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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Prayer for the "Shorn Again" Christians

Prayer for the Shorn-Again Christians

October 25, 2004

As Abraham Lincoln said: There are many times in the course of one’s life when there is simply no better alternative than to fall upon one’s knees in prayer.

The pollsters are telling us this is a "close" election. The electioneers say that the "born again" Christians are backing George W. Bush. I am on my knees, with shock and horror.

Do the professed followers of Christ know what they do?

Do not give up Hope. The dialogue with the Holy Spirit is impossible to eradicate. Can't happen. Part of our "thought-process" is inquiry, remonstration, and a search for redemption. And all the fear-mongering of false preachers and election-engineers is not going to make the Holy Spirit go away. Surely the pollsters are wrong about the gullibility of the Christians. Surely the "born again" know better than to listen to lies again, again, and again. Surely they have ears to hear the truth, and fingers to type in Search engines on the web for information. Pray that THEY SHALL NOT BE SHORN AGAIN.

Religion is an indispensable force for upholding human dignity. Justice is a universal value -- invoked by everyone from dictators to peasants, rich and poor. And the moral force of Justice, the ferocious part, the substance that gives meaning to the procedure, is the thing that makes Justice Just. Our sense of Justice is not going away. It is not endangered. It has nothing, nothing to fear, from the world or from the fear-mongers of the world.

Religion has historically been far more threatened by the hypocrites within it than by any assault from the "outside". This has never been more true than today.

Science, of course, confirms that "spirituality" is hard-wired into us. Our divinity is not threatened by materialist grifters and vote-grabbers. But our wallets are. The largest federal government in history, courtesy of the Republican Congress and President Bush, with a new and unprecedented appetite in lock-step with transnational corporations, answerable to no law or moral code, are taking all the money. America has never before been so burdened with both private and public Debt. In just four years, more billions have been actually spent – it is gone into the pockets of the CEOs– of our childrens’ childrens’ money, than in the previous two hundred years of Government.

Has the Republican Party actually captured the Christians? Who can explain this? Karl Rove is not a church-going Christian with any demonstrable theological interest or Christ-like Christ-leveraged behavior. Is he a divine? Or simply a manipulator of our credulity.

Look at the facts:

The Bush Family. NONE of the people around either of the Presidents Bush -- none of the brothers, fathers or grandfathers, none of the women -- have shown any interest in Scripture. No theology, no papers, books, inspiration. They do not quote the Bible, but the appeal to general Christian traditions. This is like Osama bin Laden who almost never quotes the actual language of the Koran, and yet he appeals to Islamic prejudices.

George Bush has many friends. We know who they are. None of these friends are recognized theologians. None are known for charity or kindness. ALL of them are "business executives" whose names we have sadly gotten to know from a series of record-breaking bankruptcies, corporate scandals, and truly thuggish acts of energy piracy. His close friends include the family descendants of the great and secular Ibn Saud who is now spinning in a grave completely desecrated by fanatic "Islamicists" – also touting exclusive beliefs at odds with their actual behavior.

President Carter wrote a lovely book of redemptive poems and prayers. He has traveled around the world getting Peace on the table. He builds houses for poor people. I mention him for the contrast – Nothing like these acts of charity from any of the Bush cabal who curiously do not fail to heap abuse upon Carter’s quiet reputation. The retired President Bush – how has he spent his time while receiving his publicly-funded retirement money?

The Cabinet. The Bush Cabinet is an exclusive club. It has allowed fewer Press Conferences and invited fewer outsiders in than all previous modern Presidencies. Why the secrecy? They are drawing salaries as "public servants". When is the last time one of them reported to you?
Do they pray together? It is not a prayer circle. Not according to ALL of the books written by the high level participants who were "fired" by Rowe because they expressed disagreements with Rowe's policies.

Real Religion is inclusive. Redemption is not the monopoly of a personality. The Bush Cabinet is simply not "Christian". They are not loved or loving. There is not a lot of doctrinal or behavioral difference between the Republicans and the Islamicists who mutually despise each other.
The icons of the Republican Party.

The Reagan and Nixon "libraries" are now museums. They are visible monuments to the complete absence of Christian witness either of these men brought to the world. Sadly, there is little or nothing in either sanctum which remotely reflects the unique message of Christ.
Just viewing these monuments, it is apparent that the Republican Party has devoted itself to material acquisition and to a "war" against enemies they invoke using tactics that are simply NOT JESUS.

I do not know what has taken over the Republican Party, but it is a terrible terrible terrible shame.

True Religion in this world is both a dominant force and also a "counter-culture". It is ecumenical -- in the sense of the "First Things" which Richard John Neuhaus writes about. The religious blessing is not the property of a secret "conservative" cabal.

Until Bush announced that he was one, almost everyone used to love Christians. For one thing, followers of Christ are very likely to love you, and it is very easy to love them right back. Christ is the only religious leader who taught Love and Charity even to one's enemies. If a person excludes me, prohibits me, tries to kill me, says terrible things about me, or just entirely ignores my pain....that person is simply not a Christian. The people-hater is not a believer in Christ's teachings.

Muhammad, for example, taught his apostles to slaughter the Jews and expressly recommended a life of pillage. Read the Koran. Muhammad instructs his followers to annihilate non-believers. He tells them to lie. He literally said to his followers, as he dressed his sword for infidel blood, "Bring them on!" Those words are a great inspiration to Islamicists. These are people who are NOT "washed in the blood" of the lamb, they are slaughtering the lamb.
Would Jesus plan a "negative campaign"? Again and again and again? The "attack ad" is the watermark of Karl Rowe who has introduced a quality of deception into political discourse which makes mere "dirt" look attractive. Is such a man "born again"? To what? He is washed in dirt.

Kerry and Edwards, Bush and Cheney, all claim to be Christians. Why are some Christians choosing to vote for the two most UN-Christian candidates of the four?

The answer is not simple:

Most "born again" Christians have a genuine desire to have moral and upright leaders. And most Christians know that one of the most evil things on the planet is hypocrisy.

But why would any person "born again" to Christ vote for Bush over Kerry? Why are Christians apparently overlooking a life-time of a misspent, spoiled, prolonged dependence and lack of accomplishment on the part of Bush, and failing to recognize a life-time of scholarship, courage in battle, public service, and accomplishment on the part of Kerry?

At the heart of this "choice" are two pseudo-Christian "themes". These are not actually "Christian" themes – Christ said absolutely nothing about either one of these topics. However, the "Party Line" has been developed for several decades: "Christians" today are supposed to be sensitive about two issues: (1) homosexuality, and (2) abortion.

Republican media manipulators have spent decades honing these two pseudo-Christian issues into a sword. They are not substantive or even theological issues. They have no "solution". They are political "distractors". These "themes" play the same role that War plays for tyrannical leaders – they are emotionally compelling, appealling to bigots who can be manipulated, and they "wag the dog" while the tyrant dips deeply into the public treasury for his personal benefit.

Interestingly, even though Christ never expressly disavowed homosexuality or abortion, he did have a lot to say about "sharing" – love, grace, peace, justice, humility, and even righteousness. Christ did not just speak in generalities here, he gave lots of specific examples. The worst sin is idolatry – taking wealth, or falling into a worldly addiction, over God. The greatest virtue is loving others.

Christ said it is easier for a camel to cobble itself through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get anywhere near Heaven. This is an express admonition. Any questions?

Christ also expressly repudiated the Pharisee tradition of choosing the procedure of "law" or the appearances, over the substance of righteousness and justice. He freed the people from the ugly deceptions and hypocrisy of oppressive leaders and their "rules" that they themselves do not obey. Want to work seven days a week? Ignore the 400-plus dietary restrictions of the Pentateuch? Go ahead. If the purification rites just look fussy to you, Christ would let that go too.

The ritual slaughtering of fattened calves, or entire bulls? Let’s face it, a lot of trouble. Better to provide for the real needs of real people.

Instead of judging our fellows for their failures to obey the Seven Pillars of this, or the restrictions of that "book of numbers", Christ admonished us to keep focussed, say on TWO: (1) Love the Lord, (2) and each other! The Messiah’s first miracle was to turn water into wine at a nice party. Christ freed us, and continues to free us, from oppression. But what if we VOTE FOR continued oppression and theft of our Treasury and Resources? How long will we be free?

Christ did not allow Christians to be selective about Which Commandments to obey. He expressly, repeatedly and very specifically disavowed a whole bunch of ugly sins. He railed against, cautioned about, and admonished against sins. And perhaps leading the parade of injunctions – The Ten Commandments.

Of course, the two entirely secular themes of same-gender desire and abortion, are not mentioned in any of the Commandments, nor in any of Christ’s serious pleadings passed down to us in any of the Gospels or even the Apocrypha.

Do you feel like a baseball bat just whooooshed next to your ear? Pay attention, Christian, to what is swinging nearby -- it is not someone else's gender, or their choices, it is your own that you are responsible for. Their choices are not yours to make. You are not the redeemer of other people’s sins. Anyone who threatens to make Constitutional Amendments for their own "wars" – targeting people who are already down instead of the real issues which confront our security – is not political conservative, is not a friend, and is certainly not a Christian.

A lot of things that are bad are made worse with bad laws. The "conservatives" who decided to take choice away from families by passing laws of prohibition are neither conservative nor Christian. Let us examine very comparable examples:

Drunken-ness. We can prohibit drunks and youthful desires of the human heart all we want. It is quite easy. Part of me is a permanent member of the Prohibition Party. But this instinct for prohibition, this intrusion on personal responsibility and "choice", entirely misses the point. People choose to disobey.

Shall we pass a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit this dangerous activity? Would people obey the law? The grievous Sin of Drink was the subject of an experiment that has been tried–no less than as a Constitutional Amendment.

Killing by Car. People drive incredibly dangerous absolutely suicidal instruments of death we call "cars". More people are slaughtered on the highway in America annually, than were killed in the 20 years of the Viet Nam War. Is it better to absolutely prohibit the operation of any vehicle going faster than a horse can gallop, or is it better to license all drivers?

Gambling is addictive, takes advantage of human gullibility, creates an irresistible opportunity for fraud, and frequently results in starving children because it often wipes their parents out of all their property. It is a global trillion-dollar obsession.

Is it better to prohibit the activity and leave it to gangsters to become trillionaires, or regulate it and at least get SOME benefit from taxing it where we can see it and try to keep it out of the hands of people willing to take other people’s money for nothing and who will otherwise control this "bad" thing.

Abortion. Laws or not, people will have abortions. For how many years have women and their families desperately sought abortions? Is a Constitutional Amendment going to stop this? This is not a recent interest taken up by a few incorrigibles – it has gone on for 100,000 years. Bush is now proposing a Constitutional amendment. We know this is not a "solution" to an ancient problem. What is his agenda that motivates him to say he wants a Constitutional amendment to the "born again" population?

As recently as just a few decades ago in most States, back-room "barbers" were poking wires up a million women, killing both the fetus and the mother. Even if all abortions are awful, is it not wiser to bring as much decency into the procedure as possible? Is it not better that a very awful thing be done by licensed doctors who at least know how not to kill the mother?

The Christians, like Saint Paul said, will wipe the "sleep" from their eyes, and awaken to the reality of Hope, not the false gods of hatred and material conflict.

Christians have an unusual opportunity to vote for people who act with respect for us. Leaders who are not privatizing their gains at our public expense. Kerry is a battle-tested hero with the intelligence to think for himself. Vote for the Commander in Chief who will unite our country and its allies. There is only one man in the entire country today who can do this. Kerry has already done it once before -- remember the vicious "polarization" of the 60's?

I first despised Kerry as a "traitor"-- I was a soldier. My brother served three terms in Viet Nam (6 years). I read the testimony, and the speeches of Kerry who was one of the Veteran's Against War. Very moving, very careful and remarkably thought out. He was brave in battle, and he was brave in providing testimony to Congress in front of people who hated him, and he was brave in dealing with the extreme views within the Veteran's groups. Kerry ended up bringing us together and uniting us after years of pointless conflict.

Significantly, Kerry did not resort to picking on a minority group or psuedo-enemy in order to unite us and quiet this great country.

In history, there has never been a clearer difference in a Presidential election between two followers of Christ on one side and on the other side two sheep-shearers shedding other's blood than their own.

Christians, you were fooled once in Texas. You were fooled again in 2000, and cheated out of the leader you actually elected. Faced with Solomon’s choice, the more honorable candidate gave up the baby rather than allow our country to be divided. Now, for a third time, are we to be "shorn again" Believers? Vote with your Faith: As if your vote is your soul. This is a "choice" not yet taken from you by a cabal of thieves.