LEADERSHIP A 2013
1838- YOUR SO BAIN
About a week ago I noticed something.
The media began running with a story that said ‘the austerity programs in Europe did not work- look- their economies are collapsing’.
Now- at first there were just a few people saying it- Paul Krugman from the N.Y. Times.
He is a liberal economist who has advocated for more stimulus spending.
He has said that 800 billion was not enough [the 1st stimulus] that we needed about 2 trillion.
Of course if your whole career is based on teaching this principle [Krugman is a Noble Prize winning economist] then instead of admitting you were wrong- you will say ‘they did not spend enough’.
So he just put out another book [how to spend our way out of this depression] and some others have jumped on the bandwagon.
These people know that we will never know if 2 trillion would have done the job- because we will never agree to another trillion in stimulus.
So- after hearing inklings of this over the past couple of weeks- I saw a report on the presidents meeting with the G-8 nations [top economies of the world] and the news report showed Obama and the U.S. on one side- and the E.U. nations on the other side.
They then said how Obama- and the stimulus- brought our country out of the recession- and that all these other E.U. nations tried austerity- and it failed.
The E.U. nations that are suffering their own ‘great depression’ got into this situation by spending more than they had.
Greece was the first one to see trouble- and others followed.
This is why we saw the Greek riots and stuff like that.
Now- out of the 17 nations that make up the common currency group- the Euro- Germany is the most stable of the bunch.
Germany has practiced austerity [spend less than you have] for years- they saw the writing on the wall and cut back their spending years ago.
They are also the strongest nation in the Euro Zone [note- there are 28 nations in the European Union- but only 17 are in the common currency called the Euro- Obviously Great Britain has the largest economy in Europe.]
So- after some of the ‘overspending nations’ got into trouble- they wanted the banks in the E.U. region to bail them out [U.S. style].
The banks- and the other more stable economies told Greece ‘if you want the bail out- you must show us you are serious about getting your house in order’.
And this led to cutbacks in spending in Greece and a few other troubled nations.
Okay- the Greeks did not like the new cut back measures [called austerity] – many of the retired people lost half their pensions- other benefits were lost.
Greeks retire in their 50’s- with full benefits.
They gave too much over the years- and got in over their heads.
So Germany said ‘look- our people retire at 70- if you want our tax money to bail you out- then you need to retire at the age we do’!
Sure- they were mad- they were not going to subsidize another countries young retirees.
So all this played into the call for cuts.
Did the cuts work?
They never had a chance to.
The recent elections in Greece kicked out all the ‘cutters’ and put in new people who vowed to tax the rich.
In France- the new leader is calling for a 75 percent tax on the rich- 75!
So- the Euro Zone nations have not even been able to see if the cutting worked.
There spending went up the last few years- from 44 to 49 %- as compared to their GPD.
So- when the media reported ‘the Obama spending worked- and the E.U. cutting did not’ that’s really not the full story.
I find it funny how quick the media and the Obama people began running with this message- in no time at all they saw a political advantage in making it look like the Krugmans of the world were right.
Remember- the strongest economy in the Euro Zone is Germany- and they did not spend like the other weaker nations- or like the U.S.
They are the strongest because they reigned in spending- not increase it.
The U.S. economy did gain some benefit from the 800 billion stimulus- because much of the money that went to the states was used to simply prop up the states budgets- but that money is now gone.
Overall- the cost per job from the stimulus money was not worth it- and many of the programs [Solyndra] that we spent money on was lost.
So all in all- to say ‘the U.S. has proved that stimulus works- and the E.U. has proved that cutting does not’ is really not true.
Also- the other day I posted about the danger of the President going around and using the class warfare language.
Sure enough- we had 2 more incidents of anarchists [people mad at govt. and rich folk] who were arrested for planning terrorist attacks.
These guys [5 in all] were at the NATO meeting in Chicago and supposedly were planning bad stuff.
Some say they were set up by undercover agents- so how serious they were we don’t know.
But this happened just days after Biden went on a rage at some union event.
I’m sure you saw the clip ‘they don’t get us- they don’t know who we are!’
The ‘they’ are the rich folk [opps- Biden just happens to be one].
Now- he went on for a few minutes- in a rage.
The Obama campaign has continued to hit private enterprise hard- they are gonna wind up sinking Bain Capital.
Bain is the private equity firm that Romney ran.
Bain has gone in to businesses in trouble has done one of 2 things.
Sometimes they close the business and pass the profits off to the stock holders.
Other times they save the business- and create jobs.
I must admit- as media critic- I even began becoming influenced by the nonstop campaign against Bain.
Just recently I saw the stats- they actually have helped/created more jobs than they lost.
I never knew this.
Just yesterday Bain had to start putting out statements in defense of their business.
You must understand that the president’s choice to basically throw this private group under the bus is sad.
If you work- or have money invested in Bain- you are in trouble.
Look- private companies hire Bain to come in- and at times- help the company.
Now- if you are an employer- and word gets out ‘the boss hired Bain’! The Union guys will revolt!
You say ‘well John- that’s good- they will save their jobs’.
The company will simply avoid the media publicity from Bain and hire another firm.
So- the decision to blast Bain is an attack on jobs- in a way.
Even Cory Booker- the mayor of Newark- went on the defense of Bain on Sundays Meet the Press.
He had to back track later because he is a supporter of Obama.
But he too realizes that to attack private equity is stupid.
Private equity just bailed out Newark a year or so ago.
Mark Zuckerberg [Facebook founder] gave around 100 million to Newark to help with the schools.
Yeah- Corey had a dog in the fight- and it wasn’t Obama!
Okay- I think will end with this- I was gonna throw in another thing or 2- but let it wait.
Rarely is one side always right- and the other always wrong.
But when you see the trend of a false story develop in the media- and the concurrent Obama campaign narrative- then you need to be aware that this in not journalism.
It is simple advocacy.
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. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1835- PREACHERS AND MONEY- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Let’s try and cover a few basic principles today.
For some reason the past few weeks I have kind of hit on the money/prosperity gospel somewhat.
I really did not plan this- but it is such a major part of today’s church that the issue comes up a lot.
When I covered the verses in 1st Peter the other day- one of the ‘suffering’ verses went on to say ‘the elders [church leaders] that are among you I exhort… take oversight of the flock among you…not for filthy lucre [money] but of a ready mind’.
You see this theme all thru out the New and Old testaments.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church and said ‘he that does not have a job- get one- so you can have to give to those in need’.
Now- he applies this principle to the leaders as well.
In the book of Acts- chapter 20- he calls the church leaders from the city of Ephesus to give them some final words before he departs.
He tells them ‘the whole time I was with you- I worked to provide for my needs- and the needs of those who were with me- I coveted no mans money’.
He said he did this to leave THEM [the church leaders- ministers] an example that they would follow.
The basic principle is church leaders were not to ‘go into ministry’ with the idea [goal] of ‘reaping a financial harvest’.
Now- this teaching runs all thru out the bible.
So how come so many modern themes violate this teaching?
We all have a tendency to ‘see’ what we want to see- and throw the rest out.
You can find verses that speak about providing for the needs of those who are feeding us the word of God.
The apostle Paul said ‘don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn’.
Support those who are feeding you the word.
Okay- got it.
Jesus said to his men ‘when you go into a city and they give you a place to stay [for the night!] and feed you- then take it- the worker is worthy of his hire’.
So we see the basic principle of helping those out who are teaching us Gods word- while at the same time the warning- and example that the Apostle Paul gave us- that you are not doing this for the money.
Paul told the Corinthian church that when he was with them he preached the gospel free of charge.
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah- he was used of God to restore the city of Jerusalem that was broken down and he became the governor during the rebuilding.
He asks God to look upon him and bless him because he did not take the regular salary- that he had the right to take- but was giving the other leaders an example that they are not in this for the cash.
The same type of thing that Paul did.
So if we take a balanced view- from the whole bible- we come up with a teaching that says ‘yes- it’s fine to support your teachers/preachers- but- they are not to become rich from this support- and we also need some of them to do it for free- to work a regular job as well- to give an example to others that they too should work- and not see ministry as a career choice- from which you become wealthy’.
Now- this type of teaching will simply be rejected by those who don’t like it- they will continue to justify a ‘I’m in this for a financial harvest’ type thing- and simply by pass all the scriptures that seem to be contrary to their personal desire.
When we recently overviewed the book of James I showed you how one of the main themes from James is the warning [rebuke] of the rich and his praise for the poor.
Many years ago- when I used to listen and get into the Prosperity gospel- I remember one of the main teachings came from the letter of James.
It focused on James’ writing about the tongue- a good confession.
As well as his exhortation to not be double minded.
But these verses were actually used in contradiction to the main point of James.
They were used to say ‘maintain your confession of wealth- if anyone tries to tell you anything different- you must reject it- don’t be double minded- keep the wealth confession and you will receive a 100 fold harvest’ [which by the way is another distortion from the teaching of Jesus].
So even though James says ‘beware you rich- your money and riches are rotting- they are fading away- they are a witness against you in the Day of Judgment’.
Or ‘Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom’.
‘Do not the rich call you before the courts and blaspheme that holy name by which your are called’.
I mean this theme is all thru out the letter- yet the teaching among the prosperity group managed to bypass all these themes- and simply pick a few verses out and turned them into a modern day financial scheme.
Okay-enough for now- I guess I’ll paste my first little book at the bottom of this post.
I wrote it years ago and eventually put it on a disc and sent it out.
It really is amateurish in a way [in my view] but there are lots of verses I reference that might help those who are interested in this subject.
Okay- that’s it for now- read and enjoy.
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. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
1834- HOW LOW WILL IT GO?
This past week I spoke with my Liberal friend from the North- yes- a real person- not a composite!
I always try and take the middle ground in these talks- showing my friend that to be too partisan clouds the mind.
One example- this friend has bought the whole media line that Romney- because of his wealth- is unfit to serve.
That his wife does just sit on the couch all day and does nothing- and they are unable to speak about real issues because of this.
Now- this person voted for Kerry a few years back.
I told my liberal friend ‘say if you found out that Romney actually never earned his money- but he married his wife- who also never earned it- but she inherited it from a rich father’.
And say if Romney was spending all of his wife’s money on yachts- expensive vacation homes- and all the ritzy stuff that Romney has [elevators for cars].
Of course my friend would be even more mad.
Yet this is exactly what happened to John Kerry.
He simply married a woman who was heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune.
Okay- does this make Kerry a bad man?
But this shouldn’t make Romney a bad man either- yet I never heard one story about Kerry being a free loader off of his wife’s money.
The point being we get mad at the other side- even though we allow those same things to slip by if it happens on ‘our side’.
Now- the other day I posted on the economy- that I felt we still had a ‘long hard slog’ ahead.
Others had too rosy of a picture in my view.
Now- economics/finances is like anything else- you look at the data and make the best ‘guess’ possible.
When I looked at the data at the end of last year- we had some bad signs ahead.
This year- the states and local govts [cities- towns] were not going to have anywhere near the revenue that they had for the past few years.
The federal govt. has cut back much of the funding that they gave to the states.
Obama care has also put a huge burden on the states.
One of the ways it ‘covers’ the uninsured is to simply mandate that the states put millions of more people on the Medicare rolls.
This is a tremendous cost to the states- money they don’t have.
Housing prices have gone down- in some places more than 50%- and the way most states/cities pay for their local expenses [schools] is this way [property tax].
So you basically have the states and cities having to come up with more money- and in reality they have nowhere to get the money.
Now- last night I watched the governor from Cali. say that the state is in almost double the debt that they we were expecting.
California is 16 billion in debt- not 9 billion as was projected.
Governor Brown- a smart guy- he once studied to be a Jesuit priest- they are top of the line intellectuals among Catholic priests.
[just as a side note- this order rose up during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. A soldier by the name of Ignatius Loyola was wounded and recovering in the hospital.
He read about the life of Christ and dedicated himself to the Lord.
The Jesuits were the order he founded.
They evangelized all the way into Asia- an area that the Protestant missionaries avoided.
The Jesuits played a major role in the scientific revolution- as a percentage of how few Jesuits there were- they had a huge impact on the development of modern science.]
So governor Brown said his state has lived beyond it’s means for too long- they spent money they did not have- and now the chickens have come home to roost.
Brown is a liberal Democrat.
The governor of N.Y. said the same thing a few months back.
When he got elected he actually worked with the unions in the state and worked out a deal where they were going to cut the huge expenses that the retirees managed to bargain for over the years.
Cuomo- another Democrat- said it was impossible for the state to continue to pay out these lavish benefits.
After the union leaders made the deal- the rank and file rose up [like Greece] and simply elected new leaders who would fight the changes.
I heard a clip from Cuomo- he was yelling ‘we can’t keep making the rich/businesses pay- they are all leaving the state’- just like Cali.
So- with unemployment at historic highs- with state and local govts having to lay off tons of teachers and cops and firefighters.
While the cost to the states is going up- a lot [Obama care].
With all these things in the hopper- besides the ‘unknowns’ like the banks [Morgan Chase] still making risky bets.
Yes- in my view I could not see how some financial guys were talking a huge recovery- some have said they thought the DOW would be at 17,000 next year- nuts!
As I spoke to my liberal friend- they said ‘so- do you think Romney would have been able to create more jobs than Obama’!
They were mad- I said I’m really not a Romney supporter- but being I live in oil state I know from firsthand experience that Obama has cost us jobs.
When he got in office the regulations and the EPA came down hard on the state- they cost lots of jobs.
I saw a clip- video- from Obama the other day- it was from January of 2008- he said he wanted to see the cost of opening up coal powered plants go so high that any sane business person would simply choose not to do it.
Okay- if you have said these things- and have actually done them- then yes- there have been very real jobs lost because of these things.
I assume Romney would not have done this- at least not as much as Obama.
So yes- it’s quite possible that the president’s agenda has cost jobs.
I also explained to my friend that many business owners have put off hiring for 3 years now- because if Obama care passes many of them will be mandated to pay the health care- or a huge fine- for each worker.
Now- as noble as these things might be- they cost real jobs.
My liberal friend- who is a nice person- has lived off of govt. programs for a long time- has only worked a real job for a small part of life.
This person simply had no idea how the private sector really worked- they just listen to the media talking points- and the real world is so much different.
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. Don’t forget to ‘click’ the note App on my Facebook Profile- I have posted lots.
I’ve been getting together with the homeless guys these past few days- I haven’t seen Henry in a while and I thought I better check up on the guys.
Henry- who I have written about a lot- is one of the close friends from the street.
He grew up in the north east- Mass. – so we have ties.
Henry is a true bible scholar- I mean I might mention a verse and Henry will quote the entire chapter- it’s kind of like a Rain Man type thing- but instead of remembering the gambling numbers- he does it with the bible.
Anyway we had a good fellowship- we went for a nice ride over the causeway and headed towards Rockport- just a chance for Henry to see the area.
I went to pick him up at the boat dock where he works- but missed him- caught him at the mission.
I gave Henry some money- he doesn’t drink or get drunk [or do drugs] with the money so it’s not like I’m contributing to the delinquency of a senior.
When we got back to the house I cooked a few things for Henry- though he did not want me to- yet he ate well.
He likes to catch the sports on my Direct TV- he’s a sports nut- knows all the latest stats- reads the scores in the paper- or catches a coffee at the Mexican restaurant and watches the sports on the tube.
From what I have picked up over the years- I think Henry used to be one of the top wrestlers at his high school- till this day- Henry looks to be in top physical shape- like he works out- he’s a few years older than me- 52?- yet he’s a health nut.
So he likes being able to catch the multiple sports channels on my TV.
Henry had a good day- and for a real homeless guy- looks the part- you would never know what a straight shooter he is.
One time we were sitting at the homeless mission and they were gonna do the Lords Supper.
I said ‘great- I’m in’ Henry did not partake- he later told me it would be a violation of the apostle Paul’s order to the Corinthians not to partake with sinners- and yes- some of the guys were drunk.
Yeah- he was right- I just felt like I needed to partake at the time.
The next day I took a ride to the bay front area of our city- one of the most beautiful downtowns you will ever see- many post cards have the area highlighted.
I just took a walk by the bay- and spotted a homeless girl- I was surprised- I rarely have seen them in that area.
I talked to her a little while and gave her some money- she was a Black girl.
About a mile down the road I also saw a Black kid sleeping on the bench- obviously homeless too- I think she might have been with him.
The other day I mentioned that in the next few weeks I will try and read/study 1st John.
He is the 3rd ‘pillar’ in the 3 main church leaders that we wanted to cover.
Even though I barley started reading the letter- I know one of the main themes from John is ‘he that obeys Gods commands is from God’.
John hits this theme a lot.
And then he says the command is ‘he that sees his brother in need and does not help him- how can Gods love be in you?’
This theme is repeated over and over again in John’s letter- and it’s the same message Jesus gave when he was asked what the great commandment was.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and might- and your neighbor as yourself’.
Jesus said ‘on these 2 hang all the law and the prophets’.
Yeah- this is the major emphasis that we will look at when we cover his letter.
I think I will try and see the guy’s today- maybe go down to the mission for a little while.
Not all of the homeless are like Henry- Henry works- does not get ‘a check’ [if you knew how many young guys- perfect health- are all getting govt. checks it would make you sick].
No- Henry- like some of my other friends [Tim] does not live off of the welfare system.
They do eat the free lunch at the mission [which I do not- I don’t take the meals that are intended for the poor] yet I see retried/working people drive up in the cars- or on their motorcycles- and they simply come for the free food.
The mission even has said to me ‘John- eat- because the more people who sign up- the more money we get’.
Geez- I know they mean well- but it’s like when I worked at the fire dept. – we tried to use all the money in our budget- even if we didn’t need it- just so they wouldn’t cut our budget the next year.
So we need to keep these things in mind when the accusation is made politically ‘they want to take food from grandma- kids’ in some of these cases its food from people who have it- but they prefer the free meals instead.
All in all I focus on the truly needy- the guys who have lived their entire lives on the streets.
Yeah- John said if we see our brother in need and don’t help him- then how can we say Gods love is in us?
1831- TEA PARTY?
So the other day we had a few more primary elections- and the big news was the Dick Lugar loss [Repub from Indiana].
Lugar was the longest serving senator in congress- 6 terms.
He got booted by a Tea Party guy- and the media made it sound like D day.
I mean the nonstop talk about the country being taken over by the extreme right- that Lugar was such a fine man- who was punished because he voted [often!] with Obama.
It’s funny- whenever the Democrats have a big win- a ‘take over’ it gets described as a wonderful choice that the country has made- a true generational paradigm shift.
When the President got elected- and the Dems took the house and the senate- by huge majorities- you even had conservative media Folk describing it this way [Cokie Roberts].
Yet when the right side of the aisle do a sweep- it’s the country throwing a ‘tantrum’ [yes- the main line news described it this way when the Repubs took back the house in the mid terms].
I’m not a Tea Partier- or an occupier- but from what I see the Tea Party folk are simply people who want fiscal restraint.
They have no ideological social agenda- just for the govt. to not spend more than it takes in.
Okay- sincere people might have a disagreement on this- but to describe any organized grass roots group- who are simply fiscal conservatives- to talk about them as a dangerous movement that might bring the Republic down- well that seems to be a bit much.
Well- I hate to say it [not really] but I ‘told you so’.
Yeah- if you go back and read my posts over the last 6 months- I felt like too many financial guys were hyping the chances for a strong recovery this year.
I even mentioned that Larry Kudlow- a straight shooter [business guy] was talking 3% growth for this year.
I said I thought it would be more like 2.
Now- both of these numbers are actually terrible!
But 3 would be better than 2.
Last night he changed his prediction- yeah- 2.
To me there really should be no surprise- when the Dow was at 13,200- I simply thought people were ignoring the reality on the ground.
This morning it opens at a little over 12,800- and I think the ‘real’ number should be in the low 12,ooo’s.
When we kicked off the year- some analysts were hoping for new job growth to be at around 250,000 jobs a month.
You need this many- every month- for a few years before the economy can truly recover.
So- we did have a few months at this number- and there was some good economic news as well- so I thought maybe I was wrong- maybe the E.U. crisis will not be as bad- and if everything goes good- more power to ya.
But then the month before last something happened- the new jobs number was a little over 100,000- not good.
All the talking heads gave their views- and it was possible that the number was a fluke [Sandra?]
But no- the number for last month has come out- again- a little over a 100,000.
The reason you need around 250,000 a month to really move the needle is because every month we have over 100,000 new people enter the job market.
These are people that just turned working age and are new to the market.
So- if you are barley covering jobs for them- or are a little under- in reality the unemployment goes up- not down.
But we have seen the number go down [from 8.2 to 8.1].
How can this be?
The way we calculate unemployment is by the amount of people who are actually looking for jobs.
So- if 300,000 people drop out of the hunt- then the number goes down on paper- when in reality it should go up.
So- it looks like we might be stalling again.
The E.U. zone problems are still there- and they are our biggest market.
As a matter of fact- the 17 nations that make up e.u. are the biggest economy in the world.
So- if they are our biggest customer- and if they are in trouble- we are too.
Just this past week 2 E.U. countries voted out the leaders that wanted austerity [cut spending] and put in guys who want to spend money they don’t have.
What does this mean?
It means if they keep going down this road they will be facing a depression- and it looks like the ‘cut back spending’ people are all on their way out.
So- as we see a slowing down in our country- and a continuing disaster with our biggest trading partner- well these things are not the recipe for a real recovery- and the insiders know it.
‘John- do you think we will be able to deal with our debt/deficit’?
These past few weeks as I have flipped the news/business channels- I have seen the Dems go point by point thru the Repubs budget- and at every point where they wanted to cut- they said ‘they want to cut your kids from free lunch- the elderly from their food [meals on wheels]’.
I just heard Matthews [MSNBC] say ‘how can you vote for cuts that when someone’s mother goes to the hospital for an operation- and you cut their Medicare and the doctor says- sorry- because of the Repubs- you must die’.
Now- if the Dems keep playing this game- if they do not try and deal with a very real problem- if they politicize it like this- then yes- we will be just like Greece in a few more years.
Now- I’m not saying I support the Ryan plan out of hand- but we need something fairly close.
Some say his plan does not cut the debt fast enough.
Either way- the number 1 crisis facing the country right now is our exploding debt- and the most notable organized group- who has actually organized around this problem- is the Tea Party.
While I am not a hard right type of guy- and do have some social justice issues that I support [I do not want to kick kids and grandma out on the street] yet- if the most prominent ‘right wing’ group is actually nominating people who will do something about the number one problem our country is facing.
Then maybe we should stop throwing up our hands and talking about the end of the world- maybe- just maybe- it might be what the doctor ordered.
1830- DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?
This past week I read the 1st letter of Peter [in the New Testament].
I read a chapter a day- and meditated on some key points.
I marked all the verses that dealt with the Christian doctrine on suffering. This teaching- found thru out the bible- has been neglected in much of the modern type Christianity.
Many systems of preaching and belief in our day have developed an idea that because Jesus suffered for us- therefore we need not suffer.
I’m sure some of my readers/friends have in some way been aware [affected?] by this- it’s almost impossible to have not been.
Many of the number one bestselling books [Wal mart] have these themes- most of what you would call ‘TV Evangelists’ teach this type of thing.
And many of the most popular Mega Churches of our day have some form of it within their ranks.
So- in the old style of actually writing out each verse- here we go.
‘For this is thankworthy- if a man for conscience toward God- endure grief- suffering wrongfully’
‘But if you do well and suffer for it- and take it patiently- this is acceptable with God’
‘For even hereunto were ye called- because Christ also suffered for us- leaving us an EXAMPLE that ye should follow his steps’
‘But if ye suffer for righteousness sake- happy are ye’
‘For it is better- if the will of God be so- that ye suffer for well doing rather than evil’
‘For as much then as Christ hath suffered in the flesh- arm yourselves likewise with the same mind’
‘If any man suffer as a Christian- let him not be ashamed- but let him glorify God on this behalf’
‘Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing- as unto a faithful creator’
‘But the God of all grace – who hath Called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus- after that you have suffered a while- make you perfect- stablish- strengthen- settle you’.
Okay- that’s the jist of it.
‘So why John are there so many teachings that leave this out’?
Many of the teachers are well meaning people- and they do have one side of the coin.
There are many verses in the bible that do speak about God blessing us- meeting our needs- delivering us out of trouble.
But none of these verses ‘do away’ with the ones I just quoted.
Peter himself said that Christ not only died to bring us back to God [redemption] but he also suffered for us- leaving us an example that we were to follow.
Peter says it’s better to suffer for well doing- then for evil doing.
Yet both are redemptive in nature.
Peter’s most famous suffering recorded in the bible is his very famous denial of Jesus.
The bible says after he did this he wept and was broken.
He went thru pain because of his sin- and even this suffering played a role in shaping the apostle.
Later on- we read in Christian history that when Peter was put to death in Rome- he requested that he be crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy to die the same way as his Lord.
Geez- you would think he never got over the guilt.
Yes- the bible is clear on the matter- there are times when we are called to suffer.
We can’t ‘confess’ our way out of it- or ‘create our own world’ out of it.
We can’t rebuke the devil ‘out of it’.
There are simply times when we are called to suffer.
Now- this does not mean we sit around every day and wait for the thing to happen- no- we are commanded by God to take up our Cross daily and to follow him.
But the actual phrase ‘Take up the Cross’ carries with it the idea that there is a price to pay.
Okay- what’s my goal in covering this?
Am I trying to ‘put’ a bad confession on you?
No- but I’m trying to show you that if you are feeling guilty because in your mind things might not have turned out as well as you hoped.
Maybe years ago you started well- had good Christian friends- some who went on to ‘fame’ [Yikes!!]
Others had ‘good’ lives.
And maybe you have questioned God- ‘what did I do wrong- why am I different’.
That’s the point.
One of the verses I left out was Peter saying when you go thru these trials- don’t think it strange- but understand that you have many brothers and sisters in the world who are also experiencing the same pain as you feel right now.
Yeah- that’s the jist of it.
If we hold on to the ideas/teachings- that come to us by well meaning people- encouraging people- I mean who can dis like Joel Osteen!
But we need to balance it out with the Word.
Yes- many of these teachings go by the name ‘Word churches’ or ‘word people’ and I’m glad that they do quote the word.
But the Word also contains all these verses as well.
The Word shows us that there are things we will go thru in life- and we should not be taken by surprise when this happens- God told this to us from the start.
Okay- I was thinking I might throw in a few more things about the writings of Peter- some Non Canonical writings- the Gospel of Peter- and the Revelation of Peter [apocalypse].
Being I just ended a study form a liberal scholar- these writings came up.
They are early Gnostic writings that fall into the category of Pseudopigraphy [writing under the name of another person- note- I rarely use this word because my spell check does not have it- but I wanted you to see it- just beware I might have a letter or 2 off!].
I wanted to cover a few interesting tid bits from them- and to explain why we do not have them in our bibles today.
But I think I’ll let that wait for another post.
For today- re-read these verses on your own- if you haven’t read the book of Peter in a while- read it the next few days- look for these key themes.
The other day I mentioned the book of James.
I read it a couple of weeks ago.
I realized that I also mentioned ‘off the cuff’ that James was a leader at the first church we see in the bible- the Jerusalem church.
In Acts 15 we read that Peter, James and John are Pillars of the church.
They were spiritual ‘support beams’ if you will- what they said [and say] is very important.
If you remember- when I mentioned James I shared how he praises the poor- and warns the rich.
Here in Peter we see the biblical doctrine of suffering.
When I get to John [probably will do 1st John] I’ll hit on some key themes as well.
The point being- these key figures- these ‘Pillars’ they seem to be ‘out of touch’ with many of our modern day teachings.
I wonder who’s right?
1829- A CHINESE LAWYER AND LIVING STONES
I want to try and teach a couple of things from the letter of 1st Peter [in the New Testament] – but 1st a few comments.
Today the big story is the Chinese dissident- Chen Guangcheng.
Chen is a blind lawyer who has been under house arrest for years by the govt.
His main fight against the repressive communist state is their 1 child policy.
In China- because of the population growth- if a woman gets pregnant more than once- they force the woman to have an abortion.
This practice has not only killed many innocent kids- but also causes the parents to voluntarily abort the first child if it’s a girl.
Many of the families prefer a boy if they can only have 1 child- so the moms often abort the first [or 2nd– or 3rd] if it’s a girl.
So anyway- Chen miraculously escaped house arrest and made it to ‘safety’ to the U.S. embassy in China.
Here’s where there is some contradiction.
After a couple of days hiding out in the embassy- he left of his own ‘free will’ and the U.S. escorted him to a hospital [he suffered some inures during his escape].
Then we left him there- and he came under further persecution by the govt.
He called for help- and begged the U.S. to take him and his wife and family to the U.S.
Now- Hillary Clinton just happens to be there for talks this week- and she played down the case at first- and Chen says the U.S. rep’s told him if he didn’t leave the embassy that the Chinese officials would harm his wife.
Now- both sides agree that the threat was made [Chen and the U.S.] but we are denying that we related the threat to Chen.
Either way- the man left the protection of the embassy because of fear for his family- and he is now in danger.
This incident has now overshadowed the original reason for Clinton’s visit- and all the hype this week over the Bin Laden death anniversary.
Actually- it did look bad- as I was flipping the news channels- I saw the re-run of the NBC ‘coverage’ [more like an hour long free campaign ad].
They just did a special on the lead up to the death of Bin Laden- and it showed play for play coverage of the president and his team- I mean I do give the president credit for the death of Bin Laden- but they do seem to be overplaying the hand a bit much.
Even some of the elite Special Forces guys are complaining about his politicizing of the event.
So as I’m seeing clips about ‘we made the call [to kill him] it was a risk- but that’s what the job of president is- taking risks’ on and on- talking about how much of a risk it was for Obama to make ‘the call’.
And then on the next channel- we seem to be throwing this heroic Chinese dissident under the bus- and it seems like ‘the risk’ of actually saving the guy and his family- against the will of China [our bank] who does not want the U.S. to interfere- might be too much.
It is sad- I don’t want to politicize the thing- but for the media campaign to be harping on how much of a risk it was for the president to ‘make the call’- and at the very same moment- we have a crisis that needs him to ‘make a call’ it’s a bit much.
Okay- this morning I read a little from the letter of Peter.
In chapter 2 Peter uses the imagery of Jesus- and of us- as being stones- spiritual stones in a ‘living temple’ who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God thru Christ.
I always liked this imagery- the apostle Paul also uses it in his writings [Ephesians].
Peter says Jesus was a tested corner stone- a tried stone- rejected of men- but approved by God.
We too- as living stones- will be tested and tried- and yes- rejected by men.
This is part of the process.
He will later say ‘don’t think it a strange thing- the fiery trial you are going thru- it is not only given to us to believe on Jesus- but to also suffer for him’.
This is one of the main themes you see run thru out the New Testament.
Peter even says ‘if any man suffers as a Christian [by the way- this term is only used 3 times in the New Testament] let him glorify God’
Yes- suffering and difficulty are part of the package- and the apostle tells us not to ‘think it strange’.
There are so many well meaning believers in our day who have been taught that suffering- hard times- lack of wealth- that all these things only happen to people who don’t have faith- who haven’t yet learned how to ‘claim their covenant rights’.
Now- while most of these teachers mean well- they leave out the other side of the coin.
And if you only hear the ‘happy’ side- then when the tough stuff hits- you ‘think it strange’ you say ‘geez- I guess I’m just not as good as so and so- after all- why would I be suffering’.
So Peter warns us to be aware that the trying of our faith is an important aspect of the Christian life- and there are times when believers are called upon to share in this Cross experience.
In chapter 2 Peter says that Jesus was a tested stone- one that went thru the process of being chipped and honed and shaped into the vessel that God wanted.
Part of the shaping was the rejection process.
God uses ‘tested’ stones in his temples.
In the Old Testament- when they were building the temple- the bible says they prepared the stones away from the building site- so there would be no noise of the hammers chipping away at the temple site itself.
But after the stone was ready- it would be brought to the site and placed into the building.
Often times God allows us to have ‘down time’ a place of being prepared- getting chipped away at- but when he thinks the stone is ready- it is then brought to the site and put into the building.
The apostle John- in the book of Revelation says ‘I John saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem- coming down from God out of heaven- and there was no temple in it’.
John was describing the new kingdom community [the church] that would be absent ‘the temple’ [the old system of law and temple] and would be a new people- a living temple- a kingdom of priests and kings.
These new people would offer up spiritual sacrifices to God- no longer the animal sacrifices of the law- and this would please God.
Yes- we are the people of God- kings and priests unto God.
John also says this in Revelation.
‘thou art worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof- for you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every nation tribe and tongue- and have made us KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God- and we shall reign on the earth’.
Yes- kings and priests- a new community- a living spiritual temple.
All wonderful things- but the only stones that make it into this temple are tried stones- rejected stones- stones that got ‘chipped’ at for a long period of time.
Yeah- these are the precious stones.
1827- SCHOOL LOANS AND HOW MANY TIMES DID THAT ROOSTER CROW?
I want to try and do both ‘politics and religion’- lets start with politics.
This story is a couple of days late [the big one this week is the anti Romney ad that the Obama campaign released- saying he would not have killed Bin Laden].
This story is last week’s fight over keeping the cost of federally funded student loans from doubling in July.
Basically in 2007 congress passed a law to keep the interest rates low- and it expires in a few months.
Now- both sides of the aisle actually agree on this- they just disagree on how to pay for it [around 6 billion in cost].
The Dems in the senate want to ‘tax the rich’ yes- they are not afraid to keep going to this pool- even though eventually this pool will run dry [not saying all the rich will become poor- but ultimately you drive the wealth from the country- people put their money where it won’t cost so much to keep!]
The Dems in the house want to tax the oil companies.
The Repubs want to pay for it by taking some money out of Obama care.
Okay- as the battle lines were drawn- the Repubs control the house- so they passed it- with about a dozen Dems on board- with the money coming from Obama care.
The President threatened to veto it- and the Dems began accusing the Repubs of waging ‘a war on women’s health’.
Boehner [speaker of the house] actually got mad and said the Dems are waging a phony fight.
Okay- as an independent- there are some points on both sides- but the ‘war on women’ is a stretch.
The fund in the health care law that the Repubs want to use- is a fund for preventative care- less than 1 % of this fund is targeted for women’s health.
The President and the Dems were the first ones to tap into this fund- as sort of a slush fund- when they needed the money for- of all things- a tax cut!
Yes- in the recent fight over extending the payroll tax cut [Social Security] the Dems came up with the idea to tap into this same preventive fund- and they used the money [billions] to give people a tax cut.
Now- when they did it- it was not a ‘war on women’ it was a ‘good thing’.
When the Repubs did it- it was a war on women’s health.
So- this is gridlock- this is why our country is becoming more and more dysfunctional as the days go by.
I have said this over the past few years- if we don’t actually elect people who will deal with the real issues- the big one being the cost of Medicare- which at the current rate will consume around 50 % of all federal spending in a few years- if we don’t elect people who will do this- then all the other little ‘campaign’ talking points will mean nothing.
Okay- this past week I went thru a course by Professor Bart Ehrman.
He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He teaches Christianity and the New Testament and has been popular the last couple of years because he had a N.Y. times best seller- Misquoting Jesus.
Whenever I study a course- I usually do a parallel teaching on the blog.
Not word for word- I usually have a background in the subject already- and if the course goes too ‘off course’ I dump it and just finish the blog study by memory.
This time I never planned on covering the course from the get go- because I knew Ehrman was what you would call a Liberal scholar.
Now- Liberal and Conservative- in the field of Theology- are not political matters.
Liberals are those who hold to the critical view of the bible that was developed in the 19th century- primarily out of the German universities- men like Rudolph Bultman were leaders in the field.
This ‘way’ of interpreting the bible- called Higher Criticism- had some good points to it- but at the end of the day they came to reject the historical accuracy of scripture- and said that the Gospels were written by unknown men who wanted to simply convey spiritual truths that Jesus taught.
Conservative teachers [like me] hold to the belief that the bible is indeed historically accurate- and the ‘Inspired Word of God’.
Okay- as I went thru the course- I honestly expected Bart to make a better case for his side.
I really learned nothing knew- I was already familiar with the critic’s points- and he made the same ones that the conservative side has already refuted.
Now- let me give you a few examples.
When I first started reading thru the bible as a new believer- I did find some of these ‘discrepancies’ myself.
I noticed that in Matthews’s gospel the story about the denial of Jesus says Peter will deny Jesus 3 times before the ‘rooster crows’.
In Marks gospel it says ‘before the rooster crows twice’.
When I first saw this- it really wasn’t that big of a deal to me- and one time I mentioned it to my Pastor- a good Baptist man who was trained in a Fundamentalist school- and to my surprise he was not aware of this.
I also noticed a few more things like this over the years- and my pastor simply was never trained in these areas.
Now- I mention this only to point out that if you get a well rounded education- it really should include some of these so called discrepancies.
Some of the Higher Criticism is helpful- some not.
But to avoid these textual problems- simply because you’re a Fundamentalist- does more harm than good- especially when your parishioners are learning the stuff on their own!
Okay- I ‘solved’ the problem of the denials by simply seeing that even though one gospel says ‘before the rooster crows’ and the other ‘twice’- that at the end of the day one writer is simply giving you more detail.
It really is not a contradiction- if Matthew said ‘before the roster crows once’ then yes- that would be a problem.
But he simply gave less detail than the other writer.
Okay- after becoming familiar with Ehrman- and knowing that he is famous in the field of liberal scholarship- I thought for sure he would come up with something better than this.
But in actuality- this was one of his main examples of why the bible is not historically accurate.
I couldn’t believe it.
Now- to be fair- there are other things like this that do happen- but they are all minor details of the story [John’s gospel seems to indicate that Jesus was crucified on a different feast day than the other writers say].
But all these minor details in no way justify rejecting the gospels as historically accurate.
Let me just hit on a few things that the higher critics have right.
They do point to the fact that the early followers of Jesus lived in an Oral culture- things were passed along by word of mouth for the most part.
The writing of books [scrolls] did take place- but it was not an easy- or cheap trade.
We live in a day of books and internet access and all sorts of ways for the printed word to be distributed- but in the early church it was not like this.
So- the gospels were probably written about 20-50 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Yes- this is true.
The more conservative scholars go with the earlier date [some go as early as 15 years after Christ] but no one claims that the gospels were written at the same time as Christ walking the earth.
Yes- the stories were transmitted orally [oral culture] but they were written later on.
Now- the ultra liberal scholars say ‘see- how could they have known all the facts if they were written so much later’- and Ehrman uses the example of the game ‘telephone’ [or something like that?].
Where you have one person in class tell something to the next in line- and at the end of the line you get a different account.
Ehrman says ‘see- we have no idea what/who Jesus really was’.
Okay- the main discrepancy that Bart used- was the rooster crowing.
He actually sounded mad on the C.D. [I listen while I work!] and he said ‘well- which is it [damn it!!] did the rooster crow once- or twice!’
And then he jumped to the conclusion that the gospels were really fake stories that were made up by unknown men- well meaning men- but they had no real historical truth to them.
This my friends is what I call a ‘leap of faith’.
Geez- if we did this was all other biographies- we would have no ‘factual’ histories about anyone.
I’ll end with a note to my Catholic readers.
A couple of years ago I read the Popes book- Jesus of Nazareth- I did a brief review on the blog and I really liked the book a lot.
One of the things the Pope deals with [remember- Benedict was a priest from Germany- where the whole school of higher criticism arose] in the book is this whole debate over the historical accuracy of the bible.
At one point- as he graciously- yet boldly defends the conservative view- he is talking about the liberal view that the gospels were written by these unknown men who basically made the stories up.
The Pope asks ‘and just how did these men manage to write the most popular books of all time- books that came to be revered and known and loved by generations and generations- and yet no one even knows the names of the authors?’ [I did ad lib a little here]
The bottom line is- if the gospels were written by a bunch of anonymous men who simply wanted to convey some spiritual truths about Jesus- and they managed to stay hidden for all these centuries- this theory has more holes in it than say- a rooster crowing once or twice.
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
This past week I have been reading the letter of James found in the New Testament.
James has always been a favorite- it was written [more than likely] by the brother of Jesus and it is the same James we read about in Acts chapter 15- one of the 3 main church leaders at the Jerusalem church.
Note- to my Catholic friends- when I say ‘brother’ Protestants believe that Mary had other children after giving birth to Jesus.
We both believe in the Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Spirit- but Protestants believe Mary had other children by Joseph.
Okay- not a big deal in my mind.
To defend the Catholic position somewhat- even though James is called the brother of the Lord in scripture- brother can refer to close cousins and also ‘Christian’ brothers- so that’s how our Catholic friends interpret it.
Okay- Just this morning I read the last chapter- and thru the week I tried to meditate on one chapter each day.
Key themes- defend the poor, praise the humble- and rebuke [warn] the rich.
Beware of the tongue- what you say ‘it is a world of sin’ and can start a great fire- just like a match starts a forest fire.
Works- was not ‘Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS’ ‘Rahab the harlot was JUSTIFED BY WORKS’.
To my scholarly friends- I believe a right understanding of these verses can bridge a 500 year old split between Protestants and Catholics.
I have tried my best to explain this in the past- and it takes time.
Suffice it to say that the normal Protestant interpretation does not do justice to the text.
Most Protestants try their best to say that James WAS ONLY saying ‘the faith that saves is working faith’.
While this is true- if you simply re-read the portions I quoted above- you can see there is more to it than this.
In a nutshell- Justification, Salvation, Righteousness [all words that speak about ‘being saved’] are not only static terms [one time events] but also fluent.
James uses the example from Genesis 22- when Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar.
The apostle Paul uses Genesis 15- when Abraham ‘believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness’.
I believe if we see that James is speaking about the ongoing relationship that God has with his kids- and when these kids do right- obey God- it pleases God.
And God can continue to say ‘well done son- did well’ and in the mind of James- you can say ‘Abraham was justified by works’ God said ‘good job- you’re just’.
There is more to it than this- but I think this explanation is more in keeping with the text than simply seeing James thru the lens of Paul- James does not contradict Paul- but is simply coming at it from a different angle.
Okay- James deals with the ‘rights of the worker’ yes- this is a biblical issue- workers rights!
That’s why historically the church has sided with labor movements.
Many of my conservative brothers seem to equate all union movements with ‘the left’ but to be honest to the text- James [and in this case- Jesus] can be called liberal!
James is chock full of good stuff- try and read it this week if you haven’t all ready.
One of the key themes that I always see ‘jump out’ at me is the theme of defending and honoring the poor- and rebuking the rich.
Now- to my friends who are ‘rich’ its okay- the warnings are along the lines of what the apostle Paul told Timothy [1st Timothy 6] to simply keep wealth in its proper context.
Honor God with it [by helping the poor- not by making TV preachers rich!] and be humble.
This theme is important for our day- because there are many well meaning Christians- and movements- who have gone off track with the wealth issue and have made it a goal of faith.
James- Paul- and Jesus all had strong warnings for the rich- and had great praise for the poor [they inherit the kingdom- James and Jesus said it].
For more on this subject- referred to as the Prosperity gospel- I will post a few posts from the blog right below.
These are from the February posts of each year.
During the year when I write individual posts- I put them in categories and stick them in the February posts at the start of the New Year.
So these are from the Prosperity gospel section.
Also- if you go to the blog [or are on it now] look to the left and you will find my first little book- called House of Prayer or Den of Thieves- I talk about this issue there as well.
Okay- that’s it for now- might do another politics post in a few days- not sure what’s next.
Don’t forget to try and lift each other up in prayer- help someone who’s down on their luck- share with the less fortunate in some way this week- give- but give for the purpose of helping the poor- don’t always see it as ‘an investment with a return’ but give out of love- God will reward you for it.
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
1825- PHILOSOPHY [conclusion]
Today let’s wrap up the last philosophy post for now.
Over the last 6 months or so I have posted around 25 posts- covering the pre Socratic thinkers [800 B.C.] and we made it all the way up to the 19th century.
The main philosophical thought of the 20th century was called Logical Positivism.
This idea said there were 3 stages to Western thought/culture;
First- Infancy [religious/myth]
Second- adolescence [philosophy]
Third- adult [science/empirical]
This idea said that man in the 20th century has finally advanced beyond the silly stages of religion and has now moved into a stage where the only true things are empirical in nature.
That is- for something to be true- you must be able to show it scientifically [or mathematically].
It did not take too long before the critics figured out the major flaw with this idea.
This philosophy states ‘the only truth is empirical’ this statement in itself [as well as all the books written on it] is not an empirically proven statement.
Therefore- according to its own criterion- it is false.
This particular aspect of the philosophy was called The Verification Principle [had to be proven/verified scientifically to be valid].
Pragmatism- this is the only home grown philosophy that had its roots in the U.S.
Founded by Dewey and Peirce- this thought denied objective reality and states that ‘whatever works- use it’.
Of course being ‘pragmatic’ in a practical way is fine- we do want things to work.
But at its core Pragmatism says there are no real ethics- no right or wrong- just things people do.
In the beginning of the 20th century you had the British thinker/mathematician Bertrand Russell.
Russell was a good man- raised as a Christian.
But as a young man he read a book by John Stuart Mill [19th century] that questioned one of the classic arguments for the existence of God [the argument from first cause].
Mill said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not God- who caused him’.
Russell accepted Mills claim- and became an influential atheist/agnostic.
The main flaw with this argument- that everything ‘has a cause’ is that it’s false.
The law of Cause and Effect [Causality] does not state that everything has a cause- it says that ‘every effect has a cause’.
That is- there is nothing in existence- an effect- that came from nothing.
Some argued that there was no initial cause- but an infinite series of ‘little’ cause and effects that go on forever.
This too is wrong- it leads to another problem called the Infinite Regress.
If there is no First cause- then logically you can never arrive at ‘Now’
There had to have been a starting point somewhere [Einstein has since proved this] and the starting point [Big Bang] could not have come from nothing.
This too is a very common belief among many well meaning people- that somehow science has taught us that all things came from nothing.
This could not be further from the truth- this is referred to as Creation Ex Nihilo- which too is scientifically false.
The only other option- beside the Infinite Regress- and the creation out of nothing- is there had to have been some type of first cause- who is not limited to the material realm.
By nature this being would have to be Metaphysical [outside the physical realm] and would have to be self existent- having no beginning.
To have a First cause- who himself is infinite- is indeed consistent with the principals of logic- and at the end of the day is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of all other things.
Okay- as we end our posts on philosophy for now- why did I cover this?
Thru out the history of the church Christians have grappled and challenged the other world views- and have done a good job at it.
The Christian perspective is not some silly religious way of life that has no real proof.
To the contrary- the church has had the upper hand in all these debates down thru the centuries.
But in today’s ‘media market’ Christianity- the proliferation of self help books [everyday day a Friday?]
The nonstop talk about becoming rich- or sending your money to ‘my ministry’ as a ‘seed faith’ to become rich.
In this environment- many outsiders see the church as an irrelevant- never ending drum beat that they can’t wait to switch to another channel.
This is not the history of the church- and the church has historically won the debate on the reality of God.
It’s just the average person does not know it.
So- for the Christian to be learned in these fields- to have a working knowledge of the opposing world views- is a good thing.
Why do so many believers avoid a field like philosophy?
The apostle Paul warned the Colossians ‘beware of the philosophies of men’.
He also wrote to his protégé Timothy ‘beware of the oppositions of science- falsely so called’.
The word for science in this text is Gnosis- the Greek work for knowledge.
In the early days of the church there was a Christian cult that rose up- called Gnosticism.
More than likely- Paul was not saying that all science- as we use the term today- is bad- but he was warning against a particular from of science- called Gnosticism.
The same with the warning on philosophy- while you could apply it to all philosophy- that is to say that we should be careful when people try to give us opposing ways of thought- yet in context it seems like the apostle is dealing with the philosophies that oppose Christian thought.
For the first 1500 years of the Christian church the study of Theology and Philosophy went hand and hand.
After the Protestant Reformation [15th century] many Protestants avoided the field- which I think was a mistake.
So- as we close up this subject for now- maybe review a few of the posts on the blog that I did these last few months- become more familiar with the apologetic arguments for the existence of God.
Christians do not have to argue- or oppose atheists- or other religions that hold a different view than we do.
But we should be able to give a defense for the faith- to explain to society around us why we believe the things we do.
At the end of the day- we really do have the winning argument.
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
1824- LAST TRAIN TO VICTORVILLE [a dog [man?] eat dog world]
As we wrap up the week- we have had some serious [and silly] discussions going on in the country.
Yes- a few weeks back the Obama team decided to make the ‘dog on Romney’s car’ a story.
His campaign people began talking about the way Romney treated his dog by making him ride on the roof on a trip to Canada.
Oh yes- you even have on-line sites- by dogs- who are criticizing Romney.
Now- when you do stupid stuff like this [on both sides] and make it an issue- then beware- they will find a dog story about you.
Sure enough- the ‘right’ found a quote from Obama where he admitted he dined on Dog meat while a 7 year old boy in Indonesia.
Oh yea- sweet.
You saw all the on line pictures of Obama chomping on a hot dog- but in place of the wiener you saw a cute pup with mustard on his head.
You had the Pres chasing after his dog at the white house- with a spatula in hand- ready to plop him on the grill.
Yeah- we spent a week with the dog wars.
Well- we did have the vote on the Buffet Tax go down in flames.
This is where my friends on the left don’t seem to get it.
As an independent- I try and see the middle ground- the real value [if any] behind the things the President wants to do.
I don’t hate the man- see him as a commie- but he does do [say] things that are really disingenuous.
Okay- the tax on millionaires.
The president- and his cronies- keep saying- nonstop- that millionaires need to pay ‘their fair share’ and that they pay less than the average working stiff.
The famous quote about Buffet is ‘he pays less than his secretary’.
Now- this has been said so much- people actually now believe it.
What John- aint it true?
The tax rate on millionaires [income tax] is around 38%.
That’s the highest you can go.
So why does the Pres keep saying they pay less?
He’s talking about the tax rate on investment income [Stocks].
This rate- called Capital Gains tax- is 18%.
Now- if you’re a millionaire with no regular income- and you live off your stock income [dividends] then your only paying 18 on that.
John- do most millionaires do this?
There are more millionaires who pay both rates- income tax at 38- and capital gains at 18.
In reality- if Obama passed the ‘millionaires’ tax- it would raise about 4 billion a year- which is nothing compared to a 15-16 trillion dollar debt.
But the president has said this tax would fix the debt- and do a host of other things which is simply not true.
It is only a political game- that’s it.
So- when you do stuff like this- waste all this time going around the country claiming that this millionaire’s tax is some sort of solution- then we know he is not serious about really dealing with the major problem the country is facing- dealing with entitlements.
Okay- being we are in another possible economic slowdown [things are not looking that good- the European crisis is rearing its head- and some housing and jobs numbers are showing bad signs].
What does the president have on the table as a jobs plan?
I have mentioned this a few times in the past- but his plan right now [besides pouring billions into a hole called solar energy] is to do High Speed Rail.
Yes- the president has talked about pouring billions of dollars into high speed rail projects- while at the same time cutting billions form other real programs.
The train from Victorville [80 miles outside of downtown L.A.] to Vegas.
The govt. has a program [RRIF] where we lend money to rail projects across the land.
Now- the main purpose of the program- is to either fix or upgrade existing rail lines.
The president has been stopped with the stimulus money- congress is not going to give him any more.
The only chance of getting more ‘fake money’ into the game is if the Fed Reserve does a Qe-3 [prints another batch of money] and puts it on the table.
So- the president knows if he can simply spend more govt. money- in any way [like extending the ‘payroll’ tax cut- all this does is starve the Social Security fund for another year- so people have more money now. This is not policy- per se- its simply saying ‘we won’t have people pay into the system while I’m president- so they spend more in the market- and I won’t look so bad’].
Now- the only way the pres could get the money for these silly rail projects- is to use an existing govt. loan program to fund it.
This rail line will fulfill one major purpose- it will transport tourists from the L.A. area to Vegas- to the casinos [Harry Reid’s pet lobby- that’s why he as the majority leader in the senate will pass it].
Yes- this project is the brain child of the casino moguls- what Obama terms as ‘the fat cats’.
The train departs from Victorville- goes nonstop to Vegas- at a cost of about 100 bucks.
It takes about 4 hours to drive- once you’re on the train- 80 minutes.
You have to drive from L.A. to the Town of Victorville- Park your car [for a charge] and when you get to Vegas- either rent a car- or ride the taxi.
The rail line has no real purpose for those coming to L.A. from Vegas- because you would be stuck 80 miles outside of town- and have to rent a car for the day- plus get back on the train on your way home- and pay the car rental spot to pick up your car- and drive home.
Okay- you could fly round trip from L.A. to Vegas for around the same price.
Their already is a private bus co. [probably more than one] who will take you and a crowd for 99 bucks- plus feed you on the way.
But no- the real pressing need of the country- at a cost of 5 billion tax dollars [one years worth of the Buffet tax]- is to build this high speed rail- after all- look at all the jobs it will create.
The so called benefits of these rail lines are they create less pollution and auto traffic.
Because everyone will abandon their silly cars and ride the rail.
In most places [if not all?] where this has been tried- the govt. has to step in and underwrite the loss at the cost of the taxpayer.
These projects just don’t work- or you would have had the casino moguls get funding for it thru the banks.
So- the rail line plan- the presidents main plan for jobs [he said this in his state of the union- remember- our Sputnik moment?]
Is doomed for failure.
It will also shut down the private bus services that now do this.
It will compete with the round trip ticket from the private plane companies.
It will cost jobs in the end- not create them.
All at a cost of 5 billion tax dollars.
The govt. loan company that makes these loans has never spent this much before.
Yes- I’m not talking another single loan- no- they have never spent this much in their entire history of making loans- total.
So Obama is simply using them as a cover to get stimulus money for the project.
A project that would basically cost you- and me- 5 billion tax dollars- all so tourists could ride to the casinos.
Okay- this is what we mean when we say the president simply does not have the experience for the job.
That he has made bad business decisions- and continues to make them- time and time again [Solyndra].
No- I’m not mad at the president for chowing down some fine dog cuisine while in Indonesia.
I’m just worried that Dog meat might be the meat of the future- because if this high speed rail plan is what’s gonna bail us out- then we all might be eatin it soon.
1821- TRAYVON REDUX
I know it’s a little late- but I hope everyone had a good Easter.
I ‘enjoyed’ seeing all the media reports of the towns that canceled their Easter egg hunts because of past violence- by the grown ups.
Yes- they showed video of people trampling each other- pushing kids out of the way- and one video taken by a bystander showed the start of one hunt.
As they rang the bell they were off. One mom falls down and the amateur videographer gives ‘play by play’ coverage- in the classic style of Howard Kossel.
Remember ‘Down goes Frazier- Down goes Frazier’?
Yes- we heard ‘down goes mom- down goes mom’ as the other ‘adults’ were about to trample her.
It was just such a wonderful way for us to remember the resurrection of Christ.
And then as I watched the ridiculous ‘media’ coverage of MSNBC [and NBC].
I couldn’t get over the nonstop talk about Mormons being a cult.
I mean show after show was talking this way- question after question about Romney’s involvement in the church- how he was a lay elder in the church- over and over and over- from this network.
So Orin Hatch- a long time senator who is a Mormon [like Harry Reid] says that he believes the Obama campaign and the media are going to attack Romney on his faith.
Now- guess what network could not believe that this charge was made?
You got it- NBC-MSNBC.
Yeah- they did entire programs [Hardball] asking the question ‘do you think the media/Obama will attack Romney’s religion’?
I couldn’t believe it- it might be the first time that the actual network who is doing the attacking- nonstop- at the same time will try and spin ‘no one is attacking Romney- how anyone even dare think it’!
It would be funny if it were not true.
Even David Gregory- the lead news guy for the Sunday morning NBC show [Meet the Press] had on a panel of various reliogus people- and he too brought up the question ‘why would Hatch- or anybody make such a false charge!’
On the panel there was a Mormon congressman- he said right there ‘your own network is the major offender- Lawrence O’Donnell even said the Mormon church was founded by a guy who simply wanted to have sex with more than one wife’.
I mean it’s ridiculous- the actual network who is the chief offender- is at the same time trying to spin a fake story that ‘how dare anyone even think that the media are attacking Romney’s faith’.
It reminds me of the time when one of the news magazine shows [20-20 ?] did an ‘expose’ about cars exploding on impact.
In the piece they indeed showed you these cars getting hit- and Walla- they blew up like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.
Now- the actual car makers- they watched the show and could not believe their cars were blowing up like this.
I mean it made the classic Pinto look like a fire proof space ship.
So the car makers had an expert look at the video and they discovered that the news show actually placed exploding detonators right at the point of impact.
They had some bomb specialist off to the side and he was detonating the device at the point of impact.
You know how the news channel reacted when they got caught?
After they couldn’t hide what they did- they said ‘oh yeah- sure we blew the cars up with our own bomb- but it was made to simulate what was happening on the street’.
They actually tried to get the public to believe that what they did was just.
Yeah- go ahead NBC- be outraged over anyone ever even thinking that the media would attack Romney’s faith- and oh- keep playing the MSNBC pieces that smear the guy nonstop- we will never figure it out.
And last but not least- last night George Zimmerman was arrested in Fla.
Yes- the special prosecutor made the arrest.
I have written on this case a few times- and I have basically taken the side of Trayvon.
Now- as a media watcher- I do realize that there was some unfair reporting on both sides.
Initially they showed pictures of Trayvon at the age of 12-13.
He looked like a little boy.
Then they made it sound like this ‘little boy’ was just buying skittles and tea- for himself [as opposed to his little brother at the house] and Zimmerman attacked him.
Okay- if you look at the more recent pictures of Trayvon- he was a big kid- looked in good shape.
I will tell you- at the age of 13 it’s not easy to beat up an adult- but at 17 it’s not hard at all.
So it is possible that Trayvon was pissed about being followed- and maybe did throw the first punch- I don’t know.
But whenever you have an unarmed teen shot to death- and the armed person was the initiator of the confrontation- even if the final confrontation was Trayvon coming back to the car to approach Zimmerman- then you at least need an arrest.
I know the media- the right and the left- have now turned this into a political debate- which is sad.
Every time I hear the parents speak- especially the mom- she is a sincere person who lost her son.
She has never called for vigilante justice- and she has prayed to God for the right thing to be done.
Like I said- I have heard both sides- and I have seen media bias- on both sides.
But in the end- I think Zimmerman did indeed cross a line- how the last 2 minutes of the incident happened- we don’t know yet.
But if that’s the voice of Trayvon crying for help- and not Zimmerman- then the man needs to do some prison time.
1820- WHERE THE GRAPES OF WRATH ARE STORED
Let’s end the week with a look at the death of Christ.
Today- Good Friday- is the day we remember the Passion.
In Psalms 22 we see a Messianic prophecy- the words king David spoke thru the Holy Spirit.
These are the words- feelings- that Jesus had on the night before he was crucified- he went to the Garden of Gethsemane [literally- The Olive Press] and was in extreme anguish.
In this Psalm we read ‘I am a worm and no man’ ‘all that see me laugh at me- they think my cause is hopeless’ ‘I cried and prayed and you never heard me- I have no rest day or night’.
Read the psalm later today- see the pain he went through.
The garden of Gethsemane was an Olive garden at the base of the ‘The Mount of Olives’.
It was a place where olives were crushed- the process allowed the oil to come forth- which was a picture of what Jesus was going thru- he was ‘being crushed’ so the oil [Spirit] would come forth to the world [Acts 2].
In the prayer he says ‘Father- if it’s possible- remove this cup- never the less- not my will but yours be done’.
Many of us are familiar with this phrase ‘thy will be done’ but we miss the cup part.
What was the cup?
The cup stood for ‘the cup of the wrath of God’ it was a symbol of the judgment of God coming upon the sins of the world.
When Jesus said ‘take away the cup’ he wasn’t afraid of dying- but he ‘feared’ the separation that was going to take place from God.
As he ‘drank the cup’ [the sins of the world] he would become ‘the container’ of the wrath of God- he would be cursed from God as a ‘sinful’ thing.
The apostle Paul says ‘he- [Jesus] became sin for us- who knew no sin- that we might become the righteousness of God in him’ [Corinthians].
So Jesus struggled with the cup.
In the book of Revelation chapter 14 we see an image of the cup and wrath.
There are angels coming out from the throne- we see Jesus sitting on a cloud and angels all around.
The angel says ‘thrust in your sickle and reap- for the harvest of the earth is ripe’ and we see the ‘Winepress of wrath’.
The picture is this angel reaping the earth- gathering the ‘grapes of the earth’ [Steinbeck- the Grapes of wrath] and casting them into a winepress [another type of pressing- like the olive imagery].
The Winepress is ‘outside the city’ [very significant image] and the blood from the press goes out for 184 miles.
This is a scene of judgment and wrath.
During the civil war the north used this verse as their theme song- The Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is Trampling out the Vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
Yes- the winepress was an image of where the grapes of wrath waited for the pressing- when the blood would come forth.
Now- this next part really deserves a full study- but let me do a brief overview.
The writer of Hebrews [probably Paul] speaks about an altar that sits ‘outside the city’ where the animal’s bodies were burned.
In Old Testament Jewish law- some of the animals bodies were not fully burned at the time of the offering- the blood that was used for the Day of Atonement was not a complete burnt offering- the animal blood was used.
So- the Jewish people had a spot- outside the gate of the court [outside the city] where the bodies were burned.
Now- the writer of Hebrews says this is a type- a picture- of the final sacrifice of Christ that took place ‘outside of the law’.
That is Jesus established a New Covenant in his own Blood- not part of the Old animal sacrificial system.
Okay- his death took place ‘outside the gate’- that’s important to see.
Now- as Jesus struggled with his impending death- he came to a point where he sweat drops of blood- he then said ‘if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it- then so be it’.
He drinks the cup ‘of the wrath of God’ and in a sense he becomes the place ‘where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
He himself becomes the final sin sacrifice for humanity- the place of pressing- where the ‘wine/blood comes out’.
As we finish this Holy Week- getting ready for the resurrection celebration this Sunday- let’s not forget that Jesus drank the cup- he became sin for us who knew no sin.
Yes- as the North sang ‘mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord he is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored’.
They weren’t seeing that the place where the grapes of wrath were stored were inside the Son of God- he drank the cup ‘to the dregs’ and was ‘trampled on’ by God’s wrath.
Yes- Jesus said ‘I am a worm and no man’ he was in anguish for you- and me.
Amen- and amen.
1818- WHO IS BARRY?
Last night I was channel surfing the news shows- and I caught Lawrence O’Donnell doing another one of his ‘anti Mormon’ critiques.
Yes- MSNBC has an ongoing narrative where they speak about Romney as a ‘strange- weird- cult member’.
I saw this months ago- and they have been faithful to their task.
So anyway O’Donnell is covering the ancient teaching of Brigham Young [the co-founder of the Mormon religion- a follower of Joseph Smith] and he’s quoting all the racist teachings that he held to.
Specifically that mixed marriages are wrong.
Now- I could quote the actual Christian bible- yes- the Protestant/Catholic bible- and find this teaching in there.
Yes- the bible O’Donnell believes in!
But that would solve nothing.
Many old time preachers did teach this doctrine- from many various denominations.
Do we [I] believe that mixed marriage is wrong?
But you do have some fundamentalist groups who still teach this.
So O’Donnell is fulfilling his task to portray Romney as a cult guy- and he spends a big portion of the show telling everyone that Romney’s religion is racist.
Now- you could find stuff like this out- with all the other candidates- even the President- yet this network is really not a news network- they are simply Obama devotees.
Axelrod- the presidents campaign guy- a few weeks back tweeted that Romney’s religion does not allow women to enter the temple when they are menstruating.
He left the tweet up for a little while then pulled it.
I have heard other Mormons say this is a false charge- I really don’t know if the church ever taught it- but it’s possible.
Again- you do have certain health standards in the Old Testament- that if you read them- they speak about ‘uncleanness’ when a woman is menstruating.
We find verses on Dwarves not being able to serve God.
People [men] whose ‘stones’ are crushed not being able to serve God [testicals are stones].
So if you wanted- you could trace all these things- not just to Brigham Young or Joseph Smith- but you could also tie them in to the Christian faith.
Now- do most sane Christians believe these ‘strange’ teachings are still in effect?
Thank God- no.
But if your goal is to simply slander the opponent- then have at it.
Over the last few years- as a news watcher/reader- you pick up on certain clues along the way.
Maybe a story won’t make it into the mainstream [for various reasons- to cover up for a person- etc.] But as you read the other columnists- you see little pieces of the puzzle.
So- one of the charges that the ‘right’ has made against Obama is that he had a different name when he grew up- and went to school.
Some say he held the name ‘Barry Sotero’.
They claim his identity is in question because he might have been legally adopted by his stepdad- thus throwing the whole citizenship issue back into play.
Now- I have never read/heard a ‘mainstream news’ report on this- so I never brought it up [to me- it’s just as bad as raising the history of Romney’s church up- a belief he- and most Mormons do not hold to].
But as an avid reader of all stripes [both Liberal and Conservative writers].
I noticed something about a year ago- Maureen Dowd- a liberal columnist who writes for the N.Y. Times- she started referring to the president as Barry.
She gives no reason for it- she does not try and defend her use of it- she simply knows that he did indeed use this name- from what I can tell- all the way right up into his years in college.
Then why would you have never heard about this until now?
Because the media have a narrative- a story they want to tell [and also believe in].
They tell one that has the opponents of the president as a bunch of weird cult members- people who reject mixed marriages- people whose women can’t attend church when they are on their period- who have houses that have elevators for their cars [Romney].
These same media people were so entranced by a particular image of a man- an unrealistic messianic image- that they were so taken captive by- that one of them quit their job as a reporter- right on the spot- to simply join the most ‘transformative presidency’ in the history of man [Linda Douglas- who was reporting on the 2008 election].
You had another reporter [George Stephanopoulos] who admitted on national TV that he cried- very loudly [I guess like when you can’t get a word in type thing?] when he watched the inauguration of the president.
Chris Matthews famously said a thrill goes up his leg when he simply hears words proceeding from the presidents mouth.
Now- I don’t hate the man.
I don’t even like Romney.
But as you attempt to navigate between what’s best- what’s true- what’s fake.
For us to get treated to the 200 year old teaching of some strange leader of a religious sect- and yet for us to not even know that the current president never even came to the mainland of the U.S. until college- is striking.
Yes- the president lived in Indonesia- spent time in Kenya- visited the African continent- wrote about the anti Imperial mindset of the African colonies.
He was influenced by stories and people whose view of America was negative.
He lived among them- went to school with them.
Wore their Muslim garb [yes].
Prayed the Muslim prayer.
Used the name Barry.
And never stepped on the lower 48 until college.
Now- does this mean he’s a bad man?
But for us to know that menstruating Mormons cant attend temple- and to not know any of this- well that’s what you call media bias.
That’s not journalism.
1817- SCOTUS stuff
As the week begins I want you to see if you can catch the narrative- the ‘new’ story that the media is going to tell.
This past week- the top story was the case of the Supreme Court hearing the arguments about the health care law [referred to as Obama Care- not the real name].
As the justices closed the last day of hearings- most observers seem to think that the law will be struck down as unconstitutional.
This came as a surprise to some in the ‘media/legal’ world- but not all.
As a brief review- the main argument against the law [there are a few] is that the federal govt. overstepped its boundaries by telling the states that their people had to by a private product- health insurance.
Now- as the year went by- some of the lower courts agreed with the President’s side- others did not.
They just about split 50-50 on it.
Some judges did indeed seem to agree with the side that said the federal govt. – under the Commerce Clause- does not have the right to make people by insurance.
Now- why would the president have constructed the law- using the Commerce Clause as the basis to make people by insurance?
He knew that to simply do a straight ‘raise a tax to pay for health care’ would not pass.
That is- would not pass congress- though there is no doubt that it would have survived the courts.
Yes- the constitution does indeed give the power to tax to the federal govt. – this is clear.
So- in my mind- when I first heard the 2 sides- I thought it was actually reasonable to conclude that the law would get struck down- because the Commerce Clause says the govt. has the right to regulate commerce [business] between the states- but not to force people to buy a product..
And the President said ‘being everybody will eventually access the system [which by the way is not true- there are some people who live- and die- without ever even going to the E.R. ]
But the Presidents side said being everyone is already doing ‘commerce’ by the fact that they will someday use the system- therefore we are just regulating it by telling people to start paying now.
To me- this was a stretch- and it seems like a majority of the court agree.
So- after the very bad week for the Presidents side- the media began spinning the story.
Nina Totenberg- NPR- a fairly liberal news lady- been around for a while.
She was on one of the morning news shows and she said that almost ‘all’ legal experts agree that this case is a hands down win for Obama.
But because the court- the 5 conservatives- are the ‘Bush Court’ [they gave the election to Bush under the Bush versus Gore ruling] that they are now basically a Tea Party court- a right wing court who either does not know the law- or is refusing to rule according to the law.
Now- the problem with this is the media are going to being spinning this- a few others have already gone down this road [Carville].
I can already hear my liberal friend- in a week or 2- saying ‘geez- can you believe these Bush justices- they are practically breaking the law by going against Obama care’.
It’s sad- and wrong- because this is not what happened at all.
There are 9 justices that make up the court- most think that 4 are liberal- 4 conservative- and that justice Kennedy plays a ‘swing vote’ role.
Why are some said to be liberal and others conservative?
It’s not a political statement to say this about the justices- but it has to do with the way they interpret their role on the court.
Conservatives believe it’s the role of the court to simply interpret the constitution.
That when they hear cases- they simply need to look at the constitution- and the way the previous courts have ruled- and that’s how the decision should be made.
The Lib’s have an idea that the constitution is a ‘living document’ [Ginsberg has said this- a liberal justice on the court]. And they believe that you should be able to make decisions based on what the founders might have thought if they were around today- don’t just limit your decisions based on the ‘static’ reading of the constitution.
Okay- because it is true that Republicans usually nominate more conservative types- and Democrat presidents nominate liberals- this does not mean in any way that the justices make rulings based on what party they belong to.
It’s really slanderous for the media to begin telling this ‘story’ this narrative that the 5 conservatives are ruling ‘politically’ because after all- their conservatives.
See how they do this?
Whatever way the court rules [they actually voted the other day- but the final ruling wont be revealed until the summer] it would be right to think that they ruled according to the way they think- that the conservatives more than likely thought the Commerce Clause did not give the federal govt. the right to mandate people to buy a product.
And the Liberal justices who will vote for it- they probably will do so because it fits more in with their legal thinking- they won’t vote for it simply because they are politically liberal [though that’s also probably true] but because that’s the view they sincerely hold to.
So get ready- you will begin hearing how the justices are either outright hostile to Obama- because they owe their allegiance to Bush- or they are really inept- sort of a picture of them being out of touch with ‘the majority’- if not all- of the ‘legal experts’.
Read- think for yourself.
My first impression- when I first heard the Commerce Clause argument- was that the argument was weak- and that to interpret a law that says ‘the federal govt. has the right to regulate commerce’ to think that means ‘we can make you buy insurance’ it just seemed like a stretch to me.
I really don’t need Totenberg- or Carville- or anybody to explain to me that ‘all’ the legal minds think the other way- besides this being not true- you can simply read the case being made- and see that the conservative argument- over this particular point- seems right.
I am not saying that there are not real issues about health care that we do need to deal with- there are.
Nor am I saying that ‘Obama care’ is a socialist takeover of the country [that’s as bad as Totenberg’s lie].
But I am saying- don’t let the media tell you how to believe- begin demonizing the 5 conservatives to a point where you believe the lie- that there is ‘no way’ true- honest- legal minds would have struck down the mandate.
The fact is- most reasonable people would probably conclude the same thing.
The majority of the American people believe the same thing about the mandate- that it is wrong.
The majority of the court seem to be saying the same thing.
But the Totenberg’s of the world- they are going to tell you ‘another story’ try- real hard- to see that it’s just ‘a story’.
1816- CASA DI MI PADRE
This is the latest Will Ferrell flick to hit the big screen.
It’s in Spanish [no joke] and Ferrell speaks all his lines in Spanish.
I caught his interview on Jon Stewart- plugging the movie- and it looks funny.
I do like Ferrell- I clipped an article [so I would remember to mention it] and just about 5 minutes ago as I re-read the thing- I couldn’t stop laughing.
It shows a picture of Ferrell- all made up to look like a Mexican drug lord [I think he plays a brother of one in the movie] and he’s holding this rifle- in a real awkward way- and he looks like an idiot.
That’s what makes me laugh about the guy- he’s just funny.
The movie is a spoof of the Spanish Telenovela movies- he’s basically making fun of the genre- and at the same time trying to appeal to both Spanish and English speaking audiences.
As the week ends- there have been some surprises in the news world.
Most observers think the Health Care law has more of a chance of being struck down by the court than less of a chance.
It was not so last week- so this is a major story.
Also about 2 weeks ago I wrote some posts on the Syrian situation- if you remember both Russia and China rejected the U.S. lead effort [in the U.N.] to condemn Assad [the Syrian president] and call for his ouster.
At the time I said the U.S. needs to realize that we can’t keep calling for the ouster of leaders- even bad ones- every time a rebellion rises up.
Because the radical Islamist groups see this- and that’s why you started having various protestors calling for ‘NO FLY ZONES’.
They were reading us- and at times trying to simply manipulate us to do their bidding.
Now- after our U.N. resolution failed [because of China and Russia voting it down] Susan Rice- the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.- made a public statement- calling it ‘unconscionable’ and using language that you normally don’t see by ‘fellow negotiators’ from the U.N.
As I watched the fallout- I saw that experts at how the U.N. process works- they said Rice was incompetent- and her reaction showed her inability to handle the job.
These criticisms came from both sides- Russian and U.S.
I also said at the time that the U.S. needs to basically listen to what Russia’s objections are- and we need to move in their direction on this- and not the other way around.
Russia basically was fed up with the West coming in and backing rebel groups- unseating the leaders of the countries- and then leaving the place a mess [Libya- Egypt].
Russia [and China] saw the writing on the wall- and they called for a ceasefire on all sides- and for everyone to sit down at the table.
I thought this was the best way to go as well.
But Rice [U.S.] called for Assad to step down [which means he will get tried and executed- as various Al Qaeda groups take the country over].
So just the other day- the news headlines read ‘Russia capitulates to U.S. position’.
As I read the article- the opposite happened.
We agreed to the Russian position- not the other way around.
But every article on it- bar none- made it look like ‘we prevailed’.
That Obama and his team were the real experts- standing up for liberty- and the other side lost.
How many people knew enough to see that the articles were wrong- how many just read the headlines and thought ‘wow- what a bang up job that Susan Rice is doing at the U.N.’
This is how media bias works- sometimes I think they even believe their own stuff- even when it’s obviously wrong.
In the next week or so I’m going to try and wrap up a few more posts on Philosophy.
We started around 6 months ago- with the pre Socratic Philosophers [7-800 years B.C.] and made it all the way up to the Existentialists of the 19th century.
I hate to stop there- because we were right at the time of the rise of the Atheistic existentialists- the Nihilists- who saw no hope in existence.
These guys ‘stole’ existentialism from its founder- a Christian- Soren Kierkegaard- and developed a purposeless philosophy- a ‘man without hope’ future world.
Guys like John Paul Sartre and Camus [20th century] were writing/saying things like ‘the only question now left is the viability of suicide’.
Books with the simple title ‘Nausea’ or ‘no exit’ [a play]- describing the fate of man.
As I watch/read the current trends- it is tempting to see our future in this way.
I mean society is struggling for meaning- Arab nations are going thru tremendous times of questioning- and some observers are grasping at the solutions that the 19th century Atheists already espoused- and failed.
Men like Sam Harris [the End of Faith] blame all society’s ills on religion itself- pointing to Islamic terrorism- and making statements like ‘almost all wars are religion based’.
I mean his argument sounds good- he’s just wrong.
Out of all recorded major wars- around 1700- under 10 % are considered religious in nature.
But who really has time for facts like this?
So- over the next few weeks- as I watch the scene- maybe catch the Ferrell flick- I will keep in mind another famous line of Ferrell’s.
He was talking to Christina Applegate- in his classic film ‘Anchorman- the Legend of Ron Burgundy’.
And there sitting at some lookout- viewing the city of L.A.
And Ferrell waxes eloquent about the city- he says ‘L.A. – the city named after..’
Well- it’s kinda crass- he basically says it was named after the female part of a whale.
Christina looks at him- puzzled- and says ‘I think its name means City of Angels’.
Ferrell disagrees- he tells her ‘well- we will just have to agree to disagree’.
She says ‘no- I’m pretty sure I’m right’.
I’m glad the country is having a debate about what’s right and wrong- the Trayvon Martin case- the ethical responsibility that society has to the poor [Health care arguments].
Our role as a lead nation ‘among nations’- how to side with the protestors- in a responsible way that doesn’t leave the nations in a mess when where done.
All of these debates are ethical in nature- the questions we are asking is ‘is this right or wrong’.
And contrary to some modern thinkers- there is a right and a wrong on these issues- yes- sometimes we compromise- sometimes we ‘agree to disagree’ and sometimes it takes one side to tell the other ‘no- I think you are wrong on this’.
Do it in love- do it with boldness- ‘speaking truth to power’ but when you see the need- then do it.
1814- I WILL NEVER SEE MY HOME AGAIN
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey- there were certain stories that I heard- you know- things that stick with you for the rest of your life.
One of the all time greats was the day my mom took my Italian Grandma to the store.
Now- my mom was notorious for getting lost- even as a young kid I would tell her directions on my way to school- blocks from the house!
But this one was the best.
The store they were headed to was named Valley fair- it was about 15 minutes from the house- I drove passed it many times- even rode my bike there.
So my mom picks up Nauna and off they go.
Now- my Nauna was a first generation immigrant- you know- came over on the boat [Plane?]
So you might see things differently because of that- having had the experience of leaving your homeland and moving to some strange new world.
As they make this ‘short’ drive- my mom begins worrying that she might have missed the turn.
As a matter of fact- it seems like they have been driving for a while [quite a while to be exact!]
So she finally stops at the gas station and asks the guy ‘do you know where Valley Fair is’?
The guy looks puzzled- and you must understand [to those of you not from the Garden State] that the cities are so tight- it’s easy to drive thru 10 cites without even realizing you did it.
So the guy asks ‘what city is the store in’?
She tells him [I think the town was Little Ferry?]
He still looks puzzled- he asks ‘what state is that in’?
Yes- they drove out of state and were wandering in New York state.
My Nauna simply said ‘I will never see my home again’.
Yes- we all hate change- we fear the new environment- having to learn new tasks.
Today is day 3 for the Supreme Court to hear the oral arguments on Obama Care.
They set aside 6 hours over 3 days for the case- which is really extraordinary.
They usually give you one hour and that’s it.
But they know this is a major thing- and they want to hear both sides.
By most accounts- the Solicitor General for the govt. [the lawyer who argues the case for it] had a bad day.
Some even went as far to predict that the law will get struck down [Toobin for CNN].
I think it’s still too early to say that- but it did look like the court might be accepting [at least asking] more arguments on the side of those who want to overturn the law then those who are for it.
Why are so many people against it?
About 2/3rd’s of the country do not like the mandate [Me too].
People will indeed be forced to buy insurance- or pay the fine.
I found it funny that one of the more liberal justices- Stephen Bryer- kind of rebuked the president’s lawyer [the guy arguing for it].
The lawyer kept referring to the fine as ‘the tax’ and Bryer called him out on it.
Why was the lawyer fudging like this?
Because if you argue that the mandate is simply a tax- then by all accounts the govt. has the power to tax.
But the law was not drawn up this way- because of political reasons.
So instead of saying the charge is a tax- they said it’s a fine.
As this case has made its way thru the courts- the govt. has tried this a few times- and one judge said ‘look- you have argued in public that this is not a tax- now you are saying it is- you can’t have it both ways’.
So the govt. [Obama] has really twisted this thing a lot.
I don’t know if the court will uphold or reject the law- but things look brighter today for those who want it struck down.
One of the things that will happen- is if it passes- is things will change.
Now- frankly I’m not in the camp of thinking the whole country will go socialist over it- to be honest the mandate used to be a Repub idea [the Heritage Foundation- a conservative think tank- once supported the idea].
Socialism- in its truest form- would have been the one payer- govt. run system- this plan is not that.
But yeah- there will be changes- many for the worse- a few for the better.
Many people will lose their employer provided insurance- because it will be cheaper for the Employers to drop their coverage and let people fall into the plan.
So that will be bad for some.
And of course- the argument that all the govt. is doing is regulating commerce [that’s the argument they are using- the commerce clause] is really silly in my mind- they are trying to mandate people to buy a private product- from the private business sector- this is much more than simply regulating commerce.
But overall- if it passes- things will change.
Yes- change is scary- we get used to familiar surroundings- then one day you wake up- head out to the store- and before you know it- you will never see your home again.
1812- John 3- Ephesians 2 [and the chicken!]
I want to cover the 2 bible chapters that I mentioned the other day- John chapter 3 and Ephesians chapter 2.
But first- some business.
I wrote a post the other day about ‘confiscating’ the little plastic bags at my local grocery store [HEB].
And some of you might be thinking ‘see- crime does pay’.
For your information- the bags were probably worth about 25 cents.
The other day I went to take out the chicken thighs for dinner- I couldn’t find them!
Then I thought ‘gee- my truck has been smelling like dead bodies lately’.
Yes- the chicken was left under the back seat for 2 days- cost- about 6 dollars.
Lesson? Don’t steal the bags anymore- cost? Priceless.
Okay- John chapter 3 is the famous chapter where Jesus tells Nicodemus ‘a man cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’ [or born from above].
We also have the famous John 3:16 verse ‘for God so loved the world…’
If you read the chapter- both Jesus- and John the Baptist speak about those who believe- they are not condemned- and those who do not believe are judged.
Yet Jesus says he came into the world- not to condemn it- but to save it.
In Ephesians chapter 2 the apostle Paul says we are ‘saved by grace- not of works- lest any man should boast’.
Both chapters emphasize the role faith plays in salvation.
Okay- where did I come up with these chapters for the reading of the week?
They were both quoted from during the mass on Sunday [as a Protestant- I always try and watch the mass on Sunday- as well as doing our own home church meeting].
‘John- do Catholics believe in being born again’?
Yes- very much so.
Being born again is actually a vital doctrine within Catholicism.
For a brief review of Catholic/Protestant teaching- on my blog- on the front page to the left- you will see a bunch of studies that I have highlighted- click the ‘Protestant Reformation- Luther’ and you will get a more in depth discussion on some of the differences- and points of agreement.
But for this brief post- Catholics [and Orthodox] believe the new birth takes place at baptism- for the most part Protestants/Evangelicals believe it takes place at the point of faith [added to a long list of ‘altar calls’ or ‘5 steps of conversion’ etc.- in short- Protestants have their own sacramental system- they just don’t know it!]
I say- mostly- because there are many various groups within the Protestant movement that also would agree that water baptism is the point of being saved [church of Christ- various Pentecostal groups- etc.].
Now- I hold more to the historic Reformation view [faith] but I do not see a ‘grave’ departure from scripture with those who put more of the emphasis on baptism.
There are verses in John 3- Jesus says ‘a man must be born of water and the spirit’.
Plus- the last half of the chapter starts with a discussion over ‘purifying’.
There was a debate- going on at the time- between Jesus and John’s followers- about baptism- the chapter says the debate was about ‘purifying’.
Overall- it’s not unreasonable- in my mind- to hold to the more traditional emphasis on the importance of the role of baptism.
Yet- Christians fight- vehemently- over this.
In this part of the country it’s common for a Baptist- Assembly of God- or Church of Christ believer to view the ‘other team’ as a cult over this- this to me is very sad.
The main point?
Regardless of how much of a role water baptism plays in your particular denomination- the main point is we are saved by faith- thru the death and resurrection of Christ.
In the Ephesians chapter- Paul actually hits on some pretty deep themes- that the death of Christ removed the ‘wall of separation’ between Jew and Gentile- and we both are made into ‘one new man’.
This shows us the role that the Cross should play in society- it should bring various groups and cultures together- not divide them.
It would take a little too much time for me to go into what the ‘wall of separation’ was in Paul’s day.
But he wasn’t speaking about our sins separating us from God [though this of course is true].
But he was speaking about the role the law [10 commandments] played at the time.
Paul- a zealous teacher of the Jewish law [Pharisee] held the law in high esteem- and often it became a barrier between the Jew and Gentile.
Some of the more fame seeking Pharisees [the ones we see Jesus interacting with in the gospels] used the fact that they were the nation that received the law under Moses- as an ‘I’m better than you’ mentality.
Paul says ‘the law of commandments that was against us- Jesus nailed them to his Cross’ [Colossians].
He also says in his letter to the Galatians ‘if righteousness comes by the law- then Christ died in vain’ strong words indeed!
The point he is making is we- believers- are no longer under the condemnation of the law- no longer under the continual threat of God striking us down at any moment because of our sin.
We have been saved by grace and those who ‘walk in the Spirit’ are no longer under condemnation [Romans 8].
So- Jesus nailed the law to the Cross- and the barrier that separated Jew from gentile- as well as sinful man from a Holy God- has been ‘taken away’ by Christ.
I must note that the apostle Paul himself- who is famous for this teaching- always added the caveat ‘do we now sin because we are not under the law? God forbid!’
He was accused- by the strict sect of the Pharisees [known as Judaizers] of teaching a ‘lawless gospel’.
No- he- as well as most Christian denominations today- teach that the 10 commandments are still very important- and as believers in Christ we will naturally- by our new birth- fulfill the law.
But it is no longer this sword of Damocles hanging over our head.
Okay- for those who haven’t had time to read the chapters yet- try and read them over the weekend- they are short chapters- think about what I said in this post- look for the emphasis on faith- the role that faith plays in our salvation.
I’ll be back in a few days- but I need to go now- need to get another pack of chicken thighs before the store gets crowded.
1810- THE CRUCIFIED ONE
Yesterday I shopped at the local grocery store- and as my habit is- I started at the vegetable/fruit section.
When I grab the little bags to put the stuff in- I usually grab a few extra- and if I don’t use them I’ll take them home and stick them in the cabinet.
So, as I’m checking out- the lady asks me ‘oh- do you want me to throw these out’. I think she knew I was gonna confiscate them for personal use.
So- as a joke- I say ‘no- that’s fine- I sell them to the homeless guys out front’ [The store is a couple of hundred yards from the homeless mission where I hang out- everyone in the area knows about the ‘homeless guys’].
As I tell her the joke- both she and the bagger- they don’t seem to think it’s funny.
They look pretty mad- to be honest.
I tell them ‘no- I’m kidding- I take them home and use them for the onions and stuff’.
Their look didn’t change one bit- they did not want me to get those damn bags!
Right now in Texas we have an ongoing war with the Obama administration. In all my years as a political observer- I have never seen someone as petty as this current president.
I have written about him denying us federal aid when we applied because of wild fires we had a few years back.
Then the recent accusation that Texas is racist because of the voter I.D. laws.
Plus- the E.P.A. rules that are shutting down parts of our power grid- this coming year Texas is going to face some blackout problems because of this.
So- this week the president cut the federal funds for the WHP program.
This program gives care to poor women.
There are over 2400 hundred providers in Texas that will lose the majority of their funding because of this.
Why would the president do this?
Texas- like a few other states- passed a law that prevents tax payer money going to clinics that provide abortions.
The federal money supplies about 90 % of the funding- the federal govt. said if you deny any funding for the Planned Parenthood clinics- then we will cut all the funding to all of the 2400 clinics.
Now- did they have to do this?
How many Planned Parenthood clinics are in this group of over 2400 providers?
If you simply listen to the media- you would think that just about all of them are- or maybe half.
Out of the over 2400 providers- Planned Parenthood makes up 44.
The president cut off funding for 2400 clinics- that do breast screenings and mammograms.
That actually treat cancer and other diseases.
He cut them all off- because Planned Parenthood would not be in the group any more.
Planned Parenthood does not treat for breast cancer- does not offer pre natal care- and does not even have mammogram machines.
Many of the 2400 clinics that the president cut off do all of these services.
So why would you cut off over 90 % of the clinics that actually do these real- needed services?
Because of the political ideology of being pro abortion.
Obama has positioned himself as being on the side of abortion and his supports want that.
So- to appease his base- he cut off 2400 poor women’s clinics in Texas- this was a choice he made- not Perry.
A poll was done the other day- they asked women ‘would you like free birth control- or have to pay for it yourself’?
Now- if you ask just about anybody ‘would you like free dental- or health insurance- or beer’ what do you think the majority of people would say?
So after they did the poll- they said ‘see- most people support the position the president takes on abortion and birth control’.
See how the media shapes the conversation? You can ask a question in a way that gets a certain answer- and Walla- they achieved the goal.
Society has a decision to make- can we as a people live without any ethical requirements.
Should ethics- making a distinction between right and wrong- should this be part of the conversation?
In our Philosophy study- as scattered as it has been- we ended right around the 18-19th centuries.
We were coming up to the Existentialists.
Existentialism is a difficult philosophy to pin down [as most are].
But the easiest short definition I have found is it’s the philosophy of Existence.
That is real life- It’s not just a matter of intellectual data- it’s what we learn and experience as passionate people- people who have real problems and issues- yet they strive for meaning.
The father of Existentialism was the 19th century thinker- Soren Kierkegaard.
Kierkegaard was a Christian- he challenged the dead church of Denmark- the state church- and he called for a more adventurous approach to the faith.
Some notable followers of this philosophy took a different approach- they were the atheistic existentialists.
One of the most famous being Frederick Nietzsche.
Nietzsche taught that men should abandon all hope of a future afterlife- that the whole field of ethics was futile ‘do what you need to do to excel- step on the other people on the way up the ladder- and that’s what life is all about’.
He called this the Superman- man coming into this new age of science and reason- and rejecting the old forms of religion and ethics- which keep man down.
Nietzsche spent the last years of his life in an insane asylum.
His sister sold tickets to the ‘audience’ who wanted to see the madman.
She exercised her ‘superwoman’ and did what would benefit her- financially- without any worry about whether it was right or wrong.
The last couple of years of his life- Nietzsche signed his letters ‘the crucified one’.
In his rejection of God- he lost his mind and took the identity of Jesus Christ- the ethical one.
As we grapple with what’s right and wrong- as states pass laws that say ‘we don’t want our tax payer money supporting abortions’.
Then we are going to have to deal with the backlash- those who at the time have the power [money] to cut the states off who see ethics as a priority.
Yes- the Superman [Feds] can deny that ethics play a role in women’s health- they can say ‘no money for any of your 2400 clinics’ just because you won’t fund 44 Planned Parenthood clinics.
People can get mad- and even take polls that say ‘we want free things’ [don’t we all? My grocery bags!]
At the end of the day- right and wrong do make a difference.
Trying to live a life- a worldview [philosophy] in a passionate way- that’s a good thing- we are all real people who deal with real issues.
But when you leave God/ethics out of the picture- then you are on a crash course- you might wake up one day- having lost your mind- and signing you letters as The Crucified One.
1809- 3 THINGS
First- Sanford Florida.
The case of Zimmerman and the Black kid.
As most of you have heard by now- Zimmerman was this neighborhood watch guy and he saw a Black kid walking thru the area.
To Zimmerman- for whatever reason- he thought the kid looked suspicious [you know- Black kid walking- yeah- very strange!]
So as any good citizen would do- he stalked the kid!
As you listen to the 911 calls- it seems as if this Black kid realized some guy in a vehicle is following him and he gets scared.
Even though the dispatcher tells Zimmerman not to follow the kid- Zimmerman replies ‘these type always get away’.
Then you hear from the 911 tapes- Zimmerman confronts the scared kid- the kid is screaming for his life- and Zimmerman kills him- you know- with the gun he uses for ‘self defense’.
No arrest- the cops say it was self defense.
Geez- if this was self defense- keep me away from Sanford.
Obviously Zimmerman murdered the kid in cold blood.
Sure- maybe he should not get convicted for the most severe type of murder- but this guy needs to go to prison for this stunt.
Second- George Clooney.
This past week Clooney has made the rounds on the talk shows- and even got arrested at the Sudanese embassy in D.C.
He has been bringing awareness to the tragedy going on in the Sudan [Africa].
Last year I wrote a few posts on the situation. Sudan had a referendum and the south split from the north.
Clooney did say ‘this is the world’s most recent nation’.
Actually he got that wrong [go back a post or 2 and read my post on Barqa].
But overall he did well.
What’s going on in Sudan is actually worse than what’s happening in Syria.
In Syria- the president- Assad- has indiscriminately bombed civilian cities [Homs] – it is an overreaction that has killed many innocent people [some estimates are around 10,000].
But yet- it is a ‘reaction’.
A response to a popular uprising in the country.
In Sudan- the govt. is simply dropping [literally- rolling them off the planes] bombs on women and children- to get them to move out of the Nuba mountain area- so the govt. can take the land.
The people living in the area- they have already missed the last year of the planting season- and they can’t plant this year because of the bombs- many are on the verge of starvation- and they are living under rocks and in caves because of the bombing.
This truly is a tragedy- and I commend Clooney for his activism.
And last but not least- sergeant Bales.
Yes- we now have had a few reports on the soldier accused of killing 16 civilian Afghans.
As the portrait is being drawn- we see a sad story.
By all accounts Bales grew up as a great kid- well liked and a truly good guy.
He joined the military a few months after 911- and was one of those kids who said ‘this won’t happen on my watch’ type of thing.
He had already seen multiple tours of duty in combat zones- and suffered some severe injuries as a result [lost part of his foot and had some head injuries].
He is married and has 2 small kids.
He owned 2 homes- one was foreclosed on- the other he agreed to sell at a 50,000 dollar loss- one of those unfortunate guys who is ‘underwater’ on his mortgage [you owe more than the house is worth].
On his wife’s blog- she wrote that they were trying to deal with these losses by the possibility that their next tour of duty would be in Germany- Italy or maybe Hawaii.
Bales said the military told him they would not send him back into a combat zone.
Then he got the news that they were going to Afghanistan instead.
Now- all these things obviously do not justify the killing of civilians- but we need to see that our govt. also plays a role- a responsibility- if we are stressing guys to the limit.
The day before the incident- Bales witnessed his friend getting his leg blown off.
Everybody in the company was upset about the injury.
It is said that Bales was drinking the day of the killings- and by all accounts- it looks like a tragic story of a good man- who snapped.
In all these cases- the killing of the Black kid- Sudan- and Bales- we as a nation get mad.
We see the injustices- the victims- and even the very real humanity of those who perpetrate the crime [Bales].
We want- and should- give people the benefit of the doubt.
But we should also make sure we are not simply overlooking a real crime- because it’s just easier to say ‘oh- self defense’.
The 2 chapters I recommend for the week are John chapter 3 [born again- Jesus] and Ephesians chapter 2 [saved by grace].
If I remember I will comment on them before the week is out.
But they do talk about forgiveness- God sending his Son into the world- not to condemn the world- but to save it.
As we pray for these situations- and also seek justice where it needs to be done [Sudan- Fla.] we need to keep in mind both sides [Bales].
While we never want to overlook a serious offense- we also want to be aware of the overall situation.
Are we stressing our guys too much?
Should guys who have had multiple serious injuries- loosing parts of their limbs- should we be sending them into combat zones 3 or 4 times?
Like I said- no excuses for the wrong done- but have we also done wrong- by putting him there?
1807- HAVE A FINE WINTER TIME IN THE POCON…- NAH- HOW BOUT BARQA.
Have you heard the good news?
Yes- the world community has just added another nation to the pot.
It’s this wonderful coastal state that sits right off of the Mediterranean [club med?].
You know- the northern part of Africa- on the border with that other famous tourist spot- Egypt.
Yes folks- last week the eastern half of Libya broke away from its capital [Tripoli] and launched their own state.
The new ‘leaders’ of Libya- they said it was an Arab conspiracy to destroy the nation.
Why are the new leaders- the guys we installed- crying?
Let’s see- the eastern half of the Arab nation has all the oil- oh- so what we did in Libya- the military action that is regularly touted as the new successful model- it split the nation in half and will probably send them into a long term civil war.
In the last post or 2 I also mentioned how the new leaders are guilty of war crimes and are continuing to oppress the part of the population that supported Gadhaffi.
Yes- the new nation is called Barqa- and I bet this is the first time you heard the ‘good news’.
Why is this stuff important John?
Because what we did- did not work out well at all.
Yet the media- and the supporters of the president- continue to talk about our action [with NATO] as a great success.
As far as I can tell- it’s turning into a mess.
Yes- after all the blood spilled- both American and Iraqi- how are things working out?
The leader- Malaki- he has charges against the vice president [of another sect] and he’s trying to try the guy on terrorist charges- he’s hiding out in the north- the Kurdish region.
It looks like Iraq will also divide into 2 or 3 territories.
The leader- Malaki- is a supporter of Iran- and is even supporting the Syrian dictator- the one we are trying to get out- yes- the guy we backed in Iraq is supporting Iran and Syria- and not us.
Last but not least- Afghanistan.
Yes- we had the tragic incident of one of our guys leaving the base and killing 16 innocent civilians in cold blood- many of them women and children.
We have had Afghans protesting in the streets- images of Obama being lynched [did you see it? I did].
After all this time- trying to pretend that the Afghans see us as their liberators- they see us as occupiers- and we are their oppressors.
The Taliban put out a statement after the killing of the civilians- it said that if the U.S. military blames this on a mentally unstable person [he was a staff sergeant who had suffered a previous bran injury].
They said then it shows you that the U.S. is so bankrupt- that they are putting guns in the hands of their mentally unstable soldiers and sending them to our country.
Don’t tell me these Taliban are not smart.
Yes- after all this time- all the blood and money and time- it seems like all the nations we have been involved with militarily- well they are either worse off- or just as bad- as before we got involved.
Isaiah chapter 2 says at the end of time the Lords kingdom will prevail over all kingdoms- men will take their military weapons and turn them into instruments of peace [swords into Plowshares ring a bell?]
Yes- the ultimate goal is ‘war no more’ [this is also in the chapter- learn WAR NO MORE].
I’m not a pacifist- I believe we have the right to defend ourselves with force if need be.
But we must use it as a last resort- we must see that force- military action rarely wins the hearts and minds of people.
And for a Western ‘Christian’ nation to go into the heart of the Arab world- even with good intentions- and to think that our killing of other Arabs/Muslims can with the hearts and minds of the people- then we are on a fool’s errand.
Yes- maybe well intended- maybe justified in the sense that we had the right to strike back- but the overall strategy is failing- terribly.
Oh well- maybe if we all take a vacation things will look better when we get back- how bout we all go to the sandy shores of Barqa- I hear the Margaritas are great.
1806- THE 2% LIE
I want to talk a little bit about how we perceive things- the way the media and politicians use propaganda to sway the way people think.
This weekend I spoke with my liberal friend from N.J. – by the way- when I use examples from our talks- these are real discussions that I have had with this friend for the last 30 years.
This is not a ‘made up person’.
Okay- one of the first things they said was ‘can you believe these Repub candidates- all they want to talk about is birth control’.
Now- I told my friend that this was a perfect example of how the propaganda machine works.
If you remember back to the first time birth control came up during this election- it was a question by George Stephanopoulos.
He asked Romney if states have the right to ban Birth control.
Everyone on the stage- and in the audience were shocked- surprised. Why in the heck would you ask a question like this- no one on the trail is talking about it [until then] and it simply was not part of the ‘conversation’.
A few days later- Stephen Colbert had Stephanopoulos on his show [Colbert Report] and he asked him ‘why would you ask a question like that’?
He responded ‘I had a bet with Dianne Sawyer that I could get Romney to admit that birth control was a good thing’.
What really happened was the Dem strategists had a plan- they knew that it would be difficult for the President to run on the economy [even though now the numbers are looking better- to his credit].
So they had a strategy to turn the conversation into one on birth control and ‘the war on women’.
The president was just about to announce his new rule on birth control- that the Catholic church would no longer be able to not provide it thru their plans- and this whole conversation was orchestrated to get the average person to wake up one day and say ‘geez- look at all these stupid stone age Republicans- all they want to talk about is birth control’.
And Walla- my friend swallowed the bait- hook line and sinker.
Now- do both sides do this?
Sure- I’m just showing you how.
Now- the present problem [in my mind] is that Obama has been unable to distinguish between speaking honestly as a president- and speaking ‘politically’ as a campaigner.
What do I mean?
The last 2 weeks the president has been going around making public speeches and saying ‘when these Repubs say “drill baby drill” they are lying to you about the problem- even if we drill- we use 20% of the world’s oil- and only have 2% of the oil reserves here in the U.S.’.
Now- he has said this more than once- and sometimes he qualifies the statement by saying ‘proven oil reserves’.
But as you hear the words- you- the average Joe [Mary] think ‘geez- if we only posses 2 % of the world’s oil- and we use 20%- then just doing more drilling is not the answer’.
Okay- do we only have 2% of the world’s Oil here in the U.S.?
No- if you opened up ALL the oil rich regions- both offshore and on land- we would have 100% of our oil needs met- for 250 years.
Yes- you heard me- we would have so much oil- that we would not have to import any- nada.
So John- how can Obama say we only have 2%?
Well- put aside the ability to lie for a moment- and realize [like the birth control] that the political insiders for Obama realized that the gas/oil issue does have the potential to derail the presidents bid to get re-elected.
So they devised a strategy to respond to the Repubs argument that gas is going up- and blame Obama.
Now- here’s the tricky part.
When Obama uses language like this- he is using a little known definition of ‘proven oil reserves’ that the OMB uses.
This definition of proven oil reserves actually means- all the oil reserves that we are currently tapping into- and the ones that the govt. /pres has already approved down the road.
In essence- Obama is saying ‘out of all the oil reserves THAT I AM GOING TO APPROVE- we can only get 2%’.
And when the ‘drill baby drill’ folk say ‘let’s drill’ they are talking about all the reserves that we are not drilling from.
So- in essence- Obama simply lied.
Now- did he lie- like under the legal definition of Bill Clinton ‘were you ever alone with Lewinsky’?
Reason ‘there were other people in the building at the time’.
Okay- he was alone with her in the Oval Office- but in his mind- if there were other people in the building- or lets say in D.C.- or lets say ‘in the world’ well yes- you can technically say that none of us ‘are ever alone’.
But to the average mind- well- you were ‘alone’.
So- when you hear the president- saying over and over again [he has now stopped- I think- he got caught] ‘we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves’ well- he’s using Clinton language.
When you campaign- and do stuff like this- okay- they all do it- it’s not right- or good- but they do it.
When you are actually holding the office- and people hear you say this- you are purposefully deceiving folk- you know they think something other than what you are saying.
I mean who thinks ‘Ah- he’s using the OMB definition for oil reserves- not true human speak’.
Who remembers where we left off on our Philosophy posts?
We were in the 18th century and were discussing Empiricism- the idea that we obtain true knowledge about things thru the things themselves- the empirical evidence.
One of the famous philosophers that falls into this category was a Bishop named Berkeley.
Even though he is called an Empiricist- he kind of had some ideas that were also Idealist- those that saw ideas and the Metaphysical world as the main source of knowledge.
You might not have ever heard of Berkeley- but most of you are familiar with his famous statement ‘If a tree falls in the forest- and no one’s there- does it still make a sound’.
Or the modern version ‘if a man speaks in a room- and no woman is there- is he still wrong’.
Berkeley grappled with the debate of what role does the observer play in the actual existence of things.
Does reality depend upon an observer- if something is not being perceived- does it really exist?
His conclusion was- things do depend upon an observer to exist [I don’t hold to this view by the way] and that God is the ultimate observer- he is observing all things at all times- therefore all things really do exist.
As you can see- Philosophy does get fuzzy at times.
When people use language- ‘2% of the world’s oil reserves’ they expect you to be using language that most humans agree upon.
When you say ‘I did not have sex with that woman- Miss Lewinsky’.
They don’t realize that your definition of sex does not include oral sex- or any other sex- outside of standard missionary position intercourse.
So as we progress over the next few months- yes- both sides are going to be using propaganda- the media- to make their point.
And some things are true- others are not.
Reality/truth is not something that changes- or depends upon an observer- if the tree falls- yeah it makes a noise- whether you are there or not.
When you say ‘2%’ of the world’s oil- yes- it makes a difference that you are using a definition that MOST HUMANS ARE NOT OPERATING BY- and whether an ‘observer’ catches you or not- it’s still wrong.
1803- A MONKEY- A BLOGGER- AND- WELL- A ‘SLUT’.
Okay- once again we have spent a news week- with some very important stories to cover [Syria- etc] and some stupid stuff.
So what was the stupid/silly stuff?
Well- as a 70’s generation kid- sure- I liked the Monkees [Hey- Hey with the Monkees- …].
Its Saturday morning- can you just hear the song in your mind as you read the above line?
If so- then you- and me- are actual nerds.
Big deal- Yeah- I watched the thing- and even walked to school with a Beatles lunchbox- you know- the metal kind- hey- it beat having a Brady Bunch one.
Davy Jones- the lead singer- seemed to be a nice guy- he passed away- and it was sad to see him go- I prayed for his wife and kids.
Then we had the passing of the right wing blogger- Andrew Brietbart.
He was known for his bold- in your face style.
Famous for bringing down Tony Weiner- the N.Y. Dem who liked texting his genitals to unknown women on his Facebook sight.
He was also famous for posting a video of Shirley Sherrod- a Black woman who worked for the govt. – she handled loans for farmers.
This dept. has been sued in the past for discriminating against Black farmers and they settled a big lawsuit a few years back.
Anyway- Shirley gave a speech at some Lib/Dem thing- and in part of the speech she said how when White farmers came in for loans- she thought to herself ‘why should I help this white guy- it’s now his turn to get the bad end of the stick’.
Later in the speech- she said she now knows these thoughts were wrong- and she said how God rebuked her for it.
Okay- when the short clip got out- only showing the first part- there was a firestorm and Obama fired the lady.
Later we found out about the whole clip- and he offered to rehire her- she said forget it.
So- the media- all over- every day- accused Brietbart of only showing the bad part of the clip- and not the good part.
Actually- in his original post- he showed both the good and the bad.
It was Glenn Beck and a few others who only showed the bad part.
But the media- who all feed off of each other- kept going with the fake story that he only posted the bad stuff.
Till this day- they still believe it.
So just this last week Brietbart was on a progressive [liberal] show- Cenk Ugyr- Young Turks- and Cenk accused him once again of the false accusation.
For the first time on TV- Brietbart corrected the accusation and rebuked Cenk on air- Brietbart revealed the false charge that the media kept reporting- that he only showed the bad stuff.
Then a few days later I noticed he was invited on a number of more liberal news shows- to sit as a commentator on the election.
I think some of these news guys [Piers Morgan- CNN] might have double checked the story and found out that yes indeed- they all ran with the fake story- even till this day.
So- what do you know- Brietbart dies at the age of 43- and Andrea Mitchell- Shep Smith- and a few other news reporters once again repeated the charge- the false one- that he was famous for railroading Sherrod by only posting the racist part of the video- not the repentant part.
Ah- what can he do to defend himself- he’s dead- Yippee!!
And last- but not least- we had the uproar over the Rush comments about Sandra Fluke- the Georgetown University student who testified before congress about her having to pay for her own birth control- which cost a lot- damn you!
Yes- Rush made fun of the girl- and said she was ‘a slut’- and he wanted her to post her ‘extra curricula’ actives on line for all to see- because she wants the tax payer to pay for her birth control.
So the media thought this important enough to bill as a top story- right up there with the deaths of the Syrians in Homs.
They are asking all the Repub candidates to make Rush apologize- on and on.
Now- was Rush wrong?
Of course- I mean no one should be using this type of language.
But to hammer the Repubs on it- like they are responsible- heck- they don’t control the guy.
Then yesterday as I was musing on the thing- I thought ‘Tomorrow I’ll write on it- and I’ll use Bill Maher as the counter argument’.
Sure enough- as the day went on- all the shows already got to him.
Maher is the Dem supporter- who just this last week donated 1 million to Obama- he has had his show ‘politically incorrect’ [or Correct?] on HBO for years.
I really don’t like the guy- for a bunch of reasons- but he often uses real off color language when referring to Repubs.
Okay- WARNING- this part will get rough.
A few weeks ago when Tebow lost the game- Maher tweeted ‘Jesus f—ked Tebow’.
As you know- Tebow is the Christian Quarterback that is outspoken for the faith.
Sarah Palin- a book came out that said she once slept with a famous Black NBA player.
Maher made a comment- about a woman who ran for office- a politically active Repub- former Alaska Governor- who has kids- ‘she would have f—cked him too- if he was Black’.
He was referring to some White guy.
Speaking about a Repub ‘he can suck my d—k’.
Now- all these things- and more – were said on national TV.
This guy just made a 1 million dollar donation to Obama- as he made the rounds on the news shows- not one time was he- or Obama- or any other Dem asked ‘do you think you/he should apologize for these remarks’.
What if Rush spoke about Michele Obama like this?
That she would ‘f—k’ some guy if he were White.
Do you think that story would get covered?
The whole point is the media plays selective outrage- sure- all of this language is wrong- but Limbaugh does his thing- Maher his- and if you want to go down the road of making political figures responsible for what others say- then that’s a long road to walk.
This week I read Jeremiah chapter 33.
This chapter has some great promises in it- the famous verse ‘call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you know not’.
But the bulk of the chapter is God reassuring his people Israel that he will indeed keep the promise that he made to them years before.
A while back we covered the Old Testament and I said how you can almost sum up the whole O.T. by saying it’s the story of one man and his family.
That man was Abraham.
In Genesis chapters 12 and 15 we read about the promise God made to him- that if he left his home town and went on a journey to the promised land- then God would make him into a great nation- he would have kings sitting on the throne for generations to come- and they would be a great people.
Yet- at the time of Jeremiah the people were divided- they were captive- and things looked really bad.
In chapter 33 God tells them ‘do you think my promise will fail? If you can break my promise to the day and night- that day and night will happen every 24 hours- then you can break my promise to you’.
God was telling his people that even though things looked bad- yet he would fulfill his word- and bless them like he said.
One of the verses in the chapter even speaks to the divided nation accusation ‘some say these 2 nations will never be a great people’ and God rebukes that accusation.
As I look out over the terrain of our nation- and all the stuff ‘all of the above’ it does look at times hopeless- a whole week on some commentator calling a girl a slut- please!
Yet I still see some light at the end of the tunnel- congress and the President actually passed some stuff these past few weeks- stuff that seemed like was never going to get done- so yeah- maybe we can see the light right now.
But if a huge donor to the Obama campaign can get away with saying ‘Palin would have f—ked him if he were Black’ on national TV- and not one reporter asks Obama if he should ask Maher to apologize- then maybe we should dial down the rhetoric on the ‘slut comment’ a little- you think?
1802- THE HARVARD PROFESSOR
Caught an interesting show the other night- a Harvard economist [liberal] gave a lecture on economics.
Now- when I say ‘liberal’ I do not use the term in a derogatory way- no- he was the type of economist that would fit into the category of a Paul Krugman.
Krugman writes for the N.Y. Times and often [always?] gives you the Keynesian view.
So anyway this Harvard prof. made some good points.
But he blundered somewhat in his defense of Socialism/communism.
He talked about Karl Marx [the ‘founder’ of the system] and said that what happened in the Silicon Valley boom [the Dot.com businesses] was a type of Marxism.
The internet boom companies had a different view of the business structure- instead of the ‘bosses’ being over the working class stiff- you would have the actual employees run the show.
Yeah- when you watch the documentaries on Facebook [and other Companies like it] you do see an environment where all these young ‘hipsters’ are calling the shots- and they do have a sense of freedom that you don’t see in the standard business model.
But the Harvard Prof. went a step too far when he compared this to Marx.
Marx was raised in Germany- he was a Jew.
His father had to re-locate his business and join the Lutheran church in order to fit in with the people he needed to do business with.
Marx would eventually go to ‘university’ in England- and he developed his ideas in an environment where the industrial revolution took off.
He witnessed the plight of the working class man [proletariat] and how he became a victim of the factory system.
In England you did see many hopeless workers fall prey to a lifestyle that had you going to work at the factory all day- often in a dark and dingy environment.
You would come home to a gloomy existence and often drink yourself to sleep.
Marx saw the working class as victims of the Ownership class [the original 99 versus the 1%].
Marx saw that those who ran the system- and ‘owned the tools’ had the true influence in society- and according to Marx- they used two primary means of controlling the masses.
Law and Religion.
So Marx advocated for a violent overthrow of the system- thru Revolutionary means- in order to free the working class slave from the power of the few.
Now- where the Harvard Prof missed it is he compared Marx’s idea to the Dotcom business model.
Facebook and other internet businesses- they tried to empower the worker by making him part owner.
When Facebook went public this last month [Initial public offering] it was said to have made many millionaires overnight.
Because those who got in at the start [even the kid who painted the Graffiti on the walls of the building] were offered the option of cash or stock.
Those who took the stock became rich when the company went public [it actually will go into effect if a couple of more months].
So- this model empowers the working class person by making him part owner.
Okay- Marx wanted to ‘level the field’ by putting the State in charge.
He felt like if you took the power away from the private owner [capitalism] then you could even out the scales by making the state decide how much pay was fair- and the state would literally own ‘the tools’ of the system.
Most of us know by now that his system failed pretty badly [Soviet Union].
Though he meant well- trying to defend the hopeless worker- yet he created a Monster State- and the state would become the new oppressor of the people- and take away the incentive that the private ownership model gave.
So all in all- the Harvard prof had some truth to what he said- but he went a step too far.
In today’s political climate- we all have a tendency to hear one side- and if we lineup with that side- we very rarely question those who advocate the way we believe.
It’s important to hear both sides- to give credit to the ideas that are good- and then reject the ideas that are bad.
Marx had some very legitimate concerns- the founder of the Salvation Army- William Booth- began his ministry to the same class of people that Marx saw.
Marx rejected religion because he believed the ownership class used it to keep the masses under.
Any truth to this?
Many of the Black slaves were encouraged to attend church and keep singing their Black spiritual songs.
Many of the themes of these great songs did indeed encourage the suffering servant to just hold on until he/she gets to the Promised Land.
As a matter of fact- many of the themes taught that if you rebelled against the slave owner then you would forfeit your reward in the hereafter.
Marx experienced the power of religion- and the role it played in his own family in Germany- his father had to join the Lutheran church- even though he was Jewish- just so he could be in contact with the people of influence in his town.
So yes- it’s good to hear both sides- give credit when you can- and also reject what you must.
Yeah- the Harvard Prof seemed to be a good guy- he knew his stuff- just not well enough.
1801- LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOUR SORRY- I THOUGHT.
Let’s end the week with a few top news events. Yes- once again we have had the burning of the Quran- and the violent aftermath.
What happened this time? Well- it was not an outright insult to Islam- like the Florida pastor who hosted ‘burn the Koran day’.
These Korans were part of a ‘detention’ library facility [gee- maybe that’s the 1st problem?] where prisoners have access to religious material.
They were available to Afghani’s who were being held as prisoners of war.
So- our side found possible hidden notes in them- and yeah- we burned the stuff.
Okay- was this a bad thing to do? Sure.
But the nonstop apologies- the reaction of Muslims rioting and killing- all over the world- not just in Afghanistan- this reaction needs to be condemned.
We are falling into a trap- a mindset that says ‘we will tolerate- and overlook intolerance- because after all- it’s not as bad as 9-11’.
Yesterday Iran was going to execute a Christian pastor because he refused to denounce his faith.
You say ‘yea John- but we condemn Iran anyway’.
But they do stuff like this in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain too- and these are our ‘good friends’.
I was watching a show the other night- it was a defense of Islam- against those who have a ‘crusade’ against it.
Though the show portrayed the people against Islam as bigots- they showed a few clips and interviews with a woman who was raised in a predominantly Muslim land- and she now lives in the U.S. and she feels that many in the U.S. media are overlooking the very real prejudices against women who live in these countries.
So- during the interview- intended to make her look bad- they ask her something like ‘but what about all the Muslims who reject violence’.
The reporter wanted her to commend those in Islam who reject violence [Muslim Brotherhood groups] yet still advocate for Shariah law.
The ‘radical’ anti Islam woman’s response ‘so- you want me to give credit to people just because they don’t want to kill me’.
The lady was right- she warns people against the rise of Shariah law- as the ‘law of the land’ and even though some of these groups are trying to achieve their goals peacefully- thru the ballot box- yet the end result is a society that executes Christians because they believe.
So as the week has passed- we have been apologizing nonstop- writing personal letters [Obama to Karzai].
Showing clips of our commanders instructing our soldiers to not react- to not ‘get upset’ that Muslims are rioting and killing them.
Look- we made a mistake- on the scale of ‘crimes against humanity’ the mistake rates at around zero.
Yes- we understand that to Muslims it’s a blasphemous act- and we did not do this out of disrespect for Islam.
But we must say- loud and clear- if your religion justifies the killing of people simply because they burn a book- or write a comedy sketch- or do any of a number of things that most of the civilized world do- then you need to either change your religion- or come up with a better interpretation.
Because we can’t all live in a world where stuff like this continues to happen- and we in the West seem to say ‘we understand your side’- no- when your side kills because of it- then we must condemn that side- whether it be Christian or Muslim.
1800- THE CHURCH LADY
I caught the debate last night [number 20!] and was surprised that King only asked one question on ‘social issues’ [I think?].
He did bring up the ‘controversy’ over birth control.
Now- up until a few weeks back- starting with the question by Stephanopoulos [a Dem insider- worked for Clinton- admitted- on air- that he cried while sitting at home during the Obama win. You say ‘so what John- Boehner cries too!’ Yeah- but he’s smart enough not to admit it when he weeps in private].
Yeah- when Stephanopoulos brought up the silly question on whether states had the right to ban birth control- right after that the media jumped on the band wagon and have been saying how the Repubs want a war on women’s right to health.
The media keep parading women across the screen- decrying the attack on their health- after all- birth control cures cancer! [The truth be told- there are many more health risks to abortion and birth control then there are health benefits].
Yes- they want the country to see the Repubs as right wing ‘satan hatin’ preachers!
I just read an article the other day- 2 ‘women’s health clinics’ were fined in Texas- their disposal company was dumping the bodies of aborted babies in the city dump.
A woman’s right? I wonder how many of these little bodies belonged to future women.
So the debate goes on- and the populace drinks it in.
They have been showing the clips of a speech by Santorum- he talked about evil as a reality and satan as an enemy.
Okay- he was speaking at a Catholic university forum- it was about 4 years ago- what’s the big deal?
‘Well- you never know- say if he starts talking like this in office’
You mean like Obama?
Yes- 2 weeks ago the Pres was speaking- at a political/religious forum- in Washington- and he defended his tax policies by saying they are based on Jesus’ teachings in the gospel of Luke.
He quoted Jesus ‘to whom much is given- much is required’.
Okay- I see the point he’s trying to make- asking the rich to pay more.
But for a sitting U.S. president to say that his tax policy- as opposed to the other side- is the ‘Jesus one’ well- that would have been world news for days if it were Bush.
So the satan speech- given at a catholic school- geez- give it a break.
The media would have you think that Santorum is the church lady from SNL [Saturday night live].
Dana Carvey did the Church Lady- he would often come up with some circumstance- and then reply ‘hmmm- could it be satan’.
Yeah- that’s Santorum!
This week I have been reading Ezekiel chapter 34.
It talks about the leaders- shepherds of the people. They are being rebuked because they are like ‘shepherds who feed themselves- they kill the sheep- eat the meat and wear the wool as clothes’.
In the New Testament Jesus alludes to this when he says ‘beware of false prophets- they are like wolves in sheep’s clothing’.
Yes- that’s where the term comes from.
The term means more than meets the eye.
It’s speaking about a mindset- one that sees people- church people- citizens- any group of people being ‘ruled’ by others.
And the mindset is ‘I can benefit in some way from my position over them’. This usually means financially.
I have written much about this over the years- and I’m convinced that many good men in modern ministry do not see the violation of scripture they engage in when they enter ‘ministry’ and constantly appeal for money- even to the point of thinking that their becoming rich off of the giving of people is ‘Gods way’.
But also in the broader sense- God is rebuking the leaders because they really don’t have the true concerns of the people at the fore front.
Good leaders- politicians- presidents- congressman. They should be willing to make the right decisions- even if those decisions seem less popular at the time- they should do it because it’s right.
The Pres put out a policy yesterday that said he wanted to lower corporate tax rates and eliminate tax loopholes.
Now- I haven’t read the thing- and I know some say it’s really a scam- I don’t know.
But if it has some truth in it- then it would be a good thing.
Because most analysts say that’s really a major step in the right direction.
Dems and Repubs- responsible ones- have already said this needs to be done.
So if the thing is accurate- then we should support the pres.
The other major thing that the next pres must deal with is the entitlement programs- but whoever gets in- whether it be Romney- Obama- or the Church Lady- they will need to govern for the people- not pander to them for personal gain [popularity that will help them win again].
Don’t get me wrong- as a Christian I’m glad the Pres talked about Jesus- and that Santorum talked about satan.
But the reality is- the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ looked/talked just like sheep- that’s how they kept getting into the sheepfold- but all they really wanted was personal gain- they saw the sheep [people] as a means to an end- and that’s what gets us in trouble- every time.
1793- ACCESS DENIED?
As we close the week lets try and wrap up one of the major news stories.
This week the war raged over the Obama care mandate for religious institutions to provide free birth control to their employees.
Obviously the main objection to the rule came from the Catholic Church.
Those on the left [by the way- not all] tried to frame the debate around a woman’s right to have access to birth control.
The right said it was a freedom of religion- 1st amendment argument.
Obama did an about face- to his surprise many of his own team were mad about what he did- and he supposedly ‘solved’ the problem by saying that the insurance companies must pay for it instead.
The Catholic Bishops conference in the U.S. – headed up by Archbishop Timothy Dolan [from N.Y. – soon to become a Cardinal] hesitated at first before they made a statement either accepting Obama’s compromise or rejecting it.
As of right now- they reject it.
Many Catholic institutions provide their own insurance- the so called compromise still has Catholics paying/providing for something that they believe is contrary to their faith.
I guess it would be good to cover why Catholics are against contraception.
Most Protestants [including me] have no problem with simple birth control practices.
We do have a problem with methods that basically abort the child after he/she is conceived.
But overall we are okay with the idea.
Catholics historically appeal to the very real mandate in scripture to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.
In Genesis chapters 1-2- you read how God created plants and animals and man- and they all have the ‘seed within themselves’ that is it is part of Gods purpose for things to reproduce.
Now- in the current debate those on the left have made some simple- and obvious contradictions.
They have argued that to give the conscience clause exception to the Catholics- that would be denying women ‘their right’ to health care.
They say it is an issue of access- that if you don’t do this women will not have proper access to the stuff.
Then at the same time they are saying ‘look- 99.9 % of all women use contraceptives’.
Okay- which one is it?
If just about every woman on the planet uses the stuff- then how can you argue that unless Catholic institutions offer it- then they are denying access?
Its seems pretty clear to me that most women that need it can get it.
Number 2- some political experts have said that the whole thing was planned- that the Democratic team was trying to change the debate from ‘a woman’s right to choose’ [abortion] to ‘those darn right wingers want to ban birth control’!
When I first heard this- I wasn’t too quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Dick Morris was the first to bring it up on Fox News.
But as the week progressed the idea grew legs.
It made it to the radio talk circuit and as of today many do think the whole thing was planned.
Why do I think there might be some truth to this?
Remember about a month ago when George Stephanopoulos hosted one of the debates.
He asked Romney a strange question- I mean even the audience booed.
He asked if a state has the right to ban birth control.
To be honest- the question seemed to catch everyone off guard.
Romney never fully answered it- but he did say that there is no one that he knows of that wants to do this- that there are no states pushing to ban birth control.
Then of course you had the present debate- which some on the left did indeed try to frame by saying ‘they want to rob you of your ‘right’ to birth control’.
Yea- I think Morris was right.
Now- if you can frame the argument- about anything- by convincing people that it’s ‘their right’.
Then sooner or later people will try to ‘access’ the right.
Let me give you an example.
A few years ago I caught a movie about some persons fight for Euthanasia [or as MSNBC says ‘youth in Asia’].
The show covered the struggle of some dying man and his fight for the ‘right to die’.
It was a true case that he fought all the way to the Supreme Court.
He finally won ‘hooray- no one can deny me this right- yippee!’
Then as the show concluded they admitted that as the year went by- the person kept getting worse- and you can imagine all his friends and fellow strugglers who fought with him to ‘win the right’.
Well- they kind of felt like ‘gee- when is he gonna pull the trigger’ after all- it’s his right.
The show ended by saying the disease progressed so fast that he didn’t have time to kill himself.
I mean he grew rose over a year- there was plenty of time.
He realized that what happened in his case was he was surrounded by people- many good people- people who I’m sure meant well.
But his entire fight was something that he really did not want- something that in the end was no right at all- he got caught up in the political fight and when he won- like the dog who chased the car but didn’t know what to do with it when he caught it- yes this victim was not only a victim of his disease- but a victim of those who convinced him that this was his right.
As of today- women in this country have access to birth control.
It looks like the congress might actually pass a law that restricts Obama’s health law- that says the religious exemption clause must stand.
I’m glad that the issue rose up now- because it does give some time for the president and congress to do something.
But the fact is- according to those who advocate for no religious exemption- they themselves admit that 99.9% of all woman use the stuff.
This does not seem like a ‘no access’ issue to me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[you can find more leadership posts in the February posts]