"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Think A Second Time

It is only the second time since starting this blog that I have had a request to post on something.  I didn't do it the first time because I felt insufficiently moved to do a good job on it.  If there is one thing I know about blogs, it is this; if the writer is not passionate about the subject, it won't be worth reading.

In the case of the death of Osama bin-Laden, emotions apparently have been running high.  I say apparently because that seems to be what the media want  it to seem like. But ask yourself if, beyond the commentary-on-the-weather type of chit chat with folks you happened to encounter in your day back on Monday and Tuesday, how much time did you or any of those people spend celebrating or mourning the news about it?

What I found interesting about the story was how rapidly the story changed from moment to moment.  This in spite of the fact that we don't have television and don't watch the news.  I stay informed by surfing the web so I can quickly filter through all the mind numbing garbage, such as how important it was that the new princess' dress was somehow upstaged by her little sister or something to that effect.  The headlines on the Yahoo start page make my jaw drop only at their inanity and worthlessness.

The story about bin-laden is not really about his death.  What should make any thinking person sit up and take notice is how the story unfolded. What should scare the hell out of the American people is how incompetent are the people in the White House, or if it isn't incompetence, it is how stupid the American people are for not recognizing when they are being manipulated.

The request of me was to post on the apparent celebrating about the death of bin-laden by so many Americans, and supposedly Christian ones at that.  I promise I will get to that, but first, we need to think about what is really going on.  I commented at another blog because the story was still fresh when people immediately began to question whether or not bin-laden was dead and I agreed that there were too many problems with the official story and this from an administration that lies so much you can't trust them to tell you that the sky is blue.  For my opinion I was accused of wearing a tin-foil hat.  Like I care.

In just six days there have been so many changes to the story of how the operation was conducted, who saw what, and who was killed, that we now have more questions than were generated by the Kennedy assassination.  All the proof I need that idiots are in the White House is that they bragged about having OBL's computers and other informational assets.  Who in their right mind gives a terrorist enemy a complete heads-up like that?  That is black-hole stupid. (Check my glossary page.)  What you release for public consumption is that the computers and other electronic equipment and papers were destroyed by OBL's men when they heard the raid beginning and what little survived the attack didn't seem to be anything of importance.

We are told that OBL was positively identified with DNA.  We had OBL's DNA?  No.  It was DNA from a family member.  Really?  That means there are only a couple of dozen other people who could also show enough similar markers for some lab rat to claim that it was OBL.  We can't see photos.  Body has been dumped.  Yeah.  And according to some "moderate" commenting at another blog, I'm a tin-foil hat kook.  I could only be more honored if Keith Olberman would declare me the worst person in the world.

On to the issue of celebrating the death of OBL.  I find it interesting that this is now an issue when nothing much has been said since 2001 about the deaths of many, many other members of Al Qaeda.  If you are just a nameless foot soldier, it doesn't rise to the level of discussion in the media.  Why?  Because it wouldn't inflame emotions on both sides to the level that such a high profile character does.  Since at least 2006, the media has quit even pretending that they are objective.  The purpose is twofold.  Either find or create controversy to drive ratings and a statist agenda, and use their soapbox to divert attention from the truly important issues.  Bringing attention to people who seem to be chastising those who are happy that OBL is dead is a great way to rabble rouse and keep the attention on that story.  Let's get people fighting about this issue in little sound bytes that don't really solve anything but keep the attention focused on a story that ultimately has nothing to do with the more serious problems at hand.  If you haven't seen the movie, "Wag the Dog" with DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, I suggest you do.

I say that because I'm one of those people who believes that we live in a post-modern, post Christian, post enlightenment era.  Ninety percent or more of those who claim some kind of allegiance to Christianity in some form or denomination would not comprehend true allegiance to the Messiah of the Bible if they were actually confronted with it.  For the brief background on why I say that, see Why I Am Not A Christian.

What follows is my brief reply to a comment left here at the end of the post Three Days and Three Nights.

The question:  I know this is not about your above post but what do you think about all the Christians rejoicing over bin laden's death?

My reply:

Your question is something that prompts me to consider doing a multi post series on the subject.  

My initial reaction is that how much someone engages in schadenfreude tells me how much their heart belongs to Adonai.   I can be glad that OBL is dead because it means that evil may be diminished, and we are commanded to hate that which is evil, because God Himself hates what is evil.  There is absolutely no sin in rejoicing when evil is punished.  However, some people seem overly selective about which evil being overcome makes them happy.  A bigger problem is how too many people seem to think the problem lies primarily with that one man, and fail to recognize that there is a much bigger problem.  The same thing applies to Obama.  Dennis Prager pointed this out a while back.

I've always been bothered by people who take the concept of loving our enemies and praying for them to an odd extreme.  This is because, once again, "Christians" take select verses in isolation or almost in a vacuum and build doctrines around them without considering the entire Bible as our guide. 

An enemy can range from someone you are related to, with whom you don't get along with, all the way to someone who is hell-bent on destroying you.  The Psalms are full of cries for God to recompense the evil-doers.  David is described as a man after God's own heart.  God Himself said this of David.  This is why the conquering, returning Messiah in glory is known by the appellation of Meshiach ben-David.  David was a warrior who slayed thousands.  When Messiah returns it will be a blood-bath and yet, we will be expected to rejoice.  Hard to imagine.  To some, it is so unimaginable that I have heard people who claim to be Christians say that their God is not the God of the Old Testament.  How convenient.  David slayed the enemies of Israel and God empowered him to do so.  Yet, isn't it interesting that in 1 Samuel 25 we have the story that when David was about to take personal vengeance on Nabal, God put it in the heart of the beautiful and intelligent woman Abigail to intervene and get David to realize that there is a difference between carrying out God's vengeance on His behalf and acting on one's own.  All of Scripture is useful for training in righteousness.

The same God who loved us enough to come and die for us is the same God who commanded Saul to slay all the Amalekites.  Every man, woman, and child and all their livestock to be sure that all the evil would be destroyed.  I could get into the deeper reasons for such drastic action but most people just aren't ready to discuss such things. 

We are expected to study the Bible in totality in order to have wisdom when it comes to these things.  When it comes to who we should be directing our anger, I am far angrier at Bill Clinton.  It is documented fact that WJC was informed about OBL's terrorist activities and plans, and worse, he had no less than three chances to either capture or kill OBL.  These facts are so indisputable that a TV movie was made about it.  Can't remember which network.  See Richard Miniter's book, "Losing Bin-Laden."

It is hard to put all of the things I think about this situation into a few short paragraphs.

End of reply.

If we wish to be disciples of the God of the Bible, that's where we need to go for guidance.  Scripture tells me several things about this.  Starting with Noah, God gave the directive that men who commit murder are to be put to death, and that his fellow man is to carry out that sentence.  The subject is not elaborated on in Genesis, but that is true with a lot of subjects.  I can't get into the value of oral tradition for clearing this stuff up, because too many Christians are totally dismissive of the Oral Law.  This is the Midrash and is the essence of the Talmud.  It fills in a lot of the blanks that exist in Torah.  This is a very simplistic way of putting it, but it will have to do, since I don't expect many who read this blog to be scholars of Judaica.  

There is nothing in the New Testament that indicates that this has changed.  When Adonai delivered the more complete revelation of Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai, we could understand the difference between pre-meditated, malicious murder and manslaughter and provisions were made for the difference.  But God maintained that man, and especially His chosen people were to render careful and deliberate judgments.  The Biblical understanding is that God Himself allows or causes governments to be raised up and brought down as He sees fit, and that one of the purposes of government is to administer justice.  Not "social justice," which is just a euphemism for Marxist wealth redistribution.  Not welfare. Not equality of outcome.  

There is nothing wrong with rejoicing when justice is done for the sake of the innocent and for the sake of righteousness.  But if all we are doing is taking delight in revenge it would reveal a disconnect from the heart of the Creator.  Several verses point to this.  Proverbs 24:17:  "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and He turn away His anger from him."  Of course, I'll admit that the second half of that verse does make it sound like you don't want God to think you are enjoying your enemies suffering too much so that he will withdraw the punishment from your enemy, and you don't want that.  But guess what?  God already knows your heart.  If you haven't already renewed your thinking in this area, it isn't likely you are going to suddenly start.

The purpose of being a disciple is to grow closer to God and to be like Him.  What is God's opinion on this matter?  

"Do I desire at all the death of the wicked man? . . . Is it not rather his return from his ways, that he might live?" Ezekiel 18:23 (Artscroll Tanakh)  This is among many verses where God makes it clear that He wishes for man to repent and turn to righteousness so that He does not have to punish.  Some people like to cite the passages in the Old Testament which make God out to be some kind of capricious slaughterer of mankind.  The reality is that He tolerates a tremendous amount of evil before He finally gets fed up, then the critics point to the fact that He tolerates a lot of evil without doing anything.  He told Abraham in advance that his offspring would end up enslaved for four hundred years before He would do something about it.  Likewise the people living in the promised land would continue in their evil ways before He would help the Children of Israel drive them out.

Most people who claim some sort of belief in the Bible get stumped by the atheist or agnostic on the issue of evil because they are too lazy to think this issue through, to study on it, and to take advantage of all the great believing philosophers who have come before and written extensively on the subject. It is hard to write about the question of whether or not "Christians" should rejoice at the death of OBL without dealing somewhat with the question of evil itself.  In short, evil is the natural consequence of allowing for free will in both the angelic realm and in the material realm of humanity.  This is because there cannot be real love without free choice and free will.  Real love is a choice and a decision and a matter of action, not an emotion.  In fact, many times the decision to love means going directly against one's emotions, either when they are "good" or bad.

Emotionally, I may be repulsed by the idea of having to hurt someone, yet true love may demand that I hurt them.  Dr. James Dobson tells the story of having to hold his three year old son tightly while a physician did a spinal tap on the boy.  He said there was a mirror over the counter just level with the examining table and the two of them were positioned so that they could see the reflection of each other's faces.  Dr. Dobson tried to describe the incredible emotional pain of having to see the agony in his son's face as the doctor was shoving a needle in his son's back.  The look of questioning horror in the child's eyes as if to ask, "How can you be helping this man hurt me like this?"  Yet how do you explain such a thing to a three-year-old?  Dr. Dobson understood the lesson far beyond that mere experience. It made him think of how it must pain God when He has to let us experience terrible pain for our own good; knowing that it is temporary and that eternity is far more important.

Then what of combating evil?  No matter how much I would wish it were not so, there are people who have completely given themselves over to evil, and as with most evil, it is in the name of doing good.  The German people of the 1930s followed Hitler because everything he told them seemed perfectly good and rational.  It seemed perfectly good and rational to people who believed in the science of the day, and that they deserved to take their rightful place in history as the ruling class.  It made perfect sense that inferior "races" be subjugated or outright eliminated for the good of their society and the world as a whole.

One German stands out during this period who exemplifies the Biblical model: Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  His full biography is well worth reading, but at least go to the link and read the very condensed bio at Wikipedia.  The essential point is that DB was the real deal.  He sought peace and to follow the God of the Bible to his best ability, and it eventually carried him to martyrdom by trying to assassinate Hitler.  Bonhoeffer took no joy in what he was called to do.  But like all truly great heroes, he looked around and thought, somebody has to do something, and why should I think that somebody else should do it while I play it safe?  But he took no delight in the task.

People who think that waterboarding, or sleep deprivation, or inducing purely psychological fear is some kind of torture are idiots.  Yes. I said it.  Idiots.  Furthermore, that is a stand alone argument, meaning that I have the same opinion of the technique even if my enemy uses it.  I would rather the Taliban use such techniques than to cut off body parts or do other things to maim and disfigure.  I think the type of interrogation techniques should be used on the basis of the kind of intelligence sought.  If I'm not sure what to expect and I have plenty of time to analyze all the information, I'm going to handle the subject in such a way that he'll want to be my best friend when it's all said and done.  In the intelligence business, it's far more valuable to "turn" someone and have them working for you.  On the other hand, if I have just hours to get someone to tell me where a nuclear or any kind of WMD is located before it kills thousands, tens of thousands or millions of people, there are no rules of engagement any more.  None.  Too bad if that offends your tender sensibilities, but I will not put the comfort of an evil terrorist above thousands of lives and unimaginable suffering of my fellow citizens who are innocent of any kind of war crime.

It boils down to making good, rational decisions.  I have never understood the outrage of people who think that covert assassinations should be out of bounds to the U.S. or any righteously acting country.  Please explain to me how it makes sense to go to war with another country and force men in uniform to fight and die and also risk the "collateral damage" of innocent non-combatants because somebody decided it was "uncivilized" to just take out the leadership and then warn their successors that the same action could be repeated.

Being a true believer means answering the call to righteous action.  First we should seek peace and reconciliation.  We should answer the call to make disciples of all men, and we can only do that by our example first and our words second.  But we are also called to resist evil and that can be everything from refusing to engage in gossip at the office or in the church fellowship hall to double-tapping a couple of nine millimeter slugs from an MP5 into the frontal lobe of a terrorist mastermind.  We can then rejoice that evil has been vanquished, but we don't need to celebrate like our favorite team just won the championship.

All of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation have something to teach us about every aspect of life, but we have to take it as a whole.  It takes time to become familiar enough with all of the Scriptures to have it make that kind of impact on our lives.  You can only apply something at the level to which you have truly mastered it.  The big paradox comes from the fact that you can never master it.  Keep trying.

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