Thursday, March 31, 2011

[1631] ALL IN ALL IT’S JUST ANOTHER BRICK [OR HOLE?] IN THE WALL- Yesterday the president gave an outline of his future plans on energy- lots of the same stuff, trying to use clean sources of fuel- says he really is a big oil type guy- though his critics deny it. He even brought up a familiar refrain from the campaign trail- that the oil companies already have huge land leases that they ‘refuse’ to drill on. Is this really true? Yes and no. This argument became popular during the campaign as an ideological defense [not practical truth] against the conservative ‘drill baby drill’ mantra. The argument says the oil companies don’t really need ANWAR or more off shore drilling permits- that they have all the drilling spots they need- they just won’t use it! I have a died in the wool liberal friend who I engage with every so often- as a middle of the road independent I often see/take up different sides. One day this person was using this argument- saying the people who say Obama is not for oil drilling are all liars- because the companies secretly refuse to drill on all the land the govt. has already given to them. I asked the person why they think the companies- who in their opinion are all ‘b-stards’ wont drill. The person really had no answer- except that they felt they did it on purpose to get Obama. I said these companies- according to your view- care nothing at all about anything but profits [maybe so] if they really could care less about anything else but profits- then why are they cutting their own throats by not making money on land that you say has all this oil? The reality is the leases that Obama is speaking about are areas where most of the oil experts think really has no oil- if they thought the land was rich in oil- they would drill it. This argument shows you how even though it seems reasonable to come to the obvious conclusion- yet because you see the opposing side as all ‘b-stards’ you can’t even think clearly. This same person has told me that those who oppose the president’s health care reform are also racists- that the only logical conclusion to the opposition is racism- this theme is often promoted on MSNBC. I explained my story to the person. After I retired from the fire dept. I lost my insurance- it would have cost me around $6-700 a month to keep it- I couldn’t afford the darn thing to be honest. So as things go in life- right after my warranty was up- things started to break. I mean the month I dropped my insurance. I had various back injuries from doing my type of work but these would be covered under the workman’s comp. stuff- but I had a few other things that I needed to go to a doctor for- one trip costs around $150.00 and if you have to keep going back to renew prescription meds- then that’s a lot. So instead I opted for ‘Ojohna-care’- I went on-line- typed in the name of the med I’m supposed to be on and found some non- prescription stuff. It still costs money- but it’s all I can really do- honestly. Doing it like this is not recommended- you don’t see a doctor who monitors stuff- but you do what you got to do. Now- as someone who has actually paid for insurance my whole life- who now pays out of pocket for my own health care- the way Obama care has affected my family is I will now be paying an extra $700- 1000 dollars a year to cover other peoples insurance. My son in-law- who owns his own carpet laying business will also pay the fines [it’s too much to get full coverage- the fines are the only real option] one of my daughters [or actually 3- depending on the school situation] will also pay the fines. So all in all my family is out an extra 4 thousand or so a year- without getting coverage for ourselves. At the same time the person I was explaining this to- who accused us all of being racists because we didn’t support the plan- this person has never once paid for insurance- they have had free coverage and have also used Medicaid and Medicare. So in the real world- this person’s only experience is seen thru other people paying for their insurance- they never really saw the reality of a situation like mine- real people who because of real fines will have less real money to buy their own ins/medicine. Now- it would be nice if the person who was getting the free coverage at my expense- while I’m actually needing it worse than them- it would be nice for them to appreciate my family taking up the extra cost for them- but instead this person sees me as a racist- because to them that’s the only real reason why someone would be against Obama care. Yesterday I put up a shelf- I went thru the procedure of finding the stud in the wall to hammer the nail into. I figured I would do the free style thing first- you know try and simply guess. One here- one there- no results. Okay- I’ll do the 1 nail every inch- still nothing! Geez- does the wall have studs or what? So after putting quite a large amount of nail holes in the wall- I finally hit oil- I mean sure- it looked like I left the front door open and some local gang did a drive by shooting- but dang it- I found that darn stud! As our country goes thru real rough times- times where we demonize the other side because we can’t see things clearly- let’s try and be open to listening to both sides. We hear the argument that the oil people don’t want to drill because they simply want to bring the president down- they hate Black people. The fact is they don’t want to be drilling for nonexistent studs in the wall- doing stuff that they know won’t work. Many people oppose Obama care because it really affects them- in a very negative way. And when others who are getting insurance for free- at my expense- call me and my kids racists because we oppose it- well it’s makes me want to go cool off somewhere, a relaxing way to get my mind off the whole thing- I know what, let me go try and hang another shelf.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

[1630] EPISTEMOLOGY- Lets do a little more on how we learn- know stuff. The actual ‘study’ of how we know things is called Epistemology. Today’s popular movement is called Post Modernism- a challenge to the classical idea of Modernism. The classical way of looking at knowledge said there are things that are ‘really true’ and things that are not- this is called Objective Truth. The Post Moderns say words are limited [true to a degree] and because words are simply vehicles that transmit ideas that are not really ‘true’ in the classical sense, then it is wrong for one group [like Christians] to say to another group [non- Christians] that Jesus is the Way- Truth and Life [Johns gospel]. So the battle lines are drawn. It should be noted that a growing number of believers are describing themselves as Post Modern and they argue that it is possible to be Christian and Post Modern at the same time. Okay- as more of the classical type- I believe it is possible to get to objective truth- that the pursuit of what’s true is not a vain pursuit- and yes- though we are all limited in our understanding, yet to even have this conversation requires an element of Absolute Truth. If the Post Modernist says ‘words have no objective truth- only relative truth- they only convey what the hearer decides they convey’ then I can say ‘Oh- so if I take your words to mean there is such a thing as objective truth- that’s okay’? O know you idiot- you’re not hearing what I’m saying! So you see that the Post modernist needs his words to mean something- to convey a specific thing to the hearer- if the hearer can make the words mean whatever he wants- then you can’t even engage in the discussion- got it? So anyway- as I’m thinking about scrapping my Islam course [and just teaching it from stuff I learned myself- in the immortal words of defense secy. Bob Gates ‘on the fly’] I do want to utilize whatever objective truth I can pick up along the way- while at the same time realizing all people have their own biases and we need to listen with a careful skepticism. I ordered a course on Physics a while back- good course- but the instructor- though smart- made a classic mistake in Logic as he taught the course. He often said ‘the universe was created BY CHANCE’. Now- as a purely grammatical- logical argument- this incorrect [a fallacy]. Why? What he really means to say is ‘there are unknown causes in the universe that created the effect of existence- we do not know what these causes are- but we believe that thru a series of actions- which have no particular direction [chance] these unknown causes have caused the effect of the universe’. Okay- I don’t want to be nitpicky- but when I hear an intelligent person say ‘everything was made BY CHANCE’ and for him to get away with this without a rigorous challenge- then the Christian thinker has failed in his task to challenge the skeptic on his own terms- to show that even though the person may be an expert in his field [Physics] yet this does not mean he can get away with fallacious arguments- arguments that are invalid from the get go. So as we progress over the coming weeks/months on the various fields of study- we want to be open to learn from others who have specialized in their particular fields of study- we want to be open minded enough to learn from people who reject the faith- yes atheists can teach us things- there are areas of knowledge that all people have that can benefit the rest of us. And we want to weigh all things that we hear- we all make mistakes- and are susceptible to error. Just because my Physics ‘teacher’ screwed up in a classic way- a way that most apologists recognize right off the bat- I mean you have to be an amateur ‘arguer’ of truth to make this type of mistake- yet I didn’t reject the entire course- I still learned valuable insights from the man. So I think this is the best approach to take- listen to all sides of a matter- doubt the things that seem a little off- do some research- check into it yourself- and at the end of the day let a variety of sources be your pool of knowledge- don’t just rely on one source. Proverbs says ‘In the multitude of counselors there is safety’. Be sure you’re listening/hearing from the multitude [broad range of thought and learning] because often times single sources can be right in one area- and off in another.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

[1629] MUSLIM IN AMERICA- THE PRESIDENTS SPEECH AND OTHER MUSINGS. Last night the president finally spoke to the nation in defense of our military action in Libya. He made the case that there are times when the U.S. can/should act if we feel we can avert a humanitarian disaster- he also said we can’t always intervene in every conflict. I guess for the most part this makes some sense- it’s just the way he handled it [going on vacation- congress in recess]. There are still lots of questions to be asked/answered. Today the rebels are on the outskirts of a western city that is ‘pro Gadhafi’. The city is called Sirte and like other cities in the west they favor Gadhafi more so than the rebels. The question is; how do we justify the bombing of Gadhafi’s military- in order to protect civilians- while the rebels are getting ready to overthrow a civilian population- with force- against the majority of the will of the people? We have indeed enabled the rebels to advance this far west, and we are basically on the side of the rebels- in this case- against the populace. The other night I watched a CNN special on Muslim discrimination in America- most of you who read my posts [blog] know I try and take the more moderate position of not branding all Muslims as radical. I do think there are times when Muslims are discriminated against wrongfully because of their faith. Yet at the same time the media often show their bias. The show did a good job at revealing how Muslims face discrimination in America- the host- Soledad O’Brien- kind of showed the ‘ignorant’ Christians versus the moderate Muslims. The town was Murphysboro Tenn. [yes- they picked a spot that would be a little more redneck than usual] and they interviewed a few American Muslim women whose sole experience of Islam comes from an American perspective. These women, as sympathetic as their causes are- do not even begin to breech the absolute discrimination and oppression that many Muslim women experience around the globe on a daily basis- it was just unfair for CNN to portray Muslim women as victims of Christian discrimination while overlooking the real problem- expressed by many women who have chosen to speak out- against the oppression women face when living in countries that have Sharia law as the law of the land. As I continue to teach the study on Islam [so far have only done 1 post on it] I want to try and approach the strained relationship that exists between Western society and Islam- yet I don’t want to be an apologist for Islam. I’m currently going thru a course on Islam that is taught by the official govt. teacher on the subject. I believe he was sitting in the second row of the president’s speech last night. Over the years I have studied on lots of subjects- years of utilizing the public library system, buying university level books [not pop culture Christian stuff on how to ‘get what you want’] and I have also ordered courses [C.D. and book] from the top professors of the universities of the world. These course are not cheap- yet they are cheaper than actually getting credits for the courses [you can take the same courses as extension courses from the universities and get credit- but that’s way too expensive- especially if done thru the elite universities- Harvard, etc.] So instead I simply purchase the courses and do them on my own. Now- the reason I say this is to explain a ‘funny thing’ that happened on my study of Islam. When I first ordered the course I noticed the ratings were not that great. Most courses are rated in the 80-90 percentile- from others who have done the course- this one was in the 60’s. I hesitated to get it- but the other courses that dealt with Islam also dealt with other religions- and I didn’t want to do an entire comparative religion study at this time. So these courses are taught by the top tier professors in the world [these professors are peer reviewed and deemed to be in the top 10 %]. This one on Islam is taught by the person who teaches Islam to the incoming govt. employees under president Obama. As I’m going thru the course- there are times where I feel like the teacher is too defensive of Islam- sort of like the CNN special. At one point the professor defends Muhammad as a religious leader who freed women from oppression and instituted an open and liberal society for all people- especially women. Geez- stuff like this is very problematic- I know enough about the current world nations that have Islam as the official religion of the nation- these nations are without a doubt very oppressive to women. Like many things in life- we all try and do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt- and as someone who has disagreed with the president and been openly critical of him- yet I try not to be so biased that I find fault with everything he does. The media has far left defenders- who never find anything wrong with the man- and far right critics who never find anything right. At this time- the revolts in North Africa and the Middle East are really getting out of hand- the Christians in Egypt- an ancient Christian church [Coptic] have lived there since the early days of Christianity- they have just voted in Egypt to recognize Sharia law as the official law of the land- this referendum was passed by 70 % of the population- and the Muslim Brotherhood showed their organizational abilities by gaining a majority of the vote for the things they wanted. So now the Christians in Egypt might face the same fate as those in Pakistan- being put to death for blaspheming Islam [which often means witnessing for Christ]. The rebels who we are fighting for in Libya are much more radical than Gadhafi- yes Gadhafi was/is a madman- yet the rebels have more Al Qaeda influence than Gadhafi- they have been enemies in Libya for years. Do we really want our people dying for the Rebels? There are still lots of questions to be answered- I am uncomfortable that the course I’m going thru on Islam is so skewed to the point of defending Islam as a great liberator of women and their rights- I was even more troubled to have seen ‘my instructor’ sitting in the 2nd row at the president’s speech.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

[1628] WHAT A MESS! Okay, it’s time to talk. First- as you know we have been bombing Libya for a few days now- what started as a ‘no fly zone’ is now being called ‘Kinetic military action’ [war]. Of course the left and the right are doing their best to simply win their side of the argument- the left wing media are just as bad as the right- don’t let anyone fool you. What do I mean? What’s the ‘real’ story behind our action? The real story is we really have no control over what’s happening in the Arab world right now. These last few days have seen other major developments- bad stuff. In Egypt the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have indeed formed a sort of coalition and they passed a referendum that the majority of the original Democratic protestors did not want. There have also been reports of the military brutally repressing former protestors. In Yemen and Syria and Bahrain things are really getting out of hand. Many leaders have chosen to simply shoot the protestors- outright. In Libya we had a situation where Gadhafi was on the outskirts of Benghazi and he was sending out warnings ‘flee the city- once we take it we will show no mercy’ now- the president and the media have said he was threatening to carry out a genocide and the media have actually said we stopped a genocide. How they know this for sure- to report as fact- is beyond me. It would be like reporting Bush’s ‘kinetic’ action in Iraq as ‘we averted nuclear war’- now, maybe some people really believe this, but you can’t report it as fact. Second- what exactly was Gadhafi saying? Remember what has happened over the last few weeks. In Libya- you have the major city in the east, Ben Ghazi, as the second largest Libyan city [behind the capitol Tripoli] and when the protests first started they were treated just about as badly as they were in Yemen, Syria, etc. After a few days the rebels in Libya took up arms- captured some military equipment and basically started a real civil war. The rebels marched westward towards the capitol and took city after city- thru military action. They were on the outskirts of Tripoli and they were threatening to take over the country. Gadhafi got his troops together and he fought back- he then went from city to city on the trek back east- towards the rebels capitol- Ben Ghazi. So far France is the only country to recognize the rebels in Ben Ghazi as a legitimate govt. So Gadhafi is on the outskirts of the city and he makes the threat. Obama -being convinced By Susan Rice, Samantha Powers [2 women who strongly believe that the U.S. should use force for humanitarian purposes] and eventually Hillary Clinton- he gives the go ahead. Now- whether you agree with the action or not- the actual handling of the matter was less than competent. There is a lot of spin about the president gaining world support and all [NATO, Arab League, etc.] but in reality secretary Gates got it right when he said ‘we did it on the fly’. The obvious squabbling of the so called coalition shows that we didn’t do our homework. Okay- the right wingers say the president is a total incompetent failure- Beck even designed another conspiracy involving Cass Sunstein! The left are saying the president is doing a great job. Of course the reality is he probably was talked into taking action- his military men were obviously against it- he was being told ‘look- the mad man is going to commit genocide’ and he had Kerry and McCain making the rounds [Lieberman too] calling for action. Was Gadhafi threatening genocide [the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians] probably not. How do we know? In every ‘rebel’ held city he took back on the road east- he did not carry out a genocide in any of them. Did he kill people? Yes. Have the Rebels killed people? Yes. We need to distinguish between peaceful protestors and a civil war- what we now have in Libya is a civil war. Both sides have taken up arms against each other- this is very different than shooting unarmed protestors in the streets. So now we are in- it is really silly to make it sound like NATO or any other coalition has the real ability to take command of the mission. Even if NATO ‘takes command’ it’s us doing the majority of the work. It was a mistake for the president to have not gone to the congress- and to have left the country right before the bombing began. Yes- he should have canceled the Latin American trip and called the key congressional leaders back for an emergency meeting. The congress felt dissed- both sides are angry- and it was a result of a degree of incompetence- learning on the fly type of action. Yes- you don’t need to subscribe to Becks theory- but please- you can’t see this as having been done competently. Now- are the media biased? In Latin America the resident guaranteed Brazil a few billion dollars of aid to promote their off shore oil drilling. The company [which actually has been invested in by major Democrat donars- George Soros] will be drilling in THE GULF OF MEXICO- and they will also be using some of the money to look into building underwater oil storage tanks in the Gulf. How the media can’t be covering this is a joke. I mean we have just come off of the biggest oil spill in the history of the world- we implemented many restrictions on U.S. drillers in the gulf- and on the trip the president guarantees ‘seed money’ for another nations oil industry to drill in the gulf- this is crazy. In Germany the papers have printed the atrocious pictures taken by some of our soldiers of the dead civilians they killed in Afghanistan [I wrote on this case before- some rogue soldiers did indeed have a group of guys who targeted civilians for ‘fun’]. Now- the German paper- Der Spiegel- has printed the photos. They look horrible- our guys have the bodies propped up- its bad. Why has the U.S. media not covered this like the scandal during Bush’s presidency? Most of us have the images of the abuse of Gitmo prisoners engrained in our minds. The famous photos of the prisoners with the hoods on their heads and all. At the time the defense secretary tried to not have the photos published- the media reported it as a major criminal cover up- possibly to the point of the president and his top men having committed war crimes- and they showed those pictures day after day- all over the place. In the current trial of the soldiers- the media has not only not covered the story [U.S. media] but they have refused to show the pictures. Why? The military has actually said they don’t want the pictures getting out. Now- why is there no media criticism of this happening under a Democratic president? In Gitmo the actions were wrong- but they were embarrassing actions done against actual enemy prisoners- still wrong- but no one was killed. In the current scandal these are dead innocent civilians in the pictures- it’s so much more worse. If the media has chosen to ‘not cover it’ because it could cause harm to our guys- fine- but that’s the exact argument this same media said was covering up war crimes under Bush. If we want the American people to reject the conspiracies of Beck- then they can’t at the same time be so biased in their reporting. This week- the events in Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Libya- there is no doubt that things have really turned for the worse. I heard one analyst- usually an excellent commentator- say the U.S. needs to begin planning a possible takeover of the Saudi Oil fields if the nation falls- this is bad my friends. I think the president meant well in Libya- I think he has lost control of the entire Middle East situation- the former Prime Minister of Israel [current Defense minister] Ehud Barak was on the Charlie Rose show- he was asked about how the area views Obama- he honestly said they are confused. He goes soft on the hard dictators and hard on the soft ones. I heard a report on NPR [NPR MIND YOU!] they asked the person how the military views the president [the guy was an insider] he said they view him as disconnected, uninterested and as someone who really doesn’t want to be bothered with military stuff- I can’t believe this was on NPR. So even though the president was stuck between a rock and a hard place- he still has made some terrible blunders. I just hope this is the last Muslim country we engage in like this- we need to get out of the previous 2 already- we can’t afford any more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

[1627] CATHOLIC VERSUS MORMON AND OTHER STUFF. Okay- as an avid news watcher, these last few weeks we have seen a sort of shift in the Liberal versus Conservative media. Lawrence O’Donnell [MSNBC] has decided to deride Beck [FOX] on the air. Now- O’Donnell is smart- he does realize that the ratings for MSNBC are truly dismal- so he’s trying to get Beck to engage so he can get some free advertising. Of course the classic way of getting better ratings has been abandoned by MSNBC years ago [you know- the old ‘unbiased reporting of news’ scheme]. So anyway Beck has gone for the bait a few times and O’Donnell keeps casting out the line. First- O’Donnell is Catholic and Beck is Mormon- and Lawrence is using this as a hook. He is also taking it upon himself to ‘instruct’ his audience in Catholic doctrine. Now- I like these guys [well not really] but as an outside observer let me try and help some of the viewers a bit. Lawrence- as a ‘good’ [let's say well meaning] Catholic does not speak for his church- that is as a Protestant believer- I have studied lots of Catholic history and Doctrine- and I consider the Catholic Church part of the broader Body of Christ- and the facts are- Lawrence does not know ‘the facts’. He challenged Beck on some recent end times musings- he says the majority of Catholics have modernized and don’t believe the ‘old stuff’ anymore; burning witches, putting kids to death for cursing their parents, anti homosexual relationships- Lawrence says the church has advanced and Catholics really don’t believe the old stuff anymore. Now- Doctrinally the church has rejected many of these Old Testament commandments [burning witches] just like most Protestant denominations. Yet the church does not ‘not believe’ the book of Revelation anymore, which is what he lumped it all in with. The official teaching of the church- dating back to the 16th century Council of Trent [you know- little details that I like to refer to as facts] is that the bible is- quote ‘the words that the Holy Spirit dictated’. Now- the language used at Trent was so strong- that the church actually holds to a less literal belief than what the words imply. Most believers do not believe in the idea of a mechanical inspiration of the bible- that is that God actually spoke all the words of the bible to the authors [with the exception of portions of scripture that do record God speaking- 10 commandments, etc.] So, the official teaching of the Church- set down at Trent- is the bible is the ‘word of God’. Yes indeed, the Catholic Church still believes in the book of Revelation. Now- Lawrence says ‘well- not literally’ and he quoted a verse or 2 about Dragons pouring out water from their mouth and the woman fleeing and… well- I’m familiar with the verse- and it is symbolic. I don’t know of anyone- including Beck- that takes this verse ‘literally’. Now- Does Lawrence even know what ‘literal’ means? When Christians use the term ‘taking the bible literally’ this term does not mean that all the verses in the bible are actually literal. For instance the book of Psalms says ‘the hills skipped and danced for joy’ the verse from Revelation that I just mentioned is prophetic language. You have figures of speech also used- the apostle John says ‘there are many other works that Jesus did that are not recorded in this book [John’s gospel] and I suppose if all the works were written down that all the world could not contain the books that would be written’ now- should we read this language ‘literally’ or was John using a common figure of speech to make a point? When the bible uses poetry, prophecy, symbol, etc.. when these passages are read- taking them literally means reading them in context. So when you read about dragons- or hills jumping for joy, or other portions like that- well they are meant to be read in their context. The Catholic Church does indeed still believe in the book of Revelation- literally. I think Lawrence has actually made some good points- I am not a defender of Beck- nor do I hold to the end time views of Beck. My ‘end times’ theology is basically Catholic. I would recommend Scott Hahn’s book ‘The Lambs Supper’ which is an excellent Catholic teaching on the book of Revelation- Hahn is an A-1 Catholic scholar- he teaches Catholic doctrine- real Catholic doctrine. And Hahn does an excellent job at showing us how the book of Revelation is centered around Christ and the reality of the church and the kingdom of God. I am not totally throwing O’Donnell under the bus- I think he has said some good stuff about this not being ‘the end of the world’ and other things- but it’s not good to have a Catholic news man say ‘this is what Catholics believe’ when he obviously does not know what Catholics believe. Yes, Beck does need to be reigned in a bit- but don’t do it at the expense of confusing people about the church. A persons personal view is fine- but don’t tell people what the church does or does not believe- especially if you’re not familiar with the material- o well- I forgot- being misinformed about the facts has never really mattered that much at MSNBC- I’m sorry.
Just a note- The Catholic Church has ‘modernized’ since the famous Council at Trent- Vatican Council 2 [1962-65] did indeed try and bring the church more into modern times. And there have been statements made that say the reading/teaching of the bible should not be taken in a way that rejects the modern advances of science. But the official belief of the bible being the Word of God is still official Catholic doctrine. Many Protestants confuse the Catholic belief by thinking the church accepts Tradition over the bible- this is actually not so. The official belief of the Catholic Church is that the voice/teaching of God comes to us thru both Tradition and the Bible- they do not say Tradition is over the Bible. There are lots of common misconceptions that Protestants and Catholics have made about each other over the years- I don’t think it will do either side any service for MSNBC and FOX to get into this type of debate on the air. It takes more time than a few sound bites to teach it right- it would be better to just leave it be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

[1626] PILLARS 1-2.

As the Libya story unfolds- you have some sincere critics of the president [Dick Lugar] and others who just want to find fault. Now- one of the debates going on is who will eventually take over the command of the ‘no fly zone’ [war]. The Arab league- though initially in support of the action, has since said what they signed up for [protect innocent civilians] is not what happened [bombing the country]. Vladimir Putin [Russian P.M.] said ‘it’s a crusade’ Yikes! The Russian president [who I thought was supposed to be a puppet] Medvedev rebuked the words publicly. Before we hit Libya- I started asking a few questions- things like ‘look- I know the leader seems like a nut, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to his charge that the Rebels are Al Qaeda’. Sure enough there have been lots of reports that do say the radical element in these protests are larger than what we saw in the other nations [Tunisia, Egypt]. Richard Engel- a top NBC [NOT FOX!] reporter said that 1 in 5 of the rebels are fighting because they want to kill Gadhafi ‘the Jew’. So as we debate when/where the U.S. should take action- we need to also keep in mind that the alternatives to the toppling of leaders might be just as bad- or worse- than the actual leader. Okay- why was the word ‘crusade’ so charged? It plays into the world history of the western nations fighting against the Muslim world. Many in the Arab league are not comfortable with NATO taking charge because of this history. The last few weeks the song ‘from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli’ have gone thru my mind. I remember the old Abbot and Costello shows on the foreign legion and stuff like that. What war is the song describing? It speaks about the wars that the U.S. engaged in- yes- with Libya- many years ago. After the American colonies broke away from England we continued to conduct world trade by the use of ships. At one point [1800’s] the Mediterranean became a flash point [like today] you had pirates and countries who retaliated by disrupting the water ways. America of course fought back- and the Libyans were actually called ‘the Mujahedeen’ yes- the same term used for the Rebels who we supported in toppling the Russian influence in Afghanistan. These were the Barbary wars- Barbary Coast. So- we need to be careful that our actions don’t play into the idea that the U.S. is actually waging a 21st century crusade [this is also why it was unbelievable that Bush actually used the term crusade during his term].

Okay- let me do a little more on Islam [the teaching series I started in the last post]. Islam has 5 Pillars- basic tenets that all Muslims hold to;

1- The declaration of their faith ‘There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. To become a Muslim- one simply has to accept/confess this statement. Muslims believe that the final/complete revelation of God to man has come thru the prophet- by way of the Quran. As Christians accept Jesus as God’s final prophet/Messiah to mankind- so Muslims see Muhammad as the final and complete authority.

2- The second Pillar is Salat [prayer]. Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca- the holy city where the Kabba is [Kabba- the house of God believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael]. Once a week on Friday Muslims pray corporately at noon in the local mosque or Islamic center.

The next few days I’ll try and cover the other 3 pillars- I actually think the 3rd pillar is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the bible than what most Christians practice- it deals with the Muslim practice of giving to meet the needs of the poor. For today that should cover it- remember- the reason we are covering Islam as a religion is so we can have a better grasp on what Muslims believe. Too many of us are only familiar with the more radical elements that the media focus on when an attack takes place. At the same time there are also prejudices in Islam as well- many young Muslims are taught a radical hatred for the Jew- these wrong ideas are formed in their minds as young people- and they too need to reject these anti- Semitic ideas. As the U.S. begins engaging in the 3rd Muslim country in the last 11 years- we need to be very careful that we are not playing into the hands of those who embrace radicalism- there is a very real extreme element in Libya. Al Qaeda has operated out of the nation for many years- we need to be careful that we are not being ‘useful idiots’.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

[1625 WE ARE IN- As you know the U.S. and our allies have begun enforcing the ‘no fly zone’- in actuality the stated mission is more than a no fly zone, it’s a mission that is too open ended- basically it says we can do anything we need to do to protect the civilian population of Libya- geez- too broad. Now- is this the same type of resolution that Bush had for his 2 wars? No- president Obama has NO resolution from the congress- nada. He’s operating under U.N. and Arab league language- kind of a problem- don’t you think? I heard a major news person say Obama is operating the same way Bush did- without congressional approval. The news broadcaster explained that Bush did not go to congress for Afghanistan or Iraq. Actually Bush went to congress in 2001 for Afghanistan- and 2002 for Iraq. Though the internal debate [now made public] was that the president did not need to go to congress- yet they did anyway. Those defending Obama’s recent action say ‘yeah- but Clinton didn’t get congressional approval for Kosovo- Serbia’ true. Either way- we are there now. If you go back and read my posts on Libya- I was not a hawk on the matter- someone who advocated U.S. military action. But I felt some of the statements from the president [Gadhafi must go] kinda put us on the hook to do something. Though the defense secretary did not want to engage in another Muslim country [not Arab!] yet it seems as if the secretary of state changed her view and Obama decided for limited action. The U.S. will do the early work- and do a quick hand off to France [Britain]. The problem is we never seem to be able to do the darn handoffs! So let’s pray and try and do our best.

As I mentioned above- the media often simply report stuff wrong. It does not help that most of us hold a view of that part of the world thru what we see/hear in the media- a media that gets stuff wrong [not just Fox]. I have heard many news people refer to Libya as being Arab- part of the original Arab world. Not so. Though Libya is majority Muslim- they are not Arab. The majority of Arab people are indeed Muslim- but that makes up only 20 % of the entire Muslim world. The most populous Muslim states range from North Africa to Southeast Asia- Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion- and the world’s 2nd largest [around 1.2 billion followers]. Islam also holds huge minority followings in the Western world [Europe and the U.S.]. Most Americans associate Islam with radical Islam- though most of today’s terrorists have come from the radical sect of Islam- all Muslims are not radicals. There is an internal debate in Islam on how to deal with modernity- some scholars teach that true Islam is Patriarchal in nature and the role of women is subordinate. These hold to the idea that a true Islamic adherent seeks for a true Islamic state- ruled by Sharia law. Others believe in a type of separation of Mosque and state- they hold to the view that Islam’s survival depends on its ability to ‘liberalize’ and adjust- like Christianity has done thru the centuries [most Christians are not seeking a theocratic state- though at one time the world was literally governed by the church]. Islam was founded in the 7th century under the prophet Muhammad, and within a hundred years after his death spread into a vast empire [under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires]. Islam also has a sect within her that could kind of be described as Mystical- that is like the Christian Mystics of church history. This branch is called Sufism. So you could say the 2 great institutions of Islam are Islamic law [Sharia] and Sufism [the mystical expression that seeks a more romanticized experience with God- like Christian Pietism].

As an avid boxing fan- I was watching a fight one night- and the official bell ringer ‘rung’ the bell after only 2minutes into the round [rounds are 3 minutes]. At first the ringside announcers- who are not paying attention to the clock- picked it up by simply feeling like the round was short. Sure enough during the break they were told the bell ringer- whose sole job is to ring the bell- messed up. As I watch the coverage unfold over the next weeks/months- and yes- years- I want to try and do my best to stick with the facts as much as possible. I understand it’s not easy to keep all the facts straight [the official bell ringers do at times mess up] and the distinction between the Arab/Muslim world is at times hard to see- I’m sure we will hear lots of reports confusing the 2- but being we are living in a real dangerous time- a time of change thru out the world that we cannot stop [I didn’t even mention the recent events in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia- major events- Yemen ‘snipers’ killed 50 protestor in cold blood- shot in the head/neck. Bahrain cracked down brutally on her protestors- and Syria is beginning to see more of an uprising]. So as we become more familiar with this part of the world- we want to get our facts as straight as possible. In this post I’m just beginning to cover Islam as a religion- over the coming months I want to do some posts strictly on the actual history of Islam- what Islam believes and teaches- and what Islam does not teach. The purpose is not to give a defense to the religion- but to inform each other about a religion that most westerners see only thru a lens of radicalism- thru news reports that fixate on the extreme elements of Islam. Part of our responsibility in the West is to know the subject/people we are dealing with- and for today one of the facts that should help form the coming posts is all Muslims are not Arabs- and all Arabs are not Muslim- the majority of nations that are ‘majority’ Muslim [around 53] are indeed African and Asian. And the latest one that we just engaged in- militarily- is smack dab in the middle of the North African rim that has been on fire- first to its left in Tunisia- and then to its right with Egypt- and we are ‘stuck in the middle with you’.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

[1624] GREASEBALL! Okay- to all my Italian buddies- this one’s for you! [Greaseball is a slang term for us Italians]. Yesterday the U.N. approved action against Libya- 10 nations voted for the ‘no fly zone’ [and more] and 5 abstained [Obama’s favorite position when Illinois senator]. Yes, Russia and China did not vote no- a surprise. The Libyan Rebels rejoiced- hooray- the West is coming! Not so fast. Obama gave a speech ‘Gadhafi must step down- or else!’ and yet again he slaughters the folks- and it actually seems like he stepped up the slaughter- after all Obama said ‘you better not’. And then- in the same speech mind you- he also said the U.S. will not be putting in troops- or heading up the no fly zone. It’s utterly amazing that a U.S. president continues to give very public ultimatums- and then states the reality that he will not act. As the reports came in from the streets of Libya- they said ‘he is still killing civilians’. Now- if we as a nation are already too stretched because of two 10 year wars in Muslim countries- and if our official policy is ‘we can’t afford to keep doing these types of ventures at the sole expense of U.S. blood and money’ [a position that does make lots of sense by the way] If that’s going to be our ‘default’ setting- then we can’t be making public statements and saying ‘if you don’t stop now- there will be consequences’- both of these things at the same time are actually worse. It makes the dictator think ‘geez- better kill em while I still have the chance’ and the statement from the president still awaits another meeting [in Paris today] to set up the actual logistics of the plan. It’s just simply too late to still be making ‘long range plans’ and at the same time publicly saying ‘no more chances’.

Okay- When I was a boy growing up in Jersey I had a bunch of good old Italian buddies- and my family was 100% liberal Democrat- I mean my grandfather bought into the line that the U.S. was the most dangerous nation on the planet. So one day he’s down the block talking to some Italian neighbor- they must have been talking politics. I heard gramps raise his voice. So when he gets back to the house we ask ‘what were you talking to Mr. so and so about? Answer- ‘that f---ing Greaseball’. WHAT? I mean grandpa was a Greaseball too- we were/are all Greaseballs! Right now in the news once again you have the left and the right running with their agenda’s and the truth usually gets lost in between. The other night I watched Chris Matthews defend the president- he went on to deride Huckabee, Palin, Newt, etc. he said how their framing of the president was all wrong- That they say he has liberal ‘anti colonial’ instincts- that they paint him as something other than a classic American boy- raised with basketball and hot dogs and the rest. Then Matthews launched into a familiar rant- he said something to the effect of ‘what do you right wing, racist, tea party bastards want? He has done everything you asked for- he has grown up and been a responsible black man- he has a wife and kids and doesn’t sell coke- you know- he has lived up to the white man’s requirements’. Now- I have heard Matthews say this before- he actually looks like he’s gonna pull a Boehner when he does this [cry]. What he doesn’t realize- is he thinks he is on the side of the minority when he says this- sort of like the classic liberal defense of ‘the back man’ yet to the black man- this is actually quite racist. It plays into the stereotypes of racism- to say ‘he has lived up to our expectations- what we want from the Black man’ yes- he sounds just like grandpa calling his fellow Italian a Greaseball- the classic inability of the liberal minded ‘non bigoted’ person- who reveals his bigotry in ways that he does not fully realize.

When working at the Fire Dept. over the years- It was actually a Texas joke to see how the North East [MSNBC crowd] thinks about Texas as ‘Cowboy country’. I was sitting in the station one day with my captain [a died in the wool Democrat- liberal among liberals- he was also my union president] and the secretary rings the office- ‘it’s Cheney’s people on the line’ every year or so Dick Cheney [and also Bush one and 2] would come to an area where we worked and they would hunt bird [Quail, Dove] so they would set up our ambulance guys to station themselves right at the gate of the ranch just in case Cheney shot another one of his buddies. So I’d laugh ‘hey Cap- the V.P. wants to talk’ and he would respond with some vulgar word. So the real scoop is here in Texas we have a whole world of lib’s- my V.P. [union] was also a lifelong Democrat- openly gay- would travel to Austin a lot [an ultra liberal haven] and he would laugh at the Chris Matthews types who fall for the ‘guns and cowboy hats’ image of Texas. Yes- Matthews had Tom Delay on the other day- asked him about some Texas stuff- and tried to be nice- and said ‘well I know that’s the way you Texans are- carrying your 6-guns and all’ yes- he fits in well with the classic liberal mindset- thinks he’s real progressive- liberal- and the rest of the liberals in Texas think you’re a jack ass.

I actually had friends that would don the cowboy hat during spring break- why? They would ‘pick up’ girls visiting for the break- and some of them would say ‘wow- a real cowboy- I heard about people like you [probably watches MSNBC] but I never thought I would meet one’ well honey- you didn’t! So when we are trying to get to the real story- we need non biased journalists to tell it- you can’t get it from the left or the right alone. A few weeks ago a major London newspaper ran the entire speech given by Gadhafi after Obama was elected- in the speech he openly praised Obama as ‘one of us’ he said how the U.S. is now being lead by someone ‘like us’. Now- is Gadhafi falling for the propaganda of Beck? Come on- how about the London paper- are they Fox sycophants? Obama does have a history of liberal political allies that date back to his days in Chicago [fine] and in that circle- which included Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan- they made some trips to Libya and began having close ties to the Libyan leader. Now- did they have ties like this with the leaders of Egypt- or Yemen- or any other Arab/Persian nation? No. But because of the political atmosphere at the time- Gadhafi made it into the circle. Now- for the left wing media to not even mention it- or when they do mention it- to portray it as a Fox conspiracy- well that’s classic liberal ignorance. Yes- admit the fact of the thing- and then report on whether or not you think it means anything [I personally don’t- I don’t think he has made policy decisions based on this past affiliation- but geez- to simply ignore the thing is not journalism!] So as we watch events unfold- there obviously has been some major mistakes made. Whether you support the president or not- mistakes are being made—that cost lives. And if you present yourself as this wonderfully open- non biased liberal person- you know- not like the Texas gun toters- than don’t go down the block and call the Italian guy a Greaseball!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

[1623] CHRIST CHURCH? A few weeks back I was going to write a post from the words of St. Peter found in the New Testament ‘The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God [Christ’s church= house of God] and if it starts there- what will the outcome be for the rest of the world?’ [paraphrased it]. Right after the ‘thought’ the major events off the coast of Japan hit and we have this trilogy of disasters to deal with [Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown]. I did find it ‘strange’ that the recent events started with Christ Church New Zealand- and seemed to spread from there. I heard a Geologist the other night- he had previously predicted the earthquake that hit Ca. during the World Series a few years ago. He said the sign of the dead fish recently washing up in Ca. was not a coincidence- he said the fish can sense a change in the earth’s magnetic field [prior to an earthquake] and that in Japan these fish kills are actually called ‘earthquake fish’. Wow. You do hear lots of talking heads during these types of events- yet it would be nice to know the truth on these types of things. The last year or 2 we had earthquakes along the Pacific Rim; Chile, New Zealand and of course Japan. If you look on a map you see the Pacific Ocean and you can draw a circle around the perimeter- the part that affects us is the West coast- so they already have a run on Iodide pills [fear of the radiation crossing the Pacific from Japan] and some are predicting an earthquake. The other night I caught a quick news flash of Saudi Arabia sending troops into Bahrain to fight back against the protestors- as it flashed by quickly- I said ‘geez- this is a major event- and it’s getting lost in the media frenzy’. Then O’Reilly spent 15 minutes on a real important life changing story- a stripper who works with a snake- the snake bit the woman on her breast- the snake died from the silicone from the breast implant. Another news show spent almost the whole hour on sports- even the president did another March madness prediction- at a time when the world has protestors in the streets- who thought we would help them [Libya] and they are actually saying ‘Obama- where are you- where’s Bush?’ Now- whatever your view is on intervening [no fly zone- etc.] the fact is if the feeling around the globe is that we are not taking these things seriously enough- then the image of the president doing March Madness picks does not look good. So what do we make of it all? When Peter said ‘judgment must 1st start at Gods house’ he of course was not directly talking about the city of Christ Church, New Zealand. Yet in a prophetic sort of way- these types of things can be signs of what’s to come. One of the important developments has been the fact that the Arab/Persian nations have indeed chosen to ignore the pleas from the U.S. to go easy on the protestors- and they simply have said ‘screw you- look at what you did to Egypt- we are gonna go the Gadhafi route’ [to a degree]. Saudi Arabia crossing into Bahrain- a small Persian Gulf nation where we have lot of troops stationed [and the 5th fleet docked] is a major development. The markets [both Asian and U.S.] have fallen over the fears that the Nuke disaster is already as bad as Chernobyl- and the unrest in the Middle East and Africa is not getting better. So we pray- we show the world that we don’t just throw our hands up and say ‘the end of the world is here’ but we also recognize it is in mans nature to deny the reality of judgment- the reality that mankind faces times where things build up and the planet suffers for it. In the 19th century there was a movement in Christian theology called ‘Liberal theology’- not liberal in politics- but a whole genre of teaching/thought that challenged a lot of the ‘old time’ beliefs [like original sin] and focused on the ability of modern man to rise above the ignorance of the past [even in religious thought] and man was on the road to a true Utopian society that would never fail. This belief was strong- both in the universities of Germany as well as in the politics of the Western world. Then you had the world wars- 8 million people killed in the first one- and 50 million in the 2nd one. Men like Karl Barth [a Swiss theologian- teacher] would challenge the liberal view of mans ‘inner divinity’ and he would blast the Christian world with his famous ‘the epistle to the Romans’ his commentary on Paul’s famous treatise- released in 1918. Though Barth is what some describe as 'Neo- Orthodox’ [the strong Reformed teachers don’t appreciate Barth very much] yet he did bring the church back to the biblical doctrines of original sin and mans inability to ‘save himself’. Barth saw the reality of the WW1 and rejected the Utopian belief that man was so advanced that he would reach for the sky- and grab it! Today we see lots of shaking in the world- some are focused on March madness- some find it profitable to do a story on a stripper- we need to keep our eyes [and bibles] open- mankind is in need of God- man has gone thru stages where he thought the ‘old belief’ in God would fall away- to the contrary- the govt’s of man [apart from God] seem to be the thing that’s falling away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

[1622] ARE THE JAPANESE DISPROVING FREUD? One of the narratives coming from the Japan disaster is the response of the Japanese people. In contrast to our Katrina tragedy the Japanese are very self reliant. Jack Cafferty [CNN] read an email from some elderly lady who contrasted the 2 responses. She called the Louisiana residents who looted, killed, complained and wined- she said ‘those scumbags’ [ouch!] What are we seeing in the Japanese people? The media are referring to them as Stoic’s- the philosophy [ancient Greek- one of only 2 philosophies mentioned by name in the bible- Acts chapter 17 mentions the Stoic’s and Epicureanism] that said the secret to life is living on an even plane. Don’t get too ‘up’ or too down- just ride the wave of life as moderately as you can. The other side of the coin is Hedonism- the philosophy of men like Freud- who taught that the problem with man is that he is taught to restrain himself [by religion] and that this restraint is itself a product of neurosis. Freud was a strange fellow, the father of modern Psychoanalysis; his ideas were actually quite weird. As a Jew [non practicing] he embraced the higher criticism of his day [a way of interpreting the bible as not being actually true- just good stories] and he sought to come up with an explanation for mans religious bent. So he came up with the idea of the Oedipal Complex- a strange view of man that said the real problems of man are they have this view of love and hate for the father figure- and the ‘real’ story of Moses and the children of Israel was the Jews killed Moses in the wilderness [hatred for the father figure] they then felt guilty about it- and out of this guilt they would eventually develop a ‘religion of the Son’ [Christianity] and Walla- that’s the real story. You would be surprised how many people hear silly stuff like this in life [or college!] and they never give it a second thought. Like Pope Benedict says in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ [1st book of a trilogy on the life of Christ] he mentions the theories of the critics [men like Bultmann] and he then responds ‘and how do you know this’? Bultmann [one of the famous liberal theologians of the day] would come up with ideas like this- and he would just espouse them. The funny thing about these critics was they were trying to challenge the historical accuracy of the bible- are the gospels true- stuff like that. And in their challenge they would ‘make up’ their own stuff [Oedipal complex] and simply expect everyone to believe it. So Freud taught that we need to free man from this neurosis of religion- this thing in society that says ‘restrain yourself’ and if we teach man to do and be all that he feels like doing- then we will have healed him of this destructive religious belief that developed out of a secret love/hate relationship of father. Wow. I can think of no greater philosophy to not live your life by than that. How did the Freudian experiment turn out? It was/is a disaster- I’m not just saying this as a Christian who rejects Freud’s atheism- but many of his ideas have also been roundly rejected by the psychologists of the modern day. Freud actually taught that when you counsel a person [yes- he was the originator of the idea of the patient lying on the couch while the counselor listens] that the patient is ‘transmitting’ psychic energy from himself to the doctor- and that’s what makes him better. Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism [his fictional account of the origins of Judaism/Christianity] Totem and Taboo- the fictional idea of the primitive religion of man- and Civilization and it’s Discontents, his explanation of the conflict between mans psychic life and the demands of society. The basic view of Freud [Hedonism] is a failed system that does not work in the real world. To live your life based on the philosophy of ‘if it feels good- do it’ does not work in any area of life- for the long term. In food, shopping, family life, marriage, sexual expression- the basic principle of self restraint and discipline [the Japanese response] is in great contrast to the ‘unrestrained’ view of life [as seen in some of the Katrina response- many of the looters and rioters were raised with a welfare mentality- they were dependant on the state/govt. to do things for them. When things went bad- they blamed the govt. for it]. In the end of the day- the society that practices self discipline- that teaches their children to be self reliant- those are the ones who have the most successful lives. Those who practice Hedonism blame stuff on everyone else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

[1621] TO BE HONEST- IT IS STRANGE TO BE HERE AGAIN- A few weeks ago I wrote a few posts on the ‘end of the world’ and the strange events of fish deaths and bird kills and things that seemed to be signs of the end of the world. Of course since that time many events have really unraveled and some of them are really big! So let’s talk a little. In Revelation chapter 8 we read about the plagues that will come upon the earth when God’s judgment is being released. I also spoke about Jesus words in Matthews’s gospel the other day. Do all these passages primarily speak of a future judgment? Not necessarily- though you can most certainly apply it that way. There are various views of interpretation that bible students use when reading these types of passages [types= apocalyptic- a certain genre of writing]. Some view the events through an historical view- others are what you would call Futurist- and some are a mix between the 2 [basically my own view]. I do think more people need to become familiar with the historical view a bit more. For instance many bible/history students have shown how many of the signs that Jesus gave about the ‘end of the world/age’ were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70. It’s a bit much to cover it all here- but there are actual historical reports of people having seen visions of chariots of fire in the sky at the time of the incident- things that most certainly could fit into the signs in the sky imagery used in this type of writing. Okay- in Revelation chapter 8 John writes about the vision of these 7 angels blowing 7 trumpets- these trumpets are 7 judgments from God. The first 4 are spoken about in chapter 8. They begin with natural disasters- fish dying and stuff like that. Have we seen these things recently? Yes- as matter of fact right before the earthquake there was another story of a bunch of fish dying off the west coast- I remember it because they looked like a sea of dead anchovies- once again there was really no explanation. So in this chapter we see this sign as a judgment from God. When you get to the 3rd angel blowing his trumpet- there is a star that falls from heaven and it lands in the sea and causes the waters to become bitter [poisonous]. You also see an angel take a censor filled with incense and he casts it violently into the earth. The censor represents the prayers of Gods people- those who have been crying out for justice for centuries- and when the censor hits the ground there are flashes of lightning and thunder and yes- an earthquake. So all these images do speak about Gods judgment being manifest in the earth. One of the reports I heard about the Japanese earthquake was that the sea floor was examined and found to have a 150 mile long crack- 50 miles wide. That’s no minor event my friends. The earth has actually shifted off its axis and Japan has moved over around 8 feet [of course Japan is group of Islands]. The bible speaks about the ground/earth in a way that we are not familiar with in the 21st century. It speaks about the ground as being given to man by God- man is a caretaker of the things that transpire on the earth. When Cain killed his brother Abel [Genesis 4] the bible says the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground- the book of Revelation speaks about all the blood of the martyrs [and innocents- like abortion] crying out to God for vengeance. In a strange way God hears the 'testimony’ of the innocent victims- it cries out to him from the ground. The new testament says the Blood of Jesus also ‘speaks’ [Hebrews] it says his Blood does not cry out for vengeance [like Abel’s] but it ‘speaks better things that that of Abel's’ blood. The Blood of Christ- shed on the Cross- says ‘God forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing’. Jesus’ blood offers forgiveness to mankind. As we see the shaking in the earth today- the huge crack in the foundation- it is a sign of pent up injustices- innocent victims who have been killed and brutalized for many years- Despots who have gotten away with murder- literally. Christians/innocents who have cried out to God for centuries. We are truly living in a unique time- many events converging at one time- let the Blood of Christ speak for you- the Blood that says ‘I forgive you’ if not- we will all be left standing with only the blood of innocents crying out for vengeance from the ground- the ground that has a fifty mile crack in it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

[1620] JAPAN- As of last night, the disaster in Japan is far greater than originally thought. The building surrounding the nuclear reactor blew up in dramatic fashion- the leaders were claiming that the steel casing around the reactor was intact. It seems like the leaders might be covering something up- or maybe they don’t know everything that’s going on inside. The death toll is sure to climb, though they talk about the numbers as in the hundreds- or right around 1800 hundred, yet they say ‘9,000’ are missing [which means swept out to sea]. Now- what does all this mean? The U.S. economy [and govt.] rely heavily on 2 nations that serve as our ‘bank’. Japan used to be our number one borrower- they bought our debt. China just recently surpassed Japan as our number one buyer of debt. So Japan is our 2nd biggest ‘bank’ [both nations hold right around 900 billion of U.S. debt- other nations also hold our debt- own our credit cards- yet Japan and China are our biggest banks].Okay- this past year we have made trips to the region- have had our debates over fiscal policy [with China] and we have done our best to keep a fairly good relationship going [even willing to overlook real human rights abuses- with China] in order to keep the cash flowing. So what now? Well look at it as if your number 2 credit card co. just went under- that’s what has happened. Japan is in no position to keep buying our debt- and they will not be in that position again for a long time. Now Japan too is in debt- but most of their debt has been bought by private investors who are Japanese- they are not dependant like us on a foreign nation [s]. So we just lost a very important bank. It’s not the end of the world for us- but not good at a time when we thought we were going to really come out of this recessionary stagnation- our country actually showed some good financial signs in recent weeks- yet this confluence of events [Arab unrest, Revolts, Libya- earthquakes, etc.] is sure to put a hold on any real strong economic growth. Now- the president gave a speech the other day- and surprisingly his number one concern was to convince the public that he is not at fault for high gas/oil prices. It was very strange for him to have focused so much on not wanting the blame. He gave some numbers- all in all he was not being totally honest with us. There are presidents who are ‘pro big oil’ [Bush] and others who simply are not. It’s not to say the more environmentally minded presidents are bad [Teddy Roosevelt did a great thing by preserving our natural habitat] but it’s deceiving to be on the less ‘big oil’ side- and then say you are one of the biggest proponents of big oil to ever be on the scene. Overall our country currently produces 7 million barrels of oil a day. We use around 20 million barrels daily. So we import the difference. Our country used to produce 10-11 million barrels a day- do the math- it’s not hard to figure this thing out. Now- why did oil prices drop recently? Japan is the 3rd biggest economy in the world [behind the U.S. and China]. The facts on the ground are Japan will not be using the large amounts of oil that they were expected to use- because they obviously will be struggling for quite some time to get back up and running again. So the demand for oil on the world market has just gone down. Overall this Japan disaster will affect the global economy in a much greater way than the unrest in Libya- Libya is important mainly because they produce oil- but their overall economy is in shambles- and has been for years. Japan is/was an economic powerhouse- a major player on the world stage. For them to have suffered such a ,major disaster- this is really devastating- if you add up all the things going on in the word right now- we haven’t been this ‘shaky’ in years- probably since the world wars. I’m not saying that will happen- I’m saying we have not seen this type of global upheaval since that time. Yes other events have happened that were big- Vietnam- 911- etc. But the totality of recent events is huge. Pray for the Japanese people- pray for Libya [Gadhafi is taking advantage of the worlds eyes being on Japan] and put your trust in God- there are many in the media who are not being upfront about the real dangers we are now facing- they do not want to cause people to panic- yet anyone who follows the events realizes we are in a very dangerous time- don’t fear- but recognize the time we are in.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

[1619] EARTHQUAKE- Of course you know by now that right off the coast of Japan there was a major earthquake- 8.9 on the Richter scale. The worst recorded one to ever hit Japan. The 5th largest on record [in at least the last 100 years] and the damage is great. As I watched the coverage- saw all the pictures of the devastation- my daughter just walked in the door. I told how big this event is- a major event- she saw the pictures and I did say we don’t know how bad all the damage is yet- and that the West coast is being hit by the wave right now. I guess she thought it was worse than I knew it to be, she said ‘well dad, is there anything we can do to survive it’? She is 19, and she was not kidding. I of course told her that the wave she was seeing was not going to hit us- but still she had some doubts. I guess it didn’t help when I got up to walk away- ‘where you going dad’ I’ll be sitting in the Kayak in the garage. Okay- how should we respond? Do these events mean anything? You bet they do. First- I’m not a ‘birther’ when it comes to end times stuff- I do not teach or believe many of the Armageddon scenarios that you see in the books and movies of prophecy preachers- yet I do very much believe the bible. What did Jesus say about this stuff? In Matthew 24 Jesus says there will be signs of the end of the ‘world’ [Greek word means age- a set period of time]. The signs would include wars and lawlessness. You would have people’s hearts failing them for fear- seeing all these things. And yes- there would be an increase in earthquakes and natural disasters. I have been saying for the last few months that I believe most people do not really see the seriousness of many present world situations- the unrest on the North African continent- the very serious debt problem that plagued Europe [and still does] and the fact that other countries and even companies that rate debt risk [like Moody’s] have played with the idea that the U.S. govt. might lose its credit rating. Our debt- nearing 15 trillion- is a major risk for our economy- and if other countries begin to see us as a serious debt risk- we will indeed be in lots of trouble. Why is our govt. doing these 2 week extensions on our budget? Near the end of last year the President should have done a budget- at the time the Democrats held the House, Senate and executive branch [Like Chuck Schumer likes to say ‘all 3 branches of govt.’! Inside joke- on a Sunday talk show he did refer to these as the 3 branches of govt. obviously the 3 branches are Executive, Judicial and Legislative- not Executive, House and Senate]. The Dem’s did not do a budget. Why? It was the 1st time in years that one party controlled the Presidency, House and Senate- why not just do one? Every news person knew why- they did not want to have to face the voting public with just presenting a budget with/without cuts- they simply did not do their job- to be honest. Now, they just came off a tough health care vote- the House was also forced to vote on a disastrous ‘Energy’ bill- which thank God did not pass- especially with our present gas prices- and they felt like [They=Dem’s] they already took too many tough votes for Obama- and they did not want to do any more. So what happened? Well the Repub’s took control of the House [with a bunch of freshman Tea Partier’s] and the Dems held the Senate. Okay- will you pass one now? Actually- the best way to describe what happened is the line that Keith Olberman began running with before he quit his job at MSNBC- he immediately began saying ‘Okay Boehner- you guys are now in charge- where are the jobs’ yes- night after night this was the new message. One question- the Dem’s still held the Senate and the Executive branch- are you kidding me! But that is exactly the strategy that the President has run with- he indeed has chosen- along with the Dem’s in the Senate- to leave the cuts up to the Repub’s. They were obviously told by the insiders ‘look- we know we really need to address the debt problem- but lets ignore the thing- give no serious cut proposals- and the new Tea Party nut jobs will force the more moderate Repub’s to bite the bullet for us- and we will eventually vote for it- like our hands were tied behind our backs- and they will get the blame’. Now- will this strategy work? Probably to a degree- but the fact is it really is a total failure on the part of the president and the Dem’s- they should have passed a budget last year. Now we are in the new year- and some are saying ‘well Repub’s- the ball is in your court’. They are still the majority for heaven’s sake- present something with at least 30 billion dollars of cuts [which would be half of what the Repub’s are offering in cuts] and be serious about it. Even Joe Manchin- the new Dem. Senator has said this is exactly what the president is doing- he purposely is not presenting a real proposal [ any proposal!] and at the same time is taking the attitude of Olberman ‘you guys are in charge-you do it’. This is bad- very bad. So anyway I see all the events taking place in the world- the continued unrest with the protests [called lawlessness by Jesus in the above chapter] the earthquakes and wars and economic unrest- and in the midst of it all Jesus also said ‘when you see all this taking place- all these signs- don’t get too worried- for all these things must come to pass’. As believers we go thru stuff- the world shakes and ‘tribulates’ the Tea Bags are selling like Hot Cakes- yet we trust in God. We pray for the Japanese [it really is such a tragedy- of course their country has already experienced the worst radiation fallout in world history- thanks to the good old U.S. of A. and they are in danger of another one with their Nuclear Reactors cooling problems] and we know that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken- we are part of the great Kingdom of God- one that will endure for eternity [even if you get tempted every now and then to go sit in the Kayak in the garage].

Friday, March 11, 2011

[1618] I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna [the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’t cover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.] but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like Charlton Hesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

[1617] WISCONSIN- I’m just about to finish our short study in Exodus- will of course continue to comment on the protests going on in the world- but will probably do one more post on the Exodus thing. I am going to start a study on Islam- yes- we will be getting into areas that are confrontational, talking about the rise of radicalism- are all Muslims radical? Stuff like that. Today, Peter King- the rep. from N.Y. begins hearings on the subject. Some are calling him a modern day Joe McCarthy- others see him as a sort of hero. So we will be trying to teach what Muslims actually believe- and whether or not Islam even has one monolithic voice.

Okay- let’s see if we can discuss the current mood in the country and maybe try and mix it in with our Modernity study [yes- I still have that study to finish too]. Last night the governor of Wisconsin pulled a ‘fast one’. The state house has been in disarray for weeks- the Dems walked out- denying the quorum needed for the Repub’s to vote on the budget- and to ‘strip’ the workers of their ‘rights’. So after a few weeks of waiting, the Republicans did an end run and separated the Collective Bargaining language from the rest of the bill and passed it on a party line vote- 18 to 1. The fugitive Democrats [hiding out in Illinois] came racing back to the state and the protestors were ransacking the state house late last night. MSNBC reported that the governor single-handedly stripped the workers of 50 years of their rights. Rachel Maddow reported that the rights he took away- Collective Bargaining- had nothing to do with money or costs to the state- but they were only ‘workers rights’ [sort of like safe working conditions and stuff like that]. And the Right wingers reported it as a victory for the American taxpayer. Who’s right? Okay- my firefighter union brothers might get mad- but let me let you in on a secret. For 25 years I was involved with bargaining for our ‘rights’ [we never say we are bargaining for money- we always say ‘for the safety of the people’] over the years we mastered the procedure. Our contract with the city had ‘automatic overtime’ at one time we worked out a deal where the city had to pay us overtime- automatically- for every 2 out of 3 checks. It was a complicated change in state law that said employees working more than 40 hours a week had to get paid overtime. Well we worked 24 hours on- 48 off. We averaged 56 hours a week- and the 2 pay periods that racked up 120 hours on the time card gave us ‘automatic overtime’- one check would have 96 hours of pay- so we actually had to work a few hours at straight pay before we would even get overtime. Now- every so often a new commissioner would get elected- he would see this [as well as other deals we had made with previous commissioners] and he would want to ‘correct it’. Go ahead- try your best buddy! We would send our team down to bargain [remember- we had collective bargaining] and the city would send their team. O yeah- we were bargaining with them to reduce overtime- and if ‘our team’ were on duty that day- well yes- we called in overtime to cover the shift because we were short handed- you know- bargaining with the city. Hey- this would drag on for months- years- heck it was getting us more overtime! Well, eventually the novice councilman would catch on- realize it was no skin off our back [or money from our pockets] and he would call it a day- smart man. We also ‘bargained’ for paid holidays- the way that worked was every year the city gave their employees 7 paid days off- you know, Christmas, new years- etc. So we of course had to work those days [1 shift out of 3 would always be on duty one of those days] so we got the city to pay us overtime for that day. Even though we weren’t actually working ‘overtime’ yet we bargained for it and they paid us. Now- when you work a 24 hour shift- getting overtime would add around 5-700 hundred extra- just for that day! You say ‘what a deal’ we’ll wait. We also bargained for ‘the right’ to sell back that same holiday- yes- even if you worked the day, got paid the overtime- you could still sell the day- and get another 24 hours of overtime- for the same day. Every now and then a city leader would catch on- see the deals that were made- and they would think ‘darn it- we must change this’ okay- lets go back to ‘the bargaining table’ and O yea- more overtime!

Now- when Rachel Maddow- or Michael Moore go on national T.V. - telling the world ‘these people are just trying to hold on to their rights’ we do indeed like that. Look- all deals are not like the ones I just showed you- but many times it’s stuff like this that the management has worked with for years [like Walker’s past dealings with negotiating] and they sincerely do want to get rid of bargaining- as well as ‘bust the union’. So you have both sides doing their best to portray it in the best possible light.

A few points to keep in mind. What Walker and the Repub’s did was really not the end of the world- to be fair. Some states do not have collective bargaining [Virginia]. The public sector workers in those states do just about as well as the sates with it. Just recently, president Obama ‘arbitrarily’ froze the pay of federal employees- how could he do that! The law does not allow federal workers to have collective bargaining- so Obama did what MSNBC calls dictatorial- one man rule- a Nazi! Yes- the president did not bargain for the freeze- something that would have never passed if the workers had collective bargaining- the president had the ‘right’ to freeze their pay- the same thing that Walker wants to do in Wisconsin- have the ability to ‘freeze pay’ without having to bargain with us- you know- the overtime kings! Now do you see a little more? Now- say if Walker stripped the whole sate of collective bargaining [like other states have done] say if he even outlawed unions! What would the public sector workers have left? Would they simply be like the average Joe in the private sector- basically if you don’t like the job- leave. No- we still have what’s called ‘Civil Service protection’ what? Yes- as a firefighter- even if I had no Union- no collective bargaining- the city still couldn’t just up and fire me- I could appeal to the Civil service commission and they would hold a hearing on my case and I would either win or lose. Now- in Wisconsin you have the Civil Service protections- you have the Unions- and you still have collective bargaining [even for those who just got stripped of it- they still retain a portion of it for wages]. To describe this as some sort of outrageous overthrow of the rights of people is a bit much- but heck- if the governors/leaders want a fight- by golly we will fight- to the end! O- and we might need some overtime to do it. [we’ll do the modernity thing later].

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

[1616] EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2nd covenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.

Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumped into this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the Christopher Hitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1st Corinthians 15] that Jesus resurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2nd coming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesus rose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!

There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room- called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesus died- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have open access to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?

Monday, March 07, 2011

[1615] EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai [a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.

Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- your service to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7, Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of American Christianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

[1614] THE NEW POLICE CHIEF? - Over the last few months I have read lots of news articles on the uptick in local arrests. Just read a story on the cars auctioned that were towed during the recent road blocks- the local police blockaded various roads in town and towed lots of vehicles- the owners did indeed violate the law- they had no insurance. Many of these violators are not ‘out right’ law breakers- like all the guys I have worked with thru our ministry [I’m the director of Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries] some are just mom and pop types who live week to week on their paycheck- yet they couldn’t afford the tow fee and fine- and they lost their vehicles. And the ‘straw’ that broke the camel’s back- yesterday I saw a story about the increase in arrests on the crime of auto theft- a very serious offense. They showed how over the last few years they have sent many ‘car thieves’ to prison- for many years. The story went on to explain how the local cops have taken advantage of a program where you use dummy cars- cars that are left with the keys in them- or with goods out in the open to see- and they catch unsuspecting ‘criminals’ and after they take the car [sometimes a college kid on a prank joy ride!] then the car shuts down- the doors lock- and everything is caught on video. Yes- another criminal sent to prison for many years. I have friends who have shot people dead. Stabbed and murdered people in cold blood. Some have already done prison time and are out. Some have simply gotten away with it [they didn’t confess- all the locals know ‘so and so killed so and so’ and they realize the cops are too busy with all these other projects]. O, I forgot- the reason the D.U.I. arrests are up- is because the new chief started stationing the patrol cars at the club parking lots on the weekends- yes- you can increase the D.U.I arrests by doing this- it’s really not that hard. The question has to be asked- is the new chief really cracking down on crime [like the guys who are actually getting away with murder- because the word on the street is ‘you can kill someone- just make sure you have proof of insurance’!] We need to ask the question, have we sent some stupid college spring break kids to prison- because they saw a car with the keys in it and took it [a prank- yes wrong- yet something I did myself 35 years ago- with an old buddy- in another state]. If we have all the cops spending their time doing these types of things- yet at the same time serious murders are not being solved- then there might be a real problem here. As a retired Firefighter- I know what it’s like when a new chief comes to town [whether fire or police]. They realize their job depends on the increase in arrests and so forth- so it’s obvious to me that this new chief has mastered the game. But is he just padding his resume? I have a tremendous problem with the entrapment game with the cars. If the cops are leaving vehicles all over the place- saying ‘go ahead- try it’ then you might simply be putting college pranksters in prison- sure they ‘did it’- but geez- people have killed people- for real- and the word on the street is- the cops are too busy towing grandpas vehicle [or grandmas!] and all the time others are getting away with murder.

NOTE- I have no personal knowledge/proof of unsolved murders. Some have simply not been prosecuted- they were arrested for murder- yet they never were prosecuted. Others have done time- and other cases are ‘word of mouth’ type things- yet the ‘feeling’ is these guys are getting away with murder. We have local cases of cars pulling up- in public during the day- to other vehicles and killing the driver. These cases are all going unsolved. If the police are unable to stop these types of crimes- or solve them- then are they really cracking down on crime by doing all these other things? That’s the question that needs to be asked.