Monthly Blog Archives for
His Master's Voice
|Copyright © 2012 - All rights retained by author|
|Written by: C. W. Booth|
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Is Charity the Same as Redistribution of the Wealth?
My wife asked an insightful question, “How is charity by Christians different than socialism’s redistribution of the wealth?” Both approaches move resources from one person to the next, so why is charity a biblical ideal but socialism is not?
Charity is an individual’s voluntary act of love whereby a person chooses to whom to give resources, how much compassion to bestow, and when to stop. Socialism is an act of the state which takes away an individual’s resources under compulsion and redistributes that combined “wealth” according to political expediency, perceived need, and often in exchange for favors and power.
Christian charity is voluntary generosity, a choice grounded in love driven and guided by biblical principles. Redistribution is involuntary, a cold obligatory confiscation by the state of an individual’s property guided by the erratic ideologies of those who lead the state.
Charity is biblical. Christians have a rich history dating from the first century of charitable giving, at times even offering to give up all their worldly goods to ensure the poor in their community do not starve.
He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
Redistribution of the wealth also has a long history. Sadly, since the flow of all the wealth goes through just a few elite decision makers at the top of the state, redistribution has a nasty habit of ultimately starving the majority and leaving the elite with abundance.
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave. (Proverbs 22:7)
Hints of socialism can be seen even in our own nation. For example, in our society, the majority will soon be obligated to pay a fine (a tax) to the government when they have too little money to buy health insurance (not to mention having to pay 100% of all their own doctor and hospital bills in addition to the tax). Yet, the elite at the head of the state (e.g. presidents and congressmen) will be exempt from that provision because the elite passed a law which makes government tax money (taken from the majority) pay for about 75% of their insurance premiums (which covers almost all of their health bills). Redistribution of wealth at work in the real world.
Moreover it is a truism that the recipient of charity is given a free gift with no necessity of repayment. On the other hand the recipient of redistributed wealth may embark on a lifelong social contract which progressively obligates him as a servant of his benefactor, the state.
Charity is a philosophy that is spiritually and morally far superior to that of redistribution of the wealth.
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who commented that when the state becomes the administrator of charity it prevents individuals from also being charitable:
Well, the foundational assumption behind redistribution is that the people who have accumulated much resources have done so at the expense of those who have few resources, so those with much can obviously not be trusted to steward those "ill gotten" resources in a fair manner. For that reason all the resources must be placed into a common collective and administered by the only entity that is "fair," the leadership of the state.
So, if all of a sudden you, as a resource owner, were to begin being charitable with your surplus it becomes obvious that you place the entire state in jeopardy because people would no longer look exclusively to the state as the means for their survival and welfare. When the state is no longer seen as the great benefactor it loses credibility and power, and the leadership of that state become less important and therefore less "worthy" of their personally horded abundance.
If the people start taking care of themselves (and each other) the state's only purpose is relegated to national defense (military), civil defense (police and law), and infrastructure (roads, trash, etc.). When the state stops being everyone's godfather and patriarch the state no longer has to be an enormous bureaucracy with elite leaders at the top. All of a sudden the state becomes a true republic instead of a social welfare system, and genuine power returns to the ordinary citizen.
Is it really difficult to figure out why bureaucrats desperately want ever-larger and always more intrusive states and cannot tolerate the idea that you would administer your own resources and your own charitable giving?
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who questioned why the state should not administer all charity:
Of course the fallacy of the redistribution philosophy lies in its faulty assumptions.
Faulty Assumption 1: When one person gains wealth it is at the expense of someone else losing their wealth.
Answer 1: Redistribution does not recognize the truth that most trades (business transactions) improve the lives of both parties (two winners). Wealth is not a zero-sum game; an entire society of individuals can become wealthy all together or an entire society can wallow in poverty all together. One person gaining in wealth does not automatically assume that someone else must have become impoverished to compensate. Economics do not work that way.
Faulty Assumption 2: Only the state is truly fair enough to redistribute wealth and so it has the mandate to do so.
Answer 2: The state leadership is made up of the same human sinners as is found throughout all of society and will make the same errors in judgment as any other wealth holder. Even worse, once the state becomes absolute ward of all the combined wealth of a society those with absolute control will be far more tempted to abuse that power and wealth than those with much less.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Why No Outcry? -- The Daily Rocket Attacks against Israel
Attacked by house-collapsing high explosive Russian rockets, hundreds in a day, and this has been going on against Israel for years. Hamas has avoided world condemnation for their gross and blatant violence by only targeting Israeli towns and suburbs with their rockets where no one but the Jewish victims take notice. Until this past week. Recently the terrorists have begun dropping rockets on Tel Aviv and suddenly everyone took notice, as if the terrorist rocket attacks were somehow something new.
Enough is enough. Where is the world condemnation of flagrant and persistent terrorism? Are we silent simply because they are Jews and it is “just” Israel? Is that not hypocritical? Did the world not respond in outrage at the slaughter in Bosnia or the loss of life in Darfur? And did not our own nation declare hot war and with military might overthrew two nations which we said supported the terrorists who knocked down two of our US buildings? Is it not our global heritage to shout out and push back against all terrorism? But that same violence of terror is happening every day against Israel; why is there no outcry from us?
Well, acting all alone and in isolation Israel has begun to hit back, but not nearly as harshly as did the US after 9/11. Israel has only targeted the rocket stockpiles and has not invaded, yet. Such restraint is admirable and worthy of appreciation. But I fear this self-restraint cannot last long for the terrorists’ rockets still fall with deadly impact on Jewish civilians, even this very evening.
Just as the world cried tears of sorrow when our twin towers fell at the hands of terrorists, so should the world be wailing every time a terrorist rocket fells one more child, explodes one more innocent Jewish home, and maims one more unsuspecting mother. With all that the modern world has done to the Jewish race in the past 100 years, these ongoing rocket attacks must be seen as intolerable and must be stopped. Where is the outcry? Who will condemn terrorism if not those of us who have already been their victims?
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who expressed concern that Israel should not be allowed to kill more terrorists than the number of civilians that the terrorists have murdered:
Hello reader. I assume when you write, "Hasn't Israeli retaliation killed far more people?" that you are applying some kind of death-numbers-oriented ethic to Israel's self-defense. You make it sound like you think that a government of a country can only kill as many terrorists as the terrorists have first killed of innocent people in that country.
Yet, of course that is an invalid way of thinking about terrorism. It is not a numbers equation. It is the Israeli government's obligation to STOP the missile attacks, even if more terrorists die than those they have murdered. It is a matter of the government being morally bound to protect its private citizens from DAILY attacks by randomly delivered high-yield explosive warhead rockets. One hundred rockets per day! Per day! For years! What government other than Israel would tolerate that kind of activity for even a week much less for years?
Your second comment leaves me with cold chills in my bones. You seem to think that the terrorists are justified in trying to kill all Jews merely because the current Israeli government is a young one (begun just after WWII by grant of the UN to become a sovereign nation again). That kind of thinking, that any race is a fair target for extermination, has been the rationalization for untold horrors throughout the centuries.
No race of people ought to be subject to a hundred daily terrorist bombings while living in their own home country just because that race of people has the audacity to have survived numerous genocide attempts, yet the Jews are. There is NO justification the terrorists can dredge up from their sick minds to rationalize the notion that the Jews are fair game for extermination and that Israel should be purged of all Jews.
This is not a case of "who started it." This is an issue of preserving Israel as a sovereign nation (validly granted that right by the UN), a nation that happens to be the only homeland of the Jewish race. This is an issue of allowing Israel's private citizens to live in safety and security from daily terrorist attacks, terrorist attacks comprised of military weapons that previously had only been used during warfare by the Russian government. Reader, it sends chills down my spine to think that you believe the terrorists are justified in unleashing 100 random bombs per day against the nation of Israel and that Israel should not be allowed to stop the attacks.
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who commented that Israel deserves to be exterminated because they stole the land in the 1950's:
In point of fact Palestine was originally called Canaan until it was settled by Semitic peoples some 4,000 years ago. It was eventually renamed Israel (to the north) and Judah (to the south including the Jerusalem area). Around 600 B.C. the entire region was overthrown and became the property of first Babylon and then the Medes and Persians. It was resettled by the Semitic peoples again and reunified under one national government and renamed Israel. Israel retained some independence until Rome unseated Greece and invaded causing Israel to become part of the Roman nation; it was popularly nicknamed Palestine as a province of Rome. In 70 A.D. Rome brutally disbanded the Israeli national government.
When Rome fell the region was left virtually ungoverned for centuries, unowned by any political entity, and was sparsley populated by both Jews and Arabs. In the Middle Ages both England and Europe decided to claim the lands for themselves, sparking hundreds of years of turf warfare with tribal groups living around the region. Outcomes of the various skirmeshes saw the Arab and Jewish local residents being dominated by varied political groups, though none of them ever set up the old Roman Palestine province as a "nation," nor was any part of Palestine designated as anyone's "captial."
Fast forward to the modern era and British colonialism when Israel/Palestine became an English-governed province, then sparsley populated with Jews, Arabs, and Europeans. Even then Israel/Palestine was not considered a nation by anyone.
When World War II ended and the UN granted independent sovereignty to Israel as the Jewish homeland (and effectively ending British ownership over Palestine), Israel became a sovereign and independent nation once again, much as it had been from 2000 B.C. through 70 A.D. (before Rome had crushed and disbanded the local government). The Jewish remnant who have continuously occupied the region since 2000 B.C. became recognized by the world governments as the new official nation-state of Israel with Jerusalem once again being its capital, for the first time in twenty centuries.
In short, it is a factual error of history to say that the Jews "stole" the nation of Israel from the Palestinians since the Jews have always themselves been Palestinians. Moreover, Israel has been the only national entity that has ever governed the Roman province of Palestine as an independent nation-state. And Israel is the only nation to ever establish a captial city inside the region, namely Jerusalem.
Since Israel has always been a Jewish occupied province, and has been the only sovereign government to ever organize the region as a nation over the centuries, and was recognized as the only legitimate geo-political entity over the region by the end of WWII, one must conclude that the modern nation of Israel is the legitimate government of that nation. That which was always theirs since 2000 B.C. can hardly be said to have been "stolen" by them.
Those who choose to live inside Israel's borders, whether European, Arab, Christian, Muslim, or Jew ought to obey the laws of that nation. Anyone who commits murder in the nation of Israel (or fires deadly rockets at Israel) ought to be treated as the terrorists that they are and suffer the consequences of being murderers.
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who commented that Israel should not be a nation now because it was never a nation before, never had a national government, and was just a group of ungoverned semitic tribes:
In fact, you are technically correct. Semite is not truly a technical reference exclusive to Hebrew-speaking people, though in popular usage (as I employed it) it often is used for just that purpose. The word Semite originates from an English interpretation of the Hebrew tradition of a derivation of Shem's name, one of Noah's offspring, which is why it is often applied to specifically mean Hebrew-speaking peoples.
To be specific with regard to referring to Israel as the Levant region, I did not do that because the Levant region is generally known as the entire Middle East, a scope of geography far too large for consideration in this discussion.
It is true that Rome conquered Israel in the first century B.C., but they left the ruling local monarchy and theocracy in tact. United Israel (previously known as the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah) had a Roman governorship set up in the first century to keep Israel's king, priests, and local ruling elders "in line." In 70 A.D. Israel revolted (again) and Rome decided to remove her self-government, her king, and her temple worship (which Rome did by literally destroying the temple itself). The Arch of Titus in Rome is the first century Roman depiction of the destruction and looting of King Herod's temple in Jerusalem in very graphic relief.
By anyone's definition, a ruling monarch, even one reporting to a higher governor, is the very meaning of the concept of a national government. So most certainly Israel had a national government as late as 70 A.D. with Jerusalem as its capital.
Finally, one must keep in mind that in 1993 through 2000 and again from 2005 to 2006 Israel had withdrawn from the disputed territories and had permitted those territories to be self-governing. However, in 2000 and also in 2005 war was declared against Israel by the territories and military-style violence against Israeli troops and civilians prompted Israel to invade the territories to stop the attacks originating from within the territories. It is only because of those two mini-wars which the territories initiated that Israeli soldiers now "occupy" any part of the territories.
Remember that the Gaza territory has a friendly border with Egypt and the West Bank territory has a friendly border with Jordan (until recent years Jordan actually used to govern the West Bank territory, not Israel, until the West Bank demanded autonomy). The question that really needs to be asked is, "Why are Egypt and Jordan not providing free trade of food and domestic products with the territories of Gaza and the West Bank but are providing a free flow of military arms?"
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who wondered why racists keep using the word "Zionist" as a slur:
It is an interesting point you make that the term "Zionist" is used by those who are racist to confer an insult upon Israel and the Jewish people.
However, racism aside, the word Zion comes from the prophet Samuel and has historically referred to the temple and to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. God refers to Zion as the physical location where the Messiah will eventually sit enthroned to administer the entire planet for 1000 years of peace-filled rule. From that eschetalogical perspective Mount Zion is / will be supremely important to both Jews and Christians alike.
Post Script: Booth responded to a reader who raised multiple questions about the validity of Israel as a nation:
With regard to your point number 1, Israel did indeed withdraw its military from the disputed territories, but did not use force to evict the Jews who lived there. Part of the real problem, the unspoken problem, is that while Jews allow Arabs, Muslims, and others to live in and own land throughout the nation of Israel, the Palestinian Authority does not seem to allow Jews to live in the disputed territories. That is neither peaceful nor equitable, and belies a certain racism on the part of the Palestinian Authority.
In reference to both your point 1 and 2 above, Israel did forcibly evict between 8000 to 9000 Jewish residents from the disputed territories in 2005, along with having withdrawn its military. In that sense the disputed territories were no longer occupied. Until the territories declared war on Israel again in 2006.
Israel did keep Jerusalem, of course, since it is the seat of their historical religion dating back some 4000 years. For the Palestinian Authority to declare a decades long war of terror on Israel for holding onto Jerusalem (which means for them to hold Mount Zion itself, the site of all three original Jewish temples) is so far out of proportion to the Palestinians' stated goal of self-governing the Gaza and the West Bank that it makes one doubt the sincerity of that stated cause. Is perhaps their cause not truly self-government after all, but as Arafat used to boast maybe the goal is to drive all Jews from out of all of Israel (he used to refer to all of Israel as the occupied land rather than just the disputed territories)?
Finally, your last question reads, "if Israel thinks Palestinians need food, why don't they lift their own blockade?" That question truly seems self-contradictory. Israel's blockade is designed to keep military hardware, and rockets, out of Gaza and the West Bank. And even though military goods are blockaded, Israel DOES allow the residents of the disputed territories to enter Israel daily to go to their professions, to shop, and to visit family members.
Of course the military blockade is failing because Egypt and Jordan allow military hardware across their shared borders with Gaza and the West Bank, but not food and domestic goods.
Why? What do Egypt and Jordan have to gain by arming the disputed territories while at the same time denying them food and keeping them hungry?
Post Script: Booth responded to a series of points and questions raised by a reader who thinks Israel ought to be eliminated as a nation:
Reader, you wrote, "I think it's less an issue of racism, and more an issue of citizenship. Jews living in the settlements probably don't want to be Palestinians."
Of course, that is not really the issue at all. The Palestinian Authority (the PA) will not allow Jews to live in the disputed territories. It is not a matter of what the Jews want, it is only a matter that any Jew found moving into a disputed territory will be forcibly ejected by the PA or much worse if they try to live there.
If Israel had adopted the same intolerant approach to who may live in its borders as the PA now has then when the surrounding Arab nations attacked Israel (those were wars of extermination against the Jews) then Israel would have ejected all Arabs, Muslims, and Christians. However, after Israel repelled the aggressors Israel did not close the nation off against Arabs, Muslims, Christians, or others. The fact that Africans, Europeans, Asians, Arabs and others own property throughout Israel is testimony of Israel's extraordinary tolerance of other races, religions, and ethnicities.
Reader, I do not mind at all that you are agnostic. One of my own children is agnostic/atheist (his self-description). I still love him, clothe him, feed him, house him, encourage him, and keep him as safe as I can.
However, merely holding an agnostic viewpoint should not automatically mean that one is by default anti-Christian and anti-Jew but somehow also not anti-Muslim. When you say that you reject Israel's claim on Jerusalem because they view it as a religious center then you must also reject the Palestinian claim on Jerusalem for they also claim it soley on the basis that they set up on it the Dome of the Rock mosque. Aside from that religious monument (which they consider to be third-tier in importance to their religion) they have never had an interest in Jeursalem and had never made Jerusalem a governmental center or capital. The cultural "capital" of Islam is Mecca.
So on what basis is Jerusalem's governance to be determined if not on religious grounds? Once again I would argue that for 2000 years (2000 B.C. to 70 A.D.) Jerusalem was the historical, governmental, and cultural capital of Israel. When Israel was re-established as a modern nation just last century it naturally re-adopted Jerusalem as its historical and traditional capital. Since Jerusalem was never an important city to the PA (until Israel made it her capital) then I would argue that the PA defaulted a very long time ago on any claim it may have had. To suddenly launch a war of terror against Israel over a city it never much cared about until Israel made it a capital again is very disingenuous.
You asked, "why should Palestine be dependent upon Israel for the citizens' livelihood?" It should NOT! When Israel twice withdrew entirely from Gaza and the West Bank and turned them over to free elections it was the territories' responsibility to make themselves into productive nations. Instead, in both instances, the newly elected PA governments immediately imported rockets and declared war on Israel and renewed its hostilities instead of getting on with the business of building a new nation. Israel is not responsible to make the territories productive and prosperous, that is the job of the PA.
Now the fact that the PA refuses to establish a functional government, education system, social welfare system, and utilities infrastructure is what has driven its residents to seek productive jobs across the border in Israel. To Israel's credit it allows these people to cross the border to seek employment! It is not like there is not a lot of work that could be done inside of the territories, but the money is not being spent on peacetime activities, it is spent acquiring rockets. If the residents must cross the border into sovereign Israel to get gainful employment, then it is the PA who is at fault.
You also asked, "why are Egypt and Jordan suddenly responsible for Palestine?" Of course the PA is actually responsible, not Israel or Jordan or Egypt. But remember, the West Bank was a Jordan-occupied and Jordan-governed territory until the West Bank opted for free elections. When the PA took over governance of the territories it became their responsibility to feed the people. The PA has opted to wage a war of terror rather than to improve the lives of their people. With every rocket the PA launches they further endanger their citizens to the possibility of a military invasion.
Still, with all respect to you Reader, I point out that you have not really addressed the question, "What do Egypt and Jordan have to gain by arming the disputed territories with rockets and guns while at the same time denying the territories food and thus keeping the residents hungry?"
Post Script: Booth responded to a Reader's restatement of the history of how Israel offered autonomy to the "territories" but the offer was rejected:
That is of course a valid point of history. The ONLY reason that Gaza and the West Bank are not right now independent nations is that when Israel offered them the land for their own nations they refused to accept the land on the grounds that none of Israel should be settled by Jews. When they turned down the land for an independent nation they created a literal charter dedicating their existence to the destruction of all of Israel and the removal of all Jews from the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority (the PA) gives every appearance to have taken that old charter to their heart.
Pity. Such wasteful hatred and bigotry.
Post Script: A Reader offered the following correction to Booth's blog:
Basically what you say is true with these clarifications: Gaza was annexed by Egypt and the West Bank was annexed by Jordan after the Arab defeat in 1948. Both countries tried to allow self government, but both areas were used to attack Israel. In 1967 these territories were over run by Israel after they were attacked by the Arabs. Neither Egypt or Jordan allowed for the creation of an Independent State in these regions . What most people don't want to recognize is Jordan comprises 77% of what is considered Palestine. The remaining 23% of Palestine includes present day Israel. Jordan is the big winner of this region. Egypt gave away control of the West Bank.
Post Script: Booth made this comment when a Reader stated that they thought it was moral, ethical, and clever of the Palestinian Authority to outlaw Jews from its territories:
I suppose that about sums up the difference between the institutionalized hate-racism-bigotry of the Palestinian Authority and the peaceful tolerance of the nation of Israel.
The PA excludes all Jews from "its" borders just because they are Jews while Israel embraces residents of all religions, races, and ethnicities, even within Jerusalem. The PA wages an overt war of hundreds of random rocket bombings against the Jewish race it hates but cries "foul" when that same race eventually strikes back against those stockpiles of rockets. Now that is blatant hypocrisy.
Germany once excluded all Jews from its borders too, and then blamed their own racism on the Jews because the Jews "deserved" it. Do the Jews, who allow anyone to live in Israel, really "deserve" to be bombed daily by the Palestinian Authority? And if the Jews do "deserve" it, then why insist that Israel should also provide food to the bombers???
Reader, you also wrote that Israel is responsible for the lack of prosperity in the disputed territories because Israel does not allow the PA to transport military weapons and other similar goods across Israel's land borders. If Israel is to be "a truly independent nation they're free to" restrict the Palestinian Authority from bringing weapons into their borders, aren't they?
The Gaza and West Bank territories have all the land access for free trade that they could want without going through Israel's borders. Gaza has a shared land border with Egypt (look on a map). If Gaza is getting insufficient food (in spite of being able to get unlimited rockets) then it is Egypt that is preventing Gaza from getting that food. Gaza can get all the food it wants from Egypt without going across Israeli national borders IF Egypt would allow it.
The West Bank has a shared land border with Jordan. If the West Bank is getting insufficient food then it is Jordan that is preventing the West Bank from getting that food.
If neither Egypt or Jordan will allow Gaza and the West Bank to cross their borders to get food, then why blame Israel for doing the same but not blame Jordon and Egypt? I do not know what excuse Jordon and Egypt give for not allowing the Palestinian Authority to cross their land borders for food, especially since Jordon and Egypt will never be in fear of the the Palestinian Authority firing rockets into them.
If Gaza and the West Bank are short on food it is because Egypt and Jordon have closed their borders to the PA for reasons of their own. I wonder what that reason is...
Post Script: Booth responded to a comment made by a reader that too much US money is being given to Israel's enemies:
Of course even the US sends large amount of cash (several billion dollars so far in the past 4 years alone) to the Palestinian Authority earmarked for humanitarian aid. For that reason it causes significant concern to the US taxpayer every time the PA (Palestinian Authority) launches yet another one-thousand dollar rocket into civilian homes (in 2009 the rockets cost only $800 each...inflation, even terrorists have to deal with inflation).
When the PA fires off 100 to 200 rockets into Israel per day they are burning through hundreds of thousands of US aid dollars per day for terrorism instead of using that money for food, water, education, and housing. Part of our outcry against terrorism ought to be to discontinue all cash aid to the PA.
This is a literal message I would like to send to our president if it were possible: Are you listening Mr. Obama? Stop sending our US tax dollars to terrorists because they are merely using our money to buy rockets!
Ooops, there goes another rocket into another Israeli home...your US tax dollars hard at work...
Post Script: Booth responded to a series of arguments by a Reader that Israel ought to be emptied of ethnic and religious Jews:
Reader, you wrote, "so we're going to give rights [to nationhood] based on whether we agree with their ideology?"
No, we support the rights of nations to exist in part based on their ACTIONS, not their ideologies. The world has a history of bringing terroristic regimes which act violently like the PA to abrupt ends.
Reader, you also wrote, "despite their tolerance, Israel prides itself on being a Jewish state."
Their pride in their religion is an ideology. Their tolerance for other religions and races results in their ACTIONS of allowing others to live inside their borders peacefully and to allow other races to own land along side the Jewish population. The Palestinian Authority's racism and intolerance of other religions which leads to their ACTIONS of terrorism and exiling Jews will be their eventual downfall if they do not reform themselves.
Until the PA took over, historically Jews have lived throughout the entire Palestine area, including in Gaza and the West Bank. The PA has exiled them from those territories.
Reader, you further wrote, "no. what right does one nation have to tell another nation that they cannot defend themselves?"
Who said otherwise? I have been consistent in saying that Israel has a right to defend herself against terrorism and from rocket attacks and to deny the Palestinian Authority the "privilege" of transporting rockets and arms through Israeli borders and across Israeli land to get those arms into their own territory. You seem to insist that the PA has the right to transport their weapons across sovereign Israeli land, stowe them in Gaza, and then launch them back into Israel. That is a true non sequitur.
Finally, I think you are caught in a redundant cycle of circular reasoning with regard to the "occupation" thing. When Israel withdraws all military personnel from the disputed territories they become free and independent. As free and independent entities, instead of becoming peaceful nations, they declare war against Israel and launch rockets at Israel. Israel eventually is forced to invade to find the rockets and to destroy the rockets, and thus become the "occupiers" again, against their will.
The actions of the territories are their OWN responsibility, not Israel's. Their hardships are of their own making, not Israel's. If they want to be free and independent, they must become peaceful, stop declaring war on Israel, and stop launching bombs and missiles into Israel.
If the territories were full-fledged nation-states, their actions of launching rockets into another nation's sovereign lands would result in their total destruction by that other nation, not merely a short-term invasion and short-term occupation. As I have said before, the PA appears to show no interest in becoming a true nation but prefers rather to simply be a platform from which to launch terror strikes against Israel. The first step to their nation-hood is to become a peaceful non-violent neighboring territory.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
My Conclusions -- The Daily Rocket Attacks against Israel
After having put up my post asking why no one is protesting Israel being attacked with 200 terrorist rockets every day for the past few years, and after listening to the replies on this forum and others, I have formed a conclusion. It is an unhappy set of observations.
1) A segment of America truly believes that Israel (the Jews) deserve to be the daily victims of terrorist attacks, and so, sadly, that group of Americans have no sympathy for the ongoing Jewish plight.
2) A segment of the American people are radically racist, biased against the Jewish race and the Jewish religion.
3) Many Americans have abandoned their critical thinking skills and have decided to simply believe virtually all of the exaggerated propaganda and misstatements originating from the Palestinian Authority and its publishing arm, Al Jazeera.
4) A majority of the American population does not know anything of the genuine history of ancient or modern Palestine (for example, very few Americans know that Israel proper was actually named Palestine around the first century, the entire nation was once named Palestine, and that the Jews were the original Palestinians).
5) Americans close their eyes and pretend they do not know that Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority have all at one time or another acted upon the shared goal of exterminating the nation of Israel and deporting all Jews from the Middle East.
6) Many Americans approve of the Palestinian Authority’s official racist policy of evicting all Jews from Gaza and the West Bank while disapproving of that same kind of housing discrimination in the US. Few Americans actually know that the nation of Israel does not sanction official racism and does allow Muslims, Arabs, Christians, Palestinians, and others to buy land and live in homes side-by-side with Jews inside the borders of national Israel.
7) Very many Americans believe the myth that Israel somehow stole the nation of Israel and the "disputed territories" from the Arabs, even though since 2000 B.C. Israel/Palestine has always been occupied in whole or in part by Jewish nationals who legally had title to the individual land parcels (until the Jews were evicted from Gaza and the West Bank some 70 years ago).
It is a shame, a true embarrassment, that Americans in general have such a bankrupt understanding of the truth about the land of Israel. Like so many fabled ostriches with heads in the sand so many of us have employed willful ignorance as a way of not facing the light of truth with its sometimes harsh reality. So it is likely such people will continue to cheer whenever a bus bomb kills dozens of Israelis and will applaud each day as hundreds of rockets fall onto Israeli houses. This should not be so.
Americans need to learn from history, for indeed, they run the risk of repeating the errors and horrors of other racist and anti-Jewish national entities of the past. Those who do not learn from history (or bother to know of history) will repeat the worst elements of it.
The hundreds of daily random terrorist attacks on the civilian citizens of Israel are a crime and a crying shame. It is horrible that so much of the free world thinks that the Jews “deserve” the constant terror attacks of which they are victims.
It is all but incomprehensible that so many of the democratic peoples of the globe should think that the nation of Israel has no right to use any force at all to stop the terrorists. Perhaps the terrorists have already won after all.
Post Script: Booth added this comment after watching the evening news:
I just watched the evening news and they conducted an interview with a man they identified as the principal leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashal was the name I believe they showed under his image during the interview. A reporter asked him why Hamas did not want Israel to remain as a nation in the Middle East. He replied that Israel, the whole nation, is occupying Palestinian land and until Israel ceases to exist the hostilities are inevitable.
That about sums up the entrenched problem. Hamas is not so much concerned that some Israeli soldiers patrol the perimeters of the disputed territories, but that Jews are actually living in Israel proper. That is what Hamas means by "occupied territory." With that as the condition of peace, I have no idea what it will take to bring violence to an end, because I seriously doubt the Jewish race will simply say, "Time to abandon Israel again and go find a new homeland."
Peace to you.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Lincoln -- One Christian’s Movie Review
The short review: Excellent. Dramatic. Go see it.
Really, I wanted to end the review there. But I will expand a bit. The movie is a dramatic replay of the last few months of Lincoln’s life. Thematically the focus is on his epic attempt to pass the 13th amendment to the US constitution.
Visually the movie feels realistic, placing you right into that era. Dramatically the movie is intellectually intense. However, there is very little action or special effects, with the exception of the graphic war scene that opens the film. Directing-wise the story unfolds at a crisp pace. Casting is superb, utilizing a tremendous number of aging but awesome actors; Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones almost steal the movie, almost.
Perhaps the only notable flaw in the movie is its ending. There is a scene where Lincoln takes his leave, uttering a famous line of his, and you say to yourself, “That is the perfect ending” as you begin shedding tears. Regrettably, the movie continues, and in the middle of the next two scenes you find yourself saying, “That sure ruins the perfect ending.” Nonetheless, the strength of the movie as a whole carries the day and the unneeded ending scenes will soon be forgotten.
Is this movie family friendly? That depends on your family. There is a fair amount of profane language. Also, the frame is the Civil War so there is one scene of graphic violence and snippets of the dead and maimed throughout. Such things can be difficult for sensitive individuals.
As a whole, this movie is a cinematic master piece. Also, it is a captivating look into the life of an historic treasure in the life of Abraham Lincoln. Go see it.
Post Script: Booth added this response to a comment made by a reader:
Reader, you are correct, it is not our job (as Christians) to transform the world into a paradise, for God will do that, but rather it is our job to be salt and light. Salt must remain tasty and simultaneously anti-biotic in nature while light must be displayed in the most obvious locations possible to expose the most darkness possible.
How can we be either salt or light if we are silent? Are not our words the things the Spirit uses to convict and thus overcome evil in individuals? Is not our speech a principal element of the light which reveals to every person their darkness which leads them to embrace the saving light?
We must redeem the days of our own lives so that we can be useful in redeeming the lives of others.
Besides, silent is not in my nature. :)
Post Script: Booth added this response to a comment made by a reader who does not believe Lincoln had any compassion for slaves:
What we think we know about historical figures depends much upon what we have been told by teachers, read on social media, and read from books.
From a very early age (starting at age 10) I was interested in understanding the historical reality of Lincoln, as opposed to the myths, fairytales, southern propaganda conceived during the Civil War to undermine Lincoln, and worse, the propaganda spread during his election campaigns to get him into office. Consequently I read diverse materials never mentioned or referenced when I was in school.
Ultimately I was able to conclude that the real man Lincoln was truly heartbroken over slavery and was willing to risk much personally to bring it to an end nationally. He was a good lawyer and had both the intelligence and power to lead that effort, even during the war.
Lincoln's father once uprooted and moved the entire family for the principal reason that he was disgusted by slavery and wanted his family to be out of the influence of pro-slavery advocates.
I am very aware that revisionist historians have recently made presumptive guesses about possible alternative motives which they think could have driven Lincoln, but none of those really line up with Lincoln's own writings or his documented actions. Since those recent theories lack credible historical evidences, I am convinced that Lincoln placed himself, his administration, and to some extent the nation itself at significant risk for the goal of legally ending slavery.
I am sorry you did not enjoy the film or see the value in it. Never before have I seen a movie focus on the political drama of the 13th amendment, which I thought brought a fresh view of the entire affair. Pro or anti-Lincoln I thought this movie was stunning and engaging. Did you not even find the film's view of life in Civil War era D.C. captivating?
Thanks for speaking up.
Post Script: Booth added this response to a comment made by a reader who opined that the movie idealized Lincoln:
Yes, the movie seemed very reliable with regard to accurately reflecting the realities of Lincoln's life (with some dramatic license allowed): Lincoln was depicted as both emotionally violent and passionate while also kind, Mary as overspending the personal budget on parties and decorations while also being a bit mentally borderline, Lincoln as being concerned about morality but also willing to stretch those morals for the sake of political expediency, and the expected interactions between those who were racist and those who were not.
It would be a serious error to paint the man as if he were a cardboard cartoon (all one way or the other without complexities) and similarly improper to categorize the entire nation and all the lawmakers as being racist or supersaints. Just like today, the world was made up of a mixture and we must rely on historically valid documents to try to find the clearest and most accurate understanding.
Regarding one contemporary error (or revisionist historical myth), slavery was not ended due to the need to do so for political ends (there were far more simplistic means available than that) rather slavery was abolished (by both presidential proclamation and by constitutional amendment) only because a majority of lawmakers believed slavery as implemented by the Americans was the type of slavery that was inhuman while some lawmakers also saw it as the kind of sin that sent the perpetrators to Hell (1 Timothy 1:10--"kidnapper" means one who steals a human, one who takes a man into slavery by illegitimate force).
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Left Unsaid, Something Missing from Scripture
Paul left something out when he wrote 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. It is something that I have scoured the Scriptures to find, without success. We take it as a matter of fact, yet it seems to have no foundation because it is absent from the Word of God.
Everyone “knows” that a pastor must first hear a call to the ministry before he can pursue that vocation. Some evangelical seminaries even make an essay about the candidate’s personal calling to ministry an entrance requirement. But is this thing that everyone “knows” a thing that is biblical?
To be sure everyone ought to know that prophets all receive a personal message from God to speak God’s own words. Literally hearing God’s inerrant verbal call is what being a prophet is all about. Paul, an apostle and prophet, talked quite extensively about the revelations he received from God and the commands he heard from the Lord to go and evangelize. And of course, all the twelve apostles (also all prophets) received a personal call from Jesus when He was on earth.
Failures Expose the Myth
But what of non-prophets? Do they hear inerrant verbal calls from God to enter various ministries? Ostensibly not. A staggering percentage of pastors will resign or be ejected from their first churches and leave the ministry before their first five years are up. A majority of missionaries (overseas evangelists who double as pastors of the churches they are planting) will “fail” and leave the mission field in spite of feeling they might have been called to ministry.
Scriptures themselves offer no evidence of a pastoral call. Paul speaks of a pastor having an aspiration or desire to minister (1 Timothy 3:1). He also lists out guidelines by which men like Timothy and Titus might evaluate candidate pastors for suitability in the ministry. Yet, oddly Paul does not tell Timothy and Titus that these men must have first heard a “calling” into ministry.
All Christians receive that unheard call to salvation (Hebrews 3:1, 2 Peter 1:10) when the Holy Spirit silently convicts them of sin and they repent. But all Christians in all places in all times get that call (1 Corinthians 1:2) and it is not unique to those gifted as pastors.
Paul thought it important to remind people that he had received a calling to be an apostle (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1), in fact the last apostle ever to be called (1 Corinthians 15:7-9). John thought it important to inform the world that those who professed an apostolic calling after Paul were all false apostles (Revelation 2:2).
No matter how important the subject of calling is to validate a prophet or an apostle, there is no similar calling mentioned by which to validate a man as a pastor. There is only his calling to salvation and his desire and ability to serve by which to validate him. It is certain that God grants the man the desire to minister (Proverbs 21:1) and enables him with spiritual gifting (1 Corinthians 12:4-5, 29, Ephesians 4:11), but that does not equate to a “call to ministry” especially when compared to the verbal and inerrant call prophets and apostles received.
So, the pastoral calling to ministry is a fiction, unsupported by Scripture. That explains why so many claim a pastoral calling yet fail in the ministry. It is not God’s inerrant prophetic call that has failed but a mistaken notion that there is such a thing as a pastoral call to ministry.
Desire to be a Pastor
What should a man do if he “feels” he is “being led” into the ministry? He cannot rely on a mystical calling into the pastorate, for that test is not found in the Scriptures. He must do as Paul instructed Timothy and Titus: be sure there is a desire to serve and to work as a pastor, check to be sure there is a claim to saving faith, carefully examine the moral character of the total man, and test and evaluate the ability to accurately teach and defend the Word of God.
If a man thinks he meets the guidelines of being a pastor no matter what his age, my strongest recommendation is to first enroll in seminary (preferably an accredited evangelical seminary, traditional brick-and-mortar or online--though the online route tends to be much more difficult for very many reasons). Few churches teach hermeneutics from the pulpit anymore, and no man should teach and preach as a pastor without being trained in that skill set regardless of his natural and spiritual talents. If seminary seems too imposing a task the would-be pastor must examine his heart to see if perhaps he is too spiritually lazy to do the hard work required of a lifetime pastor.
After seminary the candidate pastor should become the understudy (unpaid and working at a secular job if necessary) of a pastor who is already respected as an excellent teacher and expositor of the Word. Only then would I recommend seeking to become the pastor of one’s own church or to go into the field as a fulltime missionary.
A Good Work
Take a desire to labor as a pastor seriously, but not as if it were the inerrant calling and command of God. If the moral character and desire are present, then work hard at becoming trained. Do not be eager or overly anxious to become a senior pastor while still very young in life. Seek to be tested in the role first. To become a pastor is a good labor, not an inerrant calling.
Post Script: Booth added this response to a comment made by a reader who read into Acts 20:28 a pastoral call:
Hi Reader. Thanks for the verse. It is possible to perhaps imply a kind of a calling via Acts 20:28, but Acts 20:28 is more likely just a general observation or rather a charge to the assembled church leaders that they are obligated to the Holy Spirit to properly execute their office responsibilities.
Similarly, Paul could have been addressing a group of Christian slaves and said, "pay attention to your chores of which the Holy Spirit has made you slaves..." In such a case we would not readily say that Paul was teaching that Christians are called into slavery, but rather we would observe that as slaves Christians are obligated to fulfill their responsibilities because it is God, the Holy Spirit, whom has placed them into that unhappy life situation for His secret purposes.
In our area recently a large local church "called" (I would prefer to say hired) a pastor. The search committee boasted that the Lord had "led" the man to them and that the whole church should vote to make him the pastor because it was revealed to them that it was the Lord's secret will to have that man shepherd them for years to come. They did; they all voted to hire him. About a year later (this past month) they discovered that the man, before they hired him as pastor, had become a practicing homosexual and had even lured a married man from their own congregation into that lifestyle. Obviously the "pastor" never intended to be their pastor for very long (he had been making exit plans since he first arrived) and easily slid into a planned alternative career.
In other words, being an unqualified unethical man before he even took the job he knew he was not "called" (by God) to be a pastor at all much less of that church, yet, he held that position. As such, even as a man not called to the pastorate, Paul's injunction to him would still be true. The Holy Spirit had allowed the search committee to be deceived and had allowed the man to succeed in his sinful and unholy mission, and so was and is responsible to God for how he "cared" for the church under his administration. In other words, he was NOT called to be a pastor, yet, the Acts 20:28 passage still applied to him. Acts 20:28 is not about getting a calling, but about discharging well a God-given responsibility.
By any meaningful definition, the man was not "called" to be a pastor of that church. Unless we want to change the meaning of "called" to also include those who God forbids to be pastors (those who are such sinners that they violate 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1), in which case the word called is utterly pointless.
Select this line to continue reading into the next month's blog archives.