Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Prayer Request from a Friend

A respected friend wrote the other day asking prayer for her son, a law enforcement officer. One of his colleagues was killed in the barracks, and her son has been pulled away from his regular duties and assigned to a search for the suspect. I should add that “his regular duties” do not seem to include (much) sitting beside the road waiting for opportunities to extract money from people who have not done any actual harm.
Searching for a murderer—and while my fondness for people with uniforms and guns is in general limited, I would call this incident murder until evidence otherwise surfaces—is a legitimate activity, and given my respect for the mother and a therefore well-grounded assumption that the LEO will carry out his duties with a Christian sense of responsibility, I consider it a privilege to pray for the young man.
But I am also praying that this incident will cause that young man to ask some needed questions.
I am reminded of the leveling years ago of Fallujah, Iraq, after the corpses of four mercenary soldiers were “desecrated.” That the men had been killed was not the issue, nor how they had been killed. It was the treatment of the dead skin and bones that prompted a response worthy of a herd of enraged elephants in a village in India, or the army of a beast like Xerxes or Genghis Khan.
Let’s assume the officer in charge of the Fallujah operation consulted the Urim and Thummim and got God’s go-ahead to destroy the city and kill those who resisted. Would he have done the same thing if the mistreated corpses had belonged to aid workers from Samaritan’s Purse? How about if they had belonged to ten-year-old Iraqi girls? To ask is to answer, right?
If the murder victim had been—oh, I don’t know, how about yours truly?—would the officer currently in charge of the search for the cop killer have pulled my friend’s son off his duties to look for the perp?
The death and destruction in Fallujah had nothing to do with concern over life created in the image of God. It was one armed gang taking revenge on another for what amounts to an insult. I suspect, the same is true, mutatis mutandis, in my friend’s son’s case. You can say all you want that “the death of one we pay to protect us is an attack against us all,” but given that the dead man was more likely to fine me for doing something he does every day in his tax-funded car with the lights and sirens off than to save me from true miscreants—and given court rulings that the law enforcement caste is under no obligation to protect us—I don’t believe it.
So yes, I hope they find the murderer. I hope some enterprising journalist visits him in his cell to find out his side of the story, even if there’s nothing there but murder. I hope my friend’s son comports himself in the process in a way that gives him an opportunity to share how God has worked in his life. But I also hope he at least asks himself whether he is protecting a society in which “all men are created equal”—or, more importantly, all men are created in the image of God, rebels against God though we all be—or if he is part of a caste system that in the name of protecting its subjects truly exists for its own benefit.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

There Is Nothing Like a Dame

There is nothing like a dame.
Nothing in the world.
There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame. …
There are no books like a dame.
And nothing looks like a dame.
And nothing acts like a dame.
Or attracts like a dame.
While I was innocently skimming an article on the best small towns in America, my eye was caught by the thumbnail for this celebration of a man caught ogling female anatomy. It reminded me of the recent cover of one of our supermarket tabloids, which featured either President Obama ogling a young woman’s breasts or some cowardly Photoshopping. Hey, if the son of god incarnate can’t ogle boobs with impunity, no one can, right? On the other hand, if even he does it, it must be pretty common, dontcha think?
Of course in today’s busybody society the point of catching Mr. Butt-Ogler in the very act was more to titillate (buttilate?) the female readers than to condemn him. (“How naughty [giggle]! Lucky girl!”) But there is a serious issue here: the same people who giggle at Mr. Butt-Ogler are the same people God commands us to call to Christ, and they are quick to speak of the hypocrisy of Christian men sneaking peeks at naked girls in print and online.
True confessions time. Walk me into an art gallery (or whatever) with a picture of unadorned female anatomy to one side, and anything else—landscapes, whizbangs, great moments in sports, you name it—on the other side will get looked at second and with less attention to detail. Boobs? Buns? Bushes? Yes, please!
I don’t seem to be alone. Hugh Hefner made a name and a fortune giving men visual access to female anatomy, and I can tell you from experience that the number of staples holding the pages together was greatly exceeded by the number of eyes that looked at the pictures. (The most notable exception, of course, would be issues bought by Christian men who bought them and hid them.) With naked women by the thousands available at the click of a mouse, and adverisements for everything from TV shows to auto parts featuring curves and cleavages, methinks anyone who thinks men are not going to check out a woman’s anatomy when the data are easily accessible is hopelessly na├»ve.
We hear the implications for men ad nauseum: Don’t look! Keep your eyes on the eyes (or on the floor or on the trees or on your iPhone)!
Yeah, right. For one thing, the chief advantage of learning to read is that you can read whenever you want to. A corollary of that is that when you see printing, you want to know what it says. So if a T-shirt tightly embracing a curvaceous thorax has writing on it, one can expect me to want to read it because I want to read it. At the same time, as surely as water runs downhill, I’ll be processing the female anatomy behind the writing. Small print and an unclear font or unclear wording, and it will take longer to read. You can do the math from there.
But what about your wife? Does she want you reading T-shirts on beatiful bosoms?
No, of course not. But keeping a resolution not to read is easier made than kept. You don’t look convinced. OK, you win: easy or not, we’re not supposed to ogle. Where looking appreciatively ends and ogling begins, I can’t begin to tell you. Fortunately, my vision is failing, so the question is becoming less urgent. You say even blind men can lust? Well then, maybe it would be better if men and women were never in the same place. But that would be blaming women and I can’t do that? The responsibility is really all on us men?
Does knowing that the water I mentioned earlier runs downhill have any implication for women? I would suggest that if you don’t want the water to run downhill, you want the sluice to be as level as possible. Yes, it’s the man’s responsibility to level the sluice, but give him some help.
Ladies, to be brief, the less we know about your boobs, the less likely we are to be interested in finding out more. If guys can see everything above and inboard of your nipples, you can expect us to be checking out the details and mentally weighing up their chances of adding to the data bank. Should we be doing so? No. But it will take an act of the will for us to move on. How difficult do you want that act of the will to be?
Let me let you in on another well-known little secret. As interesting and varied as women’s boobs are, that’s not really where a man’s interest goes. Desmond Morris in The Naked Ape, postulated (and I suppose provided some data—forty years is a long time to remember such details) that the interest in boobs actually was derived from the interest in buns, hence, I suppose, the expression “a piece of ass.” Furthermore, a friend who worked in a part of Papua New Guinea where the women didn’t necessarily cover their breasts surprised me with the news that girlie magazines brought in from the outside were hot items in his village—not for the boobs but for the bushes. Either way, as crazy as guys are about what girls keep in their shirts, they’re even crazier about what they keep in their pants.
Fast forward thirty years. I’m walking down the sidewalk and being approached by a jogger. It doesn’t take me long to figure out from the silhouette that the jogger is female. She has nice legs. Her thighs don’t rub in the middle. In fact, by the time she’s within forty feet, I have a pretty good idea what she looks like naked neck to knees—all that’s missing is the color scheme. Oh, wait, I shouldn’t be ogling. So I look away and resolve to look away earlier the next time. Yeah, right.
I’m not sure a twenty- or thirty-something is going to get on with life quite so easily. I know I sure as hell didn’t when I was one.
What’s the point of all this?
Girls, there are precious few men out there worth being chased by. Between the feminized education system and the sex-saturated culture, thirty is the new fifteen, and even those men who aren’t financial adolescents don’t necessarily know that a woman isn’t just a whizbang that bleeds. Yes, it’s their responsibility to think about things other than your uniquely female anatomy. But the first qualification most men look for in a wife is that she be female. That’s where they start, and it’s where they’ll stay unless there’s a good reason to move on. If you want them to get beyond that point quickly, consider giving them less to concentrate on at the starting line.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Babylonians Were Not the Canaanites

You don’t have to look far to find people accusing the Bible’s account of Israel’s conquest of the Canaanites of being a warrant for genocide, whether Protestants and Catholics killing each other (e.g., the religious wars in Europe during the Reformation), or Christians of any stripe killing non-Christians (e.g., the conquest of the Plains Indians or the current attempt to conquer the Middle East). One of probably countless examples is found in this post and its comments, as is a reasonable rebuttal by an informed Christian. (I have opined that being an agent of genocide is a horrific experience here.)
I would like to add that the full story doesn’t end with the conquest of Canaan. It actually ends with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians centuries later. And to the degree the European “Christian” conquest of the American Indians and the Confederacy is indeed somehow a reflection of God’s will the same way the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan was, we need to be afraid, be very afraid, that our nation will go the way of Israel and Judah—“Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!”—as a reflection of God’s will, and for the same reason: ungodliness.
In Israel’s early days in the land, once the Canaanites had been (pretty much) annihilated, the enemies to be dealt with were the Midianites, the Amelekites, the Ammonites, and the Philistines, those who had settled the land before Israel left Egypt. As spiritual decline set in in Israel, it was these barbarians whom God raised up to chasten his people. It was to lead God’s people in battle against these people that Israel asked for a king, and by golly, the kings did indeed get rid of those enemies.
But they didn’t get rid of the real enemy: the belief in Israel that they were God’s people no matter where they ranked God in their list of priorities and no matter what they did as a result. God’s response, as so many have pointed out, was to treat the Israelites precisely the way they had treated the Canaanites (and were treating each other):
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the world's people, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem. But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous. Now they grope through the streets like men who are blind. They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments. (Lam 4:12-14)
By the end of the seventh century BC, Israel rightly had no fear of the Canaanites or the Philistines. But God had another enemy in mind to chasten them, one they could not have foreseen when they were conquering Canaan centuries before: the Babylonians.
A cruel and violent nation … will march across the world and conquer it.  They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like, and no one can stop them.  Their horses are swifter than leopards. They are a fierce people, more fierce than wolves at dusk. Their horsemen race forward from distant places. Like eagles they swoop down to pounce on their prey.  On they come, all of them bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a wind from the desert, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. (Hab 1:6-9)
God had taken something precious to him, his reputation for goodness (Ps 25:8; 34:8; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 29; 135:3; 136:1), and put it on the line by commanding his people Israel to exterminate the Canaanites. That so many people take that command as proof that the God of the Bible is not good is evidence of how great that risk was. For him then to sit back and allow the Israelites to create a society as evil as the one they had exterminated would have been further “proof” that the God of Israel is no better than any other deity people use to excuse their predatory actions.
Now I don’t happen to believe that the God of the Bible approved of the conquest of the Cherokee and other Indian tribes of the east, the Confederacy, northern Mexico, or the Plains Indians and tribes to the west of them. But he did at least let it happen, and the church of Jesus Christ in the conquered territories has prospered economically in ways that would make Paul the apostle’s, not to mention Stephen the first martyr’s, head swim. We have been taught all our lives in the movies, at school, and in Sunday school that God was on the side of right: the Indians were savages, the Confederates were slavers, the Spanish were papist imperialists, and all were evil.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s all true: let’s say that just as God displaced the Canaanites to make room for Israel, God displaced the pagans and slavers to make room for evangelicals.
If this is so, what can we expect if our society becomes as evil as those it has displaced? What if outright paganism replaces biblical Christianity as the default (nominal) religion of the land? What if Christians support slavery (justifying it by calling it “conscription” or “regulation” or “taxation” or “duty”) and imperialism? Will God sit still and allow himself to become just another deity who justifies rapacity? Or is he likely to raise up new enemies?
These are no-brainer questions, and however simple the answers are, they are hard to swallow. God has already raised up the enemies, and as the Babylonians pretty much eviscerated Judah before destroying Jerusalem and dragging the people off to exile in Babylon (2 Kgs 24), so the church in the US is losing its substance to God’s enemies. Most obviously, taxes are rising: not only are the nominal tax rates increasing, but government “borrowing” continues, which means more dollars in government budgets at all levels are going to interest payments, and the Federal Reserve is devaluating our currency. By even moderate accounts, Uncle Sam has run up a quarter of a million dollars of debt and liabilities for every man, woman, and child in the country.  All this is happening faster than we can increase production, so our net income is being lowered. Our government is run by special interest groups as rapacious as the Babylonians but wise enough to know that if they provide bread and circuses their subjects, far from rebelling against them, will zealously defend them.
Then there’s ISIS, or ISIL, or just the IS. According to the media narrative, they’re just a bunch of savage terrorists, “notorious for their cruelty.” I have no evidence to the contrary. But I have every reason to believe that they recruit new members every day by playing on the legitimate anger that Muslims in the Middle East harbor toward US imperialism. And Muslims in the US with family in the old country may also harbor that anger, just as Jews living in Rome in the first century no doubt resented Rome’s treatment of the residents of Judea.
Just as Babylon was a non-entity in Joshua’s day, the banksters and the IS are both enemies Sherman and Sheridan, let alone Washington and Jefferson, could never have imagined. But we see the success the banksters have had, and if the same government who has enslaved us to the banksters were to arm Muslim murderers in the US as it has in the Middle East, the possibilities are endless.
Why couldn’t 2.6 million Muslims take over this country county by county, state by state, over the period of a few decades? They are immigrating from countries with billions to spare, and, more importantly, they are reproducing faster than neopagan European Americans. And they vote. And they care how the vote goes. And to the degree that “it’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes,” they’ll be interested in counting the votes.
Meanwhile, Evangelicals salute the flag, send their kids to tax-funded schools and cheer louder when those kids join the military than they do when they sign on as missionaries, let alone commit to be entrepreneurs and employees who will win to Christ those they interact with in the marketplace. And we lose half our kids to the world by the time they’re out of college.
The jig is up. The Babylonians are at the gates. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when the system will collapse. As it collapses, we can expect Uncle Sam to enact draconian measures supposedly aimed at preserving justice, liberty, and prosperity. But to the degree that the kingdoms of the world are under Satanic control—for example, a presidential election held in the US today would be won by a bloodthirsty lesbian—we can expect that the true ultimate goal of those actions will be to seduce or exterminate the Christian church.
When the Babylonians get through the walls, will we be in Zedekiah’s party, trying to escape to Egypt? Or will we stay in the city and watch our children be dashed on the rocks? Or will we be like the wise people of the land who surrendered to the Babylonians and were allowed to stay? Indeed, how do we translate these questions into our current situation?
I don’t know for sure. But I do know that Jesus said no man can serve two masters. While Jesus was warning us to make sure we don’t allow Mammon to rival God in our loyalties, it’s reasonable to at least hypothesize that the same warning applies to loyalty to Uncle Sam.