Thursday, May 25, 2006

Military Prayer Breakfast for Troops Deploying from Hawaii

The Senior Chaplain at Scholfield Barracks organized an on-base prayer breakfast yesterday morning on behalf of the 7,000 soldiers of the 25th ("Tropic Lightning") Infantry Division who will be deploying to Iraq over the next 2-3 months.

Local church leaders and represetatives from numersou community organizations and social projects were invited.

Major General Mixon gave the keynote address and, surprisingly, the U.S. Army video shown on the big screens focused on sodiers who had lost one or more limbs from IED and other devastating battlefield and aircraft incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seeing a legless young female Army helicopter pilot expressing gratitude for those who risked their lives to save her own . . . and then listening to her commenting on her determination to overcome the hardships that lay ahead . . . made the high-stakes risks that will be part of this deployment painfully obvious.

You've got to Hand it to the military, however. They do not try to hide reality from their soldiers. Needless to say, there was not a great deal of superficial nonsense or lighthearted humor being bantered about during the event.

Those present were encouraged to find ways to be involved with the deploying soldiers and their families in the coming year. My own congregation provided regular "care packages" to the 15 or so men and women from our church family who spent up to a year in Iraq and Afghanistan on the last deployment two years ago. This time around we have only identified three active members who will be leaving. We will, of course, provide love and support for them as well as for others who are related to church members and a few soldiers who do not have a church of family to support them while overseas.

During one of the prayers a particular phrase caught my ear. While we may have heard it (or something like it) before, it seemed to carry a more profound meaning for me this morning. Perhaps you might want to include it in your own prayers sometime.
We do not know what tomorrow holds; but we do know who holds tomorrow

NY Times Publisher's Short List of "Fundamental Human Rights"

Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times , had some interesting things to say as the commencement speaker at State University of New York at New Paltz on Sunday. Among his comments was this mind-numbing thought:
...we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life, the right of gays to marry or the rights of women to choose.
Let's see, one definition of "fundamental" is:
Something that is an essential or necessary part of a system or object.
Yep . . . that's what Western Civilization stands or falls on: the unalienble right of every person to be allowed to engage in 1. International trespassing; 2. Same-sex marriage, and; 3. Abortion.

Mr. Sulzberger seems to fail to note that sofar as "fundamental human rights" go, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are already standing at the head of the line.

Memo to Mr. Sulzberger and the New York Times: No cuts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Reviewed

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Daughter #3 took me to see "The Da Vinci Code" movie for my birthday this afternoon. I did not have much interest in seeing the movie for its own sake but felt that, as a church pastor, I should see it so as to respond to questions, etc. that might arise in my congregation.

My take on the movie?

The Good: This was clearly begun as a high-budget film. The cinematography, sound, etc. was excellent, especially in the dimly-lit scenes which, in so many movies, are so dark as to leave the viewer wondering what is actually going on. The scenery was enjoyable as well, especially for my daughter and I who visited the Louvre several years ago and could easily imagine the location. The acting of Ian McKlellen (as Sir Teabing) and Paul Bettany (as the albino assassin) provided most of the dramatic sparks . . . not exceptional performances, mind you, but at least believable and solid. Audrey Tautou (as Sophie Neveu) was pleasant to look at but added little else to the stories emotional tensions.

The Bad: The screenplay was dull, dreary, preachy, long-winded and, to put it bluntly, boring. So much (pseudo-) historical background had to be explained in order to understand the plot that it often seemed as though Tom Hanks (as symbologist Robert Langdon) was reading from the novel's Clift Notes. Most of the characters plodded through their lines as if they were going through a dress rehearsal rather than having arrived on the set completely in character. The "believability factor" for much of the plot was near zero. There was little motivation for Langdon to risk his life for such a bizarre and unexpected encounter with people he had never met or heard of before . . . and in a foreign country to boot. Didn't he have a real life somewhere that included family? work? commitments? The strange and irrational logic and behaviors of the supposed members of the Priory of Sion and the fanatical elements of Opus Dei who seek their extinction, seemed more like something out of an old B-Science Fiction film rather than a first-class suspense movie. The whole scenario played out as phony as a James Bond movie plot.

The Ugly: Where the movie fell apart completely was in its supposed "historical" references. The list of fantasy facts was so exhaustive that at one point I actually leaned over and told my daughter that the comment about the Pope designating Mary Magdalene as a prostitute in 551(?) AD was the first true fact I had heard so far! The flashback scene to the Council of Nicea was particularly laughable. "Ben Hur" (both of them) and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" were more historically accurate than this piece of fluff. Not only was the presentation of that event (and the substance and purpose for it) a complete fraud but the cinematic "special effects" that recreated that scene (and other flashbacks) appeared to have been filmed and produced after the film's budget had already been spent.

In the end I cannot imagine the movie convincing anyone other than a raving lunatic or an impressionable visitor from another planet that Jesus Christ was "Married With Children" and that the entire Christian Faith was a fraud concocted by Constantine in cahoots with the leaders of a faith which had just survived two centuries of suffering, persecution and martyrdom for what? Believing that Jesus had been a man?. Sure.

If I were to catalogue the novel or movie at the local public library I would be tempted to classify it as "Fantasy and Science Fiction." It has more in common with "Star Trek" than with, say, "Gladiator" or "Master and Commander."

I'd give it two stars out of five, having docked it a half-star for simply being so unintentionally pompous and pretentious in the brazen flaunting of its "historical" hoo-haws.

Iraq & Afghanistan and the Propoganda Wars

What to believe! It seems that the actual events unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan these days have become buried beneath an avalanche of propoganda from all direction.

Yesterday we saw headlines covering the killing of 50 Taliban in Afghanistan.

Today the headline story from the LA Times focuses on the 16 civilians killed in that same attack.

Are we winning the battle and losing the war?

Yesterday one headline proclaimed, "New Iraqi Government Approved."

Another paper headlined, "16 Die in Bagdad bombings as new government is being formed."
Every positive spin is countered by a negative one.

"President announces that Guantanamo detention center will be closed."
"UN demands closure of Guantanamo facility."

"Tax Cuts Extended"
"Gap between Rich and Poor Continues to Grow"

"Immigrants Necessary to Fuel US Economy"
"Illegal Immigrants Impose Massive Burden on Education, Medical Care and other Social Programs"

"ANWAR Oil will reduce dependence on Middle East"
"ANWAR Oil will destroy fragile North Slope ecosystem"

It some ways it seems, in large part, to be a "Republican vs Democrat" propoganda war.

Never in my lifetime have I seen such political division in our nation.

Should we "stay the course" in Iraq or "pull out" and let the Iraqi's bear the burden of sacrifice for themselves?

Should we attack Iran's nuclear facilities before they can construct a nuclear weapon and bear the blame for the world-wide terrorist epidemic that would follow or should we continue to wait and hope that Iran will act reasonably and with restraint once they have acquired that weapon?

Are we winning the war on terrorism?

Are we losing the war on terrorism?

Are the Republicans the "Party of Corruption?"

Are the Democats the "Party of Corruption?"


Personally my take on this is that the negative spins are probably what our nation's enemies would like to be putting in our news reports.

Does this mean that Democrats are in cahoots with our enemies? No, of course not. It is possible that they both could be right!

On the other hand I tend to be an optimist and love to swallow up all the good news that I can get. Does that make me "objective?" or a "sucker?"

As far as Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned I tend to be more pursuaded by field reports from our US military and the soldiers themselves who are seeing things from the dirty, bloody trenches. Those who face IEDs every day are more likely to have a sense of whether things are going forward or backwards. And so far, most of these reports indicate that we are going forward in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the other hand, those in Iraq who lose family members in a car bombing may have quite a different perspective on things. "If only the Americans would leave then we might have some measure of peace again. My husband/sister/child would still be alive today if the United States had not invaded our country and occupied it."

So it is that I weep for the sin of the world in which we are so tragically entangled.

It is neither good nor right to either initiate war or to stand back while those whose goal is to destroy us grow stronger.

Is their no other alternative than to sin one way or the other? I believe that the answer is "Yes." We must sin or perish. We must get our hands dirty in blood and violence lest we be consumed by it ourselves.

Can this be true? Is it really coming down to "dog eat dog" or the "survival of the fittest?" Or are we all basically the same as humans; wanting peace but just misunderstanding one another? Can the lion lay down with the lamb and the child put his hand on the adder's den? Is the Kingdom of God "at hand" and within reach if we would only "think peace" and "love our enemies?"

Common sense and experience says , "No!" but my Lord and Savior of the world says, "Yes."

So I conclude that what the world needs more than anything else is a complete and total surrender to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The tangle of sin and the impasse of bloodshed and violence in which we find ourselves is like a Gordian Knot we are neither clever enough to untie nor powerful enough to cut through like an Alexander. We are simply not "Great" enough.

Only God is both "great" and "good" enough to resolve the mess we now find ourselves in.

There is no doubt, of course, that we, as Americans & Iraqis, Afghanis, Taliban & al-Qaeda, as Iranis, Chinese & North Koreans and all the rest will play out our parts in the drama. Things will go either badly or very, very badly.

But, if God is true to the Word that has been revealed to us then goodness and light will triumph in the end.

Neither Republican nor Democrat will usher in the Kingdom of God or a world of eternal peace. Neither the might of the US military nor the suicidal determination of those we deem to be terrorists will lead us either into or away from this kingdom by their own will and desire, sacrifice and cleverness.

In the end, neither death, terror, irreconcilalbe politcal differences, cruelty, torture, radical Islam, nuclear attack, SARS, AIDS, tsunamis, hurricanes evil or darkness and Satan himself will be able to separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is not fact. It is faith. But it is not a blind faith because God has shown that it can and has been done before. For those who love God and have been called according to his purpose slavery will always end in liberation; Oppression will always end in freedom; Good Friday will always end in Easter.

In spite of the best--or the worst--we can do.

Until that day comes all we are called to do is to repent, to trust in God and to live out what God commands and leads us to do as best we can. Even when it means loving our enemy. Even when it means violently resisting what we believe to be evil. Even when it means non-violent resistance. Even when we disagree. Even when every choice given to us stinks of sin.

In the end, this is the only hope that we have. Yet it is all the hope that we need. It is enough. After all, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And, three days later, while were still sinners, the Easter victory was won for all of us--and in spite of us! Thanks be to God.

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


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Well, another wonder in our front yard for you to enjoy. A beautiful hibiscus. In Hawaii they generally bloom at night, are enjoyed during the day, and fall off by late afternoon. No one minds if you pick a hibiscus because, well, it might as well adorn a lovely wahine's hair since it's glory will fade away in a few hours anyway! As usual you can click on it to make it larger.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The fact that Don Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code” is classified as “fiction” should answer the question by itself! Even so, the book pretends to make “claims” that would (if they were true) call much of the Christian faith (and the Bible) as we know it into question.

Rather than attempt to take on the chore of refuting the book’s many false, misleading and fabricated claims I will, instead, encourage you to check out any or all of the following links and read what some of the best Christian writers and scholars are saying.

Dr. John D. Roberts (a very long response!)
The Da Vinci Hoax
Catholic Answers
Dr. Al Mohler (Baptist Scholar-Book Review)
Christianity Today
HowStuffWorks (non-theological bloopers)

I don’t ask anyone to boycott the movie BUT I do ask you to do a little investigation concerning the “facts” and “fictions” of The Da Vinci Code BEFORE you go and see it!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

NY Sun: Iran Declares War

It appears that the New York Sun has come to the same conclusion that I did yesterday concerning the letter sent to President Bush from the President of Iran (although for different and even more compelling reasons).

Both the Sun and I view this letter as a conditional declaration of war against the United States.

I have little doubt that the Muslim world (even in the United States) understands this clearly (if not it will be explained to them by their Imam's). I hope and pray that the President and the Congress also understand this.

I also hope that the US press will follow the Sun's lead in carefully explaining the full implications of this letter to the American public. We are not children. We will not panic. We will become prepared to steel ourselves to whatever the future weeks or months may bring.

There is absolutely no good reason for keeping Americans in the dark, especially when a billion people around the world know what has been done.

Here is the key quote from the NY Sun's article:
President Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush, widely interpreted as a peaceful overture, is in fact a declaration of war. The key sentence in the letter is the closing salutation. In an eight-page text of the letter being circulated by the Council on Foreign Relations, it is left untranslated and rendered as “Vasalam Ala Man Ataba’al hoda.” What this means is “Peace only unto those who follow the true path.”

It is a phrase with historical significance in Islam, for, according to Islamic tradition, in year six of the Hejira - the late 620s - the prophet Mohammad sent letters to the Byzantine emperor and the Sassanid emperor telling them to convert to the true faith of Islam or be conquered. The letters included the same phrase that President Ahmadinejad used to conclude his letter to Mr. Bush. For Mohammad, the letters were a prelude to a Muslim offensive, a war launched for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule over infidels.
Anyone who reads this letter as anything else is either uninformed, in denial or both.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Lou Dobbs Slams Bush, Kennedy & McCain On Immigration Fiasco

CNN's Lou Dobbs has a bully pulpit on the cable news channel. But his employers also let him write down his thoughts and editorialize from time to time.

Today he asks President Bush and Senators Kennedy and McCain if they take the people of the United States to be fools for actually believing that any new legislation on illegal immigraion that might get passed would ever be implemented or enforced.

Neither the President nor the Congress has made any attempt to enforce the laws that are already in effect. Why should we believe that they would enforce new ones?

Dobbs' column is short and sweet. It is not a knock-out punch by any means; more of a sharp jab to the jaw.

The fact that he connects solidly simply proves how vulnerable these so-called national leaders really are. Unless they get their act together on the immigration issue and put some teeth into curbing illegal border entries from the south there will be a lot of incumbants who will find themselves slipping in the polls by the time this fall arrives.

Along with Dobbs I can only ask, why can't these folks do the right thing that seems to be obvious to just about everybody in the country except for them?

As it so happens, they are the ones who are looking like fools.

Apocalypse Now? Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Letter to President Bush

If you haven’t read Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush you should do so. You can find it here. It is one of the most important political/religious documents of this century.

It is not important because it is coherent or profound but because it is, perhaps, the most revealing document to date of the symbiotic mix of religion and politics that undergirds Iran as an Islamic State.

Over the years we have become familiar with state documents written by atheistic states where the moral foundation is one that is shaped by the state alone and subject to change. In an atheistic society human rights and, in fact, all rights, are the creation of the state and applied is whatever way the state chooses at any given moment.

In the United States we have a theistic state where our fundamental moral foundation and declaration of human rights are grounded in our particular understanding of “Nature’s God.” This view, where such rights are declared to be “unalienable” and unchangeable by the state, while reflecting a biblical understanding of the Judeo-Christian faith, is nonetheless affirmed to be universal in its application.

With this Ahmadinejad letter we now can clearly see how a particular interpretation of the Muslim faith shapes an attempt to create an Iranian theocracy of Allah.

In Iran there is no distinction made between faith and politics. They are one and the same. Religious law is civil law. Governmental leaders are, if not spiritual leaders themselves, subject to the guidance and control of the established spiritual leadership of the country (in Iran’s case being the Shi’ite Ayatollahs and Mullahs).

The soon-to-be infamous letter reflects a thinking that has more in common with the Old Testament prophets (such as Isaiah or Hosea) than with anything else we have seen emerge from the political world in a very, very long time.

Just like the book of Hosea (for example), the letter presents charges of sin against a nation. In Hosea the charges are made against the northern Kingdom of Israel. In the “Iran letter” the charges are made against the United States. In Hosea the charges are made by God. In the “Iran letter” the charges are made personally by President Arbatjani but supported by the word of Allah in the Qur’an and the “Good Book” or “Injil” (ie the New Testament, especially as regards the teachings of Jesus).

The predictions of doom and destruction in the “Iran letter” also reflect an Old Testament/Qur’anic-style understanding of divine judgment and retribution.

Such Old Testament judgments were frequently carried out by God by means of other nations. Hosea’s prophecies against Israel were eventually fulfilled by the invasion and subsequent destruction of Israel by Assyria.

There is no doubt in my mind that President Ahmadinejad of Iran is sincerely and profoundly convinced that Allah is preparing to pour out his judgment and wrath upon the United States. It is also clear that Ahmadinejad believes that this judgment will be carried out by means of the nation of Iran and those nations and believers who are in sympathy with its religious/political beliefs.

I must strongly agree with Captain Ed when he says
the arrogance of a Muslim leader posing as a lecturer on Christianity is
quite deliberate and intended to humiliate Bush in the eyes of Iranians.
Ahmadinejad does not want Iranians to see him as respectful or deferential to
the Great Satan, but scolding and condescending. It establishes him as Bush's
superior and shows Iranians that he does not fear the US, but is contemptuous of
it. On the other hand, Ahmandinejad knows that the West will interpret this much
differently -- as an extension of dialogue, and a potential diplomatic opening.
Ahmadinejad wanted Bush to respond to his missive with a plea for more contact,
a reaction that would have had a much different impression in Iran and the
Middle East than it would in the West.
And I must also strongly agree with Laura Mansfield at New Republic on-line that this letter implicitly carries with it a conditional threat of war, judgment and destruction against the United States.

The condition for averting such judgment is, once again, no different from that so often given in the Old Testament and the Qur’an.: National repentance and a return of the rulers and their people to the ways of God/Allah.

In the case of Iran, American repentance would, of necessity, require a submission to Allah and the embrace of the Muslim faith.

When we read the many references to Jesus in the “Iran letter’ we must not forget that, from the perspective of Ahmadinejad, Jesus is a Muslim whose teachings were, in their “original form” consistent and supportive of the teachings of the last prophet, Muhammed, who was yet to come.

President Bush and all Christians are, in this view of things, simply misguided Muslims who need to cast off their “polytheistic” ways (Muslims believe that the doctrine of the “Trinity” makes Christians polytheists and, hence, heretics) and return to the true and pure faith in Allah. (Note: This is part of the stinging judgment implied by the frequent and sarcastic references to our common “monotheism.”)

This letter should be clearly read as a threat. It is nothing less than the prelude to a declaration of Holy War against the United States.

Ahmadinejad clearly believes that Allah is the true mover and shaker in this matter and that he (and Iran) are simply tools in Allah’s toolbox, created and shaped to be faithful in carrying out Allah’s will in this matter.

Traditional diplomacy will have no effect on such a religio/political theology.

In a worst-case scenario it is possible that Ahmadinejad has become convinced (or deluded) that he is, in fact, the Mahdi . . . the return of the "hidden" 12th Imam whose return signals the apocalyptic end of the world as we know it.

If this is true, then we cannot expect to “talk sense” with this man any more that we can talk sense to someone who believes that they are (to use CS Lewis’ analogy) a stuffed cabbage.

Even if Ahmadinejad does not see himself as the Mahdi we are facing an adversary who is convinced that “God is on his side” and that the impending conflict is unavoidable and divinely decreed.

The Question of Nuclear Weapons

The frightful question must be asked.

Would Ahmadinejad make such statements and extend usch judgements and threats iIF HE DID NOT ALREADY POSSESS AT LEAST ONE NUCLEAR WEAPON?

If there is a shred of sanity in his mind I believe that the answer must be “No.” He would only speak as he is speaking if he DID already possess such a weapon.

Where would this weapon (or weapons) be used? Israel comes to mind as being the most vulnerable. The mainland United States less likely. Perhaps the Straights of Hormuz could be effectively destroyed to the point where shipping would be prevented from entering or exiting.

This would effectively cut off the world from the oil that is needed for entire continents to function. Such a blow would be a very effective “hit” on China and Russia as well as the United States. Since the judgment is specifically on the U.S. it is unlikely that Iran would seek to inflict damage to other nations not on Allah’s immediate “hit list.”

I can conceive, however, of the detonation of a nuclear device in, nearby or off-shore from Tel Aviv. This would have the benefit of causing minimal harm to the Holy City of Jerusalem or the Palestinian people while producing the closest thing possible to a total destruction of the nation of Israel.

On a related note, the 6th Shi'a Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq, is reported to have said:
"Before the appearance of the one who will rise (ie. the Mahdi), peace be upon him, the people will be reprimanded for their acts of disobedience by a fire that will appear in the sky and a redness that will cover the sky. It will swallow up Baghdad, and will swallow up Kufa. Their blood will be shed and houses destroyed. Death will occur amid their people and a fear will come over the people of Iraq from which they shall have no rest." (emphasis mine)
Am I being “whacko” here? I hope so! I would hate to be correct in this assessment. I am only positing that Iran is clearly a very real and present danger to the world and expressing my belief that Iran is not bluffing.

What Do We Do? How Do We Respond?

As Christians, we must respond with repentance, fasting and prayer, calling upon God to not only “deliver us from evil” but to also “lead us not into temptation” . . . especially the temptation to hate or demonize our Muslim friends and neighbors because of the lunacy of Iran.

As a nation, however, I have no wisdom or advice to offer those who lead the United States at this time. I can only pray that the God of love and mercy will intervene and render this threat impotent.

Personally, I am humbled by these events. For the first time in my entire life I am catching glimpses of what I can only describe as the “end times.” Tel Aviv, by the way, is not too far from the valley of Megiddo, where the apocalyptic battle of Armageddon is prophesied to take place in Revelation 16:16 (see also Revelation 20.7-10).

The good news is that Christ does intervene in that final conflict and, with a mere word, reclaims all power and authority for himself, renders evil impotent, ends the looming battle with a whimper and casts Satan into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.

God will only allow evil to do so much before God will reign it back in. The only question I have concerning Iran is just how far God will allow it to go on its current path to war with America.

In the meantime I will be praying mightily for God’s mercy and for the coming of our Lord in his glory.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Orchid of the Day

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Well, another orchid is blooming in our yard. It joins some of the others I have posted here, here and here.

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We also have an African Violet that is looking pretty nice, too! God is good!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Killing for Sport In Iraq?

As I read news accounts of the British helicopter that went down in Basra earlier today (apparently shot down by a rocket) I got to thinking. Why would anyone want to shoot down a British helicopter in Basra? There are, of course, many answers to a question like that but one answer came to mind that I had not considered before.

Perhaps some of the killing in Iraq, perhaps more than some, is simply for the thrill of it . . . for sport.

I remember as a young teen when my brother and I went out into the woods with a small .22 rifle to shoot at tin cans or whatever else we could shoot at. We eventually got tired of shooting at cans and started shooting at chipmunks. At one point we actually hit one and followed a trail of blood to its hole. With considerable remorse we emptied the rifle of whatever bullets were left and went home. I have never fired a gun since.

Why did we shoot the chipmunk? Was it threatening us? Were we angry at it for being in our neck of the woods? No. Of course not. We shot the chipmunk because we could. We had the rifle and, what the heck, the chipmunk wasn't going to shoot back at us!

I wonder if much of what we are seeing in Iraq is something like that. Why shoot down a British helicopter? Why not! Here's a missile. What's it good for? Well, shooting down things. So, why not use it and see what will happen!

The odds of actually hitting something with these rockets are not much better that those old WW II movies where desparate soldiers try to shoot down Japanese attack planes with rifles and machine guns. Maybe you'll get lucky!

The same with IEDs. There may not necessarily be a great deal of politics of religion in many of these attacks, either. Bad guys who may, in fact, be motivated by politics or religion can always recruit bored kids and train them to do very bad things just for the thrill.

If the kids get blown up, so what? As far as the bad guys are concerned, the kids are both disposable and replaceable.

Wherever you have lots of guns and violence there will be those who will use those weapons for little or no reason. Perhaps because someone looked at you the wrong way. Or because someone put your father out of business. Or because of a bad debt or whatever. So, why kill them? Because you can. And because you have the means to do it.

Why blow up a Humvee? Why not! You've been given the IED and have been shown how to use it. It will be cool to see if you can "get" one of them.

I think, unfortunately, that this is part of human nature. Just like the children who one minute are taking candy from American troops full of smiles and thank yous that are genuine and sincere. Then, a few minutes later, as an IED disables a US military vehicle, those same children are running around, showing off, knowing that there could be a big explosion any moment but are simply testing the limits of their own courage. The excitement of such an attack brings out even more smiles, sort of like playing a real-live video game. Nothing personal about it. Just the fun of playing with really big toys that go BOOM and blow things up!

I am beginning to believe that there is some truth to the argument that, when American troops leave Iraq, this type of violent attack will diminish. Why? Simply because it will not be as much "fun" or as much of a thrill to blow up an Iraqi Security Force vehicle. That would not carry the same cachet as bloodying the most powerful nation in the world!

Why climb Mt. Everest? Because it is there.

Why blow up a Humvee or shoot down a British helicopter?

Despite what pundits are prone to ponder and propogate, not everything is necessarily religiously, politically or economically motivated. Some things are done just for the thrill.

Just a thought.

NY Times Defends Zarqawi

Poor Zarqawi. The NY Times feels that he was given an unfair shake by the US miliary the other day regarding those video-clip out-takes.

In keeping with their legendary objectivity (which means that they support everything and everybody except the US Government, US Military, the Republican Party and anyone in the world who agrees or supports any of them) they have printed the following in today's edition:
The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi's hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it.
They Times also added that "Mr. Zarqawi looked clean and plump."

When I read this excerpt at Powerline my first reaction was that it must have been a satire taken from The Onion. Sadly, it wasn't.

Imagine what the current NY Times editorial staff might have said about Tojo and Hitler during WW II? It makes me shudder.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Funny Photos

A comment from lizzi led me to her home page with a link to kirkslashpage where I came across these photos. They made me smile and I hope they make you smile, too!

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Double Bummer!

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A Winning Smile!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Muslim Scholar Claims 6 Million African Muslims Convert to Christianity Every Year

In a remarkable television interview one year ago on al-Jazeera, Shiekh Ahmed Katani bemoaned the successful efforts to Christianize Africa. Muslims stand by and do nothing, he says, while Christian missionaries feed the hungry, heal the sick and provide education to hundreds of millions of people in Africa each year. The result?
Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa’s main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa. So in the section of Africa that we are talking about, the non Arab section, the number of Muslims does not exceed 150 million people. When we realize that the entire population of Africa is one billion people, we see that the number of Muslims has diminished greatly from what it was in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, the number of Catholics has increased from one million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let us round off that number to 330 million in the year 2000.

As to how that happened, well there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed …..
The interview was translated and posted at Ex-Muslim. If you are at all interested in Christian missions in Africa or in other places in the world where there are significant populations of Muslims you MUST read this interview. It will open your eyes to how this more or less moderate Muslim sees things from his side of the religious divide.

Even so, 6 million converts a year is remarkable. It connects with rumors of tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of "closet Christians" in North Africa who have converted to Christianity in their hearts but must preserve the appearance of being faithful Muslims in order to survive.

It is no wonder that Islam forbids both thproselytizingng of Muslims by other faiths and wields a death sentence for any Muslim who converts out of their faith. It appears to be far easier for a Muslim to convert to the Christian faith than for a Christian to convert to the Muslim faith.

I think that words like love, compassion, mercy, charity and sacrifice might havsomethingng to do with it.


U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D, RI) Crashes Car But Gets VIP Treatment From D.C. Police

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFree Republic has the story of what happened to Patrick Kennedy (Teddy's son) early this morning. It's a small matter but had this happened to a Republican, particularly one with a name of similar repute, it would have been all over the news.

Here is the core of the story,
According to a letter sent by Officer Greg Baird, acting chairman of the (U.S. Capitol Police Union), the wreck took place at approximately 2:45 a.m. Thursday when Kennedy’s car, operating with its running lights turned off, narrowly missed colliding with a Capitol Police cruiser and smashed into a security barricade at First and C streets Southeast.

“The driver exited the vehicle and he was observed to be staggering,” Baird’s letter states. Officers approached the driver, who “declared to them he was a Congressman and was late to a vote. The House had adjourned nearly three hours before this incident. It was Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy from Rhode Island.”

Baird wrote that Capitol Police Patrol Division units, who are trained in driving under the influence cases, were not allowed to perform basic field sobriety tests on the Congressman. Instead, two sergeants, who also responded to the accident, proceeded to confer with the Capitol Police watch commander on duty and then “ordered all of the Patrol Division Units to leave the scene and that they were taking over.”

Baird said he had been advised that after the officers departed, Capitol Police “House Division officials” gave Kennedy a ride home.

Kennedy’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Keep an eye out for the media's coverage of this story. There is a hook, of course, and that is, whether sober or not, Kennedy lied to officers about a pending congressional vote. He could be charged with "Lying to a police officer and obstruction of an investigation."

Interestingly, this same Kennedy was in another fender-bender last month on April 15 in Rhode Island. The details of this accident can be found here. This incident was also covered up by police, who did not release the accident report to the public record as required by law.

The photo at the top of this post shows the note Kennedy wrote for the RI police, describing what had happened. Does this seem like the writing of someone who is clear-headed and in full control of his physical (or mental?) functions? You can click on it to make it larger for a better view. Better yet, you can click here are see the full police report from April 15.

In the end we should not be angry at Patrick Kennedy but with the police who seem intent on allowing him to keep driving until he kills someone.

The Zarqawi That Zarqawi Didn't Want You To See

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNow we know. Zarqawi wears “New Balance” tennis shoes when he’s wearing his baggy black terrorist clothes and shooting his gun across the empty desert at the horizon.

Apparently, the U.S. military has found discarded out-takes of the self-promoting video that Zarqawi released to al-Jazeera last week.

The out-takes (you can view them here) were shown to reporters today by U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch who pointed out that Zarqawi’s rifle skills leave something to be desired.

In one clip, Zarqawi tries shooting his rifle but, rather than shooting out a burst of automatic fire it appears to be shooting only one shot at a time. Clearly not knowing what to do, Zarqawi asks for help in fixing his rifle. When it has been taken care of he shows us all that he can hold a rifle and pull the trigger. Wow.

At one point one of his “associates” takes the rifle by grabbing onto the still hot barrel, letting go of it is a hurry!

Later, as he walks back to his truck, he hands the rifle to someone else, clearly showing that it wasn’t his rifle to begin with but a borrowed one.

According to CNN,
Lynch said that what was seen on the Web last week was what al-Zarqawi "wanted the world to see."

"Look at me," he said al-Zarqawi was trying to impart, "I'm a capable leader of a capable organization and we are indeed declaring war against democracy in Iraq and we're going to establish an Islamic caliphate."

"What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed you," he said, adding, "it makes you wonder."

Lynch was asked how al-Zarqawi can be a "terror mastermind" if he can't handle a firearm.

"You'll probably need to defer that question to his followers," Lynch said, noting that they have allowed him to be established as a leader.

Lynch said the images he showed indicate that al-Zarqawi "tends to have a problem" with mastering his own weapons system and with finding capable and competent aides.

"Why he's their leader, I don't know."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cable News Flips Out Over Tonga Quake

Cable News looks different to us here in Hawaii and this morning was no exception.

As far as today, well, we now know that CNN and FoxNews know how to say "tsunami" instead of "tidal wave." And that's about all.

For two hours after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded near the South Pacific island of Tonga, the cable news channels breathlessly force-fed the nation with wild speculation and every conceivable disaster scenario one after another. Large maps showed where and when a tsunami would hit . . . if there was one. Weather maps were turned into war-room style theater of operations. Earthquake "experts" were asked urgent questions such as, "There will probably be aftershocks, is that true?" and "Please explain what the difference is between an 8.0 and a 7.8 magnitude earthquake?"

Hawaii was mentioned frequently. The tsunami (if there was one) would reach this island state at midnight Eastern time. This was not very helpful for those of us in Hawaii who had to calculate the TOA ourselves (6:00pm HST). I felt as if the "talking heads" considered Hawaii as some foreign disconnected piece of geography as remote as Sumatra was 1 1/2 years ago.

Didn't the news folks realize that we actually get their broadcasts live? Couldn't they at least pretend that we, the ones who would be most affected if there was a tsunami, were in some way being served by their information grovelling? Do they realize that there is more to their little world than the East Coast?

As a public service provider the cable news folks proved themselves to be little more than "panic-producers" and of no help at all to anyone had there actually been a real tsunami on its way. I was actually in awe of how many words, graphics, emotions and minutes they could expend without communicating anything of practical use at all.

Well, it really doesn't matter anyway. Here on Oahu only one local TV station even talked much about the potential of a tsunami on their morning show. For us, the idea of a "Tsunami Watch" is sort of a "let's wait and see before we do anything really stupid like close down the entire state economy until we know what might actually happen unlike what we did 10 years ago when we shut down everything for what turned out to be a 6-inch 'tidal surge'."

Ten or twelve schools were, in fact, closed throughout the state today "just in case." Mostly, these schools (which were all in coastal tsunami zone areas) were closed to avoid any late afternoon traffic problems or other potential evacuation concerns that could possible show up. No problems. No panic. Just another day in paradise!

As it turned out, no tsunami hit Fiji so the "Tsunami Watch" has been officially called off. A few thousand kids get the day off from school and some parents have to adjust their day to take care of them. But Hawaii knows what real tsunamis are and we know what real hurricanes are. We are well prepared and ready for anything. The Civil Defense warning sirens are tested at 11:45 am on the first Monday of every month. We know the sound well and we know what to do.

We are not New Orleans.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Response to Jack Rogers New Book--"Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality"

Here is my response to published excerpts from Dr. Jack Rogers’ new book, “Jesus, The Bible and Homosexuality.”

But first, allow me to introduce you to Dr. Jack Rogers, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly, retired Vice-President of San Francisco Theological Seminary, Southern California, and currently an avid supporter of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians (CNP). Along with the Covenant Network, Dr. Rogers endorses advocacy for the full inclusion of otherwise qualified sexually-active gay and lesbian persons to all ordained offices in the Church (Elder, Deacon & Minister of the Word and Sacrament). Such persons have been denied ordination in and for the Church both by historical understanding of the Word of God, the Authoritative Interpretation of the General Assembly and an explicit statement to that effect placed in the text of the denomination’s Constitution, Part II, the “Book of Order.”

Excerpts from his new book, “Jesus, The Bible and Homosexuality,” were published in the Spring edition of “The Covenant Connection,” the newsletter of the CNP.

The claims and assertions made in these excerpts are so brazen and outrageous that I could not restrain myself from making some sort of a response. Accordingly, I more or less randomly chose four statements and have limited myself to them for my response as illustrative of the quality (or lack) of scholarship represented in Dr. Rogers’ arguments.

The entire text of Dr. Rogers’ article can be found at here (beginning on page 2).

The quoted statements by Dr. Rogers are numbered 1-5 and highlighted in bold.

1. “However, Genesis 1-2 contains no reference to homosexuality, or marriage.”

My Response: Jesus seems to disagree with Dr. Rogers as he is cited in both Mark 10:6-7 and Matthew 19:4-5 as quoting Genesis 2:23-25 in support of God’s creative plan for marriage.

Paul also view Genesis 2:23-25 as relating to marriage as he quotes it in the context of his discussion of the mutual submission of husband to wife and wife to husband in Ephesians 5:31.

I cannot but wonder how Dr. Rogers can present himself as a better interpreter of scripture than either Paul or Jesus. Perhaps Jesus was not familiar with a politically correct “historical-critical” reading of the Word of God?

Indeed, it is the expressed view of the Reformed Faith that “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” Westminster Confession of Faith 6.009

Note: To read the rest of my response click here.

Sen. Biden Calls for the Balkanization of Iraq

In a NY Times Op-Ed today, Senator Joseph Biden presented a 5-point plan for resolving the "problem" in Iraq. His plan is to divide Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions bound by an intentionally weak central government and constitution guaranteeing equal benefits for all.

Biden's model is Bosnia which has been similarly divided up into several such regions in an attempt to keep the different factions from killing each other.

What Biden fails to see is that the vast majority of the people of Iraq do not want his "solution." They have both suffered together and prospered together in the years since the outlines of Iraq were drawn on an otherwise blank map following WW I. They view themselves as one nation and view themselves as Iraqis. They want peaceful coexistance with one another and realize that what is good for one group (Kurds, Sunni or Shi'ite) is ultimately also in the best interest of the others.

By Balkanizing Iraq, the Kurds would have no need for a centralized government at all. They are quite capable of keeping their own wealth and forming a sovereign nation of their own.

The southern realm of the Shi'ite majority is also culturally and economically self-sufficient and would have little reason to dole out their wealth to the Sunnis as Biden suggests.

The Sunnis would wind up with Bahgdad but so what? They would not have the industry or oil or agriculture to sustain enough of an economy to maintain the city.

Even the population of Bahgdad puts the Sunnis in a minority. Why would Shi'ites in Baghdad want to be ruled by a Sunni government?

Partitioning Iraq would be a dream come true for insurgents, al-Qaeda, Shi'ite radicals (such as al-Sadr) and Iran. Sunni and Kurd minorities in the south would find little welcome as partition would magnify their second-class status at the expense of the common bond of being Iraqi. There would be significant of minorities from the south northward. An autonomous Shi'ite south would leave it fair game for Iran to exploit the unemployment and generally lower education of the population. It is unlikely that the popular and respected Ayatullah al-Sistani could survive the cold, calculation and militia/malicious maneuverings of al-Sadr. The Sunni minority, weak as it is, would be no match for an incursion by Shi'ite radicals from the south. Nor would they be able to protect themselves from the Kurds who would have few qualms about reclaiming cities and provinces where they once lived before Sadaam Hussein purged them and replaced them by his favored Sunni people.

Biden repeatedly stresses that all three national unity governments in Iraq have failed to acheive success in building a nation and providing the necessary security against the insurgent and Islamist terror.

What makes him think that breaking Iraq into three parts is going to make these terrorist disappear? The Balkanization would make them even more effective since their opposition will be divided rather than united against them.

Biden wants the United States military out of Iraq. Yet the model he presents, Bosnia, has only managed to keep from self-destructing because of the presence of the constant presence of American and other international troops.

Who will serve this role in a partitioned Iraq? Would it even be possible for a national military to even exist under such a proposal? I doubt it.

Back when the war began I believed that partition and a loose federation of the three regions would be the unltimate end of the affair. I was not convinced that the people of Iraq would really want to remain a unified country. They have since proven me wrong time after time after time.

The people of Iraq want to remain united and the United States is paying a heavy price to help them to realize their aspirations.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, dismisses the wishes of the Iraqi people, minimizes and demeans the considerable accomplishments that they have acheived and insults our military by saying the entire noble effort has essentially been a waste of time.

Biden wants to get us out of Iraq but the plan he has proposed will simply result in creating a region of weakness, division and instability where the influence or presence of American diplomacy or troops would become impossible to assert.

It appears that the Iraqi people want to build their country the way the want and are willing to suffer the cost of bringing it into reality.

Biden, on the other hand, wants to sell the Iraqi people out for some imagined short-term gain.

I would be interested to see how many Iraqi people would support Biden's suggestion.

My guess is that Iran, al-Qaeda and the dwindling Sunni insurgants would vote for it almost unanimously.

That makes me wonder whose side Biden is on?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gaddafi Says: Europe & American Must Become Muslim or Else Fight War With Islam

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFollowing are excerpts from a speech given by Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on April 10, 2006 (courtesy of MEMRITV). Or you can click on the photo and watch it yourself. Sample: ". . . we must search for the true Bible, because the Bible that exists today is a forgery. Today's Bible does not mention Muhammad, whereas our Lord's Bible mentions Muhammad repeatedly." But that's not the scary part. Read on, dear friend, read on . . .
Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi: Some people believe that Muhammad is the prophet of the Arabs or Muslims alone. This is a mistake. Muhammad is the Prophet of all people. He superseded all previous religions. If Jesus were alive when Muhammad was sent, he would have followed him. All people must be Muslims.
The Muslims were enraged by the defamation of their Prophet. But the people who defamed Muhammad were defaming their own prophet, because Muhammad is the prophet of the people in Scandinavia, in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. But since the holy texts that they read in Scandinavia are forged and call for hatred, they believe Muhammad is not their prophet.
We expect to see a picture of Jesus with nuclear bombs over his head, because the nuclear bomb was developed by the followers of Jesus.
They drew Muhammad surrounded by veiled women, because of the veil worn by Muslim women. We expect them to draw Jesus surrounded by naked women, because the followers... because Christian women are naked. In Scandinavia women are naked.
In any case, the holy texts of the West, of Europe and America, call for hatred, there is no doubt about it. This text is corrupt and inhumane.
The so-called Old Testament and New Testament are neither Old Testament nor New Testament - because both testaments were superseded, and they are forged. They were written by hand hundreds of years after Jesus.

In the Bible there are things that are inappropriate for both Jesus and Moses. If we want to mend the state of humanity, and live in a global village, because of the globalization, we must search for the true Bible, because the Bible that exists today is a forgery. Today's Bible does not mention Muhammad, whereas our Lord's Bible mentions Muhammad repeatedly.

We must search for the Gospel of Barnabas, of St. Barnabas, because this is the true gospel. This gospel explicitly mentions that Muhammad would come after Jesus.
Today, we are correcting human history from here, in Timbuktu.

We have fifty million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.

Allah mobilizes the Muslim nation of Turkey, and adds it to the European Union. That's another 50 million Muslims. There will be 100 million Muslims in Europe. Albania, which is a Muslim country, has already entered the EU. Bosnia, which is a Muslim country, has already entered the EU. 50 percent of its citizens are Muslims.
Europe is in a predicament, and so is America. They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims.
If you ever doubted that there was no plan to "conquer" Europe and beyond, think again. Perhaps the term "Crusaders" might best be applied to 21st Century Islamists!


May Day Protests In Tehran

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Did you hear about the tens of thousands of protesters flooding the streets of major cities today? Of course you did. But . . . did you see the name, "Tehran," on the list of cities? Of course not! Why would the U.S. media want you to know that?

Actually, to their credit, even CNN carried the report of 10,000 protesters marching through Tehran today, chanting and carrying signs. Some media outlets implied that the protest was against the United States but it wasn't. It was a labor protest against the government of Iran.

Regime Change Iran carries photos of today's march and is kind enough to translate what the signs actually say.
"We have not been paid in 14 months."
"Why do you make promises you know you will not keep."
"To strike is our undeniable right."
"Ministry of labor must be corrected and cleaned up."
and my personal favorite:
"Let Palestine be, think about us for once."
It appears that the people of Iran are more interested in putting food on their tables than they are about their government's enriched uranium program (have you ever tried to eat uranium?)

On the other hand, I don't believe that Iran suffers from an influx of 11 million illegal immigrants.

Why, I wonder, are people not flocking to Iran? Hmmm . . .

"Immigration March" in Los Angeles--An Anecdote

My daughter #1 was driving through Compton this afternoon when she called me to pass on a message. While talking she mentioned that she had passed two public elementary schools where children were out on the play area waving signs and banners in support of the "Immigration March" today. One sign my daughter saw clearly spoke specifically about defeating HR 4437.

I don't know about you but I have not known too may elementary school children who are that up to speed on proposed congressional legislation . . . especially by knowing the bill number.

Someone set these kids up and have abused them to promote something that is far too complex for these children to understand or have an opinion about.

If it is the school administrators or teachers that put them up to this they should be reprimanded and/or fired . . . no matter how popular their message is in their communities.

If parents put them up to this then the school administrators are still guilty of allowing and supporting a partisan political demonstration on thier school campus.

It would appear that we are seeing evidence of anarchy among those in our society who ought to be modeling and teaching the rule of law to our children. And we're paying them, too!

But nothing will come of it, of course.

Now, if a child had tried to lead a prayer or had brought an American flag to school that would never have been tolerated. So, so sad.