REFORMED- ORTHODOX- CATHOLIC- B 2013
1945 BIRTHER- ME?
Before we end the week I want to simply quote a few verses from Isaiah 26.
‘Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee’
‘Trust ye in the Lord forever- for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength’
‘When thy judgments are in the earth- the inhabitants of the world will learn justice’.
I stumbled upon this chapter the other day- I did not realize how many verses I have memorized over the years- ones that I would quote and stuff- not realizing they were lumped together in this chapter.
Over the years I have had times [years] where I would read thru the bible every year.
Or maybe read the New Testament thru many times- and the Old Testament a little slower.
These past few years I have slowed down a bit- still reading every week- but less ‘volume’ and more meditation.
I’ll read a chapter- then stay on it for a few days- and then see more stuff each time.
I try and listen for ‘daily bread’ type of a thing.
In the Lord’s prayer [Our father] he said we should pray for ‘our daily bread’ and in a way that speaks about what God wants to tell us each day.
Sort of like the story of Manna in the time of Moses.
The people of God were in the wilderness for 40 years- and God fed them bread every morning.
It was called ‘angels food’ it was this little wafer type thing that was on the ground each day.
God told them only take enough for you and your family- if you take too much- and store it up overnight- it will spoil.
But on the 6th day they could take enough for 2 days- because they were not supposed to gather it on the Sabbath.
So God in a way has daily manna for us- if we try and overload the system- by eating too much- then it will spoil.
Its funny- over the years I have seen/gone thru stages where you get involved with movements- good people- who for whatever reason get into some type of teaching.
Maybe they will emphasize some new thing- and for years they will go down that road.
Maybe it’s not a bad road per se’- but these things were not supposed to be ‘roads’ at all.
That is- as believers we should establish our hearts in grace and the reality of God.
The reality of the Cross and death of Christ for us.
And then as we learn and grow- sure- we will learn lots of stuff- but when you get into fads- well it’s like the verse in the book of Hebrews.
‘It is a good thing that you are established in grace- not with meats [ side doctrines] for it is not profitable for those who are occupied therein’ [my paraphrase].
Okay- a few things.
The other day at the mission I had to intervene- sort of like a Ref.
2 of the guys were getting into it- over all things- politics and religion!
Now- these guys happened to be sober- but you have a few guys who start drinking early- and by the time I get there- well let’s say they are feeling pretty good.
So- I could think of no better environment to discuss politics and religion- can you?
Somehow one of my buddies- who is very smart- got a hold of ‘birthirism’ somewhere along the line.
I first heard him talk about it a few months back- and was kinda surprised.
He is not a ‘right winger’ at all- he attends a classically more liberal church [Methodist] and we often discuss the Sunday school teaching from the previous week.
He has the notes from church- and they are always taking a more liberal side- and I have told him that the Methodists are a great church- and they do an excellent job at social justice [like the Catholics].
So- it was a surprise for my friend to have launched into birthirism [the belief that Obama is not a U.S. citizen].
By the way- those who believe this are not total nuts- if I have time I’ll share a few facts- things that have caused people to question- yet I have never swallowed the Trump view.
So- my buddy starts into his talk.
‘Obama was sworn in on the Koran- even if he was born in Hawaii- that’s not part of the continental U.S.- so he still is not legitimate’.
A few more things like this- that coming from this particular friend- surprised me.
Now- this day we were sitting with my other friend Don.
Don is the gardener at the mission- the pics I posted on Facebook- with the garden- that’s Don.
Don is quite the intellectual- for real.
It never ceases to amaze me when I run into the smartest guys that are homeless.
Don has a well rounded education- knows all types of subjects- sort of a renaissance man if you will.
So- for Don to have heard my other friend launch into his thing- well- he could not believe that my friend was saying this.
Don- rightfully- corrected my buddy in no uncertain terms.
My buddy went on about Obama being a non citizen.
Then they appealed to me- to be honest I did not want to get into it.
But I did.
I had to side with Don- and correct my other friend because he was so misinformed.
Obviously Hawaii is part of the U.S. – even though Alaska and Hawaii are not part of the land mass that makes up the lower 48.
Yet they are states- and they count as being born in the U.S.
But I had to throw out some cover for my misinformed friend.
He looks up to me as sort of a teacher- and when someone sees you that way- it’s hard for them to be corrected by someone they look up to.
So- I did tell Don that I have read/watched so many news things over the past 4 years- that there were things that gave some people real reason to doubt the president’s place of birth.
Now- be careful here- I want you to hear carefully.
Because what I think has happened- is the president did things in the past- like we all have done [skewing the facts to gain a benefit].
He possibly presented himself- at various times- as being from Kenya- or as sharing the Muslim faith.
What- are you nuts?
Not 100% [maybe half?]
Okay- here’s the cover for my buddy.
As people started looking into the birth certificate thing- there were some indications that the president might have said he was from Kenya- maybe to sort of play into the role of ‘this new and up and coming author- with such an interesting background’.
Or maybe at times- in applying for school- you might say you’re a foreign born person- because you get an edge if the school has a quota type thing [thus the Trump challenge to show his college records].
Why do I think this might have happened?
When you wade thru all the accusations- there were a few things that did come up that quite frankly looked strange.
One of the more questionable things was the actual promotion of one of Obama’s books- the book publisher actually introduced Obama- the author- as a ‘Kenyan born’ person.
Now- when this came out- the president- and the publisher- both admitted that this was not a fake.
They simply said it was a typo.
They both admitted that the intro for the book said Obama was Kenyan- but it was a typo.
Look- a typo is hitting a wrong key on the keyboard [unless this type writer had Kenya as one of the keys?]
And what are the chances that this typo just happened to name Kenya as his birthplace?
I mean that’s a bit much to swallow to be honest.
So John- he’s a Kenyan!
Now- here’s where I give the pres the benefit of the doubt- but why I say he too has given the birthers a reason to question him.
There are a few people that said/think that Obama used this ‘I was born in Kenya’ thing to simply help promote himself.
He has spoken about his own identity struggle in the past.
Growing up he had the name of his step dad [Sotero].
As he got older- being raised by a single mom- he eventually learned more about his real dad- from Kenya- and he did try to identify more with his father’s heritage.
So- maybe did he start saying ‘I’m Kenyan’
Was this so bad?
But is this possible?
The more believable explanation for a book publisher to say you’re from Kenya- would be that Obama might have presented himself as such.
Others have said that he did say this to them as well.
And some think he might have used this on his college application.
This is very possible- and to be honest- for a book publisher to accidently pick Kenya- as a typo- that’s a bit much.
So- I gave cover to my birther friend- by leaving him room- that is to say there are people who question it- Obama’s place of birth- and they are not all nuts.
But- I also sided with Don- that at the end of the day- I think this issue is settled.
It’s hard to have friends on both sides of these things.
Because when you take one side- the other feels alienated.
I think it’s also wrong to assume that those who did not support Obama are all birthers.
I supported Romney simply on the basis of experience.
Those who want a real honest critique of the president should read Bob Woodward’s latest book.
He tells the story- the true story- of how many of the president’s closest inside fiends felt he was so far out of his league- after he got in- that others had to actually run the show- for quite some time.
Yes- these are actual reports from friends of Obama.
I remember hearing his main financial guy [I forget the name right now- Lawrence Lindsey?]
He said at one point ‘if we were not running this show- no one would be in charge’.
Yes- there are some real- honest critiques that have come out- and they did indeed feel like the president was way out of his league for this job.
And these were not birthers.
So- at the end of the day- some supported one side because they had real questions.
Others supported Obama because they too had honest positions.
But we also need to correct those in our midst who have wrong views- things that they picked up along the way.
If we want good discourse- it must be informed.
And yes- at times both sides have missed this mark.
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 scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1931 A PLACE CALLED REST
When I get up in the morning- I spend about an hour or so praying/meditating before I write.
I get the entire ‘message’ during this time.
This morning- in my mind- I saw a sort of panoramic view of all of church history- quite a message for a short post.
I also felt like covering the history of Judaism during the time of Christ- another long subject.
I think the main reason for these themes popping up is because I have been reading some in the book of Hebrews- and I want to cover Hebrews 4.
But- let’s try the other stuff and see if we can get it in.
In the early days of the church- in the 4th century- we had the rise of the Roman emperor/military ruler- Constantine.
Part of the achievements of Constantine was his development of the eastern half of the Roman empire- whose capitol was named after him- Constantinople.
Over a period of years the early Roman church fought over whose bishop would have more influence- the bishop of Rome [Pope] or the bishop in the east.
Many bishops in the Catholic Church have disagreed over the influence of one bishop being greater than the others [the idea that all the bishops should have an equal voice at the church councils is called Collegiality].
This has caused splits within the Catholic Church thru the centuries [the last big one in the 19th century].
Eventually the early church split- and the Eastern Church separated from Rome.
The eastern empire [called Byzantium- the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church] officially split in the year 1054.
Now- in church history we call this the Great Schism- even though the Protestant split which took place in the 16th century was greater in effect.
Okay- the Protestant reformers split over various issues- I have an entire study on the blog about this.
But the main issue became what we call justification by faith.
Over the centuries many good men- and average church goers- lost the main message of the New Testament- which was a message of being saved by the grace of God.
Many well meaning Christians were struggling to do penance in a way that sort of earned them their salvation thru works.
The Protestant reformer Martin Luther was teaching the book of Romans [he was a scholar and a Catholic leader in intellectual circles at the time].
During his teaching on the epistle of Paul [Romans- in our bible] he came across a verse that said THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.
As he mediated on the passage- and the other themes in Romans that speak about being saved by faith and not by works- he started a sort of mini revolution amongst the students and he became a sort of favorite teacher in the area of Germany where he was teaching.
Over a period of time- thru all sorts of religious and political machinations- he launched what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
Okay- Hebrews 4.
How does this fit in?
In Hebrews 4- the writer is appealing to a first century Jewish audience who were steeped in a legalistic mindset.
That is- in many ways- they were like the Christians of the 16th century who lost the idea of grace- and were seeking to please God thru the works of the law.
The writer tells them that thru the appearing of the Messiah- Christ- we can enter into a new type of covenant- one based on rest.
He says ‘those who have entered into Gods rest have ceased from their own works- as God did from his’.
Okay- there’s a lot to unpack here- and time is running out.
The writer uses the creation account in Genesis chapter 2- where the bible says God created the world in 6 days- and on the 7th day he rested.
He symbolically says ‘there is a place- called Gods ‘rest’ that we too must enter into’.
He’s using an analogy- God rested from his works on the Sabbath day- so we too must strive to enter into this Sabbath rest [a type of the New Covenant- established on the death and resurrection of Christ].
If you read the chapter- you should be able to pick up this main theme- the main point he is making is because Jesus has come and become the final Passover sacrifice for the sins of man- therefore the Old law- with all of its sacrifices and demands- has now been fulfilled thru Christ.
We sit ‘at the table’ with the other disciples- the Lords table- and we freely partake of the Body and Blood of Christ- and by faith we receive eternal life- not by the works of the law.
See- this is the whole point.
Thru out the centuries Christians have lost this sense of free grace- this reality that we come to God by faith- not based on how good we have been- how hard we have tried to obey the law.
No- we come to God- Boldly [Hebrews] ‘because we have a great high priest who is now in heaven- seated at the right hand of God’.
Jesus represents us to God- he is before the throne of God interceding [praying] on our behalf.
It is no longer a matter of our effort- our striving- no- we are truly saved by grace.
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 scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1925 WHEN TWO BECOME ONE [a short critique on the pastoral letter from the Bishop of Newark]
Today I want to comment on the Pastoral letter that the Archbishop of Newark put out last month.
Being I’m here in N.J. for a few days- one of my goals was to visit all the old places I saw as a kid.
And 2 of those spots were the Catholic churches I went to as a kid.
I went last Sunday to Our Lady of Fatima- and this Past Sunday I visited Our Lady of Grace.
It just so happened that the Bishop of Newark put out this Pastoral letter- a letter to all the Christians in his area- a few weeks before I arrived.
The letter is in some ways a defense of the historic position of the church.
It’s titled ‘When Two become One: A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage’.
In short the Bishop does an excellent job of defending the traditional definition of marriage between One man and One woman.
He bases this teaching on both Natural [Moral] law- and what we call Revelation [or Revealed Truth- which means teaching that comes to us from God].
Natural law simply means in society in general- since the early times of man- there was a basic understanding of what was right or wrong.
Where did this Moral foundation come from?
The Church teaches that this comes from God [Apostle Paul- Romans 1 and 2].
Since this Moral law exists- and part of this ‘collective conscience’ includes the basic idea of traditional marriage- therefore we [the Church] make the argument that traditional marriage is not only a Church teaching- but also a foundational truth that all men have known since the beginning of mans existence.
The bishop notes that the early Greek philosophers and other ancient societies have indeed believed that Moral law does exist- and therefore it is not only a church belief.
The Bishop is also careful to treat Homosexual people [language that the church does not use- the church teaches that all people- even those with ‘homosexual tendencies’ are indeed created in the image of God. The Church says both Heterosexual and Homosexual are words that describe sexual attractions- but are not fundamental identities] with respect.
That is even though the Church believes in One man One woman union- that it recognizes that all people struggle with ‘sin’ and that the Church calls all people to live repentant lives- and to strive to live an abundant life in Christ.
The Bishop emphasizes that the Christian community does include people who have homosexual attractions- but it simply does not legitimize homosexual lifestyles as an acceptable way of life for the practicing Christian [I do understand that others see this very thing as discriminatory- and that would take a long time to get into- my purpose in this post is to kind of break down the 4 page letter of the bishop and hit the high points.]
All in all the letter was written in a scholarly way- the bishop used what we call the classic Apologetic tools to defend the Faith [he appealed to natural law- he quoted the Greek philosophers- etc.]
And he made the case in a way that was as gracious as possible to those who consider themselves Homosexual- while still defending the Traditional definition of marriage.
I of course did read- and re-read the letter.
I guess that around 10 % of Catholic Christians might have gone home after Mass and read the letter [it was kind of long- and a little scholarly].
But it was written in a well thought out way- and it does give you the official Catholic teaching on this matter.
The Church teaches that those Catholics who reject the traditional definition of marriage are rejecting a serious doctrine of the church- a ‘Grave matter’- and the church says these Catholics need to repent from this position.
In the Catholic Church there are degrees of Moral teaching- that is some areas are not considered as serious as others- the Church teaches that this doctrine- traditional Marriage- is one of those serious doctrines.
At the end of the letter it has the signature of Archbishop John J. Meyers- the bishop of Newark.
This was the first time I ever read an official Pastoral letter- one that was actually circulated in the handouts from the Church meeting.
I found it well written- scholarly- and of course- in keeping with the teaching of the historic church.
Whether you agree with the teaching or not [for instance I am a Protestant- and not bound to the teaching of the Catholic church].
You must admit- that the Catholic church puts out responsible material- material that is well thought out and in a way ‘peer reviewed’.
Yea- all in all- it was a good letter.
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 scroll down on the timeline [Facebook] – I have posted lots.
1924 A FREE BUS RIDE
In the last week I have had some good conversations- talked to various people- from different backgrounds.
I have actually defended other groups [Catholics] from false accusations.
One friend said ‘the Catholics put tradition OVER the bible’.
I said- ‘actually-that’s not true’.
The other person- a fellow Protestant- insisted it was.
I told them that the church believes that Gods voice comes to us in 2 ways- scripture and tradition- but they see them both as means to communicate God’s word- they hold equal value- at least in official Catholic teaching it is this way.
I had another friend- a Muslim- ask me about the teaching from the bible that says ‘another prophet will come’.
Is this in the bible?
I told him there is a famous teaching you find in the bible that says ‘another’ prophet must first come.
But- he was under the impression that this verse was referring to Muhammad- I explained that the disciples actually asked Jesus about this.
They said ‘if you’re the one- that what about the prophecy that says Elijah must come first’.
Jesus said that there was indeed a prophecy that says before the Messiah comes- Elijah must first come.
Then Jesus said ‘John the Baptist was Elijah’ [John the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elijah- and according to Jesus- he fulfilled the prophecy].
Jesus said that the prophecy about another prophet was fulfilled by him and John the Baptist- Jesus was the final and ultimate ‘prophet’ –Messiah- sent from God.
In all of these dialogues- I was friends with these people- I talk to these people as co-equals- I try real hard not to ‘preach at them’.
Sure- in a way- this type of conversation- is a type of preaching- but how long would it have taken my Muslim friend to have wandered into some church and have heard this?
We- all of us- need to have friendships with people from other backgrounds.
We need to know- really- what other people believe.
My Protestant friend started from a wrong understanding of what Catholics believe.
If she wants to dialogue with Catholics about the differences between us- then she needs to know what the differences are.
The other day I was riding the old bus that drives down Bergenline ave.
Back in Texas when you buy a ticket with a transfer- it’s good all day.
So when I got on the bus I asked the guy if it was still good.
He looked at it real quick and said ‘yeah’.
After I sat down he told me ‘you know it did expire- but don’t worry about it’.
I told him I would pay for the ticket- but he said that’s okay.
So I talked to him from 48th street to 91st.
I told him I was visiting from Texas but grew up here in the area.
I told him I retired from the Fire Dept. after 25 years.
He has worked for the state for 30 years.
He asked me what it was like to retire- sort of like he is thinking about it too.
I told him that a lot of my friends put it off- they are scared of doing it.
Even though a job like mine might be considered dangerous- yet you get used to the routine- and some guys don’t know what they will do if they retire.
He kept agreeing with me- like he is having the same thoughts.
He was nice guy- a Black guy.
Why mention Black?
I asked him where he lives- he said East Orange.
I haven’t been around here for so long- I did not know that it is a predominantly Black area [I found out later].
But when he said he lives there- he said ‘you know- I like it- I don’t want to go home and have a lot of drama- I get that on the job’.
I think he was saying he has to deal with people who are racist- people who look down on others because they are different.
And when he’s home- he doesn’t want the same thing.
Sure- I understood what he was saying.
When I sat down that day- I never met the man before- after about 40 blocks- we were talking like friends- plus- I got a free ride.
It’s worth treating others with respect- listening to their side of things.
Sometimes they have picked up ideas that you might be able to correct- to show them that they might have a wrong impression about Christianity.
Other times you will learn too.
All in all- if you start without prejudice- you can go a lot further.
1920 SHEEP FROM ANOTHER FOLD
One of the challenges on this journey is I have friends/family who have hearing problems.
My dear mom has a hard time hearing- and it’s natural to talk loud.
You think because it’s difficult for you to hear- that to talk loud will somehow help the hearer as well.
I have a homeless friend who has been legally deaf his whole life.
He has learned how to talk low- on purpose.
I was telling my friend Patrick that this homeless friend also likes to dominate the conversation- he will talk- nonstop- literally for hours.
To be honest- I don’t mind- or lets say I realize that it helps him- so for 20 years I have had lots of talks [or should I say ‘hearings’] with him.
Okay- so as I’m sitting at my mom’s house yesterday- everyone is out- and I figure ‘wow- some quiet time- let’s make the most of it’.
Well- let’s at least try.
My phone rings- it’s a Texas number ‘what the heck- might as well get it’.
I usually never answer my phone unless it’s a number I recognize.
I get it- it’s my deaf homeless friend on the line- yelling ‘hey John- I can barely hear you’.
So- this is my buddy stuck in the forest in Texas- his girlfriend left him there [remember the last 5 posts?]
Anyway- he does not know I’m in Jersey- none of my homeless buddies know- I had no plans to have left the day I left- so no one knows.
So- as Dirk’s on the phone- telling me ‘I can’t hear you- you’re breaking up’.
I keep saying- well- yelling ‘I’M IN NYC [that’s really the spot- N.J. – right on the Hudson] I CAN’T TALK RIGHTT NOW’.
He keeps telling me he can’t hear me- but says ‘well- I can’t hear- but I guess I’ll just talk anyway’.
No- no- don’t guess that- not today!
I finally got thru and told him I’ll talk whenever I get back to Texas.
Okay- the journey has been interesting so far.
Whenever I drive cross country [or south to north] I enjoy reading the different ‘church’ names along the way.
You can see the development of Christianity across the country- by reading the signs.
As somewhat of a church historian- when I see the signs- I remember the times I read about the various movements.
Some church signs show the debate over the Trinity ‘Pentecostal oneness church’- they emphasize the divinity of Jesus a lot.
‘Pentecostal Trinity church’- they are saying ‘we are not the other guys’.
Of course you see the standard Baptist churches- the Methodist regions as well.
Over the years all of these groups have come to emphasize various teachings of Christianity.
As I headed further north- of course I come to my ‘homeland’- and I see the great catholic churches- the ones I remember from my youth [sort of like crossing the Tiber in a way- for you non intellectuals- google it].
It’s a sort of spiritual lesson- this past week- as well as the coming months- the Catholic church is going to focus on Vatican 2- the last church council.
This council [a meeting of all the catholic leaders/bishops] emphasized Ecumenism- for the first time the church recognized the various Christian churches- you know- all the ‘signs’ I saw on the road- as ‘separated Christian brothers’.
It was a big step for the church- a step of unity- based on the desire of Christ we read about in the gospel of John- chapter 17 ‘that we all would be one’.
In my talks these past few days- and my bible reading in the gospel of John- a theme kept popping up.
The Lord has been telling me to ‘shepherd all the people I bring to you- all those who are on a spiritual journey’.
In John’s gospel the message- at least to me- is to do my best to present the pre-imminence of Christ- that he is the source of salvation- and to recognize that there are also ‘sheep- not of this fold that he will bring’.
Now- in context Jesus was speaking about the Gentiles- the ‘non- Jews’ who would convert.
In the ‘broader’ context- I am taking it as being open to the other Monotheistic faiths.
So- I have good talks with Muslims [and have even shared some good things about Islam- yes- there are good things- with fellow Christians].
My mom told me ‘John- do you know who died’.
Sandy is a nice Jewish lady who lived right up the block from me when I was a kid.
I was friends with her son.
She became a Facebook friend a few years back.
I am always grateful when I make Jewish/Muslim friends on the site.
When I first friended Sandy- we talked some.
Then I noticed one time- we didn’t talk much [you know- when you write a lot- people are going to get offended at one time or another].
So- when I did not see her comments- I figured she got upset about some post.
But then one day- about a month ago- I saw some action form her page- I forget what it was- but I saw that she came back to read the posts.
Then- well- she passed on.
When my mom told me that she died- I said ‘are you sure’.
I went to Sandy’s page- and there was no indication that she died.
So I left a little note to tell my friend good bye.
Yes- I’m grateful for ‘the other’ sheep if you will.
The other friends of mine who are on a spiritual journey.
I’m grateful for all the ‘separated brothers’ those various Christian churches who are now seen as brothers in Christ.
Make no mistake- as a Christian I believe that Jesus is the Son of God- who died- was buried- and rose again ‘according to the scriptures’.
I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the resurrection of the dead- the forgiveness of sins- and life everlasting.
I also believe that in this life God will bring to us others who are on a journey as well- and maybe for a time these people might be on a different path- maybe they do not see everything like I do.
But when these contacts are made- do your best to try and see them as ‘others who are not from this group’ but others whom God has brought your way- at least for a season.
NOTE- One sign I liked was on the side of this huge gun store ‘GUNS- GUNS- GUNS- JESUS IS LORD’.
1913 FATHER JOHN
We did another ‘all nighter’ last night.
Now- to my old partying buddies- not that.
I got with Henry yesterday- a street bro. – and we hit the Half Price book store [his and my favorite spot] bought a bunch of books- and came back to the Casa.
I BBQ’ed a bunch of stuff [will post the pics- on Face Book- for those who read these from the Blog].
And we had a good fellowship.
I gave Henry the choice of what channel he wanted on all night [the guy’s crash in the living room- so whatever they want to leave on the tube- I set it for them. I would let them choose themselves- but I have a bunch of remotes- and I don’t want them waking me up ‘John- the TV wont work’ type of thing].
So Henry picked the classic country- geez- I had no idea?
Okay- at the bookstore we spent at least an hour- I can spend 2 hours just going thru the books- I have before.
In one of the isles- Catholic cubby type thing- I met a nice Christian brother.
Sometimes I’ll give my card with the web site on it- most people at the bookstore are readers [ya think?]
As I offered him my card- he told me – ‘yes- I am a reader of Christian stuff- I’m a Catholic priest’.
I told father John that’s great- I have many Catholic readers- and even a few priests/pastors who read my stuff.
We had a really good conversation- I do dialogue well with priests.
I have studied Catholic theology- history- the whole 9 yards.
And I told John- if anything- I get more complaints that I’m ‘too catholic’ than the other way around.
I will try and visit John- he runs a Catholic retreat here in C.C.- I know the exact spot- it’s a huge building right off the highway.
It’s a big ‘dome’ type structure- with a Gold top.
He told me ‘no- it’s not a mosque’.
For years that’s exactly what I thought it was.
I will make a visit to father John’s place- he invited me to do lunch.
Anyway- Henry is still crashed out on the couch- we will hit the mission a little later- and maybe check up on John David- my friend in the hospital.
I’m looking forward to him getting out [he had open heart surgery last week].
I’m going to partner with David in setting up a halfway house- that’s his dream/calling.
All in all we had a good day- I will post the pics right after this post.
There are some news stories that I could cover- but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.
Enjoy the day- pray for the brothers I mentioned yesterday- and for all my friends- they do [we all do] need prayer- thanks.
1905 DID THE JEWS KILL CHRIST?
Kinda want to try and wrap up for the week- maybe one more post in the morning?
I posted some pics of the street guys yesterday- want to make a few comments.
I like taking the pics and posting them right when I’m with the guys- I’ll tell them ‘hey- right now your pics are going to the site’- they love it.
I also want to wrap up a few final points about the church- and the 2 extremes that she strayed into over the centuries.
In the last few posts we have been discussing the over emphasis on natural Israel- the promises of God- found in the Old Testament- concerning the restoration of the land- the re-building of the temple- stuff like that.
The church also has a sad history of anti Semitism- racism against Jewish people.
To our Catholic friends- the church has tried to deal with it in the last 30 years or so.
The present Pope- Benedict- who I do like [I have read his books] got into some trouble a couple of years ago.
It was a noble attempt to try and heal some long time divisions within the church.
It has been said when the Protestants disagree with something- they go out and start their own church.
When Catholics disagree- they start their own order.
I like that- funny- and true.
So- part of the Catholic divisions is the older type churches- the ones who rebelled against the noble reforms of Vatican 2 [The last church council- held between 1962-65].
Within the Catholic Church there are disagreements over what the council was trying to do.
Liberal Catholics believe the church was trying to trend into a more liberal institution.
Conservatives say that’s a misreading- that the church still held to her conservative roots- and was simply trying to be more Ecumenical.
Either way- one of the results was the more traditional type churches- sometimes called Tridentine [the ones who prefer the old Latin Mass].
These churches kind of split off from Rome and have been worshipping using the Latin mass [which was originally a violation of Vatican 2].
Vatican 2 said the Mass should now be done in the vernacular- the language of the people.
So- Benedict made a noble attempt to bridge this division- and he allowed for the Tridentine churches to do the Mass in Latin- and he also restored an old prayer- about the Jewish people- which simply said we pray for the conversion of Jews.
Okay- was this a big thing?
To simply say Christians are praying for the conversion of Jews- is that real bad?
In my mind- not a big thing.
Might it offend some of our Jewish friends?
But that’s the tradition of the church- to want people to come to belief in Christ.
But- because of the history of anti Semitism- this became a big thing.
‘How dare you pray for our conversion’ type thing.
So the church has had to grapple with how she looks at the Jewish people.
Historically- there were times of persecution of the Jews.
Most of us are familiar with the inquisitions.
The ones in Spain did ‘force’ the Jews to convert- and there were ‘inquiries’ made to see if the Jewish people really converted.
Some were put to death during this time.
During the protestant Reformation of the 16th century- out of Germany- which was Martin Luther’s home country.
There were anti Semitic writings penned by Luther.
Some of these writings were later used- in Germany- under Hitler- to justify anti Semitism.
Very sad history.
Now we have the ‘over emphasis’ [in my view] of the role of natural Israel- and the End Times [last couple of posts].
So- as you see- we have been to both sides of the aisle on this.
Why did anti Semitism play a role in the church?
Understand- we have bibles- that as Christians we accept as the Word of God.
There are also statements in our bibles- well- to be honest- might not have been written the same way- the same style- if we ‘re-wrote’ them today.
Bare with me a moment.
When the Mel Gibson’s movie came out- the Passion of the Christ- the criticism was he stuck very closely to the bible text- and it was indeed a violent crucifixion.
The writings of the apostle John specifically talk about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
There are other themes like this in our New Testament.
It’s not hard to see how these statements could lead to anti Semitism.
One of the things that the Pope recently clarified- which I absolutely agree with- is that when we read these things in our bibles.
We should not read them as saying ‘all Jews- of all times- are responsible for the death of Christ’.
In the bible story- the Jewish leaders conspired with the Roman govt. to ‘kill Christ’.
Many [all] of the original believers in the Messiah were indeed Jewish.
And the ‘anti Semitic’ statements in the New Testament were written by Jews- who were simply saying that they believed that some of their Jewish brothers were missing the boat by not accepting Jesus as the Messiah who was to come.
Okay- as you can see- we- the church- have a long history with this.
I would like to make one last comment before we close our talks on this.
For many years- as a bible teacher- writing- doing radio- etc.
It never dawned on me how these statements can indeed be offensive to our Jewish friends.
I mean say if you read ‘the Italians killed Christ’ or the Germans- etc.
That would indeed be problematic if you were trying to get your kids to read the bible.
The same thing with our references to the Arab world.
There are verses- in the Old Testament- that talk about Syria- Iraq [Babylon] and other Arab/Persian nations as the ‘enemies of God’.
So- when we use our bibles- in the modern day- it’s vital to understand that today- the kingdom of God is not about natural borders- or ethnic backgrounds.
It’s about Christ’s new kingdom- the kingdom of God.
All nations and races are welcome- we do not discriminate.
And we- as the church- do confess our sins against our Jewish friends- against our Arab friends- yes- we confess.
In the heated political environment of our day- the post 9-11 world- it’s hard to avoid animosity- and at times- hatred- towards others.
But we- as the people of God- should strive for forgiveness and unity- at least unity as people who live in a global society.
Yes- maybe we- as preachers especially- should re-think how we phrase things.
Yes- there are out and out statements in the bible about the ‘Jews killing Jesus’.
But in context- it would be wrong to put this on all Jews of all times- and if we ‘adjust’ the way we say these things- I think God would be well pleased.
1903 JEWS AND THE END TIMES?
I want to delve into a hard issue for the church.
The last few weeks I have been watching the documentaries from net flix.
I mentioned that most [if not all?] are done from the liberal perspective- which I’m okay with.
But it is important on all issues to see both sides.
One of the things they dealt with was the history of the church and anti Semitism.
Yes- the Christian church has had a long history of treating the Jewish people badly.
As a Protestant- those of you who have been reading my posts for a while- well you realize that I’m not in the ‘normal’ category of Protestantism.
Many of the subjects I hit on are going against the strain of what we normally view as American Evangelicalism.
I often reference the Pope- in a good way- or talk about our Catholic brothers and sisters- well- as brothers and sisters!
So- I realize I have rubbed many the wrong way.
So- this subject of the treatment of the Jewish people has seen extremes- and in the American Evangelical church- much too much of the ‘end times’ stuff- in my view- is missing the boat.
As we read the New Testament we see Jesus and the disciples [all Jewish by the way] living at a time when the Roman govt. ruled over the Jewish people- and the Jewish people were waiting for their ‘salvation’ by means of a Jewish Messiah who would come and deliver them from their oppressors.
Much of their understanding of salvation was tied in to a national deliverance.
When you read the prayers/praises of both John the Baptists dad- and also Mary’s praise [called the Magnificat] you see a strong sense of national deliverance.
They speak about God sending the Messiah to deliver the people form their oppressors.
Okay- in this milieu we have Jesus and his guys living and believing that the ‘salvation’ of God is near.
It was only natural for the disciples- especially those who we call Zealots [Simon- not Peter] to think that this whole salvation story was about God restoring natural Israel back to a place of prominence once again- no more Roman rule type of thing.
But we see an interesting thing with Jesus- he keeps making statements that seem to lead the disciples away from seeing things this way.
‘My kingdom is not of this world- or my men would fight’
‘Put up the sword- those who live by it will die by it’
And the verse I quoted the other day ‘see all these buildings- temple- there will not be one stone left upon another’.
He basically is rejecting the nationalistic idea of him being the Messiah who would redeem Israel in a nationalist way.
He’s showing them that his purpose is different- it’s salvific for sure- but not in the way they perceive.
Okay- I’m beginning to realize I won’t be able to cover the whole thing in this post.
Maybe I’ll do a few more like this in the next few days.
The point is- I want you to see that God’s purpose for our Jewish friends- our Muslim friends- for all races and ethnic groups.
His purpose is not to pit one side against the other.
It’s not about Jesus defending one side- at his second coming- and actually leading that side in a real war- where he shoots people- or kills them with a sword!
No- these scenarios- which prevail in the End Times books you see at Wal mart.
These ‘narratives’ if you will- go against the entire grain of the teachings of Jesus.
This is why you see me so negative at times- against the Evangelical church.
Many Protestants- well meaning people- have such a negative view of the historic church- that they reject the ancient church’s position on these things.
For the most part- the historic church took a position called A-Millennialism.
Basically it’s a kind of spiritual way of seeing all these things.
God’s kingdom is not seen thru the eyes of natural war- but thru the eyes of a heavenly kingdom.
I think that’s the correct position- for the most part.
But most American protestants believe that this position is just one of the many ‘doctrines of the Whore of Babylon’ see what I mean?
Okay- lets end there- think on some of this stuff- read the New Testament with this in your mind.
Why does the Apostle John refer to natural Jerusalem as ‘spiritual Sodom and Egypt’? [Revelation]
Was his intent to be anti Semitic?
No- he was showing us that God’s concern was for all people groups- no longer was it about a nationalistic thing- a type of salvation that the disciples at first were thinking of.
As I end this post- I want to make sure that all my friends- Jews- Muslims- all- understand that my position is that God loves us all- and he’s not in the business of backing any side- militarily.
I hope to show you this in the coming days.
1902 ARNOLD AND TERRI
Yesterday morning I took one of my early drives.
I kinda ride the main roads in our area- Cross-town- 37- these are the overpasses that let you drive the whole region without having to stop at a ton of red lights.
On the way back- around 6-7 am- I got off by the area where I bought the Jesus carving last week [remember the pic?]
I have been wanting to kind of start an outreach to the guys in that area for a while [remember the dollar I offered to the Mexican brother- who thought I had a gun?]
Yeah- that’s how it works- you just walk up to the guys- say hi- and over time you make new friends.
Isn’t that risky John?
To be honest- yes.
But I determined a long time ago that we [I] would take the risk.
Have there been times where you thought- for real- that this might be the big one?
Yes- a couple of times.
A friend- freaking out over some stuff- walking around with his loaded gun- I did think he might have killed us both that day- for real.
Another friend- who actually attempted to murder a couple of cops- one day I was at his house.
He knew that everyone knew him to be crazy- and that everyone feared him.
One day at the Fire House- the guys were talking about one of the local gang type guys.
His name was Campos.
They come from a big drug family in Kingsville.
Anyway- they had some ambulance run the night before- a shooting or something- and this Campos guy was involved.
The guys who knew Campos- some of the younger Mexican firefighters who grew up in the area knew all the war stories about him- he was the local ‘infamous hero’ to them.
They were talking about all the stuff Campos has done- shootings and stuff.
I got tired of hearing it- I told them ‘heck- my buddy beat the crap out of him one night’.
They shut up.
Yeah- this is my friend with the reputation of being nuts.
So anyway- as I was at his house- he just got out of prison.
He is talking to me- and he pulls out a very large hunting knife.
I could see it’s a test- he wants to see my face.
I sat there- knew it was a test- and gave him the look like- ‘I have been here before my friend’.
I guess I passed the test.
Both of these friends [the gun guy and knife] are long dead.
My ‘knife’ friend- well I mentioned him the other day and didn’t want to say too much- his brother and nephew are friends on my Face Book page.
But I’m sure they know- one night at the firehouse we had a call that some guy was attempting to kill a cop [again? I don’t know the whole story- but that’s how we heard it].
Something of that nature.
He possibly swallowed a bag of coke and went into a coma.
It was my friend.
I visited with him and his family at the hospital for about a week- they finally took him off life support.
He’s the one that’s buried at the ranch picture I posted the other day- in Bishop- Texas.
Okay- enough of this.
The reason I bring this up is I always felt I would take the risk- that I was supposed to.
So- Sunday morning when I got off on Morgan street- I really wasn’t intending on meeting any new ‘friends’.
We were going to go to church and all- and I try not to do outreach on Sunday.
But to my surprise there were a couple of street guys sleeping right on the bus benches.
In the ‘olden days’ you couldn’t do that.
This road [Morgan and Cross-town] is a high crime spot.
A kid- Jacob- committed a triple murder right at the intersection not too long ago.
But as I saw the guys on the benches- I thought ‘damn- let me stop and get them breakfast’.
There’s a McDonalds right there.
I got a laugh- when I ordered the breakfasts- the girl asks ‘is this a senior discount’.
Hell- I just turned 50- but I told her ‘if you want it to be’.
Yeah- the Lord blessed me.
So I got the meals- and headed out to the street.
It’s funny- all the people driving by- you know- one of those spots where you make sure the doors are locked.
I took a few pics- hope to post this morn.
But I walked across the street and simply told the kid on the bench- ‘hey bro- you want breakfast’.
I woke him up- he said ‘yeah man- thanks’.
I talked to Arnold for a while- nice Hispanic kid.
I gave him a few bucks- and he ran across the street to get some coffee- on the way back I told him I was gonna go offer the other meal to the guy on the other bench.
Arnold grabbed a car rag out of his pocket- he was going to the car lot right off the main street- the guy pays him 10 bucks to simply wipe the dew off the cars in the morning.
I walked over to the other guy- sleeping too.
‘Hey man- you want a breakfast’.
‘Oh yes- thank you so much’.
Terri has been homeless for a while.
He’s around 57- used to print the Ad Sack- our local paper where you list the stuff you want to sell [you know- the caveman Craigslist]
I sat with Terri for a couple of hours.
He enjoyed the meal- told me how breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
We walked across the street- I offered to buy Terri some smokes- not beer.
We walked in the store [Stripes] and the girl kicked him out fast.
I guess they know him.
I told Terri ‘I’ll get the smokes- what do you want’?
He wanted Kite- they are the roll your own type- lots of the guys buy these when they are broke.
‘C-mon Terri- my treat- get what you want’.
No- he said the Kite were fine.
Sure enough- they don’t carry Kite- he got the classic- Marlboro Red.
I sat there- right on the street- having a good time talking to Terri.
It was obvious Terri was an alcoholic- I did tell him I’m trying to get clean myself.
I told Terri that I passed this road many times over the years.
When I was a firefighter in Kingsville we used to take the badly inured to the hospital that’s right across the street.
It used to be called Memorial- it was the highest rated Trauma hospital in the region- it was also the free public hospital for those who had no coverage.
So lots of the addicts and stuff use it.
I noticed Terri had a medical band on his wrist- and he was wearing the hospital type pants.
Yeah- he was probably what we call an MHMR patient.
Mental health pt.
Terri seemed like a nice guy- down on his luck- living on a bus bench- right across from Arnold- living on the other one.
Yeah- I finally made 2 new friends- I will go back at least once a week- maybe take the guys to the buffet.
This is how it’s done- I have been doing this for years- ever since the day my buddy pulled out the knife- or the other one with the gun.
Sure- you do take risks- but most of the guys are like Teri and Arnold- harmless people down on their luck.
It’s not a race thing- Black- White- Mexican- they all have had their hard times.
I will try and chronicle their stories as time moves on- I want you to see these people.
Even though Terri was obviously not all there- he still had his senses.
As I sat with him- a pack of dogs walks right by us- you know- those little dog gangs.
A few cute pups were in ‘this gang’.
I asked Terri ‘are these regular’s’
He said no- he has never seen them before.
I told him ‘I guess they just heard some guys giving out free food’.
Yeah- I made some new friends- living on bus benches.
I told them ‘hey- can I take your pics for the site’?
They loved it.
Enjoy the pics [if they post?]
NOTE- As I sat with the guys on this Sunday morning- I noticed not all of the cars driving by ignored us- some stopped and gave a few dollars- or a taco- to the guys.
They were wearing rosary beads and stuff- the people who also helped.
I felt like they were good Catholic people on their way to Mass- living out the teachings of their church- helping the poor.
May God bless them.
1897 WHITE’S CREATED AIDS TO KILL BLACKS
Okay- we spent the last few days talking about the Todd Akin comment.
Akin is running for senator in Mo.
He said that ‘legitimate rape RARELY produces a pregnancy- because a woman’s body has ways of shutting that stuff down’.
So- the national media has spent days on this.
Last night I caught a short clip of ABC world news with Dianne Sawyer.
It teased an upcoming special 2 DAY coverage of Mormonism.
So- I figured instead of my usual channel surfing- I would watch the entire 30 minutes of ABC news at 5:30.
It was revealing.
For their political coverage- they showed a few negative ads about Ryan/Romney [none of Obama].
They covered the abortion views of Ryan.
Then they said ‘okay- that’s it for political coverage’.
Was that political coverage?
It was free ad time for the President.
Many of the web ad’s that are produced- by both sides- only produce them for the purpose of various media outlets picking them up and showing them on their shows.
Yes- nothing wrong with the strategy.
But- when the so called unbiased media only plays the ads of one side- they are spending hundreds of thousands giving free ad time to one side.
What about the Mormon coverage?
ABC began a 2 night ‘world coverage’ of Mormonism.
Like I said before- I am very aware of their teaching- I have Mormon friends- but quite frankly- the media realize that if they high light the religious beliefs of Romney- it will hurt him.
So- during the coverage they used words like-
‘strange- peculiar’ [fits in with MSNBC’S mantra of referring to Romney as weird- member of a cult]
‘all male leaders’
Now- you might ask ‘so John- if these things are true- then what’s wrong with the media exposing it’.
That’s the point.
When President Obama was running in 2008- his church background had almost no coverage at all.
The little coverage it did get was by Fox- or those in the media saying his religion is off grounds.
Matthews [MSNBC] kept accusing the conservatives of imposing a ‘religious test’ on Obama.
So- the church Obama belonged to was a Black Liberation church.
Now- for the record- much of what you read on my site has a very strong strain of liberation theology in it.
Yes- my defense of the poor- the illegal alien- many of my themes are indeed found in liberation theology movements.
In the past I covered this teaching- how it rose from the Catholic bishops in Latin America- how the Catholic church had debates within their church over it.
All in all- in some ways I actually defended Liberation Theology- and even Rev Wright [to a degree].
So- having said that- what were some of the beliefs of Obama’s church?
Rev Wright [Obama’s pastor for 20 years] believed that AIDS was created by the White man [the govt.] for the purpose of infecting Blacks to kill them.
Wright worked closely with Farrakhan in Chicago- and they often espoused hatred for the White race.
How much of this did you ever see on the news?
Did ABC do a 2 night ‘world coverage’ of the ‘strange beliefs’ of Obama’s church?
Now- how much of this affected the President?
Obama’s defense was he never heard Wright say any stuff like this- though he said Wright was one of the most influential men in his life.
He was married by Wright.
Wright baptized his kids.
And Obama titled one of his books after a phrase from the pastor [The Audacity of Hope].
Now- as a listener of both the right and left- I also get to hear [radio] stuff that you don’t hear on the news.
These are actual quotes from President Obama
‘White man’s greed rules a world in need’ [he was quoting from his own book- he did an audio version of it]
‘White’s move into the suburbs because they don’t want to pay for the education of inner city kids’
Does he really believe this?
If you are White- and you move out of the city- he says you did this because you are racist.
Not because you want to escape the crime- pollution- have a better school for your kids.
No- according to the Presidents own words- it’s because you don’t want your money going to educate inner city kids [mostly Black kids].
Why are these actual quotes important?
They show you that the beliefs of rev. Wright did indeed affect the President.
Yet- you never heard any of this from the media- they would not dare cover the religious beliefs of Obama.
They said it was outrageous that anyone would ask.
As I watched last night- I was reminded of all the comments I heard these past few weeks by the media.
Bashir [MSNBC] said outright that Christians should not vote for Romney because he denies the Trinity.
A major Democrat funder said Romney does not give to charity- but to ‘his cult’.
On and on.
I personally do not believe we should pick a candidate because of his faith.
Other Christians do indeed differ- I have friends who will not vote for Romney because he is Mormon.
The point I’m making is this is what you call media bias.
You would never see a so called news man say ‘you should not vote for Obama because he is a Black Liberation Christian’.
Now- you will hear that from others- but never from the news itself.
Yet- we have heard all of the above from so called main stream news sources.
If we- as Citizens- are expected to make informed votes- then we either need to know all of the above- about both sides- or none of the above- about both sides.
I assure you- if the world news covered the statements- of the president himself- and the beliefs of the church he attended for 20 years.
That the 2008 election would have been much different.
But the media had their man- and they did all they could to cover him in a favorable light.
Now- they are covering his challenger in an unfavorable one.
They are outright saying he is a cult member- that he denies the Trinity- that his church is strange- weird.
They are covering Romney’s religion nonstop.
Yet- the church belief that the White man created AIDS to kill Blacks- well that’s a personal religious belief.
We have no right to know that.
1892- WHAT A DEAL!
Well I finally sold the Mustang last night [a car- not horse].
I put it on Craigslist for about a week- geez- too many calls.
People would ask for directions- I’d give them the address and directions- then they would call back ‘well- I don’t speak English too good [lots of Mexicans buy the cars from this area and sell them in Mexico] – I’m still in the parking lot ‘[Wal mart].
Okay- would could I do?
I told a few people ‘look- I gave you the address- directions- part of this project is you need to be able to get here- if you can’t complete this part of the ‘mission’ then I guess you won’t be buying the car brother’.
Yeah- they need that type of tough love.
So anyway it sold for 700.
That was a steal to be honest.
1998 mustang- runs good- does need a starter.
Another one was selling for 1500- with a blown motor!
Okay- let’s do another verse from the prophet.
‘In all their affliction he was afflicted- and the angel of his presence saved them’ Isaiah 63:9
If you read the entire chapter you get a scene of someone treading the Winepress.
I spoke about this a while back- the imagery of a Winepress- a place where you crush the grapes and make the wine- is used by the prophets in the bible.
Jesus himself uses the same imagery in the gospels.
Here you have God saying ‘I looked for a man- someone to do this mission- and I found no one- so my own arm brought salvation’.
It is important to note that in this chapter we see God [Jesus] stained with the blood of those who are being trampled at the Winepress.
In the book of Revelation we this same thing.
Many modern prophecy teachers [another pet peeve of mine by the way] have an end time scenario all figured out- they see these things thru the ‘lens’ of modern warfare- which nation should get which piece of land [Israel- Palestine- etc.]
But they fail to see how the New Testament focuses on all ethnic groups- Jews, Palestinians- etc- as being One New Man in Christ [Ephesians].
So- this image of the winepress sometimes is associated with a final battle of Armageddon scenario- that makes me cringe when I hear it proclaimed- in an ethnic way- from the media pulpits.
‘John- how should we take it then’?
Look- I’m not saying ‘my way’ is the only way- or the right way.
But when we read the bible- we must also take into consideration the broader themes of the love and grace of God- yes- judgment too- I don’t deny that- but the mercy of God must be there as well.
So- in this imagery of Jesus being stained with the blood of sinners- at a Winepress- the ‘place of pressing’ [like the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus started to bleed- pouring out his blood].
We can also see this as a type of the Cross- the place where the judgment and wrath of God was poured out- on Christ himself.
Maybe the blood that the ‘treader’ is soaked in- maybe its redemptive- just maybe.
But the actual verse I wanted to hit on was that ‘in all our affliction- he is afflicted’ [which by the way fits in more with what I just said].
In 1st Peter 4 we read that we are partakers of Christ’s suffering.
The apostle Paul said ‘I fill up the sufferings of Christ’.
They saw their trials as being redemptive in nature- that is they felt like the things they were going thru in life were for a higher purpose.
They did not view the Christian experience thru a lens that was primarily seeking self benefit.
Many today see ‘church’ and Christianity as a means of self improvement- often times you hear the same thing from the pulpits as you hear on the weekend self help infomercials [or the ‘how to get rich’ guys].
Is this a right view?
We are on the earth to glorify God- and to finish the work he gave us to do.
If part of the cost is suffering- then so be it.
These verses I have quoted show us in no uncertain terms that we are called- at times- to suffer.
As a student of all types of scholars- I must confess that our Catholic brothers and sisters get this right- much more often than Protestants.
So- those of you who have been tracking this journey- you have seen some flat tires- some wrecked trucks- and yeah- some up’s and downs.
I’m not saying all of this is equal to the sufferings of the early apostles- but in a small way- we can identify- and gain comfort- to know that these are not ‘strange trials’ these are things we all go thru in life.
I just wish we could take turns!
1878- THE DARK KNIGHT OF THE SOUL
Well today is surely a day of mourning.
As you all know- yesterday marked another tragic day for our nation.
We had another deadly rampage in Colorado [Aurora].
Right down the road from Columbine.
James Holmes- a 24 year old student- walked into a theatre- carrying multiple guns- and shot randomly at the audience.
Last I heard- 71 shot- 12 dead.
It was at the premiere of Dark Knight Rising- the new Batman movie.
We don’t yet know the motivation for the killings- maybe we never will.
But of course- that won’t stop the media from making fools of themselves.
Brian Ross- ABC’s ‘chief investigative reporter’ had breaking news on their morning show.
He actually had the audacity to report that he found a man with the same name- James Holmes- who had a web site affiliated with the Tea Party.
Gee- I’m sure there are no other people with such an odd name that live in Aurora Colorado.
I’m sure if this were a Muslim name- I’m sure you would have reported a random find- that you found another Muslim name- sounds the same- and he’s affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The sad thing is- after a little while- Ross had to apologize- the man he ‘outed’ was not the shooter.
The shooter was a 24 year old- the Holmes from the Ross report is 54.
The 54 year old had to disconnect his phone- his family immediately became a target for revenge.
What a bang up job you did Brian- may God have mercy on your soul- and please- please go away.
It’s sad- right up the road from where I live- we had the Fort Hood shootings.
Major Nidal Hassan walked into a crowded room on the base and fired on his fellow military men and women.
Killed many- shouted ‘Allah Akbar’- and opened fire.
During the investigation we learned that Hassan carried a card that identified himself as a soldier for Islam.
He dressed in garb that indicated he was Muslim.
He made many statements thru out his career that said he was a radical.
He had on line contacts with nut sites that advocate radical Islamic terrorism.
Yet- for all this- the administration refereed to this killing as ‘work place violence’.
Yet- ABC news thought it fine to simply share- with the world- that someone with the name Jim Holmes was connected to the Tea Party.
We had another ‘attack’ just up the road from me a few years back.
The nut who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin.
The NY Times reported- on their on line forum- ‘Tea Party unhinged’.
It was later found out that the pilot was actually a communist sympathizer- not a Tea partier at all.
Gifford’s- when the congresswoman from Arizona was shot- the media spent a week trying to connect the dots- that somehow the political use of ‘targeting a district’ used by Sarah Palin- was responsible for the tragedy.
And of course- who can forget the nemesis of the large size cola.
Yes- a few years back Bloomberg [mayor of NY] referred to the Times Square bomber as ‘probably someone who is mad at Obama Care’.
We later found out- yes- once again- that the guy was a radical Islamist.
It’s sad how slow the media are to report the associations of radical Islam- when it’s obvious for everyone to see.
Yet- they go hunting- and even report innocent names- when they think there might be a connection with a right wing group.
How did Ross do his research?
You think he just stumbled upon a name that was the same?
You think he might just have googled ‘Tea Party- Jim Holmes’.
No- I’m sure the chief investigative reporter would never stoop so low.
This last week I’ve been reading Isaiah- chapters 49 thru the end.
There are so many key verses in these chapters- ones that I have memorized and quoted over the years during prayer.
In chapter 53 we read that God saw the ‘Travail of his soul and was satisfied’.
‘Because he poured out his soul unto death’.
‘He was numbered with the transgressors’.
The chapter speaks about the suffering Messiah.
Our Jewish friends apply this to their struggles as a nation.
I think both are applicable.
There is a term we use in Christianity- it’s called ‘The dark night of the soul’.
Saint John of the Cross [a famous Christian from church history] made the term popular.
Mother Theresa- we found out later- lived many of her years in this state of ‘darkness’.
It simply speaks about the trials we all go thru- times when we think all hope is lost.
Some people experience it more than others- the above chapter says this travail- this numbness- is redemptive in nature.
God uses it- and the people- nations- that go thru it for a purpose.
It was because Christ suffered- poured out his soul ‘unto death’ that he became the savior for mankind.
It was because of the struggles of the Jewish people that they have now become one of the most prosperous nations in that part of the world.
I’m not saying God ordains that a mad man shoot innocent people in a movie.
But I am saying that we as a nation can become a better people thru it all.
Yesterday Obama and Romney both suspended their campaigns for a day.
And I even heard MSNBC give credit to both men for it.
Yeah- we saw civility- by both camps- for the first time in a while.
Today we pray for the victims of Aurora.
We try and resist the stupidity of associating this mad kid’s act with any group- at least until we get more facts.
And we- as a nation- have an opportunity- we have a ‘dark night’ opportunity- we can either become worse- hate more- blame the other side for it.
Or we can reflect- we can turn our minds to the things that count.
In the end- we can find redemption in the collective ‘travail of our souls’.
1877 CHINESE FOOD- RELIGION- POLITICS [WOW!!]
Let’s try and cover a few things today.
Yesterday I went down to the mission to see the guys.
Henry showed up- I was hanging out with Dirk and Joe for a little while.
Henry heard they were serving chili – he has stomach problems- so he invited me and Joe to go to the Chinese buffet about a block away.
Henry has been working regularly at the boat dock and he had some cash.
We walked down to the Chinese place and Joe and Henry ate- I never eat lunch [or b-fast].
We had a good time- I actually took a few pictures and my daughter will try and post them [I’m bad at that].
We talked for a while- actually the guys brought up politics on their own.
Geez- Chinese buffet- homeless outreach and politics- I thought for sure the Kingdom had come.
Henry told me ‘John- did you hear- the cops cuffed me at HEB the other day’.
He told me the story.
Henry is one of the most upstanding guys you could ever meet.
He is a deacon for church without walls [a homeless church].
He is practically a scholar when it comes to the bible- and he does not do drugs or get drunk [he drinks wine. Not a lot- he thinks it helps with his stomach- that’s actually in the bible. Paul told Timothy ‘drink a little wine for you ailments’].
So- just to let you know- Henry is not a trouble maker by any means.
Why did the cops cuff him?
He went to HEB [our local grocery] and bought lunch.
He ate- then went to catch the bus.
Someone had called the cops and said a homeless guy was threatening him if he didn’t give him money.
HEB is right next to the mission so it’s possible that one of the other guys did do this.
So- when the cops got there they thought it was Henry and they cuffed him.
Henry does get mad- over the years they have arrested him- for no reason- they were just doing a sweep of the area- business people complain about all the ‘bums’- the cops pick a bunch of them up with no real charge- Henry is not loitering- he’s not drunk- he just looks bad [check out the picture on Face Book].
So- he has had to sit in jail- without doing any crime- and of course it would piss you off- it would me.
So anyway he told me the scoop- they finally uncuffed him- and let him go.
I took a few more pictures of the guys- now that I started posting pictures of the guys- I’m like the dad that keeps making his kids pose for pics on vacation [like my dad did a lot].
The guys were like ‘why are you taking pics’?
I told them I started posting them to the site.
They said ‘wow- were gonna be famous’.
One of the guys said ‘you can’t take my pic- the cops might find me’.
I mentioned that I regret the fact that some of the guys have died and I never got a picture.
I talked about Bill.
Bill was one of the first guys I met on the street- he was about 30 years older than me and I have written a few posts on Bill over the years.
Bill eventually saw me as his ‘best friend’ almost like a son/brother.
I guess I took Bill out to eat more than any other street guy.
Bill died a few years ago.
So- as I mentioned Bill- Joe told me that they have a picture of Bill hanging up inside the mission.
I couldn’t believe it- they had one of Bill- and the camp!
I took a pic- will post it.
Many of the guys live in makeshift camps- I have visited hundreds of camps over the years.
These are little ‘tent cities’ that pop up in the vacant fields all around the area where I live.
I live on a bluff- a peninsula type jetty sticking out into the bay- right off the gulf.
So- there are lots of beach spots- and areas where the homeless can camp out.
My area is nice- it’s been developed over the years and marketed because of its closeness to Padre Island [right over the bridge and you’re at the beach- the national sea shore- you could walk it].
So- after a while the locals complain about the homeless population- and every so often they do a sweep- and go thru the camps and cut the tents [cops] and stuff like that.
I have bought tents for the guys over the years- and I get mad when I hear the cops cut another tent.
I’ll try and get these photos up loaded soon.
On the way back to the marina [where Henry works].
We started talking about all the guys who have died these past few years.
I told Henry that when I do my early morning prayers- I try to ‘see’ these guys as part of the community- the little fellowship of friends I have worked with over the years.
I told Henry- that in a strange way- I still sense Bill- Shelby- etc. – as ‘hanging out’ with us [I just looked up over my head- I have a ball cap of Bill hanging on my shot gun rack- after Bill died I found it under my car seat. He must have left it there one day when going out to eat- I kept it as a memento].
I mentioned that as Protestants- we usually neglect the biblical teaching that our Catholic friends emphasize.
The Communion of the Saints.
That even though Protestants don’t practice prayers to Mary and the saints- yet in a very real way those who have died in the faith are indeed still part of the community.
I mentioned the book of Revelation- it speaks about the prayers of the martyrs [dead Christians] going up to God as incense.
I told Henry- just because our friends have died- that does not mean they can’t still pray- even for us!
Being Henry knows the bible well- he was familiar with the passage that I mentioned- he just never saw it like that [see- there are lots of things like this in the Christian journey- that’s why we should hold judgment on other Christian denominations as much as possible- we all ‘see dimly’ at times].
Okay- I guess will end there.
I was gonna do a few news items- yesterday the ‘rebels’ in Syria bombed a key headquarters of the leader- Assad.
This was a suicide bombing- by most accounts- Al Qaeda did this.
Yet- the U.S. – and the western media continue to describe these guys as innocent civilians whom Assad is killing.
This happened in Libya as well.
I am not defending Assad- but we in the West need to stop referring to all the rebel groups in the various Arab spring uprisings as ‘innocent rebels’.
Many are not- many are terrorists- they practice such things as suicide bombings.
The one yesterday killed some key Syrian men- one was the brother in-law of Assad.
Things are getting very unstable over there.
Our recent killing of an Indian fisherman [we shot the fishing boat off the U.A.E the other day].
And yesterday’s terror attack on a bunch of Israeli tourists.
These are all signs of major unrest in that region- It’s possible that this might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to Israel taking out the nuclear facilities of Iran.
Obama has been trying to get Israel to hold off on the Iranian attack- you guessed it- till after the election.
But after yesterdays bus bombing- they might decide to go.
So all in all- there’s lots of stuff going on in the world- lets pray for peace- for all people.
PEACE ON EARTH- GOOD WILL TO MEN.
1876- THE SPEED OF LIGHT
Wasn’t sure which way to go- but this morning I was walking in my yard [I get up real early!] and I thought about the story of the Unjust Judge.
It’s a parable that Christ told- I actually haven’t read it in a while- but remember it pretty well.
Jesus said in this city there was a widow who went to this judge- the judge did not ‘fear God—or care about men’.
She had a situation where she needed the judge to do justice on her behalf.
The judge at first put the woman off- but then he said ‘I better do something- because her continual nagging is driving me up the wall’ [my paraphrase].
Jesus then said ‘see what the judge did- how much more will my heavenly father do for those who come to him’- then he says ‘he will avenge THEM SPEEDILY’.
We often tell the story like this ‘see- God is like the judge- he will defend you’.
Actually Jesus is saying ‘God is not like the judge’.
This judge acted- not out of what was right- but out of pressure- you know- the lobbyist wins.
But God- he does what’s right.
I was thinking about my governor when this verse ‘speedily’ dropped into my head.
During one of the debates Rick Perry used an example- I forget what the whole thing was about- but he said ‘such and such will happen- at the speed of light- literally’.
I think he was talking about Iran coming into Iraq and having more dominance in the region [which by the way he was right about].
But- when you use an example that has ‘the speed of light’ in it- well- it’s usually Figuratively- which just happens to be the opposite of literally- you know- a minor detail.
Okay- I can hear my Jersey friends now ‘wow John- you got one heck of a governor in the Lone Star state’.
Yeah- what can I say?
Maybe this ‘didn’t I see Christie on the boardwalk the other day’?
Let’s let bygones be bygones- deal?
Our timing- what we think is speedily- is not the same time line of God.
There are many texts in the bible that talk about the ‘end of the world’ and ‘the coming of Christ’ and it says it will happen fast.
These verses were penned 2 thousand years ago.
[Actually this is a pretty in depth study- how the church has handled the verses that deal with the End Times.
We call this Eschatology.
There are different views on this- Futuristic- Historical- Preterist.
This entire teaching is worth doing- I have done some over the years.
In a nutshell- some of these verses say ‘at the end of the age’ not ‘world’.
In the Greek language- which the New Testament was written in- the word used is age.
So- they are not always saying ‘the world will end soon’.
But ‘the age’.
In context- the old age [dispensation] of law- the Old Covenant.
And the New age- the age of Grace- has come.
This debate does have some [lots?] of merit to it- and it ‘solves’ some of the complaints from the critics of Christianity who say ‘Jesus was wrong when he said the end of the world would happen soon’.
In the above context- it did happen soon- see?]
So- we all have requests- we are in a way like the woman going to the judge.
Ask- Knock- don’t quit.
Jesus said ‘men ought always to pray and not to faint’.
Pope John Paul said ‘prayer is strength for the weak’.
James said ‘the continual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much’.
Yeah- whatever the request is- the good judge will do what’s best- not because you’re bugging him nonstop- but because it’s right.
1872- TEXAS ‘HOLD-ER’ [Texas Hold-em is a popular scratch off down here in Skynard land]
I had an interesting day on Facebook yesterday.
I kinda hung out for most of the day- reading my friends sites and all.
Being I’ve been living in Texas for the past 32 years- to me it’s neat to see all the old pics from my hometown area.
Some of my friends post classic/current pictures of my old stomping grounds- that’s so cool.
As I perused the landscape- I also noticed something- many of my friends get lots of comments.
At first this seemed like a good thing- but as the day wore on- and I watched the news [Holder story- in a sec] I began letting ole slew foot in the door.
‘Yeah- why do they get so many comments- and I get none’?
‘Wait John- don’t go down that road- you know where it leads’.
Okay- I resisted ‘resist the devil and he will flee from you’ [James].
Yet- the more comments I saw- the worse it got.
‘John- focus on the word- find a short- 2 or 3 word verse that you can fixate your mind on’
‘Love those that treat you wrong- don’t get even- don’t be jealous’.
I mean- there are so many to choose from- plus- they sound real good- but I can’t seem to ‘get satisfaction’ by focusing on them.
I also saw lots of old Rock pics and stuff- yeah- even ran across that old Stones tune ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ I know what you mean Mick.
So- after a while- I found a short- 3-4 word phrase that seemed to do the trick- but it came from the Facebook site itself.
REPORT/BLOCK THIS PERSON
Oh yeah- sweet- so sweet.
Easy to remember- and it feels sooo good!
Okay- I kid.
Now- what actually did get me riled up a bit?
As a news watcher- I flip the channels nonstop.
I watch em all.
So- as I’m resisting the jealousy thing- I see that Eric Holder came to Texas to address the NAACP.
They showed a few short clips of the speech.
He has sued our state multiple time- he just sued Corpus Christi last week [few posts back].
So as he’s giving the speech- he criticizes the new voter ID law.
He even mocks good ole Texas.
You know- Skynard said ‘southern man don’t need him around anyhow- in Birmingham we love the govn’r’ yeah- he stuck it to old Neil Young.
So Holder says that the new law would permit you to vote if you showed a pictured gun permit- but you could not use a student ID.
Yeah- you preach it Holder!
Doesn’t that sound like Texas is filled with a bunch of A holes?
Boy did they roar in the crowd.
He then went on and said the law- which requires an ID [I’m pretty sure you can get one for free if you don’t have the money?] is a POLL TAX.
He said we were all racists.
This is our attorney general.
‘John- be honest- it’s because he’s Black- isn’t it’?
No- that’s only about 5 % of it [okay- I kid once more].
The truth be told- this is indeed playing the race card- and for the chief officer of the justice Dept. to be playing this card- well- that’s bad.
I mean why would a gun permit do the trick- yet a student ID wont?
In Texas- many students [thousands- 10’s of thousands?] are not U.S. citizens.
It’s not against the law for a non citizen to have a Texas student idea.
Yet- you can’t get a gun permit without an extensive background check.
If you have a permit- you are a citizen.
Now- Holder knows this- so what he did was pure politics- he appealed to the racist instinct in all men- yes even in Black men- and he played the race card.
This is shameful- it is racist- and the man needs to resign his job- now.
Okay- see- now I’m struggling again- just like the comment thing ‘love your enemies- pray for those who do you wrong’.
Yeah- I know.
But BLOCK THIS PERSON.
It just feels so much better.
I have been reading/meditating on it the last couple of days.
The Psalm recounts the story of God meeting the needs of his people when they came out of Egypt and were in the wilderness- for 40 years.
You find the story in the book of Exodus.
During this 40 year journey- which in reality was a couple of day journey- but they wandered in circles for 40 years because they would not believe the promise God made to them.
So- during this time they complained- lots.
‘we will starve out here- we have no bread- no water- no meat’.
And time after time God would do a miracle and give them what they needed.
In the Psalm we read that he gave them bread from heaven- it was called MANNA- the word means ‘what is it’.
It was called Angels food.
It was a little wafer type thing [Catholic friends- think Host] and in the morning when they got up it was on the ground- every day- for 40 years.
They wanted meat- they started complaining about the Manna ‘Manna every day- cant we change the menu up Moses’.
So God sent them meat- he caused a strong wind to blow and tons of Quail blew in from off shore- they had meat ‘until it came out their nose’- yeah- this is a quote from the bible.
So- God did provide for them- yet they still complained.
Years ago when reading the story I came across a verse I liked [almost as much as BLOCK THIS PERSON].
It said Moses kept the ordinances in the wilderness for 40 years.
Think about that.
After God parted the Red Sea- they spent 40 years wasting time.
They were supposed to go right into the promised land [Cancan- Israel] but because of their whining- it took 40 years to make the 3 day trip.
Yet- God gave them ordinances- religious type rituals that he wanted them to keep- Passover- etc.
And Moses kept observing them- even though the promise was so far away.
Yeah- that’s the tough part if you will- what divides the men from the boys.
It’s not your talent [or how many darn comments you get] or your good looks.
No- at the end of the day- can you keep the ‘ordinances in the wilderness’.
Can you do what needs to be done- even when all hope seems gone.
Yeah- that’s the key.
So- as I end this post- I too have a choice.
Will I think ‘happy thoughts’?
Nah- the BLOCK THIS PERSON still seems to give me that extra umph- one more night with the frogs will have to do [one of the 10 plagues- it’s a long story for another day].
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.
1866- MARY- THE MOTHER OF GOD- WHAT DID SHE SAY? [or- I am the Egg Man]
As we close the week- lets recap a few highlights.
Of course the SCOTUS ruling was the biggest news- and we also had congress vote- and pass- the contempt of congress charge against Holder.
But there were a few other ‘lesser’ stories that in a slower news week would have gotten more attention.
The enemy of all conservatives- yes- the peanut farmer from Georgia- Jimmy Carter- got some heat over his criticism of Obama.
What did he say?
He made some comments about our Drone war tactics- and said there is no doubt that the U.S. is violating human rights.
The drone planes are remote controlled unmanned planes- Bush was the first to ‘arm’ them- and Obama followed his lead.
We used to use them as surveillance planes- but when we stuck bombs on them we started using them to go after the enemy.
Being we don’t have pilots in the planes- we are basically doing our best to hit the target by remote control- and we often kill civilians in these strikes.
We are doing this in Yemen and Pakistan as I speak.
So- after years of killing lots of the wrong folk- these people are outright pissed off.
In Pakistan- there is some lawyer representing the families of the victims- and they have been saving the debris from the bombs- writing down the serial numbers and all- and using them for evidence on some future court case against the U.S.
We recently found out [thru leaks?] That the way the U.S. counts the amount of terrorists that are killed in the strikes is ‘every adult male killed in the vicinity is considered to be a terrorist’.
Yup- that’s the rule.
So if we accidently kill- let’s say 15 men- and even if the remote control operator messed up- and hit the wrong spot- we count this as ‘15 bad guys dead’.
Geez- with scoring like this- how can you lose?
So- Carter came out and said this type of killing is wrong.
Was he right?
Of course he was- we have killed a lot of women and kids- that’s wrong- in everyone’s book.
Then why don’t we stop it?
The newly elected president of Egypt- the Muslim Brotherhood guy- he has already given signs to Iran that he wants to form some sort of an alliance with them.
He has also told the U.S. that he wants us to turn over the Blind Sheik.
If you remember- years before 911- we had another attempted bombing of the World Trade Towers.
They traced the original plot to some Muslim radical who was based in New Jersey.
I remember the case because as I watched the story- the guy had his office/mosque set up right on a storefront street- and when I saw the spot- I recognized the street as one of the places I walked passed as a kid [I think one time I illegally rode my dirt bike right passed the area- you know- one of those late night street rides when the cops chase you].
So- the new Egyptian president wants the guy released and sent back to Egypt.
And we have hailed this election as a great thing- we forced a former leader out- who we were actually allies with- and we [Obama] publicly supported the Brotherhood.
This is sad.
And last but not least- I told you the other day that Holder sued Florida [man- he needs to stop suing cities/states- this guy is out of control].
He sued the Repub governor- Rick Scott- because Scott ‘purged’ the voter rolls of non citizens.
Yeah- Scott actually identified real non citizens who were on the roles- and he tried to take them off.
It is against the law to vote if you’re not a citizen.
Why the suit?
Holder believes that the states that are doing this are really trying to hurt the Dems by going after minorities.
Okay- but say if we know- for a fact- that the people he’s removing are only non citizens- would that be okay?
According to Holder- no.
Yes- Holder said the state does not have the right to remove NON CITIZENS from the rolls- because it is within 90 days of an election- and darn it- those non citizens have rights too!
So- the case went to a federal judge- and the judge said- in so many words ‘are you nuts man- it’s against the law for non citizens to vote. The state and governor can actually be held liable if they don’t purge the voter rolls- of course Scott can do this- it’s required by law’.
I mean even the judge- a Dem appointed judge- thought Holder must be delusional – because they were upholding federal law.
As a side note- Holder has also sued some Egg farm.
Because he said they were requiring too much proof- from non citizens- to prove they were not illegal’s.
Yes- he sued this private business- not because they were requiring the proof from citizens- but from non citizens.
Why did the egg company do this?
If you get caught hiring an illegal- you pay a fine or go to jail.
They just raided a pizza place here in Corpus for this.
So- if the Egg man actually got caught hiring an illegal- then off to jail he goes.
So- he simply tried to make sure that the people he was hiring were in fact citizens- Holder sued him for this.
These are the things that have really riled up some on the other side.
I mean who cares if your Black, White or Green- this guy is absolutely off his rocker.
Okay- lets end with a bible thing here.
I mentioned the other day that I read some chapters about John the Baptist this week.
One of the big [and long] chapters was Luke 1.
In the chapter we read about the angel Gabriel appearing to both Mary- the Mother of Jesus- and Elisabeth- Mary’s cousin.
Elisabeth and her husband Zacharias were older folk and were never able to have a baby.
Then one day God does a miracle and Elisabeth gets pregnant and has John the Baptist.
The miracle was not the same as when Mary gets pregnant- but the miracle was they were older now- past the normal time to have kids.
Mary is told about this and when she gets pregnant with Jesus she visits Elisabeth and when Mary- who is carrying Jesus in her womb- sees Elisabeth- who is pregnant with John- the bible says the ‘baby leaped in her womb’.
It was John the Baptists purpose in life to be the fore runner of Jesus.
And even before he was born- he still responded this way as Christ showed up in the womb of Mary.
When the angel reveals to Mary that she will bare Christ- she bursts into this prayer/proclamation of praise.
Scholars call this Mary’s Magnificat [her magnifying of God].
If you have time- read this prayer in Luke one.
It does not sound like the prayer of some humble- quiet little lady.
It’s more like a prophetic blast of Gods rule.
Mary says things like ‘He hath put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree’ ‘He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich hath he sent away empty’.
I mean these are some of the same themes we see in the teachings of Christ.
As I write and blog about politics- I do try to be fair.
I know it must have been hard these last few months for my friends on the left side of the aisle.
Trust me- about a year or 2 ago my friends on the right went thru the same thing.
My ‘job’ is to not simply pick a side- and then defend that side at all costs.
I think that’s the mistake many in the church have made.
We have really lost our prophetic voice as the people of God.
The modern Evangelical church [and the televangelist world] has lost the true social justice message of the church.
They [we] have traded that message in for one of self help- how to become wealthy- how to be happier- how to have a better life.
We have lost the prophetic voice of the church- the one that speaks out against the murder of the innocents [drones] or the lying about killing terrorists- just because we count ‘all adults in the area’ as the enemy.
Yes- the ‘church’ is supposed to have a voice for the defenseless in society.
No- we are too busy having an American party.
Beware- Mary said ‘the high he will bring down- the rich he hath sent away empty- the famous/proud will be bring low’.
I can’t think of a better description of the church today- can you?
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.
1861- THE 40 YEAR REUNION
Let’s recap the week’s news.
The lines are drawn- the pres has asserted Executive Privilege- for the first time.
And Pelosi has come out and accused the Repubs of outright racism.
Chris Matthews- the most dangerous man alive [sorry Ken Shamrock] has also jumped on the bandwagon.
He had on 2 Black Dems and said those who want Holder to release the documents on fast and Furious are racists.
The other week Matthews was defending the right of Asian Americans to abort their baby girls because they preferred a boy.
Yes- he took the other side when the Repubs wanted to outlaw sex selection abortions.
Now- he claimed he was not for it- but argued against the passage of the law- because he said it was only a problem in the Asian community.
So- he thought ‘why outlaw it- only Asian girls are dying’.
This is the same guy who sees racism in the Holder affair.
About a month ago I said to myself ‘let’s see how long it will be before the media begin re running the Watergate movie nonstop’.
To my surprise- not only are they running the movie- but all the major networks have come out in full regalia- ‘celebrating’ the 40th anniversary of Watergate.
I also read an article the other day- some Texas professor wrote Holder- demanding the release of the other documents from Watergate.
Holder responded in a way that sounded like ‘there is no longer any good reason to continue the cover up of Watergate- by golly- the truth must show!’
Let’s see- did we celebrate the 20th– 30th anniversary?
Do you normally celebrate the 40th anniversary- of anything?
Your normally have a big bash on the 25th– and 50th.
But the media have actual real time scandals- the cover up of the murder of 300 hundred Mexican citizens- and at least one border patrol agent.
The Solyndra scandal that revealed that the presidents own men [All the Presidents men?] actually told him- in a memo- that what he was about to do looked illegal.
This was said- in a memo- by his own men.
What he did was changed the loan to Solyndra- in order for his top fundraiser- who put money in the company- to get paid back first if the company went bust.
This loan change was not done for any other person/company- only for the loan that his top fundraiser made.
When this was first revealed- a mainline news reporter [Sharyl Atkinson] who broke the story said it looked like this might bring the presidency down.
This was all revealed on a Friday- after months of denying any involvement in the scandal.
For it to be revealed that your own people thought what you did was illegal [not just knowing about an illegal act- Wateragte- but actually doing it!] and you did it anyway.
And you did it for your friend- against the actual law that regulates the loan- which said you can’t do this.
Well- even a mainline reporter thought it as bad- or worse than Watergate.
What happened John- Nothing.
The media simply kept silent.
Now- in the current scandal- you know- the ‘race haters’
In this scandal- when congress asked the Justice Dept. if they had any knowledge about the Fast and Furious program- they sent a letter to congress denying involvement/knowledge.
This was the beginning of 2011.
Now- when you go on record like that- the investigating team usually drops the case- because you would be lying to congress at that point.
Holder left the letter out there for most of the year- claiming they had no knowledge of the program.
When congress continued digging- Holder pulled the letter back.
Because they did indeed know about the program- this in itself is enough for a resignation- this in itself is a Watergate.
Congress just tried Roger Clemens- twice- for lying to congress.
I’m glad he got off- they found him not guilty.
Did he lie John- and use steroids?
But for this crew to be trying people for lying- well that’s laughable.
So- Holder basically already admitted that he lied- whether he knew it or not at the time we don’t know- but we do know they said- for around 9 months ‘we had no knowledge of the program’.
Then he pulled the letter back.
At the least- we need to know what changed- who was lying- why?
The parents of the dead agent- Terry- went on the news this week- they too think Holder and Obama are covering up- by all accounts- it does look like they are covering up.
Are the parents racists?
According to Pelosi and MSNBC- yes.
We have very real scandals- things that rise- easily- to the level of Watergate.
Watergate was the cover up of a botched break in of a political office in a hotel- the name of the hotel was Watergate.
The cover up of fast and furious involves the murder of at least 300 Mexican citizens [the Mexican govt. by the way does not see this as a joke- they are outraged over this].
And the murder of an American law enforcement officer.
The Solyndra scandal was presidential involvement [not just knowledge!] to change a loan- illegally- even said to be illegal by the president’s own people- in writing!
He changed the law so his number one fundraiser would not loose money- and he denied it- until he was caught.
These lies- these scandals- they outrank Watergate- I said it at the time- but the media tried their hardest to make these things look like nothing.
I’ll end with one last ‘lie’.
This week I read some of the Leaks that are believed to have come from this White House.
These are the leaks of all the classified intelligence info that outed Israel- got the Pakistani doctor put in prison for 35 years- you know- no big deal.
When I looked at the leaks- I mean they were laughable in the way they were made to portray the president in a favorable light.
Most leaks are simply info coming out- lots of time from good men who see wrong things and are trying to expose the corruption.
We call these people Whistle Blowers.
But as I reread some of the recent leaks- I mean they are saying things like ‘As the president sat there in his chair- debating on which terrorist to kill next- he contemplated his recent study of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas- and he acted with righteous indignation’.
St. Thomas and Augustine.
I mean these are 2 of my favorite Catholic scholars.
Augustine- the 4/5th century Bishop of North Africa- and Thomas- the great 13th century Doctor Angelicas [Angelic Doctor].
Yes- these are some big players in Theology and Philosophy.
So why have the media reported that the pres used them in his war strategy?
They are also famous for the development of the Just war Theory.
Yeah- people for centuries have appealed to these great thinkers in their justification for war.
But Obama- how does he find the time to read these guys?
I mean- unless their names are on the golf balls [he just played his 100th round!]
I don’t see him having time to read them.
So why mention it?
Because he fumbled the ball with our Catholic friends [who just began a 2 week prayer and fast against the repression of religious liberty- because of the presidents demands that they provide birth control thru their institutions].
And he needs to make amends- so lo and behold- he loves reading the Catholic scholars!
If you put all this together- the ongoing scandals- not just one.
The actual lies- the ones they have been caught in- on paper.
I mean even a mainline reporter could not believe that the revealing of this was ‘no big deal’.
And now- the fact that the pres came out the other day and addressed the nation ‘me and my Whitehouse have not released any CLASSIFIED information’.
‘It’s an insult to think this’.
Then- one week later- on Friday- they sent a letter to congress- declassifying the drone war
They were basically saying ‘yeah- we were behind the releasing of all the info- it’s just we ‘declassified it’ first’.
He is going to say when he released the info- his office first ‘declassified it’.
But when he addressed you- and me- he was outraged- he made it sound like he was not aware of the leaks.
And 99 % of the public took it this way.
Look- when you get caught doing this- over and over and over- I mean this is not a one time affair.
Then it does make the public wonder about everything else.
And when the public asks for answers- and you respond by playing the race card- then it’s time for some people to resign.
Holder needs to go.
Whoever else has lied about their involvement also needs to go.
And if Nixon had to go because he lied about his knowledge about a 2 bit break in- then what about the possible cover up of your knowledge about the murder of a U.S. border patrol agent and at least 300 Mexican men, women and children.
But wait- I forgot- we don’t have time to cover these present scandals- no- we are covering the golden [or brass?] 40th year anniversary of Watergate.
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.
1860- POLITICS OR RELIGION?
I wasn’t sure how to close up this week- I know how much you guys like it when I do politics! [note- every now and then I drop a joke or 2 in- I realized once that everybody does not know when it’s a joke- but if you have to say each time ‘here I kid’ it kinda ruins the thing].
I did go to the mission yesterday- and Dirk- my homeless friend that I gave a lecture to on the ‘proofs for the existence of God’ [he was kind of going off the other day on how everyone believes what they hear- that there is no real way to know who is right- so I covered the history of apologetics and the proofs for the existence of God- I kinda blasted the guys for about 15 minutes- and wasn’t sure they were following].
So when I see Dirk- the first thing he shows me is this book on Bertrand Russell- the famous British philosopher- I wrote about him when I was doing the study on philosophy.
Dirk was kind of repentant- he must of took my ‘speech’ to heart- and he told me he was going to put more of an effort into researching stuff.
Now- it was a surprise to see my homeless buddy running around with a Russell book- but I got the hint that he did get something from my talk and wanted me to know he was trying.
By the way- being he showed me the book- I encouraged him to read it- but had to let Dirk know that Russell was a very influential 20th century British philosopher- he was famous because he was a public protestor against the use of nuclear weapons.
But in the field of thought he became an Agnostic.
He was raised as a believer- but at a young age he read a book from another famous thinker- John Stuart Mill.
Mill wrote about what we have been discussing these last few days- the law of Cause and Effect- and how things came into being.
Mill said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not God? Who caused God?’
Now- Mill wasn’t the first thinker to pose the question- but Russell became influenced by this idea and espoused it for the rest of his life.
Though both of these men were smart- they stumbled over this misconception.
The law of Cause and Effect [also referred to as causality] does not say EVERYTHING has a cause.
It states that all EFFECTS have a cause.
In essence- it’s within the realm of logic to espouse an infinite- causeless being.
Now- some might say this is ‘illogical’ but using the laws of logic [like we covered the last few days].
In the end- the only logical explanation for all things is an infinite being.
Anyway- don’t want to re hash the whole thing again- just thought it interesting that Dirk was reading Russell’s book.
Even though there are a lot of news events that could be covered today- lets finish with a few ‘religious’ things.
I have a verse here [about 200!] hanging on my wall- it’s from Isaiah [I think? I write them down and hang them up- but I don’t write the reference].
It says ‘do these things- and when others read about them- this will be a witness to them’.
There are others along this line that I have come across these last few years.
I started working with the homeless in 1992- with guys that were on drugs- ex-cons- before that.
I never told any of these stories until a few years back.
I started the blog in 2006- Facebook a couple of years later.
I felt that it was part of the ‘next step’- that is doing ministry- that the Lord wanted me to get into.
So- even though I did not even have email until 2006- or even get online until that time- I did my best to put together the blog [amateurish as it is] and start the process.
Now- over the years- as a student of religion, philosophy, ecclesiology [church]- I have written a lot about what it means to ‘do church’ or ‘be church’.
In Christian circles this has been hotly debated in recent years.
Many in the House Church movement have written- and debated with those who are more into the Traditional type churches.
There are many Protestants who have all types of ways they see ‘church’.
In its most basic form- the best definition that I have been able to come up with- is Church is a community.
It’s a worldwide community of those who confess Christ [the universal church].
And it’s a local community of those who follow him.
If you read the gospels- Jesus and his disciples are a good picture of the church.
Now- many will say ‘No John- the church was not formed until Acts chapter 2’.
Okay- I hear that.
I see the whole thing.
But- as community- it’s a mistake- in my view- to dismiss the gospels as ‘pre church’.
I don’t want to get into a theological debate- because I’m not even sure how many are following right now.
But- the point is- if we actually read the things that Jesus told us to do [sounds simple enough].
We would end up doing a lot of the things that most of us call ‘prison ministry’ or ‘street ministry’ or ‘outreach ministry’.
In actuality- these things are a main function of being a community.
So- over the years- because many of us associate church with the meeting [or the building]. We have a tendency to shift the focus from community- to the corporate entity.
Years ago I filed the corporation papers for our ‘church’.
Instead of paying a lawyer- I got a self help book- ‘how to incorporate your church’ and filed.
It was no big deal.
But I realized how we confuse the actual corporate laws of a state- they have ways they recognize what they call ‘a local church’.
And what the bible actually teaches.
In the bible- the church is a community of people- much like Jesus and the disciples going thru the towns- preaching- healing- helping others.
Yet- much of the focus of modern ‘church’ is the corporation ‘how much do we need this month? How many members do we need each month to tithe- and cover the vision of the church’.
Much of the focus- and effort- is spent on raising money for the corporation.
People are ‘challenged’ to sacrifice for Gods work- but the challenge is often seen thru the lens of ‘give till it hurts’.
Look- I’m not against giving- I give lots of money away.
But when you have the majority of church goers- who mean well- when they begin seeing their sacrifice mainly thru a paradigm of giving more money to a corporation- then this blinds them to the majority of teaching in the New Testament that calls us into the world- in real ways- to be the ‘actors’ [ones who act- function- not just give money so others can act/function on our behalf].
That is- the primary responsibility of the believer is not simply to go to church on Sunday [though this is a good thing].
Or to tithe to the ‘church’.
But to be active in helping one another- to be giving our lives away for other people.
This is the heart of the whole New Testament.
So- my purpose in telling these stories the last few years was simply to show one example [out of many- there are many Christians who do see the stuff I just showed you] So these things could be ‘the wisdom’ that the example of people seeing what it means to ‘be church’ might lead others to a ‘more better way’ [Hebrews.]
So- I’ll end the week with the example of my homeless buddy reading the writings of a 20th century British philosopher.
The politics will have to wait- yeah- I know your sad.