RACE RELIGION AND POLITICS A 2013
1788- WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY?
There have been a few big stories since the last post.
Giants- yeah- they did a great job. The game was a great game- especially the last 5 minutes.
For my Texas friends- us N.J. guys claim the ‘NY’ Giants as our own- they practice down the road from where I grew up in Jersey.
I used to ride my dirt bike in that area [Meadowlands] as a kid- before they developed the land.
It’s basically swamp land- but they built it up and that’s where the stadium sits- in Jersey!
Yeah- we are short on space in N.J. - so we do ‘multi-purpose’ use.
We also use the stadium as a burial ground for former Teamsters presidents [Hoffa Sr. - an inside joke].
Okay- what’s the news right now?
A big story is the Syria situation. Syria is another one of these ‘Arab Spring’ nations that has had protestors rise up in the streets [Egypt- Libya- etc.]
But this time the world community [Russia- China] are not going along with the mantra from the West ‘he is a war criminal- he is on the wrong side of history’ if I hear Susan Rice or any other top U.S. official say this again- I will move to Libya [okay- maybe not].
This past week the U.S. tried to pass a motion at the U.N. that would condemn the Syrian leader- Assad- and call for him to step down and hand the govt. over to someone else.
Now- at this point- after the track record we [Western nations- U.S.] have- whenever protestors rise up- if we don’t like the leader- we begin saying ‘he is bad- he is on the wrong side of history- just step aside- that’s reasonable’.
The result of those who take our ‘advice’ is your family and you get arrested- or you get killed- and then those who survive- even your wife- will be tried and also possibly get executed.
So- that’s why none of these remaining guys are following our lead anymore. Yemen [Salah] - Syria [Assad] and all the rest.
Now- when the U.S. pushed thru the U.N. resolution on Libya- we swore up and down that this ‘no fly zone’ mission was strictly humanitarian in nature.
Russia did not vote for this agreement- but they abstained.
After NATO and the U.S- and France- who played a pretty big role- went in- the mission turned into an all out attack on the Libyan leader.
We hunted him and his family down- we bombed his kids home multiple times and even killed his grandkids- all under the guise of a ‘no fly zone’ to protect civilians.
Okay- Russia was pissed- and they swore they would never fall for another U.S. lead effort that said anything near what the Libyan resolution said.
That’s why they voted no.
Plus Russia has had their own protestors in the streets these last few months- and we started saying some of the same stuff we said when the protestors rose up in Libya- Russia told us to shut up and mind our own business.
They see the writing on the wall- the U.S. will sing this song ‘wrong side of history- free the people’ but we only sing it when its happening with nations we don’t like.
When Bahrain and Saudi Arabia abuse their people- which they do- we sing another song- one that basically says ‘citizens should be seen- and not heard!’
So the world community has caught on- and every where we have called for the former leader to step down- well those nations are now a total mess.
This week the generals- who now run the country- have detained 19 American activists and are going to try them for instigating disharmony in the country.
One of those detained is the son of our transportation secy. Ray Lahood.
The right wing media have described this as ‘the Muslim brotherhood has taken over and they are holding Americans hostage’.
Okay- I know this plays into a very real danger- one that I have written on.
But we need to be careful that we don’t ‘over’ do this fear.
In actuality the reasons these guys are being detained is because the Generals- not the Muslim Brotherhood crowd- are mad at the U.S. because we convinced them to overthrow their pharaoh- Hosni Mubarak- and after we convinced them- their nation is in total shambles.
Egypt used to be a wonderful place to go- tourism was a top business for the country- they have all the ancient sites and artifacts from thousands of years that tourists would go see.
They were the land of the Sphinx and the pyramids- but after their ‘revolution’ they are no longer a place where tourists want to go- they lost around 90 % of their business.
They are trying their former leader- and many are calling for his execution- and his wife’s too!
These are people who wined and dined with Clinton and other presidents over the years- they were seen as friends and allies- and the U.S. basically undercut Mubarak’s rule and now he’d be lucky to escape a public hanging!
So- how did we convince the Generals to overthrow the guy?
Their top military leaders all train at West Point- yes- here in the U.S.
Our top military guys had very close connections to their military- and we went behind Mubarak’s back and convinced these military guys to remove the guy.
Now- after his removal you began having more protests in the streets- some calling for ‘justice’ on the generals- and of course their families- for not doing enough.
The generals found themselves under the same criticism as Mubarak.
And yes- Obama began using the same language about them ‘we want a just transition- the military leaders will be held accountable for any abuse of their citizens’ you know- the key phrases that mean ‘heck- maybe you and your family will be next’.
The generals saw the writing on the wall- and they are gonna try these 19 American activists- they are not gonna play the game anymore with the West.
Lets end with one more example.
One of the big stories going on right now is the possibility of Iran getting a Nuke. We- as well as Israel- have been putting pressure on Iran to drop their Nuke program.
We are treating the Nuke program of Iran as the number one danger in the world today.
We often forget that many nations have nukes- many bad nations.
Iran has 2 nations on either side that have hundreds of nukes.
Israel and Pakistan.
Pakistan is a nation whose political leaders have ‘ties’ with us- but their military and their secret service are infiltrated with groups that we are at war with [Taliban].
Pakistan is a nation with many terrorist ties- and these nukes are at great risk of getting into the hands of bad folk.
So- we should treat the Iran threat as a threat- but we need to keep the thing in balance.
Ron Paul does make some sense when he talks about Iran- I don’t agree with everything he says- but some of the stuff is true.
Okay- so it would seem like any country that came out and said ‘okay U.S.- you want us to forsake our nuke program- you deem this as the worst thing in the world- so we will agree to give them up’.
You would think that any nation that did this would become our friend- right?
Libya is the only nation in recent memory that did this.
Yes- after Bush went into Iraq and we saw his sons killed and Saddam hanged- Gadhaffi’s wife told her husband lets make a deal with this nut [Bush] before he kills us all.
Yes- this is how it happened.
And Gadhaffi contacted us- and he gave up his nuke plans.
What happened next?
He became the only leader- so far- that we actually went after with planes and bombs.
What kind of message does this send?
North Korea has people starving in the streets- they are a real enemy of the world- and treat their people badly.
Why have we never [in recent history] responded militarily?
Well John- they have nukes.
So the message is ‘if you willingly give up your nukes- we might kill you and your family- but if you have nukes- well then it’s too late- we will not do anything’.
You see- the world community watches what we do- they don’t hear what we say.
Yeah- Russia- China and a few other nations are having second thoughts- they hear all our rhetoric on ‘the wrong side of history’ and they see Gadhaffi and his grandkids in the grave.
To them- that’s the wrong side of history.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1787- PORK BBQ- SATURDAY- DOWN AT THE MOSQUE- BE THERE!
As we wrap up the week- we end with another debate over abortion.
Yesterday the news was hot over some private foundation withdrawing their funding of Planned Parenthood.
The Foundation said they changed some rules last year that said they would no longer fund any agency that was under investigation- Planned Parenthood is being investigated- so they dropped the support.
The Left say it is a conservative scheme to attack abortion providers. The agency says there are a few reasons they stopped.
I tried to listen to the actual spokesperson for the group. She said they basically are going to stop funding groups that just pass you through- groups that simply refer you to another group- and don’t really provide treatment for breast cancer.
She explained that Planned Parenthood only teaches women to do self exams- with the hand- and if they detect something- then they send you to another organization- that does mammograms and actually treats women for breast cancer.
She explained that Planned Parenthood doesn’t even have mammogram machines!
Now- in all the debate over how this private foundation withdrawing their money will cause the untold deaths of women- not one pundit explained this.
It would be like me opening a ‘clinic’ that said ‘BROKEN LEG CLININC’. And I was getting funds from a foundation whose sole purpose is to fix broken legs.
But when you come to my ‘clinic’ I look at your leg and say ‘gee- that looks bad- maybe you better go get that checked by a real doctor’.
So that’s what Planned Parenthood does- they send you off- no mammogram- no treatment- but heck- if you want an abortion [a much more dangerous procedure] they’ll do it on the spot.
Then you had the administration demand that all catholic institutions provide free contraceptives to women.
Yes- even though they gave assurances all thru last year- they swore that they would never do this- yet they did.
Bishop Dolan [N.Y.] just met with Obama and he was personally assured they would not do this- but they did.
They did it on the very same day there was a pro life rally being held in the Capitol.
The top lady who runs the health care services for the Catholic church- a woman who supported the Obama care law- she was at the march- and when Obama did this on the same day- he undercut many liberal Catholics who were told the new health law would never require this- he lied.
Why is this a big deal?
The Catholic charities in the U.S. provide tons of fee aid to all types of people- and the Catholic hospitals rate at the top of the list for hospitals in the country [and around the world].
When you put the church in a position like this- where they believe that providing contraceptives to women- for free- is a violation of conscience- then you are putting the church in a position where they just might shut down these services- at a time where more people need them now than ever.
Let’s see- Jesus often used parables- he would say ‘what can we compare this to’.
Say if we passed a law that said ‘from now on- all Mosques in the country are required to serve free Pork BBQ to all the little kids in the neighborhood every Saturday’.
And the Imam must advertise the free lunch by placing an ad every Friday in the paper.
The ad will show a picture of the prophet- standing next to this huge pit- turning the handle that rotates this succulent pig roasting on the pit.
And he is waving to all the kids- saying ‘come on down for a good ole time’.
Yeah- it would be something along these lines- to make a Catholic institution provide free contraceptives to women.
But why be surprised- a few years ago in Illinois- they tried to pass a Live Birth law.
It came to the attention of the state that there were many instances where a woman goes in for an abortion [even at Planned Parenthood] and the baby is late term.
In some cases the baby is born- alive.
When this happens- they usually leave the baby alone- crying in the bed pan- until it stops.
I read one case where the nurse could hear the baby all the way from the front- the doctor told one of the nurses to go ‘stick that thing in the closet before everybody hears’.
So sad- so very sad.
When the state legislature met to ban this practice- there was only one senator who voiced opposition to the law.
Senator Barak Obama.
Yes- when you look at a person’s record- what he says he believes- then that does carry consequences.
Sometimes those decisions will even cause people to violate their own consciences in a very severe way.
Yeah- I guess I’ll see you guys in the morning- down at the Mosque- don’t forget to bring the sauce.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1786- LET ME TELL YOU HOW A BLACK MAN SHOULD THINK!
Okay- the other day I fessed up and admitted that I watch Al Jazeera news every so often. So to balance the scales somewhat- let me admit that I also listen to NPR [radio].
Over the years NPR has received a reputation of being a biased Liberal outfit. But to be honest most of the ‘hard news’ is pretty good.
So the other day I had it on- but it was on the weekend and I couldn’t catch the news.
So I realized I was catching the tail end of some European travel show. Okay- I’ll give it a shot.
The host is singing the praises of traveling/visiting France.
He has on a few guests who can’t get over the wonders of the European world- compared to us.
One guy shared how he was on vacation with his buddy and they came across a stranded woman motorist. They got out and assisted as best as they could.
Within minutes the tow truck showed up- she also kissed both men before she left- as a family type thing [they do this by the way- I was in Switzerland a few years ago and the hostess of the Christian home I was at did kiss you on the cheek before you went to bed!]
And the host went on and said that in France they even have laws where the Taxis must assist female stranded women- and all sorts of wonderful things we don’t do here in the U.S.
Okay- I was starting to hear that Lib bias come out. But wait!
Yes- some guy called in and shared how he was pick pocketed while getting on the train. Oh My!
For a moment it sounded like it might be a negative story- hmm?
He went on to say that these young boys- he almost described them as his grandkids- they had a little scheme where they would distract you and one kid would snatch the wallet.
So he ran out the train door- and lo and behold there were 3 undercover cops- right there- who caught these little hoodlums.
They rode in the ‘Paddy wagon’ together- all the way to the police station. Yes- the victim rode with the robbers- and he said they were bumping knees together- like family- on the way.
He said at the station he got his stuff back- the kids walked out the door- and they waved goodbye as they left.
The host of the show said ‘gee- it’s almost like a fun sport- like what they were doing had no real danger- almost like friends’.
Yes- the victim went on and agreed- no real danger- not like in the U.S. - where you might encounter a knife or gun.
The host even described it in a way where he said ‘geez- these kids are all suffering from hard economic times- and they really treat their ‘victims’ well- I mean you would almost expect them to do this- out of necessity!’
Yeah- my ‘non liberal’ NPR- they turned on me- big time.
Okay- the point?
As the week roles on by- we are continually being treated to those in the media who feel like their ‘side’ justifies their arrogance- bigotry- and flat out false reporting.
I saw a clip where Soledad Obrien [CNN] was interviewing Rep. West [Fla.].
Now- Col. West is a patriot- served over 20 years honorably in the military- and sure- he is somewhat of a Tea Party favorite.
But he of course leans right- a big no no for a Black man!
Soledad- an Obama supporter- accuses West of not thinking/acting like a good Black man should- after all he never called Bush a ‘food stamp president’!
She puts up a chart- which indeed shows how food stamp usage increased more under Bush than Obama!
Aha Mr. Black man- what do you say to that?
Of course when you ambush someone like that- using skewed numbers- you catch the guy off guard- and you make him look ignorant [something that normally would be frowned upon if a White reporter did this to a Black man on the left.]
She finished the interview having made the man look bad.
What’s wrong then John?
Well- she used the results of 8 years of Bush- compared to 3 years of Obama.
If you annualized the numbers- food stamp usage under Obama is going up about 12% a year- Bush- 8%.
Now- whether you like West or not- agree with the left or the right- either way- you should not justify ‘lying’ like this- especially when you’re using this tactic against a Black man whom your accusing of not ‘acting Black’.
Last one- the other day I was watching the Martin Bashir show on MSNBC. He had on Eric Dyson- a Black activist and scholar. I have heard him before- and I like him.
He is on the left- he is one of the Black leaders who has been critical of Obama because he feels Obama does not stick up for Black causes the way any President should- regardless of his race.
Tavis Smiley- Cornell West- and a few other Black leaders hold this view.
So on Bashir’s show he is explaining all the hidden meanings behind the term ‘Food Stamp President’ and Dyson- who is an intellectual- went down this laundry list of racial slurs.
I mean he had hidden meanings that I never even heard of before.
When he was finished ‘exposing’ all the things that Newt was really saying when he used this term- Bashir simply said ‘wow- it’s amazing how that one little term can hold all those racial meanings’.
It sure is- about as amazing as turning pick pocketing hoodlums into the nicest little boys you ever could meet- almost like family.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John
1785- CASTRO SPEAKS
Right after yesterdays post on the economy- CBO put out some numbers- they were even worse than what I had written.
CBO [congressional budget office] estimated growth for the year at about 2.2%.
I used another estimate that said 2.5%
As I watched the talking heads go about their spin- one said that we are now in the 3rd year of the Recovery.
What? The last recession we had [before the so called Great recession] top unemployment hit just under 7 %.
Yes- the worst was under 7.
We are now supposedly in the 3rd year of the recovery- and the number is 8.5 [most say the actual number is over 10- when they do these numbers they don’t take into account those who have given up in despair].
Yesterday the president was at some campaign stop and he was talking about how all the high tech companies can’t find enough qualified workers- he went on and on about all these U.S. companies just pulling their hair out because they have so much business demand- and yet not a single unemployed person to fill the spot.
Why say this? Why try and portray a false image like this? Because if you can somehow convince the public that this last year of Obama’s term- that everything is turning around- that the recovery summer has finally arrived- then you persuade the public that all is well and the Consumer Confidence picks up.
During the question time a woman said ‘my husband is in this industry- an engineer- and he has been unable to find work in 3 years- his friends as well’.
The pres was taken aback some- he inquired exactly what type of engineer he was- and he said ‘that’s strange- because all the high tech people I talk to keep telling me the business and economy are roaring- so much that they can’t even scrub up a single employee to take the job’ [paraphrase- want to be honest here!]
He than directed the woman to send him her husband’s resume- you know- to prove how these people were mistaken- and he will prove that by getting him a job.
Now- what are the odds that this guy won’t get a job? Which high tech business person- who supports the president- maybe has given a few million to the campaign- will he tell Obama ‘no- can’t fit the guy in’?
The point is the scenario that this election year spin will be is one in which everything is turning around- all the numbers are on the rise- businesses can’t find enough people to put to work.
But in the real world that is not the case- and it’s important that we ‘live’ in the real world- not in the spin world of the media- the Right- the Left- or any other group.
Yesterday morning on MSNBC- the Joe Scarborough show- they had a guest on- a political guy for the Politico. He spoke about the election in Florida- he referred to the Southern White vote as ‘Crackers’.
This from a network that was incensed that Gingrich said ‘Food Stamp President’. Yet the slang term for ‘White Trash’ is totally acceptable- it plays into their story line.
The line that says those in the South who vote against Obama are primarily White Confederate Flag nut jobs- who are all racists.
The other day I was watching Al Jazeera news [you know- like Bachmann said when she worked for the I.R.S.- you need to know the enemy!]
Yes- they had on a serious report- no joking or anything- and it was a statement from former Cuban dictator Castro- his comment was on the Repub debates and the U.S. political scene right now- he said ‘this is the biggest competition of idiocy that I have ever seen in my life’.
I fear he may be right.
1784- 4TH QUARTER
Okay- it’s the end of the month and I have yet to comment on the last quarter of last year.
Those of you who have read my posts near the end of the year- you saw that I was more bearish than bullish on the economy.
Some smart guys were beginning to say they felt the last 3 months of the year might show a 3.5 percent growth rate.
I did think these guys were too ‘exuberant’ [Greenspans Irrational exuberance- remember?] But I figured I’d wait and see- and sure enough the numbers are out- and I was ‘more’ right than them.
The economy grew at a 2.8 annualized rate in the last quarter- not good at all.
The Fed is now predicting that for 2012 we will see about 2.5 percent growth for the year.
And some are now saying that we might even slip below the 2 % mark in the first quarter.
Simply put- these numbers mean we are not going to see the economy heat up any time soon.
The Euro zone?
Yes- the credit rating agencies are all downgrading these shaky European economies. Greece is still trying to solve its debt crisis.
Let me give you a local example of how this affects our own economy.
Here where I live I am surrounded by Naval Air bases. I used to be stationed at the one in Kingsville- and I live about 200 yards from the one in Corpus Christi.
About 20 miles across the bay- if I walk down the block and look over- I can see the former base that was in Ingleside. This was a newer base that did all the training for our mine warfare guys.
So a few years ago this base fell victim to the base closure commission and it got wacked.
So the Port commissioners and the local govt. guys have been trying to sell the property and get a good company to utilize this valuable space.
As I have been reading the local news I saw that the last company that put down a non refundable million dollar down payment- they missed the deadline- 3 times- to come up with the rest of the cash.
I thought why would anybody put down a million dollar non refundable down payment on something that they don’t have the money for.
Then I saw that the investors did have the money- but some of it is tied up in the European banking system- and they can’t get a good exchange for the money into U.S. currency.
Everybody with any sense has already cashed in as much of their Euros as possible. These governments are at a point where they might go bust- Greece is trying to convince their bond holders to take a 60% hit on their bonds- and the payout will be longer- and at a lower rate.
So this small deal that did not go thru where I live- was indeed a victim of the Euro Zone crisis.
When you add this in with the less than stellar economic numbers- then I don’t see how we will mount any type of real recovery for this year.
Then why is the DOW up to around 12,600?
If you ask me- that’s a bubble.
But as I watched the news over the last month- I have seen many reports of how good the economic numbers were- and they even reported ‘good news’ about the jobs numbers.
I remember during the Bush years- when unemployment was around 5 %- some news folk reported it as bad.
We are at 8.5- and they are actually saying this is good.
So the media have a way of selling us stuff- stuff that we don’t- or should not want- and we buy.
I’ll end with one last example. A few years back during the first big financial crash of the current time- many people lost tons of money overnight- we have never made up the trillions that were wiped off the books.
Now- at the time it was common to read your 401 k statement and see a huge hit.
I saw/read a report how some investors were actually putting their money into money market accounts that guaranteed a loss.
Yes- the money market said up front ‘you put in 1 dollar- we will pay you less than a dollar when you take it out’.
Why would people do this?
Because they were told ‘geez- you can’t put your money under the bed’.
Well yes- if you took all your money and stuck in under the bed- over time inflation would eat up all your buying power- and your money would lose value.
But if you are putting it into an account- that says up front ‘we guarantee you that you will lose some value’ then you would be better off under the bed.
1782- PROTESTANT REFORMATION CONCLUSION
Today let’s finish up the study on the Protestant Reformation. We left off on Luther disputing with the church over the doctrine of how a person becomes just in the sight of God- is it by works or faith?
Now- to the surprise of many Protestants [and Catholics!] both sides agreed that a person cannot be justified by works.
Yes- the Catholic Church rejected what was known as Pelagianism. In the early centuries of the church there was a Catholic priest- named Pelagius- who taught that people had the ability within themselves to obey Gods law and become saved that way.
He rejected the doctrine of original sin and another famous bishop- Saint Augustine- would refute Pelagius and teach salvation comes by the Grace of God. The official Catholic position was to reject Pelagius and accept Augustine.
Okay- then where’s the difference?
The church council that spells it out is the Council of Trent [named after the Italian city where the council took place in the 1500’s- Trento].
This council is often referred to as the Counter Reformation. The church rejected the Protestant line- but also acknowledged the need for reform and made some changes.
This is the council where the church rejects Pelagianism- and also says the position of Luther [Justification by Faith ALONE] was flawed.
The church appealed to the New Testament letter of Saint James- where James uses an example from the life of Abraham [found in Genesis 22] where Abraham obeys God and is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar.
Of course this never happens- God was simply testing Abraham- but James says this act of obedience justified him in Gods sight.
James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not by faith ALONE’.
The argument from Rome was Faith played THE major role in justification- but was not sufficient by itself- there had to be righteous works eventually associated with it in order for God to say ‘you are just’ [saved].
Luther disagreed and said God justified Abraham before he had good works- we find this in Genesis 15. God says to Abraham ‘look- count all the stars- so shall your offspring be’ and Walla- the bible also says Abraham was justified in God's eyes the moment he believed the promise.
Actually they both are.
I have taught this a few times over the years- and it would take too much time to re-do right now.
But I believe James and Paul [the 2 who debate this in the bible] are simply looking at different aspects of salvation/justification.
Paul emphasized faith- and James showed us how true faith always has works with it.
When you read the statements that came out from the council of Trent- some of them do seem to indicate that both sides might have been talking past each other at some points.
In the heat of the day they were too quick to condemn the other side- without really trying hard to achieve unity [like politics!].
The 6th session of Trent was the one where the church dealt with justification [how we become saved in Gods sight].
Rome made a distinction between mortal and Venial sin in the council- the church said that Baptism is the INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE of justification. Yet faith is the Root- Foundation and Initial act that justifies.
Rome also taught that Mortal sin kills the grace in the soul that brings justification- and when a person commits a mortal sin- they need the ‘2nd plank of justification’ in order to be brought back into a state of Grace.
This 2nd Plank is the Sacrament of Penance [confession]. Catholic Moral Theologians use an example to show the difference between Mortal and Venial sin.
Drinking- if you take a drink [alcohol] not a sin. If you get tipsy- Venial- and if you get flat drunk- mortal.
This is a true teaching by the way- not making this up.
Catholic scholars are not in total agreement on all the Mortal/Venial sins.
Some teach that missing Mass on Sunday is a Mortal sin.
I just threw this in to show you the debates that take place.
The teachings from Trent are referred to as Tridentine.
The Protestants [early on] rejected the belief that a person can lose Gods grace once he has it- later on the Protestants would divide- severely- over this teaching- Predestination and the Perseverance of the Saints.
But early on all the major Reformers did indeed teach this.
Luther believed in the doctrine of Predestination just as much- if not more- than John Calvin.
But sometimes in these history shows they get this wrong and say Luther and Calvin disagreed on it- that’s a common mistake that you hear every so often.
Luther actually wrote a book dedicated to the subject [The Bondage of the Will] Calvin never wrote a book solely on the subject.
Okay- as we end this brief study of the Protestant Reformation- you could also call it a primer on Catholic doctrine [short one].
Why is it important that we study this?
In John chapter 17 Jesus said that he desired unity for all of Gods people- and many of these divisions- which date back 500 years- are commonly misunderstood on both sides.
It is common in our day to run across an ex Catholic who might say ‘you know- I left the church because I don’t believe I need to confess to a priest’ or ‘the Catholic church teaches you are saved by works’.
The original Reformers did not have a problem with confession- the Lutherans carried the practice over into their communion.
And like I just showed you- the Catholic church rejected the doctrine of being saved ‘by works’ [Pelagianism] and simply emphasized the teaching found in the bible- the book of James- and focused more on James than Paul [who the protestants focus on].
So yes- there are still differences- but if we are not informed- then it makes it harder to strive for unity- and at the end of the day God does desire unity for all his people.
The other day I quoted the great Civil rights leader- MLK. In one of his famous speeches that’s played when we celebrate his life- you hear Martin say that not only was he seeking unity among the races- but also in the church.
He said he wanted to see Catholics and Protestants- as well as Blacks and Whites- sit down together- he referred to us all as Gods kids.
I think we should strive to achieve the desire of Martin- and Jesus.
1781- MAJORITY RULE?
I was going to finish the last post on the Protestant Reformation study we started last month- but we do have a few news items that I think we should cover.
First- for those of you who haven’t read my posts for a while- you need to know that I critique both Repubs and Dems- sometimes severely.
For instance I was [am] a very ‘anti war’ person. I felt the Iraq war- and the long land occupation in Afghanistan were bad mistakes.
I do feel we were indeed justified to ‘hit back’ after 9-11- but the massive ground wars- and all the various reasons given- well I just felt the strategy was flawed.
I also have sided with Progressives on immigration- I take a very non conservative- pro liberal view on immigration- almost to the degree of being a ‘Sanctuary City’ supporter- yeah- that bad.
So I say that to say this- when I critique the President- trust me- I have done it with both sides of the aisle.
Yesterday I read a scathing column by Maureen Dowd [NY Times] and she described the President as someone who was aloof- isolated and has surrounded himself with Chicago insider friends- who all tell him that the American people are not worthy of him.
Now- for whatever reason- just about all the articles Dowd has done this past year have been strongly criticizing Obama.
Dowd- as well as the whole N.Y. Times crew- are pretty liberal in their politics.
Then why do this?
Another NY Times reporter just put out a book on Obama- she said basically the same thing- and she covered the internal conflicts in the White House- things between Michele Obama and the staff [former chief of staff Rahm Immanuel].
The book [The Obama’s] was basically a tell all. She talked about some heated arguments that the staff had over Michele.
When Michele Obama was asked about the portrayal- she said that she’s tired of other people [White people] calling her an angry Black woman.
I heard Jodie say she did not understand why she said this- because in the book she does not bring up color- simply reported the facts.
The progressive media [liberal view] love to use the race card against those on the right [I am not on the right!] but if you dare use it against them- they become incensed [Geraldine Ferraro- Bill- Hillary Clinton- etc.]
So for various reasons- the more liberal media have decided to not back Obama the way they did at the start.
Now- the point here is not simply political gossip- but the reality of how much we see/read in the news is truly honest- and how much is spin that prevents the true story from coming out.
These past few weeks we have had some disturbing news about the so called Arab Spring countries.
Egypt held their first parliamentary elections and voted in a majority of Islamists. Now- many have said that sure- the Muslim Brotherhood has made great gains- but that’s ‘the will of the people’.
I heard former pres Jimmy Carter say this.
His team went over to monitor the elections [he has a group that does this] and they said ‘yes- the Muslims took over- but we must all respect the voice of the people- if that’s what the majority wants- then that’s a great thing’.
What’s wrong with this? The fact is the Muslim Brotherhood do want to institute Shariah law in the land.
Now- many have chosen to work with this group [Obama has] and the simple reality is they are a force and we will have to deal with them some day.
So fine- I understand.
But how many of us would be singing the praises of a right wing Christian group- who wanted to institute law based on the 10 commandments- and wherever this law is already enacted they execute gays- subjugate women- and even kill the women who commit ‘adultery’ [which in some cases means you were raped].
Now- that’s Shariah law. Would Carter be saying ‘well- if that’s what the Americans want- to vote in a bunch of right wing Christians who will do this- then we must respect that this is the voice of the people’.
Where are the voices defending those who are being oppressed and killed under these regimes.
Our ‘dear friends’ in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain- they are all guilty of these human rights abuses- yet we are silent.
It so sad that Carter- and those in the media who I have heard praising the fact that this is ‘the voice of the people’.
It makes no difference if the majority wanted it- if what they want is still oppressive- then we should not be so quick to praise it.
I read 2 stories this week about Libya- the headlines were ‘Gadhaffi’s forces take back city’.
I thought the guy was dead.
Well yes- he is. But his side have regrouped and did take back a key city in the West- Banni Walid.
Now- for them to have done this is big news- but you wouldn’t know that by the coverage- because the media are not truly covering it [the articles I read were small and hidden in the back pages].
The other Libyan article was even more surprising- protestors rose up in the Eastern city of Ben Ghazi- a city that has been under Rebel Influence for many years- this is the eastern City that sparked the original protests.
People rose up and stormed the official government headquarters and ransacked the place.
The new leader of the country was hiding in the back.
Iraq- since we pulled out a few weeks ago- that country is rapidly descending into a Civil War and it looks like they will split up between the Kurds- the Sunni’s and the Shiites.
Hate to admit this- but Biden was right.
So- after this bad track record- all the places where we have backed the Arab Spring- they are worse off now than before- that’s a fact.
They are more unstable- the Christian population is in much more danger- and none of them have been able to elect and institute a better regime than the one they kicked out.
So what are we doing about that?
Nothing- instead we are continuing with our call for ‘you bad leaders need to step down’ [Syria].
Many people in Syria do not want Assad to go- many of the Christians in the country fear that if he topples- they will face the same persecution that their brothers are facing in Egypt.
When the Islamist parties take over- that’s terrible for the Christian minorities in these countries.
So why no big media coverage of the failures over these things?
It just would not look good for Obama in an election year.
But like I said at the top- some are growing tired of what they see as an aloof president [the liberal press said this- not the right] and as they grow tired they begin reporting the stuff- both the good and the bad.
I have no appetite for how many arguments Michele Obama had with Rahm Emmanuel- or how ‘depressed’ Obama is [the Times almost ran a story on this- they decided not to run it].
But I am concerned that we report the truth about the Arab Spring- that if the toppling of these leaders has lead to great instability- and the death of many Christians- then we should not be saying ‘well- this is the will of the people’.
Whether or not the majority agree to oppress the minority- it’s still wrong- and it’s a shame that the Western media won’t report it.
1780- KENYAN MUSLIM- OPEN MARRIAGE- AND SAUL ALYNSKI
Last night we had another Repub debate. As the week wore on we were also treated to all the various views that divide the right from the left in our country.
Some elderly woman referred to Obama as a Kenyan Muslim during a Santorum rally.
John King ‘infamously’ began a debate by asking Newt whether or not his ex was telling the truth when she says he wanted an open marriage.
And Newt mentioned that Obama is a radical after his mentor Saul Alynski.
To those ‘in the know’ well- we have heard this name before- as a news consumer who comments on all things political- well I’ll admit I listen to all sides.
One of the biggest ‘sides’ to hear is Rush. He is the most influential radio host in the right wing world.
I also listen to the voices on the left- I watch Al Jazeera news [not left per se- but they air on Link TV- a progressive media station] as well as Gores Current TV network.
So over the last few years Alynski has come up a lot.
He is basically this guy who gave Rules- procedures to implement change on a big scale.
Many on the left used his book to try and change stuff- and Obama has been influenced by his writings before.
So when you drop the name- you’re basically playing into the narrative that Obama is a left wing radical.
Of course the left goes ballistic when ever some old white lady thinks Obama is Muslim ‘how dare anyone ever even think this!’
Why do some people [not me] think this?
This last year I have watched some on the left try to depict our President as a young Black kid who was brought up by a single mom- played basketball and hung out with his friends at the corner inner city park- and when this narrative is given- it’s contrasted with the rights ‘picture’ of Obama as a different type of person.
The left defends Obama against the rights false view of him.
Now- as someone who does not hate the Pres- and also has taken the Pres at his word on both the Muslim thing and the Birth Certificate thing- I must admit that some on the right have some ‘evidence’ to go by when they perceive Obama as a different type of person.
Now- when I say ‘different’ I mean the upbringing of Obama was not the classic ‘grew up in the inner city’ type upbringing. Now- I don’t use the ‘inner city’ story/view when I speak about our Pres- because not only is that an incorrect view- but those on the left that use it [MSNBC- Matthews] do not realize that their very use of the narrative is in itself racist.
For anyone- on the left r right- to try and defend a Black man by saying ‘look- he’s just like any other Black kid USA- hung out in the ghetto with his buddies’ geez- you call that a defense of the Black Man?
But the actual story of Obama is different- and there are certain aspects of it that do play into the Kenyan/Muslim theme.
First- the president was raised most of his life in Hawaii [not Chicago] and as a young kid he did live in Indonesia for a few years- Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.
He did indeed go to school with Muslim boys- and spent a few years in this type of environment.
Second- Obama said on national TV ‘My Muslim Faith’.
3rd- Hillary Clinton released a picture of Obama during the campaign that showed Obama in full Muslim garb.
4th- Obama wrote a book- Dreams of my Father- in which he explained his journey as a kid who grew up without his dad in the home- and how he later came to learn his father’s struggle- a different one than the Black Civil rights struggle in our country- but yet a struggle for the Black man to be free from Colonial rule.
Kenya- as many other African countries- was ruled by European powers for many years.
These Black families were actually raised with another man’s culture as theirs- that’s why in the war in Libya- you had Gadhaffi using mercenaries that came from the Sub Saharan part of the continent- and these Black fighters spoke French!
So Obama explained- not in a bad way- that he came to grips with his father’s struggle- called anti colonialism- and how he also came to respect his culture as he grew up.
Now- his dad of course is Muslim- he named Obama with an openly Muslim type name- and Obama has made statements that he is Muslim.
One more thing- before Obama started running for pres- he told an ambassador from another country [Egypt?] that his faith too was Muslim.
This political figure has stayed by this story till this day.
Okay- after reading all this- the question might be ‘how can anybody think he is not Muslim!’
Like I said- I give the pres the benefit of the doubt- but it would not be a stretch for some elderly White woman to think this- and when the media act like ‘where in the world would anybody ever get an idea like this- or how could anyone ever think that Obama might be ‘anti- colonial’.
Well you can see where these ideas come from- and they are not as far out there as some would make you think.
Okay- these things- and the medias unwillingness to truly vet Obama during his run for pres- I mean Obama said in one of his books that he did ‘a little blow’ in college [Cocaine].
There was never one question on ‘where did you get the blow from’ or ‘how long did you use’ or ‘how much is a little’.
I mean it is illegal to do- and if you open up a pres debate by asking ‘your ex wife says’ well than you might want to ask- just once- how did you obtain the blow.
But the media steered clear of anything that might be deemed racially tinged- and they gave Obama a pass.
So that’s why the Gingrich line works so well- his attack against the medias love affair with the pres- most discerning news watchers see this.
But wait- if you only watch MSNBC- you would think that Obama grew up in the inner city- shooting hoops with his buddies at the corner park- yeah- if you watch MSNBC that’s what you might think- and you wouldn’t even know that a thought like that is racist.
1779- KEN ANDERSON [district judge- Williamson county- TX] TEXAS SIZED INJUSTICE
Yesterday I read another Texas ‘Justice’ [injustice] story and thought it was time to do another post on this problem.
The case was about a disabled deaf man- who only spoke thru sign language [can’t really defend yourself that way in court].
He was accused of molesting a child and sent to prison for many years. Eventually another person who had committed multiple child molestation crimes was found to be guilty instead.
It took many years for the real evidence to come out- and they finally freed the innocent man.
The statement from the prosecutor who wrongly convicted him said ‘that’s what we do in Texas- we free the innocent and put the guilty in prison’. Huh?
And just how did the innocent get put in prison? You framed the guy- that’s how.
Another famous case is the case of Michael Morton. I have read abut 3-4 articles on this case this past year.
Morton was a young man married to his high school sweetheart. He had a young son and one night he went to work and when he got home the next day he found his wife- dead in their home.
He called the cops and also reported that her purse was stolen.
The investigators also found a bloody bandana in a field behind the home and the 3.5 year old son told the police that another man killed his mom- not his dad.
Despite all of this- prosecutor KEN ANDERSON- got a conviction on the guy and sent him away.
They said he killed his wife because she refused to have sex with him [how in the heck did they come up with that?]
He always maintained his innocence and after many years of fighting to get the bandana tested for DNA- KEN ANDERSON fought to keep it from being tested- they found the DNA of another man- who had already committed similar crimes- on the bandana.
The lawyers for Morton also found out that the prosecutor withheld the fact that the son told the investigators that another person killed his mom.
Even the mother of the victim said she thought her son and law was innocent.
Morton was recently released- he is now 57- he was a young man when he went to prison.
His son- and his family all went on with their lives without him- thinking he was the killer of the mom.
It was also revealed that the cops knew that the wife’s credit card- the card the husband said was stolen- was indeed used a few days after the murder.
The prosecutor- now a district judge- obviously engaged in deception in this case.
Yet he sits on the bench today- still acting in his capacity as a judge.
These past few years as I have read lots of the cases of innocent people being framed by Texas courts- I have come to see that in many of these cases- when the prosecutors take a stance in court and say ‘this man killed his wife’ or ‘this man molested this child’ when they do this- and it’s an innocent man they are accusing- the bible does indeed call this a serious sin.
It is baring false witness- under oath.
Now- many Christians- even those in these positions- do not realize the seriousness of this offense.
This act of taking the position of the accuser is not a biblical principle of justice found in scripture.
The biblical system of law and courts found in the bible- the one instituted by God- does speak about having 2 or more witnesses in a case- and of course we have a judge who decides- but there is no accuser- who actually makes a false charge against an innocent man- yet this act happens a lot in our current system.
I believe cases like Morton’s should carry criminal penalties against the accuser/prosecutor- especially if it is found out later that he engaged in unlawful activity to obtain the conviction- and then did all in his power to suppress the evidence from coming out.
Anderson fought for 7 years to prevent the bandana from being tested.
It is inconceivable for Anderson to have been aware of the use of the dead woman’s card- and the fact that other witnesses said there was a strange man roaming the area that night- and then to have the bloody bandana found in the field.
For all of this evidence to have been known by him- and to still go after the husband- it is truly criminal in my view.
As Christians- yes we believe in justice and law- but to convict a disabled deaf man- because he can’t really defend himself- or to send an innocent man away for all those years- for others to have raised his son- this is not just- this is unjust.
1778- TO DIG [PIPE] OR NOT- THAT IS THE QUESTION
Okay- hate to carry over the last post- but I figured we gave Schettino a day to gather his thoughts- maybe realize the error of his way and man up.
So as I watched the news coverage- the Japanese animated videos that depict the Captain in a life boat- yelling back to the ship ‘stay on board’ and then the animation of him walking the plank- I realized things are not playing well for my Italian friend.
Then the last straw- word came out that Schettino told the authorities that he was not abandoning ship- but as the boat rocked he slipped and fell into the lifeboat.
Oh my poor Schettino- please stop- for the love of our homeland- please!
Okay I saw the ‘big’ news of the day- Obama decided not to go ahead with the Canadian oil sands pipeline.
This pipeline was a deal that was in the works for a few years. Canada has lots of this type of oil and they wanted to pipe it down to the gulf states [I think here in Tx.?] so we could refine the stuff.
This last year it became a hot button issue for both Repubs and the Pres.
The Repubs said it would be a jobs maker- and also help with our oil supply.
Some Dems [environmentalists] said it would be a bad thing. Though you did have some union guys who wanted it.
As a news watcher/reader- what most of the insiders thought was that the deal was going to pass- and the Obama administration did ‘signal’ to Canada that the deal would be on- just wait a little while [politics].
Of course if you have a major deal like this- the company does need to know ahead of time so they can make the preparations and all.
So when Obama said no yesterday- it was a surprise. Canada put out a statement and said they would re submit the application- and they ‘expected’ that it would be approved quickly.
They sounded mad- like they did indeed get the assurance that it would go thru- and then it didn’t.
Why did the Pres say no?
Well he says the 2 months ‘limit’ on his decision [imposed by congress] was not enough time to study whether or not it was an environmentally safe deal.
It should be noted that the EPA- who this last year has been known to make ‘over’ protective decisions- did approve this plan.
The Presidents job council recently recommended that it should pass.
And some pro Obama supporters did want it.
The Pres. has made the decision [this has been reported] to go hard this campaign year against congress- kind of stir up his base and show himself as someone not to be pushed around- so it is possible that’s what he did here.
Real big deal? Not really- but political.
While this deal wasn’t as great as those on the right made it sound- it also wasn’t a bad thing.
Right now we are very close to a shooting war with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Why?
1-5th of the world’s oil is shipped thru this waterway [from the Persian Gulf].
So the U.S. has a Naval port off Bahrain- and we have treated this waterway as a national defense issue- that if Iran [or any other nation] ever threatened to close the waterway- that we would go to war if necessary to defend it.
Okay- just as a policy- say if I told you that there was gas for your car down the street- that the field down your block had a lot of gas- but we need to dig it up and it might be a mess- maybe it might pollute the air down the block- but that’s the cost for the stuff.
Then you say ‘wait- what about that field across the lake- if we dig there it won’t look as bad as the field down the block’.
Okay- but the owner of that field actually hates you- they will use some of the money you will pay to promote terrorists who will someday kill your kids- Oh- and the lake is filled with dangerous stuff- so we will also have to patrol the lake for ever- just to make sure no one stops the oil ships crossing back over.
So as an overall policy- we have chosen to limit the environmental danger- and the price way pay for this is very high.
So we as a nation have to decide what’s more vital- the lives of our kids on these ships- or the risk of a possible oil spill from a pipe.
These issues usually get lost on the right or the left- but if the country can’t have a serious discussion- then in the end we all will lose.
We will be just like Schettino- looking for that life boat.
1777- SHIP WRECK
By now I’m sure you have all heard the audio conversation between the captain of the Italian cruise ship and the Coast guard.
As a news watcher- when I first heard the tragic story- I thought ‘geez- let me give the Italian brother a break’ you know- as an Italian myself- yeah- I want to root as much as possible for the home land.
I’m still mad that I don’t have a Churchill or FDR figure in my past history.
Sure- I’ve read the history- and for a short time as a kid I tried to convince myself that El Duce had some honorable qualities- but heck- who was I kidding.
So as the story broke- I heard Captain Schettino’s side of it. He insisted he acted heroically- that he was the last man off the ship and he struck something in the water that no one knew was there [Italian Loch Ness?]
But the audio recording told the whole thing. Yes- I sat in anticipation- hoping for the best- maybe hearing the Captain saying ‘I refuse to abandon ship- for the love of homeland and country’ heck- you never know.
But as I heard the Coast guard telling the captain ‘get back on the ship- what are you doing’.
Schettino said it was dark and they had no lights.
The guard says ‘you have people stuck on the ship- some are dying’.
Captain ‘how many are on the ship’?
Guard ‘I don’t know Schettino- you are supposed to be telling me’!
Damn it Schettino- damn it.
Okay- don’t want to make fun- yes- it’s tragic- and people have died. But obviously we need to have some better policing of these cruise ship guys- it seems as if they have gone off course before- doing a favor for a fellow crew member- and these guys messed up big time.
Are there any famous ship wreck stories in the bible? Sure- Acts chapter 27.
The apostle Paul is on his way to Rome- he is a prisoner at the time.
The ship they are on gets caught up in a storm- things look bad.
Paul prays and tells his shipmates ‘don’t worry- an angel appeared to me and assured me that we will all survive’.
They try to last the storm out by staying afloat from shore- then after a few days they try to make it for land- to beach the ship.
But some of the crew try a daring stunt- they pretend they are going to lower some anchors but instead they are lowering their little get away lifeboats [yes- they were pulling a Schettino!]
And Paul tells the Roman soldier ‘look- the angel said we will all make it- but the deal will only work if everyone stays on the ship’.
They cut the ropes to the lifeboat and head for shore.
On the way they hit a reef and the ship gets stuck and starts to break up.
They abandon ship- and swim to shore.
Okay- good story.
By the way- this chapter gives lots of historical events and places.
A few years ago an archeologist read this story form the bible and traced down the exact spot where the wreck might be- 2 thousand years later.
He found the actual anchors to the boat.
So this week hasn’t been the best for the reputation of my homeland- I mean the S and P just can’t wait to downgrade the debt- and then we have to hear old brother Schettino being rebuked by the Coast Guard ‘Schettino- okay- get on our boat- but your gonna be in big trouble’.
Yes Schettino- you sure are.
1776- HE’S JUST WEIRD
Yesterday I caught the 15th Repub debate [too many!] and you had the questioners and pres. hopefuls try their best.
Juan Williams [the Black Fox news guy] did ask a question that has come up before on a reference Newt uses ‘Obama is the food stamp pres.’
Now- when this first came out- Newt and others defended the phrase- they said that more people have been put on food stamps under Obama than any other pres.
The other view said that Newt is playing to the racist crowd- in an underhanded way- and the term is really a race thing.
Okay- what do I think? I have no idea- nor does anybody else. So instead of insisting it’s a racist thing- just let the people judge.
Those in the Black community will be voting over 90% for Obama- is this just because he is Black?
Some say ‘no- we vote Dem historically’ okay- but in politics- if you had 97 % of Whites refusing to vote for a Black man- well you would call that racist.
This past Friday the S and P downgraded 9 European countries debt. France, Italy- Spain- a few more.
Now- this was no surprise- but some were hoping it would not come so soon.
Then why did it happen?
The ratings agency said the actions the Euro Zone countries are taking are simply not sufficient enough to deal with the problem.
The numbers also came out on our trade deficit- they showed that our sales to Europe went down a lot- more than expected. So the growing Euro recession is indeed going to have an effect on the U.S. economy.
One of the nations that got downgraded was France. France and Germany are the 2 biggest contributors to the bailout fund for the other nations.
Frances downgrade will make it more expensive for them to borrow- and will put pressure on the bailout fund. Germany was not downgraded.
As I watch the news- survey the scene for this coming year- I see a lot of denial- in politics- economics- etc.
I see both sides of the aisle justifying their skewed views in order to promote- or attack- the side they don’t like.
I saw a clip of some sick guy in a wheel chair- weighed about 80 pounds- he’s wheeled up to Romney. He's asking him a question at some campaign rally.
You can barely hear the guy- he’s sick and weak and frail. The question ‘do you really want to put me in jail because I need to smoke weed to live’.
After a few more times repeating the question- Romney catches on.
He does tell the man- in a nice way- that he does not support medical marijuana.
So as Romney walks away- his liberal buddy shouts ‘are you going to walk away from a man who’s in a wheel chair and ignore his plight’!
Yea- you tell him Mr. righteous.
Romney says he didn’t ignore him- he answered him.
Then you had the little girl ask Bachman why she did not want her 2 mommies to love each other.
And the other night- one of the major news networks was covering the gay marriage issue- they showed 2 of the sweetest grandmas- you know- they were in love.
I mean these nice ladies looked like they were about to make homemade candy apples for the trick or treaters.
They were the example they found to show us how evil Santorum and all the other ‘anti gay marriage’ folk are.
What’s wrong with all this? These lopsided ways to showcase a story- to start with either the worst/best example of a thing [the anti gay groups also show the gay parade marchers- in drag- when they discuss the subject] this is pitting one side against another- and it does not help the conversation.
About 6 months ago I was watching MSNBC and I heard Matthews talking about the pres campaign. He said it is possible that if Romney gets nominated and some on the right [Evangelicals] don’t support him because he belongs to this ‘weird’ religion- that he might be a flawed candidate.
He then went on and said that Romney’s name is not Mitt- its Willard.
I guess its true- I really don’t care to check.
Then as the weeks went by- he kept talking about Romany as Willard- he pushed on his Mormon faith- and last night I heard him say ‘watch this response Romney gives- I mean- he’s just weird- that’s the only way to describe him’.
Ah- he waited all these months- thinking he’s secretly sending the White House messages- and if they don’t pick them up- darn- Mathews will carry the load himself.
Mathews was incensed when people used the middle name of the president- his description of ‘Willard’ and his religion as ‘weird’ would never fly if you were talking about a Muslim.
As the year progresses- I think we would all do well to try and focus on the actual positions people have- don’t read too much into the paranoid scenarios- from the right or the left.
I will end with one more example. Bob Herbert- N.Y. Time’s columnist. During the Obama campaign tried to ‘expose’ the secret racist messages that were tied into the opposing commercials [run by Bill and Hillary].
In one commercial they showed you a picture of the Washington Monument- and a few other historic sites.
Herbert went on to say that the showing of ‘this structure’ [it’s a tall structure- ‘sticking out’ into the empty sky].
Herbert said that the subliminal message was ‘watch out for the Black man- Obama- because he- like all Blacks- has one thing on his mind’.
Of course you see what he thinks the showing of the structure meant.
So as we navigate the year- thru the Willard’s and the dying wheel chair pot smokers- let’s hear both sides and try and simply choose our candidate based on these things- not on his color- or his religious views- or on any other of a number of accusations made by the opposing side.
We just celebrated Martin Luther King day- he was a great man who taught non violent protests- who said we should judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin- I couldn’t agree more.
 WEEK IN REVIEW
So we end the week with Haley Barbour releasing killers- the media showing- over and over again- a viral video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers- and the Repubs accusing Romney of being a ‘Vulture’ capitalist pig.
Let’s start with the most important one first- last night I saw the Marine video- after a minute or 2 of thinking about it- and hearing Hillary and others decry the ‘outrageous action’ and saying that these Marines will be upheld to the highest standard of law- I thought ‘what a bunch of hypocrites’.
Yeah- we- as a nation- send these young kids to war- some do 3 or 4 terms over there- we are telling them ‘you go kill this enemy’- they often see their buddies getting killed.
They also see kids maimed- our guys coming back without all their body parts.
And in some cases- like the present court case against the soldiers at Haditha [a possible case where our guys killed some civilians] they do get things wrong.
But the fact that one of the most dehumanizing acts a person can engage in- the taking of another’s life- the fact that we ask these guys to do this- and then become outraged that they urinated on some dead bodies- well yes- they blew it- they made it more dangerous for our other men over there- I got all that.
But the media- who keep showing the ‘darn’ video- they are not helping.
Right now you have an Egyptian Christian going to trial because he posted a picture of Mickey and Minnie- Mickey had a beard and Minnie a veil.
So in Egypt- they now see this as a crime. Have you seen the silly image on the tube? Of course not- because the media know that the showing of the image might cause ‘outrage’ in the Muslim community- and that might lead to the deaths of people.
Then why do they feel so free to keep showing the stupid stunt the Marines did- surely the showing of this video will cause outrage in Muslim lands and lead to the deaths of people.
Yes- the guys did wrong- maybe they should face some type of military discipline- but the calls for prison are wrong- they ‘pissed’ on dead bodies- wrong- bad- especially in the Muslim world- but the act of taking their lives in the first place- the act we ask our young men to engage in- that by nature lowers a person’s view of another group.
Yes- professionals should be able to distinguish between the enemy and the degrading of another person- but in practice this distinction isn’t always so easy- so let’s punish the men- in a way commensurate with the act- but jail? No way.
Okay- we were also treated to the public hysteria over killers walking the streets of Mississippi- you know- Barbour [Governor] let out all the rapists- child molesters and killers!
Are we seeing somewhat of a political overreaction? Sure. Did he pardon some people that should not have been pardoned? Probably.
But you have some of the opposing political figures in the state- saying that they are trying to track the killers down and they can’t find them.
Wow- you mean all Barbour’s gang are on the loose- stalking women and children right now?
All governors have in fact pardoned killers in the past. Now- should this act be done sparingly? Yes. Because you are indeed wiping the record clean- and in cases of sexual assault- well the public might not know who they are dealing with [like getting hired at a school or something].
But in truth- about 90 % of the guys pardoned were already free- and many of them were out of prison for years. The pardon allows them to find jobs [because many can’t get work when the rap sheet shows up] and maybe become an asset to society in some way.
So not all the pardons- are these 200 killers out on the run! They were not accurately describing the thing- and the Dem. Attorney General who keeps going on the air saying they are doing their best to get the killers- but they ‘hit the ground running’ well he’s simply playing the game.
And let’s end with ‘the Vulture’. Yes- Gingrich and Perry have gone after Romney and they pulled out the Capitalist Pig card.
They are attacking Romney over his years at Bain Capital- because he was a Corporate Raider and he cost people their jobs.
Then some on the Right have gone after those who are making this attack- they are saying that conservatives should not be making a charge like this- because all Romney [or corporate raiders] do is simply a part of Capitalism- and should not be questioned.
The movie they are using as an example is Wall St. - they are kinda saying that the picture the attackers are trying to present is one where Romney looks like Gordon Gecko.
I think a better movie would be Pretty Woman. If you remember- Richard Gere played the role of a corporate raider- and this movie really tells the story better [though the movie is about a prostitute!]
Gere comes to town to shut down a shipping business [actually builds ships!] and during the process he sees the point of view of the older owner of the business- and Gere instead says let’s try and keep this business open- yes- to make money- but also to fulfill the role of being a good corporate public servant- that does care about the workers as well as the stock holders.
This idea is noble- and I think in some ways we should bring this type of ‘just thinking’ into the Capitalist picture.
Now- not all ‘profit’ making is wrong- we know that. And if there comes a time that a business has to shut the doors because that’s the only way for other parts of the investing firm to be viable- okay- that’s fine.
But there is nothing wrong with asking ‘capitalist pigs’ to not only see the bottom line- but to also view the worker as an asset- and trying to keep their jobs should also be a goal of business- not just cash.
And there are many C.E.O.’s who do teach this- years ago I read Stephen Covey’s books- and he does talk about this.
So all in all- there is some truth to the attacks- to ask the question.
Okay- that’s it for now- lets pray for these Marines- they are taking lots of heat- and sure- maybe they screwed up big time- but they did nothing worthy of prison or court martial- and we should all know that.
The other day I mentioned that I’m not a big football fan- but to be honest I have always rooted for the northern teams- and yes- I’m aware of how good the Giants are doing. But yesterday was the first time I watched a game this season.
I was channel surfing the news shows and caught Tebow scrambling for a touchdown- I thought ‘heck- I have heard lots of criticism about Tebow- but he looks pretty good to me’.
So I watched most of the game- they won in overtime- under a new rule that says you only have sudden death if the team that wins the toss scores a touchdown on the first possession.
Tebow threw for a touchdown on the first play!
Its funny- of course I have heard all the controversy over Tebow doing the prayer move at the games. One night I was watching the world news- and they actually did a story about whether or not Tebow's prayer was ‘really’ working.
They showed the few clips of him on the knee- then they said ‘but- could there be another reason why he is doing well’- Geez- I don’t know- why don’t you tell me.
Yes- they interviewed some shrink and he explained that when someone is nice- and encourages the other players- well that affects the game.
Then they showed a clip where some receiver blew the catch and when he walked back to the line Tebow tapped him on the back and said ‘don’t worry about it- better luck next time’.
Aha- that’s it- it aint those silly prayers after all.
How funny [sad] that after the media started getting criticized because of their complaining about Tebow’s silly one knee thing- then they had to actually spend a few minutes on world news to explain why the prayer isn’t really working- kinda sad.
Okay- let me take care of a few business items today. First- does someone want to do me a favor?
Who has a lot of money? Can you send me….. [Okay- need to stop doing this- it does get people mad].
Actually I have an old friend in prison- in N.J.- and about a year ago we wrote back and forth a few times. I’m pretty sure I sent the last one- but really haven’t kept up with it like I used to.
So- if anyone wants to write- to just keep in touch and encourage the guy- then either message me on Facebook or send me an email- I’ll send you the address.
Over the years I have sent hundreds of letters to buddies in prison. Some of my friends on these sites know that- but I have dropped the ball some in the last few years- and this might be a ‘ministry’ for someone.
Also- on my site I have some old friends- people who have been with us [me] from the start- ministry type guys. We always had plans and ideas about stuff- to be honest some of those plans never materialized like I hoped.
But I have been wanting to throw this out as an idea- maybe some of you guys can start a site- either a group on Facebook- or a blog [there free!] and simply call it the name of your city ‘outreach ministries’.
Use it as a sort of bulletin board- a place where other ministries/churches in your area can get in touch- maybe post an event- or whatever.
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone- but to a few brothers- this can be a good tool [or sisters].
If you go to my blog- there is an icon that you can click to start your own blog- I have been on a few years- and to be honest- I am a terrible blogger/internet guy.
I didn’t even have EMAIL until 2007!
So if someone wants to mess with it- it can be a worthwhile tool- an outreach to your city- or even a sate or nation.
Okay- that was it for today- just wanted to take care of a little business- oh yeah- Houston is doing good too! The Boys? Okay- let’s not dig up past mistakes- love covers a ‘multitude of sins’.
 SATURDAY IN THE PARK
The other day I got up and turned my computer on- hit the icon for one of my oldies but goodies [Saturday in the Park- Chicago] and sure enough it was one of those saved UTUBE videos that got deleted because of some copyright thing.
So I just re-type the song and do another search. On the side of the page I see a bunch of options- I usually go for the one that looks like the old vinyl classic- you know the records we bought as kids.
But instead I went with one that showed a Ferris wheel and a carnival in a park- yeah- that looks good!
As the song started- I soon realized that the video was made by some amateur who is fulfilling his dream of being an international star by posting his songs to UTUBE.
Now- I’m sure he meant well- put a lot of time and effort into the thing- but he sounded just like the waiters singing at the end of the movie Christmas Story.
Yeah- maybe he was living in Korea at the time- doing his best to navigate his life thru the ups and downs of his country- all the people distraught over the death of their beloved leader.
So as I sat there- yes- listening to Saturday in the Park- sung with this Korean accent- I thought ‘You know- in life we all have ups and downs- we learn to take the good with the bad- I mean it won’t be the first time that I had to settle for less’. But I knew- if I listened to the whole song- well that would be a noticeable step down on even my very low standards- yeah- I clicked it off.
Which brings us to today. We end the week with many Iowans and others saying ‘well- we don’t really like so and so- but we will settle for what we can get’. Romney and Santorum tied- and a few others have to re evaluate.
Let me mention one thing- Ron Paul does have a solid following- sort of like some cult guy. And he does say things that make sense- at times. But he also has some nutty ideas as well.
But one of the things he is right on is what he said the other day about Iran. He said that the sanctions that the West is now putting on Iran- that they are an act of war. He said we should not be surprised that they will respond in a dangerous way.
This week- for the first time ever- we began moving on Iran’s oil- to cut off their sale of oil to other nations. Oil is obviously the number one source of income for Iran.
This has lead to a crash in the Rial [Iran’s money] and Iranians are taking all their cash out of Iranian banks and putting their money into U.S. currency.
We are indeed sending that nation into a possible depression- and if we know that we are doing this- saying that’s the price for the level of non compliance they are showing with their nuclear program- then we can’t say ‘oh- they are just starting trouble in the Strait of Hormuz to get the attention off of their bad economy’.
Yes- that’s what the White House said this week- that’s a lie- we all should know that- and if we think we should do the sanctions- then let the country know that’s what’s putting the pressure on Iran- that’s why they are threatening to disrupt the Straight- and it might indeed lead to war.
Okay- there are a bunch more stories I would like to hit on- lets hit on the recess appointment of Cordray.
Those who hate Obama say he violated the constitution. Those who love him say he didn’t do anything different than any other pres. Who’s right?
Actually- what he did was a first. Now- he might think it’s time to challenge the thing- but make no mistake about it- it was a first.
Out of all the hundreds of recess appointments that presidents have made- this was the first time a pres. made one when congress was either in session- or in ‘Pro-Forma’ session.
But the media are not really telling you that.
CNN had a quick story that said even Obama accused Bush of going around congress when he made his recess appointments- and they played the clip of him saying it. Yet they ended the story by saying ‘Obama- in the end- said the president had the right to do it’.
But they were talking about the normal ones that all presidents have made- yes- Obama accused Bush of gong around the law- when he did an actual recess appointment- when congress was not in session.
It was under Bush- when Obama was a senator- that congress actually came up with an agreed to ‘form’ that would constitute congress being deemed in session- that’s what the Pro-Forma thing is all about.
The Dems and Repubs made a deal that said if the congress has one guy show up every 3 days- and he simply hits the gavel- hangs out for a few hours- and leaves- they all agreed that this would mean they were in session- and it would prevent the pres from appointing a recess guy.
Okay- for the first time- they started doing this under Bush- and Obama and the Dems [along with the Repubs] all said at the time that if Bush dared to make an appointment during this Pro Forma session- it would spark a constitutional crisis.
What did Bush do John? He went along with the deal- and never made an appointment when they were in Pro Forma session.
Obama never said Bush had the right to do what Obama just did.
Harry Reid is on record saying if Bush dared do this- it would be grounds for legal action.
What are Reid and Obama and all the others saying now? Oh- he’s doing what’s right.
This stuff never ends with these guys.
Last story- when the media wants to portray a certain thing- in a certain way- they will do their best to try and make you see what’s really not there.
Under the Clinton administration you had the scandal [one of many] that had to do with Sandy Burger. Sandy was a top official under Clinton and at one point he knew that he had written some stuff that would get him in trouble.
So he gets caught going to the presidential library and stuffing these old notes down his pants and in his socks. The librarian can’t believe she caught the guy doing it- I mean he’s a top official.
So they notify security and on his way out they stop him and make him spill the goods- yeah- this is a real story.
Of course the news breaks and you see why he wanted to take these papers- they did make him look bad about some stuff.
But how did the media treat this? Over a period of a few days they interviewed Bill Clinton- and a few other Dems who were ‘in the know’.
They all laughed- they said ‘Oh that’s just old absent minded Sandy- he does silly stuff like this all the time- leaving his briefcase behind- I mean we all know he was not really trying to steal anything’.
And after a few days- well that was the public story- almost unbelievable that the media has that type of power.
The insiders say that what Obama just did was a first- and he might very well have sparked a constitutional crisis- and the insiders say that’s what he wants- to position himself this year against congress- and he might have done something- that might indeed be illegal- but as a lawyer- sometimes you do stuff like that.
He might have calculated that it would take years before the courts decide- and even if he broke the law- he’ll be gone and the mission was accomplished.
So what’s so bad about this John? Well you don’t want any president doing stuff like this. Yes- in society these games are played a lot- but in the top office of the land you should not do it.
But if the media can convince the public that all Sandy was guilty of was sloppy filing- well then they can convince us of anything.
 Happy new years eve to all. Let’s do a brief Year in Review.
We did have quite a busy news year- last night I caught a CSPAN clip of Newt- yeah- he was crying like a baby!
Okay- not that bad- but he did break down for a few seconds on screen. Some of the pundits debated if it were ‘planned’ or real.
I think E.J. Dionne [a liberal news guy] got it right- he said he thought it was sincere- but how much it will help a man in a Repub primary fight- well that’s another story.
Boehner said he didn’t see anything wrong with it [lol for you non savvy political folk- who knows- maybe they will both run for office in North Korea? The crying capitol of the world].
The big story of the year? Well- there were a few [Tsunami- Arab Spring- E.U. crisis] but as a geopolitical event that was big- I guess I would say the shakeup we saw in the Arab world was pretty major.
It started with a street vender in Tunisia- he refused to pay ‘the tax’ to the cops for his street profit- it’s really a form of extortion like the mob uses. So in frustration he ‘self immolated’ [lit himself on fire!] and he died a few days later from his injuries.
This led to the overthrow of the long time leader in Tunisia [Ben Ammi]- and then the Egyptians followed suit by protesting in the historic Tahrir square.
Mubarak got toppled and then Libya gave it a shot. Of course we [the U.S. and NATO] basically bombed the hell out of the place and then let the rebel’s claim they won.
Last week in Nigeria- on Christmas day- Muslim radicals bombed a Christian church and killed many worshippers. Nigeria is much like the Sudan- the country is divided North and South by Muslims and Christians [Sudan’s south also has lots of Animists].
What do all these countries have in common? They are all in Africa. Yes- the African continent probably saw the most ‘action’ though the last part of the year we have focused on Europe.
Yes- Europe had her own Western style debt crisis. It can get a little confusing- I mean I was watching one news show- the title was the Euro Zone debt crisis- and they said there were 27 nations in the Euro Zone.
That’s a common mistake some have made. The Euro Zone is made up of 17 European nations- that have entered into a treaty that allows them to all use one common currency- the Euro.
But there are a total of 27 nations that make up the European Union- the biggest Economy out of all of them is Britain- they are not part of the Euro Zone- though they are part of the E.U. - got it?
By the way- Brazil just passed Britain as the world’s 6th [or 7th?] largest economy.
And Japan faced her devastating earthquake/Tsunami [I think it was this year?] anyway there economy has been in the doldrums for around 20 years. Japan had her own recession/depression many years ago- and they have still never fully recovered.
Which brings us to the end of the year in the U.S.
We end the year with some better than expected economic numbers- but don’t be fooled- the numbers are not great- they are actually not good- they are just better than expected.
Some now predict that the last quarter will see around 3 % growth [it takes a few weeks for the data to come out] and some are predicting that 2012 we’ll see around 3 % growth.
3 % is not good- it’s actually bad- but it’s not as bad as a recession.
What we need to keep in mind is our economy has gone through some major hits- and like Japan- you don’t just pop out of it in a few years.
Many of the companies are in better shape- because they scaled back- they cut people and downsized- some for good.
So- the DOW might look good because of stuff like this- but we have now had a few years of college grads who have been unable to find work- and they missed the ‘boost’ of getting a good job- buying a car- getting a place to stay- and this group of young unemployed kids- well they might never get the jump they need to do ‘better than their parents’.
So by no means have we as a country recovered from our debt/economic problems- and the E.U. still has a lot of risk in the coming year.
In the last few weeks the Federal Reserve and a few other central banks made money available to the E.U. banks at a cheap rate.
The theory is if you pour money into the banks- that might loosen up lending- and you avoid a real problem. Just like our own TARP thing we did in 2008.
But lo and behold- some of the E.U. nations sold [tried] to sell some bonds- and the banks did not buy as many as people expected. The banks took the cash [like the U.S. banks did in 2008] and basically sat on the money.
So all this means we still have a tough year ahead- globally- and just because some numbers are looking better at the end of the year for the U.S.- this does not mean all is well.
The scripture reading for this week is Isaiah 52. The prophet speaks about Gods people- he says ‘Wake up- rise up- shake the dust from your feet and move on’.
He also says that blessed are those who preach the Good News- the good news of salvation. Those who publish peace- those who declare Gods rule.
I have a habit- every week [just about] I watch the Catholic Mass on the tube- those are the bible chapters I cover during the week.
Of course this past week I watched the Popes Mass from Rome- the Pope spoke against the commercializing of Christmas- and he reminded us that the true message of Christmas is Emmanuel- God with Us.
As we end the year- I want to encourage all my readers/friends- the reality of God being with us is what’s important. Yes- I do think many are not seeing the ‘story behind the story’ in the above news events- many want to believe there is no way they might have lost money [401 k’s] and they might never see that money again.
But that’s okay- even if you didn’t lose it this past year- you were going to ‘lose it’ someday- we all have to leave some day- and we have a tendency to put that reality off.
One year I had a friend- another firefighter- who just started investing in Real Estate. And all the guys knew I was doing that for years. I used to have renters come by and drop off the rent checks and stuff like that.
So when one of the other guys got into it- they would ask me for advice. One day I had a friend- around 50 years old- and he bought a few homes.
As he was talking- he was telling me that he would pay off these 2- sell this one- rent the other- I mean he had all the plans first time buyers/investors get into. I simply tried to give him some sound advice- and I also had to stop him at one point.
He was telling me the plans he had for the 3 homes that were on a 30 year mortgage- and I had to say ‘Mike- I know your excited about the houses- but you’re talking about paying off these homes- you do realize you might be dead before the mortgage is paid off’.
I wasn’t being funny- I actually was telling him something that many investors do not calculate in when they do the numbers- they very rarely calculate in their own mortality.
So yes- we will all do our best- we will watch the numbers this year- and well will try and publish the good news- the good news of God being with men- that God became a man- was crucified- died- and buried. He rose again the 3rd day- according to the scriptures- he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Amen and Amen.
Happy New Year to all.
 HEDGE YOUR BETS?
Caught an interesting show last night on the business/financial channel. It was the story of some private investor who was sort of a prodigy when it came to the market.
As a kid he took an unusual interest in investing and as he was studying to become a doctor he started his own independent blog and eventually he went into investing full time.
He became famous because he was one of the first investors to spot the upcoming housing bubble [the one we already had]. As he read the data- he hedged his bets and shorted the market.
All investing is a type of ‘gambling’ you make your bet- you put money on the table- and you hope for the best.
But ‘shorting’ the market the way this guy did- well it was more like gambling in the sense that you bet that a certain stock will fall- and someone else is betting it will go up.
Well in the end he did win- but he angered a lot of his customers and his investment company would fold.
Overall he got it right- but he was bad with social skills- he had a form of Autism called Aspergers syndrome- it makes you bad with social skills- but excel in other areas.
His area of excelling was the numbers thing- yet the part of the business where you work with people- that’s what doomed him in the end.
Anyway I mentioned this because some numbers have come out this week- and the economy might be getting better- so if those numbers hold- or go up- then this next year might be okay [crow doesn’t taste that bad!].
The news? I was surprised to see the state of things go bad so fast in Iraq. Just the other day [yesterday?] the capital city had 16 bombs go off- many killed.
It was one of the worst bombings in a long time- right in the capital.
Then you had the P.M. of Iraq- AlMalaki- put out a warrant on the V.P. The Prime Minister is Shia- the V.P. is Sunni.
Iraq- like all these ‘Arab Spring’ nations are divided along these religious lines- and Iraq also has a 3rd division- the Kurds in the north.
So the Vice President has fled north to the Kurdish area- and Malaki is demanding his return to face charges of terrorism.
Can you imagine a U.S. President charging the V.P. with terrorism charges? Yeah- I fear the worst is taking place in Iraq- and there is plenty of blame to go around- but these wars were doomed from the get go.
Okay- as we end the week- who read the chapters I mentioned in the last post? They deal with the promise of God to King David- that God would bless David’s house [dynasty] for ages to come.
That David’s ‘Son’ would sit on the throne for ever. I have taught this before- the New Testament shows us that this promised has been fulfilled thru Christ.
Jesus- who comes from the lineage of King David- has been raised from the dead and he sits at the right hand of God- forever.
An interesting note on the chapters- God says to David ‘even if the future children sin- and mess up- I will punish them- but will not totally forsake them’.
I think this promise is in both the Samuel chapters and Psalms 89.
It refers to the teaching in the bible that says when believers sin- make mistakes- mess up. God will ‘chastise’ them- but not completely leave them [Read Hebrews 12- the first few verses].
Hebrews says that this is proof that we are God’s kids- because he will discipline those he loves- like a parent does with a child.
The bible also says that humans discipline at times with other motives ‘Johnny- you made me look bad in the store today- you threw a fit because you couldn’t get the candy’ so at times parents punish because of wrong motives- but the bible says Gods discipline is perfect- it leads to restoration.
In the above mentioned Psalm- David says ‘Lord- why did you let the hedge [protections] fall down around me- will your anger go on forever?’
Even though King David had all these great promises from God- yet we know the whole story- David made some drastic mistakes- he even had an illegitimate kid with the wife of one of his top soldiers.
When his scheme to cover up the crime didn’t work- he had the husband killed [Uriah] and he married the wife.
Her name was Bathsheba. She had a son- he got sick. David knew he was being punished for what he did.
So he goes into his room and fast and prays for days- then the kid dies.
His servants are afraid to tell him that the kid died. David picks up on it and says ‘he’s dead’? Yeah.
Then he washes his face and gets on with life. The servants thought ‘wow- we thought he would really go downhill once he heard the kid died’.
But David said ‘when the boy was alive- I prayed and did what I could to change the situation- but after the boy died- there's no more I can do. I will go to him some day- but he can’t come back now’.
David took the punishment- and moved on.
Bathsheba will bear him another child- a son by the name of Solomon. This is also the same son that God makes the promise to David in the above chapters- that he will build a temple for God.
So God forgave David- even used the second son from the ‘crime scene’ to do great things- but first David suffered.
Today’s word- wherever you are today on the journey- at the point of fasting and praying- or the mistakes- and the results have already played out- wherever you are- don’t let what has happened be the final word.
Hebrews also says to the person who was disciplined ‘lift up the hands that hang down- get back up- don’t let the discipline have the wrong effect- it was meant to restore you in the end’.
Yea- God allowed the hedge to come down around David- like our investor- he had talent- even special gifts- he ‘hedged’ his bets- but in the end he reaped some stuff.
Whatever has happened- its over- you can’t change it. Let’s get up and move on- there just might be a Solomon on the way.
 ‘LIL’ KIM- LUTHER AND HITCHENS
Okay- we had the passing of some famous folk these last few days. Havel [former Czech President] - a great man indeed.
Then we had ‘lil’ Kim die [not the singer- the leader of North Korea. Though there was an on line rumor it was Lil Kim- yeah the fans cried- until they realized it was the crazed leader of one of the world’s most dangerous countries- you know- the hair trigger Nuke. Well when the fans found out it was him- not the singer- they relaxed]
Actually- the surreal video of the North Korean people crying in the streets- the look of shock and despair on their faces- I mean I haven’t seen the followers of any political leader act this way in a long time- not since the Perry debates.
Then old Hitchen's kicked the bucket- yeah- he was a famous atheist.
I really do not hate atheists- some are nice people- most don’t know the real case for the existence of God. But Hitchen's- well when I reviewed his book- ‘God is not great’ I did get into the many distortions and misrepresentations that he made.
He simply lied- and often. He was mean and arrogant and insulted people often- he has referred to princess Diana as a ‘land mine’ [she had a charity that worked for the abolition of these weapons] he said she was like a land mine ‘she was laid all over the country- and when you stepped on her everything blew up’.
No- many Christians and leaders have come out and done the ‘we respected him for his views’ type thing- not me- I’m not gad he died- but won’t make him sound like he was a ‘good’ man- he was not.
I read a piece form the N.Y. Times- they went into Libya and investigated the reports of the deaths of many civilians caused by NATO and the U.S. during the ‘no fly zone’ debacle.
They found evidence of many civilians that were killed. They presented the report to the new leaders of Libya- they could care less.
In Benghazi- the main city in the eastern half of Libya- they were openly flying the Al-Qaida flag. We just spent 10 years and many lives fighting in Afghanistan. Why? Because they gave territory to Al-Qaida- they gave them a place to work out of.
We fought the Taliban for 10 years over this. Yet in a few months NATO and the U.S. gave Al-Qaida their own capitol to fly their flag- I mean the terrorists must be thinking ‘if we knew these guys were this stupid- we would have never bombed the towers’.
In Tripoli- the real capitol of Libya- the various militia groups [terrorists] are all claiming they are the security/armed forces of Libya. I heard a doctor- on N.P.R. - not a right wing radio show- he said in his hospital these various militias are all trying to take charge- they walk around with guns- sometimes walk into a room and shoot a patient who they think is not on their side- and the doctors say they have no security at all.
Under Gadhaffi things ran well- like a normal society- now their country is a terrorist haven- run by these guys.
I could go on and say the same for Egypt- and tell the stories of how the military have been killing protestors in the street. All these things are being done under people that the West [we- NATO- France] have enabled by removing their former leaders.
And France this week passed a law making it a crime to deny the genocide that took place in Turkey in the early part of the last century.
Yes- the Ottoman Turks did slaughter many Armenians- Christians- at the time. And getting Turkey to officially admit this has been a problem for years. But France passing a law to make it a crime to deny it- while they just finished committing ‘crimes against humanity’ themselves- by killing all the Libyan civilians- it’s just too much.
Okay- let’s start a brief overview of some church history. Over the next few weeks I want to hit on the 16th century Protestant reformation and try and cover some of the key figures of the movement.
Martin Luther- the German reformer who had the most influence in the movement was born and raised in Germany.
As a boy his parents were peasant farmers and eventually his dad became a miner and became a very successful businessman- he would go on and eventually own 6 foundries.
He sent his son to law school- and young Luther excelled. At the age of 21 he accomplished more than many of his peers. One day on his way home from the university a thunderstorm broke out and Luther was almost struck by a bolt of lightning.
In fear he cried out to Saint Ann [the mother of Mary] and said ‘Saint Ann- if you save me I will become a monk’ [Ann was the patron Saint for miners- thus Luther was familiar with her].
He was spared and off to the monastery he went. Luther eventually became an ordained priest and even though his dad initially was upset that his son became a priest- yet he was proud of his boy later on.
Luther would eventually make a Pilgrimage to Rome- on foot [a few month walk from Germany to Rome!] and what he saw devastated him. Rome- and the Vatican- were in bad shape. Many of the priests lived in open sin- and the city that he saw as his headquarters for the faith- well it was a mess.
Luther made the famous penitent walk/crawl up the stairs of the Lateran church [this church was the most famous church before the construction of St. Peters. The actual stairs of the church are the same stairs that Christ walked up during his trial under Pontius Pilate. Yes- you hear many ‘stories’ while studying church history- things like the relics or left over pieces of the Cross- well these stories are usually fake. But the stairs of the Lateran church are indeed the same stairs that Christ walked on- the early ‘church’ builders dismantled the stairs at Pilate’s court in Jerusalem and installed them at this church building in Rome].
When Luther got to the top of the stairs- it is reported that he questioned the faith- he had a crisis of faith and thought that maybe the whole thing was a sham.
Okay- as we do a few more posts over the coming weeks- I want you guys to see that the main players of the Reformation were sincere Catholic men who had many questions about what they saw as corrupt in their own church. These men did not want to start a breakaway church- they simply wanted to reform the church they loved.
Keep in mind that Luther excelled during his legal studies- he had a keen legal mind- this will be important later on when we see the debates he has with Rome over the doctrine of Justification by faith- the letters of the apostle Paul [Romans- Galatians] use lots of legal language- and his early education will help him in these debates.
Okay- that’s it for today. Maybe do a Google search on Luther and familiarize yourself a little with the history.
The ‘readings’ for this week are 2nd Samuel 6-7 and Psalms 89. See what they have in common.
 E.U. and John the Baptist.
Okay- let’s start with last week’s meeting in Brussels. The European Union met to hack out a deal on their debt problems. All 27 European nations met- 26 signed on to an agreement- sort of.
Britain was the only nation that did not sign on. Why? Cameron [the Prime Minister] said they did not want to give up any control over their sovereign nation. Basically the agreement says that the E.U. nations that refuse to deal with their debt problems- they will face fines/penalties if they let things get out of hand.
‘So John- how does a promise like this fix anything’? Actually- it doesn’t. In the U.S. we just came off a year of various panels/groups who were put together to deal with our nation’s debt crisis.
Some of these panels- bi-partisan- came up with some okay ideas- but in the end the President and congress did not pass anything.
So the last attempt was the ‘super committee’ as opposed to just any old regular one! Yeah- they even said ‘we are are so serious about getting our fiscal house in order- we even passed a law that said if we don’t agree to the cuts- then automatic cuts will happen- beyond our control- and then the budget will eventually balance out’.
Wow John- you mean they actually passed a real law that said this? Yup.
Okay- what happened? They came down to the wire and passed nothing. Then they started saying ‘look- we know we passed a law- to make it look like this time we mean it- but do you really think we can’t change the darn thing’!
Well John- Obama said he will veto any change. Oh yeah- that threat has lots of weight to it.
So the E.U. said ‘we will allow more oversight of our individual nations budgets’ and that was the deal. They did not fix anything yet- and the real test will be this coming year. All these nations [Italy] will have to raise new revenue [sell bonds] and if the private investors/banks do not want to take the risk and buy these bonds- then things will get bad.
So that’s the story.
Okay- in the last few posts we talked a little about the first century world that Christianity was birthed from. We call this Greco/Roman culture.
Though Rome was the ruling empire at the time of Christ- they were ‘Hellenized’. Hellenization is the word we use to describe the Greek kingdoms efforts- under Alexander the Great- to ‘Cosmopolitanise’ the world.
Whenever Alexander would conquer a people- he would allow them to stay in their land- they could hold on to their customs and habits but at the same time become part of Greek culture.
Alexander even translated the Jewish bible [Torah] into Greek. This version is called the Septuagint [means 70] and comes from the story that 70 scholars put this version together under Divine inspiration.
This Greek ‘bible’ was the bible that the Jewish people who lived outside of Israel would use. These scattered Jews are referred to as the Diaspora.
Okay- during the time of Christ more Jews lived outside of Israel than in the land. And the influence of the Greek world upon all the people under the Roman Empire was very great.
Our New Testaments were originally written in Greek- this is the reason why. Now- the other day I mentioned how the Synagogue rose up during the time of this Diaspora- this scattering of the Jewish people before the time of Christ.
So during Jesus day- you already had a habit of Jews meeting for study and prayer- in these ‘church’ like buildings. These places of worship had no sacrifices or priestly ordinances- they were places of prayer and ‘bible study’. Do you now see how the culture that surrounds a movement does indeed have the potential to shape that movement?
Yes- early Christianity took on a form of Synagogue worship and order of service. The New Testament teaches us that we have no more animal sacrifices- but offer spiritual worship to God.
In the book of Acts we read about a group of people called God Fearers. This designation refereed to gentiles [non Jews] who enjoyed the Synagogue ‘services’ and wanted to attend- but they were not willing to go all the way- so to speak- and make the final ‘cut’.
Yes- if you wanted to completely convert to Judaism as an adult- you could- but you did have to go thru the rite of passage- circumcision.
So for those who liked the ‘bible study’ but also liked to keep all their body parts as well- they became God Fearers.
A while back I read an article [book review?] about a book some scholar put out- and he had an interesting twist on why the early Christian’s had friction with the early Jews. He posited the idea that the Gentile converts to Judaism were the main pool of people that the early Christians were converting- and that simple statistics said if all these former God Fearers became Christians- well the synagogue membership would go down- and the offerings too!
It’s an interesting idea- but we do read in the bible that the friction came because the early Jewish Christians accepted Christ as their final sacrifice and they did indeed ‘leave’ Judaism and identified themselves with Christ and his Church. [I put ‘leave’ in quotes because what actually happened was these Jewish converts to Christianity were simply receiving all that the prophets said- they did not see what they were doing as being unfaithful to their faith- they saw it as simply completing their journey].
But to know the context- the world in which these things took place- that helps us to see a little more into the story.
This past week I read Mark chapter 1 and John chapter 1. These chapters cover the ministry of John the Baptist. John was called ‘the Baptist’ because he was baptizing people in the river Jordan. How come we never read anyone saying ‘hey John- what the heck are you doing- this new rite of dunking people in the water’?
Well no one said it [as far as we know] because it was not a new rite [ritual]. During the rise of synagogue worship- and thus the rise of gentiles who wanted to join the ‘church’ on their block [non Jews who liked the readings and spiritual atmosphere of the synagogue] the Jewish people developed a type of Baptism that was used as a sort of entry rite [along with circumcision] to join their religion.
But the thing about John was he started using this rite as a means to call the Jewish people to repentance- this was a first of its kind.
So Johns Baptism said ‘you religious folk- you Jewish people- yes- you need to repent just like everyone else’. Yeah- John was a unique person- and his baptism was one of a kind.
Okay- that’s it for today- maybe try and read the chapters I mentioned above- do a little study on your own.
In this month’s issue of Christianity Today magazine they started a 5 year study on classic Christianity and it looks like it’s going to be very well done- something Protestants and Catholics would benefit from.
I have been reading this magazine for many years- and the last few years they have really taken a step up in their scholarship- maybe go on line and subscribe? You can also read the articles right from the computer.
I also read the Catholic Magazine called First Things- both of these are on my blog roll. First Things is top rate- but might get a little too ‘intellectual’ for first timers [don’t want to sound condescending here] they cover issues of Philosophy and Science form a Christian perspective- and they too have great stuff.
But I think the C.T. 5 year program that they are just starting might be the way to go for new learners- or ‘old’ learners- who want to brush up on the faith.
 A SHIP CAPTAIN AND A KILLER
Today begins the congressional hearings with Jon Corzine. Corzine- the former governor of N.J.- and a former democrat senator- he ran M.F. global- an investment group- and they went bankrupt a couple of months ago. The reason it made news- besides it being the 8th biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history- was the fact that there is about 1.5 billion dollars missing.
Now- For you to have a former gov, a major Dem player- to be embroiled in a possible criminal scheme on a huge scale- and for this to barely be covered in the media- is another joke.
Imagine another former gov- say Sarah Palin- she’s active in Repub politics- the media hunted down 20,000 pages of personal emails- you know- things to her kids- what she told Todd- the whole thing- the media ‘had a right to know’ and damn it- they will know!
So they finally sued Alaska- got the emails- after 3 years- and then it ran as the top story on the evening news.
Then 2 news papers put out an open request ‘hey citizens- we are making all the emails available for anyone to read on line’ [what- no vetting?] and whoever would like to read them and then ‘email’ us if you find something you think is news worthy- then let us know’.
Yes- the papers made this request. So let’s say Sarah just got busted because she stole about 1.5 billion from her firm. Then say- oh I don’t know- say if Todd [her husband] just happened to work for the president and this same firm was funneling 50,000 a month to the husband- then would that be news?
Well yes- we just found out [primarily in the foreign media- London papers- U.S. papers don’t like covering Dem scandals] that Corzine was paying Bill Clinton 50,000 a month for ‘financial advice’ Clinton requested $200,000- but he settled for the 50.
And of course Hillary is the secretary of state. So you have a former Dem gov- a major player in Dem politics- ripping off people out of over a billion dollars- and ‘paying’ Bill Clinton millions on the side- and this is not news.
Today Corzine will be pleading the 5th- the crook.
So what’s the good news for today?
Okay- got with the homeless bro’s yesterday. Ran into Eddie again. I met Eddie a few weeks back- nice kid [I say kid- guess he’s around 30]. He’s from Michigan- lives in an R.V. [not really ‘homeless’] and seems to be a nice guy.
He’s trying to sell the R.V. and get a car- wants to drive home for Christmas and see his kids [gas too much for the R.V.] The R.V. is pretty nice- he was willing to trade the thing for an old van I have here at the house- I almost did the deal- it would have been a steal- but I felt bad about the thing- the R.V. is worth at least 8 grand- my van around 800.
But these deals happen all the time on the streets- he got the R.V. from some people for a few hundred dollars- some locals who had it for years and gave him the deal so he would have a place to live.
I met Walden- a new Brother. He came up to me at the homeless mission- kind of like he knew me ‘hey John- wanted to talk with you’. I didn’t know him- kinda glad I wasn’t in one of my moods- like ‘who the h—l are you’- yeah that happens every so often.
After a few minutes I kind of realized he was a friend of Eddie- and the last time I got with Edie I gave him my web site card and all- and maybe they ‘checked’ me out- and that might be how Walden knew about me.
Yeah- I have no problem meeting new brothers- giving them a ride- helping them run errands and stuff- but Eddie and Walden- you can tell these are ‘clean’ brothers- not down and dirty street guys- and yeah- they have to be careful- some guy saying ‘hey- I do ministry stuff- sure get in the truck’ [you never know- I might be a Bundy or Sandusky? Or worse- Corzine!]
Sometimes they are more scared they me. So that was kinda the deal yesterday. But all the guys are doing well. Got with Chris- have known him for many years.
He’s funny- used to be a machinist in Ohio for years- wound up on the streets in Texas. I never really found out the whole scoop on Chris- why he’s homeless- but it seems like something happened on the journey.
Maybe like he burned himself out at one time on LSD- or some type of drug like that.
I don’t know- but Chris is harmless- acts tough- but all talk. But you can tell he has some type of mental struggle.
Then I met Lupo- he’s a European merchant marine. The guys a real character- funny. He’s an Eastern Orthodox Christian- and of course when you mention stuff like that to me- geez- I jump into a long theological/historical account of the church. I love the Orthodox brothers.
Lupo tells me ‘well- I don’t think they are a good church’. He’s talking ‘church’ like the building he went to a few years ago. I’m talking 2 thousand years of world history- a little different plane.
But he told me how him and his ex tried to attend the local Orthodox Church a few years ago and they told him he needed a suit. They even gave him one- he put it on and didn’t like it.
He got pissed and told the Pastor off.
Okay- I know he didn’t handle it well- but it showed me that he at least made the effort [I would have never put the suit on!]
Lupo really has an interesting story- been in Texas since 1980 [as long as me]. Did big boat type jobs for some famous folk. He picked up and delivered a few yachts and ships for some rich and famous people over the years [Trump].
They would pay him to get the ship and sail it back to the U.S.- you know- he has all the papers to do this stuff.
Eventually he made some money- he and his wife started some concession type business- got divorced- lost some money- had some hard times- and wound up on the streets [sort of].
He’s staying with some other local street guys in a trailer a few blocks from where I live- when I dropped Chris off later in the day I saw the concession trailer and another food truck that belonged to Lupo- yeah- he was telling the truth.
All in all it was a good day- helped Eddie run a few errands- gave away around 20 bucks [just a few dollars at a time to a few street people who usually ask].
Oh- almost forgot- at the mission some guy walks up to me- I think he looks exactly like Jeff Bridges in the country music flick he made a few years ago- and then I realize it’s Huey.
I have known Huey for a lot of years. He has the guitar upside down hanging from the strap over his back- you know- the real country street guy look.
Huey did ask for a buck- I gave him 5- he has never asked for money- maybe once about 5 years ago. I hesitated to ask- but I asked how his brother John David was doing.
I wrote about John a few years ago- John was a meth/cocaine addict for many years. John killed his best friend in Dallas many years ago.
John never told me how bad the shooting was- but Andy- his other brother- told me that when the cops came they found John’s friend with buckshot from the top of his head all the way to the bottom of his feet.
John kept shooting- even after his friend was down.
So a couple of years ago- John had an experience with God and got clean. John would talk to me from that point on. I used to hang out with his brothers every so often- but John wanted none of it.
But after he dedicated his life to the Lord- yeah- he wanted to fellowship
Okay- I was afraid that Huey might say ‘Johns back on the stuff’ but to my surprise- Huey swore that he was still clean [Huey wouldn’t lie- these guys fight with each other and if John was back on the stuff he would have told me].
So I was glad to hear John was still clean.
John got off on the murder rap by his mom getting the famed lawyer from Dallas who defended the guy who shot lee Harvey Oswald- a famous lawyer.
He did the job Pro Bono and got John off. John told me a year after he killed his friend he went one night to the grave and ‘pissed’ on the grave. Yeah- John was what you would call an ‘unrepentant sinner’ but glad he repented now.
 JESUS FOR PRESIDENT?
Let’s try and cover a few current events. Obviously the media lost a major ‘player’ [source] of ‘news’ when Cain left the stage. And it only took them a few days before they attached on to Gingrich.
Christianne Amanpour [CNN] asked ‘do you think a twice divorced person can get the support he needs to be president’. This is not the first time I have heard this.
I think Newt is a smart guy- I’m not a big defender of any of these guys- but the hypocrisy of the media to keep asking this- as a major campaign question- is nuts.
Sure- he’s been divorced- we got that. Yet Edwards [John] actually fathered a child with a woman- while his wife was suffering from cancer [the same thing that Newt did] and the media did not think that story was relevant- they indeed knew about the thing.
It was only after the Enquirer actually got pictures of Edwards holding the kid- then the story broke.
So this obsession with Newt’s divorce- please.
Okay- the headline read ‘Woman in prison for being raped is pardoned’. Wow. Yes- this headline ran in a couple of my papers- right next to the name Afghanistan.
So- if you didn’t read the story- you would think that some woman got raped in the country- under those bad Taliban folk- and because we ‘liberated’ them- she's free.
Actually- that’s not the story. The woman was raped during the present regime- our guys [Karzai] and the courts made her a deal ‘if you marry the rapist- you go free’. She refused. She has been raising her daughter in jail- and Karzai made her the offer a 2nd time [how noble of him] and she married the rapist and she’s out.
The title should have been ‘Woman who was raped is forced to marry the S.O.B.’
Biden goes to the ancient city of Constantinople the other day [Modern day Istanbul- Turkey]. He’s having a meeting with a group of business people and young entrepreneurs that the president had launched a few years back.
In the meeting Biden stands up and gives this Joe Paterno like speech ‘way to go boys- we [Turkey and the U.S.] have come far in this liberating project of business- our success and democratic spirit have been a lynchpin for the Arab Spring….’ you know- Biden likes to talk a lot.
Right after he gave the sermon- one of the Turkish guys got up and slammed the West [us and Europe] for being a bunch of inept leaders- nations who spend more than they have like spoiled brats- and have no political courage to change course. Yeah Joe- you sure told them!
As we approach the end of the year- there are so many very serious world events taking place- events that will play a major role in our lives here in the U.S.
For the life of me- I can’t see how investors can be up on the market- even though some numbers are good- these other things are hanging right on the edge.
The Euro Zone is nowhere near being fixed- and the options are terrible. They will either have to jump in 100 % behind the Euro [which Germany and others will never do] or they split up.
The break up looks like it might happen- the odds are higher now than ever. Okay- if that happens- it will affect world markets- and many analysts fear it will cause us to go into another recession.
So- if these scenarios are possible [probable] then how can you have an optimistic overall outlook- economically speaking? Sure- you can hedge your bets and do well- I’m not saying we are all gonna die- but to be acting like we are on some boom market- that’s nuts.
During the time of Jesus you had a divided people. In 1st century Palestine the Jewish people split into 4 basic sects. 2 of them are pretty well known- the Pharisees and Sadducees- they are mentioned often in scripture.
The other 2 are less well known- the Zealots and the Essenes. The Zealots are named in the bible- but only in passing. We have no references to the Essenes.
The Pharisees were sticklers for the Torah [Jewish bible] and the Sadducees centered their life around the Temple- they were more of a political/religious type group.
They stuck to the Torah alone. That is they only received the actual first 5 books of the Old Testament- which is the Torah [also the term is used to speak of the entire Old Testament] and that’s why the Sadducees rejected miracles and angels and stuff. Most of those stories are found in the other O.T. books.
The Zealots were a group of people who hated compromise- they were actually a 1st century ‘terrorist’ group- who carried out assassinations. Not on Rome- but on their own people!
The zealots hated those who compromised with Rome- and if they felt a leader was too chummy- they killed him.
The Essenes were a separatist group who lived in ‘the hills’ [Qumran community] they simply gave up completely on any political solutions for the day- and went and lived in the hills. These are the ones responsible for hiding the Dead Sea scrolls [old bible books found in the last century] in a cave.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus had both a Zealot on his team [Simon- not Peter who also went by that name] and Matthew- a Tax collector. Tax collectors were considered the biggest sell outs of all- they actually worked for Rome and scammed their own people- it must have been hard for Jesus to lead this group [the 12 disciples] who came from such opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Yet Jesus did lead them- he was even offered earthly rule a few times [once from satan- and once from the people who heard him] he rejected it both times. His kingdom was not ‘of this world’.
In the New Testament book of Philippians- the bible says that though Jesus was in the form of God [deity] yet he became a man and humbled himself to the death of the Cross- a shameful way to die.
We have one letter written in the N.T. by a ‘family’ member of Jesus- that’s the epistle of James.
Protestants believe that Mary had other kids after Jesus was born- our Catholic friends teach that she remained a Virgin her whole life. My purpose right now is not to get into that.
James was considered the ‘half brother’ of Jesus [Mary was the mom of both boys- Joseph was the dad of James- Jesus’ father was God]. Okay- James was slow to believe in his brother- but over time as Jesus was declaring himself to be the Messiah- I’m sure James had to wonder- you know- think back ‘gee- come to think of it- I can’t’ remember a time where my brother got in trouble’.
Wait- now I remember- yeah- that time when Jesus was 12- we all went to Jerusalem for the big feast- and Jesus stayed behind while we started the trip home. Yeah- we went 3 days before we realized he was gone. Boy was mom mad that day.
So we went all the way back to get him- and when we found him- he was sitting in the temple- asking these questions- I mean questions that only theologians knew- Jesus was still a kid.
Mom said to him ‘son- why did you stay behind- we were worried’! Yeah- she was mad- if there was ever a time my brother came close to getting in trouble- this was it. But Jesus said ‘why were you worried- didn’t you know I would be doing my Fathers business’ yeah- he sure seemed different- but the Messiah- come on.
So as the ministry years of Jesus role by- there are all these reports of miracles and healings- blind people seeing- dead people coming back from the grave.
Yeah- James has got to be wondering now- but no- he could not accept that his own brother was the promised Son of God- no- too much.
Then the day came- that terrible day where mom had to watch Jesus die on that rugged Cross- on Golgotha- man the hill looked like a skull.
Yeah- it was a strange site- I mean the sky got dark- an earthquake shook the place- and even the Roman soldier who witnessed my brother die said ‘surely this was the son of God’. Wow- too much- my bother has carried this thing too far- even in his death he won’t let this obsession go.
Then James hears some disturbing reports- his friends are saying that Jesus has come back- that he pulled it off- the greatest miracle ever- the one Houdini himself couldn’t do.
But are the reports true? I mean if anyone could tell if this guy walking around is really Jesus- James would know.
We don’t read of the account- but all we know is James became a believer- a believer that his brother was indeed the Messiah- the Son of God.
I guess it went something like this- Jesus sitting there with his men- James shows up and sees his brother- the perfect one- not a spot on his record. Maybe Jesus looked up- maybe he said ‘brother- do you now see’ and yeah- he saw.
James would go on to be one of the leaders/Pastors of the church at Jerusalem- we read about him in Acts chapter 15. Most scholars believe this was the same James who penned the short letter we find in the N.T. that bears his name.
One thing James hits on a lot in his letter- is he defends the poor- the downtrodden- and he rips into the rich- the elite of the day. He warns us not to be biased- not to use ‘uneven scales’ when dealing with people.
James hit on social justice issues- he picked them up from his brother.
We need to be concerned about the world- if a raped woman is forced to marry her rapist- then we ought not say ‘she was pardoned’. When we critique one person for past failures- then we must do that to all.
But at the end of the day- Jesus never took the earthly crown- he did not see the solution to be a political one- he brought Simon and Matthew together on the same team- and he showed them what it means to lay your life down for others- to live without the praise of men- the earthly standard of success- he chose another way- and he left that path for us.