RECENT STUFF- B
 LUTHER- THE TOWER EXPERIENCE
Let’s start with some church history. In the last post I covered the early years of Martin Luther- probably the most significant figure of the Protestant Reformation.
Luther studied for the priesthood in Erfurt, Germany. He would eventually wind up in Wittenberg- one of the major university cities of the Reformation. Wittenberg was actually a small insignificant town- but the political leader over the region- Frederick the Wise- sought to put it on the map.
He wanted to turn Wittenberg into a German ‘Rome’. He wanted it to become a major Pilgrimage city where Christians would see Wittenberg as a destination- just like they saw Rome.
So Frederick embarked on this plan and he searched thru all the Catholic learning centers of the time and finally recruited 3 top scholars to teach out of the university at Wittenberg- Luther was one of the 3.
Just as a side note- Frederick would succeed at making Wittenberg a major catholic center. He would eventually obtain over 19,000 Relics for the Cathedral church there [Relics were used in the ancient system of buying indulgences and making special pilgrimage trips to important Churches. If the church/city that your making the Pilgrimage to has a lot of Relics- bones or other famous material objects from church history- then the value of the Pilgrimage was high. In theory Frederick collected so many that if you added up all the ‘time off’ from Purgatory- you would get 1 million, 900 thousand years off! Some of the famous relics at Wittenberg were a hair from the beard of Jesus- straw from the manger Jesus was born in- and even a branch from the famous burning bush of Moses! As you can see- there was a lot of commercializing going on- even back then].
When Luther arrived in Wittenberg- he made a name for himself as a top scholar. Many protestants- who revere Luther- usually are not aware that he was a master Linguist [sort of like Rick Perry!]
Yes Luther mastered language- and he showed it in his teaching on the book of Psalms.
In 1515 he began his famous study on the book of Romans and as he went thru the very first chapter- something shook him. He came across the passage that says the Just shall live by faith. This verse first appears in the O.T. book of Habakkuk- and is quoted 3 more times in the N.T.
Luther was very aware of the concept of the righteousness of God- he struggled for many years trying to reconcile his own sinful nature with Gods holiness- but he never really ‘saw’ the biblical concept of righteousness as a free gift that God ‘imputes’ to the sinner.
Yes- for the 1st time in Luther’s life- after his years training for the priesthood- the pilgrimage he made to Rome- the thousands of hours he spent confessing his sins while a monk in Erfurt- he never really understood that the righteousness of God was a free gift given to those who have faith.
It was a giant weight lifted from his shoulders- Luther did not need to try any more to live up to the standards of God- in a way that would earn for him forgiveness- but he would simply believe- and the righteousness of God would be counted to him as a gift.
Luther would go on to call this an Alien Righteousness- that is it is not found within the person who tries to do all the church works he can- or buying all the indulgences- or any other of the many religious actions he was practicing- but this free gift of being right with God- it came to those who had faith- the Just shall live by Faith- this was indeed good news for the scholar.
As time went on- Germany would get embroiled in the political machinations of the day- Luther’s top political cover was Frederick the Wise- hardly a Protestant Reformer! He spent lots of time trying to make Wittenberg the major Catholic center in Germany.
But at the time there was a political fight raging between Rome and some of the other nation/states. There was a figure head office called the Holy Roman Emperor. This office was really in name only- but it rose up during the first Millennium of Christian history and sought to replace the influence that Rome was losing.
So you had France, Spain and England all vying for the title. Eventually it would go to King Charles of Spain- but the Pope- who played a major role in nominating the person- he did not want any of these top 3 to get the position. Henry the Eighth was the king of England at the time- and these ‘3 kings’ were sort of in competition with Rome- so the Pope tried to get Fredrick the Wise to throw his hat into the ring.
Frederick just happened to be one of the Electors of this position.
His actual title was The Elector of Saxony.
So Fredrick had lots of influence- and as Rome would eventually but heads with the stubborn bull of Wittenberg [Luther] Frederick would become the major protector of Luther.
Okay- I think we’ll stop here for today. The experience that Luther had- the enlightenment that came to him while teaching the book of Romans- this is often called The Tower experience of Luther- it took place in the year 1515.
 Happy new years eve to all. Let’s do a brief Year in Review.
We did have quite a busy news year- last night I caught a CSPAN clip of Newt- yeah- he was crying like a baby!
Okay- not that bad- but he did break down for a few seconds on screen. Some of the pundits debated if it were ‘planned’ or real.
I think E.J. Dionne [a liberal news guy] got it right- he said he thought it was sincere- but how much it will help a man in a Repub primary fight- well that’s another story.
Boehner said he didn’t see anything wrong with it [lol for you non savvy political folk- who knows- maybe they will both run for office in North Korea? The crying capitol of the world].
The big story of the year? Well- there were a few [Tsunami- Arab Spring- E.U. crisis] but as a geopolitical event that was big- I guess I would say the shakeup we saw in the Arab world was pretty major.
It started with a street vender in Tunisia- he refused to pay ‘the tax’ to the cops for his street profit- it’s really a form of extortion like the mob uses. So in frustration he ‘self immolated’ [lit himself on fire!] and he died a few days later from his injuries.
This led to the overthrow of the long time leader in Tunisia [Ben Ammi]- and then the Egyptians followed suit by protesting in the historic Tahrir square.
Mubarak got toppled and then Libya gave it a shot. Of course we [the U.S. and NATO] basically bombed the hell out of the place and then let the rebel’s claim they won.
Last week in Nigeria- on Christmas day- Muslim radicals bombed a Christian church and killed many worshippers. Nigeria is much like the Sudan- the country is divided North and South by Muslims and Christians [Sudan’s south also has lots of Animists].
What do all these countries have in common? They are all in Africa. Yes- the African continent probably saw the most ‘action’ though the last part of the year we have focused on Europe.
Yes- Europe had her own Western style debt crisis. It can get a little confusing- I mean I was watching one news show- the title was the Euro Zone debt crisis- and they said there were 27 nations in the Euro Zone.
That’s a common mistake some have made. The Euro Zone is made up of 17 European nations- that have entered into a treaty that allows them to all use one common currency- the Euro.
But there are a total of 27 nations that make up the European Union- the biggest Economy out of all of them is Britain- they are not part of the Euro Zone- though they are part of the E.U. – got it?
By the way- Brazil just passed Britain as the world’s 6th [or 7th?] largest economy.
And Japan faced her devastating earthquake/Tsunami [I think it was this year?] anyway there economy has been in the doldrums for around 20 years. Japan had her own recession/depression many years ago- and they have still never fully recovered.
Which brings us to the end of the year in the U.S.
We end the year with some better than expected economic numbers- but don’t be fooled- the numbers are not great- they are actually not good- they are just better than expected.
Some now predict that the last quarter will see around 3 % growth [it takes a few weeks for the data to come out] and some are predicting that 2012 we’ll see around 3 % growth.
3 % is not good- it’s actually bad- but it’s not as bad as a recession.
What we need to keep in mind is our economy has gone through some major hits- and like Japan- you don’t just pop out of it in a few years.
Many of the companies are in better shape- because they scaled back- they cut people and downsized- some for good.
So- the DOW might look good because of stuff like this- but we have now had a few years of college grads who have been unable to find work- and they missed the ‘boost’ of getting a good job- buying a car- getting a place to stay- and this group of young unemployed kids- well they might never get the jump they need to do ‘better than their parents’.
So by no means have we as a country recovered from our debt/economic problems- and the E.U. still has a lot of risk in the coming year.
In the last few weeks the Federal Reserve and a few other central banks made money available to the E.U. banks at a cheap rate.
The theory is if you pour money into the banks- that might loosen up lending- and you avoid a real problem. Just like our own TARP thing we did in 2008.
But lo and behold- some of the E.U. nations sold [tried] to sell some bonds- and the banks did not buy as many as people expected. The banks took the cash [like the U.S. banks did in 2008] and basically sat on the money.
So all this means we still have a tough year ahead- globally- and just because some numbers are looking better at the end of the year for the U.S.- this does not mean all is well.
The scripture reading for this week is Isaiah 52. The prophet speaks about Gods people- he says ‘Wake up- rise up- shake the dust from your feet and move on’.
He also says that blessed are those who preach the Good News- the good news of salvation. Those who publish peace- those who declare Gods rule.
I have a habit- every week [just about] I watch the Catholic Mass on the tube- those are the bible chapters I cover during the week.
Of course this past week I watched the Popes Mass from Rome- the Pope spoke against the commercializing of Christmas- and he reminded us that the true message of Christmas is Emmanuel- God with Us.
As we end the year- I want to encourage all my readers/friends- the reality of God being with us is what’s important. Yes- I do think many are not seeing the ‘story behind the story’ in the above news events- many want to believe there is no way they might have lost money [401 k’s] and they might never see that money again.
But that’s okay- even if you didn’t lose it this past year- you were going to ‘lose it’ someday- we all have to leave some day- and we have a tendency to put that reality off.
One year I had a friend- another firefighter- who just started investing in Real Estate. And all the guys knew I was doing that for years. I used to have renters come by and drop off the rent checks and stuff like that.
So when one of the other guys got into it- they would ask me for advice. One day I had a friend- around 50 years old- and he bought a few homes.
As he was talking- he was telling me that he would pay off these 2- sell this one- rent the other- I mean he had all the plans first time buyers/investors get into. I simply tried to give him some sound advice- and I also had to stop him at one point.
He was telling me the plans he had for the 3 homes that were on a 30 year mortgage- and I had to say ‘Mike- I know your excited about the houses- but you’re talking about paying off these homes- you do realize you might be dead before the mortgage is paid off’.
I wasn’t being funny- I actually was telling him something that many investors do not calculate in when they do the numbers- they very rarely calculate in their own mortality.
So yes- we will all do our best- we will watch the numbers this year- and well will try and publish the good news- the good news of God being with men- that God became a man- was crucified- died- and buried. He rose again the 3rd day- according to the scriptures- he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Amen and Amen.
Happy New Year to all.
 TREASURY OF MERIT
Let’s pick up where we left off 2 posts back. We were talking about Martin Luther and the events that led up to the Protestant Reformation.
In order to understand the key act that caused the protest- we will have to teach some Catholic history/doctrine.
In the 16th century Pope Julius began the effort to build St. Peters basilica in Rome. He got as far as laying the foundation and died. Pope Leo the 10th would pick up after him.
The church needed to raise money for the project- and the German prince- Albert- would play a major role.
It should be noted that both Catholic and Protestant scholars agree that the Popes of the day were pretty corrupt. They came from what we call the Medici line of Popes.
If you remember last month I wrote a post on the Renaissance- I talked about the Medici family and how they played a major role in supporting the Renaissance that took place in the 13th century in Florence Italy that would spread to the region.
Well this very influential family also played a big role in who would get top positions in the church.
At the time of Luther and prince Albert- if you had the right connections and the money- you could literally buy a position in the church.
Albert already held 2 Bishop seats- and there was an opening for an Archbishops seat in Mainz [Germany] and he wanted that one too.
It should be noted that official Canon law [church law] said you could only hold one seat at a time- Albert was bidding on his 3rd one! And he was too young for all of them.
So even the Pope and the officials held little respect for what the church actually taught at the time.
So Albert opens up negotiations with Leo- and the bidding starts AT 12,000 Duckets [money] Albert counters with 7,000- and they agree on 10,000. How did they justify the numbers? 12- The number of Apostles. 7- The 7 deadly sins. 10- The 10 commandments.
Yes- the church was pretty corrupt at the time.
So Albert works out a plan with Leo- he will borrow the money from the German banks- and pay the banks off by the Pope giving Albert the right to sell Indulgences.
What’s an Indulgence?
Okay- this is where it gets tricky.
The ancient church taught a system called The Treasury of Merit. This was a sort of spiritual bank account that ‘stored up’ the good deeds of others over the years.
You had the good deeds of Jesus at the top- but you also had Mary and Joseph- the 12 Apostles- and other various saints thru out time.
The way the ‘bank’ worked was you could tap into the account by getting a Papal indulgence- a sort of I.O.U. that had the Popes guarantee that it would get so much time out of Purgatory for a loved one.
The actual sacrament that accesses the account is called Penance [confession].
When a penitent does penance- he confesses his sin to the priest- and he is absolved by the authority of the church that the priest has. The priest usually tells the person ‘say so many Hail Mary’s- Our Father’s’ and that’s a form of penance.
One of the other things the church practiced was called Alms Deeds. This term is found in the bible and it means giving your money to the poor- it is a noble act that Jesus himself taught.
In theory- part of the sacrament of penance was tied into Alms Deeds- you can access the account thru the practice of giving to the poor- which also meant giving to the church that helps the poor- and in the hands of the Medici line of Popes- meant outright giving money to the Pope.
So now you see how the abuse worked its way into the pockets of the faithful.
Albert now had the permission from Leo to sell these indulgences in Germany- and he would pick a certain corrupt priest to sell them in a place called Saxony- the region where Luther operated out of.
It should be noted that the Catholic Church never taught the crass act of ‘buying your way out of Purgatory’. The practice of including giving money as a part of the sacrament of penance was tied into the biblical principle of giving to the poor- a good thing.
But Tetzel and others abused the official meaning of the indulgence- and did make it sound like you could by your way out of Purgatory [in theory- a loved one might be in Purgatory for so many years- and through the indulgence you are actually getting time off for them- because the good deeds of others are now applied to the account].
The money Albert would raise- half would go to Rome for the building of St. peters- and half would go to pay off the banks in Germany- it was a sad system- and a sad time for the church as a whole.
It would be wrong to judge the entire church at the time as being corrupt- you did have many sincere Priests and Catholic men and women who saw the abuses and did not take part in them.
But there was corruption at the top- and this would eventually lead to the breakup of the church- and the launching of what we now call the Protestant Movement.
As a side note- it should be said that many Catholics and Protestants are not aware of the whole treasury of merit system- and the church never officially changed her position on the doctrine.
There were 3 Church councils since the time [Trent- 1500’s, Vatican 1- 1800’s and Vatican 2- 1962-65]. The Treasury of Merit never came up for change.
Obviously Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory- and it’s not my purpose in these posts to change Catholics into Protestants or vice versa- but to give all sides a clear view of the issues that divided us- and to try and be honest- and respectful during the process.
Does the bible teach anything like a Treasury of Merit? Well actually it does. The bible teaches that the righteousness of Christ is the treasury that people can access- by faith- and become righteous in the sight if God.
The idea- applied to Christ- is good.
But in the hands of the Medici Popes- and the ambitious prince of Germany- it would lead to disaster.
 SATURDAY IN THE PARK
The other day I got up and turned my computer on- hit the icon for one of my oldies but goodies [Saturday in the Park- Chicago] and sure enough it was one of those saved UTUBE videos that got deleted because of some copyright thing.
So I just re-type the song and do another search. On the side of the page I see a bunch of options- I usually go for the one that looks like the old vinyl classic- you know the records we bought as kids.
But instead I went with one that showed a Ferris wheel and a carnival in a park- yeah- that looks good!
As the song started- I soon realized that the video was made by some amateur who is fulfilling his dream of being an international star by posting his songs to UTUBE.
Now- I’m sure he meant well- put a lot of time and effort into the thing- but he sounded just like the waiters singing at the end of the movie Christmas Story.
Yeah- maybe he was living in Korea at the time- doing his best to navigate his life thru the ups and downs of his country- all the people distraught over the death of their beloved leader.
So as I sat there- yes- listening to Saturday in the Park- sung with this Korean accent- I thought ‘You know- in life we all have ups and downs- we learn to take the good with the bad- I mean it won’t be the first time that I had to settle for less’. But I knew- if I listened to the whole song- well that would be a noticeable step down on even my very low standards- yeah- I clicked it off.
Which brings us to today. We end the week with many Iowans and others saying ‘well- we don’t really like so and so- but we will settle for what we can get’. Romney and Santorum tied- and a few others have to re evaluate.
Let me mention one thing- Ron Paul does have a solid following- sort of like some cult guy. And he does say things that make sense- at times. But he also has some nutty ideas as well.
But one of the things he is right on is what he said the other day about Iran. He said that the sanctions that the West is now putting on Iran- that they are an act of war. He said we should not be surprised that they will respond in a dangerous way.
This week- for the first time ever- we began moving on Iran’s oil- to cut off their sale of oil to other nations. Oil is obviously the number one source of income for Iran.
This has lead to a crash in the Rial [Iran’s money] and Iranians are taking all their cash out of Iranian banks and putting their money into U.S. currency.
We are indeed sending that nation into a possible depression- and if we know that we are doing this- saying that’s the price for the level of non compliance they are showing with their nuclear program- then we can’t say ‘oh- they are just starting trouble in the Strait of Hormuz to get the attention off of their bad economy’.
Yes- that’s what the White House said this week- that’s a lie- we all should know that- and if we think we should do the sanctions- then let the country know that’s what’s putting the pressure on Iran- that’s why they are threatening to disrupt the Straight- and it might indeed lead to war.
Okay- there are a bunch more stories I would like to hit on- lets hit on the recess appointment of Cordray.
Those who hate Obama say he violated the constitution. Those who love him say he didn’t do anything different than any other pres. Who’s right?
Actually- what he did was a first. Now- he might think it’s time to challenge the thing- but make no mistake about it- it was a first.
Out of all the hundreds of recess appointments that presidents have made- this was the first time a pres. made one when congress was either in session- or in ‘Pro-Forma’ session.
But the media are not really telling you that.
CNN had a quick story that said even Obama accused Bush of going around congress when he made his recess appointments- and they played the clip of him saying it. Yet they ended the story by saying ‘Obama- in the end- said the president had the right to do it’.
But they were talking about the normal ones that all presidents have made- yes- Obama accused Bush of gong around the law- when he did an actual recess appointment- when congress was not in session.
It was under Bush- when Obama was a senator- that congress actually came up with an agreed to ‘form’ that would constitute congress being deemed in session- that’s what the Pro-Forma thing is all about.
The Dems and Repubs made a deal that said if the congress has one guy show up every 3 days- and he simply hits the gavel- hangs out for a few hours- and leaves- they all agreed that this would mean they were in session- and it would prevent the pres from appointing a recess guy.
Okay- for the first time- they started doing this under Bush- and Obama and the Dems [along with the Repubs] all said at the time that if Bush dared to make an appointment during this Pro Forma session- it would spark a constitutional crisis.
What did Bush do John? He went along with the deal- and never made an appointment when they were in Pro Forma session.
Obama never said Bush had the right to do what Obama just did.
Harry Reid is on record saying if Bush dared do this- it would be grounds for legal action.
What are Reid and Obama and all the others saying now? Oh- he’s doing what’s right.
This stuff never ends with these guys.
Last story- when the media wants to portray a certain thing- in a certain way- they will do their best to try and make you see what’s really not there.
Under the Clinton administration you had the scandal [one of many] that had to do with Sandy Burger. Sandy was a top official under Clinton and at one point he knew that he had written some stuff that would get him in trouble.
So he gets caught going to the presidential library and stuffing these old notes down his pants and in his socks. The librarian can’t believe she caught the guy doing it- I mean he’s a top official.
So they notify security and on his way out they stop him and make him spill the goods- yeah- this is a real story.
Of course the news breaks and you see why he wanted to take these papers- they did make him look bad about some stuff.
But how did the media treat this? Over a period of a few days they interviewed Bill Clinton- and a few other Dems who were ‘in the know’.
They all laughed- they said ‘Oh that’s just old absent minded Sandy- he does silly stuff like this all the time- leaving his briefcase behind- I mean we all know he was not really trying to steal anything’.
And after a few days- well that was the public story- almost unbelievable that the media has that type of power.
The insiders say that what Obama just did was a first- and he might very well have sparked a constitutional crisis- and the insiders say that’s what he wants- to position himself this year against congress- and he might have done something- that might indeed be illegal- but as a lawyer- sometimes you do stuff like that.
He might have calculated that it would take years before the courts decide- and even if he broke the law- he’ll be gone and the mission was accomplished.
So what’s so bad about this John? Well you don’t want any president doing stuff like this. Yes- in society these games are played a lot- but in the top office of the land you should not do it.
But if the media can convince the public that all Sandy was guilty of was sloppy filing- well then they can convince us of anything.
The other day I mentioned that I’m not a big football fan- but to be honest I have always rooted for the northern teams- and yes- I’m aware of how good the Giants are doing. But yesterday was the first time I watched a game this season.
I was channel surfing the news shows and caught Tebow scrambling for a touchdown- I thought ‘heck- I have heard lots of criticism about Tebow- but he looks pretty good to me’.
So I watched most of the game- they won in overtime- under a new rule that says you only have sudden death if the team that wins the toss scores a touchdown on the first possession.
Tebow threw for a touchdown on the first play!
Its funny- of course I have heard all the controversy over Tebow doing the prayer move at the games. One night I was watching the world news- and they actually did a story about whether or not Tebow’s prayer was ‘really’ working.
They showed the few clips of him on the knee- then they said ‘but- could there be another reason why he is doing well’- Geez- I don’t know- why don’t you tell me.
Yes- they interviewed some shrink and he explained that when someone is nice- and encourages the other players- well that affects the game.
Then they showed a clip where some receiver blew the catch and when he walked back to the line Tebow tapped him on the back and said ‘don’t worry about it- better luck next time’.
Aha- that’s it- it aint those silly prayers after all.
How funny [sad] that after the media started getting criticized because of their complaining about Tebow’s silly one knee thing- then they had to actually spend a few minutes on world news to explain why the prayer isn’t really working- kinda sad.
Okay- let me take care of a few business items today. First- does someone want to do me a favor?
Who has a lot of money? Can you send me….. [Okay- need to stop doing this- it does get people mad].
Actually I have an old friend in prison- in N.J.- and about a year ago we wrote back and forth a few times. I’m pretty sure I sent the last one- but really haven’t kept up with it like I used to.
So- if anyone wants to write- to just keep in touch and encourage the guy- then either message me on Facebook or send me an email- I’ll send you the address.
Over the years I have sent hundreds of letters to buddies in prison. Some of my friends on these sites know that- but I have dropped the ball some in the last few years- and this might be a ‘ministry’ for someone.
Also- on my site I have some old friends- people who have been with us [me] from the start- ministry type guys. We always had plans and ideas about stuff- to be honest some of those plans never materialized like I hoped.
But I have been wanting to throw this out as an idea- maybe some of you guys can start a site- either a group on Facebook- or a blog [there free!] and simply call it the name of your city ‘outreach ministries’.
Use it as a sort of bulletin board- a place where other ministries/churches in your area can get in touch- maybe post an event- or whatever.
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone- but to a few brothers- this can be a good tool [or sisters].
If you go to my blog- there is an icon that you can click to start your own blog- I have been on a few years- and to be honest- I am a terrible blogger/internet guy.
I didn’t even have EMAIL until 2007!
So if someone wants to mess with it- it can be a worthwhile tool- an outreach to your city- or even a sate or nation.
Okay- that was it for today- just wanted to take care of a little business- oh yeah- Houston is doing good too! The Boys? Okay- let’s not dig up past mistakes- love covers a ‘multitude of sins’.
 LUTHER CLASHES WITH ROME
Let’s do another post on the Protestant Reformation. I’ll probably only do a few more before I transition into another study.
By the way- all the studies I do thru out the year are posted in the February posts of the following year.
Okay- last we left off Luther was just beginning to butt heads with the church [Tetzel] over the abuse of the sale of indulgences that was going on in Germany.
In a previous post I mentioned how the priest- Tetzel- was selling these ‘get out of Purgatory’ type coupons in the area where Luther operated out- Saxony.
Actually- Tetzel never entered Saxony itself- but was selling these out of a bordering city- and many of Luther’s students/parishioners were being hoodwinked into spending their money to rescue a loved one out of Purgatory.
Tetzel is known for a jingle he started in connection with the sale of the indulgence- it goes ‘as soon as a coin in the coffer rings- a soul in Purgatory springs’- ouch!
Like I said before- the church never taught this- they did teach the Treasury of Merit [previous post] but the way Tetzel used it was a real abuse of the teaching of the church at the time.
Now- Luther responds to the abuse by writing the famous 95 thesis. This is the act that is often associated with the launching of the Reformation- the act that got the ball rolling.
The 95 thesis were simply 95 questions challenging the whole practice of the sale of indulgences- there was no mention of the doctrine of Justification by Faith- which will become the trumpet sound that springs out of the Protestant Reformation.
Luther takes these questions- written in Latin- and nails them to the university church door at Wittenberg. Sometimes while reading church history this ‘nailing to the door’ is seen as a sort of vandalism – you know- ‘he nailed them to the door!’
In actuality Luther was simply using the system of the day that one scholar would use in order to bring up an official point of contention with the church- Luther wrote the Thesis in Latin- which was the scholars language- not the language of the common man.
But Luther’s students quickly translated the Thesis into the vernacular [German] and it was said that in 2 weeks the paper made it into every village of Germany.
The challenge was a spark in the lives of many Christians who also believed the church was off track and that someone needed to rebuke her- and they picked Luther as the man for the job.
Now- the Catholic church wanted Luther to go to Rome and discuss the situation there- Luther’s friends warned him not to go- so they agreed to meet- a few times- in Germany.
The first meeting was in 1518 at Heidelberg- Luther actually gave a great defense of his argument and convinced some other top Catholic scholars that he was right [as a side note- the church had already scheduled this meeting because of a controversy that rose up between the Augustinian order of monks and the Dominicans. They were debating over which philosophy was more consistent with church teaching- Nominalism or Realism- for those of you who have read the posts this past year- I taught this when doing our posts on philosophy].
One man- Martin Bucer- wrote a stirring account of Luther- Bucer would later influence another young Swiss priest with Reformation teachings- his name is John Calvin.
As a side not Calvin will become one of the 3 big heavy hitters of the 16th century Reformation [Ulrich Zwingli is the 3rd].
Luther will meet again in Augsburg- and debate the leading Catholic scholar of the day- Cardinal Cajetan.
Then he goes to the city of Leipzig- and debates the leading German scholar- Johann Eck.
And his last meeting with the church will be at the famous Diet of Worms [pronounced- Vurmtz] and it will be here that Luther makes his last stand and officially will break with the church and launch the Protestant Reformation.
It should be noted that Luther held what we call a High Church position for most of this time- he still saw the church at Rome- and the Pope- as a legitimate expression of true Christianity- his beef was what he saw as an abuse of the system- by the priest Tetzel.
As time progressed- the other beliefs of Luther- founded upon the bible- did come into contention with Rome.
The main disagreement eventually became the teaching in the bible called Justification by faith. I have written a study on the topic on the blog- I have also written a bible study on the book of Romans and Galatians.
For those of you who can- try and read Romans chapters 2-4 and Galatians 2-3- these are the key chapters that cover the teaching.
Down the road I will cover the official teaching of both the Protestants and the Catholics on the doctrine of justification- the Catholic Council of Trent- referred to as the Counter Reformation- spells out the official teaching of Rome- and there are a few papers put out by the Reformers that explain their belief.
Since the 16th century Reformation there have been efforts made by Protestants and Catholics to bridge the gap as much as possible- to try to come to some common language since the historic split.
I like some of the efforts that have been made- and recently both groups put out a statement that jointly said we all believe that we are saved by Gods grace thru Christ- that’s good.
But as we get into some of the actual discussion- you will see the points at which the 2 sides disagreed- and the main one was on the act- the actual thing that happens- when a person is declared just- the Reformers said it takes place when a person has faith- believes- the Catholic church said it takes place at baptism- water baptism.
This- as well as a few other things- will be a defining distinction between the 2.
 WEEK IN REVIEW
So we end the week with Haley Barbour releasing killers- the media showing- over and over again- a viral video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers- and the Repubs accusing Romney of being a ‘Vulture’ capitalist pig.
Let’s start with the most important one first- last night I saw the Marine video- after a minute or 2 of thinking about it- and hearing Hillary and others decry the ‘outrageous action’ and saying that these Marines will be upheld to the highest standard of law- I thought ‘what a bunch of hypocrites’.
Yeah- we- as a nation- send these young kids to war- some do 3 or 4 terms over there- we are telling them ‘you go kill this enemy’- they often see their buddies getting killed.
They also see kids maimed- our guys coming back without all their body parts.
And in some cases- like the present court case against the soldiers at Haditha [a possible case where our guys killed some civilians] they do get things wrong.
But the fact that one of the most dehumanizing acts a person can engage in- the taking of another’s life- the fact that we ask these guys to do this- and then become outraged that they urinated on some dead bodies- well yes- they blew it- they made it more dangerous for our other men over there- I got all that.
But the media- who keep showing the ‘darn’ video- they are not helping.
Right now you have an Egyptian Christian going to trial because he posted a picture of Mickey and Minnie- Mickey had a beard and Minnie a veil.
So in Egypt- they now see this as a crime. Have you seen the silly image on the tube? Of course not- because the media know that the showing of the image might cause ‘outrage’ in the Muslim community- and that might lead to the deaths of people.
Then why do they feel so free to keep showing the stupid stunt the Marines did- surely the showing of this video will cause outrage in Muslim lands and lead to the deaths of people.
Yes- the guys did wrong- maybe they should face some type of military discipline- but the calls for prison are wrong- they ‘pissed’ on dead bodies- wrong- bad- especially in the Muslim world- but the act of taking their lives in the first place- the act we ask our young men to engage in- that by nature lowers a person’s view of another group.
Yes- professionals should be able to distinguish between the enemy and the degrading of another person- but in practice this distinction isn’t always so easy- so let’s punish the men- in a way commensurate with the act- but jail? No way.
Okay- we were also treated to the public hysteria over killers walking the streets of Mississippi- you know- Barbour [Governor] let out all the rapists- child molesters and killers!
Are we seeing somewhat of a political overreaction? Sure. Did he pardon some people that should not have been pardoned? Probably.
But you have some of the opposing political figures in the state- saying that they are trying to track the killers down and they can’t find them.
Wow- you mean all Barbour’s gang are on the loose- stalking women and children right now?
All governors have in fact pardoned killers in the past. Now- should this act be done sparingly? Yes. Because you are indeed wiping the record clean- and in cases of sexual assault- well the public might not know who they are dealing with [like getting hired at a school or something].
But in truth- about 90 % of the guys pardoned were already free- and many of them were out of prison for years. The pardon allows them to find jobs [because many can’t get work when the rap sheet shows up] and maybe become an asset to society in some way.
So not all the pardons- are these 200 killers out on the run! They were not accurately describing the thing- and the Dem. Attorney General who keeps going on the air saying they are doing their best to get the killers- but they ‘hit the ground running’ well he’s simply playing the game.
And let’s end with ‘the Vulture’. Yes- Gingrich and Perry have gone after Romney and they pulled out the Capitalist Pig card.
They are attacking Romney over his years at Bain Capital- because he was a Corporate Raider and he cost people their jobs.
Then some on the Right have gone after those who are making this attack- they are saying that conservatives should not be making a charge like this- because all Romney [or corporate raiders] do is simply a part of Capitalism- and should not be questioned.
The movie they are using as an example is Wall St. – they are kinda saying that the picture the attackers are trying to present is one where Romney looks like Gordon Gecko.
I think a better movie would be Pretty Woman. If you remember- Richard Gere played the role of a corporate raider- and this movie really tells the story better [though the movie is about a prostitute!]
Gere comes to town to shut down a shipping business [actually builds ships!] and during the process he sees the point of view of the older owner of the business- and Gere instead says let’s try and keep this business open- yes- to make money- but also to fulfill the role of being a good corporate public servant- that does care about the workers as well as the stock holders.
This idea is noble- and I think in some ways we should bring this type of ‘just thinking’ into the Capitalist picture.
Now- not all ‘profit’ making is wrong- we know that. And if there comes a time that a business has to shut the doors because that’s the only way for other parts of the investing firm to be viable- okay- that’s fine.
But there is nothing wrong with asking ‘capitalist pigs’ to not only see the bottom line- but to also view the worker as an asset- and trying to keep their jobs should also be a goal of business- not just cash.
And there are many C.E.O.’s who do teach this- years ago I read Stephen Covey’s books- and he does talk about this.
So all in all- there is some truth to the attacks- to ask the question.
Okay- that’s it for now- lets pray for these Marines- they are taking lots of heat- and sure- maybe they screwed up big time- but they did nothing worthy of prison or court martial- and we should all know that.
1775- WHAT DID HE SAY?
Let’s do a little review today. I know the history posts go a little long sometimes- and many Christians do not see the value in studying church history.
But I have found over the years that a lot of independent type churches- good men- good people- but cut off from the broader church- well these churches have a tendency to get off in a rut- a particular doctrine or style of teaching- and after a while it becomes impossible to get these good church folk back on the balanced course.
A few examples. Many years ago- as a young Pastor- I had lots of good Pastor friends who too were doing their best to do what they felt God wanted.
At the time- I began having difficulty with many of the most popular interpretations of the bible that these good men were using.
After a while I realized that some of the stuff was so off course- that if they didn’t make some major course corrections at the time- that they were going to end up spending their entire Pastorate teaching stuff that is out right false.
I have talked a lot about this over the years- and the examples are too numerous to cover them all- but a good example is the ‘Camel going thru the eye of a Needle’ verse.
One time Jesus and his men were going thru town and a young rich guy asks Jesus what he must do to be saved.
A pretty straight forward question- right to the point.
Jesus tells the guy to keep the law- the guy asks which ones.
Ah- now you’re digging yourself in brother.
So Jesus says to love God and his neighbor- these are the top ones.
He asks ‘and who is my neighbor’?
Jesus goes on and gives an explanation- and he also tells the guy to go and sell all he has and give it to the poor- and follow him.
The guy goes away sad because he was rich.
Then Jesus says ‘it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a Camel to go thru the Eye of a Needle’.
The disciples [I think Peter?] say ‘then who can be saved’?
Jesus says with men it is impossible- but not with God- with God all things are possible.
[just a quick side note- I haven’t read all these stories in a while- trust me- they are all in the bible- but I might have mixed a few together- but the main point stays the same]
Okay- in context- what could Jesus be saying about the camel and the needle?
It sure seems like he’s using a figure of speech that would mean ‘look- the guy is too attached to his money to fully give himself over to being a follower of me- maybe down the road he will change- but he’s not ready yet’.
Seems reasonable to me- don’t you think?
But wait- in the group of pastors/teachers that were popular at the time- one of the main teachings was how to get rich- and they saw financial increase as the main thing- I mean that’s what they focused on all the time.
So what do you do with verses like these?
You simply change them- you make them say what you want.
So the ‘true’ explanation for the Camel and the Needle became ‘the Eye of the Needle is the name of a low passage way thru the wall into the city- and the merchants- if they have lots of stuff- well the Camel has to stoop low to get thru’.
Aha- so what seems to mean ‘rich folk will have a hard time making the kingdom’ really means something else- as a matter of fact- it means the opposite- because the Camels that have to ‘scooch’ belong to the owners who have a lot of goods- thus the Camel has to get low.
Okay- maybe as rank amateurs this stuff was not the unpardonable sin- but many of these men are still teaching this type of stuff- and this one example is the tip of the iceberg- I could go on for a long time quoting all them but that’s not the point for now.
The main point is- if Christians separate themselves from the broader church- not just talking about ‘going to church’ but talking about the broad understanding that the people of God have- the books and teachings of those who have gone before us- not just one small group- but the whole community- then we will avoid these kinds of pitfalls.
As we do a few more posts in the coming weeks on church history- we will see this was one of the things restored by the Protestants Reformers during the 16th century.
Luther restored what’s referred to as the Literal Sense- that when you read the bible- you should be able to take it at face value- as much as possible.
Sure- you also want to ‘hear God’ speak in a personal way- but if what your hearing is the exact opposite of what the text is saying- well then we do have a problem.
1776- HE’S JUST WEIRD
Yesterday I caught the 15th Repub debate [too many!] and you had the questioners and pres. hopefuls try their best.
Juan Williams [the Black Fox news guy] did ask a question that has come up before on a reference Newt uses ‘Obama is the food stamp pres.’
Now- when this first came out- Newt and others defended the phrase- they said that more people have been put on food stamps under Obama than any other pres.
The other view said that Newt is playing to the racist crowd- in an underhanded way- and the term is really a race thing.
Okay- what do I think? I have no idea- nor does anybody else. So instead of insisting it’s a racist thing- just let the people judge.
Those in the Black community will be voting over 90% for Obama- is this just because he is Black?
Some say ‘no- we vote Dem historically’ okay- but in politics- if you had 97 % of Whites refusing to vote for a Black man- well you would call that racist.
This past Friday the S and P downgraded 9 European countries debt. France, Italy- Spain- a few more.
Now- this was no surprise- but some were hoping it would not come so soon.
Then why did it happen?
The ratings agency said the actions the Euro Zone countries are taking are simply not sufficient enough to deal with the problem.
The numbers also came out on our trade deficit- they showed that our sales to Europe went down a lot- more than expected. So the growing Euro recession is indeed going to have an effect on the U.S. economy.
One of the nations that got downgraded was France. France and Germany are the 2 biggest contributors to the bailout fund for the other nations.
Frances downgrade will make it more expensive for them to borrow- and will put pressure on the bailout fund. Germany was not downgraded.
As I watch the news- survey the scene for this coming year- I see a lot of denial- in politics- economics- etc.
I see both sides of the aisle justifying their skewed views in order to promote- or attack- the side they don’t like.
I saw a clip of some sick guy in a wheel chair- weighed about 80 pounds- he’s wheeled up to Romney. He’s asking him a question at some campaign rally.
You can barely hear the guy- he’s sick and weak and frail. The question ‘do you really want to put me in jail because I need to smoke weed to live’.
After a few more times repeating the question- Romney catches on.
He does tell the man- in a nice way- that he does not support medical marijuana.
So as Romney walks away- his liberal buddy shouts ‘are you going to walk away from a man who’s in a wheel chair and ignore his plight’!
Yea- you tell him Mr. righteous.
Romney says he didn’t ignore him- he answered him.
Then you had the little girl ask Bachman why she did not want her 2 mommies to love each other.
And the other night- one of the major news networks was covering the gay marriage issue- they showed 2 of the sweetest grandmas- you know- they were in love.
I mean these nice ladies looked like they were about to make homemade candy apples for the trick or treaters.
They were the example they found to show us how evil Santorum and all the other ‘anti gay marriage’ folk are.
What’s wrong with all this? These lopsided ways to showcase a story- to start with either the worst/best example of a thing [the anti gay groups also show the gay parade marchers- in drag- when they discuss the subject] this is pitting one side against another- and it does not help the conversation.
About 6 months ago I was watching MSNBC and I heard Matthews talking about the pres campaign. He said it is possible that if Romney gets nominated and some on the right [Evangelicals] don’t support him because he belongs to this ‘weird’ religion- that he might be a flawed candidate.
He then went on and said that Romney’s name is not Mitt- its Willard.
I guess its true- I really don’t care to check.
Then as the weeks went by- he kept talking about Romany as Willard- he pushed on his Mormon faith- and last night I heard him say ‘watch this response Romney gives- I mean- he’s just weird- that’s the only way to describe him’.
Ah- he waited all these months- thinking he’s secretly sending the White House messages- and if they don’t pick them up- darn- Mathews will carry the load himself.
Mathews was incensed when people used the middle name of the president- his description of ‘Willard’ and his religion as ‘weird’ would never fly if you were talking about a Muslim.
As the year progresses- I think we would all do well to try and focus on the actual positions people have- don’t read too much into the paranoid scenarios- from the right or the left.
I will end with one more example. Bob Herbert- N.Y. Time’s columnist. During the Obama campaign tried to ‘expose’ the secret racist messages that were tied into the opposing commercials [run by Bill and Hillary].
In one commercial they showed you a picture of the Washington Monument- and a few other historic sites.
Herbert went on to say that the showing of ‘this structure’ [it’s a tall structure- ‘sticking out’ into the empty sky].
Herbert said that the subliminal message was ‘watch out for the Black man- Obama- because he- like all Blacks- has one thing on his mind’.
Of course you see what he thinks the showing of the structure meant.
So as we navigate the year- thru the Willard’s and the dying wheel chair pot smokers- let’s hear both sides and try and simply choose our candidate based on these things- not on his color- or his religious views- or on any other of a number of accusations made by the opposing side.
We just celebrated Martin Luther King day- he was a great man who taught non violent protests- who said we should judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin- I couldn’t agree more.
1777- SHIP WRECK
By now I’m sure you have all heard the audio conversation between the captain of the Italian cruise ship and the Coast guard.
As a news watcher- when I first heard the tragic story- I thought ‘geez- let me give the Italian brother a break’ you know- as an Italian myself- yeah- I want to root as much as possible for the home land.
I’m still mad that I don’t have a Churchill or FDR figure in my past history.
Sure- I’ve read the history- and for a short time as a kid I tried to convince myself that El Duce had some honorable qualities- but heck- who was I kidding.
So as the story broke- I heard Captain Schettino’s side of it. He insisted he acted heroically- that he was the last man off the ship and he struck something in the water that no one knew was there [Italian Loch Ness?]
But the audio recording told the whole thing. Yes- I sat in anticipation- hoping for the best- maybe hearing the Captain saying ‘I refuse to abandon ship- for the love of homeland and country’ heck- you never know.
But as I heard the Coast guard telling the captain ‘get back on the ship- what are you doing’.
Schettino said it was dark and they had no lights.
The guard says ‘you have people stuck on the ship- some are dying’.
Captain ‘how many are on the ship’?
Guard ‘I don’t know Schettino- you are supposed to be telling me’!
Damn it Schettino- damn it.
Okay- don’t want to make fun- yes- it’s tragic- and people have died. But obviously we need to have some better policing of these cruise ship guys- it seems as if they have gone off course before- doing a favor for a fellow crew member- and these guys messed up big time.
Are there any famous ship wreck stories in the bible? Sure- Acts chapter 27.
The apostle Paul is on his way to Rome- he is a prisoner at the time.
The ship they are on gets caught up in a storm- things look bad.
Paul prays and tells his shipmates ‘don’t worry- an angel appeared to me and assured me that we will all survive’.
They try to last the storm out by staying afloat from shore- then after a few days they try to make it for land- to beach the ship.
But some of the crew try a daring stunt- they pretend they are going to lower some anchors but instead they are lowering their little get away lifeboats [yes- they were pulling a Schettino!]
And Paul tells the Roman soldier ‘look- the angel said we will all make it- but the deal will only work if everyone stays on the ship’.
They cut the ropes to the lifeboat and head for shore.
On the way they hit a reef and the ship gets stuck and starts to break up.
They abandon ship- and swim to shore.
Okay- good story.
By the way- this chapter gives lots of historical events and places.
A few years ago an archeologist read this story form the bible and traced down the exact spot where the wreck might be- 2 thousand years later.
He found the actual anchors to the boat.
So this week hasn’t been the best for the reputation of my homeland- I mean the S and P just can’t wait to downgrade the debt- and then we have to hear old brother Schettino being rebuked by the Coast Guard ‘Schettino- okay- get on our boat- but your gonna be in big trouble’.
Yes Schettino- you sure are.
1778- TO DIG [PIPE] OR NOT- THAT IS THE QUESTION
Okay- hate to carry over the last post- but I figured we gave Schettino a day to gather his thoughts- maybe realize the error of his way and man up.
So as I watched the news coverage- the Japanese animated videos that depict the Captain in a life boat- yelling back to the ship ‘stay on board’ and then the animation of him walking the plank- I realized things are not playing well for my Italian friend.
Then the last straw- word came out that Schettino told the authorities that he was not abandoning ship- but as the boat rocked he slipped and fell into the lifeboat.
Oh my poor Schettino- please stop- for the love of our homeland- please!
Okay I saw the ‘big’ news of the day- Obama decided not to go ahead with the Canadian oil sands pipeline.
This pipeline was a deal that was in the works for a few years. Canada has lots of this type of oil and they wanted to pipe it down to the gulf states [I think here in Tx.?] so we could refine the stuff.
This last year it became a hot button issue for both Repubs and the Pres.
The Repubs said it would be a jobs maker- and also help with our oil supply.
Some Dems [environmentalists] said it would be a bad thing. Though you did have some union guys who wanted it.
As a news watcher/reader- what most of the insiders thought was that the deal was going to pass- and the Obama administration did ‘signal’ to Canada that the deal would be on- just wait a little while [politics].
Of course if you have a major deal like this- the company does need to know ahead of time so they can make the preparations and all.
So when Obama said no yesterday- it was a surprise. Canada put out a statement and said they would re submit the application- and they ‘expected’ that it would be approved quickly.
They sounded mad- like they did indeed get the assurance that it would go thru- and then it didn’t.
Why did the Pres say no?
Well he says the 2 months ‘limit’ on his decision [imposed by congress] was not enough time to study whether or not it was an environmentally safe deal.
It should be noted that the EPA- who this last year has been known to make ‘over’ protective decisions- did approve this plan.
The Presidents job council recently recommended that it should pass.
And some pro Obama supporters did want it.
The Pres. has made the decision [this has been reported] to go hard this campaign year against congress- kind of stir up his base and show himself as someone not to be pushed around- so it is possible that’s what he did here.
Real big deal? Not really- but political.
While this deal wasn’t as great as those on the right made it sound- it also wasn’t a bad thing.
Right now we are very close to a shooting war with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Why?
1-5th of the world’s oil is shipped thru this waterway [from the Persian Gulf].
So the U.S. has a Naval port off Bahrain- and we have treated this waterway as a national defense issue- that if Iran [or any other nation] ever threatened to close the waterway- that we would go to war if necessary to defend it.
Okay- just as a policy- say if I told you that there was gas for your car down the street- that the field down your block had a lot of gas- but we need to dig it up and it might be a mess- maybe it might pollute the air down the block- but that’s the cost for the stuff.
Then you say ‘wait- what about that field across the lake- if we dig there it won’t look as bad as the field down the block’.
Okay- but the owner of that field actually hates you- they will use some of the money you will pay to promote terrorists who will someday kill your kids- Oh- and the lake is filled with dangerous stuff- so we will also have to patrol the lake for ever- just to make sure no one stops the oil ships crossing back over.
So as an overall policy- we have chosen to limit the environmental danger- and the price way pay for this is very high.
So we as a nation have to decide what’s more vital- the lives of our kids on these ships- or the risk of a possible oil spill from a pipe.
These issues usually get lost on the right or the left- but if the country can’t have a serious discussion- then in the end we all will lose.
We will be just like Schettino- looking for that life boat.
1779- KEN ANDERSON [district judge- Williamson county- TX] TEXAS SIZED INJUSTICE
Yesterday I read another Texas ‘Justice’ [injustice] story and thought it was time to do another post on this problem.
The case was about a disabled deaf man- who only spoke thru sign language [can’t really defend yourself that way in court].
He was accused of molesting a child and sent to prison for many years. Eventually another person who had committed multiple child molestation crimes was found to be guilty instead.
It took many years for the real evidence to come out- and they finally freed the innocent man.
The statement from the prosecutor who wrongly convicted him said ‘that’s what we do in Texas- we free the innocent and put the guilty in prison’. Huh?
And just how did the innocent get put in prison? You framed the guy- that’s how.
Another famous case is the case of Michael Morton. I have read abut 3-4 articles on this case this past year.
Morton was a young man married to his high school sweetheart. He had a young son and one night he went to work and when he got home the next day he found his wife- dead in their home.
He called the cops and also reported that her purse was stolen.
The investigators also found a bloody bandana in a field behind the home and the 3.5 year old son told the police that another man killed his mom- not his dad.
Despite all of this- prosecutor KEN ANDERSON- got a conviction on the guy and sent him away.
They said he killed his wife because she refused to have sex with him [how in the heck did they come up with that?]
He always maintained his innocence and after many years of fighting to get the bandana tested for DNA- KEN ANDERSON fought to keep it from being tested- they found the DNA of another man- who had already committed similar crimes- on the bandana.
The lawyers for Morton also found out that the prosecutor withheld the fact that the son told the investigators that another person killed his mom.
Even the mother of the victim said she thought her son and law was innocent.
Morton was recently released- he is now 57- he was a young man when he went to prison.
His son- and his family all went on with their lives without him- thinking he was the killer of the mom.
It was also revealed that the cops knew that the wife’s credit card- the card the husband said was stolen- was indeed used a few days after the murder.
The prosecutor- now a district judge- obviously engaged in deception in this case.
Yet he sits on the bench today- still acting in his capacity as a judge.
These past few years as I have read lots of the cases of innocent people being framed by Texas courts- I have come to see that in many of these cases- when the prosecutors take a stance in court and say ‘this man killed his wife’ or ‘this man molested this child’ when they do this- and it’s an innocent man they are accusing- the bible does indeed call this a serious sin.
It is baring false witness- under oath.
Now- many Christians- even those in these positions- do not realize the seriousness of this offense.
This act of taking the position of the accuser is not a biblical principle of justice found in scripture.
The biblical system of law and courts found in the bible- the one instituted by God- does speak about having 2 or more witnesses in a case- and of course we have a judge who decides- but there is no accuser- who actually makes a false charge against an innocent man- yet this act happens a lot in our current system.
I believe cases like Morton’s should carry criminal penalties against the accuser/prosecutor- especially if it is found out later that he engaged in unlawful activity to obtain the conviction- and then did all in his power to suppress the evidence from coming out.
Anderson fought for 7 years to prevent the bandana from being tested.
It is inconceivable for Anderson to have been aware of the use of the dead woman’s card- and the fact that other witnesses said there was a strange man roaming the area that night- and then to have the bloody bandana found in the field.
For all of this evidence to have been known by him- and to still go after the husband- it is truly criminal in my view.
As Christians- yes we believe in justice and law- but to convict a disabled deaf man- because he can’t really defend himself- or to send an innocent man away for all those years- for others to have raised his son- this is not just- this is unjust.
1780- KENYAN MUSLIM- OPEN MARRIAGE- AND SAUL ALYNSKI
Last night we had another Repub debate. As the week wore on we were also treated to all the various views that divide the right from the left in our country.
Some elderly woman referred to Obama as a Kenyan Muslim during a Santorum rally.
John King ‘infamously’ began a debate by asking Newt whether or not his ex was telling the truth when she says he wanted an open marriage.
And Newt mentioned that Obama is a radical after his mentor Saul Alynski.
To those ‘in the know’ well- we have heard this name before- as a news consumer who comments on all things political- well I’ll admit I listen to all sides.
One of the biggest ‘sides’ to hear is Rush. He is the most influential radio host in the right wing world.
I also listen to the voices on the left- I watch Al Jazeera news [not left per se- but they air on Link TV- a progressive media station] as well as Gores Current TV network.
So over the last few years Alynski has come up a lot.
He is basically this guy who gave Rules- procedures to implement change on a big scale.
Many on the left used his book to try and change stuff- and Obama has been influenced by his writings before.
So when you drop the name- you’re basically playing into the narrative that Obama is a left wing radical.
Of course the left goes ballistic when ever some old white lady thinks Obama is Muslim ‘how dare anyone ever even think this!’
Why do some people [not me] think this?
This last year I have watched some on the left try to depict our President as a young Black kid who was brought up by a single mom- played basketball and hung out with his friends at the corner inner city park- and when this narrative is given- it’s contrasted with the rights ‘picture’ of Obama as a different type of person.
The left defends Obama against the rights false view of him.
Now- as someone who does not hate the Pres- and also has taken the Pres at his word on both the Muslim thing and the Birth Certificate thing- I must admit that some on the right have some ‘evidence’ to go by when they perceive Obama as a different type of person.
Now- when I say ‘different’ I mean the upbringing of Obama was not the classic ‘grew up in the inner city’ type upbringing. Now- I don’t use the ‘inner city’ story/view when I speak about our Pres- because not only is that an incorrect view- but those on the left that use it [MSNBC- Matthews] do not realize that their very use of the narrative is in itself racist.
For anyone- on the left r right- to try and defend a Black man by saying ‘look- he’s just like any other Black kid USA- hung out in the ghetto with his buddies’ geez- you call that a defense of the Black Man?
But the actual story of Obama is different- and there are certain aspects of it that do play into the Kenyan/Muslim theme.
First- the president was raised most of his life in Hawaii [not Chicago] and as a young kid he did live in Indonesia for a few years- Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.
He did indeed go to school with Muslim boys- and spent a few years in this type of environment.
Second- Obama said on national TV ‘My Muslim Faith’.
3rd– Hillary Clinton released a picture of Obama during the campaign that showed Obama in full Muslim garb.
4th– Obama wrote a book- Dreams of my Father- in which he explained his journey as a kid who grew up without his dad in the home- and how he later came to learn his father’s struggle- a different one than the Black Civil rights struggle in our country- but yet a struggle for the Black man to be free from Colonial rule.
Kenya- as many other African countries- was ruled by European powers for many years.
These Black families were actually raised with another man’s culture as theirs- that’s why in the war in Libya- you had Gadhaffi using mercenaries that came from the Sub Saharan part of the continent- and these Black fighters spoke French!
So Obama explained- not in a bad way- that he came to grips with his father’s struggle- called anti colonialism- and how he also came to respect his culture as he grew up.
Now- his dad of course is Muslim- he named Obama with an openly Muslim type name- and Obama has made statements that he is Muslim.
One more thing- before Obama started running for pres- he told an ambassador from another country [Egypt?] that his faith too was Muslim.
This political figure has stayed by this story till this day.
Okay- after reading all this- the question might be ‘how can anybody think he is not Muslim!’
Like I said- I give the pres the benefit of the doubt- but it would not be a stretch for some elderly White woman to think this- and when the media act like ‘where in the world would anybody ever get an idea like this- or how could anyone ever think that Obama might be ‘anti- colonial’.
Well you can see where these ideas come from- and they are not as far out there as some would make you think.
Okay- these things- and the medias unwillingness to truly vet Obama during his run for pres- I mean Obama said in one of his books that he did ‘a little blow’ in college [Cocaine].
There was never one question on ‘where did you get the blow from’ or ‘how long did you use’ or ‘how much is a little’.
I mean it is illegal to do- and if you open up a pres debate by asking ‘your ex wife says’ well than you might want to ask- just once- how did you obtain the blow.
But the media steered clear of anything that might be deemed racially tinged- and they gave Obama a pass.
So that’s why the Gingrich line works so well- his attack against the medias love affair with the pres- most discerning news watchers see this.
But wait- if you only watch MSNBC- you would think that Obama grew up in the inner city- shooting hoops with his buddies at the corner park- yeah- if you watch MSNBC that’s what you might think- and you wouldn’t even know that a thought like that is racist.
1781- MAJORITY RULE?
I was going to finish the last post on the Protestant Reformation study we started last month- but we do have a few news items that I think we should cover.
First- for those of you who haven’t read my posts for a while- you need to know that I critique both Repubs and Dems- sometimes severely.
For instance I was [am] a very ‘anti war’ person. I felt the Iraq war- and the long land occupation in Afghanistan were bad mistakes.
I do feel we were indeed justified to ‘hit back’ after 9-11- but the massive ground wars- and all the various reasons given- well I just felt the strategy was flawed.
I also have sided with Progressives on immigration- I take a very non conservative- pro liberal view on immigration- almost to the degree of being a ‘Sanctuary City’ supporter- yeah- that bad.
So I say that to say this- when I critique the President- trust me- I have done it with both sides of the aisle.
Yesterday I read a scathing column by Maureen Dowd [NY Times] and she described the President as someone who was aloof- isolated and has surrounded himself with Chicago insider friends- who all tell him that the American people are not worthy of him.
Now- for whatever reason- just about all the articles Dowd has done this past year have been strongly criticizing Obama.
Dowd- as well as the whole N.Y. Times crew- are pretty liberal in their politics.
Then why do this?
Another NY Times reporter just put out a book on Obama- she said basically the same thing- and she covered the internal conflicts in the White House- things between Michele Obama and the staff [former chief of staff Rahm Immanuel].
The book [The Obama’s] was basically a tell all. She talked about some heated arguments that the staff had over Michele.
When Michele Obama was asked about the portrayal- she said that she’s tired of other people [White people] calling her an angry Black woman.
I heard Jodie say she did not understand why she said this- because in the book she does not bring up color- simply reported the facts.
The progressive media [liberal view] love to use the race card against those on the right [I am not on the right!] but if you dare use it against them- they become incensed [Geraldine Ferraro- Bill- Hillary Clinton- etc.]
So for various reasons- the more liberal media have decided to not back Obama the way they did at the start.
Now- the point here is not simply political gossip- but the reality of how much we see/read in the news is truly honest- and how much is spin that prevents the true story from coming out.
These past few weeks we have had some disturbing news about the so called Arab Spring countries.
Egypt held their first parliamentary elections and voted in a majority of Islamists. Now- many have said that sure- the Muslim Brotherhood has made great gains- but that’s ‘the will of the people’.
I heard former pres Jimmy Carter say this.
His team went over to monitor the elections [he has a group that does this] and they said ‘yes- the Muslims took over- but we must all respect the voice of the people- if that’s what the majority wants- then that’s a great thing’.
What’s wrong with this? The fact is the Muslim Brotherhood do want to institute Shariah law in the land.
Now- many have chosen to work with this group [Obama has] and the simple reality is they are a force and we will have to deal with them some day.
So fine- I understand.
But how many of us would be singing the praises of a right wing Christian group- who wanted to institute law based on the 10 commandments- and wherever this law is already enacted they execute gays- subjugate women- and even kill the women who commit ‘adultery’ [which in some cases means you were raped].
Now- that’s Shariah law. Would Carter be saying ‘well- if that’s what the Americans want- to vote in a bunch of right wing Christians who will do this- then we must respect that this is the voice of the people’.
Where are the voices defending those who are being oppressed and killed under these regimes.
Our ‘dear friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain- they are all guilty of these human rights abuses- yet we are silent.
It so sad that Carter- and those in the media who I have heard praising the fact that this is ‘the voice of the people’.
It makes no difference if the majority wanted it- if what they want is still oppressive- then we should not be so quick to praise it.
I read 2 stories this week about Libya- the headlines were ‘Gadhaffi’s forces take back city’.
I thought the guy was dead.
Well yes- he is. But his side have regrouped and did take back a key city in the West- Banni Walid.
Now- for them to have done this is big news- but you wouldn’t know that by the coverage- because the media are not truly covering it [the articles I read were small and hidden in the back pages].
The other Libyan article was even more surprising- protestors rose up in the Eastern city of Ben Ghazi- a city that has been under Rebel Influence for many years- this is the eastern City that sparked the original protests.
People rose up and stormed the official government headquarters and ransacked the place.
The new leader of the country was hiding in the back.
Iraq- since we pulled out a few weeks ago- that country is rapidly descending into a Civil War and it looks like they will split up between the Kurds- the Sunni’s and the Shiites.
Hate to admit this- but Biden was right.
So- after this bad track record- all the places where we have backed the Arab Spring- they are worse off now than before- that’s a fact.
They are more unstable- the Christian population is in much more danger- and none of them have been able to elect and institute a better regime than the one they kicked out.
So what are we doing about that?
Nothing- instead we are continuing with our call for ‘you bad leaders need to step down’ [Syria].
Many people in Syria do not want Assad to go- many of the Christians in the country fear that if he topples- they will face the same persecution that their brothers are facing in Egypt.
When the Islamist parties take over- that’s terrible for the Christian minorities in these countries.
So why no big media coverage of the failures over these things?
It just would not look good for Obama in an election year.
But like I said at the top- some are growing tired of what they see as an aloof president [the liberal press said this- not the right] and as they grow tired they begin reporting the stuff- both the good and the bad.
I have no appetite for how many arguments Michele Obama had with Rahm Emmanuel- or how ‘depressed’ Obama is [the Times almost ran a story on this- they decided not to run it].
But I am concerned that we report the truth about the Arab Spring- that if the toppling of these leaders has lead to great instability- and the death of many Christians- then we should not be saying ‘well- this is the will of the people’.
Whether or not the majority agree to oppress the minority- it’s still wrong- and it’s a shame that the Western media won’t report it.
1782- PROTESTANT REFORMATION CONCLUSION
Today let’s finish up the study on the Protestant Reformation. We left off on Luther disputing with the church over the doctrine of how a person becomes just in the sight of God- is it by works or faith?
Now- to the surprise of many Protestants [and Catholics!] both sides agreed that a person cannot be justified by works.
Yes- the Catholic Church rejected what was known as Pelagianism. In the early centuries of the church there was a Catholic priest- named Pelagius- who taught that people had the ability within themselves to obey Gods law and become saved that way.
He rejected the doctrine of original sin and another famous bishop- Saint Augustine- would refute Pelagius and teach salvation comes by the Grace of God. The official Catholic position was to reject Pelagius and accept Augustine.
Okay- then where’s the difference?
The church council that spells it out is the Council of Trent [named after the Italian city where the council took place in the 1500’s- Trento].
This council is often referred to as the Counter Reformation. The church rejected the Protestant line- but also acknowledged the need for reform and made some changes.
This is the council where the church rejects Pelagianism- and also says the position of Luther [Justification by Faith ALONE] was flawed.
The church appealed to the New Testament letter of Saint James- where James uses an example from the life of Abraham [found in Genesis 22] where Abraham obeys God and is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar.
Of course this never happens- God was simply testing Abraham- but James says this act of obedience justified him in Gods sight.
James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not by faith ALONE’.
The argument from Rome was Faith played THE major role in justification- but was not sufficient by itself- there had to be righteous works eventually associated with it in order for God to say ‘you are just’ [saved].
Luther disagreed and said God justified Abraham before he had good works- we find this in Genesis 15. God says to Abraham ‘look- count all the stars- so shall your offspring be’ and Walla- the bible also says Abraham was justified in God’s eyes the moment he believed the promise.
Actually they both are.
I have taught this a few times over the years- and it would take too much time to re-do right now.
But I believe James and Paul [the 2 who debate this in the bible] are simply looking at different aspects of salvation/justification.
Paul emphasized faith- and James showed us how true faith always has works with it.
When you read the statements that came out from the council of Trent- some of them do seem to indicate that both sides might have been talking past each other at some points.
In the heat of the day they were too quick to condemn the other side- without really trying hard to achieve unity [like politics!].
The 6th session of Trent was the one where the church dealt with justification [how we become saved in Gods sight].
Rome made a distinction between mortal and Venial sin in the council- the church said that Baptism is the INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE of justification. Yet faith is the Root- Foundation and Initial act that justifies.
Rome also taught that Mortal sin kills the grace in the soul that brings justification- and when a person commits a mortal sin- they need the ‘2nd plank of justification’ in order to be brought back into a state of Grace.
This 2nd Plank is the Sacrament of Penance [confession]. Catholic Moral Theologians use an example to show the difference between Mortal and Venial sin.
Drinking- if you take a drink [alcohol] not a sin. If you get tipsy- Venial- and if you get flat drunk- mortal.
This is a true teaching by the way- not making this up.
Catholic scholars are not in total agreement on all the Mortal/Venial sins.
Some teach that missing Mass on Sunday is a Mortal sin.
I just threw this in to show you the debates that take place.
The teachings from Trent are referred to as Tridentine.
The Protestants [early on] rejected the belief that a person can lose Gods grace once he has it- later on the Protestants would divide- severely- over this teaching- Predestination and the Perseverance of the Saints.
But early on all the major Reformers did indeed teach this.
Luther believed in the doctrine of Predestination just as much- if not more- than John Calvin.
But sometimes in these history shows they get this wrong and say Luther and Calvin disagreed on it- that’s a common mistake that you hear every so often.
Luther actually wrote a book dedicated to the subject [The Bondage of the Will] Calvin never wrote a book solely on the subject.
Okay- as we end this brief study of the Protestant Reformation- you could also call it a primer on Catholic doctrine [short one].
Why is it important that we study this?
In John chapter 17 Jesus said that he desired unity for all of Gods people- and many of these divisions- which date back 500 years- are commonly misunderstood on both sides.
It is common in our day to run across an ex Catholic who might say ‘you know- I left the church because I don’t believe I need to confess to a priest’ or ‘the Catholic church teaches you are saved by works’.
The original Reformers did not have a problem with confession- the Lutherans carried the practice over into their communion.
And like I just showed you- the Catholic church rejected the doctrine of being saved ‘by works’ [Pelagianism] and simply emphasized the teaching found in the bible- the book of James- and focused more on James than Paul [who the protestants focus on].
So yes- there are still differences- but if we are not informed- then it makes it harder to strive for unity- and at the end of the day God does desire unity for all his people.
The other day I quoted the great Civil rights leader- MLK. In one of his famous speeches that’s played when we celebrate his life- you hear Martin say that not only was he seeking unity among the races- but also in the church.
He said he wanted to see Catholics and Protestants- as well as Blacks and Whites- sit down together- he referred to us all as Gods kids.
I think we should strive to achieve the desire of Martin- and Jesus.
1783- THE BISHOP
Kinda wanted to cover some contemporary issues going on in the ‘church world’ being we just spent a few weeks in the ancient history stuff.
But it might take too long- some current debates in Evangelical circles concern a recent round table discussion with T.D. Jakes- a man I like- but he got in some hot water, again- because of his background as a Pentecostal Oneness minister.
This group has disagreed with historic Christianity on the Trinity- and over the years some of the Reformed brothers [Protestants] have hit him hard on the issue.
So in the recent discussion it happened again- basically Jakes says he holds to the Trinitarian view today [One God- 3 Persons] though his background stated it by saying ‘One God- 3 manifestations’.
You say ‘gee John- doesn’t sound like something to kill each other over’- well- we do- trust me- we do.
I have known and been friends with Pentecostal Oneness brothers before- and I personally accept them as Christians.
No- I don’t use the words they use when defining the Trinity- but I don’t completely out and out reject them a total heretics.
I used to listen to Jakes- and for the most part I felt comfortable with him- the main reason I do not tune in to these guys anymore is the whole persona thing- ministries- ‘churches’ huge organizations- who for the most part are clearing houses for the well intended Pastors- but the entire image of the ministry becomes the persona of a man.
This type of atmosphere actually violates the principles we find in the bible- that the churches in the bible did not have the image/gifts of a person- no matter how good that person is- as the central organizing principle of the group.
Basically- in the bible- the churches were truly centered around the person of Christ.
And in many contemporary situations- well- everything [especially the ‘tithes’] usually goes to the promoting of the image of a person [TV- teaching materials- etc.].
And very often millions are spent promoting a person- which is a violation of the principles of leadership we find in the New Testament.
So anyway- I said that to simply say I always liked Jakes- and yes- as somewhat of a history buff- sure- I know the difficulty with his past connections [the actual term for the ‘heresy’ is called Modalism- which describes the belief that God is one who manifests in 3- they don’t say ‘3 persons’].
So I know the scoop- but the reason I don t watch/hear these men anymore is because I just get turned off by the whole ‘dial 1-800- Bishop’ type thing- I mean I like reading/studying from ‘real’ Bishops.
Men like N.T. Wright- former Bishop in the Church of England- or Bishop Sheen- a popular Catholic Bishop who you can catch on the tube every so often- yes- ‘real’ bishops in the sense that they are well versed in a wide field of learning- Philosophy- scholarship- church history- yeah- I like hearing Bishops.
But in today’s world- you have Bishops ‘ordaining’ Bishops by the boat loads- and when the way you contact them is thru a 1-800 number- well then I think we have a problem.
1784- 4TH QUARTER
Okay- it’s the end of the month and I have yet to comment on the last quarter of last year.
Those of you who have read my posts near the end of the year- you saw that I was more bearish than bullish on the economy.
Some smart guys were beginning to say they felt the last 3 months of the year might show a 3.5 percent growth rate.
I did think these guys were too ‘exuberant’ [Greenspans Irrational exuberance- remember?] But I figured I’d wait and see- and sure enough the numbers are out- and I was ‘more’ right than them.
The economy grew at a 2.8 annualized rate in the last quarter- not good at all.
The Fed is now predicting that for 2012 we will see about 2.5 percent growth for the year.
And some are now saying that we might even slip below the 2 % mark in the first quarter.
Simply put- these numbers mean we are not going to see the economy heat up any time soon.
The Euro zone?
Yes- the credit rating agencies are all downgrading these shaky European economies. Greece is still trying to solve its debt crisis.
Let me give you a local example of how this affects our own economy.
Here where I live I am surrounded by Naval Air bases. I used to be stationed at the one in Kingsville- and I live about 200 yards from the one in Corpus Christi.
About 20 miles across the bay- if I walk down the block and look over- I can see the former base that was in Ingleside. This was a newer base that did all the training for our mine warfare guys.
So a few years ago this base fell victim to the base closure commission and it got wacked.
So the Port commissioners and the local govt. guys have been trying to sell the property and get a good company to utilize this valuable space.
As I have been reading the local news I saw that the last company that put down a non refundable million dollar down payment- they missed the deadline- 3 times- to come up with the rest of the cash.
I thought why would anybody put down a million dollar non refundable down payment on something that they don’t have the money for.
Then I saw that the investors did have the money- but some of it is tied up in the European banking system- and they can’t get a good exchange for the money into U.S. currency.
Everybody with any sense has already cashed in as much of their Euros as possible. These governments are at a point where they might go bust- Greece is trying to convince their bond holders to take a 60% hit on their bonds- and the payout will be longer- and at a lower rate.
So this small deal that did not go thru where I live- was indeed a victim of the Euro Zone crisis.
When you add this in with the less than stellar economic numbers- then I don’t see how we will mount any type of real recovery for this year.
Then why is the DOW up to around 12,600?
If you ask me- that’s a bubble.
But as I watched the news over the last month- I have seen many reports of how good the economic numbers were- and they even reported ‘good news’ about the jobs numbers.
I remember during the Bush years- when unemployment was around 5 %- some news folk reported it as bad.
We are at 8.5- and they are actually saying this is good.
So the media have a way of selling us stuff- stuff that we don’t- or should not want- and we buy.
I’ll end with one last example. A few years back during the first big financial crash of the current time- many people lost tons of money overnight- we have never made up the trillions that were wiped off the books.
Now- at the time it was common to read your 401 k statement and see a huge hit.
I saw/read a report how some investors were actually putting their money into money market accounts that guaranteed a loss.
Yes- the money market said up front ‘you put in 1 dollar- we will pay you less than a dollar when you take it out’.
Why would people do this?
Because they were told ‘geez- you can’t put your money under the bed’.
Well yes- if you took all your money and stuck in under the bed- over time inflation would eat up all your buying power- and your money would lose value.
But if you are putting it into an account- that says up front ‘we guarantee you that you will lose some value’ then you would be better off under the bed.
1785- CASTRO SPEAKS
Right after yesterdays post on the economy- CBO put out some numbers- they were even worse than what I had written.
CBO [congressional budget office] estimated growth for the year at about 2.2%.
I used another estimate that said 2.5%
As I watched the talking heads go about their spin- one said that we are now in the 3rd year of the Recovery.
What? The last recession we had [before the so called Great recession] top unemployment hit just under 7 %.
Yes- the worst was under 7.
We are now supposedly in the 3rd year of the recovery- and the number is 8.5 [most say the actual number is over 10- when they do these numbers they don’t take into account those who have given up in despair].
Yesterday the president was at some campaign stop and he was talking about how all the high tech companies can’t find enough qualified workers- he went on and on about all these U.S. companies just pulling their hair out because they have so much business demand- and yet not a single unemployed person to fill the spot.
Why say this? Why try and portray a false image like this? Because if you can somehow convince the public that this last year of Obama’s term- that everything is turning around- that the recovery summer has finally arrived- then you persuade the public that all is well and the Consumer Confidence picks up.
During the question time a woman said ‘my husband is in this industry- an engineer- and he has been unable to find work in 3 years- his friends as well’.
The pres was taken aback some- he inquired exactly what type of engineer he was- and he said ‘that’s strange- because all the high tech people I talk to keep telling me the business and economy are roaring- so much that they can’t even scrub up a single employee to take the job’ [paraphrase- want to be honest here!]
He than directed the woman to send him her husband’s resume- you know- to prove how these people were mistaken- and he will prove that by getting him a job.
Now- what are the odds that this guy won’t get a job? Which high tech business person- who supports the president- maybe has given a few million to the campaign- will he tell Obama ‘no- can’t fit the guy in’?
The point is the scenario that this election year spin will be is one in which everything is turning around- all the numbers are on the rise- businesses can’t find enough people to put to work.
But in the real world that is not the case- and it’s important that we ‘live’ in the real world- not in the spin world of the media- the Right- the Left- or any other group.
Yesterday morning on MSNBC- the Joe Scarborough show- they had a guest on- a political guy for the Politico. He spoke about the election in Florida- he referred to the Southern White vote as ‘Crackers’.
This from a network that was incensed that Gingrich said ‘Food Stamp President’. Yet the slang term for ‘White Trash’ is totally acceptable- it plays into their story line.
The line that says those in the South who vote against Obama are primarily White Confederate Flag nut jobs- who are all racists.
The other day I was watching Al Jazeera news [you know- like Bachmann said when she worked for the I.R.S.- you need to know the enemy!]
Yes- they had on a serious report- no joking or anything- and it was a statement from former Cuban dictator Castro- his comment was on the Repub debates and the U.S. political scene right now- he said ‘this is the biggest competition of idiocy that I have ever seen in my life’.
I fear he may be right.
1786- LET ME TELL YOU HOW A BLACK MAN SHOULD THINK!
Okay- the other day I fessed up and admitted that I watch Al Jazeera news every so often. So to balance the scales somewhat- let me admit that I also listen to NPR [radio].
Over the years NPR has received a reputation of being a biased Liberal outfit. But to be honest most of the ‘hard news’ is pretty good.
So the other day I had it on- but it was on the weekend and I couldn’t catch the news.
So I realized I was catching the tail end of some European travel show. Okay- I’ll give it a shot.
The host is singing the praises of traveling/visiting France.
He has on a few guests who can’t get over the wonders of the European world- compared to us.
One guy shared how he was on vacation with his buddy and they came across a stranded woman motorist. They got out and assisted as best as they could.
Within minutes the tow truck showed up- she also kissed both men before she left- as a family type thing [they do this by the way- I was in Switzerland a few years ago and the hostess of the Christian home I was at did kiss you on the cheek before you went to bed!]
And the host went on and said that in France they even have laws where the Taxis must assist female stranded women- and all sorts of wonderful things we don’t do here in the U.S.
Okay- I was starting to hear that Lib bias come out. But wait!
Yes- some guy called in and shared how he was pick pocketed while getting on the train. Oh My!
For a moment it sounded like it might be a negative story- hmm?
He went on to say that these young boys- he almost described them as his grandkids- they had a little scheme where they would distract you and one kid would snatch the wallet.
So he ran out the train door- and lo and behold there were 3 undercover cops- right there- who caught these little hoodlums.
They rode in the ‘Paddy wagon’ together- all the way to the police station. Yes- the victim rode with the robbers- and he said they were bumping knees together- like family- on the way.
He said at the station he got his stuff back- the kids walked out the door- and they waved goodbye as they left.
The host of the show said ‘gee- it’s almost like a fun sport- like what they were doing had no real danger- almost like friends’.
Yes- the victim went on and agreed- no real danger- not like in the U.S. – where you might encounter a knife or gun.
The host even described it in a way where he said ‘geez- these kids are all suffering from hard economic times- and they really treat their ‘victims’ well- I mean you would almost expect them to do this- out of necessity!’
Yeah- my ‘non liberal’ NPR- they turned on me- big time.
Okay- the point?
As the week roles on by- we are continually being treated to those in the media who feel like their ‘side’ justifies their arrogance- bigotry- and flat out false reporting.
I saw a clip where Soledad Obrien [CNN] was interviewing Rep. West [Fla.].
Now- Col. West is a patriot- served over 20 years honorably in the military- and sure- he is somewhat of a Tea Party favorite.
But he of course leans right- a big no no for a Black man!
Soledad- an Obama supporter- accuses West of not thinking/acting like a good Black man should- after all he never called Bush a ‘food stamp president’!
She puts up a chart- which indeed shows how food stamp usage increased more under Bush than Obama!
Aha Mr. Black man- what do you say to that?
Of course when you ambush someone like that- using skewed numbers- you catch the guy off guard- and you make him look ignorant [something that normally would be frowned upon if a White reporter did this to a Black man on the left.]
She finished the interview having made the man look bad.
What’s wrong then John?
Well- she used the results of 8 years of Bush- compared to 3 years of Obama.
If you annualized the numbers- food stamp usage under Obama is going up about 12% a year- Bush- 8%.
Now- whether you like West or not- agree with the left or the right- either way- you should not justify ‘lying’ like this- especially when you’re using this tactic against a Black man whom your accusing of not ‘acting Black’.
Last one- the other day I was watching the Martin Bashir show on MSNBC. He had on Eric Dyson- a Black activist and scholar. I have heard him before- and I like him.
He is on the left- he is one of the Black leaders who has been critical of Obama because he feels Obama does not stick up for Black causes the way any President should- regardless of his race.
Tavis Smiley- Cornell West- and a few other Black leaders hold this view.
So on Bashir’s show he is explaining all the hidden meanings behind the term ‘Food Stamp President’ and Dyson- who is an intellectual- went down this laundry list of racial slurs.
I mean he had hidden meanings that I never even heard of before.
When he was finished ‘exposing’ all the things that Newt was really saying when he used this term- Bashir simply said ‘wow- it’s amazing how that one little term can hold all those racial meanings’.
It sure is- about as amazing as turning pick pocketing hoodlums into the nicest little boys you ever could meet- almost like family.
1787- PORK BBQ- SATURDAY- DOWN AT THE MOSQUE- BE THERE!
As we wrap up the week- we end with another debate over abortion.
Yesterday the news was hot over some private foundation withdrawing their funding of Planned Parenthood.
The Foundation said they changed some rules last year that said they would no longer fund any agency that was under investigation- Planned Parenthood is being investigated- so they dropped the support.
The Left say it is a conservative scheme to attack abortion providers. The agency says there are a few reasons they stopped.
I tried to listen to the actual spokesperson for the group. She said they basically are going to stop funding groups that just pass you through- groups that simply refer you to another group- and don’t really provide treatment for breast cancer.
She explained that Planned Parenthood only teaches women to do self exams- with the hand- and if they detect something- then they send you to another organization- that does mammograms and actually treats women for breast cancer.
She explained that Planned Parenthood doesn’t even have mammogram machines!
Now- in all the debate over how this private foundation withdrawing their money will cause the untold deaths of women- not one pundit explained this.
It would be like me opening a ‘clinic’ that said ‘BROKEN LEG CLININC’. And I was getting funds from a foundation whose sole purpose is to fix broken legs.
But when you come to my ‘clinic’ I look at your leg and say ‘gee- that looks bad- maybe you better go get that checked by a real doctor’.
So that’s what Planned Parenthood does- they send you off- no mammogram- no treatment- but heck- if you want an abortion [a much more dangerous procedure] they’ll do it on the spot.
Then you had the administration demand that all catholic institutions provide free contraceptives to women.
Yes- even though they gave assurances all thru last year- they swore that they would never do this- yet they did.
Bishop Dolan [N.Y.] just met with Obama and he was personally assured they would not do this- but they did.
They did it on the very same day there was a pro life rally being held in the Capitol.
The top lady who runs the health care services for the Catholic church- a woman who supported the Obama care law- she was at the march- and when Obama did this on the same day- he undercut many liberal Catholics who were told the new health law would never require this- he lied.
Why is this a big deal?
The Catholic charities in the U.S. provide tons of fee aid to all types of people- and the Catholic hospitals rate at the top of the list for hospitals in the country [and around the world].
When you put the church in a position like this- where they believe that providing contraceptives to women- for free- is a violation of conscience- then you are putting the church in a position where they just might shut down these services- at a time where more people need them now than ever.
Let’s see- Jesus often used parables- he would say ‘what can we compare this to’.
Say if we passed a law that said ‘from now on- all Mosques in the country are required to serve free Pork BBQ to all the little kids in the neighborhood every Saturday’.
And the Imam must advertise the free lunch by placing an ad every Friday in the paper.
The ad will show a picture of the prophet- standing next to this huge pit- turning the handle that rotates this succulent pig roasting on the pit.
And he is waving to all the kids- saying ‘come on down for a good ole time’.
Yeah- it would be something along these lines- to make a Catholic institution provide free contraceptives to women.
But why be surprised- a few years ago in Illinois- they tried to pass a Live Birth law.
It came to the attention of the state that there were many instances where a woman goes in for an abortion [even at Planned Parenthood] and the baby is late term.
In some cases the baby is born- alive.
When this happens- they usually leave the baby alone- crying in the bed pan- until it stops.
I read one case where the nurse could hear the baby all the way from the front- the doctor told one of the nurses to go ‘stick that thing in the closet before everybody hears’.
So sad- so very sad.
When the state legislature met to ban this practice- there was only one senator who voiced opposition to the law.
Senator Barak Obama.
Yes- when you look at a person’s record- what he says he believes- then that does carry consequences.
Sometimes those decisions will even cause people to violate their own consciences in a very severe way.
Yeah- I guess I’ll see you guys in the morning- down at the Mosque- don’t forget to bring the sauce.
1788- WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY?
There have been a few big stories since the last post.
Giants- yeah- they did a great job. The game was a great game- especially the last 5 minutes.
For my Texas friends- us N.J. guys claim the ‘NY’ Giants as our own- they practice down the road from where I grew up in Jersey.
I used to ride my dirt bike in that area [Meadowlands] as a kid- before they developed the land.
It’s basically swamp land- but they built it up and that’s where the stadium sits- in Jersey!
Yeah- we are short on space in N.J. – so we do ‘multi-purpose’ use.
We also use the stadium as a burial ground for former Teamsters presidents [Hoffa Sr. – an inside joke].
Okay- what’s the news right now?
A big story is the Syria situation. Syria is another one of these ‘Arab Spring’ nations that has had protestors rise up in the streets [Egypt- Libya- etc.]
But this time the world community [Russia- China] are not going along with the mantra from the West ‘he is a war criminal- he is on the wrong side of history’ if I hear Susan Rice or any other top U.S. official say this again- I will move to Libya [okay- maybe not].
This past week the U.S. tried to pass a motion at the U.N. that would condemn the Syrian leader- Assad- and call for him to step down and hand the govt. over to someone else.
Now- at this point- after the track record we [Western nations- U.S.] have- whenever protestors rise up- if we don’t like the leader- we begin saying ‘he is bad- he is on the wrong side of history- just step aside- that’s reasonable’.
The result of those who take our ‘advice’ is your family and you get arrested- or you get killed- and then those who survive- even your wife- will be tried and also possibly get executed.
So- that’s why none of these remaining guys are following our lead anymore. Yemen [Salah] – Syria [Assad] and all the rest.
Now- when the U.S. pushed thru the U.N. resolution on Libya- we swore up and down that this ‘no fly zone’ mission was strictly humanitarian in nature.
Russia did not vote for this agreement- but they abstained.
After NATO and the U.S- and France- who played a pretty big role- went in- the mission turned into an all out attack on the Libyan leader.
We hunted him and his family down- we bombed his kids home multiple times and even killed his grandkids- all under the guise of a ‘no fly zone’ to protect civilians.
Okay- Russia was pissed- and they swore they would never fall for another U.S. lead effort that said anything near what the Libyan resolution said.
That’s why they voted no.
Plus Russia has had their own protestors in the streets these last few months- and we started saying some of the same stuff we said when the protestors rose up in Libya- Russia told us to shut up and mind our own business.
They see the writing on the wall- the U.S. will sing this song ‘wrong side of history- free the people’ but we only sing it when its happening with nations we don’t like.
When Bahrain and Saudi Arabia abuse their people- which they do- we sing another song- one that basically says ‘citizens should be seen- and not heard!’
So the world community has caught on- and every where we have called for the former leader to step down- well those nations are now a total mess.
This week the generals- who now run the country- have detained 19 American activists and are going to try them for instigating disharmony in the country.
One of those detained is the son of our transportation secy. Ray Lahood.
The right wing media have described this as ‘the Muslim brotherhood has taken over and they are holding Americans hostage’.
Okay- I know this plays into a very real danger- one that I have written on.
But we need to be careful that we don’t ‘over’ do this fear.
In actuality the reasons these guys are being detained is because the Generals- not the Muslim Brotherhood crowd- are mad at the U.S. because we convinced them to overthrow their pharaoh- Hosni Mubarak- and after we convinced them- their nation is in total shambles.
Egypt used to be a wonderful place to go- tourism was a top business for the country- they have all the ancient sites and artifacts from thousands of years that tourists would go see.
They were the land of the Sphinx and the pyramids- but after their ‘revolution’ they are no longer a place where tourists want to go- they lost around 90 % of their business.
They are trying their former leader- and many are calling for his execution- and his wife’s too!
These are people who wined and dined with Clinton and other presidents over the years- they were seen as friends and allies- and the U.S. basically undercut Mubarak’s rule and now he’d be lucky to escape a public hanging!
So- how did we convince the Generals to overthrow the guy?
Their top military leaders all train at West Point- yes- here in the U.S.
Our top military guys had very close connections to their military- and we went behind Mubarak’s back and convinced these military guys to remove the guy.
Now- after his removal you began having more protests in the streets- some calling for ‘justice’ on the generals- and of course their families- for not doing enough.
The generals found themselves under the same criticism as Mubarak.
And yes- Obama began using the same language about them ‘we want a just transition- the military leaders will be held accountable for any abuse of their citizens’ you know- the key phrases that mean ‘heck- maybe you and your family will be next’.
The generals saw the writing on the wall- and they are gonna try these 19 American activists- they are not gonna play the game anymore with the West.
Lets end with one more example.
One of the big stories going on right now is the possibility of Iran getting a Nuke. We- as well as Israel- have been putting pressure on Iran to drop their Nuke program.
We are treating the Nuke program of Iran as the number one danger in the world today.
We often forget that many nations have nukes- many bad nations.
Iran has 2 nations on either side that have hundreds of nukes.
Israel and Pakistan.
Pakistan is a nation whose political leaders have ‘ties’ with us- but their military and their secret service are infiltrated with groups that we are at war with [Taliban].
Pakistan is a nation with many terrorist ties- and these nukes are at great risk of getting into the hands of bad folk.
So- we should treat the Iran threat as a threat- but we need to keep the thing in balance.
Ron Paul does make some sense when he talks about Iran- I don’t agree with everything he says- but some of the stuff is true.
Okay- so it would seem like any country that came out and said ‘okay U.S.- you want us to forsake our nuke program- you deem this as the worst thing in the world- so we will agree to give them up’.
You would think that any nation that did this would become our friend- right?
Libya is the only nation in recent memory that did this.
Yes- after Bush went into Iraq and we saw his sons killed and Saddam hanged- Gadhaffi’s wife told her husband lets make a deal with this nut [Bush] before he kills us all.
Yes- this is how it happened.
And Gadhaffi contacted us- and he gave up his nuke plans.
What happened next?
He became the only leader- so far- that we actually went after with planes and bombs.
What kind of message does this send?
North Korea has people starving in the streets- they are a real enemy of the world- and treat their people badly.
Why have we never [in recent history] responded militarily?
Well John- they have nukes.
So the message is ‘if you willingly give up your nukes- we might kill you and your family- but if you have nukes- well then it’s too late- we will not do anything’.
You see- the world community watches what we do- they don’t hear what we say.
Yeah- Russia- China and a few other nations are having second thoughts- they hear all our rhetoric on ‘the wrong side of history’ and they see Gadhaffi and his grandkids in the grave.
To them- that’s the wrong side of history.
1789- JUST SUE ME
Last night I caught the tail end of the Wolf Blitzer show [CNN] or has Herman Cain calls him ‘BLITZ’.
Jack Cafferty does the usual rant- I like Jack- I grew up in the local media market where Jack got ‘broken in’.
As he’s reading the emails from ‘regular folk’ he reads one that says ‘Jack- I am a Southern White Evangelical- and I just want to admit that we are all lying to you- the world- and everyone. We hate Black folk- we use the term Nigger whenever they are not around- even my Pastor. We will not vote for Obama- because he is one of them’ and the email went on in this way.
Now- as someone who has done radio for 20 years- you do something that’s called ‘screen the callers’ you basically get both Lib’s and Conservatives that call in and act like they are on the other team- and they try and influence the conversation by faking it.
Oh Jack- my poor brother- I know you have been on the Wagon for many years- and I commend you for that- but I think the effects are long lasting- maybe Blitz needs to adjust the show.
In the last post I mentioned Syria- I don’t not want anyone to think that what’s happening over there is good- it is not!
My critique of the handling of the situation- especially of our U.N. ambassador- Susan Rice- was basically meant to say we have tried the strategy of saying ‘you are on the wrong side of history’ and demonizing the leaders of these countries- and maybe now we need to try another approach- because this one has not worked.
Then I caught the Russian ambassador on the Charlie Rose show- note- his show is very informative- for those who want to really get to know the issues in a serious way- I recommend you watch the show.
But the ambassador was asked what happened in the recent veto- by Russia and China- on the Syrian resolution.
He said Susan Rice has no idea what she’s doing- that Russia put an amendment on the table- and they have even offered to hold talks between the Rebels and the Syrian leader- but the U.S. refused to listen- and they did not even know how to bargain for a negotiation.
Okay- I listened with a grain of salt.
The next night- I heard a former U.N. worker- a U.S. worker- say the same thing. That the insiders have been saying that Susan Rice is a total incompetent- that for the sake of the country Obama simply needs to realize she is in over her head and replace her.
But on MSNBC I hear Matthews speak of her as doing one of the greatest jobs ever.
We need to be able to keep politics outside of this- if indeed she has messed up- which happens- then instead of jumping to her defense- let’s fix it. People are indeed dying- and it’s a tragedy.
The nightly news coverage is showing the damage- and when the media decide to play an angle- that says ‘see- Obama and Rice were right’ then you will be told that story.
This week the Russian envoy went to Damascus- and he was greeted with cheers from thousands of people- they want to sit down and have the talks- these people were not staged.
These are people who live in the capitol- who have businesses and kids going to school- and they have lived fairly decent lives for 30 years or so.
They have seen the result of the Egypt uprising- basically your country goers to hell in a hand basket. They have seen the Libyan situation- that many in the city of Tripoli- they too lost their lives and futures after the ‘revolution’ and these Syrians in Damascus really want the Russian solution- not the American one.
But instead- we have called the Russian solution ‘disgusting’. Why won’t we sit down with both sides?
The rebels- like in Libya- have said no.
When you have armed people on both sides- and one side is saying ‘let’s have a cease fire- lets meet’ then the side that says no bears some blame.
In Libya and Syria we are saying no to the side that wants to negotiate a peace- we are leaving them with no option- except certain trial and execution by the rebels once they take over.
Our handling of the Arab Spring has been a gigantic failure- and if Susan Rice is indeed not up for the job- then she needs to go.
The other day I had a conversation with my liberal friend- who only watches MSNBC for their news source.
In the conversation the person tore Romney apart- talked about how the Repubs are all crooks and cheaters- and on and on.
I told the person I was no bigger fan of Romney then Obama- but I tried to tell the person that they are only seeing one side- they have all these complaints against one side- while they are unable to see the wrongs being done right now.
I mentioned the Fast and Furious scandal- and the cover up going on at the justice Department under Eric Holder.
This person never heard of the scandal.
I explained that it had to do with a program approved by Holder- the justice Dept. – that allowed illegal guns to be sold to Mexican drug runners- and that these guns were then later found at the scene of the death of one of our border patrol guys- agent Terry.
Now- my friend thought I was making this up ‘how could anyone ever do this’.
I explained that the intent of the program was to try and track the guns down- but instead we let over 2,000 walk- and for many years to come these guns will kill many Mexicans and Americans and other law enforcement folk.
Now- when the story broke [February of last year] Holder and Obama and others swore they had no knowledge of it.
The Repubs held a hearing on it- got some documents- and found out Holder lied.
They did indeed know about it- and at the point of them realizing their cover was blown [2-11] they refused to give up any more emails or correspondence from the justice dep’t about it.
Well it’s obvious that they have said stuff they don’t want the public to know.
The Repubs are now threatening to charge Holder with contempt of congress- because he has 80,000 known papers on the subject- but has only released 20,000.
The other 60 are all after the point where they realized the news was out.
Holder’s response is ‘if you don’t like it- sue me’
When Obama made the recess appointment a few weeks ago- he said ‘if you don’t like it- sue me’
I watched the hearings this past year on CSPAN [Holder]. The administration and the justice dept. were denying any involvement and knowledge- at one point they caught one of the main guys in a lie- you saw it live.
The mother of the dead agent- who was being lied to- broke down in tears.
What is our govt’s response to this ‘don’t like it- sue us’.
Her family sued the justice dept this past week for wrongful death.
Last year- in the first time in U.S. history- an American president gave orders to execute an American citizen without a trial- or even charges being filed against him.
Some say it was good- others say no.
When asked for the paper that gave the justification for the action- the administration said ‘no- sue me’.
The ACLU [no conservative group!] sued him last week.
Texas just recently got turned down for a partial exemption from the new health care law.
The law says starting this year insurance companies must spend 80 percent of their money on actual health care- and if they spend less- then the difference will be rebated back to the customer.
Overall it sounds good.
But many say the result will be private insurers will leave some markets- and the average person will pay more.
Texas applied for a waiver that would allow the companies to transition more slowly.
70% one year- 75 the next- and then hit the 80 mark.
Obama said ‘no’.
17 states have applied for the waiver- 9 were denied- 6 got it- 2 are pending.
All the states that got the waiver are more pro Obama than Texas.
It would be reasonable to say ‘why not us’?
No answer- don’t like it ‘sue me’.
As a retired Texas fire fighter- still in the union- over the years when we have had real bad wild fires- we would apply for federal aid- and if you met the criteria [so much land burning at a certain rate] then you got the aid- no questions asked.
During Obama’s administration- for the first time I can remember- we applied during real bad fires last year [maybe 2 years ago?] and they said ‘no’.
We were shocked- many of us could not believe he would play politics like this. Perry was about to run- and he was touting the economic success of Texas- and Obama said ‘well- you guys are doing so good- you pay for it’.
Don’t like it- sue me.
My friend who watched only one source of news- they felt very justified in their view- but they only saw their side.
I know I have been hitting Obama hard- but the media have a way of showing you what they want.
If you only see one side- then you will always hate the other side.
In all these dealings- especially with the death of a U.S. border patrol agent- these things should not be covered up- all the papers need to be released- we need to know what happened.
As of today there have been no firings- no suspensions- not even a letter of reprimand that you would normally put in a person’s file- even for the smallest offenses [I worked civil service for 25 years- you normally would at least get this].
I hope we can straighten out the U.N. problem- the Holder problem- the whole ‘don’t like it- sue me’ problem- but if we can’t straighten it out soon- then maybe we just need to change the guy at the top- because this suing thing aint getting us any where- you think?
I read a statement from the French President- Nicholas Sarkozy. He was speaking about the dire situation in Syria [Syria has been fighting rebels in a city called Homs- they have been using deadly heavy artillery to bomb buildings and homes- many civilians have died].
Sarkozy said a military response [Like what he- and we- did in Libya] was no longer a legitimate solution.
I found this insightful- France was thee number one supporter of the ‘no fly zone’ in Libya. France had their planes bombing many spots- they were more ‘pro war’ than the U.S. and the Brits.
Many in the political scene in France have accused Sarkozy of wanting to develop the image of a mini Bush- that is a leader who is willing to engage in violence in order to defend ‘just causes’ in the world.
Right after the Libyan action began- some in the Arab/Muslim world began saying that France and NATO should be seen as the enemy- not Gadhaffi.
In Afghanistan- where France has troops like us under the NATO banner- they just had an Afghan soldier- one who is supposedly on our side- gun down a bunch of French troops in cold blood.
The French president then called for a quicker withdrawal of forces than the U.S. wanted [2013- instead of 2014].
Sarkozy realized- that no matter how just your cause might seem- there are never any situations where one side is 100 % right- while the other 100% wrong [let’s say rarely].
In Egypt- Libya- and now Syria- you do not have [did not] complete agreement on the protests. Many who had stable lives and lived for many years in these countries- they felt like the rebels were wrong about the way to have their ‘revolution’.
Many in the Christian minority saw the revolutions as dangerous to their own survival. Our actions in Iraq have decimated the Christian population there.
Though we did not mean to do this- the result is we have installed a more anti Christian regime in the country.
The same has now happened in Egypt- the original Tahrir square protestors might have been a majority of simple pro- democracy groups- but after the recent parliamentary elections- the Muslim Brotherhood took over about 50 % of the parliament.
Though this group has rejected violence and terrorism as a means to gain power- yet they still advocate for an extreme religious view if they gain power.
They want Shariah law as the law of the land- and this type of ‘democratic govt.’ is really not good- even if it is voted in by a majority.
We in the West have different values than some in other parts of the world.
We tend to side with those who want to ‘throw off the shackles of dictators- free the voice of the people’.
Yet we underestimate the very real danger of sounding this mantra every time a nation has rebels rise up in the streets.
Say if all you saw on the news every night was the Occupy Wall street protests. And say if there rose up a few hundred thousand that marched nightly on Washington [which we never want to happen!]
But say if that’s all you saw every night- and it got so dangerous that troops- or cops- had to actually shoot some protestors.
We would understand why we had to do this- we would not be calling for the president to step down- or for his family to be submitted to a trial by ‘right wing’ conservatives who just might execute you and your kids.
Now- I am not saying all these leaders in these nations are equal to the American system- but it’s foolish for us to look at all these situations thru the lens of Western style Democracy.
We [the West] seem to think that when we side publicly with the rebels [whoever they be- Libya- Syria- etc.] that we are on the ‘right side of history’ that we are a part of a true democratic movement that will spread thru the world and in a few years down the road we will be living n a world with many truly just democracies.
That picture- that hope- as just as it might seem to those who keep using this type of language [like John McCain- who I like!] is simply not a realistic view.
Where did the idea of Democracy come from? Did world governments have democratic style govts for thousands of years?
No- the idea rose up during the Enlighten period [17th– 18th century] and was promoted by men like John Locke.
If you remember- we studied the philosophy of Locke this past year.
Locke played a key role in the transition of popular philosophy from Rationalism to Empiricism.
We covered that in the posts- don’t want to do it again.
But Locke- like other thinkers of the time- began writing on a new idea of govt- a govt ‘by the people- and for the people’.
Many people living at the time resented the rule of kings- and the role religion [Catholic countries] played in society as a whole.
One of the first experiments with people saying ‘we will throw off the church and king’ was what we call the French Revolution.
It took place right at the end of the 18th century- right before the Napoleonic wars.
It was a Secular [non religious] effort to depose the rule of govt we call Monarchy [King and Queen] and it resulted in the Guillotine and beheading of many Catholic priests and leaders.
It was truly a rebellion that got way out of hand.
Yesterday- one of the current Repub candidates for president made headlines when he compared Obama’s recent ‘anti religious’ actions to the French Revolution.
One commentator [CNN] said the rebels were all Catholics and that to say the revolution hurt the church was wrong.
This man [Paul Begala] had no idea what he was saying- its sad that they say misinformed statements like this to such a wide audience.
Some of our founding fathers were fans of John Locke [Jefferson] and our country drew up the founding documents during a time when these ideas were ripe and were seen as a new type of govt. for the people.
Thus- we have our Democracy today- for which I am grateful- do indeed think it’s the best in the world today- but it is not inherently ‘more just’ than all other styles.
The govt. we see in the bible is Monarchy [mostly- Rome was Imperial- did have a senate and all- but in no way was it a democracy like we think of].
When we try to help these countries- when people rise up and protest- we must not simply jump to the conclusion that all of these rebellions are seeking- or will end up like the U.S.
We must not condemn all ‘monarchies’ as evil- the bible says there are just ones.
Kings can rule justly- be fair- and do good.
We should not assume that all ‘non western style democracies’ are evil- they are not.
Most of these present uprisings are in countries where you have what’s called Autocratic rule- not full ‘kingdoms’ with kings in the way we think.
Yes- I do think our experiment- based on the Enlightenment idea of govt. by and for the people is the best- but we must not assume all other types are inherently evil- nor should we be so quick to side- militarily will all rebels- like some already calling to arm the rebels in Syria.
The end result of these protests are not secure at all- it is highly doubtful that any of them will become ‘little U.S. of A’s’.
So we should call for non violence on all sides- we should stand on the side of innocent victims- be against all regimes that use military force on their people- but be realistic about the situation- violence [on all sides] is very rarely the answer- Sarkozy learned this lesson the hard way.
1791- PICTURES OF ME WITH BLACK PEOPLE
Well it’s been a sad couple of days- yes- we lost the beautiful angel Whitney Houston.
I never was really a fan of Whitney- I mean she had a great voice and all- I just never bought any of her music.
As I watched the media cover her death- I began to realize how interesting her journey was- even with all the failures.
She was from Newark N.J. – I never knew that [right around the area I grew up].
She started her singing ‘career’ in a church choir.
As I saw all the clips the past few days- I saw her singing some Christian songs [I didn’t know that either].
And the last clip of her being recorded- a few days before her death- she sang a note from the famous kids bible song ‘Yes Jesus loves me’.
I know many in the media- and ‘church world’ have a tendency to judge people when they die- many seem to know ‘for sure’ who made it to heaven- and who did not.
I have learned a long time ago- I’m not the judge on stuff like that.
I saw Bill O’Reilly do his shtick. He tried to do the ‘real guy’ stuff- you know- like when he had on Bernie Goldberg- a Jewish friend- who was trying to outdo Bill on the ‘I am a friend of the Black man’.
Goldberg brought out a photo of him with a Black rapper- Ice Cube.
As Bernie shows the photo- to say ‘look- I even hug Black men’.
He refers to Cube as ‘Ice T’.
Bill- as a true brother- corrects Bernie and tells him ‘it’s not T but Cube’.
Bernie gets mad- you can see the look on his face ‘how dare you correct me’.
Then someone from off camera must have yelled ‘listen- Bills right- its Cube- not T’.
And Bernie quickly back tracks.
I guess Bernie got the picture from his file ‘pictures of me with Black people’.
So anyway- O’Rielly does the section on Whitney and he kind of goes hard on her.
He talks about her choice to do drugs- and basically says she was looking to die- she made the choice.
I realize what he was saying- but I found it to be the wrong time to say it.
A few years ago I heard a radio preacher talking about the funeral of a gang member that he preached at.
He said the mother and family and all the gang bangers were there- and he ‘told it like it was’.
He went on and said how he preached ‘this kid is in hell right now- screaming his brains out- he has no rest- he’s burning- forever!!’
He said how the mom ran out crying- his family was distraught- I thought he was lucky that he didn’t get gunned down right in the pulpit.
Yes- we need to have grace in these situations.
So- after seeing all the clips of Whitney- I believe she very well might be with God right now- and sure- I know she messed up lots- but I am certainly not in the position to judge the angel.
The other day I was reading Psalms 147.
I read how God counts the stars and gives them names.
It reminded me of the book of Revelation- where there is this vision of Jesus [chapter 1].
John the disciple sees Jesus- he has hair like wool- these eyes of fire- and feet like brass- burned in a furnace.
As Jesus is standing there- he is surrounded by 7 golden lamp stands- and he has 7 stars in his hand.
The vision is revealed to John- the lamp stands are the churches [of Asia Minor] and the stars are the ‘angels of the 7 churches’.
Now- as a theology buff- I know many bible folk say these angels are Pastors- because the Greek word simply means messenger.
But as I have read this over the years- I have come to believe these are actually angels.
What does the bible say about angels?
In the book of Hebrews we read that they are ‘ministering spirits- sent forth to minister to those who are inheriting salvation’.
We often hear that angels in the bible look like men- they are not things with wings!
Actually- this is another ‘fable’.
While it is true that many appearances of angels in the bible do look like men- and Hebrews also says that we should entertain [show hospitality] to strangers- because some have helped angels and they didn’t even know it.
Yet- there are also angels ‘with wings’.
We call these creatures Cherubim and Seraphim.
In the book of Exodus we read the story of the 10 commandments [chapter 20].
We read the first commandment as not having other gods before God- and not to make graven images of anything.
Over the centuries the church has had some debates over Christian art- is it right or wrong?
After all- much of it is statues and pictures depicting people and creatures and angels and God.
So during the Protestant Reformation [and the rise of Islam] you had occasions where people went out and destroyed the statues and paintings of other groups.
A few things should be noted here.
The commandment- however you take it- does not say ‘go and smash the statues of other religions’ [a few years ago the famous statues of Buddha were destroyed- I think in India- but radical Muslims did this because they felt the statues violated the commandment on angels]
Also- after Moses gets the 10 commandments from God- he puts them inside a box called ‘The Ark of the Covenant’.
This box has a lid on it [called the Mercy Seat] and on the lid you had 2 statues of Angels [Cherubim].
So- the actual box that held the commandment not to make idols- had religious art on it!
So we need to be careful before we start going around smashing statues [by the way- this smashing of the statues was called Iconoclastic].
So- we see that angels are spirits- created by God- and they are here to help us.
In Revelation 1 we read about a war in heaven- Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels.
We read that Michael prevails and the devil loses.
It says ‘the accuser of the brothers is cast down- the devil- who accused them before God day and night’.
There are only 2 named angels in the bible [3- if you include the Catholic apocrypha].
They are Michael- Gabriel- and Raphael.
Yes- angels are real- they war on our behalf- and they fight in a specific way- they cast down the dragon [satan] who accuses the believers.
This day I am happy in a way for Whitney- she struggled a long time- she was such a beautiful ‘angel’.
I would like to think she is with God right now- getting ready for ‘church’ this Sunday- yes- I know she is not ‘an angel’ in the biblical way.
But let’s stretch some- yes- she will be singing in the angelic choir once again.
Let’s not accuse her this day.
1792- A NUMBERS GAME?
What’s in the numbers?
The pres finally put out a budget plan- and of course in this election year the odds on anything getting passed is nil.
Yet the effort at least needed to be made.
What’s in the budget?
The main thing is the so called reduction in the debt- 3 [no wait- 4!] trillion over 10 years.
The actual budget states 3 trillion in reduction.
1.5 in tax hikes- on those darn rich folk!
And 1.5 trillion in cuts [which means a reduction in the rate of growth- not cuts like human beings use the word].
But the media- and the president keep saying 4 trillion in cuts- why?
They are adding in the 1 trillion in forced cuts that congress mandated because they couldn’t reach a debt deal.
But this 1 trillion is not in the budget.
The way they spin it is ‘well- this is our overall goal- so we add that in’.
The media and the press report that Obama has ‘created’ 3.5 million jobs.
When the pres took office- we were losing about 750 thousand jobs a month.
Okay- not his fault- got it.
They played the Bush card for 3 years- it’s now getting old.
Yet they say Obama has created 3.5 million jobs.
What are the ‘real numbers’?
During Obama’s term we lost around 4.7 million jobs.
Obama did manage to ‘create’ around 3.6 million- for a net loss of around 1.1 million.
So how would you report this- better yet- how have the media reported this during past presidencies?
You would not report a gain [creation] of 3.6 million- you would report a loss of 1.1 million [unless you want to take in the possibility of an alternate universe- then maybe they report it as job creation].
The average gallon of gas is around 3.50 a gallon.
This is the highest ever during the month of Feb.
Yesterday I saw some news clips- you had some key congress people decrying the failure of the pres to have an energy plan.
They held media ‘pressers’ condemning the pres for the gas prices.
Who were these dastardly villains?
Nancy Pelosi- Jim Clyburn and a few other key Democrats.
They were news clips of them condemning Bush when gas prices went up to 3.05 a gallon under him.
Yes- the outrage under Bush- but under Obama- it’s not his fault.
Yes- for the first time ever- I saw the main line news do a complete report on why the pres is not responsible for the fuel prices.
I mean they went in depth [a few months ago].
You know- war in the middle east- all stuff that is true- it’s just they never gave a report like this under Bush- no- as a matter of a fact they blamed him for it.
Here’s the biggie ‘the pres is an idiot’.
What- who said this! I demand his head on a platter!
The lovable Mormon from Nevada- Harry Reid.
Yes- he referred to Bush- a sitting pres- as an idiot.
A few days later- the media realized they couldn’t just let it slide- well then they would look too political.
So a reporter asked Reid ‘do you think its right to call the pres and idiot’?
After a moment of thought- Reid’s response ‘he is one’.
The reporter left it at that ‘well you heard it folks- he is one’ with a smirk on his face.
Outrage- calls for the senator to apologize? Nah- Bush is a big boy- he can take it.
Okay- last but not least.
Have you heard about the new Movie- ‘the assassination of the president’?
Yes- this is an independent film- released on video and also playing in theatres around the country- it shows you a depiction of the president getting his head blown off.
Bad stuff indeed- it should be against the law to make a movie like this- in my view.
The full name of the movie?
The assassination of George W. Bush [I kid you not].
It came out during the Bush years- and you could take your kids to see Bush getting his head blown off- what a wonderful night of fun.
Popcorn and drinks?
What was the response?
Can you imagine the riots in the streets if this happened today?
The cries of endangering the pres by simply using the term- never mind making a full length feature.
I of course condemn this language on all sides- the point I’m making is the media can manipulate the public if they want.
If they choose not to focus on a story- they won’t.
If they choose to focus on one- like when a Repub said ‘you lie’ and they made him publicly apologize and punished him on the floor- well then you too will be outraged- and you won’t even know that you [or anyone else] were not outraged about the Bush ‘getting killed’ movie.
These stories are silly in a way- I could have covered the story of the 2 car bombs that blew up in Damascus- the Syrian capitol- and killed 28 innocent people- injured over 200.
Or the killing of the ‘general’ in Damascus- he was a doctor who ran a hospital- assassinated by the ‘rebels’.
Yet the media do not want to show you that the opponents of Assad are doing the same things that terrorist’s do- because that does not fit ‘the story’.
So when a major oil pipeline blew up yesterday in the city of Homs- the rebels said Assad did it- the media first reported that Assad blew the pipeline up- to attack the rebels ‘environmentally’?
The pipeline is a major supply source for Damascus- Assad would never cut off his own source of oil.
My first thought was the ‘rebels’ did it- not Assad.
Any normal person would think this- but no- not the media.
As the day wore on- they began saying they were not sure who blew it up.
I’ll tell you- it was the rebels- that’s who.
Yes- these are the stories that need to be told right.
These are the things that matter- we want to be properly informed.
But when we live in a media world that reports ‘3.5 million jobs were created’ when you really have a loss of 1.1 million.
Then yes- you might even believe that Assad blew up his own oil supply- to environmentally attack his enemies.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John