Sunday, November 4, 2007

White Roses for Uncle Sam
(or, Passing the time at DTW)

I wrote previously about my encounter with the TSA upon leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor.

During my week in Ohio and Michigan, I pondered my experience. Remembering the fear I felt as my backpack went through the x-ray machine 3 times ... remembering the looks of resignation on the faces of my fellow travelers ... I think I felt the seeds of a plan begin to form in my mind.

Before leaving Phoenix, I had printed some interesting articles off the Internets and brought them with me, thinking I might engage my old friend and her fiancé in some political conversation. As it turned out, my girlfriend and I spent most of our time reminiscing, touching on current events only occasionally.

Anyhow, one evening as I was tidying up my guest room at their home, I took out the folder of articles and one of them caught my eye: "The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent," by Jacob Hornberger. The non-violent resistance mounted by die Weiße Rose against Hitler's regime is one of the most inspiring stories to me. (I can't recommend highly enough the recent film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days — German language with English subtitles — about three students who were arrested, tried and executed for distributing anti-Nazi pamphlets on their Munich university campus.)

After reading Hornberger's piece once again, the seed that was planted at Sky Harbor Airport earlier that week started to germinate.

The articles I'd brought with me from Phoenix included some classics from, some speeches by Rep. Ron Paul, etc. I started looking for shorter pieces that didn't have a whole ton of underlined "hot links" which might prove distracting to readers of the printed articles. I narrowed it down to seven titles:
Hmm. These should offer food for thought to folks with a lot of time on their hands, in a place where they may have just had a less-than-pleasant, up-close and personal brush with the federal government.

I could make copies and distribute them around the Detroit airport!

Yeah, silly, right? People can read this stuff on the Internet if they want to. Well, yes, they can, but while more folks have computers at home than ever before, I'd bet a whole lot of them don't frequent the same websites I do. In fact, I tend to think a lot of people just use the Internet for e-mail, or to shop for some doo-dad or gee-gaw or other, and little else.

Besides, I really wanted to do something for Ron Paul's presidential campaign. I've got a great sign on the back of my mini-van, but I've been itching to do something more. Two of the Ron Paul speeches were short and sweet ... I could hand-write "Ron Paul for President" and "Google Ron Paul" on those ... yeah, that would be great! The next day, I went down to Office Max and made a bunch of copies.

— • —

I had a couple of days before my flight back to Phoenix, giving me some time to consider what I was thinking of doing ... "What would I do if I were questioned?" Gulp!

"Relax," I told myself. "What's the worst that could happen?"

"I'll be forbidden to fly, and I'll have to hitch-hike home instead."

"No, no, that won't happen, just for distributing some political literature ... 1st Amendment, freedom of speech ... surely that still applies, even in the airport."

"Well, I seem to remember you can't say certain words in an airport, like 'bomb,' and some of my articles mention bombs, terrorists, 9/11, things like that."

"Okay, okay. You've got a point. So what? So it might be a bit risky. What's life without a little risk?"

"It's not just the 'authoritahs" I'm worried about. There are those constant P.A. announcements telling passengers to report anyone who looks suspicious to the airport authorities. It's not like I won't be nervous!"

"Look, you have a right to do this, and it's a great idea! If you chicken out now, how the heck do you think you'll hold up if the going ever gets really tough? Just do it. Speak the truth. It's way less dangerous than what Hans and Sophie Scholl did, and it'll honor their memory."

"Alright, I'll do it. If I don't go through with this, then I'm a miserable coward and have no right to consider myself a Gryffindor." (Sorry, it's a Harry Potter thing ...)

— • —

Fast-forward to Friday, 28 September. I woke up at oh-dark-thirty, showered and grabbed some coffee and a bite of toast. Didn't feel much like eating — too excited!

Got dressed for the day. Brought a long black rain coat on the trip with me. (Got to use it, too — rain's always a bonus for us desert rats!) I decided to try for somewhat of a ... dramatic look. Black jeans and chukka boots, dark red blouse, all under the black raincoat. At 5' 11", I'm rather tall, and brunette (Frank says it's more like auburn), and the effect was pleasing. Took a little extra care with the make-up, too — more than I usually would wear for a day of traveling.

Not much to throw in the rent-a-car: a black suitcase to check; and a black-and-red day pack for carry-on, stuffed with the aforementioned articles, some library books and a spiral-bound notebook.

My girlfriend wouldn't be up until well after I left, but I said a quick good-bye and thank-you to her fiancé as he left for work. Then I was off for Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), about 45 minutes away. Listened to the Dixie Chicks' latest CD on the way; thought it would be inspiring to someone who was aimin' to misbehave.

Got to DTW with loads of time to spare. Checked my bag, then headed for the ladies' room. I left a few articles there. Whew! That wasn't so hard! Then I found a coffee shop, ordered a tea and left a couple on the table outside the shop.

DTW's terminal is rather tiny. You can walk around the whole place in a few minutes. I dropped a few more articles here and there, at pay phones, at the little laptop workstations — even at one of the airport shops, on the shelves below the magazines for sale. On one of my go-arounds, I saw two TSA guys at one of the computer workstations, looking at an article I'd placed there earlier.

Unfortunately (for my purposes), the cleaning crew at DTW is very efficient. I saw one janitor pushing his wheeled trash bin along with one hand, and holding one of my articles in the other, reading it as he went. (And he had another one sticking out of his back pocket ... score!)

It then occurred to me that more folks would probably read these if I put them in the gate area, after they'd passed through security. After all, most people go through security, then spend lots of time waiting at the gate for their plane to arrive. A little "subversive" reading material might be welcome.

So I made my way over to "security central." Not busy at all — breezed right through. The gal at the x-ray machine wasn't the least bit interested in my bag.

I made my way to the gate.

The concourse was laid out in a semi-circle, with gates all around. I went up and down the rows and rows of chairs, placing one and two articles at a time. Several passengers saw me, but no one said anything.

Finally, I reached the end of my stack. Done! Now what?

I was sort of hungry. Went back down the long hallway to get a breakfast sandwich and a bottle of juice.

Sated, I headed back toward my gate. Noticed quite a few folks had picked up the articles I'd laid about, and it also appeared that the janitors weren't so prevalent around here. Lots of empty cups and used newspapers laying around, so I figured my articles might linger a little while longer, as well.

Oh. I almost forgot. I wrote across the top of each one: PLEASE READ, COPY AND DISTRIBUTE! I had no idea if anyone would, but just maybe. It might cause a few people to think about the state of our nation, or at least serve as an encouragement to others of like mind.

The flight home was bumpy, but otherwise uneventful. I cat-napped through part of it, since I hadn't slept much the night before.

My sweetie picked me up at Sky Harbor, and on the way home I told him what I'd done. I didn't tell him about my plan beforehand because I wanted him to be able to honestly deny knowing anything about it — just in case things went badly and he found himself being questioned about my activities! (Honestly now, do you think I was being unnecessarily paranoid, or not?)

Anyhow, Frank loved the story! And as we talked, I realized I want to do more of this. I could leave interesting pro-liberty essays, Ron Paul speeches, etc. at coffee shops, doctors' offices, those wire racks dispensing free magazines and classified ads in grocery stores ... I'm sure there are even more good places to do this that I haven't even thought of yet.

And many more Americans need to be awakened from their slumber.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fear and loathing at Phoenix Sky Harbor

Find out just what the people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
~Frederick Douglass (1817-1895),
American Abolitionist

I recall a day long ago, before we slipped into our bizarre post-9/11 mindset, when you could arrive at the airport just a half hour before your flight left. Only time it took longer was over the holidays.

A couple weeks ago, I flew to Detroit to see my mom in Toledo, Ohio, for a few days. The following is an account of my experience prior to departing Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

— • —

Arrived at 7 a.m. Checked in, no problem. Went to the rest room, then headed toward the cattle chute.

Not too busy. Just a family in front of me, some of whom spoke English and were translating for other family members who didn't. I saw some passports out so I gathered they were taking an international flight. I think the other language I heard was Italian — sounded something like Spanish, but not quite.

One young woman in the party was helping an elderly lady, probably her grandma, with her bag. The rest of their party were up at a podium speaking to the TSA guy who was checking their papers. He was yawning, not saying anything. Looked as if he might have had a late night — shirt wrinkled, hair mussed up. I heard him direct them to Station Four. They'd started to head over when Mr. Jackboot shouted at the young girl (who was maybe 19 or 20) and the old lady, "Keep up! You need to stay with your party! Over to Station Four now!"

Well, I was next in line, and I noticed there were actually two TSA guys, at podiums maybe ten feet apart. The other one wasn't doing anything, so I headed toward him, only to hear a curt, "I'm closed — over there." He pointed me back to the other guy. (TSA: "Thousands Standing Around".)

Bracing myself, I went over to him, ticket and photo ID out and ready. He looked at it, handed it back and said, "Station Two." From where I was standing, I couldn't read the numbers above the various stations, so I backed up to see where Two was. Got it — last station on the left.

I began to head over to it, and there was a large concrete pillar in my way. I made to go around it on the right, as there was a bit of a hold-up on the left involving a lady in a wheel chair. As I attempted to go around, another TSA guy at a desk (don't know what his job was — he wasn't checking IDs or anything) barked out, "Don't go through here! Other side of the pillar!" No "please," no attempt at kindness. He sounded annoyed. (Hey, maybe that is his job — keeping people from walking around the wrong side of the pillar!) I did as he said, muttering "jackboot" under my breath — he didn't hear me. (The P.A. guy was droning on about something, and it was really loud.)

Made my way to Station Two. There was one couple ahead of me, retirement age, nicely dressed. I heard him speak with a British accent. I put my coat, daypack and shoes in the bin, placed the bin on the conveyor, and stepped through the metal detector — no problems. Waiting at the end of the conveyor for my stuff, I noticed the lady ahead of me — the other half of the British-sounding couple — was agitated. She was talking to the TSA gal, who was examining her bottled water. It was still sealed — a small bottle, about 16 ounces. Heard the passenger explain that she has to drink water every hour due to a medical condition. Her husband broke in: "We called the TSA last night, and they said it would be alright."

But it was a no go. Miss Jackieboot said she'd have to go back out of security and drink the water back there. (Question for Kip Hawley and the rest of the TSA idiots: Why not simply have her break the seal and take a healthy swig to verify that the bottle does not, in fact, contain a chemical component that could be used in a — ahem"binary liquid bomb"?) The lady said she couldn't drink it all at once. Then her husband asked, "Can we purchase water past this point?" The TSA gal said yes, so the lady said, "Just bin that one, then. I'll purchase another." They were clearly annoyed. I felt badly for them.

Meanwhile, another gal at the x-ray machine had my bag, looking intently at its image on the screen. (Could she read my book titles?!) She called a supervisor over, and both viewed the image, consulting a small spiral-bound notebook. She told me she'd have to run the bag through again. I put on my shoes and took my coat. She scanned the bag a second time and made a few notes on a paper I couldn't see. Then she ran it through a for a third time.

By then there was quite a line behind me, and a bit of panic began to rise within me — what the hell was she looking for? She made a few more notes, still looking at her small spiral notebook, then gave me my bag.

Whew! I couldn't believe how nervous I was getting! I had a few books with me and some choice articles printed off the Internet — figured they'd come in handy for conversations with my old friend Connie, whom I hadn't seen in several years. I suppose the "authoritahs" — not to mention the current regime — might not like my choice of reading material: Chris Hedges' War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning ... Michael Scheuer's Through Our Enemies' Eyes ... and Iraqi bloggerette "Riverbend's" second Baghdad Burning compilation.

But as far as I know, the First Amendment still applies, even to us hapless folk who have to fly on airplanes. Still, I'd love to know just what the TSA lady was writing down about my daypack.

When I caught up with the couple who was in front of me, they were purchasing another bottled water. I told them I sympathized totally, and we mused how awful it is to fly anymore, at least in the US and UK. The couple turned out to be Swiss citizens, headed for home.

I told them I hoped they could keep their republic, and how inspiring the Swiss were to me personally. And how, sadly, we had lost our republic and were descending rapidly into a police state. They nodded, and the gentleman said, "America is not what it once was. So much has changed since 9/11, and not for the better."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Bourne-Moby-Voldemort Identity

Just saw The Bourne Ultimatum yesterday.

On the plus-side: A fun, action-packed summertime popcorn thriller ... with a moral:
Never volunteer to be a remorseless, unquestioning killer for the State.
In the minus column: Gratuitous overuse of the "shaky-cam." You want to communicate to your viewers the chaos and disorientation that attend (I imagine) a man-to-man fight-to-the-death with an equally-trained and even more remorseless killer? Okay, fine. Shake away.

But in a quiet, subdued, face-to-face meeting in a café between a newspaper reporter and his mysterious insider source? C'mon ...

But I digress.

Each of the three films ends with the same song, "Extreme Ways," by a fellow named Moby. Since I'm a certified "credidiot" (one of those people you see in theatres sitting all the way through the final credits), I tried to pay attention to the lyrics this time. What I heard intrigued me, so I looked 'em up on-line.

Wow. In the context of the Bourne films, Moby's lyrics sure seem to express the lament of a remorseless, unquestioning killer for the State.

"So, just who is this Moby?" I wondered. So I went to his website. Where I read the following post in his journal:
i was just in washington dc for a day, and while there i was wearing my 'republicans for voldemort' t-shirt.

granted it's a fairly subtle literary reference (as the harry potter books have only sold, i believe, 300 million copies, and the movies have only been seen by a billion people or so), but i'm still surprised at how many people respond to the t-shirt as if i were really endorsing a republican candidate named voldemort.

every now and then someone will stop me and say 'your t-shirt is very funny, where'd you get it?', but more often than not i get dirty looks from democrats ('boo, hiss, dirty republican') and approving looks from republicans ('yahoo! another member of the cabal!').

but this isn't about politics, it's about my excellent t-shirt (and no, i don't remember where it came from. i think that someone might've given it to me in a bar?) and how surprising it is that the vast majority of americans seem to be unfamiliar with the central antagonist in the most successful book franchise of all time.

isn't that surprising?

i think it's surprising.

maybe if the t-shirt didn't look so authentic. ...
What a hoot! Pulling one over (quite unintentionally) on both Republicans and Dems, both sides thinking he's supporting a GOP candidate named Voldemort!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Just Warriors ~ Just Wars

Just Warriors ~ Just Wars is my new weblog, dedicated to a biblical consideration of war and the waging of war. Anticipated topics:
  • foreign policy
  • principles of national defense
  • raisng, training and equipping an army
  • conscription
  • individual ethics in war
  • Just War doctrine
  • international law

... etc. & so forth.

As a Christian, it is my view that God is the final measure of justice, and that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are given to man by inspiration of God to teach us, among other things, how to do justice and live justly — whether in peace or in war.

I invite you join in the discussion.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Benson on the Pat Tillman cover-up

Steve Benson's editorial cartoon from the 2 August 2007 Arizona Republic:

Which kinda makes me wonder: If they did it to Pat Tillman and his family, how many others have they done it to?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The pornography of violence

War is also the pornography of violence. It has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it "the lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in lusts and passions we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy life. It allows us to destroy not only things but human beings. In that moment of wholesale destruction, we wield the power [of] the divine, the power to revoke another person's charter to live on this earth. The frenzy of this destruction — and when unit discipline breaks down, or there was no unit discipline to begin with, frenzy is the right word — sees armed bands crazed by the poisonous elixir our power to bring about the obliteration of others delivers. All things, including human beings, become objects — objects to either gratify or destroy or both. Almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that. ...

It takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men into killers. Most give themselves willingly to the seduction of unlimited power to destroy, and all feel the peer pressure to conform. Few, once in battle, find the strength to resist. Physical courage is common on a battlefield. Moral courage is not.

~ Chris Hedges, "The Death Mask of War"

Friday, July 27, 2007

Harry Potter: How bureaucracy enables tyranny

Hermione gave a shaky laugh ... "What's Voldemort planning for Hogwarts?" she asked Lupin.

"Attendance is now compulsory for every young witch and wizard," he replied. "That was announced yesterday. It's a change, because it was never obligatory before. Of course, nearly every witch and wizard in Britain has been educated at Hogwarts, but their parents had the right to teach them at home or send them abroad if they preferred. This way, Voldemort will have the whole Wizarding population under his eye from a young age."

~ Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, p. 210
In his essay "Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy," law professor Benjamin Barton examines what the Harry Potter series has to say about government and bureaucracy. (After reading the abstract, scroll down to the bottom to download Barton's 21-page .pdf essay.)

Barton got me thinking about the power of ideas, especially among young people. Witness the popularity of Ron Paul's freedom message among the 18-25 year-old crowd — many of whom grew up reading Harry Potter.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Will we get fooled again?

It seems to me that the U.S. is spoiling for a fight with Iran. Allegations have been made for what seems to be the better part of a year that Iran is in violation of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. And of course, there is the more recent charge that the government of Iran is supporting the Iraqi insurgency — i.e., killing American soldiers — with training, men and arms.

After the "justifications" for our invasion of Iraq — WMD threats, unmanned chemical-weapons drones able to attack Europe in 45 minutes, mushroom clouds, links to 9/11 via al Quaida and Osama Bin Laden, yellow-cake uranium, aluminum tubes etc. — turned out to be bogus, you'll excuse me if I don't just readily accept these latest neo-con saber-rattlings at face value.

Indeed, I recently read what appears to be a quite plausible challenge to the now-standard claim that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is threatening to "wipe Israel off the map." (Why anybody thinks that a militarily adept and nuclear-armed Israel is somehow unable to defend herself against possible Iranian aggression and thus in need of U.S. interposition is a discussion for another time.)

In his 26 May 2007 essay "'Wiped off the Map' – The Rumor of the Century," Arash Norouzi goes into much detail in order to show that Ahmadinejad's supposed threat against Israel was actually a mis-translation into English of Ahmadinejad, in a 2005 conference called "The World Without Zionism," quoting an old observation by the Ayatollah Khomenei. Norouzi also puts Khomenei's statement — and Ahmadinejad's use of it — back into the original context from which it has been torn:
Ahmadinejad acknowledges that the removal of America's powerful grip on [Palestine] via the Zionists may seem unimaginable to some, but reminds the audience that, as Khomeini predicted, other seemingly invincible empires have disappeared and now only exist in history books. He then proceeds to list three such regimes that have collapsed, crumbled or vanished, all within the last 30 years:
  1. The Shah of Iran – the U.S. installed monarch
  2. The Soviet Union
  3. Iran's former arch-enemy, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
In the first and third examples, Ahmadinejad prefaces their mention with Khomeini's own words foretelling that individual regime's demise. He concludes by referring to Khomeini's unfulfilled wish: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise." This is the passage that has been isolated, twisted and distorted so famously. By measure of comparison, Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war [Norouzi's italics — F.G.].
Stating that the "regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" is certainly not the same as threatening to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth."

The alleged mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's 2005 quote from an old speech by the Ayatollah Khomenei has been discussed at least a year ago, by Juan Cole in May 2006:
Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope — that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government.

Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that "Israel must be wiped off the map" with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people. He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.
Note that neither Cole nor Norouzi are apologists for Ahmadinejad or his world-view. Norouzi concludes his essay with this statement:
Iran's president has written two rather philosophical letters to America. In his first letter, he pointed out that "History shows us that oppressive and cruel governments do not survive." With this statement, Ahmadinejad has also projected the outcome of his own backwards regime, which will likewise "vanish from the page of time."
And Cole states:
I should again underline that I personally despise everything Ahmadinejad stands for, not to mention the odious Khomeini, who had personal friends of mine killed so thoroughly that we have never recovered their bodies. Nor do I agree that the Israelis have no legitimate claim on any part of Jerusalem.
But they certainly don't think the widespread and belligerent accusation that Iran intends to wipe Israel off the face of the map ought to be allowed to go unchallenged, for it would seem to lend credence to the American interventionists' view that Iran is nation full of Islamist zealots bent on developing nuclear weapons in order to eradicate the nation of Israel, and that it is thus somehow America's obligation to militarily intervene on behalf of our only ally in the Middle East.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Having some fun with the opposition

The silly season has officially begun: Today we received our first fund-raising letter of the 2008 presidential race, from the campaign of "Baghdad" John McCain!

When we first saw the words ENCLOSED: PRESIDENTIAL PHOTOGRAPH emblazoned across the front of the envelope in bold red letters, we thought Sen. McCain was being just a tad premature. I mean, he hasn't even been elected yet!

But it turns out that he meant this "Presidential Photograph":

The caption reads:
My friend, this photo with President Reagan is one of my personal favorites. It is my pleasure to share it with you. I thank you for your support.

Best wishes,
John McCain
Whenever we receive fund-raising letters from causes or campaigns that we'd rather drink dirty ditchwater than support, we like to return all the stuff they sent us — including the envelope it came in — and using their own postage-paid "Business Reply" envelope!

But this time we did something a little different. I didn't want to confuse Baghdad John's campaign volunteers. ("Huh? Why'd they use our return envelope to send us back everything we sent them, but with no flippin' money? Oh well ... break time!") So instead, in completely feigned appreciation for Sen. McCain sending us one of his "personal favorite" photos, we returned the favor by sending this photo to the McCain campaign (in their postage-aid envelope, of course):

Included was this brief letter of explanation:
Dear McCain Campaign:

Thank you for the photo of Sen. McCain with President Reagan.

In gratitude, it is our pleasure to share with you this photo of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) with President Reagan. Even though we live in Phoenix, AZ, we consider Rep. Paul to be our congressman. (It's a liberty thing. You wouldn't understand.)

Incidentally, we hope you'll do two things for us:

1) Next time you see Sen. McCain, tell him we said that he needs to find honest work in the private sector; and

2) consider ditching that overspending, gun-grabbing, liberty-killing warmonger ... and come volunteer instead for Ron Paul's campaign!

Yours for peace and liberty,
Frank [lastname]

Thursday, June 7, 2007

"Avoiding embarrassment" vs. repentance

The disaffection most have with the war, I suspect, has to do with the sense of embarrassment with how the war is being conducted, not with that it was undertaken in the first place. A colleague of mine opined, a couple months ago, that it “would be nice if the United States could get out of Iraq without too much egg on its face.” To his shock, I replied that the United States needs to experience as much “egg on its face” as possible. Since those who orchestrated, directed, and cheered on this criminal act will never be held to account for their wrongdoing in any meaningful way, they ought to at least suffer public humiliation for their behavior. To fail to see the moral implications of what America has become, to regard the deaths of over one million innocent Iraqis – if one includes the half-million children who died from earlier U.S. embargoes on food and medicine – as nothing more than a failure of “intelligence” or “poor planning” or “mismanagement,” is symptomatic of the moral and spiritual pathology of a once-great nation.

Friday, June 1, 2007

An old USAF gag

Click on the cartoon to enlarge it ...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Marines and Army are broken ...

... now they're trying to break the Air Force, too.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Inspiring Benson

The Arizona Republic's own Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson does Charles Goyette's radio program every now and again, and sometimes they invite callers to suggest cartoon ideas for Steve.

This one was mine:

I actually described Ron Paul as the elephant (and truest Republican) in a roomful of wannabes and pretenders who are doing all they can to simply ignore him. I mean, it just seemed so obvious! (And dontcha just love the smiley-faces on the other nine?)

Thanks, Mr. Benson!

Friday, May 18, 2007

My coins, but not my sons

A couple of years ago, our pastor preached on Mark 12. While discussing vv. 13-17, he revealed to me a gem — one of those gems that was right there in front of me all along, yet one I’d never noticed before:
Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”

But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” So they brought it.

And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.
In contrast to the denarius, an ancient Roman coin which bore both the image and inscription of Caesar, Pastor Niell asked us, “Whose image and inscription do you bear?”

Why, the image of Jehovah, and the inscription of the Triune God, I thought. It suddenly occurred to me that, while all men bear the image of God, it is His people alone who bear His inscription: the mark or seal of baptism.

Pretty basic stuff, yes? But something worth considering the next time Caesar claims the authority to conscript citizens to murder for him. (Which claim, I'm sorry to report, I expect to be revived in the very near future.)

And so, a quick note to you who happen to occupy the chair of former Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt:

Jesus says you can have my pennies and dimes. But neither I nor my children belong to you. God gives you no authority to snatch us up, hand us a rifle, and compel us to violate the Sixth Commandment.

For “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge” (Acts 4:19).

— • —

And incidentally, I was amazed and edified this past Mother's Day to learn that Julia Ward Howe — whatever her other theological misprisions — understood this doctrine well, as evidenced by the following excerpt from her Mother's Day Proclamation (written in 1870 in reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War):

... As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God. ...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Paul Harvey: Since WW I, "there have been no 'civilians'"

And hear this, please. In Western Afghanistan, where NATO forces are involved in some of the deadliest fighting since January, among the 136 dead this morning, suspect Taliban. But there are others — 51 villagers, mostly women and children. Might not the news media put a stop to such "pulled-punches wars" as this, if we would just desist from categorizing "civilians"? It was "civilians," for goodness' sake, who decapitated New York City. Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no "civilians."

~ Paul Harvey, News and Comment, 2 May 2007 (listen here)

It appears to me that Mr. Harvey is engaging in a loose categorization of the parties in war in order to justify his unwillingness to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate targets in war.

While it was, in fact, "civilians" who "decapitated New York City" on 9/11, they weren't merely civilians, but members of a criminal subset of civilians known as "murderers." And the American civilians who died in the 9/11 attacks were another subset of civilians — "victims."

But if we accept Paul Harvey's specious reasoning in order to assuage our consciences re. Afghan and Iraqi non-combatants killed in the Global War on Terror, then we have no choice but to conclude that the victims of the 9/11 attacks weren't civilians, either.

You can't have it both ways, Mr. Harvey.

Truth to power

HT: Lew Rockwell Blog

Saturday, May 5, 2007

You can't make this stuff up ...

And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

~ Donald Rumsfeld, then-Secretary of Defense, during a Town
Hall meeting at Aviano Air Base, Italy on 7 February 2003
"Rumsnamara" couldn't find his own toochis with two hands and a flashlight, and the Claremont Institute is awarding him a Statesmanship Award? In honor of Sir Winston Churchill?!

I presume Rummy's alleged "statesmanship" occurred some time after this sad moment:

(Hmm, I just noticed that that occurred just ten days before my honorable discharge from the US Air Force!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Marx was wrong ...

Religion isn't the opiate of the masses. Professional sports is.

Doug Wilson makes an interesting obesrvation that politics is actually the opiate of the masses. But I think he makes a better case that for many, politics constitutes a god — a false savior — rather than a mere opiate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bleating for security

John and Jennifer Shourds of Lovettsville, Va. demanded the immediate firings of University President Charles Steger and Virginia Tech Campus Police Chief W.R. Flinchum who he said "screwed up" the handling of separate shooting incidents that left 33 students dead, including the shooter.

“My God, if someone shoots somebody there should be an immediate lockdown of the campus,” said John Shourds. “They totally blew it. The president blew it, campus police blew it.”
This is the angry demand of a sheep bleating for security. (Thankfully, the Shourds' daughter, Alexandra, wasn't harmed in Monday's murderous shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.)

For over a hundred years, U.S. courts have ruled that individuals have no right to police protection. But given the numerous — almost routine — warnings from police spokesmen not to "take the law into your own hands" by resisting criminal violence with reasonable force, you really can't blame people like the Shourds for thinking they have a right to the protection of the State.

In his seminal 1993 essay "A Nation of Cowards," New York attorney Jeffrey Snyder says it best:
Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police's, not only are you wrong — since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so — but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you?

Do you believe that you are forbidden to protect yourself because the police are better qualified to protect you, because they know what they are doing but you're a rank amateur? Put aside that this is equivalent to believing that only concert pianists may play the piano and only professional athletes may play sports. What exactly are these special qualities possessed only by the police and beyond the rest of us mere mortals?

One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance.

Let's not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.
The Shourds are simply displaying the mindset of a nation that has been brainwashed by Statists into believing that only highly-trained agents of the State may protect them — even though they're not legally obligated to do so, after all.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pondering the expat thing — an update

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.
~ Katherine Lee Bates, "America the Beautiful"
Last year, Ira Katz — an American mechanical engineer employed in Paris — considered the life of an American expatriate in “To be an expat?”

What are the burrs under Katz's saddle? America’s economic and monetary shenanigans. Our cultural superficiality. And especially President Bush’s arrogant and utopian foreign policy in response to 9/11:
… “Everything has changed since 9/11” is a propaganda slogan that Orwell would appreciate. Thus nation building, which was wrong during the 2000 campaign, is now good policy. Add the domestic policy of Lyndon Johnson and no opposition party and you have a country, an empire, headed toward debt and ruin.

What did an insightful Roman of the 5th century think about his country, or even an intelligent Russian in 1985? What does a simple citizen do in times like these?

If a person entered the room proclaiming how great he was, the correct response would be to shun such a pompous jerk. But that is just the way the USA behaves. What should we do? A change in attitude would be a good start. …
I find much to agree with Katz about. He concludes:
The founders had the right idea — no alliances, no war, but trade with all. A smaller, humbler government overseas would lead to a precipitous drop in the number of terrorists. A smaller, humbler government at home would make us a better country overall. We need to stop trying to be great and concentrate on being good.

As for me I know I will always be an American and love my country; but I will unfortunately always loathe my government.* This is true even if I may be living somewhere else among people who have every reason to be proud of their own lands and probably every reason to loathe their own governments.
Many of my friends and family already know that we’ve considered the possibility of moving to New Zealand, and the Web-Wide World has known it since I originally posted this last July.

Then in August, we took a 3-week trip to "En Zed" (the Brit pronunciation of "NZ") to check the place out. To say it is a lovely, lovely country with wonderful people doesn't even begin to tell the story! (See our NZ travel pics here.)

But while we haven't ruled NZ out completely, we returned home with a strong sense that, despite her flaws, the US is our home, and for us to abandon her in this time of great difficulty would be to throw in the towel: "Stick a fork in us, we're done."

We hope to see America return to her former, more godly and genuinely humble greatness — what we believe the early colonists and Founders once envisioned. And we can't shake the feeling that we may have something to contribute to that hoped-for course correction.

If things start to look truly ugly here — e.g., if America begins drafting her sons — and daughters — to pursue a misguided, arrogant, messianic foreign policy of "[ridding] the world of evil" — then we may be forced to turn our eyes overseas.

But for the time being, we plan on sticking around a bit.
* I certainly don’t think God’s Word permits Christians to “loathe their governments.” But I see nothing in Scripture that says we ought not loathe what we see as our governments’ unrighteous or unjust actions.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Time and the Church

And speaking of "marking time more Christianly ..."

H.T.: "Der Schweppenator"

Good Friday and the sign of Jonah

A few days ago, Andrew Tallman discussed on his radio show the chronological inconsistency between Christianity's traditional Good Friday observance of the crucifixion and the words of Jesus:
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

~ Matthew 12:38-40
Here's the inconsistency:
  • Jesus said He would be in the heart of the earth (i.e., the grave) for three days and three nights; and
  • The resurrection occurred on the first day of the week (what we call Sunday — see Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20).
  • How, then, could He have been crucified and buried on the sixth day (Friday)?
The usual response I've heard from pastors and other Bible teachers over the years is that, in Hebrew chronology, any part of a day is considered a full "day" when reckoning time. Thus, since Jesus was in the grave for part of the sixth day of the week, all of the seventh day, and part of the first day, He was effectively in the grave for three "days." But no matter how you slice it, this reckoning contradicts Jesus' very specific words in Matt. 12 — "three days and three nights."

Andrew Tallman said that the scriptural testimony suggests a possible fourth-day (Wednesday) crucifixion and burial. He referenced supporting articles here, here and here — the last being "the one I thought was the most comprehensive (although I'm not a fan of their style of presentation)."

I have yet to read these three pieces — I intend to do so today. But back in 1988, I read the article "Good Thursday" by James McKeever, in which he suggests a fifth-day (Thursday) crucifixion and burial. The piece has always stuck with me, and I've posted it for your consideration.

You might well ask, "Why is this even an issue?"

One of the five "solas" of the Protestant Reformation is sola scriptura — "by scripture alone." As a Protestant who converted from Roman Catholicism some 26 years ago, I've only begun to reconsider and appreciate the fullness of church history and tradition in the last eight years or so. (That includes her history and tradition prior to the Reformation — Church history doesn't begin with Martin Luther!) The Reformers did not seek to utterly tear down the Roman Catholic church and build a new work in her place, but rather to reform her by holding her to the ultimate authority of Scripture — even over church tradition.

If reformed Protestant, catholic (small "c") churches intend to perpetuate this vital aspect of the Reformation, we should begin discussing the authority of Scripture even in such mundane matters as the church's traditional days of religious observance.

The Protestant church is right to critique aspects of Roman Catholic tradition that contradict the Scriptures — e.g., priestly celibacy, or the immaculate conception and bodily assumption of Mary. Maybe we think we can give Good Friday a "pass" because we don't consider it as weighty a matter. But if we merely perpetuate Good Friday observance apart from the biblical testimony, aren't we just as guilty of holding to tradition rather than the Scriptures?

And by the way, a church that professes sola scriptura and makes every effort to comport itself accordingly — even regarding our religious observance of days — is more credible in the eyes of a watching world.

After all, unbelievers can count, too.

"Good Thursday," by James McKeever

The following article is reproduced with the gracious permission of Jeani McKeever King, and is copyright 1988 by Omega Ministries, dba The Cutting Edge Ministries, P.O. Box 1788, Medford, OR 97501. All typographical errors are mine. — FG
— • —
Good Thursday
By James McKeever

I would like to share something with you that doesn’t have any major theological consequences, yet it is something that has bothered me all of my Christian life. I was told that Christ was crucified on Friday (Good Friday), and rose again on Sunday, the first day of the week. And yet, Jesus Himself said that He was going to be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth:
39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;
40 for just as Jonah was three days and three night in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

~ Matthew 12
That verse bothered me. You could possibly get a day and parts of two other days out of that scenario, but there is no way you could get three nights out of it.

Wiser men than I, I am sure, have studied this situation and have come up with various answers. I would like to share with you what the Lord has shown me about it.

Evening (Night) Precedes the Day

In the western world of calculating days, a day starts at midnight: so we have about six hours of night, then we have our daytime of about 12 hours, and then 6 more hours of night.

The Hebrews — and God, even before Abraham — calculated things a different way. They started counting a new day at sundown. Thus, they had 12 hours of night followed by 12 hours of day. Let’s round things off to make it easy. Let’s say the new day began at 6:00 p.m., which started the night portion of the new day; then at 6:00 a.m. the daylight portion of the new day began. Then the following 6:00 p.m. ended that day. This can be seen in Figure 1, where even today in Jerusalem, the Sabbath (Saturday) begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, at which time many gather at the Wailing Wall. The nighttime of that Saturday runs until 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The daytime portion then runs until 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening, at which time the Sabbath is over.

If you align these together, you would have the days as shown in Figure 2. The times across the top would be our times and the times across the bottom would be the Hebrew days.

This is the way God has looked at days from the beginning, as we find recorded back in Genesis:
5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. . . .

8 And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. . . .

13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

~ Genesis 1
You see here that God always started with evening and ended with day. We see additional evidence of this in that, if the Hebrews were to fast an entire day, they could eat something at 5:00 p.m. the night before and then have nothing to eat until 6:01 the following evening. Basically, all they did was go without breakfast and lunch during that 24-hour period. We find this recorded in a number of places:
23 And the sons of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?" And the Lord said, "Go up against him." . . .

26 Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. . . .

~ Judges 20

12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

~ 2 Samuel 1

2 So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.

~ Judges 21
These are just a few of the places where the Bible talks about the people seeking the Lord or fasting "until evening"; once the sun had set, a new day began.

Was Christ Buried on Friday?

Using this model of the Jewish day, if we then consider Christ being buried on Friday and resurrected on Sunday, there is absolutely no way that He could have been in the ground three nights. In fact looking at total duration, He was barely in the ground a sum total of two days! Something just doesn’t work out. This has never been a major problem for me, but it has been an irritant ever since I became a Christian back in 1952.

There Are More Sabbaths Than Just Saturday

When someone speaks of "the Sabbath," most Christians automatically think of Saturday. Saturday is indeed the Sabbath. Of course, we know it begins at 6:00 p.m. (or sunset) on Friday. However, most Christians do not realize that there are many Sabbaths other than just Saturday.

To review, we remember that there were three major feasts which were described in the Old Testament. These were:
  1. The Feast of Passover
  2. The Feast of Pentacost
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles
Actually, there were seven convocations that were grouped together into these three major feasts.

The following passage from Deuteronomy talks about these three feasts. The Feast of Pentacost is called the "Feast of Weeks" and the Feast of Tabernacles is called the "Feast of Booths." Here is what the Bible has to say about these three feasts:
1 "Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.
2 "And you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to establish His name.
3 "You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), in order that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.
4 "For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning.
5 "You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the Lord your God is giving you;
6 but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt.
7 "And you shall cook and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses. In the morning you are to return to your tents.
8 "Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God; you shall do no work on it.
9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.
10 "Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you;
11 and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name.
12 "And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
13 "You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;
14 and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.
15 "Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you shall be altogether joyful.
16 "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.
17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. . . ."

~ Deuetronomy 16
I realize that the above passage is a little long, but I would encourage you to read it carefully, so that you will begin to have an understanding of these feast days. You might want to pause now to go back an reread that passage.

In Deuteronomy, we saw the three feasts spelled out, but we did not see the exact time frame for the Feast of Passover:
1 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
2 "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household.
4 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
5 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6 'And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.
7 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
8 'And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
9 'Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.
10 'And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
11 'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste — it is the Lord's Passover.
12 'For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments — I am the Lord.
13 'And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
15 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
16 'And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.

~ Exodus 12
In this passage, we find a couple of interesting things. During the first month of the year, they were to celebrate the Feast of the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month (verse 6). Verse 16 says that this should be a holy assembly and no work should be done, which is the definition of a Sabbath.

Since the Jewish calendar has 12 months of 30 days, or 360 days per year, the fourteenth day of the first month could fall on any day of the week. If it fell on Friday, you would have two Sabbaths in a row — the Passover Sabbath on Friday and the regular Sabbath on Saturday.

Later, in giving commands about the day of trumpets, the Lord said this to the children of Israel:
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

~ Leviticus 23, KJV
As you can see in the preceding verses, the first day of the seventh month was a Sabbath. Of course, it could fall on any day of the week. If it fell on Friday, here again there would be two Sabbaths occurring on consecutive days.

And then concerning the Day of Atonement, the Lord had this to say:
26 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
27 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.
28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.
29 "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.
30 "As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
31 "You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
32 "It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath."

~ Leviticus 23
In this last passage, we see that there was a Day of Atonement, which was a Sabbath that fell on the tenth day of the seventh month. This Sabbath also could have fallen on any day of the week. Verse 39 of that same passage tells us that they were to have two Sabbaths in a row:
39 On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.

~ Leviticus 23
In another place, the Day of Atonement is equated to a Sabbath:
29 "This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you;
30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
31 "It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.
32 "So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father's place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments,
33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.

~ Leviticus 16
Here again, the Sabbath could fall on any day of the week.

I hope you see that if the Day of Atonement or the Day of Passover or one of the other special feast-day Sabbaths (high-day Sabbaths) fell on a Friday, you would have two Sabbaths in a row.

Let's suppose that the Passover feast fell on a Friday around the time Jesus was crucified. We would then have the situation shown in Figure 4, where Saturday was the regular Sabbath, Friday was the Passover (a high-day Sabbath) and Thursday was the day of preparation for the Passover.

From the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia we have the following definition of Sabbath, from page 1493:
Sabbath. Its meaning. From the Heb. shabbat, which means 'to cease' or 'to desist.' The Gr. word is sabbaton, but the plural sabbata is sometimes used to designate a single sabbath (Arndt, p.746). The word is applied to several festivals in the OT, but prinicpally and usually it refers to the seventh day of the week, the Jewish day of rest and worship. . . .

The other books of the Pentateuch contain legislation for sabbath observance. The Day of Atonement was designated a sabbath of complete rest (Lev. 16:31; 23:32), and the first, fifteenth, and twenty-third days of the seventh month (Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Tabernacles) were to be observed with a sabbath rest (Heb. shabbaton; Lev. 23:34, 39).
So here we see this outstanding conservative group defining the Sabbath as both the seventh day of the week and also the festivals in the Old Testament.

John Speaks to Us About This

The apostle John give the most detailed explanation of Christ's last week here on earth. If we read his gospel carefully, I believe many questions will be resolved. Before we proceed, the best judgement that I am able to come up with concerning the numbering of the hours is that the Jews numbered the hours of the night (starting at 6:00 p.m.) from 1 through 12. Then when daylight came, at say 6:00 a.m., they numbered the hours of the day from 1 through 12. We still do this today with our clocks, except we are about six hours off. Thus, the sixth hour of their daytime would be our noon.

Let's assume for a moment that the Passover Sabbath was on a Friday, and see if things work out. Let us begin at a place where there can be absolutely no argument as to when this event occurred:
11 Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, "If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar."
13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your King!"
15 So they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."
16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

~ John 19
This final confrontation with Pilate, when he delivered Jesus to be crucified, happened on "the day of preparation for the Passover" (verse 14). In our model, this would have been Thursday. Verse 14 says further that it happened at about "the sixth hour" of the day, which would have been noontime. So at noon, or shortly thereafter, on the day before the Passover was the time when Jesus was crucified, and that appears to have been a Thursday.

Now let's look forward to the time when the body was taken down from the cross:
31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

~ John 19
Here we see that it was still the day of preparation (it was not yet the Passover) and they did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath. However, this Sabbath was not a regular Sabbath. It was a "high-day" Sabbath, such as you would find on the Passover. So evidently the body of Jesus was taken down about 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, so that it would not be on the cross during the high Sabbath of the Passover, Friday.

These two events are outlined in Figure 5. We have also shown in that diagram Jesus' time in the ground, which would have put him in the ground three days and three nights, just as He said He would be. John 20:1 tells us of events that occurred on the first day of the week:
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

~ John 20

In order to fulfill all of the Scripture, Jesus had to be crucified on a Thursday, the day of preparation for the Passover. We know the Passover was the next day after His crucifixion, we know that it was a Sabbath, and we know that He was in the ground three nights. Thus, we really should be celebrating "Good Thursday" as the day of our Lord's crucifixion and burial rather than Good Friday.

Jesus Ate the Passover Dinner Early

According to the rigid instructions from the Old Testament, you were to eat the Passover at the beginning of the Passover day. In our model, this would be about 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night, which was the beginning of the Jewish Friday. However, Jesus ate the Passover approximately two days early. John also tells us about this:
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,
4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?"
7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter."
8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."
9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."
10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."
12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13 "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.

~ John 13
This is a fairly long passage, but if you look at verse 1, you see that this event described was before the Feast of the Passover. In fact, it must have been very early on the day of preparation for Passover, about 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. After the meal, perhaps 9:00 p.m. on the day of preparation for the Passover, Jesus went into the garden and was arrested there. His trials then took place during our Wednesday evening (the Hebrews night that started Thursday). During that evening, they had the trial before Caiaphas and they had to wait until dawn on Thursday to take Him to Pilate. They took Him to Pilate very early:
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.

~ John 18
Obviously this was still on the day of preparation for the Passover, since the Hebrews had not yet eaten the Passover.

Figure 6 is essentially a summary of what the Lord showed me concerning Christ being in the earth three days and three nights:

I am sure that wiser men than I have studied this and spent more time on it than I have. I simply wanted to pass along to you what I believe the Lord showed me in answer to prayer about how all these things fit together. My task is not to convince or to change anyone; only the Holy Spirit can do that. My only task is to share with you the truth as God reveals it to me.

I will leave it in your hands to judge, but if it is the truth of God and you do want to celebrate these activities on the days that they occurred, then I believe you would have your communion service on Wednesday evening (the beginning of the Hebrew Thursday), and you would celebrate "Good Thursday" as the day that Jesus was crucified.

Come Join With Us for a Feast

What Jeani and I and some others are going to do is to have a supper on Wednesday evening, March 30 (the hebrew Thursday), when Jesus had His last supper. Then we will fast until Sunday morning at breakfast, where we will have a real feast, one of rejoicing over the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I encourage you to pray about joining us in this fast, from Wednesday after dinner until Sunday morning, with real jubilation at Sunday breakfast for the victory and the power of our Savior and His resurrection. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

On Thursday, as we thank the Lord for His torturous death on the cross and His burial, we will concentrate especially on the fact that He took our sins upon Himself and that by His stripes we are healed. We hope to concentrate that entire day on what our Savior did for us.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

But I'm sure I had nothing to do with it

Some non-mainstream media seem to be coming around and including Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in their coverage of 2008 GOP presidential candidates:
— • —
In his Feb. 27 piece "Why do evangelicals ignore Ron Paul?", Pastor Chuck Baldwin noted that the March issue of Rev. Jerry Falwell's National Liberty Journal named 10 men as actual or possible Republican candidates — while Ron Paul, who had already formed a presidential exploratory committee in mid-January, was notably absent from the list. (To add insult to injury, the NLJ article actually named 11 men — including the joke campaign being floated by talk-radio gadfly Michael Savage. Picture Pat Paulsen with a lousy attitude.)

Baldwin's piece inspired me to e-mail the NLJ that same day:
In the article "Campaign 2008: Identifying the Republican Presidential Candidates," NLJ left out one very important candidate: Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

May I ask, how did this happen? Was it merely an oversight, or was Rep. Paul left out intentionally?

In my opinion, Ron Paul is a politician of tremendous integrity. I hope NLJ will have the integrity to give your readers the pertinent info on all the GOP candidates. Perhaps you can include a "Ron Paul addendum" to the article in your next issue.
In fairness to NLJ, I should point out that it has since occurred to me that their March issue may have already gone to press by the time Rep. Paul formed his exploratory committee.

Nevertheless, I was quite pleased to receive the following response Mar. 20:
Thank you for writing to us. We have included a Ron Paul addendum in our April 2007 edition of the National Liberty Journal. You will find the article on page 14.
The addendum — which includes two other candidates as well (Jim Gilmore, former Virginia governor; and Tommy Thompson, former health and human services secretary and governor of Wisconsin) — is very favorable to Rep. Paul. It didn't even mention the "L" word, which I find interesting, given that 1) Paul actually ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988, and 2) many Christian conservatives are not especially fond of libertarianism, considering it to be the political philosophy of godless pro-choicers and lawless pot smokers.
— • —
Then, while perusing the blog the other day, I read that also seems to have resigned themselves to the reality of Ron Paul's candidacy.

Paul was originally listed in the PM Straw poll, but they dropped him after a few weeks — I don't know why. Vox Day thinks it was simply because they didn't like seeing iconoclastic constitutionalist kicking butt. PM said they'd detected some hackers "stuffing" their straw poll's ballot boxes with Paul votes, so maybe this was their way of kicking Paul supporters off the field. But some have surmised that, even after deducting those illicit votes, Ron Paul was apparently still out front.

Maybe in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It is, after all, an utterly unscientific on-line straw poll. It's probably better to drop your man a check every few weeks than to tick his box and click the "VOTE NOW!" button. But while this whole online-alternative-media things is still quite new, it just may be the people's way to work around the established (read "moneyed") Media-Political Complex.

So I'm going to go drop Dr. Paul's campaign a check, and then vote for him in the PajamasMedia poll — their eleventh week just started today.

(By the way: If you don't know what Ron Paul stands for, read a few of his articles and congressional speeches. And if you do like what he stands for ... tell a friend!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Dear Pajamas Media ..."

... As you know, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president two weeks ago.

Why, then, is Rep. Paul's name not listed in your on-line straw poll?

You claim your poll only includes names that "have achieved at least one percent in the most recent Gallup Poll." But it is my understanding that the Gallup/USA Today poll doesn't even include Ron Paul on their list! Seems to me that you're simply aping the mainstream media, rather than providing an alternative to them.

And besides, intentionally ignoring an officially-announced candidate certainly seems to defeat the purpose of a straw poll in the first place.

In sincerest anticipation of your reply,
Frank [lastname]
Phoenix, AZ
And be sure not to miss Vox Day's "Ron Paul and the naked Pajamas Media."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beginner's luck

Last December, a little bird told me that my friend Mike would really enjoy "a nice single malt scotch" for Christmas. (Okay, the little bird was Mike ...)

Not being terribly knowledgeable of the world of distilled beverages, I asked, "Single malt? As opposed to what, a double or triple malt?" Perhaps these double or triple malt scotches cost more, and he was just trying to be considerate of my pocketbook.

"No, single malt as opposed to a blend. Blended scotches are generally cheaper." So much for his concern for my pocketbook.

So I called our pastor, who knows about these things. "What can you recommend?" I asked.

"One scotch I enjoy is Glenmorangie. And it's not terribly expensive." I thanked him and hit the internet. Found the Glenmorangie website and learned a few things. They age many of their scotches in casks that have previously held various wines, which imparts the flavors of those wines to the scotch.

I also learned that Glenmorangie rhymes with "then ORangy," not "then more TANgy." (I later passed that tidbit on to Pastor Jeff; he seemed appreciative.)

Then I stumbled across, found a "ratings" link, and printed the list to take shopping with me.

Fry's Marketplace, Christmas Eve. Man, what a variety of scotches for a chain grocery store! The liquors are shelved by price: Top-notch stuff up high — some of it even cable-locked to the shelf — and the gun-cleaner grade down near the floor.

They had the Glenmorangie alright, but sixty smackers (on sale) just wasn't in the budget. The ScotchDrinkers list indicated several bottles that seemed to strike a reasonable balance between price and quality, so I chose a bottle of Balvenie Doublewood 12-year-old that was on sale for $42. The bottle said it was aged in two different casks — first a traditional oak whiskey cask, then an oak sherry cask. (I later learned from Balvenie's website that it's pronounced "Bal-VENNY.")

Mike received the gift with no small appreciation on Christmas Day. Being that he's rather new to scotch himself, he wasn't familiar with the Balvenie. But his anticipation of giving it a taste was certainly evident.

A couple of weeks later, we happened to have Mike and Pastor Jeff and his family over for Sunday dinner — and Mike brought the as-yet-unopened Balvenie!

Later in the evening he popped it open for a taste.

At first blush, it was good ... I guess. To me, it tasted just like whiskey. Which is to say, it tasted pretty much what I remembered Jim Beam tasting like some 25 years ago, when I was in the Air Force, which was probably the last time I'd had straight whiskey.

But both Jeff and Mike professed great enjoyment. They couldn't stop raving about it, which made my night!

I've since picked up a bottle and begun to explore and enjoy it — sometimes alongside Knob Creek, a higher-end bourbon, for comparison's sake. The Knob Creek certainly ain't gun cleaner, but I'm really beginning to appreciate the Balvenie better. And tonight, based on some advice from Mike and another "online connoisseur," I'm going to compare 12-year-old Glenlivet with the Balvenie Doublewood — at my friend Dirk's house. (He tried the Balvenie at our place a few weeks ago ... and also fell in love with it!)

Maybe I'll get around to sharing my impressions here in a few days ... Slainté!