Are you smarter than a naturalized citizen?

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In order for a legal immigrant to become a citizen of the US they have to pass a test. To pass the test they have score a 60% (6 out of 10 from a pool of 100 questions). The questions are related to American History and American Government and are basic.

In the video a crew goes out to the streets of Miami and asks natural-born Americans (mostly young Americans) some of the same questions that appear on the naturalization test. The last frame in the video reports the results.

What is perhaps more appalling is that in similar street testing people who could not tell you who the VP was did know the lyrics to the song “Frozen.”

One has to wonder how long a free people can remain free if they have little knowledge of what made them free in the first place?

 

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day_Ideas Matter

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Crossover from History blog

History and Hobby

Yesterday Holocaust Remembrance Day began and it ends tonight. This link will take to you the history of the day as well as 20 facts associated with the Holocaust. Even a quick read will illustrate the magnitude of what the Holocaust was.

I was reminded of Holocaust Remembrance Day by an article in the New York Times. The article details how the leader (Mahmoud Abbas) of the Palestinian Authority, once a Holocaust denier, is now admitting there was a  Holocaust and 6,000,000 Jews died in it.

Personally, I’m a bit skeptical as to Mr. Abbas’ sincerity and suspect he may be saying things that he knows will resonate with gullible western leaders.

It seems weird that there should even be such a thing as a Holocaust denier. The proof is over whelming.

I was on a mission trip in 2007 in Poland and one day we took a side…

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Blaming God

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There was a tragic car accident in our area  few days ago. It wasn’t all that unusual. These things happen on a regular basis especially in large urban areas.

But, it was on the news probably because it involved a dangerous stretch of road where accidents had occurred before and in this case a young woman died.

The news people went to the scene where they found the young woman’s understandably distraught uncle. The little lead in to speaking with the uncle mentioned the fact the uncle blamed God for the accident and indeed he did.

I can empathize with the uncle’s grief. Having someone precious ripped from you in a tragic car accident has to cut any feeling person to the core. The uncle’s emotional response was understandable just as it was sad.

Volumes have been written by theologians, pastors, lay people and even critics of Christianity about God’s involvement with his creation and accidents and tragedies.

An atheist of course doesn’t believe God is involved at all because an atheist by definition does not believe in God’s existence. An agnostic like I used to be would simply shrug their shoulders and say something like “who knows?”

Deists would believe that God created it all but then stepped back and just let the creation go unattended.

People claiming Christianity in one its myriad forms would all have a different opinion as to how much or how little God was involved in something so common as a car accident.

I do not know the uncle who lost his niece. The one minute he had to speak on the news was not long enough to learn anything about him or what else he may have thought about God. I do know that given his blame God comment he knew enough that God was at least a secondary cause of the tragedy. The primary cause could have been any number of things like going too fast for conditions, texting while driving, a dangerous road or whatever.

Whatever the primary cause of the accident was the uncle recognized that God could have prevented the accident. The uncle appeared to be bitter that he did not. He mentioned something along the lines of his niece not deserving her fate.

The episode filled me with sadness. It is tragic that a young life was sniffed out. I can empathize with the uncle’s pain. What is equally tragic in my opinion was the uncle’s interpretation of the event and his resulting bitterness.

I have no idea what his faith background was or is or even if he has a pastor or priest. I just know that his interpretation of the event does not line up with what Scripture teaches about God, man, sin or death.

The Scripture that came to my mind as I  pondered the news story was this one:

When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38 ESV)

Jesus felt compassion for the people because they were like sheep with a shepherd. They had religion but they did not have truth. The people’s religious leaders had much wrong about God, about man, about sin, about death and most of all wrong about how God would make things right. Jesus’ compassion for the people  leads him to say that many of the people can be brought to the truth, but not many “harvesters”are available. He adds that his disciples should pray for more laborers.

My prayer is Lord of the harvest might minister to a bitter uncle’s heart and open the eyes of his heart to the truth of Scripture. God does care. It is why he sent his Son to die in our place.

Jn. 14:6

 

 

 

 

Social Commentary Links 1

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I’m trying something a little different on this blog so here are  some links to various social and political issues that caught my eye along with a few comments of my own.

1. Ever wonder why Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid can get away saying the most outrageous things and not take a hit to his obvious lack of integrity. Historian Victor Davis Hanson explains why Reid is the new Joe McCarthy and then some.

Joe McCarthy was a Republican senator from Wisconsin in the 1950s. He often made claims he could not prove and he berated people. He was heavily criticized by the media notably Edward Murrow. Harry Reid is a Democrat and is more over-the-top than McCarthy ever was. And what is heard from the media? Crickets.

2. Back in 1989 a gang of thugs raped and beat a young woman in New York’s Central Park and left her for dead. I remember the incident well as it was national headlines for quite some time. The gang became notorious for the use of the word “wilding” a word that basically meant going on a rampage which in this case meant rape and attempted murder. Here Anne Coulter explains how a liberal judge gave these thugs a pass and let them out early (very early). Apparently, there are barbarians on both sides of the law. They were known as the Central Park Five “Wolfpack.”

Ken Burns did a documentary on the case. The picture is from that documentary.

Ken Burns did a documentary on the case. The picture is from that documentary.

3. This link is a classic via Al Molher’s Briefing and a link to the liberal Slate ezine. The title of the article is Southern Baptists held a held a conference on sexuality. Every speaker was straight. My church is Southern Baptist but this kind of slamming goes on against any church that sticks to its values and beliefs. The author of this thoroughly stupid article is amazed that the Southern Baptists have not got on the LGBTQ bandwagon. He chastises the SBC for “repressive theology” and not wanting to hear from those who may be SBC and LGBTQ. Here’s what amazes me. If you don’t like your faith group, denomination, church, religion, whatever, then leave. There are plenty of groups around willing to tolerate just about anything. Find one that tickles your ears or your fancy. Quit trying to reform something you know nothing about and for Pete’s sake stop your infernal whining about repressive theology because frankly your progressive theology is repressive to those who do not share your agenda.

There are plenty of churches that will tolerate just about anything. Find one instead of trying to change those that disagree with your agenda.

There are plenty of churches that will tolerate just about anything. Find one instead of trying to change those that disagree with your agenda.

4. And as long as I’m on the subject of LGBTQ here’s a link to Al Mohler.com where Al thoroughly debunks Matthew Vine’s tortured Scripture twisting in God and the Gay Christian. It will be interesting to see how many churches that call themselves evangelical will cave to the nonsense Vines put forth in his book. Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares comes to mind.

5. And because we all need a good laugh here’s one via Drudge and Jalopnik. It’s a naked guy (not obscene) doing Kung Fu from his Telsa. The article says that the incident took place along the Pacific Coast Highway. I wouldn’t think that kind of behavior is all that abnormal there.

A naked man doing Kung Fu should not interfere with this awesome view.

A naked man doing Kung Fu should not interfere with this awesome view.

Thou Shalt Not Judge

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I passed a billboard the other day that featured an attractive African-American couple that at first glance one would assume they were married. But, the bill board read, “my brother should not be judged for who he loves.”

The bill board was an obvious attempt to influence other African-Americans to be more accepting of gay marriage. African-Americans oppose gay marriage in over whelming numbers although some studies show that number declining in the wake of Obama’s flip-flop on the issue. (He was against gay marriage to get elected knowing full well that most blacks opposed it. Now he is for it.)

The bill boards appear in mostly black neighborhoods, although this one was not, but it was a short distance from a mosque and I don’t think that was an accident.

The bill boards are paid for by a campaign called Acceptance Journeys and  endorsed by the Wisconsin Board of Regents in the UW system. The message on the board is the brainchild of Shawnika Hull, an assistant professor of journalism and communications at UW Madison.

The choice of language was deliberate, subtle and skillful.  Acceptance Journeys was designed to mimic the religious language of “faith journeys” just as the “do not judge” message has religious overtones to anyone vaguely familiar with Matthew 7 (usually horribly taken out of context).

The message is not really all that subtle for anyone withe eyes to see. All it does is substitute one morality for another, a politically correct morality for what God thinks.

Yep

Yep

To give it a more Old Testament feel I reworded the commandment to read, “thou shalt not judge thy brother for being gay , because if you do you are homophobic.”

I do not remember who it was but someone once said, “every law is someone’s morality.”  This is true. The only question is who gets to make the law.

I’d like to see another bill board next to the one I just mentioned.

This bill board would feature an attractive African-American couple who would be married. The billboard would read, “thou shalt not judge us for believing that marriage is between one man and one woman and if you do judge us you are Christianphobic.” (I think I just coined Christianphobic.)

But the part that really irritates me is that the university system in Wisconsin gets to use my tax money to promote not only a politically correct moral agenda and does it in a religious fashion.  I guess the new temples of worship and the only accepted ones are found on UW campuses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Resurrection is Personal

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My dad’s health was failing but I admit I was taken by surprise the day he died.

In the weeks prior to his death we had made plans to visit our condo on a lake. Dad had indicated he wanted to be there on opening day (fishing) and spend a weekend with me and my son.

But about ten days before our trip he was admitted to a hospital. He had an emergency surgery and the doctors said he should be fine after a few days recovery. The recovery took a few more days than expected and dad developed a bladder problem.

On a Monday afternoon he called me and said he was having a bad time of it. After my appointments were over I went to the hospital to see how he was doing.

Johannes 11 Gelooft u dit

I found him in a great deal of pain. For some reason he could not urinate. Finally, the nurses received doctor’s approval and they did a catheter. Dad’s relief was instantly noticeable although he had been exhausted by the ordeal.

It had taken my parents quite some time to accept my conversion to evangelical Christianity from a nominal Catholicism. My parents seemed to take some of that personally as if they had failed in some way. In their defense I was a jerk about it from time to time as I began to realize there is a difference in what each type church teaches about the gospel.

Over the years things got better and we were able to have rational discussions regarding the nature of the gospel. This was especially true after I had entered the ministry and gone to Bible school.

Eventually, I came to believe that my parents accepted that salvation is of the Lord and that it is a gift and that it is received by grace through faith {in Christ] and not of one’s own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

But having said that neither of them wished to leave the Catholic Church which always left me wondering if they truly understood the gospel and how a proper understanding of it shattered various Catholic traditions.

It meant that when I had opportunity I would try to speak to them again about the nature of the gospel.

In my mom’s case I had the opportunity to speak to her on her death bed. She could not speak but could squeeze my hand. I asked her if she was ready to be with the Jesus and if she trusted in him alone for her salvation and she squeezed by hand once for yes. A few days later she lost even that ability and died shortly there after.

I remember mom telling me once that “Martin Luther was right.” Quite a remarkable statement from a woman raised in Polish-German Catholic tradition.

After my father had gained relief from the catheter I stuck around for a while to make sure he was okay. We made a couple of jokes, talked about our plans and I told him I’d be back the following the day before my appointments to see how he was.

I noticed his small Catholic Bible on his hospital night stand and asked him if I could read a little Scripture to him. For whatever reason I felt compelled to go to John 11 and the story of Lazarus rising from the dead. I told dad that John 11 was one  of my favorite passages. I paused after reading John 11:25-27:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:25-27 ESV)

I had no reason to think dad was going to die that night but felt compelled to ask him one more time if he believed the statements.

Having been down this road before with many a father-son talk under our belts my dad said to me with his impatient voice, “of course I believe that” as if to say how many times do I have to tell you.

Frankly, I just had to smile and as I did he softened realizing that I was asking because I loved him. I left him promising to see him  the next day and it was about 11:00 p.m. when I left.

At about 1:30 a.m. the hospital called and told me dad was in trouble and what was his directive for trying to save him. The call woke me up and at first I thought I was dreaming. Then I  thought it odd that they were asking me what to do since dad had filled out a prime directive. His wishes were that if he would recover then try to save him and that’s what I repeated. They told me to come to the hospital right away.

Some how I knew by the nurse’s voice that dad was already gone although I wanted to believe in that little sliver of hope that the had been able to save him.

When I arrived I was greeted by a nurse in tears who told me they could not save dad. I was struck by the fact she was in tears. It told me dad was a good patient and those that cared for him really cared for him.

Apparently he had to go to the bathroom again and they left him on a commode. When they returned he was already gone having suffered an embolism. Personally, I doubt they had tried to being him back but I also think they followed dad’s wishes. I could not hold back my tears and did not try. To this day I miss him deeply.

The nature of the gospel is not elastic. Jesus made it clear there is only one way and salvation is through Him alone (Jn. 14:6). I consider it to be huge blessing that I was able to spend time with both my parents shortly before they entered eternity.

Today is Easter Sunday and because Christ rose all those who have placed their faith in Him and in him alone well rise also and that is what makes Easter happy.

 

 

 

Statue of the Emperor Octavian Augustus

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I like this blog on the ancient world. This one I found particularly interesting because she discusses the cult of emperor worship that began with Augustus and continued for quite some time. It reminded me of the hero worship that Obama generates. Some have gone so far as to call him messiah.

Major Archaeological Discovery!

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One of my interests is archaeology and the Dutch archaeologist whose blog this is an interesting one as well as good historian. I find his comments here very interesting. Personally, I do not believe the Bible needs scaffolding, but it is nice when a find confirms something in Scripture. Whether or not this stone does is debatable.

The medium is the message_ and the movie Noah

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Along time ago in a High School class that I no longer remember the name of I heard the phrase, “the medium is the message.”  The phrase has stuck with me for over 40 years probably because of my interest in communications and how various forms of communications can influence public opinion or perceptions.

I lifted this illustration from a wiki article to explain what that can mean:

–Likewise, the message of a newscast about a heinous crime may be less about the individual news story itself — the content — and more about the change in public attitude towards crime that the newscast engenders by the fact that such crimes are in effect being brought into the home to watch over dinner. —(Wiki source for quote)

The phrase “the medium is the message” was coined by a fellow named Marshall McLuhan and he wrote a book by the same title, a book, as I recall we had to read for that High School class. A more formal definition of what McLuhan meant by that odd phrase might be:

“The form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is received.” (wiki link)

LOL

LOL

I no longer remember what illustrations McLuhan may have provided in his book but he could have used Leni Riefenstahl’s movie\documentary titled Triumph of the Will.

Triumph of the Will became a triumph of propaganda for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis but it did so because the medium of the cinema was masterly crafted by Rienfenstahl to rouse the German people to patriotism and to thoroughly embed the idea that the Nazis would lead Germany into a new age of European dominance (what would become the Third Reich). The film is a classic not for its resulting message (how the form of cinema functioned) but for how well crafted it was.

Period poster advertising Triumph of the Will in German. The film's imagery portrayed massive parades, heavy symbolism, military uniforms and rousing speeches from the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.

Period poster advertising Triumph of the Will in German. The film’s imagery portrayed massive parades, heavy symbolism, military uniforms and rousing speeches from the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.

The point is the way a medium functions is more important than it’s form (movie, radio, newsprint, etc.) because it can manipulate the message and thus steer people one way or the other.

Another example of the medium is the message might be Darren Aronofsky’s new film, Noah, starring Russell Crowe.

Aronsky by his own words is not a not particularly religious Jew who has claimed that the film is basically true to the account of Noah as found in Genesis. But as many have pointed out that is not really true given the distortion of the message by the medium. (Best review of the movie found here, by Al Mohler from Southern Seminary)

I have not yet decided whether I will watch the movie. I certainly will not pay for a movie ticket but I may rent it down the road simply out of curiosity and because I like Russell Crowe’s acting. Besides, it may result in more grist for my blog!

What I would expect to find is a story told through the considerable talents of Aronsky as a director. The story may even be entertaining and I confess I am looking forward to seeing the rock monsters masquerading as Nephilim as well as the special effects used to create a really big flood. What I would not expect to see or hear is an accurate message from the Word of God. Frankly, I’d be on the look out for any inaccurate message from a movie that is supposed to be biblical. In the interest of full disclosure I’d watch Roma Downey’s series, The Bible, with a similar critical eye but expect less distortion.

Evangelical critics have pointed out that the basic message of the film is that Noah is a vegan eco-nut in the movie and that God destroys the people of the earth because they are destroying the earth. I would consider myself a conservationist and certainly am not for the careless exploitation of the earth but I am also aware that God gave Adam (and mankind) dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26).

Dominion means the subjection and management of earth’s resources for the benefit of the ones having dominion. We can argue all day about what that looks like but the bottom line is that God intended that man manage his earth and that as originally intended that management would be done in a responsible manner.

The reason it has not always been done in a responsible manner is because of the fall (Gen. 3:1-19) and by the time of Noah all that mankind did was evil all the time (Gen. 6:5). God destroys man except for Noah’s family (a total of 8) not  because of one evil (misuse of the earth) but for all evil and all types of human depravity that resulted from the fall. When man fell he did not just stumble, he fell hard and every part of man’s soul has been corrupted by the fall.

Genesis 3:15, called the proto-evangel teaches that God would provide a solution to man’s essential problem (sin, evil) and the story of Noah serves as part of the larger narrative that would eventually point to Jesus.

What Aronsky and his helpers have done is provide an interpretation of Genesis that they claim is faithful to the text. It clearly is not.

To be sure part of the motive is to make money and be entertaining but the other part may very well be a progressive agenda that is against fracking, big oil, whatever that means, nuclear energy, and for windmills and solar even though those resources are not reliable nor can they generate the power needed. One would think that the eco-nuts won’t be happy until we’re all living in the times of Noah as portrayed in the movie by being “one with the earth” rather than having reasonable dominion over it. I’ve heard that kind of propaganda all the way back to my High School days and the very first Earth Day which as I recall was May 1st, 1970.

So, the medium is the message and Noah is probably a well-crafted movie that promotes a particular message, a message designed to influence people and as such is a piece of propaganda. It’s also creative license that results in a horrible  interpretation of the Genesis story and as a result misses the main point of the story.

In that, we should not be surprised because there is no way Aronsky has ever had a course in biblical hermeneutics where by the student is taught to do his best to get the biblical message right.

If you chose to watch the movie understand that the medium is the message and in this case a horrible interpretation of what is taught in the story of Noah.

Drowning in Distortion_Al Mohler’s Review

I’m a Christian and I think “Noah” deserves a four star review (By a fellow named Matt Walsh and utterly hilarious)

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