‘no- you can’t just slice the man- he must bleed too’.
He obviously was saying Pawlenty needed to not just go after Romney- but score some points. Look- I know what the guy was saying- and I did not hear any right winger rake the man over the coals- but the left were able to use the term ‘Dark Cloud’ and insinuate that Perry- and all the other right wing- anti gay- anti masturbation- child killing advocates- that they are the main cause of all the ills in the world- that if they would stop being the way they are- that the world would become a modern day Utopia- sort of like Obama spoke about in the early days of his presidency.
But no- we have a real world religious radical group- directly responsible for the deaths of many thousands of little Black kids- and this groups radical views are causing the parents of these kids to reject the free vaccinations- and their kids are dying by the thousands because of this- yet the media for some reason doesn’t see this as a major right wing religious problem- no- they want to air Bachman’s church recordings where she prays for gays- they want to go back 15 years and see why Christine does not like masturbation.
They want to find a phrase in Perry’s prayer- that they can use to say ‘they hate Black folk’ yes the media are doing such a great job- I just wish I could find some place to hide- to go away from all these talking heads- maybe a place called Utopia.
 HE NAILED IT TO THE CROSS
[Correction- in the last post I mentioned birds having a different respiratory system than other animals. The mistake I want to correct is birds do have a sort of lung system- but they don’t have a diaphragm- they don’t breathe in and out- the same way other animals/people do. Everything else in the post is accurate- just wanted to clarify this part].
‘For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordnances- that he might create in himself one new man so making peace….and you who were dead in sins God made alive…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us..He took the law and nailed it to his Cross’ Ephesians chapter 2 and Colossians chapter 2.
Okay- as I have said in the last few posts- most of our New Testament was made up of the letters that the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the 1st century. The main themes of these letters are the death and resurrection of Christ- the Cross- what that means to us.
These 2 chapters mentioned above deal with what’s called a Mystery. In the N.T. writings of Paul- mystery simply means the revealing of a truth for the 1st time. One of these truths was the reality that Jesus took the law [10 commandments and all the regulations that man could not live up to] and he nailed it to his Cross.
Now- when he did this- he not only reconciled [brought us back] us to God- but he also removed the ‘enmity’ that caused ethnic divisions between the Jews and non Jews.
In today’s terms we would say the death of Christ removes all racial/ethnic barriers between the people groups of the world. When people read these types of verses- maybe for the first time- it does seem to go against the common understanding that most Christians have.
We often are raised in a good church as kids- I went to Catholic school for the first few years of my life- then switched to public school so I could hang out with my friends. But I still went to CCD classes right down the block from my grade school.
And for the most part I learned Christianity from good priests- and the process was worth it [though many of my Protestant friends will be upset with me because I say stuff like this]. And like most ‘good’ kids- some of the stuff stuck with me- but lots just fell away.
Eventually I would go thru some crisis things- got in some trouble in Texas- was a young kid on my own- and did get into reading the bible.
That’s what really did it for me- reading these truths- straight from the bible- thinking ‘geez- I never knew the bible actually said stuff like this!’
And Walla- a Texas convert! But as time progressed- and I began to get serious about studying church history and the whole realm of Christianity- I came back to an appreciation of my early Catholic roots- I didn’t have to ‘hate’ the Catholics- like many of my friends did [and do] I just needed to see the overall view of the bible- and understand that many churches- like all institutions- do have a tendency to get lost in the bureaucracy as time moves on.
So my goal at this season is to simply re introduce a lot of the bible teachings- along with a healthy appreciation of the historic churches.
The above verses talk about the New Covenant- like I said these past few days- the New Covenant is the new ‘deal’ that God made with man- saying ‘My Son died for you- if you believe- by faith- you will be saved’. Now- this deal- as opposed to the old deal [called the Old Covenant] is really great news-
That’s what the word Gospel means- good news. Of course for people who are not familiar with the bible- it just seems so strange to read a verse that says ‘Jesus took the law- the commandments that were against us- the ones we could never live up to- and he nailed them to his Cross’.
I mean this goes against what most well meaning Christians believe- that if they try their best- keep the churches rules- obey the commandants- then they will be saved.
But that’s actually approaching God with an Old Covenant mindset- not seeing salvation as a free gift- but something you earn.
How did the church in general get away from truths like this? After the first century church moved on- you did have the church go thru lots of stages. Some Protestants hold a view that in the 4th century- under the Emperor Constantine- that the church became pagan/Catholic- and that this started a 1000 year process of the Dark Ages.
I find this view to be too harsh- and prefer to see it like this. Yes, the early church did go off the rails at times- yet there were also many good things that did happen during the so called Dark Ages. At one point the only institution that existed for the protection of society was indeed the Catholic Church.
Nations appealed to her as the final arbiter for justice and fairness in the world.
As the 2nd millennium of the Christian era progressed- you had the development of the University system and the rise of the independent nation states. Germany, England, France- many nation states began to develop armies/navies- and there was a sense of real independence from Rome.
This allowed for a sort of dynamic where the leading scholars of the day [Luther, Calvin, etc..] to be able to break away from what they saw as too much church tradition- and start a movement that would get closer to the bible.
We call this the Protestant Reformation- took place in the 1500’s. Okay- during these debates the Protestants wanted to get back to the basic teachings of the New Testament and in a noble effort- they replaced the style of church- and basically removed the communion table as the central focus of the mass/service- and replaced it with a pulpit.
That is- the new focus was the bible. Okay- we got some good things- and bad things- from this. Now- most of my Protestant friends would say ‘bad- what’s bad!’
Like everything in life- it takes time to see things- and this is one of those things. What slowly happened in protestant churches was the focus shifted from the ‘Table of the Lord’ to the person speaking. In Many present Protestant churches- you basically have a large theatre where people come to hear speaking every Sunday- and this has become a very limited view of what ‘church’ is.
So even though the Protestants meant well- they in a way did remove Christ [as represented thru the Lords Table] and replaced him with the speaking office- and exalted the speaking office to a degree that is really not seen in the churches we read about in the bible.
So as you can see- we have all made some mistakes- and in time we can see the things that need to be corrected- and make those adjustments.
I prefer to see my Catholic past as a good thing- having been blessed to have had a chance to learn abut God and Christian history- even though I didn’t pay attention too well.
And I also thank God for the various Protestants expressions of Christianity that I have come in contact with over the years.
I would encourage all my friends to make an effort to get back to the bible- read these chapters I mention every so often- mediate on these truths- think about them ‘wow- the New Testament teaches that Jesus took the law- and nailed it to his Cross’. This doesn’t mean we can now go out and kill, steal- commit adultery. But it means we are saved by God’s grace. The gift of faith is given freely- we don’t save ourselves through trying real hard to live up to the church rules.
Yes- the bible calls this good news- and if you think about it- it really is.
 OVERVIEW OF THE BIBLE
Let’s cover some biblical history- that is the making of the bible itself. A few days ago I did a post on Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God made to natural Israel. The post showed how the early Jewish people saw Jesus as their Messiah- the promised one that they were always looking for.
The earliest mention of the promise goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. God tells Eve that her child shall bruise the serpent’s head- and the serpent [actually the ‘seed’ or child] will bruise his heel. There have been works of art [statues/paintings] depicting this scene for centuries. It was fulfilled at the Cross.
So we have the 4 gospel accounts- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John- and these accounts give us the history of Jesus- his miracles and teachings- and they show us the fulfillment of God’s promise- made centuries before- that he would send them their Messiah.
Out of the 4 gospels- only one- John- has a different outline. The first 3- we call them Synoptic gospels. They follow the same basic structure- Johns stands alone.
John’s gospel contains no teachings about the end times- like the others. John doesn’t mention the parables- or the Sermon on the Mount. John’s gospel focuses more on the last week of the life of Christ- while the others cover the 3 years of Jesus earthly ministry [none cover the early years of Jesus- except for the account of Jesus being left behind at the temple when he was 12 years old].
The whole bible [Old and New testaments] have 66 books- 39 Old- 27 new. Only 3 original apostles actually wrote parts of the N.T. Matthew, John and Peter. Out of these 3- John wrote the most. He has his gospel- the three epistles [1st,2nd and 3rd John] and the book of Revelation.
The majority of the N.T. is made up of the collection of the apostle Paul’s letters. Paul is without a doubt the most influential person in the N.T.- besides Christ.
We also have the historical account of the early church- called The Acts of the Apostles- written by the same Luke that wrote the gospel. Luke was a doctor- and an historian. Then you have what’s called the General epistles- the kind of stand alone letters- Peters 2 letters, Jude, a few more like that.
And the New Testament closes with the apocalyptic book [prophecy] of Revelation- written by John [most think the apostle- some think another John- called ‘John of Patmos’]
Okay- one of the major themes of the N.T. is what we hit on the other day- a teaching called Justification by Faith. This is the main thrust of Paul’s doctrinal epistles [Romans, Galatians] and becomes a point of contention in the early church. The teaching is simple- it means the N.T. is a covenant- made by God with man [and with Jesus] that says God will give eternal life to all those who accept the death and resurrection of Jesus. That Jesus died for the sins of man- and because you believe in this free gift- your are/will be saved.
Now- the bible obviously says a lot more than this- but this doctrine becomes one of the main ones because this is the controversy that the apostle Paul dealt with for most of his ministry years.
I mentioned this the other day in a previous post.
Paul also has 3 epistles [letters] that are called The Pastoral epistles- these are 1st, 2nd Timothy and Titus. These are called Pastorals because these young men were protégés of Paul- he trained them up as local leaders who he could recommend to the early believers as trustworthy leaders- after he would leave a community.
These men did not function like what we usually call Pastors in our day- that is sort of a speaker preaching every Sunday at the ‘Main church’ building- but they were spiritual overseers- they led the flock in a way that if problems arose- these men could be looked to as honest guides.
Remember- in the 1st century- you did not have means of communication like we have today- so if Paul left a community [which is what the word church means in the bible- Greek- Ecclesia]. And if a problem rose up- like those who were coming in and saying the Gentiles had to become circumcised and keep the law- then the believers could look to the men Paul left his stamp of approval on.
Paul would of course correspond with these early communities- thus the letters- but until the letters arrived- the ‘Timothy’s’ would do.
Okay- the last book of the bible- Revelation- has gotten a lot of use- often too much- in the sense that we- especially lone wolf Protestant groups- have really done loops with the book.
Overall- the theme is about Christ [Lamb of God] being the central focus of this new kingdom of Priests and Kings [us] and even though there will be tough times [lots of the images of tests and trials] yet at the end of the day- we are ‘married’ to this Lamb [Jesus is called the groom in scripture- and the church is called the bride. God restores in the last book of the bible- what was lost in the first book- relationship- pictured as marriage] and we all live in a new heaven and new earth- and the story ends well.
Okay- just a few more points. The main message of the bible is that God made man [Genesis] he wanted man to be in communion [friendship] with him. Man sinned and this began the long process of God making promises to man [through/to the nation of Israel- and eventually it would extend to all men- thus the apostle Paul working with the Gentiles] that he would save man thru the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
All people who simply accept this benefit- they will be children of God. The focus should not be on anti Christ- or when the end of the world will happen- or on any other of a host of teachings that the church likes to dwell on- but the focus is God loving man so much- that he sent his Son to die for man- and we can be saved thru him.
Over the coming weeks I hope to do a little more on the development of the bible- why do protestants have 66 books- and Catholics have an extra 15? I’ll cover it fairly- giving the Catholic view as well as the Protestant one- and promise not to push only one view. But things like this are real questions that honest people have- and I want to help people get a better hold on the thing.
Okay- try and read some of the N.T. these next few days- overview some of the letters I mentioned- maybe read John’s gospel- Romans. I would wait on Revelation for now- I hope to give some hints that will make it easier to understand- so after I cover that a little more- then that would be a good one to read too.
And as you read Johns gospel- notice how many times the word Believe appears- being connected with those who believe have eternal life. That’s one of the strongest promises in the bible- and its Jesus doing the talking! So maybe memorize a few of them- like the famous John 3:16 verse- those types of verses last a lifetime- and longer.
 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
I was gonna wait till next week to post- but there has been some important news stuff going on- and last night S&P actually downgraded our rating [from AAA to AA+]. So let’s do some today.
Of course last week we finally raised the debt ceiling- our debt will now hit around 17 trillion [wow] until the next raise. I found it interesting to see how the media try’s to tell the public what they think is best- and they actually lie quite a bit.
A few weeks back CNN started a new show with Fahreed Zakariah- I thought I would like it- Fahreed is somewhat of an intellectual and I have heard him in debates before. The only drawback I saw [in the past] was he seemed to take one position- and defend it vigorously- and then take the other side at another time- and sware that this time he was right.
Okay- during the debt ceiling debate- many on the left described the ‘Tea Party’ as nuts- terrorists, psycho’s- the whole deal. It did get a little ridiculous after a while. I saw Fahreed- you know- the smart guy- he tried to give an in intellectual argument to why the Tea Party was ‘subverting the constitution- and actually bringing down the Democracy’ what? Yes- he explained how our govt. has 3 branches- and when one party [Dems] hold 2 [Pres, Senate] that if a minority of the 3rd branch [Tea Part- minority in the house] ‘take hostage’ the country- then they have actually subverted the Republic.
He then went on to attack the whole Tea Party mantra- their idea of cuts without taxes- everything. He then explained that the entire world has compared us to Europe [now it gets bad] and that even Europe looks good compared to us- he said that the Europeans have actually ‘shown the world’ that they are very reasonable compared to the U.S. in their dealing responsibly with their debt crisis.
Now- the very next day- because of European fears [no matter what anyone says- they have not solved their debt problem- it has actually spread this week- Italy is on the edge right now] we began to see the market collapse [dow went to 11,300 from a high of 12,500]. There are many reasons that this happened- but one of the main ones is the fear that the European debt crisis might spread to the globe.
So- the night before Fahreed said the world compared us to Europe- and the reasons we are in trouble is because we did not act responsibly- like Europe.
Then when asked ‘overall- is it at least good that we made the deal and avoided default’ he said no- and then made the actual Tea Party case to defend his position. He said that the deal only cuts a few billion in the beginning years [which he has advocated before!] and then he said- the way congress spends- ‘there’s no guarantee that they will ever stick to the cuts’. This is the exact argument the Tea Party made- to the tee!
That’s why they fought for a constitutional amendment- which Fahreed does not want.
Okay- then MSNBC had on an addiction specialist [I kid you not] to analyze the mental health of the tea party. Martin Bashir asked this guy to explain the danger of the Tea Party. The shrink went on to explain that when addicts have unrealistic expectations [Tea Party- cuts and no taxes= want dugs to make me happy] that they will resort to any means to get what they want [Heroin addict- give me your money or I’ll shoot. Tea Party- do the cuts or well not vote for a debt increase] when addicts do not see the danger of their unrealistic expectations- then yes- you get Oslo, Norway. You must be kidding- they had a guy on the air- comparing the position of the right to the guy who killed 80 people in Norway- and he [like Fahreed] tried to make it sound respectable.
On the news last night- before the downgrade- the jobs numbers came out for July. Now- news addicts like myself watch these things closely. The ‘left’ wants real bad to have some good news for the average folk. If the numbers are bad [under 200,000 new jobs is bad] then that doesn’t help. But there was no way the numbers would be above 200 thousand- I mean no one predicted that. They were hoping that they would at least be around 100,000- and not like the last report- where they hoped for 100 thousand and got around 18,000.
So as I perused the talking heads [ABC, CBS, NBC] of course they talked about the ‘number’ of unemployment dropping to 9.1 from 9.2- the number that I was waiting to see was the actual jobs number- how many new jobs were created last month?
Instead- I saw a screen graphic [you know- Lemmings like graphics- they think if they show the public anything- well they will never know] and it showed 230,000 new jobs [what!] and the unemployment dropping to 9.1 [from 9.2].
I immediately new they were lying- they were gonna show what they wanted to show you- and if they can tell you their story- any way they can- they will.
So- the small print [under the 230,000 jobs number] was the total manufacturing jobs gained- get this- since 12-09. What? Why take one sector- and go back to Dec. of 2009- and then add it up and show on the screen ‘230,000’ new jobs. Well, that’s the only jobs number [230,000- for total jobs from July] that would fit with the picture ‘unemployment went down to 9.1’. [Note- the reason 130,000 new jobs does not lower the overall rate is because that does not even keep up with the population growth of the country- we get over 100,000 new people seeking jobs every month]
No other jobs number would work. So they simply lied- they gave you a picture- false- and thought ‘you know- the average folk- we tell them what we think they should hear’.
So how did the unemployment number drop to 9.1? There are various factors that make up the number- some months you have natural weather disasters [snow storms] and people simply don’t go looking for work- that skews the number. Other months- people have been out of work so long- they give up- that skews the number.
But if the total jobs were only 130,000- then you know for a fact- that the real number didn’t drop a decimal Point- cant happen.
So more than likely some people didn’t go job shopping last month- and that skewed the number. But- the media knew they needed you to see the headline ‘230,000 new jobs’ and ‘unemployment down- 9.2 to 9.1’ and by golly- they found a way to make that happen.
Now- I hate to say [well actually I don’t hate it] ‘I told you so’ but heck- I did! If you go back and read/check the last months posts- somewhere in there I said ‘people must be nuts to be in the stock market right now’ now- I gave the caveat ‘I’m not telling you to get out’ but I then went on and said ‘if you’re smart- get out’.
Every media financial guy that was on the air- bar none- said ‘to the average investor- don’t panic- stay in the market’. Yet- in the past few weeks- 98% of trades that were done by these professional fund managers- who manage 401 k’s- 98 % were trades fleeing the stocks and going into bonds. Why? The Dow was at 12,500 [too high in my view] and we were facing all types of bad news. The Greek debt crisis [now more than Greece] the entire U.S. housing market is still a mess- and will be for a long time. The jobs numbers are terrible- and every indicator tells me these next few years are not going to be good.
So- if the odds of the economy getting worse are very high- then why take the risk of staying in right on the verge of a possible collapse? I know we can’t ‘time the market’- but heck- all those fund managers thought you could. Look- there was [is] no chance that the market was gonna hit 13,000 in the next few weeks- and a very great chance that it would collapse- then get your money out for the danger week/month- and if the sky doesn’t fall- then you can get back in- there was no chance you were going to miss a bull market- none.
But all the guys on the news said ‘stay in- hang in there’ and at the same time they- and all the professional funds they managed- they all jumped ship- left the stocks and fled for safety- while telling you ‘you can’t time the market’ yes- we are the lemmings.
Okay- then last night- well the S&P downgraded us- for the first time ever. Why? Well besides all the stuff I just mentioned- they felt the debt deal did not go far enough- that we needed to at least cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years- we did about half that.
The defenders of the president were out in numbers- blaming the S&P for bad math [yeah- they did make a mistake- but that doesn’t change the overall picture one iota] and the reality is- the global economy is in trouble. Now- when you downgrade an entity [state, city, nation- bank, etc.] that means that entity has to pay you more interest if you buy their debt [treasury bonds]. But the last few weeks we have seen all the professional money fleeing stocks- and yes- going into U.S. bonds. Look- these investors know the scoop- S&P didn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know- so the fact is- yeah it’s bad that we got downgraded- but the other investment options are so bad- that at the end of the day- people are still buying U.S. debt.
In high school I had a teacher- Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg was not ‘cool’ as a matter of fact- he seemed a little nerdy. He was Jewish- and at times wore a Star of David necklace- it was big- it was like he was asking for the persecution.
I liked Mr. Steinberg- and respected him for not being ashamed of his faith. It was in his class [English] that I was introduced to the great classics. Grapes of Wrath, Old man and the sea- all the classics. After we covered a book- he would check the TV Guide and when the made for TV movie was on- he assigned us to watch it.
Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here.
But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing.
The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide.
Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure.
Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced.
Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later.
I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out.
Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view.
And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God.
I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out.
 DO THE HUSTLE?
One time Jesus was engaging with the religious folk- and he said they were like kids/people in the market place. They said ‘we piped and you did not dance- we mourned and you didn’t respond how we wanted you to respond’ [my paraphrase].
A few years back a lot of things changed with me [us- ministry]. As a ‘ministry’ I never took money for personal use- no salary- nada. And eventually I ‘forsook’ all money. That is in the first few years as a home church- we did take offerings- and it was used to meet the needs of people.
When we did rent a place to meet- we used some for the expenses. But as I progressed [some say digressed!] I just cut the whole offering thing off. On the radio- we [I] was the only person who actually paid out of pocket for the air time. Though you had others who never asked for money- yet these shows were underwritten by their church.
So I just said ‘from now on- I will not take money- for anything’. I also quit claiming my giving [which was a lot- considering the radio alone] for tax purposes. I simply wanted to give the example that being ‘in ministry’ is not some type of business that you have to constantly be prodding people to ‘give to God’. I realized that much of what we call ‘ministry’ is simply well meaning people- setting up Christian non profit organizations- and then developing a mechanism to get others to ‘support the work’.
Some churches teach ‘church membership’ but many times what they mean is- after you come for a while- we want you to commit to giving 10 % of your salary to the church.
Other ministries take various approaches.
After I retired from the Fire Dept. I got into a bind- I lost my health insurance- it was too expensive to keep- so I dumped the thing. This left me in a curios spot- I was still helping lots of the people out [homeless- church friends] and sometimes I would pay a bill or 2 for them- maybe 100- 150 dollar type thing- and I would be out that month. Yes- I live off of a retirement check- just a little over what some of these friends were getting- if you add in the Medicare/Medicaid- and some had disability/s.s. checks.
I guess they didn’t realize that paying a bill or 2- actually- really left me broke. Now- I didn’t complain [unless you count this post as a complaint!] but at times- after doing the ministry this way- I always found it strange that people still questioned me [and others in general] about the ‘money motives’ of ministry.
I had a relative call me and straight out question me on why I was not financially supporting another family member [kind of a bold thing to ask- out of the blue] I knew this relative was quite rich- multimillionaire? At least in the category of a millionaire. They said ‘if your spending all this money on your homeless friends- why don’t you use some of the funds for so and so’ I said ‘what funds are you talking about’?
They then realized I was basically doing the stuff from my measly check- yes- as bad as that sounds- that’s the deal.
Then they were upset that I was ‘wasting money’ on helping people.
Like Jesus said ‘we made music for you- and you didn’t dance’ that is people see ‘ministry/church’ as ‘we expect you to respond in a certain way’ and sad to say- because of this very subject- money- many preachers/churches do ‘adjust’ their messages based on how well the giving went in the previous month.
Needless to say- the whole thing at times seems to be a vast wasteland- coming up with all types of ‘bible verses’ and telling people ‘if you don’t give- your testing- robbing God’ geez- we better make sure were using that verse in context [Malachi] because in most of these scenarios we are not- and then to falsely charge people with ‘robbing God’ that’s pretty darn bad.
I don’t blame my friends for not realizing that at times- me helping them out- well- it did put me in a bind. And sometimes- they don’t realize that because I don’t have health care benefits- that if you actually added everything up- many of these friends are actually making the same [or more] than me.
I just feel like we all need to do our best to help others- don’t assume that people have money- or that they are in it for the money. Many times people are just doing what they feel they are required to do.
And of course- you’ll always have the friend/relative who wants you to do a dance for them- to justify- for them- why you do what you do- never mind that they are worth a hundred times more than you- and they are in much better shape to help the relative- no- that’s none of my business. But when they Pipe [make music] they just want you to dance- geez- I never was a good dancer- why start now?
 CALLING ALL ANGELS
Let’s try and do some teaching today. A few weeks back I mentioned how I kept ‘stumbling’ upon bible verses that speak about angels- especially Gabriel and Michael. I mentioned how I was praying for Persia [geez- who prays for Persia?] and I started praying for God to send Gabriel and Michael to ‘war’ against any leaders who were wicked.
Okay- this all started at a time when I was doing a teaching on Islam- and was [and still am] praying a lot about the Arab Spring. Anyway- one morning- after praying like this- I felt the Lord leading me to read Daniel [I think chapter 8?].
Anyway as I read the chapter- God says ‘I heard your prayer- and I have sent Gabriel and Michael to go and war against the prince of Persia’. Man- you can’t make stuff like this up. Anyway- I actually had a few more of these ‘angel signs’ that I didn’t get into. The other day I mentioned how when I woke up- I felt the Lord wanted me to read Revelation 12- sure enough- there you have Michael warring against the dragon- helping the woman who is being attacked. Then this morning- I felt like we should do Luke chapter 1. And again- you have Gabriel telling Zacharias that his sons name will be John. And Gabriel communicating with the Virgin Mary.
I just found it strange that I have been bumping into all these angel chapters- I mean I do realize the bible has accounts of angels- but the odds on accidently hitting all these chapters- while not looking for them- it’s not that easy.
Okay- when we read the bible [which I hope you guys are doing] it’s easy to read straight thru the gospels- and not notice the details. Luke’s gospel has more accounts of women speaking- their dialogue- than any other gospel. Some scholars think Luke actually interviewed the Virgin Mary in his compilation of his gospel.
Marks gospel refers to Jesus as ‘the Son of man’- Matthews gospel uses the term Kingdom of Heaven in place of Kingdom of God. Out of all the titles used for Jesus- the term Son of Man is the 3rd most popular. Jesus Christ [Messiah] and Son of God are popular- but the term Son of Man comes from the vision that the prophet Daniel had.
It’s interesting to note- that even though this term is ‘less honorable’ than the others- yet when Jesus is referring to himself- it is the most common term that he uses.
In Luke chapter 1- we see an interesting thing. When the angel Gabriel [the only angels given names in the bible are Gabriel and Michael] speaks to Mary and Zacharias [John the Baptist’s dad] they take the good news as an answer to the promises that God made to the Jewish nation years before. Both Mary and John’s dad say ‘you have kept the promise you made to Abraham- you have kept the promise made to King David’.
What promise? Right at the beginning of the biblical story [Genesis] we see God interacting with man- he chooses Abraham to start a ‘conversation’ with. This journey eventually leads to the birthing of the nation of Israel. Abraham has Isaac- Isaac has Jacob- and Jacobs name is changed to Israel- and he has 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
Down the line comes a great king who will rule over Israel- his name was David. God made promises to David [like he did to Abraham] and one of those promises was God would raise up a son to David- who would sit on ‘the throne forever’. Now- this is one of those prophecies that is a dual prophecy- that is some of the language used is speaking about Solomon- David’s son- and some is fulfilled thru Christ.
In Luke one- they are praising God for raising up this promised king- a Son of David- who will sit on David’s throne. These promises were very real among the Jewish people of the 1st century.
Now- it would take way too much time to try and explain the various theological arguments that have taken place about this promise- that Jesus would inherit the Throne of his father David. Suffice it to say- that when you read the sermons in the book of Acts- especially Peter’s- you see them speaking about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as the main fulfillment of this promise. Peter says that the actual promise that a son of David would sit on the throne ‘forever’ could only be fulfilled thru somebody who would live forever- thus pointing to the resurrection of Christ.
The early Jewish believers/apostles all accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham and David. God told Abraham that he too would have a son that would bless all nations [Jews and gentiles] and the apostle Paul uses this a lot when talking about the gentile church.
Today’s point is- right at the start- the early Jewish people saw the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise of God to send the Messiah to them. There are various reasons why many people later rejected this claim- but at the start- they saw Jesus as the fulfillment.
When the angel tells Mary about her giving birth to this Messiah- she replies ‘be it unto me according to thy word’. Mary goes on and gives this ‘prophetic song’ which has come to be called The Magnificat- which is a term that comes from the start of the song- in Latin. Mary’s response to the angel is a point of contention between Catholic and Protestant scholars.
The Catholic church calls it ‘Mary’s Fiat’ which means Mary used a commanding tone- sort of like saying ‘you do this Gabriel’ like she was the one in charge. Protestant scholars view it more as a response of humility- like she said ‘okay- whatever you say’.
The confusion over this can be attributed to an early Latin translation of the bible- by the Catholic church Father Jerome. He wrote the Latin Vulgate- the very famous Catholic bible- and in Latin- the word used in this spot denotes ‘command’.
But when you go to the original Greek translation- the word is more passive.
Now- even though this is an ancient disagreement between very smart guys- how many Catholics and Protestants are even aware of this? So like many things- we are taught to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and often times we don’t even know why we don’t like them- we just know we don’t like them!
Okay- maybe you should read the chapter today- it’s a long chapter [Luke 1] and look for the language that talks about Jesus as being the fulfillment of the promises that God made to Abraham and David- its interesting to see the importance of the early Jewish people as seeing Jesus as one of their own.
History will later show how the Jewish believers were persecuted severely- and early on [2nd century] they would be forbidden to worship as a Jewish church [I think the emperor was Hadrian- he outlawed all Jewish expressions of ‘Christianity’ that is- Jewish people- who accepted Jesus as their Messiah].
This would leave only the gentile expression of Christianity- which we all know of today as we study church history. But we must not forget that the 1st believers were all Jewish- and they saw Jesus as the answer to the promises that God made to them centuries before- Peter said God fulfilled the promise that he made to King David- that a Son would sit on his throne- forever. Yes- the church recites this fulfillment every Sunday ‘he is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead’ amen and amen.
 FATHER GUIDO
As I young Italian kid growing up in N.J. – right across the Hudson you saw the bright lights of N.Y.C. – back in the day [70’s] you had the rise of SNL [Saturday Night Live] it became an instant hit with the locals- and we were all treated to the ministry of Guido Sarducci- the Catholic comic who took his skit to the big screen.
Of course if you were an Italian Catholic- you could make fun- but if you weren’t- hey- don’t talk about my religion/culture! Italians are a proud people- and often times the Macaroni and Meatballs [which I just made this past Sunday] fit right in with the religious/cultural tradition- that is you tend to associate your religious views along with everything else- and in a way I’m okay with that [though you will find many teachers/preachers who are not.]
Italians also had a way of making excuses for those among us who had some type of physical/mental handicap. In Today’s world we realize that even the word Handicap is politically incorrect- but back in ‘the day’ we didn’t know any better.
It’s a funny thing with us Italians- we seemed to come up with some excuse- and that same excuse would get passed around- sort of like an oral tradition- and you would hear it used many times over.
I had a friend whose brother had somewhat of a disability- wasn’t too bad- but you could tell. And I guess his mom [good Italian family] always told him ‘if any of the boys ask about your brother- tell them that when he was young a bowling ball fell on his foot’. So I [and the other hoodlums] grew up- with this inner fear of bowling- why?
Another commonly used ‘tool’ was ‘the piano fell on his head’ geez- can we come up with something a little more believable? I mean after hearing that one a few times- I began asking myself ‘what’s wrong with us Italians- cant we either avoid ordering pianos- or avoid living in apts where people do order them- or at least not walk underneath them anymore’. Look- we are a proud people- and I’m sure brother Guido likes his job [at the furniture store] but enough is enough- someone needs to go down there and tell Guido ‘look brother- you have dropped so many darn pianos these last few years- your gonna do real damage to the entire Italian community- go get a job at the Pizza Parlor- please- before you kill us all!’
Well this gets me to the point- we- as people in general- associate our heritage with our religion [whether German Lutheran- Italian Catholic- or whatever]. We connect who we are- with what religion we embrace. As a proud Italian myself- I was glad to see- as I studied the history of Christianity and theology- that the Catholic church does indeed have a strong heritage- and that it’s okay to view the church as a good Christian church.
Now- this statement alone is enough to lose lots of ‘blog readers’ I mean in the realm of Protestant Christianity- this statement is often considered unforgiveable. But most ‘learners’ who study original sources- the church fathers- etc. most of us come to this conclusion based on the facts- that you see a very strong Catholic form of Christianity- very early on [2nd century].
You actually see some writings that speak about an early order for the Mass- and it’s surprisingly similar to what you see today. But of course you also have many doctrinal disagreements that Catholics and Protestants have fought over- and often times these 2 groups are disagreeing over things- that weren’t even part of the original ‘disagreement’ [16th century reformation.]
This discussion- cultural Christianity- has made it into the news in recent days. You had the tragic murders take place in Oslo- Norway- and the media has gone back and forth over whether or not the killer should be defined as a Christian Terrorist.
Oreilly made headlines by taking the N.Y. Times to task for doing a front page story on it- using the Christian term. Others have said that he was indeed a ‘Christian terrorist’. Some of the debate hinges on this ‘cultural Christian’ view. That is- if your view of Christianity is ‘lets go back to the medieval crusades- and re claim Europe once again for the white Christian population’ then the man was truly ‘Christian’ in a sort of cultural way- seeing it more as an historic cultural movement- and less thru the eyes of ‘a personal relationship with Jesus’.
As a matter of fact- the Oslo shooter says this very thing in his writings- that he chose to become a Christian by being baptized at the age of 15- in Norway’s state church- yet he does not see himself as having a personal relationship with Christ.
But these distinctions- though very alive and real amongst many Christian groups- are hard to make when simply covering the story of some nut who rants about going back to the crusades and fighting off the encroachment of radical Islam- so in a way- I think Christians cant totally disclaim the man- yet we can emphasize that true Christianity- like Oreilly said- does not teach murder.
Many years ago I went back North to attend the funeral of my uncle. I loved my uncle, as a kid he would take me- and my cousin Tara [his daughter] to the Ringling bro’s circus in N.Y. he would take us out to eat Chinese- and do stuff like that.
My dad [I later found out] always put up the cash- but my uncle enjoyed doing it. As the years went by- I realized that my uncle- Rudy- actually was involved with crime. How far up he made it on the ladder- I never really new. But I began to realize that he did have some involvement in the Italian mob scene in the area.
One time I was talking about some event that took place in N.J. [N.Y.] I think it was the world’s fair. I remember- my uncle had no recollection- then my dad quickly jumped in ‘oh Rudy- that’s when you were on vacation for a few years’ a few years? Who goes on vacation for a few years? O- now I get it- he was in jail [you know- the piano thing].
I used to do paint jobs with ‘the crew’. My dad, my uncle- and a few other guys. Juny was ‘the boss’. We actually did real- professional house painting- learned the trade and did it for a few years in Texas. But I later realized that they were all doing the crime thing [not my dad- he was in the group because they grew up together]. One time- a customer did not want to pay- after the job was done- I later found out that my dad and my uncle went and ‘made him an offer he couldn’t refuse’ he paid.
Anyway- I went back to Jersey and preached at his funeral. Boy- the place was packed- I mean it was like going to the casting of the God Father movie. As I talked- I simply did my best- realizing that many of these guys- like I said earlier- they have a culture- a tradition of being Italian- and Catholic. As I spoke I simply talked about the reality of the promise of eternal life in Christ- and shared about the lord’s supper- and gave some spiritual insight [I hope!].
Instead of trying to convince them to ‘change their religion’ I simply tried to focus them back on the main teachings of ‘their religion’ that all true Christianity is built upon the Cross- having the gift of eternal life because Jesus died and rose again. I emphasized the reality that all of these truths are based upon Christ- he purchased eternal life for us all- it’s not simply a matter of ‘what religion are you’ type of a thing.
After the funeral I had many people come up to me and thank me for the message- but I remember one person in particular. He looked to be around my age at the time [30’s] probably an Italian boy- grew up in the area [I guess] and probably did lots of the stuff I did as a kid.
In a way- I wondered if that would be me- or if he would be me- if we simply made a few different decisions in the early days.
He came up to me- looked me straight in the eye- and thanked me so much for ‘the talk’ I got the sense that he saw- for the first time- what everything was really about- that it’s not just a cultural thing- that life and death are very real things that we all deal with- and that he didn’t have to leave his religion- he just needed to understand more about what his church is all about.
Yeah- I was glad to see that he ‘got it’. I felt like I succeed that day- on the task of telling the truth- without having to make people believe everything I believe- just enough truth- truth that was right there before him his whole life- truth that just needed to break though.
Of course you can only do so much with these short trips- I mean if I had the time- I would have liked to have gone downtown- you know- to that piano store- and had a talk with old brother Guido- maybe speak to his union boss [who might have been at the funeral- you know- the mob connection] but time was running short. I guess there are kids living in Jersey right now- walking the same streets to school- ordering pizza at some famous spot- watching re runs of Father Sarducci. And of course- I’m sure they know someone- some friend or relative- well yes- when they asked ‘what happened to so and so’ the response was ‘the piano fell on his head’ geez- one word of advice to my Italian buddies- stay away from the damn pianos.
 WONT YOU GUESS MY NAME?
Once again I feel like I’m in a bind- I just had a dream [actually- 4 hours ago] and I felt like I should talk about it a little. I usually don’t like doing stuff like this- because of the abuse that many have engaged in with stuff like this- you know ‘God told me/you to test him with giving me a thousand dollar offering’ the whole deal.
Okay- in the dream I was up north [N.Y. /N.J.] in a busy/populated area. I was being pursued by some type of authority figure- and was actually innocent- they thought I committed a crime. As I was on the run I realized I was being recorded- and after I got caught I saw the recording- and I was in the image of a woman. Now- I really hate sharing that- maybe I’ll get to why in a moment- but that was the dream.
After I awoke I thought ‘geez- I don’t think that one means anything’ and I felt like the Lord wanted me to read Revelation chapter 12. I did know that this chapter spoke about the woman and her seed [kids].
In the chapter you see a woman that gives birth to a ‘man child’ and the dragon [satan] persecutes the woman and her child. The woman has 12 stars on her crown- the dragon has 7 crowns [various heads and horns] the crowns denote authority.
In John’s gospel Jesus talks about child birth- he says when a woman is in labor- she’s going through so much pain- she just wants the whole thing to stop. After she gives birth- she’s so happy- she forgets the pain.
Okay- all these images are speaking about the difficulty and persecution Christians go through. In the bible- the thing that has value- is the church. The church is described as a bride. She is the ‘virtuous woman’ of Proverbs 31. Her price is far above rubies. The thing of value in our lives are the actual people ‘you birth’ by speaking Gods word to them- they are ‘birthed’ into seeing the kingdom of God in new ways.
This people group [the man child that the woman gives birth to- which of course is a symbol of Jesus- the church is also called The Body of Christ] are the thing of value. The woman [a symbol of natural Israel and/or the church] has authority- God gave her authority because of the things that she went thru. That’s the crown with 12 stars.
The dragon [satan] who goes after her- he too has authority in a sense [the 7 crowns] theologians debate whether its real or contrived- the point I would make is he’s been at this game for a while- he does take prisoners- and even kills a few every now and again [you know- Jagger sang ‘I’ve been around for many a year- a man of wealth and fame. Made damn sure the Pilate washed his hands- and sealed his fate. Made tracks for the Troubadours who got killed before they reached Bombay. Stuck around St. Petersburg till I saw it was a time for a change. Won’t you guess my name?]
These past few weeks I have been reading verses on the value of the people themselves- ministry is not you convincing people to support some type of good work your doing- it’s you sacrificing your life for others- and when they too give of themselves for others- sharing Gods word and love- then you have started a real process- a real ‘church growth’ movement- the way Jesus taught.
And of course- when you’re in a position of influence [the woman giving birth] then you become a target of attack- your on the verge of giving birth to this ‘son’ and the dragons mad as hell.
Okay- could say lots more- but let me get to the example.
Many years ago- when I first started our little Kingsville church- I had all types of people attend/join. One of the guys was a sorcerer converted to preacher brother. He told me [and showed me] all the books and stuff he used to be into. He also manipulated people a lot.
He would call you up out of the blue and say ‘f—k you’ and hang up. He also did worse- lots. One time one of the church members told me that ‘brother so and so is telling people you are both gay- and sleeping together’. Now- I knew this person [the sorcerer/preacher] was gay- and had a past history that was really screwed up. He did start rumors like this with other churches.
So that night I took the church member who he said it too- he sat in my car with the window down- and I knocked on the accusers door. He was surprised to see me- I said ‘Manuel- did you tell Emmet that we were gay lovers?’ He looked at me like he was in shock ‘of course not- I would never make something up like that’ and then after he denied it over and over again- Emmet got out of the car and Manuel knew he was caught.
I had to ‘expel’ Manuel from the church meetings after that. It’s not that I couldn’t forgive him- it’s just the fact that he was there only to destroy churches. This was part of what he was taught during the witchcraft days.
This began a few years of nonstop assaults on me and my family. False calls made to the fire house. My car getting windows smashed/tires slashed. People showing up at my house- when I was on duty- at 2-3 in the morning- trying to get in.
It was bad. Now- I have had problems in life- but the gay accusation- well that was never my thing. If it were- I would either not tell this story- or just admit the thing- but the truth is- that’s just not my thing.
Have I ever messed up in other ways? Yes- my temptation [like most men] was the woman, substance abuse- so yeah- I’ll admit that. But I wanted to tell this story so you can see how the ‘dragon’ attacks people by making accusations against them- that’s how he works.
I eventually had to move my family out of Kingsville- and that’s how we got to Corpus.
Over the years Manuel did admit what he did- and he admitted he did lie. I forgave him- prayed with him when he came by the fire house- and did the right thing by continuing to help him- even after all this crap.
I did get mad a few times- even got into some ‘I’ll kick you’re a…. if I catch you on the street’ type stuff. I did blow it with the anger thing- I’ll admit- Hebrews says ‘Moses rejected the pleasure of sin and chose to suffer with Gods people’ the bible says sin has pleasure for a moment. Yes- these few fights I had during this season- I asked the Lord to forgive me later- but they were indeed very pleasurable.
Okay- if you want to be used by God to influence others- to ‘birth people groups’ then you will become a target. The accuser has a degree of authority- like Jagger says- he’s been around for quite some time. He knows how to play the game.
But the woman [the people of God- the church] she has authority too- she has ’12 stars’ on her crown- a crown you receive when you go through tuff stuff in life.
Revelation also says the dragon opened his mouth and cast a great flood- to get the woman [a type of the accusations the devil brings up against people]. The bible says the earth helped the woman- it opened up and swallowed the flood.
As I sit here and type right now- of course there’s a tropical storm in the gulf- will be here tomorrow- heading straight for Corpus. Yes- the flood/rain/storms- there all a part of the journey. As CCR says ‘as long as I remember- the rains been coming down’ and as Jagger says ‘pleased to meet you- wont you guess my name’ yeah- I guessed it a long time ago- but Revelation also says ‘the accuser of the brethren was cast down- and they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony’ at the end of the day- we win. But sure- it’s gonna rain, even flood- every so often.
The week is winding down- and as far as I know- as of last night the president and congress have not been able to reach an agreement on the debt crisis. I do think the president has put himself in somewhat of a corner. In his speech he continued his argument that the deal needs to be balanced with ‘revenue increases’ [which I agree with] and he spoke about the ‘rich’ having to pay their fair share [though they do already pay for most of the taxes in the country- the big corp. loopholes are another matter].
Yet the 2 plans on the table right now- Reid and Boehner- neither one has tax increases. Reid’s is around 2.2 trillion in cuts [over 10 years] with the corresponding debt limit increase. And Boehner’s is 1 trillion- with the same basic plan. Reid’s takes you past the next election- Boehner’s doesn’t. Can the president really say ‘I rejected the plan- the country defaulted- all because I wanted a 13 month plan- instead of a 6 month one’.
That just seems untenable to me.
Okay- what about compromise- is it a bad thing? Let me try and tie this in with some comments I made in the last post. In the last post I spoke about the difference between ‘Sola scriptura’ and ‘Solo scriptura’. Sola was the Reformation belief that when the Protestants and the Catholics couldn’t come to an agreement- then at the end of the day- the bible ‘alone’ settles the matter. That’s what Sola [alone] scriptura [scriptures] meant.
Over the centuries many Protestants began to embrace a view of Christianity that said ‘we don’t need/listen to what the traditional churches have to say- or what the Christian church fathers have to say- we have the bible alone to tell us’.
And even though the bible does give us instruction on all areas of life that are pertinent to the Christian experience- yet the bible actually contains within it stories about how the church should regard ‘tradition’ or how they should look to both scripture- and past history- when trying to come to solutions to problems.
In Acts chapter 15 we have the record of how the early church dealt with the problem of Gentile believers coming into the church. The first believers were all Jewish- so when they accepted Jesus as the Messiah- they also kept their Jewish heritage and their observance of the law.
Yet when the gospel started going out to the Gentiles [Acts 13] initially there was no need for converting fully to Judaism in order to be considered part of the church. Yet at the main church in Jerusalem [Acts 15] many Jewish leaders insisted on the Gentiles having to become circumcised and fully put themselves under the entire law.
So Paul and Barnabus- who were the main missionaries that worked with the Gentile believers at the time- they disagreed with the leaders coming out of Jerusalem- and determined that they would all go up to Jerusalem [from the city of Antioch- where these gentile believers were living at the time] and they would bring the question before the leaders- Peter, James and John.
During this discussion [which is the first church council] they listened to Peter’s experience where God showed him to not judge the gentile believers- but to accept them the way they are- as fellow believers in the Lord.
Peter had this experience in Acts chapter 10- God showed him a vision and taught him not to reject the gentile believers.
Then James [who seems to have been the main leader at the Jerusalem church] quotes form ‘the bible’ [the bible they had at this point was the Old Testament] and he quotes a passage from the prophet Amos that seems to go along with what Peter said- that God would raise up gentile believers too.
So after the discussion- James stands up and makes the final decision- with the agreement of the other leaders- and they write a letter and send it back to the gentile believers at Antioch- and they tell them they don’t need to fully convert to Judaism- but simply keep a few important commandments- don’t eat blood- don’t commit sexual sin- and a couple of things like this.
So at the end of the day they came to a position of compromise- they listened to all sides- and didn’t simply rely on the ‘bible alone’ that is they sought guidance from the book of Amos- and added that in with the other things that God was showing them at the time.
They were a community of people who were flexible enough to leave room for others who were not exactly like them- yet they did insist on belief in Jesus as the Messiah as the important thing.
As I watch the current debate- I see stubbornness with some- and I see political posturing with others- no one side is totally right- while the other totally wrong.
Last night I saw a shameful thing on the news- Lawrence O’Donnell showed a clip of a teenage girl who had killed herself because she was picked on for being gay. As I watched the story I of course felt sad for the girl’s mom who was talking about the bullying that her daughter endured- and of course it’s wrong to make fun of people- or bully them in any way.
Then they put up a quote from the mother- who said her daughter killed herself because of the ‘conservative’ district she had lived in. At the bottom of the quote- it said ‘Michele Bachman’s district’. This is no longer reporting- unbiased journalism- its people who have agendas that they are so attached too- that they can’t even see how doing this- associating the tragic death of this girl- with a presidential candidate- is so out of line.
The other day I heard a male ‘progressive’ news person talk about Bristol Palin getting ‘knocked up- [like a little slut]- while drunk on wine coolers’. Now- this girl is 20 years old- this happened when she was 16. Can you imagine any news person- speaking publicly like this- about the presidents beautiful daughters in a year or 2 from now- when they are the same age?
When we only see one side as the enemy- when we demonize peoples kids- accuse people of murdering gay kids- simply because they lived in your district- when we get this low- then compromise seems impossible- because you now view the opposing side as the real enemy.
I hope and pray we can get a compromise- for the sake of our country. I hope we can be open to what others are saying- people who have been around longer than us- ‘spiritual’ fathers if you will. Even though we seek God- have the bible- and do our best to determine what’s best- yet it’s also important to respect the opinions of others- don’t demonize everyone who is not just like you [or me] at the end of the day we need each other- even the ones who don’t fit our mold.
 WHAT MATTERS?
The other day I mentioned how believers have a habit of getting caught up in certain ‘religious’ views [tithing was the example I gave] and over time these views develop to a point where they take precedence over the things Jesus actually placed real value on.
In the 1st century when Jesus showed up on the scene- the religious practices of Gods people were centered around religious meetings [holy days] prayer, fasting and tithing- mainly to be seen of men- that is religion digressed to a point where what seemed to be the most important thing- was actually not important.
So how did Jesus respond? He spends the 3 very public years of ministry- healing the sick, telling the poor they are the blessed ones who will inherit Gods kingdom- and blasting the rich- and those in power- by telling them that their day was coming too.
In essence Jesus was the ultimate prophet- he followed the long line of Jewish prophets who took these same positions. The prophet Isaiah told the people ‘God is tired of all your religious activities- your church meetings- your special ‘sacrificial’ offerings- these things are a stench in his nose!’ then he would go on and say that God wanted justice for the poor and widow.
Amos also rebuked the rich and defended the poor- Ezekiel said the shepherds [religious leaders] were fleecing the sheep- they were leaders who were making a financial killing off of the people.
All of these things- in today’s world of ‘ministry’ are making a comeback- it’s just we don’t see it because they are dressed in a different way. But at the end of the day- for the most part- American style Christianity is usually measured by how much money you give [or take in] how faithful your are to attend religious meetings- and how famous your ministry is- are you a really gifted speaker? Or do you give a great ‘stage’ performance.
And in the mind of the average Christian- if you ask them ‘when was the last time you gave of your goods to your neighbor- reached out to the poor- showed your Christianity thru charity’? Often times they will answer that that is not ‘their ministry’ or that their giving to some Christian organization/church is their role- and it’s up to ‘the church’ to actually help the poor.
But these responses miss the main point- Jesus [and the prophets] were saying that’s the mistake- thinking that ‘religion’ consists in these outward religious acts- which are really for show- while the true acts of mercy and love are all too often neglected. People today have made the same mistake as the religious observers of Jesus day.
The letter of James- written by the brother [half] of Jesus- tells us that Pure religion- is to keep yourself unspotted form the world- and to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. That’s it. No mention of religious holy days? No. No mention of special tithes/offerings? No. But what does he have to say about the modern religious view of the accumulation of wealth? Let’s not even go there [believe me- it’s pretty bad- go read the letter- its short].
This week in Somalia the estimates are 11 million people are on the verge of starvation- 2 to 3 million are kids. The world at large has had a hard time getting the food/resources in- because the country [like many other African nations] is in a sort of civil war.
The militant Islamic group fighting the govt. [Al Shabbab- I think that’s the name?] are made up of children. Yes- the kids have taken up an armed resistance against the leaders- and they are killing each other. I saw a news report on Mosaic world news- and the kids were in the streets- sort of like any kids on a block- but they had guns.
One young kid [10?] was pulling on the rifle of an older boy [15?] and the older boy got mad- like some school yard thing. The older boy just pulled away- and pointed the gun at the ‘opposing kids’- at the same time- they were playing in the street- throwing rocks and waving sticks- and pointing loaded guns at each other- it was like it was a game- they were used to shooting each other if they had to.
There are many things happening in our world today- things that matter to God. Many Christians- though they mean well- seem to leave these other things up to others. They feel that if they can just make it through another week- attend religious meeting on Sunday- put in the tithe- that if they live up to these outward religious standards- that they have done well.
Jesus taught a different way- the apostles tried to follow in his way. The apostle John said ‘if you see your fellow man in need- and don’t actually help him- do what needs to be done to defend them- then how can you say Gods love is in you’ [my paraphrase].
The apostle Paul wrote the Colossians- he said ‘I’m worried about you- you are observing days and times and other outward religious rites- I’m afraid you are falling away from the true faith’.
There was always a danger that Christians would fall into this rut- this thing where they unconsciously make the least important things- the most important. When the religious leaders of Jesus day were conspiring to kill Jesus- they had a problem- if they killed him on the wrong day- it would mess up their religious festival going on at the time. If they had to deal with the dead body- on the wrong day- they would be technically unclean according to Jewish law- and it would throw off their game.
So they worked it out where they would kill Jesus- and leave the body alone on the Sabbath- and they had it all worked out. One problem- they were violating the most important commandment of all- given to them by their most important law giver [Moses] that said ‘thou shalt not kill’ but somehow- over a period of time- they saw these things as the most important- their special observances of holy days- keeping themselves ceremonially clean- not ‘unspotted from the world’ as James said- but religiously clean- so they could put on a good public show.
I just finished praying for a bunch of stuff- of course I prayed for the kids in Somalia- those dying and those killing. Yes- I also send money every month to the starving kids- but these things are not enough. I [we] need to also engage those around us- those hurting and dying and struggling in real ways. We need to make the most important things- important again.
 WALKING IN MEMPHIS-
I have part of the famous speech of M.L.K. jr. written here on my wall. He gave the speech the day before his death- and he said that God permitted him to go so far along the journey- allowed him to see the beginning of ‘the end’ and he came to peace with the fact that he himself would not make it all the way.
He said ‘I have been to the mountain..and I might not make it into the Promised Land with you..but I don’t mind.. because I have seen the land- and we- as a people- are going to make it’ [paraphrase].
After King’s death we heard stories about his personal failures in life- things he struggled with- yet he also tried his best to finish the course that God destined him for.
I often wonder if this is what King saw- if he realized he had kind of passed a personal point of no return- and he came to peace with it. That he was at least privileged to see the ‘promised land’ though he himself would not make it in.
This story comes from the bible. It’s the life story of another great man of God- Moses. God called Moses [Like Rick Perry?] when he was young and gung ho- Moses initial start was rocky- he got mad and killed a man in anger.
Moses fled to the wilderness for 40 years and God showed him a burning bush- it was time to go back home. The next 40 years were really not that much better. Sure we had the Red Sea incident- and Moses had one of the great actors of all time play him- Hesston.
Yet the next 40 years were spent in the desert- with a bunch of people [who initially voted for the guy!] and they whined about the journey all the time. Moses did his best- he led them through some tough stuff- and at the end of the 40 years [the real journey should have only taken a few days- the maps show us that they walked in circles for those 40 years] God says to Moses ‘Son- you’re not going in’.
What? God told Moses that he blew it one too many times with the temper thing- and that for that reason he could not go into the promised land. However- Moses was permitted to go up ‘to the mountain’ and look in. Yes- this was the mountain that King was referring to the day before he died ‘I have been up to the mountain- I have seen the promised land- I might not make it in with you- and I’m okay with that because I know now that you guys will m make it in’.
I think King- like Moses- came to terms with his own failures- no excuses- just the reality that he went a little too long down some bad roads- and it just wouldn’t be right for him to have gone all the way.
Yet- how could King [and Moses] be okay with it? There’s a theme that runs all thru out scripture that deals with God using you thru out your life to ‘reach’ a certain generation of people. You might never see these people in the flesh- you might not have any influence in their lives for most of the journey- yet you knew from the start that this was indeed part of the mission.
So you do your best with the other parts of the mission- always hoping and praying that the future day will arrive before you ‘call it a day’. There will be many times during this ‘wandering’ that you will deal with issues- real life failures and successes- and at times- during the hard times- you fear that you might have gone too far this time- and will never ‘see the promised land’ you might never fulfill what you knew from the beginning was a big part of the plan.
Then one day [year] you see a bush- some type of sign that comes from God- and he’s saying ‘lets give it one more shot’ at that part of the journey your usually too tired to go for it- you often think ‘geez- why now?’ Yet you’ve been around long enough to know you really have no option- just do the thing.
King [and Moses] went through stages where it looked like they might never see the promised land- never mind enter in to the thing. And God did them a favor- he said ‘son- go ahead up- look over into the finished product- it’s going to happen one day- know that for sure’. They seemed to be able to be grateful that they made it far enough to look in- to see that they did indeed make it far enough down the road that after they departed- the vision would live on.
These last few weeks- as an avid news junkie- a strange thing has happened [those of you who read these posts can pick up on it]. I have come to side in a way for an underdog- a hated man- yet an underdog never the less. As I watch Gadhaffi- day after day- stand on the tower/building overlooking Green square- I see him defying the nations of the world- saying ‘bring it on- you will never kill me’ in one of the speeches he said ‘you can never kill me- I live forever in the hearts of millions of people’.
Now- whether this be true or not- I have no idea- but the principle is biblical. Ultimately your ‘promised land’ is the generation of people that you have planted Gods word into throughout your life. The privilege God gave you to affect people- for good- during the journey. Gadhaffi was saying that you might kill him- but his ideals would live on beyond his life- this is true for all of us.
After the death of King we heard a lot about his personal failures- things that some people knew about- but not everyone. When we all learned about them- then took a second look at the Memphis speech- we can see that King was grateful for the ‘Moses moment’ that God was gracious enough to let him make it up to the mountain- to a point in the journey where he now knew that his destiny was sealed.
I’m sure he felt some sadness over the reality that he alone knew- that he did indeed go too far down some wrong paths for too long- but God was gracious enough to let him make it to the mountain- I do thank God for that.
 THEATER OF THE ABSURD
The last few days the media has inundated us with stories- so called ‘news stories’ that border on the absurd. First- we heard the reports on Michele Bachman’s husband’s clinic. He apparently has this business- where he does outpatient treatment. Okay- I guess these types of treatment clinics are a dime a dozen.
As an evangelical- he obviously gets patients who want to overcome what they feel are addictive personality traits. So he has Christians come in- who feel like they are struggling with homosexual tendencies- and because of their own choice- they are seeking ‘treatment’.
Now- this ‘reparative’ therapy has come under criticism- and there are questions over whether or not this type of therapy can hurt someone. Either way- for something like this- to have made it into the top news story- on the major networks- is ludicrous.
Then yesterday you had the media running with the migraine headache thing- yes- some insider leaked the story that Bachman has migraines. I heard Anderson Cooper [I think it was him- they all ran with it] ask ‘can a person run the country if they are incapacitated for days on end’?
Sounded like Mubarak’s lawyer- like the lady goes in and out of comas every few days. Ridiculous.
We have a real story- a story that should be covered- but gets very little coverage on the major networks- because it can hurt the president. It’s the scandal of our Justice Dept. – along with the ATF- selling guns to drug runners in Mexico- then finding these guns at the scene of murdered Border Patrol agents. Mexico actually suspected us of this in the past- and asked if we were indeed selling guns to drug cartel guys.
Our govt. – under president Obama- said no. We lied- we sold the guns- these guns killed many people- including our own law enforcement officials- and this is deemed an unworthy news story. These stories are things that bring down officials- things that rank so bad on the scale of ‘news’ worthy- that every news network should be covering it.
Yet we get migraines and ‘pray the gay away’ coverage- and no time for coverage of our justice dept being in the illegal gun running trade- and these guns actually having killed our own guys- it’s hard to believe- but believe it you can
I read a small report- hidden in the back pages of the paper. Human rights watch has been reporting that the Libyan Rebels- who we support- have been going into cities- with our air support- and killing civilians- Raiding homes- burning them down- looting businesses- of citizens who are on the side of Gadhaffi. These are not soldiers of Gadhaffi- these are actual citizens who do not support the Rebels.
How can we be supporting these Rebels- while they are doing this- and at the same time be accusing Gadhaffi of war crimes? Out of all the foreign countries that have fought the U.S. in the various fields of war we are engaged in- the number 1 country that sent Al Qaeda fighters to fight against us- came from Libya.
These fighters were not coming from Gadhaffi- he hates them- these Al Qaeda were coming from the same group of Rebels that we are supporting. The Rebels who are killing civilians- looting their shops and burning down the homes of civilians- these Rebels who we just recognized as the new ruling govt. of Libya.
Have you heard this story? No- it would take away too much time from the migraine scandal.
Why are we enamored with the absurd- the stuff that does not matter one iota- and yet the real injustices going on- many of them being perpetrated by our own govt. these things get little attention? I don’t know what the final outcome will be over the ‘gun running’ story- but someone needs to be fired- if not prosecuted over this.
If there are human rights groups- telling us that the Rebels we are supporting- are actually engaging in war crimes- then we need to stop supporting them- now.
I read a report on why the Arab league voted to remove Gadhaffi- they never liked the guy- he was a loner. So when the Arab league met- they figured they would vote for his expulsion- at no cost to them- and they would manipulate the U.S. into being ‘mercenaries’ who would go in and be the puppets of the world.
The report also said that they would not take a stand like this against other oppressive Arab rulers- because those rulers were deemed needed. They mentioned Assad of Syria as one example. Sure enough- last week the U.S. came out and took a hard stand against Assad- they attacked our embassy in Syria.
The Arab league responded by saying no country [the U.S.] has the right to say whether or not another countries leader is legitimate. The Arab league played us like puppets- got us to go to war against an Arab leader they didn’t support- and then told us ‘Hands off’ when we tried to criticize another one who is just as bad- if not worse.
These things are important- we don’t want to side against people- while supporting Rebels that are committing possible war crimes. We don’t want our guys being manipulated into being mercenaries- at no cost to the Arab League- because we got tricked into acting.
As a people- we should be informed about the important stuff- we should be aware- so we can make informed decisions- so we can know the facts on the ground. But instead we are treated to the secret recording of Michele Bachmann’s husband telling a fake gay patient that he can help him overcome what he thinks is a problem- no wonder the woman has migraines.
 HARRY POTTER
This year we ‘celebrate’ the end of an era- Harry Potter. I caught an interview last night with the publisher who put out her books. He explained that he was the only one willing to take the risk- because kid’s books- at a time when computer games and high tech stuff are all the craze- that trying to get kids into books again, well that seemed like a tough sell.
Yet J.K. Rowling went after it- and the rest is history. Some [most] preachers/Christians have been against Rowling’s fables- why? Of course she is introducing ‘soft witchcraft’ into her themes. The church has traditionally been against all forms of fortune telling. Horoscopes, astrology and the like.
And I have been surprised about how many friends over the years have asked me about whether or not doing the Palm Reading thing is okay for a Christian. The fact is the bible condemns- in no uncertain terms- all of these practices. But the bible does speak about spiritual gifts- prophecy, dreams- etc. These types of gifts are different from all these other forms of sorcery and witchcraft- these gifts originate from God- and they are acceptable.
Okay- having said all this- is there any good that come from Potter? Actually- there is. Even though Rowling has used these other forbidden themes- yet you also need to look at the overall theme of the books. For instance- do they have ideas about good versus evil? Yes. Do they introduce kids back to the lost art of reading? Yes.
So overall I think its okay for kids to read her stuff- with the parental warning of ‘
Little Johnny/Suzie- you know there is really no such thing as White Magic- all good comes from God- and evil from satan [and mans sinful nature]’.
I have sitting here a bunch of new teaching series from various scholars. I’m going thru one on the origins of the church- taught by an ex Benedictine Monk [Luke Timothy Johnson] who is an accredited scholar. Has lots of degrees and teaches at Harvard. The other series is an entire overview of the bible- with all the historical and theological data mixed in.
This series is also taught by a scholar- R.C. Sproul. Why mention this? One of my homeless buddies was over a few days ago- he loves learning- he walks thru my study [we usually hang out in the yard] and he says ‘who needs a university- you have everything right here’. Well- I have lots of great stuff- but a university I’m not.
The point is- we should try and do our best to learn from people who know stuff- people who are educated. Way too much of what is produced today from the ‘church’ is really at a low level. Now- I know I have been hard on ‘preachers’ in the past- and have criticized the abundance of TV/radio stuff that is simply ‘God is the answer’ which of course is true- but must we spend billions of dollars every year- for the simple exercise of having ‘our pastor’ say the same thing- that everyone else is saying- at a charge of millions of dollars?
We need to re think this stuff.
I had a talk with a friend the other day- I was discussing some of this with him. I told him how we [Christians] have taught people ‘if you don’t give 10 % of your money into the basket on Sunday- you are cursed- you are robbing God’. This teaching comes from the Old Testament Tithe- primarily taken from a proof text in the book of Malachi.
I said ‘now- when we use this verse- this way- we are usually telling the people that this teaching is mandated by God- to support his work’. Okay- I have been taught this over the years- but the part we usually leave out- is the actual teaching- from the bible- on the Tithe.
In the Old Testament the Jewish people were required to Tithe- it was more like an income tax than an offering [like the way we think of offering]. This tax was used for 3 things. A third was used to support the Levitical priests, a third was used for banquets and feasts [and wine!] and a third was used to meet the needs of the poor [a welfare system].
Now- the part that went to the priests- none of it could be used for personal wealth growth. The priests were not permitted to have personal wealth. They were taken from the tribe of Levi [one of the 12 tribes of Israel] and they were forbidden to own their own land/inheritance.
So if we taught the ‘biblical’ tithe- it would be using a third for the poor- a third for parties, and the rest went to ‘the preachers’ who were forbidden to own real estate [have personal wealth].
Now- after all the years of people teaching the Tithe- all the many hours of telling believers ‘you are robbing God if you don’t Tithe’ how hard can it be to simply do one teaching on the actual Tithe?
I mean I just taught the whole thing- and it took a few minutes.
But the contemporary church is consumed with practical stuff- and to many- it’s not practical to say ‘oh- and by the way- the preachers/pastors- according to the Tithe system- are not permitted to own stuff’ that lifestyle just doesn’t fit the modern picture.
Okay- my point today is not to condemn giving money to churches- but it’s to nudge us towards a more ‘enlightened’ Christianity- a church that asks- and seeks for truth.
A literate people- who read!
So today I think we can commend Rowling for re introducing a lost art- the art of learning. Though we as Christians do have difficulty with ‘sorcerer’s stones’ yet the fact that kids are reading again- well that’s a good thing in my book.
 GREAT EXPECTATIONS? Warning- this post is graphic
The other week we celebrated Fathers day. I was getting ready to buy a new computer and figured- wait- let me just tell my daughters  that instead of getting me different stuff I don’t need, just by me the PC.
They kinda scoffed at the idea- my wife said ‘John- computers are expensive’ I said ‘Okay- I’ll pay the balance- whatever they want- they can put down- I’ll cover the rest’. I really wasn’t expecting a free computer- I just thought it was a good idea. I even told them ‘hey- my birthdays coming up- just count this as a combination present’ look- I tried my best.
So as the week wore on- I would drop hints- you know- trying to see if they made the purchase. I am notorious at this kind of stuff. Every year around Christmas time I would always trick my girls into confessing what my wife bought me. I mean I would do what needed to be done- as crass as ‘hey Debbie- want to make 10 bucks’ yes- I go low.
Of course my wife would get mad ‘I’m gonna bring the presents back if you keep doing this!’ I swore my scheming days were over. Then one year they asked what I wanted- I said ‘I know- get me a BB gun’ what? Yeah- I want the classic kids toy- that toy that kids from all cultures and races covet- the toy little Ralphie shot his eye out with- yeah- that’s the one.
So the weeks went by- I tried my best to get the girls to confess- their older now [around 10 years ago] they know how to spot my tricks. So after weeks of doing my best bargaining- I gave up.
Then my wife comes home from work- and as soon as she walks in the door- I say ‘They told me you got me the BB gun’ boy was she mad- she looked at them [and me] and said ‘I told you not to tell him!’ They replied- ‘we didn’t’ ah yes- I still had the skill.
So as Fathers day approached- they wouldn’t budge- the day arrived and I even gave them directions on where I wanted to set it up in the study- I spent a couple of days running the cord and all.
As the day wore on- I realized that this time it was no game- they simply decided to not get me a gift. I kidded them about it [one of the girls did by me a nice plant] and we really never do stuff for Father’s day to be honest- I don’t like doing birthdays [for me] or stuff like that. Sure- maybe order out for dinner- nothing big.
My girls were kind of feeling a little guilty- far be it for me to put a guilt trip on them. Becky asks ‘hey dad- what do you want for your birthday’. I said ‘I know- do they sell any type of medication at the store- maybe some natural home health remedy- something that can help a person overcome a feeling of depression- the type you feel when you get nothing for Father’s day’.
Yes- the schemer still lives.
Okay- let me try and cover a few things. Last week I was talking to my homeless buddy Henry- we got into a discussion about the buzz on Perry possibly running for Pres. I told him I really wasn’t too excited about it- I can see it now- the media portraying him as a whacky evangelical- and Obama of course is the candidate that you should never question about his church beliefs.
Sure enough the talk has started. The MSNBC crowd has already said they think Perry is a Marjoe [the story of the fake boy evangelist] and of course Bachman’s ‘pray the gay away’ clinic has made it to prime time news.
These stupid arguments usually leave carnage on the floor. Stephen Tyler’s [Aerosmith] bio has been on the best seller list for a few weeks now. He tells the story of going to an abortion clinic with his 5 month pregnant girl friend. As they go in for the procedure- he thinks it’s a simple procedure that makes the pregnancy just go away. You know- this is a woman’s right!
As she lies on the table- the doctor sticks a needle into her. She begins going into forced labor- and the baby comes out- alive and screaming. Tyler stands in shock as he sees this tiny human- this person that he thought was just a blob of cells- crying for help- love- life.
They all stand there- seeing this beautiful 5 month old preemie struggling for life. Eventually the baby goes silent- the damage done. Tyler’s friends will later say that he became a different person after that- much more violent and angry. The story is simply the true telling of the life of a rocker- and Tyler has no behind the scenes agenda- he just told the truth- the shock and feeling of disgust over what happened.
The reason I’m leery about possibility of the ‘Texas Evangelical’ versus the ‘enlightened liberal’ is because these real life tragedies get lost in the debate. One time former senator Rick Santorum showed a picture of an unborn child- around the same age as Tyler’s kid. He was on the floor of congress and had it up there. I mean there is no way you could deny that what was on the screen was human. He asked Senator Barbara Boxer if what she saw was a baby or not. Boxer replied that it was beyond her pay grade to make that decision- that she did not see it as her responsibility to judge whether or not her consent to the killing of these babies was humane.
Yet this same congress can judge ‘crimes against humanity’ when a leader on the other side of the globe threatens to go after those who have raised up an armed insurgency against him- a civil war.
Sometimes our expectations are too high- we expect more from others than what we get. As these debates move forward this coming year- we need the integrity to do what’s right- not what’s politically expedient- but what’s right. I have never- ever- been able to justify the deaths of these preemies- after seeing the actual pictures of the babies- real little babies- being mutilated- this act is atrocious- it is equal to the slaughter of the innocents under Hitler’s regime- yes- it’s that bad.
I don’t expect too much out of our leaders- but I at least would hope that when they see the body of a beautiful little baby- perfectly formed- lying on a table- screaming for its life while the mother and father and doctor watch- that we can at least say that this is no surgical procedure- no ‘right to privacy’ being carried out- this my friends is murder- pure and simple.
 CRAZY TRAIN and squirrel busters
Here in Corpus our local paper has been having a field day with a ‘story of interest’. You have this couple, living in a small neighboring city- who are being harassed by the church of scientology.
I have read about this ‘church’ years ago- their founder is the late L. Ron Hubbard [Dianetics] and from what I remember they are basically a metaphysical cult. Some ‘cult watchers’ don’t even classify them as a religion- they lack the basic ‘Christian like’ structure of the other cults.
Anyway the husband left the group- sort of- he is a dissenter who still believes in the basic principles, but rejects the ‘church’ oversight. So the church deals with these people by harassing them- they have a team follow them around and video tape them under the guise that they are filming a documentary- and they post the videos to the net and say they are ‘busting Squirrels’.
Last night I caught a quick few minutes of Bill Maher on Piers Morgan- he is still on this ‘high speed’ fantasy of high speed rail. He also espoused the liberal economic argument that the Fed. Govt. is the ‘spender of last resort’. This idea says that during times of extreme financial stress- recession/depression- that the only ‘person’ at the table- with money- is the govt. That all the other’s ‘at the table’ have run out of money. The hard working union folk, the small business owners, the corps, etc. That because no one else has money- and those who do don’t want to spend it [the big corps, according to this theory] that the Fed. Govt. can step in and spend tons of money.
Thus the high speed rail thing keeps coming back ‘Geez- if we could just build the high speed trains- think of all the jobs it would provide’. I heard one ‘analyst’ explain- as soon as the train tracks get laid, that all types of businesses are just waiting to build along these tracks- McDonalds, Malls. High Speed Rail clothing stores [okay- I made this last one up].
These folk seem to believe that the actual rail itself- regardless of the overall business environment- will produce jobs. They then compare us to China [Maher] ‘geez- China has invested over 300 billion into it- why can’t we raise 8 billion’! [Actually- Obama mentioned around 40 billion in his speech- but whose counting].
Why has China been so successful at this? Because they are an economic powerhouse- that has this population explosion in their main cities- and they need the rail- not as some type of stand alone ‘job producer’ but as a necessity for a red hot economy [like the subway system in N.Y.- it’s not there as some type of wonderful job producer- people riding the thing for fun- it’s there because N.Y.C., like China- has this huge population center- and people need the trains as transportation- its simply meeting a need- for people to get to their jobs. It’s not an end in itself]
I think we should invest the 40 billion- let’s build a great rail- you know- with the old time ‘boarding station’ and the whole 9 yards. Lets invite Maher, Krugmann [N.Y. times] and all the other liberal economists who keep raising the hopes of high speed rail. Let’s put them on the maiden voyage ‘all aboard’ but as the train leaves the station- instead of ‘I took the last train to Boston’ playing over the loud speakers- lets have Ozzies ‘going off the rails on a crazy train’ blasting.
Then instead of heading East- it turns West- yes right into the Pacific. ‘Now brother- your going too far’ Okay- let’s not dump them into the ocean- lets have them exit on a Gilligan’s Island type spot- and they can live out their days glorying over high speed rail.
Look- I know these guys are trying their best- and Maher was all for the Krugmann idea of the govt. spending trillions more- the only person at the table with money. But they don’t seem to realize that the govt is using the other ‘players’ money when it spends.
The govt. does not have a separate bank account- that gets this ‘unused cash’ to put on the table. THEY EITHER SPEND ‘THE OTHER PLAYERS MONEY’ OR THEY PRINT IT.
Now- one of the reasons the big corporations are not spending their money- is because the govt. has created an environment that scares them. When the govt. prints the money- like we did a few months back- 600 billion- the result is all the other money on the table counts for less.
So if the big spenders are afraid that the govt. will do this again- they will just wait- they don’t want to spend their more expensive dollars now- in a game where the boss might just throw a few more billion on the table. So this dream of the fed being the spender of last resort might actually hurt- not help.
Okay- I wanted to do a little more on Sudan, maybe tomorrow. I’m not mad at Maher- or Krugmann- it’s just that we tried this idea- we threw a ton of money on the table- and it did not work. Most of the president’s economic team who bought into this idea- they are gone now [Christine Rohmer, Austin Goolsbee, etc.] and the plan didn’t work.
I don’t hate these people- as a matter of fact I want to bless them- contribute to their future- I know- How bout we all chip in and buy them some tickets to the ‘crazy train’ yeah- they’ll love that.
 GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
A few years ago- while still working at the fire dept we had to work 4 24 hour shifts straight in a row. Our dept had 24 on- 48 off [worked one day- took 2 days off]. The depts. up north- where my father retired from- they worked one day on- 3 days off, a great deal for sure.
Whenever we had a hurricane in the gulf our chief would have to decide whether or not to activate hurricane duty. Because we were a small dept [30 guys] if the city thought the hurricane would hit close to our area- we needed all the guys to be there.
So as luck would have it- one time the chief activated hurricane duty- right on the morning when our shift was getting off. And he deactivated it- right on the morning when we had to come back to work- 4-24 hour days in a row- a bit much to be honest.
I was ‘on trucks’ [drove the frontline fire truck] and others were on ambulance duty. The problem was the ‘darn’ chief would leave the guys on their initial assignments- all through the week! So you had some guys up for 4 days straight- and whoever lucked out to have ‘logistics’ slept most of the time- because his job was to go to the store and by the breakfast.
Needless to say- the biblical rule of not cursing was violated much during this week. One of the ways you broke the monotony was you cracked jokes- kid the bro’s who you’re working with. One of my buddies, Joe, already had it out for our chief- when he was a rookie the chief made him drive to Kingsville every morning- to punch in the time card- and drive back to Corpus for fire school. Then when he got out of school- he made him drive back again- just to punch out.
It was kind of stupid to be honest- but that’s the way the ball bounced. So we would kid Joe ‘hey Joe- the chief says let’s try and look happy- peppy today- the news reporter is coming for pics’ and Joe would give you a ‘pic’ right there. After our shift did the 4 straight days [me and Joe were both on that shift] other guys were only there for half the time- yet we got stuck riding the main vehicles for the 4 days- kinda dumb to be honest.
But the chief appreciated our work- when we were getting off after the 4th day- he came by and dropped off some extra stale loaves of white bread that were left over from the week. They were there in the morning sitting on the breakfast table- you know- just as a sign of love for the guys.
Joe and I lived in Corpus- we would often drive home on the same road- either he was in front- or me. The next shift I told the guys ‘you know a funny thing happened on my way home the other morning- as I was driving- I spotted Joe’s truck in front of me- obviously we were both tired after the hurricane duty. And as I drove- I thought I saw Joe eject something from the truck- and as I got closer- I saw 3 stale loaves of white bread lying in the road’.
So yes- the bread was not appreciated that day. Which gets me to the main point [after wasting all this time] in the bible- we have lots of stories/verses dealing with God supplying daily bread- Jesus himself gave us this phrase in the Lord’s prayer. There are lots of good points we can get from this term- but one important point is ‘it’s daily’ that is God can/will ‘speak’ to you on a daily basis, giving you guidance for that day- if you will spend some time listening.
Sometimes this ‘bread’ will come from a friend- sometimes a co worker- or even a family member. Our job is to discern when it comes- and to try and apply it thru out the day. Knowing that yes- in some way- today God gave me this ‘bread’ [direction] and it’s important for me to be grateful- to hear and act on this word. And of course many times it comes from a bible passage that you might read early in the day.
And sometimes the bread comes in the form of a rebuke- a word from a friend/brother that you know is right- but you get grumpy because that’s the way the flesh is. And at those times we have a choice on how we will respond- will we be open- listen to the criticism- maybe ‘eat the bread’ even though it’s a little stale? Or will we be like my buddy Joe- spread it all over the highway as a token of our appreciation?
Note- I did not see the bread on the road- I was kidding with Joe- the guys knew it at the time.
 THE SUNDAY MASS
I kind of wanted to talk a little more about the Casey reaction- why so many people are upset. What’s the root cause? Many people are actually mad- for a right reason. They have a moral sense of injustice- seeing the beautiful little Caylee dying like that- so there is this inner sense of justice that we have- it comes from being created in the image of God.
But instead of doing too much on that right now- let me catch up on a few things I felt I needed to do. In these past few years- as different teaching opportunities came up- I noticed that I had an open door from the Lord to teach all different types of people.
Catholics- Jews, Muslims- the whole 9 yards. Obviously my goal is to make clear the biblical account of mans redemption- to preach the Cross of Christ- and at the same time be willing to let anyone sit in on the conversation- If my Jewish friends stay Jewish- fine. If my Muslim friends don’t convert- and they still want to ‘hang out’ I’m okay with that. And if my Catholic friends stay Catholic- while at the same time learning more about the bible that’s great.
The point being I’m glad for the eclectic group- even the Atheists and GBLT friends- everyone is welcome at the table.
Now- one of the things I wanted to start doing was sharing the different ways the Lord has used the Mass to speak to me- I have found that watching the Sunday Mass- every Sunday- there is always some verse/homily that speaks to me.
Let me hit the last 3 weeks. A few weeks ago I had to block/unfriend a few people [Facebook] I always feel bad about it- even if I think it’s the right thing to do. So one of the things that made me feel a little better about cutting someone off that way- was the fact that even if I block people- they can always have access to the blog site.
So I thought ‘geez- maybe I was mad and cut people off too soon- but at least there’s the backup’. Then- I thought let’s see what the Sunday Mass verses will be. Sure enough it was Exodus 34- the story of Moses getting upset with the people [he had an anger problem] and he broke the first set of 10 commandments [denied access]. God says ‘okay- one more shot- come back up to the mountain and I’ll give you a second set’. Okay- that was exactly what I felt the Lord was saying- the backup set will work.
Then the following week- one of the hymns that was sung came from Psalms 147- the hymn said ‘I have strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within’. I did a double take- this verse has been prayed- by me- at least a few thousand times over these last few years.
I don’t remember when I added it to my prayer time- but like lots of other verses- I read it one day and it became a regular part of intercession.
The only thing was- I pray it a little different- I pray ‘strengthen the bars of our gates and bless our children within- let peace be within our borders and let our garners be full [teaching tools] providing all manner of store’- I pray it as a request- so when I heard the priest/deacon singing it as an answer to the prayer- I had to go and check out the verse- Sure enough Psalms 147 is in the ‘answer mode’.
Then this past Sunday- the verse was from Zechariah chapter 9- the famous chapter where it speaks of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem- riding on the donkey. This chapter says ‘because of the blood of the covenant I have delivered your prisoners out of the pit’- I pray ‘let the sighing of the prisoners come before you- and according to the greatness of your power preserve those that are appointed to death’- it’s another verse I have prayed hundreds of times.
The chapter also says ‘your people will have the double portion’ I have a verse painted on my prayer wall [on the house!] that says ‘for your shame you will have double- and for your confusion they will possess the double portion in their land’.
I also pray a verse from Exodus 15- it comes from the Song of Moses that Israel sang after God delivered them from Egypt- the part I pray says ‘I will sing unto the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously- the horse and rider thrown into the sea’. It’s a prayer/song rejoicing over God breaking Pharaohs chariots in the Red Sea- and the bible says ‘they sank like lead’ to the bottom. In Zechariah 9 it speaks about God breaking the chariots and the devices of those who are coming against you.
Basically all these scriptures are speaking about the various groups/friends you will teach thru out your life- and that these different groups will learn ‘double’ from what they knew before.
Okay- I just caught you guys up for the last 3 weeks- but this type of thing has been going on for years- I just thought the Lord wanted me to share a little more on the actual verses- so you can see how the Lord will use these things- if you pay attention. I have found many times- I’ll ask a Catholic friend- ‘hey- did you go to Mass Sunday’ and he will say yes. But then he will not make any connection between the different verses the priest used during the Homily.
I’ll then do a quick review- and he will normally say ‘oh yeah- I didn’t see that’.
So the goal is for me to try and help people see a little more- not to make them convert to ‘my religion’ but to give them room at the table- to not pound them every week with some ‘moral rebuke’ about the way they are. Yes- at times we all need to repent- and re think the things we do. But there are too many ‘outsiders’ too many people- who come from different groups- and they never feel welcome to sit at the table and get a chance to learn- we too often give them the feeling that they are not wanted.
I thank God- even for those who I have had to block- that at least by Gods grace they can always read from the 2nd set- God is a God of mercy and grace- if he wants people to have access- to sit at the table- then he will always make a way for that to happen.
 PREACH THE GOSPEL?
Let’s talk some about the role of the church in society. Many years ago I had a friend who was a preacher/pastor- at the time some people kindly told him ‘brother- I know Jesus is the answer- but you need to also teach- you can’t just say ‘Jesus is the way’ all the time’.
Were they right? In a way- yes. Let me explain. In the book of Isaiah we read about the purpose of Jesus [chapter 11]. Jesus came to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor- set captives free- to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
The book of Amos [a prophet in the Old Testament] shows Amos railing against the rich- the powerful- as he defends the poor in society. Part of ‘the gospel’ is speaking out against injustices in society- telling those in power ‘your day is coming- you have trampled down the innocent- abused the immigrant- and God hears their cry’.
Yes- a part of the ministry of the church is to address these abuses in society. Now- what happens when the church casts off this job? It gets picked up by any/all others who are willing to run with it. So you have ‘the media’ or even a comic like Jon Stewart- anyone else who is willing to speak out against injustices- uneven scales- these will fill the void if Gods people won’t.
If you read the ministry of Jesus- the things he did and said- he often came up against religious forms of holiness. Those in society who thought their purpose was to- well be ‘religious’. That is they made a special class out of religion. They often engaged in public displays of it [prayer- fasting to be seen of men].
They valued their own religious experience as the primary thing- when they perceived man getting in the way of their expression of religion- they were willing to ‘sacrifice him’ [literally] in order for their own religious cause to gain influence [they said of Jesus- if he keeps doing this we will lose our position of power and influence].
At the end of the day- these religious folk saw their own view of religion as the primary thing- it took precedence over all other things- even people themselves.
Now- when the church reduces her mission to ‘religious speech’ that is when they refuse to engage in society- to do what the prophets did in the bible- defend the poor- rail against injustice- when Gods people leave this part of ‘preaching the gospel’ out- then they unknowingly have given in to the temptation to see their practice of religion- as simply a ‘religious thing’.
In a way- they have become like the religious folk of Jesus day- so busy carrying out their religious tasks- that the voiceless of society have no one to advocate for them.
We are living in a day where many major upheavals are taking place- I think the ‘average person’ does not fully understand the seriousness of what’s going on in the world today. It is quite possible that the U.S. will default on her debt. And that we will face a credit crisis equal to that of Greece- where the politicians have pandered to the people to a point where the people are rising up in the streets because they refuse to see the reality of the situation.
There are threads of this taking place right now in this country- at the current rate we are going- our debt will equal our GDP in 10 years- that’s really bad.
As we have these debates- we must remember that the poor and impoverished of the world count to God- the cause of the illegal alien means a lot to God- these issues are not just nationalistic- they are of concern to God.
As we move down this treacherous road over these next few years- lets not forsake that part of the gospel that calls us to speak up for the poor- to speak truth to power- and to expose injustice wherever we see it- not just on the opposing team.
 TRUTH TO POWER?
Last night the president gave his speech on the war- he will withdraw 10,000 troops this year- another 20,000 by September of next year. That leaves around 60,000 going into 2013.
When the president came into office there were 30,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan- he doubled it to a little over 60- then did a 30,000 man surge [West Point speech].
Many anti war folk [like me] were not happy with the 60- never mind the surge. Yet we are staring at 90,000 for the next year- then down to 60- and they are talking about leaving 20-25 thousand forever!
Last week I caught a CNN special called Wiki Wars- they covered the Julian Assange case. Assange is the ‘Omega man’ looking Australian who has shaken the world with his on line ‘leaking’ factory [Wiki Leaks]. The show covered his nomadic upbringing- his mission to change the world- and his determination to expose corruption wherever he finds it.
His work has been recognized by Amnesty International [for exposing corrupt leaders who slaughtered innocents] and overall his mission has been very noble.
Eventually he would come into possession of thousands of leaked on line documents that would expose many hidden discussions of our military. He also released the now [in] famous video called ‘Collateral Murder’.
The video shows our guys hovering over a vehicle in Iraq [I think it’s Iraq?] and the audio allows you to hear the conversation. As we watch the enemy walking back and forth- seemingly oblivious to the chopper watching them [strange?] our guys radio communication is describing their contact with their commander.
As they wait for the go ahead to shoot- they finally get the o.k. They then show the video of our helicopter shooting the men. Most of the guys are killed quickly- others run. One guy is wounded and laying in the street- another vehicle pulls up and tries to help him- we then blow the hell out of him too.
Then something happens- one of the guys starts running from the first vehicle with a young child in his arms- our guys say ‘wow- he has a kid with him- that’s what he gets for being so stupid to bring his kid with him’ [our guys think they are enemy combatants].
The scene looks terrible- especially when we later find out that all these guys were reporters- mostly working for Reuter’s news service.
As the CNN host questions the military commander who is watching the video with him- the commander explains that our guys did ‘what they were supposed to do’. That these reporters should not have been in a hot zone- walking around with their camera equipment- which was mistaken for a rocket launcher.
This military leader actually justified our actions. Then as the show progressed- they got into the Wiki Leaks founder who released these videos. He gave the standard U.S. govt. line that the leaking of these videos/emails was unjust- that it might cause harm to people- and therefore our govt. is justified to go after Assange and the soldier [Bradley Manning] who supposedly leaked the stuff.
I found it strange to see this commander ‘justify’ our killing of the reporters- while at the same time condemning the person who uncovered this act.
This week NATO bombed another civilian house in Libya- killed a couple of kids [one a baby] and a few civilians. Once again- they released another statement saying ‘this house was a command and control operations base’ which means they thought Gadhaffi [or his men] might be there. Now- they have done this before- they kill innocent people, kids- then they justify the action.
I was wondering how long it would take before the Western media got off the Obama bandwagon and reported the truth- stop simply regurgitating the words of NATO and report the facts on the ground.
Surprisingly, as I read the article- the report said that as the journalists arrived at the home that was bombed- there were other Libyans who immediately starting saying ‘Gadhaffi blew up this house to blame it on NATO’.
These reporters have been fed this before- and simply believed it. This time as they investigated- they indeed found out that we and NATO simply blew the hell out of a civilian home- and killed a new born along with another child.
The home was a political supporter’s residence. Now- I certainly realize that these actions are not meant to kill innocent people- and I know our guys did not mean to kill reporters. But when we as a nation lie about this stuff- cover it up to a degree- and then actually seek the execution of those who leaked the evidence- then we are doing unjust things.
I heard the reasoning behind why when this type of info is leaked in a traditional way [N.Y. times, etc.] that these leaks are considered very noble- uncovering the secret agenda’s of the powerful. But then the person being queried said when the leaks are being released ‘on line- without actual ink and paper’ then yes- we are justified in seeking the execution of the leakers.
It’s amazing that we accept this type of reasoning without question.
I’m glad we are starting to draw down our troops- right now in Afghanistan we are spending a couple of billion every week- we are facing a fiscal crisis at home that might eventually ruin this entire nation. And China is digging copper out of the Afghanistan ground- making deals with the corrupt Afghan govt.- and we are footing the bill for the security so China can enrich themselves and the leaders of Afghanistan- all at the same time when we are about to default on our debt- to China!
There just seems to be too many things wrong with this picture. I in no way blame our brave fighting men and women for these atrocious acts that do take place during times of war- but I do blame those in power, those who know about these acts- who seek to cover them up- and then after they are leaked- our govt. goes after them- seeking to raise the level of these leaks to the crime of treason- so we can execute the leakers. These things are unjust- and we need to recognize this fact.
 THERE THEY GO AGAIN!
Let me give this one last shot [on Face book- to all my blog readers- of course I will keep posting there!]. Since I’ve been on face book I have enjoyed posting/commenting with old friends. Every so often I would get notices that said ‘so and so asked this question’ or stuff like that- little apps [games] that I know nothing about. Sometimes the questions seemed a little ‘weird’ to say the least.
Look- I’m an adult- heard it all [and have messed up in life many times- not just the on line games- but the real thing- yes- like most every one else in life]. So anyway these stupid things didn’t ‘offend’ me- I just felt they weren’t where I wanted to go on the site.
So at first I would just block that particular game- not the person [by the way- this was more than one person]. Then they would use another game. A few times the thing showed up on my main page- and I couldn’t delete the thing!
So finally I just blocked [or blocked their posts] from my page. Then one ingenious person waited till a mutual friend posted- and they used their post [which was on my page] to give me a wonderful ‘F—K YOU’ note- wow- it just made my day.
Look- if you are a ‘friend’ on my page- and you let people post things to me like that- I’m gonna block you- sorry. You want to tell me that in a personal email- where my kids don’t have to see it- fine- but ‘friends’ letting their friends do that- sorry- your blocked.
Okay- why the anti liberal stuff? As a political blogger- I listen to all sides. I listen to Rush- Hannity- Olbermann [he starts Monday on current t.v.] Maddow- the whole crew.
I have found it amazing that the ‘ultra liberals’ are just as bad as the hard right. But for the most part they carry a belief that they are way above the average man- I rarely see this with the hard right.
So it takes patience to deal with the libs- much more than the right [I consider myself neither]. So a few weeks ago I noticed something- MSNBC decided they were going to show the shirtless picture of the Republican congressman who quit right after he was caught trying to pick up girls on line.
Okay- he messed up. But all of a sudden MSNBC began showing the pic. Every day. Even during primetime. They laughed- smirked- they were obviously going to run with this picture right up until the election of next year.
Then what happened? The Weiner story broke and it just seemed stupid for them to follow this strategy. Their main network [NBC- Brian Williams] received criticism for not even covering the story at first- I applauded Williams at the time because I felt the story did not deserve the coverage it got.
I saw Williams report ‘he was forced from office because of semi nude pictures’ an outright lie- he was fully nude- erect- and possibly doing it with kids. Now- in the real world you do not call this ‘a sexless sex scandal’ the A.P. reported it this way- many commentators did too. I even saw an editorial comic that showed Weiner getting in trouble- the comic said ‘shirtless photos’ on his suit case.
Smart- huh- giving the impression that all he did was take off his shirt- just like the repub! Now- I didn’t rejoice over Weiner- I prayed for the man [for real!] but the ultra libs rejoiced over the repub- they were running primetime with the pic months after the event. These guys are insufferable!
Then I read an A.P. [Associated Press] story on how the Obama recovery was being ‘drug down’ by those darn states! Yes- the report said the recovery was working on ‘the federal level’ but the states [aha- those new Repub. Governors] they were dragging the recovery down by their bad economies- I mean they must think the general public are complete idiots- that’s what the left thinks- and they show this all the time.
I mean what are the states? They are 50 pieces of the whole country- there is no such thing as a ‘federal recovery’ being dragged down by the states- please- we are not all that dumb.
But it’s stuff like this that makes it hard to deal with the real problems we [and the global economy] are facing. If both sides do not come to some type of agreement- which will include dealing with the rocketing cost of healthcare [yes- Medicare will need to be dealt with- maybe not the Ryan plan- but more than just making a political statement- like Bill Clinton said- we cant let Medicare eat up the entire U.S. economy].
Greece is on the verge of default- I don’t know if Germany is gonna keep footing the bill. And their bond rating is 3 points below junk status! That’s bad- a nation defaulting like that. Those of you who watch this stuff- our own nation is going back into another recession [some feel it never recovered in the first place].
If the media keep playing the games that they have- then they are just adding to the problem. Did Obama’s stimulus work? Not the way he hoped- but most of the 800 billion simply staved off the job losses at the state and local level. The money was spent to prop up the states until a recovery happened. That was the real plan- it didn’t work.
Austin Goolsbee jumped ship while there was still time- and Paul Krugman [liberal N.Y. times economist] is running with the story that the stimulus should have been around 2 trillion- yes he’s also covering his back side.
All in all we need to come to the table and work as one- MSNBC [and NBC] should be ashamed at their continued gloating- months after the downfall of a human being- deciding to run his picture night after night- and then lying about ‘their guy’ saying he too was shirtless- they played the game and pretended they were above the ‘average guy’ you know- the viewing public- the ones who they think believe that the ‘darn states are ruining the recovery’- yeah- that bunch.
 THE PROBLEM IS WE ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON!
These last few days I have found it amusing to listen to the various media networks deal with the Weiner scandal. Some have tried to actually justify the fact that ‘he didn’t commit a crime’. True- but if after a few weeks of chatting with young girls who join your site because you are a representative- if after a few weeks you are sending fully nude ‘excited’ photos of yourself to these young girls- geez- you need to go- and fast!
But the interesting thing was to see the elitist mindset at work. One show discussed why this happens to smart politicos- they surmised that the mind of highly advanced politicians [mainly liberal Democrats] functions at such a higher level than the ‘average’ person- that because of this they need multiple outlets for this highly functioning intellect.
I actually have heard this argument used a few times in trying to come up with an explanation of why Obama’s numbers are low- or why the public does not fully support his ideas at times. The reporters would say ‘the average person is not able to fully digest the advanced intellect of the president- he functions almost at the level of a genius [not kidding] and because of this it’s like Einstein trying to explain physics to a 3rd grader’.
Now- pride is one of those sins that comes out- and you don’t know its there- I have it- you have it- yes we all have it. But I find these elite news men humorous- they really seem to struggle, and believe, that they are so far ahead of the ‘gun toting southern idiots’ that their viewers cant see the idiocy of their arguments.
A few weeks ago on MSNBC Rachel Maddow was covering the oil situation. She explained that those who blame Obama for the high gas prices are wrong [to a degree she is right- but when prices went up under Bush- no one dared do an entire show at trying to explain this Phenomenon!]. She then went on to explain that if we drill more in the U.S. that the simple fact that the U.S. is drilling- that does not mean that all the ‘U.S.’ oil goes to us.
She explained- rightfully- that the oil produced here goes into this ‘global market’ and then it simply sells on the global shelf. The problem was at the time she was arguing against those who were saying that the lack of U.S. production could hurt in times of global war- when other oil producing nations go to war. Her defense was ‘either way- U.S. production just goes on a global market’ but the mistake she made was she was arguing economics- when the question at hand was logistics- supply.
It indeed is true that during times of national war and upheaval- enemy nations might well say ‘no more oil for you’. And if our own production is low [even though it might be a foreign company- B.P.] then we are in trouble. During times of crisis our country has the ability to ‘take over’ the actual resource [oil, etc.] and if there are limited regional resources to ‘take over’ then in fact we would be in trouble.
Point? Maddow was arguing economics- when the question at hand was logistics. Okay- I can live with that. But at the same time this network [MSNBC] is the main instigator of the argument ‘we [liberals in general] function on such a higher plane than the average citizen- that’s why Obama’s numbers are low’. It really is a sad thing.
I hope Weiner can in some way redeem himself and his family. Comparing him to Vitter, Foley, Clinton- etc. It really is a waste of time for me. The fact that these incidents happened so recently- with many young women who he just knew for a few weeks- no shirtless pic’s- but the Full Monty. I mean it just seems like it would be best for everybody if he took some other job for now- restore his marriage and maybe some day he can come back and be productive. Elliot Spitzer actually is doing a great job at CNN- as an analyst he is really good- very fair.
Instead of trying to explain the foibles of ‘the left’ by coming up with arguments that say ‘we function at such a higher level than the rest of the country’ just swallow the crow and take some time off- please- the country really needs a break.
Let’s talk about war. These past few days NATO has bombed Tripoli really hard. Reporters on the ground have said that the compound that Gadhaffi lives in has been leveled- to the point where it makes no sense- sort of like turning the place into a post nuclear looking wasteland.
Supposedly we [Brits, French and U.S.] were trying to penetrate any hidden bunkers, using the famous Bunker Busting bombs. It seems so surreal- when was the last time you saw/heard daily reports of the British and French doing routine air raids?
I can’t think of the last time- it must have been WW2. You say ‘now brother- I know the British were brave under Churchill- but the French?’ Okay- as least they were industrious- do you know how many white flags that country produced during the war? [To my French readers- I’m sorry]
So we have chosen to bomb- Libya had an ambassador go to the Hague and to the French this week, they filed war crimes charges against them. This past week the former Serbian general who was on the run for years- Slobodan Milosevic- was finally captured and taken to the ‘world court’ on charges of genocide.
You remember that back during the Clinton years we got involved because the Serbian Christians were fighting the Muslims and the charges were that the Serbs were carrying out genocide against the Muslims.
Why did we engage there? It’s possible that tens of thousands died- do you know how many Blacks died on the continent of Africa? Many of them Christians- killed by Muslims? Sudan, Darfur, Congo? Some say the numbers are over a million. Do you know how many Iraqi’s died since our invasion? Some estimates say around a million civilians have died since the war started.
The U.S. does not keep records of civilian deaths. So why Serbia and not Africa? Do you remember who the secretary of state was at the time? Madeline Albright. She came from this part of the world- she actually made statements saying she would not sit back and see ‘her’ people killed like this.
Problem? Did we allow the ethnic roots of a secretary of state dictate where and when we would get involved? Jesse Jackson brought this up at the time- he asked ‘why intervene when it’s your homeland- and let millions die when it’s in Africa’? Hate to admit it- but the man was right.
Now Libya. There are reports coming out that the western backed rebels [the guys we are backing] have tortured and killed Blacks. Why? Do you remember when Nelson Mandela was released from prison- he went to Libya and personally thanked Gadhaffi for his support- called him his brother. Many in the west cringed at the time.
Why did he do this? In Africa you have Black Africans and non Blacks. Some hate the Black skinned Africans and have been pro slavery. Others have a long history of supporting the Black skinned Africans- Gadhaffi is one of those who have been on the side of the Blacks for many years.
Right now in Libya you have many Blacks who have come from the Sub Sahara and these are fighting on the side of Gadhaffi. The western media reports this- but they always say these Blacks are just hired guns. While this is partially true- yet when these fighters are asked ‘why are you helping Gadhaffi’ they will tell you- just like Mandela- that he has supported them for decades- when no one else cared- including us.
There is an ex Black congresswoman in Libya right now- she has reported that the rebels have been lynching the Blacks- just having Black skin identifies you as being on Gadhaffi’s side- No wonder Farrakhan said ‘who the hell are you [Obama] telling him he must go!’.
Many Blacks see Gadhaffi as one of their own- he has earned their support. Now do you see why so many Blacks can’t understand why America’s first Black president might be the one to topple the man- and at the same time supporting the rebels- you know- the lynchers!
What a tangled web we weave. I do not know what position we should take in all these wars and uprisings- but we need to be very slow at pulling the trigger and getting comfortable with seeing our country daily bombing another country.
The congress just tried to pass something that would have forced us to leave Libya in 15 days. The 60 day mark has passed [the deadline for the president going to the congress for support] and the president has yet to go to the congress. Instead congress passed something that demanded the president give some more answers on why we are bombing Libya- non stop.
It seems to me that the so called ‘no fly zone’ has been implemented- obviously we want to kill the man. Problem? We have no right to kill the guy- no matter what the Arab league- the U.N. – Nato- no matter what they agree on- the U.S. is not allowed to assassinate foreign heads of state- and that’s that.
So today we got a lesson on why we sometimes intervene- and sometimes not. Why we let millions of Africans die on the continent- and intervene for thousands in Serbia. Yes- we are a fickle crowd. And all this at the expense of our young men and women.
I heard Beck one day- he had a guest on. The guest quoted the words of Lincoln ‘a nation divided against itself can not stand’. Beck was quick to correct the man- Beck told him that Lincoln did not coin this phrase- but he got it from another politico who lived before him. Beck then mentioned the ‘originator’ it was some guy who lived a few hundred years before Lincoln.
To my surprise both of these men got it wrong. The words come from the lips of Jesus in the New Testament. Yes Jesus himself said it.
As I look at the political landscape today- upcoming elections where its popular to be ‘pro war’- I hope we as a people can be honest about the things we are doing- be willing to ‘cut and run’ when we realize that the political end game might not be much better then before we went in [Iraq and Afghanistan] and return to the original purpose of our fighting men and women- to protect the homeland.
As much as I want freedom for the Iraqi’s- to see the Afghan women freed from oppressive regimes like the Taliban- as good and right as these things are [or to prevent a ‘genocide’ in Libya] as good as these things are- our men and women did not join the military for this- that’s not a reason for them to die. We need to think long and hard before we spill the blood of our kids on foreign soil- we do not want them to die in vain.
 MEMORIAL DAY
First I want to honor our men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country [and other countries]. This past week I have read/watched lots of stuff about the things our guys go thru when they come back from the field. A sad story of a vet who survived a viscous attack- only to later deal with survivor guilt.
Upon returning to the states he volunteered to work with wounded vets. They showed you him helping guys who lost their limbs- doing activities with them. Some wounded vets. testified to his concern and seeming balanced way he dealt with his experiences in war. Yet this young man chose to take his life- the guilt of him surviving ‘whole’ while others did not- it was eating him up alive.
I read an article written by a commander who had charge of many troops in the various fields of war we are actively involved in. He spoke against our continued presence in Afghanistan. He was by no means a pacifist- he was a realist. He saw many of his men lose their lives- others their limbs. And he saw the political reality on the ground- that basically our continued presence in the field [Afghanistan] would not change the outcome if we are saying we will be pulling out in a few more months.
His view was the leaders and the Taliban will probably wind up making a deal anyway- so why waste another life? If we are just finishing up a political promise that we will stay until a certain date, and yet the last few months up until that date will change nothing- then why let the guys die for that?
All these types of conversations get lost in the American media- we have the left- who act just as ridiculous as the right- and it’s hard to really see what’s going on. These past few weeks our country [along with NATO] has stepped up ‘kinetic’ action in Libya. Libya began much like the other North African countries- protestors rose up and demanded change.
Libya is a big nation- yet 90 % of the population live right off of the coast. The eastern half of the nation are the primary Rebels [from Benghazi] and the west is ‘pro Kaddafi’ [Tripoli being the capital]. A few weeks ago I saw video of Tripoli [before the bombing] the merchant shops and the fresh goods from the fertile Mediterranean Sea made the streets of Tripoli look like some ancient city that was flourishing during the time of Christ.
While its hard to measure the actual numbers- there are many people who live in the western half of the nation who do not want the eastern rebels to win. Okay- we entered the picture because we said we were going to prevent a possible humanitarian disaster- fine. NATO approved action for purely humanitarian reasons- a no fly zone to protect civilians. What are we doing now? We have been bombing the hell out of beautiful Tripoli- chasing Gadhaffi wherever we can find him- bombing his son’s home- killing his son and his 3 grandkids. Gadhaffi’s wife has publicly said she wished she died with those kids- she’s putting pressure on her husband to ‘end this thing’ [she was the one who after Bush killed Saddam- she talked her husband into giving up the Nuke plans and making peace with Bush. The story was that she was deathly afraid that Bush would do to her children what he did with Saddam’s sons- kill them].
So the wife’s worst nightmare has happened- but instead of Bush being the aggressor- Its France, Britain and the good ole U.S. of A. What’s the problem? The problem is we started this action saying it’s purely a ‘no fly zone’ now we have the leader [being urged by his wife- hoping to save her sons and grandkids] making multiple offers for a cease fire- I think the man is serious.
We respond ‘the offer is not credible’ what are we saying? We have the man between a rock and a hard place- we keep saying ‘cease fire’ and when ever he does- the rebels press forward- we keep bombing and he says ‘how in the hell can I do a cease fire like that’ the man is right.
Look- if we leave these leaders- corrupt as they are- with the only option being ‘we are gonna blow you and your family up’ then we are not playing smart. Today we celebrate the lives of our men and women who laid their lives down in battle- many came home with broken bodies [and minds]. Many are taking their lives because of the reality of being in situations where they had to take other lives. These things are very serious things to live with- I just wish we as a country took these decisions more seriously.
If we are asking so much of our men and women- then let’s be honest and upfront about the cost. Sure its makes good political fare to say ‘I believe in a strong military’ or to say you are ‘for the wars’. But I will go with the commander who looked at the reality- and he said if we are letting our boy’s die- just to ride out some political promise of staying until a certain date- then that’s tragic. Yes- honor our boy’s today- and let’s do what we can to prevent the loss of any more.
 THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Okay, I think today will be the last day for doing End Time stuff [for now]. Over these last few days I have tied to just hit a few key verses- things that are popular in the media because of the failed Camping prediction.
As I looked over Matthew 24 again this morning- there might have been 2 more areas I wanted to cover- but let’s stick with the verse above [the other area was Jesus teaching about his own 2nd coming- he actually says don’t ‘fall’ for those who say ‘see- here is Jesus- in the SECRET chambers’. He actually warns against having a belief in a secret return- which is actually what the Rapture is. He then says ‘for as the lightning shines from one end of the sky to the other- so shall the 2nd coming be’. Some actually think this is saying its secretive- that just like you miss seeing the lighting- because it’s so fast- so you might not see the return. In context all these verses are saying the coming of Jesus will be open and in full view. When you read the other descriptions Jesus gives- ‘Like a thief in the Night’ if you continue to read in context- these verses are saying many will be surprised- like when a robber comes- they are not saying no one will see!]
Okay- in Matt. 24 Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place- flee to the mountains- leave the city- troubles on the way’. What does this mean? Jesus is quoting Daniel the prophet. In Daniel chapters 9-12 you read lots of detailed stuff- it’s easy to get lost in the many intricate interpretations some prophecy teachers get into here.
I just want to hit on the Abomination one. The term simply means ‘the wicked thing/person that will bring destruction’. Daniel was one of the Jews taken into captivity during the Babylonian captivity of Gods people. Daniel lived around 600 B.C. and you read in his book that when he was in exile he picked up the writings of the prophet Jeremiah and he figured out the years that God had foretold for the judgment on Israel [chapter 9].
As you look at all the verses about how many years so many things will take place in- one of the famous time verses is the 70 weeks prophecy. This prophecy is usually seen to be speaking about 70 weeks of years [490 years]. As you read and follow the years of the prophecy- it brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
The prophecy says there will be 490 years determined for the Jewish people- and from the decree to rebuild the temple to the appearing of Jesus there will be 69 weeks [of years]. Now- many scholars have traced the years from the decree that we find in the Old Testament to the time of Jesus and it amazingly brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
But the prophecy leaves the last ‘week of years’ out [some say]. If you measure the time right unto the Crucifixion of Jesus- then you have the last 7 years open. This is where many prophecy folk put the future 7 year tribulation. If you are familiar at all with these things- the popular version says in the last days the anti-christ will arise and make a covenant with Israel for 7 years- in the middle of the 7 years [3.5] he will ‘cause the sacrifice to cease’ and bring an end to temple worship and the sacrificial system. Wording like this is used in Daniel.
Now- in some of these verses in Daniel you are reading about Jesus- the prince- and in others your reading about the ‘bad’ prince- the ‘abomination that makes desolate’. Some have said if you trace the years  to the baptism of Jesus [instead of the Crucifixion] then you can view the ‘middle of the last week’ [3.5 years] as referring to the end of Jesus earthly ministry. If this is so- then ‘the prince who made the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week’ might be referring to the Cross of Christ.
The New Testament teaches [Hebrews] that the death of Christ was the final sacrifice for man- and his death caused the old sacrificial system to stop ‘the prince who causes the sacrifice to cease’ get it?
Either way- as you can see- there are various ways to view these time verses. Now- in 168 B.C. you had the wicked ruler- Antiochus Epiphanies- attack the Jewish temple and he set up a pagan altar and sacrificed a pig on the altar- this was the first fulfillment of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This began a process of the Hellenization of the Jewish people by Antiochus [Hellenization means imposing Greek culture and ways upon a foreign culture].
This event was avenged by a Jewish priest and his 5 sons [the most famous being Judas Maccabee]. The Catholic Apocryphal book of Maccabees records this event. This is known as the Maccabean Revolt and the Jewish people celebrate this event every Hanukah [I think it’s Hanukah- to be honest it’s been a long time since I read this- might want to double check].
So Jesus picks up on the Daniel prophecy- that was partially fulfilled in the 2nd century B.C. and he says there will be another ‘abomination that makes desolate’ and when you see him [or it?] ‘flee Jerusalem and run to the hills’. Now I mentioned the other day that many Jewish believers did run for the hills in A.D. 70- they took Jesus words as a warning and escaped the slaughter.
If Jesus were talking about the ‘end of the world’ why flee to the hills? I mean if I said ‘the world is ending- run from North Bergen to Fairview [my old hometown area]’ that wouldn’t make much sense. So it is possible that the ‘abomination that makes desolate’ was fulfilled in some way during the 1st century. How?
There are various views on this- let me just give you one. Now- to my Jewish friends I want to be careful here- but understand this is a theological issue that weighed heavily on the minds of the 1st century Jewish believers. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is considered to be the final sacrifice for all men. In the New Testament you have very strong language used for those who continued to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of Christ.
The book of Hebrews says those who do this are ‘trampling under their feet the Blood of Christ and are disrespecting his Blood’ strong words indeed [Hebrews]. Okay- in the 1st century you did not have the internet or media like we do today- so obviously God was not holding all the Jews responsible from day 1- that is it took some time before the word of the Cross would get out and those who believed would stop sacrificing animals. Basically God gave the Jewish nation a 40 year probationary period- a GENERATION [‘this generation’- remember?]
From the time of Jesus earthly ministry to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem [A.D. 70] you had just under a biblical generation- just like the prophecies said. What happened at the time of the destruction that might have been called ‘an abomination that makes desolate’? The Jewish nation continued to sacrifice animals right up until the end of the ‘40 year probationary period’ the time God gave them to fully embrace the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. This means it is possible that the abomination of desolation is speaking of the continued animal sacrifices that were ‘trampling under foot the Blood of Christ- and putting him to an open shame’.
In essence this act- continuing to sacrifice animals- was just as blasphemous as Antiochus sacrificing a pig on the altar- got it?
Okay- these past few days I floated lots of other ways to view the End Times teaching besides the most popular ways we hear about in the media [both ‘Christian’ and secular]. I’m not saying my view- or these various views are the only ‘right way’ but I am saying we need to be careful as believers when we hear/learn certain views- and then confuse those views with ‘well brother- this is what the bible says!’ Often times people mean ‘this is what I think the bible says’ and we need to be careful that we are distinguishing between the two.
 THE FIG TREE
Let’s do a little more on Eschatology [end times stuff] today. Over the last few weeks these things have been in the news because of the Harold Camping prediction and you have heard various news folk- as well as believers giving their slant to all the popular verses that deal with the subject.
Some media people were quoting ‘no one knows when the last day will happen- not even the Son, only God’. Then you have had a few other popular verses seep into the flow. The main portions of the bible that deal with the end times are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s gospel does not have an ‘end times’ discourse- possibly because he covers the subject in length in the book of Revelation.
The main gospel on the subject is Matthew- Mark’s gospel seems to be a shorter compilation possibly taken from Matthew. By ‘taken’ I mean Mark was a scribe/recorder- he was the personality we see in the book of Acts- John Mark. If you remember- he had a falling out with the Apostle Paul and Mark ‘went home’ while Paul took Silas and they embarked on the great missionary journeys of the Apostle.
You don’t hear that much about Mark after the ‘falling out’ but we know that Mark would later pen the 2nd gospel and he was also a recorder [secretary] for the Apostle Peter [might be important to remember this- if I get to it?]
So anyway mark seems to have borrowed from Matthew [some scholars think the familiarity between the gospels should be attributed to another unknown common source- referred to as Q- I prefer to simply see it as the writers being familiar with what the other writers were writing- and in the 1st century you did not have Plagiarism as we do today- where it would be illegal to copy something verbatim from another writer- that’s why Mark- who also probably penned 2nd Peter- not as a Plagiarist who used Pseudepigraphy- writings by authors who pretended to be someone else- but as a scribe who was familiar with the other source documents of the time. 2nd Peter has come under scrutiny because chapter 2 seems to have borrowed heavily from the letter of Jude. At some spots it looks like a direct copy. But as Peter’s scribe- it would not have been out of the ordinary to have included- verbatim- a passage from Jude and to have attributed the entire letter to Peter. Or Peter might have simply been familiar with Jude’s letter and it would not have been wrong according to 1st century writing standards to have done this. But skeptics in our day try to use this to say the bible is a forgery- so that’s why it’s important to be familiar with the debate and to have a good response.]
Okay-lets at least try and start a little end times stuff. Matthews 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples walking away from the Temple and Jesus says ‘see all these buildings- truly I tell you that there will not be left one stone on top of another’.
The disciples then ask Jesus ‘when will this happen- and what will be the sign of the end of the age/world, and the sign of your coming’. Now- this sets the stage for the entire scope of the answer. Jesus told them one thing ‘the temples coming down some day’ and they ask a few things.
Some scholars believe that the entire answer Jesus gives- about the end of the world and the coming tribulation- some teach that all these things did happen by A.D. 70- that’s when the Roman general Titus [future emperor] attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus prediction about ‘one stone not being left on another’ was fulfilled to the tee because the temple stones were overlaid with Gold and the looters burned the stones to melt the gold and in the process they literally laid every stone out.
In the Matthew discourse Jesus also warned the disciples that ‘when you see these things beginning to happen- let those in the city flee to the mountains’. As Titus made his way towards Jerusalem some early communities took his words literally and did use the mountains as a place for protection. The community at Qumran hid their writings in ‘the mountains’ that overlooked the Dead Sea- some 2 thousand years later these writings [scrolls] would be discovered- those are the Dead Sea Scrolls of today- one of the greatest archeological finds of history.
And there were Jewish believers at Jerusalem who did indeed flee to the mountains and they escaped the slaughter. So there certainly were things that Jesus spoke about in his ‘end times’ teaching that were fulfilled in the 1st century.
But what about the other famous portions? As various media persons were quoting a few famous parts of this discourse [this is the 4th famous discourse known as the Olivet discourse in Matthew- 5 famous long sections of Jesus’ teaching] it would help us to know the entire context of the discourse [which includes chapter 25 by the way].
One of the famous verses is ‘when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves- you know that summer is near- so when you see these signs you know the end is near’. In American evangelicalism this verse has been made popular by men like Hal Lindsay who teach that the fig tree is ALWAYS a symbol for the nation of Israel and therefore Jesus was saying that when Israel becomes a nation again [which happened in 1948] that within ‘a generation’ the end will happen.
This view uses a few other verses to come to this conclusion. Jesus famous ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things happen’ and a few other scriptures. Simply reading the chapter in context does not seem to be saying this at all. The parallel passage in Luke says ‘and all the trees’. It seems like Jesus is simply saying ‘just like when you see a tree blossom- so when you see these signs know that the time is near’.
There really is nothing in the actual text to indicate that this is speaking about 1948. But because of these verses having been used like this many preachers have tried to date the coming of Christ within ‘the generation’ from1948. Lindsey put out a book saying that 1988 was a ‘special time’ why 88? 1988 was 40 years [biblical generation] from 1948. Then some changed the biblical generation to 70 years- which makes this decade real important.
The problem with all these dates is there based on a faulty premise- that Jesus was saying that within a generation of the ‘fig tree blooming’ the 2nd coming will take place- he never said that. As far as I can tell 1948 plays no significant role. Of course Israel becoming a nation again at that time was a great thing- but as a date to begin setting off some type of spiritual clock- that’s not in the bible.
Okay- maybe I’ll do a few more of these over the next few days. Try and read these chapters the next few days and get a feel for the overall meaning [the context] when we become familiar with the overall meaning of the passage- it keeps us from getting lost in the Fig Tree ones.
 HAROLD CAMPING
As you well know- today will be our last day together. Yes- at 6:oo tonight the world is supposed to end. I first stumbled across the article a few weeks ago. The famous preacher from the east- Harold Camping- has once again predicted the return of Christ [or the Rapture].
Camping has gone down this road before- and I have a friend who actually follows Camping and I have tried to be nice about it- but of course most Christians believe Camping is part of a long line of well meaning men- who can’t resist the temptation to date set.
Now- I of course do not fall for stuff like this- I am not that gullible for heaven’s sake, some kind of conspiracy nut. Plus- if the world ends today- then how will we ever catch Bin Laden [of course you heard- he’s still alive?] hiding in Pakistan- with the fake birth certificate duplicator machine- you know- the one he used to fake Obama’s long form!
So yes- we as believers do have a history of doing silly things at times- and for some reason these things take on a life of their own. Many years ago I had a friend [Emit- for those of you who have read my posts these past few weeks- you now know who he is] he was/is sort of a spiritual son- you know- one of the sons of the guys hooked on drugs who eventually became a member of our little church movement.
So one day Emit tells me about the movie Jesus of Nazareth. It came out years ago and they did a good job at depicting the life of Christ. He says ‘did you see the actor who played Jesus? Wow- he was mysterious/spooky’ he watched it with his family and they felt touched by the actor who played Christ.
So I of course opined ‘You know brother- after the movie was made- when you look at the credits at the end- no name shows up for the actor. Then when the other actors and the director questioned each other- no one knows who the actor is!’
Now- of course I was kidding- and I made sure I told Emit ‘brother- just kidding’. But you know how these urban myths go- once you start them- there hard to stop!
So a few years later [maybe 5?] I was talking to his mother in law [Yolanda- another church member who was a woman preacher who did preach and had influence with other Christians- she was Emit’s mother in law]. And somehow she says ‘hey brother John- did you know that no one knows who the actor was in that Jesus movie’. I asked her ‘Yolanda- who told you that?’ she says ‘Emit’.
Now- after all those years the story got out- I mean I wish the truth could spread like this. For all I know there might be an entire group of people in Texas- you know- the ‘anonymous Jesus movie actor believers’ who all believe this story. Heck I always wanted to head up a movement.
But things like this do have a tendency to get around. So anyway that’s how the ‘end of the world is today’ thing has caught on. Now- will the world end today? Doubt it. Will ‘the world’ make fun of us? Sure. Will Christians continue to do things like this? Probably. How can we avoid doing things like this?
The safe way to go- in my view- is to stay connected to the historic church as much as possible. The Christian church has a good- long tradition of Christian truth. For the most part- the stability you find in the Christian classics- the church fathers- Patristics- this tradition is a good one.
Harold Camping is a good man- but he is a retired civil engineer- I’m sure he means well- but try and get your info from men who have been educated- yes thru the more traditional forms of education. Yes- I know ‘who are you to talk- you’re a retired fire fighter!’ But I try to offset that with many years of study- not just bible study- but studying the things I just mentioned. Taking the attitude that I can learn from those who have been at this longer than me. Camping believes ‘all the churches’ are now in deception- yes- he has another weird teaching that says the ‘church age’ has ended and there are no longer any true churches in the world today.
I hope most of you will not fall for stuff like this- we have bigger fish to fry- heck- I need to go out today and start the ‘anonymous Jesus actor followers’ are you in?
 A WAKE UP CALL TO THE PROFESSOR-
There are a lot of things I want to hit on today- let me start with an article I read in the paper yesterday. It was a study that compared students who studied physics using 2 different methods. The traditional lecture room environment- taught by veteran teachers. Versus an interactive classroom environment taught by inexperienced students [no teacher] who simply shared the things they were learning with each other.
To the shock of the traditional advocates- the kids who were taught without a teacher scored twice as high on the tests as those who sat in the classroom. The study was headed up by a top rated scientist who works for the president.
This reminded me of all the teaching I did over the years on the nature of the church [the study on the blog is called ‘what in the world is the church’]. After years of studying and doing many of the ‘interactive’ principles found in the study- I do see how important it is for believers to interact with each other- not just during ‘fellowship’ times- but as a main part of worship.
It is no accident that the churches in the New Testament were structured along these lines. In the bible you simply did not have churches structured around a single figure who ‘lectured’ week after week to the people. Now- this debate has been raging for a while amongst those who debate stuff like this. And a few years back some scholars from the more traditional view really went after the more ‘organic’ type church brothers.
But overall I believe the interactive ‘church meeting’ is really the most biblical way to go. I still think there is room for the more traditional style of ‘lecture hall’ but that is a small part of being in Christian community- yet for many that seems to actually be what they refer to as ‘the local church’ very limited perspective indeed [you can also read my short book on the left of the blog site- Further Talks on Church and Ministry].
Okay- maybe I’ll hit a few more thoughts in keeping with this idea. After the fellowship lunch the other day I invited Henry [my homeless friend] back to the house for the day. These guys are on the streets most of the day and they appreciate being able to rest and catch some news on the tube.
Once again as Henry left he told me ‘John- this was one of the best days I have had in a long time’. He told me this the last time I had him over. Why? What I do with Henry is I try not to act the ‘preacher/pastor’ role. That is I share and interact with Henry as an equal. Henry just so happens to be real knowledgeable when it comes to the bible and theology.
Part of the discussion was Henry sharing how the letter to the Romans [written by the apostle Paul] was the only letter written to a church that Paul did not found himself. Now- I knew this before- and most bible students know this- but yet it started a conversation that both of us could engage in. Henry had read somewhere that the church at Rome might have been started by the Diaspora [the scattered] Jews/Christians who dispersed after the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter 7.
I told Henry that I actually taught on this before- but I referenced the dispersion that took place in Acts chapter 2. At the day of Pentecost there were Jewish worshippers who came from all parts of the known world at the time- they were gathered at Jerusalem for the big holiday.
After the Spirit came on the early church- these believers went back to their homes and some of them did indeed go back to Rome.
Either way- the point is that Paul did not start the church at Rome- and there are no records [in the bible] of who was the first founder [yes Peter also went to Rome- but he too was not the initial ‘church planter’].
Okay- why even mention this? I think Henry has these ‘best days of my life’ days because the fellowships we have are based on the organic church style- that is I’m not always ‘preaching’ to him in the conventional sense.
I hope to get with the guys again this week- same place [Sirloin Stockade off of SPID in Corpus] I will let everyone know a day ahead- so if you guys want to make it a weekly thing you can join the group. But I have been meeting with these friends for 20 years now- just sharing the interactive way.
The above study was said to have been a real wake up call to the actual veteran lecturers- they couldn’t believe that the students on their own- without the ‘pro’ lecturing them- would do twice as well as the students who sat ‘in church’ [the lecture room] simply listening to the able speaker- speak.
The apostle Paul knew this trick 2 millennia ago- he wrote the church at Corinth ‘and when you meet together- let everyone of you share what you have learned- do it in order- but let everyone speak’ I like Paul’s method a lot.
 OPEN THE BOOK AND BREAK THE SEALS
We had a good fellowship the other day- I and 2 homeless bro’s got with 2 Kingsville originals and we all ate at the Sirloin Stockade. I want to try and meet once a week for lunch in Corpus- everybody is welcome by the way. I’ll try and mention it on the sites [Blog, Facebook] a day ahead of time, and you are all invited.
I will only cover the cost of the homeless guys though- everyone else it’s Dutch. Okay- this week I have been reading revelation chapter 5. We see this image of John the apostle standing in the throne room of God and God has this book in his hand. John is upset because no one is able to open the book and loose the seals. As John is upset, one of the elders comes up to him and tells him not to worry- Jesus- the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he has prevailed to open the book and to break the seals.
The vision is you have these elders and beasts and John and a multitude of angels and people from all nations- it’s a great gathering of saints of the most high- a true picture of the people of God.
I applied the vision to our little fellowship- made up of people from all over- different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. And John the apostle is struggling with this mandate to get the message out. Remember- the book of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John ‘write these letters to the 7 churches’ so John has this task to communicate this message from God. Yet he runs up against the classic roadblock ‘Who is worthy’ in so many words ‘why did you pick me for the job- I’m not able to do it’. You hear the words of Isaiah here- Isaiah said ‘I am a man of unclean lips- in the middle of a bunch of unclean people!’ Geez Isaiah- you’re not only too hard on yourself, but everyone else!
In the Isaiah vision God takes a coal and uses it to cleanse the lips of the prophet. So John is distraught over the fact that this book is sealed- and no matter how hard he tries- he cant open the thing. Jesus steps up to the plate and takes it and opens it. The whole community rejoices- they sing this song- a new song ‘Worthy is the lamb to open the book and to loose the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy Blood out of every kindred and tribe and tongue and nation- and hast made us priests and kings unto God our father’. Yes, I put this verse to memory this week and sang it all thru out the week.
Sure- my wife said ‘who are you talking to’. I just blew it off- I have been talking to myself for years. So I’m identifying somewhat with John- also struggling to ‘open the book and loose the seals’. These last few weeks I dropped our radio program and was in a mad rush to get the shows on line [there on now]. But I dropped on a Friday and wanted to have them up by that Sunday.
So as I’m praying/singing the ‘new song’- kind of an intercessory thing- believing God to help us get the word out. Sure enough I sing the thing and the bell rings. That was my buddy Emit [last post] and from that surprise visit a few doors opened to get together more often with the brothers.
Of course I’m just applying these things- obviously revelation is not about eating at the big cow! But God does use stuff like this to speak to us- the principle of Jesus alone being the one who is worthy to ‘open the book’ well that’s a truism that will always be there.
Down the road I hope to teach a little more on the book of Revelation. It’s really not as hard as it might look. Basically you have the command of Jesus to John to write the 7 letters. John sees Jesus as the one who will assist him in getting the message out. The book had 7 seals. The opening of the last seal releases 7 trumpets. And the last trumpet leads to 7 bowls [vials]. Then you have the last few chapters that speak about the wrapping up of the kingdom and the resurrection and the final judgment. You end with a new heaven and a new earth and whoever wants ‘let him come and drink of the water of life’. That’s really it- sure you do have a lot of numbers and images and stuff- but overall this is the basic outline of the book.
In the book of Daniel he sees a lot of the same things that John sees in the book of Revelation- but Daniel is told to seal up the vision- for the time was not ready. John is told to ‘un seal’ it- the time is at hand. For many of the new friends that came in this last year- the time was ready for you guys to ‘read the book’ so to speak. Just remember the key- only Jesus has the ability to show you what’s in the book- to make it clear. Read and pray and ask God to help you understand- he alone can do it.
 A SURPRISE VISIT
I had a surprise visit last night- one of my original ‘church members’ stopped by to see me. Emit was the 2nd generation family, a son of one of the guys who was hooked on Heroin in the early days. Emit’s dad [Emit senior] was also part of the first group of members.
I would hold bible studies for the guys in the county jail- some were waiting for their court dates- they would do lots of time in Texas’ famous prison system- others were just doing time for minor offenses- things related to their drug addictions.
So anyway Emit Jr. was in that first group. I would pick up his dad for our church meetings [first held at an old abandoned hospital- later moved to my garage]. We had around 30 or so people who made up our little group. Mostly families of the guys I met thru the jail meetings. But every so often we had someone hear about us and they would join our group.
I remember Roy and Kathy- they were in this group of ‘normal people’. Roy was a liberal news reporter for the local paper- and Kathy was a bible college graduate. I don’t know how they found us- but they liked the bible studies I would do and they became good friends. The same with Hubert and his wife Katy.
Hubert actually taught at a regional bible school [Pan Am school/church] sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. It was their Latin American outreach school- located in Kingsville. So we had some up-standing folk as well. As I was fellowshipping with Emit we had some good laughs. I told him now that I’m posting the radio shows on the blog that in the future I’m going to post some of the old recordings from the early days. You can hear Emits dad on these tapes.
It was funny- the guys acted like we were just hanging out at my house- even during the church meetings! Emit [Sr.] had a habit of raiding my fridge right before the meetings would start- I mean I couldn’t keep Pecan Pies away from the brother. I eventually hid the good stuff before Emit got there. Hey I loved the bro. but the Pecan Pies were not part of the deal!
Emit told me he still has a few of these tapes and he hears his dads voice on some of them- His dad has been dead for many years now. He was clean at the time- but he ruined his liver with the Heroin and it finally caught up with him. His dad met his wife- Janie- at our little church. Janie was a single mom who had a bunch of boys- I worked with her sons and she would attend the church- Emit met Janie and sure enough they got married. They were a nice couple.
So last night Emit calls some of the other original group [geez- he had all their numbers in his phone]. So in a few hours I will be taking Emit, David [Buentello] and Henry [one of the homeless guys] to lunch in Corpus. David and Emit both work in Corpus now- they still live in Kingsville.
David too was a ‘founding member’ I met his dad while preaching at the jail- Leonard was a long time addict. Once again I met the sons thru my friendship with the dad. David has a bunch of brothers and I met Leonard [Jr.] and Ben and a few others. David spent lots of year strung out on drugs. I must have written Dave a few hundred times over the years when he was in prison- I saw this as a ministry- keeping in touch with the brothers as they did time- lots of time- in prison. David got his degree [he started while in prison and finished after he got out. It’s a program that helps the guys get a degree with aid from the state. Texas just ended the program this year; they said ‘why should we be paying for ex con’s education for free’. As someone who has seen the good results- it really was worth it].
David has been clean for many years and he is a professional counselor working in Corpus Christi. One time I asked David to pick up the guys for our meetings the next day. Many times I was working the night before at the fire house and it helped if someone could pick the people up in the morning- it gave me a little more time to prepare for the meeting. So I gave Dave the Suburban and he had it for the night. I knew it was a risk- not that he would steal the darn thing- but be tempted to score drugs and all.
Sure enough Dave came by the fire station early in the morning- he was fessing up- telling me he blew it and he was gonna leave the truck. I told him just because he had a bad night- I still needed him to finish the task and pull through. He did- he picked everyone up and attended the service.
Lots of times the guys in these situations have never had any home structure- I mean their parents love them and all- but when the dad struggles with addiction- they’re not there to support the sons. So this was training in a way for Dave.
So hopefully they will all find the restaurant [it’s right off the main drag- but I’m not sure they know the spot I was telling them]. It was funny- as Emit was leaving I walked him out to the car. He was wearing these coveralls from the auto dealer that he works for- he has this lawnmower sticking halfway out of the trunk [he was cutting yards for money after work]. And I asked him about his new girlfriend and all [Emit was married years ago to another person whose family were church members of our group. His wife, Veronica, had a few boys and one girl with Emit. They eventually divorced. One time at work we had a call for a stabbing- the person who was stabbed- Junior Perez- was another family member who I met from the jails. Junior’s younger brother- Tony- was a faithful church member. His older brother- Daniel- was the one I met thru the jail. Junior was dating Veronica at the time- it was an abusive relationship- she stabbed Junior while he was trying to get into her house. She lived there with her mom- Yolanda- yes another one of our church members. She killed Junior that night- no charges against her- but she would eventfully move out of town]
So as Emits leaving I ask him about his latest girl- he says she a nice person- but its one of those situations where the family doesn’t know she’s dating him [I don’t know why- just some family thing]. Then I asked him what happened with his other girl friend- the one he dated for years ‘Oh her, they took her away from me’ [now- I know what Emit meant- her family didn’t get along with Emit and they eventually convinced her to leave Emit]. Now, even though I knew what Emit meant- I was like ‘Hey bro. you show up with these work coveralls- the type you usually see on these serial killer types- you know the video of some guy kidnapping someone at the local store- and you have this ‘after hours lawnmower job’ [classic cover up for stuffing things in the trunk] and you tell me the current girl friend’s family- well they don’t know about your ‘relationship’ and the last one- well ‘they took her away’ [I mean who is they- the cops! LOL]. I said if I didn’t know any better it looks like you might have spent the last 10 years as a serial killer’!
He got a kick out of that. Okay enough for now- maybe I’ll let you know how the fellowship went tomorrow. Emit told me his youngest boy- Justin- is a full blow Heroin addict in Robstown. Geez- I just took a ride thru there the other week- felt like God wanted me to simply do a prayer drive. And now we are going to visit Justin in a few days- maybe it was a sign. Okay- please pray for my buddies and their families.
I’m glad they’re still hanging in there- but I need to try and get with them more often- hopefully today we can schedule a few more fellowship meetings- it’s been too long.
[NOTE- Dave- if you read this- just leave a quick comment on Facebook- so my friends from Jersey can see who you are- I have lots of old friends on the site- thanks]
P.S.- As Emit was giving me all the updated phone numbers of the brothers- I was writing them down in my address book/organizer- geez- as I turned to the ‘E’ page and the ‘D’ page and all- I still had the original names and numbers of their dads and all. One entry said ‘Emit/Janie’ it brought back lots of memories.
 TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON-
Yesterday was the end of an era for me- after 23 years of doing broadcast radio- I thru in the towel. I have been on radio right from the early days of ministry. I started recording my messages even earlier. In those days everything was done on cassette tape. I watched the times change over the years as I would go to the local [regional] radio station to ‘drop off tapes’- geez- thousands of times.
I would notice how most of the other ministries were converting to C.D. [also now a dinosaur] and I was still using cassettes. I would often say to myself ‘John- don’t let the devil make you feel bad- you’re not behind the times’ and I would pop in my Styx 8 track on the ride back home [okay- fudged a little on this].
Anyway I had a system going where I would record the tapes and make high speed copies- the copies would get dropped off- the originals [masters] would not. This was just in case the station lost the program- or a tape broke- you would still have the original. Well as the times changed you couldn’t even purchase [have serviced] these old tape duplicators. As an independent preacher- someone who takes no offerings or receives any financial support [because of principle- way too much money involved in today’s church] I took the risk of just dropping off the originals- and every so often they would ‘get lost’ [I think one of the employees might have enjoyed taking them home to listen to- which was alright with me- it’s just I needed them back].
So over these past few years I did my best to try and solve the problem- it never worked. The station manager- a good friend- told me he would copy the tapes to C.D.’s if I wanted- I said yeah! He never got around to doing it. He then told me he would save the programs in digital format [they put them on computer] and I would be able to copy them that way.
So the other day I finally had him make a copy to my flash drive- at least I would have them that way. I realized they weren’t even playing the right tapes [using the older- out of order stuff]. Then when I got home I realized they did indeed ‘lose’ another tape- part of a series that if you lose one [like a bible study] it ruins the whole set.
So I went and picked up the last batch of tapes and told them that I was sorry- but I had to finally cancel the show. They gave me a break on cost- but I literally spent thousands of dollars over the years doing these broadcasts- it was time to move on.
So hopefully I will soon have a link on the blog where you will be able to hear the programs [simply on line]. I found out it’s a real pain to convert the tapes to Mp3 format- then to get them on the blog. I spent the whole day yesterday messing with it- I ordered the convertor you need to do it. Then I had to start a Host site- the blog does not have space for this- and now I think I will have to get another computer- I do all my work from a laptop- I think the cord for the converter will only work on a desk top.
As someone who is computer illiterate- for the most part- it’s frustrating to have to deal with it. Geez- just getting the Host site up took me forever. So being I was already feeling bad about going off the air- it was something I loved to do- I figured I would just get a quick News fix- in the background- as I’m trying to figure all this out on my laptop. Of course all the channels were showing the Royal Wedding- enough said.
I hate it when the news fixates on a story- or presents something silly- and they do it all day long. One time at the fire house- I was sitting there with a good buddy- we had the news on [the guys used to get mad- for real- I had the news on all the time] and sure enough the actor Lloyd Bridges died. So as I’m sitting there glancing at the screen- I tell my buddy ‘Gee Joe- you think they could show a more ridiculous photo of the poor man’- I mean they had a picture of him from one of the spoof Airplane movies- he had a towel sticking out of both ears- with a goofy face- making it look like the towel went thru his head- ear to ear.
Joe started cracking up. I mean the poor man’s grandkids were probably saying ‘why does grandpa have a towel in his head mommy’. I mean the man had a long career- lots of serious movies- no, CNN liked the towel picture.
So for today I think I will work on the on line format some more- I do have some programs already on computer disk- trying to convert them to the host site and add the link to the blog. So for those of you who are interested you should be able to hear us on line soon- no more radio. Talk to you guys later- John
 YOU SPENT 8 DAYS LOST AT SEA!
There’s a funny commercial running right now on the tube- you have this applicant walk in to a bank and the manager asks him some questions as he applies for a job. The boss says ‘so tell me about yourself a little’ and he begins by telling him his likes and all. One of the things he says is ‘O, I love my banks raise your rate C.D.’. The boss looks dumbfounded- he says ‘did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?’ and the applicant tries to clarify- the boss says ‘did you say you wanted a raise ASAP?’ Again- the applicant tries to make himself clear. The boss says ‘did you say you love watching your neighbors watch T.V.?’ At this point the applicant realizes no matter what he says- the boss is ‘unable’ to hear the truth.
I think it was T.S. Elliot who said ‘you can’t convince a person to accept something- especially when their job depends on them not accepting it’. Recently I have mentioned the word Ecclesiology- it’s a ten dollar word that simply means ‘the doctrine of the church’- not what the church teaches- but the actual study of what church means. In the New Testament we see the church as meaning a community of people- a movement of followers if you will.
As a young kid who just started learning the bible I of course wanted to learn all I could. I joined a good Baptist church [independent] and I learned the hard and fast view of the local independent church. It was often taught that the actual church building is ‘the local church’. At first I simply accepted this- but it wasn’t too long before I had some serious doubts. At this time in history there are many, many ‘former’ pastors [and some present] who have honestly re-thought the entire system of what is commonly called ‘the local church’.
Today there are entire movements- schools- ‘church groups’ who have moved more closely to the biblical idea of ‘the church’. One of the big obstacles to ‘moving closer’ is the reality that many fine men [pastors] do depend on their jobs as ‘the pastor’ and this does create difficulty in rethinking the entire idea of church.
For instance- the New Testament teaches us that the church- at heart- is a voluntary community of people. Now, these people have elders, pastors, teachers, etc. who are part of the community. But in the New Testament these positions are not hired professionals who are ‘hired’ by ‘the church’ and put on a salary. Yet at the same time the bible does teach us to support those who labor among us in the gospel. Jesus says the laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul says no man goes to war at his own expense. These are all talking about supporting the Christian leaders among us [Priests, Pastors, etc.]
We also have Jesus teaching us that ‘freely we have received- freely give’ in context he was speaking about the spiritual gifts that God gives to us- they are not things to be sold- or charged for. So we see a balance in the bible- one side might ‘just see’ the parts they like- and so on [did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?]
Overall God gives us leaders and teachers and pastors to help us grow and mature as believers. But many modern churches function more along the lines of ‘these people/members are here to give so much money- I carry out certain job requirements for them [weddings, funerals, etc.] and they come to hear me speak every week’. This is a very limited way to view church- it often works against the intended purpose of leadership- which is to eventually work yourself out of a job- that is the people become independent of you and they now lead others.
Overall these last 20 years many believers have seen these things in a greater way- there are lots of books and teachers who are now looking at the entire doctrine of ‘the church’ as seen in the bible- and the limited view [the building we meet at- the church as a lecture hall] is really falling away at a rapid rate.
It’s fine to ‘go to church on Sunday’ and to contribute money to the good work the churches do- it’s just we all want to learn along the way- and we don’t want to be like the bank manager who keeps hearing only what he wants to hear.
 JESUS CHRIST- SUPERSTAR?
The other night I caught the classic movie/musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber- Jesus Christ Superstar. I remember seeing it as a kid [it came out in 73] and I remember that there was some controversy over it. The intro on the Classic channel also talked about the controversy. Whenever a movie comes out depicting the life of Jesus [The Last Temptation of Christ] there usually is some type of protest about it.
As I watched Superstar I saw a few scenes that Christians might see as problematic- but overall I liked it. The things that Christians usually protest are the scenes that show Jesus as a man- tempted the same way all men are tempted- by women! That is- some of the movies depict Jesus as getting too close to Mary Magdalene and even having slept with her.
Now- believers most definitely reject the sleeping part- that did not happen. But was it possible for Jesus [and Mary] to have ever been tempted to be in love? I think so- the bible clearly says that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us- yet he never sinned [Hebrews, 1st John]. So what’s the big deal if one of the temptations- which he never gave in to- was falling in love with Mary?
The point being- we seem to feel uncomfortable with the biblical doctrine of Jesus being tempted at all- we prefer to overlook the verses that show Jesus was in a great struggle. In Psalms 22- the writer prophesies of Jesus- he says ‘deliver my soul from the mouth of the lion- I call to you from the horns of the unicorns’ it shows a sense of desperation- a sense of Jesus in the garden praying- sweating great drops of blood ‘if it’s possible God- let this thing go away!’
I went to church Easter morning- I on and off attend a mega church here in the city- it’s the 15th fastest growing church in the country [they like to let people know the numbers/statistics a lot] and they average around 7 thousand attendees every weekend. I like the church- it’s a good church. Now, it just so happened that they did mention statistics this day- I felt like they wanted to show the people what they were doing with the money- kind of justify giving to the church- all okay things. As someone who has been around the block- experienced and studied church doctrine [called Ecclesiology- the word Ecclesia is the Greek word for church in our bibles] I have seen how easy it is to view church from the standpoint of getting the right amount of people to ‘join’ so you could have the right amount of money to carry out the church’s mission. Often times the well meaning pastors are influenced by the peer pressure to meet certain criteria and they unwittingly descend into a numbers game ‘gee- if I can just get so many more- who ‘join’ [which means they give 10 % of their money to the church] then I could accomplish so much’.
In the New Testament days you had what was called ‘Oral Tradition’ that is many of the early churches spread the message of Jesus by word of mouth. After a period of time [around 15-30 years- depending on whose numbers you use] these Oral Traditions were put down in writing [the gospels]. You also read how the apostle Paul sent letters to the churches he was working with- and he would say ‘have this letter read among you’. Why not say ‘pass it around and let everyone read it’? There were many early believers who were illiterate- so you had a designated ‘reader-lecturer’ handle the job.
The point being- when you had an increase of people who wanted to hear the message [from Paul or anyone else] you did not have the messenger go out and build huge buildings so everyone in the town could cram in on Sunday and hear Paul [or Jesus]. Instead you had a natural growth take place as people spread the message- that’s how the church grew.
As someone who has written and said much about this over the years [read my section ‘What in the world is the church’] I don’t want to get into the whole thing today- just wanted to say we in the west like seeing Jesus as a famous person- a ‘superstar’ if you will- we like putting him on a stage and seeing him perform. We like it so much we try and emulate this very aspect of what we see as ‘ministry’. Jesus was a real man [and really God] who was tested like all men- he never sinned- but the tests were real. Today we see him seated at the right hand of the father- in his glory- but first came the tests.
Jesus told his men ‘you are the ones who stuck with me all thru the trials- you endured. Therefore I give to you a kingdom- just like I went thru trials and my father has given me a kingdom’. Yes- Jesus has acquired superstar status in the Western world- the American churches seem to focus on that aspect much- yet the psalmist- speaking for Jesus- said ‘save me my darling from the mouth of the lion- the bulls are all around me- my skin sticks to my bones- I am in torment and my soul is at the point of death- help me’ we seem to forget this aspect of the superstar.
 HE QUOTES SHAKESPEAR!
A few years ago my city appointed a new police chief- he was a local guy who rose through the ranks and made it to the top. Lots of times the city hires out of towners who apply- but this time they went with a local. At the time the news was ‘He quotes Shakespeare’ I mean over and over again. Our local news is funny- all 3 major networks do a local news format 3 times a day- each. They run a show at 5 p.m. – 6 and 10. They run the exact same show [each channel does their own show- but the repeats are exactly the same]. So for some reason the big story at the time was the police chief quotes Shakespeare. I mean I heard the story- 3 times a day [actually 9] all day. Read it in the paper- saw the news ads about the ‘news at 10’ the thing was everywhere- I was tempted to write a letter to the editor of the paper- the headline being ‘NO MORE SHAKESPEAR- PLEASE!!’ Anyway the chief eventually became embroiled in a few scandals and he quit/was fired.
The reason the Shakespeare thing was popular was because in our day we have a tendency to neglect the ‘more refined’ things in life. I know there’s always a danger of doing stuff just so others can think your more refined- Jesus did warn against it [don’t pray, fast and do charity just to make a show of it] yet at the same time we do want to be wise- to become informed about stuff. A while back I took my computer to a friend who offered to help me with the web site- I was/am a total amateur at web stuff- I know I write a lot- but I didn’t even have an email account until the last 5 years or so. Anyway as an amateur I try and seek wisdom from others who have been at this longer than me. So my buddy indicated he was a computer whiz and he offered to show me how the system works [it was when I first set up the blog]. As I was explaining to him that all I’m trying to do is have a site where people can click a link and read the books/studies separately [at the time everything was just one long scroll] he mistook what I was asking- he thought I wanted to do a PDF type file so people could download the materials. As he told me that this is what I wanted [which I really didn’t want] I tried to humbly say ‘I’m sorry, I must not be too clear- what I really mean to ask is this’ and I tried to say I don’t need what he’s telling me. He got silent- he stared at the screen and said ‘this is what you mean’- he was mad. Now- I didn’t want to get my friend mad- he was doing this for free- as a favor- but I began to realize he really was not much wiser than me on some of this stuff. At one point- being perturbed- he explained to me that the blog/web site only exists on my lap-top. That there is no ‘viral realm’ where the site exists. He was trying to say if I dumped the laptop in the bay- that the web site would be no more. Now- even as an amateur I realized my friend was not as wise as he made himself out to be- obviously a web site continues to exist- even if your laptop takes a drink in the bay.
Sometimes we simply need to check the source- a person might mean well- but not be capable of the task at hand. Fine- they meant well- but they didn’t have the capability to do the job. When the local news were enamored with the new top cop- they mistook ‘quoting Shakespeare’ with the ability to do the job. It’s good to be refined- to learn the classics- to have a grasp on world events- to be well rounded in your education- but at the end of the day if you can’t do the job- all the Shakespeare quoting in the world doesn’t help.
 DONT DEAL ARROGANTLY WITH THE PEOPLE- DON’T TAKE BRIBES! Okay, before we do news- lets cover Exodus 18. Remember- the reason I’m doing this series [Exodus- insights from a Revolution] is because of the obvious present situation  in North Africa and the Arab/Persian world. While I am not sure how all these ‘Revolutions’ will turn out, the fact is they are happening. So doing this series is for the purpose of appealing to those who are ‘revolting’ for truly democratic purposes [as opposed to those with other goals] and to say ‘look- if you want change- than this is the right/noble way to go about it’. Okay- in this chapter Moses is confronted by his father in-law, he says to Moses ‘why are you wearing yourself out like this? Delegate some authority to those under you and let them share the load’. Moses was ‘judging’ the people all day- he was personally hearing all the disputes- from morning till night- and it was too much. So Moses takes his father in laws advice and appoints Elders- leaders who will take care of the smaller decisions- but the ‘big’ ones will come before him. I heard president Obama say the other day ‘when a problem gets to me- it by nature is a difficult one’ he was saying all the easy ones get solved down the line- they never make it to him. Moses father in law praises God for the way he delivered the people from EGYPT and he says ‘God did a just thing in overthrowing Pharaoh- because he dealt arrogantly with the people’ in many of the present protests you hear this as a common theme among the youth- they are not calling for Islamic Jihad [generally] they are mad that they have been treated with disrespect- they want to be treated like humans. The father in-law also says ‘when you appoint new leaders- make sure there men who won’t take bribes’ another cause for dissent among the protestors- corruption in leadership.
Okay- a few current events that might be relevant. One of the major problems the U.S. govt. is going to have [or let’s say get worse] is the reality that all the years and lives and money spent on our wars- in the end it looks like the leaders we backed [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are doing no better than the leaders in all the other countries who have protestors. To be honest- the regime of Hamid Karzai [Afghanistan] is one of the most corrupt out of them all. So how do we justify fighting ‘on one side’ while they are as corrupt as all these other leaders who are falling like bowling pins? Like I said before- it might be time for us to seriously look at a real exit strategy. I have been following the story of Raymond Davis, the U.S. spy who shot 2 Pakistanis a few weeks ago. The U.S. media kept reporting the official govt. line- that he was an innocent diplomat who was being robbed in Pakistan- and he shot these thieves out of self defense. Yet the Pakistanis would not release him. They actually were being more diplomatic by saying ‘well- he did kill 2 people- we can’t just release him’ after weeks of the Obama administration calling for his ‘immediate release’ and stating how this is such a human rights abuse- finally some of our C.I.A. guys leaked the true story. That yes- he was spying for us- illegally- and he shot 2 Pakistani intelligence people who were legitimately following him. Why did our C.I.A guys have to leak the truth? Because the Obama administration was actually allowing the false story to go very public- they made it sound like the Pakistanis were committing an atrocity- and the truth is all countries practice ‘spying’ and when they get caught- part of the game is- well you got caught. The U.S. govt. is still holding spies we caught years ago. But yet instead of the U.S. govt. accepting the card they were dealt [caught- do your best behind the scenes to work it out] they were allowing the media to report it as some type of hostage thing ‘they have our innocent U.S. diplomat- look at this atrocity’ geez- are our guys real armatures or what? So the C.I.A. insiders looked at what Obama was doing and took a great risk to tell the truth. Now- why was this leak a risk? Understand- no other president- in the history of all past presidents- has gone after leakers like president Obama. He has pursued/prosecuted more leakers than any other U.S. president in history- in the first 2 years of being in office! Yes- more in 2 years than Bush in 8- that’s a fact. One ‘leaker’ who was caught- was expecting to get in trouble [like lose his job] and found out that Obama prosecuted him for a very long prison term- he was a very able man- educated and serving the country- the leak [like most leaks] was something he thought needed to be done [like the C.I.A. thing I just mentioned] after he realized the administration wanted to destroy him- he pleaded for mercy. Our govt. ruined the man- broke up his family- kids, wife- the whole 9 yards- and told every other potential leaker ‘you mess with me- we will absolutely destroy you and your family’ now- you don’t see this image in public- but in private that’s the way this administration decided to go [all these stories have been reported in the media- they usually don’t trickle down to the public at large]. So now you see why I say the above C.I.A guys took a real risk in leaking. The point? When govts. are caught spying- or breaking other countries laws- we should do our best to mitigate the thing- but to actually allow it to get so out of hand as to create a permanent rift among these nations- that’s just amateurish. So we all need to be aware that the U.S. – as well as the countries we are fighting for/against- all have legitimate times when they are wronged- or are doing what’s wrong. We can’t always view things thru a prism that says ‘we were right’ often times we are not. And when picking leaders- they need to be people who are above ‘bribes’ [corruption] men who truly are just- who care for people. When leaders cheat- steal- mislead- abuse people- in the end they have ‘dealt arrogantly with the people- and God will remove them’.
 WATER FROM THE ROCK [plus comments on the present atrocities in Libya] – Before I get into the chapter [Exodus 17] let me overview the latest world events. First- I do not think the majority of Americans realize the ‘bigness’ of what’s going on right now in the Arab/Persian world- the events of the last few weeks are major world changing events that will play a major role in every aspect of American life. The recession? More than likely it will be extended [or double dip] because of the oil situation [unrest and war in and around the major oil producing nations of the world]. Arab allies? Over [at least in the short term]. Last night Gadhafi used the military against his people. The major eastern city of Libya [Benghazi] has fallen [the govt. is no longer in control] the eastern capitol city- Tripoli- is in a war like situation. Gadhafi’s son went on national TV and basically told the country that they are not like Egypt and Tunisia- they will fight back. The son is smart, educated in the West [London- geographically north of Libya- ‘West’ in the sense of the western world- that is London] he told the people ‘do you think the Americans/Brits want you to revolt? This country [Libya] will fall into chaos and the hands of radicals- the West depends on our stability [for oil] and they don’t want you to succeed’. Understand- this is a brilliant power play in the game. Is he telling the truth? In a way- yeah. In all the revolutions taking place- some nations are Arab- others Persian. Some are majority Shiite [Bahrain] with a minority ruling Sunni dynasty. Iran’s leaders are Shiite- they would be glad to see the fall of Bahrain- so the Shiite majority could overthrow the Sunni kings and have more support from Bahrain. Some Arab nations are ‘pro west’- Egypt, Jordan- and even Yemen are/were working with us- many of our friends in the area were shocked that we publicly called for the ouster of Mubarak, because he was our number 1 ally in the Arab world. They thought ‘what the hell are you doing! You picked the wrong king!’ Libya, Iran and Syria are anti western nations- they hate us- we them [in politics]. Yet without a doubt Gadhafi is crossing the line in violent responses to the protestors- yet president Obama has not called for his ouster- not like the way he did with Egypt. The protestors in these countries are confused and see the west as being sell outs. We have protests that seem to be breaking out of the Arab regions and even affecting Asia. There are reports of protestors in China. I obviously am not advocating the apocalypse- but I don’t think we [western society] realize the import of all these events- our world is changing and there is nothing we can do about it- but try and act justly! We [president] can’t go ‘public’ with a king who is bad- but not 1-100th as bad as Libya’s leader- and then go ‘silent’ on him [the president and U.S. position has been to speak out against the violence- good- but we have decided to not go public in support of the people and the call for the leader to step down]. So all in all we need to act justly- love mercy- and walk humbly with our God [Micah- Old Testament prophet].
Okay- Exodus 17. As the people of God continue on the journey of freedom- they once again come to a place where they lack water- they complain to Moses and God tells Moses to strike the rock with his rod/stick and water will come out. This supernatural miracle is spoken about by the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 10. He says all the people who were with Moses on the journey drank from the spiritual rock that was to come- Christ. The church has songs about Jesus being the rock who was broken open so salvation could come to the nations ‘Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee’ [also from the story we will read later when God puts Moses in a cleft in the mountain/rock and passes by him]. All these stories speak of Jesus as the savior of the world. The New Testament tells us when Jesus was on the Cross the soldier pierced his side with a spear and blood and water came out. So Jesus is the rock that was struck [by God- Isaiah 53] and we all can ‘drink’ the living water [Gods Spirit] that flows from his side.
And in keeping with the format of these posts [I’m going to put all these posts in one study and call them ‘insights from a revolution’- Exodus] let me try and give some practical advice for all our readers/friends from around the world who might be in these countries who are revolting. In this chapter the word used against Moses when the people complained is translated ‘Quarrel’ in English- in the original Hebrew language the word really means a legal complaint against leadership- that is they were wanting to bring Moses to court! In many of the current cases of revolution- some simply want change- others want justice- some revenge. In the case of Moses and ‘his revolution’ the people made the mistake of going too far by wanting Moses to stand before the ‘court’ that is they raised their level of protest too high. My advice- in all the nations going thru these things- I side with the people- and do see the tragic mistake the west has made by siding with these dictators for all these years- we truly did overlook the rights of people for the stability of oil- we sinned. Having said that- revolution is messy- and some might go too far in their complaint- that is the bottom line is freedom and democracy for the people- not vengeance on past leaders. In due time those who have committed crimes should be held accountable- but right now the bottom line is freedom and democracy- and NON VIOLENT protests. In Libya the leader has hired mercenaries from the Sub-Saharan part of the continent- these paid soldiers are in the streets of Libya- killing innocents. They are foreign people who don’t even speak Arabic [they speak French- remember parts of Africa were colonized by the British and French- Algeria used to be under French rule] the scene is surreal- so we condemn all these atrocities that are being carried out by these leaders- we call for peaceful protestors to be treated with dignity and respect- and I think our president should also speak out more on the Libyan situation. Let’s all PRAY FOR PEACE- FOR ALL NATIONS.
 IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROTEST TOO MUCH? A couple of days ago I started teaching the story of Moses and God’s delivering of his people from Egypt- I talked about the Ark of the Covenant and the fall of Pharaoh- try and go back and read those posts- and for the next few days I want to simply tell the story found in the book of Exodus [Old Testament]. In Exodus chapters 15- 16 we read the story of the great deliverance of God- in the previous chapters the people were under bondage to oppressive rulers [much like the autocratic rulers in the Arab/Persian world right now] and the people cried/protested and God heard them and he sent them new leaders [Moses] and this new leadership was needed in order for the old guard to pass away. Now- as they proceed on the journey the first spot they come to is a place named Marah- which means bitterness [present day Suez canal area]. They traveled for 3 days and found no water- and at Marah there is water- but the water is bitter, it’s not fit for human consumption. So they complain and Moses finds a stick/tree branch and puts it in the water and the waters ‘are healed’. In Christian teaching this branch is a symbol of Christ [who the bible calls the true vine- also the apostle Peter calls the Cross ‘the tree’] and the symbol means that when people believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ- in a spiritual way the ‘waters are healed’ [people are brought back to God thru the Cross]. The next spot they get to [Elim] has plenty of food and good water. Now- as they continue on the journey they begin missing the old stability they had under the old regime [Pharaoh] they start to complain against the new leaders and say ‘you led us out on this journey- now we have no good food like the old days- we will all starve out here- we wish we never protested’ wow- talk about rebels! Okay- Moses gets mad too- thinking to himself ‘man- I never asked for this- and now I’m supposed to put up with this’ [sort of like some of the leaders who have had to fill the gap after Mubarak fell- some of these guys- being prodded by the U.S. govt. are being asked to keep the peace until they can transition into a new Democratic rule]. God answers Moses and tells him he will send them meat and bread- God supernaturally causes a bunch of Quail [birds] to blow into the camp and they have lots of meat- and in the morning when they woke up there was this wafer type bread that was on the ground. The bread is called ‘Manna’ which actually means ‘what is it’. God fed them for 40 years with this ‘unknown’ bread- and he tells Moses to put some in a jar and save it as a memorial of Gods provisions. Eventually this jar with the bread in it will go into the box [the Ark I wrote about a few posts back- which had the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments it] and it will be a reminder to future generations how God was with them on the journey. Okay- a few practical points; it is possible to ‘protest too much’ that is after God initiated the process of ‘new rule’ the people couldn’t just keep protesting their way into a new govt., they had to ‘put up’ with some type of leadership along the way. Right now in Egypt [2-2011] some of the people are split on what to do ‘should we keep protesting’ some ask- others are saying ‘okay- we got Mubarak to step down- we need to give some of these military leaders a chance to set some things up for the elections to come’. In the case of Moses this was Gods will- that is the people went too far in not even being willing to let Moses lead a little. So some times as the protests succeed- there might also need to be a few months of letting the new guys have a chance to get some stuff done. A few interesting points; in chapter 16 the bible says ‘this happened on the 15th day of the 2nd month’. Geez- that’s right around the same time that the present Egyptian uprising also took place [I am aware the months of the Jewish calendar are different than mine- but it’s still pretty good!] and in the book of John [John’s gospel, chapter 6] Jesus has a conversation with the Jewish leaders and he says he himself is ‘the bread of God that came down from heaven’ he says the bread Moses gave them [the Manna spoken about here] was a symbol of his own life and death on the Cross for the sins of the world- he says ‘all who eat/receive me will live’. I find it interesting that in this story the original Jewish people are eating the bread for all these years- and the name of it means ‘what is it’. Both Muslims and Jews respect Jesus, they see him as a prophet sent from God- yet in Christian theology we teach that Jesus is much more than that- he is the ‘sent one’ [Jewish Messiah- the one who originates from God] many well meaning Muslims and Jews ‘have’ Jesus sort of like the Manna- they know the bread is there- they even ‘eat it’ [benefit in a way from it] yet Jesus says ‘I am the true bread- the bread that comes down from heaven and gives my life for the world’. As the Arab world is going thru their own journey right now- facing many difficult days ahead- days where some will be tempted to say ‘we regret this new found journey of freedom- we wish we never left Egypt’ there will also be a chance to feed from the Manna- the bread that has been there all along- the bread that many said of ‘what is it’ [or who is this Jesus] Jesus himself testifies that it is speaking about him- he is the true bread of life- the only ‘leader’ [new Moses] that can truly liberate- may we all find true revolution thru him.
 REVOLUTION- NOT ANARCHY! As of last night many streets in the Arab world are experiencing protests- Iran has launched 2 battleships to head towards Syria [right off the coast of Israel] and there are reports of oil prices spiking because of the unrest. These last few weeks I have been reading thru some chapters in Exodus- the book that records the historic liberation of Gods people from Egypt. Those of you who are bible readers will remember that the initial cause for revolt was actually an economic injustice; the children of Israel were under the oppressive regime of Pharaoh and they were grumbling about the poor economic conditions- the leader heard their ‘protests’ and he oppressed them more! He required them to produce more bricks and mortar [for the building of his own wealth] and yet they were to do this from the same amount of natural resources they had all along. In many of these states where the protestors have taken to the streets- they survive on 2 dollars a day- or less. These same people are now required to survive off of the same measly amount- even as the cost of food soars- many of them are indeed going hungry- for real. In the biblical story God sends them Moses [a type of Christ] and as you know Moses confronts unjust authority and the people revolt. Now- one of the key ingredients to a successful ‘revolt’ is a just constitution! God gives them the 10 commandments [rules on treating each other justly- and loving God] at the start of their journey- they will eventually conquer the Promised Land and grow as a society- yet the rules of the game were laid out early in the revolt. What do I think is happening right now? I believe our people [the president and U.S. govt.] are seeing these revolts as the major danger in the world right now- the level of world instability has not been like this in many years- the news media have tried to ‘manipulate’ the environment. After CNN and a few others chose to hone the cameras in on the thousands of protestors in Egypt’s square- yet they initially would not show/report the thousands who were revolting in Iraq. Why? They obviously want to push the narrative of ‘change’ in one place- while pushing the narrative of ‘Obama ended the war and all is well’ in another. The reality is there are major dangers taking place in the world right now- do I think Iran wants to invade Israel? To be honest- yes. What? All these leaders are shaking in their boots- from ‘the shores of Tripoli’ [Quadaffi] to the ‘kings’ of Bahrain. I assure you- if the protestors topple the Iranian leaders- it will not be a ‘peaceful’ exodus to some vacation spot [like Mubarak did] it will be Saddam Hussein all over again [strung up in the streets- or on TV]. Now- do you think the Iranian madman would attack Israel as a last ditch effort to save his skin? You bet ya! [Okay- too much Palin]. Remember- before all the recent developments- there were some major movements in the Middle East that spelled danger for Israel. For years they faced opposition on their northern border from Lebanon. For many years Hezbollah was a political force in the area- for the first time ever they recently elected someone from Hezbollah to high office- deposing the former leader. In the south and on the West bank there was also lots of turmoil right before these revolts took place. The leader of the Palestinians came under tremendous pressure because the Wikileaks ‘leaks’ revealed that Abbas [Palestinian leader] agreed with Israel to kill some Hamas leaders [Hamas is the radical pro Palestinian group- branded as terrorists by Israel and the U.S.] When the leaks got out there was rage in the streets- the chief negotiator [Saeb Erakat] had to step down. So all these events were seen as major threats to peace in the region- add to that the fall of Egypt- and the current uprisings in the other Arab/Persian states- yes indeed- we have not seen a time like this since our world wars [yes that’s strong- I do believe this to be true]. Okay- should we be afraid? No. How should we view the young people who are the primary demonstrators on the streets? I think it would be a mistake for the older generation [especially in the West] to view them all as potential terrorists- remember- Iran wouldn’t be sending her ships to Syria unless they too felt like they needed to hedge their bets. So we want to hear the cries of the younger generation- people who have felt oppressed for years- who were told ‘make do with the same resources- yet make it go further’ these people have indeed been wronged in many ways- many of them feel this is their only chance to ‘escape’- and finally- the advice to the protestors- you need a ‘law’ constitution- a statement of just principles that you will hold each other accountable to- maybe an ‘on line’ statement of beliefs to go along with the ‘days of rage’ that are being posted on facebook- some type of open rejection of radical terrorism and holding accountable those who would like to ‘hijack’ the protests for their own purposes. It’s really too late for the West to say ‘okay- we liked the Egypt thing- but now we want to hold up on the rest’. It’s so sad- right after the Egyptian uprising- news organizations like CNN and others- who were actually ‘parties’ to the success of the revolt [yes- watch carefully and you will see] they then ignored the other protests and were headlining their shows with the Grammy winners- yes- whole hours of not mentioning any of the other protests. Or MSNBC making the stop story about Rumsfeld or how 50 % of the Republican primary voters think Obama is a Muslim- I mean a whole hour on this stuff? The media do ‘play the fool’ lots. Just a note- in some nations there are actually protestors [not govt. cronies] who are protesting against the ‘protestors’- that is some more stable economies [Bahrain, Qatar, etc.] many of these nations- though not democratic- have ‘shared the wealth’ with the people- many successful businesses thrive in some of these countries- these more stable people do not want the Egypt revolt to spread- some have pointed out [very legitimately] that when the media focuses the cameras of the world on a few hundred- or thousand protestors- they need to remember that there are many millions who are not protesting [the population of Egypt is 80 million- some did not want revolt] so the media has to be careful that they are not showing the wrong ‘narrative’ in some of these places. All in all- the cats out of the bag- some regimes are indeed going to shoot their protestors- others will try and start a war with Israel- yes- these are very serious times. Lets pray for the safety and freedom for all people- when the children of Israel were under an oppressive regime- the bible says God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer- the New Testament says Jesus is the ‘Moses’ of this day- even Gandhi used the non violent principles of the Sermon on the Mount to have a successful revolt- I hope the present protestors will do the same.
[By the way- in many of these present revolts the citizens are revolting against the autocrats who were installed after their countries broke away from their colonizers- like India from Britain- yet they never transitioned into real democracies]
 YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOT IT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- some preachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’ [ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violent protestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious rule and we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]
 DAY OF RAGE IN EGYPT- Okay- I have been holding this story back for 2 weeks- it’s been reported primarily thru the financial shows [cnbc, Bloomberg] The only cable news guy that I saw cover it was Dylan Rattigan [MSNBC]. The story is that this administration made real decisions that have added to the very real discontent and rage that we are presently seeing in the world. I was waiting to see how long it would take before Rush, Beck or Hannity would catch on- as far as this morning they have not. A few months back this administration sat back as the Federal Reserve [Yes- I know there supposed to be independent] printed 600 billion dollars of new money. We were in a dispute with China’s fiscal policy- they are keeping their Yen low, artificially, and we wanted them to stop manipulating their currency. Why? When one country [a major trade partner] does this- that makes their goods cheap and ours more expensive. We already have a huge trade imbalance with China, and this makes it worse. So China ignored our pleas [a common response from more nations as the days go by] and Ben Bernanke- the Fed. Chairman announced we would print 600 billion dollars- just make more money! Now- many economists warned that if you do this- you will be creating lots of ‘fake cash’ and this money will flow into commodities- in essence this policy can cause the food prices to increase dramatically on the world market- creating an atmosphere of unrest through the world. Just yesterday I read in the business section how food prices have soared on the global market. Some of it has to do with the clean energy policies of this administration [yes- again]. Over these last few years many environmentalists have pushed Ethanol [corn for fuel]. Al Gore has since come out and publicly admitted that they [the environmentalists] have made a major mistake in doing this. Why? We have found out that in the production process of the fuel- it still creates a huge amount of pollution- factors we didn’t know at first. Second- this new demand for corn has drastically raised the price of corn on the world market- corn is one of the major factors for food prices- not just because we eat it- but it is a major source of feed for Cows, Chickens, etc. in essence this policy [introducing corn as fuel into the world markets] has drastically increased world food prices- which is one of the major reasons for the protests going on both in Egypt and the world- yes many countries have stated that they are actually starving over this- they make a couple of dollars a day, their price to eat has gone up drastically- and many protestors have taken to the streets because of this. Ben Bernanke was asked about this point blank by a reporter- he denied the logic. This story is very real- it is not the conspiracy theories that we are hearing in the conservative media- it is a very real prediction that was made by moderate financial gurus- they said these policies would cause real inflation that could create instability in the world- they were indeed correct. The U.S. supply of corn is at its lowest in 15 years, the projected orders for corn this year have risen 8 %- to 13 billion bushels. We are estimated to have a reserve of 675 million bushels by august [when the harvest begins for corn] that’s about 5 % of all the corn that will be consumed- the lowest levels since 1996. Corn prices have doubled in the last 6 months- from $3.50 a bushel to $7.00. We have made global decisions, based on certain ideological views- that have indeed caused people to die- for real. Now- the Egypt crisis. I was shocked to hear Mubarak’s speech yesterday- I thought he was stepping down [as did Obama] and instead he shoved it in their faces. The Egyptian leadership has told us, in public, to bud out of their country. The Saudis have told Egypt they will replace the billion dollars of annual foreign aid if the U.S. threatens to stop the aid. Mubarak and Suleiman have told the U.S. news [cable] coverage to bud out. And right after the speech- Chris Matthews from MSNBC says on the air ‘I guess he’s telling the protestors they are going to have to kill him’ this man needs to be pulled off the air- immediately- before he starts world war 3 [no joke]. Obviously we have had lots of missteps, president Obama has very much mishandled things- you do not send Robert Gibbs out to the media to say ‘he needed to go- yesterday’ this nation [as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq- yes, why are the media not covering the actual street protestors in Iraq- protesting the guys we installed!] these nations are going to do all that they can to maintain power- the worst one of all- Iran- was the only one that got a free pass when their citizens protested in the streets! Yes- of course we have blown it- lots. Having said all this- we as a nation need to back the democratic process for all these people. They have been abused by tyrants- killed- limbs chopped off- secret govt. police coming to your door at midnight- taking you away never to be seen again- we need to side with the people- these protests are not about radical Islam- they are people starving- living in oppression- desiring to be free- it’s a travesty to the highest degree that we [both Democratic and Republican presidents] have been in bed with these tyrants for all these years- the chickens are coming home to roost- and it’s time for some national repentance.
 WILL WE SUFFER? I was going to do another post on the Jewish contribution to Modernity- the Jewish thinkers and their contribution to the Western Intellectual Tradition [an ongoing on-line study I’m doing] but instead let me share a few more practical thoughts. The other day I wrote a post on the persecuted Christians in Pakistan- and I had a few Pakistani Pastors email me- thanking me for the web site- telling me it’s been a blessing to them- and even inviting me to speak or start a ministry under our name/title in their country and they would work with me. I of course thanked them for the offer- and just encouraged them to freely use all our stuff- make copies of the books- hand them out- use all of our stuff as much as you wish. I have waved the copyright to all my stuff years ago. Then I caught a quick few minutes of Peirs Morgan- the guy who replaced Larry King- he was interviewing Joel Osteen. Peirs was asking him something about the abuse of money in the modern televangelist world- and Joel answered cautiously- rejecting the title of Prosperity Preacher- and shared the basic theme that God doesn’t want his people being poor and suffering and beat up all the time. I like Joel- I’m very familiar with his belief system- Joel’s dad- John- was one of the pioneers of the Word of Faith movement in this part of Texas- and over the years I even had some ordained ministers who were ordained by Lakewood church [Joel’s church] who were members of the church I started back in the 80’s. So I basically am familiar with the scoop. Okay- the contrast of Joel’s simple remarks- given in a good spirit- just did not fit the lifestyle of the fine Pastors who I had just been in contact with over the past few weeks. Men who have been literally risking their lives- suffering- fellow believers being killed- all the descriptions that Joel felt were not what God wanted for his people. The book of Hebrews says ‘you suffered the loss of your material possessions willfully- knowing that in heaven you have eternal riches that will not fade away’. There is a verse [Proverbs?] that says ‘don’t make me rich- lest I forsake you- don’t make me poor- lest I curse you- just give me what I need’ or ‘those that desire to be rich [just the desire mind you!] have swerved from the true faith and have gone shipwreck’ [1st Timothy 6]. The point I want to make is we often hear snippets of things- things that seem innocent enough, and yet they violate the basic truth of scripture. I am not upset with Joel- Joel is a good man who has the gift of encouraging people- I do not see him as your typical ‘money preacher’ but I just wanted to give you the balance. The apostle Paul spent a few years living with the believers at Ephesus [I think you can read the account in Acts 20- I also wrote on the subject in my commentary on the book of Acts- in the 2-2010 posts] and as he was teaching them- he called the leaders of the church [called elders in the bible- what we would see as Pastors today] down to the shore- and he gave them a going away speech/warning- he told them after he leaves ‘wolves’ will come in- men who will take advantage of the believers- and he goes on and says ‘all the years I was with you- I refused to let you guys support me- I worked day and night- not only to support myself- but to pay the way for the workers I brought with me’ then he says ‘the reason I did this- was to give you preachers an example- so you too would work with your own hands to provide for yourselves’ now- the entire subject of supporting Christian teachers/preachers is a long one- and I’m not against supporting our Pastors/Priests in a moderate way- them having incomes commensurate with the people. But how many times have you ever heard the story I just shared with you? I mean does the average person even know that the apostle Paul taught stuff like this? You would think it was heresy if it weren’t right there in the bible. If you want to read more about this stuff- under the section ‘what is the church’ an ongoing series I’ve been doing for years- I share about this a little more- but today’s point is we need to be careful as preachers- when we view Christianity primarily thru an American lens- I’m sure Joel meant no harm- but there are indeed times when Gods people are persecuted- broken- afflicted- suffering- these are very real situations that many of our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis thru out the world. We don’t want to give them the false impression that they are suffering contrary to the will of God- there are just too many bible passages that say otherwise [ ‘it has not only been given to us to believe on Jesus- but to also suffer with him’ the Apostle Peter- etc. etc.].
 ANOTHER SHAKESPEARE? As I continue to read thru some of the arguments against Christianity- the pros and cons- one of the common threads that run thru the critics minds is the entire field of what is called ‘the historical method- higher criticism’. I have written extensively on it in the past- and will just hit a few points for today. This method of study developed in the German universities during the late 19th– early 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultmann would popularize it- and before him thinkers like Hegel would play their role in setting the field for a new way of thinking about the bible and Christian truth. During this time many professors/scholars began studying the bible in the original languages [Old testament- Hebrew. New Testament- Greek] and they noticed something interesting- the first 5 books of the bible- commonly attributed to Moses [meaning he wrote them] were found to have used different Hebrew words for God. You also noticed different ways things were phrased in different sections- this lead some thinkers to espouse an idea called ‘the documentary hypothesis’ when I recently critiqued the atheist- Christopher Hitchens- he used this argument in his book- but you could tell he simply read the theory from someone else [a teacher- Bart Erhman] and that he was really not familiar with the entire field. This theory is usually attributed to a thinker named Wellhausen, and it gained popularity among the school of teachers often referred to as liberal theologians [liberal- not politically- but in theology]. Eventually the idea arose that Moses could not have been the writer of the Torah [first 5 books of the bible] but the Torah must have been written after the captivity of Israel [around the 6th century B.C.E.] and the returning Jews to their homeland basically made up the whole thing in order to give a sense of community and purpose to the down trodden Jews. The same idea was developed about the New Testament and the gospels- these same critics said the gospels were really written by later authors- who made up most of the stories in order to give a sense of continuity to the developing nascent church- though these critics thought the New Testament still had ‘religious value’ yet the historical truth is absent [thus the name historical critical method]. Now- what about this John? First- over the years both of these theories- as interesting as they are- were in fact proven to have been not true. How? Well- the story s a little too long for this post- but basically as the field of archaeology and historical studies developed- the critics had less ground to stand on- not more. When I recently read the Popes book- he deals with this subject a lot- and he skillfully and accurately refutes it- I mentioned how at times the Pope was even funny. The Pope outlines the theory [about the gospels being a fabrication- written by some unknown men at a later date] and the Pope asks Bultmann ‘and just how do you explain the idea that these unknown authors wrote the most valuable writings of the day- books that have influenced the entire world- written at a real time with other real historical people living at the time- and yet they were able to carry out this elaborate hoax- while never being detected by anyone who also lived during that time’ in essence [I’m paraphrasing Benedict] the theory actually has no proof- if your going to challenge the historicity of the gospels- writings that do claim historical accuracy- written by men who we know did indeed live in the 1st century- whose historical accuracy has never been seriously challenged for centuries- if you come up with a theory 1900 years after the fact- then you can’t attribute your theory to a bunch of anonymous men- who supposedly lived at the same time- and brilliantly carried out the most elaborate hoax in the history of the world- and no one knows who these geniuses are! Benedict is correct in his critique of the critics. Basically these theories- while adding something to the whole debate- as a whole do not stand the same test of historical examination that they want to apply to the bible. And if the gospels are accurate [which they have been proven to be] Jesus himself speaks about the Torah [the first 5 books] quite a lot- he speaks saying ‘Moses said this’ and attributes the books to Mosaic authorship- talks of ‘Noah’s day’ speaks of God creating man in the beginning [Genesis]- Jesus himself testifies to the historical accuracy of the Old Testament- so if we have proof that the gospels are historically accurate- then according to Jesus- the history of the Old Testament is also historically true- See? When I read Hitchens- he has no depth at all in this debate- he seems to have simply read one side- and dished it out to his readers- giving them old arguments against the faith that have been disproven for years. It’s like the guy who said ‘hey- did you hear the news? We have found out that Shakespeare really didn’t write the tremendous works that are attributed to him’ O really- then who wrote them ‘another guy named Shakespeare’.
 POPE’S BOOK- FINAL COMMENTS- Let me try and make my last comments on the Pope’s book [almost done with it- a few pages left] which I have been reading on and off for about a month [I’m in the middle of a study on the Western intellectual tradition- making radio programs- and have been too scattered to do a complete book review]. Let me hit a few high points of the last few chapters that I felt were really insightful. Benedict gives an overview of a Rabbi’s perspective on Jesus [a book the Pope read from the Rabbi]. The Rabbi does not accept Jesus as the Messiah- but is respectful in his approach and the Pope shares the common reason why the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as their Messiah in the 1st century. Being faithful to a theme that runs throughout the book- Benedict shows how Jesus presented himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy about Moses/Jesus ‘that God would raise up a prophet like Moses’- Benedict shows that Jesus presented himself as the ‘New Moses’ and took the position of God himself in the statements he was making concerning his authority. In the Rabbi’s book- that the Pope is explaining- the rabbi covers the sayings of Jesus and comes to the conclusion that faithful Jews could not/ did not receive Jesus as their Messiah because his call to them was for Israel to accept his authority over and above what they knew to be true- their attachment to the Torah [the first 5 books of the bible- the law] and for Israel- as a nation- to accept Jesus- they would be saying ‘we accept a new Moses- and place his authority and words over and above the very foundation of our existence’. Now- these insights are deep- they are coming from a Jewish rabbi who has come to the conclusion that Jesus was presenting himself ‘as God’ to the nation of Israel- and Benedict says he learned a lot from reading this perspective from the Rabbi. I just felt that this section of the book was real valuable. The Pope goes on to explain that Jesus was not repudiating the law- but fulfilling it- and in his explanation he also does a very good job [secretly!] at putting out a hand to the Protestant churches and attempting to reconcile the teachings of Paul on justification by faith [and Paul’s neglect of the law] and the biblical view of Jesus fulfilling the law. Benedict even shares very good insights into the apostolic calling of Peter- and the separate calling of the apostle Paul- his insights are excellent and you can see that he is really making an attempt to bridge the theological gap between Protestants and Catholics. Overall this book [Jesus of Nazareth] is the most Cross/Christ centered book I have read in the past 5 years! [We call this Christology- for those of you who want to learn the terms]. Over these last few years I have made an attempt to read some of the top Protestant writers of the day [Men like N.T. Wright- former Bishop of the church of Durham- England. Not talking about the top best sellers that are basically filled with pop psychology and void of any real learning] and I must confess that no other book has come close to the insights that the Pope has on the Cross and the necessity of believers to identify with Jesus in his death and resurrection- the Pope has done an excellent job at presenting Jesus and the Cross in their proper light. For all you theologians/preachers- the Pope also comes down on the conservative side of historical criticism. That is he certainly is familiar with the whole debate over Liberal/Conservative approaches to scripture [not talking politics here!] and he does another excellent job at dissecting the critics [Bultmann] and challenging many of the false assumptions that the higher critics made while rejecting the historical content of the gospels. The church went thru a century or so debating how reliably accurate the gospels were- many challenged their accuracy in a way that was not fair- that is they began holding the bible up to critical methods of historicity that no other documents were ever held to. These critics came up with methods- called historical criticism- that were quite frankly ‘loony’. And then they used this new criterion to say that the Historical Jesus was a different person than the Jesus from the bible. The Pope does a thoroughly scholarly ‘dissection’ of these faulty approaches- and quite frankly takes them apart in a ‘nice’ way. Yet Benedict also respects the historical studies of the church and handles very well the ‘contradictions’ that some find in the gospels. Many critics have shown how the various gospel writers [especially John’s gospel compared to the 3 others] do show differing accounts on certain aspects of Jesus and his life. To be honest- some of these differences can be problematic- many preachers/believers are generally not aware of some of these differences. The Pope knows them well- and deals with them well. So he does not simply reject the ‘higher critics’ by saying they are wrong, but he shows his familiarity with the subject, and makes a scholarly attempt at representing the ‘conservative’ side of the argument; which basically says ‘the gospels contained in the new testament do very much present to us the historical Jesus’. Needless to say- I agree. So anyway as you can see the book is chock full of excellent insights that would benefit all Christians- I recommend everyone pick up a copy and read it.
 PIETISM/ROMANTICISM- As we already covered, the Enlightenment thinkers struggled with the idea that religion and reason/rationalism can go together. The pure Empiricists [David Hume] would reject the idea that religion could be rational- Descartes claimed it could- and Kant drew a middle line; he taught that we cannot know God thru the sense realm, but it was rational to ‘Postulate’ the idea of God [John Locke said reason can accept Revelation- Divine truths that have no Empirical evidence to back them up- Kant simply taught that it was rational for the mind to accept the idea that a first cause must exist, even if we can’t ‘prove’ him thru sense evidence]. Okay- as you can see much of Enlightenment thinking was infused with religion, reason, rationality- etc. Did all thinkers ‘think’ that these ways of approaching religion and reason were profitable? No- many thinkers/philosophers saw too much ‘head knowledge’ in the whole endeavor to make faith reasonable. Many religious leaders rejected the over emphasis on rational religion. Romanticism was a cultural/religious movement that primarily affected the Arts and Literature- but also had strains of religious thinking within it. The Romantics said we do and should experience life and God thru a real-felt type of living. There is much more to life than the rational proofs of things- in fact they felt the very essence of life was about experiencing the beauty of things thru the Arts and the creativity of man- some felt that God himself was revealing who he was thru the artistic creativity of man- the great Christian pieces of music [Bach- etc.] were not these beautiful works of music that transcended the ‘rationality’ of man and caused him to experience the beauty of God/religion thru this form of Art? The same for great literature. Pietism had her roots in the early modern period- and in the 19th century also pushed back against the sterile rationality of the Enlightenment thinkers. Pietism- much like Romanticism- said there was much more to religion than simply knowledge- Pietism challenged the ‘dead faith’ of Orthodoxy and focused on the religious experience of Regeneration- they spent much time answering the question ‘how do we know we are saved’. Romanticism had strains of religious thinkers within her- Pietism was mainly focused on the religious question. Pietism had a major impact on 19-20th century Protestant Christianity- and most Evangelicals today can trace their roots to Pietism’s influence on religious thought. In the 18th century revivals that took place in the American colonies- men like Jonathan Edwards would play a major role in shaping the religious thought of early Protestantism in America. John Wesley- the great Methodist preacher- would also challenge the ‘dead religion’ of the Church of England and eventually launch the Methodist church [though Wesley originally never meant to separate from the Anglican Communion]. So the 19th century saw a strong reaction against the reason/rationalism of Enlightenment thinking- they felt like much true religious experience was indeed meant to be ‘an experience’ that is something much more than simple knowledge. In Romanticism this challenge was primarily based in the cultural landscape of the day- in Pietism it was religious in nature. You had both Romantic atheists and Pietistic preachers agree on one thing- there is much more to life than the sterile rationality of the Enlightenment period.
 RATIONALISTS- EMPIRICISTS [Western intellectual tradition] – Okay- for those of you who are following my sporadic teaching on modernity [philosophical period between the 17th 20th centuries] let me overview a little of what we have covered so far. We discussed the Christian thinker- Rene Descartes’- and how in the 17th century he challenged the faculty at the university of Paris [the leading university of the day] to argue for the reasonableness of Christianity thru rational means- he said we can prove the existence of God without having to appeal to church tradition or the bible. The Empiricists [those who challenged the ‘rationalists’] argued that all knowledge comes to us from the senses- so we can never prove God’s existence from reasonable/natural means. In fact they argued that religion in itself is irrational and any attempts to make it rational/reasonable were futile. David Hume and Denis Diderot [one of the first openly professed atheists of the time] would argue from this position. Then in the late 18th century the very influential German thinker- Immanuel Kant- would respond to Hume’s pure skeptical Empiricism and ‘awake out of his dogmatic slumber’ [a term he himself used to describe his reaction to reading Hume] and challenge the skeptics. Kant did accept the Empiricist’s idea that we can’t ‘prove God’ by rational means- thru knowledge obtained thru the 5 senses- yet he taught that it was perfectly ‘reasonable’ to come to the conclusion that God exists. Just because you can’t prove God like Descartes’ said [according to Kant- I personally believe Descartes’ was right] it is still rational to ‘purport’ the necessity of God- in essence we ‘need God’ and natural religion for man to function in society- and it is logical to conclude that there must be an initial cause to all creation-even though we can’t discover him thru natural means. Okay- just a brief overview of what we already covered. I guess at this point I better go ahead and start a separate study under the title ‘The Western Intellectual Tradition’ [on the blog]. Why should Christians [especially preachers/pastors] even be concerned with stuff like this? While I agree it is not necessary for all Christians to study all subjects about all things- yet these historical/cultural movements play a major role in the debate going on today between believers and those who reject God. Just like in the scientific field- if Christians simply give up the fight- that is if we come to the table of ideas- trying to engage society in a coherent way- then we need to have some ability to argue intelligently for our position. To have even a ‘surface’ understanding of some of these cultural movements that have shaped the way we think and know is important when we get into debates with unbelievers who have appealed to the skeptics [Hume] to argue against the existence of God.