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Monday, July 31, 2006

...Or Destroying Aggressors

One thing that I have learned is that we all have biases - we presume our friends to be innocent and our enemies to be guilty; we presume our friends to be truthful and our enemies to be deceitful. George W. Bush could say that it snowed in Alaska and I would have to check with the Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile Howard Dean could say that the moon is made out of cheese and I might pause for a nanosecond before laughing out loud, so let me state my bias up front:

I am biased towards Israel's right to exist.

When it comes to the issue of Israel's right to exist there should be no debate - if that is even a question then there is no point in discussion. If one entity believes another entity does not have the right to exist then there cannot possibly be any form of discussion between the entities - the bare minimum for any kind of discourse, let alone civil discourse, is the simple confession of each other's right to exist. Thus, if we can agree that Israel has a right to exist then we can discuss the present situation rationally.

If Israel has a right to exist then the first responsibility of the Israeli government is the security of its citizens. That is the primary purpose of governments, protection from domestic and foreign enemies - police for the former and soldiers for the latter. The nation of Israel must protect its citizens, and when Hezbollah began raining military-grade rockets on Israeli civilian centers what was Israel to do? Say, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?" The obvious response was that at a bare minimum Israel had to stop Hezbollah from launching rockets into the homes of Israeli citizens. So, how could they get that done? The first step would be to contact the Lebanese government and insist that they control their own citizens and prevent them from conducting acts of war. If the Lebanese government is unable or unwilling to do so then Israel could either accept rockets being launched from Lebanon into Israeli homes or Israel could take out the rockets' launchers. Israel, to nobody's surprise, chose the latter.

Is it collective punishment or disproportionate destruction?

In a word, no. Hezbollah is firing rockets into Israel and then blending back into the civilian population. This, according to the Geneva Convention, is a war crime - and so is hostage-taking. Hezbollah and Hamas are not even remotely considering abiding by the Geneva Conventions and Israel has nothing to gain by doing so since it will not buy their civilians or soldiers an iota of respect or peace, therefore the Geneva Conventions are essentially null and void in this conflict - if Israel even pays lip-service to the Conventions themselves then I'd be surprised.

Keep in mind, this current conflict is not isolated from the previous conflicts - it is essentially the continuation of a war that began in 1948 (unless you want to take it back to Isaac and Ishmael) by other means. Those nations that sought Israel's destruction tried three times to accomplish their desired end through overt military means, and three times Israel defeated their combined armies - 1948, 1967, and 1973. It was during the 1967 war that Israel repelled the Arab armies and captured the West Bank of Jordan and the Gaza strip, previously controlled by Egypt. Any time prior to 1967 the Arabs could have created a Palestinian state out of the West Bank and Gaza, but their quest back then and still today is the utter destruction of Israel. After all, the PLO was founded in 1964.

Israel did make one major mistake in 1967 - when capturing foreign territory you have exactly three viable options:
  1. Assimilate the indigenous peoples into your own culture (preferred by the Arab states so as to destroy Israel from within)

  2. Deport the indigenous peoples to the lands of the defeated nation(s) (preferred by the Israeli Right)

  3. Return the captured land and its inhabitants to the defeated nation(s) (preferred by the Israeli Left)
Israel's mistake was that its Left and Right forced each other to compromise, and the result was a long-term migraine - occupation. The Right's solution would have been the most efficient, although it would have come at the cost of all international support, possibly even that of the U.S. The Left's solution would have secured the peace, but only in a Neville Chamberlain sense - it would have been 1968 instead of 1973 when the Arabs would have next invaded Israel. The assimilation option would have been uniquely problematic for Israel, whose sole purpose for existing is to be a Jewish state. It is no wonder that the Israeli Left and the Israeli Right - who agree even less frequently than the American Left and Right - uniformly rejected that option.

I bring all of that up to give a bit of context to the current struggle - 24 years ago it was the PLO firing rockets from southern Lebanon into the homes Israeli civilians. 24 Years ago the UN perpetually brokered cease-fires that were repeatedly broken by the PLO/Syria/Lebanon. Israel knows full-well that a cease-fire does nothing but allow its enemies time to dig in deeper and reload. Cease-fires mean absolutely nothing - a total, guaranteed peace would mean everything. Richard Cohen put it best, "...the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel's enemies want that, they can have it in a moment."

No dead Jews, no dead Arabs/Chaldeans/Persians.

I'll not hold my breath waiting for anyone to offer or accept that proposal. This recent fighting does conveniently change the subject from what was about to be a humiliating defeat for Hamas - the Palestinian referendum on implicitly recognizing Israel and setting its borders with Israel, a referendum that was heading to overwhelming victory before Hamas captured Corporal Gilad Shalit as their hostage and then began lobbing rockets into southern Israel. Once Israel responded to protect its citizens from senseless murder Hezbollah began to senselessly murder the civilians of northern Israel via military-grade rockets. With Israel's massive (and I would say justified) retaliation to eradicate Hezbollah from Lebanon the political landscape in Gaza and the West Bank has certainly shifted in such a way that Hamas is probably less likely to lose the referendum, if the referendum is held at all.

Just like Hamas wanted, all along.

You see, ultimately, this is a war of survival, and in such a war there are no rules - it's kill or be killed, those are your only options and I cannot blame Israel for choosing its own survival. It's pretty easy to Monday-morning quarterback from 12,000 miles away, but let's say that little Johnny next door is shooting your dogs with his slingshot. The first thing that you'd do - after telling little Johnny not to do that any more - is to have a conversation with little Johnny's parents. If little Johnny's parents are unwilling or unable to control little Johnny then you could call the police, but let's say that you live in an area where there are no police - think Wild West town with no sheriff - what do you do? You have to get it into little Johnny's head that he can't go shooting your dogs. So you go to have a talk with little Johnny who immediately goes and hides behind his mama's skirt. If mama and daddy won't handle the situation then you have to treat Johnny like a grown man and let him know that if you see him anywhere near your property then you'll shoot him where he stands. Surely, everyone would see this as reasonable. The next day you hear Snowball and Napolean yelping out back so you go get your Winchester, load it up, step outside to see little Johnny walking next to his mama right along your property line, blowing you a raspberry and giving you the finger. Should anyone give a rodent's sphincter when little Johnny's mama catches a couple buckshots as you try to expedite little Johnny's meeting with his maker?

If Lebanon cannot keep its citizens (Hezbollah) from launching rockets into Israel and killing Israelis by the bushel then I can't feel too sorry for Lebanon catching the business end of the Israeli military. I do weep for the individual civilians who are killed - both Israeli and Lebanese - as they, for the most part, don't have anything to do with the fighting: they're just trying to live their lives and provide for their families as rockets and bombs come flying through their roofs. Nonetheless, when Hezbollah refuses to fight military-to-military and instead hides among the civilian population then Israel has little choice but to destroy all infrastructure that could be used to facilitate rocket attacks on Israeli cities. The unfortunate reality is that infrastructure and housing are intimately intertwined, so destroying infrastructure necessarily means killing civilians unless the civilians would have had time to evacuate before the attacks. If Israel had given notice before the attacks how many rockets would have rained down on Israel in that intermediate period? 100? 1000? 10,000?

The bottom line for us in America is this: when an ally is attacked it is the responsibility of its allies to help it repel the attacker(s) - that is what the United States is doing for Israel and must continue to do for Israel for as long as Israel's neighbors seek to destroy Israel.

Unless one doesn't believe that Israel has a right to exist...

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:01 AM :: (4) minds freed

Appetite for Destruction...

How many people does it take to utter the words “never again?” 100? 1,000? 100,000? Do the hands that take a human life determine its worth? Right now in Lebanon, the current death toll is over 400 and rising. Right now in Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing their homes as their buildings, roads, and bridges are destroyed. And yet, their pleas are muted in the name of fighting terrorism. The state of Israel seeks to destroy Hezbollah- an organization intent on Israel’s destruction- by raining bombs and missiles on the country of Lebanon in which Hezbollah primarily resides.

Israel does have the right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens, but how far does that right extend in taking the lives of other innocent people? How can we condemn Hezbollah for taking innocent lives on the one hand, and sanction the killing in hundreds of Lebanese people? The government of Lebanon did not declare war on Israel. The people of Lebanon certainly did not declare war on Israel. Hezbollah’s actions are Hezbollah’s actions. Why must the entire country of Lebanon taste death and destruction in retaliation against a group over which the government of Lebanon itself cannot control?

Hezbollah, which was founded in response to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon in 1982, has killed and terrorized Israeli citizens for years. When the so-called “Party of God” (as its name means in English) captured two Israeli soldiers just over one week ago, people around the world and some Arab governments- including Saudi Arabia- understood Israel’s reaction and condemned the actions of Hezbollah. Any nation has a fundamental right to protect itself, its citizens, and certainly its defense forces. The onslaught we have witnessed since then has crossed the line into wanton annihilation.

The bombs and precision-guided missiles that are striking Hezbollah militants and innocent children alike are made right here in the United States of America. Just the other day President Bush authorized a rushed shipment of bombs to Israel to drop on Lebanon. Your tax dollars are funding the death and destruction of other human beings, other lives. Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters. This is immoral and unjust. How can we be silent as the deafening booms of bombs shatter the rebuilt peace of a nation that has already seen 25 years of civil war? How can we be silent when humanitarian aid is blocked by crater-filled roads? How can we be silent when our nation uses the United Nations Security Council veto to effectively seal the death warrants of Lebanese families?

Our silence signifies our complicity, and blissful ignorance of the actions of our own government in our name means absolutely nothing for the mother who has lost her child, or the father who cannot protect his family. Is Israel justified in seeking to disarm Hezbollah? Of course, as a basic measure of survival. But Hezbollah is not all of Lebanon, and all of Lebanon is not Hezbollah.

What can we do? The most practical act is calling your Congressmen and expressing your sorrow at the death and destruction taking place. Furthermore, we must pray for peace; peace for the people of Lebanon and peace for the people of Israel. We must refrain from taking sides in the name of politics and pseudo-righteousness; the only side we must take is the side of God. We are all his creations, of the same rank and station. We can justify our actions however we choose, but God has the final say over all.

Emancipated by Talib @ 8:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Word For The Week

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."

"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."

The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"

"But Lord , " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."

Judges 6:11-16
Last week I went to Detroit for my family reunion and reconnected with a lot of cousins that I haven't seen in many years. It was an excellent time of affirmation as I had an opportunity to hang out with people who are a lot like me - goofy, opinionated, and exceedingly disdainful of Barbara Bush's firstborn. One thing that I noticed, however - rediscovered, actually - is that within my family my immediate family - my clan, if you will - serves as the facilitators, the organizers and workers who make things happen on behalf of others. My father is the youngest of six boys and my mother is the middle child of nine, but when things need to get done they are the ones to step up to the fore in order to get 'r done, along with my mother's two youngest sisters. This get 'r done mentality has been passed on to me and my sister such that whenever something needs to be done I am there. Whenever someone needs something I am there. Whenever anyone that I know has a problem I am there - I'm Johnny-on-the-spot or Sir-Fix-Alot, but the question that I have never really asked is, "What do I want?"

For as long as I can remember I have been about the business of assisting other people's aspirations, facilitating other people's dreams, serving other people's needs, but beyond my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut I cannot recall ever asking the simple question, "What do I want?" I've done the NASA thing and I'm no longer interested in spending a lifetime preparing for one week in space as a mechanic, but what do I want? I am called to ministry and I enjoy helping others but at the end of the day, what do I want? The totality of my self esteem is tied into my ability. I am confident to the point of arrogance when it comes to my abilities - I know that God has blessed me with the ability to learn and do just about anything, such that if I put my mind to it I can learn and understand anything that I need to know and do whatever needs to be done. However, we are human beings - not human doings - and in my being I have little confidence and even less esteem. I see it manifest in many ways - in the difference between how I treat other people's stuff and my own stuff, in how I prioritize other people over myself, in my penchant for pushing up on sisters like Captain Save A Hostess Ho Ho. I'm partial to the thinking of Jung over Freud so there's no throwing mama under the bus here - my personality is The Duty Fulfiller, I know this already - but I still need to ask what it is that I want.

I've got issues.

Gideon had many of the same issues - he esteemed himself lightly, his family wasn't the most powerful in the region or nation, and his country was in deep caca. Despite this, the angel of the LORD was dispatched to inform Gideon that his nation would be delivered from its trouble and that the deliverance would be enacted through Gideon's hand. The angel said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." I am certain that Gideon looked around to see who the angel was speaking to since Gideon hadn't had any parts of fighting a war - Gideon was one of those who hid in caves and shelters when war came his way. Picture Gideon, clad in Birkenstocks, his dreadlocks flowing over his tie-died shirt as he's tending to his hash stash, and the angel of the LORD pops up addressing him as a mighty warrior.

Holy hallucinations, Batman!

Gideon's immediate response was to present the angel of the LORD with the evidential problem of evil, saying, "But sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." One of the most annoying things in life - at least for me - is when you are going through drama or tough times some well-intentioned idiot coming up to you saying, "The Lord is with you" or "The Lord will make a way somehow" or some such similar churcheese nonsense. It may well be true - I know it to be true - but that's not exactly what I'm trying to hear at that particular point in time. That's one big problem with extroverts - too busy talking to stop and think about what is actually proceeding from their lips, but I digress. Gideon said, if I may contemporize and urbanize his words, "How you gonna tell me that the LORD is with us when Midian has its foot square up our behind? If He was with us then we wouldn't be having all these problems that we got! He may have used to did stuff for us but what has He done for us lately? Not a freakin' thing!"

Gideon was a little upset.

Gideon's problem, however, was that he misunderstood the angel's words numerically, existentially, and temporally. First, Gideon misunderstood the number in the proclamation. The angel of the LORD said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior" - He did not say, "The LORD is with all y'alls, mighty warriors." There's a cliche in the church that says, "What God has for me is for me!" and while I am loathe to encourage selfishness and I hate to propagate cliches it is indeed a true statement - what God intends for you is for you and you only. Where we get it twisted - much like the Israelites of the Old Testament - is that we believe that what God has for us is purely for our benefit. Let me make this plain - when God blesses me with this or that it in no ways means that He will bless you in the same way with the same thing. God blesses me in order for me to be a blessing to others as only I can in that particular place and time, much like God chose Israel to be His special possession for the specific purpose of blessing others, not merely for them to sit back puffed up, proclaiming themselves to be the only ones worthy of God's grace (no one is worthy - that's what makes it "grace"). When God blesses you He blesses you for the purpose of you being a blessing to others, in a way that you and only you can bless them at that place and point in time, so when the angel of the LORD said to Gideon, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior" that is exactly what He meant - the LORD was with Gideon.

Second, Gideon misunderstood the existential nature of his nation's predicament. God had not forsaken Israel, God was allowing Israel to reap the rewards of its decision to forsake the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the idol gods of the Amorites. Decisions have consequences, and all too often we make stupid decisions and then get mad at God for allowing us to reap the harvest of the seeds that we have sown. We sow sin and wonder why we're reaping stress. We plant pride and wonder why we're reaping problems. We place immorality in the earth and wonder why the earth provides us with issues. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." This applies to families, communities, and nations as well. Israel was reaping what it had sown - broken fellowship with the Creator of the Universe - but God took the initiative to restore the fellowship and to deliver Israel from yet another set of problems that Israel had brought upon itself. God had not forsaken Israel, Israel had forsaken God.

Third, Gideon misunderstood the temporal nature of the angel's statement. The angel did not say that the LORD had always been with Gideon and the angel did not say that the LORD would always be with Gideon. The angel said that the LORD is with Gideon. Rev. Charles Walker preached the sermon, "What You Gonna Do With Your Day" in which he made the poignant point that this is the day that the LORD has made - yesterday is a cancelled check and tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cash in hand - what are you going to do with your day? The angel told Gideon that at that very moment God was with him and would deliver Israel through Gideon's hands, but Gideon initially couldn't receive that message - it made no sense to him.

Gideon missed the message of God because he was focused on himself and his own problems - his own solitude in the winepress by himself, his own status as the least in his family, his own stature as the least in the tribe of Manasseh - instead of focusing on the God who can change things in the twinkling of an eye. He had heard about how God had delivered his forefathers out of Egypt, how God struck down the enemies of Israel, how God facilitated their entry into a land flowing with milk and honey with livestock they did not raise and crops they did not plant. He'd heard all of those stories, but he'd had no experience himself to buttress that fledgling faith. He hadn't seen God move or operate in his life so from Gideon's perspective there was no God, or if there was one then he didn't care much about Israel. Gideon needed a personal encounter with God, and God made himself known to Gideon in a spectacular way - a personal encounter with the angel of the LORD. God did this not for Gideon's benefit alone, but that others through Gideon might be blessed, namely the children of Israel.

I can relate.

You may recall that last year I was really going through it (q.v. 30 Pieces of Silver, Death Becomes Us, The Divine Conjunction, To Be Or Not To Be), but shortly after that I got a contract position that paid me almost the same thing that I had been making full-time. Today I can report that I have been hired in full-time and that I am now making $25,000 more than I was at the previous job. Considering the fact that the previous job limits you to no more than a 5% annual raise it would have taken a decade or two for me to get to the income level where I currently find myself. What's more is that I am doing exactly the same thing that I was doing at the previous job, only we are starting from scratch the very department that I was part of creating at the old job so I have a good idea of how it should run and what its shelf life is. And I'm being fast-tracked.

The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.

Things are starting to come together for me, I am beginning to see my direction much more clearly. I know that I want a nurturing, fruit-bearing P31 wife, right now. I know that I want a son to be named after my father and another son to be named after my Uncle Wille. I know that I want to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. And I know that I want the Steelers to win another Lombardi Trophy. I know that once Gideon received that which God had revealed to him Gideon was able to rout thousands of Midianite soldiers with 300 men. I know that God can use the weak to rout the strong. I know that with God all things are possible so I need to spend some time in prayer and meditation to connect my wants, my needs, my desires and my aspirations with the will of God. I just need to spend the next few weeks distilling exactly what those wants, needs and desires are. God has certainly provided the means to achieve those ends, and for that I give Him all the praise, all the glory, and all the honor.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to be a blessing to others,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (1) minds freed

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Comics

Objective Reality
Democratic National Convention
Free Market Conservatives
Sealed With A Kiss
Kiss It Good-Bye
Peace Symbol
Condi's Baby
Mother Of All Boobs
Supply-Side Jesus Freaks
Housing Arrangements
Disproportionate Response
Rocky Hard Place
Audacious Actions
Brave Men
Targeting Priorities
Blending With Civilians
Civilian Casualities
Embedded Target
Collateral Damage
Hide and Seek
Surrounded By Enemies
Like A Good Neighbor
Mic Check
Quagmire Redux
One Two Step
Die Gropenator
Hands-On President
Fat Chance

And my favorite for today: Navel Gazing

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:26 AM :: (0) minds freed

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Zero-Sum Solution

I haven't had much good to say about anything that Richard Cohen of WaPo has written since he boarded the Bush bandwagon in the run-up to Junior's Misadventure in Mesapotamia™ - that changes today. Cohen summed up the problem and the solution about as succinctly as anyone could possibly do with a pen and paper - keyboard and mouse, if you will. Richard Cohen said:
"The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights."

"These calls for proportionality rankle. They fall on my ears not as genteel expressions of fairness, some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war, but as ugly sentiments pregnant with antipathy toward the only democratic state in the Middle East. After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel's enemies want that, they can have it in a moment." (emphasis mine)
Zero-for-zero - no dead Jews, no dead Arabs/Chaldeans/Persians. Seems like a reasonable idea to me - any takers?

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 9:49 PM :: (2) minds freed

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Family Matters

I'm heading up to Detroit for my family reunion - both sides coming together for the first time ever - so I'll be incognegro until next week.

Take care and God Bless!

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:59 AM :: (0) minds freed

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fundamental Differences

It seems that the Republican Party's attempt to court Black voters is coming up a bit short - kinda like Rush Limbaugh. While the reasons for Black folk's disdain for the Republican Party are many and sundry - from Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats who migrated into the Republican Party, to Ronald "I believe in states' rights" Reagan, to George "Willie Horton" Bush, to Trent "All these problems" Lott, to George "Heckuva Job, Brownie" Bush - but these are not the primary reasons why Blacks cannot abide the Republican Party.

There is a fundamental philosophical divide between Republicans and Black folks that is impossible to reconcile with being Black in America. You see, Republicans absolutely will not support groups - they believe in the sanctity and autonomy of the individual - while Black folks are necessarily about the well-being of Black folks, our primary identity group. Republicans try to appeal to the individual when Black folks are concerned about how Black folks are doing, and that's something that the Republican Party couldn't care less about - not that they necessarily dislike or hate Black folk (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), but they don't generally support any group based on their inherent characteristics. Republicans will support groups based on behavior - hunters, business owners, et al. - but not based upon inherent traits, that's purely the purview of the Democratic Party.

JC Watts admits as much, saying, "I take my hat off to Ken [Mehlman, Chairman of the GOP]; what he has done is unprecedented in the time I’ve been a Republican. However, I remain unconvinced that it is in the DNA of our party to get it done. There are just too many things out there that I think Americans of African descent have concerns about."

The GOP has America as its primary identity group - to Republican thinking nothing should trump one's identification with one's nation-state. A Longhorn may have Texas as his primary identity group but so long as he does not make any demands on all of America to accede to the needs of Texas then all is well and good within the GOP. That paradigm doesn't work when it comes to most Black folk - we make demands on the culture at large to accede to the needs of Black folk, as Black folk have many unpaid claims that must be addressed. And no, reparations in and of themselves will not pay those claims. Black folk who do fit the GOP mold are those who can focus on individual needs without asserting the needs of any particular identity group, Black, Brown, or otherwise. Within the Black community we have a name for people who look out for individual needs without considering the needs of our identity group, for those who put individual needs above the needs of Black folks.

Uncle Tom.

This is why Blacks will not migrate en masse to the Republican Party, short of Black folk giving up on the Black community, but the issue of homosexuality is one issue that could facilitate that migration if the Democratic Party in general and progressive activists in particular insist on equating homosexuality with the historic struggle of Black folk in America. If the Democratic Party will not tolerate and acknowledge a diversity of views on this issue within the Democratic Party then there will indeed be a Chocolate Migration to the Republican Party, sooner or later.

Increasing Black home-ownership and trifling neighbors could also expedite the Chocolate Migration.

I am not looking forward to that day.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 7:45 AM :: (5) minds freed

Monday, July 17, 2006

Workplace Romance, Post Mortem

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Somewhere along the line "I'm really not interested in that" got translated into "I'd really be interested in that" - what I am yet to figure out is if the failure in communication was between the intermediary and me, sista girl and the intermediary, or sista girl's brain/heart and her mouth. All things considered I'd be prone to believe the latter - especially considering my history of pushing up on sistas who are certifiably crazy - but at the end of the day it really doesn't matter, nothing's happening there.

Much ado about nothing.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 6:12 PM :: (0) minds freed

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Word For The Week

In light of the current goings-on in and around Israel and some of the conversations that I've had over the last couple weeks regarding this round of fighting within the context of the previous rounds of fighting, I believe this would be a good time to revisit the question of whether or not the Christian is required to be a pacifist. Required?

- God

Any questions? How about Matthew 22:37-40? Does anyone desire to be killed? Isn't it rather difficult to love your neighbor as yourself when you're killing him? Didn't Jesus speak directly to this in Matthew 5:38-48? Anybody care to argue with Jesus on that point? Maybe it would be easier to argue with Paul. Couple that with Romans 12:17-21 and I have to ask the question: How can a Christian justify war?

The pacifists' position is alluring to the Christian because of our desire to live at peace with all men. We believe in and strive for harmonious relations with all people everywhere such that we may bring them the good news of our salvation. We try to emulate Jesus who, when taken by the Romans to be accused, beaten and crucified, never said a mumbling word. Given this, war is a difficult proposition for the Christian. It does not, however, preclude our support for and participation in just wars. As we seek to emulate Jesus Christ we must emulate his entire character, not just one aspect of it. As we seek to fulfill the commands of God we must reflect God's entire character and nature. God is indeed forbearing, bearing the transgressions of sinners for ages, but God is also just, bringing justice upon the heads of transgressors. Yes, God pours out His mercy upon those who will repent and receive it, yet God also pours out His wrath upon the unrepentant. You cannot have one without the other, we cannot divide God's character into sections we like and sections we'd rather not speak about - we must take God as He has revealed Himself to us, the whole enchilada. That said, how can Christians possibly justify war? Isn't the Bible straightforward on this point, particularly in the passages already mentioned? Let us look at these verses in detail.

Exodus 20:13 says, "You shall not murder." It does not say, "You shall not kill." What is the difference? The original Hebrew conveys the idea of laying-in-wait, what we would call 1st degree murder. Further illuminating the idea of this passage is the case law that followed it, the practical application of the Ten Commandments. Consider Exodus 21:12-14. This is a clarification of the "You shall not murder" command, highlighting the point that the prohibition is against, contemporarily speaking, sneaking up on somebody and shooting him in the back of the head. On the other hand, if they happen to encounter each other and get into a fight and one dies (2nd or 3rd degree murder), the survivor was to go to a safe haven where no vendetta could be carried out against him. The point here is fairness - do not sneak up on someone to kill him but give him a fighting chance by dealing with him face-to-face, man-to-man. The point here is justice, doing that which is just.

We see even more clearly that God was not prohibiting all taking of human life by His reaction to the Israelites' apostasy a few chapters later in Exodus 32:25-29. Clearly, God didn't have a problem with men killing other men.

But that's the Old Testament, what about the New? What about the Sermon on the Mount? Could Jesus have been any clearer on the pacifistic nature of the believer? The truth is that we must interpret Jesus' words as He intended them in this passage - hyperbolically. Hyperbole is exaggeration for effect, a literary device used to draw attention to an important point. When a suitor tell his lover, "I'll die if I don't see you today" he is exaggerating to make the point that he wants to see her. He knows that he is exaggerating and she knows that he is exaggerating. However, when the doctor calls you and says, "You'll die if I don't see you today," that is not hyperbole and you'd better take that literally.

So how can we tell the difference? One way is to see if literal interpretation would achieve the stated objective. Consider the passage just before the "eye-for-an-eye" section, Matthew 5:27-37. Would ripping out your eye keep you from lusting? Would cutting off your hand keep you from committing adultery? How long would it take for all of society to be handless and eyeless? Days? Minutes? Seconds? Is that the objective of the passage? Obviously not. Furthermore, where in the New Testament do we see anyone plucking out eyes or cutting off hands? Did those who heard these words of Jesus interpret them literally or did they understand them to be hyperbolic?

How does divorcing one's wife make her to commit adultery? Does the simple fact that her husband left her make her an adulteress? Again, this is hyperbole. Marrying one who has been divorced would be adultery if the previous man were still considered to be her husband, however Jesus seemed to take a different view with the Samaritan woman in John 4. If Jesus took the position that only her first husband was her true husband then in verses 17-18 He should have said, "You have incorrectly said, 'I have no husband' for you have broken faith with the husband of your youth and have been with five different men since leaving your husband." However, that is not what Jesus said. Jesus actually affirmed the fact that she had no husband in verse 17. If she has no husband then she does not commit adultery when she marries someone. Clearly, Matthew 5:31-32 is hyperbole as well.

Was Jesus against oaths? When He was brought before the High Priest he said not a word. However, when the High Priest put him under oath, Jesus responded. Look at Matthew 26:62-64. Jesus broke His silence because He was placed under oath and He respected it. Jesus' teaching was not that oaths were invalid but that their use to obfuscate commitments was invalid. Look at Jesus' correction of the Pharisaic abuse of oaths in Matthew 23. Jesus' teaching on oaths was not that oaths were innately wrong but that men must not try to weasel out of their commitments. Jesus' teaching on divorce was not that divorce is the unpardonable sin but that men ought not divorce their wives. Jesus teaching on lust was not that men ought to mutilate themselves but that they should control themselves. Jesus used hyperbole to communicate these truths in this section of the Sermon on the Mount as He continued to the end of the chapter.

Jesus was also correcting the additions to the Law and misinterpretations of the Law by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes. The concept of "Eye for an Eye" had been mangled from its original intent of proportionality. Look at Exodus 21:22-25:
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
This clear command for proportionality in justice had been misrepresented to mean that each person is entitled to personally seek vengeance for any and every wrong suffered. Jesus demolished this misrepresentation by saying that not only do you not avenge yourself eye for eye, tooth for tooth, but instead you turn the other cheek - exposing your other eye and the rest of your teeth. Jesus used hyperbole to expose the wrongness of the teachings of the teachers of the Law.

The teachers of the Law also misrepresented the command to love your neighbor by adding, "and hate your enemy." Jesus wiped this one clean by retorting directly, not hyperbolically, that we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He proceeds to explain why we should do this in verses 45-48, ending the section of hyperbole as He moved into a mode of didactic teaching. Thus, the passiveness inferred by pacifists from this passage is not a norm for all of life. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who would bring us harm, but we are also to defend ourselves.

Consider Luke 22:35-38:

And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." And He said to them, "But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment." They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
Did Jesus tell them to get rid of their swords? No. Did Jesus remind them about turning the other cheek? No. Jesus said, "It is enough." There is debate over the exact meaning of this passage, but one thing is clear: Jesus did not oppose self-defense here. Even in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus rebuked Peter for attacking the servants of the High Priest Jesus notes that He could call legions of angels to fight for his defense. Look at Matthew 26:52-54:
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"
Jesus said that he could have angels fight on His behalf if He so chose - clearly not a passive or pacifistic statement. The pacifist will undoubtedly point out verse 52b, "for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." Once again, we see hyperbole at work. Obviously, there are those who have made a living by means of the sword and have died fat and happy; Joseph Stalin is one example out of many. Generally speaking, however, taking up the sword long-term is hazardous to one's health - especially when taking up the sword against the strongest military power in the world, as the 1st century Jews were beginning to do. They felt the brunt of the truth of Jesus' words in 70 AD when Rome sacked Jerusalem and over 1 million people died. So the question remains, "Is it ever just to take up the sword?"

What about Paul's words on the subject? Unfortunately, Paul's words are often taken so far out of context that Paul would probably have trouble recognizing them himself. The passage that says, "for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh" is usually quoted in isolation from its context. Look at the whole context:
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
In context Paul is talking about correcting ignorant speculations and beliefs about God. This passage has absolutely nothing to do with pacifism. It has everything to do with discipleship. How about the passage in Romans 12:17-21? Verse 18 is as conditional a statement as you will ever find, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." "If possible" - it may not be possible. "So far as it depends on you" - you may not have a choice. A straightforward reading of the passage gives the clear meaning - do not cause trouble.

But is it ever just to take up the sword?

Paul seemed to think so in Romans 13:3-4. Apparently, sword-bearing is not innately evil, but actually can bring God's wrath upon the one(s) who practice evil. The writer of the book of Hebrews links sword-bearing to the faith of the saints. Addressing the saints of the New Testament Church, the writer of Hebrews gave instances of Old Testament saints conquering kingdoms, becoming mighty in war, and putting foreign armies to flight as examples of faith in God, not as the faithless hardening of their hearts. They engaged in war because they believed in God - "who by faith conquered kingdoms..."

Furthermore, if bearing the sword were inherently evil, i.e. sinful, then Jesus would never be presented in that fashion. In Revelation 19:11-16 John sees the conquering Christ:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Is Jesus ever portrayed as a murderer? Of course not, because murder is innately wrong. Is Jesus ever portrayed as an adulterer? Of course not, because adultery is innately wrong. Is Jesus ever portrayed as a thief? No - his return is portrayed as a thief comes at night, i.e. stealthily, but Jesus is never compared to the thief himself. Notice that the passages that refer to Jesus' return being as "a thief in the night" never talk about Jesus stealing anything. Yet in this passage in Revelation Jesus is presented as a warrior who strikes down the nations. If bearing the sword in this fashion were innately evil and sinful then Jesus would never be presented in this fashion. Moreover, one of the highest words of praise that Jesus had for any human being was for a soldier in Matthew 8:5-10:
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel."

If Jesus was a pacifist then He certainly would have taken a moment to make a point here, yet He did not. One of the first Gentiles to convert to Christianity was a centurion and his household, and the man after God's own heart, King David, bore the sword to significant success. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament confirm the fact that there are times when it is just to take up the sword - the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever - so clearly, pacifism is not mandated from the Bible.

But Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and inasmuch as we seek to live in harmony with one another, to be sympathetic, loving as brothers, compassionate and humble, not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but instead blessing those that curse us, pacifism is certainly allowable from a Biblical worldview, it just isn't necessarily the best way to go when someone is threatening to kill your friends and family, when someone is currently trying to kill your loved-ones, when someone has tried at least three times to eradicate you from the face of the planet then the pacifistic option might not be the one for you. If you have no enemies, if you have no interactions with others, if you are isolated from the rest of the world then it is much easier to be a pacifist.

As for me and my house, we will fight back.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to accept the full characted of Christ,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday Comics

Party of Hatred
Chicken Choker
Elected Haters
Two-Front War
Bad Apples
Dragonballs W
Starve The Beast
Little Man
Just Making Sure
Zidane À La Mode
Red Card
Instruments Of Authority
Straw Man
Hungry Hungry Hippo
Family Values
Reality Check
The Butcher's Bill
Freedom Of Speech
Bush Doctrine
Soul Mates
Uncivil Union
Catcher & Pitcher
Stump Speech
Yo Ho Ho

And my favorite for today: Banana Republic

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 9:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Monday, July 10, 2006

Workplace Romance, Part II

Well, the village elders have interceeded and apparently she (um, Dave has that motif patented, I'll have to think of something else to designate sista girl - suggestions?) is game for an introduction, so introductions will be made tomorrow, probably over lunch somewhere. India Arie is going to be in town this Thursday so I'll see if she wants to check out that concert and we'll go from there. I'll post as things progress. In the meantime, how about some corny humor (which is quintessentially me) - and feel free to add your own in the comments: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because she was going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! She was going to California and Texas and New York! And she was going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan! And then she’s going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House, Yeeeeeaaaaaah!

To take the “Roosters Only” sign down from the other side

She was just following orders

To hen-peck the mill worker on the other side

Because she was a miserable failure

To find Osama bin Forgotten

Because the other side was more electible

To get the US out and the UN in

To get pecked after the State of the Union Address

To fight for fundamental chicken rights

To preemptively strike someone who allegedly had a skillet, grease, flour, seasoned salt, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and an appetite – just to find that they only had cup of yogurt

To discover an inconvenient truth.

The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling Escalade.

To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.

To take a principled stand for the constitutional rights and protections of all chickens

Because the wind was blowing that-a-way

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken.

To get to the kinder, gentler side of the road, but read my lips - no new global crossings

What chicken?

Because there was a brand new coop on the other side that her friends here at Habitat for Chickens built for her.

I dunno, D'oh!

I am not a chicken thief.

Because I #^&^ing told it to cross the road! Any more dumb @$$ questions?!?

Ask not what your chicken can do for you...

There was no chicken, you should retract that story as many innocent chickens have been hurt.

I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your money, money the government took from you to build roads for chickens to cross. What's next? Free prescription drugs for crossing-the-road syndrome? Free drugs to help some cock do his cockle-doodle-doo?

We applaud the efforts of the working class chicken. It will be a travesty if we do not pass my $87 million bill so that poor American chickens throughout West Virginia have this same opportunity to cross the Robert Byrd Highway across from the Robert Byrd Observatory.

I intend to prove that the chicken crossed the road at the behest of Bill Clinton in an effort to distract law enforcement officials and the American public from the sexual wrongdoing our highest elected official has been trying to cover up. As a result, the chicken is just another pawn in the president's ongoing and elaborate scheme to obstruct justice and undermine the rule of law. For that reason, my staff intends to offer the chicken unconditional immunity provided he cooperates fully with our investigation. Furthermore, the chicken will not be permitted to reach the other side of the road until our investigation and any Congressional follow-up investigations have been completed.

What business is it of yours why the chicken crossed the road? The chicken had every right to cross the road, more right than you have, since the chicken never murdered or enslaved another animal for its own pleasure.

Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's what "they" call it - the "other side." Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side."

I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

She didn't cross the road. Witnesses from the grassy knoll clearly saw that it was instead two geese that crossed, forever debunking the one-bird theory.

To die. In the rain. Alone.

Because some chickens are more equal than others

It was the road less traveled by

Cross the chicken? Nevermore!

Imagine there is no chicken

We were trying to whisper something in her ear

To escape the shadows of the cave

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

It was an historical inevitability.

I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I will defend to the death its right to do it.

To crush those who would not join the Chicken Coup

She was naturally selected to evolve into a 3-piece dinner

Because it made absolutely no sense

She was predestined to cross the road

I've got 95 reasons why the chicken crossed the road posted on the door of the Wittenberg KFC

Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

The shadow knows...

I have just released eChicken 2003, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook--- and Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.

I really can't comment. I don't recall. I wasn't aware that the road crossing actually occurred, since that information was classified.

The road, you will see, is allegorical for the Black man. The chicken crossed the "Black man" in order to trample him and keep him down.

She couldn't handle the roost!

We make her an offer, she no refuse...

To say hello to my little friend!

Because she chose the red pill...

To boldly go, where no chicken, has gone, before.

Logic dictated that the chicken cross the road.

Because she wasn't going to have her atoms scattered across the galaxy by some new-fangled transporter

It was the will of the prophets

The 62nd Rule of Acquisition - The riskier the road, the higher the profit

Resistance was three ohms

Begun, this crossing has, hmmm

To fulfill her destiny on the dark side of the road

She would have crossed the road quicker if Obi Wan wasn't holding her back

You're not my feather!

To go peck some scruffy-looking nerf-herder

To check out the padouin rooster with the really big light saber

See what I mean?

She's just a simple chicken trying to make her way across the road

To witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!

This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of white phosphorus on her.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 PM :: (3) minds freed

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Word For The Week

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:8-16
A couple weeks ago Senator Barak Obama spoke at the Call to Renewal Conference sponsored by Sojourners made some poignant points about the thorny issue of religion and progressive politics. Senator Obama gave his personal testimony, detailing his journey from skepticism to faith in Jesus Christ (something, by the way, that we are yet to hear from a certain president - "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible"), giving the reason for the hope that he has in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is what all Christians are called to do - with gentleness and respect - so that people will have to address the claims of Christ and not our behavior.

This is the single biggest problem with the Religious Right from a Christian point of view - they sully the cause of Christ with their in-your-face politics and attaching such politicking to the name of Christ. I have said it before that the Religious Right must be opposed directly by those who believe in the authority of Scripture and who believe that Scripture mandates a progressive view of politics. Those who believe that the Bible authoritatively commands us to live in harmony with one another - to be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble - and to pursue political policies that reflect those values need to speak up in such a way that those who speak maliciously against our good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Those who speak maliciously against the Religious Right often have no reason to be ashamed because the behavior that they see from so-called Christians is anything but good. Too often people are forced to reject association with so-called Christians rather than dealing with the claims of Christ Himself, and that is the fault of the Religious Right and their politicking.

What shall we do?

The answer for political progressives is that we must speak from our core about what we value, what we believe, and how we apply those beliefs in private practice and in public policies. We must explain what we believe and show how our actions flow from our beliefs. People must see that our actions and policies flow from our source of authority, from our core beliefs, and that we will not waver from those core beliefs and policies. It is that character, that integrity that has been lacking from progressive politics since Clinton's third way triangulated Bill into the White House and the Democratic Party into the outhouse. Triangulation was a one-time tactic that worked for an exceptional politician, but as a long-term strategy it necessarily fails. The Democratic Party has taken a cynical view of the voting public in thinking that form trumps function, in thinking that certain traits and certain buzz-words will convince people to vote for a candidate to whom they have no other connetion.

This is why the Democratic Party nominated Senator "Milquetoast" Kerry over Governor Howard Dean, a man who would now be president if he had stuck to his guns on the Confederate flag comment and refused to try to sound overtly religious when he doesn't roll like that. Howard Dean should have stood firm and explained what he believed about appealing to guys with confederate flags on their pickups - the same thing that Martin Luther King meant in his sermon, The Drum Major Instinct:
The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I'm in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, "Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes." And I said, "You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march."

Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can't hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out.

Howard Dean firmly believed that we have kinship with such voters and that we do them harm by abandoning them to the Republican Party, a party that does not have their best interests at heart. Howard Dean was saying that the poor White has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors, and that the Democratic Party was the blind bigot. Howard Dean believed that the Democratic Party had to practice tolerance and not just preach it to others, such that people who don't walk and talk like Birkenstocked liberals could call the Democratic Party home. Howard Dean believed that the Democratic Party didn't belong to NARAL or ACT UP or the AFL-CIO or the NAACP or AIPAC or the NRA or National Right to Life or any specific interest group - Howard Dean believed that we, the voting public, had the power to make the Party into a platform for progressive policies that would change this country for the better.

Senator Kerry believed that he was electible.

People vote their values - not simply a certain subset currently called "values voters" but all voters vote their values. Those who value the right of a woman to choose an abortion over all other values will vote their values, as will those who value the life of an unborn child over all other values. Those who value a living wage will vote their values, as will those who value a corporation's freedom to set its own wage policies. Those who value American Idol and XBox 360 will vote their values as well - either by not voting at all or by haphazardly voting for whomever sounds familiar. Everyone votes their values - everyone - and the challenge for progressives is to state our values in such a way that people can relate to our values even when they cannot relate to us.

The answer for the Christian is the same - we must live our lives in such a way that people see Jesus Christ in our every word and deed. People must associate our every action with Jesus Christ, be that in how we carry ourselves at work, how we interact in politics, or how we present ourselves online, our every action must flow from our faith in Jesus Christ. That must be evident to everyone who witnesses our activities because if we call ourselves Christians then we are indeed witnessing about our faith in Jesus Christ and what that means in our day-to-day living. The question is this: what are we testifying about Jesus Christ in our daily lives? That we cherry-pick the commands that we'll follow? That we're good with the loving-you-neighbor thing but the sexual purity thing is for the birds? That we're good on the sexual purity thing but the rendering-unto-Caesar thing is addressing someone else? That we're good on rendering unto Caesar but some of our neighbors are simply unlovable? What are we witnessing about Jesus Christ?

For too many Christians, and I am no exception, there is too much "me" in our faith - our faith is not centered on Jesus Christ, it is centered on ourselves. We don't submit to His will, we expect Him to conform to our will. We don't want to work for His Kingdom, we expect Him to help build up us and ours. We have too many self-centered saints playing in the Kingdom, such that in many instances our hope lies not in Christ Jesus our Lord but in ourselves. In our hearts we have not set apart Christ as Lord, we have set Christ apart as Lackey: "Go get me this, get me out of that, do for me!" It's all about self for too many saints, and this is why many people who call themselves Christians will find themselves saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" just to hear Jesus plainly say, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

Our testimony is more than just some words out of our mouth, it is the life that we live and we must live in such a way as to let our light so shine that people will see our good works and glorify God in heaven. People are quick - lightning quick - to demand that nobody judges them, but the truth is that if you call yourself a Christian then the world is already judging you, and it is the responsibility of fellow Christians to inform you - with gentleness and meekness - of your error, of my error, or of our errors. I am not my brother's judge but I am my brother's keeper - and he is mine - and we have a responsibility to each other to help each other to walk the straight and narrow way that leads to life, because we are living stones, living testimonies to the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. It's not about you doing your thing or me doing my thing, it's about us doing God's thing, and that must be the testimony of the Christian if we are indeed to be Christ-like. Senator Obama gave his testimony for all to see, to match his talk against his walk, and while we may disagree on some minor details we certainly agree on the big picture: we must submit to His will and dedicate ourselves to discovering His truth.

What's your testimony?

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to be a living testimony,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM :: (0) minds freed

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Comics

There's an old saying about biting off more than you can chew that would have done this python some good in the Everglades - he learned the meaning of Pyrrhic Victory tout de suite. Now for the comics:

Animal Immigration
Truth In Advertising
True Epitaph
Going Down
Dead Man Walking
Off Broadway
Massachusetts Bound
The Fixer
Time To Storm GitMo
Lieberman-Chaffe '08
Battery Acid
Straight Jackin'
Right To Privacy
Strange Fruit
USA #1

And my favorite for today: Declaration Of Independence

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 7:45 AM :: (0) minds freed

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

High Crimes And Misdomeanors

History doesn't repeat itself, but it certainly has a knack for rhyming...

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed -- that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these peoples; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of King George is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Happy Dependence Day.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:52 AM :: (0) minds freed

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