Friday, July 24, 2015

On Sandra Bland and Black Lives Matter

I watched the videos of Sandra Bland's ordeal with Texas police officers and was first left wondering what she must have been thinking. Then I was left wondering what millions of Americans are thinking now. Ms Bland was pulled over for a very minor traffic infraction; failing to use her signal to change lanes. If you've been driving for a while, you too have likely been pulled over for not coming to a complete stop at a Stop sign, or having a brake or blinker light out, and so on. It never occurred to me to pick a fight with the officer who pulled me over. All she had to do was accept the ticket which was rightfully assessed. But, no, she went into a tirade and berated the officer severely. He asks, "Are you done?" The answer; No. She berates him for several minutes after he pulls her out of the car and throws her onto the grass by the roadside.

If you or I acted the same way with a police officer, we'd be treated the same way. She reminded me of an employee I had who was a pill addict and would go on with unmitigated belligerence for hours, talking incessantly and none of it good. It then appears that Ms Bland hung herself in her prison cell. She noted on her documents that she had tried to kill herself the year before because she had lost her baby. Her method of self-euthanasia? Pills.

So, in a nutshell, a suicidal woman picks a fight with a police officer, gets arrested - just as despicable white me would if I acted the same way - and hangs herself with a trash bag a few days later in her cell. Cameras confirm she was alone when she hung herself. So who's the villain?

Had she acted like a normal human being instead of a bully, she would have left peacefully with her ticket in her console and would go straight home to tweet about the putative injustice of being pulled over by a white officer because she failed to use turn signals. That would indicate that we are the same free country that was and is.

But there is something markedly different about these recent cases where black Americans have attacked police and then claimed victim hood. Mind you, I am not dismissing police overstepping their bounds with citizens. As we become wards of the state because of our relentless march toward socialism, police are increasingly looking at all of us as peons. However, Officer Darrin Wilson did not look at Michael Brown as a peon but as a mortal threat as he rushed toward the officer in an effort to kill him. Wilson killed Brown in self-defense, pure and simple. It was either Wilson or Brown. One would die that day.

And as for Sandra Bland; she killed herself. Who's the villain? I know many of the Christian fathers and mothers of the early church were martyred but I know of not one who killed themselves and was considered a martyr. Martyrs don't kill themselves. Period.

And yet lost in all this is that many black Americans are living in an environment that stands in the way of them being able to achieve financial security. In one sense, black Americans are more upwardly mobile than ever before, participating in the economy in greater numbers, and we want to grow that trend.  Yet too many are still paying high rents for slum dwellings, whose children are going to awful public schools, and are afraid to walk through their own neighborhoods due to increasing numbers of dangerous drug addicts and gang members. And this rampant malaise is the one true way their local police are failing them. The first reason for government's existence is security, and we must make sure black communities are safe environments.

It is an irony that, had Sandra Bland's car been stolen minutes before she was pulled over, she would have seen come to her aid the same deputy she was abusive to. And what protocol should there be for an out-of-control citizen like Sandra Bland?

In conclusion Black Lives Matter in a way that other lives don't matter. And here is a very significant point I don't think the Democrats or Republicans get; neither party has cared about blacks to do anything significant to help them. They have been just another identity group where votes can be easily harvested with shallow rhetoric. The last 25 years has been an era of fickle political theater around issues that never seem to get resolved. And blacks are realizing that the Democratic party is one of the biggest culprits in perpetuating the fires of the conflict that burns them.

The Democrats have bought black Americans at the cheapest price in American history. Benefits that fail to raise any humans out of poverty are not benefits; they're distractions to keep them voting Democratic. Black Americans are waking up from 50 years of the welfare state and realizing that it was, as President Lyndon Johnson said himself, "I'll have those niggers voting Democrat for 100 years." Not so fast, Mr Johnson. Your game might be running out of gas halfway through.

Hopefully, the Black Lives Matter movement will inspire a stronger sense of community that will encourage personal responsibility. And it must be said here that, if Black Lives Matter is ever going to be a transformational movement, then it must begin with blacks believing that black lives matter themselves.  Blacks have led the world for far too long in murdering their own children in abortions. Black Lives Matter is an unequivocally pro-life statement, unless blacks are merely joking about it. 

While we need to be vigilant of our police, ensure our schools are preparing black Americans for success, expand opportunities, and help increase the standard of living on all fronts, the black community has to stand against the plague of illegitimacy, to attack the subculture that frowns upon literacy and civility, and promote a shift toward personal responsibility.

And if the root cause of "white privilege" is that white parents actually watch out for their children and leave them an inheritance, then they should copy them rather than scorn them. Most of the demands on BlackLivesMatter.Com sound like a communist manifesto but they can shed light on what is desperately needed in the black community. See Black Lives Matter - Learn Our Demands.
The current state of Black America is anything but just. For Black people in the U.S., the shadow of crisis has not passed.
  • The median wealth for single White women is $42,600. For Black women, it’s $5.001.
  • The infant mortality rate for Black mothers is more than double that of White mothers, due to factors like poverty, lack of access to health care, and the physiological effects of stress caused by living under structural oppression 2.
  • 22 states have passed new voter restrictions since 2010, disenfranchising as many as 34 million Americans, most of them Black 3.
  • In cities across the country, profit-driven policies fuel displacement and gentrification, leading to the destruction of entire Black communities 4.
  • Blacks and Latinos are about 31 percent of the US population, but 60 percent of the prison population 8.
  • In our country 1 in 3 black men will be incarcerated in his lifetime 5, and Black women are the fastest growing prison population 6.
  • The life expectancy of a Black trans woman is 35 years.  The average income of a Black trans person is less than 10K.   Trans people are denied jobs, housing and healthcare just for living in their truths.
  • It is legal in many jurisdictions to fire LBGT people from employment and deny them access to healthcare and housing.
  • Since 1976, the United States has executed thirteen times more black defendants with white victims than white defendants with black victims 6.
  • Black U.S. political prisoners have collectively served over 800 years in prison and have consistently been denied parole despite good behavior and time served.
  • Increasingly, students in white areas are nourished and taught while Black children are criminalized and judged.
  • Black neighborhoods lack access to affordable healthy food resulting in disproportionate levels of obesity and other chronic illnesses.
Our schools are designed to funnel our children into prisons. Our police departments have declared war against our community. Black people are exploited, caged, and killed to profit both the state and big business. This is a true State of Emergency. There is no place for apathy in this crisis. The US government has consistently violated the inalienable rights our humanity affords.
We say no more.

  • We demand an end to all forms of discrimination and the full recognition of our human rights.
  • We demand an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of Black  people and all oppressed people.
  • We demand full, living wage employment for our people.
  • We demand decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings and an end to gentrification.
  • We demand an end to the school to prison pipeline & quality education for all.
  • We demand freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex.
  • We demand a racial justice agenda from the White House that is inclusive of our shared fate as Black men, women, trans and gender-nonconforming people. Not My Brother’s Keeper, but Our Children’s Keeper.
  • We demand access to affordable healthy food for our neighborhoods.
  • We demand an aggressive attack against all laws, policies, and entities that disenfranchise any community from expressing themselves at the ballot.
  • We demand a public education system that teaches the rich history of Black people and celebrates the contributions we have made to this country and the world.
  • We demand the release of all U.S. political prisoners.
  • We demand an end to the military industrial complex that incentivizes private corporations to profit off of the death and destruction of Black and Brown communities across the globe.
This country owes Black citizens nothing less than full recognition of our human rights. The White House’s current racial justice initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, ignores too many members of our communities. It does not address the inhumane conditions we collectively experience living in a white supremacist system. The issues facing Black women, immigrants, trans and queer people must be included and we demand a full expansion of My Brother’s Keeper to do so.
We demand the same inclusion from our movement.
None of us are free until all of us are free. Our collective efforts have exposed the ugly American traditions of  patriarchy, classism, racism, and militarism. These combined have bred a violent culture rife with transphobia, and other forms of illogical hatred.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An Open Letter to Today's Homosexuals - God Loves You More

Those in Christ don't condemn anyone, gays included. Because we do not accept our own sin, we must never judge others for their sins. We are forced to see everything from God's point of view. If we did not do this, we would not be in Christ.

We do not condone same sex marriage because it is not God's destiny for you, or anyone.
To put it another way, it is not what is best for you. God wants what is best for you, not what suits you right now, not what you thought you were born for or born with, but what is truly best for you. He is watching you from the highest point possible navigate roads that you only see in small segments. He sees the danger you're headed into.

Since heterosexuals and celibates are equally sinful as gays, the question, "Do you think homosexuality is a sin?" falls flat. God's perfection raises the more urgent question for the homosexual; "Is your homosexuality your God?"

Gays are not singled out in Scripture. The punishment for adultery is the same as the punishment for homosexual acts; stoning to death.
People today often like to cite that the Bible prescribes stoning to death as punishment for gays but we fail to point out that Jesus took that stoning unto death for the homosexual.
Jesus died for all and He gave His life for each individual sinner because He is God.

Does God condemn you? No, Only you can condemn yourself. But, make no mistake, you condemn yourself by dismissing Jesus's sacrifice on your behalf. For gays, it's no different than it is for a heterosexual person. In fact, God stands in the SAME relationship to every human being.

Do you realize what it means that God is perfect? He is perfectly just, perfect in every way. He can only do good. Our culture lowers God to the point He is, like the song says, "What if God was one of us. Just a slob like one of us. Just a stranger on the bus, Trying to make His way home." This is an honest view of the way our culture sees God.

The Truth is that God loves you more than your best courage could possibly imagine. God loves you more than your partner. He loves you more than your parents. He loves you more than your friends. He is calling you now to come home, and be free to experience His love forever.

Who Owns the US National Debt?

Internet link here.

The U.S. debt is more than $18 trillion. Most headlines focus on how much the U.S. owes China, which is one of the largest foreign owners. However, the biggest owner is actually the Social Security Trust Fund, aka your retirement money. How does that work, and what does it mean?
The Debt Is in Two Categories
The U.S. Treasury manages the U.S. debt through its Bureau of the Public Debt. It's broken out the debt into two main categories: Intragovernmental Holdings, at $5.117 trillion, and Debt Held by the Public, at $13.024 trillion (as of December 31, 2014)

Intragovernmental Holdings - Nearly 30% of the Federal debt is owed to about 230 other Federal agencies. Why would the government owe money to itself? Some agencies, like the Social Security Trust Fund, take in more revenue from taxes than they need right now. Rather than stick this cash under a giant mattress, they buy U.S. Treasuries with it.
This effectively transfers their excess cash to the general fund, where it can be spent. Of course, one day they will redeem their Treasury notes for cash. The Federal government will either need to raise taxes, or issue more debt, to give the agencies the cash they will need. 
Which agencies own the most Treasuries? Social Security, by a long shot. Here's the detailed breakdown (as of September 30, 2014):
·         Social Security (Social Security Trust Fund and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund) - $2.783 trillion
·         Office of Personnel Management Retirement - $924 billion
·         Military Retirement Fund - $483 billion
·         Medicare (Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund) - $270 billion
Debt Held by the Public - Foreign governments and investors hold about half of the nation's public debt. A little over one-fifth is held by other governmental entities, like the Federal Reserve and state and local governments. Fifteen percent is held by mutual funds, private pension funds, savings bonds or individual Treasury notes. The rest  is held by businesses, like banks, and insurance companies and a mish-mash of trusts, businesses and investors. Here's the breakout:
·         Foreign - $6.013 trillion
·         Federal Reserve - $2.461 trillion
·         Mutual Funds - $1.033 trillion
·         State and Local Government, including their pension funds - $818 billion
·         Private Pension Funds - $506 billion
·         Banks - $407 billion
·         Insurance Companies - $269 billion
·         U.S. Savings Bonds - $177 billion
·         Other (individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors) - $1.115 billion.(Sources: Federal Reserve, Factors Affecting Reserve Balance, January 2, 2015. Treasury Bulletin, Ownership of Federal Securities, Table OFS-2, as of September 2014)
·         This debt is not only in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds but also TIPS and special State and Local Government Series securities.
·         As you can see, if you add up debt held by Social Security, and all the retirement and pension funds, nearly half of the U.S. Treasury debt is held in trust for your retirement. If the United States defaults on its debt, foreign investors would be angry, but current and future retirees would be hurt the most.

·         Why Does the Federal Reserve Own Treasury Debt?

·         As the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve is in charge of the country's credit, so it really doesn't have a financial reason to own Treasury notes. So why did it double its holdings between 2007 and 2014?
·         That's when it ramped up its open market operations, purchases of Treasuries. This Quantitative Easing stimulated the economy by keeping interest rates low, escaping the grips of the recession.
·         The Fed's been criticized for simply monetizing the debt. The Fed purchases Treasuries from its member banks, using credit it created out of thin air. This has the same effect as printing money. By keeping interest rates low, the Fed helps the government avoid the high-interest rate penalty it would usually incur for excessive debt.
·         The Fed ended QE in October 2014.  As a result, interest rates on the benchmark 10-year Treasury noterose from a 200-year low of 1.442% in June 2012 to around 2.17% by the end of 2014. For more, seeRelationship Between Treasury Yields and Mortgage Rates.

·         What About Foreign Ownership of the Debt?

·         In February 2015, Japan beat China as the largest holder, at $1.224 trillion. China decreased its holdings to $1.224 trillion from its November 2013 peak of $1.317 trillion. Both Japan and China want to keep the value of the dollar high when compared to their currencies. That helps their exports to the United States seem more affordable, which helps their economies grow. That's why, despite China's occasional threats to sell its holdings, both countries are happy to be America's biggest foreign bankers. China replaced the United Kingdom as the second largest foreign holder on May 31, 2007. That's when it increased its holdings to $699 billion, outpacing the UK's $640 billion. 
·         The Caribbean Banking Centers are third, at $350.6 billion, and Belgium is fourth, at $345 billion. The Bureau of International Settlements believes both are fronts for sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds that don't want to reveal their positions. 
·         The oil exporting countries are fifth at $297 billion. Brazil is the sixth at $260 billion. The next largest holders are Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK, Hong Kong, India, and Luxembourg (another front). They hold between $113-$202 billion each. (Source: Foreign Holding of U.S. Treasury Securities, December 15, 2014; U.S. Treasury report Petrodollars and Global Imbalances, February 2006) Article updated April 16, 2015. Data is from various reports, so the total may not add up to $18 trillion.
How the Federal Deficit and Debt are Different
The U.S. budget deficit is when Federal spending is greater than the tax revenue received for that year. In Fiscal Year 2014, the budget deficit was projected to be $649 billion. This is much lower than the all-time high of $1.4 trillion reached in FY 2009. For more, see Deficit by President.
The U.S. debt exceeded $18 trillion on December 15, 2014. This is three times the debt in 2000, which was $6 trillion.

How Does the Deficit Affect the Debt?

Each year, the deficit is added to the debt. The Treasury must sell Treasury bonds to raise the money to cover the deficit. This is known as the public debt, since these bonds are sold to the public.
In addition to the public debt, there is the money that the government loans to itself each year. This money is in the form of Government Account Securities, and it comes primarily from the Social Security Trust Fund. These loans are not counted as part of the deficit, since they are all within the government. However, as the Baby Boomers retire, they will begin to draw down more Social Securityfunds than are replaced with payroll taxes. These benefits will need to be paid out of the general fund. This means that either other programs must be cut, taxes must be raised or benefits must be lowered. Unfortunately, legislators have not yet agreed on an effective plan to meet Social Security obligations.

How Does the Debt Affect the Deficit?

The debt affects the deficit in three ways.
First, the debt actually gives a better indication of the true deficit each year. You can more accurately gauge the deficit by comparing each year's debt to last year's debt. That's because the budget deficit, as reported in each year's budget, does not include the amount owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. However, this is a debt that will need to be repaid one day, and so the amount borrowed from it is a more accurate description of each year's government liabilities than the reported budget deficit. (Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve, Deficit, Debts and Trust Funds, August 2006)
Second, the interest on the debt is added to the deficit each year. About 5% of the budget is allocated to debt interest payments. Interest on the debt hit a record in FY 2011, reaching $454 billion. This beat its prior record of $451 billion in FY 2008 -- despite lower interest rates. By the FY 2013 budget, the interest payment dropped to $248 billion, as interest rates fell to a 200-year low. However, as the economy improved, interest rates rose starting in May 2013. As a result, interest on the debt is projected to quadruple to $850 billion by FY 2021, making it the fourth largest budget item. (See Budget Spending)
Third, the debt can decrease tax revenue in the long run. This would further increasing the deficit. As the debt continues to grow, creditors can become concerned about how the U.S. government plans to repay it. Over time, these creditors will expect higher interest payments to provide a greater return for their increased perceived risk. Higher interest costs dampen economic growth.

How Does the Deficit and Debt Affect the Economy?

Initially, deficit spending and the resultant debt boosts economic growth. This is especially true in arecession. That's because deficit spending pumps liquidity into the economy. Whether the money goes to jet fighters, bridges or education, it ramps up production and creates jobs.
However, not every dollar creates the same number of jobs. In fact, military spending creates 8,555 jobs for every billion dollars spent. This is less than half the jobs created by that same billion spent on construction. For more, see Unemployment Solutions.
In the long run, the resultant debt is very damaging to the economy, and not only because of higher interest rates. The U.S. government may be tempted to let the value of the dollar fall so that the debt repayment will be in cheaper dollars, and less expensive. As this happens, foreign governments and investors will be less willing to buy Treasury bonds, forcing interest rates even higher.
The greatest danger comes from the debt to Social Security. As this debt comes due when Baby Boomers retire, funds will need to found to pay them. Not only could taxes be raised, which would slow the economy, but the loan from the Social Security Trust Fund will stop. More and more of the government's spending will need to be devoted to pay this mandatory cost. This would provide less stimulation, and could further slow the economy. Article updated January 4, 2015.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma Destroys Planned Parenthood on the Senate Floor

This is the kind of honest leadership we need if we are ever going to have a season of unity and righteousness in this country.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Erik Rush response to George Takei

From George Takei (a.k.a. Captain Sulu) page on Facebook. Takei apologized for calling Justice Clarence Thomas a "clown in black face" while still trying to substantiate why he used those words. One of those kinds of "I'm sorry but..." apologies.

Erik Rush - "Here's what I think: Justice Thomas is so universally reviled by the tolerant, loving liberals in America that Mr. Takei (whose work I have admired since I was 7 freaking years old) walks around like most libs - looking for something at which he may be offended, particularly vis-a-vis sexual orientation. As others have pointed out, one has to take a great deal of liberty with context in order to find Justice Thomas' opinion statements offensive. What Thomas said was that even if the government/court WAS denying this benefit or perceived right (as the attorney had argued), the dignity of an individual or a segment of society is in no way predicated upon that endorsement or lack thereof. It was a Cyclopean stretch finding offense in that, but hey, if you want to find offense... The big take away from this is that libs are some of the biggest racists going, under the cheap veneer. Lastly, I've never seen someone 'seethe' as calmly as Mr. Takei said he did in that interview. Just sayin'... #callingbullcrap"

I think this is spot on. I would add that the visceral government-worship by people who identify with the Left and liberalism is very unhealthy. This idea that the government must respond to whatever we perceive to be right or wrong right down to how we have sex is very disturbing to those of us outside the collective liberal mindset. The Left unconsciously, but with growing awareness, wants a dictatorship. Justice Thomas offended Captain Sulu by saying that it doesn't work that way. 

Clarence Thomas has been taunted by the Left for decades because he doesn't think like the collective. Of course, his job has not changed; to uphold the Constitution. But, to the Left, Blacks are supposed to vote with black politics. Black Americans are supposed to be the reliable zombies for the Left, voting 90% nationwide and, in some precincts in 2012, actually cast 100% of the votes for Barack Obama (Snopes.com did a thorough investigation of those precincts and found the tally to be true). However, there are millions of black conservatives like Thomas, apparently 1 in 10 African-Americans. The Left still feels they can dismiss them, even calling them Uncle Toms and Oreos - racist epithets, with impunity. 

The collective mindset of the Left is set on a government-centered future where unnatural rights trump natural rights, where the Constitution is irrelevant, and where human emotion and argument shut down  the voices of those who base their worldview on a knowledge of God. The Left's arguments are united in that they are all human arguments, as Paul defined in 2 Corinthians 10:5, set up aside from the knowledge of God. From the postmodern idea that a man can be a woman and claim a right to be respected as a woman to the equally postmodern idea that a couple of two men is the same as a couple made up of a man and a woman. God does not get to determine your gender, says the Left, men get to determine that! 

Funny how it all started in the garden where Adam and Eve thought that, by eating the fruit, they could be Gods. 

Friday, July 03, 2015

Diving off Key West

I met old Don at Louie's back bar;
he swam next to the legendary Mel Fisher,
found galleons from Sixteen Twenty-Two.
What was the key? I asked the Keys native.
He replied, "Anywhere you see straight lines
it's a wreck, only man makes straight lines." 
I dove on Cattrell Reef, nine miles out.
There were spheres of urchin and coral,
diagonals of sea ferns, calamaris
dancing their tentacles sideways in
the Gulf currents, stationary, calm.
Bright coral breaks out into fractals, 
a shark twists and turns in the distance,
designed to speed through water,
while we move in glacial stride.
She sleeks along as if through a waterslide.
The only straight line is our boat above. 
The only thing of simple manufacture,
the only thing that shows a limited intelligence
is the very boat we swim back to for safety.
It's straight lines comfort us, yet it is
an old shipwreck waiting to happen, 
an ugly duckling hovering over
an interminable sea of divine complexity.
The squid do the Watusi horizontally,
the yellow snapper mock us from the safety
of the shade of the sea ferns while
bull sharks hang low waiting
for the next opportunity that is 
one of us.
They know what straight lines mean, too.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Reza Aslan, Revisionist Extraordinaire

After watching several interviews of Reza Aslan, the first thing that is dscussed is his great education portfolio. He spent one entire three minute interview repeating his credentials to a befuddled, and unprepared, Fox News interviewer. His academics is the alpha and omega of his message. I'll explain.

Aslan says he heard the gospel, believed right away, then went around preaching the gospel for several years. He describes his first encounter with doubters, whom he says, "were more educated than I was". When he got to college, he found out the it (the gospel message) was not the case at all. "The Bible was replete with errors and contradictions." I find this interesting because I have been studying the Bible very closely for 15 years in a Bible Study - and five years before that trying to prove it false - and I find it more perfectly coherent each time I read it. But he finds something wrong in that it was written by many different hands over thousands of years. This is easily dismissed by the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is consistent because of inspiration not because of any political requirements being met. Here Aslan gives away a bit of his bias. 

If Aslan ever had a true intellectual grasp of the gospel, it doesn't appear to have had legs. For this reason, we teach the children in Bible Study to have a working knowledge of the Bible. Jesus' story is outrageous but it also fulfils the entire work of the Bible. One doesn't have a real faith in Jesus if they have only an emotional attachment to Christ, as Aslan had. Reza Aslan, uber-educated academic, appears to have been yet another one of those impressionable young professed Christians whose feet were planted in the shifting sands of emotional, sinners' prayer evangelicalism. 

When faced with the challenge to his faith, Reza Aslan dropped it like a cheap prom dress. Like the cheap prom dress that it was, I would add. In this Al Jazeera interview, And, poof, Aslan became angry because he believed something for so long "that wasn't even true!" I love these stories of "recovered Christians" who become atheists or, in Aslan's case, a Muslim. Both Islam and atheism are ports in the storms of unbelief. It's of interest to note that Aslan claims "Jesuits taught me to read the Bible that way, as a historical document." I would add a more descriptive word, "academically" which sums up  Aslan's foolishness.  His "fresh set of eyes" allows him to see Jesus as others see Him. He says this is a "historic" Jesus viewpoint. Again, it's a way of looking at Jesus neutrally. Unsurprisingly, Aslan's portrayal of Jesus in "Zealot" redefines the Messiah as a political ruler coming to kick out the Romans.

But he ignores the fact that the Old Testament describes two messianic visits, one in suffering (Isaiah 52-53, Psalms 16, 22-23, etc.) and one in victory, the Day of The Lord. If scholars really believed that Jesus was the messiah that would overthrow the political reality of His day, then they are discarding the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, contradicting God's Word. That was not a good interpretation on the part of the Sanhedrin and it still is a bad interpretation, Mr. Aslan.  

Aslan says "there's nothing unique about what Jesus says or what happens to him" because everyone who said they were the Messiah were eventuallly killed for being political zealots. This is a huge piece of hubris from the uber-academic. He discards everything Jesus said, categorizing Him as just another Messiah wannabe who was executed. One can only do this if they dismiss the gospels, and the Bible narrative Old Testament and New, along with it. 

Aslan is truly hung up on this interpretation as Jesus taking King David's place. "If you are dead, you are NOT the Messiah" as far as the Jews are concerned. Forget that they failed the Bible study themselves. I don't see how Jesus failed us because He supposedly failed the Pharisees. Check, please. "Jesus's followers claimed to have this ecstatic experience" and they redefined the Messiah. Again, he keeps coming back to the bad interpretation, that Jesus was to re-stablish David's kingdom. He says Jesus's disciples said no, He was to establish a heavenly kingdom. But, wait, didn't Jesus claim to be God? Why would God want to come down in 33 AD and become a politician? Because a few politically motivated Jews said so. And Reza Aslan agrees circa 2015 AD.

But the Bible is consistent in when that time comes when the Messiah takes the reigns politically. That's going to be all He wrote. The Day of The Lord. There were two comings predicted, one in suffering, one in power. But Aslan makes a disastrous leap of faith in the intervioew, and in his book, by putting Jesus in a box. Since He was a Jew, He understood "nothing else outside of Judaism". So God created Judaism to limit Himself? Where is that point in the OT? This a false premise which, unfortunately, Aslan builds his house upon. He claims that the concept of the Jewish God-Man did not exist. I'm not sure how he explains, "My name will be in Him" and "I will do it myself". I guess, if you make everything academic, you can pick and choose what you like to refute, and what you like to ignore.

To Aslan, the New Testament doesn't count because they were written years after Jesus affirming that He was God. Jesus would never seen Himself as God because He was a Jewish man. This is rubbish . Jesus's claims were not inconsistent with being the Messiah. There were false Messiahs, yes. But none whom stated their case perfectly and rose from the dead. And it is next to impossible that the disciples went to their deaths defending something they knew to be false, the Resurrection. Aslan notes that all the other messiahs' disciples went home. That's right, because they KNEW that their man hadn't come back from the dead. And, WHY would they believe that the Messiah would come back from the dead? Because the Bible told them so - the Old Testament told them so!

The Holy One will not "see decay", He will "rise on the third day", etc. Jews expected the Messiah to rise from the dead. So the question why did the disciples go and preach and change the world has a simple answer, Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling biblical prophecy. Aslan directly contradicts himself here when he states that a dead Messiah to the Jews is no messiah to the Jews.

Towards the end of the interview, Aslan makes another incredible blunder in describing  Jesus if He was merely the average person of His day. 98% of Jews couldn't read or write, so, you got it, Jesus couldn't read or write. Jesus was a carpenter, a laborer, therefore He was uneducated, dirt-poor, and ignorant. I call this last tactic "Horse-Track History" (see "Horse Track Historians Tackle Jesus"). By Aslan's "odds-are" logic, I would have to have been a liberal Democrat because both my parents are, or that I could never have become a Born-Again Christian because I never knew such a concept growing up. I feel almost sorry for an academic who uses such weak arguments.

Aslan is a revisionist who sits atop the intersection between academia and simple hubris. He has grabbed a false premise and expounds volumes of statements and conclusions based on contradictory interpretations. Again, an academic finds it easy to play around dismissing one fact while imagining another one into existence out of thin air. I wonder if he uses the same academic license in his examination of Islam. Before he's done perhaps he will create his own liberal pseudo-Islamic religion [Note: I wrote this before researching his latest book, "No God but God", and this seems to be very prophetic. He's given Mohammed a compete makeover!].  He says he's a Muslim who prays alongside his Christian wife. How ironic it is that his wife is by his side praying for his salvation.

One last thing to be clear about. Aslan dismisses any Christian attack on his improvised logic as, well. you know thoie Christians, "they get their knives out". And that is a good thing. Unlike Islam, we use the Sword of the Word to destroy arguments that are set up by the imaginations of men. Aslan is an imaginer. His arguments are based on false premises. He doesn't like the flawless message of Jesus Christ so he dismisses, and dismisses it quite sloppily, I might add. He disagrees with the God who created him, and imagines himself as his own judge. Good luck with that, Mr Aslan.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Science of the Holy Spirit



3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c]must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
The Holy Spirit is like the wind, invisible, yet measurable. Or is it? When we look at a tornado, we see the effects; a swirl of water and debris. What we see flying in the air is what the wind has drawn up into it;s currents. Airplanes fly on a cushion of air that is invisible. Air is invisible and we do not know where it is going without the frame of reference of the things moved by it.

The closer we explore Jesus's statements from a scientific perspective the more we can appreciate who He was. 21st Century scientific knowledge not only cannot stump Jesus, today's science reveals even deeper meanings in Jesus's teachings. I argue that this can only be possible if He were God, as He said He was. Not only does He fulfill hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, Jesus makes statements that need hundreds and even thousands of years of technology to reveal levels of meaning unavailable to the ancients. See The Omni-Science of Jesus Christ. So it is with the description of the spirit. This is vitally important because He goes on to say in John 4 that "God is spirit".

Wind is ruach in the Hebrew. It is the word for wind and the word for breath and for spirit. Ruach is an essential word for the invisible presence of God. Yet, like the wind, it can be measured two ways; one, by the actions of the things it moves, and, two, by what other wind it displaces that cannot be seen. These are related in that they both deal with measuring wind by what it moves about, one is visible and one invisible.

So how can we measure the Holy Spirit of God? The Bible testifies that it can be seen; the Shekinah Glory that shielded the Israelites in the wilderness and the transfiguration of the Messiah are two examples. The Bible thus claims the spirit has a physical dimension. Often we confuse reality by calling spirituality and physicality opposites. They do, in fact, intersect. While the spirit doesn't have a body - a physique - it has a physical dimension in that it can also work in the natural. And it, I should say He since we're talking about the Holy Spirit, is at work more in the natural than we could possibly imagine.

One way we can measure the Holy Spirit is if He makes Himself visible. I saw the Holy Spirit on the morning of November 20, 2001. My spirit was also overwhelmed in that awesome encounter. To this day, I can't describe that event in any detail without falling apart emotionally; joyfully falling apart, to be exact. I direct people to my blog posts on my conversion instead. But the experience of seeing the Holy Spirit is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience, although many have been fortunate to see Him more often when God was on the move, as in the Israelites' case.

But can we measure the invisible aspect of the Holy Spirit? Yes, in three ways. 1) We can look at the objects it moves around. William James based his "The Varieties of Religious Experience" on investigating life-changing results of the spirit's work in the world. He quickly discarded testimonies in which the people didn't show a remarkable change in how they lived. Instead, he focused on the alcoholic who never returned to drink. God, through His spirit, took away the alcoholic's desire to drink just as He took away my desire for strip clubs and going to bars till 2 in the morning. The change the spirit has on us can be quite noticeable over time. I have repeated many times my own sister's hilarious quote, "Whatever happened to James? It's as if he'd been abducted by aliens!" In fact, she's right. I was abducted by three aliens, in fact; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

2) The second way we can measure the Holy Spirit's effect is the spirit it displaces. This is more of a daily occurrence for the believer. The Holy Spirit drives out other spirits that are from the world that usually bring with them sexual urges, urges to drink something to get a buzz, mediocre thoughts of revenge and envy, and so on. The Holy Spirit drives them out. Sometimes the spirit falls on us when we are reading the Bible or are at church. Other times it falls on us unexpectedly, and uninvited, as it did in December, 2013 in this post when I was in the boring act of cutting meat while brooding over an argument. I've experienced the invasion of the Holy Spirit countless times since that first invasion back in November, 2001. I had actually cursed God before going to sleep the night before. Having tested the experience against the Word of God, I am absolutely convinced that it was none other than the Holy Spirit that woke me up at 345 am and gave me a loving embrace that will satisfy me forever. It is important to note that it is the Scriptures that give us the audience that lifts our personal experiences of God above the realm of private language. 

3) So what is the third way? When the spirit actually talks to us. This often happens to the believer in prayer. It's that idea, or that spark of brilliance, or that conviction that something you're about to write is wrong. Knowing God's spirit more and more has brought me to a clearer understanding of my own rotten, mediocre spirit. I KNOW when something didn't come from my mind but God's mind. Two of the best examples on this blog about God inserting His ideas in my prayers are "The Original" from 2006 and "Citizen Kane and Revelation 2:17" from 2014. God is the real God, the God of breakthrough, and He gives us glimpses into His reality. We cannot process the whole reality in our present state but God gives us that blessed assurance that we will see it all one day. In The Original I was praying over a question. Here's an excerpt:
On one of these prayer flotillas (in the pool) I was pondering how God inspired artists. I marveled at how artists and scientists could describe His world. Their work is a testament to the inspiration of His handiwork. Art and science are the fruit of God’s love. I ruminated for some time over how the fruit of His handiwork is everywhere. A statement barged in on my musings with such force that I know I hadn’t thought it up myself. 
“Don’t forget the tree!” I looked around to see if a neighbor was outside, but I realized that the sound must have come from inside my head. Thinking this unusual, I started to ponder its meaning. 
Don’t forget the tree! It soon came to me, that art and science are the fruits of the tree, His tree. But, no, that wasn’t it. I got an immediate “no” vibe. Then it came to me that the artwork was really a copy of the fruit, as the fruit of God’s tree is His work, not the artist’s.
I understood how God worked through artists, designers, scientists, etc. in producing the fruit that we praise but not even the Mona Lisas of the world compare to His original work of a woman's beauty or the magnificence of a T-Rex. Understanding comes through the spirit. We often thank God in my Bible study for the Holy Spirit that allows us to understand His Word.

In "Citizen Kane" I was ruminating over the mysterious statement in Revelation 2:17 that we would be given the "secret manna" and "a stone with a new name on it known only to you". I heard someone say "Rosebud" and my memory was awakened to Citizen Kane, a movie I hadn't seen since I was a teenager. My level of understanding of that verse exploded. I had to lock myself away for hours as I melted into a puddle of tears of joy. This was my excerpt from that experience:

I believe my new name will bring back a memory from a time God came close to me and embraced me, but I didn't know Him yet. It will not be some name that means nothing to me. My God equals meaning itself. He will not give me a new name that doesn't mean anything to me. He will give me a new name that will blow me away, that will confirm that He was always there through the good times and the bad. Sometime before I knew Him, He gave me a word that only He and I would know on the Day of Redemption. Our Word. Our connection. 
I conclude confidently that, while He remains mostly invisible, the Holy Spirit can be measured. Us believers cannot forget to test our spirits against the Word of God. There are spirits that are evil but, fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to help us reject them. The spirit gives us a resurrected conscience to know the difference between Holy and unholy, and gives us the power to make a choice. We have a choice. Jesus went to the cross to give us that choice. The Holy Spirit is our comforter to help us choose life, to choose ruach, to choose the breath of life. Choose well.