Monthly Archives: June 2013

Alternative Bible History

Pastor Matt preached on Abraham today, and said something that got me musing.

If Abraham hadn’t packed up and left for a distant land, everything after that would have been different. God would have found somebody else to become the Father of Many Nations, and Jesus would still have come, but all the surrounding elements might have been very different.

So I started thinking. Is there any reason to think God was committed to that piece of real estate on the east shore of the Mediterranean as his Promised Land–a place which had no prior significance in the Bible?

What if God’s next choice after Abraham was someone in, say, ancient Persia, and he sent him to southern India as the Promised Land? Or he chose a person actually living in what would become Israel, and sent him to Greece or the Ukraine?

And what if Abraham WAS the second (or third) choice, after persons who had decided to stay put instead of stepping out in faith?

Just wondering.

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Celebrity Trash

A guilty pleasure of mine is reading celebrity junk news in “People” and “Us” magazines. But I subscribe to neither. For that, I rely on visits to the doctor, dentist, and hairdresser. So I was severely disappointed this morning when I had a doctor’s appointment, and the waiting room had nothing but medical, travel, and women’s magazines. I may need to change doctors.

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When Editors have had Enough

legalismSuddenly in a grumpy mood, Steve the Editor wants to remind everyone (despite knowing he will once again be ignored):

1. Do NOT type two spaces between sentences. That has never, EVER, been appropriate anywhere except on typewriters with monospaced fonts. So just quit it. Now.

2. An elipsis within a sentence has 3 periods…not 4. Put the fourth at the end of the sentence.

3. Don’t underline text, especially in email or on the web. Underlining indicates a hyperlink, which people can click to go someplace else. On a typewriter, to emphasize something you had two options: underline, and all-caps. But now you have other options: bold, italics, larger font size. If it’s a book title or something else that would be underlined on a typewriter, use italics.

4. Don’t put apostrophe’s in plural’s. I mean, just stop it, okay? You’re embarrassing yourself.

There are plenty of other literary transgressions, children, for which I could castigate you. But I’ll stop here.

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I Could Have Waited to Learn This

Seriously, CNN, does this merit a CNN Alert? Was it important that I learn this RIGHT AWAY?

Paris Jackson, the 15-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson, was rushed to a hospital early this morning, sources close to the Jackson family told CNN. “She’s going to be OK,” said one source, who was at the hospital. The sources said it was unclear why she was hospitalized.

The story is totally vague. We don’t know why she was hospitalized or where. Only that she is “okay,” which is not exactly a technical medical term. And yet, amidst this factlessness, CNN felt it necessary to alert the world lest someone else beat them to the punch.

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Matters of Injustice Should Matter to Christians

guantanamo

One of my great disappointments with President Obama regards the prisoners at Guantanamo. I don’t care that he hasn’t closed Guantanamo. Republicans have blocked him from doing that, killing all alternatives to housing those prisoners. The prison is necessary for now.

But of the 166 persons still imprisoned there, half have been cleared for release. Some have been kept there for 13 years, with no charges brought against them and no prosecution planned. Obama COULD take action to release them–he’s not totally powerless. Yet he does nothing.

It’s a case of American injustice. And injustice always bothers me deeply, especially since the Bible speaks so frequently against injustice.

Over the years, I’ve read many stories of injustice. For some reason they capture my attention, stabbing my soul.

  • The Holocaust–no greater example of injustice, and no end to the stories. I’ve read many books about the Holocaust.
  • The treatment of American Indians in the Old West.
  • The plight of white farmers under the tyranny of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
  • The cruelty of apartheid in South Africa.
  • The three-strikes laws which send persons to life in prison for simple thefts.
  • The internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2.
  • The treatment of blacks in the South between the Civil War and the 1960s.
  • McCarthyism.
  • Media persons with an influential platform who engage in character assassination with little regard for truthfulness or telling the full story–Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and others.
  • A legal system which favors persons with money, and tends to screw over people people on society’s lower rungs.
  • The persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union during the Cold War years. I read a bunch of books about that during the 1970s.

I don’t know why injustice captures my attention so strongly. I can’t claim to have been a victim of injustice, nor have I actually done anything to combat injustice (beyond raising my voice against it and increasing people’s awareness of it). I guess God gives different people different burdens. There are other causes which deserve outrage, but which don’t outrage me…at least not like injustice does.

But back to Guantanamo.

I’ve read numerous stories and reports regarding America’s imprisonment and torture of Muslims. I was heartened recently, in reading one particular story about a Mauritanian who has been imprisoned since 2003, has undergone torture at the hands of Americans (at the personal direction of Don Rumsfield), and has never been charged. He’s been cleared for release, no charges ever brought against him. Yet for 10 years, he has languished in this terrible prison. (His story was published, at length, in Slate.)

What heartened me is, at one point the military assigned an evangelical Christian to prosecute the guy, but upon learning about how this Mauritanian had been tortured, he refused to take the case. He cited biblical objections. I’ve read other stories of Americans in the military, CIA, and FBI who, either for religious or simply moral reasons, have done what they could to oppose the use of torture and false imprisonment–sometimes putting their own career at risk.

I work in a denomination dominated by Republicans and fans of FoxNews. But only once or twice have I heard another United Brethren object to the use of torture, rendition, or false imprisonment. I hear fellow Christians dismiss objections about Guantanamo simply because the prisoners are Muslims, and they hate Muslims or think all Muslims are terrorists. One fellow Christian even told me that, if asked by his country, he would readily take part in torturing prisoners. This complacency about injustice bothers me deeply. And it’s one reason I continue raising my voice in writing.

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