Monday, June 07, 2010
Smiling for Dollars
Although I am an atheist, I greatly respect the New Testament message -- so I loathe those hypocrites who clothe themselves in a Christian identity while apparently believing little or nothing in the New Testament. They are the modern-day version of the "whited sepulchres" that Jesus condemned (Matthew 23:27). So I understand the ire of Mike Adams below. There is no doubt that he knows what the Bible says and is not ashamed to mention it. -- JR
I got a lot of hate mail last week in response to my column about Joel Osteen. Much of the hate mail was from the usual sources. But much of it came from so-called conservative atheists. These conservative unbelievers thought I should stop talking about my religious views on a conservative “political” website. But I refuse to do so for two reasons: 1) Because God is a conservative. 2) Because Joel Osteen is bad for both Christianity and conservatism.
The assertion that God is a conservative may sound strange to some. But I’m completely serious. A conservative is simply one who believes that man is born with a propensity to do evil things and that this propensity has important implications for the way we govern.
For example, the conservative believes the hedonistic tendencies of all men require a strong emphasis on family values. Children must be taught such values at an early age lest their hedonistic tendencies translate into criminal conduct. This is just one of the many ways that religion and politics intersect.
Of course, the conservative also believes there must be a backup plan to prevent crime among citizens who have not internalized certain values. That backup plan involves punishment, which is swift, certain, and severe. Conservatives talk about punishment because it is necessary given the conservative view of human nature.
That same view of human nature requires that we conduct foreign policy through a position of strength. Just as we want a potential criminal to fear transgression against our laws, we want rogue nations to be fearful of the consequences of military aggression.
But the liberal will have none of this. He believes that man is innately good. Therefore, the liberal considers it the duty of the criminal justice system to “reeducate” the criminal who was doing just fine before he was corrupted by “bad” society.
Because he sees man as good, the liberal sees war as nothing more than a terrible misunderstanding. Such “misunderstandings” are best prevented by diplomacy. Bombs are not needed. We only need the United Nations (and good translators).
God is not neutral in this debate. He holds the conservative view of human nature. He is the original Author of that view. In Genesis 3, it is made abundantly clear that man will not experience utopia on this planet. Two humans cannot follow one simple rule in order to live a life of bliss on earth. Man constantly seeks to compete and to get ahead. And he trips over others in the process.
So those who assert that Jesus was a liberal (or that socialism is God’s vision for the world) are simply woefully ignorant of the scriptures. Just as God dispenses with the liberal view of human nature in Genesis 3, He provides a powerful metaphor for the futility of socialism in Genesis 11. And no subsequent verse contradicts this dire prediction of the consequences of man’s desire to reach the heavens through his own devices.
But, of course, no one seems to defer to (or even read) the Holy Bible today. America’s most influential religious leader, Oprah Winfrey, certainly does not defer to the Holy Bible. She tells audiences that Jesus was too humble to have ever claimed to be God. When she says such silly things her audience simply nods in agreement. Their Holy Bible is whatever Oprah says it shall be during that particular month.
Nor does our second most influential religious leader, Joel Osteen, defer to the Bible. He waves it above his head before he preaches. But then he sets it down and gives his message without any reference to the Word. It is no wonder that he cannot answer simple questions about the number of paths to salvation. Or, more accurately stated, that he will not answer such simple questions.
There is much wealth to be gained by taking the Word and re-writing it to suit your interests. To tell the world that Jesus was just a man who provided a good moral example is to tell them they can be like Jesus, too. People want to believe this because everyone wants to be worshipped by someone.
But to tell the world that Jesus is a God who must be relied upon for salvation is to tell them they must worship Him. That makes many people feel uncomfortable. And when you make people feel uncomfortable they are unlikely to give you money or buy your stuff.
Joel Osteen sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach the Gospel. Actually, that is a half-truth. He sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach half truths about the Gospel. They don’t like to hear about the realities of man’s sinful nature or the need for repentance. They like to hear a rich man smile and say that God wants them to be rich and happy, too. And they pay good money to hear him say that.
Joel Osteen makes millions of dollars suppressing Holy Scripture. Oprah Winfrey makes billions actually rewriting them. And the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between the current popularity of these two charlatans and the current political climate in this declining nation.
And I am left wondering why the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between his political beliefs and God’s Holy Word. I also wonder why men die to defend beliefs that will die alongside them.
The Simple Path to Middle East Peace
But one that Muslim haters won't take any time soon
Television personality Art Linkletter, who recently passed away at age 97, had the secret for achieving peace in the Middle East.
Linkletter, who experienced many setbacks and tragedies in his life, observed, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
Adherence to this simple bit of wisdom sums up why Israel has been a story of success and miracles and why the Palestinian Arabs languish.
Take the case of Gaza, that is getting so much attention now. The Israelis decided to unilaterally pull their presence out of Gaza in 2005 and turned control for its administration over to the Palestinians. It presented an opportunity for the Palestinians to show the Israelis and the world that they could govern themselves and pave a path for prosperity and peace for their people.
Were circumstances ideal? Certainly not. But that’s the point. Circumstances are never ideal. Our only choice is always, as Art Linkletter said, to “make the best of the way things turn out.”
But in a culture of blame and entitlement, your problems never get solved because they are always someone else’s fault. You can never move forward because circumstances are never ideal.
As the Israelis readied to withdraw, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister announced “We are telling the entire world, today Gaza and tomorrow Jerusalem.”
Instead of focusing on starting to build on what they had, the focus was the ongoing political agenda against the Israelis.
Soon the Palestinians were embroiled in a civil war, killing each other, until the terrorist group Hamas gained the upper hand in Gaza. Next on the agenda was smuggling in arms and shooting missiles into Israel.
Meanwhile, as result of the Israeli political decision to withdraw from Gaza, 8500 Israelis that were living there were evicted from their homes and forced to move and build new lives elsewhere.
A group of these families picked up and moved several miles inland into a barren patch of arid desert along the Gaza/Egyptian border. They used the funds the Israeli government paid them as compensation for their property to invest and build a new agricultural community in the middle of nowhere.
There are now 180 families living in Halutza (Hebrew for “pioneer”). They pipe in desalinated water from the Mediterranean coast, fertilize the sand, and grow produce. Today, five years after being evacuated from Gaza, they are exporting $50 million dollars a year of organic potatoes, carrots, and peppers from their new community.
Art Linkletter would call this, “making the best of the way things turn out.”
Halutza is the history of Israel in microcosm. Taking difficult and unfortunate circumstances and building anew.
Only 62 years after its founding in the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel has a per capita GDP almost on par with industrialized European nations, has the highest per capita venture capital investment in the world, and has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any non-US country.
Intel Corporation’s facility in Israel is its only microchip design facility outside the US and is responsible for the design of most Intel chips powering our personal computers today.
All this accomplished under constant siege and war because the Palestinians have rejected every proposal to live side by side since they first rejected the state they were offered by the United Nations in 1947, which gave them more territory than they claim would satisfy them today.
A culture of blame, entitlement, and hate is a path to nowhere. This is as true in the Middle East as it is in America’s inner cities, put on the government plantation years ago.
In 1957, Golda Meir, a future prime minister of Israel, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. She said, unfortunately prophetically, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
The world is still waiting.
History Returns to Europe
by Victor Davis Hanson
Walk the beautiful streets in Munich, Strasbourg and Vienna, and you can see why Europeans thought in the last decades that they had reached the end of history. There is not a soldier to be seen. Sidewalk cafes are jammed midweek with two-hour lunch-goers. Fashion, vacations and sex dominate the ads and billboards.
Bikers, electric commuter trains and tiny fuel-efficient cars zoom by in a green contrast to our gas-guzzling Tahoes and Yukons.
So naturally, there is a general sense of satisfied accomplishment among European social democrats. They believe that finally a quiet sameness across their continent has replaced two millennia of constant European warring and revolution. Now, everybody seems to get an apartment, small car, state job, good pension and peace -- and in exchange, all voice comfortable center-left consensus politics.
But beneath the genteel European Union veneer, few remembered that human nature remains constant and gives not even nice Europeans a pass from its harsh laws.
So suddenly the Greek financial meltdown, and the staggering debts that must be repaid, have alternately enraged and terrified northern European creditors. Even the most vocal Europhiles are quietly rethinking the entire premise of a European Union that offers lavish benefits but no sound method of paying for them.
After all, it is one thing to redistribute income by taking from richer Germans and Austrians to give to poorer Germans and Austrians. But it is something else for all Germans and Austrians to extend their socialist charity to siesta-taking Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. For all the lofty rhetoric of the collective European Union, age-old culture, language and nationalism still trump the ideal of continental unity.
But bickering over a trillion dollars in bad southern European debt is not the EU's only problem. Why, for example, do Europe's cradle-to-grave entitlements so often end up encouraging declining populations, atheism and lower worker productivity that is readily apparent to the casual visitor?
Perhaps if everybody ends up about the same, regardless of effort or achievement, then life must be enjoyed mostly in the here and now. Why sacrifice for children, or put something aside for heirs, or worry over a judgment in the afterlife? The more the European Union talks about its global caring, the less likely its own citizens are to have children.
It is also strange that the more Europeans flock to their ancient majestic cathedrals, splendid museums and grandiose villas and castles to satisfy an innate human desire to enjoy artistic, architectural and religious achievement, the more it is likely that they would never again build a now politically incorrect cathedral at Rouen, a Schönbrunn Palace or a castle on the Rhine.
Much is made of European multiculturalism, a willingness to allow Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and Turkey to live separate lives without assimilating fully into European society.
But such "tolerance" reflects in part a fear of radical Islam and terrorism. For all the European talk of progressive attitudes about free speech, feminism and gay rights, such principles fade quickly when radical Muslims demand Sharia law, demonize homosexuals or threaten European cartoonists and novelists. It is almost as if the more Europe takes pride in its own multiculturalism, the larger its ethnic ghettoes expand -- and the more its native populations grow bitter against the foreign-born.
Europe is a vocal member of the United Nations and other transnational organizations. But this utopian internationalism depends on the protection guaranteed by the United States and its huge military. Otherwise, there would either be costly European militaries -- or the occasional threat of attack. Europeans forgot that just because they are not looking for war, it doesn't mean that war might not look for them.
In short, as a reaction to the self-destruction of Europe in World War II and the twin monsters of fascism and communism, Europeans thought they could change human nature itself through the creation of an all-caring, all-wise European Union uber-citizen. Instead of dealing with human sins, European wise men of the last half-century would simply declare them passé.
But human-driven history is now roaring back with a fury in Europe -- from Mediterranean insolvency, to the threat of radical Islam, to demographic decline, to new international dangers on the horizon.
Only one question remains: At a time when Europe is discovering that its democratic socialism does not work, why in the world is the United States doing its best to copy it?
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 11:55 PM