Saturday Sunday Sounds

Like many churches today, ours took some time at the beginning of the service to reflect on the blessings of our nation. I am often uncomfortable with these ‘patriotic’ services, particularly if they linger too long on veterans or the State itself. I love my nation as much as anyone (as 24 years in uniform will testify), but God alone is worthy of adoration in His house of worship.  But after noting the challenges we face today, I thought this was a VERY appropriate call to God’s people to pray. This is not our choir in the video but the song — and the message — are the same. In HIM — not our government, not our military, not our economy — have we placed all our hopes.

Starting a slide?

My family has attended Southern Baptist churches our entire marriage (25 years next month), and I’ve frequently taught adult Bible study on Sunday mornings.

It now appears I will frequently have to point out how the translation favored in the study literature is no longer faithful to a literal translation of the ancient text.

The (Christian Standard Bible) now translates the term anthropos, a Greek word for “man,” in a gender-neutral form 151 times, rendering it “human,” “people,” and “ones.” The previous edition ((Holman Christian Standard Bible)) had done this on occasion; the new revision adds almost 100 more instances. “Men of Israel” becomes “fellow Israelites;” when discussing Jesus’s incarnation the “likeness of men” becomes “likeness of humanity.” The CSB translates the term adelphoi, a Greek word for “brother” in a gender-neutral form 106 times, often adding “sister.” “Brotherly love” is translated “love as brothers and sisters.”

The gender-neutralizing pattern is also present in its translation of the Old Testament…

The SBC is America’s largest Protestant denomination and one of its most conservative. If its leaders and members are tolerating a softer, more inclusive approach to gender, it might be a bellwether of things to come in the culture war over gender.

When the SBC was more about discipleship than it was about being “seeker friendly” (in other words, before Rick Warren), it took the time to teach scripture in the context of its era in history.  Yes, the past was largely male-dominated in terms of language; get over it.  That very fact showcases how Christianity, far from subjugating women, actually improved their status within Christian fellowship and eventually within society as a whole.

That will no longer be so apparent with the “new” translation.  I didn’t like it when SBC literature switched to the Holman Christian Standard version; now they’ve tipped their full hand with the revised in-house CSV.  Modifying scripture to conform to modern sensibilities is not a good sign.  We are told to call on God as “Father,” not as “Parent.”  I’m sure the CSV hasn’t changed that yet, but if it’s changing anything at all it’s only a matter of time.

A church either worships the God who created us in His image, or worships a god made in our image.  When a denomination starts to resemble the world in small ways, it’s usually not long before they start to resemble it in large ways.  The SBC already split once over this kind of thing.  Now it appears that the conservative side is no longer conserving as much.  .

I’ll continue with my English Standard Version and my wife’s parallel Bible — and now I’ll be watching my own denomination and its teachings very closely.  This may easily be a turn down a disastrous road.  If that becomes the case, my family will find an off-ramp to a fellowship that is “rightly handling the word of truth.”

On the edge

Today’s shooting at Republican Congressmen practicing for a baseball game is but the latest (and possibly most worrisome) example of ever-more violent rhetoric leading to more violent action.  Our entire nation needs to take a deep breath and look hard at the road we’ve been traveling to this point.

Nearly a quarter century ago, shortly after Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was confirmed by the Senate, PBS pundit Julianne Malveaux infamously said on air ““You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease.”  A number of people on both sides of the aisle considered this sort of statement to be well beyond the pale.

How far we’ve fallen.

Politics has long borrowed military language: campaign, objective, tactic and so forth.  It used to be understood these were metaphors.  Then Sarah Palin put out a campaign graphic putting “crosshair” targets on key districts in the election.  The Left went melodramatically berserk over her “eliminationist” message, trying to pin the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Palin’s activity.  (For the record, Gifford’s shooter turned out not to be a ‘right-winger,’ but rather, a mentally unstable person who had a bizarre fixation on her.)

Now the shoe is tied tightly on the other foot, and hopefully it pinches hard.  The militant vocabulary used today is not a metaphor: there are two broad worldviews in competition in the U.S., and both increasingly see the other as a literal enemy (and for many, one that must actually be destroyed, not just voted out of office).  I’m sure many Democrats were greatly disappointed when Wednesday’s shooter turned out to be a Bernie Bro and Rachel Maddow fan, instead of a militia member or such rot.  (That didn’t stop their automatic pleading for more gun control.)  Facebook apparently was quick on the trigger to take down the shooter’s page, but not before some of the wiser denizens of the web captured it all for posterity.

Trump is easily one of the most questionable occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and continuous scrutiny is prudent.  That’s not what the other party offers.  They’re trying to nullify the last election by waging an overheated rhetorical war on two fronts: obstructionism in Congress and the courts, and riling up their base to vandalism and worse with some of the most vile language imaginable.  (Note to the Democrats: increasing the frequency of F-bombs in your public addresses might endear you to some of the college crowd, but for the rest of us it just shows you to be a crass juvenile who feeds on emotion, not careful thought.)

College campuses seem out of control, to the degree that self-appointed vigilante groups of students have to be asked by administrators to stop roaming campus with baseball bats and other instruments.  Attempts by conservatives to speak on a campus are now met frequently with vandalistic temper tantrums.  And protestors on both sides of issues like immigration are now showing up suited for battle, not just to carry signs.

Why write all this?  Because I’m concerned our nation crossed a critical line today, and the path we’re on is leading to disaster.  There are plenty of nuts in both camps, and a continuous backdrop of violent rhetoric (particularly on the internet) only encourages them.  As each side looks warily at the other, the mutual distrust leads many ordinary people to wonder if they need to be making preparations for war.  Thus does the divide get wider and more hostile.

We all need to realize that when ballots no longer settle issues, bullets do.  Is that really how we want to go forward?  Do the posturing online ‘toughs’ really want to see their friends and family caught up in the bloodshed of civil war or anarchy?  I spent 24 years in uniform believing I was helping defend America.  I’ve seen firsthand what a country looks like in a civil war (spoiler: it isn’t pretty).  Now it seems we’re determined to destroy ourselves.  If Wednesday’s any indicator, I have a feeling those who are playing with fire to score political points are going to be among the first to get burned.  But probably not the last.

God help us all.

Being the weak horse

It turns out yet again that at least one of the attackers in Saturday’s killing spree on London Bridge was known to be a radical and associate of a radical imam.  What’s more, in this particular case the attacker was even featured in a British TV documentary called “The Jihadist Next Door!”  ((words — even profane ones – fail me here! — Jemison))

The British authorities confirm he was “under investigation.”  I’m sure that will be a comfort to the grieving families of the deceased and the scores of people who will now live with the terror of that night.

Mao Tse-Tung was something of an authority on insurgency warfare (he conquered China by using it).  One of his maxims was “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”  Importing large numbers of Muslims to the West has provided that “sea” in which the jihadi “fish” flourish.  I’m not saying all Muslims are guilty of these accelerating atrocities, only that the presence of large numbers of them, complete with cultural infrastructure, gives our enemies considerable support.  Separating the “sheep” from the “goats” is the rub in fighting an insurgency (see: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan), and it’s never an easy task.  It’s even harder when you continue to import part of the problem (note well that at least one of Saturday’s attackers came to Britain as a young boy when his family filed for asylum).

Right now, jihadism looks like Osama bin Laden’s proverbial “strong horse and Western security agencies look like they’re ready for the glue factory.  In the same way inner city kids look up to drug dealing gangsters because they have no other model of success, the hundreds of thousands of young Pakastani, Somali, Yemeni, Syrian, Afghani and other nationalities flooding the West can be prone to see jihad as “manly defiance” of a Western Civilization they’ve already failed to adopt.

Mao outlined three phases to insurgency warfare: organize and recruit, undermine the legitimacy of government, attack all out when strong enough.  In my view, we’re well into phase two of this insurgency, and our governments look weaker and more ineffective by the day.  So what do we do?  If we’re to succeed, we have to steel ourselves to some distasteful but necessary steps:

Most Muslims are peaceful people who disapprove of terrorism, but many are not. Opinion polls show a large and consistent minority  of 20% to 40% approves of at least some form of terrorism. Support for ISIS generally is low, but much higher for Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups. By any reasonable count there are a few hundred million Muslims who in some way approve of terror, although very few of them would take part in terror attacks. But they are the sea in which the sharks can swim unobserved. They may not build bombs, but they will turn a blind eye to terrorists in their midst, especially if those terrorists are relations. They also fear retaliation from the terrorists if they inform.

The way to win the war is to frighten the larger community of Muslims who passively support terror by action or inaction–frighten them so badly that they will inform on family members. Frightening the larger Muslim population in the West does not require a great deal of effort: a few thousand deportations would do. Western intelligence services do not even have to deport the right people; the wrong people know who they are, and so do many of their neighbors. The ensuing conversation is an easy one to have. “I understand that your nephew is due for deportation, Hussein, and I believe you when you tell me that he has done nothing wrong. I might be able to help you. But you have to help me. Give me something I can use–and don’t waste my time by making things up, or I swear that I’ll deport you, too. If you don’t have any information, then find out who does.”

In the end, this is simple: show resolve, close the border and start deporting thousands now, or end up fighting tens of thousands later.  As the organizer of “Sherman’s March” noted in the 1860s, “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”  So, are we in a “War on Terror” or not?  On this day in 1944, thousands of young men stormed ashore at Normandy.  Do we even possess this kind of grim determination anymore?

Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in D.C. Mordor, and the jury is still out on whether he’ll have any success.  Just as necessary is draining the “sea” in which these known human time bombs are ticking.  Given that the UK alone has been hit three times in less than two weeks, one would think this would be the top priority.

That it isn’t tells us all we need to know about “leaders” in the West.

We should seem odd

Apparently, it’s now scandalous to be careful about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety:

Recently, a Washington Post article about second lady Karen Pence has brought the Billy Graham Rule back into the public eye. The article cites a 2002 interview with Vice President Pence — who has called himself an “evangelical Catholic” — saying that he “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife,” and that he doesn’t attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him as well. This will, no doubt, sound strange to the uninitiated. The Onion parodied the story with the headline, “Mike Pence Asks Waiter To Remove Mrs. Butterworth From Table Until Wife Arrives.” It is strange, as are many religious practices, and strange isn’t necessarily bad.

The impulse that led to the Billy Graham Rule — which was actually a solidification of principles guarding against several kinds of temptation — is a good and honorable one: to remain faithful to one’s spouse and to avoid the kind of behavior (or rumors of behavior) that have destroyed the careers of church leaders.

So far, so good – the author of the article appears to understand the motivation.  Then there’s the “but:”

…for men to categorically refuse to meet one-on-one with women is often dehumanizing and denies the image of Christ that each person bears.

The rule also promotes the preservation of men and exclusion of women in positions of leadership. If a woman at work cannot meet one-on-one with her boss or colleague, her options for advancement (or even being taken seriously as a colleague) are extremely limited.

The Billy Graham Rule also denies the reality of LGBT people. As a friend pointed out to me: Should a bisexual person refuse to ever be alone with anyone, full stop? Should a male pastor refuse to meet one-on-one with a gay man?…

Several female pastors I spoke with told me that they wouldn’t have a job if they abided by this rule because meeting one-on-one with men is part of what they have to do within their congregation.

There’s a lot to unpack here.  First of all, I tip my hat to Mike Pence for being so consistent about this that it draws attention.  But while the author makes a stab at seeming understanding, her real purpose is to taint the practice as somehow harmful and “unfair” (a favorite word on the Left).

As the author points out, the Christian belief system assumes “heteronormativity, furthering the idea that people who are LGBT are people “out there,” not an essential part of the church.”  Well, yes.  Continue reading

The “niceness” handicap

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this article is very much worth your attention:

I have long observed that an alarming swath of public evangelicals seems to be driven by a consuming desire to be liked by the world. ((note: link added to excerpt by me))

Now, that is my characterization, not theirs. To their minds, they are trying to be good representatives of Jesus. They are focusing on “kingdom” issues. They eschew evangelicalism’s past mistakes of tying itself to various moralistic fads such as outlawing alcohol or opposing nylons and lipstick. They want to be sure that unbelievers know that they love them, that the GOP is not the Kingdom of God. They want to be seen as scholarly, cautious, nuanced, careful, measured, and helpful. They shrink from the thought of being seen as dogmatic, triumphalistic, or narrow.

Are those bad motivations? As stated and as far as they go, most of them are not.

However, I’ve come to fear that they mask fatal flaws. For starters,  these sorts are willing to let their motivations be judged and dictated by the reactions of unbelievers…

I can’t say it any better.  Read the whole thing here.

Disney and the Beast

The House the Mouse built has long been known for being supportive of the gay agenda.  It appears, however, the propaganda machine has been cranked to 11:

It’s the smooch reverberating far beyond the Magic Kingdom: Disney’s first gay kiss was featured in an episode of the animated children’s cartoon (!!) Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

“Just Friends,” a recent episode of the Disney series, finds characters Star, Marco, and Jackie attending the concert of their favorite band, Love Sentence. The music inspires most of the audience to lock lips with their significant others, and a few same-sex couples are included.

Meanwhile, having advertised the live-action movie version of “Beauty and the Beast” and built expectations among parents and children, now Disney announces a slight change in the classic plot:

Josh Gad is setting a milestone for Disney: His portrayal of LeFou in the live-action rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” will be Disney’s first openly gay character.

In the film, which stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, Gad plays LeFou, the eccentric sidekick to antagonist Gaston (Luke Evans). In a slight modification, LeFou will engage in a subplot of his own that deals with his sexuality.

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” director Bill Condon told Attitude magazine.

Disney is so committed to this hellish agenda that it is even willing to take a major hit in ratings to continue to push it (ABC is owned by Disney.  For an ideology that preaches ‘diversity,’ there isn’t as much in the entertainment industry as you might think):

ABC can’t be accused of underplaying When We Rise, its eight-hour drama miniseries chronicling the struggles and setbacks of LGBT activists in the 20th century.

Some thought the show, created by award-winning gay activist Dustin Lance Black and aired on four nights this week, goes out of its way to portray middle America as intolerant homophobes. When We Rise received saturation ad coverage during the Oscars ahead of its premiere this week, to the extent that one Twitter commentator joked that if he drunk alcohol every time he saw an advert for the show, he’d be dead by the end of the Academy Awards broadcast.

But part one of When We Rise flopped on Monday. As a result, ABC rescheduled Modern Family to run just before the second installment to boost ratings. However, viewership of the second part fell almost 1 million viewers from its premiere, netting an audience of only 2.05 million on Wednesday, which is pathetic for prime-time slot on a commercial TV network.

While the ABC ideological bludgeoning is more adult fare, the other two cases clearly show Disney is now aiming to confuse the next generation about sexuality.  The company has become a toxic mix of the Vanity Fair of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and a living out of the darker aspects that have long been an integral part of Disney’s storytelling.

For these and many other reasons, I would not be surprised to see the next Star Wars installment feature a gay character.  Indeed, the way Finn and Poe clicked in “The Force Awakens” gave me a sense of pointing in that direction.  Now that Disney owns that lucrative property, I can’t imagine it not using the franchise in its brainwashing efforts.

Christ once said it would be better that someone have a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea than to cause one of His little ones to stumble.  The highly talented but twisted leadership of Disney will have much to answer for one day.  They now serve a Beast even darker and more dangerous than the one in their upcoming movie.