Saturday, April 29, 2006

Monday's "Immigration" Demonstrations Joined By Muslim Groups & Organized By Marxists

I have already laid out my own opinions on Immigration reform legislation and border enforcement here and here. In light of Monday's upcoming plans for national work boycotts and demonstrations in support of "rights for undocumented (ie. illegal) aliens and opposition to tougher immigration laws being debated in the US Congress I thought I would add one or two more thoughts.

1. Monday's demonstrations (as well as other recent marches in various cities) have been planned and coordinated by a number of groups working together. Central among those groups has been the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) coalition. As described by
International A.N.S.W.E.R. (often, simply ANSWER) is a front group for the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP), which uses the anti-war movement as the vehicle by which it promotes Communist ideals and condemns American society, American foreign policy, and capitalism.
You can read more about ANSWER here, here and here.

2. In light of this is should not be surprising that the event was intentionally planned for May 1. May 1 has been long celebrated as International Worker's Day (a date memorializing an American worker's declaration demanding an 8-hour work day beginning May 1, 1884). May 1 was the occasion for those massive military parades each year in Moscow's Red Square (complete with missiles) before that sad empire finally collapsed under its own dead weight in 1989. Although not "owned" by socialism/communism the date "May 1" has been used (id "hijacked") by such governments and organizers to showcase and popularize their philosophy from the very earliest days of labor organization.

3. Today I discovered the following bit of news. As you read it remember that I have often commented on how the Quran is written is such a way so as to be authoritatively quoted in support of just about anything you choose: for peaceful respect of other faiths and for the bloody murder of all infidels; for kind respect and honor for women and for the right of husbands to mercilessly beat and even kill their wives & daughters; for the support of democracy and for a mandatory theocracy under sharia; etc.

In general I do not trust the motives behind the groups listed in this announcement. They have a right to participate and support the demonstrations just as much as assorted Christian leaders and groups have such a right.

Yet it strikes me as ironic and telling that American Muslim groups (some of which have clear historic ties to Islamist terrorist groups) are publicly demonstrating against make our national borders more secure from illegal immigration.

It tends to make me want to automatically take the opposite side of the issue.

In any case, here is the announcement. As always read it and judge for yourself (and note that some of the "facts" about the proposed legislation is not accurate):
Joining illegal immigrants in their march on May 1: radical Islamic front groups the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): CAIR are now in the mix- will march with illegals. (this paragraph from lgf)

Los Angeles, CA: In solidarity with immigration activists around the country, the Muslim Public Affairs Council as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Los Angeles (CAIR-LA), the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the LA Latino Muslim Association, the Muslim American Society-Los Angeles, and the Muslim Students Association - West (MSA West) are calling on American Muslims to participate in a day of action on May 1, 2006.

On that day, the Multi-ethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network (MIWON) is holding a march near downtown Los Angeles in support of immigration reform and worker's rights. MPAC is coordinating Muslim American participation in this important event, which affects Americans of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. Similar events will be taking place across the country.

WHAT: International Worker's Day Immigration March
WHERE: McArthur Park (7th & Alvarado near Downtown LA)
WHEN: Monday, May 1st, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.
CO-SPONSORS: Muslim Public Affairs Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations - Los Angeles (CAIR-LA), Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, L.A. Latino Muslim Association (LALMA), MSA West, Muslim American Society - Los Angeles (MAS-LA), Multi-ethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network (MIWON) - http://this

Islam's message is one of social justice, economic fairness, and fair treatment in the workplace. The Qur'an urges the proper treatment and respect of workers. Several Muslim leaders discussed the relevance of the Qur'an to the struggle for dignity in the workplace with union leaders and other religious leaders during the "Islam and Labor: Forging Partnerships Conference" held November 10, 2001 in Washington, DC. Co-convened by the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the conference sought to build relationships between Muslims, interfaith committees and labor communities. As the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying, "None of you has faith unless you love for your brother what you love for yourself."

It is against this backdrop that American Muslim organizations are calling for a comprehensive immigration reform that includes provisions for a pathway to lawful permanent residence for the undocumented currently in the United States, a temporary worker program that matches willing workers with willing employers, and a reduction in the current backlogs in family-based immigration to the United States.

The United States has always been a nation of immigrants, but today the country has more than 33 million foreign-born residents, the largest number since the US Census started keeping such statistics in 1850. In 2003, foreign-born residents made up 11.7 percent of the population, the highest percentage since 1910. And over the past 16 years, the newcomers, many of them undocumented, have poured into places in the South and Midwest that have not seen sizeable numbers of new immigrants in generations.

On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. The bill was introduced by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI). The Sensenbrenner bill is an inadequate enforcement-only bill that fails to address comprehensive immigration reform. In particular, it does not include any provision for a guest worker program, an earned legalization program, nor a reduction in the backlogs for family-based immigration. Instead, the bill criminalizes undocumented people for unlawful presence in the United States, and criminalizes people who work or volunteer with faith-based organizations for helping someone in need, who turns out to be undocumented.

Al-Sistani, al-Sadr's Militia & the Future of Iraq

Last August I posted on "Who Is Iraq's George Washington?" Given the lack of any one individual or small group of towering leaders I somewhat sarcastically suggested "al-Sistani? al-Sadr? Chalabi?" I had been thinking of a political unifier, a secular leader at the time. Today, however, I am rethinking the whole picture.

You see, yesterday, Shi'ite religious leader al-Sistani consulted with the newly-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki and released a statement requiring that all armed militias surrender their autonomy and weapons to the authority of the Iraqi security forces.

While Sistani is the most powerful religious figure in Iraq he does not hold any sway with Sunni or Kurdish citizens. Who, then, was he talking to? Without any doubt his statement was directed at the man who would like to be the most powerful Shi'ite religious leader as well as the most powerful political figure in the nation: al-Sadr.

The next few months will be interesting to watch; sort of like having front-row seats at the "gunfight at the OK Corral." Consider the following:

1. Al-Sadr has the largest armed militia in Iraq. His followers will willingly do anything he asks of them--even the laying down of their lives. Sadr's militia is, by far, the most destablizing factor in Iraq today; even more so than al-Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents. This is because al-Sadr wields power among the Shi'ite majority population and they don't. He is a fanatic who craves personal power and control (both political and religious) and who has shown a willingness to confront al-Sistani and foment sectarian violence that could lead to the oft-discussed, but not yet full-blown, Iraqi "civil war."

Getting al-Sadr to surrender control of his militia would signify nothing short of a total surrender and humiliation; a capitulation and submission to al-Sistani as his superior. I will be surprised if al-Sadr will do this willingly. I expect that there will be public expressions of agreement, but, in reality, defiance, deceit and resistance possibly leading to an attempt to overthrow al-Sistani himself.

Sadr cannot take over the government, at least not as long as the United States remains an armed presence in Iraq. As each day passes the growing strength of the Iraqi security forces reduce his chances of seizing power even after the United States has withdrawn.

He is still capable, however, of seizing control of the religious Shi'ite majority.

As such, al-Sadr remains the single most important obstacle to a secure and successful united Iraq (and, of course, to the all-important draw-down of American military forces).

2. Al-Sadr has, by most accounts, linked his star to Iran. He has decided that what is good for him is good for Iran and vice versa. His view of Islamic rule and sharia is far closer to the Iranian Ayatollahs than to al-Sistani and traditional Iraqi Shi'a practice.

With the crisis over Iran's potential nuclear development and the relentless and threatening posturing of Iran's leadership towards Israel and the West, the need to "shake down Sadr" becomes even more vital to the future security of both Iraq and the entire Middle East.

Given the potential for al-Sadr to unravel the costly efforts of the United States to bring political moderation and stability to the region it is clear that the time has come for him to be taken down.

It will be difficult for al-Sadr to resist this demand, given that it has come from both the highest elected/appointed Shi'ite political leader in the new, national-unity government as well as from the highest Shi'ite spiritual authority in the country (not to mention the full backing of the United States). I do not believe that this challenge would have come unless both al-Sistani and the Iraqi government felt secure and powerful enough to make it. I do not believe that this is a bluff but the real deal, long planned and stratgically timed.

Al-Sadr must be disarmed before any potential military response to Iran can be made.

For Sadr to be de-clawed, the goverment must be able to prove that it can provide effective security for the Shi'ite population and their religious shrines.

If this plays out well then the "mopping up" of the Sunni insurgency and the withering remains of Zarqawi's al-Qaeda operation can become the focus of Iraqi security. American and coalition forces can then be turned towards effectively securing Iran's vast and incredibly porous borders with Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. This will, in turn, prepare Iraq and the region for the horrific terrorism swarm that will most certainly ensue as a result of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

I guess I must say that, if and when a history of Iraq's rise to freedom is ever written, one of the names most prominantly featured will be that of al-Sistani. Maybe not a "George Washington" but nonetheless a man of courage, conviction, calculation and cooperation whose spiritual authority (somewhat like a quiet, more passive and non-revolutionary John Knox) enabled a secular and democratic revolution to succeed.

On the pessimistic side, it is unsettling to see a non-governmental authority wielding so much power and influence. But such will always be the case in Muslim-majority nations. Along with this there is, of course, always the possibility that al-Sistani has a hidden personal agenda of his own. Based on my own study and assessment I am inclined to be more optimistic than pessimistic on this point. A quick read through al-Sistani's personal religious web-site (well worth several hours of your time) will demonstrate a penchant for reasonable, rational, consistant, and conservative (but not radical/revolutionary) Islamic Shi'ite thought.

At least one can hope.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Female U.S. Soldiers Dying From Dehydration For Fear of Latrine Rape? Sure.

Humiliation, demotion and being the on-site officer responsible for one of the worst military embarassments in U.S. history is not, apparently, enough infamy for Col. & one-time Gen. Janis Karpinski. Karpinski, who oversaw the debacle at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, has now added slander, false witness and lies to her resume. (Note that this story broke last February--I'm a bit slow to catch on!)

The story goes like this:
Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the (mock-trial) Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."
Could such a thing actually be taking place in Iraq?

Well, actually, no.

It seems that, among other things, no soldier bearing the rank of Master Sergeant has yet died in Iraq at all.

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette has the scoop and the response you need to read.

Question: Why are the "most credible" opponents to the Bush administration and the Iraq War so often discredited so quickly? Just wondering.

P.S. I wrote about Karpinski's demotion here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Why Do We Have a Department of Energy?

According to today's news,
During the last few days, Bush asked his Energy and Justice departments to open inquiries into possible cheating in the gasoline markets, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
My first thought was, "Gee, why did President Bush have to tell these people to look into the price of a gallon of gasoline? Isn't that why the Department of Energy exists in the first place? Isn't that what they are supposed to do?"

The Department of Energy was created in the late 1970's at the urging of then-President Jimmy Carter as a response to the OPEC oil embargo and the ensuing gasoline shortage.

If the Department of Energy needs the President to tell them what they should have been doing already then I don't see why we need them in the first place!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

National Anthem to be Recorded in Spanish

Image hosting by PhotobucketAccording to an AP story, Mexican, Puerto Rican and other pop musicians are planning a recording of the US National Anthem in Spanish. They hope to show solidarity with undocumented immigrants who are demanding some of the same privileges and rights previously held only by legal residents and citizens.

Personally, I am pleased to have loyalty and patriotism for this country demonstrated in any way and in any language possible, Spanish included. Let the Pledge of Allegiance be spoken in Spanish, too! Translations of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are good as well.

However (and you knew there was going to be a "however," didn't you!), insofar as national anthems, such as "The Star-Spangled Banner," are designed to affirm a common unity among the citizen-members of a nation, it seems somewhat of a self-defeating goal to have some US Americans singing it in one language and another group singing it in another. What are we turning into, Canada! lol

Seriously, as I have said many, many times, it is not diversity that unites a people. Diversity always divides a people. That which they share in common is what unites them.

Language is, of course, the greatest "divider" that there is. The biblical story of the Tower of Babel is, of course, the most famous illustration of this truth.

People who cannot communicate with one another are, by definition, divided, not united.

I hope that there will be no singing of the "National Anthem" in Spanish at the beginning of any baseball or football games. There are so few things that unite us as a nation that it would be a shame to trade one of them away for just one more symbol of our differences.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Sermons

Each year I preach two different sermons on Easter Sunday morning, one for the Sunrise service and the other at our normal worship hour at 9:00 am. If you would like to read them you can by clicking on the links below.


If you would like to listen to the second one you can find it in an MP3 file at our church web page

Easter Lily

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe beauty of Easter and celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ continues at my home with the help of the Easter Lily that we shared during Sunday's worship service. My wife and I actually donated two lilies, one in memory of her mother and one in memory of my father. We only brought one lily home afterwards but it is a beauty and serves as a good reminder of the hope we share with our parents in the good news of God's saving love in Jesus Christ.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the photo while I still get to enjoy the real thing!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Western Civilization's Last Stand In Europe

A new, prophetic, troubling and convincing analysis of the growing confrontation between Muslim immigrants (including Islamist radicalism) and the "indigenous" representatives of Western European culture (by which I mean those we have commonly referred to as "the Danes" or "the French" or "the Germans" or "the British" etc.). The post, entitled "The Fall of France and the Multicultural World War" was written by the Norwegian blogger Fjordman and posted at The Gates of Vienna.

Like my previous posts from last January (Mark Steyn Predicts the Collapse of "The West"--Sadly, I Agree) and April of last year (Is Europe As We Have Known It Beginning To Disintegrate?) Fjordman provides several likely scenarios that may emerge from the "Clash of Civilizations" in Europe.

These scenarios range from "Eurabia" wherein Europe slowly capitulates to Muslim domination, "Global War" wherein violent civil war erupts like falling dominoes in one nation after another against Islamist forces, beginning in Europe and spreading across the globe (with millions of deaths and the fragmentation of the world into Muslim-held and non-Muslim held territory . . . Potentially leading to the mass expulsion of Muslims from non-Muslim areas and vice-versa) or "Western Resurgence" wherein the majority population of Europe takes the lead in reclaiming their cultural heritage and takes a bold stand against the growing Islamist threats from within and without.

Personally, I believe that the liberal/socialist European dream (or should I say, "religion") is so deeply ingrained that it will be virtually impossible for any current Continental political party to have either the historical insight, the philosophical/moral foundation or the political fortitude to take the radical actions that would be necessary to mitigate the looming catastrophe.

The "common sense" philosophy of the United States (with its strong Judeo/Christian moral foundation) and Canada (with its liberal leadership but still reasonable majority population) will be far more likely to take strong and prudent positions to forestall such a crisis in North America. North America has the additional advantage of having our largest immigrant labor force comprised of Latin Americans who carry at least some form of Roman Catholic or Protestant Christian faith and world view along with them. (Unlike Europe whose immigrant labor force is overwhelmingly comprised of Muslims from North African and elsewhere.)

Please take the time to read Fjordman's post and, if you have not done so already, follow the links to my previous posts as well as Mark Steyn's. Current events seem to be supportive of our fears and warnings.

And don't forget to fall on your knees and to pray for peace . . . the kind that only the one true God, the Lord of history, can provide.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Rev. Jesse Jackson One-Ups Jesus

After saving the life a woman about to be stoned for adultery, Jesus commanded her to, "Go and sin no more."

In contrast, the Rev. Jesse Jackson apparently does not feel that either truth, sin or repentence ought to get in the way of a good deed.

On the day before Easter Sunday Jackson announced that his PUSH Coalition would be offering the 27-year old unnamed black woman who has accused members of the Duke University Lacrosse Team of raping her (following her performance as a stripper at a off-campus party) a full-tuition scholarship to assist her in completing her studies at North Carolina Central University.

Although Jackson admitted that he had not yet spoken to the woman he did affirm that his group had pledged to pay for her tuition even if her story proves false.

According to an article by Associated Press, Jackson said that the woman should be able to support her two children and pay her tuition without having "to sacrifice her body to make money."

I must say that I can agree with that last sentiment. No woman should "have" to sacrifice her body to make money.

On the other hand I'm not exactly sure why this woman "has" to do this. Nor am I sure who is forcing her to take her clothes off in front of young, rowdy, intoxicated college men in private homes and other unchaperoned locations.

I imagine that the woman "caught in adultery" in John 8:1-11 also had her reasons for doing what she did. Why she "had" to do what she did, however, was not the issue that Jesus confronted her with.

First of all, Jesus accepted that she had committed the sin she had been accused of. He then refused to condemn her for it, effectively forgiving her. He then held her accountable for her future behavior, making a clear distinction between right and wrong.

Jackson, on the other hand, does not appear to consider the matter of "right and wrong" to have any bearing on this case at all. It does not seem to matter to him that, unlike the "woman in adultery" who was charged with a crime, the woman he wants to help is the one who has brought a charge against others.

Jackson says that it does not matter if what she has said is true or not.

Does this mean that, if the charges she has made are false and that the slander and accusations against the Duke University lacrosse team players, the public demonstrations and loss of job prospects, the cancellation of the entire team's lacrosse season, the resignation of their coach and the malicious defamation of Duke University's reputation were all caused by misdirected, mistaken or manufactured purjoritive statements, she is still worthy of being rewarded by a full college scholarship?

If what the woman has said proves to be true, then give her the scholarship.

But, if what she has said proves to have been concocted out of thin air, then let her at the very least confess her sin, accept the responsibility of making some measure of atonement or apology and face the possibility that criminal charges may, in fact, be brought against her instead.

There is no doubt in my mind that at least some members of the Duke University lacrosse team behaved badly. Those guilty of misbehavior other than the charge of rape should be subject to either severe reprimand and/or dismissal from either the lacrosse team (with loss of scholarships, if any) or the university itself. If found guilty of rape then they should be subject to appropriate criminal sentencing according to the law of North Carolina

There is also no doubt in my mind that this 27-year old woman has suffered from physical abuse. Even so, it remains to be seen whether or not she experienced any such abuse from the accused lacrosse players. According to the student's lawyers, the woman arrived at the party already drunk and already showing signs of physical abuse. According to the police records, she was found intoxicated and unconcious in a car following her alleged appearance at the party.

This, in no small way, at the very least calls into question her competency to provide a safe, protective and nurturing environment for her children. Where were her children that night? Is not this a question worthy of investigation by the local child protective services agency?

Don't get me wrong. I want only the best for this woman. It is clear that she needs more help than a college scholarship can provide for her. As a Christian minister, the Rev. Jackson should be the first to understand that her needs are not only physical, but moral and spiritual as well.

Giving her a scholarship without also requiring a supportive confrontation with her concerning the effects of her substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors that put both herself and her children at risk will miss the point of her primary needs completely.

Jesus knew that the woman he forgave needed to change herself from the inside out.

Jackson apparently believes that he can change his personal "Eliza Doolittle" from the outside in.

Jesus desired the woman to change her behavior.

Jackson, however, appears to have offered her a reward instead.

Jackson's interests clearly revolve around race, economics and political power.

It is worth noting that Jesus renounced all three.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of all he met.

Jackson, on the other hand, would have us believe that he knows the needs and the heart of a young mother in North Carolina without ever having met her or spoken to her.

Personally, given a choice between Jesus and Jackson I would take Jesus every time.

If the young woman caught up in this scandal in North Carolina knows what is good for her (and, unfortunately, there is no clear evidence that she does) she will do the same.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter 2006

A crescent moon illumes the star-struck dome
Of heaven’s inverted bowl. Upon a hill
There stands a bloodied cross. The night-air’s chill
Embraces all; and Darkness bids Death, “Come!”

While shadows fill the earth with black and grey
The moon has reached her zenith and descends;
A slivered orb whose stolen glory ends
As night withdraws before the coming day.

God’s “greater light” has risen from restless sleep;
And Death and Darkness fall beneath the cross
That marks their grave, their final resting place.

'Tis Life that rises with the sun! As deep
Cries out to deep a tomb reveals its loss.
The Son has risen indeed! God’s gift of grace!

Friday, April 14, 2006

South Park, Comedy Central, Jesus & Muhammad

On Wednesday evening's episode of South Park, host network Comedy Central censored a depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad but allowed a segment showing Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.

Several conclusions can be reached. I will allow you to choose which one(s) you believe to be true. The answer, of course, could be "all of the above."

1. Comedy Central loves Muhammad and Muslims and hates Jesus Christ and Christians.

2. Comedy Central is scared out of their wits that radical Muslims will kill them if they show an image of Muhammad but know that tolerant and wimpy generally non-violent Christians ("turn the other cheek") will give them a pass.

3. Comedy Central is lead by hypocrites who endorse blatant double-standards when it comes to supporting "free speech" on their network.

4. Many Muslims assert the validity of their faith by responding to their enemies by threatening to kill them while most Christians assert the validity of their faith by responding to their enemies by loving and praying for them.

5. South Park is taking a brave, commendable and controversial stand in defense of free speech at the expense and embarrassment of their network, Comedy Central.

6. South Park is taking a contemptible and self-righteous stand so as to generate controversy, increase their fan-base, spit in the face of everyone, gain tons of free publicity, make lots of money and fool everyone into thinking that they have done something noble.

As a Christian pastor I must say that I am offended by the depiction of Jesus in this latest episode. I am saddened to think that Christians, our faith, our Lord and our God are considered "fair game" for ridicule on public television.

On the other hand, I am content in the thought that my brothers and sisters in Christ are faithful to our Lord in responding to such insults with non-violence and reasoned debate--even when those who insult us do not show us any respect in retiurn.

Psalm 2:2,4 says,
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One...
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
and Psalm 37:10-13 adds,
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.
My God is big enough and grown up enough to take care of himself. I am bound to defend him in both word and in deed but always in a manner consistent with the life and teachings of Christ. In the end, it is God who will judge the earth and take care of the details.

It does not really matter how you or I rate the six points I listed above. The only thing that matters is how God will rate them. He is, after all, the Lord of South Park and Comedy Central as well as Muhammad and his followers.

Oh . . . and you and me, too!

UPDATE: lgf has a copy of the form letter released by Comedy Central in response the flood of complaints they have received over their decision to "censor" the image of Muhammad. The letter proves that threats, intimidation and fear work wonderfully in limiting the freedom of speech. The letter is also a cruel indictment of virtually the entire US media industry. It appears that radical Islamists are dictating what we can and cannot say in the United States. I, for one, am not willing to accept this situation as it stands. The letter includes this statement:
Comedy Central will continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we will continue to push it right to the edge.
That is to say that, after consultation with their radical Islamist advisors, they will do whatever they are told they can and cannot do.

Is it just me or do you feel a chill?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Donating Blood With a CMV-Negative Sub-Factor

I have donated blood since I was in college. Since moving to Hawaii 13 years ago, however, I have often received a phone call from the Honolulu Blood Bank asking me to come in to make a donation. Sometimes they have told me that my blood was desparetely needed. Until this past week, however, they never told me why!

Since I have O+ Blood (which is the most common blood type in North America and Europe) I never felt as though my blood was particularly in demand. Yes, it is sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as the “universal donor” but what was it about my blood that seemed to merit special phone calls.

Well, it seems that my blood has a sub-category that marks it as CMV-Negative. According to the on-line Dr. Judith Feinberg,

“CMV negative" means you have never been infected with cytomegalovirus. For most people with healthy immune systems, infection with CMV or not is usually of little consequence, but people with damaged or immature (like newborns) immune systems are susceptible to life-threatening CMV infection. You are lucky.

According to the Puget Sound Blood Center, CMV-Negative blood is indicated for

-Premature Infants

-Infants Under 4-Weeks of Age and;

-Patients Requiring Intrauterine Transfusions.

CMV-Negative Blood is also indicated for CMV-Negative patients in the following categories:

-Bone marrow or organ transplant recipients (if the marrow or organ donor is also CMV negative)

-Potential candidates for transplant

-AIDS or HIV infected patients

-Patients who have congenital immune deficiency

-Patients undergoing splenectomy, and

-Pregnant women

Today there was a need for 27 pints of blood for two people (one an infant?) undergoing open heart surgery and another who was having an amputation. Two of these three patients were, I was told, “bleeders.” The need for CMV-Negative blood, in combination with my O+ status, made me a Very Important Donor on their list. So, of course, since I haven’t given since January, I made a 2:00 pm appointment, took some church work along with me, drove downtown and give them a pint.

Afterwards, the donut they gave me tasted good, but not anywhere near as good as I felt from contributing my small but vital share of the “gift of life.”

For a blow-by-blow description (complete with photos) of what it's like to donate a pint of blood you can check out a previous post here.

Afterwards, be sure to schedule an appointment to make a donation yourself. Who knows, your blood may be the exact kind that someone needs in your neighborhood right now!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Quote of the Week: "Whack-a-Mole" Ham

In an April 5 post at Hugh Hewitt's site, Mary Katherine Ham spoke about political campaign reform proposals moving through the Congress. Without any apparent embarrassment whatsoever, she faced the fickle-metaphor-of-Fate face-on and came up with the following sentence:
The money will just pop up again through some other loophole and both Dems and Republicans will be stuck playing a perpetual game of "Loophole Whack-A-Mole" at the Chucky Cheese of Failed Campaign Finance Reforms.
For her remarkable accomplishment we award Ms. Ham the B of P "Quote of the Week."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Gospel of Judas--What's All the Hype & Fuss About?

Image hosting by PhotobucketMy daughter in LA sent me a news link concerning a translation of the ancient Gnostic Christian writing called the "Gospel of Judas" that was rediscovered in 1970. Here is what I emailed back to her:

April 6, 2006
Re: The Gospel of Judas

(Daughter #1), thanks for forwarding the link to the article regarding the “Gospel of Judas.” I first heard it referred to on the radio this afternoon but I guess the story was widely reported on Tuesday. There are many, many early Christian writings that we know once existed but have disappeared (sometimes literally) into the sands of time. Not all were "burned" as heretical books although many manuscript copies undoubtedly were destroyed by zealous believers. One of the earliest post-scriptural Christian documents from the 2nd Century, The Shepherd of Hermas, was only rediscovered early in the last century (I have the text in my office). If even well-known orthodox documents have disappeared and been lost over the centuries it should not be surprising that "heretical" texts, such as the gnostic Gospel of Judas also disappeared. I do not expect to be surprised by anything in this document. I suspect that its contents will be very predicable, reflecting a Greco-Roman "Mystery Cult" "Gnostic" revision of the four historic Gospels that were written by or directly linked to those who actually knew Jesus as his disciples.

This "new" (actually simply recovered) gospel will shed light on the complex diversity of early Christianity and, perhaps, answer some long unanswered questions concerning the actual contents of this document. It is doubtful that very many people will be "inspired" by what it says and be lead away from the truth of the Gospel that has been affirmed as canon by the Christian Church for over 2,000 years.

People like Elaine Pagels actually make their living off of writing and publishing and sensationalizing these things (like the Gospel of Thomas). There is nothing new. Only a new shred of history that arrives at a perfect time to hype and fan even more interest in the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code" in a theater near you!

In many ways the early Church was much as it is today, filled with diverse opinions about the meaning of scripture and doctrine and splintered into competing cultic factions not unlike today's Mormons, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unification Church, Jim Jones, David Koresh and, of course, Benny Hinn!

No one would consider any of these to be threatening the integrity of the Christian faith as we know it. And writings such as the Gospel of Judas did not really threaten the ancient church either.

The major points of disagreement in the first centuries of the Christian faith were not over such fringe beliefs as represented by the Judas or Thomas gospels. The disagreements mostly concerned interpretation of the books that are firmly fixed as our New Testament today; in particular "In what way do we understand the nature of a triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and "In what way do we understand the nature of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ."

After nearly 100 years of debate the final conclusions on these matters were incorporated into the "Nicene Creed" which has, for some 1600 years, been considered the true measure of the Christian orthodox faith for Roman Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox believers.

My only concern over the Judas gospel is that there are far too many vulnerable folks who may be led astray by all the hype. This very situation was described in I Timothy 4:3,

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
And also described by I Peter 2:1-3,

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
And by Ephesians 4:14,

. . . we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Although these canonical New Testament letters were written nearly 100 to 200 years before the so-called "Gnostic" writings we are seeing being "resurrected" today, the New Testament writers had these very teachings in mind. For Greek "Gnosticism" existed long before the Christian faith arrived. It is not, therefore, that the early Christians were "Gnostic," it was that the "Gnostics" took the outline of the Christian faith and reshaped it according to their own pre-Christian spirituality!

Where "Gnostic" spirituality claimed that the flesh was corrupt and only "spirit" is pure, the Christian gospel affirms the goodness of the physical world, reflecting and revealing the goodness and love of God the Creator of all things.

Where "Gnostic" spirituality claimed to have "hidden" and "secret" knowledge (the word "knowledge" is derived from the Greek word "gnosis" by the way) the Christian gospel held nothing back, revealing everything that could be recalled about Jesus, his miracles, teachings, crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension.

A safe rule of thumb is that, if there are secrets, then it isn't Christian. (In fact the only time the New Testament talks about "mysteries" is when the writers are discussing former mysteries that have now been revealed to us, not by spiritual revelation, but through the historical person of Jesus Christ.

I John 1:1-4 addresses all of these concerns when we read

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
As Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us,

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
While it may be a curious and valuable historic relic from the past, the Gospel of Judas is, in the end, just the "same old, same old." Been there. Done that. "Nothing new."

In any case, thanks for the link.

Love and Aloha, Dad

Update: For more thorough commentary on "The Gospel of Judas" by Christians who have taken a bit more time to articulate their thoughts I urge you to click on some of the following links, beginning with the one by Mark Roberts. You will note that we are all saying more or less the same thing in different ways:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My Solution to the Illegal Immigration Crisis

I've already advocated a border wall ("Call it a 'Welcome Wall'")between Mexico and the United States. Not a solid wall, mind you, but one with open doors for those who are willing to go through them legally.

But what about the 11-12 million folks who are already here illegally?

Here is what I would suggest for legislation.

1. First, before anything here suggested becomes law, secure the border.

2. Require every person in the United States illegally to register with the Immigration Service within two years.

3. Registering would involve applying for either a visa or "green card" depending on the person's circumstances.

4. Upon registering/application each person would receive a "Temporary US Guest Visitor" card authorizing them to remain in the United States until their application is processed.

5. Those with legal papers providing proof of identity, permanent address in the United States, references from US. citizens and a legal birth certificate will be eligible to receive a "green card" or a visa, giving them legal residency in the the United States that can lead to citizenship.

6. Those without such identifying papers will be eligible to receive a "Guest Worker" card good for two years. At the end of two years the person can either reapply for a "green card" or revert to an illegal status. If the application is rejected the individual must leave the United States for a period of six months after which they can reapply for either a visa, "green card" or a new "Guest Worker" card (good for two years) and re-enter the United States.

7. Two years after this program begins, all unregistered persons remaining in the United Stated illegally will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and subject to imprisonment and/or deportation.

8. Anyone, whether registered or unregistered, found in possession of either forged or fraudulent legal documents will be guilty of a felony and subject to imprisonment and/or deportation with no right of return.

9. Any crime committed by an unregistered person will be subject to prosecution for the crime at a level one step higher than someone who is in this country legally. (ie. a Class 2 misdemeanors offense would be prosecuted as a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class 1 misdemeanor offense would be prosecuted as a Class 6 felony, etc.)

10. Children must show proof of legal residency before being enrolled in public schools as must everyone seeking medical care in hospital emergency rooms. Medical services will be provided to all regardless but those without proper identification must be reported to law enforcement officials.

11. Children born to unregistered parents in the United States would NOT qualify as natural-born citizens of the United States (this might require tinkering with the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution).

*11. Employers hiring unregistered persons must pay them 20% more than what they pay legally resident employees. (This would lead them to hire legal workers before hiring illegal ones). Employers found in violation of this rule would be liable to a minimum fine of either one year's full-time pay per employee or $15,000 whichever is higher. (*optional suggestion)

The entire point of this would be to turn these folks into legal residents of the United States, giving them every chance to become full citizens through the usual, legal means given to every other immigrant.

Those willing to register would be welcomed as contributing members of American society.

Those unwilling to legally register for whatever reason would be persona non grata by their own choice. Those with criminal records (Class 1 misdemeanors and above) while living in this country illegally would be ineligible for being approved for either a "green card" or a "Guest Worker" card.

Is this a form of amnesty? Yes. But with a positive purpose and an incentive to register.

Is this manageable? Not without a great investment in our Immigration budget and staff. Fully-staffed regional registration offices would need to be set up throughout the United States so as to be accessible for those registering.

Powerful new computer technology would be needed for fast-tracking these applications and for cross-checking criminal records, credit violations and terrorist connections.

This program would be offered only for two years, beginning not less than three months or more than six months after the Mexican-American border has been declared "secure." Only those who can prove residency in the United States prior to the securing of the Mexican-American border (whenever that takes place) would be eligible for the registration program.

Comments that point out any large matters overlooked will be welcomed.