Sunday, October 13, 2019

Radical Question #5: What is the Speed of Darkness?

Radical Question #5: What is the Speed of Darkness?

Answer: It has None.

In three arenas, this reality is clear to see.

1.      Physical: In the beginning, God spoke light into the darkness of the abyss, and the abyss retreated. Light has atomic weight, and darkness has none. Thus, darkness is immediately eviscerated by the presence of light.

2.      Ethical: When people live in the light of God’s presence, and in loving relationships with one another, they are free. When people live in the darkness of avoiding God, and one another, they are slaves, always looking over their shoulders in fear as they flee the light.

3.      Spiritual: Jesus is the Light of the world, and Satan is the prince of darkness; and believers in Jesus are also called to be the light of the world and displace the pretense of Satan. As we live in the light, Satan’s presence is eviscerated.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Radical Question #4: Why is the Political Language of Racism Used So Widely?

Radical Question #4: Why is the Political Language of Racism Used So Widely Today?

Answer: Because of the Nature and Failure of LBJ's Great Society.

Further questions may be posed to explain this answer.

Why did the Democratic Party vote against the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution? They were passed, respectively, in 1865, 1868 and 1870, thus 1) abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, 2) affirming unalienable rights for all people equally, and 3) affirming the right to vote regardless of prior condition of servitude.

Why did the racist  Ku Klux Klan (KKK; founded in 1865) arise within, and remain the sole property of the Democratic Party?

Why did the racist Jim Crow laws (1877ff) arise within, and remain the sole property of the Democratic Party?

Why did the racist Segregationist Laws (post Civil War on following) arise within, and remain the sole property of the Democratic Party?

Why did the 1964 Civil Rights Act not pass without Republican votes in a majority Democratic U.S. Congress?

Why did Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) become furious in 1968 with how the Democratic Party's Anti-Poverty program was decimating the Black Family. Fatherless was exploding to some 74 percent today, and poverty has only deepened.

Why did Barack Obama get elected in 2008 as the first Black President in U.S. history and in also gaining a large White vote? 

Further Answer: The Democratic Party, with a troubled racist heritage, and in political desperation, increasingly resorts to using the "racist" epithet against Republicans and any others who oppose them, regardless of what the facts may show.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Radical Question #3: What is the Simplest and Truest Statement on Politics Ever?

Radical Question #3: What is the Simplest and Truest Statement on Politics Ever?

Answer: Genesis 1:1.

The Hebrew text is this: bereshith bara elohim eth ha'shamayim w'eth ha'eretz.

The English: "In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth."

Most simply, and as the Genesis text introduces biblical reality, this means that the one true Creator governs the heavens, and man and woman are given to govern the earth under the heavens.

And if we desire honest and true politics, we as image-bearers of God need to imitate the politics of the heavens.

This most simply means religious, political and economic liberty for all people equally.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Radical Question #2: In all Human History, what is the Only Written Idea that is Greater than Space, Time and Number?

Radical Question #2: In all Human History, what is the Only Written Idea that is Greater than Space, Time and Number?

Answer: The Name of Yahweh Elohim.

It is not found in any polytheistic religion. In all such religions, beginning with the Babylonian genesis, the gods and goddess are finite and petty.

It is not found in any of the ancient animisms, where the spirits are finite and unknowable.

It is not found in atheism or any secular construct. Here, nothing prior to or greater than the expanding cosmos is contemplated.

It is not found in Islam, where Allah is limited by the human concept of number.

Is there anyone in human history who can a) imagine space, time and number ending, or b) not ending?  In the former, we always ask, what is beyond or greater? In the latter, we cannot grasp it from our limited natures.

In the Hebrew Bible, the Name of Yahweh Elohim means the One is who is greater than space, time and number, as the grammar shows. The only written concept of such in human history.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Radical Question #1: What is the largest problem with the American presence in Afghanistan?

[In this new series of blog posts, my purpose is to pose simple radical questions and submit some simple radical answers for consideration and debate. The word "radical" (from the Greek radix and the Latin radicalis) means "root level." I will address a range of questions within the realms of theology 101 and politics 101.]

Radical Question #1: What is the largest problem with the American presence in Afghanistan?

Answer: Afghanistan allows for no religious liberty.

First, when the United States set to track down Osama bin Laden after September 11, 2001, it should have simply sent in the Navy Seals to take him out, on national security grounds, and with no folly of consultation with a corrupt Afghanistan government. We were defending ourselves against a violent jihad that seeks to destroy our religious, political and economic liberty. 

Second, the United States should have simply built an advance military fortress in a strategic place in Afghanistan, with the ability from there to strike any terrorist activity discernible. 

Third, this would have precluded the folly of these eighteen years of trying to build a nation that cannot be built, and it would have saved countless lives and trillions of dollars. 

Fourth, the United States is rooted in religious liberty and Afghanistan forbids it. Nation building there cannot work.

Fifth, it is a cardinal folly for the United States to seek to arbitrate between different interpretations of Islam. This is not our role as a nation founded on religious liberty.

Sixth, the United States should withdraw all its armed forces and support staff from Afghanistan - except for a strategic fortress and air base for counter-terrorism purposes alone - and leave the competing interpretations of Islam to settle their own matters.

Seventh, only if the Afghanistan government were to allow and protect full religious liberty for all people equally, could there be any negotiation to change these terms, and only then can war be truly justified by the Afghanistan government against the Taliban.

And eighth, the United States is free - in its strategic fortress and airbase - to build an adjoining fortress and city for Afghanistan refugees et al. who want religious, political and economic liberty.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Assisted Suicide Case in CT: I had Counseled the Couple in Their Prior Pain

I was shocked this morning with a call from a friend about the assisted suicide case on very public trial here in Connecticut. A woman had her husband hold a gun to her head while she pulled the trigger. I have known her family for over twenty-five years.

She called me nearly two years ago in very deep spiritual and psychological pain, having suffered for decades. She asked for counsel, and I visited with she and her husband three times, including once with a friend praying for her and their deliverance. She was emaciated, we did not see the breakthrough in the heavens we hoped for, but we did see tangible hope received in the midst of great confusion and confession of sin.

We had thought she had died of cancer (which was not in view when we visited with her). Only today to learn of the terrible reality.

On the afternoon show on WTIC radio (the 50,000-watt super station here in CT), the topic in all its legal and personal dimensions was central. I tuned into the station after finishing some writing, not knowing the topic, and then called in.

I addressed the reality of the deep pain I knew was in view, and the talk show host is a professing agnostic and/or atheist. He asked me about "religious judgment" on the matter of suicide that another caller had raised, and I spoke of how the apostle James sums up the whole Tanakh and New Testament in addressing the law that gives freedom, to love our our neighbors as ourselves, and as summed up in the "mercy that triumphs over judgment."

His response was that this idea is "beautiful," asked me to repeat it, and a subsequent caller who had seen his wife suffer for years, also said how this ministered to him.

The poison of political idolatry is always judgmental and dehumanizing. How do we bring the Good News into such a world? In Luke 6, when Jesus speaks of the love of enemies (literally from the Greek exthros, "those who hate"), he then says that God "is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." This poignantly describes Cain as the biblical prototype for ungratefulness that turns into wickedness, as he mocks God and kills his brother. And what we are dealing with here is nowhere near Cain's evil; but it is the evil of the "enemy," as exthros is used also to refer to the devil by Jesus. Satan poured his evil upon two deeply broken people who needed the Savior. God is still kind in always reaching out to a broken humanity. Food for thought and prayer.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Predicament of Being Male: The Ancient Serpent's Original Anger, the Curse, Cain and his Lineage: A Remarkable Observatoin in the Hebrew Text

In the biblical text, the ancient serpent first appears with an angry agenda against the woman, this anger transfers to the man, then to Cain and then to his lineage. The consequences are devastating, and for which we all need the Savior.

1] At the beginning of the second sentence of Genesis 3:1, every one of the 26 English translations I have seen -- Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant -- says something like this: "He said to the woman ..." But in the Hebrew, there is one word which never gets translated right after this, ap (or aph), which is a homonym -- either a particle conjunction as an emotional intensifier ("And the serpent said to the woma, Indeed! ..."). But this translation is never made. Or it is a noun from the verb anap (or anaph), "to be angry." Thus, the translation would be "And the serpent said to the woman (in) anger," or "... angrily."

Hebrew has only 900 root words, and context is crucial in translation. In nine clauses in the Tanakh (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Joel 2:3; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3; Psalms 86:15; 103:8 and 145:8), we read in English translation that Yahweh is "slow to anger." The actual Hebrew is that Yahweh "has a long nose." The primary meaning of anap is "nose." The beards of ancient Hebrew men were thick, dark and high cheeked. When a Hebrew man becomes flush or hot with anger, it is not seen first on the cheeks, but on the nose. Thus, in the development of language, the word for "anger" in Hebrew becomes synonymous with "nose," again, as context indicates. In these nine clauses in the Tanakh, metaphor and idiom collide, namely, that Yahweh is so slow to anger, that it is like having a long nose where it takes much time for his anger to reach the tip and become evident. A "long nose" does not work as metaphor or idiom in modern English, for it can become confused with the story of Pinocchio as a liar; likewise with "nosey" as it refers to a gossiper; and a "long fuse" does not work in a pre-dynamite era. So "slow to anger" works well in terms of meaning, but not metaphor or idiom. It is two-dimensional not three-dimensional.

In Genesis 3:1, a proper translation would be, "And the serpent said to the woman (in) anger ..." Translating a noun in this syntax requires the (in), or some might translate it as an adverb, “angrily.” Grammar between different languages does not line up in many ways. Why then do translations ignore this word? Why such a yawning lacuna? The answer lies in the identity of the serpent. Is it some undefined earthly creature, as in Jewish understanding? Or is it as John says in Revelation 12:9? The text refers to "... that ancient serpent, the one called the devil, or the Satan." For Jewish scholars, they see no linguistic link between the few references to ha'satan (the Satan, the slanderer) in the Tanakh, and ha'nahash (the serpent). And for Christians scholars, the arguments I have read for the serpent being Satan derive from New Testament sources, and not from within the original Hebrew text. I believe the apostle John, and the whole New Testament, understand all Messianic fulfillments to be rooted in an original understanding of the Hebrew Bible as given. Indeed, in Revelation 12:12, the original fall of Satan is profiled, as he is driven from the heavens to the earth, and he is full of "wrath" for he knows is "appointed time" is short. His expulsion is before the creation of man and woman, and the appointed time is until the final judgement on the devil. All filled with uncontrollable anger.

2] In either case, the presence of an angry serpent means there is an agenda, a history in place, one that occasions an angry approach. What is it? Genesis 1-2 starts off with a positive theology (God's nature) and a positive anthropology (human nature), but there is no formal demonology. The reason for this is that Satan's fallen ontology means there is nothing positive in him, and thus he is entirely negative -- the destroyer, slanderer, liar and murderer. So he cannot, by definition, be positively identified -- but only via his negative self-manifestations. And this proves true across the Bible as Satan works through political proxies in particular to seek to destroy the Messianic lineage, the Messiah, Jesus, and now, after the resurrection, to destroy the believers in the Messiah through whom the Holy Spirit works until King Jesus returns and crushes Satan once and for all. This is large theological territory beyond my purview here, and it is central to Christian interpretation across the millennia. But virtually through the prism of post-Genesis texts.

Genesis 1:1 and 2:1 are dynamically linked in a way that marks a theological whole in the work of creation. In 1:1, we read: "In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 2:1 marks the completion of Genesis 2:1: "And the heavens and the earth were finished in all their armies." Now, few translations say "armies." More common is "host" (an old word for armies or stars), or something silly like the NIV which says, "all their vast array." But in the Hebrew is it simply tz'baam, "armies" or, if you will, "agents of warfare" (from tz'aba for war). Whenever we see in the translation of the Hebrew Bible, as found so often, "the LORD of hosts," or "the LORD Almighty," the actual Hebrew says "Yahweh of armies." This traces back to Genesis 2:1. But if all is good in Genesis 1, what are "armies" doing there at its completion? What or whom is there to protect against or fight against? Of holy angels and fallen angels? Simply, the fall of Satan (always angry, whether implicitly or explicitly), with his demonic horde, as described later in both the Tanakh and New Testament, occurs after the creation begins but before its completion. This too, is large theological territory beyond our present scope, but needs mention to help us understand why the ancient serpent, Satan incarnate, is angry in Genesis 3:1.

In his anger -- with man and woman as one in marriage, with their joint authority over all creation, and to whom the holy angels are servants -- the devil only seeks to destroy their unity and trust in marriage, that through which civilization is to be built. He mocks their authority in masquerading as a serpent, and craftily channels his anger to get Hayyeh (rendered "Eve" in English translations) to act independently of Yahweh and Adam, and for Adam to act independently of Hayyeh and Yahweh. When Yahweh comes to judge, Adam blames Hayyeh and away we go ...

3] In Genesis 3, the serpent is cursed, with no exit, and a war is prophesied between the seed of the serpent (those whom he kidnaps, the anti-Messianic lineage) and the seed of the woman (the Messianic lineage), where in the end the Messiah triumphs. War is the ugliest manifestation of anger. The curse that the woman brings upon herself, and likewise for the man upon himself, both take their complementary strengths (thighs and uterus in childbirth, and biceps in plowing and moving boulders), and turn them into weaknesses. Man and woman are wired to honor the image of God, but now they are handicapped. Large territory. But for here, let's look at the first clause in Genesis 3:19, in the midst of the curse on the man. It is usually rendered something like: "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food." The actual Hebrew text is this: "By the sweat of your anger (from anap) you will eat your bread." For the translator not aware of the serpent's anger, and only assuming the curse to be physical in nature, not paying attention to the deeper spiritual realities, "the sweat of your nose" still makes no sense. It is not a runny nose at play, and the nearest physical possibility is the brow or forehead. It is a mismatch based on a faulty premise. There is no other use of anap in the Tanakh for "brow," and the word rendered as "brow" (qadqod) is twice a word meaning "head" or "crown of the head." There is no other proper word for "brow." Which is to say, it is anap used in Genesis 3:19 and not qadqod.

4] For me, the understanding of producing food, making provision for my family, by the "sweat of my anger," proves to be liberating. It is the frustrating reality in the pursuit of the good in a now broken world, and as catalyzed by Satan. All is spiritual warfare, and we ignore this to our peril. This is the curse upon the male in Genesis 3:19, but the anger is not initially a hostility against Yahweh, or against the well-being of others, as it is with the ancient serpent. But it is the "nose inside the camel's tent" (to borrow a latter metaphor with deliberate pun), as the goal of Satan is to turn frustration and sweat into such anger. We wear ourselves out in a sinful world, eventually returning to the dust. For me, a sanguine personality, the ever "tunnel-view optimist" (as my father put it) in a broken world, I know this reality to the very verge of death, finally in terms of a demonic attack in Oxford, March 20, 2018. This, and its prior history, is detailed in my forthcoming book: Meeting Satan Face-to-Face, and Other True Stories: The Testimony of an Ex-Unitarian.

In this world, we see so much male chauvinism. It sexually reifies (to treat as disposable property) girls and women, it hinders the possibility of future healthy marriages, it drives the ethos of the abortion industry, it leads to much otherwise unchosen and de facto disembodied single lifestyles, and too, it serves the broken and ultimately unsatisfying refuges in lesbianism and male homosexuality. It presages Sodom and Gomorrah, where across the whole biblical witness, this is where sexual anarchy morphs into social anarchy and the trampling of the poor and needy.

So, in the face of this reality, how many men, in their frustration and anger in seeking to do the good by their wives and children, fall prey to serious misunderstandings? All by the design of the ancient serpent?

5) This leads us to Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. Both have the same parents, and both have the same "sweat of anger" to labor at in producing their food. Yet both have opposite ends -- one proves to join the anger of the ancient serpent, and one chooses to praise Yahweh with thankfulness. Both are whom they are given to be, yet both become whom they choose to become. In his offering, Cain gives an undesignated portion of his produce, almost in a sense of a grudging acknowledgement of Yahweh's Lordship and provision. But Abel gives from the "birthright" (literal Hebrew) of his produce, ergo, the best of his best, in an evident spirit of thanksgiving. There is also a pun at play. Cain holds the birthright as the first son, yet gives something secondary; Abel is a second son, yet gives the birthright. Giveness and giving back, with human freedom in place.

Yahweh "gazes" upon Abel and his gift, but not so with Cain. So Cain "burns greatly," and his face falls. "And Yahweh said to Cain, 'What burns so deeply in you? And what is it that your face fell? And whether you lift up the good, or if not the good, to the doorway, sin lies in wait and desires you, and you must rule it.' ” The term for "burning greatly" is a deeper and manifest term for an anger that "hotly contends" (harah). Cain still has the power to choose the good, even while sin "lies in wait" to devour him (the language refers to a leopard ready to pounce on its prey, and here we see intimations of Peter's language in 1:5:8 of the devil as a prowling lion). Cain must rule it or perish. But he fails in his freedom. His anger with Yahweh, seeded by the ancient serpent, turns into the murder of his younger brother. Indeed, it can be argued that any uncontrolled anger is first directed against God, in whose image we are made, and then it results in anger against our neighbor, made in God's image, and can result in murder. The rest of the Bible flows on these assumptions about anger, from Cain to Lemech on forward, and can be readily detailed in a larger review.

Thus, in Cain and Abel, we see the reality that the male "sweat of the anger" can lead in one of two directions -- acknowledged frustration that chooses to turn into gratefulness in spite of it, or a chosen uncontrolled anger rooted in the devil that leads to murder. Too, in the Sermon on the Plain, in the context of loving enemies, Jesus says, "And God is "kind to the ungrateful and wicked" (Luke 6:35). I think this is adirect reference to Cain, the original and defining quintessence of ungratefulness thaty leads to wickedness.

5] And this is the crucible upon which true manhood is forged. For those of us who are men, which road do we choose?