Plus Jamais

Plus Jamais

I’m gratified by the generally favorable attention garnered by the Je Suis Charlie Who? – aka “Onion” blog. At the same time some were puzzled and a few were angry. Two types of people responded “Quoi?”.Anti Zionist Symbol

Some found my meandering post hard to follow. Others twisted what I wrote, creating an opportunity to loudly and proudly use the “Zionist” epithet.  Many automatically lob that stone at anyone daring to discuss antisemitism.  They do so with impunity.  It is politically correct to harbor this particular brand of hate.The irony is not lost on those able to discern double standards and false equivalencies. This followup blog is an explanation to the confused and a challenge to Anti-Zionists.”

Je Suis Charlie” is a wonderful hope-filled phenomenon. But declaring to “Suis” Charlie begs the question of whether France and the Western world are committed to “Plus Jamais” (Never Again) disassociate themselves from the Jews. We need to l
ift up the onion layers donned by emperor Charlie to find out if  Je Suis solidarity will be enough to cover up France’s shame.

Shame?  What shame?

The shame that comes from having apologized for delivering Jews to the Nazis while failing to defend them from the  kinds of attackers that massacred the Charlie cartoonists. Attackers who target Jews systematically.  Deliberately. With malice, forethought, and genocidal intensity. And without provoking them with offensive cartoons.

JuifAfter the Holocaust the world exclaimed “Plus Jamais” and invited the Jews to establish a homeland called Israel in what was then called Palestine.  The Jews have been mercilessly attacked and brutally murdered for having done so. The “Je Suis” movement should have started years ago.  And it should be called “Je Suis Juif”. To those who think I’m over reacting – yesterday the Wall Street Journal ratified my onion blog.

Here’s a shout out to my friend Mike Rochelle, for pointing out the WSJ video to me! Do me, him and the world a favor – vote for his book “Lead with Love and Peace“.

And as my regular readers know, I challenge myself at the end of each blog to take a fresh look at the topic, by pulling a random Virtues Card. Today I pulled  Righteousness. The first four sentences in the lengthy description are as follows.

“Righteousness is living by a code of moral rectitude. It is practicing impeccable integrity in light of what we know is right. We don’t allow the fads of the day to sway us from doing the right thing. Nor do we stand in judgment of others.”

Wow. It brings another French word to mind. Apropos.

Even though some may judge me as standing in judgment of others. To that idea, I say “non”.  This blog merely peels off an onion layer or two, shedding light on a topic that invites us to judge ourselves. Only we know who and what we are, and whether what we say we are is true or not.


Je Suis Charlie Who?

Je Suis Charlie Who?

My Bachelor of Arts degree features a major in Theology and a Minor in French. This odd combination qualifies me for very, very little. It does, however, lead me to reflect on what is just below the surface of the current Je Suis Charlie meme sweeping the Western World.

Searching for truthDr. David Wainwright, may he rest in peace, not only taught me French, he was one of my most respected mentors and an accomplished public speaker, who wasn’t afraid to address topics others avoided. I often reflect on a sermon he gave in the 80’s for the church that sponsored Ambassador College, where I was studying. He used the layers of the onion to symbolize how ignorance and misinformation must be stripped away to uncover truth.

What interested me most is that his analogy was true to the onion. There was nothing inside.  He didn’t put defined boundaries around Truth, which is why he was such a powerful mentor. He left it up to the individual, even within an organization generally comprised of people telling us exactly what to believe.  The balance between a collective and personal view is a topic that fascinates me.

Which ends the general philosophical noodling and gets to the point of this blog – the situation in France. Many Americans find the French rude and stuffy, but I love the language, the culture, and the people. I came to know them quite well living with four different families across northern France, including the Paris region, during a college immersion program. They can be very warm, genuine, and have big hearts. But the individuals aside, when it comes to their collective approach to Islamic Terrorism over the last 50 years there is little to like about France.

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie

Suddenly everyone knows Charlie Hebdo – the French weekly satire magazine which may have inspired an American equivalent, The Onion, founded in Madison, where I live today. Ironic, since the meme from the Charlie Hebdo attacks is “Je Suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie”. Stripping off the layers of this French onion reveals that Charlie is an American whose last name is Brown. Yes, it’s the peanuts character. Do the French know this, and relate to Charlie Brown, I wonder? Do they have a Charlie Brown style anxiety about identifying with the Jews?

Is that, perhaps, why they tried to exclude Israeli Premier Netanyahu from participating in the recent rallies? Among the people who can legitimately claim “Je Suis Charlie” the Jews should be considered exhibit A. How can the French be so gauche? Where did such attitudes and perspectives originate?

The roots of the modern nation’s conflicted relationship to terrorism may be embedded in France’s own “Reign of Terror“. That, and the focus of their own colonialism may be behind their affinity for the Arab world which over the last 50 years has focused way too much of its energy on hatred for Israel. It goes beyond attacking cartoonists, it denies Israel’s right to exist, and seeks to drive its people into the sea. And while elements of French society are anti-Islam, they pale in comparison to France’s historic antisemitism. France has a long and illustrious history with this particular evil, which became especially visible during the World War II era.

It continues to lurk in the shadows, but can be clearly seen, if you know where to look. A double standard was applied to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the subsequent attack at a Jewish Supermarket. This hypocrisy goes hand in hand with the false equivalency France applies to Israel and its enemies. There is an old “joke” that Europe has never forgiven the Jews for the Holocaust, which highlights the ongoing tendency to blame the victims of Islamic Terrorism, – when they’re Jewish, which they usually are. For this reason it’s especially important to pay attention to how France ultimately processes the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Will they finally begin to hold the perpetrators, including their culture and beliefs, responsible for the global hatred and murder that is being spawned, or will they childishly and selfishly focus on the handful of their own who fell victim to it? Will this current crisis drive the people of France to peel back the layers of the onion that have formulated their national perspectives in this confusing and troubled age? Or will they continue to scapegoat Israel and the Jews for a problem they, in fact, helped create?

Alan Dershowitz, for example, goes so far as to say the French “Played Footsie with Terrorists“. They’ve done this with Israel too. They enabled the Israeli nuclear program, which arguably has enabled Israel to survive, and thrive, as a beacon of multicultural diversity in a dark region. But France regretted their participation. They are torn, conflicted, and don’t really know who they are or what they stand for.  They don’t want to be seen as Antisemetic, but they still can’t identify with the Jews. Those sentiments run deep. In fact, there are those who believe Arabs imported antisemitism from Christian countries in Europe.

Regardless of where one stands on these various topics, and of the issues of concern in this current wave of French solidarity, I applaud the engagement of the French on the topic of the attack on Charlie. And as Dershowitz pointed out, the US President should absolutely have joined in. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And there are worse icons we could identify with than a newspaper that adopted Charlie Brown as its muse. But all of us, and at this moment in time, especially the French, need to reflect deeply on who and what we are.  We shouldn’t just “Suis” the latest fad. Reacting to attacks and conforming to mass movements is a fast and effective way to wrap more onion layers around large groups of people.

Diligent independent investigation of the truth is required to emerge from behind the veils of the onion layers, and into the light. If enough individuals engage in this activity, society can be transformed. Civilization has proven repeatedly that when large masses of people quickly adopt an identity they don’t fully understand, there are lots of tears. They flow freely when history crushes the onions we choose to inhabit.

Peeling the onionIn keeping with a blogging promise I made some time ago, I pulled a random Virtues card (from my deck of 100 cards obtained through The Virtues Project) and Courage came up. No challenge making many connections here. I’ll just end with excerpts of the quote from the front of the card and let my readers form their own. After all, each of us lives inside our own unique onion.

It’s helpful, though, as we’ve done here, to reflect upon the soil in which it grew. As you do, do so with Courage. And strip those layers off – one by one.

“Courage transforms fear into determination. It is embracing life fully, without holding back, doing what must be done even when it is difficult or risky. When we are tempted to give up courage supports us to take the next step. Courage opens us to new possibilities, and gives us the strength to sacrifice for what we love. At times we need courage to accept the truth, and to pick ourselves up after mistakes, ready to make amends and try again.”



The Covenant Signs

The Covenant Signs

The Mosaic CovenantThe People of the Sign tells the seemingly tall tale of a wild and woolly journey crossing virtually every terrain known to man.  The protagonist (yours truly) is tossed across these landscapes by disorienting childhood experiences and navigates toward a new home in Christ using a compass on which True North is defined as the Sign of the Mosaic Covenant.  The resulting school-of-hard-knocks lessons leave our hero scanning the skies trying to connect the dots of the heavenly stars in an effort to escape a dead end.

The sequel, The Hardness of the Heart, drops the reader in waters more profound, with circular waves spreading out in a wider, but no-less relentless search for answers.  The rudder of the Sign of the Mosaic Covenant is replaced by a greater understanding of the Signs that Christ gave.  In the current, however, we find that these 2,000 year old answers are not current enough.

On the shore beckons a third volume, The Rod of Iron (please click and vote to help land its publication date) which provides a road map updated with additional Covenant Signs, designed to better orient us in the present day. Understanding where we are at in the divine unfolding of humanity’s destiny, in the clear light of these Covenant Signs, is the primary aim of this trilogy, especially the concluding volume.

We see the tide of radical and militant Islam, for example, challenging our understanding of the Christian Covenant, which is focused on Loving our neighbor, or to use a more ancient formulation of that principle, our brother.  I submit that lessons laid down at the time of Adam, wherein Cain slew Abel, and God asked him about it, are pertinent to this discussion.  The question for us is whether we are willing to be our brother’s keeper, or if we follow in the way of Cain?

To find out how we should behave, in order to be the former, we can fast forward from Cain to Noah.  Upon close examination we learn that the Covenant Signs are fractal patterns of importance to subsequent history.

Sign of the Noachian CovenantSome say the Noachian Covenant is unconditional. I say this is not entirely true. Yes, the promise encompassed in its Sign is unconditional – but God lays out conditions that go along with that unconditional promise. Look at Genesis 9, especially verses 4-6, and consider how they integrate with the promise in the Sign of the Rainbow.

9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

My point may seem to advocate vigilante justice, and there may in fact have been a time and place for that.  But as we roll through history, accumulating the lessons of Moses and Christ, we find that we are required to set up systems of justice that incorporate the requirements of all the Covenants.   It is our responsibility to establish courts and the rule of law, and to implement national systems, to resist evil doers and administer the just punishment required by law, while our personal burden is to love and forgive.  Without both of these, neither is possible.

Are the Signs of the Covenants represented in the Zodiak?Such insights are, IMHO, critical for those who wish to understand how God has been developing His creation, over time, particularly the pinnacle of His creation – Man. The Covenant Signs are critical to find our route on the spiritual road map.  The Covenant Signs not only help us understand the direction we need to take, they show us the only path to our intended destination.

The Rod of Iron adds so much more to this discussion, and I hope you’ll take a moment to click on the link and vote for it.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in actively engaging in a dialogue on this and related topics, please join us in The People of the Sign facebook discussion group.

Do Religions Love Hate?

Do Religions Love Hate?

Does religion teach us to love hate?

Many religious zealots love to hate

Yesterday’s Apes, Pigs & the Sabbath blog caused a small stir in a few discussion groups.

Some deleted it because I dared to raise the topic of Islam in “Christian” or “Biblical” discussion groups.  Others launched into a tirade against religion, with some advising that we “rewrite” the Holy Texts to get rid of the evil they represent.  All this in reaction to a simple request that  “As we go to war against Islamic extremists, be aware of the religious roots!”

My editor (for The People of the Sign Trilogy) asked me why I left the topic so open, for people to draw their own conclusions, vs. clearly stating the outcome of my analysis.  My answer was that it is more important to me for people to draw their own conclusions, vs. telling them what I think.  But apparently a primer is needed.

ISIS/ISIL is driven by religious fundamentalism – but fundamentalism is a misnomer.  It implies that they literally follow the Koran.  They don’t.  If they were to actually READ the texts upon which their love of hate is based, they would come to see that what they are doing is wrong – by their OWN moral code.

My blog dipped into the source texts, an advisable direction, as education is surely a major part of the solution.

The idea of re-writing the Koran, which a billion people fervently believe in, is in my view not only unrealistic, it is wrongheaded. These millions are already killing people for disrespecting their prophet – far better to understand and teach that the writings of their prophet condemn their actions.  This is the approach that Jesus took with the Pharisees of His day, for example.

What I found most discouraging were the attitudes of condescension, ignorance, and frankly arrogance, from materialists insisting that there is absolute and conclusive proof against all the claims of those who believe in anything not easily measured by science.  One would think that understanding where other peoples and cultures are coming from, and building reasonable bridges, would be an approach embraced by those who profess objective science to be a better path to truth.

By investing even a few minutes to read the blog, and discuss the topic as presented, we can be better armed for the next time the “Apes and Pigs” epithet is thrown down.  We can see that there is no need to react like a pack of howling dogs to the poisonous red meat, whether in offense at the Antisemitism in evidence, or  in disdain at the inhuman ignorance.  One would be empowered to clearly show that the Source Texts which are being used to hurl this epithet say the opposite.

Darkness is the absence of lightThe Koran insists that Muslims show the utmost respect to Jews and their beliefs. The “Apes and Pigs” epithet originated as a description of the hypocrisy of Jews who claimed the benefits of adherence to the Sabbath law, while actually breaking it. Thus the Koran indicts anyone who would criticize a Jew for being Jewish – the exact thing extreme fundamentalists are doing.  This would apply even more strongly to those who oppose a “Jewish State” – one that esteems the Sabbath command, against which the comments in the Koran clearly do not apply.

And this is but the very tip of the iceberg. If we were to study the historical roots of Islamic Antisemitism we find that a large share of the blame lies at the feet of the Christian community, for introducing such ideas FROM THE WEST into the Arab Muslim community.  A key quote from the wikipedia article on Islamic Antisemitism sums this up with “Initially these prejudices only found a reception among Arab Christians and were too foreign for any widespread acceptance among Muslims.”

If we wish to work for peace, and promote the growth of a better society we cannot ignore, dismiss or demonize the beliefs and practices that led to our modern day.  For those who do reject religion entirely to do so could be likened to trying to proclaim that you believe in evolution while rejecting the fact that we descended from inferior species, including pigs and apes.  Instead of knee-jerk condemnation and uninformed reactions we must understand and overcome the negative trajectory of those elements of society with intelligence, detachment, and love.  Educating the fanatic masses as to what their Holy Book actually says would begin to undo the appeal and power of ISIS/ISIL.

And we should make this a priority, because even though we should defensively resist such murderous cancer with force, we are not generally in a good position to be casting the first stone.