Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, April 28: Break Time

The weapons inquiry will continue in due course, but I'm indulging myself in a break today. My physics class met earlier this evening for the last time before next week's final exam, and I've once again groped my way across the front of the darkened lecture room, trying to convince the students that yes, they really did see the first two bright rings in the Airy diffraction pattern as the laser illuminates the pinhole on the demonstration table, and I once again did not trip, fall, and break my neck. So, as I say, I feel like taking a break. I shall do so with the first 22 verses of 1st Peter:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: may grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things into which angels long to look.

Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon the earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
It seems to me that, having spent the years since my late 20s in the evangelical Protestant church, I've heard a lot of sermons and Sunday-school lessons that encourage me to think patronizingly of Peter as a kind of blustery, simple-minded hothead, who could usually be relied on to overpromise, underperform, and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Well. No doubt, Peter the natural man was a sinner, and fell far short of perfection -- as who does not? But just read his epistles: Peter and the Holy Spirit make a very impressive team.

Consider the passage above. The opening sentence gives a vivid look at the entire Trinity at work -- with both a greeting and a blessing besides. The second paragraph opens with a fairly complete gospel in a single sentence, and it's not even one of those marathon sentences, either. And the third paragraph: packed with sound and practical direction for believers.

Yes, I think we modern folk would be well-advised to stop patronizing our betters, and instead sit down at their feet to listen and learn.

Okay, next week, we're back on weapons detail. Meanwhile, click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The O'Bomber says it's highly unAmerican for cops in Arizona to be asking people who look to be Mexican if they're in Arizona legally or not:
In Arizona, a legislative attempt to crack down on undocumented immigrations has spurred protests and counter-protests, with the governor there weighing a bill that allows authorities to check the documents of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigration.

"Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others," Obama said. "And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."

The president said he had instructed his administration "to closely monitor the situation'' in Arizona and "examine the civil rights and other implications" of the Arizona legislation. It points to the need for federal legislation, the president said.

"But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country," Obama said.
Never mind the stunning Federalista arrogance of Prez Twit's statement. What strikes me is: we're supposed to believe that the guy who puts an American citizen on his we-don't-need-no-stinking-trial assassination list is all scandalized about the possibility of a little profiling in Arizona? Or could it be that he's just wanting to be sure to take every opportunity to ingratiate himself with his base? Including, of course, that part of his base which might be characterized by a little dorsal dampness.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Michael Steele: Correct, but Incomplete

The current capo of the Republican crime family says that black people haven't got reason enough to vote for the GOP:
The Republican Party has not given African Americans a good reason to vote for the party, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said Tuesday night.

"You really don't have a reason to, to be honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True," Steele said at DePaul University, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
He's right -- there's no good reason for black people to vote Republican. Very true. But he stopped far short of completeness. He really should have mentioned that there's also no reason for white people to vote Republican. Also left unreported was the fact that there's no reason for people of whatever color to vote Democratic; nor is there sufficient reason for anyone to vote big-L Libertarian.

Indeed, there's no good reason for anyone to vote at all -- and there's quite a good reason not to. Voting implies your consent to the outcome. Voting, by large numbers of people, lends a spurious patina of legitimacy to the clownish gangsters who infest public office. Just say "no" this May, and thereafter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, April 21

I'm finding that, after one leaves the gospels, direct and explicit counsel regarding weapons is pretty scarce. This leads to long stretches of looking (and not writing blog posts!), followed by jumping on something that isn't so direct. In Hebrews chapter 12, I'm ready to jump. The first three verses:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that it set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
"Lay aside every encumbrance ..." When I read that this time, I was thinking of numerous passages on which I have written posts. Passages that recommended to believers humility, gentleness, and the turning of the other cheek. More than once, I wrote that, while it is possible to be humble, meek, forgiving, and willing to endure wrongs while armed, it certainly seems more difficult to do so. Weapons, it seems to me, would have to be classed as "encumbrances" in the emulation of Jesus. So I think the author of Hebrews is telling us to lay such aside.

And then, a single verse from the same chapter, verse 14:
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
And I'm back at my old lemonade stand, doing my old business: yes, an armed man can, in principle, pursue peace with others. There's no reason why he absolutely can't. But does the weapon make it easier to do so? Or is it an encumbrance, which ought to have been laid aside?

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Change the Subject

(Via IOZ.)

Tired of everyone criticizing your uniformed heroes for murdering journalists and other civilians from helicopters? Give 'em something else to talk about:
KABUL, Afghanistan — American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar on Monday morning, killing as many as five civilians and wounding 18 and sparking anger in a city where winning over Afghan support is considered pivotal to the war effort.

The American-led military command in Kabul called the killings a “tragic loss of life” and said troops fired not knowing the vehicle was a bus and believing that it posed a threat to a military convoy clearing roadside bombs from a highway.

The killings triggered a vitriolic anti-American demonstration, infuriated officials and appeared likely to harm public opinion on the eve of the most important offensive of the war, in which tens of thousands of American and NATO troops will try to take control of the Kandahar region, the spiritual home of the Taliban, this summer.

Hundreds of demonstrators poured into the area around a station where the damaged bus was taken on the western outskirts of Kandahar. They blocked the road with burning tires for an hour and shouted “Death to America” and “Death to infidels” while also condemning the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, according to people in the area.

[ ... ]

A military spokeswoman confirmed that a military convoy traveling westward, in front of the bus, had opened fire, but said the second convoy was traveling eastward towards the passenger bus. She also said the driver of the passenger bus was killed.

However, a survivor identified himself as the driver said the bus and said he did not violate any signal from the troops.

“I was going to take the bus off the road,” said the man, Mohammed Nabi. Then the convoy ahead opened fire from a distance of 60 to 70 yards.

“It is a huge bus full of passengers, and if they think we were a suicide bomber, we are sad that the Americans have killed innocent people,” he said. “We don’t feel safe while traveling on the main highways anymore because of NATO convoys.”

The American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has sought to emphasize to troops how escalation of force incidents undermine Afghan support for the war. But he has also stressed that he sympathizes with troops who have to make critical decisions in an instant and is not criticizing them.

“We really ask a lot of our young service people out on checkpoints because there’s danger, they’re asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations,” General McChrystal told troops during a video conference last month.

“However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”
Well, this time there's no WikiLeaked video in which we can see and hear The Troops yukking it up while slaughtering bus passengers, so maybe that didn't happen ... maybe. Let us suppose that these particular Troops are indeed innocent of murderous intent, and were indeed being asked for McChrystal's "a lot." Even so, there's a simple solution: quit "asking a lot," and get out of Afghanistan, like this afternoon, maybe. We're always told how smart Pres. Hopey Changey is ... can so simple a notion have escaped his steel-trap mind?

Mind you, I do not suggest that our gloriously multicultural Dear Leader is a dimbulb. Rather, I suggest that he's your basic moral monstrosity. Just like his predecessor. And -- barring miracles -- just like his successor.

Friday, April 09, 2010

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Have you seen the WikiLeaks video? Nothing so remarkable about it -- just another crew of "our guys" straight-up murdering another dozen or so towelheads. As Mr. Greenwald points out, it's very much business as usual in this phase of the Empire.

Well, we've all heard warnings about "blowback." When we get all nine-elevended again, we might want to consider the sort of dragons' teeth we've been sowing. There's another sort of blowback, though, that you might not have been thinking about so much. When our murderous heroes get home, lots of them find employment as ... cops.

Sweet dreams, Mr. and Mrs. America.

Addedendum: after posting this, I saw what my much-more-productive and much-more-perceptive fellow blogger akaGaGa posted. As usual, she's got it struck squarely on the head.

The Word for Friday, April 9

No point in missing the entire month of April, as I always say. Post something!

All right, I will.

In the on-again, off-again "weapons and the believer" series: Ephesians 6:10-20.
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
This is, of course, a very familiar passage; have we not all heard more than a few sermons, and gone through more than a few Sunday-school lessons, on the metaphorical import of the military kit of the Roman soldier? I hasten to note that this, like many of the passages on which I've already commented here, certainly is not an instruction to the Christian to procure and keep weapons in the physical sense; neither does it forbid him from doing so. Such physical weapons are entirely beside the apostle's point, as he says himself: " ... our struggle is not against flesh and blood ...". From looking at the imperative-mood verbs in this passage, I think we can see that some actions, one most particularly, are being commended: be strong, put on, take up, stand firm, take up, take, pray, be on the alert, and pray. My guns don't prevent me from doing what I'm told here; but they are certainly irrelevant to the purpose.

Click here for actual Words for Wednesday.