A Special People?

A Special People?

We have children of a certain age – 4 and 7. So I can relate to Jami, the author of this blog on a child’s piano recital. She humorously points out that she wants her children to know they “aren’t that great”. “You’re not better than others”.

I'm Better Than YouShe somewhat convincingly suggests that this is the message of Christ. It’s a great blog, and it inspired me to try to tackle this important topic myself, however imperfectly, because Jami’s blog raises a question that is at the heart and core of my book – “The People of the Sign”.

Why does God seemingly tell Israel, in Deuteronomy 7:6, the opposite of what Jami proclaims as the message of Christ?

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Isn’t telling one people they shall be raised above all others the opposite of what Christ tried to accomplish? Isn’t Christ’s approach to this at the heart of why the Pharisee’s hated Him, and killed Him? Isn’t this question at the heart of all religious strife on this planet today, as evidenced by the highly explosive situation in the Middle East, focused on Israel?

This is a blog, not a treatise on theology, so at the risk of oversimplifying I’ll discuss just two quick points on why there is no contradiction between Moses and Christ.

First – if you want to find evidence of progressive revelation, that God has been raising mankind, the way parents raise children, here it is. Every parent knows you fill your children with love in infancy. You make sure they know that they are THE most important thing in your life. This statement by God is 100% in alignment with that principle.

Life is hardBut does that relegate Moses to “baby talk” – a lovingly told divine lie, a bait and switch, in which the baby later learns “it’s a cruel world, and I know I told you that you were special, but you really aren’t?”

There is a parallel verse that can help us answer this – Exodus 19:5

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

Here we see, clearly, that God conditions such elevation. The same principle of “you are a special treasure above all people” is outlined in Exodus 19:5, but with a caveat. “If you will indeed obey”. Is God interested in being obeyed? Not so much. He is interested in the results of obedience. His laws are “great making”. The greatness part comes as a result of the learning that comes from obeying God’s holy and perfect law. And it does elevate the keepers of it above others, because they do become great.

And, in fact, the New Testament also addresses Christians as “a special people, a royal priesthood”. And there is a whole lot of theology that tries to deal with the seeming contradiction I raised above. The New Testament writers after Christ, especially Paul, and the religion that was constructed upon an imperfect understanding of what Christ brought, have wrestled with this question down to our day.

A major problem with Judaism is that, as a result of historical failure to keep the law they wrote a never ending series of protective laws, to ensure it was kept. A major problem with Christianity is that Divine Law was thrown out altogether. Today, we are still trying to figure this out, but it’s really not that hard. Check out my blog on a little known book called The Secret of Divine Civilization for a practical example of this.

HumilityWe are trending toward World War III because religious fanatics have so twisted and overheated the hearts of millions of followers that they are willing to risk global conflict to prove that they, not the modern nation of Israel, are the chosen ones of God. Secular society, on the other hand, abandons all Divine guidance.

At the center of all this is the worlds only Jewish State – and a people who, after 4,000 years and millennia of suffering, may be closer than we think to the answers to this conundrum. These are, in a sense, The People of the Sign – since the Sign in the name of my first book refers to the Sign of the Covenant God made with Israel – the Sabbath. But the answer to why I believe they are close to a breakthrough will have to wait for another day.

The Iran Reset is a Boiling Frog

The Iran Reset is a Boiling Frog

Powell IranColin Powell is cautiously in favor of the Iran Reset, so we who oppose it on rational grounds must sit up and take notice. Yet the most telling quote in the linked article was “With respect to the Iranians, it’s don’t trust, never trust, and always verify,” Powell said. “And I think a very vigorous verification regime has been put in place.”

Setting aside the fact that our past verification regime has failed because of the advanced refinement of Iran’s capabilities in subterfuge, deception and duplicity, this key question demands an answer. If we don’t trust them, at this point, and should never trust them, and we FINALLY had them (through all the international sanctions) at the point of negotiation, why have we offered so much, for so little, to a nation that clearly has NO intention of adhering to the agreement?

Obama reset IranIn my view it boils down (pun intended) to whether or not the US feels it has behaved so badly that we have to give Iran a mile-high-stack of get-out-of-jail free cards on past behaviors – the kind of “reset” that the Obama administration gave Russia.

And while no nation on earth, including the US, is squeaky clean – by any stretch of the imagination, that is no reason to give one of the most cancerous regimes on the planet, in terms of global security and peace, such a windfall of new opportunity to reveal its spots. These spots are, after all, already so much on display that they have become a kind of boiled-frog camouflage. The rest of the world is jaded and accepting of them.

Given where all this is clearly trending, despite Powell’s “balanced” position – I still say nay.
And to the Colin Powells of the world, those who are principled and who seek rational, moderate, and peaceful paths, within the ambient temperature of today’s waters, I offer the following thoughts. As we seek to retain objectivity and approach our current situation rationally we must include a broader historical perspective.  Here, for example, is an article that challenges convention by pointing out a number of “inconvenient truths” from the past, that should ABSOLUTELY be considered in any present-day decisions. A few of the bulleted highlights are included below:
  • Forgotten is that the “Palestinian people” and the “Palestinian cause” are a mythic narrative invented by the KGB and Nasser’s secret service propaganda machine in the 1960s.
  • Hamas has an even more genocidal goal: the destruction of Israel and all Jews. For many journalists, that is also a detail not worth mentioning.
  • The Iranian regime claims non-stop that its main objective is the elimination of Israel and Israeli Jews. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just published a book, Palestine, detailing his plans to destroy Israel.

Frog Iran ResetThat these points possibly seem hysteric, or have the taint of conspiracy theory makes my point for me. Rather than reject them because they are outside the mainstream, try to prove them factually wrong, if you can.  And be aware that myopic present-situation-colored reset buttons are the ideological equivalent of boiling a frog in water. We accept the increased heat as the new norm. This is very risky approach – one which all warm-blooded species should avoid at all costs.


Freedom v. Religion?

Freedom v. Religion?

Freedom From ReligionThis blog continues a discussion started in my last blog and ties it in with my opinion that the United States risks turning a founding principle – freedom of religion – into freedom from religion.

Religious Freedom is a primary source of the unparallelled ascendancy of the US and of its influence in human affairs. Many seek to exercise this freedom in an effort to align the nation with the Will of God as expressed in the Bible. This anchors one side of the so-called “Culture War” which has been emerging for 150 years, and which in recent decades has given birth to the red/blue state divide.

Obergefell v. HodgesThe rainbow symbolizes two extremes. One side invokes Noah’s flood as described in Genesis 6:5: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on same-sex marriage the President turned the White House into a rainbow.  Storm clouds are gathering over an epic battle for religious freedom.

Mormon Polygamists in PrisonBack in 1878 SCOTUS ruled in Reynolds vs. the United States that you can hold a religious belief in polygamy, but you can’t act on it. Why are polygamists jailed while same-sex couples are protected? What kinds of impulses qualify as those which can be acted upon, vs. those which can’t? Are there other cases which shed light on these questions?

Hobby Lobby ObamacareIn Burwell v. Hobby Lobby SCOTUS ruled that Hobby Lobby can ignore “Obamacare’s” birth-control mandate for religious reasons. “Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business” they said. A Huffington Post article assures conservatives nothing has changed.

Gay Wedding RingsThis rings hollow. An Oregon court fined Aaron and Melissa Klein $135,000 for refusing to bake a lesbian wedding cake. Is Sweet Cakes different than Hobby Lobby? Yes, because one was about an offering to all employees, the other about discriminating against certain customers. And Sweet Cakes’ owners acted foolishly and punitively, while Hobby Lobby can be said to have acted wisely, with restraint. Still, to determine the Sweet Cakes fine an employee discrimination case, in which one would expect higher fines, was used.  And some believe “militant gays” are using the new state and federal rulings to target a different minority – Christians with anti same-sex beliefs. The outcome of  Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Craig (Denver, CO) may shed light or throw fuel on the fire.

To help reflect on this I randomly picked a Virtues Card and came up with Hope – “looking to the future with trust and faith”. Interestingly, the card features the rainbow. Coincidence?

Noah's Covenant and Gay PrideI don’t believe in coincidence and I believe America’s roots tap into divine soil. She plays a pivotal role in the Creator’s purpose and I have faith she will continue to do so. The card says “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.” This is one of the reasons I chose to tackle this thorny and potentially divisive topic in this blog. I have hope – and I hope that a discussion, a dialogue, will lead to answers, and peace, and reconciliation, and unity. After all, the motto on our great seal is “e pluribus unum”.

Mosaic Flag


Supporting the POTUS

Supporting the POTUS

ConstitutionIn a recent online discussion I voiced disagreement with the President of the United States (POTUS) and was reminded that since he is President of my country I must support him.

Yes, the POTUS is the President. But the US Constitution is built upon the separation of Powers – between the President, the Congress, and the Judicial system (the Law).

separation of powersThe President had Congress behind him, in an almost unprecedented way, upon his election 6 years ago. Under his leadership his party has lost “control” of congress, and he is now acting in opposition to Congress. This is one reason Congress invited Netanyahu to speak, to provide a counterpoint to negotiations the President is conducting which specifically do not have the support of a majority of the American population, which many, myself included, deem wrongheaded and reckless, and which endanger the security of America and the world. In the American democracy we have not only the right, but the obligation, to make these views known, in an effort to influence and moderate the President’s decisions.

Further, the global Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty is a legal document.

The President does NOT have the authority to unilaterally change that treaty, which (if the reports are accurate) he is undermining in his negotiations with Iran at this point in time. If he then proceeds to execute an agreement with Iran without congressional approval, he will be acting in violation of the law, and will serve to further destabilize the world which was made a safer place through the execution of that Non-proliferation treaty.

Already other nations are positioning themselves for the new “treaty-violated” world Obama is creating. Exhibit A is the agreement the Saudi’s reached with North Korea.

Thus, while my discussion partner made a valid point, it is pointless. I fully support the President of the US, so long as the President is acting within the constitutional rights we elected him to exercise and also uphold. To the degree he is acting outside those rights, or violating them, we need to support the Congress and the Judicial branch even if it means opposing the President.

That is the nature of the balance of powers which is what, even more than presidential leadership, has made this country great.

Nuclear NonproliferationObama betrayed that trust when he failed to take meaningful action to protect the sovereignty of Ukraine against the Russian aggression in Crimea, and he is apparently proceeding with a disastrous deal with Iran. I am very, very far from being a hawk. I think war is atrocious, and I do not wish to send American’s overseas to fight wars.

But I am also a student of history and geopolitics. As such, I know for an undeniable fact, that when we pursue the path of appeasement so infamously pursued by Chamberlain, vs. the path of opposition so famously advocated by Churchill, the result is more war, death, destruction and chaos, not less.

Unfortunately it has become very clear in the last 4 years that Obama is pursuing a path worse than that taken by Chamberlain. Obama is not only appeasing aggressor states, he is advocating for the expansion of their influence, power and even military capabilities, in the case of both Russia, which his “reset” and more importantly, the entire Muslim world, beginning with his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which pushed that country towards the brink of chaos, from which it thankfully recovered, from his failure to adhere to his own “red line” in Syria, in favor of letting Russia’s role increase, his withdrawal from Iraq, leading to the rise of Isis, and now his overt efforts to empower, embolden and even encourage Iran to continue it’s aggressive regional expansion.

The story of The Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly comes to mind. We’re about to start choking on the Iranian horse intended to catch the ISIS cow we allowed by ignoring the Syrian dog when we swallowed the cat of withdrawing from Iraq.

The thinking that got us here einsteinDespite the president’s ludicrous claim, just a few months ago, that the world was a safer place, anyone who is able to assess the world objectively understands that nothing could be further from the truth.

Interestingly, the Virtue Card randomly chosen to conclude this blog was Initiative. Here are some of the quotes from the card: “Initiative is originality and creativity in action. When we have initiative we boldly express new ideas, discover a new method, or find a different way to solve a problem.”

We can fix this, America, but given how far we’ve strayed it’s not going to be easy. The time to take initiative is now.