Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Milton Mayer: Understanding Nazis

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

I've been greatly moved by a book I just read, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45, by journalist and academic Milton Mayer.

Mayer wrote that in 1935 he'd unsuccessfully requested an interview with the new Chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler.  But after the war he'd come to see that "...Nazism was a mass movement and not the tyranny of a diabolical few over helpless millions.  Then I wondered if Adolf Hitler was, after all, the Nazi I wanted to see.  By the time the war was over I had identified my man: the average German."

Knowing there was no such person, Mayer set out in 1950 to live in Germany for a year, and get to know Germans who had lived through the Nazi years.  He settled in Marburg (called "Kronenburg" in the book), a university-town of 42,000 in Hesse, central West Germany (at the time).  His intention was to develop a friendship with the ordinary men he met there, and get to know them in friendly visits to their homes, and their visits to his.  Mayer wrote that he wanted "...to bring back to America the life-story of the ordinary German under National Sicialism..."

He was aware that there would be problems in befriending Germans.  First that he was an American, whose troops occupying West Germany were widely seen as "conquerors:" and second that he was Jewish, though he'd become a Quaker.  For purposes of befriending people in Marburg and encouraging them to be candid in their conversations with him, he didn't divulge his ancestry.

Mayer felt he succeeded in developing a friendship with the ten ordinary Marburgers on whom the book is based, except perhaps one.  They were deliberately a mixed group: a teacher, a tailor, a butcher, a local policeman.  Mixed too in their acceptance of Nazism.

One had been a local Nazi leader: all the others had only joined the party in connection with their jobs.  The local leader was later convicted of involvement in the burning of the city's synagogue, and served prison-time.  For all the others, the evil that befell their nation was largely tangential to their daily lives.

Beyond their culture's antipathy toward Jews, only one man admitted to participation in official anti-Semitism (before Jews were taken into "protective custody" and sent to a regional holding facility, after their synagogue was burned on Kristallnacht), saying he had passed a lifelong Jewish neighbor with only a nod, rather than his usual "Good evening, Herr Schmidt."  The policeman, ordered by state-government to assemble local Jews for transport, served them tea in his office as they came to agreement with him on their need for state protection.

Only the teacher, himself a party-member, resisted the nation's Nazi regime in any way.  Contrary to party instructions, he quietly assigned his German Literature classes a few classic works by Jewish authors.  And of all Mayer's friends, he alone expressed regrets for his tacit acceptance of Nazism.

Mayer wrote too that he also had two assets in befriending his ordinary Germans: "I really wanted to know them.  And another, acquired in my long association with the American Friends Service Committee: I really believed that there was 'that of God' in every one of them."

I was especially impessed by Mayer's "Foreword," perceptive of how absolute political evil insinuates itself into the lives of ordinary people: and prescient in its warning about that possibility in America.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"My faith found that of God in my ten Nazi friends.  My newspaper training found that of something else in them, too.  They were each of them a most marvelous mixture of good and bad impulses, their lives a marvelous mixture of good and bad acts.  I liked them.  I couldn't help it.  Again and again, as I sat or walked with one or another of my ten friends, I was overcome by the same sensation that had got the way of my newspaper reporting in Chicago years before.  I liked Al Capone.  I liked the way he treated his mother.  He treated her better than I treated mine.

"I found--and find--it hard to judge my Nazi friends.  But I confess that I would rather judge them than myself.  In my own case I am always aware of the provocations and handicaps that excuse, or at least explain, my own bad acts.  I am always aware of my good intentions, my good reasons for doing bad things.  I should not like to die tonight, because some of the things that I had to do today, things that look very bad for me, I had to do in order to do something very good tomorrow that would more than compensate for today's bad behavior.  But my Nazi friends did die tonight; the book of their Nazi lives is closed, without their having been able to do the good they may or may not have meant to do, the good that might have wiped out the bad they did.

"By easy extension, I would rather judge Germans than Americans.  Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany . . .It was what most Germans wanted--or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want.  They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

"I came back home a little afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under pressure of combined reality and illusion.  I felt--and feel-that it was not German Man that I had met, but Man.  He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions.  He might be here, under certain conditions.  He might, under certain conditions, be I.

"If I--and my countrymen--ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm.  For there is no harmthat anyone else can do to a man that he cannot do to himself, no good that he cannot do if he will.  And what was said long ago is true: Nations are made not of oak and rock but of men, and, as the men are, so will the nation be."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I also give here a quote from Mayer's Wikipedia profile.  As a "public intellectual" of his time, he was involved in various controversies.  This summary of one seems to well summarize his lifelong championing of social change:

"Before a group at a War Resisters League dinner in 1944, he denied being a pacifist, even while admitting that he was a conscientious objector to the present conflict. He opted for a moral revolution, one that was anti-capitalistic because it would be anti-materialist. About this time, he began promoting that moral revolution with his regular monthly column in the Progressive, for which he wrote the rest of his life. His essays often provoked controversy for their insistence that human beings should assume personal responsibility for the world they were creating."

                                            --  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Mayer

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, September 17, 2018

I Believe Putin

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

There was a lot of attention paid the remarks of the current president after his servile summit with Vladimir Putin last July.  His remark that United States' policy had been "foolish" before he was president, for one.

Also his remark that "I don't see any reason why it would be Russia" who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  And his later claim that what he meant was "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Paying close attention to any of the current president's remarks only means you get a better view of the stupidity and lies that are obvious on the surface.

But the most interesting comment in that press conference was Vladimir Putin's:

Q    "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election?  And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

PRESIDENT PUTIN:  (As interpreted.)  "Yes, I did.  Yes, I did.  Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."
 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-president-putin-russian-federation-joint-press-conference/)

The U.S. president had just bragged about his Electoral College numbers to claim again there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia, and Putin had backed him up by saying charges of collusion were "nonsense.

But Putin probably couldn't have done otherwise than admit that he wanted his toady to be president of the United States..  Everyone already knew that; and everyone already knew Putin had directed his government's officials to help the current president win the election.  (And everybody remembered the current president's campaign speech asking Russian hackers to find Hilary Clinton's 30,000 e-mails.)

So I think we have to believe Putin's statements that he wanted the current president to be elected, and directed his government to help make that happen. But I think we can discount what Putin says was his motive, a "normal relationship" between the U.S. and Russia.

It's evident that Putin's motives are always, and only, about increasing his own power; in Russia, and in the world.  His only interest in America is that a strong America is a check on his power.

So we'd be foolish to believe Putin wants a "normal relationship" with America.  Putin's real desire has always been that America be too weak to stand in his way.

Putin wanted Americans to elect a person who would weaken America.  He directed his government, especially his government's hackers, to help make that happen.  And the current president invited the hackers to help him get elected.

The current president got what he wanted.  And Putin got what he wanted.

Jesus cited the Law, that every fact should be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:16).  I have to wonder if that applies here, in the negative.  When two liars swear there is "no collusion," should we take that as proof there was collusion ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Prayer for Syria and America

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Listening to the news this morning, I felt I had to stop and pray for the Syrians trapped in the last province held by al-Assad rebels.  The news this morning, and for the last few days, is ominous.  Government forces, with their Russian and Iranian allies, seem poised to crush the last rebel stronghold in Idlib province.

Of course only a few of the several million people in Idlib are armed rebels.  The vast majority are non-combatants.  The number of non-combatants in the province has been increased by the probably-million refugees who have fled there to escape previous war-zones.

It's not clear whether or not Turkey will accept more hundreds of thousands of fleeing Syrians when the government offensive begins.  It seems fairly clear that the world community will really do nothing to stop the offensive, although one NGO has characterized Idlib as a "death-trap" for those living there.

It's those non-combatants and refugees, families and women and children, I'm praying for.

I'm not at all praying for the politics of the situation.  Politics created the situation: why do we think politics will heal it ?  And how much is a prayer that "our side" win in accordance with God's heart: especially in a war, when we're asking Him to kill a bunch of people we don't like ?  Realizing in his Psalms David did so, his prayers were usually based on the fact those people were enemies of God, which was the reason they afflicted God's people.

We already know how God has said He will deal with His enemies (whom we should also consider our enemies): the only question is when.  I doubt we're out-of-line to ask Him to bring His righteous judgement on His enemies, crushing them so completely and quickly that His absolute sovereignty is manifest, and praised, by all who see.

That's quite a different prayer than, "God, kill those people I don't like."

Bashar al-Assad has been a worse ruler than most, for a long time.  Even at his best, he was contemptuous of God's command that a ruler be "a minister of God for good" to his subjects.  And when his hold on power was threatened, he showed himself ready to bomb and poison-gas his own people indiscriminately...children and mothers and families along with those in armed rebellion against him.

There's probably no greater measure of the man's evil than that hospitals were especially targeted by al-Assad's forces.  Even when we saw videos of horribly-wounded people and children gasping for air laying in the halls of medical facilities, doctors could do little to help as medical supplies dwindled under al-Assad's blockade of rebel areas.  His war-policy was to destroy even those facilities, to ensure there be no hope whatever for his victims.  Policy also to follow a bombing with a second bombing when medical personnel came out to treat the victims of the first.

In one sense, the current president of the United States is pursuing a similar policy.  His attacks on Truth extend to those whose work is to heal the wounds he inflicts: "the failing New York Times," and all "the fake media," that accurately report his words are lies.

After Bob Woodward's recent book detailing the danger and idiocy he's made of the presidency, he's renewed his call for libel laws that would enable him to sue anyone who publishes stories "told to make the president look bad."  And no doubt his followers, like al-Assad's, will follow his evil orders.

I doubt they will succeed: God guarantees evil will not triumph.  But sometimes He waits for evil men to fill "the cup of His wrath" to the brim before He unleashes His judgement on them.  He may do so in Syria, and He may do so in America.

But however and whenever God destroys the murderers and liars, the children of satan (John 8:44) who seek to kill men or kill truth, and seek even to kill those who would heal the wounded, God's righteous rule will be glorified, and His Name will be praised by all who see it.

May all God's people pray with David,

"Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate Him flee before Him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish before God.

But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God;Yes, let them rejoice with gladness."

Psalms 68:1-3


                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Saturday, September 08, 2018

You Can't Cheat An Honest Man

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

The old con-man's maxim is "you can't cheat an honest man."  People get sucked into a con by their own dishonesty; usually a desire for money, even if the opportunity is slightly shady.  In the BBC TV comedy Hustle, the con-artists' motto is to "find a man who wants something for nothing, and give him nothing for something."

Honest people, approached by a con-man claiming he'd found a bank-deposit someone had lost on the street, don't agree they should split it; even when the grifter points out that no one will ever know, and the person who lost it will probably be reimbursed by an insurance-company.  An honest person's first, and unshakable, response is to return the money to the person who lost it.

That's the classic con called the "pigeon drop."  There's a memorable example in the first scenes of The Sting.  James Earl Jones and Robert Redford play it to perfection on a numbers-runner from Doyle Lonnegan's gang.  (And James Earl Jones finds there are dire consequences for conning another criminal.)

You can't cheat an honest man.

The flip side of that coin is that you can't (or it's extremely difficult to) convince the dishonest of the truth.  They always suspect that everyone has a shady intent to take advantage of other people...like they themselves do.

My friend Mike Baker told me his dad always said that all politicians were out to get rich at the public's expense.  Mike said he challenged his dad once, that "You don't know that's true."  His dad replied, "Of course it's true.  I would if I could."

One of Mike's favorite phrases was "irrefutable logic."  It was usually his jocular way of throwing up his hands, when someone's self-deluded certainty made them immune to reason. That was how he characterized his dad's cynical view of politicians; and it's the "irrefutable logic" of the dishonest.

The dishonesty they share with the con-man can even produce a kind of Stockholm Syndrome: the deceived can come to identify with their deceiver.  Satan can't really make anyone follow him: and he doesn't have much to offer those who do, except the utter destruction God promises to evil-doers.  But satan doesn't have to argue us into following him.  In the absence of the Holy Spirit, he finds a room already prepared for him, and a family-welcome.

It's probably the only way satan can have children.  That may be be what had happened with those Jesus said in John 8:44 had the spirit of satan in their hearts, and called children of satan.

That seems to be what happened with supporters of the current president  Their politics already had a large component of dishonesty, and the deceiver was able to exploit what was in their hearts to his advantage.  Over the course of time, many who at first had to be deceived to follow him have come to follow him willingly, because they identify with him.

Truth is a hard sell to people with Stockholm Syndrome, who make themselves oblivious to the fact that they're being held prisoner by a criminal.

Knowing the truth, acknowledging the truth, would set the captives free.  We have Jesus' word on that (John 8:32).  But the con-man's coin has two side.  You can't cheat an honest man.  And you can't free a dishonest man from the lies he wants to believe.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Cui Bono ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

The Church in America has so long understood "conservative" as an approximation of "good," in its theological thinking and its thinking about human government, that the Church has come to believe it's so.  Infinitely worse, the Church has come to act as if it's so.

It's an amazing thing.  Those who say they believe that God's word is sovereign law...that He Himself Alone IS Good, and Alone determines and judges what is good and evil...believe that what is "conservative" is "good:" and act in that belief without God's least attestation that it is so.

That moral substitution has taken strongest root in the Church' theological and political thinking...the very parts of our operative thinking which Christ, our God and our King, claims are His.

How could this have happened ?  Cui bono ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Friday, August 31, 2018

An Appreciation: Kenneth Boulding

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

I think I first ran across Kenneth Boulding's writings doing research for a paper in a library-school class.  His insights went quite beyond the scope of whatever my paper was about, and I had to rush on and finish the paper.  But I went back to read more of Boulding afterwards, very surprised I'd never heard of someone who seemed such a seminal thinker.

I remember mentioning some of Boulding's ideas to my friend Mike Baker, who lived in Colorado Springs.  To my astonishment, Baker had met him a few times at Quaker meetings.  Boulding was still alive at the time, and teaching at the University of Colorado. His faith was central in his thought throughout his life, and he was a dedicated Quaker and proponent of peace.

Boulding repeatedly took public stands for peace.  When the Edinburgh Friends meeting petitioned the Prime Minister in 1936 to disclaim the "war guilt" clauses of the Versailles Treaty in the interests of a more just peace with Germany, Boulding, a new professor at the University, was chosen to draft the document.  His Wikiquote page says he "... regarded his involvement in the founding of the Journal of Conflict Resolution and the International Peace Research Association as important lifetime achievements" (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kenneth_Boulding).

Though he became one of the leading economic theorists of the twentieth century, Boulding's undergraduate work had been cross-disciplinary, in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.  His thinking remained cross-disciplinary throughout his life.

Even as he rose to the top of that field, Boulding criticized "economics" for its autonomous purview.  The trouble with economics, he wrote, is that “economics deals with the behavior of commodities rather than with the behavior of men.”  (He also memorably criticized "pure" economics with his observation that "Mathematics brought rigor to Economics. Unfortunately, it also brought mortis.”)

His lifelong effort was to lay a foundation for models that would allow us to integrate our thinking about man's political and social behavior with economics.  In that effort, Boulding became an early practitioner of, and influence on, systems-theory and what we now call cybernetics.

In his last book, Three Faces of Power, Boulding brought together his thoughts about the structure of human power.  He saw "threat" power as directive, the decision-making power of societies, primarily through politics and institutions.  Supporting it is the "economic" power of society's production and exchange of commodities, by which it supplies its material needs. 

Boulding's third power he called "integrative," the power of relationships.  In his thinking, it is the context in which human power originates, and for which it operates. He wrote that “integrative power [is] the ultimate power…[and} the most fundamental form of integrative power is the power of love.”  (Three Faces of Power, pp. 109-10).  That sentence captures perfectly the deeply humanitarian and deeply Christian essence of all of Boulding's thought.

Boulding's own work was notable for the integrative power he valued.  He was twice nominated for the Nobel Committee's consideration: once for his work in economics, and once for the peace prize.
   
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What Happened, America ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

When he was informed just before a 1968 campaign rally that Martin Luther King had been assassinated, Robert Kennedy told the waiting crowd the news, and made a heart-felt extemporaneous speech.  In that speech, he said,

"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country…”

Kennedy put into words what all of us desired for America in 1968, that our country would live in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings.  But many Americans  today ridicule that kind of talk as unrealistic, just "p.c." garbage spouted by "elitists" and “liberals" like Kennedy.

Todays' leading politicians are contemptuous of that kind of "political correctness."  They also despise "elitists" and "liberals."  Indeed, contempt for righteousness, and hatred for others, is how they say they will "make America great again."

This is not a political change.  This is a profound spiritual change.

How did America lose its soul ?

America's "Christians," who love political deceivers more than Jesus' teachings, bear a large part of the blame, and the shame, for the profound spiritual harm that's been done to our country.

America's "Christians" must repent.  America's "Christians" must deeply repent.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What Jesus Says About Panhandling

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

I occasionally listen to a radio talk-show on a local NPR station: a real talk-show, where normal, intelligent people honestly discuss local events and issues without rancor, and welcome call-in comments and questions.

The subject today was a proposed anti-panhandling ordinance.  And of course the host and all of his guests referred to their personal experience with panhandlers.  We've all had personal experience with panhandlers.

Not that any of the panelists were anti-panhandler.  No one said they'd ever felt threatened or harassed by panhandlers; and all agreed that the proposed ordinance was primarily intended to ensure the free flow of traffic, on both streets and sidewalks.

What most caught my interest was the panelists' discussion of how they reacted to panhandlers.  They all agreed that many were people who needed some help through a difficult time.  And no one doubted that some panhandlers chose to beg rather than work.

All the panelists (whatever "liberal" or "conservative" attitudes they'd evinced in discussing the ordinance) said they sometimes gave money to panhandlers.  And for all of them, their decision to give or not give was based on their perception of how "deserving" the panhandler was: their best guess whether s/he was genuinely a person who needed a little help in tough circumstances...or a "mooch," taking advantage of other people's good intentions.

I was thinking that Jesus' saved us making that difficult call.  His command to "give to everyone who asks of you" (Luke 6:30; also Matthew 5:42) pretty well covers it.  But in spite of Jesus' command, I've heard many Christians agonizing over whether they did the right thing or not by giving money to a panhandler.

When I hear Christians dealing with that question, there's always some of the same concern that the radio-panelists had, whether the panhandler is "deserving" or not.  But it's not a concern Christians should have.  Jesus sets His command in the context of God's grace, "... so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45).

Jesus says God gives His gifts to deserving and undeserving people, and his sons do likewise.  His Son Jesus said His Own purpose was to do what He saw the Father doing.  Giving to all who ask is an opportunity for us to be a son of God, like Jesus was.

It's always impressed me that God is Creator and Ruler of time, as well as of the space of Creation.  My experience is that He rules very directly and very personally in our lives daily by His rule of space and time, in the opportunities he creates for us that way.  (And don't we actually rather trivialize God if we only credit Him with spectacular works like the Grand Canyon, and not the everyday circumstances of our own lives ?)

We all can think of incidents in our lives when, if we had not been at the exact place at the exact time we were...if we had started from home two minutes sooner than we did, or not impulsively dashed into the hardware store on our way to the library...our lives would have been different, perhaps dramatically so.  God's rule of time and space in our lives creates opportunities for us, often opportunities to meet people we might otherwise never run into.  We've all heard stories...or perhaps lived them...in which such an unlikely "chance" meeting results in a marriage, or business-partnership, or lifelong friendship.

I don't have anecdotal evidence any of those things have resulted from an encounter with a panhandler (though they may have).  But every person we ever meet, however briefly, is a unique spiritual being of God's creation, in whose heart He has set eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  Meeting one...even one who is panhandling...is a one-time opportunity God has commanded time and space to create for us.  And Jesus says the greatest opportunity we ever have is to show ourselves sons of our Father.

Christians have no reason to agonize over whether someone is "deserving" or not.  Nobody is.  And the religious-sounding argument I often hear, that "God wants us to be good stewards of what He's given us," often betrays the idea that what He gives us, He gives into our command.  He doesn't.

Our faith is that Jesus is in command.  And Jesus commands us to give to everyone who asks.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, August 27, 2018

Patrick Hawthorne's "Has the Separation Begun ?"

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Sometimes it takes me a loooooong time to see simple things.  Sometimes I even need some help.

Patrick Hawthorne, a blogger in Shreveport whom I sometimes read, helped me with this one in his post "Has the Separation Begun ?" (https://servinggrace.com/2017/10/13/has-the-separation-begun/)

Even so, I had to read it twice to get it: once last year when he posted it, and then this week, when God again (after He'd given me  a year's more instruction) highlighted it again.

Patrick's scripture was Ephesians 5:27: …that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Actually, I should say Patrick's mom helped me, as she helped him, to an understanding.  When he was discussing that scripture with her, she (paraphrased) asked him, “Did you know that the spots and blemishes of the Church are people?" and directed him to II Peter 2:12-13:

“But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you..."

When the Church is presented to Jesus as His Bride, she will have no spots or wrinkles: the corrupt and deceived people who had attached themselves to the Church will have been removed.

I can't think of any scriptures that more clearly point to the "dividing" of the Church that God's had me meditating on.  The spots and blemishes are people currently in the Church, who will be removed from the Church.  The people of the Church will be divided: some will stay, and some will go.

In his graciousness, I doubt God will drive out those who leave, anymore than He condemns people to hell.  As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it."

I have to think the "spots and blemishes" God removes from the Church will similarly choose it for themselves.  I have to think the evil-speaking, corrupt, carousers and deceivers, the unrighteous who presently infest the Church will...by God's will, and with His affirmation...willfully separate themselves from the Church.

So it was in Jesus' earthly ministry: He had to deal with people who were "spots and blemishes" among those "who had believed Him" (John 8:31-59).  There was no angry command that they "Get out!!," and no need for the whip He had used earlier on the money-changers in the Temple.  He simply revealed what was in their own hearts, for that was what made them "spots and blemishes."

Jesus said their hearts showed satan was their father: that their love of lies and murder was proof they were satan's own  (v. 44).  By the end of the conversation, they had angrily rejected Him, rained insults on Him, and were ready to kill Him...which was exactly what He'd said was in their hearts.

Ideally, those who who are the "spots and blemishes" on the Church today would similarly find themselves uncomfortable (at the very the least) among people who follow Jesus because they love Him and want to hear His words.  When He says that satan is "the father of lies" and "the murderer," and that those who are satan's children show it by their love satan's ways, how could they not realize He sees, and is revealing, their hearts ?  Doesn't Jesus' word, like His sight, still pierce to men's hearts ?

But the "spots and blemishes" among us feel entirely comfortable in today's political "Church."  Why should they leave ? Their love for lies and murder (which Jesus defines in Matthew 5:21-2 as angry contempt for others) are acceptable among many: are indeed laudable marks of loyalty to the liars and murderers whom the political "Church" follows.

The people whom Jesus recognized as "spots and blemishes" will be cleansed from the Church of which He is the Head.  I can only expect...and hope...that a "Church" like today's in America, so completely turned from Christ that it embraces the ways of the enemy, is due a very great cleansing.

I hope any readers who have been carried by their politics into satan's anti-Church will examine their hearts, and turn back to the Church God is preparing His Son, holy, and without blemish.

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.'  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
(Revelation 22:20.) 

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Counsel of the Wicked

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the way of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
     (Psalms 1:1)

Tariq Aziz was Foreign Minister for Saddam Hussein.  He was spokesman for Iraq's dictator, and represented him at the U.N. and in meetings with other nations.  His thoughts and his words were always, reliably, exactly those of his boss.

It amazed me when I learned that he was born and raised a Christian, and remained a member of that (in Iraq minority) faith all his life.

When I learned that about him, I remember thinking, "How could a Christian willingly serve such an evil man, repeating his lies and justifying his murders !?!?"

So my view of Sarah Huckaby Sanders had been formed long before I saw her directing a presidential press-conference.