Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is it 1938 again for the Jews?

This is the scariest time for Jews since the Holocaust. I dare say that we woke up to a new world this morning. Hamas – an organization that exists to destroy Israel (and kill Jews) - won over 70% of the Palestinian vote! Hamas is bought and paid for by Iran, whose leader has stated, as his goal, the eradication of Israel. To call these goons “Islamo-fascists” is insulting to Mussolini! They’re far worse.

I think the world can be divided into three groups with regards to Jews and Israel: Those who hate the Jews and want them dead, those who are indifferent to this hatred, and Americans (at least those Americans who support Israel). The first group consists mostly of Muslim societies. Muslim literature today is as anti-Semitic as Nazi literature was. Hitler's "Mein Kampf" is a best seller in the Middle East. Jews have been expelled from nearly every Arab country, and the deliberate killing of Jews is celebrated throughout the Muslim Middle East. And it’s not only the Middle East. There are some 32 million Muslims in Europe, many of them radical and, therefore, anti-Semitic. Virtually every day in the past month Jews and synagogues were attacked by Muslims in Europe. Because Europe fears its Muslim population, and because of its own deep-seated anti-Semitism, Europe is the primary supporter of those who wish another Jewish Holocaust. The rest of the world is either pro-Arab (e.g., Russia, China, and my old home, South Africa) or totally oblivious to Israel’s fate (most of Asia and Latin America). America is Israel's only defender. America does not merely tolerate Jews, it honors them. The United States has always defined itself as “Judeo-Christian.” Though Christians founded the United States, the Old Testament played a big role in shaping America's identity. Thomas Jefferson even suggested that the seal of the United States depict Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. However, given the number of Americans, including American Jews, who are willing to throw Israel under the bus because they believe that “Zionism” is the cause of terrorism, is frightening. Even George W. Bush said something today that made the hair on my neck bristle. In response to the overwhelming Hamas electoral victory, Mr. Bush said, “This reminds me of the power of democracy.” Yeah, and Hitler’s electoral victory in 1933 was another jewel in the crown of world democracy.

So here we are, so soon after nearly every Jew in Europe was murdered, and the remnant that remains in the New Jersey-sized state of Israel is threatened with extinction. Just like in 1938, the world now seems to be divided between those nations that were about to murder Jews and those that would let it happen. It is almost unbelievable – almost.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Real Power of History

In my Church History class tonight I made the point that history is not about dates and facts – it’s about stories. Historical figures have a story. Their lives have background, full of experiences, passions, and flaws. History, above all else, attempts to answer the question, “Why?”

Here’s what I mean. I want to tell you about Tom and Sally – poor people just fighting for their very existence. Sally was an illegitimate child, born to a mother who was having an affair with a married man who threw her out. Eventually the child is born, and because of the mother’s reputation the child (Sally) is a pariah. And so history repeats itself. Sally falls in love with a man whose sister is the town prostitute – she wants to marry this man, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her. Now, along comes Tom – a pathetic guy. A real loser – as mean as a rabid dog. He was in love with a girl named Sarah. He asked Sarah, “Will you marry me?” And she said, “absolutely not, LOSER!” Tom then goes to the first woman he can find and marries her – it’s Sally. Eight months later (you do the math) a girl is born, and Tom insists that they name the little girl Sarah – after the woman he’s really in love with. Tom then gets it into his head that they have to move, and he wants to build their own house. But remember, Tom’s a lazy bum, so he only manages to put up three walls. So this poor family is now living in this crazy three-walled house with the rain and the snow coming in. Tom never finished the house. And then Sally gets pregnant again, and she gives birth to a boy and names the boy after the first loser she was in love with. Now Tom, who thought the boy wasn’t really his, wasn’t really friendly to this little boy. He worked the kid. I mean this was a battered kid. He worked the kid all day, he starved the kid, he whipped the poor boy. He was terrified of his father. Nothing he did was good enough for Tom. Sally, however, really loved her boy and told him, “The way out is through education.” So she taught him to read. The father disagreed. He said, “You gotta go out and work you worthless kid.” When the boy was 9, Sally died. What does Tom do? He just leaves – gone for a year. When people finally stumble on this crazy three-walled shack in the middle of nowhere the 2 kids are so emaciated, they’re just skin and bones – they had been foraging in the bushes for food! And then dad comes home – with a new wife – Sarah – the woman he always wanted to marry! And the beatings start all over again – the work and the beatings go on and on. The father slaps the kid in public, he humiliates him, and he goes on working him to the bone. Eventually, when the kid is 22, he leaves home to live in another town with nothing. He was emaciated, beaten, dirty, he was so poor he had no buttons on his shirt – he used thorns for buttons! He wandered into this town during a parade looking like a freak! But it wasn’t long until people were so impressed with how smart this kid was that they gave him a home and sent him to school. By the way, this guy never disciplined his own kids – they were wild. They would go into the office of their father’s business partner and just ransack the place, and they were never talked to or disciplined – he became the opposite of his father Tom. His wife made him name their own son after his father, Tom, which is why he never called his own son by his given name – he always used a nickname. He refused to say the name of his father. Years later, when he was famous, and people asked him why he was doing what he was doing, he said, “Because I relate. I know how bad slavery can be because of how my father – Thomas Lincoln treated me.”

You see, it is almost meaningless to memorize the Gettysburg Address or know that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation proclamation on January 1st 1863 if you do not know why, if you don’t know the personal background. I love history, don't you?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Restoration Plea

As most of you know, I am a Church of Christ preacher. We are part of the Stone-Campbell Restoration movement - a movement comprising three groups - Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and conservative Christian Churches. On Wednesday nights I am teaching a class called "Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America." I am having the time of my life! History rocks! Here's why.

Like most people, including preachers, I too get disillusioned and fed-up. Conservative Churches of Christ can be a tough place to work - people tend to get sqeaky about silly things! The line between tradition and doctrine tends to get blurred out when anti-sectarian sectarians rage against sectarianism and the traditions of denominational trappings and artificial structures with the sectarian weapons of tradition and artificial structures! Go ahead, wrap your head in duct tape! However, history has given me a whole new appreciation for what lies at the core of Churches of Christ - Christian unity. We are a unity movement - sometimes off course, sometimes confused, sometimes too uptight, sometimes too traditional - but our reason for being is Christian unity. That is noble. That's why I love Churches of Christ. That's why I preach for the Church of Christ. The early restoration leaders did not see restoration of NT Christianity as an end in itself, but rather as a vehicle for the goal of Christian unity.

For the past two weeks I've taught about Barton W. Stone. He preached for the Presbyterian Church in Cane Ridge, Kentucky from 1796-1804. In 1801 he and other Presbyterian ministers held a revival meeting. Between 20 and 30 thousand people came! For five days no one cared who was Presbyterian, who was Methodist, who was Baptist! Stone was inspired by this event. Of course the Presbyterian hierarchy was not, and, to make a long story short, he and 5 others left the Presbyterian Church in 1804. They simply called themselves "Christians," committed to the principle that if all Christians could agree on a few essentials, and ditch everything that caused division, we could at last honor Christ's plea for love and unity. What a goal! What an ideal! Two hundred years later that goal is still held up by some of us in the Restoration movement. Like Linda Ronstadt sang, "I don't know much, but I know I love you, and that may be all I need to know."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The "A" Word!

I have been watching some of the Alito hearings before the highly esteemed Senate Judiciary Committee for two days now hoping and praying for some honesty, intelligence, and an articulate set of both questions and answers - not banter about mother-in-law metaphors! Democrats bash Alito with lies, Republicans honor him with platitudes, and Alito himself just sits there, with an "open mind," doing a pretty good impression of a robot. Which brings up the real issue. Nobody wants to say it directly, few ask it directly, no-one dares answer it directly. And so we dance. The Senate and the nominee, waltzing around the law and the Constitution with shrill music, provided by special interests, reaching ever higher volumes. How come nobody wants to talk about abortion? It's what everyone wants to know. It seems to be the central issue - both on the left and the right. Which is where I come in - both left and right are out of touch with reality on the abortion issue. Here are my opinions, mixed in with a good serving of facts:

1) I am personally opposed to abortion. I think it is morally reprehensible - under all circumstances!

2) All polls indicate that the majority of Americans think abortion ought to remain legal - therefore I am in the minority on this issue.

3) Roe v Wade (1973) was a terrible decision - an abominable interpretation of the Constitution. Even liberal law professors (Lawrence Tribe of Harvard) admit this - therefore Roe v Wade ought to be overturned post haste, and no nominee to the Supreme Court ought to be afraid to say so.

4) Overturning Roe v Wade will have virtually zero effect on abortion in America. Roe v Wade simply incorporated the 14th Ammendement so that one state's allowing abortion applies to the other 49 states. If Roe is overturned all but about 5 of the 50 state legislatures will scurry to make abortion legal in their states.

5) Most Americans, including Senators, do not understand point number 4.

6) There is no right to abortion or privacy in the Constitution - there is, however, a right to own private property.

7) Therefore I am more concerned about overturning the recent (2005) Kilo v New London decision which gave local municipalities the right to confiscate private property and give it to developers if it expands their tax base.

So why can't Samuel Alito just say all that?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Lusts of the Flesh

Close this window right now and go to and marvel as the revolution continues. My new New Year's resolution: I must have one of these babies, preferably before my birthday - March 20th.