The Two Spies Report

The Christian "Minority Report" from J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D, Emeritus Producer of the Future Quake Radio Show, and Author of Two Masters and Two Gospels, Vol. 1: The Teaching of Jesus Vs. the "Leaven of the Pharisees" in Talk Radio and Cable News

Tag: christian

The REAL False Flag Operation, Part 4

In Part 4 of this series, we will review how an “Antifa apocalypse” hysteria wave had occurred as a precursor event a number of years ago, and how it was discovered to have come about, and who devised the scheme to exploit it. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Hydroxychloroquine and the Israeli Connection

The international storyline of the “hydroxychloroquine phenomena,” and its possible murky origins and motives before entering the world and American stage. Read the rest of this entry »

The State of the American Christian Union, Part 2 – Hannity and Fox News: Rat Poison for Christians

rat poison

In this part we will indulge in some statistics, and reflect on the significance of the affect of conservative media on the public positions of evangelical Christians, as evidenced by their tangible actions at the ballot box.

First of all, according to those who keep track, the U.S. population currently in 2018 stands at around 327.5 million.  According to exit polling of Edison Research of the 2016 Presidential election, 128,838,342 Americans voted, of which 26% were “white evangelical or born again” Christians, comprising 33,497,969 people.  Of those, 81 percent of those evangelical Christians voted for Trump, or 27,133,355 people.  Remember the scale of this number.  According to the prestigious Pew Research Center, 25.4 percent of Americans are “evangelical Christians”, which shows that evangelicals vote in same proportion as the total U.S. population, and which would make the full evangelical population total 83.2 million.  It also shows that roughly a third (32.6 percent) of all identified evangelicals vote, which would exclude the young, many of the very old, those unable to get to the polls, and the many who are too lazy or self-absorbed to bother to go.  Not only does this third of the evangelical population represent its most engaged and activist portion, which presumably listens to some news somewhere to motivate itself enough to get to the polls, but as representing an overwhelming segment that very publicly embraced Donald Trump and his values, it also presents to the outside world of skeptical unbelievers what evangelicalism is all about, on behalf of the other 74 percent of evangelicals who did not vote for him, and thus impacts all of their abilities in evangelizing and outreach.  These evangelical Trump voters also represent 21 percent of the total voting electorate, and almost 46 percent of all Trump voters, whereas only 35 percent of non-evangelicals voted for Trump; in other words, everyone recognizes that Trump is our president because of the evangelicals, as “their” candidate.

Let’s look now at the numbers of people who listen to a few conservative media outlets, which we can assume produce virtually all of the Trump votes.  First of all, a July 2018 report in Forbes of Sean Hannity’s nightly Fox News TV show reported that he was hosting almost 3.4 million viewers nightly at the time.  The August 2018 data from Talkers Magazine shows that Sean Hannity receives 13.5 million weekly unique radio listeners, Rush Limbaugh 14 million, Michael Savage 11 million,  Glenn Beck 10.5 million, Mark Levin 10 million, Laura Ingraham 8 million, and Mike Gallagher 7 million.  This data does not include the 30 million subscribers to Sirius XM, many of which listen to talk radio.  Since sometimes these shows overlap in their time periods, are on one or no radio stations in many markets, and listeners can only hear one show at a time in their limited in-car time, it is likely that the listener overlap between these individuals is very limited, meaning that many tens of millions of conservative listeners listen to these heavily-opinionated (and many extreme) worldview formers as a “captive audience” every day in their cars, with their focused attention during their 30 to 60 minute drive times each day, as well as being on the radio at work, or shuttling kids.  Those interested in such talk would primarily be those with enough interest to go out and vote – easily covering the 62 or so million Trump voters, and the 27 million evangelicals in his camp.  I routinely hear the “talking points” and terms originating from many of these shows, either sent by communications officials from the administration or ginned up themselves (sometimes forwarded back to presidential communications officials, and in Trump’s case, when he watches them in the mornings), coming verbatim from my friends, such as the “Democratic mob” memes trotted out not long ago.

In contrast as a competing source of ideological influence, that of our pulpits (local churches, not the televangelists and other Christian media), Pew Research reports that 58% of all evangelicals (48.2 million) attend some church event at least once a week in 2014 (but is quickly declining annually), which may or may not include a sermon, and if so may be a single 30 minute or less variety, in one week (I still seem to view this as a large overestimate, based upon what I have observed in our church pews, otherwise our churches would be bursting at the seams, rather than featuring a lot of empty seats, and people who attend “when they feel led to”; other reports like those by Outreach Magazine suggest those numbers are grossly over-reported, and are actually much less).  In any case, I wonder how many of those people are listening carefully in the pews, based upon their public behavior and voting, and I doubt that (with some exception) that parishioners are being exposed to as extreme and concentrated a direct political messaging operation as they get with corporate-paid talk radio.

The punchline of this data is that American Christians are getting 14 or more intense political “sermons” of extended length each week, with motives coming from unknown people with unknown agendas paying for them, except that we know they do not comprise the non-profit, unselfish views of a Bible and Christ that is not selling anything, and is promoting sacrifice, putting others before oneself, turning the other cheek, and the pursuit of reconciliation and a future kingdom driven by love, mercy and forgiveness – all items that just would not “sell” on radio or TV, and certainly not get good ratings.  With this ratio of messaging and high-dollar public relations behind it, the poor pastor and his measly half-hour weekly sermon has no chance to offset the psychological conditioning of conservative talk radio during the week, which has become the real “church” of most conservative Christians, and where they form their real world views, as dictated by advertisers and corporate sponsors.  This is a problem that I have not seen identified anywhere that I have observed, and I think that pastors and Christian leaders (those not totally “in the can” with these hard right media outlets) need to acknowledge that they have a formidable rival for the hearts and minds of active Christians, as opposed to the “godless universities”, movies and “the devil weed”.  This does not even consider the formidable influence of online political news, with The Drudge Report reporting 33 million reads daily and about one billion a month, Youtube (with five billion videos watched each day), Facebook (1.4 billion active users), Yahoo News (175 million uniquely monthly visitors), Google News (150 million), Huffington Post (110 million) – as a juggernaut which will envelop these other media, as people in younger middle age and younger rely almost exclusively on online and social media, and can listen to it 24/7.  The age of people coming to hear an oration and speaker has ended a generation ago; people now prefer the “intimacy” of a recorded voice speaking close to their ear, sometimes while they are controlling their low attention span by doing another task, and receiving much of the message thus subliminally.  

An example case in point is what you will hear conservative Christians believe about Hillary Clinton.  While I am certainly no fan of hers, rather seeing her as a Washington insider (although she paid her dues as a legal activist), I am shocked to see the degree to which normally loving Christian people I know truly despise her, but when I ask for details of specific things she has done that warrant such feelings, they are hard pressed to give specifics, rather than just “impressions”, from unknown sources.  They truly would deal with any “devil” to oppose her, as the last election testifies.  In fact, I have seen repeatedly that there was no criteria or “line drawn” where they would hesitate to support a person, if they opposed Hillary and could beat her, with their votes being merely an “anti-Hillary” vote.  When I ask which specific policies of hers that she has promised to pursue that they oppose, they are also hard pressed to give specifics.  One thing many of them seem to know: that she is a bona-fide witch who operates a pedophile ring under a Washington pizza parlor – albeit without any tangible evidence to confirm such a far-fetched yarn.  These are some of the same people – many of whom I previously thought were pretty wise – who take seriously the mythical “Q Anon” legend, much like Paul Bunyan, and fashion him into whatever Guy Fawkes-type resister they want him to be (or what influential online fearmongers suggest), while pleading ignorance that similar secretive “whistle blowers” like Guccifer 2.0 were outed as Russian operatives, and not who they suggested they were, some time ago, trying to sow general discord within the gullible American public.  My dear, normally-wise and loving Christian friends cannot seem to realize that they have been conditioned to have these irrational thoughts without vetting – which all of us online are vulnerable to – and subject to “psy ops” via the mass media in conservative talk radio.  Its similar to how the same conservative media has demonized the term “liberal” to mean the vilest of all (although the Bible says that God gives to men liberally (James 1:9), and the King James Version of those described as “liberals” (such as Isaiah 32:8) are alternatively translated at “generous” or “noble”), as well as “socialist” being another term just below “devil worshipper”, although many of our Christian brethren in Europe happily live in socialist countries, and have no desire to leave.

This phenomena of conservative media on the public, and Christian community, is certainly nothing new, and was built on earlier foundations, although it has certainly “amped up” in the last quarter century.  You could say that some of its early origins were amongst the Sanhedrin, whose high priest Caiaphas was concerned that ” If we let him [Jesus] thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” – a true priority of a conservative, to conserve the public order and status quo of power and class (John 11:48), and who made false accusations of Jesus for violating conservative “traditions” (with Jesus in turn asking them ”  Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3) – which would make him not a good, tradition-loving conservative), and who used their early mass media to give “fake news” about Jesus not only in the courtroom , but among the crowds, to make him an anti-tradition, anti-conservative who needed to be stopped.  Conservative use of the public was also common among the Romans and Greeks – where the term demagogue originated – always finding a scapegoat outsider to blame for their mismanagement and woes, or even false-flag attacks, such as the Christians blamed (as a feared minority religion, having had many lies told about them) for the fires in Nero’s Rome.  Conservative Christian leaders were used to colluding with power structures, such as Constantine in Rome, to then anathematize many of their brethren having slightly different views of disputable and mysterious theological issues, and thus eliminate rival priests and help Constantine galvanize power and use Christianity to cement and stabilize the empire and control.  They worked within the Catholic church to humble independent kings (and Popes themselves by the cardinals), and provoke the masses to crusades not only against Muslims, but even rival Christian sects.  Conservative Lutherans and Calvinists soon got in the act, while those deemed liberal, like the Quakers, were seen as pacifists and non-violent, and the object of their scorn.  Conservative, unyielding and uncompromising Christians of all stripes in Europe kept the continent in flames in religious wars, with the less fundamentalist folk caught in the crossfire.  Some Christian groups were persecuted by their fellow conservatives, like the Puritans by the Anglicans, to which they fled to the New World to do some fundamentalist persecution of their own, against Baptists and Quakers.  Conservatives justified the institution of slavery, while the liberal denominations fought it.  The Protestant sects participated in a wave of anti-Catholic, anti-Mason and anti-immigrant persecution over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while at the same time the liberal Christian groups began to address poverty and social injustice.

However, conservative media and influence came into its own in the Twentieth Century, with the development of mass media, in addition to print.  Some of the early stars, like Father Coughlin, had audiences in the millions, and focused on pro-fascist and anti-semitic positions.  Others continued in the anti-Catholic tradition.  Many took up the anti-Communist cause, and some transitioned into anti-education, anti-science, or anti-socialism.  Do you detect a trend here?  We should not forget the Klan, who by the 1920s had already compiled the basic modern conservative Christian agenda of prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments in the court room, mandatory church attendance, and the promotion of “Christian soldiers”, as fifteen percent of all men in the U.S. were members of the Klan by 1925.  One thing they did take a positive position on was money – free enterprise and capitalism, and big business, and sacredized it – leading to today’s Christian emphasis on these principles (with them being in the statements of purpose at Liberty University), helping big business in overseas missionary ventures, like Dole in Hawaii and United Fruit Company in Central America, and setting the stage for the “name it and claim it”, “prosperity gospel” and televangelists in the latter part of the century.  Alternatively, they took a hard line against Roosevelt’s “Great Society” welfare and jobs assistance for those suffering during the Great Depression, and “welfare cheats” and “deadbeats” ever since.

There ultimately became various strains of conservatism, soon after it popped up in history.  One strain stood behind tradition – in power structures and the divine right of kings, and would be known as monarchists or royalists later, and protected the widespread power of the king, and the wealthy noblemen and aristocrats supporting them, and despised democracy.  Another strain soon supported tradition in religion, and its existing power structures – not only in Rome, but also in Canterbury or Constantinople, and opposed any independent expression, or resources not centralized under the hierarchy, or attempts to fill the populace with “dangerous ideas”, such as from the Bible, which would have been seen as quite liberal and progressive, and certainly not ‘traditional”.  Another strain would be the military, comprising military members who wanted a strong military not answerable to anyone, and an adventurous foreign policy.  Yet another would be “money class”, comprising bankers and big business, based upon the earlier Knights Templar and Rothchilds templates, and typified in the City of London and later Wall Street, and arguably the most powerful segment of conservatism, with its wealth buying and controlling its rival segments, and with an argument that it strongly influences the CIA, and Goldman Sachs and hedge fund managers now the most important elements.  Beyond these, we have the “fringe” elements, which can be influential at times, and often comprise hybrids of these established groups, like the John Birch Society, founded in 1958 as an anti-Communism movement often seen as a conspiracy-theory group that distrusts all global entanglements, and now sees a secret Illuminati cartel or cabal even above that of International Communism.  In contrast, the banker conservatives tend to be internationalists (for there is money to be made and controlled), and mainstream conservatives like Eisenhower would be viewed as potential Communist collaborators.  The Religious Right is another “fringe” group that is not so fringe in size, and is essential for conservative political victories, but usually ends up on the short end of the stick when getting payouts for their hard work keeping the rank and file to the polls (for example, for 28 or more years of Republican power since Roe V. Wade, they did not do much to curb abortions at all, as is always promised, although to be fair the Religious Right groups did not originally oppose abortions, including the Southern Baptists, until the Religious Right groups first formed to stop Christian school integration, and adopted the anti-abortion platform more into the 1980s.  William F. Buckley was the standard bearer of the “blue blood”, aristocratic Ivy League conservatives, with his Firing Line show (on public television, no less) being the main conservative mass media forum from 1966 until 1988, and the rise of Rush Limbaugh.   Rush took his conservative “with an attitude” radio show national in 1988, as Bush 43 was getting ready to be elected, and virtually invented talk radio as a force of societal change, and still going strong thirty years later, with no liberal rival.  Sean Hannity then became a similar force, beginning in national talk radio and the first conservative cable news network, Fox News, in 1996, in the middle of the Clinton Administration.  Around that same time, Matt Drudge began to perform the same revolution on the Internet, initially seeming more even handed in his criticism, but as he aged became more sympathetic to right-leaning positions, as well as his spinoff from Andrew Breitbart, and hard-right conspiracy trouble-maker Alex Jones.  So one can see, there is a long legacy of conservative conditioning of the public, for which the evangelical community appears most vulnerable and gullible.

As seen at the top of this blog post, I believe that outlets such as Fox News (with their veritable “HeeHaw Honeys”, with their short skirts and low cut blouses that only feature attractive, mostly young women, talking about “family values” (and which makes no surprise that the organization was rife with infidelity and sexual harassment)), Sean Hannity and their ilk, talking about despising immigrants, encouraging war and intimidation, justifying torture and secret detainment with out trial (or secret trials without defendant rights), supporting the cause of the powerful institutions (like the police) always over a populace that might have been wronged, suspicions of those of different faiths, love of money and the powerful, and veneration of big business as the saviors of society while denigrating public servants if not in the military, all with a big dose of swagger and bullying, is in effect a “rat poison” that kills the conscience, morality, character, circumspectness, mercy, humility and love for others that is essential for well-functioning Christians, and has done more to handicap the Christian cause and reputation in America than any Communist or liberal professor could ever do.   It took a long time to purge that “poison” out of my system, and I encourage all readers to take a Fox News and talk radio “break” for an extended time, instead reading the words of our Lord, and see if you don’t start having the same second-thoughts that I did – if our consciences aren’t already seared. 

In the last segment of this series, we will briefly summarize how this historical trend, leading to the Trump revolution, will influence evangelicals in the generation ahead and behind, how they are perceived, and their mission to evangelize the lost.

 

 

Think our technology gurus will save us? Think again!

I came across a splendid article a couple of days ago, on of all things, the business news website CNBC.  I thought the author, although a secularist, wrote about a fascinating experience he had recently, and his insight on their significance I thought was quite enlightened.  I shared it with my closest friends, and upon further ponderance I thought it might be of some merit for the readers of this blog.  You can currently read it in its entirety at this highlighted link.  It is so well written that I will quote much of it, followed by a little commentary of my own.

I should first explain a little bit about what I just learned about the author, Dr. Douglas Rushkoff.  Although he is a professor, he is best known as being the cutting-edge visionary at the dawn of the Internet Age, at its beginning in the early 90s, before it really took off, and coining terms such as “viral media”.  He has had an interest in modernizing and reforming Judaism, and getting it back to its supposed “open source” roots (to use the cyber-culture vernacular)  An abbreviated sampling of his bio includes some of the following things said about him:

Douglas Rushkoff is a writer, documentarian, and lecturer whose work focuses on human autonomy in a digital age.  He is the author of fifteen bestselling books on media, technology, and society, including Program or Be Programmed, Present Shock, and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.  He has made such award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries as Generation Like, Merchants of Cool, and The Persuaders, and is the author of graphic novels including Testament and Aleister & Adolf…Named one of the world’s ten most influential intellectuals by MIT, he is responsible for originating such concepts as “viral media,” “social currency,” and “digital natives.” Today, Dr. Rushkoff serves as Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens, where he recently founded the Laboratory for Digital Humanism and hosts its TeamHuman podcast.  He is also a research fellow at the Institute for the Future…Winner of the Media Ecology Association’s first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Dr. Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other’s values.  He is…technology and media commentator for CNN…and a lecturer on media, technology, culture and economics around the world…His previous best-selling books on media and popular culture have been translated to over thirty languages….His other books include CyberiaMedia VirusPlaying the FutureNothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism,…Rushkoff also wrote the acclaimed novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy and graphic novel, Club Zero-G.  He wrote the graphic novels Testament and A.D.D., for Vertigo.  He has written and hosted three award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries – The Merchants of Cool looked at the influence of corporations on youth culture, The Persuaders, about the cluttered landscape of marketing, and new efforts to overcome consumer resistance, and Digital Nation, about life on the virtual frontier…His commentaries have aired on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered, and have appeared in publications from The New York Times to Time magazine. He wrote the first syndicated column on cyberculture for The New York Times and Guardian of London, as well as regular columns for ArthurDiscover Magazine and The Feature…He also lectures about media, art, society, and change at conferences and universities around the world.”

“He has served on the…the United Nations Commission on World Culture, and as a founding member of Technorealism…He has been awarded a Fullbright Scholarship…He served as an Advisor to the United Nations Commission on World Culture and regularly appears on TV shows from NBC Nightly News and Larry King to the Colbert Report and Bill Maher….Rushkoff is on the board of several new media non-profits and companies, and regularly speaks about media, society and ethics to museums, governments, synagogues, churches, universities, and companies.  Rushkoff earned his PhD in New Media and Digital Culture from Utrecht University with a dissertation entitled Monopoly Moneys: The media environment of corporatism and the player’s way out. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts, a post-graduate fellowship (MFA) from The American Film Institute, a Fulbright award to lecture on narrative in New Zealand, and a Director’s Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  He has worked as a certified stage fight choreographer, an SAT tutor, and as keyboardist for the industrial band PsychicTV.”

Sounds like a real underachiever.  I hope his credibility is sufficient that we can trust the following things he shares with us in his article.

I’ll let him explain the incidents that led to his unique experience and interpretations of its significance:

“Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers.  It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of ‘the future of technology’.  I’ve never liked talking about the future.  The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR.  The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them.  But money talks, so I took the gig.  After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room.  But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.  After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology.  They had come with questions of their own.”

“They started out innocuously enough.  Ethereum or bitcoin?  Is quantum computing a real thing?  Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.  Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska?  Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one?  Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, ‘How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?’  For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.”

“The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.  This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour.  They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs.  But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless?  What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader?  The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew.  Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival.  Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.  That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.  Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion.  For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.”

“There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society.  But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else.  It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.  As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that ‘humans are nothing but information-processing objects‘.  It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride.  Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel…Zuckerberg?  These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy — the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.  Of course, it wasn’t always this way.  There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future.  But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs.  Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on.  So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol.  The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.”

“This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities.  Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival.  Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.  So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs?  Should children get implants for foreign languages?  Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers?  Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies?  Does changing my DNA undermine my identity?  Should robots have rights?  Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism.  Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon).  Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.  The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.”

“But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor.  The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor.  These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)  Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.  This ‘out of sight, out of mind’ externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality.  If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become.  This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans.  The cycle feeds itself.  The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution.  The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.  No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral.  Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core.  It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles.  Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be ‘solved’ with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.”

“Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor.  Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.  Our movies and television shows play out these fantasies for us.  Zombie shows depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the undead — and seem to know it.  Worse, these shows invite viewers to imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s demise.  Even Westworld — based on a science-fiction novel where robots run amok — ended its second season with the ultimate reveal: Human beings are simpler and more predictable than the artificial intelligences we create.  The robots learn that each of us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re incapable of making any willful choices.  Heck, even the robots in that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.  The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.  The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.”

“Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space — as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion.  And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars — despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials — the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.  When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after ‘the event’, I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now.  They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.  And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an ‘event’ in the first place.  All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.  They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it.  They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone.  For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.  They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.  Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us.  We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways.  We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.  Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”

Beyond the wisdom shown by this man, marinated in the cyber-culture ethos, his chilling description of these powerful figures already committed to planning to “check out” and giving up on humanity has been warned about in the past by conspiracy figures such as Alex Jones and Tom Horn, but none have been able to so holistically and articulately put all the pieces together and in context as this author (whose credibility makes his astonishing testimony all the more disturbing).

Unfortunately, in my view these other cited figures and others have in many ways “sold out” to supporting the authoritarian figures in riot gear and political partisans that they warned about previously, riding the current fad of nationalistic or immigrant-hating fervor, or hitched their wagons to and promoted laughable charlatans and snake-oil prophets (better make that “profits”).  It takes a relative secularist to rise above such buffoonery and to see the “signs of the times”, which Jesus said the religious leaders could not see; wouldn’t it be great to have such visionaries on our Kingdom of Heaven “team”?  He “gets” that we are “our brother’s keeper”, and even if conservative Republicans hate the idea of “collectivism” or even “socialism” (as practiced by our Book of Acts early church forbearers), it becomes obvious that if we do not embrace social norms, mindsets, practices and policies that “raise all boats”, before long, the elites with their ever-increasing centralization of wealth, and while the environment continues to be trashed and refugees continue to stack up worldwide, will soon raise their barbed-wire walls of their castles with guards to “shoot to kill”, while the desperate remainders (including us) will die killing each other, or storming their gates.  Couldn’t we as Christians at least consider assisting someone like this author, and help with the process to exploit these technological opportunities to aid all our brothers and sisters, rather than a free-market, Darwinistic “survival of the fittest” approach we have praised in our churches and discourse?  Shouldn’t we be willing to try out the principles Jesus already said would be the eternal “Kingdom of Heaven” ground rules of unselfish use of societal and global resources to benefit all, even if checkered by failure due to our fallen natures, and try to “set the bar” as examples for the rest of the moral and upright peoples of the world, to inspire them? 

If we don’t, and rather munch on popcorn as we deem the world’s wars and destruction as “entertainment” (as I see in the “emojis” of the posts of so many Bible prophecy message boards), then our “apocalyptic fever” will only be trumped (excuse the pun) by a hyper-paranoid elite, and their heralds in the hedge-fund community who are here to “play hard ball” in this full-stakes game on behalf of their unnamed super-rich, who will in effect bring on the very apocalypse of which they suggest they are so afraidWill Christians get their act together to see the real “signs of the times”, and lead the exodus out of “Babylon”, and “rescue the perishing” as much as possible, or just stay in their own bunker, out of touch with the real issues, and in effect just be part of the problem?   

As a Christian who was raised in a conservative Christian home, I realized how in that culture, businessmen and the wealthy were considered “successes” to emulate and heroes and role models of a type, as the saviors in a conservative view of society, and holding the keys to fix society and solve problems as opposed to non-profit enterprises (including government); we even pick our leaders based on their perceived business “success”.  This article shows that we should not look to these businessmen to be a “Moses” to lead us through the desert of an uncertain future, via technology.  I repeat, the big question to me is whether Christians, as individuals and corporately, will even recognize these things as a moral and spiritual issue, and their duty to provide an honest and non-agenda seeking source to help everybody, or rather focus on their own trivial or selfish issues, as they normally do.

My close friend Paul in Texas, a long-time Future Quake listener as well and thoughtful sage in my circle, provided the following comments to the article we just reviewed:

 “I found it a little amusing to assume that the small group the author spoke to were all old white guys.  If that assumption is true it seems like another case of conflating the end of their white imperialist world with the end of peaceable life on earth.  Much like the mentality encountered within christian evangelical groups.  I find that I agreed with this author on all accounts including his positive outlook on the future.  It’s a nice reminder that we’re not alone in the fight to bring the values of Jesus into the light.”

I find a lot of spiritual wisdom to unpack in those brief, laconic words.  I look forward to hearing what other readers say, beyond my lengthy and stumbling manner of trying to put them into a real Jesus-view perspective.

Field Trip Report: The Anawim, and The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek [anawim] of the earth”  Isaiah 11:4

“For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor [anawim] shall not perish for ever.” Psalm 9:18

 

 

One Sunday some time ago my pastor preached a sermon that included a mention and discussion of the “Anawim” – a category of people mentioned in the Bible.  My recollection is that he pointed out that they were the people Jesus said He came to minister to and represent, and whose issues and concerns were paramount on God’s mind, and the concept never left me.  He used several Bible passages that used the Hebrew word (or its Greek word by similarity) to to describe them and God’s thoughts on them, and among the definitions he cited of them, including “the poor ones”, or “the humble” or “meek”, one of the most interesting is “the lost and forgotten ones”.  I have had great difficulty finding “official” definitions of the term (even the Jewish Encyclopedia doesn’t seem to include it), but numerous religious citations online use this latter definition as well.  An article by the Catholic News Agency gives a pretty standard working definition of who they represented:

“The anawim of the Old Testament were the poor of every sort: the vulnerable, the marginalized, and socio-economically oppressed, those of lowly status without earthly power. In fact, they depended totally on God for whatever they owned. The Hebrew word anawim (inwetan) means those who are bowed down.”

A review of the old trusty Blue Letter Bible reveals that the Outline of Biblical Usage of the singular form anav describes it in scripture as meaning “poor”, “needy”, “humble”, “afflicted” or “meek”.  A similar entry for the related term anah includes the ideas of being “wretched”, “stooped over” (as in oppression or because of one’s humble estate before others), or to be “depressed”, “downcast” or “humiliated”.

When one reviews the different ways in which the Bible uses the terms, you pretty quickly get the picture that it represents the people who are the opposite of the “movers and shakers” of the world, and those who “have connections” either financial or political.  This would comprise the overwhelming portion of people who have ever lived on the earth, including slaves, peasants, serfs, and indentured servants, and their modern variants.  The pages of history ignore these nameless people, even though they built walls, cities, bridges, dug canals, rowed ships, constructed monuments, fought the wars on behalf of the rich, blasted through mountains for the railroads, and generally built the world that we enjoy, not to mention do housekeeping, car washing, janitorial services, lawn care, fast food work and some combination thereof for most of us.

They are lightly regarding in advertising and business ventures, because they are not seen as having deep enough pockets of disposable income to be targeted, in comparison to image-conscious and fad-addicted yuppies and other middle and upper classes, who are easy pickings to feed their vanity; the former’s lot is to be earmarked for liquor, cigarette and lottery ticket inducements and advertising.  While we’re at it, we should include other categories that are the “lost and forgotten ones” in our society, most of whom are in some form of institutional or pseudo-institutional care outside their total control, including the elderly and home-bound, the disabled, those in homeless shelters, on the streets, mental care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, detention homes, prisons and jails and the like.  It’s as if these people didn’t exist – Madison Avenue doesn’t care about them because they don’t have enough disposal income to spend, Wall Street doesn’t because they don’t have enough to invest, politicians don’t because they can’t contribute to campaigns and often can’t even get out to vote, and, sadly, even many churches don’t because these people can’t contribute to their coffers.  No one is representing their interests except God, and a few groups of limited resources – these people can’t even afford a lawyer to look out for them.  You normally don’t see these people in TV shows, advertising, or the focus of the public discourse, and seen as real people – even though many of us will join their ranks eventually.  In the meantime, these are the people we see as a “burden” and being “in the way”. 

Many American Christians deride any whiff of socialism or attempts to “redistribute the wealth” to lazy low-income people, with programs such as “equal opportunity” and credits or tax breaks for tuition and the like (although they quietly avail themselves of such programs when no one is looking).  However, one the earliest efforts of historical national income redistribution was not by the Communists, but by God Himself in the only government He established in detail, in ancient Israel under the guidance of the Mosaic Law.  God knew how fallen man – even the “chosen people” – in societal environments would result in an inevitable exploitation of the anawim and stratification of wealth into a feudalistic system, and thus instituted many novel civil rights and policies to protect the underclass.  He prevented lenders from confiscating the income-earning tools of their debtors, and even their cloaks used to keep them warm, and many other means to restrain the coercive power of income disparity.  The chief of these was the jubilee year, in which the wealth (expressed in real estate) gradually confiscated by the wealth class had to be returned to the original historical families in the jubilee year, with all debts forgiven, as a command of the Law itself.  While that occurred every fiftieth year, every seventh year the land was to experience a sabbath jubilee and rest from being cultivated, while the food the grew wild in its place was to be shared by the whole community that year, and not just the land owners.  Furthermore, Hebrew slaves were released from servitude at that time, so as to not create generations of slaves.  God also instituted wise prescriptions to accommodate the socially-beneficial aspects of the Jubilee, while not unnecessarily exploiting temporary owners between their observances, such as letting them buy land on a pro-rated basis of remaining time before the jubilee.  This is in stark contrast to what they observed in Egypt, which was the confiscation of a nation’s wealth due to a temporary famine – under the direction of Joseph, no less  – who first confiscated the people’s land and working tools in exchange for grain, and then put them to work on government land, in government housing, and afterwards provided them seed to develop long-term wealth for the State, as recorded in the late chapters of Genesis, and was repeated by the American government in 2008, as I wrote in How to Overcome the Most Frightening Issues You Will Face This Century.

A Jewish Christian writes online that “In the ancient world, owning land was greatly prized because it was a source of food, income and security.  In that economy where people depended on the crops they raised, if a family had a bad harvest and ran out of food, they were forced to go into debt or even sell their land.  If they couldn’t recover but fell further behind, they would have to sell themselves into slavery or leave the country, like Naomi and Elimelech in the book of Ruth.  People did not borrow money and sell land for business purposes, they did it only out of desperate economic need.  So the Jubilee was for one main purpose – to provide for the poor who had gone into debt or lost their land, so that they would be able to start over again.  Without it, the wealthy would always do better in bad years, and the land would tend to move into their hands while those who had lost their land would become permanently enslaved”.  She adds that “Another effect of the Jubilee would be to stop the destruction of families.  If a man lost his land and sold himself and his family into slavery, or if he moved out of the country, he would be likely to never see his family together again.  Part of the reason Naomi was distraught was because not only had she lost her hope for future descendants, but by leaving Israel, she also lost her family and past.  When she returned, she was reunited with her family.  So the year of Jubilee was to be a year that people returned home and families were brought together again”.  She laments that “Did Israel ever actually observe the year of Jubilee?  The evidence suggests that they never did.  It says in 2 Chronicles that they never let the land have its Sabbath years every seventh year, and if they never did that, they most likely never observed the year of Jubilee either.  Several of the prophets lament the exploitation of the poor by the rich, which also hints that they never observed a Jubilee year”.

God in fact warned the Hebrews when He gave them the Law what would happen to them if they did not honor the sabbaths and jubilees, and harness their greed by letting the land rest, sharing the excess after the years of saving with the members of their community, and eventually forgiving debts and intentionally re-distributing wealth, as God prescribed for a healthy society.  He wrote them in the Torah in Leviticus 26 that if they did not honor the sabbaths and other aspects of the law, they would be driven outside their promised land and into captivity, and “I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.  Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye [be] in your enemies’ land; [even] then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.  As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it” [Lev 26:33-35 KJV].  The people of Israel evidently did not believe God or like His idea of restraining the wealth accumulation by their elites in competition, because it appears they did not obey the Jubilee sanctions in the Law, and as a result they were led into captivity in Babylon for as long as it took for the land to experience it lost jubilees.  In 2 Chronicles it is written of this Exile in Babylon, “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: [for] as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” [2Ch 36:20-21 KJV].  Ironically, the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar was the one who not only honored Jeremiah by raising him from the latrine his Jewish leaders had thrown him in, but also re-distributed the wealth to the poor Jews remaining in the land; no wonder God called pagan Nebuchadnezzar “my servant”, and gave him the land (Jer. 27:6).  Even before that time when the situation was desperate, the Jewish nobility got the idea that they would curry God’s favor by releasing their fellow Jews from slavery as servants, since they had not done that before as commanded, but not long thereafter they missed having the servants wait on their every need (much as we exploit immigrants today), and soon re-subjugated them, which made God only madder.  God is serious about the poor getting relief from exploitation and “another shot”, and if His people won’t do it, He’ll send in outside invaders to get it done, and I assume He still has the same attitude.       

The Jewish Encyclopedia adds some further details.  They write that the Jubilee began with the blowing of the shofar at the Day of Atonement – which could signify that the release of debt of everyone in society was an extension of the release of eternal debt God granted to the people each year at that day, similar to how Jesus portrayed us as receiving forgiveness of “great debt” from the Master, but then immediately being hesitant to grant forgiveness for small debts from others.  They add that during the seventh year rest of the land “one shall neither sow nor reap as hitherto for his private gain, but all members of the community—the owner, his servants, and strangers—as well as domestic and wild animals, shall share in consuming the natural or spontaneous yield of the soil”.   They add that the fiftieth year Jubilee included “the compulsory restoration of hereditary properties…to the original owners or their legal heirs, and the emancipation of all Hebrew servants whose term of six years is unexpired…The regulations of the Sabbatical year include also the annulment of all monetary obligations between Israelites, the creditor being legally barred from making any attempt to collect his debt (Deut. xv. 1)”.  They add that “rest from labor is an absolute necessity both for animal and for vegetable life; that continuous cultivation will eventually ruin the land.  The law of the Sabbatical year acts also as a statute of limitation or a bankruptcy law for the poor debtor, in discharging his liability for debts contracted, and in enabling him to start life anew on an equal footing with his neighbor, without the fear that his future earnings will be seized by his former creditors.  The jubilee year was the year of liberation of servants whose poverty had forced them into employment by others. Similarly all property alienated for a money consideration to relieve poverty, was to be returned to the original owners without restoration of the amount which had been advanced”.

The authors also note that in the rabbinic era the leaders began to trim the provisions and shrink the utility of the jubilee, as they turned to more of a mercantile society.  Furthermore, they note that as Jewish colonists returned to Palestine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, “The leaders of the movement…claimed that the law is now obsolete”.  Because this caused a guilty conscience in the religiously observant portion of the people, they write that the issue “was submitted to the chief rabbis in Europe and Palestine.  Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spector was inclined to be lenient, and advocated a nominal sale of the land to a non-Jew and the employment of non-Jewish laborers during shemiṭṭah”.  Make sure you understand this – the Israeli rabbis – who teach that the “land cannot be divided” and never fall under the hands of their Gentile neighbors in Gaza, the West Bank or elsewhere due to the sacred nature of the land and God’s promises, and Talmudic prohibitions from selling it to the goyimwillingly sell the land of Israel for a year or more before the Sabbath to an uncircumcised Gentile in order to skirt God’s commands to let the land rest a year, and still greedily demand more output from it, as a type of Mosaic “loophole”.  That’s what you get when you have a religion based on law: a religion dominated (and exploited) by lawyers – a lesson our Christian ideologues and theologians would be wise to learn from.

Another website by a rabbi states that when Israel became a nation, it found complying with these Mosaic Laws impactful to the “bottom line”, so “In order to avoid the cancellation of all debts, a serious hardship in our commercial society, the device was introduced even in Talmudic times of handing the debts over before the end of the Sabbatical year, to a temporary court consisting of three persons, the debts then being considered to have been paid to the court beforehand”.  The rabbi further writes that “Because of all this and the great difficulty in keeping the law, the official Rabbinate in Israel adopts the legal fiction of selling the land to a Gentile on the analogy of the sale of leaven before Passover.  Many have felt, however, that, while legal fictions have their place in Jewish law, it seems more than a little absurd to effect a merely formal sale of all Jewish land to a Gentile”.  This process continues today in Israel.  In a 2007 article in the Jerusalem Post, the author wrote that “Under Heter Mechira Israel’s agricultural fields are sold to a non-Jew for two years.  The halachic basis is that when land is owned by non- Jews some work that is otherwise forbidden is allowed”.  He writes that Rabbi Yosef Rimon acknowledges the deception involving, writing himself that “One of the most discomforting aspects of the Heter Mechira is that it reminds us of a loophole that allows the criminal to walk free…In a normal legal system, as soon as a loophole is discovered, the law is amended in order to ‘seal’ the hole that went unnoticed when the law was first legislated.  In civil law, had the legislature foreseen that a certain loophole would be exploited, it would have sealed the hole from the outset, rather then leave a breach that it invites the criminal to commit his offense.  God, however, is prescient and all-knowing.  If a breach is found in the Torah, it cannot be that God was not aware of it from the very beginning.  A loophole in the Torah must have been intentionally included so that it might be used at the appropriate time”.   According to the conservative Israel National News, this technique allowed Israeli Jewish farmers to work for the Gentile owners they temporarily sold the land to rather than letting it rest or be used by the poor, and when the Ashkenazi rabbis would not support it, the farmers found Sephardic rabbis to sell the land for them.  Another 2007 article in the New York Times showed that the practice was being affirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court, in a case involving the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.  This clever tactic by their “lawyer rabbis” was not just a deception and cheating of the poor – it was also a deception and cheating of God.  How do we in our Christian community rationalize things like that today? 

A cursory review of some of the Bible verses using these terms tells a lot about how God views the poor, meek anawim, as opposed to the world:

“They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.” [Job 24:4]

“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.” [Psa 10:12]

“But the meek [anawim] shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”. [Psa 37:11]

“When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.” [Psa 76:9]

“The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.” [Psa 147:6]

“He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy [is] he.” [Pro 14:21]

“Better [it is to be] of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” [Pro 16:19]

“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” [Deu 15:11]

“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant [that is] poor and needy, [whether he be] of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that [are] in thy land within thy gates [i.e., “undocumented workers”]:” [Deu 24:14]

“Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and [him that had] none to help him.” [Job 29:12]

“But I [am] poor and needy; [yet] the Lord thinketh upon me: thou [art] my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” [Psa 40:17]

“He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. …For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and [him] that hath no helper.” [Psa 72:4, 12]

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” [Psa 82:3]

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” [Pro 31:9]

“The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.” [Eze 22:29]

“Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.  The LORD looseth the prisoners:…The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.” [Psa 146:7, 9 KJV]

The Bible even notes that the government is not the only power of coercion on earth; the rich have power over the poor, in the marketplace and even the courts, if government is not used to restrain them.  God did not believe in the libertarian ‘buyer beware” policy that did not regulate the marketplace, when the poor are so easily manipulated and exploited by the lender and the merchant, and it is a consistent “big deal” to God, as the many following verses attest:

“Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” [Isa 1:23 KJV]

“Her heads judge for a bribe, Her priests teach for pay, And her prophets divine for money.  Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, “Is not the LORD among us?  No harm can come upon us.” [Micah 3:11 NKJV]

“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender.” [Pro 22:7 KJV]

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich [hath] many friends. [Pro 14:20 KJV]

“Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.” [Exo 23:6 KJV]

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, [nor] of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge” [Deu 24:17 KJV]

“Divers weights [are] an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance [is] not good.” [Pro 20:23 KJV]

“A just weight and balance [are] the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag [are] his work.” [Pro 16:11 KJV]

“Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.  [But] thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” [Deu 25:14-15 KJV]

“Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?  and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?  That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; [yea], and sell the refuse of the wheat?” [Amos 8:4-6 KJV]

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?…Shall I count [them] pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?  For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue [is] deceitful in their mouth.” [Mic 6:8, 11-12 KJV]

 

God even said He would judge the “sons of God” He assigned to rule over the 70 nations of earth, over how they treated the poor in their own realms, saying to them:

“How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid [them] out of the hand of the wicked.” [Psa 82:2-4 KJV]

 

God was not just “talk” about the poor; He was “action” in how high He regarded them.  For example, He apparently sent Jesus Himself to come minister to the unwanted, poor immigrant slave girl Hagar, when ‘God’s people” sent her and her baby son out to wander the desert – like many who cross into our country – and twice came to comfort her, leading her to say, “I have seen Him who sees me” (Gen. 16:8) – possibly one the first humans to see Christ face to face.  Likewise, God looked after the immigrant Moabitess Ruth, leading her to Israel as an undocumented immigrant to find deliverance at the hand of a citizen of Israel (even though Ezra had commanded the Israelites to send wives and children of Moabite and surrounding nationality immigrant origin away to an unknown fate in exile), and later the Moabitess Ruth served as a descendant of Jesus Himself.  Jesus Himself was born into a poor, blue-collar family, having been born in an animal pen, and did hard manual labor, probably for a long time under a single mother, in almost certain poverty.  Jesus was homeless, too – He had “no place to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20).  His first “fans”, who witnessed a privileged display of the heavenly host, were the lowest of low classes – shepherds doing their work on the fringes of society.  His closest friends were “unschooled fishermen” (Acts 4:13).  The ones He thought were the greatest “went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated–the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” [Heb 11:37-38 NIV]

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 when He stated, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).  These were the first words out of Jesus’ mouth when He inaugurated His ministry at the local synagogue, thereby defining the priority of His ministry and intended recipients, moments before his religious leaders and neighbors proceeded to try to kill Him.

The early church watched Jesus’ emphasis on the poor and stranger, and His insistence that it was His Father’s will as well, and in some cases they “passed with flying colors”, such as their sharing of resources to the point that the community took notice, as we saw in the Book of Acts, and their generosity throughout the Roman world as the scattered Gentile churches raised scarce funds to help their Jewish Christian brethren in the Jerusalem church who were suffering from the brutal famine in the region.  However, in other instances they got a “goose egg”, such as when they neglected the “outsider culture” Gentiles in their own ranks in the form of the Grecian widows, prompting the apostles themselves to take action, and their selfishness and display of privilege by flaunting their envious food spreads at their “love feasts” communion events, while the poor in their own churches had little to eat there – a food display that was “to die for”, after the Lord intervened.

The New Testament, including statements by Jesus Himself, does add some further thoughts on the issue of the poor, of which we’ll share here a few of its statements:

“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor [thy] rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.   But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” [Luk 14:12-14 KJV]

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” [2Co 8:9 KJV]

“Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” [Gal 2:10 KJV]

The Book of James was written to Jewish Christians who left Jerusalem (“the twelve tribes scattered abroad”), and James evidently thought they had to deal with a cultural issue they had with desiring and respecting wealth, because he spent a good part of his epistle addressing it, in passages such as these:

“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” [Jas 2:2-6 KJV]

Having said these things, the following two passages best express Christ’s view towards the poor, and that which He wishes for His followers:

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” [Luk 6:20, 24 KJV]

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment [justice], mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [Mat 23:23 KJV]

I know I have spent a lot of your time (and patience) in reciting all these Bible verses, but the key point I am making is that, even though conservative evangelicals (like those of my culture, and maybe yours) don’t talk about the poor very much, it appears to be a “big deal” to God!  In fact, the latter verse suggests that much of our forms of outer piety, which may include regular church attendance, faithful service with the fellowship there, prayer and even testifying, are things that should not be “undone”, but that God really does have “front burner” issues (of what Jesus calls “the weightier matters of the law”), and “justice” is one of them, whether it fits our politics or not!  We are not to have “doctrinal churches” or “service and social justice churches” or any debate between them, but all churches that do both, so others can see our real love for them, and God’s love for them as well, and thus believe our message.  Jesus was a perfect example of this: His “stool of ministry” had three legs – doctrinal teaching of the kingdom, spiritual warfare to release people from demons and spiritual bondage, and ministry for the people’s needs of hunger and hurting, and without all three the ministry would have been lacking, and so will ours!  Think about this: each of these three “legs” ministers specifically to the three parts of our nature – soul (intellect), spirit and body, each one seeking its own “salvation” of justification, sanctification and glorification; which one should be left out?

Even though “justice” is one of the “weightier matters of the law”, my friend Micah points out that Christians have seemed to usually prefer “charity” over “social and economic justice” for the poor, and now I see his point.  This is like the “trickle down economics” crumbs that fall off the rich man’s table that he let the beggar Lazarus eat in the Bible; we all know how much God was impressed with the rich man’s generosity and compassion of Lazarus (actually, the dogs were more compassionate in licking Lazarus’s sores – sort of a low-cost Republican health care alternative to Obama Care).  There was a move in the Christian community, mostly beginning in England in the second half of the nineteenth century, to see the “huddled masses” in the teeming cities in the early days of the Industrial Age, and begin to notice their squalor and hopeless situation, and recognize some Christian duty to provide homes for orphans, and basic food and shelter for the needy, but those involved were certainly the minority.  The “social justice” movement began to take hold in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, but it was dominated by ‘liberal” Christian factions, and sometimes even had (gasp!) women ministerial leaders!  This movement faded as well, as conservative and fundamentalist Christian communities were suspicious of the motives of such supposedly “Christian” groups; their view of such Christians as “socialists” was akin to then (and now) viewing them in a similar way to “devil worshippers” – an artificial association that must be intentionally programmed by others into a person or community.  I believe that the inadequate movement by the church in Europe to minister to the exploited workers in Industrial Age Europe – not only assuring their basic needs were met but also pushing on their big business capitalist buddies to provide some form of union representation and balance to their exploitation, led the masses to be ripe for the (relatively) compassionate (but atheistic, in terms of Marxism) communist message to represent the workers, out of desperation.  Similar to when the French Church defended the military and government establishment in knowingly sending an innocent Jewish military officer Dreyfus to Devil’s Island to maintain the social order and their position, when the American church pulled away from their responsibility to the “working man” of the Industrial Age and to hold capitalism in check, the liberal secular humanists, and those of them in government, filled in the moral void of compassion, and have done the job of providing the basic social safety net ever since.  In recent days, the Mormon Glenn Beck (a favorite of conservative Christians) has made “social justice” the new “n-word”, and a concept of total contempt and distrust – presumably he’s never read God’s opinion in His word on the subject.

 

Roughly a week ago on Mother’s Day, I spent the day with my mother and family members out of town.  The close family members I visited are clearly good Christian people, have raised solid Christian families, and have been compassionate with those around them, and I respect them.  However, for some reason the topic of the current administration came up, and “what has happened with me” in the more liberal views they think I have recently espoused than those we were raised on.  In short order I was accused by the group of being a “Muslim lover” (having been told that “they all want to cut our heads off”) who did not favor the eradication of the aggressive Iran (a people I pointed out whose democratic secular government was overthrown by ours in a secret operation in the 1950s), weak on “standing with Israel” (to which I asked them to be specific as to who were the “sons of Abraham” specified in the Bible that would be subject to such promises (and if it included the 80 percent of Israelis who are atheists and do not believe in any “God of Abraham”, joined by a religious minority who will bomb the homes of Christians there, or attack them in the streets (except for Christian tourists with money to bring))), and finally being willing to just give away all our hard-earned money to the lazy underclass who seeks to exploit us – views that do all have a common association.  I briefly mentioned that the phrases they used I recollected as being virtually verbatim from certain cable news networks and radio talk show hosts.

To be fair, even as a blue collar, working class family we were raised in, in an old neighborhood and of modest means, the culture persisted (amongst Christians and within our community) of the concepts of the poor and underclass as expressed in the song of the time “Welfare Cadillac”, that being of (largely in the inner cities, and of certain races mostly) people who expected handouts and a refusal to work, and an expectation to have freely given to them and without consequence a standard living above us ‘hard working people”.  We saw some of those kids get free lunches or breakfasts at school, and swore we saw people at the supermarket buying T-Bone steaks with food stamps.  We actually had no idea what standard of living people could support with public assistance (nor can people today unless one has been on it, but almost always grossly over-exaggerated), but there were not-so-veiled references to women in such slums having additional babies merely to gain the extra welfare checks.  There was some modest help provided for those we knew and thought were “deserving”.  Enforced school busing of children from the inner city to my school, and the turmoil that caused, did not help attitudes much, leading us to be sent to a modest Christian school, ironically in the poorest and most depressing part of the inner city.  As talk radio grew, we began to learn better that the Democratic Party always went for the ‘deadbeats” in giving them free stuff, as a way to garner their votes as a winning coalition.  Tax credits for the poor and single parents were always resented, and many Christians today would assume those folks still “have it too good” and are big beneficiaries from their man Trump’s tax cuts (designed to help ‘the working man”), even though reality shows that the poorest had their taxes raised by 20% (from 10% to 12%), while the wealthiest corporations had their taxes almost cut in half; now there are the inevitable rumblings in Congress that social programs will have to be cut significantly to prevent expanding deficits from the huge tax cut to the wealthy.

It is sad that the main preoccupation in most churches is in securing annual revenue sufficient to keep their “Christian Life Centers” and matrix of lavish campuses operating (and admittedly, to justify maintaining large staffs and impressive salaries requires displaying a big operation), with mortgages and maintenance costs paid, rather than in estimating what their resources could do to impact the poorest in their community.  Ironically, my pastor told me once that data he came across suggested something to the effect that is all of America’s Christians merely tithed their income, there would be enough funds to pay for adequate food and health care for the entire world.  However, if our churches obtained such faithful income from their parishioners, for reasons I just described I doubt it would be put to that noble use.  My wife and I found out personally, that one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship churches in our city’s downtown, to which we were members for a time, got tired having us and another couple escort homeless men inside the door of the church to be fitted for clothes to go to interviews and to obtain work, because they expected it “looked bad” to the yuppies in the new condos moving in downtown that they wanted to court (thankfully, our church today has some heroic members who support Room in the Inn, which helps the homeless in a modest way and shows them love, and puts them in our face in the suburbs to remind us they are still there and not forgotten).  I also have to confess that having worked with such needy individuals on the fringes of churches for all my church life of many decades, it is a frustrating task for me and for many, since many have issues of various types that lead them to not heed good advice and to make their own problems and exacerbate them, and try one’s patience when trying to help.  As I say this as one who thinks of himself as trying to “keep his own act together” and not be a burden on others, but routinely ignores it when both the discipline and presumption on others is an issue in my own life.  I do think that some form of accountability and reward for healthy behavior is prudent, both to truly help the individual to get on their feet if that is possible, and to not bring those helping to anguish and cynicism.  However, I don’t notice the church, at least the conservative side, talking about the poor much at all.  And if Jesus required me to “shape up” and put my screw-ups behind me before He continued to bail me out, I would be in deep trouble myself. 

Why do people we try to help keep falling into repeated bouts of trouble?  Well, new data seems to suggest the stress of poverty produces its own inability to make good decisions, at a time when the afflicted need it most.  According to a May 2018 article in The Atlantic, “several recent studies suggest that having less money can actually affect thinking and memory for the worse. In the most recent of these papers, scientists found a link between being lower on the socioeconomic ladder and changes in the brain”.  They add that “Past studies have also suggested that being low in socioeconomic status can affect the way we think.  A paper in Science in 2013 found that ‘a person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs’.  The cognitive cost of poverty, that study found, was practically like losing an entire night of sleep.  Another study from last year found that people who had lived in poverty performed worse than those who had never been poor on tests of verbal memory, processing speed, and executive functioning”.  They quote an expert who said that “Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success … We’re arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function.  The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty”.  A 2013 study by Princeton found that

“Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University.  As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes…The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty…Thusly, a person is left with fewer ‘mental resources’ to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.  In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests.  On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ…The poor are often highly effective at focusing on and dealing with pressing problems.  It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly.  The fallout of neglecting other areas of life may loom larger for a person just scraping by…Late fees tacked on to a forgotten rent payment, a job lost because of poor time-management — these make a tight money situation worse.  And as people get poorer, they tend to make difficult and often costly decisions that further perpetuate their hardship.”

Many in my conservative Christian circles have adopted an argument they have heard on talk radio, cable news or social media that the government systematically re-distributes the wealth from the rich and middle class to the poor.  While I do agree that its programs do accomplish a re-distribution of wealth, my look at the data and government intrusion from a more holistic view of its overall impact on society would suggest that its re-distribution is actually from the poor and middle class to the rich, and the data seems to bear that out.  With large government programs for welfare and”‘equal opportunity”, how could that be?  One needs to consider the overwhelming largesse from enormous government contracts to businesses of taxpayer money, lucrative tax credits, and investment in education and infrastructure that largely benefits the big business and investor class, not to mention the booty and spoils from wars, fought on the ground by the poor on private’s salaries, to secure oil fields and retain overseas markets for investors and big business.

Does the data show this to be plausible?  Well, an article in The Washington Post in December 2017 stated that “The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962″.  The author adds that “From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points.  Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period.  Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.  That gap, between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades”.  They cite that

“In 2010, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely surveyed more than 5,500 people to find out how they thought wealth should be distributed in this country… On average, respondents said that in an ideal world the top 20 percent of Americans would get nearly one-third of the pie, the second and middle quintiles would get about 20 percent each, and the bottom two quintiles would get 13 and 11 slices, respectively.  In an ideal world, in other words, the most productive quintile of society would amass roughly three times the wealth of the least productive”.  In reality, they found that “The top 20 percent of households actually own a whopping 90 percent of the stuff in America…The fourth quintile of households gets literally nothing: no pie.  But they’re still doing better than the bottom 20 percent of households, who are actually in a state of pie debt: Their net worth is underwater, meaning they owe more than they have.  Combined, the average net worth of the bottom 40 percent of households is -$8,900…There’s the top 1 percent, gobbling up an astonishing 40 slices of American pie. The next 4 percent split 27 slices between them, while the next 5 percent take another 12 slices (a little over two slices per person)…The top 1 percent in the U.S. own a much larger share of the country’s wealth than the 1 percent elsewhere. The American 1 percent gobble up twice as much pie (40 percent) as the 1 percent in France, the U.K., or Canada”.

In November 2017 CBS News reported that “The top 1 percent of global citizens own 50.1 percent of all household wealth, up from 45.5 percent in 2000, the study found”.  They add that “the wealth gap recently spurred credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to warn that worsening inequality could hamper long-term economic growth by dampening social mobility and creating a less-educated workforce.  In October of 2017 The Business Insider reported that “The top 0.1% of households now hold about the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%”.  In terms of total amount of wealth increase, the London Guardian newspaper reported in December 2017 that “The richest 0.1% of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50% – or 3.8 billion people – since 1980…The report, which drew on the work of more than 100 researchers around the world, found that the richest 1% of the global population “captured” 27% of the world’s wealth growth between 1980 and 2016.  And the richest of the rich increased their wealth by even more.  The top 0.1% gained 13% of the world’s wealth, and has garnered “as much of the world’s growth since 1980 as the bottom half of the adult population,” the report said. “Conversely, income growth has been sluggish or even nil for the population between the global bottom 50% and top 1%”.  They add that “The economists said wealth inequality had become ‘extreme’ in Russia and the US.  The US’s richest 1% accounted for 39% of the nation’s wealth in 2014 [the latest year available], up from 22% in 1980”, with much of that going to the top 0.1 percent.  The economists note that one of the main remedies of the ever-widening gap between the one percent and the middle classes globally is a more progressive tax bracket structure, but admits that its ability is minimized that ten percent of the elite’s wealth is protected in offshore tax shelters.  In 2017 The Huffington Post reported that “New research suggests that the top 0.01 percent — households with over $40 million in wealth — are manipulating trusts, offshore bank accounts, and various other opaque mechanisms that mask ownership to evade 25 to 30 percent of what they owe in personal income and wealth taxes”.  Importantly, they add that “Our current estimates on wealth inequality in the United States come largely from tax data. These estimates, given the billions upon billions the wealthy are hiding from U.S. tax collectors, now appear to grossly underestimate how much wealth actually sits concentrated at America’s economic summit.”

Another report revealed that the 70% of the world’s population in 2017, with a net worth under $10,000, owned 2.7% of the world’s wealth, while the 0.7% worth $1 million or more controlled 46 percent.  They report that 56% (and rising) of the world’s population is considered “low income” (make less than $10 a day), and another 15% as “poor”.  The biggest wealth disparity they show is in the United States, where “the median top 5% household wealth has more than 90 times the wealth of the median U.S. family“.  Because of this, the middle class in the U.S. has half the proportion of national wealth of their peers in other industrialized nations, as well as half the net worth of the median family there.  Yet another report stated that “If established trends in wealth inequality were to continue, the top 0.1% alone will own more wealth than the global middle class by 2050”.  Even the hard right, libertarian Alex Jones’ website reported that “more than 40 percent of households cannot afford the basics of a middle-class lifestyle, including rent, transportation, childcare and a cellphone”, finding “a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses”

Now let me ask you – does this sound like a healthy society, and state of affairs?  Is this the “triumph” of capitalism, or just Darwinism?  Does this sound more like a growing feudalistic society?  Given the Bible verses we have reviewed, do American Christians have any responsibility here? Are we “our brother’s keeper”?  Do we ‘love our neighbor”?

Almost all American evangelicals absolutely despise Hillary Clinton, with a hatred only rivaled by that for Satan himself.  However, they considered her rival Bernie Sanders as just a nutcase.  But this ‘nutcase” was the only candidate to point out this “elephant in the room” of the expanding gap between the economic elite and the rest, and the crisis that it would present that would soon dwarf the threats of ISIS, Islamic extremism, North Korea or even the Soviets – a clarion call that largely fell on deaf ears.  Evangelicals and those of their ilk are not known to be students of history (or students of much of anything for that matter, generally not being readers of serious subject matter), but if they were it would be greatly apparent that many great empires and cultures fell in time over the growing inequality of wealth, and the inability of the underclass to survive with their plight, with violent rebellion becoming their only option – think of the slave revolts of the Roman Empire, the French monarchy, the Russian tsar, and the like.  When people have nothing left to lose, they will take desperate measures, and in the mayhem, the greedy elites will lose everything they clung to.  Evangelicals have long sided with the Wall Street Republicans, including the current New York City billionaire president, who has placed Wall Street hedge fund managers and CEOs into the key cabinet positions over the financial well-being of the citizenry; it is no surprise that the first Executive Action President Trump took on Inauguration Day was to provide that financial managers did not have to disclose to their consumer clients that they are actually representing the interests of the financial product companies they represent, and not that of their paying customers.   They place in office those who actually raise their taxes in subtle ways beyond their comprehension (like increasing standard deductions that are useless to most with mortgages, while quietly removing their exemptions to offset any benefits), and while cutting the taxes of wealthy corporations almost in half, and increasing the taxes on the poorest by 20 percent.

Of course, just like there’s no such things as “peace profiteers”, those people (even popular ones) who take up the cause of the poor find it a quick way to lose whatever popular support they otherwise had.  As one example, recently The Intercept reported regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. that “in 1966, 63 percent of Americans held a negative view of the civil rights leader, while just 32 percent held a positive one.  This was a marked reversal from five years earlier, when 41 percent of Americans gave King a positive rating and 37 percent a negative one.  King’s slide in popularity coincided with his activism taking a turn from what Americans largely know him for — his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.  They note King stating publicly that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”, while noting that “Many in King’s inner circle warned against making the speech and publicly campaigning against the war”.  Afterwards, he lost the support of many liberals and the press, as they note that  even The New York Times denounced him as doing a “disservice” to civil rights, while they note that “The Washington Post editorial board said King had ‘diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people’, as ”A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled ‘Anti-Vietnam'”.  They add that “In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day”, and even the other civil rights organizations he helped get on the ground such the NAACP, National Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, formally distanced themselves from King.  They also explained that

“Also that year, he launched the Poor People’s Campaign, aimed at providing good jobs, housing, and a decent standard of living to all Americans.  More than 40 years before American protesters took to the streets of New York City and other locales to “occupy” space to protest inequality, King proposed a massive tent encampment in Washington, D.C. to demand action on poverty.  King was assassinated during a campaign to organize sanitation workers in Tennessee in April of that year, before he was able to set up the encampment.  His widow Coretta Scott King, as well as fellow civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, went ahead with the plan to create what they called Resurrection City.  The camp lasted six weeks until police moved in to shut it down and evict all of its inhabitants, pointing to sporadic acts of hooliganism as justification.  Andrew Young, the young civil rights leader who later went on to be Jimmy Carter’s U.N. ambassador and a mayor of Atlanta, was horrified, saying the crushing of the camp was worse than the police violence he saw in the South.  ‘It was worse than anything I saw in Mississippi or Alabama’, he said.  ‘You don’t shoot tear gas into an entire city because two or three hooligans are throwing rocks’.”

They add that “Bobby Kennedy, who once authorized the wiretaps of King’s phones, attended the funeral” (in which King’s casket was pulled by a mule-drawn wagon), saying that “He gave his life for the poor of the world — the garbage workers of Memphis and the peasants of Vietnam” (King was shot while helping the Memphis sanitation workers in their strike, which he saw as part of the Campaign).

The Poor People’s Campaign culminated in a six week live-in camp called “Resurrection City” in Washington, DC (like the Bonus Army in the “Hoover City” camp a generation earlier) with 3,000 protest residents in the summer of 1968, right after King’s death.  The Nation reported comments by Dr. King, who originally conceived of the Campaign, including his statement that he thought the Apostle Paul would tell American Christians that “Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes…God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty”.  He stated that ““If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness.  He merely exists”.  He wrote that “New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available”.  King wanted to bring the actual poor people to D.C. to let the politicians see them, stating that “We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on.  People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way…and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it’”.

He was invited to bring the protesters to the city by Senator Kennedy himself.  The other politicians in D.C. felt threatened by all these poor people coming, with one calling it “A Mecca for migrants”, while presidential candidate Nixon told Congress not to capitulate to their demands.  20,000 Army soldiers were mobilized to occupy the city just in case, while the FBI began Operation POCAM to stop King’s effort on poverty, falsely telling protesters there they would lose welfare benefits if they came, and set up local city intimidation campaigns, even teaming up with the John Birch Society to operate the TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil) propaganda campaign.  The FBI even planted the story that the Campaign was in direct competition with the Quakers, according to released FBI files.  What King sought was an Economic Bill of Rights, with the following five planks:

  1. “A meaningful job at a living wage”
  2. “A secure and adequate income” for all those unable to find or do a job
  3. “Access to land” for economic uses
  4. “Access to capital” for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses
  5. Ability for ordinary people to “play a truly significant role” in the government

They sought protection for Mexicans, other Hispanics, Indians and immigrants from police abuse, and food stamps and school lunch programs to use otherwise wasted over-produced food, job training, living wages, help for poor farmers of all races, medical care for the poor, programs to allow the poor to construct and rehabilitate housing, re-commitment to the Full Employment Act of 1946, and similar reforms.  The people formed caravans all over the country to come to Resurrection City (even mule teams), under the watchful eye of the FBI; the group in Detroit was clubbed and stomped by mounted police when their van stalled.  The military intelligence community also spied on the City, posing as journalists and wiretapping their phones there on the National Mall.  Resurrection City had a university, a psychiatrist and a city hall on site.  On a nearby campus, Chicanos, Appalachian whites, blacks and Indians stayed together, marching to the Supreme Court about fishing rights.  Their Solidarity March had between 50,000 and 100,000 people.  After weeks, the police began firing tear gas canisters into the City, and arrested the remaining people while they were singing.  Its results were modest, but it did lead to the release of food to poor communities, and increases in school lunch programs and Head Start.  There was also a Resurrection City II at the 1972 Democratic Party Convention in Miami.

All of this brief introduction was a mere preamble to the real purpose of this blog post.  Lately I’ve been on the lookout for appearances by Dr. Cornell West, who received his Ph.D from Harvard, and has been a professor at a large portion of the major Ivy League Schools, as well as in Paris and Union Theological Seminary.  With his old-school Black Afro hair and intense manner of discourse on social issues, not that long ago I would have chalked him up to being just another scary black radical like the Black Panthers, and ignored him.  However, over time, I noticed that he spoke more about being a follower of Jesus and a Christian which supremely defined his ethics and actions, more so than anyone else I heard on TV, and consistently brought up his Christian faith.  In fact, I read that while he admired the can-do activism of the Black Panthers, his Christian faith restricted him to local breakfast, prison and church programs.  Nevertheless, he is reviled by the Right.  He calls himself a “non-Marxist socialist”, because he does not believe that Marxism and his Christianity can be reconciled.  Most interestingly, I found out that he co-founded the Network of Spiritual Progressives, along with Rabbi Michael Lerner and Sister Joan Chittister.  From that organization, I discovered that they would be part of a larger confederation of groups hosting a new Poor People’s Campaign – A Call for Moral Renewal in cities across the country, including Nashville, on the day after Mothers Day – a half century after Dr. King’s originally-planned event.  I finally decided to get my rear off the sofa and not just think about defending the poor and defenseless, or just talk about it, but actually show up for once, and at least provide a witness of Christian support and encouragement.

I had to drive through the manic traffic to downtown Nashville, away from my suburban paradise, and begin the stressful process of finding an (expensive) place to park, and then try to find my way to the site of protest.  I had been warned of the propensity of panhandlers in the area, who might give trouble, and indeed it appeared they were out in force (at least my paranoid mind thought so), so I found myself walking on the opposite side of the streets from them to avoid trouble.  Of course, I was disturbed by the irony that I was going to an event on behalf of the poor while avoiding them personally, but I rationalized that I had to get there safely first, and that encouraging panhandlers (while being concerned where what loose cash I had was being used) vs. promoting organized programs that carefully controlled how needs were being met were on two different levels, whether I was right or wrong, but people who have helped people on the streets will know where I am coming from. 

When I finally found the place, I did not see a sea of people locked in arms like I have seen in the news reel footage of the Washington Mall in 1964.  What I saw was a modest group of maybe 100-150 people (although I am a poor judge), all of a very motley sort, with me sticking out like a tourist from suburbia.  The picture at the top of this post is from the group speaking front and center on the steps, with a small crowd on the ground.

I looked around to see how big the evangelical presence was at the event – here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and home to the Southern Baptist Convention headquarters and other evangelical groups – but I did not recognize a single evangelical type group or person in the bunch.  I saw a handful with clerical collars, but that was it.  When I realized the pitifulness of the small crowd in a city known for its Christianity, and that I could not see any evangelical witness there anywhere in support of the poor, for some reason I just started to weep – pretty significantly, and uncontrollably.  I just bowed my head and prayed, and asked God audibly for forgiveness for not caring enough for the poor up until now, and I felt a hand on my shoulder in support.  When I looked up I found out it was one of the men in the clerical collar, who comforted me as I confessed my sin of insufficient care for the poor, and he prayed with me.  I did not have anything to write down information there (Radio Free Nashville would be so disappointed in me), but I seem to recollect his name was something like Bro. Jake Morill, and I think he came all the way from Oak Ridge, Tenn. (the Campaigns were being held in state capitals simultaneously across the country).  I asked him what denomination he was with and he said the Unitarian-Universalist Church; the others I met there from other places were also from the Unitarians.  The Unitarians – “showing up” us evangelicals.

I heard women preachers speak, a Muslim woman speaker, and saw older men waving Vietnam Veterans For Peace flags.  I didn’t have a clean short-sleeve “Future Quake” shirt available for the hot weather, so I had to wear my only short-sleeve, clean white T-shirt I could find, which was emblazoned with a white flag with blue stripes, and a statement in red letters stating, “STAND WITH ISHMAEL”.  A group with a banner asked me what my shirt meant, and I told them it was food for thought, that God had also given blessings and promises to Abraham’s other son Ishmael in addition to Isaac, and to “bless the seed of Abraham” meant to bless all of his sons of faith; they found that very interesting, and the Muslim woman in particular.  I gave all the people there a blessing in the name of Jesus, thanked them for their compassion, and confessed the error of my earlier ways, and the need of a follower of Jesus to support their cause, which was well received by all, including the woman dressed up like The Handmaid’s Tale, whom I suddenly discovered when they turned around was a trans-gendered person; I asked them if they knew our friend Roxy Fox of Nashville Gender Talk on Radio Free Nashville, and they said they did.

I also talked to a dignified woman in a medical lab coat, who was there from Chattanooga as a doctor or nurse, as part of a group seeking health care for everyone.  I looked hard for someone representing my old radio station Radio Free Nashville, because this event was ideal for them, and I finally found an older gentleman sporting one of their shirts and covering the event, and I made his acquaintance.  The main event of the second stage of the event was a sit-in on one of the streets downtown, singing songs and such, which was only permitted by those who had been trained beforehand to be behaved and non-violent or resistant to law enforcement.  They sang spirited songs as the buses and traffic stopped in front of them.  Of course, this was the only thing that brought the local TV cameras (actually, one station) to cover the event and promote the cause, and everyone knows how that game is played.  While I was there I noticed the police being very restrained and patient, for it was clear that this small group had no intention of endangering the public safety – rather trying to help it, in a totally unselfish manner, unlike the self-centered presidential cabinet officials we see on TV.  As I was leaving a couple hours later, I saw a woman wearing a clerical collar looking at her texts, and I introduced myself.  It turned out that Rev. Joy Warren was a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church!  She and her husband served there in Murfreesboro, TN – “ground zero” in the battle between the hard Right anti-sharia Christian movement and the new Muslim center there.  I found out that their church led groups where Christians and Muslims locally could meet each other and help each other out, and she worked hard to get her parishioners active in social events.  She mentioned that her kids told her at school that many of the kids there harass the Muslim students, whispering things like “9-11” in their ears.  She told me her denomination normally does not wear clerical collars, but she wore it to that event because she wanted the other people there to know that at least some Christian presence was there.  She is absolutely right, but isn’t that sad that such an overt act was even necessary, due to the evangelical “no show”?   

In recent years I have attended the evangelical-dominated Value Voters Summit with all the Republican candidates before the presidential election, and a major anti-sharia law conference at one of the major churches here in town, as well as a number of major Bible prophecy conferences.  Upon reflection, I noticed some striking differences between this and those events and the participants:

  1.  In this event, I noticed that the participants, unlike the others, did not feature participants that seemed to have much if any money to them, or dress with impressive tastes.
  2. This event looked like it had no money for impressive facilities to hold their event, with lavish receptions and hotel mixers, unlike the “Christian” ones (usually provided by wealthy benefactors of unknown agendas).
  3. Unlike the other events, I did not notice the participation or organization by members of the Israeli government.
  4. The military members at this event did not look like they were still involved in intelligence agencies or mercenary security firms like Blackwater.
  5. This event did not seem to be a veiled attempt to promote particular political candidates.
  6. Unlike the other events I listed, this one featured speakers always speaking about Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount and even repentance, which I never heard at those other “Christian” events.
  7. Without the deep pockets and public relations firms there, the media didn’t seem much interested in covering it.
  8. Unlike the other events, the poverty message led the evangelicals to being a “no show”.

 

The following are some pictures I took of the event itself:

This is Brother Jake, who laid his hand on me and prayed for me.

    This is Minister Joy Warren, the Presbyterian minister.

These people were interested in my T-Shirt.

 

This is me, with a suspect T-shirt in question (I needed an alibi picture)

 

One of the folks with the “Veterans for Peace” sign.

 

A lot of singing and spiritual songs going on.

 

One of the “Veterans for Peace” friends: He would certainly not be allowed in the other conferences I cited.

 

My buddy from Radio Free Nashville.  Low power to the people!

 

My new friend, who happens to be a Muslim (never once tried to kill me, either).

 

The “sit-in” begins!

 

Stopped the Fed Ex truck!

 

Although the police were well-behaved while I was there, I found out later in the local paper that 21 people, from ages 17 to 21 and from all over Tennessee,  were arrested at the event after I left.  You can tell that they look like some pretty sinister people that were a threat to the public.  Of course, the arrests are necessary for the media to show up and take notice of their cause, without expensive public relations firms to do the job.  The article mentioned that the weekly events nationwide are part of a 40 day movement of events.  Upon reflection, my evangelical peers at the other events I have gone to like to “talk tough” by parading guys in fatigues and former special forces guys and mercenaries at their events, and talk about “spilling the blood of patriots” and the like, but I believe that most of them are too coddled and cowardly like the comfy establishment group they pretend not to be to ever have the courage to spend the day in “pokey” or the paddy wagon, like these folks.

The London Guardian newspaper reported on the founder of the new Poor People’s Campaign, the Rev. William Barber of North Carolina, who stated that “There is no religious left and religious right.  There is only a moral center.  And the scripture is very clear about where you have to be to be in the moral center – you have to be on the side of the poor, the working, the sick, the immigrant”.  They add that

“Barber leads an ascendent grassroots movement that is trying to turn the national conversation to what they believe are the core teachings of the Bible: care for the poor, heal the sick, welcome the stranger.  The Poor People’s Campaign, a revival of Martin Luther King’s final effort to unite poor Americans across racial lines, last week brought together activists from several faiths, the Women’s March, the labor movement and other liberal organizations to launch 40 days of civil disobedience and protest against inequality, racism, ecological devastation and militarism.  As many as 1,000 people were arrested during the first wave.  More expect to be held in future…’They [the Religious Right pastors and leaders] say so much about the issues where the Bible says so little, but they speak so little about the issues where the Bible says so much.  Jesus set up free healthcare clinics everywhere he went.  He healed everybody and never charged a leper a co-pay’”.

I saw the following blog post the day after the event, entitled, “Why Would I Do This?”:

“This week I was arrested. I was in jail for over 14 hours.  At times it was so hot I was sweating.  At times it was so cold I was shivering.  And at all times it smelled rancid.  We sat or huddled in the women’s cell atop either hard cement benches or hard metal bunks (with no mattresses) covered by dried and crusted bodily fluids and years of dirt.  A guard saw our sunburns and assumed we had contracted a rash from being in the cells.  Without windows or clocks we were deprived of our sense of time.  The fluorescent lights lit everything into a brightly illuminated nowhere.  It took over 9 hours until we had access to our phone call.  From the architecture, to the way guards ignored or yelled at us, everything was designed in a way to strip us of our sense of self and power.  At one point, I overheard a guard saying ‘A beating would not harm that one’.  It was a very long 14 hours in jail.”

“Why did I do this? Why would I go through such an ordeal, stripped of my freedom and dignity?”

“Because I am a Christian.”

“I follow a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew named Jesus. The Jesus who preached “blessed are the poor” and who was poor himself. The Jesus who told the parable about the Good Samaritan, defying the racism of the time…The Jesus who died on a cross executed by a conspiracy between the religious elite and the mightiest military power of the ancient world.  The Jesus who risked arrest for his witness.  I am trying to follow Jesus in naming the evils of poverty, racism, environmental degradation, and the military industrial complex.  The same evils that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in the original Poor Peoples Campaign right before he was killed.”

“As I followed Jesus by risking arrest, I met him in jail.  I met Jesus in the woman who shared her jacket with me when I was shivering.  I met Jesus in the woman who gave me a look of utmost gratitude when I offered to walk behind her in line to cover her because her pants ripped open exposing her bum when the police took her in.  I met Jesus in the woman who was arrested for crying too loudly and uncontrollably at her brothers hearing.  I met Jesus in the woman who was so inspired by the Poor Peoples Campaign and that we were there with her in jail;…Those 14 hours in jail were intense, worldview shifting, hours.  I was humbled, honored, helpless and hopeful.  I joined the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival because I wanted to follow Jesus, and I was surprised to meet him in the putrid overcrowded jail cell.”

 

The problem of poverty cannot be solved merely by just throwing money at it.  And yes, whenever you provide assistance to the public – even through the local church – you will find abuse and exploitation.  There are ways to improperly apply assistance that not only make matters worse by means of providing money or goods for barter to support drug habits and alcohol abuse, and (I guess) even promote unhelpful behaviors and character traits such as sloth and lack of self-initiative, or other destructive behavior, or even reinforced feelings of inferiority.  Maybe many of us have witnessed the “welfare cadillacs”, or the food stamps used to buy premier items we do not think we can afford.  However, few of us have very found out how little public assistance really is (and those I know who work with such people can confirm this), and that it is just basic sustenance, much like Social Security.  We need to promote the ideas of self-sufficiency, hard work and financial discipline in people.  However, have we got those principles mastered in all the members of our own households?  Do the rest of us have any problems availing of the government to get tax deductions and credits for our families and mortgages, or even financial aid and grants to send our children to school, yet look down on others who get other forms of government assistance?

Are there ways to give people hope, and still foster good societal and moral behaviors?

Why do people have problems with school free breakfast and lunch programs – is it really the children’s fault for their family’s financial plight?  Are those meals really going to be mis-used?  Better yet – why not feed all our school children that way, so that the poor will not feel isolated when they use those tickets?  Don’t laugh – you may never have felt that shame unless you’ve been on such forms of public assistance for some time – the shame may be as bad as the poverty.  I hear some say cynically that our nation is the only one where our poor people are fat – they never seem to realize that the waistline girth may be due to the unhealthy, fattening food that is all they can afford, or all that is offered in their inner city corner store while the big chains stay out of the neighborhood, or maybe just the lack of education on home economics and nutrition in homes where a competent parent is missing.

Martin Luther King, Jr. recommended radical ideas for his economic plans at the time, including a living wage, guaranteed jobs for all and a minimum income in any case, to avert poverty and to spur consumer spending.  Now, these ideas are chic and are being considered in several states, and are already deployed in places in Europe and elsewhere.  The abuse factor is certainly present, but would reducing poverty-based crime, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicides be worth the price?  Why do the people in those places that offer free health care and similar “welfare state” provisions not want to adopt our Wild West, Darwinistic approach of unbridled free-for-all of “dog eat dog” capitalistic competition?  Are those countries actually “progressing” as a civilization, and is ours a throwback to the Dark Ages of feudalism, and going more that direction every day?  Do churches have a role in providing the moral underpinning to assist the State in lifting its lower rungs of society out of poverty, and to teach them good virtues of responsibility and self-worth?  Would churches take time away from their pet topics of financial success, gay marriage and Muslims to assign resources to such tasks?  Why do you almost never hear churches ever teach about Biblical directives of hard work, stewardship, and wisdom with money, and why are its parishioners (often with decent incomes) some of the worst role models in these regards to show to our neighbors who have grown up in disfunctional homes?

When the nation finally comes to its senses and nominates me to run for President, I think I would emphasize in “investing” in people – particularly those we have talked about in this blog.  Like Neegan properly says on “The Walking Dead” – “people are a resource”.  When society “invests” in people in need of help, “investments” are intended to reap returns – improved productivity, creative output, tax revenue, children for future our labor force, and the like.  It needs to be done smartly, and with accountability measures, while never totally eliminating the risks that come with investments – only managing them.  With some people – the severely disabled, the elderly, the mentally ill, the hopelessly addicted – the only “return on investment’ may be in our souls, and in elevating our civilization, and putting our thumb in the eye of old Darwin.  To fully round out my campaign slogan, I think I would go with, “Investing in People – with Compassion and Accountability”.  Who would find fault with that, other than some greedy so-and-so, or someone who doesn’t believe in the Golden Rule?  Of course, it will cost us – we may have to get flat screen TVs that are two inches smaller diagonally, or the smaller monthly plan on Netflix or our cell plans (it will really cost the well-to-do; less Monet paintings and import luxury cars, Cuban cigars and money laundered off-shore for their “necessities”, using their new-found drastic tax cuts that were supposed to “trickle down”, like the crumbs from the rich man’s table to the beggar Lazarus).  Would it be worth it?  Even to the point of putting less money into our overseas military adventures that entertain us and make us feel proud and exceptional? 

I, for one, am ready to consider new, bold ideas to turn back this “feudalization” of our society, and to comply with the Biblical mandates to place the poor and “justice” on the ‘front burners” of our discussion as the “weightier matters” of God – even with all the risks involved, or at least the ones the nay-sayers talk about all the time.

Wouldn’t it at least be an improvement if our churches talked about poverty some time?

Are we “our brother’s keeper”?

 

I’m really glad I went to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Conservative Role Models in the Bible – Part 1

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[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Even though I have repeatedly said that my posts here will only be sporadic due to the priority of getting my last book volume drafted and the whole Holy War Chronicles series published, the delay has been longer than normal due to a health crisis within my parents that has required me to be available out of state for much of the time over the last few months, and the foreseeable future; I would appreciate the prayers of all the readers for both of them, and for my siblings and myself.]

This post topic came to mind the other day when I was reminded of a recent project I heard about that created a “Conservative Bible” (the fact that CPAC is going on and in the news as I write this has also contributed, I am sure).  It was overseen by Andrew Schlafly, the originator of the Wikipedia variant “Conservapedia” (which only features data supporting conservative worldviews), and the son of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.  As a “grand dame” of the conservative movement, she shook the political world in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo, and is recognized by historians by almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after it had almost passed enough state legislations, by means of her aggressive organization and activism.  Her organization “The Eagle Forum” was a bastion of conservative family and moral issues and their political and legal defense, and a prototype for later conservative “family” organizations.  As a staunch religiously-conservative Roman Catholic and defender of traditional Christian family values and role models, she embraced Donald Trump as such a role model and his 2016 campaign (ironically her son was also eventually “outed” as a practicing homosexual).  Her work also promoted the conservative values of unbridled capitalism (aka the Social Darwinist credo of “each man for himself”) and privatization to corporate control of the public interest.  And true to these values of unregulated corporate behavior, Schlafly’s own beloved Eagle Forum organization was subject to some type of hostile takeover by members of her own board of directors, including her own daughter, shortly before her death in 2016.  The cited online reference from its Missouri branch wrote that “Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum’s board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption”.  She told World Net Daily that the coup was real and that “this may be my Dobson moment (when the board of Focus on the Family similarly forced founder James Dobson out), was based upon her endorsement of Trump, and was led by her own daughter.

Her son, Andrew Schlafly, is a “chip of the old block” who has forged his own conservative venues, such as his online resource “Conservapedia”, which is intended to be a Wikipedia-like information source with only conservative-approved information.  A brilliant person himself with an engineering degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard Law School, he founded Conservapedia in 2006 when he was alarmed to read a student assignment (as a homeschool teacher) using the now-accepted Common Era (C.E.) historical dating nomenclature, versus the Anno Domini (A.D.) earlier tradition.  Schlafly objectively explains on the “About” page on his Conservapedia site that “Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth.  We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here.  Founded initially in November 2006 as a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike”.   He adds that “We have received over 500 million page views!”, and notes that “A conservative approach to education is powerful and helpful in many ways. It equips students and adults to overcome inevitable obstacles, such as addiction and depression…There are few, if any, conservative schools…The truth shall set you free..No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”

To get a feel of the type of narrative and perspective provided on Conservapedia, a look at its front page on February 21, 2017 notes that its “popular articles” include those on “global warming”, “feminism”, “homeschooling”, “evolution”, “liberal claptrap”, “hollywood values”, “biblical scientific foreknowledge”, “Donald Trump”, “free market”, “George Patton”, “Globalism”, “Conservapedia proven right”, “Ex-homosexuals”, “Battle of Thermopylae”, “greatest conservative songs”, “counterexamples to relativity”, “liberal bias”, “liberal style”, “Chuck Norris”, “bias in Wikipedia”, “Mystery: Why do Non-Conservatives Exist?”, “Barack Hussein Obama” and “Professor Values”, to name a few.  It also features a late-breaking “In the News” segment, with story titles such as “White House Signals Reversal in Transgender Bathroom Policy, overturning another Leftist policy by Obama”, “Trump was Right: Riots Break Out in Rinkeby, Sweden”, “Conservapedia Proven Right, Again”, “More fake news by the lamestream media”, and “Melania Trump Recites the Lord’s Prayer at Melbourne Rally – CROWD GOES WILD!”, and many other such reference citations for academics and researchers.

Regarding its rival Wikipedia, its Conservapedia page dedicated to it notes that “Most of Wikipedia’s articles can be edited publicly by both registered and anonymous editors, mostly consisting of teenagers and the unemployed.  As such it tends to project a liberal – and, in some cases, even socialist, Communist, and Nazi-sympathizing-worldview, which is totally at odds with conservative reality and rationality” (emphasis added).  It notes that Wikipedia founders Jimbo Wales and “atheist philosophy professor Larry Sanger’ are both atheists, and that “its articles are a mixture of truths, half-truths and falsehoods”, quoting World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah as saying that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias.  It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever seen”.  It does fairly point out that “Wikipedia has millions of entries on trivia and mundane topics”, but smacks of that “systemic liberal bias that dominates Wikipedia”.  They also perceptively point out that “the ‘hammer and sickle’ of the leftist ideology which murdered millions in the former Soviet Union – is featured prominently on the instruction page as well as the tags that mark each uploaded image”.  They are also known at Conservapedia for taking a strong stand against what they perceive to be one of the greatest threats to political conservatism – Einstein’s general theory of relativity in physics.  Their page on the “theory of relativity” begins by warning that “The theory of relativity is defended with religious-like zeal, such that no college faculty tenure, Ph.D degree, or Nobel Prize is ever awarded to anyone who dares criticize the theory”, and its article titles within this topic comprise those such as “Lack of Evidence for Relativity”, and “Experiments that Fail To Prove Relativity”.  They note that “Despite censorship of dissent about relativity, evidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities”.  They add that “some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas…Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common”.   The article is associated at its conclusion with other wiki topics, such as “Liberal pseudoscience”, which includes “Black holes”, dark matter” and “moral relativism”.  On the dedicated Conservapedia page “Counterexamples to Relativity”, they begin by noting that “The theory of relativity is disproved by numerous counterexamples, but it promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to pull people away from the Bible”.  This leads the prominent scientific magazine New Scientist to state, “In the end there is no liberal conspiracy at work.  Unfortunately, humanities scholars often confuse the issue by misusing the term ‘relativity’.  The theory in no way encourages relativism, regardless of what Conservapedia may think”.

Conservapedia does provide some pages with useful definitions of popular political terms today we can use for this post.  In their page on the topic “Liberal”, emblazoned with a picture of “Barack Hussein Obama” and stated to be the ‘least successful president in history”, states at the beginning that “A liberal is someone who craves an increase in government spending, power, and control, such as Obamacare.  Liberals also support the censorship and denial of Christianity.  Liberals who are a part of the secular left prefer the atheist religion over the Christian faith, as atheism has no objective morality to hinder their big government plans”.  They add that “Liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working”, and that “All liberals support, in knee-jerk fashion, the oppositive of conservative principles, while lacking an actual ideology or values of their own.  Many of them cannot understand Christian language”.  They are also known for (a) “Denial of science (especially creation science)”, (b) “Hypocrisy”, (c) “The belief that terrorism is not a huge threat, and that the main reason for Muslim extremists’ hostility towards America is because of bad foreign policy”, (d) “Hedonism”, (e) “Rejection of Biblical standards”, (f) “Hatred”, (g) “Murder”, (h) “crying instead of accepting reality”, (i) “Cessation of teacher-led prayer in classrooms”, (h) “tyranny”, (i) “Treason”, (j) “pseudo-intellectualism”, (k) “genocide”, (l) “fascism”, (m) “Destroying conservative family values and replacing them with immoral Hollywood values”, (n) “High progressive taxes as a form of class warfare against wealthy business owners”, (o) “Sadism”, (p) “racism”, (q) “slander”, (r) “Obesity”, (s) “environmentalism”, (t) pedophilia”, (u) “mutilating corpses”, (v) “enforced homosexuality”, and many more unsavory attributes.  They add that, “In practical usage, the term ‘liberal’ is more closely synonymous with ‘radical’, ‘immoral’, ‘anti-freedom’, ‘elitist’, or ‘bad'”.  Their list of ‘Notable liberal ‘intellects'” includes “Barack Hussein Obama”, “Dracula”, “David Thorstad, a founding member of NAMBLA”, “Adolf Hitler”, “Karl Marx’, “Lee Harvey Oswald”, “Benito Mussolini”, “Margaret Thatcher” (for decriminalizing homosexuality), and “Osama Bin Laden”.  Their list of “Liberal Organizations” included AARP, AFL-CIO and others.

It also has a page dedicated to “Conservatism”. On it, it notes that “A conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.  A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else.  A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them”.  Regarding their “goals and principles”, they note that conservatives seek or support “capitalism and free markets”, “classroom prayer”, “the concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt”, “family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household” (emphasis added), “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms”, “Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)”, “Private medical care and retirement plans”, “cancelling failed social support programs”, “enforcement of current laws regarding immigration”, “respect for our military – past and present”, “rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming”, “a strong national defense”, “A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it”, and “ending entitlement programs”, amongst others.

The contribution Schlafly and Conservapedia is most known for is their origination of the “Conservative Bible” translation.  The Conservapedia page on the “Conservative Bible Project”  notes that its goal is to “render God’s word into modern English without archaic language and liberal translation distortions”.  They add that the first draft of the Conservative New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010, and many of the Old Testament books are completed as well.  It adds that “Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations”, and that “the third – and largest – source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate”.  It notes that “As of 2009, there was no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines”, including “Framework against Liberal Bias”, “Not Emasculated”, “Combat Harmful Addiction”, “Express Free Market Parables” (“explaining the numerous economic parables in their full free-market meaning”), “Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness”, and “Exclude Later-inserted Inauthentic Passages” (i.e., “excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story”).  It notes that the “benefits” of the new Conservative Bible include “benefitting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses”, “political issues can become a pathway to evangelizing liberals”, and “this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion”.  Some of the “Helpful Approaches” that are cited from the Conservative Bible include to “identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as ‘government’, and suggest more accurate substitutes”, and “identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations”. They add that “Many consider the Conservative Bible project, as well as any other Bible translation projects, to be heretical and in opposition to Matthew 5:18, which was fulfilled in the King James Bible”.  They use as examples of censored Bible passages in the Conservative Bible such as Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (adding that, “Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity?”, since “This quotation is a favorite of liberals”), as well as Luke 16:8, where they change the “shrewd” manager of Christ’s parable to “resourceful”.  Amongst the “Advantages to a Conservative Bible” they list include “liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – becomes easier to recognize and address”, “supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions”, “the ensuing debate would flesh out – and stop – the infiltration of churches by liberals/atheists pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals”, “this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome”, and “this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today”.

As example of the improvements provided by the Conservative Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew 5 it says Jesus “began His Torah” instead of “He opened His mouth”, and states “Blessed are those who are not full of themselves” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  In 2009 Stephen Colbert interviewed Schlafly about his Conservative Bible on his “Colbert Report” show .  There he states that Jesus’ parables were “free market parables”.  Salon Magazine actually listed verses from the Conservative Bible, where the term “Pharisees” has been changed to “liberals”, so that Mark 3:6 reads, “The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy Him”, and in Mark 10:23-25. they change Christ’s words “for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” to “for an idle miser to enter into the kingdom of God”.

Political conservatism is inextricably intertwined with most of American evangelicalism like a Gordian Knot, with Biblical passages and theological doctrine and the aforementioned conservative principles irrevocably linked, and not challenged or critiqued by the Bible text itself in polite company, at the risk of alienating oneself under the most dire charges of heresy – being a liberal.   As an example of its ubiquitousness, a look at the “Ten Liberty University Distinctives” by founder Jerry Falwell on what is arguably the world’s most influential evangelical university’s website in 2015 notes that one is “An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,” a strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support for America’s economic system of free enterprise” (emphasis added) – a political and economic indoctrination paid for in large sums by parents (or vast student loans) to provide their children a life-influencing “Christian education”.  This may be why their website also notes that amongst their awards are being in the Top 10 of Newsmax‘s “40 Conservative Colleges” and number 5 on another list of “the 20 Best Conservative Colleges in America”, while being the fifth largest university in the nation.  Sometimes it requires that they stifle independent thought and free speech by their own students (presumably there to obtain an education to thus acquire such skills), in widely reported incidents such as in which the university banned the College Democrats in 2009, or in late 2016 when a writer at the university newspaper was banned from writing about Donald Trump’s sexual assault conversation with Billy Bush (University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. had already publicly endorsed Trump), apparently blocked by Falwell himself.  Sometimes they just block the online version of the local newspaper on the university computer servers, to block students from reading unsavory reports about the university’s corruption or hypocritical actions.

As is typical for this blog, the preceding long-winded expository narrative was a mere preamble for the actual point of the post itself.  Inspired by these previous references and in their general spirit, I thought I might take a shot at proposing a handful of some of the more memorable “Conservative Role Models” in the Bible itself, since the purpose of the Bible itself is to undergird and give spiritual, divine sanction to politically conservative principles both we and it hold dear.

The remainder of this post will only focus on core conservative economic principles, as embodied in the following well-known Biblical characters:

 

The “Rich Man” Who Interacted with Lazarus:  In this parable of Christ in Luke 16, a “certain rich man” was said to be “clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” – evidently an entrepreneur and “risk taker” who was rewarded for his genius with prosperity, apparently by God Himself, and therefore worthy of our respect by his apparent success, as well as his culture and fine taste, and a role model for enterprising young Christians.  Unfortunately, he was plagued by a liberal welfare deadbeat (i.e. ‘beggar”) named Lazarus (whose name means, “whom God helps’), who used the excuse of his medical condition of body-wide sores (why doesn’t he pay to see a good doctor?) to ask for handouts, rather than earn an honest living.  The rich man knew that if he provided to Lazarus any more than what fell to the floor (a form of “trickle down Reaganomics”), (a) he would never get rid of him, and (b) Lazarus would never “pull himself up by his bootstraps”.  The blessed rich man wanted to demonstrate adherence to the conservative Biblical values of hard work and responsibility.  He did permit Lazarus an alternative to wasteful universal health coverage – he let the dogs lick Lazarus’ sores.  Accordingly, when the rich man died, he went to his proper eternal reward as God decreed.  Curiously, in the afterlife he found himself to be a helpless eternal “welfare deadbeat”, as the tables turned and he begged to Lazarus for relief.  Maybe this is why the “poor in spirit” will inherit the Kingdom, and why it is so hard for the rich to enter it.  The eternal principles the rich man then learned were said by Abraham to reside in the teachings of Moses and the prophets, and if people would not embrace them, then even one returning from the dead (such as Jesus Himself) could not persuade them otherwise.

King Ahab (acquirer of Naboth’s vineyard) and the King (acquirer of the “perfect” lamb):  In 1 Kings 21 Ahab used his power and prestige to impress upon Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, because of its proximity to the palace, as a type of “eminent domain”, even though Naboth legally owned it.  Ahab knew the “art of the deal” many Christians so admire today in the wealthy businessmen and traders who are invited to their pulpits as guests; he exhibited the success drive and “killer instinct” to be diligent, even obsessive, in getting what he wanted, and in not taking “no” for an answer.  Most powerful men have a more powerful and cunning wife behind them, and Ahab was no exception; she forged letters in his name after notifying him that she would obtain Naboth’s property with “an offer he couldn’t refuse”, setting him up in a legal blackmail scheme that led to his death, and Ahab’s possession of his property at Jezebel’s command as a result.  In the Social Darwinistic “survival of the fittest” trait of economic conservativism, what they did was “fair game”, using power and economic clout (even paying the stooges and lawyers) to obtain from the less well-connected by force, in “free and open markets” unfettered by regulations and restrictions.  Naboth was a fool for valuing the legacy of his descendents who gave him the land for an inheritance to future generations, and “not a good businessman” which would have earned Christian respect.  In response God sent His prophet Elijah (whom Ahab called “his enemy”) to tell Ahab what he thought of his economic philosophy, and his ultimate destiny.  Similarly, in 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan told King David about a rich man and a poor man, the latter having a little ewe lamb he had raised, who ate and drank from the man’s table, and was like a daughter to him (v. 3), whereas the rich man had vast flocks and herds. When the rich man wanted to impress a visitor, he did not take from his own large supply, but rather took the lone lamb of the man, and fed it to his guest.  David sought revenge because the rich man had no “pity”, but it in fact it was about his own actions with Bathsheba.  However, in conservative free market capitalism, the inevitable destiny is that almost all a society’s assets will be owned by an ever smaller circle of elites, who can leverage their wealth and influence to extract more and more.  Today the top fraction of one percent own something like half of the total wealth in America, and that upper tier is getting more elite every decade – a top political platform of that “socialist” Bernie Sanders (a man himself on the outside looking in, unlike the other political candidates).  Trump’s tax plan he proposed in his campaign would raise tax rates on the poorest tax bracket, and eliminate their credits for their children, while dropping the 39.6 and other wealthiest tax rates to 25 percent, and corporate taxes down to 15 percent (who else do you think will pick up the tax revenue slack?).  This trend in wealth concentration, if unabated by conservative calls for lesser banking and financial regulation, will become an eventual a tipping point like the French Revolution, when the masses had nothing to lose, and then everyone (including the rich) will lose.

The Ambitious Barn Builders and Wealth Retainers:  Churches extol the virtues of visionary businessmen, including those who wear clerical robes and build massive “world ministry centers” with private jets and opulent campuses, and are ever-expanding and upgrading, as role models to emulate of “the American Way”.   In Luke 12 a ‘rich man” was so blessed by his farms (obviously due to God’s grace) that he decided to tear down his perfectly good barns to build yet bigger ones, to “bestow my fruits and my goods” for public admiration, rather than sharing with others.  God was not so impressed with such displays of wealth and security, although he would have been viewed as a “model of free enterprise and investment” and to have filled his time “productively”, rather than in others’ lives.   The Conservative Bible changes how the church in Acts shared all they had sold to give to the Apostles, to being “generous with those in need”, so as to avoid allusions to socialism or communism.  A couple who embodied this change was Ananias and Sapphira.  In Acts 10 they admirably sold a possession, but kept part of it, and laid the rest at the apostles’ feet.  While many such religious leaders today toil in their ministry under modest means and with dignity, many other conspicuous examples reveal opulent lifestyles and asset accumulations from the “widow’s mites” given to their “ministries”.  A biographical book about the Rev. Billy Graham entitled Prince of War noted that by 2004 the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s annual income was 110 million dollars, with 271 million in assets, while Graham’s annual compensation exceeded $500,000 a year, while telling radio listeners the Garden of Eden was a place “with no union dues, no labor leader, no snakes, no diseases” and saying that no Christian laborer would take advantage of his employer by aligning with a union.  Various sources list the net personal worth of the almost centarian-aged Billy Graham at over $25 million, up with the most successful prosperity gospel preachers – what will he do with “all of this in his barns” at his age?  His son Franklin, a one-time rebel who avoided the ministry, has done even better; the Charlotte Observer – the bane of the Graham family – reported in 2015 that Franklin Graham made more than $620,000 in salary from Samaritan’s Purse – that’s a quite a haircut off the top of the “widow’s mites” donated by poor Christians, and means a lot more kids will grow hungry today that could otherwise be fed at a dollar a day – which also makes him the highest paid CEO of any international relief agency, even more than the CEO of the American Red Cross.  They add that his total compensation from Purse was $880,000 plus another $258,000 for working full-time for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  To be fair, this is far less than the $1.2 million he received in 2008.  Is it any wonder that these religious leaders hang out with high roller businessmen and Wall Street bankers, and guys like Donald Trump, with whom they can so identify?  People love a “winner” and particularly a conspicuous one – that is why the Pharisees publicly gave their money at the temple to great adulation and respect, while the widow’s mite was the greater portion of her essential resources, which only caught the Lord’s eye; we make much ado over rich Americans who give a small portion of their excess to a charity of their choosing to assuage their conscience and take on a pious stature with the public, not considering the treacherous ways in which much of this money was accumulated, as they put their names on buildings and hospitals; meanwhile having contempt for the poor who give a lesser amount monetarily to the public good by taxation and otherwise, but actually a larger share of their own minimal means, as Christians bemoan the high tax rates of the idle rich, who have numerous tax schemes to avoid their expected proportion of taxes anyway.  This environment is why a rich young ruler could live a very pious life and seek to follow the Lord, and only be inhibited by his “higher” calling to wealth and its prestige.

The Ultimate Manifestation of Capitalism – The Rider on the Black Horse and The Great City Babylon.  In Revelation 6 we see a rider on a black horse (as in being “in the black” financially) who controlled the global exchange rates of critical assets with a balance in his hand, announcing the cost of essential foodstuffs, while protecting oil (the Greek suggests the type that is used for fuel) and the luxurious items such as wine, which would be “untouched” and protected for the wealthy elites.  History has shown that physical weapons are not the most powerful methods of control – the control of wealth and money and raw materials is.  The Knights Templar arose out of nowhere to be Europe’s bankers (as “pious soldiers of Christ”) with sudden power that rivaled kings and the Pope, and could bring any of them to their knees by the control of capital as premier capitalists, soon to be followed by the Jewish House of Rothchild, House of Morgan, Rockefeller and others.  Even Joseph found out that by confiscating and then controlling for the State the only commodity of value in a world of famine -food – it could be used to confiscate all the wealth, and even freedom of the subjects of Pharoah.  In Revelation 18 we see it globalized institutionally in the Great City Babylon, where “the merchants of the earth have waxed rich” and “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” – i.e., pursued their mutual interests with the global financial cartel rather than being faithful to the interests of their own citizens.  It’s Social Darwinistic attribute derived from capitalism has them dispassionately yet immorally trading in all goods of value, even the souls of men as mere possessions of labor.  Good conservatives today (and most American Christians) also see little value in the dignity of the laborer, disfavoring minimum wage laws, a living wage, labor rights and jobs programs, as being “bad for business” and corporate profits, as the Christians are the ones who put in office a political party that clearly rather answers to the Wall Street bankers and corporations who finance it (when have you seen them aggressively fight Roe V. Wade in their 28 years since in power, although they campaign so heavily on it, for example?).  Christians have swallowed one of the biggest conservative “whoppers” of the last century – that more money for the rich in reduced taxes and corporate welfare and government contracts and inducements will actually help the poor and middle class, followed only by the promise that the reduction in inheritance and other corporate taxes are for the “small family business”, or that it will produce “more jobs”.  We now have a President largely elected by Christians to look out for the “little guy” as he promised, who has staffed all his cabinet positions with oil company CEOs, and billionaire and millionaire Wall Street hedge fund executives.  Christians are dazzled by their robber barons and tycoons just as Jerry Falwell Jr. was when getting to sit in Donald Trump’s airplane, but evidently God is not as nearly impressed, and will see to it that this system of exploitation will not prevail – that of the “Golden Rule”, or “He who has the gold makes the rules”.  The passage says to God’s people to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (v. 4).  The question is – will America’s Christians listen?

That’s enough examples for now – let us know further examples in this vein.  The next part will include good conservative Biblical examples of patriotic nationalism, exceptionalism, and a “strong Judeo-Christian nation” that “projects force globally” as a “global leader”.

[NOTE: Please link this and other posts to Facebook, other social media and in emails, to invite either widespread denouncements, praise or enlightenments in a wider circle – all of which are encouraged – and at least some food for thought and a good conversation piece.]

 

 

 

Religious Right and Their Followers May Be Getting Their Bar Kokhba Political Leader

trumpchristian

 

This is a post I have tried to avoid writing for over a year.  I know it will alienate many more of what few friends and followers I still have.  I have also tried to focus on finishing the last of seven volumes of my Holy War Chronicles book series instead, but since I haven’t posted here in some time, I might as well get this off my chest, even though it may well result in fewer readers for my books.  I could drown the readers in historical and recent data and citations here, like I do in my book, but I’ll try to restrain that and get to the point, and let those skeptics read my books or do their own research for themselves.

There was a time when God’s people, the Jews in Judea, had a monumental choice to make, which had everlasting political and, more importantly, spiritual overtones.  Their pious religious leaders had turned them against a poor carpenter/preacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, who talked of “turning the other cheek”, “Loving your enemies”, and avoided talk of claiming a political kingdom by force, but rather focused on a “Kingdom of Heaven” in which the poor were the “insiders”, and the rich were not revered and pandered to, but rather had to emulate the humility of the poor to be a part.  He told His followers to “put their swords away”, because His Kingdom was not of of this world, “else My servants would fight”.  Rome graciously gave God’s people a choice – to spare either this weak but healing Jesus who comforted the religiously or socially outcast, or another “Jesus” – Jesus Barabbas – who was a patriotic military hero in rebellion, who wanted to “make Judea great again” and “take Judea back”, even though he was also known as a killer and criminal (with such Zealots often known to rob from their own people).  We know the choice these people made; from then forward the die was cast and their fate was sealed.

The Jews, like their Canaanite and Levantine neighbors, were a wall-building people, as their source of protection from the menace of undesirables outside their “exceptional” community.  However, it is curious to note that Biblical history suggests that their walls did little to make them safer.  When Assyria’s army came, it was the heavenly host that turned their army into panic, and the prophet of God commanded that they not be slaughtered, but fed – the banquet being a non-violent affair that led to a true safety for a generation, and the foreign army to which mercy was showed had no heart to return later.  These walls did not stop Nebuchadnezzar’s army when his hand was forced by their rebellion; they had forgotten their real security was in obeying God, who had protected them without fortifications in their desert wanderings.  Nehemiah’s walls, so lovingly celebrated by Christians today (though never mentioned by either Christ or the Apostles), did not stop the Greek army from conquering when the Jews embraced them initially as “saviors” (thus betraying their benevolent Persian overlords), nor the Roman army later.  However, this wall to keep out “unexceptional” outsiders did serve to trap the people of Judea inside their own walls by their own patriotic Zealot “saviors”, who initiated an ill-advised and hopeless rebellion against Rome, and in turn massacred and tortured their fellow Jews who wanted to leave the city, while plundering their own food stockpiles and other provisions during the siege, as the Zealots used the sacred Temple grounds as a military citadel, forcing the Romans to destroy it when they refused to surrender.

Having lost their beloved Temple and their autonomy did not stop the Jews from seeking a patriotic leader to again “make Judea great again”.  Their religious leaders had “advanced” via their form of Pharisee-led Rabbinic Judaism to elevate their religious leader Rabbi Akiva, still known today by Jews as more important to Judaism than Moses himself, as well as being more wise as of the things of God.  He proceeded to “anoint” a dashing military figure as “Bar Kokhba”, or “Star of Israel”, proclaiming him as the prophesied Messiah of Israel, and massaged some Old Testament passages to vaguely alude to it.  Kokhba did not exhibit the virtues one might find in Scripture; Jewish historical records show that he was cruel, even to his fellow people of his own faith, such as cutting off the fingers of all his soldiers, and confiscating the lands of his countrymen for his own wealth.  He famously said that the Jews did not need the help from God to win.  He did launch a cruel persecution and massace of Christians throughout the land.  While rousing the patriotic/religious fervor of his countrymen, he led an even more disastrous rebellion after three and a half years, as eventually he and Akiva were killed, along with over 580,000 of their own countrymen, as the Jews were then banned from the entire region of Jerusalem.  By this time the oriignal tenets of the Jewish faith were submerged, and the hopes of a “return of the Kingdom” under a conquering Messiah was all they clung to, with no thoughts repentance, lessons learned from their folly, or the actual will of God, whom they felt betrayed them.

I have written for some time, and express in far deeper discussions in my books, that the Religious Right in America today, whom I have been raised to admire as a good “church-goin’ boy”, has similarly lost their way, in their brew of Christianity, American-exceptionalism and conviction of national “divine destiny”, Aryan superiority over other cultures, hyper-militancy (Spartan-style) and a paranoid fear, hatred and contempt of those who are different and don’t share their views, and the need to use State power to quench or eradicate them, rather than the power of love and a godly example.  This trend goes back many generations, and even prior to our nation’s founding; in recent generations, such conservative Christians were the main standard bearers of the Cold War against the commies, thereby giving spiritual sanction to the illegal acts of the CIA and FBI (both internationally and domestically), and foreign wars under false pretences such as the Vietnam War.  Since the falling of the Berlin Wall took away that zeal (and the need for such huge defense budgets and contracts), they have seamlessly transitioned their external contempt to those of another culture and sphere of the world in the War on Terror, justifying an American police state and ridiculous security budget even though the primitive nomadic leaders with AK-47s pose no civilization-toppling power in America like Russia’s nuclear arsenal.  They have justified torture and unlawful detainment and redention, with secret military trials if any, as worthy of the “good guys” to protect our morally-superior way of life.

I have observed that most of them, including many people close to me, have flocked to Donald Trump as a kind of Bar-Kokhba “messiah”, to “make  America Great Again”.  I have marvelled to see him get away with saying almost anything, to the immediate defense of his followers, in particular Christian leaders.  Probably the most honest thing Trump has ever said is that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and he would not lose any of his supporters.  Sadly I think this is a kind of prophetic statement of how far America’s Christian community, or at least most of it, has descended into their abyss.  If anyone has taken the time to follow Trump prior to his candidacy, they will note that his life and actions have been one of total narcissism that many have called a long time ago as clinical in its severity (which does not have to be treated as long as you have enough money to buy friends, and scare away or silence critics), as a need to be seen as being the “greatest”, with the need for him to point it out for every building he has built, every house he owns or piece of furniture as ‘the greatest ever”, and for his coterie around him to acknowledge it as well.  In today’s campaign, he anoints himself as “the greatest job creator God ever made” (Henry Ford may protest this, in wherever he resides today), and will build the “greatest military”, the “greatest economy”, and the “greatest wall”, all without a single detailed plan.  We know about his attitudes toward women, which has been a lifestyle and not a recent nor long-past phenomenon.  He brags publicly on air about ditching wives when they hit 35 and are no longer useful, the lack of merits of flat-chested women, his perverted glee at getting to watch naked beauty pageant contestants dress back stage, his desire and skill at seducing married women into adulterous acts, and even his description of his own daughter’s physical attributes in sexual terms, as “someone he would date if he were not his daughter”.  He has gotten kudos from Christians for scapegoating the “others” as the source of America’s ills – a skill in “selling it” that would make Hitler proud – including all the “rapist” Mexicans, and the Muslims he kept saying he would ban from immigrating, with his reputation built on a physical “wall” that he thinks will not only effectively protect America, but “make it great again”.  He is seen as the hero of the common man, who evidently also do not do much reading (Trump has bragged publicly about being the choice of the “poorly educated”) – they would see that many of those “common men” he stiffed and did not pay for their hard work on his buildings, and the minorities he and his dad were fined for racially excluding in their buildings (his dad, the New York slumlord Fred Trump was notorious for this, leading one of his tenant victims – Woody Guthrie – to savage him in his songs).  One can see beyond his rhetoric how he would really take the cause of the common man, in his only detailed policy plan – his tax plan, which plans to reduce the tax rates of the highest tax brackets, and drop all corporate rates to a mere 15 percent.  Who do you think will take up the tax-paying slack in America?

Of course, all these things have endeared him to our wise and righteous examples amongst our Religous Right leaders, and in particular his biggest cheerleaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson.  And he has given them much to believe his sincerity – from his affirmation of his faith because he says he “takes the little cracker”, to his faith recitation of “two Corinthians” and how much it means to him, and his holding up his grandmother’s Bible to rapt, tear-stained Christian audiences.  Like Bar Kokhba, he has publicly said to Christian audiences that he has done nothing to ever ask God for forgiveness for.  The many Christian leaders who have crowded around him like groupies for influence and photo ops, including Dr. Dobson, have said that televangelist Paula White has led him to the Lord; she should understand him well, as an adulteress who had an affair with fellow evangelist-healer Benny Hinn until they were exposed.  Like Rabbi Akiva, they have worked hard to find Biblical references to herald his coming as messiah, many Christian leaders publicly calling him a “King David” or :King Cyrus” to justify his “rough edges” (to which I expect both men will some day hold such leaders to account for such character defamation of themselves).  They have hard-pounded home to the American Christian flock that they should not look at his character, how he speaks directly or acts, either over his life or even during the campaign – he has an exemption from any expectations of character or virtue.  It’s not that he’s just not a “holy joe” or a preacher; I don’t think he has any virtues at all to speak of, or even the bare minimum of a ne’er-do-well off the street in any culture, East or West, much less our choice amongst tens of millions to lead the ‘Free World”.

In recent years the Religious Right and their followers have had a similar crisis of what path to take, and who to follow, as they did in the streets of Jerusalem.  In the recent election, Ron Paul, a practicing Christian, veteran, only serious congressman to actually propose pro-life legislation, and faithful spouse to his wife for over fifty years, spoke to the almost exclusive evangelical audience at the South Caroline debate, and said that our foreign policy should follow Christ’s Golden Rule, to which he was roundly booed.  At the Values Voters Summit held by the Family Research Council , Christians there gave him the lowest “values” score, merely because he did not like war, and did not think that everyone who tried a marijuana cigarette should be in jail.  These days, like Kokhba they have a candidate whom they can really rally behind and admire.  They speak in defense of Trump regardless of his historic or recent actions or words, much like an abused spouse or a co-dependent of an alcoholic, in neither case helping the sick person, and in this case revealing more about their own character.  We have recently seen, in Trump’s own words, how he likes to “grab women by the p___y” and lead them around (I use this offensive term because most Christians don’t seem to think it is a big deal, evidently).  I think in this case, Trump is grabbing the Religious Right and their followers “by the p___y”, and derisively laughing all the way.  More importantly, he has shown (by his own statements) that he likes to target women in marriage covenant with others; in this case, he has the greatest prize – a Church in marriage to Christ, whom he has seduced away by his dirty talk, bravado and “charm”- not as if there were much resistance from them; they have repeatedly shown their tendency to go “a whoring” after patriotism and self-worth, the Darwinian emphasis on “might makes right” in their economics and gunboat diplomacy, and even their justification of slavery in years past.  I cannot speak for Christ, but I would noo be surprised if He is telling the leaders of the American Religious Right and their followers to “weep for their children” in the days ahead, and it won’t be for the reasons they hear on talk radio.

As far as I am concerned, I think that all of these Christian leaders and pastors who have espoused this have gone the way of Balaam the prophet – telling pagan leaders what they want to hear in spiritual terms in exchange for profit and influence.  I intend to hang their endorsement of Donald Trump, and their lame justification for it, around their necks like an albatross for the rest of their lives (albeit subject to repentance and wising up, like we all have had to do).  The next time they begin publicly moralizing about how immoral certain Americans are – including gays, or thoese irascible “millennials” – I am going to throw their endorsement of Trump back into their face, and tell them where to stick it; I don’t want to hear any of their moral superiority any more.  I now know (actually I have known for some time), and more importantly all can see their hypocrisy, and how serious they are about moral convictions and being a “voice of conscience” to a society.  Oh, how do we need a John the Baptist today who could speak real “truth to power”, and also point out these sold-out Christian leaders as a “brood of vipers”!  The rank and file Christian Trump supporter has no excuse, no more than any of us saying these politicans are the problem and were forced on us – someone had to vote these guys (Trump and Clinton) in during the primaries, and think they were a “good choice”.  I think these supporters have gone the way of Esau – “despising their birthright” by selling their Christian moral authority for a promised bowl of porridge of feel-good, militant American exceptionalism, and scapgoating of Mexican and Muslim outsiders for all our problems.  I’m afraid this birthrite of spiritual credibility is also hard to get back.  It has exposed their priorities and a projection of their own internal values and ideals.

Trump’s life has been defined by his establishing of his “brand” (with his names on buildings, steaks, airlines, etc.), and the “art of the deal”.  Ironically, his book by that name that made him famous was not even written by him, and his ghost writer who did come up with his philosophy for him has now renounced him and rejects what he stands for.  I guess some might admire Trump as a “success” – as one might consider a “success” who only started with millions to invest from his dad and his dad’s Rolodex of insider real estate contacts (and the shirt on his back), and his ability to declare bankruptcy numerous times while leaving all his partners and creditors holding the bag (which he defines as “success”).  In Trump’s world, a “good deal” is not when both parties succeed in their goals as a “win-win”; no, there must be a winner and a loser of a transaction as to its value, to feed to egos of Trump and his ilk (as he did with Merv Griffin over Resorts International).  In his deals, he must “sell” a persona of awe to intimidate his “mark” (a term from street con games), followed by periods of “good guy” posturing and flattery when needed, as well as “tough guy” belittling of a deal opponent to give them fear of refusal (having the perceived dough to threaten endless lawsuits also serves he and his type well as well).  He himself believes none of it (other than some measure of self-denial), and seeks only to “win”, and does not see destroying his opponent as “personal” (see the horrible things he has said to his primary rivals, and then instantly made up with them when they were no longer a threat to his goals). I have experienced these behaviors myself from billionaires and other high-rollers I have had to do business with, and even strike deals with (or defend myself when they break them).  I have witnessed him using all these techniques on America and his growing ranks of gullible followers during this campaign, and he has played them like a Stradivarios.  Most have never had to deal with types like him before (except at maybe an Amway sales meeting or similar scenario or timeshare sales experience).  He has flattered them. charmed them, and made them in awe of him, and “ready to sign”.  His emphasis on “winning” in all his talks (when not offending women and their looks, or Hillary. the media conspirators, etc.) sits well with Americans, including many American Christians, because the real religion of America is “winning” – winning wars, winning sports, winning in global business, etc.  We will deal with the devil (while spouting moralisitic platitiudes) as long as we can be with a “winner”, and maybe have some of that success rub off – at least Dr. Dobson, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. do.  Trump has produced no evidence, much less detailed plans, on how he will be the “greatest” in all these areas, other than his showmanship.  All of his other partners and associates have ended in sorrow and loss; what will be the fate of America, and its Religious Right?  Who will hold the bag this time when he goes “bankrupt”?  Instead of using money and New York lawyers to intimidate people with threats, what happens when he is privy to the capabilities of the CIA, FBI and the military?  He has also shown us how gullible we are, in his fawning adoration for the “strong man” (and former KGB spook) Vladimir Putin, who may be helping him covertly (according to the FBI).  Christian leaders (including Graham) have praised the despot Putin, who jails and kills opposition, shuts down independent media and is building his own personal largesse as the singlemost powerful individual controlling energy supplies in the world, to add to his own wealth.  Graham and his Christian leader peers (and many laypersons) have been calling Putin himself the “lion of Christianity” for his jailing of gay persons or those with dissenting views to his government or the Russian Orthodox Church, while ignoring his laws that are outlawing an evangelical presence in his country.  Putin and Trump both share in common a desire to inspire their national churches with nationalistic fervor, and to exploit them for their own financial and political gains.

All these words of rebuke are not intended in any way to elevate or promote HIllary Clinton – a Nixon-like figure of entitlement, paranoia and secrecy that would continue our less-than-ideal leadership vacuum, although probably not quite the Wormwood figure that Right Wing Talk Radio has indoctinated Christians to adopt withour question or critique (these same sources and their followers also said there would be no election in 2012 or 2016 if Obama was elected).  I did not vote for Hillary in the primaries (nor Trump or his warmonger Repubican peers), and I don’t plan to in the general election; I remind you that there are other choices for president on our ballots, and I would submit that now is an excellent time (with two terrible major candidates) to begin availing yourself of them, as I have done for several elections (and wish I had done earlier).  I do encourage you to vote; even as Christian citizens of “another kingdom”, I believe that is is right for us to vote, at least as an expression of gratitude to God who gave it to us here in America, and as a small measure of positive influence.  Don’t tell me I am “wasting my vote” by not endorsing either of the two similar criminal syndicates we know as “political parties”; I am tired of endorsing the status quo of them with my vote, and the choice of candidates will not improve unless we change course (and more importantly, educate our fellow Christians).  Some Christians think Trump will fight the neo-cons.  It is true that a few of the neocons (such as Bill Krystal) cannot swallow him, and I like his critique of the Iraq War and Syrian intervention.  However, I see that his advisors are chock full of neocons and warmongers (and endorsed by gen. Boykin, to boot, as well as Dick Cheney), and he has had the audacity to say publicly recently, “I love war”.  Does anyoen really know what he will do once he is in office?  Who is he beholden to?  Does the Religious Right really think he will give them the time of day after he has rangled their votes, if he wins?

That’s it – I have much more to say, but I should quit while I am behind and say no more, before there is no one else left to piss off (I sadly have had strained relationships with many close friends needlessly over this issue).  Even though this election may not inspire most of us, we can use it constructively, regardless of what the “world” does, to see what it says about us as individual Christians and our Christian community and what we value, and the state of our witness in this world after the smoke of this election clears.  I suspect that God will use this to bring some clarity, and even separation (and new bed-fellows and fellow travelers) to perceptive Christians in the days ahead.

Buckle your seat belts, and keep a long-term, heavenly kingdom perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Bombshell Investigative Report Ties Gen. Boykin to Military Intelligence Use of Christian Aid Organization in North Korea as a Funded Cover

Friends,

I just heard on CNN today a report on a new investigation by a journalistic organization called “The Intercept” that just released their findings that Gen. Jerry Boykin and his military intelligence group took over a Christian aid organization to fund and use to place intelligence gear and collect data in North Korea and elsewhere as a cover.  I found the actual amazing report, which you can read here:

Intercept Report Linking Boykin to Christian Group/Intelligence Cover

The front organization, the Humanitarian International Service Group (HISG), was founded the day before the 9/11 attack (you can see it explained here); the first website shows a video of the founder Kar Hiramine’s “Christian” calling to found it.  In 2003 Gen. Jerry Boykin, original member and eventual chief of Delta Force and Special Forces Command and now well-known evangelical speaker, joint chief with Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative, and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, took over the DoD Defense Intelligence Group in 2003, and decided to develop intelligence capabiltiies to rival the CIA, by using faith based front organizations, which the CIA and rest of the government had been forbidden to do after they had been caught doing it in the 1975 Church Committee hearings.  They set up other front organizations to fund it to provide cover that it was a DoD intelligence front.  One funding organization, the New Millennium Group, was operated by Army Colo. Robert Lujan, who was the legal counsel for Delta Force when Boykin operated it; he also wrote a paper called “Legal Aspects of Domestic Employment of the Army” (which you can read here from a military training site) that talks about the use of the military in the U.S., and mentions the Waco siege (where Boykin advised Janet Reno on the assault that immolated scores of civilian victims) by using Delta Force to help the BATF clear a meth lab from the Branch Davidian house and to conduct  “‘room clearing discriminate fire operations,’ termed ‘close-quarter combat’ by the military”, and Presidential use of the military to take over Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict.  He concludes by saying that “Civilian and military leaders need to expect an increase in domestic deployments of US military forces…America’s leaders should recognize that the relationship between America’s Army and the American people is strong but may be compromised.”

The article also notes that the money was also funded through a small outfit called the “Working Partners Foundation”, run by Robert Simses and Yale King.  Simses is a lawyer whose bio says he worked for the Navy in the White House during the Nixon years.  Yale King was the primary man, and was said by Boykin in his book Never Surrender as being a long-time “dear friend”; he was often featured on the Oak Initiative videos with Boykin and Joyner, talking about how the govt. had stolen his car dealership, when at the same time it appears evident that the government was sending him large sums to be a laundering organization.  The article notes that the ‘Christian” organization HISG received $15 million from the Pentagon, operating in 30 countries, until a new intelligence director shut them down at the end of 2012.  The new commander, Adm. McRaven, was said to have said to “shut it down because he was nervous about the flap if it ever got out that the Pentagon had used a bunch of evangelicals and missionaries as spies”.  My review of their tax records show that the groups shut down subsequently at the beginning of 2013, and according to the tax files I have (and the article attests), the remaining assets were given back to the U.S. Treasury (!).

I had already planned to have Gen. Boykin “star” in the last book volume for me to draft of my book series The Holy War Chronicles.  I document his involvement in the torture activities at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, his Delta Force activities and his “Christian” activities to turn the War on Terror into a “holy war”, where he (alongside Kanasas City Prophet Rock Joyner) advised the church to train our youth “with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other”, as he also pontificated on Jesus’ return sporting an AK-47.  I thought that this, plus his recent book allegorizing a secret organization of retired pastors and special forces soldiers that assassinated Muslim leaders and other illegal acitivities were evidence of a corrupt work of wolves masquerading as Christian sheep.  I have seen all this evidence as “red flags” that Christian leaders have not seemed to acknolwedge to date.  I have been willing to speculate that the anti-sharia movement and Religious Right para-church community at large is rife with CIA and other intelligence operatives using the Church to accomplish its agenda (the documents I have obtained from the 1975 Church Committee hearings confirm this likelihood as well), since their agendas coincide, and this piece of data strongly bolsters this possibility.  If it is true, God help us all.

I hope this concerns you as much as it does me.

A Decade For All The Mullahs To Depart

I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing a lot of commercials on cable news and elsewhere, from a group known as “Citizens For A Nuclear Free Iran”.  You can guess their message – we must pull out all stops to sabotage the multi-nation peace deal recently struck with Iran, but it doesn’t offer any alternative solutions.

I did a little snooping, and according to the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio (NPR) and other sources, these “citizens” are a new group formed to served as a deceptive, concealed front operation for AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  NPR notes that the wealthy AIPAC is spending between $20 and $40 million dollars in media propaganda against the American public to persuade them away from what otherwise they might naturally and logically decide on this one issue based solely on American interests. Where is this massive amount of money coming from, and what “strings are attached” with it, and their agendas?  This is an organization whose primary loyalty is to a foreign power, to serve their interests.  I suspect that this sum is far larger than that spent by the Japanese to perform an identical operation through “Toyko Rose” in World War II.

This expensive propaganda “psy-op” mission (assisted by prominent Senators who are on the board of the organization) is necessary because its goal runs counter to the natural peace-loving nature of the normal peoples of the Earth.  The majority of the Iranian people want the treaty.  The communities of the major nations that helped broker it – the UK, Germany, France, Germany, China and Russia – all want it.  The United Nations officials and the Vatican want it.  Polls of the other nations of the world reveal that they are in support.  Even the former head of Shin Bet (their FBI) and Mossad in Israel support the treaty, as well as many of the opposition parties in Israel, who certainly care about the security of their own nation.

However, the hard liner mullahs in Iran are skeptical, as well as the hard liners in Israel, the US and some other Western nations who stand in opposition to the consensus of the rest of the world.  Ironically, each of these groups commonly seek a full “hot war” between the sides to eradicate one side of the other, which more ironically would kill possibly hundreds of thousands or millions of the common people who support the deal.  

Many say they want to keep up the sanctions, which is actually a type of blockade that has been recognized internationally and historically as itself an act of war.  The “starvation policy” against Iran just hurts the common people there, while the nuclear program proceeds regardless of the suffering of the public.  The supporters know it will eventually end in an act of desperation, even if the West has to bait it, to finally get their blood-letting underway on a vast scale; the Versailles Treaty and its crushing reparations was effective in accomplishing this in what became Nazi Germany.  The pro-confrontation, anti-peace supporters say that the sanctions should continue, yet also say that they are not being effective enough in stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

I still have an even bigger problem – call me a traitor, but what fundamental right do we have to dictate how another nation chooses to construct its own defense?  Is our status in being a self-appointed “exceptional” state give us license to just tell people of other sovereign nations what they can or cannot do, under threat of violence from our overwhelming military superiority?  Have we permanently adopted the rights of “preemptive strike warfare” just like the Talmud-inspired policies in Israel for such, even though the ancient Christian theology of “just war” calls it immoral?  Have we taken a similar, consistent tack toward Israel itself, when it lied to our President about its nuclear program, denied it to the world, and cut a secret deal with France to build it in exchange for invading Egypt on behalf of France and the UK in the Suez War?  Since Iran has signed the binding Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Israel is a non-signatory, along with a handful of other states (India, Pakistan and North Korea), who is the real threat?  Who is the real “Axis of Evil”?

Many know that the agreement, hammered out by many nations to their satisfaction and teams of top weapons inspectors over months and years, has limited durations for its drastic scale back of nuclear processing and research of either ten years or fifteen years, based upon the operation.  Many now worry what happens when those days arrive, even though in the meantime, the deal increases the number of on-site inspectors dramatically, has a protocol for the removal of processed nuclear fuel and means to detect minute residues, and even a rigid protocol to immediately invoke original sanctions if it is broken.  I recently read from historian Karen Armstrong in her book Holy War that the Muslim culture sets a maximum periods of truces of ten years (most never lasted that long, because the Christian Crusaders routinely broke them).  This probably makes some logical sense, since things change amongst both parties, and the world and its conditions and issues that justify re-visiting most agreements over that length of time in any case.

However, I think I know the real reason why the negotiators on both sides agreed to this scale of duration of this ephemeral agreement, and why they cannot admit it in public.

It buys time for the hard-line mullahs to die off.

The people of Iran generally love the American people.  You should watch Anthony Bordain’s recent visit there on his CNN show – he was greeted very warmly as an American by the common people there, to his shock (he (and I) also loved their love of things American, like the custom street car show with hot rodded Camaros and Firebirds he witnessed amongst the young people).  Why they love us, I don’t know why – particularly after we overthrew (via the CIA and Norman Schwarzkopf’s dad) their democratically elected secular and progressive government in 1953, and installed a despot there.

You may say – then why do we see on our TV screens their streets filled with people chanting “Death to America”?  In actuality, the crowds look big but are limited – I bet you see similar chants from larger crowds of Tea Partiers at the Washington Mall.  Another thing I learned from the historian Karen Carpenter is that when they also chant that America is the “Great Satan”, they are referring to an Islamic view of Satan – not a great power that rivals God, but rather a tempter that causes man to sin and stumble.  They see America as tempting their people with immoral television programs (like popular international shows like Dallas and Baywatch), MTV and capitalistic greed.  In other words, they are concerned about the same things as Christians are here in America today (except for the “greed” thing – here we see it as a sign of “God’s blessing”).

Iranian President Rouhani, who helped negotiate this deal, is known as a political moderate, earning a Ph.D in Constitutional Law in Scotland.  He ran on a platform to secure a “civil rights charter” for ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, and for normalizing better relations with the West.  His progress in these matters is certainly debatable, but he operates in opposition to the Mullahs who sit above him in the Islamic State, including the “Principlists” who resist change there.  We as American Christians should pray for his success there, and protection.  He must also show the mullahs that he has not “sold out Iran” and must deal with a very conservative set of senior leaders.

If this or a similar deal would be approved, then it is likely at the conclusion that these “old guard” mullah fundamentalists would be long-buried and in Paradise (or wherever)), and the younger moderates like Rouhani and others in power.  This might be the best hope for us all globally in the short and medium term.

The trick is to get the “mullahs”, or fundamentalists who seek rather than try to avoid confrontation, on all sides to approve the deal, which may be a miracle if it succeeds.

This leads to my main point – we have many religious fundamentalist “mullahs” to get rid of in the West and good ol’ US of A as well right here in the next decade, if we are to survive.

The more secular ones (albeit who use religious imagery for their agendas) run institutions like the Republican Party, major conservative think tanks and key media positions.  The “true blue” religious fundamentalists, in their conservative evangelical, Reformed, and Catholic variants also control their own media empires, and hold powerful positions in para-church organizations like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and the like.

Their platforms would match the mullahs in Iran in many respects.  They would impose a personal morality and restrictions on private behavior and what people do with curtains drawn and while not disturbing others, claiming “sola scriptura” while ignoring Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 5 to not judge the world, rather leaving that to God (and furthermore, to actually engage with the most disreputable and immoral in society, as a sacred mission of the church).  They want to impose themselves or their designees as national leaders in setting up theocracies by conquering the “Seven Mountains” of society and “occupying” them, regardless of the rights of minorities, and then begin squashing out other Christian communities of other views who might be rivals or resist.  They also want to prevent the practice of other religious faiths, the construction of their houses of worship and even to deport those of other faiths or intern them – ideas that the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists would wholeheartedly applaud.  They would also want to impose severe punishments on those of differing views of personal morality (even importing the witch hunts to places like Uganda), including capital punishment in a manner that the Saudi extremists in charge would find common cause.

The key is that these leaders, whom you and I both know, are getting white-haired and long in the tooth, and they know their days are numbered.  Check out the attendance at the latest Bible Prophecy conferences (which have long become little more than paranoid conservative foreign policy pep rallies under a veneer of generic Bible ideas), which are ever-dwindling in numbers and getting older every day, even in this era of paranoid, well-publicized “Blood Moons” and “Harbinger” scares.   They are not indoctrinating enough young people into their Cold War, tribalistic views of an America on constant “red alert” to “save the world”  to keep the racket going, even with their Liberty, Bob Jones and Christendom colleges and university “madrassas” regularly cranking out small numbers of molded ideologues.  They are thus left as an elderly “Politburo” whose hold on power is rapidly slipping.

Sadly, the picture is much grimmer within Israel itself.  The peace-loving segment of Israeli society appears to be slightly less than half of the population based upon voting data, but their numbers may be dwindling as their youth leave in droves due to the high expense of living in Israel and the despicable conditions they see the Palestinians living under and the self-inflicted pariah status of their own nation as a (rightly) perceived apartheid state.  Meanwhile, the Ultra-Orthodox, while only comprising around 10 percent in contrast to the current 80 percent in Israel who are God-denying atheists (and thus who receive special favor from American evangelicals), are continuing to breed very large families with almost all members being on public assistance due to their Talmudic studies.  They already control the critical “swing vote” in their parliaments and thus wield disproportionate power to enforce Orthodox byzantine rules on their own Israeli people, but are growing so fast that their power will become dominant within a generation.  From this class come those who burn New Testaments in front of the Knesset, fire bomb churches and pastor’s homes, and attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and Christians or other aid workers who come to their assistance.

If we all can manage our own national and religious fundamentalist “mullahs”, in the USA, Iran, Israel and elsewhere, and their lust for an apocalyptic “hot war” to expedite the End of Days, sufficient to grandfather them out over the next decade, then the world would be a much safer, peaceful and unified place.