Wish I'd said that!

In recent decades, the ACLU has used its so-called "wall" to fight tooth and nail to prevent government sponsorship of the Pledge of Allegiance, memorial crosses, Ten Commandments displays, nativity scenes, Bible displays, and virtually every other acknowdgement of America's religious heritage.

At the same time, it is worthwhile to note that there have been some instances in which the ACLU has endorsed public displays of religion. For example, When New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani threatened to cut taxpayer funding from the Brooklyn Museum of Art for displaying a painting of the Virgin Mary with cow dung and pictures of female sexual organs pasted all over her body, the ACLU was first in line to defend the display. U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that New York City's elected officials were not allowed to place conditions on the museum's funding.

In another instance, the ACLU offered its support to the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts, after the agency sponsored an art show featuring "Piss Christ" - an exhibit consisting of a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine.

In the ACLU's myopic world, it appears that the only permissible publicly-funded displays of religion are those which blatantly mock or disparage the Christian faith.

-- Indefensible: 10 Ways the ACLU is Destroying America, Sam Kastensmidt, 2006

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Consider the source

Unless you've just awakened from deep hibernation, you're probably aware of the horrendous tragedy that occured in Japan only a day ago (and isn't over yet). Earthquakes are certainly not unknown in that multi-island nation, but they've never experienced the magnitude of damage that this event has incurred. An undersea quake some eighty miles offshore wrought panic and destruction in the cities and produced a tsunami with a wave crest up to twenty-three feet high;  traveling across the ocean faster than a Japanese bullet train, a literal wall of water pushing up to six miles inland in some areas, carrying buildings, vehicles, people, and the land itself along with it. Some experts are saying that the amount of flooding has actually changed the terrain on large expanses of Japan's eastern coastline, potentially reducing the actual land mass of the nation.

Along with the sudden disappearance of several entire coastal towns in Japan, the sea has also reclaimed huge tracts of agricultural land, which will put an even greater strain on national recovery and increased stress on the millions of sudden refugees, many of whom are not only without homes, but without jobs as well.

Add to all that the international concern as states of emergency have been declared at five reactors in two of Japan's nuclear power plants which have lost their ability to cool the cores, resulting in the possibility of a core meltdown. Such an event would potentially put many people at risk and stamp a huge question mark on efforts to increase our own nuclear power generation initiatives. It couldn't come at a worse time for us, as President Obama's policies continue to hamstring our power generation industry in general by throwing bureaucratic obstacles in the path of conventional power generation.

As with other tsunamis, the effect wasn't confined to Japan. Damage was experienced as far away as our own West coast, as waves up to six or eight feet high impacted Hawaii and the California coastline, destroying several boats and damaging a number of others. A California man was also reportedly swept out to sea. And the seismic activity doesn't seem to be over yet, with more than 125 subsequent quakes and rattles.

Which brings up an interesting line of thought. While I am a strongly-believing Christian, I've never been a "rapture-watcher," trusting that God will move when and how He wants to, not according to our desires or fears. However, events over the past few years have begun to make me pause and reconsider the bigger picture and the escatological timeframe.

For example: in Matthew, chapter 24 of the Bible, Jesus answers the questions of a follower: 3

"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a]these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Any of this sound oddly familiar? Of course, the earthquake thing is pretty obvious, since the planet has been hammered again and again, with increasing frequency and destruction. But famines - actual or anticipated - have become more prevalent in recent years than they have over the past century or so. Most famine in the world, though, is caused by man's greed, manipulation or mismanagement:

Food is power. We use it to change behavior, some may call it bribery. We do not apologize.”-Catherine Bertini, executive director of the U.N. World Food  Program.

What else?  Wars and rumors of wars...nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, etc.? Well, we've seen plenty of that, haven't we? Especially if you count recent "democratic" revolutions. There has in fact been another sort of tsunami; a wave of uprisings around the Mediterranean, and on a somewhat smaller and slightly less violent level, here in our own country.

If we accept the biblical pattern, we should also be looking out for the rise of false Christ-like figures and the persecution of Christians. So perhaps we should take people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, and others more seriously, as well as those figures currently being promoted as "the One" who is either here or coming soon. There has also been a noticable rise in the persecution and attacks on Christians in the rest of the world, and (thus far) less violently but unremittingly against all things Christian in Britain and the US as well.

Note that all this is only the beginning of sorrows, not the 'final act' of the play. And while my own theology teaches that most of this happened in or around 70 A.D., I tend to believe that God has a different way of looking at things than we do. The longer I study the Bible, the more it seems like a sort of mental hologram (with an infinite number of perspectives within itself, but always pointing in the same direction) than merely a two-dimensional storybook. That said, I tend to think that God repeats lessons over and over, because we never seem to grasp what He's trying to tell us.

Crock tears?  A few days ago Minnesota Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, went on MSNBC's The Last Word.  Ellison went on to state his opposition to Rep. Peter King's hearings on Muslim extremism in America. As might be expected, Ellison doesn't like the idea of his religion being singled out (or is it simply concern over being exposed?) as a vehicle for terrorism. Also as expected, Ellison was appearing on an extremely Left-friendly network, speaking to an admitted socialist, host Lawrence O'Donnell), during a segment titled, "King's Witch Hunt."

A couple of days later, during congressional testimony, Ellison played the "Beck card" by breaking down in tears as he related the story of Muslim NYC paramedic Mohammed Salman Hamdani, who was reportedly killed while responding to the Twin Towers on 9-11-01.  Being overly sentimental myself on some matters, I understand how strong emotions can suddenly creep up on some people as we become momentarily overwhelmed by strong feelings or sentiments. But while I appreciate the self-sacrifice of Mr. Hamdani (along with several hundred non -Muslims), I'm having trouble believing Mr. Ellison's uncharacteristic emotionalism. Perhaps I'mjust feeling the same brand of skepticism and cynicism the Left displays when Glenn Beck sheds a tear or two.

Nothing suggestive there, of course. But hey; we shouldn't point out any possible attempts to gin up a little sympathy,to convince people that Muslims aren't all that bad (and that's not what I'm saying; I'm saying that Muslims - or anyone else - who want to kill us are that bad). In an attempt at dilution and deflection, Ellison wants the hearings to be more inclusive. Beyond merely investigating the Muslim influence, he thinks the committee should be investigating the KKK and other organizations. He also wants more Muslim-friendly witnesses to balance the current roster out (although it is only natural he would prefer a preponderance of Muslim-friendly voices testifying. But it isn't the 'nice' Muslims that cause the concern). He seems to think there is no credible (meaning a Muslim) voice capable of presenting evidence against Islamic extremism, and that therefore the investigation has no legitimacy. To that I would suggest inviting notaby honest but lonely Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser and others, including former Muslims such as Walid Shoebat and others, who know intimately the violence and hatred within certain sects of Islam.

While I'm glad someone is finally holding hearings about the increasing presence of radical Islam in American mosques, to label it a "witch hunt" is unfair and misleading. The popular interpretation of that term implies an attempt to cast false blame on individuals or groups - much as the Left has done against the Right for decades, implying that the presence of conservative talk radio, the Tea Parties, the Boy Scouts, gun owners and others are somehow akin to having hordes of Timothy McVeighs lurking among us. But in fact, the majority of attacks (or attempted attacks) in this country over the past couple of decades has been committed by Muslim extremists or our own government.

Far from being a "witch hunt," King's congressional inquiry is about discovering the degree to which an ideology that is directly opposed to everything this nation stands (or used to stand) for, and which calls for the overthrow of our entire principles of governing (which most of our own politicians have fogotten) and merciless violence against all who disagree with it in the least measure. When you're just another chicken in the coop, isn't it reasonable to want the other chickens to know that there are foxes wandering around in there with you, dressed in feather overcoats?

I believe in America as a place where people can practice their faith as they wish, even if I personally disagree with it. However, there are limits to freedom. You cannot yell "Fire" in a crowded theater (unless there is actually a fire), and you cannot murder (or plan murder) simply because you claim it as part of your religion. No society is obligated to tolerate a religion, political party or cultural morality (or lack thereof) that threatens its very existence. Cultural change is one (inevitable) thing, national suicide is something else altogether.

Leaving humanity behind.  Speaking of cultural change - in its negative context - the wave of social disintegration continues across America. We're seeing a lot more instances where this rotten behavior has broken out in public places, including fast food joints.  Whether it is a can't-keep-a-straight-face rumble between transvestites arguing over which guy looks more like a girl, or young punks presumably fighting for the sheer thrill, or women beating each other to a pulp on a public bus, we seem to be rapidly descending toward a "Lord of the Flies" sort of savagery.

In another cultural affront, ABC television has once again shown its values - or utter lack thereof - in proposing a new "dramady" tentatively titled "Good Christian Bitches."  In what has been accurately described as an insult to women and Christians and probably has Walt Disney spinning in his grave, ABC has set off a firestorm of protest; to which I eagerly contribute my own little spark. 

As ParentsTelevisionCouncil president Tim Winter asked, “Would ABC even consider another faith to denigrate? Would they even consider a program title of a plot line based on ‘Bitches’ who were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish of Buddhist?  I suspect not, and I certainly hope not.  So why the double standard?”  Why, indeed? We are at a crossroads. Will we ever become the idealized society we grew up believeing in (evenif it never existed)?  Or are we doomed to a "dog-eat-dog" existence, fighting for every scrap and defending against all comers until we are overcome, and join the food chain at the bottom?

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