Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

November 11, once Armistice Day in which people celebrated the end of World War 1 and remembered how horrible and useless war is, was renamed Veterans Day in the US - though not elsewhere - and has become one of the high holy days of the religion of militarism.

Theologically, it is your standard pagan religion of human sacrifice.  Offer the holy blood of our children to the god, Molech or Baal Melkart, or in this case the national security state, and you will be blessed and prosper.  This holy blood ensures that we are safe and free.

All of this involves a lot of sentimental flattery of veterans, while carefully avoiding the reality that romanticizing their work in this way guarantees that more will be destroyed to no purpose in America's stupid and senseless wars without end.  How is that of any actual use to any present or future veteran that these devotees profess to love and honor?  Truly the proverb is fulfilled exactly upon veterans in this way: "A flattering tongue works ruin."

I was reminded today of how utterly impervious to reason the devotees of this cult are, and this made me realize in a new way what is at work here - survivor guilt.

Survivor guilt gets a lot of attention in the Bible, and rightly so, because it is one of the most powerful ways in which we are blinded by the fear of death.  Some examples:

- When Jesus told the apostles that he needed to die and that they could not follow, they just couldn't handle it.  First, they simply would not accept that it would happen.  "Far be it from you, Lord, that this should happen to you."  This led several times directly to arguments among them over who was the greatest.  And then when that truth could no longer be ducked, "Lord I will follow you to prison and to death!"  Which led directly to Peter forsaking Jesus and denying him.
- Moses survived only while other babies in his position died.  It's not clear, but that may have influenced his rescue of his fellow Israelite by killing the Egyptian.  Certainly his survival while his fellow babies died was something he had to look at.
- Jesus, too, lived only because Joseph had to take him out of town without warning other families of what Herod was likely to do to their babies.
- Before this, David in his own words occasioned the death of the priest Ahimelech and his entire family by showing up and getting help.  Saul's servant Doeg the Edomite was there, and as David said, "I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul."  David was unable to warn Ahimelech of his danger, but he knew what would happen, just as Joseph knew what would happen to the babies in Bethlehem.

We see here in Peter's case that survivor guilt, if not properly faced as David did, makes us absolutely stupid.  Mom says, "Eat, because children in Africa are starving," and this guilt trip works because the survivor guilt it creates makes the kid unable to ask how eating in the States when he's not hungry will keep anyone in Africa from starving.  His brain just turns off.

And this is an important part of why Americans simply cannot think when it comes to veterans.  These soldiers are occasionally killed, and quite often traumatized, in completely useless wars so that politicians - especially Democrats - can  show what big testicles they have,  so that war contractors can launder public money into their coffers, and to stir up trouble by the outrages that the American bombers and invaders commit so that the resulting blowback can justify more of the same.

None of this does a thing to make any of us safe or free, of course.  Had the US stayed out of Vietnam instead of going there and trashing the country while murdering around three million civilians, would the Vietnamese have robbed any American of his freedom?  If they had left Iraq alone instead of going over there and killing over a million civilians and driving millions from their homes, would we be any worse off than we are today?

All that this actually does is to cause our empire to be hated around the world, while giving our rulers ever more excuses to rob us of our freedoms and to plunder us for the benefit of the 1% who finance their campaigns and give them soft fat jobs when they leave office.  What in any of this does the average American have to be thankful for?

Bur survivor guilt makes the average American completely unable to even look at the obvious, never mind think it through properly.  Can this end well? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola lesson

The American people have gotten very excited about Ebola lately.

The objective threat is real, but for Americans not so dangerous at this point.  Ebola is not all that contagious, much less so than tuberculosis, which is also quite serious.  Ebola does not appear to be contagious until people actually begin to get sick.  We don't have to believe the authorities for this; if Ebola were contagious before symptoms, it would have been completely out of hand already.

Accordingly, Senegal and Nigeria both have had a few cases, but both nations seem to have completely stopped their outbreaks.  If Senegal and Nigeria can do it, the United States can probably manage.

But people have been inventing wild threats.  I see them saying that Hizbullah and ISIS is sending Ebola-infected people here to cause an epidemic.  Never mind that there is no Ebola in Lebanon, Syria or Iraq, and that a disease that is contagious only when you're sick is a poor choice of epidemic agents.  And other details, such as Hizbullah never having shown any interest in terrorist acts in the US.

In all of this, two things stand out.

One is that people simply don't trust the Centers for Disease Control and other government agencies to level with us.  This is the main reason for panic and for the failure of facts and reason to sober people up.  The reason for this is simple: our governments lie to us all the time about everything, and for all sorts of stupid reasons.  To get us into stupid wars.  To win the upcoming election.  To keep officials from being embarrassed.  When it comes to covering up and lying about it, the Obama regime has been worse than all before it.

Another is the cynical use of the epidemic to manipulate people's fears for short-term political gain.  In particular, the Republican Party sees nothing more important here than an opportunity to find fault with Obama, as though substantive complaints can't be found!  That's not taking things seriously. 

When people see that our rulers aren't taking serious things seriously, we don't feel safe.  We may differ on which party is worse on what issue.  But we all sense that we are ruled by evil clowns, even if we dispute  which ones are more clownish and evil.

All of this brings to mind the true proverb: "Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool; much less are lying lips to a prince."  And again: "Loyalty and truth preserve the king, and he upholds his throne by righteousness."

Our rulers in every sphere despise this counsel, not only in government but in our churches, in our educational institutions, in our medical system that runs on pharma company propaganda and bribes, in our food industry oriented to ruining our health to make more money, and so much more.

Ebola is not a big deal in the US, and almost certainly never will be.  But it shows how untrusted and illegitimate our governing institutions are, since the things by which they are preserved - loyalty, truth, and righteousness - are heartily despised. 

How does each of us feel about the importance of these qualities in our own lives?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

White and black

I've been away too long, involved in other things.  Some pleasant news: settled a case that looked like it was going to hearing, and with a full-court press: two different hearings, flyering the schools, the whole thing.  Nice when all that work can be avoided.

Of course there are two or three others shaping up to take its place, but we'll see.

As some of you know, we're getting it together to move out of here, although where is still unclear.  And we're making progress.  Gayle took a ride to her storage bin and hauled a third of it back here, and we processed a good bit of it.  Today, she put on a yard sale, and we got rid of serious crap, including a huge television we never actually watched.  We now have a patch of original carpet where it sat in its stand, and the color is dramatically different from everywhere else in the house.

The stand needed cleaning, and the water came out truly black.  This got me to thinking about blackness, which in this case is clearly associated with filth.

Filth is often dark, and the color of things often gets lighter when they're cleaned.  I'm convinced that this basic fact of the universe is in the foundations of racism, and the Bible addresses this.

There is a "blackness of darkness" (Jude 13).  But not all blackness is of darkness.  For instance the names of the sons of Israel are to be engraved on two onyx stones on the high priest's breastplate.  Onyx is black.

Then, too, purity from sin is white.  But so is leprosy.  This led in the wilderness to a little lesson on racism (Numbers 12).

Moses had married a Cushite woman, yes, a schwarze.  Aaron and older sister Miriam didn't like it and grumbled about it, so God summoned all three to the tent of meeting.  God appeared in the cloud and told them that Moses had exceptional favor with God, who spoke to him face to face, and that they needed to shut up about this.  The cloud lifted, and Miriam was a leper, white as snow.  Once they got that worked out, we may be sure that white didn't seem quite so right to Aaron and Miriam anymore.

Then, too, the sign that leprosy is healed when black hair grows in the lesion (Leviticus 13:37).

So then, black and white is not the whole story.  What kind of white, or what kind of black?  In particular, if you have a problem with somebody's tan - remember Miriam.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why do religion and hatred go together?

There is no shortage of religious haters in the world. I would be an unbeliever if the Bible didn't tell me to expect this. But run an eye through the prophets, and you'll notice who killed them. Run an eye over the gospels and you'll see who pursued Jesus to death. Notice who stoned the apostles and drove them out of town. You can't see things being just the way God tells you to expect and find that to be a reason not to believe in God. Be mad at God and argue with him about it, like Job or the writers of the Psalms, but you can't disbelieve somebody for telling you the truth and then it turns out that way.

Jew haters will answer that it's the Jews, but in that they're just showing how their hatred makes us stupid. The problem is religious people feeling competition from the truth, Jewish or not, as the past 1800 years have shown.  In fact, if you include the worship of Mammon as a religion - and how can we not? - I'd say that in the Bible all persecution is driven by religious "faith," without exception.  Go look.  Please find me any exceptions to the rule.

This is pretty sobering when I consider that I and others reading all this rather obvious stuff are the religious people in view. These warnings are directed to the reader.

Murderous religious people are generally pursuing redemption through who or what they hate, rather than humbling themselves in repentance, and generally by devoting themselves to some counterfeit salvation. We see this in others easily: Germans whirled away into their devotion to Hitler, or Communists in the 1930s in love with Stalin or, or later with Mao Zedong.

Only it doesn't do us much good to see this folly in other people.  Here the log-in-eye thing kicks in.  Christian Jew haters have blinded themselves by seeing this in Jews so as not to see it in themselves. American messianists, people who like Woodrow Wilson think that America is the savior of the world - he actually uttered this blasphemy in 1919! - worship their favorite empire in the same way, while being experts in seeing this problem in their favorite enemies. Rabbi Michael Lerner, in "Jewish Renewal," points out that American Jewish leaders quite consciously decided to form Jewish identity around the state of Israel, and that's the definition of idolatry, something besides the true God in which we find our identity. It doesn't look pretty when an idol fails you.

Zionism is idolatrous in its foundation anyway: Psalm 90 says that God is the dwelling place of the Jewish people from generation to generation, and Zionism says oh no, the needed dwelling place is a state of our own making. And God is not in the business of blessing an idol.

Actually, the best way to curse something or someone is to worship it, which is why Paul and his companions rushed into the crowd at Lystra and prevented them from offering sacrifice to them. Any reader of the Bible can see that the US and Israel are cursed because people worship them, thus making them into accursed things (Deuteronomy 7:25-26).  If that's not obvious in nations, see what happens to people you know when they're flattered in that way - husbands, for instance.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Religious futility

It's a mark of pagan religion, including most Christianity, to consider ethical conduct and religious devotion to be unrelated matters.  It's not easy for Christians to explicitly say that in the face of the Bible that they claim to believe, but that is obviously what they really believe - their Bibles be damned.  I deal with such, for instance, on school boards all the time.  Such religion is certainly worse than nothing.

I think it's unjust to call this simple hypocrisy, although it is hypocrisy of the utterly sincere kind we see in the Pharisees.  These hypocrites are not con-men.  They are zealously convinced of their religion.  It is what C. S. Lewis called the innocence of evil.  They believe, these Christians, what their gods teach them.  And all such religion in the world, the gods actually worshiped, simply do not see anything wrong with being zealous for God and given to any sort of depravity, because that religious devotion makes up for all that corruption. 

Well, yes, I have been doing little boys in the Sandusky manner, but celebrating Mass and hearing confessions is service to God that makes up for that.  Yes, the kids in our mission school are being beaten and raped, but we're proclaiming the gospel, so it's OK and indeed service to God to cover that up, because if we didn't - if we did the truth - the kingdom of God would be harmed because people wouldn't be believing our story about Jesus.  No marvel that these Christoids bring the same mentality everywhere they go in the world in whatever they do, whether serving on the school board or higher political office, or in businesses like Amway, or whatever. 

The faith that Jesus teaches has nothing in common with any of this.  It is all about the truth and nothing else.  In John 3, he said that the condemnation is this: that light comes into the world and men hate the light because their deeds are evil, something that he held to be the case when he was not yet on the scene personally. For Jesus it was not whether you professed to believe in him.  In John 8, some of them believed in him, and then he said a few things to these believers in him, identifying them as sons of the devil, and they picked up stones to kill him. 

When people came under condemnation for not believing him it was because, and only because, the truth before their face demanded that they believe in Jesus, and they could not, given what was before them, refuse to believe without denying the truth.  Unfortunately, that's not what happens much these days.  The reason people these days don't believe in Jesus is that the Jesus being presented to them is a lie.  They're not disbelieving because they're rejecting the truth.  They're disbelieving because they're rejecting religious garbage.  In spite of appearances, Jesus and his gospel are not actually even coming into it.

The only God that any Christian has any business presenting is the God who is worshiped by receiving and doing the truth, and who is denied by walking in the lie, however zealous for God we may be.  That doesn't happen much.  I can't speak of other times in which I haven't lived, but I find this a very tough time to live, and most religious assemblies worse than useless.  Paul wrote even in Corinth 1900 years ago that they were coming together not for the better but for the worse, and that sure hasn't stopped being true since he wrote it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hating the stranger, and proud of it

Last week a mob came to Murrieta to scream and spit at kids that had fled here, unaccompanied, to get away from the conditions where they lived.  It has to be pretty bad where you are, if your parents send you off on a 3000 mile journey by yourself - and not on Air France either.  These are desperate people.

As far as I am concerned, there is less excuse for these people than for the similar mobs that screamed and spat at little black kids going to school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, or New Orleans in 1960.  Some of them - as in those days - call themselves Christians, just the kind that has no interest in what Jesus had to say about strangers or children.

About the same time, Israel is again trashing Gaza, supposedly because people there have been shooting rockets into Israel.  These rockets began to fly, most immediately, because Israel was already obviously looking for a pretext to attack Gaza anyway, because they had just spent three weeks on a pogrom in the West Bank, supposedly to find three kidnapped boys which the government knew all along were already dead, and they were blaming the Hamas organization in Gaza which they knew perfectly well had nothing to do with it.  As a direct result, Hamas in Gaza hunkered down and could no longer send out teams to stop others from launching rockets, and so rockets got launched.

Israel now routinely acts like the Germans in 1938, and you can imagine how much worse they would be if they were not still somewhat afraid of European opinion.  Kristallnacht, as some of you may remember, was the German government's response to the assassination of a German consular official - opposed to the Nazis himself, as it happens - by a 17-year-old Jewish kid who was outraged by how the Jews were already being treated in Germany.  So the present Israeli conduct looks familiar to those of us with memories.

And the Israeli state has the audacity to call itself Jewish, the kind of Jews that have no interest in what Moses and the prophets had to say about how to treat strangers.

It's no marvel that this kind of "Christian" and this kind of "Jew," both obscenities in Christian or Jewish terms, find each other so attractive.

Here Matthew 24 comes in, which describes how things will be just before Jesus returns.  The reason it has been of great worth to us the past 2000 years before his return is that it describes not just that time, which could still be a long way off, but any time in which a civilization is collapsing.  It was instructive in Jerusalem in AD 70, and as Rome collapsed, and now as modern industrial civilization heads for history's dumper.

To my mind, the most critical point is this: "Because lawlessness is increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end will be saved."  It's obvious in that context that enduring to the end is not about shouting that Jesus is Lord - there's never any lack of that and never will be - but for our love not to grow cold in the face of increasing lawlessness.  Christians will have to find that that particular endurance needs for us to know Jesus and have him around.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Independence Day, again

One of the strange things for me is how many people think that the highest glory of this country, and those that serve it best, are the ones that kill people and break things.  I was reminded of this by a bunch of Unitarians singing the Star Spangled Banner tonight while watching the Disneyland fireworks display.  Yes, I well remember the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air - in Baghdad on March 19, 2003.  The Germans at least have learned to be ashamed of such conduct.

What I find especially strange about this is two things - first, am I the only one that realizes that breaking things is actually a whole lot less work, requiring far less ability, than building them?  I'm reminded of that every time I knock a bottle or a cup off the counter and then get to clean it up.

And isn't killing people, especially when you have fancy toys with which to do it, a lot easier, requiring far less ability, than healing people or building them up; and second, what is accomplished by such deeds?  Is vandalism and mayhem really the height of any nation's glory?

Why do they not instead glory in the effective teachers, or the speech and language pathologists, or bridge inspectors, or helpful and courteous clerks at the DMV, or any others that actually do something for the people of this country.