Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ann Coulter’s Sad View of Christian Missionaries

I just came across some of the most putrid writing I’ve ever seen, from a person adored by many Christians and who is regularly allowed to spill her sludge on FoxNews. It’s Ann Coulter, writing about Dr. Ken Brantley, the Samaritan’s Purse doctor who contracted Ebola while ministering to Ebola patients in Liberia. Her column is titled, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic.'”

Coulter clearly knows nothing about the Great Commission, about the call to missions, about sacrificing for Christ, about serving “the least of these.” Her disgusting column attacks Dr. Brantley for, basically, grandstanding while America burns.

“Why did Dr. Brantley have to go to Africa?…Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?…If Dr. Brantley had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia….If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World….

“Serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been ‘heroic.’ We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantley’s ‘unusual drive to help the less fortunate’ or his membership in the ‘Gold Humanism Honor Society.’ Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket….There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.”

Christian narcissists? Is that her view of missionaries? Of their motivations?

My heroes have always been missionaries. I’ve known and written about two of our own United Brethren missionaries who were subjects of emergency evacuation from West Africa, and about another who died there. Which is why I take this so personally and react so strongly.

Jesus, who called Dr. Brantley to serve Him in Africa, has a whole different view…a view about which Ann Coulter is clueless.

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The Jews, the Nazis, and Business as Usual

jews-streetI’ve been somewhat haunted for several years by the book “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account.” Not so much by the book itself (which is incredible), but by the words of Bruno Bettehheim in the Forward, which by itself was well worth the price of admission. He raised ideas I had never considered.

Bettehheim, a Jew, survived Dachau and Buchenwald. He brutally criticized the “business as usual” attitude of Jews who offered little or no resistance, and skewered such sainted figures as the Ann Frank family. It was 70 years ago today that Ann Frank was arrested.

In Buchenwald, Bettelheim said he asked hundreds of German Jews why they didn’t leave Germany when they had the chance.

“Their answer was: How could we leave? It would have meant giving up our homes, our places of business. Their earthly possessions had so taken possession of them that they could not move; instead of using them, they were run by them….For a long time the intention of the Nazis was to force undesirable minorities, such as the Jews, into emigration. Only when this did not work was the extermination policy instituted.”

In Poland, he said, many Jews left everything and fled to Russia…and survived. In Holland, where the Franks lived, thousands fled the country or took up arms in the underground. Those who didn’t want to give up the lives they had built ended up dead—“suicidal behavior” in Bettelheim’s opinion.

The Ann Frank story, he said, is a perfect example of “business as usual.”

“All the Franks wanted was to go on with life as much as possible in the usual fashion. Little Anne, too, wanted only to go on with life as usual, and nobody can blame her. But hers was certainly not a necessary fate, much less a heroic one; it was a senseless fate. The Franks could have faced the facts and survived, as did many Jews living in Holland…But for that she would have had to be separated from her parents and gone to live with a Dutch family as their own child. Everybody who recognized the obvious knew that the hardest way to go underground was to do it as a family; that to hide as a family made detection by the SS most likely.”

But instead of recognizing the need for extreme action, the Franks tried to preserve the family togetherness to which they were accustomed. At the least, Bettelheim said, they could have armed themselves and shot one or two SS before being hauled away. “There was no surplus of SS men. The loss of an SS with every Jew arrested would have noticeably hindered the functioning of the police state….They could have sold their lives dearly instead of walking to their death.”

The play ends with Anne stating her belief in the good in all men. But this, Bettelheim argues, is what got them killed. They needed to accept the reality of the gas chambers, of the existence of pure evil around them, and take drastic action accordingly. Instead, they clung to life as they had known it.

He says that when Jews, like the Franks, waited passively for the SS to knock on their doors, it was the first step in a voluntary walk into the crematoria.

I can make a leap to the Christian life. Jesus told the disciples that following him would be far, far from “business as usual.” Am I so enamored with the life I lead that I’m unwilling to give it up so I can flee to something better, if God directs me so?

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Dear news organizations: You can stop sending me News Alerts about a ceasefire agreement, followed a few hours (or minutes) later by a News Alert that the ceasefire has been violated. A simple “Ditto” will suffice.

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Movie: August: Osage County

August Osage County 4

Last night, Pam and I watched “August: Osage County,” with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts (among other stars). Yes, superb performances. However, absolutely nothing redeeming about the movie.

No major characters worth admiring.

No positive changes in anyone’s behavior or thinking.

No indication that anything at all changes for the better from the beginning to the end of the movie.

Just a totally dysfunctional family going through their dysfunctional motions.

All it did was made me pray, “Lord, thank you that I don’t belong to a family like that.”

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Through a Wormhole Darkly

I subscribe to Bookbub, which sends me a daily list of free and inexpensive epub books to download. Today’s email includes a Christian fiction book with a plot which just made me want to laugh out loud (but I didn’t).

A mad scientist builds a time machine and, gun in hand, goes back to 57 AD to kill the Apostle Paul. A woman archaeologist gets sucked back in time, too. Can she save the Apostle Paul? Sure, the guy had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and everything else. But can he survive a 21st century mad scientist with a six-shooter?

The book is “City of God” by R. S. Ingermanson. I’m sure it contains some deep theological truths which would revolutionize my spiritual life. But I think I’ll skip it.

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