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Thoughts on the 2014 National Day of Prayer and a Big Reason to be Thankful

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Friends, I am traveling today and it is indeed the National Day of Prayer and the sinner that I am, I am always in need of prayer. Just to let you know that I do pray contrary to what some may think, I had good reason to pray today. Somehow on the trip I dropped my wallet and when I got to my mid way stop in Baltimore I didn’t have it. Near panic ensued as I looked everywhere I had been in the BWI terminal as well as called back to Norfolk where I departed.I saw my entire life flashing in front of my eyes and wondered if an identity thief was going to take me for everything I have before I could cancel all of my credit cards, not to mention the pain of getting new military ID and drivers license. I felt so incredibly stupid.

Finally after contacting the Staff College it looked like I was going to be heading home and missing the conference that I really needed to attend. A lady sitting near me took pity on me and gave me $20 so I could at least eat. I was grateful. After talking with our travel people I went to the desk agent at the Southwest gate where my Houston flight was to depart from and asked them what to do since I had no identification. They put my name in their computer and found that their gate agents in Norfolk had found the wallet. The young man at the gate worked with everything to not only get me back to Norfolk but, to arrange to get me my wallet and on another flight to get me to Houston late tonight. It was positively amazing. 

But what was really cool was that people who I didn’t know, who I don’t know if they are Christians, or any other religion or in fact if they had any faith at all stepped in to help me. I do not know or care what their political affilation, religion, Alma Mater is, or even if they are Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Someone turned in my wallet in Norfolk rather than making off with it. The airline personnel of Southwest Airlines went  above and beyond the call of duty to help me and to calm me, and yes I did need calming.

Other people, security and TSA at BWI and Norfolk tried to help. Then there was the kind lady who gave me $20. Since I routinely give to panhandlers because I have been poor before her act of kindness was quite touching. What is cool about this experience was that a bunch of good people cared about me. Like I said I don’t know any of them but they were wonderful and I am thankful, not just to God, but to the decent human beings who whatever their motivation were wonderful.

It will be a lot longer travel day than I had planned but my misadventure has shown me that we still have a lot of good and kind people in this country and that is something to celebrate.

Since I needed calming I was able to get me a big beer and now with that in hand waiting for my flight I give you my thoughts on the National Day of Prayer. I actually wrote this article last year, but since most people seem to think that the day is for the right wing political hacks at the “National Day of Prayer Task Force” founded in by Shirley Dobson in 1982, here is the real story. As the late Paul Harvey would have said “the rest of the story.”

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland

Today was the National Day of Prayer. The event was established by President Harry S Truman in 1952 was designed to mark the common freedom that we have as American citizens.

I am a big fan of religious liberty and critic of those that desire to establish any religion as the official religion of the country and in doing so suppress the rights of others. An attempt was made in the North Carolina State Legislature early this year to establish the right of the state to establish a religion in complete disregard of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina. Part of the text of that bill, which was killed in committee stated:

“The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

I do feel that there are those that want to use such occasions as today’s observance of the National Day of Prayer as a means to establish their religion, as the law of the land. However, if we actually look at our history such is not the case and was never the intent of our founders or those that established the National Day of Prayer.

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President Truman’s proclamation stated:

“Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.”

Ronald Reagan eloquently stated the purpose and significance of the National Day of Prayer in his 1983 proclamation which in part read:

It took the tragedy of the Civil War to restore a National Day of Prayer. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

Revived as an annual observance by Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer has become a great unifying force for our citizens who come from all the great religions of the world. Prayer unites people. This common expression of reverence heals and brings us together as a Nation and we pray it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 5, 1983, National Day of Prayer. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.

President Reagan’s 1983 and subsequent proclamations stood firmly in the American tradition of Civil Religion and was decidedly non-sectarian.  It acknowledged that our citizens “come from all the great religions of the world” and called on Americans to gather on the day “in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.”

While the American religious tradition is highly Christian and even more so from the Reformed tradition this has always existed in tension with a decidedly secularist philosophy embodied by many of the Founding Fathers who were very careful to recognize the importance of religion but at the same time both sought to protect religious liberty by NOT enacting laws to establish a particular religion nor to entangle the government in the affairs of religion which could in their view be detrimental to true religious liberty.

In fact both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were very careful about proclamations and ensuring that government was not favoring any particular religious body. Jefferson wrote to Reverend Samuel Miller in 1808 that:

Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. …civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

Madison who was the author of the Bill of Rights and included religious liberty in the First Amendment in support of Virginia Baptists who were under pressure from those who were determined to make and keep the Episcopal Church as the state religion of the commonwealth. Madison wrote to Edward Livingston in 1822 that:

“There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution. Whilst I was honored with the Executive Trust I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms. In this sense, I presume you reserve to the Govt. a right to appoint particular days for religious worship throughout the State, without any penal sanction enforcing the worship.”

President Obama’s 2013 Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer stands in line with the founders as well as that of Presidents Truman and Reagan. It calls Americans to join with him to:

Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.

Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.

All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.

On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.

However, no matter how similar President Obama’s proclamation is to those of President Reagan or Truman or for that matter any other President with the exception of President George W Bush, he is attacked by people on the extremely partisan political right World Net Daily columnist Bob Unruh and others for supposedly “cleansing the day of prayer of Christianity.”

The fact that Unruh and others like him routinely engage in this behavior makes me tired. The real fact of the matter is that most of the men who helped establish the freedom of religious faith and practice in this country were decidedly not very Christian and determined not to repeat the tragic mistakes of European nations which had both established state religions or churches and had on numerous occasions entered into bloody warfare to ensure that their religion came out on top.

But for them that is par for the course. Unruh and so many others are such strong advocates for a Christian Theocracy, something that it is perfectly obvious to me that they have no understanding of history, our Constitution or the ideals of our founders. It is a common theme that runs through all that they do. I have written about them many times before so I won’t go into gory detail today. I’d like to but I won’t, if you want to find my articles just search under the term “religious liberty” or look on my Civil Rights or Faith and Life pages.

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Our founders were so opposed to the idea of a State Religion that in one of the first treaties entered into with another nation, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796 drafted by the future President John Adams noted in Article 11:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

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Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom:

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 

Madison wrote:

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”

John Leland, leader of the Virginia Baptists who were being persecuted by Episcopalians intent on re-establishing themselves as the official State Religion of Virginia became involved in the fight for religious liberty in the newly independent colonies wrote:

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Leland heavily influenced both Madison and Jefferson in crafting the Virginia statement on religious liberty and the First Amendment. Toward the end of his life Madison wrote:

“The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law; that rival sects, with equal rights, exercise mutual censorships in favor of good morals; that if new sects arise with absurd opinions or over-heated imaginations, the proper remedies lie in time, forbearance, and example; that a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with a toleration, is no security for and animosity; and, finally, that these opinions are supported by experience, which has shewn that every relaxation of the alliance between law and religion, from the partial example of Holland to the consummation in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, &c., has been found as safe in practice as it is sound in theory. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established by law in this State. On the Declaration of Independence it was left, with all other sects, to a self-support. And no doubt exists that there is much more of religion among us now than there ever was before the change, and particularly in the sect which enjoyed the legal patronage. This proves rather more than that the law is not necessary to the support of religion” (Letter to Edward Everett, Montpelier, March 18, 1823).

I am all in on religious liberty including the rights of people that are not Christians to practice whatever faith or non-faith that they please. This is the freedom that our founders fought to bring forth in this land.

Today we celebrated the National Day of Prayer and I had the privilege of leading our prayer at our facility. I have included that prayer here:

Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of living in this country where our founders were wise enough to neither establish nor forbid any religious practice. We thank you that as the beneficiaries of the wisdom handed down by these men that we have the liberty to believe and practice our faith in the manner that we see fit and that whether Christian or Jew, Moslem or Wiccan, Buddhist or any other faith represented in our land that we have this freedom. We thank also thank you for the freedoms granted to all, the freedom to believe, practice and even not believe as our conscience dictates and that Congress can enact no law to either establish a state religion nor prevent the free exercise of the beliefs of any citizen. 

For the wisdom and the foresight of these fallible men whose actions redound to us we give you thanks.  We pray this in your Holy Name. Amen. 

So as the time draws near to go to bed and I offer my night prayers for all, I do wish you the peace and freedom that so many Americans have fought and died to maintain.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

 

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Filed under christian life, civil rights, faith, laws and legislation, News and current events, Religion

Conservative Heresy 101: The Conservative Bible Project

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Andy Schlafly 

Well it is the New Year and there is no way better to celebrate it than by excoriating the methods of a group of Conservatives who are busily re-writing the Bible according to “Conservative principles.”

These people are the very same people who call Pope Francis a Marxist and condemn anyone who sees the strong message of social justice that is found throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament prophets and the words of Jesus in the Gospels. For these people the issue is not what the Bible says, but how they can get it to line up with their political and economic ideological goals. The Conservative Bible Project  is so bad that even wing nuts like World Net Daily’s editor in chief Joseph Farah said: “I’ve seen some incredibly stupid and misguided initiatives by ‘conservatives’ in my day, but this one takes the cake…there is nothing conservative about re-writing the Bible.”

I may be considered by some to be a Liberal but I do hold Scripture in high regard. Thus although I am very open to good research, linguistics, archeology and other methods to re-examine the texts since time nor discovery knows no limits, I do object to those that re-write Scripture to fit their theological and even more evil their political bias. How someone interprets Scripture in light of their theology, something called Hermeneutics, is within the bounds be it conservative or liberal of whatever theological school. However, re-writing the text to make it say things it does not say is neither scholarly nor is it honest. Unfortunately it is happening and the group doing the greatest to destroy the legitimacy of Scripture is a conservative Christian group with ties to the most extreme elements of the political right in the United States.

I ran across this initially on my friend Joel Watts’ website back in 2009. Joel is a real Bible scholar and his website Unsettled Christianity.com is really good and the site of some very good scholarly debate. (The link to Joel’s article is here: http://unsettledchristianity.com/2009/10/get-the-liberal-stuff-out-of-our-bible/ ) I wrote about it back in 2009 because initially I thought that it had to be some kind of joke. Today I am simply cleaning up that article and making sure that it is still accurate. Sadly it is.

The Conservative Bible Project sounds like something that one might read in “The Onion.”  Unfortunately it is part of the conservapedia.com movement which was founded by Andrew Schlafly. Andrew is the son of Phyllis “I won’t censure my associates who suggest a violent revolution” Schlafly the ancient embittered head of the Eagle Forum.

When I first came across the project I found the whole thing amazing.  I guess that is because I never thought that any Christian who holds to any kind of orthodoxy would “translate” the Bible through a political and economic hermeneutic rather than a theological one.

But this is exactly what the folks at the Conservative Bible Project have done and continue to do.  What they have written is simply so rich in contradiction, irony and mixed with enough hubris and heresy to make it almost as fun to critique as the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation, if they weren’t serious.

Admittedly the bias of any team of translators shows in any Bible translation, it cannot be helped.  Translators are human and their theological and preferences can be seen in the translation of passages in which they may differ with other camps.  This does not mean at all that any of these folks are being dishonest but rather they are seeking to best interpret the words of Scripture but are guided influenced by their theology and underlying hermeneutic.  Likewise there can be differences due to the translators attempting to communicate the idea and meaning versus trying to make a close word for word translation.  However these translations, excepting the Jehovah’s Witless New World Translation, actually can claim that their translators are attempting to be as forthright as possible in their translation attempt within the limits of their theology and interpretive hermeneutic.

But now we come to the Conservative Bible Project.  This is a brazen attempt to re-write the Bible based on a conservative-libertarian political and economic basis rather than on any kind of theological principle.  The project is shameless as it seeks to re-interpret or exclude passages of Scripture that have been believed as Canonical by the Church since the Canon of Scripture was finalized.  If it is bad for “liberals” to take liberties with the Biblical text it is equally wrong for so called “conservatives” to do so.  So before I keep ranting, which I would like to I will let the creators of this alleged “translation” speak for themselves.  If you don’t believe me the link is here:

http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

Before you read any of the rest of this you need to read the prologue to the Conservapedia site and if you need to check the link is here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia 

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The Introduction to Conservapedia

Schlafly’s Conservapedia is an English-language wiki-based Web encyclopedia.  Schlafly’s project is written from an Americentric and Conservative Christian perspective. It is anti-science and holds to a Young Earth Creation view.  Schlafly, a lawyer and social studies teacher started it in 2006. Schlafly started the project because he felt that Wikipedia “had a liberal, anti-Christian, and anti-American bias.”

The “translators” of the Conservative Bible display an acute sense of distrust and paranoia in the preface to their “Bible.”

“The untaught and the unstable twist [Paul’s letters] to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16

By this verse, we should not put absolute authority in “official” Bible translators – such as those of “The Message” or “The Green Bible”. Instead, we should translate for ourselves, or in a collaborative effort with others we personally trust.

That is where they begin, with their own translation of scripture, a smearing of other translators and the hubris that only they can be trusted.

The following is the article about the Conservative Bible Project taken from Conservepedia verbatim. I have made no edits and even included their hyperlinks.  I begin with their underlying presupposition which comes from their “notes” section. I had to highlight the last part because it shows the depravity of the thinking of these people. It all come their website. I didn’t make it up.

Why They Are Doing this

  1. The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.
  1. Additional less important guidelines include (1) adherence to a concise and dignifying style, such as use of “who” rather than “that” when referring to people and also use glorifying language for the remarkable achievements and (2) recognizing that Christianity introduced powerful new concepts that even the Greek and Hebrew were inadequate to express, but modern conservative language can express well.

The rest of the article follows:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts of Christianity
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English.[1]

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

  1. 1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. 2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
  3. 3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
  4. 4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
  5. 5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[5] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
  6. 6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. 7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. 8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
  9. 9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. 10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles. The translated Bible can be found here.

Benefits to participants include:

  • mastery of the Bible, which is priceless
  • mastery of the English language, which is valuable
  • thorough understanding of the differences in Bible translations, particularly the historically important King James Version
  • benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow

How long would this project take? There are about 8000 verses in the New Testament. At a careful rate of translating about four verses an hour, it would take one person 2000 hours, or about one year working full time on the project.

Possible Approaches

Here are possible approaches to creating a conservative Bible translation:

  • identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as “government”, and suggest more accurate substitutes
  • identify the omission of liberal terms for vices, such as “gambling”, and identify where they should be used
  • identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations, and propose where they could improve the translation
  • identify terms that have lost their original meaning, such as “word” in the beginning of the Gospel of John, and suggest replacements, such as “truth”

An existing translation might license its version for improvement by the above approaches, much as several modern translations today are built on prior translations. Alternatively, a more ambitious approach would be to start anew from the best available ancient transcripts.

In stage one, the translation could focus on word improvement and thereby be described as a “conservative word-for-word” translation. If greater freedom in interpretation is then desired, then a “conservative thought-for-thought” version could be generated as a second stage.

Building on the King James Version

In the United States and much of the world, the immensely popular and respected King James Version (KJV) is freely available and in the public domain. It could be used as the baseline for developing a conservative translation without requiring a license or any fees. Where the KJV is known to be deficient due to discovery of more authentic sources, exceptions can be made that use either more modern public domain translations as a baseline, or by using the original Greek or Hebrew.

There are 66 books in the KJV, comprised of 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 788,280 words.[6] The project could begin with translation of the New Testament, which is only 27 books, 260 chapters, 7,957 verses, and less than 200,000 words.

Retranslation at rate of 20 verses a day would complete the entire New Testament in about a year. With 5 good retranslators, that would be an average of only 4 verses a day per translator. At a faster rate of 20 verses per day by 5 good translators, the entire New Testament could be retranslated in less than 3 months.

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First Example – Liberal Falsehood

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:[7]

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

Second Example – Dishonestly Shrewd

At Luke 16:8, the NIV describes an enigmatic parable in which the “master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” But is “shrewdly”, which has connotations of dishonesty, the best term here? Being dishonestly shrewd is not an admirable trait.

The better conservative term, which became available only in 1851, is “resourceful”. The manager was praised for being “resourceful”, which is very different from dishonesty. Yet not even the ESV, which was published in 2001, contains a single use of the term “resourceful” in its entire translation of the Bible.

Third Example – Socialism

Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the “social justice” movement among Christians.

For example, the conservative word “volunteer” is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word “comrade” is used three times, “laborer(s)” is used 13 times, “labored” 15 times, and “fellow” (as in “fellow worker”) is used 55 times.

Advantages to a Conservative Bible Online

There are several striking advantages to a conservative approach to translating the Bible online:

  • participants learn enormously from the process
  • liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – become easier to recognize and address
  • by translating online, this utilizes the growing online resources that improve accuracy
  • supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions
  • the project can adapt quickly to future threats from liberals to biblical integrity
  • access is free and immediate to the growing internet audience, for their benefit
  • the ensuing debate would flesh out — and stop — the infiltration of churches by liberals 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
  • this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today

References

  1. The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.
  2. Additional less important guidelines include (1) adherence to a concise and dignifying style, such as use of “who” rather than “that” when referring to people and also use glorifying language for the remarkable achievements and (2) recognizing that Christianity introduced powerful new concepts that even the Greek and Hebrew were inadequate to express, but modern conservative language can express well.
  3. The NIV has supplanted the KJV in popularity.
  4. For example, in 1611 the conservative concept of “accountability” had not yet developed, and the King James Version does not use “accountable to God” in translating Romans 3:19; good modern translations do.
  5. For example, the English Standard Version (2001) does not use the word “gamble” anywhere in translating numerous references to the concept in the Bible.
  1. http://www.biblebelievers.com/believers-org/kjv-stats.html
  1. Quoted here from the NIV.

Wow! That was a lot of fun huh?  The fun continues sports fans, here are the guidelines that they list for their project are below and the link is here, again I make no edits: http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible

The Conservative Bible is the product of the Conservative Bible Project. This is uniquely built on two bedrock principles:

  • online translating using the collaborative wiki software improves the final result if guided by good rules
  • the rules guiding this translation are to use and be informed by conservative insights and terminology

To the best of our knowledge, this project is the first to utilize either of the above principles in translating the Bible.

Here lists the 66 books of the Holy Bible to be translated in this project, with the ones having links already being works-in-progress:[1]

A Warning from the Conservative Bible Project Editiors: 

It is very important to translate the Bible correctly. As it is written, “I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book” (Revelation 22, 18-19). See also Deuteronomy 4:2 (Conservative Bible): “Do not add to the word that I command you, and do not subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”

And yet there’s more…

Sorry that part was so good I had to highlight it.  In light of what you see next you have to love the quotation out of Revelation that they use in the passage above.

I love irony, that’s why some of my clothes go to the cleaners and the rest are permanent press.   I think they’ll need to get some plague insurance and maybe even get their tickets ready for their all expense paid trip the Lake of Fire Resort and Eternal Time Share.  Just so you can read a few of their “translations” in John’s Gospel I have pasted them here.  If you need to see them the link is here:  http://conservapedia.com/John_1-7_%28Translated%29

In the beginning was Truth, and the Truth was with God, and the Truth was God. (John 1:1)

And the spirit was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only child of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

And from Mark: http://conservapedia.com/Gospel_of_Mark_%28Translated%29

“I have baptized you with water, but He shall baptize you with the Divine Guide.” (Mark 1:8)

The intellectuals watched Jesus to see if he might catch and accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. (Mark 3:2)

The intellectuals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:6)

Furious, the intellectual classes wanted to seize him, but feared the public; they knew this parable was directed at them. They gave up for now and walked out. (Mark 12:12)

Final thoughts

So just a cursory examination shows that though they are serious that this cannot be taken seriously as a real translation, but it should if it ever comes to fruition be condemned.  Liberal or Conservative this kind of behavior is repugnant. I wonder what Pugs have to do with it anyway, but this is dangerous stuff.  It represents a paradigm shift in how some Conservatives who at one time could be counted on to have a high view of Scripture now do great violence to the text.

Their motivation could not be any more crass, to buttress an American centric ultra conservative political and economic ideology by re-writing the Bible.  This shows incredible hubris on the part of these guys first to make these assumptions and then to recommend removal of parts of the Bible that they deem objectionable because the verse is only in one Gospel.  Likewise the use of “powerful conservative words” is only understood by their definition of such terms found here: http://conservapedia.com/Essay:Best_New_Conservative_Terms

Putting it kindly these guys are hacks.  They are so fearful of anything that they don’t agree with that they have to re-write the Bible to make it fit their ideological beliefs. They are fundamentally dishonest in their approach.

I do think it is funny that they rename the Pharisees as “the Intellectuals.” That is rich.  Likewise referring to the Logos as “the Truth” is really taking liberties with the text to say the “Spirit being made flesh” does violence to the orthodox understanding of the Trinity, as does calling the Holy Spirit the “Divine Guide.” That last part actually sounds a little “new age” to me.

At the same time if these guys were not deadly serious it would be funny as hell.  As I initially noted when I first read about it I thought it had to be some sick joke put out by a satire publication like the Onion.  I had some conversations with Joel and some of the other guys commenting on his site and find this simply amazing.  The link to his article and the comments is here:  http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/2009/10/get-the-liberal-stuff-out-of-our-bible/

Anyway, the topic did energize me just because of its malignancy as well as the fun I had with it.  As you guys know I’m pretty much a want everyone to get along. I am an Old Catholic with strong middle of the road Anglican Ethos valuing Scripture, Reason and Tradition. I happened to graduate from a pretty solid Southern Baptist Seminary.  That means that for Andy Schlafly and his bunch I’m definitely on the Highway to Hell so I’d better change my default ring-tone on my cell phone to it just to remind me of where they have me going every time someone calls me.

Peace Baby and Rock on,

Padre Steve+

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Thoughts on the 2013 National Day of Prayer

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-worship-1

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland

Today was the National Day of Prayer. The event was established by President Harry S Truman in 1952 was designed to mark the common freedom that we have as American citizens.

I am a big fan of religious liberty and critic of those that desire to establish any religion as the official religion of the country and in doing so suppress the rights of others. An attempt was made in the North Carolina State Legislature early this year to establish the right of the state to establish a religion in complete disregard of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina. Part of the text of that bill, which was killed in committee stated:

“The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

I do feel that there are those that want to use such occasions as today’s observance of the National Day of Prayer as a means to establish their religion, as the law of the land. However, if we actually look at our history such is not the case and was never the intent of our founders or those that established the National Day of Prayer.

harry-truman

President Truman’s proclamation stated:

“Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we also give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.”

Ronald Reagan eloquently stated the purpose and significance of the National Day of Prayer in his 1983 proclamation which in part read:

It took the tragedy of the Civil War to restore a National Day of Prayer. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

Revived as an annual observance by Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer has become a great unifying force for our citizens who come from all the great religions of the world. Prayer unites people. This common expression of reverence heals and brings us together as a Nation and we pray it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history. This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 5, 1983, National Day of Prayer. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.

President Reagan’s 1983 and subsequent proclamations stood firmly in the American tradition of Civil Religion and was decidedly non-sectarian.  It acknowledged that our citizens “come from all the great religions of the world” and called on Americans to gather on the day “in homes and places of worship to pray, each after his or her own manner, for unity of the hearts of all mankind.”

While the American religious tradition is highly Christian and even more so from the Reformed tradition this has always existed in tension with a decidedly secularist philosophy embodied by many of the Founding Fathers who were very careful to recognize the importance of religion but at the same time both sought to protect religious liberty by NOT enacting laws to establish a particular religion nor to entangle the government in the affairs of religion which could in their view be detrimental to true religious liberty.

In fact both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were very careful about proclamations and ensuring that government was not favoring any particular religious body. Jefferson wrote to Reverend Samuel Miller in 1808 that:

Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. …civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

james_madison

Madison who was the author of the Bill of Rights and included religious liberty in the First Amendment in support of Virginia Baptists who were under pressure from those who were determined to make and keep the Episcopal Church as the state religion of the commonwealth. Madison wrote to Edward Livingston in 1822 that:

“There has been another deviation from the strict principle in the Executive Proclamations of fasts & festivals, so far, at least, as they have spoken the language of injunction, or have lost sight of the equality of all religious sects in the eye of the Constitution. Whilst I was honored with the Executive Trust I found it necessary on more than one occasion to follow the example of predecessors. But I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith & forms. In this sense, I presume you reserve to the Govt. a right to appoint particular days for religious worship throughout the State, without any penal sanction enforcing the worship.”

President Obama’s 2013 Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer stands in line with the founders as well as that of Presidents Truman and Reagan. It calls Americans to join with him to:

Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.

Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.

All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.

On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.

However, no matter how similar President Obama’s proclamation is to those of President Reagan or Truman or for that matter any other President with the exception of President George W Bush, he is attacked by people on the extremely partisan political right World Net Daily columnist Bob Unruh and others for supposedly “cleansing the day of prayer of Christianity.”

The fact that Unruh and others like him routinely engage in this behavior makes me tired. The real fact of the matter is that most of the men who helped establish the freedom of religious faith and practice in this country were decidedly not very Christian and determined not to repeat the tragic mistakes of European nations which had both established state religions or churches and had on numerous occasions entered into bloody warfare to ensure that their religion came out on top.

TreatyofTripoli

Our founders were so opposed to the idea of a State Religion that in one of the first treaties entered into with another nation, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1796 drafted by the future President John Adams noted in Article 11:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

thomas_jefferson_rect

Jefferson wrote in the Virginia Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom:

Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 

Madison wrote:

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”

leland-1-1

John Leland, leader of the Virginia Baptists who were being persecuted by Episcopalians intent on re-establishing themselves as the official State Religion of Virginia became involved in the fight for religious liberty in the newly independent colonies wrote:

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.  The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Leland heavily influenced both Madison and Jefferson in crafting the Virginia statement on religious liberty and the First Amendment. Toward the end of his life Madison wrote:

“The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law; that rival sects, with equal rights, exercise mutual censorships in favor of good morals; that if new sects arise with absurd opinions or over-heated imaginations, the proper remedies lie in time, forbearance, and example; that a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with a toleration, is no security for and animosity; and, finally, that these opinions are supported by experience, which has shewn that every relaxation of the alliance between law and religion, from the partial example of Holland to the consummation in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, &c., has been found as safe in practice as it is sound in theory. Prior to the Revolution, the Episcopal Church was established by law in this State. On the Declaration of Independence it was left, with all other sects, to a self-support. And no doubt exists that there is much more of religion among us now than there ever was before the change, and particularly in the sect which enjoyed the legal patronage. This proves rather more than that the law is not necessary to the support of religion” (Letter to Edward Everett, Montpellier, March 18, 1823).

I am all in on religious liberty including the rights of people that are not Christians to practice whatever faith or non-faith that they please. This is the freedom that our founders fought to bring forth in this land.

Today we celebrated the National Day of Prayer and I had the privilege of leading our prayer at our facility. I have included that prayer here:

Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of living in this country where our founders were wise enough to neither establish nor forbid any religious practice. We thank you that as the beneficiaries of the wisdom handed down by these men that we have the liberty to believe and practice our faith in the manner that we see fit and that whether Christian or Jew, Moslem or Wiccan, Buddhist or any other faith represented in our land that we have this freedom. We thank also thank you for the freedoms granted to all, the freedom to believe, practice and even not believe as our conscience dictates and that Congress can enact no law to either establish a state religion nor prevent the free exercise of the beliefs of any citizen. 

For the wisdom and the foresight of these fallible men whose actions redound to us we give you thanks.  We pray this in your Holy Name. Amen. 

So as the time draws near to go to bed and I offer my night prayers for all, I do wish you the peace and freedom that so many Americans have fought and died to maintain.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Start by Prosecuting Me: A Challenge to the Drumhead Justice of World Net Daily’s Erik Rush and Joseph Farrah

Few things work me up more than those that seek to find “legal and constitutional” means of silencing dissent. The Nazis were great at using the Weimar Constitution to silence, prosecute, jail and finally kill their opponents.

I never thought I would see Americans who allegedly are Christians seek to find ways to interpret the Constitution of this country in ways that would silence and deny legal and constitutional rights to those that they disagree.

I am reminded of the words of Patrick Stuart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation. In one episode called The Drumhead Picard makes the following observation after he has been brought to trial by justice gone mad.

“With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.

Although fictional the words are more than true. In a column today Erick Rush a columnist for Joseph Farrah’s wonderful pile of cyber rubbish World Net Daily proposed a way to forge those links.

“Those whose speech and actions impinge upon the God-given rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution are, by definition, excepted from protection under the First Amendment (as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment). This is a very important concept to consider, because it is based on these presumptions of protected speech and equal protection for all that progressives and socialists have engaged in their predation upon our liberties.

If these truths can be acknowledged and widely accepted as such (as opposed to progressives’ Orwellian interpretations), then the political disenfranchisement of liberals, progressives, socialists and Marxists can begin in earnest, and in the open.” Erik Rush World Net Daily http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/how-to-disarm-the-mainstream-media/

Rush and Farrah and the World Net Daily site are incredibly popular among many of the supposedly “Christian Right” and a bastion of conspiracy theorists and proponents of a Christian Theocracy.

What is written above are the last two paragraphs of Rush’s latest article which deals with ways to silence the “mainstream media” or for that matter anyone that disagrees with his or the editors of World Net Daily’s ideas of what the framers of the Constitution and writers of the Declaration of Independence believed.

To cut to the chase here. Rush and many others believe that unless someone agrees with their interpretation of history and the Constitution that they “are excepted from protection under the First Amendment.” He further argues that if his view of the Constitution or “these truths” can “be acknowledged and widely accepted….then the political disenfranchisement of liberals, progressives, socialists and Marxists can begin in the earnest and in the open.”

Rush and people like him really have no clue. If the government can silence one group it can silence another. The same propositions that Rush and those like him can be used against them, and in other countries where “Christians” or those of other religions that desire theocratic states can be, has been and is being used against dissenting minorities including Christians.

For my conservative Christian readers and friends just imagine if a liberal wrote something like “be acknowledged and widely accepted….then the political disenfranchisement of conservatives, Libertarians or Christians can begin in earnest and in the open.” How would you respond? Civil and religious liberties are a two way street.

As a career military man, historian priest and theologian who has served combat tours and seen results of the oppression and hatred generated by those that promote their religion and rights above those that they disagree I dare say that you do not represent the ideals of the founders of the this country. You represent the tyranny that was best exemplified by the leaders of the European State religions that our founders fled.

I am sorry that most of your readers can’t and won’t see this. But you are no better and little different than the Taliban or the Shi’a and Sunni Terrorists that held Iraq in tyranny and that killed many American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.  You are religious bigots that label anyone that does not agree with you are heretics and unbelievers who have no rights to anything. If you find that offensive that’s just too bad. deal with it.

I have had to deal with the hatred and rejection of supposed followers of Christ for a while now and  I figure if you and people like you ever get their way that even though I am small I will be a target.

So go ahead Mr. Rush and Mr. Farrah, you don’t need to start with the mainstream media, start with bloggers like me. We’re small, we don’t have multitudes of lawyers of money.  However, unlike either of you I have spent my life serving this country and going into harm’s way so you can have a soapbox to preach on. From your biographies I know that you and the vast majority of your writers and columnists have not have not served a day in uniform or risked anything for this country. So I dare you to start with me. I will fight you until I draw my last breath.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Me Myself and Hurricane Irene

In my half century of life I have been through major earthquakes and numerous hurricanes and tropical storms, a tornado and a war.  However I cannot remember being more concerned about a natural disaster until now.  Hurricane Irene looks like it is on target to slam into the Island Hermitage as well as my home inVirginia Beach.

Last night I was not very concerned, it looked like the bitch would stay far enough to sea that things would be fine.  Late last night my Judy called me worried and with my computer I looked at the models and told her that things would be fine and the storm would likely stay far enough at sea as not to cause too much damage.  This morning I got up and the first thing that I saw was that the computer models were now zeroing in on the Outer Banks and if the models are correct will also come very near to or actually strike Virginia Beach.  As of now most of the models have the eye of the Irene coming ashore as a Category Three hurricane around Morehead City and Beaufort North Carolina which is about 20 miles to the north of the Island Hermitage. Since Irene is a big mother that is much too close for comfort.

Calm before the Storm

I went out to the beach this evening for the last weekend before the Labor Day holiday the beach and the neighborhood were incredibly quiet, the very real calm before the storm. When I walked out of the Island Hermitage the only noise was that of some kind of noisy insect in the trees above me.  I got to the beach and decided to try to get around without my cane and I did pretty well.  I think from now on I will only use it when the leg is hurting.  It’s been almost a month since I broke the Fibula and the doctors said 4-6 weeks so I will give it a shot.  Anyway I took off my sports sandals and walked out to the surf.  There were a few people on the beach.  I took a number of pictures and I noticed the colors of the sky which were tinged with the reds and oranges of the sun which had just disappeared over the horizon.  The surf was heavier than I have seen since I moved here and the breakers dissipated as they came ashore.  It was all too peaceful.  It is hard to imagine that in less than 48 hours the serenity before me will become a watery inferno with winds gusting over 100 miles an hour.

Pat Robertson has written and spoken about how he prayed away a hurricane when he first established his ministry in Virginia Beach.  Since Pat’s headquarters is in Virginia Beach, along with his Christian Broadcasting Network Studios and Regent University he has a big interest in praying this one away.  So I hope that Pat gets off his ass and uses his special double top secret probation prayer line to Jesus in to get Irene back out to sea.  I don’t even care if he claims credit for it on TV and in his next book.

I called Judy to let her know that she needed to take the dog and execute our evacuation plan.  A neighbor will be watching our house in our absence and let me know if we sustain damage.  My insurance company has already sent me an e-mail assuring us that they are with us; it’s a good thing to be a long time member of USAA. Even so I do not look forward to any kind of storm damage.

I am a safety first kind of person.  I have already let my staff know that they can take leave tomorrow to get out of Dodge if needed.  Since I am essential personnel at the hospital I will be caring for our patients, staff and their family members during the storm.  All the models make this look really bad for this area.

Yes I am praying for all those that live along the East Coast just as I do for others. Unfortunately I have already heard some preachers, Christian ministers, the allegedly “Christian” head of the far right website Worldnetdaily, Joesph Farrah and a Jewish Rabbi announcing with almost smug arrogance that this is God’s judgment on our country.  As always it is the fault of homosexuals and not the fault of the incredibly greed filled financial institutions that have contributed so much to the economic turmoil that has engulfed the world and the preachers that seem to elevate Wall Street above the Gospel.

I’m glad for these people that they are so sure of this, but I’m sure that the Lord probably thinks otherwise, besides Pat Robertson would be in the crosshairs too, but then maybe God is mad at him and the rest of us are the collateral damage.  My word to all of these preachers get off their asses, pray for the people on the East Coast and be ready to render assistance as they can. After all it’s the Christian thing to do.   I know that is what I will be doing, but that’s just me.

Peace and Blessings,

Padre Steve+

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The Predictable Unpredictability of Revolution and the Christian Call to Reconciliation

Revolutions often end with one Tyranny replacing another

“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.” Alexis de Tocqueville

“All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.” Adolf Hitler

We are living in revolutionary times. When we look around the world and down the street we cannot help but notice the flames of revolution burning. While we are focused on the amazing revolutions going on in the Arab World there is revolution brewing in the United States. Revolution that has been stoked on the airwaves and in cyberspace against ineffective government and political parties concerned more about their power and financial institutions that have devastated our economy for years as is hitting our state capitals as the country lurches deeper into economic and social crisis.

“Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.” Barbara  Tuchmann

Many good and honorable people are part of a new revolutionary movement in the United States but such movements sometime morph into the very thing that they protest when unscrupulous people take them over. (Reuters photo)

Whether actual revolutions that have been relatively peaceful in Tunisia and Egypt to ones where those in power have resorted to deadly force such as Libya and Iran as well as those in their incipient stages they are forerunners of many more to come. Just count the countries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas where for a variety of reasons protests, dramatic political change and revolts erupt threatening the old order. Be it the overthrow of despots in the Middle East, calls for a Jasmine revolution in China, economic collapse in various European Union countries that cause massive electoral shifts that threaten the breakup of that union, narco-anarchy in Mexico or chaos in U.S. State Capitals all signs tell us that we have entered a new age of revolution. Likewise the talk of revolution is everywhere even in the United States where some in the Tea Party movement call for a revolution against the status quo in Washington D.C. and against the growth and power of the Federal Government.

“The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane, and devoted natures; the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement – but it passes away from them. They are not the leaders of a revolution. They are its victims.” Joseph Conrad

The one constant about revolutions is that they unpredictable even those that begin with the most altruistic of motives. Likewise in many cases those who begin the revolutions often become the victims of those that come after them. That is a fact from history and it is often true that as Barbara Tuchmann said “Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.” That is the danger that is faced as we enter this revolutionary era.

It is always cool to see tyrants fall and for people to have a chance to be free, but unfortunately evil always lurks in the hearts of those who seek to exploit the revolution for their own power’s sake. No movement is immune from this threat and those who are convinced of their own righteousness and rightness of their cause are very likely to take up the mantle of tyranny that they helped overthrow.

Larry Klayman who writes for World Net Daily made this comment in a recent opinion piece on that site:

“What establishment governmental institution will hold our judges, legislators and even the president accountable to the “rule of law”? The answer is none! It’s all one happy club of “establishment felons,” who, whether Democrat or Republican, play the game, scratch each others’ backs and feed at the huge trough of government money and favors.

It’s the establishment, stupid – whether it’s in the good ol’ USA, Cairo or Tripoli – that has ruled the school. And “we the peons,” are given the crumbs that are left after the establishment pillages, rapes, perverts and destroys the at one time noble institutions of government that were created by and for the people.

Thousands of years ago, a revolutionary in the Holy Land confronted a similar total breakdown of values, ethics and the rule of law. He confronted corruption in the highest places of government – before his fellow clergy, the Jewish high priests and the Roman Forum – and did so fearlessly. He paid with his life, and his name was Jesus Christ.

Our rotting and diseased institutions need to be attacked legally and, I am sorry to say, torn down – and then built back up again into the “faithful city of Jerusalem.” While I do not advocate violence – indeed, Jesus never resorted to this – we must urgently find other ways such as civil disobedience to wage a new revolution. We cannot be afraid, and we must act immediately. Because our nation and the planet stand on the precipice of complete chaos and extinction. And, unless we rid it of the vermin who inhabit and have seized our establishment institutions as their own, and reform these corrupt institutions, we will soon perish. The American people did their first house cleaning in our first Revolution.

Now it’s time to bring on the second! If even the Arabs, who have no history of democracy and freedom, can do it, then why can’t we?” Larry Klayman: If Arabs can Revolt why can’t We? 27 February 2011 retrieved from World Net Daily http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=268289

While the  Revolution in Egypt was mostly peaceful no one is sure exactly how it will end

Klayman voices the anger of many, maybe not a majority but a significant minority of the American electorate, many of which are conservative Christians, a minority that is becoming more organized daily and is threatening to supplant the establishment Republican Party as the voice of conservatism. Now I have little respect for the two corrupt political parties that have gotten us into this mess but when writers, especially Christians refer to people, even corrupt rulers as vermin is scary. I do think that elected and non-elected officials need to be held accountable but never believe that dehumanizing them by referring to them as “vermin” is wise. Such calls usually mean that when the new order, whatever it is comes to power those in the old order are not just swept away but many times exterminated. One only has to look at history to see that this is the case.

Likewise for them to reduce Jesus Christ to a mere revolutionary who “confronted corruption in the highest places” as Klayman does actually does violence to the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the message of Jesus which was never about his followers changing governments or overthrowing kingdoms by means other than the love of God and the call to be reconciled to God as Paul the Apostle writes “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” (2 Cor 5:19 NRSV)

Revolutionary times often bring out the worst aspects of the human condition be it from the oppressors or the revolutionaries themselves. The unbridled passions that underlie revolutions are very difficult to contain. Anger, hatred, envy, distrust, cynicism, disrespect and the dehumanization of opponents only add fire to the legitimately unjust and evil conditions which feed calls for revolution and calls for change and often lead to violence and repression from those that harness the revolutionary spirit for their own ends. Revolution often begets tyranny.  Hitler understood this when he said “if today I stand here as a revolutionary, it is as a revolutionary against the Revolution.”

This is the danger zone into which some Christians plunge with wild abandon a zone where some radically depart from the message of reconciliation to the legitimization of violence through their interpretation of Scripture to buttress a political and revolutionary end. Doug Giles who is a commentator at Townhall.com and has his own radio program writes:

“The believer, however, has an insanely powerful arsenal of divinely-inspired dynamite to utilize against unrighteousness and those who propagate it. Yep, Dinky, it’s a prayer against both sin and sinner—the problem and its perpetrator. Theologians call these the imprecatory prayers, or maledictions. I call them Dirty Harry prayers, prayers to pull out and pray when things get bad. Real bad. Prayers you use when a nation’s getting mucked up by degenerate priests or politicos.” Note to Church: Pray Dirty Harry Prayers for Our Nation. Posted July 25, 2009 by nhiemstra in Doug Giles, Townhall.com retrieved 27 February 2011.

Giles uses Scripture to drive home his point but he uses Scripture against Jesus. If I recall correctly Jesus was not about this. He may have pronounced woes upon the religious elite of his time but when they arrested him and abused him he did not protest. He acted in accordance with his instructions to his disciples:

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-29a and 25-36 NRSV)

In revolutionary times we are not called to become one with the revolution nor the status quo brought about by corrupt rules, institutions or oppressors. The call of the Church and Christians is to be salt and light and ambassadors of Christ’s call for humanity to be reconciled to God and to one another. It certainly is not a popular position now days as extremists of all types, including Christians throw gasoline on already raging fires.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer so stranger to the evils of revolutionary times and the tyrants that they often beget wrote in “The Cost of Discipleship”

“The followers of Christ have been called to peace. . . . And they must not only have peace but also make it. And to that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. . . . His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they over-come evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.”

C. S. Lewis

That call is radically different than almost anything that we hear from politically active “revolutionary” Christians.  One of my regular readers posted a response to an article that I wrote a few days ago. In that response he quoted C. S. Lewis from his book The Screwtape Letters.” The quote which I include here is so appropriate to the spirit of our times and Lewis in one of his typically poignant observations has the demon Screwtape write his nephew Wormwood of how to use Christianity as a means to bring down mankind.

Uncle Screwtape pens his advice

“Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.”

Screwtape’s advice seems to have been heeded by many Christians in the United States. Our causes have usurped the faith. Scripture is nothing but a tool to advance the causes that we choose and the politics that we follow.

We do live in interesting times don’t we? Pray for me a sinner.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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The Day after the Attack on Congresswoman Giffords: Pointing the Finger of Blame without Evidence and Raising the Extremist Language to a New Level

Aftermath of the attack on Congresswoman Giffords: What Next?

A day after he shot and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed Judge John Roll and 5 others and wounded 11 more innocent people the motives and beliefs of Jared Lee Loughner are still clouded in mystery and subject to conjecture.  Those on the political left have blamed the influence of the Tea Party movement and those on the far right conservative web are saying that Loughner was a liberal. There are also reports that he could be affiliated in some way with the White Supremacist anti-Government group American Renaissance. At this point we still don’t know much but we can begin to look at probabilities based on the limited amount of evidence at hand.

The hard right exemplified by the people at World Net Daily, News Max and News Busters are claiming that Loughner is a “liberal” or “fascinated by liberal political thought.” They base this on the statement made on Twitter by a woman that claims to have known him in High School but has not seen him in years, 2007 to be exact.  Hardly what I would call a truly knowledgeable source but all of these sites are taking her statements at face value.  That is very poor journalism at best and pure partisan propaganda at worst. I lean to the latter because all of these “news” sites have one goal in mind and that is to defeat and demonize liberals.  They have made the claims without even questioning the source. They don’t ask why someone that hasn’t seen Loughner in four years would be marketing this story to the media.  What is her background, how well did she know him and what are her political affiliations? They also ignore others that know him who thought that he was a “normal kid” and were shocked by what he had done.  The uncritical approach of these sources has now spread across the “conservative” blogosphere like wildfire and my bet is when it is disproved as I think that it will be that none of these news sites or bloggers will retract their words.

The left claims that the Tea Party influence has to be a factor.  While we don’t know if Loughner had any connection with the Tea Party movement he echoes some Tea Party themes in his web postings. Personally I doubt if Loughner was a member of the Tea Party but I cannot rule it out but my gut tells me otherwise.  That being said Loughner’s posts on his My Space and You Tube pages echo common themes of the Tea Party as well as groups which are much more violent than the Tea Party is.  Look at his themes and tell me if they are what one would traditionally equate with liberalism:

Distrust of current government: This is a common theme of the party which is out of power and has recently more often associated with the political right and in particular the Tea Party movement which often decries Republican moderates as much as they do Democrat liberals. Likewise far right extremists groups echo that sentiment but in much more conspiratorial ways.  There are liberal groups that also espouse this but they tend not to be as numerous or loud as those on the right.

Return to the Gold Standard and a New Currency: His posts ramble but he seems pretty clear that he does not approve of the Federal Reserve or government control of currency and supports currency backed by gold and silver. This is not a tenant of liberalism but often is found in parts of the political right.

Complaints of Illiteracy: One of the hallmark themes of some right wing commentators such as the very incendiary Michael Savage is “borders, language, culture.” Loughner in particular was a critic of the lack of literacy of Americans in general but even more pointedly those in the congressional district in which he lives. Once again this is a subject, especially in relation to immigrants and the use of English that is more a theme of conservatives than it is liberals.

Vague References to the Constitution and Unconstitutionality of Federal Laws: In his internet posts Loughner makes a number of references to the Constitution, such as how most Americans have never read it and that we do not need to “accept Federalist laws” and to “read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.” This is a common theme of the far right which believes that many laws are unconstitutional.

Government Mind Control: This is something not from either the political right or left but from the realm of anti-government conspiracy theorists.

Unbelief in God and Religion: The manner in which he states this is similar to those on the nihilistic fringe of anti-government White Supremacist groups.

There is also the fact that Congresswoman Giffords has never been the target of the left but has been the frequent target of the Tea Party and others on the right and that it would be illogical for a Democrat or leftist to kill one of their own, even a moderate that is not associated with the far left of the Democratic Party who recently voted against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House.

My belief is that Loughner is a severely mentally disturbed individual who has been influenced at various times by different ideologies from the right and left with more of the radical right wing though being present now. I do not know what further investigation will prove or rule out.  I doubt if he was part of any larger conspiracy but a thorough investigation will probably show some connection with White Supremacist or racist extremist groups with some Tea Party ideological influence but no formal connection to the Tea Party.

Right now as I am patient to point out it is wrong to blame his actions on any group at this point, too little is known and I believe that those on the right that are calling Loughner a Democrat and liberal will have egg on their face at the end of the day.

The authorities have now determined that Loughner acted alone and that he planned the attack in advance ruling out a person of interest.

In the end the reaction, especially that from extremes, especially the right in this case will continue to stoke the fires of intolerance and hatred and likely sow the seeds of even more attacks on political leaders, judges and other government officials and even potentially members of the media.  As much as I hope and pray that this attack will help end such inflammatory language in politics and violent acts I think that they will continue. The extremists have too much invested to back down and as the reaction on the blogosphere demonstrates there is little concern with what actually occurred in Tucson and the lives lost or shattered but rather a continued escalation of extreme rhetoric which in my belief will only lead to greater violence and bloodshed.

Where this ends I can’t be sure, but history points to a tyranny being established by the most extreme and organized elements in the debate.  We can be sure that it will not be a more civil discourse and return to moderation. That would be a defeat for the extremists which they will not allow to happen.  I expect more physical confrontations at political rallies with roughnecks and bullies using physical violence and intimidation against their opponents. Likewise I expect the heated vitriol to become more so and calls to violent action to increase with corresponding increases in political violence.  We are not far removed from street battles between extremists and death squads which target the opposition or anyone for that matter that deviates from the party line.  I am not optimistic because I know human nature and history.

God help us.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under History, philosophy, Political Commentary