RECENT STUFF- C
 I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU
Let’s try and close the week with some bible stuff- I might hit on a few news stories that are important- but let’s start with some scripture.
Today I had a good prayer time- If I get up at 3:30- and the morning is nice- it’s easy to pray for a few hours. On Friday [and Monday] I try to do a prayer routine that covers lots of stuff [world events, world leaders- yes I pray weekly for the president- and a bunch of other stuff].
I will walk the yard- and if there is no wind- then it’s kind of muggy- and it just seems like work. But this morning there was a nice wind- a higher ceiling for the clouds- and almost a full moon. Plus it’s raining as I write [I mean we have been in a drought!].
So it went well. Okay this week I read John 1 [as well as other stuff]. One morning I got up and couldn’t pray- and I remembered the verse where Jesus says ‘I have prayed for you’. I felt like the Lord was saying he took up the slack that day. The bible says Jesus is at the right hand of God and prays for us.
Then the next day I was listening to a favorite radio preacher- and he quoted the whole verse- Jesus says to Peter 'Peter- satan has desired to have you- that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not- and when you are turned again- strengthen your brothers’.
This occurred near the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus- he spent 3 years with his men- and then it was time to leave. At this point Jesus is spending whole nights in prayer to God- struggling with the completion of his mission- praying things like ‘God- if it’s possible- let this thing go away- if not- let your will be done’. And it’s an ‘existential’ experience [if I remember- I’ll explain this before the post ends].
Yet during this time of struggle- at some point- the Father reveals something to the Son- he tells Jesus ‘you friend Peter- there has been a request made on his life. Satan has come to me for permission to test him- I am going to allow him to go through some very difficult stuff’.
So during this tough time for Jesus- in the midst of his own personal turmoil- his soul ‘being poured out unto death’. He has only a moment with Peter- and he sees what is going to happen- and he simply relates to Peter what God had said.
In the book of Job we read how one day the angels came before God- and satan came too. He asked God for permission to go after Job- and for reasons that we don’t always understand- God said ‘okay’.
So in Peter’s case- this was destined to happen- he will be broken over the thing- probably hate himself for what he will do- yet it’s going to happen.
In John chapter 1 the religious leaders come to John the Baptist- they ask him who he is- sort of like ‘John- who do you think you are- what’s the end game here?’ John responds that he is not the Messiah- he is just a voice in the wilderness- preparing the way for the Lord.
John quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says ‘the voice of one’. They also ask him ‘are you that prophet that was supposed to come first’. This verse is found in the Old Testament book of Malachi. In chapter 3 the prophet says ‘the messenger of the covenant will come suddenly to his temple’ and it speaks of Christ and John.
But when they ask John ‘are you that prophet’ John says no. Was he the one who was to be the forerunner prophet? Actually yes- he was. How do we know this? Jesus himself will later testify that John indeed is the prophet who was to come ‘in the power and the spirit of Elijah’.
So this is one of those cases in the N.T. where you seem to have a contradiction. I think if we read carefully there really isn’t a contradiction- John might have really not understood that he was ‘that prophet’. John- like Peter- Like Jesus- like all the other ones in this story- they are having real life struggles- tough things they are dealing with- and in John’s case he might have thought ‘that prophet- are you kidding me- I’m barley surviving this thing’.
Now- we will read how John gets himself into some hot water. Not only is he preaching about The Lamb of God- he starts saying ‘Herod [the Roman ‘king’ figure that was over the Jewish people] you have take your brother Phillips wife- you can’t have her!’
Herod was the son of Herod the great- we read about ‘the great’ as being the king at the time of Jesus birth- he was the one who had all the babies killed because he heard that Christ was born and he wanted to wipe out the competition- this Messiah who would be ‘The King of the Jews’.
The funny thing was- Herod wasn’t a Jew. Yet he saw himself as the actual Messiah to the Jews- Rome gave Herod [the great] this figure head authority- and it literally went to his head. Now- Herod died soon after the slaughter of the kids- and his son would ‘reign in his place’.
This Herod would be the king at the time of Jesus earthly ministry. This is the king who John the Baptist was preaching against.
One time they came to Jesus- to kind of intimidate him- they said ‘you know- Herod knows about you- he will get you’. Jesus- you know- we are supposed to respect authority- right? He says ‘go tell that fox- that today and tomorrow I do healings and great works- and on the 3rd day I will be perfected’.
Perfected means ‘come to maturity’. This was a reference to his death and resurrection on the ‘3rd day’.
So Johns out there preaching against what he sees as corruption in govt. and one day they finally had enough- Herod puts John in prison.
Now John’s sitting there in prison- right at the time of this great ministry of Jesus. I mean Jesus is healing people left and right- raising the dead. I mean John must have felt vindicated- right?
John’s sitting in jail- and day after day- in this prison- he starts to think ‘geez- I have been stuck here for a while now- I mean I was the forerunner- Jesus said that about me- I’m the voice of one- the guy who proclaimed the truth when no one else was willing to take the risk- what the hell am I doing here- sitting in prison!’
John must have thought he was getting a bad deal. He sends 2 of his disciples to ask Jesus ‘are you the one- or should we look for another?’
Was he having doubts? Come on- Jesus is raising the dead for heaven’s sake- John was basically saying to Jesus ‘are you the one? If so- why am I still in the damn jail!’
John was being sifted. Peter will be- Job was too. For some strange reason- this is how things work. The bread has to be broken before it can feed people.
Of course we know the rest of the story- Herod's daughter in law will do a dance for the king- and the wife will get the head of John the Baptist on a platter- she got tired of hearing him.
Soren Kierkegaard- the 19th century Christian/Philosopher is considered to be the Father of Existentialism. Existentialism is the philosophy that says you start with ‘existence’ that is you begin the journey with real life passion- real interaction in life. Your failures and your high points- all these real things we experience in life- these are the things that shape us- that make us real.
Soren lived in a day where the Danish state church was dead and formal- and he spoke out against the dead lukewarm orthodoxy of his day.
One time he would say when he got tired of all the religious formalism- the fake plastic face we all put on so other people can’t really see our struggles- he said he would go read the Old Testament- the stories of murder and adultery and covering up crimes- he said these were real stories- of failure and success- of sitting in jail and thinking you might get out- but instead you get your head taken off.
These are the real stories of some of the most hallowed saints of history- yes- human frailty runs right through it all- like some scarlet thread.
One time Jesus said to Peter ‘I have prayed for you’ that sounds great when it stands alone- but when you see it in the context of the whole verse- then you realize that you just might be in for something that you never expected would happen- you might be getting ready to go through a real existential moment- face to face with your own failures and humanity.
Peter will later write ‘beloved- when you go thru trials- don’t think it strange. Realize your brothers are also going through them’ and ‘it is not only our privilege to believe on the name of Jesus- but it is also our privilege to suffer with him’.
Yes Peter went on to get past the sifting- the memory of being the disciple who denied Jesus. I mean Peter was the only one who walked on water [ besides Jesus]- he raised the dead in the book of Acts- how we remember him?
We remember the day he got sifted like wheat. It’s not easy to forget those days- and even harder to live through them.
 NOT AGAIN!
Okay- because of another late breaking news story- which hit the air last night- I will attempt to write a post without having read any hard news paper coverage. But I did just check up real quick on a few on line news sites- and I think I got the jist of it.
LIGHT SQUARED is another company- connected to a major Democratic party fundraiser- that seems to have gotten special treatment [or maybe illegal suborning of perjury?] in order to get the company approved to do business.
Last week General Shelton [Air Force] gave testimony that this broadband satellite company would indeed risk the U.S.’s ability to run our defense GPS system without any private sector interference.
It seems as if this company [funded by a major inside Dem donor- once again- SOLYNDRA] wants to develop their technology- and use it in a way that would mess up our own GPS system.
So the general was asked by congress to give his professional military opinion on the thing- and the White House told him to add a few things to his presentation. He flat out said no.
The things they wanted him to add were points that would still keep ‘hope alive’ for the company- even though Shelton’s professional opinion was to the contrary.
Okay- if this is true- and this administration has a track record of doing this- then we are really headed for deep water this next year. Look- from the start of the Obama presidency I was not one of those types of critics that hated the man from the get go.
But I also noticed how many of my liberal friends were so enamored with the man- that they could not even think straight.
I was talking to a friend from N.J. one day- she’s a liberal- big time. She told me one day ‘have you ever heard a man speak like this man John- there has been no Black man that has ever spoken like this in the history of our nation’.
Now- after clearing my throat for a minute [you know- like when you get sick real quick after eating something bad] I simply told the girl ‘Do you really believe this? Or are you only watching news shows that keep feeding you that perspective’.
I told her that right now [at the time we had the conversation] there is another prominent Black Democrat- Harold Ford- a congressman from Tenn. And if you simply listen to him- without comparing him to the fake media image of Obama- then you will see that he is just as articulate- just as ‘educated’ and does a great job making Democrat points.
A few weeks later she told me ‘John- I did hear him- and you were right’.
I wasn’t demeaning to Obama at all- I was just trying to show her that for some reason- the media has chosen to support a candidate like never before.
Now- let’s say if the president realized this- that most of his insider friends realized this was happening- you might not think twice about doing special insider favors for friends- because you know these friends [the media- absent fox] will not cover it.
But alas- all has changed. Many who were cheerleaders for the president for the last 3 years- they now realize he has possibly set the party back for 50 years.
When the Queens district voted in a Repub the other night [Wieners former district] that was the first time that district went Repub in 90 years.
Okay- you did have some regional issues that played into it- that area has a strong Jewish community- and many in the Jewish community feel like Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.
But I even heard some Dems spin it- that the voters are so mad at those in office- especially the Repubs- that that’s why they threw out the Dems.
Now- how you can reason that the voters were even more mad at the Repubs- that the way they would send that message- was to vote in the first Repub in 90 years- I mean we are dealing with elements of delusion here.
Then you had a Dem [Henry Waxman] actually say ‘the Jews are more concerned with holding on to their money- so that’s why they did it’.
If this were a Repub- he’d be gone today.
I read an article the other day- it got me mad. It was a pretty long article- on the second page [okay- they thought it didn’t merit front page coverage]. It was comments made by Levi Johnson- Sarah Palin's ‘former’ son in law.
Levi is the ex boyfriend of Bristol Palin- a girl who is not in public office- she is 20 years old mind you.
This article got into the girls sex life- when she was a minor. They asked levi ‘when you got her pregnant [now you’re talking about a private citizen- a minor at the time] did IT FEEL like she was a virgin’.
Levi said as Far as he could tell- it didn’t.
Now- when my liberal friends laugh at stuff like this- and I’m standing there- I do get tempted to respond. I don’t think it’s funny- and when I watch Obermann and Matthews and O’Donnell- grown men in their 50’s/60’s- laugh openly about how ‘loose’ a minor felt when she got pregnant- that’s a disgrace.
Yet- these same media have not covered truly important stories- stories that if seem to be as bad as they look- then forget about re election campaigning [which is the reason these money guys got the special treatment] we will be lucky to not see impeachment hearings on this stuff.
So as an upfront independent- I challenge both sides of the aisle to try and get past your bias- and see what’s really going on.
When we have media that can find time- and the audacity- to print a story on Palin’s daughter- like that- then the media has lost all sense of justice.
I wanted to hit on 3 stories from Iraq- that I read this last week- but because these other things are taking the oxygen out of the room- well I had to waste time on them.
As the week ends- I am still going to keep an open mind on these things.
SOLYNDRA- LIGHT SQUARED- and don’t forget FAST AND FURIOUS. None of these stories would have gotten congressional scrutiny if the Repubs did not take back the house in the mid terms.
And now that this White House has finally gotten some real coverage- lets do our best to hear both sides. As of now- I don’t know if there is enough evidence to prove a crime has been committed- but it sure looks like one might have.
 BIBLE OVERVIEW- JOSHUA TO CHRONICLES.
I have a feeling that this week [and from here on out] we are going to be inundated with lots of scandals in the news- and before all that hits the fan- I want to do a few more posts on this brief overview of the bible that I started around a month ago.
This ‘chunk’ of scripture covers the period of the children of Israel possessing the promised land [the book of Joshua] and establishing themselves as a self governing people- no more Egyptian Pharaohs to answer to.
At the end of the book of Joshua we see that God’s people did not fully obey the Lord- they allowed some of the enemy nations to remain in the land. The history of Judges covers the period where Israel had no king [but God] yet God raised up temporary deliverers who lead them during trying times.
You had prophets too. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel fall into this chunk of scripture- and it’s during Samuels’s time that the people ask for a king ‘like the other nations around them’.
Samuel takes this personally- but God says ‘Samuel- by asking this- they have not rejected you- but me’
So even though God’s original plan did not have a king over them- yet he grants the request. King Saul becomes the 1st king. Then we have David- and his son Solomon.
We read of the history and stories of the kings in these books.
Israel will become a divided kingdom under the son of Solomon- whose name is Rehoboam. The kingdom will split between the northern 10 tribes- referred to as Israel- and the 2 southern tribes- referred to as Judah.
The northern tribes- under king Jeroboam- will establish the city of Samaria as their capitol- and Jeroboam will set up idol worship and a false competing priesthood. Why?
He realizes that if the northern tribes continue to return every year to the south- in order to carry out their worship- then they will eventually want to ‘go home’.
So Jeroboam sets up this competing ‘religion’ in order to maintain unity for his kingdom.
The northern nation will last for around 200 years- up until the time they are taken captive by the kingdom of Assyria [around 720-30 b.c.]
The southern kingdom lasts for around 350 years- until they too are taken captive- by the Babylonians [around 580 b.c.]
An interesting note; the northern kingdoms will have 20 kings reign over them during their 200 years. And from these 20 kings- you have 9 different families/dynasties represented.
The southern kingdom will last almost twice as long- they too will have 20 kings reign during their time [both the north and the south have their own different kings]. Yet they will only have 1 family/dynasty that all their kings will come from.
That was the ‘House of David’. Why?
David is from the tribe of Judah- if you remember when we covered the history of Genesis- we ended [chapter 49] with Jacob blessing his 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
When he gets to the son/tribe Judah- he says ‘the scepter shall not depart from Judah’. This promise is later personalized to David- where God promises that one of the physical sons of David will always sit ‘on the throne’.
Now- this is where it gets interesting- this promise to David- sometimes referred to as ‘the sure mercies promised to David’. This very promise is quoted by Peter in the book of Acts- as having been fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That God did indeed keep his promise to David- and raised up one of his ‘sons’ [David and Jesus both come from the lineage of Judah] to take the throne- forever.
That’s good stuff- for sure.
Okay- after the kingdoms [northern and southern] are taken captive- God raises up various prophets who basically speak Gods word to the people in their various states of captivity [this is contained in the other O.T. books of the prophets].
So in a way- you just saw a panoramic view of the whole Old Testament.
Now- of course we skipped a lot of ground- didn’t get into the great defeat of Goliath by David- or talk about the confrontation between king Ahab [a wicked king from the north] and the prophet Elijah.
We did not cover the walls of Jericho falling down as the people walked around the city for 7 days.
Yes- there are lots of good stories in these books- but when we [I] do an overview like this- what we are trying to do is simply give a broad outline of what we are looking at.
The same goes for the N.T. overview we did.
Too often when new believers [or old!] make an attempt to ‘get into the bible’ they start with Genesis- and they quit in Leviticus!
It’s easy to get lost in the details- while not seeing the big picture.
So I like for believers to first go through a good overview of bible history- not so much a study of each book- which is good in its time- but more of getting a good grasp of the overriding themes.
Let’s end with an interesting encounter that Jesus had with a woman from ‘Samaria’. In John chapter 4 Jesus sees a woman at the well- he asks her ‘can you draw some water for me’. She is shocked- she says ‘why are you- a Jew- asking me- a Samaritan- to do this’.
And in parentheses- the apostle John writes [the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans]. This can actually be translated in a way that says legally the southern tribe of Judah was not allowed to do business with the northern tribe of Israel- now referred to as ‘the Samaritans’ which is the name of that original competing capitol city that Jeroboam set up in the north.
Ah- the racism- the elitism- it carried for hundreds of year- centuries of viewing the ‘other side’ as unclean.
What Jesus did at the well that day was indeed a violation of the rule of the day. When his disciples came back- and saw him talking to the woman- they were speechless.
This Samaritan woman goes on to believe in Jesus- and she goes and tells all the people in her home town- and many of them will believe too.
Something- after all those years- once again the Samaritans- and the Jews- and the Gentiles- well yes- the whole bunch- they will all become united once again under this king- this Son that has come from the royal line of Judah.
John writes about him in his strange book- called the book of Revelation- in chapter 5 he says no one was able to prevail to open the book in the hand of God.
There was crying- John and the others in this heavenly room before God felt hopeless.
Then an angel says to John ‘don’t weep- the lion FROM THE TRIBE OF JUDAH- he has prevailed to open the book and loose the seals- yes he is worthy’.
 BRISON PHILLIPS
The other day this name popped into my mind- you know- one of those real clear memories- sort of like ‘geez- maybe God wants me to pray for the guy’. I knew that couldn’t be it.
This last week we have had a few big news stories- the SOLYNDRA scandal [by the way- the execs are gonna plead the 5th- that’s bad!].
We also had a few tragic events. A couple of air show disasters back to back. Here where I live in Corpus Christ- if you Google the map- I live about 200 yards from the Naval Air Station.
As a funny memory- 30 years ago I had my Captains Mast right on this base [a technical court thing- to kick you out after you screwed up one 2 many times- too much partying and fighting is not stuff the Navy puts ups with].
I worked for 25 years at another Naval base city- Kingsville [with the Fire Dept.]
Whenever the air base has an air show in Corpus- the planes fly directly over my house. Right after I moved to the area I realized all the locals sit on their roofs when the shows are on- you see them up close- couldn’t get a better view if you were in the stands.
In Kingsville the base used to request that the city ambulance stand by at the air shows- you know- heat exhaustion or every now and then a heart attack.
Lots of people watching the show in the heat- to have an ambulance right there shortened the response time.
Now- most of the young guys took that gig- sure you got overtime- but the older guys [who played Captain and engineer- truck pumper] we usually didn’t go for it.
But one year  I thought- what the heck- yeah I’ll work the show. Me and Sam showed up- nice day. The Kingsville base was actually the base I was stationed at when I first came to Texas.
The show would last a couple of hours- you would get paid a minimum of 3 hours overtime and it was really easy duty- usually.
I was just standing there- watching the show- just like the crowd. And right in front of us- an f-16 fighter crashes.
Of course the crowd was shocked- and we are really not there for something like this- but to be honest- I broke the rules and told Sam ‘lets roll’.
We drove right across the air strip [which we did not have clearance for- but it felt like the base had no idea what to do either].
The plane crashed in a wooded area so we parked right at the spot where the plane went over- and had to jump the fence.
To be honest- I was not supposed to be doing this- but I followed the Navy team that was on the ground [special investigators] and was the first fire fighter at the location.
You couldn’t recognize the plane- total destruction. I wasn’t sure if the pilot bailed or not- some in the crowd thought they saw him eject.
After going through the rubble- we found a foot. Perfectly intact- but that was it.
Major Brison Phillips- a very experienced pilot who saw action in Iraq- died that day.
Yesterday I read his name in the San Antonio paper. They were talking about the air show disasters that have happened in Texas.
To my surprise- there have only been 5. The first one in 1943- then down the line until this past year. The Crash I was at was number 4 [I think?]
After I thought about it- maybe God was ‘showing’ me his name- for me to pray for pilots that week. We did later have the crashes. I just couldn’t put 2 and 2 together- I knew Brison was already dead so when his name came to me like that- I was a little confused.
I cut out the news article and stuck it on my ‘funeral wall’. Whenever one of my friends dies- if I see the article in the paper I’ll cut it out and pin it to this spot- sort of like a reminder that life is short.
The bible says ‘teach us to number our days- so we might apply our hearts to wisdom’.
Brison was a good man- real hero who served well. I wonder if it’s smart for us to do shows that have high danger ‘tricks’ [Brison was doing a ‘Split- S’ when he died].
I realize the pilots- and the fans- want the freedom to take the risks- and in a free country- well that’s the choice.
But the high risk things- like the Nevada crash- flying old modified planes at 500 MPH- I don’t know about that.
Maybe today would be a good day to pray for the wives and kids who have lost their loved ones in these crashes- sort of a little ‘memorial day’ for them.
 PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES [OR THE SEAL].
I heard a news story the other day- some kids in a Massachusetts school district found a stranded baby seal on the beach one day. So like most environmentally minded young folk- they rescued the seal and brought him back to their town.
As the news got out- the town decided to adopt this helpless thing- and they went all out- the school district put out lots of money [they spent about 80 thousand overall] and after a couple of years- little ‘flipper’ was ready to launch.
So they all went down to the ocean one morning- and it was truly a tearful moment [maybe a little too tearful?]. As they launched their beloved child- you know- sending him [her] off to brave new worlds- places ‘no seal has gone before’- as soon as the lad was released- an Orca [killer whale] came up from the water- and swallowed him whole.
Now- you have the kids and all standing at the shore- asking their elders ‘mommy- daddy- what happened’. And of course that began a long week of mourning for the whole town. Whose fault was this? Was it anybody’s fault? Would it be right to make this someone’s fault?
As we enter this last year of the president’s term- for whatever reason- he has made a conscious decision to ‘blame the rich’. Now- those of you know me- and have read my posts for a while- will realize that I am no defender of ‘the rich’.
I have worked with poor people for most of my life- and I refuse offerings or help- because I have always felt that the influence of money [like ministries always begging for it] has been a blight on the church.
Yet at the same time- there are lots of very hard working people- who are being categorized as ‘the rich’ who don’t pay their ‘fair share’.
In the current Obama plan- couples making over 250 thousand a year [and singles making 200] are considered ‘the rich’.
Now- depending on where you live- this might be rich- or maybe not.
Where I grew up in N.J. - if you’re a cop- or firefighter- maybe the wife is a teacher- you might fall into this rich group.
And if you are paying the very high North East mortgage payment- then to hit a family like that with a huge tax increase- well that’s gonna hurt.
The example the president keeps using- well he’s making it sound like most of the rich are really paying less. The truth is we do have a graduated income tax rate in this country- that goes up as you make more.
I think the bottom is at around 5 %- the top around 29 % [plus you have around 40-50 % who pay no federal income taxes at all]. So why is the president saying the rich pay less than their secretaries? [Buffett’s famous line]. Because Buffett- like a few other billionaires- pays only capital gains tax- taxes on investment income and dividends from stocks.
Yes- for those few fortunate billionaires- they have managed to live off of the interest- and the tax on that kind of income is around 15 %.
How many of ‘the rich’ are not paying ‘their fair share’ by doing this. I don’t have the exact number off hand- but it’s close to around 1 % of all those who file who make around a million a year or more.
The point is- the people who are ‘not paying their fair share’ are not the people the president is branding as ‘those who are not paying their fair share’.
So- it’s just dow right unfair to the working cop and teacher- who might be getting hit with the new ‘fair rate’ and to brand them as not pulling their weight in society- when the truth is- these are the people who are really paying close to 80% of all the taxes in the country.
Now- I do think we should get rid of corporate loopholes- and yes- if we do a ‘billionaires’ tax type thing- to deal with the few Buffett’s of the world- than I really don’t care much.
But the reality is most of those being accused of not paying their fair share- well- they are paying the lions share right now.
It’s easy to get people on your side- if you find a noble cause [saving the baby seal- or helping the poor working folk] and if you can put the blame for this injustice on someone else- then you almost always win [the argument- though you might still lose the seal].
I’m sure the kids at the beach that day would have liked to have blamed ‘that darn Orca- taking more than he should- probably eats more than the other species of fish- who are struggling in life- but no- this bully had to have the very last bite-‘ and on and on.
When we feel like an injustice has happened- like the scales are not tipping right- we want to find a scapegoat- to find the real culprit’s behind the injustice. Sometimes things happen- sometimes societies [Greece- Italy this week] overpromise too much to people- and if these societies are spending money they don’t have- well it’s easy to blame it on the Orca- the ‘big bully’ who seems to get his full- while we baby seals are left here on the shore struggling to survive.
I know it’s hard to take this position and defend the ‘Orcas of the world’ and the whole reason some people blame the Orcas- well- it’s because they know they are an easy target- you don’t get many people to stand up for the right of the Orca to eat the baby seal.
But this is such a dangerous game- and it’s unfair to the majority of people who are in this ‘rich’ category [not the Buffett’s] who are really paying their fair share- and more.
I think the president should make this clear- and not divide the country over this- sure- you might be on the side that will naturally garner the most sympathy- but that still doesn’t make it right.
 THE YEAR UZZIAH DIED
After the debate last night I caught the 1st 7 minutes or so of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As an avid news watcher- I try to catch what the most influential pundits are saying at the time.
Though Stewart is a comedian news guy- yet he usually gives you a balanced view- with a few F bombs thrown in every so often.
So his top skit was today’s vote at the U.N. [well- they won’t vote today on it] the Palestinian request for the U.N. to recognize them as a state [nation- called nation states in that part of the world].
Stewart did a pretty funny [and eye opening] skit. He had one of his reporters ‘report’ from Halifax- Nova Scotia [of course he shoots these scenes from his area- I guess?] And the skit was that the new Holy Land is actually Halifax.
That they discovered this new scroll [in his hand] and the evidence pointed to Halifax as the spot.
So as they talk the reporter also pronounces Halifax with a rolling ‘Hal’ you know- to make it sound Jewish.
So- after this new find- I guess the whole war over the ‘2 state’ solution is now resolved- right? Wrong.
On the split screen you have the Muslim reporter show up- and he makes the claim that Muhammad actually found Halifax first- he even says he has proof that ‘the prophet’ was there- they have evidence that he caught a huge fish once on a visit.
Now of course- these guys are all taking risks with this stuff- but it is funny. So the ‘Jewish’ reporter says ‘okay- show me the picture and I’ll believe it’. Of course- in Islam- it’s blasphemous to depict the prophet in a picture- so they go back and forth on the thing- The Muslim guy pronouncing Halifax with a sort of Muslim drawl [Halalafax].
The sad thing is- even though it’s a comedy show- Stewart showed us how all the religious ‘wars’ and fights- how they look to the ‘outside world’.
As I have been doing a ‘jump around’ study on the Old Testament these last few weeks- in my own study [for the posts] I am at the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah is one of the Major Prophets- he is quoted more than any other Old Testament prophet- in the N.T.
There are more famous prophecies from Isaiah- about Jesus- than any other prophet [A Virgin shall conceive and have a child].
When we read the books of the bible- we usually have pretty accurate dates on when the book was written- at what time the prophet lived.
In Isaiah’s case he gives us a specific date to his calling- in chapter 6 he says ‘in the year that king Uzziah died- I saw the Lord’.
King Uzziah [a king in Israel] died in the year 740 B.C.
If you walk down to the Mediterranean shore from Israel- you can look North West and see Italy. In the year 740 B.C. - Rome became a city. Of course it would be centuries before Rome would become the capital of the world empire- yet it was birthed as a city the same year Isaiah was called by God.
If you look west- you see Egypt, Libya and Tunisia- all places where the ‘Arab Spring’ has taken root.
It’s amazing to think- that after thousands of years- this whole area is still one of the most influential news making spots on the map.
After John the Baptist baptized Jesus- the Spirit descended on Jesus ‘like a dove’ and the bible tells us ‘the Spirit DROVE Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’.
In Luke’s account [chapter 4] One of the first events to take place after the wilderness test- was Jesus goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath- and as ‘his custom was’ he ‘opened the book and read’.
Now that’s the way the English version reads. But it really doesn’t give you the full picture. The Jewish people [till this day] don’t have their bibles [Called Torah for Jews- Pentateuch for Christians- which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament] in book form.
They have their bibles in scroll form. It’s actually part of their worship to have these beautiful hand written scrolls- which cost thousands of dollars to make- in this form.
So when you read ‘Jesus opened the book and found the place’ it really means he unrolled the scroll- and came to the spot where the reading was marked for that day.
I have heard many preachers over the years correctly say that it was a scroll- yet they seem to think that Jesus just unrolled the thing and supernaturally came to the spot where he read from.
No- the spot was already marked out the week before- he was just reading from this predetermined spot.
Now- he reads a famous passage ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach’ and the prophecy goes on and talks about the ministry of the Messiah.
Now- for Jesus to have read this- and for the people to have heard-was nothing out of the ordinary- until what happened next.
Jesus then ‘closed the book’ and says ‘This day this prophecy has been fulfilled in your ears’ and the bible says that the eyes of everyone there were fixated on him.
Jesus read from Isaiah 61 that day- the prophet that was called 740 years earlier.
This happened right after the temptation- it was the difficulty- the tests- the very tough things he went through- it was these things that gave him the ability to speak- and for all the people to hear.
As they will present the Palestinian request today- and as this same land- where Jesus walked- Isaiah heard God- the devil tempted Jesus- as this land once again becomes the center of attention- I hope we don’t all look like the caricature that Jon Stewart showed- brilliantly- on his show.
Quite often ‘the world’ sees the church [religious fights in general] as stupid and silly. They see certain adherents willing to fight- and kill- over their beliefs.
They see a never ending feud between groups of people who are so fixated on a certain side- an issue- that it seems almost impossible to sit down and actually treat the other side as human beings- who are all indeed created in the image of God- who Jesus said ‘even if we see them as our enemy- we are to love them’.
Isaiah was a cultured man- not like most of the other prophets. He had influence in the politics of his day- and most Christians today revere his prophecies as at the top of the list- as far as prophets go.
In chapter 6- after he saw God- and heard the call- he responded ‘I am a man of unclean lips- it the middle of people who are also unclean’.
And the bible says an angel took a ‘live coal’ from the fire and put it in on the prophet’s lips. God was saying ‘Yes Isaiah- you are unclean- this whole nation is unclean- man is unclean- yet when I use people to speak to a people- it’s based on my character- not yours’.
Isaiah would fulfill the mission- and be honored by having Jesus read from his scroll on the opening day of the preaching ministry of Jesus- and for him to have said ‘today- this has been fulfilled in your ears’.
 EINSTEIN WRONG?
There’s been much buzz these last few days on an experiment that seems to have proven Einstein wrong. These Physicists shot some sub atomic particles [Neutrinos] underground and supposedly clocked them going faster than the speed of light [by 60 nano seconds]
Now- as someone who never went for that ‘book learnin’- yes- in high school I clearly remember telling my guidance counselor- from year 1- that I will never attend college- so just give me the easiest classes to pass [yes- I really did say this- and they seemed to get miffed at me].
So- I never took Physics- or Algebra! I mean- not even the basics. One year the counselor said ‘John- even if you don’t go to college- we require you to at least have 1 year of math’.
I took ‘shop math’. Mr. Hildebrand- that class was the definition of ‘skate’. So over the years I have had to read up- and even when I took the entrance examines for the Fire Dept. I had to get a few books on Algebra- just to pass the test! [Yet I always scored high on tests].
Okay- why would breaking the speed of light mess up Einstein? In the world of physics you have had 3 main stages. In the ancient world we had ‘ancient physics’- then with the scientific revolution and men like Newton- we entered a stage called classical physics. And in the 20th century we had Einstein.
He would launch the field into what we now call Modern physics. He is the father of modern physics.
In 1905 he wrote 4 scientific papers- one of them was on Special Relativity.
Classical physics dealt with matter, energy- space and time. But what Einstein did was he seemed to breach the gap between these fields.
He would show us that these fields are not separate- they actually function and exist together as one fabric that exists in the universe.
Now- the formula most of us are familiar with is the famous E=mc2. This formula [not developed in any of the 1905 papers by the way] basically is a conversion factor between mass and energy.
All mass/matter has energy contained within it- if you could find ways to convert that mass into energy- then this formula showed you how much energy you would get [if you could convert all the mass in a raisin- into pure energy- you could light the city of N.Y.- on one raisin!]
Now- most people equate this formula with Nuclear energy. While this is true- yet this formula applies to all forms of mass into energy conversion. Coal power plants- gasoline in your car- even the conversion of food into energy in the human body- it is not only a formula for nuclear energy.
Okay- what about light speed? The formula actually tells us that the way you calculate the amount of energy in ‘the mass’- is you take the mass- multiply it by ‘c- squared’ and that’s the amount of energy. What’s c? C is simply the letter that represents the speed of light.
All of Einstein’s theories work off the theory that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. So- if these guys did prove that these sub atomic particles did indeed break the record- then yes- there will be a lot of changes that will need to be made to one of the most tested- and popular theories of all time.
Now- what did Einstein prove by his theories? Why was his first paper on relativity called ‘special relativity’? In the initial calculation- Einstein had a problem- as he continued to grapple with the impact his ideas would have- something he saw did not seem to fit in with the age old belief that the universe is eternal.
Carl Sagan used to say the universe is all there ever was- and all there ever will be [he was wrong by the way].
What Einstein ‘saw’ was that the universe seemed to be expanding- at a very rapid rate. His calculations also seemed to indicate that this expansion was ongoing- that it has never stopped expanding.
How could this be? Well- Einstein could not fully accept his own findings- and he simply fudged the numbers. Yes- he added this cosmological constant- this arbitrary mathematical calculation- that slowed everything down. He ‘made’ his theory say the expansion would stop at a certain point.
Later on he would realize [through the discoveries made by the Hubble telescope] that his initial observation was right- the universe is in a nonstop expansion as we speak.
He would call this mistake the greatest blunder of his career.
So what were the implications? Well we got the Big Bang out of this- the implications were that the universe was not eternal. That time and space and all matter had a beginning point.
This is the strongest scientific argument for the existence of God today. If the physical world as we know it- had a starting point- then the only rational explanation is there had to have been some type of ‘first cause’ that initiated the bang.
That’s fact- Einstein [nor anyone else] has ever proved that the universe had no initial cause. As a matter of fact- that would contradict the laws of logic and science. The law we refer to as Cause and Effect.
Some very brilliant men have stumbled over this. The atheist Bertrand Russell- who grew up as a Christian- said he thought to himself one day ‘if everything has to have a cause- then why not say that the universe is the thing that started it all- why not question whether or not God even had something that caused him’?
Sounds right? Or does it. Russell made the tragic mistake of thinking ‘everything has to have had a cause’. Actually- that’s not what the law of cause and effect states.
The law says ‘every effect has to have had a cause’. It is not illogical to have some type of being- a ‘first causer’ who by definition- had to be around forever. If you follow all the arguments through- you in fact need a Transcendent being [someone who transcends time and space] in order for this whole system to work.
So at the end of the day Einstein gave the church one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God- he showed us that all creation did indeed have a starting point- and he took us no further back than that.
Do I think the recent discovery is earth shattering? Well- if it’s correct- then yes- it will be. But I would bet money on the side of Einstein on this one.
If the calculations prove accurate- then we will need to make some adjustments to modern physics- but I don’t think it would totally ‘throw him under the bus’.
I have found it funny that most of the reporters talking about this- they would say ‘so- does this mean time travel might be real?’
You know- the T.V. talking heads have to have something they can say- in a short clip- that they think sounds intelligent.
Theoretically- Einstein has already shown us that ‘time travel’ can happen. Will man ever be able to travel at those ‘light speeds’? Doubtful [the speed of light is about 180 thousand miles a second].
But it’s good for people to be informed- as much as possible- about these things. I have heard/seen many people make unsound arguments against the existence of God- and lots of times they use Einstein- or modern science- as in if science has somehow showed us that God does not exist.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ll end with this- the very smart atheist- Anthony Flew- spent years trying to disprove the existence of God. He was at the top of his field [a brilliant scientist] who made Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris [modern popular atheists] look like amateurs.
A few years ago – he confessed that he now believes that there has to have been some type of infinite being- God- who started everything.
He said the Teleological argument [an apologetic argument that tries to prove the existence of God by design in the creation] finally convinced him. Any sane person- looking out into the sky at night- or studying animals- plants- man.
Any person who thinks that all of these things actually came from nothing- he just realized that proposition no longer had any legs to it.
No- the universe is not eternal [Einstein showed us that] and if not- it could not have popped into existence from nothing- that simply is not scientifically possible.
Note- our sun burns 400 million tons of matter into energy every second! A stretched rubber band weighs more than one at rest [energy weighs]. A charged battery weighs more than a dead one- the charge [energy] itself adds to the weight.
 FLUFFY THE CAT
The other day I was going to write a post on the Greek debt crisis- the silly yoyo that the markets have been rising and falling on. At the end of last week the market fell- because a few top financial guys were seriously talking about letting Greece default.
Then the next few days there was ‘hope’ that they were all going to work things out. Then before I got the chance to post- yes- another market downturn- there was buzz that the Germans were feeling uneasy.
The silly thing about all this- is the facts are the facts. Will Greece go insolvent- probably yes. They are about 500 billion dollars in debt [a lot] and after all the promised bailout money- from their central bank system [much like our fed] they are only on their second bailout payment [around 130 billion or so] and the other stronger economies in the Euro Zone are wanting to bail.
Why? I have covered this before- but you basically have a situation- much like our own countries bailout- where certain European nations have gotten in debt over their heads- and when the danger of private investors- who bought all these bonds from these countries- when they see the possibility of losing their fortunes- they sound the bell ‘the world is falling apart- quick- bail us out’.
Now- is the world falling apart? For these Wall Street folk- yes indeed. That’s why they panic. When we bailed out Wall Street and the banks in our country- many of these insider financial guys who warned the president [s] about the danger- these guys were also in peril of losing their money.
All their friends/families- everything they have- would have been lost if the banks and markets collapsed. So what did we do? The nation covered the losses [for men like Buffet- who keep saying how guilty they feel about their low tax rate. Maybe this is part of the guilt- you think?]
Now- in the Greek crisis- that’s exactly what the Germans [the strongest Euro Zone economy- the U.K. is not part of the Euro Zone] are saying. They want the private investors to take a greater loss- before they spend their own tax payer’s money on a bailout. Many are now openly questioning whether or not Greece should just go belly up- and take the hit.
I read a piece in the N.Y. Times the other day- the headline was ‘Should Greece default on its debt’.
So some are beginning to catch on here.
You have had other Sovereigns default- Argentina, Russia, etc.- yet their debt was around 80 billion at the time. Greece’s debt is 500 billion- so the default could be systemic- it could affect Italy and some other struggling economies- the European banks would also take around a 400 billion dollar hit- so it could be a big problem.
Okay- why mention this? No matter what any single person says- or some European financial guy quits [like last week] none of this will change the facts on the ground. If the other Euro Zone nations are already balking at this second Payment to Greece- then that means most of the ‘insiders’ are beginning to think that they might as well let Greece default- and just take the hit.
Some felt [and still feel] that when we bailed out companies and banks- out of fear that we can’t allow ‘too big to fail’ fail- that we simply prolonged the pain.
This next year- our country is going to suffer. Lots of the bailout money that was spent [the 800 billion stimulus- plus the actual bailout] was spent simply propping up the states budgets for the last few years. Now- the states are going to have to cut back- lots- this next year- the moneys gone.
The housing market is still bad- the system has not bottomed and cleared out the hit from the bubble- and we did things to ‘stall the pain’ okay- now we are paying for that.
So- all the financial gurus talking about ‘hold on’ or investors hanging on the words of one guy- is nonsense. All these macro problems- still left in the system- they are not going away so easily.
I heard a British trader give a BBC interview the other day- he shocked the audience. He said all the insider traders have fled Greek debt- and any other investments associated with European debt- and they are preparing for a sort of mini European depression.
Now- he talked for about 5 minutes [the parts I heard] and much of what he was saying- I believe to be honest- that the insiders often do the opposite of what they tell the public.
After his interview- the BBC came out and said he was ‘a plant’- a Plant? From where? They said he was one of those ‘doom and gloom’ guys- who really wants to scare people- so he can profit off of it later.
Look- I have no idea how legitimate the guy was- but I knew much of what he said was true- and the truth is- the insiders often don’t want the general public to know certain things- and they don’t tell them either!
How gullible are we? A few years ago one of the history channels began promoting a major upcoming event. They were going to once and for all- reveal the true Missing Link. They supposedly found the fossil that would prove Evolution was true. Now- they spent a lot on the promo’s- and as they built up the thing- at the end of the promo- there it was- an actual picture of the fossil that would turn the whole world on its head.
When I saw the actual fossil- I laughed openly. Sort of like when Will Ferrell tells Christina Applegate [Anchorman] ‘When you told me you too wanted to be an anchor man- I wrote it in my journal- I said ‘she told me a very funny thing- I am laughing’. [You know the comedy is based on the good ole boy network].
So as I watched the ad every few days- yes- I laughed- openly.
Why? Because anyone who knows anything about the whole debate on Evolution can tell you- that’s not what ANYBODY is looking for.
Sure- this cat like fossil might be of use somewhere- but in the Missing Link debate- it had no use.
Now- as I mocked the thing- at work- at home- every time I saw it- I would be doubted by some ‘John- how do you know that’s not the Link- are you smarter than the scientists’.
People believe what the media tells/shows them- and they allow themselves to be duped- lots. After a few months of the pathetic fluffy fossil making the rounds- they finally pulled the whole show.
Why? As I read a few science articles about it- as the months passed- many of the ‘other’ scientists [those who were not profiting directly form the thing] also laughed- yes just like me- just like Burgundy- yes they laughed too.
Why- they said what I said- that what this silly cat fossil has to do with a missing link between man and monkey- well it was foolish.
The channel dropped the whole show- the scientist who did indeed by the fossil for a lot of money [it was around for a while- but no one wanted to purchase it] yes- they all had personal reasons to want people to think a certain way- if they believed that this thing was truly historical- then they would make money.
And they labeled the critics- initially- as those silly creationists who deny science. Yet the facts were- science was on the side of those who laughed at Fluffy- I’m sure she was a nice pet- but a missing link? Not.
I have another article here that I wanted to cover- the same basic thing- about a British Atlas that fudged the amount of ice that has melted off Iceland- they had fake pictures and all- finally the scientific community came out quickly to debunk it- they did not want another fiasco like the fake global warming story a few years back.
The whole point is- people have agendas- the financial guys have agendas- those in the media- they have agendas. Are all of these people wrong? Of course not- do I too have an agenda? Sure- we all do.
But as you read/watch the news- as you make judgments on ‘what is true and what is false’ don’t always go with the flow- the initial thing that your ‘told’ to believe- sometimes they want you to believe- they might even think that their deception is noble ‘geez- we know it’s not really true- but in the end it will be better for us all’.
Yet- it would be better for us all- if we simply got the facts- and did not have to wade thru all the bias.
I don’t know what the European debt crisis will end up like- nor does anyone else. But for the market to be doing these 500 point swings- from one day to the next- based on what Angela Merkle says- or some financial guy- well that’s silly.
The facts are the facts- they are not changing that much from week to week [or day to day!]- not enough for the market to swing like that.
Are we going to have a double dip recession? It sure looks that way too me. Did I think this a year ago- no. Why? The signs looked a lot better then- the last few months- for a lot of reasons- they don’t look so good.
We don’t need to hear what Bernanke says [that much] or what Buffet thinks- we can read the broad indicators- and see for ourselves.
Look- for a few months I was laughing at the cat fossil- even at the risk of my buddies thinking ‘John- he’s one of those creationists who rejects science- how sad’. Then after the truth came out- at the end of the day- my ‘friends’ actually believed Fluffy was the missing link- when in reality she made some cave man a very nice pet- and that was it.
 HOME ALONE?
This past week a bombshell book hit the stores- Confidence Men- by Ron Susskind.
Susskind was given access to the White House over a period of many months- and he gave Obama a very strong critique. He said that the first couple of years of the administration- that the catch phrase was ‘Home Alone’.
Apparently one of his top financial guys was actually running the show [Larry Summers]. He would tell another finance guy [Peter Orzag] that ‘if we weren’t here- doing everything- no one would be in charge’- they were Home Alone.
Now- the defenders of the pres. have come out and given their side. But after hearing both sides- it simply looks like- yes- the pres. was really not experienced [no executive experience?] for the task at hand.
I remember when Clinton [Bill] got into hot water when Hillary was running against Obama- at one point he said ‘this whole thing is a big joke!’
In context- he was talking about the Obama candidacy. He- like many others- felt like a one term senator from Illinois- who is in the first 2 years of his term- that there is no way any other candidate would be taken this seriously- with no real experience.
At the time they branded good old Bill as a racist- but what he was saying was the mood in the country- the excitement that many people had- a historic moment to elect the first Black president- that these things all played into the election [nomination] of Obama.
So- many of these more experienced political guys were right- even those who were Democrats.
As we end the week- let me throw in a couple of bible chapters that I have read this last week.
Genesis 49- and Ezekiel 33.
I have spoken about Gen. 49 a few times over these past few weeks. You get the story of Jacob blessing his 12 sons [the 12 tribes of Israel].
The blessing over Joseph says ‘you are a fruitful vine planted by a well- your branches go over the wall- the archers shot at you and wounded you- yet your bow remained strong’.
This was a brief way to cover the experiences of Joseph.
Though I have not read Genesis in a while- I remember the story well.
Joseph is famous for being the son who left the fold at a young age- his brothers betrayed him and he was eventually sold into Egypt as a slave.
In Egypt Joseph rose up the ranks- he was put in charge of a very important household- and he did a great job [gained lots of executive experience].
One day the wife- who had a crush on Joseph- tries to sleep with the guy [yes- bible stories are very real] and he refuses. She later accuses him of rape.
He winds up in prison- unjustly accused- and has to put in some more time being rejected by those he tried to benefit.
In jail he interprets a few dreams for some guys that are top guys in pharaoh’s administration- and that eventually gets him out of jail.
In time he rises to the 2nd highest influential position in Egypt- and is number 2 to pharaoh in power.
God reveals to Joseph that there will be a famine [recession- double dip!] in the land- and he advises pharaoh to implement this plan where they store up a lot of extra grain [those darn conservatives!] for 7 good years- so when the bad years come- they will be the only gig in town [China?]
Sure enough- the famine comes and all the surrounding nations come to Egypt for financial [grain] help. This will bring the family of Joseph to Egypt too.
Now- the brothers and Jacob [the dad] thought Joseph actually died years ago. The boys tricked the dad into thinking he was killed- and as far as the brothers knew- maybe he was dead.
As they come for the aid- Joseph recognizes them- but they don’t know who he is. Joseph is speaking the Egyptian language when he’s with them- using an interpreter.
Yet when the brothers talk- he secretly knows what they are saying.
Joseph finally gets them all to come ‘down’ into Egypt- the whole family- and they have this great reunion- Joseph was the son who saved the family from ruin.
The same son who was rejected by the family years earlier. At one point in the story Joseph says ‘what you meant for evil- God meant for good’.
Joseph realized that his brothers did ‘mean evil’ he didn’t try and whitewash the reality that some wanted him gone- jealousy and sibling rivalry were very real- and Joseph called it like it was.
But he was able to see what the apostle Paul would pen many years later ‘all things work for good to them that love God- to those who are called according to his purpose’ [Romans]
There are rumors that the N.Y. times is going to possibly run a story- detailing that the president has been suffering from severe depression- that the job is much more demanding than he thought- and that he has had some major problems with being pres.
True? Have no idea.
In Joseph’s case- yes he was hated- and rejected. He would spend years being falsely accused- and in time- we would get a very top position- yet he was prepared for the job- his life experiences built character into him- character that would be needed for him to fulfill the mission.
Did Joseph get depressed at times? I’m sure he did- he kept getting the short end of the stick- thru out most if his life.
Yet in the end there was a purpose.
Today I want to simply encourage you guys [and gals] many of us are going thru things- good stuff- bad stuff- all types of stuff.
Maybe you’re at the beginning stage- maybe the stage where you feel unjustly accused- rejected.
Others might just be getting out of ‘prison’ and might be on the verge of new things.
Some of us might be sitting in a ‘White House’ thinking- how in the heck did I wind up here!’
Wherever you are at- in the end- all things will work for good- if you love God.
As you know by now- yesterday morning we killed one of the top Al Qaeda guys in Yemen. We got him [and another top guy] with one of those drone strikes [unmanned plane].
Since we have already gone thru one news cycle on the thing- let’s talk.
President Obama seems to be lying lower with the ‘promotion’ aspect of this hit. In comparison to the Bin Laden hit- he is taking this one more slowly.
Why? A few reasons- after the Bin Laden kill some of our military guys [and some of the wives of the husbands on seal team 6!] Openly complained that they did not want their families to become targets. It’s rare to announce the actual group who carried out the hit.
Second- Awlaki [and the other guy] just happened to be American citizens. So what does that mean?
First- I’m of the view that citizen or not- when you align yourself with a group that advocates the killing of Americans- then you become a target.
But the problem is- all people do not hold to this view. There are some progressive types [liberal] who view the entire ‘war on terror’ as an abuse by Bush/Cheney on the ‘rights’ of those we are fighting against.
Yes- during the 2008 campaign- the whole mantra leading up to it- was the idea that the Bush view of ‘war on terror’ was actually wrong.
Some Democrats fought for the less militant view- one that said ‘yes- 9-11 was wrong- but our approach will be less of a ‘war’ against terror- and more along the lines of fighting against individual criminal acts’.
Okay- whatever side you’re on- no matter to me- the point I’m making is this was Obama’s view.
Along with this whole mindset came the talk ‘we can defend our nation- without violating our basic moral principles’ on and on went the talk- they were all saying that the Gitmo [Cuba] detainment facilities were a violation of prisoner’s rights.
Those military trials would be unfair- that we need to Mirandize these folk- and give them ‘their’ basic constitutional rights.
The Bush position was ‘we are at war- these guys are enemy combatants- taken from the field- you don’t get constitutional rights’.
Obama’s view was different- and it was purely ideological- not based on any real experience- just saying what he needed to say- to appease his base [that’s why he read the rights to the underwear bomber- remember?]
So Obama got elected- what was one of the first things he did as Pres?
He gave an executive order- as promised- to shut down the ‘prison’ in Cuba within a year.
For those who don’t follow this stuff- the U.S. base at Cuba [where my wife used to be stationed] houses the prisoners we captured in the field- and Bush also built a special court for military trials to be held there- so these guys could be held- off U.S. ground- and stay there until we tried them.
Now- why hold them there? Bush and his legal team knew- that if we hold [and try] them in the U.S.- then there will be lots of challenges to ‘giving them their rights’ some have advocated from the start that Bush was violating these guys rights- and that indeed- Bush and Cheney [and Rummy] were actually war criminals [I kid you not].
So after Obama got in- he swore- in a year Gitmo will close. Okay- what has happened?
Year 1 went by- and it didn’t close- year 2- the same thing. As we entered into year 3- Obama began making plans to shut the thing [he actually started moving on it in year 2].
He had to decide ‘where will we put these guys’? And ‘where will we try them’- remember- Obama’s ideology [for good or ill] was holding these guys as combatants- and not giving them constitutional protections [these guys are non citizens by the way] was a violation of ‘our basic morals’.
How were these prisoners being treated John? I’m glad you asked. Gitmo is around 90 miles south of Fla. You know- the same beaches of South Miami.
These guys were given brand new Korans on arrival- prayer rugs. 3 times a day they were free to worship- they were given special food- in keeping with their religious beliefs.
Yet one time- okay I’ll admit it- they were treated badly. They actually filed a complaint!
We were giving them ice cream 7 days a week with their evening meal- and for some reason [budget?] we cut it down to once a week- they got mad and filed a complaint [this is not a joke by the way].
So these were the guys that Obama [and many on his side] viewed as victims of the Bush/Cheney regime.
After 3 years- Obama tried to close the prison [and court] down- move the guys to various prisons throughout the U.S. [dumb move indeed] and try the guys in downtown Manhattan.
Bloomberg and Schumer took heat [N.Y. politicos] from their own Dem [and Independent] base- and they told Obama ‘how bout you don’t try the guys here’.
Then they grappled with a few other spots- what the security costs would be- the whole process of Mirandizing these guys [which they did do already] and treating them like American citizens- with full constitutional rights- not like enemy combatants.
So what happened? This year- after all the rhetoric on how Gitmo is the number one recruiting tool for terrorists [false] all the ice cream violations- yes- after this being one of the top priorities of Obama- he has decided to keep the guys at Gitmo- and try them there- under military trials.
He has decided that the Bush way- the way he had condemned and accused those who were part of it as ruining the country- yes- he has decided that’s the adult way to go.
Okay- said all that to say this. Obama fought very hard to give constitutional rights to the 5 guys we are holding that were involved with 9-11. This was a part of his belief- whether sincere or not- this became the way some liberals fought against conservatives.
Sy Hirsch- a liberal writer- wrote a piece in the New Yorker [before Obama became pres.] and he said seal team 6 [the guys who got Bin Laden] were Cheney’s personal hit squad- who were out violating the laws of the land. After they got Bin Laden- under Obama’s orders- they were called heroes by these same people who formerly called them Cheney’s hit team [and Obama was called decisive!]
This was the mindset- this was the view.
So- what happened yesterday? We killed 2 American citizens. These were not non citizens- who Obama deemed worthy of getting constitutional rights- these were actual citizens- who had them!
Now- if you hold the Bush view- enemy combatants- war on terror- the whole 9 yards- then doing this is legal- because during war- you can do stuff like this.
But if you were the guy who accused Bush [Cheney] of violating the rights of prisoners- who said these actual foreign fighters taken in the field- should be mirandized- if you held that view- then what you did yesterday was a big no no.
The 5th amendment to the constitution says no citizen can be deprived of life or liberty without due process [for instance- if we wanted to tap Al-Awlaki’s phone- we would have needed a court order- but to kill him- we did not]
Now- if you argue we are at war- for real- then the due process clause does not apply.
But if you argue- yes indeed- these guys [not just the ones who are actually Americans!] do get constitutional rights- then you can’t kill them with a drone- that’s just an ideological fact.
I’m glad we got them- I take the Bush view on this. But the liberals- progressives- many of the Dems- and even Obama- they fought for the other view- for 3 years- they accused Bush [and seal team 6] as being rogue war mongers- out violating the rights of people.
They hooped and hollered when the ice cream service was cut from 7 days to 1. Yes- these guys took that position- and a day after Obama killed 2 Americans [as bad as they were!] What are these progressive, liberal- give ‘rights to the enemy’ types- what are they saying ‘hooray- look at Obama- he’s not like Bush- he actually gets these Sob’s’.
I’m glad he got them too- but many of those who are celebrating today- would have called Bush a war criminal if he did it- and that’s a fact.
 THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING- PLATO.
I caught a show the other night on Link TV. It was a spin off from this famous Platonic quote- it was called ‘The examined life’.
They interviewed some of the most prominent philosophers of our day. Cornell West, Peter Singer- a few others [I think the name is Singer?] I found it interesting that Singer- who specializes in Ethics- tried to make the case that you really don’t need religion/God in order to do ethics- all you need is to work from the basic principle that says ‘try to treat others like you too want to be treated- and then you will have a foundation for morals’.
Now- I caught the contradiction right away- do you see it? Who is he quoting? This is the great moral principle- given to us by Jesus himself- called the Golden Rule.
This actual principle- in Theology [the study of God] we call Natural/Moral law. The Argument is based on the reality that all people [not animals- Singer- get to it in a moment] have within them this moral compass [Romans 1] and that this in itself is proof that there must be a higher moral being- a transcendent being- who has put it in man.
I just found it funny that Singer- who is supposed to be a prominent atheist/agnostic thinker- would fall flat on his face like this.
Singer advocates for legal Rights for animals- and has also argued that viability of the new born baby should determine its personhood- he says that we should be able to abort babies up until around the age of 1- because they can’t really survive on their own until that age.
Okay- why do Philosophy- or Physics- or any other of a number of schools of thought? Because too often Christians abandon these fields- and then when someone from that field says ‘this is why we don’t need God’ we usually have no answer.
When we think about philosophy- most of us think about the 3 great big shots- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. While it is true that these guys were the major guys at right around the 5th century B.C.- yet we actually date the beginning point to the early 6TH Century B.C. to a man by the name of Thales.
Thales accurately predicted a solar eclipse in the year 585 B.C. and he gained notoriety because of this. Thales was the first Greek thinker to grapple with the idea that there must be one reality that makes up all things.
He would argue that Water was this element- that contained being and Motion and life. Many of these pre Socratic thinkers were obsessed with the idea of motion- where did it come from?
Thales observed that streams and rivers- and all types of water sources flow- so to him this was a logical source of motion.
This idea- that only one element makes up all reality- is called Monism. Monism is not be confused with Monotheism- the belief in one God- Monism actually leads to another religious view- called Pantheism- the belief that God is everything- and everything is God.
This is not the historic Christian view.
Now- the pre Socratic guys- Parmenides, Zeno, Heraclitus- these guys would challenge Thales view that water was the main thing.
Some said ‘maybe it’s Air’ another said ‘Earth’ and some Fire. These 4 elements [Earth, Air [wind] Fire and Water- are the 4 basic elements of the early Greek philosophers.
We see these things in the naming of musical groups [Earth Wind and Fire] as well as the themes in movies [fantastic 4- based on 4 basic elements- powers].
Now- one of the thinkers said ‘wait- maybe the reality behind all things is not any one of these elements- maybe there is a 5th dimension [another musical name- and also the famous Bruce Willis flick- called the 5th Element] a Boundless being- outside of time and matter- maybe this 5ht element is the foundation for all things.
Of course this view would lead to the more developed view of God that Socrates and his followers would embrace- an early view of God- much like the later Christian view [absent the Trinity].
By the way- the view that 2 or more elements make up all reality is called Pluralism- not to be confused with religious Pluralism [that all religions lead to the same God]. The most common form of Pluralism is Dualism [2 realities equally true] but all non Monists who embrace more than one reality are Pluralists.
Okay- maybe a bit much with the 10 dollar words- but it might spark the interest of some.
The church has debated for centuries on whether or not Philosophy should be taught to Christians. One of the early church fathers- Tertullian- said no- his famous quote is ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’.
Meaning what does Philosophy have in common with Christianity [Athens- Greece was the seat of philosophy in Jesus’ day].
For the most part- the early church fathers would embrace the study of philosophy- and try to make arguments for the Christian faith by presenting Christianity as ‘thee’ philosophy that best answers the questions of man.
These early Christian thinkers are called Apologists- men like Justin Martyr are in this class.
Apologist is a word we use to describe those who defend the faith- it comes from the Apostle Peter’s letter in the N.T. where Peter says ‘give an answer to those who ask you about the faith’. In the Greek language- the original language the N.T. was written in- this phrase is talking about a defense- an ‘apology’ in the sense of ‘making the case’ not in the common sense of apologizing.
In the book of Acts- chapter 17- we read the famous sermon of the apostle Paul- given at Mars Hill. He was in Athens at the time- and he was debating with all the philosophers of the day. He tells them ‘as I was looking around town- I saw that one of your altars is addressed to The Unknown God’.
He would go on and declare unto them that this Jesus is the true God- the one raised from the dead.
Paul also said ‘in Him we live and MOVE and have our being’. Kind of a popular verse quoted by preacher’s today- but we often overlook the significance of the MOVE part.
I mean- why say we MOVE in him too? Paul was a smart guy- he knew these children of Socrates questioned where motion came from [Remember Thales?] So he was basically saying ‘I am declaring to you the one true reality- the true 5th Element- the missing God particle from your system’ and he went on and preached Christ- being raised from the dead.
Paul knew that you can’t really do true philosophy- to grapple with the questions of life and being and ‘motion’ without realizing that God is indeed the ultimate answer to all things.
Even Peter Singer- who claimed that you don’t need God or religion in order to do Ethics- even he unknowingly quoted Jesus in attempting to give a basis for his Philosophy- yes- he quoted a God- one unknown to him- just like the altar at Athens- but a God never the less.
An inescapable 5th element- the missing part to the whole puzzle.
 GO SPARTANS?
I really have too much to cover for one post- so let’s see what we can squeeze in.
I have a catalog sitting here- from the company that I order courses from. A few years ago I got on their mailing list [How- ?] and ever since I have been bombarded with monthly catalogs.
I mean every month- a bit much. Then I realized that one month out of the year they put a bunch of courses ‘on sale’ for around 70% off the regular price- and that’s probably where they do their best business [I now only buy from the discounted monthly catalog].
Anyway- I read the intro to their course on Dark Matter/Energy- these teachers are really good- they are professors from the premiere universities of the world [Oxford, Harvard, etc.] and to get the courses at this price- well it’s really a bargain.
But over the years- studying various disciplines [Theology, Apologetics] it’s easy to see when some smart men- make really bad mistakes.
Especially when dealing with the whole ‘proof for/against God’ type stuff.
In this short intro to the Dark Matter course [Physics- these courses cover everything- history- science- religion- the whole 9 yards] they start out okay- they explain that according to the standard theory of modern physics- that there is about 95 % [wow- that number has jumped these last few years!] of matter ‘missing’ in the universe.
What do they mean by ‘missing’? They go on to explain that the effects that we see in the universe- the gravity and function of the universe- well according to standard theory- there is simply not enough matter to explain how all this is held together- how everything actually works.
Okay- so they admit that there are a whole bunch of phenomena- that we see taking place- that modern science has no idea how it’s taking place.
Now- as the intro continues- they say in order to ‘fill the gap’ they have come up with the idea of Dark Matter.
Dark Matter is simply a name given to nothing- that is nothing that we can detect thru the means of modern science.
Okay- by definition- it is a Metaphysical reality- something that science has espoused as a possible cause for the effects we see in the universe- and by their own definition- its invisible- undetectable and unseen- it is metaphysical [just like the argument for the existence of God].
So they go on to say ‘we know that this matter exists- because how else could you explain how everything works’- now- to those who get into these debates- the guy who wrote the intro- I’m sure he means well- but his whole argument is a materialistic one.
He is saying that there is no chance that some type of ‘non matter’ can be making this happen.
So he then says ‘because WE KNOW that there has to be a material explanation for this- no ‘God stuff’ here- therefore its Dark Matter.’
Okay- and what is Dark Matter again? O- it’s this non detectable- unseen matter- that just happens to make up 95 % of the universe.
Okay- Mr. smart guy- you don’t go for those Intelligent Design guys- the ones who argue that some non material force might be behind this- you rejected their argument because you say they are arguing from a non material realm [called metaphysical].
So how again have you proven that your idea- all this missing matter- exists? O- easy- because we see the effects OF IT all around us.
Actually- no we don’t. We see the effects of SOMETHING- that is- modern science has this huge gap- there are effects taking place in the known universe- that have no materialistic explanation for- we can’t find a material, observable cause for these effects.
The Christian says ‘Okay- I stick God in that gap’ [which many materialists accuse us of doing- they call it the ‘God of the Gaps’ approach].
But the materialistic scientist [one who says there can only be a detectable- material cause to things- in order to classify it as science] he then comes up with the whole Dark Matter argument- an argument based on non detectable- unseen- unproven matter.
And he then says ‘it must be there- because how else can you explain how everything is functioning?’.
The point is- your argument is based just as much on ‘unseen- unproven’ ideas as the Christian. You assume that this matter ‘must be’ simply because you leave no room for a non material explanation.
Then you say ‘yeah- but our idea is based on science/matter’ actually it is not- you argument is based on an idea- non proven by your own standards of modern science- and your idea- your Dark Matter- as of today is nowhere to be found.
These debates can go on forever- and my point is to simply challenge the believer- and the scientific community- to try to be more honest in the approach of seeking for truth.
In the last post I mentioned the pre Socratic philosophers- the 6th century B.C. guys who came before Socrates.
In the 5th century B.C. you had Socrates [born around 468 B.C.] and he would become one of the titans of Western thought.
He had a famous student by the name of Plato- and Plato would follow in his master’s footsteps. Plato founded a famous school at Athens- the land was donated by a man by the name of Academe- and till this day- that’s where we get the modern term for Academia.
Socrates started well- his ideas are not to be confused with Christian belief [he taught that the soul of man always existed- even before he was conceived- not a Christian belief] yet he did have lots of ‘Christianized’ ideas.
Socrates was of the school of thought that wanted to seek for absolute truths- to find out the purpose and meaning behind things.
Like his student Plato- they were what you would call Idealists- that behind this natural world- there exists Ideas- principles that are ‘more real’ than what we see [he would too laugh at the dark Matter intro I hit on at the top].
Socrates lived at a very advanced stage of the city/state of Athens- Greece. For their day- they had quite an advanced society- Jury system- somewhat of a Western style Democratic process- pretty good for the day.
But something happened during his lifetime that would change the whole direction of Athens [and Greece]. They would suffer a huge military defeat by another city/state that seemed to be no match for the Athenians.
Do you remember their name? Do you Remember the Spartans? Yes- we see these brothers in the famous movie ‘The 300’. The Spartans were indeed a fighting machine- just like depicted in the flick [one of my favorites by the way].
They had a famous motto ‘either come back holding your shield high [in victory] or come back lying on it’ [dead- like a stretcher].
So when Athens fell at the hands of the Spartans- they went through a sort of depression- a malaise came over them. They began to resent the thinkers who were always searching for ultimate answers to things- and they embraced a new type of philosophy- called Sophism.
The Sophists were thinkers who said ‘lets just learn the most pragmatic approach- how to get things to work- and how to win the argument’ and they didn’t really care a whole lot about whether they were ‘right’ or wrong- they just wanted to master the practical side of life.
Socrates and his crew thought this approach would ruin Athens and he continued to fight for the search for ultimate truth- the real reasons behind things.
He went around town debating the other thinkers- he had a system- called the Socratic method- where he would engage you in a debate- ask you questions- and let you too ask them back- sort of like the Detective Columbo.
After a while this got him into trouble with the authorities and they sentenced him to death.
He was given his choice of execution- and he chose to drink the Hemlock.
We are told that his famous student Plato visited him on the eve of his execution- and he was surprised to see his master relatively at ease with his impending death.
Socrates believed that the unseen things- the non material realm- was actually more real than the seen- detectable realm. He did not need some Dark Matter idea to explain how things worked- he believed there existed unseen things- God- Soul- etc. and that these things were more real than his own natural life.
Plato would make his teacher famous through his school- and thru his many writings about his teacher. We know these writings as Plato’s Dialogues- he wrote these papers in dialogue form- having Socrates debating the other schools of thought- just like he did in real life.
So you never really know who to attribute the famous quotes to- Socrates- or Plato? Was Plato putting his own words in the mouth of his beloved teacher? We don’t always know for sure.
Okay-maybe a bit much for today- actually had more I wanted to do- but we’ll call it quits for now. Maybe do a quick search on some of these subjects- see how they affect the contemporary arguments for the existence of God.
See how modern science is a noble field- but one in which the Christian does have a say- and how we should challenge the assumptions that are passed down to us.
Socrates refused to settle for the purely practical outlook on life- he continued to seek truth till his last day- he dialogued with those who had other ideas- he listened to them and they heard him- and at the end of the day society was better off for it.
 [BLACK] WHITE SUPREMACIST-
A few years ago I was at work and I and another guy were watching the Dave Chappell show. At the Fire house you do your normal routine from 9-5- training, education- public service stuff – then after 5 the guys will cook- or order out.
Then you catch a movie or a fight [boxing] or something like that on the tube.
Now- the guys actually had a scheme- they would hide the remote from me- or make sure they got to it before me- or else they got stuck watching 5 hours of news [which they hated!].
I also was one of the biggest boxing fans at the station- caught all the big fights [HBO].
So every now and then we would compromise- you know- find something everyone wanted to watch. Quite often it was some comedy type thing.
One night we caught the Chappell show- he did a funny skit on a Black- White Supremacist. They kinda did a Bill Moyers- Frontline spoof and interviewed one of the Black racist’s friends.
The story was about this young Black kid who eventually rose to the heights of the White Power movement. He grew up in the sticks and as a young ‘blind’ boy- all the other White kids felt bad for him.
Over time they let him into their ranks and he actually gets to attend the KKK meetings that are growing in the area.
Of course- they never tell him he is Black- or the more formal term ‘a N—gger’ [which the skit dropped freely].
So the Moyers imitator asks his White buddy ‘how could this happen? Why don’t you tell him he is Black’? And his friend said that over time- after attending all the meetings- well he just happened to become the most articulate voice for the cause- and at this stage they can’t do without him!
As you can see- it’s really a funny skit. So they pull up to the gas station and someone sees Chappell and his White buddy pumping gas- they yell ‘hey- N—gger’. And of course Chappell thinks there's a Black guy around- and he too starts protesting- and going off.
The White guys get a little scared- they think Chappell has lost it- and they flee.
Finally he’s the key note speaker at some KKK rally- and he has the hood on and all- and the good ole boys are so excited over their most popular speaker- they start yelling ‘pull your hood off- we want to see you’. Now- his buddy is in the audience and he realizes things are getting out of hand- he starts heading for the stage- yelling at his Black hooded friend- no- don’t do it!
Then someone on stage walks over and Walla- they pull the hood off. Their stands Chappell- the most renowned ‘White’ racist in the whole area- loved by thousands- people buying his C.D’s and hearing him articulate the White cause- there he stands- Black face and all.
As you can imagine- the audience is shocked- as the ‘camera’ scans the audience- one shocked attendee actually has his head blow off- just because of the shock to his system.
Okay- funny indeed.
In the last post I spoke on Pragmatism- pragmatism is the school of thought that says you do what needs to get done- be practical- if you can accomplish your mission- even if it means violating your true beliefs- then do it.
Now- I’m a practical guy- I like stuff that works- and if I learn how to do something [Blog- radio shows- etc.] I usually stick with the original equipment- for as long as I can.
Over the years- when I was teaching on the radio- I would record the shows ahead of time and simply drop off a few months of programs at a time- and I used Cassette tapes and a simple recorder to do it.
As time went by- I noticed that just about every other broadcaster switched to C.D.’s- while I was still on tape.
I was truly an ‘independent’ broadcaster- made the tapes here at the house- and paid cash- took no offerings for it- so needed no records- just paid the bill out of pocket.
So for me- if I didn’t have to change over to C.D.’s- I wasn’t going to.
Same with my new laptop- got a Dell a year or so ago [will never buy another one] and it came with a newer version of Word. So I type up a post- and look for the spell check.
I could not find the thing- after about an hour- I mean to me that’s the most basic function I need- but no- they had functions to convert English to Hieroglyphics- but no spell check.
I finally called Dell- and they showed me how it was hidden about 9 functions down- at a spot where you would never find the thing.
So I try to stick with the practical stuff- I don’t want all new Facebook options and tools- Zuckerberg sitting around all day- trying to fend off the latest Google challenge- thinking he’s ‘cutting edge’ and all the while us ‘older crowd’ have to re learn some new fangled thing- that we really don’t have time for.
The president has been going around the country- standing in front of falling down bridges- in Repub districts- and challenging the Repubs ‘pass my jobs bill- it will provide funding for infrastructure- your bridges are falling down in your states- see’!
I’m sure Chris Matthews is elated about this- he thinks he’s directing the Pres- he has called for this from his show for the last 2 months- I guess the thrill is back [you know- Tingle up his leg].
Finally this week- Mitch McConnell- the minority leader in the Senate [Repub] said ‘okay- you want to vote on it- go for it’.
They took the pres up on the challenge- he said ‘why don’t you Repubs vote on the thing’ and when the moment of truth came- they dropped the ball.
Harry Reid- the majority leader in the senate [Dem] did not bring it up for a vote- why? Because he does not have enough Dem votes to pass it.
Who are some of the Dems that don’t want to pass it? Guys like Chuck Schumer- from N.Y. - always railing against the Repubs being on the side of the rich.
He doesn’t want to pass it because it will raise taxes on people [couples] making $250,ooo a year or more- and in his ‘rich’ district- they have told him NO.
He wants to raise the tax limit to the million or more- so even though he [and the pres] are going around yelling ‘pass this bill’ in reality- they don't want to pass the thing.
Okay- time to simply do the best thing- yes- the most practical. Agree on what you can- and drop the other stuff. Don't keep accusing one side of not wanting to fix their bridges- so grandma might crash into the river [and sink right next to the other grandma that Ryan wheeled off a few months ago] while the truth is- Schumer is protecting ‘the rich’.
People see thru this type of stuff- just be honest and stop campaigning- just try and do some real work.
I’ll end with this- caught a quick interview with Biden on CSPAN- often on CSPAN you get the truth- no editorializing. Biden actually said that because of the way our tax system works- when you go up in income- the Percentage of what you pay goes down- though the amount goes up [you know- 8 % of a million is more actual money than 10 % of a hundred thousand. Many people- especially in the North East- do believe that our tax system is like this].
I can’t believe he thinks [said] this. Now- I have written on this in the last week or so- the way our tax rate works is- the amount- and the percentage- both go up as your income increases.
The only ones it goes down for are the millionaires/billionaires who are living off of their investments only- and this makes up a very small number of millionaires.
But it seems like Biden might not know this- or maybe it was just another show of bravado- you know- feeling like his title is being threatened. He does hold the world record for Foot in mouth disease. And Old Hank Jr. has given him a run for his money this week.
Either way- it made me wonder if these guys really know what they are doing- or if they are just trying to do something- anything- to make their side look better.
Poor old Chappell- he was the best spokesman for the cause- even though the cause was hating Black folk- they used him because ‘he worked’ it was the pragmatic thing to do- not the right thing- not the honest thing- just what they felt they needed to do to get the job done.
It would be better for us all- both sides of the aisle- if we did what we truly felt was right- what was best- not just best for our side- but for the whole.
Because the pragmatic route leaves you sitting in the audience- cheering for ‘your guy’ at one moment- and then hating him the next.
 RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
This past week we have seen both sides of the aisle try to describe what the Wall Street protestors are all about. The left has tried to ‘adopt’ them as sort of the Liberal answer to the Tea Party.
The right has described them as a bunch of unemployed spoiled brats that have no consistent voice.
There is probably some truth to both sides- yet neither are totally accurate in my view.
The original Tea Party activists [and the actual event they get their name from!] were raging against the machine ‘No taxation without representation’- much like the present protests.
This past week I read Psalms 79-80. Well I read more than that- but I tried to meditate on these 2 chapters for a while.
I was surprised to see how many verses I actually quote in prayer- that come from these passages.
‘Let the sighing of the prisoners come before thee’ ‘pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee- and THE KINGDOMS that have not called upon thy name’- a few more.
The theme of these chapters is God’s people are under attack ‘Lord- the heathen have come in and defiled your people- their bones are scattered all around the city- their blood is poured out like water’.
Psalms 80 says ‘Lord- you took this vine out of Egypt [speaking about the nation of Israel] then why have you let the protective wall around it to fall down’?
Both Isaiah [chapter 5] and Jesus [Matthews’s gospel] use this same language.
God allowed ungodly kingdoms- systems- to bring down the people of God. One of the Old Testament prophets actually has a real hard time with this- he can’t understand why God would do something like this.
God did it because the people ‘left him’. They walked away from truly seeking God- and judgment came.
Can systems become corrupt? It depends on who has the influence. Many of today’s protestors do have a Bone to Pick with Wall Street. Many of the large banks [investors] and corporate Big Wigs did indeed make out like bandits on the tax payers dime [including Warren Buffet!].
Now- not all bankers- or people working at the actual Wall Street location are criminals- but many of the insiders are/were.
We liked to see the perp walk with Bernie Madoff- but what he did- bilking private investors- was nothing on the scale of what the big corporate heads got away with.
Many of the institutions that were culpable in the bail outs- these people knowingly made decisions that they knew were corrupt. Many of the political leaders- especially Barny Frank and Chris Dodd- they pressured banks to lower their loan standards in order to get more minorities in homes.
Whether their intentions were good or not- they were behind some of the bad loans that would later default.
And President Bush at the time was told that the housing market was going to get into deep trouble if they did not do something about it. To his credit- he tried- I saw the hearings on TV.
The Democrats who were backing Fannie Mae [the mortgage lender the govt. backs] accused Bush of being a racist [yeah- they love that card] How?
They said- openly- on record- ‘there is no problem with the mortgage system at all- and those who are drumming up this false fear- they don’t want Blacks to have homes’ Maxine Waters- Frank- the whole crew said this.
A few months later the bubble burst- everything the Bush guy warned about was right [you know- the racist].
And the actual guys who were a big part of the cause of this [Frank, Dodd] they began berating the banks and lending companies for making all these bad loans.
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
So what happened here? People who had influence behind the scenes- who had hidden agendas [Franklin Raines- the head of Fannie at the time. A vocal Black supporter of the president- made out like a bandit in the whole debacle]. These people managed to influence the system- to get it to do what they wanted- and the system worked for them- at the expense of the average person.
Yes- systems [kingdoms] can become corrupt- and they last for so long- and then the hammer comes down [pour out thy wrath upon the kingdoms- systems- that don’t call on you].
This past week- there really have been some devastating news stories on the current scandals of the Administration.
You had a top guy at the White House curse out a reporter- Sharyl Atkinson- when she called and asked some questions about the sandals.
She works for CBS- hardly a right leaning news org. - and she has said the documents that they have seen- that these scandals are much worse than people realize.
The stuff released late Friday [called a document dump- you do it on Friday hoping it will die down by Monday] basically show that many insiders- even Democrats- and other legal folk- they warned the White House that they were on the verge of breaking the law [by restructuring the Solyndra loan] and they were told ‘don’t approve this loan change without passing it by the justice dept.’.
Then- in these memos and emails- the White House simply did the loan- even after their own legal people said ‘you might be breaking the law’ [remember- he only changed the loan for this company. He did the change after one of his major campaign donors- who also had millions at stake in Solyndra- visited the White House 4 times in a matter of days. I mean this guy would have lost all his money in the company if the loan was not changed- and this guy’s money also went to Obama- geez- you can’t get much worse than this!]
Yet I heard the president say- over and over again- that all the people who looked at these dealings- they all said it was fine.
You see? There were actually parts of ‘the system’ that were trying to work- to perform the intended function- yet those who had personal agendas- they managed to thwart the system- to get it to work ‘for them’ instead of the overall good of the country.
I do understand that both sides are/have been guilty of this- it just so happens that this year it’s the Democrats turn at bat- and they sure have been hitting it out of the park- time and again.
One more system- and we’ll be thru.
Putting aside all the political arguing- this week I have heard/read very serious warnings about the European banking system- that without a doubt- this system might crash and it will have worldwide effects if this happens.
The debt crisis ‘kingdom’ is in serious trouble- and it just might ‘scatter the bones of your people all around’ the after math could be real bad.
What do we do in times like this? Remember [and pray] the words that Jesus taught us in the Our Father ‘THY kingdom come- thy will be done- on earth as it is in heaven’.
Yes- there are competing kingdoms in this world- not right or left- conservative or liberal- no- that’s not where the real action is.
It’s the Kingdoms of this world- when being influenced by corrupt men- versus the kingdom of God.
At the end of the day- the bible says all the kingdoms/systems of men will fail- And the only mountain left standing will be the one that comes from God- the ‘last mountain’ [kingdom] that the prophet Daniel spoke about.
He saw a vision- a vision of Christ- and in the vision Jesus kingdom withstood all the other kingdoms of the world- and became the most prominent one in the earth.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God- and his righteousness- and all these other things will be added to you [Jesus].
 LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD?
I read an article the other day- some guy got busted for assault- because of Facebook. It went on to say how he posted a status update when his mom died- and he was waiting for his estranged wife to ‘like’ it.
She never responded- so he did what any normal person would- he jumped in the car and drove over to her house. Okay- I’m gonna ad lib here ‘knock knock’ she comes to the door and he says ‘go into that damn computer room right now and Like the status’!
One thing lead to another- and he got busted.
What’s wrong with this picture? I mean he was talking to her- in the ‘real world’ face to face- yet instead of saying ‘ex- are you sad that mom died’- no- he says ‘go like the post!’
Okay- this will be the last post for a while on philosophy- I think I did about 3 or 4 the last week or so- I used to do one subject and stick with it for around a month.
Then at the end of the study [Physics, History, etc.] I would stick them all together on the blog as a single study.
But I realized that new friends who are just reading the site- post by post- they might think that’s all I write about- so now I’m trying to just do a few at a time.
Okay- we made it all the way to Plato and his famous school that he founded at Athens [Greece]. Though Socrates was his teacher- yet Socrates never founded an actual school.
Like I said earlier- Plato had a view of Reality that was a bit strange. He was an Idealist- not in the way we use the term today [mostly] but he believed that Ideas themselves were the real world- and what we see/experience in the material world are not ‘as real’.
Plato believed that knowledge was A Priori- which means the actual knowledge about a thing exists before the thing comes into being.
The famous example he used was a Chair. He would ask ‘what is that’ pointing to a chair. The student would respond ‘a chair’ Plato would say ‘and how do you know this- how did you obtain that knowledge’ and he argued that in the Idea realm- there is a perfect form of Chairness that exists- and that’s why we can identify ‘the chair’ in the material realm.
Now- Plato’s most famous student was a man named Aristotle. He actually respected his teacher a lot- but there was some tension between the 2. Plato was more of a down to earth type guy- liked to wear plain clothes- did lots of his teaching by walking around the classroom- interacting with people.
Aristotle was more of a ‘Fancy Pants’ type guy. He had a little bit of the elitist thing going on. He was more of a book worm than Plato- and he would eventually start his own school to compete with Plato’s Academy.
Aristotle’s school was named the Lyceum. Aristotle was more of a Realist than an Idealist. He believed that this material world was more than just a copy of the Idea world. He taught that Substance and matter were very real- and that contained within the thing is the actual form and future potential of ‘that thing’.
For instance- the Acorn has within it the actual form of the Oak Tree. This form did not come from an Idea world- it came from the thing itself- the Acorn.
So matter has within it both the potential of its future form- as well as eventually becoming that thing.
For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact.
Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo].
The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might.
This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church.
In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine.
Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right.
Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that.
Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference.
I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school.
It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the modern space Era.
Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one.
 CLASS [Not Class] WARFARE-
I was watching the news last night and saw the guy they caught- trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel- in order to conspire- and be complicit in- the killing of Americans [actually the Saudi ambassador- but in a restaurant where many Americans would be- using a bomb].
At first I wasn’t sure if they were talking about the Fast and Furious program [you know- Mexican cartel- guns- you get it].
The guy was from Corpus Christi- I watched my local news and they listed all the businesses he had over the years. I used to take my girls to eat at one of his spots. A Gyro stand in the Mall food court.
Okay- I saw the debate last night- nothing really new- I think Perry did pretty bad- he seemed a little [lot?] unprepared for the debate. They were focusing on the economy and he basically had a one liner that said ‘reduce regulations- help the energy sector- and free up the entrepreneurs’- while those things are good- it would have been better if he had a little more to say on the subject.
This week I saw one of the most Racist interviews by a White guy- talking to a Black guy. It was the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC. Man- it was bad. Larry grilled him on why he did not act they way ‘Larry’ thought a Black man should.
Herman Cain was being interviewed and Larry kept saying things like ‘why did you not march in the civil rights marches- like you should have- [‘Black Boy’- that’s the way it came across to me].
Cain respectfully explained that he was in high school during most of the time- and his dad worked 3 jobs to support the family- and his Father had told his sons that they should focus on their studies and finish school so they can became productive members of society.
Okay- that sounds reasonable to me. Larry then went after him on why he ‘avoided’ serving his country during the Nam war- again- sounded like he was saying ‘what are you doing off the plantation- you know- where I think you should be and act’. Cain explained that he did not ‘avoid’ serving his country- that he was actually a Ballistics expert working for the civilian arm of the Navy at the time. He told old Larry that his name was on the draft roll- but the Navy told him they needed him where he was.
Larry said ‘then why didn’t you join- like Kerry- and other people who honored their country’. I have never seen such disrespect- by a White man- to a Black man- on a TV interview in my life. Whether you agree with Cain's politics or not- this was way over the line.
And I must have read about 10 news articles by the A.P.- every one of them –without exception- were critical- even mocking- of the president.
You must understand that the A.P. puts out stories that all the other news sources pick up and run with. For the first 2.5 years of the Obama presidency they were his biggest supporters. They never covered stories that were critical of Obama- they always sided with him on issues.
But a few weeks ago- for some reason- they left the boat. I mean the last article I read critiqued Obama’s health law. It called it a ‘shell game’ ‘a gimmick’ a ‘budget zombie’. Now- these were quotes from others [not only Repubs!] that looked at the plan and saw it for what it is.
Yet the A.P. still wrote the piece. To be fair- they were talking about a specific part of the plan- called CLASS- it was supposed to be a long term health plan that would provide long term care [nursing home, providers, etc.] for the elderly.
They explained the budget shows an 80 billion dollar savings by using the first 5 years of supposed income into the plan- by those who voluntary sign up- and that this number was the biggest so called savings that the overall plan used to pass the bill.
When the president pushed for his plan- he showed it would save around 140 billion over 10 years [which is not true by the way] and it was this 80 billion savings from the CLASS part that showed the most savings.
Okay- what happened? Obama recently scrapped the plan- they knew it would go broke- and the tax payers would have to bail it out. You needed younger healthier people to voluntarily pay into it for 5 years- so they might get some back in the future. Most folk are too strapped for something like that- and Obama’s people saw the writing on the wall.
So- when they quietly scrapped the plan- they kept using the numbers they would save from the people paying into the plan- even though no ones going to pay into it- because they scrapped it.
Okay- nothing new. He did this with the so called 500 billion savings from Medicare- he used the number- twice- and came up with a fake amount of 1 trillion dollars in savings.
At the time- I remember only one news reporter calling him out on it- all the other news people were on his side- and would not report anything negative- not even open deception.
So the A.P. got tired- they have been blowing the cover on all these types of shady deals these last few weeks- they should have been doing it from the start.
I’ll end with my favorite news guy- you know who I’m talking about [those who read the posts] good old Chris Matthews. Sharpton even honored him last night on his show- he said he felt that Matthews tingle going up his leg too [no joke!]
Matthews believes he is instructing the president- that his role in life is to fight those darn Red Necks and do whatever needs to be done to make Obama succeed. Even not cover stories where the justice dept is covering up illegal gun running op’s that have killed Americans.
So yesterday the Times put out an op-ed that called for another 1.2 trillion dollar stimulus [I kid you not]. They went on to say that if the govt. spends another 1.2 trillion on infrastructure spending- that it will provide millions of new jobs and solve the unemployment problem.
I did not read the piece- I heard Matthews comment on it on his show. It must have been a Paul Krugman piece.
This view- Keynesian economics- has been tried on the largest scale ever- during Obama’s first 2.5 years- and it has failed miserably.
If you had 3 kids who needed work- and you thought ‘geez- let me go to the bank and borrow 20 thousand dollars’. And with that money you simply paid them to go dig holes- or fix park benches- or any number of other odd jobs.
Sooner or later that money will run out- and so will the job.
But if you gave the kid 20 thousand- helped him start up a small business- and he became successful and hired the other sons- well then you did more than simply pay him from borrowed cash to do a one time job. No- you empowered him to make a living- for himself and the other boys.
That’s pretty simple- and those who keep calling for more stimulus- well they are like the dad who keeps going to the bank to borrow money to pay his son to go dig the ditch- and when that money runs out he thinks ‘geez- the answer is go borrow some more’. That type of money will always run out- because you’re really not stimulating true job growth- your simply paying someone to do a one time job.
Okay- that’s it for today. I hope all these guys can get their act together a little more- and avoid the actual lying about the numbers- like the CLASS example- when people do stuff like that- then there will be little chance to really solve the problems- that approach is pure political posturing- we need more statesman and less politicians today.
 CULT? Three 6’S? Not a Christian?
Okay- let’s talk a little about some of the ‘big’ stories. Actually- these stories are small but the media wants to make them big.
At the debate the other night- Cain took some heat- you know- he’s been hawking the 999 plan on taxes- and now that he’s rising in the polls they have to bring him down a notch.
So they slammed the plan- Bachmann even exposed the secret agenda behind the plan- yes- right there in front of the whole world- she said ‘you know what you get when you turn the 999 plan upside down’?
And yes- we now know the truth- you get 3 upside down 9’s.
Okay- let’s get a little serious here. Another ‘religious’ test popped up on the trail- you had the Baptist Pastor from Dallas tell a reporter that Christians should prefer other Christians when they vote- and Romney is not a Christian.
He went on to say that he thought Romney was a fine man- but that historically Mormonism is a cult.
Was he right?
Let me say this- I have read scholars my whole life- study theology and Christianity- am very open to the other Christian churches- and even my approach to Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses has been one in which I try to have open dialogues with people- not ‘cover up’ their doctrinal flaws- but to be open and show as much charity as possible.
Okay- I know of no serious scholar who would disagree theologically with the Baptist Pastor. Now- was the approach he took right? At a political type meeting? Probably not.
Are there more appropriate ways to engage in dialogue with Mormons- who overall are very good people- serve the country well and for the most part are honorable? Yes—there are better ways to talk about it than saying Romney is ‘not a Christian’.
Let’s talk a little bit about why most bible scholars do hold the ‘cult’ view.
Historically- Christianity is what we call Trinitarian [for the most part- this is also a very long study]. Sometimes we refer to this as Nicene Christianity [from the famous council at Nicaea].
Or we can look to a few other church councils that hammered out the language of the Trinity.
I am Trinitarian- I hold to the historic belief on this- just to be upfront at the start.
Now- have all ‘Christians’ at all times held to the doctrine? No. Now- some will say ‘Then they are not Christians’ okay- I agree.
But the way I define ‘Christian’ while making the argument from history- I am speaking of all those who saw themselves as part of the church [men like Bishop Arius- who rejected the Trinity] and yet did not agree with the historic position.
Church history is littered with men/movements that fall into this category.
Muslims and Jews [even some Messianic Jews] also take the side [doctrinally] with those ‘Christians’ who reject the Trinity. Why? Both of these religions believe that exalting Jesus to Deity [being God] violates the teaching that there is only One God [the Father].
Many of these same objections are made by the various ‘Christian churches’ that also reject the Trinity.
Okay- the historic Christian doctrine- accepted by Catholics, Orthodox and most Protestants- says that God is One- and there are 3 persons in the God Head. The famous Christian him says ‘God in 3 persons- Blessed Trinity’.
So- the belief is there is only one God- yet 3 persons in the God head.
The various groups who disagree with this doctrine usually say it’s a contradiction- and they have various ways they try to explain it.
They will point to bible verses that say ‘Jesus is the Firstborn of all creation’ or ‘Jesus is the beginning of the creation of God’ and they will argue that Jesus was the first creation of God- but not ‘God’ in the sense of True God.
Most scholars will show you that looking at these few verses- in context of the entire bible- show us that they are not meaning that Jesus was actually created- but that he has pre imminence among the whole creation- he is Lord of all.
I really did get into the debate- have taught it in the past on the blog- and today’s intent isn’t to do it all over again.
But- we needed to cover that to say this- what then is the Mormon belief?
While most churches that disagree with the Trinity- usually disagree by saying the doctrine is Tritheistic [meaning you believe in 3 Gods] Mormons actually go the other way- they believe/teach that you actually do have 3 Gods- that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are 3 different Gods.
Okay- that’s the main reason [there are lots of other things] that scholars classify Mormons as ‘non Christian’.
But it’s really hard to have these debates in the political arena- and because of the various ways we use the term ‘Christian’ [most of the times in the media it covers a much wider range than what we use in studying theology] I would not say ‘Romney is not a Christian’.
Why? Because I would have to qualify it by explaining all of this- and you do have many groups that have branched off from historic Christianity- who never accepted the final councils on the Trinity- and many of these groups would still be defined as ‘Christian’ in a broad sense- say if your studying Sociology and not Theology.
Now- you ask ‘geez John- this can get a little confusing- does the bible actually give us a test on this’.
Glad you asked.
The only biblical ‘test’ that is where you have a clear cut statement on ‘if you believe this your okay- if you believe this you’re not’- the statement comes from the epistle’s [letters] of the Apostle John [New Testament].
In 1st John and 2nd John he talks about those who believe that Jesus is the Christ- they are ‘from God’ ‘Born of God’ and those who say that ‘Jesus has not come in the flesh’ these are not ‘of God’ these are ‘the anti christ’.
It’s interesting to note- that in the entire bible- the few times the actual word ‘anti christ’ is used are in these passages.
So the test- if you want to look at it this way- is a Christological test- do you believe Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]. And ‘do you believe he has come in the flesh’ [what we call the Incarnation].
That’s the test- you do not have a ‘Trinitarian’ test so to speak- though the doctrine itself is found in the bible.
Why would the apostle John give these 2 criteria as ‘the test’? Because for the 1st century Jewish believer- Jesus did indeed come as the promised Messiah- and the question is indeed ‘do you believe he is the promised one- or not’.
The other ‘test’ is a little more tricky- but in the 1st century you began having a challenge to the main belief of Christians- it came from the Gnostic ‘cults’. These were the quasi ‘Christian’ groups that mixed in Greek concepts of matter with Christian belief.
The last few weeks we discussed their ideas a little- and one of the ideas that Plato taught was that matter itself was evil.
This is not the Christian view- the Christian view is that matter [creation] is from God- it is good- not inherently evil.
Okay- so you had a division of the Gnostics [which their name meant Knowledge- they believed they had secret knowledge about these things that the average Christian did not have] called Docetists.
These guys taught that Jesus was not Really a human being- who came ‘in the flesh’. Why did they teach this? Because they also taught that matter/flesh was evil- and Jesus could not have really been ‘in the flesh’.
This doctrine violates the very clear N.T. teaching that Jesus was indeed born of the Virgin- and was fully God and fully man- thus the apostle John was targeting them when he said ‘if anyone does not believe that Jesus has come in THE FLESH he is not from God’.
Got it? Okay- we did a little teaching today- as you can see these types of debates cannot really take place in a 30 second news sound bite.
So even though most scholars [if not all?] would agree with the teaching that Mormonism does not fit in with historic Christianity- yet to say ‘this guy is not a Christian’ without being able to make the distinctions that I just did- well it just sounds bad- to be honest.
I personally could vote for Romney- to me it would be more of an issue of his political positions- if I felt he could do a good job- I personally would not use the ‘religious test’ on the guy- but you do have a large group of Evangelicals who would not vote for him- mainly because of this very issue.
I think these issues are important- and people should be aware of them. I also think the term ‘cult’ or ‘he is not a Christian’ if we are going to throw those words out- they need to be surrounded by the above context- when they just pop out on a short sound bite- without the time to explain them- then it’s probably better not to throw them out at all.
 TALES FROM THE CRYPT [Fire dept.]
Let’s do one for the Gipper today- you know- just telling a few stories.
Years ago at the fire dept we used to have old pumper trucks. The trucks were real work horses- and us ‘older guys’ grew up driving/pumping these babies.
Yet the newer guys had some real problems with them. First- the trucks were all manual transmission- and some of the guys did not know how to drive them!
So we had them practice at the empty parking lots and stuff- but geez- when these younger guys [not all] were driving to a fire scene- your life was literally in their hands.
Now- I’ll admit it- the trucks were old- lots of wear and tear. On one of them the play in the steering wheel was about a foot!
I remember one night- one of the guys who had a real hard time driving standard- he was ‘my driver’ that night. Sure enough we had a call- and I told Danny ‘let’s roll’.
I knew he was a little hesitant. We had to drive down this narrow back road- a 2 lane road [one each way] and a huge ditch to the right.
I knew it was gonna be rough. As my driver is barreling down the road- at about 60- with the truck with about a foot of play in the steering wheel- well- I did think this was gonna be the big one.
I mean if it has to happen- well that’s your job- but I would rather have gone out in a ‘blaze of glory’- you know- at some fire doing your job- then winding up in the ditch! I mean I actually felt safe when we got to the house fire- like ‘geez- never thought we’d make it’.
Now- these pumper trucks would eventually get phased out over time- all the newer models were automatics. But the problem we had with one of the first new ones we purchased was it had no setting for Park. When you pulled the truck into the stall- you would put it in neutral- and apply the air break.
One thing- if you forgot to pull the break- and got out- after about a minute the water swaying back and forth in the tank [the trucks hold about a thousand gallons of water] would slowly move the truck forward- and once the truck hit the tilted driveway- well the truck would roll out- all by its lonesome- and ram into the National Guard fence that was right there.
I guess this happened around 3 times over a year- we finally started putting manual wheel chocks under all the wheels every day.
It was funny to be honest- the truck would roll slowly- maybe around 10 MPH- so everyone [and their grandmother] could see it coming- but the thing was heavy- with a huge bumper.
I mean we rammed ‘the heck’ out of that National Guard fence for about a year.
I used to laugh about it- and say ‘geez- the fed’s must be thinking ‘what the heck is going on down there’? I mean every year when the guard had to list their top 10 most pressing dangers [you know- terrorism attack- or break in- etc.] The Feds must have wondered why the Kingsville Fire Dept. was at the top of the list.
Okay- last one.
When you work under different chiefs- you learn what to watch out for. Some get mad if you spend too much at the store while picking up items for the station.
So one day me and the Captain make a quick supply run- you know- get a few things for the kitchen and stuff.
So he picked up a roll of tin foil- for about a buck.
We go back to the station and the phone rings- the Captain gets it and all he hears is ‘what’s the foil for’ at first he had no idea who was on the line- of course the chief saw the charge on the card [or the P.O. number].
He couldn’t believe it- he had lots of good reasons for the foil- who does the chief think he is any way- questioning us!
For the next 15 minutes- the captain put foil on everything [you know- to justify the purchase] I mean on the windows where the sun came through [deflect the heat]. On all the burners on the stove- I mean at that rate- we were gonna need to make another foil run- and soon!
Okay- that’s it for today- we still have lots of serious stuff to cover- but today I thought we’d take a break.
Have a good weekend everybody- and be careful driving in front of the fire station!
 APOCALYPSE- NOW?
I was going to try and take the week off- from posting- but there is way too much happening- that will have to wait.
This past Friday the White House did another document dump- they released more damming evidence that looks bad- real bad.
What came out? You had a few memos/emails that showed that the career govt. workers- people who have worked for both Repubs and Dems- that these guys working for Treasury and the O.M.B. [office of management and budget] that when they saw that the president wanted to change the Solyndra loan- that they all told him ‘pass this by the justice dept. it looks like what you’re doing might be illegal’.
Okay- when you have pro’s telling you this- in emails- and you change the loan anyway- without listening to them- geez- people get Impeached for stuff like this- no joke.
So- these memos did indeed come out- and Obama has to know that this is bad- real bad.
Now- I think this is why some of the media defenders [A.P.] jumped ship about 2 weeks ago- the Dem insiders must be thinking ‘geez- why the hell did he do it- we told the guy no!’
Of course we know why he did it- his top fundraiser invested millions into the company and visited the pres. 4 times right before he changed the loan.
Now- why was it ‘illegal’ to change the loan? This program started under Bush- and it was designed to help get our economy more into clean energy- a noble goal.
When Bush implemented the thing- the law covering the loans says- flat out ‘under no circumstances shall any investors or private creditors recoup their losses before the taxpayer- if the company folds’.
Okay- then what ‘legal’ reasoning did Obama use to change the loan- for his top fundraiser- who visited him 4 times right before the loan was changed- to get paid back first?.
There was another part of the law covering the loan that said ‘the energy secretary will do everything in his power to protect the investment that the taxpayer is making’ which basically meant the same thing as saying the taxpayer will get paid first if company goes bust.
Okay- from the memos released Friday- the president ‘reasoned’ [on his own- he was a lawyer- remember?] that the clause that said ‘the energy secy will do all in his power to protect the tax payer’ Obama used that clause to justify changing the loan- by saying when he changed the loan- so his friend would get paid first- that this change allowed other private investors to also get paid first- and that would encourage fresh private money to come in- and possibly save the ship- and by saving the ship- in the long run- the taxpayers have invested in a ship that got saved [this is Chicago style lawyer- ing for sure].
Now- does this sound loony to you? Well it sounded loony to all the career govt. people who looked at it too. They said that this reasoning is nuts- and that the pres possibly broke the law by doing this.
So what happened next? The energy guy quit- and got him some lawyers. The top guy at Solyndra bailed too- got him some lawyers. And the pres? Well- he provides his own legal advice [as you can see- it has not served him well].
Now- the pres knew this info was coming out on Friday- and what else came out Friday?
For the first time [First!] the pres decided to put armed ground troops into a foreign theatre- that we were not previously at war with.
Where? Uganda. The pres notified congress [on Friday- you know- real urgent stuff!] that he was putting 100 armed troops on the ground in central Africa.
Now- when he did Libya- which was simply giving air support- no ground troops- he got heat.
What did he think would happen if he put ground troops in Uganda? Well- hopefully- stir up a hornets’ nest- and maybe no one will see those silly memos- where his own people said ‘man- he’s stretching the law’.
Why Uganda- and why now?
Africa is a big continent- there are many nations in Africa that are Muslim run- there are also many Africans who are sincere Christians- some of the politicians [especially in Uganda] sound just like the right wing folk here in the U.S.
I have watched shows [on Gores new channel- Current] where you here the Ugandan Christian politicians slam Obama and his ‘liberal’ agenda- yes- they sound just like any right wing group.
One of the big things they hate him for is his attempts to get Uganda to ease up on their anti gay laws.
Uganda made it into the headlines this last year because they tried to pass laws that would call for the death penalty in certain crimes that included homosexual behavior.
There is a dispute over whether these laws would be applied to people just because they were gay- or whether they were intended more for gay crimes- like someone molesting a youth.
But either way the rhetoric was high- and the Christian politicians- in Uganda- have really gone after Obama- and they see themselves as being used by God to raise the standard of morality in the world.
Okay- maybe some of you never knew this- most of the times we see these nations and we think ‘Radical Muslim’ but now you see- that’s not always the case.
Okay- why the troops? There has been another ‘Christian’ group that has operated out of Uganda [and Congo- and central Africa] for around 20 years- these guys are called The Lord’s Resistance Army [no joke] they are lead by a man by the name of Joseph Kony.
Kony was a former altar boy in the Catholic church- and considers himself to be a prophet sent from God. His mission? To restore Africa to a Christian nation- based on the 10 commandments [you want theocracy- forget Perry and Palin- this guy is the real deal].
Now- Kony [like the other political guys in Uganda] see Obama and the West as enemies of God- enemies of the Christian God- do you now see a little more?
Kony has a real messiah complex- and I have read about this guy in the past- and some maintain that he actually does miracles and is the real deal.
Kony has also embraced the radical view of fighting for his cause- he kills- kidnaps- and acts just like the other radical Muslim groups in the area- he fights fire with fire.
Now- it is estimated that Kony has about 200 followers- imagine Brando in Apocalypse now- and you’ll get the picture.
How much damage has this little group done? It’s estimated that they have ‘displaced’ around 300 thousand people- killed around 2400.
You have had Muslim conflicts kill millions on the continent- and we did nothing.
This one thing I do know- that Friday was the first time under this president that we have decided to deploy ground troops in a foreign theater- a theater that we were not already at war with [Afghanistan, Iraq].
Even Libya was described as Kinetic action- so they would not have to take the heat of sending in ground troops.
Yet Friday- yes the Friday where all these damming memos came out- memos from your own people basically saying you broke the law here- that’s the day we decide to send the most ground troops into Africa since the marines landed in Liberia in 2003- it stinks to ‘high heaven’ if you ask me.
I know the administration will say ‘this has been a problem for years- the world court declared Kony as committing crimes against humanity- the U.N. has tried to deal with it’ yes- all these things are true- but Friday- this past Friday- out of all the days you could have decided its time to roll- you roll on Friday?
And you ‘Roll’ against a group- crazy- violent- nuts- yes. But the group is a radical ‘Christian’ group- run by a former altar boy- in a country that is the most vocal against Obama- on this very issue- yes- that’s the guy- his team of 200 disciples- yes- he’s the one.
There's just too much here for me to believe this decision was based purely on the concern for Uganda.
How bout you?
 ALLAH AKBAR!!
Let’s tell a tale today. You had this nation that had people in it that hated Blacks. Yes- these ‘Black haters’ had some political organization to them- they lived in the ‘southern’ part of the nation.
You also had the leader of this nation- he lived in the ‘North’. Over time these 2 sides disagreed about stuff- and it even got to the point where they took up arms against each other.
The Blacks who lived in the north- well they were hoping that the south would not win- after all- they heard reports of how the leaders in the south were treating the Blacks ‘down there’.
They were treated like slaves.
Over time- the north seemed to be winning the fight- but then lo and behold- another outside country came in and supported the south- they had modern weaponry- fast planes- and they over powered the weaker kingdom in the north.
To the dismay of the Blacks in the north- the southern leaders came in- and just like they feared- they made them do free manual labor- used them to clean up the place- do odd jobs ‘hey there black boy- go fetch me some food’.
If the Black Boys resisted- they would stick live electrical wires to their genitals- and torture them. Their wives were abused- kids treated like ‘shit’ and all this happened- thanks to the wonderful ‘liberating’ help from the outside country.
If I asked you to name this nation- would it be America a couple of hundred years ago- give or take a few minor details- a different outcome to our Civil War?
Actually this ‘tale’ is no tale at all- it is what has happened in Libya [Tripoli] these last 3 months.
Yes- the outside country is the U.S. - the Black hating ‘south’ are really the rebels from the east [Benghazi] and the leader who loved and protected the Black people- Lincoln? No- sorry- his name is Gadhaffi.
Human Rights watch- a human rights group from N.Y. - they went into Tripoli to see if the reports of human rights abuses were real. They found that the so called ‘liberators’ the guys we have backed- they took the- quote ‘Dark skinned Libyans’ [they don’t want to say Black Folk] and used them to do ‘forced labor’ [slavery].
They pulled Blacks from cars- women and children- no matter- and beat the hell out of them.
They’ll ‘string you up’ in a minute- just because they can’t stand Blacks.
Okay- after all this- these same Black hating rebels advance to the other cities in Libya- they camped outside Sirte for a few weeks- Gadhaffi’s home town. The people of Sirte are saying ‘get the hell out of here- we don’t want you- you are not liberators- your ‘southern’ political views are not the views we embrace. We have always worked with the Blacks- Gadhaffi taught us to love them as our brothers- that’s why Nelson Mandela praised him openly when he was released from prison’.
Yes- the citizens of Sirte want none of this so called ‘liberation group’ being supported by NATO and U.S. fire power- because if these ‘liberators’ make it in- yes- the ‘dark skinned’ folk- well they know the score.
I saw [read?] a news report how the rebels were surrounding Sirte [and Bani Walid] and they were calling on NATO- and the U.S. ‘where are the planes- hurry- lets bomb these bad people in these towns’.
Finally- some NATO rep said ‘uh- there are some technical reasons why we are holding off’ bull!
They realized that the damn human rights violations that we have helped make happen- that these violations are a hundred times worse than what Gadhaffi has done [minus the Lockerbie plane attack].
When we started our action in Libya- we said we were going to simply create a no fly zone in order to protect civilians from ‘bad people’. What started as a no fly zone turned into an ‘air force’ for these S.O.B.’s.
We then figured we might as well go all the way- depose the mad clown of Tripoli- and get it done with quickly. It’s been 3 months since Tripoli fell- and just last week- 80 citizens of Tripoli- you know- those who supposedly greeted the new leaders as liberators- they gathered in Green Square and raised the Green flag again- they were saying ‘we want the old leader back’.
The rebels- our guys- they pulled these people [many Blacks] from their cars- they tortured them and put them in jail.
As ‘our rebels’ did this- as they ran through the square to stop the protestors- they were yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ at the top of their lungs- geez- that sounds just like the attack that took place a few miles up the road from me- Fort Hood- Tx.
As Hassan grabbed his gun and went into the building on the base- he shouted this same ‘liberating’ slogan- as he pumped bullets into his fellow American soldiers.
The main commander who has received praise for his leading the attack that took Tripoli a couple of months back- he was detained by our forces a few years ago- he was suspected of killing our guys- he was [is?] an Al-Qaida leader who came from the eastern part of Libya [where the Rebels live] and he was sent to kill American soldiers in Iraq.
Yes- these guys- the ones who shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ the other day- as they rampaged thru the historic square- attacking and torturing Black skinned Libyans- yes- these are the ‘liberators’ we have backed.
Shame on all of us- shame.
 TOO MANY A’S ?
[By the way- my sister is still in the hospital- she is doing much better- thanks for the prayers!]
Let’s talk about what has happened these last 6 months or so. I found it interesting that the last ‘official’ post I wrote was about Libya- and how what started as a ‘no fly zone’ to protect civilians- turned into an air force for a bunch of possible Al Qaeda guys.
Then sure enough- yesterday the stuff hit the fan- I did a few short posts while watching the news- at first we thought our drones did kill him- then we saw that he survived the air attack- and was ‘accidentally shot’ in a crossfire between his supporters and the Rebels.
You know- the stray bullet theory- let’s see- 2 bullets in the neck- one in the head- 5 in the back- yeah- sounds like a stray bullet to me.
Okay- I realize these guys are no altar boys [well- maybe they are- remember Joe Kony? - few posts back] But the fact is we- along with NATO- made a conscious decision to side with one side in a civil war- the side we picked do indeed have bad guys on their team- and these bad guys have been lying to us since day one- we all know this.
Second- I just happened to write a post in ‘defense’ of Gadhaffi the other day- over the last 6 months I have written about his ‘love’ for the Black ‘skinned’ people of Africa.
Now- some question whether this guy really loved ‘the Blacks’ or not. Let me say this- when Obama was elected- Gadhaffi was really happy about it. The London papers even printed a long quote from Gadhaffi- praising Obama- after the war on Libya started.
The reason they showed the quote was they wanted to give balance to the fact that many Obama supporters were on the side of Gadhaffi for years.
You had stories about Beyonce and other famous black entertainers/leaders having many contacts with Gadhaffi over the years.
You also had very well known Black leaders come out and condemn Obama when he called for Gadhaffi to step down [Farrakhan]. The reason many Black leaders were upset with Obama’s strategy was because Gadhaffi did really see himself as a defender of Black people- and a ‘Father of the peoples Revolution’
Okay- the man came to power in 1969- it was a military coup that over threw a Royal Family. In a very real way- it had a flavor of the modern Arab Spring.
Many of the current protests taking place in the Arab/Persian world are civilians protesting against Autocratic rule- they are protesting the Royal families that rule their nations.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia- Syria- these are run by families [sons] that simply hold power because of their ‘Royalty’- so- in a sense- Gadhaffi was indeed a Father of his own Revolution- he did not have power because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth- he was a military leader who over threw a Royal family.
Now- did he run Libya like a ‘western style democracy’ of course not. And the odds on any of these ‘Arab Spring’ nations doing so are about zero.
The original uprisings began when a street vender in Tunisia [the nation directly west of Libya] killed himself as a protest for being treated badly by the Tunisian security forces [I think the guy set himself on fire].
To the surprise of many outside observers- the leader of Tunisia fell fast- and then the protests spread to Egypt [on the other side of Libya- to the east- all on the border of North Africa- right off the Mediterranean].
In Egypt- the leader- Hosni Mubarak- was a ‘bad’ man- in the sense that for years the people were abused under the security forces of the govt. So Obama went back and forth for a few days- then sided with the people and called for him to step down.
Egypt is a much larger country [population wise] than Libya- Egypt has about 80 million people- Libya 6 million.
But Libya is large geographically- lots of land. Most of the population live right off of the Mediterranean coast- the rest of the country is scattered- they are a tribal nation- the local tribal leaders run the show.
Okay- the reason Egypt fell- in sort of an orderly way- was because their military is advanced- many of their military commanders have been trained in the West- and have close ties to the U.S.
It was fairly easy for the West to tell the insiders ‘look- we think it’s time for a change- we need Mubarak out’ and that’s why he stepped down- he was forced.
In Libya- there is no military type ‘alliance’ that we can work with- Gadhaffi had a military- but the country is pretty Rag Tag.
So how did we get involved?
Like the other nations to the east and west of Libya- you did have people rise up and protest- and I’m sure they were/are sincere. But remember- these Libyan people were not protesting against a Royal family- they were protesting against a guy who did see himself as a true leader of one of the original revolutions of the area.
Last night I saw a bunch of Gadhaffi videos- you know- all the networks playing the oldies but goodies. He tells Larry King ‘I am not the leader of Libya- I am the leader of the Revolution’ King questioned that- yet Gadhaffi did indeed see himself as a liberator of sorts.
When you watch the videos of him being taken- and killed [which was shameful to show- no matter how bad the man was- it was still shameful] he says ‘Don’t shoot me- I am like your Father’- yes- he was a deluded man at the end- yet that’s how he saw himself.
So we chose to back the opposing side- who like I have said before- have Al Qaeda in their ranks. In one of the videos- as they are abusing Gadhaffi- ‘our guys’ are shouting Allah Akbar- Allah Akbar- and look like a bunch of rabid dogs as they surround the guy.
Allah Akbar? Yes- it means God is Great in Arabic- but in the west- when the nuts flew into our buildings- they shouted this.
When Radical Islamists bomb people- they shout this.
When our guys engage in military action- kill an enemy target- they don’t yell Jesus is Lord. We need to make it clear in the future- if you want western support- then you need to quit associating bombings and killings with this phrase- you want to ‘praise God’ then save it for the mosque [tough love- yeah- we need some].
Okay- the deed is done- the outcome? Have no idea.
Egypt has no- and probably will never see- a western style democracy- the odds are- all of these Arab Spring nations will either become run by the military leaders that over threw the autocrats [just like Gadhaffi did in 1969] or if they hold elections- you are gonna get the Muslim Brotherhood- and others like that- in charge.
These groups make no bones about it- if they take charge- they will set up Shariah Law.
If you are a Christian in these countries [Like the Coptic church in Egypt- who make up 10 % of the population] then you’re in big trouble.
Last week there were more protests in Egypt- the biggest since the toppling of Mubarak- many of the protestors were Christians. The ‘caretaker govt.’ in charge- the military guys we backed- they drove their armored vehicles into the square- and ran over about 25 Christians- there's your Democracy.
Remember- many of these original protests were citizens protesting their countries being ruled by Royal families- Gadhaffi over threw a royal family in Libya.
Piers Morgan [CNN] had the gall to have on 2 sons of the Libyan ‘royal family’ that was over thrown in 1969. He spoke to them like they were victims- he even said ‘maybe now you can go back to Libya- and get justice’ [my paraphrase] What! These protests are supposed to be getting rid of these Monarchies- not support them!
There's a funny commercial making the rounds right now- every so often there’s a commercial that I’ll catch- and if it’s funny- whenever I scan my news channels- if I see it- I’ll stop.
So you have this manager/owner of an auto repair shop- the commercial opens up with him answering the phone- he says ‘This is AAAAAAAA-‘ for about 20 times- and of course the customer hangs up.
The mechanic walks in and asks ‘hey boss- why do we have so many A’s on our name’ and the boss- standing at the counter- in front of the name of the business- yes- with about 20 A’s in front of the name- tells the mechanic ‘so we can get our name to be the first in the phone book’.
Of course- this boss is using the old strategy of AAA transmission- or whatever- you know- that old phone book strategy.
So then the mechanic goes into his deal- hawking whatever co. they are trying to plug [I think it’s Fed Ex?] And as the boss listens to this ‘new strategy’ of how to promote your business- the commercial ends with the boss saying ‘you know- you’re a smart kid- you got some future here at- AAAAAAA….’ and the commercial ends.
Sometimes in life- we embrace strategies- things that we think will help our cause- but after careful analysis- it actually hurts it [Who wants to wait on the phone for the price of a spark plug- while hearing some shop owner go through 20 million A’s?]
In all of our efforts to back the innocent people- yes- many of the people in the Arab Spring countries are victims- they have grown up in these situations- and we do want freedom for them.
But at the end of the day- if we wind up backing- militarily- a bunch of radicals who we see on U- tube yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ as they surround their former Revolutionary leader from years gone by- then we might mean well- but I fear the strategy might be fatally flawed in the end.
 FOR A PAIR OF SHOES? CMON!
Yesterday I saw a few clips from a talk Joe Biden gave- he was at some municipal type function [Cops- Firemen] and he was basically defending the presidents ‘jobs bill’. I mean the guy really impressed me with his mastery of the numbers.
He rattled off ‘in 2007- you had this many cops on the street- this many rapes- this many killings’. He then went on to the following years- you know- showing us that as the force went down in numbers- that the violent crimes went up.
I mean- it was so smooth- you would think he was just pulling the numbers out of the air.
As he left the hall- some reporter got him on whether or not it was right to associate voting no on the ‘jobs bill’ with being for an increase in rapes [Biden was saying if you vote no- then the number of cops being let go will go up- and the rapes will go up too- according to his numbers].
Biden kind of got into a little scuffle ‘hey buddy- don’t you misquote me on this- this is what I said’ you know- Biden has never had trouble with talking off the cuff like that.
Then sure enough- the Repubs got the actual numbers from the FBI on the rapes and stuff from that city [I think he was in Boston?].
And the actual numbers were the opposite of what Biden said- the rapes went down over the years he said they went up.
I like old Joe- he lives his life for the moment. You know- having a few shots of J.D. with the guys at the Fire Dept. Hanging out with the cops and all my fellow union bro’s [still am a member with the fire fighters union] and then going to the union hall and hitting one out of the park- just giving this soul stirring defense of the president’s policy- rattling off those numbers like one of the local lotto ‘quick 6’ guys does at the corner store.
Then of course the thrill is short lived- sure it made you feel great as you hung out with the boys for the rest of the day ‘Biden sure defended us today- way to go Joe- way to go’. Then he gets back home and sees all the clips of how he screwed up the whole thing.
You know- his wife saying ‘hey honey- look your on CNN again- they’re making fun of you’. And Biden probably just fluffs the thing off ‘Heck- this aint the first time baby- and won’t be the last’. Oh- and by the way- Obama’s trying to get a hold of you- ‘just tell him I’m’ busy hon- talk to him another day’.
Ah- the more I watch these guys- the more I keep thinking of the Don Knott’s movie ‘the gang that can’t shoot straight’ it’s sad- but at least you can laugh as the country goes to Hades in a hand basket.
Okay- to my liberal friends- this next one is for you.
I do think very seriously that our country- and the world- has very serious problems facing us these next few years. I do not see the answer to these problems as being conservative or liberal- I think that both sides really need to be able to come to the table and talk as adults- that has not happened yet.
I’m going to defend Obama right now- just a warning to both sides.
These past few months the U.S. has been trying to negotiate a deal with Iraq- we originally signed an agreement with the new govt. that we would stay in their country till the end of this year.
As the months rolled by the leadership of Iraq has had some very shaky people join their ranks. Iraq is now considered [by many insiders] as being part of a group of 3 nations [Iraq- Syria- Iran] that are strengthening their ties- as sort of a buffer against the other nations in the region.
One of the leaders in Iraq- on the official payroll- is Muqtada Al Sadr [I’m guessing on the spelling?] Do you remember him?
This guy led his own militia during our war in Iraq. At times we went back and forth on whether or not we should target his little enclave and take out his personal army.
Eventually we decided to let the guy live and he finally got on the actual team of leaders that make up the new Iraqi leadership.
This guy has killed our guys- we have killed his.
Now- a while back he agreed to putting a stop to the killing of American soldiers in Iraq [gee thanks a lot!]. He is a religious leader with a following- and at one time he justified [Fatwa] the killing of American soldiers as being part of fighting the ‘infidel’ invaders from the west.
After he got in office- he agreed to tell this people ‘stop killing them’- for good? No- just until the official agreement of our forces staying until this year ends- but after that- he has said its open shooting once again.
Okay- this guy is part of the Iraqi govt.- he’s telling us he will take his guys and kill American soldiers if we stay past the deadline.
Obama has been trying to extend the deadline [at the secret request of the Iraqi leaders- they want us to stay longer- but because of political posturing won’t say it openly]. But in order for them to look tough to the outsiders- they are refusing to sign an agreement that would give our guys legal immunity if we stay.
So you have these guys playing ‘hard ball’ with our guys- we are not asking them to pay the 800 billion dollar bill we have racked up over these past 10 years- they have officials in their govt. who are openly saying ‘you stay past the deadline- your dead’ and the other leaders will not grant our guys immunity.
I would have done the same thing Obama did- you know what- we shed blood here- your govt. has turned into a major supporter of some of our biggest enemies in the region- and your own officials are calling for the killing of our men- after the deadline.
Your damn right we’re not staying- no way in hell.
But we are so divided- the Repub candidates have used this as a tool to criticize Obama- and the left has done the same dirty deeds [Biden’s numbers game?]
This week the DOW went up to around 11,800. I’ll admit- I did not think we would see those numbers this year- nor do I think it’s smart for us to ‘see’ those numbers.
Why? I have said a bunch of times over this last year that the global economy is not in good shape.
Some economists think we [the U.S. and Europe] are going through a De- Leveraging cycle. They feel that nations/economies can only go so long through a borrowing/spending cycle- and then they have to ‘bottom out’ and go through a long season of deleveraging.
Many think that the west is in this phase right now- and will be in it for a number of years.
That’s why Greece- once again- is having open rioting on the streets. They have over borrowed- over promised- and now are doing what’s called Austerity measures- they have to cut.
Now- in our country- we too have these same problems looming over the horizon- we are not technically as bad as Greece [yet] but we are in trouble.
The only way to really deal with this problem- is for both sides to actually make some serious cuts/changes in what we call entitlement programs [Medicare being the biggest] and yes- some type of income on the ‘revenue side’.
Not raising taxes across the board [maybe?] but doing what many on both sides have called for- closing a lot of the loopholes that are in the tax code and making real ‘adjustments’ to entitlements- if we don’t seriously do this- then we will be in big trouble.
Okay- why do I think the DOW is way too high? Investors have been looking for a sign- any sign- that they can use to hang some hope on- that we will not go into another recession.
Sure enough- some good news did come out- and some not so good.
Then once again- the European debt yoyo- it went up again- the investors thought ‘o- maybe the Euro Zone will fix its debt crisis’. Look- no matter what deal they do- they will still have a very long way to go to get out of their problems- and their banks and economies are going to still suffer- no matter what.
And why was Biden doing the speech? Because he was trying to get support for Obama’s plan to send more federal money back to the states. The states have been propped up by the stimulus package and fed. aid- and that moneys gone.
So yes- the states are going to lay off this year- more than any previous year- the moneys gone.
All of these things are huge problems- on a Macro level- that are going to effect the global markets for many years to come- even if the actual figures for business look better [many financial guys have been saying ‘the fundamentals are much better’- true- in a way].
But no business functions in a vacuum. No matter how good the bottom line looks- if people are out of work- and banks are not lending- and if we are really in a de leveraging cycle- then no matter how good the ‘fundamentals’ are- the ‘customers’ are broke- or can’t get a loan to buy the good/service- see?
Okay- lets end with some bible stuff- before I lose all my Christian readers.
A while back we were doing an over view of the entire bible- and I probably should have done at least one last post or 2 before we stopped [maybe will get to that in the next few weeks?]
We stopped at the O.T. prophets- and under that category- you have what we call the Major and Minor Prophets. That’s simply a distinction in the size of their books [Isaiah is long- major- Amos short- minor].
I did hit on Isaiah some- and for a minor prophet- if I could only do one- it would be Amos.
Amos was a very strong defender of the poor- the weak ones in society. He railed against the rich- and the powerful- ‘you sell the poor for a pair of shoes- there is no justice in the land’.
In a way- you could fit him in at one of the Occupy Wall Street rallies.
Amos also condemned the ‘church folk’ he said [like the other prophets too] that the religious people were having great meetings- they were rejoicing in their religious life- they had a great time ‘practicing’ their religion [every day a Friday?] Yet there were many injustices in the land- things that God was not happy with.
And these things were the uneven balances that existed in their day.
When he said ‘you sold the poor for a pair of shoes’ yes- the ‘market’ was that bad- that you could ‘buy a slave’- that cheap. Was it ‘just’ simply because that was the market value?
Hell no- people have more value than a damn pair of shoes! What about his injustice ‘rant’?
That spoke specifically about ‘justice in the courts’ the rich were able to ‘buy’ a better outcome in the courts- than the poor.
Man- if these things are not signs of our times- then I have no idea what is.
Okay- I’m glad the President did what he did on the troop thing- if your country can’t guarantee immunity to our guys- yeah-were gonna get the hell out.
Oh- one last thing- I think I hear a phone ringing- all the way from Delaware- yes Joe- someone wants to talk to you- and soon.
 IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Was gonna do one last post [for now] on Libya- we will need to cover the whole development of how we began to view/and act over a 6 month period- we acted [as a nation] contrary to our public statements. We swore- over and over again- that we were not targeting the man [or his family] and he swore [before the U.N. - by his rep.] that we were lying- and did indeed already kill a few of his grandkids [which was true] and were going after him.
Then- on national T.V. - we saw him flee Sirte [his hometown] and get bombed by both NATO and American planes [ours were Drones]. We destroyed a bunch of vehicles- left a lot of dead bodies- but he made it to a tunnel.
Then he got pulled out- ended up with a bullet in the head. O- forgot- this happened a day or 2 after Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli [her first visit] and said ‘we are waiting for you to capture or kill him’ [oop’s!] She later had to ‘clarify’.
She also was caught on tape- laughing and rejoicing over his death- okay- many people did- but if your saying publicly- ‘that’s not what we want’- then it looks bad.
Of course the other Arab nations want the U.N. to investigate- they were being told- by us- that we were not going after him. He begged for a peaceful resolution [he did do this!]. But we basically said no.
There are lots of questions to still be answered on this thing.
Okay- yesterday I wrote a quick note about a conversation I had with a new friend who just joined my site. She was into some new age stuff- we talked a little- I defended historic Christian belief- then she blocked me.
Let’s talk a little about Apologetics/Theology. Apologetics is the field where Christians Defend the Faith.
In our day- it is common for believers to be ‘left in the dust’ when they bang up against an atheistic scientist [they not all are!] or someone versed in Philosophy [Sartre or Camus- atheist thinkers- or Hitchen's and Dawkins].
Many times these various fields of study are too much for the average believer to feel like he can engage in- in an intelligent way- and ‘win’ the argument for the Christian view.
But church history has a long- and very successful- track record doing this very thing.
A few weeks back I did about 5 posts or so on Philosophy- a field I like to study. But if you do too many of those posts at one time- then it can get a little heavy [and boring!] So I try to break it up by only doing so many at a time. The same goes for Theology- Church History- etc.
But over time- if we become well versed in these various fields- it will help us defend the Christian view- in an intelligent way- without being mean about it [I try!]
But sometimes you will offend people- even if you try to be nice- because you’re engaging in a conversation that says ‘yes- as Christians we believe in ultimate truth- and that truth is in the person of Jesus Christ’ yes- that will offend some.
My approach to these types of debates is I’m what you would call Ecumenical- I believe that Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox- and all the other ‘churches’ that profess Christ- I believe they are all Christian.
Now you might say ‘well John- doesn’t everybody?’ Actually no- many of the most knowledgeable Apologists do indeed go after the other groups. Quite often you will have a strong protestant defender [usually from the Reformed faith] that will really hit the Catholic church- in my view- too hard.
While it is true that historically Catholics and Protestants have differences- I have often found that Many ‘average’ Catholics/Protestants are not really aware of the real differences- they often have very limited perspectives about the ‘other side’ and these limited ideas [often wrong] seem to stay with the people- for most of their lives.
One example- the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception- what is it?
The teaching became Official- only in the last 2 centuries of the Catholic church- though it was held by many- it finally became official in the last 2 hundred years [ 1854 for the Immaculate Conception- 1950 for the Assumption of Mary doctrine].
The doctrine teaches that the Virgin Mary- Jesus Mom- was born ‘without the taint of original sin’. Now- what does that mean?
Some Protestants think the Catholics teach that Mary was ‘sinless’ in the same way Christ was sinless.
Actually- that’s not the official doctrine [see- it’s important to know the official teaching when we engage like this]. The actual teaching- that has the churches Imprimatur on it- is that Mary WAS A SINNER- just like the rest of us- but in order for Jesus to have been born from a pure vessel- that the actual work of the Cross- Redemption- it was applied to Mary ‘ahead of time’.
Yes- the official teaching is that Mary ‘was saved’ from her sin- just like the rest of us- thru the Cross. The difference is the forgiveness that came to Mary- came to her before she was born- yes- the teaching does teach that Mary was born ‘without sin’ but not like Jesus was without sin- but she was ‘without sin’ because her salvation was applied ahead of time- way ahead of time- before she was born.
Okay- do Protestants believe in this teaching? No. But is it ‘so way out of line’ to the point where we should view our Catholic brothers and sisters as ‘non Christian’ because of it? No- not in my view.
Plus- many Catholics don’t even realize that this is what the doctrine teaches- many think it is talking about the birth of Jesus- being born without sin- by the act of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary and Mary conceiving.
No- this is what we call ‘The Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Ghost’. Jesus being born from a virgin with no earthly father.
This is not the Immaculate Conception.
So right here alone [trust me- there are many more examples that I could give] Both Catholics and Protestants usually get the doctrine wrong- yet they remain divided their whole lives- over something that they are not even right about.
So I have found this type of stuff to be a problem while striving for Christian unity- and many Christians prefer to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and will continue to view them that way- till they die.
I always feel bad when I lose a friend from the site- sometimes you can’t help it [other times it is my fault!] but sometimes it’s because we have views about things- strongly held views- and when others hold to a different view- well we try and avoid them.
One day I received a Friends Request- to my surprise- it was from a young Catholic priest- I did not know him but he must have read a few posts of mine and liked them. He often gave me Thumbs Up comments on the posts- and at times would tell me he loved the posts.
Most were my Theology/Church history posts.
Often times Catholics and Protestants can agree and enjoy these types of studies. I love studying and teaching on the Church Fathers and early Christian history- and these sources all have a very strong Catholic flavor to them- so I see my fellow Catholics as being a part of a long tradition of Christian history.
Many famous converts to the Catholic Church [Bishop John Newman- converted from the Anglican Church] convert because they read the Church Fathers- and when you read them- it’s obvious to see the catholic nature of the early church in these men’s writings.
So anyway I was very happy to have a Catholic priest as one of my ‘on line students’ [and honored].
But one day- during one of my studies [covering one subject for a month or so] to my surprise I saw he was gone [yes- the dreaded block]. I thought- geez- wonder why?
I realized it was right in the middle of a study I did on Islam- and while I was doing the posts- I was also going thru a study on Islam- by the same guy who teaches it to the U.S. govt. - yes- it was a prof. [I think named Espinoza?] who teaches Islam to our govt. employees [sort of like a tolerance type thing].
Though the teacher was Catholic- yet he was VERY much pro Islam- I mean to the point where I had to reject some of the stuff he was saying- and finish the study from my own education on Islam.
At one point- he taught that the spread of Islam thru out the world had a wonderful- liberating effect on all the women in the lands where Islam spread. I mean it was so obvious that the man had no idea what he was talking about [in this area] that I realized he was not a good source [this happens every so often].
And it was more troubling that this was the guy Obama picked to teach Islam to our govt. employees [don’t get me wrong here- he teaches our govt. workers- not to convert them- but more of an informative type thing- just like you would teach any other course about sexual harassment- or whatever].
Anyway- in one of my posts while teaching on my site- I did refer to Mohamed as ‘the prophet’- now- I don’t receive Mohamed that way myself- but because I was teaching some Muslims who did recently join the site- well I used the title in this way.
I think that might have been the ‘last straw’ for my student/priest- he ‘went on Pilgrimage’ right after that post.
Okay- today’s point is we all should try our best to be ‘tolerant’ that is- we should give people as much grace/mercy as possible- but at the same time we also need to be honest about the Christian faith.
Yes- as Christians we believe salvation comes thru Christ- he was not just ‘one religious leader among many’ no- we believe he is the Way- the Truth- the Life/light- no man comes to the Father- but by him.
Sometimes we do our best not to offend- we might even go out of our way to receive people- other religions and systems that are not Christian- that’s okay- I have Muslim and Jewish and all types of friends- I’m glad they are my friends!
But we also have to be honest about our beliefs- and every now and then that might- just might- earn you a BLOCK.
 ARAB SPRING UPDATE
Been wanting to cover the Arab Spring protests for a while now- but also want to do a few more posts on Catholic/Protestant relations.
Let’s start with the protests- and see how far we get.
To my surprise [and disappointment!] the new ‘leaders’ of Libya have already come out and said they will indeed have Shariah law as the law of the land.
They said- very boldly ‘we are a Muslim land- and Shariah law will be the law’. Did they have Shariah law under Gadhaffi? Actually no- they did have some elements of it [Polygamy] but it was not full Shariah law.
For instance- under Gadhaffi men could have more than one wife [look at him!] yet they needed the permission from the 1st wife. Under the new leaders- you won’t need that.
I saw one of the new team respond to this question- he basically said ‘don’t worry- the woman will get used to it’- no- I do worry.
We need to have some sort of ‘standard’ policy when it comes to all of these types of conflicts- a signed agreement- maybe an informal outline for a new constitution that states very clearly- that the rights of woman and Christians in these new governments will be respected.
We need to say ‘yes- Muslims- as well as all other groups- will have the freedom to be represented- but no group [or groups] will be forced to live under any religious law’.
‘But John- who are we to dictate something like that’? Look- if they ask for our help- to intervene- and in Libya’s case to basically bomb the hell out of the other side- spend a billion [probably more] and to be the air force for the Rebels- then if you want that type of backing- then that’s the new price tag- freedom for all sides- no Shariah law imposed- and freedom for all the women- no more oppressive regimes like the Taliban.
Okay- this concept is difficult for us in the West- we have managed to pretty much make a distinction in our minds between separation of Church and state.
Though you have arguments about whether one political side wants to establish ‘Christian Shariah’ [Heard Frankie Schaffer make the charge again the other day. He is the son of the late Frances Schaffer- an influential figure in the early ‘Christian right’ movement in our country. Frankie is still a Christian- but he is very anti ‘religious right’ but he goes too far- he says that Perry and others like him do want a Christian Shariah law for the U.S.- the problem with this is many of these radical Muslim nations are actually killing Christians and women and others who ‘violate’ their laws- we should not use this comparison- it dilutes the seriousness of what is happening in the ‘real world’] yet for the most part we have made the distinction between govt. and religion.
Yet when you study Islam- Islam is both a religion and a form of govt. - those who embrace Islam have not yet made this type of distinction. Now- there are some moderate Muslim voices who are calling for this type of Reformation within Islam- but they have a long way to go.
Okay- that’s why it’s easy for these ‘new’ nations to say ‘o yeah- Shariah all the way’.
This week- Tunisia- the first Arab Spring nation to fall- did indeed vote in Shariah law. Egypt- the 2nd Arab Spring nation is heading there- and the new leaders of Libya have already stated it- we do have a problem folks.
Okay- I have a few Muslims friends who read my site- and I am very grateful to have them as friends. One lives in Bahrain- and out of the 3 top ‘bad actors’ right now- Bahrain is one of them [the other 2 are Yemen and Syria].
The argument could be made that the leaders of these countries have done just as bad- or even worse- than what Gadhaffi did.
The U.S. has our 5th fleet docked right off the coast of Bahrain- we need them- that’s why our leaders have overlooked the serious oppression that the Bahrain leaders are foisting upon their people.
In the last few weeks they have handed down some very serious sentences to the medical workers who simply helped tend to the wounded protestors. Many of these nurses and doctors are going to prison- for a long time- just because they did their job.
The ruling autocracy in Bahrain is a division of Islam [I think the rulers are Sunni- the majority of the population Shiite- it’s been a while since I studied it- sometimes I forget which is which]. The ruling ‘minority’ do indeed oppress the majority population.
Now- Bahrain does get lots of money- and help- from the U.S. having our fleet there- yet their army is not a strong- huge force. So what they have done is they hired ‘soldiers’ from Saudi Arabia- a fellow country- whose leaders are of the same religious division that the Bahrain leaders embrace- and these soldiers have come in and have been the security for the unpopular rulers.
In Syria- just last night- new reports have come out- Assad [the Syrian leader] has sent his men into the hospitals- they are torturing the wounded protestors right in the hospitals. And in Yemen- the leader- Salleh- has returned from getting treatment from the burns he suffered during an assassination attempt- and he’s back in Yemen- also fighting against the protestors in his land.
In Libya- we- along with NATO [primarily French and British warplanes] decided to team up with a side- a side that did take up arms against the leader from the West [Tripoli].
As I have watched this play out- and have looked at all the angles- I have come to the conclusion that the main reason we intervened there- and not in these other places- was because you had a very pubic threat made by Gadhaffi at the start- he and his troops were right outside Benghazi [the rebels stronghold in the east] and he did publicly threaten to go in and wipe them out.
Now- at the same time- the Arab league and other Arab nations were calling for help- fine. But we should have said ‘okay- but you guys must pay for this’. All the very rich Arab nations that wanted us to intervene- we should have said ‘your oil rich nations will pick up the tab’.
Also- if the criteria for us intervening like this- if we state- over and over again- that we are just doing a no fly zone- then we need to just do that.
In Libya- we did indeed hunt the man down [if that’s what we think we should do- fine- but we must say so]. And if our public statements are saying something different- then we are doing wrong.
I do hope and pray for all of my friends in these nations- I want very much for all the people in these nations to have freedom- and I want for us in the U.S. to make it plain- we want freedom for the woman and the Christians too- even if the majority vote for Shariah- that still is not acceptable- we want no religious rule that will oppress woman and Christians.
Yes- there are some woman who choose to live under Shariah- but the majority of women in these countries want freedom- and if we are going to ‘help’ these nations like we did in Libya- then we need to have some agreements ready to sign- right at the start.
We don’t want to ‘liberate’ another Arab country- to find out that the new leaders are already calling for Shariah law- in my mind- that’s not liberation.
 YAHWEH- YAHWEH- I LOVE TO SHOUT YOUR NAME!
Want to try and cover a few current events today. Last week- when the DOW went up to around 12,300- I felt like ‘here we go again’. The news came out ‘yes- Greece is solving their debt problem- hip- hip- hooray!’ Then of course a day or 2 will go by and something bad happens- ‘oh- no- the sky is falling’.
I mean it’s not even funny anymore- if the world [global] economy learns anything from this debacle- it will be to try and put a plan in place- where the entire global market is not going from week to week- based on these long term payouts that the other E- Zone nations are making to Greece- based on how much they agree to cut every few weeks.
It’s like running our govt. on the Continuing Resolutions- having to pass these temporary deals every few months- and the markets being drawn to the brink every couple of months- this whole way of working is not acceptable.
But what I wanted to say- that the so called solution to the Greek debt crisis- well it’s really not a solution at all. Yes- I think they needed to do it [cut their bonds in half] but what they actually did- was they did default [go bankrupt] and they reorganized their debt.
When a nation [or company- or bank] does this- they are telling all their investors ‘you just lost a boatload of cash’. Okay- who are these evil investors anyway?
The ‘Occupy Wall’ street guys- well they mean well- and they have some valid points to make- but the problem is not really with the bankers- or the ‘1-%’- that is if you simply slash the bonds/investments in half [those evil bank people!]- you are not taking all the money from those ‘fat cats’.
In reality- lots of the average folk lose money too. Many retirement accounts- yes- for teachers and Firemen and Cops [you know- the 99%] are tied into these investments. Now- I hope your own 401 k was not heavily invested in European debt- but many people’s investments are.
And when the nation [or company] says ‘hey everybody- guess what- we fixed the problem- we simply told everybody- today is half price day- for us’. Well yes- they reduced their debt. But they did it by ‘reducing’ the value of everyone else that had skin in the game.
So what does this mean? It means that lots of folk took a big hit- and these same folk [made up of all the other European nations] are not going to be happy about it. Will they ever invest in Greek debt again? Hell no- I don’t blame them either.
Okay John- what does this mean? Glad you asked. It means that even though the Europeans ‘solved their debt crisis’ they solved it in a way that will have long lasting effects on the global economy. Now- Greece is really a small economy- we all know this- but don’t be fooled into thinking something was ‘solved’ no- they solved it by saying ‘hey- we aint paying the people we owe money too’ Geez- wish I could ‘solve’ my debt crisis like that.
And sure enough- before I had a chance to write the post [warning about this very thing] yesterday we saw a global investment company go Belly Up. It was some firm that former N.J. governor Jon Corzine ran- they invested in these European bonds- and yes- they lost half of their investment [billions] over night.
So- before we [U.S. investors and workers] get too happy over the Europeans ‘fixing’ their problems [like the DOW shooting up to 12,300!] lets realize that there are still lots of problems on the horizon- and we are not out of the water yet [the DOW also was responding to the 3rd quarter numbers that came out- the U.S. economy did do better than expected- I think the growth was a little over 2 %- that’s good- not great- but okay].
Okay- I also found it funny [not to demean the thing] that the Syrians were protesting in the streets- calling for- well you guessed it- a NO FLY ZONE.
What? A no fly zone? Assad [the Syrian leader] is not flying planes over the protestors- he is indeed killing and torturing them- but no planes.
So why would the Syrians [not all of them] be asking for this? Well to them- after seeing our ‘no fly zone’ in Libya- to them it means ‘please come and hunt down our leader like a dog- kill him- his kids- his grandkids- and when it’s all over- let a bunch of our ‘leaders’ take over- you know- the Al Qaeda group’.
Sad- so sad.
Look- I’m sorry for the abuse that many Arab/Persian nations have foisted upon their people- and in many ways- Assad is an S.O.B.- but we need to find another way to deal with these crisis’- and the ‘no fly zone’ thing- well that has to stop.
One last note- last week I had a strange event take place. As a true news junkie [I read the papers- watch the news- for about 6 hours a day] I stumbled across a death penalty case.
I have made it a habit to pray for the cases I read in the papers- severe crime cases- people going to prison for life- mothers who killed their kids- yes bad cases- but case’s/people I felt the Lord wanted me to pray for- well- for the rest of my life.
I have cut out the news articles- and written the names of these people here in my study- and pinned them up on my prayer wall.
The list is now in the hundreds.
Okay- when I read [last Monday] that Frank Garcia was going to be executed on Thursday- I made a mental note to simply pray for Frank for the next 4 days.
I simply prayed for him every morning- prayed that God would be glorified- that God would help Frank to ‘end right’ to seek God in his last days- make any statements that need to be made- to the victims’ families or whoever else [he killed his wife- and a cop who came to the home on the night they were fighting].
I have done this ‘prayer vigil’ for the guys for many years- writing the names of offenders and putting them on my prayer wall- that’s only a few years old- but to pray for the death row guys- well I have done that for years.
Now- for some reason- in Frank’s case- I felt the Lord saying ‘John- you just adopted him’. What?
I have so many friends- ex-cons- addicts- street guys- and many of them are like brothers- ‘sons’. Some of them have become Christians thru ‘my’ ministry. The years of helping the street guys- preaching at the jails- the whole deal.
So in franks case- it seemed like the Lord was saying ‘John- franks in the group’.
I didn’t fully understand it- but heck- I accepted the thing [you know- when God says something- its’ usually a good idea to believe it].
So on Thursday- I just happened to have the local news on at 6 P.M. - here in Texas the guys usually get the needle at around 6:20 P.M. and before the news ends- they tell you the guys dead.
So as the news rolled along- I prayed for Frank for this last 20 minutes- he wound up dying a little late- at 7.
The next day- I read 3 articles on Frank’s last words- I have never read a testimony like this- yes- from a criminal who did indeed commit horrendous crimes- crimes he needed to be punished for.
The article said that when Frank entered the ‘death room’ for the entire 20 minutes or so- he simply sang out to God- very loudly- praised Jesus- shouted ‘Yahweh- Yahweh- I love to sing your name’ and went on like this for the whole time.
He prayed for the people in the ‘stands’ watching the show- he prayed ‘God- for the prosecutor sitting here right now- may she never forget this day father- may she come under conviction someday father- may she accept Jesus some day’.
He went on and said ‘Father- for this day was I born- to glorify you- even though I committed such terrible crimes- for which I’m sorry for- yet to end my life glorifying you and your Son- to praise you as my God and king- thank you father- thank you’.
The article went on to say that as the drugs began taking effect- Frank began rattling off at the end- not able to form compete sentences- his final word was ‘Jesus’.
The Mother of the woman Frank killed [his mother in law] said she was shocked- that this former San Antonio gang member was always such a quiet kid- she has never spoken to Frank since he killed her daughter- but she saw a different person this night- someone she really did not know at all.
I’m sure the other witnesses will never forget what they heard that night either- especially the prosecutor- who had to position herself as an adversary- one who accuses the defendant in criminal cases- yes- that’s her job- but by nature- she in a way had to ‘hate’ frank- yet she heard him pray for her on the night of his death.
Yes- I never heard a ‘death row’ testimony in my life like this one- and for some reason- I never prayed as much [you know- remembering to pray thru out the week- and then praying for the man the actual hour he was dying] for one either.
These last few years I have ‘sensed’ and in a strange way- ‘received’ some of my old buddies who have died years ago. Many of them were friends I ‘lead’ to the Lord- yet they had very long histories of drug abuse and crime- and yes- some did die as a result of that.
But these last few years- while praying in my prayer ‘spot’ [a special spot in my yard] out early in the morning- under the stars- I sense all my ‘sons’ and friends being in this crowd- the image of John the Apostle- seen in revelation chapter 5- he is in this heavenly throne room before God.
He is there with the angels and saints and the great Lion of the tribe of Judah [Jesus]. It’s a picture of saints that are in heaven- and also on earth- the book of Hebrews says those who have died- and have already passed on- they are in the stands and cheering us on.
I know this sounds strange- but I really sense my ‘old group’ even my buddies who are gone- they are still ‘having church’ with me under the stars.
A few years ago- when I first started sensing this- it seemed as if one of my old friends showed up one week- I just ‘sensed’ it.
His name was Miguel. Me and Mike grew up in N.J. together- good friends as kids.
After high school- I joined the navy- Mike went into the Army.
After I earned my 4 year discharge in 1 year [got kicked out of the Navy!] I went back North and me and Mike got back together as good buddies [he got kicked out of the Army faster than I got booted from the Navy- yeah- he won that competition too!] we did commit a few crimes in those months- we were no ‘angels’ but we eventually headed back to Texas.
Why Texas? Mike wanted to go to Florida- I said Texas. We had no real plans- just two18 year old kids with no destiny.
I said ‘lets flip a coin- heads it’s Texas- tails Florida’. I told Mike that day- I still remember the moment- sitting there in front of my house- on a cold N.J. day- dreary day.
I said ‘hey- some day we can tell our kids that we chose [Tx or Fla.] based on a coin flip’.
I won the flip- we left for Texas in the morning – been here ever since.
Eventually I lead Mike to the Lord- his wife- Lu Ann- and my wife became friends. Mike had a few boys- I had 4 girls!
Mike became a member of my little home church [we also met in a rented hospital for a year or 2] and we were in a sense- living the dream.
Mike had a little harder time than me. He eventually went back North- and I got a call from Mike one day- he told me had had Aids.
I stayed in touch with Mike- he wrote me a few good letters- and one day when I came home from work- my wife said ‘John- Lu Ann called’. I knew it- I said ‘Mike died’ she said yes.
I have Miguel’s funeral card here in my office- its pinned up on a wall with my other friends names who have gone on- Mike was 32.
So a while back- when I started ‘sensing’ this ‘church thing’ this reality that my friends who are still ‘on the ground’ and my buddies who have died- well they are all here with me during those prayer mornings- yes- in that ‘upper room’ that the apostle John was in.
One day I was praying and doing a home church thing with my wife- we often do a simple home meeting- pray- bible reading- communion- it’s kind of cool.
My wife tells me ‘you know- I had a weird dream the other night. You old friend Mike showed up at the door- he rang the bell. He said he was here- looking for you’.
Yes- I felt like God said I ‘adopted’ Frank- that in a way he was now part of my ‘fellowship’ yes- made up of the worst of the worst- they did say of Jesus ‘he’s friends with hookers and killers and sinners- what kind of preacher is that!’
Yes- I like my little group. O- and this past Sunday- while doing the early prayer thing- at the part of being in ‘the room’ with the guys- I almost thought I could hear Frank singing- yes- he seemed to be singing ‘Yahweh- Yahweh- I love to shout your name’.
Yea- it was a good service- the best one in the world.
 TALE OF 2 CITIES [and 2 trees]
This week I read 2 stories in the paper about the aftermath of our action in Libya.
One article was about the city of Sirte- Gadhaffi’s hometown. This was the town where he made his last stand- it was his hometown.
Of course- many of the people did support Gadhaffi from here- you know- like rooting for the local hero.
And you have the same type of thing going on with the new leaders- the Rebels from the east.
Anyway- because this was his last stand- for about 2 months we [NATO and the U.S.] absolutely destroyed the entire city. I mean you’re talking Lebanon after years of bombing- it looks that bad.
I read an interview from a local professional- he was a university teacher- had a nice home- wife and kids- just like you would see in any city here in the U.S.
Shopped at the market- took the wife and kids out to eat- yes- this city was not some desert looking tribal outback- it was a nice place.
The professor was digging thru the rubble as he spoke to the reporter. He basically said his life was over- I mean the entire town is gone- it is no more!
He said he can’t go to another city [Tripoli] because everyone from his town- where Gadhaffi came from- is a target for torture and death.
As he dug thru the rubble- he found what he was looking for. Yes- the corpse of his son ‘found it’ maybe he can give what’s left of it a descent burial.
This city too was a nice place to live- a small town- population 25,ooo. About 250 miles south east of Tripoli. They too bare the stigma of being a ‘pro Gadhaffi’ town. The entire town- to the last man, woman and child- have fled. The new rulers- they have painted over all the signs going to the town- they have destroyed the homes and tore down the infrastructure- yes- the city is now a Ghost Town.
One witness said- when the rebels came in [the guys we support] if even 1 bullet was shot from a house- they would bomb the whole house to the ground. Men- Women- children- killed them all. We made this happen- under a ‘mandate’ to create a NO FLY ZONE in order to protect civilians.
The lives of these people are over. No more home town- no more university [the actual building is gone!] no more going out for a night on the town [the town is gone!] and we in the west- we report on our news- how wonderful it was that we liberated these people- yeah- tell that to the man who had to dig his son out from the rubble.
I had a drive planned for a few weeks. I had a note written on my calendar- had to go to a downtown appointment [at the Federal Courthouse] and figured I would make a sort of prayer drive right after the app.
Downtown Corpus is beautiful- if you have never seen a picture of it- just Google ‘pictures of Corpus Christi’ and you’ll see the huge harbor bridge from downtown- the courthouse is right there.
So after the meeting- I headed over the bridge and started the prayer drive.
At the top of the bridge there were a few cop cars- they had a lane on each side blocked [?]. I figured they were doing some type of work on it.
Then headed towards Portland- and drove thru a few South Texas cities.
I actually had one specific spot I wanted to drive past- that was the city of Rockport. I actually got off on the wrong back road- and drove about 30 miles out of the way. But I wanted to drive past the courthouse and police station in Rockport- that was the only spot I determined to pass.
Sure enough- I found the spot. Got out- walked to the store- filled up with gas- got some coffee- and off I went.
On the way back home- I noticed a street name- called ‘Corpus Christi St’. - I thought it was strange to see this big sign- right off the highway- showing this street.
I thought ‘for sure- people must mistake the sign- and think that’s the turn off for the city of C.C.’.
Anyway- I made a mental note of it- and headed back.
Over the Harbor bridge one more time- and back to the house.
As I watched the local news- they had 2 top stories. The night before- a man parked his car on the bridge and jumped- that’s why they blocked the lane.
And earlier in the day- a motorcyclist was killed- right at the corner of Corpus Christi Street and highway 35- the spot I had just passed.
Now- you might be thinking ‘hey John- do me a favor- don’t pray for me!’ Actually- I think I was praying for the areas where violence occurred- because there is always an aftermath- a sort of ‘bad taste’ in your mouth when deaths happen like that.
Okay- the next day [yesterday] we had a local story go viral- the national news all had it on- today it’s a big story.
It’s the case of the Texas judge who was taped beating the hell out of his daughter- she posted it to U-Tube.
The case looks bad- real bad. The girl will be on the news shows today- telling her story.
Yes- the police station- the courthouse- the area I ‘marked’ during the drive- that was the actual municipal area where this guy holds court- it was the Aransas county court district- in Rockport.
Sometimes God will show us what/who we should pray for- sometimes it’s the aftermath of bad things- a Mediterranean city in Libya- or a coastal city in Texas.
We need to be attentive- and aware- when these things ‘pop’ into our minds.
We need to be accountable in a way- when a country in the bible allowed itself to do bad things- to overlook justice- or to oppress people [even if they meant well- ‘we are here to protect you’ as you destroy the man’s life] then we as believers have a responsibility to do what we can- to at least be aware of what we are doing- and if you can- pray for these situations.
In the bible- during the trial of Jesus- there were many injustices that took place- power players making decisions- executing people- yes- innocent people- simply because of the prejudice that existed in the system.
Jesus made a strange statement about this- he said ‘if this can happen in a Green tree- what do you think will happen in a Dry one?’
This statement meant- if people in authority- judges and leaders- if during a time of some stable government- if they can still play the system where they might wind up killing innocent people- bombing entire towns- doing bad stuff- and yet the average citizen- he even thinks this is good- if the system can be played to that degree during a time of peace and some form of human govt. at work- then what do you think will happen when there is anarchy?
Last night- the Occupy protestors shut down a shipping port in Oakland- I’m not sure what overall effect it will have- but yes- it will disrupt lives to a degree.
Many of the business people- who have shops right around the protests- well many of them are suffering- because of the disruption.
I’m not sure how ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ they are- there are legitimate arguments to be made on both sides.
But I know in the mind of that university professor- who lost his entire life- and his son- I know in his mind what we did to his country is unjust- ‘if these things can happen in a Green tree- Then just wait till the Dry tree gets here’.
 Philosophy and Politics.
This last week the media circus has centered around the Herman Cain ‘sex scandal’. Yes- it does seem like good old brother Herman [Christian ‘brother’ to you racially sensitive types] has a little problem with the ladies.
Yes- I have heard both sides on the thing- the conservatives [Limbaugh] have used Cain as an example of how the ‘left’ castigates Black conservatives- while they cover up for liberal ones.
And the left wing media types- well they sure do like to go thru every detail of the Repub candidates lives [no- the sex harassment issue is a real issue- I’m talking about all the other stuff]. It’s funny [sad?] to see some of the commentary on how Cain’s ‘worst’ mistake was in the way he handled it- that it was his mishandling of the scandal that worries folk.
Look- I like good old Bill Clinton- and for those who remember- Bill also had quite a few dalliances with the ladies. Paula Jones even sued Bill- And won!
Yes- the pres settled for 800 thousand and paid the girl. How did Clinton deal with his sex scandals? Those who say ‘see- Bill knew how to deal with them’ they seem to forget that his defenders- they ridiculed all the women- Kathleen Wiley [he groped her]- Jones- well- he pulled an Antony Weiner one day when Jones walked into the office- and oh yeah- lest we forget [well- actually I do forget the name] one woman had some very credible claims that Clinton did indeed rape her.
And of course- he ‘received’ oral sex from Monica in the oval office- and all these women were described as ‘off balance’ or greedy women seeking a pay day- or these women ‘asked for it’. Yes- this was the way the Clinton defenders went about it- yet these same media savvy folk [Carville] are saying ‘Clinton knew how to deal with scandal- Cain does not’.
Would they be happy if Cain’s people went after all the women? Not only have they not revealed the name of the lady who got a settlement but they have been pretty silent about all the women.
Not Clintons people- you know- the ones who handled it ‘right’ oh yeah- they had his ladies looking like a bunch of trailer park bimbo air heads- even a young intern- who worked for the govt.- even she was demonized at first- for engaging in an act that would have called for the firing of any CEO who was caught doing this with any young female staffer- yet in his case- the women were all at fault.
So it’s just a sad thing to see this play out. Do I think Cain ‘did it’ of course he did!
‘How do you know John’- one statement- from Cain himself. He was asked by Hannity ‘did you ask this girl to come to your hotel room’ his answer ‘I don’t recall’ yeah- if someone says ‘did you string up that Black man in the south 40 years ago’ and if you say ‘I don’t recall’ well that’s a problem.
Okay- enough of that.
I really want to cover a little bit more on the few Philosophy posts we did last month.
If you remember we stopped at the 4th-5th century B.C. and we left off with Aristotle. Now- Aristotle [and Plato and Socrates] ruled the day for hundreds of years- most Western thinkers were shaped by their ideas.
So for that reason- lets skip about 800 years forward- to the time of Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the 4th/5th century [A.D.]. When studying Philosophy you will study this man. But you run into him in the fields of Theology and church history as well- he’s considered by many to be the ‘best’ theologian of the 1st thousand years of Christianity- and to some- the best ever.
I have covered Augustine before- so let’s go light right now and hit a few high points.
Augustine had early influences that led him to the philosophy of ‘Neo Platonism’ [an offshoot of Plato’s thought] and he dabbled [well more than dabbled] in a sort of early metaphysical cult called Manichaeism [like a 3rd century type of Christian Science- the movement in our day].
As Augustine carried out his traveling teaching ministry [he was a teacher who was skilled in Rhetoric- and these traveling teachers would charge for their services] he eventually converted to Christianity [the Catholic Bishop Ambrose played a major role in Augustine’s conversion] and became the Bishop of Hippo- North Africa.
Augustine came to defend the Christian world view against his former belief in Neo Platonism. Platonism taught a Pantheistic view of God and creation. This view teaches that God and creation are one in the same. Many eastern religions still hold to this view in our day.
Augustine argued that God was the creator of all things- but that he himself was not created- or a part of the created world.
He developed a very sound theology on creation- which most Christian traditions hold to this very day.
He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas.
Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell.
There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works.
Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter.
The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’.
The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks.
Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted.
Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.]
He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well.
The Catholic Church refers to him as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor.
Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day.
When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones.
Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking progressed more and more towards historic Christian thought.
For those of you who are interested- the Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered one the classics of Christianity- you can pick up a short version at most good bookstores- it’s well worth the time to read.
 Where’s the oil?
Let’s cover a parable of Jesus. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of the 10 virgins who went to meet the bridegroom. 5 were wise- 5 were foolish. The wise ones took containers of oil with their lamps. The foolish ones took lamps- but no oil.
All the virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to return [Jesus] and as the wait went long- they all fell asleep.
Then at midnight the bridegroom came back- and they all awoke. The virgins who took no oil asked the ones who had oil ‘can you give us some’ they were told ‘no- but you go buy some too- like we did’ and as they went to buy- the bridegroom took the ones who were ready- they went into the feast and the door was shut.
The ‘no oil’ crowd missed out.
Okay- what does this mean? Well- if you have lamps at the house you need to…- Well maybe there’s a little more to it than that.
When we read the parables of Jesus- the most important thing [in my view] needed to understand them is the context. I have heard many good teachings over the years- on all the parables- and lot of times the preachers/Christians ‘place’ them in the context of ‘current church’.
Maybe the parable of the sower- they’ll struggle with ‘okay- is this group ‘saved’ or what about these who endure to the end’. While of course it is true that we can apply the parables to modern life- most of the times when we approach them with the mindset that Jesus is speaking specifically about ‘your church’ or church group- well then I think we miss the main meaning.
Having said all that- I think I will ‘apply’ this one to some current events of the day. But first- Jesus is basically telling his audience- the Jewish nation- that many people will think they are ready for his return and they will find out- too late- that they were not really ready- no oil.
As a ‘teacher’ who likes to teach all Christians- Catholic, Protestant- etc. What I try to do is present both sides of the issue. I also strive to teach from ‘a storehouse’ of oil- I make an attempt to be familiar with the current trends in Theology- hear/read what the scholars are saying- and to also have a background on the history of the various churches.
Then- when doing the teaching- I try to be honest- and fair. If I have a particular point of view- or a way I think the text should be taught- or what the ‘right’ doctrine is- I will share it from that point of view.
But it would also be unfair to use the years of study- and then ‘blast’ another denominations adherents- fully realizing that the average church attendee probably does not have the same background info that I’m familiar with.
So it’s important to teach from ‘a storehouse’ while at the same time not using the storehouse to simply prove your point.
Okay- Over the years I have bought tons of books- and as time went by- I had to eventually make room for this collection. Though I have a huge wall in my study just for books- yet I still ran out of room. So one day I packed up all the ‘less valuable’ books- and off they went to the half price book store.
I kind of reminisced as I went thru the process of ‘should I dump this one’ or should I hold on to it. A lot of the titles were silly- things like ‘when your money system fails’ or stuff like the mark of the beast- or more practical titles like ‘flying higher’ or ‘improve your serve’.
All well meaning books/authors- who for whatever reason woke up one day- had a ‘thought’ and off to the printing press they went.
Okay- storehouse? No. Well meaning? Yes. But a storehouse [operating out of years of good learning] no.
Now- I don’t want to be too mean here- there are times where a book- or teaching that is simple can speak to people. Jesus parables were indeed short stories that were simple- people could remember them- not like a long theological treatise from the great apostle Paul [Romans] where you learn from hard study- but Jesus style was indeed short- and sweet.
Plus- it’s easy to remember the moral of the story- without banging your head up against some heavy doctrine.
Yet- heavy doctrine plays its role as well.
Now- most contemporary teaching- like going to church on Sunday-most of it today springs from this ‘I’ll take my lamp and I will see what we got for this week’. You know- you wake up on Monday- kind of go thru the week [talking pastors here- which I did myself for a few years] and you ‘come up’ with something for Sunday.
Sometimes you come up with something good- sometimes not so good. Often times you’re simply going from week to week- sort of like my bookshelf- listening/reading stuff- well meaning stuff- but just stuff.
I mean an entire book on ‘flying higher’. Yeah- I still remember it. A well meaning pastor- but the whole book was based on how one day a friend told him about how pilots use a certain technique when they fly- and Walla- a book!
Or another title form a very famous preacher of the day- ‘how I lost 30 pounds’ [I think it was 30? But who really cares!]
Say if you went to college- and as you arrived at the class- your professor said ‘okay- this week we will cover [math- or whatever subject]’ and he went on and taught an entire lesson from some sign he saw while driving to the school [you know- a literal sign that said ‘2 plus 2 is 4’].
You would think to yourself ‘geez- at this rate- I will never really get an education’ and you would be right.
So why do believers think its okay to learn the faith like this?
The bible commands us to be childlike in faith- that is to be like a child when approaching God- as our Father. But the bible also says to be mature when it comes to our understanding ‘in understanding be men’ [Apostle Paul].
Wherever you are at today on your journey- I want to encourage you to ‘clean out the book shelf’ don’t live with a ‘lamp only’ mentality- that is you show up at the party with a lamp [some gift/tool that might be a good tool- like writing a book- or preaching a sermon] but a lamp is only effective if it comes with a container- a container that has some oil to ‘back it up’.
I fear that too many of us are showing up at the party- we have waited a long time for the groom to come back- and we realize too late that we spent a whole lot of time perfecting our ‘lamp skills’ and the important stuff [oil] is missing.
 I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE ‘WORD TALKERS’
Caught the debate last night- didn’t go to well for my gov. I mean I still thought he had a fighting chance- not any more. I mean even Cain started looking good compared to Perry.
When Perry could not remember the 3rd govt. dept. that he wanted to shut down- that was it. Even Ron Paul tried to throw him a lifeline ‘the E.P.A.’ Yeah- that’s the one! I even guessed ‘maybe he means the energy dept.’ [you know- that’s always been kind of a joke- like having a ‘sky dept.’].
Sure enough- the next time Perry ‘spoke’ that was the one.
I read a Conan joke the other day- he was mocking Perry because he was going to start skipping the debates- he said Perry’s excuse was he was not a skilled debater- you know- he wasn’t one of those ‘word talkers’ yeah- guess he’s right.
I went thru a few news articles the other day- when I read the papers during the week I cut the articles out that I think are important- and then in the morning before I post I’ll look them over to see what looks relevant.
Out of the 2 I saved- one was on a possible looming crisis in Italy. Sure enough- yesterday everything hit the fan.
The reason the stocks took a big hit was out of fear that the European debt crisis might spread to Italy. Italy has a big economy- not like Greece. The main reason Greece was important- was that many observers feared that if Greece went bankrupt- that the ‘contagion’ might spread to the other Euro Zone nations- like Italy- and that would be bad- very bad.
Well- that looks like what might be happening. Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio is 144 %- not good. Italy is at around 120%- not as bad- but still not good. This coming year they have about half a trillion dollars coming to maturity [bonds they must pay out on] and they owe 2.6 trillion [not like our 14 trillion- but for the size of their nation- it’s a lot].
So the interest rate just went up for Italy- it will now cost more for them to borrow- and when you’re paying a little over 7 % on 2.6 trillion- well that hurts.
Italian bonds are not like Greek bonds- Italian bonds are in all of the big banks that we are familiar with- many of our investments are in the same banks that hold Italian debt- so if Italy goes bust- that’s a huge problem- that will indeed drag the U.S. down.
I mean Greece already seems to be a lost cause- even their own people are pulling all their money out of the Greek banks and putting it in Swiss banks. Geez- if your own citizens don’t trust you- forget the other nations bailing you out.
I find it funny [sad] that a few weeks ago- Fahreed Zakariah [a CNN guy] was mocking the Tea Party crowd- because he said that the Europeans were handling their debt crisis well- like adults- and that even the Europeans were saying ‘geez- cant you be mature like us- you stupid Tea party Repubs’!
He said it in the same mocking way that Martin Bashir [I think they are both Brits? I know they of course are both foreigners] made an on air accusation the other day. I mean- it was bad. Bashir said a certain Repub referred to injured Iraqi war vets as injured ‘dogs’.
Now- for the life of me- I could not imagine this charge to be true. Then I heard the rest of the story. Some Repub said the occupy protestors were leaving a huge mess at the camps- ‘like dogs’.
And Bashir applied this to the Iraqi war vet. who was hit with a gas canister in Oakland- so yes- this Iraq war vet was a wounded protestor. But to then go on national TV and say that Repubs are referring to wounded Iraqi war vets as wounded dogs- I think this network [MSNBC] is very dangerous for the country.
We need to hear both sides of all arguments- but this stuff is incendiary.
Being I already mentioned Italy- let me finish with some history/philosophy that might be relevant.
In the last post I mentioned saint Thomas Aquinas- and after Augustine [and Anselm- 11th century] he is the next main character I wanted to cover [in our ongoing philosophy study].
Aquinas is referred to as the Doctor Angelicas [angelic doctor] by the catholic church. Aquinas lived during the time of a cultural/philosophical reawakening that was beginning to take place in the Western world- the Renaissance.
Renaissance means ‘re-birth’. It was a rebirth of the ancient Poets and philosophers of days gone by. Men like Cicero and Aristotle were once again brought to the fore front of many thinkers and lovers of culture.
The catch phrase for the Renaissance was Ad Fontes- which meant ‘back to the sources’ [source- Fountain- Fontes]. In the 14th century a famous and influential Catholic family- the Medici’s- were a catalyst for mixing this cultural movement in with the church.
The Renaissance sort of challenged the historic view of education- up until this time most learning was done thru the prism of the church. In the universities of the day Theology [study of God] was called the Queen of the sciences- and philosophy was referred to as her Handmaiden.
Well the Renaissance thinkers said they wanted to study things for what they are- they did not want to see everything thru the lens of the church.
Eventually the theme of the movement [back to the original sources] would play a major role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Men like Erasmus [the famous 16th century Catholic Humanist] would re discover the original Greek New testament- and it was thru the study of the Greek text that many of the Reformers made their case to get ‘back to the bible’ and eventually break from Rome.
This was also the beginning period of modern capitalism. Recently when Libya had her ‘civil war’ and the new leaders started talking about a new constitution- one of the interesting things that came up was they wanted to do away with interest on loans.
Why? Well Muslims teach that interest itself is a bad thing. ‘Gee- wonder where they get that idea from John’ Oh- from a little book- called the bible.
Yes- to the surprise of some- this is very much taught in the Old Testament. Now- it was God’s law governing the nation of Israel- but they were forbidden to charge interest.
‘So John- is it wrong for us today to make interest’? Not really- Jesus used interest [usury] as an example in some of his parables- and overall- we as believers are not under the Old Testament laws that govern natural Israel.
But- for many centuries- the world did not see interest on money as a legitimate way to earn a living. So during the Renaissance you also had the rise of exploration- and explorers like Columbus would go on their voyages with the financial backing of investors.
The normal rate for these voyages was a 75/25% cut. When the explorer returned- the investor [Spain- or whoever] got 75% of the goods- and the explorer kept 25.
So there were a lot of changes taking place in the world at the time- and the rise of modern capitalism was one of them- money of course existed way before this time- but as a commodity- this was a new way of viewing the world.
Okay- just thought I would throw in a little history along with the current events of the day. As we see the current turmoil in the Italian markets [the original renaissance started in Florence- Italy] maybe seeing money/interest as a commodity- and ‘usury’ as a major way to increase ones wealth- well maybe that’s not such a smart way to do things after all.
When Jon Corzine's global investment firm went bust the other day- it was a direct result of taking a gamble on the ‘gullibility’ of the common man.
What his firm did was they took a huge risk by investing in European bonds- bonds from Greece that everyone knew was a terrible 'bet’. Then why did he do it?
The risk was so high- that the interest [usury] on the bonds was also high- you would make lots of money- if you got your money back.
But how would you get the money back- if the company [or nation- or bank] is in such bad shape that they might go bust? Your basically betting that the other nations around them [and the 1% crowd] would never let this happen [too big to fail] and when the nation [or company] gets ‘bailed out’ well then you get the money back- at a huge gain- all at the expense of the ‘99’ %.
‘Gee John- that doesn’t seem right to me’. That doesn’t seem right to me either- and to the legitimate ‘occupy Wall st. guys’ that’s not right to them as well.
Basically Corzine did the exact same thing that the big banks did during our 2008 bail out crisis- the banks can’t do that anymore- we did pass regulations that forbid this. But private investment firms can- they take a risk if they do- but that’s their choice.
Corzine took the risk- and lost [besides the fact the there is also about 600 million dollars ‘missing’ from private investors money!].
Okay- that’s it for now. We will keep an eye on Italy for the next few days [Germany is already talking about bailing out of the Euro Zone] and if things keep going downhill like this- well we might all be better off if we moved our money into less interest bearing accounts- safe places to ‘park’ your money- and after the dust settles- then maybe get back into the market.
But right now- I would trust getting a bigger return from a Columbus voyage than the market- yes- maybe ‘usury’ is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be- maybe the Libyans are right [and the Old Testament]. Yeah- maybe they know something we don’t.
 2ND MILE
This week most of us have been re introduced to this phrase- in a bad way. It’s the name of the nonprofit ministry that Jerry Sandusky started to help children.
We now think that he used it in a way to groom kids [that’s the accusation].
Where does the term come from? We find it in the Sermon on the Mount- yes- it’s a famous phrase from the lips of Christ.
In Matt. Chap. 5 Jesus says ‘if you are forced to go one mile- go 2 instead’. We use this term a lot in our day- like many other terms- we don’t realize that they are from the bible.
What was Jesus teaching us from this little verse? Actually- he simply said ‘do more than what’s required’. But I like to take it a little further.
In the time of Jesus the Roman soldiers had this special privilege- you know- the 1% versus the 99. If a soldier was walking thru town- under Roman law- he could require you to carry his pack- 1 mile.
Now- the people of Jesus day- they were very much like the 99% ‘hell- who are you to shove your rules on us!’ So they devised this plan- where you had these mile markers all over town. And when the ‘man’ made you carry the pack- heck- they dropped it right at the mile marker ‘screw you corporate S.O.B.’s!’
Now- Jesus tells his people ‘once you hit the mile mark- do a second one’. What? Are you kidding me Jesus- don’t you realize how Rome has treated us- they are bad people Jesus- they think they can tell us what to do.
In the short teachings of Jesus- there are lots of deep truths- often you need to spend some time thinking about them before you come up with the ‘rest of the story’.
One of the main things in Christ’s teachings is the theme of the 2nd covenant- the covenant of grace that is founded on the Cross.
In the first recorded miracle- the marriage at Cana- where Jesus turns the water into wine- at the end of the party they say ‘wow- most people put out the good wine first- but you have saved the best for last’.
This was Jesus way of saying the 2nd covenant- the grace of the Cross- is better than the first covenant- which was the law.
Now- in the 2nd mile- what happened? The guy carrying the soldier’s pack- he still lived up to all the requirements of the law- and more- but after he hit the 2nd mile- a strange thing happened.
All of a sudden he’s now in charge. I mean the soldier [law] is still there [Jesus never did away with the requirement to obey Gods law] but the law [soldier] was no longer a compelling figure- a ruler who ruled with a rod of iron. No- in the 2nd mile you are obeying- carrying the pack- because you want to- it’s part of your new nature.
Yeah- in the 2nd mile- you’re drunk on the ‘new wine’.
I find it ironic that one of the main criticisms of the way Penn state has handled this whole sad story- is that they [Paterno and the school] never went ‘the 2nd mile’ in dealing with the accusations against one of their won.
Paterno and others fulfilled the actual requirement under state law- they reported the thing to their superiors- yet they were not required to go to the police- and they didn’t.
That’s the charge against them today ‘you should have gone that 2nd mile’.
It is a problem the state will need to fix- and the fallout is sad- though I’m not a college football fan- yet Paterno was/is a legend- and it is sad for him to end like this.
Sometimes we live in a sort of Bizarro world- we see things on the tube and depending on which news show you’re watching- you get another completely different spin on the thing.
Yesterday evening Bloomberg [Mayor of N.Y.] had the cops raid the camps in Zucotti Park. As I watched the talking heads give their spin- on the liberal channels- well they made it sound like the days of Bull Conner.
The protestors set up their own little ‘Library’ in the street. They had a tent with thousands of books- okay- I thought it looked cool to be honest. They even had a system where people could check out the books.
So Bloomberg’s ‘squad’ took all the books. MSNBC [and Gores channel- current TV] had the ‘librarians’ on. Yes- the guy who ran the book tent. But they made it sound like the cops raided a real library ‘they came in and took our books- without checking them out!’ and one guy said ‘plus- they took our computers- we don’t lend the computers out!’
Look- I feel for the guys- but if you set up a ‘library’ in the middle of town- outside- well your not really a library- and if you live in the street with the books- well you’re not a librarian!
Okay- don’t want to be mean- just realistic.
Okay- Jerry Sandusky seems to have done some really bad things- and if all these accusations are true- well he will go to jail for the rest of his life. And like Paterno said the night the students showed up at this house to support him- he said they are going to pray for the kids and families.
I don’t know if Sandusky started his program to simply groom kids to molest them- if he did- then he will pay. But the principle- going the 2nd mile- it comes from Jesus- and he taught us that when we are in grace- in the ‘2nd mile’ we will do our duty- and more.
Not because ‘we have to’ but because we want to. Yeah- the 2nd mile is a good thing- we should all try it someday.
 IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
A few months back I caught a good movie- In the Valley of Elah [you know- one of those titles that makes no sense!]. But overall the movie was good.
It starred Tommy Lee Jones [Gore’s old roommate] and it was on Gore’s Liberal channel- Current TV.
The movie was about an Iraqi soldier who survived the war but was killed in mysterious circumstances when he came back to be stationed in the states.
I won’t blow the ending- but it took some twists and turns and the final scene is quite offensive [nothing dirty- but if you watch- you’ll see what I mean].
Anyway- don’t know why I went there.
Okay- lets finish the week with one more teaching from Jesus. The last few days I focused a little on the main idea of the New Covenant versus the Old law. Basically- we as believers are saved- accepted with God- not because we try to keep the law- [Old Covenant] but because Christ died for us and rose again [New Covenant].
In Jesus short teachings- he hits on this a lot.
In Marks gospel- chapter 2- Jesus gives us a few examples. He says no one takes ‘New Wine’ and puts it into Old Bottles [New covenant won’t fit with a legalistic mindset]. And no one takes a new piece of cloth and uses it to patch up the old.
Then we see another one of those examples where Jesus is confronted by the religious crowd [Pharisees] and once again he wins the day [he always does!].
He’s walking with the disciples and as they go thru the fields they pick some corn [grain] and eat it. Got ya! It was the Sabbath day- and the religious leaders jumped all over him ‘why are your guys breaking the rules!’
‘The rules’ were the Old laws that said you couldn’t ‘work’ on the Sabbath. Okay- could you pick some corn and eat on the Sabbath? Sure. But these guys were the type that were super picky about everything- always looking to ‘catch you’. So they ‘caught Jesus’ [they thought] and waited for the response.
Now- Jesus tells them ‘don’t you guys read your bibles! Haven’t you ever read the story in the bible when King David was on the run from King Saul and he ate the holy bread that was only for the priests’?
This story is found in 1st Samuel chapter 21. David [not king yet] is fleeing from Saul and he stops at ‘the house of God’ and tells the priest ‘I’m on a secret mission from Saul- we left fast- we have no food or even weapons- can you give a guy a hand’. Now- David- like a good Christian- is making the whole thing up!
The priest kinda thinks something’s up- but he takes the bait and tells David ‘all I have is the holy bread- but that’s only for the priests’. So he takes the bread and he and his men eat it.
Jesus says ‘see- David ‘broke the law’ [ceremonial rule] and he was still doing God’s will’. Ah- Jesus sure knew how to shut those Pharisees up.
I have taught this before- and there really is a lot of significant things to cover in this teaching- for now- understand that what David did here [and later] was indeed something only priests could do.
And in the Old Testament when kings ‘acted’ like priests- they got in trouble! But David does a lot of things that priest’s do- and gets away with it. Later in the life of David he will set up what’s called The Tabernacle of David- and he will put on a Linen Ephod [priests garment] and indeed act like a priest.
All this points to the reality that King David was a type/symbol of Christ- who too is a priest and king.
And Jesus comes from the earthly genealogy of King David.
So- in a way- when he uses this example to refute the Pharisees- he is saying ‘I’m the new David- and just like King David and his men had priestly/royal privileges- so too me and my men share the same grace’.
This teaching is pretty good to be honest- but that’s not today’s point.
Oh- one more thing. As David is leaving- he asks the priest ‘do you have any weapons for us- we left so fast on this special assignment we didn’t have time to take our weapons’. Man- the way these guys lied in the bible- they make Cain and Sandusky look like altar boys!
The priest says ‘gee Dave- all I have here is the sword you killed the giant with- remember?’ Ah- the good old days.
Sure David remembers- we all do. When David was just a kid- he went out one day and did a ‘mans’ job. The giant Goliath was challenging the children of Israel day after day ‘hey you guys- don’t you have a warrior who can take me on- what- you all chicken’?
Man- day after day he made the challenge- and no one had the guts to take him up on the offer.
So little David hears the challenge and says ‘who is this guy to talk like that- I’ll kill him like a killed the bear [or lion? I forget off hand like this!] When I was protecting the sheep’.
And King Saul says ‘what the heck- go for it kid’. Well- David goes out and you know the rest of the story- he hits Goliath in the head with a stone from his sling- and walks up to him and takes his sword and pulls a Taliban move- the head comes off.
So- this is the sword the priest still has as a famous relic- everyone knew about the exploits of David.
Oh yea- the priest says ‘David- here’s the sword- the one you used to kill the giant- in the VALLEY OF ELAH’.
Yeah- the day we sent kids out because the men were too irresponsible to act like men- yeah- the Valley of Elah- guess it had a meaning after all.
 News and Philosophy
I want to try and cover a few subjects today- let’s start with some current world news. Yesterday I read an AP story about some cops who poured gas on the tents of the protestors- they then set them on fire.
13 protestors died- 100’s were burned severely. The doctors set up outside E.R. areas to treat the wounded. The cops walked in to the areas and shot people- right there.
I read a report where one of the doctors said he was shocked- he has never seen this happen before.
‘Now John- you shouldn’t make stuff up like this- even for a point!’
I’m not making it up- this did happen the past 2 days- in Zuccotti Park? In Oakland? No- in Tahrir square- Egypt.
The people who did this- the ruling military generals- are the people we ‘put’ in charge- by demanding the ouster of Mubarak- the former ‘king’.
Let’s head directly west on this northern tip of the African continent. Libya.
On the same news page- they had a story about the capture of Seif- Gadhaffi’s most famous son. They caught him trying to cross the Libyan border into Niger. The same place Gadhaffi’s wife fled to earlier in the conflict.
His wife was about 7 months pregnant and she fled to save her unborn child. The ‘new leaders’ that have our support- they wanted her back in Libya- to stand ‘trial’ for crimes against humanity [they would have killed her!].
So the other day they caught the son. The rebel faction that caught him will not turn him over to the ‘transitional government’ in Tripoli [the capitol] because they want to try him themselves [there is absolutely no order in Libya].
Now- the son- like the dad- has been indicted on ‘crimes against humanity’ by the world Court in The Hague.
These ‘indictments’ are tools the U.S. and other NATO allies use to justify going after one bad guy [and his wife and kids] while installing other bad guys- who are often just as bad- or actually worse!
So this puppet court has the kid indicted. The puppet govt. in the capitol of Tripoli has said ‘the world court is a secondary court- we do not recognize you’!
So the actual leaders- THE ONES WE BACKED- are saying ‘screw you world court- we will try the kid ourselves’. And the faction that caught the kid is saying ‘screw you leaders in Tripoli- we will try him here- in our region’ and the U.S. [and Fahreed Zakariah- a CNN talking head] have said ‘look how wonderful Obama has handled Libya and Egypt- not like Bush’.
Wonderful? Burning protestors to death- ruling Libya like some back water Mexican drug cartel? This thing is sad- and our involvement in it is even sadder.
Okay- let’s try and transition a bit.
In the last Philosophy post I hit on the 10th-14th century development of modern thought- today I want to jump into the 16th-18th centuries. Like I said in a previous post- after the Renaissance and the Reformation and the great scientific revolution- you had the world in somewhat of a tailspin.
What I mean is for hundreds of years people trusted in the old institutions [like the Catholic Church] to tell them what was true or false- then with the development of all these modern movements people began questioning stuff.
Was it good to question things? Sure. But some challenged the very foundations of thought and knowing [called Epistemology] and went a bit too far.
Some thinkers went back to the thought of Plato [400 years BC] and said that the mind is the main source of all knowledge- these were the 17th century Rationalists.
Rationalism- as a philosophy- was an outgrowth of all the great strides that man was making in all these other areas of life. The Scientific Revolution totally challenged the age old beliefs of many in the church.
Math became a sort of new ‘god’. How so? As science invented the Microscope and Telescope- man was able for the first time to peer deeply into the heavens- and to see deeply into the microscopic world.
As the great minds [Copernicus] showed us that the Universe was different than what we thought [Heliocentric versus Geocentric] man was able to do mathematical calculations and to say that a specific planet or star [or Comet] would show up at an exact date- or spot- and Walla- it would happen [you could look thru the Telescope and sure enough the math was right- the object that was calculated to be there- was.]
These calculations were mathematical formulas- so math began to be seen as the new religion in many ways.
There are even some thinkers in the modern day that still say the only ‘real truth’ that exists is mathematical formulas. Yeah- one guy wrote an entire book on the subject- the problem? Well- his book was not written in math- but words.
Yes- even the extreme deniers of Objective truth do make mistakes.
Now- what’s wrong with rationalism? Of course being rational is okay- but the philosophy itself denied real Objective truth. Truth that corresponds to some other ‘outside’ reality.
This form of thinking [rejecting outside reality] is called Relativism/Subjectivism. While there is some truth to all the various fields of thought- yet extreme Relativism denies ‘reality’ as most of us understand the term. There was a strong resistance to the 17th century rationalists- we call this Philosophy Empiricism.
The main thinker in this field was John Locke. Locke lived most of his life in the 17th century- but his thought laid the foundation for the 18th century Empiricist.
This philosophy says that the mind does indeed play a major role in the knowledge of things- but this knowledge does not originate in the mind [Plato] but in the ‘thing’ itself [Aristotle- remember when we covered these men? Plato was an idealist- Ideas were more real than matter. Aristotle was a Realist- closer to the thought of Locke].
Locke developed a theory called the Correspondence theory- that truth that the Mind discovers corresponds to real things that actually exist apart from the mind.
Locke was a practicing doctor- and most of the other thinkers of the day had room to speculate about reality in a way that Locke could not.
He lived in a real world with real patients who had real symptoms- in a nutshell Locke had to diagnose his patients based on his findings- he could not deny that there was a real problem- he had to have his ‘feet on the ground’ [based in reality] while engaging with his head up high.
Okay- I think we’ll end with this. Maybe you can go back and read some of my previous posts on this subject- just to become a little more familiar with it.
As Christians- we are not ‘required’ to know Philosophy- or current events- or science- but it helps us engage the culture when we do educate ourselves in these areas.
Go slow in learning [not too slow!] and try and see how the Christian Worldview agrees with- or rejects certain aspects of these different felids of thought.
Most Christians would reject Rationalism as a Philosophy- because it denies real objective truth- it says truth is relative- whatever the mind can conceive- or think- can be defined as truth [Unicorns?]
Biblical truth is based on real historic events- 1st Corinthians chapter 15 says that if we deny the physical resurrection of Christ- a real event- then our faith is in vain.
Christians base their faith on a real historic event- not simply on a belief system.
 COMMUNITY CHEST
Okay- we have come off of a pretty hectic week- the market shook and raddled last week. About midweek I was ready to do a Mea Culpa [sort of]. I mean financial advice is like talking religion and politics- once you state your claim- it’s very hard to admit you might have gotten it wrong.
But last week I watched the Kudlow Report for a few minutes while channel surfing- and to my surprise he was talking the economy [and market] up.
Kudlow is usually a straight shooter- and he was saying the 4th quarter [last 3 months of U.S. economic numbers] might see a 3.5 or maybe even 4 % rise.
For the life of me- I thought he was wrong- but he does know more than me- so I was gonna do the Mea Culpa. Then [I think the next day?] those wonderful Euro Zone folks decided to sell some bonds [Germany] and lo and behold- they couldn’t get enough buyers so they shut down the auction.
Yeah- for Germany- considered the ‘most stable’ of the Euro Zone crowd- for them to have had trouble like this- that’s a bad sign.
The credit rating agencies already dropped the ratings for Portugal and Hungary to Junk status.
The reports came out that showed that the world’s major banks are all preparing for a Eurozone breakup- even U.S. regulators are telling our big banks [Citigroup] to lower their risk in the Euro Zone bond funds.
So all in all- the DOW dropped 4.8% for the week- the worst one week drop in 2 months- and I didn’t have to swallow the crow after all.
Okay- then why did the market jump back up another 200 or so points yesterday?
To be honest- there really was no good reason in my view. We came off of a jump in Black Friday sales- I think they sold 16 % more than usual- which of course is always a good sign when consumers are ‘consuming’.
But why did we see the jump? Please- please- let’s not all be Lemmings [you know- following the lead guy off the cliff]. Every year companies do the ‘Black Friday’ thing- which gets its name from- well doing great deals on the Friday after Turkey day.
Why the name? Oh- maybe because they used to only do it on Friday- you think?
Now- say if ‘every day’ was a Black Friday- say if we just did Black Friday all the time- would there be a huge jump in consumer spending? Heck yeah!
So why don’t we do it all the time? Because we would all go bankrupt [the businesses] and end up being permanent Zuccotti park occupiers.
So to make it simple- the numbers were up- because they started Black Friday early- like on Thursday!
Oh- the tangled webs we weave.
Those of you who remember- a couple years back the president and congress passed some big spending deals- for consumers.
They did special tax breaks for 1st time homebuyers- they did special deals for trading in your ‘clunker’ and getting a new car [Cash for Clunkers]. They even gave you money to buy Green Appliances [energy savers- not Retro looking!].
When they did this- well of course home/car sales went up- because you were giving people ‘free money’ to buy stuff.
Now- when the numbers came in- some Dems said ‘lets just keep doing it- after all- its working’ and the Repubs shut the thing down.
What was ‘working’? Well- when you give free money out- or do Black Friday ever day- yes- the numbers will look good.
But these types of ‘numbers’ are fake numbers- their based on skewed data- I mean doing these programs every so often can help some- sure- give me a great deal on some crappy car trade in- okay- I’ll buy a car.
But what happened the next year? Both car and home sales suffered- because these deals didn’t bring ‘new money’ in- they just moved up those who were going to purchase anyway- but they made the purchase while the deal was going on- and the economy- and housing markets- well they still took the hit- it was just delayed.
Now- to the real cynical folk out there- like you guys who can’t see that Herman Cain is an innocent man! [ Fine and Sandusky Too!] yes- to you nay sayers- it might just look like some politicians would love to keep giving away THE ‘FREE MONEY’ BECAUSE IT WOULD MAKE THEIR NUMBERS LOOK BETTER FOR RE ELECTION.
And so the game goes on- it never ends.
During the years called the Intertestamental period [around 400 years B.C. to the time of Christ] the Jewish people suffered lots. During their captivities they eventually lost their Temple and wound up living in a ‘strange land’.
It was at this time that the Synagogues were invented- these ‘church buildings’ were not the temple- they had no sacrifices or other priestly ceremonies- they were literally named after a word that meant ‘House of Study’.
This word is the same word used for the Israeli legislature today- Knesset.
During the time of Christ these synagogues were places where the Jewish people captured/retained their culture- while being ruled by Rome.
In the Synagogue you had 2 ‘offering plates’. One was called The Dish- this was the offering for the poor- those who needed short term help- this went to them.
Then you had what was called The Chest. This was the ‘plate’ used for more long term type help- sort of like a welfare thing.
We also see in the writings of the New Testament that giving to the poor- helping those in need- is a very noble [and mandated!] thing.
But when we see ‘free money’ that is ‘robbing from the rich to give to the poor’ as a last resort type thing- well then we are using the principle in a wrong way.
I read one article on why the Italian debt crisis [very bad as well] was not ‘seen’ as bad as a country like France [who is on the verge of getting downgraded too- geez- if they are having so much financial trouble- maybe Sarkozy should cut back a little on all these ‘mini Bush’ military ventures?]
They said even though the Italian debt crisis is real- yet outside observers know that many Italians are well off- they have saved and invested- and if worse comes to worse- they will just tax the wealthy.
For major outside observers to be thinking this- to be hedging their bets on the private money being ‘taken’ to cover the debt- that’s bad.
That’s the same language we are now seeing in our country ‘pay your fair share- flying those corporate jets- you rich S.O.B.’s!
Yes- these are all signs of the times we are in.
I have been out of the market for many years- and those who are ‘in’ most of you lost some over this last decade- and some lost a lot.
I’m not sure what the next decade holds- but if you put some money in The Dish- or The Chest [which is where we get the term Community Chest] then I think you will have spent some money well- but if you simply see investing thru the lens of how much you will get back- then I think many of you are in for a surprise.
 HE BEING DEAD- YET SPEAKS [Hebrews chapter 11]
Okay- lets try and cover a few things today. First- should I now do the Mea Culpa? [last post]. Why did the DOW jump 500 points yesterday?
A few reasons- but the main one was that the ‘central banks’ kind of did a mini bail out of the European banks.
I use quotes for central banks- because the Federal Reserve of the U.S. usually spends the most on these Black Friday bargains given to other countries.
Sort of like when the news reports ‘10 NATO troops killed’- Yeah 9 of the 10 are usually us.
So even though there were some good economic numbers yesterday [new jobs- 200,000- housing sales up] yet the main reason for the jump was the Fed offered low interest loans to the European banks.
Now- why did this help? Or did it really Help?
Let me give a crude parable. Say if you lived on ‘Uncle Bennie’s’ block [Ben Bernanke- Fed. Chairman]. And everybody knew that uncle Benny was loaded.
Then a few houses down you have Pedro [or Mike- don’t want my Mexican buddies to get mad!] And Pedro has a drug habit- he likes the Cocaine a little too much.
Now- 2 more doors down you have the main drug dealer in town. The dealer knows that Christmas is right around the corner and he needs some money for the family- but Pedro has already sold momma’s 400 dollars worth of food stamps [or used the Lone Star card to by some meat and sold it at half price- happens every day!]
So the dealer is not sure how much stuff he should ‘purchase’ on his next trip to Mexico. I mean if Pedro has no cash- then the dealer might want to skip the monthly purchase.
But wait- uncle Benny is in the Christmas mood- and he gives Pedro some cash- sure he tells Pedro ‘you will pay me back wont you’ Oh yeah Benny- you know me.
Of course Benny will never see the cash again- but the dealer thinks ‘damn- Pedro’s got some cash- might as well make the monthly purchase’ and yeah- the DOW shot up.
Crude- sure- but the DOW- which simply represents the present mood of business- if they think that some big purchasers- like Europe- just got some cash- well like the dealer- they know that the sales will be up- even if only temporary- but the odds are that Pedro will buy the goods- not fix the roof!
So- in that sense- the market was happy. But uncle Benny really didn’t fix anything- in fact- in some people’s eyes he made it worse.
Pedro’s family thinks ‘damn Benny- Pedro was strapped for cash- we were hoping he would think things thru and turn his life around- but you just prolonged the addiction’!
So Benny really didn’t fix anything- he just gave some compulsive spenders some spending money.
So- if I were in the market right now [like at 4 a.m. as I write] I would sell as soon as it opens today- because the ‘rent is too damn high’ [remember that Black guy running for office a few months ago?]
Okay- let me get something a little spiritual in here. I have been getting with the ‘Pedro’s’ of the world these last few weeks- and the other day a funny thing happened. I was at the homeless mission where the guys show up at around lunch time- that’s where I have met most of the street guys over the years.
So as I’m sitting there with Henry- someone says ‘wow- there's Roger- I haven’t seen him in years’. I couldn’t believe my eyes- yeah- it was Roger.
Roger was/is a good friend- met him years ago when handing out some blankets and jackets to the guys on a cold night. I have known Roger for 25 years- we are good friends.
But around 3 years ago Roger got arrested [happened a lot] he was drunk- walked into the grocery store and told a cop ‘I’m gonna kill you’. Got sent to prison for that one.
So about 2 years ago Henry told me ‘John- got some bad news- Roger died in jail’. So I felt bad- lost a good friend. So- for the past 2 years I thought he went ‘home’. Now- here's where it gets interesting- this past Sunday as I was praying for the crowd- Roger pops into my mind.
Now- this has happened with friends who have died- and I have started taking it seriously- like in a way they are part of the brotherhood- some alive- others dead- but still alive with the Lord.
So when a dead buddy pops into my mind- I pray for/with him. So I kinda prayed ‘Lord- in whatever way this works- use Roger as a sort of Elder/Pastor for this old group of Corpus Christi bums’- and I left it at that.
I even wrote his name on my prayer wall- and kind of ‘ordained’ him as a spiritual brother who is in the group- though I ‘knew’ he was dead.
And it was only a day or 2 later that he showed up!
So I realized the lord was bringing him to my mind because he would be back on the streets soon. Now- as I’m still shocked at seeing Roger- you know- I yelled ‘hey Roger- I thought you were dead’. He came over and had a good talk.
And someone yells ‘wow- there’s Buck’ what? Yeah- I thought Buck died too. Been gone for around the same time- and Henry told me Buck died.
Now- as I’m sitting there- kinda laughing about the whole thing- saying ‘wow- I heard you guys died’. I am realizing that the main Obituary informer was Henry- yeah- he’s the brother that’s been feeding me the scoop.
I even told my daughter that I actually posted notes on the Blog when the guys ‘died’- sort of like little memorial things- man- that’s bad.
So I started to realize that Henry is not the most reliable news source when it comes to death notices.
And as I’m thinking this thru- I realize that Henry told me Old Vern kicked the bucket about 2 months ago. Vern ‘was’ not homeless- he was sort of a street preacher who used to help the guys. I’m now starting to wonder whether Vern is alive and well.
Yeah- Henrys a good buddy- but I fear I will run into some of the old crowd one day- and the first thing they will say is ‘wow John- we heard you died’.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 ‘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.
 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.