Roe v. Wade turns 42 — what other “moral decline” milestones come to mind?

Supreme Court (cropped)
January 22, 1973. Not the U.S. Supreme Court’s finest day…

Today is he 42nd anniversary of the horrific 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which created a constitutionally-protected “right” to murder human life in the womb.

I was listening to Mr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talk about it today in his podcast (worth considering) and his comment than many mainstream Christians of the day — including, in his opinion, the Southern Baptist Convention — sort of shrugged about the matter at the time, with even some arguing that it might be a “lesser of two evils” in some circumstances. Few saw it as the issue it really was: A question of whether the choice to murder innocents, fashioned in the image of God, would be enshrined as a constitutional right. It is now understood to be one of the great turning points in the moral degradation of our country — a point where human life came to be seen as no more meaningful than that of the animals and certainly not something sacred.

I am happy to see that Mr. Armstrong spoke about it years earlier in the March 1969 issue of the Plain Truth, where he noted (with comments where I can’t resist myself):

“Right now pressures arc being more and more exerted in the Western world
to make abortions legal. Under certain conditions, of course. [Note: How sad the “of course” is now no longer an “of course” in our world. — WGS]  Such as requiring the assent of two or three doctors. [Wow. Compared to today? I mean — wow. — WGS]

“The pressures are primarily one-sided. I haven’t heard many indignant, emotionally aroused well-organized protests to prevent it.

“This is in line with the toboggan-slide in morals. Fornication and adultery are fast gaining public acceptance. For several years outright profanity has been accepted on the stage. And now the question of whether legal abortion amounts to legal permission to commit murder does not seem to raise many eyebrows, let alone ignite flames of spontaneous protest.”

Also, the year of Roe v. Wade, 1973, the Plain Truth carried an article titled, “Abortion Now Legal…But Is Abortion Murder?” by Mr. Armstrong. He updated many of the same comments he had written four years before, and he answers the question posed in the title unequivocally: Yes, it is. Just as those of us begotten of God’s Spirit are now His children though not yet born into the fulness of life He intends for us in His Family, the child in the womb is just that: the child of his mother and father. As he puts it in his article, at the moment of conception, mother and father have given that new human being all the “life” they can and, from now it, it is not a matter of “more” human life being added; rather it is simply a matter of that new human life growing and maturing.

As Mr. Armstrong said in that May 1973 article:

“It didn’t get the BIG headlines. It was overshadowed in the news by the ending of the Vietnam war (so far as direct U. S. participation is concerned) and by the death of a former President. Yet the U. S. Supreme Court ruling handed down January 22 may have even a more important and lasting effect on the future of America and the world.”

I believe time has validated that speculation.

Where are we today? Well, according to National Right to Life, 52 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade, and every single day an additional 3,300 lives are destroyed — more human beings than were killed in the September 11 attacks. That’s like 9/11 happening every single day. Sadly, the Tomorrow’s World from 2005 “Abortion: A Modern Holocaust?” is still as relevant today as it was a decade ago. And I take a special sort of pride, hopefully not a carnal pride (let me know–I can repent!), that my very first telecast was banned by WGN because of the manner in which I described abortion.

(Side note: That TW article made a difference, which I note in a later “Letter to the Editor” from someone named E. G. Oromiya in Ethiopia (emphasis mine): “I was sure I would gain a lot when I requested your free literature from the Internet. And it really happened when I received a booklet and the magazine with the cover article ‘Abortion: A Modern Holocaust?’ [March-April 2005]. It didn’t take me more than a day to read the magazine and write you this letter. I am a medical student in Ethiopia, where abortion is not yet legalized. I had been having the view that abortion should be legalized. But now I have changed my mind after reading your magazine. The biblical evidence and the figures for the ‘reasons’ for abortion have changed me much. Thank you very much, and God bless you!” Thank God for the opportunity we have to preach His truth!)

It seems to me that while that wasn’t the event that created the abortion problem in the U.S., it was very much a watershed moment or, to mix my metaphors, a significant milestone in our common cultural decent into moral morass.

That brings me to a question. If we were to create a timeline of such milestones concerning society’s modern decent into moral depravity, it seems to me that January 22, 1973 and the Roe v. Wade decision would be a milestone on that list. But what other milestones would we place there? Concerning homosexual “marriage,” for instance, would there be one, significant milestone? Such as President Obama’s public endorsement of such “marriages” on May 6, 2012? Perhaps another, more significant day? Certainly, if the Supreme Court “discovers” a constitutional “right” to such “marriages” (that’s a lot of “scare quotes” in one sentence!), that would surely qualify as a milestone.

So, what milestone events and dates do you think should be listed on such a timeline of societal moral decline? And while I’m U.S.-centric in my considerations, I would like to consider society on a broader scale, so if there are some outside America, feel free to suggest those, as well.

I’d love to know what you think — just let me know in the comments below.

[EU Flag with Question Mark]

STRATFOR: Europe Is Driving History

[EU Flag with Question Mark]Thoughtful analysis, below, from George Friedman, founder and chairman of the global intelligence organization STRATFOR, as Friedman explains why he believes that Europe — not China, Russia, etc. — is the real driver of history, today.

In the brief interview, he focuses on the reemergence of nationalism amongst the EU countries (“when Europe gets nationalistic, the world gets nervous”), the economic woes that have become social woes and, now, political woes, the current failures of the EU, and how the approach of central EU policy makers and Germany, itself, is going to determine the course going forward.

He also discusses the increasing irrelevance of the oft-touted BRICS and the fact that the U.S. is currently the one improving nation in all of this. His words, not mine: “For better or worse, the only country that is showing signs of improvement is the United States. And that is, I think, the most important thing to take away from this conversation. As dumb and stupid and weird as the United States is, it’s the one that is growing the fastest. It’s the one that has–developing–the lowest unemployment.”

The times, they are a’changin’! As the nations of the world continue to limp along, the dynamic in Europe is really changing. It’s hard to imagine the EU experiment completely coming undone, and, of course, we know from prophecy that it is destined to be a much (MUCH) stronger union, yet a union troubled by internal turmoil, as the post yesterday on the Pope’s visit mentioned. It remains to be seen how these nationalistic passions may play out as the coming “super state” develops, how they might transmogrify and the form in which they may feed into the attitude of the state when the prophesied mechanism for unification, a resurgence of strong religious sentiment, is in place to bear its destined load. As Friedman mentions in the video, with the rise of these nationalistic attitudes come a rise in racism, anti-modernism, and other sentiments that the political left and the elites of Europe have never really quenched.

Enough from me! Video is below.

The Pope visits the EU Parliament (plus, what does “antipope” mean?)

Sculpture, outside EU offices in Brussels, of Europa riding the bull -- reminiscent of a certain woman riding a beast (cf. Rev. 17:3)
Sculpture, outside EU offices in Brussels, of Europa riding the bull — reminiscent of a certain woman riding a beast (cf. Revelation 17:3).

There’s a lot of buzz about Pope Francis’ upcoming speech to the European Parliament this week, and understandably so. Some in Europe are bothered that a religious leader is being invited to speak before a “secular body” to begin with. But, as Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, said in an opinion piece in l’Osservatore Romano, “As president of the parliament I can only say that the church has played a leading role in limiting the material and immaterial damage from the economic crisis.”

Schulz further says that it is his hope that the Pope will “wake Europe from its lethargy.”

Knowing that, eventually, a Pope will be instrumental in holding together the “iron and clay” that make up the European Beast power to come for the sake of its secular head, the sense of foreshadowing in such events and statements is impossible to miss. Given the recent elections, the “iron and clay” nature of Europe has been on display recently and the need for something compelling–beyond local interests, biases, prejudices, and nationalist tendencies–to bind them together and keep them together is increasingly clear to observers. Revelation 13 explains that it will be that “miraculous” and religious power of the False Prophet that accomplishes this.

One of the telecasts I just recorded (“Who Is the Prophesied ‘Man of Sin’?”) goes into that, mentioning the role that a future False Prophet will play and mentioning the long historical precedent of a dynamic where two individuals, one religious and one secular, who presumptuously see themselves in god-like terms, must share the same world stage — each using the other for his own purposes while not necessarily being fond of each other (hence, Rev. 17:16).

This interaction on Tuesday will certainly not involve a “Hey, everyone, let’s start requiring the mark of the beast!” speech. But, as far as I am concerned, it is, in a small way, a foreshadowing of larger interactions in the future. Europe is not currently acting on many of the Vatican’s priorities. And many European ministers don’t like the idea of a religious head addressing their body. Yet, here they are. Theirs will be a marriage of convenience in the future — perhaps this could be seen as the wary courtship that precedes it. Martin Schulz has voiced a truth: that the Vatican is in a position of power to achieve results in Europe that the politicians cannot. And the Vatican is engaging with Europe because it wants secular governments to pursue its agendas for the continent. Previews of the dance to come, methinks…

(And now for something completely different…)

Actually, this might be a good place to throw in something I saw recently. Poking around on the Internet while researching something, I came across the blog of a conservative Catholic who is one among several who are irritated at what they see as possible liberalism in Pope Francis, and he brought up the possibility that Francis is not a pope but an antipope — a word that many have probably never heard of. It reminded me of a discussion I had with someone about five years ago who had been saying that the Bible somehow said that the final pope would be an antipope, but he was not using the word properly. I pointed this out to him, but he was in a “self-justification” mode and what I had to say fell on deaf ears. (He has since left our fellowship, declared that he is a Prophet, and believes that he is one of the Two Witnesses who is supposedly discussed in certain demonic prophecies he has spent time “decoding,” so his ears apparently only grew more “deaf-ish” as time passed.)

Does the Bible say that the final pope will be an antipope? One can only say this by misusing the word “antipope.” For instance, the fellow I mentioned above claimed that he was using it as a term to signify a pope who was demon-possessed or who went against the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church — something which is simply not the definition of the word. It’s interesting: Even this conservative Catholic blogger I came across who is irritated at Pope Francis doesn’t use the word “antipope” improperly, but, instead, uses it exactly as it is defined: a “pope” who was not canonically elected and who is a rival to a pope who is canonically elected. That’s the actual definition of “antipope.” This irritated, conservative Catholic blogger I came across wasn’t claiming that the Pope might be an “antipope” because of Francis’ expressed views or doctrinal leanings (which he did not like) but because he (the blogger) was exploring conspiracy talk that might indicate that Francis wasn’t canonically elected. (Something, by the way, that I don’t see, myself, as very probable. At the same time, it’s a pretty political system over there in Rome, and things can be made to seem invalid in the future if it ever becomes politically necessary. No doubts there. And the presence of the still-living Benedict could add to the politics of that. But those are considerations that don’t impact the discussion I’m entering here, which is what the word “antipope” means and whether or not the Bible has anything to say about it in relation to the False Prophet.)

Lest there be any doubt about the meaning of antipope, let’s consult some authorities (and even some “authorities”) on the English language.

  • antipope — one elected or claiming to be pope in opposition to the one canonically elected. (Merriam-Webster)
  • antipope — a person who is elected or claims to be pope in opposition to another held to be canonically chosen. (Random House from Dictionary.com)
  • antipope — a rival pope elected in opposition to one who has been canonically chosen (Collins English Dictionary from Dictionary.com)
  • antipope — A person claiming to be or elected pope in opposition to the one chosen by church law, as during a schism. (American Heritage Dictionary from thefreedictionary.com)
  • antipope — someone who is elected pope in opposition to another person who is held to be canonically elected (WordNet 3.0 from thefreedictionary.com)
  • antipope — “in the Roman Catholic church, one who opposes the legitimately elected bishop of Rome, endeavours to secure the papal throne, and to some degree succeeds materially in the attempt.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica)
  • antipope — a person established as pope in opposition to one held by others to be canonically elected (Oxford English Dictionary, Concise)
  • antipope — A pope elected in opposition to one held to be canonically chosen; spec. applied to those who resided at Avignon during ‘the great schism of the West.’ (Oxford English Dictionary, Full)
  • antipope — a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church (Wikipedia)

The idea that an “antipope” is simply one who differs with the established teachings of the Church he has been elected to head is not in anyway a standard meaning of the word. And, unless one felt compelled to unnaturally force biblical prophecies to “conform” to those thrown out by heathens, diviners, demon worshippers, and others who “whisper and mutter,” there is no foundation at all to say something like “Bible prophecies indicate the False Prophet will be an antipope.” Now, might someone ignoring Isaiah 8:19-20 say such things? Sure. And might someone who wants to bastardize the Bible’s prophecies and “enhance” them with the sayings of demons and demon worshippers (unwitting or not) say such things? Sure. God condemns mixing His faith and His Word with that of demons for just such reasons — the result is always corruption of the truth, and those who seek to do so are condemned as “unequally yoked” in trying use both Christ and Belial (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Looking at some Catholic prophecies and noting how they seem like distortions of God’s Word, as David Jon Hill did once many years ago, is one thing. Using such demonic prophecies to “enhance” the purity of God’s Word is quite another and is condemned by Him.

Biblically, there is nothing at all in prophecy requiring that the final Pope be one who is not canonically elected. And there is no reason to confusingly claim that the Bible does predict an “antipope” except to adulterate the text by attempting to bring it into harmony with the “prophecies” of the heathens. Stick with God’s Word, and should anyone ask you to look to the writings of those who whisper and mutter, remind them that Isaiah 8:19-20 is still in the Bible.

(And if they persist and claim that it’s a matter of “figuring out the devil’s plan” and torture verses like 2 Cor. 2:11 to justify their spiritual harlotry — as if sinning and compromising with the devil were necessary to do that — recognize that you likely won’t get very far, pray that they will find their way out of the devil’s trap, and move along to cleaner waters. Those caught up in such self-deception will always have excuses, and there are many excuses — something I talked about in detail back in my “Christians and Heathen Prophecy” post earlier this year.)

Quick comment on election results

The results of this week’s election are all the talk in the news. And understandably so. It is a big deal in that it was a reflection of major discontent with the President. While he wasn’t technically on the ballot, he was sort of on the ballot. Even major Democratic-sympathizing news sources are recognizing the election for what it was: a means for people to express their discontent about the President’s performance by punishing the party that has enabled and supported him. And, just as rightly noted, part of why the election should be seen that way is because the other party (that would be the Republicans) didn’t really offer any powerful, party-wide, specific alternatives to what their opponents have been selling for six years. From the view here in the cheap seats, most Republicans seemed to run on a platform of “The other guy/gal is a big supporter of President Obama” and their Democratic opponents seemed to run on a platform of “President Who? I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

On both sides, it’s less than impressive, and the leadership crisis of the nation (and, really, the world) continues.

When I saw in the New York Times that the President did not see the election as any sort of public rebuke for how he has conducted his time in office, I tweeted that his reaction is no surprise given his pattern of behavior and attitude:

Arrogance seems to be one of the President’s major faults. And that’s not a political thing to say — all presidents have faults. For instance, the previous administration, President Bush’s, actively manipulated moral voters and evangelicals in the 2004 elections by talking about pressing for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage only to drop such promises the moment the ballots went their way to focus on an privatization-based overhaul of Social Security — a “switcheroo” that was dishonest and, even measuring only by carnal politics, stupid. (I’m not exactly a Washington insider, and even I saw that as a pointless exercise in spending non-existent political capital on an effort that had zero probability of being achieved.) Now, the death throes of the institution of marriage (as sick as it already was) are beginning to be experienced in the country and Social Security is no healthier than it was in 2004. And as for examples of faults in the administration before President Bush’s, let’s just stop while we have time to do other things today.

Someone who saw my Tweet asked me if I thought anything would change significantly after the sweeping Republican victories this week, to which I replied that, no, I didn’t really expect anything any different.

There may be some additional political drama, to be sure. And there may be policy impact. I think that President Clinton was at his most effective when faced with a Congress run by the opposite party, although his worldly, political genius is not anywhere to be found these days. (Not praising such political genius, mind you, just stating facts. Some geniuses are evil geniuses, after all.)

But the real change that is needed in the nation is a spiritual one. There must be lasting national repentance if things are to turn around for good. The nation needs to seek the God who wants to bless it for it to truly experience blessings. And I don’t see the Republican party seeking that any more than I see the Democratic party seeking that.

Don’t get me wrong. It was satisfying in a certain way to see Wendy Davis, whose major claim to fame was her extraordinary efforts to fight for the right to murder children before they are born, get trounced. That would be true whatever her political stripes. (I’m not Republican or Democrat. Rather, I’m Anti-Killing Babies.) It was just as satisfying in a certain way for me to see the “protect marriage/reform Social Security” bait-and-switch of the Bush administration fail — not because I think one approach or the other is better for Social Security. (God can bless a variety of options and isn’t limited by “political realities.”) Rather, I wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing such strategies be rewarded in a way that makes abandoning the greater concern–protecting the very definition of marriage–seem a wise course of action. But will such trouncings as Ms. Davis’ bring about a major movement in the nation away from such murders? I don’t see it. While I do believe that the character of a nation’s leaders effects the character of a nation (the example of ancient Judah, whose leaders were not elected democratically, seems to support that), these days the leaders seem to do more reflecting of the public than guiding. And when I look around, I don’t see a public that is increasingly devoted to godly morals and convictions. Frankly, I see the opposite.

So, as far as I am concerned, to use an admittedly tired cliché, this week’s elections were not too much more than a rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic. The head chef in the Titanic’s galley was fired and a new one was hired. The manner in which the ballroom’s tableware is cleaned has been changed. The times at which shift changes occur may be adjusted. But a real course change that doesn’t include a collision with an iceberg seems no more likely to happen after Tuesday than it seemed before Tuesday.

And, finally, in a fit of shameless self-promotion, let me just link to an old telecast I was able to do that touches on this same subject: “The Decline of Nations” — one of my favorite telecasts not only because of its subject matter but also because I got to drop an egg on the floor on camera. That may not sound like a lot of fun, but I am fairly easily entertained. 🙂

[UPDATE: I failed to add a link to a very relevant commentary the Tomorrow’s World team added to the website today, written by the late Glen Gilchrist: “Politics – or morality?” Check it out!]

Good insight (methinks) into this president’s current state of mind from Peggy Noonan

Camp season is over! Well, sort of over — there are always loose ends here and there to tie up, and my wife and I were already discussing plans for next year yesterday and this morning. But the intense part of the work is done, and life can get back to normal for a while.

After some catching up, that is.

A lot has built up over the last month or so, and if you are among those who have tried to get a hold of me and wondered if I dropped off of the face of the earth, please forgive me. I think I did better than normal this year in keeping up with other things during the whirlwind of camp days, but, to be sure, there are things I am only now getting to. I am not the most organized person in many areas of my life (“Duh,” rings the chorus of millions), but I am working on it.

Among the things that I am working on is catching up on some reading and news analysis. I had saved a link for myself to the July 4 WSJ opinion piece “The Daydream and the Nightmare” by Peggy Noonan–one of my all-time favorite contributors (even gave some of her speech-giving advice to campers in my Speech class at Teen Camp this year)–concerning her analysis of President Obama’s behavior in recent days. Under the subtitle was the blurb, “Obama isn’t doing his job. He’s waiting for history to recognize his greatness.” It seems to me that her column is spot on in its insightful summary of the president’s mindset. You can read it for yourself here: “The Daydream and the Nightmare” (my apologies if it is behind a paywall).

She makes the following comment concerning the president’s abysmal approval ratings:

We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president’s signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn’t like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive.

That’s a long way of saying nothing’s working.

Which I’m sure you’ve noticed.

"Can I just skip ahead to the part where history acknowledges I was awesome?" (image: Official Portrait from Change.gov)
“Can I just skip ahead to the part where history acknowledges I was awesome?” (image: Official Portrait from Change.gov)

Indeed, surely everybody has noticed. The world certainly has. But she points out that what everyone may not be noticing is the weird way in which the president is reacting to all of this.

I won’t go into all of those details–she lays them out nicely. She points out that it comes across like someone in a football game who is running out the clock, except that instead of running out the clock because he’s winning, he’s running out the clock while he is losing. Then she explains why, she believes, he is acting so oddly, and I think her insights are spot on.

Some of her comments:

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he’s made that have not turned out well. He doesn’t seem concerned. A guess at the reason: He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is steering the world toward not relying on America. He is steering America toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a more federally controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and organized by progressives. He thinks he’s done his work, set America on a leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, history will look back on him and see him as heroic, realistic, using his phone and pen each day in spite of unprecedented resistance. He is Lincoln, scorned in his time but loved by history.

He thinks he is in line with the arc of history, that America, for all its stops and starts, for all the recent Supreme Court rulings, has embarked in the long term on governmental and cultural progressivism. Thus in time history will have the wisdom to look back and see him for what he really was: the great one who took every sling and arrow, who endured rising unpopularity, the first black president and the only one made to suffer like this.

That’s what he’s doing by running out the clock: He’s waiting for history to get its act together and see his true size.

Makes sense to me, and fits the picture pretty well painted by the actions of the man in the Oval Office, both during his time so far as president and even before. And Noonan’s comments about the dangers to the country in having a president with such a mindset also seem to me to be right. Again, the article is worth a read.

I would like to add a couple of my own observations.

I’ve known some that see large, malicious, conspiratorial plotting behind some of the president’s decisions, as if his personal goal is to leave the North American continent a smoking ruin, put on a bejeweled turban, and then fly off to live in a palace in the Middle East with college buddies from ISIS for the rest of his days–or, perhaps, to complete his initiation into the Illuminati in 2016 by offering up to the inquisitor the caged souls of everyone who didn’t read the “I give up my soul” fine print before signing on to Obamacare.

However, rather than insufficiently supported ideas, to me a comment attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte has always seemed much more likely to apply:

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

Over the last almost six years, the president has not struck me as a particularly competent individual when it comes to governing. I don’t mean that as a critique of him as a human being, just as a leader. And believe me, I’ve been incompetent at a lot of things, before, so I know it when I see it. (Please no agreement with that in the comments. Just pretend with me that I am being funny and not accurate.)

He seems caught up in a vision of a politically progressive America–lessened and humbled for the reasons he believes it should be lessened and humbled (not the same as God’s reasons, by the way) and in the ways he believes it should be lessened and humbled, but still able to become the generally-religion-free, academics-and-the-state-know-best, no-one-too-rich-and-every-one-taken-care-of “dream nation” he and many of his philosophical persuasion have always felt it could be. Their own version of a “city on a hill.” As Ms. Noonan describes, I think the president believes strongly that he has set the country on such a course, and that is what is most important to him. The rest is just sort of “meh.” The pesky trifle of a major airliner being downed, murdering 298 people in the Ukraine? A distraction. 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram? Bad timing. After all, if the goal is to teach the world that America won’t swoop in and save you, it doesn’t do the cause any good to, you know, save anybody.

The mundane explanations fit best. No dramatic, secret plans to round up and murder America’s Christians, as I saw recently claimed on the Internet, for instance. Rather, it’s all a lot more mundane: the dream of a Supertolerant Nation™ in which everyone is enlightened enough to tell such Christians to shut up and keep their moralizing to themselves — all in a spirit of Supercivility™, of course. Rather than darkly conspiratorial, it’s sadly mundane. It’s a simple-to-understand ideology, and it’s more than sufficient to explain the horrendous state of leadership we are currently experiencing. (Though it isn’t the whole story, as I’ll eventually get to.)

And it fits prophecy. God says that Israel (not just modern Israel, but the U.S. and the U.K.) will lack even halfway decent leadership before it topples, and do we ever. Read Isaiah 3:1-7. It describes a people desperate for a decent ruler–anyone. Yet, God says that there won’t even be a “diviner” (v.2) available. Even the sorts of leaders who may have been heathens but were at least competent will be unavailable. And as for “children” being the people’s “princes” (v.4), I must say that–without saying that the verse doesn’t have a certain literal meaning to it–I don’t know when the leaders of my nation have ever seemed to me so childish in all of my life. And I mean that for both parties.

We are experiencing quite a leadership crisis. And it is far from over.

Still, that’s a lot of words, and I said I would mention two observations. Here’s the other one.

More important than the matter of competency, the president has furthered the sins of the nation.

On one hand, I’ve seen some Pretend Prophets claim that the current president is “apocalyptic” and I get it: Repeatedly using a word like that makes for increased Internet hits and book sales (however sad and ineffective those hits and book sales remain, it is at least a higher number of sad and ineffective hits and book sales). It makes for sensational titles and headlines and sounds end-of-the-worldy. Sensationalism sells. Duh. But it also adds to “prophecy burn out” and is done in a misleading spirit, however well-intended. Yes, indeed, this president has helped moved this country along the path to further spiritual disease. Presidents Bush and Clinton before him did their fair share, as well. And the next president (Mrs. Clinton? Mr. Bieber?) will likely do the same. God’s prophecies deserve to be treated with more respect than that, and, in the end, for each person grabbed by an (inevitable) parade of such abusively provocative titles and overused/misused adjectives like “apocalyptic,” two or three more will be turned off by the shallowness of such desperate pandering. It grabs the attention while simultaneously lessening the impact and doing more harm than good. Still, common sense isn’t rampant in the Self-Appointed Prophet crowd (or even uncommon sense–or any sense, at all, really), so I don’t seeing it let up anytime soon.

On the other, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen some vomitously sinful decisions made during this administration’s tenure. And that’s what concerns me. Politics is politics. Progressivism, conservatism, liberalism, capitalism, Republicans versus Democrats, Pirates versus Ninjas, whatever… God can make even the goofiest decisions work if the nation is seeking Him and His way above all else.

And the worst missteps of this presidency aren’t political. They are moral. The powerful support given to the abortion industry. (I do note the wish-it-were-funny irony of seeing some who decried Vietnam vets in the 60s as being “baby killers” now in office making baby killing our official government policy.) The endorsement of homosexual “marriage” from the highest office in the nation. This is increasingly an immoral government (and not just in the Executive Branch). Its distance from God is increasing, and its velocity along that trajectory is increasing, as well.

Concerning politics, let the nation do what it will. God asks His people to step aside from that. But not to sit on their hands–rather, He asks them to focus on those things that matter more: the nation’s relationship to its God. And this president has been a big supporter of severing that relationship–as weak and tenuous as it was, already. Not that this has been his official policy, but a policy’s meaning and intentions can’t be divorced from its effects.

Returning the nation to the Constitution is not going to return it to God. Getting a Republican (or a Democrat, or a Libertarian, or a Conservative, or a Liberal, or a whatever-Ron-Paul-is/was) in office is not going to return it to God. Let others wage those fights–they aren’t God’s fights. “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

Our task is not to explain to the leaders of this world, including our current president, how his government of this world falls short of the ideals of America’s forefathers–who also, by the way, crafted a government of this world. Our task is to show them, and everyone, how it falls short of the ideals of the government of the world to come–how it falls short of the ideals of the Forefather of that government.

Yes, a politically competent president who had the ability to see at least a little more accurately what his decisions and non-decisions are doing to the United States, and to the world, for what will be very little gain in the end would be nice. But competency isn’t enough. The nation needs a leader who desires to seek God in all of his decisions. And we haven’t had that in a long time. Frankly, we won’t get that until Christ returns to be that leader.

And, still, a more moral, God-seeking leader would not be enough. We need a moral people who desire to seek God in their lives. Those who stack a world of blame on the president are missing the point. One of the nice things about a real democracy (OK, a republic, for you sticklers out there) is that the leaders tend to reflect the people. And concerning our current president, I personally find him pretty reflective of the people he and those around him in the halls of power so poorly govern–at least in the ways that fundamentally matter in the end.

Should a leader arise amongst the citizenry of the United States actually proposing to turn this nation to God in a serious and meaningful way, the ways God is looking for, is there any hope that this people would elect such a one? Is there any hope that this people would allow the radical changes such a one would promote?

That’s the beauty of the New Covenant. People aren’t just forgiven of their sins and rebellion and left otherwise as they are. They are transformed from the inside out (Hebrews 8:10), so that the world will have a godly leader (in fact, God) and they, themselves, will become godly people. It takes both. As Deborah and Barak sang: “When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the LORD!” (Judges 5:2) — it takes both. (And, I should note: That was Barak, not Barack.)

Yes, Israel is suffering from a leadership crisis. But it’s not without cause (cf. Prov. 26:2). And the cause isn’t deep, vast, global conspiracies or the Illuminati or FEMA or even Wall Street “fat cats.” The cause is us. And it isn’t our lack of political savvy or our bad public policy or our forgetting about the U.S. Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or our ignorance of secret government plots. It’s our sin.

It’s simple. No need to complicate it. No need to add to it. And no excuse for being distracted from it.

Want to fix the country? Address the sin.

All other efforts are little more than band-aids on a severed limb.

And, wow, what was meant to be a simple “Hey, look at this nice Peggy Noonan article” blog post has turned into a bit of a rant. My apologies! If you weren’t counting on such a long post, feel free to stick to the stuff above about the WSJ article. 🙂

Please pray for the country, even as you “sigh and cry” for it (cf. Ezek. 9:4). Pray for our leaders, including the president, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:2). I know I need to be forgiven for the times I have forgotten to do so.

And let’s do our part, individually, to avoid adding to this nation’s mounting sins, and, collectively, to support the preaching of Jesus Christ’s message to this world–about its current state, its coming reckoning, and the hope of the kingdom He is bringing to replace it.

End of rant.

Britain’s modern Molech revival

The Bible contains many warnings to ancient Israel concerning an abhorrent practice of the Canaanites, who had previously possessed the land God had given them. We see one such example in Leviticus 18:21, “You shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech…” It was an abominable practice, in which people sought to appease the heathen god Molech and influence him to their benefit by sacrificing their own children in fire. Who would have thought that this ancient heathen god would so plainly rear his head in the modern Britain? A Channel 4 “Dispatches” episode in the United Kingdom–“Exposing Hospital Heartache,” aired Monday, March 24, 2014–revealed that many British hospitals are not only incinerating the remains of aborted and miscarried babies as “clinical waste” but are also burning some of those bodies as a means of heating their buildings in “waste-to-energy” programs. The television program was preceded that day by a number of reports in the news providing the grisly and tragic details. In one such article–titled “Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals” –the Telegraph’s Sarah Knapton reported:

“Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat…

“At least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.”

More than 15,000. As Ms. Knapton reported, some families who experienced the trauma of losing a child early in pregnancy were not even consulted on what they wanted to do with their child’s body. Grieved and bereft parents were in some cases told that their child’s body would be “cremated” when, in actuality, the bodies were added to “waste-to-energy” plants where they could be burned to aid in heating the hospital. The concept of using the human remains of children as a fuel source, let alone equating it with “clinical waste,” has created a row to which the UK Department of Health has felt compelled to respond. As the article reports, Dr. Dan Poulter, health minister for the department, made a public statement, saying, “This practice is totally unacceptable.” No. Having your hotel reservation mishandled may be “totally unacceptable.” Being served a meal you did not order in a restaurant may be “totally unacceptable.” Having the parcel you sent to your grandmother lost in the mail may be “totally unacceptable.” Burning the remains of children to heat a building is an abomination. It is a travesty–a heart-wrenching tragedy and a nauseating violation of any sense of God-given human value. And the fact that it has been an institutionalized practice in place for years without protest by its practitioners is a sign of cancerous rot in the soul of a nation. The tepid response by officials is telling. One one hand, they must publicly recognize the outrage many are feeling. It can’t be ignored. The act of using the bodies of children as mere fuel to heat hospitals violates basic sensibilities. It prompts many to ask, “How could such a thing be allowed?” And yet, the widespread practice exposes a horrific public pretense. The policies that allow abortion on demand–and the arguments at the heart of such policies–consider the pre-born child to be no more than “tissue.” Yet, no one complains about burning fingernail clippings. There is no outrage when a hospital discards and incinerates a removed appendix. There are no public apologies or excuses or promises of reform forthcoming from the UK’s General Dental Council about the manner in which excised molars are thrown away. But, as much as effort as our “modern” societies and our societies’ governments pour into their philosophies and arguments defending the practice of treating abortion as nothing more than the removal of “tissue” from a pregnant woman, public outcries like this one demonstrate that deep down, our society still knows better–it still knows what it will no longer publicly admit. It isn’t “tissue.” It’s a child. Tissue hasn’t been burned in an “eco-conscious” solution to heating hospitals. Babies have been burned to heat hospitals. Molech would be pleased.

New TW Short: “The Gathering Storm”

Very nice. I think we’re getting better at these shorts. Personally, I’d love to make one to enter the contest they announced this Sabbath.

Just another Jesuit, government-owned, mind-controlled goober rediscovering his blog

Howdy! I am not sure (and I am too lazy to look back and tell), but I think this is the longest I have ever been away from my blog! And it hasn’t suffered too much in my absence — there was traffic looking for a number of things, even though I wasn’t writing anything new. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let me say that I hope all of you had a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles! Ours at the Lake of the Ozarks was amazing. Many asked me if it would be there again next year, and all I can say is that (1) I don’t know, (2) the overall impression of people who attended is positive, (3) let HQ know if you want it there again, and (4) talk to God about it, since everything depends on where He chooses to place His name (Deut. 14:23, et al.).

The messages were powerful (the ones I heard, I should say; I didn’t listen to my own 🙂 ), and left me really wanting to come home and make of my life something worthy of Christ’s coming Kingdom and something that represents a taste of that Kingdom now. Wherever you were, I hope that your Feast was just as uplifting and edifying as ours was. I’m tempted to dive in and discuss the messages and other highlights of the Feast, but I think I’d rather save those things for another time — give myself time to go over my notes again and work to make what I learned a part of my life and not just my blog posting. However: for the record, it was awesome. My thanks to everyone who came to the Lake of the Ozarks for God’s Feast and my thanks to all who served with me in any capacity at all — you made it a wonderful Feast for my family and for each other, and I pray we take all God gave us and do some good with it!

I also learned during the Feast from my brother-in-law, Wade Brown, that someone out there believes that I am a Jesuit — or, at least, a Jesuit-controlled lackey — due to the fact that our Church falls under 501(c)(3) taxation guidelines (hence the title of this blog post). We laughed about it, because such a thought is, of course, stupid. It’s interesting. The sort of people whose minds are so corrupted and twisted as to swallow “whole hog” the sort of conspiracy drivel that would equate 501(c)(3) with Jesuit control of your church and government ownership of your members are the same sort of minds that you cannot reason with in any way whatsoever. I know. I’ve tried.

For instance, if I don’t make the statement, “I’m not a Jesuit nor am I controlled by Jesuits,” then I will be accused of “admitting” I am by my silence: “See, he didn’t deny it! I’m right!” Yet, if I do make such a statement–in fact, let me do so right now: I am not a Jesuit, nor am I controlled by Jesuits–then the response is “Well, he’s lying, just like Jesuits do!” You can’t win with such people. Their mind is set, and the facts are irrelevant.

Actually, the other response that such conspiracy addicts give is, “Well, he says he isn’t controlled by the Jesuits, but he doesn’t know about the top dealings of his church.” Yes, that’s right. I attend every single Council of Elders meeting, am blessed to be able to speak openly and privately with Dr. Meredith and Mr. Ames and Dr. Winnail and Mr. Wakefield on a regular basis, occasionally sit in (as do lots of folks on their own visits) on Dr. Meredith’s weekly meetings with his executives, and have unfettered access to the individuals who are actually running the Church under Jesus Christ, and yet I have somehow I’ve missed the giggling Jesuit Ninja hiding in the closets of Charlotte, North Carolina. You’re brilliant.

Unbelievable.

(Oddly, the people Wade mentioned to me don’t seem to care that they slander the person they claim to respect: Herbert W. Armstrong. He placed his corporation sole under the exact same 501(c)(3) taxation status up until the very day of his death in 1986. I suppose he was a Jesuit/Government/Reptilian Overlord/Freemason/Zionist puppet, as well.)

And there was a new one I hadn’t heard before: In the same exchange with my brother-in-law, it was claimed by the accuser that the Council of Elders of the LCG votes on matters and is a democracy. Really? Wow… I’ve been attending all of these Council meetings — both in person and in our phone conferences — and somehow I’ve missed every single vote they’ve ever taken to the point that I had no idea we voted at all! Why, the Council must take those votes when I am taking a bathroom break. Oooo, or maybe when they tell me we are all breaking for lunch, they let me leave the room while they furtively spend a few seconds electing someone or voting for something behind my back! That’s it! Why, those devious Jesuit/Zionist/Alien/Illuminati/Government mind-slaves!

Wait, wait, wait… Maybe there is another, more rational explanation… Maybe I’ve never participated in even a single vote in any decision during my tenure so far in the Council of Elders because we actually don’t vote, because we are actually an advisory council just like Mr. Armstrong’s was, because we actually believe in our own doctrinal positions on voting and government, and because the person who said otherwise has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Hmmmm… I suspect that is more likely. 🙂

(In other 501(c)(3) news, I notice that one person who said that 501(c)(3) entanglements come with government control and force you to limit your message now takes what kind of donations for his website? Come on, you can guess! That’s right! He has now found a way for him to be comfortable with taking 501(c)(3) donations, himself. Wow — this stuff is like the gift that keeps on giving.)

Enough about all of that. It was good for a laugh at the Feast with my brother-in-law (thanks, Wade!), but, frankly, it is pretty sad. The devil has some people so wrapped up in conspiracy hooey that they not only can no longer think clearly or see straight and not only slander people without even the slightest of evidence, but they have also erected an idol of their conspiracies and don’t even know it. Yes, any time foolishness parades itself, it can be funny (I’ve put on a few parades like that, myself), but knowing that the root of it is an individual caught up in the devil’s deceptions and so entangled by them that they don’t even know the spiritual harm they are doing to themselves is just tragically sad. That’s part of why the lies that some of those individuals say about me don’t really bother me all that much. Just watching them flounder so helplessly in their own spiritual, emotional, and intellectual filth turns my desire, instead, to requesting of God that He do whatever He needs to do to prevent me from ever falling into such a spiritual tar pit.

And requesting of God, too, that He help such individuals in whatever way He can. I’ve spent, literally, hours and hours answering their questions (even though they wrote under an assumed name), and it did no good. I’ve spent time digging through online public archives and have sent them documents with Mr. Armstrong’s signature, and it does no good. God is help them, to be sure, if they are willing. But until then, it’s clear that there’s nothing I can do for them but pray.

Wow — I thought I said “enough about that,” above! Move on, Smith! All that gum-bumping (or, typing, I suppose) from one thing my brother-in-law had a laugh about at the Feast… Sorry about that! Moving on!

In other news, even though this blog has languished in neglect for about two-and-a-half months while I played at various camps (thanks for your prayers for those), did a TWP (which went great! 130 new folks!), taped some new programs (thanks for your prayers for those, too!), and worked on the Feast that has just concluded (woo hoo! the Feast!), the blog still got a good bit of traffic! Searches took people to various posts, and it has been kind of fun looking at what garnered people’s attention while I was away. Here are some of the posts people Googled their way to during the last few days of my absence…

And, perhaps one of the most obscure posts to receive some Google-love while I’ve been AWOL:

Finally, a post I was surprised did not receive much attention while I was gone, since it is usually a regular search engine stopping spot:

Actually, someone even asked me about that question this past week at the Feast, which was a happy moment. 🙂

Traffic on this blog has never been a big thing for me, else I would take the time to do more SEO, keyword analysis, etc., etc., etc., which is what Internet people do. (Though if you are interested in knowing how to do that, talk to an expert!) It has been, as I said way back at the beginning, a chance to keep my writing muscles active, provide a place for my congregation members to hear from me more regularly, and to post some TW news now and then, as well as — I hope — a source of at least a little traffic for the Work’s websites, lcg.org and tomorrowsworld.org. But given the weird, eclectic collection of stuff I have rambled on about over the years, it is interesting to see some of what people have been coming across over the last few days given that I haven’t posted anything new for a couple of months.

And speaking of rambling, I’m done! As is probably clear from the title, there wasn’t much of a point to this blog post other than to get my feet wet again, so it has, indeed, been pretty rambly. If that has made it unprofitable for you, please feel free to keep your receipt and request a refund. 🙂

Now that I am back posting, I hope to write again soon — hopefully on something a little more worthwhile!

So, my kids and I watched a 9-11 conspiracy flick…

I know that it might be unwise to bring this up, given the crank comments that the topic tends to generate, but I thought it might be a good example of the fact that I really am not ignorant of various claims.

My kids and I were poking around Netflix last night and came across a pro-conspiracy flick about the September 11 attacks titled 911: In Plane Sight — not a misspelling, by the way, but apparently a play on words. It was created by a particular radio host for a program I won’t honor with free advertising (though I mention the movie title because I want It to be clear it was a real “documentary”).

I selected it (it was free), and two of the boys and I watched it with the other two joining in later. And I have to say that watching it with the boys was interesting.

And it was rewarding. The boys began to pick through what was said and to take apart the host’s “analysis” just as easily as I could. The leaps of “logic” were many, and the unjustified conclusions were legion. To my delight, the boys saw through much of what was said without my help at all, and — perhaps, needless to say at this point — we finished the documentary absolutely unconvinced that anything the host said was true in any way. I think we all believed he was sincere, but not a single conclusion he drew was credible to any of us sitting there. And it was a great opportunity to explain to the boys how such ill-formed theories can arise and how a chaotic mess of data can often be assembled in a number of different ways, especially when cherry-picked and pieced together by someone with an ideological motive.

It was a lesson, too, in how all of us — me and the kids, too — can become horrible interpreters of facts when our desires and human will begin to cloud our judgment. At one point, Boy #3 exclaimed, “How can he say that?!? Is he watching the same video footage we are?” Indeed, what was obvious to us was not even a possibility to the narrator. But, again, we didn’t doubt the guy’s sincerity — just his good judgment.

Jeremiah 17:9 works on all of us, without exception. And while it is easy (frankly, was easy) to sit back and be snarky after a while when you see how oblivious someone can be, the lesson shouldn’t be lost on us that all of us are capable of the same obliviousness — all of us are very capable of failing to see the obvious in favor of our own preferred view or conclusion. Perhaps it doesn’t involve an unreasonable conspiracy theory, but it may involve our opinion about a difficulty with our spouse, or about an argument we had with a friend, or even larger issues. Fill in the blank yourself. And be imaginative.

I know our politicians are capable of lying (like we all are). I know they can make cold, heartless decisions in pursuit of purposes they deem significant that would seem horrific to others. No doubt. And I know that truly abominable decisions have been made throughout time by people in power to gain more power — whether in the form of money or influence or land or whatever. Certainly so.

But last night my kids and I we unified in the same point I have tried to make before: When it comes to certain conspiracy theories, the reason I don’t think them credible is not because of the high regard I have for human government or mankind in general — rather, it is because the “evidence” and arguments presented for the theories, in light of all the evidence and reasonable explanations available, is simply not credible.

(And BTW: Including “all the evidence and reasonable explanations available” is important. As has been demonstrated, programs like Jesse Ventura’s “Conspiracy Theory” show sometimes edit out information that would make one reasonably doubt their conclusions. Check out their misleading editing concerning “super thermite paint” as an example. Part of what sustains some conspiracy theories — not all, but part — is the self-filtering of information, only accepting “evidence” that fits the theory. Anyone who thinks such programs as those represent real investigative work as opposed to entertainment with an investigative-ish flavor show a severe lack of discernment.)

So, to those who disagree with my stands on most of those matters, feel free. (Please don’t clog the comments on this post with more theory junk, though. I will likely not approve such comments.) but please don’t say it’s because I am too trusting of the government, or because I haven’t seen the “evidence,” or because I won’t give such arguments a fair consideration. I really have looked at many claims. I — and, I am happy to report, my sons — simply find them not credible: merely less credible than more reasonable theories in the kindest of circumstances, and completely ludicrous in the worst.

For a post linking to a good commentary from the Living Church of God on the topic of conspiracy theories and a biblical, Christian perspective, click here: “Living Church of God: ‘Is it a conspiracy?'”

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