Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God knows

"He knoweth the way that I take" (Job 23:10).
     
Believer! What a glorious assurance! This way of thine - - - this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way - - - this way of trial and tears. "He knoweth it." The furnace seven times heated - - - He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.
     
That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner - - - no later) He brings His people forth as gold.
     
When they think Him least near, He is often nearest.
"When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path."
     
Do we know of ONE brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?
     
The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of "Providence"- - - "the will of Providence"- - - "the strokes of Providence." PROVIDENCE! what is that?
     
Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?
     
How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet) - - - no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans - - - he saw it behind the lightning flash - - - he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest - - - he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.
      
"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"
     
"Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." -  - - Macduff 


(From Streams in the Desert, Mrs. Charles Cowman, 1925)

Monday, December 19, 2011

13 too young? Nah, lash her anyway!

More from the "religion of peace," which has given us such a fascinating understanding of the role of women in the world.  Here is a video showing a young woman being savagely lashed by the Taliban for being in the company of a male to whom she was not married (although adultery was not alleged). Over the video, a crawl describes the case of a 13 year old Saudi girl sentenced to 90 lashes for taking a cell phone to school. Please note: the images in the video are of the older woman, not the 13 year old.

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This is the true face of "Islam."  It has no other.  "Islam" does not actually mean "submission:" it means oppression, hatred, pathological sexuality, and cruelty that would make the Marquis de Sade look like Mr. Rogers.  It is the filthiest, most godless "religion" that has ever blighted the face of this world, and the Taliban is one of its purest manifestations.

Nevertheless, the current Vice-President of the United States maintains that “the Taliban is not our enemy:”

"Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests. If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us." (Newsweek, 12.18.2011

Thank you for clarifying the moral stance of the United States, Mr. Vice-President. Perhaps it will be of some comfort to the girls and women who are daily persecuted, raped, and murdered by the "peace-loving" Muslims.


Muslim girl crying

Friday, December 16, 2011

"If Heaven Was Never Promised to Me"

From Andrae Crouch, a reminder of what's involved in a Christian's personal relationship with his or her Saviour and Lord.  Believers are often accused of a "pie in the sky" faith, of "enduring" the sorrows of life because of an unrealistic illusion of a better life hereafter.  Hogwash!  Christians have the assurance of eternal life, of course, but that's not all there is to it.  Those who have come to know Jesus Christ personally may have plenty of troubles, but we're not "enduring" life: by the grace of God, we're enjoying it!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Take Christ out of Christmas!

Once again, the "holiday" season is in full swing; and, once again, certain of my fellow Christians are beating their breasts about "the war on Christmas."  Nonsense, say I: if there really is a war on Christmas, Christians shouldn't be fighting on either side.  We should ignore it.  In fact, we should ignore Christmas itself, for the most part.

At least, I should.  I have no right to lay down rules for my fellow believers:  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:5). If my brothers and sisters in Christ want to participate in this ghastly heathen ritual, they have that right.  But count me out, please.

Because, really, what does "Christmas" have to do with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?  Christians are commanded, in the Bible, to remember His crucifixion and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. We're given the wonderful details of His nativity, of course, as part of His scriptural "biography," in Luke 2 and elsewhere. But we're never, ever commanded to commemorate this glorious event, and the early Christians didn't.  It's wonderful and personally meaningful to remember Jesus' birth; that's why I did a little post on "Christmas in July."  But what does that have to do with the annual orgy of obligation and debt and hysteria that rolls around every December 25th?  Where is the "sweet little Jesus Boy," much less the crucified Saviour, in the following?

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I'm not just grousing, however, about "the commercialization of Christmas."  That's old news.  I'm talking about the Christmas "holiday" itself.  It's not a Christian observance, and has never been a Christian observance, except in the hearts of many sincere believers.  But those believers, for all their devotion to Christ, are a bit ignorant of history.

The Incarnation of Christ at Bethlehem was, of course, the most earth-shattering event in history.   The words of the traditional hymns, such as "Joy to the World," are true, and wonderful to contemplate.  But they're not the center of the Christian faith.  According to the Bible, the Resurrection is the center of the faith: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

Any historian knows that "Christmas" is a purely human invention, created by the Roman Catholic Church to co-opt the genuine orgy that was the Roman Saturnalia.  The Saturnalia was the Roman Empire's celebration of the winter solstice, called the Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun," and it fell on Dec. 25th. It was a time of drunkenness, sexual debauchery, and ... of course ... the exchanging of gifts.  It was so popular that the Catholic Church simply had to appropriate it, and "Christianize" it, as they have historically done, and are doing today, with pagan rituals around the world.  But it was a hideous, anarchic horror. Think of Mardi Gras, writ large.

Saturnalia
 
It wasn't even celebrated as a "Christian holiday" until the late 4th century AD.  And when it was, it was merely a power grab, a play for acceptance and popularity by the Roman Church.  Those facts may not be palatable or pleasant, but they are facts, and facts are stubborn things.  And we won't even mention Santa Claus!



This is not to say, of course, that the Roman Catholic Church is entirely responsible for the pagan monstrosity that "Christmas" has become.  Even during the Reformation, Martin Luther probably swigged his egg nog, or his beer, as he admired his "Christmas tree."  All Christians love Jesus, and many think that remembering His birth is a good idea - - - which it is.  But what does it have to do with the winter solstice, or the heathen orgies of ancient Rome?

For that matter, it's not even Jesus' birthday.  He was probably born in September; this can be determined by a number of factors.  For one thing, the shepherds who keep watch over their flocks don't stay in the fields at night in December: it gets cold, even in the Middle East.



Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Christians are committing some egregious sin by celebrating December 25th.  I'm not a Jehovah's Witness: I don't believe that the observation of birthdays and holidays is inherently wicked.  I certainly don't believe in depriving children of the fleeting joy that Christmas affords them.  If families can get together and enjoy one another's fellowship, and entertain the children, without forced, artificial familiarity and the incurring of horrendous debt, I'm all for it.  But I'd be all for it in March or July or September, too.  It has nothing to do with December 25th, and it most assuredly has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

 
Why, I don't even dislike Christmas trees, although Jeremiah 10:2-5 makes for interesting reading at this time of year.  If you like having lighted trees in your home, more power to you.  I'm fond of pretty lights myself.  But why not have them year round?  Why claim that they have anything to do with Christianity?


So, it's a bit hard for me to get very agitated about what certain commentators, like those on Fox News, call "the war on Christmas." In fact, when I hear such stories in the media, I wonder: are they really upset about Jesus being obscured, or are they afraid that secularists like the ACLU will somehow interfere with the economic explosion that Christmas provides?

If people who don't really know Jesus Christ, who have never received Him as their Saviour and Lord according to John 1:12, want to engage in this yearly frenzy of debt and false jollity, then by all means let them do it.  Happy Holidays, everybody!  Do your thing!


Just leave my Saviour out of it, okay?  He deserves better than that.  He's more important than that.  And, by the way, He's not a cute baby in a manger any more: He's the Lord of the Universe, Who grew up and was tortured to death for your sins and mine on the cross.  But that's not the Jesus we think of in December, is it?  We think of the baby.  And who doesn't love a baby?  A baby doesn't present any threat.  A baby doesn't demand a changed life, or even a bent knee.  But that bloody Man of Sorrows on the cross is a different image!

It gives me no great joy, but on this matter, I must break ranks with so many of my fellow believers, as much as I love them.

 
I say it's time to give the holiday to the pagans.  It was theirs to begin with, and it's still theirs.  I say we should take Christ out of Christmas, and worship and adore Him year-round.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jerry Clower: Rat Killin'

Let's hear once again from Jerry Clower, Mississippi's gift to the world's sense of humor.  This is another story featuring Uncle Versie Ledbetter, but not as the major character.  It is a sad commentary on the human race that Clower is so overlooked, while so many people salivate over filthy-minded zeroes like Kathy Griffin and Eddie Murphy.....

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Rhapsody on a Windy Night"

It's time for another of the very finest, most impressionistic poems of T. S. Eliot, probably the greatest poet of the 20th century. People often ask of Eliot's verses, "What does it mean?" That's largely open to interpretation, and, more than 90 years after its publication in 1920, the real answer is another question: "What does it mean to you?" Critics can give us valuable insights into the forms and techniques used by any poet, but the final interpreter is often the reader. If this one sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because it was used in the song "Memory," from the Broadway musical Cats. But Eliot, who wrote a book of children's poems about cats, probably wasn't thinking of them when he wrote this. Don't invest too much energy in trying to "figure it out:" just let the words wash over you, and move you in ways that only you can be moved.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Battle

"And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him" (Mark 9:26).

 Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not "born again" into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest.





"Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene'er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!

"Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!"




(from Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman, 1925)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pollard: enough is enough!

Unless there is a last-minute change, this coming Monday, November 21 will mark the beginning of Jonathan Pollard’s 27th year in an American prison for passing classified information to Israel.


The current time period, known as “the holiday season” in the United States, is also the time when the U.S. President traditionally grants pardons and shortens prison sentences. This has led the organizations working to free Pollard to redouble their efforts these days, in hopes that a really strong effort might finally bring about Pollard’s release.

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“In the past year, many former officials and other people who know a lot about the case, even people who were against Pollard’s release in the past, have said that enough is enough,” Adi Ginzburg of Justice for Jonathan Pollard told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday. “We know about James Woolsey, we know about Kissinger and Shultz.”

“We know that the support for Pollard has increased among the Jewish leaders and the Jewish community because everyone agrees that enough is enough,” he added.


Ginzburg spoke of the recent statement made by Vice President Joe Biden, who said that President Obama had considered freeing Pollard but that he (Biden) refused to allow it and said, “Over my dead body… If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.” Ginzburg said that many people were angered by these statements and noted that while Biden said he was willing to meet with Jewish-American leaders about this issue, a meeting has yet to be scheduled.


“More than a month and a half have passed but this meeting hasn’t taken place yet,” Ginzburg said. “We really hope it happens soon because it will allow Jewish leaders to give all the arguments and all the reasons that Jonathan Pollard should be released.”


One initiative that has recently taken place is in the form of a letter sent to Obama by bereaved families who lost loved ones to terror acts in Israel and who recently saw their loved ones’ murderers being released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.


In the letter, which was signed both by families who were against the Shalit deal as well as those who were in favor of it, the families tell Obama that if they were able to pay such a high personal price to save Shalit, they are sure that he can find it in himself to save Pollard for no price at all.


Ginzburg emphasized that now is the time for everyone to raise their voices and demand that the American government free Pollard.


“Today is the time for everyone, especially in the United States, to raise their voice and ask their community leaders and representatives to do the right thing and have this tragedy come to and end,” he said.



(Text courtesy of Israel National News, by Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski, 11.17.2011)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Studies in Islam: Monkeys, apes, and pigs

Anyone who's studied "the religion of peace" very much has heard that the Muslims' "holiest" texts, the Koran and Hadiths, refer repeatedly to Jews and Christians as the descendants of monkeys, apes, and pigs.  But the "moderate" Muslims, i.e., the ones who either don't know their own religion, or are lying about it, deny this.  They tell us that the "sacred texts" can never be understood properly by reading them in translation, because only "the original Arabic" is inspired.  (This sounds very much like certain Christians yammering about "the original Greek," but most Christians don't disavow other translations.) In any case, I thought, in continuing with the animal analogy, that we'd simply cut through the doubletalk, and go straight to the horse's mouth.  Here are the scholarly, scientific reflections of two Muslim "experts" who are quite familiar with the Arabic texts:

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Hmmm.  For a minute, I thought that Dr. Al-Sattar was going to say that the animal references were used metaphorically; but no, we're dealing with Muslims here, who wouldn't know a metaphor if it crept into bed with them.  He finishes up by saying "they are, indeed, the descendants of apes and pigs, as the Koran teaches us."  Well!  I guess that puts me in my place, huh?  I'm a believer in God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. Should I go eat a banana, or try to root up some truffles?

Let's get a second opinion, shall we?

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"The offspring of pigs and apes."  Yikes.  If such a hybrid exists, I hope it never wanders into my front yard!

This sacreligious nonsense is amusing, but it ceases to be funny when you realize that this is the crap they're teaching their youngest and most innocent children.  I've posted this video before, but it deserves a second viewing. I'm a grandfather, and this precious, pathetic child will grow up alongside my grandchildren.  (Please notice that even she says that the apes and pigs idea comes from the Koran: she's been indoctrinated very precisely.) If you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jimmy Wilde: the greatest of them all

As the boxing world mourns the recent loss of Joe Frazier, and anticipates the third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez,* I thought it might be interesting to step away from the headlines for a moment, and remember the career of the man many consider to be the best pound for pound fighter of all time.  I refer to Jimmy Wilde of Wales, undisputed Flyweight Champion of the World from 1916-1923.




The best introduction to Wilde, who stood 5'2" and never weighed over 110 pounds, is simply his career record. Although the official record books show 134-145 fights in a pro career lasting only 13 years, the actual number is probably 153.  He won 137. He lost four; the others were draws or "no decisions."  A number of these fights were to heavier Bantamweights. 100 of his victories came by way of knockout.


No modern fighter can claim such a record of sheer activity - - - although, in fairness, this is partly because modern boxers are not allowed to fight as often as they might choose. Joe Louis' pro career consisted of  67 fights: 64 wins, three losses. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated after 49 fights. Muhammad Ali's record was 61 fights: 56 wins, four losses.  Roy Jones Jr., who may be the most naturally gifted boxer of the modern era, fought 62 times, scoring 54 victories.  Only Julio Caesar Chavez, with 115 fights and 107 wins, can approach Wilde's record, and the approach is not close.


Wilde was known to sportswriters and fans as "The Mighty Atom," or "The Ghost with a Hammer in His Hand."  The latter nickname came from Wilde's elusive style: he could slip a punch like no fighter before or since.  (Get outta here, Floyd Mayweather Jr.: you're a brontosaurus compared to Wilde.) Even the fastest fighters were astonished when they threw their best, sneakiest shots, and suddenly Wilde's head simply moved a fraction of an inch out of their reach.  They called him a ghost for a reason.  As for the "hammer in his hand," his 100 knockouts might explain that part.


The son of a Welsh miner, Wilde began boxing all comers at the age of sixteen.  It's been estimated that he fought around 500 bouts before turning pro, and routinely knocked our tough miners weighing as much as 175 pounds.  In addition to his inexpicable punching power, he had an unorthodox stance and an unpredictable style that baffled the best fighters of his day.


The names of his opponents don't mean much today, but they shouldn't be forgotten. Wilde fought such men as Young Jennings, Joe Symonds, Tancy Lee, Young Zulu Kid, and (obviously) many others. These men were not tin cans.  And these were not ten or twelve round fights, as we see today; they often went for 20 rounds or more, although most were stopped long before that by a Wilde knockout.


In 1921, Wilde was stopped in 17 rounds by the American bantamweight Pete Herman. For a long time after that fight, he suffered head pains, and finally decided to retire .... until he was offered $60,000 to fight the ferocious Filipino-American, Pancho Villa. At the age of 31, Wilde and Villa (who was much shorter, but much stronger, and ten years younger) stepped into the ring at the Polo Grounds in New York City, before a crowd of 10,000 fans.




In Round One, Villa attacked with everything he had, and the old Ghost managed to minimize the damage.  Both men were stunned by heavy blows in Round Two.  Then the bell rang, and the round was over.  But Villa proceeded to land a crashing blow to Wilde's head after the bell had sounded. This horrendous foul, which was somehow unseen by Referee Patsy Haley, was (I believe) unintentional.  Nevertheless, the damage had been done. As the fans screamed for Villa to be disqualified,  Wilde hung on until Round Seven, when he was floored by a left hook, and carried unconscious from the ring.  Villa was proclaimed the victor, over the fans' outrage.


Wilde was unconscious for hours.  When Villa visited him in his dressing room, he broke down and wept over the damage he had done.  Eventually, Wilde regained semi-consciousness, but it was three weeks before he could even recognize his wife, who was at his side constantly.  He never fought again, although he lived until 1969.  Ironically, Villa died two years after their fight, from blood poisoning caused by an abscessed tooth.


Wilde was inducted into the original class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  The Ring magazine has named him the third greatest puncher of all time, and the Number One Flyweight of All Time.  Pancho Villa is rated second.


Although much has been said of Wilde,  Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney simply said, "Jimmy was the greatest fighter I have ever seen."




*The third Pacquiao-Marquez fight, on Nov. 12, 2011, resulted in one of the most outrageous, corrupt decisions in recent memory.  Marquez won the fight, but the depraved Las Vegas judges awarded it to Pacquiao.  Jimmy Wilde would never have stood for anything like this.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pakistani Actress Thumps on the Mullahs

Veena Malik is a television and film actress from Pakistan, who has had a very successful career, primarily because she's easy on the eyes: she may or may not have much talent.  But she has become known as one of the voices of "liberal Islam," as if there were such a thing.  Obviously, "liberal Islam" is merely a cultural construct, since any believing Muslim is required to be about as "liberal" as Genghis Khan.  Ms. Malik has appeared in a number of Indian productions, which has infuriated Pakistan's mullahs, given the horrendous and historic border dispute between the two countries.  Ms. Malik appeared on an Indian "reality show" entitled "The Big Boss," in which a group of housemates were gradually voted off the show, much like certain American and British programs.  This was too much for the mullahs.  Veena Malik is not my idea of a heroine, nor would I want my daughter and granddaughters to view her as a "role model," but in this video, she puts one of the mullahs in his place, and it will undoubtedly be regarded as her finest hour.  Good for her!

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Veena Malik hot

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jerry Clower: Uncle Versie & the Gambler

It's been a while since we had a good laugh in this blog (other than when considering the claims of Islam, that is), so perhaps it's time to hear once again from the late Jerry Clower, a genuine folk humorist, original and clean, who was offering authentic, recognizable sketches of the American South before Jeff Foxworthy ever heard (and capitalized on) the word "redneck."  Judging from his comedy routines, Foxworthy's concept of the South comes from clichés he's heard from scalawags and carpetbaggers.  Jerry Clower is the real thing.  I hope you enjoy it!


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Hymn to God the Father"

There are moments in literature when a verse of poetry, or a passage of prose, captures the reader's experiences and thoughts so perfectly that it resonates with the clarity of a bell at midnight.  That's literature at its very finest.  This poem, by John Donne, has always caused a "shock of recognition" to run through me that almost renders me speechless.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"A God Who Hates"

"A woman is only a woman," wrote Rudyard Kipling, "but a good Cigar is a Smoke." These words, from his tongue in cheek poem "The Betrothed," express a grand and exalted view of womanhood, compared to that of the savage "religion" of Islam.  No ideology in the history of humanity is more deeply and genuinely misogynistic than the religion of Muhammad.

Once again, we hear from the great Wafa Sultan.  In this brief speech, she is basically plugging her book, A God Who Hates, but also telling of the heartrending experiences of her grandmother - - - and of her own American-born daughter's inability to comprehend such things.  The speech is followed by a brief question and answer session, in which Dr. Sultan expresses her very interesting opinions regarding the state of Israel.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Miss USA vs. the Police State, Part II

Several months ago, we looked at the case of Susie Castillo, the former "Miss USA" who had been sexually molested by agents of the Transportation Security Administration at the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.  Ms. Castillo's case has received widespread attention, although not from the agency responsible, and it seems that an update might be timely.  

Ms. Castillo's original description of her ordeal, which went viral on the Internet, may be found in our earlier post, here.  But after making that video, Ms. Castillo did not go gently into that good night of police state harassment and intimidation; in fact, although she has a busy modeling and performing career, she has continued to speak out on the erosion of personal privacy and civil liberties in the United States.  Here, she is interviewed on the NBC "Today" show:

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One of the saddest parts of this brief interview were Ms. Castillo's final words.  Unfortunately, she's right: this is not merely an issue facing Americans.   If you live in another country, and plan to visit the United States, you should be aware that you are entering a police state, and be prepared to sacrifice your liberty and privacy any time a government employee demands that you do so.

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It is not my intention to portray Susie Castillo as a "victim" in these posts (although she is a victim); to her credit, she has courageously thrust that role aside, and is taking the battle to the powers that be.  Neither am I attempting to make her a heroine.  My heroines are people like Dr. Wafa Sultan and Margaret Thatcher.  Ms. Castillo appears to be a pleasant young woman who is engaged in some pursuits that would not be suitable for a Christian lady, such as posing (clothed, not nude) in a certain "men's magazine."  But even if she were a professional whore, which she is not, she should not be molested by strangers, most especially those claiming to be "protecting" her.  Her treatment by the TSA was and remains an outrage.

Cynics, of course, could dismiss her battle against the TSA as a publicity stunt.  Two things mitigate against that notion.  First, she is a successful television performer and cosmetics spokesperson, and doesn't need political controversy.  Second, and infinitely more important, is the fact that she's not the only one telling such a story.  The media, and especially the Internet, is full of stories of women, children, the elderly, and even handicapped people being manhandled by TSA agents.  It is a scandal that has been declaimed in the United States Congress, and will probably be an issue in the upcoming Presidential campaign. 

And what of the TSA agents themselves, the ones who will either irradiate you and your children, or grope you, next time you use a major American airport?  Many are decent people merely doing a job.  Others are .... something else.

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One bad apple, it is said, doesn't spoil the whole barrel.  But one wonders: how many bad apples does it take, before the barrel is discarded?  Remember, we are not talking about pencil-pushers at a desk in some hidden agency; these people literally handle our bodies, if we choose to utilize the public airways.

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It must be pointed out that the men in the above stories have not yet been convicted of the charges against them.  In criminal matters, we simply must believe in the presumption of innocence, and I hope that both of these men are exonerated, if innocent.

But shouldn't the presumption of innocence also apply outside a courtroom?  In an airline terminal, perhaps?  Or should every citizen be treated as a criminal simply for having the temerity to want to travel? 

Miss USA molested


IPDATE: I was mistaken in my prediction: the TSA never became a major issue in the 2012 Presidential election campaigns.  To the best of my knowledge, the only candidate who even mentioned the issue in passing, in one of the endless television debates, was Ron Paul; but he didn't mention it very often.  The American people have made their choice between inconvenience and servitude, and servitude has carried the day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Without one plea

One of the most beloved hymns of the Christian faith, and one of its most familiar, is, paradoxically, one of its least known.  The hymn "Just As I Am," sung here by the incomparable Mahalia Jackson, is included in virtually every Christian hymnal, but not in its entirety: most hymnals contain only four verses, and the song actually contains seven. Most Christians have never heard the entire song.

The story behind the song, in the words of the great Christian devotional writer Watchman Nee:

The story of Charlotte Elliott's protracted struggle against the oppressive power of sin provides a helpful lesson to Christians and non-Christians alike. At an early age, Charlotte began to be aware of her sinful nature and of her impotence to resist sin's enticements. Growing up, Charlotte felt herself increasingly unworthy of God's grace and incapable of facing a perfect and righteous God. She visited many churches and solicited the help of many pastors, all of whom counseled her simply to pray more, to study the Bible more, to perform more noble deeds, and to resolve to do better. However, all the advice she received was unavailing. For seven or eight more years, Charlotte continued struggling in vain against sin, all the while mired in self-condemnation. She experienced at length the despondency of the human condition described in Romans 7:18: “I know that in me…nothing good dwells; for to will [the good] is present with me, but to work out the good is not.”

 After some time, Charlotte Elliott met an eminent preacher named Dr. Caesar Malan. This encounter would prove to be a great turning point in Charlotte's life. She asked him, as she had asked many others, how she might be saved. Sensing the enormous burden weighing upon her conscience, Malan responded compassionately, “Go to God just as you are.” Charlotte asked him incredulously, “Do I not have to do better, make more progress, and improve more before I believe in the Lord Jesus?” Malan simply repeated this simple, priceless phrase: “You must come to Him just as you are.” These few liberating words of fellowship had a deep and indelible effect on Charlotte Elliott and would later inspire the composition of her best-known hymn, “Just as I Am.”

The song was written in 1835. I regret that Mahalia Jackson's rendition doesn't include all seven verses, but it's the most authentic version I could find, and her rendition is as pitch-perfect as ever. 

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Just as I am, without one plea,
 But that thy blood was shed for me,
 And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not,
 To rid my soul of one dark blot,
 To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, tho' tossed about,
 With many a conflict, many a doubt,
 Fightings within and fears without,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind,
 Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
 Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
 Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
 Because Thy promise I believe,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Thy love unknown,
 Hath broken every barrier down;
 Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, of that free love
 The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
 Here for a season, then above,
 O Lamb of God, I come, I come!